No Cow Bars

I was really excited when I was offered the chance to try these new No Cow bars by D’s Naturals.

no-cow-bars.jpg

Reasons to be impressed:

  • Things that are not included: Dairy, GMOs, Gluten, Sugars, Artificial Sweeteners, Soy
  • Fun Flavors: Peanut Butter Cookie Dough: Mint Chocolate Chip, Blueberry Cobbler, Chocolate Pecan Pie
  • High protein: 20 or 21g of protein per bar
  • A story: The founder/CEO is an 18-year-old … that is pretty remarkable!

I was very intrigued when I read most of those stats… and when I got the bars I was pleased when the first bite had really good flavor for most flavors. The blueberry was kind of “meh” for me.

So… are you getting the impression that there is a BUT here? Cause there is one small caveat. But it’s also kind of a big caveat too.

The texture.

Even with a good flavor, I found the texture undesirable. It just felt dry and laborious to muster a will to want to keep chewing.

no-cow-bar-bite.jpg

I prefer my food-in-bar-form to remind me of actual food. I like seeing visual cues of familiar items like nuts and fruits and oats. So overall, these were not a success for me.

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

Rock My Run Giveaway

Putting a little music to your run can go a long way to improving your performance. If I know I’m feeling a little down, the right music on my run (or during work! or during a drive! or just while hanging out!) can turn my mood around. And sometimes, if I’m going out for a run and know I need to run slower (such as for a recovery effort) I’ll make sure I listen to either slow music or I will listen to a news podcast to hold me back. There are even experts who devote their lives to researching the power of music!

See: The Psychology of Effective Workout Music

Putting your device on shuffle can work, but then you may be running and end up with something really random that is on your phone only because you have a 2-year-old. (Or maybe that’s just me?) And making a custom playlist can be awesome… but it can also be time-consuming. Or that song you just love when making your list is a real downer when you start to run. (I had that moment years back when listening to Maroon 5’s Harder To Breathe. I didn’t need to be reminded that “it’s getting harder and harder to breathe!”)

rock-my-run

Rock My Run has worked out all the kinks so that you can have a “playlist” all built to perfectly mesh together and last your entire run. They build them based upon certain genres and tempos and lengths so there is probably a perfect mix for just about everyone out there. The coolest thing about Rock My Run? It’s a FREE service. FREE! As in…. zero dollars.

That’s pretty sweet, but there is also a premium version, or the Rockstar version, as it’s called. So what do you get if you upgrade? For as low as $2.99 a month you can have access to mixes that are up to 4 hours long, add-free content, continuous play in the app for workouts that are longer than just one mix, etc.

Phone-Search_Genre_Screen

I played with the app when they first released it, but I hadn’t kept it on my phone since I’m constantly rotating running-related apps in and out of my phone. One of the coolest enhancements they’ve made is the myBeats feature. You can manually change the tempo of a mix to match your running pace. But if you have an iOS device (coming soon to Android) you can use the accelerometer in the device to adjust the mix BPM or you can connect a heart rate monitor to adapt the beat.

NowPlaying-HR-i5

They offer a 7-day free trial of Rockstar status for anyone through the app, but 7 days isn’t that much time… right? So I’ve got a code to get one free month of Rockstar access on Rock My Run: RMR3I

What about a year? Want a year of premium access to Rock My Run? Yes, you do…. I’ve got a year to give away. And it comes with a sweet pair of JLab Audio’s Fit 2.0 Sport Earbuds. Just enter via the Rafflecopter widget, the giveaway will run March 3-10.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

adora-calcium.jpg

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.

adora-discs.jpg

 

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.

adora-nutrition.jpg

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.

Red Fox Edge Wireless Headset

Do you use bluetooth headphones? I have tried a couple of pairs but most haven’t “stuck” with me. They are decent enough, but they just don’t work for my lifestyle most of the time.

I was recently sent the Red Fox Edge Wireless Headset to test. They were named the “Best Cordless Headphones” by Runner’s World magazine last year and I was pretty impressed with them.

redfox-edge-1.jpg

The wireless headphones are pretty lightweight and they don’t bounce around. Full disclosure, the first time I paired them I ran around my house and bounced up and down trying to see if they would flop around. I run very scientific tests around these parts! They have an “IPX nano coating” which matters because that gives them protection from sweat and moisture.

redfox-edge-3.jpg

They have a 32 foot range, so you can move about a lot with them on. I listened to a conference call with them on and it was nice to be able to pace around my office and not have to worry about carrying my phone every step of the way too, I could just leave it on my desk and “enjoy” my call.

redfox-edge-4.jpg

I did find that if I had my ponytail in the slightly wrong place then it kind of annoyed me against the back of the headset, that caused it to bounce around! And I would recommend it for indoor exercise over outdoors, just because I’m such a stickler about blocking your ears while running outside.

Also, I haven’t gotten really smooth with the buttons on the side. I sometimes skip tracks when I’m trying to turn the volume up or I activate Siri on accident (but at least I know Siri is very responsive via the Edge Headphones!) but I think with more regular use I’d get better! Practice makes perfect or something. But it’s just not intuitive to me, I have to really think if I was supposed to be tapping on the left or right side of my head to accomplish a task.

redfox-edge-2.jpg

Features include:

  • Built in microphone with single button call answering feature
  • SIRI and Google Voice integration
  • Easy-to-use controls on headset for play/pause and track forward/backward
  • The lithium ion battery provides 9 hours of continuous use and requires only 1 hour to recharge.
  • IPX4 Nano Coating provides sweat and moisture protection
  • Includes a custom case for protective storage

Time will tell if these actually become part of my regular routine. I still need to try talking on them in the car. My car has built-in bluetooth phone controls, but I’ve found the road noise makes conversations difficult so perhaps these would be better. But then, I don’t talk on the phone in the car that often anyway.

Buy on Amazon for $119.99

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

KT Tape: My Experiences

I have friends who show up to every race looking like an intricately designed tapestry of KT Tape across various parts of their body. I’ve always wondered if it makes that much of a difference to apply it for every run/race and if they do all that themselves. Have you seen some of these patterns? And do they get funky tan lines from it?

(KT Tape is a brand name of a kinesiology tape used to help support and provide pain relief for muscle, ligament, tendon pain. They have two varieties at this time: KT Tape made out of a cotton fiber that is meant to stick for up to 3 days and the KT Tape Pro which is a synthetic fiber, lasts up to 7 days and is waterproof.)

I’ve tried the regular KT Tape in the past on spots that felt a little twinge-y (technical term there) and I’ve not had any luck with the stuff. No matter how much I try to make sure my skin is perfectly clean and my hands don’t touch the tape, the stuff just peels off within a short time, sometimes nearly immediately. Maybe my skin actively repels the stuff? ;-)

But a little while back I was sent some KT Tape Pro to try. When I had my knee pain that prevented me from running a couple of weekends ago, not only did I rest and apply cold compression, but I taped it with the KT Tape Pro.

kt-tape-pro-knee.jpg

Nobody is giving me any awards for “beautiful taping” any time soon, but this stuff actually stuck! And when I took a shower with it the only parts that came unstuck were the areas where KT Tape was stuck to KT Tape. The direct contact with my skin stayed firmly adhered.

Right now I don’t feel the need to tape up anything every single time I run and I have no desire to do so. I would like to do what I can to strengthen my joints and supporting muscles so they don’t need extra supports. But when there is a little twinge-y, KT Tape Pro could actually help.

And for those of you who use it regularly and actually get KT Tape stick to your skin… fess up… do you use an adhesive?

Arctic Ease

Arctic Ease - Red A couple of months ago I was sent some Arctic Ease to try out. And I looked at it, but wasn’t quite sure how best to evaluate it when I didn’t feel that I needed the product at that moment. So I kind of sat on it and pondered it… until this weekend when I had my sudden spat of knee pain and I realized that “TA DA!!! Now I can test things that were meant for situations like that for my site!”

Arctic Ease wraps are reusable wraps that require no refrigeration and stay in place on their own. Suitable for minor aches, sprains, repetitive motion injuries, arthritis, bruises and muscle cramps, they are safe for any body part.

Benefits:

  • Provides instant cooling relief for up to 3 hours
  • Uses dual action cold and compression therapy to treat aches and pains sustained by active adults and athletes
  • Enables active recovery; unlike ice, the Arctic Ease Wrap conforms to the body and does not inhibit movement
  • In a recent clinical study Arctic Ease® was shown to be as effective as ice therapy in reducing pain, swelling and improving mobility, and because it was more comfortable and convenient, patients kept it on longer.

How It Works:

  • Arctic Ease® wraps are a two-in-one solution, offering cryotherapy and compression. The fabric’s elasticity creates therapeutic compression. Simultaneously, the gel coating absorbs and evaporates heat energy from the body, providing hours of targeted cold therapy.

I did check out the smaller wrap just before Christmas to see what it feels like, it’s got this weird gel like substances on it which I worried would be messy all over the place, but it’s really not. It can flake off a tiny bit, but nothing that really concerned me.

arctic-ease-roll.jpg

But with legitimate pain, I was able to wrap it around my knee this weekend and put it to a real test. I know there is some research saying that cold therapy isn’t as effective as once touted, but I still think it has its place. Arctic Ease combines the cold therapy with compression in one easy treatment… and it also has the added benefit of allowing me to still be somewhat mobile. I’ve tried sitting on the couch with an ice pack on my knee and you know what happens these days? My daughter comes over, picks it up off my leg, tosses it aside and asks me to come help her with something.  At least this way I can still play the role of “Mom” and get some soothing comfort for a trouble spot.

I found it kind of immobilized the joint some, making it hard to walk up and down the steps. Thus it would be impossible to run in it… although I don’t know why you would want to run with an “ice pack” on your knee anyway. It’s a recovery mechanism and it’s fine to slow down some for recovery!

arctic-ease-canisters.jpg

The fabric is a blend of cotton and lycra, Arctic Ease wraps are odor free, and contain NO latex, fragrance, sulfates, petrolatum, mineral oil or menthol. You can reuse a wrap up to 5 times, just add a tiny bit of water to the container and shake it around to reactivate the cooling gel. They come in two sizes: 4” x 60” Full Size that sells for $14.99 and the 2.75” x 36” Small Size, at $9.99. That is kind of expensive for icing when you can buy a reusable ice pack for the same or less (or a bag of frozen peas for even cheaper) but those also limit your mobility a lot more. I don’t think that these would be the forever alternative to more traditional ice packs, but they sure add a lot of convenience. Not requiring a refrigerator or freezer is a big benefit, especially if you’re traveling to an event and know you might need something like this. Post marathon – perhaps wrap the legs up for recovery? I might do this!

Available in Red, Blue, Black and Pink and can be purchased at CVS, Vitamin Shoppe and online at ArcticEaseWrap.com, Arctic Ease seems like a pretty decent tool to have in your recovery arsenal!

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.

ips-protein-package.jpg

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.

adidas Bra and miCoach HR Monitor

A couple of months back I was sent an adidas heart rate monitor and a miCoach bra from Numetrex. The bra eliminates the need to have a separate heart rate monitor strap wrapped around your chest along with the bra. It sounded great to me.

adidas-hr-monitor-numetrex-bra.jpg

The heart rate device hooks into the bra in a little pocket that is on the inside of the bra. It snaps in easily and tucks out of the way. The bra is comfortable and it was supportive for me (small chest, larger chest ladies may need something different). The monitor also came with a strap so you can wear it the more typical way… with a separate strap, unless you wanted to do laundry all the time or wanted to wear the same bra day-in-day-out. (ew…)

It pairs with the miCoach app to track your heart rate.  The app can be used to track GPS for a workout, but I do like that it has the capability to turn off the GPS and just track heart rate monitor. (Or if you don’t have the HR monitor, just track GPS if you’re intersted in that!)

adidas-micoach-app.png

Here’s the thing I didn’t like about it… to get the HR monitor to pair you have to rub water on the sensors (this is typical with most chest straps) but I didn’t like rubbing water inside the bra, that seemed weird. Also, once I did that it paired effortlessly with the app but I never did get it to pair with my Garmin, via the bra or the strap. I’m not technically inept… but I am impatient when it is 5AM and cold/dark outside and I want to get running.

And honestly, I don’t want to use one more app. I’ll test them out, I love testing and experimenting with new apps, but unless something really blows me away I’m highly doubtful it will become my go-to tracking option for runs.

Also, since I got this right around the time of Ragnar, I got to thinking about putting on a HR monitor during a race like that. With a strap, you can loop it around your waist, hook it up and pull it into place, a little bit discreetly. With this you would have to pull up your shirt and fold up the bra. Now, true… people are changing all over the place on a relay race, but that’s something to think about!

adidas-heart-rate-monitor.jpg

GU Brew Reformulated

gu-brew-and-gels.jpg

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.