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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Back with Delicious Finds

Hello, Everyone!

Yes, it’s been awhile. I apologize, but I’ve been recovering from what I hope will be my last back surgery! I have been staying home for months, since I have a compromised immune system and needed to go off my meds for surgery.

Now, I am feeling better and back on my meds and everyone is told to stay home! I’m confident we’ll get out of our houses eventually. I can tell you, from someone who has been social distancing since December, it can be done. Hang in there.

One thing that has kept me entertained is the selection of products that have come to my door. There have been some really good ones these past two months. As usual, there are links to them, and you can find anything sold on Amazon on my influencer page. I always appreciate the support. It’s helpful to earn a little from these items – and I only put what I like on there.

My favorite discovery this year…

Since receiving samples of bNutty, I hardly go a day without having some. I always loved peanut butter, but this product takes it to a new level. Here’s a breakdown of the flavors of gourmet peanut butter I tasted with a few friends:

Totally Toffee-Toffee bits, milk chocolate, and almonds.
Just a little bit of sweet crunch in a tasty peanut butter.

Skinny Dip-Granola, various other nuts, and honey.
This has a lot of delicious flavors going on. I put some in my plain yogurt!

Irresistible Pretzel-Gluten-free pretzels and white chocolate.
We all thought this was very good, but not a good dipper. Take out your spoon or maybe put some on ice cream.

Blissful Blueberries-Blueberries, and milk chocolate.
My friends liked this, and I loved it. In fact, since I opened the jar it’s been the one I gravitate to constantly. With the blueberries, it tastes like peanut butter and jam!

Joyful Cranberries-Dried cranberries, white chocolate, and milk chocolate.
This was the favorite for everyone. The combination of the cranberries and chocolate was just perfect sweet and tart. They sent me a small jar of this and it barely made it through the tasting!

Simply Salted Caramel-Creamy caramel and pink Himalayan salt.
This one was a bit salty for my taste, with more salt than caramel. One friend who likes salty snacks thought it was good.

I have been eating these continually. I will have some on an English muffin for breakfast, or on brownie crackers for a snack, they are also good for dipping pretzels or spreading on a tortilla before you roll it up.

These gourmet peanut butters are good for you with low in sugar. The ingredients are all natural and have health benefits (ok, maybe not the toffee, but that’s a tiny amount).  They are also very reasonably priced, and you can get them on Amazon.

The Ultimate in Chocolate…
There’s one other thing on top of my treat list with peanut butter and that’s chocolate. I like a good deep, dark chocolate most of all. T’oak definitely fit the bill.

T’oak chocolate is not inexpensive, but you understand it when you hear about the detailed process to make the chocolate. It is made with beans from cacao growers in Piedra de Plata, Ecuador, where they practice “dry farming.” Similar to the way they do it in wine, they let nature take its course and do not irrigate. The resulting beans will vary each year, according to the weather.

Barrel aging (whisky and tequila) also brings out a unique flavor in the T’oak chocolate bar. Each bar is from a single roasted cocoa bean and, like fine wine, will mature with age.

In order for me to understand how all this affects their chocolate, T’oak sent me a selection from different years.

Rain Forest 2017 is dark and not too bitter, with mild hints of tobacco and coffee.

El Nino 2016 is my favorite of the plain chocolate as it’s smoother and a bit fruity, with a touch of sweetness.

Rain Forest 2015 is complex, without a bitter start, but coffee on the finish, followed by some smooth sweetness.

The T’oak Tequila Chocolate is delicious. You can taste the spirit, but not so much that it takes away from the rich dark chocolate, but enough that it makes it last longer on your palate.

You can purchase T'oak Chocolate through their website

Cognac and coffee? Yes, please…
While we are on the subject of tasty combinations, Grand Brulot VSOP Cognac Café is another one I’ve tried this past month.

This comes from Tardy Cognac and it starts with a blend of Blanc and Colombard grapes, from which an 80 proof VSOP Cognac is created. The cognac ages for 4-5 years. Meanwhile, 100% Robusta Ecuadorian coffee bean essence is blended with a brandy. That sits for just a few months before it is blended together with the cognac.

This is one I really want to have around for an after-dinner drink, in coffee, over ice cream, or in a martini. It’s not rich like Kahlua and the flavors are much more solid. I’m not sure a non-coffee drinker would enjoy it, but I certainly do. It sells for about $40. 

A Gluten-Free Vodka…
If you are looking for a gluten-free vodka, I recommend Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka. I agree with its award-winning as it’s flavorful with some sweetness, for a perfect mixer or on the rocks spirit. The extra taste comes from using champagne yeast with locally sourced Pennsylvania potatoes.

This vodka is completely handcrafted and totally gluten-free.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Some Flavorful Ogden Spirits

Things have slowed down since the holidays, but I did get a few tasty spirits this month you’ll definitely want to check out.

Porter’s Fruit Whiskey…
When Porter’s asked if I wanted to try out some of their whiskey, I looked at the selection and responded, “Yes” very quickly. It was hard to chose what to try first, but the Peach and Huckleberry sounded like good choices.

Porter’s has produced their whiskey in their micro-distillery in Ogden, Utah, since 2009. Their flavored whiskey (they also have Fire and Apple) consists of Canadian whiskey blended with fruit.

Tasting the Porter’s Peach Liqueur gives you no doubt there are actual peaches involved in the making. This is not just a flavored whiskey. The flavor is strong, with just a bit of sweetness, to give you a great sipper. While I enjoy cocktails out, at home I prefer to have bottles like this you can enjoy with a little ice.

The same could be said about the Huckleberry Liqueur from Porter’s. The peach was a hard act to follow, but Porter’s Huckleberry was a welcome change from the ordinary flavors. It’s a little less sweet than the peach, with enough fruit flavor to make it fine alone or in cocktails.  (You can check out their website for some cocktail recipe ideas.)

Just remember that these are both whiskey-based, and have the 66% proof to go with it.

An Herb-Filled Treat …
Underground Herbal Spirit is actually produced under the same Ogden’s Own brand as Porter’s, but it’s a totally different product.

At first taste, I immediately noted the anise and thought of Sambuca, a favorite of my grandfather’s, but I soon realized the consistency wasn’t as thick, and it wasn’t as sweet. That’s when whole bunch of other flavors exploded in my mouth.

It’s actually 33 flavors I tasted, as that’s the number that make up the Underground Herbal Spirit Liqueur. Among the ones that stand out the most (other than the anise) are the citrus, mint, and cardamom.

I began sipping Underground with ice, but admit it was a bit too much flavor at once after the first two very enjoyable tastes. I added in a bit of water, while my friends mixed it with Coke. We are all fans of this spirit, which was selected as the Best Liqueur in the America's at the Spirits of the America's Competition.

​In case you need another reason to try Underground Herbal Spirit, there’s the added ginseng, which has been touted to boost the immune system.

Off for February…
I’m heading into surgery and will probably not get to review any products in February. I will be back in March with more spirits, food, travel, and beauty products. In the meantime, browse my Amazon Influencer page. They’ve asked me to put up some recommendations and I have some great ones.