Dec 1, 2016

December Degustabox Review

Once again, I can't believe it's already a new month - but I'm thrilled, because it's my favorite month! Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday and so all of December and the holiday season is my favorite time.

Everyone is cheerful and tries a bit harder to be kind. The streets twinkle with bright lights and cheerful decorations. And the air is full of the intoxicating scent of holiday flavors!

I can't wait to get started on my annual Christmastime baking madness, but in the interim, I was really excited to open this month's Degustabox. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know Degustabox is a subscription service that delivers a big box full of full-sized new foods (10-15 of them) to its subscribers. I was hoping for a box full of Christmas-themed and holiday-flavored delights, plus a few things to cook holiday dinner party entrees and sides with or bake Christmas cookies with! 

Here's what I found in the box:

December Degustabox Unboxing

To start, there were no overtly Christmassy products. That was a tiny bit disappointing for me, because I love Advent Calendars, Spekulatias cookies, holiday spiced things, and dark chocolate peppermint bark. But it was probably a decision on their part to honor that not all their customers celebrate Christmas and I respect that. Especially since the products they included can all definitely be used for Christmassy things!

To start:

Wise White Cheddar Popcorn is gluten free, whole grain, air popped, and a smart snacking choice for holiday parties! The season is full of holiday parties and snacks are a must, but it's nice to keep them on the healthier side, so that we don't get sluggish and bloated as the season progresses. These are a happy medium between carrot sticks and greasy chips!

No holiday season is complete without baking, but not everyone is a baker.

These Pillsbury mixes are easy enough for everyone and I like that they're a little more natural - no colors, preservatives, or artificial flavors! That doesn't mean, of course, that buttercream frosted white cake is healthy, but it can be part of a healthy diet. 

It's great that you can use them to make cupcakes, too. It's perfect for non-bakers who want to bake something sweet to bring to a holiday party or the last day of school before break!

If you really can't be trusted in the kitchen (or don't have the time or desire to bake) you're also covered.

Chips Ahoy! Cinnamon Sugar Thins are a new crunchy cookie from our long-beloved Chips Ahoy! They're cinnamony, with delicious white chocolate chips studding them throughout, and are a great thing to bring along to a holiday party. Perfect for when you're invited to a holiday party at the last minute!

If your crowd isn't into sweets, try these whole grain crackers:

Good Thins Oat & Flax are natural crackers where whole grains are the first ingredient! They're low in sugar, free of partially hydrogenated oils (surprisingly common in salty snacks) and free of high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.

Top them with peanut butter and a chocolate kiss, cream cheese with cranberry jam, hard cheese and cucumber, etc. for an easy party snack. They're also great plain!

If you're looking for a jam for your crackers, look no further.

Smucker's new Fruit & Honey jams, which feature fruit sweetened naturally with honey, are another delicious inclusion in this month's Degustabox. The Strawberry Jalapeno jam is delicious and I love the spicy kick!

I also love that they're sweetened with honey instead of sugar and colored with vegetable juice instead of artificial dyes.

When you're out and about, buying Christmas presents, you'll need some sustenance.

Kala Beans are high in protein - they're roasted fava beans with seasoning and they're delicious!

The Kala Beans are my hands-down favorite in this month's Degustabox.

Speaking of holiday gifts, the Loacker cookies make great gifts for foodies!

That is, if you can bear to part with them. The Coconut flavor is my favorite - creamy milk chocolate and a rich coconut filling layered with crispy cookies!

But what if all the parties, overlapping with the seasonal stress and the fact that it's flu season, end with you in bed with a sore throat?

Ricola lozenges are my favorite when I'm feeling off. I love that they're natural, I love their less-medicinal taste, and I love that these honey herb lozenges do more than just fight your current sore throat - they also support your immune system and help fight against fatigue, so you feel better going forward. It's the perfect offense and defense pairing!

I also always love honey when I'm under the weather.

Honey Acres Honey Straws come in more flavors than I knew honey could come in! I love that they're easy and clean to open - just pinch and pop, no smeary, sticky lids - and perfectly portioned for a sweet pick-me-up or to squeeze into a cup of tea!

And finally, because girl can't live on sweets and holiday cheer alone, there's an Urbane Grain Ancient Grain Blend ready-cup in every Degustabox this month!

I got Beef Burgundy, which is a three-minute pasta and protein meal that you can prepare in just three minutes with a microwave. So easy and convenient!

What are your favorite holiday treats? 

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season?

Nov 29, 2016

New Detour Simple Bar Review: Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Almond!

There's a new Detour Simple bar flavor and it's chocolatey, nutty, and delicious!

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Almond sound delicious and the bars don't disappoint! They're sweet and taste like candy, but their nutrition stats are quite different.

With 20g of protein, no gluten, no GMOs, and only 4g of sugar, it's the fittest candy bar you'll find. 

I like that a protein blend is the first ingredient, as it should be in a protein bar, but the list is a little long for my liking. The nutritional stats are great, but with these bars that comes at the sacrifice of all 'whole foods' ingredients. That said, the nutritional stats are still great, the bars are a better replacement for a traditional chocolate bar, and overall they get a thumbs up!

The chocolate coating is creamy and delicious and chocolatey with no weird artificial sweetener aftertaste.

The inside is chewy, like a thick layer of nougat topped with perfectly crunchy almond and a bit of caramel. I don't distinctly taste the sea salt out of the bar, but I wouldn't change a thing about the flavor. They're delicious! They're a great snack and even, in a pinch, a tasty lunch when paired with greek yogurt and a banana.

Have you tried the new Detour Simple bars?

What are your favorite protein bars?

Nov 26, 2016

How to Celebrate the First Advent

The first Advent is already this Sunday, November 27!

On years like this one, when Advent comes early, it always feels like we go straight from feasting on turkey and pecan pie to going full-on Christmas. I'm not complaining!

I've always celebrated Advent and loved it. It was an especially big deal to my mom, because she's German and the Germans do Adventszeit right. The thing that first comes to mind for me about Advent is the Adventskranz!

My mom always made ours herself, but you can buy them if you don't have much time or aren't so crafty. It's traditionally a wreath with four candles - one for each Sunday of Advent. One candle stands for hope, one for love, one for joy, and one for peace. You light one candle each Sunday and try to live that virtue even more that day!

By Jasmine

So tomorrow, the first Sunday of Advent, is all about honoring hope. People who celebrate (as I plan to again this year, after having the lowest key Christmas ever last year) will light a candle (traditionally purple, thought white, gold, and red are also common) - the Candle of Hope, also known as the Candle of Prophecy.

© Living, Learning, Eating, AllRightsReserved.

Designed by Danai