“Real Food” Bars

While I know most people do not enjoy grocery shopping, I am quite the opposite. Walking through aisles of the grocery store (especially at Whole Foods) for me is like a kid in candy store. All of options blow my mind. I could spend hours and hours reading every label and spend way too much money trying the new and crazy products on the market. One that I have recently become obsessed with is the snack bar whose only ingredients are fruit, nuts, and spices-nothing else (no chemicals, no preservatives, no added sugar, no nothing-only real food!).

I first tried the Raw Bite brand when I was studying in Copenhagen. Denmark has a 7/11 store on every corner filled with healthy snacks, pre-made salads, along with the usual candy bars and chips you find at 7/11 in the U.S, so finding the Raw Bite bars was a piece of cake. Pretty much all of the flavors are made of dates, raisins, nuts, and cashews, plus whatever gives it a distinct flavors (cocoa, peanuts, etc.). After coming back to U.S., I was on a mission to find a replacement for the Raw Bite bars I ate in Europe; the closest things: Lärabar.

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The main ingredient in Lärabars is dates and then each flavor has different fruits and spices to make them unique. Unfortunately they aren’t sold on every street corner 7/11 like in Europe, but I have been able to find them pretty easily at the grocery store (and not just at Whole Foods). My favorite flavors are Coconut Cream Pie, Apple Pie, Coconut Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Cookie- each with no more than six ingredients. Because they are made of mostly fruit, they are high in sugar (natural sugar, that is) and low in protein. This makes them a good snack, but they shouldn’t replace a meal like breakfast. I snacked on these all summer and are great during my back-to-back classes, but one of my favorite times to have them is a few hours after dinner when I need a little something sweet while working on my homework (the new Mini Lärabars are perfect for this!). The sweetness from the dates hits the spot when I don’t want something too dessert-like.

While Lärabars are my all-time favorite of the “real food” bar brands, more and more have been popping up recently. Kind makes Pressed by Kind bars that are just fruit (and depending on the flavor they also have vegetables and chia seeds). So far I have tried and enjoyed the Cherry Apple Chia and the Pineapple Banana Kale Spinach. There are also That’s It bars that are made of apples and one other fruit. They are sold at Starbucks so they are my go-to if I forget to bring a snack with me during the day. Because these two bars don’t have nuts in them like Lärabars, they are lower in fat and calories but aren’t as filling.

 

I’m always on the look-out for new products (especially snacks with no artificial ingredients) so if you have any recommendations, please send them my way!

 

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National Nutrition Month + Healthy Ice Cream

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Happy National Nutrition Month! While I probably should have written this post for the beginning of the month, I figured it is still March so it is still acceptable. Each year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics runs a campaign for the month of March that focuses on the importance of “making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits”. This years theme: Savor the Flavor of Eating Right. The message: healthy eating can and should taste good. I am definitely a fan of this year’s theme because there is no way to have sustainable healthy eating habits if you do not enjoy what you are eating. With this in mind, I though I would share this healthy and delicious ice cream recipe that won’t break the calorie bank. Plus, you can make it will all natural ingredients. Hope you enjoy!

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Study abroad update: Dublin was absolutely amazing and is definitely near the top of my list of favorite cities. This week I’m headed to Prague, Czech Republic and Nuremberg, Germany 🙂

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Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Justin’s Hazelnut Butter

I want to introduce you to my new friend Justin. I have never met him before, but he makes some pretty amazing hazelnut butter similar to Nutella. Nutella is made out of hazelnuts, along with many other ingredients, including sugar- lots and lots of sugar. In fact, the first ingredient (the most prominent by volume) in Nutella is…Can you guess?…SUGAR!

So what makes Justin’s Hazelnut Butter so special? When compared to an equal amount of Nutella, it has about twice as much protein and fiber and less than half as much sugar. Not to mention, almost all of the ingredients are organic. Overall it is a much more nutritious option when is comes to sweet, chocolatey snacks.

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My favorite is to enjoy this one plain, directly out of the 1.15oz squeeze packs. If plain hazelnut spread is not your thing, try it on strawberries, apples, bananas, pretzels, or marshmallows. I like the squeeze packs because they are easy to grab on the go and I don’t have to think about how much I am eating, although it does also come in a 16oz jar.

Next time you have an after-dinner craving for something sweet, Justin’s Hazelnut Butter is the way to go.

Here is a link to some recipes Justin has come up with using his hazelnut butter. You can also try some of his other products (his almond butter is pretty tasty too!).