Alvarado St. Barkery

While non-vegans have the impression that being vegan means restricting oneself from most foods, in fact it is the exact opposite. The world of foods only increases as ones mind in health and a cruelty-free life begins. I used to be quite picky before I was a vegetarian, but as a vegan I am much more open to trying new fruits, vegetables, grains, and superfoods. One of my favorite foods has always been bread, but not the most nutritious ones in the past. When I finally tried avocado last year and discovered that I love them, I had it on bread as I saw so many of my fellow vegans on instagram enjoying it. From then on, it has been a staple snack/meal. I have come to need a package of bread as long as I have a few avocados on hand. Once I learned how much healthier/ nutritious sprouted ingredients are, I leaned to buying from those brands that use more high quality ingredients.

I have purchased from Alvarado St. Bakery in the past and greatly enjoyed their sprouted wheat onion poppyseed. Bagels and cream cheese used to be something I ate often before I was vegan; now I much more prefer avocado as a spread or hummus if I happen to have some. I hope to soon enjoy those bagels again since they are a favorite of mine. Instead, I was very happy to purchase a free bag of the sprouted wheat bread of which I have had before. While there are several products from this company that aren’t vegan-friendly, several of the bread, 3 bagel flavors, and their tortillas are vegan-friendly.

My healthy obsession with avocado toast was easily and perfectly satisfied with the whole wheat bread. The 5 grams of protein for each slice makes this breakfast a great way to ensure I am getting protein early in the morning. Additionally, I always add hemp seeds, a little pink Himalayan seas salt, and sometimes onion/garlic powder for more flavor. This meal never gets old and can be eaten for any time of the day. The bread is hearty, filling, and most importantly healthy. When I get the chance, I will surely try out the other vegan breads as well.

As more media has been expressed in the news today about food safety and the controversy on gmo foods, it is very essential that being a consumer you are aware of what you are buying and thus putting in your body. As you learn more about healthy foods, nutrition, and how food is made, being knowledgeable about the companies you buy from is important and necessary. In regards to Alvarado, they do not use any gmo ingredients which is a plus when consuming a product with corn and soy-based lecithin. I am rest assured when purchasing from this company that I am doing what is right for my body rather than eating white bread that has no nutritional value at all.

I hope to see Alvarado St. Bakery grow and produce more healthy vegan breads. For more information, go to http://alvaradostreetbakery.com/index.php and see where you can buy their bread.

 

 

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BumbleBar

A few weeks back I saw BumbleBar post one of their products on Facebook. I have previously bought and tried a few of their flavors, but I was interested in others as well. To my liking, a very kind individual from the company sent me the 6 flavors that I requested to review. It didn’t take me long to dig into the bars once they arrived at my doorstep. These bars were used for snack at home, school, and as part of my breakfast.  These bars each contain sesame seeds which is the overall base of each bar. This detail makes them different than most vegan bars. I chose the apricot, pineapple, chocolate mint, hazelnut, almond, and cherry flavors. The design of the packaging is adorable, well the healthful facts behind the company are quite perfect.

My favorite amongst the 6 was the pineapple. The coconut in the bar overpowered the pineapple, but there was still a hint of the tropical, sweet taste of pineapple. The chocolate mint tasted like a dark chocolate mint bar that can be replaced as a dessert rather than dairy chocolate. As well, a dessert type bar was the cherry chocolate that had a small cherry in it for flavor, but overall was a tasty treat. Had there been more cherries in it, I would have enjoyed it more. As for the chai almond and hazelnut were similar tasting to me; almond and hazelnut lovers would prefer this flavor as the nut in each were the prevailing taste with spices added for sweetness. Lastly was the apricot bar that had a mix of apricot and coconut. Dried fruit and coconut are a wonderful pairing for vegan bars, if I do say so myself.

While these bars are smaller than other vegan bars, they each have a fair amount of protein and a number of other essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin A, and folate. There are still a few flavors that I have had to try, but I probably will in the near future.

To learn more about the mission behind BumbleBar and the products that they offer, check out their site. http://www.bumblebar.com

Red Wall Kitchen

Browsing my local farmer’s market this past summer, I happily found out about Red Wall Kitchen. I was quite interested in trying out their food based upon the ingredients. Their foods are nutrient dense, dairy-free, egg free, gluten free, and naturally sweetened. After speaking with Emily and her mother, Nancy, I came home from the market with the chocolate oat and cinnamon donut and the quinoa cacao breakfast block. While I intended for my mom to have the donuts at least, I ended up eating all three myself.

While the market is still some months away, I was intrigued to talk to and learn more about the company from Emily. It was so great to receive a response from her and have the opportunity to email about the treats they produce. How nice of her then to deliver to me a great helping of their products to my home. Especially after being sick, this was such a mood lifter. I of course talked to Emily and her mother and told them that I would be sharing at least some of the treats with my mother and boyfriend. As for what I sampled out of the three types of treats, I had the cinnamon donut, the rest of the ginger molasses that my mom didn’t finish, all of the muffin bites, and two of the three of the quinoa breakfast blocks. So basically I had it all, lol, besides the chocolate donut. My boyfriend claimed that donut after I showed him the picture I took of it on my instagram page. Not the best taste tester he was since I received no response on the test, but I can vouch that it tastes delicious from having it once before.

I have a huge sweet tooth, so these goodies didn’t not last long in my house at all. The cinnamon donut was pretty much perfect; sweet and satisifying. Any cinnamon fan would love this and not even know that it is healthy too. As for the ginger donut, seeing that my mom didn’t finish it herself, I knew it was up for grabs. Not being a ginger fan myself, the spiciness was a little much for me, regardless I finished it up. The muffin bites all looked so tasty, thus were gone in a flash by me. The berry muffin bite simply tasted like a vegan homemade berry muffin; sweet, light, and fruity. As for the pumpkin muffin, it tasted like the vegan pumpkin bread I have made in the past. Lastly of the muffin bites, was the coconut banana muffin, which was by far my favorite of the three. The combination of fresh banana and coconut was quite a treat. As a banana fan, I could have one of these every day for sure. The quinoa breakfast blocks are a hearty, healthy, breakfast option. I carrot cake one tasted mostly of carrot, applesauce, and nutmeg. It was crunchy, rich, and very filling. The cocoa block was sweet, crunchy, and quite moist. The taste of applesauce and cocoa was evident with bites of zucchini and quinoa flakes. Both options are satisfying enough to be a filling breakfast.

In regards of the company itself, Emily informed me via email:

Red Wall Kitchen is family run, including my mother, father, husband and myself. It all started when I began to notice most of our daily foods are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other processed ingredients. It was hard to find “real” food. I started to cook more and more from scratch. I was constantly looking at how to pack in as many nutrients and whole foods to make it as healthy as possible. My own journey to becoming healthier made me want to create an avenue to open up others to the idea of “clean” food.

I had been a graphic designer in the advertising industry for the past 8 yrs. I started to feel unfulfilled. I knew that I wanted to make some sort of change but wasn’t sure what that was. Then I started to noticed I was constantly being side tracked at work by recipes and food blogs. All I wanted to do was be home in the kitchen cooking and trying out new recipes….it kind of became a little bit of an addiction! I decided to take the leap and quit my job and start culinary school. From there I earned the industry experience I was looking for and met great friends that gave me the push I needed to try selling my goods at local farmers markets. My mother, Nancy, had just retired early from being a shop manager at the Girl Scout Council so I immediately snagged her up and her management/accountant skills and we formed our partnership. We tested out products to see what sort of feedback we would get at the markets and it was good! There seemed to be many customers out there that were looking for healthy options and/or allergen friendly products. We decided to then turn it into a full fledge business last year and see where the path takes us.

Personally speaking with Emily was a such a great experience and I can’t wait to see what her and her family will have new for this summer’s farmer’s market. They currently sell at Elmhurst Farmers Market and Schaumburg Farmer Market. As well, they have free pick up at a Elk Grove Location and can deliver to select Chicagoland areas. Those living in areas of which they sell, check out Red Wall Kitchen; you will not be disappointed at all.

http://redwallkitchen.com/  https://www.facebook.com/redwallkitchen