I’ve decided to start a little series called Ricki’s Raves, in which I share some of my favorite items (both food and non-food alike) that I truly love and use all the time. Today, I rave about the products I’ve discovered that provide healthier alternatives that still taste indulgent.
If you’re used to eating healthy food, you already know that healthy can easily equal “delicious.”
But what if we could make all that delicious, healthy food even. . . healthier? Without losing flavor or appeal?
In today’s edition of Ricki’s Raves, I’m talking about some new products and appliances I’ve discovered that help to enhance the health value of foods you are probably already eating. And who doesn’t want to eat even MORE yummy foods–entirely guilt-free?
1. Shantiva Copper Pitchers
What It Is
I have to admit, I wasn’t familiar with all the health benefits of using a copper pitcher before I was contacted by the folks at Shantiva Copper Pitchers. This beautiful and handcrafted pitcher looks more like an art piece than an functional tool that’s supportive of good health. Then I found out that the advantages of copper drinking vessels find their roots in Ayurveda, where they’ve been used for thousands of years.
More recently, these claims have been supported by modern health sources as well. By storing your water overnight in the pitcher and drinking it the next day, you’ll acquire all the health benefits of copper-infused water.
Why You’d Use It
Because copper is an essential mineral that is necessary for good health, you want to be sure you have enough in your body (though of course too much can be dangerous as well). When water is stored overnight in the copper pitcher, it’s gently infused with copper and can then be sipped throughout the day, used to create delicious drinks, or added as a beverage to meals to help you reach an optimum level in the body. This site recommends drinking two to three glasses a day to acquire the correct amount of copper.
Copper-infused water is not only highly alkaline (good for most of us in the modern world, as our bodies tend to be too acidic), it’s also known to have anti-inflammatory properties, support thyroid health, support clear skin and aid in digestion.
In addition, copper is known to be anti-bacterial, so water stored in a copper pitcher remains fresh longer and there’s much less chance of any unwanted microbes surviving in it.
What I Love About It
The copper pitcher is a gorgeous piece of handcrafted art as well as a health-supportive, functional tool.
I really love that each pitcher is created by hand, one at a time, so no two are exactly alike. The craftsmanship is clear and it’s put together exceptionally well; each pitcher is crafted from a single piece of copper, which makes it much more durable and long-lasting than inferior products (in fact, they company promises that they will last a lifetime).
The copper pitcher is also really easy to clean--simply wash the inside with regular dish soap and water, then dry right away. If you find that the pitcher develops a patina (dull spots), then just cut a lemon, sprinkle a little salt on it, and rub over the surface. I’ve done this a couple times already after we forgot to dry the pitcher immediately after washing and the copper acquired a few dull spots where the water dried; it brightened up immediately and looked good as new. (You’ll find full cleaning instructions with the pitcher or on the Shantiva website).
Plus, it’s breathtakingly beautiful just sitting on your table!
How I Use It. . .
As suggested by Shantiva, I stored my water overnight (or 6-8 hours) in the copper pitcher before drinking. This allows the copper ions to dissolve in the water (a process called Oligodynamic effect, ‘‘which has the ability to destroy a wide range of harmful microbes, molds, fungi” and so on). [source].
It’s also important to ensure that your vessel is made of pure copper (the Shantiva copper pitcher is), and that you don’t overdo it. Having a drink in the morning and perhaps one in the evening is enough to acquire sufficient copper. Also, this site suggests taking a one month break from the copper-infused water after drinking it for 3 months, to allow our bodies to recalibrate and eliminate any excess.
After I first filled the pitcher, I simply drank the water straight up to see how I liked it. It was fresh tasting and somehow “lighter” than what I was used to. There was no metallic taste (though apparently some people do detect it a bit). Really lovely!
I also started making lemon-infused water once the weather got a bit warmer. You can add whatever fruits or flavorings you prefer, but please note: it’s very important that you not add anything except water to the pitcher! Acids can degrade the copper and allow too much to leech into the water. So be sure to mix any beverages separately, and drink them from regular glasses!
2. Breville’s Smart Oven Air
What It Is
So we’re all familiar with the air-frying craze these days, right? Air frying allows you to achieve similar results to deep frying with only a fraction of the oil used, so that the final product is just as tasty, but much better for you.
The new Breville Smart Oven Air is a one-stop countertop appliance for air frying, convection baking, roasting, dehydrating, reheating, proofing, pizza-making and more–and let’s not forget toasting! You’ll be able to replace a long list of other small appliances with this one amazing oven.
Why You’d Use It
We had had a toaster oven for decades, but always found that it was either too small for many tasks, and of course wasn’t capable of others (like dehydrating or air frying). The Smart Oven Air is now stationed firmly where our toaster oven used to be, and we use it several times a day most days.
Some of the most common functions we’ve used so far are the air fryer (for sweet potato fries and regular fries; I’m really keen to try some of the more exotic recipes you’d find in my friend JL’s book, The Vegan Air Fryer, too), the convection oven (so quick and evenly browned!), the regular oven (recipe testing), the reheat function (perfectly timed) and the warm function (when you have a stack of pancakes or waffles you want to keep warm while you cook more).
What I Love About It
Just take a look at this 15-second video:
As with all the Breville appliances I’ve tried so far, the Smart Oven Air makes it as easy as possible for you so you can achieve the best results with the least effort. This means separate dials for function, temperature and time, all of which come pre-set, but which you can also change as you like.
In addition, this oven is big enough to house a 9×13 inch (23 x 33 cm) roasting pan, 12-cup muffin cup or 9 pieces of toast, yet it’s quiet enough that you won’t really notice it as it runs in the background. It fits neatly on our countertop where our old toaster oven used to be, yet replaces about 5 other appliances in the kitchen.
How I Use It
We’ve been playing with all the features we can since we got the oven a couple of weeks ago. First up, of course, was some air-fried sweet potato fries (see video, below).
These were fantastic! They browned up really quickly (they were ready in about a quarter of the time that they normally would take) and were fully crisp on the outside in only 18 minutes. Because sweet potato fries tend to be softer than regular fries, it normally takes a lot longer to become crispy, but not these babies!
Next up were some of my Best Home Fries Ever, made in the air fryer instead of a frying pan. Another hit–and we loved that they were ready in about a quarter of the typical time.
I’ve also used the oven to reheat weekend brunch waffles (which, as it turns out, I made in my Breville Smart Waffle maker!). So convenient when you’ve got frozen waffles on hand!
Finally, I’ve been developing a grain-free brownie recipe and have tested it both in the conventional oven as well as with the convection setting. I love the oven’s ability to switch back and forth between the two! There’s also a “super-convection” setting for those hard-core convection fans. The brownie came out about the same in each case, but obviously baked up much faster with the convection setting.
[Baking up a perfect brownie in the Smart Oven Air!]
I’m looking forward to giving some of the other settings a try, particularly the “Dehydrate” setting. This recipe is one I’ve made for ages in the regular dehydrator–and now that machine may just be set aside, too.
3. GLOW Ball Sugar-Free Truffles
[Coconut Cream Pie (with pieces of coconut on top) and Brazil Nut Cream (with Brazil nut crumble) GLOWBalls.]
What It Is
If you’re looking for a rich, indulgent-tasting treat that contains NO sugar, NO dairy, NO caffeine and NO artificial or unhealthy ingredients, look no further! Julie Beyer’s GLOWBall Truffles Classic Collection (or GLOWBall Truffles Luxe Collection) are an entirely natural, organic sweet treat that allows you all the enjoyment of the most sinful-tasting truffles without any of the negative consequences.
GLOW Balls are made with carob (rather than cocoa or chocolate), for a no-caffeine alternative that’s good for just about any diet, including the anti-candida diet! (If you prefer naturally sweetened chocolate, you can peek at the GLOW Chocolate Collection).
The combination of carob, organic coconut and coconut oil, plus an array of superfood ingredients like maca, mesquite or lucuma, ensure these truffles are not only incredibly delicious, but also elegant enough to serve to guests at the most posh of dinner parties or events.
Why You’d Use It
[Some of the “Naked” Truffles. Mmm!]
If you’re steering clear of sugar or refined sweeteners like I am, GLOWBalls are a fantastic way to treat yourself to something low glycemic, naturally sweetened (with green stevia and, for some of the products, maple syrup) and utterly delectable. There was absolutely none of the typical “stevia aftertaste” that people mention when consuming stevia-sweetened products; only a subtle sweetness combined with rich, full flavor.
These treats are also suitable for just about every “free-from” diet out there. As Julie states on the site, “All the ingredients we use are certified organic, refined sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten free, soy-free, GMO free and we use no preservatives, soy, corn or dairy. Everything we make is real and nutritious.” But you wouldn’t know it from the heavenly taste and texture!
What I Love About It
First and foremost, I loved the taste of these truffles. No, they’re not chocolate, but they were chocolatey nonetheless, satiny smooth, creamy and rich, with a mouthfeel like the very best chocolate truffle filling, melting slowly and lovingly on the tongue. Truly a delightful experience that you will relish.
My sample contained two flavors from the GLOWBall LUXE Collection: Brazil Nut Coconut Cream and Coconut Cream Pie. The flavor of the Brazil Nut Cream was similar to delicate milk chocolate, impossibly creamy and rich. The Coconut Cream Pie, while firmer, provided an almost fudge-like taste that was fantastic as well.
These treats are definitely the best products I’ve tasted in the sugar-free chocolate/truffle category, and incredibly high quality. GLOWBalls are a treat for both your taste buds and your whole body.
The truffles’ price varies depending on the size of the package you purchase, and the price per truffle decreases with larger orders. They start at $2.00 (Canadian) per piece, down to $1.40 per piece for the largest package; shipping is extra (and they ship outside Canada, too!).
But GUESS WHAT? Julie has kindly offered a special discount just to RH readers! Use the discount code RickiGLOW10 upon purchase and you’ll get 10% off your entire order! Pretty sweet, right? 🙂
How I Use It
I have to admit it, after the first taste, I was hooked and basically enjoyed the GLOWBalls all on their own, savoring every single bite. It was only after my sample had disappeared (far too quickly, I may add), that I realized it could have been fun to combine them with some other treats.
If you have the willpower to set some aside after you try them, they’d be great:
- chopped and/or crumbled over your morning smoothie bowl;
- chopped and added as a layer in a yogurt or pudding parfait;
- mixed into your favorite flavor of ice cream; or
- stirred into whatever sweet treat you think would benefit from the addition!
4. Health Garden Low Glycemic Sweeteners
What It Is
Health Garden began selling low-glycemic natural sweeteners in 2010 and currently bills itself as “the leading brand of natural sweeteners in the USA with our products being sold in 750+ stores across the country.” Yet, I have to admit, even though low-glycemic sweeteners are all I ever use, I was entirely shocked that I’d never heard of them.
Why? Because, while you may not find them in every local health food store, they are readily available in retailers such as Shoprite, HomeGoods, and Sam’s Club, and online at amazon.com, Walmart, Urth Market, and Jet.com and others.
Health Garden offers a full range of lower and zero-glycemic natural sweeteners, such as stevia, xylitol (my favorite granular low glycemic sweetener), erythritol, monk fruit, agave nectar, and more. When my package arrived, I was overwhelmed by all the amazing goodies inside!
Why You’d Use It
If you’re on an anti-candida diet or cutting down on sugar consumption for any reason (diabetes, other blood sugar issues, Lyme disease, leaky gut or just to get away from too much sugar in the diet), you want to be using lower glycemic sweeteners like those from Health Garden.
With so many options these days that taste and function like sugar without actually spiking blood sugar, there’s no reason not to use this type of alternative, natural sweetener. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can opt for stevia (the leaves of which provide natural sweetness), xylitol (a sugar alcohol that does exist naturally, but in smaller quantities, and has been shown to have some anti-candida benefits), or monk fruit (a zero glycemic sweetener that provides all natural sweetness), for instance.
These sweeteners work wherever another, higher glycemic sweetener might also work. See below for some great ideas!
What I Love About It
The products are cleanly packaged, all natural, gluten-free, GMO-free and all taste great (note that the only one I didn’t try yet is the agave nectar, since I’m not using it as much these days). All the dry sweeteners I sampled were great. They taste just as good as the other ones I’ve tried and produced the same kinds of results in baked goods and other treats.
And, of course, these low glycemic sweeteners are so much better for your health than sugar!
How I Use It
If you follow this site, you know that I LOVE my low-glycemic sweeteners and use them all the time! Do a search for “xylitol” or “stevia” on the site and you’ll find hundreds of hits. So here are just a few of the most recent sweet experiments I’ve had:
The BEST Chocolate Avocado Pudding.
This pudding is a recipe I created for my Sweet Life Club members, and it’s been all the rage for the past month since it was introduced! Using the Health Garden Golden Monkfruit as the sweetener, it reminds me of the classic cooked chocolate pudding you had as a child, with absolutely no trace of bitterness whatsoever.
Here’s what one Sweet Life member said about it:
Carrot Cake Ice Cream.
How perfect is this Carrot Cake Ice Cream for the warm weather? Using xylitol as the primary sweetener, it results in a perfectly balanced, sweet and creamy dessert that you’d never know didn’t contain sugar.
Not-Ella Carob Butter.
This is a great substitute for nutella if you’re someone who’s concerned about all the sugar in the traditional spread–and it’s even nut-free. This recipe uses stevia as the primary sweetener.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Ricki’s Raves–and that you’ve got a new perspective on how fantastic healthy food can be!
Want to know what else I love? Find the entire collection of Ricki’s Raves posts here.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by some or all of the companies featured here. As always, my opinions are my own. I never (ever) recommend items or products on the site that I don’t already use and love. If some links are affliate links and you choose to purchase using those links, at no cost to you, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.