A Bit More to Love

Do you ever have one of those days when you just don’t feel motivated to lace up your tennis shoes and hit the gym, let alone get out of bed to start your day? If your answer to this question is “Yes!” then don’t worry, you’re not alone. Whether you stayed up way too late catching up on your favorite Netflix series, just finished a week-long stint of hitting spin class at 6am sharp every morning or you simply just don’t feel like moving your body, everyone needs a little extra “oomph” now and then.

Fortunately, there’s a super-green, super-healthy and super-cute plant-based “bit” that packs a mean energy punch into a tiny little package. If you’re an avid follower of Edible Epiphanies, you may have read my first review of ENERGYbits® a couple years ago, but now they’re back and better than ever with a whole new line-up of bits to help you fuel, detoxify and even lose weight!

** KEEP READING TO ENTER OUR BITS GIVEAWAY!!! **

The Boston-based company expanded their line of algae-infused bits to not only include ENERGYbits, which are designed to improve endurance, increase alertness and heighten energy levels, but also added RECOVERYbits®, VITALITYbits® and SKINNYbits®. energybitsAt first sight, these little green gems may look and smell a bit off-putting because of their pungent plant-infused qualities, but don’t be fooled, because these bits jam a powerful boost of nutrition into each tab.

RECOVERYbits are made of just one ingredient – chlorella algae – which naturally cleanses and detoxifies your body’s systems by clearing harmful toxins. At just one calorie a piece, these small tabs will help you stay healthy through cold and flu season or overcome a nasty holiday party hangover if included as a regular part of your daily diet. singleservingbitsWhen you’re having one of those days I described at the beginning of this post, VITALITYbits are the first thing for which you should reach. They are made of 50 percent chlorella algae and 50 percent spirulina algae, providing an impressive combination of superfood nutrition to help boost your immune system, increase energy and stave off hunger.

For all you hardcore dieters, moms looking to lose those last few pounds of baby weight and trainers interested in leaning out, SKINNYbits give you just what you need. These tiny tabs are made from 100 percent organic non-GMO spirulina algae, and work to suppress cravings, keep you energized and give you a healthy dose of plant protein.

The best feature about the full bit line is the amazing amount of nutrition packed into such a small morsel. The company uses only the highest quality, organically grown spirulina and chlorella algae, making them friendly for vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters alike. By keeping a refillable travel tin or single serving pouch in your car, purse or backpack, you always have access to an instant boost or hunger buster. The size and consistency of each bit is similar to a mini Altoid, and the taste is as natural as it gets!

Want to try these all-natural plant-based bits for FREE? CLICK HERE here to enter my FACEBOOK CONTEST! One lucky winner will win $75 worth of ENERGYbits swag and products!

To enter:

1. Follow Edible Epiphanies and ENERGYbits on Facebook

2. Like the giveaway post on Edible Epiphanies’ Facebook page

3. Tag a fitness fanatic with whom you’d share your bits in the comments section of the Facebook giveaway post

Enter by 12pm PST on Wednesday, October 5th.

GOOD LUCK!

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When Minty Met Chippy

If you were to ask me which flavor of ice cream is my favorite, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I adore anything chocolate, savor sweet swirls of caramel and crave a bit of crunch, but with so many varieties out there, it’s nearly impossible to select just one. However, there is one kind of ice cream that not only serves as a delightfully refreshing post-meal treat, but also satisfies that insatiable chocolate craving…Mint Chip!

Mint chip ice cream is one of those classic flavors that is perfect on a hot summer day, but also somehow incredibly comforting on a cold winter evening. It is basic enough that it doesn’t feel over-done but it’s also uniquely decadent that it surprises the taste buds in all the right ways.

Every ice cream maker out there – from Breyer’s to Häagen-Dazs – produces a variation of the flavor with different levels of mint and chocolate additions. While the full-fat, full-dairy, chocolatey chunk-filled manufacturers certainly know how to churn a batch, they’re not exactly the healthiest options when it comes to sugar, fat and carbohydrate content.

That’s why, as an avid gluten-free, health-conscious fitness enthusiast, I’m focusing my review on two of the healthiest options around and placing them head to head for the ultimate chip-off!

First up, Arctic Zero’s “Cool Mint Chip:” This fit frozen dessert is perfectly flavored with just the right amount of peppermint that instantly cools the mouth upon first bite. Although not as creamy as its higher fat counterparts, its consistency is still adequate after a few minutes of defrosting or a quick zap in the microwave. This is a fair compromise, however, as the product is gluten free, lactose free, and GMO free, and its main ingredient is purified water. To make up for it its lack of creaminess is its generous amount of tiny chocolate chips. This pint is jam-packed with teeny morsels of delicious chocolate that pair perfectly with the invigorating mint freshness. At only 75 calories and two grams of fat per half-cup serving , this dessert is also beneficial for post-workout recovery since it’s made with whey protein. Overall, if you can adjust to an “icier” consistency, this mint chip frozen treat is a great option for a daily dessert.

Comparing the former to this second treat was difficult, as Halo Top’s Mint Chip is also a highly enjoyable dessert option. When it comes to consistency and texture, this brand definitely takes the cake over Arctic Zero, but falls short in other areas. First, let’s look at its positives: its mint flavor is absolutely delightful! It is subtle enough that it doesn’t overpower the palate but apparent enough that you feel rejuvenated and refreshed after sitting down to a bowl. After a few minutes on the kitchen counter or a brief stint in the microwave, this pint is ready to devour. It is also low in sugar and carbohydrates, containing half the amount of sugar per serving as Arctic Zero. In addition, it contains double the amount of protein, which is primarily sourced from its milk content. While this pint is also slightly lower in calories, it has a bit more fat, but this contributes to its smoother, creamier texture. Its one major downfall is its lack of chocolate chips. While Arctic Zero’s Cool Mint Chip guarantees at least a few chips in every delectable spoonful, Halo Top’s Mint Chip requires a bit of digging. In fact, there wasn’t a single chip in sight until I got a few spoonfuls deep. Overall, this pint hit the mark in taste and texture, but came in second with regards to chippyness.

So there you have it! The head-to-head battle of the healthiest Mint Chip ice cream on the market. You may have noticed I didn’t call out a downright favorite, because this would be an impossible task. Both have their pros and cons, so it comes down to your preference. If calorie count and chocolate chip content are major deciding factors for you, opt for the Arctic Zero. However, if you’re hankering for a creamy, low-carb option, then Halo Top has you covered!

The Top 3 Highest-Rated Protein Bars

I’ll admit it – I’ve fallen victim to trendy, celebrity-endorsed diet fads that promise the golden ticket to increased energy, lean muscle mass or endless fat-burning power. After trying countless gritty protein powders and bloat-inducing nutrition bars (which I combined with strenuous workouts and a balanced diet), I was only left with disappointment. Not only was I nowhere near having the physique of a sculpted athlete, but I had wasted all my allotted snack breaks with chalky, tasteless products that may have rated low on the glycemic index but definitely rated high on the “bleh” scale.

So, I set out to scour the shelves of my local natural foods stores, GNCs and Vitamin Shoppes in hopes of finding tasty, nutritious protein bars that met all of my criteria.

First, they had to be high in protein. Yes, this is easy to find in many of the bars on the market today, but I’m talking about quality protein that is highly digestible, easily absorbed and has a stellar amino acid profile.

Second, they had to be low in carbohydrates and sugar. Many protein bars and powders, high-fiber snack bars, and baked good replacements taste great, but only because they are loaded with refined sugar and simple carbohydrates. The goal was to find protein bars with the lowest amount of net carbs and no added sugar.

Finally, they had to have the right texture. If you’re like me, you’re sensitive to the texture, density and overall “mouth feel” of foods. This is huge, because I am not a fan of airy, crispy snack bars that leave me feeling completely unsatisfied because they’re not dense or “hearty” enough.

After indexing these must-haves in my mind, I began my quest and was pleasantly surprised with what I found:

Protein Bars

1) D’s Naturals No Cow Bars

Around the same time I embarked on this protein pilgrimage, I caught the tail end of a segment on “Good Morning America” touting the delightful creations of 19-year-old Daniel Katz, Founder & CEO of D’s Naturals. After watching in awe as he described his all-natural vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free protein bars that are “ridiculously low sugar” (each bar contains just one gram) and high in protein (protein content ranges from 20-22 grams per bar), I knew I had to check them out. At this time, only four flavors existed, including Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Raspberry Truffle, Blueberry Cobbler, and Mint Cocao Chip, so I stocked up at my local GNC. Mint Cocoa Chip quickly became my favorite, as its flavor profile, texture and bits of crunchy cocao excited my mouth and satisfied my hunger pangs. I couldn’t believe how low in calories and fat they were, and that they actually tasted as sweet as they did. To my delight, the company recently added four more flavors to their collection, which are already gracing the shelves of my pantry. These include Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chocolate Banana Bread, Dark Raspberry Truffle, and Lemon Meringue Pie. Give these a try and I bet you’ll fall in love at first bite!

2) Oh Yeah! One Bar

It took me a while to stumble upon this bar, but once I tried the Chocolate Brownie OhYeah! ONE bar, I was hooked. The perfectly rich taste and texture, the soft chocolatey coating and the absence of any artificial aftertaste make this bar rate high on my list. This particular flavor is also one of the lowest in calories and fat among the collection, coming in at just 210 calories and less than 7 grams of fat. I couldn’t believe this bar contained only one gram of sugar, because its flavor profile is incredible! It combines the perfect pairing of sweetness and heartiness in a filling on-the-go meal that satisfies your hunger and your sweet tooth. For those of you who aren’t big on decadent chocolate, the ONE bar comes in a number of other flavors, including Almond Bliss, Lemon Cake, Cinnamon Roll, Birthday Cake, and Peanut Butter Pie, among others. The most recent addition to their collection, Chocolate Birthday Cake, is not only delightfully rich, but is also topped with sprinkles that add an extra bit of crunch and color, making you feel like you’re eating dessert. Each bar is packed with 20-22 grams of a whey protein isolate/milk protein isolate blend, providing quality, hunger-satisfying protein.

3) MusclePharm Combat Crunch Bars

Every time I visited a GNC store, the eye-catching packaging of these intense-looking bars would leave me intrigued. I hesitated to try them, however, because I assumed by their size and the crunchy coating advertised on the wrapper that they were high in sugar and carbohydrates. While waiting in line to purchase my other favorites one day, I overheard some fellow health enthusiasts raving about Combat Crunch bars as they dumped handfuls of them onto the service counter. One gal even jumped in the air…literally…as she held the Cinnamon Twist flavor in her hand and exclaimed how excited she was that GNC carried this particular variety. At that point, my curiosity peaked, so I turned to the shelf where they were stocked. I picked up a random flavor and immediately flipped it over to examine the nutrition facts. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only this bar, but all other flavors of Combat Crunch bars, contained just 210 calories and only 5 grams of sugar! The outside coating gives the bar an extra layer of flavor and crunch, while the inside is dense but soft. I enjoyed the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Cinnamon Twist flavors the most, but often pick up their other flavors when I want to mix it up. The full line also includes Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Cookies ‘N Cream and White Chocolate Raspberry. Of course, like all of the protein bars and snacks I consume, these are gluten free and high in fiber.

Whether you’re looking for a quick snack between meetings, a post-workout recharge or a filling meal replacement, each of these protein bars offers a sweet combination of satisfying nutrition and delicious taste. They are the quintessential protein bars for the non-protein-bar type of person who wants a great-tasting snack without any fillers, additives, artificial aftertastes or judgment!

 

The ‘Rite’ Way to Enjoy Chocolate

Everyone has those moments…it’s late at night, you’re craving a little something sweet, but you don’t want to undo your whole day of healthy eating. If this is a familiar feeling, your search for the perfect solution is finally over. There is a nutritious, high-protein, fiber-filled way to enjoy a candy-bar like snack without the guilt! I’m referring to the exciting new additions to the ChocoRite collection of treats from HealthSmart Foods. They’ve just danced into the protein bar scene with exquisite new flavors that you can enjoy any time of day or night.

If you’re familiar with ChocoRite, you know they’re a trusted manufacturer of low-calorie, low-carbohydrate and low-glycemic impact snacks, including protein shakes, chocolate bars and candy bars, but did you also know they produce a full line of protein bars? These delectable uncoated and triple layer bars are made in a variety of flavors, including my favorites: the 100-calorie caramel cookie dough bar, the protein-packed caramel mocha bar and the irresistible cinnamon bun bar.

ChocoRite Protein Bars

The 100-calorie coated protein bar line is comprised of four flavors (plus an additional flavor at 105 calories) that contain 9 grams of protein and just 2 grams of net carbs! Flavors include peanut butter, salted caramel, triple chocolate fudge, caramel cookie dough, and cookies & cream.

ChocoRite’s uncoated protein bars have a hearty, clean taste and come in small and large sizes. The large uncoated bars contain between 200-220 calories, and pack your body with 20 grams of protein and only 3 grams of net carbs. The best part is that the bars are sugar free, but do not contain maltitol, which is a sugar alcohol used as a sugar substitute found in a number of other protein bars on the market.  Flavors in this collection include cookie dough, caramel mocha, butter pecan, pistachio nut, double chocolate extreme, yellow cake, and cinnamon bun.

The small uncoated protein bars are only 100 calories each and contain just 1 gram of net carbs! Flavors include cookie dough, yellow cake, cookies & cream, peanut butter, double chocolate extreme, and red velvet.

If you’re not salivating yet, then you need to give these a try. Once you do, you will be absolutely hooked! They are perfect as an on-the-go snack, pre-workout fuel or the solution to a late-night sweets craving. Order online or check the Edible Epiphanies Facebook page for a ChocoRite Protein Bar Giveaway!

A Sweet Revolution

The protein bar market is completely saturated with high-sugar, high-carbohydrate, fattening varieties that claim to be healthy but are actually comparable to many candy bars. Hidden ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated oil packed into many protein bars create a world of confusion for those looking to find a healthy, nutrient-dense meal replacement or workout recovery snack.

As you know by now, I am a HUGE fan of protein bars and find great joy in discovering the gems out there that are low in carbohydrates, high in fiber and contain little to no sugar. My most recent moment of delight came after enjoying the vegan, organic Raw Rev Glo bar in all of its glory.

Raw Revolution Organic Bars

Each of the five flavors bring something different to the table, but my favorite is the Dark Chocolate Cashew & Mint because of its refreshing minty taste, the heavenly chunks of Italian dark chocolate that melt in your mouth and the subtle crunch of organic chia seeds. This bar is also the flavor with the fewest calories of the Glo line with just 170 calories and 9 grams of fat.

All Raw Rev Glo bars are vegan, Kosher, non GMO, dairy free, vegetarian and gluten free, making them ideal additions to any diet. What I love most is the soft texture, which makes it not only delicious to enjoy on its own, but also makes it easy to use in high-protein recipes like my Protein-Packed PB&J Cups!

As you bite into the sweet peanut buttery goodness of the two peanut butter flavors (Creamy Peanut Butter & Sea Salt and Crunchy Peanut Butter & Sea Salt), you’ll fool your tastebuds into thinking they’re enjoying fresh scoops of peanut butter right out of the jar. If the bars are too soft and oily right out of the package for your taste, I recommend popping them into the refrigerator for an hour or so and they’ll become a bit more solid and chewy (just how I like them!)

Raw Rev Glo protein bars satisfy with just the right size, texture and bit of crunch without the high sugar content of similar bars. They are all made with raw, organic ingredients such as hemp protein, virgin coconut oil and sprouted flax seeds, among others, which means you can enjoy every last crumb without a bit of guilt.