Sprout Living Epic Protein Powder

Epic Protein by Sprout Living offers athletic individuals a great way to meet protein needs as well as gain a whole host of nutrients in just 1-2 scoops of powder.  If you are searching for a protein powder that blends entirely into your smoothie, look no further.  Epic Protein is devoid of those chalk-like clumps often found when using other brands.  I have been using Epic Protein for years and find it especially beneficial when I am in a training phase for climbing.  I really enjoy the Vanilla Lucuma powder, because I can use it as a base to play up the flavor in my smoothie or simply blend it with flax milk if I am trying to keep things simple.  Plus, it has 9.5 grams of protein per scoop and a negligible amount of salt and carbs.  The company also prides itself on sourcing clean ingredients.  

The Epic Protein line consists of Vanilla Lucuma, an Original blend, Green Kingdom and Chocolate Maca. The first four ingredients in each of these products include sprouted brown rice, yellow pea, sacha inchi and cranberry seed.  Rich in omegas, the sacha inchi nut provides a high level of protein per serving.  You can buy sacha inchi in its nut form here.   

If you have not used a protein powder, or perhaps it's been some time, I would recommend starting off with one tablespoon of protein added to your smoothie per day.  If you double up immediately, or consume more than one smoothie or shake per day, you might begin to notice an increased level of, dare I say, flatulence!  The type of blender you use will make a difference in the amount of air in your drink; too much air adds to stomach woes in that department.  Finally, because I enjoy this product so much, all of my smoothies with protein will feature powders by Epic, and so I hope you will join me and give this company a try!

 My  Yum Yum Smoothie  with strawberries, pixie tangerines and Green Kingdom Epic protein.

My Yum Yum Smoothie with strawberries, pixie tangerines and Green Kingdom Epic protein.

Kite Hill

 Dear Kite Hill:  I am speechless.  Thank you for making an amazing almond-based line that is way better than the mainstream "thing".  Your products are the  real  deal!  

Dear Kite Hill:  I am speechless.  Thank you for making an amazing almond-based line that is way better than the mainstream "thing".  Your products are the real deal!  

I found Kite Hill's page on Facebook recently, and when I recognized that they use almonds as their base, I knew immediately that I wanted to find out how to buy their products.  If you review the "story" section on Kite Hill's site, you'll notice that the leadership for the company consists of five men with a variety of backgrounds: an executive chef, a chef with an artisanal cheese making background, a well-versed cheese factory mechanical engineer, a bio chemist and an experienced CEO who seeks to put the planet first.  Kite Hill also developed a way to obtain the necessary cultures and enzymes for their products from vegetable-based sources, and they also tested 20 different almond varieties to locate the perfect nut for their company.    

My stomach has had zero issues with "nuts" as a base in vegan products, so I was intrigued by Kite Hill.  My local Co-op recently started stocking Kite Hill products, and I was super excited when I saw this brand in the refrigerator section next to all of the other mainstream dairy brands.  I was quick to put Kite Hill's plain cream cheese and some of their yogurts in my cart.  The cream cheese cost me $6.29 while the yogurt was on sale at two for $3.00.  The cream cheese packaging currently offers $1.00 off future Kite Hill products.  I'll take it!   On another note, Miyoko's Kitchen initially had me pscyhed, but at $10 a package it was not sustainable for weekly use.  I found that Miyoko's cheese spreads were best used on crackers, and were not ideal for baking, or on a toasted bagel.  In the end, these two companies offer vastly different flavors as they use different nuts for their base, but they each have a place at the table.  I am glad that there are multiple companies available in the food industry today, and I applaud any effort to create animal-free products!

Kite Hill cream cheese is simply the most amazing cream cheese that I have ever tried.  To be honest, I almost gave up entirely on purchasing "fake cheese" products because they make feel ill, or were a complete let down.  Kite Hill's cream cheese is whipped, moist and has a glob factor that is reminiscent of Philadelphia brand cream cheese.  Kite Hill takes cream cheese to a whole new level as its taste is superb.  I am no longer longing for philly-style cream cheese, and now just crave this brand.  And while I am only on my second container, they've earned my customer satisfaction stamp for life!  Kite Hill's cream cheese does have double the sodium of Philadelphia whipped cream cheese, and has three more grams of fat, but it offers two more grams of protein and zero cholesterol.  

Kite Hill also has an amazing yogurt line.  Again, Kite Hill has created a product that is not trying to imitate mainstream yogurt, but stands alone as its own type of yogurt.  It is thick, almost like greek yogurt, is very creamy and it has an addicting flavor.  I simply cannot get enough of it, and I hope they make a large container instead of the single-use cups.  The yogurt does have 15 grams of sugar. or the equivalent of four teaspoons of sugar in each cup, but this equates to only a half teaspoon more than a popular mainstream brand.  Kite Hill yogurt typically has less sodium than other brands and has five grams of protein.  Because of the sugar content you have to be mindful of consuming too much, but this is true of all yogurts.  I have tried raspberry and blueberry, and peach is waiting in the fridge.  

On top of all that, Kite Hill products are all vegan.  They offer cream cheese spreads and yogurt, but they also offer entree-style raviolis, ricotta and artisanal cheese spreads that I have yet to try, because they have not arrived in my area.  However, I am super interested to try all of their products.  As consumers we have the power to influence the food market and improve the welfare of animals in the process.  You really can taste the difference when you purchase a product from a company with this level of experience, ingenuity, care for animals and the environment.  I highly recommend Kite Hill!  

Beast Burger

I am not one to seek out substitute meat products.  I have been meat-free for far too long to care to ever taste it again.  However, when I first decided to stop consuming animals back in the late 90’s, I did try imitation burger patties.  One popular brand is Boca.  A 90's-style Boca burger is something I have unfortunately never forgotten.  

New vegan products take time to make it to our home area, and while on a recent trip to Boulder, we found ourselves in a flagship Whole Foods store after we failed to locate an open vegan restaurant.  Disappointed by that, we were impressed when this Whole Foods had an entire vegan and vegetarian grill station.  I had heard the hype about Beyond Meat last year as well as the science behind this company's products.  On a whim, we decided to share a "burger and fries" for take-out, and ate on the drive to our destination; a vigorous hike in the Flatirons with a relative.  I guess in our hunger-fueled state, the Beyond Burger matched up to traditional fast-food, and it solved our predicament.  In that case it was decent.  The side of fries didn't hurt the experience either.

As a consumer, I am really pleased to see a positive increase in available vegan foods in my local community.  And while out grocery shopping, I recently spotted the latest meat-free burger from Beyond Meat in the frozen foods section.  Their newest product is called the Beast Burger.  It offers 23 grams of protein and comes in a small black cardboard box.  It also costs around five bucks for two patties.  For a few reasons I tossed it in my cart.  I did worry about it being frozen, but then I thought about Beyond Meat’s production videos, and the ethos behind their mission.  In the end, a purchase like this is really a small donation to a company that is trying to make their mark on the food industry.  I had no problem giving their new product a shot as there really was no harm in trying it.  

Overall, Beyond Meat is changing the meat industry by offering a variety of meat alternatives; a whole lineup of products is now available.  By taking the lipids and molecules from pea plant proteins to synthesize a meat-like product, a consumer can gain a familiar meat experience and avoid all of the health issues and associated cruelty from the meat industry.  Critically though, this store-bought frozen version seems to be best suited for people who have an immediate need to switch their diet, for newly minted vegans that simply feel like fitting in at a BBQ with friends, or for the empathic consumer that actually wants to make a bid to get out of consuming animal meat but still likes a "burger".  I personally do not miss this type of burger experience.  But I swear there's no judgement here!  

I ended up prepping a meal to focus on the Beast Burger to see if it would change my mind on meat alternatives.  I made homemade buns earlier in the day, sliced an onion and tomato, washed arugula, and set out a few condiments.  I scrubbed a few organic russet potatoes and heated up the skillet to make fries.  I then added some olive oil to the skillet, took the patties from the black box, cut open the plastic bag they came in and began to fry them.  I was not pleased about the baggy, but I am sure it helps with freshness.  Frying them took about eight minutes, and they sizzled and had a smell that is hard to describe.  Meat-like?  Yes, that could be.  While cooking them, I certainly began to think this was a bad idea because 99% of the food I prepare at home is made from scratch.  

I had given myself half of a burger to test.  My husband thought it was good, though a bit flavorless. He then mentioned how much he enjoys the black bean burgers I frequently make.   You can find that recipe here.  I guess in the end it took us two experiences with Beyond Meat to know that these types of products are not for us.  Perhaps the grill in the Whole Foods scenario made all of the difference?  Grilling them might be part of the equation, but this is as far as we are going!  

B12

 B-12 plays an important part in the formation of red blood cells, the way your brain and metabolism function as well as the overall health of your GI tract.  Before you take my word for it, check with your physician or nutritionist to see what source of B-12 is right for your body and your needs. If you are a vegan you need to find an adequate supplement because there are no reliable food sources to help you gain B-12.  That being said, you can apparently find B-12 in some nutritional yeasts and fortified cereals, but consistency is key as well as determining if the source of the B-12 is actually vegan.  I have found that the mykind B-12 spray by Garden of Life offers a great tasting spray as well as a convenient way to obtain this essential vitamin.  From what I understand the B's need each other to maximize their effectiveness, so locating a vegan multi is key.  The source of B-12 in this product comes from methylcobalamin which is a compound more readily available for the body to utilize.  The spray comes in a raspberry flavor and is pleasant overall.  I choose to store it in the fridge to keep it cool, and to help remind me to take my daily dose.  I paid $13.99 for it directly at the store, but you can buy directly from Garden of Life if you are interested.  I have not experienced side effects while taking a B-12 supplement, but apparently they can occur so do what is best for you.