Eat Random

The idea for this blog is to blog about everything I think about food and food culture. I'll tell you what I like to eat, where I like to eat it and if I thought it was good or if I thought it was crap. My thoughts about food could go anywhere. Hey if you don't like it go blog at

Random Dude Eats Random Food Indianapolis restaurants

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Favorite Healthy Snacks

For years I've heard people say that if you want to lose weight you shouldn't focus on eating just 3 squares a day. They say you should eat more often and smaller portions. For the longest time I thought this was BS. I mean losing weight is a simple equation. If the calories you consume are less than the calories you burn you lose weight. I didn't think it mattered how the calories were consumed. However, now I have to say I'm a believer.

In my quest to lose weight before our wedding I had been going on along really well until last week. An extended holiday weekend full of eating put the hurt on me. I decided that the week after I was going to make sure I did a lot of exercise and made sure I had healthy snacks in between smaller meals as I've heard recommended so many times. They say this helps boost your metabolism and you'll burn more calories. It worked. I've been having healthy snacks between all my meals this week and lo and behold I lost another 4.4 lbs and I'm down to a weight I haven't been since 2008. The point of all this really isn't to toot my own horn, but I wanted to recommend to you some of the snacks I've been enjoying so you can try them too if you'd like. (pictures of all items forthcoming)

1. Welch's Fruit Snacks
 I know you might think of fruit snacks as something your mom put in your lunch box every day in 2nd grade, but trust me these Welch's fruit snacks are good for kids and adults. Target sells them in value pack boxes that contain 22 individual packs of fruit snacks that are only 80 calories a piece and 0 grams of fat. The texture is soft and chewy without that stick to your teeth or wear out your jaw feel that some fruit snack give you. They are also made from real fruit and the flavors pop quite nicely.

2. Fresh Fruit
No secret here, but one of the things that has really been key for me is keeping our house stocked with fresh fruit. All fresh fruits are 0 WW points so they make a perfect snack. Since we're in the summer months everything is in season and tasting good too. If you like strawberries you can even eat them with fat free whipped cream (just don't go crazy) for a really low cal dessert.

3. Graham Crackers
The regular honey graham crackers you can buy in the store are very low fat and low in WW points. I think 2 whole sheets are less than 3 points. You can also put some fat free Cool Whip in between them and freeze them and it makes a low calorie ice cream sandwich variant.

4. Yogurt
At Kroger (or Krogers if you're from southern Indiana) they have a lot of great flavors of lite yogurt including banana cream pie and key lime which are my favorites. Every cup of lite yogurt is only 100 calories, and Kroger used to sell them for the cheap price of 10 cups for $4. However, the last time we were at the store the price had dropped to 12 for $4.  Also, I recently tried a fat free greek yogurt for the first time and while I don't think it's something I'd eat by itself very often (since it tastes more like a funky cheese than anything sweet) I thought it did make a good dip for berries or veggies.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Natural Doesn't Mean Good Product Review: Zevia Zero Calorie Soda

Cough syrup. If you're at all like me that's probably not one of your favorite flavors of all time. Most likely far from it. Yes I know some of you my compromise on that when it comes to alcoholic beverages, but be honest that's only because you really enjoy getting tore up from the floor up and little else. Well unfortunately the latest product I decided to try, Zevia Zero Calorie Soda (Dr. Zevia flavor) won't get you wasted, but it will waste your (or someone else's since Barry O is President after all) hard earned dollars.

When The Fiance and I made a trip into the Earth Fare market the other evening to get some fresh fruit I was saying to her that I would really like to have some pop, but I wasn't sure they would have anything there since it's supposed to be a "healthy market". Lo and behold I came upon the Zevia line of sodas ($3.50 for a six pack). These are sodas sweetened with stevia instead of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or other artificial sweeteners. I'm a diet soda junkie, and I'm not giving it up no matter what but I am always looking for new stuff. I decided to go with their version of Dr. Pepper since I know other soda companies have imitated the flavor pretty accurately. Man was I in for a surprise.

Not only does Dr. Zevia taste nothing like Dr. Pepper, Diet Dr. Pepper, Pibb Extra, or anything else even in that neighborhood it doesn't even begin to taste like anything I know as soda pop. I thought what flavor was there was mildly reminiscent of cough syrup with a thinner texture. Absolutely disgusting. It wasn't as if the sweetness or lack of sweetness was the problem either. The problem was the flavoring of the beverage itself. It had kind of a sour note that I found completely unsatisfying and not refreshing in any way.  The only place this stuff deserves to go is down the drain.

Rating: Pass It By

P.S.  Although this product was a big miss we both really like the Earth Fare market. They have a lot of good stuff, and good prepared food also. It's also less pretentious (slightly) than places like The Fresh Market or Whole Foods. It's located in Hamilton Town Center.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Product Review: Nestle's Crunch Caramel and Coconut

Everyone loves Girl Scout cookies. Everyone probably doesn't love the fact that you can usually only get them once a year, and you get harassed to buy them by cute kids every time you go to the mall or to the store. Nestle created a solution that solves all of your problems with their new candy bar line featuring Girl Scout cookie flavors.

I'm not sure why, but the actual names of the cookies (Tagalongs, Samoas, etc) we've all become so familiar with do not appear on the packaging even though the Girl Scouts name and logo is clearly there. However, if you have an IQ even just barely higher than a sack of hammers you'll probably be able to figure out which flavors are which. For this review I decided to go with the caramel and coconut bar aka a Samoa because well those are my favorite. As you can see in the picture this might be labeled as a variation on a Nestle's Crunch, but really the similarity stops at the packaging. This is a smaller thicker candy bar where the crunch seems to come from more of a wafer than crisp rice. Also, "Nestle" isn't molded into the top of the bar like we're used to seeing. Instead there is this kind of caramel drizzle.  As far as the taste goes I have to say Nestle absolutely nailed the flavor of Samoa's, and that of course means it was delicious. However, if you were expecting the kind of textures you get from the cookie you won't find them here. This is more of a layered wafer with filling that has flavor. You won't find any toasted coconut or gooey caramel. Also, I calculated it and this candy bar is only 5 Weight Watchers points which means I could eat it as a snack without too much guilt.  I suspect the relatively low points value though is more due to the fact that the bar is rather small rather than really being considered "light" in any capacity. Overall very good, and they are selling them at Speedway right now 2 for $2 if you want to try a couple of different flavors.

Rating: Must Buy

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lunch Time at the Office Product Review: Maruchan Yakisoba

As of last week I've lost over 47 lbs since April. Part of my strategy to help me stick to the Weight Watchers points target is to not get lunch out more than once out of the 5 days a week I come in to the office. The old me tried to brown bag it a lot too in order to save money, but eventually I would get tired of eating the same old things or not have time to make a lunch before I went into work. But since I've been having so much success I've really decided to stick hard and fast to my 1 day a week rule. One of the things I've found that has made it easy is Maruchan's Yakisoba.

You may already be familiar with Maruchan from their line of cheap package ramen and "Instant Lunch", but the Yakisoba line is a little newer and much more tasty. Sure it's definitely not the traditional real yakisoba noodles you'll find in a good Japanese noodle shop, but the bottom line for me is that I can grab it quickly before I head out the door, it's ready in 4 minutes, the prep is easy, it's tasty, and it is only 14 WW points for a container.  It comes in multiple flavors, but my favorite is the teriyaki beef and the shrimp is a close second. It comes in brightly packaged container that acts like it's trying to trick you into thinking it is something cool you'd buy at an Asian grocery, but truthfully I'd need some cartoon cats and robots to be more convinced. Each package is noodles that comes with a flavor packet and a packet of dried veggies (and sometimes protein). Just at the veggies to the noodles and cover with a cup of water and nuke for 4 minutes. After a couple of cool down minutes where the temperature decreases from surface of the sun/hot pocket levels you can add the flavoring and mix. This results in tender noodles with a little broth.  The tang and sweetness of the teriyaki flavoring is superb to competing products that use liquid sauces. The only drawback is the noodles. If you don't add enough water they can be undercooked and crunchy, and also dried noodles just don't taste as good as the fresh ones that come in competing products. The best part however is the price. Maruchan Yakisoba packages run anywhere from 79 cents to $1.09 a piece. This is less than half the price of similar brands like Simply Asia or Annie Chun's.

Writer's Note: I've decided to change my rating system on product reviews since the blog relaunch. From now on instead of a 1-10 grade I will simply label products either Must Buy, Give It a Try, or Pass It By.

Rating: Must Buy

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: Drake's

Castleton. An indy neighborhood where there is shopping, traffic, and very few good food options or independent restaurants to satisfy all those shoppers and rat racers. It's sad really, but everyone who lives or works on Indy's North side knows that Castleton, food wise, has fast food and chains but little else. There are some notable exceptions like a couple of sushi bars and the Castleton Grill, but if you want a good sitdown meal you don't have a lot of options. That brings me to today's review which is a place that is trying to change that landscape a bit...Drake's.

Drake's is located in the strip mall on 82nd right before you get to the green bridge, and right behind the old Music Mill (now the not so impressive Brewstone). Drake's certainly isn't anything revolutionary. Their menu basically consists of burgers, chicken, salads, and the usual appetizers, and interestingly enough sushi. While the sushi certainly sets it apart I didn't try it on this particular visit so I can't really comment. What I did try was their fried pickles (annoyingly called frickles on the menu) and their Tavern Burger.

The fried pickles were delicious because well...fried pickles are always delicious, but here at Drake's I thought they were even a little better than the ones I've had elsewhere. First of all these pickles were cut lengthwise instead of in to chips which I think made them more crispy during the frying process and the pickles weren't so overwhelmed by the breading. The breading itself was also very well seasoned, appeared to be hand battered, the breading didn't slough off when you took a bite, and the sauce they served with them was different and better than the typical ranch you get at most places. Definitely had a mild but nice litle extra kick. My only quibble was that the cost of this app was 8 bucks which seemed a little high, but it's probably comparable to other similar restaurants.

The Tavern Burger was something I wanted to like was more than I actually did. The concept sounded great. Thick burger, pepper jack cheese, spicy remoluade sauce, and grilled onions.  It was served with either fries or tots and I chose tots.  When the burger came to my table it certainly looked big and appealing, and I could definitely tell it had all the elements just like the description stated. However, what was missing was something you can't see. Flavor. Despite the grilled onions, and sauce, and cheese it was just kind of bland. It wasn't as if the condiments were covering the flavor of the meat because I wasn't getting the spice I expected from the cheese or the sauce either. I will say that it was a very juicy burger even though it was cooked to well done without an option as to how it could have been prepared. The bun was toasted and was ok but it may have been a bit too large. I also wish the onions had been grilled and caramelized a little more. I think just a couple more minutes would have let them add that nice sweet flavor they can contribute. The tots were tasty and well seasoned, but they were your basic tater tots.

Even though maybe the burger was only a little better than okay I will say I liked eating at Drake's quite a bit. It was a nice day so we walked in and seated ourselves in front of the bar area and right near the open "garage doors" that make up the front of the restaurant. I like the semi al fresco dining experience a lot more than places that have patio seating under umbrellas. Our server was nice and service was prompt. I think Drake's is definitely worthy of another shot especially if I can gather some friends that will share some of that sushi with me.

Rating 6.5/10

Drake's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fourth of July Food our Independence Day! Those are the immortal words of President Bill Pullman before he got in his fighter jet and kicked alien butt back on July, 4 1996. In celebration of this momentus occasion it is an American tradition to gather with family and friends, watch Will Smith sci-fi films and eat copious amounts of food. Of course everyone has their own outdoor grilling favorites for the 4th, but I like to keep it pretty basic with burgers, dogs, and maybe some brats or Italian sausage. I think where you can really set your cookout apart though is in what you or your guests bring for side dishes. So if you have a unique side that you like to bring to cookouts go ahead and leave it in the comments or better yet post your recipe or give us a link to one. I'll start.  In our family we have a traditional dessert that is at every holiday gathering called Cherry Delight. It was originally made by my grandmother and now my mom, but the premise is simple. It's a lighter and more airy version of a cherry cheesecake and it is fantastic. Also, I've convinced The Fiance to make a mixed berry cobbler this year. Yum.  Also, does anyone actually make this flag cake thing that is on the cover of every grocery store magazine in the month of July?

Monday, July 1, 2013

A New "Best Burger in the City" at Fat Dan's Deli

Sobro. That's the annoying portmanteau of a phrase that people use to describe the area just south of Broadripple's main drag. When you get there you'll probably find a couple things 1. Annoying hipsters everywhere (You're a 25 year old man. Your handle bar mustache just makes you look like a moron.) and 2. a lot of cool independent restaurants with good food and good beer. Just in case you couldn't figure it out by my parenthetical commentary I go for the latter rather than the former. Over the weekend I decided to make the trek down there from my home on the far North side to find a gem known as Fat Dan's Deli.

As some of you might know Fat Dan's used to be located right on Broadripple Ave and is known for a being a place known for Chicago favorites such as Italian beef and real Chicago style hotdogs. After disappearing from that location for a few months they have reopened with a vengence at the new location at 54th and College across from the Fresh Market and right next door to Twenty Tap.  While the former location had limited seating and you ordered at the counter the new restaurant is much larger, has a bar area with good craft beers on tap (as well as the Chicago favorite Old Style), and table service.  The last time I visited Fat Dan's I got the dipped Italian Beef with melt-your-face gardinera and it was fantastic so this time I wanted to try something different. I had heard good things about the burgers so I wanted to see for myself.

I decided to go with the Wells St Fat Burger with an order of "The Best Fries in the Universe". This version of their "Fat Burger" line included grilled onions, bacon, bbq sauce, and gorgonzola cheese. At first you might think those are some pretty assertive flavors to put on one burger, and you'd be right but man it works in a great way. The onions had that wonderful sweetness, the bbq sauce added tang, the bacon was fairly thick and had a wonderful smokiness and great chew, and the gorgonzola probably would have been out of place on most burgers but here it was necessary to not get covered up by the other flavors. A slice of  Swiss or American would have just faded into the background.  Also, the burger itself was excellent and cooked perfectly to medium just as I asked. That in and of itself is a rarity in this city.  The fries, served in a giant pile on butcher paper with your sandwich, are easily a big enough portion for 2 or 3 and are absolutely delicious. They are not only the great fresh cut, double fried, variety but they are also perfectly seasoned. I also liked the addition of some cottage fry pieces in with the regular french fry cut variety.  The burger was $8.50 and the fries were $3.75. A little on the high side, but well within reason for the great quality you're getting. There are plenty of restaurants charging twice or 3 times that much for burgers that are of lesser quality.

Rating 10/10 Perfect score. I rarely hand those out, but this is literally a can't miss. The service was great. The burger is the best in the city. The fries are the best in the city. And it won't break the bank. Get there asap.

Fat Dan's Chicago-Style Deli on Urbanspoon