Tag Archives: paleo

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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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

 

 

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Valentine’s Day Special Order – Last Day to Purchase!

Valentine’s Day Special Available for 1 more day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  

Mind Your Muffin Co. has a Valentine Day special of a combination half-dozen of decadent chocolate and vanilla muffins available to be shipped anywhere in the country, and it ends today!  All orders placed today will be shipped on Monday, February 17th (except if you arrange pickup or local delivery).  So get yourself, or be selfless and give the combination pack of 2 of our best selling flavors.  We are including a muffin carrier bag with each Valentine’s Day Special ordered as well!  Order hereImage

Just want to add a friendly reminder that it is easy to take any of our products with you on the go with our convenient reusable carrier bag.  Simply throw a muffin or a few cave bites into a carrier bag, seal and throw it in your purse or gym bag to ensure you will have your superfood snack with you when in need!  
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Have a terrific weekend,

Gina

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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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Healthy warming breakfast! Gluten free, high fiber, low carb, vegan, high protein

I have been eating this awesome breakfast “cereal” type of bowl for the past year and love it when the weather turns cold outside.  It is so warming and good for me!  Sometimes I have this several times a day during the cold winter months in Chicago.

This dish is very good for you, containing heart-healthy Omega 3’s, high fiber, no gluten, high protein, low carbohydrates and low sugar.  You will need the following ingredients:

-unsweetened almond milk (please make sure no carrageenan) I use Whole Foods 365 unsweetened vanilla almond milk

-ground flaxseeds

-apple cider vinegar

-liquid stevia

-coconut flour

In a bowl, one you would eat cereal out of, add 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds.  Add 1/4 cup boiled almond milk.  I use a teapot to warm my almond milk, which only takes a minute.  But you could always resort to the microwave (which I do not recommend).  Add 1-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar to the almond milk and ground flaxseed mixture and stir for about 1 minute.  I like to add more apple cider vinegar as it gives the dish an apple-kick.  Then add 20-30 drops liquid stevia, depending on how sweet you would like this to be.  You can always add more, so start with less.  Finally add 1/4 cup coconut flour and stir.  You will notice the mixture becoming thick like cream of wheat cereal.  You can adjust the thickness by adding more/less coconut flour.

That’s it!  Now enjoy!!!  This is super simple to make in a few minutes and a very healthy-powered breakfast or snack.

If you don’t like coconut, you can always substitute with almond meal/flour or hazelnut flour.  I’ve used almond flour/meal on occasion to change things up.

If you have questions about where to purchase or what brands, let me know!

-RealFoodsLady

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