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



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.




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






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.


New Orleans Famous Praline Company: Classic Pralines #Review #PralineInLove

New Orleans Famous Praline - Box of 8 Original Pralinettes

We have always loved anything that is “New Orleans” related from the food to the decor, we have enjoyed it. There is a reason why New Orleans Square at Disneyland was our favorite place to hang out when we had the park’s passports. I make everything at home trying to mimic and bring back that piece of memory from making Beignets, Gumbo, to even Red Beans and Rice with Andouille at home. Most things I can make and hit the mark but the one thing I can’t imitate, is those pralines! You can imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to review them.


The New Orleans Famous Praline Company has been sharing their delicious clusters with us since 1996. Calling them a candy is just too simple. Candy to me is a piece of gum drop, to a sour patch straw. It’s just not enough of a justifiable name to what really is a treat all of it’s own. This is a delicacy that you make it right or wrong, no middle ground here. The N.O.F.P Company (as I call them), offers you 3 different types of Pralines to choose from:

  • The Original “Classic” Praline
  • The Creamy Praline and
  • The Chocolate Praline

Three things done right means you can get away with a short selection but do not discount them!



I received the box and let me tell you when I opened it, it smelled like the store at Disneyland. That store that stocks all the items you can’t find anywhere that originate from New Orleans. My goodness, did I spend my pay check at that store! It was such a joyful scent of sweetness and butter, with a hint of nuts. New Orleans Famous Praline Company packs a gorgeous little box that even serves as a souvenir itself because it’s that adorable. The box’s image is a drawing of a the shoreline. You see the city and the ships, plus the colors give it that vintage feel; very much like the century old recipe the company uses to produce these beauties. The company only uses real quality ingredients that is why these differ from the rest. Each praline is lovingly sealed in it’s own wrapper, so you have guaranteed freshness and let me get started on how they taste. You have the pecans that are chopped into pieces and floating in a buttery and sugary filling that almost resembles the inside of a pecan pie. The confection is crumbly but not dry or hard, it literally melts in your mouth. Not grainy at all but smooth and it has that classical cluster texture where it’s creamy but not gooey. Just perfectly blended and the proper thickness too. Enjoyable to the last bite and I first devoured this praline as is, but then crumbled some on ice cream (Southern Pecan of course) and it just made that bowl of ice cream pure happiness! These are a must and especially from a company that takes care and pride in what they produce. I hope in the future to taste their other creations, the creamy and the chocolate pralines!


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I received the above product(s) free of charge from New Orleans Famous Praline Company. 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.

Top Mates Aussie Finishing Sauces


We do a fair amount of grilling around here, especially since the weather tends to lend it self to extended outdoor times. And while our usual standby’s are always top-notch, one never wants to end up in a rut. When I got a chance to try Top Mates’ Aussie Finishing Sauces, I said you betcha!



A finishing sauce is a thing that can make a mediocre cut of meat into a masterpiece. Different from a marinade or grilling sauce, it’s best to use them right at the end of cooking to not burn them, and be a “top-note” flavor that compliments the dish as opposed to really permeating it. The good ones are like magic, and Top Mates makes some of the best I’ve ever tried. We got to try our choice of two flavors, and I chose Caramelized Garlic and Onion and Shiraz. And the are both 100% awesome. The Caramelized Garlic flavor right away knocks down your expectations by being at once herby, tangy, and rich. Want simple, easy-to-pronounce ingredients? How about this: Sugar, Garlic, Lemon Juice, Onion, Water, Olive Oil, Sundried Tomatoes, Canola Oil, Lemon Peel, Pectin, Spices, Salt, Citric Acid.That’s it. No science experiments, just real stuff, real food, real good. We used it to top a freshly grilled tri-tip roast, by brushing it on the top and closing the lid for about 5 minutes on a Weber Kettle. After that, we let it rest for another 7 minutes and sliced to serve with a little more sauce on top, and the compliments we got we stellar. The Onion and Shiraz  (Ingredient list: Red Onion, Sugar, Onion, Shiraz Wine, Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Port Wine, Pectin, Green Peppercorns, Mushrooms, Balsamic Vinegar, Salt, Spices. So simple!!) went on top of a grilled leg of lamb in place of our usual pomegranate reduction. With just the right amount of sweet with a rich, bold onion finish, this made our usual lamb a mouth-watering masterpiece. I can’t wait to mix it up and try these sauces on other foods. I’ve been told they pair well with cheeses on an appetizer platter, but so far, as a finishing sauce, we haven’t messed with perfection. I want to try every flavor!


Made from top-quality ingredients and easily paired with a variety of dishes, a little of these sauces go a very long way, because they are just packed chock-a-block full of flavor! Available directly from Top Mates shipped for free or even on Amazon (Free shipping for a limited time!), and only $11.99 per 10.2 ounce jar, I can see myself picking up the entire line and taking all our usual dishes from familiar to “Yowza!”. Top Mates even has a special running where you can mix and match two jars of their amazing finishing sauces, shipped to your door, for only $19.99. There’s literally no excuse to not give them a try. And Top Mates believes in their product so much, they offer a 30-day 100% satisfaction guarantee. Not to worry, I’m satisfied!


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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Top Mates. 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® Imported Cask Aged Balsamic Vinegar Paired with Caramelized Onion #Review #BertolliSauceParty


I usually make our sauces from scratch and especially when the heirloom tomatoes start hitting the markets, with the quality and season being at it’s peak. I enjoy incorporating everything from a bell pepper medley to a combination of different onions. I make several jars worth and then have the freedom to create different meals and additions like ground lamb to pork. Then time gets in the way and especially during the “bottom months” where holidays start coming and I’m trying to make every comfort food we have been waiting to enjoy and sometimes you get that simple request of spaghetti and meatballs. I open the fridge and then memory strikes…..I used our last jar I made last time and now have none! So, I always purchase emergency back-ups and this means a jar or two of previously made sauces. I already feel bad when I let time get the best of me, but I don’t want to add by feeling bad about what I am serving at dinner time. So, I pick wisely and have found a few brands that I can depend on.


Bertolli makes everything from sauces, olive oils, vinegars to frozen meals. They are a company that has been around family tables for over 150 years. Their sauces range from organic, white bases to their newer variety called Riserva. The Riserva brand is a rename of the Imported line “Gold Label”, you previously saw with the colored “old-style” font. Even the flavors are identical, so thankfully Bertolli did not discontinue the “Gold Label” line. I was able to pick-up a glass jar of the bottles, with the older version label, at my local Von’s.

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What I look for when purchasing a jarred sauce is simple ingredients like I would use when making it from scratch and also variety. I want something away from the norm, so I look for blends with wines or vegetables that we don’t commonly consume. I want also a sauce that does not need to be “fixed” to be enjoyed. I’m not going to dedicate 20 minutes to get a sauce to taste right when I could allot the same time to one made from scratch. So, the first thing I do is take a label apart when it comes to ingredients and thankfully the sauces by Bertolli contain what the label in the front states. The Balsamic vinegar is there as is the caramelized onions. Tomatoes in all forms from puree, diced and even in juice form are listed. To intensify the tangy notes, grape must was added and mostly you have real ingredients in this sauce. My only pause was to caramel coloring even though I know manufactures add it to enhance the look of the sauce since it may not look too pleasing in the jar without it, but I could have done with out it. I hope when Bertolli changed the label, they dropped the coloring off the list too.

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The Balsamic Vinegar and Caramelized onions by Bertolli advertises a nice balance in flavor where the sweetness from the caramelized onions goes very well with the tang you get from the vinegar. No bitter notes or after taste, and the sauce has a rich texture and taste. Very enjoyable and not a jar that needs additions to correct it, but you can always add a protein from chicken and beef to enhance it. Upon opening the jar, I expected to smell a wine like scent  from the vinegar, as I do when I add Balsamic to my marinara sauces. I unfortunately did not. I taste the sauce and it’s ultra sweet, like way too much sugar. It’s not the sugars I’m use to even when I have used sweet onion varieties like Cipollini onions. Even Shallots when caramelized never give off this much sugar and then I notice actual sugar noted in the list of ingredients BEFORE garlic and spice. Okay, so I start thinking what can I make with this and it hit’s me……a dip. This way the sauce stays unaltered and I make Mozzarella sticks from scratch. Everyone can then enjoy the sauce as it is and I can curb the sweet factor by the spices I add to the breaded cheese. Simple to make and also quick, plus batches can be kept warm in the oven while I make more.  This is unfortunately not a sauce I would buy again.  I will try this version again under the Riserva label if the ingredients differ.  So, far the only change I can tell is that the new label does not state “Imported” on it.  Unfortunately, Bertolli does not list the ingredients of their sauces on the site, just the nutritional facts, so I wan unable to compare beforehand.  My Mozz sticks are always a hit but I did ask for feedback on the sauce and thankfully received some honest remarks.  It’s sweet was the chief complaint and maybe this was a batch where the sugar over-spilled, but I was left with dip and this is uncommon at my house where I witness guests usually use even bread to clean a plate.  I feel that without the overpowering sweetness, this sauce could actually be good and enjoyed.  The warming of the sauce intensifies the sugar and when tasted cold, the sugars mellow out a bit.  Maybe adding a little to a pasta salad would help.


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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.

Pure Natural Miracles’ 100% Organic Raw Cacao Nibs

ScreenHunter_06 Sep. 10 14.34

I’m a fan of cacao, and have been for some time. I’ve cooked and baked with it and never had a bad thing to say about it. But until recently I never got to try raw cacao nibs, straight up. And now that I have, I’m a fan, in a big way. Pure Natural Miracles sent me a bag to try and review, and I’m delighted they did and opened my world to something new and delightful. Their marketing tactics and high-pressure approach to reviewers I’m not as big a fan of, but I won’t let that stop me from enjoying the product.


Cacao nibs are like a mild espresso bean, full of tangy, almost bitter notes. Like a baking chocolate, it’s bereft of sugar in any form, but crunchy like a grain, or granola. You get a full, rich chocolate flavor, but no sugar, or processing, or roasting, basically anything that strips away the flavors and health benefits, like antioxidants and trace minerals that are essential to any healthy diet, plus their high in dietary fiber. These Pure Natural Miracle nibs are made from 100% pure Organic Peruvian Criollo cacao and are raw (not fermented or roasted), organic, vegan, and naturally gluten free, so they can be easily worked into any diet or diet plan. They went great with my morning “scatter”, usually some cereal and nuts, along with chia seeds, flax meal, goji berries and Greek yogurt. And while I noticed nothing out of the ordinary as far as energy, or alertness, I also saw no ill effects from consuming them daily for weeks. It was like a morning cup of coffee with my breakfast, but no caffeine dump later. They also went great sprinkled over some vanilla bean ice cream, or just a small handful on their own.


What I’m less a fan of is, as a reviewer, I make certain promises to the companies I choose to work with. And I expect them to understand that I have many, many companies I work with every day, some regularly for years. Things get reviewed as they come in, in the order received, unless we’ve made special arrangements beforehand for an accelerated or delayed time frame. And I never, ever, let a company put words in my mouth. For good or for ill, my opinions are my own and I will not use a companies “suggested” dialog for my reviews. Whether it was Larviks Investment Group as a proxy or Pure Natural Miracles, I got the hard sell almost from jump. I didn’t appreciate the way they went about this promotion with me, and while I like the product immensely, I can only hope that they’re not the same way with regular customers.


So in the end it’s a great product that I recommend highly and hope that give them a try. If you like coffee, or chocolate, or chocolate coffee (*drools*), then these are right up your alley.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Pure Natural Miracles.  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


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.


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.


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.



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