Friday, September 5, 2014

simply balanced obsession

Hello, September! This month is all about back-to-school, fashion, the return of football—and like any flip of the calendar, a fresh start. If you're well into post-grad territory, don't quite have a NYFW budget and your team lost last night, celebrate the first signs of fall with a wholesome pantry pick-me-up courtesy Target's Simply Balanced—you'll get the same happy buzz as when you catch a glimpse of the catwalk I swear—a relationship several years in the making for me. My introduction to corporate life happened in the shining, bustling halls of Target. With headquarters connected via skyway to the downtown Minneapolis location, "store runs" (for coffee, to see the latest merch set, to pick up personal items while networking) were a regular part of the day. And with the team member discount, getting my groceries at the Big Bullseye was not only convenient, but practical. While I no longer work there, old habits die hard—and there's a familiarity with the brand and expectation for what I will find on the shelves that Whole Foods, Hy-Vee and co-ops can't quickly erase. Simply Balanced is the new (or updated) owned brand at Target, spanning a range of dairy, fresh and frozen foods free of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives—many are certified organic. The brand officially launched last June, but I only noticed its prominence this summer, and lately it's been sneakily stocking my kitchen cabinets. I didn't intentionally set out to sample Simply Balanced, but the fresh packaging and tasty-looking products caught my attention. And held it. I'm hooked on everything I've tried—and my Target runs are now almost ramped up to their old frequency. Some of my favorites:

Chia seeds are said to control hunger and act as a natural energy booster. They have a mild, nutty flavor that's a light alternative to granola in yogurt and an extra bit of crunchy sustenance when sprinkled on peanut butter toast. Plus adding these to your diet will make you feel like a total Gwyneth (in a positive, health nut way).

FOR DESSERT + SNACKS: Dried Mango, Cantaloupe and Strawberries
I like a little something sweet at night, but chocolate hasn't appealed to me lately. These sweetened dried fruit chunks taste like candy—and are a great alternative to Hershey. I eat the addicting little guys right from the bag, but Target suggests adding them to salads and granola, which also sounds delicious.

AFTER THE GYM: Pineapple Coconut Water
I can't find an image of this online, but the packaging looks just like the Zico carton (different from the Simply Balanced Essence Water). Coconut water is super hydrating and packed with potassium, which makes this sweet and refreshing beverage satisfying fuel post-workout. Just swap it in any time you'd normally grab a Gatorade.

I've also put the Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage in pasta and paired with sauteed onions and peppers, and happily, it tastes just like the "real thing." Still on my shopping list to test: Coffee + Mocha Yogurt, Mint Green Tea and Sparkling Grapefruit Juice. Try some of these this weekend and start September on a high note!

Photos via Target

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