Fior di Frutta by Rigoni di Asiago: Apricot Fruit Spread with Honey Goat Cheese Rustic Bread #Recipe

 

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I don’t usually start blogging about a sample sized item I receive but the people at Rigoni di Asiago were kind enough to not only send me bottles of their delicious Nocciolata spread, an apron and the cutest shopping bag that folds into a hazelnut, but among the goodies were these samples of their fruit spreads. After being so joyous about finding my Hazelnut & Cocoa spread, a few days later I opened one of the two flavors they sent. I got a few Apricot ones and one Blueberry, so I went to open the one I had most of. The spread packet states their spreads are sweetened with just apple juice. I taste it and it’s like someone just plucked an apricot in it’s prime, smashed it a little and there you go. I would think someone giving me smashed fruit would make me unhappy but not this kind. I enjoyed it so much that I had to bake with it. I had just come from the store with fresh goat cheeses (sale got me!) and the honey version just started speaking to me, so here goes a recipe because I was so impressed with the Fior di Frutta sample in Apricot!

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Let’s Begin…..

  • Take 5 1/2 ounces of the “Almost Whole Wheat Rustic Bread” (Recipe here- http://wp.me/p2B5Rd-Sr)
  • 2 Tablespoons of the Fior di Frutta fruit spread in Apricot
  • 1/2 an ounce of Honey Goat Cheese (fresh and soft kind) and I went by weight, not volume.
  • Warm water mixed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil for brushing

Make the dough as instructed and when completed, take the dough and spread it out flat so it can be filled.

Then spread the Apricot Fruit Spread

Crumble the fresh Honey Goat Cheese

Roll and tuck the ends

Let rest for 20 minutes

While resting, put a dish with water in the oven and turn it on to 450 degrees. I baked mine with the convection going. I also use a glass pie dish because I am starting the oven with the water already in, versus using the pouring when hot method.

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Mix warm water with a touch of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and brush loaf. I got creative and did a hash design when it came to slashing the dough. I figure try something different. I just cut an angle one-way and then the other to create a “diamond” like pattern.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until done in a 450 degree oven.

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Allow bread to cool before slicing, since losing cheese is no fun. I had mine about 8 hours later and this goes great with a fruit and cheese tray, with wine, with a salad or just as is. Enjoy!

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Some wonderful facts about the Apricot Fruit Spread:

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Get your Fruit Spread!  The Fior di Frutta line has one or like for me, I like them all:

  • On-line–¬†http://rigonidiasiago-usa.com/our-products/fiordifrutta/organic-fruit-spread-apricot/
  • Facebook-¬†https://www.facebook.com/RigonidiAsiagoUSA
  • Twitter–¬†https://twitter.com/NocciolataUSA
  • Pinterest–¬†http://www.pinterest.com/nocciolata/
  • Instagram–¬†http://instagram.com/nocciolatausa
  • Also available for sale on Amazon

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Rigoni di Asiago.  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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Told you the bag was super adorable!

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Rigoni di Asiago: Nocciolata Organic Hazelnut Spread with Cocoa and Milk #Review

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As a child, I was a huge fan of a hazelnut and chocolate spread, which I was introduced to before I even tasted peanut butter. It was not until my later years in grade school that I actually had my first peanut butter sandwich, however I always preferred the hazelnut and cocoa spread. Years passed and I went and purchased the same but now popular brand to find it was not like I recalled. I actually thought it was a poor batch and on my next outing, I again purchase the same brand to find that the now plastic jar is not all that had unfortunately changed. It was overly sugary, so much I could barely stand eating it alone with just bread and much less combining it with anything else. The cocoa was more compared to chocolate syrup in flavor but the watery kind and hazelnut……what hazelnut? They said every jar had over 50 some so hazelnuts but they must be using the most mild tasting nuts or miscounted! I was heartbroken and literally went years without having any hazelnut and cocoa spread. Then things changed!

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In comes Rigoni de Asiago with their glass jar and simple ingredients. They even have an adorable squirrel on top and are Organic. You have premium ingredients like:

  • Cane Sugar
  • Hazelnut Paste
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Skim Milk Powder
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Sunflower Lecithin
  • and a touch of Vanilla extract
  • That’s all that is in this jar!

Could it taste like I once recalled because at this point I was thinking I was imaging things! I get a beautiful parcel and let’s say the bottle alone with label is gorgeous. I love stuff that looks like this, you know those jars that are packed with care. This jar invokes that but I care more about what is inside. I open and smell and sugar is not the first thing I detect. I smell a delicious chocolate but that distinct nutty scent from a hazelnut is present……like the real stuff because no fake extract ever comes close to a true taste of a hazelnut. Sniff test- Passed

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Taste Test:
I admit it, I just get a spreader and dip in. I see no oils on top or odd separation, just a smooth and the spread swirls like a good buttercream frosting does when you go to spread it. Light in texture and folds over just like it should because it has not been stiffened with too much¬†sugar….perfectly whipped. I taste and it just floods my mind with memories! It was like I remembered and I may even say better. I was so happy and quickly grabbed a slice of bread and munched! It was the kind of munching that makes you glad no one was home to witness it. I then put the jar away because it’s like a hole could occur at any moment and I a) don’t want to run out and b) I got to pretend I have some control. I had a week where I was making every excuse I could to dip into my Rigoni di Asiago Nocciolate jar but because a little goes a long way, I realized I can enjoy it. I eat about 1/2 a teaspoon at a time so I have convinced myself I am not addicted.

Rigoni di Asiago carries a vast array of spreadable goodies that I can’t wait to try them all. Seriously, look at the list of the products they produce and they make it all from honey to fruit spreads. I was sent samples of some of their fruit spreads and will be posting a recipe soon. I do not usually use a sample size to create anything with but when I tasted the more fruit than sugar spreads they make…..I just was hit to create.

Create with and/or just eat and enjoy one of Rigoni di Asiago’s products and you have to check them out at:

It get’s better…….I have a giveaway soon, so after I post my recipes, stay tuned because the Rigoni di Asiago Squirrel is a¬†critter with gifts¬†and wants to reward one of my readers with a gift box just like the one I received! You will love it!!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Rigoni di Asiago.  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.

 

Cocomama Foods: The Easiest and Tastiest way to start your morning with Quinoa Cereal #Review

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Cocomama Foods was kind enough to send me a sampler pack, which featured their 4 different varieties of Quinoa cereal. I indulge in the morning and usually want to start with a nice energy filled meal. Getting anything at the store that comes from a box may energize a hummingbird with the amounts of sugar added, however I can’t flap that fast. I’m seeking energy that lasts so I can keep going at a normal pace and Cocomama Quinoa based cereals fit that perfectly.

Got milk? No worries, their pouch form servings are perfect and ready to eat. No need for a stove or even watts from a microwave. You can enjoy the cereal heated or at room temperature. I love the ease of customization because sometimes I want to add fruit and especially when I buy more strawberries than a family of 2 can eat. What can I say, the sales get to me and I have plans at the store that do not always come to fruition at home. I also love the no excuses approach to starting your day in a more healthier way. You seriously can grab a spoon and eat from the pouch on the go, or be a little more civilized if you did not hit the snooze button twice that morning and enjoy it in a bowl, warmed up with a drizzle of honey and fresh fruit.

Cocomama has a Quinoa Cereal to satisfy any craving and avoid breakfast boredom:

  • Honey Almond
  • Banana Cinnamon
  • Wild Bluberry
  • Orange Cranberry

 

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Each flavor has real fruit and the shortest ingredient list I have seen in a pre-packaged cereal. You have water and coconut cream that creates the perfect base, followed by organic quinoa, a touch of sea salt and then whatever the variety is. For example, the Banana Cinnamon flavor has the aforementioned and then maple syrup, banana puree, natural flavors and cinnamon…….told you Cocomama is real food with no codes and abbreviations for stuff you hope you are guessing right when it comes to ingredients. I tried finding a simple cereal like this and could not at my local market. I would have to make it from scratch! ¬†All cereals are dairy free, soy free, gluten free, all natural, vegetarian friendly, great source of protein and fiber and let’s not overlook the 9 essential amino acids you get in every serving.

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  • Cocomama Quinoa Cereal in Wild Blueberry– This is the happiest blue colored bowl that puts a smile on your face. Made with wild blueberry powder, there is no hunting for blueberries to taste them! You get a blueberry burst of flavor and the smell immiting from the bowl is intense as well. If you want to pretend you are in a blueberry patch minus the thorns from picking them, this is the bowl for you. I enjoyed a nice “patriotic bowl” by adding fresh strawberries and fresh blueberries, plus some yogurt chips. One filling pouch is just 220 calories, which deliver 4 grams of protein, 8% of your daily value of Vitamin C and Iron, plus 4% of Calcium.

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  • Cocomama Quinoa Cereal in Honey Almond I always craved the maple and brown sugar oatmeal that was pictured on the box but my oatmeal never looked like the picture or even satisfied my taste buds. If you seek that flavor, this is the variety for you! You have sweet delicious honey and a small hint of Almond. Want more almond? Add them and I have but this base is better than any oatmeal you can make and that is even if you opted for milk versus water. This version also has kaniwa, a ancient super grain/super food that is less bitter and resembles almost red quinoa. Think of a naked quinoa grain because kaniwa is missing the saponins, the outter coating you find on quinoa. It has a more mild flavor but still that great texture. That is another thing you will enjoy, like pasta, grains must be rinsed and cooked properly to achieve the best texture we all seek and Cocomama does just that. A Honey Almond bowl is only 240 calories and you get 5 grams of protein per serving, 8% of your daily value of Iron and 2% of Calcium.

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  • Cocomama Quinoa Cereal in Banana Cinnamon– I love bananas and especially bread but only myself and the dog eats them, so I rarely make banana anything. Now I can have my “nanner” fix and be happy. Want a super banana taste? Use a fork and mash a small banana and then nicely fold in this Cocomama cereal and heat for 25 seconds in a microwave…….the smell alone is insanely good but wait for it to cool before taking a bite. My taste-buds took control of my brain one morning and they got the best of me or to be more exact, my tongue. The wait will be worth it and you will be in what I call “nanner heaven”. I also seek a more mild cinnamon spice flavor, so this made the bowl perfection for me……think of a deconstructed banana bread slice.

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  • Cocomama Quinoa Cereal in Orange Cranberry– I wish this combination of flavors was more popular than just during the holidays. I can find even cranberry sauce and muffins during December but then the party is over, the year flips and I see no Cran-Orange anything. Now I can party all year because whoever said this is just a Winter treat knows nothing! You have moist cranberries floating in sea of orange juice plumped quinoa. Again, every bite delivers the flavor and the scent is just citrus-y and happy. I was so excited when I saw this combo in the sampler pack because it’s what I seek to not get into that breakfast rut. I was naughty and added just a teaspoon of mini dark chocolate chips…….it’s like having an oatmeal cookie without those disappointing raisins. Oatmeal cookies should be made like this and trust me they would sell……..makes me wonder if adding a little rice flour and honey would probably make this pouch into one pretty yummy cookie (hint, hint).
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Bowl filled with Cocomama’s Banana Cinnamon Quinoa Cereal

As if Cocomama Foods needed to add more to their breakfast or late night meal arsenal, they have come out with a brand-new product…..Crunched Out! I can’t wait to try it and from the pictures below, you can see something like Fudgy Chocolate and I see a Vanilla Nut flavor and yes, I would even put it on my coconut sorbet….eating good sometimes makes me feel guilty because for some, eating good is seen as a punishment. Well, you are not doing it right then! Eating good is full of flavor and I eat everything but it’s just real and natural, with a mix of organic even. Real food delivers the entire fruit, grain……what gives your body energy and fuel to run on. Start your morning with Cocomama and your body will be running on happy!

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Check out Crunched Out:

  • Support Cocomama on Kickstarter-¬†https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cocomamafoods/get-crunched-out

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Stay tuned for the Crunched Out reviews and I will be releasing the crunch monster in me, it’s sort of like the kraken but I’m friendlier ūüôā

Get you Cocomama fix at:

  • On-line-¬†https://www.cocomamafoods.com/
  • Facebook-¬†https://www.facebook.com/CocomamaFoods
  • Twitter-¬†https://twitter.com/cocomamafoods
  • Linkedin-¬†http://www.linkedin.com/company/cocomama-foods?trk=fc_badge
  • Blog-¬†https://www.cocomamafoods.com/blog/

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

 

 

 

Smiley: Nature’s Bounty / Optimal Solutions Hair, Skin and Nails Gummies #Review

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I’m always a supporter of finding ways to improve my skin’s health to my hair and nails. Smiley and Nature’s Bounty sent me a free bottle of their gummies, which contain Biotin and other supplements that feed your beauty. I was also sent samples to distribute with coupon cards to give away, a few beauty related items, like a compact and nail file, plus a couple of hair bands.

What’s in it:
This is for a serving of 2 gummies with a Daily Value (DV) based on a 2,000 caloric daily intake diet.

  • Biotin– 2, 500 mg (833% of your DV) > Biotin is usually found in our intestinal’s bacteria and our bodies usually produce more naturally than what our body requires (DV). Biotin is what our cells need to be able to grow, produce Fatty Acids and aid with metabolizing fats and Amino Acids. Now, there are people who may have metabolic disorders, in which enough Biotin is not produced. You will also find people that have a issues producing enough gastric acid be low on Biotin, as patients who are elderly, people who consume alcohol and/or smoke. Another cause is a Immune System disorders. Another culprit that may make a person deficient in Biotin is consumption of egg whites in their raw form and on a daily basis (functional Avidin). Avidin is destroyed by cooking. Symptoms of a deficiency is hair loss, skin disorders to even neurological disorders like depression, fatigue, lethargy to hallucinations.
  • Vitamin C– 15 mg (25% of your DV) > Ascorbic Acid, which is the source listed has been proven to help with oxidative stress. Being that it is classified as an antioxidant, people may see benefits in cardiovascular disease to even those who suffer from inflammation. Vitamin C also helps the immune system and is a natural antihistamine, so you will also find benefits when it comes to allergies.
  • Vitamin E– 15 IU (50% of your DV) > You have probably noticed Vitamin E in many beauty products and I personally use the vitamin in oil form to hydrate and protect the skin around my eyes. Vitamin E is another antioxidant and can help with protecting lipids, neurological function, to even reducing oxidative stress.

Other Ingredients listed- Corn Syrup, Sugar, Dicalcium Phosphate, Grape juice color concentrate, Gelatin, Modified Food Starch, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Natural Strawberry flavor, Black Carrot juice color concentrate, Maltodextrin, Fractionated Coconut oil, Carnauba wax, Beeswax and Silica.

Dosage:¬†For adults, Nature’s Bounty recommends a serving of 2 gummies once or twice on a daily basis. They suggest taking them with a meal. A full size bottle comes with 80 gummies in total, so you will run short on a 30-day supply if you go beyond the minimum requirement (once daily).

The Flavor/Taste Test:
The gummies are Strawberry flavored and sweet, with almost a corn starch after-taste. Not your usually clear looking gummy but a more cloudy and waxy consistency.

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Overall Performance/Results:
I took the product until I finished the bottle and I must admit I did not like being short on a 30-day supply if I took the product twice daily (total of 4 gummies). It’s just not convenient and not a manner I usually buy or take supplements. I like the amount of Biotin and Vitamin C and E found in the blend. I found taking 1 gummy in the morning and 1 gummy in the afternoon worked best for me because 833% of a my Biotin daily value in one dose is really just going to purge out with the amount of water I tend to drink through out the day. I prefer absorbing my supplements a little through out the day versus flooding my system with higher (mega) doses. I noticed changes mostly in my nails and the growth cycle did speed up. My hair grows quickly as it is, so I could not comment there but I did not notice any significance when it came to changes in my skin. I did not have fewer or more breakouts.

A few things I did find negative when it came to this supplement was the corn syrup as first ingredient, then more sugar, to the clear window where you can see the gummies from. Vitamin C oxidizes and becomes useless when exposed to light and this is why you always see the supplement stored in dark/solid colored bottles. I know people like to view products when buying but not at the cost of potentially losing a benefit when you are seeking to better your health. I know I m not Biotin deficient and could not locate studies where a person who produces, or in our case naturally produce more than needed; needed a mega-dose on top of that to see results in skin, hair, or nails. I have been drinking more water so I know that helps with the aforementioned, and it comes at a lower cost per unit, plus you don’t get shortened on a 30-day supply there ūüôā

Price Point: 80 gummy count bottle retails for $5.79 to $7.99. I found the lower price point at Walmart, with Amazon being $0.10 more and Walgreen’s being the most expensive at $7.99.

You can save by signing-up to their Newsletter- $1.00 off coupon http://www.naturesbounty.com/signup/

You can also try the product and if it does not provide you with satisfied results; get your money back here:

I am glad I tried the gummies because I do believe in working from within to improve our outside. With the coupon and guarantee, I personally feel that it may be something you wish to try and see if you get results. It’s a win/win in my book!

To find more information on Nature’s Bounty and the above product, please visit them here:

 

I received the above product free of charge from Smiley and Nature’s Bounty/Optimal Solutions. ¬†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.

Green Mountain Creamery: Yo Yummy Yogurt Pouches #Review and Cake #Recipe

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It should be no secret by now I’m a fan of yogurt. Big time. Going with my yogurt obsession, I recently received a wonderful parcel from Green Mountain Creamery. It was boxes filled with their Yo Yummy pouches, a product geared primarily towards kids. That does not mean an adult can’t indulge. We don’t have kids, and I have tried to like yogurt that comes in squeeze containers but most brands are watery, almost slimy in texture and then loaded with sugar. The last thing you taste is the fruit and I can see why some kids prefer these types of products in a frozen state. You at least can try to get past the texture problem but then again are left with a cube of frozen sugar and colors. Not Yo Yummy!

Yo Yummy, is finally a yogurt “pouch” product that can be squeezed out and still resembles what is suppose to be: delicious, creamy yogurt. Not filled with sugars and dyes, just flavorful yogurt.

Yo Yummy actually has 10% less sugar than the national leading brands and many benefits that separate this brand from others:

  • Gluten-Free
  • Added Vitamin A and Vitamin D
  • No Artificial Colors/dyes
  • No Artificial Flavors
  • No Preservatives
  • Good Source of Calcium
  • Kosher
  • Milk derived from Non-RBST treated cows
  • Made in Vermont, U.S.A.
  • and packed in a BPA free pouch

It’s R-E-A-L yogurt for everyone!

I looked into Green Mountain Creamery when I saw their yogurt cups at Sprout’s Market. The flavors were tempting and after I had just one cup of their Maple flavor….I was hooked!

Yo Yummy comes in 4 flavors for you to fall in love with and all are only 90 calories:

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Mixed Berry– A blend of actual real berries and not just a touch of it. You taste the full berry explosion of raspberry, blueberry, and Ssrawberry. The ingredients list these as purees and you really get that when you eat Yo Yummy. It’s a texture of yogurt where you still see the fruit, so each bite (or squeeze in this case) can taste different. We enjoyed this one greatly and I liked that I was left satisfied with just one pouch!

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Strawberry Banana– My Husband is not a banana eater (I know, how sad) but I squeezed this flavor until I ran out of pouches! I enjoyed it every morning over granola and when I found strawberries on sale, added banana slices to my granola…..oh my! I was in a Straw-nana heaven with this yogurt. This Yo Yummy blend is just like the others where they use real fruit purees and you taste it until you are squeezing every last drop out. I got good with my technique by day 3, in not letting one squeeze go to waste ūüôā

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Strawberry– All I can say it tastes like you took fresh strawberries and just pureed them. That is the other thing, the freshness in their flavors have no match to what is on the market today. Yo Yummy uses premium products and fruit at their peak of freshness and taste because it transfers so well to your taste buds. Just like if you bit into a strawberry and yogurt parfait! Yes, you must make this one into a parfait. My Husband and I voted this flavor #1 and I admit I did not dive heavily into it because I wanted to leave it for him to enjoy. He enjoyed a pouch every morning until it was gone.

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Cotton Candy– I was skeptical because I like (not love) cotton candy but never had the flavor in yogurt form. Being that Green Mountain Creamery is wholesome and fills their yogurt cups and pouches with real fruit…..I wondered if there was a cotton candy bush I had no idea existed. I did not question the cotton candy’s bush existence after I had one taste of this pouch. Think of a sweet cream and almost a touch of strawberry when eating this flavor. There is a hint of sweetness but it does not overwhelm your palette so I decided to take this flavor a notch up by making a cake! ¬†Yo Yummy will also be coming out soon with grape and sour cherry flavors. I can’t wait!

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Yup, let’s have fun and with this Spring weather, a happy cake can be made with the cotton candy flavor or any of the Yo Yummy pouches. Just 25-30 minutes in the oven and each pouch fills one ramekin. Only three ingredients needed, so let’s get started-

Yo Yummy Cotton Candy Speckled Cake (think confetti)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Get one small (individual size) ramekin (greased- you can use cooking spray or even Coconut Oil)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Yo Yummy Cotton Candy pouch
  • 1/8 of a cup of all-purpose flour (you can use Rice Flour if you wish)
  • 1 teaspoon of confetti sprinkles
  • 1 strawberry (if desired) and a dash of powder sugar for decor purposes ūüôā

Take the Yo Yummy pouch and empty it into a bowl

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Add the flour and if you wish a fluffier cake, add a dash of baking soda (1/4 teaspoon)

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Mix

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Once incorporated, add the confetti sprinkles and mix quickly and then fill the greased ramekin.

Put ramekin in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Check cake if done with toothpick and it will be dense like a pudding cake but a toothpick should come out clean when checking.

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Allow cake to cool (if you have patience) and you can personalize these as you wish. You can eat it as is or add a scoop of ice cream. I found fresh strawberries on sale an added one on top with a dusting of powder sugar. It’s a happy cake and each person can make their own to suit their taste buds. Try it with the other Yo Yummy flavors and even your own mix-ins. Enjoy!

Visit Green Mountain Creamery and Yo Yummy at:

  • Green Mountain Creamery-¬†http://greenmountaincreamery.com/
  • Yo Yummy-¬†http://yoyummykids.com/
  • On FaceBook-¬†https://www.facebook.com/GreenMountainCreamery
  • On Twitter-¬†https://twitter.com/grnmtncreamery
  • Via Pinterest-¬†http://www.pinterest.com/gmcyoyummy/

Also, save with these generous coupons:

  • Easy to print savings-¬†http://yoyummykids.com/coupons-and-offers

 

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I received the above product free of charge from Green Mountain Creamery.  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.

Bolthouse Farms Review: 100% Carrot Juice made into a Hearty Soup #MeatlessMonday #GlutenFree

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I first tried Bolthouse many years ago and then became reintroduced to the brand when I visited my local Costco. The “samplings” got me and of course I then had to usher my husband over and he became a fan too. Recently the wonderful company sent me 4 bottles to try and I am in love with the one I had the least expectations on. I love carrots but it’s usually the vegetable that acts as a filler in every vegetable medley I purchase, that I started to take it for granted. I tasted the juice and learned that not all carrots are created equal. My carrots from the baby to the large are missing the Bolthouse touch! The sweetness is unbelievable but not derived from sugar or some unholy syrup…..just the carrot. I know the bottle in the front stated clearly 100% Carrot Juice but I still flipped the thing around looking for further contents and then saw the ingredient list: Carrot!

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I stopped drinking bottled vegetable juices because most taste like they took the oldest and not so prime vegetables to create the juice, and like a bad grape makes a bad wine, bad veggies make horrific juices! I should not have to pinch my nose to drink something that is suppose to be healthy and good for me, to then have it repeat on me after…..sort of like, “surprise, you pinched your nose, but here I come, back so you can taste my awfulness!”. Bolthouse juices have none of that. They are good from the blends to just the plain ones like this 100% Carrot juice.

Being that today was #MeatlessMonday, I looked at my left-overs and got creative. I have diced plum tomatoes, wild rice, and some Thyme left over from the crackers I baked. It’s the last real cold day we will have in California this week, so I want to make the most of it!

Let’s Begin….

Soup Base (great portion for Lunch Time):
1/4 a cup of Bolthouse’s 100%Carrot Juice
1/4 a cup of canned Diced Tomatoes. I used Plum Tomatoes that have been canned with Basil (unsalted)
Fresh Thyme
Smoked Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional- Dash of Oregano before serving

I put the above all together in a pot and just bring it to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Once it’s done, I paired it with the Herby Cheese Crackers I baked. ¬†You can find my Herby Cheese crackers recipe here: http://wp.me/p2B5Rd-Dh

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Now, for dinner, I wanted something a little more hearty. I used the above soup base but went up to 1/2 a cup of the 100% Carrot Juice from Bolthouse and 1/2 a cup of the Tomatoes. I added 1/2 a pat of unsalted butter, smoked salt and pepper medley to taste, and a dash of oregano. Let that come to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

I had some left-over wild rice I made over the weekend and added 1/4 cup to the soup base, along with 4 ounces of diced fresh zucchini. I brought that back up to a simmer and cooked it until the zucchini was the texture I desired. To serve, I added some parmesan cheese and a few of the crackers I baked earlier. Done! You can get creative by using wheat pasta, fresh kale to any vegetables that need attention from fresh to even frozen ones. A Meatless Monday meal that takes 10 to 12 minutes to make and is not only filling but delicious! Enjoy!

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

Next time, I will be reviewing the juices from 100% Pomegrante juice to Multi-V Goodness Smoothie.

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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.

Bob’s Red Mill: Herby Cheese Crackers made with Rice Flour, Gluten Free #MeatlessMonday

DSCN4421 Going with my Meatless-Monday dish, I decided to pair up my soup with a nice Gluten Free option, Herby Cheese Crackers. I used a mix of Gouda and Parmesan, however I have made these with a white cheddar cheese and plain sharp cheddar varieties. The cracker’s texture will vary by the cheese you use! I make sure to stick to a good quality cheese because the recipe only requires 2 ounces and I have had unpleasant experiences when a cheap cheese (this is not always connected by what you pay) that has oozed tons of oils and fats. No one wants an oily cracker….I want flaky with a nice crumble. Let’s Begin!

Dough:

  • 2 Ounces of grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese or a cheese that has a close enough moisture content. You can use a semi-soft and pair it with a freshly grated harder cheese too. Allow the cheese to come to room temperature (after you grated).
  • 2 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Rice Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon of herbs (I mixed dried herbs with fresh)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (taste your cheese to measure saltiness before adding salt)
  • *Optional- You can add Red Pepper Flakes, Smoked Paprika even a dash of Cayenne Pepper. You can also crumble pre-cooked bacon or pancetta to change the flavors.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the Rice Flour, baking soda and herbs. I used dried parsley, thyme, tarragon and oregano. My plants have been blooming well in this mild Winter we have been having in California, so I used some fresh sage and thyme to make a 1 teaspoon’s worth with the dried herbs. Add your salt and pepper. I used a smoked salt for additional flavor and a pepper medley variety. I also included (optional) a dash of smoked paprika, a dash of red pepper flakes and also a small dash of cayenne to give the crackers some kick.

In another bowl, grate your cheese. I used a semi-soft gouda and a grated hard cheese variety of mixed parmesan and romano. DSCN4382 Add the cheese to your flour mixture and then incorporate the softened unsalted butter to the mix. I do not want to smell crackers on my hands all day so I use a glove to pretty much make a ball. Want a different way? Cream the butter and cheese in your with your mixer and add the flour mixture after. If the mix seems dry, add a 1/2 teaspoon of water. You do not want a super moist dough as this dough will rest and re hydrate in the fridge, plus we are making crackers and not bread. I usually rarely add water and just keep gathering the crumbs around until they play nice ūüôā DSCN4383 DSCN4388 Using plastic wrap, create a log that is almost 11 inches long. You can decide how large you want the crackers but since I want to have mine swim in my soup, I always go small. DSCN4390 The log can be shaped and in this case I used the assistance of a wooden chopstick to make a crease, which will then help me work these into a heart shape. You can just go square or even round….or we can also have fun and create and abstract shape!

Allow the dough to rest in the fridge 20-30 minutes if you need to shape after, or 40 minutes if you will be just slicing and baking. Heat your oven 350 degrees. Take the dough out and you can I usually slice half a log and return the other half to the fridge while the first batch bakes.  I used the chop-stick to help refine the heart shape too.

Bake the crackers for about 10 minutes and then cool. DSCN4409   You then bake the other half and these go great with soup, salads, or just by themselves. Enjoy!

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DSCN4154 I received the above product free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill. ¬†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.

Bob’s Red Mill: Gluten Free Zucchini Fries made with Rice Flour and Pecorino Romano & Parmesan Cheese

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With the Big Game taking place this weekend, I wanted to try making a recipe that was not just healthier, but tasting delicious was a must. I started from scratch and this is my first time working with Rice Flour. My oven also decided to die on Wednesday (he needs a new igniter) and of course the part is on back-order and it won’t be fixed until the middle of next week, so this girl needs to find a way to still celebrate this weekend!

I started by cutting raw zucchini into sticks to resemble fries. Since I was experimenting, I used half of a zucchini because this was a large sized one to begin with. I poured buttermilk and allowed the vegetable to soak for about 30 minutes. I then mixed the ingredients for the batter.

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Soak 1/2 to 1 Zucchini in buttermilk for about 20 to 30 minutes. I used about 1/2 a cup of buttermilk.

Coating/Batter:
1/4 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Rice Flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon of Pecorino Romano & Parmesan cheese blend (you may use any grated hard cheese)
Smoked Salt (to taste)
Pepper Medley (to taste)
Dash of Parsley Flakes
Dash of Cayenne Pepper

You simply take the above ingredients and mix until incorporated.

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I then took the french fry style zucchini sticks and simply coated them until they were nicely covered.

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While I coated the rest of the zucchini, I started to warm the oil (I used Peanut oil but you can use any oil that suits you best). Once the oil reached a 375 degree temperature, I began to fry. You will notice that the amount of oil needed is not much and these begin to brown almost instantly.

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Like, within 30 seconds you will notice color change so be ready to flip. The rice flour cooks up to a nice golden brown and because the cooking time is quick, this not only a easy recipe to make but the vegetable does not get soggy or mushy in texture. You get crisp and light fries you can enjoy. You may serve with ranch or even a light marinara, or just as is with a dash of flake salt and black pepper.

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Try the above with onion petals and you can mix it up ūüôā For a fun way to serve, I used a sheet of parchment paper and made a cone. Cut the top with one of those decorative scissors that leave a pretty edge (or just swag up and down when cutting). I then stapled the end because tape does not stick to parchment paper. Cheap and an easy was to give them that classic “Pomme Frites”!

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Enjoy your weekend!

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I received the above product free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill. 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: The Honest Kitchen FORCE Dehydrated Dog Food

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Our mutt is the type of dog that finds the cheapest toys the most fun to play with but when it comes to food, she is offended by the oddest of things. Actually gives me that face questioning if I am serious about her eating something she is particularly not fond of (at that second) and then comes the waiting game. I try to wait until she eats it and she waits until something else (better) is served. I have seen this dog eat a Flaming Hot Cheeto (extra hot edition), so she does not convince me she has some kind of “refined” palette after she ate that! I also find her liking raw carrots one day and not the next, so this is her plan to drive me crazy. I don’t appreciate how she acted like they were radiated and left me a exploded carrot by her dish as a sign of protest!

In comes Force, a dehydrated whole foods product by The Honest Kitchen. First thing that catches me eye, it states “Human Grade” on the package. Okay, I’m not even sure everything I eat is such a grade so this definitely is the dog one upping me! The flavor sounds more like a dish you order, Free-Range Chicken with Vegetables and Fruit (grain-free). Makes my all-beef hot dog I had for dinner not so special now, even though I opted for spicy brown mustard ūüôā You have other details like a Guaranteed Analysis disclosure, which let’s you know the crude protein, fat, fiber to even caloric count. The food is made in an FDA inspected facility! So, this is all good but does the Cheeto Bandit approve?

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Simple Preparation:
I added Organic Low-Sodium beef broth I had left over from making stuffing to the dehydrated food. Think instant oatmeal for dogs when preparing this dish for your pet. The food actually smells like chicken and contains potatoes, celery, sweet potato, apples, organic alfalfa to even organic flax seed and herbs like basil and rosemary. You mix the package with 1/3 of a cup of warm water (foo-foo broth in my case), wait about 5 minutes and serve. The food absorbs the liquid and you do not even need to stir, so no need to walk in with the “dog’s spoon” that must be put in the dishwasher ASAP.

Mutt Approved:
I did the above and served it. The pooch inspected and sniffed and then wagged. If she wags while eating and looks back but continues eating, that means it’s a “Yay”. If she sniffs, looks back and then comes over and looks at your hands to see if you got anything else to offer the Dog Goddess, it’s a “Nay”. The goddess approved and I did not get my paws checked for other offerings. She ate it all and cleaned her bowl better than my dishwasher cleans that last glass in the corner!

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I thought the idea of making my own wet food for my dog would be……well, icky but this is not only a Honest Kitchen product but a clean one. It’s simple and easier than making a cup of soup in the microwave, and that means no microwave is needed and no mixing required. She loved it and the ingredients are remarkable. Force loves their furry consumers more than some companies like us humans! You can also opt to serve the product alone or as a topper for their kibble, so you can skip on adding any liquid. I also like that 10 pounds of Force food makes 40 pounds of fresh food! Force products are also GMO free, Gluten free and produced in the USA by a family owned and operated business.

Connect with Force at:

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I received the above product from Swaggable and Force, free of charge. I am not obligated in providing positive/favorable feedback, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the brand and/or it’s products, which may differ from yours.

Arbonne Essentials Protein Shake in Chocolate and Vanilla Review

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I recently had a chance to try a few different products from the Arbonne Essentials. I thought I’d share my experiences with you.

The first product I tried was the Arbonne Protein Shake Mix. I will say that, thanks to Hubby, I have been able to try a wealth of different protein powder shakes from almost every major brand out there. So he was my “taste buddy” on this little trial run as well.

A few things about Arbonne Essentials before we go any further. They strive to “keep it simple”, keep it healthy, and to make “good for you” products that are free from artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, cholesterol, trans fats, and 100% animal product free. These are vegan products, and they take that seriously. They have a very comprehensive line of products to address a multitude of needs.

So, back to the shake. I got to try chocolate (Our favorite flavor for EVERYTHING!) and vanilla. We tried to read on the package what the ingredients were, what the nutritional breakdown was, stuff like that. Nothing to really be found. Okay. Let’s look at the pamphlet that came with it. That tells me that it’s “pea protein” blend, 20 grams of it. It’s gluten free. It has coenzyme Q10, alfalfa, ginseng, and flax seed. Unless that doubles as an ingredient list, I have no idea what else is in there. That’s a little…frustrating. I tear into it and I’m immediately hit with a smell that I most closely identify with….latex paint?!? That can’t be right. We dip our respective fingers in and give the dry power a little taste. “Not chocolate” says Hubby. There’s a very strong vegetable flavor that immediately overpowers any hint of chocolate that might be there. Okay, well, it’s dry. You’re not supposed to taste it dry, so let’s add the requisite water and let the flavors bloom. I notice right away there’s A LOT of powder. Hubby’s go-to protein powder has been Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey powder, and for comparison purposes, it’s a much smaller scoop. He has a few different shaker bottles, so we select his best big one and give it the old “30-second shake up”. There’s chunks of goo everywhere. So Hubby shakes some more, and with great vigor this time. No luck. It’s a chunky mess. Well, sometimes it helps to sit in the fridge a bit and let the particles super-saturate and help the process. So sit it shall.

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After an hour, we take it out, noticing that it’s started to separate a bit, but after a couple of shakes it’s still kinda gloopy. Hubby gamely offers that he’s “had worse” and goes in for a taste. He immediately tells me it’s got a very chalk-like consistency and it’s kinda gritty. There’s a very strong veggie taste, even pepper-ish, and the aftertaste that remained as “horrible”. The smell is still off, but I will myself to give it a go and I regret it almost immediately. He’s right, something is off. I really can’t taste any chocolate, but it’s closer to a malted V8. Hubby gamely goes back for more, and after 3 sips, he says he can’t finish it. Just so you know, I’ve seen this man chug things that would choke a billy goat, all in the name of fitness. For him to tell me he can’t finish is shocking to me. I open up the vanilla and smell the same “latex paint” smell from before and I’m not even going to torture ourselves and go through this again. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t even mix it.

I have to wonder if there was something off about the samples I received. For company to be so high on their products that they send out samples like this tells me there must be something there, and hopefully this was just an anomaly.

I also got a chance to try their Energy Fizz Sticks, but that is for another post! =D

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

 

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