Ample Review

Ample Review

My family and I went to the Zoo the other day with another family friend. In the middle of feeding parakeets and walking all the way to see the tigers, my buddy and I got into a conversation about meal replacement drinks (totally normal, right?). My buddy was telling me about one that he was going to try called Huel. I told him how funny because the other day I was thinking about Soylet and I wondered if there was some sort of Primal alternative to the Soylent type drink.

Zoo
Thanks to my Google Clips for capturing this moment

After we got home from the zoo I took a look at the one my buddy was talking about. Turns out it looks pretty good compared to Soylent, considering it’s not using soy for the protein source. Huel actually uses oats for it’s protein source. Now oats are definitely better than soy in terms of paleo/primal, but I wanted to look for something that truly caters to the paleo/primal crowd. After some googling I found this reddit post where people were talking about a product called Ample. I headed over to their site and read up on their ingredients and approach a little bit. As it turns out, Ample seems like the perfect paleo/primal option for a meal replacement type drink in the same vein as Soylent or Huel. So I reached out to the Ample team and they were more than willing to send me samples of their standard drink Ample and their Ample K geared towards Keto folks. So today we will be reviewing Ample and Ample K.

Ample Review

This review took some time (sorry Ample!) but I really wanted to approach both the Ample and Ample K as a true meal replacement and see how it fit into my daily routine. I’ll describe more below what I mean by that and compare this product to what I eat in a typical day. Therefore as always, we will be reviewing these drinks for: Nutritional Profile, Affordability and Taste. Let’s get to it!

Nutritional Profile

Ample Review
This product really reminds me of the guys that put together IQ Bars because the folks behind Ample really get nutrition and they put a ton of thought into their product. Ample started out on Indigogo in 2016 where they raised almost $400k to bring this dream into reality. They finished out as the #1 most funded Indiegogo food campaign of all time. Check out this video below describing how Ample came to be:

Now I could go on and list all their ingredients and whatnot but this other video they put together really tells the story on why they chose the ingredients they did for their product.

The ingredients Ample chose to use in their product are right in line with my primal goals. They use a real animal protein source, they aren’t afraid of fats and they keep the carbs relatively low – and even lower in their Ample K drink.

Ample Review

So how does this all actually fit in my lifestyle? A typical day day for me is as follows: I typically skip breakfast and carry over a fast from the night before until lunch around noon, then I eat dinner around 6:30–7pm. My first meal throughout the day is “lunch” (I put that in quotes because if I work from home that’s normally bacon and eggs – whereas when I’m in the office I don’t have the luxury of cooking bacon and eggs). My lunch at work though is normally a big salad tossed with olive oil and vinegar, a can of sardines, an avocado and some nori strips. So I wanted to compare the nutrition profile of my typical meal I eat at lunch with the Ample shake I’m replacing that meal with. Let’s take a look at how Ample compares to my typical lunch:

My Typical Lunch
Total Fat: 73g
Total Carbohydrate: 44g (Dietary Fiber 25g, Sugars 11g)
Protein: 35g
Ingredients: 1 container Wild Pacific Sardines In EVOO, 1 Avocado, 1 container Sweet Kale Salad No Dressing, 1 pack Roasted Seasoned Seaweed, 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

Ample (400 Calorie)
Total Fat: 21g
Total Carbohydrate: 25g (Dietary Fiber 10g, Sugars 4g)
Protein: 27g
Ingredients: Grass-fed whey protein concentrate, coconut oil, tapioca dextrin, macadamia nut oil, pea protein, organic psyllium husk, grass-fed hydrolyzed collagen protein, dried honey, organic sweet potato powder, acacia fiber, sunflower lectin, chicory root fiber, Zuvii green banana powder, organic wheatgrass, sea salt, organic cocoa powder, organic barley grass, natural flavor, omega–3 Chia seed extract, lemon juice powder, probiotic blend (L. Acidophilus, L. Paracasei, B. Lactis, B. Infantis, L. Rhamnosus, Bacillus Coagulans), cinnamon, organic chlorella, monk fruit extract, Stevia extract

Now I’m totally assuming the myfitnesspal.com database has all those numbers for my lunch correct. I’ve never taken the time to add up my typical lunch so it’s kinda surprising that I basically eat a 1000 calorie lunch with 70g fat and 19g net carbs. Who knew?! So comparing what I typically eat to the Ample 400 calorie shake is surprising because I would probably feel more full if I did the 600 calorie shake, which is an option. For the purpose of this review I drank this shake instead of my typical lunch to see how hungry I felt by my typical dinner time and how I generally felt in the afternoon.

Ample Review

What were the results? Well I started out the first week with the regular Ample, then I switched to the Ample K the following week. The first week with the regular Ample instead of my typical lunch was completely normal and fine. It kept me full on the days I swam in the morning before work and on the days I didn’t swim and did strength training instead. The only difference was on the days I swam I found myself hungry around 5pm and was ready to start cooking dinner. Whereas typically I eat around 6–7pm but only because my family needs to eat – not particularly because I’m starving.

The following week when I used Ample K (K for Keto) it kept me full just the same or maybe even fuller. I typically eat pretty high fat so the higher fat in the keto drink helped me out a bit. My diet swings from low carb primal to keto every now and then with the variation being that I eat more protein some days and other days not – the only constant is that I always eat high fat and low carb. So the only effect these very specific keto drinks had on me was that I found myself hungry around 6–7pm probably because of the keto amount of lowish protein. Just a theory and no data behind that since I swing with more protein some days and lower protein other days. Overall though the regular Ample and the Ample K sustained me through my normal morning fast, to being my lunch then all the way to dinner.

All in all the ingredients and nutritional profile of these shakes are pretty great. They contain quality animal proteins, low carbs, high fat, probiotics and prebiotics and just the right amount of sweetness. I really do like these shakes as an optional meal replacement, whatever meal that might be for you. I would just recommend that you take a look at what you typically eat to see if the 400 calorie or 600 calorie is right for you – and what’s better for your diet goals: the Ample or Ample K.

Affordability

Ample Review
This is where things get a little interesting. Why? because I’m not quite sure what to compare this to. Do you compare the affordability to my typical meal or to the other shakes or to McDonalds? Really it comes down to what you’re using Ample for. Are you trying to save money by drinking these instead of packing your own lunch everyday? Are you trying to use Ample as a convenience so you don’t have to make your lunch? The reason you’re using Ample will determine how affordable you think the product actually is. So let’s look at those two reasons: saving money and convenience.

My Typical Lunch
1 container Wild Pacific Sardines In EVOO ($1.88), 1 Avocado ($1), 1 container Sweet Kale Salad No Dressing ($1.50), 1 pack Roasted Seasoned Seaweed ($.75), 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($.25), 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar ($.25)
Estimated Total: $5.63

Ample (400 Calorie)
Price per bottle: $5.26 (subscription)
Price per 30 bottle quantity: $157.95 (subscription)
Link

Soylent Drink (400 Calorie)
Price per bottle: $2.69 (subscription)
Price per 36 bottles: $111.15 (subscription)
Link

Huel Powder (500 Calorie)
Price per meal: $2.12 (subscription)
Price per 28 meals (2 pouches): $59.40 (subscription)
Link

Drumroll! Let’s take a look at the results. At first glance of these numbers it’s like any price comparison I do between junk ingredients and real ingredients. Cheap ingredients mean a cheaper product (nutritionally and cost) and quality ingredients mean a more expensive product. Therefore, it should be of no surprise that my real food typical lunch and Ample are roughly the same cost, but drastically more expensive to products that are made with oats and soy. Why such a big price difference? Soy and oats are cheap to produce – and I should probably add that the fat these alternatives are using are cheap to produce too: sunflower oil and canola oil. Compare that to Ample where they use real animal protein and macadamia nut oil and coconut oil! It’s no wonder why Soylent is cheap and why Ample is almost $6.

Now the question comes down to like I said earlier: Are you trying to save money or are you trying to use Ample as a convenience? In my situation I wouldn’t be saving money by switching to Ample instead of my typical lunch – but I would be switching for convenience. Since I know I’m paying roughly the same amount for these bottles, albeit only 400 kcal compared to my typical lunch of 1000 kcal, I could see myself using Ample on those days that I’m literally too lazy to eat or if I’m too busy to eat my typical lunch. Totally an option that I would consider, however I would probably jump for the 600 kcal bottle so that it’s a little more in line with what I eat in a typical day.

Taste

Ample Review
Now onto how these powdered drinks taste. Drinking your lunch may not sound that appetizing but both of these Ample drinks tasted great overall and the experience was not that big of a deal. If you’re used to drinking protein shakes then you’ll have no problem drinking these – they’re just slightly thinker than a typical scoop of Primal Fuel.

Ample
I mixed this with water. It was slightly sweet and nutty. The sweetness I sense comes from the stevia. I described this to my friend that it sorta tastes like pancake batter. I know that sounds funny but it’s thick, sweet and kinda grainy. Overall it’s a pleasant taste though. I don’t mind drinking it and it’s not something that’s hard to drink because it tastes bad. With all the ingredients in this I give the makers props for making something that’s palatable to drink.

Ample K
Tastes pretty much the same as the regular Ample but slightly less sweet – understandably. It tastes a little more cinnamon flavored too. But again this is super easy to drink and isn’t nasty tasting. You don’t have to force yourself to drink it either. It’s just a super thick and foamy shake and also kinda tastes milky even though I’m not using milk.

Conclusion

I’m super stoked I found these guys and I really look forward to seeing this company grow and compete with the likes of Soylent and Huel. I love seeing products out there that use real animal protein and real fats – so thank you Ample for making such a great primal/paleo meal replacement drink!

Click here to order some Ample drinks for yourself

Sens Bar Review

Sens Bar

I have a weakness. It’s a weird weakness. Probably not one that a lot of people have. The weakness is that I love cricket flour protein bars. Ever since I first tried Exo and Chapul, I got hooked. Now there are all different brands popping up because apparently crickets are the future. The most recent brand I came across on Instagram was Sens Bars. I took a look at their products and man they looked tasty – and they offer 2 different kinds of cricket bars – we’ll get more into that in the review below.

But nevertheless, today I’d like to do another cricket bar review for you, brought to you by the good folks at Sens Bars. I reached out to them when I saw their products scrolling across my Instagram and they were more than willing to hook me up with some product to review (they actually sent me a ton of stuff, even this cool poster and tote!)

Sens Bar Poster

Sens Bar Tote

As always we will be reviewing these bars for: Nutritional Profile, Affordability and Taste. Let’s get to it!

Nutritional Profile

Sens Bar
What first caught my eye about these bars was the fact that they’re cricket flour based – yes – but then I checked out the nutritional facts and saw that they had 20g of protein (!) and a relatively low carb count! After I read a little further I realized that was exactly what they were trying to offer – a high protein, low carb bar and a bar that has lower protein with a little more sugar. This photo describes it well:

Sens Bar

So that’s exactly what they’re going for – Protein bars and Energy bars. Genius! Well let’s see how they stack up:

PROTEIN BAR Dark chocolate & sesame
Total Fat: 21.9g
Total Carbohydrate: 10.3g (Dietary Fiber 2.9g, Sugars 4.4g)
Protein: 20g
Ingredients: sesame (27 %), chocolate (21 %) (cacao powder 52%, cacao butter 48 %), cricket flour (Acheta Domestica) (20 %), hemp protein, agave nectar, sesame oil (4 %).

ENERGY BAR Dark chocolate & orange
Total Fat: 8.7g
Total Carbohydrate: 21g (Dietary Fiber 5.3g, Sugars 17.2g)
Protein: 7.7g
Ingredients: dates, cashews, chocolate (16 %) (cacao mass 69 %, cacao powder 31 %), cricket flour (Acheta Domestica) (10 %), psyllium, orange peel (2 %), orange essential oil (0.9 %)

Dare I say that the “Protein Bar” is the perfect combination of fat, carbs and protein?! Well it is pretty close. Both bars have pretty impressive macros actually, before we dive into the ingredients, let’s look at how these stack up against my favorite cricket protein bar Exo:

Exo Cocoa Nut
Total Fat: 20g
Total Carbohydrate: 23g (Dietary Fiber 7g, Sugars 13g)
Protein: 10g
Ingredients: Almonds, Dates, Coconut, Honey, Cricket Flour (Acheta Domesticus), Cacao Nibs, Cacao Powder, Ground Flaxseeds, Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt.

Sens Bar

Alright, now that we got all that laid out, let’s see what’s going on with the Sens Bar Protein Bar. The Protein Bar has a great amount of fat and DOUBLE the protein of Exo and HALF the carbs of Exo. That’s a pretty impressive nutritional profile. The only fault I would have (but isn’t even really a thing) is the little bit of sweetener they use in this bar is agave nectar. I would have preferred them use a tad of raw honey instead considering the benefits – but this is such a low amount of agave you’ll probably not even have any of the negative impacts of agave. Mark’s Daily Apple says this about agave nectar: “Agave nectar is insanely high in fructose. Of the sugar present, up to 92% of it is pure, unadulterated fructose. That’s considerably more than table sugar, most honey, and even high-fructose corn syrup. If we want to avoid fructose, agave nectar must also be avoided.”

Sens Bar

Just my two cents about the sweetener. The protein in this bar is obviously cricket flour, but then they use hemp protein to get it up to that 20g level. This is a great idea because hemp protein is a great plant based protein that’s pretty neutral in flavor and 20g of protein from the cricket flour alone may be a little much. The blend of different protein sources is a great idea to get it up to that 20g level.

The Sens Bar Energy bars are lower in protein and higher in carbs yes, but I think they’re a great alternative when you just need an afternoon pick up. And I do have to say, these bars taste way better than the Protein bars – which is obvious since the energy bars have more dates. I really really liked the Dark chocolate & orange Energy bar. These bars nutritionally are like a Larabar – but with protein – which I think is a pretty great idea. I always loved how Larabars taste but wished they they had something other than just a bunch of sugar. Sens bars hit the nail on the head with these bars by using the dates and nuts – but then adding the protein.

I really like what Sens bars did with these two bars: Protein bars and Energy bars. They offer you the choice of a bar that’s good for after a workout or for when you want to keep your carb count down, and the option of something more sweet if that’s what you’re looking for.

Affordability

Sens Bar
Now lets take a look at what these bars will cost you. The price on the Protein bar and the Energy bar are slightly different. Let’s take a look and see how their price compares to others.

PROTEIN BAR Dark chocolate & sesame
Price per bar: $3.17 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $37.99 (subscription)
Sens Bar Link

ENERGY BAR Dark chocolate & orange
Price per bar: $2.37 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $28.49 (subscription)
Sens Bar Link

Exo Cocoa Nut
Price per bar: $2.66 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $32.00 (subscription)
Exo Link

So these bars are right there in that sweet spot compared to Exo or other brands. Though the Protein bar is slightly higher price per bar I would consider it a steal when you consider that this is a true meal replacement for only $3. That beats trying to drink some Soylent as a meal replacement in my opinion – and Soylent is roughly the same cost, but you know… made with soy.

Sens Bar

As I’ve said before in regards to the price of these kinds of bars. You really get what you’re paying for. Sure you can eat a Nutrigrain bar for $1 or less thats filled with junk and sugar, or you can eat a whole food packed with Omega 3s for slightly more money. I prefer the whole food Omega 3 option. At $2.50-$3 I consider Sens bars a great option and price point.

Taste

Sens Bar
Now to the taste! This is where it all comes together, or falls apart. Overall I liked the taste of the Energy bars more than the Protein bars. Let’s see how each one tasted specifically:

Sens Bar

PROTEIN BAR Dark chocolate & sesame
Slightly dry and crumbly and a very dark chocolate taste. Hint of sesame. This is the first bar I tasted where I can slightly distinguish the taste of the cricket flour. Their packaging says cricket flour isn’t something you can taste, but because I’ve eaten straight cricket flour before – the taste was familiar to me. I wouldn’t consider that a bad thing necessarily considering you’re getting 20g of protein. It’s a necessary part of this high protein low carb cricket bar.

PROTEIN BAR Peanut butter & cinnamon
I like the flavor of this higher protein bar more than the dark chocolate one. The cinnamon really helps balance out the cricket flour/non sweet taste. I really think of these two bars as a functional supplement protein – meaning I wouldn’t necessarily grab for it when I’m kinda hungry and want a snack. I would grab for it when I want a true meal replacement and 20g of protein. It does the job but the other two bars are a more pleasant taste and experience.

ENERGY BAR Dark chocolate & orange
This bar is amazing! Just enough sweetness. Just the right texture. I love things with orange and orange peel so this bar was right on. By far my most favorite bar. I like having the option of being able to pick a high protein bar or another bar that’s slightly sweeter and less protein for more of a snack. I will be ordering more of these bars.

ENERGY BAR Pineapple & coconut
This bar was great too. It really reminded me of the coconut cream Larabar with a pineapple taste. Very good texture and great coconut taste. Very satisfying for that afternoon pickup or snack at Disneyland. I really liked the flavor of this bar too.

I like having the option of the snack via the energy bar or a meal replacement via the protein bar. Very cool concept and I think they execute it very well. The only suggestion I would have to improve the taste with the protein bars is by making them sweeter. I know this sounds counterintuitive since we’re trying to keep the carbs down but this can be accomplished by using stevia or erythritol or something. Just a little ever so slightly more sweeter would help balance out the taste in my opinion. Still though I love all the bars and will be ordering more.

Conclusion

Sens Bar
Thank you Sens bars for sending me samples! I thoroughly enjoyed them and the other goodies. I love that there are growing options for alternative protein bars out there. We need more of this kind of thinking and products being introduced since the shelves at the stores are filled with high sugar high carb junk – and because crickets are the future. I encourage you to go buy some Sens bars right now and see for yourself how you like them. Thanks for reading!

For 20% off use this discount code: PRIMALSENS
Click here to order some Sens bars

IQ Bar Review

IQ Bar Review

I’m always on the lookout for a good energy bar. I’ve written about many great bars I’ve found over the last couple years ranging from cricket protein bars like Exo or Chapul, or egg white protein bars like RXBARs, or even typical animal protein bars like Wilde. There are so many bars coming out nowadays that are geared towards Whole30/Paleo/Primal people and it can be pretty exhausting to decide on which bar to spend your money on. The most recent bar I saw when I was on Instagram was actually for a crowdfunding campaign for a bar call IQ Bar.

IQ Bar Review

The image and description grabbed my attention so I quickly went over to their page to read all about these new bars. What I read really intrigued me so I immediately reached out to the owner to see if I could do a review of their bars and he was more than willing!

As always we will be reviewing these bars for: Nutritional Profile, Affordability, Taste. Let’s get to it!

Nutritional Profile

IQ Bar Review
Now when it comes to what these bars are composed of, these guys really get it. I can’t even attempt to go into the science of exactly how great these bars myself, because their crowdfunding page really breaks down the nutritional information for each of these bars and what their goals were. In a nutshell it’s this: too many bars are full of sugar that lead you to a sugar crash not too long after you eat them – but IQ Bars are low carb/high fat (YES!) that will provide you with enough energy without the sugar crash to follow. Please turn your attention to their video that explains their bars and goals in more detail:

So these bars sound pretty great right? That’s because they are. The problem I have with all the Larabar or Nutri-Grain type bars is that there is just way too much sugar and not enough fat! We need more fat, and that’s what these bars provide – more fat and less sugar. One thing to notice about these particular bars that’s different from the rest of the bars I’ve reviewed is that they’re not “protein” bars. That’s ok though because that’s not their market – their market is to go against what I just mentioned was the high carb/low fat bars. So if you’re in need of protein in addition to these bars maybe hit up a hard boiled egg or something.

IQ Bar Review

Let’s take a look at the highlights of these bars nutritional breakdown as listed on their site:

IQ Bars are the first and only nutrition bars optimized for the brain. They’re drastically different than other bars for three main reasons:

  1. IQ Bars are low in net carbs (~8g/bar), high in healthy fats, and packed with 5 brain-critical nutrients.
  2. Our ingredient list is short, and contains 100% all-natural inputs. No ingredients that start with “X”!
  3. IQ Bars comply with vegan, Paleo, Whole 30, low-carb, and kosher diets, and have ZERO grains, gluten, GMO’s, dairy, soy, or added sugar.

Now these are just the highlights of the nutrition in these bars, they have even more complex science on their indiegogo page that goes way more into detail of why low carb/high fat is the preferred nutritional profile for our bodies. I’ve written about how this fits into my primal lifestyle here as well.

IQ Bar Review

Let’s look at IQ Bar Blueberry Walnut compared to say a Larabar and something even worse like a Nutri-Grain bar:

IQ Bar Blueberry Walnut
Total Fat: 14g
Total Carbohydrate: 21g (Dietary Fiber 12g, Sugars 8g)
Protein: 4g
Ingredients: Blueberries, Walnuts, Coconut Flakes, Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Dates, Cacao Nibs, Cacao Powder, Chia Seeds, Chicory Root Fiber, Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Larabar Blueberry Muffin
Total Fat: 8g
Total Carbohydrate: 26g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 17g)
Protein: 4g
Ingredients: Dates, Cashews, Unsweetened Blueberries, Blueberry Juice Concentrate, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Vanilla Extract.

Nutri-Grain Blueberry
Total Fat: 3g
Total Carbohydrate: 24g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 12g)
Protein: 2g
Ingredients: Filling (High Fructose Corn Syrup, Blueberry Preserves [High Fructose Corn Syrup, Blueberries], Corn Syrup, Glycerin, Fructose, Sugar, Maltodextrin, Water, Natural and Artificial Blueberry Flavor, Modified Corn Starch, Sodium Alginate, Calcium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Soy Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Modified Cellulose, Sodium Citrate, Malic Acid, Red No. 40, Blue No. 1), Enriched Wheat Flour, Whole Oats, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Honey, Calcium Carbonate, Dextrose, Nonfat Dry Milk, Wheat Bran, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Leavening (Potassium Bicarbonate), Natural and Artificial Vanilla Flavor, Soy Lecithin, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Zinc Oxide, Reduced Iron, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin A Palmitate, Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1) and Folic Acid.

Now looking at just those labels really tells a story. What do we see? Well, we see IQ Bars are far superior nutritionally to the alternatives. Larabars have one thing going for them and that’s that they use real food and their ingredients aren’t weird, but they will still leave you possibly with a sugar crash after you have one. Then if you look at the Nutri-Grain bar it’s absolutely embarrassing. They’re just full of sugar, a ton of ingredients and low fat. Their own website even prides themselves on how low fat they are: Kellogg’s nutri-grain cereal bars, blueberry is made up of low fat, whole grain oats, naturally and artificially flavored. All that really means is “these bars will leave you with a sugar crash after eating this low fat snack bar”.

To really sum it up for the nutritional aspect of these bars is that they’re far superior to anything sold in the stores today on the “energy bar” shelves and I can’t wait to see these in stores all over the country (or world).

Affordability

IQ Bars
Now I normally compare products to one another based on their affordability but that’s kinda hard to do this time around because these bars are only available on their crowdfunding pages. I will list the prices here just for consistency with the other reviews I’ve done, but maybe once these bars are more commercially available (hopefully!) I’ll come back and update this section.

IQ Bar Blueberry Walnut
Price per bar: $2.66 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $32.00 (subscription)
Ingiegogo Link

Larabar Blueberry Muffin
Price per bar: $0.99
Price per 16 bar box: $15.99
Amazon Link

Nutri-Grain Blueberry
Price per bar: $0.25
Price per 48 bar box: $12.00
Amazon Link

Ok now obviously the alternative is going to be cheaper but you know what? The 12 bar box price of the IQ Bars is exactly the same as my favorite protein bars Exo:

Exo Cocoa Nut
Price per bar: $2.66 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $32.00 (subscription)
Exo Link

Sooo, that gives me hope that when the IQ Bars are commercially available I’ll have no problem justifying the cost since I’m already acustom to paying that much for a quality product that will sustain me for hours on end.

Why are the other bars so cheap you might ask? Good question and one I’ve answered in other reviews but it’s simple really – you’re paying for quality, real, whole food ingredients. Nutri-Grain bars are cheap because they use grains and corn syrup. Larabars are getting down there in cost even though they use great ingredients because they’re more widely available, driving cost down I’m sure, and because their ingredients aren’t particularly expensive either. Albeit Larabars’ ingredients aren’t as inexpensive as Nutri-Grain’s ingredients – their ingredients are the cheap of the cheap.

Taste

IQ Bar Review
I’m so stoked that Will was able to send me some samples so I could really get a taste of what these bars have to offer. There are two things about IQ Bars that really stuck out and that I love: They’re not too sweet and they’re satiating. Which is the whole point. The perfect dose of fat to get you through an afternoon or morning, and low enough carbs to not give you a sugar crash. Now onto the taste!

Matcha Hazelnut
IQ Bar Matcha Hazelnut
Very strong coconut flavor at the beginning. Then you get used to it and start noticing the other flavors. Super chewy and didn’t hurt my jaw. Thank you God. I love RXBARs but literally my jaw is sore after I eat them. Not with these though. The texture was on point and the flavor was subtle but pleasant. Not too sweet but just enough little hint of sweetness for me. A little matcha at the end lingers in your mouth. Nice random chunks of hazelnut too that gave the bar a nice crunch.

Almond Cacao
IQ Bar Almond Cacao
Very nice chocolatey taste. Good texture with larger random almond chunks. Not too sweet, just the right amount of sweetness for me. Reminded me of just a really good chocolate cookie that was barely sweetened. Definitely left me feeling full after eating it. Subtle coconut flavor too in there.

Blueberry Walnut
IQ Bar Blueberry walnut
This one was probably my favorite. It has a very strong blueberry flavor, obviously. But not too overpowering. All these bars have the same level of sweetness, which I love. The flavor actually really reminded me of the flavor of the blueberry Exo bar albeit less sweet and less crickety flour taste. This bar really was satiating.

Conclusion

Conclusion
I see a near future where my pantry is full of boxes of my favorite protein bar Exo and my new next favorite energy bar IQ Bars. Allowing me the option of getting a more rounded meal replacement with Exo or allowing me to get a dose of long lasting energy via IQ Bars. I suggest you go back these IQ Bars right now while you still have the chance and like I’ve said multiple times I can’t wait until I can pick a giant pack of these up at Costco. Thanks Will for giving me a sneak peek at these amazing energy bars!

Click here to order some IQ Bars

Freshly Review

Freshly

Posts have been lacking on the blog for a while now. The reason being is that my family has been growing pretty rapidly over the last few years. I feel like I just wrote this post when we had our second daughter. Now my wife and I just had our third daughter! So it’s without saying that our hands have been pretty full lately! Now, we planned pretty well this time for when we had our daughter to have enough food in the house for easy meals but family wanted to help out in providing food for us, specifically my Mom. My Mom wanted to help us out someway by providing food and making our hands less full. So recently I’ve been considering subscription models for meat or vegetables – but all those still required cooking, which was what I was trying to avoid for the past month or so while we were trying to figure out how to feed 3 kids and ourselves!

Freshly
So my wife brought up maybe having my Mom put money towards Freshly. I immediately went over to their site to check out their meals and how they worked. Turns out the price is pretty reasonable if you have a coupon code and the ingredients are pretty spot on for accommodating our primal meal tastes. Now I will get into later how these aren’t exactly Primal compliant but the alternative was us going out to eat or picking up something else with worse ingredients – and one can only eat so much Chipotle or In N Out protein style burgers before going insane. It’s all about balance.

Freshly

So you may be wondering what the heck Freshly even is? So the basic idea is described on their website as follows:

  1. You choose your meals from Freshly’s constantly rotating weekly menu of over 30 different gluten-free options.
  2. Freshly cooks and delivers all of your meals that are prepared and cooked by Freshly chefs and delivered fresh – never frozen.
  3. Then you enjoy the fully prepared, healthy meals that are ready in under 3 minutes. The only thing you need to do is enjoy.

So I still want to treat this like a product review because that’s what Freshly is – a product. That means I want to look at the three typical categories: Nutritional Profile, Affordability and Taste.

Nutritional Profile

Freshly
There’s a bunch of different meals you get to choose from and have delivered each week, but for the sake of this review I’ll just mention a few. Overall though, their meals are described as “gluten free, packed with protein, free from refined sugars and all natural”. Let’s look at the nutritional profile of one my favorites:

Braised Rosemary Pork with Sautéed Kale and Roasted Red Potatoes
Total Fat: 24g
Total Carbohydrate: 32g (Dietary Fiber 5g, Sugars 7g)
Protein: 33g
Ingredients: Pork (Pork, Pork Glace (Water, Pork Bones, Carrots, Celery, Onions, Tomato Paste, Spices) Sea Salt, Black Pepper), Carrots, Potatoes, Kale, Tomatoes (Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Citric Acid), Water, Onion, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Chablis, Chicken Stock (Chicken Broth, Natural Flavors, Mirepoix Stock (Carrot, Onion and Celery Juices), Gelatin, White Wine), Celery, Tomato Paste (Tomatoes, Citric Acid), Garlic, Bacon (Pork, Water, Salt, Sugar, Celery Powder, Natural Flavor), Chicken Fat, Cassava Flour, Sea Salt, Spices, Rice Flour, Nutritional Yeast.

Icons

Looking at the listing of this meal on their site they also have these cool little icons that indicate that the meal is: Low Carb, High Protein, Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Soy Free (and occasionally they’ll have some meals listed as Paleo). This one probably isn’t indicated as “Paleo” because it has potatoes in it, even though Potatoes are pretty much Paleo and Whole30 now adays.

Now a quick breeze over all these ingredients in this meal look pretty spot on and honestly this meal is near perfect. I could virtually live off of these meals indefinitely if I could afford it consistently. However there is one main ingredient in pretty much every one of their meals, including the ones labeled as Paleo. What ingredient is that: Expeller Pressed Canola Oil. Apart from this one ingredient these meals are perfectly primal and paleo. What’s wrong with canola oil you ask? Well I could write a whole post on it but I’d rather just have you read this article and this article and this article. The gist of it is that it’s a highly processed oil derived from rapeseed that goes through a bunch of weird processes like being degummed, bleached and deodorized. You can watch the process of it in this youtube video.

Ok but that’s what’s wrong with regular canola oil, but these meals contain expeller pressed canola oil. What’s the difference? Well expeller pressed means it doesn’t go through all those weird chemical processes, it’s just pressed (put simply). But that doesn’t change the fact that this oil is high in “heart healthy (omega–6) fats” aka polyunsaturated fats, which means it’s more susceptible to oxidation than say saturated fat. That’s why saturated fat is good for you because it has less of an opportunity to oxidize – saturated fat is more stable.

Ok but what does that mean for these meals and why am I still eating them you ask? Because. Everything else about these meals is perfect and a little expeller pressed canola oil is better than the alternative. It’s a worthy trade off for the convenience. The alternative is that I go out to eat Chipotle or In N out or … Pizza Hut. Seriously, a little canola oil in these meals won’t kill me – I have more of a chance of dying in a car accident than a little canola oil in these amazing convenient tasty meals.

However, if someone at Freshly is reading this please take this to heart: please stop using canola oil and switch to something more healthy like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, lard, tallow or red palm oil.

The rest of their meals vary in carb/fat/protein content slightly but you can just find the meal that fits your macro goals. You’re able to select what your restrictions are and they will tell you what meals fit within your restrictions. All their meals are gluten free, but say you don’t like turkey (which my wife and I don’t) you can tell them that and they will indicate which meals have turkey in them.

Affordability

Freshly
Figuring out how much these cost is kind of weird because there are always promotions and deals. Like this one if you sign up with our referral link you can get 6 dinners for $39. Their standard prices can be found here and for the sake of this review I’ll review their standard prices since there are always promotions and it would be too hard to rate them off their promo price.

Their standard prices are as follows:

  • 4 Meals per week: $49.99 ($12.50/meal)
  • 6 Meals per week: $59.99 ($9.99/meal)
  • 9 Meals per week: $89.99 ($9.99/meal)
  • 12 Meals per week: $107.99 ($8.99/meal)

All the meals include free shipping so you don’t have to worry about that. So how do these stack up? You’re obviously paying for convenience – and in this season of our lives with a newborn and 2 other kids we needed the convince. Let’s take the 6 meals a week plan and compare because that’s the plan my wife and I use. 6 meals a week worked out for us because we do a bible study throughout the week where each one of us is left home with the kids for one night by ourselves so having this on those nights is especially helpful. That’s where 2 meals are used (4 for both of us) then the other 2 are eaten on Thursday or we freeze them for another day (you can freeze them and they will reheat just as well, you just have to add an extra minute). Then typically we make food or go out to eat the other times. Fridays or the weekends we like to make ribs or some other thing on the BBQ. Just a note, we don’t feed our kids these meals, it’s just enough portion size for us to eat and we normally feed them leftover meat, berries and pouches.

Compare $9.99 a meal to going out to eat. You can get a pizza for $10 and feed the whole family sure. But a better comparison would be to the alternative that we would eat if we didn’t have these meals. If we didn’t get a chance to cook and we needed something primal and fast we would go to the standard Paleo option: Chipotle. So how does my typical Chipotle order stack up against a $9.99 meal from Freshly?

Chipotle Bowl
2x Carnitas ($2.70 extra), White Rice, No Beans, Guacamole, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Sour Cream, Fajita Veggies, Cheese and Romaine Lettuce.
Total: $13.25

You could even take away the double meat and it would still come out to $10.34. Therefore I really think Freshly at their standard price of $9.99 a meal is a great deal. It’s good food with a great amount of convenience. Sure you could bust out a super cheap dinner for your family with some roasted veggies and carnitas or something – or heck even make a homemade chipotle bowl yourself and I’m sure it would come out cheaper that $9.99 (only by a little) – but that’s not convenient. I think $9.99 a meal is a great price for their convince of just having to warm them up and then sitting down and eating a meal in less than 5 minutes.

Taste

Freshly
Normally when you think of pre-made meals it conjures up ideas of gross frozen meals and lean cuisines – but know that Freshly is fresh not frozen and their not tasteless/saltless like the majority of precooked meals out there. My wife and I have tried several meals from Freshly now and to be honest all of them taste great! Let’s take a look at a few meals I’ve eaten and how they taste.


Photo courtesy of freshly.com
Braised Rosemary Pork with Sautéed Kale and Roasted Red Potatoes
Like I said this one is my favorite and the one I continue to order each week. The kale is steamed with some sort or tomatoes and bacon and such and it really makes a steamed leafy green approachable if you don’t normally eat them. The pork is hearty and full of flavor and goes great with the little bit of potatoes and carrots.


Photo courtesy of freshly.com
Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
This one was probably my least favorite. Normally I love spaghetti squash as a replacement for noodles. Even more than julienned zucchini as I’ve written about here. But this meal was my least favorite because I wish there was more sauce. There was only a little amount of sauce with this dish, almost like it was a mistake. The meatballs were great and gluten free – which normally doesn’t happen often. All together everything tasted great, I just with there was a little more sauce or maybe I just eat really large portion sizes normally.


Photo courtesy of freshly.com
Buffalo Chicken Breast with Loaded Cauliflower
This one was really cool to try, the flavor was really good with the buffalo sauce. The mashed cauliflower was amazing (if you do dairy, as there was a little dairy in the mixture I think). The only negative on this one for me was the gluten free breaded chicken – because you’re microwaving these and essentially steaming them, you can’t ever get a crispy texture on breading. So while the chicken was good, the breading texture wasn’t great.

Conclusion

First off, thank you Mom for buying these for us! They most definitely came in handy when we needed them most and they fit our dietary restrictions (aside from the canola oil) and most importantly – they tasted great! We liked them so much that after my Mom gifted these to us, we’re still buying them ourselves to have on hand while my wife and I are in this busy season of our lives. It’s nice to have the convenience for a few days out of the week.

As I pointed out earlier as well, if someone at Freshly is reading this please take this to heart: please stop using canola oil and switch to something more healthy like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, lard, tallow or red palm oil.

I suggest everyone try them out even if you’re slightly intrigued and needing the convenience. Like I said if you sign up with our referral link you can get 6 dinners for $39. Check it out and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

Awhile back I reviewed Exo and Chapul, cricket flour based protein bars, and compared the two since they both were very similar product offerings. At the time I had harsh words to say about Chapul because they had way too much sugar, barely any fat and a minimal amount of protein. Here is a quote from my last review:

Chapul has very little fat since there are no nuts and coconut. Therefore leaving the Chapul bar a very high carb snack that will leave you with with a sugar crash quickly after consuming it.

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

You can read the full review here, but that all sounds pretty terrible for Chapul. However, I was recently contacted by a Chapul representative and was told that they’ve taken in a bunch of feedback from customers and critics and have totally reformulated their recipes to contain more protein and less sugar. I was told that the changes were made to improve the nutritional benefits of the bars and to follow consumer health trends. That was the pitch I was told, so let’s take a closer look at how these bars have reinvented themselves and to see if they’ve redeemed themselves in my eyes from being a low fat, high sugar, low protein bar!

As always we will be reviewing these reformulated bars for: Nutritional Profile, Affordability, Taste. Let’s get to it!

Nutritional Profile

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

Now this is where the rubber meets the road, or the cricket meets the… grass? Bad joke sorry. Ok so they sent me their sampler pack which has one of each of their bars. I’ve listed below the new nutritional profiles for each of their bars:

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

Chapul Matcha Green Tea & Banana
Total Fat: 10g
Total Carbohydrate: 14g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 8g)
Protein: 10g
Ingredients: Coconut Nectar, Chapul Protein Blend (Chapul Cricekt Flour[Brown Crickets, Acheta Domesticus], Pea Protein, Rice Protein), Almond Butter, Tahini, Dried Bananas, Date Paste, *Sesame Seeds, Pea Protein Crisps, Green Tea Extract, Matcha Tea Powder, Vanilla Extract, Natural Banana Flavor, Salt, Monk Fruit Extract. *Organic

Chapul Chaco: Peanut Butter & Chocolate
Total Fat: 13g
Total Carbohydrate: 15g (Dietary Fiber 5g, Sugars 8g)
Protein: 10g
Ingredients: Coconut Nectar, Peanuts, Date Paste (Chapul Cricket Flour[Brown Crickets, Acheta Domesticus], Pea Protein, Rice Protein), Cocoa Powder, Sunflower Butter, Cacao Nibs, Salt, Vanilla Extract, Monk Fruit Extract. *Organic

Chapul Thai: Coconut & Ginger with Lime
Total Fat: 15g
Total Carbohydrate: 15g (Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 9g)
Protein: 11g
Ingredients: Coconut Nectar, Date Paste, Sunbutter, Almond Butter, Almond Pieces, Chapul Protein Blend (Chapul Cricekt Flour[Brown Crickets, Acheta Domesticus], Pea Protein, Rice Protein), Coconut Flakes, Powdered Ginger, Vanilla Extract, Salt, Monk Fruit Extract, Lime Oil. *Organic

Chapul Aztec: Dark Chocolate, Coffee & Cayenne
Total Fat: 10g
Total Carbohydrate: 18g (Dietary Fiber 6g, Sugars 9g)
Protein: 10g
Ingredients: Sunbutter, Coconut Nectar, Date Paste, Chapul Protein Blend (Chapul Cricket Flour[Brown Crickets, Acheta Domesticus], Pea Protein, Rice Protein), Cocoa Powder, Cocao Nibs, Pea Protein Crisps, Coffee Grounds, Vanilla Extract, Salt, Ground Cinnamon, Ground Nutmeg, Cayenne Powder, Monk Fruit Extract. *Organic

Ok so that’s a lot to look at but I wanted to get each bars new formulation listed here so we can take a look at a few things. I want to see how this new formula stacks up to their old formula and how it stacks up to my all time favorite primal protein bar: Exo. First let’s take a look at what they’ve done new here. Here is their old formula from my previous review of the Chapul Aztec: Dark Chocolate, Coffee & Cayenne bar:

Chapul Aztec

Old Chapul Aztec: Dark Chocolate, Coffee & Cayenne
Total Fat: 2g
Total Carbohydrate: 36g (Dietary Fiber 7g, Sugars 25g)
Protein: 5g
Ingredients: Organic Dates, Cocoa, Chapul Cricket Flour (Brown Cricket, Acheta Domestica), Organic Espresso Roast Coffee Beans, Cayenne.

WOW. First off congratulations to Chapul for seriously changing up the nutritional profile of these bars. Honestly, this is a pretty substantial change. Just looking at the fat, carbs and protein what do we see? First off this is no longer a low fat bar. This bar now has a pretty substantial amount of fat in it which will be good for your fat burning beast energy needs. Second we see the carbs drop WAY down from 36g to 16g. Amazing they cut it in half, with now only 9g of sugar per bar. That’s pretty great. Third is the protein… Now by the numbers this is great, they’ve doubled the protein from 5g to 10g. How did they go about doing this? Well, by the ingredients you can now see they’re doing a “Chapul Protein Blend” which is Cricket Flour, Pea Protein and Rice Protein. When I first saw this I reached out to Chapul and asked why they made this change and they said they “added a blend of other protein sources to increase the protein and the taste of our products.” It would’ve been nice to see these bars use 100% cricket protein for their protein source but I see the reasons they incorporated this blend – also I’m sure it’s cheaper to use a blend like this instead of pure cricket flour which helps brings the cost of the bars down or improves their profit margins.

Now let’s see how this new recipe compares to my all time favorite protein bar by Exo:

Exo Cocoa Nut

Exo Cocoa Nut
Total Fat: 20g
Total Carbohydrate: 23g (Dietary Fiber 7g, Sugars 13g)
Protein: 10g
Ingredients: Almonds, Dates, Coconut, Honey, Cricket Flour (Acheta Domesticus), Cacao Nibs, Cacao Powder, Ground Flaxseeds, Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt.

What I love about Exo is they taste great, have 10g of protein, have a good amount of fat to sustain your energy needs and are relatively low in sugar. Chapul’s new recipe however almost gives my favorite Exo bar a run for it’s money! It doesn’t have nearly as much fat but it’s still a great improvement from before. The protein is matched at 10g granted it’s now a blend instead of pure cricket flour like Exo – but it has fewer carbs and sugar than Exo. Definitely a worthy competitor to my favorite Exo bar.

All of these bars have varying ingredients like ginger and coffee and matcha to get those variations in the bar flavors, but I like how they’ve added more nuts and seeds to each of their bars. I like the sunflower butter and almond butter additions to these bars to bring up their fat content. Also the fact that they add in Monk fruit is a good way to make the bars still taste sweet while keeping them low in sugar. Kudos Chapul.

Overall, great job Chapul on the new recipes!

Affordability

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

New Chapul Aztec: Dark Chocolate, Coffee & Cayenne
Price per bar: $2.55 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $30.60 (subscription)

Old Chapul Aztec: Dark Chocolate, Coffee & Cayenne
Price per bar: $2.83
Price per 12 bar box: $34.00

Exo Cocoa Nut
Price per bar: $2.66 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $32.00 (subscription)

There really isn’t too much to say here regarding price. They stack up more or less the same to a bar this quality. I’ve included their pricing from my previous review because I think they now have a subscription model like Exo which brings their price per bar down. I haven’t seen the price of these in my local health food store but they may be slightly cheaper there especially if they’re on sale.

As I’ve said before, I’m willing to pay almost $3 per bar for something like this because it’s a pretty substantial snack. It’s not just some high carb-no protein-low fat bar like Nutrigrain bars or something. You’re going to have to pay slightly more for a bar made with real food – and I’m ok with that.

Taste

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

With these new recipes these really are brand new bars. Granted they have the same names, they have so many different ingredients that I was really excited to see how they taste. I ate these over the course of a week so I could eat it after working out and swimming and see how long it kept me satiated, as well as really getting a sense of what each bar tastes like. I didn’t want to just bite a piece off of each and tell you how they kinda taste. And just to get it out of the way, no, none of these bars had cricket legs or antennas in them. The crickets are not noticeable. Specifically because it’s a powder/flour from ground up crickets. If you’ve never had a bar made out of crickets, you should try these bars. It’s not a big deal. Now that we got the cricket thing out of the way. Let’s see what each bar tastes like:

Chapul Matcha Green Tea & Banana
You really taste the banana in this bar. It has a nice crunch from the sesame seeds and pea protein crisps but the texture is kind of grainy for some reason? I’m not exactly sure why. The bar is significantly sweeter than the others. I do like the taste though, it just really leaves a banana taste in your mouth. So if you don’t like bananas probably stay away from this bar. I like bananas though so I really enjoyed this bar.

Chapul Chaco: Peanut Butter & Chocolate
This one is more chocolatey than it is peanut butterey. Very filling bar. Though peanut putter isn’t Paleo, I still enjoyed this bar very much. It has a little bit of a crunch with the bits of peanut pieces. This bar was slightly more chewy than the others but that may be because it was a colder day when I ate it. If I left this in my car on a warm day I imagine it would be very soft and gooey. Mmm.

Chapul Thai: Coconut & Ginger with Lime
This one is probably my second favorite bar. It has a really good ginger taste at first and then and once you start chewing you really taste the coconut. The texture of this bar is good, it doesn’t have too much crunch nor is it too grainy. I really like the taste of this one, there isn’t one flavor that’s too overpowering which I like. All the flavors go together very well including the hint of lime.

Chapul Aztec: Dark Chocolate, Coffee & Cayenne
This one is probably my most favorite bar. I really like the taste. Just a little hint of the cayenne. Definitely more filling with the seed butter. Nice texture not too chewy. Similar texture to a Larabar. You can taste the crunch of the crisps and some coffee bean flakes.

Conclusion

I really think Chapul has a done a great job at improving the nutritional profile of their bars while still tasting amazing and I’m so glad they took the time to reach out to me and let me know they reformulated their bars. To be honest I kind of wrote them off in my mind because I was never too excited to eat a 36g carb protein bar with low fat and low protein. So thank you Chapul for the samples, reaching out to me and for reinventing your cricket protein bars!

Buy some samples and decide for yourself:*
Chapul Sampler Pack
*After you figure out which flavor of Chapul you like I suggest you sign up for a subscription.
Buy some Exo too to compare yourself

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review