It’s no secret that over the past year or so, my dietary views have shifted (and relaxed) a bit. Gone are the days of “almost-veganism,” where I tried to summarize my diet in a single cheeky phrase, but in doing so, allowed myself to be pushed into a philosophical box that I neither constructed nor agreed with. Nowadays, I’m not in or near any one type of “diet” box. I eat what I like and I like what I eat! Since letting go of ALL labels (and politics thereof), and instead focusing on eating only for a) health and b) pleasure, my [physical AND mental] health has finally taken strides in the right direction. Plus, as someone who would like to start a family in the next year (there, I said it!) and who has experienced health problems interfering with that goal, I’ve found my nutritional priorities shifting for that reason as well. I couldn’t care less about labels, and I feel no need to name or categorize my diet. And let me tell you, the freedom and relief I feel from that is palpable! I’m not a vegan chef, or a raw chef, or a gluten-free chef—I’m simply Chef Amber Shea, creator (and enjoyer) of health- and happiness-promoting cuisine. And I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time!
For the most part, what I look for nowadays in the foods I eat is simply that they’re mostly natural, unprocessed, and unrefined. Now, I’m no WAPFer, but I do have a natural interest in so-called “traditional foods” and cooking methods. But let’s face it: sometimes we all need pre-made, quick food that we can eat right out of the cabinet or fridge. It can be hard to reconcile that need with a desire to eat organic, traditionally prepared foods. Recently, though, I found an online vendor that fills that very niche! Enter: Wise Choice Market.
Wise Choice Market is an online store full of nutrient-dense traditional foods, both raw and cooked. They have one of the most interesting selections I’ve seen in such a web marketplace—need fermentation starter cultures or water kefir grains? They’ve got it. How about sprouted bread—with or without gluten? Fermented vegetables and veggie juices? All there! And get this—how about potato chips fried in coconut oil?!? Hell yeah! They also sell animal-based traditional foods such as organic bone broth and wild salmon caviar.
Wise Choice Market offered me the chance to try a few items from their store, and though I’m still kicking myself for bypassing those potato chips, I was completely thrilled with what I did get to try. Let’s start with what is perhaps the most exciting of them all…
COCONUT SECRET ICE CREAM! You may know Coconut Secret as the makers of coconut nectar, one of my favorite liquid sweeteners. But holy crap, you guys—apparently they make raw, vegan, organic coconut ice cream too!
This stuff is the real deal. It’s make with coconut CREAM, not milk, so it’s as rich as super-premium dairy ice cream. It’s sweetened with coconut nectar (which you almost never see in packaged products! So cool), so it’s low-glycemic, and it’s not only dairy-free, but gluten-free and soy-free as well. Win! It IS high in fat (saturated fat, specifically), but to me, that’s a beautiful thing, since it’s all derived from coconut (and is therefore rich in metabolism-boosting, antimicrobial medium-chain fatty acids).
Ingredients (for the Madagascar Vanilla flavor): Organic raw coconut, organic raw coconut nectar, purified water, organic vanilla extract, organic raw ground vanilla bean, organic guar gum.
On top of all that, it comes in four different flavors: Madagascar Vanilla (my favorite), Caribbean Chocolate, Piña Colada (Matt’s favorite), and Berry Fusion. You can buy just one flavor at a time, or order a sampler pack to try all four!
For many years now, I’ve been soaking-and-dehyrating my nuts and seeds to rid them of enzyme inhibitors, and I also soak many grains before cooking them (try soaking brown rice in water with a splash of apple cider vinegar overnight before cooking—it makes the rice so fluffy and yum!) to make them more nutritious. Soaking “pre-digests” grains, allowing the nutrients to be more easily assimilated and metabolized. This is an age-old approach practiced in many traditional cultures. Soaking also neutralizes phytic acid, a component of plant fiber found in the bran and hulls of grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds that reduces mineral absorption. Something I’ve come to more or less accept, though, is that anytime I eat nuts, seeds, or grains prepared outside my own home, they won’t be soaked/sprouted/germinated. It’s really not a big deal, since I’m quite flexible with my diet – I regularly eat unsoaked nuts, seeds, and grains without compunction – but when given the easy choice, my preference always leans towards what’s most healthful.
So imagine my delight when I encountered Wise Choice Market‘s organic soaked cereals! They’ve taken the time to do the work for you, by soaking the organic oats in an acidic medium and the organic nuts in salt water for an extended time to transform many of their key properties, making them much easier on your tummy. One less thing to think about when planning out breakfasts for the week!
The cereals come in seven delicious varieties (Original Coconut, Touch O’ Honey, Banana Muffin, Carob Crème, Orange Pecan, Cashew Berry Crunch, and Oatmeal Raisin Cookie) and can be purchased in bags or in single-serving cups. Check out the ingredients in the Original Coconut flavor (below)—I love love LOVE that it contains the very same things I’d use if making my own such bowl of oatmeal at home! Only good-for-you, shelf-stable oil (coconut), unrefined sweeteners (honey and maple syrup), and of course, organic ingredients across the board. These soaked granola cereals can be eaten right out of the bag or from the handy single serving cups, tossed into your yogurt, or covered with milk. For even easier digestion, the cereals can be cooked up quickly on your stove or by pouring boiling water into the single serve cups. Convenient, nutritious, and tasty!
Finally, I knew I had to try one of Wise Choice Market‘s soaked nut butters. Soaking nuts in warm salt water helps to minimize or eliminate the enzyme inhibitors they contain, increases B vitamin levels, and makes the proteins in the nuts more readily available for absorption. When I make nut butter at home, I soak and dehydrate the nuts before grinding them into butter, but needless to say, most nut butter companies don’t go that extra mile. Imagine my excitement to find these nut butters by JoshEWEa’s Garden that are prepared in the exact same way I would prepare them at home! After the soaking stage, the organic nuts for are dried at low temperatures to keep them raw. They are then blended with organic coconut oil, raw honey, and salt to create the delicious, buttery spread we all know and love. I tried (and quickly devoured) this cashew butter, but Wise Choice Market also sells soaked almond butter, pecan butter, walnut butter, and mixed nut butter.
In sum, I was delighted with the fact that all of these products sold by Wise Choice Market are prepared with the exact same care I would use if preparing them myself at home. That’s an extremely rare thing to find in packaged/prepared foods!
Now…want to win some?!
One lucky reader will win a Wise Choice Market prize package containing one each of the coconut ice creams, a sampler pack of the soaked nut butters, and a 6-pack of the soaked cereal cups in Original Coconut flavor. This prize is worth just over $90!
Enter using the widget below. Only residents of the continental United States are eligible (sorry, international friends!).
BONUS! Wise Choice Market has offered an exclusive coupon code for Chef Amber Shea readers. Use code CHEFAMBER56 for a 5% discount on all items in the store, for orders totaling over $50 (excluding shipping), until August 10, 2013. (FYI: frozen items can only be shipped within the continental U.S.) One use per customer, one coupon code per order. Now get shopping!