Minute Maid Fruit Falls
Fooled again! Recently I feel in love with Minute Maid Fruit Falls Water Beverage not only because it was a convenient and tasty way to get my kids to drink more water but unlike the other fruit flavored water beverages found in the juice aisle it does not contain high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavorings. In fact, the front of the 10-pouch box states it is "made with pure filtered water and a splash of real fruit juice." However, on closer examination I noticed two "minor" details that put questionable doubt in my mind about continuing to give this product to my kids. Now the nutritional detective work begins -- firstly, upon closer examination I noticed that the phrase "made with pure filtered water and a splash of real fruit juice" was followed by two small asterisks (**) -- should of been my first clue when I initially picked up the box at the supermarket! These asterisks lead me to a disclaimer that I had to hunt for and eventually found on the side of the box. This disclaimer stated Minute Maid Fruit Falls is made with a blend of juices from concentrate (OK, but still better than high fructose corn syrup, right?) and other ingredients (other ingredients, what other ingredients?!). The other ingredients comment brought me back to the nutritional contents (which I thought I had closely read in the store, what an idiot!). Upon closer scrutiny I uncovered the word "sucralose" as one of the last ingredients listed. For those of you unfamiliar with this word, it is the same chemical component the artificial sweetener Splenda is made from. While I know the scientific jury is still out regarding the potential risks of sucralose, I feel as a parent I don't want to play the odds and risk endangering my children's future health by giving them a test tube substance like Splenda. What I can't seem to figure out is why it is so difficult to produce a flavored water for kids without all of the unnecessary additions -- if I can mix up an combination of water and fruit juice at home, why can't a major manufacturer package this same all-natural combination in a convenient to carry pouch or juice box? Once again -- it's up to you to do the nutritional detective work. Even when you think you've read the label -- READ IT AGAIN!
Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame
There is a green salad present on our dinner table almost every night of the week. To maintain my family's interest of this bowl of healthy, vitamin and mineral-rich greens I've learned to spice things up a bit by adding unexpected surprises to our nightly salad. While my kids would probably love to see M&M's sprinkled on their salads, I've kept these additions to the healthful nature, using things like pumpkins seeds, fresh and dried fruit, beans, cheese and unexpected veggies. While these wholesome add-ons have helped to get the salad from bowl to plate (M&M's would of probably gotten by kids eating right from the bowl) it was not until the recent discovery of Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame that got my family reaching for second helpings of salad. For those of us still in the dark about edamame, edamame are soybeans that are frequently flavored with seasalt or other types of spices for added flavor. Soybeans are exceptionally high in protein and may also help to lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease. Anyway, we tried Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame in Wasabi flavor. Everyone thought the roasted edamame worked really well in the salad, adding an unexpected burst of crunchy, spicy flavor against the relative mildness of the greens. Aside from the flavor, I was thrilled to find an ingredient that boosted the healthfulness of our everyday salad. I think I'll next try it sprinkled into soup or maybe a stir-fry, or how about trail mix...
Better'n Peanut Butter
My family eats A LOT of peanut butter -- peanut butter and banana sandwiches, peanut butter on our pancakes & waffles, peanut butter on our morning toast, peanut butter smoothies, pretzels dipped in peanut butter and my son's personal favorite, "ants on a branch" (peanut butter on celery with raisins). I honestly could go on but I fear I'm already sounding like the shrimp obsessed character, Bubba, from the film Forrest Gump. Anyway, you name it, we've probably tried it with peanut butter. Of course I applaud my family's love of peanut butter given it's reputation for being a good source of energy, protein and fiber as well as being high in niacin (helps to raise good cholesterol) and Vitamin E. However, while it is low in unhealthy saturated fat it is still relatively high in fat and calories (16 grams of fat and 160 calories in 2 tablespoons serving) -- raising my concern of our over consumption.
When I first read about Better'n Peanut Butter I thought I finally found a way to marry the many healthy benefits of peanut butter with my desire to maintain a low fat, low calorie lifestyle. Better'n Peanut Butter promotes itself as an all natural, low fat and low calorie (85% less fat and 40% less calories than regular peanut butter) alternative to other commercial peanut butter brands. According to it's label, their source of peanuts is a combination of naturally defatted peanut flour and natural peanut butter. However, unlike the natural peanut butter my family enjoys (made from peanuts and salt), Better'n Peanut Butter also contains a lot of other ingredients, including tapioca syrup, dehydrated cane juice and rice syrup. When you first open the jar, this peanut butter looks and smells like any other, however, that is where the similarity ends. I think as the result of the syrups and cane juice, this peanut butter is disgustingly sweet tasting. And while it is made of all natural ingredients it leaves a bizarrely artificial taste that seems to linger on the tongue. Given my desire to reduce calories and fat from my family's diet, I truly tried to find a way to incorporate this brand of peanut butter into our life's and seemed to fail with each attempt. I finally came to the conclusion that it is pointless to mess with peanut butter's creamy and nutty perfection and I would have to learn to moderate our consumption of the irreplaceable real stuff.
Tofutti Mintz's Blintzes
If you are looking to liven up breakfast or want a convenient addition to your next brunch menu you must try the Tofutti brand of pre-baked blintzes called Mintz's Blintzes. Mintz's Blintzes are sincerely delicious crepes that are filled with the Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese filling -- making them instantly dairy free, cholesterol free, and they contain no butterfat like most blintzes. These blintzes are sooooo good that my father, a self-proclaimed "meat and potatoes man" found them extremely delicious (although, I must admit I did not reveal the "secret" ingredient until after he tried and enjoyed one). Each tasty blintz has 90 calories, 4 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein. They are especially delicious when served with a warmed fruit compote -- blueberries are my preferred fruit at the moment. Everyone will enjoy eating these cheese filled beauties -- for those of us who like the taste and health benefits of tofu, Mintz's Blintzes are a tasty, all-natural, guilt-free treat and for everyone else -- what they don't know, won't hurt them!
All-natural, gluten and dairy free -- come on, how good could this chocolate bar be?!! VERY!!! Nana's Temptations Chocolate Confection Bar is more like a super fudgey and delicious brownie than a traditional chocolate bar. While over the last couple of years more and more products have come on the market that are gluten-free, it is still a welcome surprise when one tastes as good as Nana's Temptations. To add to their appeal, not only are Nana's Temptations ideal for anyone with a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, but Nana's also does not contain dairy, are made with only all-natural ingredients and have no added sugar -- these tasty treats are fruit juiced sweetened. For a midday snack, Nana's may be a bit high in calories at 170, but compared to the calories in a piece of cake or a handful of cookies, Nana's makes for a relatively low calorie dessert option.
Ingredients: (vegan) tapioca flour, fruit juice, rece dextrin, semi sweet chocolate chips, coconut oil, imported cocoa, coconut, non alunimun baking soda, natural flavors. One bar has 170 calories, 9g total fat.
Try Nana's Temptations Now
Soy Joy Mango Coconut Bar
By now most of us have seen the SoyJoy commercial -- the smart, sassy young woman video blogging the greatness of the SoyJoy bar. Given her pitch as well as the fact SoyJoy is an all-natural treat with the healthful benefits of soy I was intrigued to give it a try.
Recently, I had an opportunity to try SoyJoy Mango Coconut and let's just say -- I was not at all impressed and quite frankly kind of let down. Sure, SoyJoy looks promising when you read the short list of healthy ingredients as well as when you first remove the wrapper. In fact, the bar looks quite delicious -- like a homemade biscotti bursting with dried fruit. Unfortunately, the taste does not at all deliver relative to it's appearance. The bar lacked a standout flavor and the overall texture was somewhat unpleasant. Probably due to the inclusion of soybean powder, the bar left a pastiness in the mouth, which continued to linger on the tongue even after the bar was long gone. I will not purchase this product again, it did not live up to it's promise.
Bella Cucina Artichoke Pesto
Bella Cucina Artful Food makes a delicious assortment of all natural pesto -- my personal favorite is it's Artichoke Pesto. Bella Cucina Artichoke Pesto is a fresh and pleasant combination of artichokes, oil, lemon juice, parmesan cheese and garlic. With summer now here I find myself using this pesto more and more -- as a dip (recipe right on the jar), as a simple pasta flavoring and my most recent discovery, as an accompaniment to grilled shrimp and feta fajitas -- YUMMY! Aside from it's diversity of uses, what I especially love about this line of pesto, is that you don't sacrifice taste and quality that you are normally guaranteed when making pesto from scratch -- and boy, is this much easier!
All you need to do is take a stroll through your local supermarket or health food store to discover that pomegranate has become the rising star of health foods. Pomegranates are high in Vitamin C, calcium and potassium and are a great source of fiber and antioxidants.
While much of the attention has been placed on pomegranate juice, other pomegranate products are beginning to emerge -- like Just Pomegranate. Just Pomegranate are freeze-dried pomegranate seeds that are full of sweet, delicious flavor and offer all of the same health benefits found in the juice. Just Pomegranate makes it easy to get the health benefits of the fruit in just about anything -- sprinkled into yogurt, cereal, fruit salad or even ice cream. It makes a great addition to many baked goods, especially blending nicely with lemon-based cakes and muffins (hint: someone recommended soaking the dried seeds in lemon juice before adding to a recipe). In fact, the flavor is so appealing my son likes to eat Just Pomegranate straight out of the container, describing it as "pomegranate candy."
Wild Garden Hummus Dip
Summertime is chips and dip weather. However, for those of us already feeling squeamish about putting on a swimsuit, the idea of eating greasy, fat-laden potato chips and high calorie dip sends us running for the nearest cover-up while praying for winter's speedy arrival. If you are like me and want to enjoy the summer, yet don't want to give up having a little something crunchy and creamy, I've found Wild Garden Hummus Dip to be the perfect, guilt-free solution. Wild Garden Hummus is a delicious, all natural chickpea bean dip that tastes great served with veggies, low-fat crackers or even pretzels and baked potato chips. For a satisfying, high protein and low fat lunch I also like to spread it on multi-grain bread with mixed salad greens and tomato.
Ingredients: water, chickpeas, sesame paste, sea salt, spices, citric acid.
35 calories, 2 grams fat per 2 tablespoons serving