Not only was this little box was chock full of delicious goodies, Healthy Surprise really makes an effort to support organic, fair trade, green, and/or socially aware companies as well as expanding their reach each month to new brands and healthier, more diverse choices.
I was surprised by how small and sleek the box was, they do a great job with the package and there’s very little excess wrapping and packing materials, which is an eco-efficient approach that I especially like.
The contents were quite varied, the box included everything from bars and raw crackers to nuts and kale chips. I like trying new things and giving new flavors a go, which is one of the major reasons that I like these boxes (and CSAs) – They force you to get outside of your comfort zone and usual purchasing routines.
Apple Pecan Two Degrees Bar – The ingredient list for this bar are awesome. Vegan, gluten-free AND it containing quinoa, chia seeds, and millet. Oh, and it was absolutely scrumptious. Gooey, chewy, not too sweet, tangy, filling, and wholesome. Bonus? The company has a great program in place and for every Two Degrees bar you buy, they will donate a meal to a hungry child.
Seriously, does it get any better than this?
Apple Cinnamon Raw Revolution Bar – TASTY! I love Raw Revolution Bars, these organic live food bars have always been high on my list. The Chocolate Coconut flavor remains the reigning champion as far as I’m concerned, though the Apple Cinnamon was quite good. Side note – This bar was pretty small – it was gone in just a couple bites which is always sad.
That’s It Bar – “1 Apple + 10 Cherries in this fruit bar” is the tagline, which I think is great, more companies should approach their products this way. The ingredients are really just apples and cherries. Pure! 100 calories, 3 grams of protein and they’re gluten-free, kosher, vegan, and have zero fat. Quite the healthy little bar.
Livin’ Spoonful Coconut Curry Crackers – Gluten free, vegan, raw sprouted crackers. Don’t be intimidated by the name of this healthy snack, it’s DELICIOUS. Really light in flavor, with a great crunch and texture. Even the boyfriend happily enjoyed a few bites. To top it off, Livin’ Spoonful is a great little company focusing on healthy, gluten-free living and has the motto “a garden in every bite.”
Twin Cakes Cashew Coconut Biscotti – I mentioned my love of Twin Cakes (the North Carolina-based bakery run by the twins who write the Pure2Raw blog) when I discussed gluten-free products – Gluten: The Good, The Bad & The Itchy. I’ve ordered virtually everything that their site has to offer at one point or another and not a single product has disappointed. In the past I’ve especially loved their raw crackers and snack bites, however their biscotti is now my new favorite. So. Good. Very coconut-y and dense, but a little bit chewy. Delicious!
Alive & Radiant Foods Southwest Ranch Kale Krunch – Kale chips are a great snack, but an acquired taste for some. They’re baked greens so there’s not a ton of crunch, but they’re pretty satisfying nonetheless. I really enjoyed this flavor, I’ve only ever had a few vegan ranch flavored snacks that I’ve enjoyed, frequently they taste nothing like ranch and are a disappointment. Not these though!
Righteously Raw Chocolate Maca Bar – I wanted so badly to like this bar, the packaging is beautiful and the information on the bar is top-notch. Gluten-free, no refined sugar, soy & dairy free, contained over 55 phytonutrients, increases energy & vitality, and balances hormones & increases libido. It looks like a large Kit Kat bar but unfortunately I really didn’t enjoy the taste. I like maca and use it in smoothies regularly, but this bar was not to my liking.
Samba 99 Cupuacu – This “original antioxidant super fruit bar” contains organic cupuacu pulp, organic Brazil nuts, organic cane sugar, pectin, and citric acid. Not familiar with Cupuacu? This “super food” contains Omega 3 and 6, Vitamins B1, B2, & B3, essential fatty acids and amino acids. It helps boost your immune system, and helps improve the health of your skin and hair. This chewy bar is a great pre-workout snack, a zing of sugar with a little protein, easy to digest and a great source of energy.
Hail Merry Orange-Rosemary Pecans – I don’t even like rosemary and I absolutely loved these nuts. Sweet and salty, and really satisfying. This snack is raw, vegan, and gluten-free and here’s what they have to say about their process: “Hail Merry first soaks her nuts to activate the living enzymes, which aid in proper digestion. We then dehydrate at very low temperatures to protect these enzymes as well as the delicate essential fatty acids.” Tasty and healthy, what more do you need in a snack?
I hope you find these reviews helpful, I really enjoyed my first box and I was thrilled with not on the variety of options Healthy Surprise provided, but also the types of companies they are choosing to support. Couldn’t have chosen better myself. So if you’re in the market for some healthy snacks, I highly recommend giving this company a chance!
Today I would like to discuss a topic with you that is very close to my heart – and my refrigerator – Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSAs).
If you’re anything like me, you enjoy having a variety of fruits and vegetables in your fridge at any given time so that you can make quick and healthy meals. Trips to Whole Foods and other specialty shops can be hard on the pocketbook, especially if you need to restock your cupboards with multiple trips a week.
Enter the CSA
CSAs are programs that provide you with direct access to food produced by local farmers. Fresh, seasonal, high quality food. Essentially it’s a mini farmer’s market delivered directly to your front door, or a nearby pick-up location, for a fraction of the price that you’d pay at a large chain grocery store.
Why did I choose to join a CSA?
First, I was intrigued by the idea of giving my money to local farmers directly without a big corporation acting as the middle man. Second, I live car-free in San Francisco and rely on my own two feet for most of my errands. Finding a CSA with a drop-off three blocks away saves me time, energy and effort, all good things when you don’t want to run to the grocery store after spending all day at the office. Third, I was interested in learning to eat a more seasonal diet. True, I virtually always crave spinach and sweet potatoes, but I began to wonder if I was missing out when I purchased the same things each week. I quickly learned that I’d been missing out on a lot.
What is the biggest benefit of joining a CSA?
You don’t get to pick and choose what you receive through these programs, you are given a box/basket/bag containing a variety of produce that was picked at the farm that week. The result is that you’ll frequently get the opportunity to try things you wouldn’t normally buy for yourself. You get to plan your meals around what’s in season and what the farmers in/near your city are harvesting, rather than what’s being flow in from out-of-state or South America. In addition to getting the chance to eat seasonal, local produce and support smaller farmers, you’re reducing the pollution created when foods are transported long distances.
How expensive are CSAs?
They’re not! Without packaging and the shipping costs to send the food around the country, all you’re paying for are the fruits and vegetables themselves. Each CSA is going to charge slightly different fees and the cost will depend on how often you receive deliveries and whether you request any special additions to your basket. That being said, most of the programs that I researched when I was making my choice were less than $30 per delivery. I don’t know about you, but I can do quite a bit more damage than that given half an hour at Whole Foods!
Did anything surprise you when you first signed up?
If you’re used to the beautiful displays and waxed fruit at grocery stores, your deliveries may initially come as a shock to you. When I say that everything is harvested that week, I’m not exaggerating. The food will be unwashed, with dirt and leaves still clinging to it. Recycled and reusable containers will be utilized whenever possible, so there wont be pristine packaging and sterile plastic wrappings. A good word to keep in mind when you prepare yourself for your first delivery is rustic. It is coming straight from the field to you, with no stops for beautification.
What’s an example of the contents of a shipment?
My most recent delivery contained the following: a bag full of small navel oranges, a large grapefruit, a big bag of spinach, a large bag of pre-mixed stir fry greens, a head of lettuce, onions & garlic, a head of green cabbage, collard greens (yum!), half a dozen small apples and a large bunch of carrots. The variety and types of produce you receive will vary depending on the region you’re in, the season and the CSA you choose.
There are a variety of CSAs currently available and with a little research you can determine the one that suits your needs best. You’ll find that there are some farms that offer you additional supplements to the standard fruit & vegetable boxes, like eggs, milk, cheeses and meats. There are both certified organic farms and traditional farms offering CSAs and you can get deliveries weekly, twice a month, monthly… Whatever will work best for you.
If you’re interested, Google CSAs in your area to try to find one that is perfect for you, or check out the LocalHarvet website to help you narrow down the choices available to you.
The Bay Area has some amazing options and I will admit that it was a hard decision to pick which CSA I wanted to support. I finally made my choice based on the following criteria that were important to me: (1) certified organic, (2) close-by to cut down on shipping cost and pollution from transportation, and (3) a pick-up location walking distance from my apartment. In the end, I went with Eatwell Farm. I had previously seen them at the Ferry Building’s Saturday morning farmer’s market and was impressed by their selection of beautiful produce. I’ve been a proud member since October 2009 and they’ve been very easy to deal with and consistently produce excellent fruits and vegetables.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this post and that if you haven’t looked into signing up for a CSA prior to this that you’ll consider it now and keep in mind the benefits to the environment, local farmers and your refrigerator!