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Archive for the ‘review’ Category

Core Foods Defender Meal Review

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

I recently had the pleasure of receiving a free sampler pack of a new-to-me vegan food bar called the Defender Meal from Core Foods. They come in three flavors, almond-raisin, walnut-banana, and cashew-cacao, and are made with only the simplest of organic ingredients, including oatmeal, nuts, and fruit. Furthermore, in addition to being vegan, they are raw and gluten-free.


Note: Their other line of bars, the Warrior Meal, contain whey.

The story behind the not-for-profit company’s origins and the inspiration for the bars is a fascinating one. The founder, Corey Rennell was a nutrition major at Harvard.

“In a research project partly underwritten by the Discovery Channel, Rennell lived with remote tribes in Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, rural Mexico and 11 other locations.”

He followed up that experience, where he learned much about how the world eats outside of the Standard American Diet — namely, a high-starch, raw food, mostly plant-based diet — with a stint at Whole Foods, and Core Foods was born.

Source: A Harvard Project Leads To A Healthy Snacks Startup, Forbes.com

“Sounds great,” you say, “but how do they taste?” Glad you asked, as I was eager to find out as well!

In order to get a wider range of opinions, as in the past when I’ve reviewed new vegan food products, I got together with friends for a little taste test. This time it was Scott, a fellow vegan, his wife, and their 4-year-old daughter.

We rated each on a scale of 1-5 for taste, texture, perceived healthfulness, and price (would you buy it at between $4-5 [a case of 10 costs $39.99 before shipping]). We tried not to influence one another, and took note of the little one’s reaction.

First up was the almond-raisin bar. This was hands-down the favorite of everyone with 4-5 on taste and texture. It was moist and had a good flavor of cinnamon and raisin, like a comforting bowl of oatmeal in the morning.

Next, we tried the walnut-banana, which due to some rough transit in the mail and the big pieces of walnut, was a bit broken up. No matter, the taste was still much appreciated; it was almost spot-on to that of a banana bread. The texture got slightly lower marks all around, as it was a little dry. Right about now, we all drank some water, prompted by their daughter’s request.

Last up was the cashew-cacao. Unfortunately, the initial reaction was that it was too bitter. Scott’s wife and daughter couldn’t finish their portions, but we persisted. It did grow on you a little as you ate more, but wow, that first bite was a surprise. There’s no added sweetener in any of these bars, which was great with all the fruit, but when it came to the cacao, its natural bitterness won the day.

For healthfulness, it was 5′s across the board on all of them, save for my 4 on the cashew-cacao due to its higher saturated fat content.

So, overall, pretty good and certainly filling. The price was perhaps a bit prohibitive. Scott did picture maybe picking some up if you knew you were going on a hike or something though. I could see it for a road trip too.

If you’d like a chance to win your own sampler pack, Core Foods has agreed to let me run a giveaway for my readers. You can enter here.

Unprocessed by Chef AJ

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Having received a review copy of Chef AJ’s new book Unprocessed some weeks ago, it’s about time I get down to saying a few words about it. Which, aside from finding that elusive chunk of so-called free time do so, is not hard at all. In other words, I’m really enjoying this one and can definitely see myself leaving it handy for the recipe ideas.


The book begins with Chef AJ’s story from childhood, when the food was good and wholesome, thru how it changed to the more Standard American Diet when she left the fold (and the sad times that followed), up thru making the choice to eat healthier and more simply (and the happiness that brought her).

Chef AJ cites her influences as, among others, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Dean Ornish, and, of course, The China Study by T.Colin Campbell, PhD.

Reading the works of these well-known vegan authors and advocates cemented her understanding of the hazards of added oils, sugar, and salt. The result was a clean and vibrant diet which she explains with ease and confidence in the first part of the book and which shines through in the remaining two-thirds comprising a collection of recipes, both her own and others’.

To my mind, this is a great first book to send a friend or family member as it’s filled with encouragement and guidance that is sure to have them at least taking their first inquisitive steps along the journey to health and well-being. The recipes are right up my alley too, with no added oils, sugar, or salt (though a few use low-sodium tamari, which is actually still rather high in it).

There are lots of dessert and snack recipes and soups and meals that feel ripe for entertaining guests. I’ll try to present a couple with pictures in future posts. In the meantime, when Chef AJ was asked over on Vegan Done Light’s Facebook page to name some of her favorites, she responded, “My favorite entree recipes are the white bean and kale lasagna and the sweet potato nachos.” -Chef AJ

Dr. Natura Colonix Review

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

I am currently midway thru the month-long Dr. Natura Colon Cleanse, sent to me gratis by a representative of DrNatura in return for a review.*

This is one of the easiest cleanses I’ve ever been on, and I’ve done quite a few. No worries about always being by the bathroom, no drinking olive oil or strange shakes all day and no fasting (just the logical recommendations to cut back on or eliminate alcohol, coffee, and fatty or sugary foods). Oh, and no enemas.

Ingredients include… Psyllium Husk, Flax Seed, Fennel Seed, Licorice Root, Papaya Fruit, Grapefruit Pectin, Slippery Elm Bark, Althea Root, Rhubarb Root, Guar Gum, Alfalfa, Peppermint Leaf, Uva Ursi Leaf, Aloe Vera, Stevia Extract, and Natural Banana Flavor.

The tastes is that of the licorice and fennel more so than the banana flavoring, but still much more palatable than straight psyllium or worse, some of the bentonite clay I’ve had on other programs.

The licorice root concerned me, since it can cause high blood pressure in some people, and considering my salt-sensitivity, I’ve been monitoring it throughout. Also, when, after the first week, the daily serving was increased, I kept it the same and just added plain psyllium to make up the difference. I’d be interested to know if they’ve had the glycyrrhizin removed. Or maybe they could offer a version sans licorice?


Milk thistle seed extract (80% silymarin), black walnut hulls, grapefruit seed 4:1 extract, clove bud, Pau d’arco bark, pumpkin seed, myrrh gum, turmeric root, garlic bulb, hyssop (aerial parts), gentian root, elecampane root, prickly ash bark, yellow dock root, fenugreek seed, peppermint leaf, false unicorn root.


Senna Leaf, Buckthorn Bark, Fennel Seed, Chamomile Flower, Cinnamon Bark, Peppermint Leaf, Ginger Root, Milk Thistle Seed, Rose Hip Fruit, Passion Fruit, Uva Ursi Leaf, and Natural Citrus Flavor.

As you can see on this label, if you are pregnant or nursing, or are not an adult, this cleanse is not for you. For example, senna leaf has been known to cause premature contractions, and the safety of pau d’arco in general is still debatable. I encourage you to click around the links above and learn more about the ingredients and be sure to consult with your physician if you have any preexisting medical conditions.

Lastly, if you’re looking for poop stories and TMI pictures, they have those too; check out the testimonials and pictures linked at the top of their site. For me, it’s been pretty mild, probably because I get a lot of fiber in my diet anyway.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention, while you’re doing this cleanse, you should drink plenty of water, but not too much. Don’t worry, they give guidelines in the accompanying instructions. They also recommend taking a probiotic supplement. (They sell one, if you don’t have a favorite. I just ate plenty of vegan soy yogurt.)

Cafe Indigo

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

New Hampshire isn’t exactly known for its vegan fare. In the Northeast, that approbation probably goes to Massachusetts or Vermont. I don’t know. Nevertheless, if you look hard enough and listen well to the word-of-mouth, you can find a few little gems. One that shines particularly bright to my mind reflects that treasure hunt with its location, hidden away on the outskirts of Concord, NH in what feels like an office park.

My first introduction to Cafe Indigo was on the Sunday following a multi-day, state-wide power outage due to high winds. I’d spent the night at my friend Scott’s home and we met another buddy there for one of their twice-monthly brunches.

We were all duly impressed and Scott and I soon made plans to repeat the experience. Alas, our wires crossed a bit, so come Friday when I asked if we were still on, it was not to be. We rescheduled for the next one. Meanwhile, I’d worked myself up in anticipation and decided to go it alone.

I brought a chess magazine and just sat there enjoying some quiet time with a cup or two of coffee and a delicious meal. Somehow it felt apropos the issue I’d randomly chosen as reading material was focused that month on women in chess; this completely vegan bakery/diner is, after all, owned by three young female entrepreneurs!

Someday I’ll have to stop by during lunch, even if it is a little over an hour away. Here’s how the brunch works. First things first, of course, coffee. Organic choices, both with and without caffeine. From the menu you then pick a main dish. Last time I had the rancheros, this time the scramble (shown here half eaten).


tofu scramble, rosemary potatoes, vegan sausage, and pure maple syrup

While you wait, you have time to make a few “little of this, little of that” selections from the salad bar. Everything looks so amazing, you have to at least taste each one. (And yes, they live up the visual cues.)


sesame noodles, homemade hummus, bean salads, apple scone

Then, if you’ve left room — or more likely strategically had it before the main course arrived — there are desserts for which to live, including their famous vegan carrot cake. OMG! The chocolate cake was good too, but I was really looking forward to the even more moist chocolate cupcakes from my inaugural visit.


wheat free lasagne, chocolate cake, carrot cake

As before, I left stuffed. A “clean” fullness though. You know, the kind you feel only in your belly not in your arteries. ;) Highly recommended. Maybe I’ll see you there?


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