The World’s Healthiest Granola?

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?

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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.

Nutrition

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

Taste

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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.

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You can purchase Viki’s Granola at several grocery stores or even order online.

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?

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Nutrition Gets Fancy With Curate Snacks

Us gals are always on the look out for new healthy and interesting grab n’ go snacks.  Call it the too busy syndrome or too curious syndrome.  Balancing full time jobs with our passion for blogging sometimes leaves us with … Continue reading

Meatless Monday: New Laughing Cow Asiago Cheese

Cheese!  The friend of many a vegetarian and, in excess, a possible foe to your caloric intake.  Laughing Cow Brand Spreadable Cheese Wedges can make you giggle in cheesy delight however and ease your cheese anxiety (easy cheesy..hahahaha).

We’ve always been a fan of Laughing Cow cheese.  Their spreadable wedges are portable, low in calories, high in protein and a versitile snackaroo.  One of their newest flavors, asiago, is savory and satisfying when on the go, a quick after work snack or even when hosting a partaaaay.  We received free samples during the launch of the asiago wedge back in January and lightened up our New Years but then bought even more for the Super Bowl.  We decided to create 2 contrasting recipes to showcase 2 sides of the same cheese.

Kate’s Sweet N’ Spicy Wedges

Ingredients

  • 1 Can Crushed Pineapple Slices
  • 1 Jar Jalapeno Jelly
  • 1 12 ounce Jar sliced Jalapenos
  • 1 bag CrunchMaster Multiseed Crackers
  • Laughing Cow Asiago Cheese

Directions

Sooo…this is so easy!  Lay out the Multiseed Crackers crackers on plate.  Use a cheese knife or butter knife to spread 1/4 wedge of cheese (or more if desired) on each cracker.  Spread jalapeno jelly on each cracker.  Garnish each cracker with a piece of pineapple and a slice of jalapeno.  These lil’ crackers got demolished at our NYE gathering so we’re sure you’ll love um.

Monica’s Italiano Caprese Wedges

Ingredients

  • Cherry tomatoes sliced in halves
  • Fresh Basil leaves
  • Italian herbs
  • Garlic Sea Salt
  • Whole Black Pepper grinded
  • 360 Whole Foods EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • Laughing Cow Asiago Cheese

Directions

Peel open several Laughing Cow Asiago cheese wedges, remove wrapper and set each wedge on a plate.  Sprinkle dried basil leaves, Italian seasoning, garlic, sea salt, and grounded black pepper on each wedge.  Slice cherrry tomatoes in half and wash/pat dry the basil leaves.  Add fresh basil leaves and halves cherry tomatoes to each wedge.

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Laughing Cow Asiago can also be smeared on tortilla chips and turned into breakfast nachos with scrambled eggs and veggies, spread on a bagel with spinach and roasted peppers or whateva’ you like (as T.I. says).  Or try the Pistachio Pear Honey Asiago recipe posted recently for a sweet treat.  Click here to read the recipe.

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Are you team Sweet N’ Spicy or team Italiano?  Do you have any other Laughing Cow Recipes you love?  Offer 9 total flavors, you can #savorthemoment with a different flavor every day!  Find Laughing Cow products at a grocery store near you.

Mind and Body Revival

Pamper yourself and help puppies = Win/Win!

Join us this Thursday and escape the cold with Delos Therapy and Balance by Jitka Robinson for a celebration of self care.  All proceeds go to Furever Rescue, a 100% volunteer all women run animal rescue organization in Chicago.

What:

Delos Therapy and Balance: Mind Body Revival Event

Where:

Delos Therapy (inside David Barton Gym) – 600 West Chicago Avenue Chicago, IL 60654 – View Map

When:

Thursday, January 21, 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Spatacular Details:

Wellness for your mind and body – Yoga, mindfulness, meditation, complementary Delos Therapy

Satisfying snacks – tea from TeaGschwendner, coffee from Organo and Essentia water; snacks from Snap Kitchen and The Paleo Cookie

 

Fitness and beauty finds – Athleta, Herb and Ohm, Folium Medica, Glo and Sarah Helen Skin Care

Tickets are $27 online and $35 at the door.

 

* $1/hour validated garage parking is available!

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Bar Method #MeInspiresWe Challenge

Cue the Final Countdown Music and say this in a movie phone voice: “We challenge you, dear readers, to a battle to the death…of flappy arms and thighs.” Join us this month, from January 11th-February 15th, and get toned as … Continue reading

Sweet Scarletts Grapefruit Giveaway

Saying “so long” to sweet summer strawberry season can be saddening but as berries make their way out, sunny peak seasoned citrus can fill your fruit fancies.  Maybe grapefruit, however, isn’t normally your top citrus treat. Grapefruit can bring memories … Continue reading

BluePrint Cleanse Giveaway

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.

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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.

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Any side effects?

Constantly cold!

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!

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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!

Super Sonic Health Tonic: Tonica Kombucha

If you haven’t been reading our blog since the good ol’ days, you may not know we are Krazy for Kombucha.  Kombucha, a fermented tea, provides a boost of B vitamins, probiotics to help your tummy, and is rumored to have detoxing and immunity boosting powers.  We tend to go for kombucha when when we have have the digestive downers and are known as kombucha pushers on our friends with colds.

Now that has been cleared up, we have to tell you about a new Kombucha we are loving, Tonica Kombucha.  Tonica comes from our neighbor to the north, Oh Canada.  You may know Canada as the land of yummy things like poutine, ketchup fries, and Makintosh toffee.  Now you can also equate it to something healthy!

Tonica Kombucha was started by Zoey Shamai who, in our opinion, is sort of an Emma Stone doppelganger as well as (more notably) a traveling yoga teacher and home kombucha brewer.  Once she started sharing her home brew, her Canadian crew went crazy too so she expanded into a business.  Her Toronto based Kombrewery pumps out 8 different fuzzy flavors of Kombucha: Ginger Rapture, Green Tea Revival, Nude Brew, Peach Resolution, Mango Passion, Coffee, Vibrant Blueberry and Jasmine Tea.

We were given samples of Jasmine Tea, Coffee and Peach Resolution to try and review.

Coffee:

We were a quite curious to see how this kombucha would taste.  The coffee kombucha had a bubbly texture and light coffee flavor.  It also provided a decent boost of energy that could replace a moderated coffee drinker’s caffeine needs. It had a balance of sweet without being overpowering.

Tonica coffee

Jasmine Tea: 

Most of us know that tea is a go to health drink as it has super anti-oxidants and Jasmine tea happens to be a star in the tea world.  The Tonica Jasmine tea has a fresh floral flavor along with the fizz and a sweet fragrant balance.  Jasmine tea also has caffeine (surprise) so you can sub it in for a detoxifying morning jolt!

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Peach Resolution:

If you have a resolution to lose weight or kick a sugary drink habit, try this inspired flavor. Peach resolution has only 30 calories, 4g of sugar and a mix of fermented organic green and black tea, rooibos, which are great for metabolism boosting and halting hunger. It surprises your palate with blackberry leaves, ginger pieces, calendula petals and organic peach extract as well.

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Tonica is only 45 calories for 1 bottle with natural carbonation.  It’s 100% raw and certified organic.  It’s also full of healthy bouncing baby bacteria, the kinds you need to keep a balanced body PH.  Tonica can be purchased in ‘Merica at Whole Foods.

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FINAL FIZZ THOUGHTS:

One kind tip for 1st time kombucha drinkers: Tonica, like most kombuchas, is a fizzy party.  Unless you want to shower in kombucha, DO NOT shake the bottle and for extra precaution, open over a sink so all your delicious kombucha doesn’t escape.  Ready to taste Tonica?  6 flavors are available at our Chicago area Whole Foods or you can check to Tonica locator here!

New! Top Picnic Picks for your Basket

Think fast!  It’s time to go to an outdoor concert with your friends or a park with your kids or a romantic al fresco dinner with your boo.  What do you pack for your picnic?  You need something light, portable, tasty and healthy… and a crowd pleaser cuz you don’t wanna be that person who brought the last minute convenience store cheese curls.

We recently were given some samples of new products guaranteed to liven up your summer adventures and omgee, we had to pack them for our own picnic!

For the sweet tooth:

Get your potassium on while satisfying the sweet cravings with Barnana.  We didn’t really know what to expect but we were pleasantly surprised and happy campers (even Monica liked it since she does not like any banana flavor products).  Simply, they are dehydrated bananas with a twist of treat.  Barnana offers 4 types of munchable banana bites which are Original, Chocolate, Coconut and Peanut Butter.  These are organic, gluten free, non GMO and non-dairy heart healthy snacks.  Barnana consist of minimal ingredients a.k.a you won’t find a mile long list on the side of the bag.

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For the purist, original Barnana is like popping mini banana chunks in your mouth.  The chocolate Barnanas felt decadent, with a coco shell surrounded the soft banana inside.  Tip: mix the chocolate with the peanut butter Barnanas and you will feel like you’re eating an extra healthy peanut butter cup (YES!).  The coconut Barnana seemed more like a homemade energy bite with a chewy texture and flakes of coconut.  We had guests over, ages ranging from 3 to 50, who quickly depleted our precious coconut Barnana supply.  The bites come in a compact package, perfect for backpack carrying.  You can purchase all flavors of Barnana online or search for a local vendor.

For the savory lover:

Ditch the greasy bag of potato chips and get classy with the back-packable Tuscan inspired Pasta Chips.  Made with semolina flour and sprinkled with Italian herbs, Pasta Chips pair well with the picnic classics like hummus, dips or the party favorite of Wisconsinites, CHEESE!

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On our summer picnic to the new Maggie Daley Park, our guests sampled 3 different flavors: Mediterranean Sea Salt, Spicy Tomato Herb and Spinach Broccoli Kale.  Spinach Broccoli Kale will please the veggie lover and go well with an artichoke dip.  The Spicy Tomato Herb wasn’t so much spicy as much as a pop of zesty tomato flavor.  The light flaky texture would be perfect with mozzarella, tomato, basil bites as an appetizer.  The Mediterranean Sea Salt could easily knock a potato chip out of the park with it’s crispy crunch and touch of salt.  Dab it with french onion dip or an olive tapenade to wow a crowd with your master picnic status.  You can purchase Pasta Chips online or we’ve spotted them at Chicagoland Mariano’s.

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Dear audience, you know there’s nothing like a picnic with your fave friends in a park on a warm summer day.  Load up your basket and get ready to Mangia! with Pasta Chips and the seductive yet not sinful Barnana.  Where’s your top spot to stop for a picnic?  We’ll bring the snacks if you bring the blanket and the boombox (or bluetooth speaker…but that’s not as fun *wink*).

Give Some Good with Outshine Frozen Snacks

We have a unique chance to give a little this month with a new first of it’s kind charity effort, the “Give Some Good” campaign, situated at one of our major transportation hubs, Union Station.  Outshine Frozen Snacks, maker of fresh fruit and yogurt bars, is spearheading a creative movement to reduce food deserts.  National attention was drawn to the concept of a food desert in 2006 when Mari Gallagher’s research illuminated a lack of access to healthy and fresh foods in areas of poverty.  The gap is closing but we still have a way to go.  In Chicago alone, over 383,954 Chicagoans were living in a food desert as of 2011.

So how can you help?

A charity promoting billboard (that is secretly a superhero robot…jk), is currently located in the BNSF tunnels of Chicago’s very own Union Station through June 9, encouraging travelers to get involved with reducing hunger!

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It’s easy to give!

  1. Simply do a secure swipe of your credit card straight down the middle of the billboard and $1 is donated to hunger.  That’s a 4th less than your daily latte habit!
  2. Each swipe starts a film sequence on the billboard screen that shows a bounty of fresh produce falling into the hands of a girl (symbolizing your awesome charity efforts)
  3. Each $1 swipe supports Feeding America in donating 9 POUNDS of fresh produce to hungry families.

Outshine Frozen Snacks is teaming up with Feeding America, one of the nation’s top hunger combatants, to help bring produce to those in need, with the goal of donating two million pounds of fruits and vegetables (we kinda feel like Dr. Evil saying “one million dollarsss” but this is for GOOD!!).  Even if you aren’t in Chicago, you can help during June and July by purchasing specially marked boxes of new Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars in stores.  Made of 100% frozen yogurt blended with real fruit like Strawberry Banana, Mango and Pineapple, they are perfect for your next summer BBQ.

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Each time you buy a promo box of Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars, you help the Outshine brand and Feeding America provide one pound of fruit and vegetables to those in need.  Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars are available at major retailers like Target, Mariano’s, Walmart, Jewel and more.

So what are you waiting for, after all Fro-YOLO (fro-you only live once so feel great by helping others)!  Snack or swipe to help Chicagoans get the fresh food they need with the #GiveBrighter campaign.

*Full Disclosure: We are being compensated by Nestle to promote the GiveBrighter campaign*