Thursday, March 31, 2011

Real Maple Syrup vs Pancake Syrup

Do you all remember early saturday mornings where you got up, popped your frozen waffles in the toaster and you reached for your favored Aunt Jemima or Log Cabin syrup to drench your warm waffles in? Those were the days weren't they? Well sadly I cant live so carefree anymore...especially when it comes to my diet. Also my taste have changed over the years and the super sweet "pancake syrups" make me feel like my teeth are rotting instantly. I have personally started using 100% pure maple syrups for pancakes, waffles, french toast and the like. I think it is less sweet and it gives me the satisfaction of knowing its pure maple syrup from an actual maple tree. Let us cross examine the usual suspects.
So here is the nutritional facts from Aunt Jemima's Original Pancake Syrup:
So here you can see that with every quarter cup(4 tablespoons) worth of syrup you are adding on an additional 210 calories, 120mg of sodium, and 32g of sugar to your pancakes. Ingredients include: CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WATER, CELLULOSE GUM, CARAMEL COLOR, SALT, SODIUM BENZOATE AND SORBIC ACID (PRESERVATIVES), ARTIFICIAL AND NATURAL FLAVORS, SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE.  
Did you all think that all of these ingredients were necessary for pancake syrup? I dont even know what some of these ingredients are, and therefore deem it unnecessary for my personal consumption.

Now here is the light version my brother and mother refuse to give up so we keep it stocked at home. 

This lighter version is only 100 calories for the same serving size BUT it has 190g of sodium and contain 7grams less sugar. I am still concerned about the unrecognizable ingredients in this version as well but I will say this version may be favorable to those counting calories. 

Now here is what I started to buy from Trader Joes:

So this maple syrup does have a high calorie count per serving just as the Aunt Jemima original version and is higher than the others with actual sugar per serving But there is only 10mg of sodium. Also you can be sure you are eating something pure just as your great grandparents and grandparents ate. Just as the label says there is nothing artificial and no preservatives. 
To end this all I can say is the decision is yours. The corn industry says there is nothing wrong with high fructose corn syrup but I am sceptical of those statements. If you are only concerned with numerical data for your diet then the Aunt Jemima light may be your best bet but for those of you like myself that may be trying to get on the clean eating train...switching to all natural maple syrup is the way to go. I also know some of you may be concerned with the cost. The high cost of real maple syrup is what kept me from buying it regularly for years but this bottle I bought from Trader Joes was only about $5. If you want to go ultra maple gourmet and are willing to spend upwards of about $18,  there are all different kinds of syrups available at local greenmarkets and natural markets that you can try out. There are even natural berry syrups or artisan/gourmet honey that you can switch out for maple syrup on your favorite breakfast treats. If you all have any questions on where to look for these items in the Brooklyn/New York City area don't hesitate to drop me a line. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Back to Reality

Maracas Bay Trinidad W.I
Its been soo long since we talked to each other. Well I am sorry but I can explain my absence. I was in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago for carnival. I was down there for two and a half weeks having the time of my life, I mean I always have fun in Trinidad. Along with going to a million parties and playing mas I always get to eat great food. Heres the bad part though...I forgot my blasted camera battery home and didn't get it until carnival friday when my sister came down, so theres no pictures but here are some of the food places I tried and a little bit about them.

El Pecos - I went to the location at 68 Aripita Avenue in Woodbrook. The style of this place is a buffet where they weigh your food by the pound. There is lots to choose from especially if your a meat eater such as various barbecued and stewed meats. There was only barbecued fish that I could choose from and I paired that with some vegetable fried rice and fries(I know what a combo). The food was average but tasty. I wouldn't go out my way to eat there but if your hungry its a nice place to get a quick bite. Theres not too much seating so if its a rush period seats may be scarce. Overall the place is clean, centrally located in the action, quick service, and many tasty options. I give my eating experience there a 7 out of 10.

Sweetlime Restaurant - I went to the location on the corner of French St and Aripita Avenue. I eat at this restaurant regularly when I'm in Trinidad. In this trip alone I ate there three times! This is a mid level restaurant with great ambiance that's good for families, groups, and dates.  Its located in a very accessible part of port of spain on a main avenue that has tons of  bars, casinos, and places to hang out. The service is at the better side of what I would expect in Trinidad and the hostess that was on duty for the carnival season(the girl with the locs) was friendly and professional. The food goes above and beyond my expectations as always with something on the menu for everyone. Some of the nights I was there they had live entertainment and karaoke. I give Sweetlime a 9 out of 10.

Patraj Roti - I had always heard of Patraj Roti shop on Tragerete Road in St. James for years but had never made it there and then last I heard their shop had burned down and reopened. While in St. James handling business I passed their shop and decided to stop in take a look at the new digs and try out the food. From what I've gathered this is one of those famous tourist-ty food places in Trinidad so I walked in expecting some sub-par roti but I was pleasantly surprised. First off the establishment was air conditioned, the ordering area was spacey and clean, and the line was short. The menu had several options to choose from, any kind of curry you could think of. I ordered buss up shut(paratha roti) with curry potato and channa with curry shrimp. I can honestly say it was the best best best curry I have tasted! The curry was seasoned to perfection. The seating area is clean and there is a sink area that you can wash your hands before you dig into the curry. I love the roti at Patraj and would definitely return, I give Patraj Roti a 8 out of 10.

Mr Chows Smokehouse - I heard about this place the entire carnival and the night of jouvert me and some friends went out to try it. The place is like a Trinidad Habana Outpost in that its mainly a food truck parked in a space with a drinks/condiments area and a basic seating area. This is a place to go for a quick bite on the run but not to actually sit down and eat. I ordered the grilled shrimp with fries and mashed potato salad(which is cold mashed potatoes, bleh!), I was completely underwhelmed and don't think the food was worth the money at all. My entire crew felt the same way about their food and vowed not to return. The food also took very long to come. I don't have much good to say outside of I give them kudos for carrying fish and shrimp items on the menu and being in an accessible location. I would only return if it was my only option for food at a late hour, with that said I give Mr Chows Smokehouse on Tragarete Road a 5 out of 10.

*** Notation 3/21/11
Japs Fried Chicken - I stopped at this place on my way to pick up my sister from the airport carnival friday. I had always heard about how great Japs food is and alongside their famous fried chicken they also have fried fish that is to die for. The line was on the long side and the fish would take a few extra minutes to come out but I was willing to wait. I must say that the wait was definitely worth it for the fish and chips. The chips were nothing out of the ordinary but the fish had the perfect golden brown color, crispy texture, and fresh seasonings that took the fish to another level. I definitely would recommend anyone to eat at Japs because it a LOCAL fast food restaurant that is completely rooted in Trinidad and Tobago. My only complaint with Japs is that majority of the locations are in the eastern corridor of the island so its a trek for people outside of those areas, especially tourist who may be concentrated in the Port of Spain area. I give Japs a delicious 9 out of 10!

I did eat at way more places but nowhere that wasn't reviewed already or out of the ordinary. I hope that you all enjoyed the reviews and if your ever in Trinidad that you decide to try out the various delicacies they have to offer.