We have a confession to make….when we see a new “healthy” snack option, we just gotta try it. But, with all the maca, acai, jackfruit, hemp milk, hair of the goat (ok we made the last on up) superfoods out … Continue reading
Granola may bring to mind images of incense burning, camping, and a halo of healthiness but store bought kinds are often sugar bombs. But can some granolas live up to the healthier than the hype?
We recently were given samples of Viki’s Granola new on-the-go Granola Packs to test for their health-o-meter reading. Viki’s Granola is not your grandma’s granola but, dang, it could be.
First, Viki is an actual person, Viki Sater, who creates the actual granola, originally for her daughter’s bake sale. Her small batch granola was so popular that orders began pouring in. Currently, Viki’s granola offers 5 different flavors: Original, Blueberry Almond, Maple Cranberry, Banana Walnut and Apple Cinnamon.
So is this really the healthiest granola out there? Check out these healthful stats.
Sugar: Per 1/4 cup of granola, Viki’s has on average 4 grams of sugar.
Nutritionists suggest you should look for granola with 8 grams or less of sugar. The 1.5 ounce on-the-go Pack is perfectly portioned so you don’t have to wonder if you just snarfed down a crazy amount of granola. Also, bees rejoice, Viki’s only uses organic honey or pure maple syrup as a sweetener. You won’t find any high fructose corn syrup here.
Calories: With about 150 calories per pack, you would want to add some fruit or yogurt for a meal but this is a sizable snack to have in your bag after a workout.
Ingredients: Each granola features only 6-7 ingredients (gluten free oats, organic honey, unsweetened coconut, and different nut and fruit combos) and none that you would have to look up to figure out what it is. This is about as clean as you can get for a processed food. Viki’s is mindful of special diets as well.
• Gluten Free
• Non-GMO Verified
• Cholesterol Free
• Zero Trans Fats
• Sodium free
• Dairy Free
• Kosher Pareve
Viki’s Granola is pretty versatile as it is not overly sweet. Expect soft honey touched oats intermingling with dried fruit. It’s inclusion of tree nuts like almonds and walnuts adds a nice crunch and a pinch of healthy fats to keep you fuller longer. We liked eating it with a splash of coconut almond milk or mixing it up in a parfait. Viki’s website has other fun recipe suggestions like granola covered frozen bananas (summer yummer) or even granola crusted chicken.
So is Viki’s the World’s Healthiest Granola? It’s pretty close. There are a small amount of other granolas out there vying for the title. Does your favorite granola have a shot at the title?
Gluten free goodies are hit or miss. Sometimes you try a gluten free muffin that’s as heavy as a hockey puck and wonder: “Is this the only option I have for muffin glory?” For people with gluten sensitivities or, even more serious, those with Celiac disease, the need for gluten free options is real. But do we want them super processed or super disgusto? No!
Garden Lites gets to the root of this matter and offers gluten free frozen treats to cure your muffin madness with fluffy de-lite-fulness.
- First 2 elements: zucchini and carrots in almost every products
- Gluten free flour mix: brown rice, sorghum flour, flaxseed meal, or cornstarch
- Allergens: Nuts free and dairy free. Some products are soy free, too. (Check particular products, however, for allergen information)
Garden Lites shear off unnecessary fillers and keep their ingredients at the root of what’s needed to make their souffles and muffins. Most have a list of 10 or less on the nutrition facts. The most processed item we noticed is soy lechitin, a common emulsifier used in chocolate and other health related food products. Obviously, it’s best to eat whole foods, but Garden Lites’ chocolatey or blueberry oat muffins will harvest your health compared to those fast food muffins.
Taste the Goodness
These muffins are great for tricking kids into eating veggies and tricking adults into being health conscious. The muffins and souffles are all soft in texture and not grainy. They are also produce packed with the following nutrients:
- Calories for one muffin range between 80 to max 120 calories,
- 2-5 grams of protein, and 8 grams protein in souffle
- 2-4 grams of fiber, and 5 grams in souffle
- less than 11 grams of sugar, 18 grams in souffle
The Chocolate muffin is moist and melty like a baby lava cake.
The Ninja Powered Muffin is but a morsel with a chocolate chip zucchini bread flavor and is aimed at the youngins’. We like Ninja Turtles though so we also enjoyed them.
The Butternut Souffle was cornbread like in texture with the mellow aroma and flavor of squash.
Garden Lites are available at Costco, Target, and Amazon — and let us tell you that Amazon shoppers are all over the Garden Lites, like bees on flowers. Also, you can purchase the frozen products at HealthyGoodness website and get a FREE pint of Three Twins ice cream here! What are you waiting for?! Go Power yourself with Gluten Free Goodies!
*We received free Garden Lites coupons to sample the product. We were not monetarily compensated and our opinions are our own.*
It’s not often that healthy and fast food share the same title but magic is possible. Behold, we hath found a restaurant that aims to do both (oh and its yummy, princes and princesses). We know there’s a few chain healthy alternatives in Chicago but none are 100% gluten free, GMO free and free of common allergins (no nuts, coconut or chickpeas) like the new Green Bean Chicago.
It’s not often that you learn about the passion behind the restaurant you are eating in either. Owners, Executive Chef Mike Watson, Aaron Bush and investor and dietary manager Srinivas Ravanam partnered on this daunting culinary adventure for many reasons. Mike thinks about the health of his children and how fast food often targets them. Aaron works in the health and wellness industry across the state and sees how limited healthy food availability affect people throughout Illinois. Both wanted an affordable fast healthy option for working families. Both strive for a healthier tastier lifestyle for themselves.
We received free samples of their menu for review.
Pick Your Protein: Chicken, Portabella Mushrooms (vegetarian) or Steak
Wrap it up: Choose a gluten free wrap, gluten free panini, or keep it simple with a salad
What’s Your Flavor? Choose Asian, Caesar, Caprese, Griller, Greek or Spanish style toppings
What we ate:
Gluten free Mushroom Griller Panini – pineapple, asparagus, mixed greens and spicy mango sauce
Gluten free Chicken Caprese Panini – mozzarella, basil, tomatos, red onion with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Gluten Free Mushroom Caesar Wrap – croutons, parmesan, romaine and caesar dressing
Sides – Sweet Potato Fries, Tempura Green Beans, Black Bean Hummus
Dessert! – Gluten Free Caramel Cupcake with Italian Salted Caramel Gelato
Loving the light life:
All meals (entree, a side and a drink) are balanced to run around 500-600 calories. There is NO soda at Green Bean but instead homemade stone fruit waters are provided for the combos. Price point runs about the same as a Panera, Chipotle or chain greasy fast food meal, around $8-$9 for a meal.
Who needs gluten?
Kate is sensitive to gluten and has tried gluten free wraps and breads before. Some good (Udis), some not so good (some kinda yucky wrap). Chef Mike’s personal gluten free bread and wrap recipes (a mix of tapioca and rice flour with extra love) don’t seem “gluten free”. Both were hearty and satisfying.
Take us to flavor town!
Monica noted the sweet potato fries were delightfully crispy. Chef Mike explained they are made fresh 4-5 times a day…no preservatives here peeps. She also adored the salted caramel melty creamy gelato. Kate was stuffed to the brim by her chicken caprese panini and, although she doesn’t normally get the feels for mushrooms, these ones were garlicky, juicy and free of that sometimes unpleasantly earthy flava flav. No complaints at the taste office here.
Final Tasting Notes:
We highly recommend Green Bean. It’s health conscious, allergy friendly, and you get your monies worth. Fun Foodie Fact: You can get breakfast or lunch/dinner ANY time (for you brunch cravers). It’s also awesome if you have a social group with dietary needs. You can bring your diabetic dad, celiac sister-in-law, and nut allergic nephew all to the same place! Green Bean is expanding to Schaumburg (yaya suburbanites!) and plans to franchise in future locations. So lighten up and head to Green Bean when you’re in the mood for a healthy and quick meal!
It’s so eassssy being green, if you’re a pistachio that is. Pistachios are wearing little birthday hats as it’s their big day! National Pistachio Day is Friday February 26th and pistachios are ready to be snacked upon. Other nuts … Continue reading
For once the suburbs beat Chicago to something yummy. New local business, Bake 425°, promises Farm-to-Crust Bake at Home pizza and operates in Highland Park, Hinsdale, Evanston, Glencoe, Winnetka and Lake Forest. Bake 425° took over the hole left by HomeMade Pizza Kitchen but with a modified format. Owner, Bill Borneman, decided to keep the ease of the pre-made ready to cook pizza but shift to locally sourced, small batch and organic ingredients. Specialty diets are honored with gluten free crust and vegetarian pizza options. For traditionalists, classic cheese, Margherita and “pick your own topping” choices begin the menu. Adventurous pizza monsters (like us) will be pleased, however, by the unique menu items like Poblano and Chicken Sausage pizza or the Earth Lover pizza with truffle oil, Yukon Potatoes, Portabello mushrooms and Béchamel.
Bake 425° gave us one pizza, one salad and a cookie to sample and review. We chose the Go Green vegetarian pizza, Sunshine salad and chocolate chip cookie.
What we liked:
Pizza: The Go Green pizza comes with pistachio pesto sauce, brussel sprouts, quartered cherry tomatoes, garlic oil and mozzarella. Pesto sauce on pizza is a total thumbs up and the brussel sprouts were (thankfully) roasted and crisp. Crust is whole grain so some consumers may not be used to the dough’s heartier taste compared to white flour.
Salad: The Sunshine salad was filled with spicy arugula greens, roasted butternut squash, pine nuts and shaved mozzarella. Lemon oil dressing complimented the mix with a tart and bright flavor. The salad did need a little bit of salt and pepper to balance the sour lemon.
Ease of Cooking: Bake 425° gives you everything you need to cook your ‘za, except an oven of course. Instructions are clear and you are provided with parchment paper for cooking, eliminating the need for any pans or clean up!
Serving Sizes: We fed three people, which averaged about $10 dollars a person…not bad for a quality take home meal.
What we would change:
The Chocolate Chip Cookie: Nothing really against the taste of the cookie but after eating a pizza, maybe the gelato that Bake 425° offers would balance out the meal better than ending with more dough. We were so stuffed from the pizza, we barely touched the chocolatey dude.
Why would you try it?
When you are having one of those “I wanna stay in my blankey and bake on my couch” kind of nights, Bake 425° can simplify your night without compromising your taste buds.
Chicago had it’s first snow fall Saturday-officially pushing our glorious fall weather onto a slippery patch of ice and out the door. As the nights become darker earlier, we find ourselves seeking toasty dishes to fulfill our need for warmth … Continue reading
Aww hello Fall. We love you and your pumpkin spice lattes. Before you get plumpkin, however, a change of seasons is a fabulous time to adopt new healthy habits and shed old ones. A juice cleanse may help you transition and reset your cravings. We were invited to try BluePrint cleanse for free to eval the benefits of a fall juice cleanse. This ain’t our first cleanse rodeo so we can tell you a thing or two about how this cleanse compares. Let us remind you that neither one of us is a medical professional (we just play them on tv…jkjk) so these are our personal opinions and we can’t guarantee anything similar…except you may become a unicorn. Here are our JAQs (Juicily Asked Questions):
Why do a Juice Cleanse:
Ummm…most co-workers look at you with curiosity and/or incredulity when you show up to the break room with your lunch bag o’ juice. Proponents of juicing contend that it provides a waterslide of vitamins to your body and flushes out toxins. We aren’t really sure but juicing is a good way to quickly get your 5 servings of produce a day, pulverize unhealthy habits and squeeze out a clean eating regimen.
What to do before:
Not the best idea to do that 2 am White Castle before you start a cleanse. Ease into it and keep it light. BluePrint recommends you avoid animal proteins, dairy and processed foods before AND after a cleanse, so don’t jump into a pudding cup after you finish. Basically become a rabbit, a healthy rabbit who loves avocado, olive oil and crunchy greens.
Where did BluePrint come from anyways?
Sneezing and coughing can lead to a thriving business! In early 2000, Zoe Sakoutis, a certified nutritional consultant, caught a monster cold and looked for solutions from a raw foodie friend. The answer? A strict 7 day cleanse. The answer worked but Zoe wanted a way to replicate without all the daily juice machine cleaning. Zoe paired up with her friend, Erica Huss, and thus BluePrint came to fruition. Their cold-pressed juices are a blend of USDA-certified-organic fruits and vegetables. Ingredients are sourced from local farms (including BluePrint’s own acreage).
What was BluePrint Cleanse like?
User friendly for sure! Juices are numbered for ease of drinkage. Like Brian McKnight says “Start at 1” and then move your way through the day to 6 in the evening. You drink a bottle about every 2 hours. Juices come in recycled plastic BPA free bottles and we also received a cute juice carrying lunch bag to tote our way around the day. You need access to a fridge or ice packs in your bag to make sure your juices stay frosty.
Our renovation cleanse was recommended for the beginning juicer and featured 5 different juice combos to shun juice-logged feelings: 1) Green Juice 2) P.A.M.-Pineapple, Apple, Mint 3) Green Juice 4) Spicy Lemonade 5) C.A.B.-Apple, Carrot, Beet 6) Cashew Milk
“Best of Bottle” Juices?
Kate: Ok, so me and beet juice…not always friends. Usually, it’s my most hated juice in the cleanse repertoire. BluePrint’s C.A.B. juice has more ginger and lemon overtones and the beet doesn’t beat up your taste buds.
Monica: I love the idea of alternating juice with heavy fruits and vegetables to light lemon with a kick of either cayenne or ginger juice so I don’t get bored. The night ends perfectly with delicious rich Madagascar vanilla cashew milk….yumm.
Any side effects?
The distinct drooling effect over your co-workers garlicky noodles at lunch.
Missing the little things…like chewing.
What were the benefits?
Kate: I noticed I could taste everything more intensely (in a good way). After the cleanse, veggies and fruits tasted more rich and vibrant. I lost 2 pounds (probably water weight but heyooo, makes you wanna keep up the health and wellness juice jive). I got a ton of vitamins directly deposited into my body bank account.
Monica: I was giddy and perky on 2nd and 3rd day, so much so that my coworkers thought it was due to a new guy in my life (though true haha but I’ve experienced the exact same thing during my first juice cleanse). I didn’t need any caffeine to get through the day even post cleanse. No more bloating and slimmer waist!
Now it’s your turn!
You can WIN a 3 DAY CLEANSE from BluePrint! Click here to enter and start commenting. You can still be “winning!” without winning with Gilt City BluePrint Cleanse Dealio. Extra bonus news: BluePrint cleanse is debuting limited time fall dranks so ditch the Pumpkin Spice and try a six pack of 1 of 4 new juices for FREE when you buy a three day cleanse and enter the code “HARVEST“.
Don’t forget to enter our Rafflecopter giveaway!
We bet you’re wondering by the title how Paleo and Vegetarian can even be in the same sentence together. You’re probably also looking at a pack of bacon and wondering: “Is this vegetarian”? No my friends, bacon isn’t veggie friendly … Continue reading
Forget you, Olive Garden! We are bringing our own soup and salad to work. Soup is an awesome option to consume more veggies AND feel full with fewer calories but packaged soups often have too much sodium, weird looking meat pieces, or too many additives. We were souper (hehe) excited to try some samples of Smart Soups because they are (ehem..be jealous cans o’ soup) none of those things. Creator, Anne Chong Hill has long history in the prepared food industry and recognized the need for high quality, easy to make food and her recipes are inspired by her international background and travel experiences.
Smart Soups are:
- Gluten Free (Hooray!)
- Made with REAL FOOD and no preservatives
- American Heart Association Certified (cholesterol free!)
- Low Calorie and controlled sodium (as one of our friend with high blood pressure was amazed to notice during our lunch break)
With 7 souperb (ha ha ha) flavor options, we had a hard time choosing what to try first. We received 5 options.
Greek Minestrone was Kate’s first go to. Packaged minestrone tends to be bland or have too many noodles in the way. The Greek Minestrone was packed with veggies and rich in herby flavor, possibly the best Minestrone out there except what your grandma might be able to make (if she can cook). Pairing tip: Greek Salad with feta, olives, artichokes and mixed greens.
Thai Coconut Curry is Mon’s fave Smart Soup. Full of coconut water blended with fresh red curry made an amazingly authentic dish, especially tasty on a rainy day. It includes plenty of baby corn, bamboo shoots and red pepper. Pair with side of grilled spiced tofu.
Sante Fe Corn Chowder is vibrant with red peppers, black beans, and corn, balanced with a squeeze of lime. Dunk a vegan tostada and plenty of avocado in it!
Vietnamese Carrot Lemongrass is filled with rich tasty Asian flavors and veggies. Pair the satisfying soup with a Tofu Bahn Mi sandwich.
French Lentil Soup makes a hearty meal with green and red lentils, leeks and moorish spices. Mix it up with a baguette and nicolaise salad.
Smart Soup stores easily in the freezer and couldn’t be more simple to make. You open the bag and pop it on the stove or in the microwave and then you’re done. You can get creative with Smart Soups too by integrating them into new recipes as well.
What’s the most delicious soup you’ve ever tried? Maybe you could inspire a new Smart Soup!