January 2014 Recipe Writers: Healthy Eating!

January 2014 Recipe Writers: Healthy Eating!
It’s time for another round of Recipe Writers, and in celebration of the New Year, this month will focus on healthy eating! We want your favorite healthy recipes, and the easier they are to prepare, the better. This is the time of year when many of us recommit to a healthy lifestyle (especially after the Christmas cookie binges of last month) so now is the perfect time to start swapping healthy recipes for entrees, snacks, smoothies and more. Personally I’m excited to get back on track with healthy smoothies, salads and vegan burgers, so it’s going to be hard picking just one recipe for the link-up!
Here is how Recipe Writers works:
At the beginning of every month we will introduce a new theme and all share our recipes here. The link party will close on the last day of the month. This way you will have time to share a recipe before and after the holiday (if there is one) so others can try it, check out other recipes to try yourself  and impress your family and friends with the delicious flavors of the season. For example, November was Thanksgiving Favorites and December was Christmas Cookies!
Co-hosts:
Amanda Rose from Sew Much 2 Say

Remember, this link up is open until the end of the month and we will have a new one next month starting on the 1st.  Don’t forget to check in next month to see if your recipe was featured. 
So, what are you waiting for? 
Make your favorite healthy recipes, blog about it and share them with us!

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Unboxing/review: Conscious Box November 2013

Unboxing/review: Conscious Box November 2013

Today I’m unboxing the November 2013 Vegan Conscious Box. Conscious Box is a monthly subscription box that costs $19.95 (includes shipping); there are no preview or skip windows in this subscription. Subscribers choose from a classic, gluten-free or vegan subscription and receive a box each month filled with ten to fifteen samples of natural beauty products, food, health items, and lifestyle extras. If you want to learn more about the box you can visit their website. I also recommend checking out the company’s Facebook page, as they often post offers for free or discounted first boxes (which was what prompted me to finally order one for myself!).

When you get your box, you can rate the products and share on social media to earn points; those points are then redeemable on the website toward full-size products, with the points working just like coins. A single review earns you ten points and in turn knocks ten cents off a purchase. Keep building up those points (they tally more quickly than you might think), and you can save on products like food, beauty essentials, household products and more. It’s a nice perk and I think the system of using points to knock down the purchase price is a better way to encourage reviews and feedback than a system where you have to have lots and lots of points to cover the full price of an item, since it will take a long time before you can redeem anything worthwhile.

Okay, on to the contents of the box!

First up we have two food items: a bag of YogaVive Chocolate Apple Chips ($4.49 per bag) and a three-pack sampler of Mighty Leaf teas ($7-$10 for a 15-bag box). The apple chips were just okay–nice and crispy, but it was hard to detect the chocolate flavor. These were a nice snack, but they aren’t something I’d run out to buy, especially for the price. I’m always happy to see tea samples as I do drink a lot of it, and while these are a little pricey for my usual drinking habits I would definitely consider buying them on sale.

The Rebootizer packet ($15 and up for a three-packet box) is supposed to be used as part of an allover week-long detox system, drinking one packet per day, so it’s kind of hard to say how well it works based on one packet/one day of use. I will say that the flavor was strange–like bitter apple cider, but “off” somehow–and while the pouch design is ingenious, it’s not very easy to pop open and shake up per the directions. That said it’s literally a shot glass of a drink so if you needed to detox and wanted to do it in the smallest portion possible, I could see this being a good way to do it.

The MRM Relax-All ($25 for 60 capsules) is a sample of a sleep aid. I’m not big on getting dietary supplements in subscription boxes because I just don’t use that many of them. I’m not big on unnecessary medication and in my long sad pursuit of something to give me a better night’s rest, I’ve found very little that helps. These didn’t necessarily do anything to help me sleep for a longer period of time, but I do feel like these helped me to relax and enjoy a more restful period of sleep, and I didn’t wake up feeling groggy or drugged like I have in the past when taking things like Tylenol PM.

Two travel-size soap samples: one of African Black Soap from Coastal Scents ($12.95 per 15-oz. bar) and one of Lemongrass Summer bar soap from Harmony Acres ($6.95 per 5.5-oz. bar). I could smell the lemongrass, one of my favorite scents, before I opened the box!

The natural perfume sample from Pour Le Monde is intriguing, especially since sales from this perfume benefit the charity Guiding Eyes For The Blind. A full size 1.7 ounce perfume costs $95, so this is a pretty high-end sample to include in the box. The Blood Orange & Juniper lip balm from Ivre de Fleurs is full size (retails for $7.50) and contains ingredients like mango butter to nourish dry chapped lips.

The Sunology Natural Sunscreen sample is a nice idea, but…foil packets! Argh! You just can’t adequately judge a product from a tiny packet, in my not-so-humble opinion. I do like that it has a high SPF (50) and doesn’t contain ingredients that sting my eyes, but it’s just really hard to say how well I like it based on such a tiny application.

The Better Botanicals Apricot Eye Therapy packet ($18.99 for 15 ml) is a lot better, since eye cream goes so far that a 1.5 ml packet will last a good while provided it’s kept in an airtight baggie. I’ve been using this under makeup and before bed all week and it really does help with tired, puffy eyes, making me look much more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed even on my worst days, so I will definitely consider purchasing this in the future.

This box also included a few coupons, but I didn’t count them into the box’s value. Overall, my estimate of the box’s value is as follows:

YogaVive apple chips (full size): $4.49
Mighty Leaf tea (3 bags): $1.50
Rebootizer: $5.00
MRM Rest-All: $0.83
African Black Soap: $0.79
Lemongrass soap: $1.84
Pour le Monde perfume: $6.00
Blood Orange lip balm (full size): $7.50
Sunology sunscreen: N/A
Better Botanicals eye cream: $1.89

Total value: $29.84

Overall, I would say that I was pretty happy with this box. There was a decent mix of items, two full size items and two high-value cosmetics samples (the perfume and the eye cream). I wouldn’t say it was the best value overall but it did exceed the purchase price and I liked enough of the items to give it a thumbs-up.

I’ve seen some really great boxes and some sort of blah boxes come out over the past year, but overall I think I like it enough to stick around and see what the December box will hold. If you’re subscribed to Conscious Box, or to any other vegan-friendly boxes, tell me about it–I’d love to hear your recommendations/rants/general thoughts about these boxes!

Unboxing/review: Graze Box November 2013

Unboxing/review: Graze Box November 2013

Today I’ve got another foodie box to review for you. Graze gives you a sample of natural and tasty snacks for $6 per box; users can choose to receive boxes every two weeks or every four weeks. Shipping is free but currently Graze only ships within the lower 48 U.S. states. Users can rate the items in their boxes as “try”, “like” or “love” to affect future boxes; they can also “trash” a snack to ensure they never receive it again. For those of us who are vegan or following a gluten-free diet, Graze offers the option to “trash” all snack options that don’t fit into our dietary requirements, making this one of the first cheapie food boxes to my knowledge to so sweepingly accommodate these two dietary restrictions! Keep in mind, though, that Graze does not filter for nut allergies.

If you’re interested in signing up for Graze, keep in mind that you’ll need an invite code, so you can sign up for the waiting list or get an invite code from an existing Grazer. You can also try your luck with an internet search for sign-up or free codes, which surface from time to time on sites like RetailMeNot–but they go fast, so pounce while you can! I snagged a sign-up code from Cosmo that hit its limit almost within 24 hours, so when I say fast, I do mean fast.

Each Graze box is a slim, no-frills cardboard package that’s fully recyclable and offers minimal waste, which I love. Inside are four individual snack containers, each with a perfectly portioned snack that’s about the same size as a vending machine delivery, only much tastier and healthier! The snacks include a mix of sweet and savory. I opted for a vegan box and was happy to see that my four snacks covered a good range of snacking “moods”.

Dark Rocky Road: Belgian dark chocolate buttons, cranberries and pecans. This was a very sweet dessert snack. Yay for vegan chocolate!

Tropical Daiquiri: Green mango, lime raisins and pineapple. I like dried fruit and the lime raisins gave this a little twist. This wasn’t as cloyingly sweet as the dried fruit you might find in a typical grocery store, which made me very happy.

The Herb Garden: Oregano rice crackers, crispy peanuts and baked herb bites. This was a very savory snack and I could have done with more! I was glad that it wasn’t too salty. The husband really liked this also.

Seedsational: Roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds with soy sauce. Honestly, I’m not a big “seeds” person, but if you like seeds then this is a good one–the soy sauce flavor is mild enough that you get a little taste without feeling overwhelmed.

Overall I thought this was a pretty good box, especially considering that everything was vegan and yet didn’t taste “healthy” in the least. Have you guys tried Graze, or would you be interested in trying it? What do you think of foodie boxes overall? Obviously with my dietary restrictions foodie boxes are kind of hit and miss for me, so this little gem was a real delight in my mailbox this week. :)

Recipe Writers link up: November 2013

Recipe Writers link up: November 2013

On the first of every month we will introduce a new theme depending on the month and all share our recipes here. The link party will open on the first of every month and close on the last day. This way you will have time to share a recipe before the holiday (if there is one)  so others can try it, check out other recipes to try yourself or even have time to post one after the actual holiday. For example, this month we are having Thanksgiving favorites and next month will be Christmas related.

I’m excited to get started and try out everyone else’s recipes!

Well, first of all let’s introduce the co-hosts!

Amanda Rose from Sew Much 2 Say


Casey from Bookcasey

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Remember, this link up is open until the end of the month and we will have a new one next month (I’ll give you a hint, next month’s theme is cookie-related!) starting on the 1st of the month.

So what are you waiting for? Make your favorite Thanksgiving recipe, blog about it and share your favorite holiday recipes with us!

Review: Love With Food box

Review: Love With Food box

Today I have another subscription box to review: Love With Food, a monthly organic snack subscription box. For $12/month you get a box with eight or more natural, organic snacks; an annual membership ($120/year) knocks that price down to $10/month. The company also donates a meal via food banks such as Feeding America for every box sold. Boxes are billed on the first and ship on the tenth of the month. There are no preview or skip windows for this subscription. If you like your snacks, you can purchase them at a discount through the LWF website; you can also earn points for reviewing the products in your box, which can then be applied to product purchases.

I was lucky enough to snag a Facebook deal (no longer available) to try my first box free and pay only the $2 shipping fee. Here’s everything I got, and some thoughts on the products.

Dang Toasted Coconut Chips: This was my favorite item in the box. I think these would be good straight out of the bag or sprinkled on ice cream or cereal; they’re lightly toasted and not too crispy or sweet.

Happy Squeeze Fruit & Veggie Twist: This was just okay. The blueberry/apple/purple carrot flavor was nice, but I honestly would rather eat a piece of real fruit.

Pizzelle Crisps: These were not a hit; they tasted like chocolate cardboard. They’re low-cal and clearly meant as diet food, but I would rather have a tiny piece of real chocolate than a whole bag of these. My husband also remarked that these had a horrible aftertaste.

Mini KIND Bar: My husband tried this out (in the almond & coconut flavor) and gave it a six out of ten; I think this bar isn’t as popular as some of their other options with fruit or chocolate thrown in.

Pixo Pearls: I haven’t had a chance to use these yet, but as I understand them, they’re apple cider vinegar pearls meant for use in a salad or appetizer. Interesting, at least!

Torie & Howard organic hard candies: These were surprisingly sweet and tasted pretty good. At $6.40 per 2-ounce tin, they’re definitely pricier than traditional hard candy, but they’d make a nice gift item.

Glee Gum: This was probably the worst item in the box; the gum was rock hard and lost it’s flavor within minutes. My husband though the berry flavor tasted like cough syrup. It’s nice to see natural, sustainable snack items, but this just isn’t anything we’d ever repurchase.

Caveman cookies: Paleo and naturally sweetened, these cookies were small but quite tasty. They were really chewy though, with my husband comparing them to taffy.

My box also contained an assortment of coupons for brands or products featured in the box, along with a coupon for a free Lean Cuisine meal, which theoretically raises the value of the box (assuming you use the coupons).

Approximate value of my box:
Dang Toasted Coconut Chips: $2.90
Happy Squeeze Fruit & Veggie Twist: $1.52
Pizzelle Crisps: $1.20
Mini KIND Bar: $1.20
Pixo Pearls:N/A
Torie & Howard hard candies: N/A
Glee Gum:  $1.60
Caveman Cookies: $2.08
Total value (excluding coupons): $10.50
Overall, this was a pretty decent box–it didn’t go through the roof in terms of value, but it’s a nice way to sample organic snacks and find out what you like (or don’t) without paying full retail for a large package. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of vegan items included, but a lot of the items are dairy- or gluten-free, so if those are concerns you’ll probably find plenty of items inside that you can eat. The coupons are a nice bonus touch. I’m undecided if I’ll pay for another month or not just because I’m trimming my budget in advance of Christmas, but if you like monthly subscription boxes this is definitely one to check out, because they don’t skimp on the contents!