Interview with Family-Owned Karen’s Naturals (Formerly Just Tomatoes)

Interview with Family-Owned Karen’s Naturals (Formerly Just Tomatoes)

You can pretty much go into any grocery store these days to discover aisles dedicated to organic and healthy snacks. What was once a niche category that you could only find at a health food store has now grown to $43.15 million dollar (2015 stats) industry with more people seeking out these healthy alternatives. One such company that was at the pioneer of this movement was Just Tomatoes. Conceived in 1985 by Karen Cox who envisioned a brand that would utilize dehydration and freeze-drying technology to bring farm fresh fruits and vegetables to the public year-round in the most nutritious, convenient, cost-conscious and flavor-packed manner possible. Working with her husband, Bill Cox, a fourth generation family farmer, they created Just Tomatoes – initially selling dehydrated tomatoes from their farm, then quickly outgrowing their name by adding apples, persimmons, berries, corn and mix to their line of naturally-fresh, chemical-free products.

During a recent chat with Bill Cox, we learned that the process starts by using fruits and vegetables directly from farms, ranches and orchards where they’re allowed to ripen naturally before being picked at the peak of flavor. The produce is then washed gently, and cut into bite-size pieces before being flash frozen. All water is then extracted by vacuum. Since the temperature never exceeds 90ºF, freeze-dried foods are considered a raw food (the company’s dehydrated products are dried at 125ºF). Whether freeze-dried or dehydrated, Karen’s Naturals’ fruits and veggies always maintain their color, nutrients and natural flavors without the use of any additives or preservatives.

karen's naturals freeze-dried line

karen's naturals freeze-dried line

Sadly, Karen passed but her family continues to honor and legacy and recently re-branding the company as Karen’s Naturals, to both honor her and continue her mission to create healthy, farm-fresh freeze-dried fruits and vegetables. This includes an expansion of their product line and retail distribution where you can now find Karen’s Naturals in 37 distinct fruit and vegetable variations, along with their new line of 100% natural fruit powders. Available in all-natural and organic versions, some of Karen’s Naturals products include: Just Apples, Just Bananas, Just Strawberries, Just Blueberries, Just Grapes, Just Peaches, Just Mango, Cherries, Just Raspberries, Just Tomatoes, Just Corn, Just Peas, Just Hot Veggies, Fruit Powders and more. Additionally, all of these products are naturally free of gluten, dairy, wheat and nuts.

A pioneer brand in the industry, Karen’s Naturals is a great way to snack on healthy veggies and fruits without having to worry about added any sugars, preservatives or GMOs.

                                                                                                                                                                   

Available online at www.karensnaturals.com, through Amazon.com and other online retailers and at such health food stores as Whole Foods, Karen’s Naturals offers individual “on-the-go” snack bag versions of its freeze-dried and dehydrated fruit and veggie products (all under two dollars each), as well as bulk packages and Variety Packs. 

Continue Reading

Latest Food Craze: Drinkable Soup from Fawen

Latest Food Craze: Drinkable Soup from Fawen

As a busy mom on-the-go I’m always looking for healthy snacks that I can pack for myself and my kids during whatever adventure we may venture on. While I do love me some fruit and nuts, there’s now another option to add to your ever-growing magic of tricks with Fawen, a collection of ready-todrink vegan soups. Yes, drinkable soups!

Latest Food Craze: Drinkable Soup from Fawen

Latest Food Craze: Drinkable Soup from Fawen

Packed with tons of fiber, vitamins and minerals, the innovative Fawen line contains three flavors, including: Beet & Purple Cabbage with Cumin; Broccoli & Cauliflower with Turmeric and Sweet Potato and Red Lentil with Cinnamon. This can be enjoyed chilled, hot or room temp to enable you to get a burst of nutrients without any of the timely prep that comes with soup-making. We recently had the chance to try out the line, and I was surprised by how the soups were so rich and full of flavor, which isn’t normally the case with packaged soups. They were light, delicious, and of course, so convenient that made it super easy to enjoy a healthy snack. Additional benefits of the soup: zero artificial preservatives, sweeteners, additives, cholesterol, and GMO’s; fiber from whole vegetables – never juiced or pressed;  certified Gluten-Free, Organic, Vegan and Kosher; loaded with 16 different vitamins, minerals and antioxidant; and every batch is made with hydrating coconut water, coconut milk, and virgin coconut oil that work together with filtered water to form the perfect alkaline base and bring balance and vitality to the body and mind.

An incredible power snack, Fawen is the perfect new soup to satisfy and nourish everyone who wants a boost of nutrition.

The soups are now available at drinkfawen.com in 6 pack and 12 pack cases. The collection is now rolling out to stores on the East Coast and available online: DrinkFawen.com and Amazon.com

We were provided with samples for review. All opinions are our own.

 

Continue Reading

Healthy Start with Grain-Free GrandyOats

Healthy Start with Grain-Free GrandyOats

By now it’s safe to say that most of us have tried granola at some point in our lives. While this isn’t a new food, there are definitely variations of this classic breakfast option that covers a wide-range of choice! Hooray to advances in granola. The problem with some varieties are that they are loaded with added sugars that don’t always make this the best option to start your day. Along with the sugar-ladded varieties, there are tons of healthier options that even include grain-free varieties! We just had the chance to try out such a variety with the new grain-free Coconola line from GrandyOats.

Healthy Start with Grain-Free GrandyOats

As a company that has handcrafted granola since 1979 (along with muesli, trail mix, roasted nuts and hot cereals in rural Main), they recently introduced a new line of gluten free granolas with a base of coconut that’s been touted for it’s nutritional benefits such as for energy, fiber and healthy fats including MCT. This, along with the combo of the nuts, makes for a super healthy and powerful way to start your day.

Healthy Start with Grain-Free GrandyOats

We had the opportunity to test out a few of these new granolas and were amazed at how good they were without having any traditional oats in them. One of our favorites is the Original, Super Hemp Blend, a variety that contains organic: unsweetened coconut, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, sesame seeds, honey, maple syrup, and vanilla! Paired with some yogurt, blueberries and a drizzle of some of our morning smoothie made for a satisfying and incredible option for breakfast. This variety wasn’t too sweet and provided the right amount of crunch that paired amazingly with the variety of nuts in the granola. A seriously addictive blend, we’ve also been stashing them in our bags for a mid-day snack or to top on our salads and smoothies. It’s super versatile and incredible tasty that can easily be enjoyed throughout the day.

Additional varieties in the Coconola line include the Original Coconola and the Chocolate Chunk Coconola, a healthy and satisfying sweet treat made with rganic: unsweetened coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut syrup, dark chocolate, sesame seeds, pecans, cashews, maple syrup and vanilla.

Additionally, all of the “oats” in the grain-free line are “certified organic, gluten-free and paleo; non-GMO; small batch; high protein; oil-free; salt-free; kosher; low sugar; and socially responsible,” as stated by Aaron Anker, Chief Granola Officer for GrandyOats.

And another cool aspect of the company is that their bakery is solar powered where they have 288 solar panels next to the bakery generate enough clean, renewable energy to produce millions of pounds of granola and offset over 145,000 pounds of greenhouse gases each year. With a focus on social consciousness, they source the most wholesome organic ingredients and partner with local, organic, and non-GMO producers. A fantastic granola from a company that cares, we fully support and love the incredible varieties from their new grain-free line, and think you will, too!

All 3 varieties of Coconola are offered in 9 oz. re-sealable pouches for a SRP of $7.99. A wide range of GrandyOats organic cereals and snacks in a variety of sizes are available nationwide at natural food stores, food cooperatives, major grocery chains, online retailers and www.GrandyOats.com.

We were provided samples for review. All opinions are our own.

Continue Reading

Taco Night Rebooted with a Killer Guacamole Recipe

We never meet a taco night that we didn’t love. Really, how could you not love a tortilla-filled meal that’s filled with cheese, beans, meat, and really anything that you want stuff all up in there?! But the issue, as with many of our favorite themed-meals, is that tacos, burritos and so on can be laded with unecessary ingredients – not to mention added calories and fats (and not the good kind). But since there’s no way that we are giving up on taco night (#tacostrong), we’ve found a way to swap out some of those not-so-great ingredients for better ones. Check out our recap (below) of some of our favorite taco night essentials and a killer guacamole recipe, if we do say so ourselves. Also, be sure to share some of your insider taco night tips on how make this dish healthier.

taco night rebooted with guacamole

Killer Guacamole Recipe…in a Good Way

Serves 4 or so…depending on the hunger factor

Ingredients:

4 ripe avocados
1 tomato
1 garlic, crushed
1/2 red onion, cut up
1 lemon
1 lime
salt and pepper

Directions:

Cut open the avocados and slice them into three sections and then diagonally into another three sections. Scoop out the avocados and place them in a bowl. Cut up the garlic, onions, tomatoes, lemon and lime and place them all in a place. Mix and mash the ingredients together – don’t overthink this part, it’s just guac. Add some salt and pepper. Taste. You may need to add more salt, pepper, lemon or lime, depending on your preferences. Devour!

taco night chopping it up
New (and amazing!) Orbit Rolling Herb Cutter for guacamole chopping (not pictured).

Handy Kitchen Helper: Taco Night and Beyond

For this guacamole recipe chopping, we used our new Orbit Rolling Herb Cutter, a genius kitchen gadget that makes it easier to chop up herbs in a flash. We used it to chop up our garlic, tomatoes, and onion and were equally happy with the quick results. For the garlic, which as we all know is annoying to chop, we thought it was pretty awesome that we could hold this leverage handle as it worked its magic to roll and cut up our garlic, cutting with precision and definition as it chopped  (quite literally) our cutting time in half. Hooray! Another bonus: this handy dandy gadget is dishwasher-friendly AND folds up so you can shove it away with ease when you’re not in chopping mode. Which might be never for some of us.

taco night made healthy

Healthy Essentials for Taco Night

Organic black or pinto beans
Quinoa
Avocados
Organic shredded cheese
Organic sour cream
Whole grain torilla
Sweet potato or pumpkin
Kale or spinach
Corn
Peppers
Lime
Lemon
Garlic
Lean proteins like chicken or fish
Salt and pepper

taco night: chips we love

Bonus essential for taco night: Chips!

Another ingredient that we can’t get enough of for taco night is chips and we just discovered the very best with the Sweet Potato Chips from Way Better Snacks. These crunchtastic chips are literally the best tortilla chips we have tried in a long time! Why? Well, they are packed with good-for-you stuff like chia seeds and sprouted grains that combined with sweet potatoes tastes amazing! Seriously, you won’t be able to stop eating these healthy chips and that’s a-okay!

We were given a sample for review purposes but these are own opinions.

Continue Reading

No Bake Coconut and Peanut Butter Bites

No Bake Coconut and Peanut Butter Bites

We love to snack. Cause, really there’s no way we are going to make it from lunch to dinner without a nibble (or two). And you shouldn’t either, especially since you should be feeding your body with healthy and wholesome foods throughout the day to sustain your blood sugar levels so that you don’t devour the bread basket the section that it hits the table. One of our favorite healthy snacks is the simple homemade Coconut and Peanut Butter Bites.

We love this snack for many reasons, but the main part is that it is a no bake treat that’s packed with protein and low in sugar! They’re also uber portable and fills us up when we need the energy the most. Read on to check out our recipe for the ever delicious Coconut and Peanut Butter Snack Bites! Happy snacking!

No Bake Coconut and Peanut Butter Bites

No Bake Coconut and Peanut Butter Bites

Ingredients:

2 cups of dry oatmeal
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup ground chia seeds
1/2 coconut oil
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon

Directions:

Mix all the oatmeal, coconut flakes, coconut oil and peanut butter into a large bowl. Stir everything together. Add in the chia and flax seeds and mix. Add in the honey, vanilla, cinnamon and chips and continue to mix together. Once together, cool in the fridge for 5-7 hours. This allows the blend to mold together. Then, use your hands to create mini bites (makes around 20) and chill again. They’ll be ready to be devoured the next day! Enjoy.

Continue Reading

Burst of Nutrients from Pure Green

pure green juice in NYC

We are big green juice fans. And even more than that, lovers of convenient green juices. The issue, especially in big cities, is the level of how much green juices have taken some areas by storm where you’ll find a new green juice maker at basically every corner. So, how are they different? What makes them better that their competitor? Why are they so expensive?!

To better understand the latest green juice maker, we tested out Pure Green, a new wellness brand in NYC that’s focused on a providing people with energizing and nutritious options that taste good. This includes a full-range of healthy options such as cold-pressed juices, smoothies, pure milks, acai bowls, pure bites, and more.

To kick-off the weekend, we tested out some blends from their cold-pressed juice that features a range of healthy combinations including their namesake, Pure Greens, Rockin Beet, Green Coco, Soul Kick, Wake up Call and more. Filled with high quality ingredients like beets, carrots, apples, kale, chia, coconut water and more, we were thrilled to start out our week by trying the Pure Greens and Rockin Beet blends.

Pure Green NYC

Starting Pure Greens, we loved how this 12ounce bottle is packed with nutrients and good-for-you ingredients like kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, zucchini, and romaine. Easy to drink, the blend is the perfect serving for a quick drink on-the-go, to accompany breakfast or an in-between drink. We loved how it was all blended perfectly together, delivering a powerful punch that was satisfying. We were equally impressed with Rockin Beet that’s blended with a delicious combination of beet, carrot, apple, lemon, and ginger. We love how these blends provided us with the nutrients that are bodies need but don’t always get in our frantic, fast-paced lives. Plus, they helped to keep us super energized and not sluggish after we feel after our mid-day coffee/chocolate combo. Not that we are giving up on coffee or chocolate anytime soon, but it’s always nice to have healthy options to help us make better decisions to keep us powered up throughout the day.

A new wellness brand that’s focused on using wholesome ingredients, we loved trying out the flavorful and nutrient-rich blends that made it really easy to enjoy a healthy snack that kept us energized throughout the day.

Pure Green is located in three locations: Financial District, Soho, and Midtown East. They will soon be open in Tribeca, UES, the East Village, and Cobble Hill!

For more information, please visit: http://www.puregreen.com/menu/

We were not paid for this post. We were given samples for review.

Continue Reading

Latest Healthy Snack on the Block: Organic Superseed Crunch

Organic Superseed Crunch review
Add a little crunch to your morning oatmeal.

In our quest to eat as healthy as possible, the snack category can sometimes fall a little short in satisfying our healthy needs. Sure, we try to grab a piece of fruit whenever it’s humanely possible, but sometimes we just want a snack with a little more crunch that isn’t loaded with sugar. This weekend we tested a snack (and breakfast option) that falls into these categories with the Organic Superseed Crunch by Absolutely Gluten-Free, a company committed to offering delicious products that also happen to be gluten-free.

A product that has been two years in the making, the Organic Superseed Crunch line includes three yummy flavors (Cinnamon, Original and Toasted Coconut) that seriously pack a punch in the flavor department. Made with flax seeds, chia seeds, and sesame seeds, this wholesome snack is packed with Omega 3 ALA, dietary fiber, calcium, iron, and antioxidants!

As a granola-bar like snack, we love eating it as when hunger strikes, which is basically every couple of hours, or as a topping to our morning oatmeal that delivers a nice crunch factor coupled with a mild sweetness. You can also add it to yogurt, fruit salads, or even ice cream, which is a great option for kids to get some much-needed nutrients throughout the day. It’s also a really convenient snack that we like to place in small bags, along with some nuts, for a tasty snack that keeps us satisfied when we are running around.

You can find the Organic Superseed Crunch line at supermarkets, big box and natural food stores. Absolutely Gluten-Free Organic Superseed Crunch is packaged in convenient 4.5 oz. re-sealable bags (six to a case). It’s all-natural, certified gluten-free, OU kosher, non-GMO, vegan, dairy and soy-free, low in sodium and USDA Organic.

For more information, please check them out at http://absolutelygf.com.

I was not paid for this post. I was provided with some samples for review.

Continue Reading