The Paleo Diet Bar

This past April, I was lucky enough to attend Paleo f(x) in Austin, Texas.  It was a 3-day Paleo-palooza of sorts, with talks running all day long by the leading experts, scientists, authors, athletes, and bloggers in the Paleo movement.  There was also a huge expo floor where Paleo-friendly companies could give away samples, market their products, and get some new customers.  I may have eaten way too many sample meals that weekend…  No regrets.

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One of the companies I met while perusing the expo floor and stuffing my face was The Paleo Diet Bar.  Started by Shauna and Todd Sledge, this spin-off company that came from Braaap Nutrition, LLC has worked long and hard to produce a bar that utilizes only the best ingredients, sans major allergens.  The founders even got Dr. Loren Cordain, founder of the Paleolithic movement, to hop on board with production and work alongside the company to ensure its validity as a truly Paleo product.

All of the research, time, and trial batches put into producing The Paleo Diet Bar eventually led to a snack that has a nice macronutrient balance, while maintaining the high standard of being soy, gluten, grain, legume, dairy, and preservative-free.  Each flavor contains healthy fats from nuts and seeds, carbohydrates and fiber from fruit, and protein from eggs and hemp.  It can be used as a post-workout refuel, a healthy snack, or even a treat on occasion.  The Sledges and Dr. Cordain truly worked toward making a versatile product.  I had the chance to snag a few bars each of their Cinnamon Raisin and Cranberry Almond flavors – the two originals – plus, Shauna threw in a free shirt for me (thank you!).  Two new flavors were also just announced:  Cherry Apple Walnut and Blueberry Pear Pecan.  There is also a poll on their website for customers to vote yet a third new flavor.

All that being said, let me tell you about the first two Paleo Diet Bars!

Cinnamon Raisin

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I was excited about the name of this flavor, because I automatically think of the hot cinnamon raisin bagel I ate when I visited New York City for the first time.  I know from experience that this cannot be 100% mimicked in anything, but I was looking forward to the general taste.  Don’t get me wrong, this bar is delicious.  However, the cinnamon is not very detectable, so it is more of just a fruity flavor from the raisins.  I’m sure it is hard to find a good balance of cinnamon with such strongly sugary ingredients as dates and raisins, but I think it should be promoted more as an antioxidant benefit in this bar rather than part of the flavor.  Like I said, it’s tasty and enjoyable, but don’t expect to taste too much of the cinnamon side.

Flavor Rating: 6 out of 10

Ingredients: Dates, Egg White Protein Powder, Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Raisins, Apple Fiber, Hemp Protein Powder, Sesame Seeds, Coconut Oil, Water, Cinnamon, Vanilla Extract.

Cranberry Almond

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The flavor of this bar is much more accurate.  I could taste the tartness of the cranberries balanced by the sugary dates, with the crunchy almonds mixed in.  Like the Cinnamon Raisin, the macronutrient ratio in this is very balanced and one of these bars can keep you going for a few hours.  I used all of my samples as pre-workout snacks after a long day of class and they allowed me to amp up and get a solid lifting session in!

Flavor Rating: 9 out of 10

Ingredients: Dates, Almonds, Egg White Protein Powder, Apple Fiber, Sunflower Seeds, Dried Cranberries (Cranberries, Apple Juice Concentrate), Hemp Protein Powder, Strawberry Juice Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Water, Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon.

Texture

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These bars have a consistent texture between the two of them.  The chewy factor comes from using dates as the base, and includes a hint of crunch from the nuts and seeds thrown in.  I would say this is definitely one of the better-put-together date-based bars that I’ve tried.  It also does not annoyingly fall apart like some bars that depend too heavily on grains or nuts as their base.  Basically, its sticks together well but doesn’t seal your mouth shut – a hard balance to find in other products with similar ingredients.

Texture rating for both flavors: 8 out of 10

To find out more about this fast-growing company, visit their website.  If you’re interested in buying either of these flavors, click here.  The new flavors I mentioned in my introduction will also be available soon.

 

*I receive a small compensation for these reviews.  This does not affect my honesty about the product.  Companies interested in having me write about their product can email me at flabstofitness@gmail.com.*

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Paleovalley Superfood Bars & Beef Snack Sticks

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Paleovalley is a website I stumbled upon by chance via Instagram (shocker) a while ago.  After looking through their website, I knew they were a company committed to providing products and information of the highest quality, with large sights to grow and make their services as easily available as junk food currently is.  This is a lofty goal, but they are quickly growing and on their way to achieving it!

Currently, Paleovalley offers several cookbooks, including a 31-Day Paleo Diet Kickstart to help those new to this way of eating ease into the transition and learn what it feels like to truly be healthy.  On top of this and other reading materials, Paleovalley also sells several food products.  The two that I was lucky enough to try and review below were the 100% Grassfed Beef Snack Stick and their brand-new Superfood Bar.  They also sell Grassfed Whey Protein.

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Paleovalley Superfood Bar

I was super pumped when I received my box from Paleovalley and saw that they sent me TWO (2!!!) of their brand-new Superfood Bars.  The flavor is Dark Chocolate, which is another weakness of mine.  My sweet tooth is huge… unfortunately, my tolerance for high sugar content is not.  But these bars pack a huge punch in the way of how many great ingredients go into them!  There is a nice balance between fat, carbs, and protein to give you an energy boost and numerous micro mineral sources brought to you, again, from the quality mix of ingredients.

As far as texture goes, they are similar to most other bars that use dates as their base.  Sticky, but easy to break apart.  Taking a bite is soft and would probably be easy for someone missing a few teeth to eat!  The flavor was not really strong in the Dark Chocolate category.  It was sweet, sure, but it really is hard to cover up that date, caramel-like flavor.  I would say it could be sold more easily as a general fruit superfood flavor with some added cacao for the health benefits, but not so much for actual flavor.  Overall, they are enjoyable and a good pick-me-up when you’re in a pinch!

Rating: 7 out of 10

Ingredients: Organic cashews, organic wildflower honey, organic pumpkin seeds, organic dates, organic cacao, organic flax seeds, organic sunflower seeds, organic coconut butter, organic chia seeds, organic vanilla, organic goji berries, organic hemp seeds, unrefined sea salt, organic blueberries, organic spirulina, organic chlorella, organic acerola cherry.

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Beef Snack Sticks

Paleovalley Beef Snack Sticks.  These babies are where it’s at!  I could not believe the flavor when I tried them.  If you ever had a slightly-shameful-but-still-okay-because-everyone-does love for Slim Jims, you will be in heaven with this product.  I honestly thought I was eating a Slim Jim at first.  And in my case, that is a very good thing!  The beef used to make these is:

– 100% Grass-fed, with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, CLA, and Vitamins A, B, &E than grain-fed beef.

– Never given antibiotics or hormones.

– Gluten, soy, and sugar-free.

– No artificial nitrites or nitrates.

– Non-GMO

AND IT TASTES. SO. GOOD.

Okay, I’ll stop yelling now.  But seriously, treat yo’self to this product.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Ingredients: 100% grassfed beef, water, sea salt, organic dextrose from tapiocha, celery juice, organic black pepper, organic red pepper, organic garlic powder, organic coriander, lactic acid starter culture, stuffed in a dye-free collagen casing.

Simply Stacked Pancake Mix

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Did someone say, “pancake mix?!”

When I first discovered Simply Stacked, I did not initially know it was Paleo.  I kept seeing posts from various Instagram accounts that I follow, but they were accounts that follow more of the general “clean-eating” lifestyle rather than Paleo guidelines.  However, my curiosity always gets the best of me and those tempting waffle and pancake stacks finally lured me over to the Simply Stacked website.  As it turns out, this product is completely Paleo and true to its name – there are only three (3!!!) ingredients in the mix, with coconut flour as the base.  I could wait no longer; I got in touch with the two women behind the company, who also happen to run the website Double Dose Fitness.

Samantha and Alexis Belbel decided to create Simply Stacked when they made the transition to a Paleo lifestyle and could not find a high-quality, minimal-ingredient replacement for oat flour to make their beloved pancakes and waffles.  They decided to take the matter into their own hands, and with great success – Simply Stacked is exploding in popularity, not to mention versatility of use!  Creative users have since constructed cakes, cookies, kabobs, and many other ways to use Simply Stacked beyond its original intent!  Their website showcases some of the most recent and creative recipes, as well as a way to order a package of your own to start stacking.

Simply Stacked Review

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Personally, I’ve had the idea to make Piña Colada Pancakes for a while.  Upon getting my sample of Simply Stacked mix, I had to take advantage of the opportunity to work on that recipe.  After playing around with it a few times, I finally nailed a soft pancake that was satiating, fluffy, and didn’t burn on the outside while remaining raw on the inside.

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My first failed attempts at using this mix were largely attributed to the fact that I didn’t pay close attention to the suggested recipes that come on the back of the sample pack, so my measurements of liquid-to-mix were off.

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Once I found the proper balance of ingredients, however, the pancakes were reminiscent of Sunday mornings at grandma’s house.  This mix may use coconut flour as the main base, but it does not have the strong flavor that often comes with just plain coconut flour (even if you don’t mind this flavor, it’s not preferable for a lot of people – including myself).  It is also lighter in color and has a finer texture.  I believe that the fine grinding of the flour is a huge contributor to why the pancakes turn out so dang good!  This little tweak that the Belbel sisters added to their product are what truly set it apart from other flour bases I’ve tried so far.    Plus, you don’t need to worry about always forgetting the baking powder (or is it just me who does that?) because that is one of the three ingredients already tossed in for you.

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I would highly recommend this product.  It is simple, Paleo, produces food that doesn’t seem grain-free, and is just plain enjoyable.  Samantha and Alexis have a great thing going for them and you’re going to love this pancake mix just as much as I do.

Flavor Rating: 10 out of 10

Texture Rating: 10 out of 10

Ingredients: Organic Coconut Flour, Psyllium Husk, Baking Soda.

PaleoPro Sports Nutrition Products

I’ve been taking my weight lifting seriously for about a year now, and I’ve tried all sorts of supplements to go with it.  Whey, casein, soy, pea, egg white, you name it, I’ve probably tried that type of protein (or even a combination).  I’ve become increasingly aware that quality really does matter in your supplements, if you’re choosing to use them.  That’s why I was extremely excited to get a sample pack of PaleoPro‘s three protein flavors, as well as some of their post-workout carb matrix.

PaleoPro works to provide the highest grade of products to their customers.  Their protein matrixes are a mix of egg, egg white, and beef protein isolate.  The eggs are USDA organic and the beef is naturally raised.  They are truly dedicated to providing athletes with  “air-dried real food!”

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Plain Naked Protein Powder

I was honestly scared to try this unflavored sample because “unflavored” in the protein world usually translates to “disgusting.”  However, PaleoPro does an excellent job of making it truly enjoyable and mixable with anything.  I tried it with the recovery powder one day and was pleasantly surprised with the slightly sweet taste of the sweet potato from the recovery powder, with no bitter aftertaste from the protein.  This stuff truly does work well to be as flavorless as possible.  As far as texture goes, this blends well but takes about a minute to fully dissolve.  Most of it is incorporated into water very quickly, but there are always a few crunchy pieces (I’m assuming stevia chunks) that take a little longer to disappear.  However, I don’t mind that since it’s not large bits of protein, but rather little crystals that do eventually dissolve.  The texture is actually enjoyable, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Flavor Rating: 10 out of 10

Texture rating: 7 out of 10

Ingredients: Egg White Protein, Whole Egg Protein, Beef Protein Isolate

Aztec Vanilla Protein Powder

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I’m usually partial to chocolate-flavored protein mixes, but this stuff is delicious!  I truly enjoy drinking this post-workout.  I’ve taken it with an unflavored BCAA supplement that is normally disgusting on its own, and the vanilla flavor is strong enough to overcome that and make the drink enjoyable.  The texture is the same as the Plain Naked, listed above.

Flavor rating: 8 out of 10

Texture rating: 7 out of 10

Ingredients: Egg White Protein, Whole Egg Protein, Beef Protein Isolate, Natural Flavoring, Stevia

Ancient Cacao Protein Powder

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Like I already mentioned, chocolate protein is usually my go-to, so I’ve tasted plenty of brands in this flavor.  I LOVE THIS BRAND.  The mix-ability of the chocolate flavor is the same as the Plain Naked and Aztec Vanilla, but of course it’s chocolate, so all is right in the world when I get to shake this stuff up after a hard workout.  I have to pace myself when drinking it and make sure to breathe because it’s so dang good!

Flavor rating: 10 out of 10

Texture rating: 7 out of 10

Ingredients: Egg White Protein, Whole Egg Protein, Beef Protein Isolate, Cocoa Powder, Stevia

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Paleo Recovery Powder

I’ll have to admit that the only post-workout carbs I’ve really played with are those I eat in my full meal after a workout.  I’ve read a lot about how new science is questioning whether we need to carb-up as soon as possible after a hard weight session, and just haven’t seen the benefit of buying a supplement to do so when I’m pretty low carb throughout the rest of the day anyway.  Keep up the ketosis, right?  Well, I’ve used this post-workout in conjunction with the protein several times this week on days that I had several hours of class left to go before I could get home and make a meal.  This recovery powder does the perfect job of holding off my hunger and spiking my energy to power through those lectures without dazing off to think about the food I’ll eventually head home to.  It mixes right in with water and the protein and is very drinkable almost immediately.  Plus, it’s the RIGHT kind of post-workout complex carbs, derived directly from sweet potatoes.  None of that fake sugar or fructose crap.  PS – it tastes divine with the Aztec Vanilla protein, and mixing it with the Plain Naked will let out enjoy the subtle hints of sweet potato!

Flavor rating: 9 out of 10

Texture Rating: 9 out of 10

Ingredients: Sweet Potato Powder, Hydrolyzed Egg Protein, Stevia

If you would like to order these or any of PaleoPro’s other amazing products, click here!

Otto’s Naturals Cassava Flour

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Otto’s Naturals is a new brand for a grain-free substitute for all-purpose flour.  It is made from the cassava (or yuca) root, just like tapioca flour is, but the difference between that and cassava flour is that cassava flour contains the whole root with only the peel removed.  Tapioca flour is an extracted and bleached form of the starch.  Because it is grain-free, cassava flour is also gluten-free and because it is from a root, it is also nut-free!  Take that, allergens!

What makes Otto’s Naturals stand out from other cassava flour brands is that this company uses a unique peel removal process to ensure that no pieces are left behind to make the final product chunky.  What’s more?  When I say it’s a great substitute for traditional all-purpose flour, I’m not exaggerating.  Most recipes can use cassava flour at a 1:1 ratio where white flour is called for!  That means no more of the crazy conversions I have to use with other paleo options such as coconut or almond flour.

I was so excited to receive a trial package from Otto’s Naturals as soon as they began production in the beginning of February 2015.  I was able to crank out two paleo bread recipes that have given me real headaches with other types of flour – Pizza Crust and Tortillas.  I also made a recipe for Raspberry Macadamia Cookies just in time for Valentine’s Day using what I had left of my sample.  Each of these recipes comes out so delicious and soft, just like “normal” bread and baked goods.  This type of flour doesn’t have a strong taste of its own, so you truly can create both sweet and savory recipes with it!

The one thing I noticed when creating my pizza crust is that cassava flour is perhaps a bit less absorbent than all-purpose flour, meaning you don’t need as much liquid in it to get the same texture as with wheat flour recipes.  So be a little careful with liquid measurements when using this in new recipes and add the liquid slowly, mixing it in with the flour and other dry ingredients until your desired consistency is reached.

Bottom line:  I will definitely be ordering more flour from this company in the future and I highly recommend that you give them a shot, too.  It couldn’t be more easy than this to get back those foods some of us haven’t eaten in years!

Rating: 10 out of 10

Life of Riley Foods

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You can never have enough nut butter.  With that being said, there can never be enough nut butter companies.  Enter Life of Riley Foods.  They are a small-batch producer of paleo-certified, non-GMO, soy-dairy-grain-gluten-free nut butters and only use small amounts of natural sweeteners such as raw honey or maple sugar, if at all.  Based in Boulder, Colorado, Life of Riley Foods was started by Abby, a mother and Crossfitter who wanted better fuel for herself and her family.  My Friday was made great when I received a box full of each of their products: Cashew Butter, Almond Butter, Unsweetened Almond Butter, Walnut Butter, and Sunberry Butter.  The first thought I had was, “Oh darn, I guess I need to start testing RIGHT NOW.”

Cashew Butter

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m addicted to cashews in any form: whole or of the butter variety.  Or in this case, a bit between the two.  This is a crunchy recipe that initially caught me by surprise when I read the ingredient label because in addition to it already using my favorite nuts as the base, the Life of Riley creators decided to amplify it even more with a sweet mixture of nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, and a touch of raw honey.  I ate more of this in one sitting than I’m comfortably willing to admit.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Ingredients: Roasted organic cashews, almond oil, saigon cinnamon, Indonesian cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace, all spice and cloves, raw & unfiltered local honey, organic sea salt.

Almond Butter

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Seeing as I’ve never had crunchy almond butter before, I was happy to see that this recipe is also the signature texture of Life of Riley Foods in that it comes out creamy, but has just enough pieces of the nut in there to have a special crack to it.  There is barely any added maple sugar in this, as is evidenced by how much you can taste the original almond flavor.  The ratio of sweet-to-salty was interesting to me and something I had yet to encounter in a nut butter.  It almost reminded me of salted caramel, but in a subtle way that doesn’t leave your stomach turning later while you pick candy bits out of your retainer (pause for flashbacks to middle school).  If you want to shake up your almond butter options, you won’t find another like this one!

Rating: 8 out of 10

Ingredients: Roasted almonds, pure maple sugar, almond oil, organic almond extract, organic sea salt.

Sunberry Butter

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I have no idea how the consistency of this was created.  It’s a unique mix of nut butter and jam.  On top of that, the sunflower seeds aren’t beaten to a cream, so it’s crunchy.  However it’s done, this is the most different nut butter/jam/whatever you want to call it that I’ve ever seen or tested.  The natural sugars in the fruit are so strong that no other sweeteners are needed, plus the addition of sea salt works to compliment and bring out the flavor of the sunflower seeds.  This is clearly a very well-thought-out recipe and I greatly enjoyed it.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Ingredients: Roasted organic sunflower seeds, organic sunflower oil, dried unsweetened organic tart cherries, dried strawberries (apple juice concentrate, sunflower oil), dried blueberries (apple juice concentrate, sunflower oil), organic sea salt.

Walnut Butter

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I don’t know what it is about walnut butter specifically, but I just can’t get around the overall bitterness of walnuts.  I like them just fine by themselves, but it almost feels like the bitter tones in them are brought out more when you grind them up.  I don’t know, I could definitely be crazy.  But this wasn’t my favorite.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Ingredients: Organic walnuts, walnut oil, pure maple sugar, organic sea salt.

Unsweetened Almond Butter

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It’s often easy to overlook the “simple” recipes that a company has to offer. In all honesty, I have never really been a fan of plain almond butter.  I go for the ones with a flavor or, like in the case of Trader Joe’s almond butter, recipes that are mixed with another nut (TJ’s adds some cashews). This is the first recipe of plain almond butter that I’ve truly enjoyed.  And I loved it.  Maybe it’s the addition of flaxseed, but something about this stuff was absolutely delicious.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Ingredients: Organic roasted almonds, almond oil, organic flaxseed, organic sea salt.

Rickaroons

Do you like dessert?  Do you like snacks?  How about snacks for dessert?

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Sorry, I had to do that.  Because these certified organic, paleo, vegan, soy and gluten-free macaroons are worth it.  Rickaroons, a small company from San Diego, knows what to do when it comes to producing a high-quality, great-tasting snack/dessert/whatever-you-want-it-to-be.  There are 4 deliciously healthy flavors:  Chocolate Blonde, Megaroon, Mocha, and Icy Brunette.  Being a chocolate addict and coconut lover, I was more than happy to write this review!  They are listed by flavor below in the order I tried them.  Hopefully my thoughts will help you decide which to get (or convince you to buy them ALL) with the discount code “flabstofitness” for 15% off when you buy online!

Chocolate Blonde

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After tearing into the sample box I was sent, I quickly realized that there were two samples of this flavor.  So I figured I’d start off with this one!  It tasted like chocolate chip cookie dough… no lie.  The coconut automatically gives off a cooler taste and reminded me of when my mom would make cookies while I was at school and save some dough in the fridge for when I got home.  Needless to say, I’m really really glad this was the flavor I got two samples of.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Megaroon

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This was definitely the richest of the flavors and I absolutely loved it.  There is an extra little crunch from the chia seeds and that helps to round out the flavor even more.  Though it is still sweet, there is a fullness in this that hints at some savory rhythms on top of the coconut.   I really can’t explain it better.  I would definitely recommend this one as an energy-boosting snack or pre-workout!

Rating: 10 out of 10

Mocha

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You can just smell the fresh-ground coffee in this baby.  It isn’t overwhelming and again balances extremely well with the coconut base.  I bet it would be the perfect companion to some Bulletproof Coffee to kick-start your morning, too… hint hint!

Rating: 8 out of 10

Icy Brunette

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Chocolate mint will always have a special place in my heart because it reminds me of mint chocolate chip blue bell on hot summer nights.  For whatever reason, the name didn’t initially tell me that this would be a minty flavor, so I was happily surprised to find that out when I took my first bite.  The mint is not too strong and it is clear that the extract used is a quality one.  For you lovers of Thin Mints, snag a pack of these in lieu of those Girl Scout cookies (sorry kids) and reap the joyous benefits!

Rating: 9 out of 10

Rickaroons Info

Ingredients for each flavor (with chia seeds included in the Megaroon only):  Coconut oil, Coconut flakes, Coconut palm nectar, Dark chocolate, Almond butter, Vanilla, Chia seeds.  All Ingredients Organic.

Rickaroons can be found in various shops in the Southern California area and beginning in Phoenix, Arizona, too (use this search engine to find out which ones).  You can also order them for delivery here.  Their macaroons will last in their packaging for up to 8 weeks without refrigeration, so you can enjoy at your leisure!  Though in all honesty, you probably won’t leave them alone long enough to see if they actually last that long. 🙂