Tasting Box – August 2014

Like usual, I got my Tasting Box a couple days after I ordered it. And, of course, it takes me over a week to get this review out!

Here’s the August Tasting Box! This month, they put in a whopping 7 products!

What is it?

Tasting is believing! The TASTING BOX includes 5 scrumptious tastes to enjoy, made by our favourite Canadian small batch food artisans and delivered directly to your door – a different box each month.  The TASTING BOX is the perfect opportunity to discover and sample the culinary talents right in our own backyard! Only 50 TASTING BOXES are available each month, so order yours today!

It’s $14.95 + shipping for a box, so people in Ontario and Quebec get it for around $22 or so after tax.

Tasting Box August 2014

Made with Local’s Peanut Butter Blondie (Dartmouth, NS) – $22 for 8 bars, $2.75 per bar

Omgosh, peanut butter blondies! It’s definitely not a health product or an energy bar of any sort, but I’m actually pretty excited to see a fully packaged bar that’s just for indulgence. Not to mention, it’s made out of oats, peanut butter and chocolate! (I LOVE PEANUT BUTTER.)

I love seeing new products coming out from the Maritimes, especially products made with local ingredients!

Stone Milled Specialty Grains’ Buckshots Snack Pack (Oak Bluff, MB) – $35 for case of 25, $1.60 each

I’m actually not too sure how to eat this since the buckshots are tiny little pellets of grains. It says I can snack on it directly, but it feels really awkward trying to eat a handful of this at a time since they’re so small!

It says that you can put it in your cereal, so I might just use this in a couple bowls of oatmeal in the next couple mornings. It should be interesting to see what Smokey BBQ breakfast oatmeal will taste like!

Wholly Noggin Bars in Walnut Blueberry (West Vancouver, BC) – $41.98 for case of 12 bars, $3.50 each

This bar is made out of all organic and natural ingredients, so it’s actually incredibly dense and kind of crumbly. Just a bite of this bar contains so much energy and chewy goodness, but I still think it’s too hard!

It has a very distinct nutty scent and flavour, along with some notes of banana that I really didn’t like. It’s not that good tasting, in my opinion, but it might be good for vegans or those on the Paleo diet.

Tasting Box August 2014

Ohmbars’ Lemon Cranberry Poppy Energy Bars (Ottawa, ON) – $33.48 for 12 bars, $2.79 per bar

I got a bit hungry right after I took these pictures but I still had dinner to eat, so I quickly grabbed this bar to munch on first.

See, I totally didn’t notice that the Ohmbars are primarily made out of date paste or else I would’ve given this to my best friend since she LOVES dates! I’m not a huge fan, but I actually quite liked this one. It wasn’t crazy dense like a lot of other date bars, but it still got pretty stuck in my teeth after I finished it.

The sweetness was at a good level, and both lemon and cranberry flavours were pretty balanced out with each other!

(PS – Very punny name. Love it!)

inner-J Bars’ Lemon Goji Berry Coconut Bars (Toronto, ON) – $11.99 for 3 bars, $41.99 for 12 bars

I think Tasting Box sent out a couple samples from J-Bars before and it looks like they’ve gone through a major packaging overhaul! It looks a lot better than the clear plastic resealable bags that they were using before.

Tasting Box August 2014

GORP Clean Energy Bar in Cocoa, Hemp & Almond (Niverville, MB) – $49.70 for 16 bars, $3.10 per bar

This bar has a really neat marketing spin since the GORP part of the label is actually a sticker that you can use to reseal the packet!

It’s really delicious with the bitter cocoa balancing out the sweetness from the rice syrup and the chocolate chips, but I think 65g is a bit big for a bar! Although I think the sticker is to help you save some for later.

SIPsoda EAST’s Natural Craft Soda in Lavender Lemon Peel (Vaughn, ON) – $40 for 24 bottles, $1.67 per bottle

I wasn’t too sure what to expect out of a lavender lemon peel drink, but I’m actually quite enjoying it! The bubbles aren’t too aggressive and the sweetness level is just right as a flavoured soda. The lavender notes aren’t too strong, but it definitely has a faint sense of drinking potpourri.

Verdict: 4/5 There wasn’t a lot of variety in the box with so many energy bars, but I really enjoyed how most of them tasted! I’ve also been eyeing the SIPsoda for a while, but it costs too much to get them shipped from BC, so I was very happy to get a bottle in my box!

Did you get the August Tasting Box? What did you think about it?

xoxo,

B.elle

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Clif Bar – Peanut Butter Crunch

The last bar I tried was the Clif Bar! It’s so well known that I simply had to take one and try it out for myself!

Courtesy of Clif Bars

 

Clif Bar in Peanut Butter Crunch – $1.99 (68g per bar)

Ingredients:

*Brown rice syrup, protein blend (soy rice crisps [soy protein isolate, rice flour, barley malt extract], *soy flour, *roasted soybeans), *rolled oats, *cane syrup, *peanut butter (*peanuts, salt), peanut flour, crunch pieces (apple pomace, *oat fibre, *milled flaxseed, inulin [chicory extract]), *fig paste, peanuts, natural flavours, sea salt.

*Organic, certified Organic by QAI

The Clif Bar definitely has the best value for the couple dollars you spend! It has the lowest price point of all the bars I picked out AND it’s the biggest one of them all, too!

It actually didn’t taste too bad, too! It wasn’t grainy or too sweet and it actually filled me up nicely without weighing me down.

I actually picked up a box of Clif Bars in White Chocolate Macadamia Nut at Whole Foods for about $17 (go sales!) and I’m really enjoying the whole lineup although I think the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut flavour is a lot sweeter than Peanut Butter Crunch!

Verdict: 4.5/5 Clif Bars are delicious, they sustain your energy and they’re very reasonably priced for gourmet-type energy bars even when they’re not on sale! The only thing that would make the Peanut Butter Crunch better would be some chocolate…

xoxo,

B.elle

Little Life Box – June 2014

Look what I got in the mail this week!

Little Life Box June 2014

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. You also have the option of choosing either the Original box or the Vegan box!

As you can tell, the box is quite full again and it’s got a pretty good variety of things inside. I’m much more food-oriented in general, but I do enjoy how Little Life Box includes things for the bathroom and a little “me maintenance”!

I didn’t know this before, but I found out that they actually list the products on their website instead of sending out a card. That’s actually pretty smart considering everyone’s connected to their computer and it definitely saves on some packaging material, too! It’d be awesome if Little Life Box released an app with the monthly product list for more convenience, though.

Let’s take a closer look at what was inside.

Neolia’s Hydra-Prevention Soap (1 bar, 90g) – $2.99 for 130g

Neolia’s not a brand I’ve heard of, but they’re a Quebecois brand that’s dedicated to offering vegan, cruelty-free, gentle and biodegradable hair and body care products. I can get behind that!

I do like to try out different, natural soaps and this one has a pretty nice smell to me, too! It’s made with organic Extra Virgin Italian olive oil and aloe vera, and it’s completely vegan.

I really can’t wait to try this, but it looks like I’ll have to order online if I want to get it again since it’s only available in Quebec retailers! (Or get my brother to cross into Gatineau to grab me a couple more bars.)

Neolia’s Protective Shampoo and Conditioner (10mL each sachet) – $7.99 for 400mL

They’re both part of the Protective line for hair, so I mashed them into one category.

They’re not an organic product, but they’re made with organic apricot oil, if that really means anything in terms of hair products! They also feature blueberries, honey, omega 9s, and vitamins A and C. I know they’re healthy when you eat them, but does it really do anything for hair, I wonder…?

The Protective products are for coloured hair, so these two will go to my mom!

Neolia’s Hydra-Prevention Body Lotion (10mL sachet) – $10.99 for 500mL

Another Neolia product! I’m guessing that they struck a deal with them, but I’m happy to be able to try out a whole assortment of their products!

Like the soap, this body lotion is made with organic Extra Virgin Italian olive oil and aloe vera. I don’t think I’ll try to see if it’ll work on sunburns, though… (I’m not a fan of tanning or burning.)

ALo Naturals’ Organic Lip Balm in Original – $6, Full sized

I couldn’t find the size of the lip balm anywhere, but it’s a pretty normal size. It’s even got a pretty lotus design on the cap!

The ALo line comes in 5 different flavours and the original one contains vitamins A, B, D, E, collagen and protein. It has a pleasant, faint shea butter scent to it that I actually like quite a bit!

I’m going to keep this in my bag since my EOS is almost finished and see how this compares!

Smooth and Sweet Sugar Scrub’s Vanilla Swirl Body Scrub – $16.00 for 8oz

I have no idea how much they sampled out for each person because it’s in a little condiment cup that you’d get in a small restaurant. It looks like a VERY new company from what I can see, but that means it’s so much more exciting to see how it is!

The company, created by Jennifer B Christianson, promises no sulfates, no dyes, no parabens and all natural, gluten free, vegan, organic products. They also claim that it has a UV protection of 6-8.

On top of all that, the scrub supposedly helps with a variety of skin problems and helps to prevent and heal future skin damage. With all of these claims, I’d love to know what they use, but I can’t seem to find anything!

Beanfields’ Bean & Rice Chips in Pico de Gallo – 43g snack size

I’m usually very, very hesitant to try out bean and/or rice chips because I don’t like the grainy textures that come with these types of flour. They just don’t have the same type of bite that corn or potato chips have!

But, Beanfields does a fantastic gluten-free chip that delivers impeccable taste, too! I’ll have to say it: I’m converted!

SierraSil Joint Formula 14 (45 capsules) – $19.95, full sized

Wasn’t that Canadian curling MILF a spokesperson for this brand at some point?

Anyway, another supplement pill? Is this a regular thing because I really don’t care for these things. Plus, my joints don’t ache, they pop!

In all seriousness, this is what’s stated on SierraSil’s website:

SierraSil Joint Formula14™ contains SierraSil®, a pure mineral powder with essential minerals including calcium, iron, silicon, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc.

If any of those things are useful to you, then why not try it?

Four O’Clock Caffeine-Free Tea Bags (2 bags)

They sent us two different flavours: Pineapple Coconut and Fruit Sangria! They’re both part of the new Spring/Summer Collection that includes:

  • Pineapple Coconut
  • Fruit Sangria
  • Strawberry Daiquiri
  • Cucumber Mint
  • Orange Sorbet
  • Pink Lemonade

They all sound delicious! I tried out the Fruit Sangria variation and it’s surprisingly light in flavour, but very well rounded.

Spice Sanctuary’s Organic Alleppey Grade Turmeric Powder (50g) – $7.25 full size

I was really surprised to see a whole packet of a single spice in my box! I’m not complaining since I always intend to pick up some turmeric at the bulk spice store, but I never actually remember to do so when I’m there.

It’s good to see that this Ontario company also takes the time to give a little background information about the spice on their website. I never really knew that curcumin’s the spice that makes turmeric so yellow!

Nature’s Bakery’s All Natural Fig Bar in Strawberry – 28.3g bar

Look, another energy bar type of thing on the blog! As if I haven’t had enough of them, right? Haha!

It’s a fig bar with some strawberry puree in it, so it sounds pretty delicious! It’s made out of 100% natural, dairy-free ingredients, but it’s also made with stone ground whole wheat flour, so celiacs beware.

It’s also a bit small for an energy bar, in my opinion. I’m guessing that it’s more for short journeys or a small pit stop in between, but that would really rack up the dollars at that point!

Seriously, Little Life Box has a lot of stuff…

Eat Nakd Raw Fruit & Nut Bar in Cocoa Orange (35g bar) – £13.99 for 18 bars

This brand comes from the UK, but it’s pretty widely available in Canada through the Sobeys and Metro chains as well as a lot of smaller retailers! Check out the list here!

I love how they list all five ingredients (dates, cashews, raisins, cocoa and natural orange and chocolate flavouring) along with the percentages on the back of the label. According to this, the bar’s 40% dates and 40% cashews! That’s pretty cool! (And very useful for reverse engineering for homemade recipes…)

Now, I’m seeing a lot of gluten free items and keeping an eye on the gluten-free trend and how it’s seen as a healthy lifestyle choice. This bar is one of those examples where gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean completely healthy… One bar has 7g of fat in it, which is 11% of your total daily intake. Yikes.

Neal Brothers Srirachup Kettle Cooked Chips – (28g bag)

I heard that Chef Chuck Hughes was doing a chip with Neal Brothers and OMG SRIRACHA CHIPS!

In case you haven’t noticed, I LOVE THE ROOSTER SAUCE OF THE HEAVENS. Like many foodies and chefs out there, I love using sriracha sauce in every situation where a condiment calls for it.

Hot dogs? Sriracha drizzle. Salad dressing? Ramp that shit up with some sriracha. Fried noodles? Damn right, some sriracha’s going on it!

So it’s only natural for Chef Hughes to gravitate towards that flavour to make into a chip with the Neal Brothers brand, which makes some really incredible kettle chips for a decent price!

It doesn’t taste exactly like the legendary sriracha sauce, but it definitely delivers a tasty kick with its signature garlic-tomato-chili flavour! I’m gonna have to grab a bag next time I’m doing my groceries!

Lakanto No-Calorie Sugar Substitute (4g packet) – $12.99 for 235g

It’s been a pretty big food trend lately where everyone’s looking for a sugar substitute that provides the same amount of sweetness, but without the calories or the glycemic index. Personally, I don’t see the trend dying off anytime soon but I’m somehow still not a fan of sugar substitutes because I don’t have a big sweet tooth like most other Canadians.

Anyway, Lakanto’s sugar substitute is made out of erythritol (a sugar alcohol that’s derived from glucose and sweet but without the calories or glycemic index) and Luo Han Guo, more commonly known as monkfruit.

I was actually doing some research on monkfruit as a sugar substitute for work! The fruit itself is grown only in a certain region of China and its potency is similar to stevia, but it doesn’t have a strange aftertaste like stevia. (Some people can taste it, others can’t. I can taste it pretty strongly.)

It’s interesting to note that the use of monkfruit essence as a sugar substitute has been approved by Health Canada on December 2, 2013. In terms of food manufacturing and regulations, this is a brand new product in the Canadian market!

Verdict: 4/5  It’s another winner! I don’t like how there’s another supplement product in the box, even though it’s full sized, and two energy bars in one box feels a bit repetitive, but I can definitely see myself using all of these products by the time the next one comes! I’ve already eaten both bags of chips…

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

xoxo,

B.elle

LARABAR – Peanut Butter (Cookie)

One thing I love about Toronto is that there’s these huge, sprawling parks and trails that twist through the city and it’s so nice to go for a hike on some less-traveled roads without going too far.

I kind of went the wrong way on my hike and ended up on the wrong side of the city, but luckily, I brought my two last energy bars!

Larabar Peanut ButterLARABAR Fruit & Nut Energy Bar – Peanut Butter (Cookie) – $2.00 (48g per bar)

Ingredients:

Dates, dry roasted peanuts, peanut butter (peanuts, sea salt).

I’m looking at my receipt now and I’m pretty sure I got a couple of these things on sale, so the pricing’s going to be off by a little bit!

I really like how LARABARs are made with maximum 9 ingredients across their gigantic product line! And, they’re committed to using non-GMO ingredients as a standard.

The reason why there’s brackets in the title is because LARABAR has two different names for the same product. In the US, it’s called “Peanut Butter Cookie” while it’s just “Peanut Butter” in Canada.

In case you’re wondering, it’s because the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada has labelling practices that stop companies from falsely advertising their products. In this particular case, LARABAR can’t state “Cookie” in Canada because there’s no cookie element in the bar!

The bar was kind of crushed in my bag because I was carrying it around with my giant water bottle, so it actually fell apart when I opened it! Half the bar crumbled onto the ground before I could react and I was legitimately sad!

But, when I took a bite out of the LARABAR, I was actually a little disappointed. The taste was definitely there and it had good sweetness levels, but the texture was lacking somewhat. It was crumbly and a little bit gritty from the date puree.

In my experience, LARABAR’s made itself a pretty hardcore following across North America. I never grew up with dates or figs, so I’m not as fond of these fruits as others and I’m not as enthusiastic about LARABARs as some other people I know.

Verdict: 2.5/5 It’s not the most appealing energy bar I’ve had and it didn’t really sustain me as much as the others, but that’s probably because I only had half the bar due to my clumsiness! Even though it’s not the best, it still tastes pretty good!

xoxo,

B.elle

Vega Sport’s Vegan Protein Bar – Chocolate Peanut Butter

I tried another energy bar after parkour and this time, it’s Vega Sport’s Vegan Protein Bar in Chocolate Peanut Butter!

 

Vega Sport’s Vegan Protein Bar – Chocolate Peanut Butter – $3.69 (60g per bar)

Ingredients:

Complete protein blend (organic sprouted whole grain brown rice protein, pea protein), dark chocolate coating (organic cane sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin), organic tapioca syrup, organic brown rice syrup, organic peanut butter, organic peanuts, Vega saviseed (sacha inchi) oil, inulin (from chicory root), brown rice crisps, organic peanut flour, organic agave syrup, sea salt, organic peanut extract, sunflower lecithin.

The Vega brand (@VegaTeam on Twitter and just Vega on Facebook) claims that there’s 15g of complete, plant-based protein in each bar, 2.5g of BCAAs (branched chain amino acids; think of simple and complex carbohydrate chains but with amino acids), 2g of glutamine for quicker muscle and immune system recovery, and 1g of omega-3 proteins.

What’s even better is that the bar’s entirely vegan!

Sweet, but aren’t most bars vegan? I haven’t seen a bar with milk products in a while, but I’m guessing the production line they have doesn’t come into contact with animal products at all!

The Vega Sport Protein Bar is specifically marketed under their Recovery line with their powdered proteins, so it’s good that I remembered to bring it along to my training session!

The chocolate covering on this bar wasn’t so much of a surprise for me since it actually has a picture of the bar on the wrapper. I’m blind, but I’m not THAT blind to miss that little fact. The chocolate was a touch more bitter than the SoLo bar, which is kind of surprising since they only use chocolate liquor in their coating.

The texture was really similar to the SoLo bar, but it was a little bit more crunchy due to the brown rice crisps and because they used sprouted brown rice and pea proteins instead of soy proteins.

The peanut butter flavour was absolutely decadent when paired up with the dark chocolate coating and it really took away most of my fatigue within half an hour of eating it!

But, even though it’s a slightly larger bar than the others, it costs $3.69 per 60g bar. Compared to SoLo’s $2.50 for 50g bar, it’s a bit of an issue!

Verdict: 4/5 Vega’s vegan recipe really works well, the taste is absolutely delicious and it’s much more readily available than lesser known brands like SoLo, but the extra dollar per bar would add up and get out of control really quickly.

xoxo,

B.elle

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