Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: Barre. A real food bar.

I am so excited that I got to try these bars! I've been following them on Facebook for quite a while, and even though I'm not a ballet dancer, or any kind of dancer for that matter, I just LOVE the idea behind these bars. Barre, the name, comes from, if you haven't figured it out by now, the bar that is used during warm up exercise for ballet dancers. It was created by two ballet dancers out of necessity for a quick, but extremely healthy, snack. They have a great story. Check it out here.

I absolutely love the play on words, and as a huge fan of packaging, I really adore the delicate beauty of the colors they chose: pink, peach, and espresso. In addition to that, the names they picked for each bar perfectly match the sweet, ballerina-esque vibe of the rest of the packaging: Ballerina, Pirouette, and Black Swan.  See what I mean?  CUTE!

As a nutritionist, I am 100% on board with these bars! They are the real deal. All of the ingredients are clean, simple, and packed with nutrients. I love the use of hemp in these bars, too.  Y'all *know* how much I love my hemp seed products!

The first bar I tasted was the Pirouette.
Ingredients: Dates, walnuts, pecans, agave nectar, hemp seed, rolled oats, hemp protein, ground flax seed, brown rice protein, vanilla, cinnamon, sea salt, peanuts. You just can't get much better than that.
Verdict: I really liked this one. You definitely get the light, cinnamony flavors coming through with the crunch of pecans. I didn't think it had an overwhelming flavor, and was very filling! I would definitely keep this one in my purse and/or car for quick noshes!
The second bar I sampled was the one I was least looking forward to trying: The Ballerina. Why? Because it has spirulina in it and is green-ish in tint. As much as I love my green veggies, I am not a huge fan of spirulina. It can be toooo much like eating grass if done wrong. Well, they did it right!
Ingredients: Dates, walnuts, pecans, agave nectar, hemp seed, hemp protein, rolled oats, ground flax seed, dried coconut flakes, brown rice protein, spirulina, vanilla, sea salt, peanuts.
Verdict: This ended up being my favorite one! The spirulina is very light and barely detectable, and the coconut flakes add a perfect bit of crunchy sweetness. Again, just like the pirouette, it's very filling and would be excellent for after workouts or to keep handy for those unanticipated starvation moments when you need a quick, healthy snack before you take a left turn at a fast food place.  Not that I've ever done that.

The third bar, the newest in their collect, and the one that has the cutest name in my opinion: The Black Swan.
Ingredients: Dates, agave nectar, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seed butter, (sunflower kernels, sunflower oil, molasses, salt, citric acid), cranberries, cocoa powder, hemp seed, hemp protein, oats, ground flax seed, brown rice protein, sea salt, peanuts.
Verdict: This one reminded me of chocolate covered cherries. I am not a fan of those, so this is not my favorite flavor, but if you like chocolate covered cherries, this is your bar! It was still just as lightly sweetened, chewy and filling as the other two, and the pink and black colors of the packaging make you feel pretty. Or is that just me?

Overall, I highly recommend these bars. If you can't find them in your local co-op or health food shops, go in and ask them to start carrying these!  Who knows, they might even inspire you to become a ballerina!  I know I'm ready to join the Nutcracker!  I just need to get longer legs real quick.  And maybe some flexibility.  That should do it. :)

Barre.  A real food bar.  See also: Nom.  <3

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My quick trip to Juicytown!

*For those not following me on facebook, I began a juice-only fast on Monday, with the intention of going at least 5-7 days. I have never done a fast. The closest I came to any kind of cleanse was a 7 day raw foods detox I did back in March, which was also a struggle, but one that I conquered without killing anyone. And that's saying something!  ;) 

Ok, so here is the latest news from my little world.  Last night was MISERABLE.  Seriously, it was the worst. At about 4:00 p.m. my mood changed dramatically and I developed the worst headache of my life. I couldn't take any medication for it because of the cleanse. I tried a few natural methods, but nothing made the pain lessen.  I was also unbelievably sick of juicing.  I looked at my juicer, heard and felt my tummy rumble. I was starving, but there was no way I was going to get another juice in me.  I went ahead and made a super green juice, but it tasted horrible. I could not even force myself to down it.  So, I went to bed at 8:30 to try to ignore all these things. However,  I've been battling a cough for two weeks now, and last night it was in overdrive. I couldn't sleep and on top of that, I was having heart palpitations.  Since I have a thyroid condition (hashimotos) and had not consulted my doctor (like you're supposed to! Doink!), it worried me a little. I told myself that if I didn't feel better in the morning, I would stop the cleanse.

Fast forward to 5:30 a.m.and I'm up. Yikes. I already feel apprehensive about the day and am dreading that first juice. Instead I ignore the hunger and check my pH.  It's back down to 5.5. (it was 5.5 Monday when I started, then went to 8.0 after 24 hours on the cleanse)  Confused and frustrated by this, I proceed to weigh myself.  The number has dropped quite a bit again, but I don't even care.  Weight loss was not my main reason for doing this cleanse, and I know most of it will come back so I wasn't attached to this loss anyway.  I walk into the kitchen, tummy still rumbling, and I can't even remotely bare to juice again.  I am not sure why this was such a difficult task for me. I love juices, I love the thought of a juice fast, but I wasn't noticing any changes at all, and I was starting to worry that I was doing more harm than good. (another good reason to consult a physician before juicing!)

I eat a pretty healthy diet. Lots of veggies, whole grains in limited quantities, mostly vegan protein sources, lots of water, regular exercise...I don't have a lot to detox in the first place.  I clearly need improvements here and there and am still working out some kinks. I am definitely wondering about the whole pH thing, and what to think of those numbers.  I don't live and die by those numbers, but I do live and die by how my energy levels are, which is one main reason I wanted to do a cleanse. When you eat super clean, drink lots of water, and exercise, but still aren't feeling on top of the world, you start to look at other reasons (or at least I do). And, I'm not a huge fan of doctors (long story), so I'm not as inclined to run to them every time I have a tiny problem.  I typically turn to my nutrition.  While my meals were pretty good, I was not feeling as good as I thought I should, and hoped that taking my nutrients down to a super basic level would do the trick.  And perhaps if I had stuck out the cleanse a bit longer, it could have.  But, ultimately, you have to go with your gut in situations like these, and that's exactly what I did.  I'll be eating mostly raw for the foreseeable future, and will entertain another juice cleanse in the spring.  There are *many* things I will do differently the next time, to ensure a (hopefully) smoother transition.

One thing that was funny about this whole experiment, is that when I decided to quit, my first thought was that I was letting all of you down. I felt like quitting the cleanse would somehow change your opinion of me.  And, when I told others about quitting, their first thought was that I was letting you down, too.  Truthfully, that bothered me on a few levels.  I decided to do this cleanse for my own reasons. And I decided to share with you the path I took so that you might benefit. It wasn't like with the Raw and Paleo studies where I was doing actual research to share and learn about different diet programs.  This was just a random crazy idea that I was sharing with you along the way.  I had hoped to make it to 5 days or more, but I am proud that I made it this far. I know a lot of you have done longer fasts, and I know most of you have never done a fast for even a day in your life.  All that means is that we all have to learn on our own terms.  To determine for ourselves what works and what doesn't.   What is worth the fight, and what isn't.

I'd like to think that my focus for my business FB page is more about general healthy eating tips, how to improve your health and to get you to eat your veggies.  I don't care how you accomplish that.  Are you paleo?  Great!  Are you vegan?  Awesome!  I don't need to know about specifics, I just want you to think about what goes in your mouth and to challenge yourself.  Eat more green veggies today than you did yesterday.  Drink more water today than you did yesterday.  Exercise a little bit more each week!  This cleanse was about me challenging myself.  I've never done a juice-only cleanse before and I had no idea what to expect.  You go into it thinking "I can DO this!".  The first day was HARD. And yes, I pushed through. Most people would have caved by lunch.  Yes, I kept going and I was proud of myself for sticking with it, but at some point you have to ask yourself if the benefits outweigh any potential negatives.  Sometimes just trying is good enough.

Yes, I CHOSE to do this cleanse. And yes I CHOSE to publicly announce it with you, and share lots of lovely juice pictures (weren't they pretty?!) in the hopes of inspiring you, but guess what, I'm also CHOOSING to let you know that I tried something...and CHOSE to end it.  I CHOSE to be open and honest with you and with myself.  I never want to give anyone a false assumption that I am perfect, or that they should be.  EVERYONE has faults.   But at least I tried. I have done more experimenting with foods and health challenges than anyone I know. I am learning each and every day to listen intuitively to my nutritional needs, and the only way to do that is to put yourself through challenges like these.  I am listening to my intuition, and I implore you to do the same.

If this inspired even one person to do a juice cleanse, I am over the moon happy!  I am totally FOR doing a juice cleanse.  But listen to your body, take baby steps, and please do not feel like a failure if you can't make it past day 2. You made it 2 more days than most people!

And I still stand by my words that we are capable of doing anything we put our minds to!  And that includes listening intuitively to what your body needs, and quitting a time or two until you get it right.

Peace, love and veggies...  <3