Julian’s Bakery: Worst Customer Service!

OK, so, remember how I posted a review of my Paleo Protein Bars from Julian’s Bakery last week? Well, I surprisingly found something worse than their bars …their customer service!

Allow me to share the follow-up emails to my complaint (and request for a refund) from last week:

Hello Victoria,

I am so sorry but we are currently modifying the bars, so we are in and out of updating the website.
So I do apologize about that, the nutrition facts on the bars are correct.
The white film is from the coconut/palm oil. These bars sweat because of the heat, which causes the white film.
But it does not effect the taste of the bar.
These bars are supposed to have a tootsie roll feel to them, if they harden you can always put them in the microwave for about 10-15 second, and they will be perfect.
If you are still uncomfortable with the bars, you can always send the un-opened product back to us, and we will then issue you a refund once we receive the product back.
Please send to:
Julian Bakery
624 Garrison St Ste 102
Oceanside, CA 92054-4844
Thanks,
Dallas

Wait, what? They mislabeled the nutrition facts, the bars are inedible, and I have to mail it back in order to get a refund? Um, NO.

Dallas,
The convenience of protein bars is the lack of preparation time needed to enjoy them. We throw them into gym bags, purses, and pockets so that they can be consumed on the run. Last time I checked, portable pocket-sized microwaves weren’t universally common or available, so your product fails to meet the category of either convenience or prep-less.
Secondly, a food product, for the most part, should have a somewhat aesthetic nature to it. My food should not, under any circumstances, look like it has been dipped in semen (which, though vulgar to describe that way, is honestly the most accurate representation) and hard as a piece of bark. It literally made a crunch/snapping sound when I tried to break a piece off to try. 
I don’t know about you, but microwaving a semen-coated brown brick in lieu of grabbing a convenient protein bar product, like Quest Nutrition bars, is a decision that is not difficult for me to make.
But here’s where I’m even more concerned:
You delivered a mislabeled (incorrect nutrition), miscategorized (a bar that needs to be microwaved to regain its normal physical attributes is not “on-the-go”), and all together nasty product and I’m the one that needs to repackage it (find a box, since yours was moistened by rain and destroyed), pay for shipping, and wait for you to confirm my honesty (receipt of your subpar product) before you’ll return my money?
Really?
How, on this blessed earth, are you guys still in business?!

Best,

Tori

Well, it looks like Julian’s Bakery didn’t appreciate my response. Check out what I got back:

Victoria, 

The bars were affected in transit due to the record heat we have been experiencing here in California, and all over the US. I understand your frustration with receiving an unsatisfactory product, however I cannot change our policy.
We do not do returns based on taste. We are offering a return and refund on the unopened products to rectify a situation that was affected by variables out of our hands. Once our product leaves the shipping department of our facility (in which we insure quality before sending to our customers), we cannot control the handling or weather which our products can be affected by. 
Our bars have a shelf stable life of 1 year and are still safe and edible if introduced to hot temperatures. However, this does not mean the product does not change shape and/or in some cases texture due to the rehardening once the product is affected by the heat.
I do believe that Quest Nutrition bars carry the same possibility of being affected by heat in transit, thus changing the texture and or/shape of the product. 
The return policy in which we require to receive the product before we process a refund is a purely finance related concern. It does not reflect an opinion of the customers integrity. 
I will be happy to process your refund or replacement for any unopened bars upon arrival to our facility.
Beyond these two options, I am not able to offer another solution at this time. 
I do apologize for any inconvenience. 
Thank you,
Katie 

Oh, this means war.

My Dearest Katie, (hope Dallas is OK!)
I’m sorry to hear about California being hot. Living in Florida, I would have no idea how that must feel and affect your business. It’s ghastly to think companies have to take into consideration weather, packaging, and the quality of their ingredients when shipping to consumers! I deeply sympathize with your plight.
That being said, I’ve ordered Quest Nutrition bars consistently for over two years now (in case you weren’t aware, that means throughout hot days, and cold days, and wet days, and dry days, and blue days, and gray days, and red fish, and two fish), with likely thousands spent and have only had ONE instance where their product was not of usual consistency due to their packaging getting hot. And guess what they did? Immediately issued an apology (without blaming weather or outside factors, since, of course, yours is the only company in the U.S. to face them), refunded the product AND sent a replacement, never once asking me to send back the inferior quality product.
Whereby, I’ve ordered from you about five times in the last four years and have received moldy bread in the past (and, surprise, this was blamed on RECORD HEAT in California -gasp!- despite my paying for expedited shipping), and I actually had to send pictures of the moldy product because, much like I am now, I refused to spend my money and time to repackage and mail the product back.
But wait! You said you wanted it back for FINANCE reasons, and not because you doubt customer integrity! That makes total sense! I mean, why wouldn’t you want to reclaim a subpar, misrepresented food product back that was in someone’s HOME? I mean, of course you want to reclaim that item so you can RESELL it to new consumers, right? For that’s the only rational and logical reason you’d insist on a return of a product that should, based on how it looks/tastes/and feels, be disposed of. Unless, of course, instead of selling said protein bars, you wish to dispose of them in your facility? I mean, I’m not a tree-hugger or anything, but spending the $10 to mail this back to you and considering the carbon emissions of the trucks/planes that will be necessary to get these lovely bars from always-perfect-weather Florida to the unseasonably-wretched-heat-wave that is California right now seems like an awful waste of resources if you plan on doing the appropriate (and hygienic) task of throwing these away. Want me to set fire to the plant outside, too, while I’m at it? I mean, if we’re going to waste resources just for the hell of it, why not go all the way, am I right?
Katie, I understand that you’re doing your job. I get it. Julian’s Bakery is reveling in the euphoria of a Paleo-monopoly right now and they’re doing all they can to maximize profits until their competition catches on and introduces better quality, more affordable alternatives. That being said, I strongly suggest your team spend a little less time on their internet marketing tactics and a little more time figuring out how to improve the durability of their products so they can retain quality, texture, and flavor in transit. Or, maybe just spend the money on building a machine to alter earth’s atmosphere and improve weather conditions? Either way, you’re wasting a lot of money attracting consumers that are likely just as irked as I am by the inconsistency of your products’ quality. 
This is a huge problem and obviously I’m not the first to voice concerns, as your Facebook team has managed to PREVENT comments and has, in fact, staged multiple comments that do nothing but praise the taste and quality of your products. Do you really think consumers believe that not a single person has anything negative to say on social media about your company? Really? I’m pretty sure people blast the pope, the Dalai-llama, and the inventor of blessed chocolate on Facebook, but good to know YOU (as in Julian’s Bakery, not YOU, lovely Katie) are perfect and have never had one displeased customer ever. Congrats! Pretty sure that deserves a blue ribbon or gold star.
That being said, the BEST I will do will be to open every single semen-brick bar out of its wrapper and take pictures of each as I toss them in the trash for you. I’m not going to mail back a subpar product for you to either sell (both unethical and extremely unhygienic) or throw away, as that’s just a big waste of money and time for both of us.
So, it appears we are at an impasse, Katie. Shall we escalate this to your boss? I’m ready when you are.

Best,

Tori
Not surprisingly, I haven’t heard back yet. I’ve already requested a refund from Paypal.com (how I paid), and I’m going to keep harassing them until a refund is issued.
On that note …buyer beware!
~ Tori

Candida Diet Approved (and PALEO) Italian Bread!

A very close friend of mine has been dealing with some health issues and her doctor, both trained in holistic/natural and traditional medicine, has suggested she follow a Candida-diet in the short term until they are able to fully identify the cause of her illness.

After learning more about the Candida Diet, I realized that it’s really not that far off from the Paleo diet. Where hers has a few more restrictions when it comes to sugar (she cannot have any fruit whatsoever, and has to avoid most starches), she’s allowed a few grains that are normally prohibited from the Paleo diet. Other than those few differences, though, we’re basically following the same basic guide: lean meats, healthy fats, and lots of green vegetables.

She told me she had baked some bread and, knowing I pay $8.99 per loaf for my coconut bread from Julian’s Bakery, she suggested I try out her recipe, which is both inexpensive and easy to make:

Ingredients (in her original recipe):

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (can also substitute millet or buckwheat)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (creamy part on the top works best)
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp Stevia powder

Directions:

Blend dry ingredients separate from wet ingredients, then combine.
Pour into greased loaf pan, bake at 350 for about 30 mins.
Top of the loaf should be firm, and a light golden color.
Let cool.

Since I was craving bread sticks and Italian food, I decided to modify her recipe a bit with additional seasonings and try to cut the calories down a tiny it, since her recipe was over 140 calories per slice. While I try not to focus on calories, 140+ for a small slice seemed a bit steep.

Here’s the modified version I made, which came out WONDERFUL:

Ingredients (a la Victoria):

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cashew milk (a huge calorie savings)
  • 3 whole eggs, 3 egg whites (another 200+ calories saved)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp Stevia powder
  • 1 tbsp dried basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp thyme

I baked it according to her instructions, and the texture was PERFECT. It’s like a thick, earthy, mountain bread. The seasoning gave it the perfect savory flavor, and I could imagine myself toasting the slices to use as croutons after a few days.

IMG_9040The picture isn’t fancy — I was tired and baking this at 11pm at night.

I contemplated making a sweet version of this bread, using unsweetened organic applesauce in place of the oil and blending in raisins, cinnamon, and crushed pecans to make a dessert-style bread. Perhaps that will be tonight’s experiment!

In the meantime, I’m so in love with this Italian bread, I had a slice with my breakfast:

IMG_9042Look at all that grain-free goodness! NOM NOM NOM.

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

High Protein, Low Carb Brownies

Alright, folks, I’m on day three of my low-carb, high intensity workout regimen and, amazingly, I haven’t caved and scarfed down my stockpile of Cadbury Creme eggs …yet.

I have, though, suffered from some pretty intense sweets cravings, which has led me on an internet search to find something sweet that won’t break the carb bank.

I found a few low carb recipes, but nothing really blew me over and most of them were RIDICULOUSLY high in fat and calories (basically pure-butter blocks!), so …I decided to improvise and make my own!

Tori’s High-Protein, Low-Carb (grain-free/gluten-free) Brownies!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Splenda (it is low carb, after all)
  • 4 oz of unsweetened, pure dark chocolate (melted)
  • 1/4 cup of melted butter or ghee
  • 2 full scoops of your favorite low carb Chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup of egg whites (or egg substitute)
  • 1/2 cup Walden Farms brand sugar free chocolate syrup (aka, nectar of the gods)
  • 1/2 cup Walden Farms brand sugar free caramel syrup (tastes like melted dulce de leche ice cream!)
  • 1 cup of fat free cream cheese, softened (but NOT melted!)
  • 1 dash chili powder
  • 1 dash sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil Spray (a godsend!)

Directions:

I’m the first to admit that I’m not much of a baker, so I definitely am not one to “sieve” this, or “whisk,” that, and –by some miracle of the pastry heavens– this recipe came out perfectly by just combining ALL of the ingredients in one giant bowl and beating it into a creamy oblivion.

Hint: the harder and longer you whip, the fluffier the brownies will be.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and spray your pan (use a brownie dish for THICK, moist brownies, or a COOKIE SHEET for thin, crispier brownies – my preference) well to ensure nothing sticks.

Pour in well-beaten batter and gently rock pan to get the better evenly spread out.

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Tiny little cream cheese lumps survived the beating, but they didn’t impact the flavor or texture at all!

If using a smaller pan, bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 MINUTES. For a cookie sheet or larger pan, bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes. I baked mine for about 18 minutes in a cookie sheet and thought they turned out a little well done, but still SUPER delicious.

And, seriously, don't these look perfect?! Hard to believe they're completely flourless.

And, seriously, don’t these look perfect?! Hard to believe they’re completely flourless.

I could barely wait for them to cool, and managed to cut this tray into TWENTY FOUR giant servings (think 2×2″ brownies!).

Calorie/Nutrient Content for one brownie (assuming 24 servings in total):

  • 81 Calories
  • 5.3g fat
  • 2.2g carbs
  • 4.6g protein

I’m going to keep playing with the recipe to see if I can boost up the protein a bit more (maybe Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese? more protein powder?) and reduce the fat a tiny bit, but only 2.2g carbs for a solid 5 bites of brownie is a win-win in my book!

On that note… 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

Healthy Baking

After a discouraging weigh-in this morning, I decided I needed to wage war against my constant, nagging, inescapable desire for sweets …by baking my own healthy alternative!

I use a Paleo Recipe app called FAST PALEO, which has an amazing collection of dairy and non-dairy Paleo recipes that are quick and easy to make. The best part? You can actually search for recipes based on what you have at home to work with for ingredients!

After an exhaustive 13 hour day between two jobs (mind you, that was with leaving the second job three hours early), I didn’t feel like stopping at the grocery store. I knew I had eggs, coconut flour, cocoa powder, and avocado at home – and I’ve heard avocado is GREAT in Paleo baking – so I tested my luck and did an ingredients search.

Voila: 23 different dessert recipes popped up, most using just those ingredients or one or two more. I settled for this one:

DARK FUDGEY PALEO BROWNIES

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I’m normally bad about adhering to recipes, but I stuck to this one pretty closely: only difference was that I had cocoa powder instead of baking chocolate.

I doubled the ingredients list because I wanted to make sure I had extras to freeze:

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I used two 12-count cupcake pans, which needed only 16-18 minutes to cook at 350 degrees.

Because I used cocoa powder and not baker’s chocolate, I’ll admit that my finished product was more cake-like than FUDGEY, but it was overall delicious and the perfect portion size. If I were to make this exact same recipe again, I would ADD A CUP OF UNSWEETENED APPLESAUCE (or mashed ripe banana) to make it a tiny bit sweeter and more moist.

Here’s my finished product:

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I plan to eat them slightly warmed with a little spoonful of coconut ice cream or some mashed raspberries. To the tune of 150 calories, they pack more then I wanted for a snack, but they’re so full of protein (eggs and sunbutter) plus healthy fats (coconut oil and avocado) that the pros outweigh the cons.

The app is totally free, so if you’re a Paleo dieter like me or just looking for some grain-free/gluten-free alternatives, I definitely suggest checking it out!

Bon appetit, my friends!!

– Tori

Monday Accountability Report

I had class today (as usual on Mondays), so I couldn’t make it to the gym.

Fortunately, I managed to stick to my high protein, low(er) carb diet throughout the day, staying under 1,400 calories.

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The peas are a higher sugar/starchy vegetable, but they’re my favorite and I managed to NOT eat a cupcake or chocolate of any kind, which is an achievement all on its own.

Hope everyone had a great Monday!

Tori

Almond Flour Waffles: Paleo!

I woke up this morning with a severe hankering for a soul food breakfast. I wanted waffles. I wanted maple syrup. I wanted doughy, fluffy goodness. I wanted to cheat on my diet with everyone bone in my body and taste bud on my tongue.

I was given a waffle maker nearly seven years ago, which I have probably used twice, maybe three times in my life. Since switching to the Paleo diet in 2012, I’ve never even opened the cabinet in which it has been stored, patiently waiting to be put to its purpose.

Instead of going to iHop or Mimi’s Cafe and completely ruining my diet on this foggy, Sunday morning, I decided to get creative and construct a Paleo alternative that would satisfy the fiercest of cravings.

The following recipe makes three full-sized waffles.

Basic Ingredients List:

  • 1 3/4 cups almond flour.
  • 3 whole eggs.
  • 3/4-1 cup of So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk (I used just a little over 3/4 cup, but you can water it down to a full cup and the texture is the same).
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Baking Powder.
  • 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract.

Mix-In Ideas:

  • 6 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes.
  • 4 tbsp Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips.
  • 1/4 cup blueberries.
  • 1/4 cup diced banana.
  • 1/4 cup diced pecans, walnuts, or almonds.
  • Get creative! You can stir in just about everything as long as it’s not liquidy. If you do add fruit (such as the blueberries), so with just 3/4 cup of coconut milk in the recipe above.

Instructions:

Spray your waffle-maker with a non-stick spray. If you’re a true Paleo-follower, avoid canola or soy-based sprays, which are the most common on the market. I actually found a coconut oil spray at Whole Foods a few weeks ago, so it’s been my standard for cooking everything lately! You can also just dip a paper towel in cooking oil and rub the waffle-maker if you don’t have any sprays.

While the waffle-maker preheats, combine all ingredients from the waffle-base ingredients list. Stir until well-mixed. It should be a little thicker than normal pancake batter but thinner than a brownie batter. Once fully combined, stir in any mix-in ideas from above. I added coconut flakes and the Enjoy Life chocolate chips – I was going all out! I also added a tbsp of cinnamon, a personal favorite. I think cinnamon accentuates the flavors in chocolate and the homeopathic benefits make it a win-win!

A huge bowl of batter.

A huge bowl of batter.

Once the waffle-maker is warmed up, spoon batter into each of the four compartments. DO NOT OVERFILL. I used about 1/4 cup batter per section, which covered the bottom but did NOT fully hide the metal indentations. The waffles will fluff up, so you need to leave room for them to grow without overflowing the machine. My waffle-maker has preset timers on it, so I didn’t have to pay attention to cook times, but I would say it was roughly two minutes per side.

This sucker is HUUUUGE.

This sucker is HUUUUGE.

I will admit, these waffles pack a substantial caloric punch: for my recipe (with coconut flakes and chocolate chips), each waffle was about 700 calories with roughly 29 grams of carbs, 58 grams of fat, and 26 grams of protein. Fortunately, I found it to be sweet enough without any syrup and it was EXTREMELY filling. I’m STUFFED.

I’m going to try to modify the recipe to bring it down under 600 calories – perhaps a blend of coconut flour and egg whites will help. I’ll have to play around with it! In the meantime, this recipe satisfied every craving and paired perfectly with a hot cup of coffee this morning.

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori