Category Archives: Product Reviews

Kona Kase Review

TGIF, friends!  Any big plans for the weekend?  As you know, I’m gearing up for the 13th Annual Aquaphor New York City Triathlon this Sunday—and suffering big time from taper crazies.  I know the main priority should be relaxing and trusting my training, but that’s easier said than done.  Plus, lots of triathletes have visited the store for last-minute purchases (including wetsuits!), so I’m constantly thinking about the race.  Sunday needs to hurry up and get here!

Now changing gears completely, a few weeks ago, I received a sample Kona Kase thanks to my involvement with FitFluential.

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You’ve probably seen these boxes pop up on the blogsphere, and what sets Kona Kase apart from other subscription snack services is its focus on nutrition products, specifically for those designed for endurance athletes.

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My stash included popular products—like one Clif Shot and KIND Bar—plus new-to-me fueling options.

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The first item I sampled was Halfpops, or crunchy, partially popped kernels of popcorn.

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Yeah, I demolished this bag in less than five minutes—delicious!

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Two other favorite snacks included this OneBar, a portable fruit bar, and an 18 Rabbits granola bar.

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And the best bar in the box?  The Doctor Will Bar, hands down.

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The creamy peanut butter worked well with the crunchy pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and the cranberries, cherries, and coconut added a touch of sweetness.

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Please disregard my chipped nail polish.

Overall, Kona Kase really impressed me.  As an endurance athlete, I valued the variety of variety of nutrition products, especially in terms of their ingredient lists; I could pronounce everything, which is huge, and everything tasted real.  It gets two thumbs up from me!

What are some of your favorite things to eat pre- and post-workout?

Mizuno Wave Sayonara Review

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno.

Thanks to my big-girl job at the running store, I’ve become a big-time shoe geek.  During my shifts on the floor, I’m encouraged to wear the sneakers we sell so I can speak knowledgeably about important characteristics, defining differences, and general fit, feel, and function.  So when I found out I had the opportunity to review the Mizuno Wave Sayonara (it hits stores today, July 5!) I was pumped!

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For my fellow shoe/Mizuno geeks, the Sayonara fuses elements from both the Elixir and Precision, resulting in a neutral, super-light sneaker that’s designed for performance and road racing. (The Sayonara weighs less than both the Elixir and Precision; the women’s version is 7.1 oz, and the men’s model is 8.1 oz.  I tested the men’s shoe because my feet are huge.)

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Let me #shoegeek out for a second and talk about the Sayonara’s structure.  Following the brand’s signature design, it holds the ankle/heel area tightly, begins to widen out toward the mid-foot, and offers plenty of wiggle room in the toe box.  Think of it like a pyramid.  This fit works for me because I like a sneaker that straps me in, but doesn’t suffocate my foot.

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Ignore the mud–the finish area of my local 5-K ended in a swamp-like area.

And now a quick ode to heel technology:  I love a shoe with a foam heel.  Not only does it weigh less than gel, but to me, it seems springy and more responsive.  All Mizunos have foam heels, and the Sayonara is no exception.  Plus, the shoe has a 10mm heel-to-toe drop, so it contains less cushioning than traditional, 12mm drop sneakers.  This reduction in padding makes for a light, springy ride that’s closer to the ground.  During my first test run, in which I ran off the bike, my legs obviously weren’t 100 percent fresh, and the Sayonara, specifically its heel, worked to propel me forward.

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Since this initial run, I’ve rocked these shoes for more bricks and tempo runs, including yesterday’s 4th of July 5-K.

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Mizuno describes the Sayonara as a light, everyday training shoe, and I definitely agree.  It’s a perfect sneaker for short, quick runs—think tempo, speedwork, and intervals.  Even though I love these structured workouts, I also enjoyed wearing the Sayonaras during my five-, six-, and seven-miler training runs:  along the West Side Highway, through Central Park, and (for the next few days) in my tiny hometown in Upstate New York.  Having the opportunity to decompress, zone out, and push your body to give 100 percent of what it can are my Mezamashii running moments.

What does Mezamashii running mean to you?

Full disclosure:  Through FitFluential, I received a pair of Mizuno Wave Sayonara sneakers to review.  This post is compensated, and as always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Huma Chia Energy Gel Review

Hello, and happy Thursday, friends!  How’s your week going so far?  Mine’s been filled with work (A/C is finally fixed—woohoo!) and working out (t-minus 3 days until Stamford!), and my cousin came to visit yesterday.  We’ll be up to our usual hijinks—think exploring, shopping, eating, and maybe some drinking.  Hopefully, we’ll make it to Chelsea Market and the Union Square Greenmarket today, and she wants to visit The Strand too.  Anyway, I’ll try to pop back in before Sunday, but in the mean time, I want to tell you a bit about a new-to-me nutrition product I recently sampled:  Huma Chia Energy Gels.

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The company sent me two gels a while back, and clearly, it took me a while to test them.  As you know, I take gels only before races, and plus, I’m not training for any long-course endurance events right now, which means taking gels during workouts isn’t necessary.  So even though I wouldn’t be sampling these Huma gels during true races, I definitely found them intriguing and wanted to try them.  How many chia-based energy gels are on the market right now? (You can read more about the power of mighty omega-3s here.)

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[source]

I’m such a sucker for infographics.

Oh, one of Huma’s claims to fame is being 100 percent stomach-pain free, which is one of the reasons Gina and Beka raved about them.

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Being able to pronounce each ingredient?  So solid.

Anyway, I took the strawberry one during a bike-run-bike training day that included a 5-K race.

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It was hands down the best tasting gel I’ve had simply because it tasted real—not super sugary or sickenly sweet like a lot of nutrition products.  And I don’t know if I can totally credit the gel for my performance, but I ended up doing pretty OK during the race itself.

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Technically, this plaque should say “2nd place overall, female.”

This past Sunday, I tried the apples and cinnamon during a Central Park bike ride, and then it became my new favorite.  I actually said “Mmmm!” aloud because it was so tasty—think good-for-you applesauce (without all the added sugar) with a hint of cinnamon.  And in terms of performance, it kept my energy levels up for the entire two-hour ride.  Success!

Clearly, these Huma Chia Energy Gels impressed me, and I’d definitely recommend them, especially for athletes who are training for longer endurance events.  It can be tough to keep slamming gels and sucking down sports drinks, and I know taking these gels that taste so real would be refreshing.  Er, as refreshing as possible if you’re swimming, biking, and/or running serious mileage.

Full disclosure:  A representative from Huma Chia Energy contacted me and offered a sample of two gels in exchange for a review.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Lock Laces Review

As a triathlete, I constantly think about efficiency—not only in terms of swimming, biking, and running, but also transitioning as quickly as possible from one sport to the next.  You’ll never see me walking to transition 1 (T1) or hanging out in transition 2 (T2).  In the words of my coach:  “Get to transition, do what you need to do, and get the hell out.”  He’s a master of transitions, and this part of a race lets aggressive triathletes gain time on their opponents—if you have the right gear.  So when Lock Laces offered to send me a pair of bungee-style laces designed for quick transitions, I immediately said yes.

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Available in a variety of colors, Lock Laces can not only match or complement your sneakers, but they also ensure ease in terms of putting on and taking off your sneaks.

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I love these red ones because they match my Sauconys and team racing kit.

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I’ve been using Lock Laces for a few months, so I’ve had the opportunity to wear them for regular runs, brick workouts, and actual multisport events like Nautica South Beach.  Transitions can be so discombobulating—where’s my spot?  Wait, it was by the tree, right?  Where’s that tree …—so it’s important to streamline the process of switching gear.  And taking one step out of the equation—lacing up your sneakers—can make a huge difference.  If you’re a triathlete, then you need to be rocking speed laces, and these Lock Laces work great for me.

Full disclosure:  Lock Laces contacted me and offered a sample of their product in return for a blog post.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

What are some of your non-negotiable items of gear?

Boxtera Review

Good morning, friends!  How’s your Saturday so far?  As you know, I head to Miami for the Nautica South Beach Triathlon today, and I can’t believe race day is almost here!  First, I want to thank you for your sweet and supportive comments, texts, and tweets; you sure know how to make a girl feel loved.  During the past week, I’ve felt every emotion possible–excitement, nervousness, anxiousness, inadequacy, the list goes on.  It still hasn’t completely set in that my first race of the season begins in less than 24 hours, and even though I won’t “race” it (meaning it’s a “C” event, aka not a goal race), I’m excited to put it all together and see how my training thus far will pay off.

Anyway, while I travel and get ready for the race, I didn’t want to leave the blog totally dead.  A while back, Boxtera reached out and asked if I’d be interested in sampling one of their snack boxes, and since I think about food every 10 seconds, I was totally game!

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Subscription snack boxes are quite popular now, but here’s what sets Boxtera apart:

We offer a monthly subscription of healthy natural snacks, delivered to your home, office or dorm door.  Each box will include approximately 25 servings of snacks … You can trust that products delivered from BOXTERA are made from natural wholesome ingredients.  We strive to include products that are mostly gluten free, organic, sometimes vegan, but always minimally processed.

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Natural, organic, gluten-free—I like all of those words!  OK, without further adieu, check out these goods.

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So.  Many.  Snacks.

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Even though my appetite runs wild most days, it took me a while to work through everything.

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Can you blame me?

Plus, there were so many different types of snacks—bars, sweet potato chips, chocolate-covered espresso beans (which lasted one day!), you name it.  The options seemed endless, so I could really pick and choose which to eat based on my cravings and hunger levels.  I also really appreciated how most options were one serving; we know I have no willpower, so when it comes to snacking, I’m a fan of pre-proportioned foods.

Some of my favorite snacks included the sweet potato chips and chocolate-covered espresso beans (obviously).  I could gush about these, but I really want to highlight this Just Great Stuff Organic Chocolate Dream Greens bar.

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I don’t eat a lot of bars for snacks, so I procrastinated trying it.  On the train back to NYC after Easter, I opened it as a last resort—and it pleasantly surprised me!  No funky flavors, no aftertaste, just straight-up chocolate.  This is one bar I would recommend; it definitely gets my stamp of approval.

Overall, Boxtera’s snack selection impressed me.  Thinking back to my college days, I would’ve loved getting this box in the mail every month.  Even though there were a few items I didn’t love (for example, the vegan jerky wasn’t my thing), the majority of the snacks I polished off without a problem.  Not a surprise, but still.  I’m a fan of anything that takes the guesswork out of making healthy eating choices, and it would be challenging to snack poorly in this case–unless you eat all the chocolate-covered espresso beans in one sitting like I did.

[Full disclosure:  I was contacted by Boxtera; they offered to send me a complimentary box in exchange for a review.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.]

Have you tried a snack subscription service?  Do you eat bars for snacks regularly?

Premier Protein Review

During the craziness of Hurricane Sandy, I received a sampling of Premier Protein products.

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Filled to the brim with bars and shakes, this package took me nearly one month to polish off.  I typically schedule my workouts before meals, so I really don’t eat post-sweat session snacks.  However, life can sometimes get in the way of training (crazy, right?), making grab-and-go nutrition necessary.

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The first items I tried included the protein shakes.

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From a nutrition standpoint, these drinks boast some serious stats:  30g protein, 5g carbs, and only 1g sugar.  I loved the chocolate shake; it tasted like chocolate milk.  The vanilla one, however, had a richer and creamier consistency, so I didn’t care for it.

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In addition to the four protein shakes, the package contained a total of six protein bars—double chocolate crunch, chocolate peanut butter, and yogurt peanut crunch.

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Like the shakes, the bars contain 30g protein, but they also pack more calories (280-290 depending on the flavor) and sugar (8-10g).

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I ate one after the 3rd Annual F-M Turkey Trot, and I wasn’t hungry until our late-afternoon Thanksgiving meal; their staying power proved impressive.  However, they tasted like typical protein bars, including the dreaded aftertaste.

Overall, I would recommend the shakes, but the bars didn’t do it for me.

Full disclosure:  I won a “Protein Pop” giveaway from Premier Protein.  The company sent me a complimentary package of products.  I was not required to write a review, but I thought you’d enjoy learning more about the brand.

NatureBox Review

A few weeks ago, a representative from NatureBox contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their snack packs.  Complimentary, nutritious food?  Count me in!

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If you read healthy living blogs, then you’ve probably seen these boxes popping up recently.  A subscription service, NatureBox delivers healthy snacks on a monthly basis.  Here’s more information about the company:

  • Only wholesome, nutritionist-approved ingredients comprise its snacks, and the company follows strict quality standards:  no high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, and artificial colors.
  • For each NatureBox shipped, the company donates one meal to feed the more than 14 million American children who go hungry every year.
  • NatureBoxes that address dietary needs and personal preferences—think gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, and low-sugar—are currently in the works, and packages will soon be available in various sizes to meet the subscriber’s needs.

My box arrived after Thanksgiving, and I quickly got to work sampling each snack.

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My package included carrot chips, roasted garlic pumpkin seeds, chipotle maple almonds, country ranch peas, and cinnamon spiced granola.  Everything tasted delicious, and the chipotle almonds were my favorite. (I love my spicy foods—are you surprised?)

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Overall, I really like the concept behind NatureBoxes.  Having these foods on hand takes the guesswork out of selecting nutritious snacks, and each box contains seasonal items and flavors.  However, my only issue stemmed from portion sizes.  Although healthy, each pouch contains multiple servings.

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Having one snack bag filled with more than one portion may work for some people, but if I open it, then I’m probably going to polish it off, whether it contains carrot or potato chips.  I would encourage NatureBox to make single-serving packs.

If you’re interested in trying NatureBox, then use the promo code CARROT, which is good for 25 percent off your first month’s subscription. (The 25 percent discount is only applicable to the month-to-month subscription.  Six-month subscriptions receive 1 month free, and 12-month subscriptions receive 3 months free).

[Full disclosure:  I was contacted by a NatureBox representative who offered to send me a complimentary box in exchange for a review.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.]

Do you have any experience with a food- or snack-subscription service?  What are some of your favorite healthy snacks?

Honey P. Nutty Review

A few weeks ago, I was tooling around Twitter when Amy tweeted about Honey P. Nutty.  A good-for-you bar I haven’t heard of?  My interest was peaked.

After doing some research, I learned this Santa Fe-based company creates gluten- and dairy-free energy bars using whole ingredients like peanuts and honey (surprise, surprise).  Since their ethos sounded solid, and since I have family in Santa Fe, I followed the brand.  Long story short, I ended up being Honey P. Nutty’s 500th follower, so I won a box of my choice.  Sweet!  With several flavors available–including cranberry, chocolate, and espresso–I struggled to make my selection; each type sounded tasty!  Ultimately, I went with red chile.  Not only do I love spicy foods, but I’d also never had a bar that packed some zip.  Anyway, during Hurricane Sandy, I received a box of 12.  It couldn’t have come at a better time; I was running out of snacks and totally down in the dumps, and there’s nothing like a package to restore your spirit, right?

I obviously opened the box immediately and tried a bite.  Let’s say this:  I planned to eat half of a bar and save the rest for later, but my willpower vanished; I polished off the entire thing and savored every bite.

These bars have a moist, soft texture, yet taste chewy and crunchy.  Talk about the best of both worlds.  And since I opted for the red chile flavor, each bite contained a spicy kick—mmm!

The only downside?  Sugar content.

Yes, sugar hides in almost everything, but even for a bar, 22g is a little high for me.  However, as long as you’re not nursing your sweet tooth around the clock, having one bar won’t kill you.

Full disclosure:  I won a Twitter giveaway and received a complimentary box of bars.  Honey P. Nutty did not ask me to write a review; I thought you would enjoy learning more about the company and its product.  As always, the views and opinions expressed are totally my own.

Have you tried Honey P. Nutty?  What’s your favorite kind of granola bar?