Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oh the joys of moving with Swanson Vitamins Saving the Day

I apologize for the sparse posts lately. Long story made short our house is a mess as we quickly and unexpectedly move to a new house 2 blocks away. Oh the joys of moving. Ugh! Thank goodness Swanson Vitamins included some healthy snacks in the sample box they sent me for my review because my cupboards are currently bare.

The first snack was Soyjoy, an all natural baked soy and fruit bar. These are not like your typical fruit or granola bar. I think a good description would be that soyjoys are like fruitcake in a bar, meaning dense yet flavorful. My favorite flavor was blueberry with an ingredient list of raisins, wild blueberries, pineapple, coconut, cranberries and white chocolate chips. Doesn't that sound good? I have to say that these passed the "picky-kid" test in my home. We tried the banana, blueberry and berry flavors. (If you're like me you throw away all candy that is banana flavored but these bars were good enough to eat.) Even better, soyjoy passed the healthy test with no artificial flavors, colors, hydrogenated oils, gluten and 0 g trans fat.
The second snack sent to me was Pumpkin Crunch Clusters. My kids and I love to eat trail mix for our snack because it's the perfect on-the-go snack to take to the park or keep in my purse plus it satisfies hunger. These clusters are edible just plain but we enjoyed them mixed in with our our trail mix. The seed clusters are salty so I doubled up on sweet (raisins, dried mangos). I *heart* healthy snacks!

*Other bloggers can receive products from Swanson to review by contacting

I was not compensated for this post although I did receive product samples to facilitate my review.  Any and all opinions are my own.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Make Your Cupcake and Eat It Too!

At a young age my daughter showed signs of a food allergy. After numerous tests we think she is most likely lactose intolerant. (Don't get me started on food allergies!) When Swanson Health Products sent me a gluten, dairy & nut free cupcake mix my kids shouted for joy! Not only has Something Good created a food product under stringent procedures that ensure they manufacture safe allergy free products but it's also baker friendly. Baker friendly? What I mean is the kit is simple to put together (just add eggs and water to the batter packet) and the icing mix and sprinkles are included.

My eldest child is getting to an age where I trust her more to bake a dish completely on her own so these cupcakes were her project. Again, it was helpful that the ingredient list was simple. I also liked how the baking instructions are printed on the back of the box in a clear format. Lastly, the best part about this mix is that even though it's gluten, wheat, dairy, tree nut, soya, GMO, peanut, fructose and even trans fat FREE the cupcakes taste delicious! The vanilla is sweet, the cake has a good density and the color is a clean white. I love baking a "white" cake that in the end really does in fact look white. So pretty!

Check out that "Allergy Awareness" list!
The only cupcake issue we struggled with was the moisture content in the frosting. We live in a very humid environment so with most frosting recipes we decrease the liquids. I did the same with this recipe and still had to add extra powdered sugar. The frosting turned out so runny we couldn't keep it in the frosting bag without drips flowing out nor could we get a beautiful scalloped design. All in all, taste trumps appearance in my book and the flavor of these cupcakes was very good.

*Other bloggers can receive products from Swanson to review by contacting

I was not compensated for this post although I did receive product samples to facilitate my review.  Any and all opinions are my own.  

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sauce Winner

The winners of the Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce are #2 (Emily) & #14 (Amber).

I apologize for the slight delay in announcing the winner but when there's a tsunami then all else goes on the back-burner. Thanks to everyone who entered and thank you especially to Country Bob's for the complimentary sauce!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Healthy & Hearty Banana Nut Muffins

I love to feed my family whole-grain, heart healthy food so I jumped at the chance to review a package of wheat bran sent to me by Swanson Health Products. A little background on Swanson: I enjoyed reading the story of the founding of the company. In the late 1950s Leland Swanson, founder of Swanson Health Products, was struggling to play his beloved sport of golf because of arthritis. After some personal research he began taking supplements to increase his health and eventually after a small mail-order beginning Swanson became the company it is today.

Now on to the ingredient of wheat bran. Bran is the "hard outer layer of grain and is often produced as a by-product of milling in the production of refined grains. Bran is particularly rich in dietary fiber and essential fatty acids and contains significant quantities of starch, protein, vitamins and dietary minerals." (Wikipedia) Basically, wheat bran is the good stuff that is often left out of milled flour. I wanted to bake something special yet kid-friendly for breakfast with the wheat bran. I found a Banana-Bran-Nut Muffin recipe on Bob's Red Mill site but I was concerned that the bread would be unappealingly dense. That's when I pulled out the package of Bob's Red Mill aluminum free baking soda also sent to me by Swansons. I didn't know what that meant but from a little internet research I found out that some companies chemically produce baking soda whereas Bob's Red Mill is mined naturally with water in northwestern Colorado. Why is this important? Although no definitive correlation has been shown regarding health problems (Alzheimer patients have high aluminum content in their brains) aluminum can also be the source of a slight tin flavor in your baked goods.

The Verdict:  With an ingredient list of wheat bran and wheat flour I was doubtful these muffins would be moist let alone enjoyable to my children. The result was two of my kids ate 3 muffins each in one sitting! The muffins are very moist and flavorful. I did add a dusting of granulated sugar to the tops of the muffins for the benefit of my young children. (The noticeably sugary-topped muffins were the first to be eaten.) I am anxious to continue baking with the aluminum free baking soda to see if I can taste a definitive difference. Still, it had to be good baking soda to create a plump muffin when you're baking with such heavy grains.

Banana-Bran-Nut Muffins
Recipe source: Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods

1 1/4 cups wheat bran
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons brown sugar, packed
3/4 cups chopped walnuts
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups plain lowfat yogurt
1 large overripe banana

Preheat oven to 400°F. Insert paper liners in muffin tins, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the bran, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and walnuts and stir until well mixed.

Measure the oil and yogurt into the blender (or processor) and add the banana, broken up. Blend at medium speed until uniform, then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir gently until all is wet. Spoon the batter into the foil liners and bake for about 20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

*Other bloggers can receive products from Swanson to review by contacting

I was not compensated for this post although I did receive product samples to facilitate my review.  Any and all opinions are my own.  
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