Thursday, May 31, 2018

Wine and Healthy Foods

Wine and food are the perfect pairing. Which wine you put with which food is a matter of personal taste. In the summertime, I like to keep it healthy as much as possible.

More from Pereg Gourmet…
As I mentioned last month, Pereg Gourmet sent me a basketful of goodies to experiment with. I always enjoy cooking, baking, and creating, but it was a busy month. I asked my friend Betty if she’d like to give it a try with Kamut, an ancient grain. She did and the Creamy Kamut and Chicken Casserole was excellent. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to give it a try for yourself.  

I’m looking forward to trying out a few more of the Pereg products in June for some healthy, tasty treats.

Summer nights & New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc…
It’s not a secret that my favorite wine is New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. I’ll never turn down the chance to taste one and I got two great options delivered this month.

The Sisters is a little less grassy than the usual, with lots of grapefruit and lemon. It’s an excellent choice for the summer. It’s also under $10 so pick up a few bottles to have chilled for those summer nights.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I opened the NZ Sauvignon Blanc from Dave Phinney’s Locations brand. This was perfection for me – light and filled with kiwi and a bit of citrus. It’s also a bargain under $20.

For red lovers, Locations also sent me three good ones:

France, your steak wine. On the heavy side, with fruit forward and spice in the back.
Spain, not quite as bold, with clear blackberry and cassis.
Washington, lighter than the others, not as dry, with dark raspberry and blueberry. This one is my favorite.

Pasta good for everyone…
I’ve written about Explore Cuisine previously. They make plant-based pastas that are full of protein and fiber. They are all also gluten free. I tried some new ones and have to give a shout out to the Green Lentil Lasagna, perfect with your favorite sauce and cheese, and the Red Lentil Penne, which needs just a little olive oil and Parmesan to make a nutritious meal.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Gift Options and Healthy Indulging

It’s time to celebrate moms and get ready for bikini season. Yes, that’s an odd combination, but it seems to be the best way to describe some of the things I tried this month.

Everything you can do with My Photo…
My first thought when I was asked to try My Photo was that there are already a dozen great places online that do this: upload a photo and turn it into a gift, or something to hang on your wall. I promised I’d give it a try and it definitely has its unique points.

My Photo is definitely the easiest service of it’s kind I have seen. All you need to do is email any picture to Within minutes, you’ll receive an email back showing your photo in different products! I did order Wall Clings. The good news is that the photo quality is the best I’ve seen on any of these services. The bad news is that I got the Wall Clings because their canvases and products are higher priced than most of the others.

Bottom line: If you are looking for a really high quality piece that’s easy to produce, give My Photo a try.

For your favorite guy or gal, any time of year…
Gourmet Gift Baskets has lots of unique ideas for all holidays, but they sent me one for Mother’s Day that I certainly love.

The Premium Spa Gift offers many relaxing hours in one basket. It contains everything needed to pamper yourself, whether you are a woman, man, or a couple. You’ll receive all these products for $99 (there’s so many that you can even divide it into more than one gift):

Moisturizing Body Lotion, Body Wash, and Triple Milled Bath Soap from San Francisco Soap Company;
Terry Cloth Slippers;
Four Points Massager;
Wooden Pumice Brush;
Loofah Disc;
Premium Skin Smoothing Brush;
Foam Sea Sponge;
Wooden Foot Brush;
10” Massaging Bath Brush.

Let’s get healthy for summer…
Pereg sent me a selection of healthy products to try out. It’s going to take me a while to get through them all (can’t wait to try the Banana Flour), but I got started creating something simple. Check out my recipe for Blackberry Yogurt Muffins, made with their Coconut Flour.

Vodka drinks in a can…
Why limit your choices this spring and summer? How about some vodka cocktails in a can?

I was a little confused at first, but the healthy options from Vrai had me ready to test them out and they did not disappoint. I had to rely on friends to sample the Tangerine since I have a citrus allergy, but it was a big hit. I can certainly understand, because I loved the Green Tea. The interesting part is that I don’t really like green tea. This had a bit of fruit-flavor and wasn’t bitter.

Be careful because Vrai goes down just like (all natural) iced tea, but 5.5% alcohol can add up if you down too many.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Satisfy your Hunger and Thirst with these New Products

I loved the options that arrived on my doorstep this month and I think you will too.

Stock your fridge with Muuna Cottage Cheese…
It’s no secret that I tend to eat lots of extra calories when I’m traveling. Things are a lot different at home, where I’m looking for healthy options.

Yogurt is usually may go to for packing protein in a quick cup. I’m always careful to pick the least amount of sugar too. Now, I have another option, Muuna Cottage Cheese.

They sent me a case in plain, black cherry, and raspberry. They were all delicious, with fruit and little sugar, and only about 120 calories. A small container of Muuna Cottage Cheese is also loaded with  at least 15 grams of protein.

In addition to the flavors I tried, it also now comes in peach, blueberry, strawberry, and mango. Check for it in your supermarket.

An Instant Coffee find from Alpine Start...
Alpine Start Instant Coffee sent me a box of their instant coffee, made from high altitude Arabica beans. The idea was to make a product similar to Starbuck’s Via, only better. I think they’ve succeeded.

I poured a packet into a glass full of ice and water, then topped it with a little almond milk. It was delicious. The coffee flavor is fresh and distinct, and it blended in with no pebbly taste. (Does anyone remember Sanka?)

I can’t say I loved it hot, I felt it was a little thin, unless I put it in a small cup. It is great for rubs (i.e. steak, chicken) and smoothies. Skip the frapuccino and make yourself something delicious with one of these little packets.

ArT Wine Preserver so you don’t have to finish the bottle…
...Of course, you may want to, but it’s no longer necessary. The ArT Wine Preserver will keep preserving that same bottle of wine. You can pour a glass, but it back in the refrigerator or wine rack, and not worry about what it will taste like.

A two second spray of argon displaces the oxygen in the bottle to keep the wine fresh. I gave it a try and you couldn’t tell the bottle had previously been opened. It’s well-worth the $15 investment to preserve up to 50 bottles of wine. You can buy it on Amazon right now.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ginger Beer, Growlers and Tea Tree Oil

The shortest month of the year is over, and it looks like we will have an early spring.  It’s time to try some healthy and refreshing items.

Nothing like ginger…
I love ginger beer. It’s my drink when I’m out and I am not drinking alcohol. Contrary to what people think, it’s nothing like beer and certainly not soda. A good ginger beer tastes like the best ginger ale you ever had, but without so many bubbles.

Brooklyn Crafted got all that right. I really enjoyed the samples they sent. The Unfiltered Ginger Beer Earl Grey is made with lots of fresh ginger, and has a bit of the English black tea in it for substance (and some caffeine).

I also tasted the Brooklyn Crafted Extra Spicy Ginger Beer. It’s got a nice kick to it with some ginger extract in addition to the ginger. It’s a very interesting mixer and will certainly take your Moscow Mule up a notch.

Brooklyn Crafted also makes their ginger beers in Sugar Free. I’ll definitely be looking to try those.

Growler Werks delivers a pint…
As craft beers become more popular, so does the use of growlers. Bringing your own to your favorite brewery can save money and help save the planet from excess bottles and cans.

Growler Werks has a selection of sizes to keep your beer at the right temperature and taste, even for a large crowd. They sent me their UPint. It’s the fit for 16 oz of beer, with double installation, side divots for an easy grip, and a wide lid opening. It’s a great thing to have packed for vacation as UPint also can be used to keep beverages hot.  

With just this one oil…
Even princess-to-be Meghan Markle has declared, “The one thing I can’t live without when I’m traveling is tea tree oil.”

Despite the fact that it has become the oil of royalty, I confess I had not tried it until I was contacted by Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil. I was a bit skeptical when I received a list of what this magical potion can be used for. It has been said to cure bug bites, cuts, burns, and even acne. While I thankfully didn’t have all those maladies, it did work for everything I tried it on.

I told a few friends about my tea tree find and discovered I was definitely late in discovering it. One said she uses it on our face for wrinkles, another swore there’s nothing safer for her kids bug bites. While I can’t make any medical claims, I can tell you that Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil is 100% natural.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fun finds and Valentine’s Day ideas

I have some really unique finds to suggest this month. I hope you like them as much as I did.

Going wild for Beetology…
This definitely qualifies as unique! When I was first approached by Beetology to test out their juices and make cocktails, I was a bit apprehensive. I love beets, but couldn’t imagine drinking them. Even borsht, a well-known Russian soup my father loved, was not my thing.

I took the case of Beetology to my favorite bartender, Lionel, along with the recipes I was given. It was a cold night so there were just a half-dozen of us there. We did some experimenting with the juices, making the Beety Bloody Mary, Tropical Beet-a-colada, Berry-Beet-a-rita, Bourbon Beet-It, and the Beetology Zinger.

A couple people liked the Berry-Beet-a-rita and Beetology Zinger, but we couldn’t say we’d go out of our way to make them again. That’s the bad news. The good news is that we all LOVED the juices on their own. They are very healthy, 100% natural juice with no added sugar, and only 90-100 calories. 

While I’m not putting them in my bar, the extras are in my refrigerator and I suggest you buy the Beetology Beet + Lemon + Gin
ger, Beet + Cherry (the favorite), Beet + Berry (a close second), and Beetology Beet + Tropical Fruit.

Israeli Wines to Try…
I had some delicious wines when I was in Israel, so I was more than willing to try some more. Here are two I really enjoyed. I actually have two more to taste, but I’m running a bit behind here so look for more next month.

Galil Mountain Winery, in the Upper Galilee mountains, has a Sauvignon Blanc that is ideal. It’s light and very citrusy, easy drinking with or without food.

As for red, the Hermon Red from Golan Heights Winery is filled with fruit and semi-dry. At just $12, it’s a bargain you should have on hand.

Kohler treats for Valentine’s Day…
If you are looking for a deliciously appropriate Valentine’s Day gift to send, checkout the offerings from one of my favorite resorts, the American Club at Kohler.

This Valentine’s Day they not only have their luscious chocolates, but they are also selling a sweet libation: Dark Chocolate Brandy. You can purchase chocolates online if you can’t make the trip to Kohler, Wisconsin, and find locations for the brandy here