Mastering Public Health: 2010 in Review

WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010 and here’s a summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads “Wow.” Very scientific!

By the numbers

A Boeing 747 400-passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,500 times in 2010. That’s about 11 full 747s.

The busiest day of the year was May 18th with 93 views. The most popular post that day was Review: Theo Chocolate.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were katheats.com, eatliverun.com, j3nn.net, carrotsncake.com, and peasandthankyou.com.

I hope to be able to post more in 2011 — especially the dozens and dozens of cooking/baking shots I have stored away from the past year, including fig & date bars (FatFree Vegan Kitchen), falafel, chocolate-covered pecan bourbon balls (Hannah Kaminsky, c/o VegNews/The New York Times) , quinoa zucchini lasagna and faux NutriGrain bars (PeasAndThankYou.com), apple crisp (Mission Impossible: Pies), and more (all vegan).

Homemade “Pecan Pie Truffles

Blueberry Cobbler “NutriGrain Bars

Quinoa Zucchini Lasagna with Daiya

I also recently purchased: a [“factory reconditioned”] VitaMix, Appetite for Reduction (by Isa Chandra Moskowitz), The Joy of Vegan Baking (by Colleen Patrick-Gordreau — outstanding!), VegNews’ 2 holiday cookbooks, and a VegNews subscription. Inspiration abound! Stay tuned.

I am still reading all your blogs. New favorites in 2010 include Oh She Glows, Healthy Food for Living, Love Veggies and Yoga, Chocolate-Covered Katie, Fooducate, and Peas and Thank You.

New favorite sites for buying health goodies 2010 include iHerb.com (supplements, bars, etc.), NutsOnline.com (dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, grains; OVERNIGHT shipping), Gnosis Chocolate (raw, vegan, organic, soy-free), and Eden (BPA-free beans, whole-grain pastas; nice samplers and gift baskets). Great coupons and deals at OrganicDeals.com, RecycleBank, and MamboSprouts. Check ‘em out.

Stay with me. There will be far more posts in 2011. And find me on Twitter @MasPublicHealth, where I post frequently!

Wheat-Free Peanut Butter Granola Bars

This summer, I paid a visit to the Bob’s fabled Red Mill (highly recommended). Stay with me, a recipe is coming….

As you may see just above , there’s an eating area in one corner of the store, which is also a kitchen/casual cafe serving healthful breakfasts and lunches. Whole wheat breads and buns galore:

Veggie sandwich, pea soup, carrots, multigrain chips, pickle.

Lean corned beef sandwich with multigrain chips, carrots, pickle.

There is also a bakery in the other corner, offering a variety of tempting, natural items. I picked one up: a “Wheat-Free Peanut Butter Granola Bar.” It was a huge square — honey-licious and filled with peanut-buttery-raisin goodness — so ginormous and decadent, I ate it for dinner on the train ride home. No regrets here.

When I got home, I had to find the recipe… and Bob’s Red Mill delivered.

I have made these bars at least three times since, and, each time, I cut the excessive sweetness a little more. Guess what: it doesn’t change a damn thing about how stellar they taste.

I also cut them into three different sizes for unpredictable snacking needs. Did I mention they’re no-bake?

With my adjustments, the full square contains 266 kcal, the halves 133, and the little ‘bites’ 67 — great stats for something so dense and satisfying. I believe the original was in the 400s.

Obligatory extreme close-up. Praise natural light.

These have an extremely chewy, sink-your-teeth-into-it texture.

I gather you want the recipe by now. I used all organic ingredients.

Wheat-Free Peanut Butter Granola Bars

  • c. old-fashioned rolled oats*
  • c. crispy brown rice cereal (i.e. Barbara’s Bakery)
  • ¼ c. raw honey** (i.e. Wholesome Sweeteners)
  • ¼ c. barley malt syrup*
  • ¾ c. raisins
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ c. + 2 T natural smooth peanut butter (preferably after being stirred and before refrigeration for easy pour-ability)
  • c. sunflower seeds
  • 1 t whole raw cane sugar (i.e. Rapunzel; mostly as a binder)
  • *For gluten-free, use certified GF ingredients, including oats, and swap barley malt for brown rice syrup. **To make vegan, omit honey and instead use more syrup, but know that the honey flavor practically makes this.

    Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and add in wet; mush/mash (scientific directions) all together until completely incorporated combined. (I used jumbo raisins that I “ripped up” for ease of congealability (appetizing!)… and more raisins throughout.)

    In an 8×6 dish (i.e. Pyrex glass, below), press down ‘batter’ firmly until all is even. May be knife-sliced immediately to your liking and devoured. Refrigerate and enjoy! Makes a great lunchbox snack. Leftovers may also be frozen.

    Nutrition facts per whole square (big — the largest cut pictured above): 11.33g fat, 2.08 saturated, 61.25g sodium, 34.58g carbohydrate, 3.33g fiber, 17.62g sugar, 7.37g protein. Low sodium, high fiber, high protein. It may not look it, but one whole bar is quite heavy.  Halve these numbers, depending on how/if you divide.

    Feel free to get creative. You can’t mess this up. I’ve switched amounts/types of seeds and have also tried chia for some omega-3s; next I plan to try an almond butter version. Feel free to also take a look at the original Bob’s Red Mill recipe, off of which this was based.

    Vegan Chocolate-Espresso-Raisin Delights

    It’s not often that I create my own recipes, but this winner had to be shared.

    According to testers, this coffee treat tastes “just like something they’d sell at Starbucks” … for a pretty penny, no doubt. Alas, their hypothetical version would neither be vegan nor organic. Plus, these pack fruits and veggies (?!) — (see second-to-last ingredient).

    Caution: Will shatter coffee-lovers’ willpower. You’ve been warned!

    These squares are flourless, wheat-free, and peanut-free; have very little added sugar (depending on chocolate/applesauce); are low sodium; and can be made gluten-free (GF) with GF oats and an easy barley malt swap or soy-free depending on the chocolate. They pack healthy monounsaturated fats + protein (nut butter), complex carbs + fiber (oats), antioxidants (raisins, dark chocolate), and more.

    Vegan Chocolate-Espresso-Raisin Delights

    Ingredients (+ recommendations):

    1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (Country Choice Organic)

    1 c. puffed brown rice crisps (Nature’s Path Whole Grain Brown Crispy Rice cereal)

    1/2 c. dark chocolate chips (Sunspire Organic 65% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate or Dagoba Organic 73% Cacao Chocodrops)

    1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. raisins (Newman’s Own Organics)

    1/4 tsp. salt (Hain Sea Salt)

    1/2 c. (4 oz. or 1 mini-peel-top cup) applesauce (Vermont Organic Cinnamon)

    2 tbsp. barley malt syrup (Eden Foods) (or brown rice syrup or agave nectar)

    1 packet (8g) Amazing Grass Chocolate Green SuperFood Powder (or 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder)

    1 packet Starbucks® Via® Extra-Bold Italian Roast (or 1 tsp. powderlike coffee grounds)

    Makes 12 bars (or 24 two-bites, see below)

    Directions:

    Mix all until well combined. Spoon batter evenly into an 8×8 baking dish as neatly as possible:

    Just before going into the oven.

    Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes. You will be tempted to bake them longer — like I was: went for 25 minutes — but resist because the texture will be a tad too crumbly if over-baked. For less mess, use a piece of parchment paper (with sides extending out the pan) in the bottom of your dish before adding batter and, once baked, lift the entire square out onto a cooling rack. After cooling, cut into 12 even bars. I sliced one row of cut bars in half for quick two-bite minis (see below picture) because these are pretty rich-tasting:

    Cooled n cut.

    These bars were serendipity: in the midst of collecting ingredients for another recipe and cabinet-combing for my missing vanilla extract, I came upon a packet of Starbucks® Via® (the not-so-secret secret ingredient) that was sent as a sample long ago and knew it must be used. Vegan Chocolate-Espresso-Raisin Delights were born.

    AKA “I-Can’t-Believe-They’re-Not-Coffee-Shop-Calorie-Bombs”!

    Nutrition Facts, per serving (1 bar/12): 163 kcal, 7.5g fat (.4g sat.), 77g sodium, 21.5g carb, 3.4g fiber, 9.8g sugar, 4.2g protein. (Halve for two-bites.)

    Oats, raisins, cocoa, brown rice, dark chocolate — can it get more wholesome?

    Prepare for some fancy brownie-meets-cake-meets-crumbly cookie-meets-granola bars.

    Enjoy with a morning cup ‘o joe or with non-dairy milk as dessert and revel in the nutrition… and savings.

    Rich, bold, and decadent-tasting. These won’t last long! Report how it goes.

    Review: Theo Chocolate

    When asked, Theo Chocolate was kind enough to send some of their organic chocolate for review. I specified interest in the dark chocolate for its health benefits and received their Orange, Coffee, and Cherry & Almond bars.

    Too pretty to eat? Think not.

    Cocoa contains antioxidant polyphenols known as flavanoids. Flavonoids are a particular grouping of polyphenols that exist in other nutritious foods, such as berries and tea. These antioxidants protect against “free radicals,” or “unstable, highly reactive forms of oxygen” that wreak havoc on the body and are associated with many ailments + aging. In addition to numerous other causes, free radicals result from pollution, smoking, and sun exposure (The Hershey Company, 2010).

    Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals by pairing up with their out-of-control, unpaired electrons. The higher the cocoa content (ideally, 70%+), the more antioxidants. Dark chocolate fans, rejoice. (Milk has been found to counteract the cocoa’s antioxidant benefits).

    Note: The common stuff found in drug-store candy aisles is generally just baaarely “dark” (i.e. 55%) and usually loaded with dairy (antioxidant-thwarting milk) and soy fillers, “confectioner’s glaze,” artificial flavors and colors, etc. Not exactly healthy, despite marketing claims.

    Enter Theo Chocolate -

    Why Theo? For starters, take a look at these principles:

    Adapted from a screen shot of Theo’s “Our Story” page.

    In addition to the above, Theo is superior to other brands of organic dark chocolate for many reasons:

    1. Theo is soy-free. Most all other organic dark chocolates (Dagoba, Endangered Species, Green & Black’s) contain soy; usually, lecithin. To me, this cheapens them and reduces their purity.
    2. Theo is vegan. Many other organic dark chocolates contain some form of dairy (milk).
    3. Theo is Fair Trade Certified.
    4. Theo is charitable. Proceeds from the “Jane Goodall” line are donated to “benefit cocoa farmers, promote conservation in the tropical rainforest and directly contribute to the Jane Goodall Institute’s efforts to save chimpanzees, develop community-centered conservation efforts and direct youth education programs around the world.”
    5. Theo uses 50% recycled paper wrappers.
    6. Theo is gluten-free.

    70% Dark Chocolate Orange bar

    This bar is from the Classic Collection.

    Don’t mind the crumbs. These were the last pieces and suffered splintering from previous breaks.

    They say: “Dark Chocolate with Orange features rich 70% dark chocolate infused with the essence of fresh oranges.”

    MPH says: This bar has a definite orange-zesty scent. If you were a fan of those tropical-looking chocolate oranges (you know, in the big gaudy orange wrapper with the break-off slices), you’ll love this. The orange taste isn’t at all in-your-face or overdone, but is definitely evident, which — together with the scent — makes a for pretty dreamy experience. The flavor is not bitter, but creamy and satisfying.

    File photo. Credit: Theo

    Nutrition Facts panel + ingredients

    For once, serving size is extremely generous. Eating 1/2 (1.5oz.) of this large bar at once is just too much, especially saturated-fat-wise. (“Save some [richness] for lat-ah, Augustus!”)

    The next bar is a Fantasy Flavor, a more traditionally-sized (2oz.) line -

    70% Dark Chocolate Coffee bar. Again, ignore shards from prior in-wrapper breakage.

    They say: “Dark chocolate and a robust locally-roasted organic, Fair-Trade-Certified™ coffee from Caffé Vita combine to create a full-bodied flavor.”

    MPH says: This is phenomenal. Truly a dark chocolate lover’s dream, this bar is smooth and silky. Coffee lovers will go crazy for its java aroma, full-bodied flavor, and dispersed ground coffee bits that lend a subtle crunchiness. Even to a non-coffee-drinker, this was wildly good.

    Look for this whimsical wrapper. Credit: Theo

    And, finally -

    Cherry & Almond Credit: Theo.

    Though the Cherry & Almond bar was also sent, it was eaten by others in a hurry. Fear not; they left a positive report: yay to the bits of — surprise! — finely-chopped almonds throughout; minor nay to cherries not as plentiful as they might have been. It would likely please the retired Hershey’s-with-Almonds fan, who now clearly has much more refined and health-conscious taste. (Right?)

    So, instead -

    70% Dark Chocolate Mint bar

    Just happened to have this extra Classic Collection bar laying around….

    Can you almost smell it through the screen?

    They say: “Dark Chocolate with Mint features rich 70% dark chocolate with a unique blend of spearmint and peppermint oils to create a surprisingly smooth bright version of this classic combo.”

    MPH says: True to its word, this bar is fabulously minty. I sampled this before reading the above description and noted that the spearmint flavor shines through. To all the recovering Andes Mints (or, dare I say, Junior Mints) addicts, track this down. It is cool and refreshing, and the scent alone is intoxicating.

    Classic Collection. Credit: Theo

    All in all, Theo Chocolate is excellent, with the dark bars especially great for vegans, the lactose intolerant, soy-allergic/avoidant, health-/eco-conscious, or anyone who just digs organic chocolate. Stick to the dark chocolate for the most antioxidants (and deliciousness — OK, minor bias).

    Nicobella Truffles. Credit: NicobellaOrganics.com

    While these are available online, I pick ‘em up at Westerly Natural Market (AKA health food mecca) in New York, but have also seen them at Whole Foods and smaller natural grocers. Theo also makes caramels and other confections, including a partnership with Nicobella, producer of organic, vegan, soy-free, Fair Trade dark chocolate truffles infused with superfood goodness, which MPH has tried pre-blog and strongly endorses. To read all the health benefits, click here.

    Crave more chocolate + coffee + cherry action?

    Behold: Mother’s Day dessert, featuring a warm Vitalicious VitaBrownie topped with Living Harvest Tempt Coffee Biscotti non-dairy/soy-free ice cream (words can’t describe its awesomeness), and cherry sauce graciously sent by Krista’s Kravings. Though fortified, MPH cannot endorse Vitalicious items as “health” foods, but they certainly make immensely tasty, lesser-evil, waistline-friendly treats for special occasions. This was a mom-winner!

    I feel like Willy Wonka. Farewell from chocolateville … *cue creepy “if you want to view paradise….”*

    —–

    References:

    The Hershey Company. (2010). Chocolate products: nutritional information. Retrieved May 16, 2010, from http://www.hersheys.com/nutrition/polyphenols.asp.

    Dark chocolate and a robust locally-roasted organic, Fair-Trade-Certified™ coffee from Caffé Vita combine to create a full-bodied flavor.

    • Dairy Free
    • Gluten Free
    • Soy Free
    • Vegan

    Review: Nature’s Path Chewy Granola Bars

    Nature’s Path recently redesigned the packaging for their Chewy Granola Bar line, which now comes in several flavors: “Berry Strawberry,” “Chococonut,” “Lotta’ Apricotta,” “MMMaple Pecan,” “Peanut Buddy,” “Peanut Choco,” “Pumpkin-N-Spice,” and “Sunny Hemp.” I received the three bold-ed flavors for consideration:

    Do not underestimate the difficulty of staging cardboard boxes.

    The company’s effort to shrink its packaging to reduce waste is commendable. They say: “the new box is 36% smaller than a standard 6.2oz box.” I appreciate that this may be a marketing risk, as the smaller box may be perceived by some consumers as their receiving less for the money. However, Nature’s Path has a reputation as an environmentally-conscious company with strong principles.

    First up -

    Pumpkin-N-Spice reverse

    Nutrition facts: This 35g bar contains 140 kcals, only .5g saturated fat, a scant 80g sodium, 65mg potassium, 2g fiber, 10g sugar, and 3g protein. It also contains 2% of daily needs for calcium and 8% for iron. (Of course, these %s are based on a 2,000 calorie/day diet — as mandated by FDA packaging requirements — though this daily intake is certainly not appropriate for everyone!)

    Ingredients: “Granola* (rolled oats*, evaporated cane juice*, soy oil*), tapioca syrup*, brown rice flour*, pumpkin seeds* (pumpkin seeds*, salt), invert cane syrup*, flaxseeds*, acacia gum*, soy oil*, evaporated cane juice*, sea salt, spice*, molasses*. *Organic. Contains soy. Produced in a facility that uses dairy, peanuts, and tree nuts.”

    This flavor is not intended to taste like pumpkin (i.e. puree), but instead has green pumpkin seeds (AKA pepitas) scattered throughout the bar. The bar has a nice chew, with the familiar gooeyness of a marshmallow rice treat, so one can definitely see why it would be a hit with kids. The spice is tasty but not strong, which young snackers might also appreciate; the size is also appropriate for children. I like the lack of dairy here but wish soy oil would have been substituted by another out of sensitivity to those allergic. Overall, it made a tasty, unique morning snack.

    Nutrition Facts: This 35g bar contains 150 kcals, 1.5g saturated fat, 105mg sodium, 2g fiber, 10g sugar, and 2g protein, with 2% DV Calcium and 4% DV iron. The oats contribute to its 10g whole grains and the flax seeds contribute to its omega-3 content.

    Ingredients: “Granola* (rolled oats*, evaporated cane juice*, soy oil*), tapioca syrup*, pecans*, brown rice flour*, maple icing* (evaporated cane juice*, palm kernel oil* and/or cocoa butter*, cultured buttermilk powder* (skim milk*, starter culture), flavor*, non-fat dried milk*, citric acid, caramel color*, natural maple flavor, sea salt, soy lecithin*, annatto extract*, tapioca starch*), invert cane syrup*, dried coconut*, flaxseeds*, acacia gum*, soy oil*, sea salt, evaporated cane juice*, maple syrup*, natural maple flavor, molasses*. *Organic. Contains dairy, tree nuts and soy.”

    I didn’t get a chance to sample this flavor, but my mom took one of these to work. She reports: “It was delicious! Soft and sweet and maple-y gooey. Very fresh.” Disclosure: my mother is an admitted sugar fanatic.

    Looking at the ingredients, though, the overwhelming sweetness of evaporated cane juice in the granola + tapioca syrup + evaporated cane juice in the maple icing + invert cane syrup + dried coconut + evaporated cane juice + maple syrup + natural maple flavor + molasses is somewhat unsettling — but explains why she liked it so much. This would probably make a nice dessert and, again, would likely be a kid- (or sugarholic-adult-) favorite.

    Nutrition Facts: This 35g bar contains 140 kcals, 1.5g saturated fat, 70mg sodium, 2g fiber, 12g sugar, and 2g protein, with 2% DV Calcium and 4% DV iron. The oats contribute to its 9g whole grains and the flax seeds contribute to its omega-3 content.

    Ingredients: Granola* (rolled oats*, evaporated cane juice*, soy oil*), tapioca syrup*, dried apricot* (apricots*, rice flour*), almonds*, brown rice flour*, yogurt icing* (evaporated cane juice*, palm kernel oil* and/or cocoa butter*, cultured buttermilk powder* (skim milk*, starter culture), cultured non-fat dried milk* (skim milk*, starter culture), natural flavor, soy lecithin*, sea salt, citric acid, tapioca starch*), invert cane syrup*, dried coconut*, acacia gum*, soy oil*, sea salt, evaporated cane juice*, natural flavor, molasses*, citric acid. *Organic. Contains dairy, soy, tree nuts. Produced in a facility that uses peanuts.

    In very rare exception to my dairy avoidance, I broke of pieces of the Lotta’ Apricotta for dessert. This had a much more subtle apricot scent and taste than I expected, but it was good. The frosting lent a creamy touch, but put things over the top because I felt the bar itself was a tiny bit too sweet. Again, the bar was nicely chewy/crispy (in a good way) and was so fresh that it kept wanting to break apart. I can also see this being a hit with kids. The pieces of fruit made this bar ‘prettier’ than the Pumpkin-N-Spice, but that’s probably not totally relevant to include in an evaluation….

    This made a fun evening snack. Suggestions: a bit less sugar in the base and more fruity apricot flavor. Slightly more sodium may also help balance the sweetness.

    Thank you to Nature’s Path for the opportunity to review these products. My favorite was the Pumpkin-N-Spice for its hint ‘o spice and dairy-free-ness (lack of frosting).

    *Kudos to their lack of soy protein isolate/concentrate (“soy protein crisps”), which is made via dangerous hexane rinse and overabundant in these kinds of bars.

    *Pairing this with something like whole-wheat crackers or pretzels + nut butter or hummus would increase satiety.

    Side tip: try Nature’s Path organic waffles and oatmeal. Support a responsible organic company. (Their Buckwheat Wildberry gluten-free waffles were the stars of Mother’s Day brunch!)

    Follow Me on Twitter

    First, let me preface by saying that finals are in full swing here, so a “real,” juicy post must wait until May. There is a constant stream in my mind of things I’d like to discuss here; it’s unfortunate that school just as constantly gets in the way.

    It will be worth the wait. There are many product reviews coming your way, including Sunshine Burger, Newman’s Own Organic, and Theo Chocolate.

    Teaser: Did you think I’d kid?

    Second,  let me say that I had always been one to scoff at “Twitter” ( use of quotes to emphasize perceived absurdity). In fact, I once came across a cool–though oddly-capitalized–Venn diagram that summarized my feelings about Twitter: what could possibly be useful or interesting about a 140-character blurb? (Well, often, nothing, I’ve learned.)

    That said, since beginning Mastering Public Health, there have been a number of times where I haven’t had time to create a full post but still did have something relevant to share with you all.

    ...That's me!

    So, if you’re a fan, please follow me on Twitter at @MasPublicHealth, where I post under this nerdy but important-looking avatar and spend half my time attempting to condense my verbosity into an allowable number of letters.

    I pride myself on rarely, if ever, abusing my followers with personal/non-blog-related content. For the past two months, I’ve shared health news, discounts + coupon codes, food finds, giveaways, new products, etc., that I hope to be able to blog about more fully ASAP. Just don’t expect me to use any derivation of the word “tweet” any time soon.

    Lastly, thank you all so much for your comments and support. It’s so nice to read each and every one of your different health interests and experiences. Keep the enthusiasm coming!

    More news and articles to come. Until then, enjoy this awesome time of year.

    Sidewalk by Candle 79 in NYC — review to follow.

    PS- Snag 20% off any Eden Foods gift basket until 5/9 with the checkout code “MOTHER” — they’re a fantastic, principled organic company and users of the only BPA-free cans on the market.

    Review: Rudi’s Organic Bakery

    Having received this package from Rudi’s Organic Bakery a few weeks ago, I have been enjoying the contents since.

    They sent along their Honey Sweet Whole Wheat Bread, Cinnamon Raisin Bread, Spelt Ancient Grain Bread, and Multigrain with Flax English Muffins.

    Overall, the ingredients are simple and wholesome and the nutrition facts are impressive:

    Honey Sweet Whole Wheat Bread

    Cinnamon Raisin Bread

    Spelt Ancient Grain Bread

    Multigrain with Flax English Muffins

    I was especially glad to see that none of these breads contain soy. All too often, I see other organic breads whose ingredients include soy lecithin or soybean oil, which, in my eyes, is a cheap filler. Today’s consumers are exposed to enough soy; we don’t need it in our breads! Thankfully, these Rudi’s products omit this in favor of better-quality oils, such as sunflower and safflower.

    Each of these products contains 4-5g protein and 2-3g fiber per serving, which are traits one should always look for when evaluating an item’s potential staying-power. Double those numbers if you’ll be eating two slices, open-faced or sandwich-style. These breads are also low in sugar (even the Cinnamon Raisin Bread, for its variety: most of the sugar is from the raisins, apparent by its top spot in the ingredient list) and also contain no saturated- or trans-fats. Each product also contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals.

    The Spelt Ancient Grain Bread was a real hit in my house. Its seedy, chewy texture – reminiscent of Panera Bread’s Artisan Multigrain Bread — and hearty, nutty flavor was perfect for breakfast with spreads like Earth Balance, Naturally Nutty peanut or almond butter, Crofter’s fruit preserves, or even a savory spin, as enjoyed by my dad, such as whitefish or smoked salmon salad. This versatile bread is also firm and dense enough for lunch sandwiches that you can really sink your teeth into.

    A hearty, satisfying slice… in sub-par lighting

    Rudi’s Organic Multigrain with Flax English Muffins were also a favorite. Although I have purchased the Whole Grain Wheat variety before, this flavor was a nice change.

    Extreme-close up: true to claim, flax seeds and grains throughout

    These muffins also have a chewy texture, but are a bit lighter than the Spelt bread. English-Muffin-authenticity is reached by the flour-dusted exterior and the multigrain flavor is very apparent, but without a topping (which most everyone would opt for anyway), these are a tiny bit on the dry side, as compared to their Whole Grain Wheat variety that I normally buy. Nonetheless, they were tasty and satisfying at breakfast — with the abovesaid toppings or done-up “Egg McMuffin”-style, as I did — and make for a convenient packed lunch or veggie burger dinner bun. They’re also great for make-your-own-mini-pizzas: just add organic sauce and cheese (real or vegan) and pop it in the toaster!

    Angle #2: unnecessary, but fun

    Cinnamon Raisin Bread

    I have not yet gotten to try the Honey Sweet Whole Wheat Bread or Cinnamon Raisin Bread (half of each is frozen for later), but, judging by how my family has been working on these, they must be great. My brother seems to be an especially big fan of the Cinnamon Raisin Bread + cream cheese combination.

    I feel that Rudi’s Organic Bakery is a company whose products are high-quality, wholesome, nutritious, and versatile. These breads also freeze and unfreeze excellently, tasting just as fresh and soft afterward. Though I do sometimes wish whole-wheat flour was the first ingredient more often, I do understand that this may cause issues with taste and texture. I look forward to more from Rudi’s soon, including their newly-announced gluten-free line.

    *Full disclosure: These items were received at no cost; no monetary reimbursement was received for this review.