Bounce Energy Ball – Peanut Protein Blast

I brought this to work with me because I knew I was going to have a late lunch and I was going to need a mid-morning snack.

Bounce Energy Ball Peanut Protein Blast

Bounce Energy Ball in Peanut Protein Blast – $2.69 at Whole Foods (49g per ball)

Ingredients:

Peanuts (29%), Brown Rice Syrup, Fruitrim®(Fruit Juices, Natural Grain Dextrins), Whey Protein Blend (19%) (Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Hydrolysate), Whey Protein Crisps (12%) (Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Tapioca Starch, Stabiliser (Calcium Carbonate), Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin)), Natural Vanilla Flavour, Sea Salt, Mixed Tocopherols.

When I opened it up, I was pleasantly surprised that it was covered in peanut chunks! It’s a nice change from the chocolate covered bars that I’ve had so far.

But, when I was about to take a bite, I was hit with a strong scent of something that I still have no idea what it is, and that surprised me because it wasn’t sweet-smelling at all. I was surprised since it lists a fruit juice based product as the third ingredient!

It’s not sweet at all and it’s pretty dense for an energy bar. You definitely can’t take a big bite of this without wanting to gag because the mixture of peanuts, brown rice syrup, tapioca starch and proteins really keeps everything tightly bound together in your palate.

I normally don’t have a sweet tooth, but this energy ball really needs some more sweetness or another layer of flavour somehow! Somehow, it’s really bland and I think it might be because it’s primarily made out of plant proteins with almost no variations in sugar and fat, which are two primary contributors to flavour.

At 49g per ball, it’s pretty hard to finish this on a run without feeling really gross! It’s a lot of dense peanut butter to eat!

It does manage to provide a steady stream of energy without making you crave more food to top you up, though. I feel like this is better for people who do shorter, high-intensity workouts, somehow. Maybe it’s because it feels marketed more towards the “hot yoga at lunch before going back to the office” type of crowd. (People still do hot yoga, right?)

Verdict: 1.5/5 – It’s obviously well received around the world, but it just reminds me of an edible peanut-flavoured hockey puck. It works really well to keep your energy levels up for a bit, but it’s just too bland and too dense for me to buy it again. Sorry, Bounce!

xoxo,

B.elle

SoLo Energy Bars – Peanut Power

I’ll get it out of the way right now: I’m using pictures from the company websites for these energy bar reviews. They’re sharper, they’re prettier and I’ve actually thrown out my wrappers after eating the bars! Oops!

The first energy bar that I tried was SoLo Energy Bar in Peanut Power.

SoLo Gi Peanut Power

 

SoLo Energy Bar in Peanut Power – $2.50 (50g per bar)

Ingredients:

Solo GI® protein blend [whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, soy crisps (soy protein isolate, rice flour, salt)], chocolate flavoured coating (sugar, palm kernel oil, cocoa powder, whey powder, skim milk powder, soy lecithin, natural flavours), peanut butter (dry roasted peanuts, sea salt), brown rice syrup, fructose, fruit puree (white grape juice concentrate, prunes, dates, fructose), soy nuts, honey, Solo GI® fibre blend (inulin, oat beta glucan), peanut oil.

I’m not 100% sure what the official name of the company is because it seems like it goes by several different handles on social media. On Facebook, it’s SoLo Smart Energy Bar; on Twitter, it’s SoLo GI Nutrition (@SoLo_energybar); and its website calls itself SoLo Energy Bar. So, for your sanity and mine, I’m going to refer to it as SoLo Energy Bar as a whole!

SoLo Energy Bar provides long-lasting and steady energy for endurance and high-intensity workouts, all without the sugar crashes and cravings that come from bars that contain refined sugars like fructose-glucose and even honey. SoLo Energy Bars have been thoroughly tested to confidently claim low glycemic index ratings between 23-29.

As a reference, glucose has a glycemic index of 100 and quickly raises blood sugar levels because it’s very easily absorbed into the bloodstream and activates insulin production very quickly. It takes a while for your body to react to changing levels of sugar, so insulin production is always a step behind, sometimes leading to that ever-familiar “sugar crash” and “craving” sensation when there’s too much insulin in your bloodstream and not enough sugar.

It’s great to see that an energy bar company went through all the trouble to really make sure that the bar’s actually low GI using real ingredients, no preservatives AND it’s also gluten-free! I’m not a celiac or gluten-intolerant in any sense, but it’s good to know!

I ate this when I was feeling really faint one day and it probably wasn’t a good idea to try and cook something in the state. (Generally, low blood sugar and cooking isn’t good for your health.)

I obviously didn’t read the ingredients or look at the packaging too closely because I was honestly surprised to see that it’s completely covered in some good quality chocolate!

The bar itself reminded me completely of a chocolate peanut butter cup that was nowhere as sweet but in a really good way. The flavours were all there that perfectly mimics fresh, gooey peanut butter that melts in your mouth with the bittersweet chocolate coating. It’s so delicious!

It has this amazing gooey-crunchy texture that’s almost like fresh rice crispy squares, but still dense enough for your palate to realize that it’s packed with good, slow-releasing energy!

After I ate this bar at around 8:30pm, I didn’t feel hungry at all until after I woke up the next morning and I usually go to bed close to midnight, so that’s one effective energy bar!

Verdict: 5/5 This bar is absolutely delicious and it completely satisfied my hunger without making me crash or crave more sugar! The price point is great and they’re available to be ordered online as well.

xoxo,

B.elle

Energy Bars

I usually end up doing some ridiculously high-intensity workout at the Monkey Vault that involves acrobatics, leaping and climbing, but I also usually end up not eating too much afterwards. That lead me to consider taking up energy bars! But, I have a secret…

I don’t know which ones are good!

I know, it’s crazy! I think this is probably because I once tried energy/protein bars about 6 years ago and they were bland and gritty. Then, I did some product testing a couple years after on another brand and it was blindingly sweet and still gritty! So, I don’t have a very good opinion of energy bars based on my experiences.

But, I recently did some demos at Whole Foods and I discovered their vast selection of energy bars and took a look.

I ended up buying 5 peanut butter energy bars from different brands to see which one I liked best. Why the peanut flavour? Because I love peanuts!

(Note: I know that peanuts contain some protein in them, but I also know that smart companies will use a “base formula/component” in a product line. In the case of energy bars, the majority of them rely on the protein supplements in their bases to try to meet their health claims, not the peanuts.)

I’ll be trying and reviewing these bars in no particular order:

  • Vega Sport Protein Bar – Chocolate Peanut Butter
  • Bounce Energy Balls – Peanut Protein Blast
  • LARABAR ALT Bar – Peanut Butter
  • Clif Bar – Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • SoLo GI Bar – Peanut Power

Stay tuned and see what happens!

xoxo,

B.elle

New Spring Style with Black Nail Polish?!

I saw a similar style on Julep’s Facebook page, but I’m not nearly patient enough to do nail art. However, I do love me some neon-bright shirts and vintage-y jewelry!

Bright Spring Style

I love the contrast of the softness from the bright feminine pink sheer top, lace trim and vintage rose motifs with the edginess of black nail polish and metallic accessories! It’s great for going out after work and very easily dressed up with an elegant updo and blood red lipstick.

What I’m Wearing:

Express – Convertible Sleeve Portofino Shirt in Neon Berry

I got this on sale in the Eaton Centre and I’m always keeping an eye out for more now!

Erica Weiner – Bat Jaw Necklace

Magic Pony at the Design Exchange (at the time of writing this post) was carrying this when I went in to check out the This Is Not A Toy exhibit and I couldn’t resist how exquisite the molding is! Erica got a beautifully preserved bat skull and made the jaw into a necklace in two variations: Bronze with Gold-filled Chain and Sterling Silver.

Butter London – Union Jack Black

I’ve been waiting for a chance to do my nails and this shade of black is just warm enough for my skin tone and the ultra shiny top coat balances out the soft lace.

Ring I found in my jewelry box (I totally forgot where it came from!)

I’ve had this ring in my stash for a while and I’ve only recently started wearing it out to round out a cute outfit. I’ll have to watch out for more vintage rings!

What new styles will you be trying this spring?

xoxo,

B.elle

Topbox – May 2014

I didn’t sleep well AT ALL last night because of a minor nightmare/panic attack about one of my product trials, so seeing my Topbox nestled between my doors was a welcoming sign!

Also, happy Victoria Day weekend (aka, May 2-4 long weekend!).

What is it?

Topbox is a Canadian monthly beauty box subscription that features 4 deluxe samples for $12 per month, shipped right to your door via Canada Post. Some months even include full sized products! Keep in mind that they do have a waitlist of about 2-3 months from initial sign-up before you start your subscription!

Topbox May 2014

In honour of Earth Month, Topbox announced that they’ll be switching the regular cardboard tubes for an organza bag and donating the difference to the [World Wildlife Fund] for the May Topbox. Considering the enthusiastic response on their Facebook page, I wonder if they’ll make a change soon?

Topbox May 2014

Kinetics Nail Colour in Splatter It! – $9 for 15mL, full sized

More nail polish! I’m going to have to start planning an organization system for my collection!

I have a similar colour to this from Sephora X and I LOVE playing with effect coats! It’ll be interesting to see how it holds up compared to Sephora’s brand especially since it looks like a relatively new brand, too.

Lancome Paris’s Hypnose Doll Lashes in 01 So Black! (4mL = $19.38 sample) – $31.50 for 6.5mL

Holy heifer, this is a big sample even for a deluxe size! This particular mascara’s also a new product from Lancome and it’s always exciting to try the newest line, you know? The wand looks really user-friendly, too!

I heard that Lancome has really great mascara formulas and I’m actually very interested to try this one on and compare it to my current favourite, Bourjois Paris’ Volume Glamour Max mascara.

(I’m starting to see a trend here with the May Topbox and my current makeup inventory!)

Topbox May 2014

Elizabeth Arden’s Visible Difference Skin Balancing Lotion SPF15 for Combination Skin (5mL = $4.80 sample) – 50mL for $48

Okay, I don’t have a dedicated “skin balancing lotion” that also has SPF in it. Definitely no repeat for this one!

It actually has instructions in the box! No more guessing for me! According to the sheet, you “smooth onto cleansed face and throat before sun exposure” and “it leaves skin looking healthy and balanced with a radiant appearance.”

So… It’s a moisturizing toner with some sun protection. Right on, I can get behind this.

I love how the sample has a little pump, but I kinda feel like that’s overkill for a little teaspoon of face cream. It took a dozen pumps, but when I finally got some out, the lotion’s actually pretty runny! At least it doesn’t have that characteristic sunscreen smell, but that’s probably because it’s only SPF15.

It really is super light on the face, too. Good job, Elizabeth Arden!

Benefit Cosmetics’ Posiebalm – Hydrating Tinted Lip Balm (0.5g = $3.67 sample) – 3g for $22

BENEFIT! I absolutely adore this brand and this is one of their absolute newest products that I have been dying to try! I love lip balm, but it always makes lipstick so hard to put on afterwards, so I’ve been hoping for a decent lip tint that works well but won’t break the bank.

Interestingly enough, the shade is similar to the Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick in Coral Blossom that I already have but it’s way more sheer and a bit more pink than coral. They’re both so moisturizing, too!

Topbox May 2014

BONUS! Lancome Paris’ Empty Sample Jar

That sounds GREAT, doesn’t it? But, the box/bag came with a card that you can redeem at a Lancome counter at any Bay to get a 10-day supply of one of their foundations in your ideal shade.

I don’t think I’m going to redeem this because I already have a foundation from bareminerals that I don’t react to and I’m not even a quarter of the way through.

But, I can see how this might be better than sending out foundation samples because you’re not guaranteed to get a matching shade! There’s almost no point!

Verdict: 4/5 – It’s the second month in a row that I’ve gotten nail polish, which is a little meh even if it’s a completely different shade. But, I’m definitely going to be using the mascara and Posiebalm and the quality is phenomenal! What a great box!

Did you get the May Topbox? What did you think of it?

xoxo,

B.elle

Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick – Coral Blossom

I’ve been eyeing this lipstick for a few months now, but I never got around to pick it up! Now that the weather’s been warming up and spring is finally here with bright sunshine, I figured that a cute coral lip colour was totally needed.

Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick Coral Blossom

Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick in Coral Blossom – $19 for 3.1g

Okay, first thing’s first… How adorable is this packaging?! The tube is wrapped in beautiful, high-quality paper that reminds me of Japanese washi paper even though it’s inspired by the vibrant colours and patterns of the Amazon. What’s even cuter is that each different shade has a different pattern, too!

I picked out Coral Blossom, which is a lovely salmon/coral pink with a touch of golden shimmer in it.

Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick Coral Blossom

It’s perfect for the spring sunshine!

It lists jojoba seed oil, Candelilla wax, shea butter, carnauba wax, peppermint oil, Murumuru seed butter, and some sort of flower seed butter as part of their ingredients, along with a plethora of other chemicals to keep it solid and lasting.

It looks so cute on me, but I think I had some sort of reaction to it! It felt really tingly when I first put it on and I was assuming it was for the “plumping effect” that it was supposed to give.

Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick Coral Blossom

Then, my lips got completely dry and chapped, very much like when I got wind burn over the winter! The skin keeps flaking off and I’m guessing it might be the peppermint oil that Tarte claims to cause the plumping effect! NOOOOOOO!

I let my poor lips recover with my EOS lip balm and then tried again without any bad effects! Hopefully, it really was just the super windy weather and not the plumping effects.

Do you have a go-to coral that you use? What’s your favourite lipstick?

xoxo,

B.elle

Little Life Box – May 2014

My first Little Life Box! Yay!

Little Life Box

What Is It?

Also known as Petite Boîte à Vie, the Little Life Box is a monthly healthy lifestyle subscription box that ships from Quebec, Canada. Each box starts at $19.99 and ships anywhere in Canada for $3.75! Each box will feature healthy and natural products for you to try and Little Life Box will feature some brands on their site to purchase full size products.

I had heard of Le Petite Boîte à Vie before the holidays, but I wasn’t exactly in good financial shape to buy another subscription box at that time! (Holiday shopping, amirite?)

As the reviews started coming in each month about it, I saw that it’s very well curated and packed full of healthy goodies! The price is pretty good for the value of the contents and they do offer prepaid 3, 6, and 12 month subscriptions.

It’s also frickin’ adorable, don’t you think?

Little Life Box May 2014

Look how much stuff I got! I felt like I was digging through Hermione’s infinite bag because it was packed layer upon layer!

It didn’t come with a product card, so I’m not sure what the full size retail prices are for some of the samples they’ve sent out. I’m also far too lazy to investigate thoroughly, so you’ll definitely see some with prices and others without.

Little Life Box May 2014Ener-C Effervescent Powdered Drink Mix in Lemon Lime, Orange and Cranberry (1 packet each) – $22.99 MSRP for 30 packets

I’ve seen these packets around, but I’m actually at a loss of where I’ve seen them! I want to say somewhere like Bulk Barn or the GNC health food stores, but don’t quote me on that. I’m sure that fitness related places would carry them.

One packet contains 1,000mg of vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid! The great thing about vitamin C is that you literally can’t overdose on it and ascorbic acid is the fancy science name for it. Once your body’s absorbed enough of the stuff, it comes right out in your urine! Can’t wait to try it and fight this cold that’s creeping up on me!

OneCoffee Sumantran K-Cups (2 pods)

So it took me about 3 days to figure out that these things are K-Cup pods. I don’t own a Keurig or any sort of those single-serve coffee machines because I don’t like the waste that those things generate. Not to mention, I make a hell of a good cup of coffee on my own.

However, OneCoffee is trying to promote a greener lifestyle with the Keurig machines by making 90% biodegradable pods! The grinds are even fair-trade and organic certified, so that means I’ll probably end up ripping them open and using the grinds in my espresso machine!

Brad King’s Ultimate Calorie Burn (90 capsules) – $39.95 Full Size

I never really felt the need for fitness pills because I’m very active, lean and I still eat like a pig. So, this product is pretty much useless to me even though it claims to temporarily boost concentration.

I checked the back and the main active ingredients that Mr. King contributes to faster calorie burning are 80% cocoa extract with 8% caffeine, some capsicum extract, and some black pepper extract. All of these things do one thing: they increase heart rate and induce a faint “flight-or-fight” response, which does temporarily heighten mental acuity and memory.

… But, I get the feeling that the same could be achieved with a cup of coffee and some spicy noodles.

(I’d rather have the coffee and noodles.)

Little Life Box May 2014

Natur-a Organic Soy Beverage in Cappucino – 200mL Lunchbox Mini

I love this drink! I’ve had their almond milk a lot, but I’d never tried their organic soy milk yet and I was not disappointed at all!

I’m not too sure what they’re priced at, but I’ve seen the Natur-a brand in all the major supermarkets!

GoGo Quinoa’s Quinoa Choco-Puffs (cocoa) (1 bowl sample) – $8 special for 450g

I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks really delicious. I’m starting to prefer puffed cereals and granola snacks over some heavier things, but I’m a bit worried that it’s too bitter for my liking since quinoa can be a little bitter and it uses cocoa powder.

Bonus points: it’s all organic ingredients!

Maison Orphée’s Unrefined Toasted Sesame Oil (50mL sample) – $9.99 for 500mL

I’ve never even thought about unrefined sesame oil until I opened the box and took a look at it!

Sesame oil has a much lower smoke point than other oils like canola and sunflower oils and it’s much more flavourful as well. That’s why you usually use sesame oil as a finisher or in salad dressing.

I am so planning on using this in a summery but spicy avocado and noodle salad dish!

Deep River Snacks’ Kettle Cooked Potato Chips in Original Salted (not in picture above, 28g bag) – $34.99USD for 80 small bags

These are made in the US in small batches to preserve quality and flavour.

It’s hard to mess up 3 ingredients, I’ll just say that! They’re absolutely delicious, but I don’t think I’m going to be buying that much anytime soon!

Little Life Box May 2014

IT JUST NEVER ENDS!

Mighty Leaf Tea’s Tea Pouches in Organic Spring Jasmine, Organic Breakfast and Organic African Nectar

Okay, there’s 3 little pouches inside that little pillow box and it’s absolutely adorable. I opened the pillow box way after this picture was taken and it’s far too dark for me to get a decent photo now!

Each of the pouches comes with its own brew time and the majority of the ingredients are organic as well! The pouches themselves are so soft and silken that it’s so luxurious to use.

I wish I could go into more detail, but their website has a great deal more information than I can fit into one post!

Camino Fine Chocolates – 12 assorted chocolates (full sized) $14.99

Camino’s a Canadian company dedicated to fair trade and organic products. They’re also pretty high end without having to go into a specialty chocolate shop! I’ve had their chocolates before and they’re really good and not too sweet.

This particular box has four flavours:

  1. Sea salt & caramel
  2. Espresso
  3. Orange & caramel
  4. Mint cream

I have no idea how this box is still unopened at the time of writing this blog post.

Sow Good’s 2-in-1 Natural Face & Body Polish (10mL sample) – $17.99 for 500mL

Not gonna lie… This both intrigues and confuses me. How does one polish your face and body?

It turns out that this is a gentle face and body exfoliator! Ohhhhhhhhh!

Even though it’s got a bunch of ingredients that I really have no idea what the hell they are, it’s been approved by the Natural Products Association. It apparently has a bunch of bamboo fibres inside to help exfoliate for better moisturizer retention.

It does work pretty well, too! I’m tempted to try and find it in Toronto for this Quebecois brand, but I may be too lazy to go searching… Or, I could ask the Monsieur to find me some the next time he visits his family in Quebec…

Palmetto Derma Coupon Code

Palmetto Derma is a skin care company that’s certified organic, paraben and sulfate free, 97.5% or more natural, tested only on humans and FDA approved! It offers a range of anti-aging products.

The coupon code is “LLB1” for 40% of the entire purchase!

Little Life Box May 2014Unfortunately, these two products came broken during transit!

Efffi gold Exclusive – $74.99 full sized

Its active ingredient is apparently made from synthetic snake venom, which I’m still not sure if I’ll ever be comfortable slathering on my face even if it’s enriched with jojoba oil, avocado oil and whatever hyaluronic acid is.

It originally comes from the Czech Republic, but if you’re interested, check out http://www.ecoton.ca for Canadian orders.

Pure-Le Liquid Greens in Mint (45mL sample)

The Pure-Le website is a terror to try and navigate, so I can’t tell how big the full sized product is or how much it costs! Since it warns me not to use it if the seal is broken, I’m not going to try it.

Little Life Box May 2014The bottle doesn’t actually tell me what it’s good for besides as a deodorant, even though it tells me to add 1tbsp of this chlorophyll to water 2 times daily.

Does it make my insides smell nice or something? I’m thoroughly confused…

~~

I contacted Little Life Box about the broken products and Joseph replied very quickly with a personal promo code for me to use for a monthly subscription! I’m definitely going to be using it!

Verdict: 4.5/5!   I’m really impressed with this box! The value is definitely there and I know I’m going to be eating most of it! Of course, I’m a little sad that a couple of the products broke in the mail, but the great customer service more than made up for it. This may very well turn into my go-to subscription box soon!

Did you get a Little Life Box? What did you think of it this month?

xoxo,

B.elle