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

Julian’s Bakery Paleo Protein Bars: A Review

If you’ve ever considered ordering the Paleo Protein Bars from Julian’s Bakery, allow me to give you a review of their chocolate mint flavor:
1.) On their website, the calories were clearly identified as 190 per bar. These bars they’ve sent me are 230. Um, 40 calories is a HUGE difference, especially to someone on a restricted diet. Not acceptable.

2.) When I opened the wrapper, I discovered the bar was covered in a sticky, oily white film. NASTY! Was the bar dipped in semen before packaging as a good luck measure? EWW.

3.) The protein bar is HARD AS A ROCK. The video and description of the bars all show them as chewy, with texture similar to a Quest Protein Bar (which are delicious and far superior). I’m pretty sure I could purchase some mortar and build a house with these slippery, semen-coated bricks they sent me.

I should have realized that their products were subpar when they disabled the ability for anyone to comment or message them on Facebook. They have a bunch of fake planted comments from users (aka, fake profiles and/or employees) who think these bars are just fabulous! Allow me to point out that they are certainly not. And, for $35 for a 12 pack, you can bet I’m going to make it public that I am dissatisfied and want my money back.

Normally, I end all of my posts with “bon appétit,” but it is definitely not appropriate about these bars!

Other than their ridiculously high costs and slow ship time, I’ve always been pretty cool with their other products. They make breads, cookies, waffles, and coconut tortilla wraps that have all been pretty stellar. These bars are a huge disappointment, and they obviously know that they are not well received if they have shut down all forms of contact in regards to them and planted fake reviews. I will always second-guess myself before ordering from them again.

– Tori

Hemp Seeds: My New Crush!!

Hemp seeds. Holy crap. How have I never had these before?

I found a bag of raw, shelled hemp seeds on clearance at Whole Foods and, for just $3.99 for the bag, I decided to give it a try.

BEST. DECISION. EVER.

They’re nutty, buttery, and earthy. Sort of like a cross between a sunflower seed and an almond. I’m hooked.

IMG_9407My favorite way to eat them? With a drizzle over raw almond butter and sliced banana!

Much nom. Many delcious.

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ 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

Animal Kingdom: The Healthiest Park?

For those who do not know, I am a Disney-holic. My husband and I have annual passes, and we are at one of the four Orlando-based Disney theme parks every weekend. And, most times, we go more than one day.

Theme parks are not normally known as the mecca of healthy options, and everyone knows I am a sucker for sweets, but I’m thrilled to report that Animal Kingdom might be one of the healthiest options for any local or tourist looking to stick to their diet. My reasons?

ONE: You walk everywhere!

The park is mostly outdoor, and spans THOUSANDS of acres. You can easily log 6-7 miles of walking even during a short visit, and can go much longer than that if you take advantage of the HIKING TREK adventure offered in Africa’s Kilimanjaro Safari tours. It’s almost six hours of backpacking through their habitats!

TWO: healthy food options are everywhere!

Not only do they have stands dedicated to gluten-free menus, but even the regular food options are pretty healthy.

IMG_7822

We found hummus with veggies at one stand, and falafel balls (fried, yes, but mostly healthy) with fresh tzatziki sauce!

IMG_7823I wanted to eat all of these myself, but I begrudgingly shared with my husband.

The new Harambe Market features tons of new options, which are mostly grilled chicken, beef, and sausages! It took me a while to find an unhealthy option at the park, and I was happy to see very few patrons were dining there on a beautiful Florida day.

THREE: it’s HOT!

The weather in Florida is scorching in the summer, and most Disney parks have primarily indoor attractions to keep you cool, but not at Animal Kingdom! Most of the Animal Kingdom attractions are outside, so you’re sweating like a fiend. I’m not sure about you, but I absolutely lose my appetite when I’m hot. So I nearly forgot about eating lunch at the park, and it wasn’t until a quick summer shower forced us into the stores around 2pm that I remembered about sneaking in a meal!

While I’ll never stop loving Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom may have stolen my heart as the place to go when I don’t feel like splurging on my diet AND want to see some gorgeous animals.

On that note… bon appetit, my friends!

Tori

Combating the Office Job

One of the biggest challenges with having an office job is the 8-10 hours of sitting my body has to endure 5 days per week, 48-50 weeks per year.

Fortunately, I work in an environment where kinetic engagement is encouraged, with most meetings occurring on the move (we walk laps around the lake our building is situated next to) and an open floorplan that encourages us to make our space ours.

My amazing team surprised me on my birthday this year with a balance ball chair for my birthday, which has pretty much become my favorite thing on earth.

IMG_7185It came with a smaller ball, but I happened to have a spare balance ball at home, so I rotate between the smaller and larger depending on what I’m doing throughout the day.

As someone with ADHD, this thing is a lifesaver. The slight bounce keeps my extra energy channeled, and the unstable surface keeps my obliques and lower abs engaged (but not exhausted) throughout the day.

The smaller ball is easier to sit on (it fits the chair perfectly), but doesn’t challenge my core to balance as much, and I have to make an active effort to bounce to feel the effects. The large ball, however, is like sitting on a wild animal, and after a few hours I can feel every muscle in my back, shoulders, and abdominals getting tight and firm.

While this balance ball chair hasn’t helped me resist the office sweets and treats (darn that candy jar!), it has helped me stay focused and do something other than just sit and stagnate for the majority of my day.

Every little step counts, right?

Bon appetit, my friends, and happy bouncing!

~ Tori

Bursitis? Tendonitis? …the GOUT?

Remember a few weeks back when I complained about my wrists aching from the Stairmaster?

Well, the pain is back …and with a vengeance.

I’ve spent the last week avoiding the stairmaster – and just about every upper body machine and free weight – due to excruciating pain radiating from both wrists.

I felt fine last Friday when I spent the day kayaking with my mother, and honestly don’t remember feeling any pain Saturday morning after spending two hours on the stairmaster, but sometime between Sunday and Monday, a terrible burning and stabbing pain began to radiate from both wrists and it hasn’t abated.

Per a quick symptom search on WebMD, I could have anything from carpal tunnel (doubt it, mainly because I’ve had it before and this is about 1,000,000x worse), to rheumatoid arthritis (oh, please no!) to gout.

Really? Gout? I didn’t realize it was 1615. I better warn the serfs that I shan’t be returning on the ‘morrow.

Following the advice of my dear friend Lonnie-Lou, I’ve been popping ibuprofen and icing both wrists, and steering clear of anything that might put further stress on them …other than typing, of course, because I literally couldn’t function in my daily life without my laptop.

Boy, you don’t realize how much you use your wrists for every day activities until they’re painfully sore with every movement.

Oh, did you want to zip your dress? Yeaaaaah, that’s not happening.
Scratch the back of your head? NOPE.
Heck, even brushing my teeth and combing my hair has become a dolorous, painful process.

IMG_9899

While this is cramping my style a bit, I’m taking it super easy this week at the gym, sticking to lower body movements and hands-free elliptical, and doing what I can to not injure my wrists any more. If the pain isn’t gone by next week, I’ll be seeing a specialist.

Let’s hope it’s not the “king’s illness” (aka, the nickname for gout), and I won’t have to give up my red wine habit. :/

On that note… bon appetit, everyone!

~ 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.

10423740_10155804494890204_939688812912327123_n

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

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.

IMG_9319

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:

IMG_6802

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

Product Review: Eastwind Cashew Butter

For anyone that knows me, it’s pretty obvious that I have a sweet tooth. I can eat, and eat, and eat sugars all day long.

I normally try to satiate the craving with a spoonful of almond butter (except I have to avoid Maranatha’s Caramel Almond butter, because it’s so good, I can’t control myself), but it normally doesn’t cut the craving for candy.

And then I discovered Eastwind Cashew Butter.

butter

Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of cashews – they’re normally the last nuts I pick out of the deluxe mix, once the pecans and walnuts are gone – but I’ve always thought they were just so-so. Until today.

This cashew butter is amazing.

Buttery, creamy, slightly sweet …but there’s no sugar or salt added. It’s like a miracle in a jar.

I can’t stop eating it. I reached in for a spoon, and had to have my husband pry the jar out of my hands after I’d polished off my fourth serving. And for 210 calories per serving, I *needed* that jar taken away.

I’m already salivating at the thought of what I can do with this cashew butter. Mixing it into sauces, baking with it, smearing it all over a paleo waffle or toast. YUMMMMM.

I strongly suggest picking up a jar if you want to experience a low carb taste of heaven – but make sure you have someone who will rip it out of your hands when you realize you’re spooning it out from the jar with your fingers like a wild animal!

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori