Product Reviews: Zesty Z, GoMacro, and ReGrained

Note: In exchange for a brief review, I received the following products:

Today’s mentions include Zesty Z‘s zaatar, GoMacro‘s macro bars, and ReGrained‘s beer bars.

I was first – as far as the memory bank is letting on – introduced to zaatar, the delectable, versatile and vegan spread, on a trip to Lebanon in 2007.  Some shop in the Hamra neighborhood of Beirut was selling some awfully tempting mix of olive oil, sesame seeds, oregano, sumac, and thyme – that is, zaatar – on top of freshly baked khubz (pita).  How could I turn that down?

Beirut, Lebanon - Khubz with Zaatar(OK, so nothing in this photo screams Beirut, but take my word for it…that’s zaatar.)

Since then, I’ve bought many a zaatar blend, but Brooklyn-based Zesty Z seals the deal in that theirs already includes olive oil (and you don’t even need to refrigerate it).  To clarify, it’s not difficult finding good olive oil or zaatar in New York, but Zesty Z would totally come in handy if I lived in East Asia again.  Co-founders Lorraine and her son, Alexander Harik only started selling her zaatar in March of this year; their mission is to help popularize zaatar, and possibly add other variations/products down the line.  They’re a garrulous pair, and I had the pleasure of speaking with them at this year’s New York Fancy Food Show.

It’s healthy, it’s enjoyable at anytime of the day, and has ingredients that shouldn’t spook the average (American) consumer.

Zesty Z-ZaatarZesty Z and falafel.  It was a nostalgic duo.

I was an instant fan.   How about you?

Organic! Gluten-free!  Vegan!  Kosher! Non-gmo! Soy-free! Exclamation point!

To be fair, none of those words ever factors into my requirements in food purchases…but that won’t stop me from ever eating products with these attributes.

So, GoMacro, what’s a macro bar?  The idea stems from the term macrobiotic, which focuses on balancing one’s lifestyle with a high-fiber, low-fat diet based on the consumption of whole grains, vegetables, and beans.  Nothing spicy, either?  Well, you already lost me, but in the interest of fulfilling my duty, let’s move on to the bars.

GoMacro sent me a set of twelve of their macro bars– sesame butter date, peanut butter, cashew butter, granola coconut, cashew caramel, sunflower butter chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate chip, banana almond butter, almond butter carob, apple walnut, coconut peanut butter chocolate, and cherry berry.

Whereas I really liked the apple walnut and cherry berry bars, probably more than any other bar that I’ve purchased at a store in the same ilk as REI or Patagonia, the rest had flavors that didn’t distinguish them from any other bar.  However, if GoMacro would continue to add varieties that transported me to flavor profiles of the Pacific Northwest, I’d be buying up the lot of ’em.

ReGrained, a Bay Area-startup (a phrase rarely heard.  ever.), takes brewer’s grains – that is, grains leftover from the beer brewing process – from local breweries, and turns those into granola bars that are also good sources of protein and fiber.

Currently, they have two flavors, Honey Almond IPA and Chocolate Coffee Stout. The honey almond IPA had a rather emphatic almondy note, of which I approve, and the chocolate coffee stout tended towards coffee, what it is.  They were both slightly bitter and not exactly filling, but I’d be open to trying other types, should they be offered.

Have you tried any of these three brands?

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