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Product Review: Justin’s Maple Almond Butter Spread

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Introduction

I’m a heavy consumer of Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (which I reviewed here), but regardless of how healthy and tasty it is I need a break from it from time to time. I decided to try another product in this series, an Almond Butter sweetened with natural maple sugar.

Flavor

I hope you’ll pardon the cheesy turn of phrase, but I’m nuts about nuts. Essentially seeds from a plant which grow in a hard shell, these amazing creations of nature are one of the few things that have a rich, savory flavor in their unprocessed natural form.

Start with a paste made from dry roasted almonds and add maple sugar for an extra touch of sweetness, palm fruit oil for increased spreadability, and round off the taste with a pinch of salt, and you get a spread made in heaven.

I’m not going to attempt to explain the intricate flavors contained with almonds, but this product will surely appeal to anyone who likes peanut butter or eating raw almonds.

There is a surprising sweetness for the actual amount of sugar present. This is because maple syrup primarily consists of sucrose, whose sweetness lies between fructose and gluctose, and as a result is approximately twice as sweet as table sugar.

My only minor complaint is the ratio of oil is a bit high. When I spread a blob of this on my bread with a knife, sometimes it overflows onto my plate and this messiness isn’t desirable.

Nutrition/Ingredients

A single serving (two tablespoons) of this thick spread contains 200 calories and 17 grams of fat. As I mentioned in my hazelnut butter review, the problem with spreads is that its hard to meter how much you eat. If you’re not careful you can wolf down 1000 calories or more in a span of minutes. For those concerned about their weight it’s best to eat this in very small doses, but everyone else shouldn’t feel any guilt when eating this. With minimally processed natural ingredients, if you going to go overboard with calories and fat this is probably the safest way to do it.

There is a minimal 3 grams of sugars per serving, less than half found in Justin’s chocolate spreads. Interestingly, the “classic” version of this paste, containing no added sugar, contains nearly the same amount of sugars at 2 grams. If you find the maple overtones bother you, feel free to try the classic version. I’ve had it and its even stronger almond taste is superb.

There is 6 grams per serving which is a good amount, especially considering that you are likely to consume multiple servings in a single sitting. This is natural protein from the nuts themselves, not something added artificially.

Both almonds and maple sugar are packet with nutrients. Almonds contain Vitamin E, manganese, copper, Vitamin B2, among others, and are considered to be very heart-healthy. Maple sugar contains a large amount of manganese, zinc, and also contains substances called polyphenols that may help control blood sugar levels. It’s estimated glycemic load is less than that of table sugar and only slightly more than honey, though diabetics still need to be careful when eating it.

Palm fruit oil, a less popular form of oil, has its own set of potential health benefits including cancer prevention, immune system strengthening, and reducing heart disease.

Full ingredients list: Dry Roasted Almonds, Maple Sugar, Organic Palm Fruit Oil, Sea Salt.

Price/Availability

Like most of Justin’s products, this sells for around $10.00 per a 454 gram jar. When compared to everyday peanut butter this is quite expensive, but its competitive to other almond butters.  After all, this product is mostly made of almonds, which have a unit price roughly double that of peanuts. Justin’s peanut butter goes for a roughly proportional price ($6.00).

I usually buy this at Whole Foods but its also started appearing at Target and other stores recently. Its also available from the producer directly via their website, and packs of 6 are sold for a slight discount. Justin’s nut butters are also sold in single serving packs.

Ratings:   Flavor: 8.5   Nutrition/Ingredients:9    Price:7.0    Overall: 8.2

Summary

With a rich taste and packed with nutrients, I’m apt to call this the perfect snack food – if it weren’t for the high calorie and fat content. I consider this, along with the other products in Justin’s lineup,  to be the best available spreads judging from taste and nutrition content.

References

http://www.justins.com/products.php

http://www.thenutbox.com/Nuts-s/1.htm

http://greenlitebites.com/2010/11/11/sweetener-comparisons-honey-agave-molasses-sugar-maple-syrup/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nut_(fruit)

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20

http://www.sugar-and-sweetener-guide.com/glycemic-index-for-sweeteners.html

http://diabeteshealth.com/read/2011/05/24/7158/maple-syrup-a-sweet-surprise/

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/why-you-should-give-red-palm-oil-try

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Lakewood Organic Pure Blueberry Juice – Hardcore natural goodness

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Introduction

Our subject this time, a particularly pure and tasty form of blueberry juice, isn’t something normally attributed to the category of ‘sweets’.  Nonetheless, it is defined by a mild, natural, sweetness, which places it in the same league as sugary treats, if not only spiritually.

Another reason I’ve chosen to showcase this item is because it excels in both the nutritional and taste departments . As a purist who pursues simple, natural foods, this is about as close to ideal as you can get.

Flavor

I’ve went through stages in my life where I frequently drank one type of juice – apple, orange, tangerine, but the honeymoon always ends. Blueberry juice is the only one I really can’t get tired of.

Unlike many other popular juices, the sweetness of blueberry is understated, something like a softened version of grape juice. Filling the place of an overbearing sweetness is a complex, earthy taste, ripe with a diverse array of compounds, each replenishing much needed nutrition to the body. (Ok – I admit I’ve have my share of influence from the marketing material here).

This juice can be enjoyed at room temperature, which brings the intricate flavor to full volume, or can be served chilled for an extremely refreshing experience. After a bout of intensive exercise, I used to run for the Gatorade to quench my thirst, but have since discovered that this blueberry juice, straight from the fridge, satisfies my cravings fully.

Nutrition and Ingredients

This is the epitome of a natural, simple drink: fresh pressed, organic blueberry juice, no additives, no preservatives, and no water for reconstitution. And no extra sugar.

In one serving (240 mL, ¼ of a bottle) there is only 100 calories, 16 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of fiber. Contained within is 14 minerals, such as Vitamin C (20% per serving), Vitamin K (50%), and Manganese (40 %).

I won’t repeat all of the many health benefits of blueberry juice listed on the bottle, but suffice to say there are wide ranging effects from the immune system to the digestive system. I’m of the belief that nutritional science is in its infancy and there is still so much we have to learn, but even if only half of the reported effects are true, its totally worth drinking.

My eyes sometimes get painfully light-sensitive after too much starting at a computer or television screen, and this juice is the only thing that seems to consistently help when that happens. I did some research and it turns out that blueberry juice is supposed to be one of the best things for eye health. Sure, some of this is likely due to the placebo effect, but I can’t help taking advantage of it. In fact, I drank several glasses of this stuff while writing this report.

Price and Availability

Before I mention the high price of this product, I should mention that I don’t know of any juice of the same quality and purity. 99 times of 100 when you see a drink with the word ‘blueberry’ in the title, there is only a small fraction of pure blueberry juice used, and oftentimes apple juice will be used as a filler because it is sweet and expensive. I have seen a handful of products that serve essence of blueberry in a capsule, or a bottle of condensed blueberry, but those can’t come close taste wise (if they have any taste at all).

The only place I buy this is – yes you guessed it –  Whole Foods, where it sells for roughly $12. I had some difficulty finding it online but shoporganic.com seemed to be selling it for around $13.

For those than can appreciate the natural sweetness and believe in the numerous health benefits, this product is worth it, without a doubt.

Ratings

Flavor: 8.5

Nutrition/Ingredients: 10.0

Price: 4.0

Overall: 7.5

Summary

An extreme juice in many ways – super natural, super healthy, and super expensive. In the ever-expending juice world, it’s a true rarity you are likely to either love or hate.

Reference

http://www.lakewoodjuices.com/product_detail/id-30/

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-blueberries-eyes-5356.html