Taste of Nature – a Fabulous Sugar Dairy & Gluten Free Snack in a Package

Today I am very excited to be doing my first official product review!

When we decided to go sugar free in our home, it meant making a lot of things that we normally purchased and enjoyed, from scratch. Bread, salad dressings, treats, and granola bars were some of the items that contain refined sugars, which was one of the ingredients we were avoiding. I spent hours in the kitchen creating and trying new recipes, finding things that worked and we liked. And though I was happy to be making this healthy change for my family, I was not loving being in the kitchen for most of my day. My oldest son, was also struggling with wanting the prepackaged stuff that everyone else had even though what I was providing was indeed tastier and better for him.

IMG_2951Each time I went to the grocery store I would look in the organic/ health food section to see what ‘packaged’ products they had come up with. Yes you could find all kinds but they usually contained ingredients that we couldn’t have, like dairy, refined sugar and on some occasions gluten. I could find a dairy free product but it had gluten, or sugar free but it had dairy and nowhere could I find one that met all 3 (and tasted good, we have tried some that looked promising but they did not taste good at all).

So last week when doing my regular shopping trip I was very pleased to discover these fruit and nut bars by Taste of Nature! A Canadian company, these organic snack bars are delicious and come in a variety of flavors such as Canadian Maple Forest, Quebec Cranberry Carnival and California Almond Valley. Each flavor is a different mix of nuts, seeds and fruit, such as raisins, almonds, sesame seeds to exotic ingredients like dried cherries, pomegranite and cashews.

I immediately bought a couple and brought them home to try. We didn’t even make it out of the parking lot and the twins were asking to have one. So we sampled and shared the Brazilian Nut Fiesta. Wow! These bars were good! Sweetened with agave nectar and brown rice syrup these bars contain no artificial flavors or additives, have no dairy and no gluten! They are also certified organic, vegan, and kosher! We had hit the mother load!

I was so excited to have found these that I immediately came home and checked out their website. I was thrilled to see that they offered many more flavors such as Niagara Apple Country, Nova Scotia Blueberry Fields and Persian Pomegranite Garden. This is where I also learned this company aims to produce zero carbon footprint, uses green business practices and that providing quality products and caring for our environment are very important to them.

IMG_2955I was sold! This was a great company and one that met all our dietary needs. Woohoo! I could now spend a little less time in the kitchen 🙂

Over the course of the next week we tried a few more flavors, Canadian Maple Forest, Quebec Cranberry Carnival and Louisianna Pecan Parade (one of their newest flavors and my favorite as it has cashews and dried cherries in it!) Their other new flavor is Polynesian Coconut Breeze, which I am very excited to try as I love coconut as well!

Of course the twins have enjoyed all the flavors and my oldest son’s favorite is also the Louisianna Pecan Parade.

I am so pleased to see Canadian companies being innovative and creating products that are meeting the growing demands and changes of a healthier population and recognizing that there is a need and market out there. And the variety that this company provides is fabulous!

The other thing I was pleased with was the price for this product. At less than $2 per bar I thought this was quite reasonable considering the quality and variety of ingredients. We will definitely be purchasing more of these great bars and adding them to our healthy snacks!

I’d like to thank Taste of Nature who provided a variety of their fabulous bars for us to try. Thank you! They are delicious!

Yummy Easy Vegan Treats (with chocolate!)

I love shopping at Community Natural Foods, a local organic and natural food store. Not only do they have a wide variety of products available and good prices, they often have someone there sampling yummy recipes. Not only do they provide the samples for you but they also have the recipe printed out and ready for you to take a copy!

Not only are the recipes delicious they are good for you, often a vegan recipe with natural sweeteners and usually a little pinch of some kind of superfood in there. This is where I have gotten the Cinnamon Salted Caramel Brownie recipe that I made and shared with all my friends in Kananaskis last January – which everyone loved and would never have known that it was no dairy, no sugar unless I had told them. So I was quite excited when I went in on Saturday and discovered 2 yummy recipes to try.

I was so excited I came right home and made them both, even having to run back out to the store to grab a missing ingredient. Fairly quick and easy they both turned out fabulously! I even shared a sample with a couple of my neighbors who quickly asked for the recipe.

I love it when I find good recipes like this as I think that a lot of people feel that eating healthy means more fruits and vegetables and that you have to give up a lot of the sweet treats, which just isn’t true. You can find many, if not even more delicious in some cases, treats that not only satisfy your ‘treat fix’ but provide many essential vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need. It’s great, have a sweet and it’s actually healthy and beneficial for you!

No Bake Chocolate Macaroons

1 banana

1/4 c. coconut oil

1/4 c. pure maple syrup

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

6 tbsp. cacao powder

1.5 c unsweetened coconut

1 tbsp. chia seeds

small pinch sea salt

In a medium size bowl mash banana well until there are no clumps. Stir in melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Sift cacao powder and stir into banana mixture. Stir in chia seeds, coconut and salt.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop a teaspoon at a time onto parchment paper. Put in freezer for 20 minutes or until firm. Store in freezer until ready to enjoy.

Makes approx 15 macaroons.

Almond Butter Rice Crispy Treats

1/2 c. chunky almond butter

1/2 c. brown rice syrup

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. Earth Balance

1/2 tsp. sea salt

3.5 c Erewhon Brown Rice Crisp cereal

Chocolate Drizzle

1/4 c. homemade raw organic chocolate, left in liquid form

1 tbsp. almond butter

pinch salt

Shredded coconut for garnish

Line an 8×8 inch square pan with parchment paper.

In a large pot put in brown rice syrup, Earth Balance, almond butter and salt. Melt over medium low heat until well combined and heated through. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla; then stir in brown rice cereal.

Scoop and spread evenly into 8×8 pan. Press down with finger or roll with a pastry roller (just a note about the pastry roller – I had never thought of using this before and seriously it is the cat’s meow. Way easier then trying to press it into the pan with your fingers and makes it flatter and smoother). Place in freezer for 5 minutes while you make chocolate glaze.

Make raw organic chocolate according to recipe (cacao butter, vanilla, natural sweetener and cacao powder – for full recipe and directions go here). Stir in almond butter and salt.

Remove pan from freezer and drizzle with chocolate. Sprinkle with coconut and place in freezer until firm – about 15 minutes. Slice into squares.

Bars will hold their shape quite well at room temperature but may be stored in freezer or fridge.

 

 

Chocolate Dream Pie

chocolate raw dessert

Each year on Valentine’s Day I make some kind of dessert or special treat for me and the kids. It adds a little something extra to the day and something to look forward to. Usually something chocolate, I like to experiment with new recipes and new ways of doing things. Last year I made chocolate covered strawberries, dipping them in my own homemade chocolate, the year before chocolate cupcakes.

This year I made one of our new favorites Chocolate Dream Pie. This no bake, sugar free, dairy free, gluten free dessert is to die for! Made all in the blender it is delicious (and guilt free). There are a few unique ingredients, which might turn you off at first, but trust me you will not be disappointed.

Irish Moss

For instance, irish moss, which is a kind of seaweed gathered on the coast of Prince Edward Island, helps congeal and set your pie. Only a pinch is needed and depending on where you live, may be hard to find. But once you know what you are looking for you can track it down, even if you order it online. I was able to find it here locally in Calgary at the Light Cellar.

My kids love it, of course. Matthew’s eyes get big and he starts to salivate. Luke and Chloe who had their first piece, and when done, promptly asked for a second piece. I also shared it with my girlfriend today who not only asked me for the recipe, but regretted sharing it with her son (who also loved it) because she wanted more for herself 🙂

Quick and easy to make, this recipe won’t disappoint.

Chocolate Dream Pie

Crust

1 c. hazelnut mash (from making nut milk)

1 c. walnuts

3-4 tbsp. agave nectar (I like to use Ojio as it is a higher quality agave)

1/4 tsp. vanilla

Filling

3/4 oz. irish moss (soak a small pinch of irish moss in water overnight, rinse well and use in recipe)

1 1/2 c. hazelnut milk

1/4 c. agave nectar

1/4 pitted dates

1/3 c. cacao powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla powder

pinch sea salt

1 rounded tsp. non-GMO lecithin

3/4 c. coconut oil

For crust: Make the *nut milk and use the leftover mash for making the crust. Put all the ingredients into the Vitamix in order listed. Select variable 8. Quickly turn machine on and off, scraping the sides of the container with a spatula between pulses, until a damp meal is formed.

Grease a 9 inch pie plate lightly with coconut oil. Press the crust into the pie plate.

For filling: Place all ingredients in Vitamix in order listed. Select varaible 1. Turn Vitamix on slowly and increase speed to 10, then to high. Blend 30-40 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.

Pour into prepared crust. Place in fridge until set (about 1 hour).

*Hazelnut milk

Place 1 cup of hazelnuts, soaked overnight and drained, with 3 cups of water in Vitamix. Selecting variable 1, turn machine on slowly increasing speed to 10 and then to high. Blend for 30 seconds.

Over top of a medium size bowl, pour contents form Vitamix into nut bag. Strain through nut bag. Use milk and mash for recipe. Store leftover milk in fridge.