Thursday, September 6, 2018

Wendy's Great Eight for September 2018 #WendyGreatEight #tryit

It's September...and the Summer heat is finally moderating in Central Texas. It's definitely not Fall weather yet, but I'll take it! It's also time for another edition of my monthly Wendy's Great Eight column! I have some really great new...and new-to-me food items to share with you this month. So...let's get going!

(1) Coffee-mate natural bliss® Products. One of my favorite daily indulgences is a morning iced coffee latte. I have a couple of tips to reduce calories and fat in my little treat, though. I start with a bit of cold coffee, then I add a cup of vanilla almond milk. Finally, I add a bit of flavored creamer for sweetness and added flavor. Lately, I've been using Coffee-mate's natural bliss® creamers. They're made with simple ingredients and all-natural flavorings -- like milk and cream from cows that do not receive growth hormones, cane sugar, and natural flavorings. Don't use dairy? No problem! natural bliss® creamers also come in non-dairy almond milk and coconut milk varieties. All of the flavors I've tried are smooth and lightly sweet, without being overly sweet. My personal favorite flavor is the Honey Cream almond milk creamer. This non-dairy creamer is flavored with Madagascar vanilla extract, cane sugar, and honey -- I love the warm sweetness it adds! For those mornings when I'm in a big hurry, I also love the natural bliss® Cold Brew Coffee! It's bottled ready-to-pour over ice and enjoy on the go...and it contains nonfat milk, cold brew coffee, cane sugar, and cream. An 8-ounce serving over ice has just 135 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 6 grams of protein, and 18 grams sugar. Coffee-mate's natural bliss®  line has definitely improved my morning coffee game!

(2) Peet's True Iced Espresso Canned Beverage. When I make my morning iced coffee, I feel that it's important to start out with a quality coffee for my that is smooth and intense (without being overly strong). One of the best brands I've tried recently is Peet's line of True Iced Espresso, which comes in ready-to-drink cans. I typically use half of a can for a morning's iced coffee. Each variety starts with Peet's signature dark espresso -- flavored with simple, all-natural ingredients. Peet's True Iced Espresso comes in four great flavors: Black and White, Caramel Macchiato, Vanilla Latte, and Mocha. They can definitely be enjoyed straight from the can for an on-the-go beverage...but I personal use them as a base for my morning iced coffee. With 100-to-130 calories for an 8-ounce serving, Peet's True Iced Espresso is an indulgence that won't leave you feeling guilty all day! It can be found a major retailers nationwide or ordered directly via Peet's website.

(3) Morningstar Farms Meat Lovers 1/4-lb Vegan Burger. There's nothing quite a classic hamburger...but I am watching my fat and cholesterol intake these days. That means eating more plant-based meals. Morningstar Farms recently introduced a new Meat Lovers 1/4-lb. vegan burger that makes a mean cheeseburger -- with a fraction of the fat in a traditional burger! Each 280-calorie patty provides 27 grams of plant based protein and 26% less fat than a regular beef patty -- and 4 net carbs! Also important does it *taste*?!?!? We love these huge burgers -- the texture is very meat like, and the taste is great! We add lots of veggies, a slice of lowfat cheese, and our favorite condiments and thoroughly enjoy these plant-based burger patties on our weekly "vegetarian days"! To find Morningstar's new Meat Lover...and Veggie Lover...1/4-lb. vegan burger near you, visit Morningstar's handy online store locator.

(4) Tillamook Sauce Starter. Cheese is one of my favorite foods...and one of my favorite cheese brands is Tillamook! We visited the factory during a trip to Oregon a few years ago, which only affirmed my love for this delicious cheese. I recently tried their new line of Sauce Starter kits...and I'm hooked! Each package includes a blend of coarsely shredded Tillamook cheese and a spice packet. Add the ingredients and milk in a saucepan...then heat and stir until the cheese melts and you have a creamy, cheesy sauce! Tillamook Sauce Starters come in four flavors: Creamy Alfredo, Aged Cheddar, Three Cheese, and Spicy Queso. I used this versatile product two ways so far. First, I used the  Creamy Alfredo to make a sauce for a butternut squash spiral "pasta" skillet. Then, I used the Three Cheese to make a pot of cheesy broccoli-cauliflower soup. I can't wait to use the Spicy Queso to make queso dip for the Texans game this weekend! These Tillamook Sauce Starters are on the short list for my Best New Food Item of 2018 designation. To find these sauce kits near you, use the search engine found at Tillamook's website.

(5) GoMacro Macrobars. I'm always looking for new protein-based bars to try. If I'm going to have an afternoon or post-gym snack, I want it to offer lots of nutritional benefits instead of empty calories! GoMacro's Macrobars have been in regular rotation with my lately. These yummy vegan nutrition bars are made from simple, clean ingredients...and they're certified organic, vegan, gluten-free, Kosher, and non-GMO! These bars come in *elevent*  great flavors, so there's literally something for everyone's taste buds. My personal favorite flavor is a classic: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Pleasure. It's mildly sweet, with chopped peanuts and fair-trade chocolate chips. This filling bar has 280 calories and 11 grams of organic plant-based protein. The best way to try the entire range of Macrobars is to order a Sampler Pack, which contains every flavor! Macrobars can also be purchased individually at leading retailers nationwide.

(6) Miss Jones Baking Co. Dessert In a Cup. I am constantly fighting my desire to eat healthy with my raging sweet tooth. If there's a package of cookies or a cake in the house, it's hard to stop at just one piece. That's why I was so happy to discover Miss Jones Baking Co.'s Dessert In a Cup! They're the perfect portion for when I want "a little something sweet" without a ton of calories. Simply add a tablespoon each of water and oil, stir and microwave...and you've got a delicious organic, portion-controlled dessert or snack! Miss Jones' Dessert In a Cup comes in six amazing flavors: Vanilla Cake, Double Chocolate Chip Cake, Confetti Pop Cake, Chocolate Chip Cake, Fudgy Brownie, and Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie. For chocolate cravings, I found that the Fudgy Brownie provided immediate relief! Depending on the flavor you choose, you'll only use between 150 and 250 calories...pretty good for something that tastes like a huge indulgence! These amazing little dessert cups can be found at grocers across the U.S. They can also be purchased via the Miss Jones online store.

(7) Lundberg Family Farms Grounded Snacks® Baked Grain Bites. Sometimes, you just to snack on something crunchy! Unfortunately, most chips and crispy snacks have an unhealthy amount of fat and calories. I recently tried Lundberg Family Farms' Grounded Snacks® Baked Grain Bites. They're made with a mixture of grains, including organic brown rice. They come in a range of sweet an savory flavors that include Garlic & Herb, Aged Parmesan, Smoky Sweet BBQ, spicy White Cheddar & Jalapeno, and -- my personal favorite -- sweet Vanilla Chai! Each 22-piece serving contains just 130 calories and 4 grams of fat. Each bite is crunchy, with a perfect amount of flavoring on the outside. It's snacking...done smarter! To search for Grounded Snacks® -- by flavor -- at a store near you, visit Lundberg Family Farms' Where to Buy page. 

(8) Tommy's Superfoods Vegetable Blends. I've made a conscious effort to eat more vegetables this year, which has been a challenge at times. Austin, Texas-based Tommy's Superfoods has helped me meet my goal to eat more vegetables each week. Their tasty Non-GMO frozen vegetable blends use vegetables in a whole, healthy state. Vegetables are seasoned with herbs, spices, and olive oil...then flash frozen within 8 hours of harvest to ensure freshness and flavor. What they don't add is a ton of salt or sauces, which lets the natural flavor of the ingredients shine. Tommy's features creative combinations like Root Fusion, which includes yellow carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, and apples -- perfect for Fall! My personal favorite blend is Cauliflower and Green Beans, which are seasoned with garlic and chili pepper. To find Tommy's Superfoods Vegetable Blends near you, visit their helpful Where to Find tool.

Disclosure: The companies who manufacture the products feature in this column provided me with samples to facilitate inclusion. I only recommend foods and kitchen items in Wendy's Great Eight that I have personally tried and enjoyed. 

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