MomsMeet: Organic Nutiva Hazelnut Spreads and Buttery Coconut Oil #Review #Nutiva

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Hazelnut spreads are my weakness and when I saw that Nutiva actually makes both a classic chocolate blend and a dark chocolate……I knew what I would be baking up storm with this season (and the next). Nutiva, took the (my) hazelnut spread addiction a step further, by providing us with an organic option. This is a game changer as finding just natural products is difficult with these spreads and most contain artificial ingredients to even nasty ones that take the enjoyment of indulging away. This is why I stopped eating what I enjoyed so much as a kid. Hazelnuts are my favorite and you combine chocolate with them, well it’s a perfect marriage. I always wished they made a dark chocolate variety but in the end, I just kept wishing they added less sugar and sweet syrups to the spreads! My hazelnut spread was slowly lost as time went by and when the company was sold to another food company, I lost any hazelnut or even chocolate flavors that remained. I started just calling it the brown spread. Sort of sounded gross but it summed up how I felt about what I had lost.

 

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Nutiva comes in and saves the day…..heck, my childhood memories. My mind is running with ideas from truffles to cakes made with their spread. I was worried that I was building up the idea and would open up the jar to just find sadness. Nutiva was very generous with the kit they sent and I received:

 

Verdict:

 

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When it comes time to purchase coconut oils, I always resort to Nutiva as my go-to brand. The brand has never failed me when it comes to quality ingredients and they are constantly innovating the brand with the new products they added. Everything is always a must buy after I have tried it once. You can’t say that about many brands out there. Nutiva’s selection may not be as grand as others but knowing that what you are buying is not only made with premium and clean ingredients, you also know that it will taste good. I am all about eating well and organic when possible, but the taste and texture has to be there for me. I don’t like the idea of “eating good” but not being happy about what I am eating in the first place. Nutiva has made me a fan of coconut oil to now being able to add their Organic Buttery one to the mix. I was already at times mixing unsalted butter with my coconut oil in the first place but now I won’t have to. The best part, you taste butter but it’s not there. Nutiva managed to use sunflower to create this genius concoction. I assumed the butter was there when I cooked and ate a pasta dish I made but while eating, I started reading the bottle and noticed this is a “butter alternative”, not actual dairy. It’s even Vegan friendly! Pure genius and I will definitely be purchasing this mix again.

 

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Next comes the Hazelnut spreads. Um, they are back and can I even admit to being better than before? I taste hazelnut again. That was gone after my third jar of trying and I bought the third bottle from another brand by telling myself maybe the other 2 jars were bad batches. You know, made on a Friday at the factory and everyone wanted to leave early kind of batch. Cocoa is the second ingredient followed by Palm and then the nut! No skimping here and I feel the spread is smoother not only in taste but texture. No grainy or oily feel when consumed. The quality of the chocolate is present and no rancid weird taste of what I call “fillers” when not only hazelnuts are used. There is a reason the hazelnut and chocolate combination has been a hit for generations. It works and Nutiva did not mess with that. I finally can have my spread and they listened to me even though I never said anything directly to them, but like some magic Nutiva lowered the sugar. Yup, by 40% less than the leading brand. This is why the power of the chocolate and hazelnut is what you get at every bite……finally, less freaking sugar. I am not anti-sugar but like salt, just a touch so you can still taste the actual ingredients you want. There is also many advantages buying Nutiva’s spread where you get Omega-3 (450 mg), Fair Trade Palm oil, to Organic and a Gluten Free product. Anyone can eat this because the goal was to make the best hazelnut spread with the best ingredients and this is why (and others) agree that so far Nutiva has beat the competition by a huge margin!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Nutiva and MomsMeet. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

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MomsMeet: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal Cups #Review #BobsRedMill

 

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As the days grow colder, like everyone, I tend to seek out warmer meals and this includes at breakfast time. I consume oatmeal through out the year and my way to change my selection, is by adding seasonal fruit to the cup. This way my cups change and I get to enjoy what the seasons have to offer. What can I say? Oatmeal can get boring as much as my granola does and let’s be honest, this is why I view granola as cold oatmeal! Adding dried fruits, nuts, seeds to even a dollop of yogurt can brighten up a cup on any day.

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I have been a fan of Bob’s Red Mill for years. They just never fail me. I started first by buying their flour decades ago and then as they released more and including meals (i.e. nut flours), I was happy to see them reach the west coast. It’s kind of nice not having to order online all the time and when places like Target started supported the brand….heck, I am thrilled.

 

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I was recently part of the Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal Cups campaign from MomsMeet. They were kind and generous to send out samples to try and share and like the signature that runs so true to Bob’s Red Mill, they included additional products to share. Love them! Such a giving company and please take a moment to read about the company on their website, you will fall in love with how they treat their employees. There is true pride and respect for the products they make for us. The other part that I have enjoyed being a Bob’s Red Mill fanatic, is they eat like I do. This adding chia seeds to flax seeds to enhance not only your taste buds but your nutrition is something I learned from them. Yes, they taught me to care more about what I eat and always made it easy for me from offering flax seed both whole and in milled form. No excuses in being able to eat better!

 

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The Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal Cups kit included:

 

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Verdict:
The Oatmeal cups are phenomenal. You can use the microwave direction or the add hot water to the cup one. I have been using a mix of nut milks and water to enhance the flavor and not that the cups lack taste, but I sometimes seek a richer background on those colder mornings. All the ingredients are real and clean, no fillers and even making sure to use gluten free oats. The Nutritional Boosters that you can also add are the protein powders to create a morning power meal. You can even go with the unflavored blend they offer online or why not start your morning with some chocolate. It’s is like having a hot cocoa and oatmeal in one cup and it is actually good for you. I make the “Choco-Monkey” blend with the classic oatmeal cup, a spoonful of Chocolate Protein powder, almond milk with water as the fluid, then after heating I add chopped bananas and walnuts with a spoonful of peanut butter in the center. It’s almost like a molten lava cake with that gooey peanut butter center and I feel sinful eating it because oatmeal never tasted this good. My guilt vanishes when I start adding up the protein and it turns out to be a cup filled with healthy nutrition. Eating well goes beyond opening a mealy tasting bar and going out the door in the mornings. The Bob’s Red Mill cups come with tops, so if you have time to pick up a latte, you have time (3 minutes) to give yourself a few microwave seconds to eat the cups as they come or enhance them to your liking. You are worth it and your family will join in because things that taste good don’t get questioned. They just make smiles 🙂

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill and MomsMeet. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

UpNature: Raw and Organic 100% Natural Honey #Review #UpNatureHoney

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Honey is one of nature’s most simplest products and the applications are endless. Now buying honey was very simple before. You usually picked a jar or a bear shaped bottle and you had honey ready to go. Then the industry decided to get funny but not in a very laughable kind of sense. We had companies add fillers and sell honeys from around the world that were high in price but not quality. You were paying pretty much for sugars and not even the good kind. Some even add enhancements and flavoring, which are not even naturally occurring. So finding a brand you can trust and sells true and honest honey can be a bit of a hunt but so worth it. You will even find if you use the real stuff, like with vanilla extracts, you end up needing less because of the purity.

 

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UpNature makes Raw and Organic Honey with zero surprises or fillers. You get the real stuff with zero processing. The good stuff is kept in and no bad stuff added! Simplicity and honesty at it’s finest. UpNature is USDA Organic Certified, Free of GMOs, and even Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified. Free from being heated and literally jarred in the same form it was gathered.

Price Point: $17.99 via Amazon or $19.99 via UpNature’s Website for a 400 gram jar

 

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Verdict:

The first thing I noticed was that the honey in the jar was not clear like many in the stores that have been processed via heat so other fillers can be added and combined. You have a semi-opaque liquid that tends to run slower than other honeys of like kind. It’s almost the texture of a maple syrup of high grade when you move it in the jar. The color is a brilliant amber! Just beautiful and UpNature gave the bottle a beautiful beehive design on the golden colored lid, so the little details were very much appreciated. The taste test is just amazing. There is thickness to the honey but it’s a creamy texture and very smooth. I tried it on bread first to see how it tasted and I had to stop myself. I had no idea I liked honey so much until I tried UpNature’s honey. The product is from the Ukraine and the bottle states the honey is cultivated from fields that are rich in minerals, so the bees create a honey that is really made from wildflowers. I tried it with tea the second time and just a 1/4 of a teaspoon was more than satisfying and enhanced the flavor of the tea, which was orange/citrus in taste. This honey just brightened that little tea cup and changed the flavor profile completely. I love using less because this means this jar shall last! I have a recipe for blonde brownies where honey is used as a sweetener and I will be using this one because it will definitely create a better texture (moist) to the brownies.

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from UPNature. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Koram Irrigation Garden Drip Kit

I have been looking to install a drip system for vegetables and herbs for years, but so many things get in the way, I tend to put it off. When I got a chance to try one for reviewing, I was thrilled. But once it arrived, so the song goes, “The thrill is gone”.

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In the delivery box was a bag. In the bag was a myriad of plastic bits, almost 150 of them to be exact, and not a single instruction or user’s guide to be found. That’s right, Koram wants you to just intuit how this goes together or works, it seems. I’m pretty handy, I know my way around irrigation. I’ve run sprinkler lines. But to just throw 140-some odd little plastic bits in a bag and say “Figure it out!”? C’mon, Koram. You have to try a little harder than that. Suffice to say it took me a while to try this system out, because frankly I didn’t even know where to begin. Hubby mentioned after inspection that I should expect leaks, and the hose connector to eventually crack over time due to use and the unrelenting California sun. But as it stands it dribbled a little from various parts and the pressure was non-existent by the end of the run.  I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time on a review of a product the manufacturer didn’t care enough about to tell me how to put it together. Koram needs to get the ship shaped up, because with a little care and help, this could be a great kit. As it is, it is not.

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  • You can find this kit on Amazon

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Koram. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

MYS Salt and Pepper Grinder Set

It might seem superfluous to have more than one set of grinders on your counter, but in this house, even two sets falls a little short. Because for us, we have 3 different salts and 4 different peppers to grind depending on the meal, so it can get a little crowded on the counter at times. What that also means is I get to compare and contrast MYS’s Grinder set versus, say, the previous set from Q’s Inn. They look alike, but do they perform alike?

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Sadly, no. Not that the MYS set performs badly, it’s just not as butter-smooth as the Q’s Inn set. There’s some binding in the grinding action, as well as a squeal or two. Occasionally they stick a bit. Other than that they function identically. What was absolutely superb was the collapsible silicone pouring spout for refilling. That’s a bonus that has unexpectedly made filling my grinders a joy instead of a chore. The julienne peeler is neat, but I have a few of those, and none of the are as dangerous. This one as sharp blades that are right out there for my soft, pink digits to get sliced and diced on, so have a safe place to store it. The included cleaning brush is also an inspired inclusion that is one of those “Well, duh!” tools that I should have had much sooner. But the meat and potatoes of this set are the grinders, and they’re decent, not great.

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The stainless steel is also slightly thinner, and not as “polished” so I would be wary of putting in salts that have high moisture content. The ceramic burrs are adjustable and should last a while. The glass bases are easy to clean, grip and use. And the included goodies are mostly awesome, but the action on the grinders, which means the most important part of the set, is lacking and problematic on my set, so I have to knock a couple of stars off for that, but I’ll add one back because the silicone funnel for filling? Inspired. And MYS states on the Amazon listing: “100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE; we aim to keep you perfectly happy with our products and want to know if there are any concerns or questions; please contact us as we will make it right!” So it’s up to you, but for my money, Q’s Inn gets my business instead.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from MYS Homeware. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

SunRype: The NEW Fruit & Chia Bars and just released Energy Bars #Review

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SunRype, makes bars for consumers that want other options than the soy loaded and artificial sweetener filled bars, you see in so many products of this kind today. I want real food and this goes for when I need a pick-me up snack to even a replacement meal. My Husband has soy sensitivity and I want a bar we can both share and eat. We usually even split an energy bar when we are running errands and the last thing I want to do, is say you can’t have this one. The bars are gluten free and even though we do not have a sensitivity or allergy to gluten, we like to not always eat the same ingredients with every meal. When SunRype approached me about reviewing their 4 most recent bars, I looked into the company and liked how they stated things like “100% Fruit Snacks”, “Simple Ingredients”, to words in the ingredients list that you can pronounce…….so a bar I can actually trust!

I was sent the following varieties from two of SunRype’s newest collections:

Fruit & Chia in Mango Twist
Fruit & Chia in Apple Cinnamon
Energy in Chocolate Coconut
Energy in Raspberry Chocolate

Verdict:

Taste matters because I love fruits and vegetables, and never understood why others did not until I tasted some bars on the market. Any real fruit was annihilated and I probably would feel the same if my introduction to certain fruit bars began that way. SunRype, respects the fruit! The Fruit and Chia bars are like the breakfast scatters I already eat. Every Sunday, I fill a mason jar with dried fruits, seeds and nuts to eat throughout the week. It’s mixed with several flax seeds from ground to whole, dried fruits from coconut to acai berries to other ingredients like cocoa nibs and even mini dark chocolate chips because everything in moderation does not hurt, plus actually makes eating your meal an enjoyment. Ironically, I skip what I call the common filler nuts like peanuts and it’s nothing against the nut but I prefer almonds, pistachios, to walnuts and if I crave peanuts, I’ll just eat peanuts. When I read the packages on the SunRype Fruit & Chia bars, they make what I eat. Versus it being a scatter that I usually eat with yogurt or Kefir, they put it in a package I can travel with. Great for mornings I am in a hurry or dinner will be at a later time that busy day. The bars start with 100% fruit pieces and use sweeteners from the fruit itself to molasses and even brown rice syrup. You know…..real foods! It’s a whole grain bar and they use gluten free oats and brown rice flour. Each of the Fruit & Chia bars contain 800 mg of ALA Omega-3 Fatty Acids and both the Mango Twist and Apple Cinnamon bar is just 200 calories per bar. Sodium is just 50 mg and you get a nice 4 grams of protein. I avoid cinnamon anything. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the spice but most times anything with it is loaded and overpowering. Not with SunRype! The spice is a compliment and the bar resembles an apple bread I bake from scratch. The Mango is a nice break from the common flavors and has a tropical puree taste from the dried mango but because the bar contains coconut, it has a beautiful balance.

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Now, the SunRype Energy bars come with 7 grams of protein that is plant derived. SunRype, also does not hide behind proprietary blends, they list what their energy blend comes from. The main component is pea (protein), green tea extract and ginseng powder for an energy boost. I find my body not only gets a natural boost from these ingredients but I metabolize them better, so no crashing like you would have with some energy drinks. The Chocolate Coconut is 210 calories and the Raspberry Chocolate variety is just 10 calories less. Not bars that you have to punish yourself later by cutting calories from your meals. They are decent in size and more than fulfill their need by stopping hunger to even keeping you going. The Chocolate Coconut was my favorite of all 4 bars. I love coconut and SunRype did not skip on the ingredient. I not only satisfied myself with a snack but also a craving. The Raspberry Chocolate still had the tartness from the berry! Love that because it’s the whole point I go after such berries, I want what they bring from the tart to sweetness that is unique in flavor to that variety.

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All in all, this bars were a hit. They remind me of my morning scatters I enjoy, mixed with fruit leather bars I purchase at the local Framer’s Market…..SunRype just got the wonderful idea of making them both meet to make a bar that is not only nutritious, but a pleasure to have. They have a store locator for their products to even available on Amazon, so no reason to not give there treats…..I mean bars a try. 🙂

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from SunRype. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

FreshJax: Set of 5 Gourmet Handcrafted Spices (Grilling Spices) #Review #FreshJaxSpices

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One of the delights of Summer, is the grilling weather. Being in California, this means that we grill most parts of the year and even during Winter. If it’s raining we can easily bring the grill under the tall awning from the patio, so again no limitations. Finding spices and especially blends is something I must admit I do not usually purchase. I have a large array of individual spices, dried herbs, chilies, in powdered to granulated, and even whole form. I just avoid blends because I found early on, they were just mostly blended products with 75% being salts or sugars. Not my kind of thing, so when FreshJax reached out and I looked into the company…..well, I gave them a try.

FreshJax is a family owned company and they started their company in 2011. They advertised something I use commonly, being “clean” about what you make. This is not just limited to sanitary conditions, but to using real products, no fillers and having pride in what you make. You got to love cooking to a certain degree to make things work and one thing FreshJax loves, is their spice mixes!

 

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I selected the Grilling Spices because the selection looked like one I can actually use. Like all 5 bottles sounded like great mixes and close to ingredients we use on a weekly basis, but I am always looking how people add their own twist to ingredients I use. The grilling mix comes with:

  • GRILL MASTER: Think about an all purpose blend and this mix is it. It goes well with any protein to vegetables and seafood. Serves all well with herbs like organic fennel, garlic, rosemary and smoked black peppercorns. I use smoked salts on almost a daily basis but the smoked peppercorns really made this mix unique and addicting.
  • SMOKEY SOUTHWEST: Not just spice but flavor! This one was great to add to beans and even inside a quesadilla. It made every cheesy quesadilla amazing with just one sprinkle of this blend. You have smoked salts and pepper, to cumin to give it that recognizable Tex-Mex kick.
  • CITRUS PEPPER: I have a lemon pepper blend I use and it’s also made with organic herbs and spices. FreshJax, laughed at my lemon pepper blend! This bottle is a citrus bonanza when it comes to flavor. You have a blend here of lemon, orange, lime with a zest you get from white peppercorns. They also use a pepper medley blend, which means you get the red and even the green that tend to be milder in flavor. A great combination and perfect for vegetables and I made a Citrus Pepper compound butter for salmon that was grilled on planks and oh my, just delicious!
  • FRESH BAY: There is a reason the other is called “Old” Bay. This mix revamps the old by using organic mace, cardamon, mustard seeds to your familiar celery seed and bay leaves. I found even cinnamon in this blend but I could not taste it. Like not one ingredient fought with each other, so it’s a peaceful bay 🙂 that will play well with shrimps to even chicken.
  • PEPPERED HABANERO: I was afraid this one would just mimic the Smokey Southwest but thankfully this one was totally different. You get heat and I find habanero peppers not only provide heat but more flavor than a jalapeno. I don’t find the pepper to be crazy hot. This blend is peppery and you get a zing but again FreshJax delivers taste. They also blended in Bird’s Eye Chili, which is an Asian variety. I love that this one plays well with braised beef because you don’t have to always taco everything! When I braised the beef, it was ready in 1 hour and the tortillas were on the side to help scoop up the peppery sauce this blend created!

 

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Final Verdict:

I recall now what ease it is to pick-up a bottle and go! I kind of forgot that when I am so use to getting out the items I need to grind peppercorns, seeds, and pods, to then mixing in dry herbs, spices and salts. FreshJax, made this a positive experience just from one simple bottle with no clean-up needed. Easy and I was not cheating the dishes I made either. Flavor was present and I still had to salt some a little bit because these seasonings add taste, not just pickle the meats and vegetables you add them to. The herbs and spices are fresh and you not only see them on the meats you rubbed them on, marinated with but even the vegetables I used the spices on were well received.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from FreshJax. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Ozeri Green Earth Non-Stick 12″ Wok

We use dinner time here at my house to “travel the world” and eat foods that are inspired by many exotic ethnic dishes. One of the favorites, for Hubby at least, are our trips to “the Orient”, and thanks now to Ozeri, we have a new spin on our old classic with their fabulous Green Earth non-stick Wok.

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Ozeri’s smooth non-stick ceramic coating is is second to none, and where we’ve had issues within months with some of the larger company’s non-stick offering (Calphalon, I’m looking at you), we’re going on a year with some of our Ozeri Green Earth pans working like the day we got them. Wok cooking will also made a huge difference with our stir-fry dishes and got a nice sear on the veggies while leaving them crisp, and browned the meats very well while leaving them tender. And clean up was a cinch, I’m talking a rinse with hot water and this pan was nearly clean! The handle stayed cool even with medium-high heat, and there was enough real estate in the pan that I could feed us both of us with a single pan! Made from heavy die-cast aluminum, this pan is made to last and provide years of use. And Ozeri’s patented ceramic coating is 100% PTFE and PFOA free, so no harmful chemicals are going to be leaching into your food! And yes, for those of you wondering, it has a magnetized induction stove safe base.

If I had one thing that was a slight problem for me, it was storage. This is a big pan, bigger than the 12″ sizing would lead you to believe, and I had a hard time getting it in with my other pots and pans. It’s not heavy, it’s actually quite light for it’s size, it’s just so large I may need a shelf of it’s own. And because it’s Ozeri, you can be sure they only want 100% customer satisfaction and will go out of their way to get you there! If you enjoy cooking with an Asian flair, I can not recommend this pan highly enough! You simply must have one in you kitchen!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Ozeri. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

HouseParty: Bertolli® Al Fresco Taste of Tuscany Party with Creamy Basil Alfredo #BertolliAlFrescoTasteOfTuscany

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As Summer approaches, I tend to get as busy as I do when it’s holiday time (November and December). It’s that six month mark I call, when changes start taking place, projects get started and making dinner needs simplification. The barbecues start getting prepped early in Spring here in Southern California because we have pleasant weather most time of the year. This means I so welcome kitchen help. I still want a meal that is healthy and leaves my family and friends full and happy.

In comes Bertolli, changing things up by adding more to their sauce line. Forget about the red and think about white base sauces that come with new flavors to welcome the new season. A white sauce is not something we enjoy (at least here) as I we usually make red based sauces. I am always looking for a way to use my overabundance of tomatoes, so that means I am always making tomato-y sauces! They are great but it can easily create a rut. I have come up with Greek style, South American to Italian “red sauces” that I think my family is on to me! When Bertolli came up with the Al Fresco Taste of Tuscany Party and I saw Basil…..well, say no more.

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Retail Price Point: $1.99 for a 15 ounce jar at Target. They are currently on sale at Target from the regular $2.25 price point. You can also find Bertolli and other selections at Von’s, Stater Bros., Albertson’s and other major stores.

Ingredients: Water, Cream, Butter (Cream, Salt), Soybean Oil, basil, Modified Corn Starch, Parmesan Cheese (Cultured Part-Skim Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Enzyme Modified Egg Yolk, Sherry Wine, Salt, Whey, Natural Flavors, Yeast Extract, Disodium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Garlic Powder.

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Verdict:
I like easy but I ask a lot from it. I also want a meal that is well liked and not filled with the bad ingredients. In other words, I don’t want my family picking up that I am using a jarred sauce. There is nothing wrong with sauces out of a jar and you can find brands that keep the sauce honest. In this home, jarred sauces are called “cheater sauces”. Okay, the family is a little spoiled but I prefer they welcome the better foods and if the sauce makes the cut, it also gets welcomed in the pantry. Bertolli’s Creamy Basil Alfredo is very simple to prepare. You just pour, reheat and serve. You can easily make it part of your meal or the meal itself by making it a main dish. For this occasion, I wanted to get maximum benefit out of the jar and the one jar needed to yield enough servings, so everyone could try it. I open the jar and the smell is pleasant and inviting. You have a nice milk and cream base that is followed up with the aroma of herbs, basil of course being the predominant one. Being that my basil plant was attacked by squirrels last year, my 5 year old plant never returned. I also welcomed the basil plant seeds that Houseparty and Bertolli included. I use to fear frost or excessive heat damaging my basil plant, never thinking a Squirrel with gourmet tastes would go nutty for an herb! With the amount of basil packed into this creamy Alfredo jar, my passion for basil and craving will definitely be satisfied. I opted for ricotta and spinach filled raviolis and made this my starter dish. I tend to now fry my raviolis in butter and olive oil.  This method not only gives the pasta a firmer texture but also that golden buttery taste that everyone seems to love. I warmed the sauce and other than adding some parm and a fresh slice of a baby heirloom tomato, the Bertolli Creamy Alfredo sauce was doing all the talking here.

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And, the talking it did. I never have enjoyed a jarred cream based sauce. They always broke when heated and/or had an off taste. This one does not! The Creamy Basil Alfredo from Bertolli stayed whole when heated and did not have an odd after taste. You just taste cream, butter, some cheesy notes and the basil. That is all. The sauce does not overwhelm what you are eating. The tomato gave the ravioli that fresh kick but because it’s mild in flavor, it played well with the sauce. The acidic properties played like a balsamic would, but mild enough to not just kill the entire plating. The spinach in the ricotta filling was made for a basil pairing, so Bertolli made a simple dish that much better. Some guests added a crack of pepper to top, so you can really make the Creamy Basil Alfredo sauce from Bertolli make any dish work and to your liking. No one even asked if the sauce was jarred any I was asked how I made it because so many tend to rush the process and end up with a broken sauce. I told them I would print out the recipe because it’s on-line. I shared a coupon after for my guests to use but I was not letting the cat out of the bag on this one from the start!  I also love that everyone was gifted a Basil plant to grow at home, just watch out for those squirrels who think basil flavored acorns are the it dish this season!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Bertolli and HouseParty.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Social Nature: Kim’s Simple Meals, Organic Macaroni Casserole #Review #TryNatural

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Next on the list, is Kim’s Simple Meals and this is their Organic Macaroni Casserole. The product again is easy to make and assemble. You simply boil the pasta, which is gluten free and made from organic brown rice. You then mix the contents with water, blend and add it to the cooked elbow shaped noodles. Mix and in the oven the casserole goes. The Mac is soy free and made with GMO free ingredients. Vegan friendly and Kosher too.

Ingredients: Gluten free brown rice elbow macaroni*, oat flour*, sea salt, sugar*, dehydrated vegetables* (onion*, garlic* & tomato*), yeast powder*, natural smoke Torula yeast, annatto powder* (annatto extract*, maltodextrin*), citric acid, lemon peel powder* and natural hickory smoke powder [potato maltodextrin, natural hickory smoke flavoring, hydrated silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent)]. *Organic

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Verdict:

The instructions were simple and because I tend to like more bite in my pastas, I did not boil the noodles as long as they suggested. When I blended the “cheese sauce”, it was very watery in texture and had an odd smell that was smoky. Kim suggests you can add your own meatless based meats, like a veggie based bacon. This time I decided to just go as it comes but I can see even adding vegetables. Once the pasta was partially cooked, I added the sauce and it did not thicken. It was more like the texture of a thin juice, versus any bechamel sauce I have made to make a typical Macaroni and Cheese dish. There is no real cheese here but I did notice this box is not labeled dairy free like the burger version. Why not add milk? I have no idea and it was not listed as a suggestion. Not even a nut milk that is unsweetened was not suggested, or even soy milk if you have no issues with it. The burger box had soy…..but I went forward and was thankful walnuts were not suggested like the video shared for the home-style burgers, and no oats! The house smells like something is cooking but it’s not like any Macaroni and Cheese I have had before. Maybe a pasta kind of dish but not Mac and Cheese. It comes out of the oven and it’s like one solid mass. I noticed this in the video also, when the serving was cut. The liquid was absorbed and you still smell something smoky-ish but I could not put my finger on it. Maybe fake bacon bits and along that area. I taste it and it’s not cheese and I have eaten many cheeses in my lifetime. This pretender is more like a rice dish, where the rice is shaped like elbow pasta and a yellow sauce. The sauce creates a pasta cake but no cheese and gooey texture you associate with the original. It was not awful but definitely not super delicious. The only thing that came to mind, is it tasted like that mystery dish where the label fell off the platter, which sat in a buffet/cafeteria line. Surprise-a-Dish! If you like surprises, this may be for you and adding vegetables or other items might spruce it up and make it less surprise-ish casserole.

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Connect with Kim’s Simple Meals at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Kim’s Simple Meals and Social Nature. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

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