CF Reviews

Excruciatingly Honest Opinions About Health and Fitness Products.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vitalicious Review and Giveaway

So today we've got a review and giveaway of 3 sampler packs of Vitalicious products!

And is it just a coincidence that there's a big ol' Vitalicious banner ad running over on our main page all of a sudden? Er, well, not exactly! But here at Cranky Fitness we don't worry overly much about the feelings of the good people who give us samples or sponsor us or compensate us to review things, as is the case here. It's not that we're especially ethical--we're just too cranky and opinionated to be anything but honest. Oddly enough, sponsors are cool with that.

(Well, we don't know how warm and affectionate the Skinny Bitch video folks are feeling after Merry's honest review. But so far we haven't had any Skinny Bitches trying to bust down the doors of Cranky Fitness headquarters in order to beat the crap out of us. Yet. We'll keep you posted.)

Anyway, in case you haven't heard of Vitalicious, they sell muffins, muffin tops, cakes, mixes, brownies, and even coffee. Hungry Girl is a big fan. Their baked goods generally come in portion-controlled packs of 100 calories.

Our sampler pack of 24 muffins included:

Chocolate Fig VitaTops
Banana Nut VitaTops
Double Chocolate Dream VitaTops
Deep Chocolate VitaTops
Fudgy Peanut Butter Chip VitaTops
Golden Corn VitaTops
CranBran VitaTops
AppleBerry VitaTops
MultiBran VitaTops
BlueBran VitaTops

The Lobster and I tried every single variety, just to be thorough. We figured that calories can not possibly count if they're consumed while doing research!

So what did we think? Well, there were good things and bad things about the VitaMuffins. First the good news:

Things We Liked!

1. They're mostly whole grains, usually whole wheat flour, and generally it's the first ingredient.

2. A hundred calories isn't bad for either a muffin or a brownie. These are small, but they're fairly substantial and filling.

3. Most of the ingredients are pretty natural, and for those who don't like aspartame or sucralose, there doesn't seem to be any of that in there.

4. They're really convenient, and if you're trying to grab breakfast on the run, a stash of whole grain muffins on hand would serve you much better than a donut or a poptart.

5. For a hundred calories, they've got a fair amount of fiber and even a respectable amount of protein (typically 6 grams of fiber and 4 of protein).

6. They have 9 gazillion flavors (our sample pack didn't even get to them all) and chances are good you're going to find at least one of them you like.

I'd go with the Multibran or Banana Nut for breakfast, and either the Fudgy Peanut Butter Chip or the Double Chocolate Dream for a dessert. The Lobster's favorites were similar: the Golden Corn, Banana Nut, Apple Berry, and most of the chocolate flavors with one glaring exception (discussed below).

7. You can freeze 'em for up to nine months, or keep them around in the cupboard or fridge for about 5 days.

8. For a "convenience" food, they're a pretty darn healthy choice, and you don't have to feel horribly guilty eating them.

Things We Didn't Like:

1. I'm not a fan of adding vitamin supplements to food. I think it's best to get vitamins naturally whenever possible. And if I decide I need to supplement, I'd rather make a conscious decision about which sort of multivitamin formula makes sense to me--not get vitamins randomly added to processed foods. It's especially annoying to see this touted as a major selling point. If the vitamins occurred naturally because of all the healthy fruit in them, then sure, go ahead and mention that. But I wouldn't brag about throwing a vitamin pill into a muffin recipe. (On the other hand, the Lobster doesn't give a crap about the vitamin issue; no complaints there).

2. The taste was not quite as good as "real" muffins or brownies. They tasted more like virtuous, "not bad," compromise versions. The Lobster found them closer to the real thing than I did. I kept noticing a woody sort of taste, and the fruits added in lieu of extra fat tended to clash with the chocolate flavors. (The chocolate fig flavor was probably the worst of all. Neither of us liked that one).

But unless you live in fantasyland, there is kind of an expected flavor trade-off when eating a low fat, high fiber, vitamin fortified baked good. If you're feeling indulgent and want to splurge on the "real thing," these might not satisfy.

3. The Apple Comparison. In their marketing materials and on their website, Vitalicious compares the nutritional benefits of their products to those of an apple, implying that the muffins and brownies are a wiser choice.

I'm sorry, nice Vitalicious people, but come off it!

If you are honestly torn between eating an apple and eating a packaged processed vitamin-fortified muffin? Duh! Eat the apple!

The health benefits of Vitalicious products do not come from eating them instead of whole fruits and vegetables. They come from eating them instead of Krispy Kremes and Twinkies.

Overall: A sensible, healthy choice for a convenience food, especially if you crave muffins and brownies and are counting calories. If you're looking for a no-holds-barred indulgence, these probably wouldn't do it. But if you want something reasonably tasty, and are willing to experiment with finding your favorite flavor, these could become a great no-guilt alternative to much junkier options.

Now, On to The Giveaway--Where There is also Good News and Bad News.

First the bad news: U. S. residents only. So sorry!

And more Possibly Bad News: You need to provide an email address and sign up for a newsletter to enter.

But the Good News: There are three winners, and when you have even a slight contest entry barrier like a newsletter sign-up, you eliminate most of the competition! So if you sign up, there's a much better chance than usual that you'll win!

(Or, if that's too much hassle, the Vitalicious ad on in the left sidebar of our main page has a 10% discount if you want to try some without having to enter anything.)

Entry instructions:

Sign up for the newsletter here by the end of the day Wednesday, Sept 30.

Then come back and leave a comment on this post, or at the main Cranky Fitness post, letting me know you signed up.

The Vitalicious people will give me a list of the signer-uppers, and I'll haul out the Random Number Generator to pick the winner from those names.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great weekend!

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The authors of Cranky Fitness have opinions about fitness and weight loss products.

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