Saturday, February 21, 2015

Review: Integrity Botanicals

I'm a sucker for great design and remarkable customer service. So I have to share a quick story of my shopping experience with IntegrityBotanicals

Things they are doing right:
1. Instant delivery of coupon code for signing up for their newsletter.
2. Very well curated product selection.
3. Free samples with every order.
4. Gorgeous design and usability.
5. Responsive on social media.
6. Free shipping with minimum order.
7. High quality products at fair prices.
8. Fast shipping.
9. Careful packing with branded materials.
10. Hand-written note and coupon with order.

I was able to try a few Lurk and Strange Invisible scents, as well as a lip stain and Acure argan oil. I bought 100% Pure body wash, W3ll People lip gloss, skinnyskinny dry shampoo and Theodent chocolate toothpaste for the kids.

Excited to try everything and will definitely order again from Integrity Botanicals.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: Metropolitan Gourmet Gluten-Free Garlic Croutons

My first review following two whirlwind days at EXPO East comes from a company I didn't set out to see. So glad I stopped to chat.

My go-to healthy dinner used to be a chicken Caesar salad but when I went gluten-free, I found myself missing the crunch. And fell out of the habit. 

Among the gems at the show, I found my way to Metropolitan Gourmet, purveyors of gluten-free croutons and bread crumbs. Jerry kindly gave me a sample of their new garlic croutons and a box to take home. 

I must really have been missing croutons in my life. After an eight-hour day on my feet and a 90-minute drive home, I took one look at a piece of grilled chicken left over from the kids' dinner and chopped up a chicken Caesar salad...because I had croutons! 

Metropolitan Gourmet Garlic Gluten-Free Croutons
Chicken caesar salad with Metropolitan Gourmet Gluten-Free Garlic Croutons.
I always have Parmesan cheese on hand but it was lucky that my favorite yogurt-based Caesar dressing and fresh romaine also happened to be in my fridge. Voilá! 

It was delicious. MG's GF croutons were fresh, crunchy, flavorful and just the right size (thankfully not those giant ones that don't easily break and are too big to eat politely). 

In addition to being gluten-free and non-GMO certified, the products are soy-free, corn-free, dairy-free and egg-free. Their goal is simple ingredients and great taste. Mission accomplished. 

I'm looking forward to baking with the bread crumbs and trying Metropolitan Gourmet croutons to make GF stuffing for the holidays. Yum!

You can purchase them on their website under the Retail tab. Check out the recipes while you're there, too!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Natural Products EXPO East is this week!

Last year was the first year I attended Natural Products EXPO East and I was unprepared for the scope of brands I'd get to meet. I didn't even plan a full day there! This year, I am booked for two full days, so I can take my time and see all the new products launching as well as see companies I love.

I came home with a huge bag of goodies last year and ended up not doing too many reviews, due to switching jobs and to being very choosy about what I recommend. (I see no reason to do negative reviews unless a company is being negligent or intentionally dodgy.)

I'm armed with a list this year. Very excited to connect with like-minded people and introduce my readers to healthy, delicious options. 

Be back next week!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: EVOL Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese (GF) — Ah-mazing.

evol gluten free smoked gouda mac & cheeseAdmit it, sometimes you need to grab food that is pre-made. All the best planning in the world cannot predict life's little surprises (or laziness). My friends, I have a great option for you. I mean, that is if you eat dairy and love small doses of comfort food.

I spied EVOL Smoked Gouda Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese at Target in the frozen aisle and just had to try it. I am a complete sucker for mac and cheese. And making it from scratch with GF pasta is a crapshoot. It seems that most pasta I try ends up with a less-than-ideal consistency. 

Now, by the LOVE of EVOL (see that?), I can pop a single-serving of bliss into the microwave (or oven if you prefer) and 4 minutes later have a quick meal. A cheesy, tasty, perfect lunch or snack. 

Here's how they describe it on their site: "Gluten-free elbow noodles, caramelized onions and chives—All combined with an insanely tasty smoked gouda cheese sauce." Accurate.

Like bacon? You're in luck. They make Gluten-Free Uncured Bacon Mac & Cheese touted as "Gluten-free elbow noodles, crispy uncured bacon and peas—All combined with an insanely tasty cheddar cheese sauce." Again, deliciously on the mark.

This company is pretty evidenced by their mission statement: 

Try some of their frozen entrees, quesadillas, pastas, burritos...and come back to tell me if you're as in evol as I am!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Oh, Kraft, You're So Fake!

Today, I once again promised myself I would blog more. So, naturally, I looked to see if I had any posts drafted that I could publish now, before starting a fresh one. 

Lo and behold I came across a blast from the past—2009 to be exact—detailed how I had written a letter to Kraft asking them why they were willing to reformulate their products to healthier specifications in the E.U. but continued to sell their artificial, chemical version of Macaroni & Cheese to U.S. consumers. I finally got a reply [again, back in 2009] as follows:

Dear Valued Consumer,
We received your recent e-mail about our Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

We completely understand that as a parent, nothing is more important than your family's health and well-being. That is one reason Kraft Foods is so dedicated to making the safety and quality of our products our top priority.

So that is why we follow the guidelines of government agencies that are responsible for the safety of our food. In the United States, Kraft Foods only uses ingredients that have been recognized as safe for food use in accordance with U.S. Food & Drug Administration regulations. We will continue to use the current ingredients, which are recognized as safe.

Our products around the globe are different to reflect local preferences and tastes. Yet we use the same standards to select ingredients, always putting safety first.

We know some people prefer products made without artificial ingredients so we now offer more choices. For products with no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors, you might want to consider Kraft Organic Macaroni & Cheese in White Cheddar or some of the Macaroni & Cheese dinner options in our Back to Nature line. We hope you'll give them - and some of our other Back to Nature products - a try.

Just so you know, our Macaroni & Cheese products are sold primarily in the United States and Canada. Although we have a variation of pasta and cheese products in Scotland/northern England and Australia, neither has made any changes to their recipe since 2006.

Thank you for sharing your concerns. Your views on our products are very important to us and we take them to heart.

Associate Director, Consumer Relations

Kim McMiller

My 2009 draft concluded with this musing:

While I absolutely appreciate that Kraft at least (1) responded and (2) gave lip service to thinking about the safety of the ingredients its using, I cannot believe for ONE MINUTE that Kraft really believes that the U.S. Government standards are appropriate benchmark to be using. They are profit-driven and looking to suck as much money out of consumers as possible with no regard whatsoever for the health and well-being of those who purchase or consume their foods. This situation is not entirely their fault, though, since the U.S. government in all its wisdom has decided to subsidize unhealthy things like corn and wheat, making them cheap and desirable for Big Food to use. 


Today, FIVE YEARS LATER, Food Babe (if you're not following her, you really should be), through a petition, pressured Kraft so much that they gave in and promised to remove artificial dyes from SOME of their US products. 

That is a good start. If you want more details, here you go: