For the past 15 years, Randy Boyer and Andrea Donsky have made it their mission to introduce healthier choices for food, vitamins, and personal care products with the Healthy Shopper Coupon Book. It’s available on their website The Healthy Shopper (thehealthyshopper.ca), which features the book as well as product reviews and now a one-stop online shop for the best natural and organic options. We have featured their Top Picks for 2012 and 2013 and are excited to review the Healthy Shopper Top Picks for Spring 2014.
Their first choice is Maison Orphée’s unrefined organic virgin sunflower oil, extra virgin olive oil and virgin coconut oil. Maison Orphée’s products have not been genetically modified or treated with chemical fertilizers, which is an important feature to me since there are already so many GMOs and chemicals in the foods we eat.
I use coconut oil all the time. I use it in baking and raw desserts, as well as for frying. It is heart-healthy oil and even though it got a bad rap a few years back, it really is a fantastic option. It can also be used as a moisturizer and in beauty products. Like most people, we also use EVOO a ton and my husband did a blind taste test with what we already had and found the Maison Orphée’s to be lighter tasting and “less cloudy”, which was the only way he was able to put it into words. I haven’t used sunflower oil too much, but I’m looking forward to baking with it and seeing how my desserts turn out.
The next items in the basket were organic barbeque sauces from Simply Natural products. These sauces offer an organic alternative to traditional barbeque sauces and come in organic tangy, smoky and honey flavours. The sauces are all fat free and do not contain any of the “Scary 7” ingredients the Healthy Shopper recommends avoiding (High-fructose corn syrup, Trans fats, MSG (Monosodium glutamate), Artificial sweeteners, Artificial colours, Artificial flavours and Preservatives). We tried the smoky flavour on some barbequed tofu steaks and it was perfect. Not too heavy and just enough flavour to give the tofu a nice taste without being spicy.
The basket included two coupons for free items of Olympic Dairy’s organic milk, cream cheese, sour cream or yogurt. While I don’t often buy dairy for my household, I do appreciate this brand doesn’t have preservatives, gluten or gelatins. When we were eating more dairy and I was serving it to my son, I mostly bought Olympic products.
The last items are some of my very favorites, and come from Earth Balance, which offers natural buttery spreads and nut butters that do not require stirring. Earth Balance Buttery Spreads are gluten free, have no trans fat and do not contain any GMOs, emulsifiers, artificial preservatives, flavours or colours. I have been buying their vegan margarine for a few years now and had hesitated to purchase their peanut butters, as I usually buy the natural variety that includes just peanuts. The basket featured both crunchy and smooth natural peanut butter with flax seed as well as the crunchy and smooth varieties of their coconut and peanut spreads.
I was thrilled and quite humbled when I compared the smooth peanut butter with flax that came in the basket with the nutrition label for my “just peanuts” variety and was shocked to learn that the contents were virtually identical except that the Earth Balance was higher in heart-healthy omegas (due to the addition of flax oil) and only had 1 gram of sugar vs the 0 grams in the product I already had. Knowing this and since I hate having to stir natural varieties or having them turn rock hard in the fridge, I will add the Earth Balance peanut butters into our regular rotation. I also made some fantastic vegan and gluten-free “butterfinger” bars with the smooth variety of Earth Balance peanut butter and they were fantastic!
I had a great time testing and tasting this year’s Top Spring Picks and do believe they are great options for your next summer picnic or barbeque. The Healthy Shopper does a fabulous job of taking the guess work out of buying natural and organic options, which can be overwhelming for many of us.
Win it: One lucky CAN reader will win a gift bag with all the goodies we tried and the coupon book ($225.00-value). Enter to win via Rafflecopter below. Good luck!
Jen Shragge lives just south of Vancouver, BC with her Kid, Hubby and Doggie. When she’s not trying to make the world greener she is trying to get her family to eat more greens. She writes about her attempts and includes her recipes at cookingforthecarnivore.