Food & Fitness

Devouring Books

Charlotte is trying to kill me! Just kidding. This month her supercool new fitness experiment is the Action Hero Workout, and as she kindly invited all of us to jump on board I happily opted to join in the ranks. Because clearly doing boot camp three times a week isn’t enough!

Well. I have completed the first two (brutally intense) parts of the workout. I’m halfway through. My body is suggesting that it has done quite enough squats and lunges from earlier today at boot camp, thank you very much. But the day is still young! I am determined to complete this workout by the end of today. And hopefully I will manage to keep it up three times a week in addition to the boot camp. Gotta love a good challenge!

My curiosity is piqued when it comes to the rave reviews that food items such as Kashi products seem to be getting from all angles. I’ve got a “75 cents off!” coupon for Kashi granola bars and so I decided to take a look at the nutrition information for the product that they were promoting; the Cherry Dark Chocolate Chewy Granola Bar. The ingredient list is as follows (from their website):

Kashi Seven Whole Grains & Sesameยฎ Blend (Whole: Hard Red Winter Wheat, Oats, Rye, Barley, Triticale, Long Grain Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Sesame Seeds), Brown Rice Syrup, Cherries (Red Tart Cherries, Apple Juice Concentrate), Dark Chocolate (Evaporated Cane Juice, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla), Evaporated Cane Juice Crystals, Soy Protein Isolate, Soy Grits, Chicory Root Fiber, Corn Flour, Honey, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Rice Starch, Vegetable Glycerin, Oat Fiber, Evaporated Salt, Molasses, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavors, Peanut Flour, Almond Flour, Whey, Annatto Color.

In terms of nutrients, the packaging boasts 4 grams of fibre per bar and 5 grams of protein. But for vitamins and minerals, all it’s got is a measly 6% of daily iron intake. It’s great to see that there’s no hydrogenated oil or high fructose corn syrup, but I’m a little disappointed by what I’ve learned about these bars. Brown rice syrup is the second ingredient on the list. It’s got even more sugar in the way of evaporated cane juice, honey, and molasses. And the amount of iron is very small, in addition to the lack of other vitamins and minerals.

I must confess that I do not understand the love affair with Kashi. It looks like it’s a slightly less processed version of any other granola bar. But if you think otherwise, do defend the Kashi! (like I said, my curiosity is piqued, and even though I’m doing my best to stay away from processed foods, I’m also somewhat looking for an excuse to give these a small taste-test and see what the fuss is all about:)).

And now, to celebrate the beginning of the week, I present you with yet more books! Books books books:

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

At long last, I have read this book! And now I finally understand why it’s such a bestseller. Not only is his writing style brilliant, but Pollan really knows what he’s talking about and his in-depth explanation of his philosophy (“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”) is laid out in a very engaging, comprehensive way. If you’re reading Real Food, then this book complements it beautifully. I read them at the same time and much of what Pollan and Planck discuss overlaps. And, as with Planck’s book, nearly the entire time I was reading In Defense of Food I wanted to jump up and down excitedly and exclaim “This is me! This is what I’m trying to do!”. The timing for my non-processed project and for reading this book was perfect.

Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal: An A-Z Guide to Safe and Healthy Eating

This book is an encyclopedia of food. It’s got everything from sections on Shellfish to Food Poisoning to Hives to Mayonnaise to Nectarines. Discussing the benefits and drawbacks of food, and what foods to eat plenty of/limit/avoid for different disorders, this book is a wealth of information. And it’s get pretty pictures too! (Yes, yes I do like my pictures).

Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous: A Nutritionist’s Guide to Living Well While Living It Up by Esther Blum, MS, RD, CDN, CNS

If you were browsing through the bookstore and saw a bright pink book with a woman perched inside a martini glass on the front cover, would you have been able to resist opening up said book? (Yeah, I have a weakness for interesting covers). This was a cute book to read and made some good points/offered helpful tips for enjoying life while staying healthy. Most of what it recommends is tips that you could find in any health magazine/book, but they’re still useful to know and you get the pleasure of reading them from a glossy pink book with some pretty illustrations throughout. Because it’s a book for the party-girl, it has some very useful information regarding alcohol choices, what to do for hang-overs, a list of “splurge vs. solutions” (such as trading homemade hot chocolate for Starbucks hot chocolate), and advice for when PMS and other ailments hit. However, Blum is very pro-supplementation, which I’m not too keen on, although she does offer a thorough explanation behind different types of supplements and which ones are useful for various problems.

Libations of Life: A Girl’s Guide to Life One Cocktail at a Time by Dee Brun

(I promise I’m not an alcoholic!). This is one of the cutest bartending drinks I’ve ever come across. Silly pictures with tidbits of advice scatter the pages in between dozens of drink recipes- it would make for a cute birthday present. The drinks have interesting names like “I’m going to leave him Martini with a slice of dignity” and “I hope you get caught in a Mudslide” and the “He called me by his ex’s name On The Rocks with a splash of uncomfortable silence”. I have yet to actually make any of these recipes, but next week is my friends 20th birthday so perhaps we will break in the book then! And I will report back on the taste factor. P.S. This classifies as a sort-of health book because it has a “Trim the back fat” chapter, which uses “healthier” alcoholic recipes.

The Amazing Adventures of DietGirl by Shauna Reid

Yes! The book that I won from one of MizFit’s Friday Freebies has arrived at last! This is one of my new favourite books. I loved it. It’s all about DietGirls real-life story about her weight-loss journey over a period of seven years (go check out her blog!). A very inspiring, funny story that I’d recommend to anyone.

So there you have it; that’s it for this slew of books. Now it’s your turn! Any good books to recommend (or to stay away from!)?


  1. Kelly T

    its kind of hard to find any granola products that are completely good for you. People like sweet, so they think that since kashi is the best they can find, its good. It may be the best out there but that doesnt make it good.

    Bear naked is really good. they dont make granola bars that I am away for, but they make loose granola with very little sweetners at all. and a lot of good flavors as well.

    i think people think granola is healthier than it actually is.

  2. Sagan Morrow

    Running Knitter- you’re welcome! I’ve heard a lot of similar ravings about Luna bars, come to think of it. But Clif bars aren’t really ringing a bell.

    Kelly- my thoughts exactly! Most people instantly think that granola translates into something being virtuously healthy. And perhaps often without doing any actual research to determining just how “healthy” it really is.

  3. Charlotte

    Yay, Sagan! I can’t even tell you how excited I am that you are doing this experiment with me:) Make sure and tell me what you think so I can include it in my write-up!

    Yeah, i don’t do granola bars. Or “protein bars” either. So much sugar and other processed items! I like the taste of some of the kashi cereals but for me they def. fall into the treat category.

    LOVED Pollan’s books.

  4. P.O.M.

    There are a few Kashi bars that I like, you just have to test out a few. I’m really not a fan of “fake” food like that, but sometimes (like when traveling) it’s better than the alternative.

    Books? Hmmmm, I need a good one. It’s been a while since I read a book I really love.

  5. MizFit

    THANK YOU FOR THE REVIEWS (I do NOT get the love affair either. at all.
    never HEARTED the Kashi)

    I am always reminded of my friends who, in college, gained their freshman 15 and a few other peoples’ as well ALL ON GRANOLA!

  6. Robin

    It’s not granola, but I really like Lara bars. They are just fruit and nuts, so if you need something on the go, they are a good choice. Each bar only has about four ingredients, and it seems like the only processing is smooshing them together. Check them out at

    I am interested to see how you like the action hero workout. I just heard about it yesterday. I don’t know if I am that motivated, but let us know how it works for you.

  7. Gena

    Thanks for the reviews! I’m picking up In Defense of Food from the library today (it finally became available!).

    I like the Kashi bars because they are high in fiber and protein. I generally need a snack I can throw in my purse and eat while I’m walking around doing stuff, and these fit the bill. Kashi, while not entirely healthy and unprocessed, is about the best you’ll be able to find at any old supermarket.

  8. the Bag Lady

    Sagan – I’ve tried the Kashi bars and wasn’t all that enamoured of them. Not a real granola bar or protein bar eater anyway.
    I have the book “Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal” and quite like it.

    Oh, you might want to check out the Bag Lady’s Blather today….. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Sagan Morrow

    Charlotte- I’m very excited too! And you’ve read Pollan’s other books? Are they as good as this one?

    Robin- I checked out the Larabar site and you’re right; they are pretty natural. They sound kind of like my no-bake PB cookies! But I like cooking things so I’d rather make my own bars than buy them.

  10. WeightingGame

    I interviewed Esther Blum and she was great! One tip she gave me: you can apparently get rid of even the most killer hangiver by eating something called an umeboshi plum. They’re – according to her – disgusting tasting (they’re pickled plums, found in the Asian foods section of the grocery store) but I guess sucking on one helps with a hangiver.I’ll stick to stopping drinking after two martinis!!

  11. Sassy

    I was not impressed by the Kashi granola bars. But I don’t usually eat any granola bars… so, take that for what it is worth.
    I do however, love the Kashi Go lean Crunch cereal, because of its protein and fiber keeps me full for a good while.

  12. Sagan Morrow

    Leslie- I think I’d choose to have one less drink over a hangover, too. So not fun! Very cool that you got to interview her.

    Shauna and Sassy- thanks for reading!

  13. Stephanie Quilao

    I too wondered about all the who-ha about the Kashi bars and tried them. I did like the Almond chocolate one. Although I’m not really supposed to eat almonds cause o my Type II allergy, but I took one for the team…lol…I’ve been liking the Raw Revolution bars and Karma Kookies which are also raw. They are more like a round bar than a cookie.

    We’re reading the same books ๐Ÿ˜‰

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