Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Green Pancakes with Organic Spirulina Powder [Review]

One of my passions and hobbies is cooking, including baking. In high school, my mom introduced me to baking. I did not start cooking until I was living on my own after I graduated from college. After I got married, I started cooking more meals from scratch, incorporating local produce and exotic spices. While cooking is second nature now, baking is making a comeback. I enjoy trying new recipes and tweaking old recipes to make them healthier. Baked goods can benefit from adding a little organic protein powder or organic spirulina powder to boost the vitamins and nutrients. Sari Foods Organic Spirulina Powder is a natural source of vital nutrients and vitamins for a healthy body.

Organic Spirulina Powder             ($25.95, 16oz)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
USDA Certified Organic
Zip lock does not work
Very fine powder, mixes easily
Plastic bag
Great source of vital nutrients

What is spirulina? Spirulina is a natural blue-green algae (cyanbacteria) powder that is very high in protein and nutrients. The algae forms tangled masses in warm alkaline lakes. The algae is dried and prepared as a food or food additive. This algae can be consumed by humans is one of the most potent nutrient sources available. Purchasing organic spirulina is important to avoid any contamination from the ponds and bodies of water where it grows. Contaminated spirulina, potentially non-organic spirulina can contain contaminants that would make it likely unsafe for children to consume because children are more sensitive to the contaminants.

Sari Foods grows spirulina in natural soda lakes in a remote area of Mongolia and is cultivated with pure desert water from 500m underground. This water is naturally free of environmental contaminants and is naturally rich in minerals and trace elements, making the conditions optimal for spirulina that is both pure and nutrient-dense. The area where the spirulina is grown is free of industry and pollution.

Spirulina is a fantastic source of many nutrients and vitamins that naturally boost the immune system and fight aging and free radicals. Nutrients and vitamins include:

  • Dietary protein
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin B12 (perfect for vegetarians and vegans)
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Beta Carotene
  • Chlorophyll
  • Phytonutrients
  • Antioxidants and essential amino acids (GLA, Omega 3, 6, 9)

Now that we have given a brief overview of spirulina, let's talk about using the powder. Sari Foods Organic Spirulina Powder is very fine. When I opened the package, the powder poofed out and dusted the counter top, reminding me of very fine all purpose flour. The package has a zip lock top, but it did not work very well. I had a difficult time getting the zipper closed all the way and decided to transfer to a glass container. I would like to see the packaging improved so the zip lock top closes all the way and is easier to close. The powder is so fine that the zip lock needs to work!

I smelled the spirulina powder and tasted a bit on my finger. Very strong smell and even stronger taste. The spirulina powder is very concentrated, so a little goes a long way. One would not necessarily take a teaspoon of spirulina powder and follow with water. The powder can be added to drinks, smoothies, baked goods, etc. 

I have mainly been adding spirulina to baked good like breads and muffins. When I added 1 teaspoon of the organic spirulina powder to pancake batter, it made it very green. Once the pancakes were cooked, the color wasn't as prominent. I think my toddler would find green pancakes fun when he gets a little bit older. I also made homemade raw almond butter and added about 1/2 tsp of the organic spirulina powder to it. Spirulina's deep green color makes it great for natural food coloring. I love the versatility of the spirulina powder. The fine grain of the powder results in easy and quick mixing into your favorite food or drink.

Green Pancakes Recipe
Add 1/2-1 tsp of organic spirulina powder to the pancake batter.

Every week, I am finding new foods and drinks to add the spirulina powder to. As the flu season has started, spirulina powder is a great way to keep my family healthy and strong to combat any illnesses we are exposed to. I keep reminding myself that a little spirulina powder goes a long way. The 16 oz package will last me a long daily with weekly use.

Remember to buy organic spirulina. Conventional and non-organic spirulina can be loaded with heavy metals and toxins that can cause harm to your body. Sari Foods Organic Spirulina Powder is a potent food additive to naturally boost immunity and strengthen your family's health. I would purchase this product again.

Disclosure: I am not a medical professional. If you have any questions or concerns about using this product, please consult a qualified medical professional. Spirulina use does have precautions and warning, so please do your research on any side effects and interactions. I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own.

reCAP Mason Jar Pour Cap [Review]

I have acquired a number of glass Mason jars over the past few years from my canning endeavors. From the small 4 oz canning jars to the big 1/2 gallon canning jars, I love the versatility for more than just canning. The 4 oz canning jars are perfect for storing leftovers for my toddler. The quart and half gallon canning jars are great for storing grains and dried beans. However, Mason canning jars can be used for so much more! From on-the-go drinks to organizing pantry items, reCAP Mason jar pour caps transform ordinary glass jars to containers that shake, pour and store.

Mason Jar Pour Cap              (wide mouth, silver color)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Transform Mason jars into storage containers
Cap is made from plastic
Regular and wide mouth sizes

I have seen Mason jars being used for purposes other than canning a lot lately, but never took the plunge to try it myself until recently. I have been using used lids and rings if I was storing something in the fridge or the pantry. The used lids cannot be reused for canning. Instead of throwing them out, I decided to use them if I were storing something in the canning jar. However, unscrewing the ring and lining up the lids and rings when putting back on was becoming a bit cumbersome each time. Let's just say, I prefer easy and efficient methods. The reCAP Mason jar pour cap is the answer!

ReCAP Mason Jar Pour Cap is made from plastic and is 100% BPA free. The caps are also made in the USA.

The jar pour cap can be used for many different uses like pouring liquids and solids. That means you can use a Mason jar like a portable cup with a lid. Though I would be careful if pouring hot liquid as the glass would get very hot. Likewise with cold liquids. I could see myself using the pour cap for thinner soups if I wanted to take food on the go.

I really like that the caps can be used for just about anything. The opening is wide enough to allow most items through. The reCAP pour cap has a rubber gasket inside that provides for a good seal against the glass Mason jar. I feel comfortable that nothing would be spilled. The top opening is firm enough that it will come open accidentally, but easy enough to open. The opening is about the size of a quarter.


I am in love with reCAP Mason Jar Pour Caps. I would like get a few more lids for smaller containers that I can take on the go. ReCAP Mason jar pour caps are a great way to reuse Mason jars in many different ways.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Warmables Hot and Cold Pack [Review]

Heating pads have become my favorite natural remedy for back pain and shoulder tension. Carrying around a toddler plus the stress of a sleep regression gone crazy, my back and shoulders are crying out for some relief. Warmables natural heating pads offers a natural and eco-friendly solution for pain relief. Reused cherry pits are the main component in Warmables heating pads.

Body Warmer Heating Pad              ($26.00)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

Warmables Coupon Code: KEEPWARM ($5.00 off on orders in the hot and cold pack category, excludes sale items, expires 10/31/14)

The Good
The Not So Good
Hot and cold therapy uses
Fabric is on the thinner side
Great for pressure massaging

Warmables hot and cold packs are pretty simple - used cherry pits inside a cotton cover. The pack that I received had cotton flannel on one side and cotton knit on the other.

The hot and cold pack came just in time! I hurt my lower back the day right before a race. As I was picking up my race packet and feeling sharp pain in my lower back, I decided to get home and put the Warmables hot and cold pack to use. I heated up the pack in the microwave, 1 minute at a time, until it reached the desired heat level. It took about 2.5 minutes total time to get to a good heat level, but not be so hot that it burned my skin. Warmables recommends heating one minute at a time to prevent the cherry pits from burning. Giving the pack a shake will help to distribute the heat during the heating process.

I loved that the cherry pits got hot fairly quickly because that is what my lower back needed. I had to be careful with putting the pack directly on my skin when I first took it out of the microwave oven. I laid it over my shirt. I really enjoyed the heat radiating into my skin. I felt that the cherry pits kept the heat very well. After about 5-10 minutes, I turned the heating pad over to get a few more minute of heat.

After doing the heat treatment, I noticed improvement in my low back pain. I ended up doing the treatment three times and my lower back pain improved by 90%. I had a successful run the next day.

I have also used Warmables Hot and Cold Pack on my shoulders. The pack that I received covered one shoulder, but Warmables does sell biggest packs and packs that are made just for shoulders. I like the versatility of this size and will use it on other body parts.

The pack can also be used for cold therapy. Chill in the freezer for a few hours in a plastic bag, for protection.

I love that the heating pad cover is made from cotton fabric and is filled with cherry pits. What a great way to reuse cherry pits and provide good heat for natural pain relief. I could like to see the fabric be thicker to avoid burning the skin when really heating up the pack. I worry that the fabric could get dirty. A removable and washable cover would be a great bonus!

If you are looking for natural pain relief through heat or cold, Warmables Hot and Cold Packs are a great solution. Warmables also offers packs in many different sizes. Aside from using the microwave or the freezer to warm up/cool down, Warmables packs with cherry pits use absolutely no electricity. The versatility and ability to achieve a high heat level make Warmables hot and cold packs a required staple in any house.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own.

Uncorked Ventures Wine Club [Review}

I have always been a big fan of wine. One of my favorite memories is the trip to Napa Valley with my parents. When a previous coworker mentioned joining a wine club, I was a bit hesitant. I tend to be picky about my wines. How can I commit to receiving wines that I have never tried before. What if I do not like them? Well, I have since realized that you have to try wines to discover new favorites. Uncorked Ventures wine club is a different kind of wine club, focusing on family ownership and direct involvement in wine creation.

 Explorations Wine Club          
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
High scoring wines

Member discounts

Direct involvement in wine creation

If you are not familiar with wine clubs, they work like just about any other type of "club." You pay a set price for shipment or for a period of time (like a year) and every month you receive a shipment. I received a shipment from the Explorations Wine Club level ($40 per shipment). You can select from 1 to 12 shipments, monthly, every other month and quarterly shipments. I like that I can select how many shipment I would like to receive. Maybe I like high quality wine, but I don't drink it often and I would want less shipments. Not having to commit to every month of the year is a good feature of the club.

Club Membership includes:
-2 bottles of wine - 1 red and 1 white
-Discounts on re-orders
-The best quality wine club under $100
-Monthly newsletter detailing featured wines, wineries & winemakers
-10% off all purchases from the Uncorked Ventures online store
-First dibs on all last call wines, before they are offered to the public

I requested to receive two red wines because we typically drink only red wine. I received Easton House 2009 California Red Wine and Del Rio Vineyards 2011 Syrah.

I had to sign for the package since this is alcohol being shipped and you have to be over 21 to receive the package. The wines were packaged very well in almost form fitting cardboard molds. I like that the packaging protects the wine and is all recyclable.

Easton House 2009 California Red Wine was a really good table wine. The flavor was pretty full bodied, but not as full as a Shiraz would be. This wine would go well with almost any meal and I enjoyed drinking it.

Del Rio Vineyards 2011 Syrah was especially good. Syrahs are one of my favorite wines and 2011 was a great wine year. The Syrah had great depth of flavor.

I can see myself signing up for the Uncorked Ventures wine club because of the high quality of wines. Even if I receive a wine or a label I have never had before, I am confident that the owners of Uncorked Ventures choose high scoring wines or wine that would have scored high. If you are a wine connoisseur or just discovering wines, I would recommend this wine club.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Meliora K Natural Laundry Detergent [Review]

As more and more natural products fill the shelf space at stores, it is still imperative to read the ingredients label and to ask the right questions. In a world of "greenwashing" and unregulated terms (like "natural"), we have to continue asking the questions about the ingredients that are in our products. The laundry and cleaning products that we use go into our water. If we use toxic cleaners, then they will contaminate our water supply. Not only will more chemicals need to be used to clean our water supply, but the toxic chemicals will also touch our skin as we wear our clothes and use our towels and sheets. Finding natural laundry products that clean well and leave no toxic chemicals behind is possible! Meliora K provides simple, natural cleaning products with full ingredient transparency.

Right Hand Laundry Powder       ($5.99, 16 loads/standard washer)
No Frills Soap Bar                         ($3.99, 4 oz)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
100% natural ingredients



No unnecessary additives

Meliora K sent me three products to try out. I received the Right Hand Laundry Powder (16 loads for a standard washer and 32 loads for a high efficiency washer), No Frills Soap Bar, and the Right Hand Hand Laundry Powder in the travel size. The Right Hand Laundry Powder includes the No Frills Soap Bar. The soap is cold processed by hand in small batches. The soap is formulated to be simple, but effective. The No Frills Soap Bar can be grated to make your own laundry detergent. How great is that?! I really like the travel size container, which can be refilled and packed for travel.

Let's talk about the Right Hand Laundry Powder. The ingredients list is simple and contains only what is required to clean the clothes and cloth diapers. While many laundry detergents and cleaning products do not publish their ingredients list, Meliora K focuses on full transparency.

Ingredients: Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Carbonate, Soap (Organic Coconut Oil, Water, Sodium Hydroxide*) *Sodium hydroxide is 100% reacted in soap-making process.

The laundry powder is unscented. I prefer my cleaning products unscented or very lightly scented. If you like a little scent in your laundry, you could add 5-10 drops of an essential oil to the laundry powder bag/container and shake it to distribute.

My first use for the Right Hand Laundry Powder was with the cloth diaper laundry. The cloth diapers have had stick issues after being peed in and especially after sitting in the wet bag. After doing some research, I realized that the stick issues could be either due to laundry detergent buildup or the cloth diapers not being cleaned all the way (too little detergent used).

I used a method to strip the cloth diapers by going through one regular wash routine (hot light wash without detergent + hot extra heavy wash with detergent) and then going through a couple of hot medium washes without detergent to see if there were still soap bubbles during the agitation stage.

I have been using Charlie's Soap as my natural laundry detergent (Charlie's Soap) for over one year. The diapers have always come out of the wash smelling clean. However, when I did the first hot wash without detergent and opened the lid after about 1-2 minutes of agitation, I saw soap bubbles. I did 2 more washes like this for a total of 3 washes before I felt like there were no more soap bubbles (not to be confused with bubbles from water moving around).

For the next cloth diaper laundry washing day, I used Meliora K Right Hand Laundry Powder. I went through the same routine as above. During the first post-regular wash, I opened the lid after 1-2 minutes of agitation. No soap bubbles! This means that there was no soap build up with Right Hand Laundry Powder.

I switched between the two soaps a few more times to see if I was getting consistent results. Not a scientific experiment by any means, but I think the results speak for themselves. I have since switched to Meliora K for my cloth diaper detergent in hopes that I will not have any more detergent build up and no more smells. So far as good! Cloth diapers come out smelling clean and stink issues are not as prominent.

Simple and effective ingredients are all that you need to get your cloth diapers and clothes clean. The No Frills Soap Bar can be grated to make your own homemade natural laundry detergent or can be used for hand washing. Meliora K's focus on transparency and effective ingredients makes the natural laundry powder and soap perfect for cleaning.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Neil Diamond Melody Road Album [Review]

Music is a big part of my life. I love listening to music while I am cooking or working around the house, while driving in the car, and while running, among many other times. Though I do have my favorite artists and songs, I always love to discover new artists and songs. Neil Diamond is a classic artists that has had many hits throughout his lifetime. His new album, Melody Road, mirrors his classic hits while weaving in modern aspects.

Neil Diamond can still sing! The songs in his new album bring me back to his old classics with his distinctive voice and melodies. The songs also have a little bit of a modern feel to them. I seldom listen to the radio because I feel like most new songs today just are not that good anymore. The songs part of Melody Road album are easy to listen to and make me want to listen to them.

Melody Road Album Tracklist:
1. Melody Road
2. First Time
3. Seongah and Jimmy
4. Something Blue
5. Nothing But a Heartache
6. In Better Days
7. Ooo Do I Wanna Be Yours
8. Alone at the Ball
9. Sunny Disposition
10. Marry Me Now
11. The Art of Love
12. Melody Road (Reprise)

My favorite songs are Something Blue and In Better Days. These songs, and some others, remind me of good times and experiences. I can see myself listening to this album in the car because the songs are easy to listen to.

Melody Road album can be pre-ordered/ordered on iTunes and on Amazon.

Disclosure: I participated in the Neil Diamond Melody Road album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Best Stroller Organizer [Review]

Stroller organizers are a required accessory for any stroller. Stroller organizers provide a place to hold drinks, keys, phones, wallets, etc. Anything small that you want to have quick access to can be placed at your fingertips. Stroller organizers that strap to the handlebar or handles stay out of the way. Pure Bliss Stroller Organizer has been designed specifically to address problems with drinks spilling and will attach to most strollers.

Best Stroller Organizer     
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Thick fabric and strong velcro
Open drinks sloshed and spilled
Collapsible design
Cup holders didn't fit wider drink containers
Fits most strollers (13-21" wide handles)

Let's talk about stroller organizers! They are an absolute necessity for any stroller and any parents. We started off with one stroller and one stroller organizer. Several months later, we added a jogging stroller. We skipped getting another stroller organizer because we thought we would move the one stroller organizer we had between the two strollers. Boy, we were wrong! After a couple of weeks and constantly asking each other for the stroller organizer, we realized that each stroller needed its own stroller organizer.

The first thing I noticed about the Pure Bill stroller organizer was the high quality fabric. The fabric is very thick. The velcro tabs are made with the same thick fabric and strong velcro. I feel confident that the stroller organizer will not fall off, even with big and full drinks in both cups. I like to load up my stroller organizers, so it is very important that the velcro is strong enough.

The stroller organizer perfectly fit both the Britax B-Agile stroller and the BOB Revolution stroller perfectly. The stroller organizer is collapsible. This feature helps when you fold the stroller to put in the trunk. I like that I can keep the stroller organizer on the stroller.

The stroller organizer has two cup holders. These holders are designed to keep drinks in place and prevent sloshing and spilling. Though the cup holders have been specifically designed to limit spilling, I found that drinks that were full and had an opening still spilled out. Obviously, if you are walking around the mall with smooth floors, you probably won't spill much. However, walking down the street will result in some drink spillage. I try to keep drinks covered when in the cup holders. The cup holders are also double insulated.

I would like to note that the cup holders are a bit smaller than my other stroller organizer. Wider drink containers were hard to get into the cup holder. My stainless steel water bottle with a neoprene cover was so tight in the cup holder that it was hard to get it in and out.

I love the outer mesh pockets for storing my cell phone. The middle compartment with magnetic closer is great for holding my wallet and keys. I prefer to keep my wallet and keys inside so they are not visible to others.

Pure Bliss Stroller organizer has great features that make it a required baby accessory for any parents or child caregiver.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using 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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