Saturday, July 24, 2021

Getting Healthy for Summer

I have lots of healthy and plant-based selections for this month, but I couldn’t not mention tequila. After all, July 24th is National Tequila Day – a.k.a. my birthday!


A tastier gluten-free option...

I love sweet potatoes so I was more than happy to receive some Let’s Do Organic Sweet Potato Flour made from the vegetables from my friends at Edward & Sons.

This flour is full of flavor and fiber. It also holds moisture better than a lot of other flours. I was excited to put this together with chocolate. My Loaded Sweet Potato Brownies were a big hit.

Tip: sweet potato flour can burn at lower temperatures than other flours, so avoid it (or mix it) in recipes that cook at high temperatures. 



Then there’s Casava…

I didn’t know much about casava before the flour bag came along. It’s made from the cassava root so it is gluten and grain-free.  It’s also high in Vitamin C. 

Casava flour can easily substitute 1:1 for regular flour. I haven’t had a chance to create anything unique with it yet, but I did try the small batch Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on the back of the Let’s Do Organic Cassava Flour bag. They were delicious! There was just a little bit of extra flavor in there. 



More plant based cooking…

Ecuadora Organic Hearts of Palm Lasagne is a most unusual product. Personally, I have a problem calling vegetables pasta. Maybe it’s my Italian background. That doesn’t mean I don’t thoroughly enjoy meatless dishes and know there are many around me who do often cook with noodles made from veggies.

Regardless of which category you fall into, it’s definitely work giving this product a try. It’s not going to get me to give up a pan of lasagna, but I love the combo of hearts of palm, tomato sauce, and cheese.

If you are looking to keep your dish vegan, Edward & Sons has you covered on that too. Parma! is plant-based parmesan cheese. I was really leery about this one. It surprised me with how much it tasted like the real thing. It also worked in consistency.

 



It’s Better Than Milk…


It seems like there’s a new type of milk every time you turn around. I’m one who doesn’t get along with a lot of dairy in my diet and, unfortunately, the same goes for almond, coconut, and oat.

I had never tried rice milk and was excited to do so when I was sent samples from Better Than Milk. In this case,  what I liked best was that it didn’t have much taste. It is perfect for adding to cereal, smoothies, and other recipes where you don’t want to add an extra flavor.

The Better Than Milk Rice Hazelnut is the opposite. It’s has that nutty flavor and I could definitely drink it straight, or in a smoothie I wanted more taste in. It was also good in my Cream of Wheat, waffles, and pancakes.

 As for the other Better Than Milk varieties, I had some friends taste the Almond and Oat drinks and they thought they were some of the best they’ve had.

                                  

 A different kind of CBD…

I haven’t found a lot of luck with health benefits from CBD, though I do use CBD Living’s Roll-on every day. The combination of menthol and CBD helps ease my back pain. I was too intrigued by ZV Botanicals not to give their bitters a try. After all, when do I say no when it has to do with cocktails?

ZV Botanicals combines Ayurveda, an ancient medicine, herbs in their products. They are all organic and handcrafted. Included in their selection are massage oils, healing salves, mouth pull oil, therapeutic tinctures, and digestive bitters.

It was the last item that I was very curious about. These full-spectrum CBD bitters are made for your drinks, whether they are alcoholic or water.

The LIFT has a bit of licorice flavor and is not at all bitter thanks to a tiny bit of sugar. You don’t need to create anything fancy for this one. A couple of drops in your sparkling wine would make a cocktail in itself and you might even see some health benefits. It’s also a good way to put some natural flavor in your vodka.


I also received Rosé LOVE Bitters from ZV Botanicals. This was a completely different taste, which I also enjoyed. It follows its name with lots of floral notes. While it’s suggested with gin, I wouldn’t mix it with a spirit already loaded in botanicals. I would put it in its namesake, Rosé wine, and if you don’t have any, it’s a perfect addition to that inexpensive white you weren’t sure you like! It would also be excellent in iced tea (even the alcoholic one).


 

Happy National Tequila Day...



Canned cocktails are becoming more popular as people are hitting the outdoors. Tequila Cazadores provided me with my first experience with tequila ones and it won’t be the last.

The three options give a nice variety of what you’d expect from tequila cocktails. The Margarita has that true lime flavor, even though it mentions orange liqueur as an ingredient. It’s as refreshing as a margarita should be.

 Paloma is heavy on the grapefruit juice, which is a good mixer for tequila and keeps with the summertime theme. As for the Spicy Margarita, it wasn’t at all spicy, and very similar to the regular Margarita.

 You can purchase the Tequila Cazadores canned cocktails in packs of four. They retail for $14.99.


Addition to the bucket list…
I haven’t traveled to Mexico in a long time, but there’s an item on my bucket list that seems appropriate for me to mention on this special birthday I’m celebrating today.  


The Jose Cuervo Express Train is an experience tequila lovers will never forget. It takes you from Tequila (the town) to Guadalajara in a luxurious train while you learn about the spirit and taste cocktails between stops.  You’ll even get to tour the agave fields.


Thursday, March 18, 2021

March Madness

It’s all about March Madness around here as the Fighting Illini are not only back in the NCAA Championship, but they are the No. 2 team in the country. Whether or not you are cheering a specific team, it is nice to know that sporting events are coming back.


Celebrate your hometown…


I got to celebrate the first round of the tournament with some special glassware from Well Told College Town. They decided to do something a little different with their university memorabilia. Instead of logos, these have maps of the actual cities on them. I loved the two (one orange, one blue) glasses of the downtowns of Champaign and Urbana.



Light wine…



The games will be going on for two weeks, so you don’t want to overdo on the drinks. I love Rosé Water, which conveniently comes in cans. It reminds me of a wine spritzer (the kind you got in the bar, not the bottle). It tastes like wine and club soda, but since it’s rose from Boudreaux, it’s a little more flavorful than a white wine spritzer. Each can is only 69 calories. There’s no sugar and only 4.9% abv.



 Another for easy sipping…


Stewart’s Premium Spiked Seltzer is another light option for watching the games. Each can is 100 calories, gluten free, and vegan. They have just a tiny amount (no more than 01g added sugar). The alcohol is also low at 5%.

Black Cherry and Orange Cream were the favorites. They also come in Raspberry Lime and Root beer.


Don’t forget the protein...


The Elxr Co has a great blend of superfoods to make a delicious, healthy  protein shake with.* The Balance Superfood Protein Powder. It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and said to improve cholesterol and signs of aging. At 160 calories, 22 grams of protein, and only two grams of sugar, it’s a nutritional powerhouse, but a bit pricey at $67.


Kind for Equality...

Kind Bars are always a tasty, natural choice for snacking, but the company also is about doing good. They set me some of their KIND Bars Equality Salted Carmamel Dark Chocolate Almond Bars. It's one of those limited additions for a cause, this one part of a multi-year empathy program to support Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. You Can purchase them on Amazon. 

 

*Full disclosure, it contained some ingredients I am allergic to so I had a few friends try it for me.