Yes, I think we are talking tradition now. At the end of last summer, I decided to review the many delicious items that arrive quarterly in my New Hope Blogger Network Box for perfectly healthy lunchbox treats. It went so well, I have decided to repeat the idea with some new selections that are tasty, healthy and planet-friendly. So no excuses as you pack up the family lunches because there are both kid-friendly and grown-up choices that will help you keep highly processed foods out of your kitchen, off the school bus and missing from your desk at the office

Poshi Marinated Vegetables

I’m starting with my personal number-one favorite product—amazingly fresh, fragrant and flavorful Poshi Marinated Vegetables that come in vacuum-sealed pouches so they can be tucked into the lunchbox and opened fresh at school or office. They may not seem kid-friendly, but give it a try. They are certainly adult-friendly.

I received all three varieties in my sample–artichoke hearts, asparagus spears and green beans–and put them all to very good use—just as I would if I were fixing them at work for a healthy lunch. I added a leftover piece of grilled salmon, a few farmers market cherry tomatoes and then my Poshi veggies—asparagus marinated in rosemary and oregano, green beans marinated in lime and garlic, and artichoke hearts marinated in basil and thyme. There was more than enough for me and a coworker to share.

And I love the Poshi philosophy about food:
It’s What You Don’t Eat That Matters. Poshi keeps you away from highly processed foods. Industrial food processing has been one of the biggest dangers to our health for the past few hundred years. Today, we are not threatened by having too little. It’s having too much that is the problem. “Poshi” has the exact size/amount of nutrition you need per serving.”

Further, Poshi marinated vegetables are non-GMO and only made of real food, like high-quality olive oil, herbs and vegetables. No artificial colors, preservatives, additives, trans fats, MSG, or added sugar. Keto-friendly, vegan and gluten free. And so….Posh!

Raising the Bar

OK, let me admit right up front that I am not, nor have I ever been, a power bar fan. Even when I was running every day, the allure of the power bar for pre- and post-runs never got to me. They just didn’t taste like food.

But I get the fact that sometimes, eating a power bar is better than missing a meal or having something far less nutritious. So when a variety of power bars showed up in the Blogger Box, I thought I’d give them a fair try. And there are three that “raised the bar” on power bars, in my opinion.

Green Joy Cacao & Greens Pressed Salad BarLet’s start with the Salad Bar by Green Joy. If you are having trouble getting your little ones to visit the cafeteria salad bar during lunch, this is probably a good option. Sure the real deal would be better, but—truth be told—that cafeteria salad bar may not be the greatest option either. At least this way, you know where your food is coming from and how it got into the form it’s in.

I tried the Cacao & Greens flavor, and I gotta say, pretty tasty for what I remember as a “fruit roll-up.” Remember those!! I packed fruit roll-ups in my daughter’s lunches all the time, and I’m pretty sure she’d have preferred this one by Green Joy. It is soft and chewy, sweet but not overly so and has that lovely hint of cocoa because of the cacao. Lunchtime dessert could get pretty healthy with this salad bar. Here’s the facts:
At Greenjoy, we make eating veggies irresistible! Our roots in making epic salads inspired us to pack those same vibrant, healthy ingredients into a go-anywhere snack with two servings of veggies. Our Pressed Salad Bars are everything you love about salad…to go. And the only thing you need to toss (into the recycle bin) is the wrapper!” (Just a note here that you’ll need to check with your local recycler about the wrapper. If not in your area, consider investing in a Terracycle Box—we did!)

And here’s one more good reason to go with Green Joy (that, BTW, used to be named after the owners’ Aunt Dottie and her amazing salads): “Our mission isn’t contained to creating innovative, healthy food: we care deeply about its origin and the impact our food has on the world we live in. That’s why we strive to work with partners who put sustainability and environmental compatibility at the core of their enterprises.”

Evo Hemp Cookie Dough Hemp BarMy next sample came from Evo Hemp, one of the up and coming manufacturers of quality CBD-infused products and foods. Now my sample was the “Cookie Dough” flavor, and this gave me pause. I have never been a fan of raw cookie dough, taking only the tiniest taste to measure flavor balance before baking. I have never—and will never—eat cookie dough ice cream, either. I just don’t see the appeal. So, I was really skeptical here.

But I am such a strong believer in hemp—in its ability to revive American agriculture, clean up the fashion industry and help people everywhere become healthy and pain-free without strong prescription drugs. So it was a must-try for me. And, of course, I’m so glad I did. Great taste—not sure why we are calling it cookie dough—very baked-cookie flavor to me. And then there is the integrity of the products and the mission of the company. Win, win, win.

Evo Hemp has made it their mission to make hemp foods and supplements more accessible and affordable. They agree with me! Hemp has the potential to change the world in amazing and positive ways—from how we grow food, to how we eat it, to what keeps us healthy. Here’s my favorite quote from their website: “We started Evo Hemp because we knew that creating a domestic hemp supply would yield jobs and create wealth for poor rural communities. This mission brought us to Pine Ridge Reservation, the poorest place in the United States. With the hope of bringing economic prosperity to Native Americans, we’ve teamed up with Alex White Plume of the Lakota tribe to cultivate quality organic hemp products.” They have me as a customer! I’m trying all the flavors. (BTW, if you are interested in the promise of hemp, be sure to review my previous blog post, Hemp, Hemp, Hurray!)

Choc. P.B. protein barMy final “power bar pick” is Good! Snacks’ Choc. P. B. Protein Bar. Now this is one of those bars I think of as a “runner’s” bar—nutrient and calorie dense, meant to be your breakfast before a run because it is easy to digest and full of stay-with-you nutrition or your post-run recovery meal because, again, it’s easy to digest, does taste amazing (i.e. the famous peanut butter cup at Halloween) and replenishes the body with food that will help it recover: 15 whopping grams of protein.

But I don’t run anymore. So what’s in it for me? Ok, it’s just plain delicious, which is kinda enough, right? Except there are a fair number of calories in all that protein. So…thinking “outside the bar” gave me the answer. There is no rule that says you or your kids have to eat it all at once (though let me be clear that not eating it all will be a challenge). I chose to divide the bar up into three bite-size sections and enjoy one section as my sweet but healthy treat midafternoon—you know, the time when you are heading to the dreaded vending machine for processed sugar and trans fats or your little ones are clamoring for just one treat before dinner? That time.

Or maybe you hit the gym after work and find dinnertime happening around 8 p.m., too late for a big meal but just right for a high-protein recovery food. Viola! This is the bar to reach for. No soy, no gluten, no GMOs, no worries. Many yummy flavors.

The Corn Chip

RW Garcia Organic Bar-B-Q Corn ChipsBut, we are missing something, here…don’t you think we need more crunch? No lunchbox or after-school snack is complete without some little crunchy, salty chip, right? But seldom are these chips healthy or planet-friendly or (much of the time) truly tasty. Enter R.W. Garcia Organic Bar-B-Q Corn Chips—everything you want and nothing you don’t.

This family-owned company has been around for over 30 years. As times have changed, so have they. Their chips meet high standards for nonGMO verified; they utilize recycling to discard old equipment and packaging. They donate to multiple national or local charities as needs have come to their attention, including partnerships with nonprofits interested in raising awareness for healthy food choices.

What has never changed is that CRUNCH. The new line of corn chips is no exception—Don just devoured the bag…almost before I got the photo. The BBQ flavor was spicy and sweet but not too hot. Perfect for the kid-friendly snack, but certainly a winner with adults, too. We actually buy R.W. Garcia products regularly, so it’s especially nice to give them an extra endorsement here.

And there you have it. Some easy-to-pack-and-go foods that actually taste like food, are made from real foods, have missions based on giving back or keeping the planet clean, and offer healthy alternatives at busy, busy times. No need for compromise when such wonderful products and companies make eating healthy and mindful. So simple.

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