Sunday, May 30, 2010

Galaxy Granola's New Flavors!

Galaxy Granola is going to be introducing 2 new granola flavors soon!  I was lucky enough to receive samples of the new flavors: Maple Pecan Quinoa and Hint of Honey.  They aren't in stores yet, but they will be soon!

Hint of Honey:

10 of 10! I could taste the honey in every bite, yet it still wasn't overly sweet.  I loved the walnuts too!  Great granola mix as usual with Galaxy Granola :-).

Maple Pecan Quinoa:

8.5 of 10.  The maple flavor was just okay.  The pecans were a great addition though.  Still a good granola mix with all the different grains, etc.

Galaxy Granola is also planning a Fat Swap event starting on June 19.  You can learn more about it on the Fruit Not Fat blog here!

Here are some pictures from my recent trip to Urbana-Champagne, Illinois:

Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Newman's Own Organics Review

I have been sooo busy!  I just returned home from a trip to Urbana-Champaign, Illinois to find an apartment for August.  I went with my parents, which was very helpful since this will be my first apartment!  I've been living in the dorms previously and am so ready to make the move to apartment living :-).

Right before I left for my trip I received a free box of Newman's Own Organics products to sample and review with my family.  I was soo excited when I found it sitting on our front porch!

Newman's Own Organics "was established as a division of Newman’s Own in 1993, and became a separate company in late 2001. Paul Newman has given over $200 million to thousands of charities worldwide since 1982."  They're sooo generous!

Their website boasts that they provide:

"'Great tasting food that happens to be organic.' (That's what we kept in mind when we created our products.) We focus on the kinds of products we loved as kids, but take them one step further by using the highest quality of available organic ingredients."

The following are the products my parents and I have tried so far:

Champion Chip Cookies: Chocolate Chocolate Chip

Me: 8.5 of 10 - Rich chocolate flavor with nice chocolate chunks.  Smooth and soft, but it does dissolve a bit too fast in the mouth for my liking.

Dad: 8 of 10 - Nice real chocolate flavor.  Cookie melted away from chocolate chips though and was like a dry powder.

Mom: 8.5 of 10 - Good mix of soft and crunchy at first.  Good flavor and chocolate chips.  There was a powdery aftertaste that reminded me of cake batter.

Alphabet Cookies: Chocolate

Me: 9.5 of 10 - Crispy and crunchy with a nice texture that reminds me of chocolate teddy grahams.  I really enjoyed the rich chocolate flavor.

Dad: 7 of 10 - Like an oreo cookie without the filling - boring.  Too crunchy for my liking.

Mom: 10 of 10 - Good serving size.  Loved the crunch, and the chocolate taste was great!

Also, both of these packages had nice sticky seals.  Unfortunately, they only stuck for a few closings and then lost their stickiness.  It's better than nothing though!

Hermits: Cinnamon

Me: 8.5 of 10 - Great huge raisins but a few too many for my liking.  Cute crystalized sugar sprinkled on top, but could have done without since the cookies are very sweet already.  The cookie reminded me of a fig newton with a rich molasses and cinnamon flavor.  Very soft and chewy.


Me: 9 of 10 - Crispy, fairly strong ginger cookie with a smooth and sweet creme center. 

Mom: 10 of 10 - Awesome!  Crunchy, great ginger taste.  Creme is good, but don't need it.

So far, we have mixed feelings on the products.  Some are amazing and others are good, but not spectacular.  Still, overall we've been pleased with this company and their products.  More reviews will be coming too!

Here are some recent meals I've had too:


Salad with cut up pork chop and salsa:

Salad with soy hot dog and salsa:

Now I need to go do my free weight training since I wasn't able to do much exercise during my recent trip to Illinois.

Friday, May 21, 2010

PureVia and Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil reviews

I've been having some great food lately!  I received 2 complimentary single serve packets of PureVia sweetener via mail to review as well as a complimentary jar of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions.  Also, just to be clear: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review in return for the free product.  Same goes with PureVia!
Before I review the recipe I used these two products in, I'd like to share just a bit about both. 

Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil

Tropical Traditions has a great web page with lots of info. about their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, such as how this oil is "certified organic according to strict USDA requirements."  They even have a short video titled: “How We Discovered Virgin Coconut Oil - An Interview with Brian Shilhavy, CEO Tropical Traditions” that you can see here!

There are also lots of coconut oil recipes that you can check out here!

And, if after reading this post, you're interested in some getting some tasty coconut oil for yourself, Tropical Traditions has a great offer for you!  You will get a complimentary copy of their Virgin Coconut Oil book when you take part in their Referral Program.  It's a great program for me and you since you'll get a free book, and I can earn free products!  When you fill in your account information on your FIRST online order, there will be a place to choose "How did you hear of us?" In the drop down menu, choose "Referred by a friend." Underneath this will be a place that says: "Referred by (User ID):" with a place to type in my Tropical Traditions user ID, which is 6128228.  After this the book will be automatically added to your order!


This is an "all natural, zero calorie sweetener derived from stevia, a plant native to South America.  Its main sweetening ingredient is Reb A, a high-purity extract of the sweetest component of the stevia plant. The purity level of Reb A ensures that PureVia™ has a crisp, clean taste, without the bitter taste associated with many stevia products."  You can learn even more about PureVia on their website's FAQ page.

Now for the food!

Berry Green Smoothie

.5c frozen spinach
1c milk
1c frozen mixed berries
1 packet PureVia
1 tsp. Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil

Yum!  But frozen spinach is a lot more concentrated than fresh, so I didn't taste the PureVia very much.  It wasn't bitter though, so that's good.  I could taste the hint of coconut oil.  And when I licked off the teaspoon measurer, the coconut oil was fantastic - rich, creamy, and coconuty!  I'll wait to give these two products numerical values until I've tried them more, but so far I'm pleased :-).

Banana Smoothie with Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Cereal (the crumbs at the bottom of the bag!)

1 frozen banana
.5c milk
1 tsp. Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil
topped with about .5c Kashi crumbs :-)

Yum, yum, yum!  I could really taste the coconut oil in this, and it was great!  I also think this is a wonderful way to use the crumbs at the bottom of a cereal bag... which just aren't that great in your cereal bowl with milk... which can be seen in a my recent breakfasts below:

This is the first time I tried Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Cereal, and I loved it!!  It's a tad pricey for cereal, as most Kashi stuff is, but it's worth it for a nice treat every once in awhile.

This is the Diet Pink Grapefruit flavor from my Soda Stream Penguin Starter Kit!  I thoroughly enjoyed it, which is no surprise since I'm a big fan of grapefruit in general :-).

Okay, that's enough food pics for now, but I do want to leave you with a very important message about the use of plastics in the world today.  This video explains it all.  I strongly encourage you all to watch at least some of it, as it will surely open your eyes.  Yes, it is sad, but it's the truth and the reality of the world we're living in.  We need to share videos like this and raise awareness so that people will change their day-to-day habits. 

Be an example for others by using reusable water bottles, bringing your own bags to the grocery store, and trying to avoid plastic utensils.  I admit that I don't always follow these rules, but I will definitely be making it priority from now on! 

If you watch the video above, as I highly suggest you do, please share your reactions below.  I'd love to hear from you :-).

Have a fabulous weekend... and try not to let the video depress you too much.  Just let it be a call to action!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sweet Potatoes are the Best!

Yes, I love sweet potatoes!  They are so delicious and healthy too.  Personally, I like them peeled, chopped, and zapped in the microwave.  I know you can use them in much more fancy ways, but I truly enjoy plain 'ol sweet potatoes.  Two of my recent meals included sweet potatoes:

Peach Chobani oatgurt with sweet potatoes

Sliced apple and peanut butter on Earth Grains 100% whole wheat thin buns with sweet potatoes and milk

A late night snack of frozen banana, almond milk and crushed walnuts - yum!

Tonight I went on a 3 mile run near my house.  It was overcast, breezy, and in the low 70s - Perfect!  I also had my iPod with me, which always helps. 

I also just finished reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.  It is an amazing story told from the perspective of a minister's wife and his four daughters.  You can read more about the plot on Wikipedia here.  It's another book I highly recommend as it will broaden your perspectives, to say the least.

Well, this was a short post, but I'll have more soon!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Egg drop soup and roasted chickpeas for the first time!

Wow - I've been missing out!  Roasted chickpeas are such a great snack and so versatile too!  I've made two batches already.  Here's the first batch:

I used 1c. dried chickpeas and soaked them overnight.  In the morning I rinsed and dried them and then tossed them with 1/2 tbsp olive oil and about 1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash Original Blend.  I baked them at 400 degrees for about 35 min. and some burnt and a few even popped out of the pan :-(. The next time I turned the oven down to 325 degrees and baked them a bit longer - none burnt this time.  I think it's a bit tricky to cook them the right amount of time so that they're not too soft or overly crispy and burnt. 

Have any of you tried making roasted chickpeas?  How'd they turn out?  Any tips?

I also finally made some homemade eggdrop soup!  It was remarkably simple and fun :-).  I used this recipe more or less, and here is the final product topped with Mrs. Dash (yep, I like this seasoning):

I'm still enjoying my Chobani oatgurt too!  Here are some recent ones:

In the bowl above, I used chia seed gel (I soaked 1 tbsp chia seeds in .5c water overnight), and it was definitely thicker than using chia seeds straight from the bag.

Now for some exercise news!  I am trying to get in tip-top shape by July 25 to bike the first day of RAGBRAI: The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.  The first day is 68.5 miles!  I know it will be a lot of fun though, so I'm really hoping to do it (and maybe convince my dad to join me!).  Right now I can bike about 9 miles in an hour.

That's all for now folks ;-).


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bread and Fizzy Drinks

I've been enjoying my first week of summer so much!  Lots of relaxing and reading :-).  I just finished The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.  It was truly amazing, and I highly recommend it!

Now for the food!

It's English Muffin Bread!  Courtesy of a recipe posted by Ally over at Sweet and Savory.  Thanks Ally!  It's so easy to make and very tasty.  It keeps quite well for a few days too.

Now this was fun!  I won a giveaway for a Sodastream home soda maker hosted by Julia at Easy Eco To Go.  I've had so much fun using it so far, though it would definitely have been too pricey for me to purchase straight up.  Still, it is more ecoconscious than buying cans of soda or flavored water since you reuse the glass bottle with this system :-).  I do wish that some of their syrups didn't have artificial colors though, but I suppose having them every once in a while is okay...

Banana and natural peanut butter - it doesn't get much better than that!  Oh, and grapefruit is amazing too ;-).  I haven't had one in over 4 months or so I believe.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cold Days in Iowa

It has been downright chilly and wet in Iowa lately.  Highs have barely been reaching 50 degrees!  Next week will be sunny and in the 80s again though, and I'm looking forward to it!  Great running and biking weather if I say so myself.  Now for some of the meals I've had over the past couple of days:

Natural peanut butter and sliced banana on whole wheat bread with some unsweetened almond milk on the side (I think I'd like sweetened better if I'm going to drink it plain)

Green smoothie with chia seeds on top, corn, and a peeled carrot :-)

Green smoothie with unsweetened almond milk, frozen banana, thawed frozen spinach, and chia seeds on top.  An egg on the side for some added protein.


Salad greens with crumbled hamburger, salsa, and Mrs. Dash seasoning.

Wow - I have to say that even these simple meals are better than what I usually got at my school's cafeteria.  You definitely can't beat green smoothies and chia seeds, and I'm having fun mixing up the ingredients in them too!  More cooked and prepared meals to come...


Monday, May 10, 2010

Reiman Gardens in Ames, IA

I'm home for the summer before I head off to graduate school at the Universtiy of Illinois.  For breakfast I had the delicious combo of Blueberry Chobani yogurt (that I won from a giveaway hosted by Gina at The Candid RD), oatmeal, chia seeds (that I won from a giveaway hosted by Jocelyn at Peace.Love.Nutrition), and slivered almonds with an unpictured pear on the side:

Lunch included a green smoothie with some frozen spinach, frozen strawberries, applesauce, milk and cinnamon.  I also added some oatmeal after I finished some of the smoothie and made some more room in the bowl that was literally overflowing at the start!

Now that I'm finally making meals at home I need to remember to take pictures of things!  I keep forgetting, but I'm sure I'll get better.  I'm not going to photograph everything, just what I deem "photogenic" and potentially interesting... though we'll see where I decide to go with this all :-).

Also, here are some random photographs from Reiman Gardens in Ames, IA that I took before leaving.  I'm going to miss Ames and ISU so much!

Have a wonderful week everyone!