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Thursday, June 28, 2007 

Figamajigs Dark Chocolate Covered Figs

Figamajigs are low fat, a good source of fiber, and high in antioxidants--THIS is the candy you've been waiting for! Delicious dark chocolate covered fig drops are all-natural candy pieces with the goodness of fig and dark chocolate. A serving is only 4 grams of fat, 15 mg of sodium, and 150 calories! This fantastic, HEALTHY candy will also give you 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 15% iron, and 6% calcium (based on a 2,000 calorie diet)--when's the last time a candy did all that for you?

The best part is that these little drops are sooooooooo good that even kids love them!

Try them now: Figamajigs

Monday, June 25, 2007 

LesserEvil Krinkle Sticks

Our friends over at LesserEvil seem to be in possession of limitless genius. Their newest "lesser" evil snack takes on the classic diet-disasters potato chips and french fries and wins...hands down. Krinkle Sticks, takes the crunchy, potato-y yumminess of potato chips and the cute, krinkly-cut, finger food addictive qualities of french fries and combines them in a totally unique snack that won't sabotage your diet.

These potato snacks are baked (NOT fried) and come in flavors reminiscent of potato chips such as Classic SeaSalt, Sour Cream & Onion, Barbecue, and Cajun. Unlike potato chips, however, a 1 cup serving of Krinkle Sticks is only 110 calories and 2.5 grams of fat (0 saturated, 0 trans). Krinkle Sticks also boast 2 grams of fiber and protein and are gluten free. You can eat these crunchy snacks right out of the box, or, if you're more of a french-fry fan, you can dip them in ketchup. Either way, you'll satisfy your potato craving in a much healthier way.

Try them now:

Thursday, June 21, 2007 

Gin Gins Boost Ginger Candy

I recently found another great product offering from The Ginger People -- Gin Gins Boost. Gin Gins Boost are deliciously chewy ginger candies that have a great spicy flavor and provide all of the stomach soothing benefits of fresh ginger. In fact, each soft chew contains a whopping 30% fresh ginger and the makers of Gin Gins Boost are stating that these candies are a natural way to soothe motion sickness, making it the perfect travel companion.

Interestingly, I came across these candies while preparing for my family's annual road trip. My son (and husband) are prone to car sickness, so I'm always looking for new ways to make the hours we spend in the car more tolerable for everyone -- although the jury is still out on how well these little drops of ginger will perform, I'm feeling quite optimistic given what I already know about the stomach soothing power of ginger. I have to imagine, if Gin Gins Boost can effectively relieve motion sickness, they would also be a great natural remedy for morning sickness -- every pregnant woman's curse.

Ingredients: Cane sugar, glucose, ginger (30%), modified cassava starch, non-hydrogenated palm kernel oil (trans fat free), salt, soy lecithin. Each pack contains 1.1oz (12 individually wrapped candies).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 

Newman's Own Lightly Sweetened Lemonade

With the sun shining and the temperature on the rise I wanted to treat my kids to their first taste of lemonade for the season, however, I wanted to avoid the unhealthy stuff commonly found in store-bought lemonade. Since my impression of the Newman's Own brand of products has been quite positive in the past, without stopping to analyze the nutritional label I grabbed a container of Newman's Own Lightly Sweetened Lemonade out of the refrigerator case and placed it into my cart without even a second glance. Later in the day I was pouring a glass of this lemonade for my daughter when I happened to look down at the ingredients listed on the side of the carton. To my great surprise and disappointment I was horrified to see high fructose corn syrup listed among the other ingredients on the label. Given the nature of their business as well as their marketing strategy, I made the uninformed (and slightly mislead) conclusion that Newman's Own would only put the best ingredients in their products (i.e. in the case of lemonade -- lemon juice and sugar). A warning to all -- buyer beware -- don't assume, always read the nutritional label before you buy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 

Annie's Microwavable Mac & Cheese

Under the category of healthy convenience foods, Annie's Microwavable Mac & Cheese is right at home. Packaged in a box of five single serve envelopes, Annie's Microwavable makes a quick, easy and nutritious lunch for my kids, especially on those colder days when they are looking for something to warm them up -- from box to microwave you can feed your little ones in just about 3 minutes. Made with organic durum semolina pasta, real cheese and buttermilk, there is nothing in this pasta that you would feel uncomfortable feeding your kids. This product provides the same wholesome goodness of Annie's other mac & cheese product offerings -- flavor has not been sacrificed for convenience. One warning, be sure not to over-microwave or you'll end up with a tasteless, dried out mess. Also, to bump up health benefits, I like to throw some frozen veggies into the bowl before microwaving.

Friday, June 15, 2007 

Soy Garden Natural Buttery Spread

As long as I've known my husband he has only willingly eaten margarine (in my opinion, one of several food abuses associated with his childhood -- I won't get into the green bean patties). Anyway, I'm really uncomfortable giving any member of my family margarine as the result of report after report of scientific findings stating the health risks associated with trans fats. Recently we switched over to Soy Garden Natural Buttery Spread -- it's 100% vegan and made with crushed soybeans. While at first the idea of this product was met with some trepidation by my husband, he was quickly won over my it's great taste. Soy Garden has a smooth, creamy texture and if you are not eating butter, it is the next best thing. It can be used quite successfully in most recipes, including baking recipes and has no hydrogenated oil, no trans-fatty acids, is all-natural (no preservatives), and lactose and gluten free.

Thursday, June 14, 2007 

Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams

Several weeks ago I was grocery shopping with my son and daughter. When we arrived at the peanut butter and jelly section of the store the two of them spotted a jar of what appeared to be alternating stripes of peanut butter and jelly -- of course, my children had to have it! Thinking I might humor them (and use it as leverage to gain their cooperation to get through the rest of the store) I picked it up to review the nutritional contents -- need I say more?! Anyway, as you can imagine this stuff was loaded with garbage -- tons of sugar, unhealthy oils, artificial flavorings. Needless to say, I couldn't bring myself to buy it for my kids, even if it meant hearing their cries of disappointment, which would regretfully extend my "quick trip to pick up a few things." So, in an effort to ease the blow, I suggested we go to the health food section of the store to see if they had an interesting flavors of peanut butter they might enjoy (and be more healthful). Happily, there we found the brand Peanut Butter & Co.. Peanut Butter & Co. is all-natural peanut butter that comes in a variety of slightly offbeat flavors, including Dark Chocolate Dreams, Cinnamon Raisin and White Chocolate Wonderful. On this day the kids decided to try Dark Chocolate Dreams -- a blend of peanuts and cocoa. This peanut butter is beyond delicious -- the perfect blend of dark chocolate and peanuts, making it not too sweet as well as maintaining a peanut butter flavor. This peanut butter can be enjoyed a variety of ways -- spread on toast, made into a sandwich (particularly good with sliced banana) or used as an alternative to regular peanut butter in your favorite baking recipes. Our two favorite ways to enjoy this chocolate peanut butter is on homemade banana bread and mixed into a banana and yogurt smoothie for a delicious, protein-rich morning shake. My daughter even likes it as an afternoon snack served along side pretzels for dipping.
Peanut Butter & Co. uses no hydrogenated oils, refined sugars and is gluten-free.
By the way, if you are ever in New York City, Peanut Butter & Co. has a restaurant devoted to everything peanut butter at a Greenwich Village location.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007 

Crispy Green Crispy Apricots

I recently found another tasty and convenient way to add more fruit to my families diet with Crispy Green Crispy Apricots. Crispy Green is unlike other "dried fruits" in that they use a unique method of freeze-drying fresh fruit in order to remove it's water while maintaining the integrity of the fruit's nutrients -- leaving behind a sweet, delicious, light and crispy snack. Crispy Green is 100% real fruit, with no added preservatives or additives. In fact, unlike many other dried fruit producers, Crispy Green does not use the preservative sulphur in any of their snacks -- an ingredient to which many people have a sensitivity.

Crispy Green is conveniently packed in 0.36oz. bags (by the way, for those of us drawn in by good packaging, it's attractive too), making it the perfect midday snack while on the go or especially for the kid's school or camp lunchboxes. We also like it sprinkled on yogurt and on hot and cold cereal. Although I have not had an opportunity to try it myself, I bet Crispy Green would taste great added to your favorite muffin or quick bread recipe.

So far, we have enjoyed Crispy Apricots which contains the equivalent of 2 apricots and 40 calories in each 0.36oz. bag -- Crispy Green also sells Crispy Apple, Crispy Peaches and Crispy Pineapple.

Crispy Green Crispy Apricots

Tuesday, June 12, 2007 

Ginger People Spicy Apple Ginger Chews

Frankly, all I really need to say about Ginger People's Spicy Apple Ginger Chews is they are completely addictive! That is pretty high praise given my first attempt in eating crystallized ginger resulted in a twisted face and a (thankfully) very handy napkin. Needless to say, when a friend offered me a sample of Ginger's People Spicy Apple Ginger Chews I was more than a little skeptical in giving chewable ginger another try. However, so not to be rude, with a lot of hesitation I placed one of these bite sized chews into my mouth expecting the same quick exit I'd experienced with other ginger candies. Within seconds, the candy revealed not an unpleasant taste, but rather a huge burst of bold flavor with a wonderfully spicy under bite.

Spicy Apple Ginger Chews are made with fresh ginger, apples, cinnamon and allspice -- it's like eating a really chewy, but completely healthy Red Hots candy (we all remember Red Hots from our childhood, don't we?!) Soon after discovering these bite sized treats I was completely obsessed -- they were in my pocketbook, tossed on the seat of my car, in my pantry and office...I was eating so many of these little guys my children were in the habit of asking me if I needed a "ginger chew" -- even they recognized when I needed a fix. Happily, now that the excitement has worn off a bit, I'm down to eating them once in a while, particularly after dinner. Interestingly, ginger is known to have many health benefits, including improving digestion and curing upset stomachs -- making it a perfect after dinner candy. In addition to aiding digestion and coping with nausea, ginger also contains anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that may help to relieve headaches, arthritis, muscle aches and pains -- including menstrual pain.

With only 20 calories per chew they are a low calorie treat that provides long lasting, full-bodies flavor and considerable health benefits too.
Ingredients: cane sugar, maltose (a natural sugar derived from corn), ginger, natural apple flavor, cinnomon oil, potato starch, vegetable oil. One chew contains 20 calories, 0g fat, 5g carbs.

Spicy Apple Ginger Chews

Monday, June 11, 2007 

Health Valley Chocolate Blastems

Cereal is a breakfast staple in my household. My daughter practically rolls out of bed in the morning with a cereal bowl and spoon already in hand. Any mom who has had the misfortune of shopping the cereal aisle with their kids could tell you – it’s a living nightmare! Temptations galore -– a never ending sea of brightly colored boxes reaching out to grab our kids with the promise of sugar-filled fantasies featuring the latest and greatest animation or film stars. While it is sometimes difficult (and much harder) to ignore their pleas, I try to remind myself just how horribly non-nutritious the majority of these cereals are -- offering up high fructose corn syrup, loads of sugar with little fiber and in many cases artificial coloring.

Happily, there are many respectable kid-friendly cereal alternatives in the health food section of most supermarkets. One of my kids’ favorites right now is Health Valley Chocolate Blastems. Chocolate Blastems are a USDA organic chocolate puffs cereal. It’s rich, chocolate flavor make my kids feel they are eating something sinful, while I am confident they are getting fortified whole grains with a lot more fiber and a lot less sugar then most commercial brands of cereal. In fact, the flavor is so good, my husband and I are known to enjoy an occasional bowl (for me, mostly as a evening snack to tame my nightly sweet tooth). Also, my kids love it sprinkled on yogurt and mixed with another healthful brand of peanut butter flavored cereal (EnviroKidz Organic Peanut Butter Panda Puffs – I’ll get to that in a later blog) for a kind of healthy Reese’s peanut butter cup taste – yummy! With only 160 calories a serving (that’s with milk too) and 8 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fiber it is a much healthier alternative for the entire family – so, grab your spoon and dig in!

Friday, June 08, 2007 

V8 V-Fusion Vegetable & Fruit Juice

Trying to get the USDA recommended 5 servings of fruits and (especially) vegetables into my children every single day of the week is a Herculean feat, in fact, it’s more like a poorly paid full-time job. While my son is pretty easy going, enjoying a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, my daughter, on the other hand, poses me with the greatest challenge. In fact, there are so many fruits and vegetables she’s rejected over time that my son took it upon himself to create a list of these “offensive” foods she will not eat and has placed this list on our refrigerator for my quick and easy reference.

Given my daughter’s fickle nature, I am constantly bringing home new fruits and vegetables in a variety of forms. These attempts to find something she’ll willingly eat in turn give me the peace of mind that she is getting at least close to the daily requirements. Most recently, I spotted a bottle of V8 V-Fusion when I was shopping the juice aisle of my grocery store. It caught my eye because it was 100% juice that offered one full serving of fruits and one full serving of VEGETABLES per 8 oz serving. If you take a closer look at the ingredients, you’ll discover that this juice is not only made of the usually fruit juice suspects – white grape, apple, and orange, but is also includes a few surprises like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and tomatoes. In addition, depending on the flavor you chose (they have several) V8 throws in a few more juicy combinations – we tried Strawberry Banana and yes, real strawberry and banana purees were added. V8 Fusion is antioxidant-rich with vitamins A, C and E and there is no added sugar or artificial ingredients.

Now to the best part – my daughter (and son) love the flavor of this juice. It can best be described as a not too sweet tasting strawberry banana smoothie. My children love the flavor so much I ran out and bought a few more bottles while they were still on sale. A true testament to my daughter’s enjoyment of this juice came the day my 9 year old son, while enjoying a glass of this juice, was reading the nutritional info on the bottle (he is my son, after all) and he announced in a completely surprised and booming voice that “hey, there are sweet potatoes and beets in this juice.” I held my breath in anticipation of my daughter, who was also drinking the juice, pushing the glass away from her in ultimate rejection -- when it never came I knew she really did like this juice. Phew!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007 

Late July Organic Mini Peanut Butter Crackers

I constantly find myself needing portable, convenient snacks that my kids can throw into their backpacks for midday fuel or in my pocketbook for those occasions when we find ourselves on the go.

Unfortunately, most of the convenient snack foods available, while skillfully packed in portable, easy to carry packages, often have little to no nutritional merit. These products rely heavily on sugar, unhealthy trans fats, artificial flavors and colors and of course, high fructose corn syrup. However, due to the lack of more healthful alternatives, I must (shamefully) confess that I have begrudgingly purchased a couple of these products for their mere convenience -- saying I’ve lost sleep over it is probably stretching the truth a bit, but I’m not particularly proud of it either.

I’m happy to say that I can temporarily shelve my maternal guilt – at least on this subject - since I recently found Late July Organic Mini Peanut Butter Crackers. While Late July mini crackers do look much like the ones in the quintessential red box that is where the similarities end. Late July’s mini crackers are certified USDA organic, ensuring its utmost quality. There is nothing artificial about these little cuties – made with organic whole wheat flour and organically grown peanuts (among other good stuff). My kids love the buttery taste and fresh, all-natural peanut flavor – in fact, they prefer the flavor of Late July to any other peanut butter cracker. Late July gives me the convenience without forcing me to sacrifice quality or my children’s good health. Late July also comes in organic cheddar cheese mini crackers and large boxes as well as these portable packs.

Bionaturae Organic Whole Wheat Pasta

Looking for a delicious, fiber-rich summer treat? Bionaturae Organic Whole Wheat Pasta boasts 6 grams of dietary fiber and only 1.5 grams of fat. This whole wheat pasta has a light, nutty flavor--not a heavy cardboard taste like other whole wheat varieties, and it makes a fabulous pasta salad. Toss it with your favorite veggies and a bit of olive oil, and you'll have a summery meal or side dish that tastes great and is heart-healthy.

Try it now: Bionaturae Whole Wheat Pasta

Monday, June 04, 2007 

Glenny’s 100 Calorie Brownie

A quick walk down the snack food aisle of your local grocery store tells you that “100 calorie” is the latest buzz phrase in the marketing world. Obviously it has been designed for those of us interested in controlling our portion size in an effort to monitor caloric intake but unwilling to abandon our sugary addictions. Unless you are like me (and neurotically read nutritional labels), you probably have not noticed that many of these “sensible snacks” -- while low in calories -- are still chock full of unhealthy oils, high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients – not to mention many of these marketers are charging more for the privilege of eating less.

Given my skepticism regarding these 100 calorie snacks, I held out very little hope for an item I found on my last trip to the grocery store -- Glenny’s 100 Calorie Brownie (found in the health food section). It is a single serve brownie that comes in two flavors, Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip – I tried the Chocolate Chip. When I opened the wrapper I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent sized brownie that actually looked like it could have been homemade. The first bite was exactly what you might expect from a brownie – sweet, chocolatey and slightly chewy. It had a pleasant rich chocolate flavor and I could imagine putting a scoop of frozen yogurt on top for a relatively guilt-free dessert. My husband (who is extremely critical on matters of “healthy” alternatives – it took me years to convince him whole grain pasta was better for him) agreed that aside from a slightly acidic flavor (might be due to the addition of lemon juice) was pleasant overall and he would willingly “eat it again” – might not seem like high praise to you, but YOU don’t know my husband.

In addition to its pleasant taste, unlike those other 100 calorie products, Glenny’s Brownie is made with organic cocoa, chocolate chips, sugar and butter and is all natural and contains a whopping 7 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per serving.

Sunny Seed Drops Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds

Sunny Seed Drops are chocolate-covered sunflower nuts with an all-natural colorful coating. These chocolatey treats come in a 3 oz-sized package that's perfect to throw in a purse, lunch box, or backpack for a quick, nutritious treat.

And nutritious they are! These seeds are sodium free and contain 3 grams of protein per serving--plus, you'll reap all the benefits of sunflower seeds such as vitamin E, folate, iron, manganese, selenium, vitamin B6, and zinc in a delicious way. This is a great snack for heart patients, those on low sodium diets, and just plain chocolate lovers.

Try them now: Sunny Seed Drops

Papadini Gluten Free Lentil Pasta

Papadini Lentil Bean Pasta is a great product for celiacs. This gluten and wheat free pasta is an excellent source of protein and iron. It provides folic acid and soluble fiber and has a deliciously nutty flavor that works well with any sauce.

Manufacturer says: Papadini, the lentil bean pasta, is a revolutionary new source of nutrition, so unique that it has been awarded a U.S. patent. This delicious high protein lentil flour pasta is made from beans, providing significant amounts of protein, complex carbohydrates, and soluble fiber (and of course, protein from beans contains no cholesterol or saturated fat.) Provides 13 grams of protein per serving. You'll find that Papadini pasta has the same al dente texture and mild nutty flavor as semolina pasta.

Try it now: Papadini Lentil Pasta

Saturday, June 02, 2007 

Fruitabu Organic Smooshed Fruit Twirl

I couldn’t contain my excitement when a friend recently told me about a new product offering, Organic Smooshed Fruit Twirl, by FruitaBu (you might be more familiar with their parent company Stretch Island Fruit Company). After a three week long search, I finally scored my first box at my local supermarket and excitedly brought it home to try it out on my kids.

Some of you might be wondering (and a little frightened too) why I am so excited about what is commonly known among the school cafeteria set as a “fruit roll-up.” However, if you’re a Mom like me and you have kids that consider fruit snacks a lunchbox staple, you have tirelessly pored over the nutritional labels of every bright colored, character-ridden box of fruit snacks and fruit roll-ups in the hopes of finding one box, just one, that does not contain a ton of sugar, high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors and colors (do you know a fruit that is naturally neon green?) as well as other unnatural ingredients.

While Fruitabu has made fruit leathers for sometime, what makes Fruitabu Fruit Twirl so fun and unique is that it is a long, thin strip of dried fruit puree, pressed onto a piece of waxed paper and all rolled up in a portable package – similar in design to many of the popular, sugar-laden brands kids are consistently clamoring for. However, unlike those brands, Fruitabu is made with organic fruit purees and organic fruit juices, with no added sugar or artificial anything. Also, it is considered one serving of real fruit at only 80 calories a serving. Fruitabu Fruit Twirl is available in three flavors, Smooshed Strawberry, Smooshed Apple, and Smooshed Grape. My kids have tried two of the three flavors and have enjoyed each so much they have stopped asking for that other stuff.

Now do you understand why I’m so thrilled I can put something in my kid’s lunchbox I and they could feel good about and that will help my kids eat more fruit?


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