Where’s the Beef?! (No Cow Bar Review)

Hey everyone!! Long time no blog!

It feels like an eternity since I last posted, life got pretty busy with competition prep, work, and grad school applications. But I’m back!! ūüôā

Competing in my first figure show was a whirlwind of an experience, I actually placed second in my class! It got me even more addicted to the sport of bodybuilding than I ever thought possible. I’m currently taking a long offseason to add some quality size to my frame…EAT ALL THE THINGS! ūüėÄ

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Since my diet isn’t as strict during offseason, I can fit some treats into my macros. Additionally, I¬†have two free meals a week that go untracked. So, when I stumbled across D’s Naturals¬†No Cow Bars towards the end of my prep, I made sure to bookmark their website to try out there stuff as soon as offseason began.

What makes No Cow Bars so unique? They have the macronutrient profile of many other high fiber protein bars on the market, but they’re made without milk products or whey protein! They’re soy free, dairy free, vegan, gluten free, and high fiber.¬†Perfect for plant-based, vegan¬†athletes or people just trying to grab a healthier snack.

I contacted the company and they graciously sent me samples of their three current flavors: blueberry cobbler, peanut butter cookie dough, and mint chocolate chip!

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So without further ado, here’s a taste review! ūüôā

(Note, I was not paid or endorsed to say anything about these bars. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.)

Taste: Blueberry Cobbler: I gave this bar to my mom as a snack for work (hence no picture). She said it tasted very fruity with major emphasis on the blueberry. The little freeze dried blueberries in the bar provided a lot of flavorful zing! 

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough: Reminded me of the powdered peanut butter PB2 in flavor. Sweet but not overpowering, tiny chunks of chocolate and peanuts, more peanut buttery than chocolate.

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Mint Chocolate Chip: IDENTICAL to a thin mint Girl Scout cookie. Little mint chunks in the bar really added to the overall flavor. I got kind of tired of the flavor by the time the bar was over though.

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Texture: Each flavor was VERY soft, almost dough-like. The peanut butter cookie dough was a bit grainy, but not bad. The mint chocolate was probably the softest and best texture. All had tiny chunks of chocolate, fruit or nuts in them. I didn’t try them heated, but I bet they’d taste like fresh baked cookies.

Smell: Blueberry Cobbler: Grandma’s fresh pie ūüôā Peanut Butter Cookie Dough: A brand new jar of peanut butter or a Reese’s cup!¬†Mint Chocolate Chip: Thin mint cookies all the way!

Price: $29.99 per box (Store locator on their website, may be able to find them cheaper locally)

Nutrition: 20-21g of quality plant protein, 25g carbs (19 of which fiber), between 2.5-5g fat, 2g net sugar, and roughly 200mg sodium.

Ingredients: Blueberry Cobbler: 71BNi2mG2LL__SL1300_

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough: 

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Mint Chocolate Chip: 71wmnY10r0L__SX522_

Overall:¬†I probably would buy again and highly recommend them! The texture was a lot better than other high protein bars on the market and they digested well. The only thing I’m not a fan of is erythritol since it has the tendency to¬†upset my stomach, but I had no ill-effects from these.¬†I can’t wait to see what other flavors they come up with!

Thanks again D’s Naturals for allowing me to do this review!!

If you’re interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to check out D’s naturals’ website, Facebook page, or Instagram (@DsNaturals)

Breakfast Never Tasted So Good (Review)

When I say the word “oatmeal,” what pops into your head?

A¬†piping hot¬†bowl of delicious mush that greets you on a cold, winter morning? Grandma’s homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, fresh out of the oven? Tiny round grains sprinkled on top of yogurt or featured on the crust of your favorite bread?

Well, what if you could create your own flavor and ingredient combination to replicate your favorite form of oats?

Tada!¬†Lemme introduce you to… My Oatmeal!

After hearing about My Oatmeal from friends on Instagram, I contacted the company regarding blog reviews. Anthony, the founder, got back to me right away and GRACIOUSLY provided me with an opportunity to sample some of their products.

I was more excited than a dog chasing a squirrel.

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Before I begin though, I have to mention that I was not paid or influenced in any way for this review. The opinions I express are solely my own.

Onto the review!

Basically, this company rocks.

First off, the website was SO much fun to navigate. I loved being able to pick ingredients and see the nutritional information of your creation pop up on the sidebar. The ingredients were also arranged in easy-to-follow categories like fruits, nuts, sweeteners, flavors, and oat or PB lean type. And did I mention the copious amounts of flavors?! It was hard to decide! Red velvet cake, banana bread, sugar cookie, german chocolate cake…the list of exotic, unique flavors goes on and on! Another cool touch is that you can name your DIY’ed food goodie bag–perfect to mark your territory ermmm….I mean customize your creation.

So how did they measure up?

“Holy Baboons” Oatmeal– Gluten free quick oats with banana bread flavor and dates.

Banana Bread Dates Oatmeal

Taste: Tasted like fresh baked banana bread and just the right amount of sweetness. Really nice after flavor, too. Next time I’d get more dates though, there weren’t a whole lot in the mix. My mom said this was her absolute favorite!

Texture: Very smooth and soft, cooked great in the microwave.

Smell: Bananas!!

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“Not Your Average Cookie” Oatmeal– Gluten free thick rolled oats with oatmeal cookie flavor,¬†honey flavor and organic cane juice crystals

Oatmeal Cookie Honey Oats

Taste: Identical to a true oatmeal cookie, and a little hint of honey. Super delicious! Totally want to use this in cookie batter one day.

Texture: Very grainy, I think I should cook it on the stove next time, it never got really soft.

Smell: Fresh baked oatmeal cookies, it made the kitchen smell amazing! Super inviting aroma.

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“Gingerbread Goodum” PB Lean– light roasted, powdered peanut butter with gingerbread flavor and brown cane sugar

Gingerbread PB Lean

Taste: The peanut taste sorta overpowered the gingerbread when it was eaten alone. When I added powder to a smoothie, it blended well and gave a pleasant, peanutty flavor. Just wish there was a little more of a gingerbread flavor.

Texture: I added a little bit of water gradually and stirred until it had a creamy, paste-like consistency. AWESOME! It made smoothies thick, too.

Smell: Mostly peanut butter, with a tiny hint of gingerbread.

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Overall: I will definitely be purchasing from My Oatmeal again, five stars! Not only do they have a ton of options, but the oatmeal is high quality and delicious. I’m considering using the oats in cookies one day, can you imagine the deliciousness?!

Thanks again so much Anthony, and everyone at My Oatmeal, for the opportunity to try your product! My family and I are hooked! ūüėÄ

Crockpot Magic: Chicken Thighs and Root Veggies

I’ve decided that whoever invented crockpots was a genius.

Plop some ingredients in a dish and 6 hours later BOOM. Delicious gourmet feast.

Genius for all of the self-proclaimed, lazy kitchen chefs (*cough cough* me).

Story time: Prior to this recipe, I’d never delved into the world of crock-potting (?).¬†It always intimidated me, I guess. WELL. This weekend, I noticed that we had¬†some extra chicken thighs in the fridge. Instead of resorting¬†to the usual bake or fry¬†avenue,¬† my mom suggested¬†trying¬†out something new. So, to Pinterest I went! What slapped me in the face? TONS of suggestions to use chicken thighs in a crockpot for a richer, more tender flavor. So, I put my¬†fears aside, dusted off the ol’ crock residing in the deep, dark caverns of our pantry, and got to work!

Behold! This is the creation I came up with based on the ingredients we had on hand as well as food preferences, so feel free to try alternative veggies etc. We’re a voracious family, so the whole batch was gone in one and a half days mwahaha

Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs and Vegetables

(gluten free, paleo)

crockpot chicken thighs (ingredients)

Ingredients:

  • 6 quart crockpot
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • ~1 tbsp. ghee or oil
  • 2 russet/baking potatoes, skinless
  • 2 cups whole baby carrots
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 tsp. Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs (with skin)

Instructions:

1. Grease a 6 qt. crockpot with ghee and set temperature on LOW. You could sub nonstick cooking spray instead.

2. Place onion chunks in ghee. Cut skinned potatoes into bite-sized chunks and place on top of onions. Top potatoes and onions with baby carrots.

3. Combine water, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a glass and pour over veggies.

crockpot chicken thighs (process)

4.¬†Arrange chicken thighs evenly on top of vegetables and sprinkle with Trader Joe’s seasoning.

5. Cover mixture and make sure crockpot is set to LOW. Cook for ~6 hours or until chicken and vegetables are tender.

ENJOY!

crockpot chicken thighs

 

 

Kangaroo Sweet Potato Chili

Wait. I¬†know what you’re thinking. KANGAROO MEAT?!?! HUH?!!?!?!

Yes my friends. The delicious, nutritious kangaroo. What can I say,¬†exotic food owns a piece of my soul ūüėÄ

I first tasted this¬†tastebud-tingling delicacy in Australia (although it was in filet steak¬†form) and my tastebuds haven’t been the same since. I love the stuff!! When my¬†local Sprouts grocery store started carrying exotic meats, and my eyes¬†stumbled upon “roo” peeking out from underneath some wild boar, I went baboon crazy. The ground meat is a little different from the steak version I had Down Under, but it’s still tasty nonetheless!

Kangaroo also has a lot of health benefits including:

  • Low in fat and high in protein with macros similar to chicken or other lean poultry
  • Low in saturated fats
  • Contains CLA which has antioxidant properties
  • Rich source¬†of iron and zinc
  • Source of several B-group vitamins, namely¬†riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12

My dad is a big fan of the meat as well, so I thought I’d make him something other than the usual hamburger patty.

So, I give you chili. Yes, chili in the midst of a hot Texas summer haha Guess you’ll just need some ice cream to cool off afterwards ūüėČ

Feel free to add other vegetables or sub in your favorite ground meat. Enjoy!

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Kangaroo Sweet Potato Chili

(adapted from this recipe)

kangaroo chili close-up

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground kangaroo meat¬†(could¬†sub beef, chicken, turkey etc)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 3/4-1 tsp. garlic salt (or 3 garlic cloves)
  • 1 cup diced baby carrots
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tsp. spice blend (pictured below)
  • 2-2 1/4 cups water (or chicken stock)

kangaroo chili ingredients

seasoning

Instructions:

1. Brown kangaroo meat in a pot and drain off extra grease. Season with salt and pepper.

2. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat and add garlic salt and carrots. Saute until semi-softened.

3. Add ground kangaroo meat with spices, stir well.

4. Add in sweet potato cubes and water.

kangaroo chili process

5. Cover mixture and bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium/simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes or until sweet potato cubes are soft.

kangaroo chili

6. Serve on top of rice, or accompanied with chips, cheese, sour cream, or whatever your heart desires! ūüôā

Enjoy!!

Hunka Chunka Chocolate Brownies

The 4th of July calls for ice cream. Ice cream to vanquish the blazing Texas sun.

Lots and lots of ice cream.

But sometimes, ice cream gets lonely and needs a hunky companion…

Behold the¬†most dapper¬†dessert of all: a¬†chocolate chunk filled hunk named Mr. Brownie! ūüėÄ

I came across this awesome recipe, but was lacking a few of the ingredients, so I made some substitutions. They came out fantastic! Enjoy!!

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Hunka Chunka Chocolate Brownies

Gluten free

(adapted from this epic recipe)

Ingredients:

13 squares Ghirardelli 100% cacao chocolate

1/2 cup ghee or butter

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. raw honey

2 eggs (beaten)

3/4 cup all-purpose gluten free flour

vanilla stevia

hunka-chunka-gf-brownies-ingredients

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350*F.

2. In a bowl, melt ghee and 6 squares of the chocolate in the microwave. It took my microwave about a minute and 30 seconds. Stir well.

3. Add in the honey and stir until it’s a smooth consistency.

4. Stir in the beaten eggs, flour, and vanilla. I used about 20 drops of vanilla stevia.

5. Break remaining 7 squares of chocolate into tiny chunks. I put them in a plastic bag and used a hammer ūüėÄ

6. Fold the chunks of chocolate into your brownie mixture.

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7. Spray an 8×8 pan with nonstick Pam and bake mixture for 20-25 minutes. Depending on your oven, this will vary, so be sure to do the “toothpick” test and bake until¬†the toothpick¬†comes out clean after poking it in the center.

8. Cool and cut into 9 brownies.

hunka-chunka-brownies

Enjoy plain, crumbled in a smoothie, or topped with ice cream and sprinkles! You could also add walnuts, chocolate chips or pecans to bring in another texture element. They have a rich flavor with hints of intense dark chocolate from the chunks. Very dense and delicious! Hope you enjoy!!

hunkachunka-brownies

Krave Protein Bars

Krave Protein Bars

I’m a Quest bar addict, I admit it. But whenever I see new bars that compare nutritionally and claim to be better than Quest bars, I HAVE to try them.

After hearing about¬†Pure¬†Fitness’¬†new high fiber Krave¬†protein bars on Instagram, I contacted the company and they graciously sent me two free samples to review. I got Banana Nut¬†Chocolate Chip and Raw Cookie Dough. Let’s just say these took me by surprise! ūüėÄ

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Before I start the review, here’s Krave’s mission statement and a few facts about the bars themselves:

Our Krave Natural Protein Bars are freshly made each week in our kitchen in Lantana, FL with healthy natural ingredients, giving them an impeccable nutritional profile. Each bar has 20 grams of protein, no more than 7g of non-fiber carbs, and they all are gluten free! The most important features of our bars are their delectable taste, unique soft texture, and chewy feel, unrivaled by all protein bars. Our Krave natural protein bars are a new enjoyable experience from the first to last bite, we guarantee!

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Taste: The banana nut chocolate chip had the flavor of a banana split–nuts, chocolate, and banana all combined into one bite. I thought I was¬†eating a hot fudge sundae or one of those frozen chocolate dipped bananas! The cookie dough was different than I was expecting; sort of chemically tasting, but not bad. I think I may still like the Quest chocolate chip cookie dough better.

Texture: THIS is what won me over. The bars were SO SOFT. Like a microwaved Quest bar without being microwaved. Krave definitely knocked this out of the park. The pliable, almost gooey texture made me want to go back for more. The raw cookie dough had flecks of real milk chocolate dispersed throughout, and the banana nut chocolate chip had banana chips, too.

bars

Smell: The banana nut chocolate chip bar didn’t really have a strong smell, but the cookie dough smelled like the real thing. I had to do a double take and make sure it wasn’t real cookie dough!

Gluten-filled counterpart: Three Musketeer’s Bar in texture

Price: $28.99 a box

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Nutrition: These bars boast a whopping 20g of protein and 16-17g fiber, leaving 4g-7g non fiber carbs. They’re a bit high on sodium at around 250mg per bar, but not bad compared to other protein bars on the market. They’re gluten free, vegan, low sugar,¬†and have no preservatives, too.

Ingredients:

Cookie Dough: Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Blue Agave Inulin (100% Natural Prebiotic Fiber), All Natural Peanut Butter, Purified Water, Unsweetened Chocolate Chips, Erythritol. Contains 1% of less of: Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Sucralose.

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip: Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Blue Agave Inulin (100% Natural Prebiotic Fiber), All Natural Peanut Butter, Purified Water, Unsweetened Chocolate Chips, Dried Banana Chips, Erythritol. Contains 1% of less of: Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Sucralose.

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Overall:¬†I would definitely buy these again. Out of all the Quest competitors, these give them the most run for their money. With similar nutritional stats, amazing texture, they’re amazing. While their price is higher (although cheaper than Quest if you consider shipping), they are handmade each week, so it makes it a bit more worth it. They have a lot of other flavors that sound AMAZING: French Toast, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Baked Apple Pie, Peanut¬†Butter Chocolate¬†Crunch…you can check them all out here.¬†I can’t wait to try them!

The GF Equivalent of Cloud Nine

Today, I thought I’d change things up and post a review of one of my favorite new-to-me products. I guess I have to live up to the “Gluten Free” chunk of this blog every once in awhile ūüėČ

So I found some of these Glutino Blueberry bars newly on sale at my local grocery store…

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Ever since my Celiac-onset, I’ve been on the hunt for a gluten-free replacement to quell my cravings for a Nutrigrain bar. Those things are straight up heaven, am I right? These looked extremely promising, so I decided to bite the bullet and buy a box. Best decision EVER.

bar

Taste: Identical, and I mean identical to a Nutrigrain bar. The blueberry flavor is spot on, just like fresh picked berries or homemade blueberry jam!

Texture: The fruit filling was creamy and soft and the bar itself is reminiscient of a fresh baked cookie–very soft and doughy. It isn’t crumbly or cardboard-y in the least, like most other gluten free attempts at breakfast items.

Smell: Fresh blueberries! AMAZING! When heated, it smelled like oatmeal raisin cookies in the oven!

Gluten-filled counterpart: Nutrigrain Cereal Bars

Price: $4.50-$5.00 a box

Nutrition: Low fat (only 2 grams per bar) and not too shabby on the fiber for a gluten free product (3g). The sugars are a bit high at 17g per bar, even if some are from the berries themselves, but besides that, they’re¬†a pretty healthy option for an on-the-go snack.

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Ingredients: BLUEBERRY FILLING (SUGAR, APPLE POWDER [DRIED APPLES, CALCIUM STEARATE], WHITE GRAPE JUICE CONCENTRATE, GLYCERIN, BLUEBERRIES, WATER, CORN STARCH, CANOLA OIL, CITRIC ACID, SODIUM ALGINATE, MALIC ACID, DICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, DRIED CITRUS PULP, SODIUM CITRATE, CARROT AND BLUEBERRY JUICE, SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE, NATURAL FLAVOR), CHICK PEA FLOUR, POTATO STARCH, FRUCTOSE, PEAR JUICE CONCENTRATE, RAISIN PASTE, INULIN, CANOLA OIL, TAPIOCA STARCH, WHITE RICE FLOUR, WATER, SODIUM BICARBONATE.

Overall: Delicious! While a bit pricy, I have definitely made these a staple in my pantry. As an athlete looking for gluten free sources of carbs, I find this to be a wonderful option that not only meets those requirements, but tastes superb! You’ve knocked it out of the ballpark with this one, Glutino!

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Have you ever tried these bars? What’s your favorite flavor of Nutrigrain bar?

DISCLAIMER: All reviews are solely my opinion. I was not paid or compensated in any way to speak of the products featured, unless otherwise noted. All reviews are objective and for general information purposes only. The thoughts and opinions expressed are intended to help and inform people looking for information on vacation locations and gluten free food items.