Posts Tagged ‘Whole Foods’

Snapea Crisps…Thinking healthy and acting green?

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The hubbs, the little, and I have been snacking on Snapea Crisps for a while now, but recently tried the Ceasar flavored variety and can’t get enough! Only $1.49 at Trader Joe’s but also available at Whole Foods Market, Ralphs and other grocery stores, they are addicting.

My daughter has been a fan of cheese puffs since I can remember, but they don’t usually offer much nutrition. Finding healthier snack alternatives is always tricky. Snapea Crisps have the same texture and airy crisp feel that a cheese puff does while being a veggie snack.

What I love even more is that the producers of this “snack salad” support farm to table. They even created the website “Farm to table” (www.farmtt.com) which offers a chance to connect with others looking to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.

******IMPORTANT UPDATE

If you’re looking for a healthier snack option the whole family will enjoy, DO NOT RUSH TO REACH FOR THESE!

Since writing this post I have stopped buying these snacks. I learned that the Ceasar variety contains yeast extract which is basically MSG in disguise. Both varieties are also made with corn oil which, most likely than not, comes from genetically modified corn. Sad that even a product with only a few ingredients, sold at reputable “health food” stores, is still not a guarantee. Read those labels carefully and research the company!  Our family now enjoys the occasional edamame with some sprinkled salt or a bowl of peas tossed with olive oil and a little salt. 😉

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New Whole Foods Market Cookies

Yum! This week I’ve been munching on 4 of the 9 different varieties of the new line of Whole Foods Market cookies. What a treat! They are small enough that you can indulge a little, but packed with enough flavor to satisfy your sweet tooth. Sweets and desserts are some of the biggest battles in my home. I have a huge sweet tooth, I’m not going to lie. Unfortunately my daughter has inherited that tooth.  I try to find items that she will enjoy as an occasional treat or dessert, yet not contain too much sugar. Even more difficult is to find sweets that won’t contain some of the other hidden culprits: artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, GMOs, dyes, etc. I do not want to deprive her (nor myself), so I do my best to teach her about moderation and the effects of sugar and other harmful ingredients. These cookies are a great option! They are all natural and contain no trans fat. They are also made with non-gmo unbleached flour, regular cane sugar, natural coloring and flavors, even an organic soy lecithin emulsifier is used. Depending on the variety, a serving size (3-5 cookies) contains anywhere from 6-11 grams of sugar. I can deal with that. My “little” is perfectly happy with 2 cookies….I tend to crave the third.  With 9 varieties to choose from, there is definitely something available for everyone. So, I sat down after dinner with my daughter, hubby, and mom who was in town this week, and took tasting notes as we each sampled all four of the cookie flavors below:

First up: Oatmeal Raisin Crisp – 4 cookies contain 140 calories and 7 grams of sugar. You’ll get 1-2 raisins per cookie, which is perfect for the size. (Each cookie is a little bigger than a silver dollar.) My mom and the hubbs agreed that this was their absolute favorite flavor of the bunch. I’m a chocolate fan, but I have to agree that this might very well be one of the best tasting oatmeal raisin crispy cookies I’ve had. The “little” thought they were pretty good too. They had a nice cinnamon/nutmeg kick to them that blended perfectly with the oats and raisins.

Second: Meyer Lemon Chocolate – 5 cookies contain 150 calories and 6 grams of sugar. The cookies are topped with a light dust of powdered sugar and chocolate drizzle. I am not a fan of lemon in my dessert at all, but mom and hubbs are and well, the chocolate helped. Mom and hubbs were a little disappointed. Hubbs thought they tasted like grass. I can sort of agree.  However, the “little” loved the taste. She said it was lemony and her 2nd favorite of the bunch. 😉

Third: Dark Chocolate Almond – 4 cookies contain 130 calories and 11 grams of sugar. For being little cookies, they sure gave them some big chocolate chunks…and I’m not complaining! The dark chocolate is light, not too dark or bitter. Everyone agreed that the chocolate overpowered the almond taste though, but again, I’m not complaining.  Hubbs and mom thought they were ok, but not memorable. They were my favorite and my daughter agreed that they were pretty good. What a great alternative these are for popular conventional brands of chocolate chip cookies.

Last, but not least: Caramel Chocolate Chunk – 3 cookies contain 130 calories and 11 grams of sugar.  This cookie reminded me of a Chips Ahoy. While it was definitely good, and bigger in size than all the others, the chocolate overpowered the caramel taste. The result was a great chocolate chip cookie taste. This was my daughter’s favorite of them all.  It came in a close second for me. Hubbs and mom were a little disappointed as they are both caramel fans but agreed that it was still a good cookie.

While opinions and personal taste are going to differ, we all agreed that we were pretty impressed with all four varieties of the cookies. Whole Foods Market has done a great job, once again, of offering a healthier alternative for the whole family to enjoy. Best part of all, they are definitely affordable at $3.69 a tub! ENJOY!

Other flavors include: Sweet Ginger Snap, Classic Chocolate Chip, Classic Almond Windmill, Caramel Corn, and Raspberry Thumbprint.

Organic Laundry Detergent

When it comes to laundry I’m not much of a picky person.  For some years now my only concern has been that I find green, chemical and dye-free detergents that won’t irritate my daugter’s skin or harm the Earth.  Conventional brands tend to contain several toxic, harmful ingredients that have been linked to cancer and which are NOT required to be disclosed on the label. On top of this, you are made to believe that you also need specific soap for colors, another for whites, and that even the temperature of the water requires a certain detergent. We are also made to think that stains cannot be removed unless we buy a separate product.  As far as I’m concerned, a little soap and water suffices, though I do battle the occasional stain. This is exactly what happened just last week after being asked to sample Whole Foods Market’s very own Organic Laundry Detergent.  There’s never been a particular brand of detergent I stick to….until now!

A couple of weeks ago my daughter experienced her first bloody nose. Some of it spilled on her nightgown. I threw the soiled garment in the hamper and forgot about it until laundry day. As I poured the laundry detergent into the machine, it dawned on me that this would be a great way to truly test the product out. I was convinced the blood stain would still be there after the wash. I had not treated the area with anything at all and my experience in the past with some leading detergent brands assured me of it too.  The results really surprised me and actually got me excited about laundry for the first time.

Here is a picture of the stained area of my daughter’s nightgown after only 1 wash with Organic Laundry Detergent…

 The stain is to the left of the heart and before the wash was about the color of it. As you can see, it is now very faint and almost completely gone. Needless to say, I have finally been convinced by a brand. Since then I have done a couple more loads of laundry and continue to feel confident that my clothes have been cleaned well. More importantly, however,  it makes me feel even better to know that I am not harming the environment or posing any health hazards to my family.  This Organic Detergent rates GREEN (the highest rating) on Whole Food’s very own Eco-Scale, making it the safest of its kind.  No junk…just natural, organic ingredients. I’m using the fragrance-free variety now, which was hubby’s only complaint. (He’s the picky one in the family about laundry.) I will be trying out the Lavender scented one next, but as I proved to him, a couple of (eco-friendly and/or homemade) scented dryer sheets and your laundry smells great. Without it, the detergent just simply leaves it smelling clean.

If you’re in search of a green, non-toxic, safe and effective laundry detergent (which hopefully you are!) I highly recommend you give Whole Food’s Organic Laundry Detergent a try.

Jenkintown Farmer’s Market and Rhinoceros Toy Store

Last Wednesday marked the Grand re-opening of the Jenkintown Farmer’s Market. Even though it was raining, the “little” and I weren’t going to miss it! Last year she got to help cut the ribbon to commemorate the big day!

Every Wednesday for the season, between 11:30 and 4pm, you will find a fine selection of local cheeses, eggs, raw milk, veggies, meats, nut butters, (raw) honey, plants, bakery items, artisan work and more.  Last week our finds included some yummy Butterscotch Peanut Butter and Apricot Jam and even a unique, cute bracelet for the “little” made by a local author who uses word beads in her jewelry.  The lunch truck is the best…burgers made with free-range meats and other great selections! The market takes place in the town square, on Leedom St. and Greenwood Ave. right behind the West Ave. Grill. If you are in the area, you need to stop by and check it out.

The Farmer’s Market is spear-headed by Jenkintown’s very own Kate Pettit, owner of the local Rhinoceros Gamery and Toy Store which you will find across the street from the Town Square.  Her hard work and dedication show in her successful organization of this great event and that of her toy store (location in Haddonfield, NJ now too!). Aside from a variety of unique and eco-friendly toys, if you are in the area and looking for activities and/or classes for your little one(s) this is a great place. Stop by or take a look at their website. New classes begin May 16th and June 18th: Parent-and-me art class, Mommy-and-me Yoga, Music and Theater classes, amongst others.  We just signed up for their Game Club. For $30 for the entire year we can come in every week and “rent” a new game/gameboard. Great way to be green and REUSE, but most importantly for me…less clutter in the toy room and I keep the little one excited for a “new” toy every week. 🙂
So make it a day tomorrow…stop by the Famer’s Market, visit the Toy Store, have a cupcake at Velvet Sky right next door, or take a stroll through Jenkintown and visit several other local businesses.  If Wednesdays don’t work for you or you are not close enough to make it, there is bound to be some great finds in your community as well.  Support small businesses and farms and shop local.
For more info on Jenkintown’s Farmer’s Market, find them on facebook or visit Rhinoceros Toy Store’s website.
If you live in the city, find a Farmer’s Market here: Farm to City 
For all of PA, find local fresh food at stores, farms, farmer’s markets, restaurants, etc. near you here: Buy Local PA

For all of the USA, another great resource for finding local farms, CSAs, restaurants, etc., near you…or even shop on line for anything from herbs to pet food here: Local Harvest 

Nutella vs. Choco Dream

A few months back, while at a friend’s house, my daughter was introduced to the wonderful world of Nutella. She’s been hooked ever since. She found out that it goes great on Graham crackers, toast, bananas…anything! You would think the fact that they don’t carry it where I grocery shop would let her forget… not my girl. (I noticed her elephant-like memory when she was about 18 months.) So, after weeks of begging me and then stumbling upon it at a Target, I finally broke down and allowed the occasional “treat.” Nutella is not all that bad anyway…or is it?

The packaging states that there are no artificial colors or preservatives. It’s made with Hazelnuts, a healthy nut and good source of protein. The problem I have is that the first ingredient on the list is…SUGAR. No surprise, right…but first? Really? 21 grams in 2tbsp? Ugh. It’s also made with palm oil, cocoa, and skim milk. Then you got Vanillin and Lecithin in there. What the heck are those? Well it will tell you right on the label that Vanillin is an artificial flavoring. Lecithin is a common ingredient used as an emulsifier…it thickens and helps the nut butter blend and stay together and, in this case, is made from soy. I could sort of live with some of these ingredients, but how am I to know where they come from, besides Canada? I’d feel much better if they were organic or if I knew for a fact that they were Non-GMO. It’s been said that 79-89% of soy in the USA is GMO soy…so what are the chances that Nutella contains some Genetically modified organisms? Yeah, no thanks. So off I went to my local Whole Foods, crossing my fingers for a close enough alternative….or praying my daughter would all of a sudden take a liking to almond butter.

What I found may not be the answer to my prayers, but it is definitely an encouraging and motivating step in the right direction…

Allow me to introduce you to NATURAL CHOCO DREAM. Now, the list of ingredients looks basically the same as Nutella’s, so unfortunately SUGAR is still #1 (only one gram less per serving). However, some important differences must be noted. For starters, it contains NON HYDROGENATED palm and/or canola oil and their cocoa powder is LOW FAT and FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED. The product is made in Belgium, where chances of GMO ingredients are lower. Choco Dream is distributed by Natural Nectars, a company with a good reputation for carrying healthy, natural products made from premium ingredients. They also use eco-friendly packaging. The Choco Dream nut spread comes in a glass jar, which can easily be recycled and does not pose risk of leaching chemicals that can occur with plastics. Best of all, Choco Dream tastes exactly the same, if not BETTER, than Nutella. It has a rich, smooth taste, and more importantly, my daughter loves it.  Our newest dessert concoction is a “Nutella Smores”. No need for a campfire….just spread a little Choco Dream on a (organic) graham cracker and place 2-3 small (natural/organic) marshmallows on top and VOILA…a safer sweet alternative. Moderation is the key. My daughter knows that too much sugar is bad for her and so we save these types of treats for special occasions. I’m still on the hunt for something similar with less sugar that she can enjoy more often.

 If your family is a Nutella fan though, I highly suggest you give Choco Dream a try.  For around the same price, wouldn’t you want to give your kids (or yourself) better quality, safer food?  Find it at your local Whole Foods Market or shop for it online at Natural Nectars or Amazon.com.

*You can also find these other flavors: Almond Choco Dream and Dark Choco Dream (which I’m afraid to try for fear of falling in love.)

On a side note: click here and read about the mother who fought against the makers of Nutella for false advertising and won!

Eco-Fest! Recycle electronics and shoes at Whole Foods Market this Sunday

Eco-Fest!
Recycle your old electronics and used shoes by taking them to Whole Foods Market in Jenkintown, PA. (Check with your local Whole Foods for similar events.)
This Sunday, April 29th from 1-4pm.
Help protect the planet….there will also be samples, giveaways and more!

Whole Foods Market All-Purpose Cleaner for Earth Day!

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Have you made the switch to green products yet? If not, now is the perfect time. If you’re like me, you are a fan of all-purpose cleaners. Having bottles and bottles of cleaners under the sink is annoying. They take up precious cabinet space and contribute to waste. Savvy marketing techniques make us believe that we need one cleaner for the oven, one for windows, another for bathrooms, and even one for wood. If certain cleaners may damage your wood furniture or floors, did you ever stop and think the ingredients they contain may be damaging to you and your family?

Sadly, there are currently no regulations for listing the ingredients found in cleaning products. This is one of the main reasons I stopped using conventional varieties years back and began shopping at Whole Foods Market. Sure, you can find reputable brands that are eco and health conscious (i.e. Meyer’s and Method) at other stores, but they can be very pricey.

In a recent post I wrote about Whole Foods Market’s very own Eco-Scale (see previous post). It is a huge step in the right direction to protecting us, the consumers. So, this week I finally sampled the Whole Foods Market All-Purpose Cleaner. After trying several different (more expensive) cleaners, I am thrilled to finally be satisfied with the quality and confidence I am getting from the Whole Foods line and, contrary to popular belief, at such an affordable price.
At only $3.99 a bottle, I can use my All-Purpose Cleaner to wipe-up and wipe-down anything…tables, counters, sinks, windows, walls, even my wood furniture. I am very happy with the job it does. It cleans well and does not leave any sticky residue. The Citrus scent is so pleasant and refreshing and is made from 100% natural fragrance from essential oils. That is the best part…I can clean knowing I am not putting my family’s health at risk or posing a threat to the environment. The cleaner does NOT contain any Phosphates, Phthalates, Chlorine or Sodium Laureth Sulfate. These are typical ingredients and chemicals that are found in conventional cleaning products that are very toxic, can aggravate allergies and asthma, and have been linked to cancer.
The ingredients found in the Whole Foods Market All-Purpose Cleaner give it a rating of YELLOW on the Whole Foods Eco-Scale, which makes it a much safer product to use than the majority of typical big name brands. It is also biodegradable and safe for septic and grey water systems and the bottle is even made from 50% post-consumer recycled material.

If you’re looking to make the switch to green products (which you should!) or just in search of a new cleaner (so you can get rid of all those bottles taking up space!) I highly recommend Whole Foods Market All-Purpose Cleaner. Many participating locations will be giving away free bottles on Earth Day when you bring in one of your conventional cleaning products from home. Go to their website to find out if you’re local Whole Foods Market will be hosting this event.

REMEMBER: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE. HAPPY EARTH DAY!