Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hummus that will change your life and Giveaway #YOSA

We play favorites at Foodtrainers. On Monday we talked favorite frozen treats. We have our favorite yogurt, favorite protein powder, favorite tuna and favorite fitness gizmo. I’m sorry if you’ve heard about these a little too much but when I find the best in a certain category, I want to spread the word.  Speaking of spreads (dorky transition) up to now, I had not been wowed when it came to dips. The closest I came were these cashew-based creations but they’re local and hard to find. Then I was told about Hope Hummus.

What initially stood out about this hummus are the flavors. I first tried Thai Coconut Curry (heaven) and moved on to Spicy Avocado (also amazing). We’re currently loving the Sriracha flavor, which is also my salad dressing when I eat lunch at work. Oh and Hope is organic, non-GMO, gluten free and kosher. How’s this for a company statement “take a look at our ingredient labels, we have nothing to hide, and we are proud of what we put in our products.”
We recently received this via twitter:
I tried the Hope Sriracha hummus and love it! I just wanted to make sure the chocolate was not a dangerous variation #YOSA.” So first, in case you missed it Hope makes 2 chickpea-based spreads in chocolate flavors. We flipped over the dark chocolate coconut variety.

If you’re comparing these flavors to other hummus, yes there is sugar in these flavors. However, if you’re looking at is as a chocolate laced with garbanzos? We’re on board. A tablespoon on gluten free crackers or simply on a spoon is delicious and nutritious too. So in our “yay” or “step away” YOSA criteria, we’re going with “YAY” all the way. Sorry for the rhymes, unintentional I promise.

Hope is giving 5 lucky readers coupons for their products, which can be fount at Whole Foods Markets as well as Westerly Market and Fairway in NYC. In order to be eligible:

  1. comment below and tell us your favorite dip as well as what you like to dip in it.
  2. And tweet @Foodtrainers has a @hopehummus #giveaway retweet to “spread” the word. #YOSA

Just like people, we seek out companies with good values, Hope Hummus says,  "we want our dips and spreads to be a reason for people to stop and gather, share life, and spread good things." Agreed. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Favorite Frozen Treats 2014 Edition

If you’re familiar with Foodtrainers you know that it’s not enough for us to look at a label and tell you a food is “healthy”. We need to know what it tastes like. Every summer we pick a day for our Annual Ice Cream Test. There are many great flavors and brands we’ve tried in the past and we really like to bring you new ideas. First, we put the word out to our Twitter, Facebook and Insta friends asking for suggestions. Next, we scheduled an ice cream meeting to be sure we have scoured the city for the best pints, pops and shops. We narrowed down our list and devised a schedule for ice cream acquisition. The contenders were assembled on my desk. And of course we have secret ballots. Each flavor is rated on a scale of 1 to 10 cones. We didn’t share our conclusions until every flavor had been tasted.

For the most part, we agreed. Some flavors tasted “vegany”. Others were “too sweet” or even “too salty.” We fell in love with the texture of the stringy goat’s milk ice cream from Lezzetli. In the end there were three frozen standouts.

Culture Plain (9 cones)
I’m not typically a froyo fan. Part of it has to do with the cease and desist letter I received from a prominent company when I blogged about portion sizes. The other part is that, as I said earlier, if healthy involves sacrificing taste I’m out. Culture has great flavors but the original was our favorite. Culture takes both their ingredients and probiotics seriously and so do we. “There are absolutely no preservatives or additives.” Their product is made onsite from strained yogurt. They have both a Manhattan and Brooklyn locations. We found their kiddie size perfect.

Van Leeuwan Artisan Ice Cream Earl Grey (8 cones) 
This Earl Grey Van Leeuwan flavor elicited wows from us although, if I’m being hones,t our intern did say, “I thought it was weird” which is probably what we liked. It is unique and smoky and not overly sweet. And this is real deal ice cream but it’s made with organic ingredients. This is a treat we endorse and will probably indulge in again before the summer ends. 

Jolly Llama Banana Coconut (8 cones) 
We know our readers hail from many places outside NYC. So it would be pretty rude to make this all NY-centric.  And it just so happens Jolly Llama topped our taste test.These nouveau push pops are 80 to 100 calories, gluten free, dairy free and non-GMO and kosher. Though they are called sorbet pops we tried the banana coconut flavor which, thanks to the coconut, tasted creamy and indulgent.

What's your favorite frozen treat? Have you tried any of our winners? Which would you want to try?

*certain contenders didn't make our final list because of ingredients or sweeteners we don't endorse. For more info on what to avoid in allegedly healthy treats you can read this.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Drink your way to success?

Yesterday, a link to this story was sent my way.  The premise of the article is that in order for women to succeed in business they need to drink up. The piece was sent my way with the commentary “so sad that women feel they need to do this.” It is. It’s not as sad as people sleeping their way to the top but I’ve written before about bossy bosses. And so whether it’s “pizza for the team”, a golf outing (maybe drinks trump this option) or whisky this frat-style hazing is alive and “unwell” in corporate America. 

I first heard about this mandatory serious drinking from a client based in Asia. When I’d ask how many drinks we could plan on when she was out for work she’d say “a lot”.  When I’d clarify, “so four, five?” “She’d say “much more.” In many situations it’s not just that you must participate but that you have to participate with gusto. As the article said, “a couple Chardonnays over a three hour period isn’t going to cut it” or so it seems. I don't know what's worse the expectation that you have to overindulge or employees taking apparent pride in their ability to do so.

Peer pressure aside, I find it interesting that what you choose to drink makes a statement. “Drink things typically associated with having a penis. Goodbye Skinny Girl margarita, hello Don Julio.  As long as we’re being crass, I am a fan of these so-called “penis” drinks. I love a scotch or mezcal on the rocks but it does elicit comments. As long as we’re being crass, since when does having a vagina obligate you to order a Cosmo? If you've read LBT you know that these "dude drinks" are the way to go, of course I suggest one a night. It's a good thing I own my own business.

Maybe I’m biased but I don’t think you need to down a pizza, a dozen shots or sink a hole in 1 in order to succeed. But you may need to take a piece of pizza, order a stiff drink and go to the golf outing. I’m all for doing the best job you can but that has its limits.
What do you think of the expectation that you have to go “shot for shot” in order to succeed? Have you felt pressured, as an adult, to eat or drink something at work or socially? How do you handle it?

Monday, July 21, 2014

To count or not to count?

If life can be divided into those who count and those who do not, I am a dedicated counter. I love my Fitbit, jump on the scale every morning (not more than that, promise) and prefer Flywheel, the spin studio that gives you stats, versus Soul. So, it only makes sense given my inclination to count that running would involve a state of the art GPS watch providing me with pace, distance and everything else one would like to know about a workout.

However, you may recall I was burned by my Garmin GPS watch. In a marathon in a semi-remote location, my Garmin didn’t get signal. It wasn’t a great race for a number of reasons but any normal person would go to plan B and run based on perceived exertion but I was lost. I had relinquished any sense of what a certain pace felt like as I relied on my ex-friend Garmin to tell me if I needed to speed up or slow down. I also lost a lot of the pleasure that comes from running. I always wanted to be one of those people who ran a race and yet stopped to take photos but thought, “how are they sacrificing those precious minutes?” As if I were an Olympian and minutes made any difference.

This summer I look a different approach. Marc and I are signed up for a race that basically involves running up and down a mountain; one doesn’t do this type of terrain for time. And in a major departure, I’ve been running without a watch. I’ll go out for an hour or two hours without concerning myself about pace or exact distance.

When you’re not fixated on your watch you start to look around

In the course of my training I happened to  receive a Timex watch in the mail as a thank you or a project we participated in. I use it just as a simple stopwatch. I don’t stop it when I break for water or any of the other silly games I used to play. Just start and stop.

I am by no means defecting into the no-count camp. I’m wearing my Fitbit as I type this and will get on the scale this morning. I tell clients to take a break from weighing themselves when they are scale prisoners. When numbers cause you to be in a bad mood or zap pleasure from an activity or day, it’s time to make a change. Now, I need to get over carrying my phone to take pictures as I run…

Are you a counter or a non-counter? What do you count? Has your counting ever crossed the line? Do you run with a watch?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

YOSA supplement edition and the new “it” ingredient

We’re loving the #YOSA questions you’ve tweeted and emailed to us.
#YOSA is a feature we launched last week that stands for “yay or step away”. Carolyn is going to tackle a couple of supplements we were asked about.

We are not shy about our supplement obsessions. Eboost, probiotics, safslim. vitamin D, Sibu, evening primrose oil… you name it we’ll typically try it. But we have our limits of course. Since we’ve started YOSA-ing, my cousin asked me about a supplement making the rounds at her school. Actually, her friends were referring to it as a FRUIT and not a supplement, which allegedly helps with quick weight loss.
It’s called Garcinia Cambogia.. yay or step away?

Garcinia is derived from tamarind, an Indonesian fruit commonly used in Asian cuisine. The active compound in it is hydroxycitric acid (HCA), and some evidence (we’re talking petri dish-evidence) shows it decreases appetite and prevents your body from storing food as fat. Sounds fabulous but  when you look at the research, results are totally inconsistent. In some studies the group taking garcinia lost less weight. But most importantly, high doses of Garcinia extract caused toxicity and TESTICULAR ATROPHY in mice. Um, whether you have testicles or not, OW. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Okay, maybe a few people, but anyway...

Garcinia was  an ingredient in the infamous speedy supplement Hydroxycut that landed many people in the hospital with liver issues. So my conclusion on this yay or step away is STEP AWAY!
**side note, this doesn’t mean avoid tamarind, which actually has lots of nutrition benefits and does not have HCA in crazy high doses.

YOSA #2: We received this query from a client… “For some reason I get “backed up” during the summer…  What do you think of this Intestinal Movement supplement? #YOSA?

First things first, the ingredient list:
Proprietary Blend: Rhubarb Root, Peppermint Leaf, Wildcrafted Nopal Cactus, Ginger Root, Wasabi, Thyme Leaf, Oregano Leaf, Whole Leaf Aloe Ferox (Cape Aloe), Enzymes (Protease, Amylase, Cellulase, Lipase)
We were especially intrigued by rhubarb and cactus.  Rhubarb is one of the most widely used herbs in Chinese medicine and can act as a mild  or “gentle” laxative. Sounds lovely, right? So this (plus aloe, another little helper) should help you go without leaving you racing for the bathroom like violent laxatives. (As our snack queen says, VOM).

Another ingredient is nopal cactus aka prickly pear.  We spotted  in many forms (juice, chews etc.) all over the Fancy Food Show a few weeks ago. Nopal has many benefits it’s used to balance blood sugar, reduce inflammation and it has slight laxative properties. When were extra intrigued because of a particular study done at Tulane University (we’re proud alumni, what can we say) on its hangover prevention benefits.

So in this Health Force Intestinal Movement edition of yay or step away… a supplement that helps you “go” and prevents hangovers? we vote a resounding YAY…. For 1-2 weeks max then take a break!
Any #YOSA questions for us? Any supplements you've been hearing a lot about? Do you feel digestion is any different in the summer? And have you been hearing about nopal?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Look, Bethenny is the size of a four year old

I confess.  When I have to run out and walk the dog I’ll grab whatever is closest to the door. The results aren’t pretty. I may be in my husband’s flip flops or my 12 year olds sweatshirt. Despite the fact that I am the one leaving the house at the undesirable hour or in inclement weather, nobody in the family likes me wearing their stuff. “Why did you have to wear my sweatshirt mom?” I wanted to put that out there, to be fair, after I heard that Bethenny Frankel Instagrammed a photo of herself in her 4 year olds pajamas. As if the unfortunate outfit wasn’t enough the caption read “ think we’re ready to share clothes yet?”
I am open minded, I have no issue with the word skinny or skinniness. I even have fond memories of an impressive hello kitty collection (in second grade) but to answer Bethenny’s rhetorical and ridiculous question. No. Bethenny it’s not ok to share clothing with a pre-k child. And even when your child is 10 or 12 or 16 it is usually the child that borrows from the parent….unless you’re going to walk the dog. Wait, Bethenny you have a dog. Maybe you can try on her coat and post a picture for us to see.
What do you think about this? Dress up or disaster?