Whole Foods has Valentine’s Day covered

Like always, Valentine's Day has snuck up on me and here it is just a few days away. But, this year, I'm not worried at all because I've got Whole Foods to help me get everything in one quick and easy trip. With everything from fresh flowers and gourmet chocolate to aisles and aisles of gourmet foods begging to be cooked up for a special Valentine, Whole Foods really does have you covered.
Chocolate at Whole Foods

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The Ninja Ultima Blender + can make anyone a pro in the kitchen

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'Tis the season of baking, cooking, and entertaining.

While some years I might dread the holidays and how much time is spent in the kitchen, this year I’m actually looking forward to it. Ever since this bad boy arrived, I’ve been looking for any excuse to whip up anything homemade.

Readers, meet the Ninja Ultima Blender. Ninja, meet readers.
The Ninja Ultima Blender
I’m sure you can see from the picture that this is no ordinary blender that merely makes smoothies and mixed drinks. This is a professional model that can do oh so much more than a drink station – this is an amazing kitchen tool that can make anyone a pro in the kitchen.

Ninja Ulttima Blender package

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Keep your tablet safe during holiday baking season with AT&T

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Holiday Baking with AT&T

Remember when we used to use cookbooks to cook? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but those days are fading fast. These days, I get my recipes from Pinterest, from other bloggers, and from recipe sites – very rarely do I crack open a cookbook.

These days I leave my tablet or laptop on the dining room table and simply memorize the recipe in small pieces while I gather ingredients and cook so it’s safely out of my work zone.

In case you’re wondering, this isn’t the best idea for a forgetful cook who also has very distracting “helpers”. There have been many times I’ve transposed numbers or doubted myself enough to check the same ingredient over and over again because I got sidetracked.

But, not anymore. Now I’ve got this little guy to help me in the kitchen.

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Read moreKeep your tablet safe during holiday baking season with AT&T

The Zaycon Foods experience

Enough people have asked me about my Zaycon Foods experience this fall that I thought I would share it here so you can see how the whole thing works.

Missed my first post and don't know what Zaycon is? Here's what you need to know:

Zaycon Foods is a fairly new company started here in Washington State two years ago as a Zayconfoodsmeans of offering natural, hormone free meats at bulk prices all across the US.Instead of traditional delivery services, Zaycon calls itself a “drive thru” meat market that allows you to order online and then pick up during one of their many events across the US in a matter of minutes – no unloading kids or searching through the grocery store to find the best deals.

Now that you have a bit of background, here's my Zaycon story:

  1. We placed an order with Zaycon for 40lbs of chicken to be delivered in October.
  2. I cleared out freezer space like a mad woman in preparation of 40LBS OF CHICKEN. My family dined on some crazy meals in my clearing spree.
  3. A few days before the chicken event near us, I got reminder emails so I wouldn’t accidentally miss it.
  4. The day of the chicken event, I drove my car to the church where the event was taking place where there were maybe 2 cars in line in front of me. In about 3 minutes I was talking with the Zaycon reps, confirming my delivery, and then accepting my chicken, which came boxed and covered in plastic sheeting to contain any juices that may seep out of the internal packages. I never even got out of the car, and my kids stayed buckled.
  5. Within 5 minutes of arriving, I was leaving the parking lot with my order. That's roughly 10x faster than any grocery store trip with two kids if anyone is wondering.
  6. I drove home and began a 2 hour process in which I packaged the chicken into smaller portions, cleaned up after myself, and then I split the chicken packages in between the fridge and two freezers to store them. All in all, I washed my hands over 50 times in this process because I am absolutely crazy about raw meat – especially chicken.

Zaycon Chicken
The only part that I did not like about the process was the last step, as 2 hours is far too long to be dealing with raw meat. If I had to do it all over again {and I definitely will}, I will make sure I have someone here to help me with the chicken once I get it home. If one person had the designated clean hands and the other handled the raw meat, this process would have taken about ¼ of the time as most of the 2 hours was honestly spent scrubbing my hands in between tasks.

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Maestro Dobel Tequila for the holidays

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During my teens and early twenties, I used to stress about the perfect birthday presents for friends and siblings. But, after age 21, nearly all birthday presents were given in drinks or shots at the bar and gift giving was as easy as hanging out with friends. Then, at some point in the past few years, a few drinks at the bar was replaced with full bottles of the good stuff and we would just swing into a liquor store on the way to celebrate birthdays so we didn’t have to show up empty-handed.

See, growing up isn’t all bad.

Now that I’m coming up on birthday season for our group of friends as well as the holiday season, I know that I can make it as easy or as complicated as I would like. I could go around store to store looking for something for the friends that have everything, or I could do a one-stop shop and grab a few bottles of Maestro Dobel Tequilano stressing and no wrapping required.

Dobel Tequila bottle

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Enjoy a hot lunch anywhere with Lava Lunch

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I’ve become quite the expert lunch packer in the past 6 years. I have my method down to an exact science to make sure everyone always has a healthy lunch with all the food groups in it.

My planning starts on Sunday when I wash fruits and veggies, prep cheese and yogurt, and place each into reusable containers in the drawer of our fridge, as well as pre-portion items from the pantry for every day of the week. Then, on the morning of, I’ve got ice packs, a container in the fridge for each family member, and loads of insulated totes at the ready to make lunches only take a few seconds.

But, sometimes those lovingly packed lunches come back to me just exactly as I sent them because hubby or the kids was offered a hot lunch instead. Not that I blame them, there’s something really satisfying about a nice, hot lunch. If I’m being truly honest, I prefer hot over cold lunch any day of the week, especially during the winter.

In fact, I’ve even attempted to send hot lunch once or twice… and, unfortunately, haven’t succeeded yet. So, when I read about Lava Lunch, I was immediately excited about the idea of hot lunch on the go.

Lava Lunch logo
Melissa Zimberg, the owner of Lava Lunch, explained that in addition to just being nice on a cold and rainy day, hot foods are also more nutrient dense, have more flavonoids, and are easier to digest. She also described how hot food signals the satiated response sooner, so it also prevents overeating, which makes a lot of sense.

Lava Lunch makes sending a hot and hearty lunch possible without worry of spoiled food or cold and tasteless food. Instead of ice packs, Lave Lunch offers you something not available in other lunch bags – warmth. By combining proprietary insulation and Lava Rocks that provide additional heat, Lava Lunch bags can keep food warm for up to 6 hours, which allows you to pack all sorts of healthy and flavorful foods that were never possible until now.

Lava Lunch photo

Read moreEnjoy a hot lunch anywhere with Lava Lunch

Gift giving made easy with Uncorked Ventures

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More and more of us have friends that are far away these days and I find I’m often sending gift baskets long distances to celebrate weddings, birthdays, and big events. The problem with this is that you usually need to handpick the items yourself, package them in a way that looks beautiful but still ships well, and then pay huge postage fees on top of the cost of the gift itself.

Or, you could go with an Uncorked Ventures gift basket and let them do all the work for you while you accept all the thanks. With collections specifically for chocolate lovers, those who love to cook, and wine lovers, it’s easy to find that perfect set for even the hardest to buy for. 

Uncorked ventures wine gift baskets

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Who doesn’t want an Honestly Good meal in just minutes?

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Lean Cuisine, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #HonestlyGood #ad http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO.

Back when I had a corporate job, I brought lunch almost every single day. Some days lunch was just what I grabbed as I was running out the door, and some days it was leftovers and lovingly made lunches.

But, the days I really looked forward to were my Lean Cuisine hot lunches, which always felt like a special treat. I would find myself craving Lean Cuisine meals and would even *gasp* opt out of restaurant meals in favor of my favorite meal: Lean Cuisine Pizza


Lean Cuisine Pizza
In addition to being delicious, these Lean Cuisine lunches taught me a lot about portion control and the idea of "not hungry" vs. "stuffed". They ended up being a great tool for me back then and even on the days I ended up eating out or we ordered in, I had trained myself to stop eating when I hit the point I wasn't hungry anymore instead of eating everything I was served.

But, while my days of corporate office life are behind me now, and these days I work from home right next to a fully stocked kitchen, I feel like I need Lean Cuisine meals more than ever. Sitting next to kitchen with a full refrigerator and pantry tricks you into thinking that you will prepare gourmet lunches every afternoon and that you will be able to eat better than ever before, but that hasn’t been the case for me. Instead, I find I’m more rushed than ever with two kids, a job, and a website to run, so lunches for me almost always take a back seat.

This typically means that I skip breakfast most days, graze throughout lunch, and then am starving when dinner rolls around. Even though I’ve made an effort to make healthy choices, I haven’t eaten foods that fill me up enough or feel like a meal. This means I tend to snack in the afternoon and eat more at dinner, which takes a toll after a working at home for 5 years now.

When I heard about the Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals debuting this year, I decided I needed to make Lean Cuisine part of my weekly meal plan again. With gourmet choices such as Plum Ginger Grain-Crusted Fish and Pomegranate Chicken, I knew I had found a great solution for enjoying a hot lunch in my busy day.


Honestly Good at Target

Read moreWho doesn’t want an Honestly Good meal in just minutes?

Udi’s gluten free foods for morning, noon, and night {review}



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Udis selection
Chances
are you know someone who has gone gluten free, whether it is celiac disease or simply because they feel better without gluten in their diet. My mom and aunt went gluten free back in 2010 and since that time I have met more people than I can count who also made the switch.

For this reason, I always try and keep some gluten free foods on hand when I know I might be entertaining guests with dietary concerns and I always choose Udi's Bakery. With so many gluten free selections ranging from breads and rolls to pizza and tortillas as well as desserts and cookies, Udi's really does have most of the foods I normally serve as well as some decadent treats that we all love.

For instance, this jelly toast, which was supposed to be gluten free peanut butter and jelly toast until someone omitted the PB. Hello, dessert.


Welch's jelly on toast

Read moreUdi’s gluten free foods for morning, noon, and night {review}