Category Archives: Vegan

Gluten-Free Product Reviews

Every so often I am approached by various companies who offer me different food products to review on the blog.  I’m pretty picky about the products I review – if it doesn’t sound good to me or isn’t allergy-friendly I won’t review it.  Recently, Zen Monkey and Larabar sent me some new gluten-free items to try, so here are my latest gluten-free product reviews.

gluten free product reviews granola yogurtFirst up, Zen Monkey.   Zen Monkey has a line of breakfast products that combine yogurt, oats, and fruit.  The texture can be a little off-putting at first, but if you have ever had overnight oats or even muesli, it’s very similar to that.

The current Zen Monkey product line comes in three flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, and Strawberry.  Each container is two servings (140 calories per serving) and comes in a reusable Tupperware container which is perfect for a breakfast on the go.

gluten free product reviews zen monkeyOut of all the flavors I tried, I liked the Apple Cinnamon the best.  The strawberry and blueberry flavors were a bit on the sweet side for me, but if you like a strong berry flavor, then I’d definitely give them a shot.  I also felt that half a container wasn’t enough for a full serving.  If I was having breakfast on the go, I’d probably eat the whole container for a more complete breakfast.

gluten free product reviews zen monkey oatsSo would I get the Zen Monkey products again?  I really like the concept and love how convenient the packaging is, but honestly I don’t know if I would get them again.  It’s pretty easy to make overnight oats at home, and I usually have enough time most mornings to eat breakfast at home before I have to rush out the door for work.  But if you are looking for a quick and easy breakfast option (and like yogurt) then Zen Monkey might work for you.  They do have a pineapple flavor coming out soon which I would be interested in trying.

The second of my gluten-free product reviews is Larabar’s new vegan “Renola.”

gluten free product reviews renolaLarabar recently released a new line of grain-free granola that is made with GMO-free fruits, nuts and seeds.  The renola comes in individual packets, so it’s perfect to take around for a snack on the go.

gluten free product reviews renola bowlI had the berry flavor with some almond milk one afternoon as a snack and it was delicious!  It doesn’t have the same cluster factor as traditional granola, but the flavor is spot on and each pouch clocks in at 200 calories and less than 10g sugar.  If you have a hard time with portion control when it comes to granola (which I do), then the renola is perfect for you.

And I just so happen to think that the renola makes a fabulous crumble topping over some grilled pineapple and ice cream.

Gluten Free Product Reviews RenolaI can definitely see myself buying more of Larabar’s renola in the future – it’s perfect for travel and a great way to sneak in a quick breakfast or snack without too much fun.  Plus, I love that it is gluten-free and paleo-friendly – both bonuses in my book.

Any gluten-free products you are loving out there?  What else should I try?

Baked Plantain Chips

When I lived in LA, I used to get Cuban food from Versailles.  I’d always get the Famoso Pollo Versailles, which was their garlic chicken with black beans, rice and fried plantains.  Lately, I’ve been having a craving for not only that dish but plantains in general, so I decided to attempt making plantains at home.  Since this was my first foray into the world of plantains, I decided to keep it simple and made baked plantain chips.

Baked Plantain Chips Close UpIf you have ever been to a Trader Joe’s chances are you have seen their baked plantain chips.  Most addicting chips ever.  While I love the saltiness of the Trader Joe’s ones, I wanted to make sweetener plantain chips, so I decided to do roast mine with a little bit of salt and cinnamon.

One thing I learned while making these chips is that it is probably better to go with a greener, unripe plantain if you really want your chips to crisp up.  My plantains were on the riper side, so while the chips still came out good, they weren’t quite as crispy.

Baked Plantain Chips FruitThis is probably one of the easiest recipes I’ve posted, and chances are you already have all of the ingredients in your pantry.

Baked Plantain Chips

Baked Plantain Chips pinIngredients:

1 large plantain banana, green if possible

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tbsp cinnamon


Preheat your oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel your plantain and gently cut it into small slices.

Baked Plantain Chip SlicesPlace your plantains in a mixing bowl and add your olive oil, salt, vanilla and cinnamon.  Mix your plantains until each slice is coated in the mixture.

Baked Plantain Chip CoatingLay your plantains on your baking sheet and place in the oven for 25 minutes or until the plantains become crispy.

Baked Plantain Chips SheetRemove from the baking sheet and enjoy as a snack!

Baked Plantain Chips SnackAny other plantain recipes out there?  I want to try fried plantains next!

Skout Trailbars

If you’ve been reading Sweet Potato Bites for a while, you know I’m all about eating snacks and bars made with minimal ingredients.  I love Health Warrior’s Chia Bars, enjoy many of Larabar’s flavors, and I can always find a KIND bar in my purse.  I was recently sent some Skout Trailbars to try from Skout Natural, and was curious to see how they would match up.

Skout Trailbars AllThe first thing I noticed about the Skout Trailbars was the minimal ingredient list.  Each bar had basic fruit and nut ingredients, and were sweetened with agave nectar which is something I haven’t seen in the other bars I’ve tried.  They also were made with organic gluten-free oats, which is perfect for anyone who has a gluten intolerance or allergy.  I also liked the fact that the bars were 200 calories or less, which can be hard to find sometimes.

Skout Trailbars Ingredient ListSince the stats were so good, I was excited to give try the Skout Trailbars to see how they matched up flavor wise.  First up was the Chocolate Coconut.

Skout Trailbar Chocolate CoconutAs a self-proclaimed lover of all things coconut, this bar was delicious!  I loved the fact that it didn’t taste overly sweet and had the perfect balance of chocolate and coconut.

The Englishman staked his claim on the Chocolate Peanut Butter bar but I still managed to sneak a taste.

Skout Trailbars Chocolate Peanut BUtterYou can’t go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter and this bar achieved the chocolate and peanut butter ratio perfectly.

When I went to try the Blueberry Almond flavor I was a bit worried the blueberry would be a bit too overwhelming

Skout trailbar Blueberry AlmondWhile there was definitely a distinct blueberry flavor to the bar, it wasn’t overpowering and was quite good.  I don’t normally gravitate towards blueberry-flavored bars, but I’d definitely get this one again.

Skout Trailbars Blueberry AlmondThe Cherry Vanilla was also good and was definitely better than the other bars I’ve tried with dried cherries in them.

Skout Trailbar Cherry VanillaThe last bar was the Apple Cinnamon flavor.  I have a complicated relationship with Apple Cinnamon combos (meaning I’m not quite sure if I like them or not) and while this bar wasn’t my fave, it definitely nailed the apple and cinnamon flavor perfectly, so if you are a fan of that flavor combo then I highly recommend it!

Skout Trailbars Apple CinnamonOverall I’m happy I got to try the Skout Trailbars!  I can see these bars as a great “travel” bar or an afternoon snack.  They are a little higher in carbohydrates than some other bars which is why they are perfect as post-workout fuel.  I had one after a 6 mile run and it was perfect.

Thanks Skout Natural for sending me the trailbars to try – I’ll definitely be adding these to my regular rotation.



Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream

The past week has been rough.  And when things get rough, I tend to crave comfort foods such as fresh chocolate chip cookies from the oven, a homemade roast chicken with mashed potatoes, even something as simple as scrambled eggs on toast.  But this time I found myself wanting vanilla ice cream.

coconut vanilla ice cream close upMy grandfather passed away last week after a debilitating stroke.  It’s been awhile since there has been a death in our family, so this hit all of us pretty hard.  I consider myself very lucky to have had as much time with him as I did, and I am thankful he got to meet my fiancée a couple of times as well.

One of my fondest memories of my grandfather was his love for ice cream.  He never had that much of a sweet tooth so you wouldn’t find him eating cookies, or cakes or brownies, but he loved a bowl of vanilla ice cream with some fruit on top after dinner.  And if it was the holiday season, then it would be peppermint ice cream.  My parents would joke that when he came to visit from Colorado they would need to get him his own carton of ice cream because he ate so much.

As luck would have it, one of my lovely friends recently gifted me with an ice cream maker for my birthday, so I decided to make my first ice cream a vanilla one in his honor.  Only I decided to change it up a bit and make a coconut vanilla ice cream instead.

This coconut vanilla ice cream is super easy to make and requires minimal ingredients.  Just coconut milk, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar.

Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream

coconut vanilla ice cream spoonIngredients:

3 cups coconut milk (I used Trader Joe’s brand)

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tbsp vanilla


Combine your coconut milk, powdered sugar and vanilla in a blender or food processor and pulse 2-3 minutes.  Pour your mixture into your ice cream maker and follow according to your manufacturer’s directions.

I have the Cuisinart Ice Cream maker so I left the mixture in the ice cream maker for 15 minutes.  Place your ice cream in the freezer for at least 6 hours so it can firm up a bit, and then enjoy.

coconut vanilla ice cream close upSince my grandfather loved to have fruit with his ice cream, I topped mine with fresh berries.  And although it wasn’t quite the same as the vanilla ice cream he always enjoyed, I think he would’ve really liked this.

Thanks for the recipe inspiration grandpa.  I will miss you.