Keen-Wah Decadence

From the appealing phonetic spelling of Keen-Wah, for quinoa, to their healthy nutritional profile, I was set to enjoy these gluten free, vegan bars from Yoga Earth at first sight.

Yoga Earth is a fascinating company that invites a community of health-conscious consumers to come together to curate, design, and share new products reflecting the best in nutrition, yoga, and eco-design. All that sounds pretty evolved to me. As a yogi, I like the idea of being able to have input into what new items Yoga Earth will offer. Their open process feels like a paradigm shift from the more typical company strategy of telling me what I should like. These folks actively seeks out my opinion, and yours. One pass through their website will immediately show you how different their approach is.

I sampled three 42 gram Keen-Wah bars, all of which are organic. In addition to quinoa, they include cacao, chia seeds, almonds, almond butter, coconut nectar, Himalayan sea salt, and protein powder made from brown rice. Two of them have five grams of protein, while the third one, Raw Cacao Chia, has six. They have four grams of fiber and 8-10 grams of sugar (mostly from low-glycemic coconut nectar). In addition, they’re full of omega-3s and antioxidants.

Raw Cacao Chia was my favorite. I loved the mix of textures: an interior of crispy-chewiness enrobed in silky dark chocolate. The chocolate flavor was present in every bite, and it sated any between meal peckishness.

Cayenne Cinnamon, also covered in dark chocolate, was notable for its heat, which was enough to make the bar stand out without offending anyone’s tender sensibilities.

Coconut Almond was the mildest of the three, also coated in dark chocolate, and tasted the healthiest.

Quinoa is a great source of plant-based protein, with 18 amino acids, including all nine essential acids the body uses to generate and assimilate protein. This 3,000 year old seed that cooks up like a grain, has been a pantry staple of mine for years. If you like to experiment with unusual starches, you might try a quinoa-millet pilaf: In a small rice cooker put 1/2 cup millet, 1/2 cup well-rinsed quinoa (use a fine sieve for this), and a generous two cups of water. (I add different spice blends depending on my mood, but you can make it plain, which is more versatile.) Let the pilaf sit in the rice cooker for an extra 5-10 minutes at the end of the cooking time. This goes well with anything, and lends itself to savory and sweet inclusions. So, it would be a great base for a stir fry, primavera, or your morning cereal.

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