Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Get Clean on the Inside and Out

There’s no doubt that fall is here. Pumpkin spice is appearing everywhere and there is definitely a chill in the air. We are all craving different things and I certainly have them.

Let’s start with the pumpkin…
When I heard PBFit, the healthy and delicious powdered peanut butter, now has a Pumpkin Spice, I couldn’t wait to try it. Once I got the container, I did have to think about it. It turns out there is quite a few things you can do with it, from adding it to yogurt and smoothies, to sprinkling it on oatmeal.

I wanted to create something unique with it. Since I have a new puppy in the house, I was thinking about dog treats. On the other hand, cookies sounded like a good idea. Why not do one that you can use for both? That’s exactly what I did when I created Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Cookies. Check out the recipe here. Both Teddy and I loved them.

More Flax 4Life…
I mentioned last month that I had received a big box of Flax4Life products. I found two more products in the box that I’d like to recommend.

The Flax4Life Wild Blueberry Muffin was really delicious. It’s packed with nine grams of protein, six grams of fiber, and 4460 mg of Omega 3.  My favorite part is that it’s full of real blueberries.

For another healthy fruit-filled treat, I tried the Flax4Life Hawaiian Snacking Granola. These soft piece of granola are gluten-free, with five grams of protein and 2440 mg of Omega 3. The natural flavors from pineapple, mango, and coconut are great. They also come in Apple Cinnamon. 

Keep it clean…
I received another box of products to try out from Scott’s Liquid Gold, who now owns Biz , Dryel, and OxiClean. It was quite a collection and I can tell you that I see the difference in my clothes, as well as Teddy’s.

I’m not getting dressed up much these days, but my friend, Betty, works in an office and made good use of the Dryel At Home dry cleaner. For less than the dry cleaner, without the trip, this kit gets your clothes steam cleaned in the dryer safely. They also smell great!

I’ve never tried any Biz Stain Fighter products before, but I am sold after trying their detergent and booster. They work for most of my laundry (I didn’t take a chance of the brightening on darks), even in cold water.  Even Teddy's stuffed toys are looking brighter. 

OxiClean has always been in my laundry room as a stain remover. Now, I don’t need to wait until then to use it. They have a Stain Stick which works quickly and easily, and is easy to carry around. There’s even a tip to scrub the liquid in to make sure it’s absorbed.

More dressing...
I’m getting toward the end of the Plant Junkie products. It’s a terrific line and the Chia Ranch Dressing did not disappoint, although I wouldn’t say typical ranch is the outstanding taste. Like their other products, it’s 100% plant-based and includes avocado oil. 


A reminder...
I receive many products complimentary to try, with the understanding that I only write about what I like. You will never see a product on here just because I got it for free. I only write about what I like. There are affiliate links to some products and I always appreciate the little bit of income from clickthroughs ;)


Monday, August 31, 2020

The Sampling Boxes Keep Coming

With things so slow in the travel industry right now, I’m receiving more samples than ever and many are quite unusual. I especially love when I have ingredients to create recipes with and am trying to do at least one of those a month.

Cocktail in a bottle…

It’s always nice to keep it simple in the summertime. There are times when I like to fuss with cocktails when sitting outside with friends, but most of the time I just want to pour a drink. Alize has a selection of fruit vodkas, a few of which I’ve tried before.

The latest is Alize Mango. Forget the words “flavored vodka,” Alize makes it taste more like fruit with vodka. The mango is subtle and I almost taste a little peach in there. It’s fruity without any phony or super sweet taste.

This is a bottle you want to keep in the fridge and, depending on how strong you like it, just add a little ice, water, or soda. If you want to fuss a little more, put it in a blender with the ice and you’ve got an instant frozen drink.

SOS your thirst…

Keeping hydrated is especially important in the warmer months. SOS Hydration was conceived by a team that consisted of a doctor, retired military medical officer and two former athletes, who wanted to an optimum product for rehydration. The result is a product that quenches your thirst, and fills your body’s needs as much as an IV drip (according to the company), without loading you up with things you don’t, such as sugar.

I received a selection of packet flavors (they have berry, mango, citrus, and watermelon). They are very convenient and already measured for a bottle of water. I found them to be tasty, with the watermelon definitely my favorite.

SOS Hydration is keto friendly and gluten-free. The company also gives back donations to hospitals. You can purchase them on Amazon

Let’s not forget antioxidants…

Hydration isn’t the only thing we can add to our water. Pure Inventions has a selection of infusions that can provide you with additional benefits in delicious flavors.

Although I have a highly compromised immune system, I am leery of taking vitamins and supplements because there are just too many unnecessary fillers. I quickly became a huge fan of the Antioxidant Superfruit Blend. All this contains are healthy fruits I wouldn’t think twice about eating: cranberry, elderberry, red raspberry, LoHan, and licorice. There is a bit of stevia in it. It’s great to put in smoothies too. Purchase it here. 

Pure Innovations has a whole selection of other infusions, such as blueberry and white tea, and hibiscus flower, as well as coconut infusions. For those like me who have heard the benefits of coconut water but can’t quite stomach it, the Coconut Infusion drops are perfect to control the amount for tasty water (or protein shakes) without an overpowering taste or after taste.


Keep track of your fitness…

You’ll need all your replenishing waters during your fitness time, and you’ll want to keep track of that fitness. I was able to try out two fitness watches from YAMAY this month. Both are great buys – and under $50.

YAMAY fitness watches work well with various both IOS and Android smart phones through the (free) Very Fit Pro App. I have an iPhone so I can even connect this information to Apple Health.

The first one I tried was the YAMAY IP68 Waterproof Digital Watch. I think it is a great deal for the $35 price (check Amazon for exact current price). It’s got a very large display so you can see it from everywhere. The charging is quick and easy. I love the khaki band, and there are many more to chose from.

My favorite attribute is the Relax option. It helps you to slow down your breathing and relax. It’s good to help to get to sleep or just for a relaxing break during the day.

I then went to the newer model, the YAMAY IP68 2020. I think it’s well worth the additional $10 to get not only the benefits of the first watch, but it also has the ability to take blood pressure and oxygen. I also found the battery to be very long lasting – I haven’t charged it in four days. You can get that model here.


PBFit makes the perfect treats…

I can never get enough PBFit, so when I receive a jar in the mail, I’m ready to start making something! This time it was Peanut Butter Treat Bars, that take Rice Krispy Treats to a whole new level. You can find the recipe here.


Flax for gluten…

Flax4Life sent me a box of their bakery items, all full of fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and protein, while remaining gluten-free. I’ll post about the ones I like, which right now is definitely the Mint Chocolate Brownies. These satisfy my sweet tooth while giving me two grams of protein (per brownie) and 689 mg of Omega 3 fat.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Food and Drinks You’ll Want for Summer Fun

This is the first July in a long time where I’m not featuring tequila. With July 24th officially National Tequila Day, as well as my birthday, it’s been a standard column.

This year, I feel that I’ve been doing a lot of tequila year long and have been receiving a lot of other yummy products to try. I guarantee you’ll be thirsty and hungry by the time you are done reading this!


Speaking of my birthday…

Baked Cravings is a bakery in New York City that is peanut and tree nut free. They ship some of their treats nationally, including their Cupcakes in a Jar.

Their feature flavor is Cookies & Cream and it arrived at my door in time for my birthday breakfast. I am never one to turn down cake for breakfast and this one was utterly amazing. Although cookies & cream would not have been my first choice, this one was perfect. The chocolate cake was deep and rich and the cream was sweetened just enough.

Baked Cravings has many other flavors of their Cupcakes in a Jar. You can order on their website.  


A fun way to mix up cocktails…

I tried Shots Box when they first started and it was a bit different then. It was a subscription service to allow you to try different spirits every month in small shot-sized bottles.

Shots Box has expanded quite a bit since then, now offering delivery of full bottles. They still have shot boxes, and also have kits for those who love a single spirit – or want to experiment with cocktails.

I got the perfect summer set, a Rum Box. It came with 10 different rums, as well as a recipe for each one. I had a good time mixing up cocktails (which we split up so each of my friends could taste). Our favorites among them were: Sea Monster Mai Thai with Kracken White Label Black Spiced Rum; Sammy’s Rum-A-Rita with Sammy’s Beach Bar White Rum; and Classico Sparkling Mojito with Classico No. 2 White Rum Superior.

Visit the Shots Box website to see their current offerings and get a box for your next get together.


Protein bars you want to try…

I always have protein bars in the house, in my pocketbook, and in my car. I’m notorious for getting involved in something and forgetting to eat. I was excited to try UNiTE Bars and they didn’t disappoint.

First, I give a shoutout to the unusual flavors of UNiTE: Churro, Mexican Hot Chocolate, and PB&J. They were all quite good. I loved the dark chocolate with hints of spicy cinnamon in the Mexican Hot Chocolate. The Churro was not overly sweet like one would expect, but flavorful. The PB&J turned out to be too good and natural as I got carried away and didn’t realize it was real strawberry, which I’m allergic to! Fortunately, it is a mild allergy.

The bars are all-natural and gluten-free, with 10 grams of protein and limited to 10 grams of sugar. You can purchase them online here.

Spiritless Cocktails?

Whether you are a designated driver, not in the mood to drink, or not able to because of a medical condition or prescription, I think we’ve all had a time where we were abstaining from alcohol. Usually that means you are sipping water or soda. Spiritless is another option: a tasty bourbon with no alcohol.

Kentucky 74 is crafted and barrel-aged to taste just like bourbon without affecting your mind or body. It’s made to mix into cocktails just the way you would use regular bourbon.

I received a Spiritless cocktail kit with the ingredients (except the mint, which I got at my local market) to make Mint Juleps and New Fashions. They tasted just look their alcoholic counterparts. 

It worked out great for my get together, where the drivers were able to indulge in as many as they wanted without worrying, while a friend not driving had the same exact cocktails we did with regular bourbon. You can order Spiritless Kentucky 74 on their website.

A serum you’ll love…

I started trying Vitabrid skin care last month when my daughter gave me some samples. I liked the mask, but I absolutely love the Vitabrid Vitamin C12 Dual Drop Serum. I have never seen such a dramatic difference in my skin in less than a week. My skin was smoother, yet not stiff or dry.

Vitabrid Vitamin C12 Dual Drop Serum is available to buy on Amazon.  


More from Plant Junkie…

I’m still experimenting with the products I received from Plant Junkie, makers of natural plant-based products. This month, I decided to give their Plant Junkie Thai Peanut Vinaigrette a try and it made a simple and delicious salmon salad – perfect for a hot day!

Thai Peanut Salmon salad
1 lb. cooked rotini
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumbers, diced
2 cups cooked salmon chunks
½ bottle Plant Junkie Thai Peanut Vinaigrette

Put all ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and chill!

Plant Junkie products are available on Amazon.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Healthy Eating and Treats for Your Body

It’s a rare month where I am not reviewing a selection of wine and liquor, but I didn’t run out of other things to try. Here is the best of it.

How about some tahini for a change?
I’ve always liked tahini, but I’m never really sure what to do with it. Fortunately for us, Mighty Sesame Co. has figured it out.

The one thing I’ve had with tahini that I love the most is halvah. It is hard to get and very high in calories and sugar. (I was thrilled when I was in Israel and it was a staple on the breakfast buffet.) The Mighty Sesame Tahini Bars don’t have either of those problems. They taste like halvah,  but it’s all organic, only 100 calories, and just six grams of sugar. I had the Vanilla. It also comes in Pistachio and Cocoa Nibs, which have the same low-calorie count.

Another product I got from Mighty Sesame was the Organic Tahini Squeeze Bottle. This can be used on sandwiches, salads, or hummus. I liked it just on an English muffin, instead of Peanut Butter. At eight grams of protein, it’s worthy of an exchange. I do suggest putting it in the refrigerator as it can get a little watery if it’s sitting out.

The lone liqueur…
Sometimes I need to enlist my friends more than other times. That was the case with RumChata Limon. Unfortunately, I have a mild citrus allergy. One sniff from the bottle told me there was too much lemon in there for me to safely drink. My friend Jayne was happy to take charge of the bottle. She shared it with some family, and it was a hit.

Everyone loved this lemon-filled cordial, some more than the original RumChata. To make it even better: put the bottle in the freezer for a bit before you drink it. You can also make this Lemon Sorbet with it.

Another tasty lemon…
Ironically, I received another product that was a bit too lemony for me and was able to get the same group to finish their liquor with some Wissotzky Nana Mint Herbal Lemon Tea.  

It too was a hit and I’m going to need to try one of the teas without lemon since I’m a big mint tea fan.

More Vitabrid…
I had another sheet mask from Vitabrid to try and I think this one was even better than the last. The Deep Hydration & Moisture Dual Mask really brightened and moistened my face. I also loved that it didn’t need to be washed off, so I could rub in whatever was left. It kept my skin looking good all day.

Another from Plant Junkie…
This month I tried the Plant Junkie Chia Ranch Dressing and it was a great taste. I also love that it has virtually no sugar in it – and doesn’t need it. Stay tuned for a few more products from this company.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

So Much to Try, So Little Time

I know that headline sounds a bit silly for someone who hasn’t traveled anywhere in over six months, but it’s true. I do have a lot here and I’m trying to give it all a fair try. Here’s what I have gotten to in May.

Just what I was looking for…
I haven’t stepped foot in a store for many months because of the coronavirus. Last week, I was looking through my stash of boxed cards and was thinking about how boring they were. I had forgotten all about what was in my “to be reviewed” cabinet.

Girl w/Knife was created by Elicia Castaldi. The designer mixes beautiful creations with interesting messages for all occasions. They all have an obvious feminine touch, so they are perfect to or from women.

The beautiful cards are very reasonably priced at $5 each. Girl w/Knife also sells journals, wrapping paper, and notepads. Everything is available in stores around the world and you can also purchase them online on their website.  

An ethnic variety in this cookbook…
With part of my heritage in Jewish-style cooking, I was intrigued by Deep Flavors: A celebration of recipes for foodies in a Kosher style. The book, by Kenneth M. Horwitz, is filled with ethnic recipes with what he calls, “essential, high quality and fresh ingredients” not “dumbed-down recipes.”

This is where the quandary comes in. You are not going to fight quick and easy recipes in this book. You are going to find ingredients you need to shop for, and multiple steps to get things on your plate. You’ll also find these are not the healthiest, especially with chicken schmaltz (basically cooked chicken fat) as an often-used ingredient.

 Given my cooking background, I can’t disagree with the way Horwitz presents these recipes. It is the way to make these things to their ultimate taste.  The book is thorough in its details of food safety, selecting ingredients, making sauces, ad everything from soups to desserts.

If you are looking for authentic Jewish cooking, such as Noodle Kugel, Meat Kreplach, and Matzoh Balls, this is the way to get the right instructions. You’ll also find recipes for other ethnic foods, like Moroccan Stew, Baklava, and one of my favorites, Baba Ghanoush.

Healthy options…
I’m just getting started with the box full I received from Plant Junkie. My first sampling was of their Avocado Oil Spread & Dressing. I am quite impressed. In fact, I have been reaching for it everyday (it was perfect in my chicken salad).

This mayonnaise substitute is completely plant based, is low in sodium and saturated fat (only 1 g) and has no sugar. Avocado oil is the number one ingredient. You can purchase it right on Amazon.

I have a bunch of dressings from Plant Junkie I’ll be sampling in the next month.


Cheers to this vodka…
I receive a lot of vodka. I don’t write about the ones I don’t like and, quite frankly, I’ve been refusing to sample some because there’s just so much out there. Headwind Vodka had some unique characteristics that caught my interest.

This vodka is created in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Oregon. It recently won the Gold Medal in the World Spirits Competition. It’s uniquely crafted, with a gluten-free grain (corn), distilled six times and filtered twice with pure, local water.

This vodka is made even more fascinating by the fact that they don’t strive to make each bottle the same. The goal is to make each bottle unique. My bottle is from Batch No. 1 and is No. 7615, bottled 6/24/19, according to the label, which is made with birchwood.

Headwind is light and slightly sweet from the corn, with a smooth finish that has a touch of vanilla. It’s easy to drink, even straight. At $21.99, it’s a good buy.

A great start…
I’m not usually a fan of sheet masks. Obviously, we all have different shaped faces, so they aren’t going to ever fit right. I did have to change my tune after using VitaBrid Dual Mask.

My daughter actually gave me a few items to check out from them. I picked up the mask one day last week when my face seemed especially dull. Right away I was impressed with how creamy it felt. The other thing I loved about it is that you don’t wash it off, you rub it in (after 20 min with the sheet on). That way I was able to cover any areas the mask didn’t originally touch.

My skin was definitely softer, brighter, and a little firmer. I’m looking forward to trying the other VitaBrid products. You can purchase the mask here.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

An Assortment of Goodies for your Inside and Out

A lot of products have come in the last month or two. I’m catching up as fast as I can, but I always want to try something before I promote. When it comes to health and beauty products, that means trying a few times.

As always, my policy that is I write about the good things I want to pass along. Anyone who sends products for sampling knows that it will only be written about if I like it. That goes the same for my Amazon Influencer page

Hello, Miss Spa…
I love finding good skin care that I can buy (for a reasonable price) in my local drugstore. Miss Spa sent me two products that are going to continue to be part of my beauty routine.

Hydration Hookup is a “skin quenching serum.” It contains Hydraulic Acid and CoQ10. I used it on my face for two weeks and I really like the results. Though I didn’t feel it hydrating enough for my face, a serum should be followed by a moisturizer and I just made it a richer one for my dry skin. What I did see was that my skin was a bit smoother and a few wrinkles started to fade.

The Miss Spa Rich Face lived up to all its claims as an illuminating mask for skin. It’s filled with 24K gold and peptides. I definitely felt it every time I used it. My skin was brighter and healthier looking. This is another product that will remain by my bathroom vanity.

A little CBD for every body…
My experience with CBD products has not been very positive. I’ve tried some tinctures, oils, and lotions, and never felt anything positive for my body inside or out. I had pretty much given up, but the folks at CBD Living were insistent that I try their products.

CBD Living products are 100 mg Broad Spectrum CBD. They are vegan, soy-free, GMO free, and cruelty-free. What they sent me was one of each of the items in their travel line.

I wouldn’t say I’m ready to go off any medications or find myself cured of any chronic disease, but I did find some benefit to their products. The one that helped me the most was the Salve. I’ve been having some problems with an old injury on my foot and ankle and rubbing just a tiny bit on there before bed each night has definitely helped me sleep better.

While I didn’t find it to have a long-lasting affect, I do believe the Freeze, a roll-on gel for sore muscles, worked at least as well as my Icy Hot – without the smell.

As for the lotion and lip balms, they feel good on my skin and time will tell if the natural hemp extract has any other affect.

Chill that wine…
VinOice is a must for wine-lovers. I will always have one in my freezer so that I don’t have to worry if I have the bottle, I want to open chilled. All I need to do is pop the cork, slip the VinOice in, and my wine chills as it pours.

This product is great because it’s not just to get your wine cold. You can leave it in to keep the wine cold. Then, you can leave it in for storage, without drips.  You can purchase one on Amazon for yourself or as the perfect housewarming gift.

Another delicious crème…
I have been a huge fan of the Appalachian Sippin Creams, especially the Pumpkin Spice Latte, which inspired this recipe. Sugarlands Distilling sent me another sample which I think tops them all.

Banana Pudding Sippin Cream is definitely dessert in a glass, but, at 40 proof, you’ll get into a lot of trouble if you have too many portions. It’s a powerful banana daiquiri that doesn’t require the work. I really love this liqueur.

I also want to mention that Cork Pops, the maker of VinOice, and Sugarlands Distilling are two of the distilleries who are now making hand sanitizer. You can read about distilleries who have gotten into the hand sanitizer business on my story here.