A few years ago, I was having a little bit of a predicament. I was tired all of the time, and felt incredibly… “blah” is really the only word for it. I tried sleeping more, working out more, working out less, taking vitamins, but nothing really seemed to be working. I was already pretty deep into a healthy-eating kick at the time, and there was a lot of buzz about a new diet called “Paleo.” People who had tried it were claiming that they had never felt better - that they were sleeping well, had tons of energy, and just felt all-around good. I decided I would give it a try and see if it might help with my chronic exhaustion problem.
Those who follow the Paleo regimen feel that many of the health problems that modern humans experience can be traced back to our diets, and by returning to a diet similar to that of our paleolithic ancestors, we can eliminate or reduce our risk of things such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, and infertility. So what can we do to make our diets look more like those of our great, great, great, great, great (and so on) grandparents? We can emphasize things like lean meats, sustainable seafood, nuts & seeds, fruits, vegetables (of course), and healthy fats. Things that would be big no-nos if we were sitting down to dinner with the deepest roots of our family trees? Dairy, grains, processed food, sugar, legumes, starches, and alcohol.
To make a long story short, did the Paleo diet make me feel better? Yes. I had more energy, my skin was clearer, and I lost some very stubborn weight. You would think that would be enough to make me preach the Paleo gospel for all to hear. But the sad (pathetic, really), fact of the matter was that, for me, Paleo just was not sustainable. I struggled with going out to eat with friends, and a diet that prohibits alcohol (or post-alcohol pizza) is pretty difficult as a 20-something in New York. I mean, I consider cheese one of my main food groups, and my spirit animal is Oprah in that Weight Watchers commercial (“I. Love. Bread.”).
But, my embarrassing lack of willpower aside, I really do believe that Paleo works for those who can adhere to it, and when I hear about people looking for a diet revamp or lifestyle overhaul, I always recommend it to them.
One of the biggest problems I had when trying to maintain a Paleo lifestyle was that I couldn’t find good products that helped fill the hole in my heart (and my stomach) where things like bagels and cookies had once been. Which is why, even though I no longer adhere to Paleo, I was so excited to have the opportunity to meet with one of the owners behind Bedrock Bakers, and to try some of their amazing products. Steven Friedman and his business partner Marlene Weiss were also frustrated by how hard it is to find delicious Paleo baked goods, so they started to make their own. Their products were such a hit with their friends and family that they began selling them to the local Paleo/Crossfit community, and recently they’ve begun to ship locally.
Steven and his wife Nina graciously offered to host a sampling of their products for me recently. Full disclosure, they are family friends, but that being said, as a former picky eater and an unrepentant loudmouth, I would have had no problem telling them if I didn’t like anything. Fortunately, I am so happy to report that everything I tried was incredible, and, had the products existed earlier, I might never have fallen off the Paleo wagon.
First up were Paleo bagels, or Pagels. The pagels are smaller than what you would find at most bagel stores, closer in size to a mini-bagel. They come in a variety of flavors like plain, everything, cinnamon raisin, sesame, sunflower, poppy, and caraway. I tried an everything, topped with paleo-friendly cream cheese from Kite Hill, and was totally blown away. Not only did they taste delicious, but the texture was incredibly similar to what you would get from a gluten-ful bagel. With other gluten-free baked goods I’ve tried in the past, I’ve gotten the sense that if I were to drop them on the floor, they’d bounce away like a basketball, which is really not what I look for in a breakfast food. These were delicious, their texture didn’t make me uncomfortable, and even more importantly, I got the sense that if I were to eat one of these for breakfast, it would definitely give me the fuel I needed to get my day going.
Next I tried a banana chocolate chip muffin. Do you remember those packages of chocolate chip mini muffins that you could buy from vending machines as a kid, Little Bites? If you took all of the trash ingredients and processed junk out of those muffins, and replaced it with a more wholesome ingredient list, you’d end up with these - equally delicious in an “Oh look, a whole bag of muffins! Wait, where’d they go?” kind of way, but so much better for you. I took a bag of these home and between Adam and me, I’m pretty sure they didn’t even last 24 hours before they were gone.
The last treat I got to try was some of Bedrock Bakers’ Rock-n-ola granola, made with almonds, pecans, pepitas, unsweetened coconut, dried cherries, dried apples, non dairy chocolate chips, honey, organic coconut oil, and organic egg whites. I’m generally not the biggest fan of granola, so I was skeptical at first, but layered into a parfait with yogurt and fresh fruit, this rock-n-ola was delicious! It has enough fruit in it that it’s full of flavor, but isn’t so sweet that you feel like you’re eating candy for breakfast. My mom tried the rock-n-ola too and loved it so much that she’s already dreaming up recipes just to have an excuse to use it.
I had so much fun learning about, and tasting, Bedrock Bakers’ products! If you live in the NY area and follow a Paleo or gluten-free diet, or even if you’re just looking for some healthy and delicious options, I really cannot recommend them enough!
*Bedrock Bakers graciously provided samples of their products for this review, but all opinions are my own.