Campbell’s® : New Campbell’s Organic Soups #Review

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As simple as soups are, they probably are one the hardest things for me to purchase off the shelf. It comes down to ingredients used and while some want the consumer to focus on caloric intake, many are just vessels loaded with sodium but no flavor and far from being healthy. I like broth but when a soup says chicken noodles, I sort of expect chicken and pasta in the container. Silly me! My Husband will usually join me and we tend to always split a can/container between us and even though I will always give him more of the noodles and poultry pieces, he will always ask me if I got enough “soup stuff” while he dips and empties his spoon, trying to ladle out the desired chunks. I just finally got tired of cans that did not deliver and started making my own. This means that a simple meal like soup…….was not so simple anymore!

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When I was offered the Organic Soups campaign from Campbell’s, I admit I could not think of the last time I actually purchased a can from the company. I never cared for the condensed version as a child, and much less as an adult. The red and white cans were everything I disliked about soup with soggy noodles, wannabe chicken bits and I never wanted to slurp the salty liquid like the kids did in the commercials. If you added the extra can of water to the soup, it was tasteless but still salty. There was no balance, so I usually went for the brand in the blue can. Now, Campbell’s is advertising Organic soups and get this, no longer in a can but a carton. No broth that tastes like metal, so I give the ever loving brand a second look. Before I received the campaign materials, I visited the website. The soups are advertised as good soups for adults and kids, with the kid versions just having shaped character pasta, but still wholesome and now made with organic derived ingredients. The carton is white and green in color and the only red is the Campbell’s brand that I’ll be honest, I would look at this carton and never imagined it was a Campbell’s product. The soups just look different and the flavors I would actually desire. I look at the list and the new Campbell’s Organic soups come in:

Chicken Noodle
Lentil
Tomato & Basil
Chicken Tortilla
Butternut Squash
Garden Vegetable

The Kid’s (and adults if they so desire) get:
Mega Noodle
Chicken Stars
and Frozen theme Chicken noodle soup with Frozen shaped character pasta

 

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The campaign materials arrive and I begin my hunt for the soups. None of my Target stores carried the soups and when I would locate them, Von’s had them priced at $3.99 a carton (when the coupon covered up to $3) and Stater Bros. had them $1.00 cheaper but also was limited in selection. I visited 2 Von’s and 3 Stater Bros. and I could never locate the Chicken Tortilla and for kids, I never found the Mega Noodle. I still was able to find my second and third choices, plus I had enough coupons to share with my group. I always like giving a sample of a product and a coupon, and thankfully Campbell’s was generous enough to let me share this way.

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Verdict:
I make the first soup, the Tomato and Basil Bisque. The soup has a vibrant red color and the texture out of the carton is perfect, not too loose or thick like a paste. The smell is pleasant and inviting. You can even pick up the sweet notes from the tomatoes and this is before warming anything up. I heat the soup and the smell is just like other Organic varieties I purchase at Trader Joe’s and Sprout’s, which is really one of the few places I can purchase “real soups” with no funny stuff, other than the times I pick up the blue colored cans at Target on sale. I taste the Organic Tomato soup and I am waiting for that off taste, the saltiness to hit me so I can make a face………but it never comes. This soup tastes, do I dare say it, like a normal good soup. I actually had to add a hint of smoked salt to the soup! I quickly add a cupful of frozen organic veggies because this new Campbell’s Organic soup is worthy of it! Yup, I never ruin good veggies beforehand because the worst is bathing vegetables in a base that is just not fixable. A little bit of cracked pepper and some cheese crumbs on top and dinner is done. Oh my goodness, I was able to make soup for dinner like a normal person! No need to make a base by cooking or braising meats, just open the carton and in 10 minutes time (with add-ons) I can eat at a good time after doing grocery shopping. I’m ecstatic and I even take the empty carton to the table and start reading it, trying to find that negative thing like high sodium, maybe sugars, okay it’s the fat, nope it has to be the calories but I find nothing. I can’t believe this is Campbell’s (sorry, Campbell’s but you have burned me in the past)! I actually like the new Campbell’s and I actually will hunt for the Chicken Tortilla version now because the Lentil was awesome and the Chicken noodle……get this, had actual chicken pieces and N-O-O-D-L-E-S!

 

Take a new look at the Organic Soups from Campbell’s at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Campbell’s and MomsMeet.  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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Derma-E : Now available at Target Stores! #NoticeTheLotus in 2016 Derma-E Skincare #Review

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I hope everyone is having a Happy New Year. With a new year, means new products for 2016 and this is always something I look forward to when it comes to new trends and beauty related products.

I reviewed Derma-E products in late 2015 and I am happy to report they will be starting the new year with us! This also means new changes and Derma-E will also now be available at Target stores, both on-line and in stores. If you have the Red Card from Target, you not only save 5% with every Derma-E purchase, but you can also subscribe to get timely delivered products (refills) and save an additional 5% on top of that! You combine that with any rebate/money-back program, the savings will be non-stop as will be looking younger, which always makes me feel better. You add a cartwheel deal from Target, or if you purchase a Target beauty box, they always come with a $3 off $15 purchase coupon…….well, I get excited when I see my receipts from Target because I want to save as much as I can! It has become a challenge for this girl!

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Great Coupons that come with the Beauty Boxes from Target

Derma-E sent me 4 products to try that will be hitting Target stores this January:

Shopping at Target just got better for me and I am guilty of bargain shopping but it’s only a real bargain if the product works. With Derma-E, I get the best of both worlds, the products are not super expensive, so any additional savings just adds up instantly and the products perform well. I don’t leave feeling guilty because I wanted to take better care of myself and with Derma-E, this just does not happen. The company is open about what their products contain and also do not oversell how they perform. You know what every bottle, tube and jar will be able to do for you without any “photoshopped like” picture that will never yield what real world results do. Honesty, in the beauty world has always been hiding behind an asterisk and you will notice the Lotus is Honest. I don’t have to flip a Derma-E product to find what that little star by a statement really means, so when I first tried the products, I instantly gained a new respect for the company. I then tried the products and it shifted how I shopped for beauty items (again). I already knew a price tag was not an indicator of results/performance, but companies change formulations and what was a bargain once, stops and then the product you relied on stopped working too! It’s the same with beauty products as it is with food products, always read the label and know what it means.

We finally have a real Winter in Southern California and it has been cold, windy, dry and now wet. My skin has been feeling the stress from both the climate and the holidays. All because the calendar flipped and Christmas was a month ago, I am still in week one trying to box anything that glitters. So, I am trying to box last month while dealing with a new one. You would think with every passing year I would get use to what to expect, but I don’t. New traditions, dropping old ones and so forth is just a juggling game that I pretend I do well. My motto was not to get overwhelmed this year and I thankfully took it easier but still experienced some stress. I started to skip on masks, peels, and then moisturizing. Events meant I was trying new looks, new make-up and now my face is as tired as I feel. I still want to pretend I can juggle, so I started 2016 with new face products from Derma-E.

 

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Derma-E Firming DMAE Eye Lift- This product comes in a tube and I like that because it means less contamination or air that can affect how a product performs, plus easy to just toss into my drawer when storing. I eat Goji berries every morning, well now so does my skin! The product has a patented ingredient called InstaLift, which is Goji berry glycopeptides, which are rich with antioxidants. A small amount used twice a day is all that is needed. This is an eye cream that not only fights signs of aging, but also helps smooth away any that you may already have. It works double duty as preventing, slowing down and helping you with any fine lines that sneaked by! The formula is light enough to use under cosmetics but provides enough moisture through out the day, no matter the season!  Available at Target for $21.99, before any discounts apply.

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In case you have never seen a Goji Berry 🙂

 

 

 

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Derma-E Firming DMAE Moisturizer- Just like the eye cream, this product gives you the same benefits but this is formulated for use on the entire face. The moisturizer hydrates, which helps with elasticity that is visible to the eye and also touch. Your skin improves with daily use and as long as I gave the product about 5 minutes to absorb before applying make-up, I did not experience any issues with application.  Available at Target for $18.99, before any discounts apply.

 

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Derma-E Hydrating Day Creme- This little creme is my everyday go-to moisturizer. Any little dry patch that an acne gel caused, this creme will fix in no time. I suffer from blemishes and breakouts when my stress goes up, so I apply topical acne treatments that kill the pimple but everything around it too. I try to dot with a q-tip but that never works and I flip so much in my sleep that I am lucky I never ended up with acne anything in my eye! The Hydrating creme from Derma-E will even out the skin’s color and any little “peelies” of skin will either go back and stay with the rest of the party, or I can simply rub softly enough that they will come off. I then can look normal and like nothing happened. The moisture is retained all day, so come noon I don’t look how I did when I woke up.  Available at Target for $23.99, before any discounts apply.

 

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Derma-E Hydrating Night Creme- I started a new technique where I apply a light layer of night cream around the healthy edge of my skin, that is between the pimple I want to kill.  I then apply the dot of acne gel onto the pimple itself and this has reduced the side effects of redness to peeling that would be the end result of what would happen to the skin closest to the blemish.  This Night creme created a barrier of protection and kept my healthy skin safe.  I also found this creme to work well enough on my skin that when I needed extra hydration, I would add a few dots to my other moisturizer to pump up the effects.  Great for around the lips after exfoliating because we tend to neglect that area between our skin and lips.  I always treat my lips to achieve smooth results but I noticed as I age, that edge where I apply lip liner……well it could always be smoother!  Available at Target for $25.99, before any discounts apply.

Connect with Derma-E at Target by visiting them at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Derma E.  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.

 

Stewart Pro-Treat Freeze Dried Chicken Liver Treats

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Our little girl gets spoiled. She’s 13 going on 3 and somehow almost always has her proverbial toast land butter-side up. This Christmas has been no different, first with the amazing squeaky toy we got to try, now with these Stewart Pro-Treat Liver treats, and later with a pet bed. Someone made out like a bandit, but of the three, the one thing she loves best are these Stewart Pro-Treat Chicken Liver treats.

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Nowadays it’s hard to find good, decent real food to give our pets. The industry is very loosely regulated and it seems that the vigilance needed to keep poor quality and dangerous food and treats out of the US is sorely lacking. We used to give our dog the chicken jerky treats, and she did love them, but the continuous incidences of pets getting sick and dying from them made us swear off them permanently many, many years ago. We’d taken to giving her mostly homemade treats and dry “liver snap” treats we bought from Trader Joe’s because we just didn’t trust anyone to make a decent product. But Stewart is a different company and their products are in a class by themselves. Their Pro-Treat Chicken Liver treats are just that: 100% raw liver, freeze dried and shelf stable. Think of it as liver concentrate cookies. And our girl, bless her heart, loves them. Small, bite sized (which is good for “gulpers”), and packed with all the vitamins and nutrients that can only come from natural, actual chicken livers. No binders, no fillers, no additives or preservatives. I mean, check out this nutritional analysis:

Guaranteed Analysis:
Minimum Protein 70.45%
Minimum Fat 15.38%
Maximum Fiber .07%
Maximum Moisture 6.5%

 

Yessir, that’s the good stuff. For over 40 years Stewart has been providing the gold standard for “training” treats trusted by professionals far and wide. And the genuinely care about your pet, unlike many of the overseas conglomerates that seem content to import junk and maybe kill your little furry family member.

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I had heard of Stewart Pet Treats before and never had the opportunity to try them until now, and I’m so fortunate I did, because now I have another company I trust with the health of my beloved little dog. A 3 oz. container has about 100 pieces per tub, and will only run you $6.29 on Amazon. That’s a steal in my book, and I know where I’ll be getting our dog’s “nummers” from now on.

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Connect with Stewart Pet:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Stewart Pet Products. 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.

BetterBody Foods: PB Fit, Peanut Butter Powder and PB Chocolate Powder #Review Panettone Pound Cake #Tryazon

I have looked at powdered peanut butter but never actually purchased it. I sort of walked around it and wondered how it was when it reconstituted, how it baked when used in recipes, to even how it was when sprinkled over my morning breakfasts.  I even imagined mixing the powder with peanut butter, creating a grilled PB Nutty &J sandwich that would make everyone stand in lines to get their fix.  The BetterBody Foods PB fit is a brand that I saw was preferred mostly and touted as being the “must try” when it came to venturing into Peanut Butter powders.

Powdered Peanut Butter is not just one of those products that is made just so you can see if you can be done! It has it’s applications because I myself sometimes wish I could up the “peanut flavor” without having to add more nuts or even the butter itself. Formulations have doomed me when I cooked recipes or was experimenting and added too much peanut butter that created an unpleasant texture. From too much oil to even producing bake goods that baked up more like a crunchy paste than a bread or a cookie dough. Thankfully, our dog saves us when my PB creations have failed.

The BetterBody Foods PB fit is also a different product all together than what comes out of a jar and no butter knife required. You can easily add flavor and not sacrifice texture. You also have health benefits that come in to play that I had overlooked. The BetterBody Foods company powder offers:

  • A Gluten Free Peanut Butter Powder
  • Lower in Fats, which depending on the variety you buy that can be from 75% to 85% lower
  • 1/3 less calories per serving compared to standard peanut butter
  • Good source of protein and also fiber
  • The Peanut Butter powder is also natural with no artificial ingredients, dyes, or preservatives.
  • Simply Peanuts, Salt and Sugar made from non-GMO ingredients

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Okay, this Peanut Butter is a different nut all together in my book. It’s a cleaner and a more intense tasting peanut, so I opted to make a recipe and using the PB Fit powder because of the lower fat content but not lowered peanut tasting! With the holidays approaching, almond cakes and pound cakes are some of my favorite baked goods. They just go with anything from the seasonal fruits and berries, to just plain with a dollop of whipped cream or a warm sauce. I figured since I was being adventurous, why not make an Panettone Pound Cake and use a combination of products that are nut based.

Let’s Begin….

  • 7 ounces of Almond Paste (grated)
  • 2 sticks of Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cups of White Sugar
  • 4 Eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 drop of Lemon
  • 2 drops of Almond Extract
  • 1 tablespoon of Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 4 tablespoons of PB Fit Powder (you can use plain or even the chocolate variety.  You can also divide the batch to make a marble cake by using both varieties)
  • 1 cup of Cake Flour
  • 1 cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup of Hazelnut Flour (ground hazelnuts)
  • Zest of one Orange (any variety you desire)
  • 1/2 cup of Milk (room temperature)
  • Optional 1/2 a cup to a cup of nuts like Pistachios to even mini chocolate chips.  You can even add candied fruits, dry fruits (imagine figs) and crystallized ginger in lower amounts.  You can also add slivered almonds on top when 1/4 baked through, and then make sure to cover (with foil) to avoid burning when they have toasted.

Set oven to warm at 325 degrees

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I start by grating 7 ounces of Almond Paste and added it to the butter and white sugar. Blend until creamy.  Add eggs to the butter mixture and blend again until smooth and combined.

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In a separate bowl, add zest of the orange to your dry ingredients (flours, Salt, PB Fit Powder, and Baking Soda) whisk, and set aside.

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Add extracts.  You then grab your dry ingredients bowl and in shifts add some of the dry ingredients and then some of the milk until all ingredients are combined.  Do not over mix, as this produces a dry cake.  You can then fold in the optional ingredients if desired.

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I use a large pound cake pan, but you can even use a cake pan and make two layers with the cake batter.  No rules here because I can imagine making a custard/pudding that would be divine with this cake.  You bake the cake for 60 minutes and if it starts to brown too much on top, cover with foil.  At the 1 hour mark, raise the temperature to 350 degrees and bake until done.  Cool for 5 minutes and then flip the cake on to a wire rack to cool an additional 1 to 2 hours before slicing.

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This cake is like a Panettone in flavor but with a heavier texture to resemble a pound cake, which has a crumb that can withstand more than the airiness you get from a Panettone batter.  You bake it slow to allow the flavors to build, the butter to brown, and to yield a moist pound cake.  Enjoy!

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Verdict:

So, it’s a product with the name PB fit and I made cake (I know)!  Well, I’m a girl that thinks even fit focused products can create magic with what is seen as naughty.  They talk about clean eating, well I think that applies to baking too.  Alienating a product because it carries the word “fit” would just be silly and the BetterBody food company is about making products better for the consumer, and I always say when you use top quality ingredients, you can never go wrong and this cake proves it!  It’s a little of naughty and nice to go with the holiday season.  The holidays are about experiencing flavors from pumpkin to dark chocolates, and peanut butter is no longer seen as just the “poor man’s nut”.  Many companies make exceptional peanut butters that are even considered gourmet creations.  BetterBody Foods, allows the consumer to take a known product that is just not like any peanut butter I ever tasted.  There is that cleaner taste that is more intense and closer to the nut’s true flavor because of the simple process they use that equates to just less processing in the first place!  I can make the powder into a butter by adding water, so don’t think your sandwiches are in jeopardy.  I can’t wait to make a peanut butter cookie because this is the product I have been waiting for!  On Halloween, I added the PB Fit Chocolate powder to crispy rice (cereal) treats and they were different and gone before the evening was over.  It was one of those moments where I was about to add peanut butter and thought I already add mini chocolate chips to the top of the treats when they are cooling, so why not add the powder to the marshmallow and butter mix.  It took just 4 tablespoons to create a flavor that made my treats vanish, and any cook and baker loves that!

Connect with BetterBody Foods and get your PB Fit fix at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from PB Fit and Tryazon.  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.

Dr. Bronner’s: Organic Baby Unscented Pure-Castle Liquid Soap, Bar of Soap and Sanitizer #Review #DrBronner

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Going green or trying to simplify your beauty and hygiene routine is something we all should consider. Why? I never knew how many toxins and irritants were in beauty products until I experienced a negative reaction and unfortunately, it takes that for some us to take notice. I now adhere by the 80/20 ideology when it comes to my beauty routine. Eighty percent of products that are natural and nice to my skin and body, and twenty percent of the naughty stuff. So, my mascara and eyeliner fit in the latter category, but I have even cleaned up my nail polishes and face washes. My skin actually appreciates me being nicer to it!

I have used the Dr. Bronner’s soap collections before but not in this formulation. I was sent a nice array of products from Dr. Bronner’s:

I love the smell of clean and this means just the freshness, minus the chemical storm I use to create. The parcel from Dr. Bronner’s had a glorious scent that was clean and just in an instant made me feel relaxed and tranquil…..and I’m high strong! I blame the lavender for trying to subdue me in the middle of the afternoon, but I enjoyed every second of emptying out that box!

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Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 liquid soaps are hemp derived and I’m already on the hemp bandwagon when it comes to beauty products and solutions. I use a lip balm that saved my forever chapped lips and the miracle ingredient was simply hemp. The soaps are not only friendly to you but also the environment because they are 100% biodegradable. The Baby Unscented Pure-Castle soap is also Organic, Non-GMO certified and to add to the goodness list, Fair Trade Certified.

Ingredients (as listed on the website)-
Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Palm Kernel Oil*, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol.  *CERTIFIED FAIR TRADE INGREDIENTS
** None remains after saponifying oils into soap & glycerin

Retail Price Point: $15.29 Special Price for the 32 ounce bottle on the website. $4.49 for for the 4 ounce bottle.  Via Amazon, the 32 ounce bottle is $16.89 and free shipping for Prime members.

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Verdict:
Everything is great on the outside but does the Baby Unscented Pure Castle liquid soap deliver? Yes!!!! A little goes a long way and the soap cleans but does not strip away your skin’s moisture. It actually enhances it because the product contains Olive oil and Coconut oil……two of my favorite oils that are inexpensive but packed with nutrients. The soap is unscented but we all still pick up a smell from such products and this just smells nice and clean. Think of how freshness and a clean spring morning smells and this little bottle captured it. I have caught myself giving in to a few extra sniffs when using it. The liquid soap also has many applications beyond a face and body wash. I have used the soap for:

  • Washing Fruit and Vegetables
  • Giving the Dog a bath and especially after her surgery where she has an incision on her belly
  • Washing bird baths and because it’s gentle and kind to the surrounding, don’t mistaken that for lack of cleaning power.
  • Washing down the feeders where the squirrels and raccoon come to dine.
  • To even treating my roses for aphids because there is no way I would spray 40 rose bushes if I did not trust the brand.

The uses are endless and I feel safe and comfortable using the soap, so that makes me a big fan of Dr. Bronner’s products. I saw the big bottle being sold at Costco and I definitely have already picked up two and you can easily find where you can purchase their wonderful products here.

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Now, for the Lavender Sanitizer. Thank you for making a sanitizer that does not dehydrate my skin or nails. I have been experiencing dryness in excess from over use and because I try not to apply lotion to my hands when I’m out shopping (don’t want dirt and grime to have a welcoming surface), my hands have gone a dusty white in color from the over dryness. Yeah, the dryness that makes even closing your hands hurt but after using only Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Sanitizer spray, all that is gone. I finally found a formula of sanitizer that is kind to me but unkind to germs!

Ingredients (as listed on the website)-
Organic Fair Trade Ethyl Alcohol (62%)*, Water, Organic Glycerin, Organic Lavender Oil *CERTIFIED FAIR TRADE INGREDIENTS

Retail Price Point: $4.99 for a 2 ounce spay bottle.

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Last but not least, the Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castle Bar of Soap in Lavender scent. Let me just rename this my make-up brush cleaner. I simply shave a piece off and added it to a candle votive holder made of glass. The holder allows for easy cleaning of my brushes because I can make little circles while the soap foams and the cosmetic residue, and whatever else stuck on there, just washes off. I simply then rinse the brushes and allow them to air dry before storing. My brushes both natural and synthetic have perfect bristles that are now clean and soft. This bar will also yield many washes because it is large and the lavender scent is calming…..something a girl desires when applying make-up!

Ingredients (as listed on the website)- Organic Coconut Oil*, Organic Palm Oil*, Sodium Hydroxide**, Water, Organic Olive Oil*, Lavandin Extract, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Lavender Extract, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Tocopherol *CERTIFIED FAIR TRADE INGREDIENTS
** None remains after saponifying oils into soap & glycerin.

Retail Price Point: $4.69 for a 5 ounce bar.

I highly recommend trying anything from the Dr. Bronner’s line of products because I am confident you will be satisfied as I am with their products.  I actually plan to try one product in each line due to how well the items I received performed.  The products may be simple in what makes them but not simple when it comes to cleaning!

Connect with Dr. Bronner and their line of products at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Dr. Bronner.  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.

 

 

 

Modern Table: Bean Pastas and Meal Kits #Review #ModernTableMeals

 

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Modern Table has been a guest on my blog before and it’s one of those products I tried and still continue to purchase today. We all eat them both in cold and warm dishes because it’s a great alternative to pasta that I really don’t see it as just a substitute. The noodles have flavor because they are bean based. I admit there are even times I make a pasta salad and add the Modern Table noodles along with semolina flour based pasta! Yes, that is how good they are.

I was sent another sampling of the newest products released by Modern Table:

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I have at times deconstructed the meal kits to just get to the bean pasta, so this was a welcoming site. Finally, the pasta alone will be sold. There is a lot of benefits when it comes to Modern Table’s meal kits and bean pastas. For starters:

  • Modern Table does not use GMO based ingredients (non-gmo)
  • Their products are Gluten Free (except for the Teriyaki Meal kit)
  • Dairy Free (Southwest and Teriyaki Meal kits, plus the Bean Pastas)
  • Vegetarian Friendly
  • Packing a protein punch like no other pasta because they are bean based, so you also have an excellent source of fiber.
  • No artificial colors or preservatives
  • This is real food with no gimmicks!

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Verdict-
Taste means everything in this home because I don’t believe eating healthy means you should sacrifice flavor. It’s actually the opposite! Fresh meals that provide a good source of protein and vegetables should be packed with flavor and enjoyable to consume. Modern Table shares this same theory because we find their products amazing. You are also not limited! You can add fresh vegetables to even meats to the meals and customize them to fit your needs and/or cravings. I have over time learned to not boil the pasta as long as listed in the directions because we prefer a more al dente’ texture. The bean pastas lend themselves to many creations. Many times I have been in a hurry and need a filling meal that is also quick to make. I add a handful of the pasta to a roasted Red Bell pepper and Tomato soap and it creates one delicious meal in less than 12 minutes. I think it takes me more time to make the accompanying sides like toasting a slice of bread for dunking. There are times where I want a Pasta Primavera and use everything from eggplants, frozen organic veggies, to kale to bump up the flavors and I’m also a veggie junkie.

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The possibilities are endless with Modern Table and their new bean pasta bags mean I can just pour from the bag versus picking the pasta out from the kits. The Pesto meal kit goes great with grilled shrimp.  The new Mac & Cheese meal kit is my ultimate favorite from the meal kits. It’s cheesy and has real white cheddar…….it just takes Mac & Cheese to whole another level! I added pancetta to mine and I don’t think I can go back to Mac from a box again.

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Find the Modern Table Kit that fits your Cravings or Pick-up a Bean Pasta Bag at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Modern Table Meals.  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.

Feel Good Foods: Gluten Free Pork Dumplings #Review #FeelGoodFoods

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At my house, we no longer eat out or order in when it comes to Asian cuisine. We were never happy in the end with the amount of protein the dishes delivered, the amount of sodium and the feeling after we ate such meals. Vegetables were usually overcooked from sitting under a heat lamp and I noticed my Husband was always picking out what he liked and disliked, to the point he always had a mountain of mushy vegetables along the side of his plate from things that did not pass the cut (to be eaten). So, I started cooking it myself. I do though appreciate help and even though I am picky about what I purchase from the freezer aisle, I can say that Feel Good Foods was a welcoming sight and taste.

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I was sent several coupons and visited my local Sprout’s Farmers Market. I went with an idea from what Feel Good Foods carried by visiting their website, but it was amazing in the amount of dishes, meals and sides they make. The company has a plethora of items that I had a list longer than the amount of coupons I had. I get to the store and I tell myself just get one item. Try them out and see what happens.

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I pick the Pork dumplings and even though no one thankfully suffers from celiac disease, there are times I just want a gluten free meal like other times I pick no meat to no corn days. Our bodies (well at least mine) needs a break when it comes to what I eat. I don’t want corn in any form in my system on a daily basis and there are days I want a gluten free meal. It changes what I put in my body and it’s welcoming to my taste buds. Labor Day was approaching and we always barbecued outside but this year I wanted something low key and different, so I opted to make it an Asian night. I made everything from Orange chicken, Korean-style BBQ ribs, Shrimp Japanese-style fried rice, Vegetable Lo-Mein to Ponzu Lime Fish. I always love the dumplings and sides but I honestly don’t always have the time to make them homemade but that should be no reason on why I should skip on flavor or real ingredients. Feel Good Foods uses simple ingredients and made from real stuff. No funny fillers and ingredients that come from a lab.

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Cooking- I have 4 burners going at the same time on a 5-burner stove. One was a grill for the short ribs, so that meant my 5th burner was not accessible. I never like to try products from the get-go in the microwave, so I went with the method I came up for times like this, when I have more pots going than burners available. I take the dumplings out and they are a nice size and a decent weight. That surprised me because I am use to the type that really are more wrap than filling. Feel Good Foods does not play that game and they are beautifully sealed too. I placed them on parchment paper and while I prepped the other food, they defrosted for 10 minutes. I use a baster brush and give the dumplings a thin coating of oil (a mix of peanut and toasted sesame oil). I literally use my hand and gather a few droplets of water from the sink’s faucet and let them drop onto the pan, cover with foil and cooked them at 400 degrees. I cooked them for 15 minutes, with the last 5 to 7 minutes uncovered. I get the best of both worlds, the softness and moistness on the inside from a steamed dumpling and the crisp on the outside from a pan fried one. You don’t even have to over brown them because they will be crisp without looking brown. Easy and problem free cooking, for those days I have more going on than usual.

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Verdict-
I serve our meals and noticed I went crazy with the sides but I tell myself this is what we would get at a buffet, share, and always end up eating a little bit of everything. I even made a Jasmine vegetable rice to add to the mix at the last minute, just in case no one felt like hijiki seaweed and wanted a less crispy rice texture. I serve the dumplings and the sauce and everything smells great. We dig in and of course I always tell my Husband to go easy with the Sriracha but noticed I’m too late because not only has his Lo-Mein noodles picked up a red hue, but he has a spoonful on top of the Sriracha garlic paste (too late!). We all continue eating and he asks me about the new sauce. This is the sauce that came with the dumplings. It’s good and not salty, simple but better than plain soy sauce. It’s a welcoming flavor that takes nothing away from the dumplings. Now, the Pork dumplings are plain awesome! Full of pork and the wrap is thin, so you taste the filling and not just the dough. You first taste ginger and this is the real stuff…..none of that powder and they are the best frozen I have bought. I love(d) the Trader Joe’s ones but I have to honest, I would buy the pork and the chicken bags and could never tell, which was which. The flavors just blended and sometimes the wrap was so thick, that the crimped top of the dumpling would not cook right. The Feel Good Foods dumplings were filling and I ate just 2 of them and was very satisfied. I actually wish I served myself 1 more! I cooked the dumplings along side of the Pork Shu Mai dumplings and the Feel Good Foods dumplings had more meat and the filling was not mush. You could see the strands of what made the filling and even though they come frozen, that did not effect the texture of the dumpling. Easy to make and they taste wonderful and I have purchased pretty much every dumpling out there from the Costco Roadshows (featured) brands to the common ones found at the local market. Nothing comes close to Feel Good Foods and the nice part, we just felt satisfied with our meal and no bad after effects from things like MSG or too much sodium. The way meals should be!

I can’t wait to go shopping next week and I will be picking up a new item from Feel Good Foods every 3 weeks and sharing my experience. The company was generous with their coupons, plus they have so much to offer!  You just have to check-out all they have because it’s overwhelming but in a good way 🙂 This is a company that cares about using non-GMO ingredients and where they source their foods from, plus they believe in all natural products and best of all, they see no reason why frozen should not look and taste good.  I never knew gluten-free could taste this good!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Feel Good Foods.  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.

 

Nutriva’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

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I’ve been singing the praises of coconut oil for a few years now. I use it on my skin, my hair, and my eyelids, especially after taking off my makeup. I also use it in cooking and baking, and it’s kind of become my go-to oil for almost everything. And when I was offered a couple of cookbooks and a jar of this wunder-oil from Nutriva to review, I was over the moon at opportunity.

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Not all oils are created equal and this Nutriva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil takes the coconut experience to whole another level. Nutriva is the #1 selling coconut oil in the US for over 10 years, and it’s not hard to see why. USDA organic, non-GMO, kosher, non-hydrogenated, and no cholesterol, it’s made from freshly made from cold-pressed coconuts, with a light and pleasant coconut taste and aroma that is clean and pure tasting. I baked delicious cookies that were moist in the inside and crisp on the outside and the pineapple chunks just gave them that tropical burst I was looking for. Nutiva makes everything you can get out of a coconut from flours, sugars, oils to you got to check out what an “o’ coconut” is! Nutriva also carries hemp, chia and red palm derived products, but my favorite is, easily, their Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. I got lost on their site just checking out everything they make! You can use it to pan fry and saute too, because it has a high smoke point to boot. And, OMG, it makes the best popcorn ever.

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But the benefits don’t stop there. There’s an entire cottage industry springing up around coconut oil, and for good reason. Nutriva’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil has kept my hair and skin healthy, and hydrated without all the harsh, nasty chemicals found in most mass-marketed moisturizers. And, ounce for ounce, it’s also an incredible value. Just a little bit goes a long way, and after a full day of eyeshadow over primer, nothing feels better on tired lids than a smidge of Nutiva’s coconut oil. Especially since the horrible reaction I had to the reformulated Urban Decay products, my eyelids have never been the same, but Nutriva’s coconut oil has helped…a lot. I put it on a scar from a recent surgery and watched the angry pink and purple boo-boo turn into a minimally noticeable line on my leg. The only thing I worry about with coconut oil anymore, is, figuratively speaking, oversaturation. The health benefits and dietary pluses have been so oversold and overstated that I’m worried it’ll go back to a niche oil that’s difficult and expensive to find. Thankfully, for now, it’s affordable, shelf stable, pretty versatile and relatively affordable in all it’s forms. I definitely recommend that if you haven’t, you immediately give Nutriva’s Organic Coconut oil a try.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge for the purposes of review.  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.

 

 

SAPO: Organic Bamboo Charcoal Bar Soap #Review #SapoSoap

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Beauty facial washes and soaps are a plenty, but most that are suppose to help with problem skin, end up containing fragrances and ingredients that cause build-up versus clearing up! I have 3 brands of soaps that I have ever found that deliver simple ingredients that help not only at cleaning your skin, but also improving it. Sapo Soap is that third brand!

Sapo Soaps are hand-made using organic ingredients. This bar is so simple when it comes to the ingredients:

Activated Bamboo Charcoal, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Shea Butter, Sea Salt, Oatmeal Powder, and Grapefruit Essential Oil.

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The soap has a light lather but foams up enough to clean and safely clean the surface of your skin. The scent is just like sniffing a ruby red grapefruit with an earthy scent lingering in the background. Very welcoming and a perfect way to start and end my day when it comes to how it smells. Many charcoal and bamboo based products have a pungent scent that reminds me of clay and even mushrooms at times but this soap had none of that.

Retail Price Point: $10.99 and free shipping is available with Amazon Prime. The retailer also offers a 100% Guarantee when it comes to satisfaction with the product. I also noticed they offer a “VOLUME DISCOUNT” where you buy 2 and get $4.99 OFF ($8.49 each).

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Verdict:
I used the soap for 2 weeks and was very happy with how well it cleaned because many oil based soaps tend to leave a film or give your skin that feels like you never washed it. Sapo’s soap did none of that. My skin remained hydrated and even though the soap’s price point may seem higher than others, the bar did not shrink much after use. I allowed it to air dry and used it by the sink, as I find this method versus leaving it in the shower in a soap box, works better. The soap dries quickly and keeps it’s shape nicely, plus this bar is larger than my Ivory bar. Sapo Soaps is made in the USA and when it came to performance, it delivered the same results as my tree oil based soap bar, which costs close to the same price and is smaller in size/weight. My previous bar kept my skin nice and clean but I found it would dissolve and shrink quickly. Yes, it lasted me a month’s time but Sapo’s Soap at this size and dissolving rate will last me longer. That alone with the results makes it a must buy for me. I love the convenience of a bar lasting longer and who doesn’t love clear skin? You can use this on your back and chest, and especially when sunscreen tends to clog my pores but Sapo makes up for it!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Sapo Soap.  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.

 

Gourmet Living: Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Review #IGPInitialPromo #GourmetLivingBalsamic

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Some things are beautiful and I always admire a gorgeous looking bottle. Presentation matters and especially when purchasing a product that retails higher than it’s counterparts but that is if you look at vinegar as plainly an acid, disregarding origin, grape used in production, to aging. This can get blurred and sometimes on purpose by the manufacture. We all want what we pay for and that is something I was critical of when I had the opportunity to review Gourmet Living’s Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. I love Balsamic and use it almost on a daily basis in it’s “raw form” or to enhance the taste of sauces to meats. Nothing tastes like it and it may look like wine but a good tasting Balsamic will make you forget about wine all together.

When I received the parcel from Gourmet Living, the box was beautiful with gold colored foil highlights and it almost felt like suede when touched. I open it and I see a beautiful red wax seal on top, and the bottle is as noteworthy as the rest. Every detail has been thought of but in the end I seek what is inside the bottle. Does the vinegar have a pleasant taste and will it play well with the others, meaning I don’t want an acidic pungent base that overpowers all the other flavor notes and even the smallest drop makes me just taste vinegar.

I figured the best test was trying it as-is and making a simple at home Vinaigrette. I never buy dressings and just make my own because as much as I want the dressing in the bottle to last, everything a manufacture adds to make it long living also makes it poor tasting. I save money and fridge space, plus I can adjust my dressings by the meals I am serving that day. A Vinaigrette made at home will always be friendly to a waist-line too.

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Retail Price Point: $36.95 for a 8.5 fluid ounce bottle via Amazon

You will look and notice years and size of bottles fluctuate drastically when it comes to Balsamic. I thought the more the ounces combined with greater years, makes the price tag higher, but that did not remain factual. Some expensive brands had poor ratings along with the low quantity of ounces they gave. I get it that aging takes storing, time and care. This is not even what it takes to make the initial fluid in the first place. Boiling a product down reduces the quantity and intensifies the flavor but it depends on the cook and the “starter product”, if even the final product will be worthy. Balsamic may look thick and smell sometimes strong but it delivers sweet notes when done well. As it ages the flavor matures and the wood that is used for storage will also affect the vinegar. The Balsamic from Gourmet Living also has an IGP certification that has certain criteria that must be met for a bottle to pass and reach the seal. Think of it like a diamond and how certain outside agencies will only certify if certain standards are met, down to origin of the stone. The vinegar from Gourmet Living is from Modena and had the proper labeling I have seen with products of this kind, so they passed the visual test and now to how it tastes.

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Taste Test:
I made my dressing and I always taste before adding salt. The Balsamic had a pleasant sweet taste without bitter after notes. You could pick up what the wood had added a distinct flavor to the vinegar, and it just intensifies that aroma you get when using the product and tasting it. I actually found this vinegar very pleasant and for the price, it was a fair price point. I have only been able to get a better price point at Whole Foods on 2 bottles that were being cleared out and that was a once in a lifetime opportunity. A bottle of Balsamic lasts because you use a small amount. Think of when you use demi glace and how a little goes a long way. The same applies here and that makes it a worthy purchase in my book!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Gourmet Living.  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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