Paleo Bar Review: MyHealthyEats Cashew & Cocoa Bar

Hi, friends!

So, I finally had a chance to crack into that shipment of Paleo Bars sent to me by My Healthy Eats over the weekend!

I decided to try out the Cashew & Cocoa Bar first, because, well … CASHEWS ARE MY JAM and who doesn’t love chocolate?

At a hefty 289 calories per bar, I will point out that these babies should likely be considered a meal replacement versus a snack – unless you’re a much bigger person. As a 135 lb woman, 289 calories is a substantial chunk out of my day, so I decided to have the bar as my dinner on Tuesday night.

 

First and foremost: these bars are moist, thick, and LOOK LIKE REAL FOOD.

If you recall my experience with Julian Bakery’s Paleo Protein bars, this is a DRASTIC –and much appreciated– difference.

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Seriously, this actually looks really good. Big chunks of nuts, NO MOLD (again, see my review of Julian Bakery’s bars), and a pretty substantial-looking bar.

I was most impressed by the TEXTURE: it was soft, chewy (think brownie, not tootsie roll), and had a dessert-like flavor on first bite.

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Similar to a LaraBar or the RXBars, the main ingredient of these bars is dates. This is what gives it a sweetness and the moist, thick texture that is such a departure from the Julian Bakery bars.

My husband tried a bite and thought I was having a dessert bar; so that’s definitely a vote of confidence!

All in all, I liked these bars, but I probably wouldn’t have them daily.

Here’s my voting/opinion in summary:

TEXTURE: Perfect! Moist, chewy, and brownie-like.

FLAVOR: Good, but not much different than a LaraBar.

CALORIES: HIGH – 289 is a substantial snack!

SUGARS: The bar is marketed as a “low carb” option, but this is NOT THE CASE. While it doesn’t have added sugars, the first ingredient is “date paste,” which is very naturally sugar-dense. This bar packed a whopping 24g of sugar, which is more than I normally aim to eat in a day. I would strongly advise against these bars if you’re following a Ketogenic or low carb diet.

PROTEIN: The bars are marketed as high protein, but with only 8g of egg white protein –it’s literally the last ingredient– I would consider these to be more of an energy bar versus a protein bar. I told my husband I plan to use the bars as carb-supplements while doing my marathon training this Fall.

Overall, I found the bar tasty and a decent option for those following a Paleo, Primal, Whole30 or vegetarian eating plan. I wasn’t floored by it, but I did find it substantially better than Julian Bakery’s Paleo bars.

That being said, I doubt I’ll be ordering any for myself. At over $4 per bar (almost double what Quest Nutrition and RX Bars charges), it’s definitely not in my price range. On top of that, I aim to eat less than 25g sugars MAXIMUM per day (realistically, I try to avoid sugar fully, as I’m following a hybrid Keto-Paleo diet), so these don’t fit well into my Macros.

For someone not concerned about carbs/sugars and who has more money to burn, these could be a good option. They do taste good, and I’m sure they’d be a nice treat warmed up, but they’re not a viable option for me to consume daily, both from a financial and nutritional perspective.

MY HEALTHY EATS BARS IN REVIEW:

PROS:

  • Paleo/Primal/Whole30 compliant.
  • Vegetarian option!
  • Natural ingredients (not 100% sure if they were organic, but I didn’t research it).
  • No junk fillers.
  • Available on Amazon for easy/expedient delivery.

CONS:

  • Very high in sugar (24g of sugars alone in the bar I ate)
  • High calories (between 250 to 289 in the three flavors they offer)
  • Relatively low in protein (only 8g)
  • Very pricey: Almost $37 for 9 bars! (yikes)

I do plan to try the other flavors this weekend (planned for the days I do my LONGEST training runs for my upcoming marathon), so I’ll post again if I have any additional feedback about them!

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Lemon Coconut Creme Paleo (and Candida-diet friendly) Cake!

As I mentioned before, a close friend of mine has been struggling under the confines of a very restrictive diet (Phase I of the Candida-diet) and the lack of variety has been very draining on her.

Her birthday was last week and I knew she was very upset that not only could she not indulge on her birthday with a drink, a birthday cake was totally out of the picture.

Or was it?

I decided I was NOT going to let her celebrate her 28th birthday without a sweet treat to make it special. Working with no grains, no sugars, and limited approved ingredients would make for a challenge, but I was ready to test my culinary prowess.

This is what I made my best friend:

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What you are looking at is:

Grain Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free, and 100% Paleo-Approved.

And, most importantly, DELICIOUS.

How did I do it?

Well, if you recall, a few weeks ago I decided to experiment with a Candida-approved Italian bread recipe that turned out REALLY well.

Running with that variation, I decided to see if I could turn a savory bread into a sweet cake with some mild variations. After FOUR experiments (using different measures of coconut milk, eggs, and flour ratios), I came up with the following PERFECT cake mix:

PERFECT PALEO (SUGAR FREE!) LEMON CAKE:

3/4 cup unsweetened, pure coconut cream
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut fiber
1/2 cup granulated Stevia
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 tbsp alcohol-free pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp coconut oil
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon, with pulp

The cake would be prepared like any other cake: dry ingredients are first in the bowl, and then you’ll fold in the wet ingredients.

Place dough (it’ll be thick, but pliable) in a 9″ round cake pan that you’ve greased ahead of time. I used organic coconut oil spray, but you can go with whatever oil you prefer.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350.

But what is a CAKE without icing?

Now, I knew I’d never recreate a perfect, fluffy icing …and if I did, I realized it would be very temperature-weak, since it would have to be comprised of coconut oil which melts at pretty much any temperature over 72 degrees. So, I decided to forgo a traditional icing and aim for a lemony, zesty glaze to drizzle on top. After dabbling, I landed on the perfect recipe cited below.

ZESTY PALEO (SUGAR FREE!) LEMON ICING GLAZE:

1/3 cup unsweetened, pure coconut cream
4 tbsp coconut oil
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 egg white
1/3 cup stevia
1 tbsp alcohol-free pure vanilla extract

The icing is best prepared in a sauce pan on the stove, stirring NONSTOP until it thickens. Pour over cake while still warm. You’ll have a ton with this recipe, so think of this like a Lemon Tres Leches cake!

And there you have it! My best friend got to enjoy a slice of REAL CAKE on her birthday, and I had a real win in the kitchen!

For those of you worried about calories, the entire cake was roughly 2,100 total (with the icing included), and that worked out to about 10-12 slices, depending on how heavy-handed you are with your servings. If anyone wants a full nutritional breakdown (I have it!), let me know!

So, what are you waiting for? Time to start baking!

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Low Carb Diet Underway

OK, OK. Let me start this post off by saying this: I’m a bit of a hypocrite.

I’ve been very good about not stressing my weight for several weeks, and just eating well (for the most part) and exercising, trying not to pay attention to the scale but focusing on how my body feels instead.

Well, after a weekend of binging on junk food and drinking copious amounts of Tequila, the scale was NOT my friend this morning.

And, coincidentally, I’m just 12 days away from my 31st birthday/.

Yeah, so, about that “peace with my body thing” …it’s crunch time.

My husband and I agreed to hold one another accountable to a low carb, moderate-to-high fat diet between now and Friday, July 10th to see if we can undo some of the damage (aka, spare tire chub) caused as a result of our weekend-drinking for the past few months.

We grilled a bunch of lean meats (chicken breasts, turkey burgers, etc) to get us through the work week, and stocked up on spinach, kale, and broccoli to make our meals as healthy as possible.

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STACK ‘O MEAT!

Between now and July 10th, we’re aiming to eat under 25g carbs per day (easier said than done, by the way — EVERYTHING has carbs!) and stick to 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day.

My lunch pal at work has 4 cups of broccoli, 3 chicken breasts, spicy deli mustard, and 2 cups of spinach.

For breakfast, I actually made my go-to egg muffins, which are just egg whites, whole eggs, turkey bacon, and broccoli mixed together and baked in a muffin pan:

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Just five minutes of prep and then 15 minutes in the oven to get a dozen of these little beauties, which are roughly 70 calories each and taste amazing!

My hope is to go from today’s weight (133.2 – yipes) back down to 127-128 in time for my birthday on July 11th.

Now, before you go saying, “Heyyyyy, you can’t safely lose that much weight in 10 days,” please know that I’m expecting to lose 2-3 lbs in the next two days purely from water weight.

My husband and I had a lot of salty and decadent foods this weekend, and it’s pretty normal for me to drop 1-3 lbs between Monday and Wednesday just from the shedding of the salts from my system. So, realistically, I’m aiming to lose about 2-3 lbs in the next 10 days, which is doable with moderate exercise and a clean diet.

I’m not going to go to any extremes; my goal is just to tighten up a bit between now and then to ensure I can enjoy my weekend on the beach, which has become a birthday tradition.

Wish me luck!

~ Tori

The Downside of Morning Workouts

I both love and hate Thursdays.

I love them, because I work late: 12pm to 9pm. I love them because I get to work out in the morning, and feel like I’m starting my day out productive.

I hate them, though, because that morning workout I enjoy so much turns me into a RAVENOUS, CANDY-INHALING BEAST all day long.

I’ve heard that morning workouts do wonders to boost the metabolism, but all it seems to do for me is set my appetite on overdrive.

I eat, and eat, and eat… and even though I feel full (fit to bursting!), I want more.

So far today, I’ve had:

  • 4 tbsp of Cashew Butter (I could easily eat the whole jar – so good)
  • 56 oz (yes, 56 oz) of Minute Maid light lemonade (not Paleo, but it’s so delicious)
  • Quest Bar (Double Chocolate Chunk- not Paleo, but one of the healthier cheats!)
  • 1 cup of frozen mango
  • 5 Milky Way minis (definitely not Paleo!)
  • 5 Caramel Creams (definitely not Paleo!)
  • 4 slices of Julian’s Bakery coconut bread
  • 4 tbsp of mustard
  • 8 oz of Boar’s Head deli chicken
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 2 cups of Snapea Crisps (not Paleo)
  • 2 Caveman cookies

That’s right. It’s not even 7pm and I’ve already consumed almost 1,900 calories. Yikes.

Granted, my workout was intense (90 minutes on the stairmaster – burned about 1700 calories), but YEESH.

I’m stuffed to the point of pain, and yet I still want more food. I’m making myself drink water and -gasp- even Diet Pepsi (I normally avoid soda like the plague) just to control myself from eating more.

I’ve had so much today, I’m honestly thinking about squeezing in another hour at the gym after work, just to cancel out some of the ridiculous consumption from the day.

And this, my friends, is why I have a love/hate relationship with Thursdays.

Does anyone else have this problem?!

~ Tori

Paleo Sangria!

OK, this is a quick and easy recipe for a refreshing, summer beverage for those of you on the Paleo diet but still craving a little alcoholic sustenance!

Paleo Sangria!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups organic red wine (personally, I love Malbec, as it’s not sweet, but not overly dry)
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 orange, juiced and zested
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, frozen
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, frozen
  • 1.5 oz 100% agave tequila
  • 2 sprigs of mint (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

In two large (16 oz) mason jars, divide your wine evenly. Add your lime juice, orange juice (hold zest until the end), and berries. Stir well, and then split the tequila between both (it gives it an extra punch)! Add the sparkling water (don’t stir – it’ll go flat!) and then top with the mint sprigs and orange zest. Enjoy!

I ate the mint sprig before the picture. I can't help it: mint is my FAVORITE!

I ate the mint sprig before the picture. I can’t help it: mint is my FAVORITE!

It’s not too sweet, but perfectly refreshing with the fruit and fresh juice! I make this year round, but it’s perfect for the summer, since the added sparkling water prevents it from overly dehydrating you in the heat. You can substitute white wine if you’re not a red fan, but you’ll get more benefits from the antioxidants in red. Plus, it’s prettier! 🙂

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Paleo Stuffed Peppers!

OK… everyone has been raging about stuffed peppers in my office this week. For three days in a row, it’s all anyone can talk about.

“Ohhhh, my wife made these ground andouille sausage and quinoa stuffed peppers last night and they were amazing!”

“I saw a recipe on Pinterest for these brown rice and ground pork cheesy stuffed peppers I can’t wait to try!”

“Have I said stuffed peppers yet today? Stuffed peppers! Stuffed peppers! STUFFFFFFED PEPPPPPERS!!”

OK. I get it, Paleo gods, I get it. I need to make some Paleo-friendly stuffed peppers.

However, I work full-time and hate the thought of coming home at 6pm to clean, prep, and bake stuffed peppers for an hour …because, damn it, I’m starving when I get home from work. I want to CHOW DOWN!

So… it’s crockpot time. Time for the magic.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 bunches of pearl onions
  • 8 large bell peppers
  • 1 cup raw button mushrooms
  • 2 cups of Trader Joe’s organic marinara
  • 1 cup red wine (of your choice)
  • 6 tbsp ground garlic
  • 6 tbsp ground chili powder
  • 4 tbsp dried onion flakes (if you haven’t noticed, I add these to everything I cook)
  • Non-stick Coconut Oil spray (I prefer Trader Joe’s)

Directions:

In your crockpot, spray a thin layer of coconut oil to prevent searing/sticking. Clean your bell peppers, chopping the tops off and removing the seeds/insides. Place the bell peppers into the crockpot.

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Now, in a large pan (I used a wok), spray your coconut spray (to prevent sticking) and put it on medium-high heat. Gentle saute your mushrooms (I chopped mine small), pearl onions, pepper caps (why waste them? dice ’em and add it in!) until they were nice and soft. Once tender, I added the raw ground turkey and seasoning.

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After the turkey was cooked through, I added 1 cup of the marinara, mixing well.

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While that cooked down, I mixed the remaining cup of marinara and the wine and poured it IN BETWEEN the peppers in the crockpot. The hope is that the fluid would help to poach the bell peppers, making them soft and sweet.

Once the meat mixture cooked down, I used a big spoon and (quite clumsily) stuffed the peppers in the crockpot.

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Don’t those look AMAZING? Who needs grains? Not this girl!

Since the meat is cooked and I won’t be home until after 8pm tonight, I set the crockpot to LOW and to cook for three hours, then reset to “warm” so it would still be steamy warm when I get home.

Now, since my husband isn’t devout Paleo, I sprinkled a little low fat mozzarella and Parmesan on four of these to make them extra tasty for him, and I plan to enjoy mine with some freshly mashed avocado.

Needless to say, I can’t wait for my work day to end so I can go inhale these!

Bon appetit, my friends, and I’ll let you know how they turned out tomorrow!

~ Tori

Delicious Paleo Chicken Crockpot Recipe

In a hurry to get to the gym last night, I tossed a bunch of random ingredients into the crockpot and prayed for a miracle. My husband had class (we’re both in grad school), and I wanted something filling, healthy, and effortless, but really didn’t have time to prep anything, so I gathered the following ingredients and crossed my fingers:

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs trimmed, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 jar (16 oz) Newman’s Own Organic Garlic Salsa
  • 1 jar (16 oz) water (use the salsa jar!)
  • 1 bunch (approx 1 oz) of fresh basil
  • 8 tbsp chili powder
  • 6 tbsp dried onion flakes
  • 4 stalks of chives, chopped
  • 1 bag mixed chopped peppers (Publix and Trader Joe’s both have great mixed bags)
  • 1 bag (12 oz) frozen broccoli florets
  • 1 bag raw carrot slices

I literally tossed all of these ingredients into my crockpot (which I sprayed with Coconut Oil non-stick spray from Trader Joe’s first) and stirred well to cover, set the heat to HIGH, and then took off.

I was at the gym a little more than 2.5 hours, stopped at Target on the way home, and eventually returned to the house three hours later to find the house smelled like MEXICAN HEAVEN!

Seriously, it smelled SO good. I was so excited by how it smelled, I didn’t even take a picture. I stirred the contents (holy cow, it looked good) and the chicken completely fell apart. It looked like pulled chicken, only spicy and fragrant like a good set of fajitas.

With perfect timing, my husband arrived from school right as I steamed a spaghetti squash (in the microwave, it takes roughly 7 minutes to steam a halved squash with salt and pepper) and diced up a fresh, ripe avocado.

I served the pulled Mexican chicken over the spaghetti squash (right out of the squash-skin, since it makes an organic, biodegradable bowl!) and topped it off with the avocado and a little more salsa.

Since my husband doesn’t follow a paleo diet, he also added some low-fat sour cream (which some Paleo dieters agree dairy is fine in moderation) and his favorite hot sauce, and we both inhaled our dishes like the ravenous cavemen (and cavewomen!) we are.

The prep time on this dish was honestly less than 5-8 minutes, and you could easily swap out pork, steak, or fish instead of the chicken with equally delicious results. The crockpot is always my go-to on busy days, so if you don’t have one at home …what are you waiting for?!

On that note… I can’t wait for my leftovers today for lunch. Bon appetit, my friends!!

~ Tori