Category Archives: Product Review

Inspired Fitness Gear Speed Jump Rope Review

I am always trying to find the best way to workout.  It’s not because the ways I workout right now are bad, it’s just I am always looking for the most efficient and effective way to workout no matter where I am. Besides, it’s nice to change it up from time to time to make sure that all of your muscles get worked differently instead of only a handful by doing the same exercise consistently.

One thing I have wanted to add to my arsenal is jump rope, but I have a terrible time using a jump rope and could never understand why. Apparently it has to do with the type of jump rope that I was using. I have a rope type with wooden handles, which seemed like the right kind since it was so well made, but I have a terrible time because I have to double wrap the rope around my hands when I jump because of the length, plus it is heavier than I need. How did I find this out? From my new jump rope.

I got a new jump rope from Inspired Fitness Gear and it is so much better and easier. It is a wire frame with a plastic cover, and you can actually move the stopper to make it the right length for you. Plus it is super light, so I can actually jump more consistently. Below is my video review for a look at the item, but I am very happy with it and surprised at how much of a difference the right jump rope can make.

 

Also, as an added bonus, they have created a coupon code for my readers to get $2.50 off of the purchase of their jump rope by using the coupon code AF10YEAH when you get it on Amazon. A very good deal indeed. Let me know your thoughts on the Jump Rope, and this great deal!

 

**I did get this jump rope for free as a review copy, but this is my completely unbiased and truthful review of the product.

Babycakes Donut maker and Cake Donuts Review

Glazed Donuts
Notice there is already one missing…

I’ve said from the beginning, we are paleo, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do things from time to time that aren’t paleo, but still gluten free.

When my family went to Orlando last year, we stopped by Downtown Disney and got a few things at Babycakes NYC. Babycakes is a vegan bakery, and the majority of their items are gluten free as well. My wife raved about the donuts, so, of course, i was on a mission to find her donuts that met the same standards. Up to this point, I have failed. But a couple of weeks ago, Walmart had their Babycakes mini donut maker for less than $10, so that was the last straw in deciding to buy the actual Babycakes Cover the Classics cookbook, that contained the recipe. They were heavenly. I made mostly vanilla glazed, but some chocolate ones too. Both glaze recipes were from the babycakes recipe book.

Chocolate DonutsThe kids thought they were awesome too and have been having them as their snacks for the past few days. We even had family over and they liked them! It is definitely a hit. And they were so easy with the little maker. Baby girl helped me mix the ingredients together, then I simply stayed in the kitchen area to drop more batter in every few minutes when a batch of donuts was finished. The easiest baking I think I’ve ever done. Even if you don’t do gluten free, you should try the recipes from this cookbook. They are great and I’m sure I will be doing more sooner than later.  Now, to find a good Paleo donut recipe to put this maker through its paces…

 

Paleo French Toast Review

Paleo French Toast

This was my breakfast.

Are you jealous? You should be. I was stuffed after this, and it was so nice. I follow quite a few paleo products and blogs both on my personal facebook account and the PaleoKB facebook page to see what is new and exciting in the world of Paleo and Health, and two of those are Julian Bakery and Paleo Bread. They post recipes on how to use their products, so I thought I would try the Paleo French Toast that they had recently posted.

It tasted pretty blasted good, I must say. I used the coconut flour bread instead of the honey bread, and opted for lots of butter instead of maple syrup to not have such a sugar spike that early in the morning, but it still turned out really well.

Now, the problem I have with their bread, both the coconut and almond flour versions, and I don’t know if it is the psyllium husk or what, but I think the high amount of fiber in the meal hits my stomach pretty hard and within about an hour, I have to take a break and find the facilities. But I don’t think that is typical, and the flavor was pretty good, so I would say try it and see if it works for you and see how it affects you.  I really enjoyed this meal, but it did not like me near as much, so I doubt I will do this one again anytime soon.

Paleo Wraps Review

paleo wrapsThis is another example of not being able to do sandwiches or regular tortillas and finding something so much better. This is a Paleo Wrap.  This is from the same company who does Paleo Bread, but this is, in my opinion, a superior product.  It is a paleo tortilla made only out of coconut meat and coconut water. There is a slight sweetness to it, which gives it a little different flavor, but they hold up extremely well, and can hold whatever you put in them. I like putting meatballs, some cheese, and some avocado in it. Or putting sandwich type food like turkey, pepperoni, mustard, tomato, etc in the wrap. I do have a pretty hefty appetite, so I typically eat 2 of these since they aren’t huge and I can’t load them up with everything it takes to fill me, but they are fantastic.

I would choose this, honestly, over bread any day, Paleo or not!  They have a turmeric flavored version that I haven’t tried yet, so that may be in my future. And they aren’t cheap, as you can see from the amazon link at about $1.50 each, but they work so well. I have found a few recipes on making them in a dehydrator that I may have to take for a spin here soon to see how the cost and flavor difference weighs out. If I end up going that route, I’ll be sure to put it up for everyone to see.

 

Epic Bar Review

Bison Epic BarWhen you eat a Paleo diet, packaged foods that truly fit the criteria are hard to come by, especially ones that are really tasty. Epic has come up with the idea of these bars that have multiple flavors that have real meat and some sort of fruit and nuts to create what my wife affectionately calls a “meat bar”.  She won’t try them just because of the idea of it, but I love them. The one in the picture above is my favorite though. Bison, bacon, and cranberry makes for a fantastic flavor. It isn’t like a protein bar that has some sort of modified protein in it to make it more protein dense. This is real food that is ground and packed for convenience.

This isn’t the type of bar that you just scarf down either like you would a snickers bar. I take very small nibbles to enjoy every bite, plus it is real meat, so it takes a bit more time to chew. It isn’t tough like jerky, but more soft and more gourmet. Epic has a lot of different flavors. The turkey, cranberry, almond is pretty good, the beef, habanero, and cherry is good too, but it is real habanero peppers, and not flavoring, so they really do get a bit warm,  and they have a lamb, currant, and mint that I haven’t tried quite yet, but it’s on my list.

They have a sampler pack you can buy as well that has one of each, so if you want to get your feet wet, this is a good choice.

In the way of convenience foods that truly fit the bill, these things are fantastic, and very good options to have as you run out the door and don’t know when you will eat next, or even as your protein in a light meal combined with veggies.

 

Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix Review

BC gluten free cookie

Sometimes I get a little lax on what I eat, and then I eat it and remember why I eat the way I do.

A few days ago, we made chocolate chip cookies for my wife and I using the mix above. . We do it every now and then, and it seems like I forget just how bad an idea it is to use this mix. Here is the problem.

The cookies taste great, but they don’t like me.

All it calls for adding to the mix is an egg, some butter, and some vanilla, you mix it all up, throw it on the pan, and you’re set. Now, look at these ingredients.

Rice Flour, Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla), Brown Sugar, Sugar, Potato Starch, Potato Flour, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Xanthan Gum, Salt.

That isn’t a bad list of ingredients, and fairly minimal, but considering it has chocolate chips, brown sugar, and white sugar all only directly after rice flour in terms of the the amount in the mix, it is like a sugar overload. I had a couple of cookies. Okay, 3, and they were really good. But as soon as I finished the third one, my stomach didn’t feel right. It wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t right.

The next day, it was time to bring the pain. My stomach was all messed up and just did not feel good. I seem to forget that as you clean your system out and minimize the items from your diet that cause problems, when you do come in contact with those items, especially large amounts, it messes you up. My stomach was extremely unhappy, which made me feel exhausted for the rest of the day.

So, this is my reminder to never eat these cookies again, and think about the amounts of the ingredients, not just the ingredients in something. A little bit of sugar goes a long way, especially when you aren’t used to taking it in that often. I forget that since the majority of America eats it by the spoonful, but this is my wake up call, otherwise I’ll have to move my office to somewhere with running water.

Go Picnic Ready to Eat Meal – Paleo at the Movies

A couple of weeks ago, I got to go see a preview showing of the new X-Men film, which was really entertaining by the way, and the people who were hosting it even gave us a per diem for food at the snack bar.  Now, I did not at all expect them to have anything that I could eat at the movies, so I went up with the full intent of getting a bottle of water and walking away empty handed, left to wait until after the movie to get anything in my belly.

Gluten Free Movie treat
Gluten Free Movie treat

I was totally shocked when I looked at the bottom of the snack rack and saw something that looked almost like real food! It was something called a GoPicnic Ready-To-Eat Meal.

I had honestly never heard of these things before, so I picked it up and looked it over and it actually looked halfway decent. It wasn’t ideal ingredients, but it was something doable in a bind. It is individually wrapped packages of a few different products. The crackers are the Crunchmaster Multi-Seed crackers, that are quite tasty, a little package of cheese to spread, some turkey pepperoni, some dried fruit and nuts, and a little caramel for dessert.  I stayed away from the peanut pack, but the rest I ate with gusto as everyone around me ate their popcorn and sugar treats. And I felt great after. No gluten, some soy in the crackers, and I didn’t even eat the peanuts, so I was pretty happy with my decision.

I will definitely have to keep this in mind for next time as this was a solid option for going to the movies. I suppose I could do popcorn, but corn isn’t all that easy to digest, so it can bring on digestive distress later in the day if you hit it too hard. There are other varieties as well like a Turkey Stick and Crunch variety that looks good, though you trade some junk in the Pepperoni one for different junk in this one, so either way it isn’t ideal.  If you can, just bring your own snacks, but this is a surprisingly nice option if you need something when you go see a movie.

The Case for Minimal Shoes

vibramWhen you see someone in the shoes to the left, the words that go through your head are probably something like “Weirdo”, “Hippy”, “Hipster”, or something similar.
I thought that too, but as it turns out, there are actually multiple reasons for this choice of footwear. That type of footwear has two names it is typically called, Minimalist or Barefoot.
Now, while we can obviously see that it is not a bare foot, it is pretty close.
So minimalist may be a closer descriptor of the type of shoe.

Let me give you some background. A couple of years ago, I read the book 4 hour body by Tim Ferris (Fantastic Book!), and there was a section on this type of shoe, and he referenced a couple of brands like Vibram Five Fingers and VivoBarefoot. I read through it and while I found it interesting, I didn’t really give it too much thought as there were all sorts of nuggets of information in that book that I wanted to cover instead and try to implement.

A couple of years ago, my wife had asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I didn’t really have an answer. The truth is, we are very blessed and don’t “want” for a lot of things, but still want a lot of things. Typically my vice has a power cord or a battery and can do something that really wows people and can be found on Gizmodo at some point. But there wasn’t really anything out there that I wanted that fit that criteria. So I started thinking about other things I was passionate about and one of those things was health. So I decided to take Tim’s advice and get two things for my birthday.

  • A Kettlebell
  • A pair of minimalist (barefoot) shoes

The illustration that really stuck out to me is the one below.

The Heel

badpostureThis illustration is exactly what is wrong with the shoes that most people wear right now. They aren’t actually made for normal people to walk around on all day. Yes they are cushioned and soft and protect your feet from harm, but are they really made for our bodies or do our bodies have to conform to the idea of shoes in order make the shoes comfortable? It’s amazing that no one has asked this really in the 1000 years that we have been wearing shoes like we have today.

As you can probably imagine, shoes are not a new idea. they all used to be flat soled, fairly thin, and were simply meant to protect the foot from both the elements, and foreign objects on the ground. But shoes that have heels can be traced all the way back to the 9th century, and were meant to help with keeping feet in the stirrups of horses. Makes sense doesn’t it?

Unfortunately that one specific function turned into fashion and became commonplace, and now all of our shoes either have the classic heel or the heel is simply higher than the toe area of the shoe, like in athletic shoes. The flat shoe is almost an oddity when you go to a shoe store and try to find one, unless you want to wear flip flops.

Not only did this fashion trend cause issues for us in terms of our joints, but it actually made us less stable than we were previously by putting too much cushion under our feet and forcing our toes to fit into a specific amount of space. Tom’s underground has a fantastic article focusing on the arch of the foot and why the arches in shoes actually make us less stable and are worse for our feet than flat soles.

 

barefootvsThe Toes

The picture on the left shows the feet of those who haven’t been constrained by shoes for 20, 40, 60 or more years versus those who have. Do you see the difference? I’m sure you can because the feet at the top aren’t “normal”. They are caveman feet, as my wife calls them. The major difference that you see right off the bat is the big toe. It is actually in line with the rest of the foot instead of being pushed to the center by conforming to the shoe’s shape.

The people without the curved toe will have better balance, and will be a lot less likely to have toe issues because their toes can grow naturally without being constrained by the shoes they have to wear.

So, with these two illustrations in mind, I started looking for shoes. I had a few criteria. The primary one was that my shoes couldn’t look anything like the picture above. I work in a typical workplace setting and I am pretty sure that if I showed up wearing something like that, it would sound some alarms throughout the building immediately. So I needed to find something that looked pretty normal. As I began looking, I found that this was harder than I thought. A lot of the designers of these shoes like to stand out and want you to notice that their shoe is different than the typical shoe. But that isn’t what I wanted. I read forum after forum about different brands and different things you needed to look for when you were doing this, and I found more information than I had ever imagined I would, but had a hard time finding normal shoes that weren’t ridiculously high.

The Criteria

So, like I mentioned above, I had pretty minimal criteria starting out, but as it turned out, after reading the forums, I had more specific criteria in regards to the way it was made and less about the design.

  • No height difference between the front and back of the foot, called “zero drop”. This is better for your back as having a tilt in your shoes is bad for your back and the joints in your legs and hips. Some of the shoes have just a few millimeter drop, which is a lot better than shoes we typically wear, but still not perfect. Ideal shoes would have the zero drop.
  • Something that has a large “toe box”. This is the term used for your toe area so that they can go where they want to go instead of being stuck pushed together. It’s better for balance and helps to keep you free of a lot of toe problems because your toe is getting pushed inward in all of your shoes right now.
  • A thin sole. This gives you more of the feeling of being barefoot so that you can feel what is under your feet. This is better for balance, as well as gives a form of reflexology to the bottom of your foot that is better for your whole body. So you get a mini massage when you walk over something that has contours to it instead of just feeling your shoe tilt and turn underneath you. People also talk about being “more connected to the earth” and things like that, which I don’t necessarily get, but I guess that’s a bonus.

The Find

 

roosI looked at a lot of shoes, and finally came out with the shoes on the right.  You can see them next to a pair of Vibram FiveFingers in that picture from Birthday Shoes. They actually look a lot like the clogs that I wear on a regular basis to work, primarily because they don’t have a back, so I can slip them off and on easily since I don’t like wearing shoes.

The shoes I decided on are actually similar to a moccasin where it doesn’t have a thick sole, and essentially just tighten around your ankle by way of elastic. They are called the Suede Roo’s, made by Soft Star Shoes. They have two different models of this shoe. One is a typical suede moccasin, and the other is a suede moccasin with a leather sole that is meant more for hard surfaces. I thought about how much I would probably wear them if I liked them and opted for the leather sole. It cost about $20 more, but I figured that if I wore them in public, I would appreciate not having to worry about the sole getting dirty or wearing out as quickly.

A couple of other pairs I have added since are some Instinct 1.5 shoes and Adam shoes from Altra, as well as a pair of Sanuk Men’s Hemp Slip-On shoes that are not minimalist, but are zero drop and meet the majority of my criteria.

The Verdict

Let me just say that I absolutely love these shoes. It isn’t necessarily the shoes that I love, though I do really like these, but instead the change for my feet. I have been wearing these shoes for about two weeks now and can’t imagine going back to the typical shoe.

  • My feet feel better at the end of the day, instead of being stuffed into a tight shoe. I actually forget I have shoes on once I am home because it just feels natural. Almost like having house shoes on all day.
  • Oddly enough, my knees feel better, which I did not expect, because my feet aren’t being pushed forward, which isn’t hurting my knees as badly as regular shoes did. I still have bad knees, but just walking around the office doesn’t hurt them like regular shoes did. I just realized a few days ago that my knees hadn’t hurt in some time and the only change is my footwear.

And these are just the immediate changes I’ve noticed. I am sure I will notice more, and hope that my toes spread, at least a little, so that I can see if it does make a difference in the amount of stability I have compared to the way I usually am.

The Consequences

A couple of things I have noticed regarding these shoes is that once you go barefoot/minimal, it is hard going back. I have never been one to pay attention to shoes, but now that I wear these, I can’t help but think about my shoes, and what other people wear. Not only that, it makes me want more than just my one pair. I will have to purchase some that are more durable for the outdoors and for things like sports. I can’t imagine playing basketball in these, not because they wouldn’t be comfortable, but because they just aren’t made for it.

Another thing I have noticed is that when I walk a lot, my heel actually hurts. I looked into this and it is because I am walking wrong. I think a lot of people do it and don’t realize it. When we walk in shoes, we typically take very long strides that force us to put our heel on the ground before our toes touch the ground. This is actually incorrect. When we are barefoot, we don’t do that, so why should we do it when we wear shoes? I find that I do it most often when I am in a hurry. The way I should actually be walking is by taking less steps that are a little more calculated than striking my heel on the ground every step. I should either be putting the ball of my toe down or the outer edge of my foot to the ground before my heel touches. It should be more fluid and graceful than my typical caveman walk where I stomp around on my heels all the time. I think this may be part of the reason my knees don’t hurt like they did. I am forced to walk differently while barefoot compared to in shoes, so if I put my toe down first, then my knees don’t have a chance to lock back, hurting my knee further.  I still have a lot of work to do to make it comfortable and normal, but I am making progress and it feels more normal everyday.

The Links

I have read a lot of good articles and want to give you the same articles I have found to look over. There is a lot of research and hard facts in these articles, as well as a lot of personal testimony. I recommend at least scanning through them to get some info.

The Case for Minimalist Footwear

10 Reasons to go Barefoot Running

How to Walk Barefoot 

Why Minimal?

The Children

I actually found quite a few links talking about how it was much better for kids to be barefoot and how it would help them later. I couldn’t find a lot of those articles when researching for this post, but I did find some of them, and there is information in the list of links above also. Some of the things I found most amazing were items like finding that our feet aren’t fully formed until later in our adolescent years. They are actually made of cartilage and turn to the 12 bones in our foot later on. So kids have more of a chance to have less foot problems if we start them early. Plus, kids are more clumsy because they can’t feel what is under their feet because of the thickness of the soles of shoes. This causes them to fall or stumble more often than normal, whereas adults have gotten used to it and know how to recover a bit better, so we don’t notice it as much.

Get Your Kids Into Minimalist Shoes to Ensure Natural Foot Development

When it Comes to Kids, Minimal can be Affordable

Healthy, Active, Barefoot Kids

Summer Tips for Barefoot Kids

Boulder Canyon Avocado Oil Chips

Chips that are paleo are hard to come by. Either they use junky oils that are high in Omega-6 fatty acids like canola, safflower, sunflower, or something similar, or they have a ridiculous amount of ingredients that were probably never meant to be consumed.

Paleo Chips? What?
Paleo Chips? What?

But, I found these Boulder Canyon Sea Salt chips at the grocery store a few weeks ago, and they are awesome! I know that white potatoes are a gray area food because of the insulin response that they create when compared to sweet potatoes, but I am healthy enough now where I don’t have as many blood sugar issues and can eat white potatoes without issue.

So, what are the ingredients in these?

boulder ingredients
Potatoes
Avocado Oil
Sea Salt

That’s it. That’s all that is in each and every wonderful chip. And the avocado oil gives a smoothness that is hard to describe when compared to regular chips. I wouldn’t say eat a bag a week or anything like that, but for those times when you need some crunch or want to eat just a few as you walk by the pantry, I think they would be just fine. And they obviously would be so much better for you than anything from Frito-Lays. They do have a couple of other flavors like Sea Salt and Black Pepper, and Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar, but the ingredient list is substantially bigger, and Malt Vinegar is derived from Barley Malt, so it makes me a little bit nervous about the amount of gluten that could be in that, and apparently I’m not the only one.

But I would wholeheartedly give a thumbs up to the basic Sea Salt wavy and kettle cooked chips as they are basic and use solid ingredients as the labeling says Non-GMO ingredients are used as well. Very solid line in the sand Boulder Canyon. I approve.