#MomsMeet: LightLife Plant-Based Burgers #Review #Sponsored

​​I received these product(s) free of charge from LightLife and MomsMeet. 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.

 

As many of us have seen an uptick on plant based meats, many companies have hit the market with their version of the burger.  Some have failed miserably in the past, rather others just keep adding more and more selections to their meatless options to broaden your weekly menu.  I am okay with a veggie burger as long as it tries not to pretend it is meat, so to me it is a veggie patty per say.  Now, when a company claims a burger substitute that is as good as the moo-ing thing, I definitely change my expectations.

In comes LightLife, with their new plant-based burger.  They start with 20 grams of protein per serving.  No fillers and it is 100% plant based.  This means no soy, gluten free, no GMOs, zero artificial flavors, and is even qualified to be a Kosher product.  You also get zero cholesterol and the saturated fat is just 2.5 grams in a 1/4 pound patty.  Lots of zeros where we want them but does that also go for taste?

LightLife was founded in 1979, so they have been part of the plant based foods before it became the “trending” thing to do.  I felt that was a good start and worth the leap to try and see for myself if LightLife burgers can actually deliver a good tasting burger that is not just okay for pretending.  We opted to treat the burgers like we would our predecessors, so we grilled it.  Let us give it the chance from the get go and I am not going to give this patty any special treatment.  The patty grilled and held up with zero issues.  Again, another zero that lands in the right category.   No sticking, did not fall apart and did not overly shrink up either.  I went with just a simple salt and pepper seasoning because I wanted to taste the patty as close to how it is.  LightLife burgers are seasoned and the pea protein gets mixed with coconut oil, sea salt, beet and garlic powder.  I went light on the salt but because I like a nice crust on my burger, I did give it a generous amount of freshly cracked pepper.  Went it came to dressing up my burger, I went with a smoked cheddar, which is thinly sliced and just a smidgen of mayonnaise and some pickles.  I even had my salad on the side, so no lettuce to drown my burger flavor.

Verdict:
Smells good and “burgery”.  Nice grill marks and it looks appetizing.  When making my burger, the patty was not flimsy or like cardboard, just like a regular beef patty.  It even has a meaty smell to it that quickly makes your mind think, “grilled beef…..mmmmmmm.”  First bite has a nice chew and I do not taste peas or anything vegetable like at all.  This patty does not taste 100% beef if we are using that as the marker (makes sense right), but it tastes like a patty that is mixed with beef and pork.  I kind of like that because I add pork to meatloaf and other applications, even when beef is the majority in the mix.  I actually see myself buying LightLife and making it part of my weekly meals.  Yeah, I liked it that much.  It may not taste 100% cow but that is what drew me in the most.  They definitely hit the mark in the meat notes and if you want a plant based patty (hard to believe with how good it tastes) that does not taste or have an odd and off texture, I seriously recommend you give LightLife a try.  My only complaint is that finding the burger patty is a bit hard as it sells out and I tried two Sprout’s and a Albertsons, but call ahead and ask and most stores are kind enough to hold how many containers you want.  I did try the “ground beef” and made that into a taco salad because hey, I enjoy LightLife and wanted to see how the texture was if I was cooking it like I do ground beef.  Again, it succeeded but I recommend a nonstick surface, as it allows the plant based mince to get a crust and brown like you expect beef to do so.  I did use a stainless steel pan the first time but found I needed more oils/fats to get the desired texture.  A ceramic coated cast iron or a nonstick pan gave me the results in the same amount of time (about 6 to 8 minutes) to get the browning I was looking for.

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MomsMeet: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal Cups #Review #BobsRedMill

 

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As the days grow colder, like everyone, I tend to seek out warmer meals and this includes at breakfast time. I consume oatmeal through out the year and my way to change my selection, is by adding seasonal fruit to the cup. This way my cups change and I get to enjoy what the seasons have to offer. What can I say? Oatmeal can get boring as much as my granola does and let’s be honest, this is why I view granola as cold oatmeal! Adding dried fruits, nuts, seeds to even a dollop of yogurt can brighten up a cup on any day.

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I have been a fan of Bob’s Red Mill for years. They just never fail me. I started first by buying their flour decades ago and then as they released more and including meals (i.e. nut flours), I was happy to see them reach the west coast. It’s kind of nice not having to order online all the time and when places like Target started supported the brand….heck, I am thrilled.

 

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I was recently part of the Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal Cups campaign from MomsMeet. They were kind and generous to send out samples to try and share and like the signature that runs so true to Bob’s Red Mill, they included additional products to share. Love them! Such a giving company and please take a moment to read about the company on their website, you will fall in love with how they treat their employees. There is true pride and respect for the products they make for us. The other part that I have enjoyed being a Bob’s Red Mill fanatic, is they eat like I do. This adding chia seeds to flax seeds to enhance not only your taste buds but your nutrition is something I learned from them. Yes, they taught me to care more about what I eat and always made it easy for me from offering flax seed both whole and in milled form. No excuses in being able to eat better!

 

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The Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal Cups kit included:

 

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Verdict:
The Oatmeal cups are phenomenal. You can use the microwave direction or the add hot water to the cup one. I have been using a mix of nut milks and water to enhance the flavor and not that the cups lack taste, but I sometimes seek a richer background on those colder mornings. All the ingredients are real and clean, no fillers and even making sure to use gluten free oats. The Nutritional Boosters that you can also add are the protein powders to create a morning power meal. You can even go with the unflavored blend they offer online or why not start your morning with some chocolate. It’s is like having a hot cocoa and oatmeal in one cup and it is actually good for you. I make the “Choco-Monkey” blend with the classic oatmeal cup, a spoonful of Chocolate Protein powder, almond milk with water as the fluid, then after heating I add chopped bananas and walnuts with a spoonful of peanut butter in the center. It’s almost like a molten lava cake with that gooey peanut butter center and I feel sinful eating it because oatmeal never tasted this good. My guilt vanishes when I start adding up the protein and it turns out to be a cup filled with healthy nutrition. Eating well goes beyond opening a mealy tasting bar and going out the door in the mornings. The Bob’s Red Mill cups come with tops, so if you have time to pick up a latte, you have time (3 minutes) to give yourself a few microwave seconds to eat the cups as they come or enhance them to your liking. You are worth it and your family will join in because things that taste good don’t get questioned. They just make smiles 🙂

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Connect with the wonderful crew at Bob’s Red Mill at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill and MomsMeet. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

SunRype: The NEW Fruit & Chia Bars and just released Energy Bars #Review

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SunRype, makes bars for consumers that want other options than the soy loaded and artificial sweetener filled bars, you see in so many products of this kind today. I want real food and this goes for when I need a pick-me up snack to even a replacement meal. My Husband has soy sensitivity and I want a bar we can both share and eat. We usually even split an energy bar when we are running errands and the last thing I want to do, is say you can’t have this one. The bars are gluten free and even though we do not have a sensitivity or allergy to gluten, we like to not always eat the same ingredients with every meal. When SunRype approached me about reviewing their 4 most recent bars, I looked into the company and liked how they stated things like “100% Fruit Snacks”, “Simple Ingredients”, to words in the ingredients list that you can pronounce…….so a bar I can actually trust!

I was sent the following varieties from two of SunRype’s newest collections:

Fruit & Chia in Mango Twist
Fruit & Chia in Apple Cinnamon
Energy in Chocolate Coconut
Energy in Raspberry Chocolate

Verdict:

Taste matters because I love fruits and vegetables, and never understood why others did not until I tasted some bars on the market. Any real fruit was annihilated and I probably would feel the same if my introduction to certain fruit bars began that way. SunRype, respects the fruit! The Fruit and Chia bars are like the breakfast scatters I already eat. Every Sunday, I fill a mason jar with dried fruits, seeds and nuts to eat throughout the week. It’s mixed with several flax seeds from ground to whole, dried fruits from coconut to acai berries to other ingredients like cocoa nibs and even mini dark chocolate chips because everything in moderation does not hurt, plus actually makes eating your meal an enjoyment. Ironically, I skip what I call the common filler nuts like peanuts and it’s nothing against the nut but I prefer almonds, pistachios, to walnuts and if I crave peanuts, I’ll just eat peanuts. When I read the packages on the SunRype Fruit & Chia bars, they make what I eat. Versus it being a scatter that I usually eat with yogurt or Kefir, they put it in a package I can travel with. Great for mornings I am in a hurry or dinner will be at a later time that busy day. The bars start with 100% fruit pieces and use sweeteners from the fruit itself to molasses and even brown rice syrup. You know…..real foods! It’s a whole grain bar and they use gluten free oats and brown rice flour. Each of the Fruit & Chia bars contain 800 mg of ALA Omega-3 Fatty Acids and both the Mango Twist and Apple Cinnamon bar is just 200 calories per bar. Sodium is just 50 mg and you get a nice 4 grams of protein. I avoid cinnamon anything. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the spice but most times anything with it is loaded and overpowering. Not with SunRype! The spice is a compliment and the bar resembles an apple bread I bake from scratch. The Mango is a nice break from the common flavors and has a tropical puree taste from the dried mango but because the bar contains coconut, it has a beautiful balance.

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Now, the SunRype Energy bars come with 7 grams of protein that is plant derived. SunRype, also does not hide behind proprietary blends, they list what their energy blend comes from. The main component is pea (protein), green tea extract and ginseng powder for an energy boost. I find my body not only gets a natural boost from these ingredients but I metabolize them better, so no crashing like you would have with some energy drinks. The Chocolate Coconut is 210 calories and the Raspberry Chocolate variety is just 10 calories less. Not bars that you have to punish yourself later by cutting calories from your meals. They are decent in size and more than fulfill their need by stopping hunger to even keeping you going. The Chocolate Coconut was my favorite of all 4 bars. I love coconut and SunRype did not skip on the ingredient. I not only satisfied myself with a snack but also a craving. The Raspberry Chocolate still had the tartness from the berry! Love that because it’s the whole point I go after such berries, I want what they bring from the tart to sweetness that is unique in flavor to that variety.

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All in all, this bars were a hit. They remind me of my morning scatters I enjoy, mixed with fruit leather bars I purchase at the local Framer’s Market…..SunRype just got the wonderful idea of making them both meet to make a bar that is not only nutritious, but a pleasure to have. They have a store locator for their products to even available on Amazon, so no reason to not give there treats…..I mean bars a try. 🙂

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from SunRype. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Social Nature: Kim’s Simple Meals, Organic Macaroni Casserole #Review #TryNatural

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Next on the list, is Kim’s Simple Meals and this is their Organic Macaroni Casserole. The product again is easy to make and assemble. You simply boil the pasta, which is gluten free and made from organic brown rice. You then mix the contents with water, blend and add it to the cooked elbow shaped noodles. Mix and in the oven the casserole goes. The Mac is soy free and made with GMO free ingredients. Vegan friendly and Kosher too.

Ingredients: Gluten free brown rice elbow macaroni*, oat flour*, sea salt, sugar*, dehydrated vegetables* (onion*, garlic* & tomato*), yeast powder*, natural smoke Torula yeast, annatto powder* (annatto extract*, maltodextrin*), citric acid, lemon peel powder* and natural hickory smoke powder [potato maltodextrin, natural hickory smoke flavoring, hydrated silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent)]. *Organic

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Verdict:

The instructions were simple and because I tend to like more bite in my pastas, I did not boil the noodles as long as they suggested. When I blended the “cheese sauce”, it was very watery in texture and had an odd smell that was smoky. Kim suggests you can add your own meatless based meats, like a veggie based bacon. This time I decided to just go as it comes but I can see even adding vegetables. Once the pasta was partially cooked, I added the sauce and it did not thicken. It was more like the texture of a thin juice, versus any bechamel sauce I have made to make a typical Macaroni and Cheese dish. There is no real cheese here but I did notice this box is not labeled dairy free like the burger version. Why not add milk? I have no idea and it was not listed as a suggestion. Not even a nut milk that is unsweetened was not suggested, or even soy milk if you have no issues with it. The burger box had soy…..but I went forward and was thankful walnuts were not suggested like the video shared for the home-style burgers, and no oats! The house smells like something is cooking but it’s not like any Macaroni and Cheese I have had before. Maybe a pasta kind of dish but not Mac and Cheese. It comes out of the oven and it’s like one solid mass. I noticed this in the video also, when the serving was cut. The liquid was absorbed and you still smell something smoky-ish but I could not put my finger on it. Maybe fake bacon bits and along that area. I taste it and it’s not cheese and I have eaten many cheeses in my lifetime. This pretender is more like a rice dish, where the rice is shaped like elbow pasta and a yellow sauce. The sauce creates a pasta cake but no cheese and gooey texture you associate with the original. It was not awful but definitely not super delicious. The only thing that came to mind, is it tasted like that mystery dish where the label fell off the platter, which sat in a buffet/cafeteria line. Surprise-a-Dish! If you like surprises, this may be for you and adding vegetables or other items might spruce it up and make it less surprise-ish casserole.

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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.

 

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.

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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.

 

Campbell’s® : New Campbell’s Organic Soups #Review

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As simple as soups are, they probably are one the hardest things for me to purchase off the shelf. It comes down to ingredients used and while some want the consumer to focus on caloric intake, many are just vessels loaded with sodium but no flavor and far from being healthy. I like broth but when a soup says chicken noodles, I sort of expect chicken and pasta in the container. Silly me! My Husband will usually join me and we tend to always split a can/container between us and even though I will always give him more of the noodles and poultry pieces, he will always ask me if I got enough “soup stuff” while he dips and empties his spoon, trying to ladle out the desired chunks. I just finally got tired of cans that did not deliver and started making my own. This means that a simple meal like soup…….was not so simple anymore!

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When I was offered the Organic Soups campaign from Campbell’s, I admit I could not think of the last time I actually purchased a can from the company. I never cared for the condensed version as a child, and much less as an adult. The red and white cans were everything I disliked about soup with soggy noodles, wannabe chicken bits and I never wanted to slurp the salty liquid like the kids did in the commercials. If you added the extra can of water to the soup, it was tasteless but still salty. There was no balance, so I usually went for the brand in the blue can. Now, Campbell’s is advertising Organic soups and get this, no longer in a can but a carton. No broth that tastes like metal, so I give the ever loving brand a second look. Before I received the campaign materials, I visited the website. The soups are advertised as good soups for adults and kids, with the kid versions just having shaped character pasta, but still wholesome and now made with organic derived ingredients. The carton is white and green in color and the only red is the Campbell’s brand that I’ll be honest, I would look at this carton and never imagined it was a Campbell’s product. The soups just look different and the flavors I would actually desire. I look at the list and the new Campbell’s Organic soups come in:

Chicken Noodle
Lentil
Tomato & Basil
Chicken Tortilla
Butternut Squash
Garden Vegetable

The Kid’s (and adults if they so desire) get:
Mega Noodle
Chicken Stars
and Frozen theme Chicken noodle soup with Frozen shaped character pasta

 

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The campaign materials arrive and I begin my hunt for the soups. None of my Target stores carried the soups and when I would locate them, Von’s had them priced at $3.99 a carton (when the coupon covered up to $3) and Stater Bros. had them $1.00 cheaper but also was limited in selection. I visited 2 Von’s and 3 Stater Bros. and I could never locate the Chicken Tortilla and for kids, I never found the Mega Noodle. I still was able to find my second and third choices, plus I had enough coupons to share with my group. I always like giving a sample of a product and a coupon, and thankfully Campbell’s was generous enough to let me share this way.

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Verdict:
I make the first soup, the Tomato and Basil Bisque. The soup has a vibrant red color and the texture out of the carton is perfect, not too loose or thick like a paste. The smell is pleasant and inviting. You can even pick up the sweet notes from the tomatoes and this is before warming anything up. I heat the soup and the smell is just like other Organic varieties I purchase at Trader Joe’s and Sprout’s, which is really one of the few places I can purchase “real soups” with no funny stuff, other than the times I pick up the blue colored cans at Target on sale. I taste the Organic Tomato soup and I am waiting for that off taste, the saltiness to hit me so I can make a face………but it never comes. This soup tastes, do I dare say it, like a normal good soup. I actually had to add a hint of smoked salt to the soup! I quickly add a cupful of frozen organic veggies because this new Campbell’s Organic soup is worthy of it! Yup, I never ruin good veggies beforehand because the worst is bathing vegetables in a base that is just not fixable. A little bit of cracked pepper and some cheese crumbs on top and dinner is done. Oh my goodness, I was able to make soup for dinner like a normal person! No need to make a base by cooking or braising meats, just open the carton and in 10 minutes time (with add-ons) I can eat at a good time after doing grocery shopping. I’m ecstatic and I even take the empty carton to the table and start reading it, trying to find that negative thing like high sodium, maybe sugars, okay it’s the fat, nope it has to be the calories but I find nothing. I can’t believe this is Campbell’s (sorry, Campbell’s but you have burned me in the past)! I actually like the new Campbell’s and I actually will hunt for the Chicken Tortilla version now because the Lentil was awesome and the Chicken noodle……get this, had actual chicken pieces and N-O-O-D-L-E-S!

 

Take a new look at the Organic Soups from Campbell’s at:

 

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

 

Kozy Shack: Indulgent Recipe Puddings #Review #KozyShack

Who doesn’t love puddings? I happen to be a huge fan and even make pudding based pies, cakes and treats because puddings go beyond the cup!

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BzzAgent sent me two coupons to try the new Kozy Shack Indulgent Recipe Pudding cups that come in three flavors:

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Chocolate Truffle
  • Salted Caramel
  • Vanilla Bean

 

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The new Kozy Shack Indulgent Recipe cups is making an already liked food more likable! Made with real ingredients and the recipe is very simple when it comes to easily grabbing an already made and ready to serve dessert or treat, straight from the fridge. I went out to hunt for Dark Chocolate because being a caramel lover, that flavor was already on my “must-get” list. After visiting a few stores and not finding the dark chocolate, I went with trying the Chocolate Truffle variety instead.

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  • Verdict on Chocolate Truffle:
    My family and I enjoy pudding and maybe because I make the dessert from scratch, we have been spoiled. I was left craving chocolate after trying this version. The chocolate flavor is not intense and the product is smooth, but not velvety in texture. Almost kind of like to much gelatin and/or thickener was added. I turn the package around and not only was a color an indication that there was not enough chocolate, the ingredient list reflected such (i.e. Tapioca starch before chocolate and sugar before chocolate too). I felt it was too sweet to even take a second spoonful, as did my husband, so we passed but felt the product could be saved.

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Ingredients:
Reduced Fat Milk, Sugar, Cream, Modified Tapioca Starch, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Contains Less than 2% of Natural Flavors, Salt, Carrageenan, Maltodextrin.

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Retail Price Point: From $2.76 to $3.75 at most stores. Each cup is about 200 calories per serving and each container comes with 4 individual cups.

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  • Verdict on Salted Caramel:
    This is my go to flavor from coffees, treats, baked goods, to just enjoying Fleur de Sel Caramel. We open the cup and take a taste, it’s more butterscotch than caramel and the salted versus sweetness that makes salted caramel be that buttery goodness is not present. This one again is sweeter but think of it like a vanilla butterscotch variety and then your taste buds get the idea. It may be missing the salted caramel notes, but we found it better than a pudding that says chocolate and is then lacking the key component.

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Ingredients:
Reduced Fat Milk, Cream, Brown Sugar, Modified Tapioca Starch, Contains Less than 2% of Caramel Color, Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Carrageenan, Maltodextrin.

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Final Verdict:

I don’t like to just dispose of food and especially when I see potential.  Each of these cups have about 23 grams of sugar alone and are thick in texture…….so my brain thought why not make a mug cake.  Calories wise a mug cake would be 2 servings to share and the sugar problem would not be an issue. I used 1 teaspoon of Cake flour (I use an unbleached variety) and a pinch of Baking Soda.  Combine product and start by microwaving the cup for 1 minute and then 30 second intervals until the batter begins to bubble and rise.  I kept checking because I did not want it bubbling over and it took three 30 second intervals to achieve the desired texture I wanted, something molten lava cake-ish! 🙂 Allow the cake to completely cool before enjoying and it’s not only because it’s nuclear hot but so the cake can set.  I used a stoneware based mug because it retains heat best and is microwave safe.

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The final product was not as sweet and we could enjoy the pudding cakes!  I feel the product has potential but if I want pudding as-is, I would not be indulging in this variety mainly because of it being too sugary to enjoy.  There are many Belgium chocolate based puddings that are silky and most importantly, so much chocolate that it drowns every loving taste bud! That is what I want in a pudding 🙂

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Connect with Kozy Shack at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Kozy Shack and BzzAgent.  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.

 

 

Tryazon: Ines Rosales, Sweet and Savory Tortas from Spain #InesRosales

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Tortas in every culture has a dish that bares the same name, even though it may not be identical.  In Spain, tortas de aciete are made with extra virgin olive oil and varieties range from sweet to savory, the distinction is usually made by the sweetness of the dough and the ingredients used. The Ines Rosales tortas are still made by hand and in Seville Spain. The recipe has not changed throughout the years and remains the same since 1910, with just more flavors added to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. Some people have asked me how to describe a torta from Spain and my best answer is that it’s like a pita that crumbles and flakes when enjoyed. The distinct taste is hard to describe because the sweet versions are almost cookie like in flavor, while the savory tend to lend more towards a cracker but one thing I can share, is that the Ines Rosales tortas are amazingly delicious! When something is delicious……..what more can be said than just eat it and enjoy it!

I was sent a beautiful array of tortas from Ines Rosales to share and enjoy:

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  • Original; Ingredients- Unbleached wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, anise seeds, sesame seeds, yeast, sea salt, natural anise essence.

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  • Seville Orange; Ingredients- Unbleached wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, crystallized orange from Seville, yeast, sesame seeds, sea salt, natural orange essence.

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  • Cinnamon; Ingredients- Unbleached wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, yeast, sesame seeds, ground cinnamon, sea salt, natural cinnamon essence.

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  • Sesame and Sea Salt; Ingredients- Unbleached wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil, whole wheat flour, sesame seeds, sugar, sea salt, yeast.

Now, you see tortas in aciete and you think oily. They thankfully are not and the oil is in the flavor but it’s not overwhelming and you are left with no oily residue on your hands when you are eating them, just the beautiful flaky goodness. Each torta is individually wrapped in it’s waxed paper, so makes it easy to grab and go, or even to put out for guests to enjoy. There are no rules when enjoying these tortas. Many times they are eaten as-is in place of a snack, with a dip, a coffee or even a spread or to accompany any meal. The dough used is simple but that is where the goodness lays because there are no lab created ingredients here, just real good ingredients and like any baked good, the quality of the ingredients used make the difference and it shows with Ines Rosales tortas.

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I made a Spanish/Italian (hey, I said no rules here!) theme dinner that was an array of cured meats and cheeses, plus I had 2 vegetarian guests. Ines Rosales tortas are even Vegetarian friendly, so making a counterpart dish was easy but a little of a first for me. I made a pasta-less Vegetable Lasagna. I grilled all the seasonal vegetables, from eggplants (both striped and mini varieties), Italian squash, and a sauce made from fresh tomatoes. I made the lasagna ahead and asked guests which cheese was approved beforehand because I did not want to add an ingredient that was not acceptable. I can say that making lasagnas in single serve dishes makes serving easy and especially when lasagna slices can come apart and not look appetizing. The lasagna sees none of that because you make and serve in the same dish, so these style dishes allow the host to now worry about serving guests and every dish looks as perfect as the next.

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Now, I thought my meat eaters would stay free of the veggie lasagnas but most enjoyed sharing a serving along with their tortas. The Ines Rosales tortas I used were the savory ones, the Original and Sesame with Sea Salt versions, as this was to accompany our dinner. I made spreads that were Mascarpone based and even an olive toss, that was several olive varieties with just a touch of grain mustard and a lemon based olio. Having guests pick what they want and how much by allowing them to make their own tortas, guarantees a happy host that does less, but more importantly, guests that make their dish as they wish. I purchased everything from Mortadella with Peppercorn and Pistachios, Capocollo and I even found a nice spicy version, Sopressata, Prosciutto, Salami (both peppercorn crusted and normal) to a variety of cheeses. I included Provolone, Manchego to a crumbly Feta cheese because these cheeses tend to cut the fat from the cured meats well along with the spreads. The Ines Rosales tortas have that paper wrap I mentioned and when you unwrap the torta, you can even prep it right over the wrap. It’s then easy to transfer to a plate or just enjoy right there off the wrap!

Torta with cured Meats

Ines Rosales Torta with an array of cured meats

Easy and Fast to make any dinner enjoyable!

Easy and Fast to make any dinner enjoyable!

I can share there was not one torta that was not enjoyed. The Ines Rosales cinnamon variety reminds me of a churro-like cookie to those Bunuelos I enjoyed as a child. Perfect with a cup of coffee to dipped in hot chocolate. The cinnamon used is an accent to the torta and not overwhelming. The Seville Orange is my favorite of the sweet versions. I love Valencia oranges and the orange used resembles those citrus notes. I plan to make a honey Mascarpone spread (again) and enjoy this torta in the morning. So far, I have enjoyed the Seville Orange from Ines Rosales in this manner for 3 mornings straight. I made orange slices in a simple syrup from scratch to add, then toss some toasted Walnuts (or any nuts of your choice…..imagine Pistachios) and you will walk out the door with a smile. These tortas are just a delight and each one is like unwrapping a little treat that plays well with many dishes, not just those with a European flair. They would be great to accompany with a salad, a warm soup on a cold day, to even creating a crust for meats (pulse in a food processor) and you can ever make a great crust for Mozzarella cheese sticks. The possibilities are really up to you but even on a lazy day, I can enjoy an Ines Rosales just as it is and still have a smile 🙂 .

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Connect with Ines Rosales at:

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

Dr. Bronner’s: Organic Baby Unscented Pure-Castle Liquid Soap, Bar of Soap and Sanitizer #Review #DrBronner

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Going green or trying to simplify your beauty and hygiene routine is something we all should consider. Why? I never knew how many toxins and irritants were in beauty products until I experienced a negative reaction and unfortunately, it takes that for some us to take notice. I now adhere by the 80/20 ideology when it comes to my beauty routine. Eighty percent of products that are natural and nice to my skin and body, and twenty percent of the naughty stuff. So, my mascara and eyeliner fit in the latter category, but I have even cleaned up my nail polishes and face washes. My skin actually appreciates me being nicer to it!

I have used the Dr. Bronner’s soap collections before but not in this formulation. I was sent a nice array of products from Dr. Bronner’s:

I love the smell of clean and this means just the freshness, minus the chemical storm I use to create. The parcel from Dr. Bronner’s had a glorious scent that was clean and just in an instant made me feel relaxed and tranquil…..and I’m high strong! I blame the lavender for trying to subdue me in the middle of the afternoon, but I enjoyed every second of emptying out that box!

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Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 liquid soaps are hemp derived and I’m already on the hemp bandwagon when it comes to beauty products and solutions. I use a lip balm that saved my forever chapped lips and the miracle ingredient was simply hemp. The soaps are not only friendly to you but also the environment because they are 100% biodegradable. The Baby Unscented Pure-Castle soap is also Organic, Non-GMO certified and to add to the goodness list, Fair Trade Certified.

Ingredients (as listed on the website)-
Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Palm Kernel Oil*, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol.  *CERTIFIED FAIR TRADE INGREDIENTS
** None remains after saponifying oils into soap & glycerin

Retail Price Point: $15.29 Special Price for the 32 ounce bottle on the website. $4.49 for for the 4 ounce bottle.  Via Amazon, the 32 ounce bottle is $16.89 and free shipping for Prime members.

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Verdict:
Everything is great on the outside but does the Baby Unscented Pure Castle liquid soap deliver? Yes!!!! A little goes a long way and the soap cleans but does not strip away your skin’s moisture. It actually enhances it because the product contains Olive oil and Coconut oil……two of my favorite oils that are inexpensive but packed with nutrients. The soap is unscented but we all still pick up a smell from such products and this just smells nice and clean. Think of how freshness and a clean spring morning smells and this little bottle captured it. I have caught myself giving in to a few extra sniffs when using it. The liquid soap also has many applications beyond a face and body wash. I have used the soap for:

  • Washing Fruit and Vegetables
  • Giving the Dog a bath and especially after her surgery where she has an incision on her belly
  • Washing bird baths and because it’s gentle and kind to the surrounding, don’t mistaken that for lack of cleaning power.
  • Washing down the feeders where the squirrels and raccoon come to dine.
  • To even treating my roses for aphids because there is no way I would spray 40 rose bushes if I did not trust the brand.

The uses are endless and I feel safe and comfortable using the soap, so that makes me a big fan of Dr. Bronner’s products. I saw the big bottle being sold at Costco and I definitely have already picked up two and you can easily find where you can purchase their wonderful products here.

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Now, for the Lavender Sanitizer. Thank you for making a sanitizer that does not dehydrate my skin or nails. I have been experiencing dryness in excess from over use and because I try not to apply lotion to my hands when I’m out shopping (don’t want dirt and grime to have a welcoming surface), my hands have gone a dusty white in color from the over dryness. Yeah, the dryness that makes even closing your hands hurt but after using only Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Sanitizer spray, all that is gone. I finally found a formula of sanitizer that is kind to me but unkind to germs!

Ingredients (as listed on the website)-
Organic Fair Trade Ethyl Alcohol (62%)*, Water, Organic Glycerin, Organic Lavender Oil *CERTIFIED FAIR TRADE INGREDIENTS

Retail Price Point: $4.99 for a 2 ounce spay bottle.

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Last but not least, the Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castle Bar of Soap in Lavender scent. Let me just rename this my make-up brush cleaner. I simply shave a piece off and added it to a candle votive holder made of glass. The holder allows for easy cleaning of my brushes because I can make little circles while the soap foams and the cosmetic residue, and whatever else stuck on there, just washes off. I simply then rinse the brushes and allow them to air dry before storing. My brushes both natural and synthetic have perfect bristles that are now clean and soft. This bar will also yield many washes because it is large and the lavender scent is calming…..something a girl desires when applying make-up!

Ingredients (as listed on the website)- Organic Coconut Oil*, Organic Palm Oil*, Sodium Hydroxide**, Water, Organic Olive Oil*, Lavandin Extract, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Lavender Extract, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Tocopherol *CERTIFIED FAIR TRADE INGREDIENTS
** None remains after saponifying oils into soap & glycerin.

Retail Price Point: $4.69 for a 5 ounce bar.

I highly recommend trying anything from the Dr. Bronner’s line of products because I am confident you will be satisfied as I am with their products.  I actually plan to try one product in each line due to how well the items I received performed.  The products may be simple in what makes them but not simple when it comes to cleaning!

Connect with Dr. Bronner and their line of products at:

 

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