The ALL NEW Farm Fresh To You: A Fruit and Vegetable Subscription Box Service #FarmFreshToYou #Review and #Recipe

Farm Fresh

Farm Fresh To You, is not my usual subscription box that is filled with beauty related products but in some ways this one is too. Think of this Organic box as a Veggie and Fruit delight filled with food that will definitely aid in not only wellness, health, but beautifying you from the inside out. Let’s not even overlook that I absolutely love vegetables and fruit. I get excited and I’m one of those people that says, “look at that ___________, it’s gorgeous and I then start filling a produce bag like it’s going to sell out that second. ¬†I try to purchase Organic when possible, as long as the produce looks good, is not overly priced and easy accessible. I hunt everywhere and most times lose track of how big the fridge is when I’m stuffing Lacinato Kale bundles in the dairy case. I’m not a juicer and truly just love how vegetables and fruit taste like. I will purchase the unknown produce item, google it in the car, and then have plans for what I’m going to make by the time I get home. I’m a believer of not, “knocking it until you try it”, and this is when I was so fortunate in being able to try Organic produce delivered to my home by Farm Fresh To You.

This is how the Service Works:

You have boxes that fit your cooking, eating to family size to choose from. Don’t like a vegetable or fruit offering? You simply can exchange the product for another by using the allotment (amount you are spending on the box of your choice) to replace that selection. Simple! Some items are harvested in limited numbers, so I did find a few items I could not add more of but sharing is something I do well and I like that customization is available and user friendly when ordering.

You can order from the Boxes below and this is with delivery included pricing:

  • Mixed Fruit & Veggie Boxes– that range from $26 for the Small (1-2 people) to the Monster Box (6+ people) for $58.00
  • Traditional CSA Boxes– is for produce that only comes from their own farm and neighboring partner farms. You can pick a Regular Box (2-4 people) for $33 or the More Box (4-6 people) for $46.00
  • No Cooking Boxes– Options that fit the busy person and have items that are easily made or quick to grab and eat while on the go. A Small Box (1-2 people) is $26 and you have Regular Box (2-4 people) for $33 and the More Box for (4-6 people) for $46.00
  • Fruit Only– 100% fruit and you have a Small for $26, Regular for $33 and More for $46.00
  • Veggie Only Boxes– If you are Pro-Veggies 100%, you can opt for this selection. This one has two choices, the Regular Box (2-4 people) and the More (4-6 people) for $46.00
  • Organic Snack Pack– Like I said, no excuses and this service gives you the option for healthier and better tasting packs that range from $35 for the Mini and serves 5 office people, to the Large for $110 and serves 30 people.

Each area has a delivery day, so it depends which zone you fall in on what day of the week they deliver. Mine was Friday but the best part, they deliver between the hours of 8PM on Thursday and 8AM on Friday. Yup, you wake up to surprises and what a great way to end a week. You can even prep meals on the weekend to eat better and tastier next week. You can also add other items like fresh eggs, local honeys to nuts and other treats.

What did I Order:
Okay, I have to start by saying that it’s just my Husband and I (and a dog) and we eat fresh as much as possible. I rarely open a can in this house and it’s usually to do a shortcut meal when using beans or roasted tomatoes. I love to cook and I love to change my weekly meals, so eating fresh fits us nicely and it’s just hard to get off it once you eat everything with texture and flavors intact. With that said, I went for the Monster Box from the Mixed and Veggie selection. I then again have one of those moments where the pictures get the best of me and I added more to my box. I ended up with a total of $59.35 and the box retails for $58, but I got what I wanted. I did change my selection like lowering the count of Gala apples from 10 to zero and adding Honeycrisp, plus changing items so I could add Purple Bell Peppers and so on.

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When it Arrived:
I am not ashamed but I pretended I was catching up on my DVR when I was really just stalking my door. Farm Fresh To You delivered at 1:16 AM and not even a dog barked. The delivery person kindly placed two brown colored boxes by our gate and they were cold to the touch. The employees wear a bright colored vest and even the white truck’s engine was in “shhhhh mode”. If it was not for my “ninja at midnight” ways, I would have heard zilch.

My box was outside for 3 minutes. Hey, I had to first announce, “it’s here….it’s here, I’m not waiting for you (to my half asleep Husband) and I’m getting them”. It took energy and one minute longer to find my sandals because I was not stepping outside in my slipper socks ūüôā

  • Box #1- Bartlett Pears, Ruby Crescent Potatoes, Honeycrisp Apples, Nantes Carrots, Broccoli, Assorted Lettuce, Red Pomegranate, Gypsy Peppers, Black Grapes, and Hass Avocado

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  • Box #2- Valencia Oranges, D’ Anjou Pears, Baby Bok Choy, ¬†Celery, Lacinato Kale, Asian Pear, Mixed Medley of Cherry Tomatoes, Purple Bell Peppers, and Zucchini

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The four items I was eager to use from the boxes were the Medley of Cherry  tomatoes, the Purple Bell Peppers, the Gypsy Peppers and those adorable Ruby Crescent potatoes.

  • Rustic Sausage, Potatoes and Vegetables

Rustic cooking for us is cooking with what we have at hand and what comes to mind. ¬†Simplicity at its best and you measure ingredients by your mood and cravings, no rules and let the flavors shine! It’s about enjoying each ingredient and not drowning it out.

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I decided to make a nice rustic dish of peppers, onions, tomatoes and sausages.  I used an Organic Chicken based sausage that was made with Sweet Basil and Roasted Garlic.  The sausage is pre-cooked but frozen.  I cut the larger potatoes in half and left the smaller ones as-is.  Added roughly chopped Green and Red Bell peppers, white onion, Italian Cubanelle Pepper and few garlic cloves.  I tossed everything with Olive Oil, salted, added dry tarragon, blacked cracked pepper, and dry lavender.  I cooked covered on the roasting setting (425 degrees) for 20 minutes.  This is to allow the potatoes to get a head start cooking and my frozen sausage to defrost.

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After 20 minutes have lapsed, simply add the softer and more delicate peppers, like the Gypsy and Purple ones, plus the tomatoes and toss with melted butter and parsley.  Remove the defrosted sausages.  The butter and veggie mix gets added and mixed to the previous semi-cooked contents.  You toss and cook uncovered for 5 minutes.  Then add the sausages back.  I left the 2 chicken based ones whole and then sliced a (pre-cooked) pork Italian one to give the dish that added flavor.  Cook another 25 to 30 minutes uncovered, or until potatoes are tender. Two minutes before taking the dish out, I tossed the fresh Rosemary t0 give the dish a slight hint of flavor and aroma from the herb.

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I then served the dish with a little cheese on top and a nice crusty loaf of bread.

This code gives you $15 off your first box!

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Farm Fresh To You.  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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Luv Michael: Locally Sourced Organic Granola that Gives Back #Review #LuvMichael #LuvMichaelCo

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Being a yogurt lover sort of makes me a granola junkie. I love that crunch combined with nuts and fruits that tends to take the bore out of my geek yogurt. In other words, granola is what adds happiness to any cup of plain yogurt. As granola became more and more popular, many companies sort of got off the beaten path of just oats and sweeteners. Many add other ingredients like Chia seeds to Hemp and antioxidant rich berries like Acai to Cocoa nibs, plus your typical nut blends. Even the sweeteners have changed. Honey is no longer the only thing that bonds the clusters. I have seen from agave to rice derived sugars that really anymore we really have so many choices. Like with everything, being able to siphon out the fakers as I call them is really the only thing to watch out for.

 

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In comes Luv Michael granola, which took the approach of not only making a “cleaner” product but also took the challenge of making changes happen with the products they produce. They contribute back and not just to your taste buds. Luv Michael is a company that invests in people with Autism, just like it’s founder Michael Kessaris. They produce a gluten free product with natural derived ingredients. Foods that benefit many with autistic symptoms. Luv Michael then again took a step further and when the company started with aid from his parents, they employ from the community people with same challenges. Talk about giving back in every way possible and this is why I took interest in such a company. Many companies give back but very few really take their mission to heart like Luv Michael has. The company and it’s members went full circle in every way possible to create not only a welcoming environment for autistic adults but one where they can help contribute and distribute a product for everyone.

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Verdict:

Like I stated being a a self proclaimed granola junkie means I have tasted many combinations and overly elaborate mixes. Many have been great and others just stop being granola and more like trail mixes when you really look at the combos. Finding an original one or what I call plain variety is what is really hard to find. So many even add chocolates to their mixes that a snack turns into a dessert at one point or even an ice cream topper. My hunt for a good plain granola was starting to look murky until I found the company Luv Michael. First of all, finally a resealable package! Air is great for humans but very mean to granola. Some goes stale while other gets sticky when exposed to air for any amount of time. Mostly because of all the sugars and other non-granola ingredients making a simple thing not so simple. The granola from Luv Michael has even a cute name, Originola. Each packet is 2 ounces and masterfully done by not just chefs but Granologists. They use natural and organic ingredients and the end result is a not super sweet but plenty crunchy granola. The oat clusters are decent in size and not just what I call granola dust, when a product has been over processed or worse, those tooth breaking granola boulders. Each package contains perfectly sized chunks that you can enjoy as-is or pair it up with yogurt if you so desire. There is care in how everything is made at Luv Michael and that really is seen in the appearance of the product but more importantly, in the taste! Not super sugary but enough to add some brightness to a breakfast mix or snack. I really liked the oats used because they did not taste like they had been packaged on a shelf for months. There is freshness here and care. Luv Michael has captured what was lost and that is making one awesome plain granola mix that is rare to find anymore. A throwback to what use to be easily found before and from a girl that missed the plain original……she is very glad to count on Luv Michael to fill that knitch for her.

 

Connect with Luv Michael at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Luv Michael Company. 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. ūüôā

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Connect with SunRype at:

 

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.

Swaggable: Kala Beautiful Beans Snacks #Review #KalaBeans

 

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The new year also brings a fresh start and many of us seem to always start same, with the desire to better our¬†well being via losing weight, eating better and overall taking better care of ourselves. From what reports and the news states, we all also tend to fail and abandon the idea by the time February rolls around. I blame Santa for the Christmas chocolates he leaves behind to Valentine’s Day with all the treats to add back again that you just finished eating in January ūüôā Whatever the cause, failing is not my kind of thing and with every passing year being able to maintain a healthy weight, plus lose a little here and there, I plan to remain on the healthy eating path. My problem is boredom and always has been. I dislike eating the same thing every single day as a snack. It just makes my days blend and kills my palette! I love apples but an apple even in different varieties is just different degrees of sweetness and crunch, but still remains being an apple. I sometimes crave savory and salty snacks and yes, I could dip an apple in something like a salted caramel but then I might as well just eat a piece of cheesecake! So, my ever endless hunt for brands that keep me on track has again yielded another option for us.

 

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Kala Beautiful Beans is a new company and part of the Bush Brothers Company. Their treats come in one serving single bags or a large bag that yields about 5 servings each. At first I thought it was just foo-foo trail mixes and my hippy side admits that when I see any new trail mix or granola mix hit the market, my heart does flutter but nothing is as welcoming as seeing a new member added to the line up. Kala Beautiful Beans uses Fava Beans as their main ingredient. They are roasted and seasoned and paired up with other ingredients like Garbanzo (chickpeas) beans and dried fruits, along with spices and seasonings. Currently Kala Beans features 4 different flavors:

Pineapple Kick Medley– Roasted fava beans and orange-glazed chickpeas with pineapple, blueberries and paprika.
Cherry Trail Medley– Roasted fava beans and vanilla-glazed chickpeas with cherries, toasted coconut and dark chocolate chunks.
Simply Peppered Beans– Roasted fava beans with Himalayan salt and black pepper.
Tropical Curry Beans– Roasted fava beans with curry spice and lime juice.

You can purchase all varieties at your local Sprout’s Farmers Markets.

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Verdict:
I was unsure what to expect and the beans have a roasted peanut color and thier shape resembles a small hazelnut, but they are airy in the center. Think of a really puff corn nut but without that grainy corn feeling you get when chewing¬†one. They break down cleanly while eating¬†and taste ……..well, delicious. I don’t taste bean. Even the chickpeas, which I have had before taste……well, bean-y when eating after a while but the roasting method used by Kala Beans produces a more airy product. They then use other ingredients that are of high quality, so it enhances the snacking experience. Everything melds perfectly and best of all, the taste and flavors pop in my mouth so I am enjoying a healthy snack a lot more than I expected I would. My favorite was the Cherry Trail Medley, the coconut shavings are toasted but not powdery in the bag. You actually get nice sized shavings! ¬†Then the cherries are so good because I am first to admit that sometimes when I get dried cherries and dried cranberries in a mix, I can’t always tell the difference between them because they are dried to the point that they just taste like seedy, red fruit skin. The cherries from Kala Beans are dried but in a kindly manner where they remain plump, retain their sweetness but still hit you with a tart flavor towards the end. Kala Beans then added a vanilla glaze to the product that is sweet but non-sticky on the surface. You just get that small hint and scent of the vanilla that adds a nice warmth and compliments the fruit, beans (and I want to say nuts but there are none in it), and chocolate nicely. The dark chocolate chunks are just so good and melt nicely when eating. ¬†No waxy taste or bitterness. ¬†I actually like the Kala Beans mixes and oddly more than some of my current trail and nut based mixes. I think it comes down to the clean taste and finish, that is both satisfying and tasty. Kills the craving and I will be buying them to add to my yogurt in the morning because a girl can only granola it for so long! ¬†Plus, you have benefits like fiber from the beans and one bag is just 180 calories for the Cherry Trail Medley Mix and Pineapple one, but the other two only bump up to 200 calories for a 1.5 ounce serving. ¬†That is pretty fair and not loaded with sugars and sodium, just real food with real flavors!

Connect with Kala Beans at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Swaggable and Kala Beautiful Beans. 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.

Influenster: Slim Fast Bar, Crisps, and Shake VoxBox Review #ItsYourThing #Influenster

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Being part of the Influenster network, allows members to qualify for VoxBoxes. My latest one arrived in late December, which featured an array of Slim Fast branded products. Being the new year we all want to lose weight or at the very least get rid of that holiday poundage brought on by cookies and treats. I gained 6 pounds in the last week of December because I behaved from Thanksgiving to Christmas but once Santa came, he brought treats, candy, chocolates (I’m surprised I did not consume the stocking) and it seems I ate them all between Christmas and New Year’s Eve!

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I’m pretty good at restricting myself and believe with all the advancements in food today, that leaving food as it is, meaning less to zero processing allows us to eat pretty much anything (with portion control) and not suffer the consequences. I eat my weight in salads and I’m not even a fan of most dressings, as I think they tend to drown the freshness out of the produce as it is. I love avocados and find them to be nature’s dressing. They are creamy and never ruin a salad like a fake creamy dressing can. I have those days though where I am in a snacking mood or just running short on time, so I pick the brands I trust carefully. I look for meal replacement or snack products that are not full of fake sweeteners or loaded with sodium. Finding real ingredients is “my thing”, so let’s see how the Slim Fast VoxBox did.

The Slim Fast VoxBox included:

  • SlimFast¬ģ Advanced Ready to Drink Shake in Vanilla¬†flavor
  • SlimFast¬ģ Advanced Nutrition 100 Calorie Snacks in Sour Cream & Onion Baked Crisps flavor
  • SlimFast¬ģ Advanced Nutrition Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Meal Replacement Bars
  • SlimFast¬ģ Advanced Nutrition 100 Calorie Snacks Drizzled Crisps in Cinnamon Bun Swirl flavor

 

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First, I tried the items that were easy to munch on and that was the Sour Cream and Onion Baked Crisps to satisfy the salty urges and for the sweet cravings, I tried the Drizzled Crisps in Cinnamon Bun Swirl. First thing I noticed with both bagged products, was the large amount of “dustings” in the bag. I call that the powdery and broken up bits in a bag that barely resemble the whole product you see pictured in the front of the bag. Like the posters for drive-thru burgers, my product did not resemble the picture on the bag. The Sour Cream and Onion crisps had the higher amount of “dustings” that I wondered if I should just use the contents as a batter coating! I taste a pinch-full of what these crisps use to be and the flavor and texture resemble closely to those chips that come in a canister….but more broken up. The odd part was when you ate the product, it tasted good enough to satisfy a chip craving but when you drank water, you had an odd aftertaste that lingered. The taste was not like potato or the sour cream and onion coating, think more milk solids or dry milk and it was what it tasted closely too. Each bag is 100 calories and states it comes with 18 to 20 crisps. I am not kidding when if I say I got 4 whole ones and that is counting the ones that were 3/4 whole. The breakage takes away from the enjoyment and if you get past that, the aftertaste did me in. I did not finish the bag but I figured that means I consumed less calories!

 

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Next, came the Cinnamon Bun Swirl crisps. These were a little more in one piece but the drizzle on top was mostly on the bottom of the bag. The sweetness is not overwhelming and the cinnamon had a nice balance to it. Again, the odd aftertaste was present but you could overlook this one more. The crisps had a pleasant crunch and like some products on the market, these did not leave you with a cotton mouth after you ate them. I could actually see myself picking up a bag if a sweet craving hits me that is overwhelming because a bag is just 100 calories for 20 to 22 crisps. These were also 30% whole in the bag!

 

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SlimFast’s Ready to drink shake that comes in an easy to go bottle. The bottle idea I like because sometimes messing with powder and a scoop can be a pain, but I usually take a bottle water (or almond milk) and just scoop into a shaker bottle when I am on the go. I then combine the ingredients (wet/dry) when I am ready to consume them, so this way I don’t end up with chocolate powder that found it’s way out of a plastic baggy and went poof in my purse! I made sure to try the drink cold from the fridge and upon opening the bottle, the Vanilla¬†scent is not very Vanilla like. I take a sip and the drink is about 4 out of ten when it comes to overall taste and flavor. I have had much better and this drink had an odd thickness to it. I made sure to shake it just in case and the thickness left a film in my mouth that was not very vanilla or real milk tasting, or even a nut milk flavor! It took away from the enjoyment and even with time, I could not get use to it. Being able to get 20 grams of protein on the go is a plus, but when I priced it out, weighed in the flavor/texture and the ingredients, I would still opt for a premium powder mix that is usually higher in protein. I did fix the flavor by adding part of a scoop of powdered Peanut Butter and Chocolate, and that is when I noticed that my PB and Chocolate powder had a better quality of chocolate and real flavor than what the Slim Fast drink. ¬†I then felt I wasted a scoop of the “good stuff” on trying to make the not so good stuff better! I also noticed there is natural and artificial flavors but no where but the title of the drink says Vanilla. ¬†It’s called Vanilla Creme but nowhere is Vanilla listed! I then stopped looking at the ingredients because they made my tummy rumble more. ¬†ūüė¶

 

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Last but not least, the bar in Dark Chocolate and Sea salt. This is a meal replacement bar and has 10 grams of protein and 200 calories.  Ninety of those calories come from fat and the protein derives from Soy, not Whey. I look at the list and there are so many other bars on the market with better core ingredients and even protein impact, and with less fat! This bar is super sweet and off in taste, plus costs more than the better bars. The Dark Chocolate has a waxy texture and is of poor quality. I did not go past the one bite because my calories and fat matters. The bar is filled with syrups derived from everything from brown rice, tapioca and simple cane. They added Inulin as a source of fiber, plus Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil to hold it all together. Let me add the above comes before the Cocoa itself and Oats was still listed before the chocolate! They might as well called the flavored Sweet Oats-y. The only positive is that it has Almonds as a first ingredients but I felt they were ruined by the rest!

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Final Verdict:

I love the VoxBoxes and Influenster! ¬†I am not so in love with Slim Fast. ¬†I think back and they are a company that his been around a long time but I feel they are always playing catch up and still stuck in the motto of “portion control baggies”. ¬†Most people that are serious about losing weight and/or managing their weight, can portion out an individual serving. ¬†They sell containers to baggies to help you out that serve as a carrying vessel and probably keep the products in more decent shape. ¬†You can use a scale or like I do, I still use a scale but I test myself first to see if I can visually guess-estimate on my own and then verify with the scale. ¬†I notice I usually serve myself a little under the 1 serving a packaging lists. ¬†I can do math, so I don’t need someone doing it for me. ¬†Next, the ingredients used are “old school” but not in a good way. ¬†Cheap sugars, bad oils, artificial flavors and dyes, and poor protein sources is not what I call healthy eating. ¬†Yes, you get less calories but that is barely the entire picture when eating well. ¬†You need good fats, a good source of protein and more to stay energized. ¬†Yes, the Slim Fast products come with vitamins and minerals but again a multi-vitamin can do that for you if that is what you desire! ¬†I looked at the products as a whole and asked myself is this a balanced diet? ¬†Slim Fast does not state just eat our food solely but the 1 meal or 2 real meals you add in a day should not make-up for everything you did not get. ¬†I want energy and I’m not even asking for a boost of it from products, just keep me going in the day. ¬†If I started with a shake, ate a bar for lunch (maybe 1 or 2 crisp snacks) and then ate dinner…..well, when my body is suppose to be winding down is when my body got the better fuel. ¬†Yeah, that did not sit well with me! ¬†Then I saw the price points because convenience comes at a price and Slim Fast was more expensive than the “golden dietary products” on the market. ¬†Um, I’m paying more to eat less better is what entered my head. ¬†Yeah, I prefer paying the bills Santa brought and managing my weight with other products than paying for products that are sub-par both in how they were made and how they came out of a bag!

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Slim Fast and Influenster.  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.

Horizon Dairy: Super Squeeze Snacks made with Organic Milk and Fruit in Mixed Berry Burst, Strawberry Bash and Orange Blast #Review

 

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I’m always looking for snack alternatives and being that we are big on fruit and yogurt like drinks, the Super Squeeze Snack pouches were a perfect combination. Each pouch has only 100 calories and 5 grams of protein, plus 20% of your daily required calcium. A box comes with 4 pouches and each provides 99 grams (3.5 ounces) per serving. I was sent from Horizon Dairy the following flavors:

These are shelf stable snacks that have many uses from being a creamy base for fruit to even slightly freezing them. I took fresh strawberries and blueberries, mixed them with any of the Super Squeeze flavors, and slightly froze the fruit mix for 20 to 30 minutes. Just enough time for the treat to set and have a soft serve texture. Everyone loved it and with the 100 degree days we have been experiencing, this is a low calorie and protein delivering snack that will energize anyone from adults to children on a day like today! The base also makes great “mug cakes” that can be made in the microwave if you are short on time and/or energy.

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Super Squeeze in Mixed Berry Burst- Every pouch is made with real milk and fruit to create a creamy blend. Naturally flavored and this version contains Organic Skim Milk, Strawberry Puree, Organic Cane Sugar, Pectin, Organic Blueberry Puree, and Citrus Acid. Simple but delicious and the product is free from artificial colors or preservatives. You get pure ingredients and by far this was our favorite. We even skipped on milk some days and added our granola based cereal to create the perfect morning fruit parfait. Best way to start the day.

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Strawberry Bash Super Squeeze- This was our second favorite flavor. This Super Squeeze contains Organic Skim Milk, Strawberry Puree, Organic Cane Sugar, Pectin and Citric Acids. Natural flavors that create a perfect snack. There is no funny red or pink hue to this treat, just pure strawberries always ready on-the-go. The part that makes this a no-excuses snack, is that the squeeze needs zero refrigeration if left unopened. You literally grab it and it’s ready around your schedule. Cravings for adults (and even kids) can be curbed and you just can’t beat having a healthy snack that is just at hand’s reach with no spoon needed.

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Super Squeeze in Orange Blast¬†Think of this as a “dreamscile-like” treat. We enjoyed it and would purchase this variety even though it was not our favorite because it was still delicious. I expected a fake and unpleasant orange taste but I found myself happily disappointed because we actually enjoy real orange based products in our home. This Super Squeeze starts with the same Organic Skim Milk, Orange Puree, Organic Cane Sugar, Pectin, Citric Acid and Natural Flavors. As with all Super Squeeze products, you will notice they start with milk and right after comes the real fruit and no fillers!

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In our home, we have always been fans of Horizon and Happy the cow! ¬†Horizon makes tasty treats that can be enjoyed as much by kids and adults alike. ¬†They just make great foods with ingredients that are real! ¬†The crackers taste cheesy, peanut butter sandwich crackers are buttery and creamy, and the macaroni and cheese (especially the white cheddar) is the very best I have tasted from a box. ¬†Yeah, I thought all Mac & Cheese from a box had no love ‚̧ when it came to flavor and ingredients but Happy the Cow always delivers!

Snoopy and our favorite cow Happy have teamed up:

The Peanuts movie has united with Horizon Dairy where you could win a trip for you and your family for a “Red Carpet Experience” The movie premiere will be in Los Angeles, CA, plus there are other prizes you may be able to win. Go to: http://HorizonDairy.com/Peanuts to enter and Good Luck!

Connect with Horizon Dairy at:

 

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

 

 

 

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.

Premier Protein Bars: Yogurt Peanut Crunch #Review #PremierSelfie

Most protein bars that are geared towards females have great flavors but low protein numbers. I want energy just like everyone else and if I want less, I prefer just eating half a bar and holding the other half for later.

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Retail Price Point: $1.99 per bar with 30 grams of protein

Ingredients (as listed on their website)-
Premier Protein¬ģ Bar Protein Blend (Soy Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Whey Protein Concentrate), Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Gelatin, Sugar, Partially Defatted Peanut Flour, Water, Peanut Butter (Dry Roasted Peanuts), Palm Kernel Oil, Inulin, Contains 2% or less of the following: Tapioca Starch, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Salt, Yogurt Powder, Soy Lecithin (an emulsifier), Nonfat Dry Milk, Peanut Extract, Caramel Color, Sucralose.

Verdict:
As I mentioned, flavor matters and the Premier Protein bars come in an array of flavors from White Fudge Raspberry to the Yogurt Peanut Crunch I was sent to try out. Each bar provides 30 grams of protein and are decent in size, so you nip that craving or hunger when it hits. The bar is gluten free and no funny stuff like fillers or trans fats, corn syrup, plus they are a great source of not just protein but fiber too. Each bar is 290 calories, so again a pretty decent exchange when it comes to the what makes the bar.

The flavor of the yogurt coating resembles white chocolate and it’s almost described like eating a peanut butter rice crisp treat that has been dipped in it. Very different and no nasty aftertaste, plus I did get enough energy to finish grocery shopping and my groceries resembled the list I went out to get. Many times my cravings tend to influence what I am buying and I then come home with more snack foods than I planned too. So, I not only save my waistline but also when it comes to my checkbook!

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Connect with Premier Protein and check-out their products at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Premier Protein via Influenster.  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.

 

 

Sunsella 100% Stainless Steel Collapsible Steamer Basket

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There are things you take for granted you have in your kitchen and then when it fails you, are at a loss where to go to get a quality replacement. A rolling pin. A dough scraper. Cookie sheets. You know the brands, and the big box stores that sell them, but which one is good? Which one will last you? Which one won’t fail? Well, when my collapsible steamer went kaput, I’d had it for so long I didn’t know where to start. And like a knight in stainless steel shining armor, in rode Sunsella’s¬†Stainless Steel Collapsible Vegetable Steamer. And let me tell you, it does so much more than steam vegetables.

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See, these steamers are a staple in almost every kitchen, regardless of the background of the cook. It’s been used in this house to steam homemade tamales, to steam Asian-style pork buns and potstickers, to of course to steam veggies. It has a smooth action to open and close, a handy ring on the center post for easy grabbing, and little feet that are long enough to be able to put a good amount of water in your pot to keep the steam flowing. Have something big to steam? Just unscrew the center post and voil√†, you’ve got all that real estate in your pot to fill. It takes up virtually no space in the cabinet but is absolutely indispensable in any kitchen. And the 100% stainless steel means it cleans like a dream and will last you for years and years. And while it says it’s dishwasher safe, I recommend cleaning by hand and air drying, as the harsh detergents in the dishwasher might cause it to tarnish and rust over time. I want my tools to last, and while my last steamer was over 2 decades old, I wanted him to last longer. And this¬†Sunsella 100% Stainless Steel Vegetable Steamer might be there when I’m ready for Social Security.¬†

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The one drawback I find myself hitting over and over and over lately is price. At $13.99 (at the time of this writing), this steamer is, in some cases, almost 50% more than others on Amazon with the same features and materials. I had to go to Williams Sonoma to find one with a comparable price, and we all know how “out there” Williams Sonoma is with prices. Most were around $8 or $9. I just don’t know how to justify the markup here, and I feel it’s an awesome product. I don’t know, but I know I wouldn’t pay that kind of markup for a product. I liked it, I just don’t know if I liked it 50% more than the rest.

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Connect with Sunsella:

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