Monday, October 25, 2010

Passing Judgement

I don't understand why this is a "classic favorite." The Lemon Herb Chicken Piccata was one of the worst Smart Ones entrees I have eaten, and I have eaten a fair amount of these. Judged as "tastes like diet food," try another entree option.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Falafel Friday

 I had a Groupon for Maoz Vegetarian so I thought I would try it and of course, judge.

"Maoz Vegetarian is a fast service restaurant serving authentic falafel and freshly made vegetarian food."
- Maoz

I had the Maoz Junior Sandwich, half of their signature falafel sandwich, with sweet potato fries.  The falafel balls, which are basically fried balls of ground chickpeas, were crispy and light. The pita bread, offered in white or wheat, proved to be very hardy, holding up well to the large amount of food I managed to cram in. The topping choices were excellent and as they state, very fresh.  I topped my falafel with avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes, and yogurt sauce.  

The falafel sandwich while fried was healthy - on a wheat pita it totaled to 318 calories. The sweet potatoes fries were 397, but this is a big serving which can be easily shared with a friend.

Since my trip to Maoz my co-workers and I have now declared that Fridays shall now be Falafel Fridays. I judge Maoz as a great place to grab a healthy bite during the work day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Judging Grocery Stores

Uploaded with

I have been meaning to do a piece on grocery stores for a while, so when I saw this article about Trader Joes.  I thought that it must be a sign; therefore, I have decided to go forth in grocery store judgment.

Since grocery stores tend to be regional not everyone will agree or even know the stores to which I am referring; however, since most my readers are friends and family, it should be fine.

From Best to Worst:

1. WEGMANS - The greatest grocery store ever.
  • Great selection of every day groceries at a good price.
  • Exceptionally fresh produce which is often purchased from local farmers.
  • Fresh meat and dairy.
  • The prepared foods, while it can be pricey is well worth the extra cost since it's usually very tasty. They also offer many healthy options.  Note: I judge their Asian food bar poorly.
  • Generally helpful staff, especially the managers.
  • Easy returns and exchanges.
  • Plenty of registers open so that there are minimal lines!!! Why can no other store get their act together on this?
  • Great ambiance and incredibly clean, it makes you want to cook!
2. Trader Joe's - Quirky and great grocery store
  • While the selection is not the greatest, you will find things there you never saw before and everything is well priced.  Also, they carry certain items like Trader Joe's Hummus that are out of this world.
  • The produce and meat are often iffy, but they may get a big shipment in of a certain item and then offer it at a bargain price.
  • The employees are always friendly and will actually tell you if they do or don't like a product when you go through their line. They really seem to enjoy their jobs!
  • You can easily return any item.
  • Great selection of flowers, wine, and hors d'oeuvres - making it easy to throw a party.
  • Great recipe ideas at tasting stations they have around the store. 
  • On the downside the stores are so popular that it tends to be packed!
3. Whole Foods - AKA Whole Paycheck, but still great.
  • The prepared food is the best grocery store food and some of the best food you will find.  Go around Thanksgiving for their hot buffet - it's amazing.
  • The prices are going to be higher than other grocery stores, but in most cases it is because the food is of higher quality. Meaning it took longer to grow because no steroids were involved or it wasn't genetically mutated.
  • The flower selection is wonderful, I usually stop here before Thanksgiving or Easter; however, so will everyone else so it tends to be very crowded.
  • Check-out lines can be long, but the staff is generally helpful, especially at the meat, fish, and prepared food counters.
4. Giant, Safeway, Price Chopper, P & C, Tops, Stop & Shop - Any the run of the mill grocery store
  • Note - Certain store locations of the stores mentioned above are nicer than others, some have good coffee shops in store, better produce, or more pleasant staff. The following are just the usual things you find.
    • Selection of boxed items are good and well priced.
    • Produce and meat selections usually range from mediocre to bad.  Sometimes your meat or produce could go bad the next day. 
    • Prepared food tend to be bland and/or unhealthy. 
    • The checkout line is usually excruciatingly slow. 

5. Harris Teeter - thinks it can over charge for nothing special.
  • The staff is fine, I have never been treated especially good or bad. 
  • The time you spend in the check-out line has the possibility to last longer than your shopping time.
  • Their prepared food is equal to that at Safeway or Giant, but way more expensive. As a note I do like their par baked wheat bread.
  • Harris Teeter's own generic brand can actually be more expensive than the name brand items (really, they think they are that good).
  • The thing that really rounds out the reason why Harris Teeter is judged as the worst grocery store is their produce - they will put out bad produce for people to buy and, as usual, over charge.  I have walked in the store to find rotting peppers, frost bitten broccoli, and moldy garlic. 

This rounds out the selection for now, but this can always be added to.  I clearly have strong feelings for my grocery stores and with good reason, since this is where I buy most of my food.