Lovely Fresh: I Love my Dog Shampoo #Review #ILoveMyDogShampoo

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I got a chance to try something that seasonally, anywhere but in Southern California, would have been impossible. See, our little pooch? Let’s be honest. Sometimes, she gets a little funky. And if there’s one thing she hates (besides the outdoors, car travel, cheap kibble, and expensive toys), it’s bath time. Sure, she’ll do it, because she gets to snuggle and play afterwards, and then get a good brushin’, which is tantamount to a full body massage for her. So she “suffers” through the former to thoroughly enjoy the latter!

But in the peak of Fall? Luckily we got (yet another) bout of freakishly hot weather, which means we got to test out I Love My Dog Shampoo by Lovely Fresh. We’ve tried more than a few pooch shampoos (even one or two human ones too!) on our little girl. Some are too perfume-ey, some too drying, some with promises no shampoo could ever hope to deliver.

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I Love My Dog shampoo by Lovely Fresh makes a few boasts, like it being formulated to make your pet’s skin and coat beautiful and healthy, from roots to tips, promoting overall wellness of skin and coat, removing bacteria and adding strength and shine. It also says it’s “vet recommended”, but what vet and where it doesn’t say. It also claims to leave a lasting fresh scent, but truthfully, I can’t say this was the case. While it did banish her “poochy” scent for a little while, it came back the next afternoon. Next up, was the natural ingredient claim, with oatmeal and neem. It also says it’s soap, detergent, and alcohol, but will still work up a rich lather. Again, the product fell short in that last portion, as I found myself having to use more and more product to get any foamy goodness going. As an aside, the instructions say to let the shampoo sit on her coat for 5 minutes. I had no luck getting our dog to hold still for 2 minutes while she’s wet and foamy(ish), let alone 5 minutes. Poor girl even gave me that look like what are you waiting for! Your mileage may vary here. With a satisfaction guarantee, it’s really your call if you want to pay return shipping if your results are not up to snuff.

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Retail Price Point: $14.95 on Amazon

Overall, I’d have to say there are probably better products you could use that cost the same or less. Like people, every dog is different, and what might not be great for our girl might be fantastic for yours. There’s really no way to know but to try. I’d have to mark this one as a “pass” for us. But again, with a satisfaction guarantee, it never hurts to try.

Check-out Lovely Fresh’s, I Love my Dog Shampoo at:

 

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

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Healthy Surprise: Subscription Snack Box filled with goodies and delivered right to your door

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Healthy Surprise is a company, which delivers snack filled boxes to your door on a monthly basis. The company also offers specialty themed boxes, like their Chocolate Box that is filled with anything and everything having to do with that cacao bean we all love. You also have different box levels and they just get fuller and fuller as you go up the scale:

  • Starter Box- $40.00 a month and filled with snacks for 1 to 2 people. Each box has 11+ full sized snacks to enjoy.
  • Big Box– $60.00 a month and filled with snacks to satisfy 1 to 4 people. This box comes with 16+ full sized snacks to indulge in.
  • Combo Box– $95.00 a month and filled with snacks to satisfy 2 to 6 people. The Combo Box is huge and filled with 27+ full sized snacks that will satisfy any taste-bud and then some.

All treats are soy free, gluten free, natural to vegan. Snacks are corn free and even plant based. I also found they research very carefully what they offer in their boxes from products not made in China to the ingredients used. You won’t find MSG to High Fructose Corn Syrup. Worried about allergies? Healthy Surprise hunts for dairy free, peanut free, shellfish free, no artificial flavors, dyes, color, to even no artificial sweeteners used in their health friendly boxes. No Partially Hydrogenated oils or yeast extracts to upset your taste buds! It’s munching but at a higher level of quality and some can same say less guilt. I’m always for feeling better and less guilty about snacking!

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One thing I dislike about monthly subscription boxes is the wait. You miss that delivery window and you are waiting 30+ days to get anything. Not with Healthy Surprise!  They even have a count down and I ordered one day in the early hours and I am not kidding, I was opening up my box within 48 hours. Healthy Surprise is a California based company, so I got quick delivery and so can you, as they ship for free anywhere in the U.S. You can also set when you want a box shipped and I like that level of control when ordering.

Now to the box we go! I received the smaller box called the Starter Box and calling it small is an understatement, with 13 items but does it live up to it’s price tag? Let’s see….

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  • Hail Merry Macaroons Blonde– The bag comes with 1.75 of puck shaped macaroons. They are small but packed with flavor and no skimping on the coconut. I loved these and ate them with fruit, then dipped some in chocolate and two macaroons swam in an almost empty jar of Fleur de Sel Caramel that was too good to waste. Love these and they are addicting. The product is gluten free and Vegan friendly. Hail Merry uses top notch ingredients from organic maple syrup, shredded coconut, extra virgin coconut oil to raw almond flour. You add vanilla and sea salt and that makes up the entire list of contents. Simple and delicious and I’m a fan. A bag this size retails for about $4 to $5.

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  • Gorge Delights, Just Fruit Bar in Apple Cherry 100% grown U.S. fruit, this bar is sort of like the “fruit leather” you find at Trader Joe’s. A little thicker and it’s made of apple puree, apple concentrate, and cherry concentrate. The bar is simple but delivers more of an apple punch than a cherry one. Due to it’s ultra minced texture, the bar is a little on the gummy side but not satisfying in texture like a gummy bear is. It’s more gummy and smashed. Was not a fan of the bar and stopped at two bites because the cherry was just not there for me and it started to taste like fermented fruit. I really wanted to like this bar because it does satisfy 2 fruit servings of your daily requirements and I would try it again but in another flavor. This bar retails for about $1.16 when purchased in bulk sizes (for retail).

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  • Oloves in Basil and Garlic These are natural green pitted olives and they have a touch of salt, sunflower oil, basil, garlic, vinegar, and acidifiers listed as lactic and citric acid. The pouch weighs 1.1. ounces and safely keeps the green olives intact. No broken or smashed ones and I added them to a salad, which made my dinner look like a beauty and my taste buds were 100% satisfied when it came to the flavor and texture. You get a nice brine that is not over loaded with acids or too high in flavor when it comes to the marinade. Oloves found the perfect balance where the other flavors compliment versus taking away from the olive. A bag this size retails for a little over a $1.00.

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  • Hail Merry Grawnola in Orange and Cranberry– Another hit for the Hail Merry family and this raw nut and fruit blend is packed with flavor that is perfectly balanced. Many orange flavored items are over powered with a poor tasting juice that smells better than it tastes, but not here. You get the hints of citrus and the granola is crunchy and not coated with that honey/orange juice glaze that gives you sticky fingers. You have ingredients like raw almonds, maple syrup, buckwheat groats, fresh orange juice, dried apples, raw pecans, and cranberries. The blend continues with raw sunflower seeds, walnuts, flax seeds, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon and salt. Perfect and craveable, plus energy packed. Most ingredients are organic and this product is gluten free, Vegan friendly, grain free and packed with Raw Omegas. Hail Merry products make you look at the label twice and it’s not a trust issue, it’s that you can’t believe something so good is not doused in sugars and bad stuff! This 1.5 ounce bag retails for between $2.50 and $3.00.

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  • Buddy Fruits in Mango Passion & Banana– The drink comes in a resealable container and Buddy Fruits is simple in the ingredient list. You have pure blended fruit derived from Mango. Apple, Banana, and Passion Fruit juice…..that is all. The pouch delivers a taste just like you would imagine the fruit combination would be. Great product to drink as it is or even add to smoothies. I semi-froze mine to enjoy on a hot day and it got a nice slush consistency that made me wish I had 2 of these in my box. The 3.2 ounce pouch retails for about a $1.00 to $1.25.

 

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  • Freshly Wild Super Foods, Kale Joy in Jazzy Sweet Mustard– Healthy surprise sent me another thing I’ve been dying to try, kale chips. Because let’s face it, everyone gets “munchy” from time to time, but potato chips are all kinds of unhealthy and bad for any diet in excess. From Freshly Wild, a small Portland, Oregon-based health food company, comes Kale Joy in Jazzy Sweet Mustard flavor. Not just your average dehydrated kale chip, these are handcrafted and carefully dehydrated in a small kitchen “powered by renewable wind energy”. Cool. Gluten-free, non GMO, and vegan, three things that are quite popular right now. Using “… only the best juices, nuts, seeds and spices”, this little guy is coated in crunch and flavor, with little bits of nut and seasoning all over. Neat-o. In a resealable .75 ounce package to boot. Crispy without being crumbly, and a satisfying crunch that fills that “munchy” feeling I mentioned earlier. Tangy and sweet. Two things jump out at me: 1 is that unfortunately, a lot of the chips became “shards” at the bottom of the bag. And 2 is that for only an ounce, you’d be paying between $4.50 and $6.00 a bag. Yowza. Fortunately, a little bit goes along way.

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  • Snip Chips in Dill Pickle– This is a Parsnip and Coconut snack mix. I have never even sniffed a blend like this or much less had one but I’m a try it all and then decide type of gal. The product is parsnips, raw coconut, raw cashews, apple cider vinegar, dill, garlic and lemon, plus a touch of chipotle, mustard seed, and Himalayan crystal salt. I dive in and it’s not crispy but more of a dehydrated like texture, I have seen these at my local Sprout’s Market and they come in other flavors. I like dill pickles and found myself puzzled by the blend as I knew it.  I did go back for a second and third piece. The verdict is still out on this one for me as much as I tried to make-up my mind about it. I guess I’m in the middle about it, I don’t love them or dislike them but unsure if I will be having more. Sun Chips does have other flavors and maybe the cheesy one would be better. This bag at a weight of 2 ounces retails between $5.49 and $5.99.

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The Daily Crave Veggie Chips– Remember that “munchy” feeling I mentioned? The one that comes between meals and runs diets? Yeah, that one. Here’s another product that should make you feel a little less guilty about munching. Note that I said “should”. I’ll explain that in a minute. The Daily Crave is a snack food company that boasts on their website:

*100% All Natural
*100% Vegan
*No Artificial Ingredients
*No Dairy
*Non GMO
*No Artificial flavors
*No Artificial coloring
*No Hydrogenated Fats
*Perfect for Dipping

That’s a mouthful. And it’s got a neat package, a good price, clever marketing, what’s not to love? Well, a close look at the ingredient list reveals that these are not all that different from, say, those chips in a tube shaped can that stack so nicely. Potato flour, potato star hotel, and oil are the first 3 ingredients. And while there is salt and sugar, it’s thankfully in very small amounts. Almost as small as the amounts of actual veggies in these veggie chips. Now, that’s not to say they aren’t tasty, because they are. But for all they got right, they also got quite a bit wrong. Snazzy packaging and trendy buzzwords do not a great product make. A small filled bag at just 1 ounce retails for $1.33 (retail bulk price).

  • Snapz Premium Grilled Zucchini Crunch & Snapz Premium Pineapple Crunch– I hate being a snack buzzkill, so let me mention a couple of yummers that I loved. Snapz Crisps makes an entire line of gently dehydrated fruit and veggie crisps, so there’s something for everyone. They are a “Brand leader for non fried fruit and vegetable crisps, 100 % natural, not fried or baked. Using unique technology to ensure the products are very crisp (?) they combine the fun and enjoyment of crisps with the goodness of fruit and vegetables. Appealing to all ages groups — young and old alike.” I got to try both sweet and savory with their Premium Pineapple and Grilled Zucchini flavors. While I appreciated the subtle flavors of the grilled zucchini, a little touch of sea salt would have really livened it up. But the pineapple crisps were a hit all around. Too often there are added oils and sugars in dried fruit that completely drown out the flavors of the fruit, but not here. I love the one item ingredient list: Pineapple. Winner! Tasty, crunchy, tangy. Not oily, not overly sweet. What’s not to love? Fat free, gluten free, nut free, GMO free, sugar free, salt free, preservative free…can it be true? It is, but I came crashing down to earth when I went to buy some more: 12 bags (0.46 oz each) were over $17 plus tax and shipping at Amazon. That stings. I really hate that the closer you get to real foods the more it costs, but that’s the reality in America anymore. I will say I really, really enjoyed these and will be on the lookout for them when next I darken the market’s doorstep.

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  • Righteously Raw Chocolates in Mint, Rose, and Dark chocolate– The Dark has a nice creamy and intense cacao notes. It’s not perfume-y, just chocolate satisfaction all the way through at 83% pure cacao you can believe it’s good and no bitter notes at all. It’s the espresso of chocolates! The Mint version has 82% cacoa and it’s not your typical mint that is creamy, think more of a “dry mint” taste where your mint is derived from peppermint so you get the sharp notes combined with the dark chocolate. A good combination and I liked that it was different than the typical mint flavors I have tried before. Then comes the Rose. I love roses and have even indulged in pastries that contain rose water……I took a bite and the flavor was so off, that I quickly chewed and opened the Dark version for salvation. It tasted like something bad had been infused and not like any rose I have eaten or even smelled. The tricky part is the bar smells like just dark chocolate but when you bite, something bitter and sour just takes over your mouth. It says red raspberry powder, brown rice protein powder to red beet are mixed in with the chocolate. Rose hips is last on the list and maybe it’s the flavor combination but it’s a no-go on the Rose and I love chocolate and have even continued to eat chocolate that when asked how it is, I reply “ummm, it’s okay”, but continue munching. Could not do that with the Rose. Righteously Raw did well with the Dark and surprised me nicely with the Mint, so go there when buying this one. The 3 chocolates I received are considered “bite-size”, so finding a price point was a bit difficult but buying in bulk of a bag of dark was 16 pieces for $22.99 via Amazon, making it under $0.70 per bite size bar.

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  • A $25.00 gift card– was also included and can be used towards the purchase of a Healthy Surprise box, making the smaller one more than 50% off. Good company when it comes to continuing patronage with their customers.

I liked being able to try some brands I had never heard of, brands that I have seen but knew nothing about, and seeing the familiar ones like Hail Merry but trying new items from a company I know and purchase products from. Exploring is fun and The Healthy Surprise Company does the hunting while you do the munching. I believe every subscription company should at the very least be tried once and to get a good idea, try it a second time. I did feel some items were overly priced by companies but that is not Healthy Surprises’ fault. It did let me adjust my shopping list by making sure to add some companies to my list and knowing what products to just walk away from. If you are into exploring new items and new flavors, but in a “better for you” way, try Healthy Surprise. I found a great link you can use, which is via Groupon. For a limited time you can get the $60 box for $30!!!

Visit Healthy Surprise and get the Groupon deal at:

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I received the above product free of charge from Healthy Surprise. 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.

NAZQIZ: QANCHA air-toasted Peruvian Corn snack in Original, Picante and Chimichurri #Review

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I am not a huge snacker but when I get my snack-ems on, I usually like to try something new and off the chart. In comes Qancha snacks, a corn snack that is poppable and off the chart when it comes to flavor. I was a huge muncher back in the days of another brand of corn snacks but after time, I noticed the product changed and it’s mostly now an oily and salty mess! So I moved on to buying the store brand Inca Gold nuggets in picante flavor. I need saving when it came to my corn snack-ems!

Qancha uses toasted Cancha corn, which you have probably heard as also being called Chulpe corn. This Peruvian variety is a maiz that pops when exposed to heat. You get an airy product that has a great crunch and achieves those toasted notes that we all chase after. You will notice from the images that the Cancha has a different shape that is almost elongated, sort of like a peanut but trust me that a peanut wishes it could be this airy and poppable. Nazqiz makes sure to never fry this snack and it’s loaded with better ingredients that makes sure your taste buds are left satisfied. Qancha snacks are air toasted with avocado oil and are naturally gluten-free, high in fiber, soy-free, dairy and nut free. Also, free of preservatives or any artificial ingredients! Freshness is key and the resealable packages state they have a shelf life of 3 months after delivery but it won’t last you that long! Other facts to note is that this product is high in fiber, non-GMO, no trans fat and insanely good!   This is the good stuff so let’s get started with the flavors……

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Original:

What started the party! This classic version combines the toasty Chulpe kernel with avocado oil and sea salt.  The simplicity can be appreciated and it even pairs well with mixed with the other flavors.   I tasted this one first and fell in love with the distinct flavors this maiz has. It’s not heavy and because the product is toasted perfectly, you get none of those “burny corn” notes you sometimes do with the fried stuff. The taste is clean and the salt content is perfect, you don’t even end up with crusty salty fingers, so I can munch with no evidence of my snackings left behind. I was so satisfied with the lightly salted Original that I had to keep going until I tasted the trio.

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Picante:

Comes with a Latin kick that gives you a touch of heat but with plenty of spicy flavor. Not the kind of heat that burns but just a slight smothering of spiciness. You get freshness from the lime that leaves a nice citrus and toasty aftertaste when finished. I noticed this product also contains Lime oil and this was a first for me and I can say I am a fan of the flavor and freshness you get from this ingredient. The Picante variety is not oily and every Chulpe kernel has the perfect amount of flavoring, so you get maximum flavor in every bite.

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Chimichurri:

I love the stuff as my father was raised in Argentina, so we of course dipped everything from bread to meat and even cheese in Chimichurri sauce. Every person has their own interpretation of the spice blends but I liked that Qancha kept things on the traditional level. You get a nice garlic and herby kick here, that just kept coming back for more. The garlic and onion is well balanced but you get the acidity (just a touch) from the red wine vinegar that leaves your mouth just craving more of the zest. I am always cautious with Chimichurri because some interpretations are just off balance, like I love garlic but there is more to the sauce. Qancha captured that “more” and thankfully paired it perfectly with a corn crunch. I had to force myself to stop eating this version and it’s our favorite!

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Price Point: Fairly priced for 3 packets (1 of each flavor) for $7.99 on Amazon

These corn snacks attract attention just by how they look and even how they smell. They are different but will make any guest at least give them one try by the aroma of each distinct flavor. I really never met anyone that does not like one type of corn snack and Qancha by Nazqiz (made in California) gives you three versions to fall in love with. These are great as-is or you can try them over salads, pair them up with other snack foods or spread them over a dip. They take you out of the snacking rut, so try a snack that is thankfully better for you but your taste buds won’t know better!

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For more information or you just want to get crunching, visit Nazqiz Qancha snacks at:
On-linehttp://www.nazqiz.com/
or Order on Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Qancha-Air-toasted-Peruvian-Variety-Flavors/dp/B00I3JXCXM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390936131&sr=8-1&keywords=qancha
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/QanchaNazqiz

I received the above product free of charge from Nazqiz.  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.

A Fridge Full of Bolthouse

Okay, we already covered Bolthouse Farm’s 100% Carrot Juice, even adding a nifty little take on going “beyond the juice”. Now, we get to the other treats Bolthouse sent, and let me tell you, in this house, we’ll always make room for Bolthouse now.

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Pomegranate juice, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

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No, seriously, I love me some Pom juice. Over ice cream, in my fizzy water, as a glaze on a grilled leg of lamb. Bolthouse went the extra nine here, though, and gave you the pearl in the oyster and juiced that red globe for you. There’s a “Wonderful”  version of this juice out there, and don’t get me wrong, I love them too. But let’s be real, they’re not always the most affordable, or easy to find. Bolthouse has really saved both of these issues in one fell swoop.

DSCN41603 and 3/4 servings of fruit in this bottle. 5 and 1/4 whole Pomegranates. 150 little calories, 100% juice. And it tastes like a million bucks, but doesn’t cost anywhere near that much, obviously. You can find small 15.2 oz. bottle for you or to share. Giant 52 oz. bottles from your local Costco for the whole family. There’s something for every fridge and every budget. This one, this is my favorite. I’d drive across town for it. It’s not bitter, and tastes very fresh, very light, and not overly sweet. Out of the 4 juices Bolthouse sent, this has to be, far and away, my favorite.

 

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Visit Bolthouse and their Countless Juice Selections, Juices from Blends to the Plain; to Cafe drinks and even Protein ones:

I received the above product free of charge from Bolthouse Farms. 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.

Swaggable: Peeled Snacks, Much-ado-about-Mango

I enjoy eating fruits and to avoid boredom, I try to eat them dried, dehydrated, baked…..you name it and I usually will try fruit anything…but canned!

I received the Peeled Snacks product from Swaggable last week and I consider myself a Mango “liker” versus a “lover”. I enjoy the fresh fruit but if you have strawberries or pineapple, Mango loses.

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The first thing that jumped out was that the product is Organic and the simple words, “nothing added”. Naked fruit as I call it, is best in my book so this is a great start. I noticed the package has a little clear window that allows you to see the product and I love when manufactures do this because how many times have I opened a package to find it was not close to how it was pictured. So again, great beginning.

I flip the product and notice some very positive nutritional facts starting that one bag is considered 1 serving and it’s a generous amount at 48 grams (1.40 ounces), with only 120 calories. You have Calcium and Iron at 2% each, 20% Vitamin C, and 30% Vitamin A. Gluten, dairy, wheat and cholesterol free. You wrap it up nicely with 2 grams each of Protein and Dietary Fiber.

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I open the package and take a sniff and the product smells close to apricots mixed with a slight orange scent. Good start as it’s not off in odor or like some dried fruits, they stink of chemicals or smell like they have been in a cardboard box for half a century! The fruit looks leathery but I have purchased “leather fruit” strips in the past so I am familiar and accepting of such a  texture. The peels almost look like strips of carrots (in color) that were partially dehydrated and remained bendable. I take a shaving out and notice the remaining pieces have no uniform shape to them (nice natural look). The product was a little on the chewy side so I went from biting and pulling with my front teeth, to having to put some “oompf” with the back ones but I finally won! The fruit goes from feeling leathery on your fingers and dry when biting, to instantly re-hydrating to a gummy like texture. So gummy in consistency that the molars that helped me win my battle had Mango bits embedded all around them. Very sweet and I understand the natural pectin in fruit amps up when dried but this was so sweet and intense, that Mango was the last thing I tasted. As my mouth cleared from the gumminess, I did pick-up some Mango notes but the sweetness really turned me off. I was left…..well craving a Mango. So in some ways this snack encouraged me to add Mango to the grocery list but of the fresh kind.

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Does it have it’s place?

Yes, I see maybe a tart yogurt being able to curve the sugar taste a bit but I’m unsure if it would help with the gummy factor. Maybe the wetness of a yogurt would aid or it could result in a bit of a mess. Baking with the product could be it’s only hope! I wanted to like this product because everything outside the package called to me when it came to the brand Peeled Snacks, it just was not what I desired from a Mango. I understand nothing is added to the Mango and respect that but if they could maybe find a way to take some sugar away, I maybe could accept the gummy factor better. I would still try one more time with Peeled Snacks but just a different fruit.

You can check-out the Peeled Snacks collection at: http://www.peeledsnacks.com/

I received the above product from Swaggable free of charge. I am not obligated in providing a positive/favorable review. just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product, which may differ from yours.

BzzAgent: Filippo Berio® Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Not all oils are created equal and I have learned this through trial and error. As with many foods, companies add fillers or even combine oils to create a lesser quality product but still charge consumers a price point that makes you think it equates with quality.

Been there and done that…..and this is why I hold Filippo Berio’s oils on a whole different level.

I received an Extra Virgin Olive Oil bottle from BzzAgent along with all the great campaign goodies they include. You have the booklet, which educates you about the benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and how it can improve not only your dishes but your health. Great coupons and even a magnet that reflects the measurements you use when substituting Olive Oil for Butter. Great kit and I love it!

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Filippo Berio’s company exports their oils from Italy and has been sharing their great products since 1850.  Now, that is staying in business for a long time and you know you have to be doing something right if you want people to support your products.  The company makes several versions of Olive Oils from Extra Virgin, Light, and also makes vinegar (balsamics) and other products like olives and pestos.  Their distribution is massive and they now reach over 65 countries!  Now, that is reaching the masses!

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The Health Benefits:

Extra Virgin Olive oil is better for you because it contains no trans fat or cholesterol.  Butters commonly used in savory cooking contain salts and Olive oil does not.  You have an oil that is high in monounsaturated fats, which is commonly known as “the good fat” that doctors want you to eat.

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What is the difference between the Extra Virgin and just Olive Oil:

  • Virgin means the oil was produced by the use of physical means and the oil was not treated with any chemicals.  It also means the oil is produced from the “first batch” that the seed/grain produces.
  • Refined means that the oil has been chemically treated to neutralize strong tastes (characterized as defects) and neutralize the acid content.  Chemicals are many times used in lower quality oils as way to preserve and slow down the oxidation that occurs with age.  Refined oil is regarded as lower quality product.  Oils with the retail labels extra-virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil cannot contain any refined oil, as it would not be Virgin if anything else was added.
  • Olive Oil Pommace or Pomace, means oil extracted from the pomace using solvents, mostly Hexane.  Hexane is a carbon based chemical found in glues to gasoline.  Manufactures combine the Hexane and heat to extract from the seeds the oil.  Hexane has a low toxicity level, but nonetheless many industries that use the chemical in their processing, are seeking alternatives due to the adverse health effects.

What the above means is that it all comes down to purity and acidity levels.  Every oil has it’s purpose and this is why learning about them is something I like to do because I don’t want to pay for a lower end product, much less one laced with chemicals my body does not want or need.  Think about it like chocolate and cacao content…..it’s the same mind set.  Don’t let the labels fool you and I also try to stay within the brands I can trust because many good manufactures will not distribute to the public, a lower quality product.

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Now, Extra Virgin Olive oils have a lower smoke point and this means that the oil will smoke and destabilize with higher temperatures.  You may have heard people say it’s a waste to fry in Extra Virgin Olive oil because of it.  I like to do something I call “lacing”, it’s making my own mixes of oils as I see fit for the dish I am preparing.  I use different oils like Grape because the oil has a higher smoke point.  I decided to get creative and used a mix of Grape Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil and of course Filippo Berio’s brand.

  • Olive Oil Braised Chicken Legs with a Roasted Garlic and Herb Stuffing

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  • Foccacia Bread with Parmesan Cheese

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I received the above product from BzzAgent and Filippo Berio.  I am not obligated in providing a positive/favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product, which may differ from yours. #GotItFree

Chobani Greek Yogurt Bite in Raspberry with Dark Chocolate

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Greek yogurt is all the rage these days, so let’s look at a twist (or two) on the theme. First, these little Bite is a generous 3.5 ounces and only 100 calories.  If the flavor does not get your attention enough, this little Bite bites back with providing you 8 grams of protein that has ZERO percent FATS…..yeah, that also got my attention.
The Raspberry and Dark Chocolate has these morsels that resemble shavings and are not a waxy and bitter chocolate chip, like some other brands hide in blended products thinking you won’t notice.  The dark chocolate Chobani uses is of great quality and has a wonderful flavor that pairs perfectly with the fruit.  It finishes smoothly and you get a generous serving within the cup.  Think of chocolate-dipped strawberries no more, there is a new fruit in town and Raspberry has the spot light!!!
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The product is full of goodness too and not just pretending to be good.  Chobani uses all natural flavors, sweeteners, and even dairy derived from cows that have not been treated with rBST.  No preservatives, so the product tastes more like nature intended it to be and that is just perfect.  You also get 3 types of Probiotics and live and active cultures.  Too cool.
Let’s Analyze the Cup- 
I peeled open the top and was hit with zero sour notes like some yogurts hit you with but you smell sweet raspberries that is intense.  No fake syrup scent just how a small pint of FRESH raspberries would smell when washed.  The aroma is very pleasing.  I rocked the cup to get an idea of consistency and it is semi-loose as this is not a strained Greek yogurt but not even close to call it drinkable.  Think more of “light”.  I slightly mixed with the spoon and you quickly are welcomed by these chocolate shavings that are just riding the raspberry yogurt waterfall (whee!).  This is why I had to say I slightly mixed because I could not contain myself and took a taste test.  The chocolate can only be described as “honest chocolate” flavor.  It’s good and as real as dark chocolate gets.  The raspberry flavor is amazingly FRESH.  I know I said this but many manufactures skimp on raspberries like if they were the most expensive fruit but Chobani meant it when they put it on the label.  Also, you don’t get filled with seeds from the berry.  You get a seed here and there to remind you it’s the real thing but Chobani did not skimp on us.  Would I purchase it again?  Um……YES!
What Makes the Cup-
Ingredients-  Nonfat Yogurt (cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, Live and Active cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, and L. Casei), Evaporated Cane Juice, Raspberries, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Pectin, Fruit and Vegetable Juice (for color), Locust Bean Gum and Natural Flavor.
Coupons and More-
Save your wallet from getting bit (coupons): http://chobani.com/coupons/
Visit this Chobani Bite at: http://chobani.com/products/bite-raspberry-with-chocolate-chips/
Say “Hello” to Chobani on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Chobani
Say “Hi” in Greek, “Yassou (YAH-su) on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Chobani
See Chobani show it’s Cups on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/chobani/
Follow Chobani via Google+: https://plus.google.com/105549919806722403002/posts
Hashtag anyone: #tastereal
The yogurt cup even Blogs: http://chobani.com/community/blog/
I received the above product free of charge from Chobani.  I have no obligation in providing a favorable/positive review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and brand, which may differ from yours.

Go Beyond the Bun with MorningStar Farms

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Before you say “Where’s the meat?”,  please take a moment and give it a chance. I am a meat eater and a veggie lover, I also believe when you want a burger, you get a burger. I have tasted meatless products in the past and because they try to imitate an animal product without being one, they fail at being beefy and worse, they are not even a good tasting veggie meal. I was a little nervous and even thought, “Maybe I should have declined this campaign”. I eat vegetables daily and in huge quantities so I am picky and especially when it comes to a frozen product. To get an idea of what I like to eat so you can see where my palette lands in all this, I love Fresh & Easy’s stir fry mix to their Broccoli bags and these all come from the freezer section. I also pick up 2 heads of fresh broccoli, and other vegetables, at my local market because I know it will last me a week and the second week I go frozen. It’s my way to balance freshness and convenience without sacrificing my need and want for vegetables.

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So, I pick up what I call the “original” Garden Veggie Patties. I figure if they do the original right, I then will give their other varieties a try in the future. I have a meat-less meal once a week and it’s not planned but sometimes I just don’t want meat or fish. I know, I’m a girl with bunny rabbit habits. The patties are just 110 calories per serving, 350 mg of sodium with 10 grams of protein. Okay, a little high on the salt but I have seen much worse and I don’t consume large quantities through out the day so I am safe.

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The ingredients:
I looked and the first is Vegetables. Okay, I expected water or some tofu but it states Vegetables and the mix equates to mushrooms, water chestnuts, onion, carrots, green bell peppers, and black olives. Next comes the soy protein. You then have wheat gluten, water for hydration, egg white, cooked brown rice, rolled oats to corn oil. Then comes soy sauce and other items like jalapeno pepper powder, celery extract to garlic powder, and a touch of sugar. Mostly, things I can identify, pronounce, and my brain can retrieve an image to the name! My patty will not be glowing in the dark from chemicals so that is a good thing!

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Is it good?
I saw the ingredients and minus the jalapeno pepper powder (I thought I would just think chili flakes for that one), I thought why bun it when I can pan-fry it and add it to my stir-fry. You got water chestnuts and soy sauce so I’m already there! I fried with just 1/2 teaspoon of peanut oil and sesame oil. I added no sauce or anything else and when it was done, I used the remainder, plus a 1/4 teaspoon of oil (peanut and sesame) to fry my veggies. I added a tablespoon of Trader Joe’s Soyaki sauce to my vegetables and I’m done. I plate it with a Jasmine rice I made two days ago, that I added Edamame (frozen) too. Then topped it with the veggies, cut up the Morning Star patty into bite size, a dash of sesame seeds and I’m done. I then go crazy with the Sriracha Sauce and chili flakes but that is another blog post.

The Verdict:
I would buy these patties again. Found myself craving them a few days later and they settled well. Very filling and flavorful. I would say this is the best tasting vegetable and soy protein I have had and not to sound like everyone, it had a chicken like texture and taste. I don’t know if that was the intention but yummy is yummy! I also liked how quick and well they fried up with very little oil. I had that whole golden brown action going that tasted great when you ate it. The product is not so overly milled that it resembles just patties made from baby food. MorningStar Farms treated me like and adult and I see the bell pepper and pieces of real food in the patty. Loved them and I can’t wait to try their other selections. They had some that were flavored more towards the Italian to Mediterranean cuisines. I even saw a breakfast sausage……do I dare? These were so good that I’m game!

I received the above product from BzzAgent and my only commitment is to provide an honest review.  I have no obligation of sharing a favorable (or unfavorable) opinion.  The above statement are my own opinion based on my experiences with the product.  Your opinion may differ from mine.

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