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Caffeine Free Coke Zero

On my weekly trip to CVS, I found liquid manna from Heaven. Caffeine Free Coke Zero was displayed in pyramid fashion upon a shelf in the middle of the store and I knew God was real. I suffer from what you may call a sugar/caffeine sensitivity than can only be described as an off-the-wall, borderline psychotic, extreme hyperness that could potentially warrant a YouTube video that would quickly attract the attention of doctors everywhere. Are you getting my point?

I was obviously very excited when I found a soda without sugar or caffeine because who doesn’t enjoy a nice cold soda on a hot summer afternoon? The flavors are great. I can’t tell that the sugar is MIA.  If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, I wouldn’t count on Coke this time around. But if you’re looking for a crisp beverage to nurse down while you are watching the game, you can’t go wrong. And hey, if you’ve caught Coke’s latest Taylor Swift commercial you can sing about dressing up like hipsters and making fun of your exes while you’re at it.

The flavor is full and the bubbles are plentiful.  Drink on my friends. “Yea!”

Official Site

-Kat Graham

Raspberry M&M’s

Did a little research, and apparently these Raspberry M&M’s have been out for quite a while, but I just started seeing them pop up in my neck of the woods. So, they may not be new to you, but they are to me, so I’m going to review them anyway.

The idea of fruit flavored M&M’s was a bit strange to me, but none the less intriguing. I’ve had some high-end chocolates that were flavored, and pretty tasty, but I wasn’t sure something in a hot pink package zipper bag would be able to compare.

Most thankfully, my doubts were erased. The raspberry flavoring was subtle, so it was not much of a departure from your standard M&M. Just a really big M&M; the Raspberry M&M variety are roughly twice the size of a regular ‘M.’

My first impression was not that I was eating a raspberry flavored product. My initial thought was ‘chocolate covered cherries.’ Just not as intense. I’ll probably be all alone in thinking that, but I enjoy my own company.

For a 1.5 ounce package, you get hit with a 210 calorie penalty. It’s worth it to give them a try. Prices will vary by location; anywhere from $0.50 to $1.00. I give them a ‘Meh.’ They’re not bad, but I’ll probably never buy them again.

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–Jeremy Hobbs

Four Loko Margarita

Four Loko’s have been a large contributing factor in the making of some horrible mistakes since the product starting lining refrigerators in convenience stores around the country a few years ago. I myself have fallen victim to this syrupy menace on more than one occasion. The entire line is comprised of super potent malt alcohol, with a heaping amount of sugar, and what I’m sure isn’t an oncologist approved mix of artificial flavors and colors. Long gone are the energy enhancing ingredients that made Four Loko even more infamous than it is currently. Our nanny-state government made them do it.

I saw the Four Loko Margarita, and in name of thoroughnosity (yeah, I made that word up) I decided to review it for the margarita series. Surprisingly, after the first two or three agonizingly sober sips, this didn’t taste dramatically different than Bud’s Lime-A-Rita. Whether that is a complement to Four Loko Margarita, or an insult to Lime-A-Rita…. well, that’s a tough call.

The throbbing headache experienced the next morning is confirmation a plenty that one should not be drinking these things. But, if kept absolutely ice-cold, Four Loko Margarita is only half bad. Given that I was able to finish the can versus killing stubborn weeds with it as I had planned, I’m giving Four Loko Margarita an honorary ‘Meh’ for their efforts.

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

Jeremy’s Margarita Series

The Great Gatsby

There is no doubt that director Baz Luhrmann has achieved world-wide popularity once again with The Great Gatsby.  Already beloved by the film community for bringing musicals back to the silver screen with Moulin Rouge and making a modern-day and quite popular rendition of Romeo + Juliet.  Known for his high-spectacle movies, magnificent sets, top-of-the-line actors and brilliant soundtracks, Luhrmann will not disappoint even F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most beloved fans.

Not a single shot in The Great Gatsby is without spectacle.  The film is beautifully enhanced with gorgeous, rich colors and metallic accents and Luhrmann’s signature style that rides the fence between a breathtaking dreamscape, something you think it might melt if you look away, and something very raw and quite respectable.

The acting in The Great Gatsby is simply thrilling. Leonardo DiCaprio shines as Jay Gatsby bringing an innocence and vulnerability to a roll that one would assume would be a radiation of confidence.  Tobey Maguire portrays Nick Carraway, a midwestern gentleman who befriends Gatsby quickly and acts as match-maker for Daisy (Carey Mulligan).  Mulligan and DiCaprio’s on-screen chemistry evokes so much from the viewer that you could only assume the love affair was real.

When I heard that Jay Z was going to be doing the music for The Great Gatsby I had to go straight to my sister to see if Jay Z was going to ruin my favorite book turned film.  She assured me he would be wonderful and she couldn’t have been more correct.  But it wasn’t Jay Z who swept me off my feet but Lana Del Rey.  Del Rey’s song Young and Beautiful is so malleable taking on genres of classical, vocal and jazz.  Simply beautiful.

It is with absolute confidence that I give this film a “Yea!”

Official Site

-Kat Graham

CVS Calcium Soft Chews Active Nutrition for Women

NEW CVS Calcium Soft Chews Active Nutrition for Women are my latest purchase on my vitamin kick.  Part of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to start taking better care of my body.  Eating more protein, getting more sleep and taking my vitamins.  For about eleven years I struggled with my health and it affected my bone strength.  I broke the same ankle upwards of four times, broke my wrist and had a few lucky misses.  As I try to avoid animal products, I rarely drink milk so I figured it was time for a supplement.

CVS Calcium Chews have 500 mg of calcium plus vitamins D and K with 1000 IU vitamin D per chew.  With only 20 calories per serving, 6% of your daily iron, only 2 grams of sugar and less than 1% of your daily sodium I would call this a win!  With two flavors: milk chocolate and caramel (stay tuned for a review on the caramel) you can’t lose.  The milk chocolate flavor isn’t overbearingly sweet like other vitamins I have tried.  My only complaint is that they can leave a bit of a metallic aftertaste that can stick around for a while, so I usually take them right before I brush my teeth in the morning.  Other than that I have very few complaints.  They are small enough to pop into your mouth in a single bite and don’t take a year and a half to chew, which is a plus.

I really like these new vitamins and give them a solid “Yea!”

WARNING: Do not exceed more than two chews daily.  If you are pregnant or nursing a baby, ask your doctor before using this product.  It contains vitamin K so check with your doctor before taking if you’re on blood-thinning medicine.  These are intended for adults and children 10 years of age and older.  It is suggested to take one chew twice a day with food or as directed by your physician.

Offiical Site

-Kat Graham

Coke Life

Not a review, but a rather exciting preview this evening. Coca-Cola is doing a market test of a new extension of their line of colas dubbed Coke ‘Life’ in Argentina. Coke Life is going to be a mid-calorie beverage (much like Pepsi Next), but it’s signature feature is that it will be sweetened with a combination of sugar (or corn syrup in the USA), and stevia.

Stevia has been referred to as ‘unusable’ in colas by the folks at Pepsi, so I’m absolutely dying to know what Coke’s chemists have come up with. It appears that Coke Life will be marketed as an ‘all natural’ product, and will be very desirable to women, yuppies, and hipsters all the same while retaining the known and loved Coca-Cola flavor.

As an added bonus for the latter two categories of consumers, the bottle will be one hundred percent recyclable, and at least thirty percent biodegradable. This is accomplished by some convoluted process of turning veggies in to plastic; a process I’m not nearly smart enough to try to explain. But hey, if it saves a whale or two, more power to them.

I’ll have a real review out to you as soon as possible. I’m a bit worried as I’ve read stevia can cause ‘anal leakage,’ but I’ve always been willing to throw myself under the proverbial bus for my faithful readers. Coke Life will be no different. Stay tuned!!!

-Jeremy Hobbs

Zone Perfect Double Dark Chocolate

Sometimes you need a quick, easy meal to take on the road. By quick, I mean I-woke-up-so-late-I-don’t-have-time-to-brush-my-teeth-before-work kind of quick. Protein shakes and bars can take on that role extraordinarily well, often offering a substantial amount of fiber, protein, and assorted nutrients in a grab and go container.

Zone Perfect Double Dark Chocolate did this job for me on a recent outing. Typically I’m more of a shake guy, but the fiancé grabbed me one of these instead. At first bite, I was fairly impressed. The taste was definitely chocolatey, leaning more towards dark chocolate than milk chocolate, as the product name would suggest. The texture is like a very dense Rice Crispy treat.

I easily powered through three or four bites, then Zone Perfect Double Dark Chocolate bar hit my stomach. Like a brick. Or cinder block. Or one of the blocks Moses’ people used to build the pyramids. This can be taken in a positive or negative light; I felt full, but I also felt uncomfortably stuffed.

The more I tried to eat, the larger each bite felt in my mouth. By the halfway point what had started as a tasty treat started feeling like wet concrete in my mouth. Shakes have these traits as well, but they’re chuggable. There is no quick way to get one of these bars down. Because it at least started out as a tasty food stuff, I’m going to give Zone Perfect Double Dark Chocolate bar a ‘Meh.’ Should you try it, I hope you have better luck swallowing than I did.

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

Monk Fruit In The Raw

I drink a lot of sweet iced tea. Started substituting it in the place of soda, mainly for budget reasons. Did the math one day and realized we were spending in the neighborhood of one hundred dollars a month on sparkling beverages, and that is just silly.  At the same time I didn’t want to start downing a ton of sugar, so I started trying shopping around for artificial sweeteners.

Monk Fruit In The Raw looked new and different, and I’ll try anything once. Monk Fruit is also known as ‘luo han guo’ according to the official site linked below. To cut straight to the point, I’m not a huge fan. It sweetens just enough to cut out the bitterness of the home brewed unsweetened tea, but did absolutely nothing beyond that to make my budget beverage any more enjoyable than the dollar store brand ‘pink stuff.’ I’ll keep my Sweet & Low, thanks.

I suppose Monk Fruit In The Raw might be suitable for those of you who are sensitive to the chemicals in the sweeteners that actually work. Also, hipsters will love offering their uninterested friends a ‘fair-trade coffee with soy cream and all natural lou han guo sweetener.’ Me? I fit neither of those groups, and I’m giving Monk Fruit In The Raw a ‘Meh…’

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

 

Chromecast

Chromecast is a new device by Google designed to allow you to stream media from internet services such as YouTube, Netflix, and Google Play to your (HD only) television and sound system. Looking very much like a thumb drive, the Chromecast plugs into the HDMI port of your TV, and syncs with any app that builds the feature into their service or app. You can control the video or music with a number of devices, including your PC, Android phone or tablet, along with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Macs. So basically anything that connects to your home network.

You can even stream this post! In fact, I’m typing this review more or less using my bed room TV as a 32 inch wireless monitor. You can ‘cast’ any Chrome browser tab to your television once you have the Chromecast extension installed (very simple to install, the Chromecast walks you through it in the very simple set-up). This allows you to watch content that hasn’t been specifically designed to run with Chromecast.

The technology is new, and while the amount of apps specifically supported at the moment are few, many more are in development. Pandora is confirmed to be working on adding the option to their service, and beyond that, the options are limitless for developers. I’m sure we’ll see some amazing things produced in the future.

I’ve included a video at the bottom, showing the capabilities of the device. I love mine, as does the (non-tech-savy) fiancé. For $35, you get a lot of bang for the buck. Total ‘Yea!’ from me; it’d take a lot more than $35 to buy mine off of me.

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle Salted Caramel

Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle isn’t something I would normally look twice at on a store shelf. The idea of hard, crumbling, brittle brownies doesn’t exactly appeal to my tastes in a traditional sense, but thankfully an open-minded friend decided to not only give them a chance, but to share her newfound discovery with me.

Sheila G’s concept was to create an entire bag of the deliciously crisp little edges that form around a freshly baked pan of brownies. I personally love nibbling at those edges. LOTS of people love those edges. I’d say this woman deserves an award for coming up with something so brilliantly simple, but she’s already won “Best New Snack” of 2012-13. Clearly, Brownie Brittle is right on point in the dessert world. The brittle is thin and without any of the standard chewiness of brownies. Every bite has a crisp, satisfying crunch to it. The flavor is strong and chocolatey, and very reminiscent of traditional brownies, which is great.

I opted for the salted-caramel bag which is beyond delicious. There’s just something about the mingling flavors of caramel, salt and chocolate that really makes my mouth happy. I also like that they sprinkle the salt directly on top of the brittle so that certain bites have that pleasantly intense flavor when it hits your tongue. Overall these things are fantastic, and weighing in that the entire four-serving bag is less than 500 calories, I’d say they were a great dessert or snack for even the most calorie conscious individuals. ‘Yea!’

Official Site

Chrissy Franklin (Guest Poster)