Make A Difference


I’m a big snacker.  I love munching on something when I’m studying and while I usually lean toward veggies and fruit every couple of weeks I start craving something salty (ladies?) but I don’t want to break the calorie bank or eat a lot of junk (hydrogenated oil and such).

Medora Snacks is a company is run by two women, not just any women but mothers.  As a big fan of strong women running successful businesses (hey Mommy!), I want to support them.  Linda is a former candy distributer who got interested in healthier ways to snack- you can thank her for helping make Soy Crisps so popular.  Lu is a grandmother and with her love for cooking and baking is passionate about the mission of healthy snacks put forth by the company.

The company has a variety of snack- Corners which are popped corn tortillas, Pogos which a potato cheese sticks, Puccis which are pizza flavored snacks and Sotos which are multi-grain snacks.

Lu was kind enough to send me a few samples to try.

Corners

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*Sea Salt* Ingredients: Yellow Corn, Sunflower Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sea Salt

*Zesty Ranch* Ingredients: Yellow Corn, Seasoning (buttermilk, sea salt, maltodextrin, onion powder, tomato powder, autolyzed yeast, garlic powder, dehydrated can juice, vinegar powder (white distilled vinegar, maltodextrin), natural flavors (paprika, parsley, extractives of turmeric, basil, spices), citric acid, lactic acid, malic acid), Sunflower Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I love tortilla chips.  In fact, they’re one of my favorite salty snacks.  These are great because they’re not too salty and have all the flavor that I love but are light and airy.  I loved the sea salt flavor but the zesty ranch was awesome.  Ranch is one of my favorite flavors!

Puccis

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*Classic* Ingredients: Pizza Crust (Wheat Flour, Corn Meal, Salt, Baking Soda, Toasted Bread Flavor), Water, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese (Cheese (Part-skim Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes], Whey, Buttermilk Solids, Sodium Phosphate, Lactic Acid), Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pizza Seasoning (Tomato Powder, Cheddar Cheese ((Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes}, Whey, Buttermilk, Salt, Disodium Phosphate], Onion Powder, Spices , Garlic Powder, Romano Cheese [(Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), and Disodium Phosphate], Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Extractives of Paprika, Autolyzed Yeast, Dehydrated Garlic and Spices.

*Tomato Basil* Ingredients: Pizza Crust (Wheat Flour, Corn Meal, Salt, Baking Soda, Toasted Bread Flavor), Water, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese (Cheese [Part-skim Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes], Whey, Buttermilk Solids, Sodium Phosphate, Lactic Acid), Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pizza Seasoning (Tomato Powder, Cheddar Cheese [(Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes}, Whey, Buttermilk, Salt, Disodium Phosphate], Onion Powder, Spices, Garlic Powder, Romano Cheese ({Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes}, and Disodium Phosphate], Dehydrated Garlic, Tomato Pieces, Basil, Oregano, and Spices.

First, I’ll be honest. These don’t taste like pizza.  They are incredibly delicious but not pizza 🙂  They’re really unique and like the corners are really light.  While I could eat the Sotos out of the bag, these were definitely a side dish with some soup (hearty tomato soup and these was a great combo) and they’re a great salad topper!

Sotos

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Ingredients: MultiGrain Bits (wholegrain corn flour, rice flour, whole oat flour, wholegrain wheat flour, sugar, salt), Seasoning (sugar, spice, cinnamon, malic acid, salt and natural flavor), Mid Oleic Sunflower Oil, Sesame Seeds

Oh my! These were my favorite.  First, how cool is the flavor? Zesty Cheese, Olive Oil and Lemon.  What a great combination.  I also love the mutigrain base and the flavor of these.  Another great salad topper.  It took care of my craving and got me to eat an extra large salad… Always a good thing 🙂

I love this company and supporting strong women.  The snacks are delicious and a great way to deal with certain cravings in a guilt-free way!  The bags are just the right size too and even if you eat the whole thing (which I did on occasion :oops:) you’re not doing too much damage.

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Gnu Foods is a small company that makes all natural, great tasting foods that help address specific nutritional needs and health conditions.

This five year old company is really trying to make a difference by providing good food, that tastes good, and that is healthy to all.  They believe that “Real health makes us feel good inside and out, physically and emotionally.”  With obesity and diabetes running rampant in our nation, even in our children, we must do more to help prevent this.

Gnu works hard to do this and even offers a section of their website with tips for parents.  Despite being a ‘nonparent’, I still find the information fascinating and hope that I can share this link with my students’ parents.  Generally speaking, it’s hard to find information on childhood nutrition as it can be a very individual topic based on the child’s guidelines which make even general information hard to come by.  I love that Gnu uses their site to provide some quick facts that are easy to understand and retain.

They also have a really awesome feature that shows “what they’re reading” which directs you to some great, accessible nutrition books.  They also have a general “fiber and your health section” for adults.

How do they taste though?

Gnu bars are seriously yummy!  They have a light sweetness and are chewy like a chewy fresh baked goodie.  Which means I loved them!  There are a lot of yummy flavors: Banana Walnut, Cinnamon Raisin, Orange Cranberry, Chocolate Brownie, Peanut Butter, Lemon Ginger, and  Espresso Chip.

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My favorite flavor suprised me… with a chocolate flavor you’d think it would have been that, but…

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Ingredients: Gnu High Fiber Blend™ (whole rolled oats, organic whole wheat flour, wheat bran, organic kamut, psyllium, flax, millet), chicory root inulin, fruit juices, rice dextrins, apples, canola oil, walnuts, rice, plums, banana, wheat protein isolate, natural flavors, baking powder.

Banana Walnut was my favorite.  It was like a bite of heavenly banana bread without too many walnuts (like the flavor not the texture of walnuts).  I loved it.

The other flavors were good but cannot compare to the Banana Walnut flavor.  I want you to try all the flavors and let me know which is your favorite.  I do love the nutrition stats on these bars because they’re the perfect size for me.  They’re big enough to carry me from my early lunch hour (usually around 11:30am) and when I get home (around 5:00pm).  It’s not so big that I can’t have dinner till 8:30 but the fiber keeps me satisfied enough that I’m not chewing my arm off when I walk in the door, and then make a sensible dinner!

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Yesterday, I went to the Capital Area Food Bank.  The CAFB serves the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia (DMV).

There are 700,000 hungry people in the DMV area.

Of those, 200,000 are children.

The CAFB depends on corporate and local food drives, but get most of their food from Giant Foods and Safeway.

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The CAFB offers many programs to serve this segment of the population  They offer a brown bag service that gives a bag full of groceries for the elderly every week.  They also have a Kids Cafe and a weekend bag program that gives children on the free and reduced lunch programs in their schools, food during off school hours, as many of them would not eat otherwise.

19% of those served are under the age of 17

11% of those served are over the age of 65

Along with these programs, they have a “shopping floor” where area agencies and shelters can get food to feed those involved with them.  That’s where I worked yesterday.

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It was amazing, heart breaking and hard all at once.  Amazing because there was a little elderly lady who came in who donated a small bag of canned goods and a note that said “God Bless.”  Not to judge by appearances, but surely this was a big gift for her.  Heart breaking when we found boxes of opened goods and others that mice had gotten to.  It was hard to think that the food would not go to families in need, but the CAFB takes the food and gives it to some pig farmers so it doesn’t go to waste.  It was hard because stocking shelves for hours can be back breaking and at times it wasn’t fun.  I just kept reminding myself that I wasn’t doing it for anyone, not the other volunteers, not the coordinator, just to help in the best way that I can.

There are countless ways that you too can help fight hunger in your community.

*Find a local food bank and donate a couple of hours of your time- we’re all busy but that time you spent vegging on the couch watching Real Desperate Housewives Marathons could have been spent helping others, that’s what DVR is for.

*When you go grocery shopping and find a steal, grab a few extra and have a bag set aside for donations- If you’re a Costco member and you get a mega 6 pack of pasta, give one away, you’re still getting a great deal and a family of four won’t have to worry about dinner one night.

*Support businesses that are doing more. Shoprite and General Mills are offering a Blog It Forward program.

ShopRite Partners In Caring, a regional hunger-fighting initiative is partnering with General Mills to raise awareness about the issue of hunger.  the ShopRite Partners In Caring program has donated $2 million annually to local food banks – $20 million to date.  In these troubled economic times, there is more need for food assistance than ever in our communities and we need to get the word out!  That’s why we’re asking for your help.General Mills and ShopRite will donate one box of cereal to a food bank in ShopRite’s trading area for the first 30 people who comment on your post.

That’s right… another way to help is to leave a comment on this post.  Most of us don’t know what it’s like to be hungry.  We are “starving” if it’s been too many hours since breakfast.  There are many out there who know true hunger and if 10 seconds of your time can make a difference, do it.

Please support Partner’s In Caring and All Vegged Out in this effort. I know this isn’t a traditional giveaway because you aren’t getting anything, but someone will definitely benefit.  Sometimes it’s worth being selfless!

1. How great is their name?  There may or may not have been some jumping on my bed while I tried some of these.  Strangely missed the camera’s lens though hmm.

2. I’m really into this company.  Why? Because their stance is a lot like my own.

Funky Monkey is all about health, nutrition and convenience.  Most of their products are organic or mainly organic.

I’m all for organic products but like Funky Monkey sometimes you can’t get everything organic.  I try to go local or organic but sometimes there just isn’t any there.  I like that Funky Monkey strives for balance while still providing a healthy product.

One snack bag is three servings of fruit.  I think they’re a mom’s dream because this sweet “chip-like” snack can get some healthy vitamins in picky kids without a fight!

Jennifer sent me their flavors to try:

Bannamon

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Ingredients: Freeze-dried organic bananas, organic cinnamon

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Yum, these are pretty simple but delicious.  I love bananas but don’t like things with an overpowering “banana flavor.”  I want to know it’s there but my palate is easily overwhelmed by it, which is why I’m usually a half a banana at a time girl.  I ate this whole package in one sitting and loved it.  The cinnamon really complimented the banana flavor and took care of my ‘issues.’

Carnaval Mix

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Ingredients: Freeze-dried organic banana, organic pineapple, apple, papaya and raisins

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This was good.  I wish I could tell you more about it but two of my students started gobling it up and from their smiling faces I’d say it’s kid approved 🙂 This is also the only flavor that’s not USDA organic but like I said, balance is best, and it is 70% organic.

Jivealime

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Ingredients: Freeze-dried organic pineapple and organic lime juice

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Oh man, I live sour candies.  I love that sour+sweet thing.  The one candy I’ll never turn down is a sour gummy worm.  This reminded me of that in all the best ways.  I loved this flavor and will definitely make it part of my regular eats.

Purple Funk

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Ingredients: Freeze-dried organic bananas and organic açai

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Check out the color on these babies.  The best part? There’s no added anything that’s just the yummy açai coloring the banana.  Admittedly, this took me two servings to eat because they were ‘banana-y’ but that’s just my hang-up not yours.  I’m glad I didn’t take these to school though or all the girls in my class would have taken it because purple is where it’s at (or so I’ve heard).

These vegan and raw food snack are great.  They have great chew and definitely cured my ‘sweets’ craving multiple times.  I think they’re great for kids- think lunch box treat, and great for big kids like me who really love fun snacks.

I know during the school year these will become part of my regular rotation since I always seem to need a post-school, pre-long commute snack in order to have the energy to make a healthy dinner.  These can definitely keep me on track conveniently!

I had a dream, that today was Earth Day, and I didn’t do anything for my planet.

It was a nightmare.

I am far from perfect: Sometimes it is easier to buy a water bottle than to search out a water fountain to refill my reuseable bottle.  Sometimes I toss my copy of the Express while at school instead of carrying it home to recycle.  Sometimes I leave the water running when I brush my teeth.

I need to do better, but I bet we could all do a little better.

Sometimes, I read articles that urge me to be ‘greener’ and while I would love to follow their guidelines they’re somewhat difficult.

You see, I’m a busy person- I work full time, I have a full class schedule, I *try* to have a life.  I would love to go out and plant a tree in my front yard but I don’t have a front yard (yea city life!). There are some limitations but there is plenty I can do.  There is plenty you can do as well.

One of the simplest ways we can make a difference, is to continue doing what we already do, but better.

You ask, “What does that even mean?”

That means when shopping that we choose products made my companies whose production is ethical.  That means asking the questions,

“What is this company doing for others?”

“Do they care about their consumers, their workers, others that are less fortunate, the planet?”

This can be time consuming, and while I’d love to say that I research all companies before I put their products in my shopping cart, the truth is, that’s impossible.

I want to make it easier for you though.

How?

Well, this month I’ll be reviewing products made by companies who are working hard to do more than is required.  I’ve done the research and hopefully, you guys will go out and support these companies as well.

I don’t have a limitless budget, who does really?  So, when I spend my *hard-earned* money I want it to mean something and be worthwhile.

I’m sure many of you feel the same way.

As an added bonus, there will be some sort of giveaway everyday in August.  Why?  I want you guys to try these products as well to see for yourself how great they are!

Be excited! I am.  I can’t wait to share!