Right Stuff vs. Food Porn
A BETTER BUTTER
Americans love their peanut butter. But PB has a problem: a modest serving (2 level tablespoons) has 190 calories. "Reduced fat" peanut butters are no better. Companies like Jif and Skippy replace some of the fat with carbs, so the calories don't budge.
That's why calorie counters will love PB2 ("peanut butter's second generation"). It's a powdered peanut butter made by slow roasting and then pressing the peanuts to remove 85 percent of the oil. Just mix 2 tablespoons of PB2 with 1 tablespoon of water and stir. The result: only 45 calories per serving (which shrinks to 1½ tablespoons), with as much protein (5 grams) and carbs (5 grams) as 1½ tablespoons of regular peanut butter.
If a powdered peanut butter seems unnatural, take a look at PB2's ingredients: roasted peanuts, sugar, and salt. The 1 gram of sugar is nothing to worry about, and PB2 is free from the added oils that you get even in the "natural" lines of peanut butters like Jif, Skippy, and Peter Pan.
Beyond PB&J, PB2 can lighten up your Pad Thai or peanut dipping sauce or salad dressing. And it's great for travelers and backpackers. Taste? As rich and nutty as regular peanut butter.
Also worth a try: PB2 with Premium Chocolate. The added cocoa powder displaces some peanuts, so the protein drops to 4 grams, but a 1½-tablespoon serving still has just 45 calories.
PB2 is sold at some Whole Foods and natural food stores. If you can't find it, try amazon.com or bellplantation.com. You may never go back to PB1.
Bell Plantation: (229) 387-7238
CODE RED CAKE
"A traditional favorite, frosted with vanilla bean cream cheese and white chocolate curls." That's how California Pizza Kitchen describes its Red Velvet Cake.
Like many items on CPK's dessert menu, the cake is also available "+ Häagen-Dazs." What a fabulous idea! Why settle for plain old cake, icing, and white chocolate when you can add 300 extra calories' worth of super-premium ice cream?
You can always depend on California Pizza Kitchen for what its Web site calls "innovative cuisine with a signature twist that's globally inspired yet distinctly California." (Does the name Häagen-Dazs count as globally inspired for people who don't know that it's a made-up Scandinavian-sounding word?)
Nothing says California like a big piece of cake laced with red food dye. With a scoop of ice cream, it packs 1,080 calories and 30 grams of saturated fat (a 1½-day supply). Nearly half the calories come from white flour and sugar.
And few people go to the chain just for dessert. That means those 1,000+ calories will likely top off a 1,000-calorie pizza or a 1,000-calorie plate of pasta or (yes, it's true) one of several 1,000-calorie salads.
Truth be told, CPK has no healthy desserts. The lowest-calorie option is the Apple Crisp (510 calories). Of course, the menu offers to serve it with caramel (600 calories), with Häagen-Dazs (810), or with both (900 calories).
That is just so California.
California Pizza Kitchen: (800) 275-8255
Dish of the Month
Toss 1 pound of asparagus with 1 tsp. of canola oil. Roast in a 400° F oven until lightly browned and tender, about 15 minutes. Drizzle with 1 tsp. of toasted sesame oil, 1 tsp. of soy sauce, and a squeeze of lemon. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve hot or cold.