Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Slim & Slim Mango and Grape "Jelly"
When I first came to Japan, diet foods were pretty much nonexistent. There were pleasantly chubby Japanese girls, but they were seen as "healthy", not "fat". In the past decade and a half, diet foods and focusing on weight loss has grown exponentially. You see more products with "Zero" on them every year.
Part of me is sad about this because I think that it reflects diet obsession, which is never a good thing. Part of me is glad because I am a willing consumer of such foods. Of course, I have an excuse, I arrived in this country "pre-corrupted" by Western obsessions with dieting. Sometimes I think that the more we focus on our eating, the fatter we get, and I worry that the Japanese may eventually fall victim to the same problems as Westerners as their culture learns to promote fear of weight gain to sell products which eventually end up causing weight gain and food obsession.
Sociological issues aside, and I'm sorry to get so serious, but sometimes things take on a life of their own, I decided to finally dive in and try one of the plethora of zero calorie "jellies" (actually, it's what we call "gelatin" in the U.S.). I've seen big, single-serving size tubs of them in convenience stores and snack shops for quite some time and had passed on them. When these two varieties of smaller size jellies showed up for 89 yen (97 cents) per bag at Okashi no Machioka, I decided to dive in.
Note that I have tried regular (that is to say, sugar-filled) Japanese single serving gelatin tubs before. I wasn't a fan of them because they seemed toothachingly sweet. I can compare these sugar-free versions directly to that version. The first ingredient is Erythritol on both flavors and their respective fruit purees are the second. I don't understand how each can be zero calories and contain fruit puree, but there it is. The mango version is colored with carotene and paprika.
The mango has a pleasantly fruity smell and a nice mango flavor. It's not too strong, but it is rather sweet. It mainly lacks the citrus tones that you get with a real mango, but the flavor isn't bad at all. The grape smells like a grape lollipop and pretty much tastes like one. I think both of these would have a bit more punch with some citric acid or the equivalent.
I tried these both refrigerated and at room temperature and they're more pleasant when cold. The texture is pretty much what you'd expect for gelatin, though this is less firm and rather soft set compared to American gelatin like that you make with Jell-O mixes. Both also have a bit of liquid which tastes like juice around the outside.
These are pleasant tasting and not painfully sweet (which is better than the sugar-based jellies I tried before). They're even a little bit of a refreshing mouthful (each tub is 22 grams/.77 oz.) in hot weather when you have them cold. The thing that did surprise me though is that they tended to suppress appetite. Perhaps the gelatin is designed to achieve this effect, or it was just psychology, but I really did find that eating two of them (I tended to eat one of each flavor each time) killed my hunger for awhile.
I'd recommend buying these and putting one in your refrigerator if you're on a diet or have a tendency to eat more than you'd like. I think the mango is better than the grape, but both are fine. These aren't healthy at all since they have a chemical cocktail (Acesulfame K, Sucralose), but they seemed to serve me well when hunger struck and I either couldn't eat or didn't want to.