Monday, September 30, 2013

Is that a Rabbit or Are You Just Glad to See Annie's Homegrown?

We have been long-time likers of Annie's Homegrown products so when they contacted me and asked if I would like to try out some other items, I did not hesitate to say yes. I mean, great products and they get shipped right to my home, what else could I ask for?

The process began as usual- we arrived home one day after school and there was a box at the front door. I brought it inside and I announced that Annie's Homegrown had sent us some samples. This was immediately followed by the rampaging of children, climbing over one another to see who could get what first into their mouths to taste. I abruptly stepped in front of the box, put a hand up and said "You know how this works- I have to taste, take pictures and then you guys can have some too." Oh, the look of dismay (and my secret inner smile that I get to go first).

Lunch the next day was going to be something fast and easy. I saw the perfect opportunity to dive into the samples and because I was in a sharing kind of mood, I chose the Rice Pasta & Cheddar.  Now, we have eaten this before and loved it but it has been awhile since we've had it. Nothing like a good reminder that makes you say "Why haven't we had this in awhile?" I can say that there are two things that I want to share for making this: 1) I have always used rice milk rather than regular milk and there is no taste difference, just add a small amount at a time to avoid having the cheese sauce too watery and 2) a Mom Tip- in order to sufficiently utilize all or most of the cheese packet, you must hold it upright and flick the top of the packet several times to help release the cheese to the bottom of the packet. Thus, less spoilage while opening.  The end result was a fast and easy side dish for my daughter and husband (I did weaken and help myself to a few spoonfuls as well). Creamy and delicious, just as I remembered!

While we were tackling homework, my daughter asked me for a snack. "Something crunchy and a little sweet." So, as per her request, I opened up the package of Ginger Snap Gluten Free Bunny Cookies. Before I could hand them over, she was running upstairs to be a part of the fun. And as we shared some of the cookies, my daughter proudly wore her bunny cap in honor of the product. (Who says you can't be silly?)

The Ginger Snap Cookies were tiny but flavorful and they were crispy but not hard (no soreness on the roof of your mouth from pointy cookies). They have a touch of cinnamon and a slight zing of ginger- a little less mild than your average ginger snap but I prefer not to be overwhelmed by a flavor, just to enjoy it. Another Mom Tip- eat two at a time (no reason, just because you can).

So what was next? Fruit Snacks!!! And the best thing was that I was alone when I opened them. No reason to explain why little fingers could not just hold them until I was done or why they could not have just one from the packages. Just a nice, peaceful tasting. Annie's sent me three flavors to try- Organic Pink Lemonade, Organic Berry Patch and Organic Sunny Citrus.

Each gummy packet flavor had two types of gummy- a lighter and a darker gummy. As I began to taste, I noticed they were flavored differently as well. The Pink Lemonade had one with a stronger lemon flavor paired with a more mild lemon gummy. The two together was a juicy combination. The Berry Patch gummies were juicy but not too sweet (very yummy!). I tried the lighter and I tried the darker but eating one of each gummy together was like a berry burst inside of my mouth. The Sunny Citrus had a light kind of lemony and slightly tart flavor that was pleasant as well without an overload of lemon. Warning- an overload of lemon would have been bad as it would immediately remind me of Lemon Pledge and this is definitely not what you want while eating gummies.

I also decided to try a bite of each and every gummy altogether just to see what the entire combination tasted like. Think about it- a mom alone that can eat all of the gummies that she wants and not share and not have to apologize for not sharing? No whining of "But why can't I have one too? Why do you get them all first?!" It's a silent heaven. I do admit that my eager taste-testing did result in frightening one of the bunnies away.

The final item to try was a microwavable Rice Pasta & Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese. I do admit, I am not a huge fan of microwaving foods that I can make on the stove top but for times when convenience trumps your personal preferences, I do bend the rules. The cooking instructions are simple- add cold water, stir, microwave, add and stir again (no milk needed). Now this was a hard one for me to try. I will say that when you first begin to stir it, it looks very gloppy, runny and, well, not very appetizing at all. The pasta does turn into a better looking macaroni and cheese when all is said and done but I'm just not sure about this one. The taste wasn't bad but I felt it could have had a bit more flavor or salt or something. Would I use it again? If I had to but I think I will personally be sticking with the good old fashioned stove prepared macaroni and cheese option. No hard feelings towards Annie's Homegrown- obviosuly this is only my personal opinion and it won't deter me from using any of your other products at all.

All in all, I would recommend Annie's Homegrown to anyone that is looking for products that are made without artificial colors or preservatives. They also offer many gluten free options and the products that contain cheese is from cows that are not treated with rBST (a growth hormone that we are all trying to avoid). Annie's also has a great reputation of handling families healthier eating with a bunch of great causes such as Annie's Grants for Gardens, Sustainable Agriculture Scholarships  and making sure they say no to GMO's (genetically modified organisms). Our families need to eat healthier and I feel that Annie's Homegrown is doing their best to help us out with that. For more information, please visit their website at

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