Friday, May 26, 2017

the cost of a rescue cat

Today I want to talk about cat adoption fees. The reason being, people often ask me about the fee charged by the rescue with which I volunteer. The reaction is usually shock. Then they sometimes say that they can get a kitten for free off the street, from a friend, etc. So, I want to explain why, in general, adoption fees exist.

This is going to be long and soapbox-y, so bear with me...

I volunteer with the Stratford Cat Project ("SCP"), a volunteer-run no-kill cat rescue. It's not a shelter, but rather a network of foster homes that care for rescued cats and kittens until they can be adopted. I don't volunteer as much as I used to since I've moved to another part of the state, but I try to help out when I can. People often ask me cat questions, which I try to answer; however, the most often-asked question is, "how much is the adoption fee?" I always inwardly cringe, because I always get the same reaction--shock. I then quickly explain why the fee is what it is, usually in a defensive manner because it frustrates me so much that people don't realize there's work and money that goes into taking in, caring for, and adopting out a cat.

Our rescue charges $150.00 for a kitten, and $125.00 for a cat (one year old or older). This is less than what it costs the rescue for each animal, which totals more than $200.00 per kitten and a bit less for a cat. However, this does not take into account any newly discovered, pre-existing or developing health issues, any catastrophic occurrences that require more vet care (such as being hit by a car, having a broken limb, etc.; many animals come to us in really rough shape and the stories are very sad). As you can see, the rescue makes no money off the adoption fee. And the cost I just mentioned is WITH a discount from the rescue's vet. If you were to take a kitten off the street and go to your vet, the cost would be at least double what the rescue pays.

Can you get free kittens or cats? Of course you can. They're all over the place: ads are on Craigslist or posted on community boards in pet stores; Facebook friends have kittens they need to offload, because they didn't spay their female cat (don't even get me started on that one...), or they have a friend who has a box of kittens that was dumped off on their doorstep; sometimes they're just walking along the street or they show up on your doorstep and "adopt" you. If you're lucky you'll end up with a kitten that is a little bundle of joy, is social, and doesn't have any illnesses or behavioral issues. If you're unlucky, you'll get one that's anti-social or even feral; one that's scared of its own shadow; has feline leukemia or any other illness that gives the appearance of normal; might be flee- or tick-infested; might be sick with an upper respiratory infection or conjunctivitis; might have some serious behavioral issues; or may have the dreaded ringworm fungus. While ringworm is not life-threatening, it is labor intensive to get this fungus cleared up and then disinfect your home. This is how many cats and kittens end up at rescues and shelters, as people generally don't have the patience and/or money to deal with these things.

By adopting a cat or kitten from a rescue, you're typically getting an animal that is up to date on all its vaccinations; has had testing to ensure its disease-free; has had its health issues addressed, if necessary; has been loved and cared for by many volunteers, thus it had typically been socialized well (although there will always be ones that are more timid by nature); and has been spayed or neutered (SCP does not allow the cat or kitten to be adopted out until it has been spayed or neutered).

I'm not saying that all cats and kittens don't deserve to be rescued or that you shouldn't rescue them--they do and you should. What I'm saying is that if you are looking to adopt a cat from a rescue, don't gripe about the adoption fee. The money you pay to the rescue helps to offset--not completely cover--the high cost of vaccinations, testing for disease, spaying or neutering, feeding and housing that cat/kitten until it's time to adopt it out, any necessary medications, and the time that goes into evaluating, monitoring, caring for, and socializing that little ball of fur.   

One other thing I want to say: if you adopt a cat or kitten, give it time to acclimate to your house, family and other pets. This doesn't happen in one day! I see so many people post online that they brought the cat back to the rescue because it was hiding under the bed all day after being in the new home for only a day. (One day! That's not even enough time for ME to adjust to the cat, left alone the cat to adjust to us and our house.) Sure, some will adjust very quickly, usually kittens. Others take a little longer. And still others, even longer. One of my cats took a full three weeks to feel comfortable enough to venture into other parts of the house by herself, and another week or two to fully acclimate to my house. Was it frustrating? Yes. Did I occasionally feel like it would never happen? Yes. But that's how it goes sometimes. And keep in mind, the cat or kitten you're seeing in those first weeks isn't always the cat it will end up being; those first weeks are tough not only for you, but for her, too. If you don't have the patience to deal with this, or don't want to deal with this, then you might want to skip getting a cat.

Hopefully I've helped you (the general "you") understand why rescues charge what they charge for adopting a cat or kitten. In general, this fee is not even covering the most basic vet expenses associated with each animal, let alone the more complex vet services, medicines, food and their time. In other words, they're not "making money by selling cats."

These are the kitties I adopted from SCP over the last few years.

This is Marty. He loves belly rubs and is very affectionate. I wouldn't have guessed he would turn out like this when we first got him, as he took a little while to acclimate. Even today, six months later, he still runs as we approach him sometimes. But then he comes right back; he's a little weird. LOL

Tiffany took no time at all to acclimate. She took the stance that she's the new queen bee of the house and just went with it.

Leia took the longest of them all to get used to us and the house. Although she was in a busy foster home with people in and out all the time, she was a little freaked out by the new surroundings. It took her a good three weeks before she would come out of her bedroom and down the stairs, and then another couple weeks to really feel at-home. There were times when I was ready to call SCP and say it wasn't working out. But I stuck with it because I knew what she was like before. Today, she's a pretty social kitty and loves chest rubs--chest rubs make her coo like a pigeon. As you can see, she's not exactly a lady...

This is Louise (above) and her sister Thelma (below). They are sisters. They came from a hoarding situation and were two of the few cats (out of more than 80) that were able to be saved. They were in SCP for several years before we adopted them. Strangely enough, they had no problems acclimating to the house. It's been about five years and, to this day, they really don't care for the other cats in the house. They're social with us, but not the cats. Although there are a couple they will tolerate.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

weekly cookbook project: oatmeal raisin muffins

I'd said at the beginning of the year that I was going to commit to making one recipe per week from one of my cookbooks; I have a bunch of them and I never really use them.  I was going fine up until my tummy tuck surgery at the end of February. I knew there would be a few weeks where I was out of commission, but I didn't think it would take me almost three months to get back into the swing of things. To be fair, my incision opened up a bit and was quite sensitive for many weeks, my dad died, and then I was sick for over two weeks. So, here I am. It's almost the end of May and I haven't cooked much at all in the last few months.

I was aiming for a recipe for which I had all the ingredients, or nearly all of them. And I wanted a recipe that would make use of a few ingredients that I've had on hand for awhile and just haven't used. In this case it was rolled oats and raisins. I flipped through my King Arthur Flour's Baker's Companion book and found a recipe for oatmeal muffins--raisins optional. It looked really easy and the only thing I needed to buy was buttermilk. And I HATE buying buttermilk. It always seems way overpriced and the carton is way bigger than what I need and will use. But I went for it anyway. Luckily I found a quart container for $1.69, which was a bargain compared to some others I've seen. And if I had to dump the rest, I wouldn't feel like I'd wasted a bunch of money. Worse comes to worse, I can make banana cupcakes or buttermilk pancakes and freeze them.

So, this recipe was super simple. You just put the rolled oats and buttermilk in a container to soak overnight and then the next day you dump in all the other ingredients, stir, fill the muffin pan and bake for 18-20 minutes.  The recipe stated a yield of "12 generous-sized muffins." That tells me nothing. My muffin pans are all standard size, but they certainly didn't look like they would yield a "generous-sized muffin," So, I checked the back of the book, which has a "Tools" chapter. It mentioned the depth of the wells in the muffin pan and according to what it said, the recipe would be too much for my pans. No big deal--I simply got 17 smaller muffins instead of 12 bigger ones. And, actually, that worked out better for me. The smaller size meant I could eat a whole muffin without making me feel stuffed or overloading me with sugar.

I like these muffins. The texture is a little on the chewier side, which I actually like. I can taste the buttermilk and the raisins are very plump, although they pretty much settled at the bottom for the most part.  My only complaint is that I couldn't detect the pieces of oatmeal. I tasted it, but the oats themselves disappeared. If I make these again, I plan to soak the oatmeal for a shorter period of time. Maybe I'll put them in to soak in the morning and then cook them in the early afternoon.

The nutritional content is as follows based on the number of muffins I got out of it (17):  112 calories, 13g sugar, 4g fat, 19g carbs, and 2g protein. Bigger muffins would have been about 160 calories. Obviously these will be tough to eat for someone who can't have a lot of sugar, but they fall right in the sweet spot (no pun intended!) for me. No, I shouldn't be eating them, but this is how I live post-WLS life--in moderation and including treats now and then.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

back to the trainer i go!

Thursday night was my first session with my personal trainer since my surgery in February.

I worked out Tuesday and Wednesday, despite the sore muscles. Same routine as Monday:  20 minutes of walking on the treadmill, followed by three sets of 20 squats, 20 lunges, and 10 dumbbell presses with 10 pound dumbbells. It was a tiny bit easier this time around, but I was pretty tired when I was done. As expected, Monday's post-workout muscle soreness had fully set in by Wednesday and I was VERY sore!  My legs were sore in general, but my quads were really sore. So much so that it was a project to use the toilet. I made sure to use the handicapped stall, because it has railings I could use to lower myself down.  I am SO glad that I started working out on my own earlier in the week. I got the worst of the soreness over with and it got me back into the mindset to workout.

When I went to the trainer Thursday night, he had a ton of questions about how the surgery went, what they did, how I felt afterwards, how I feel now, my range of movement, etc.  He started me off with a warm-up:  three sets of jogging in place, jumping jacks, and very slow mountain climbers. Mountains climbers weren't hard, but I definitely wasn't able to do them the proper way. He then had me do four sets of lunges, with each set being three complete round trips across the studio.  Next were three sets of 10 squats holding a 5 pound weight. I then did three sets of 10 sumo squats with a 15 pound kettle bell. Finally, it was three sets of lateral pull-downs with a very light weight (not sure what it was). I honestly didn't feel anything in my abs until it was time to do the lateral pull-downs. My squads and thighs were killing me, but that's it. The pull-downs weren't difficult, but they tired me out and my abs were sore. Actually, it wasn't pain, really. It felt like a punching when I pulled down on the bar, and like I was being stretched out when bringing the bar back up. After that I was done for the night. He gave me A LOT of rest periods, but I was still pretty beat.

Basically, I'm pretty much starting from almost the beginning again. He estimates it will take me at least a month or more to get back to where I was before surgery. For now, he wants me to work out only three days a week. It will give me plenty of recovery time and will help me to slowly get back up to speed. He didn't make me do any squat jumps (thank you!!), since those bother me right now. It's the combination of jumping up and reaching up with my arms at the same time, I think. And no push-ups. (Darn....)  He said we'll try a push-up in a few weeks once I've gotten back into the swing of things and my ab muscles are healed a bit more. Knowing how I felt last week doing that one push-up, I'm already pretty nervous for the day when he has me try again. Logically, I know I'm not a fragile flower and I'm pretty well healed, but I can't help but worry that doing a push-up will tear apart my surgically repaired ab muscles. It won't--it's just me being a big ol' baby.  And I have to get over it if I want to move forward.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

sore muscles and a bruised ego

Yesterday I went back to working out for the first time since my tummy tuck. I'm sore, and my ego is a bit bruised today.

My last workout was February 24--that's a little over 10 weeks since my last workout. I would have started earlier; however, the middle of my incision separated about three weeks after surgery and it just recently closed up completely. I didn't want to cause any delay in it closing up, plus it was quite sensitive in that area, so I decided to wait until it was closed to start working out again. Could I have done some very basic moves? Yes. But, like I said, I really didn't want to cause any delays in healing the incision.

I made an appointment to go back to my trainer this coming Thursday and decided I should work out a bit before going back. That way I can get the initial soreness over with and hopefully be back in the swing by then. When trying to figure out what I should do for my first workout, I took a look at the ones my trainer gave me when I first started last year. I have to say, I was quite shocked at how little it actually was, but how much it seemed to be at that time: three sets of 10 squats, 10 lunges, 10 jump squats and however many pushups I could do. And that's it. So, I figured I'd do the squats and lunges at the very least. I didn't want to do jump squats given there's still some sensitivity and skin movement (aka "jiggling") in certain areas, and I figured I wouldn't be able to do pushups yet. But three sets of 10 squats and 10 lunges seemed way too easy. And lazy on my part after all I'd been able to do before surgery. So, I decided on three sets of 20 squats, 20 lunges, 10 dumbbell presses with 10 pound dumbbells, and 20 minutes of walking on the treadmill.

How did it go? I did it. I started with the treadmill to warm up. I normally walk at 3.0 MPH or a little faster, but I had to keep it around 2.8 MPH since it was tiring me out. I then started my three sets: lunges, then squats, and then the dumbbell presses. It started out good, although my knees cracked with every lunge. I struggled a little getting through 20 squats, but I did it. The dumbbell presses were pretty easy. Well, halfway through my second set, the muscle soreness set in. Big time. So then I started my third set. I nearly fell over when I started the lunges. That's how sore my muscles got. I rested for a couple minutes and walked it off, then tried again. I got through the rest of it and finished.

I then tried a pushup. I was feeling good because I accomplished something and got a bit cocky about it, I admit. Big mistake. Big. The pain took my breath away for a few seconds and I got up as fast as I could to walk it off. It felt like someone stabbed me in the abs. That's because of all the muscle repair the surgeon had to do. Until that moment, I had no idea how much core strength it takes to be able to do a pushup. Needless to say, I was done at that point. I won't be trying that again until I build the muscles back up.

I was really surprised the soreness set in before I even finished the workout. I was expecting it to happen maybe a little while afterwards or last night. Not halfway through! Today I'm sore, although not as bad as when I first started last year. But, yeah, I feel like a weakling today.

Unfortunately, weight loss surgery didn't magically make me into someone who loves working out. It happens for may WLS patients, but not me. I wish it was different, but it is what it is: for the rest of my life it will be something I do because I need to maintain my weight and stay healthy. But I have to say, although I don't necessarily enjoy working out, I really miss how strong I felt when I was at my best before the tummy tuck. I miss the feeling of knowing I can lift the 40 pound bag of cat litter without struggling, or lug around a wet bag of mulch. I miss knowing I can complete a tough hour-long workout and not drop dead. And I miss pointing out my big quad muscles to my husband; I get a little thrill out of that for some reason. He's not quite as impressed as I am, though.

It's back in the gym today. I'll just have to work through the soreness, just like I did last year when I first started out. (And while at work I'm making sure to use the handicap bathroom stall--it's got the highest toilet and railings on the side. That way I don't have as far to go when sitting down.)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

another attempt at baking powder biscuits

My last attempt at making baking powder biscuits didn't go so well, mainly because I hadn't checked the expiration date of the baking powder; apparently, you need to do that. The biscuits came out very flat. They tasted like they're were supposed it, but they definitely didn't look like a proper biscuit.

I tried again this week, using fresh baking powder. While they rose higher, they were tough. I think I over mixed or over kneaded the dough. They tasted OK, though. The toughness didn't matter in this case, because I also made sausage gravy, which was poured over them to make biscuits and gravy.

I'll have to try again, maybe this weekend. Hopefully the third time is the charm.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

i can wear pants again!

Well, I could wear pants before. What I mean is I can finally, after more than two months, wear pants that have a button and zipper! I know, it's quite the accomplishment. It is. Really! 

After my tummy tuck I could wear only pajama pants because I needed something very soft and loose-fitting. When it was time to go back to work, I really struggled to find pants with either a drawstring waist or a very loose-fitting elastic waist; it was harder than I thought it would be. I ended up putting together a hodge-podge mixture of $5.00 Walmart leggings that just didn't fit right (but I made them work) or decided after the fact I didn't like them; workout leggings from the plus-sized clothing store with a tighter elastic waist, which weren't always very comfortable, and also soft velour leggings; and a few pairs of leggings I actually felt comfortable in. It was a trying time. I wore a skirt a few times, but pantyhose were also a problem so I had to buy stay-up thigh highs, which was a very weird feeling at work knowing I had those on.

During the last two months I tried on my old pants a few times; however, they made my hips feel bruised and the bottom of the zipper landed right where my incision had separated and was still healing. (Plus, a certain body part is now exposed and level with my abs, where it had been barely exposed prior to surgery. Very sensitive!) My old pants are all "skinny" pants leaning strongly towards tailored leggings, so there was no room to breathe in them. Soft and stretchy, but still tight enough to not be comfortable yet. I gave up and decided to wait until the incision was completely closed before trying again.

Today was the day and I'm happy to say my old pants fit and they're comfortable. It feels so good to be wearing regular pants again. Workout capris and leggings were getting pretty old.

I haven't tried my jeans yet. I think I'll wait for the weekend. Baby steps.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

chicken pot pie casserole

I realized today, as I was going through my pictures on my SD card, that I never posted this recipe I tried. It's a take on a turkey pot pie. But since it's not Thanksgiving and I didn't have turkey in the house, I used some chicken I had poached for other purposes. So, we'll call it chicken pot pie casserole.

I got the recipe here:  Cauliflower Crust Pot Pie. (She's got a lot of great bariatric-friendly recipes there!) The only changes I made was to sub in chicken for turkey, and I left out the parsley. I don't keep parsley on hand and wasn't about to go buy it just for this. Oh, and I used frozen peas and carrots (2 cups total). The ones that come in the same bag together. It's much faster and easier than dicing raw carrots.

This was a good way to use up some items I had on hand. but either hadn't gotten around to using, or needed to use because there was just so much of it.  I had a small amount of quinoa in the cabinet, and a bag of frozen riced cauliflower that I bought and just hadn't found a use for. I also had that leftover poached chicken. I always buy the 5 pound family pack of boneless skinless chicken breast, so I always have a lot left over after a grilled chicken dinner.

This recipe was easy and it tasted great. My only issue was that it took much longer than 30 minutes for the crust to be done to my liking. I didn't want it to be mushy, so I cooked it for almost an hour so it was crisp up a little and get browned. But that's totally up to you as to how you want it done. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

today's lunch: Green Giant Steamers and boneless chicken thighs

I'm in a funk again when it comes to putting together my work lunch. I typically bring some rolled-up lunchmeat and mustard for dipping, but that's getting really boring. I think one of my biggest struggles sometimes is figuring out what to eat that doesn't get boring, but isn't overly fussy or complicated at the same time.

Recently I stocked up on frozen veggie mixes in an effort to eat more veggies and to have something different, but still easy. I found a bunch of Green Giant Steamers on sale for $1.00 each a couple months ago, so I grabbed some and tossed them in the freezer. Then I promptly forgot about them, Well...that's not 100% true. I didn't exactly forget about them. Rather, I came across them a few times when looking for something else in the freezer and said, "Hmmm. I need to start using those. What else looks better in here??" Then I'd shut the door, to be forgotten until another day.

This week I finally started using them. I got lazy a couple times and didn't prepare my lunch the night before, and of course I was running late for work the next morning (like always; not sure why I'm always late for work but never anything else...). I had a plate of grilled boneless chicken thighs in the fridge, so I tossed a thigh in a container and grabbed the Green Giant Steamers Healthy Weight veggie blend and was on my way.

So here's today's lunch. I just microwaved the bag of veggies for 4 minutes, heated the chicken for about 2 minutes, and then tossed it all in one container. The veggie mix is sliced carrots, sugar snap peas, black beans, and edamame in a butter sauce. The chicken had enough seasoning, so I didn't add any salt; however, the veggies by themselves might be better with some salt or seasonings. This is the whole box, which is two servings. It's 180 calories total, plus whatever is in the chicken.

Very fast, very convenient, I got my veggies in, and it tasted good.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

the week in review

The crab apples trees are ready to bloom!

It's been a while since my last post, so I thought I'd write an update.

I've been sick for over a week. Last Saturday I started with a scratchy throat. I thought, "OK. I'm getting a cold. This sucks, but no big deal." Wrong. Sunday I woke up feeling like I had razor blades in my throat. Every time I swallowed, I wanted to cry and die at the same time. It hurt in my ears, my glands were swollen, and I had a bad headache and a little congestion in my throat. This last for FIVE days. I went to the doctor for a strep test and it was negative, of course. (I was actually hoping it was strep so I'd get some antibiotics and it would be gone.) I tried things that I found online, such as a spoonful of honey. The relief lasted about three minutes. Honey is way too high in sugar for that to be a go-to option, so I scrapped that. I tried gargling with salt water and also mouthwash. Neither helped. I tried throat numbing spray and lozenges. Those helped slightly.  Wednesday night I was so desperate I started Googling:  "will dilaudid work on a sore throat." Dilaudid is the narcotic that was prescribed when I had the tummy tuck in February. I had some left and decided to save it for an emergency. I scrapped the idea of taking the dilaudid, since I didn't feel like I'd get much bang for my buck. I stuck with Tylenol and/or ibuprofen and DayQuil, which I used throughout the week and seemed to help take the edge off at least. I drank a lot of tea, too (in case anyone cares, my favorite is Bigelow Constant Comment).

So, on Thursday I then started with a cold. Wonderful. I was headed out of town to meet my cousin and since I didn't actually feel that bad anymore, I went. I continued with the cold medicine and switch to ibuprofen. I felt mostly OK. Much better than earlier in the week, anyway. I rested off and on in the hotel room, drank a ton of water, and used Halls throat lozenges when I didn't have water. My throat was pretty sore by the end of each day, but, again, not nearly as bad as earlier in the week.

Yesterday I'm driving home and it feels like I have something in my eye so I start rubbing it. By the time I got home, I had some discharge and my eye was tearing. It continued all evening and then started swelling and getting red. Bob thought it was pink eye. Fabulous. I've never had pink eye so I had no idea what it looked or felt like, or that it's highly contagious. Today I wake up and my eye is sealed shut from all the gunk (I know, TMI). It was also swollen and getting itchy. I decided to go to the walk-in clinic near my house, rather than waiting for tomorrow for the doctor. Diagnosis?  Pink eye. The doctor prescribed some eye drops, which I'm now taking.

Is there any bright side to this week+ of misery? Yes. I got to see my favorite cousin and we had a good time.  My incision is almost closed, which means I'll be headed back to my trainer soon.  And today I'm wearing pants without my compression garment. I tried going without it a couple weeks ago when I was wearing workout capris, but it was irritating to my belly button. For several weeks I've been going without it once I change out of my regular clothes, but still wore it with my work clothes. Seems to be OK now, though. Getting there!

This is my lawn. I love the Springtime when the lawn is covered in white and purple flowers. I know they technically weeds, but they look pretty. Shortly after I took this picture, Bob mowed over them with the tractor. 😥

It's gorgeous today and all the trees and flowers are in bloom. My two baby apple trees are blooming, as well as the established ones. The baby trees, although they are budding, will take several years to bear fruit.

Here are my two established apple trees. I think they're McIntosh, but I'm not sure.
Here's are the fruit clusters. I'm really hoping I have a big harvest this year. I got none at all last year.
This is my Liberty apple tree. When planting apple trees, it is recommended to plant several
different varieties so that they cross pollinate and produce more fruit.

As you can see, it's budding.
Here's my baby McIntosh apple tree.
It's budding, too! I wonder if it will produce any fruit this year?
My garden is blooming, too. Ignore all the dead stuff. I haven't gotten out there to weed yet. I have lots of daffodils, some tulips coming in, the poppies are starting to grow and the phlox is blooming nicely.

I have lots of frogs in my little pond. They all squeak and then jump in the water as soon as they see me coming.
I was able to take a picture of this guy, though.
Now that Spring is here, it's time to bury Felix's ashes. I'm thinking I may put him next to Thomas's grave. I'll need to find more kitty statues. I find them at tag sales typically and use them as grave markers. 

This is Thomas's grave. I got the two kitty statues at the Stratford Cat Project semi-annual tag sale last year. 

I'm hoping this illness goes away very soon and that this week is a better week. Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

ice cream tastings

First of all, Happy Easter! I'm home sick, so I figured I'd finish this post I started a couple days ago.

Awhile back I tried one of the new light "ice cream" products that came out and it didn't blow me away.  (Actually, it was an ice cream alternative, to be fair.) Since then, I've seen Halo Top all over Facebook and recently was told about Enlightened. Both of these are light ice creams that claim to be a better ice cream:  less sugar, fat and calories, and more protein.

This past week, one of my co-workers bought five pints total of Halo Top and Enlightened and brought them to work for a late-afternoon ice cream tasting. She's a body builder and is very health conscious, so leave it to her to find better alternatives to high-calorie and high-fat snacks. She miraculously found it on sale for less than $3.00 a pint (standard price is $4.00+).

Here's what we tried (links included since I hadn't planned on a blog post and have no pictures):

Enlightened:  Sea Salt Caramel:  This was good. I'm not usually a fan of this flavor in general, but I thought it was pretty good. The texture was like real ice cream and the flavor was better than the Halo Top Sea Salt Caramel.

Halo Top:  Sea Salt Caramel, Pistachio, Oatmeal Cookie, and Chocolate Almond Crunch:

Sea Salt Caramel: I didn't like the texture, which was like ice milk. And it seemed very artificially sweet.

Pistachio:  I didn't taste any pistachio flavor at all. It was basically sweet and green with a non-descriptive flavor. Texture was more like ice cream, though. It would have been nice if they added some actual pistachio nuts to it, too.

Oatmeal Cookie:  This was my favorite of all the ice creams we tried; everyone agreed. It has a good oatmeal cookie flavor and there were chewy bits of rolled oats. And the texture was like real ice cream. (This was the winner.)

Chocolate Almond Crunch:  I didn't taste the chocolate ice cream at all. All I could taste was almond, which was more of an almond extract flavor. The crunchy almonds were nice, but it just piled on more almond flavor, which wasn't needed. It was very sweet, but the texture was good.

My own personal taste test

Fresh off the Friday afternoon ice cream tasting, I decided to try a pint of Enlightened Brownies & Cookie Dough ice cream. I got it at my local grocery store and it was $4.99 a pint. I normally would not spend that on ice cream, even Ben & Jerry's, but I wanted to try something new and was excited about diet ice cream that might possible taste good. This is a brand new flavor and it's not even on their website yet, so I have no link to post.

Here is the nutrition label. As you can see, it has only 6 grams of sugar, but there are sugar alcohols in there to make up for that. It also has fiber, is low in calories, and has some added protein (milk protein isolate).

This ice cream freezes VERY hard. I couldn't get a spoon into at all. I don't know if it's my freezer setting, or if it's the ice cream. I had to microwave it for about 30 seconds at full power to soften it up so I could scoop it. Even then, chunks of it broke off and it didn't scoop very smoothly. Also, the core of the container was melted while the outsides were soft and the inner ring was hard.  That was bizarre.

I measured out the correct serving, which is a 1/2 cup. No, a serving is not the full pint! Although it would have been prior to weight loss surgery. Also, it gives the total calories for the whole pint on the lid. And even though this has 7 grams of protein per serving, you will not get brownie points (ha!) for eating the whole container under the guise that you're "getting in your protein." (It's not like I thought of doing that...)

This tasted good and had a good texture to it. It was somewhere between ice milk (blech!) and ice cream. It didn't taste as good when it started melting, so you might want to eat this before it melts. I didn't find it unpleasantly sweet. It has lower sugar, but also has sugar alcohols to add more sweetness. The ice cream didn't taste all that chocolatey, but that's pretty standard with light ice cream. Considering cocoa powder isn't high in calories, I'm thinking the could have added more to give it more of a chocolate punch.

Onto the chunks, which is the most important part of any ice cream (for me). It had some decent brownie and cookie dough chunks, and also had chocolate chips. It didn't mention chocolate chips on the container, so it was puzzling at first, but it was a nice surprise. I'm a lover of chunky ice cream, so I was happy that I could actually see the chunks and they had some bite to them. Prior to surgery, my ice cream of choice was one that was more chunks that ice cream. Actually, I often added more to whatever ice cream I bought. When I was a kid I used to take chocolate ice cream, or whatever was in the house actually, and add cereal, peanut butter and sometimes hot cocoa powder or chocolate milk mix. Yes, all at once in the same bowl.

I mentioned earlier that it gives the total calories for the whole pint on the lid. See what it says on the back of the pint?  It tells you to go ahead and eat the whole thing. I'm not usually a stickler or the food police, but this just seems wrong to me. I understand it's basically the same amount of calories for the whole pint and one serving of a premium ice cream, but still. I don't think a company that's supposed to be making good-for-you ice cream (it says it right on the container!!) should be encouraging people to gorge themselves on a whole pint of ice cream in one sitting.

I would buy this again; however, I definitely would wait until I could find it on sale. I'm not enough of an ice cream eater to want to spend $4.99 a pint. Not on light ice cream, anyway. Also, I would have to limit it to half a serving due to the sugar alcohols. If you think it will bother you, or already know that it does, eat just a couple spoonfuls at first to test the waters. I find that some sugar alcohols bother me and others don't, and that's mainly why I don't eat light ice cream or other "diet" snacks. I'd rather eat one or two spoonfuls of the real thing, both for the taste and satisfaction.

I definitely did not taste any of these ice creams with the notion that they would be identical to Ben & Jerry's or Haagan Dazs ice cream.  How can they be when these ice creams have a fraction of the sugar, fat and calories? I went into this knowing that these are substitutes for the real thing. That said, most of them were disappointing. Although, a couple were good enough that I would buy them again. If you're someone who really misses ice cream, you might like to try these.

Do you eat light ice creams or snacks? Have you found ones you like? Ones that are ghastly? Let me know in the comments!