Friday, July 24, 2015

NoGii protein bars - a review

Snacks are a big deal in my house. My kids have a snack mid morning and then one in the evening, when hunger strikes in between lunch and dinner. But finding a healthy, filling and minimally processed snack has always been a challenge. Either the product has too much sugar or is not filling enough or doesn't entice my kids' taste buds. When I got the opportunity to review the NoGii product line, courtesy GreenMomsMeet, I was really curious. I hadn't heard of the products before. The 'G' stands for gluten, so NoGii would mean that the products were gluten free. Although my family does not need to be gluten free, we do relish traditional Indian food that is quite often gluten free.
Back to the product, the shipment from NoGii left me quite speechless. They sent the entire product line, which meant that we got to sample all the different flavors of protein bars that were manufactured under the NoGii line!

nogii-image


Here are a few facts about the protein bars:
* These bars were created by Elisabeth Hasselbeck, gluten free mom, Emmy Award winning talk show host and Best Selling Author of " The G-Free Diet" and "Deliciously G-Free".
* It is a line of certified gluten free protein bars, protein powders and paleo bars.
* NoGii's High protein Peanut Butter and Chocolate bar is a certified gluten free and Non-GMO protein bar with 20g of high quality protein. Its also delicious!
* They are made with sustainably sourced premium ingredients and have an ideal balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates. They do not contain HFCS, hydrogenated oils or transfat.
* They are extremely portable, can be enjoyed by the entire family at any time.
* NoGii's High Protein Peanut Butter and Chocolate bar retails for $2.50 to $2.99 for one 1.93 oz bar

Our Experience:
My family, including my two school aged kids enjoyed these bars, mainly for snacks, to tide them over until the next meal. With high protein content, they provided enough satiety. These bars were also vegan, which made it easier for our vegetarian household to enjoy them. I could easily pop a few in my handbag or in the car for easy on-the-go snacks.
They made excellent school snacks as well.

The only concern I had was the soy protein used in the bars. These bars are predominantly soy based and I am not yet sure about frequent consumption of soy products. But, with some moderation, these are a really nice option, especially for people who have to follow a gluten free diet for health reasons.

Readers, you can have a the chance to win a trip to New York, where you will meet and have lunch with Elisabeth Hasselbeck.To enter, visit www.facebook.com/nogiigluten, look for the link for the contest and the complete the entry form. Hurry, Contest ends on July 31st 2015!

Please visit the following links for more information:
www.nogii.com
www.facebook.com/nogiigluten
www.twitter.com/nogiidiet
www.instagram.com/nogii_nogluten


Disclaimer - I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I have agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily refelct those of May Media Group LLCor the manufacturer of the product.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Xlear Care Kit (Oral Health Products) - A Review

Gone are the days when everything (or even almost everything) used in a family would be home made. In this day and age, anything and everything is available in the supermarkets for a price. That includes food, toiletries, clothes and of course dental hygiene products. There is no question that one is spoilt for choice when it comes to oral hygiene products. There are rows upon rows of toothpastes, tooth gels, even tooth powders and mouth washes available for the health conscious consumer.

But just like we are getting better about reading product labels on food items, we also need to be aware of the ingredients in our toothpastes. Most popular brands today contain harmful ingredients like triclosan, sodium lauryl sulphate, hydrated silica and a plethora of artificial dyes and flavoring agents. Most of these are totally unnecessary and some are extremely harmful for the human body.

 When I got the opportunity to try out the Xlear Care Kit, courtesy Green Moms Meet, I was intrigued. Getting to know about healthier alternatives for everyday products is always exciting! The kit contained the following:
Xlear Nasal Spray - This is a soothing nasal spray that helps with congestion caused by allergies, cold, flu and sinusitis. It incorporates xylitol, a natural product that has been shown to decrease bacterial adherence in the nose. The spray hydrates the nasal passages and the sinuses and also helps to wash away contaminants and pollutants. Daily usage of the spray is non-addictive and will not cause any damage to the tissue.
One 1.5 oz container retails for $14.99 and will last 2 -3 months with daily use.
Spry toothpaste Non fluoride - This toothpaste consists of 1/3 xylitol, which increases mineral absorption into the enamel of the teeth. This results in greater protection. The toothpaste retails for $5.99 each.
Spry Oral Rinse - This oral rinse uses a xylitol rich, low-alcohol and pH neutral formula. It uses a mix of natural flavorings and herbal extracts such as chamomile, aloe vera  and echinacea to help soothe irritated mouth tissues. It retails for $6.99 each.
Spry Gum - This gum also contains xylitol and is available in 4 natural flavors - Cinnamon, Spearmint, Peppermint and Wintergreen. 12 pieces of the gum retail for $2.99.
Spry Gems - Xlear Spry gems are naturally sweetened with 100% xylitol and combine its benefits with calcium to create a pH balanced formula for overall oral health. They are available in a variety of flavors including Berry, Lemon Cream and Cinnamon.  40 count Spry Gems retail for $2.19.

If you notice, each of the products contains xylitol, which is a naturally occurring alcohol, found in plant tissues. It is sweet tasting and is increasingly being used as a sugar alternative.The addition of xylitol to nasal sprays and neti pots has been shown to be more effective in preventing ear infections, sinus infections, asthma, etc. Xylitol helps the body's natural cleansing process to clear away allergens, asthma triggers and other harmful bacteria. research has suggested that xylitol may help reduce dental decay.

All that aside, my family has been using these products for the past few weeks and we find them very easy to use as compared to conventional dental products. The toothpaste and the oral rinse are not harsh because the alcohol content is very low and the gems are naturally refreshing. We have not had a chance to use the nasal spray, but its reassuring to know that should the need arise, I have a product that is not only effective but is also safe to use.
Both my children, who are 9 and 4 years old have been enthusiastic about using these products, because of the refreshing flavors and low alcohol content.

Special Offer - If you would like to try the kit with your family, the Xlear Care kit, valued at $65 is available for only $25 with the code SAVE50. Visit xlear.com/xlear-care-kit-special to order!

If you would like to learn more about the products in order to do your own research, please visit the following sites:
www.xlear.com
www.facebook.com/Xylitol.Experts
www.twitter.com/XlearInc


Disclaimer : I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

Monday, March 30, 2015

SweetLeaf Organic Stevia - A Review and a Recipe!

Its been a few years now that I have been quite consciously monitoring my family's sugar intake and have been trying to avoid added sugar as much as possible. I stay away from sugary cereals and snacks that contain high amounts of sugar. I reduce the quantity of sugar called for in any recipe, without loss of flavor. I have reduced my personal consumption of sugary desserts and instead enjoy more fruits. All these changes have been pretty easy to follow so far and have not affected the way I cook for my family. The only hitch I felt was when I was sweetening my coffee or tea. I do drink up to 2 cups of coffee per day and find it slightly difficult to really enjoy my caffeine unsweetened.

I never really liked any of the artificial sweeteners. They always left a weird aftertaste in my mouth and marred a perfectly good cup of coffee! Also, research began to demonstrate that aspartame and other such sweeteners were not really good for you.  So as a compromise, I drastically reduced the amount of sugar I added to my cup of joe and was pretty satisfied with that. When I got the opportunity to try out SweetLeaf Organic Stevia Sweetener through Green Moms Meet, I was intrigued. A sugar alternative that was better, contained zero calories and zero carbohydrates. I decided to give it a try.

I received two bottles of SweetLeaf Organic Stevia - one was a peppermint mocha flavor and the other one was a pumpkin spice flavor. I also received packets of plain stevia sweetener.
Here are a few facts about Sweetleaf Organic Stevia Sweetener:
  • This sweetener is a Certified Organic, zero-calorie sweetener made from high-quality stevia leaves.
  • It can use used to sweeten hot or cold beverages, cereals, baked goods , yogurt and more.
  • It is gluten free and contains no artificial ingredients, calories, carbohydrates or glycemic response, which makes it ideal for people with diabetes and those managing their calorie intake.
  • One packet of SweetLeaf Organic Stevia sweetener is as sweet as two teaspoons of sugar.
  • SweetLeaf Organic Stevia comes in 35 count ($4.99) or 70 count ($8.99) packets. Prices may vary based on the retailer.

I decided to use the sweetener to whip up a quick dessert for my kids. I had half a  block of silken tofu in the refrigerator. Inspiration struck and I used it up to make a delicious peppermint mocha chocolate pudding using tofu, almond milk, semi sweet chocolate chips, cocoa powder and a teaspoon of peppermint mocha liquid Stevia sweetener.  I did not add any additional sugar. The chocolate chips and the stevia were perfectly sufficient without being overpowering. I couldnt detect any aftertaste either. The kids were thrilled and gobbled up the pudding in a trice!

Recipe: 
Half a block of silken tofu
1/4 C almond milk or milk of choice
1/4 C semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp stevia sweetener of choice



Blend together until tofu is completely blended. You do not want chunks of tofu in your pudding! Refrigerate until firm. Serve chilled!

I plan to experiment more in order to substitute raw sugar with Stevia and try out more recipes which will allow me to literally have my cake and eat it too! 
 
The key to enjoy SweetLeaf Organic Stevia Sweetener for me is to use it in smaller quantities. This is especially helpful if you are like me and can taste the bitter after notes of this sweetener. It is very sweet and a little goes a long way. It is definitely a good choice for those looking to reduce their sugar consumption. Stevia can be successfully substituted in a variety of recipes. Delicious recipes can be found  at www.SweetLeaf.com.

For more information, please visit:
www.SweetLeaf.com
facebook.com/SweetLeafStevia


Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetSM blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions are entirely mine and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wacky Cake!

I am late, sorely late in fact. What for, you ask?  Well..in wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year!! Better late than never, though..that's one of my guiding principles and so here's wishing you and your family a very happy, prosperous and successful New Year. I hope that this new year heralds the beginning of a year where you are swamped with love, friendship, peace, knowledge and contentment and where sickness, unhappiness, loneliness and discontentment stay far away !          

Now that that's out of the way, let me share a recipe for Wacky Chocolate Cake. When I was  (googling all over the internet) researching this recipe, I found that this is also known as the Depression Era cake. The main reason is because this recipe calls for no eggs, no butter, no milk. Absolutely no rich ingredients at all and since people during that time had a scarcity for these items, some intrepid homemaker must have come up with this simple, one-pan recipe to be able to (ahem..) have her cake and eat it too! 
You read that right, you can mix this cake batter up in the same pan that you bake it in. No mess, no fuss and a simple yet satisfying cake in the end. Without further ado, here's the recipe.

                       IMAG0315

The recipe was adapted from sweetlittlebluebird

Ingredients:
1 1/2 C flour (I used a combination of unbleached all purpose and whole wheat pastry)
3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 C sugar 
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp Ener-G egg replacer(optional)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar  (can use white vinegar too)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp instant coffee granules (optional)
5 Tbs oil of choice (I used olive)
1 C water

Method:
1. Grease an 8 X 8 pan. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
2. Mix the flours, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, egg replacer (if using), salt and the coffee granules in the pan. Whisk it thoroughly so that there are no pockets of cocoa left.
3. Make a well in the center, or three different wells and pour in the vinegar, oil and vanilla in the three different holes. Pour the water all over and gently stir the batter until it is well mixed.
4. I found that I had to mix in the corners really diligently to prevent dry flour mix (yuck!) from remaining in said corners.
5. Once the batter is smooth, clean the edges and the sides of the pan, if necessary and then place the pan in the preheated oven in the center of the middle rack.
6. Bake for about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven when a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean(ish).
7. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then gently remove onto a wire rack.
8. If your kids dont come hurtling into the kitchen, clamoring for a piece of the cake, let it cool for some more time, before slicing into it.
9. I served it plain, but you could cover it with chocolate ganache or a simple frosting to make it more decadent. Its best if the cake is consumed within a day, because it wont remain moist that long. 
10. Its definitely not comparable to the rich, decadent, sigh inducing pastries and chocolate cakes, but for the time that it takes and the ingredients that it requires, its definitely a must make recipe. 

Notes:
1. The kids loved it as a snack and as a lunch box item. 
2. The next time I make this, I plan to use whole grain flour to make it healthier. I might even use simple chocolate ganache to top it! 

 




Monday, November 24, 2014

Dave's Killer Bread - a review

It has always been fascinating to me how different cultures view food differently. What is a daily oft eaten food in one country could very possibly be a luxury in others. And so it was with sliced bread when I was growing up in India in the 80s and 90s. It wasn't a luxury, per se, but we definitely didn't eat it everyday. It was available in all the mom and pop grocery stores that are so common in India, but my mother cooked traditional Indian food most of the the times and bread didn't show up regularly on the menu.
It was only after I came to the United States in 2003 that I realized how pervasive the humble bread was in American diets. I was also stunned at the variety of breads available here, such as I had never seen, let alone eaten before. Whole wheat, white, honey, oat, English muffins, rye, boules, sourdough and what have you!

                                                                        Picture - courtesy of Dave's Killer Bread.
Although I have followed in my mother's footsteps and cook traditional Indian food on a regular basis, my family and I also indulge in breads much more frequently than my husband or I ever did when we were children. We generally have a couple of loaves of bread at home and I have even tried my hand at baking bread at home with good results.
As I became more and more aware of the ingredients in bread, I realized that not all loaves were made equal. In an effort to reduce the amount of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives in bread, I try to purchase only whole wheat or whole grain bread, without HFCS and other additives. Reading labels has become a norm and finding a good brand that is healthy, versatile and delicious and also has a short ingredient list has become a challenge.
That's why when I realized that I had been selected by Moms Meet to review Dave's Killer Bread for my blog, I was pleasantly surprised. I had seen the loaves at the stores where I shop, but had never purchased them because they were slightly outside my budget.
I received two loaves to review - Dave's 21 whole grains and seeds and Dave's Thinly sliced Good Seed.
                                                                                               Picture - courtesy of Dave's Killer Bread.
Even before I sampled the bread, the following points stood out for me:
* All the breads were made using organic ingredients.
* Most were vegan with high levels of protein and fiber.
* They are also certified non-GMO
* The breads contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

When I looked at the ingredient list on the breads that I had received, I was able to read, pronounce and recognize all of them! The sheer variety of the grains and seeds used in the bread amazed me.
I used the bread to make sandwiches for myself and my kids. I also used them to make croutons.
Both the varieties were hearty, filling and stayed fresh tasting even without preservatives of any kind.
I like having seeds and grains in my bread, I like the contrast in the textures. The breads made good toast too. Also, the thinly sliced Good Seed bread had only about 70 calories.

I have seen the loaves available at Costco and Sprouts Farmers market. For stores that sell this bread in your area, you can visit the store locator on the website and find out. The breads generally retail at 4 - 6$ per loaf.

On the website, I read about the history of the company and the concept of second chances that were offered to the employees of the company and was even more impressed. A company that makes amazing bread and also offers people with a past
a chance to turn their lives around - I can get behind that!

Read more about Dave's Killer Bread here http://www.daveskillerbread.com.
Visit the following links for more information about Dave's Killer bread.
www.facebook.com/Daveskillerbread
www.twitter.com/KillerBreadMan





If you eat bread regularly and are looking for a good, natural bread without unnecessary ingredients, do give Dave's Killer Bread a try.



Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetsSM blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.