Part of a balanced daily something

This was supposed to be one of the easy Living Out Loud projects, but it has kicked my ass. About three weeks ago, I stupidly picked food as the theme for this project, wanting participants to talk about their relationship with food over the years, the foods they love or hate and to sample something they wouldn't have otherwise. It seemed simple. And then for me, the pregnancy hormones kicked in. I have not really had many food aversions or cravings lately (other than I have eaten more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the last two months that I have probably since I was 10). But my nose recently has kicked into overdrive. I can smell Rich's hair and tell you everything he's eaten that day. I made him change his shirt before bed the other night because I could smell the synthetic fibers in his Under Armor shirt. And while there are some things that smell great, there are a lot of things that don't.

But let's get back to talking about food. My challenge was actually to find something I wouldn't eat. I have never been a picky eater. I would lament to Rich that I made a project I couldn't complete and he would ask me, "well, what's something you don't like to eat?" Uh ... seriously, I got nothing. Oh, I'm not particularly fond of the texture of octopus, but I don't mind the flavor. Uh, I used to not like cooked spinach but like it now. I remember as a small child assuming that honey roasted peanuts were just a vessel to get salt and sugar into your system and would spit the peanuts out, but now I eat them whole. So I don't have a lot of aversions.

Food has never carried much significance for me, though. There aren't foods that I can't live without. There aren't foods that I'll overeat (probably because I have been measuring and counting my food for over 20 years because of diabetes so it's just what I do). When I was a teenager, my father would come home and ask me when I had eaten last and I honestly had a hard time remembering. We rarely ate as a family growing up (there wasn't enough room at the kitchen table, but that's another story), but I never missed it.

For my new food portion of this project, I thought about trying to make something I hadn't made before. I have fond memories of the Chinese food Jeremy and I would make but I never actually did any of the cooking for that, always the sous chef for his works of art. I wanted to be able to replicate those spring rolls to prove to myself that I could have that tasty goodness without having to convince my ex-husband to cook me dinner (awkward!). But when I stepped into the asian grocery yesterday to get ingredients, I thought I was going to hurl. It was like someone had smacked me in the face with a fish! All I could muster was some frozen edamame, some napa and bean sprouts and some spring roll wrappers. All while holding my breath. So yeah, that wasn't going to happen.

Then I thought I would try to cook something that I had never successfully done before. When I was a teenager, I got a wild hair to try making eclairs. I don't know if you've ever seen an eclair recipe but it's a bit complex for your average 14 year old. My teenage baking project was awful! The chocolate was sticky, the filling was runny and the eclair "bodies" themselves exploded. Not a success. But then earlier this week I got in a furious argument with the cat and banged up my finger pretty badly. It's swollen and I still have a hard time typing. Working a pasty bag was just not going to go well.

So I went for trying to find something I wouldn't normally eat. I give Rich credit for the idea on what I should try. He is a frequent shopper at Wawa in the mornings and usually gets a breakfast power protein nutra bar of some sort. They always look tempting and I always think I would like a bite of them, but each time I try one I'm tempted to just spit it out. I finally had found a food I didn't like.

So I went by Wawa's on the way home and spent $21.34 on eight different poisonous bricks nutritious protein bars. I took notes on each bar, much like notes at a wine tasting. And much like a wine tasting, my tolerance for their flavors and my descriptions of them became more colorful as I worked my way through them. So I give you my review of the following eight snacks.

8 protein bars

Zone Perfect double dark chocolateZone Perfect double dark chocolate (190 calories, 22g carbs, 1g fiber, 6g fat, 12g protein) $1.59 This was my first bar and opening the package, it smelled good. Chocolatey. I could handle this. But the taste led something to be desired. It started out like chocolate but finished off like Tums. I could probably finish it but would not be excited about it. I rate it a 3 out of 5.

CLIF BUILDER'S cocoa dipped double decker crisp barCLIF BUILDER'S cocoa dipped double decker crisp bar (270 calories, 30g carbs, 4g fiber, 8g fat, 20g protein) $2.29 Opening this package I was overwhelmed with the smell of Play-Doh. Checking the ingredients this makes sense given the first ingredient is soy protein isolate. I took a bite and OMG it tastes like Play-Doh! Ugh! I started wailing about this in the dining room and Rich came in and told me he eats one of these bars every morning and it's one of his favorites. I stared at him like he had two heads. I made a mental note to not sniff his hair on those days anymore. I rate this a 2 out of 5 in that I could finish it, but only under duress.

PowerBar Protein Plus vanilla yogurt flavorPowerBar Protein Plus vanilla yogurt flavor (300 calories, 38g carbs, 1g fiber, 6g fat, 23g protein) $2.69 After the trauma of the previous bar I was hesitant to move on. But this bar smelled fruity, appealing, dare I say good. The texture was a little odd and tough to chew, but the flavor was very fine. Interestingly despite the package label, this bar tasted nothing like vanilla or yogurt. I rate this bar a 4 out of 5 in that I might even buy one of these again if hungry and nothing else appeals.

Supreme Protein caramel nut chocolateSupreme Protein caramel nut chocolate (360 calories, 34g carbs, 1g fiber, 16g fat, 30g protein) $2.99 It was hard to actually pick a name for this bar because of all the words plastered on the packaging. Quadruple layer! Powered by whey isolate! Carb Conscious! Zero Trans Fat! My first complaint is anything that says it's carb conscious and then has as much carbs in it as a Snickers bar or can of Coke. Who are they kidding? Plus this bar was HUGE. Who needed all this for breakfast or a snack? The bar itself smelled heavenly - like a 100 Grand candy bar. After some underwhelming contenders before this, things were looking up. And then I bit into it. Holy shit it TASTES like a 100 GRAND bar! So good! I could eat all of this bar! Good thing they put so much of it in the package so I wouldn't have to shiv someone who tried to share with me. I rate this a 5 out of 5 on eatability. The only problem is it has the health factors of a giant 100 Grand bar that had some protein injected in it. And I don't want to know what they injected in there to make it tasty and full of protein. Whatever it is, it's probably bad for the baby.

PURE PROTEIN HIGH PROTEIN DOUBLE LAYER BAR strawberry shortcake flavorPURE PROTEIN HIGH PROTEIN DOUBLE LAYER BAR strawberry shortcake flavor (280 calories, 29g carbs, 0g fiber, 6g fat, 29g protein) $2.99 I'm not sure I can even talk about this bar I'm so angry at it. Opening the package I was knocked over by the smell of STRAWBERRY! I now understand why all the words on the package were upper case. It was like sticking strawberry potpourri up my nose! Or grinding it up and snorting it. Actually, it was like grinding up hundreds of Strawberry Shortcake dolls and then snorting that, so you got that faint hint of plastic with it. The taste was worse than the smell, if that's possible. It was like eating ground up Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Oh, but with a Flintstone vitamin aftertaste. Not a fan. I rate this a 1 out of 5. In fact after tasting my sample and noting the nutrition info, I had to throw the bar into the trash can outside because it was killing me. My baby may be born smelling of strawberries and I will blame this company for it.

Snickers Marathon Protein Bar caramel nut rushSnickers Marathon Protein Bar caramel nut rush (290 calories, 40g carbs, 10g fiber, 10g fat, 20g protein) $2.29 Finally a bar with some fiber in it! I won't get into how important fiber is for me these days (or at least I'll spare you that for another post) but I have been amazed at how all these bars have almost no fiber in them. The bar itself smelled like a Snickers bar, or at least a close cousin to a Snickers bar. Maybe what a Snickers bar in Europe would smell like, where things never taste quite the same over there. The consistency was kind of gross, like eating a one of those dry mud pies you made as a kid (not that you ate those pies you made, but if you did, it would be a lot like this). It tasted peanut-y but more like the ground up shells of peanuts than the actual peanuts themselves. I think I just figured out how they got that fiber in there. But the taste was one of the few to actually improve the more you chewed it. I rate it a 3 out of 5 in that I could have finished it but probably wouldn't seek it out again.

BIG 100 COLOSSAL super cookie crunchBIG 100 COLOSSAL super cookie crunch (410 calories, 41g carbs, 3g fiber, 14g fat, 32g protein) $2.99 Again with the huge font. This bar seemed like a dare to me in the store. I was also a little creeped out when I mis-read meal replacement bar as meat replacement bar. I may have gagged a little. Keep in mind I was on disgusting bar number five, though. The next disturbing aspect of this "meal" was that it was pretty difficult to extract from the packaging. I was afraid I would not have a salvageable wrapper to display once I got it out. It just kinda stuck in there like paste. Yum. The bar did not have a strong smell, but the only thing I can describe it as is Barbie doll. Ladies, you know when you would play with your Barbie dolls out in the hot sun or maybe get the blow dryer a little too close to them when drying their hair so their boobs get all wrinkled? It was that warm plastic smell. The texture was a bit like astronaut ice cream. It crumbled and then seemed to grow in my mouth like eating foam insulation. But amazingly, this bar had zero taste! The only descriptive flavor on the packaging was "cookie" and they weren't very clear on what kind of cookie. It felt like about an hour went past as I tried to swallow this one bite. It certainly would take as long as a meal to eat it. I rate this a 1 out of 5 in that it was pretty much a giant waste of my time and really kind of bad for you nutritionally. But it's got metamyosyn protein in it! I don't want to think about what that is.

Detour Lower Sugar deluxe whey protein energy bar chocolate chip caramel flavorDetour Lower Sugar deluxe whey protein energy bar chocolate chip caramel flavor (340 calories, 34g carbs, 2g fiber, 9g fat, 30g protein) $2.99 I must admit at this point I was not inspired to eat any more of these. Had I not screwed myself by taking a photo of all eight bars together I might have given up a few bars ago. But I was determined to finish. The scent of this bar was reminiscent of cheap Easter chocolate, a chocolate bunny to be exact. Maybe one your mom insisted on putting in the freezer to make it last longer so you had to gnaw on it like a rawhide every day after school hoping to get some stale shavings of chocolate before dinner. The taste was surprisingly good. It tasted pretty much like cheap Easter bunny chocolate, only without all the freezer burn and ... wait ... oh, no ... nope, it's getting worse. Chocolate quickly transformed to acrid medicine taste to end on a literal sour note. I rate this a 3 out of 5 because if I could eat it fast enough I could keep that bunny flavor going and just try to wash out the medicine taste with a Coke. Super healthy!

Dear lord, I never thought I would get to the end of this. This is just a lesson to myself to not bite off more than I can chew for one of these projects (get it? HA!). I hope you learned something from all this and at least won't make the same mistakes I have.

And I still hope to make spring rolls and eclairs some day soon because they will surely taste better than these bars did.