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5 Energy Bars To Buy, Eat, Support

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5 Energy Bars To Buy, Eat, Support

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I think the number one question I get and a mistake that is so frequently made, has to do with energy/health/protein bars. There are literally thousands on the market. From Big Food that produce Fiber One Bars and Nature Valley to other bars like Quest Protein Bars, LaraBar (owned by General Mills).

Very, very few bars on the market are worth of your hard-earned dollar.

First, a quick breakdown of the unhealthy ones.

Fiber One Bars

Brand: General Mills who supports GMO*

Sample of ingredients: sugar, corn syrup, HFCS, two vegetable oils, vegetable glycerin, GMO soy and dairy, yellow 5 & 6 lake, red 40 lake, blue 1 lake, propylene glycol

Claim: daily requirement of fiber

Truth: manufactured fiber, not real fiber from real food

Nature Valley Granola Bars

Brand: General Mills*

Sample of ingredients: GMO corn, GMO soy, High Maltose Corn Syrup, 3 oils, rice maltodextrin

Claim: protein bar

Truth: GMO protein and ingredients

(How people even think this is a protein/energy bar, well, I'm not quite sure! They were sponsors of The Biggest Loser so that's why I included it here.)

Quest Protein Bars

Brand: Quest Nutrition

Sample of Ingredients: GMO dairy, GMO whey (part of dairy), sucralose, artificial sweeteners (Splenda), sugar alcohols (Erythritol, Xylitol). (Note: they claim that they are GMO free, but this not stated anywhere on website or labels. Buyer beware.)

Claim: a natural protein bar, "junk free" (this company is very unethical, do not buy, eat, or support)

Truth: protein is from GMO dairy, includes artificial sweetener sucralose (zero calorie sweetener) which the body can’t break down. Zero calorie sweeteners deceive the body, trick the brain (you'll crave more & more), and cause health problems. Sucralose is a toxic, fake sweetener known as Splenda and the following health ailments have been reported from it: 

  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Seizures, dizziness and migraines
  • Blurred vision
  • Allergic reactions
  • Blood sugar increases and weight gain
  • Cancer  
  • Type 2 Diabetes 

Sugar alcohols such as Erythritol, Xylitol disrupt the oral AND gut microbiome. Since one of the places that health begins from is in the gut, sugar alcohols are a nightmare to living in optimal health. Any product that contains sugar alcohols must be avoided.   

Furthermore, this bar is also made with IMO (Isomaltooligosaccharide). This is why the fiber content is so high in this bar. The thing is that this fiber is fake. It's not real fiber! And anytime you give your body fake, highly processed, man-made food-like products, health problems WILL occur. Your body was not created to properly digest 17g of fiber from a lab-made bar.

A little free lesson: where does fiber come from? Fiber comes from organic veggies, nuts, seeds, fruits, hemp, chia- all foods from the earth, not a lab.

This bar is not real food and your body knows it.

This company is beyond unethical, false advertising, and deceptive marketing (cheat clean*). There is also a lawsuit against Quest Nutrition as well for these issues we've stated. But I digress.

*There is no such thing as "cheat clean"! Another reason why Quest is a dreadful company and bar is due to their false advertising and marketing tactics. They've done a good job at duping many people! "Cheat clean" is an oxymoron. It's like saying you got the oil changed in your car but you used dirty oil! Secondly, is cheating ever a good thing? If a person cheats in a relationship, do you want them to tell you they "cheated clean"? I should hope not!

The above ingredients in Quest are anything BUT clean. They are harmful to your health. Please do not be duped by their marketing ploys. 

Question to ask yourself: if you are cheating in your health and nutrition choices, what other areas of your life are you cheating in?

Anytime you have to justify something (I deserve it, I earned it, cheat clean, etc), it indicates an inner turmoil of knowing better but doing poorer and feeling guilty for said choice. Healthy choices do not need justification. 

If it's made in a lab, do not buy or eat!

LaraBar

Brand: General Mills*

Ingredients: nuts and fruits

Claim: organic fruit and nut bar

Truth: owned by General Mills who as you know supports and funds GMO. Lara Bars are not organic. Many people think they are but they are not. Lara Bar did recently come out with an organic bar line.  

So what bars can you buy, eat and support? Here are the top 5 (now 8) energy/health/protein that I personally recommend (and buy, eat, support).

Bearded Brothers

A small company based in Austin, TX. Strictly a raw fruit, seed and nut bar. Naturally gluten free, organic, plant-based.  Colossal Coconut Mango is my go-to bar when cycling or running (and traveling and…)

Go Raw

Another organic raw bar I love. My favorite kind is Spirulina. Also a small company.

Go Macro

My personal favorite is Wholehearted Heaven: almond butter+carob. A small company based in Wisconsin.

evo Hemp

Based out of Boulder, Colorado, this newer small bar company makes raw, plant-based, naturally gluten free and organic energy bars. I love Cashew Cacao.

Raw Revolution

UPDATE March 3, 2016: I've removed this brand as their ingredients aren't as pure from when I first wrote this. 

Whole Me

A 6th addition to this list because we fell in love with this small company and bar! They believe in REAL food, REAL ingredients. These bars are paleo, naturally gluten free, and downright delicious. We wholeheartedly approve!

Amrita

Another small company that uses real food as ingredients. Nut free so perfect for those with allergies.

Simple Squares

Another one of my personal favorites. Pure, simple, organic ingredients with different combinations of herbs+spices (like clove, ginger, cinnamon, chili pepper, rosemary) which are great anti-inflammatories! Nuts are the protein content. Small company based out of Chicago. 

Thunderbird 

While Thunderbird is not organic they are GMO free and made with real food ingredients, I'm including them on this list as they are a much better choice than Quest or Natural Valley! 

They use spices (turmeric!) and superfood (maca!) in some of their bar flavors. Vegan, Paleo, sugar free as well as sugar alcohol free, these are a good choice for your health. 

Navitas Naturals

I'm so excited that Navitas Naturals introduced a bar to their stellar lineup of superfood products! 

These bars are organic and chock full of superfood ingredients your body will love. Naturally GMO free and plant-based, these bars are an excellent choice! 

Criteria for buying health/energy bars:

  • Research company (are they sustainable? Not owned by Big Food or GMO supporting?)
  • Raw is the best choice (no fear of gluten, GMO dairy, animal-based protein)
  • Make sure protein source comes from nuts, seeds, hemp (not soy, peanuts or dairy)
  • Organic
  • Oat/grain free 
  • Free from artificial sugars, sweeteners, sugar alcohols 
  • The sweetener should come from dates, raw honey, 100% pure maple syrup, organic fruit 
  • Packaging- several on this have compostable packaging. This is something you want to look for. 
  • Ask me! 

*The Grocery Manufacturing Association (GMA) spent $22 million for anti-GMO labeling in Washington State (I-522) and General Mills directly contributed $869,270). GMA spent $45 million for anti-GMO labeling in California (prop 37). Source.

Disclaimer: I have not been paid to endorse any of the brands mentioned in this post. I've bought these bars and vetted them through my careful and strict criteria. Nov 7, 2013 / Feb 11, 2015. 

photo credit: Daniel E Lee

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The Organic Food Debate is it Better?

A recent study from Stanford University has created uproar over organic foods, claiming organic food was not more nutritious than conventional food.   The review, which looked at 240 studies from around the world on the health effects of eating organic and the comparative levels of nutrients and contaminants, made headlines because it supposedly struck a blow against the perception that cheaper, conventional grown produce – which usually involves both pesticides and chemical fertilizers – is bad for you. While determining whether organic foods are better than conventional foods has been highly debatable, the USDA makes no claims that organic foods are safer or more nutritious than conventional foods.   In regards to one’s health there isn’t much difference between organic and conventional foods, the real issue and reason why most people  buy organic foods is the exposure to pesticides, restriction of food additives and buying organic helps the environment. The article failed to mention these factors as well as GMO’s, high fructose corn syrup, mercury in food supply and countless others.  As a result of this fatally flawed study 2,900 have signed a petition at change.org calling for the paper to be withdrawn.

Based on the extreme uproar the study has caused it makes me wonder how important buying organic really is and whether buying organic is better.

To better understand the differences between organic and conventional see the detailed chart.

Conventional Organic
Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth. Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.
Spray synthetic insecticides to reduce pests and disease. Spray pesticides from natural sources; use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.
Use synthetic herbicides to manage weeds. Use environmentally-generated plant-killing compounds; rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.
Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth. Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing — to help minimize disease.

 

Whether you decide to go totally organic or opt to mix conventional and organic foods, here are some simple tips you can follow to reduce risk of pesticides when buying produce suggested by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Select a variety of foods from a variety of sources. This will give you a better mix of nutrients and reduce your likelihood of exposure to a single pesticide.
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in season when possible. To get the freshest produce, ask your grocer what day new produce arrives. Or check your local farmers market.
  • Read food labels carefully. Just because a product says it's organic or contains organic ingredients doesn't necessarily mean it's a healthier alternative. Some organic products may still be high in sugar, salt, fat or calories.
  • Wash and scrub fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water. Washing helps remove dirt, bacteria and traces of chemicals from the surface of fruits and vegetables.

Photo credit: Steph1201

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Frito Lay Makes Gluten Free Living a Breeze

If you haven’t heard already one of the largest manufactures of the World Frito Lay and Pepsi Co its parent corporation are making a big difference in the gluten free community.  As part of a multi-year initiative launched in May as part of National Celiac Disease Awareness month  Frito Lay vowed to make snacking much easier and enjoyable for celiac and gluten sensitive consumers.  Frito Lay commenced an effort to test, verify and label its gluten free products, partnered with Recipe Redux, a network of registered dieticians and healthy food bloggers to offer its gluten free fans with delicious simple recipes. They also partnered with “Gluten Free Girl” Shauna James Ahem for tips on gluten free living. Despite controversies of false labeling on foods to capitalize on the growing popularity, Frito Lay is going through great measures to test ingredients and finished products for the presence of gluten.  Any products containing less than 200ppm of gluten off the manufacturing line (in accordance with the FDA’s proposed rule for gluten free labeling) will be labeled as gluten free.

Not only have the gone through major measures to ensure that their labeling is genuinely correct,  last month they launched a gluten free recipe section on its corporate website www.fritolay.com. The new featured section includes recipes that can be paired with Frito Lay gluten free snacks using a variety of America’s favorite chips such as Lays Classic Potato chips, Frito’s original corn, and my favorite Tostitos Scoops.

Finding gluten free alternatives that everyone can enjoy can often be cumbersome tasks, especially when it comes to America’s favorite snacks.  Frito Lay has noticed the demand and responding in a great way to make gluten free snacking and eating more enjoyable for the entire family.  It is with great hope that with the Frito Lay initiative that it will encourage other major manufactures to follow suit.

To learn even more about gluten free living, gluten recipes, resources and chat with other gluten free foodies I encourage you to check out the Udi’s Gluten Free Living Community. You can learn even more about the benefits, get recipes and join discussions. You can even join Udi’s gluten free community on your mobile device! Get recipes, event alerts & special offers. Text UDISGF to 777555. (Msg/data rates may apply.

photo credit: MikeyRSinglemom

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Gluten Free Foods Taking Retailers by Storm

As a growing number of Americans intolerant to gluten; a protein found in wheat and some other grains continues to increase, retailers and food companies are beginning to take notice.  It was only a few years ago when gluten free foods were almost non-existent, but now with more and more Americans suffering from celiac disease and other gluten sensitivities retailers are starting tomeet the growing demand.

Gluten free foods are no longer just available at select health foods stores, but have now become available at Target and local grocery stores. Although many follow gluten free diets that have no medical related issues at all, as much as 35 million people follow the diet because of increased energy, weight loss and overall improvement in health as a result of the diet.  Other followers of gluten free diets are following the trend. More people are learning they cannot eat gluten as physicians become better at detecting when the ingredient is making patients sick. That's giving food businesses confidence that demand won't fade after the fad does.

Check out this interesting infographic plus a allergy and gluten free scanner app made available from fooducate  http://blog.fooducate.com/2012/08/16/gluten-and-food-allergy-updates-infographic/

Gluten-free packaged foods are selling fast despite their generally higher cost, both for producers and consumers. Substitute flours and other ingredients can be more expensive, but as many as 23 million Americans have no choice right now but to pay up when it comes to gluten-free foods.

Gluten can clearly make them sick. And 3 million to 4 million of them have celiac disease, which causes the immune system to attack the body itself.

Common symptoms of gluten free sensitivities and celiac disease include:

  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorbtion e.g. low iron levels
  • Gastro-intestinal problems (bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea)
  • Fat in the stools (due to poor digestion)
  • Aching joints
  • Depression
  • Eczema
  • Head aches
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability and behavioral changes
  • Infertility, irregular menstrual cycle and miscarriage
  • Cramps, tingling and numbness
  • Slow infant and child growth
  • Decline in dental health

Undiagnosed for long periods of time, food intolerances have been found to contribute to diabetes, bowel cancer, anemia and osteoporosis.

Gluten free diets provide overwhelming benefits to your health and can help ease medical conditions with adjustments of your diet.  Sarah Stanley is a strong advocate and community leader for Udi’s gluten free community, which provides a resource for news, updates, community chats and more! I encourage you to check out the Udi’s Gluten Free Living Community. You can learn even more about the benefits, get recipes and join discussions. You can even join Udi’s gluten free community on your mobile device! Get recipes, event alerts & special offers. Text UDISGF to 777555. (Msg/data rates may apply.

 

 

 

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