Monday, June 26, 2017

SkinnyPop For Foodies

I remember the first moment I saw SkinnyPop in a store- it was their White Cheddar popcorn. I remember because I was in that typical shopping haze when you don't focus on anything else and the kids asked if we could try it. My first tired, didn't-want-to-be-at-the-food store response "It's cheddar so no."Luckily my daughter is a label-reading fiend and she quickly pointed out it was dairy free cheddar. I stopped, read it and reread it.

SkinnyPop, Meet NutriFamily And we have been friends ever since. I'm not sure about other food allergy families but when we find snacks that all of us can eat and are delicious, it's a win-win. They become staples in our pantry and the fact that I have seen them just about everywhere puts the icing on the cake (ooohhh, or the popcorn, imagine!!!). I can often be seen traveling with their bags in tow but they usually do not make it back home with us. SkinnyPop has been to Great Wolf Lodge with us twice, they have been to the beach, they have been to Atlanta, GA and bunches of other places. They are definitely travel-worthy and although I buy the big bags for every day use, I also splurge and buy the individual, smaller bags to avoid anyone fighting over who had more than the other. Heck, I even found a size at Costco recently that can keep up with NutriKids appetite...behold, the toddler-sizes SkinnyPop :) (This is a real photo people, I could use it as a pillow!)

SkinnyPop Gets All Foodie on Us I am all for being an allergy-friendly, family-oriented snack but then I got hold of this cool list that let's the adults still enjoy SkinnyPop in a fun, foodie kind of way. Honestly, sometimes adults need to enjoy snacks too and sometimes, we just want to have them without any sticky little hands or leftover crumbs in the car seats (No offense kiddos,I still love you). Imagine hosting a friendly get together with your favorite SkinnyPop product but then saying "Hey guys, you have to try this flavor with that!" Suddenly, your beverages have become an all out foodie event that is still easy, delicious and fun. Like I always say, food should be fun, even with food allergies. SkinnyPop came up with all of these fabulous food pairings and I cannot wait to try them all out!

(picture is available as an info graph from SkinnyPop but I wanted you to be able to read it)

Do I Have a Pairing of My Own? Unofficially, yes but mine is one that anyone in the family can try out. NutriKids have always had the words "Something sweet, something salty, something crunchy" in their heads since day one of school and snacking. Since it's summer and the warm air tends to melt some of our cold items (and I always say waste nothing!) here is my pairing:

I NEED SKINNYPOP NOW! No worries, you can find them on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest. You can also find a store near you or order online and have it sent right to your door. 

.... and of course, you can always find it in my kitchen but I cannot guarantee that we will be willing to share. 

Which one will you try?!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Starbucks® Sammie- Nosh or Never Mind?

There has been quite a stir lately about the new Starbucks® Gluten-Free Breakfast Sandwich. Just for the record, I am not allergic to gluten nor do I have Celiac Disease. I find keeping to a gluten free diet resolves many of my strange symptoms. I have, in the past, admitted that I do not care for their food items. Not that I expect a five star meal when I go there but honestly, most of their meals are a bit on the rubbery, microwave-blah side and not worth the money. Now, here I am, joining the others and venturing outside of my mindset to try their gluten free sandwich. I went in doubtful but did I come out the same way?

Order Up The first thing I noticed was that it was very well labeled on the outside of the package. The words "gluten free" are plastered all over the paper. Is this necessary? Absolutely! Because people can make mistakes and those mistakes can cause bad things to happen. Especially when it comes to food allergies and ingredients, there is no such thing as overdoing it. In my opinion, I believe this is all about food safety and less about the marketing factor. Looking at the package, it would be pretty darn difficult to mix this up with a different breakfast sandwich. So Starbucks® you get an A from the starting gate.

Easy on the Eyes As I said, I do not care for their other food items and I was not expecting anything wonderful. Growing up in New Jersey, breakfast sandwiches were a way of life. This one consists of a gluten free roll, egg, reduced-fat cheese and Canadian bacon. I was reluctant as many gluten free rolls can be, well, awful. I am picky about my foods but why shouldn't I be? And you should be too. Food is meant to be delicious, even with food allergies and intolerances. And regardless of others who may promote some of those other less than yummy gluten free products, I do not. There is no reason too. Life is too short to eat bad foods. You will note that these sandwiches come to you in a completely sealed package- nobody touches it, nobody arranges it and nobody else can contaminate it. It goes from storage area to microwave to you, period. It literally has to be ripped open. Please see their ingredient and allergen statement here to ensure that your health is not compromised, safety first and label reading always!

Taste? Plain and simple, it is very good. The gluten free roll is very good- it's not dry or crumbly or spongy (as can sometimes happen when you microwave foods). The roll tastes just like any other roll, gluten free or not- I'd LOVE to know which brand it is! I venture to say that if you put this sandwich in front of someone and don't tell them it's gluten free, they would never know it. The Canadian bacon is good- also not chewy or dry. The size of the sandwich is more than adequate. The egg and cheese are also good (I am also picky about microwaved eggs...yup, I am just picky period). Good ratio on bun vs. cheese, egg and breakfast meat as well.

Regrets? None. At. All. I do admit Starbucks®- you have made me eat my words, literally. This is a delicious meal item and I am one happy camper. Some additional thoughts:
- Consider offering a cheese-free option as well (or) dairy-free cheese
- Expand to other breakfast meats (chicken sausage patty, bacon?) Al Fresco is our favorite
- Would love an egg-free option as well

Waste Nothing My teeny, tiny pet peeve, as I mention regularly (since allergy-friendly foods tend to be a bit more pricey) waste nothing! I know this is such a minute thing but do you see the portion of the sandwich that gets left behind here? Now some of us love to scrape it off, lick it off, whatever but that is still food waste. There's like an entire bite stuck in there. I know it happens, I know it's from the heating process and probably can't be helped but (maybe) can you work on it? Yeah, it's probably fun watching people hold the paper up to their face, licking and scraping but if you are in a business not lady-like. 

All in all, what I am trying to say is- thank you Starbucks® for introducing this and for opening up your eyes about your food allergic customers. I look forward to (possible) future additions in the works ~

Who else has tried the Gluten-Free Breakfast Sandwich? 
Tell me your honest thoughts!

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this post, I am just a hungry blogger. I was not asked to write this review, I was not paid for it and I was not compensated for my meal.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

4 Awesome Tips For People With Sensitive Skin

Guest post by Michael Peggs

Having sensitive skin can be quite a challenge to maintain. With the abundance of beauty products on the market, choosing the most natural and organic products is needed to avoid harmful chemicals that might cause you allergic reactions. On top of that, the scorching heat and pollution in the environment makes it more difficult to maintain a beautiful, healthy, and glowing skin these days.

To help you manage your skin regimen, check out these 4 awesome tips for people with sensitive skin:

  1. Always Read the Label Unfortunately, having sensitive skin means your skin does not react well with all types of ingredients present in most skin care products. As such, you should always be watchful with your purchases. Make sure you only use natural beauty products, as these are free of harmful chemical ingredients, such as fragrances and paraben preservatives that cause irritation and flare ups. Keep your guard up for complicated chemicals and formulas that can potentially irritate your skin.
  2. Less is More Make your everyday regimen simpler by limiting the number of products you put on your skin. The 3 basic needs to maintain a healthy skin are your cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. On occasions when you need to put on makeup, go for natural beauty by using the bare minimum- tinted moisturizer, blush, mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick or lip tint. It's always better to go for natural and organic beauty products like the line offered by Well Within Beauty. Their comprehensive skincare line is derived exclusively from natural sources, containing the highest level of organic ingredients, while remaining completely free of chemicals and toxins. 
  3. Always Wash Your Face Whenever you have the chance, wash your face with a cleanser that is formulated for sensitive skin. This will keep your pores clean and free from dirt that may be clogging your pores. Once done washing, don't rub your face with a towel or facial tissue but just dab it dry. Apply moisturizer immediately for maximum absorption. Do this at least twice a day to keep your face fresh and clean throughout the day.
  4. Wear Sunscreen All the Time Wearing your sunscreen is one of the most important tips for maintaining sensitive skin. Having skin that is more irritable and vulnerable to the elements means you need to work extra hard to keep it healthy. Look for sunscreen that is organic and natural, so you can wear it everyday without the risk of skin irritation.

To summarize, stay aware of all the products you put on your skin. You need to take extra care of yourself when incorporating new products into your skincare regimen, especially if you have sensitive skin. While finding good products can be a challenge, more and more organic beauty products are hitting the market.

Remember: knowledge is power. Keep yourself informed on the latest skin care studies. Always be on the lookout for what's new in the market, as products are continuously evolving making it easier to care for your sensitive skin.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Plant-Based Dessert Giveaway

There are some allergy-friendly products that I have been in the loop with since they began. I love that- I love feeling like part of my family still reaches out, wants to say hey and wants to share as well. My first encounter with Wink Frozen Desserts was back in 2012 (read it) - they were my second product review and they were gracious enough to send us bunches of samples for the FARE Walk that I organized in 2013 as a safe, cool treat on a very hot day. I have watched them grow over the years and I am happy to say that this is a product that is run by dedicated, passionate people who aim to make something safe for everyone to eat.

Wink Frozen Desserts recently reformulated their products and asked if I would try them out. Heck yeah! I admit, I am a product review junkie but specifically- never turn down dessert, especially safe dessert. Right? But also, you know I love to share so I thought it would be cool (pun intended) to have a taste-testing party and a giveaway. I can taste the desserts, we can share thoughts and best of all, three people will be chosen to receive a variety pack. School is ending, summer is beginning- there is just no better way to celebrate.

Dessert Rules (and yes, it does)

  • Giveaway will begin Monday June 5th and end Thursday June 8th at midnight 
  • Contest is open to US residents only (sorry Canada, I still love you!)
  • 3 Winners will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter
  • Each winner will receive 1 Wink Frozen Desserts Variety Pack
  • The winners will be announces Friday June 9th
  • If the chosen winners do not respond within 72 hours, alternate winners will be chosen
  • Sharing is always encouraged
  • Be sure to include #WinkDesserts AND tag me & Wink Frozen Desserts
  • As always, none of your entry information shall be shared or sold, it's just between us
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to the winners-

PLUS, isn't the little winky logo guy adorable?! Remember, the MORE you share, the better the giveaway is! Special thanks to Wink Frozen Desserts for both thinking of me to try out the new goods and for offering such bountiful giveaway prizes. Visit them on the web, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube & Pinterest. You can also order directly for pints & packs or check their store locator.