Reviews

Skin Care Product Review: Beautycounter

If you are familiar with some of my past blog posts, you know that I take great caution in what I put on my skin.  In my post about parabens in our skin care products, I only merely scratched the surface when talking about just some of the toxic ingredients we put on ourselves every single day.   We are exposed to thousands throughout the course of a day thinking we’re doing something as simple as moisturizing!  I’m always on the lookout for products that deliver the full package: clean, organic, effective, and safe.

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You can imagine my excitement levels when I met a girl, Sydney, at the gym who introduced me to a clean line of beauty and skin care products I’d never heard of, Beautycounter.  I was very interested in learning more about them by what she was describing to me (completely non-toxic), and the miracle it worked on her skin.  When I got home I looked them up and read the founder of Beautycounter, Gregg Renfrew’s, story which really resonated with me.  She described the motives behind her starting the company last March, after watching “An Inconvenient Truth”.  That was a real eye-opener for her to begin removing so many of the toxic chemicals that we have in our life each day without even thinking about it.  Skin care was no different.  And unfortunately, here in the US, there’s little to no regulation on the ingredients that enter the products we use so often.  For instance, the EU has banned 1,300 chemicals used as ingredients in beauty products while we have banned all of 11!  Every one of Beautycounter’s ingredients is listed on their label, which is not even a requirement by law. When I referenced the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in my post on parabens, I emphasized the importance of their toxicity level ranking system–and all of Beautycounter’s products are a 0, 1, or 2 on the scale.  Anything 2 or under is considered non-toxic and safe.

Routine Clean, Beautycounter

So, I decided to try out BeautyCounter for myself since it sounded pretty amazing.  I was looking for a new face wash anyway–perfect timing.  The first product I tried out was “Routine Clean” cream cleanser.  I love that on their label it doesn’t even say “ingredients” before it lists them—it reads “transparency”.  Clever.  And the packaging is as clean as their products, a minimalist approach. When trying out the face cleanser, I found I only needed a small amount and I really liked the way it felt on my skin.  My face was very clean after a little application and a few rinses with warm water.  Any and all reminisces of makeup I had on that day vanished.   I’m a fan!

hydrate cleanser, beautycounter

I went on to test out two more: their “Hydrate” everyday body lotion, and the perfect match with it, the “Lustro” body oil.  The two combined made me skin so soft and, well, hydrated.  Because they use pure essential oils in their products, the scent is subtle and clean smelling.  I don’t like anything that’s overpowering (both because I am sensitive to them and tend not to like many of scents anyway), so these are perfect.  The Lustro body oil scent I ordered was jasmine, but again, subtle.

lustro body oil

 

I will definitely be expanding my Beautycounter line at home since these were a success!  I like knowing I’m supporting my own health and safety, and supporting companies that care about the same.  If you would like to order some Beautycounter products of your own, you can find click here on Sydney’s website where you will find the entire range of products they offer.  She also posts product info and promos on her Instagram site @balancing_pretty. 🙂

Mary’s Gone Crackers: Product Review

There are few brands I really trust to deliver.  Taste, texture, flavor, non-GMO, nutrient dense, easy-on-the-go, gluten free, low sodium, low in sugar, not too many calories, certified organic; these are all elements I look for when choosing a packaged product in the grocery store.  With that many expectations, that doesn’t leave too many options.  One of the brands I came to love many years ago, and still do, meets all of these requirements.  Mary’s Gone Crackers is the name, and great snacks are their game.  They know how to bring it, and I’m so happy to review some of their products.

Here are the 3 Mary’s Gone Crackers products I will highlight:

The Super Seed Crackers are delish!  I could eat the whole box.  Must ration.  The reasons why they’re awesome:  they contain whole grains, they’re gluten free, dairy-free, organic, and non-GMO.   What I love most about these is the combination of whole grains and other wholesome, nutritionally dense ingredients used: brown rice, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, poppy seeds, and seaweed!  There are so many ways to enjoy them (besides just straight out of the box!).  Here are some ideas:

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ImageDid I eat them all?  Yes.  Variety is good!  🙂 I know you’ll enjoy them too.

“Just The Crumbs” was a brilliant idea!  After years of enjoying their crackers, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of little crumbs that got left behind in the bottom of the bag!  They came up with a great solution and put them in an easy-to-use container.  This is perfect for everyone, but especially those always on the look-out for a gluten free bread crumb alternative.  I enjoyed these two ways, one was breaded cauliflower bites, and the other was meatballs!

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Why no pic on a plate, you ask?  They didn’t make it.  I guess they’re also referred to “cauliflower poppers” for a reason.  I just kept popping them into my mouth.

Here’s the easy recipe:  

  • 1 organic cauliflower floret
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup Just The Crumbs
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • pepper to taste

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F).  Grease a large baking sheet.  Cut the cauliflower into pieces so some of the stalk is still in tact (see photo above).  Add to a medium size bowl, pour the rest of the ingredients on top and mix well so the cauliflower is coated.  Pour onto baking sheet, make sure it’s spread evenly so they’re not overlapping.  Roast them for 35-40 min, or until golden brown.  Enjoy.

Here are the yummy meatballs I made using “Just The Crumbs”.  , recipe to come:

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Meatballs: 

  • 1 lb. organic grass-fed beef
  • 1/4 c Just The Crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Italian spices (a blend of thyme, marjoram, rosemary, basil, oregano)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan or pecorino grated cheese (optional)

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).  In a large mixing bowl, place the ground beef in and mix other ingredients on top.  Mix, lightly (with a large wooden spoon), so they’re blended together nicely, but not over doing it.  Using your hand or an ice cream scooper, form into balls and place on a greased, or lined, baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes on one side, take out and rotate to other side, bake another 15-20 minutes, until nicely browned.  Eat them on their own, dip in marinara, or add to a dish of your choice!

 You’ve now had your appetizers and your main, it’s time for a little dessert!  Let me introduce you to Chocolate Chip Love Cookies.  They’re gluten free, nut free, and dairy free!  They’re not flavor free.  Need I say more?  Here they are:

cookie marys

Have you already tried Mary’s Gone Crackers products?  How do you enjoy them?!  I’d love to hear from you!  🙂

Product Review: Ancient Wisdom by Imperial Tonics

There is a new product on the market!  Ancient Wisdom Tonic Superfood by Imperial contains a blend of extracts of the royal family of Chinese herbs.  Its ingredients set it apart from its predecessors on the market.  I am excited I have been asked to review this amazing formula.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around for 5,000 of years. There are three treasures associated with TCM: Jing, Qi, and Shen.  It is said disease arise when one or more of the three treasures are out of balance. Help balance your treasures by incorporating this tonic into a beverage or meal.  Find out at the end how I made one yummy smoothie out of it!

Ancient-Wisdom-Superfood

Here is what’s in Ancient Wisdom Tonic Superfood and why it’s so good for you:

Astralagus IV Extract

  • An excellent immune booster, thought to slow down the aging process, could play an important role in treating cancer, and normalize disturbances in the body.

Duanwood Reishi Spores

  • Improves how we handle stress, promotes balance, supports digestion which therefore stimulates our immune system and boosts energy levels. Duanwood Reishi is more potent and beneficial to conventional Reishi mushrooms.

Schizandra Extract

  • Decreases fatigue, enhances physical performance and reduces stress levels.  Helps with concentration and even offers liver and kidney protecting benefits.

Goji Berry Extract

  • Strengthens the immune system, increases vitality, reduces irritability.  It’s a nutritional powerhouse and super antioxidant loaded with vitamin C, minerals such as calcium, zinc, and selenium, and iron.

He Shou Wu Extract

  • An effective blood tonic to support healthy aging, healthy muscles, tendons and bones.

I love incorporating this tonic superfood into my diet and here’s how I did it this morning:

Matcha Mint Choc Chip (serves 1 – 2)

ingriends for ancient wisdom smoothie

  • 2 cups coconut water
  • 1 tsp Ancient Wisdom
  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 1 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 dates
  • 1 drop pure peppermint essential oil (culinary grade)
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen spinach
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • 1 tsp as garnish with pure cacao nibs
  • Sweeten with stevia or raw honey to taste (if you wish)

Blend all ingredients together!

ancient wisdom smoothie

This can also simply be added to your coffee in the morning (I tried that too, yum!), tea, or anything else you like!  I love finding products that have such extraordinary health benefits in addition to a healthy eating routine.  Cheers to an extra boost!

KalorieBox: Product Review

Snack Attack Volume II will be centered around snacks in a box!  The first Snack Attack post focused on what you can find in the grocery store or put together on your own.  This time it’s a little different. There is a great company who offers to bring tasty, healthy snacks direct to your doorstep and donate a meal to a child in need for each box shipped out.  Here’s what it is:

KalorieBox = a great answer to the snack-attacker with little to no time on their hands—and you’ll be a do-gooder too!  For every KalorieBox shipped, a meal is donated to a less fortunate child in America.

I was very excited to receive my very own KalorieBox, and here’s what it contained:

KalorieBox, inner

Fit Frappe: Fit Frappe is a grab-and-go protein mixture that will provide 20+ grams of protein in addition to your morning cup of joe in a single pack!  If you’re pressed for time or need to fuel up during a long day out, this is an easy way to go—just add liquid (like almond milk!).

Simply Snackin’:  This is not your ordinary jerky!  Meat mixed with fruit?  Delightful!  I received one beef sirloin with pineapple and one chicken with mango and papaya.  I asked my best friend to do a taste test in front of me (since I don’t eat meat), and got the response I was hoping for: deliciousness!  The description: Tender and tasty.  The jerky is gluten free, low calorie (only 60 calories in 1 pack), and high in lean protein.

Plentils chips:  Plentils are made by the “Enjoy Life” brand—a brand I am very fond of that makes fantastic gluten free items.  If you need to have something crunchy and feel like you’re indulging in some chips but don’t want all the extra calories and oil, Plentils are a great go-to item.  There are four flavors they offer: Light Sea Salt, Dill & Sour Cream, Garlic & Parmesan, and Margherita Pizza which is what KalorieBox sent me.  They were YUMMY.  I have tried the light sea salt before and didn’t think much of them.  The Margherita Pizza flavor’s where it’s at!

Stubb’s BBQ sauce:  What a great way to make a simple, plain meal burst with flavor.  Add it to chicken, steak, tofu, or veggies for a healthy, low calorie, tasty meal.  The sauce is only 30 calories for 2 tablespoons.  This too is gluten free—and up until now I didn’t know there was gluten free BBQ sauce available.  I’ve been making my own now for 10 years—what a treat!

Hint Water:  This was right up my alley.  I tend to hint my own water with lemon, so this was such a nice change.  Not overpowering in flavor, no calories, no additives and fake sugars–just a ‘hint’ of flavor that made ordinary old water grand.  Trying to kick the soda habit?  Here’s your chance!

Thank you, Michael, at KalorieBox for asking me to review your service!  The snacks are great and affordable.

If you are interested in ordering a KalorieBox of your own, you can subscribe  to the service and have the snacks delivered directly to your home!  Just visit the KalorieBox website to learn more and get the Box for you: KalorieBox.com.

Happy, Healthy Snacking!