June 15th, 2016

storyteller doll

Graze Box #3

Since I spent this past weekend largely in suspended animation and I don't feel like inciting anybody over politics, here is a review of the contents of my third Graze box.

Snack #1 – Malaysian Laksa: This is one of Graze’s aromatic broths. It consists of a spicy coconut paste, which you add hot water to, plus a side snack of chili lime cashews and coconut flakes. It has 140 calories. The dominant flavors of the broth are tamarind and chili, but there’s a nice complex mix of seasonings. I thought it was very tasty and surprisingly filling – just the right thing to eat before a long meeting that was going to run well into lunchtime. The cashews didn’t seem to have much of the chili and lime flavoring, but it’s possible that was just overwhelmed by the broth. There was also a lot more coconut than cashew. The downside, of course, is that you need to be eating this somewhere where you have a mug and hot water available, so it works at my office, but is not suitable for, say, an airplane.

Snack #2 – Chocolate Cherry Protein Granola Topper: This is a mix of cocoa granola, chopped hazelnuts, freeze-dried cherry pieces, and soy protein crisps. It’s 150 calories and intended to be used to top yogurt. I did taste a spoonful before putting it on a cup of yogurt (actually vanilla skyr) and it was pretty good even on its own. The chocolate flavor is definitely dominant and, frankly, the cherries were barely detectable. There was a nice crunchiness and, overall, I thought this was quite successful, though I would probably use it with plain yogurt in the future.

Snack #3 – Peachy Orchard: This is a mixture of rhubarb slices (i.e. sweetened, dried rhubarb, really more chunks than slices), dried pear, and peach fruit drops (i.e. a sort of peach flavored gummy). It’s 110 calories and fairly high in sugar (20 grams), though largely from fruit purees in the peach drops. I was skeptical because dried pear sounded a bit weird. And I don’t think I’d ever actually eaten rhubarb before. I first tried each of the components separately and wasn’t crazy about the texture of the pear slices and was undecided about the rhubarb. Then I tried eating two or three of the components together. That was far more successful, largely because the peach drops are extremely good. Overall, this wasn’t bad, but isn’t something I’d want frequently.

Snack #4 – Thai Tom Yum: Another aromatic broth, this one is only 50 calories. It consists of a hot and sour paste, some dried vegetables (red pepper and zucchini) and rice noodle pieces, all of which you put in a mug (or bowl) and add hot water to, then stir for a couple of minutes. The paste had a very strong smell, which was only an issue in that I decided to throw the empty packet into the kitchen trash instead of my office trash can. The sour flavors from tamarind paste and lime dominated the flavor, which was fine with me. It was also fairly spicy, which is also something I am good with. It didn’t look like there were a lot of noodles in the packet, but they rehydrated to be quite a bit more than I’d thought there would be. Overall, I thought this was very tasty. And it was filling enough to make a decent lunch. The downsides are twofold. Like all of the broths, you need to be somewhere with a mug and hot water available. It’s also higher in sodium than I’d prefer, but not any worse than most restaurant soups (and better than many). I rated it as "like," rather than "love" for those reasons.

Snack #5 - Twist of Black Pepper Popping Corn This is a small (130 calorie) bag of microwave popcorn, with a little bit of black pepper to flavor it. It took a little over a minute and 20 seconds to pop in my microwave, which is pretty standard for small bags of popcorn. The black pepper was a nice addition to the popcorn. But I have to question the economics of this snack. Even not on sale, a packet of 100 calorie microwave popcorn is under a dollar, while each graze snack comes out to $1.50. I realize that some of the premium is for convenience – and, to some extent, wholesomeness, as the Graze snacks aren’t full of artificial ingredients. Still, I mind that premium less when it’s a matter of paying for more creative offerings.

Snack #6 – Caramel Apple: This consists of soft wedges of dried apple, with a toffee sauce to dip them in. It is 80 calories, which is pretty good for something sweet like this. I normally prefer my apples crunchier, but the soft texture actually worked well with the dipping sauce. The dip was sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. I found this surprisingly enjoyable.

Snack #7 – Chinese Shiitake:> Yes, yet another aromatic broth. This one has 100 calories and consists of a mushroom broth paste, rice noodle pieces, corn, and dried shiitake mushroom slices, which you add hot water to. It was a bit spicier than I was expecting, which is fine with me, though obviously would not be to everyone’s taste. The mushroom pieces ended up nicely chewy. I’m not convinced that the noodles added much, though there was nothing offensive about them. Overall, I thought all three of the aromatic broths were quite good, but I’d have liked getting a wider variety of types of snacks in this box.

Snack #8 – New York Everything Bagel: These are miniature breadsticks, with poppy seeds, onion, and sesame seeds. The packet is 150 calories. It’s a good thing this is portion-controlled, because these are thoroughly delicious and I would inevitably eat as many as I could lay my hands on. I rated this as "love" and definitely hope to see it frequently.

Overall, I remain pleased with Graze. All of the contents of this box had something to recommend them, though I’d have preferred not having quite so many things that required preparation (the broths and the popcorn). I snoozed my next box a week, due to a business trip, but you will hear more about Graze. If you are interested in signing up, let me know and I’ll give you a code for free 1st (4 snack) and 5th (8 snack) boxes.