Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nature Box. Real Talk.

I don't front.  Let's just put that out there.  All opinions expressed below are my own and are awesome.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago on ye ol' Facebook that Nick and I had ordered the increasingly popular snack box subscription, NatureBox.  I'd seen it floating around the interweb for months and after recently starting to exercise again post-pregnancy, I decided it was time to up my culinary game.

In the spirit of "not fronting," I did not take this picture.  Google did.

Unbeknownst to me, the tag line for this company is "discovering better choices." I actually think I make pretty good life choices, save for the time I ate an entire bag of cubed cheese in one sitting while engrossed in a 1000 piece puzzle.  But generally, I've got it together.  

The area I struggle in would be snacking.  I'm known to grab a piece (or ten) of candy around 2pm to fight off the rumble in my tummy.  Honestly, it never really bothered me before now but I decided I needed to do something about it for two reasons:  1) Exercising sucks and if I'm going to torture myself, I might as well not hurt my efforts by pounding the Butterfingers like they were TicTacs.   2) I want to teach Carter to like good food.  I'm not an eco-health-nut. Red dye #5 will somehow make its way into his pure little body one day and he'll probably try a Twinkie (likely deep fried) and think it's amazeballs.  And he'll be right.  But I also want him to like fruits and veggies and nuts.  I want him to not turn his nose up when something new is offered to him.  Since children live by example, Nick and I needed to pony up.

The other part about NatureBox that intrigued me was that they send you different snacks every month.  I like trying new foods so this appealed to my (mildly) adventurous spirit.  We signed up for a monthly subscription where they send 5 full size snacks to your door for $19.95.  It seemed a bit pricey, but since I was a first time customer with a code, I got the first month for half off (you can too, see the end of this post!).  Five full size snacks for ten bones seemed like a good deal to me considering it costs $50 to breathe the air at Whole Foods.  

So this past weekend, it arrived.  Cue the trumpets.

Dum da da DUM!
So here's what we got and what I thought of each.  I'm hoping you'll find this as helpful as Andy Bernard's astute reviews.

1) Pistachio Power Clusters

I don't care for pistachios, so when I closed my eyes and reached for a random bag, I was kind of bummed that this was the first I picked up.  My only experience with pistachios is the memory of my dad eating them at night after he got home from work and getting red fingers from opening up the shells.  You'd think that would appeal to a child, but alas.  But I set aside my preconceived notions and opened up the resealable bag (check mark!).  

You guys.  They. Were. Awesome.

Each cluster had pistachios, almonds and cashews, held together with a little cane sugar and tapioca (don't read the ingredients first.)  I was really, really surprised how much I liked them.  I ran around the living room with glee as Nick tried them and kept saying "OMG I'm so glad we tried this.  This is the greatest invention ever.  Hail to the Naturebox."  In true Nick fashion, he replied with a simple "yeah, they're good."

And thus the reason I'm writing this review instead of him.  Plus, his schedule has gotten so jam packed since being named the sexiest man alive.

2) Roasted Kettle Kernels

I think it's clear by this point that I'm stealing these images from the internet.  Don't sue me, mmmkay?

It's day two and I'm pumped.  After day one's successful snacking, I had high expectations.

No socks were blown off, but they were good.  The taste was pretty amazing actually (if you've ever had kettle popcorn you'll know what I'm talking about).  It was the texture.  They were crazy crispy.  I was telling my mom about it later that day and she said "well sure, corn kernels are really hard to bite into because they're so hard."  She must get some type of corn newsletter that I'm not privy to because I was not aware that this was common knowledge.

Once you get past the initial "am I going to break a tooth on these?" phase, you really hit your stride and start going to town.  Next thing you know, I'd eaten my half of the bag and had to go deliver the rest to Nick.   He agrees with my assessment and then points out to me that the bag actually had FOUR servings in it.  Not two.

Let me take a tangent for a second.  Portions when it comes to snacking are whack.  I could deep fry some bacon and serve it with a shot of lard and probably manage my caloric intake for snacking if I ate just a little bit of it.  I could also eat 5 lbs of plain celery and have consumed negative 20 calories.  Neither option sounds that great to me.  I say all of this to point out that a really successful snack has to taste awesome and be a large enough portion for a snack that you feel satisfied.  So far, I would say the NatureBox snacks are a little on the skimpy side for a serving...but eating a bit more doesn't make me feel that bad.  They taste good and I can pronounce all of the ingredients listed.  Sounds like a win to me.

3) Cherry Berry Bonanza

Let me go ahead and say what everyone else is thinking: the name alone makes this snack cash money.  If any of you know Tanner Griffith, you know that a bonanza is "what he's all about."  (Tanner, if you're reading this, I will never hear that word and not think of you and the world's greatest clue.)  Honestly, I think there should be more bonanzas in this world.  I'm pretty sure we'd live in a happier place if that were true.

But on to the review.  I give these a 9/10.  After the prior day's super hard texture, the soft and chewy alternative was welcomed.  The cranberries had a nice tangy flavor and the blueberries and cherries added a bit of sweetness.  In your package, you get a pamphlet with suggestions on how you can incorporate your snacks into other foods (like on yogurt, or in biscotti, etc.)  I think these had the most versatility for being used as something besides a plain snack.  The only reason I didn't give it a 10 out of 10 is b/c I don't know that there is a perfect snack.  Until they come up with a calorie free cupcake, I'm fairly certain that will allude me the rest of my days.

4) Masa Crisps
If you're thinking they look like little chocolate chip cookies, you could not be more right.  And more disappointed.
So apparently I have a pretty bad habit of judging food before I eat it.  For some reason, I figured this stuff was going to be really bitter.  I don't know why, but I was preparing myself to not like it.  But as simply as I can put it, if you like Fritos, you're going to like these.

They taste almost identical to me.  Which is actually a good thing considering these are healthier with no artificial flavors, sweeteners or colors.  The wholesomeness makes me all warm inside.

Truth be told, I'm not Fritos' #1 fan so I like this little salty treat...but they're not my favorite.  The bag suggests eating them with hummus and veggies to beef up the snack and I imagine that's pretty good.  (Update: after having day 5's treat...these were definitely our least favorite of the bunch.  But I would venture to guess plenty of you would dig them.)

5) Vanilla Macaroon Granola

Let's get this out of the way: I have a theory that the macaroon is the new cupcake.  You know how a couple years ago, everyone and their mom was opening a cupcake shop around town?  Well everywhere you look now...people are pushing the macaroon.  I dunno what the hype is all about.  THEY'RE OK.  But I feel like perhaps adding this little buzz word to the granola snack was just a marketing ploy.  I SEE RIGHT THROUGH YOU, NATUREBOX.

But I have to tell you, this stuff is incredible.  A little vanilla, a little coconut...perfect crunch.  Girl, please.  I did find it odd that you just snack on plain granola (they obviously suggest putting it on top of yogurt or on top of baked apples) but I also stumbled upon this recipe as I was scouring for a picture to pirate.  Thankfully, we didn't eat too much plain so I'll be making these into balls before you can say...balls.

And 15,000 words later, there you have my review.  Will we keep getting boxes?  I think so.  I enjoyed the new food for each day and the anticipation of getting something in the mail, as lame as that sounds.  I also enjoy that now that I've done a full foodie review, I can start using phrases like "flavor profile" and I can call veggies "crudite" instead of "baby carrots."  If you're interested in trying NatureBox for yourself, throw us a bone and (update: use this coupon code "U3FDQ") so we get the referral credit.  You'll get $10 off too, so that's just a straight up win-win situation.

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