Nature’s Eats: Butterscotch and Almond Cheesecake Bars #NaturesEats #Tryazon

 

 

Lets Begin………….

Butterscotch and Almond Cheesecake Bars

  • Dry Ingredients:
    1 cup of Oats (Instant/Quick cooked)
    1 cup of White Whole Wheat Flour
    1 cup of Blanched Almond Flour by Nature’s Eats
    1/2 cup of All Purpose Flour
    1/4 tsp of Salt
    1/2 tsp of Baking Soda
    1/2 tsp of Baking Powder

 

  • Wet Ingredients:
    7 ounces melted Unsalted Butter (melted)
    1 1/4 cup of Butterscotch Chips
    3/4 cup of Brown Sugar
    1 Large Egg

 

  • Filling:
    16 ounces of Cream Cheese (softened)
    1/8 tsp of Almond Extract
    1/2 tsp of Vanilla Extract
    1/4 cup of White Sugar
    1/8 cup of All Purpose Flour
    1 Large Egg

Drizzle (optional): 1/4 cup of Extra Dark Chocolate melted. Takes about 15 seconds and I use the stove top and I add heat, take the pan off to stir, add pan back and then again stir until just melted. It is my way to avoid burning the chocolate.

You begin by using 3 bowls to mix the above ingredients. You start with the first bowl and incorporate all the flours, baking powder and soda, plus the salt. Set aside. The second bowl, you mix the melted butter, butterscotch chips and the brown sugar. You have the option to melt everything together over a stove top or you can easily microwave the ingredients by using 20 second intervals and mixing in between. The chips may not completely melt (1/4 left intact) and that is perfectly fine. Wait for the wet ingredients to cool off a bit before incorporating the egg. Set aside. The third bowl is for the filling. You incorporate the softened cream cheese with the rest of the ingredients and make sure to whisk until smooth.

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  • Assembly-

Start the oven and I baked the bars at 350 degrees in convection mode. I sprayed a glass pan with nonstick spray and I used a rectangular dish that measures 11 x 7 inches and you can easily use a larger dish for less thicker bars.

You add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix until everything is well incorporated. 3/4 of the mixed bar batter goes on the bottom to create an even layer. I use a spatula to smooth it out and press it down a touch. Next comes the filling. You simply spread out the filling to create an even layer. The top layer is the 1/4 amount of the bar batter that remains. I crumble that on top because I do not want to smash or disrupt the middle cream cheese layer. By now the oven usually has reached temperature and in go the bars until baked. This takes between 28 to 35 minutes. Worried the top is over browning? Just add foil on top until the bars are fully baked and I use a toothpick to make sure the bar batter would not stick. You may get a smear of cream cheese but realize you don’t want to over bake the bars. Allow the bars to cool and then you can put them in the fridge. I gave them 4 hours to fully cool and you can even leave them in overnight. Drizzle time!! I cut the bars and find they cut flawlessly when cooled all the way. I tend to cut the bars in different sizes so guests can pick the size they desire. I then melt chocolate and I melted about 1/4 of a cup of Extra Dark Chocolate (Bittersweet). I like the more stronger notes against the sweeter ones the butterscotch tends to give. You can drizzle whatever you want from caramel, white chocolate or semi-sweet. Drizzling on cold cut bars allows the chocolate to harden quick too. I returned the bars to the fridge (uncovered) and within 20 minutes it was set. I then covered the bars in plastic and put them back in the fridge until serving.

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Options: You can add to the filling anything from nuts to dry cranberries, apricots, blueberries to fit any season/occasion. A fruit medley can even be added to give it that full autumn feel. Even though pumpkin everything is hitting the store shelves, we are set for a heat wave in Southern California. This was a pre-Fall treat that is not fully embracing the season because the weather has not gotten the memo! Let’s say I am easing into Autumn and hopefully the weather will too.

Enjoy!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Nature’s Eats and Tryazon. 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.

Social Nature: Kim’s Simple Meals, Organic and Gluten-Free Homestyle Burger #Review

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I celebrate Meatless Mondays, so I am always seeking out meat alternatives being that I do enjoy meat on other days. My goal is always to get 3 days out of the week where my protein source comes from anything else but an animal. This means I have had many hits and sadly many misses. My Husband is a carnivore and there is no bringing him to the lighter side of meatless meals, so I need something that is easy to prepare while I am making two different dinners in one evening. I am all for working and cooking, if the product delivers in texture and taste,

I had seen Kim’s Simple Meals at my local Sprout’s Farmers Market, but it seems the stock never moved. The boxes even began to gather dust, so when I received the invite to try the first of two, of the Kim’s Simple Meals…..I must admit my feelings were mixed. I looked at reviews and Amazon had a 50/50 ratio when it came to positive versus negative reviews. It took a while to get the coupon for the free product, and in that time Amazon dropped all the products and just carried the Breakfast Sausage from Kim’s Simple Meals. Sprout’s continued to support the brand and when the coupon arrived, finding it was a cinch.

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Kim’s Simple Meals differs from other products like it. So many use soy protein heavily and artificial boosters to gather a protein number worthy of advertising. Kim’s Simple Meals are Gluten-Free and Vegan Friendly, so no animal anything in this. Ingredients are also Organic, Kosher and Non-GMO friendly. Then there is other factors like these burgers being Dairy-Free. Lot’s of “free from” products and I worried if this meant free from flavor or even texture. The box states burger, so I expect a burger-like product.

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Ingredients: Oats*, garbanzo bean flour*, flax seed*, yeast flakes* (yeast autolysate* with rice flour* and sea salt), sea salt, tamari powder* [(soybeans*, salt), maltodextrin*, and salt], garlic powder*, spices*, onion powder*, dutched cocoa powder*, tomato powder*, natural smoked torula yeast, natural hickory smoke flavor [potato maltodextrin, natural hickory smoke flavoring, hydrated silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent). *Organic  .  Soy ingredients is listed and I noticed it comes from the Tamari Powder.

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Verdict:
As you can see, this is not a soy filled product that can sometimes cause bloat and discomfort. Yes, you fill full but also uncomfortable. You have oats and a bean as a source of protein listed first. Next, comes other ingredients to even cocoa powder! Everything is familiar and real when it comes to the ingredients I recognize. The idea is just to hydrate the product and then make your burgers. Pretty simple. I notice water was listed and you can add ingredients to both add flavor and texture to the product. The biggest complaints I saw when it came to other reviews, was the lack of flavor and to the product being high in oats. Upon opening the box, I do agree the oats visible is higher than I desire. The video on Kim’s Simple Meals website, shows burgers being made with mushrooms, plus onions and other ingredients. You can even add walnuts it states. Barbecue sauce was another addition I saw too. So, I began to look at Kim’s Simple Meals as “starter meals”. I am not new to this method and think of quick bread boxes to even “starter sauces” you pick-up at the store. Same idea. I added red and green bell peppers, red and yellow onion, plus a medley of mushrooms. I even grated some carrots, added Edamame and I went more with an Asian style base versus an American style Burger. For me, the mix was already very far away from a Veggie Burger you get at the store or are familiar with, so why push the product into something it does not even resemble? I added a soy sauce and miso mix to create a hydrating base (water) that would not only plump the ingredients, but also add flavor. Everything was sauteed first and I then lastly added the Home-style Burger base from Kim’s Simple Meals. Okay, it smelled pleasant. I opted for small meatballs in the oven that I basted with Soy Vay, a marinade/stir fry sauce mixed with sesame oil. The house quickly filled with these smell of these Asian style meatballs and it smelled good. I basted a total of 3 times and this made the meatball move around, so it created a nice round shape versus a one-sided flat meatball. The oil allowed for a crisp exterior to build up when it was baking, and using the convection mode and baking on parchment paper, made the cooking process an easy clean up. The taste test? Well, they tasted very good and have a meaty/oatsy texture. I could not imagine using the box’s contents as-is. Like no way! It’s workable but I have to be frank, this was a boxed meal that I fixed up and these are ingredients I always have in hand, so it’s a great way to use up perishables but I am unsure if I would seek Kim’s Simple Meals burger box again. I found myself not craving it and I consider that a test when it comes liking a product. Yes, I made it work but should a product be worked up so much that it no longer resembles it’s beginning….because in the first place you read it never would? Probably not. It’s a start like I said and it’s a meal from a box that is better ingredient wise than others, but not exactly a yummy Home-style burger like it says on the box.

Connect with Kim’s Simple Meals at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Kim’s Simple Meals and Social Nature. 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® Advanced Ready to Drink Shake in Vanilla flavor
  • SlimFast® Advanced Nutrition 100 Calorie Snacks in Sour Cream & Onion Baked Crisps flavor
  • SlimFast® Advanced Nutrition Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Meal Replacement Bars
  • SlimFast® 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.  😦

 

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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.

 

Chobani Vanilla Golden Crunch Flip

Flipping back to Flip Country and I bring you Chobani’s Vanilla Golden Crunch Flip. Called a Flip because you flip nutritious “goodies” from one cup to the bigger yogurt cup. You can then decide if you want it to be a topper or a mix-in, or a little of both. I like that you have that choice of texture that is kept fresh by keeping the ingredients separate.

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Let’s break down the cups-
The yogurt portion, which is the larger cup, is Vanilla low-fat yogurt. The “flip” is a joyful mix of cornflakes, honey oats and praline pecans! I told you it was a happy cup but you did not believe me! You also have Wildflower Honey minus the bees because they don’t always give up the golden nectar without a fight. No small detail went overlooked and even barley malt is present. That’s the stuff the gives corn flakes and shakes that extra oh so good flavor.

The Verdict-
This Flip remains at 150 calories and only 15 from fat. Twelve grams of Protein to get you going and 15% in Calcium.

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The Flavor-
Don’t let the Vanilla fool you in thinking this is a dull cup…….think Parfait. You have the pudding and the “crunchies” as I call them, bring that pudding alive. Who wants a bowl of corn flakes and milk, now that’s a soggy bore because I have Praline Pecans and my flakes don’t go floppy! That just changed the whole bowl for me and mine may be square but with Flips now on the block, square is in. Where have you been? Oh, you better be at the store….no the dairy aisle not where boring-o milk is nearby the eggs. You don’t want to get me started on eggs now 🙂

The Ingredients-
Nonfat Yogurt (cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, Live And Active Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus And L. Casei), Oats, Evaporated Cane Juice, Milled Corn, Wildflower Honey, Sugar, Canola Oil, Pecans, Salt, Barley Malt, Vanilla Extract, Locust Bean Gum, Butter.

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

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