Sometimes people send me things to sample. Usually they’re hoping for a review — some of them ask, some of them don’t. Usually they’re hoping I’ll at least pass on a message to you, dear Reader, and help promote their company.
You can see I don’t actually post that many reviews. I try to live by the adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” If I don’t believe in a product or actually use it myself, I certainly don’t advertise for it. I don’t care how much money I can make, I refuse to sell out. My integrity means everything to me.
Paleo companies are popping up all over the place, as Paleo becomes the newest and greatest thing since gluten-free sliced bread. Even some Vegans are converting. I’ve received samples from companies claiming to be Paleo but when I read the ingredients on their flashy packaging, I’ve been bitterly disappointed. Not only did I not consume their products, I didn’t blog about them, either.
I have standards, you see.
Paleo Treats: Rations for the Driven
I was contacted a couple weeks ago by a representative of a company called Paleo Treats. They didn’t ask me for a review, they asked me to become an affiliate for their company. A quick look at their website piqued my interest. They clearly list all the ingredients in their products and all the ingredients were Paleo. I wrote back and asked for a sample. I didn’t want to push this stuff until I’d tried it myself. I’ve made crappy Paleo “treats” in my own kitchen and have given up trying; the pictures in my cookbooks look amazing but never turn out the way I expect them to. They taste…healthy. To be honest, this is what I expected from PaleoTreats. I was delightfully mistaken.
My package arrived the next day. There was a flyer in the box telling me to either freeze or refrigerate any of the treats I wasn’t going to eat that day. This was a refreshing change: a product that actually spoils if you leave it out too long. Sure sounds Paleo to me — after all, real food spoils.
I threw all the treats in the freezer, except for a Brownie Bomb, which I decided I was going to eat right then and there. Take a look at the picture and you’ll see why. The ingredients were listed as: honey, pecans, eggs, coconut oil, cacao powder, almond flour. It was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most delicious thing I’ve had since I went Primal. The texture was a combination of cake and mousse – not chewy like a traditional brownie, but perfect in all other regards, especially taste.
A entire brownie is actually two servings. Even though honey is listed as the primary ingredient, the brownie wasn’t overly sweet. I couldn’t actually stop at one serving, I ate the whole thing in one sitting. That made a total of 28 grams of sugar – about the same amount as a Snickers bar. But the difference between this and a regular candy bar was that the Brownie Bomb didn’t make me sick, depressed or break out the next day. I felt good eating it and my body liked it.
The next day, I tried the Mac Attack. It was, in a way, even better than the Brownie Bomb. Chewy coconut, combined with chocolate chunks, it tasted just like the chocolate macaroons my mom used to make, except it didn’t have 3 cups of sugar, corn syrup and sweetened coconut in it. I took it out of the freezer while I was eating my lunch and it was ready to eat by the time I finished my salad. The ingredients in the Mac Attack are: shredded coconut, egg whites, honey, cacao powder, cacao nibs, vanilla extract. That’s it. Only 12 grams of sugar for the entire cookie but you wouldn’t know it. My first thought was, I betcha I can make this on my own. My second thought was, no. I can’t. Not this good, anyway.
The next day, I ate the Mustang Bar. OMG. How could it possibly be even better than the other treats I’d eaten?? It was. It truly was. This one is my favorite. At only 9 grams of sugar, you’d think it would be so-so, but it wasn’t. I had to force myself to slow down and enjoy every bite. The Paleo Treats website describes the Mustang Bar as follows: “Creamy buttery nutty goodness, this lil’ fella melts in your mouth from straight out of the freezer. A cross between paleo granola and a sweet snack bar, this is like paleo candy.” The Mustang Bar contains almond butter, coconut oil, walnuts, honey, almonds, raisins, pumpkin seeds, almond flour, coconut, vanilla and salt. More ingredients than the other products, but man, what a combination of flavors.
The only product I haven’t tried personally is the Cocao Now chocolate bar. It looks amazing, but it has goji berries in it. For those of you that have read my posts on Hidradenitis Suppurativa, you know that I have an autoimmune condition and need to avoid all nightshades. Goji berries are, sadly, a nightshade. The ingredients in the Cocao Now are as follows: honey, cacao butter, almonds, raisins, cacao powder, pistachios, goji berries. My annoyingly slender husband, however, doesn’t have to avoid nightshades, so I gave it to him to try. He’s the one that routinely hates all of my Paleo desserts so I wasn’t expecting much out of him. However, this is what he said:
“It’s good. I wasn’t expecting to like it, but it’s good.”
That’s high praise from him. When I asked him if he thought it tasted healthy, he said, “A little. But not as much as I was expecting. I like it.” Ah, a man of many words.
The price on the website scared me a little before I received the treats in the mail. When I saw the actual size and quality of the the treats, though, it made sense to me. First off, they’re not really all that expensive. They run from about $3.50 to $4.50 each and there are combination boxes you can buy to make things cheaper. They will keep for a really long time in your freezer. They’re made from quality ingredients that would cost you the same amount (or more) to buy and make yourself. Plus, they’re a treat. I’ve been eating them for four days in a row in order to do this review but normally, I would limit myself to one treat a week. Essentially, if I make my own coffee at home for just one day, I would save enough to justify buying a Brownie Bomb. Which goes amazingly well with coffee. Coincidence?
Paleo Treats also offers discounts. Right now they have a 5% discount across the board on any order. If you’re military or law enforcement, you can get a 10% discount. Paleo Treats also runs specials several times a year, offers a wholesale and affiliate program and is open to requests for other discounts, if you feel you need one.
The Beginnings of a Paleo Business
Co-owner Nik Hawks was really forthcoming when I asked him a few questions about the business. He started it along with Lee Selman and a friend named Dave after only a few short weeks into the Paleo diet themselves, way back in 2009. “We noticed that after eating Paleo for a week you feel pretty good, after two weeks you feel great, and at the three week mark you start to wonder, ‘Wait a second, where the heck is dessert?'” he said. “We knew if we had a problem so did everyone else, and the three of us came up with the answer in the form of pretty damn good treats that we can ship anywhere on the planet. We’re still working on a solid mission statement, but it really revolves around the twin pillars of making desserts that are A: totally Paleo, and B: REALLY delicious, not just “healthy” delicious.”
In order to come up with their recipes, the guys had to get serious about what it was that they wanted to eat. Their answer: chocolate. “Like anything worth doing, it took a while to come up with the first two (The Cacao Now and the Mac Attack), probably anywhere from 20-50 hours each, although we don’t really keep track of time that well,” Hawk jokes. “We made 2,000 of those in our super tiny kitchen at home.” You can read more here about their experiments and recipe testing.
“[We] decided that was enough of that, so we found a bakery in San Diego and took the Treats into actual production. We’re still with the same bakery today, almost four years later and running strong. The Brownie Bomb was our third cookie and answered the call for ‘more chocolate.’ It also helped set a trend for us continuing to make radically different desserts; what we have are not variations on a theme, i.e. six different flavors of bars, they are actually different types of desserts,” Hawks says. “Our latest incarnation is the Mustang Bar, an almond butter bar which is the hardest to describe, the best selling, and the only Paleo Treat so far to be called a ‘Paleo-gasm’ by one of our customers.”
With only four different types of desserts available, one may think that Paleo Treats is limiting themselves, their growth and their potential customers. However, Hawks says it’s important to have quality over quantity. “With four products in four years, we’ve learned that it takes us a while to develop new Treats good enough to stand behind. We’ll probably stick with Treats and not branch out in snacks.”
The guys are currently working on a lemon bar (my personal favorite flavor) but it will take a while to get it out of the development stage and into production. In the meantime, they continue to maintain their high standards by sampling their own products daily, working closely with other Paleo companies like Steve’s Originals and promoting the Paleo lifestyle in their everyday lives.