Friday, August 29, 2014

Does a Pumpkin Spice Latte Have Pumpkin?

I am all about ingredients. I read every ingredient label and even periodically re-check the ingredient labels on some of my most commonly purchased packaged items (never know when a company can change ingredients). While there are some ingredients that I completely avoid (artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, HFCS to give you a few example), I am a little more lax about other not as toxic ingredients. While I try to limit the amount of processed food consumed in our house and out of the house, I understand that sometimes, we cannot avoid certain ingredients or we might want to indulge in a favorite food or drink. Understanding the ingredients and making a conscious and informed decision is important.

My husband loves Pumpkin Spice Lattes, so when Food Babe investigated the ingredients list, we were both a little surprised to find that the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte ingredients list does not even contain pumpkin. Then again, maybe not surprised. The latte has pumpkin spice, not pumpkin, along with some other potentially harmful ingredients. If you drink Starbucks blended drinks on a frequent basis, check out the graphics from Food Babe below.



>> Are you surprised by the ingredients list for the Pumpkin Spice Latte??
 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Winner Announcement

The giveaways for the Vita Nut Best Nut Milk Bag and the Funkins Reusable Cloth Napkin have concluded! Thank you to all those that entered! Winners are listed below and have confirmed.








Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to Make Raw Almond Milk [Recipe]

Over the past year and a half, staying at home full time with my baby and now toddler has made me realize that I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I love making healthy, homemade items for us to enjoy. Though I appreciate the convenience of pre-packaged food, I receive great satisfaction from making something myself. I have full control over the ingredients. After a recent search for an organic almond milk without any additives or sweeteners (yes, even natural and organic ones), I decided to make my own. Vita Nut Milk Bag is the best nut milk bag for making your own nut milks, raw juices, cold brew coffees and so much more.

Vita Nut Best Nut Milk Bag           ($9.95)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Rounded bottom for less waste
When drawn, strings get in the way a bit
No tearing under heat/squeezing

Ultra-fine mesh for better filtering




Making raw almond milk is an easy process with just a few steps. Vita Nut's best milk bag helps to filter out the almond milk from the almond pulp and results in easy and sanitary clean up.

Homemade Raw Almond Milk

Ingredients
1 cup raw almonds, soaked in water (cover almonds and soak overnight, 8-12 hrs)
3 cups of water
Sweeteners such as dates (3-4 dates soaked for 1 hr), raisins, prunes, agave, honey, maple syrup (optional)
Vanilla or almond extract (optional)
Pinch of sea salt, to enhance flavor (optional)

Directions
  1. Place almonds in a small bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight, 8-12 hours. Can also soak for 1-2 hours, if in a pinch.
  2. If using dates, raisins or prunes as your sweetener, place those in the blender with a little bit of water and blend on highest speed until creamy. 
  3. Drain and rinse the almonds and place in blender with 3 cups of water, any sweeteners, vanilla/almond extract and sea salt, if using. Omit sweeteners for unsweetened raw almond milk.
  4. Blend on highest speed for 1 minute.
  5. Place the milk bag over a large bowl and slowly pour the almond milk mixture into the bag. 
  6. Hold the top of the bag closed and squeeze the bottom of the bag to release milk. Twisting the bag can also work. This creamy liquid is the raw almond milk.
  7. Pour into a glass or airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. Shake container very well before using because the almond milk separates when sitting. 

Photo Directions
Drain and rinse soaked almonds. Place in blender with 3 cups of water and any other additions.


Blend on highest speed for 1 minute.

 

Place milk bag over a large bowl and slowly pour the almond milk mixture into the bag.


Let the almond milk drain, then squeeze the bottom and twist the bag to release the rest of the almond milk.

 

Notes
  • A food processor can be used instead of a blender. The liquid tends to leak out, so you might want to do 2-3 batches.
  • Cheese bag, cheese cloth, flour sacks, etc. can also be used. Cheese cloth tends to tear with twisting, so be careful when squeezing and twisting to release the almond milk.
  • Recipe can be used to make any nut or seed milk. Most seeds do not need to be soaked or strained in the nut milk bag because they blend well with water. 
  • Feel free to add any other flavorings or sweeteners to the blender.
  • Liquid sweeteners can also be added to the strained milk.
  • Almond pulp can be saved and used as an addition to things like yogurt, oatmeal, baked good, or dried/dehydrated to make raw almond flour.

I really liked using the Vita Nut milk bag to make my homemade raw almond milk. The bag was easy to use. I did not worry about it ripping or tearing when I was squeezing the almond milk. The almond pulp inside the bag was dry, meaning that the bag and my hands did a good job at straining the almond milk. When I was done straining the almond milk, I scooped out the almond pulp to save for muffins. I turned the milk bag inside out to get all of the almond pulp out. The rounded bottom helped to scoop everything out and resulted in easy clean up. A little natural soap and water and the milk bag was clean. The milk bag dried quickly and I reused it later for removing liquid from frozen spinach.

The strings at the top help to keep the bag cinched, but tend to get a bit long when they are drawn. I found that they got in the way while I was trying to squeeze the milk out. Maybe next time, I will tuck the strings into the bag.

Vita Nut best milk bag is the secret to quick and easy homemade nut milks, raw juices and more! No tearing, less mess and frustration, and easy clean up make Vita Nut milk bag the perfect accessory for your milk and juicing endeavors.

Disclosure: 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. All opinions are my own. 


Monday, August 25, 2014

California Oranges [Giveaway]


california-oranges-button2

Welcome to the California Oranges Giveaway Event, hosted by Happy Mothering. During this giveaway, we'll be giving away a gift box filled with goodies valued at approximately $100!

This gift box will include:

Certified Organic Oranges

Orange_SmBag-01
Tangerine Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic(Tangerine)



Thursday, August 21, 2014

KIND Nuts and Spices [Review]

I love a good granola bar! Though I prefer to make my own granola bars, sometimes the convenience of packaged granola bar saves time and makes travel (running errands or going on a trip) much easier. Individually packaged granola bars can be thrown into a diaper bag or a work back pack to always have a snack on hand. When I look for individually packaged snack items, I scrutinize ingredients closely. After the ingredients pass my requirements (no preservatives, no artificial/synthetic ingredients, etc.), I look for delicious flavors and a good taste. KIND bars offer indulgent flavors without artificial ingredients and preservatives.

KIND Caramel Almond & Sea Salt           (12 pack, $19.99)
KIND Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond    (12 pack, $17.91)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Simple ingredients list
Unknown source of some ingredients
Delicious flavor combinations






KIND released two new flavors of their Nuts & Spices bars: Caramel Almond & Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond. Caramel Almond & Sea Salt is made with sea-salt and sweet caramel drizzled over crunchy almonds. Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond is made with dark roast coffee and whole almonds blended with honey and drizzled in dark chocolate. Both flavors contain 7g fiber, 6g protein and 5g sugar. KIND bars are a low-sugar healthy snack. Each bar is 200 calories.

I opened up the KIND Caramel Almond & Sea Salt bar on our trip to visit the grandparents. I love that the bar is pretty much made up of almonds because almonds are my favorite nuts. The bar had a slight caramel taste, not too overpowering. Though, I could not really taste the salt. Overall, the flavor combination worked well together. I enjoyed the bar and received an energy boost after feeling lightheaded all afternoon.



The ingredients list is as KIND claims, no artificial ingredients. However, I would question the source of sugar, soy lecithin, milk powder and natural flavor. The labels states that glucose is non-GMO, but the other ingredients do not have the same indication, so I would assume that they are GMO. If you are trying to avoid GMO foods, I recommend digging a bit deeper to find out the source.

KIND Caramel Almond & Sea Salt Ingredients: Almonds, chicory root fiber, honey, palm kernel oil, sugar, non GMO glucose, crisp rice, soy lecithin, sea salt, milk powder, carob powder, natural flavor, annatto.

I tried the KIND Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond the next day with my daily 3:30pm coffee. I love that the bar is made with dark roast coffee. Maybe I do not need to drink the coffee with it after all! I really liked the combination of dark chocolate with almonds. Once again, the bar is mostly made up of almonds, which I love. The chocolate flavor was subtle. I would love the KIND Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond bar even more if it had more of a chocolaty taste.


Once again, I would question the source of sugar and soy lecithin. The labels states that glucose is non-GMO, but the other ingredients do not have the same indication, so I would assume that they are GMO. If you are trying to avoid GMO foods, I recommend digging a bit deeper to find out the source.

KIND Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond Ingredients: Almonds, chicory root fiber, sugar, palm kernel oil, honey, non-GMO glucose, cocoa powder, crisp rice, chocolate liquor, coffee, soy lecithin, cocoa butter, vanilla extract, Madagascar vanilla, salt.

If you are looking for a low-sugar healthy snack that will give you a lasting energy boost, look to KIND's new Nuts & Spices flavors. If you have sensitivities to ingredients or are trying to avoid certain ingredients like soy, non-GMO, etc., do some research before purchasing.

Disclosure: 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. All opinions are my own. 


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