This is a guest post from Lenetta of Nettacow.
So… you know how sometimes you feel like you should do something, but you don’t really want to? That happens to me pretty frequently, though I usually don’t get such a strong nudge from above to make up my mind! If you’d like to read more about how God’s hand has been working in my life, from my accidentally setting our barn on fire to finding out I was pregnant, check out my blog post: Not My Will But Yours Be Done. I have been reading on various blogs (including KS) that eating too much wheat/gluten may not be good for some people, even if they don’t have actual Celliac’s Disease.
I had thought several times that maybe cutting down on wheat/gluten might help me with my weight issues, which started to creep up when my adrenal glands took a dive after my daughter was born five years ago. When I was about seven weeks pregnant back in February, my midwife informed me that a saliva test she’d had me do to check my cortisol levels showed that I was gluten intolerant. I was shocked, to say the least.
At first, I had just a mild case of the “I don’t wannas”. I knew going gluten free would be good for my own health and that of the baby growing inside me. At that time, we were looking at a three month trial of being off gluten to see how my system would react – and this diagnosis came on Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, so it was easy enough to offer my simple sufferings up along with those of Jesus as we made our way toward Easter and the celebration of His resurrection.
Thankfully the internet provides an amazing resource on recipes, tips, products, and there are plenty of bloggers (including Katie!) who have blazed the trail ahead of me. I was able to get through the first-trimester urpies with cold water and cold carrot sticks, rather than the bagels and ramen noodles I relied upon during my first pregnancy. (I’m not going to lie, though, there is plenty of gluten free junk food that made an appearance, too!)
Eating out has been a struggle, as it is something that I have always enjoyed tremendously. My daughter’s birthday fell during my gluten free trial, as did my birthday and mother’s day. We have become avid campers (Mama is a much happier camper thanks to Katie’s Family Camping Handbook!) and it has been difficult to figure out what to serve and eat while avoiding gluten. Thankfully I have a small stash of GF graham crackers for an occasional s’more.
Let me be the first to say that my attitude towards being gluten free hasn’t improved much. My symptoms are those of adrenal fatigue (exhaustion and insomnia for me, a tough combination for sure) rather than the typical digestive symptoms that others who experience gluten problems usually have. So, especially after cutting back on my adrenal supplements because of the baby, my symptoms have unfortunately not improved. We will be re-running the saliva test soon, and I am looking forward to testing gluten afterwards to see how it affects me.
In the midst of my trials, Katie graciously offered to let me review a new Kitchen Stewardship partner, Healthy Surprise. This company sends a box of snacks every month that are all-natural, vegan, dairy free, and gluten free. The surprise part is that you don’t know what you’re going to get!
I received the Healthy Surprise Starter Box, which contained:
- three Raw Revolution organic live food bars, in Chocolate & Coconut, Apple Cinnamon and Spirulina & Cashew
- Go Raw organic Ginger Snaps Super Cookies
- Olomomo Nut Co. Mango Chipotle Zinger Almonds
- four Mrs. May’s Freeze Dried Fruit Chips in apple and pineapple (two of each flavor)
- two packages of organic Kopali Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
- two bags of Alive & Radiant Foods Kale Krunch in tarragon Dijon flavor
- two Stretch Island Fruit Co. fruit leather bars, in apricot and strawberry
- two Bobo’s Oat Bars in maple pecan
- two That’s It bars, in apple/apricot
- four packages of Mrs. May’s Sesame Strips, two in white and two in black
- note: the photo shows the box Katie reviewed back in the fall, some of which was the same, some different.
From the company:
Each box comes with a variety of snacks. You can expect to get products made with fruits (dried, dehydrated, freeze dried & “fruit leathers”), nuts (clusters, trail mixes), bars (all kinds), crackers, chocolates (raw, things covered like espresso beans, cacao nibs), kale chips (plain, salt and vinegar, etc) and other new innovative products like Skinny Crisps!
What I liked:
- The surprise factor. Who doesn’t love getting a box of goodies in the mail?
- Easy to grab and go prepared snacks. In my first-trimester nauseous haze, it was nice to have something right under my nose for when I needed something to eat rightnowthisveryminute.
- The ability to try new things and brands that I might not normally try or have available without committing to a big order or paying high shipping fees.
- Some things we just didn’t like. Since we don’t get to choose the snacks, there were some things that just didn’t fit our palates. This would vary by family, of course!
- Kind of expensive. I haven’t added up how much it would cost to purchase these snacks individually; I imagine it is cheaper to get them through Healthy Surprise. And we know that eating all-natural and organic isn’t cheap, especially when you don’t prepare it yourself.
- Not necessarily kid-friendly, with some strong flavors. This would also vary by family.
What did we think of the snacks?
I thought I would prefer the Raw Revolution bar in Chocolate & Coconut, but I was really pleasantly surprised by the Spirulina & Cashew one. The C&C was not very sweet – our tongues are not as well trained as the Kimball family to avoid extra sweetener – and I don’t love the texture of coconut, it’s a personal thing. (For those of you who have the 2nd edition of Healthy Snacks to Go, it’s possible that my incessant questions about what we could substitute for coconut in the recipes there had a little something to do with the section titled “What If I Don’t Like Coconut?”) Though the green color of the S&C one was a bit of a surprise, I thought the flavor was great. The Apple Cinnamon bar was good, though again not really sweet enough for us. My five-year-old, Goose, wasn’t impressed with any of them.
The Go Raw ginger snaps were SPICY. I think I’ll crunch them up and use them in a crust of sorts for something else. With something much milder added in!
Though the “zing” in the Mango Chipotle Zinger almonds wasn’t too strong, it was still a bit too zippy for Goose and me. I offered them to my hubs with little hope because, similar to Katie’s husband he is not a fan of fruit and savory flavors together. He surprised me, though, and munched through the bag in no time. He wasn’t a big enough fan to hunt them down and order more, though.
The Mrs. May’s freeze dried fruit chips were exactly what one would expect. There is no added sugar, so if your family isn’t used to that, you might find them a bit sour. Goose is happily munching on the second bag of apple ones as I type, though.
I had help trying the Kopali chocolate covered espresso beans because I gave up caffeine over ten years ago. My mom and my hubs polished off the two bags in pretty short order, so I think they were a hit.
When I saw the Alive & Radiant kale chips, I was excited because I’ve heard so many good things about kale. They have a great crunch, but the Dijon flavor is quite strong. I offered one to Goose, and she took one sniff and said no thanks.
The Stretch Island Fruit Co. fruit leather was my favorite part – so much that soon after trying them, I saw a deal on them on Amazon.com and bought them in bulk! My favorite is the strawberry; again with no added sugar, they can be rather tart – especially the apricot flavor.
I actually ate both the Bobo’s oat bars in one sitting. They had been hanging out in the bottom of my purse for too long, and had gotten rather broken up in the process. No worries, I just used a spoon.
The That’s It bars contain only one apple and three apricots. I love that idea in theory but (are you seeing a pattern here?) we found them to be awfully sour.
Because my mom is a big fan of sesame, I gave her two of the Mrs. May’s sesame strips. She didn’t find much difference in flavor between the white and black, though I found the white sesame strips to be much milder than the black. After all the no-sugar-added fruit based snacks above, the rice syrup sweetening the bars was a welcome and delicious change!
The Bottom Line
I can see this being a good thing for families with some wiggle room in their budget, who are committed to eating very well, who have an adventurous palate, and who may not have a lot of time to prepare things at home.
Katie’s note: I always think of people who are just starting gluten-free and don’t know what to do, or new mamas who really don’t have time and need to eat healthy and/or gluten-free…this would be a great gift in that situation!
One lucky KS reader will get to play along with a free “Starter” box filled with gluten-free surprise goodies, valued at $33.
EVERY KS reader is invited to give the Healthy Surprise system a go with this coupon code: KITCHENSTEW will take $5 OFF your purchase.
Giveaways at Kitchen Stewardship are run via a survey, which means comments on this post do not count (and will be deleted). In the long run, this is quicker for you if you go for extra entries.
CLICK HERE TO ENTER GIVEAWAY CONTEST. GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED – THANKS FOR ENTERING!
There are 7 possible entries! Here’s what you can do to win:
- *Mandatory entry: Tell us if the following issues are important to you with regard to snacks: Vegan, Gluten Free, Ready to eat, Tasty, Single Serving, Multi Serving, Healthy, Specific Allergy
- Subscribe in a reader or via email to Kitchen Stewardship (or tell me if you already do).
- Subscribe to Healthy Surprise’s blog.
- Tell me if you “Like” Kitchen Stewardship on Facebook.
- Tell me if you “Like” Healthy Surprise on Facebook.
- Email 5 friends about this giveaway along with the link to it. (Email subscribers can forward their message.)
- Follow @kitchenstew and @HealthySurprise on Twitter AND tweet this:
If I win @kitchenstew’s giveaway, I get a @HealthySurprise box of #glutenfree goodies! Share w/me if you win, ok? [ENTER URL HERE]
Remember, comments here DO NOT COUNT. You must use the survey form.
CLICK HERE TO ENTER GIVEAWAY CONTEST. GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED – THANKS FOR ENTERING!
I will use random.org’s integer generator to choose the winner, who will be announced on the blog and will receive an email. The giveaway is open to [U.S. residents only.] Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, July 1 and I’ll post the winner later that week.
Disclosure: We received products for my review at no charge, which of course did not affect our opinions in the least. We will receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the coupon code. See my full advertising disclosure here.
Official rules and small print stuff: 1) No purchase necessary to win 2) must be 13 or older to enter and have a mailing address within the sponsor’s boundaries (see above) 3) only one survey entry per person 4) odds of winning depend on number of entries 5) employees of Kitchen Stewardship, LLC or sponsoring company not eligible for participation 6) contest sponsored by Healthy Surprise in CA 7) prizes must be accepted as is and are not redeemable for cash 8 ) Kitchen Stewardship, LLC and sponsoring company are not liable for any injury or damage to persons and/or things as a result of the acceptance of the prize offered. 9) This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.