Non-GMO Goodies Courtesy of Bestowed

When the kind folks at Bestowed contacted me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their snack boxes, I initially put up a mild protest.  With my food intolerances, I have stopped receiving any such subscription boxes because I just don’t know what I’ll be able to enjoy.  Understanding my limitations, Bestowed’s team assured me I could enjoy and review the items that were safe for me and gift the other items.  Plus, October (the box of the month they sent me) was non-GMO month, which meant all products included were non-GMO verified.  Since I am a sucker for non-GMO products, I was in!

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And I really am, you know.  A sucker for non-GMO products, I mean.  The issue of genetically modified organisms, and most importantly, of clear and accurate labeling and identification of GMO products is one I care a great deal about.  I personally do my best to avoid GMO items, but beyond that I strongly believe that consumers should be able to identify GMOs and make those informed decisions for themselves.  So taking the opportunity to learn more about and support companies in alignment with these values seemed like the right thing to do.

As you likely have gathered by now, Bestowed is a subscription snack box service that delivers packages directly to your door each month.  One thing that makes Bestowed unique from other similar services is that the company was founded by a Registered Dietician and Nutritionist, Heather Bauer.  Heather draws upon her knowledge and passion for nutrition to guide the selection of Bestowed’s featured products.

Provided item photo

Let’s take a look at what I received in my non-GMO Bestowed box:

  1. UNREAL Peanut Butter Cups – I gifted these to Mr. Move Eat Create since they did contain quite a bit of dairy and I’m trying my best to live dairy-free these days.  He thought they were delicious (and he is somewhat of a peanut butter cup aficionado).  I love the concept that the UNREAL company is working with – recreations of classic candy made with natural ingredients.  It’s certainly something I can get behind.
  2. Enjoy Life Seed & Fruit Mix – Yum!!  I am a huge fan of Enjoy Life products.  This brand is made for people like me (people with food intolerances) and is always satisfying.  This mix was a terrifically healthy snack by a brand I already trusted.  Score!
  3. FiberLove Cinnamon Raisin Bar (Gnu Foods) – I’ve got to admit this made me a little sad.  I actually used to eat these bars all the time in my pre-gluten free days and it made me nostalgic.  Needless to say, it was gifted.  However, I can attest from good, recent memory that these bars are delicious, satisfying, and make for a great afternoon bite on the go.
  4. The Good Bean Smoky Chili & Lime Chickpea Snacks – Eh.  I don’t understand the thrill of roasted chickpeas.  If you like this sort of thing, they’re great – they’re just not my favorite.
  5. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Powder – Fantastic.  Love it.  Hemp powder is amazing.
  6. Nature’s Path Love Crunch Dark Chocolate Macaroon Granola – Sigh.  Something else I used to love, but sadly this granola is not gluten-free.  If you can eat gluten, I do highly recommend Nature’s Path Love Crunch products.  They’re excellent on their own, in yogurt, soy or almond milk, et cetera.  It’s good stuff.
  7. Ultima Replenisher – Always an excellent choice for a runner, such as myself.  Makes a great drink on a long run kind of day.
  8. Way Better Snacks Black Bean Tortilla Chips – These got me very excited.  I recently discovered Way Better Snacks and am a big fan.  These come as close to clean eating as you can get in a chip and I really love these when I’m craving something salty.  Delicious and packed with super foods.
  9. Bonuses: A recipe and a Women’s Health Magazine voucher.

Overall, I was impressed by the contents of the Bestowed box.  There was a variety of quality products and I loved that the box came with a printed booklet that included information about each of the items and the companies featured.  I also appreciate that most of the items are available for individual purchase through the Bestowed website in case you love something that you can’t find available locally.  For me personally, solely because of my food restrictions, it wouldn’t be a good idea to invest in a monthly service.  I feel it might be a bit risky and am afraid I wouldn’t get to enjoy all of the items.  If I didn’t have those restrictions, however, I would most definitely consider joining up with Bestowed on a regular basis.

Of course, when I do a review of a product or service I support, I want to be sure that you all can benefit, too.  So, if you are interested in trying out Bestowed for yourself, you can do so with a discount of 50% off your first box!  To order your own shipment, visit Bestowed here and enter coupon code HELLOTEN103 (offer valid only until 11/20).  Happy snacking!

Vegan Cuts: In Which I Tell You How Much I Love Them and Then Host A Giveaway!

If you spend much time poking around the internet, you may have noticed that there are loads of companies these days cashing in on the monthly subscription box concept.  The idea behind this is basically that you (the consumer) pay a monthly fee to be shipped a box full of mystery products once per month to sample.  It gives the consumer a sense of surprise and fun, plus the ability to try new things.  I liked this idea for a long time, but wanted to be sure that I found a subscription club that I could trust to not let me down.  Even though unsubscribing is always an option at any time, I still wanted to find something to enjoy for a while.  It is truly disappointing to wait to get your package in the mail, open it up with excitement and then see little in it that interests you.  That is not a good time.

But, I’ve found Vegan Cuts and Vegan Cuts IS a good time.

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They have totally made me a believer in the genius of the monthly subscription mystery box process.  I had tried another very popular program and was disappointed, but wanted to give it another try with someone else and I’m so glad I did.  I have received 3 boxes from Vegan Cuts so far and have been delighted with each one.  They have been filled with quality products, suiting my lifestyle and dietary preferences by the nature of the products they carry, and I have discovered some really fantastic items that I doubt I would have before.

Plus, it’s just plain fun.  I’ve always been the type of person that loves getting mail (when it’s not a bill or a jury summons, that is).  It really is like getting a little present sent to me each month and seeing it on my doorstep is always a bright spot in my day.  The majority of the items are food products, but I’ve also received body and skin care items, which is an extra special indulgence.

Benefit Foods Vbar Box_FB Store

benefitfoods.com

My favorite discovery so far has been Vbars.  I am a BIG fan of nutritious, minimally processed snack bars.  I made a list a while back of some of my favorites, which you can see here, though if I was going to make this list again today, Vbars would definitely be on it.  They are unbelievably tasty, hit the right nutritional notes for me, and have a slightly crunchy texture that I love.  YUM.  I was also was excited to try the Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips that came in my most recent package.  Sweet potatoes aren’t normally my favorite, but clearly I have been eating them wrong, because these are fantastic.

One of the things I particularly like about Vegan Cuts is that they have an online storefront where items received in your box can be purchased individually if you find something you love.  I jumped on this opportunity with the Vbars and have already ordered two boxes of them.  It is nice to get to experiment with these products and then have immediate access to get the items that stand out to you.

Clearly, I’m a fan of this company.

I became even a bigger fan when they generously agreed to give away one Vegan Cuts box to a reader!  I’m delighted to be able to share the love with one of you and hope that someone else will have as much fun with this as I am having.  The winner will be selected at random and will be shipped their very own Vegan Cuts box for one month.

To enter to win your Vegan Cuts box, simply leave a comment below telling me what kind of treat you would hope to find in your mystery box. You can check out their partner companies at the website here for more ideas on what they may send.  This giveaway will close at midnight (PST) on Wednesday May 8th, and I will announce the winner later in the week.

***** UPDATE: This giveaway has closed.  Congratulations to Brooke who won the Vegan Cuts box.  Thank you to everyone who participated! *****

My 5 Favorite All-Natural Snack/Energy Bars

Oh man, are there a lot of snack bars out there.  As most of you probably already know, some of them are fantastic – and many, many of them are crap (both in regards to taste and nutrition).  I know that there are different schools of thought when it comes to snack bars and that some people just avoid them completely, while others can’t get enough.

The fact of the matter is that sometimes a snack bar is just what I need.  Whether it is to provide some fuel pre- or post-workout, to nourish an afternoon hunger pang, or to just get some food on an overly busy day, they do serve their purpose.  In all honesty, I usually eat about one a day.   They’ve become a standard part of my weekday, late-afternoon, pre-workout mini-meal.  Because of this, it has been important to me to find a few brands that I can trust to better (and not harm) my overall health.

All of the brands below feature natural ingredients, minimal processing, and (I think) they taste fantastic.

These never fail me.  Every flavor I’ve had (which is nearly all of them) has been fantastic.  These are chunky nut and fruit bars, so they are going be somewhat higher in fat than some of the others below, due to the high concentration of nuts.  Some are very straightforward (Fruit and Nut), some are sweet and decadent (Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt) and some are ‘plus’ bars, fortified for special nutritional needs (Cranberry Almond + Antioxidants).

Favorite Flavor:  Almond Cashew with Flax + Omega 3s

These bars are made right here in Oregon – and I’m so glad they are or I may never have found them.  They are still a growing company, though you can order online if you can’t find them in your area.  These tasty squares are specifically designed by endurance athletes for endurance athletes.  They are formulated to provide optimal amounts of fats, carbs, and proteins for performance.  These are bars that I don’t eat on just any occasion; rather I have come to consistently rely on them for pre-long run fuel.  I have truly noticed a difference when I eat one of these about 30 minutes before hitting the pavement.

Favorite Flavor:  Smooth Caffeinater

Need some fiber?  Gnu bars have you covered.  These bars are delicious little treats that are perfect for an afternoon snack.  They are focused on providing a significant amount of fiber through bran, oats, psyllium, and other such ingredients.  These come in at only 130-140 calories each, but because of the high fiber content, they really help to keep you full, making them ideal for a between meal snack that tides you over.

 Favorite Flavor:  Blueberry Cobbler Bar or Carrot Cake (I can’t decide!)

These are good, you all!  If you haven’t tried them, they are similar in texture and concept to Luna Bars, but I will venture to say that I find their flavor to be even better.  Vegan, gluten-free, and kosher, these bars are also accessible to just about anyone’s dietary needs.

Favorite Flavor:  Apple Cinnamon or Cherry Cashew or Wild Blueberry (Don’t make me choose!)

Another Oregon-based company!  These are trail bars – intended to be ideal for packing up and taking along on adventures.  As such, they are a bit drier than some of the others, but this means they really do hold up better to be being carted around, thrown in a backpack on a hike, or tucked into a pocket for a bike ride or a long run.  Skout bars provide sustainable energy, and the company donates a portion of their proceeds to environmental and humanitarian charities – an added bonus if you ask me.

Favorite Flavor:  Cherry + Vanilla

Happy healthy snacking!