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Review: Kill Cliff “Tasty”

killcliffWe’ve all seen the rows and rows of energy drink cans in your local convenience store. You’ve got your Monster, your Red Bull and whatever energy drink is trendy that week. Hell, most convenience stores have a cheap version they made and market themselves, there is no lack of artificial energy for sure. You may have even seen a can of Kill Cliff in the same display case, right where it should not be!

Why do I say that it shouldn’t be there? For one, it is not an energy drink! This is what Kill Cliff is…

taken from killcliff.com: Kill Cliff is what happened when a Navy SEAL grew tired of popping pills to recover from his daily workouts. His idea was to replace them with a natural recovery drink – tastier than pills and hopefully better for you too.  The result is a blend designed to be just that including Ginger Root, Green Tea Extract, Milk Thistle, Ginseng Root Powder and an enzyme mix of Amylase, Beta Gluconase, Bromelain, Invertase, Lipase, Protease 4.5, and Serrapeptase as well as B, C and E Vitamins.

Secondly, this stuff is not rife with sugar and empty calories. It was formulated specifically for the company, by experts, to bring to the market a product that helps recovery, not hinders you with unnecessary ingredients. I know it’s huge in the CrossFit world, just google Kill Cliff and you will see tons of boxes either selling it or talking it up.

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Energy Bits and the Health Benefits of Spirulina and Chlorella

I love the power of social media. I’ve been spending more time on Twitter than I have in the past, and was recently followed by Energy Bits (Twitter).

Energy Bits is new to me, so I dug in to learn some more. The company was founded on the idea to bring a product of health and wellness to the masses. After, as they say on their website, they learned that 97% of chronic illnesses were brought on by certain nutritional deficiencies, they wanted to find something that could make health and wellness easy.

They found algae was the answer they were looking for! Yes, that green nasty stuff that you would not think of as valid source of anything nutritional. Their specific algae choices are spirulina and chlorella.

Turns out that countries all over the globe, especially China, have been benefiting from algae (and seaweed) for years.

From Wikipedia : China consumes more than 70 species, including fat choy, a cyanobacterium considered a vegetable; Japan, over 20 species; Ireland, dulse; Chile, cochayuyo. Laver is used to make “laver bread” in Wales where it is known as bara lawr; in Korea, gim; in Japan, nori and aonori. It is also used along the west coast of North America from California to British Columbia, in Hawaii and by the Māori of New Zealand. Sea lettuce and badderlocks are a salad ingredient in Scotland, Ireland, Greenland and Iceland.

Dried spirulina contains about 60% (51–71%) protein. It is a complete protein containing all essential amino acids, though with reduced amounts of methionine, cysteine and lysine when compared to the proteins of meat, eggs and milk. It is, however, superior to typical plant protein, such as that from legumes.

Spirulina’s lipid content is about 7% by weight, and is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), and also provides alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), linoleic acid (LA), stearidonic acid (SDA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA). Spirulina contains vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinamide), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin E. It is also a source of potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium and zinc. Spirulina contains many pigments which may be beneficial and bioavailable, including beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, chlorophyll-a, xanthophyll, echinenone, myxoxanthophyll, canthaxanthin, diatoxanthin, 3′-hydroxyechinenone, beta-cryptoxanthin and oscillaxanthin, plus the phycobiliproteins c-phycocyanin and allophycocyanin.

Chlorella is an attractive potential food source because it is high in protein and other essential nutrients; when dried, it is about 45% protein, 20% fat, 20% carbohydrate, 5% fibre, and 10% minerals and vitamins. Mass-production methods are now being used to cultivate it in large artificial circular ponds. It is also abundant in calories, fat, and vitamins.

After trading some tweets, the person I was speaking with offered to send a sample tin over for me to check out. I received it a few days before the Unleashed OCR Training and figured I would wait until then to give Energy Bits a day in court. So, right before Paul picked me up I popped the recommended amount of bits, 30 of them, and waited. Unlike a pre-workout supplement, there was no “pull me back and watch me go” sensation, but as I started to move about my body felt like ti could sustain the beating it was about to receive.

There were no jitters, there was no crash. I felt like I was just able to keep going. Not like the Energizer Bunny “going and going and going and going…” but a calm and sustained feeling. There were times when I wanted to give up, and I’m attributing this more to sheer will,  but I like to think Energy Bits did help me when I felt like I hit a wall. Ok, I didn’t really hit a wall, I climbed over the darned thing, but that’s besides the point. The key points to me are that it was a clean energy. I didn’t feel bloated afterward, didn’t get gassy (which is always a good thing).

I also used some Energy Bits on a work shift. My job is pretty strenuous, I know that may sound unbelievable as I am a cable guy, but I easily walk a few miles during a shift, climb my ladder (which is 28 feet tall when fully extended) a few times, carry the thing around (it weighs in at 85lbs). Needless to say, I do more than just plug your cable box in or make your internet work. I did not take the recommended 30 bits, but rather broke them up into 3 “doses” throughout the day, which is a ten hour work day. I felt good, again, no crash and no jitters. At the end of the shift I was still full of energy and was not burnt out.

After being impressed with Energy Bits I made a post about them via Facebook and got into an conversation with a friend. She pointed out just how expensive a bag of bits are, they are $115! She mentioned how she could get a half pound of spirulina at a fraction of the cost. So, I e-mailed my contact at Energy Bits and asked him about the price disparity…

In regards to the price – you can find cheaper spirulina, but you risk contamination (due to quality issues with the water in Japan and standards in Chinese production) and the need to take even more. We had someone recently compare our spirulina with cheaper, store bought options (check it out here: http://bit.ly/12LRRTW). The reason ours costs a bit more is due to quality – we have the highest quality control standards and the spirulina is the best of the best. In virtually all cases, these other companies are mass distributors who sell hundreds of products at very low prices. They rely on volume not quality for profits and in almost all cases, they have used inferior strains of algae, inferior growing or production methods, inferior faster drying techniques (that destroy the enzymes and the nutrition) and inferior packaging methods etc.

In a nutshell, you get what you pay.  It will be impossible for the quality of these low price algae to meet the high standards and high quality as ours. As a result you may need to take 4-5 times as much to get the same concentration nutrition that is found in ours. Plus you always run the risk of contaminants being in low quality algae unlike ours which is guaranteed pure. We hold ourselves to be the gold standard. Algae is ALL we do. We are specialists. You always get the best from a specialist. We think people’s health is worth it.

Does this mean I am going to run out and spend that kind of money today? Maybe not. But, if I do have an extra stack of cash laying around at some point and am willing to make a worthy and healthful investement, it will be in some Energy Bits!

ps. Did I mention they are located in Boston? Yeah, reppin’ it New England style!! haha

Bumble Bars!

bumbleI love seeds and nuts so I was pleasantly surprised when I tore into my first Bumble Bar. For lack of a better description, the bar resembles a suet cake. I don’t mean that in a negative way, it’s unfortunately the only way to describe the look of this bar.

As you can imagine, the flavor is very earthy with the seeds and nuts, but there are a variety of flavors one can choose from to “enhance” the Bumble Bar experience. The base of a Bumble Bar is made from sesame seeds and quite a bit of flax. Both the sesame and flax seeds have huge amounts of health benefits. It’s quite amazing actually that something so small could be so beneficial to one’s health. Both have been used for hundreds of years, the sesame seed actually being one of the worlds oldest condiments.

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Food Review: Mama’s Fire Tibetan Hot Sauce & BBQ Sauce

Mama’s Fire Tibetan Hot Sauce and BBQ Sauce
Brought to you by The Sacred Works Project

A while back, after a teaching by Lama Migmar, I drove him back to Boston from the Cape. We hadn’t eaten yet, and when we got to his brother’s house he invited me in for dinner. We had a traditional Tibetan Soup with a light salad. He asked me if I wanted to try some Tibetan sauce (it was more of a paste) and warned me it was hot. I LOVE spicy stuff so I was down. Not only was it great, and a little burny (yeah it’s not a word, I just made it up) but I had to have more.

For months afterward I was trying to find anything that was similar and until I opened the mailbox one day and saw some Mama’s Fire Tibetan Hot Sauce in there, nothing stacked up.

MFTHS (it’s easier to abbreviate this one, lots of typing with this name) is not dead on to what I had with Lama Migmar, but it is comparable in it’s own way. It is very unique in the fact ginger seems to be one of the main ingredients, and while it does not add heat, it most definitely adds some bite. I’ve put it on just about any sort of dish I use hot sauce with. My favorite it is to use it on turkey tacos, the ground turkey absorbs a lot of the flavor and still leaves the heat. When I can, I use this stuff in every dish that calls for hot sauce.

Along with the Tibetan Hot Sauce came a bottle of BBQ Sauce. The first opportunity I had, I marinated some chicken in this stuff, grilled it up and wow, it was fantastic. Some BBQ sauces out there have to much honey, to much smoke and they just lack a good flavor. Mama’s Fire BBQ has a clean, tangy flavor without the smoky aftertaste of a lot of the store bought sauces.

My wife got a skirt steak a few weeks back and let it sit in a crock pot for 8 hours. It melted into a pulled beef heaven. But, I’m not here writing about my wife’s skill at cooking, we’re here to talk about this sauce. I’ve been huge on eating lots of proteins and stuff like that, so one day I took some of the left over skirt steak, microwaved it with some of Mama’s Fire BBQ and poured it over some brown rice. When I was finished a small tear came to my eye, because I realized there was none left. Not only was the beef gone, but so was the BBQ sauce.  🙁

I am a big fan of both of these sauces as you can tell, and I think you ought to give them a try. I still have a bit of the hot sauce left, so I haven’t started shaking from the Mama’s Fire dt’s yet.

Food Review: Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage

Firstly, I’ve been looking for months for this product. I’ve been to the major supermarkets, some of the local natural food stores but ventured a bit farther than normal to one about 30 minutes away. I found the Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage at Cape Cod Natural Foods… found a whole bunch of other stuff as well, I’ll be making the trip back most definitely.

Onto the sausages…

Wow! These have to be the tastiest faux sausages I have eaten to date, hands down. Other companies have tried to match the flavor and consistency of sausage, and though a few have been close, nothing compares to these. It has to be in the ingredients, which are filtered water, wheat protein (vital gluten flour), expeller pressed, high oleic safflower oil, Yukon gold potatoes, non-sulfured Washington state dried apples, yeast extract, onion powder, barley malt extract, fresh garlic, torula yeast, natural liquid smoke flavor, black pepper, spices, rubbed sage. Don’t forget the fact each link has 26g of protein, that’s huge!

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Food Review: Quorn Classic Burger

I recently reviewed the cheeseburger by Quorn, but also wanted to review just the plain old Quorn Classic Burger (like the last post, this link brings you only to the Quorn US site, the product is not up on the US or UK site).

There was not a huge difference taste wise between the cheeseburger and this classic burger, the coloring was a little more natural looking (the cheeseburger had an orange hue to it). The cheeseburger did have a slight “cheesy” flavor to them, but if you were blindfolded and had one of each you might not know the difference.

Either way, they are both great products. Maybe the biggest difference between the two is the classic burger does have a bit more of that smoky flavor. Whether you cook it in a pan, heat it in the oven or grill it, it still tastes like it was solely cooked on the grill.

Texture is very “meaty” so if you’re a new convert, or have been a vegetarian for a while, you will think this is the real deal. Knowing it is not, will make you feel a lot better knowing where it all came from.

Like I said in the last review again, the Quorn brand of burger has far exceeded in taste and flavor to my old favorite veggie burger. I’ve tried many other brands veggie burgers, by far Quorn is my favorite.

Food Review: Quorn Cheese Burgers

Quorn has introduced two new meat alternative products, both of them being burgers. So far I’ve only tried the Quorn Cheese Burgers (was going to add the usual link to the product on the companies site but they don’t have this listed yet, so this goes to their main site). If I were to guess, the regular burger doesn’t taste that much different, but I will review that in another post.

Until now, I’ve loved, lived and sworn by the MorningStar Farms Grillers Prime Veggie Burgers, sorry my friends, you’ve been dethroned. Quorn’s new product are so similar to a regular burger it’s crazy. It’s not like a hand pattied beef burger, more like a frozen burger (that’s the idea right?).

The patty had a good smoky flavor, even when I pan fried it. In a bun with some catsup, mustard and relish even the most discriminating meat eater would be fooled. I didn’t notice a very cheesy flavor to the patty, again maybe that’ll change once I try the non-cheese patty.

I just want to add this bit, because I’ve been e-mailed by a few people about it. I’ve read the “controversy” about people getting sick, or better yet, having allergic reactions to some Quorn products. I even got into a disagreement with a co-worker about it. I understand how the product is made, I know all of it. I’ve read both sides of the argument.

I’d love to say this though, what are you allergic too? Are you allergic to peanuts? What do you do about it? You avoid them correct? Seems simple enough but some people don’t get it. If you are allergic to something, and have a reaction because of it, stay away from it. My son is allergic to shellfish and guess what? We don’t feed it to him.