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Entries in vegan (8)

Thursday
Aug152013

Healthy New Snack? The Wave Bar

I love trying new food products, especially when they conveniently arrive at my front door! Rick Guarnaccia, the CEO (Chief "Everything" Officer) of Natural G Foods, sent over his new Wave Bars for my two cents. It's a soft granola bar made with a bunch of fruits and vegetables including apples, pumpkin, carrots, broccoli, kale, beets, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. The sweeteners are date paste, tapioca syrup and agave. It also contains rolled oats and seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax). One bar has 170 calories, 7 grams fat, 20 mg sodium, 3 grams fiber, 3 grams protein, 9 grams sugar, and 430 mg of healthful omega-3 fats (from the flaxseeds).

Before the birth of Wave Bar, Rick and his wife Monica had baked a bar similar to this one for their three daughters. Like many parents, they wanted their kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, and this snack seemed the perfect conception. With all the different fruits and veggies in the Wave Bar that are listed first among the ingredients, I was surprised the bar contained only 1/2 serving of fruit and 1/2 serving vegetables. But after all it is a snack size bar and what I appreciate about real fruit bars is that kids become familiar with the natural tart flavors, so that ideally eating whole fruits and vegetables will be more accepted.

So I gave a thumbs-up for the product's nutritional profile with no artificial colors or flavors and that the company is a start-up by parents trying to improve kids' nutrition. Bigger question, how was the taste? Chewy, tangy and mildly sweet. I loved the richness from the seeds. Unfortunately my son is still, shall we say, selective about fruits and vegetables so he took one whiff and refused the bar. But I enjoyed the natural flavors of the various fruits (couldn't detect the broccoli or kale!) and that it was very satisfying. It would be great as part of a breakfast on-the-go or for a late afternoon snack. As for my son, maybe I'll try covering it in melted dark chocolate.

For more info, check out the Wave Bar website and Facebook page! They're not available in Massachusetts yet but you can find them on Amazon.com.

Disclosure: I received food samples but no monetary compensation for my honest review of this product.

Monday
Apr152013

Tasty Tidbits at Whole Foods

I recently attended a Whole Foods blogger event in Wellesley featuring Chad Sarno, consulting research and development chef for Whole Foods Market and coauthor of the new cookbook Crazy Sexy Kitchen with New York Times bestselling author and cancer survivor Kris Carr. We each received a copy of the cookbook, and after thumbing through it I found a plant-happy collection of vegan recipes, most of which are a half to one-page long with a philosophy toward non-dairy, gluten-free, alkaline, and low-glycemic foods. I appreciated the introductory chapters on cooking basics that guide you through the vitals like various knife cutting techniques and how to prepare whole grains and beans. There are several unusual but easy smoothie concoctions and fresh salad dishes that I'll be sure to test for this blog in the near future. 

On this particular night, I was inspired watching Chad whip up quick and delicious creations right before our eyes. He demonstrated an array of 2-bite vegan appetizer recipes (see pic below!) that we lucky bloggers sampled in abundance—one bite after another popped with maxed out flavor. Clockwise from top: Jackfruit Carnitas with Avocado and Pico, Crostini with Pureed Artichoke and Garlicky Mushrooms, Cucumber Cups with Cashew Cream Cheese and Balsamic Pickled Figs, Smoked Portabella Satay with Almond Chile Sauce

I decided to recreate his sweet ending of cocoa truffles: a no-cook, no-fuss treat that has my stamp of approval as a healthful dessert! That night Chad didn't provide the recipe and was just throwing in a little of this and that, so later he did email this version below and gave me permission to reprint it. A few notes that it uses almond meal, which is ground up blanched almonds. You can probably make your own, especially as one 16 oz. package of Bob's Red Mill costs a hefty $12.99. The date paste adds natural sweetness; I panicked after blending it because it looked like pure liquid but it thickened up after a few minutes. The final mixture resembles a dry dark chocolate brownie batter. It is very rich and amazing so make the balls small and savor each one! If it tastes too bitter, you can use a bit less cocoa or add some sugar/honey.

Chad Sarno's Cocoa Truffles

Ingredients

1 cup almond meal/flour

1 cup rolled oats, ground into course meal

3 T almond or cashew butter (I used peanut butter)

3/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened

1 1/4 cup date paste* (or add enough until the mixture binds well)

1 T vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until well blended. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  2. Roll or shape into small balls.
  3. Coat surface of balls with coconut, cinnamon, Grape Nuts, crushed nuts, smoked salt, or more cocoa. Serve immediately or refrigerate for future munching!

*To make date paste, blend 1 cup of pitted dates with 1 cup water

Thursday
Jan032013

Drink Your Veggies

Click on the pic for Spinach Fruit Smoothie recipeSure you could have had a V-8, but now there are endless fruit and vegetable drinks to help you get your recommended 5-9 servings of produce a day. Maybe it's the popularity of "cleanses" and juice fasts that these drinks have secured so much shelf space in supermarkets. I don't buy these drinks because of the cost and high calories, but I can see the appeal of drinking produce because it's less intimidating to gulp down than to chew through 5-9 servings! A downside is that you lose out on the fiber you'd get from the whole food, but you'll still benefit from their phytochemicals and antioxidants. Over the summer I'd started blending up my own shakes with whole fruits and greens like kale or spinach. 

But now that the weather is cold, I don't crave those frosty frappes. So I searched for pureed vegetable soup recipes that allow me to enjoy a nice warm drink of veggies. I make a large pot to keep in the fridge and drink a reheated cup a day. To be honest, you could probably use any vegetable soup recipe and blend it up. Adding at least one starchy vegetable like sweet potato, butternut squash or pumpkin squash will help to thicken it. 

This week I chose a carrot peanut soup inspired by a recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook (Clarkson Potter Pub, 1999). The original recipe includes chili paste, which I omitted, but still produces a flavorful satisfying soup with richness from the peanut butter. It makes a great evening snack and will give you that last boost of antioxidants before bed!

Carrot Peanut Soup

Ingredients

1 T canola oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

2 pounds carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (about 6 cups)

1 celery stalk, thinly sliced

1 t salt

6 cups water

2 T peanut butter

3 T lite soy sauce

2 T lime juice

Directions

  1. In a soup pot on medium heat, warm the oil and add the onions, carrots, celery and salt. Saute on high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add the water, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until the carrots are soft, about 25 minutes.
  3. Stir in the peanut butter, soy sauce, and lime juice. In a blender, puree the soup in batches (or use an immersion blender).  

There are some great online resources to get you excited about fruits and veggies, such as Fruits and Veggies More Matters and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. I like CDC's handy calculator that estimates how many servings of fruits and veggies you need daily based on your age and activity level.