Category Archives: reviews

Whole Food Magnesium!

I was recently invited to test some of Garden of Life’s new products, including their whole food magnesium. Please note that I received several samples of this product for free, but was not compelled or asked to share a positive review, nor was I paid for this review. Those of you who know me can rest assured I will always be brutally honest in my reviews. Please also note that some, although not all, of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you purchase product after clicking these links, I receive a very small amount of compensation (less than 5%) of the purchase price. I never share links to products I do not believe in, nor do I ever share links to products I have not used and tested. The small amount of money I receive from affiliate sales are used to pay for the upkeep of this website.

The first product I reviewed was the Relax and Restore whole food golrelaxmagnesium. Did you catch that? This is a WHOLE FOOD magnesium, meaning it is made from food.

Why is that important? Because your body recognizes the molecular structure of supplements that are sourced from food and therefore digests and absorbs them much better than synthetic versions of the supplement. There are less than five other whole food magnesium supplements currently on the market, each of which provides an extremely small serving of magnesium, so this new product is a very big deal.

To learn more about magnesium and its importance for health, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.

Following is my review of Relax and Restore’s whole food magnesium features. I was brutally honest. I loved the product, but there are a few things I wish were a smidge different.

The Basics

The Garden of Life Relax and Restore Whole Food Magnesium is an effervescent powder. It is organic, non-GMO certified, and vegan. There are very few (less than three) organic magnesiums on the market, and none of those provide a whole food magnesium.

Relax and Restore also provides 1 billion active cultures of probiotics (Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactobacillus acidophilus) to help improve digestion. One billion active cultures isn’t enough to be a therapeutic dose of probiotics for most people, but it’s enough to improve the digestion and absorption of the product. For some people, it may be enough to boost immunity and improve regularity.

The magnesium in this product is derived primarily from pea protein. The main source of magnesium is a chelate, meaning the magnesium molecule has chains of amino acids (proteins) attached to it. The body digests and absorbs amino acids very easily, so the amino acid chelate connected to the magnesium ensures the magnesium will be very easily digested and absorbed. This should also ensure that this form of magnesium will not cause digestive upset.

Price and Serving Size

Serving size is a single teaspoon, so the smaller, approximately half-pound, containers provide around 50 servings. Not bad for a price point that’s between $15-17.

It is interesting to note that the different flavors have different net weights, but each provides about 50 servings. I’m assuming the difference in weights reflects differences in the ingredients that were added to create the flavors. To learn more about the extreme caution Garden of Life uses in selecting flavoring ingredients, please visit Seven Surprising Facts About the Garden of Life Colmpany.

The product is available in the following sizes:

  • Approximate half-pound containers, providing about 50 servings, averaging $15-17 per container. (Price differences were seen between various retailers. Amazing seems to have the best price.) Average cost per serving came to around 32 cents.
  • Approximate one-pound containers, providing double the servings (around 100), and costing around 24 cents per serving. This is obviously the better deal, but I recommend trying a small container of the flavored versions before committing to a large container. (Just in case you don’t care for the flavor.)

There is a somewhat similar product on the market that retails for a similar price but has double the servings. HOWEVER – that product is not organic or non-GMO verified, and contains some questionable ingredients. It also uses a synthetic form of magnesium that is known to cause diarrhea. It’s not a better option, in my opinion.

Taste

I tried the Original, stevia-free unflavored version, and the Orange Dreamsicle flavor. There is also a Raspberry Lemon flavor which I did not try.

I truly enjoyed both versions, although I felt the orange flavor was a bit strong. Adding more water helped eliminate that issue. My husband enjoyed both versions. The product wasn’t gritty after blending, and was easy to drink. I’ve tried other powdered magnesium supplements that were extremely gritty and hard to drink, so this was a pleasant change.

Effervescence

Here is perhaps my strongest negative opinion about this product. It’s not truly a negative, it’s merely a lesson I learned the hard way. Because the bubbles in this product are created naturally, it can take a while for the ingredients to finish bubbling.

Let me point out that drinking the product before the bubbling stops may result in a lot of burping. I felt it took an inordinately long time for the effervescence to stop effervescing, but I failed to time it. 

golrelaxlabelPlease also note that stirring the product once the powder has been added will greatly increase the bubbling effect and may cause foaming that will make the product overflow the cup it was blended in. 

If you’ll notice in the graphic at the right, the instructions clearly say to add the water to the powder. I did it wrong every single time, which may be why I had excessive bubbling. Following the instructions is obviously the wise course of action.

My advice if you ignore the instructions is to fill the container half way with water, add the teaspoon of product, and allow it to sit for 30-60 seconds. (I did time how long I waited.) Then add the remainder of the water, gently stir, and wait until the bubbling has obviously stopped.

Not a big deal, especially since the issue was with my failure to follow the instructions.

Interesting Side Notes

As you may or may not be aware, magnesium should never be taken with iron supplements, thyroid medications, some antibiotics, and a wide variety of prescription medications because it can either block absorption or increase absorption and increase the medication’s effectiveness. Please note that the face this is a whole food magnesium is not sufficient reason to assume this supplement can be taken with supplements and medications magnesium is known to interact with.

Having said that, I can say that I experimented with Relax and Restore and took it before bed with my iron supplement for two weeks. I did not notice any difference in how I felt, nor did I begin to notice symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. As someone with Pernicious Anemia, I can assure you I would have been flat on my back had this magnesium interfered with with absorption of my iron supplement. Let me also say, you should not experiment the way I did. My training and professional experience enables me to quickly tell if my body’s balance is shifting. In other words, don’t be stupid.

Have you tried Garden of Life’s Relax and Restore? What did you think?

Review of Garden of Life Perfect Food RAW Apple

Several of you recently asked me to continue doing more reviews of foods and supplements. I am happy to oblige! I often Perfect Food Raw Applerecommend “green powders” to people who are looking to detoxify, improve energy levels, alkalize and more. The problem with green powders is that they taste like grass. I was therefore thrilled to find one that has a crisp apple taste but which is still loaded with nutritional power. This review is for Garden of Life Perfect Food RAW Powder – Apple Flavor. (You can click the link to view it on Amazon.)

I received a canister of this powder last December from Garden of Life. I owe them a huge apology for not posting this review sooner. Other topics seemed to be more pressing, life got in the way, and the powder tasted so good my husband and I consumed it in less than two weeks. Please note that although I did receive free product in exchange for this review, I was under no obligation to provide a positive review. The information shared in this post is purely my opinion, based on my experience with similar products and on my years of training. Since I use the product myself, I feel qualified to share my opinion of both its positive and its negative qualities.

Here are the qualities I love about this product:

  • It’s ORGANIC!!!
  • It contains no fillers or artificial ingredients
  • It contains an unusual blend of nutrient-dense powders from grasses, fruits and vegetables
  • It’s sweetened with Stevia and contains no harmful artificial sweeteners
  • It tastes amazing – nothing like most green powders
  • The grass, fruit and vegetable powders are obtained at low temperatures so their enzymes remain viable
  • It’s dairy and gluten-free
  • It contains no herbal additives that could interfere with prescription medications
  • It’s low glycemic, with only 3 net carbs per serving
  • It contains sprout powders and probiotics
  • If apple isn’t your thing, Garden of Life Perfect Food RAW is also available in Plain and Chocolate flavors

As we used this powder, we found it blended easily into smoothies and other drinks. (I shared a recipe below.) It tastes good enough to blend into plain water. We enjoyed adding cinnamon and nutmeg to it for an added kick. The bottom line is that this product is an excellent source of trace minerals, enzymes, probiotics, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants, all provided in a great tasting powder.

It’s price point is under $30 for a 30-day supply, another factor that makes it a winner in my opinion. You can view the product on Amazon here:  Garden of Life Perfect Food RAW Apple.

The only negative comment I can make about this green drink is that it absorbed moisture out of the air and solidified in the container after being opened. I recommend storing it in a sealed container of some sort.

Here’s a copy of the nutritional information so you can see how truly loaded this product is:

Raw Apple Ingredients

Please note that people with gluten sensitivity CAN consume wheat and barley grasses. The grasses do not contain the proteins that are problematic for people with Celiac and/or a wheat or barley allergy.

Here’s a recipe using this product:

Good Works Wellness Perfect Food Apple Spice Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop Garden of Life Perfect Food Apple Powder per serving (recipe makes 2-4 servings)
  • 1 diced avocado
  • 2 cups coconut water (may use milk alternative, purified water or aloe vera juice if preferred)
  • 1 diced organic cucumber (use half a cucumber for a single serving)
  • 1 handful organic spinach
  • 1 diced organic Honey Crisp apple (use half an apple for a single serving)
  • 1 teaspoon organic cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic nutmeg powder
  • Optional:  Stevia to taste

Blend all ingredients well in a high-speed blender. This recipe makes enough for 2-4 servings. This smoothie is delicious and is loaded with healthy fat, trace minerals, enzymes, probiotics, antioxidants and a great blend of vitamins and minerals. It’s very energizing but is extremely low glycemic.

Have you tried Garden of Life’s Perfect Food Raw Apple Powder? What did you think?

A Good Time Was Had By All

I was honored to be invited to attend the 2014 Indiana Artisan Marketplace last weekend and to write about my experience. GoodiesIn exchange for these blog posts, I was given a set of tickets to give away and one set to use for myself. I was not compensated beyond that. These opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review, nor were my opinions influenced in any way.

I attended the Indiana Artisan Marketplace on Sunday, March 30. I went by myself so I could wander as slowly or as quickly as I wanted. Going by myself also allowed me to give away another ticket to one of my readers, so it was a win-win. The show was held in the Exposition Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Having been to many other events and shows in that building, I was impressed with the show’s layout as soon as I walked in. The aisles were wide and traffic flowed smoothly. 

I loved this show and highly recommend attending next year’s event. The organizers have already announced that next year’s show will be held March 28-29, 2015. It’s definitely worth marking in your calendar now.

One of the main reasons I enjoyed the show so much was because it was a juried show, meaning each vendor had to submit samples of their craft which a committee reviewed. Only the best artisans and food crafters were invited to have a booth. The quality of the handcrafts at each booth was phenomenal. I was also impressed at how well the show organizers ensured booths selling similar goods were spaced far away from each other. Every row held a wide variety of different items, which meant that each booth provided a new surprise. The food and beverage artisans were interspersed among the handcrafted item artisans in a nice way.

I had a great time chatting with the artisans, admiring handmade jewelry, sampling a few wines and seeing many old friends. I also picked up a few treats, most of which were for my hubby or for Christmas gifts. The picture I shared shows a few of the goodies I picked up. I’ve highlighted some of those artisans below.

Here’s a summary of a few of my favorite booths:

Functional Ceramics:  Artist Kris Busch’s pottery uses a unique glazing technique that makes her items appear to have multiple layers of color. Every item offers a perfect blend of art and functionality.

Litterally Divine Chocolates:  My friend, Suzanne Litteral, makes some of the best truffles and toffee I’ve ever tasted. Best of all, she uses mostly organic, vegan ingredients. Her chocolates are truly divine.

Lisa Atchison, Touch of Glass Designs:  Lisa Atchison makes her own beads, but does it in a very unique way. She grows crystals in unique patterns which she then forms into incredible works of artistic jewelry. I spent quite a while chatting with Ms. Atchison while admiring her jewelry. I wound up wishing I had significantly more money in my jewelry budget!

SACS & Company:  SACS & Company makes custom-blended, handmade soaps and other body products. As a soapmaker myself, I can vouch that their products are extremely high quality. They also have fantastic aromas!

240 Sweet:  I was not familiar with 240 Sweet prior to the Indiana Artisan Marketplace. One taste of their marshmallows make me wish I’d heard of them sooner. They make artisanal marshmallows in a wide variety of flavors, but they do not use corn syrup. I picked up a package of their Guinness marshmallows for my hubby. 

Willow by Greg Adams:  I stopped by Mr. Adams’ booth to admire the furniture, and wound up leaving with a big bundle of willow branches to fill a lonely vase in my office. He makes unfinished and finished furniture, frames and a wide variety of other wares that are all wonderfully unique.

As I said, if you have a few hours to spare March 28 and 29th next year, I highly recommend stopping by the 2015 Indiana Artisan Marketplace!

Aldi Has Organic Food?

I will be honest that this blog post is a bit of an experiment. I have friends who consistently blog from their phone, but I never have. Until today. I’m committed to writing and posting this entire post from my phone. Let the adventure begin!

Several months ago I read an announcement Aldi Logothat Aldi was going to start carrying organic options and was creating its own line of organics. For those who have never heard of Aldi, it is a deep discount store whose parent company is in Germany. It has many similarities to the big warehouse stores such as Costco, but has much smaller stores and a much smaller array of offerings. When shopping at an Aldi, you bring your own bags, expect goods to be displayed in the carton they were shipped in, and you always bring a quarter because you’ll need one to gain access to a cart.

The goods sold at Aldi are definitely low in price. Their paper goods are extremely reasonable. If we shop at Aldi, it is only to get paper goods because most of their products are highly processed, non-organic, and heavily packaged. Their produce was usually not top quality and never organic. Their meat was cheap but often contained fillers and was never organic or ethically raised.

Things are changing! My hubby and I were out running errands today and decided to take a “field trip” to Aldi. Here’s what we found:

  • Organic bananas, apples, carrots and cherry tomatoes. (It’s a start.)
  • Organic, grass-fed ground beef for $4.49/lb. We bought six pounds and will probably go back and buy the rest since this Aldi was located in an area that typically does not have high sales in organic goods.
  • Organic real honey, which is amazing because what is sold in most mainstream stores isn’t really honey.
  • No organic milk, yogurt, cheese, bread or eggs.
  • No organic coffee, spices, condiments, juices, canned goods or snack items.

Final conclusion? I applaud Aldi for listening to the wishes of the American public, but admit they have plenty of room for improvement. I noticed a huge new store is being built close to the one we visited, so I look forward to seeing how they choose to fill the additional space.

Aldi is the parent company of Trader Joe’s, so the move to carry organic goods wasn’t much of a stretch. My hope is they will expand their organic offerings and will soon commit to carrying fewer GMO products.

Have you shopped at an Aldi since they added organic goods? What did you find at the Aldi near you?

If you were wondering , this will be the last post i write from my phone. Thus the adventure ends.