Category Archives: Reviews

Cherrylicious!

Hi Everyone! How’s your Sunday going? Can you believe tomorrow is March?!

As I said in my post before, February is National Cherry Month! So, since today is the last day of February, I figured I’d post a recipe featuring Cherries! I basically just came up with this recipe by throwing a bunch of random ingredients in a bowl, and baking it…. and it came out really good! Here it is:

Choco-Cherry and Spice Banana Bread

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all–purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup sugar (I used 1 /2 cup NuNaturals Sweetener Stevia Baking Blend + 1/4 cup brown sugar)

1 tbsp cocoa powder

2 mashed bananas

3/4 cup frozen cherries + 1 tbsp flour + 1 tsp cocoa powder

1/4 tsp vanilla (I used NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia)

1/3 cup egg whites

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 tsp ginger

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray pan an 8×8 pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.

In another medium sized bowl, mash together banana, cinnamon, and ground ginger.

Once combined, stir in egg whites, applesauce, and vanilla.

Set aside. Then, in a smaller bowl combine the cherries, flour, and cocoa powder. The flour will coat the cherries, and keep them from sinking too the bottom of the bread when baking, and the cocoa powder just ensures optimal chocolate flavor!

Next, combine flour mixture and banana mixture in an electric mixer, or by hand, until just blended.

Fold in cherries and chocolate chips. If you are using an electric mixer, do not use it for this part, or the cherries will become mush! Stir them in by hand.

Pour into prepared pan, and bake in oven for about 30 min, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean!

Slice, and DEVOUR! This is sooo good! The cocoa powder and spices blend perfectly together, and the bananas make it super moist! And you can’t forget about the big chunks of cherries and gooey chocolate chips – which are like little treasures hidden throughout the whole bread!

Now tell me that isn’t drool worthy?! Cherries are possibly my favorite things… ever. ūüôā

There were also some featured products in this recipe:

NuNaturals NuStevia Sweetener Stevia Baking Blend, and NuNaturals Pure Liquid Alcohol Free Vanilla Stevia!

Overall Score: 5/5

This was my first time using the Stevia Baking Blend, and I really liked it! I really don’t like artificial sweeteners at all, and much prefer just using regular sugar in my recipes, but Stevia is a totally different story! It’s all natural, and isn’t harmful to your health like other artificial sweeteners can be! Here’s more info about it from the NuNaturals website:

NuNaturals NuStevia Sweetener‚ĄĘ Stevia Baking Blend‚ĄĘ is a revolutionary new ingredient that can be added to recipes to increase the fiber in cakes, cookies and other baked goods. NuStevia Sweetener‚ĄĘ contains multiple fibers that each work in different ways to help your digestive tract function better and stay healthy. NuStevia Sweetener‚ĄĘ contains both soluble and insoluble fibers. Insoluble fiber is good for increasing bulk while soluble fiber forms a thick gel. These fibers help your digestive system work optimally. The USDA recommends that adults take in a minimum of 30 grams of fiber daily. The typical American consumes only 10 to 15 grams of fiber daily making fiber supplementation necessary to maintain a healthy digestive tract. The fibers in NuStevia Sweetener‚ĄĘ are very gentle and will not cause gas or bloating. Our soluble fibers also have prebiotic effects. Prebiotics help feed the beneficial flora in your digestive tract.

By eliminating sugar from your recipe you are going to greatly reduce the calories in the recipe. NuStevia Sweetener won’t raise blood sugar levels the way sugar does so your can keep your blood sugar at healthier levels.

The ingredients in NuStevia Sweetener may help you manage your blood sugar levels more efficiently.

Needless to say, this product rocks!

I also have really been enjoying using the vanilla stevia! I love adding it to not only my baked goods like I did here, but I also love to stir it into my morning oatmeal, or some plain greek yogurt! Here’s more info about it:

NuNaturals has combined Singing Dog Vanilla with our delicious Stevia. Now you can have the delicious taste of vanilla bean extract with our amazing Stevia. Our Alcohol Free Stevia Extract contains 140 mg per ml and is in a base of vegetable glycerine.

For individuals that are sensitive to alcohol, here is a product especially for you. For everyone else, the unique sweet taste that the glycerine imparts makes this a favorite of many NuNaturals Stevia users. The Alcohol Free Extract has a taste that is mellower than the alcohol based liquids.

This has a great vanilla flavor, and definitely tastes all natural, unlike the imitation extracts that you can get at the grocery store!

If you’re looking for a good alternative sweetener, I highly suggest using stevia, instead of the other artificial chemicals out there.

Thank you NuNaturals for sending me these awesome samples, I absolutely love them!

Advertisements

Call the Doctor – These Almonds are Awesome!

Dr. Lankins Awesome Almonds

Overall Score: 4/5

A little while ago I received some awesome samples from Dr. Lankin! I love almonds, they’re so yummy, and they also have tons of nutritional benefits too! They are the best whole food source of vitamin E, in the form of alpha-tocopherol, which may help prevent cancer, and contain more magnesium than oatmeal or even spinach! Also, one ounce of almonds provides you with 12 percent of your daily allowence of protein, and contains as much calcium as a 1/4 cup of milk! ¬†With all of these healthy benefits, the almond makes a perfect healthy snack or a topping for your oatmeal or yogurt, but I have to admit, sometimes they get a little boring! Well, these almonds really¬†liven things up! They come in three delicious and pretty unique flavors! There’s Cinnamon Vanilla, Cocoa Java, and Orange Vanilla!

These Awesome Almonds are made from all natural ingredients of just almonds, pure beet sugar, real vanilla extract, cinnamon, cocoa, coffee and orange juice. They also contain no partially hydrogenated oils, trans fat, or artificial colors. They were also developed by a real doctor!

These almonds all have a nice sugary coating that’s perfectly sweet and crunchy! The texture is really great. They’re not overly sweetened, and not disgustingly sicky sweet like other sugared things tend to be! They all taste natural, not artificial tasting at all, and are super addictive!

The first flavor I tried, Cinnamon Vanilla, was probably my least favorite of the three, however it was still very good! The combonation of the cinnamon and vanilla created a smooth, sweet taste, but there was definitely lots more of a cinnamon flavor than vanilla.


The next flavor I tried was Cocoa Java! This was also really, really good! They were nice and chocolaty, and had a subtle, yet decadent coffee flavor! They’re roasted in coffee, so the flavor isn’t just in the coating, it’s actually in the almond itself, which really takes the flavor to a whole new level! They reminded me of chocolate covered espresso beans! They weren’t too sweet, and had just the right amount of chocolate-coffee balance!


The last flavor, Vanilla Orange was my absolute favorite! Now, before trying these, I was a bit hesitant, only because sometimes I find some orange flavored things to be too “orangey” or artificial tasting, but not these! They tasted like an orange cremesicle! Like the Cocoa Java, these are actually roasted in orange juice, so they flavor is amazing! They vanilla and orange flavors balanced out each other so well, and they orange flavor definitely didn’t overpower like I thought it would!

So, overall, these almonds really do live up to their name – they’re awesome! They’re all incredibly unique, and super tasty too!

Apple of my Eye

What’s not to love about apples? They’re so¬†versatile¬†– they make a super easy grab-and-go snack, and are great for baking! Whether they’re baked, dipped in caramel, or made into a delicious pie or cobbler, they’ll never leave your palate bored!

A couple weeks ago, I¬†received¬†a package from Canterbury Naturals, and in it was an apple cake mix – Little Grandma’s Northwest Apple Cake mix to be exact! Today I figured I’d give it a try!

Canterbury Naturals Little Grandma’s Northwest Apple Cake Mix

Overall Score: 4/5

The instructions for this mix were super easy! All you had to do was add 2 cups of chopped apples (peeled or unpeeled) and two eggs to the package mix…

I also decided to add about a 1/4 cup chopped crystalized ginger for some spice.

Then, all I had to do was mix it all up…

The directions on the mix said there was no need for any extra liquid to be added, but the batter was really dry, so I decided to add a couple tablespoons of plain yogurt.

The yogurt really did the trick. It moistened it up just enough, without making the batter too watery.

Then, I just poured the batter into a non-greased loaf pan (you could use a cake pan, or any other pan that you want, as well)

And pop it in the oven for about 45-55 minutes!

So, my apple bread/cake didn’t come out looking all that pretty, and it fell a little in the middle, but let me tell you – it tasted amazing! It had a nice, crisp outer “shell” or crust, that i actually really liked! Then on the inside, the apples got nice and¬†caramelized and soft, and it had a great¬†consistency! It was so light and airy, and very moist and sweet! I also highly¬†recommend¬†the addition of the¬†crystallized¬†ginger,¬†because¬†it sort of melted into the cakes, and gave it a nice sweet kick, and really balanced about the spices that were already in the mix! The cake tasted like something between gingerbread and apple pie!

Canterbury Naturals also offers a whole variety of other mixes, ranging from crepes, pancakes, muffins, flatbreads, cakes, brownies, fudge, soups, and scones! They also have delicious hot beverage mixes, one of which I was lucky enough to try!

Canterbury Naturals Snuggle Up Vanilla White Cocoa Mix

Overall Score: 3/5

This was really good! It was sweet, and creamy, and does the trick to warm you up on a cold morning! It’s pretty much what you’d expect a white hot cocoa to be – with a nice vanilla flavor. I’m not a huge white chocolate fan myself, but I thought that this was pretty good! Once thing to be sure of though, is no matter what, do not add this to just water! I made the mistake of not reading the package well enough, and added to it water instead of hot milk… and it wasn’t a pretty sight! Make sure that you make this with milk! I also added in some caramel flavored coffee creamer to it, which just made it all the more decadent!

Beyond the PBJ…

HAPPY NATIONAL PEANUT BUTTER DAY!

Today, January 24th is National Peanut Butter Day! In honor this day, I thought I’d review my favorite nut butter… Barney Butter! Yes, I know, Barney Butter is not peanut butter, it is almond butter.. but it’s close enough, right?

Barney Butter

Overall Score: 5/5

Barney Butter is by far my FAVORITE nut butter out there. It has such a unique taste and texture to it that just cannot be matched. It’s slightly sweet, a tiny bit salty, and it’s made from only all natural, healthy ingredients of: Almonds, Evaporated Cane Juice, Palm Fruit Oil, and Sea Salt. I love it so much, because it doesn’t taste ‘healthy’ like other all natural almond or peanut butters. ¬†It’s also not gritty like other nut butters can be… actually, it’s the exact opposite. It’s silky smooth, almost like Jif, but without all of those nasty hydrogenated oils!¬†It doesn’t need to be¬†refrigerated, and it doesn’t have that unpleasant oil separation.

Barney Butter comes in two varieties – smooth and crunchy (the crunchy’s my favorite), as well as single-serve 90 calorie packets. For each serving of Barney Butter, you get more protein than an egg, as much calcium as a 1/4 cup of milk, 14% of your daily fiber, and 8% of your daily iron. It’s also 100% natural, contains no trans fats or hydrogenated oils, has less saturated fat than peanut butter, and is high in magnesium and vitamin E!

My favorite way to enjoy Barney Butter is either between two pieces of bread with jelly (AB&J!), or plopped on top of a nice bowl of steaming hot oatmeal, like Kath and¬†Tina! Since today is National Peanut Butter Day however, I thought I’d get a little creative, and use it in a recipe instead! Here’s what I came up with: Thai Peanut Almond Noodles!

Thai Chicken, Vegetable, and Barney Butter Noodles


Ingredients

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup Barney Butter (or other nut butter) smooth or chunky – I used chunky

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp minced fresh ginger

8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti

Assorted Vega tables: I used about 1 cup each of baby carrots, mushrooms, red bell pepper, brocolli, and snow peas

2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta, and make sure all of your vegetables are chopped to desired size.

Meanwhile, put chicken in a saucepan and cover with water, and bring to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low and let simmer until fully cooked, about 10 minutes.

Once cooked, move chicken onto a cutting board. Once cool enough to handle, shred into small, bite-sized pieces.

For the sauce: whisk together Barney Butter, soy sauce,¬†cilantro¬†and ginger in a large bowl. (I used the same bowl that I’d be serving out of) This mixture will be very thick, but will be thinned out later.

Once pasta water has boiled, cook pasta in water until slightly al dente, about one minute less than specified on package instructions. Add in vegetables (I added all but the mushrooms) to the pasta pot, and cook until the vegetables are just tender, about one minute more. Drain pasta and vegetables, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.

Whisk the reserved cooking water into the Barney Butter mixture.

Add in pasta, vegetables, and chicken, and toss until throughly coated with the sauce.

Makes around 6 servings.

Oh my goodness, this was to die for! The Barney Butter totally made the dish! It just gave it such a nice, smooth, nutty flavor that I absolutely loved, and since it was the chunky kind there was little bits of almonds throughout that gave it a nice crunch! Again, you can definitely make this with any other nut butter, but Barney Butter is one of my favorites!

This would also be great served cold or at room temperature!

Mom was right…

Okay, so I’m sure we’ve all heard ours mothers say it before: “Eat your breakfast! It’s the most important meal of the day!”

Well, your mom was right. Breakfast is, in fact the most important meal of the day! According to the wonderful people at General Mills and MyBlogSpark, studies have shown that kids who eat a healthy breakfast perform better in school! Compared to children who skip breakfast, children who eat breakfast score higher on tests, are less likely to miss class or be tardy, have fewer reported discipline problems, and make fewer trips to the office!  Another study of 16,000 adults revealed those who skipped breakfast tended to weigh more than those who ate breakfast.

Many people say that the reason they don’t eat breakfast is that they don’t have time. Well, even if your mornings seem hectic and you’re rushing around, there are still some easy, and healthy choices that you can eat quickly or on ¬†the run.

The most popular breakfast item these days is probably cereal, especially with children, however there are so many cereals out there, that sometime’s it’s hard to choose one that’s healthy. Lots of cereals these days are packed with sugar, and other scary ingredients, but there is good news for cereal lovers now! The company, General Mills, has announced a commitment to further reduce sugar in cereals advertised to kids under 12 to single digit grams of sugar per serving. The company has already been reducing sugar in cereals while increasing key nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, and providing whole grain!

General Mills also states that ready-to-eat cereal eaters consume less fat, less cholesterol and more fiber than non-cereal eaters? Cereals also deliver important vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients, making cereal a top source of key nutrients in children’s diets.
Other cereal benefits:

  • Ready-to-eat cereals, including presweetened cereals, account for only 5% of sugar in children‚Äôs diets.
  • Ready-to-eat cereal is the No. 1 source of whole grains in a child‚Äôs diet today.
  • More frequent cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights and lower Body Mass Index measures.

How great is that? I bet you didn’t know your favorite breakfast item was that beneficial!

For more information about  kids and cereals, click  here.

The awesome people at General Mills and MyBlogSpark were kind enough to send me complimentary coupons to try some of the General Mills cereal! General Mills offers lots of healthy and delicious cereals, so it was super hard to choose – but the one’s I was lucky enough to sample were Total Blueberry¬†Pomegranate and Chocolate Cheerios!

Total Blueberry Pomegranate

Overall Score: 3/5

This cereal was pretty good! It had a nice fruity blueberry flavor, and a light flaky crunch. The only thing I was¬†disappointed¬†about was the lack of the blueberry¬†pomegranate¬†clusters that it’s supposed to have. There weren’t too many in my box,mostly just flakes. The flavor in the cereal was still very strong, but I just wish there were more of those little clusters you see on the box!

This cereal also has some pretty great nutritional stats:

One Cup of Total provides you with 100% of at least 11 vitamins and mineral your body needs to stay healthy!

Chocolate Cheerios


Overall Score: 4/5

Chocolate Cheerios are new on the shelves, so when I saw them at my grocery store I knew I just had to try a box! These Cheerios are delicious! They’re slightly sweet, with a nice chocolate flavor! They kind of reminded me of Cocoa Puffs, but not as sicky sweet because they are made with real cocoa! They have a nice crunch, just like regular Cheerios, but it’s their rich cocoa flavor that makes them really stand out! These also have some pretty great nutritional stats as well!

They only contain 100 calories per serving, are low fat, saturated fat free, naturally cholesterol free, good source of calcium, good source of vitamin D, made with whole grain, and contain 12 vitamins and minerals! Along with all of that, they also only contain 9 grams of sugar per serving, and may reduce your risk for heart disease!

So, needless to say, these cereals will probably show up in my house again, along with some other delicious and nutritious cereals made by General Mills (browse them all here).

Also, General Mills and MyBlogSpark would like to offer all of you a $1 coupon for one of four of their cereals! Click here to get it!

Thank you General Mills and MyBlogSpark for giving me the chance to your cereals, and learn more about how cereal can be a part of a healthy breakfast!

Nuts About Granola

Nuts About Granola – Plain Jane

Overall Score: 3/5

Nuts About Granola is a small, mother/daughter company, that makes simple, fresh, and delicious granola. They produce three flavors that are available year-round, which are all peanut butter based. There’s the Plain Jane – which is just plain peanut butter flavor, Lovers Combo – which is a combination of chocolate and peanut butter, and College Staple – which is a¬†combination¬†of peanut butter and dried cranberries to make it taste like a PB&J! ¬†They also make several other amazing sounding varieties, such as Carrot Cake and S’mores, but are only available at certain times of the year.

The flavor I was sent to review, Plain Jane, had a nice, nutty peanut butter flavor. It’s made from all fresh, healthy, and recognizable and pronouncable ingredients (oats, peanuts, brown sugar, honey, peanut butter, canola oil, wheat bran, cinnamon, salt), which combine perfectly giving it a slightly sweet, nutty, salty taste. I particularly enjoyed the smooth peanut butter flavor and the subtle touch of cinnamon that it contains as well. The texture of this granola however, is something to note. It’s very different from other granolas I’ve had. It’s very chewy, not crunchy; and just my personal taste, I tend to¬†prefer crunchy, especially when mixing it with yogurt or milk. I did however, ¬†like it’s chewy texture when I was eating it by itself, but when I mixed it in with my yogurt, I really missed the crunch I’m used to. So, to sum it up, the flavor of this granola certainly did not¬†disappoint, and it’s chewy texture makes it a great hand-to-mouth snacking granola!

Not Just for Snacking!

A couple of weeks ago, I recieved a lovely package from Frito Lay! There was all kinds of goodies – most of which just happened to be some of my families favorite snack products! There were the good old Classic Lays Potato Chips, Tostidos Scoops! Tortilla Chips, Fritos Original Corn Chips, Tostidos Medium Salsa, and Salsa Con Queso! Needless to say, everyone in my family were pretty excited and these snacks were devoured within a few days!

There was one snack however, that we had never tried before – Baked! Lays Southwestern Ranch Potato Chips! I’ve had regular Baked! Lays before, but had never heard of this flavor! We were all pretty excited to try it!

Baked! Lays Southwestern Ranch Flavored Potato Chips

Overall Score: 4/5

These chips were a big hit in my house! As with the other Baked Lays products, these chips are light and not greasy.¬† The Ranch flavor isn’t just those annoying seasonings on top of the chips that usually end up all over your fingers, ¬†it is baked right into the chip itself so the flavor really lasts on your palate.¬†¬†The ranch flavor is present at your first bite but then because the spices are baked in you get hit slightly in the back of your throat with a kick of the red pepper blend. ¬†They are baked, not fried so you definately don’t have the guilt if you eat most of the bag!

After trying these chips, I thought it would be fun to use them in a recipe! Here’s what I came up with:

Southwestern Potato Crusted Tenders


Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs – 2 lbs Chicken Tenderloins or chicken cut into thin strips
  • 1 1/2 cups ¬†Baked Lays Southwestern Ranch Potato Chips
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used homemade [RECIPE TO COME!] but this can easily be substituted with sour cream, mayo, ranch dressing, or your most common egg/milk mixture!)

Directions

Place chips in a bag, and crush into crumbs. Once fully crushed, transfer to a plate. Spoon yogurt onto another plate.

Dip the chicken pieces first in the yogurt and then dredge in the potato chips. Get them as covered as possible.

Once coated in the chips, place in a 9√ó13 greased baking sheet.

Put in oven for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees.

MMMM… these were sooo good! Crunchy and flavorful from the Southwestern Ranch Chips! I served these along side some baked sweet potato fries and some sweet corn! It was a really great meal!

Any leftovers would be great cut up on top of Nachos – Just layer Tostidos Scoops!, the chicken, and shredded cheese, and pop in the microwave for a couple minutes until the cheese had melted! You could even serve the nachos with Tostidos Salsa or Salsa Con Queso too!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As for the other products:

My mom loves Fritos Рespecially along side a good horseradish dip! And the Classic Lays paired with a yummy sandwich! My dad loves the salsa paired with the Scoops!, or with a good plate of cheesy Nachos!

My brother loves it when I make him his favorite Philly Cheese Steak Quesadilla – he dips it in the Salsa Con Queso…

…and of course has some Scoops! on the side!

For the Quesadilla, all I do is cook up some Philly Cheese Steak meat on the stove top, then layer it in between two flour tortillas with lots of shredded cheese! Then I just pop it into the microwave for two minutes, and it’s done! He also likes it with pepperoni inside too! What can I say.. my brother loves his meat and cheese!