Archive | May 2014

Manduka Yoga Mat & Foam Roller Review

Manduka

Overall Rating: 

About Manduka:

“At Manduka we are committed to making the world a better place. We’re grateful to be part of a community that’s committed to doing the same. Together we celebrate the deep and profound bond yoga shares with the world. The idea of respect for all living things is core to our company’s philosophy, and sustainability is our standard. We are committed to eco-responsibility, and are mindful of every decision we make in the manufacturing process. We support fair labor practices and toxic-free emission facilities. Wherever possible, we use natural, recyclable, sustainable and/or biodegradable materials, and constantly search for new green technologies. Each detail is a conscious decision. We’ve constructed bags from recycled polyester fabrics and zippers made from recycled plastic bottles. Our eKO line of yoga mats is produced using biodegradable rubber sustainably harvested from rubber trees with no toxic glues. Designed to last a lifetime, the PRO Series mats minimize impact on the environment and ensure years of superior practice for our community. Our prop collection was developed using materials including sustainable cork, natural unbleached cotton, and recycled wool fibers. With growth, we pledge to protect and honor our earth and its beings. Let’s continue to walk the walk together. You help us and we’ll help you. And we’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas at any time. Better choices mean a better tomorrow for all of us.”

eKO Yoga Mat

About: “The eKO Mat is new and improved, and now offers an unparalleled grip to perform even in the sweatiest of conditions. This eco-friendly yoga mat made from biodegradable, non-Amazon harvested, natural tree rubber provides cushion and support for your practice while protecting the planet.”

beLONG Body Roller

About: “Show your muscles some love- the beLONG Body Roller is a great way to reduce muscle tightness, increase blood flow and stretch tendons.”

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My Thoughts:

I am no yogi, by any means of that word. However, I truly value stretching regularly and recovering properly after grueling workouts. Not only does this help me relieve soreness, but it helps me prevent injuries and keeps me on top of my game. So, since I don’t do a ton of yoga, you might wonder what I use this mat for…

For me, this mat is the EVERYTHING mat. It’s the foundation for all of my indoor workouts. On this mat I do squats, lunges, pushups, kettle bell work, bridges, and every other move that I do indoors. This mat serves many purposes for me. For one, it simply feels better beneath your body than carpet or other flooring does. It provides some cushion and gripping ability, and also keeps me from over-working the carpet beneath me during my workouts. I don’t know what measurement is standard for a yoga mat, but this one is long enough for me, a 5’9″ girl. I LOVE this mat and would recommend it to anyone, even those who do not practice yoga. Don’t let that fact stop you-as I’ve found this mat to be so useful for so many non-yoga related exercises.

I have a love/hate relationship. Mainly love, because it hurts so good. Simply allowing your body weight to relax down onto this roller helps alleviate soreness, targets lactic acid build up and just plain feels good when you’re exhausted. I used this roller a lot prior to the marathon I ran in April and the half marathon I ran in May. My legs were constantly exhausted, challenged, sore, achey and constantly in need of some rest and relaxation. This roller was an integral part of my leg recovery routine. I also used it to help break up some muscles soreness in my back (like a feeling that I slept in an odd position). It works wonders.

This duo (the mat and roller) are essentials for anyone that makes fitness a regular part of their life. I was someone that didn’t think I needed a yoga mat nor a foam roller-but now that I have them, I have no idea how I did it without them. I’m certainly a more prepared, less injury prone athlete because of it! Check out Manduka’s site for these products and many more.

Manduka_SimonPark_Logo

Hilary’s Eat Well Review (Kansas City Local!)

Hilary’s Eat Well

Overall Rating: 

About Hilary’s:

“Our core principles include making delicious high-quality products, corporate transparency, creating sustainable systems, and having a positive community impact.  Below lists our certifications that reinforce those values.  We love aligning with partners who support our goals and help us change the way our food system works for a better world.

The Hilary’s Eat Well team is committed to the company’s core values of sustainable connections, transparency, and partnerships; we seek to limit ecological impact and increase community impact.

Hilary Brown

Founder & CEO

Hilary is the creative chef behind Hilary’s Eat Well creations. She spent a year working as a farm apprentice with the Growing Growers program prior to opening Local Burger®, a first-to-the-market sustainable fast food restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas, in 2005.  Now, she’s is hanging ten on the big learning curve of wholesale food business. Digging the challenges as much as the successes and thanking the Universe for the opportunity to work with an energy packed creative team committed to creating a better future for all.

What do you love right now?
Millet, Hemp, Grass-land, Elk, Turmeric, Kim Chi, Trees, Bats, Crows, People, Worms, Dancing, Tipping Points, breathing and hiking with my family at Clinton Lake…just to name a few.🙂.”

Products I have been lucky enough to try:

hemp_and_greens_burger_package

Hemp & Greens Burger

About:

“Hemp and greens and thyme… oh my! Follow the yellow brick road to great taste and healthy eating. This delicious burger is filled with good-for-you greens, wholesome hemp seed and tasty thyme.

Ingredients

Water, Millet, Leafy Greens, Hemp Seed, Parsley, Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil, Redmonds Season Salt®, Psyllium Husk Powder, Arrowroot, Thyme.”
veggie_burger_package

World’s Best Veggie Burger

About:

“When Hilary created this recipe in 2005 for her restaurant, Local Burger, she wanted it to taste great and be free of all common food allergens and artificial ingredients. She met all of her goals with this recipe, and now shares it with everyone!

Ingredients

Water, Millet, Quinoa, Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil, Sweet Potato, Spinach, Onion, Psyllium Husk Powder, Arrowroot, Apple Cider Vinegar, Real Salt, Garlic.”
black-rice-burger-packaging

Black Rice Burger

About:

“Love at first sight and taste! When the Lotus Foods Rice team shared their heirloom climate-smart More Crop Per Drop™ rice with us, we fell in love with the taste, integrity and the team. This burger is singing the song of biodiversity with the addition of millet, adzuki beans and health-supportive greens. Flavor and sustainability in perfect harmony.

Ingredients

Water, Adzuki Bean, Lotus Foods Organic Brown Jasmine Rice, Millet, Leafy Greens, Sweet Potato, Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil, Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice®, Real Salt, Garlic, Apple Cider Vinegar, Psyllium Husk Powder, Arrowroot, Cumin, Lime Juice.”
root_veggie_burger_package

Root Veggie Burger

About:

“Turnip the beets! This deliciously crunchy millet-based veggie burger is filled with organic root vegetables and a kick of mustard. On a bun, as a side dish, on top of a salad-any way you have it, you’ll be feastin’! Fall in love with these easy-to-prepare patties-it’s eating well made easy!

Ingredients

Water, Millet, Turnips, Sweet Potato, Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil, Beets, Psyllium Husk Powder, Arrowroot, Garlic, Mustard Seed, Apple Cider Vinegar, Turmeric, Paprika, Real Salt.”
adzuki_bean_burger_package

Adzuki Bean Burger

About:

“Millet, adzuki beans, cumin, coconut oil, and Real Salt® are just a few of the stars in this fantastic burger.. We use real-food ingredients that nourish your body and support healthy ecosystems. You’ll fall in love with these easy-to-prepare patties.

Ingredients

Water, Millet, Adzuki Bean, Quinoa, Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil, Sweet Potato, Onion, Mild Green Chilies, Psyllium Husk Powder, Arrowroot, Real Salt, Apple Cider Vinegar, Garlic, Cumin, Chili & Chipotle Powder, Lime Juice.”
veggie_bites_package

Original Veggie Bites

About:

“From freezer to table in minutes, these versatile veggie bites are great for busy lives.  Use them as a tasty appetizer, as an addition to salads and casseroles, or as a great way to get kids to smile while eating some veggies. With our stellar ingredients, you’ll feel good about serving them to your family, to party guests, and to yourself!

Ingredients

Water, Millet, Quinoa, Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil, Sweet Potato, Spinach, Onion, Psyllium Husk Powder, Arrowroot, Apple Cider Vinegar, Real Salt, Garlic.”
remoulade-dressing_0

Creamy Remoulade Dressing with Dill Pickles

About:

“Ask anyone who ate at Hilary’s restaurant, Local Burger, and you’ll be assured that our Remoulade is a fan favorite! It’s great on salads, spread on sandwiches (or veggie burgers!), or used as a dip. You’ll be amazed that something free-from dairy, egg and more can be so creamy and so super delicious. Bubbies Kosher Dill Pickles, coconut milk, and mustard are the star ingredients in this versatile dressing.

Ingredients

Organic Coconut Milk (Coconut, Guar Gum), Water, Cold-Pressed Grapeseed Oil, Organic Mustard (Organic Grain Vinegar, Water, Organic Mustard Seed, Salt, Organic Turmeric, Organic Paprika, Organic Spices), Bubbies Kosher Dill Pickles (Cucumbers, Water, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Garlic, Dill, Spices [Contains Mustard Seed]), Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Redmond’s Real Salt®, Organic Gum Acacia, Organic Guar Gum, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Onion, Sweet Leaf® Stevia.”
ranch-chia-dressing_0

Ranch Chia Dressing with Omega 3’s

About:

“This beyond dairy-free dressing is packed with omega-3s and is sure to satisfy. Our beloved Ranch Chia offers the comforting taste of your favorite ranch, while flaunting an all-star list of clean, real food ingredients including healthful organic chia seeds. That’s one rockin’ ranch.

Ingredients

Organic Coconut Milk (Coconut, Guar Gum), Water, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Cold-Pressed Grapeseed Oil, Organic Chia Seeds, Redmond’s Real Salt®, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Mustard (Organic Grain Vinegar, Water, Organic Mustard Seed, Salt, Organic Turmeric, Organic Paprika, Organic Spices), Organic Garlic, Organic Onion, Organic Gum Acacia, Organic Guar Gum, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Dill, Organic Marjoram, Sweet Leaf® Stevia.”
apple-fennel-dressing_0

Apple Fennel Dressing with Dandelion Root

About:

“Tart, tangy, and oh so tasty! Our Appel Fennel Dressing is made with thoughtfully-sourced ingredients including organic apple cider vinegar, cold-pressed hexane-free grape seed oil, and health-supportive organic dandelion root powder. You’ll love fixin’ and mixing’ your salad with this delectable dressing!

Ingredients

Water, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Cold-Pressed Grapeseed Oil, Organic Apple Concentrate, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Redmond’s Real Salt®, Organic Dandelion Root, Organic Gum Acacia, Organic Guar Gum, Organic Fennel, Sweet Leaf® Stevia.”
balsamic-thyme-dressing_0

Balsamic Thyme Dressing with Eyebright

About:

“Who doesn’t love the classic flavor of balsamic dressing? Well, even if you don’t think balsamic is your thing, we challenge you to give ours a try! You’ll love the earthy organic thyme with a hint of sweetness.  Top it off with innovative ingredients like organic eyebright and you’ll be hooked.

Ingredients

Water, Organic Balsamic Vinegar, Cold-Pressed Grapeseed Oil, Redmond’s Real Salt®, Organic Gum Acacia, Organic Guar Gum, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Thyme, Organic Eyebright, Sweet Leaf® Stevia.”

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My Thoughts:

This review will be a little bit scattered and full of random thoughts, as I have so many jumping into my head with this brand.

Out of all of the reviews I’ve written, this is one of my favorite. It added an extra layer to my appreciation for this brand to get to tour their facility with my husband. Becky at Hilary’s Eat Well could not have been more welcoming and eager to show us how Hilary’s Burgers are made-and she did so with enthusiasm. That, perhaps is my favorite aspect of the people behind this brand. You can tell that they believe in it, are passionate about it, and enjoy coming to work because of that. It’s infectious! Paul and I were lucky enough to meet Hilary, herself while touring the facility. She couldn’t have been more bubbly, free spirited and awesome. What a treat!

Hilary’s creates their burgers in Lawrence, Kansas, which is right down the road from us in Kansas City. It feels really good to genuinely feel supportive of a local brand-believing that they are doing great things and positively impacting how people eat.

I’m appreciative for the fact that this brand has reminded me that not all grain-like seeds are empty calories. I typically advocate and practice a way of eating that is loosely-based on the Paleo approach to eating. In summation, Paleo eating doesn’t allow any dairy, grains or processed foods. Needless to say, that idea is neat in theory, but not everything I eat has been picked fresh from our garden, and I’d be lying if I said I never took a bite out of a block of cheese. The idea is good, though-to refocus yourself to eat real, organic food. I aim to keep my percentages good-meaning that 80-90% of the time, I’m eating nutrient dense, real foods. The other 10-20% of the time I don’t beat myself up if I feel that I want to splurge.

I say all of that to say, Hilary’s has reminded me that you don’t need to be scared of healthy legumes (like beans), grains and seeds (that are commonly labeled as grains), as strict-paleo followers will have you doing. If you are consuming large amounts of real, whole foods, including lots of fresh vegetables, then there’s no need to be neurotic about eliminating these food groups. Just pick good ones that are rife with nutrients. It’s all about the quality of these products. You don’t want to eat a bunch of over-processed bread from your local grocery store, but you can seek organic, whole grain-like seeds and beans that will provide you with a dense nutritional profile. That said, I also believe very much in BALANCE. Allowing grains and beans doesn’t mean eating them all day every day, it just means that you can appreciate what they offer your diet and you can incorporate them in some fashion.

This variety of burgers allows you to do that, in an organic, junk free way. Though my husband and I do consume meat, I’d imagine that the fact that these Hilary’s burgers are vegetarian will appeal to many. They are also free of many common foods that contribute to sensitivities like: gluten, nuts, soy, dairy, yeast and corn. All of these ingredient lists are organically sourced, top to bottom. During our tour, I also learned that Hilary’s sources only high quality, organically grown ingredients that often times are from local farms. They even donate burgers that don’t pass their quality tests (shape & thickness) to a local food bank-so thoughtful and neat to me.

To elaborate on the grain discussion: By grains, I am referring to the millet and quinoa used in most of these burgers, and the black rice used in the black rice burger. Though I consider millet and quinoa to be seeds, many lump them into the grain category and avoid them because of that. I personally do not enjoy the calories from rice as much as quinoa and millet, thus the black rice burger isn’t one that I’ll come back to often. I also hardly ever buy rice, simply because I enjoy getting my carbohydrates from other sources instead. I do realize, though, that many enjoy rice and to them, I’d recommend that burger, because it’s got a great, tasty, hearty flavor. For those looking to stick to just seeds, sans a grain like rice, you can eat all of these burgers (exempt the black rice) and keep within your parameters. I realize those last two paragraphs were a whole lot of rambling, but that is the best way I know to get all of my thoughts out.

As far as which burgers I’ve enjoyed most and see myself purchasing often: I am loving the Root Veggie Burger and the Hemp & Greens Burger the most. I’m so impressed with the seasoning in both of these burgers-they are right on the money and make them so palatable and tasty-even to those who eat meat-based burgers. Hilary & Becky even shared a fantastic idea in combining some organic, grass-fed ground meat in with these veggie burgers to create a more robust, protein filled circle of goodness. I have yet to try it but eagerly await testing it out!

As for the dressings-WHOA! All of them are so good in their own right. What a genius idea to put chia seeds in an organic ranch dressing recipe. As far as initial wow factor in regards to the taste, my husband and I both agreed that the Creamy Remoulade Dressing is to die for. Hilary’s even mentions that it was a favorite at Hilary’s restaurant in Lawrence, Local Burger. It tastes like creamy, mustardy, zippy goodness. My husband suggested even using it as a dip, all by itself-its that good. I typically lean towards thick dressings, but actually really enjoyed the flavors in the Balsamic Thyme & Apple Fennel dressings. I was impressed to see the use of Dandelion root & Eyebright, two healing plants that give these dressings an extra punch of health. Becky at Hilary’s mentioned using the Apple Fennel dressing on a bean salad. After trying it, I’d agree it would be delicious when used that way. Even if you are unsure about these flavor combinations, trust Hilary! These dressings will really “wow” you.

My 5 year old stepdaughter tried the bites last night at dinner with the Ranch Chia alongside and had nothing but good things to say about them. She was “mmmmm”ing the whole time while eating them. It’s safe to say they are a hit with our young in! They’re a convenient food you can feel good about feeling your child (and your whole family!).

I’ve had such a pleasant experience interacting with the Hilary’s team and can’t sing their praises enough. This kind of company is RARE. They truly put the time and effort into making sure they heard my feedback in person, as well as making it abundantly clear how much they value quality and how they source their ingredients-& I think they’ve only just begun! Their passion for what they create will continue to grow and “infect” more people with this positive health bug. It’s so refreshing and I am eager for all of you to try their products. Get one of everything! You can shop on the Hilary’s Eat Well site or use their store locator to find your closest grocery store that carries them. Let me know how you like them in the comments below🙂

Surf Sweets Organic Candy Review

Surf Sweets

Overall Rating: 

About Surf Sweets:

“That mission continues today – our organically sweetened gummy candy and jelly beans are full of the fruity flavor that you expect with none of the yucky ingredients you avoid. Anyone can enjoy Surf Sweets because our candy is free of high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors, and the top ten allergens.

You will love how the fresh fruit flavor of the organic fruit juice is revealed when it’s not masked by processed corn syrup and petroleum-based artificial food dyes. Pack them in a lunch box, bring them to a school party, or treat somebody for a job well done and enjoy the guilt free sweet satisfaction of having delicious treats everyone loves and knowing they are free of artificial ingredients.

Though we’re not based in California now, as devoted parents and doting uncles and aunts, we understand the constant quest to find fun products kids love that aren’t filled with icky ingredients so join us grab some Surf Sweets and Snack Happy!

•  Made with Organic Fruit Juice
•  No Artificial Colors or Flavors
•  Corn Syrup Free
•  100% Vitamin C per serving
•  Free of the 10 Most Common Allergens
•  Made in a Nut-Free Facility
•  Dairy Free/Casein Free
•  Soy Free
•  Gluten Free
•  Made in the USA.”

Gummy Bears (91% Organic)

About:

“Our gummy bears are simply the best! Surf Sweets Gummy Bears are made with organic fruit juice and organic sweeteners and include 100% of Vitamin C per serving. Whether you’re looking for a great snack to share with the family, or a treat for yourself, we know that you’ll be delighted with our gummy bears.

Ingredients:

Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Cane Sugar, Gelatin, Organic Grape Juice Concentrate, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid (Non-Dairy), Ascorbic Acid, Colors Added (Organic Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Organic Turmeric, Organic Annatto), Natural Flavors, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.” 

Sour Berry Bears (made with Organic Juice)

About:

“Our lightly sugared all natural Sour Berry Bears are irresistibly fun. Made with organic sweeteners and organic fruit juice, Surf Sweets Sour Berry Bears include 100% of Vitamin C per serving so you can feel great about your choice!

Ingredients:

Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Citric Acid, Pectin, Organic Grape Juice Concentrate, Sodium Citrate, Malic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Natural Flavors, Color Added (Organic Black Carrot Juice Concentrate).”

Spring Mix Jelly Beans (USDA Organic)

About:

“Drenched with fruit flavor, and made with organic sweeteners and organic fruit juice, Surf Sweets Jelly Beans are fun for everyone. There’s a spring mix of fruit flavors in every bag, including Tropical Punch, Lemonade, Watermelon, Mixed Berry, Tangerine and Pineapple! With 100% RDA of Vitamin C per serving, these jelly beans are perfect for Easter or anytime enjoyment!

Ingredients:

Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Grape Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Colors Added (Organic Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Organic Turmeric), Natural Flavors, Confectioner’s Glaze, Carnauba Wax, Organic Sunflower Oil.”

Peach Rings (USDA Organic)

About:

“Enjoy the fresh flavor of a juicy peach with our new organic Peach Rings! Made with organic sweeteners and organic fruit juice, Surf Sweets Peach Rings include 100% of Vitamin C per serving so you can feel great about your choice!

Ingredients:

Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Grape Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Natural Flavor, Color Added (Organic Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Organic Turmeric).”

Watermelon Rings (USDA Organic)

About:

“Our lightly sugared organic Watermelon Rings are full of the fresh flavor of a summer day! Made with organic sweeteners and organic fruit juice, Surf Sweets Watermelon Rings include 100% of Vitamin C per serving so you can feel great about your choice!

Ingredients:

Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Grape Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Natural Watermelon Flavor,  Color Added (Organic Black Carrot Juice Concentrate).”

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My Thoughts:

With a ginormous market of junk-filled candy on the market, the Surf Sweets brand shines bright. From humble beginnings, this is a brand that makes candy sensible and free of harsh chemicals.

It’s neat to have a brand in mind to replace every one of your guilty pleasures. I’m happy to now have Surf Sweets in mind for an organic, sweet fix. Most of these Surf Sweets products are USDA certified organic, meaning that the ingredients are at least 95% organic. That’s great, especially assuming that most candies don’t boast one single organic ingredient.

I primarily have my stepdaughter in mind in regards to these products (even though my husband and I very much enjoyed them, too). She has an incredible appetite for snacking and the occasional sweet tooth. Since these Surf Sweets are available at several of my local health food stores like Natural Grocers and Whole Foods, it’s easy for us to grab some sweet snacks to have on hand when her little sweet tooth strikes.🙂

As it is a small market anyways, Surf Sweets is at the top of my list for organic desserts. They come in perfectly portable little baggies, too, that are convenient to tote around in a purse or car. I’d recommend them to someone who thinks they can’t find organic candy. These sweet treats will show you the organic way to dessert-ing, sans the artificial crap!

GoGo Quinoa Review

GoGo Quinoa

Overall Rating: 

About GoGo Quinoa:

We started our operations in 2004 with the arrival of a first container of quinoa pasta. Our ambition was to create an ethical business dedicated to the promotion of organic food and fair trade practices. Six years later the GoGo Quinoa™ products line includes over 30 gluten-free, vegan and organic products made from quinoa and amaranth and distributed across Canada.

GoGo Quinoa is a manufacturer specialized in ancient grains and quinoa products. The purpose of GoGo Quinoa has been to provide healthy gluten – free products not only to those with celiac disease, wheat allergies, gluten intolerance or on wheat free diet, but also organic, vegan and delicious tasting products that the whole family will enjoy.

All our products such as our gluten-free cookies chocolate chips, gluten-free pasta with quinoa or amaranth grains, Granissimo blends and Ready to cook Paella, Pilaf, Burger Mix, Pancake mix, Hot cereal mix and many others are made with only highest quality ingredients.

We are headquartered in a twenty thousand square feet facility in Ville St-Laurent, in Montreal and continue to grow our line by developing and manufacturing products that incorporate local ingredients and fulfill our customers tastes and needs.”

Dark Chocolate Cake Mix

About:

“Moist and chocolatey, the cake mix is garnished with dark chocolate chips. Only a few minutes are required to prepare the batter.

Ingredients: 
Organic flour mix (brown rice, kaniwa), organic sugar, evaporated organic cane juice, organic tapioca starch, organic cocoa powder, organic chocolate chips, baking powder (alum free), organic flakes (amaranth, quinoa), baking soda, organic buckwheat porridge, guar gum, pink salt, organic chia seeds.”

Quinoa Crunchies

About:

“Gluten free and organic cinnamon sweet chip like snack.

Ingredients: 
Organic rice flour, organic quinoa flour, unrefined cane sugar and cinnamon. 

Allergy and intolerance information: 
Free of: Sesame seeds, Wheat, Kamut, Spelt or Triticale, Eggs, Milk and Soybeans.”

Vegetarian Paella

About:

“Ready to cook paëlla mix. Very easy and very quick to prepare. A good source of iron and protein.

 Ingredients: 

Organic white rice, organic black and red quinoa royal, red beans and/or pinto beans, tomato powder, organic paprika, carrots, green beans and/or green peas, organic onion, red pepper, salt, organic garlic, and organic turmeric.”

Quinoa Burger

About:

Ingredients: 
Pre-cooked organic quinoa, organic quinoa flakes, organic amaranth flakes, organic quinoa flour, organic quinoa grains, salt, spices (cumin, black pepper, garlic, turmeric, parsley, tomato, onion, green pepper).”

Quinoa Cookies

About:

“Ingredients:

Organic royal quinoa flour, tapioca flour, rice flour, kaniwa (baby quinoa) flour, non-hydrogenated palm fruit oil*, evaporated cane juice, dark chocolate chips (pure dark chocolate also called chocolate liquor, cane juice, natural vanilla essence), brown sugar, quinoa puffed grains, chia seeds, sodium bicarbonate, natural vanilla extract. * From sustainable harvesting.”

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My Thoughts:

I am fascinated by brands that take one healthy food and generate a plethora of products with it as its foundation. GoGo Quinoa makes quinoa-packed goodies that range from vegetarian paella to cake mix.

If you have read any of my prior blog posts, you are aware that ingredients are of the utmost importance to me, regardless of taste. After reading GoGo Quinoa’s ingredient lists, mission, and method behind farming, I feel great about this brand. The ingredient list is chock full of organic ingredients, and their products also boast an Eco Cert Label. This means, from the Eco Cert website:

“Ecocert inspects products on the basis of this specification, and issues organic certification. The products in question must bear the wording ‘Ecocert-certified’. This is the only labeling guaranteeing organic certification for the consumer. The product can consequently be marketed being described as ‘organic.'”

So, in other words, a brand with this certification has been deemed organic, meaning:

“grown avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers or synthetic products, in ground fertilized with organic fertilizers and natural minerals favorable to life within the soil, application of the precautionary principle.”

In regards to taste, these products are very enjoyable. Sometimes, you try a cake mix that contains more healthful ingredients and it just does not taste good. In this case, all of these GoGo Quinoa products are very tasty. You can tell that there is a little something different about them, but it’s not a bad thing. If anything, the use of quinoa and the other grains like amaranth add some earthiness to the dishes.

It’s worth mentioning that I typically avoid grains. I don’t consume them on a regular basis. There are many differing opinions and thoughts on quinoa, but I consider it to be a complete protein and a seed. A few of these products contain rice flour-which I would typically stray from. I try to get my carbohydrate intake from mainly fruit. With all of that rambling, I simply am meaning to say that these products are not a gigantic part of my diet. They are a way to splurge healthfully, sans gluten.

The cookies and the cake were my favorites (can you say sweet tooth?). I could have eaten the whole box of cookies in one sitting. The paella and quinoa burgers are great because they can serve as a delicious alternative for those that do not eat meat. I do consume meat, myself, but I realize that there are many of you out there that are perhaps looking for vegetarian alternatives. Meat eater or not, though, I would recommend GoGo Quinoa products to all of you. Great quality, great flavors and an all around great brand with a thoughtful mission and outlook on producing food.

Sunbutter Sunflower Seed Butter Review

Sunbutter

Overall Rating: 

About Sunbutter:

“Looking for pure goodness in an organic alternative to other nut butters? You’ve found it! SunButter® Organic Creamy is made from sunflower seeds and without hydrogenated oil or added sugars and salts. Adverse allergy reactions will be a thing of the past because SunButter® Organic Creamy is peanut free, gluten free and tree-nut free. Try some today!

Natural separation may occur, stir thoroughly before use. Sunflower shell fragments may be present in product. Product contains no sugar or salt.”

My Thoughts:

I think it’s fantastic that individuals with allergy reactions can look to a product like this for a peanut butter, almond or cashew butter alternative. I, fortunately do not have any food allergies that I know of, and purely enjoyed Sunbutter because of the flavor-and the fact that it’s a nice change of pace from your typical, traditional peanut butter. I have eaten some funky things in the last few years while discovering new, healthy foods, but strangely enough, I had never tried Sunbutter.

Sunbutter tastes just as you would imagine it would: a very condensed, robust, thick paste of sunflower seed goodness. I used it in similar ways that I would typically use nut butters. I’ve made sunflower seed milk, spread it onto my homemade paleo bread and even eaten it by the dollop. I see it as consuming a dose of healthy fats. I do not get wrapped up in counting calories (yuck!), but it’s good to know that foods like nut and seed butters are calorie dense and will “fill up your tank” quick.

An organic label is comforting to see on this jar, which means that the ingredients are at least 95% organic. I’m happy to have discovered an organic brand that is new to me. I can see myself regularly buying Sunbutter and using it in my seed and nut butter rotation. I’d recommend it to anyone that is already a fan of sunflower seeds or has food allergies that they are trying to consider (that allows for sunflower seeds).

 

Food Should Taste Good Chips Review

Food Should Taste Good

Overall Rating: 

About Food Should Taste Good:

“Founder Pete Lescoe created Food Should Taste Good, Inc in 2006 with the goal of making a unique new snack with great taste, real ingredients, and sophisticated flavor - the qualities he is most passionate about in food.

With a name that speaks for itself, Food Should Taste Good® chips are made from high quality ingredients. All chip varieties are gluten free, cholesterol free, have zero grams trans fats. They are also certified Kosher.  Plus, many varieties are certified vegan.

Food Should Taste Good® chips are available nationally at conventional grocers and natural food markets.

Are your chips non-GMO?

We use ingredients made without the use of genetic engineering (GMOs) in all of our products and have recently updated our packaging to reflect this commitment. For further assurance, we have also enrolled all of our products in the Non-GMO Project and are working on verification. We’re proud to announce that Multigrain, Sweet Potato, Olive, Blue Corn, The Works!, Toasted Sesame, Harvest Pumpkin, Falafel, and Original Kettle Cooked Sweet Potato have all been verified by the Non-GMO Project. To learn more, head over to our website: www.foodshouldtastegood.com/about-fstg/non-gmo-commitment.

Sweet Potato Chips

About:

“A hint of cane sugar enhances the natural nuttiness of the sweet potato in a chip that is a riff on a classic baked sweet potato. Try the chips with a fresh fruit salsa.

Ingredients:

Stone Ground Corn, High Oleic Sunflower Oil and/or Safflower Oil and/or Canola Oil, Dried Sweet Potatoes, Cane Sugar, Sweet Potatoes, Sea Salt.”

Kettle Corn

About:

“A new twist on a carnival classic, try this sweet and salty combination.

Ingredients:

Stone Ground Corn, High Oleic Sunflower Oil and/or Safflower Oil and/or Canola Oil, Toasted Corn Germ, Cane Sugar, Sea Salt.”

Blue Corn

About:

“Nutty flaxseed, quinoa and organic blue corn create a robust yet versatile chip to be enjoyed alone or paired with a fresh dip.

Ingredients:

Organic Blue Corn, High Oleic Sunflower Oil and/or Safflower Oil and/or Canola Oil, Brown Rice Flour, Flax Seeds, Cane Sugar, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Sea Salt, Quinoa, Rosemary Extract.” 

Chocolate

About:

“Semi-sweet chocolate and cocoa offer a sweet balance that pairs perfectly with our chip’s natural corn flavor. They are great for anytime snacking and are delicious in a creative dessert – try crumbling them over ice cream!

Ingredients:

Stone Ground Corn, High Oleic Sunflower Oil and/or Safflower Oil and/or Canola Oil, Semi-Sweet Chocolate Powder (Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Dextrose), Cane Sugar, Cocoa Powder, Sea Salt, Vanilla Extract.” 

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My Thoughts:

Delicious and unique, these chips were a treat to try for my taste buds. The chocolate and kettle corn flavors were my favorite. After thoroughly going through their website, I realized that Food Should Taste Good makes gobs of different kinds of chips! I only tried four of them. There are a ton more-so there’s likely a flavor to suit anyone.

Quality-wise, as you can see from these ingredient lists, these chips are not tops. They are indeed non-gmo, but only one of these flavors contains an ingredient that is listed as organic. Non-GMO is a step in the right direction, but especially when it comes to products that have corn as the main ingredient (one of the most heavily pesticide coated produce item), I make sure to buy organic as much as possible.

I appreciate the diversity of this brand, but don’t see myself looking to them for my organic, go-to chip. I will say, if you walk into your local grocery store and scrutinize their chip section, they are merely all GMO-ridden (unless you are in a natural health food store). Since Food Should Taste Good does not use GMO ingredients, they are above average, but will not be a staple in my pantry until they take another step up the ladder to include mostly organic ingredients.

The Chia Company Review

The Chia Company

Overall Rating: 

About The Chia Company:

“OUR CHIA IS 100% CHEMICAL-FREE

WE GUARANTEE EACH SEED’S NUTRITIONAL PROFILE
CARING FOR OUR ENVIRONMENT MEANS BETTER CHIA SEEDS
FROM OUR FARM TO YOU
OUR FARMERS ARE OUR PARTNERS

Who Can Benefit From Chia?

We would never ask you to change out your diet completely. Especially when Chia is such an easy element to add to it. But we do know that most processed and fast foods are lacking in the basic nutrition that is essential for good health, like fibre, protein, Omega-3 and other vitamins and minerals. Chia seeds are abundant in all of these essential nutrients and perfectly digestible in its natural, untouched form. With our Chia, your body will have everything it needs.

-PEOPLE WHO WANT TO INCREASE THEIR ENERGY LEVELS
-PEOPLE WHO NEED EXTRA FIBRE IN THEIR DIET
-PEOPLE LOOKING TO REDUCE THEIR WEIGHT
-PEOPLE WHO ARE DIABETIC
-PEOPLE CONCERNED WITH HEART HEALTH
-PEOPLE WHO WANT BEAUTIFUL SKIN, NAILS AND HAIR.”

Chia Pods: 

About: 

“The perfect energy boosting breakfast, Chia Pods contain one full serve of sun ripened chia seeds mixed with fruit and coconut milk. 

Dairy and gluten free, Chia Pods deliver 100% of your daily omega-3 and 25% of your daily fiber requirements.

Chia Pods are entirely preservative and additive free. Cold processing has been used to ensure the full nutrition, taste and color of the fruit is retained, and pure coconut milk gives Chia Pods a creamy texture while providing healthy, medium-chain fatty acids. For those flavors which have been lightly sweetened, we have used natural, low-GI coconut sugar.

Chia Pods are vegan and non-GMO. Chia Pod lid, cup and spoon are 100% recyclable and have been made from 30% recycled material. 

You can find Chia Pods in the non-dairy yogurt section of grocery and natural food retailers.”

In regards to “organic” and “non-gmo,” this is how The Chia Company describes their ingredients:

“Chia Pods are certified Non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project. Our Chia Seeds are not certified organic because our farms are not certified organic, but no chemicals are ever applied directly to the Chia plants. We guarantee our Chia Seeds are chemical free and we test every batch to ensure that promise.

To naturally enrich the soil and turnover crops each year we allow weeds to grow during the wet season and use low grade chemicals to remove them. This allows the natural minerals and nutrients in the soil to return and provide the most nutrient seeds year after year.

Other chia is sometimes chemically ripened, but our chia is 100% sun ripened to naturally ensure its Omega 3 content is optimized. We make sure that we work in harmony with the natural environment when growing chia. This means that our farming methods actually improve the environment around our farms. We’ve seen improvements in the quality of the soil, water, and air; as well as an increase in birdlife and bee activity. We monitor all the levels of our surroundings in real-time to make sure our seeds are growing in a harmonious and nutritious environment. Our chia is watered by gravity-fed irrigation, using hoses from environmentally protected Lake Argyle.”

Vanilla Bean

Mango

Banana

Blueberry

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My Thoughts:

I’m a huge fan of the chia seed and the nutritional benefits that it offers. Learning that chia seeds are more easily digested by our bodies when soaked in water prior to consumption has prompted me to always soak my chia seeds (and flax seeds) before eating them. I call it “Chia Goop.” 

When I peeled back the lid on my first chia pod, I was instantly reminded of my chia goop! It looks very similar to my homemade stuff. However, mine doesn’t taste this good. I love my simple the ingredient list is. There’s no guess work, no wondering what some ingredient is. Just chia, coconut milk and fruit.

In prior posts, I’ve mentioned the notion of not “writing off” a brand because it does not boast the USDA Organic Label. Chia pods and products made by the Chia company do not display this label, however, when you inquire further, you learn what I disclosed above, “Our Chia Seeds are not certified organic because our farms are not certified organic, but no chemicals are ever applied directly to the Chia plants.” Sometimes, this means that the brand does not see value in investing the amount of money it requires to gain organic certification, but they do value producing chia seeds free of chemicals. They also mention that they use low-grade chemicals during the wet season to get rid of weeds, which is the reason that they do not have and don’t plan to seek organic certification. That’s a little bit disheartening to me because it means that though chemicals are never directly applied to the plants, the soil is likely mildly contaminated.

Taste-wise, these pods are delicious little pods of goodness. My favorite is definitely the Vanilla Bean. All things vanilla are all right by me. The mango, blueberry and banana are all awesome in their own right, as well. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe these pods could be a great step up for a young child who is transitioning to “big people” food. They are nutrient dense and I’d imagine very enjoyed by young taste buds. If you are an “organic snob” (not meant to be derogatory) then you might have a hang up with these pods because of what I’ve mentioned above. The non-gmo factor and the fact that the chia seeds being grown are not treated directly with chemicals makes them above average, though.