Eat hole foods

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I debated whether or not to try The Dough Bar’s protein-packed doughnuts for far too long. They look delicious with all of the yummy toppings and flavor combinations, they’re a healthy alternative to my favorite Dunkin’ glazed, and there are only 150 calories and 16 carbs per (plain) doughnut. So, why the wait? Well, I just couldn’t be sure that they would taste as good as they looked.

The problem with “healthy alternatives” is that there are plenty of phonies out there. You know the food that claims to be healthy and good tasting, but really just resembles sugared cardboard? I didn’t want to waste my time or money on any more of that. But, I figured, if I didn’t like them, I would just leave a scathing review and be on my way – JUST KIDDING!

I can honestly tell you that when you try The Dough Bar’s doughnuts, you won’t be disappointed. At all. They were so good that I wanted to cry tears of joy. I finally found a good one!

The texture is similar to a moist cake doughnut – like something I’ve made in my Babycakes donut maker, not like the apple cider cake doughnuts you can find practically everywhere in the fall. They have a hint of vanilla and cinnamon (even though that’s not one of the ingredients – hmmm) and aren’t overwhelmingly sweet. They definitely don’t taste like cardboard.

Gimme all the doughnuts!

The Dough Bar designed their doughnuts to be eaten every day – you don’t have to, of course, but why wouldn’t you want to?

Froot Loops, PB Puppy Chow, and Carrot Cake are just some of the creative flavor combos. I’m ordering Froot Loops next because it comes with double the glaze and the classic cereal definitely takes me back to my childhood. (Did I mention double the glaze?)

 

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This is literally an everything doughnut!

If you aren’t very adventurous (or you prefer to make your own glaze and toppings), you can purchase a 4 or 8-pack of plain doughnuts.

I see a plain doughnut sliced in half with almond butter and banana topped with cacao nibs in my future! That would be a serious enhancement of my typical Tuesday night snack.

A new variety of the month 8-pack appears every month, so be on the lookout!

What’s included?

When you order a standard 4-pack (not plain), you get four individually wrapped plain doughnuts with their doughnut holes, four cups of glaze, and four cups of toppings. The fun is in how you decorate them. Check out Instagram for ideas.

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JunkBanter Pack

I really couldn’t decide which flavor I wanted to try first, so I went with the JunkBanter Pack because it included four different ones: Cinnamon Glaze & Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Cookie Butter Glaze & Crushed Oreos and Chips Ahoy, Nutella Glaze & Kit Kat Crumbles, and Reese’s PB Glaze & Mini PB Cups. Plus, a portion of each sale was donated to the National MS Society. Double win!

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I love Cinnamon Toast Crunch!

The bottom line: I would recommend these to a friend. The doughnuts taste great, and they make a nice “cheat” treat. The only downside is the shipping cost – $9.00 for those of us on the East Coast. Ouch! But, I’ll allow it every so often. While the company only ships out each Monday, you do get your items quickly after.

Happy Snacking!

 

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by The Dough Bar. All opinions are my own.

Get your chocolate fix

Looking for a chocolate fix? Go Dr. No.

I (virtually) met Amale, the woman behind this amazing chocolate, last year. We chatted via email a bit and I learned that she wants to help people suffering from cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses live happier lives. She really wants to make a difference in our world and has a heart of gold. And really, what better way to spread the happiness than with good-for-you chocolate?

What makes it different?

How cute is this stamp?

Dr. No Chocolate is 75% cocoa and organic with a rich and smooth taste. It makes a perfect treat for diabetics or those eating low carb because it’s sugar-free and void of artificial sweeteners. It’s also gluten free and doesn’t contain artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

The chocolate comes in three delicious flavors: Dark Chocolate, Pumpkin Seed & Sea Salt (my favorite!), and Almonds. I love the salty-savory combination that the pumpkin seeds and sea salt add to the sweet chocolate – such a unique and delicious treat! If you have a HUGE sweet tooth, I recommend the variety pack so you can try one of each and pick your favorite!

Great for gifts, baking, or snacking when you’re craving something sweet. You won’t believe it’s sugar-free!

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Dr. No Chocolate. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

Cookie Heaven

If you love coconut, you have to try Rickaroons, and I mean HAVE TO! They are healthy desserts that your taste buds will crave. I mean, how often can you call a cookie an “energizing snack” that is vegan, gluten free, 100% organic, non-GMO, Paleo, soy free AND totally delicious? Answer: not often.

The Rickaroon Team is run by the father-son partnership of Rick and Grant LeBeau. Would you believe that the idea for these cookies started with love? Intrigued? Read the full story here.

Rickaroons come in several yummy flavors: Mocha, Chocolate Blonde, Mint to Be, Megaroon (with chia seeds and Cacao Nibs), and Rick-Or-Treat (Pumpkin Spice and Chocolate). Other healthy ingredients include coconut (of course!) espresso beans, coconut palm nectar, and almond butter.

Treat yourself (or a friend)

All of the Rickaroons are reasonably priced at $25 a dozen, $26 for a dozen variety pack, and $12 for 4-pack sampler (Rick-Or-Treat not included).

Are you a BIG fan? You can even get Rickeroons delivered right to your door each month at a 10% discount. You’ll never run out – how awesome is that?

For more information and to purchase, visit rickaroons.com

 

DISCLAIMER: This post is sponsored by Rickeroons. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

Cut those cravings 

Talking about your…*cough*…time of the month…*cough*…used to be really taboo. It was kind of like discussing your salary – something you kept private and maybe only shared with one or two people close to you. Now there are products and commercials galore related to women’s health, including everything from vitamins and pain reducers to all things feminine hygiene.

But what about those brutal cravings? You know, the ones that hit you when you’re just minding your own business watching Netflix? Suddenly, chocolate covered sea salt and vinegar kettle chips with a side of strawberry cheesecake ice cream sounds like the best idea EVER. The guilt, the shame, the horror.

Well, ladies (and guys who have rollercoaster PMSing ladies at home) your prayers have been answered.

PMS Bites is a company founded by Boston entrepreneur Tania Green. The idea for her healthier chocolate treats developed from her own desire to curb PMS cravings, or better yet, satisfy the feeling without the guilt. Tania’s products have been featured on Shark Tank and in the Huffington Post and Allure.

PMS Bites are gluten free, vegan, all, natural, and great-tasting. They also contain herbs (chamomile, Siberian Ginseng, dandelion root) that are used to ease PMS symptoms such as bloating, cramping, and mood swings. One PMS Bite (Plain Crazy) is only 70 calories and contains just 7 grams of sugar. It’s a satisfying and healthier option – one you don’t have to feel guilty about.

Bites are affordably priced at $9.99 for a six pack and shipping is FREE! There are three flavors: Coco-Nutty (rolled in coconut), Plain Crazy (dusted with coco powder and coconut palm sugar), and All Kinds of Nuts (made with yummy pecans). If you want to try them all, you’re in luck – just go with the variety pack and try two of each.

For more information or to purchase a pack for yourself or a special someone, visit pmsbites.com.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by PMS Bites. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

 

Go ahead, get ENLIGHTENED

wp-1471915824478.pngI would (possibly) give my right arm for a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream – it is my absolute favorite. There’s just something about that cool, minty feeling you get when you take the first bite. It’s magical. (It could also be that no one in my family likes it, so I know it will be safe in the freezer when I’m not around!)

Beyond Better Foods started serving their ENLIGHTENED Ice Cream in 2013, with the idea that they could offer products that go beyond just “better” for you. When I learned they made a Mint Fudge Swirl ice cream bar, I had to try it. With 7g of protein and only 6g of sugar and 80 calories, how could I not? The verdict: Run, don’t walk, to your nearest grocery store and pick up a box for yourself. This was honestly the best ice cream I’ve ever had. It’s so creamy and delicious, you would think you are over-indulging in a full-fat treat (but, of course, you’re not!). Pure Heaven.

This year, Beyond Better Foods developed ENLIGHTENED Crisps, adding to their healthy line of Good-For-You foods. These broad bean crisps come in enticing flavors such as Sriracha, wasabi, and mesquite BBQ. But wait, they’re beans…how do they taste? Crunchy. Flavorful. Satisfying. Much like potato chips, I bet you can’t eat just one!

If you’re like me and you want to try them all, go for the ENLIGHTENED Crisp Sampler, reasonably priced at under $9.00. Crisps are only 100 calories per serving and are packed with protein (7g) and fiber (3g), which makes them a fantastic on-the-go snack. They are also  “certified vegan, gluten free, non-GMO Project verified, OU kosher, and wheat free.” (And for those of you on Weight Watchers, the crisps are only 2 points!) 

Beyond Better Foods is very open and honest about all of their ingredients and you can read about them right on their site. I love their Us vs. Them page, which lists the nutritional values of other ice cream and snacks compared to theirs. See for yourself which is healthier – it’s a no-brainer.

For more information or to purchase the crisps (ice cream only sold in stores), visit eatenlightened.com. For recipes and more, check out their blog.

Happy Snacking!

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Beyond Better Foods / ENLIGHTENED. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

Whole30: Whole Review

It was hard, but not impossible.

The Basics

The premise of the program is to eat clean, whole foods for 30 days. But, of course, that’s just the first layer of a very well thought out program. Eat three meals a day, large and nutritious enough to keep you full until your next meal. Don’t skip breakfast. Stop eating a few hours before you go to bed. Veggies are “required” at every meal and fruits, which should be eaten sparingly, can be eaten with a meal. Snacking is discouraged – not forbidden – but really depends on your lifestyle.

  • YES Foods: lean protein (meats, eggs, fish, seafood), veggies, fruits, healthy fats and oils, nuts, seeds
  • NO Foods: added sugar in all forms (even honey), alcohol, legumes, grains, dairy, protein or meal replacement shakes, andd the recreation of baked goods, junk food or treats into “healthier” options

This program puts emphasis on enjoying your food and distinguishing hunger from cravings. Are you hungry enough to eat a plate of steamed veggies? If no, it’s probably just a craving. Stay away from sweet treats like fruit and nut bars when you’re craving – grab some protein instead.

Building Your Plate

  • Start with high quality protein (1-2 palm-sized servings per meal).
  • Fill the rest of your plate with veggies.
  • Add 1-2 servings of fruit per day (1-2 fistfuls).
  • Use 1 or more healthy fat sources per meal.
  • TIP: Spices make everything (even veggies and eggs) taste wonderful.

It Starts with Food

This book is your golden ticket to success with the program. It was written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig and breaks down the science and why behind the bad foods we put into our bodies. It is relatively easy to understand, even to non-science-y types (like me!).

Part 1: It Starts with Food – talks about what food should do for us and touches on our biochemistry and how our brains work on food.

Part 2: Good Food Standards – dives deeper into our biochemistry and how our entire body reacts to food.

Part 3: Less Healthy – discusses all of the “bad” foods that are listed on the unapproved list in the Whole30 program and how our bodies negatively react to them.

Part 4: More Healthy – puts a focus on the approved foods and how our bodies positively react to them.

Part 5: Let’s Eat – shows you how to meal plan.

Part 6: The Whole30 – gives you an outline of the program.

Part 7: Whole30, Whole Life – provides resources for successful continuation of the program well after 30 days.

Appendices  – include some recipes and a list of resources to help you get started.

Helpful Kitchen Tips

  • Rid your house of the “bad” stuff, or at least put it away. I stored all of my baking items in the cabinet above the fridge so it was out of reach – I need a chair to get to it.
  • Make your own condiments. It’s cheaper than buying Whole30 approved items AND they are very easy and quick to make.
  • Light a candle when chopping onions. (I used onions in almost all of my meals.) Gum used to be my go-to, stop the tears trick, but gum falls into the NO category.
  • Prepare your food ahead of time and make sure you have enough to last the week so you won’t be tempted to grab something that isn’t approved. For tips, check out my updated post #mealprep.
  • Keep some pre-packaged items on hand for when you’re traveling on the weekends. Trust me, you will be hard-pressed to find anything approved while on the go.

Must Have Resources

Whole30 Website – provides a wealth of information including a meal template, list of approved on-the-go foods, shopping lists, produce guides, and so much more.

The Whole30: The 30 Day Guide to Health and Food Freedom (Hardcover, B&N $30.00) – a quick guide and recipe book.

Whole30 Support Groups – I joined a group on Facebook and it was nice to have accountability and a forum to share recipes and ask questions.

It Starts with Food (Hardcover, B&N $26,95) – see above.

Eating Out

This is not horrible, but takes a little skill, knowledge of the rules, and a brave soul. “I’ll have the bbq grilled chicken, a baked sweet potato, and steamed veggies. Hold the bbq sauce and butter.Do you have olive oil? Not just oil, but the real deal olive oil?” Your tone makes all the difference between sounding like a health-minded individual and sounding like a snobby little twat.

The Reintroduction

Don’t skip this part. Now that you’ve eliminated all of the “bad” or less healthy foods, it’s time to add them back into your diet one at a time to see if any have an adverse effect. Days 31-40 keep Whole30 compliant and add in a less healthy food every few days and evaluate the outcome. Will there be any foods that you want to completely eliminate from your diet? Self-awareness is key.

Spreading the Word

I learned my lesson about sharing my newfound diets a LONG time ago. Some won’t be happy for you or encourage you. Others will tell you that it’s stupid. A few might even get you to cheat or quit early. Don’t. And don’t listen to them. Do what’s right for you. Celebrate yourself. But, if you must share, do so with class. Melissa Hartwig has a great blog post on sharing your Whole30 experiences and how to do it the right (AKA less annoying) way.

Doctor’s Note

My neurologist was pleased to hear that I was doing the Whole30 – I think she’s actually the only person to encourage me to do it. She suggested that I keep going well after day 30. Her initial recommendations to abstain from alcohol, caffeine, and excess grains and sugar fit in nicely with the program. I’ve never had a doctor advocate for one diet or lifestyle over another, so this was HUGE. Paleo seems like the path towards optimal health.

Bottom Line

To be completely honest, I didn’t experience any of the earth shattering changes that others have. I didn’t lose a ton of weight, my headaches didn’t get better, I still don’t sleep well, and I don’t feel like a completely new person. That being said, I would recommend that, at the very least, everyone try a Whole30 once in their lifetime. For maximum health benefits I would recommend doing a Whole30 once a year.

Why? For me, the Whole30 was a total eye-opener. Prior to starting my journey, I didn’t realize how much sugar or hydrogenated oils were in EVERYTHING. I took many of the “healthy” grocery store items for their full-face value. I never thought that ketchup, bbq sauce, salad dressings, mayo, and even bacon and diced tomatoes would be laden with every form of sugar that you can imagine. I was blind to the fact that what I was putting into my body was actually doing more harm than good. I took “good” food for granted.

So, maybe I don’t have a miraculous or glowing success story to share with the world, but I have something just as good, or even better: awareness. I’m mindful of everything I put into my body, scrupulous about how food is prepared, and conscious about every bite and sip I take.

Thinking about starting your own Whole30 journey? Start with It Starts with Food. And, as always, I’m here to answer questions about my own experience.

Baking 101: Perfect Cakes

signature white cake, marshmallow creme frosting, raspberry filling

Let’s talk about cake. I’m not a fan, myself – I know, shocking! But I love baking it (mostly the decorating part) and I know a lot of people who love eating it. 

Baking can be really tricky – it’s just like a very precise science. Physics? Criminalistics? I’m not entirely sure of a good comparison here, just roll with it. Cooking is relatively simple. You can remedy a salty dish by adding more of the other ingredients, or swap broccoli rabe for fiddle heads. Anyone can cook. With baking, even 1/2 teaspoon discrepancy can make or break your cake. And, if you substitute baking powder for baking soda, God help your soul. 

So, understandably, many people attempt (and fail) at baking and never try it again. Honestly, I think I’ve had more flop recipes than successful ones. It’s easy to suck – the ingredients aren’t right, oven temperature is off, the weather is too humid. It’s not you, it’s the cake. 

After many, many failures I now have a tried and true method to baking (virtually) perfect cakes every time. Failures are bound to happen here and there, but the following tips will help prevent a multitude of disasters. 

Prep it. 

  • Read the entire recipe end to end. Twice. 
  • Take ingredient inventory. Note how much the recipe calls for and how much you already have on hand. (It’s always best to have more than you need.)
  • Make a list of the items you you don’t have and pick them up from the grocery store. 
  • Be aware of ingredients that need to be used at room temperature, such as eggs, butter, and cream cheese. 
  • ALWAYS use fresh ingredients. 

Bake it. 

  • If you over mix your batter you will end up with a tough and dense cake. Whisk or beat together wet ingredients until smooth and then gently fold in dry ingredients until just combined. 
  • Grease your cake pans with a thick coat of Crisco and thin layer of flour. Your cake should come out clean and neat with nicely browned edges. 
  • Use Wilton Bake-Even strips around your cake pans. They will distribute heat evenly to the entire pan (hence the name!), which will result in flat tops. 
  • Oven temperatures may vary. Check your cake during the baking process to prevent burning. An oven thermometer is a good tool to have on hand.
  • Cake is done when golden brown around the edges and when a toothpick, inserted into the center, comes out clean. Don’t wait until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan before removing from the oven – you don’t want to over bake it.  

Cool it. 

  • Let your cake cool down before trying to de-pan. Removing a hot or warm cake could cause it to crumble or break right in half (resulting in absolute devastation to the baker). 
  • Allow your cake to cool further on a wire rack. It will help release the steam and cool faster. 
  • Wrap the cooled cake in plastic and chill for a few hours or overnight before frosting. This will help prevent crumbs in the frosting and will give you a stronger surface to work with. 

Decorate it.

  • Use a cake leveler to evenly slice the cake to your desired height, or to remove the little mountain on the top if you didn’t use the Bake-Even Stips. The leveler is super cheap and useful – I got mine from Walmart for about $2. 
  • A cool environment is a MUST for successful decorations – especially when working with fondant and buttercream. If possible, I would also suggest frosting and decorating the day after baking. 
  • If you are making a multi-layer cake, pipe frosting onto a layer with a pastry bag and round tip, smooth with a metal spatula. Add the next layer of cake and chill. Repeat the process until the final layer is placed. 
  • To frost the entire cake, start with a crumb cover. This is a light covering that will “freeze”the crumbs from the cake edges in place and allow for a beautiful (and flawless) frosting cover. (Makeup lovers – think concealer before foundation.) Pipe frosting into sides and smooth out with a metal spatula. If needed, pipe more frosting between layers and smooth out. Chill. 
  • To cover the entire cake, you can apply another smooth layer or pipe designs. I prefer roses because they are very elegant, super easy, and work up fast. Just use a star tip and pipe swirls around your cake, working from the bottom up. 
  • Always keep finished cakes chilled until ready to eat. Many ingredients (cream cheese, butter, etc.) can melt and/or spoil when left out for too long, especially in the summer. 

With a little practice, you will be well on your way to making fabulously perfect cakes. 

signature white cake, pistachio buttercream frosting

Happy Baking ❤