Costco Snack Review : Birch Benders Paleo Pancake & Waffle Mix

So today we are going to review one of the two healthy pancake options available to Costco. The “Birch Benders Paleo Pancake & Waffle Mix”. Now that’s quite a mouthful. I was intrigued as most Paleo and Keto diet experts in their Costco runs were recommending these but I had to have a look by myself.

Paleo Pancake & Waffle Mix by Birch Benders

Ingredients and Nutrition

Before we get into the ingredients and nutrition, if you are reading this and you are from Birch Benders, please fix all your serving models and packaging. You need to be a math major to understand how the servings map to any of the actual recipes. Is it deliberate? Maybe, however not giving discerning consumers an easy way to calculate their calorific input is a poor strategy.

Delving deeper into nutrition, on an average you will be consuming close to 420 calories per 6 small pancakes which a normal athletic person would be expected to ingest.

This obviously does not include any toppings you may use. Please do not use syrup if you care about your health, I use nut butter which adds another 190 calories for 2 table spoons. So this is definitely not a low calorie or a weight loss food once you make it a lunch replacement.

In terms of ingredients it has Cassava Starch(note that deceptively almonds is the first ingredient on the packaging) with a low glycemic index (46 per livestrong), very good! They use organic coconut cloud which is the only organic food used here. It matters a lot in Almonds IMO wherein they are sprayed with a ton of pesticides but they use regular almond flour to keep costs low. For the sweetener they use monk fruit and no other sugar alcohol so that’s really great and has unnamed spices and leavening agents.  Monk fruit adds no calories and does not evoke an insulin response like other sweeteners. Overall very clean ingredients, would be even better if they had used organic almond flour and Eggs. 

The eggs are actually an interesting twist to this saga though, organic eggs have a much better nutrition profile than regular eggs but at least you save on cost and messes because eggs are already there in the powder. I prefer to have my pancakes with organic eggs for what its worth. So I will deduct half a point for the non-organic ingredients.

4.5/5

Taste

The proof of the pancakes is ofcourse in the eating. I made my pancakes with the original recipe first which I found to be too thick and my pancakes werent cooking fully. Later I modified it by adding more water for perfect fluffy pancakes. The pancakes stick together well due to the egg and no additional binders or milk is needed. I added some organic blueberries because why not.

However when I ate it, overall I was not very impressed with the taste. It tastes like eating fluffy paper with a hint of sweetness. No real taste comes out in my opinion. I have tried cheaper brands like Krusteaz and not to cheaper ones like Kodiak and they do taste a lot better but they have worse ingredients. I will finish this pack and then I look forward to trying their new Keto blend instead hoping that the keto blend tastes better.

 

2/5

Verdict

If you are in it purely for the health, you probably sacrifice taste all the time. Only then would I would recommend getting this. Otherwise I will probably recommend the Krusteaz whole grains protein pancakes as a much better tasting alternative to the Birch Blenders Paleo Pancakes. The pancake mix at my Costco costs $11.49 for 42oz which is 27 cents an ounce, compare that to Amazon which sells it for a pricey pricey 41 cents an ounce 🙂 

Overall Rating

3/5
Covercraft custom evolution cover for BMW X1

Wisetechie reviews the Covercraft Custom Evolution Car Cover

My car is my prized possession. I splurge on my car as is apparent from my Dash camera reviews. Here is the AUSDOM dash camera review and here is the Road Hawk DC2 review. Coming soon is the BMW Advanced Eye 2.0 review.

However that is when my car is moving. When my car is parked, one of my biggest worries is that I do not have a garage and everyday my car is braving the elements(sun, rain, pollen, dust etc.). It used to be slightly better in regular times since during the day my car would be parked at the office garage, however in COVID times my car has been taking a beating every day of the week. My car is a black BMW X1 and everything shows on black, everything!

So a few months ago I decided to finally bite the bullet and get a car cover to protect it while its parked. I zero-ed in on the Covercraft Evolution custom car cover. It was pricey, but nothing but the best for my car? Wink! I went in for the custom cover since I have seen people struggle with one size fit all covers in the past. I wanted something that is easy to put on by one person which would be me most of the time. I finally received it 4 weeks after ordering and have been using it for a month now. I think I am ready to review it so here it goes:

Value for Money

This cover is not cheap, it cost me around $300. For the price, the Covercraft evolution custom car cover is pretty thin. For the ding protection rating on Covercraft’s website, I would have expected a thicker material. Overall if I look at the price and what I got, I do feel a bit shortchanged.

 

Most other cover companies will also give you a Tote Bag or a Carry Bag, Covercraft charges extra for that as well. So in terms of value for money, I truly believe its not. However maybe its a luxury product like the BMW?

 

2/5

Protection

Covercraft custom evolution cover for BMW X1

The cover seems to protect on average against most elements pretty well, dust and pollen were my main enemies followed by the Sun and the Seattle rain. Although Seattle has more rain, rainwater by itself doesn’t damage the paint or the finish. Its often acidic rain or bird droppings which do the damage and that was my main concern.

Sun Protection – 5/5 

Even on really hot days, my car is cool inside when I lift the cover.

Dust Protection – 3/5

Some dust seems to filter through the cover onto the car.

Rain Protection

2/5 

Rain definitely seeps through, see the photo below. The rain and dust mix to create a dirty look for the car. Its pretty apparent on a black car and you can see how the water flowed through the cover and mixed with dust.

bmw custom evolution covercraft rain protection - rain stains through cover

Overall Protection Rating

3.5/5

Ease of installation/removal of the custom evolution car cover

At the end of the day, the cover is only good if you can put it up in time. The ease of installation is definitely one of the most important factor. If you feel lazy and dont put the cover up, its not going to protect your precious car.

I did find the custom cover here blowing away my expectations. I usually put it on in 2 minutes and take it off in a minute. They could improve it further by marking the front with a black border of something.

One big problem is that without a bag, after removing it, if you are keeping it in your car trunk, good luck. It is going to take up most of the space in your trunk. So its easy to remove but really hard to store.

4/5

The Verdict

I can hear you all, so Wisetechie what’s the verdict? Should we spend the extra money on a Covercraft custom evolution cover? My answer is a very gray no and here is why:

  • Despite the cost, the quality of the cover leaves a lot to desire. The ratings/reviews on their site seem to be biased and the protection ratings don’t mean anything.
  • For this much cost, it does not even come with a Tote bag or a carrier. Its very hard to keep the cover in your car trunk, it will literally take 50% of the trunk space as you cannot compress it. I will have to buy one or repurpose an old bag here.
  • It takes 4 weeks to ship with no interim updates from the company.

If I could do it all over again, I would go for a cheaper brand which comes with a Tote bag and locks and other accessories. I do not think Covercraft is worth the premium unless they fix some things. The brand (According to me) is built on hype propagated by reviews on their site..

Costco Snack Review : Sports Research Golden Milk With Turmeric and Ginger

No matter where you live you cannot escape the hype and benefits of Golden Milk. Since I am Indian I have had it since I was a kid but America has just discovered Golden Milk and I am here to give you the run down on the Golden Milk at Costco. I know you have been tempted to buy it, but is it any good? This is the second review in our Costco Snack review series after the Sonoma Vegetable Crisps.

This Golden Milk is made by Sports Research and is available at Costco for $28.99 ($29.99 online – Membership Required) and Amazon has it for around $34.99. So ask your Costco member friends to grab you a box if you want to try it.

Ingredients and Nutrition (4/5)

Sports Research does not disappoint with the ingredients they have chosen for this product. At 60 calories, its not really a low calorie food but a bunch of those come from MCTs which may actually help you lose weight.

Sports Research Golden Milk Calories

The organic ginger and organic Turmeric are the main ingredients you should be looking for in the Golden milk and there is enough of those. Lets have a look at the other ingredients:

Organic Natural Vanilla Flavors, Organic Lou Han Guo (Monk Fruit) Extract, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Cardamom, Organic Nutmeg, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Acacia, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Quillaia Extract

Other ingredients mostly help in sweetening and overall flavor and its good to see the manufacturer sticking to mostly organic spices. I would have preferred a better quality oil.

One thing to be cognizant of is that if you make this with milk, you are possibly creating a 180 calorie drink with around 120 coming in from the milk. Absolutely not a diet or low calorie drink. Have it if it fits with your macros.

Taste (5/5)

The proof of the golden milk is in drinking. I made the Golden Milk with Planet Oat’s Vanilla oat milk. That is 90 calories per serving so my drink is net 150 calories.

The taste is one of the best in terms of Golden Milk I have had in the US. The Golden Milk has a nice nutty flavor and the monkfruit adds the perfect amount of sweetness to the drink. 10/10 will recommend. Infact I might be addicted to this. Unlike the Bio Schwartz golden milk, it doesn’t have a stevia after taste and mixes well in any medium.

Verdict

Incase it wasnt clear from the Taste section, my verdict on this is a clear buy. The only con is that is very expensive. I would have been happier if 30 servings cost around $20 but it is what it is. I use it as a nice pick me up after a hard workout to help with inflammation. Have you had it as well, what did you think?

 

Overall Rating

4.5/5
Sonoma Vegetable Crisps from Costco

Costco Snack Review : Sonoma Vegetable Crisps

Nutrition Information for Sonoma Vegetable Crisps

So I am starting a new series on this blog. A big part of who I am today is my fitness journey. I was 200lb around 3 years ago, I weigh 160lb now with a ton more muscle. My blood work is close to perfect and I am the healthiest I have ever been in my life.

A big part of being healthy is your diet. These days when I buy a product the first thing I look at is the ingredients list. Trust me the ingredients list is often more important than the calories tab.

In this new series I will talk about lifestyle changes that I undertook or am taking to ensure a healthy and fruitful life full of vitality.

Ingredients and Nutrition (4/5)

Recently I got the vegetable crisps by Sonoma from Costco. I was struggling with these as most mentions of Sonoma at Costco have to do with their Parmesan crisps.

Sonoma Vegetable Crisps from Costco

The vegetable crisps contain Okra, Carrots, Tomatoes, Purple Sweet Potato, Potatoes and Cauliflower. Its seasoned with rice bran oil and salt.

Overall not too many bad ingredients except for the Rice Bran oil, the only reason I wont be eating too much is because they didnt go for an oil like Avacado oil or Coconut oil. Other than that, even though the 150 calorie serving is calorie dense. I feel full with just a handful due to the fiber content.

Taste (4/5)

The taste of the vegetable crisps is pretty clean. Almost neutral with a tinge of sweetness due to the starch in the potatoes. I loved the taste. The vegetables add a nice profile both in terms of shape and flavor to the snack. Below you can see a comparison of the actual veggies v/s the packaging.

If the fiber(3g in a serving) wasn’t strong in this once, I would end up munching a lot more.

Verdict

Overall I would give this snack a thumbs up. I loved eating the vegetable crisps. They are a good low guilt snack with a serving of veggies.

For some reason they only seem to be available to Costco, even Amazon doesn’t have these.

 

Overall Rating:

4/5

A new kind of Paypal scam – No they wont find it in your favor

When I was growing up the narrative around online shopping and safety was quite simple. Paypal was supposed to be the best company to buy stuff with. They always sided with the buyer and had the most buyer friendly policies in case of disputes.

Things have changed drastically though. Necessity is the mother of invention, and people have learnt how to game Paypal. I was recently the victim of a similar scam. In my case since I used my Amex platinum my card company will take care of it but for those who may use Paypal with a debit card or their bank balance, you might be left arguing with a bunch of robotic customer service at Paypal.

Here is the basic outline of the scam:

  • Buyer buys something via PayPal thinking their transaction is secure.
  • Scammer sends a fake package to a public address in city of buyer, this step is important because if they ship to you, then you can file it as SNAD or significantly not as described.
  • Buyer never receives anything and files charge-back
  • PayPal only looks at a tracking number, doesn’t cross check shipping records, weight info or any invoice of the real product being ever sent and denies the case.

The scam to be was done by a site called Shoplauer.com, it seems to generate a new PayPal Id for every transaction so they stay ahead of PayPal. It is however hard to imagine that PayPal is not aware of this modus operandi. I filed a claim and explained all of this to PayPal but it was denied. I am ofcourse escalating but its astonishing that PayPal to save on operations cost is not pushing basic training to their customer service personnel. Not only had I described the scam, I had also pointed to obvious discrepancies in the tracking information given by the scammer.

I have filed a CFPB complaint and also escalated. They asked me for a letter on UPS’s letterhead certifying that the package wasnt sent to me. I asked them to get a letter from the scammer that the letter was sent to me. I will update this as PayPal responds to my escalations. In the meantime, stay safe!

Bizarre :Café Coffee Day employee slaps customer then files case against customer alleging harassment

This day just got even more bizarre. A sensational video has come out which shows a Café Coffee Day female employee slapping a customer when he tries to showcase cockroaches in the food storage area. In the video the customer claims that the lady was rude to him and as he shows her face in the phone, she slaps him hard and asks him how can he take her photo as if its a crime against the nation to do so. It was not as it he was making a lewd video, he was showcasing a genuine health hazard. Well a picture is worth a 1000 words and a video is worth a 1000 pictures:

Now the video is pretty clear and a case of assault should be filed against the lady at CCD. However in a disgusting turn of events, we were informed that a case has been filed by the lady from CCD against the customer for harassment. We all know how skewed laws are in India against men and one can very much imagine that this lady also is trying to use laws meant for protecting women to get out of this mess.

image

In the meantime #CockroachCoffeeDay is the hashtag we want to trend. Meanwhile CCD has put up a notice on its official facebook and twitter channels promising an investigation but no apologies. As you can see from some of the comments on these posts, CCD seems to have acted in malice when the issue was first reported to them. It could also have been a tactic to prevent the customer from releasing the video to the media.

image

Update – 29 March 2017

CCD has released a statement that it has ‘suspended’ the said employee. The statement still does not apologize for the behavior of the staff or the cockroaches. Also does not address the fake complaint by the staff.

“The lady team member referred here hails from rural Orissa and is part of the programme run by NGO Gram Tarang to uplift weaker sections of society and girl child specially. She underwent rigorous training on joining us to become a team member and was posted in Jaipur. As per lady team member, she had objected to her video being taken by the customer and her repeated requests were also not heard, thus invading her privacy. Till the time thorough investigation is being done, lady team member has been kept off duty,” it said.

Vigorous training does not seem to have helped here. Although its a noble cause, corporations need to be careful about who they hire for people facing roles. In this case the NGO as well as the company seem to have made a mistake hiring someone who appears to be mentally unstable into a job that often requires you to be extremely calm in difficult situations. Ironically the NGO Gram Tarang lists Cafe Coffee Day as a success story of its employment training practices. Hopefully this was just an aberration and the NGO is able to revisit their training and practices to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.

As for CCD, I don’t really have a lot of sympathy for them given their extreme reluctance to admit fault in the matter and their attempt to use the legal framework to cheat and deceive the customer.