Category: Food

Energy Drink Reviews – Part 5

by redshift

This is a continuation of part 4 of my energy drink reviews, a special on ABB.

  • Adrenalyn Stack – Berry Energizing: 7/10

    First you get a strong blast of berry flavor, but unfortunately it doesn’t last very long. It fades to a general fruity flavor, similar to the Subzero Red, but has a slightly chalkier texture. I didn’t get an aftertaste, though, so it’s not bad overall.

  • Ripped Force – Fruit Punch: 8/10

    This is a good option if you want a strong energy boost. The Ripped Force drinks have 200mg of caffeine along with some blend called Adrenergic Catalyst Technology. I have no idea what that means, but it gives me a bit of the jitters. The Fruit Punch variety is an interesting beast – it has a nice (though very sweet) fruity flavor at first, and then completely disappears, as if you didn’t have a drink at all. Then, there’s a bit of chalky texture, but no real aftertaste. I haven’t had that experience before, but it’s not too bad – a little better than the Berry Energizing flavor.

  • Speed Stack – Lemon Lime: 9/10

    I love the flavor on this one. That means something because I normally hate lemon-lime flavors. In this one, the citrus is toned down and it’s fairly sweet – not overly bright. The energy level is fairly strong, as in other Speed Stacks, but not as strong as a Ripped Force. There’s a bit of aftertaste, but not of chemicals, just a slightly sweet flavor.

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Energy Drink Reviews – Part 4

by redshift

American Body Building was nice enough to send over a case of their energy drinks to review. I guess I’m an “authority” on energy drinks now. (Sweet.) See part 1, part 2, and part 3 of my energy drink reviews for non-ABB products.

Note that free products are great, but they don’t affect the ratings. ABB did well overall, and there are a couple great drinks, but there were still a couple let-downs. I’ll have some suggestions for ABB at the end.

I tried five types of drinks:

  • Speed Stack – No sugar, 250mg caffeine total.

    A couple ingredients you can pronounce, a few you can’t. This gives a moderately strong energy boost, and doesn’t seem to affect the flavor much.

  • Ripped Force – 350mg of their Adrenergic Catalyst mix, i.e. a bunch of things you can’t pronounce.

    This gives a strong energy boost, but affects the flavor slightly more than Speed Stack. Some of these still got very good scores.

  • Diet Turbo Tea – No sugar, 90mg of caffeine and guarana, plus some ginseng.

    A nice light energy boost. Doesn’t affect the flavor.

  • Adrenalyn Stack – 200mg caffeine and a whole pile of things you can’t pronounce.

    The most additives, the strongest energy boost. Unfortunately, it really affects the texture and flavor of the drinks. These got some of the lower scores.

  • Speed Shot Intensity – No sugar, but a lot of things you can’t pronounce.

    One of the more potent energy mixes. It doesn’t affect flavor consistently – sometimes it’s not noticeable, sometimes it is. See the individual reviews below.

There are a number of flavors for each of the above types. Originally, I was going to review the types and the flavors separately, but they affect each other more than I expected.

So, you get 15 reviews for the price of one!

  • Speed Shot Intensity – Subzero Red: 8/10

    This reminds me of a red Hug (the little barrel-drinks) but not as overpoweringly sweet. It’s sugar-free, so I’m not sure how they managed this without getting a chemical aftertaste. The energy boost was noticeable but it didn’t keep me up all night – just what I wanted. I can’t pretend I know what all of the energy supplements in this drink are, but they work well.

  • Diet Turbo Tea – Lemon: 9/10

    Tasty, natural tea with added guarana for energy. There’s only 90mg of caffeine total, so if your only goal is energy, try one of the stronger alternatives. The lemon flavor is balanced correctly for my taste. There’s a bit of tang from something – either the ginseng or the sucralose, I think. No chemical aftertaste. The tea flavor could be a bit more pronounced, but overall it’s quite tasty.

  • Speed Stack – Lemon Tea: 8/10

    The flavor base is the same as the Turbo Tea, but this one has a much more potent energy mix. It masks the tea flavor slightly, but it still doesn’t taste like chemicals. There’s a slight sticky, sweet aftertaste. I’m impressed that they’re able to make these drinks powerful without the strong overtones of common energy drinks.

  • Ripped Force – Grape: 7/10

    Similar to the Subzero Red, this flavor reminds me of a Hug. If you remember Hugs from when you were a kid, you can imagine these drinks. Sweet, slightly artificial fruity flavor. Not quite as sweet as a true Hug, which is a good thing. The energy boost is similar to the Speed Shot and Speed Stack, but a bit stronger. I’m a little jittery.

  • Speed Shot Intensity – Purple Frost: 6/10

    Tastes like the Grape flavor of Ripped Force, but you can taste the added chemicals in this concentrated form. It’s not too strong, but since it’s noticeable, it detracts a little bit. The energy boost is on the strong side.

Stay tuned for part 5, the conclusion of the ABB reviews!

Energy Drink Reviews – Part 3

by redshift

This is a continuation of parts one and two of my energy drink reviews. I’m trying to find an energy drink to keep me productive at work without too much sugar.

Sobe Power: 8/10

This is a nice break from the artificial tastes of typical energy drinks. It’s a standard fruit punch flavor but there’s no aftertaste or any hint of additives. It’s a little on the sweet side, but at least that comes from natural sugar. Don’t rely on it for an energy spike because the additives are relatively minor and you’ll have a slight sugar crash. High marks for taste and natural ingredients.

Steaz Orange: 8/10

Steaz is going for an earthier approach to orange flavor with the addition of yerba mate. If you’ve had yerba mate you’ll know what I mean. I don’t like pure yerba mate (or some other green teas) because it tastes a little like grass. However, adding a touch of it to orange juice is a nice combination and balances the sweetness. There’s also a hint of acai, and it’s lightly carbonated. If you want something a little sweeter, Kaboom Orange doesn’t have any tea and tastes more like pure juice. Steaz is good for a change if you like yerba mate.

Emergen-C Health and Energy Water – Dragon Fruit: 7/10

Emergen-C is the strange cousin of Vitamin Water that’s quiet at the family reunions. It’s definitely more of an enhanced water than an energy drink, so if you need a powerful kick, look elsewhere. There are a few things you have to look past – it has a disconcerting pale yellow color, it smells a bit off, and it’s a little thicker than water should be. If you ignore that, it has a nice, subtle fruit flavor and 16 times the vitamins. Seriously – up to 1660% of the daily value of some vitamins like Vitamin C, hence its name. It also has “Okinawa Deep Sea Minerals,” whatever that means. (They might be the culprit for the thickness.) A bottle was pretty cheap and it’s one of the healthiest options I’ve reviewed, while still offering a little sweetness. Worth a shot.

Sobe Energy: 8/10

There’s a hint of creaminess to go with the citrus flavor. The citrus is mostly orange but you can taste some others that add a bit of depth. (The label says lemon, cherry, and elderberry.) It’s definitely on the sweet side since they added sugar to the fruit juice – 66g per bottle total. That’s usually not necessary if you’re using good juice. Otherwise, it’s good – mostly natural, smooth, and the creaminess is a great addition.

Red Bull Sugar Free: 4/10

Tastes like Rockstar Sugar Free, but a little less sweet, so it’s not like being hit in the face with a five pound bag of Smarties. That’s a good thing, and it gains a whole point for it, but this is still very run of the mill. I suppose I should have expected that with Red Bull being one of the original energy drinks. If you want to imagine the taste, just water down some sour Smarties. On the plus side, they carve a bull out of the can’s tab. (Not worth it.)

Rockstar Juiced – Guava: 6/10

So close and yet so far away. This could be really good if it weren’t so carbonated and sticky. The flavor is nice – the guava itself is soothing – but the artificial texture throws it off. It also tastes worse and worse as it warms up. I have to give this drink some credit – it’s much better than the other Juiced flavor, mango/orange/passionfruit. I’ll save that for another review, to be written when I’m depressed.

Vitamin Water 10 – Energy: 8/10

Very light and refreshing citrus flavor. The difference between Vitamin Water and Vitamin Water 10 is that the newer 10 version uses stevia as a sweetener instead of sugar. This gives it less calories, a sweeter taste, and (unfortunately) a little bit of sweet aftertaste. High marks for taste and health benefit, but I have to take away a couple points because of the slight aftertaste and because I wish the citrus were a bit more pronounced.

Energy Drink Reviews – Part 2

by redshift

This is a continuation of part one of my energy drink reviews. I’m trying to find an energy drink to keep me productive at work without too much sugar.

  • Arizona Green Tea Energy Drink: 2/10

    Tastes like honey. Honey that just fell out of a bee’s ass. A homeless bee that hasn’t showered in a year. Add in a little spoiled cough syrup. Tea could be a great base for an energy drink, but this is not the right tea, nor was it sweetened properly.

  • Monster M-80: 6/10

    80% juice. Tastes like passion fruit, pineapple, and guava. Not bad, but a little too tangy from the pineapple. Tastes a little like cough syrup. In fact, I just had some cough syrup, and it mixes well.

  • Sobe Essential – Berry Pomegranate: 8/10

    Only 7% juice, but very tasty. Raspberry and pomegranate flavor, lightly carbonated. It does have a hint of tanginess, whether from the fruit or the additives I can’t tell. A little too much sugar to be considered one of the “natural” alternatives, but it’s a great option.

  • Rockstar Sugar Free: 3/10

    Tastes like carbonated Smarties. Drinks shouldn’t taste like Smarties. I really don’t know what else to say about this one, except that Smarties are a lot better.

  • Full Throttle Zero: 7/10

    Citrusy, but it doesn’t hit you over the head. Overall it’s pretty nice, but it does have a little bit of funny taste from the additives, and I don’t know who needs so many additives in the first place. Each of the mainstream energy drink brands has a “standard flavor”, and this is probably the best of that lot.

  • No Fear Sugar Free: 7/10

    Mostly grape, a little blueberry taste. Tastes similar to the Full Throttle Zero except for the choice of fruit. A good option but a little artificial.

  • Amp Sugar Free: 7/10

    Tastes like bubble gum. Actually pleasant if you like the idea of drinking bubble gum. Not as many additives as some of the other energy drinks, and has no unpleasant aftertaste. Just bubble gum!

  • Rockstar Zero Carb: 5/10

    Slightly bitter, moderate carbonation. I can’t pick out the fruit flavors because it’s a bit medicinal, and they don’t list which fruits make up the “natural flavors.” I appreciate the lack of aftertaste, but it’s still a bit sticky and artificial. The No Fear Sugar Free has a similar fruity taste but it’s definitely a step up from this.

  • Lo-Carb Monster: 5/10

    Tastes incredibly similar to Rockstar Zero Carb. Really – just reread the last entry. Same artificiality and almost the same taste. I suspect they come from the same original manufacturer. It does add a few extra vitamins, but this is another one you could skip. Mixxd is the best of the Monsters so far.

  • Amp with Black Tea: 4/10

    This doesn’t taste as spoiled as the Amp with Green Tea, but it does have the unpleasant tea/syrup combination of the Arizona Green Tea energy drink. It leaves you with an awful aftertaste for quite a while. The only saving grace is that the honey flavor isn’t as strong as the Arizona, which makes the overall flavor a bit more like a regular Amp… but why not just drink something else?

Energy Drink Reviews

by redshift

This is the next entry in my series of short reviews. Today: energy drinks.

The goal: I want a drink that will keep me conscious and productive at work, without having too much sugar. I’m not a health nut, I’m just afraid of the diabetus. So, I found all of the natural/sugar-free energy drinks I could and slurped them down over the last three weeks. So you don’t have to.

  • Bawls Exxtra: 7/10

    Slightly fruity flavor. If you like the Bawls taste, you’ll like this; it’s similar but more powerful. It has slightly less impact than Bawls because of the change in sweetener.

  • Bawls Cherry: 8/10

    One of the best cherry sodas I’ve ever had. Doesn’t taste like an energy drink, just a good cherry soda (even though it’s artificial.) If that’s your thing, definitely try it out.

  • Kaboom Orange Buzzzz: 9/10

    Excellent – tastes very much like orange juice. No detectable flavor from the energy components. Has a lot of vitamins and is organic. My favorite so far.

  • Rumba energy juice: 8/10

    Not quite as good a taste as Kaboom Orange, but still good and 100% juice. Tastes like canned OJ – slightly watered down and lacking punch, but still refreshing and you can’t taste the energy additives at all. Other fruit flavors are faint.

  • Red Bull Cola: 8/10

    The cola flavor tastes like Coke but more natural. Uses real sugar and no chemicals at all. Much lighter in color than normal cola. Has caffeine and no other energy additives – fine by me. Basically a really good cola with a bit more pep. Very slight (natural) aftertaste.

  • Monster Mixxd: 7/10

    30% juice. The ingredients say the fruit juice comes from apples and grapes, which is pretty accurate if you can imagine the combination. Pretty tasty. A bit healthier than a straight energy drink but still has all the sugar and chemicals.

  • Monster Khaos: 5/10

    50% juice. This time there are more fruit juices combined, but they don’t add up. The strongest fruit flavor for me is the peach. It comes across as medicinal, and I don’t want carbonated medicine. The juice can’t save this from mediocrity.

  • Amp with Green Tea: 3/10

    This is not natural. It tastes like spoiled grapes and rotten herbs. There is absolutely no green tea flavor whatsoever, and by “yuzu” I think they meant “motor oil.” This has very few redeeming qualities – they added a few extra vitamins, and I’ve had a drink or two in my life that tasted worse.

  • Mountain Dew Voltage: 5/10

    So highly carbonated it’s screaming to get out of the bottle. Try to avoid getting any in your mouth when it does come out of the bottle – you’ll thank me later. It tastes like a blue raspberry freezer pop. I like freezer pops, but the blue raspberry ones are the worst in the box, and I wouldn’t want to drink it.

  • Rockstar Punched – Acai berry: 8/10

    Surprisingly nice. I wasn’t expecting much but it’s actually very fruity (in a good way) from the acai berry. I think the “citrus” name is a bit inaccurate; it’s more subtle and flavorful. Still has a bit of energy drink aftertaste so it can’t get the highest marks, but it’s definitely tasty.

Update: Here’s part two!

Clif Bar Reviews

by redshift

I prefer a lot of small reviews to a few big reviews. So, I’m reviewing seven types of Clif Bars in the same vein as the batches of Wii game reviews I did earlier.

My goal: a tasty, reasonably healthy snack for breakfast that’s easily transported to work and doesn’t require preparation.

  • Chocolate Chip – 5/10

    Not very chocolaty; they taste more like a chemically processed health food bar. No actual chocolate chips – or they’re too small to see. If you’re after chocolate flavor, try something else.

  • Chocolate Brownie – 8/10

    Much more chocolaty than the Chocolate Chip. Tastes less like health food and more like a snack. And yet it’s still healthy… Worth a shot for anyone.

  • Oatmeal Raisin Walnut – 6/10

    There’s a hint of walnut in this one but hardly any raisin. The oatmeal flavor is very weak – it tastes more like the standard Clif mix. These bars really need something to cover up the default Clif flavor because I’m not finding it pleasant.

  • Chocolate Almond Fudge – 5/10

    I’m noticing a trend with some of the bars – they smell stronger than they taste. This one smells strongly of almond but there’s only a slight hint of almond in the taste. There’s not much fudge flavor at all – nothing like the chocolate brownie. Slightly better than the Chocolate Chip because of the extra flavor, but otherwise the same.

  • Banana Nut Bread – 6/10

    Strong smell of banana, but the taste isn’t authentic. It has small bits of chocolate to try to help the flavor along, but it either needs more chocolate bits or better banana flavor. It fades into standard (strange, tangy) Clif flavor while chewing.

  • Blueberry Crisp – 7/10

    “Blueberry” doesn’t belong in the title, but “Crisp” is it’s strong point. It doesn’t have the faintest hint of blueberry. It does add some larger nuts to the basic Clif formula, which help to add crunch and mask some of the regular Clif flavor.

  • Carrot Cake – 8/10

    They actually got the the texture right – it’s reminiscent of real carrot cake. I’m not sure how they did that in a plastic-wrapped product, but it was a nice surprise. The taste is pleasant and fairly subtle, and doesn’t have as much of the standard Clif flavor, even without another strong flavor to mask it.

My favorites were definitely the Chocolate Brownie and the Carrot Cake. They had the most authentic flavors and textures, and I could probably eat them every morning for a while without getting bored. The others were forgettable because the base Clif formula is pretty gross and they didn’t do anything to separate themselves from it.

Note: I wasn’t able to test any peanut butter-flavored bars because of the peanut butter recall. When more flavors come in, I’ll make another post with my impressions.

Food Hacker: Independence Day BBQ

by blue midget

Every year I look forward to the Independence Day holiday. This year especially. For those of us in the U.S. lucky enough, this means a four-day weekend. (I have no idea how you Canucks are making out with the weekend.) And not only that, but Independence Day assumes a party. Face it, it’s an excuse for friends to get together, eat a lot of food, drink a lot of beer, and watch some fireworks. With any luck, no one will be lit on fire. Of course all of this is contingent on the fact that you are not a loser without friends. For the sake of argument, let’s say you are not, in fact, a loser without friends, and will be doing something social this coming holiday.

The next obstacle is food – what to bring? You can’t show up to a BBQ with chips and a six pack of Budweiser or you’ll be lynched on sight. On the other hand, a Julia Childs-type soufflé may not be your style. It’s cool, dudes and chicks. I’ve got something easy and cool for you to do. I know you want to disregard this column because it’s something to do with cooking, but trust me, I know what I’m doing.


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Food Hacker: Triple Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

by blue midget

Photo courtesy of Epicurious
Omg tasty

In a cookie book, the chapters are usually divided by type of cookie. A chocolate chip cookie is your basic drop cookie – there is no rolling or pressing needed, just scoop up some dough and drop your rounded spoonful on your cookie sheet. Anyone who has been able to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch can make 9 out of 10 other drop cookie recipes. Don’t be fooled by the list of ingredients or the length of the recipe or the recipe’s source: what I love the most about drop cookies is that they’re all made the same way as your chocolate chip cookie. Most of them do not require a lot of fuss and they’re really difficult to screw up. Just like your chocolate chip cookie, the important thing is to make sure it’s mixed really well.

Keeping in the spirit of the approaching holidays, I have a new one for everyone. This one comes from Bon Appetit – don’t be nervous because of the source. It’s a drop cookie called “Triple Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies”, and just as easy as your basic Toll House recipes.

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American Thanksgiving: Talkin’ Turkey

by blue midget

In a couple of weeks, Americans everywhere will cook up the traditional Thanksgiving feast. For some chefs it will be an honor, and for others, a curse. Like every major American holiday, marketing campaigns explode with the latest gadgets, recipes, and foods that will make your Thanksgiving spread the most amazing and memorable dinner ever in the history of your lives thus far, in fact even Henry VIII would cry out in jealousy if he were able to cast his eyes upon your amazing feast. Some time between now and the next three weeks, consumers will rush out and purchase large quantities of whatever they can get their hands on so their guests may gorge themselves on the delicious delights of their Thanksgiving table. Families and friends will come together to hold hands, sing songs, and resemble something out of an ABC Special.

What a bunch of crap.

Most Americans live well beyond their means. Advertisements and slogans do their best to make the average consumer feel as though their lives will not be fulfilled unless they purchase X, Y, or Z. This is a lie, and yet every year we rush out to the stores to purchase enough food for an army and, dare I say, while some people have none. (Remember the times you have been needy and donate to a family in your area that could use a helping hand!)

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Killer Chocolate Chip Cookies

by blue midget

I’m always on the hunt for an amazing cookie recipe. When I am out in public, I subconsciously scan magazine racks for the latest and greatest that our so-called “culinary experts” have to offer. Once in a while, and especially around the holidays, the “best ever cookies” headlines will appear. By now I should know better than to trust these headlines, but I am a sucker: On the off-chance that one of these magazines has just one cookie recipe that meets my standards, I consider it a victory.

But alas, finding a good cookie recipe is nearly impossible to find. The “winning” cookie recipes usually leave me disappointed. I expect magnificence, but get mediocrity. I demand the exciting, but get the uninspiring. Do the cuisine magazines and food divas of today really know what we want to eat? Or is it that so few people are cooking, we’re just happy to eat anything that isn’t from a box or bag? Maybe I am on to something. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of us could only rate cookies into two categories: store-bought grade and homemade grade.

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