Hey there!

First things first: Happy 4th of July to all of my lovely American readers! I hope you’re all enjoying a relaxing day off full of fun and patriotic festivities… or maybe just lounging by the pool? I’d be content with either one!

Secondly, I’ve made a decision about the future of Try Something New Tuesday recaps. Have no fear, they’re not going to go away! After looking back at some older posts, I’ve realized that TSNT ones are very, very long. Therefore, going forward, each one will contain the usual Recipe of the Week feature, as well as only one new-to-me thing. This is definitely not because I’m running out of new things to try – I have a long list! It’s because I know you’re all very busy and very amazing people, and I don’t want to stop you from getting out there and taking on the world in your own amazing way every Wednesday morning! So with that in mind, let’s get down to business, shall we?

1. Recipe of the Week: This week’s recipe stars a super cute wee fruit:

I rarely, rarely buy fresh apricots. This weekend, they caught my eye at the grocery store and since peaches weren’t on sale (which was what I’d originally set out to buy) I picked up a couple of apricots instead. To me, apricots are far superior to plums, mangoes, and other pit fruits because the stone come straight out. There’s no sucking-on-the-flesh-around-it or juice-dribbling-down-your-chin-and-on-to-your-white-shorts business, and there’s no wastage. A win-win if you ask me.

Oh! And I also managed to save a couple for this lovely Quinoa and Apricot Pilaf. I’d call it a quinoa and apricot salad but I’ve already got a bazillion salads recipes so I thought I’d try to trick you into thinking it was different. And besides, pilaf just sounds more fancy than salad. Call it what you want, but I call it awesome.

The pilaf is dressed up with… wait for it… more apricots! The dressing is a puree of fresh apricots, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil. Of course, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of making a dressing, you could just purchase a gorgeous bottle of Blenheim Apricot White Balsamic from a shop like Dana’s or Michelle’s like I did last weekend. If that’s not an option, do the puree thing. You won’t be disappointed!

2. PrOATein Bars. A little while ago, I caught a tweet in my Twitter feed from PrOATein Bar, a sports nutrition bar from Hygiea. Intrigued and interested in learning about it, I checked out their website for more information. I’m a picky girl when it comes to protein bar ingredients, and 9 times out of 10, I’d rather just make my own (specifically, these ones.) But what I found was pleasantly surprising.

Here’s what Hygiea has to say:

We’re passionate about health, fitness and wellness. That’s why we created Proatein, all natural nutritional bars. For years, we were looking for the perfect meal replacement bar – one that satisfies the needs of someone active and on the go while fulfilling the nutritional requirements of a meal. After trying several brands, we realized that there were many good options out there – but none that were made with all natural ingredients. The options were either a chocolate bar infused with protein but high in saturated fats, an energy bar high in sugar and low in protein, a protein bar that actually tastes good – but the main protein being used was soy, or a protein bar with ingredients we actually liked, but tasted horrible!

We were set on a mission to create a great tasting protein bar with wholesome nutrients and a perfect carb/fat/protein ratio.

When creating Proatein bars, our priority from the start was that our bar achieved the highest standards of quality and consistency. To ensure this, we used ingredients that were all natural. Then we sourced the best source of carbs to incorporate – Oats! After including Whey Protein Isolate, we created the perfect bar by ensuring it was not only low in Saturated Fats, but also High in Fibre!

Did you notice that bit about the soy? As you’re probably already aware, there’s a lot of controversy about processed soy and the effects of the phytoestrogens it contains. Phytoestrogens (plant hormones) are suspected to mess with our hormones, promote early puberty in young children, contribute to infertility… and the list goes on. (Don’t mistake this for whole soy products though, like soybeans, edamame and tempeh, which are believed to be ok and possibly beneficial for our health when enjoyed in moderation.)

But back to the bars! In comparison to the ingredients lists for many other protein bars on the market, this company sounded very unique to me.

PrOATein Bars come in 3 flavours (nutritional stats and ingredients can be found here):

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Strawberry Chocolate
  • Cinnamon Raisin

Here’s a quick glimpse at the ingredients for the Cinnamon Raisin one, which was the flavour that appealed most to me.

Granola oats, whey protein isolate, honey, molasses, brown rice syrup, raisins, cinnamon icing coating (cane sugar, modified milk ingredients, sunflower oil), soya lecithin, natural flavour, whey crisp, wheat bran, sunflower oil, vanilla, natural flavour, cinnamon.

Before I talk about taste, here are the observations of a label-reading nerd (moi):

  • Oats are the first ingredient – a good sign! There are 5g of fiber in this bar, thanks to the oats and wheat bran
  • Honey, molasses, and brown rice syrup are listed fairly early on in the list of ingredients, but they are all natural sweeteners and the total sugar in this bar is only 7.5g, which is a lot less than a serving in ‘healthy’ cereals.
  • The icing contains modified milk ingredients. Not sure exactly what those would look like if they were sitting out on a table but I don’t think they could be too terrible. If you’re really interested, this article talks a bit more about what needs to be labeled as a ‘modified milk ingredient.’
  • No fructose, trans fats, or artificial sweeteners – YAY!
  • 15g whey isolate protein – a good amount for a single bar
  • No soy protein in the bar, but it’s not 100% soy-free. There’s a mention of soya lecithin, which is usually used as a binding agent that helps foods hold their shape. According to this source, people with soy allergies don’t often have to worry about it because it’s a byproduct of soybean oil, not the soy protein itself. Still, some people are sensitive to it, so perhaps not an ideal choice for everyone.
  • Natural flavour… I always wonder about this one, but I’ll take their word for it.
  • A decent size – Bigger than a Larabar (which I love, but are far too small to fill me up and they do contain a lot of sugar)

Ok, now over to the taste factor, which is probably what most people care about!

Verdict: Really, really good! I am always on a quest to find healthy pre-workout snacks that I can stomach, since the thought of popping something into my mouth at 4am is never appealing, even to a food lover like me. Oatmeal raisin ranks very highly on my list of favourite cookie flavours, which is what initially attracted me to this bar. As a kid, I liked baking cookies with my mum, not because of the final product, but because of the numerous chances to sneak one or two (or twenty) balls of raw dough into my mouth. The Oatmeal Raisin PrOATein bar reminded me of this. It had a dense, chewy texture, just like cookie dough, but it wasn’t oily or overly sweet.

I ate half of the bar about 20 minutes before driving to the gym yesterday morning, and what I thought was going to just be an average workout turned into an AMAZING one! I ended up pushing myself harder than I expected, with no tummy issues whatsoever. (You’ll get to try said workout for yourself in a Fit Bit Friday… don’t worry, I won’t forget!) In the meantime, If you’re interested in getting your hands on some PrOATein bars, you can find a store that carries them here, or order via one of the company’s online partners.

Ok, that is all I have! Before you head off to have a fantastic day (and I know you WILL!), tell me…

  • What’s your favourite stone fruit? For me, it’s peaches, but apricots are a close second. They’re just so cute!
  • For those in the US, how are you celebrating today?