As a self-professed low-maintenance babe, who is currently working from home, I can’t say I miss my former weekday-morning routine of applying make up to my face before heading out to the office. One thing I do miss though is rocking my favorite hot pink lipstick that’s been my style signature since, well, forever. I like to keep my lips soft, but I’ve found that brightly-colored lipstick stains the masks that we all need to wear when leaving the house. Since no one can see my mouth anyway, I’ve switched to using colorless lip balms to keep my lips healthy and my masks stain-free. It’s perfect timing then that I was recently offered the opportunity to review a line of natural lip balms called Mongo Kiss from Eco Lips, which is the original organic lip balm.
So. Many. Flavors.
Not only was Eco Lips the first organic lip balm on the market, they’re also a company with a conscience. All of their ingredients are sustainably and ethically obtained from trusted sources around the globe. Their products are Fair Trade Certified™, Non-GMO Project Verified, Leaping Bunny Certified, and gluten-free. Key ingredients in the Mongo Kiss lips balms are organic Mongongo oil from Africa (which also gives the product its memorable name), and organic Fair Trade Certified cocoa butter, to create ultra-hydrating balm that provides essential nutrients for your lips.
Mmm . . . Banana
Healthy, nourished lips are just a swipe away. Mongongo oil is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are known to remain on the skin longer than saturated fatty acids (like coconut oil) or monounsaturated oils (like jojoba oil), so you know your lips are protected all day. The selection of natural, fruity flavors is also very appealing. My favorite, Mongo Kiss banana, smells and tastes like the sweet, ripe fruit, with hints of caramel, cinnamon and dark rum. It’s a blissfully tropical treat for your lips!
With the upcoming fall and winter weather, which can be harsh on the skin, you may also want to add a lip scrub to your self-care routine. Why use a lip scrub, you may ask? Because once your lips become chapped, lip balm will not help to remedy the problem unless you first gently exfoliate them. The purpose of using a lip scrub is to remove dead skin cells that tend to dull the natural glow of the lips. Eco Lips sent me this Lipscrub stick that tastes and smells like brown sugar — because there’s brown sugar in it! The sugar gently buffs away flaky, dry skin while organic coconut oil, olive oil and jojoba moisturize and protect. All you have to do to keep your lips smooth and kissably soft is apply and rub gently, then wipe, or lick, it off. Yummy. Eco Lips Lip Scrubs are available in assorted flavors and come in jars as well as convenient, travel-ready sticks. Find out more about them at This Link.
Eco Lips products are sold in most Whole Foods and other select stores, and you can find out where to purchase them in your neighborhood by visiting This Link. You can also shop for Mongo Kiss and otherEco Lips products online Here. Remember that the Holiday Season is coming up fast and these balms make great stocking stuffers!
Do you like yogurt? I sure do. As food trends adapt to changing diets, I’ve sampled and reviewed a variety of delicious non-dairy yogurts. While these yogurts are ideal for fans who are lactose intolerant, and also those who follow a vegan diet, the bottom line is that it has to taste great. With nut-derived milks becoming increasingly popular, it makes sense that an almond milk-based yogurt would hit the market. If you’re curious about non-dairy yogurt alternatives, let me introduce you to AYO, a delicious and healthy yogurt made with organic almond milk.
AYO was created by the Billings family, who have been growing almonds on their farm, based in California’s sunny San Joaquin Valley, for four generations. The Billings‘ are forward-thinking farmers who are passionate about introducing better-for-you foods with clear traceability, vertical integration and sustainable practices. Their commitment to innovation, and a farm-to-spoon philosophy, created AYO yogurt. From their almond orchards where everything starts, to picking, then churning, blending with organic fruits or organic vanilla, and culturing the yogurt — the result is luscious, probiotic-rich yogurts that taste fantastic.
Since I’ve been working from home, yogurt has been one of my go-to snacks, so I was thrilled to receive samples of all four flavors (Strawberry, Peach, Blueberry, and Vanilla) of AYO yogurt to enjoy. Each variety has only 150 or 160 calories per 5.3 ounce cup, so you can stay on your diet as well!
When I opened my first cup, what I noticed right away about this yogurt is its very smooth, almost drinkable consistency. No stirring is needed because the fruit is thoroughly blended with the yogurt, to guarantee that the first spoonful tastes as sweet and tangy as the last.
Peaches are one of my favorite fruits, so I enjoyed this flavor every much. You can see little bits of peach on my spoon. Yummy.
The Vanilla AYO is just sweet enough, but also has the distinctive tangy flavor that tells you that you are eating real yogurt.
You can snack and work at the same time!
When you peel back the lid of the Blueberry AYO Almond Milk Yogurt, guess what you smell? Blueberries.
AYO would be perfect as an ingredient in variety of recipes for healthy shakes and desserts, but today I’m going share with you the most delicious Granola Yogurt Breakfast Popsicle recipe, which they call Gro-Yo Pops. The whole family will love these, as they are great for the summer months and make an easy, nutritious breakfast!
Gro-Yo Pops (Dairy-free, Plant-based, Farm to Freezer Popsicles)
Stir yogurt, berries, 2 teaspoons coconut oil and almond extract together in a medium bowl. Divide among six 3-ounce popsicle molds. Stir coconut flakes, and ground almonds and the remaining 2 teaspoons of coconut oil together in a small bowl. Top each popsicle with 1 tablespoon of the coconut almond mixture. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze overnight.
Visit This Link to learn more, to find a store near you that sells AYO, and to get money saving coupons to use towards your purchase!
Naturally sweet dried fruit paired with crunchy nuts is a popular, healthy snack combination that really cannot be improved on; but that doesn’t mean there aren’t innovative ways to change-up the presentation! Fruit Bliss Fruit & Nut Bites combine sweet, fiber-rich fruit and toasted nut pieces into bite-size squares that taste far more indulgent than you’d expect from a snack with zero artificial ingredients.
Don’t These Look Like Tiny, Nut-Studded, Chewy Brownies? Wait Until You Taste Them
Fruit Bliss Fruit Bites start out with only the the best organic fruits, sourced from global regions such as the Eastern Anatolian region of Turkey, or the Agen area of France — locales known for their high quality produce.
In the simplest way possible, Fruit Bliss has reinvented dried fruit snacking. While most dried fruit can be tough and hard to chew, Fruit Bliss snacks have a soft bite thanks to a steaming and rehydration process that adds water back into the fruit. The only three ingredients you’ll find in these Fruit Bites are fruit, nuts and water — no added sugars are needed because the fruit is naturally sweet from the sun-drying process!
Because they are dried by the sun, Fruit Bliss snacks are naturally darker in color than your typical dried fruit snack. Fruit Bliss skips the preservatives and chemicals that restore dried fruit to a bright color, and leave you with what matters most – pure and simple organic fruit.
Fruit Bliss Fruit Bites come in three varieties, Apricot with Dates and Hazelnuts, Fig with Dates and Hazelnuts (think: elevated Fig Newton), and Tart Cherry with Dates, Hazelnuts, and Cacao Nibs. The tiny bits of toasted hazelnuts also add a fresh crunch to the soft, chewy texture of the fruit, for a pleasing mouth feel.
The Tart Cherry and Cacao Nibs combination is my favorite, as it tastes like little tart cherry-infused chocolate brownies! Amazing! Chocolate lovers take note! All Fruit Bliss Fruit Bites snacks are packaged in environmentally sustainable, resealable pouches, so you can toss them in your purse or backpack for delicious, healthy snacking on-the-go!
Get more information about the full line of Fruit Bliss dried fruit products, and order online, at Fruit Bliss Dot Com!
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, like I do, then you know that the symptoms can really lay you low — especially when they can linger for weeks at a time. There are plenty of effective over the counter remedies, like antihistamines, cough suppressants and expectorants to help you get through the worst of it, but there are few factors to consider. Maybe you are someone who isn’t good with remembering to take your next dosage, or maybe you are conflicted about what you can take that won’t bring on unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness. Most importantly, you want to know that the ingredients in whatever remedies you choose to take are safe and as natural as possible. It’s a lot to deal with when all you want to do is feel well again.
Coincidentally, a week into my most recent onset of allergy symptoms, I was contacted by a representative of Dr. Loo’s Harmony Patches, which are an organic, all-natural treatment for the relief of coughs, colds and allergy symptoms. She asked if I’d be interested in trying out Dr. Loos Harmony Patches as I blew my nose for the millionth time that day “I am having an allergy attack right now!” I replied. “How soon can you get them to me?” She put a package in the mail to me and I had them two days later! I started using them immediately.
Dr. Loo’s Harmony Patches are transdermal patches containing herbs and organic, natural ingredients that you apply to your skin and leave on for up to 12 hours at a time. I received samples of two different varieties of cough, cold and allergy relief patches: one that treats Age 8 to Adult, and one for Mature Adults 50+ Years. For my first treatment, I applied five of the Age 8 to Adult patches as directed on the reverse of the packaging – 3 on my chest and 2 on my back – about an hour before bed time on a Friday, and slept with them on me. The patches seen above are about the thickness of a sheet of paper, and once they are on your skin, you do not feel them at all.
Information and Detailed Instructions Are Printed on the Back of Each Package
Although I had been waking up several times during the night with coughing fits for, say, the previous five nights, on this night I didn’t cough even once during my sleep. Once I was awake on Saturday morning and hit the twelve hour mark, I removed the patches, showered, and applied a fresh round of patches to my clean, dry skin. I wore those patches from noon until midnight. I only coughed a few times throughout the day; and when I did, the cough was much more productive than it had been. I felt much improved from the previous 24 hour,s to say the least. Bonus: I didn’t have to remember to take any pills or other oral medications!
Saturday night, I slept without any of the Dr. Loo’s Harmony Patches on me, but Sunday I decided to try the Mature Adult patches. These patches, seen in the photo directly above, are slightly thicker than the pink patches, and are therefore easier to apply, especially to your back area. Besides the visual difference in the color, shape and thickness of the patches, there is a difference in the adhesive, in that the Age 8 to Adult variety contains a small amount of acrylic, and the Mature Adult variety is recommend for anyone with sensitive skin. The propriety formula on both patches is identical, with the active ingredients being USDA organic ginger, chamomile, and fennel, with no alcohol sugar, bicarbonate or additives.
Because Harmony Patches are applied directly onto the areas of the body where symptoms originate, the ingredients are absorbed into your body immediately and can get to work right away to make you feel better. After using the patches for a few days my symptoms were great reduced and I was much more comfortable. I recommend them!
Dr. Loo’s Harmony Patches are also available to treat Tummy / Digestive Distress in both Children and Adults. Get more information about the Dr. Loo’s family of Harmony Patch products at This Link, and visit Amazon Dot Com to Purchase!
In case you wanted to know, February 27th is National Strawberry Day! The thing is, Strawberries are in the off season, so here are a few alternative ways that you can celebrate Oklahoma’s State Fruit:
1. Pick up a pouch of delicious YumEarth Organic Gluten Free Strawberry Licorice to get the taste of real strawberries with every bite.
There is no denying that Pasta is a popular go-to ingredient for creating quick, versatile and delicious meals to please any palate. For Pasta Lovers who may have had to eliminate this tasty staple from their diets due to a gluten intolerance, there are now many gluten-free pasta options on the market that make it possible for everyone to indulge. Explore Cuisine has a line of organic pastas made from beans and other plants that are a great place to start when you want to prepare a tasty, healthy meal for yourself or your family. Take a look at a few of the super quick and easy dinners that I’ve recently prepared for myself with Explore Cuisine Pastas and absolutely no advanced planning!
I bet that you had no idea that Edamame, familiar to most as the little green soybeans that everyone likes to nosh on before the meal at Japanese restaurants, can be use to make some of the most delicious pasta you will ever taste. Explore Cuisine makes a few different varieties of Edamame pasta, including everyone’s favorite; spaghetti.
Edamame Spaghetti can be used in all of your favorite recipes as a substitute for wheat-based pasta. You might find that you like it even better, and it’s good to know that Explore Cuisine’s Edamame Spaghetti contains nearly half of your daily protein and fiber requirements in just one serving!
I made an easy and scrumptious Primavera by adding frozen mixed vegetables that I had on hand, and tossing the pasta in butter, salt and pepper to taste.
Then I covered it with cheese, which is how I like my pasta!
Explore Cuisine also specializes in a line of Pulse Pastas; a term that may be unfamiliar to you. Pulses are part of the legume family, and the term ‘pulse’ refers to the dried seed. Dried peas, dried beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses. Pulses are very high in protein and fiber, antioxidants, and low in fat! This where Explore Cuisine’s Organic Chickpea Fusilli comes in.
Chickpea Fusilli is a healthy and delicious mealtime choice that contains only four organic, whole food ingredients. This pasta also contains 11g of protein and nearly 20% of your daily dietary fiber requirement per serving. With its soft and supple texture, and mild taste, Chickpea fans will be in Heaven!
Since this pasta is a bit more sturdy than the spaghetti, I topped it with Trader Joe’s frozen meatballs and jarred sauce. Delicious and satisfying!
Red Lentil Penne is also a pulse pasta. With the smooth texture of flour pasta and the benefits of lentils, the Red Lentil Penne is a fantastic choice for any penne based pasta dish. Comprised of only two ingredients, Red Lentil Penne pasta is protein rich and a good source of fiber. Organic, gluten-free and free of GMOs, it’s pasta reinvented!
Here is the penne topped with a light tomato vodka sauce and a dollop of creamy cottage cheese (you could also use Ricotta, if you had that on hand). Out of this world delish!
Explore Cuisine’s Italian style pastas were created in the Apulia region of Italy, which is famed for being the home of pasta. Explore Cuisine worked side by side with pasta masters and professional chefs to deliver the authentic taste and texture of the best Italian pasta but made with the goodness of chickpeas and lentils.
Learn more about Explore Cuisine foods, and get recipes, at This Link!
Do you like bread? I sure do, and I am fortunate to have no intolerance to wheat flour, so I can eat all the bread I want – yay! I recently met up with folks from Rudi’s Organic Bakery at an Editor Showcase press event here in the City, and they sent me four varieties of their delicious organic bread (pictured above, lounging comfortably on my duvet) to review for you on The Gig! Here are my findings.
Rudi’s 100% Whole Wheat Bread: See The Goodness
Rudi’s 100% Whole Wheat has cracked the code on cracked wheat bread! This classic bakery treat blends whole wheat flour with a hint of molasses: an old world recipe that’s become a modern favorite!
Do you like pasta? I sure do. One exciting thing about being a pasta fan is how innovative foodies and culinary experts alike are continually coming up with new recipes to make pasta a healthier, better-for-you meal choice, especially if you happen to be on a gluten free diet. At the recent Summer Fancy Food Show, I was introduced to Explore Cuisine pastas, which are made from variety of different kinds of organic beans. The folks at Explore Cuisine were kind enough to send me a couple of varieties to try at home, and happy to say that these pastas are fantastic!
Founded by Joe Spronz, Explore Cuisine products are vegan, organic, gluten-free, and kosher, ensuring your health and igniting your taste buds! These delicious bean pastas contain nearly 20-25 grams of protein per serving and are low in carbs and sodium while simultaneously containing a high fiber content. With Explore Cuisine, you’ll experience the incomparable taste of pasta with all the benefits of nutritious beans! I tried the Red Lentil Penne for dinner earlier this week, and it exceeded my expectations.
A friend of mine who is an excellent Italian chef once advised me that pasta cannot be held to strict boiling times when cooking, and experience has shown her advice to be right on. But with this pasta, the suggested cooking time (8-10 minutes) on the back of the box is a pretty accurate if you don’t want the pasta to get overdone (and I like my pasta on the tender side). Just keep an eye on the clock, is all I’m saying.
Here it is, all plated and topped with Trader Joe’s Bolognese Sauce and a grating of cheddar cheese, which I love on my pasta as a change-up from the traditional hard Italian cheeses. Explore Cuisine Red Lentil Pasta has a distinctive and very satisfying flavor of lentils. And, unlike many gluten free pastas I’ve tasted, it maintains an appealing bite and mouth feel. This pasta is an excellent quality product that anyone should be proud and excited to serve to their family.
Here is close-up of my quick and delicious meal! So yummy!
Learn more about Explore Cuisine foods (they also make rice-based pasta, and soups, among other items) and get recipes at This Link!
Among Friends Hand-Crafted Baking Mixes Introduced Three New Varieties at the Editor Showcase Health and Nutrition Event
It’s been a few weeks now since we attended the fantastic Editor Showcase Health and Nutrition event at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square — our first big food show coverage of the year! Health and Nutrition was all about showcasing brands that not only exemplify healthy eating and personal care, but also bring fun and convenience to the table. From fresh fruit and supplements to baking mixes and beverages, let’s check out some of our favorite brands and new products!
Among Friends gluten-free, hand-crafted baking mixes introduced three new mixes: Cora’s Honey Cornbread (a savory selection), Papa Toms Perfect Pancake (made with wholegrain sorghum flour, almond meal and hint of cinnamon), and Alec’s Awesomely Fudgy Brownie (seen above) — which goes from bag to baked in under 30 minutes! Homemade without the hassle! Find out more about the Among Friends product line at Among Friends Baking Mixes Dot Com !
Wonderful Halos brand easy-to-peel Mandarin Oranges are perfect snacking for the spring and summer weather. At Editor Showcase, these tiny, sweet and juicy fruits were part of a delicious Mandarin Chia Pudding Parfait that we all had the chance to taste and enjoy.
This low calorie dessert is made with assorted fresh fruits, coconut, pistachios and chia seeds – very healthy! Get this and other delicious and easy recipes, and find out more about Wonderful Halos at Halos Fun Dot Com!
Its always nice to get reacquainted with our friends at Saffron Road and check out their new products. Featured wholesome snacks include new Baked Lentil Chips and certified Halal Lentil Crackers, organic Crunchy Chickpeas and Bean Stalks crunchy snacks, which come in a variety of popular flavors like Cheddar Cheese and BBQ.
Saffron Road is also a leader in gourmet frozen entrees featuring the cuisine of India, South America and Asia. Learn more about this fine brand at Saffron Road Food Dot Com.
Sara Lee, a brand you know and trust for decades now, has a new Artesano Bread, which brings an indulgent quality to every sandwich on which it is made.
Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Made with Sara Lee Artesano Bread
For those who enjoy the texture and soft golden crust of white bread, but also appreciate the heartiness and flavor of an Italian bakery bread, Artesano strikes a favorable balance. We think that Sara Lee Artisan-style Bread really elevates a grilled cheese sandwich, and would be ideal for making delicious French toast! Visit Sara Lee Bread Dot Com for recipes more information!
Frozen fruit juice treats are ideal for cooling off in the warmer summer months, and if they can be all-natural, even better! Whole Fruit Organic Juice Tubes are a new line of convenient, on-the-go snacks made with 90% organic juice! Similar to the “push-up” treats enjoyed from the neighborhood ice cream truck, each tube is fat free, only 60 calories and 100% delicious!
These treats are great for an after-school snack as well! Get the skinny on the Whole Fruit product line at This Link!
Another trusted and favorite brand that’s staying on-trend is Ocean Spray, who has introduced its PACt Cranberry Extract Water. Unlike most extracts, which remove and utilize only the flavoring component, the cranberry experts an Ocean Spray have found a way to extract and preserve the unique, health-promoting elements inside the cranberry, which are called called PACs (proanthocyanidins). PACt extract offers more than flavor; it offers the unique cleanse and purifying health benefits of the cranberry. PACt is currently available nationwide and also on Amazon.com. Visit This Linkfor more information!
Dave’s Killer Bread is a superior quality line of organic wholegrain breads that we were first introduced to in 2014, at another food show. The company, which is family owned, has a fascinating backstory that you can check out at This Link.
At Editor Showcase, Dave’s Killer Bread was promoting their White Bread Done Right, created from an ‘old family recipe,’ made with quinoa, rye, spelt, millet and barley, and the absence of high fructose corn syrup or bleached flour. All varieties of Dave’s Bread have a moistness combined with a nutty, wholegrain texture that is just irresistible. Explore the world of Dave’s Killer Bread at This Link!
To get you really excited for summer, Boulder Canyon introduces Backyard BBQ, three new flavors of their premium kettle cooked potato chips, each inspired by one of our favorite summer foods! We personally taste-tested the Peach Cobbler, Grilled Brats and Sweet Corn kettle chips, and can attest that these crispy, super flavorful chips are a delightful treat that taste remarkably like what they are meant to! These chips should be available in stores closer to summer. Keep an eye out for their arrival at Boulder Canyon Foods Dot Com!
Crunch Pak is the industry leader in fresh sliced apples. Founded in 2000, Crunch Pak is committed to providing the highest quality organic and conventional sliced apples in the market. Their products include Foodles, in a Mickey Mouse-shaped packaging, which contain healthy snacks such as sweet apple slices, cheese, pretzels or other fruits or vegetable combinations — a great take-along snack for kids!
The US Blueberry Council was also on hand to educate us on our Blueberry Basics, such as how to buy, properly store, and freeze fresh blueberries — all things that you need to know! They made a tasty Blueberry and Grains Salad to share as well!
And last, but not least, we must give a shout out to Natrol, makers of fine Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements. At Editor Showcase, they were promoting three of their most popular products: Melatonin (a natural, drug-free nighttime sleep aid), Biotin (promoting healthy hair and strong nails — we take it every day!), and 5-HTP, a natural drug-free mood enhancer that also helps control appetite.
Natrol gave out a fantastic swag bag containing full-size samples of all three supplements, plus a ton of cool travel accessories including a nail care kit, pill box, comfy slipper socks and a sleep mask. So awesome! Visit Natrol Dot Com for more information on their complete line of products!
Here at The Gig, we have previously given enthusiastic reviews to Applegate Meat Products, which are delicious. So, it was nice to see Applegate again at the recent Snack Attack edition of the Editor Showcase at the Marriott Marquis, where Applegate introduced their new Half Time Lunch Box for Kids.
Half Time is similar in concept to the Lunchables product line, but the ingredients in Half Time are all natural, organic, and antibiotic-free with no preservatives added. Plus, there are jokes and games for kids to play written on the inside of the box. We left Editor Showcase with samples of both the Bologna and Cheese and the Turkey and Cheese Half Time varieties and brought them home for review.
Half Time is obviously designed with kids in mind, but I have no kids, so I took the Bologna and Cheese Half Time box with me to the office the other day and I had a little picnic at my desk. Fun!
This Half Time box contained 5 slices of Applegate Natural Bologna, 5 Slices of Applegate American cheese, 5 Annie’s Buttery Rich crackers, an Annie’s Organic Berry Patch Fruit Snacks and a strawberry Stonyfield Organic YoKids Squeezers yogurt. Here are all of the contents laid out and ready for me to put on a plate.
All of the little plastic packages peel open easily so you do not need scissors or a knife to open anything, making this safe for kids if they are getting their lunch ready on their own. Also, a plate is not necessary, as the box can certainly serve as a plate-thing, but I did find that a couple of napkins came in handy, as the bologna is packed in a small amount of water. I also dressed my little cracker sandwiches up with a bit of mustard and mayo that I had in my desk drawer. Fancy!
I would like to say that I enjoyed my Half Time Lunch very much. All ingredients are of exceptional quality and flavor and the little rabbit shaped fruit snacks reminded me of Gummy candy, which everyone loves. Also, the strawberry yogurt was delicious and very fun to eat from a tube.
Applegate’s Half Time (SRP $4.99) will be in stores in time for Back to School! Find out more about what makes Half Time a great lunch choice at This Link!