Product Review: Krisda Stevia Sweetened Chocolate Chips

There’s not much more satisfying than biting into a gooey chocolate chip cookie. When avoiding refined sugar is something you’re concerned with, though, the sad reality is that a simple pleasure like a chocolate chip cookie may no longer be an option.

The big label food producers jumped on this reality by offering a slew of “sugar-free” baking options, but they only replaced refined, processed sugar with refined, processed artificial sweeteners. I’ve aimed to buy chocolate in its more pure form, as dark as possible, 70% or more, for baking but I’ve never been a big fan of super dark chocolate and find it somewhat unsatisfying when I want something a bit sweet.

Enter Krisda semi-sweet chocolate chips.

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Product review: QuestBar

I the pleasure of once again volunteering at the OptiMYz Live Health Expo this year. (Check out last year’s fun here) Much like last year I found myself scoping the vendors out for products that I could review.

I had heard of Quest bars only because they’re the only type of pre-packaged protein bar that is allowed in my meal plan. Not really being the type to spend money (that I don’t really have) on a $3-$5 snack, I generally have opted for things like almonds and cottage cheese as reasonable protein snacks and avoided buying the Quest bars.

That being said, I happened upon a vendor from Nutrition Excellence at OptiMYz Live. The incredibly friendly sales rep, Joel, had brought along some of the brands that they represent and distribute around the country, including those from Quest Nutrition. The temptation to nab a couple of Quest bars was too strong and I ended up buying an entire box of 12 (various flavours) for $25.

I didn’t really know what to expect as I have eaten a lot of really crappy tasting protein bars in the past that did little for me nutrition-wise. These are fairly well known for being one of the few/only bars on the market that are low-carb, sugar-free, high-fibre, high-protein and gluten free. I also knew that Coach Krissy would never have allowed me to eat them (or would eat them herself) if they were the same filler-laden crap on grocery store shelves. That doesn’t say much for the taste though. If anything, the fact that they are “better” for you only seemed to make me think they’d taste like old socks.

Quite the contrary.

If there’s anything I regret is that I didn’t introduce these beauties into my diet sooner. They have become an amazing way to battle the mid-afternoon munchies and all day I look forward to having my 3 p.m. QuestBar!

It's a picture of a wrapper because the contents inside never stay in there long enough for a photo...

It’s a picture of a wrapper because the contents inside never stay in there long enough for a photo…

In case you can’t read that, the nutrition information is as follows:

Calories: 160
Fat: 5g
Carbs: 25g
Fibre: 17g
Sugars: 1g
Protein: 20g

So far I’ve tried the Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Brownie flavours, with Strawberry Cheesecake on deck for tomorrow. The only problem I would say is that I’m going to burn through them so quickly that it’s not terribly affordable for anyone on a budget to eat these consistently. Sad face.

I am willing to change my budget around to try and fit them in though because I might be obsessed. So many protein bars are either sickly sweet, leave an unpleasant aftertaste or just taste… old. QuestBars have a really rich taste that actually tastes like what it says on the package. It’s a soft bar that is practically melt in your mouth and it’s a really decent size so you can make it last for a while.

By far, one of the best purchases I’ve made in a while.

Here’s another couple of crappy photos from OptiMYz Live that I snapped with my terrible camera phone. You should probably just go buy some QuestBars instead though…

This was the cutest thing ever! This little kid was giving it as hard as he could, too!

This was the cutest thing ever! This little kid was giving it as hard as he could, too!

Product review: Stevia sodas

I’m probably the worst person in the world to be reviewing these two products because I’m a recovering pop drinker.

In fact, up until the point that I decided to try these (purely for the sake of the blog) I hadn’t even had a carbonated beverage this year. I won’t deny that part of me was a little terrified that I would take one sip and suddenly turn into some Hulk-like monster, tearing down walls to get to the closest fizzy refreshment.

Yeah… not so much.

The usual disclaimer applies – I bought these with my own money (they were on sale) and neither one of these companies knows this blog even exists.

I picked up two different kinds of pop that are zero calorie and sugar free – sweetened with the natural sweetener stevia instead of HFCS or Splenda. I find that stevia sometimes has a strange aftertaste, so I didn’t really know what to expect.

The first one I tried was Zevia:

The flavour: Cream Soda

I was pleasantly surprised! It tasted like the cream soda I remember from my childhood (the clear kind, not the pink stuff) and it didn’t have the stevia after taste. If you’re looking for sweet though, you won’t find it here. My brain was anticipating that it was going to be sweet and it was a tad on the bland side – but refreshing!

The second can I cracked was that of Krisda Natural Soda:

The flavour: Root Beer

I thought that root beer would be a nice contrast to the cream soda flavour I had just tried. There was unfortunately one thing about Krisda that stood out for me and that was the stevia taste. It wasn’t terrible but it was enough that it masked the taste of the root beer which really should be delightful – it’s such a great natural flavour to work with!

In the battle of the stevia sodas Zevia comes out the winner hands down. If you’re a fan of pop and looking for something naturally sweetened, zero calorie, free from sodium, gluten and caffeine then definitely try a soda sweetened with stevia! They can be a bit pricey (these were on sale for $1 a can and are only sold in singles) but the can comes with a warning not to consume more than 2-3 a day so it’s probably a better idea to not overindulge in them anyway. 🙂

I think this would be a great way of weaning yourself off drinking soda but I’m a terribly biased water drinker and recovering popaholic.

The one about popularity…

This will probably come as no surprise (or maybe it will?) but the most popular entry in this blog is a product review for a certain pair of “Weight Loss Pants”. I use quotes because I am referring to them figuratively and not literally, since they don’t actually do that.

If you’ve forgotten about that series of posts or want to refresh your memory you can find them here and here.

Every time I check the most common search terms that people use when they stumble into my world through the Google machine it’s overwhelmingly that of “Zaggora Hot Pants Review” and I find that any time those damn things go on sale there is a big surge of searching.

This morning I checked my email and there was a Groupon message declaring “Up to 59% Off Weight-Loss HotPants” in the title and I knew there was going to be another jump in searches and decided to bump the topic back up to the top. On a side note, it does make me somewhat happy that people are doing their research before they go ahead and buy something.

For anyone who may be finding this post through post-purchase research, take note:

  • Wearing a pair of noisy shorts 24/7 will not change your body composition.
  • The only way you can do that is through hard work, dedication, balanced nutrition and exercise.
  • Don’t let a gimmicky pair of pants take the credit for all that hard work.

Seriously people, I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it… it doesn’t do this company any benefit for you to actually lose weight. You would then not be buying their stuff and they would go bankrupt (see: weight loss pill industry).

You will lose a ton of water (the pants make you sweat like the dickens because they’re uncomfortably hot – AND NOISY) which you will then have to replace and when you don’t see results you will just work harder until you do then say it was the pants that did it. No, you could have done it in a pair of LuLus because you’re awesome.

If their marketing was true and you could lose 2 pant sizes every week just by wearing the shorts you would eventually waste away. If you want to buy them just to have a pair of knee length running shorts (I do like that about them) I can get behind that, but don’t  buy into the advertising.

/end rant

Product Review: True Lemon

When life gives you lemons… make lemon water!

Water is my beverage of choice but every now and then it’s nice to add a little bit of flavour to my H2O. Sometimes it’s mint but more often than not it’s lemon.

Working in radio, lemon water is an important tool in the announcer’s tool belt. I do a lot of talking in the span of 7 hours (13 minutes an hour worth of newscasts) and the last thing I need is to lose my voice. It happens surprisingly often though if I am not drinking lemon water. Lots of people preach tea with honey but for radio people that’s not a solution – honey makes your vocal chords stick together so you need to clear your throat more.

The problem is… lemons are not incredibly portable and I find that the bottled lemon juice just doesn’t have the same freshness as just having a real squeeze of lemon. I was at the grocery store today and made the most fantastic discovery!

This isn’t like Crystal Light or any kind of drink mix, it’s lemons in a powder form and it’s delicious! It definitely tastes better than the bottled lemon and mixes really well in water! I have a recipe for lemon protein bars that I hadn’t made because it includes Crystal Light in the ingredients and I don’t eat/drink artificial sweeteners so I might give it a try using this instead. I think if I mixed it with soda water it would taste quite delightful.

Each packet is the equivalent to one lemon wedge!

Ultimately, lemon water is great for your throat, your liver, your stomach, digestion, asthma and allergies and a slew of other maladies and I think True Lemon is going to help me get a bit more into my day!

Product Review – Enerjive Quinoa Snack Crisps

Back in January I promised you a review of these snack crisps. I had hoped to do it before I managed to eat them all, so since I only have two servings left I figured it was time. (Is that a spoiler for what’s to come? I think it might be!)

How I came to know about this product is pretty random, actually. Where I live I sometimes have a challenging time finding particular foods that I want, especially when it comes to organic food. It’s getting better around here, the gluten-free and organic options are ever-increasing but in many cases they are often only available in larger metropolitan areas or online. I had been researching different retailers that shipped to my area when I stumbled upon this website for Enerjive Food. What immediately caught my eye was a “Look who’s eating Enerjive” feature on the sidebar which had a picture of someone I know. I realized immediately that not only did this company ship, but they were Canadian – bonus! The company is based out of Ottawa, ON and was founded by Naturopathic Doctor Joel Lee Villeneuve and Culinary Artist Korey Kealey.

The website had some strange formatting errors which appears to have been fixed for the most part but it was easy to find the main products that they sell: spelt & buckwheat granolas, herbal infusions, protein pastas, and quinoa snack crisps. I wanted to try everything but not knowing whether or not they would be good products (and the fact that I love snacks) I opted to start with the crisps.

They come in a few different flavours; Chocolate Fix, Lemon Berry Burst, Apricot Orange Zing & Apple Cinnamon Cozy and Original Oh-My. I ordered two family size, 500g boxes (chocolate and lemon berry) for $24.99 each and they were delivered very promptly via courier.

The first thing I did was check the serving size on the bottom of the box, which really doesn’t mean much to me because I’m crap at math! haha Good thing my handy kitchen scale isn’t! I always find it easier when I get big containers of things to immediately divide the box into servings. That way it’s near-impossible to accidentally overeat beyond what I had intended to, and it also made storage a bit easier since the box was pretty large.

I was surprised by how much ended up being in a serving. It’s a decent sized snack! With many snack foods, even natural or “healthy” ones I find they tend to think you can eat a ¼ cup and be satisfied but it never happens. Then came the big decision – which one do I try first?! I went with the chocolate and it was love at first bite! I am a lover of dark chocolate as it is but this was delicious. Just a hint of cocoa without being overwhelmingly sweet. I’ve found since I started eating clean I’m not as big of a fan of sweet things so these were perfect and tasted real. They were also very satisfying. Once I finished a little packet I didn’t feel the urge to have more. I was able to just savour and enjoy what I had.

In all I give the Enerjive Quinoa Snack Crisps two huge thumbs up and I can’t wait to try some of the other products they have. If they are anything like the crisps I will be very happy with them!

Product Review – Zaggora Hot Pants (the finale!)

It’s been two weeks, time to see the results of the Zaggora Hot Pants test!

To bring you up to speed in case you missed the last post on this topic (though you can read it here) the company that sells these shorts claims they will slim you down by two pant sizes in just two weeks. The only thing you need to do is exercise in the shorts for 30 minutes a day, three times a week. Easy, right?

I tried to do one better and I did my entire hour and a half workout in the pants for 3-4 days both weeks. I figured that the extra time wouldn’t hurt the results. On the Zaggora website they also say that wearing the shorts for every day tasks such as housework, laundry, and sleeping would also enhance the magic so, in the spirit of trying everything they say, I did that too. I’m surprised I could sleep considering how loud the shorts are but I managed to do it! 😛

I’m a size 10 (US) so if the shorts worked the way they said I should be able to fit into an 8, right? Also, I took measurements before I started wearing them. My hips were 42″ and thighs 25.3″.

Time for the big reveal… after two weeks of wearing the noisiest pants in history during my runs, while I slept, and while I did dishes I lost a grand total of… *drum roll*


Yup, that’s right. I’m exactly the same size now as I was when I started this product review. All in all I’d say that the Zaggora Hot Pants did not live up to the hype. They did make me sweat more but what I lost in water I was replenishing because I drink a lot of fluids every day. I went above and beyond their “requirements”, was still eating healthy meals, and drinking more than enough water so their claims that someone who can eat burgers for lunch every day and still lose two sizes by wearing a pair of shorts? False. My guess is it’s either a placebo effect or they are using results from people who drastically change their eating habits for the better when they start wearing them.

(This is the reason “results not typical” disclaimers exist.)

Be on the lookout for the next product review soon where we’ll nibble on the (far less noisy) Enerjive quinoa snack crisps!

The one with the fitness expo… (part II)

Wow. What a weekend!

I spent both Saturday and Sunday volunteering at the OptiMYz Live Health Expo here in Halifax. Volunteering for anything is rewarding, but couple it with something I am as passionate about as health and fitness and it’s really a winning combination. The workshops and bootcamps were outstanding from what I could see. I had the chance to meet both Tommy Europe and UFC legend Royce Gracie, both of whom were sweet, humble, and friendly.

The group with Tommy Europe

Tommy gave a presentation this morning that I found really informative. I was taking notes on my phone. Everything he was saying just clicked with me, especially when it came to being successful in your fitness goals. He’s just a great speaker – so motivating! There was vendors from the fitness industry, nutrition, wellness (both mind and body), travel, adventure… you name it and it was probably there. I did end up getting a couple of great things to do product reviews on in the future – a couple sets of Fit Deck playing cards, and Intuition water additive – so be on the lookout for that!

Two Julias with Royce Gracie

CanFitPro had a booth at the Expo and I chatted with them a bit. The conversation made me anxious to count the change that is currently in my “PTS money jar” (I’ve been saving to pay for my personal training course). They got me pretty pumped about getting the course materials.

The group over at OptiMYz Magazine are awesome so I have to send them a shout-out and thank them for the opportunity to experience the Expo from “behind the scenes”. The whole thing really helped bring some things together for me. I was starting to think that I am meant to work in the fitness/wellness industry and now I’m pretty sure that I really am. I feel like I should be capitalizing on the things that I am passionate about and that’s number one. In what capacity that will be, I’m not quite sure yet, but at least I feel like I have a focus now. I know what general direction I’m going in from here and that’s pretty satisfying.

This probably seems a little scattered but I’m exhausted after a fun-filled busy weekend that also involved having to go to my real job at 5 a.m. (which means I got up for my workout at 2:45 a.m.) but I wanted to share a bit of my OptiMYz experience. Thanks for reading!

Product Review – Zaggora Hot Pants

I’ve always wanted to be a consumer reporter. When I got into journalism I was jealous that while I sat through tedious town council meetings and covered court there were reporters out there getting tons of free stuff just so they could say “you should buy this!” or “this product sucks!”. It was just so cool to think that not only did they get to try out things that hadn’t hit the market yet, but they were also really the driving force behind why many people buy things. Your product showing up in a newspaper, or on TV with some reporters stamp of approval can really make or break it. So when I embarked on this blogging journey I knew I wanted to do some product and website reviews. I am somewhat limited by the fact that I am a full time student and part time broadcaster; meaning I don’t have much in the way of funds and this project was going to take money. What I lack in money though, I have in determination! I also have an uncanny ability to bargain shop. 🙂 To be clear, no one is paying me to talk about their products!

One day a couple of months ago I got an email from a certain “group coupon buying” website – I won’t say which one – about a product called Zaggora Hot Pants. The company claims these exercise shorts (now available in both capris and leggings also) can cut you down by two sizes in just two weeks. All you have to do is exercise in the pants for 30 minutes 3 times a week. After what could only be described as an over-exaggerated eyebrow raise I thought this would be a perfect product to start with! Zaggora is based out of the UK but they ship worldwide. It cost about $15 for shipping after the exchange rate (though they do allow you to shop in the currency of your choice, it is charged to your credit card in British pounds) and I was quite surprised when I had to pay an additional $31 in customs charges when it arrived! Just some things to note…

They fit pretty well, here I am rocking a size medium.
The texture of the fabric is interesting, overall comfortable but I couldn’t get over the noise! Even breathing is noisy in these things. Luckily when I’m running at home I can’t hear the swishing over the sound of the treadmill and my music but I don’t know if I would wear them to the gym. A recent update on their website now has the shorts in nude and says they are less noisy than their predecessor. I hope so! Also, I wore them a total of three times before one of the seams broke and I had to fix it. There was no way I was shipping them all the way back to the UK for an exchange.But the real test is whether or not they can achieve what they claim and make a person lose two sizes in two weeks based on 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week in the pants. Consider it a challenge I am taking up. I’ve now done two workouts in them and I will say I’ve never sweat so much in my life and for anyone who has seen me after a run that’s saying a lot. (I’m a sweaty girl, what can I say!) I had sweat running out of the bottom of the shorts, it was unreal. This may be TMI (it likely is) but when I took them off the undergarment I was wearing beneath them looked like it had just come out of the washer. Clearly they have some kind of magical powers, we’ll see whether that power lies in water loss or actual fat loss. They also claim to be a solution to cellulite but (don’t hate me) I don’t have that problem, so I can’t speak to it.

For the purpose of this exercise I measured myself before I started wearing the shorts. As a reference point… my thighs are 25.3”, hips are 42”. I think those would be the most likely areas to change, if any do, since they’re shorts. 🙂

In two weeks we’ll check out the results! (if there are any…)