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Friday, April 2, 2010

Product Review: Kaia Foods

I like raw food because I can appreciate its incredibly creative and interesting raw versions of familiar non-raw foods like pizza. Like making something creamy or cheesy out of cashews! Or using ground nuts and seeds to make delicious crumbly crusts for dessert. But I don't like raw food when it involves large amounts of coconut oil or the torture of delayed gratification while things soak for hours or slowly sprout or that many inventive recipes become inaccessible to the average household that doesn't own a food dehydrator. In addition to the occasional meal at Cafe Gratitude, I like to keep an eye out for tasty raw snacks that I wouldn't be able to make at home.

My latest raw obsession is this breakfast bowl sold at a stand at the Saturday Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The name escapes me (but I will find out and update), but the guy makes a lovely collection of raw smoothies, raw chocolate mousse and raw sushi rolls wrapped in nori or kale leaves stuffed with all sorts of goodies. But the breakfast bowl has this addictive flavor that outshines the rest. It is simply coconut water, coconut, apples, salt, vanilla beans all blended together and then topped with some fresh blueberries (or other seasonal fruit) and flax oil. So freaking delicious.

Since I am not into waiting for things to sprout and don't own a dehydrator, I had been wanting to find some local raw snacks that I could take with me to work. So when the good people at Kaia Foods in Oakland asked me to try some of their sprouted products, I jumped at the chance.

Buckwheat Granola (Cocoa Bliss):
This tasty sprouted granola contains sprouted buckwheat, agave nectar, raisins, flax seeds, sprouted sunflower seeds, cacao powder, sprouted pumpkin seeds, sprouted walnuts, dried coconut, vanilla extract and sea salt. I loved the crunchy texture of the buckwheat, but I wanted the cocoa flavor to be stronger. I ended up using it as the base of a delicious trail mix to which I added some chocolate chips and almonds. I really want to try the Dates & Spices granola!

Raw Fruit Leathers:
My favorite thing about these 30 calorie gems is how simple and pure they are--the ingredients are typically a pureed blend of 2 or 3 fruits and either a spice or vanilla extract. That's it! Gluten-free, raw and vegan. They are not as moist as traditional fruit leathers, but they have a clean and natural flavor that really lets the fruit shine. I tried Goji Orange, Vanilla Pear and Spiced Apple. The vanilla pear was my favorite although I wished it had vanilla beans instead of extract--I think seeing those little black specks makes me really believe in the presence of the vanilla. I really want to get my hands on the lime ginger one made with orange, banana, kale, lime juice, and ginger powder.

Sprouted & Dried Sunflower Seeds:
These came in very creative flavors: teriyaki, cocoa mole, garlic & sea salt and sweet curry. I was not a fan of the teriyaki flavor--it had an odd sweetness that I just could not get used to. The cocoa mole was a little bland in flavor, but a great addition to oatmeal or trail mix. The garlic and sea salt flavor was the best candidate for being a snack all on its own. And, surprisingly, I really enjoyed the sweet curry flavor--it had good a nice flavor of cumin and curry powder rounded out with a pinch of cayenne pepper. I made a big green leafy salad with carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado with some green goddess dressing) and then sprinkled on some of the sweet curry sunflower seeds and some garlic and sea salt sunflower seeds. Kaia also has a nice little recipe booklet with some great salad dressing ideas such as Agave Lemon Dressing or Thai Dressing.

I also heard that they will be making kale chips, which I am really excited about because homemade kale chips involve some tedious care (think of washing and drying each leaf by hand) and have a very short shelf life.

Kaia Foods has a motto I can stand behind: keep it simple. I appreciate the thought and effort they put into making creative and healthy snacks. They are making a good effort to ship all over the country, so check them out at a store near you!

1 comment:

royalflax said...

Hi Morgan--
So you know, Rainbow has both the cocoa and the dates and spices kaia granola in the bulk (around $7-8/lb) so you can head over and try it there!!
I love them both-- depending on the day, each is my favorite :)
Have fun and maybe I'll run into you and fight over the biggest clumps in the bin!