Friday, June 21, 2013


One’s journey to health will have some twists and turns, especially when it comes to food.  It won’t always be easy, especially when it comes to snacking!  The thing to remember is not to beat yourself up if you get sidetracked.  Sometimes it’s the effort and not the failures that really matter.  In this article, I include reviews of healthy and nourishing snacks that are healthy, cookbook reviews from Mii Amo Spa, Mario Batali and Wilbert Jones; my interview with Wilbert Jones, a successful food scientist and developer, lecturer, cookbook author and chef; and, my recent experience at a Bloggers Breakfast at the extraordinary new Williams-Sonoma Store in Chicago, conducted by Chef Anupy Singla.  Lastly, there’s a segment on looking within your own community for inspiration, and another on spa food pairings and how spas are integrating food within their treatment therapies and how the companies that manufacture treatment products use whole foods in their formulations.  It’s all about healthy food and lifestyle options.

~ Healthy Indulgent Bites ~

Crunchies Freeze Dried Mango, Freeze Dried Cinnamon Apple, Freeze Dried Strawberry Banana, Freeze Dried Tropical Fruit, Freeze Dried Roasted Veggies, Freeze Dried Salted Edamame ~ While I know I should be eating more fruits and veggies each day, I don’t always enjoy prepping them, packing them up in single serve bags or containers, and tucking them in the fridge, often forgetting I put them there; waste often results.  But, with Crunchies, there’s no need for any of that hassle.  These are handy take with packages of freeze-dried untreated fruits or veggies in their natural and unaltered state, which maximizes their nutrient-dense properties.  There’s no added sugars and their gluten-free, non-GMO, cholesterol free and low fat.  The fruit varieties are a raw food; freeze-drying and a refrigerated vacuuming process preserves the purity of the fruit, making for a very intense natural fruit flavor and crunchy fruit product.  The same process is applied to the veggies.  Available in single serving and two serving packages, that fit nicely in a kid’s lunch sack or an adult’s carry with.  While I enjoyed all of these varieties, my favorites were the Freeze Dried Tropical Fruit, and Freeze Dried Roasted Veggies.  With these delicious Crunchies Freeze Dried varieties, there’s no excuse for anyone to miss getting their recommended daily servings of fruits and veggies.

Mediterranean Snacks Tapaz 2 Go*** Lentil Crackers+Red Pepper Hummus, Lentil Crackers+Classic Hummus, Lentil Crackers+Roasted Garlic Hummus ~ These handy take-with sets of Hummus and Lentil Crackers are the ideal healthy snack food.  The Lentil Crackers are baked, low fat, non-GMO, gluten free, cholesterol free and high in protein; one serving has 4g of protein.  The Crackers were crunchy and ideal for for scooping the tasty Hummus.  I thoroughly enjoyed all varieties of the Hummus; each was delicious and authentic, and made using tahini, sesame seed paste.  No refrigeration is ever required, which is another plus for busy on the go individuals.  These delicious Mediterranean Snacks can be supplemented with a piece of fruit and string cheese for a healthy and quick meal.

Simply Sprouted Way Better Snacks** Beyond Black Bean Tortilla Chips, Unbeatable Blues Tortilla Chips, No Salt Naked Blues Tortilla Chips, Sunny Multi-Grain Tortilla Chips, Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips, So Sweet Chili Tortilla Chips ~ I love crunchy snacks and these healthy Tortilla Chips could become an addiction.  What is great about these Tortilla Chips is that each variety is low fat, low fat, low sodium and cholesterol free.  Depending on the variety, the ingredients include sprouted seeds like black bean, golden flax, quinoa, radish, chia, broccoli, brown rice, plus the goodness of sweet potato, stone ground corn and pure sea salt and then cooked in high oleic sunflower or safflower oil.  The Tortilla Chips are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants.  These are a definite health food without thinking they’re a health food.  I enjoyed eating them as is, or dipped in a healthy salsa, or scrunched up and used as a topper in soup, chili or on a salad.

Silverland Bakery Crafted by Heart & Hand Brownies* Pomegranate Pistachio, Chocolate Truffle, Blondies, Salted Carmel, Raspberry Crumble, Dark Chocolate Apricot, Flax Seed, Oasis, Apricot Defense, Peanut Butter Raw, Spiced Ginger Raw, Mocha Raw ~ Reading through the varieties tested, these aren’t your ordinary brownies.  Brownies aren’t exactly a health food.  But, trust me, with a lot of discipline and limiting these, feeling guilty hardly fits into the equation.  These artisan-crafted Brownies use the purest and highest quality ingredients like 100% dark chocolate liquor, cocoa, semi-dark chocolate chips, dried whole fruits, nuts, flax seed, turmeric and ginger.  The Raw Brownies are vegan, wheat and dairy free and have no added sugar, making it a new health food!  And please, don’t ask me which variety was my favorite, since all of them were delicious.

Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle** Mint Chocolate, Chocolate Truffle, Chocolate Sea Salt, Chocolate Brownie ~ These low fat, low sodium and cholesterol free Brownie Brittle treats will satisfy the sweet tooth, without giving you the guilt.  Each variety had a depth of flavor that was rich in chocolate.  I enjoyed all four varieties, but the Chocolate Sea Salt was my favorite.   I also loved sprinkling the leftover crumbs on my yogurt for just the right amount of subtle sweetness.  These were crunchy, delicious and satisfying!

Wholesome Meals Snack Bites Vegan Cran Almond, Nutty Monkey, Sunny Honey, Chia Chocolate, Peanut Butter ~ You don’t have to be a vegan or adhere to a gluten-free diet to thoroughly enjoy these delicious Snack Bites.  Each variety was a tasty low fat, low sodium, cholesterol free and non-GMO free treat; each 4g Bite is packed protein, making this an ideal energy snack; there are six bites packed in a sleeve; the Bites are about the size of a golf ball.  Some of the ingredient profiles included organic peanut butter, organic sprouted brown rice, chia protein, organic sunflower seed butter, organic dark chocolate chips and organic molasses.  My favorites were the Vegan Cran Almond and the Nutty Monkey.

~ Healthy Cookbooks ~

Mii Amo Spa “A Journey of Taste” Cookbook ~ This Cookbook is from the award-winning spa Mii Amo and beautifully presents the Spa’s philosophy, while providing the reader a glimpse of what it’s like to experience this inspirational destination spa and dine on health-conscious food.  The recipes are simple to follow, require most pantry staple items or those readily available on-hand or at local food stores, and also includes suggestions for daily meal planning.  Along with these healthy and nutritious recipes, there’s a handy reference guide of measurements and equivalents that will turn the novice cook into a “seasoned” one.  The Cookbook is beautifully illustrated, easy to follow and inspirational, and a great way to bring the Spa experience to one’s home.

“Molto Batali Simple Family Meals From My Home to Yours” Cookbook by Mario Batali ~ This book contains Chef Batali’s all-time favorite family recipes.  The Cookbook is also uniquely broken down by month as a celebration of the best in seasonal produce and also contains a comprehensive “Glossary” on food ingredients and “Sources” for locating some of the ingredients used.  Unfortunately, I think many readers live in colder climates and may not necessarily benefit from the suggested monthly dishes because of seasonal-only ingredients; the Cookbook could’ve been made all the better by offering suggestions on ingredient substitutions, given the seasonal limitations due to geography and climate.  I’m also half Italian; my mother’s people are from the Southern region of Calabria; I recognized very few of his recipes beyond some of the ingredients, so I’m guessing that Chef Batali’s Italian roots are from Northern Italy.  His parents were French and Italian, and he also attended high school in Spain; it makes sense why these recipes would have an international and fusion element to them; I also think it would’ve been informative to know the culinary origins of his recipes and thus give a better appreciation for them.  Still, it’s a beautifully illustrated book, with easy to follow directions; obviously, the home cook doesn’t need to conform with Chef Batali’s monthly suggestions or even ingredients and dabble at will; I’d like to think he’d appreciate their initiative and creative bent.

“The New Soul Food Cookbook ~ Healthier Recipes for Traditional Favorites” by Wilbert Jones ~ When I think of Soul Food, I think of food that’s fried, caloric and spicy.  This Cookbook quickly dispels that misconception, by emphasizing “…Healthier Recipes for Traditional Favorites”.  The author beautifully and simply presents a portrait of loving memories and recipes that were cherished from childhood.  Being enlightened on the need to alter the diet and recognizing the health traps for many, and not just those in the African-American community, such as high cholesterol, high saturated fat content and high sodium content, Wilbert Jones, food scientist, food developer and passionate cook, was determined to recreate the most beloved recipes without sacrificing tradition, taste and quality.  What resulted was his first cookbook of several, “The New Soul Food Cookbook…”  Each recipe is easy to follow and uses widely available ingredients that are readily available and not “exotic” or extravagant; occasionally, ingredient substitutions are suggested.  This Cookbook includes healthified versions of traditional recipes for appetizers, main entrees, breads and rolls, soups, salads, side dishes and desserts; included are suggested menus.  The Cookbook is written in an encouraging manner and not one that chastises, like so many other so-called cookbooks that extol the virtues of healthy eating.  I made the Citrus Barbecue Sauce and had all of the ingredients on hand.  This delicious sauce is recommended as a pairing with meat, poultry and even Fried Green Tomatoes; the Cookbook includes a recipe for those as well.  I used the Sauce to “smother” boneless and skinless chicken breasts.  I layered the chicken breasts with sliced yellow onion, green bell pepper and an additional squeeze or two of fresh lemon, and then “smothered” everything with the Sauce; I then baked everything at 350°F oven for about an hour.  The finished dish was delicious.  The Citrus Barbecue Sauce intensified the flavors and added a tang and sweetness to the dish.  I wonder how it would taste over Baked Brie en Croute?

~ Interview ~ 

While I’ve known Wilbert Jones for a number of years through our professional writing interests, spending some time with him to talk about his background made me aware of his extraordinary talents and how many lives his many talents have touched.   

For starters, he’s a successful Food Product Developer, Marketing
Consultant, TV Host of Food/Travel Programs and Cookbook Author.  His expertise is constantly in-demand, whether that involves his speaking before a class of culinary students, or cooking on many of the Chicago-area television stations, or authoring or co-authoring books about history, music and food.  Then there’s the other side of him where he works closely with clients on food science and development, marketing and other operational aspects of their business, including sourcing, inventory control and improved manufacturing efficiencies.  In asking him who influenced and inspired him during his formidable years, without hesitation he said his grandmother; for him, family was always key to his journey and remains an integral part of that journey.  In addition to his grandmother’s influence and inspiration on especially the culinary, other influencers included his godmother, Julia Child, Art Smith and Charlie Trotter. 

In the mid-1980s and while attending college, he was able to intern at Kraft Foods in their Micro Biology area; during this time, he was also given an opportunity by Kraft Foods to travel to France and study at the prestigious Ritz-Escoffier School of French Gastronomy.  He would remain at Kraft Foods for another nine years and would eventually start his own company in 1993.  From that point on, he prospered in the culinary arts and sciences.

While his award-winning Cookbooks haven’t always been just about health, they have always remained a reflection of who he was and where he came from.  Since 1998, he’s been a Contributing Editor for Prepared Foods Magazine, as well as a Freelance Special Features and Lifestyle writer for (Black Entertainment Television).  Other impressive accomplishments have included hosting a popular PBS television series, the Healthy Heritage Kitchen (2008), which re-runs on national PBS stations.  In 2002, he was inducted into the prestigious Les Amis d’Escoffier Society of Chicago; the invite-only membership is reserved for those individuals who have established themselves in haute cuisine and culinary traditions and is held in high esteem by his piers.  Other projects he’s working include a cable television program on African cooking; guest lecturing at Chicago’s top-rated Kendall College, which is dedicated to the culinary and hospitality arts; and, working on a book about Chicago Blues.  Wilbert Jones is one of Chicago’s finest and influencers in the culinary arts and sciences.

~ Cooking Demo ~

In “A Healthy Lifestyle Through Food ~ Part One”, Anupy Singla and Indian As Apple Pie are featured, and I also had the pleasure of joining a number of other Chicago-area bloggers at a recent Blogger Breakfast held at the gorgeous new Williams-Sonoma Store (1550 North Fremont, Chicago, IL 60642).  We were treated to a demonstration and tasting of recipes from Chef Singla’s Indian Vegan Cooking” cookbook of Roti and Parantha; the Roti was stuffed with spicy potatoes.  The staff at Williams-Sonoma also brewed fresh Illy coffee and had plenty of yummy homemade chocolate chip and poppyseed cupcakes on hand as well.  Both recipes looked easy to prepare and a few of the bloggers were even encouraged to try their hand at making them.  All attendees enjoyed these delicious vegan recipes and additional taste treats. 

In addition to this informative cooking demonstration and tasting, the new store also has one of the largest, if not the largest, in-store cooking areas I’ve ever seen.  There was a main counter with multiple cooking stations, plus two additional flat top moveable cooking stations.  There was also multiple seating available at the counter, making for a comfortable session.  One of the announcements made at the breakfast by staff member Sarah, was that this new location was going to be the first-ever Williams-Sonoma location to offer a Cooking School.  As details were being worked on, the hope was that the Cooking School would begin its sessions later this summer.  We’re all excited about this! 

Throughout the session, there was a wonderful Q & A exchange; one of the questions posed had to do with the shelf life of whole spices versus ground; Chef Singla reminded all of us that with whole spices, the potency can remain fresh for four to five years, while ground, usually only three months; of course, how the spices are stored matters too; storing them in air tight containers and in a dark area where there’s no heat is recommended.  Another tip she shared with us that in using cooking oil for her recipes, she always uses neutral tasting oil, such as grapeseed or canola, to avoid flavor migration that would alter the intended taste of the recipe.  Lastly, if you’re in the Chicago-area, be sure to visit this enormous and beautiful new Williams-Sonoma Store; the floor to ceiling windows adds natural light, which makes for a very open and airy feel throughout the store and makes for a wonderful shopping experience.  Another plus is that there is a parking lot, something very favorable given the proximity of this heavily congested trendy part of the city.

~ Healthy Eating Opportunities ~

I’m always curious about learning new aspects of healthy eating or having aspects reiterated by various sources.  My local library started out the New Year by offering a workshop on health conscious and budget friendly eating.  In late February, they also offered a workshop on healthy cooking vegetarian options.  I also recently went through a healthy eating makeover program sponsored by my local Whole Foods Market.  The program was aptly named “Health Starts Here, 14-Day Blast Off”.  There were three Monday night sessions that involved lectures, literature, cooking demos and tastings; participants received an incentive “program kick-off” goody bag containing whole wheat pasta, organic white beans and fat free marinara sauce; the items helped to point all of us in the right direction.  Healthy eating doesn’t mean sacrificing taste, variety or nutrition.  These workshops were a great way to gain exposure to additional information on nutrition; lessons learned were also a great reminder of what folks needed to do to step up their “game”.  Be sure to check your local library and specialty food stores for informational workshops, cooking classes, or guided nutrition programs that might be offered to locals. 

~ Spa Food Pairings ~

International SPA Association (ISPA) member spa facilities are pairing food with their therapeutic spa treatments.  Laguna Cliffs Resort & Spa, where Spa Director Jessica Timberlake found farm-to-table treatments a missing element from high-end spas.  “We are incorporating fresh ingredients sourced from VR Green Farms of San Clemente, Calif. into our seasonal body treatments and facials. We are also looking into some cross-branded retail items so our guests can take their spa experience home with them.”

Many spas feel that offering local and whole foods are a part of the mantra of their spa. “Paying tribute to the land and family farming supports our mission of wellness in all we do and setting an example of love and respect for the earth,” said Communications Manager, Carla Minskey at Sundara Inn & Spa in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.  The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Raleigh, N.C. partners with a local, organic, fair trade, coffee company to provide three flavors of coffee to their guests, even creating a flavor named after the hotel.  ISPA President Lynn McNees added that, “ISPA member spas are doing their part within their local communities and are partnering with farms to bring their clients nutrient-rich components as part of their experience and visit to the spa. This is such a natural fit for an industry that has spent decades promoting to the health-conscientious consumer.”

Food pairing doesn’t just stop with spas and their treatment menus, as many personal care product companies have been infusing elements of whole food, extracts, pulp, seeds and essential oils into their preparations as a way of adding nutrient-dense properties of food into their product profiles, while also improving the product’s efficacies.  Historically, many cultures have always used food for its beneficial properties of health and restoration, whether ingested or applied topically.  The adage “what’s old again is new” continues to serve well younger generations as they age in both wisdom and years!

*       Exhibitor, National Restaurant Association Show (NRA)
**     Exhibitor, Sweets & Snacks Expo (SSE)
***   Exhibitor, NRA and SSE

(N.B. Like the IHHS and NRA, the SSE is also an annual trade-only event that draws exhibitors and attendees from around the globe, and considered one of the better events in its category.  At this year’s event, there was a strong presence of companies exhibiting products that were natural, organic and gluten-free.)

~ Wrap-Up ~

It’s all about moderation and enjoyment.  If food weren’t both nourishing and enjoyable to the senses and sustenance, our species would have ceased to exist.  So, the next time you want to splurge and consume something decadent, or even calorie-laden, don’t feel guilty about indulging.  Enjoy, savor and make the indulgence as healthy as possible; besides, you can always make up for it the following day with a bit more effort in your fitness routine!

That’s it for this edition.  Until the next one, remember to take care of yourself and those you love.

By Terry Herman

Terry Herman is a recognized expert in the industry, and regularly covers issues that include business, management, operations, customer care, treatments, products, and trends. In addition to writing and reviewing, she is also a management consultant and motivational speaker.  She also serves on EXPERIENCE | PREMCHIT Journeys In Retreat To Wellness Advisory Board, which is comprised of ten international experts in various fields of wellness and spa.  She also serves as a Group Manager for the popular LinkedIn group, The Spa Buzz.  You can email her at


(Introductory photo from  All other photo credits as represented from the specific brand.)

N.B.  Google’s blog platform is incompatible with my Mac OS X and Firefox browser latest software versions, which is why some web links appear in different colors and why when attempting to have embedded images their sizing is consistent and/or can’t be sized. 


  1. Less is more can be applied to healthy food in so many ways like less salt, less oil, no msg (E621). This is demonstrated in the free to download healthy gourmet Thai vegan or omnivore recipes at

    1. ...thanks for your input...I have a review in Part One of a low-sodium product, LoSalt...the way to encourage people to eat a more healthy diet and to live a lifestyle that's healthy involves a lot more aspects than just being need to also read my Part One for additional and balanced content...


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