Tag Archives: food

Think Thin Bars…think again

Happy Friday,

Snack bars, especially ones marketed as healthy, are hard to resist.  Super convenient, easy to bring anywhere and don’t go bad for months.  Seems like a no-brainer.  C’mon, every body’s doing it.  So why shouldn’t you?

This post is not about why you should avoid all snack bar products.  That is extreme and there are some decent ones on the market.  This post is about one brand of bars, the Think Thin protein bars.  With a great brand name and terrific marketing plastered on the bars’ wrappers exuding the health benefits of their protein bars, how could you not be tempted to try Think Thin?  “Gluten-free, 0 sugar, low glycemic” – sounds good, right?

I became a loyal customer to their brownie crunch and chunky peanut butter bars years ago and I must say I fell hard for them.  The bars became a daily staple in my diet.  I may have had even more than 1 bar some days.  They tasted good and had high protein without carb overload.  But, these convenient protein snacks were not doing me any favors.  It took months for me to figure out that the bars were actually causing my body harm as the ingredients were not healthful or beneficial for me.  All I had to do was read the long list of ingredients to understand why I was not feeling as good as I usually did.

Let’s have a look at the Brownie Crunch Think Thin protein bar.  To begin, Think Thin does not make it simple for you to locate the ingredients online.  Go ahead – take a look at their product details page on their website.  Can you find the list of ingredients?  I found the nutrition panel, but no ingredients.  Here’s a screenshot of what you will see on the company’s website.

Brownie Crunch

And here is something I find very deceiving.  I clicked on “Learn More” as I thought this is where I could locate the ingredient list of the brownie crunch bar.  This is what I found:

learn more

learn more 2

Let’s go through their list.  High protein – yes, there is 20 grams of protein per bar, but let’s look at the source.  You can find the ingredients listed on a bar.  The protein comes from soy.  Overly processed, most likely genetically modified soy.  You will actually find the word “soy” listed in the ingredients 4 times!  Go ahead – count for yourself.

brownie crunch ingredients

Let’s move on to the 2nd item listed under “Learn More” about the brownie crunch bar – No Refined Sugar.  What you find in this bar is REFINED SUGAR ALCOHOLS, so technically not refined sugar.  The maltitol, which is listed twice in the ingredients, and glycerin are both sugar alcohols that are known to cause digestive upset.  Maltitol, which is a very common highly processed sugar alcohol used in sugar free foods, is mostly derived from corn.  Another big genetically modified crop.

Next is Gluten-Free.  Fine, the product is gluten-free, but that does not mean healthy.  Please understand what gluten is and gluten-free foods can be very unhealthy.  Potato chips and many ice creams are gluten-free.

Good Source of Fiber.  The brownie crunch bar has 2 grams of fiber.  That does not qualify as a good source of fiber for a 230 calorie snack.

Non-GMO Ingredients.  Please read this closely because the brownie crunch bar does contain genetically modified ingredients.  You will notice the company has listed they strive to source Non-GMO ingredients and only their Crunch Mixed Nut Bars do not contain genetically modified ingredients!  Ha!  They rely on us consumers being too busy and rushed to read the fine print.

Low Glycemic Index.  These bars have 25 grams of carbohydrates and only 2 grams of fiber.  It’s decent, but not great.

Dairy Free.  Well, brownie crunch bars are not dairy free as they contain milk fat and casein.  Here’s some information about casein: most allergic reactions to milk and cheese are because of casein.  When casein is broken down by the body, the peptide that it is broken down into acts as a histamine releaser.  This has been shown to aggravate autism symptoms.

Vegan.  Same as above – the brownie crunch and all their protein bars contain several animal-based ingredients.

This business practice of trying to fool the consumer is something that truly gets to me.  Think Thin did fool me once, but never again.

Let’s take another look at that ingredient list:

brownie crunch ingredients

There are 3 ingredients listed above that I believe are healthy and can be within a “healthy” snack product.  Those are water, almonds and sea salt.  All the other ingredients demonstrate how overly processed and fake this product is.  Natural flavors, which is listed twice, is a big no-no as it can be ANYTHING.  No joke – here is the definition of natural flavors by the FDA:

natural flavors

So yes, it can be anything.  Including monosodium glutamate (MSG).

I am not going to go through each ingredient and tell you my thoughts, as I know you are smart enough to see these Think Thin protein bars clearly for what they are.  But, here is a former post about another brand of snack bars where I do go through each ingredient.  Not surprisingly, you will see a ton of overlap in ingredients.

Read Your Ingredients!

 

 

 

 

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Super Healthy and tastes like a chocolate shake protein drink – yes way!

As you may or may not know, I focus my diet on clean, pure and the most natural foods I can find that make me feel great.  How I feel is super important!  A few months back, I decided to begin incorporating a clean, hi-quality protein powder into my diet and I want to share with you my favorite and how I enjoy using this protein powder daily.  I tried a couple protein powders (all vegan) and compared the ingredients, how the ingredients were processed to produce the final product, how the protein powder made me feel, the amino acid profiles/content of each and (of course!) the taste.  I am very excited to share with you my favorite protein powder and my daily delicious protein drink!

And the winner is (dun dun dun dunnnnn)…SunWarrior warrior-blend protein powder in natural flavor.  You will see a photo of the large size bag below alongside the ingredients and utensils I use to make a delicious chocolate protein drink.

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This protein powder consists of pea, cranberry and hemp protein, along with medium chain triglycerides.  Yep, those are all the ingredients and I love it – simple pure ingredients.  If you are unfamiliar with medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), allow me to let you in on some information about them.  Research has shown that MCTs help with digestibility and I can definitely attest to this.  MCTs are one of the reasons I love using cold-pressed EV coconut oil (organic, of course) in many of my cooked foods.  I can definitely feel the difference when I am not consuming MCTs in a meal.

Back to the protein powder…the consistency of the Sunwarrior warrior blend in natural is not at all chalky, like many rice based protein powders.  In fact, one of the other protein powders I tried was SunWarrior’s brown rice based protein blend.  Although I did not dislike the rice based blend initially, after I had the warrior blend, there was no comparing the 2.  The warrior blend blew the rice based blend away!  When trying both alongside one another, the rice based blend definitely revealed a chalkiness that does not exist with the warrior blend.  And I felt more awake and upbeat after consuming the warrior blend in comparison. I believe this may have to do with the MCTs (wink, wink), which you will not find in the rice based blend.  Check out the profile of my fav protein powder below:

  • Contains all essential amino acids in a complete, balanced profile
  • One of the best protein powders for any lifestyle, not just vegan or vegetarian
  • Free of solvents, GMOs, radiation, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, or artificial colors
  • Contains no animal products, dairy, egg, gluten, soy, added sugar, wheat, or yeast
  • Great source of energy
  • No cholesterol
  • Heart healthy
  • Increases metabolism to burn fat while building muscle
  • Easy to digest and creates a feeling of satiety (fullness)
  • Promotes healthy kidney and liver functions
  • A green, hypoallergenic food
  • Improves mental clarity
  • Helps relieve candida

How can you not love that???  Anyway, let’s get to the good stuff.  Here is my recipe for a delicious chocolate (cacao) protein drink I know I will have everyday because it tastes so darn good!

What you will need:

– Sunwarrior warrior blend protein powder in natural (amazon.com $38.11 for large bag)

– Raw Cacao powder (you can also use unsweetened cocoa powder)

– Unsweetened Almond milk (please avoid carrageenan when purchasing – you’re safe with 365 brand)

– Stevia (I use Nunaturals alcohol-free liquid stevia which you can find at iherb.com/amazon – I also love   Stevita Stevia which you can find on amazon)

– Filtered water

– Blender

– optional: Gotu Kola – I love this herb because it helps with circulation (available at iherb.com)

– optional: hemp protein powder – I tried a few hemp protein powders and I love the nutty flavor they add, so sometimes I will add if I’d like to increase the protein in the drink or just feel like adding a little nuttiness to my day

Directions:

– add 8oz almond milk to blender, 2.5 tbsp raw cacao powder, 1 scoop (21g) SunWarrior warrior blend protein powder, 4 droppers full of liquid stevia, 16oz filtered, or boiling water (I enjoy using boiling water as the drink reminds me of a hot chocolate)

– if you would like to add gotu kola, add 30 drops or less (that the maximum amount I will have daily)

– if you would like to add hemp protein powder, I love Manitoba Harvest HEMP PRO 50, which also has Omega 3, 6 and 9!  Serving size is 4 tbsp, but I add 2 tbsp since I am combing with another protein powder.  Hemp protein is very easy to digest – huge plus.

– now Blend!!!!!  If you like frothiness, blend longer, otherwise, 30 seconds will do just fine.

– …and enjoy!

IMG_1230

Because I understand I how important nutrition is, I have included below the nutritional breakdown of this chocolate protein drink with and without the hemp.

Without Hemp:

182 calories, 5.7g fat, 1g sat. fat, 190mg sodium, 190mg potassium, 12g carbs, 5.2g fiber, 21g protein

With Hemp:

242 calories, 7.45g fat, 1g sat. fat, 190mg sodium, 190mg potassium, 16g carbs, 8.7g fiber, 0.5g sugar, 28.5g protein

So for any plant-based diet haters who always say, “you can’t get enough protein without meat” I say check out this protein drink.  That’s what I thought…

I would love to hear about your experiences with protein powders (not just vegan ones) and recipes that you have incorporated into your diet!  Please share in the comments below.  And if you do try this recipe, let me know how much you loved it…if you live in a cold climate, or if you’re office is just cold, try placing this drink in a thermos and sipping on it all day.  I bet you it will not last all day…as it is that good!

-RealFoodsLady

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My background in food, nutrition and health

In February 2007, my health began to decline.  You may ask, “Well, where was your health at this point?”  Great question.  I was a young 20-something with a constant flow of energy who ate anything she wanted and never got sick.  My health allowed me to play many sports and pull all nighters without the use of caffeine or stimulants when necessary (I was a procrastinator and would leave term papers until the very end).  This is where my health was the beginning of 2007.

So my taken-for-granted health began it’s decline in February 2007.  My health continued this downward spiral almost taking my life.  No doctor could save me.  I saw over 26 doctors, including specialists in infectious disease, rheumatoid arthritis, neurology, dermatology, endocrinology , acupuncture, chiropractic medicine and integrative internal medicine.  I saw these specialists and more in a 2 year period that spanned several states, and not one of them could pinpoint what was going on.  They all agreed something was wrong and that it was only worsening with various pill treatments, and various therapies did not seem to help.  During this time I lost most of my friends, became distant from my family as I was unable to communicate what was going on, mainly due to embarrassment.  I lost my ability to keep up with any of my hobbies, sports and exercise.

I was in denial of my illness for quite sometime.  I continued working until I no longer could trust that my legs would not give out from under me without warning, or that my mind would not go “black” and within a few seconds I would no longer recognize where I was or what I was doing.  I would act like I was extremely busy to friends and family so they wouldn’t judge me perhaps thinking I was a hypochondriac.  I would then wonder to myself, “Am I crazy?  Is this all mental?  Am I imaging the layers of skin peeling from my body and my piercing blue lips in the mirror?”

I would go from being so cold trying to hide my  blue lips and piling on mounds of winter clothing in 80 degree temperatures, and then later that day being so hot that filling my bathtub with ice and lying in it seemed like the only way to cool down.  There were times when I would begin to stand up after being seated and fall right to the floor as my legs gave out.  There were periods of blackness where my eyesight would fade to a blackish-grey color not allowing me to see.  Every moment of my life was filled with pain and uncertainty.

During these trying times I gave everything I had to stay positive.  I decided I would stop pounding on doctors doors for answers only to leave their offices in tears of frustration.  I would turn to myself and my body for answers.  I would devote every morsel of energy I had to change the path my health was on.

I spent most of my time researching how to fix the multitude of problems I was experiencing that were leaving my body and mind crippled.   After 3 years of research, trial and error experimentation with alternative therapies/treatments and a complete diet adjustment, I was seeing great results.  I am a true believer that food is your lifeblood.  If we feed our bodies garbage, this will filter through all our bodily systems and wreak havoc upon our bodies and minds, eventually bringing us to our demise.

Learning the inner workings of how the human body digests and utilizes food, along with nutritional knowledge of foods, herbs and spices, has given me the ability to heal myself.  This knowledge is something so powerful, important and vital to each and every one of us; I want to share it to make everyone aware they can take their health into their own hands.

Over the last 3 years, I have coached dozens of people to understanding how food affects their health.  I have helped those looking to lose weight, diabetics, people with food allergies and people who just do not feel right.  These people have been able to take this information to achieve the best (happiest, healthiest) person they can be.  This coaching has allowed me to help many people.  But I want to help more.  I want the average American to know about the intertwining of food and health.  I want everyone to know a healthy breakfast is not Starbucks oatmeal, a bagel with cream cheese, an english muffin with peanut butter or pop tarts.  I want everyone to know that a bagel with cream cheese will impact how well he/she will function throughout the day and there is a domino-like effect of bad food choices.

In trying to help as many people as possible, I asked myself, “What is one of the worst foods the average person eats regularly?”  My answer: desserts.  Many people love their desserts.  Whether the dessert is the flour-less chocolate cake after dinner, the blueberry muffin at Starbucks with the 2pm pick-me-up or the fruit snack snagged from the vending machine, these foods are all less than ideal for you!

That is when I hit the kitchen and began experimenting with real foods to create real desserts.  I use only the purest ingredients, meaning no artificial anything, no preservatives, no fillers, no additives, no genetically modified foods (GMOs), no ingredients containing MSG and I use organic whenever possible.  During my research, testing and experience, I have noticed that many people feel much better without dairy in their diets.  Therefore, you will not find dairy in any of the desserts I bake.  I do not use any animal products or by-products in my baking, so no eggs, cheese, butter, gelatin, honey, etc.

Through research, my personal experience and clients’ experiences I have realized sugar is a food to steer clear of.  Yes, even unrefined, unprocessed, all natural sugar.  This includes agave nectar, honey, molasses, unrefined cane sugar, brown rice syrup and pure maple syrup.  Of course, you will have sugars present in your diet, but my concern is with eliminating sugars from the dessert portion of the diet.  This also includes all artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols and food additives, such as maltodextrin (Stevia in the Raw) and dextrose (PureVia) .   All of these artificial sweeteners are commonly used to sweeten sugar-free foods or no sugar-added foods.  Sugar alcohols, such as maltitol, sorbitol, erythritol (Truvia) and xylitol cause gastrointestinal distress with cramping, diarrhea and flatulence.  Food additives such as maltodextrin and dextrose are derived via partial hydrolysis from starch (corn) and are absorbed as rapidly as glucose.  Since none of these are appealing to me and I stick to the “pure” ingredient guideline, I do not use any of these in my baking.

My journey to find the most pure ingredients to use in my baking has taken me to local farms, farmers markets and to the Natural Products Expo in Baltimore.  Yes, I have developed many recipes and baked goods that I am very content with, but I continue to research the latest health/nutritional developments so I may incorporate my findings into my recipes.  My goal is to deliver a variety of delicious healthy muffins that will make you feel great and not feel a moment of guilt afterwards (well, unless you eat a dozen muffins in a sitting…).

RealFoodsLady

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Have you been able to find the perfect dessert?

The reason I ask you to think about your perfect dessert is because this may not be something you have ever thought about.   No seriously.  You may never have COMPLETELY thought about your ideal dessert in its entirety.  I’m talking about including not only the taste and other sensory aspects, but also the nutritional components.  You may never have idealized this food because it simply does not exist.  For example, there is not a gooey, chocolatey, crunchy, no sugar, decent amount of fiber and protein, artificial and preservative-free, not going to widen my waistline dessert which is made from pure unadulterated ingredients.   Look around bakeries and grocery stores – the only sugar free items are filled with artificial sweeteners, or (my favorite) the “natural” sugar alcohols that cramp your digestive tract and send you running to the bathroom.  Perhaps this is why you have never mentally created your perfect treat – because it is simply not possible.

Well after 10 years of searching out an ideal dessert for myself that I could indulge in without feeling guilty afterwards (or feeling sick), I was beyond fed up.  Don’t get me wrong, I love having fruit as a snack.  But fruit does not fulfill this craving I speak of.  At this point in my life (about  2 years ago), I had enough motivation and drive behind me to begin my journey into producing my ideal dessert.

Obviously what I want is going to be different from the next Suzie-Q.  But see, I have several food intolerances therefore, if I make a dessert that is great and I am able to eat, most likely you will be able to enjoy it as well.

My tall order was as such: real food ingredients, nothing artificial, preservative-free, dairy-free, egg-free, 2 grams of sugar or less per item, no sugar alcohols, no additives, non-GMO ingredients, no animal products or by-products.  When I was able to produce delicious muffins, cookies, cakes and cupcakes that fit these guidelines, I challenged myself to including desserts that were gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free and raw.

This feat was accomplished over the last 2 years through diligent research of health and medical journals, cooking and baking books, trial and error experimentation and taste-testing groups.  I am very pleased that I am able to produce these fantastic, healthy  and nutritious desserts!  Just because it doesn’t exist does not mean it cannot exist.  You can either hope and dream that one day you will be able to enjoy what you really want, or you can accept the challenge and dive in.

After my success, I wanted to share what I thought to be truly unbelievable treats!  I began giving friends, family and colleagues desserts as gifts.  One thing led to another and soon enough I was receiving requests for various desserts.  These desserts are particularly perfect for diabetics.  The sweetener I use is the stevia plant.  Unlike Truvia, Stevia in the Raw and many other stevia-blended sweeteners, the stevia extract I use has no additives or artificial ingredients.  There is no MSG – yep I said MSG, but that is a topic for another post.  You see, during the processing of many food products MSG is added along the line.  Well, not in my food.

So I will leave you with this question – what is your ideal dessert?  Please let me know!

Real Foods Lady

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