Cal Water H2O Classroom Challenge

Living in Southern California has it’s perks. Great weather, beautiful scenery and an abundance of recreational activities. You can enjoy everything from coastal living, take a mountain hike to even enjoying the desert lifestyle…..all within just a few hours from each other. We are not limited but these drastic weather changes that come with land changes, has taken it’s toll on the state. We have farmlands that are depleted and the water table is no longer able to support what was a bountiful land. There is a reason why our crops suffer and no longer yield the harvest they use to.  You add the enormous amount of fires are state suffers from, which have left “fire scars” on our lands.  You have lack of vegetation that creates a danger to the surviving homes.  So, even getting rain becomes a hazard from mudslides and flooding.

Education is crucial at any age, however sharing knowledge and the importance of conserving doesn’t require an age number. There is no age limit to learning not to waste! Water is abundant when you look at our very blue hued plant, but clean water is a another story. Water that can be safely used is not so easy to access. The world has been impacted by this ongoing crisis but simple changes can aid the situation greatly. The North American Association for Environmental Education has partnered up with the California Water Service, creating an educational program advocating projects in a classroom that impact global to local changes, I was all for supporting such cause.

Teachers and students will be able to brainstorm and contribute a final plan. The plan can be addressing global issues or local community changes that can make a positive impact. Conservation is a key, but being able to educate can also yield the opportunity in addressing a community resource waste (i.e. overrunning of sprinklers by municipalities). Teachers and students will then submit a portfolio that will be judged by a panel of experts, which will provide the opportunity in winning the Cal Water H20 Classroom Water Challenge!

California Water Service     NAAEE Logo

Winners of the Cal Water H2O Classroom Challenge will receive:

  • Grand Prize-
    Class Celebration: Classroom tent-camping
    trip to the Santa Monica Mountains with
    NatureBridge
    Class Funding: $3,500 grant
    Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student
  • Second Place Prize-
    Class Celebration: A Pizza Party
    Class Funding: $2,500 grant
    Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student
  • Third Place Prize-
    Class Funding: $2,000 grant
    Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student
  • Fourth Place Prize-
    Class Funding: $1,000 grant
    Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student
    All Participant Prizes
    Student Recognition: An official certificate of
    participation for every student
    Teacher Recognition: A teacher certificate
    Teacher Gift: An AMEX gift card

Our local city has made changes by adding water drip systems and getting rid of water hungry plants like grass that use to suffer the heat waves.  Big decisions needed to be made and some became a local sore subject because old trees that suffered the impact of such temperature increases, needed to be removed.  Thinking green is not always easy and that means sometimes removing hazards like aging trees.  The root systems could no longer support ailing trees that were planted when water was abundant or when conservation was a choice.  We did the same when it came to reducing how much grass we have and have current plans to remove more, which will mean less sprinklers being needed.  Fountains have been turned into planters, more drought tolerant plants have been planted and we got rid of most our Italian Cypress trees (more than 23 of them) that are a fire hazard.  Our local Fire Department likes to refer to them trees as roman candles because this is how they light up, due to all the dead material they hold inside.  Hard decisions but we need to think not only about ourselves, but also the safety of our neighbors.  It’s no longer just about reducing the number of water gallons we use in California per household, but also making sure we have nothing that can feed a fire if one should arise.

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​​This is a sponsored post. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

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HydroPeptide: On the Go Glow Anti-wrinkle Travel Set #Review #HydroPeptide

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In the beauty world there is one thing that has really triumphed when it comes to brand awareness……sample sizes. Whether you call them deluxe size, trial size, travel or just plain samples, being able to try and not invest the full dollar amount towards a product has really yielded dividends both for the consumer and brand-names. I see beauty items like medications, in where you have one popular product that works with many but not all. I have used foundations that get out of the world ratings and then I use it and have a what are they talking about moment. This is why I love being able to try without getting the full sting and not feel bad if a product is not for me.

HydroPeptide believes in the same. A company that is brave enough and confident about what they make, that they decided why not make travel size products for consumers to try and see if they like them. If you become a fan, you can then later buy the full size and also the travel size for those weekend getaways.

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I was sent the Anti-wrinkle travel set called, “On the Go Glow“. The set comes with:

  1. Exfoliating Cleanser
  2. Pre-Treatment Toner
  3. Purfiying Mask
  4. Eye Authority
  5. Face Lift
  6. Everything you need and even a beautiful and useful size pouch to carry the HydroPeptide products along with any mini shampoo and conditioners to complete your travel to-go bag.

 

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Verdict:

The regimen is simple. I welcome that not only when travelling but when trying a brand. I always follow the directions to see if the products yield the claims made. This kit left nothing untreated and except for adding my spot acne cream when needed, I just used the HydroPeptide set exclusively. The solutions are light when applied and like the eye cream and face lift, my skin was left feeling fresh after about day 4 of use. By this I mean that I had a natural and healthy sheen without any ill effects of transitioning over to using HydroPeptide exclusively. The mask is out of this world when it comes to clarifying and not over drying. The mask really needs a light application that is thin and even and I am not kidding, your skin’s surface changes after removal. I mean serious positive changes that also helped any acne/blemishes I was suffering from pre to post breakout. The entire set played well with my skin and even though I am not a fan and believer of toners, I can say the refreshing and balanced pH was something that changed my mind about my opinion of toners. This toner is also a “pre-treatment”, so it’s a way to prep your skin for absorption of the coming products after you have exfoliated and washed your face. I get it! It makes sense with this system and I did not view it as an add-on that was wasted. The eye cream is thick but because you use the dab method and a 1/2 a pea size, just with the warmth of my skin, the product quickly was absorbed.  I was left with just a thin layer that I call “good left-overs” because it’s there to protect and continue nourishing my skin as needed. This system by HydroPeptide is an AM and PM kit. Many anti aging systems are geared towards only night use because of the ingredients maybe being to harsh for morning and day time use. Some acids tend to activate worse in sunlight but that is what sunscreen is for and I don’t ever skip on treatments of this kind because just one safeguard means you can get double the benefits, so don’t skip on SPF and you will be fine. I noticed the eye area was my biggest improvement and while I would love to boast that just get the eye cream and go, I have to realize I used everything as directed and that unison of products is very likely the cause for the positive effects. Using 1/2 a pea size on the eye cream and just a pea size for the face cream, I could see the deal with the kit.  Just look at the ingredients on the site and these are serious products when it comes to results and free from sulphates to artificial fragrances and anything that is added as fillers with most beauty brands designed towards anti aging formulas.  I never understood why companies add ingredients that cause aging and/or irritations and still advertise the items as anti wrinkle care.  It’s nice when a company like HydroPeptide comes along and removes the fillers and just works on what you want, your skin and getting the most of the results for the money you invested.  The “On the Go Glow” kit is just that and a great starter at just $78!  I have spent more on nail polishes in one visit and walked away less satisfied.

 

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Give HydroPeptide a Go at:

 

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

 

 

 

LANEIGE: Lip Sleeping Mask, Water Sleeping Mask and SoltreeBundle Natural Hemp Paper Trio #Laneige #SoltreeBundle

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Laneige, may be new to some of us in the U.S., however the brand has been providing skin care products in Asia since 1994.  In 2007, being a well recognized and respected brand, Laneige later expanded their line into beauty and cosmetic lines.  Still dominating the “Beauty of Asia” market.  In 2013, Laneige expanded further and began distributing skin care products in the U.S. market, and especially their moisturizing “water masks”.  You can find many of their products now at major retailers and I have even received Laneige products in beauty boxes, which is how I became familiar with the brand.

 

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I am a fan!  Let’s start there and if a Laneige anything is even part of a well price beauty box, I grab it.  The water mask lines have never caused me any irritation and nothing plumps my skin like their masks.  No clogged pores and just positive benefits.  When I saw the bundle at Amazon being offered to bloggers, I jumped on it because who doesn’t like to share reviews of products they already use and have become favorites.

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Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask: This one was a new one for me because I had not tried this one yet.  The Lip Sleeping Mask is really a game changer from the lip balms, overnight concoctions, to sticks and glosses that state they will change your lips’s skin but seem to fail time and time again.  Resurfacing the skin on our lips is part one but many products provide ingredients that do this but the problem is their “all-in-one” solutions.  The formulas aggressively exfoliate to the point the dryness becomes excessive and/or repetitive.  Yes, many OTC products are combined with moisturizers but when you have ingredients that are suppose to accelerate skin cell rejuvenation, you sort of leave your lips confused.  What Laneige did was create a product specialized for the lips.  A mask!  Just like eye creams address the sensitive skin around our eyes that differs from that around our face, this Lip Sleeping Mask is formulated to deeply nourish and re-hydrate your skin….but on your lips.  Treating your lips overnight is something I love because who doesn’t want to solve problems while sleeping and wake up with better looking anything?  I sure do and I see it as multi-tasking.  The product even comes with an applicator brush, which is soft and the Laneige mask has no odd odor or taste.  It’s just one swipe to both your top and bottom lip, then set the alarm to wake-up the next morning with soft and supple lips.  Love it!

Ingredients (as listed on the website): Diisostearyl Malate, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Phytosteryl/Isostearyl/Cetyl/Stearyl/Behenyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Hydrogenated Poly(C6-14 Olefin), Polybutene, Microcrystalline Wax, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Synthetic Wax, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Sucrose Tetrastearate Triacetate, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter, Dimethicone, Polyglyceryl-2 Diisostearate, Dehydroacetic Acid, Methicone, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Polyglyceryl-2 Triisostearate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Water, Potassium Alginate, Glycerin, Propanediol, Alcohol, Chenopodium Quinoa Seed Extract, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed Extract, Lycium Chinense Fruit Extract, Sapindus Mukurossi Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Fruit Extract, Fragaria Chiloensis (Strawberry) Fruit Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Rubus Chamaemorus Seed Extract, Magnesium Sulfate, Calcium Chloride, Sodium Hyaluronate, Beta-Glucan, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Fragrance+/-CI 15850, CI 15850:1, CI 45410:1, CI 45380:2, CI 45380, CI 45410, CI 17200, CI 12085, CI 19140, CI 15985, CI 47005, CI 42090, Titanium Dioxide, CI 77499, CI 77491, Mica

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Laneige Water Sleeping Mask: This is one I have used before.  My skin and especially when seasons are a little harsher like Winter and Summer tend to be, just loves it.  I don’t dry out and my skin quickly absorbs it.  I have used this mask even in the day when it has been extra hot or even windy, no problems with my foundation peeling up because my skin literally drinks it up.  Many products and serums dry fast, making us think they have been absorbed when really it’s just the alcohols in them evaporating away.  You then get that glossy/oily affect hours later and can’t understand why the oil production has been amp-ed up.  You kick your pores into over drive but because the residue remains, then any moisturizers/oils the product had to even parabens start rearing their ugly face and make a disaster of your skin.  With Laneige, I experience zero of that.  I was afraid a mask would equate to a heavy feeling, sort of like when you add an oil mask to your hair.  The word mask is more of play in words where it addresses your skin overnight and you wake up with a replenished surface.  Yes, it works that well.  I have even been able to use the mask over acne treated spots and no more peeling from the spot treatments.  My acne medication still works overnight but I don’t wake up with lizard like skin the following day.

Ingredients (as listed on the website): Water, Butylene Glycol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Cyclohexasiloxane, Trehalose, Sodium Hyaluronate, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Root Extract, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Fruit Extract, Beta-Glucan, Chenopodium Quinoa Seed Extract, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Chloride, Potassium Alginate, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Polysorbate 20, Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Propanediol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Stearyl Behenate, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, HYDROXYPROPYL BISPALMITAMIDE MEA, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Alcohol, 1, 2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, CI 42090

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This trio package also includes a SoltreeBundle 50 count pack of Hemp blotting papers.  It’s a nice little add-on because I had not used blotting papers derived from hemp before.  The less chemicals I can use the better because my last set of blotting papers had peppermint, which made the product smell nice and especially around the holidays.  What was not nice was finding out that peppermint oil irritated my skin and I was out shopping and running errands!  These hemp based papers are simple, safe and work.  No irritations or oils to fear.

Retail Price Point: On Amazon, the bundle above is $39.98 for the trio.  If you factor in that one of the items usually retails for $24 and the other for $25, you already are saving a fair amount. With the blotting papers added, it just makes the deal even sweeter!
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I received the above product(s) free of charge from SoltreeBundle. 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.

HouseParty: Bertolli® Al Fresco Taste of Tuscany Party with Creamy Basil Alfredo #BertolliAlFrescoTasteOfTuscany

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As Summer approaches, I tend to get as busy as I do when it’s holiday time (November and December). It’s that six month mark I call, when changes start taking place, projects get started and making dinner needs simplification. The barbecues start getting prepped early in Spring here in Southern California because we have pleasant weather most time of the year. This means I so welcome kitchen help. I still want a meal that is healthy and leaves my family and friends full and happy.

In comes Bertolli, changing things up by adding more to their sauce line. Forget about the red and think about white base sauces that come with new flavors to welcome the new season. A white sauce is not something we enjoy (at least here) as I we usually make red based sauces. I am always looking for a way to use my overabundance of tomatoes, so that means I am always making tomato-y sauces! They are great but it can easily create a rut. I have come up with Greek style, South American to Italian “red sauces” that I think my family is on to me! When Bertolli came up with the Al Fresco Taste of Tuscany Party and I saw Basil…..well, say no more.

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Retail Price Point: $1.99 for a 15 ounce jar at Target. They are currently on sale at Target from the regular $2.25 price point. You can also find Bertolli and other selections at Von’s, Stater Bros., Albertson’s and other major stores.

Ingredients: Water, Cream, Butter (Cream, Salt), Soybean Oil, basil, Modified Corn Starch, Parmesan Cheese (Cultured Part-Skim Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Enzyme Modified Egg Yolk, Sherry Wine, Salt, Whey, Natural Flavors, Yeast Extract, Disodium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Garlic Powder.

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Verdict:
I like easy but I ask a lot from it. I also want a meal that is well liked and not filled with the bad ingredients. In other words, I don’t want my family picking up that I am using a jarred sauce. There is nothing wrong with sauces out of a jar and you can find brands that keep the sauce honest. In this home, jarred sauces are called “cheater sauces”. Okay, the family is a little spoiled but I prefer they welcome the better foods and if the sauce makes the cut, it also gets welcomed in the pantry. Bertolli’s Creamy Basil Alfredo is very simple to prepare. You just pour, reheat and serve. You can easily make it part of your meal or the meal itself by making it a main dish. For this occasion, I wanted to get maximum benefit out of the jar and the one jar needed to yield enough servings, so everyone could try it. I open the jar and the smell is pleasant and inviting. You have a nice milk and cream base that is followed up with the aroma of herbs, basil of course being the predominant one. Being that my basil plant was attacked by squirrels last year, my 5 year old plant never returned. I also welcomed the basil plant seeds that Houseparty and Bertolli included. I use to fear frost or excessive heat damaging my basil plant, never thinking a Squirrel with gourmet tastes would go nutty for an herb! With the amount of basil packed into this creamy Alfredo jar, my passion for basil and craving will definitely be satisfied. I opted for ricotta and spinach filled raviolis and made this my starter dish. I tend to now fry my raviolis in butter and olive oil.  This method not only gives the pasta a firmer texture but also that golden buttery taste that everyone seems to love. I warmed the sauce and other than adding some parm and a fresh slice of a baby heirloom tomato, the Bertolli Creamy Alfredo sauce was doing all the talking here.

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And, the talking it did. I never have enjoyed a jarred cream based sauce. They always broke when heated and/or had an off taste. This one does not! The Creamy Basil Alfredo from Bertolli stayed whole when heated and did not have an odd after taste. You just taste cream, butter, some cheesy notes and the basil. That is all. The sauce does not overwhelm what you are eating. The tomato gave the ravioli that fresh kick but because it’s mild in flavor, it played well with the sauce. The acidic properties played like a balsamic would, but mild enough to not just kill the entire plating. The spinach in the ricotta filling was made for a basil pairing, so Bertolli made a simple dish that much better. Some guests added a crack of pepper to top, so you can really make the Creamy Basil Alfredo sauce from Bertolli make any dish work and to your liking. No one even asked if the sauce was jarred any I was asked how I made it because so many tend to rush the process and end up with a broken sauce. I told them I would print out the recipe because it’s on-line. I shared a coupon after for my guests to use but I was not letting the cat out of the bag on this one from the start!  I also love that everyone was gifted a Basil plant to grow at home, just watch out for those squirrels who think basil flavored acorns are the it dish this season!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Bertolli and HouseParty.  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.

 

Tryazon: Rhodes Bake-N-Serv™ Cinnamon Rolls #Review #Tryazon #RhodesBread

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I have always been a fan of frozen foods, like vegetables and fruit that go out of season but are readily available all year round. Sometimes even perfectly frozen blueberries will cost less that fresh ones and be in better shape, so the freezer aisle to me is not something I completely avoid. Even companies offer organic meals nowadays from the freezer aisle. I have picked up many “artisan style” breads that come frozen from a local bakery because you just pop them in the oven, bake and have fresh baked bread in 20 minute’s time! Simple ingredients I am fan of and being a cook and baker makes you become familiar as to what goes in what you are making/eating. The freezer aisle is only bad if you purchase ready made meals to baked goods that are more chemicals than real ingredients! This is where we get lost and it’s disappointing because convenience comes at a price and sometimes it’s not even that convenient in the first place.

I tried the microwaved cinnamon rolls before from Rhodes and reviewed them here. Not bad for a microwaved baked good. On the same trip I picked up a bag of the bread loaves, and a bag of the cinnamon (individual) rolls. Two items I bake at home from scratch, so I was looking forward in using them on a busy week. This week, was a very busy week!

 

Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls (Bake-N-Serv™) with Cream Cheese Frosting 

Preparation-

I open up the bag and notice that the individual cinnamon rolls are really partnered in twos and threes. I had a hard time at the store feeling the bags and was hoping I picked well enough because I noticed some were more blobs than others. I travel with two coolers (one for frozen goods and one for fresh), so things defrosting in the truck just does not happen. I can buy ice cream and still shop for 2 to 3 hours without it even it defrosting on the top! I try my best to seperate the rolls, but they seem very attached to their companion, so I do my best.

The directions were simple and opted to go by the one that resembled closest to the time it takes to bake them from scratch. My cinnamon rolls take 1 hour for the dough to rise, you make the roll and cut, then another 30 to 40 minutes for them to rise again, plus bake for 20 minutes! Simple and easy. I put the frozen cinnamon rolls from Rhodes in the oven, which was pre-warmed to 170 degrees. The directions stated it takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes for the rolls to proof and double in size. I’m 2 hours in and watching these frozen rolls more than I do those made from scratch and they are oozing larger in size but not rising. My oven is less than a year old and I check the temperature. Holding at 95 degrees and no change when it comes to rising…..just oozing bigger. I take them out and they are technically double in size (flat wise), so I warm the oven to bake the rolls.

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Baking-

In they go and use convection mode and set the oven to 325 degrees. Directions are clear about not over baking and leaving them in for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are light brown in color.

My house smells bread-y but not that yeast dough you associate with cinnamon rolls. I look in the oven and the rolls look like they are swimming in yellow oil, so I go and look at the ingredients. I shouldn’t have! You have a chemical concoction that makes the cinnamon rolls out of tubes look like saints. You have everything from oils, corn syrups, sugars in every way they can be made down to margarine and so forth. I just don’t see the waiting time worth it when I saw what was in these rolls. I remind myself I ate onion flavored puffy ring chips yesterday, so sometimes chemicals taste good 🙂 .  I allow the cinnamon rolls to bake 25 minutes to get a light brown color and notice the dough has pockets that resemble bread, not the ribbon texture you associate with yeast dough, but I’m committed and now it’s too late to bake anything since I have to start dinner.

This is after "incorporating" the bag's contents more, as they like to separate.

This is after “incorporating” the bag’s contents more, as they like to separate.

Frosting-

I allow the cinnamon rolls to cool and get a baggy of the frosting. It’s yellow in color and not just a faint hue, it’s yellow. I turn over the bag and I recalled right, it states cream cheese but this is not like any cream cheese frosting I have ever seen. The directions state to incorporate the icing and I do the “smashy thing” but it still looks undesirable. I cut the tip off the bag and I taste it……..it’s so sweet and the texture of cupcake icing, not at all like what you put on a roll. Also, cream cheese is there in words but your taste buds just does not pick it up.

Taste Test-

I serve us each a roll and even my Husband says the icing is just so wrong. I take a bite and this is one oily roll that is dry at the same time and you see and smell cinnamon, but you really don’t taste it. I did not finish my roll. Not worth the calories and my Husband does not either. I use to buy the cinnamon rolls in the refrigerated section when we dated. They were fine but never like the bakery, so I began learning to bake and trying recipe after recipe. My Husband will at times even pick-up a tray from the grocery store’s bakery and they are edible and a nice treat for those days I was too tired or busy to bake. The Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls were not unfortunately, not worth the effort and I just don’t get why they are frozen to just be a disappointment.  I also don’t understand the amount of poor ingredients that I can respect chemicals to produce let’s say a Spicy chip that tastes like a taco or something.  You get your junk food fix and you will crave a bag in 3 to 6 months time again.  These cinnamon rolls did not even satisfy a craving as such!  Sad…….very sad because in this house we do think sweet goods are worth the calories and fat, but rule #1, it needs to taste good!

 

I dislike having to give a negative review but honesty comes first and when the cinnamon rolls in a tube taste better and you can find better (i.e. real butter, ect.) ingredients in brands like Trader Joe’s to even the giggling doughy guy, I just can’t say at least these were easy to bake, so you should get them.  Taste matters and I don’t expect to get nutrition out of cinnamon rolls, but my taste buds need to be happy and cinnamon rolls are the type of food you eat with a smile.  These=no smiles :(.  The Rhodes microwave variety were passable and I would have never imagined since these required more time and came from an oven.

 

Connect with Rhodes at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Tryazon and Rhodes.  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: Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls, Microwave and ready in 60 Seconds #Review #Tryazon #RhodesBread

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Oh, what a title can say in just a few words can illicit a person to salivate instantly. That is exactly what occurred when I received first notice that this event was up for grabs. When I was accepted, it was a mix of drooling and happiness at the same time.

Rhodes is known for their Bake-n-Serve breads. This company is one of the first brands that made me feel comfortable with an oven. Fresh baked breads are always a crowd pleaser but sometime the pleaser is short on time and/or energy. It does not mean I love my family any less and this is why sometimes I need an “emergency stash”. Yes, we have emergency situations when an unplanned event or even the clock got the best of me and I have no after dinner treat. When you are the baker in the family and you have to share you did not bake anything for that day……oh, those eyes you get can just break your heart. My Husband has yet mastered the oven but is an expert at grilling and smoking meats. He also mastered the art of using a microwave and failed in patience class, so 60 seconds of wait time was made for him.

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Cinnamon rolls is something I make at home but it takes time, so I probably do not bake them as often as would liked. Also, there are days where someone is in a cinnamon-y mood while another person has a fruit craving. I make fruit based rolls too but I’m not making 2 batches to satisfy every craving, and don’t even get me started on who eats what type of a nut and the other person doesn’t. I need an out! A form of salvation for the sweet little monsters in my life!

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Rhodes created the answer and a 60 second promise for a product that is often seen in stores cold, laying in a silver colored tray, and usually dry. Rhodes took everything everyone wants in a cinnamon roll, a warm gooey roll all your own and when you want it. Magic!

Now, I wish my microwave could deliver. I did experience some difficulties in locating the product and Rhodes does have a store locator, down to what product is offered in each store near you. The only obstacle was that the New Microwave rolls were not a product option you could select from the drop-down menu. I finally started hitting stores and located the rolls (one bag) 20 miles away and when I arrived at the Neighborhood Walmart Store, they had more items than what the product locator reflected. I called stores at the end to avoid wasting gas too and I highly suggest in doing so. Just kindly ask for the “freezer” department when calling and that you are looking for the Microwave Rhodes Cinnamon rolls. Not to be confused with the Ready to Bake Anytime cinnamon rolls. The new Rhodes Microwave Cinnamon Rolls come in a bag (not a tray) and the bag is brown-orange in color with a large 60 number on the front of the bag.

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Verdict:
I found literally the last bag they had and always check the back of the freezer. I reached until I got a frozen paw but that bag had my name on it. I always see low stock on a product as a good sign. It’s popular and probably well liked, and that tends to make me want to try them. Each bag holds a count of 6 cinnamon rolls, so even though my weekend get-together had more people, we figured we share (it’s a new diet we are trying 😉 ). We had only one roll in the bag that had stuck to another but all the cinnamon were in a nice shape and intact. We played it safe and microwaved one roll at a time and I put toppings out, to even a separate type of frosting (cream cheese) with soft caramel swirls in case someone wanted a different topping versus the icing it came with. You can toast pecans and add that too, to even fruit that is fresh or from a jar. Customization is really easy to do. Everyone tasted the frosting and except for one person, they were the only one that opted to use the icing the rolls came with, so I was happy to have both options available. Once you microwave the product, the roll does increase in size a little bit about 25% larger, however the cinnamon roll is fair in size overall. Feedback was 50/50 when it came to how the product tasted and texture. The roll is soft and gooey, but for some it was a little to gummy while others felt the cinnamon roll begins to dry out (not harden thankfully) a little to quick for them as it cools down. The sweet factor was a little high for some and others felt the cinnamon was not strong enough, but agreed when I mentioned the idea of sprinkling a dash on top of the icing/frosting could fix that. My cream cheese based frosting was very liked and that seem to make up for what I consider to be small short comings for a roll that is ready to enjoy in 1 minute’s time. You may have to eat it a little faster if you worry about the dough drying out but I can share one thing that does have some value, everyone ate their serving!  So even those that did not consider this to be their favorite cinnamon roll did not feel it was not edible, it was just not like others they have had. I myself have had worse from bakeries but for a product with no time constraints and no mess other than the plate you are eating it from, I think Rhodes did as well as you can do with microwave dishes. Nothing will be as good as from the oven but this little cinnamon roll satisfied my sweet tooth!  I fought for my 1 bag of cinnamon rolls, so that meant I had 2 more coupons left when it came to trying Rhodes products and I picked out 2 different ones.  So, stay tuned because I will be reviewing and sharing those with you too.

 

Connect with Rhodes at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Tryazon and Rhodes.  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.

 

 

 

Premier Protein Bars: Yogurt Peanut Crunch #Review #PremierSelfie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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