Gourmet Dinner Party on the Cheap: How the Right Grocery List Can Help

17 11 2011

Photo by Evan Bench | flickr.com

I plan on reviving this blog over winter break once I get my life back in some form. In the meantime, here’s a guest post by Melissa C. of the Blog Content Guild offering some handy tips on entertaining at home with a simple trip to the grocery store — just in time for the holidays!

With a bottomless wallet, who can’t throw a pretty sweet dinner party?  But, what if you want to show your friends a fun, classy evening at your humble abode on a shoestring budget?  A little planning put into your grocery list can let you do just that.  There is no shame in asking your guests to bring something to the party other than their fabulous selves.  Most people are more than happy to show off their contribution to the evening’s fare.  The most important piece of the dinner party puzzle is having a place to host it and a leader to herd it!

It is a common courtesy to show up to a dinner party with a gift for the host, and wine is pretty standard.  Encourage this, and maybe even take it a step further.  Have a “steak” party where everyone shows up with beer or wine and a favorite cut of meat.  You can please your vegetarian friends too by grilling up some eggplant, red bell peppers, purple onion, zucchini and Portobello mushrooms for sides that double as a veggie main course.  Using what produce is in season can also save you a few bucks.

If you plan on cooking a lot at home for guests or even just for yourself, consider buying a few herb plants.  A plant can cost $3-4 and yield for months and sometimes years. Think of all those pesto, salad dressings, marinades and dipping sauces!

When guests arrive, have a few hors d’oeuvres set out, like sliced apples and cheese, crackers, bowls of nuts and grapes.  Have an ice chest ready to house the beers and wine glasses and openers handy for people to help themselves.  Offer to marinate the steaks and/or veggies with a basic marinade prepped before the party of extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper, chopped fresh rosemary, oregano and thyme, maybe even a little fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar if you like.  Place the steaks and veggies in separate zip-lock bags with the marinade and let them sit while you welcome your guests.

Right as you pull the steaks off the grill let them rest for a couple of minutes while you toss fresh, mixed greens with this basic vinaigrette.  Serve family style or set up a buffet line and tuck in!

After people have feasted on salad, grilled veggies and steak, it’s time for dessert. Pick up a pound of coffee from a local café or roaster for a better tasting, less expensive alternative to imported coffee from a gourmet market.  Also, to save money, you are better off baking a cake before the party. Carrot and chocolate cakes don’t call for anything too expensive and are generally great hits with any crowd.

When you have purchased a few things to munch on before dinner, produce, and ingredients to make your own dressing and marinade and bake a cake, you are good to go; a fairly large group can be fed for under $100, if you plan your grocery list just right!

–Melissa C.

Anyone want s’more coffee?

29 08 2011

When it comes to coffee, I’m kind of a snob. Hold that cup o’ Joe; I’ll take a grande iced double-dirty chai-tea latte with whole milk, please and thank you.

But despite my apparently snobbish ways, I’m also an awkward mix of city-meets-country. I love the outdoors. I love camping. And my favorite part of camping is the marshmallows. If I had my way, every camping trip would involve jumbo marshmallows and a lot of extra chocolate. But I never get my way.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering what all this is about. What do coffee and marshmallows have in common? (Aside from the fact that they’re both roastable. Yes, that is now a word.)

It all started with a very nice e-mail titled “Super-caffeinated Marshmallows in 4 Flavors.” I’m pretty sure that wins the award for most intriguing title of any e-mail I’ve ever received. Anyway, it turns out that there’s this company called Caffex, and they specialize in the fusion of coffee and marshmallows. They asked me to review their product, which I think was actually very brave, because I’m not exactly the most tactful person I know.

But I was actually more than a little excited at the prospect of caffeinated marshmallows. (Even more excited than I was about low-fat Spam — imagine!) Not only am I a coffee snob, I’m kind of an addict. OK, I am an addict. And as you already know, I think marshmallows are the best. They help me release my inner five-year-old.

As good as caffeinated, coffee-flavored marshmallows sounded, I was admittedly still a little dubious. I like to drink my coffee. It goes back to that snob thing. I do not eat coffee. If the break-room coffee at work has been sitting in the carafe for a couple of days and has gotten a little squishy and … well, marshmallow-like, I leave it there. Common sense.

My misgivings about eating coffee were alleviated a little when I received the little sample package in the mail, with four individually wrapped, brightly packaged brown marshmallows inside. They didn’t look so bad. They were actually kind of cute. Cute, edible coffee. I could handle that.

CaffeMallows (as they’re called) come in four flavors: MoccaMallows JavaMallows, CoffeeMallows and TeaMallows. Yes, tea. That one, I wasn’t so sure about. Tea for me is kind of like vodka for some people. I don’t do tea unless it’s iced, heavily raspberry flavored and full of enough sugar to make me forget I’m drinking tea.

When I unwrapped each package and laid the little brown mallows out like so (so I could take a picture, just for all of you), I was suddenly not so sure again how I felt about eating these.

They look much more appetizing on the website, like squishy brownies or something. Arizona heat does not do nice things to marshmallows. To be frank, they looked like what would happen about 24 hours after my dog (if I had a dog) ate a bad burrito. To be fair, I don’t think that’s what they looked like originally. Curse you, 112-degree weather.

I tasted the marshmallows individually, starting with the MoccaMallow (the flavor of which was mocha, if you couldn’t guess). It surprised me, though not in a bad way. I thought it would be a lot sweeter. I mean, it’s technically still a marshmallow, right? But it had the bitter taste of a black cup o’ Joe with some (real, non-fake-sugary) chocolate mixed in. Let me remind you that my usual coffee delights are the barista’s equivalent of fruity drinks. This was the real stuff. And it was strong.

That being said, if you’re like most people I know and you drink coffee because you actually like the taste of coffee (by itself or with very little extra stuff thrown in), then you’ll love this. Because it really does taste like coffee. And deep down inside, past all that snobbiness, I love the taste of coffee, too. It just takes some getting past the initial shock.

I moved on to the JavaMallow, which was espresso-flavored. I had high hopes for this one. My big Christmas gift last year from my boyfriend was an espresso maker, if that gives you any idea of my feelings toward espresso.

No disappointment with this mallow — it tastes exactly like espresso. And — even better — it was a little sweeter than the mocha. New favorite.

Time for the CafeMallow (coffee-flavored). Turns out it was really similar to the espresso (even to my coffee-snob taste buds), but after some chewing and contemplating, I could tell the difference. Not as bold, a little sweeter … and a new favorite.

Teatime. I wasn’t so sure about this one.

Maybe it was the fact that I’d just taken three large bites of different types of coffee marshmallows, or maybe it was some sort of mental thing … or maybe it was just that good. But whatever the case, the TeaMallow is officially my favorite. Slightly sweet, only a little bitter, kind of herbal … tea-like, basically, only it made the flavor of tea actually palatable. (Sorry, all you tea drinkers. I really don’t like tea.)

So, there you have it. In a shocking upset, the TeaMallow is, in my opinion, the best out of the four. If you like your coffee strong and bitter, go for the MoccaMallow. Not as bitter and a little sweeter, the JavaMallow. Genuinely coffee-like, the CoffeeMallow. And even if you don’t like tea, you really should try the TeaMallow.

Oh, and also, I’m pretty sure the caffeine worked. Because I haven’t had my daily dose of coffee, and it’s 5 in the afternoon, and I feel just fine. Which is a sort of miracle, really.

The bottom line: Don’t expect CaffeMallows to be as sweet as regular marshmallows, but if you’re looking for a fluffy alternative to a cup of coffee — something that actually tastes like a cup of coffee (or tea) — give these a shot. They’re actually kind of fun to eat.

Next step for me: Buy a package of TeaMallows and make tea s’mores. Oh, the possibilities …


Ingredients: Each marshmallow is different, and I didn’t want to make your eyes fall out of your face by typing it all up. Suffice it to say they contain sugar and real coffee.
Price: Varies, but a variety four-pack is $7.99 if you order off the website.
Pros: Two words: squishy coffee. I mean, really, can it get much better?
Cons: This is really probably more of a pro, but if you’re expecting sugar, change your expectations. Oh, and also … don’t let them get hot (i.e. be outside for more than two minutes in Arizona). Because then they’ll start looking a bit like dog poop.

Breakfast on a stick

5 08 2011

Well, this is awkward. I really have no idea how to start this, because I feel like “Oh, hello” or “I’m back” would be cliched and also a little obvious. I guess the best thing to do would be to apologize for that little (or not-so-little) unannounced hiatus. Work and classes have entirely devoured my life and probably will continue to do so, but I promise I’ll keep this blog going. It just may not be as often as I’d like.

Today’s featured delicacy is something I’ve had my eye on for at least the past few weeks when I’ve been doing my grocery shopping at Fry’s. You know how you go to the mall and you see that puppy in the pet-store window and you want it so badly it’s all you can do not to think about it and you have dreams at night of playing with the puppy and it drives you crazy until you finally break down and go buy the puppy?

Yeah, this was nothing like that.

Every time I saw Jimmy Dean Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick (artificial-blueberry flavored, no less — note the “artificial”), I wanted to cry or gag or maybe both. How can such an atrocity make it onto the grocery-store shelf? And how on earth can the store keep selling it unless people are actually buying it? What a gruesome mystery.

The other day, it occurred to me that maybe instead of being revolted every time I passed these things, it was time to buy a box of them and try one for myself. And then blog about the experience, because this poor blog desperately needs some sort of jolt to bring it back to life.

So I burned over 7 bucks on a box of frozen treats from hell. I hope you’re happy (all five of you who read this).

I admit I had a slightly (OK, very) negative mindset before trying one of these would-be blueberry corndogs. I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand the concept. I know a lot of people who like to mix their breakfast food. I see family, friends and random people in restaurants (whom I watch eat, yes) do it all the time: They cut up their sausage and mix it into their scrambled eggs, with maybe a bit of maple syrup thrown in for good measure. I call these people Breakfast Multitaskers because the impression I get is that they’re in such a hurry that they can’t enjoy their breakfast foods individually but have to mash them all together.

Of all the things I’ve seen people mix, however, I’ve never, ever seen blueberry pancakes with sausage. I mean, isn’t it just common sense to keep those two things far away from each other?

When I was a kid, I was of the devout belief that food was meant to be eaten separately. My ham could not touch my potatoes or neither was edible anymore — and leave the cheese off my macaroni, please and thank you. As I grew up, I realized some food actually does taste better if you mix it together. But there’s a limit. Sausage wrapped in blueberry pancakes crosses way over that line.

Before I took a bite into the piping-hot corndog-esque breakfast food (the frozen ‘dog has to be heated up for precisely 50 to 55 seconds, by the way), I tried to clear my mind. (I call this breakfast yoga.) No bias, no revulsion (I mostly managed to quell my gag reflex) … just open-mindedness. Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad.

It was that bad.

I took a generous chomp into it and got a mouthful of rubbery blueberry pancake (which I could smell from across the room when it was in the microwave, by the way), and then the sausage made its way to my taste buds and all I could think was, “Why, God, why?” Over and over. “Why, God, why?”

Some things were never, ever meant to be mixed. I stand by that. Colorful packaging and almost-appetizing blueberry smells are not enough to convince me otherwise. Sweet blueberries, rubbery pancake coating, salty, chunky sausage … just no. Something is very wrong with that.

This is another one of those foods where I go, “Who eats this? Someone must, because the store’s still selling it.” I don’t understand. Maybe it’s the perfect to-go snack for Breakfast Multitaskers with dulled taste buds (or wide-open minds). But it’s just not for me.

I love blueberry pancakes. I like sausage if I eat it with (certain) other things. But I will continue to keep my blueberry pancakes far away from my breakfast sausage. And I think I’ll stick with eating them off a plate.

(P.S. I now have a box in my freezer full of 11 pancake-covered sausages on a stick. Any takers?)

Pancake batter: Enriched wheat flour, water, sugar, artificial flavored blueberry bits (invert sugar, sugar, water, wheat flour, algin, potassium sorbate, artificial flavor, FD&C red dye No. 3 and blue dye No. 1); contains 2% or less of: soybean oil, artificial flavor, salt, dextrose, leavening, dried egg yolk soy lecithin, nonfat dry milk, cooked in vegetable oil. Fully cooked maple sausage link made with pork & turkey, BHG & citric acid added to help protect flavor: pork, mechanically separated turkey, water, sugar; contains 2% or less of: soy protein concentrate, sodium lactate, salt, dextrose, sodium phosphates, spices, natural and artificial maple flavor, monosodium glutamate, sodium diacetate, natural flavorings, BHT, citric acid. Contians egg, milk, soy and wheat.
Price: $7.41 at Fry’s.
You know, it didn’t smell half bad when it was cooking in the microwave. You could probably use these as makeshift air fresheners. Or you could just bake blueberry muffins, because those have the same effect and they actually taste good.
Three main points come to mind. One, it’s a crumbly sausage on a stick wrapped in a spongy blueberry pancake. Two, the ingredients list. ‘Nuff said. Three, the package says the sausage is “made with pork and turkey.” Parts is parts, I guess.

Anything but chilly

26 05 2011

So … the reason I haven’t blogged in a while is because I was so scared to eat what I ate today. I bought it a couple of weeks ago, but it took me that long just to get over my fear.

Fine, fine. That’s not exactly the case. My thesis has been eating my soul. But the part about when I bought the food is true, and so is the part about me being terrified.

The food (at least I think it’s supposed to be food) in question is called Bhut Jolokia (or Naga Jolokia), and it comes from India. It’s also called ghost chili, apparently, which totally made it that much more appetizing to me. I’m not sure if the moniker implies that it kills whoever eats it, or that it’s made from corpses. From the looks of it, the answer is both. With a heat of 1,041,427 Scoville Heat Units, these things are apparently 1,488 times hotter than Tabasco sauce, which amounts to a comparatively mild 700 SHU.

In the words of Bill Nye the Science Guy, now you know.

And now I know — actually I knew before I tasted it. Which made the experience that much … deeper.

I almost ate one of these things straight out of the package, which probably would’ve been a bad choice since they’re apparently dehydrated. Fortunately, I read the back of the package first, which told me to place the chili in a bowl of hot water for 15 minutes and then use them in one of my favorite recipes. (Or, you know, eat one all by itself.)

The package also had this to say: Melissa’s Bhut Jolokia (boot joe-low-kee-uh) are absolutely the hottest chiles on the planet, testing at over 1 million scoville heat unit (habanero chiles are typically 400-500,000 Scoville and jalapeños 2,500-5,000).

As if that wasn’t lovely enough, it continued: CAUTION: This chile is extremely hot and potent!. Wear plastic gloves when handling chilis and do not touch face.

Does the inside of my mouth count as part of my face? Because I was about to put one of these there, and I wasn’t so sure about this whole plan.

By the way, in case you wondered, these things smell like ashes. I’m thinking it’s because they burned themselves up from the inside.

Instead of eating one dry (which would probably cause me to explode or something equally gory), I soaked one in a bowl for a good 20 minutes. I then donned some plastic gloves, took it out (it looked the same, just soggy), cut off the tip, paused in a moment of silence for my taste buds and put the little piece in my mouth.

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened. Absolutely nothing at all. Not even the Otter Pop I had sitting next to me as a sort of fire extinguisher, in case of emergency.

For the first half a second or so, it didn’t taste like anything. And then my tongue caught fire.

I spit it out. I had to. I couldn’t kill my poor esophagus. But it was too late to rescue my tongue. I was right in saying goodbye to my taste buds. I don’t think I’ll be using them again.

I also don’t think I’ve ever eaten an Otter Pop as fast as I just did. Unfortunately, it didn’t help. I can’t really feel my tongue … I mean, I can feel it, but the only thing I can tell you about it is that it really hurts. I think it can’t decide whether to be numb or on fire.

I can’t imagine what would happen if I took a nice big bite out of one of these things, nor do I want to imagine it. I’m pretty sure it would have something to do with hospitalization and stomach pumping. And probably a lot of water and ice chips for a long time.

When I try a weird food and decide I like it, I usually recommend it to people. Occasionally, when I’m feeling mean, I’ll recommend the nasty ones, too. But this … I would never wish this on anyone. By itself, anyway, a Bhut Jolokia isn’t food. It’s more of a fire-starter. In fact, you’d probably get the same effect by lighting a match and then chomping down on the flame, so if anyone feels like following in the stupid footsteps of yours truly, there’s a cheaper suggestion for you.

By the way, this beats both Clamato juice and green pepper jelly in terms of horrific experiences. Congratulations, Bhut Jolokia. Now give me my taste buds back and get out of my life.


Ingredients: World’s hottest chili. There you have it.
Price: $2.49 at Fry’s.
Pros: Great to use as a weapon … if you’re evil incarnate, that is.
Cons: One word: Ouch.

My hands smell like pomegranate puree

6 05 2011

I’m baaaack!

It’s finals weekend, too. Did you get that? I’m blogging on finals weekend. You should feel incredibly honored that I’m procrastinating taking time off from my ever-so-valuable studying to do this.

What is “this,” you ask? Well, just a few minutes ago, I consumed a lovely, gooey, chunky, slightly slimy bar of pomegranate pulp.

Let’s back up.

Yesterday, I was getting some shopping done at Target when I noticed they had a food section. Don’t ask me why I never noticed this before. It was a revelation. I thought there was no way I’d find anything out of the ordinary at Target (foodwise, anyway). But then I spotted the health-food aisle. And within the health-food aisle, I discovered Archer Farms fruit bars. (Archer Farms is apparently a Target brand, by the way. So Target really does make food.  Who knew?)

Now, before you call me out and tell me I’m incredibly picky, let me just say that I love fruit. I’m kind of a fruit nut … wait, that’s confusing. I don’t really like nuts. But I do like fruit. A lot.

However, as with all food I enjoy, I like fruit to a point. The picture on the front of the fruit-bar box showed flattened, shiny, sticky-looking slabs of … pomegranate, I guess. Stuck in a food processor and mixed with some unidentifiable chunks. I’m sorry, but that passes the point of appetizing.

Nasty-looking enough to try? Check. I bought them.

Before I ate one this morning, I spent some time getting acquainted with the box. On the front, under the picture of two gooey bars sitting on what looks like a piece of waxed paper on a table, it says, “Serving suggestion.” I assume this is another way of saying, “Don’t put these babies directly on your table, because they’re like gorilla glue and will never come off.” Maybe that was just my interpretation.

The other thing I noticed about the box was a little round seal toward the top that says, “Simply nutritious. Simply delicious.” How cute. I love rhymes. I’m just not sure I believed this one.

Time to find out.

Turns out these fruit bars are individually wrapped, which supported my gorilla-glue theory but is also a nice perk if you’re wanting to take them places, like the park with your children so you can punish them for squabbling by feeding them pomegranate goo.

The packages are incredibly hard to unwrap. Have you ever noticed that about healthy food? Maybe it’s just me, but I swear, every time I try to open something healthy, it’s much more difficult than opening, say, a package of Oreos. I think it’s a marketing ploy. I think they’re trying to make me feel like I need to get in better shape, and the way to do that is by eating their product. I’m on to you, health-food companies.

When I got the package open, I expected some sort of rotting stench to flood my nostrils. (Call me pessimistic, but the bars reminded me uncannily of dried fruit, and specifically raisins. I like dried fruit; I hate raisins. Raisins are grape corpses.) I was pleasantly surprised (even though I shouldn’t have been) when the scent of pomegranate wafted through the air. Yum. Maybe this wouldn’t be such a terrible experience after all.

I tore off a chunk of the bar and put it in my mouth. The experience was a very detailed, intricate one. In order to best relate it to you, I’m going to break it down in terms of the number of times I chewed it:

Chew. Hmm, not bad, not bad. I taste pomegranate. Chew. Actually, it kind of tastes like gummy bears. Chew. Actually, it kind of tastes like those gummy vitamins my mom used to make me eat when I was too chicken to swallow pills. Chew. You know, it’s kind of losing its flavor. Chew. Hey … it’s chunky. Chew. Oh gross, what are these chunks?  Chew. OK, now it doesn’t taste like anything … but it’s really gooey. Gooey cardboard. Ugh, get it out of my mouth. Swallow. All gone. Thank you, God. Where’s the milk?

In case you couldn’t gather it from reading my innermost thoughts, these things are good at first — they taste much better than they look. But the best way to eat them is probably to chew each bite about twice and then swallow it, because otherwise, it loses its flavor fast, and the only sensation left is the gummyness of the … stuff, whatever it is. Pureed fruit, I guess. Suffice it to say, it’s really not good.

The perks are that they’re (mostly) natural, they’re good for you and they taste good at first. The downside — the whole gooey, melting cardboard thing — kind of outweighs the perks, at least for me.

Oh yeah, and as I’m sure you surmised from the title, my hands still smell like pomegranate. They’re down by my keyboard and I can smell them from … up here. You know, by my face.

Can’t say the fruit bar didn’t leave an impression.


Ingredients: Apples, fruit juice concentrate (apple, pomegranate, blueberry, lemon), oligofructose, oat fiber, natural flavor, vegetable juice (black carrot, red cabbage) for color and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Price: $2.49 at Target.
Pros: The first few chews taste like pomegranate.
Cons: All subsequent chews negate the deliciousness of the first few. You have been warned.

Blogging about not blogging

15 04 2011

I’ve been blogging kind of sporadically lately. Have you noticed? I’d like to think you’ve noticed, “you” being the collective audience of probably about two people who actually read this thing, but that might be pretentious. I mean, I’ve noticed, but I’m the one blogging. Or not blogging.

Anyway, I promise there’s a reason — namely the fact that my thesis has been eating my soul. Thankfully, I’m almost at a good stopping point for the semester. Sadly, the semester is almost over anyway, so by stopping point I really mean that the semester will be over and I won’t have any other choice.

That being said, I may have to put off eating weird food for a couple of weeks (at least intentionally), or at least do it on a week-by-week basis. I’m sorry; I really am. You’re all (both?) wonderful; you really are. It’s not you; it’s me.

(I only said all that so I could use semicolons, actually.)

I’ll be back soon with something delightfully disgusting. I promise.

Oh, baby, baby

2 04 2011

When I was little, I loved food so much that I wore it on my face.

Baby food, that is. Mind you, I was really little.

Actually, that part’s not entirely true. When my little sisters were born and my mom fed them baby food, I always begged for a taste. I was … well, two years old, and then five years old. Don’t judge. That plum stuff is amazing, by the way. Oh, and the carrots.

Anyway, when I was meandering through Sprouts the other day, I was certain I’d find something blogworthy. It is Sprouts, after all. But after a good 20 minutes of searching, I nearly gave up … until I spotted the organic baby-food section.

I had brought my boyfriend along (I’m a codependent shopper), and he protested that blogging on baby food is most definitely cheating. It’s not really food, he said. My argument was that if it’s not really food, what on earth are we feeding to all the babies in the world? Soylent Green?

There was a ton of baby food in those little jars, but what caught my eye were the tubes full of mush. I don’t think I’d ever seen baby food in tubes before. I guess if you’re marketing organic food these days, you have to be a little more creative than just stamping “organic” on your packaging.

There were several to chose from, most of which were fairly normal (bananas, strawberries, carrots…), but I grabbed the most interesting one: sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples and blueberries.

Is that even a combination? What are we feeding our children?

Checking out was interesting, as it usually is when I’m standing in line with a single strange food item. The looks I get are usually priceless. And uncomfortable. This time, I also bought a bag of organic cheese puffs for good measure, but I really doubt that helped my case any.

What really didn’t help my case was that I’d brought my poor boyfriend along. The cashier and the bag lady (I probably can’t call her that, can I?) were chatting it up about how my choice of baby food was an interesting one, and the bag lady — or whatever you want to call her — said she feeds it to her nephew all the time. I’m guessing the assumption was that I was buying it for my boyfriend’s and my nonexistent child. I couldn’t decide whether telling them I was going to eat it myself would make the situation any more awkward. Probably.

I stuck it in the refrigerator when I got it home, since the package said it tastes good warm or cold. There was no “lukewarm” option, even though that’s how I always ate my baby food. Maybe this means my parents didn’t really love me. Maybe I had a dysfunctional childhood without even knowing it.

The whole tubelike-package thing proved to be kind of cool. The cap twists off and you can squirt the baby food out, and it’s resealable. I’m guessing the idea is to squirt it into a bowl and then feed it to your baby, but if it were me, I’d go spoonless and just do it bottle-style. It would save on dishes.

Of course, for the purpose of the blog, I wanted to see what it looked like, so I had to put it in a bowl. That may have been a mistake. I’m not sure how to put this delicately, so I’ll just say it: It looked exactly like baby diarrhea.

Maybe the idea was to have it look the same going in as it does coming out so babies don’t have to bother with that pesky little thing called digestion.

Plus, I guess babies don’t care what their food looks like. That’s probably a good thing.

It’s probably also a good thing that they’re generally not picky about smell, because this stuff stank of putrid bananas. Why bananas, you ask? That’s what I was wondering. I was more than a little worried as I brought the spoon up to my mouth.

The first bite was a little shocking. It definitely didn’t taste good. But by the same token, it was more interesting than bad — or maybe it was interesting because it was so terrible, like those B-list horror movies with misspellings on the cover and blood that looks like ketchup. At any rate, one bite wasn’t enough to decide what I thought. So I took another … and another…

Would you believe me if I told you I could taste every fruit mentioned in there? Pumpkins and sweet potatoes … kind of indiscernible, but check. Apples, check. Blueberries, check. This was crazy stuff.

I’m still not sure about that combination of flavors. In fact, if I didn’t focus on trying to pick out a specific flavor, the stuff kind of tasted like rotting bananas. (Again, I have no idea why.) I certainly wouldn’t sit there chowing down on it for lunch. But then again, I’m not a baby.

Maybe babies have underdeveloped taste buds, or maybe they just don’t care, kind of like dogs. Whatever the case, this stuff is definitely all-natural, and it’s really good for you. Er, for babies. And if you can muscle past the initial gag reflex and focus on how good it is for you, it’s not actually half bad.

I’m not saying I’m going to finish the stuff, because I’m not. I maintain that sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples and blueberries should not go together in any context, kind of like blue and orange. But if I ever have a baby (someday far, far down the road) and I need to buy baby food, this stuff’s chock-full of healthiness. I just won’t be partaking in the meal. Not this time.


Ingredients: Organic fruit and vegetable puree (apples, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, blueberries) and organic lemon juice.
Price: $1.49 at Sprouts
Pros: Healthy. Like, really healthy. It’s like putting a bunch of random healthy food in the blender and feeding it to your baby. It’s also much better for babies than Clamato juice.
Cons: It’s for babies. You and your more-sensitive taste buds probably don’t want to eat it.

%d bloggers like this: