December Degustabox

December Degustabox

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Degustabox. All opinions are my own.

The last Degustabox of 2017 was a fine one:

December Degustabox
December Degustabox

I could pretty much have everything except one item in this batch, so I’d say that is a pro for this month’s box. The majority of the items were also savory, but it was a nice balance between snacks and meal prep items.

The first item I tried was the box of Good Thins, The Beet One.

The Beet One
The Beet One

These chips (more like thin wafers) had a crisp, tangy flavor, which made sense since their flavor was “balsamic vinegar and sea salt” after all. Given their size and small thickness, they packed a flavorful punch! It almost like they had a hint of tomato/ketchup flavor too. 

Another salty and savory snack/condiment item featured in this month’s box were these Suckerpunch Gourmet Pickles. 

Suckerpunch Spicy Garlic Originals
Suckerpunch Spicy Garlic Originals

The pickle slices were cut at a substantial thickness, had a distinct crunch, and were actually sweeter than I thought they’d be, given that they were supposed to be “spicy garlic originals”. Funny thing was, I only noticed one small pepper at the top, and a couple of garlic cloves at the very bottom of the jar.

I actually made it a priority to try this bottle of Brianna’s dressing, since in times past I often didn’t get to review the bottles in time for review. Lately, I’ve been adding to crockpot bowls comprised of cooked cabbage, bell pepper, and potato slices, but there was one occasion where I drizzled it over some firm tofu that I needed to use up. This dressing flavor is an exquisite combination of honey, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and grape juice—uniting savory and sweet in a creamy blend. 

Brianna's ~ New American Creamy Balsamic
Brianna’s ~ New American Creamy Balsamic // Dressed up some tofu with it. 

Ozrey Bakery provided a coupon to redeem a product for free, since their products are bread/bakery items made fresh. I often passed by their brand of items during my trips to Sprouts, eyeing the intriguing morning rounds they are well-known for. I was able to finally figure out how they tasted, and I chose the Apple Cinnamon morning rounds to try first.

Ozrey
Ozery Bakery Morning Rounds ~ Apple Cinnamon

The morning rounds were soft and chewy, and had faint hint of cinnamon spice. I tried them toasted as well as straight out of the fridge, and while it did taste less “doughy” after toasting (actually it may have brought out more of the cinnamon flavor!) I liked how it tasted in either form.

For a quick lunch in lab, Cauli Rice came in extremely handy (starting next year, they’re rebranding as Fullgreen). I was given the Original and Spicy Chicken flavors to try. I gave away the chicken flavor, but the original flavor was easy to cook up. It simply required a microwave, and after a two-minute spin, the cauli rice was hot, fresh, and ready to be flavored before devouring.

Cauli Rice + Pesto
Cauli Rice + Pesto

This month’s box included a small bottle of Barilla Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, which I mixed into the cooked cauli rice. I had a voracious appetite before consuming this plate, given that I had spent the morning doing some low-impact cardio, dropping off my sister at LAX (and getting to the Southwest drop-off zone is a nightmare, believe me), and then fighting traffic to drop-off the car before coming into lab.

Barilla actually made up quite a few of the products in this month’s collection. Along with the pesto, ready-made pasta, breadsticks, and sandwich cookies were featured. Carb heaven.

The Mulino Bianco Sfilati Breadsticks with Green and Black Olives had a crunchy texture much like the previous flavor of breadsticks I reviewed.

Mulino Bianco Sfilati Breadsticks with Green and Black Olives
Mulino Bianco Sfilati Breadsticks with Green and Black Olives

These had less of a tangy flavor however, and I could definitely detect the strong olive notes. I had them plain this time around rather than adding them as a topping or mixing them into a meal. 

I featured the Mulino Bianco Baiocchi Cookies on my instagram, noting the following: “These Baiocchi sandwich cookie rounds from Mulino Bianco, consisting of a smooth hazelnut and cocoa creme sandwiched between two buttery shortbreads, were so flavorful and made for a nice after-dinner dessert. The shortbreads were slightly dry, but it didn’t take away from the overall delicious-ness of these cookies ๐Ÿช ๐Ÿ˜‹”

Mulino Bianco Baiocchi Cookies
Mulino Bianco Baiocchi Cookies

They weren’t exactly Double Stuf Oreo status, but they were satisfying as they were.

Of all the Barilla products in this month’s box, I was astounded by the Ready Pasta Gemelli. Even the name sounds cute, haha!

"A warm pasta salad ๐Ÿฅ— ๐Ÿ for a chilly winter night โ„๏ธ"
A warm pasta salad ๐Ÿฅ— ๐Ÿ for a chilly winter night โ„๏ธ

The pasta is described as “an all-natural, fully cooked pasta that’s ready in the microwave in just 60 seconds. Made with 3 simple ingredients – a dash of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and “al dente” Barilla pasta” Even though I know it’d be better to have more time to cook rather than rely on the convenience of a microwave, I can’t deny that I favor the convenience. And this pack of pasta? When I mixed it with some cooked cabbage and carrots mixed with that Brianna’s dressing I described above, it made for a quick, delicious dinner!

Which of these products would you want to try the most?

Enlightened Pints from Summer

Enlightened Pints from Summer

I admit, this post is extremely overdue, but as you can probably guess from how delayed my posts have been, it’s obviously because I’ve been very busy, haha! But as the year comes to a close, I seem to have a need to catch-up on a lot of things in my life, blog posts included! And writing about ice cream pints that Enlightened graciously sent me over the summer? I’m glad I finally have some time to put together a review post!

The review box I received upon my return from Europe in early June contained the following flavors: 

Butter Pecan
Chocolate Peanut Butter
Chocolate
Snickerdoodle
Toasted Almond
Vanilla 

My sister was visiting me that week, and so I was happy to share some of the flavors with her as well ๐Ÿ™‚

Butter Pecan – This flavor had a nutty flavor, with slight maple undertones. The pecan pieces had a roasted, crunchy texture despite being mixed into soft ice cream. 

Butter Pecan
Butter Pecan

Chocolate – My sis had the privilege of trying this flavor. Of course, she was a fan. I suggested she wait a couple minutes to let the pint soften after taking it out from the freezer. She agreed that it had much creamier texture after doing so!

Chocolate
Chocolate

Toasted Almond – With Toasted Almond, the creamy ice cream with bite-size nut pieces was perfect enough as a simple treat—but then I added a mini Lenny & Larry’s chocolate chip cookie on top. A flavor explosion ensued ๐Ÿ˜›

Toppings make things better.
Toppings make things better.

Chocolate Peanut Butter – I forgot to take an “inside-the-pint” pic, but it was literally a smooth chocolate base with HUGE peanut butter chunks. It reminded me of Halo Top’s Peanut Butter Cup with the hardened peanut butter pieces, so this flavor was a winner in my book. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter
Chocolate Peanut Butter

Snickerdoodle – Ahh, I had high hopes for this one…maybe I should have added a Snickerdoodle cookie as a topping. The ice cream itself was smooth and had a light cinnamon flavor, but maybe the addition of cookie pieces or cinnamon cake pieces would have done the trick to make this flavor a stellar one. 

Snickerdoodle
Snickerdoodle

Vanilla Bean – I absolutely loved the smooth and creamy texture—literally like velvet! I even added one of my favorite bars from the summer, GoMacro’s Protein Replenishment!  I’m still on Team GoMacro, but I was obsessed over the summer, haha!

Vanilla Bean + GoMacro Protein Replenishment
Vanilla + GoMacro Protein Replenishment

I also happened to try two other flavors that I wasn’t sent, but were also new-to-me at the time. Found them at Sprouts, my all-time favorite grocery store (besides Grocery Outlet, haha):

Red Velvet – I found this to be a “dark” flavor, if that makes sense, haha! It looked like a dark chocolate, but it definitely had a lighter, milder flavor than a bitter dark chocolate (so, better than I expected!). I also liked the cream cheese swirl, and it reminded me of  Frozen Hot Cocoa without the chocolate bits. It would have been cool however, if there were cake pieces thrown in!

Red Velvet
Red Velvet

Black Cherry – This was a flavor I definitely did not expect to be a favorite of mine, but it was smooth, had a light and fruity taste, and a fair mix of small chocolate chunks and chewy cherry pieces. It’s soft lavendar color was appealing too! Another cookie topping proved useful here too!

Black Cherry topped with snickerdoodle :)
Black Cherry topped with snickerdoodle ๐Ÿ™‚

It feels good to get caught up on this review, haha! Looking back at all these pics is making me crave some ice cream now, and seeing that it’s going to be in the mid-80’s today by afternoon, it doesn’t seem like too crazy of an idea to have some ๐Ÿ˜›

Which of these flavors would you try?

April Degustabox

April Degustabox

This month’s Degustabox had a mix of familiar favorites and interesting new ones! Laying everything out, I couldn’t decide what to try first!

April's surprises!
April’s surprises!

I decided to try the Lovely Candy Co. Caramels first, since I remembered how much I loved the fruit chews from this brand when I first had them back in October.

caramels
When has a caramel NOT made a day a little bit sweeter? ๐Ÿฌ ๐Ÿญ โ˜บ๏ธ

They were easy to chew, had a gentle sweet flavor, and were so irresistible that it was impossible to refrain from eating the whole bag in one go.

The PR Bar was also a product I was familiar with.

prbaryogurtberry
PR Bar Yogurt Berry

I was a fan of the Chocolate Peanut flavor, and found this Yogurt Berry flavor just as enticing. It had a subtle vanilla coating with a melt-in-your-mouth texture filled with berry pieces, almost like having berry cream-filled cookies!

I’ve also had the Better Oats oatmeal brand in the past, but it was the first time I’ve seen their new packaging. At first I didn’t realize it was the same Better Oats company I was used to seeing being sold in green-and-white colored packaging.

better-oats
How to amplify your oats.

The flavor of the oats was Maple & Brown Sugar, but I added some pumpkin spice-flavored greens protein (which mixed well with the oats, and allowed for a thicker texture which I love!) and some Lingonberry jam for a more hearty, sweeter bowl of warmth.

felix-lingonberries
A Europe trip is in the cards later next month (!!) but I’m wondering if we should stop in Sweden ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช ๐Ÿค”…this Lingonberry jam (a Swedish delicacy) is very convincing #ImaginingBreakfastsInSweden

The Lingonberry jam was definitely a new try for me, but after reading more about it I learned it was a Swedish delicacy. The flavor of the jam itself was not too sweet, and even though it had a fair mix of plump red berries, the consistency was smooth, pourable, and not too thick at all!

These Wilton Candy Salted Caramel Drops were also a new find for me, and certainly a winner.

candy-melts
“Straight up ate these little Wilton Candy Melts, because what PhD student has the time (and the patience) to melt candy ๐Ÿฌ๐Ÿ˜‚??”

One could display patience, melt them to a more liquid consistency and pour it over delicate and already-beautiful looking desserts, but a hungry girl like me prefers to eat them drop by drop. Each drop packs a huge punch—I found them to be REALLY salty, and they even had a slight crunch to them also.

Dinners this month had some flavor help thanks to Nando’s. I loved seeing a bottle of Nando’s in a Degustabox again, and was eager to try this garlic flavor.

peri-peri
“When you mix a baked sweet potato with garlic Nando’s Peri-Peru sauce, your tastebuds are in a treat for something both nourishing and magical ๐Ÿ ๐ŸŒถ๐Ÿ˜‹”

It was labeled as being “medium spicy”, and doused over a hot sweet potato, it definitely had a kick to it. The bowl also featured cooked cabbage, sliced carrots and yellow squash discs. Yum!

Another condiment product featured in this month’s box was a fancy squeezeable tomato paste.

tomato-mutti
Looks like paint—but this is edible!!

I had not heard of the Mutti brand previously, but according to the old school toothpaste/paint packaging, this double concentrated tomato paste was made purely from tomatoes of Italian origin. The tomato paste could have even passed as a dark crimson colored paint!

This month’s box also featured a number of drink items. Depending on what subscribers prefer, this month’s box either included Skinnygirl Peach Bellini Green Tea K-Cups, or instant coffee from Cafe Bustello and a can of Zenify natural energy drink.

peach-bellini
Tea anyone?

I took the K-Cups with me to lab since I could make use of them there with our Keurig. I’m mostly a coffee drinker nowadays, so I didn’t think I’d be in love with a green tea K-Cup, but I have to say this flavor won me over. When prepared hot and with a packet of stevia, it’s certainly a sweet treat! There’s nothing green about it—certainly all peach!

I’ve had Cafe Bustelo coffee before, but it was my first time trying out their instant packs.

cafe_bustelo
Easy as 1-2-3!

It’s almost too simple to prepare, as I literally have been heating up a mug of water for about 2 minutes, then add a packet of the intant coffee with stevia, and voila! A smooth, flavorful cup of coffee that’s easy on the wallet.

tru
How to make coffee, fast.

The Zenify drink I sampled was the “Zero” version, which contains 0g of sugar. The ingredients are basically sparkling water, erythritol, citric/ascorbic acid, and added vitamins. In addition to being sugar-free, it also contains no caffeine (to balance out the instant coffee I suppose!).

zenify
Zenify Zero

I love how it had a refreshing taste to it due to the carbonation, but knowing that it also served to work like green tea due to it containing a similar combination of antioxidants made me appreciative of it a bit more. I also think it’s pretty cool that the company pledges to work against polarization and intolerance by donating 5% of its profits to the Coexist Foundation.

 As for the products I was unable to try, the Chiridos cricket snacks and Wild Planet canned chicken since they obviously contain meat products. My labmates enjoyed them though!

hummus
Garbanzo bean hummus I have yet to make.

I could have made some garbanzo hummus this month to share with my co-workers as well, but didn’t get a chance to in time for this post! Seems easy enough though—the hummus flavor packet simply says to add a can of Bush’s Garbanzos.

Coffee or tea?

Do you prefer jam or nut butter on oats?

Good Things Come in Twos

Good Things Come in Twos

Over the past few weeks, I came across some new-to-me food products, but I was stuck trying to figure out a way to get them featured in a blog post.

Then I realized that all of them came “in twos”, and at least for each product I tried, I was able to compare and contrast two different flavors. I didn’t have a strong dislike for one flavor over another for each of the products, so then it hit me—“good things come in twos”!

A developing veggie chip brand, protein bar company, and well-known greek yogurt company with novel “flip” creations are all featured here for your reading enjoyment!

โ™ฆ

Crunchables are dehydrated veggie snacks that are flavored with an intriguing spice mix, and right now, the company is going through its first steps as a start-up! I was excited when Michelle and Cindy (founders of Crunchables) asked if I could sample two of their products:

The BBQ chips had a mild cheese-like flavor, and the dehydrated veggies used here were broccoli crown pieces. They actually were coated with a dark red powder, and had a sweet taste with a spicy kick of an aftertaste.

BBQ
BBQ

The Nacho cheese chips were thick, flat pieces of dried eggplant. Even though the flavor was titled as “nacho cheese”, these chips actually reminded me of buttered toast!

Nacho Cheese
Nacho Cheese

Beyond the fact that the snacks are just seasoned dehydrated veggies, gluten-free, raw, and vegan, the veggies that are used for the snacks can be traced back to “ugly veggie” origins. The company is focused on a food waste reduction angle, and by working with local farmers to use veggies that would otherwise go to waste, they’re able to lower costs and reduce food waste. I think that’s a pretty cool!

When I heard there was a protein bar that was branded as Too Busy To Eat, and when I confirmed its existence because the name sounded hilarious, I was fascinated and knew that I had to see what these bars were all about.

toobusy
These bars were bigger than I had expected, given their nutrition facts!

I was sent the Double Chocolate Chip and Cookie Dough flavors to review. I immediately fell in love with the DCC flavor, as I found it dense, but very chewy. It had a slight crunch, and if I had to compare it to another common protein bar, I’d say it’s like the Double Chocolate Chunk Quest bar except TBTE’s flavor is much more palatable in my opinion ๐Ÿ˜‰

Even if I wasn't "too busy to eat", I'd eat this Too Busy To Eat Double Chocolate Chip Bar. It has a fudgy texture with chocolate crispies mixed in, and it is outstanding at maintaining a mild chocolate flavor despite it literally being all chocolate! I couldn't detect any of that "protein flavor" that is usually common in these kinds of bars (I often found it an issue with the Chocolate Chunk Quest bars...), and I highly recommend this bar by itself, or cut up and added as a dense topping to yogurt, oatmeal, etc.
Even if I wasn’t “too busy to eat”, I’d eat this Too Busy To Eat Double Chocolate Chip Bar. It has a fudgy texture with chocolate crispies mixed in, and it is outstanding at maintaining a mild chocolate flavor despite it literally being all chocolate! I couldn’t detect any of that “protein flavor” that is usually common in these kinds of bars (I often found it an issue with the Chocolate Chunk Quest bars…), and I highly recommend this bar by itself, or cut up and added as a dense topping to yogurt, oatmeal, etc.

The cookie dough flavor wasn’t too bad, but it didn’t remind me of anything related to cookie dough. It had a milky flavor, light crisp texture, and overall had more of a vanilla flavor rather than cookie dough.

This Cookie Dough flavored Too Busy To Eat Bar did not remind of cookie dough to be honest. It tasted more like a vanilla fudge bar with crispier mixed in. I mean, it tasted alright as a protein bar, but I wouldn't compare it to cookie dough, even in its raw form.
This Cookie Dough flavored Too Busy To Eat Bar did not remind of cookie dough to be honest. It tasted more like a vanilla fudge bar with crispier mixed in. I mean, it tasted alright as a protein bar, but I wouldn’t compare it to cookie dough, even in its raw form.

They also have a Vanilla Coconut “superfood” bar flavor, and the bars have about 20 grams or protein, 20 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of sugar. They are grass-fed whey protein-based (so while not vegan, they are vegetarian), gluten-free, contain organic cashew butter, and do not have any artificial preservatives or colors. Like I said, even if I wasn’t “too busy to eat”, I’d be pretty happy munching on these TBTE bars ๐Ÿ˜›

Kroger had a Friday Freebie deal a few weeks ago for any free Chobani Flip. I had been wanting to try the new Cinnabun Fun flavor ever since I learned about four of the newest flavors being released. Other than the random toss-in of pecans, this flavor met my expectations. I always wish that there is a greater topping-to-yogurt ratio for these yogurts though ๐Ÿ˜

Cinnabun Fun Chobani Flip
Cinnabun Fun Chobani Flip

I’d be the last person to confess my love for carrot cake, but I was flipping over this Carrot Cake Creation Chobani Flip!

carrot
Carrot Cake Creation

The yogurt was actually “sweet carrot”-flavored, and had a good amount of cake pieces glazed with cinnamon, walnuts, and white chocolate. Of course, I wouldn’t argue if Chobani decided to add more toppings to balance out the yogurt ๐Ÿ˜›

Which of these food items would you most like to try?

Buff Bake Protein Cookie Review

Buff Bake Protein Cookie Review

Disclaimer: I was provided samples from Buff Bake and all opinions are my own.

Iโ€™ve had Buff Bake spreads before, but when I tried my first Buff Bake protein cookie, I wasnโ€™t sure what I had put in my mouthโ€ฆ

buffbake_wcpb
I thought a cup of coffee would work well with this Buff Bake WCPB protein cookie, but sadly this cookie was pretty stale ๐Ÿ˜‘… definitely does not have soft status like @lennyandlarrys

I didnโ€™t want to waste it, but as I was eating it I couldnโ€™t help but think I had made a mistake in my choice of a morning snack. I thought I was being adventurous for trying a protein cookie different from the likes of Lenny & Larryโ€™s, but to my disappointment, I regretted not picking up their white chocolate macadamia flavor from the campus bookstoreโ€ฆ

I expressed my dissatisfaction on Instagram, and to my surprise, Buff Bake actually reached out with a response to immediately send over some fresh cookies to try! They commented that the cookie I had purchased had an older packaging, and that I needed a proper introduction to their product (okay, so I added the last part, but Iโ€™m sure they wanted to redo the first impressionโ€ฆ)

They immediately sent over five different cookies in crisp, colorful packaging. I was shocked by how quickly they came tooโ€ฆwithin two days of their commenting on my Instagram! Oh, which flavor to begin with?!

cookies
The colors just popped out at me!!

Because the snickerdoodle Lenny & Larryโ€™s has my heart, I had to try Buff Bakeโ€™s version for comparisonโ€™s sake.

snickerdoodle
This Snickerdoodle one immediately became a favorite of mine. To me, it looks more like a dense, puffy cake than a cookie (like one of those Pfeffernusse cookies), but it’s incredibly chewy and has a nice cinnamon/nutmeg aroma to it. Oh, and then there’s the nice addition of a thin glaze on top! I’m glad I got the opportunity to give these cookies-more-like-cakes another shot ๐Ÿ˜‰

I would say the Lenny & Larry’s version is still my favorite (specifically if it comes out dense and chewy in the middle, because sometimes even they come out with fluke cookies…), but Buff Bake’s version was pretty good too. Definitely could see this paired with a glass of hot chocolate—the perfect sitting-by-the-fireplace holiday snack.

I then moved on to the birthday cake flavor. This one came with frosting on the top as well, but only a little in the middle? I don’t have an explanation…

birthday_Cake
I love it when birthday cake-themed foods are colorful, mixed with sprinkles, and come with a generous amount of frosting on top. The birthday cake @buffcake cookie is another dense, puffy cake-like flavor. It had a slight dry flavor (wasn’t as moist as snickerdoodle), but the frosting on top helped to some extent ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿช

I’d say my second most favorite was Chocolate Donut.

chocolate_donut
I’m a bit surprised as to how this is not the @buffbake Birthday Cake protein cookie flavor. With frosting and sprinkles like this, this is Chocolate Donut?! Well whatever its name is, I’ll take it ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿช #teamfrosting

If I have to pick between team vanilla or team chocolate, I’d go with vanilla only because I can’t handle dark chocolate or chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. That was the case with Chocolate Chocolate Chip. While it had a dense texture and was full-flavored, it was just too much chocolate. There, I said it.

chocolate-chocolate-chip
There is such a thing as too much chocolate, sorry!

And finally, I gave WCPB another shot. I still found it slightly drier and stiffer compared to the other flavors, but compare to the one I originally had, it fared much better.

WCPB
Alien cookie, ๐Ÿ˜›

It had a quirky shape and lotsa chocolate chips, but it added character.

Which of these cookie flavors speaks out to you?

Active But Lazy…

Active But Lazy…

In the days leading up to this weekend, I was making plans and shuffling things around for work, thinking I actually would have the energy to go out and do things on a day I was running 18 miles with my marathon team…

I’ve done it before, so I didn’t think I would be as tired as I was Sunday at 12pm, but I was falling asleep in the car I was getting a ride in…so that must have indicated something!

Speaking of marathon team, things have been going great training-wise. In fact, we ran one of our classic routes yesterday in Palos Verdes, and I even wrote about the experience two years ago, haha. Even with the challenging hills and after-burn in my thighs, I really cut down on my course time—by at least 1.5 minutes/mile! Hopefully this is a sign that I’ll be PRing in my third marathon come March…

This has to be my favorite sweatshirt that I own. My sister got it for me over the holidays, and I just love how soft it is, and of course the title labeled on the front ;)
This has to be my favorite sweatshirt that I own. My sister got it for me over the holidays, and I just love how soft it is, and of course the title labeled on the front ๐Ÿ˜‰

After Sunday’s run, the idea of showering + sleeping sounded more enticing than getting on a bus and checking out a new restaurant. If I plan things better for next weekend, perhaps I can make it happen. I do miss using my weekends to go out exploring!

I did at least try some new food products this week. Devotion Nutrition sent me over some protein powders and “Flex Flavorings” packets to try.

devotion_nutrition
Samples from Devotion Nutrition

I was able to get some samples for the Angel Food Cake and Brownie Batter protein powders and found both flavors to have an appealing scent, no icky after-taste, and a texture that allows for easy mixing in liquids or yogurt.

nutrition and flex flavors
Angel Food Cake & Brownie Batter protein powders // Flex Flavorings

I’ve literally been having these as yogurt-thickeners and just mixed with water for “faux pudding”.

devotion_nutrition_angelfoodcake
A hefty packet of protein that contains a smooth powder for easy mixing!

I prefer them as “yogurt enhancers”, but they really are good on their own too.

brownie batter in yogurt
Extremely thick brownie batter yogurt—yum!
faux_pudding
“Faux pudding” – literally just added enough water to keep a thick consistency. Pulls apart like pudding!

I used some Flex Flavorings to add some flavor to some Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream Greek Whole Milk Yogurt. And then topped it with a full amount of cookie butter ๐Ÿ˜‰

yogurt-cookiebutter-flexpowders
Monkey Bread and Coconut Biscotti flavors!

Keeping up with the theme, I added the flavorings to yogurt and topped some of it on a Lenny & Larry’s birthday cake cookie and a FitJoy birthday cake bar.

The makings of an exciting, birthday-themed dessert bowl...
The makings of an exciting, birthday-themed dessert bowl…
Ended up nuking the birthday cake @lennyandlarrys cookie and the birthday cake @fitjoynutrition bar (probably my only, and number one favorite of this brand!), while flavoring some Trader Joe's whole milk coconut Greek yogurt with @devotionnutrition Flex Flavor powders (Birthday Cake and Italian Cookie). What a way to conclude the end of January 2017 ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿฐ๐ŸŽ‚๐Ÿฐ๐ŸŽ‚!!!
Ended up nuking the birthday cake @lennyandlarrys cookie and the birthday cake @fitjoynutrition bar (probably my only, and number one favorite of this brand!), while flavoring some Trader Joe’s whole milk coconut Greek yogurt with @devotionnutrition Flex Flavor powders (Birthday Cake and Italian Cookie). What a way to conclude the end of January 2017 ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿฐ๐ŸŽ‚๐Ÿฐ๐ŸŽ‚!!!

I also tried two flavors of the new Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites: Chocolate Dipped Cherry and Red Velvet Cake. I bought them at Vitamin Shoppe, and then munched on these while walking to get errands done.

optimumnutritioncakebites_redvelvetcake
These red velvet cake bites weren’t too bad! Honestly I expected the “cake” filling to be more moist and fluffy (as would be expected of a cake), but it was more like a chewy, melt-in-your-mouth texture. In other words, these bites are just circular protein bars: definitely not petit fours status, but good nonetheless.

You know those cherry cordials? These cake bites were reminiscent of that. I particularly wasn’t a fan of this flavor (I think it was the dark chocolate…), but they did have the same soft, chewy texture as the Red Velvet bites.

optimumnutritioncakebites_chocolatedippedcherry
18 miles of running ๐Ÿƒin Palos Verdes and my thighs are fried ๐Ÿ—๐Ÿ”ฅ (thank you, hills! ๐Ÿ˜’), and I kind of wished I saved these chocolate dipped cherry cake bites from yesterday to snack on now, as I lay in bed for the rest of the day…haha, I’m SO not getting any work done today ๐Ÿ˜‚

I am thankful for the fact that I don’t have to worry about midterms or finals or any of that undergrad/early grad school stuff, haha! There were some people on my team who were dreading the fact they had to go home and study despite running 18 miles/it being Superbowl Sunday.

Do you put sleep above everything else?

Matcha Cha Cha

Matcha Cha Cha

Disclaimer: I was not provided compensation except for product samples for review by Tenzo Tea, and all opinions are my own.

There was once a time I used to be OBSESSED with matcha green tea. When I was in undergrad, the only drink I would get at Starbucks would be a matcha green tea latte. There was something about that earthy green color, combined with a milky tea taste and warm froth that was just so comforting. I must add however that this was all before I developed a liking for coffee. I actually had my first cup of black coffee during grad school interviews and (with two packets of sweetener) it didn’t taste as bitter as I’d imagined.

I bring up coffee because it sort of got in the way when it came to my drink choices for some time. There was a whole world of coffee and coffee drinks that I was eager to try, that I left green tea and tea drinks to the side.

tenzo__tea-3

But the reach of green tea has expanded a lot since then. Now there are matcha shops in LA and probably other major cities. Matcha green tea is staking its claim, and companies like Tenzo Tea are aiding the effort.

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I was able to sample and review a variety box last month, featuring a number of flavors. All of the packs have matcha green tea powder, but some are even flavored. In my box, I had Premium, Latte, Raspberry, Blueberry, Blend, and Organic flavor packs.

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On the back, it gives simple instructions on how to use the packs to make a hot cup of tea. I had to go to lab the weekend before leaving to Tulsa. As a pick-me-up of sorts, I mixed a Blueberry pack with some hot water, and put it in a ceramic thermos my friend gave me for my birthday.

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To be honest, I was expecting a blue powder and a blueberry flavor to totally overwhelm any hint of green tea, but the powder was pure green, and one would not suspect any added blueberry. Unfortunately, I didn’t taste any blueberry either.

I brought some packets with me to incorporate in meals when I was on vacation. All of them happened to be breakfast meals too!

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I had some mixed with some waffle mix, and as a result, had waffles with a green hue. I think an extra packet of matcha would have made this waffle as green as grass.

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I already knew protein powder mixes so well with yogurt, but what about matcha? To answer that question, I mixed the blend with key lime Chobani. Topped with some Krave cereal, it made for a delicious morning treat.

cereal_yogurt

Then there was oatmeal. The latte blend (one packet) made this bowl beautifully green. I added it in after cooking the oats in some milk. I also topped it with some craisins.

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I gifted some of the duplicates I got to family friends, and they were definitely intrigued. They are tea drinkers, so I’m sure they’ll enjoy these Tenzo tea packets as much as I did!

Are you a tea or coffee drinker? Or both?

December Degustabox!

December Degustabox!

With all the cooking ingredients in last month’s Degustabox, I was elated that this month’s box featured a lot more snack-ables—including some sweet treats (hellooooo cookies ๐Ÿ˜€ ).

december_box
December’s Degustabox Delectables

The Purely Simple baking mix and frosting pack were an interesting find in this month’s box. I haven’t seen this in stores yet, but I’m glad to see that global brands like Pillsbury are attempting to make products that stray away from using artificial ingredients.

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Pillsbury Purely Simple White Cake & Cupcake Mix and Pillsbury Purely Simple Buttercream Frosting Mix

I didn’t have time to bake with them personally, but I thought it was a good idea to drop it off at a holiday cookie decorating party my running team was having. I did try a bit of the frosting mix though…in some oatmeal.

frosting-oatmeal
Frosting oatmeal…? I try ๐Ÿ˜›

For some reason, I thought that the frosting mix would “magically” turn into frosting…because that’s what it’s supposed to do right? Haha…I honestly did not notice any difference to my oatmeal after adding a tablespoon or so of the mix. So now you know.

It was the first time I tried roasted fava beans, thanks to Kala Beautiful Beans. These were crisp, salted, and peppered, and added SO much texture to my crockpot bowl already full of shredded cabbage, eggplant, and bell pepper. The whole bag didn’t fit the bowl, so I had to add more as I ate through the contents of the bowl ๐Ÿ˜›

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KALA Beautiful Beans – Simply Peppered Beans

I’ve seen the Good Thins brand around lately, the last time being when someone from the next door lab had the sweet potato ones for lunch. This box was “the oat one”, specifically the sweet oat and flax.

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Good Thins – Sweet Oat & Flax

Each crisp was perfectly square, and had bits of flax seeds peeking out. They definitely had a malty, sweet flavor to them, and while they made for the perfect snack on their own, I’m sure they would have tasted spectacular with some dip.

A lot of people have been getting sick in my workplace, but these Ricola lozenges weren’t something I was too keen on sharing.

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Ricola Herbal Immunity – Honey Herb Lozenges

They were Honey Herb flavored, and the packaging went on forever, haha! And while each lozenge has no artificial colors/flavors or GMOs, as well as being packed with Swiss herbs and ginseng, they could be treated and eaten like candy.

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Really, it’s just like candy.

I actually can’t recall the last time I had jam or jelly…it’s been all nut butter for me lately. If you don’t eat PB&J sandwiches regularly, the thought of buying jelly or jam from the grocery store doesn’t seem to stick around (pun intended!).

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Smucker’s Fruit & Honey – Strawberry Jalapeรฑo Fruit Spread

I received a small jar of Smucker’s Fruit and Honey fruit spread in strawberry jalapeno (yes, jalapeno), which has been sweetned naturally with honey. I think that because of the honey, the spread wasn’t as thick as a regular jam. It did taste sweeter though, which for this flavor was off-set by the jalapeno bits. While at first this mix of flavor profiles was fun, it got annoying pretty quickly. After a while it seems like a chore, having to avoid the jalapeno pieces once they start to get tiring.

The Loacker biscuits were insanely delicious!! Overall, I preferred the coconut flavor over Noir Orange, but both flavors rocked.

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Loacker Gran Pasticceria Patisserie – Noir Orange

I love how the coconut flavor had a generous amount of coconut flakes over each biscuit, and that the coating was milk chocolate. The noir orange coating was a dark chocolate, and even though it was a wafer cookie, it had a bumpy puffed rice texture. The nutrition was not as “bad” as one would expect either—120 calories for 3-4 biscuits, but nothing stopped me from eating more than that in one go.

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Loacker Gran Pasticceria Patisserie – Coconut

I’ve always preferred cookies to be chewy, so I never was a huge fan of Chips Ahoy! growing up. When they came out with the chewy version, I was all about those, but it’s been a while since I first had them in elementary school!

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Chips Ahoy! Thins – Cinnamon Sugar

Many years later, the brand is still going strong with a “thins” version of their cookie, which are flatter and crispier, almost like thick, kettle-cooked potato chips. This particular flavor was cinnamon sugar, and it was impossible to complain about there being a LACK of cinnamon sugar! There were even white chocolate chips thrown in. Overall, I liked the flavor, I just wish they were chewier of course.

Another sweet treat was a small bundle of Honey Acres honey straws. There was an assortment of flavors that included clover, lemon, orange, raspberry, and mint chocolate. The mint chocolate was my favorite since it had the thickest consistency of all the flavors.

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Honey Straws, yum!!

I ate them on their own, but they could easily be added to tea or on top of oatmeal for some extra flavor and sweetness.

I first tried Wise popcorn when I received my first ever Degustabox back in June. This month’s box included a giant bag of their white cheddar popcorn, but I couldn’t confirm if the enzymes used to make the cheese they use to flavor the popcorn were microbial or rennet based. So unfortunately, I couldn’t sample the popcorn myself, but at least my lab-mates got some free food out of it.

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Wise Popcorn – White Cheddar

One odd product in this box was a microwaveable 3-minute meal with a mix of flavored grains. The flavor was noted as “beef burgundy”, but I looked at the ingredients list multiple times and did not see the words “beef” or “meat”. I was certainly surprised, but I didn’t want to take a chance on it in case the natural flavors were of animal origin.  Yet another product left for my co-workers…

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A meat-less meat product?

There were honestly many great finds in this month’s box, which made up for the few products I couldn’t fully enjoy. Well, I must say that if there are at least three different dessert items that are equally great-tasting, then my needs are met ๐Ÿ˜‰ !

Are you a cookies or crisps/chips kind of person?

November DegustaBox!

November DegustaBox!

November’s DegustaBox arrived on my doorstep the afternoon I returned from So Cal VegFest, and this month’s goods was a good mix of cooking ingredients, snacks, and drinks. I had to forgo the jerky and Haribo gummies, but everything else I dove right into.

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November’s DegustaBox

There were two flavors of Beanitos white bean chips included in this month’s box.

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Beanitos – Nacho Cheese

Of the two flavors, I liked nacho cheese the best. The chips reminded me of the Doritos of my childhood class parties and picnics, but had a much smoother texture (in other words, no risk of mouth abrasions except for if the corners hit the gums!)

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Beanitos – Hint of Lime

Another fun savory snack a part of this collection was a small packet of oLOVEs

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Oloves ~ Basil & Garlic

I thought the packaging was adorable (the olive in the bottom corner is saying “kids & adults love ’em”), and the olives themselves come without pits and coated with flavor. These were lathered in basil and garlic.

The Honees Drops were one of the first things I tried when I began my DegustaBox partnership.

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Honees – Honey Lemon

I liked them then, and I certainly like this honey flavor now. If you feel a cold-weather induced itch in your throat, pop one of these in your mouth and let the menthol take over!

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Sharwood’s Tikka Masala – Creamy Tomato

I was also excited to incorporate another cooking sauce into my meals. Sharwood’s creamy tomato tikki masala sauce honestly could have been eaten on its own, but it made my vegetable dinner bowl taste that much better. I do recommend that it’s used to flavor drier vegetables, since I had some watery vegetables in this bowl and the sauce became slightly watery as well.

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Nib Mor – Cherry

To compliment the savory, I also received two sweet snacks. Nib Mor’s superfruit chocolates in cherry and blueberry flavors had a good mix of dried fruit on the inside.

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Nib Mor – Blueberry

I noticed this especially with the blueberry flavor. I wasn’t too keen on the dark chocolate, but I can’t argue that this chocolate is highly heart-friendly.

As for drinks, I received two cans of his beverage…

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Bruce Cost GingerBeer

This Bruce Cost Ginger Beer tasted so refreshing after spending a few hours in our lab office refridgerator. It had a spicy ginger kick, and I actually enjoyed it despite not being a fan of ginger ale in the past.

The Ponti Balsamic Vinegar sauce was a pleasantly surprising addition.

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Ponti Balsamic Vinegar Sauce

I knew right away that I would be using it to coat crockpot veggies, but I had no idea how THICK the consistency was! I was practically in awe, and two servings coated my veggies generously. Obviously one of my prettier crockpot bowls to date ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Toriani Salted Caramel Medium Roast Coffee

I was the happiest to find K-Cups for coffee in this month’s box! I’ve been spending more than I’d like from outside coffee shops lately, and seeing that my lab office has a Keurig, I knew that these Toriani Salted Caramel Coffee K-Cups would save my wallet as well as make use of our little coffee machine ๐Ÿ™‚

*As a side note, DegustaBox subscribers will receive either coffee or vinegar in their box, based on their preferences!

They taste a whole lot better with creamer and some stevia, but in it’s black form, it has a strong caramel scent that tends to waft through the entire office and has everyone wondering where the smell is coming from, haha.

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Brianna’s Poppyseed Dressing

I did not get to a chance to try Brianna’s Poppyseed Dressing just yet, but part of me feels like I can only do it justice if I get some peaches to pour this on…apparently it tastes good on peaches? I think I’ll pack it with me to take on my Friendsgiving trip this week!

Would you incorporate any of these products into a Thanksgiving recipe? I’m thinking I’m going to use the poppyseed dressing to top some mashed potatoes or sweet potato rings!

Alwheys Good Protein Cookie Review

Alwheys Good Protein Cookie Review

Disclaimer: I was not provided compensation except for product samples for review by Alwheys Good, and all opinions are my own.

When it comes to cookies, I feel like everyone has their own opinion on what is the best cookie. For me, I prefer soft and chewy cookies, ones with not a lot of nuts (or none at all), and if there is frosting on top I won’t complain!

My favorites growing up used to be those frosted sugar cookies that are in almost every supermarket. I knew to always expect them (with excitement of course!) when someone in my elementary school classes had a birthday. I also remember my Dad baking store-bought chocolate chip cookie dough from time to time, and I preferred eating them right away when they were out of the oven. Warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookies that practically crumbled in my hands were >>> day-old, hard, crisp chocolate chip cookies that I tried to pass on to friends.

Nowadays, I like to keep things simple as sugar (or snickerdoodle) when it comes to cookies. I don’t really care that much for chocolate chips or other chunky additions anymore, but that also depends on how I’m feeling. Obviously I didn’t mind when it came to sampling these Alwheys Good Cookies:

Alwheys Good Protein Cookies
Alwheys Good Protein Cookies

I was sent samples of their three flavor to try out, and couldn’t wait to bite into these soft and dense-looking cookies. The are made for cold-processed whey protein, which are ideal conditions for preserving amino acids. The company also donates part of its profits to spinal cord injury research and related charities. Hmm…reminds me of this race I ran a while back. Maybe both groups should connect and work together? I’m sure anyone running Wings for Life in the future would love to see Alwheys Good cookies in their post-race goodie bag ๐Ÿ˜‰

VANILLA CHOCOLATE CHIP
VANILLA CHOCOLATE CHIP โ™ฅ

Each pack comes with two cookies approximately the size of the palm of your hand. All of my cookies stuck together on their flat sides, so it actually looked like a huge Madeline cookie except larger in size!

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP โ™ฅ
PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP โ™ฅ

All of the cookies were extremely soft, and tasted more like a sponge cake than an actual cookie. I actually liked this chewiness, but the people out their who like crispy cookies or thick shortbread may not favor this texture.

BLACK & WHITE โ™ฅ
CHOCOLATE BLACK & WHITE โ™ฅ

This flavor was surprisingly my favorite seeing that the base was chocolate versus vanilla. I’m guessing because I found it to have the most “character” from all three flavors—white chocolate chips in a chocolate cookie, how’s that for a spin on things? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Which of these three flavors would you like to try?

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