YumButter cashew butter review

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Home Goods. I’ll be honest with you–it was a Wednesday, and I was procrastinating from getting to some work I had to do for my main job. I work from home on Wednesdays. It’s a glorious thing. Unless I go out in the world, I get to live the messy-hair-don’t-care life, complete with old yoga pants and a floppy, over-sized hoodie. Let’s move on. The point here is that I was at Home Goods on a week day when it’s easy to find parking. And I wore actual pants and put a brush in my hair. It was wonderful, and I do not have photographic evidence.

When’s the last time you went inside Home Goods? I can’t say I was surprised–it hasn’t been more than a hot minute since I decided to look at all the things that are available–but I sort of was surprised. You see, Home Goods seems to have tossed themselves into the list of places you can go to for “healthy options” when it comes to the shelf-stable groceries they sell. There’s coconut oil, avocado oil, chickpea pasta, flax seeds, alternative flours, and more. As someone who lives within a couple of miles of a Trader Joe’s, an Aldi, a Sprouts, a Fresh Market, a Whole Foods, and chain grocery store mainstays like Publix and Kroger, I am well-versed in many of the brands that make foods for sale, and I certainly have my favorites. The brands I see at Home Goods are not the tried-and-true favorites that tend to fill my pantry, but the prices are so good that I often feel really open to trying new things.

So, on my trip to Home Goods, I picked up this little goodie:

Cashew Butter

It was $3.99. I am sort of a nut-butter-holic and tend to have at least 2-3 different kinds of nut butters open at any given point in time. Cashew butter is one of my favorites. From a packaging standpoint, I was somehow intrigued by a design–one that requires me to knead the package before opening the cap and then squeeze out my desired amount of cashew butter. It seemed like a no-brainer to give it a shot.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have grown skeptical of cool packaging with nice-sounding promises. I have a hard time when I hear that something is said to have “superfoods” or is somehow touted to be the next best thing to make your life healthy, amazing, and wellness-i-fied. I sometimes think that it’s a super trendy thing to advertise these capacities and to include some combination of acai, goji, chia, and flax in pretty much everything. I can see every single person with perfect hair and perfect teeth and rosy cheeks and perfect smiles and looking like they need to be the next spokesmodel for yoga mats or oat milk or immunotherapy supplements telling the whole world that everyone’s life will be better if we all have some goji in all of our food already. But, I digress. My point is this: I think that regular foods just as they are–made honestly, not manipulated or modified by harmful chemicals or sketchy processing–can somehow fuel people’s bodies and nourish their spirits quite well. I have a belief that a lot of foods that are packaged to claim super extra health benefits or a little bit of extra protein or whatever only contribute to the ways that we can divide people into “have” and “have not,” and for many companies it seems like the products themselves almost guilt you into buying them. Because you’re somehow wrong, or insufficient, or not healthy if you don’t choose the energy bar with extra collagen protein or the food item that includes chia seeds in its alternative-flour, multigrain blend, right?

Cashew Butter Back

But here’s the thing: this cashew butter is pretty tasty. I’ve used it in my morning oatmeal or in the occasional substitution–a morning protein smoothie–and it’s tasted like any other cashew butter that I would tend to purchase (and for the record, I am a huge fan of the cashew butter that Trader Joe’s sells and the in-store Simple Truth brand at my local Kroger). I’m not a huge fan of using extra sweeteners (I think cashews can be sweet enough as it is…), but if you do need to use a sweetener, I am ok with coconut sugar instead of refined sugar. I don’t know if goji berry powder–the amount that is actually used in a container of nut butter–actually has any health benefit or if it sounds nice. But the whole “knead, unscrew the lid, and squeeze” approach to getting butter in my mouth is really easy to use. And the price at my local Home Goods was low enough to make the experiment worthwhile.

I like to do research on things I don’t really know, so here’s a little bit of research. The brand, YumButter, seems to be a brand that I can jive with. The owners of the company are said to run on nut butter”–and as someone who would love to stick a spoon into a jar of cashew, pecan, or almond butter fifteen times a day, I can get behind this point of origin. YumButter seems to be pretty committed to creating products that are certified organic and non-GMO, and having found this package of cashew butter at Home Goods–a place where many items seem more affordable than on the shelves of other stores–I as able to let my pocket book and my own food ethics collide. That’s a nice thing. And here’s the part about YumButter that gets my little heart going in a good way: the company also has a social mission that seems to me similar to that of Tom’s and Bombas–a buy one/feed one business model that donates food to malnourished children.

All in all, I think that my YumButter experiment has been a good one. The cashew butter–even if I am not entirely sold that what I purchased has the most amazing extra super powers that all the trendy, happy thoughts of “this is healthy for you” like chia, goji, and that all-encompassing word of “superpowers” seem to trigger–is tasty. My morning oatmeal (which I will tell you about another time…) is so much better when I get to include nut butter into the mix. And it let me walk out of Home Goods feeling really productive by buying something to try in the middle of my desire to procrastinate during my work-from-home day.


Do you have any favorite “healthy” foods?

When you want to procrastinate, what’s your “go to” diversion?

What’s your go-to smoothie recipe?

Tales of a Flat Stephanie…

Tomorrow is my twelfth consecutive month of running 5ks. And when I say “run,” notice that I am not saying “race.” For me, it’s enough to put one foot in front of the other and to cross that finish line, to not be intimidated by so many people at this running event, and–as rudimental as this may sound–to take one more step in working towards a goal.

You see, I love running. It’s how I make sense of the world around me. Putting one foot in front of the other, whether I feel great or like crud, connects me to the world I live in in a very direct and intimate way. I exist in this world–to the town I live in, even!!!–because my feet have connected to the ground and have helped me get between one location that I have chosen to another location that I have also chosen. Unlike when I go from my apartment to work or from the gym to the grocery store, there is no sense of obligation behind my activity. I have chosen to run a specific path that I have chosen for myself. I determined when I go right and when I go left, simply because I want to. And in the progress that I make between start and finish, I have time to think through all the things that are happening in my life and in this crazy chaotic world. I don’t solve problems or answer questions per se, but I do come to a place of peace: the thoughts that run through my head can still be there, and while the chatter is running its course I can choose to run down one street, turn right, turn left, and reach a destination that I have mapped out for no other reason than I have chosen it.

What a beautiful thing. I learned this specific kind of joy and how to give myself this gift in 2011 when I began running. In two years’ time I went from not running to following methodical training plans and completing 6 half-marathons, one full marathon, and a handful of 5ks in the midwestern town in which I lived…

champion

This is me at pretty much my fittest, in 2013. You wouldn’t know from the smile on my face that I injured myself in the first mile of my half-marathon…

…and I got injured. A labral tear in my right hip sidelined me, and at a time where my life was changing drastically. A huge cocktail of therapies followed this injury, and just as running looked possible again and like I could possibly gain medical clearance, life changed again: a move from the midwest to the southeast, a change in jobs, and so much more.

And it happened like this: wash, rinse repeat. Wash, rinse, repeat. Life circumstances, new love, changing jobs, a serious relationship, moving, an arthritis diagnosis, and more. All of the circumstances of adult life.

It’s crazy, right? But it happens.

So last November I hatched a plan. I signed up for a Thanksgiving day 5k and a cutesy, fun Santa-themed 5K about 10 days later after the calendar turned to December. If I could complete those runs in a way that felt safe and that I could be proud of, then why couldn’t I set a goal of one 5K a month for 2018? I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions–I think they’re hogwash–but why couldn’t I set a goal for myself? Why couldn’t I give myself something that would require some consistency but that would be a bit low-stress?

So I ran on Thanksgiving. And I was so proud of myself. And I ran in December, with my amazing husband by my side. And as we treated ourselves to brunch at a new-to-us restaurant near our small home, I told him my goal for 2018. And ever since, he has supported me phenomenally.

And here we are: October, 2018. I have two more months ahead of me to finish my goal, but tomorrow I run my twelfth consecutive month of 5ks. It’s not the “year” of my goal, but it’s a “year”–a 12 month span–that somehow feels significant to me.

So how am I getting ready for this without trying to be a sappy mess?

Let me introduce you to Flat Stephanie:

Flat Stephanie

(I seem to have a color-coordinated outfit…)

This is my outfit for tomorrow. It matches. Usually, right before I go to bed the night before one of my runs, I pull out clean clothes that I feel like wearing. But for tomorrow, I have chosen an outfit of certain kinds of clothes that feel right, but I chose the specific item that matches. I created a little outfit for myself with some of my favorites. Specifically:

tank top, running capris, sports bra, running hat, socks, running shoes, insoles

Laying out my clothes and creating a “flat Stephanie” of sorts (you can draw your own stick-figure of me if you want!) helped me make sure that I have everything I need (I will prepare my water bottle tonight, and my running watch and iPod shuffle are charging right now…) and helped me celebrate, in a silly but still somehow meaningful way, how good it feels to have come so far from feeling hopeless and being side-lined as life got in the way while also finding new energy to crush it not only tomorrow but in whatever races I run in November and December. Setting my clothes out also helped me visualize what I need to do for the rest of my day in order to be ready to put on my running clothes–eat a balanced meal without too much fiber, hydrate, make sure I unplug and wind down this evening so I can get to bed at a reasonable time, prepare my water bottle and my electrolyte drink for tomorrow morning, and spend some time focusing on how grateful I am to have come so far, and to be able to run tomorrow morning, instead of worrying about how I will do or how long it will take me to finish.

And to me, finding small ways to celebrate what I have already accomplished and how good I already feel and letting that carry me through the rest of my day is just exciting! It only adds to my excitement for what I am doing now, the goal I am crushing right now, instead of worrying about my running now vs. when I was able to run so many half-marathons. It makes me excited to put foot to pavement tomorrow and connect myself to yet another part of the town I live in at this moment, in this part of my life.

Shirt Trick

Pro-tip: stuff your pillow inside your tank top so you can pin your bib to your shirt instead of awkwardly doing this at 5:30 AM when you’re still waking up.

 

Are you a runner? What do you do that connects you to this earth?

What’s your favorite thing to eat the night before a big run?

What’s your favorite piece of athletic clothing?