One of my fondest memories from my teenage years in England is running cross-country in Northern France. My team-mates and I would hop on a ferry from Portsmouth on Saturday, run a cross-country race on Sunday, and be late for school on Monday. The cross-country courses in France were notoriously lame. We used to joke about how the organizers just asked a farmer to move his cows out of a field so we could run laps around it. Obstacles came in the form of cowpats and the occasional conveniently-placed log.
But the courses aren’t what I remember. It’s the fine French food that we teens gorged ourselves on all weekend that I can still almost taste. One time I was almost late for my race because I was enjoying cheese fondue with fresh bread at my host family’s house…that race didn’t go so well. Another trip, a team-mate overindulged on creme brulee the night before the race and had some unpleasant stomach issues on race morning! And then there was the meat that everyone was sure was horse, but tasted so delicious we ate it anyway.
You had Me at Bonjour
So I wasn’t in the least surprised when I found out that the breakfast biscuits I’ve been enjoying for much more than just breakfast were created in France. I discovered belVita in June last year, when I tasted a sample after a triathlon. I couldn’t believe how great they tasted and grabbed as many I could carry to share with my friends. Those didn’t last long so I stocked up at my local supermarket…thankfully they were on sale.
I started taking belVita biscuits with me on weekend bike rides. During 60 mile rides I like to have a tasty snack and belVita fit perfectly in my bento box. And with each package of 4 biscuits containing 8 grams of fat (only 0.5 of which is saturated), 35 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein, they were just what I needed to keep me riding strong. They became a staple in my pantry; great for pre-and post-workout and on-the-go snacks that didn’t leave me hungry 20 minutes later.
I was delighted when FitFluential LLC asked me to review belVita. I was already sold on them and couldn’t wait to share how much I liked them. When the box of samples (as if I needed samples, but of course I took them!) arrived via UPS I literally jumped up and down with excitement. I actually had not tried all the flavors; cinnamon brown sugar and chocolate were new to me as I had only been buying golden oat, blueberry, and apple cinnamon.
I thought there could be nothing better than the fruit flavored belVita, but then I tried the cinnamon brown sugar and decided that was better. Until I tried the chocolate. Oh my. In England we have a biscuit (cookie) known as bourbon (yes, we name all our biscuits after liquor) and that’s exactly what the chocolate belVita tastes like, although a bourbon is two biscuits with chocolate cream in between. With so many choices of belVita, I started experimenting a little. I had chocolate belVita with an apple and glass of milk. Blueberry belVita with greek yogurt and blueberries. Cinnamon brown sugar belVita with choc milk and a clementine. And, for a party, I served golden oat belVita with starfruit and goat cheese.
Now, given that this is a review by yours truly, there has to be something I don’t like. Much as I love (and I do, in case that wasn’t obvious) belVita, I think they could have less sugar. They are plenty sweet and I think they could get away with a couple less than the 11g of sugar per package. I mean, we’re taking about a breakfast biscuit here, not a cookie. I’d like to see that number in the single digits. One thing that I do find strange is that you find belVita in the cracker/cookie aisle. Shouldn’t they be in the cereal/breakfast aisle? The first time I went to buy belVita at the grocery store I couldn’t find them. I happened to be in the cracker aisle looking for goldfish for my kids when I stumbled across them. So are they a breakfast biscuit, a cracker, or a cookie? I think it’s confusing. Still, once I have them in my grubby hand I no longer really care about all that.
…and the Ugly.
Back to my sample boxes for a minute. Unfortunately, I think the UPS carrier was practicing his kettlebell swing with my package as some of the biscuits didn’t fare too well on their journey, and looked like this on arrival:
Seeing the broken belVita, however, gave me an idea. I wondered how a belVita crumb crust would taste. Some pears that had failed to ripen properly were languishing in the fridge and I realized that they would be great poached in a tart. I found a recipe on Epicurious and replaced the pie crust with a crumb crust. I then followed the recipe (mostly) for the rest of the tart. I know it’s a long recipe, but seriously, this was very easy to make. I avoid any recipe that looks complicated or has
more than 3 a lot of steps. With this recipe I poached the pears and made the crust in the evening (the pears need to soak for 8 hours and the crust is best chilled) and simply assembled and baked it the next day. You’ll notice that, if I didn’t have something, I substituted something else…usually similar. That’s just how I roll…and why my cooking is so hit or miss.
The recipe follows this post. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to pick up a box of belVita next time you’re in the cracker aisle!
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FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own.
belVita Pear Tart
(or, as they say in French, belVita Tarte de Poivre ooh la la…)
Ingredients for crust:
- 3 packages chocolate belVita biscuits (12 biscuits total), crushed in food processor or with rolling pin if you need to vent some frustration
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1/4 cup sugar
Combine ingredients and press into 10 inch pie dish. Cool in fridge.
Ingredients for pear mixture:
- 4 cups cranberry juice cocktail (I didn’t have this so used Cheribundi tart cherry juice, capri sun, and juice from canned cranberries)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 large firm-ripe pears, quartered, peeled, cored, reserved in bowl of cold water with dash lemon juice
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries (I used a can leftover from Thanksgiving since I didn’t have dried)
In a kettle combine cranberry juice, sugar, cinnamon stick, lemon juice, bring to boil, and add pears. Simmer gently for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove kettle from heat, stir in cranberries, allow to cool. Chill, covered, for at least 8 hours. (Can be made 3 days in advance and kept chilled.) Transfer poached pear and half the cranberries with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Discard cinnamon stick, reserve syrup with remaining cranberries.
Ingredients for filling:
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest (I didn’t have an orange so used a clementine.)
In small bowl whisk all the ingredients plus pinch of salt. Spoon half the custard into the crust. Arrange pear quarters and drained cranberries on the custard, then spoon remaining custard around the pears. Bake in the middle of a preheated 325 degree F. oven for 50 – 55 minutes, or until custard is just set.
In a saucepan boil reserved syrup and cranberries until syrup is reduced to about 1 cup and is jellylike in consistency. Transfer cranberries to a plate to cool. Brush pears with some of the cranberry glaze and arrange cranberries in the middle of the tart. Serve the tart warm or chilled.