Category Archives: Product Reviews

VEGA ONE BARS

Vega One Bar Arrival Collage

Vega-One-Bar-Family-ImageA few days ago I saw a box on my doorstep and was thrilled when I realized they were the new Vega One Bars.

I am not much of a bar lady, but was excited when I saw the ingredient list…finally some vegan protein bars that are not loaded with soy crisps.  In fact, Vegan One Bars don’t have any soy crisps in them at all (which is important to me since I avoid soy due to my hypothyroidism).  The protein base is made from Vega’s Complete Protein Blend (sprouted whole grain brown rice protein, pea protein).

I also appreciate the fact that Vega One Bars are gluten free and don’t have any artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners.

  • Gluten-free
  • 15g protein
  • 1.5g of Omega-3
  • 6g fiber
  • 1 billion dairy-free probiotics
  • 1 serving of greens

Now how about taste?  I was sent all three flavors; Chocolate Cherry, Chocolate Almond, and Double Chocolate.  My favorites were the Chocolate Almond and Double Chocolate.  As for the Cherry Chocolate bars, I wished they had a stronger “cherry” taste.  When I shared that with the people at Vega, they were very receptive and mentioned that they are always working to perfect their products and flavors.

kidcollage

These bars taste like an indulgent snack.  My daughter had one as an after-school snack and yelled out, “These are AWESOOOOOOOOOOOOME!!!”  She doesn’t sugar-coat her opinions…trust me!

When I am in a pinch and out of time, the Vega One Bars will substitute well for breakfast or as an after-workout snack, though I will definitely not be eating them with abandon since at $47.79 for a box of 12, they have hefty value to them.  I take some comfort in the fact that they are loaded with important vitamins and probiotics which helps offset the cost in my mind a bit.

Vega One Bar Collage

At 250 calories they weigh in less calorically than most bars on the market.  While I wish the bars were lower in fat, I like that the fats come from natural fat sources such as Vega saviseed oil chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and nut butters.

Have any of you tried the bars yet?  What did you think?

I am headed to the Natural Products Expo West this weekend, so be prepared to hear about some new products and perhaps win a box of samples for yourself (it was fun doing that giveaway last year!!!!)

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The wonderful people at Vega sent the bars to me gratis, however the opinions are all mine.

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MEDITERRANEAN SNACKS – Baked Lentil Chips

Mediterranean Snack Foods recently sent me some of their Baked Lentil Chips to try.  After sampling the three varieties they sent, I sat down at my computer to type my review and brought along the Sea Salt variety and some hummus to snack on as I type (that’s a good sign).

While the sodium content is higher than I’d like, it pails in comparison to many of the “healthy” snack cracker/chips on the market today.  Since the chips are made primarily from a bean flour mix (lentils, garbanzo, and adzuki beans),  I expected the chips to be dense, however the more closely resemble a popped chip vs. what we have come to know a baked chip to be.  They are light and airy, yet they stand-up to dips very well without breaking.

I liked all 3 flavors, but if pressed I would have to say that I rank them in this order:

  1. Cracked Pepper (surprisingly good and best eaten without a dip in my opinion)
  2. Sea Salt (great with hummus)
  3. Rosemary

Seeing as I literally ate the whole bag (I considered it lunch), I would say that they have underestimated the serving size since a bag is supposed to contain 4.5 servings.

For those of you interested in the nutrition information:

Nutrition Info (Sea Salt)
Nutrition Info (Rosemary)
Nutrition Info (Cracked Pepper)

Mediterranean Snack Foods does offer other flavors of Lentil Chips, however they contain dairy…so be sure to read the labels.

Have any of you tried these yet?  What did you think?

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Image courtesy of Mediterranean Snack Foods.

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SO DELICIOUS DAIRY FREE – Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk Beverage

I am a lucky girl.  I was again greeted this year by a shipment at my door courtesy of So Delicious Dairy Free.  Like last year (click HERE for my review), the package contained their Festive Holiday Nog, and Mint Chocolate Coconut Milk beverages…but low and behold, there was another NEW holiday beverage…

PUMPKIN SPICE COCONUT MILK BEVERAGE

You all know about my love affair with pumpkin since I have been going on and on about it already this Fall.  I was impressed with the fact that the beverage is lower in fat (approx. 1/3 the fat) than the other two holiday beverages.

I have to be honest that while the taste was amazing, it is a tad too sweet for me.  Keep in mind that I have been keeping my sweets under control lately and have been satisfying my sweet tooth with dates and stevia, so I am sure that has something to do with it.

My kids didn’t think that the beverage was too sweet at all.

I tried some of the pumpkin beverage in my coffee and it was fantastic.  This just might be my Fall creamer solution.

Kudos to So Delicious for putting out so many allergen free, organic, non-GMO and vegan Holiday Beverage options!

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YONANAS

I have been going bananas for YONANAS.  A few months ago I learned about Yonanas through the Dole newsletter.  I looked into the product and when I learned it was only around $50 I thought I would give it a whirl (I was NOT sent this product to review…I paid for it myself).

I adore this product.  It takes frozen fruit and turns it into ice cream!  Bananas and mangoes tend to come out the creamiest, but all of the frozen fruits I try turn into a yummy AND healthy frozen treat.

I have even been known to eat Yonanas for breakfast…why not…it is only fruit!  I used Yonanas A LOT during my 80/10/10 Diet trial.

Have any of you tried Yonanas?

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My 80/10/10 Trial Update

I thought I would have a harder time following the 80/10/10 Diet for the week, however it really wasn’t difficult for me at all.  That being said, I did not follow Dr. Graham’s diet 100% since I did allow myself to eat fat-free cocoa powder, cinnamon, corn, yams and sweet potatoes.

My big take-away from the diet trial was that my body really thrived without grains.  Prior to this 80/10/10 Diet trial I had been experiencing some intestinal bloating and discomfort for a while and I have to say that I had NONE during the 80/10/10 trial.  I have to conclude that my body does not like grains.

I recently became quite attached to my stevia packets and decaf coffee and was looking forward to the trial to see if I could curtail those cravings.  I am happy to report that the diet trial accomplished just that.  While I have had coffee since then, It is now down to about once a week as a treat and my stevia consumption is way down as well.  While I do not think there is anything wrong with stevia per se, I don’t think it is good to have too much of a good thing either.

An observation I made during the trial was that my athletic performance did increase.  While I tend to be pretty strong and adept at pilates plus, there are a few moves that have proven to be difficult for me and at the end of the 80/10/10 week I was able to do some of those moves…I was shocked!  I also went on a run (something I haven’t done for months) on day 7 of the diet trial, and it was easy…so easy that I went twice as far as I originally planned on going.

As for the numbers, at the end of the week I was down 2.5 pounds (something I wasn’t trying to achieve) and also down 1% body fat.

All in all I felt great while eating my modified version of the 80/10/10 Diet.  I plan on continuing to live grain-free, but will continue to consume corn (some people consider that a grain), yams, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and legumes.

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BOOK REVIEW – EAT & RUN

Me & Scott Jurek at Natural Products Expo West

When the publisher of Scott Jurek’s memoir, Eat & Run, contacted me about reviewing his book I jumped at the chance.  I am in awe of Scott’s athletic accomplishments and couldn’t wait to read what I thought was going to be a book detailing the HOWS of his athletic prowess as the book’s title suggests.

What I didn’t expect was how personal Scott’s writing was going to be in Eat & Run.  This is truly a memoir, not a training guide (though he does share details about his training regimen).

I COULDN’T PUT THIS BOOK DOWN…

Scott was a boy who grew-up on the wrong side of the tracks in rural Minnesota and at a young age became a caretaker for his mother after she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, which inspired him to become a physical therapist.

It warmed my heart to read Scott write about his relationship with his mother.  His early memories of cooking in the kitchen with his mom and being so little that she needed to help him stir the big wooden spoon made me think of how my children and I are creating the same memories.  His cooking skills came in to play as he grew older and needed to help his mom by doing the family cooking after her diagnosis (his father worked multiple jobs).

Scott’s difficult upbringing taught him to persevere.  A phrase that was drilled into Scott’s head by his no-nonsense father plays on repeat and seems to be his life’s motto, “Don’t ask why.  Sometimes you just do things.”

The book takes you through Scott’s development from a boy who really didn’t like running, but did so in order to “condition” for the cross country ski team, to one of the most celebrated ultramarathon champions fueled exclusively by plants (he started his career fueled by McDonalds!).

One of my favorite aspects of the book is that each chapter is capped off with one of Scott’s favorite vegan recipes accompanied by details about how the recipe came to be.

I wholeheartedly recommend Eat & Run.  In the midst of laughter and tears brought about by wonderful friendships, love, financial ruin, the loss of his mother, divorce, and new love, you will begin to think that you too could become an ultramarathoner.

Afterall, Scott Jurek, the boy who hated running did it!

Click HERE to learn where you can buy Eat & Run

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BOOK REVIEW – The 80/10/10 Diet

Recently the publisher of Dr. Douglass Graham’s book, The 80/10/10 Diet (80% Carbohydrate / 10% Protein / 10% Fat) sent me a copy with the request to review it.  For years I had heard rumblings of the plan and the wild popularity of 80/10/10 forums, but hadn’t had the chance to properly research it and learn the details of the plan.

I found the book very interesting.  It is Dr. Graham’s contention that it is not natural for humans to eat meat.

Put a child in a room with a lamb and a banana.  Note which one he plays with and which one he eats.

I am sure that many of you have been presented with the biological evidence that humans were not designed to eat meat (our teeth are not sharp enough, our digestive tract is too long, our tongues are not rough, etc.), so Dr. Graham’s inclusion of that information within the book was not news to me, however much of the 3 pages of Humans vs. Carnivore evidence was evidence I had not yet heard.

Dr. Graham’s analogy below makes sense intuitively:

“We do not salivate at the idea of crushing the life out of a rabbit with our bare hands and teeth, and the thought of eating one in a freshly killed state is repulsive.  We certainly do not enjoy chewing on bones, gristle, entrails, chunks of raw fat and flesh, and the hair and vermin that inevitably accompany them.  We cannot imagine slurping hot blood, getting it all over our faces, hands, and bodies.  These behaviors are alien to our natural disposition…”

Dr. Graham believes that humans were designed to eat food in its natural state, food that naturally appeals to humans.  When we smell a ripe mango or peach at the peak of freshness, our mouths water…the same does not hold true for the carcass of a freshly killed animal.

“How does one determine the correct food for any given creature?…The answer is relatively simple…[O]ffer the creature different types of food in their whole natural state.  That which it was designed for, it would eat.  It would likely ignore all the other items, not even considering them as food.”

This leads us to wonder just what humans would eat if they were to find it in nature.  According to the example above, it would be food that requires very little (if any) preparation.  Our bodies also require simple sugars to function optimally.  With all of that in mind, Dr. Graham makes the case that humans were designed to subsist primarily on fruit.

According to Dr. Graham we were not designed to eat grass, weeds, leaves, stalks, and stems because we do not secrete the proper enzymes needed to digest these foods.  We do however possess what it takes to digest tender leafs and greens.

Then comes the subject of starches; grains (grass seeds), roots and tubers, and legumes.  Reading Dr. Graham’s book, Grain Damage, has been (and still is) on my “To Do List,” so it was fortunate for me that Dr. Graham touches on his dislike of grains within The 80/10/10 Diet.

Harkening back to his assertion that we were designed to eat foods in their natural state, Dr. Graham contends that grains “grow in a form that we can neither chew nor digest.”

Starchy roots and tubers grow below ground.  Most humans do not salivate at the thought of dirt like animals that grub for tubers do.  Many roots and tubers can certainly be eaten raw and I am a fan of raw jicama, carrots, yams, and beets (the naturally sweet roots and tubers), I have a much harder time wanting to eat raw potatoes, parsnips, turnips, and rutabagas.

When discussing legumes Dr. Graham states that “legumes in their mature state are indigestible and/or toxic to most mammals.”  I was not aware that mature legumes were “toxic” and need to research his assertion further.  I do however know from experience that if I do not soak legumes prior to cooking them I experience painful bloating and gas.  Even after soaking legumes it is common to experience gas on some level…which makes me wonder if his theory is true.

In the book Dr. Graham continues on and discusses his views on other food sources such as fermented foods and dairy along with nuts, seeds, and other high fat plants.

I want to quickly mention that within the book Dr. Graham goes into detail about the fact that most raw foodists in his opinion rely on fat heavily in their diet.  I share his opinion that most raw food diets are HEAVY in natural plant fats and that aspect of their diet is not healthy and will in fact result in an increase in one’s body fat percentage which is generally undesirable…most people want to reduce their body fat, not increase it.

Ultimately it is Dr. Grahams opinion that humans are what he calls Frugivores and our optimal diet would consist primarily of fruit with the addition of tender leaves and greens which “[P]rovide minerals and other nutrients essential essential for optimum nutrition and health.”

Since reading The 80/10/10 Diet I have attempted to avoid grains and have been really happy with the results.  After eliminating grains for 2 weeks I had some rice with dinner and experienced painful bloating within 20-30 minutes.  I was shocked by how quickly my body reacted to eating brown rice.

Since I tend to see my body as an experiment of sorts and I am always trying to find the ultimate formula for it to run as efficiently as possible, I am interested in trying the 80/10/10 Diet.  My hesitation in doing so is that this diet is so different than that of my immediate family.  I enjoy “sharing” meals with them and fear that eating the 80/10/10 way would diverge from their meals so drastically.

While Dr. Graham suggests that people give the 80/10/10 diet a 1 year trial, I plan on starting by giving it a shorter trial when my children go to visit their Auntie.  I am interested in seeing the results.  If I like the results then I am confident I can follow the plan for breakfast and lunch (which I have been doing for the most part since reading the book) with some modifications to my dinner meal.

I will most definitely report back with the results.  I have read many accounts of the diet’s followers improving their athletic performance and recovery and I can’t wait to see if I share their experience athletically.  Dr. Graham is a specimen of athletic ability and he is not a kid anymore (he will be 60 in March 2013)!!!

Along the same lines this diet is purported to help lower body fat percentage while maintaining lean muscle mass.  Since eating the 80/10/10 diet for breakfast and lunch my personal body fat percentage has dropped 2%.  I will of course track my body fat percentage when I do the 80/10/10 Diet one week trial.

In theory Dr. Graham’s book makes sense to me.  I am excited to put the plan into practice…even if it is for only one week.  While Dr. Graham is a believer in raw foods, with my thyroid issues, any cruciferous vegetables that I eat will be cooked.

Here is the quick break-down of the diet –

  • 90-97% sweet and non-sweet fruits
  • 2-6% tender, leafy greens and celery
  • 0-8% from everything else (other vegetables like cabbage, and broccoli, plus fatty fruits, nuts, and seeds)

Have any of you attempted eating this way?   If it is a consideration for you, I recommend reading the book because it goes into great detail about the plan, provides sample meals, recipes, and other necessary resources.

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Click HERE to read Dr. Graham’s interview with Chic Vegan.

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TEMECULA TANGERINES

Last year I was introduced to Temecula tangerines.  I had seen them in Mother’s Market before and never even thought about buying them because quite frankly they aren’t very enticing.  I know, don’t judge a book (or in this case fruit) by its cover, but these oranges look like they would be dry and not juicy in the least.

Last year the kids and I went shopping and Mother’s was sampling the Temecula tangerines.  Man, they are good!  Juicy, flavorful, and uber-convenient.

Temeculas peel so easily and can quickly be peeled into a bowl of sorts, which is our favorite way of eating them.  We peel off the top of the tangerine and are left with a wonderfully tasty “bowl” of tangerine segments which easily pull-out segment by segment.

Have you tried Temecula tangerines yet???

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BOOK REVIEW – SANCTUARY: Portraits of Rescued Farm Animals

Our family dog (a.k.a. my 14 year old first child) passed away a few weeks ago.  She was such a good dog; spunky, loving, and vocal.  Needless to say I have been absorbing any kind of animal love with extra zeal since then in a senseless attempt to fill the void.

A few days after her passing I was contacted by Sharon Lee Hart with a request for me to review her book, Sanctuary: Portraits of Rescued Farm Animals.  I jumped at the chance.  Sharon posted the book to me in the mail and I lapped it up upon receipt.

Flipping through the book it becomes abundantly clear that Sharon took the time to get to know the animals so that she would be able to capture their true essence in her photographs. Sharon writes in the introduction,

My process for taking these photographs was to sit and wait for the animals to approach me.  Once they did, I was greeted in a variety of ways.  Memorably, Amelia the turkey nuzzled my neck and gave me a ‘hug,’ and Dee Dee the donkey rubbed her face on my cheek and rested her head on my shoulder.” 

Looking at the pictures of the animals and reading their stories as told by those who rescued them and care for them on a daily basis has been healing for me.  I am encouraged to know that there is so much goodness surrounding these animals whose lives were once fraught with terror and sadness.  Goodness prevailed.

I highly recommend Sharon’s book for the gorgeous photography, stories, and essays written by Karen Davis (President and Founder of United Poultry Concerns), Kathy Stevens (Founder of the Catskill Animal Sanctuary), and Gene Bauer (Founder of Farm Sanctuary). .

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10% of the proceeds from books sold through www.farmanimalsanctuaryproject.com will be donated to the sanctuaries.

Click HERE to purchase.

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A limited number of prints are available for purchase in sizes ranging from 8 x 8″ up to 40 x 40″.  

Please contact Sharon via e-mail for a price list – sharonleehart@gmail.com  Click HERE to learn more about the project.

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Sydney (1998-2012)

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PRODUCT REVIEW – MINI POPS

I am constantly contacted by companies wanting me to try their products.  At the infancy of Veggie Grettie I jumped at the chance to try any and every product, however over a year and a half later I have become MUCH more choosy.  One, because I don’t want to waste food and two, because I am very picky about what I eat and what my children eat.

When the creators of Mini Pops contacted me I was excited to know that sorghum pop”corn” was making its way in to the market.  A few years ago while watching Bizarre Foods, Andrew Zimmern visited a tribe in Africa (I believe ) and they popped sorghum grain for him.

Immediately after the show I went on the web, found an online source of the grain, and placed my order.  A few days later my family and I were popping sorghum on the stove.  Fun stuff!  The sorghum pops are like miniature popcorn; tiny, cute, and yummy.

While I was happy to see this fun popped grain headed to stores, I was hesitant to accept Mini Pop Inc.’s offer to sample their goods until I did some research and discovered that they have really done a good job nutritionally.  Their snacks are both LOWFAT and LOW SODIUM along with being Organic, Gluten-Free and Non-GMO!  Hurray for Mini Pops…a snack company that is putting HEALTHY snack foods out there!!!

According to Mini Pops:

“Compared to corn, sorghum grain has fewer calories, less fat and less sodium.  It has more protein, more calcium, more iron, and comparable fiber.  Plus, Mini Pops lack those popcorn hulls that get caught in the gums.”

Mini Pops sent me the following flavors:

  • PETITE PLAIN
  • ITTY BITTY BUTTER
  • NANO PEPPER & HERB
  • SUBATOMIC SEA SALT

When I opened the bags I was shocked with how full they were.  Usually when you open a purchased bag of popcorn, chips, etc. you only get half of a bag.  These bags were so full that after tasting them I had trouble putting my clip on since they were still so full (That’s a GOOD problem in my book).  When I buy something I like to get a good amount for my money.

I enjoyed the flavors, but wished they had a heavier hand in seasoning them.  If forced to choose I would say that my favorites were the Nano Pepper and Herb along with the Subatomic Sea Salt.

Overall, I am impressed with this snack.

To learn more about Mini Pops and see the other flavors in their line-up (not all of them are vegan) CLICK HERE.

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