Thursday, March 26, 2015

Giveaway: GoodBelly

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own. 

With spring holiday meals and early summer barbecues, it's tempting to overeat, which means our bellies may be in need of a little TLC! GoodBelly is a line of probiotic drinks that can help balance digestion after rich food and drinks. GoodBelly juices are packed with probiotics and good-for-you plants, fruits, and vegetables. They are non-GMO, dairy-free, soy-free and vegan, made with the well-researched probiotic strain, LP299V to give you the digestive helpers you need! Drink straight out of the carton, blend into your favorite smoothie for a festive morning treat, or save it for a next-day reboot. 

I had a chance to try some out. I loved tropical orange and cranberry watermelon. My kids really liked them too!

Right now there's a 12 Day Belly Reboot - guaranteed that you'll love it or your money back. You can find details on the website. I also have a chance to give one lucky reader 3 VIP product vouchers to complete a 12 Day Belly Reboot. To enter, leave a comment with what flavor you most want to try. Deadline is March 31st.

Mealtime Magic: Mediterranean Seafood Salad


With the Lenten season upon us, many may seek to turn to fast food and dining out to avoid eating meat on Fridays. This year, why not try this simple at-home recipe that won’t break your diet, or the bank?

Kontos Foods has crafted a Mediterranean Seafood Salad recipe that can be served on a pita to make sticking to your Lenten commitment a little bit easier. This recipe is a healthy alternative to pizza or fried food and, if you know you’ll be in a rush, you can make it ahead of time for a quick and easy Friday night preparation.
  


Mediterranean Seafood Salad on a Pita
Ingredients:
Vegetable (such as eggplant or zucchini)


Mushrooms
Scallops or Shrimp
Olive Oil
Medium Onion, chopped
Garlic cloves, more or less to taste
Salt & pepper
Cooked couscous (or cooked rice)
Kontos Pita or Flatbread

Preparation:

  1. Cut up vegetables into small cubes.  Slice the mushrooms.
  2. If using shrimp, peel, de-vein, and cut into small cubes.
  3. In a small amount of olive oil, sauté the onion and the garlic until the onion is soft, but not quite transparent.
  4. Add the vegetables and mushrooms.  Sauté until they are almost soft.  Taste and add salt, pepper, and whatever spices suit you (i.e., oregano, basil or crushed red pepper).
  5. Add the scallops or shrimp and cook until just done, about a two or three-minutes. Scallops will turn opaque and shrimp will turn pink. Do NOT overcook.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add the cooked couscous and mix thoroughly.    
Place on warmed Kontos Flatbread and fold over (you may also add chopped tomato) and serve cold.

Variation:
As an appetizer – cut the warmed Kontos Flatbread into wedges, top with the salad, and serve.

“This recipe is great for Lent because you can transform it to suit any occasion, or satisfy any craving, without disrupting Lenten guidelines,” said Steve Kontos, vice president of Kontos Foods. “You have the freedom to serve it as an appetizer, or an entrée, or to substitute your favorite seafood or vegetable, without sacrificing great taste.”

About Kontos Foods
Founded in 1987, Kontos Foods, Inc. is a Paterson, NJ-based provider of traditional Mediterranean foods for restaurants, hotels, food service, retail specialty stores and supermarkets worldwide. The family-owned company specializes in hand-stretched flatbreads, including the Kontos Pocket-Less Pita®, Fillo dough, pastries, olives, gyro meats, and Greek yogurts, as well as nearly 50 varieties of multi-ethnic flatbreads. Kontos has over 225 employees and was founded by Evripides (Evris) Kontos together with his son Steven, who together bring over 100 years’ experience in the premium food industry. To learn more, visit www.kontos.com, or call (973) 278-2800.
 

Consumer Critique: If I Was A Bird...What Kind Of Flock Would I Fly With?

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

I recently got a chance to read If I was a Bird...What Kind of Flock Would I Fly With? by Peter Sacco. This is a cute book that really packs a lot in to its pages! Kids learn about types of birds, symbolism behind birds, and relationship tips that can help prevent bullying and other negative peer behaviors.

My girls both enjoyed the book, although my younger one (5) didn't have the patience to sit through the whole thing. My older one (7) has loved spouting off the facts she's learned.

If I Was A Bird will be printed in five different languages to benefit children’s programs at the Center For Abuse Awareness, an organization highlighting the true cost of neglect and abuse, and supporting abuse-related organizations in the U.S. and Canada, including children’s services, victims services, shelters and other agencies that deal with children, women and men whose lives have been affected by abuse.

Peter is the author of many popular international books and more than 700 magazine articles. He has received the Award of Excellence in Teaching and lectures at universities in both the U.S. and Canada. He currently hosts a weekly radio show, “Matters of the Mind” which features celebrities with whom he discusses mental health, relationship and addiction issues. He is also an award-winning executive producer and host of documentaries on relationships, psychological issues and children’s issues. 

Consumer Critique: Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Daily Refreshingly Clean Cleansing Cloths

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

I recently had a chance to try out Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Daily Refreshingly Clean
Cleansing Cloths. These cloths are designed for gently lifting makeup from your skin. I don't wear makeup, but these cloths were great for my husband and myself. He has sensitive skin, and these didn't irritate them at all. Witch hazel and aloe are ingredients that are great for your skin, to help moisturize and clean your skin. It also helps relieve mild itching, in my experience with my girls - when they have a mild rash from a bug bite or other irritation, the cooling and refreshing feelings from the cloth help it feel better. Plus, the pack is perfect to take along on trips when you may not be able to use your regular skincare routine, like camping or travel.

A pack of 25 cloths is $6.99 at Walgreens and select Walmart stores.

Area Attractions: SeaWorld Camps™ Orlando

Summer is right around the corner and SeaWorld Camps™ are returning to offer educational, fun and exciting encounters for kids of all ages. The camps include up-close experiences with marine animals designed to encourage a lifelong passion for wildlife and the environment.
 

Campers are immersed in the wonders of the sea through up-close animal discoveries, exclusive behind-the-scenes opportunities and amazing attractions, rides and shows. The opportunities campers receive are unequaled – first-hand experiences with veterinarians, animal trainers and animal care staff.  SeaWorld Camps not only allow children to surround themselves with aquatic life and education, but they also make friends, have fun, explore the great outdoors, ride world-class coasters and create lifelong memories.

 

SeaWorld Camps offer a learning environment that fosters exploration, inquiry, self-discovery and self-esteem with two offerings: traditional Day Camps and “sleep-away” Resident Camps.
 


SeaWorld Camps in Orlando:
 
·         Day Camps: During their particular week at SeaWorld Camp, participants learn about a variety of animals, including whales, dolphins, penguins and sea lions. Campers will focus on a different animal each day and learn about them through songs, take-home arts and crafts, as well as by talking with the zoological staff. Day Camps are offered for children going into preschool through 8th grade. Lunch, snacks, a camp T-shirt and water bottle are included.  
 
·         Resident Camps:  Make it a summer to remember for students going into 7-12th grade with a Career Camp. Campers experience what it takes to train and work with marine animals and have the opportunity to touch a penguin, snorkel in a shark cage, work with the animal care staff and create an enriching environment for the animals at SeaWorld. Plus, participants have the opportunity to spend a day at Discovery Cove® swimming with dolphins, snorkeling with tropical fish and rays, and feeding exotic birds in a free-flight aviary.  Resident Camp fees include all camp activities, lodging onsite at SeaWorld® and at SeaWorld’s partner hotel for five nights, plus all meals and snacks. Supervision and guidance is provided 24 hours a day for the entire duration.  Many campers fly in from around the country – these campers are picked up at the Orlando International Airport by the dedicated camp staff and brought to SeaWorld to start their camp experience.

For nearly 25 years, SeaWorld has provided safe, fun and educational camp experiences for kids of all ages in the not-so-traditional setting of a world-class theme park. In the last 10 years, more than 250,000 youth have attended a SeaWorld and Busch Gardens® Camp.
 
For more information, visit SeaWorldCamps.com/Orlando or call 1-800-406-2244.

About SeaWorld CampsTM

SeaWorld Camps are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA), a nationally recognized association focused on health, safety and program quality. ACA assists the public to choose camps and works to preserve, promote and improve the camp experience.  



A study by the American Camp Association (ACA) revealed that over 90 percent of campers felt their summer camp experience made them feel good about themselves and helped them make new friends. 70 percent of parents said that summer camp improved their child’s self-confidence.


 
About SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) is a leading theme park and entertainment company delivering personal, interactive and educational experiences that blend imagination with nature and enable its customers to celebrate, connect with and care for the natural world we share. The Company owns or licenses a portfolio of globally recognized brands including SeaWorld®, Shamu® and Busch Gardens®. Over its more than 50-year history, the Company has built a diversified portfolio of 11 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection of approximately 89,000 marine and terrestrial animals. The Company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.
 
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The Company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The Company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld rescue team has helped more than 24,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.
 
Copies of this and other news releases as well as additional information about SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. can be obtained online at www.seaworldentertainment.com. Shareholders and prospective investors can also register to automatically receive the Company's press releases, SEC filings and other notices by e-mail by registering at that website.

Healthy Habits: Alzheimer's Caregivers

More than 15.5 million Americans (family members and friends) provide unpaid care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. Women make up 65% percent of caregivers for people with these illnesses, putting them at the center of the growing Alzheimer’s crisis. Kailen Rosenberg is known as the "Love Architect" and an expert on unconditional love. She is the author of Real Love, Right Now. I had a chance to interview her and Betsy Broyles Arnold, who was caregiver for her mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

  
About Kailen Rosenberg: 
Known as “Love Architect” Kailen Rosenberg is more than just a matchmaker but a teacher of “love on a higher level.” She’s been featured as a regular guest on more than 400 print, online, radio and television interviews, including the Today Show, Good Moring America, Cosmopolitan, Men’s Fitness, Marie Claire, Redbook, Self, Oprah.com, the Oprah Winfrey Network, BBC Worldwide, E4, The Huffington Post, and more. 
About Betsy Broyles Arnold
Betsy is the daughter of football icon Coach Frank Broyles who, along with her twin sister, Linda, became the primary caregiver to their mother, Barbara, who lost her battle with Alzheimer’s in 2004.  That experience led her -- together with her sister and father -- to create The Frank and Barbara Broyles Foundation to help families and caregivers who are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mealtime Magic: New Food Trends

Disclosure: I received complimentary products as a thank-you for this post. All opinions are my own.

Cub® Foods recently polled Minnesota’s foodie elite to gather their insights on what hot, on-trend foods and cooking techniques will rise to prominence and please palates throughout the North Star state in 2015. According to local food experts, the trend toward fresh, local and organic foods with “clean” ingredient lists is expected to continue to gain traction and become more mainstream this year. In what may be a surprising — and mildly controversial — prediction, they also say we’ll be eating less bacon, America’s favorite all-purpose pork product, and fewer doughnuts in 2015.
 
Here’s a sampling of some of the food trends local experts predict for 2015:

·       Hometown Favorites. Demand for natural and locally sourced foods shows no sign of slowing. Food experts predict that Minnesotans will seek even more responsibly sourced foods from local farms and growers.

·       Call of the Wild. Home cooks will increasingly embrace their inner caveman and cavewoman with high protein meals flush with grass-fed meats, seafood, nuts and fresh produce. As an offshoot of this, grass-fed beef and bison, and wild game such as venison, rabbit and duck will become more common features at the dining table.

·       It’s All About Those Veggies. Local food experts expect people to make a conscious effort to eat more fruits and veggies in 2015. Cauliflower, avocados and grapefruit will be hot, and look for Minnesotans to try more hybrid vegetables like broccoflower and discover little-known gems such as jicama.
 
·       Ancient Grains Continue Historic Run. While it may be hard to pronounce quinoa (KEEN-wah), this small but mighty grain packs a powerful punch of protein that is great for a side dish and in salads. Local experts predict lesser-known ancient grains — such as millet, freekeh, farro and amaranth — will be competing with quinoa for dinner plate real estate this year.

·       Hotdishes Are Hot! The beloved Minnesota comfort food will get a modern makeover as home chefs customize recipes and lighten them up with new, better-for-you ingredients and global flavors. These dishes are easy to make and ensure plenty of leftovers. Sriracha-Honey Tater Tot Hotdish anyone?

·       The Party Is at Our House. 2015 will be the “Year of the Dinner Party,” according to Minnesota food experts. Minnesotans will start experimenting with larger dinner parties and regular “supper clubs.” These events, however, will likely be more informal with a focus on smaller servings, comfort foods and great variety.

·       We Like It Hot. No, Really. Minnesotans might have a reputation for being spice adverse, but food experts see the demand for hot and spicy flavors heating up.

·       South of the Border. Latin American food will join Mexican as among Minnesotans’ favorite ethnic options in 2015. And according to one local food expert, it’s time to “Watch for Cuban.” Consumers also will seek out more Middle Eastern and Moroccan foods as their interest in dishes with unique spices and strong flavors continues to grow.

·       Move over Bacon. While there will always be a place for bacon in many beloved dishes, food experts say the nation’s borderline-obsessive love affair with the pork product is cooling to a more manageable level. It will still appear at breakfast, lunch and dinner, but bacon-infused everything will fall out of favor.

·       Sayonara Soda! Minnesotans will be drinking less of the sugary stuff and their “diet” counterparts this year. Instead they may discover drinks like Kombucha, a popular drink made with fermented tea and shrubs, and nonalcoholic fruit punches made with fruit vinegars. Once popular in Victorian times, these unexpected beverages are seeing a resurgence in popularity.

·       Home Grown. The trend toward healthier eating will inspire more Minnesotans to grow their own food at home or in a community garden. Experts also predict that pickling, canning and preserving will increase in popularity among home chefs in 2015.

·       Craft Craze. In another nod to all-things-local, Minnesotans will be drinking more local, craft beers, craft spirits, wines and local soda brands in 2015.

About Cub Foods
Cub Foods offers customers the freshest produce, widest selection and food expertise throughout the store to meet their everyday grocery needs. In addition to innovative local, ethnic and organic food sections, Cub stores offer shoppers multiple in-store services including fresh bakery, full-service deli and meat departments, pharmacy and banking. Cub Foods, based in Stillwater, Minn., was established in 1968 as one of the nation’s first discount grocery stores. Cub was purchased in 1980 by SUPERVALU (NYSE: SVU) and currently operates 67 stores in Minnesota and Illinois. For company news and information, follow us on Twitter at @CubFoods and Facebook at www.facebook.com/Cub, or visit our website at cub.com.

Consumer Critique: Worthy Brown's Daughter

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

Note: This review was previously published, and is being re-published due to the release in paperback this week.

Worthy Brown's Daughter is a historical legal thriller - a genre I didn't even knew existed. There's drama and intrigue, a realistic look at how law was practiced in Oregon over a hundred years ago, romance, and more. I really enjoyed the book as a whole. There were several subplots going on at once, all of which were wrapped up in a realistic, albeit sometimes saddening, way. Characters are sufficiently developed to make them believable, and the time period was clearly well-researched. The book is thirty years in the making, so I'm glad it's finally been published!

Shopping Savings: Club Fondue at Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc

In celebration of National Cheese Fondue Day on April 11, 2015, The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc., the world’s premier fondue restaurant franchise, is bringing back its highly-coveted free cheese fondue offer for its Club Fondue members April 6 – 9, as a part of the brand’s sixth annual National Cheese Fondue Day celebration.
“National Cheese Fondue Day is a real food holiday that some cheese lovers never knew they always wanted to celebrate,” said Mike Lester, president, The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc. “We’re doing our part at The Melting Pot to draw attention to the cheesy goodness of the holiday with our free cheese fondue offer. It’s the perfect opportunity for us to show our valued guests just how much we appreciate them as well as introduce new guests to the deliciousness of cheese fondue.”
Fondue fanatics must join Club Fondue, The Melting Pot’s email club by March 30 to gain access to the free cheese fondue offer. New and existing U.S. Club Fondue members who sign up by March 30 will receive an email between April 1 and April 3 with instructions for how to redeem this year’s free cheese fondue offer, valid April 6 – 9. Phone reservations are required to redeem the National Cheese Fondue Day offer with a limited number of free cheese fondue reservations available. The offer is only available for redemption at U.S. locations. Some restrictions apply.
The Melting Pot’s cheese fondue course is valued at around $8 – 9 per person (prices vary by location) and the communal fondue dining experience allows for up to four individual portions of cheese fondue to be shared in one fondue pot. Each cheese fondue is served with artisan bread and seasonal vegetables for dipping. Cheese fondue varieties include cheddar, classic Alpine, spinach artichoke and more.
About The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc.
Founded in 1975,
The Melting Pot has offered a unique dining experience for 40 years. With more than 130 restaurants in North America and more than 20 international locations in development, The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc., is the premier fondue restaurant and a leading polished casual dining franchise. Known for offering a choice of fondue cooking styles and a variety of unique entrées, The Melting Pot’s menu also features cheese fondues, salads, fine wines and chocolate fondue desserts. The Melting Pot is also home to Club Fondue, an exclusive membership program that hosts promotions from special events to advanced holiday reservation privileges. The Melting Pot is an affiliate of Front Burner Brands, a restaurant management company headquartered in Tampa, Fla. For more information, visit www.meltingpot.com. To learn more about franchise opportunities with The Melting Pot, please visit www.meltingpotfranchise.com.

Website Spotlight: DKfindout! (and Giveaway)

Last month, publishers DK launched an innovative online resource called DKfindout! - a global education website for children, parents and teachers. DK currently publishes a lot of educational books that are fun for kids too - my children have loved every DK book they've gotten their hands on!
 
The site is primarily aimed at children aged 7-11, but will appeal to those near the age range as well. It's a free site and can be used as a reference tool both in the classroom and at home.

DKfindout! is a safe, age appropriate online environment for children. Written with expertise, the visual and audio enhancements are great. There are even quizzes to help kids check what they've learned. The site is optimized for desktop, tablet, and mobile, and has activities that reach a variety of learning styles.The site has been tested by children, teachers, and parents, and it's still in Beta phase, meaning it's under improvement as they receive feedback. 
 
For a site in Beta, it's very much functional. My 7-year-old loves space, and she would have browsed the site for hours if I had let her! She's looked at it for most of her allotted computer time for three days in a row. My 5-year-old also enjoys the visuals and animations, although she can't read well enough for anything that's text-heavy.
 
To celebrate the launch, I have a chance to give away a DKFindOut tote bag. To enter, leave a comment with what your kid most wants to use the site to learn. Deadline is March 30th.