Tag Archives: no sugar alcohols

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!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A look at Protein Bars, particularly IsaLean bars

Good Evening!

My wonderful brother has a friend who wanted my take on a particular brand of protein bars him and his wife have been purchasing.  These are IsaLean bars.  I had never heard of them, but the name alone suggested to me that these bars would be filled with highly processed ingredients.   Let’s have a look at what I discovered.

Here is the ingredient label of the IsaLean Bar in Natural Oatmeal Raisin flavor

IsaLean Natural Oatmeal Raisin Bar

My initial thought was “wow, lots of ingredients”, but where are the natural ingredients?  Oh yes, there they are!  Out of the over 40 ingredients, 4 are perhaps natural in my book (raisins, rolled oats, water and cinnamon).  So red flag #1, less than 10% of ingredients are natural.  Yikes.

Among the listed ingredients, the ones that give me great pause are: tapioca starch, lecithin, brown rice syrup, maltitol, fractionated palm kernel oil, natural flavor, malitiol syrup, polydextrose, high oleic safflower oil, natural flavor (again) and maltodextrin.  Here are some of the problems I have with each.

Tapioca Starch – Extremely high glycemic index of 85.  To compare, sugar has a GI of 70.  No nutritional value.

Lecithin – the label doesn’t tell us what type of lecithin is used.  It can be soy, eggs, milk, marine sources, rapeseed, cottonseed, and sunflower.  Most of the time it is derived from genetically modified soybeans. So what is lecithin?  It is the generic term to designate any group of yellow-brownish fatty substances occurring in animal and plant tissues composed of phosphoric acid, choline, fatty acids, glycerol, glycolipids, triglycerides, and phospholipids (e.g., phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidylinositol).  It is used in the food industry as an emulsifier in packaged food products.  This is a highly processed ingredient that is genetically modified and most likely chemically extracted.  I will take a pass.  (I would be less concerned if this was non-GMO soy lecithin, or even if the type of lecithin used was listed)

Brown Rice Syrup – this is a sweetener I see all over the snack bar market.  I am not a fan at all.  This has a glycemic index of 100 and, unless specified, is typically derived from genetically modified brown rice.  Don’t let the words “brown rice” fool you into believing this is healthy.  It is made from whole grain rice treated with enzymes that break down natural starches into sugars.  It is a refined and concentrated sweetener that is often used as a substitute for high fructose corn syrup.

Maltitol – This is one of the many sugar alcohols used to make processed snacks and desserts “sugar-free”.  Consumption of maltitol and other sugar alcohols can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including a laxative like effect.  Maltitol is produced from starch mainly in corn or potatoes.  Definitely derived from GM food that is then highly processed into the final product.  My personal experience years ago with maltitol was an uncomfortable one.  I recall bloating and overall GI upset.

Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil – Let’s start with palm kernel oil, then we can touch on what fractionated palm kernel oil is.  It can’t be obtained organically. Instead, the oil must be extracted from the pit with a gasoline-like hydrocarbon solvent. In short, palm kernel oil is a cheap, unhealthy fat, which well-known Dr. Andrew Weil recommends avoiding products containing it.  Now what about the fractionated palm kernel oil?  Fractionation is a further phase of palm oil processing, designed to extract and concentrate specific fatty acid fractions. Fractionated palm oil, as found in food products, has a higher concentration of saturated fat than regular palm oil and is used for the convenience of manufacturers who like its stability and melting characteristics.

Natural Flavor – this additive makes me angry because it can mean pretty much anything!  The FDA Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 defines the term natural flavor as “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional”.  In all seriousness, this can be anything, including MSG.  Here’s an example of a natural flavor ingredient that will turn your stomach – it’s called castoreum and is an extract derived from the beavers’ anal glands.  Mmmmmmm.  Just think of all the creative ingredients that can be hiding under the “natural flavors” label.

Maltitol Syrup –  Read Maltitol above, then add a more processed and concentrated version of this sweetener, which contains 50-80% maltitol and most of the remainder is composed of sorbitol.  Sorbitol is another sugar alcohol that has well-documented cases of stomach upset and diarrhea in some individuals.  Perhaps this is why sorbitol has been linked to IBS.  The glycemic index of maltitol syrup is higher than maltitol, but just slightly below sugar.

Polydextrose – This is a multi-purpose food additive synthesized from dextrose (glucose), plus about 10 percent sorbitol and 1 percent citric acid. It is a soluble non-viscous manmade polymer that is only partially fermented by the gut microbiota.  Food companies use this additive to bulk up product and add fiber.  I always opt for natural fiber, which is abundant in vegetables, nuts and seeds.

High Oleic Safflower Oil – This is a highly processed oil that has taken the place of hydrogenated oil (trans fats) to keep food shelf-stable and preserve flavor since all the negative attention about trans fats.  Here’s a study documenting how high oleic safflower oil, compared to high linoleic safflower oil and coconut oil caused an increase in tumors in rats.  My guess is 10 years from now these high oleic oils may be on the list of “bad” ingredients.

Natural Flavor – Why is it listed twice?  Well, see it above.

Maltodextrin – This is a food additive produced from starch (usually of corn in US, but can be wheat) by partial hydrolysis and is usually found as a white hygroscopic spray-dried powder. Maltodextrin is easily digestible, being absorbed as rapidly as glucose, and might be either moderately sweet or almost flavorless making it perfect for processed food manufacturers.  This has a high glycemic index of 95 (sugar is 70).

So what should you do if you want a high protein snack on-the-go?  Here are some suggestions:

Pumpkin Seeds – these will provide you with the same amount of protein (18g) as the IsaLean Bar does (both are 60g), and much more natural nutritive values.  Not to mention, lower carb and sugar than the IsaLean bar.  And they’re delicious!

Almonds – not quite as much protein (13g compared to 18g in 60g serving size), but full of healthy fats and vitamins/minerals.  You can spice almonds up on your own by roasting using your favorite seasonings and spice.  Just watch out for overloading on the salt – 1/4 tsp contains a whopping 590mg of sodium!

And I’m going to give the Mind Your Muffin almond cave bite (paleo, gluten-free, vegan) a plug here as it is a great option for on-the-go snack/sweet treat filled with organic, all-natural fiber and protein!  Only 4g of carbs and no sugar (and of course nothing artificial or highly processed).   Simple healthful ingredients to give your body what it needs and nothing it doesn’t.  You never have to be without the perfect snack with our cave bite subscriptions where the bites will be delivered right to your door every month!  So perfect!

There are many many protein bars out there.  If you do one thing, read the ingredients and look for red flags.  Do your best to stay away from them.

If you have any protein bars or snack foods you would like me to take a look at for you, please ask!  I’m very busy running my healthy baked goods company, but will definitely give it a look for you.

Keep up your awareness,

Gina

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The most delicious and nutritious muffins EVER!

Apple Cinnamon Muffin

Apple Cinnamon Muffin

Unfortunately in our society today, the vast majority of Americans are plagued by food.  The overeating, the over processed foods, the lack of knowledge, the culture of celebrating all occasions with fatty, artificial and chemically processed desserts has led us to the grossly shocking statistic that 2/3 of America is either overweight or obese!  I have been fighting against these statistics advocating for a healthier population.

The problem I have encountered lies in the fact each of us can only do so much.  Whether it be tackling the day-to-day family requirements or being that key team player keeping your office together.  I have been helping people over the last 8 years learn about how the food you eat, or don’t eat, affects your health and well-being.  I have had terrific clients who have made great strides towards living healthier cleaner lives.  And what is truly amazing is watching my clients teach others – I love this domino effect!  I’ve been at client’s homes and seen first-hand their children choosing healthier snacks because the children see how mommy and daddy snack and emulate those habits.  So instead of the child reaching for an ice cream bar as a treat, they reach for sliced apples or a homemade all-natural nut bar (that I taught mommy how to make).

So getting back to how I plan on helping more people.  Obviously teaching people on an individual basis is great, but also limits how many people I can help because there is only so much time in a day.  I have spoken at meetings on nutrition and food where there are 40-50 people.  Then I am able to reach more people, but the results aren’t as great as with one-on-one coaching.  What to do…what to do…If only I could be in more places at the same time.

The more and more I thought about this, I continued circling the idea of a super healthy food product that would be very convenient for people.  I am sure you see people everyday eating different bars – protein bars, low carb bars, diet bars, gluten-free bars, etc. (you may be one of them)  I have personally searched high and low for a bar that met my healthy bar requirement and came up with zilch.  You’re probably thinking this is impossible because there are hundreds of bars available.  Yes, there are and I am surprised as well.  The reason I haven’t found a bar suitable for myself is I set the bar very high.  My framework for a “healthy” bar or snack food is listed below.  You may want to sit down before reading this list.

*only use the most pure, least amount of processed ingredients – REAL food ingredients!

*use organic ingredients whenever possible

*no preservatives, no artificial ingredients, no additives, no fillers, no genetically modified foods (GMOs)

*no trans-fats

*under 1 gram of sugar WITHOUT the use of sugar alcohols  (sorbitol, erythritol, xylitol, maltitol) or fructo-polysaccharides, such as inulin and FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides).  When I first personally experimented with sugar-free products I tried each of the above alternative sweeteners as they were listed as being natural.  Each and every one of these gave me cramping, major bloating, flatulence and a laxative-like effect.  Also, I do not find it natural to extract one component of a food found in nature and then mass produce that component into a concentrated form, one which was never intended by nature to be consumed in such a concentrated manner.

*low carb and low glycemic index, meaning under 15 net grams of carbohydrates

*high fiber, meaning more than 4 grams of fiber

*high protein, meaning more than 3 grams of protein

*under 195 calories

*no use of animal-products (no dairy, no eggs, no casein, no gelatin, vegan)

*soy-free

*free of MSG

*kosher

*are easily accessible as a grab ‘n’ go convenience food (available to anyone within the 48 contiguous States)

*make you feel good after consuming because there are actual NUTRIENTS in the food that have not been processed out, including healthy Omega 3’s

Now you see why I cannot find a bar that fits my guideline of “healthy”.  So I placed the challenge on myself.  Come up with a food product that meets all my expectations of a pure healthy food.  As I looked at the above framework, I knew I had my work cut out.  I hit the kitchen and after 2 years of baking, food experimentation, recipe development and taste-testing I have come up with a product that fits!  I have developed a line of muffins under the name Mind Your Muffin that are so delicious even kids love them.

Below are a couple frequently asked questions and my answers.  Please feel free to ask other questions!

Q: How are these muffins convenient?  Wouldn’t you have to purchase these muffins freshly made and because there are no preservatives, wouldn’t they only last a few days?

A: These muffins will only last a few days (5-7) stored in an airtight container at room temperature.  However, if you freeze them they will last up to 9 months.  Yes, I have tested these muffins and they have lasted 9 months in the freezer.  The muffins are individually wrapped and as long as they are kept individually wrapped in a freezer safe bag or wrap, you can grab a muffin from the freezer and 2-3 hours later it will be ready to eat.  For those of us who can’t wait 2-3 hours for thawing time, you may place the muffin in a toaster oven (about 3 mins at 350 degrees) or microwave (30-60 seconds on high).

Q: Where can I purchase these muffins?  Are they available in my grocer’s freezer?

A: These muffins are available to be purchased directly from me.  You can send a comment below to order or email me at mindyourmuffin@gmail.com.  The muffins are $3.75 each or a dozen for $40.  The muffins will be shipped to you the day they are made.  To keep muffins fresh and keep shipping costs as low as possible, I use USPS 2 day shipping.  The cost is approximately $11 per dozen and the muffins arrive in a box individually wrapped and kept in place by a muffin holder.  This ensures the muffins will  not move much during the shipping process.

Q: What flavors are available?

A: Apple Cinnamon, Pumpkin Spice, Lemon Poppy and Gingerbread.

Q: Is there a website available with nutrition information and ingredients?

A: MindYourMuffin.com is currently under construction, but will soon allow you to order directly online and browse ingredients and nutrition information.

Q: I noticed your muffins are not gluten free.  Do you make gluten free products?

A: Currently we do not sell gluten free products.  However, these muffins have a very low gluten content so some people who have an intolerance (not allergy or celiac) can still enjoy these muffins!  Although I have made and approved several gluten free products, these are currently not available for sale due to higher cost.  The gluten free line may be made available for purchase in the future, along with other product lines, such as high protein muffins.

Q: Are Mind Your Muffin muffins safe for diabetics?

A: I have had much success with diabetic clients using these muffins as an everyday snack food.  Because there is virtually no sugar (all muffins have 1 gram of sugar or less) and low carbohydrate content, there is not a spike in blood sugar levels.  Also they do not experience the usual cramping, bloating, flatulence or laxative-like effect from eating typical sugar-free items available.

Q: How do you sweeten your muffins?

A: I use the purest form of stevia sweetener I have been able to find.  After trying over 35 different preparations of stevia, I found one that met all my healthy criteria and that tasted great.  Although the price is higher for a purer, less processed form of stevia, Mind Your Muffin is about quality and will never sacrifice quality to lower costs.

So by bringing these healthy muffins into the homes of people across America, I am able to help make great food choices everyday even when that sugar tooth craving flares up.  Until I figure out how to clone myself, Mind Your Muffin will carry my message.  Let’s be mindful about the food we eat and lose our muffin-tops!

Lemon Poppy Muffin

Lemon Poppy Muffin

Apple Cinnamon Muffin

Gingerbread Muffin

Pumpkin Spice Muffin

Pumpkin Spice Muffin

-RealFoodsLady

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized