October 8, 2010

Organic Power Foods for the Modern Lifestyle: Cacao Nibs and Lip Balm

There are many ancient foods that have become trendy lately for their antioxidant health benefits. Navitas Naturals has brought us many great products featuring these "power foods for a modern lifestyle". Of course, cacoa is one of my favorites.

Cacao (kÉ™-kau, ka-kow):

the dried seeds of a South American evergreen tree (Theobroma cacao of the family Sterculiaceae), which are most commonly used in making cocoa, chocolate, and cocoa butter. Also called cacao bean, and cocoa bean.

We tried out two cacoa products by Navitas:

  • Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao Sweet Nibs
    Navitas Naturals Cacao Nibs are the partially ground cacao beans that are the natural source of all chocolate products. And though the Mayans may have touted cacao as the "Food of the Gods," we've got dessert on our minds. With their crunchy texture and intense flavor, our cacao nibs are healthy, gourmet, and a delicious addition to all kinds of treats. From adding them into a brownie batter, sprinkling on ice cream, or even just tossing into a trail mix, there is virtually no wrong way to add more of this "real chocolate" into your life. Plus, with cacao's soaring levels of antioxidants, and trace minerals like magnesium and iron, you can feel good in every way about enjoying this chocolatey superfood.

  • Cacao Power Lip Balm:
    Almost everyone loves the taste of chocolate, but did you know your skin loves it too? Enjoy the benefits of chocolate all day with Navitas Naturals Cacao Lip Balm. This buttery lip moisturizer is made from the pure, cold-pressed oil of the cacao bean, along with a rich mixture of nature's most skin-friendly oils. The result is an aromatic and sensuous balm that leaves your lips hydrated and soft and your nose equally invigorated. Move over Hershey's -- this is a real chocolate kiss.

Both of these products are affordable. The nibs are of course delicious and make a great snack. At first, I feared the cacao lip balm's flavor would cause me to lick my lips, which would dry them out even further, but it did not. It smells wonderful, which is enough to satisfy one's craving for cacao.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

October 4, 2010

Ayurvedic Cooking Uses Organic or Wildcrafted Spices to Balance Your Health

Most Americans think of spices as something used to add flavoring to their food. Not so when it comes to Ayurvedic cooking, where their is more consideration for your overall health than simply satisfying your tastebuds.

R-U-Ved has made Ayurvedic cooking easier by creating three spice blends to improve your constitution (dosha).

  • Propita Spice Powder:
    For those who tend to run on the warm side, get easily irritated and impatient and experience digestive difficulties, ProPita eases digestion and calms the Pitta dosha. It includes mango powder, dried coriander leaves, mint, pomegranate seeds, fennel, basil, cumin and rock salt.
  • Prokapha Spice Powder:
    Those who are primarily Kapha or experience Kapha imbalances may feel sluggish, often experience respiratory conditions and gain weight easily, and will benefit from the stimulating ProKapha spice blend, which consists of black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, piper longum, garlic and rock salt.
  • Provata Spice Powder:
    Those who are primarily the Vata dosha or have a Vata imbalance may tend towards anxiety and absentmindedness and experience flatulence and constipation. The warming, soothing ProVata blend consists of cardamom, ginger, cloves, cumin, coriander seeds, fennel and rock salt to help bring balance to the at-times ungrounded Vata.
These spice blends are delicious, and they have the added bonus of improving your health. They are also very affordable at about $4.00 a bottle. They are all natural and do not contain any preservatives.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 29, 2010

Really Natural Rewind: Naked Juice: The Superfoods Selection

Trying to find an appropriate time to stuff a couple of teaspoons of blue green algae into your mouth can be difficult, not to mention wheat grass, barley grass, spirulina, and chlorella. However, the Naked Juices Superfood line makes taking in ultimate nutrition with ultimate taste a treat.

nakedgreen.jpgNaked Juice is made from "bare-naked fruit", with no added sugar, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, and claims to have a pound of fruit in every bottle. A Superfood is any food that is high in enzymes, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, Chlorophyll, and antioxidants.

Naked Juice offers 3 flavors in their Superfood line.
"Green Machine" in my opinion, is the best of the three offering 5 superfoods in just one drink. While the color can cause a bit of anxiety (green juices do not have a history of good flavor), this one tastes more like apples, bananas and kiwi then grass -- something Odwalla has yet to master in their own green nutrient dense juice.

"Blue Machine", contains a host of berries and vitamins and general opinion would probably state that it is the best tasting of the three. More like a bottle of blueberries and blackberries, you could almost pour this stuff over vanilla ice cream it is so sublime.

"Red Machine" is a follow-up to the green and contains red algae or dulse and grain flax seed (for the omega-3 fatty acid content). Red Machine's motto is "Tangy, tart, good for the heart".

Be sure to drink your Superfood smoothie cold (kept at below 38 degrees Fahrenheit). Naked Juice lists the juices as available in 10oz, 15.2oz, 32oz, 64oz and 128oz.

All of these drinks are certified Kosher and vegan approved. The Naked Juice Superfood line makes great breakfast boosters.

Click the following link to read ingredient lists...

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 28, 2010

Really Natural Rewind: Synergy: Trilogy Kombucha Tea

This is one of our most popular product reviews dating back four years ago!

So, faced with reviewing either a well-tasted ginger beer, an almost mainstream pomegranate soda or Synergy Trilogy Kombucha Tea, I decided to take my life into my own hands and drink the tea. I'm pretty sure I'm going to sorely regret not jumping into the soda.

Kombucha tea (pronounced kom-BOO-cha) is the latest "miracle cure". According to the Wikipedia website, the chef at the Google cafeterias prepares it from scratch for the employees and over 100 glasses are consumed. The packaging of Synergy: Trilogy indicates that Kombucha supports digestion, metabolism, immune system, appetite control, weight control, liver function, body alkalinity, anti-aging, cell integrity and healthy skin and hair. Also mentioned is the fact that the creator, G.T. Dave, began bottling this tea after his mother's success from drinking it during a battle with breast cancer.

Kombucha is inappropriately referred to as a mushroom. Actually it is the symbiosis of a live culture, much like what is found in yogurt, when mixed with yeast and fed a diet of sweetened black or green tea. The result is a filtered sparkling beverage, Kombucha tea, that holds the health properties of the cultures, as well as a slight alcohol content (less than 0.5%) from the fermentation. Essential nutrients are then present after fermentation such as active enzymes, viable probiotics, amino acids, antioxidants and polyphenols.

Bottom line: drink this and all will be well again... sort of.

First of all, there is no proven documentation on the health benefits of Kombucha, despite the fact that it has been around for centuries. No matter, the company's website boldly proclaims, "Feel the healing power of Kombucha."

Second, it is expensive. A 16 oz. bottle of the stuff cost $3.50.

Thirdly, Synergy: Trilogy Kombucha Tea tastes awful. It smells like yeasty ginger bread and tastes like sparkling raw lemon juice. There is nothing sweet about this. And thanks to the bits of yeast floating around, I stupidly shook the damn bottle, which caused it to explode upon opening and now my kitchen smells like bread dough.

Do I feel better? Not completely, although I do feel oddly wide awake, and I'm guessing I'm going to have to choke down more than 2 sips to find out the full story. The best part? Because of the unstable nature of the contents within, it has been known to create intestinal problems and in one case death. (It only has a 160 day shelf life.) It cannot be left improperly stored, which means I have to figure out a way to consume all 16 oz. this evening.

But by tomorrow my intestines should be glowing and my body balanced and ready to attack the day. I'll have to let you know.

(By the end of this article and 2/3 of the bottle of the tea, I was feeling very alert, like a cup of coffee alert without the jitters, despite 2 margaritas earlier in the evening and the taste was growing on me. No pun intended.)

About Millennium Products:

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 23, 2010

One More Reason to Eat Organic: Chocolate Contains Pesticide Lindane

broken chocolate heart.jpg I love chocolate, that's why it is so disheartening to learn that commercially-grown chocolate contains trace amounts of lindane, the same pesticide used in lice treatment shampoos. Care2 reports:

A study that sampled various conventional chocolate products found tiny amounts of lindane...

The U.S. EPA says lindane, which has been used as a pesticide for decades, has shown to cause a variety of toxic effects in animal subjects, "...such as reproductive and neurotoxic impairments."...

The World Watch Institute says the most cocoa is grown in West African countries, and that lindane is the most commonly used pesticide there. One way to limit potential exposure to lindane from chocolate is to only buy organic products. If a chocolate product is marked organic, it should be pesticide and insecticide-free.

It's a good thing my favorite chocolate is organic!

Image:  AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Rev Dan Catt

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 14, 2010

The Good and the Bad of Baby Carrots

baby carrots.jpg
I still remember the first time I tried baby carrots. It was at my aunt's house one Thanksgiving when I was a child, and I thought they were so unique and delicious. I don't know what it was about changing the shape of a carrot and making it uniform that made it taste better, but actually baby carrots, which are not really baby at all, do have higher sugar content and less beta-carotene than their adult relatives. Care2 reports on the "odd evolution" of the baby carrot:

Some would say that baby carrots are the dumb, consumer-driven spawn of the more dignified garden-variety carrot. Others, namely farmer Mike Yurosek, would say they are a genius exercise in agricultural efficiency, and a hell of a moneymaker. As the baby carrot lore goes, Yorosek got tired of seeing 400 tons of carrots a day drop down the cull shoot at his packing plant in Bakersfield, CA (the culls are those carrots that are too twisted, knobby, or plain ugly to be marketable). Sometimes more than 70% of his carrots were tossed, composted, or fed to livestock. In an effort to recoup some of these losses, Yurosek devised a way to take these culls, shape them and shave them into those familiar baby carrot fingers and essentially turn waste into profits (most baby carrots sell for 50% more than conventional carrots - it is all in the packaging).
Knowing baby carrots are made from culled carrots has changed my opinion of them, but I am still concerned that some baby carrots are treated with bleach. Organic baby carrots do offer a safer options, as they are soaked in a citrus rather than a chlorine solution.

Photo:  AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by savanna-smiles

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 10, 2010

Not So Really Natural Cookbooks: Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook 600 Slow Cooker Holiday Recipes

Fix-it and Forget-it Christmas Cookbook: 600 Slow Cooker Holiday Recipes by Phyllis Pellman Good is filled with recipes that are quick to prepare but cook for many, many hours. Slow cookers are a great way to feed your family healthy meals made with whole foods, but unfortunately, you need to read the recipes in this book carefully. Some of the ingredients are less than all natural and they are heavy on the meat, but you can just omit these items from your cooking.

"You absolutely can make holiday meals with ease and with pleasure," says slow-cooker champion Phyllis Pellman Good. Her latest collection, Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook: 500 Slow Cooker Holiday Recipes, will fill your head with menu ideas, give you gentle guidance with each recipe, and deliver dishes that your friends and family will love.

"Stop your fretting. Put an end to the nightmares. Get out your slow cookers!" Good urges. "Whether you're making late suppers, family brunches, or amazing holiday meals, these 500 recipes from home cooks across the country will allow you to feast with your loved ones without being exhausted and frazzled."

I'm also confused as to why some versions of this book say 600 recipes and some say 500. They copy I got says 600 on the cover, but I did not count them :)

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 7, 2010

Bulk is Green: Save 96% Shopping Bulk Foods!

Many people assume buying in bulk means you have to buy massive quantities at warehouse stores. Bulk food shopping is not about big buys, unless you want it to be. Shopping the right stores allows you to buy the exact amounts you want from bins. 

Be sure to bring your own containers or reuse your plastic bags, otherwise you are just replacing one form of packaging for another.

It is also important to be careful if you have a food allergy when shopping from bulk bins. I once made my father, who is a celiac, very sick when the polenta I bought in bulk had been contaminated with some gluten from a neighboring bin. I assume some shopper had shared the scooper from another bin, or the store had not adequately cleaned the bin before switching products it contained.  Now, I won't serve food from bulk bins to those with food allergies.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

August 30, 2010

Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Mix is Delicious!

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix is easy to make, and it actually tastes delicious. It's important to follow the directions carefully, e.g. room temperature eggs, greasing the pan, etc.

Sugar, potato starch, tapioca flour, whole grain sorghum flour, baking powder (monocalcium phosphate, bicarbonate of soda, cornstarch), sea salt, xanthan gum, natural vanilla powder (sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract).

I was concerned when the cake mix had a rubbery consistency that it would not rise upon baking. Even though it did not rise as much as a standard cake, the gluten-free cake did turn out light and fluffy. I made a beet juice colored butter frosting topped with blackberries. It was delicious!
47694_416383816383_534576383_4841598_1009398_n.jpgDisclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

August 24, 2010

First Time in 10 Years: US Restaurants Decline as People Eat at Home


For the first time in a decade, the number of restaurants in the US has declined. A sure sign of the recessive economy, people are saving their money and dining more at home. UPI explains:

California accounted for nearly a third of the overall decrease, with the number of restaurants down 1,500 from a year earlier, NPD found. Full-service restaurants with staff waiting tables suffered the biggest hit.

"Most restaurateurs are just living on the edge," said Jot Condie, the California Restaurant Association president.

Continued unemployment and increasing food prices threaten an industry recovery, Condie said.

This bad news for restaurant owners certainly has positive effects for our health, and hopefully Americans are cooking more with whole foods, as this is a cheaper alternative to frozen family dinners. Even healthy restaurant food usually contains more calories and fat than home-cooked meals.

Image: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by pixeljones

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

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