Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Epica Professional Pet Nail Clippers





Epica manufactures a professional set of Pet Nail Clippers that are great for the at-home nail clipping of both cats and dogs. They have, as pictured below, red and black handles and a tough, stainless steel set of shears. The stainless steel is high grade and promises a precise and easy cut. These blades are made to last, and will not rust, bend, or become easily damaged. The Epica Pet Nail Clippers have rubber, ribbed edges, so that your fingers won't slip while you are gripping them. They also have a safety edge to prevent "over-cutting" of your pet's nails, as well as a lock for safe storage. The lock will prevent the nail clippers from opening, and will prevent you from cutting yourself when you take them out of a drawer.

While the nail clippers are not ideal for every type of dog or cat, they are spaced to fit most medium and large breeds. The company states that the nail clippers will work well with the following types of breeds: collies, bulldogs, sheepdogs, spaniels, German shepherds, golden retrievers, rottweilers, dalmatians, great Danes and Irish setters.

One reason that I do not like to bring my dog certain places to get his nails trimmed is because it can be a traumatizing experience. He is very sensitive about who touches his paws, tail, or ears. He is also very smart, which means he catches on quickly when you are about to do anything that he does not approve of (whether it be nail clipping, brushing, bathing, putting ear drops in, etc). Icarus is not generally ill-tempered, but he will start to growl and snap if you try to hold him in place to do any of these things. When I took him to Pet Supplies Plus to get his nails trimmed, he became scared the second we placed him on the metal table. The lady came at him harshly and he started to pull away and growl. Instead of asserting dominance and holding him firmly, she strung him up in some kind of harness contraption, put a muzzle on him, and yanked him up in the air off of the table. He was so scared that he began shaking and even peed and pooped on the table. This happened when he was young, so every time he sees nail clippers, he gets nervous. We have found that it is better to take him to the vet to clip his nails, but even that isn't a guarantee; one time they cut too far into his nail and he started to bleed. Although we still go to the vet for this service, I would much prefer to do it at home myself, where I can comfort him and where it doesn't cost.

Epica Professional Pet Nail Clippers retail for $9.95 on Amazon, plus shipping. The amount of money that I would pay for the Epica Professional Pet Nail Clippers would be the cost of one nail trimming appointment...so after that, the nail clippers would pay for themselves. If you get your pet's nails done professionally, consider how much money you could save in a year by purchasing a quality pair of pet nail clippers, such as the ones that Epica sells.

The Epica Pet Nail Clippers have some useful tips for trimming your pet's nails on the back of the package. They are as follows:
  • Trim your pet's nails every four to six weeks

  • DO NOT trim the nails past the safety edge to prevent injury

  • Use a nail file to smooth out rough edges

  • Allow your pet to get used to the nail clippers prior to using for the first time

  • If nails are too long, trim in stages to avoid over-clipping


The nail clippers also contain the following instructions, so that you can make sure you are trimming your pet's nails in the correct way. If not, you could harm them by creating wounds or even infection!

  •  Allow pet to get used to the nail clippers by setting it next to or by your pet prior to use    
  • If possible, have someone securely hold the pet

  •  Place the nail clipper over the nail up to BUT NOT over the safety edge

  •  Quickly squeeze the handle to make a clean cut of the nail

  •  Promptly move to the next nail

  •  Once complete, use a nail file to smooth out rough edges 
  •  Reward your pet for a job well done with a treat!







 I received the Epica Pet Nail Clippers to review, so that I could share my opinion with you. I was going to use them on my dog, but he wasn't being cooperative and I never would have gotten any pictures to show you. My mom asked my neighbor if she would mind if we tried them on one of her labs. She didn't mind at all, and her dogs are more inclined to sit still for pictures. As you can see from the photos below, my neighbor was able to clip her yellow lab's nails relatively easily with the Epica Professional Pet Nail Clippers. This saved her a trip to one of the local pet stores, and some money! The Nail Clippers worked really well - they were easy to handle and they clipped the dog's nails down nicely. The blades were obviously very sharp and the clippers are made of high quality material. It was easiest to come from behind the dog in a "hugging" position in order to use the clippers. We all recommend the Epica Professional Pet Nail Clippers.










Although Epica does not have a website, they do have an Amazon listing for the Professional Pet Nail Clippers. If you would like to learn more about them, or to purchase them, you can visit that link here.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Healthy Surprise: Review and Giveaway!

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uhkW166CyaE/UWXre9IGFsI/AAAAAAAAAzM/Pvm3wE25PJ8/s400/hs-logo-no-border.png 


Healthy Surprise is a monthly subscription box where you can get tasty, full-sized healthy food options delivered right to your doorstep. There is no commitment to any "plan" with this service, and there is a 100% guarantee of the snacks being healthy and delicious. Healthy Surprise makes it more convenient for you - now you don't have to sift through all the snacks at the grocery store to try and find the healthy ones amongst the fakes. Healthy Surprise believes that there are too many companies with misleading nutritional information and unrecognizable ingredients; they only pair up with and offer brands that they truly believe in. You will find a LARGE variety of snacks, from dried fruit to granola bars to desserts to crackers.


Healthy Surprise boxes have the following attributes:
  • Natural
  • Gluten Free
  • Vegan
  • Soy Free
  • Corn Free
  • Wheat Free
  • Made in America
  • No Artificial Sweeteners
  • No Artificial Flavors
  • No Artificial Colors
  • No Honey
  • No Peanuts
  • No Shellfish
  • No MSG or Yeast Extract
  • No High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • No Partially Hydrogenated Oils
  • Nothing made in China

They have three monthly subscription options to choose from. The first is the Starter Box which is $33 a month. This box is for one to two people and contains 11+ full sized snacks and 16-20 servings. It ships the same day as it is ordered. The second option is the Healthy Box which is $66 a month. This box is for one to four people and contains 16+ full sized snacks and 32-40 servings. It ships the same day as it is ordered and has FREE shipping. The third option you can choose from is the Large Box which is $99 a month. This box is for two to six people and contains 27+ full sized snacks and 48-60 servings. It ships the same day as it is ordered and has FREE shipping. You will receive a confirmation email immediately upon placing your order, and your box will arrive within 1-3 business days. Healthy Surprise really has FAST shipping and wonderful customer service!


If you stay signed up, your credit card will be charged on the seventh of every month. Your box can ship the same day, or you can schedule a specific day for it to ship. This option is great if you are looking to send a Healthy Surprise box as a gift. I think these boxes would make wonderful college gifts, new apartment gifts, get well gifts, or birthday gifts! Who doesn't like a box full of treats, especially when they can indulge in them guilt-free? You can personalize your gift and choose a one month or monthly subscription option. 




 Healthy Surprise was generous enough to send me a complimentary "Starter" sized box to review, so that I could share my opinions with you. Here is what I received in my box, and my general opinion of each item:



The Daily Crave Veggie Chips

These chips came in a 1 oz. bag, and they contain 130 calories, 6g of fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 180mg of sodium, 18g of carbohydrates, and 1g of protein. They have 2% the daily value of iron. They contain the following ingredients: Potato flour, potato starch, expeller pressed safflower oil, salt, sugar, tomato paste, turmeric, spinach powder, beetroot powder.


What's nice about these chips is that they are 100% all natural. That means NO artificial ingredients, NO dairy, NO artificial flavors or coloring, and NO hydrogenated fats. They are also non GMO. I was a big fan of the ingredients and the nutrition content behind these chips. Unlike some bland veggie chips, these had a nice texture and flavor. I really liked the spices! I think that these chips would make a great snack to bring to school or to bring on a picnic. I would recommend these chips to anyone looking for a healthy alternative to potato chips.


Beanitos White Bean with Sea Salt Chips

These chips came in a 1.5 oz. bag, and they contain 210 calories, 10g of fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 82mg of sodium, 210mg of potassium, 24g of carbohydrates, and 6g of protein. They contain 9% the daily value of calcium and 12% the daily value of iron. They contain the following ingredients: Whole Navy Beans, Whole Grain Rice, Pure Sunflower and/or Safflower Oil, Guar Bean Gum, Sea Salt.


These chips have no trans fats, MSG, gluten, corn, cholesterol, or preservatives. They are vegan, all natural, high in fiber, and certified low glycemic, vegan, and kosher. I was excited because I have actually heard good things about Beanitos, and I have never tried a bean based chip (only lentil chips, which are different). These had a really unique flavor that was not strong or unpleasant. The sea salt added to the flavor without overpowering the chips. I probably would not eat these chips on their own, but I would gladly eat them with salsa or a dip. Knowing that they are so healthy would make me happy to use them as an alternative to tortilla chips. 

Lydia's Organics Rawkin' Beet Chips Spicy

These beet chips came in a 3 oz. bag and contain, per serving (3 servings), 140 calories, 9g of fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 380mg of sodium, 11g of carbohydrates, and 5g of protein. They have 60% the daily value of Vitamin A, 15% the daily value of Vitamin C, 6% the daily value of calcium, and 10% the daily value of iron. They contain the following ingredients: beets, carrots, parsley, celery, lemon, green onion, sprouted sunflower seeds, yellow flax, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, Himalayan crystal salt. 

Lydia's Organics Rawkin' Beet Chips are gluten-free, raw, organic, and vegan certified. I have never even had beets before, so I was a little wary to try them in chip form. They weren't my favorite item in the world, but they weren't terrible. They definitely have a kick, for spicy food fans; they are not unbearably spicy. To me, they tasted like a mixture of beef jerky, potato chips, and then some kind of plant. I like the first two flavors, but I wasn't the hugest fan of the earthy aftertaste. I am glad to say that I tried them, though! I think some people (especially those who have tried and like beets) will really like these chips.


Just Tomatoes

 These dried tomatoes came in a 1 oz. bag and contain 80 calories, 1g of fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 35mg of sodium, 19g of carbohydrates, and 4g of protein. They have 50% the daily value of Vitamin A, 60% the daily value of Vitamin C, 4% the daily value of Calcium, and 10% the daily value of Iron. There are no ingredients besides dehydrated tomatoes.


Just Tomatoes are 100% all natural veggies with no additives, preservatives, or sweeteners. They are gluten, dairy, wheat, and nut free. I like tomatoes, whether they are juicy or dry. I wouldn't eat them by themselves in any form, but I love to put tomatoes on my sandwiches and salads. These dried tomatoes were great on a small Italian salad that I made. I like the tomato flavor but with the added crunchy texture. Dried tomatoes have many uses in cooking and innovative recipes. I would definitely recommend Just Tomatoes, as they were tasty and, of course, healthy!


Hail Merry Strawberry Macaroons

These macaroons came in a 3.5 oz. bag and contain, per serving (4 servings), 130 calories, 10g of fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 40mg of sodium, 9g of carbohydrates, and 2g of protein. They have 15% the daily value of Vitamin C, 2% the daily value of Calcium, and 2% the daily value of iron. They contain the following ingredients: organic shredded coconut, organic maple syrup, natural raw almond flour, organic extra virgin coconut oil, natural raw almond butter (almonds, organic palm sugar, sea salt), organic freeze dried strawberries, organic Madagascar bourbon vanilla, sea salt.
Hail Merry Strawberry Macaroons are gluten-free, vegan, and low temperature dehydrated. Dehydrating the macaroons at low temperatures protects the extra virgin coconut oil and raw almond flour. Since the coconut oil melts at 76 degrees, when you eat the macaroons at room temperature, they will melt in your mouth. 


This was, hands down, my FAVORITE product in the box. My boyfriend and I shared them (even though I didn't want to). They were the first item that was completely gone; I couldn't get enough of the moist texture and the rich flavor. I have only had chocolate macaroons before, so it was really interesting to have a strawberry one. My boyfriend doesn't even like coconut, and he was a big fan of these! They are amazing, and we will definitely be looking for them in the stores.


Plum Kids Organic Mashups (Berry)

This squeezable fruit puree came in a 3.17 oz. pouch and contains 70 calories, 0g of fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 5mg of sodium, 250mg of potassium, 13g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. It has 2% the daily value of Vitamin A, 15% the daily value of Vitamin C, 2% the daily value of Calcium, and 2% the daily value of Iron. Berry Organic Mashups contains organic fruit purees (apple, strawberry, blackberry, and blueberry). 
Plum Kids Organic Mashups are certified organic and have no GMO ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, or artificial ingredients. The pouch cannot be microwaved, and should be refrigerated after opening and consumed within 24 hours. Although I do not have any children, I decided to just try the fruit puree myself. It was pretty good -- I would rather drink a smoothie or eat a whole piece of fruit, but the flavor was great. If I had children, this would be a great product for them. There was no artificial or overly sweet taste, which I like a lot.


Just Great Stuff Cacao and Acai

This 1.5 oz. bar has 170 calories, 9g of fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 30mg of sodium, 23g of carbohydrates, and 5g of protein. It has 2% the daily value of Vitamin A, 10% the daily value of Vitamin C, 2% the daily value of Calcium, and 8% the daily value of Iron. It contains: Organic dates, organic raw cashews, organic tapioca syrup, organic raw cacao nibs, organic cocoa powder (Dutch Alkalized), organic rice protein, organic freeze-dried acai (with organic lime juice and/or citric acid), organic goji berries, organic sunflower oil, sea salt.
The Just Great Stuff Cacao and Acai bar has 10 servings of goji and acai berries, as well as dates and cashews. It is gluten free, vegan, and is an organic antioxidant bar. The antioxidant ORAC value is 34,100. This is great defense against free radicals! My boyfriend ate this bar and he said he liked that it was packed full of nuts. He said that it had a great chocolate and fruit flavor, and that it would be a good post-workout snack or something to bring camping or hiking.



Gorge Delights' Just Fruit Bar (Pear and Strawberry)

This 1.4 oz. bar contains 145 calories, 0g of fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 14mg of sodium, 332mg of potassium, 35 of carbohydrates, and 1g of protein. It contains 15% the daily value of Vitamin C, 6% the daily value of Calcium, and 4% the daily value of Iron. It contains the following ingredients: Pear puree, pear concentrate, strawberry concentrate. 
Gorge Delights Just Fruit Bar is fat free and is a good source of fiber. It has low sodium, no cholesterol, and no artificial ingredients. It is all-natural with no added sugars and it is wheat, dairy, nut, and gluten free. I had this bar for breakfast yesterday and it was really good. The combination of pear and strawberry was nice and flavorful. I kind of wish the bar was a little bigger so that I would feel full, but it does make a great snack. 


Nibnaks Crancherry Treats

These crancherry treats came in a 1.4 oz. bag and contain 168 calories, 6g of fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 0mg of sodium, 110mg of potassium, 25g of carbohydrates, and 3g of protein. They have 2% the daily value of Vitamin A, 2% the daily value of Vitamin C, 4% the daily value of Calcium, and 4% the daily value of iron. They contain: almonds, natural pitted cherries, and cranberries (sugar, sunflower oil). 

I am not a big fan of cranberries, but I do like cherries and almonds. My boyfriend and I shared this package (though it's a better size for just one person) and we both thought that NibNaks were a great alternative to some higher calorie and higher fat granola mixes on the market. This is like a basic, wholesome trail mix where you recognize all the ingredients. 


Righteously Raw Divine Mint, Pure Dark, and Synergy Spice Chocolate

These tiny chocolate squares come in a .35 oz. package. The Divine Mint bar contains: organic cacao butter, organic cacao powder, organic coconut palm nectar, organic vanilla powder, and organic peppermint essential oil. It is 82% raw Cacao. The Pure Dark bar contains: organic cacao butter, organic cacao powder, organic coconut palm nectar, and organic vanilla powder. It is 83% raw Cacao. I accidentally ripped the ingredients list on the Synergy Spice, but it contains a variety of spicy powders in addition to the ingredients contained in the other bars. It is 80% raw Cacao. 


These bars are organic, vegan, gluten-free, and have no refined sugar. They have no preservatives, chemicals, dairy, soy, or nuts. The only sweetness comes from sugar from fruits. I have to be honest..I couldn't eat these. I spit out the Synergy Spice Chocolate, because it tasted more like really, really spicy paper. My boyfriend tried the Pure Dark (without me saying a word) and he also spit it out, saying that it did not taste like chocolate at all. I guess this is the TRUE flavor of raw chocolate without sweetening, but it is not to our liking. 


Caveman All Natural Raw Nuts

This 1.3 oz. bag of nuts contains 227 calories, 0mg of cholesterol, 3mg of sodium, 7g of carbohydrates, 7g of protein, 216mg of potassium, and 62mg of magnesium. They have 1% the daily value of Vitamin C, 9% the daily value of Vitamin E, 3% the daily value of Calcium and 10% the daily value of Iron. They have the following ingredients: Sunflower seeds, Almonds, Pistachios, Walnuts, Cashews, Macadamia Nuts.
Caveman All Natural Raw Nuts are high in fiber and have a great source of antioxidants. There is no added salt or preservatives, and as the name states, these nuts are all natural! My boyfriend scooped these up right away. I guess that he liked them a lot, because he finished them in about five minutes! He said they didn't have that overly salty content like most nuts you get at the grocery store, but they were salty enough to still be a great snack.

All-in-all, I really enjoyed my Healthy Surprise Box. I was excited that I liked almost every product, and had an opportunity to try things that I would not have tried otherwise. This is a great way to find new healthy snacks -- Healthy Box does all the work for you! If you love trying new things but don't feel like shopping for them, sign up for this box. I think that Healthy Surprise was definitely true to their commitment; I believe that the content of each of the snacks that I received it nutritious. This is definitely one way to manage your weight, as snacking on these products won't be detracting from your diet. I loved the variety in my Healthy Surprise starter box; it wasn't all sweet or all salty...there was something for everybody! There was even a children's item included. I liked that most of the featured products catered to a variety of lifestyles, whether it be vegan, gluten-free, or dairy-free. You don't just receive samples, you are getting nice sized products in this box that will last you quite awhile. It is a great investment, because many of these items are higher priced due to being healthy or organic. 

Ready to purchase your own Healthy Surprise Box?

Go here; you can get $10 off your first box by putting in the code "HEALTHY10"!

Interested in learning more about Healthy Surprise? Check out the links below:


 One winner will get their own Healthy Subscription Starter Box, courtesy of Healthy Surprise! All you need to do is enter on the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. readers, 18 and over, unless you have permission from your parents. Please be honest when submitting Rafflecopter entries -- remember, I DO check all of your entries for verification, and I will throw them out if they are false. If the form has a spot for you to enter information, please provide me with the appropriate username, link, etc so that it is easier for me to verify your entries! I am not responsible for the shipment of the prize, that is the company's duty. I will contact the winner via email (so make sure to use one that you check) and you will have 48 hours to respond with your shipping information. If you have any questions or if the Rafflecopter is not working properly, you can always contact me via Facebook or email (links on the sidebar). Good luck!! 


Sneaky Pete's All Natural Oat Beverages: Review and Giveaway!

 


Sneaky Pete's got its name from founder Pete Stilianessis; many years ago, Pete "snuck in" and watched his grandfather brew homemade oat beverages in his workroom. His grandfather gave him the pet name "Sneaky Pete", but also went on to teach him the secret recipe behind his flavorful drinks, and methods of brewing. Pete carried down this 100+ year old family recipe and tweaked it to create Sneaky Pete's All Natural Oat Beverages. Sneaky Pete's is making a name for itself by manufacturing and marketing a product which is both healthy and enjoyable for children and adults. No other beverage can claim to have the fiber content of a bowl of oatmeal!

Sneaky Pete's Oat Beverages all have the following GREAT attributes:
  • 3g Oat Fiber
  • All Natural
  • Only 40 Calories
  • Heart Healthy
  • Low Sugar
  • Low Sodium
  • May Help Lower Cholesterol
  • NO Artificial Colors
  • NO Artificial Flavors
  • Shelf Stable - Portable
  • Vegan Certified
  • Kosher Certified
  • Refreshing Taste
The fiber content in Sneaky Pete's All Natural Oat Beverages equals the content found in one serving of Quaker Oatmeal, but has less calories (40 to 200), less fat (0 to 2.5g), less sodium (15mg to 250mg), and less sugar (5 to 17g)! Their beverages also have more fiber than a serving of Honey Nut Cheerios, less calories (40 to 150), less fat (0 to 1.5g), less sodium (15mg to 160mg), and less sugar (5g to 9g)! Fiber has many health benefits which make Sneaky Pete's All Natural Oat Beverages a great choice; it helps to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, which helps reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack. Fiber is also great for weight management (it makes you feel more full) and digestive health (helps move food along).

Sneaky Pete's offers FIVE great oat beverages. Here is a little bit about each of them:



Raspberry - In one 12 fl. oz. bottle you will find just 40 calories, 0g of fat, 15mg of sodium, 22g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. There are 3g of fiber, which is equal to eating a bowl of oatmeal! Sneaky Pete's Raspberry Oat Beverage contains the following ingredients: Filtered Water, Erythritol (Natural Sweetener), Sugar (Evaporated Cane Juice), Oat Bran Concentrate (Avena Sativa), Citric Acid, Natural Raspberry Flavor with other Natural Flavors, Stevia Extract (Natural Sweetener)



Mango - In one 12 fl. oz bottle you will find just 40 calories, 0g of fat, 15mg of sodium, 22g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. There are 3g of fiber, which is equal to eating a bowl of oatmeal. Sneaky Pete's Mango Oat Beverage contains the following ingredients: Filtered Water, Erythritol (Natural Sweetener), Sugar (Evaporated Cane Juice), Oat Bran Concentrate (Avena Sativa), Citric Acid, Natural Mango Flavor with other Natural Flavors, Stevia Extract (Natural Sweetener)



Apple - In one 12 fl. oz. bottle you will find just 40 calories, 0g of fat, 15mg of sodium, 22g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. There are 3g of fiber, which is equal to eating a bowl of oatmeal. Sneaky Pete's Apple Oat Beverage contains the following ingredients: Filtered Water, Erythritol (Natural Sweetener), Sugar (Evaporated Cane Juice), Oat Bran Concentrate (Avena Sativa), Citric Acid, Natural Apple Flavor with other Natural Flavors, Stevia Extract (Natural Sweetener)



Grape -  In one 12 fl. oz. bottle you will find just 40 calories, 0g of fat, 15mg of sodium, 22g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. There are 3g of fiber, which is equal to eating a bowl of oatmeal. Sneaky Pete's Grape Oat Beverage contains the following ingredients: Filtered Water, Erythritol (Natural Sweetener), Sugar (Evaporated Cane Juice), Oat Bran Concentrate (Avena Sativa), Citric Acid, Natural Grape Flavor with other Natural Flavors, Stevia Extract (Natural Sweetener)



Peach - In one 12 fl. oz. bottle you will find just 40 calories, 0g of fat, 15mg of sodium, 22g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. There are 3g of fiber, which is equal to eating a bowl of oatmeal. Sneaky Pete's Peach Oat Beverage contains the following ingredients: Filtered Water, Erythritol (Natural Sweetener), Sugar (Evaporated Cane Juice), Oat Bran Concentrate (Avena Sativa), Citric Acid, Natural Peach Flavor with other Natural Flavors, Stevia Extract (Natural Sweetener)



Sneaky Pete's was nice enough to send me one of each of their flavors to review, so that I could share my opinions with you! I was very excited because I had never heard of an oat-based beverage before. I love trying new types of drinks and foods to expand my diet, and it definitely doesn't hurt that Sneaky Pete's All Natural Oat Beverages are full of such healthy and wholesome ingredients.

The Apple flavor was amazing - I shared it with my boyfriend...well, more like we fought over it. It tasted like apple cinnamon, and not the artificial apple taste that you get in some juice blends. It had the flavor of a real, fresh apple. In a way, it was like drinking a bowl of apple cinnamon oatmeal. That sounds weird, but it was delicious. I recommend shaking the drinks well before you open them so that you mix all of the elements properly. The juice is slightly thicker than you might expect, but the texture is not offensive at all. It has the type of consistency and flavor that actually work well for almost any time of day. I could see myself replacing eggs and bacon with a Sneaky Pete's beverage for breakfast, drinking it on its own during the day to refresh, or having one as a "snack". It's versatile -- I feel as though it's a mixture between food and a beverage. I say this because it is so filling. For only 40 calories and such a great ingredient list, I am surprised that the drink made me feel fuller at all, but it did! The Apple was, hands down, my favorite flavor. I would definitely drink this over standard apple juice.

The Raspberry flavor was also really great. The first thing I thought of when I tasted it was not oatmeal, but Now and Laters! I know this is a bizarre item to compare the drink to, but I swear, it has the exact same flavor. I love how sweet this flavor was, without getting to that sickeningly sweet point. I think the natural sugar extract really helps add to the flavor of these beverages. The Raspberry flavor was more like a dessert or a treat to me, even though it is healthy. I would drink this with dinner or for a snack. I also found that the Sneaky Pete's All Natural Oat Beverages are good whether they are warm or cold. Putting them in the fridge gives them more of a refreshing edge on a hot day, but they are great warm as well.

The Grape flavor was my second favorite of Sneaky Pete's. It doesn't taste like your typical grape juice. It is thicker and has a strong sweet flavor at first that turns into "oat" as an aftertaste. This flavor is really addicting. I would use this in place of a granola bar...I mean, how could you go wrong? Even the fat free granola bars usually have over 100 calories. Here you get a similar taste without having to worry about the calories or added junk. My boyfriend really liked the Peach flavor; he said it was great when he came in from skateboarding and needed something to cool him down. My least favorite flavor was the Mango, but that isn't to say I didn't like it..really, all the flavors were good. That's more than I can say for most companies! I was really pleasantly surprised at how unique these drinks tasted and how much I ended up liking them. Everybody knows I am a soda fiend, so to get me on a juice kick is a compliment.

I am going to be purchasing Sneaky Pete's All Natural Oat Beverages in the future, if I get lucky enough to find a store around my new apartment that sells them. I think that they will help me maintain a healthier lifestyle. They are also the perfect size to fit in my bag to bring to class so that I have something to keep me awake and energized throughout the day.

You can purchase Sneaky Pete's All Natural Oat Beverages at many major retailers, such as: Price Chopper, Shop Rite, Weis, Safeway, Meijer, Reasors, Publix, Giant Eagle, etc. They are also available on Amazon!

Interested in learning more about Sneaky Pete's and their products? Check out the links below:

Facebook 
Twitter

One lucky reader will win a mixed case of Sneaky Pete's All Natural Oat Beverages, courtesy of Sneaky Pete's! All you need to do is enter on the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. readers, 18 and over, unless you have permission from your parents. Please be honest when submitting Rafflecopter entries -- remember, I DO check all of your entries for verification, and I will throw them out if they are false. If the form has a spot for you to enter information, please provide me with the appropriate username, link, etc so that it is easier for me to verify your entries! I am not responsible for the shipment of the prize, that is the company's duty. I will contact the winner via email (so make sure to use one that you check) and you will have 48 hours to respond with your shipping information. If you have any questions or if the Rafflecopter is not working properly, you can always contact me via Facebook or email (links on the sidebar). Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review: Blake's All Natural Meals



 Blake's All Natural Foods is the true embodiment of a family company. It all started in a farmhouse in Concord, New Hampshire, back in 1929. Clara Blake and her son, Roy, sold all-natural, free-range turkeys to New England families (especially around the holiday season). In the 1950's, Roy's son, Charlie, took to farming and later he graduated from the Thompson School of Agriculture at the University of New Hampshire. He was the one to branch out, taking the all-natural turkey and putting it into one of his grandmother's recipes - a turkey pot pie. Just as they do now, Charlie made all of his ingredients from scratch. He became very successful selling the pot pies from the back of his truck. Charlie and his wife built a production facility as the business grew. In 2006, Charlie's daughter Amy and her husband Chris joined the business, and brought in many of Clara's recipes to really expand Blake's product line to what it is today - natural, from-scratch, and healthy.

Chicken Pot Pie

Here is what Blake's has to offer:

 Organic Meals
  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • All Meat Chicken Pie
  • Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie
  • Shepherd's Pie
  • Harvest Vegetable Pie
  • Farmhouse Macaroni and Cheese
  • Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken
  • Macaroni and Cheese with Veggies
  • Macaroni and Beef
  • Upside Down Chicken and Waffle Pie
All Natural Meals
  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie
  • Shepherd's Pie
  • Garden Vegetable Pie
  • Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese
  • Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
  • Veggie Macaroni and Cheese
  • Old-Fashioned Macaroni and Beef
 Family Sized Portions
  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • White Meat Chicken Pie
  • Shepherd's Pie
  • Turkey Pot Pie
  • White Meat Turkey Pie
  • Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
Blake's All Natural meals are healthier alternatives to what we generally see in the frozen food section. What are the differences? Well, first of all, Blake's meals are free of high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oils (commonly known as trans fats). Their meat-containing products are higher quality -- you will find no animal by-products, antibiotics, or hormones in their ground beef and they only use white meat chicken. Their company has been certified organic by the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food. Blake's organic meal selection uses at least 70% organic ingredients, and the Harvest Vegetable Pie and White Meat Chicken Pie are 100% organic. Their meals are great for anyone who focuses on purchasing organic foods, or for anyone who follows a strict diet, such as vegan, lactose-free or vegetarian. They have several vegan, vegetarian, and dairy-free options. Their cheeses are rGBH, and animal enzyme free; they are aged using a microbial/vegetable rennet. Blake's pot pies are significantly more healthy compared to other brands, because they are manufactured in a unique way. They do not have a bottom crust, which cuts back on sodium, carbohydrates, and fat. Instead, they contain more of Blake's yummy fillings!

Taste is one thing that Blake's has mastered; it is clear that they care about the quality and marketing of their products. You can really tell the difference in "authenticity", since Blake's meals are prepared by people and not by machines. This way they do not lack that special homemade taste that we all crave from our parents or from a favorite, local restaurant. Their meals are "made from scratch" -- they mash real potatoes, they cook their own chicken, and they make their own gravy recipe.



Blake's was generous enough to send me two free product coupons so that I could test out their meals and report my opinions to you. I chose the Macaroni and Cheese with Veggies and the Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken. At first, my free product coupons were lost in an envelope under some other mail, so I didn't even know they came! They were unearthed when I moved, so I was nervous that they wouldn't have Blake's meals in Maine, where my new apartment is. Lucky enough, they do, and these meals actually came in handy - we are a little strapped for cash and this helped out with dinner last night!






The Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken comes in an 8 oz. box in the frozen section of some local grocery stores. It contains the following ingredients: Cheddar cheese sauce (water, cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, annatto color), organic whole milk, corn starch/wheat flour, organic butter (pasteurized organic sweet cream, salt), sea salt), organic macaroni (organic durum wheat flour), cooked organic white chicken meat, organic broccoli, breadcrumbs (wheat flour, dextrose, sugar, yeast, salt), soybean flour, non-fat dry milk. Therefore, the Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken contains milk, wheat, and soy - just so you are aware for any food allergies. This product is minimally processed, contains no artificial ingredients, and contains no preservatives. It uses no antibiotics, no animal by-products, and no artificial coloring. There is one serving per box (8 oz) and that contains 360 calories, 17g of fat, 80mg of cholesterol, 320mg of sodium, 34g of carbohydrates, and 18g of protein. It has 10% daily value of Vitamin A, 15% daily value of Vitamin C, 15% daily value of Calcium, and 4% daily value of Iron.

The Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken can be cooked in a conventional oven (best results) at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes. You just need to remove the wrap and place the container on a cookie sheet. You can also put the Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken into the microwave for 3-4 minutes.

My boyfriend got to choose one Blake's All Natural Meal from the grocery store for dinner, and I got to choose one. The Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken was his choice. He loved that the meal was made with organic chicken that was not raised on antibiotics, and that it was made with organic bowtie pasta. The ingredients really can be trusted and have that authentic, homestyle taste. He said that the breadcrumbs added a nice texture, and that the cheese sauce was creamy and delicious. Although the meal was not big enough to fill either of us for dinner, we paired it with mashed potatoes and some extra veggies and made a full course meal. It would be plenty for lunch or if you were really in need of a hearty snack! My boyfriend really enjoyed the Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken and asked if we can get it for dinner again sometime. He wants to try some of the other varieties of Blake's All Natural Meals that we found in Whole Foods.





The Macaroni and Cheese with Veggies comes in an 8 oz. box in the frozen section of some local grocery stores. It contains the following ingredients: Cheddar cheese sauce (water, cheese (pasteurized mil, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, annatto color), organic whole milk, corn starch/wheat flour, organic butter (pasteurized organic sweet cream, salt), sea salt), organic macaroni (organic durum wheat flour), organic peas, organic carrots, organic broccoli, organic red pepper. Therefore, the Macaroni and Cheese with Veggies contains milk and wheat. One box of Macaroni and Cheese with Veggies contains one 8 oz serving and 300 calories per serving, 12g of fat, 35mg of cholesterol, 510mg of sodium, 40g of carbohydrates, and 7g of protein. It contains 60% the daily value of Vitamin A, 25% the daily value of Vitamin C, 10% the daily value of Calcium, and 4% the daily value of Iron.

The Macaroni and Cheese with Veggies can be cooked in a conventional oven (best results) at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes. You just need to remove the wrap and place the container on a cookie sheet. You can also put the Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken into the microwave for 3-4 minutes.

I ate the Macaroni and Cheese with Veggies for dinner last night and I loved it! I love that it tastes like I am eating one of my grandma's special recipes, and not like your standard frozen food. Sometimes I think of frozen food as bland, loaded with chemicals, and just...artificial and preservative tasting. It usually has too much salt, no flavor, and weird textures. I felt like I was simply heating up leftovers when I ate the Macaroni and Cheese with Veggies - NOT like I was eating something frozen. It had all the right flavors; the cheese was creamy and scrumptious and the vegetables were hearty...not tiny little tough things that you find in other frozen foods. You could pass this off as your own cooking if you were desperate! This is definitely a meal I would recommend for all mac and cheese lovers, as macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite foods...definitely my favorite comfort foods. This one is right up at the top, along with my mom's recipe and several other. Check it out, you won't be disappointed!

You can purchase Blake's meals in many major retailers, such as Whole Foods, Shaw's, Market Basket, Top's, Wegman's, P&C Foods, etc. Check here, at Blake's store locator, to see where you can pick up some of their awesome products. If you can't find them in your area, Blake's offers large sampler packages that can be ordered online on their website.


Interested in learning more about Blake's All Natural Foods? Visit the links below:

Cheribundi: Review and Giveaway!


Sometimes it takes regular people to stumble upon a really good thing. That’s how cheribundi™ was created: snacking on tart cherries eased a regular person’s back pain. This anecdotal cure was researched by food scientists at Cornell University who not only uncovered the benefits of tart cherries, but also developed a proprietary juicing process so all the cherry-goodness and nutrients could be delivered in a great tasting juice.

Cherries actually have a number of health benefits that I was unaware of, and happy to learn from Cheribundi's website. Cherries are full of phytonutrients, which are natural components of fruits and vegetables. They help the fruits and vegetables grow and regenerate cells. The phytonutrients in cherries include such things as: anthocyanins, melatonin, phenolic acids, and flavanoids. These phytonutrients are thought to have positive side-effects in humans as well, whether it be for better heart heart, reducing oxidative stress and fighting free radicals, or anti-inflammatory-like properties. Cherries have one of the highest amounts of phytonutrients amongst all their fruit and vegetable relatives. Cheribundi also utilizes TART cherries, which actually have more phytonutrients than a pomegranate, acai berry, grapes or blueberries! All of these ingredients are great for better overall health, as well as a better night's sleep and a more rewarding exercise session.

Cheribundi's regular line of drinks (not the Refresh or Tea varieties) have an average of 40-50 cherries packed into a 8 oz. bottle! All of their cherry juice is fresh; whole cherries are pressed and the cherry juice is generated right away. Some other brands of cherry juice are made from concentrate once a year and are stored for months before they are turned back into juice...ick! In the various flavors of Cheribundi, you'll find all sorts of nutritious Vitamins and minerals, such as: Vitamin A, Potassium, Iron, Calcium, and Vitamin B. These vitamins are important for building up your immune system and your health as a whole. Cheribundi has one of the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) ratings amongst different juice brands, which means that their juices are better at absorbing and neutralizing free radicals.

Cheribundi has such great products, that even the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, and NCAA are using them!

--Cheribundi Cherry Juices
Cherry JuiceCherry JuiceCherry Juice
Cheribundi offers the following selection of products that were not featured in this review:
  • Tart Cherry Juice - Our original juice in a bold new package! Packed with 50 cherries and lightly sweetened with apple juice for a blast of healthy cherry goodness.

  •  Tart Cherry Juice Light - Our skinny, calorie reduced tart cherry juice in a bold new package!  Gently sweetened with natural extracts of the Stevia plant for a blast of healthy cherry goodness with 1/3 less calories.

  •  Tart Cherry RebuildLoaded with tart cherry benefits and topped off with added whey protein providing natural rebuilding power for active bodies

  •   Tart Cherry Restore - All the tart cherry benefits for your body plus electrolytes and B-vitamin complex to put back what your work-out used up.

  •  Tart Cherry Relax - The naturally occurring Melatonin in tart cherries plus L-theanine, extracted from tea leaves, combine to promote peaceful recuperative sleep and sharpen you for your next day's challenges.
 


You can buy Cheribundi products online at the Cheribundi website, on Amazon, or in some major retailers such as Hannaford or Whole Foods.

Cheribundi was generous enough to send me a whole case of their products, containing the following types of drinks:

 

Tart Cherry Raspberry Refresh – This 16.9 fl. oz. Drink has 90 calories per 8 fl. oz. Serving, 0g of fat, 0mg of sodium, 35mg of potassium, 22g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. It has 2% daily value of Vitamin A, and 2% daily value of Iron. Tart Cherry Raspberry Cheribundi contains the following ingredients: Water, Tart Cherry Juice, Raspberry Juice, Sugar, Apple Juice from Concentrate (Water, Apple Juice Concentrate), Citric Acid.




Tart Cherry Cranberry Refresh – This 16.9 fl. oz. Drink has 90 calories per 8 fl. oz. Serving, 9g of fat, 5mg of sodium, 35mg of potassium, 22g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. It has 6% daily value of Vitamin A and 2% daily value of Iron. Tart Cherry Cranberry Cheribundi contains the following ingredients: Water, Tart Cherry Juice, Cranberry Juie from Concentrate (Water, Cranberry Juice Concentrate), Sugar, Orange Juice from Concentrate (Water, Orange Juice Concentrate), Citric Acid, Natural Flavor.



Tart Cherry Lemonade Refresh - This 16.9 fl. oz. drink has 80 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving, 0g of fat, 0mg of sodium, 45mg of potassium, 19g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. It has 2% daily value of Vitamin A and 2% daily value of Iron. Tart Cherry Lemonade Cheribundi contains the following ingredients: Water, Tart Cherry Juice, Sugar, Apple Juice from Concentrate (Water, Apple Juice Concentrate), Lemon Juice Concentrate, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor.


Tart Cherry Pomegranate Refresh - This 16.9 fl. oz. drink has 100 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving, 0g of fat, 5mg of sodium, 85mg of potassium, 24g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. It has 2% daily value of Vitamin A and 2% daily value of Iron. Tart Cherry Pomegranate Cheribundi contains the following ingredients: Water, Tart Cherry Juice, Pomegranate Juice from Concentrate (Water, Pomegranate Juice Concentrate), Sugar, Apple Juice from Concentrate (Water, Apple Juice Concentrate), Citric Acid. 



Tart Cherry Blueberry Refresh - This 16.9 fl. oz drink has 100 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving, 0g of fat, 0mg of sodium, 35mg of potassium, 24g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. It has 2% daily value of Vitamin A and 2% daily value of Iron. Tart Cherry Blueberry Refresh contains the following ingredients: Water, Tart Cherry Juice, Blueberry Juice from Concentrate (Water, Blueberry Juice Concentrate), Sugar, Citric Acid.



Tart Cherry Rooibos Tea - This 16.9 fl. oz drink has 80 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving, 0g of fat, 10mg of sodium, 15mg of potassium, 15g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. Tart Cherry Rooibos Tea contains the following ingredients: Water, Sugar, Tart Cherry Juice, Rooibos Tea, Citric Acid.


Tart Cherry Black Tea - This 16.9 fl. oz. drink has 80 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving, 0g of fat, 10mg of sodium, 15mg of potassium, 19g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. Tart Cherry Black Tea contains the following ingredients: Water, Sugar, Tart Cherry Juice, Tea, Citric Acid


Tart Cherry Green Tea - This 16.9 fl. oz. drink has 80 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving, 0g of fat, 10mg of sodium, 15mg of potassium, 19g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. Tart Cherry Green Tea contains the following ingredients: Water, Sugar, Tart Cherry Juice, Green Tea, Citric Acid.


Tart Cherry Jasmine Tea - This 16.9 fl. oz. drink has 80 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving, 0g of fat, 10mg of sodium, 15mg of potassium, 19g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein. Tart Cherry Jasmine Tea contains the following ingredients: Water, Sugar, Tart Cherry Juice, Jasmine Tea (Green Tea, Jasmine Flowers), Citric Acid.



I was really curious to see if I would like the tart taste of Cheribundi, because I am always actively looking for alternatives to my Diet Pepsi addiction. I want to experience new types of juices and unique flavors that will satisfy me on a day-to-day basis. It is also important to me to try and get off of the Diet Pepsi because of the harsh chemicals and unnatural sweeteners it contains. I want to drink something where I recognize all of the ingredients and I know that they are beneficial to my health. However, I do not like loading up on calories and fat from some of the sugary "juice" blends I find in the grocery store...that is NOT the type of alternative I am looking for.

While we have not tried every single flavor yet, my boyfriend and I put the Cheribundi drinks in the fridge right away, and we have been drinking them with our lunch and dinner. We even brought some to the beach the other day! This package actually came at a very helpful time, because we are just starting out with a new apartment and we don't have a huge budget to buy things to stock our fridge and cupboards. My boyfriend was so excited when these arrived on our doorstep. He is already a huge juice fan, but neither of us had ever had the opportunity to try Cheribundi before. We both loved that Cheribundi sent such a large selection, so that we could really find which was our favorite flavor for future reference.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the tart cherry taste; it is more sour than sweet and has a sharp flavor, but it is tasty! I can honestly say that I have never had a cherry juice drink, or seen another brand on the shelves at my local store. I feel good about drinking it, because each of the Cheribundi varieties is loaded with solid, nutritional content and not many calories; you can really taste the all-natural difference. These drinks are very refreshing on a hot day, and went nicely with our picnic lunch at the beach. My personal favorite was the Tart Cherry Pomegranate Refresh. I am already a huge pomegranate fan, but the mixture of tart cherry juice and pomegranate juice was a whole new thing! The two juices compliment each other and blend well to make a sweet and flavorful drink that is better than cherry or pomegranate juice alone. It is such a unique flavor that it is hard to describe! My boyfriend's favorite was the Tart Cherry Lemonade Refresh. He said that it was tangy, flavorful, and a new spin on classic, old-time lemonade. He said that he never thought of putting the two flavors together, but that they really make a great pair...this is a product he will definitely be purchasing again in the future.

My second favorite Cheribundi drink was the Tart Cherry Raspberry Refresh. My boyfriend doesn't like raspberries so he was not a fan, but I love them. The only Refresh drink that I did not like was the Cranberry -- but that is just a personal preference, since cranberries are not on the top of my list of favorite fruits. It tasted too much like something I would force myself to drink if I was trying to be healthy. On the other hand, my boyfriend liked it. Really, I recommend all of the Cheribundi drinks -- just don't grab up the ones that contain fruits you don't like to begin with. :) The Cheribundi Tea line also surprised me. Sometimes the tea blend drinks that I find in the store or in a vending machine are overly sweet and artificial tasting...enough to make me feel sick. I wasn't sure if I would like the Cheribundi tea or not, but I did! That's saying a lot, because I would never intentionally buy tea..I would only drink it if it was offered to me at someone's house. My favorite was the Tart Cherry Rooibos Tea; I have never tried Rooibos Tea, but I am guessing that I would like it. It has a very unique flavor that mixed well with the tart cherry juice. My boyfriend HATES tea of any kind, but I asked him to try the Cheribundi tea just to appease me. Actually, he liked it too! So I guess that is a testament to the quality taste of their drinks. His favorite was the Tart Cherry Green Tea, which reminded him of some of the Bubble Tea that we had ordered at a restaurant once.

If you are not a big fan of the tart cherry taste, these juices are great to use in smoothies! I always make my smoothies with greek yogurt, a fruit based juice, some ice cubes, and a variety of fresh fruit. I think I may have found a new favorite fruit based juice for my concoctions. I think the Cheribundi Refresh drinks have the right blend of tart cherry juice and other fruits to make these smoothies phenomenal. We don't have a blender yet, but when we get one, I will be sure to report back on how this tasted! Also, I don't know how many of you have heard of it, but my boyfriend and I are big "Bubble Tea" fans. We recently bought our own tapioca "pearls" and tea so that we could try our hand at making a batch. With bubble tea, you have the option of adding milk and fruit juices to make different flavors and consistencies. I love the milky varieties in all fruit flavors. We both a tropical fruit blend juice to use in our bubble tea, but I think that I am going to try the Tart Cherry Lemonade in one batch as well, out of curiosity. I am also wondering if you might be able to substitute one of the Cheribundi tea blends for actual tea - I don't know if that would change the consistency, but since they are so flavorful compared to regular tea, I would love to try it!


Interested in learning more about Cheribundi and their products? Check out the links below:


One lucky reader will win the same mixed case of Cheribundi that I did, courtesy of Cheribundi! All you need to do is enter on the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. readers, 18 and over, unless you have permission from your parents. Please be honest when submitting Rafflecopter entries -- remember, I DO check all of your entries for verification, and I will throw them out if they are false. If the form has a spot for you to enter information, please provide me with the appropriate username, link, etc so that it is easier for me to verify your entries! I am not responsible for the shipment of the prize, that is the company's duty. I will contact the winner via email (so make sure to use one that you check) and you will have 48 hours to respond with your shipping information. If you have any questions or if the Rafflecopter is not working properly, you can always contact me via Facebook or email (links on the sidebar). Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway