Recipe: Blue(berry)-Green Protein Smoothie

AH…it’s so nice to be able to put up recipes and just blog about anything and everything.  I’m really, really, REALLY trying to make this one of my priorities these days.  I never realized how much I missed doing product reviews, typing up recipes, or just laying out my thoughts/feelings/emotions….for you guys!

So, it seems that Wednesday is turning into a Smoothie-For-Breakfast kind of day.  Which is awesome.  And, that being said, I attempt to make these as nutritious as I can…which means I’m incorporating both vegetables and fruit.  Working off the base of the smoothie I made last week, I upped the game a little today and made a brand new smoothie concoction.

Below, find the recipe for the Blue(berry)-Green Protein Smoothie.

**FOR THE RECORD: I am using PlantFusion protein powder for these smoothies**

Recipe: Blue(berry)-Green Protein Smoothie (Gluten Free; Dairy Free)

bluegreensmoothieServes 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cup spinach, fresh
  • 1 package vegan protein powder (I used Plant Fusion Chocolate-Raspberry Flavor)
  • 1 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp chocolate powdered peanut butter (PB2, Simple Truth, etc)
  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup ice
  • Optional (but HIGHLY recommended): cacao nibs, low-sugar granola, chocolate spread (such as Smudge, Nutella, NuttZo)


Directions:

Place avocado, spinach, protein powder and milk in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the vanilla, powdered peanut butter, blueberries, and ice, and blend until thick.  This is where having a good blender comes in and I love my Vitamix!  Pour into glass or bowl and top with preferred toppings.

~*~*~

For the record, I topped mine off with 18 Rabbits Chocolate Banana Jr Granola Cereal (which I picked up at Kroger) and 1 tablespoon of NuttZo Organic Chocolate Power Fuel (which I got at Whole Foods, but is also available on Amazon). I also tossed more blueberries on top because they are freshly picked, local, and delicious.  And why not?  More antioxidants!

This basically tasted like a sweet tart, but with less of the tart so it wasn’t overwhelming.  And I do highly recommend the toppings…especially if you make it into a smoothie bowl, like I do.  I froze the bowl overnight to keep it chill on the way to the office.

ENJOY!

Do you have a favorite fruit to throw into a smoothie?  Tell me about it!!

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Recipe: Minty Green Protein Smoothie

I own a Vitamix.  I have for a couple of years now.  And yet…I really haven’t ever jumped on the smoothie bandwagon.  Mostly because I’d rather eat my breakfast, rather than drink it.

And I don’t always think smoothies are that filling.  So often (and maybe it’s just for show), a lot of Insta-Story smoothie makers show their polished off smoothie with the caption (or voice over) saying: “And still hungry.”  And that’s been my problem with smoothies.  When not balanced with the nutrients, I find myself hungry soon after polishing one off.

But that was not the case yesterday when, for breakfast after my 6 mile speed work run, followed by a 1 hour spin class, I whipped up a GREEN smoothie (of all things, I went for the green smoothie) to have for breakfast.

I have done green smoothies in the past and disliked most of them.  They tasted too much like…grass.

But not this one.  And this has the added benefit of being free of added sugars and containing amazing healthy fats, as well as being full of protein and fiber that will, in fact, leave you feeling fuller longer.  And the flavor…it’s like eating a bowl of Mint Chip Ice cream (well…if you do the add-ons, as I do).

Sharing the recipe with you below, adapted from one I found online at Sweetleaf.com!

Recipe: Minty Green Protein Smoothie (Gluten Free; Dairy Free)

mintygreensmoothieServes 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cup spinach, fresh
  • 1 package vegan protein powder (I used Plant Fusion Natural Flavor)
  • 1 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 cup ice
  • Optional (but HIGHLY recommended): cacao nibs, low-sugar granola, chocolate spread (such as Smudge, Nutella, etc)


Directions:

Place avocado, spinach, protein powder and milk in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the vanilla and peppermint extracts, and ice, and blend until thick. Pour into glass or bowl and top with preferred toppings.

~*~*~

For the record, I topped mine off with Love Grown Foods Cocoa Goodness Oat Clusters and 1 tablespoon of Freedom Foods Smudge, both of which are available at Kroger.

So, I think I’ll take back what I’ve been saying about smoothies not being filling or tasting good (especially when green). Can’t wait to make this one again.

Do you have any filling, healthy smoothie recipes? Share with me!! Comment below.

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Product Review: WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters

WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters

WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters

Product: WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters – $7.00

One of the best parts about receiving a monthly subscription box is the products I never would have tried and/or heard of without it.  After Cuisine Cube…I needed a change.  So, I opted to get a subscription to Conscious Box, which has become Bestowed.  I love my little monthly treats and this one is affordable, and often has a blend of samples and full-size products.

I received the April box a few days ago…

And I’ve already delved into it.

This morning, I was prepping for a 6 mile run, and per the instructions of my sports nutritionist, I needed to get some fuel in my body before heading out.  So, I went to the pantry and pulled down a package of one of the products I received a full-size sample of.  It is like a granola (and we all know I love granola) and from a company called WholeMe.

WholeMe was created in 2003 by Krista Steinbach and Mary Kosir, two women who were dedicated to developing nutrient-dense, delicious, convenient foods.  Like so many of us, they were leading busy and chaotic lives.  But one thing they both took into consideration was that food has power over everyone’s daily lives and they really wanted to make eating real food delicious and convenient.  In early 2014, they launched a Kickstarter campaign and raised over $40,000 to begin WholeMe.  Their products offer a real alternative to the preservative-filled, sugar-laden snacks that infiltrate the grocery store, and then inevitably…our pantries.  They like to say, “Real food should have a limited shelf life.  Remember, food is perishable.  ours is.  And that’s why the only preservative we use is the fridge.”

So, thanks to my Bestowed Box, I now was the owner of a package of one of WholeMe’s three variety of clusters.  Their granola clusters are available in Almond Coconut, Lemon Berry Chia, and Cinnamon Banana Chip.  As luck of the draw (or in this case…box) had it, I received the Cinnamon Banana Chip.  And this morning…with 6 miles needed at 3:30 a.m…I needed to get some fuel before heading out.  Without any extra sugars, I thought this might be a nice thing to munch on while I got dressed and ready to stretch and warm up.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but when I opened it up and reached inside, snagging a few crumbly clusters of the chocolate-y looking snack, I wasn’t expecting to see real banana chips scattered throughout the blend.  I love banana chips.  Always have.  So, yeah, this made me so happy!  The only real chocolate in this, by the way, is the smattering of cocoa nibs inside the mix.  I figured to give it a go, and I popped the handful in my mouth…

…and was immediately hooked.

In fact, I went back for some more and then went and finished getting ready for my run.  It’s sweet, without being overly sweet.  It tastes mostly of banana.  The cinnamon is nice for the flavor, but it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the product.  In a word…these clusters are freakin’ amazing.  Out of this world.  And GOOD FOR YOU!!  They are soft and have great texture.  Especially if you get a bit with a banana chip in it.  Yummy!  The bits of chocolate add just enough sweetness to keep the flavor interesting.  And everything inside these clusters…is made from real food.  Real food!  I love eating real food.  With a blend of nuts, seeds, natural sweeteners, and an appropriate hit of salt, cinnamon, and maca…this snack blend is a real treat…no guilt.

It is perfect for…as the back of the bag reads:

“What’s in it for Me?  The watch-what-I-eat Me.  The work-out-addict Me.  The grain-free Me.  The paleo Me.  The give-me-something-good-to-eat Me.  The diabetic Me.  The gluten-free Me.  No matter which Me you happen to be, WholeMe is determined to provide genuine, delicious, convenient foods.  Food that makes all of Me (you) happy.”

So, if it’s so good for you, let’s take a look at these natural and real ingredients that go into a package of WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters, shall we?  This granola mix is made from banana chips (bananas, coconut oil), honey, pecans, coconut, almonds, dried bananas, coconut oil, sunflower seeds, pure maple syrup, cocoa nibs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt, and maca.  This blend is grain-free, gluten-free, naturally sweetened, paleo, nutrient-dense, preservative-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.  It is all natural goodness, for sure!

So, with that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the nutrition facts for the WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters.  A serving size of the clusters is 1/3 cup (28 grams).  There are 8 servings per package.  A serving will serve you up 133 calories, 10 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 0  grams trans fat, 1 gram polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 67 mg sodium, 11 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 8 grams sugars, and 2 grams protein.  Not too bad for something that you can eat as cereal, by the handful, or as a topping to yogurt or ice cream.  Seriously…options are endless.

I haven’t seen this in stores anywhere in my area, and it looks like it is mostly available in Minnesota (where WholeMe is based out of).  That being said, there is an online store…which I will definitely be hitting up in the near future.  With real food that is really good…why wouldn’t I?  This is right in my wheelhouse…and definitely gave me adequate and perfect fueling for my run.

Product Review: Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters

Van's Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters

Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters

Product: Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters – $5.99+

One of my favorite, favorite, favorite things to have to eat before heading out to my morning spin class (like 5:30 a.m. start time for class) is something as simple as yogurt, fruit, and a little granola.  It isn’t too heavy to make me feel…BLEH (technical term, yes!)…while spinning out to awesome music and getting my sweat on, but it does give me enough fuel in the tank to not pass out or run out of gas during the workout itself.  And…it’s refreshing…and delicious.

So, when I randomly bought strawberries this past week at the grocery store (they looked good and I really wanted them), I randomly needed to get granola to go with it.  I have an abundance of yogurts (vegan and otherwise) in my fridge for my roomie and I at all times.  But granola…not so much anymore.  I’ve just been trying other breakfast stuff…like Gluten Free NY-Style Bagels and all that.

That being said, this was necessary this week, for sure.  And while out and about on Saturday doing our very random grocery shopping at at least 5 different stores (NO JOKE!), I was on the hunt for a granola that wasn’t too high in sugars and that would pair nicely with strawberries.  I opted for one brand, and then quickly changed my mind when I spotted the Van’s Foods granola in the gluten-free section of said store.

I’ve only had one other version of the Van’s Gluten Free Granola Clusters, but what I loved about it was the soft and chewy nature of it.  So, back went the original brand I had scooped up…hello to one of the newest additions to the Van’s Gluten Free Granola Clusters lineup.  The flavor…Banana Nut.

I am a runner…a marathon runner.  This means I have this special place in my heart for banana.  Banana bread (gluten-free of course), banana cookies, bananas with peanut butter, banana chips…and yes…straight up banana.  Banana is my pre-long run eats.  So, anything banana makes me one happy girl.  No question about it…I wanted to try this granola.

And I have been totally devouring it and enjoying it all weekend.  Like the other granola clusters that they sell, Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters are…really more one large mass of granola, rather than individual clusters.  But that’s fine.  The massive chunk of granola does break apart easily, making for easy sprinkling over yogurt or whatever.  It also makes for good pinching material for stealing snacks between meals, before eating, or just…because.  I love the soft and chewy texture of this granola, because while I do love granola with a crunch, this texture just pairs well with…everything.  And I can eat it quietly and not feel like I might wake up my roommate simply by chewing.  What I do love about this granola is how the banana flavoring doesn’t overwhelm or overpower the actual granola itself.  This makes it perfect for pairing with anything…oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, smoothies, ice cream, etc.  Oh yeah…it’s amazing.  There are bits of nuts included in the clusters as well.  It’s a delicious way to start your day…or end your day…or to have throughout the day.  And I don’t feel bad about snacking on this…because Van’s takes pride in the ingredients they use and the nutritional worth of their products.  It’s a win either way.  Definitely a win when banana is involved.

So, let’s take a look at the ingredients that are used in put together the Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters, shall we?  As I stated, Van’s uses ingredients that they are proud of.  For this variety of their Granola Clusters, Van’s includes gluten free whole oats, brown rice syrup, invert cane syrup, cane sugar, non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil, unsweetened coconut, pecans, honey, flax seed, gluten free oat bran, almonds, natural flavors, salt, walnuts, vitamin E tocopherols (for freshness).  Gluten-free, vegan, and made with whole grains.  Gotta love that.

Now let’s look at the nutritional information of the Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters.  A serving of this granola is 1/3 cup (30 grams).  This serving will provide you with 120 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 1 gram polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 25 mg sodium, 19 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 6 grams sugars, and 2 grams protein.  Deliciously well-rounded, balanced, and not too bad on the nutrition.  I like that this brand keeps added sugar levels low.  Some granola has double digit sugars in a serving.

Van’s Gluten Free products have always impressed me and been amazing.  I love the soft and chewy texture of their granola clusters.  And the Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Clusters is definitely a new favorite.  This package is almost empty…so I think another trek out to purchase more is a must.

If you haven’t tried Van’s Gluten Free Granola Clusters…make a point to do so.  It will change your granola-loving mind forever!!

 

Product Review: Freedom Foods Chewy Oats, Apple & Cinnamon Granola Bar

 

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Freedom Foods Chewy Oats, Apple & Cinnamon Granola Bar

Product: Freedom Foods Chewy Oats, Apple & Cinnamon Granola Bar – $4.99+

It was at the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Indianapolis, Indiana this past October that I was introduced to one of Freedom Foods newest products. Now, I’m already a huge supporter of the amazing, healthy, gluten-free products from Freedom Foods, but what I didn’t know up until that point was that they have moved beyond just cereals and (the best thing ever) Smudge (a dairy-free and nut-free version of Nutella).

I made a purchase of the Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks at the expo, and for my purchase (of umpteen million boxes), they threw in a free box of one of their new (at the time) products…their Freedom Foods Chewy Oats, Apple & Cinnamon Granola Bar.

NICE!!  As I have been a huge fan of everything I have tried from Freedom Foods, this was a nice treat and a huge added bonus for me.  I’m really cautious when it comes to buying protein bars and granola bars, as so often they are just laden with processed sugars, preservatives, chemicals and all that stuff that does the body no good.

But not so when it comes to Freedom Foods.  Their food should always find a spot in your pantry, bag, shopping cart…because their products are all free from gluten, low in salt, a great source of fiber, are non-GMO project verified, have NFCA Certification, are vegan, are kosher, and contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.  Basically…what you see is what you get.  And I absolutely LOVE that.

In fact, Freedom Foods offers a variety of products, although only a few items are available in the United States at the moment…and most of these include cereals, which, for the record, are made in a dedicated and specially built allergen-free facility in the Riverina region of New South Wales, in Australia.  As Freedom Foods was specifically developed to make allergen-free foods, they test every batch made in their facilities, to the most stringent levels possible, leaving no doubt that the Freedom Foods products you pick up will be free of the allergens that are necessary to avoid.

LOVE THAT TOO!

Because we live in a world where it’s not enough to just be health conscious.  Now we have to be allergen conscious too.  With the growing number of food allergies and intolerances, it is nice to find a company that really proves that it is dedicated to creating products that are safe to consume.  Freedom Foods has been around for over 20 years, making great-tasting and nutritious allergen-free food.  I can attest to this, as I am a huge fan of the products I have had from them thus far.  All of their products adhere to the strict guidelines laid out by Australia’s food industry, meaning all their products are non-GMO.  They even test for GMOs just to make sure.

So, here I am…4 months after the GFFAF and just now tearing into the box of free goodies from a company that I adore and trust.  What is wrong with me?  Well, just been working my way through the pantry and trying to do so systematically.  But this was to be paired with my container of Chocolate Chia Superfood Pudding after my gym sessions this week.  And, I admit, I was a small bit concerned that I wouldn’t like it, even packing a backup bar…just in case.

Back up bar wasn’t necessary though.

The Freedom Foods Chewy Oats, Apple & Cinnamon Granola Bar was…simply put…fantastic.  It’s the perfect snack as it’s small and easy to pack into a purse or pocket…ideal for an on-the-go breakfast or when that snack attack happens mid-afternoon, yes?  Hey…it happens.  Pretty much every day for me.  And having something healthy to reach for, rather than candy or sweets, is good for me.  Because, we all know I have quite the sweet tooth.

Well, not only does the Freedom Foods Chewy Oats, Apple & Cinnamon Granola Bars fulfill any sweet craving, I don’t feel guilty noshing on it either.  Not only are they low in salt, with no added artificial colors or flavors, but they are also free of gluten, wheat, almonds, hazelnut, walnuts, dairy, soy, and eggs…and instead contain a whole heap of wholegrain oats, tasty apples, raisins, and sweet cinnamon.  They prove to be a great source of filling fiber.  And…guess what?  They taste amazing.  No backup bar required.

I loved these bars at first bite.  They are sweet, without being sugary.  They are crumbly and chewy, and not dry.  They are packed with fruit flavors and have amazing texture with the coconut, oats, apples and raisins.  Seriously…love.  LOVE.  And, like I said, I can be pretty picky about my bars.  But these are a dream.   A serious granola bar lovers dream.  I devoured them the past two gym days if that tells you anything.

So, now that I’ve raved over the Chewy Oats, Apple & Cinnamon Granola Bars from Freedom Foods, let’s talk about their ingredients!  These bars are made from whole grain rolled oats, glucose syrup, rice cereal (rice flour, yellow corn flower, psyllium husk, whole grain sorghum flour, sugar, canola oil, salt, sunflower lecithin, sultana raisins, glycerin, erythritol, dried apple (contains sulfites), canola oil, resistant dextrin inverted sugar, coconut (contains sulfites), maltodextrin, natural flavor, sunflower lecithin, and sodium bicarbonate.

And as far as that coveted nutritional information goes…Freedom Foods Chewy Oats, Apple & Cinnamon Granola Bars have amazing stats.  Seriously.  A serving size is one (1) bar, and there are 6 bars in each box.  This one bar will provide you and your body with 130 calories, 3 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 21 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 6 grams sugars, and 2 grams of protein.  Filling…but filled with good stuff, that’s for sure.

I love how Freedom Foods continues to hold itself to the highest of standards when it comes to their products.  Their focus on a better and healthier diet, through the food they produce, is evident in the products that they put out on the shelves.  I have yet to be let down.  Totally amazing.  Totally delicious.  And yes…filling.

I’m sold…for life.

 

Product Review: McCabe’s True Original Granola

McCabe's True Original Granola

McCabe’s True Original Granola

Product: McCabe’s True Original Granola – $5.49+

One of my favorite things to purchase at the grocery store on occasion is…granola. Especially granola that isn’t loaded down with sugar.  Granola is so versatile.  You can eat it on its own, put it atop yogurt, or ice cream, or oatmeal.  It’s the perfect thing just to have on hand in the pantry.

And for a little while…I was without.  But then my local Kroger ran a Manager’s Special on some items and one of them was McCabe’s Original Granola.  With $3 off the regular price, I couldn’t pass up the chance to try this granola I had been eyeing on the shelves.

I admit to being a bit of a granola snob.  Most gluten free granola is laden with excessive sugars and are far from healthy.  But McCabe’s caught my eye because all ingredients are recognizable (no chemicals), and it was low in sugars and carbohydrates.  It took me a major sale to actually buy it though because I never could fit it into my budget.  But…now I think it’s worked its way into one of my favorite brands.  And this is simply based off the True Original variety.  Because, you gotta start with the basic.

McCabe’s Granola is a family owned business, run by Susan (mom), Chris (dad) and their sons Jameson and Michael.  Their goal is to provide you with the healthiest, most flavorful granola and granola bars possible.  They take great pride in their products and their family, and the products they produce definitely reflect this.

I purchased the McCabe’s True Original Granola.  Basic.  Simple.

But basic and simple doesn’t mean boring.  Especially in the McCabe’s True Original Granola.  I have eaten this over fruit, over yogurt, by the handful…and I never get tired or bored with it.  For a granola that isn’t just a bunch of sugar…the flavor is awesome.  This granola is proof that original isn’t simply plain.  Becasue there is nothing plain or tasteless or boring about this granola.  The bag refers to it as “The freshest, most natural, nuttiest granola in town,” and it’s not that far off.  It’s low in sugar, it’s made with natural (non-GMO) ingredients, it’s gluten free.  It’s awesome.  The blend of oats, seeds, raisins, and coconut bring great variety for texture and taste.  I love every handful (oh yes…I can (and do) eat this by the handful) of this granola.  My pouch is almost empty, but now I’m willing to pay the full price.  I know whatever flavor I end up purchasing, it’s going to be good.

McCabe’s True Original Granola is made from 100% natural ingredients that include: rolled oats, 100% pure maple syrup, sunflower seeds, cashews, ground flax seeds, raisins, pumpkin seeds, extra virgin olive oil, almonds, and unsweetened coconuts.  Seriously, how can a blend of those ingredients not be amazing.  It’s impossible.  This blend of granola is amazing.  The raisins are my favorite part…

As far as nutritional information goes, McCabe’s True Original Granola is awesome when compared to other gluten-free granola is outstanding.  A serving size is 1/4 cup (28 grams) and there are about 12 servings per container.  One serving will dish up 130 calories, 8 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fats, 0 grans trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 13 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 4 grams sugars, and 4 grams protein.

Lower in calories, sugars and carbohydrates when compared to other brands of gluten-free granola, McCabe’s really shines as a healthy granola choice.  I can eat granola for breakfast or a snack, and I don’t feel at all guilty when I reach for this package.  McCabe’s is certainly fulfilling their statement to provide a healthy and flavorful product.  I am beyond impressed.

McCabe’s Granola is available in the following flavors: True Original, Delta Blueberry, Cran With A Twist, and PB & Chocolate.  If you want a great choice for granola…this is definitely one that you should consider purchasing.  For real.  So go.  Find it.  Buy it.  And devour it.

Product Review: Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola

Tina's Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola

Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola

Product: Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola – $2.99+

One of the best things to ever come from my birthday expedition to Jungle Jim’s International Market (FOODIE HEAVEN!) was discovery local (to Ohio…not to me) bakeries through the products they had on display and for sale at Jungle Jim’s.  I love purchasing these items over everything else, because, well…I LOVE supporting local businesses.

So, one of the products I snagged from the end cap of gluten-free local bakery goodies at the market was this amazing sounding granola from a place called Tina’s Sweet Treats, based out of Franklin, Ohio.

Tina’s Sweet Treats came about after six (6) members of her family were diagnosed with Celiac.  She went from casually baking gluten-free to full-blown.  And, as with most people, wanting to make sure that her fmaily didn’t miss out on any of the wonderful baked goods that they loved, Tina worked hard to create products that won’t lack in flavor, taste, or make her family members feel like they were missing out on something amazing.  Everything from Tina’s Sweet Treats is baked fresh from their home kitchen, which is completely free of contamination!

I love it when I can also get a product and feel 100% secure that it won’t make me sick.  When something is produced where contamination will not even come into question, I never have to play roulette with my body.  And for that, I am thankful!

Jungle Jim’s had a few options from Tina’s Sweet Treats…but the one that really caught my eye…mostly because I don’t see a lot of this from local bakeries…was the granola.  But not just any granola.  Probably what may be considered the most epic of all granola.

Banana Bread Granola.

You had my full attention with all three of those words.  Into the basket…into the shopping bag…into the car…into my pantry.

And it didn’t last long.  This past weekend, I was baking and cooking up a storm, and my lunch was something quick and easy on Saturday.  I had a soccer match to get to and I needed to make some Gluten Free and Vegan Snickerdoodle Blondies and some Dairy Free Pumpkin Ice Cream before heading out to the big playoff match for Louisville City FC.  Thus…lunch became a yogurt with granola on top.  I remembered I had the granola…and being that it is made by a bakery, no preservatives are added and therefore, it is best when used by the sell-by date.  This would certainly accomplish that.  So, after palming a handful to taste on its own (OH MY GOD YUM!), I poured some on a yogurt for my roommate and some on mine.  It was a simple, yet delicious addition to already delicious yogurts, let me tell you.

What I love, first and foremost, is that toasty flavor you get with homemade granola.  Top it off with that aroma and the taste of fresh banana bread, and you’re talking about a winning combination.  And that is exactly what Tina’s Sweet Treats accomplishes with this gluten free Banana Bread Granola.  It was the perfect topper and stir-in for my vegan yogurt, and acted as a bit of a “sundae” topper for Cathy’s Banana Greek Yogurt with a Chocolate Topping.  It was, without a doubt, a way to kick up the yogurt lunch a notch.  And, the added crunch was that bonus that sometimes yogurt lacks.

I wish I lived closer to Tina’s Sweet Treats.  I’d purchase this every week.  Probably multiple times.

The Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola is made from rice flour, potato starch, millet flour, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, sugar, apples, milk, butter (cream, natural flavorings), eggs, brown sugar (white sugar, molasses) sour cream, baking powder (corn starch, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, monocalcium phosphate), vanilla (water, alcohol, vanilla bean), xanthan gum, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and salt.

Since this is made out of a home and sold by a local bakery, I don’t have any of the nutritional information.  But…as with all granola out there, stick to a serving (usually around 28 grams), and don’t go overboard.  It’s all good.  Enjoy a sweet treat (see what I did there?) every now and again.

Love at first banana bread-y bite.  Seriously, if you are a lover of banana and banana bread, Tina’s Sweet Treats has you covered with this granola.  I only wish they had it online to order.  Just…pure goodness and pure wow any way you want to eat it.  Personally, by the handful is the way I recommend. HA!

Product Review: Laughing Giraffe Organics Cherry Ginger Snakarola

Laughing Giraffe Organics Cherry Ginger Snakarola

Laughing Giraffe Organics Cherry Ginger Snakarola

Product: Laughing Giraffe Organics Cherry Ginger Snakarola – $7.99+

When a product goes by the name “Laughing Giraffe” I take notice.  Funny thing though…I’d never heard of this brand before.  Trust me…if I had, it would probably have already been a staple in my pantry.

This brand and product came to me courtesy of my monthly subscription to Cuisine Cube.  I know most of you, by now, are familiar with this service, but let me give you a quick rundown.  For as little as $29.99/month, you can have Cuisine Cube delivered to your door . What this service provides is 5-6 gluten-free, full-size products that are made by local and smaller, artisan companies, rather than those that you can find at the average grocery store.  It has introduced me to so many new and delightful products.  Each box contains a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert product…and then, sometimes, an extra bonus item.  Who doesn’t love a little something extra, right?

So, April 2015’s Cuisine Cube featured Laughing Giraffe Organics Cherry Ginger Snakarola for the Breakfast/Snack item.  I was immediately intrigued.  Loved the name of the company and the name of the product.  And I love a good granola…and this looked like it was quality in a little pouch.  So, yeah…excitement.

Laughing Giraffe Organics is a family run business owned by the Gilmour family, based out of the San Francisco Bay Area.  They entered the health food business out of a desire to learn about healthy eating and how it could improve their own well-being.  Laughing Giraffe Organics mission is to provide quality nutritional snack foods that taste great and only use the purest organic ingredients that are nutrient dense and minimally processed.  I am loving this already.  Basically, they make foods that they believe will satisfy hunger without detracting from quality of life.  This is a company that truly wants you to eat well and live better.

Who can’t get on board with that, right?

It was my 5:30 a.m. spin class day at the gym yesterday.  I love my class, but it’s an hour long, and I have to go home, shower, and get everything together to get out the door to work.  It makes for a huge time crunch.  SO…in order to have something my roommate can eat and that I can take with me to work, it is often something like a Greek yogurt parfait or something of the sort.  This was the case this past Wednesday, and so, before heading off to the gym, I made up two bowls of my infamous breakfast parfaits…Greek yogurt, granola, and fresh berries.

I try to keep healthy (ie: low sugar) granola in the house, and since Cuisine Cube had provided me with some, I figured I’d take full advantage on such a chaotic morning.  I washed the berries and prepped the to-go bowl and the nice bowl (for the roomie to eat at home) for the actual assembly of the parfaits.  I put a small handful of the granola in each bowl, then spooned over the Greek yogurt, then added the berries.  Repeat.  Then finish off with another handful of granola.  It’s a filling, amazing, delicious and nutritious way to start the morning.  Of course, I had to try this granola on it’s own, as well as as a mixer with the parfait.

The Laughing Giraffe Organics Cherry Ginger Snakarola is a better granola.  It’s soft (like Van’s Granola), and packed with nuts and and tons of flavor.  I was a bit concerned with the ginger in the name of the product, but the ginger that is included in the mix isn’t candied or overwhelming.  It’s blended in perfectly and offset by the salty-crunchy nuts.  Then…to add to the decadence…dried cherries.  Honestly, it was a perfect blend for me.  Almost like a muesli while still being a granola.  It was amazing.  And it could be used over dairy-free (or regular) ice cream, in cookies, or eaten straight out of the bag…among other tings.  That’s the great thing about a fantastic granola…it can be so versatile.  The Laughing Giraffe Cherry Ginger Snakarola is all of that.  And…it’s addictive…in a good, healthy, and delicious way.

So, let’s take a look at the simple, basic, organic ingredients that go into each pouch of Laughing Giraffe Cherry Ginger Snakarola, shall we?  This granola is made up of organic walnuts, organic pecans, organic agave nectar, organic dried cherries, organic ginger powder, organic vanilla extract (gluten-free) and Himalayan pink salt.  This product compliments a Paleo diet, has a low glycemic point, is nutrient-rich and power-packed, is a fantastic source of healthy fats, and is packed with fiber to keep you feeling full.  This product is gluten-free, certified organic, raw, vegan and non-GMO.

As for nutrition information, don’t be frightened.  Remember much of this granola is made up of healthy nuts, which, are higher in calories and fats (but healthy…just keep to the serving size or below!).  A serving of the Laughing Giraffe Cherry Ginger Snakarola is 1/2 cup.  This serving will give you 290 calories and 25 grams of fat.  You will also be taking in 50 mg sodium, 13 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams of sugars, 3 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein.  This granola is cholesterol free.

It was definitely love at first bite with this granola.  It wasn’t too sweet, nor was it spicy.  It was crunchy without being over toasted.  And it was soft and delicious.  Filled with the best sort of foods for healthy and fitness…yeah…this was a definite win.  Now to get more for my pantry.  Perhaps in another flavor.  Thanks to both Laughing Giraffe Organics and Cuisine Cube for this fantastic product!

Product Review: Jessica’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut Granola

Jessica's Natural Foods Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut Granola

Jessica’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut Granola

Product: Jessica’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut Granola – $6.99+

It was Whole Foods and Cuisine Cube that got me hooked on the amazing and healthy granola that I have more than indulged in since first discovering it in the breakfast aisle at my local Whole Foods.  This granola is Jessica’s Natural Foods.  I haven’t met one of her granola’s that I haven’t liked.  And the one I am reviewing today is my third variety I have tried.

This speaks very highly of any product when I keep going back to the brand.  And let me tell you, when it comes to gluten-free granola, Jessica’s Natural Foods does it right.  You’ll want to eat it straight out of the bag.  I’ve done it…while sprinkling it on top of my fruit and Greek yogurt parfaits.

As stated above, the granola I chose this time around was the Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut Granola from Jessica’s Natural Foods.  Jessica’s Natural Foods was started by Jessica Mindell, an avid baker with a background in engineering.  Back in 2009, her husband discovered that he was gluten-intolerant and said that he missed oat-based granola.  Once Mindell was able to find gluten-free oats and a certified gluten-free facility, she was able to launch her healthy, delicious granola.  Since then, her bags of granola have expanded to over 25 states.  Mindell’s passion for natural foods means that she always bakes with simple, pure ingredients and keeps health and nutrition at the forefront of her products.  How can you not love that?

Originally called Motor City Crunch, Jessica’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut Granola is just what it sounds like.  Toasted oats that are loaded with cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and hazelnuts.  Think…Nutella in gluten-free granola form.  Does that peek your interest?  It did mine!  This was the original flavor that I had wanted to try when my roomie (Cathy) and I first discovered this brand at Whole Foods.  It was the flavor she waved at me, then selected a different flavor in the end.  Talk about a tease.  That wasn’t happening this time.  When we needed granola to go with the 2 pounds of fresh strawberries we received from the CSA bin, I said that the Chocolate Hazelnut Granola from Jessica’s Natural Foods would be the perfect match.  Cathy couldn’t argue with that.

So…this week’s breakfast…Greek yogurt, fruit and granola parfaits.  One of my favorite things in life.  For real.  Building these is simple.  A little granola on the bottom, then some Greek yogurt, a drizzle of honey or agave, fresh berries.  Repeat.  Then top off the last of it with the granola and honey/agave.  It makes a filling, fresh, nutritious, and amazing breakfast.  Trust me.

And, let me tell you, I was completely right about this granola.  It is exceptional.  I mean, completely indulgent and sinful.  But, it isn’t bad for you at all.  The rolled oats are toasted to a great crunchy texture, and coated with chocolate.  Hazelnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips are incorporated throughout.  And when the chocolate chips hit your tongue, they melt.  It is…A-MAZ-ING!  I can’t think of a time I fell so in love with the flavor of the granola.  But this…this was true love.  Love at first bite.  Love in a Nutella-like formation.  Love for a food might seem strange, but, until you taste what I have, you won’t know the true level of obsession you might develop for a granola.  Honestly.  The absolute best.  THE BEST I have ever tasted.  I would eat it in a bowl on its own, on a parfait, over dairy-free ice cream, by the handful, spoonful, or 1/4 cup full.  If you love chocolate…this will satisfy your tastebuds.  Bite after bite after bite.

Let’s discuss the ingredients that go into Jessica’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut Granola.  This granola is made from certified gluten-free rolled oats, semi-sweet chocolate chips, organic honey, brown sugar, expeller pressed sunflower oil, hazelnuts, ground flax seed, coconut, cocoa powder, maple syrup, pure vanilla extract, sea salt, cinnamon, and tocopherols (natural vitamin E).  This granola is gluten free, cholesterol free, kosher, and non-GMO.

As for nutrition, for being a chocolate based granola…this is actually really, really impressive.  A serving of Jessica’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut Granola is 1/4 cup.  This serving will provide 135 calories and 7 grams of fat.  This granola will provide you with 30 mg sodium and 7 grams of sugar.  That’s amazing for a granola.  You will also be consuming 18 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.  So, yes…you will feel full after eating it.  As this is lower in sugar than most granola, that helps keep you satiated as well.

Love is chocolate.  Breakfast love is chocolate for breakfast.  Jessica’s Natural Foods totally gets this and understands that sometimes we just want something decadent, but healthy, for breakfast.  And that is what you get in Jessica’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut Granola.  It’s a healthy, filling treat that will definitely liven up your breakfast, your snack, your lunch, your dinner, or even your dessert.  Jessica’s Natural Foods does it right…and nothing is more right than this Chocolate Hazelnut Granola.

Delicious!

Product Review: Van’s Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters

Van's Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters

Van’s Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters

Product: Van’s Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters – $3.99+

I. HEART. VAN’S.

Honestly…best gluten-free waffles you can find in the freezer section of the grocery store.  For real.  Best gluten-free French toast sticks too.  Some of the best boxed gluten-free pasta meals.  Amazing gluten-free crackers.  Yes…Van’s has impressed me each and every time they have put out a product for the gluten-free market.

I won’t lie.  I have a bit of a Celiac crush on them.

Shhhh.

So, this past week, I was out and about at Target, spending all my money on all the seasons of Game of Thrones (my newest obsession!) on Blu-ray, when it occured to me that my roomie and I didn’t have any gluten-free granola in the house.  Considering at least twice a week I make delicious breakfast parfaits that require said granola, this had to be fixed.  And, wouldn’t you know it, Target recently started carrying a good amount of gluten-free breakfast things.  Technical term…things.  So, the two of us meandered over to the grocery section to see if we spotted anything we liked.

Our eyes immediately went to the KIND brand and we snagged a bag of it and then prepared to move on.  But my wandering eyes spotted something else.  Van’s…granola?!  What was this?  I didn’t even know that existed.  I didn’t know it was out in the wild!  And now I really, really wanted to try it.  Why?  Because Van’s Gluten-Free = OMGYUMMY!

So, without any hesitation, the pack of KIND granola we settled on was back in place and the bag marked NEW carrying that infamous red flag that reads: VAN’S…now made its way into our little shopping basket.  Game of Thrones…granola.  Do we know how to party or what?!

So, one morning this week, I got everything geared up to make big, big breakfast parfaits.  I had the new granola to try…I had kiwi fruit from my CSA bin…I had Greek yogurt.  So…the assembly began…but not without me first sneaking a taste of the granola.

Bad idea.

Very, very, very bad idea.

Because one taste of the Van’s Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters and I was beyond hooked.  Holy Moses and the Gluten Free Gods!  I mean…think of the most fantastic Rice Krispies treat you have ever had…then multiply it by at least ten.  Maybe more.  This soft baked granola is exactly what that tastes like.  Trust me.  I used to devour Rice Krispies treats whenever possible.  This is a little bit sticky, very soft and chewy, packed with sweetness, with a hit of the dried fruit and the savory nuts to bring it balance and amazing texture.  I wanted to eat the entire bag and not share.  Not even put it in a parfait.  It was sheer perfection the way it was…straight out of the bag.  So much love.  One big gooey clump of granola…one very happy Celiathlete.  Beyond amazed.  Beyond impressed.  Simply put…I was blown away.  This is one of the only granola I now will have in my pantry.

One of those reasons is how much Van’s actually cares about what they put into their products.  And the Van’s Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters are no exception.  They even put on their label: “Ingredients: (That we are proud of!)”.  WINNING!  So, what goes into the Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Granola Clusters?  Glad you asked!  This granola is comprised of gluten-free whole grain oats, brown rice syrup, walnuts, invert cane syrup, non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil, dried blueberries, cane sugar, unsweetened coconut, honey, flax seed, gluten free oat bran, almonds, vanilla extract, sea salt, and mixed tocopherols for freshness. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, cholesterol-free, kosher, made with whole grains, and contain no artificial flavors or colors.

As far as nutrition goes…loving the stats on the Van’s Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters.  One serving is actually a whopping 1/3 cup.  In this serving, you will be taking in 130 calories and 5 grans of fat.  You will also be provided with 30 mg sodium and only 6 grams of sugar.  This serving will also dish up 2 grans of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

And, trust me…you’ll just eat it straight out of the bag.  You won’t want to stop.  You’ll wish you had dished out a portion size.  And then you won’t care.  Because…just wow!!  WOW!!  Another winner in the Van’s Gluten Free product line up.  I’m going back for more of this granola this week.  Because, yeah, we polished it.