July 24, 2013

Product review: I.M. Healthy Chocolate SoyNut Butter

This jar sat in our cold, dark pantry, unopened, for months and months after I had snapped it up on clearance at a natural foods market.  I had seen varieties of soynut butter but this was my first and only sighting of chocolate soynut butter.  I was intrigued at the time but tucked it onto a crowded shelf that eventually became even more crowded with our pantry staples.

I came upon this forgotten jar in the spring -- conveniently right before the "best if used by" date -- so I knew it was time to pull off the seal, and have a try.  Oh my.  What had I been waiting for??

I think I.M. Healthy's chocolate soynut butter is pretty darn tasty.   It's not as decadent and rich as the dairy-filled, hazelnut spread Nutella -- I.M.'s texture is fluffier and not gooey.  Even so I.M. Healthy's chocolate soynut butter has a pleasant cocoa taste, slightly nutty, even though it's nut-free.  (Must be those roasted soy "nuts"!)  I liked it.  But would my picky, picky kids like it?

The kids liked it more in the beginning when I made chocolate soynut butter and banana sandwiches but they grew quickly tired of the combo.  They will eat it sometimes on untoasted whole bread, no bananas, but they are not clamoring for chocolate sandwiches all the time.  This will be a good lunch option to mix things up a bit every couple of weeks.  I should be grateful that they are not particularly fond of sweet sandwiches, right?

In addition to sandwiches, I.M Healthy's chocolate soynut butter is great as a quick frosting.  We keep a stash of unfrosted cupcakes in the freezer so that we always have a safe treat to bring to friends' parties.  the chocolate soynut butter requires no refrigeration and is especially convenient when you just need to frost one or two cupcakes.

Sprinkles and I.M Healthy's chocolate soynut butter on top of a GF cupcake.  Yum!

The company, I.M. Healthy, also makes other soy nut butters.  Their products, as clearly labeled, are made in a peanut-free, tree nut-free facility.  I called the company's toll-free line, was momentarily rendered speechless when a live person answered the phone (so nice!), and found out that their facilities are also DAIRY-FREE, EGG-FREE, and WHEAT-FREE.  Woo hoo!

I.M. Healthy's chocolate soy nut butter has a little more fat, protein, and fiber than Nutella.  One thing that I.M. Healthy has a lot less of is sugar, one third of the sugar per serving than Nutella.  I was lucky to find a 6-pack of the spread on Amazon during a random sale in April (6 jars for $15!).  This stuff is definitely hard to find.  I have seen prices range from $5 to $6 per jar through Amazon, Walmart, and non-chocolate I.M. Healthy soynut butters for about the same at Vitacost.

Ryken has a classmate, we'll call him "Q" for privacy sake, who loved to bring Nutella sandwiches to school.  Q is a sweet and close friend who, upon finding out that Ryken was allergic to Nutella, gave up his favorite lunch option so that he could continue sitting with Ryken at the allergy-free table.  After finally trying the chocolate soynut butter and getting my hands on more jars, I gave one to Q's family to try out.  I hope to see this in Q's lunchbox this fall!

I.M. Chocolate Soy Nut Butter Nutritional Information*:

Product: I.M Healthy Chocolate SoyNut Butter
Product size: 15 oz
Serving size: 2 Tablespoons
Total fat per serving: 14 grams (compared to 12 grams in Nutella, 16 grams in Skippy No-Stir peanut butter, and 16 grams in Trader Joe's sunflower seed butter)
Dietary fiber: 3 grams (compared to 1 gram in Nutella, 2 grams in the peanut butter, 7 grams in the sun butter)
Sugar: 7 grams (compared to 21 grams in Nutella and 3 grams in both the peanut butter and sun butter)
Protein: 5 grams (compared to 2 grams in Nutella, 7 grams in both the peanut butter and sun butter)

*The nutritional information was taken from the company's website.  This information differs slightly from the nutritional info found on the label of chocolate soynut butter jars that I had purchased in May.  I am guessing that the company's website features the most current facts.

July 17, 2013

Getting Back on Track & Fish Tacos (No Egg, No Dairy)

During the summer, life slows down.  Without homework to complete, team sports practices to rush off to, or school volunteer commitments, you would think our lives are stress-free during the summer.  But as the weeks go on, a subtle regression takes place to a life where any semblance of a schedule is nonexistent.

Yep, sneaky little thing, the fall to chaos.  And then you're back dealing with the same old stuff you're dealing with during the school year: the repetitive dinner dishes, kids want to "help," but you have very little time to shop or prepare, and everyone's food allergies and disparate tastes exacerbate the situation.  Time for a change of pace.

First, get everyone back into a routine by making sure they understand their daily roles and responsibilities.  I am a true believer in incentives.  I found this website called Kidspointz where you can assign each child tasks/responsibilities/chores using a points and rewards system.  Kids can help develop their online charts, along with the rewards they are coveting (right now, the kids are really into computer time, online game subscriptions, special outings, etc).  We are into week two and beds are still made, daily reading time is still observed, and whining is down to a minimum.  Eventually their responsibilities will be habit and their rewards will come naturally--that's the hope, anyway.

As for the perpetual question, "What's for dinner?" we recently tried a simple recipe for fish tacos with much success.  The kids were able to help, the bulk of it can be made in advance, and the use of frozen fish sticks buys me an extra day or two between grocery store visits.

The key to making this recipe allergy-friendly is finding frozen fish sticks and a mayonnaise that work for your family.  We use Trader Joe's Lightly Breaded Fish Sticks Reduced Fat.  They contain wheat, but are dairy, egg, and soy free, which are the usual fish stick culprits.  If your kids are fish allergic, try substituting allergy-friendly chicken nuggets or grilled fish or chicken for a gluten-free option.

As for the mayonnaise, for this recipe we tried Nasoya Vegan Nayonaise.  It seemed to separate a bit in the jar and had a yellowish tinge, but when we made the coleslaw dressing, it was smooth as silk.

For picky eaters, try a plainer coleslaw (my 8-year-old swears by just cabbage, sugar, salt, pepper, apples, and raisins), and try creating a plate instead of putting it together into a taco.  Your kids might surprise you by piling everything together anyway (see exhibit A below).  Have the kids help you cook, or try adding in a favorite ingredient to make trying something new a bit easier.  I also added a bit more sugar to taste, and substituted apple cider vinegar for the red wine vinegar.

"Exhibit A:" She started off with everything separate, but quickly moved on to a taco.
Easy Fish Tacos (NO Dairy, NO Egg)


Coleslaw, adapted from Tyler Florence's Ultimate Coleslaw Recipe

1 cup mayonnaise, like Nasoya Vegan Nayonaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 store-bought bag of shredded green cabbage (8 oz)
1 store-bought bag or shredded red cabbage (8 oz)

Fish sticks (like Trader Joe's Lightly Breaded Fish Sticks Reduced Fat)

Corn tortillas
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

1. Pre-heat oven and pop the fish sticks in to bake on a foil-lined baking pan.  Bake as directed on box.

2.  Make the coleslaw by combining all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl, then tossing it with the cabbage.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Pan fry the corn tortillas and set aside for serving.

4.  Allow kids to assemble the tacos and enjoy!