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Thursday, May 21, 2015

How to Eat Healthy with Celiac Disease

I was provided product to try out. No other compensation was given. All thoughts are my own.

The month of May is Celiac Awareness Month, and I want to shed some light on this important month. I am offering some great tips to those of you who struggle with gluten intolerance, sensitivity or those who just choose not to eat gluten.
Did you know 1 in 133 Americans are diagnosed with Celiac Disease according to Celiac Central, leaving those with gluten intolerance in an on-going battle to find truly gluten free options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between! When many people start eating gluten free, they have no idea about how many healthy foods they can eat. First off, remember, you can eat all the fruit, veggies, meat, fish, nuts, eggs, dairy, and healthy oils you want! Fill your plate with lots of healthy vegetables, a palm size portion of protein, and a thumb size amount of fat. In between your meals, snack on fruit, veggies, nuts or perhaps some of the healthier snack options I am sharing with you today. 

Some other tips for gluten-free eating:
  •  Be careful about salad dressings and sauces – gluten can hide in surprising places.
  • Check your labels – wheat-free does not necessarily mean gluten-free.
  • Prepare and serve gluten-free foods in a clean area of your kitchen, to ensure no traces of gluten make their way to particularly sensitive folks. 
Check out some of my favorite gluten free recipes:

Italian Chicken Soup
Italian Lemon Chicken
Italian Meatballs
Mexican Chicken
Southwest Egg Frittata
Chewy Cinnamon Brownies
Sweet and Spicy Carrot/Sweet Potato Soup
Zucchini Breadsticks (without grains/gluten)

Now here are a few tasty treats you can also eat, without worrying about gluten.

When you are having guests over, and you want to offer a crunchy snack that everyone will love, try out Crunchmaster Crackers. They have tons of flavors and varieties. My favorites are the Multi- Seed Crackers Original, Multi-Seed Crackers Rosemary & Olive Oil, and Multi-Grain Crackers White Cheddar. I love these because they are a tasty alternative to most crackers, which do contain gluten. They are made from simple ingredients, and certain varieties, like the mult-seed crackers, are GMO free. I hope they make all their varieties GMO free soon.
Not only does Crunchmaster provide great gluten free snacks, but they are offering you recipe ideas and free coupons. Take advantage of that!

Mary’s Gone Crackers, a line of organic, gluten free and non-GMO pretzels are also a very tasty snack when you want something crunchy and flavorful. They come in Sea Salt, Everything and Chipotle Tomato varieties, all of which are full of flavor! These pretzel-snacks are a unique blend of whole grains including brown rice, quinoa, amaranth and millet, as well as tasty and nutritious seeds including flax, sesame and chia.

I think these are a great alternative to typical pretzels, which are full of gluten. Enjoy a handful of these pretzels with a handful of carrots, and you have a great snack.

If you are looking for a delicious and nutritious snack bar, let me recommend one of my favorites - the Gluten Free Bar. The name really says it all, doesn't it? They use the humble pea, which is packed with protein, cholesterol free and low in fat – not to mention vegan, gluten and lactose free. They combine pea protein with brown rice to  make a complete protein source of around 10-12 grams.
I am always looking for healthy ways to get more protein in my diet, and these have become a wonderful afternoon snack for me. Not only are they high in protein, but they are also high in fiber and made with all-natural and GMO-free ingredients. I love how clean the ingredients are - no fillers or additives and certified gluten-free, vegan, and Kosher. Does something this healthy taste good? Yes! In fact, they are made by a pastry chef, and each bite is filled with tasty ingredients like toasted cashews, Virginia peanuts, certified gluten-free oats, crisped brown rice, and dried cranberries. I also LOVE their Gluten Free Bites, which are just smaller versions of the same healthy and delicious treats. I am going to be ordering more soon!
If you are looking for more than a snack, turn to Artisan Bistro. They make delicious, organic and gluten free frozen foods. I Artisan Bistro begins each recipe by selecting only super-premium, real food ingredients including free-range chicken, grass fed beef, and wild-caught sustainable fish. Is that not awesome? From seafood bowls to burritos to breakfast entrees, they have a gluten free meal for all your cravings.


Two of my favorite varieties are:
  • Wild Salmon – wild-caught Alaskan salmon with rosemary orange glaze, served with whole grain cranberry walnut rice pilaf, and broccoli.
  • Grass-Fed Beef with Mushroom Sauce - grass-fed beef in roasted mushroom sauce, with french lentils and a veggie medley
It is hard enough to find good quality Alaskan salmon and grass-fed beef in the grocery store sometimes, which is why I love that Artisan Bistro cares so much about the quality of their proteins. All their meals are gluten free and contain non-GMO ingredients. On top of all that, you will love that these are not skimpy dinners that leave you feeling hungry. They are great balanced dinners that fill you up and taste great!

Now, it is dessert time. If you are looking for an alternative to gluten heavy desserts, Bare Snacks has got you covered! They make crunchy baked apple and coconut chips. They most recently launched their Chocolate Bliss Crunchy Coconut Chips. Crafted from sweet and fragrant Nam Hom coconuts grown exclusively in Thailand’s Central Plains, Chocolate Bliss Crunchy Coconut Chips are made with real, whole-food ingredients (coconut, coconut nectar, unsweetened chocolate) and are free of preservatives, gluten, GMOs. They are a good source of dietary fiber – not to mention the perfect healthy addition to yogurt, fruit salads and oatmeal. I absolutely love these! They are the perfect snack, but watch out - it is easy to eat the whole bag!

Brownie Thins from PARTNERS, A Tasteful Choice Company, are another gluten-free sweet treat. They are made with cassava flour and contain no corn, soy or rice. A blend of five ancient grains makes Brownie Thins a crunchy, non-GMO snack that will satisfy your cravings with just a thin or two. They are very rich and taste absolutely delicious!
They also offer lots of other gluten-free snack options that you will love. See, going gluten free is not as hard as you first thought!

Now, how about a little gluten free treat?

We are giving away (2) 4-ounce packs of PARTNERS Brownie Thins to (1) lucky winner. Yum!! Enter below.


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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

2 Energizing Drinks You Will Love

I was provided product to review. No other compensation was given. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

If you are in need of an energizing boost, skip the energy drinks and caffeine sodas, full of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Instead, try one of these healthy energizing drinks!


I am a huge fan of green tea. It has sooooo many health benefits, including giving you tons of antioxidants, helping with cancer prevention, giving you anti-bacterial and cholesterol reducing effects, helping you lose weight, and giving you a boost of energy!

I love my green teas from TeaVivre. They offer the highest quality Chinese teas, and right now they are sharing their Chinese spring green teas to all the tea lovers around the world.
These are the teas (all of which are organic) in their Spring Tea assortment:

Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea
Bi Luo Chun Green Tea (Pi Lo Chun)
Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea
Lu Shan Yun Wu Green Tea
Xin Yang Mao Jian Green Tea

Each tea is unique in its own way. Some taste a little more fruity and some more floral. Some of them are more bold than others, but they are all quite refreshing. You can tell these are chosen very carefully by people who love tea!

Another company that makes great energizing drinks is Organo Gold. They also offer green tea, but they are more known for their unique coffee. You have got to check out their Premier Gourmet King of Coffee, an organic coffee with the added bonus of pure organic Ganoderma lucidum spores.

What is Ganoderma? It is a mushroom extract used for thousands of years in traditional Asian medicine for its possible antioxidant, immune support and other beneficial attributes. In fact, it is so full of healthy benefits,  it is Manny Pacquiao’s sports drink of choice!

Paired with the known beneficial effects of coffee itself (improved circulation, memory and muscle preservation), the addition of Ganoderma to Organo Gold gourmet coffee is truly unique! My husband loves this coffee, and he really loves the energy boost it gives him!

What else do you use for a healthy energy boost? I personally cannot go a day without my Vitalizer pack and B complex, which give me the nutrients I need to stay full of energy!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Michael Angelo’s Made with Organic Meals Giveaway

I was provided product to review. No other compensation was given. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

I am so happy to announce that another company is paying attention to the fact that we, as consumers, want healthier, more organic foods!

Michael Angelo’s Gourmet Foods is now offering a new line of Made with Organic meals. This line takes the already high-quality Michael Angelo’s products and offers nine customer favorites made with 70 percent (or more) organic ingredients. Yay!!

I personally had not tried Michael Angelo’s before this, but now I am a big fan! They make absolutely delicious frozen Italian food. Founder and CEO Michael Angelo and his mother and cook, Sara, are extremely proud of their meals, using only real, clean ingredients you can recognize when you read the label. The meals are made in small batches from scratch, free of additives, unlike any other frozen food brand today.

I found several of these delicious, new meals at Whole Foods, including:
·         Lasagna with Meat Sauce
·         Eggplant Parmesan
·         Vegetable Lasagna
·         Chicken Parmesan
·         Baked Ziti with Meatballs
·         Chicken Alfredo
·         Four Cheese Lasagna
·         Manicotti with Sauce
·         Turkey Sausage Lasagna

How do they taste? Oh, sooooo good! They smelled amazing cooking in my oven, and they tasted even better than they smelled! Our family favorites were the Eggplant Parmesan, Vegetable Lasagna and Lasagna with Meat Sauce. I loved how much much protein they all had, and was super impressed they used grass-fed beef! In fact, all of the proteins in this new line are of a higher quality, including grass-fed beef and chicken and turkey raised without antibiotics.


They also use Italian staples such as tomatoes and ancient grain Kamut Pasta, which are certified-organic, along with other key ingredients, including butter, cream, honey and vegetables – eggplant, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale, squash and zucchini.

If you do not have time to make a full delicious Italian meal or just want a night off from cooking, you will love these! Find them at a selection of natural grocery stores nationwide, including Whole Foods. Now, who wants to win some?

We are giving away (5) free meal voucher for these delicious Made with Organic entrees to (1) lucky winner! Enter below!


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Thursday, May 14, 2015

5 Things You Need For a Successful Garden

I received products to review. No other compensation was given. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

It is Spring! That means it is time to get those gardens growing. Here in Minnesota we have to wait a few more weeks to really feel safe about it not frosting overnight, but we have already started our planting indoors. If you are on the fence about whether you want to put the effort in, here are five benefits of gardening you may not know!

This is our 5th year having a home garden, and we have learned a lot along the way. Let me share with you a few tips and a few products that will help you to have your best garden yet!

1. First of all, you need somewhere to plant. Maybe you do not have a big backyard. That is okay. You can still garden. I love using the Big Bag Bed when I run out of room in my garden space or if I just want raised beds. The Big Bag Beds make raised bed gardening so easy! Just unfold the bed, fill it with soil and plant—no construction is necessary. 


They are made of a porous fabric which is great for keeping your plants at the perfect temperature - warming in spring and releasing excess heat in summer. They are durable and weatherproof, lasting for years and providing many seasons of delicious produce, herbs, or beautiful flowers. We are currently using our Big Bag Beds for herbs: cilantro, chives, basil. One more tip: these are also great to put any place where you want to mat down your grass and not have to cut it.

The circular Big Bag Bed is available in three sizes: Original, Junior and Mini. We keep our smallest one right on our deck, so I can go pick fresh herbs anytime of the day to use in my cooking. Everyone can garden with Big Bag Beds. You will love them! Prices for the award-winning Big Bag Beds range from $14.95 to $48.95 depending on size and color. For more information got to www.bigbagbed.com.

2. Next, it is time to start planting your seeds. Like I said before, we have to wait until the end of May to get our outdoor garden all planted, because of the chance of frost. But, you can always start plants growing inside. I love using Botanical Interests’ Recycled Paperboard Pots to plant early inside. They are made from 100% recycled, food‑grade paperboard, using low-water and low‑energy methods. 

Simply “pop” open the small paperboard pot, fill it with soil and plant your favorite seed variety. We planted our tomatoes and squash early in these, since they take a longer time to grow. I love that the pots have a perforated bottom that tears away easily, allowing you to place the entire pot in the ground, minimizing root disturbance when transplanting seedlings. Then, the remaining paperboard breaks down in the garden soil or compost pile. Genius, right? Find these awesome paperboard pots in packs of six for $2.99 at local garden centers and on their website.

3. It is time to fertilize! Most of the time our backyard soil is not the best to grow a successful garden with. We have dealt with really sandy soil, dry, with not enough nutrients. We have used our compost over the years to try to make our soil healthier. It has made a difference, but if you want really healthy plants, sometimes you need more. This year, we are trying Worm Power, a premium-quality organic fertilizer made by millions of earthworms. Worm Power Organic Plant Food increases soil fertility and improves plant vigor, root growth and nutrient availability. We have been having trouble with our tomatoes the last couple of years, and I have high hopes that this is going to help!

You can add Worm Power fertilizer to your outdoor garden, and I think it works especially well added to old potting soils to revitalize the tired, depleted soil. It works naturally and effectively on vegetables, flowers, fruit trees, grape vines and house plants. We are even adding it to our rhubarb, little apple tree, and blackberry bush. It is safe, easy to use, and will make a difference in your soil. In fact, Worm Power delivers a guaranteed NPK analysis of 1.5 - 0.7 - 1.5, plus abundant micronutrients and a robust community of beneficial soil microorganisms. To give you an idea of how much you need - one pound of Worm Power fertilizes up to 16 transplants and can be mixed with potting mix at a 10-15% ratio. Find it in 1-pound, 3-pound and 15-pound packages for $6.95 to $29.95 from Harris Seeds.

4. Garden without all the hassle. I cannot tell you how many times I go out to garden in my sandals, only to find, when I am done, that my feet are now black with dirt. Instead of having to use a hose and clean my feet off outside, it is so much easier to have garden-friendly shoes to wear for gardening or playing outside with my kids. Sloggers are the perfect waterproof shoes and boots, and they are super cute too!
I love how easy these are to slip on, and yet they still keep your whole foot clean. They have deep treads to help you move around without slipping on mud or wet grass. I also love the tall boots, which are perfect for puddle-jumping with the kids, walks in the rain, or slogging around your muddy garden.

They are both very comfortable! The best part is that cleaning them is super easy - just hose them off! I also love that the sole contains up to 50% recycled material. When you’re finished with your shoes or boots you can send them back to Sloggers and the company will recycle them in the making of a new pair. I only wish all shoe companies offered this!
Women’s shoes and boots are available in full sizes 6-10. (Half sizes should round up and order a pair of “Half-Sizer Cut-to-Fit Insoles” to make any Sloggers® boot or shoe ½ size smaller.) You will love all the fun styles and patterns you can choose from. I personally love the polka dots, zebra print, and houndstooth patterns. These awesome Garden Shoes sell for $34.99 and boots sell for $39.99 in garden stores and on their website.  

5. When you have your awesome garden planted and growing, you need to be prepared for pests! Our biggest pests are bunnies and hungry deer. While I love the wildlife coming to visit us, I do not like how they destroy my garden. Last year, they ate my cucumbers, squash, apple tree blossoms, and peas. Not this year!! I am ready. I have Summit Deer Ban repellent capsules to keep those deer, and maybe even the rabbits, away!

No worries! These are very simple to use. Just set out the capsules on the ground every 10 to 20 feet around the plants you want to protect. Then water the capsules to release the active ingredient for up to 90 days of protection. When activated by water, the polymer gel releases the scent of predator urine, which keeps deer away. The scent is odorless to humans, and your hands never touch the active ingredient. There’s no messy spraying, and no mixing or measuring. Since the active ingredient is activated by water, you do not have to worry about it washing away in the water. Find Summit Deer Ban in packages of 20, 50 and 150 capsules at fine garden centers and on their website.

To protect against insects and other pests, I use Shaklee Basic H2. I add equal parts Basic H2 and water to a bottle and spray it wherever I want those pests to stay away. It is completely safe, natural, and nontoxic. In fact, it is so gentle you can use it on your skin, but for some reason, insects do not like it. 

Now that you have some great gardening tips and products that will help your garden succeed, it is time to get outside and grow your own food and flowers. There is nothing like working hard in your garden and then reaping the benefits!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Essential Oil Blends for Headaches and Sinus Pain

I received product to review. No other compensation was given. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Raise your hand if you have had a headache. How about sinus pain?

I am pretty sure we have all suffered with both of these things that can really make you feel unable to complete even everyday tasks. I personally have struggled with horrible migraine headaches and sinus pain many times.

When you are suffering with pain of any time, you want relief. Quick relief. However, many drugs you will find at the drugstore are not safe and probably not all that effective. Not to mention, they do not help your body heal at all. When it comes to pain relief, I have found essential oils to be a very powerful, natural remedy.

The next question is...which essential oils do I use? I have recently been using some terrific blends from ELANVEDA. They offer powerful and natural remedies for headaches, sinus problems, joint pain, cough relief, improving skin health, and their many products offer natural methods for balancing body chemistry.

They have used a blend of historic Ayurvedic remedies and essential oils to create their awesome blend, All Headache. It is created from a specifically designed combination of Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Helichrysum italicum, Spruce, Lavender Spike, Ginger, Birch and Sandalwood in a Jojoba base to help you feel better fast. My husband had a headache a few days ago, and I immediately suggested that he use this blend. He said he felt immediate relief, and that All Headache dramatically reduced the pain he was feeling.

For sinus pain, they offer All Sinus, a combination of Organic Jojoba, Eucalyptus oil, Inula graveolens (a powerful mucolytic oil), Camphor oil, Lemon Grass Oil, and Rosemary Verbenone. From what I know about sinus pain and what I know about essential oils, this is the perfect combination to combat head colds, sinus infections, or clogged sinuses due to pollutants or seasonal allergies. You can put this blend right on your sinus area, or you can use it in boiling water to inhale as steam or add a few drops of this camphor and eucalyptus rich oil to your humidifier to ease minor sinus and bronchial congestion.

Both of the essential oils blends that I mentioned above are non-greasy and will be absorbed into your skin leaving only the headache and congestion relieving aromatherapy that will ease your pain and allow your body to heal naturally.

I love that ELANVEDA really believes in helping balance your body with pure products that work. Their products are all-natural, no animal products, gluten free and no solvent extractions. These blends are a must-have in my all-natural medicine cabinet, because you never know when that headache or sinus pain is going to come on. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Beech-Nut Organics Giveaway

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Beech-Nut. I received a free coupon to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

We moms can get very protective about our children. I know that you do not just feed your child any old thing. If you are like me, you check over those ingredients lists, not once, but twice. :-) You want your children to eat the most healthy, pure and nutritious food you can find. Most of the time, that means you are choosing organic, whole foods that fuel your babies busy day and growing body. Good for you!

I think this is more important these days, with more GMO and crazy Frankenfoods, than ever! Thankfully, we are also seeing more organic foods than ever!

When you are just starting to feed your baby solid foods, there is now another great option for you to use.  Beech-Nut now has an organic line that is just as healthy and delicious as the food you make in your own kitchen for your family. In fact, their organic line uses recipes inspired by real moms, who love to feed their kids healthy and delicious food, just like you!

I just found their new organic line at my local Babies-R-Us, and I was impressed! I picked out the Apple/Kiwi/Spinach variety, and it not only looked like what it actually is, it tasted delicious! (yes, I did try some)
 You can see my daughter was one very happy camper to try it out!
She had that jar gone in probably less than a minute! She absolutely loved it, and I do not think she even had any idea that there was spinach in there. Way to sneak the veggies in, Beech-Nut! In fact, my daughter thought it looked and tasted just like applesauce. I would not hesitate to use this in place of applesauce anytime. It would great in recipes too!

Beech-Nut Organics uses ONLY real, whole fruits and vegetables (and sometimes ancient grains and beans). No extra junk. There are many different varieties, including: organic apple, raspberry & avocado, organic banana, cinnamon & granola and organic butternut squash, black bean & cumin. The way they make their food is by very gently cooking it, not adding any excess water or preservatives, helping to maintain those important nutrients your child needs. Find Beech-Nut organic line at Kroger, Babies “R” Us, Wegmans, Price Chopper, Wakefern, Walmart.com, Winn-Dixie, BI-LO, Stop & Shop, Giant Carlisle, A&P, Pathmark, Albertsons, Hannaford, Raley’s, Meijer, Nugget Market, Diapers.com, Harris Teeter, Shaw's, ACME, Shoppers Food and Cub Foods.

It really does not surprise me that Beech-Nut was awarded Product of the Year in the baby category for its 100% naturals and organic lines. More than 40,000 consumers in a national, representative survey liked it as much as we do! Now, who else wants to give it a try?

We are giving away a free Beech-Nut product coupon to one winner!
Contest entrants are only eligible to win once per sweepstake, per household as part of a campaign sponsored by Influence Central and must reside in the United States.
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Thursday, May 7, 2015

BerryBreeze Review

I received a product to review. No other compensation was given. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.
Do you have any idea how much we Americans waste? According to a report from August 2012 by the National Resources Defense Council, the average American tosses about 25 percent of food and beverages purchased. For a family of four, the money wasted could total from $1,365 to $2,275. Yikes! Can you imagine what people who struggle to put any food on the table think of that?


That is why I got really excited when I heard about the new product, BerryBreeze, an eco-friendly kitchen gadget that works around the clock to defuse all ethylene gasses that speed up the rotting of your foods.

I know that you are trying to eat healthy when you buy tons of fresh fruit and vegetables, but too often those good intentions turn into a moldy, rotting mess. With the BerryBreeze, you can minimize your food waste while keeping your fruits and veggies fresh for up to two to three times longer. With stainless steel vents to time-release activated oxygen, BerryBreeze neutralizes microbes and bacteria to keep foods in a living state, rather than wasting away in your fridge.

My family recently got a membership to Costco, and we have been buying even more fresh produce, because it comes in bulk. The BerryBreeze is so great at helping keep our produce fresher longer, so we are not wasting any of that good nutrition. To give you an example of how well it has worked for us - we have a huge bulk bag of organic carrots that we bought 3 or 4 weeks ago, and they are still crunchy and fresh like we just bought them today.

All you have to do is put the BerryBreeze back in your fridge and check the smell the next day! You will know it is working by the change in smell in your fridge. My husband described it as fresh. I thought it smelled like cold, if cold has a smell. Either way, it does a great job of sanitizing the air in your fridge and eliminating bacterias. I would recommend the BerryBreeze if you find yourself throwing out any produce and wasting your money when things go bad. 
Are you ready to preserve your produce and spend less time spring cleaning the rotten smelly foods out of your fridge? I think we all are! Find BerryBreeze online.