Thursday, May 15, 2014

Naturebox Review

Hello peanuts,

I know what you're thinking, and no, this is not a sponsored post. I wish it were a sponsored post. Seriously, Audible and Naturebox and Warby Parker can sponsor everyone else but they can't sponsor me? Well, anyway I generally resist the attempts of all such brands to brainwash me by advertising with every youtuber and podcast that I follow but I was intrigued enough by Naturebox to take advantage of the offer floating around for 50% your first box. I figured that I spend the same amount for my ipsy glam bag every month so it couldn't hurt to try out this subscription service which sends you snacks instead of makeup and skincare.

So what was the process like? Well, unlike some terrible websites, you can take a look at their snacks before you sign up for the service. Naturebox offers a wide range of snacks but they all fit into one general category or another. You have salty, sweet, and spicy. Dried fruit, granola, and chip-like snacks. In spite of the variety, you may not find something that appeals to you so definitely take a good look at the snack section before signing up.

Once you have signed up, you'll have access to other features of the site. You will be able to add snacks to your pantry as you browse. Now, don't panic. Just because you add something to your pantry, it doesn't mean that you're locked in to purchase it. Instead, depending on the plan you signed up for, the first few snacks in your pantry are the ones that will be sent to you in your next Naturebox. You can go to your pantry in the dashboard and reorganize the list of snacks to your liking until you're satisfied. Just be sure to check the information on the righthand side of the page which will keep you informed of how long you have to play around with the order of snacks in your pantry before your next Naturebox is sent out. You will also get an email with a link to allow you to track your package as you wait for it to arrive.
I ordered the smallest available package which sends you five snacks every month. They arrived in the large cardboard box you can see in the photo below. These are my immediate impressions: I liked the size of the snacks. Each snack comes packaged in a resealable bag that's a little bigger that a bag of chips that you'd get from a vending machine but not a giant Costco-sized economy bag either. It's enough to give you an impression of the snack you've ordered that should still last you through the month. Speaking of the packaging, it really is well designed. The bags are shaped in a way that allows them to stand up on their own and there is a clear panel in the front that allows you to see the snacks inside. The naturebox branding information is prominent and all the nutrition information on the back is very clearly printed. Props to whoever designed these snack packs. What I found disappointing was that all of the snacks that I chose seem to be rather high in calories and they also have other worrisome nutrition facts like high fat, sugar, and/or sodium content. Now, granted most packaged snacks and processed foods are not that great for you but Naturebox brands itself as a healthy, natural brand so I was disappointed when I read through the nutrition facts and some of the ingredient lists.

Poppy Seed Sticks
These were my favorite item from my first Naturebox. I would rate them as highly snackable. There was nothing offputting or offensive about them that would thwart snacking but they were still flavorful. I could definitely taste the sesame and poppy seed immediately. I developed a taste for poppy seed buns on a recent vacation and these poppy seed sticks definitely help assuage that poppy seed craving without my having to ingest calorically expensive poppy seed bagels, buns, or those wonderful buttery, flaky things from Breads Bakery here in NYC. I would call this a very accessible snack. It's basically a toasted sesame cracker with poppy seeds and that's what it tastes like.

Unfortunately, a whole bag of these poppy seed sticks is 720 calories with 9 grams of fat and 230 mg of sodium in each serving so for me, this is more of a snack for assuaging a craving than something like homemade popcorn which you snack on as you watch a movie or something you can pack a handful of in your kids' lunch box. I would get them again though because I love poppy seeds and sesame.

Toasted Cheddar Stix
This was my second favorite item in the box. They take a little getting used to but they taste kind of like mini pretzels. I got the sesame flavor and salt immediately but I couldn't really identify the sharp, sour flavor that makes this snack a little offputting. I guess maybe it's the cheddar but it's an acquired taste and not what I was expecting from these toasted cheddar stix. The sharpness of that sour note is either going to curb your cravings quickly or really inspire your snacking if you love it but it's not a snack that you can eat mindlessly.

An entire bag contains 640 calories while each serving contains 11 grams of fat, 510 grams of sodium, and 2 grams of sugar. I didn't hate these, but I wouldn't get them again.

Sunshine Chips
These so-called sunshine chips are similar to "natural" vegetable chips from other brands. You can walk into any Trader Joe's and find chips like these. The main difference, as far as I could tell, is that the vegetables are sliced a little thicker which gives these chips a more satisfying crunch. I didn't find them to be terribly flavorful. I could definitely taste the sweet potato and carrot but the rest of the veggies in the bag didn't have a very distinct taste. If I closed my eyes, I probably couldn't identify them for you.

While these sunshine chips are very snackable, they aren't very healthy. The bag contains 520 calories in total with 4 grams of fat, 125 mg of sodium, and 4 grams of sugar in each serving. You'd really be better off eating steamed veggies, which taste better anyway.

Citrus Chipotle Chickpeas
It took me a long time to come around on these chickpeas. I really only started snacking on them regularly once I had depleted my stores of all the other items in my Naturebox. They have that same dryness of wasabi dried peas which makes for a satisfying crunch but an unpleasant, kind of chalky mouthfeel. I get a real kick of heat from these chickpeas. It isn't just that sort of wimpy artificial "BBQ" flavoring. I wouldn't recommend this as a snack for kids. To really get the flavor of lime and heat, you need to let these chickpeas sit in your mouth for a second or two. If you're just crunching on them, you're only going to get heat and the lime won't really come through. I can see how other people might enjoy this snack but for me, they're just alright. Another problem I had with these chickpeas is that more than a few of the chickpeas in the bag are burnt. I was confused at first when some of the chickpeas tasted quite bitter. If you look at them, there is a clear difference between the yellow chickpeas and the brown burnt ones but unfortunately the chipotle seasoning covers up the color of the chickpea, making for an unpleasant surprise should you bite into a burnt one which happens rather frequently.

There are 585 calories in the entire bag with 200 mg of sodium, 3 grams of fat, and 4 grams of sugar per serving. I was surprised by the sugar as these don't taste sweet at all.

Mango Almond Bites
What does taste sweet are these Mango Almond Bites. Sexy transition! The "bites" consist of clusters of puffed rice, almond chunks and sliced of chewy dried mango. I like all of those things. However, I found these to be quite sickly sweet. They are also terrible unhealthy at 600 calories total with 9 grams of fat per serving. The clusters are not uniform so sometimes you don't get any mango and sometimes you don't get any almond. If you like puffed rice, there are healthier, tastier versions and if you like dried mango, well, there are tastier versions. I would skip this one.

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