Ambronite…A Whole Food Drinkable Supermeal?

A few weeks ago I was at an event where I had struck up a conversation with a guy in commercial real estate. In typical “getting to know you” conversation, he asked me what I did, and I told him I am a dietitian. The first thing out of his mouth, surprisingly, was not “I need your help” or “Can you make me a meal plan”…instead it was, “Have you heard of Ambronite?” Needless to say, I had not, but I made a mental note to myself to look it up on Google when I got home later that evening.

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Ambronite is essentially a drinkable supermeal. What makes it so super is that 3-4 servings of this nutritional drink is intended to supply all of the body’s daily needs. Each drink is 500 calories and is considered a full meal. The drink is made with 20 ingredients, all organic, including everything from the ever popular spinach, almonds, walnuts and coconuts to the less known supplements spirulina, chlorella, maca and sea buckthorn berry. I agree that all of the ingredients in this drink are high in plant based protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

photo 3Ambronite is based off of the Greek word “Ambrosia”, which means “food of the Gods.”

So food of the Gods, eh? The ingredient list would make one think so. This is probably one of the best meal replacement ingredient lists I have seen in a long time. All pronounceable ingredients. All real foods.

Well, after reading up a bit on this product, my curiosity got the best of me and I emailed the company at their Facebook page. They agreed to send me a sample, but since they are based in Europe, it would take a couple weeks. I waited patiently.

My sample arrived today and I was more than pleased. I had initially thought when I asked for a sample, they would send me an envelope with one serving of Ambronite to try. I was shocked to open the box and find 10 samples and a shaker, plus the nutrition facts sheet (which I did expect to be in the package). Each of these drinks is worth 10 dollars, so that is a pretty generous sampling if you ask me. Bonus points there.

photo 5The point of this drinkable super meal is to be able to have a meal on the go that leaves you feeling energized and satisfied for several hours without the hassle of having to sit down and take the time to eat. The guy in real estate I had met told me he had these drinks on hand for days when he had a ton of work to do and eating “got in the way” of other things he needed to get done.

Today was a busy day for me so I figured I would have one of these meal replacements for lunch. I filled the bottle with cold water as directed and poured the powder in and headed out on my way. There is a lot of powder in each container (so many minerals take up a lot of room!) So be mindful of that when you are filling the shaker and be sure to shake it well.

photo 1So…again, the point of these meal replacement shakes is to replace a meal and make you feel satisfied. If you can focus on that point, you are good to go. They definitely do make your body feel satisfied. I had mine at 2pm and I was satisfied until about 5pm. Some people might be satisfied longer, but I had worked out a few hours prior, so that is another thing to keep in mind…if you are an active person, it is not going to tide you over more than 3 hours.

I know, I know…you want to know about the taste. Well…sigh…

There is spinach and almonds and walnuts in there, it should taste pretty good, right? Right?

I have to be honest…the taste is like…licking a wood chip shaving. I am sorry Ambronite. Functional, you are…delicious…no.

I had a very hard time finishing this supplement and think it might actually taste more palatable if you added a little stevia, or honey, or some kind of sweetener. While I totally get that this is meant to just be functional, most people don’t want to put 500 calories of “meh” down their throat.

I also noticed on their Instagram page that people use the powder in recipes, so that might be another good idea to use some of the powder in something else.

So, for 10 packets for $99, would I suggest you go out and buy Ambronite? If you are a person who can look at food as strictly functional and need to just put something down your pie hole at a given time to quiet hunger pangs, then yes. If food “gets in the way” of your every day life, this might also do the trick for you. But if you actually like the taste of real food and think you would feel cheated with a tasteless, high caloric drink as a meal and would end up binging later, this is not going to be an option for you.

UPDATE

After I wrote this blog, I contacted the customer service at Ambronite and gave them my honest thoughts on the product. They were content with my honesty and told me that they were concerned people would prefer a sweet or salty taste so they wanted to keep the flavor as neutral as possible and give the customers of Ambronite the chance to decide how they want the drink to taste by adding their favorite milk or juice or creating their own recipes, a few of which can be found here. They also welcome people to come up with their own recipes to share with the company, so that may be my next challenge!!

 

Breakfast On The Go…Apple and Almond Butter Baked Oatmeal

I was recently asked about creating breakfasts on the go. What is a breakfast on the go? Specifically, this is means a breakfast you can easily pack up and take with you on a busy morning and either eat on the road or once you get where you are going. For me, this is typically a breakfast in a mason jar (like a homemade smoothie or overnight oats), but recently my creative juices got flowing when I read about a breakfast idea called baked oatmeal.

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Baked oatmeal is basically taking your favorite traditional oatmeal and making it into a casserole. Unlike regular oatmeal, which is made on the stove-top and has a porridge-like consistency, baked oatmeal is made in the oven and has a consistency similar to that of bread pudding. What is nice about this sort of consistency is that once it is cooled, it is easy to cut into pieces and take on the road.

There are many ways you can make this sort of dish, but I decided I would add two of my favorite healthy choices that add fiber and flavor and some healthy fat and protein as well. Apples, especially when baked, add natural sweetness to this recipe and almond butter makes it more satisfying and gives this dish a rich, nutty flavor. Again, this is baked oatmeal is great for an on the go breakfast, snack, or even dessert.

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Apple and Almond Butter Baked Oatmeal

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup coconut sugar (great because it is lower glycemic)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups skim milk (or milk of your choice)
1  egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup crunchy almond butter
3-4 diced organic fuji apples, skin on

directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 x 8 square baking dish with cooking spray of your choice and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, coconut sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In another small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla extract.

4. Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the almond butter and mix until combined. Add the apples and stir again. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

5. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is golden and oatmeal is set. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Natural Products Expo 2015…A Different Perspective

This year was my third year at the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, but by far the most insightful year yet. I remember my first time coming to the Expo…I went through a company that was paying an exorbitant amount for a handful of people with nutrition backgrounds to come and spot trends at the show. At that time, I had no idea what I was doing walking into the show. There are over 3000 booths and samples being thrown at you left and right. Needless to say, I worked for this same company at the Expo East in Baltimore later that same year and for the Expo West last year. They had added more trend spotters then the pervious year, plus I was frustrated being assigned to spend time at booths I wasn’t interested in. So this year, when I found out I could attend the Natural Products Expo West for a very small fee as a health practitioner, I jumped on board. I could not WAIT to see what kind of interactions I would have and networking I could accomplish as a different type of attendee.

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The Natural Products Expo is like Disneyland to me. There are so many people to talk to and things to try. Not just food, also drinks, makeup and supplements. There is even a section for baby and pet products. It is very difficult (impossible!) to get thru the entire expo, even in 3 full days. As a person who loves nutrition and loves talking about it to like-minded others, you better believe I did not get through as much of this expo as I would have liked. However, I will go over the highlights for me, the pros and cons.

I thought as a dietitian, perhaps I would be received more positively. With some of the booths, this was true. Some of the booth attendants actually took the time to talk about ingredients and the quality of their products with me. One of my personal favorites, Navitas Naturals, a superfood ingredient company that carries products such as raw cacao, chia seeds, acai and maca powder, actually took time to go over new products they are carrying, what is in them and what kind of recipes they would be good in, which was really helpful. I do use their products for smoothie demos and in some cooking recipes, so I am sure that helped in conversation.

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Runa energy drink is a very popular drink these days. Their clean energy ZERO drink contain 0 calories and lime extract, Vitamin C, natural flavors (didn’t ask about that :/) and guayasa. What is guayasa, you ask? It is an Amazonian super-leaf naturally packed with caffeine and polyphenol antioxidants, so it provides a clean, focused energy. There are no tannins in guayusa, so it lacks the astringent, bitter taste sometimes associated with green and black teas. Instead, it tastes smooth and naturally sweet. I thought the taste was good, but even better, the people at the booth were nice and actually took time to chat with me. When I mentioned I had a client that was looking for a pre-workout drink with NO sugar, they gladly gave me samples of flavors of the drinks in their sugar free line.

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Another company I was curious about connecting with is Suja juice. This San Diego based company exploded in popularity over the past year or so. Suja Juice has many great flavors. The vegetable blends are lower in sugar than the ones with more fruit added, however they are all cold-pressed. So what is that? Cold-Pressured refers to the process by which fresh food products, such as juice, are preserved using High Pressure Processing (HPP) as opposed to high heat. This is a method of preserving packaged food products using extremely high pressure. Hydraulic fluid (normally water) is placed in a chamber and pressurized with a pump. This pressure is transmitted through the package into the food itself. This process extends shelf life & helps to maintain essential vitamins, minerals & enzymes. I was really impressed by how nice the people at the booth were and the marketing assistant guided me through a taste test of their three newest juices. The picture below is of my new personal favorite. Most people don’t think to put bell pepper in a juice, but it is really good, and the lemon and ginger add a little zing and spice to the blend. It comes out in July…I can’t wait! I usually make my own green smoothies at home, but if I am not home or in a rush and have the opportunity to snag one of these juices, I do it. They are not cheap but are big on quality, and they have lowered their price point on the new ones debuting later this year.

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Other honorable mentions…Mikey’s Muffins out of the East Coast. These are are paleo based (no grain for those who don’t know) english muffins with six ingredients. SIX. Read below for nutrition content…and they are delicious. These are available online and are not in the West Coast as of yet. This product is so simple I think if you are a baker, you could attempt to make your own, but I like the convenience, and the kid at the booth was so nice and friendly so I think that made them even better.

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Go Raw Sprouted Watermelon Seeds. I never would have thought watermelon seeds tasted so good with just a little sea salt. They are high in niacin, folate and thiamin and rich in magnesium, zinc, iron and fiber, among other minerals. While they are NOT low fat, they pack 11 grams of protein in ONE ounce. A nice diversion from almonds and sunflower seeds in my opinion.

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Primal Chocolate. I did only take one or two pictures of their products. This East coast based chocolate company claims “Chocolate: It’s Food. Not Candy.” The way they make it I can agree. They use organic cacao and organic unrefined granulated maple sugar. There is no gluten, dairy or soy in their products (not even soy lecithin, which was a big deal at this expo) and the taste is delicious. I took a picture of their midnight coconut, which is 100% cacao. I know a lot of people who would love this…me, I like a little sweet in my chocolate, so I loved their caramel coconut butter cups. They didn’t give me any samples and are in very limited stores not he West Coast…so if you want them, check out their online store.

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No Cow Bar. A very young guy started this protein bar company after he was eating 3 Quest nutrition bars a day and noticing it was affecting his GI system very…negatively. Even though I am not a huge bar eater, this bar is everything you would want in a bar. It is gluten free, soy free, non gmo, high in protein, low to minimal sugar, high in fiber and uses pea and rice protein so it is much more easily digested than other bars. Flavorwise, I will let you be the judge. The guy who founded the company has poured his heart into his business and for that soul reason and the fact that all the ingredients checked out, I will support it.

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Other cool products…Sexy Pop popcorn. There was TONS of popcorn at this expo. Sriracha popcorn, Jalapeño popcorn, kettle corn, pepper popcorn, you name it…however I had a lot of fun with this company’s sexy marketing campaign and the idea of making people feel “sexy” about their eating choices.

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Forager, another green juice line, has spread into covering alternative milks as well, and have a new cashew milk line and a supersede milk, which uses pumpkin and sunflower seeds. You can make your own, but if you are too lazy to do such a thing, Forager has you covered.

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Paleo EVERYTHING. I mentioned the paleo muffins. Another product that was delicious is Flapjacked…a paleo pancake mix. Again, you can easily make your own with 2-3 ingredients, but they had a few fun flavors with clean ingredients. A carrot spice one was their latest creation, and I am definitely going to go find it. It tastes like dessert. Carrot cake…mmmmm.

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Probiotics in tonic form. Kombucha is everywhere. I love Synergy, but Health-Ade is a newer brand. They are based in Los Angeles and the kombucha is manufactured and bottled in UV-sensitive environments. Kevita is another brand with a probiotic drink, a kombucha and now a cleansing probiotic tonic. These are organic and non-GMO with no added sugars. I tried the cinnamon one and it has a nice spicy kick to it and makes you feel all clean inside…that is the point right?

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So the pros…some cool new products, some cool people who took the time to chat and connect with me, some great opportunities to get my face and business card out there, and overall a really fun event to partake in. I took pictures of so many great products and supplements, but like this blog will be a novel if I mention them all.

The cons…too many people. Too many products (I will discuss that more in a moment). Some pretty reputable brans with NOT NICE people staffing their booths. I must say I was kind of surprised at some brands I love and have endorsed and used their products for awhile now. Some of the brands had the owners there and some of the owners were extremely unprofessional. I realize I did not have a RETAILER badge on and am not going to buy stock in their products for a major retailer supplier, however, you never know who someone might know or how someone might connect you regardless…and I was a little surprised by some people’s behavior. I also noticed that although the expo ended at 4 on Sunday, people were closing up completely from 2pm onward. And blatantly vocalizing how happy they were for the expo to end. Professional? Nah…not really.

The one crucial point I also wanted to bring up is this year as I was leaving the expo I started to think about what the definition of a natural product is. It would be food, from the earth…right? So what are all these things? I definitely did not stock up as much as I have in years past. Partially because I don’t want all of that excess hanging around in my apartment, but also because I cook and eat REAL FOOD. I couldn’t wait to get home and sauté up some veggies, quinoa and a piece of salmon…my body was craving nutrients. So at the end of the day, some of these products might be an okay snack if you are in a pinch, or a nice addition to a nutritious meal,but there is no substitute for real food.

 

 

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad…A Healthy Vegetarian Option

I am not a vegetarian, nor do I intend to be, but I do believe in this day and age we Americans are definitely over consuming protein. I am not talking about high biological value (HBV) protein, which is what REAL animal products such as chicken, turkey, fish and eggs contain…I am talking about all these bars and shakes (even protein based cookies and chips!) that people seem to think they need. I have clients with digestive issues, and when I look at their diets and see the overconsumption of protein bars and lack of water in their diet, it is no wonder they feel bloated, because the more protein you consume, the more water you should be drinking!

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Anyhow, I guess my point is, not every meal HAS to have animal protein in it. It really depends on you. I know because I exercise 7 days a week, more often than not, my meals contain a high biological value protein in them, because it keeps me satiated. Sometimes I do half a chicken breast if I don’t feel like I need a whole one and eat the other half later. It really just depends on how I feel. And sometimes I do find it easier once in awhile on my digestive system to have a healthy vegetarian meal. This dish is Mediterranean inspired ( a personal favorite of mine) and very easy to make.

Fun Fact-One cup of cooked chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) contains 269 calories, 45 grams of carbohydrate, 15 grams of protein, 13 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of fat and 0 grams of cholesterol. Besides being an excellent vegan and gluten-free source of protein and fiber, chickpeas also contain exceptional levels of iron, vitamin B-6 and magnesium. The high fiber content in chickpeas has been known to help lower glucose levels, blood pressure and decrease risk for heart disease.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. lemon pepper

1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped into pieces

1 small English cucumber, chopped

1/4 red onion, chopped

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

A little juice from the kalamata olive jar (optional but makes it taste even more amazing!)

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together, 1 tbsp. olive oil, the cumin and 1/4 tsp. sea salt. Then add the chickpeas and stir until they are coated with this mixture.

Next, in a medium non stick skillet, cook chickpea mixture over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the chickpeas are golden brown and slightly crisp, 4-5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic about half way through this process. Transfer all of this to a plate.

In another bowl, whisk together the vinegar, remaining olive oil, oregano and the rest of the sea salt and lemon pepper. Add the romaine, cucumber, onion, chickpeas, garlic and the olives. Toss it all together. Add the extra kalamata olive juice if desired.

ENJOY!