Sweet Calcium

Taking a supplement in pill form seems so passé these days. You can get so many in a gummy format these days, even fiber… which seems very odd to me. But you know what is an even better way to get it? In chocolate form.

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I was sent a couple of bags of Adora calcium supplements to try and I decided it’s kind of fun to get calcium in a chocolate flavor… and not in those chewy, faux-chocolate chunks like other varieties. These even come in a milk or dark chocolate variety depending upon your tastes.

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I think I actually preferred the dark flavor over the milk chocolate, although both were good. These aren’t going to be knock-your-socks-off, “Did you visit a chocolatier for these?” morsels, but they’re tasty and make a nice post-meal treat. If you’re a real chocolate connaisseur, you’ll still want your splurge favorites. (BTW – got a favorite kind of fancy chocolate?)

Plus, it’s nice to know you’re getting some additional nutrients in with them. An average adult would need 2-3 disks a day to get the RDA and they also contain Vitamin D3 to help the body absorb the calcium. Each disk is 30 calories with 2g fat and 2-3g carbs, depending on the variety. They’re non-GMO, gluten-free, and made with Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa.

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You can pick these up via Amazon, the Adora store, or look for a retailer near you.

The one issue I have with the candification* of supplements/meds is that it makes them seem like treats and something to snack on more than some kind of specific fuel for your body when you may be lacking in a nutrient due to dietary difficulties/deficiencies. And it makes kids want to snack on them more… back in the day the kids vitamins were made to be flavored, but there was still a medicinal aspect to them.

* I totally made up the word candification, but I kind of like it!

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Egg White Chips – Protein snack food

Remember I said I was going to try to eat more protein this year? (If you don’t, it doesn’t matter… here’s an update: I’d like to try eating more protein this year.) Anywho… I was excited about the possibility of trying a chip made out of egg whites. Sounds kind of weird, huh? But that’s exactly what ips All Natural chips are made from! (ips = rhymes with chips = intelligent protein snacks)

ips All Natural Chips

These egg white chips come in four flavors and each bag has 130 calories and 6 grams of protein. They don’t have much fiber, all of them have less than one gram. They are non-gmo, preservative/artificial color-free and gluten-free.

I liked the story about how they came to be: The founder, Sean Olson, makes breakfast for his kids and they always liked the crispy edges of fried eggs.  So he thought he would try to make a healthy snack that incorporated that good source of protein.

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All of those aspects made me want to love them… but I didn’t love every flavor. I found the Sea Salt and Black Pepper flavor to be too peppery for my taste buds. And the cheese flavor was just so-so. My daughter ate a couple of those and then stopped and told me to “Put them away.” The BBQ is decent and the Cinnamon Sugar flavor was my favorite. And even though they have “sugar” in the flavor name, there are only 3g of sugar so it’s not like they’re super sugary.

You can look for them in a store near you (they’re at a lot of Vitamin Shoppe stores in Vegas) or you can order online.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

GU Brew Reformulated

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Earlier this fall, GU reformulated their GU Brew to put the focus first and foremost on the athletes hydration and electrolytes. This means it has fewer calories and carbohydrates and an even lighter taste profile than the previously light taste. Now the flavor is “ultralight”!

The new flavors are:

  • Lemon Lime
  • Orange
  • Lemon Tea (caffeinated, 20mg)
  • Blueberry Pomegranate (double sodium)
  • Watermelon
  • Tastefully Nude

The new formulation has 70 calories and 19 grams of carbohydrates per serving, with 250mg of sodium and 30mg of potassium (except Blueberry Pomegranate, 2x sodium – 500mg sodium!)  The carbohydrate source combines complex carbohydrates (in the form of maltodextrin, a glucose polymer) with simple carbs (as fructose) in a 50-50 balance, to make it easily digested while still providing lasting energy. The idea is that it can be used for shorter workouts, or in combination with gels or Chomps for longer duration.

I have been drinking it PRIOR to runs without any digestive distress. It mixes up easily in a water bottle, dissolving almost instantly so there is no wait time, clumping or built-up fizzy pressure. It comes in canisters, as well as single-serve packets which could easily be shoved in a belt/pack for midrun mixing.

I am impressed with the flavors as well, none of them have been particularly horrible and I was surprised at the fact that Watermelon ended up being my favorite. I usually hate watermelon-flavored things… other than actual watermelon! :-) I didn’t have any “Tastefully Nude” to try, but that’s a fun name!

GU is also being pretty innovative with their gel flavors of late… ever craved a Root Beer Float midrun? Well… neither had I, truthfully, but it’s pretty tasty! I found the Caramel Macchiato loathesome, but I don’t like many coffee-flavored things.

Lastly they have Roctane electrolyte capsules, for runners who want to get extra electrolytes in without the flavored drink.

GU is doing some great things and it’s fascinating to hear their process. Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, an elite runner AND the Director of Research for GU Energy Labs did an interesting podcast for Another Mother Runner on nutrition, which you can listen to online.

A New Nut “Milk” in my Fridge – Silk Cashewmilk

I haven’t had regular cow’s milk* in about… (hang on, I’m getting older, let me do the math…) 23 years. At least. To go along with that… I’m a cereal-eater, that’s been my go-to breakfast since I was small. So when you eliminate dairy, you need something to put on your cereal. (Trust me, water or juice isn’t going to cut it. Just yuck…)

* I do eat yogurt… the live active cultures and all make it easier to consume.

So in the early days of milk removal, it was hard to find a substitute that would work. These days I’m very lucky, and Silk is one of my go-to brands for cereal-topping. Almond milk, coconut milk, almond-coconut milk… all in regular rotation at my house. Then I received the news that they had just released a new variety… Silk Cashewmilk!

Silk Unsweetened Cashewmilk

There are two varieties available: Original and Unsweetened. I usually go with Unsweetened options, so that’s what I picked up. (Side note… I had to make a special trip to Walmart to buy this. It was the only store near me on the Silk store locator that carried Cashewmilk. I don’t like shopping at Walmart… it’s always so crowded and it makes my blood pressure skyrocket. So apparently I was dedicated to trying this! LOL! But I will be happy when I see it in my regular grocery stores too.)

Silk Unsweetened Cashewmilk nutrition panel

There’s not a lot of cooking going on at my house right now. I was in a bit of cooking funk, and then our kitchen remodel got underway. So I don’t have countertops… or a sink… it makes for a strange environment for cooking, probably not all that hygienic. But I do have paper bowls and spoons and the use of my refrigerator, so I can have a bowl of cereal!

I wish I could serve cereal for every meal. How do I make that a balanced approach? Because it literally takes no time and I don’t have to worry about living with a picky spouse or a toddler who might or might not be eating at that moment. There’s a cereal for everyone!

Did you know that if you microwave shredded wheat sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with nut milk and drizzle it with honey or maple syrup and add frozen (or fresh/defrosted) berries it makes a wonderful hot breakfast? I’ve been doing this for years and thought I was particularly brilliant in coming up with this… yet my most recent box of shredded wheat actually suggests to do this! I will just claim I elevated it with cinnamon and berries.

Shredded Wheat Cashewmilk Hot Cereal

But I have successfully used Almondmilk in place of regular milk in a wide variety of recipes, so I assume Cashewmilk would work the same. I do know that Almondmilk does not work in instant pudding, it never thickens. I wonder if Cashewmilk is the same, hmmm…. Of course, I kind of want to try this recipe for Creamy Cashew Pudding and use Cashewmilk instead of the almond milk it recommends. That’s a much more wholesome recipe than a boxed pudding!

Signing up for the Silk e-newsletter will let you know when they release new products and also give you an instant coupon code. They also encourage a dialog on the Silk Facebook page about what people think about products.

Do you drink nut “milks” and would you try Silk Cashewmilk? Why or why not?

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

Enjoying nature with my favorite snack

Thanks to LÄRABAR for sponsoring today’s discussion

The first time I ever tried a LÄRABAR was at a marathon expo in 2008. I was amazed at how much wonderful flavor was packed into a bar with so few ingredients and I was immediately sold. I have been eating them ever since and I pretty much always have a LÄRABAR or two in my bag at all times. My 2-year-old has loved them since before she was one! Due to my introduction to LÄRABAR, I will forever associate them a little bit with physical activity, but I will still eat them at my desk!

So it’s no surprise that LÄRABAR has its roots in physical fitness. In 2000, founder Lara Merriken was on a hike and inspired to create a product that combined wholesome ingredients, but was also fun, enjoyable and good for you. LÄRABAR offers a variety of products to fit your needs and now offers 19 flavors in its Original Fruit and Nut Bar™. The brand has expanded to include eight flavors of LÄRABAR® über®, six flavors of LÄRABAR® ALT®, four flavors of LÄRABAR® Jŏcalat® and a new grain free granola called LÄRABAR® RENOLA™. Everything LÄRABAR offers is gluten-free, non-GMO and Kosher, with the majority of the products being soy-free, dairy-free and vegan.

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This weekend I hit the trails, not for a hike, but to run. They were groomed trails in a state park not hardcore single track, but it was still running on dirt nonetheless. I love running out in the dirt, there’s something about that experience that feels so free and relaxing. I just don’t get to do it much and I definitely don’t get to drive to far off trails now, life is too time-crunched. But it’s nice to have some trails in the city limits!

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I was sent a LÄRAbag full of bars and RENOLA as part of this campaign. It was nice to be re-introduced to some flavors I haven’t had in a long time like Key Lime.

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Let’s talk RENOLA for a minute… I knew I wanted to try it because I have enjoyed everything LÄRABAR makes so far. But when I read it was a grain-free granola and seemed to be a mix of seeds/nuts/fruit… I admit, I was a little concerned. I mean, that mix of ingredients is great, but it just doesn’t speak to me as a “granola”. I was wrong… somehow they’ve made something retains the texture of granola but doesn’t have the grains. It is amazing. Try it!

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If you haven’t tried the products before or you already love them, snag this coupon to get $0.50 off purchase of any LÄRABAR. Locate a retailer near you!

LÄRABAR is encouraging everyone to get outdoors in celebration of National Take a Hike Day on 11/17/14 and share their experiences using the dedicated hashtags (#eatclean and #getoutside) on various social media. I think I’ll try to get out with the dog and the toddler (the hubby can come along too!) the day before to celebrate.

Want to Win Some LÄRABAR?

Win your own LÄRABAR assortment of 16 LÄRABARs and RENOLA to try. Just leave a comment:
tell me what flavor of each you would like to try and why you’re interested in that
OR
you can tell me your own favorite #getoutside story and how a healthy snack like LÄRABAR would play a role in that.

I’ll draw a winner on November 3. Winner must be a US resident and at least 18 years of age.

WINNER: Susan – comment #6

This post was sponsored by LÄRABAR by my love of the outdoors and their bars is completely true.

Hüma Gels: Blueberries and Mangoes

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I was sent two packets of Hüma Gel for review, one in each new flavor. Thoughts are always my own.

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I reviewed Hüma Gel on my site a year ago, their original two flavors. They recently launched two new flavors: Blueberries and Mangoes. (Yes… there is only one pictured up there. I consumed it before taking a picture. Just picture that one with a yellow package and it says “Mangoes” instead, aiiiight?)

Since I already reviewed Hüma Gel once before, I just want to say the new flavors are tasty. I think I’m going to give Blueberries the edge in these two… but the original Apple Cinnamon is still my favorite in their lineup. Their gels are all natural ingredients; you can actually read the list and understand it, so I feel good about recommending these.

A while ago I started to do some research on “premium gels” and why they cost so much. And well… life got in the way of actually getting it posted. But one of the gels in my premium list was Hüma Gel, and I had reached out to them to get some details about why it costs so much (about $2.25 per packet). Here’s what they had to say:

  1. Ingredients. How concerned is the person about the ingredients they consume? I know many athletes aren’t concerned at all (men in particular); they just want something cheap that works. However, for the athlete whose primary concern is health and fitness, ingredients are important. These people are spending hours upon hours of sweat and pain to be healthy, so they want to make sure the ingredients they’re ingesting support that goal rather than detract from it. Huma could save a lot of money by using ingredients like maltodextrin, potassium sorbate, or sodium benzoate…but that’s not what our customers want, so we only use 100% all-natural, real food ingredients whose names you can pronounce. Of course, there are side benefits to only using 100% all-natural, real food ingredients: smooth, easy to swallow consistency, no weird aftertaste, and zero stomach problems!
  2. Cutting Edge Performance Research. Some of the energy gel companies have been using basically the same formula for 20+ years. Obviously, the human body doesn’t evolve very quickly, but our understanding of it has grown tremendously. Huma Gel takes the best of past research and combines it with the latest studies to bring you the best performance gel on the market. To top it off, all our citations are publicly available on PubMed for consumers to verify on their own!
  3. Great Taste. Seriously. One of our top priorities was great taste, and we cut no corners in making that happen. Having a legitimately great taste is probably the biggest reason we’ve expanded so quickly.

Read their Energy Gel 101 for the science on gels and how to best use them.

A couple other factoids:

Q: Where did the name “Hüma ” come from?
A: Hüma is based on the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. Unfortunately, using “Tarahumara” as a name would have been far too long for our gel package, so we chopped it down to “Hüma ”.

Q: How is Hüma pronounced?
A: Hüma is pronounced “Hoo-mah” (not “Hew-mah”, though German speakers will fight on this one). The umlauts mean absolutely nothing except to make a smiley face. Hüma is happy gel!

Q: Will the fiber content in Hüma gels cause me to do a porta-potty dash?
A: No. Chia constitutes only about 1/8 of the ingredients, which is little enough to not cause GI distress. In fact, Hüma gels have a fantastic history of being stomach-problem free.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

The Athlete’s Cookbook

The Athlete's Cookbook

I was sent The Athlete’s Cookbook free for review, thoughts are my own.

The Athlete's Cookbook

If you’ve ever spent time on any message board with athletes, food is always a hot topic. Hell… food is a hot topic in this country all around. There are different opinions on which food groups to include/exclude, which diet is good/bad/best/worst and conflicting advice flying at us from every avenue. It’s enough to make you go crazy. So for the most part, I’ve learned to avoid it… but it wasn’t easy to retrain my brain in that regard. So I’m always a little leery about reviewing books that have to do with food/diet.

The Athlete’s Cookbook one is overall very good, there are a couple of things that are maybe a little questionable, but nothing too dire. (Only if the reader takes everything too literally.)

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The bulk of the book is actually recipes, which I found nice. And the recipes are all normal food. There’s no instructions about the strange special ingredients you have to order from an unknown website or branded food-products. The meal plans/protocols included are pretty straight-forward goals as well; weight management, strength training, endurance. No unrealistic promises like: drop your pace by 2 min/mile or shed 4 dress sizes in a week or get ripped glutes in a day.

And while I skimmed the plans and the advice they gave on how/when to eat certain recipes, I’m never going to refer back to those. They do offer some meal plans that recommend recipes from the book and when to eat those during the day in relationship to workouts. As long as the reader takes that as a general rule of thumb and applies it to their own life (for example, you don’t HAVE to eat the exact recipe at 5 AM on Wednesdays if that doesn’t work for you!) then they are good guidelines.

With a toddler at home and a husband who’s never at home, I find it hard to fit in recipe testing. But I did find time to make a few things from this book and my favorite so far has to be the Hot Quinoa Cereal.

Hot Quinoa Cereal

The great thing about this recipe is that it can serve as the foundation for several variations. So instead of the chopped nuts and mango, I’ve adapted it to put whatever fruit/nuts I feel like. Just the approach of cooking the quinoa with cinnamon and vanilla makes for a great base that can be enjoyed hot or cold. To make it super easy, throw the quinoa, water, cinnamon, vanilla and salt in a rice cooker. Keep the leftovers in the fridge for a few days to pull out for easy breakfast.

Hot Quinoa Cereal

The book is great in that it has recipes from several different regions, it doesn’t just try to recreate “American classics” in a healthier way. None of it feels like it’s trying to adapt to being healthier, they’re just practically healthy! And I like that they don’t feature calorie counts on the recipes, it helps with following intuitive eating cues, at least for me.

And if you’re wondering about the cute little text/icons on the pics… I got a new app: MocaDeco. I had to play with it!

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Kiss Me Organics Matcha

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Kiss Me Organics provided me with a bag of matcha for this review.

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The past several weeks have started with a green tea latte… made with organic matcha from Kiss Me Organics and almond milk. I used to get a green tea latte on occasion from Starbucks, but I haven’t done that in a long time. This is nice to be able to do something similar at home, but I can use almond milk instead of soy like I would get at SBUX.

Most green tea baked goods are made using matcha, which is different from loose-leaf green tea. Matcha is a green tea that is grown in the shade; then it’s picked, deveined and pulverized into a powder. So it’s a different color, flavor, texture from what you’d get from a loose-leaf or bagged tea.

I shared this picture of it on instagram/facebook/twitter a few weeks ago:

A gal I used to coach asked about it and said she had a recipe that she had wanted to make using matcha – Green Tea Fudge Protein Bars. Those bars intrigue me, and other than the chocolate… I have all the ingredients. But the cool thing about the Kiss Me Organics brand is when you buy it you get a whole recipe e-book full of cool recipes, so I now own a whole cookbook that I could use with it.

The 4 oz. bag retails on Amazon (PRIME!) for $25, which is a really good price for a nice culinary-grade matcha. I have seen some that are just 1 oz. for more than that price. Using just 1/2 tsp. per cup, you’ll get about 48 servings from the bag. (About 52 cents per cup, even factoring the cost of buying your own milk, that’s way cheaper than the chain place!)

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Green tea has a whole array of supposed benefits: brain function, oral health, energy, bone health, performance boost, etc. A simple Google search will bring up all of these things, so pick and choose the benefits that strike close to your heart. Or just drink it because it’s kind of a nice calming ritual to start the day (which is what I’ve found!)

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Year of No Sugar [Book Review]

Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub

Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub I was asked if I wanted to be part of the virtual book tour for the new book “Year of No Sugar” by Eve Schaub. The book is about the author and her family’s quest to remove all added sugar from their diets for an entire year. This means sugar in all forms: brown sugar, powdered sugar, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, agave, molasses, fruit juice, or artificial sweeteners… and they learned that this stuff lurks nearly EVERYWHERE!

I think it’s highly commendable that the author did a project of this magnitude with not only the support of her husband and children, but with their participation as well. She has two daughters (11 and 6 at the time) and they played the game too… even if it was hard for them!

The older daughter kept a journal throughout the year and some of the snippets included in the book from that journal made it clear it wasn’t all fun and games and was a rather difficult undertaking. It also seemed a little sad that it was almost like missing out on some aspects of childhood because sugar is so ingrained in everything.

Eve Schaub photo credit Stephen Schaub

Eve Schaub photo credit Stephen Schaub

They did find that they got sick far less when their consumption of added sugars was reduced. The children’s absences from school during that year was dramatically lowered. Their palates changed as they became more sensitive to the levels of sugar in foods.

But it didn’t sound like any fun. It seemed kind of sad at times! And I felt bad for the kids, especially since the entries from the daughter’s journal that were sprinkled throughout the book made it clear she was not enjoying it! But the fact that the kids stuck to it out of their own volition is admirable.

They made a family dessert each month, coming to a consensus about how they would “splurge” and savored that treat. They ate a lot of “banana ice cream” (frozen bananas in the food processor) in their early days and treasured family recipes were adapted as the author started to use dextrose in place of traditional sugars. There are several recipes in the book that use those. However, since I don’t have dextrose and I didn’t feel the need to order some just for the purpose of testing, I didn’t make any of those! They learned they had to make their own breads for the most part, since purchased breads didn’t meet the standards of their project, and store-bought tomato sauce nearly always contains sugar so they made that themselves.

Eve Schaub's Favorite Tomato Sauce

I admit, the whole time I was waiting for the moment where they proclaimed how it was an amazing/awesome/worthwhile/recommended experience. But it seemed like the conclusion was that it was something they did, it changed some aspects of their life forever, but overall… they succeeded and then the challenge ended. They do carry on with things they learned, some of their staples are now always homemade instead of purchased.

And I’m scared to look up the YouTube video that triggered her whole journey because I like sweets and I don’t want to eliminate them completely! It’s just too extreme for me. (My eating disorder flew into full gear when I started eliminating entire groups of food… this seems disordered to me.)

HoneyMaxx: Honey-based sports drink

HoneyMaxx packets

HoneyMaxx is the world’s first honey-based sports drink. The developers created it out of a need for healthy hydration that avoids the highly refined sugars found in all other sports drinks… and they let me try it!

HoneyMaxx packets

Most sports drinks are very engineered drinks, so processed and very unnatural. HoneyMaxx is based out of dried honey powder sourced from North American bees. Honey is more easily digestible than other sugars and it’s a very effective carbohydrate source for athletes.

HoneyMaxx packets backs

Other ingredients in HoneyMaxx are interesting too. The ingredients are outlined on their website and they’re all explained. Some that caught my eye:

  • Ginger: A natural anti-inflammatory, this helps enhance the digestive process and soothe the GI tract. They have reports of athletes with extremely distressed digestive systems (Crohn’s patients) who used it with no trouble.
  • Magnesium: I haven’t seen this electrolyte in sports drinks, but have often heard about its importance for muscle function. But it’s included in HoneyMaxx!
  • Stevia & Xylitol: Why would these sweeteners be needed in a honey-based product? Well, they’re used to help smooth out the salty flavors brought on by the electrolytes.

Mixing directions are specific, more so than other drinks:

HoneyMaxx mixing directions

They say that it takes a little more time because real food takes more time! It’s worth the wait. My first time I dumped it in, I dumped it too fast. Due to this it took a little longer to get it mixed in well, but it still worked out.

HoneyMaxx powder in a CleanBottle Runner

Clumpy stuff after it’s sat in the bottle for 5 minutes.

I liked the taste, it’s not super sweet and there’s definitely a slight honey flavor to it. (DUH!) I didn’t experience any stomach discomfort with this stuff, which I frequently do with sports drinks.

I also like the idea that you can use this as a sports drink for kids. Alex is obviously too small to be on a sports team or anything like that, but why pump little kids full of chemicals? Their site recommends half-strength as a serving size for kids.

You can buy HoneyMaxx in a box of 10 single-serve packets for $21.95 or a bag of 20 servings for $21.95. Obviously the bag is the better deal!

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.