Monday, February 20, 2017

Trying to cut down on sugar this year? Here are items you need on your shopping list!

The average American consumes 150-170 pounds of refined sugar in one year alone! Shocking, right? Luckily this year many are embracing, Sugar Awareness Week, a 5-day challenge to reduce sugar intake. I welcome you to try the challenge any week you please to take a step in the right direction of your health all year round.

Sugar consumption has recently blown up in the news surrounding the ongoing sugar tax roll-out, lowering children’s sugar intake, and more. With that said, here are some great products below that are sugar-free/low-sugar to help you get started on your year of cutting down sugar! I have tried each of them and will write my thoughts.

AquaBall – You might think that drinks labeled “fruit juice” are a great option for your child, but the truth is some boxed juices can have upwards of 15 grams of sugar per serving, almost the same amount as a can of soda. Instead, try an AquaBall, the healthiest children’s beverage on the market. Zero-sugar, zero-calories and zero preservatives, AquaBall is available in four flavors, Fruit Punch, Orange, Berry Frost and Grape, and features fan favorite characters from Disney’s Frozen, Disney Princesses, Disney Classic Characters and more. AquaBall is the easy solution to finding a beverage that both kids and parents will love.

My Thoughts: I loved the variety of flavors that AquaBall provides. Working with young children as a camp teacher, sometimes all they want is a juice box. Of course they want me to take part, so I also sip on one as well during snack time. However, when I took my first sip of each AquaBall, it was such a surprise that this was not a traditional juice drink. Never did it have an off taste like some low or no sugar drinks do. They tasted just like their flavor, were refreshing, and had the sweet aroma that kids (and yes even adults sometimes) love. Having Disney characters on the front is a sweet treat too! I can see myself and my students enjoying these year round! 

The Little Kernel “Miniature” Popcorn - For a better-for-you snack, try a delicious, gluten-free flavored popcorn, like The Little Kernel. Available in flavors like Truffle Sea Salt and Pink Himalayan Salt, this "miniature" popcorn is popped with 100% pure olive oil, and is also non-GMO, dairy-free, kosher and certified whole grain.

My Thoughts: My little brother is the popcorn expert. He has tried a variety of different brands, so I knew he would be the best judge of this product. He loved it! The kernels are tiny and adorable. Yet, they pack quiet a crunch and are bursting with flavor. Each one is unique in it's own way. The sweet and salty variety was almost gone in a day at my house. It was a hit. Plus, without all the added ingredients in other brands, The Little Kernel is the ideal product to enjoy a classic treat in a healthier way. 

Explore Cuisine Pulse Pastas - White pasta is filled with sugar – swap it for lentil-based pasta. Explore Cuisine’s Pulse Pastas are vegan, organic, gluten-free, high in protein and a good source of fiber—changing the landscape of the pasta in grocery aisles. The Pulse Pasta collection includes: Red Lentil Penne, Green Lentil Penne, Chickpea Fusilli, Red Lentil Spaghetti, Chickpea Spaghetti, and Green Lentil Lasagna Sheets.

My Thoughts: Pasta is one of my household's favorite dinners. We love all kinds from spaghetti to ziti. This was one product I was curious about. I have heard a lot of people raving abut vegetable pastas, so this was something I was excited about, yet on the fence with. I have to say, I was impressed. I tried the Chickpea spaghetti and the Lentil penne. Both of them cooked to a perfect al dente consistency. I can't say they taste exactly like traditional pasta does. The chickpea had a bit of a strong flavor. However, once you allow your pallet to adjust to the difference, it tastes very good. I enjoyed my meals with both. 

Viki’s Granola: Viki's Granola is made with 100% all natural ingredients, gluten-free and baked with love. Unlike other granolas with hard clusters, Viki's has a fresh, soft, chewy texture and no artificial aftertaste. It is also cholesterol free, sodium free, dairy free, and contains ZERO trans-fat. Available in five delicious flavors, Viki's Granola is great to enjoy on its own or mixed in yogurt, and are even available in snack packs to take on-the-go. ($5.49/12 oz. bag $11.99 / (10) 1.5oz bags)

My Thoughts: Granola is one of my favorite treats. I mix it in with greek and low fat yogurt, parfaits, smoothies, and sometimes I even eat it right out of the bag. The downside of a lot of granola on the market is that it is packed with hidden sugars. When I realized that last year while browsing at my local grocery store, I decided I wanted to try something new and healthier. Viki's Granola is by far one of my favorite brands. It is low in sugar while containing no cholesterol, sodium, trans-fat or dairy. Yet, Viki's Granola is high in flavor. Honestly, I could not even taste the difference from traditional granola. I tried the apple cinnamon and original. Both were so delicious. One suggestion I will make though is that if you are mixing the apple cinnamon into yogurt or a smoothie, watch out for the apple pieces. They're very chewy. Once they have a little soak in your treats, they'll be ready to go with a softer consistency.  

Sparkling Ice® essence of sparkling water, which is free of sweeteners, contains zero calories, no artificial colors or preservatives, and delivers a refreshing essence of natural flavors. The new product line, developed in response to consumer demand for healthier carbonated beverage alternatives, offers four skus: a non-flavored sparkling water and three lightly-flavored versions featuring essence of lemon lime, essence of peach and essence of tangerine.

My Thoughts: I was impressed with Sparkling Ice. I'm new to sparkling waters, but have enjoyed drinking flavored waters in the past. Sparkling Ice has quite a few choices of flavors. I tried lemon lime and peach. Lemon lime reminded me a bit of soda actually. It was not an overly abundant flavor, yet it was just enough to be enjoyable. Peach was also a refreshing change up from my usual water routine. If you're looking for a way to enjoy a carbonated beverage without the guilt, I would suggest giving Sparkling Ice a try! 

Gaea Olive Snack Packs: Gaea’s Olive Snack Packs are a low-calorie and 100% natural snack, containing zero additives or preservatives and very low salinity. Packaged in handy re-sealable packages, without liquid, and allowing the convenience of easy snacking, Gaea’s Olive Snack packs are available in three flavors: Pitted Green Olives Marinated with Chili and Black Pepper, Pitted Green Olives Marinated with Lemon and Oregano, and Pitted Kalamata Olives, 100% Natural and Sun Ripened. At only 67 or 150 calories per pack, Gaea’s Olive Snack Packs are a healthy, low-calorie snack to nosh on. $2.49, available at retailers nationwide and

My Thoughts: Never have I seen olive snack packs, but Gaea has their olives packed at the perfect time of pure ripeness to enjoy. My mom adores olives. She could eat them every day. These were such a treat for her, especially since there is no liquid to rummage through. If you love olives, these are for you! 


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