I’m not generally much of an in-between kind of girl. My hair is black, or it’s white. (Or, currently, it’s black and magenta, which is, again, kind of serious looking, in a really fun and unserious way.) Either I’m working 20 days in a row, or I’m twiddling my thumbs for equally as long. I’m in love with and deeply attracted to extremes, in all facets of life. In line with my character, I vacillate between making the most ridiculously complex food ever, and the simplest. Lucky for you, dear reader, today I came up with a granola bar that is stupid easy and also AMAZINGLY tasty. Better yet, it’s gluten free, grain free, paleo, high protein, and vegan. These would be good with any nut or seed butter, but the chocolate Nuttzo adds a killer dessert-y flavor, plus a bunch of nutrients and omegas via flax seeds.
To make these awesome little guys, throw all of the below in a bowl, stir until combined, pour in a pan, and put in the fridge or freezer. Get back to it in an hour, cut into bars, and knock yourself the hell out never buying granola bars again.
1 cup nuts (I used raw almonds), whole or broken, doesn’t matter
1 cup coconut flakes (exchange for dried fruit if you don’t like coconut)
1 cup sprouted dried buckwheat (buckwheat is a seed, not a grain, fyi, and it’s now delightfully inexpensive sprouted and dried in the bulk section of health food stores)
3/4 cup chocolate Nuttzo
3/4 cup date puree (puree dates, or buy dates pureed)
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1/2 cup coconut nectar, honey, or maple syrup
3 scoops protein powder of choice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Like I said: mix together until it’s all gloppy and uniform, spread in a pan, and refrigerate. That’s it. If you have no patience, like me, put them in the freezer and they’ll be ready in a half hour. If you have patience, put them in the fridge and it’ll be more like an hour or two. Keep them in the fridge so they stay hard until eaten, or keep frozen if you plan on having one as a grab-n-go snack later in the day.
The buckwheat gives these a Rice Krispie treat texture, so I wouldn’t omit that, but beyond that you can basically change out any ingredients here you want to keep flavors current. Add dried fruit, add more nuts, change the nuts, change the protein powder, add cocoa powder, do whatever you want because you’re not baking these so you’ve got nothing to worry about. What you see is what you’ll get when you make the batter, only it will firm up a bit once cold. If by some change you add too much stuff and the mixture isn’t spreadable, just add more nut butter until it is, and taste to make sure they’re still sweet and salty enough.
The Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, CA is the West Coast’s largest health foods trade show. It’s been referred to as “CandyLand for adults,” and after attending, I agree heartily with that descriptor. We went Friday and we were planning on going back today, but unfortunately little Bill is not having a good weekend so we decided to stay home.
On Friday we visited only a fraction of the booths (it’s way too much to take in in one day), meaning my review here is missing the great bulk and majority of exhibitors, and merely highlights some of what stood out to me, both good and bad. I could have spent the entire day just in the basement, where they keep new products, as those were some of the most interesting ones. We are all familiar with Amy’s Organics (they had an entire cafe set up) and Zico coconut water, so it was much more interesting to me to see smaller and newer companies. It was also fascinating to learn how little or how much the demo reps for the brands knew about the people they were hired to present! Some were incredibly well-versed in their brands, while others didn’t have even a minimal clue about what they were trying to sell and couldn’t answer even the simplest questions.
My favorite new finds:
Comvita was sampling their manuka honey and olive leaf extract. They sell manuka honeys with 20+ umf levels, which are the highest you can generally find. Umf stands for unique manuka factor, and represents the level of antibiotic properties in the honey. Manuka honey is used by the Maori tribe of New Zealand, and has been used historically for its antibiotic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial qualities. It was even approved recently for use in hospitals to treat antbiotic-resistant MRSA, a terrible form of staph.
Comvita’s olive leaf extract liquid is unique in that it is made of fresh olive leaves, not dried like the capsules I take to keep Lyme in remission. It was peppermint flavored and while not tasty, was palatable. I plan on ordering it because it is more bioavailable than capsules, as well as more potent.
Inner-eco sells coconut kefir, which in the past I have found too awful tasting to ever get used to. I made it myself for a spell, but could never get past its vinegary smell and flavor. Through the addition of stevia and natural flavors, Inner-eco has rendered the very healthy probiotic beverage delightful. While I am not a fan of natural flavors in general, if they make coconut kefir tasty, I’m completely on board.
One brand I’d been looking forward to trying at the Expo was Swerve Sweeteners, which is a form of erythritol that they claim tastes as sweet as sugar; erythritol usually never gets beyond 70% sweetness. Alas, I never noticed their booth, but I did find Eco-BeeCo, a blend of erythritol, stevia, maltodextrin and honey with a pronounced honey flavor. I’m not very well read on maltodextrin, so I don’t have an opinion on it, but it’s good to know that there are options for cup-for-cup baking, especially with honey flavor. However, I couldn’t find any info about where they source the honey from on their site, so I am unlikely to buy this and am more just throwing it out there for people looking for other sugar free options besides the commercially popular TruVia.
Brands that I got fun samples from and enjoyed speaking with:
Redmond RealSalt, unlike Himalayan salt, is an American product. It comes from what was an ancient sea in Central Utah, and was discovered by Native Americans in 1959. It contains over 60 trace minerals, and I’ve been using it quite happily for about two years. When I say “Himalayan salt” in recipes, I mean RealSalt, I’ve just never bothered discussing it before. The adorable little shakers they gave away of it should be able to sway anyone! It’s cheaper than Himalayan salt, supports the American economy, and is equally healthful. And pink. Because, really, pink is important.
SunWarrior raw vegan protein powder is something I’d wanted to try for awhile, so the ability to both sample a pre-made shake as well as take a packet for later was fun. I enjoyed their shake a lot, and not just because it had banana in it and I’m completely sugar-starved on a candida cleanse. Yesterday morning I used the packet at home in a shake along with sugar-free So Delicious coconut milk, baby spinach, and ice. It is the first raw vegan protein I’ve found that isn’t chalky at all, and I definitely plan on ordering it from iHerb once I’m running low on my current powder. Pictured on top is an “ancient grains” granola that I unfortunately threw out the packaging for before photographing. And, of course, that’s Chessie giving it her seal (or, well, mouth) of approval.
While I’ve never used Mountain Rose Herbs before, now that I’ve scored a slew of awesome bumper stickers from them, I’m inclined to give them a try. Other ones I got where the typical “Support Organic Farmers,” “I <3 Herbs!” and “The Best Things in Life Are Organic.” The reps were friendly, and I wish they’d had some actual product samples.
Companies that would’ve been better served having reps who knew their products:
The first question that I, and several other attendees at this booth at the same time asked, was, “How is this product different from almond milk?” The reps for Victoria’s Kitchen had no idea what almond milk was, or how it was made. In fact, they didn’t even seem too sure what “almond water” was, either. The employee kept stating, “It has no milk,” as if almond milk contained dairy. This product is sugar water with almond flavoring. Not a health food in the slightest, this beverage contains 30 grams of sugar in a 16 oz bottle and has no nutritive value of any type.
We stopped at the futurebiotics booth wondering if the white kindey bean extract they had on display was for kidneys. (It isn’t, it’s a carb blocker.) We use this brand’s probiotic, and I recognized the packaging so I asked her a question about that product. The rep had no idea they even sold a probiotic supplement. Shouldn’t people at least be given a list of all the company’s supplements, even if only a few are on display?
These people were sampling their ActiveX protein bars they said were, “raw, vegan, and organic.” I looked at the ingredients after tasting a sample bc it seemed very not-raw, and the first ingredient was peanut butter. I asked, “Do you use jungle peanuts, since there is no such thing as raw peanut butter?” Peanuts contain aflatoxin, a mold that can only be removed through roasting. Jungle peanuts are the only type of peanut that don’t have that mold, and are therefore safe to eat raw, but you rarely find them in protein bars. The rep asked what a jungle peanut was, and I explained. He then said he didn’t know, but that I could ask the manufacturer. Upon closer look, the second ingredient was brown rice syrup, which is also a cooked ingredient. These bars may be organic, but they are certainly not raw in the slightest and should not be marketed as such. To make me dislike them further, their website just crashed my browser and I nearly had a heart attack when I got logged out of wordpress and thought I lost everything I typed so far on this blog. Aside: thanks, wordpress, for being so on top of auto-saving. You rock.
Whether or not these reps knew their products, I can’t say, because they were too busy ignoring us to even say hello. I tried interacting, but both women just stared at me blankly and didn’t speak. Though I have bought their products plenty in the past, I am a bit less inclined to do so now. They were speaking to one another when we walked up, but stopped as I stood there glancing at samples, so it wasn’t as if they were too engaged in their own conversation. The lack of response to my mentioning that I bought their crackers, and asking if it was ok to take a sample, was the opposite of how a business should behave. They did not say a single word in reply, though they looked right at me. I am your customer. Don’t you know that being too cool to do your job by interacting is going to make me choose a different brand of food next time I’m at the store?
The FrankenFood Award goes to:
I feel the same about this stuff as I do meat from a test tube: progresive idea, but creepy. EarthSpring Foods has found a way to get the estrogen out of soy, which is great, but again, creepy. They claim they also remove the phytates, or anti-nutrients, that regular soy is full of. I don’t personally eat soy, except in small doses of its fermented forms, because of both the phytates and estrogens it is so full of. So, if you are looking to feed the world soy, this may be a better alternative, and they have numerous forms of it including powder, paste, butter, milk and flour. But if you are just looking to eat food- regular, real, unadulterated food- you are probably best served avoiding this (as well as most other soy products).
My crowning jewel of the day:
Dr. Andrew Weil was a staple in my 1980s holistic home; my parents had his books, watched him on PBS, etc. He, along with Dr. Mercola, was one of the first medical doctors to publicize the need for integrative medicine. I’ve eaten at his restaurant as well, so seeing him there was a total starstruck moment. Ace insisted I get a photo with him, even though she and I both feel like hell lately and weren’t much in a picture mood. I also saw Cat Cora, but she was on her way out and the last thing I wanted to do was be invasive and stop her for a photo.
Because my brand wasn’t exhibiting this year, I feel like my attendance was a valuable lesson in how to properly exhibit and interact with customers. Next year I look forward to Rawk-n-Roll Cuisine hopefully being a vendor at ExpoWest, and plan on doing everything possible to emulate the brands I most enjoyed here.
Question: what looks like candy, tastes like candy, has three scrumptious layers that even chew like candy, but is a raw vegan protein powerhouse of nutrients?
It doesn’t have a name yet because I haven’t thought of one, but I LOVE IT LIKE CRAZY. I’d been wanting to make a raw candy bar for awhile, but was hesitant to just throw a bunch of nuts, sweetener, and coconut oil together and go to town. Instead, I decided to make something unique: a candy that would act like a normal, cooked, terrible-for-you treat while nourishing your body instead of damaging it. I’ve made two versions so far, since the first version was a little crumbly, but I think I actually like the first version better and am going to give a recipe that combines both experiments.
There are three layers to this delectable delight: a base with dried sprouted buckwheat as its main ingredient– hello, low-fat low-calorie crunchiness that’s remarkably similar in taste and texture to crisped rice!, a caramel-ish nutty/creamy middle layer, and a chocolate topping. There is also a DIRTY LITTLE SECRET in the base that I am almost ashamed to share because I am such a health food nutcase: I used flavored stevia in it. I resisted the temptation to buy flavored stevia for ages, but once I saw that both Jason Wrobel (a raw chef who makes super personality-filled uncooking videos) AND Whitney the “Eco-Vegan Gal” use it, I was like, what the hell, let’s take a walk on the wild side. Aside about my wild side: yes, flavored stevia is totally walking on the wild side to me. I generally eschew anything with natural flavors, and only use powdered stevia extract. I really am that phobic of processed food.
Keep in mind that even though there are oils and nuts in each layer of this, they are minimal compared to other raw candies, they are balanced by a lot of protein, omegas, and lack of sugar, and they are pretty much the healthiest, most nutritious oils and nuts you could– and SHOULD– eat. Please don’t be daunted by the sheer magnitude of ingredients; this takes about 1/2 an hour in total to make, you mostly just throw things into a bowl, and you can always leave some ingredients out if it seems overwhelming.
Recipe for the Tastiest Healthy Treat I’ve Ever Made (please use organic ingredients!)
Base: (all dry, non-seasoning ingredients except buckwheat can be omitted for anything else you prefer)
1 cup dried sprouted buckwheat
1/2 cup cacao nibs
3 tbls chia seeds
1/3 cup cococeps (you could sub cacao powder for this, but the mushrooms are good for you and you can’t taste em)
3/4 cup vanilla or chocolate protein powder (hemp, brown rice, pea, whey, whatever your favorite is)
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup goji berries
2 tbls cinnamon
3/4 tsp Himalayan salt
Mix the above together, then add:
1 tsp vanilla (powder or extract)
2 tbls hemp oil
2 droppers toffee flavored stevia
3 tbls coconut nectar, maple syrup, raw buckwheat honey, or agave
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
Mix again until it forms a crumbly batter- it will not get totally cohesive. If you want it totally cohesive and pasty, add more sweetener, nut butter or oil. Otherwise, mix until it sticks into clumps when you press on it, then press it into a baking pan (eight inch square or nine inch rectangular) and refrigerate. The next layer can be made as this layer cools.
Nutty/Creamy Middle Layer:
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup almond butter
1/4 cup lucuma powder
1/4 cup coconut nectar, maple syrup, raw buckwheat honey, or agave
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
Mix until uniform, then pour and spread over base layer. Base does not need to be totally cold. Make the top layer as this cools.
Chocolate Top Layer:
Have a mother who gives you scads of healthy chocolate every time you visit her, and cheat by melting some of the tasty nut-filled chocolate bark she gives you. In the event that you are unable to cultivate said parent whilst reading this recipe, the following will suffice:
1 cup melted cacao butter
1/2 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup coconut nectar, maple syrup, raw buckwheat honey, or agave
1 tsp powdered stevia
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Whisk until combined thoroughly, or put all ingredients except chopped nuts into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour atop other layers (they don’t have to be completely cold), let solidify, and refrigerate until hard.
Slice into any size chunks you’d like (I like 1-2 inch squares), and beware that unless you are out giving it to friends, you are probably going to eat this entire batch in about a week. Thankfully you won’t have to feel badly about it, because it’s made of whole raw foods, lots of protein, and a pretty modest amount of fats and sugars. Take that, Snickers. This tastes better, and it wouldn’t even dream of giving you diabetes.
Beverly Hills’ best kept secret is not that it houses the headquarters of FreezeTheFat.com (seriously, wtf IS that?), or its real botulism-injected housewives. Rather, it is a shop called Dragon Herbs, with which I am currently head-over-herbal-heels in love. Situated on Robertson Blvd. between 3rd St. and Wilshire, this Chinese herb and tonic shop has incredible and high-quality products.
Spring Dragon Longevity tea- one tea bag makes 3 cups, and the box of 20 bags is $9 or less
The first product I got here was the above tea, and I felt like I was on some seriously lovely, yet mild, drugs all afternoon and evening. Sadly, it hasn’t made me feel that crazy high since, but it has completely changed my world for the better… and, better yet, it has allowed me to completely drop the caffeine addiction I recently picked up. I’d been having some major issues with low-energy, and was up to coffee twice a day, which I hated. As soon as I started drinking this tea, I stopped craving caffeine. It’s adaptogenic, which means it actually helps your body function systemically, it doesn’t just give it a temporary boost that will then leave you depleted later, a la caffeine.
The pills that knocked my cold straight into cold heaven
The first herbal pills I got from Dragon were a complex called Activated Minor Bupleurum, which cost about $20. I’d had a nasty cold for about four days which nothing was helping, with “nothing” being outrageous amounts of vitamins c and d, olive leaf extract, etc. Got this bottle in the early afternoon, felt pretty much fine by evening. The next day I hacked out all the phlegm that had been in my sinuses, and that was that. I was fine. I have never, ever recovered so quickly from an illness! I continued taking it for another day or two, then shelved it so it can hopefully ward off the next bug that tries to attack me.
It really is Tao in a bottle, and it won't even set you back $30.
Duuuuuuuuude. This complex is the most effective chill pill EVER. I have a tendency, especially since my hormones got all thrown off a few months ago, to be a touch of a stresscase. I’ve acquired a ridiculous habit of, all weekend long, pointing out the time to my spouse, as if we have somewhere to be even when we don’t. Marijuana helps, but I’m just not that into that anymore, so she has been stuck hearing all day long about what time it is and how much time has elapsed since last I told her what time it was, and how long it is until we have to be somewhere, if we even do. And if we don’t, I tell her how long it’ll be till somewhere we are vaguely considering going closes. Enter Tao in a Bottle, and exit my giving a hoot about wtf time it is. I am going to the shop today to buy a bottle of this for my parents, because guess where I got that stresscase trait from?!
The manager of Dragon Herbs is named Susan, and she has recently spent a good deal of time with my spouse and I, helping us figure out what would be right for our bodies and needs. She’s quite intuitive, and can also read your health problems alarmingly well just by looking at you. I’ve also begun taking two more complexes, one for building my apparently weak/low blood and one for my poor trashed hormones, but all that takes far longer to fix than a cold, so I don’t have an opinion yet on those herbs. Their products are also available on iHerb.com, and a couple are available on VitaCost.com, but they aren’t particularly discounted on either, so if you are in the area, and have been needing to get your fill of the Ivy and Les Habitudes (which, incidentally, is where my $10,000 dream wedding dress lives), stop by Dragon Herbs and let them make your day a whole lot brighter. (If you’re not local, http://www.DragonHerbs.com is the site and they include very thorough descriptions of all products. There is also a location in Santa Monica.)