To snack or not to snack? I’ve been a regular snacker for about 7 years. Meaning: I’ve been having small meals twice a day most days in between the “big meals” (breakfast, lunch, dinner). There’s research that proves that having small frequent meals helps to regulate your metabolism and blood sugar levels (of course there’s also research that proves the opposite). My snacks have gone from yoghurt (processed, homemade, with sugar, with artificial sweeteners, with or without fruit, etc) to cheese and veggies to fruits and nuts to veggies (mainly carrots) and nuts (mainly almonds). I’ve cut my snacking to once a day on weekdays and am planning to ditch the nuts when I finish my current “stock”.
Wait a minute, aren’t nuts healthy? Yes… and no. Nuts contain anti-nutrients, which basically makes them difficult to digest and prevent your body from absorbing minerals and vitamins. These can be reduced by activating the nuts (soaking and drying at a low temperature) or roasting them (more about this later in this paragraph), but there’s another issue: most nuts and seeds have too much omega-6 and too little (if any) omega-3. Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory and omega-3 is anti-inflammatory. The omega-6 content will be higher if you buy them roasted in vegetable oil. If you buy them dry-roasted or dry-roast them yourself there’s a good chance that the fat content will become rancid.
That’s why I’ve decided to cut down my nut intake and eat them as occasional treats. I prefer to make my own treats but sometimes I’m just too busy. Apart from some raw bars I bought in the organic expo and activated nuts I hadn’t seen any conveniently packaged Paleo snacks in Australia… until Google told me about Paleo Snacks, an Aussie online store that sells American Paleo treats. Great! I want one of everything! Seriously, I ordered one package of every flavour of every product (Nick from Paleo Snacks offered some of the items for free) and recruited my housemate Bonnie for the tastings. Alvaro took part in some of them, too. BTW, the tastings were done on separate days, we’re sensible gluttons :)
These cookies are sold individually or in bags of 6 or 12. They are all wrapped individually in plastic, which comes in very handy to keep them fresh and is a good strategy to avoid overeating, especially because the wrapping is very difficult to tear apart. They come in three flavours:
- Tropical Caveman Cookies “made with ingredients that tropical cavemen had access to such as coconuts and macadamia nuts. They are the perfect sweet tropical treat with a nutty flavour that will satisfy your hunger and keep you feeling great between meals.” They are made with the following ingredients: almond flour, honey, unsulfured coconut, macadamia nuts and ginger.
- Original Caveman Cookies “are a Paleolithic take on the traditional oatmeal-raisin cookie. They are sweet and satisfying with a high protein content. A great snack for cavemen in need of a quick pick-me-up.” They are made with the following ingredients: honey, almond flour, walnuts, raisins, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Notice that honey comes in first and ingredients are always listed in order of proportion, meaning this cookie is very sweet and not that healthy.
- Alpine Caveman Cookies “are a delicious cookie that maintain the classic Swiss flavor combination of hazelnuts and chocolate, but are made with carob, a healthier alternative. They are great for hungry cavemen needing something to keep them feeling great throughout the day.” They are made with the following ingredients: honey, hazelnut flour, almond flour, and carob. Again, honey comes in first.
The cookies look homemade and have different sizes (but similar weights). As expected, all of them were very sweet. As in tooth pain sweet. Bonnie and I found the alpine tastier and less sweet than the others, probably because of the chocolatiness of carob. For both, the tropical flavour came in second and the original was just too sweet. Alvaro tried them too and even he, a sugar addict, found them too sweet. I guess they’re made for the American palate. I wouldn’t buy them again, I’d rather going through the trouble of making my own.
“Think a grainless granola bar is too good to be true? Think again. A delicious blend of coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds and honey, PaleoKrunch fits into your bag and can answer any snack requirement. The perfect snack to keep you going between meals! And remember…100% natural!” They are made with the following ingredients: almond meal, shredded coconut, raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, almond slivers, coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract.
These sound pretty good, no? And guess what, they were. They were our favourite snack of the bunch, because they were delicious, not too sweet, and easy to eat without overindulging (because of the wrapping). These bars come in packs of 5 and 25, I regret getting the fiver because I’m planning on keeping a steady supply in my cupboard for snacking emergencies, if such thing exists.
“Miss your morning cereal? Not anymore. PaleoKrunch is a grainless granola and it tastes great! Each container makes for a perfect start to the day! A delicious blend of clusters consisting of coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds and honey…it can be eaten as a cereal, snack or tossed with some almond milk, coconut milk or fruit. Anyway you krunch it, you’ll love the taste of it!”
This is a granola-like cereal that comes in plastic containers similar to the ones used to pack olives. It comes in two flavours:
- Original, made with the following ingredients: almond meal, shredded coconut, raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, almond slivers, coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract (same as the Paleokrunch bars).
- Cranberry, made with the following ingredients: infused cranberries (cranberries, apple juice concentrate, sunflower oil), almond meal, shredded coconut, raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, almond slivers, coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract. The only real issue about this ingredient list is the apple juice concentrate (translation: liquid sugar) and the sunflower oil.
Both had a very natural taste and were not too sweet. The cranberry one was a bit more oily and soft in texture because of the dried fruits; the original one was crunchier and less sweet, and that’s why we both like it the most. I tried it by itself and with coconut milk, it was excellent in both cases. The only thing I found annoying about this cereal is the packaging, the lid isn’t that hermetic to keep the cereal fresh (if you manage to don’t finish the whole thing in one go, that is).
Paleo People Granola
This is another brand of granola, which comes in resealable bags and in four flavours:
- Apple Crisp Granola “made with our 5 nut combo, dried apples, rich spices and some healthy flax and almond meal for that crisp crumbly texture. The delicious gourmet blend tastes just like you had a bit of apple crisp!” It’s made with the following ingredients: honey, almonds, pecans, walnuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, coconut oil, pumpkin seeds, dried apples, flaxseed meal, natural flavours, spices, cacao powder and mixed tocopherols (a natural antioxidant). Note once again that honey comes in first, and has other sources of sugar: raisins and dried apples. Also, “natural flavours” can mean anything.
- Banana Nut Crunch “loaded with nuts, flax meal, seeds and spices to warm your heart! Your taste buds will feel like your eating banana bread, only without the gluten or wheat!” It’s made with the following ingredients: honey, almonds, walnuts, pecans, banana chips (bananas, coconut oil, sugar, natural flavour), raisins, sunflower seeds, coconut oil, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries (cranberries, sugar, sunflower oil), shredded coconut, flaxseed meal, spices, natural flavours, cacao powder and mixed tocopherals (a natural antioxidant). Again, honey in first, “natural ingredients” and non-Paleo ingredients in the cranberries and banana chips.
- Cacao Nut Granola “a delicious array of 5 nuts enveloped in a semi sweet cacao nib coating with a hint of harvest spice!” It’s made with the following ingredients: almonds, raisins, honey, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut oil, shredded coconut, pecans, flaxseed meal, cacao nibs, cacao powder, natural flavours, spices and mixed tocopherals (a natural antioxidant). A better set of ingredients: less sweetness but obscure “natural flavours”.
- Cappuccino Crunch Granola “made with nuts, coffee beans and hazelnuts as its star attraction. The flavour is rich and texture crisp! You don’t have to like coffee to love this granola!” It’s made with the following ingredients: almonds, Brazil nuts, honey, walnuts, raisins, pecans, sunflower seeds, coffee beans, coconut oil, dried cranberries (cranberries, apple juice, sunflower oil), flaxseed meal, cacao nibs, natural flavours, cacao powder, cinnamon and mixed tocopherals (a natural antioxidant). Same that the cacao nut: less sweet than the other two but obscure “natural flavours” and nasty stuff in the cranberries.
Paleo People Granola
No surprise here, with those long lists of ingredients, these granolas felt a lot more artificial than the Paleokrunch ones. Finally we disagreed in our favourites (listed in order of preference):
- Bonnie: cacao, cappuccino, banana (which she wouldn’t have again because of the sugar and vegetable oil). She found an “off” flavour in the apple crisp.
- Alvaro: banana, cappuccino, apple. He doesn’t like dark chocolate, so didn’t like cacao nut.
- Gaby: cappuccino (which could be a great substitute to chocolate-covered coffee beans), cacao, apple. I found the banana nut crunch too artificial and, like Bonnie, don’t want the nasty ingredients.
Say what??!! It sounds like an oxymoron, and to some extent it is. The deal is that some clever people have figured out a recipe to make pasta with no grains. Unfortunately, it contains quinoa, the Andean grain-like seed that is highly regarded because of its protein content but is off-limits for Paleo people mainly because of its saponin content which can cause big trouble in the gut. It also has xanthan gum to keep the other stuff together. Of course the ingredients list comes with a disclaimer: “We know that the presence of quinoa and xanthan gum might raise some Paleo eyebrows, but hey, it’s a tiny bit of quinoa, less than 10%, and since it’s finely milled flour, there’s a much much lower concentration of the saponins that can be a cause of concern with quinoa. And since there is inulin, a naturally occurring fibre, we can get away with a tiny bit of xanthan gum.” Paleo Pasta comes in three flavours:
- Original “The nutiness of the almond flour and the unique blend of pumpkin and arrowroot work together to produce a subtle but yummy flavour that definitely satisfies those pasta cravings!” It’s made with the following ingredients: almond flour, arrowroot flour, pumpkin powder, quinoa flour, water, dried egg whites, inulin and xanthan gum.
- Spinach “Green for a reason, they just kept adding spinach until they decided you could really taste it! Full of goodness, a great way to eat your greens!” It’s made with the following ingredients: almond flour, arrowroot flour, pumpkin powder, spinach flour, quinoa flour, water, dried egg whites, inulin and xanthan gum.
- Tomato “A classic! A great flavourful base for any meal. This delicious blend of Paleo Pasta satisfies all your pasta needs!” It’s made with the following ingredients: almond flour, arrowroot flour, pumpkin powder, tomato flour, quinoa flour, water, dried egg whites, inulin and xanthan gum.
We cooked the three flavours separately, tried a bit by themselves and had them as lunch with pesto, steak and salad. They were a bit mushy, like overcooked pasta. Taste-wise there was a big difference with real pasta as most of the ingredients have a distinctive flavour. Both the original and the tomato ones were sweet (the tomato a tad more), the spinach had a strong vegetable taste. We all liked them all, Bonnie couldn’t tell the difference between the flavours, and I liked the spinach better, with the tomato as a close second. As I never find myself craving pasta I wouldn’t buy more but it’s good to know it’s available for people who want to eat pasta without the grains.
Paleo Pasta, pesto & steak