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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Recently a client asked me if I knew anything about healthy vending machines. I looked into it and found that there has actually been a lot of new vending machine companies that now offer healthier foods in vending machines.  I took a look at a few of the more popular vending machines companies and put together some info for other corporate clients, schools and hospitals.

Keep in mind that these vending machine companies are primarily geared toward selling vending machine franchises to vending operators. But two of them  do provide enough information to allow companies looking for healthy vending machines with information about their offerings and a means for client companies to contact them to inquire about adding a vending machine to their company. Companies with a high volume of usage will be more likely to be able to secure a vending machine versus small companies with fewer staff or vending machine usage. My top pick is Sprout!

Sprout Healthy Vending

I really like the Sprout website and company approach. Check out this webpage for detailed specs on the Sprout vending equipment and an excellent video on how the vending machine combines non-refrigerated items with refrigerated items in one machine AND accepts coins, bills and credit cards easily. I really like Sprout’s website and approach to sales. They showcase themselves as a company of people committed to providing healthy products and creating a good working environment for their own staff.

Sprout Healthy Vending Machines


All Sprout Healthy Vending Machines Include:

  • Sprout Healthy Vending Machines
  • Cashless Credit and Debit Card Payment Systems
  • Coin Acceptor/Dispenser
  • Wireless Reporting/Monitoring
  • Shipping / Delivery and Installation to the Vending Locations

To inquire about setting up a Sprout vending healthy vending machine service in your office or school, click here.

Some FAQ’s about Sprout vending services that I thought was useful:

Your location does not have to pay for the machine! Its free! The Sprout Healthy Vending machine is provided at absolutely NO cost to the location. In fact, not only do we provide the machine, we service and stock it on a regular basis and then give you a percentage of the profits each month.

Sprout Healthy Vending has a qualified professional Operator in your area who is responsible to monitor, stock and service the machines as necessary. Each of our Operators goes through extensive training and background checks to ensure that the quality of service provided is far superior to anything you have witnessed before.

Your company can help select the products in each machine in your location. Sprout believes it is important to provide a good variety of healthy products in order to satisfy the taste of everyone. Your local Sprout Operator will meet with you to discuss potential products and you can provide a wish list of requested products from our extensive inventory.

Sprout has licensed Dieticians on staff that create customized Menu Plans for each machines. They will take into account local, state and federal guidelines and build a menu plan that meets or surpasses those standards.

Sprout products are all national Name Brand items. These are the same products you would expect to find on the shelves of your local Whole Foods and Trader Joes.

Fresh Healthy Vending

I also like the Fresh Healthy Vendings website because it makes it easier for client companies to see all the available products they can choose for their vending machines. Fresh Healthy Vending has a clean, easier to navigate website and it’s easy to see exactly what products they offer. Fresh Healthy Vending offers Cliff bar products lines, Luna and Kashi Go Lean bars, Nature’s Path, Barbara and SoyJoy bars as well as dried fruit, vitamin waters, healthy  juices, smoothies and yogurt. Check out the scrollable product options here.

Fresh Vending

To get more information on starting a Fresh Vending Franchise or to order a Fresh Vending machine for your location, click here and fill out the online form.

Healthy Vending Machines by HUMAN

Healthy Vending Machines by HUMAN

Sad to say that Healthy Vending Machines by HUMAN may be a great company, but the website looks like a giant confusing infomercial. When I think of HUMAN, the vending machine company, the phrase that comes to mind is “stressful clutter.” I could not get much information about any of their products, other than they are “customizable” and “healthy”.  I had to go through several web pages to find a general list of the type products they offer (granola bars, juice, etc.), but found no specific product lines mentioned. Thus their website does not list any brand name products to allow me to compare HUMAN’s offerings with the other two healthy vending companies.

I also do not like their video display terminal on the top of some of their vending machines. People at work are already under stress and stopping to grab a healthy snack should be a BREAK from computer monitors. Adding yet another video display with canned advertising content adds MORE stress to office workers. Be kind to human beings, HUMAN, and get rid of the annoying video displays on your machines! We are already bombarded with commercials on television, at air ports and in elevators. Do we really need yet more commercial clutter on our vending machines?

The HUMAN website is also difficult to navigate and cluttered with videos promoting their services. Their sales approach is so cluttered,  confusing and hard sell that I would not recommend them for any of my client sites. Go with Sprout or Fresh Vending instead!

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healthy snack
Image by havankevin via Flickr

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

A lot of us find ourselves hitting a slump at about 2:30 or 3 in the average workday. You know the feeling– you’re getting sleepy, finding it hard to concentrate, zoning out on conference calls or in meetings. You may have a craving for something sweet or caffeinated, thinking that it can get you through until the end of the day.

Keeping healthy snacks at work is a great way to counteract those cravings for sugary or caffeinated snacks. Your body is looking for an energy source, but rather than giving it refined sugar (which leads to a bigger “crash” later on), try a low-fat protein-packed snack– you’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel by the end of the day.

The McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois provides a great list of healthy snack ideas. It shows that no matter your preference, there’s something healthy that can satisfy you.

Like sweets? Try these goodies: pudding with vanilla wafers, oatmeal-raisin cookies, fig bars, graham crackers or rice cakes with peanut butter, hot chocolate, frozen yogurt, dried fruit, raisin toast, frozen fruit bars, whole fruit sorbet, homemade low-fat bran muffins, whole grain toast with peanut butter and sliced bananas, and sugar-free Jell-O made with fresh fruit and marshmallows.

Here’s the list for you to consider next time you’re at the grocery store:

  • One-half of a cantaloupe filled with ½ cup of fat-free yogurt
  • A frozen fruit bar and sparkling water
  • One low-fat granola bar and a small banana
  • A fruit smoothie
  • Air-popped popcorn topped with Italian seasonings and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese
  • Baked tortilla chips and salsa
  • One orange and six animal crackers
  • One-half cup of frozen yogurt and a small banana
  • Low-fat hummus and pita wedges
  • Celery stuffed with low-fat bean dip
  • Cinnamon bagel chips and ½ cup fat-free cottage cheese
  • Fat-free pretzel stick and 1%, skim or soymilk with chocolate syrup
  • One-half cup couscous topped with tomato sauce and ½ teaspoon of Parmesan cheese
  • Dried fruit such as apricots, apple rings, or a small box of raisins and a low-fat string cheese stick
  • Reduced sodium vegetable juice and two white cheddar popcorn cakes
  • Ready-to-eat whole grain cereal with soymilk
  • A tortilla rolled up with vegetarian fat-free refried beans and a sprinkle of Mexican blend cheese (heat in the microwave to melt the cheese)
  • Apple slices and homemade apple dip
  • Ants on a log: celery stick with peanut butter spread in the center, topped with raisins
  • Raw sweet potato sticks instead of carrot sticks (carrots sticks are good also!)
  • Two Graham cracker sheets with one tablespoon reduced-fat peanut butter
  • One medium size low-fat muffin with a juice box or chocolate milk box

Happy snacking!

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If you like to hike, ski, run marathons, or otherwise burn calories in the great outdoors, you may have needed to resort to energy bars to keep you going. Nowadays, many people eat energy bars as a mid afternoon snack or to supplement a forgotten lunch box.  “Energy” bars can be packed with as much sugar as a candy bar. However, some energy bars face better than others in turns of good fats, low calories and great taste. (It sounds like a beer I am describing, but no, energy bars are not replacements for a Miller Genuine Draft 64!)

One of my favorite energy bars is the LÄRABAR.

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Lara Bar Varieties

It is available in about 12 different flavors, from Coconut Cream Pie, Cashew Cookie, Banana Bread, Key Lime Pie, Pistachio, Lemon Bar, Apple Pie, Chocolate Coconut, Ginger Snap, Peanut Butter Cookie to Cherry Pie, Pecan Pie, Cocoa Mole PB&J and the new Tropical Fruit Tart.

What’s So Great About These Bars?

Can bars with dessert names be good for you?  From the LÄRABAR website, take a look at the ingredients:

LÄRABAR is a delicious blend of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices – energy in its purest form. Made from 100% whole food, each flavor contains no more than eight ingredients. Pure and simple, just as nature intended.

Quality standards for LÄRABAR ingredients are: All natural, No added sugars or sweetener, Raw, Non-GMO, Non-irradiated, No sulfites, No preservatives, No fillers, No colorings, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free and Vegan (But don’t let that scare you away, they are tasty!)

LÄRABARs are sweet with no added sweeteners. They use no added fillers, supplements or flavorings.  All of the vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, good carbohydrates and healthy fats are derived exclusively from the whole, raw food used to make LÄRABAR.  Plant-based fats are healthier than animal fats. The fat in LÄRABAR comes primarily from nuts-all plant-based fats containing Omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids, which have been proven to reduce LDL cholesterol and help protect the heart.

The carbohydrates in LÄRABAR are good carbohydrates, derived from fruit and, ultimately, necessary for the body to function. They also contain fiber and plant phytonutrients that help the immune system. It’s the processed and refined carbohydrates you should avoid-the kind found in white flour, white rice, and added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, white sugar and grape juice.

Larabars are Uncooked and Unprocessed. The essential enzymes, which are necessary fo

Pecan Pie bars

Pecan Pie bars

r the digestion and utilization of nutrients, remain completely intact in their most natural, powerful state. A diet abundant in raw, unprocessed foods is important for health and longevity.

LÄRABAR contains approximately 20 grams of whole-food-source carbohydrates, which are essential to good health. Each bar contains approximately 5 grams of protein.

My favorite bar, Pecan Pie, is simply a combination of pecans, dates and almonds.

JŎCALAT aka Chocolate LÄRABARs

The company also sells chocolate bars. You may say, wait, aren’t chocolate bars candy bars, which are bad for me, high in transfats, sugars and all that unhealthy gook? Well, normally yes. But in this case, no! LÄRABAR has a line of bars, JŎCALAT bars, that are made with cocoa powder, but no added sugar or trans fats.

The chocolate in JŎCALAT, along with the fruit and nuts, contains high concentrations of natural antioxidants, which appear to be helpful in combating disease and aging.

Each JŎCALAT bar contains at least 20% of the recommended daily value of fiber, along with a healthy dose of Omega-6 essential fatty acids, which help keep your heart healthy AND has the added benefit of being under 190 calories. JŎCALAT bars contain 13 essential vitamins and minerals, which decrease stress and increase energy. Resident phytonutrients promote a hea

lthy immune system.

 

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German Chocloate Cake Bar Ingredients

JŎCALAT German Chocolate Cake Bars

A new entry JŎCALAT bar offering, this bar contains Coconut+Pecans+Almonds+Cocoa. And that’s it. Listed out like that, it may not sound like it tastes that good, but try it and see if it gives your taste buds a bit of that German Chocolate Cake taste., without the nasty sugar

drop a real cake usually give you. And without the bad fats and guilt too!

So Where Do I get These Tasty LÄRABARs Already?

Order LÄRABARs directly from their website and have them shipped to you. Click here to order directly.

OR buy LÄRABARs from Whole Foods Markets at about the same price without the shipping costs.

Make Your Own Bars

As a last resort, if you have time and are adventurous, make your own raw fruit and nut bars!

Try this recipe from the Cookie Madness blog

Sort of Like Larabars

Makes about 3 bars or a quarter or a 4×4 inch square which you can form and then cut or punch into shapes.

1 1/2 ounce almonds (about 1/3 cup)
3 ounces pitted dates (about 14, if you don’t have a scale)

 

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Homemade "Lara-like Bars"

2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
1 tablespoon prune puree
1 tablespoon quick cooking oats.

Place almonds in food processor and process into crumbs. Pour into a bowl. Place dates in processor

and process as much as possible. Add almond crumbs back into processor and process until well mixed. Add cocoa, prune puree and oats. Process a little more, then dump into a bowl and knead until ingredients stick together. Shape into a rectangle. If it’s too sticky, knead in some more almonds or oats. Slice into about 3 bars or press into a square and cut out cute shapes.

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