Tag Archives: Product Reviews

Ditching Dairy? See Our Side-by-Side Comparison of Popular Milk Substitutes

Allergies, sensitivities, and avoidance of animal products are some of the most common reasons that people choose alternatives to the traditional cow’s milk. While raw milk and goat’s milk are growing in popularity, they do not eliminate the majority of problems with allergies, sensitivities, and avoidance of animal products. Courtney Hardy shared, “I started drinking non-cows milk after a series of allergy shots where I found out I was allergic to cottonseed. I am not allergic to dairy nor am I lactose intolerant, but since dairy cows are fed a grain mixed with cottonseed it comes through their milk.”

I stopped drinking cows milk when I was fairly young; I just didn’t enjoy it at all. I still used it for cooking, until I decided to limit the dairy in my diet to see if my allergies and sinus issues could be resolved. Recently, I have been comparing milk substitutes to determine what would work best for my family. Real Food University provides a very handy comparison chart that compiles and compares the nutritional information in an eight ounce serving. An eight ounce serving of whole milk contains 146 calories, 8 grams of fat, 13 grams of sugars, 8 grams of protein, 28% calcium, and 0% iron.

Soy

I did not consider soy milk because soy is a growing allergen. It’s been suspected that more and more people are showing allergies to soy as a result of the increase in genetically modified soy. I have read that soy can inhibit the absorption of protein which may persuade others to avoid soy milk as well. An eight ounce serving of soy milk contains 105 calories, 4 grams of fat, 9 grams of sugars, 30% calcium, and 6% iron. (more…)

Get Paid for Working Out with Earndit

Finally, my kind of exercising. Instead of rewarding myself with an ice cream that will cancel out any calories I’ve just burned, Earndit rewards its users with free stuff!

Earndit works in tandem with fitness trackers to gauge how much physical activity you’ve done, convert that to points, and then let you redeem those points for rewards. The rewards aren’t half bad, either: a $35 gift card to women’s workout clothing shop Body Rock Sport, a $15 gift card to Peeled Snacks, or a $50 gift card to the men’s clothing line Bonobos are among the choices. Or, for philanthropists, get rewarded with charity gifts that allow you to purchase a polio vaccine for a child in India or send a care package to U.S. troops. However, the prizes are mostly fitness related, like workout apparel, healthy snacks, and supplements. (more…)

Healthy Surprise Delivers a Bounty of Vegan Snacks Each Month

Healthy Surprise is a company that ships out gluten-free, vegan, and raw snacks to the door steps of their subscribers. Founder Joe Winke stumbled upon the idea of sending healthy snacks to people after a friend sent him healthy food in the mail for his birthday. Who knew that making an assortment of healthy snacks and putting them in boxes would be a hit?

The snacks range from nuts to granola bars and cookies. You can find them in larger grocery stores or at your local health food store, and certainly online.

Joe and other “snackologists” try all of the snack items before they are placed in the boxes. Since people are particularly fond of kale, Healthy Surprise tries to send kale snacks every month in the boxes, but the rotation of different snack items changes monthly because they want subscribers to receive a healthy surprise each month! (more…)

Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies Taste Like a Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie

We’re always looking for new, healthy treats to satisfy our sweet tooth, and Fiber One has delivered once again with their 90 calorie brownie bars. The health-minded company sent us a sample of their newest 90 calorie bar flavor – chocolate chip cookie – and we gave it a thorough investigation to see if it was up to our healthy standards.

For the most part these bars really are pretty good for you. Upon reading the nutrition label, we noticed that each bar contained just 90 calories, 3 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein. Considering that this is a pre-packaged cookie, the statistics aren’t bad. (more…)

The Biggest Loser SlimCoach is an Ideal Gadget for Monitoring Fitness

Biggest Loser contestants have always donned a gadget on their arms, tracking their every move through more than eight hours of exercise each day. This season, the device was seemingly gone. Trust that it’s still there, it’s just discreetly hiding underneath their T-shirts.

The SlimCoach is tiny enough to fit in the palm of your hand, and when clipped under your shirt to a pocket or waist band can barely be noticed. It’s practically weightless, in fact, that smartphone you lug everywhere weighs more.

The SlimCoach offers minimal data from the device, but when synced with your computer and an online dashboard you’ll get a lot of valuable information about your calorie burn and consumption and your progress toward a weight loss goal. On the face of the device is a circle that lights up red at the start of your day. As you progress through the day, whether walking or running, it shows your calorie burn by lighting up green. The goal is to get a solid green circle, which means you’ve met your goal for the day.

I spent some time wearing the SlimCoach and quickly felt I was in a competition with myself. I was going out of my way to move just to make sure that circle turned green. For instance, I stood to fold the laundry instead of sitting, and I was more inclined to hop/run down the stairs. I wasn’t obsessive, but I definitely checked in periodically. With a click to the center of the circle I could see my progress. Barely at half green by noon? Not good enough! I had to keep moving. (more…)

We Love Honest Tea’s Not Too Sweet Tea

Is there anything better than sweet tea on a hot summer day? We think not. And in anticipation of warmer weather just around the corner, this week we love Honest Tea’s Not Too Sweet Tea.

Honest Tea is a bottled tea company based in Maryland that specializes in organic, lower calorie, lower sugar bottled beverages. Some of their most popular products include Honest Kids organic thirst quenchers and their line of ready-to-drink bottled teas.

We not only love that Honest Tea produces quality teas with fair trade, organic ingredients. But that they’re also forging new paths as one of the most socially and environmentally responsible companies in their industry.

Honest Tea’s Not Too Sweet Tea is a lower sugar version of an old favorite brewed with organic black tea leaves and sweetened with just a touch of organic cane sugar and organic stevia. Each 16.9 oz. bottle contains 25 grams of sugar and 100 calories.

And how does it taste? Refreshing, delicious and not too sweet, just as they claim. I split open a couple bottles with my husband and a few friends and everyone agreed that if they were to opt for a sweet tea, this would be the one they’d choose. (more…)

We Love BOLD Organics Gluten-Free Frozen Pizzas

BOLD Organics made a skeptic a believer, so now we love BOLD Organics Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Pizzas.

The tag line for these pizzas reads, “Pizza lovers can finally enjoy a delicious and healthy frozen pizza.” Three major red flags stood in my way to believing this. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and healthy rarely equal good taste. As a lactose intolerant, gluten sensitive eater, I’ve gotten excited one too many times over these claims when it comes to a new product. Typically my experience with these restricted foods has been very unpleasant. I’ve often felt I was eating wallpaper paste and cardboard.

However, when the chance to try these pizzas came my way, I thought I’d give them a shot, hoping that maybe someone could prove me wrong.

I read the back story about the company before I sampled. Aaron Greenwald is the founder of BOLD Organics. He has struggled to find decent health food, especially gluten-free and dairy-free foods. My ears were perked. Then I learned that Greenwald brought Chef Eric Brenner on board to perfect his recipes. Together the two created a frozen pizza with claims unlike any other- healthy, organic ingredients, and great tasting alternatives to insure all pizzas are gluten-free and dairy-free.

The pizzas come in four flavors: Vegan cheese pizza, veggie lovers pizza, meat lovers pizza, and deluxe pizza. All four flavors have been made with ingredients that are very high quality for any pizza, especially a frozen pizza. Greewald and Brenner claim they searched the country for the best flavors and the highest health benefits. Their pizzas include items such as organic roasted red peppers, organic roasted yellow onions, and shiitake mushrooms. For non-vegan consumers, they chose the leanest and nitrate-free meats available on the market.
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Review: Skinny Cow Dreamy Clusters Can Fit in Your Diet

There’s a new candy popping up next to grocery check-out stands and it comes from Skinny Cow. Just because a brand markets itself as “healthier” doesn’t always mean that it is. So before you shrug off a Twix fix for a seemingly “better” candy bar, we wanted to look below the wrapper and get the real skinny.

A one-ounce portion of traditional Turtle candies sold at the check-out weighs in with 510 calories! Yikes! That’s more than we’d recommend for an entire meal. The Skinny Cow Dreamy Clusters have far less with 120 calories for that same portion.

Our dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD, took a look at the Skinny Cow Dreamy Clusters and was glad to see a noticeable difference in the two candies. “It’s like the regular version is four or five times worse. But, Skinny Cow managed to keep the fiber. Go figure.” Both candies have three grams of fiber, not something you’d usually find on junk food ingredient labels. (Compare that to a similar candy, Snickers, which has only .5 grams of fiber for a one-ounce serving.) (more…)

Nutrisystem Chef’s Table Meals Impress Our Taste Testers and Dietitian Alike

Just days before the new year Nutrisystem announced its new program, Nutrisystem Success, and a new spokesperson, Janet Jackson. With a focus on fresher, higher quality foods and updated dietary guidance, we were immediately interested in finding out for you what was really going on in those little frozen boxes.

We haven’t always been generous in our reviews of the Nutrisystem product. Shelf-stable, packaged, processed foods that sometimes leave little more to be desired than a freeze-dried, just-add-water hamburger or hotdog didn’t exactly send us on a path of praise. So believe us when we say we’re very impressed with Nutrisystem’s Chef’s Table line, part of Nutrisystem Success.

Nutrisystem Success is a refreshing change to what’s expected of their product. When the large cooler showed up at my office I knew we were headed in the right direction. Inside, packed in dry ice, were the seven Chef’s Table meals. The cooler is how each Nutrisystem Success customer receives their meals. I’d already heard quite a bit about them during my previous interview with Michael Solomonov, one of the five premiere chefs who created these new meals for the brand.

“With the guidance of the educated people at Nutrisystem, we’re highly motivated to make the best possible food for people to diet, lose weight, and keep it off,” Solomonov told us. He credits the expertise, creativity, and high level of technology the chefs were working with to allow them to come up with meals that inspire great change for Nutrisystem.

Each meal comes in a well-designed box, as any frozen meal would, and includes a brief profile of the chef who created it. On the Chef’s Table Moroccan Inspired Chicken package you’ll find Michael Solomonov; it’s a meal Nutrisystem users have already given four out of five stars. The technology he speaks of is a steamer bag that simulates poaching. “We can extract as much flavor as possible with lower sodium and fat that are low on the glycemic index,” notes Solomonov.

LIVE TASTE TEST

We brought in taste testers to give the Nutrisystem Success Chef’s Table meals a try. They were given no information other than the instruction to share their brutally honest opinions. Our taste testers were a trio of sisters who stair step in ages from 49 to 52. One is married, one is engaged, and one is single. Each works a full-time job; two have adult children. Two of them have used Nutrisystem previously; all of them have tried a variety of diets. A few months ago they challenged one another to a weight loss challenge, so they seemed like the perfect people to try these meals.

We met on a Sunday afternoon, just in time for everyone to be hungry for lunch. And they were! Following the package instructions, we placed each meal in the microwave for about five minutes. Unlike typical frozen meals, these don’t come with trays inside, the food is just neatly arranged inside the steamer bags. We placed each bag on a plate and had to carefully open them (if you pick it up like a bag of popcorn you’ll have a mess and disarrayed meal on your hands). This was especially true of the Butternut Squash ravioli, which was quite messy and happened to be the least-liked meal, with a score of 1.6.

On a scale of 1-5, the meals received an average score 3.4 from our taste testers. Their near unanimous favorites were the Arroz Con Pollo with a 4.6 score, and the Adobo Pork (which was also our favorite) with a 4.3 score.

We were all immediately struck by the aroma of the meals, which filled the entire house. In almost every instance the food perfectly matched the pictures on the boxes. They didn’t appear processed or of low quality; instead, the food looked as fresh as possible and we were glad to see that it tasted that way too. Fresh herbs and spices were very noticeable. Our taste testers made frequent mention of the generous portions – you didn’t have to go hunting for meat or pieces of sweet potato or other vegetables. By the end, each of our taste testers said they felt full and satisfied. They unanimously agreed that they would recommend these meals to others.

See this slideshow for a look at their review, scores, and comments on each of the seven Chef’s Table meals.

View Nutrisystem Chef's Table Review Slideshow

NUTRITIONAL PROFILE

After our taste testers were more than satisfied, we handed the packages over to our resident dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD. Overall, Mary says that the Nutrisystem Success Chef’s Table meals are “fine” and “okay.”

In almost all cases the meals matched her criteria for healthy frozen foods:

< 250 Calories
< 7g Fat
< 2g Saturated Fat
< 350 mg Sodium
> 2g Fiber
<7g Sugar

“These meals are basically OK, although the beef and ricotta have a bit too much sodium and saturated fat, as would be expected for those foods,” she said. Too much sodium was the biggest offender for exceeding those benchmarks. Surely they aren’t using it for flavor, because all of the herbs, spices, and produce offer plenty of that on their own.

Within the ingredient lists themselves, nothing stood out to us as alarming. In fact, we were quite impressed with the simplicity of the ingredients. As Mary noted, “I don’t see any unsafe ingredients such as artificial colorings, BHA, or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.” The ingredient lists might look lengthy, but Mary says it’s only because they spell out the sub-ingredients.

“I approve and do not see any red flags,” is her final thought. “These foods are fine for those that like them, and they are much better than the old Nutrisystem food.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

From our staff, to our dietitian and our taste testers, everyone agreed that the Nutrisystem Chef’s Table meals are a far cry from anything they’ve served customers before. And we all mean that in the best way possible! The expertise of the chefs involved in creating these meals is evident, and it’s clear that Nutrisystem has prioritized making meals as simple as possible that truly provide their customers something that’s good for them and good to eat.

See the latest Nutrisystem Coupons to get started!

GoPicnic Ready-to-Eat Meals are a Healthy Alternative to Prepackaged Lunches

There’s so much to love when it comes to GoPicnic Ready-to-Eat Meals! Kids love them, parents love to serve them, parents love to eat them, they are healthy, and many are even gluten free.

These little boxes are a perfect replacement for the unhealthy cheese, meat and cracker meals found in the deli section. They are portable and fun, but they are loaded with good for you options. GoPicnic meals come in a variety of flavors such as salami and cheese, turkey stick and crunch, turkey pepperoni and cheese, sunbutter and crackers, hummus and crackers, salmon and crackers, tuna and cracker, and peanut butter and crackers.

Each box is nutritionally balanced with protein, fiber, and fruit. All products, even the dark chocolate found in some varieties, is made from whole ingredients. GoPicnic defines that by meaning no trans fats, no high fructose corn syrup, no added monosodium glutamate, and no artificial flavors or colors.

The meals are shelf stable but not because they use preservatives. GoPicnic uses high performance packaging methods that may cost more but ensure their products stay fresh without compromising the health factor.
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