You know my crazy life tends to provide me ample opportunities to love the convenience and nutrition in protein bars. This semester, Mondays and Wednesdays are my beasts : 4 and a half straight hours of teaching (3 hours of lecture), and Wednesdays I teach a night class to boot. If I’m lucky, I eat a protein bar. If I’m unlucky, I might not eat. 🙁
I recently received some samples from Ratio Bars, which have given me more choices in my crazy-day-protein-bar-life.
The Cookie Crunch tastes like a candy bar, almost like a cross between a Heath bar and a 3 Musketeers (but I can’t really decide which, so I crossed it out). Layers of fudge, caramel fluff, and crispy rice are smothered in chocolate.
The Peanut Butter Cup is like a less-sweet version of Reese’s with a layer of fudge. An interesting tidbit for you, their powdered sugar uses tapioca starch instead of cornstarch (at least in pb cup).
Cake Batter is an interesting take on the protein bar. Soft chewy inside surrounded by a thick outer layer of crispies and white chocolate-like candy. You can taste the whey protein, but it’s not a bad flavor. It’s obviously not candy, though it tastes like it at first. It sort of does taste like vanilla cake batter, though not as sweet.
Ratio Bars are gluten-free, have no GMOs, no hormones, and no soy protein.
My father went to be with the Lord yesterday morning, 6 weeks and 2 days after we found out he had pancreatic cancer. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the majority of spring break with my father, and to be able to go back and spend the last few days of his life helping my mother.
Though I miss him greatly and my heart aches, I am grateful that he did not have to suffer for months and years.
Sometimes, you need a little chocolate “pick-me-up.” Yesterday, as I drove back down to my parents’ house, I experienced that. Luckily, I’d stuck a Dancing Deer Brownie up front with me.
I’ve had a good few days with my Dad, and am happy to be here helping out. He doesn’t want to be left alone, but he’s picky about who he’ll be alone with. I make the short list. 🙂
I’ve also mostly ripped up my hands while vanquishing the evil demon tree weed, while wearing gloves (I’m not exaggerating at all when I tell you this small twig of a weed had a tap root with a two-inch diameter and roots extending 6 feet or more in all directions). I, however, showed it who’s boss.
I deserve a brownie.
Ah, yeah. That’s the stuff.
Dancing Deer Brownies are pre-made, certified gluten-free brownies that just. make. you . melt. They have dry tops and bottoms, but moist, fudgy centers. The tops are papery, the middle very dense and black, with chunks of chocolate to crunch (at least when they are cold out of the fridge, like I’ve been eating them).
Carter says “mmmmmmm… VERY yummy.”
My mom, who declared she had to try it ONLY because it was for the blog. “That was an excellent brownie,” said she.
Dancing Deer does make non-gf products, but the gluten-free brownie is produced in a way that it stays gluten-free.
I received samples from Dancing Deer Brownie with the option to blog about if I so chose.
Really, why do those blasted things have to make me cry?
In truth, though, I’ve been crying for weeks. Four and a half weeks, to be exact.
Note: if you only come to my blog for the gluten-free stuff, you don’t need to read this post. This is for those who care about me personally, as well as for me to share a burden I currently have.
At the beginning of February, we found out my dad has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which had metastasized to his liver and possibly lungs. By the end of that week, we knew it was definitely in his lungs and also his thyroid. The next week, the oncologist told him that he’d probably only had the cancer for a month, maybe two. Within a month he should be in a lot of pain and within 6 months he would be gone.
Two days later, he was in pain. And mine had gotten that much worse.
You see, the last decade, my dad has always been there to take care of me when things went wrong. He fixed my car, he installed things and fixed things in my house, he helped me through the ending of a very bad marriage and the subsequent years of single mom-hood and the beginnings of a new marriage. He became my rock and my backbone.
The day he first saw the oncologist, he told me to make him a list of all the projects I needed help with so that he could do them while he was still capable. I never set pen to paper, though, before he was on heavy pain meds.
The following week, the new scans came in. The cancer was now in his bones and soft tissues. The oncologist had never seen such an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer before.
I wanted to be strong for my dad. I needed to be strong. But every time I got a phone call, and every night before bed, I’d curl up in my husband’s lap and cry.
This past weekend, the whole family got together. My brother had flown in and his wife and children had driven out a week previously. We wanted to get a big family picture taken. My father, however, had a high fever all day. It got worse as we were setting up to take pictures, and we had to take him to the emergency room.
But it was also a party day. We were celebrating 9 March and April family birthdays. I had made 72 cupcakes the day before (gluten-free and dairy-free). There were to be 25 of us there (including the good-as-but-not-blood) cousins. So instead of being able to help Mom take Dad to the hospital, I got left in charge of the party. I wanted to be with him, but I was supposed to put on a happy face and play?
I stood outside as my brothers helped my father shuffle, very slowly, to the car. He was in so much pain and his temperature got up to 104.4. My sister-in-law came out to check on me. I couldn’t hold back the tears. But when she started crying in earnest, it helped strengthen me. You see, I get this time, this chance to prepare myself and say goodbye. She didn’t with her father – his death was completely unexpected and happened a thousand miles away.
Though Dad spent Saturday through Monday in the hospital, I did not get to see him then, or since. With 3 kids, 1 in public school (and 2 homeschooling), teaching college (the week before spring break), and having had an ice storm up here, I haven’t had a chance yet. I am grateful, though, that I have spring break to go and help my mother and be with my father.
Last weekend was kind of a dry run for us. With a fever that high and his liver beginning to shut down (he is so yellow now), we were worried that it was the end. None of us want him to suffer, but knowing the end result is soon is also hard. The original prognosis of 6 months is no longer realistic.
Today, Dad begins chemo in earnest. He has been doing a double-blind trial medicine so far (so we don’t know if he’s getting meds or placebo). He knows it won’t change the outcome and possibly not even positively effect the time frame. He’s doing it for us, he says, so that his children and grandchildren have a chance of fighting it.
My father is one of the most generous men I know. He may be grumbly sometimes, but he gives so much.
I know he wants me to sing at his funeral, and, for him, I’d like to be able to. I feel like I should be able to. I’m the girl who kept Mom strong through those years that Grandma lived with us, then in the nursing home. I’m the one who sang for four hours, holding one of Grandma’s hands and one of Mom’s, and sang Grandma to Jesus. Yet, on my birthday, just a few days after finding out about the cancer, I could barely sing for my dad even though I still thought there was a chance he’d be around for another 6 months.
But I’m feeling stronger now. I no longer cry every time I get in the shower, when it’s so easy to let go. I no longer cry every time I get off the phone with my mother.
Maybe now I can get back to adding in those “extras” in life, like cooking, putting “something” into my lectures, or blogging about tasty foods. Maybe now I can enjoy my food again, and feel like I’m allowed to have enjoyment. I know my father would want nothing less for me than joy.
I would like to leave you with the words of my father’s favorite hymn, which I think he has been working hard to exemplify in his life and that he would like me to sing when the time comes. Perhaps, I will be strong enough. And, hopefully, I can be this person, too.
Because I have been given much, I too must give;
Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live
I shall divide my gifts from thee With ev’ry brother that I see
Who has the need of help from me.
Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care,
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread, My roof’s safe shelter overhead
That he too may be comforted.
Because I have been blessed by thy great love, dear Lord,
I’ll share thy love again, according to thy word.
I shall give love to those in need; I’ll show that love by word and deed:
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.
We recently received some samples from SuperSeedz. I certainly didn’t think there would be quite the selection, but there is.
SuperSeedz are dry roasted and shelled pumpkin seeds. They are gluten-free as well as peanut- and tree nut-free, vegan, and msg-free.
We first tried the Really Naked, to give us a baseline comparison. “They taste like pumpkin seeds.” Thank you, Sherlock Braden.
Tomato Italiano, I dub thee “Sir Pizza Seeds.” Seriously, it’s like a tiny crunchy pizza.
“Now, Sea Salt is how it’s supposed to be seasoned.” Well, I guess that means these are Braden’s favorites. They are pretty great, I must admit. Corice has named these her favorite, too.
Oooh, 9 grams of protein per serving. Can you say gym snack?
They are also high in fiber, zinc, and Omega 3.
Do you like curry? That sort of sweet, fragrant blend of spices that just seems to pop up everywhere. Love it! I bet these would be great on a salad, adding a crunch and some interesting flavor. Mmmm… No, wait, Corice has decided Original Curry are her favorite after all. (“Can I have some more of the yellow ones?” she asks.) Um, she just stole the bag.
Somewhat Spicy would be great on a taco salad! It’s really not hot, but that spice does linger a bit. It’s really making me scared to try Super Spicy. That might need some lettuce to calm me down. Carter, however, manned up and loved on the Super Spicy. I think they were Martin’s favorite.
There is also Coco Joe, which is a chocolate/coffee flavor. I don’t do coffee myself, so these will migrate to Monica. We like to hook each other up with tasty food. 🙂
Sugar & Cinnamon, “they’re sweet…more Captain Obvious from Braden.” I’m glad he’s enjoying himself. These have a lot more depth to them than I would have originally thought because of the vanilla. They only have 2 grams of sugar per serving. They aren’t a dessert, but kind of like cinnamon toast (if you hold it upside down and shake off much of the sugar – at least, if you add sugar like I might have seen someone else do).
SuperSeedz would like to give you a chance to try them all out, too! One winner will receive 8 packs of SuperSeedz (they come in 8 flavors!).
Check out SuperSeedz on Facebook and Twitter, and give them a like or follow. Comment on this blog to enter the giveaway. Tell me what you think would be the best thing about these (i.e., flavor selection, high protein, etc.). This giveaway will close at 9pm central on Friday, March 7, 2014.