Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Foodie PenPal

I am excited to share with you my Foodie PenPal recap.  Let me thank Lindsay for getting all of us paired up and for hosting the link party.

I sent a box to Molly over at Hungry, Hungry Runner if you would like to see what I sent.

However today I want to talk about what I received, from Rachel (who is a reader not a blogger).

Rachel, like myself, is named Rachel and a vegetarian.

She graciously sent me a wonderful box filled with these delectable goodies:

I love getting Trader Joe goodies since I don't have one near me (always such interesting things to choose from there).  So the raisin rosemary crisps and mango slices were a nice surprise and very delectable.

She included one of my favorite post gym snacks, Larabar.  I didn't even get a nibble as my son Andrew made off with it.  Such is life with kids.

Rachel also included several single serve packets of peanut butter, which I love to put in my lunch for work.

The "piece de resistance" however was the salsa. 

I am a HUGE fan of things spicy and this hot salsa certainly hit the spot.

Thanks so much Rachel for your wonderful package.

Be sure to head over to The Lean Green Bean to see what everyone else received.

Do you think you would like to join the Foodie Penpal program?  If so here is an explanation and contact information for Lindsay.

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:
-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

For February this fantastic program will be open to US AND Canadian residents.

If you would like to join be sure to e-mail Lindsay theleangreenbean@gmail.com by February 4th.

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's GIVEAWAY time again :)

A little bit of business first before I start into today's post.

The winner of my Progresso Soup giveaway is:  Candace.  I will be sending you an e-mail to get your shipping information.  If I don't hear back I will have to make another selection (which would just be sad...I don't want anyone to miss out).

I want to talk today about Larabar.

I am guessing for many of you this isn't a new snack, but for me it is one of my favorites.

These delicious whole food bars never leave you guessing as to what the ingredient list means.  For example on the Carrot Cake bar the ingredients are:

Unsweetened coconut
Coconut oil

In addition to the ingredients being easy to read the bars are: gluten free, kosher, raw, and suitable for those who follow a vegan/vegetarian diet.


I was lucky enough to have Larabar allow me to sample some flavors which I haven't had before.

Ginger Snap
Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte
Tropical Fruit Tart
Carrot Cake

Sometimes you see these bars on the shelf and wonder to yourself (hopefully in your head and not outloud as people tend to stare) if the flavors are true to their name.  I am here to tell you that at least with these 6 flavors they are spot on.

Cappuccino is a brand new flavor and tastes exactly like the coffee drink.  So that is either a warning (for non-coffee lovers) or an endorsement (for coffee-aholics).  I found the flavor to be a bit strong for me and was the only one I didn't totally fall in love with. 

I surprised myself and completely, and a little too quickly, devoured the Tropical Fruit Tart.  The delicious dried pineapple really made this one a winner.  And on a chilly day it brought thoughts of summer to my mind :)

Ginger snap, Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte, Jocolat, and Carrot Cake were all good enough to have as desserts. 

Do you have a favorite Larabar flavor?

If not do you have a flavor you have been dying to try?

Well you can have your chance.

Larabar is offering one of my lucky readers a mix box of 16 bars.

What do you need to do to win?

Well I am glad you asked.

It is super simple, just comment below answering my question from above (this is mandatory).

For extra entries you can do the following (and just leave me a comment saying you did it).

* Like My Naturally Frugal Family on Facebook
*Follow me on Twitter
*Follow my blog (I am so close to 100...I promise another giveaway once I reach 100).

This giveaway is open to US readers only (I apologize to my international audience) and will be open until Wednesday February 1st at 11:59 pm.  I will announce the winner in my post on Thursday February 2nd.

Best of luck to you all!

Another shameless plug, if you have a chance (and inclination) please vote for me as one of the Top 25 Vegetarian/Vegan Mom Blogs at Circle of Moms.  You can vote once a day!  Please feel free to share with your friends.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Make a Conscious Effort

I make an effort to buy foods that are organic and items that are sustainably produced.

But did you know there is a company out there that will mail you a box monthly filled with eco-friendly treats?

They are Conscious Box!

I opened the package to reveal this pleasingly wrapped box:

Let me tell you none of the packing went to waste and Caroline was very quick to take the tie and make it into a headband.

Now on to the good stuff.

I opened my box of goodies and WHOA Nelly!  It was packed to the brim:

Like a clown car I kept pulling more and more and more stuff out.  In the end these were the goodies I received:

I was very excited to see the Raw Rev bar in there because I have been wanting to try them forever.  But what was also nice is that it wasn't all food. 

There was hand sanitizer from Clean Well and compostable knives, forks, and spoons (perfect for picnics or BBQ).

This was really a great way for me to have my eyes opened and see what lovely products are out there and sample them before buying full size versions.

I know you want to know what the cost is...am I right?  The box is $19 a month, which at that price is a great gift for that someone special on Valentine's Day (unless you are Jenn of Peas and Crayons and you boycott Valentine's Day).

Conscious Box has a wonderful mission statement on their site and basically they let you know that they've handpicked the items and they are:

dedicated to introducing you to the most ethical, sustainable, and honest businesses that create the purest products available. We scour the marketplace to find those that stand above the rest. Discovery defines the Conscious Box experience.

I will say that I was COMPLETELY satisfied with items in it and feel that the price is adequate for such variety and quality items.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday.

If you haven't done so already please be sure to enter my giveaway, here, that ends tonight.

Also if you get a chance, and feel so led, please consider voting for my blog as one of the Top 25 Vegetarian/Vegan Mom Blogs on Circle of Moms.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WIAW The New Addition

Well things have been a little crazy at my house.

See we have a new little addition that weighs in at 8 lbs.

Nope not a baby, and I know my mom just breathed a sign of relief.

Having 3 kids people tend to think you are a little crazy and get a little anxious when you say new addition.

I am proud to say that our newest family member has 4 legs and if just the cutest Yorkshire Terrier Mix.

We taught the kids what "irony" means and named this little fella Zeus.

We got him from a rescue, Cedar Farms, from Mocksville NC (which yes is out in the middle of nowhere).

However it was completely worth it because the dog immediately took to Andrew (who is 4) and he hasn't left my childrens side since.

Now let me move on to the food, because really that is why we are all here.

Quick shoot out to our lovely host Jenn from Peas and Crayons who weekly hosts us at her blog (if only she would host us at her lovely house) to share the food we've eaten for a day.

Here are my foods from Tuesday.

I have to say breakfast has started out one too many times like this for me, Mediterranean egg white sandwich from Panera (I might be a little obsessed, but seriously the tomatoes on this are DELICIOUS)

Lunch was eaten at my favorite spot, Lucky 32, where I had eggplant creole and a side of mashed potatoes.  AAAA-Mazing!

Dinner I failed to capture a picture, and I apologize for that, but I had vegetable noodle soup made from scratch by my loving husband.

It was a very delicious day of eats but one that I can't repeat often (too many calories)...but small indulges are not a bad thing.

Be sure, if you haven't already, to enter my Progresso soup contest here that I have going on.  A winner will be announced on Friday's post.

Also, and I hate to overload you with information, if you would be so inclined I am in the running at Circle of Moms for Top 25 Vegetarian/Vegan Mom Blog.  If you would like to give me a vote you can do so daily until February 14th.  You can click the link on the left hand side of my blog or go here.

I hope you all have a wonderful day and have a chance to visit Peas and Crayons to see what the other lovely bloggers have had to eat.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Progresso Souper You

Are you like hundreds thousands of people who decided that 2012 would be the year that you lose some weight?

I didn't make a resolution when the ball dropped, but I have decided that I need to drop a few extra pounds and in 3 weeks I have lost 7 lbs (slow and steady).

Today I bring to you a contest opportunity from Progresso:
  • This year, the Souper You® Contest will provide three lucky winners with an ultimate makeover experience in Hollywood; this includes a trip for 2 to Los Angeles, California where the winner will receive a head-to-toe makeover including hair and makeup, guided shopping spree with a $1,000 fashion retailer gift card, $1,000 spending money and 2 tickets to this season’s live finale of NBC’s The Biggest Loser
  • Progresso is asking fans to visit www.SouperYou.com and submit their photo with a brief essay about why they love Progresso soups and why they deserve a makeover, by no later than February 22nd
  • Fans can check back on March 12th for the announcement of the top ten finalists, and to vote for their favorite finalist until March 25th
  • In addition, visit http://bit.ly/ProgressoCoup  to download a printable coupon for $1.25 off the purchase of four (4) cans of Progresso Soup today, and feel free to share with your blog readers so they can take advantage of the savings as well
  • Also, tune into The Biggest Loser on NBC Tuesdays at 8/7c
Here is a video of the 2011 winner and their experience:

I think having an opportunity to meet Bob Harper is all the motivation I need to get moving and enter.

I understand we can't all win the big prize so there is a prize pack I would like offer to one lucky reader which will include the items pictured below:

2 coupons for Progresso Soup
1 copy of the Biggest Loser workout DVD

So how do you enter to win?

Simply do #1 for a mandatory entry and then you can comment on #2-4 for extra entries:

1) Leave a comment and tell me which Progresso soups you would try?  Or tell me how much you love Bob (this is mainly for Kristen over at Stuftmama)?
2) Follow my blog (or tell me that you already do)...I am so close to 100 followers (this makes me very excited).
3) Follow me on Twitter @rachelkyle0402 (or tell me that you already do)
4) Follow me on Facebook (or tell me that you already do)

The giveaway will be open until midnight EST Thursday the 26th.  I will announce the winner in Friday's post on the 27th.

Best of luck to you all and I hope you have a wonderful day.

Disclosure:  The Progresso® Souper You® prize pack, information, coupon, and giveaway have been provided by Progresso through MyBlogSpark

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gluten Free and Vegan Cookies...YUM!

King Arthur Flour is the only flour I use in my house.  I buy their unbleached all purpose flour like it is going out of style (usually several bags at a time).  I have found, through trial and error (plenty of error), that they produce a superior product and one that I can count on over any other brand.

And so when I was given an opportunity by King Arthur Flour to review their gluten free cookie mix I jumped at the chance.

To make these fit my dietary lifestyle I made them vegan as well.

You know what?

You can't even tell by looking at them.

The mix is a brown sugar cookie base, so the options are limitless as to what add-ins you choose.

For me when I think cookie...chocolate is the first thing to pop into my mind, but I thought I would throw some cranberries in there as well just to liven it up.

The only adjustments I made to the directions for the mix were:

Earth Balance for butter
Ener-g Egg replacer for eggs

The cookies came out so soft.  Even 5 days later (yes I too was amazed they lasted this long) they were still soft and fresh tasting.

One very nice feature of the King Arthur website is that they list if each of the mixes can be made with egg substitutes.  Really helpful information for someone like myself.  I would hate to buy a mix and find out that it was less than stellar in the taste department because the ingredients can't be substituted.

Did you know that not only does King Arthur sell flour and fabulous mixes but they also provide these fabulous services and initiatives:

·         Get step-by-step instructions for your most delicious baking through our Baking Banter blog or one of over 2,000 free recipes online
·         Learn more about our flours, our commitment to quality, and why you get so much more with King Arthur Flour
·         Attend a baking class or demo here in Norwich or on the road
·         Find out how to bring the free Life Skills Bread Baking Program to middle-school students in your community
·         Get help with all your baking challenges from the experts on our Baking Hotline
·         Join our online community, The Baking Circle
·         Learn more about our Social Responsibility efforts, employee-ownership, and the farmers who grow our wheat
·         Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
·         Sign up for special offers through our e-newsletter

I love that there are so many resources and it just goes to show that they care about their consumers and want you to succeed at whatever you baking endeavor is.

I am generally not one for mixes, as I really do enjoy getting in the kitchen and creating it myself, however the quality that King Arthur turns out makes it just as good as homemade.

Have you tried any of their mixes/flours/products?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Improv Challenge Vegan Lemon Cake with Sour Cream Icing

This is Improv Challenge number 2 for me.  Thanks so much to Kristen for hosting us all here.

The ingredients this month were lemon and sour cream.

I could not have been happier with these two because as soon as I heard them I knew I wanted to make cake.

Not just any ordinary cake but vegan lemon cake with sour cream icing (yes they do make vegan sour cream).

This is just a simple, single layer, cake with mild lemon flavor.  Perfect with a cup of hot tea, or coffee.


1 lemon (juice and rind)
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 C sugar
1 tsp baking soda
6 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

In bowl place your flour, sugar, and baking soda.  Then mix together.

In a measuring cup put the grated rind of your lemon, juice of the lemon, and then fill the measuring cup up with water to reach the 1 C mark.

Pour into dry ingredients and then add your oil, vinegar, and vanilla.

Mix thoroughly and place in an ungreased cake pan (I used a spring form pan, but you could also use an 8" square).

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

If you double the recipe you could make a layer cake.

Sour Cream Icing:

4 Tbsp Earth Balance (softened)
1/2 C vegan sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
2 3/4 - 3 C powdered sugar

Mix all of the ingredients and then ice the cooled cake.

You should start out with about 2 3/4 C sugar but if you want it thicker just add a little more.  I ended up using about 3 cups because I wanted a thicker consistency.

The end result was delicious and approved by 3 out of 3 children.

The cake is incredibly moist and could stand on its own as a quick bread, but the icing just adds a little yum factor.

Here have a slice!

Be sure to check out the other tasty creations my fellow bloggers have put together with lemon and sour cream.

I hope you have a wonderful Thursday.

Improv Challenge

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WIAW Happy Birthday!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WIAW...you are officially 1 year old.  What an exciting day and thank you Jenn for bringing us into this wonderful mix so that we can peep at what each other eats (even if it is just one days worth).

We will have to virtually share this delicious cake

Now onto the eats!

Well this is Monday for me.

The day started off with my kids begging me to take them to Panera (no school and no work on account of the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday). 

I am not a hard sell as I absolutely love that place and they know it...so they manipulate me easily.

For breakfast I had the new Mediterranean egg white sandwich

This was incredibly filling which meant I needed no morning snack and I barely had lunch when I ate half of this peanut butter and strawberry preserve sandwich.

Dinner rocked!

I am just going to say it because I am super proud of the creation I put on the table.  Spinach and artichoke stuffed phyllo with a side of ravoili.

It was delicious, healthy, vegan, and easy to make.  Who knew phyllo could be easy to work with.

I posted the recipe yesterday (here) so if you too would like to enjoy this please help yourself.

All in all I was very pleased with my eats and I hope you will visit Jenn over at her blog Peas and Crayons to see what other fine bloggers have eaten.

Did you eat anything this week that knocked your socks off?  For me it was stuffed phyllo.

Be sure to come back tomorrow as I have a rockin' new dessert for you all...and I promise it is pure deliciousness.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Phyllo

Happy Tuesday to one and all.

I am happy to report that I am back on the blogging track and intend to put up posts everyday.

It is amazing how much the holidays mess you up and can get you off track.

Well now that I am back in the kitchen I decided today I wanted to share with you all what I made for dinner last night.

Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Phyllo

This was my first time working with phyllo and I have to say I loved it.

I have avoided it in the past because I thought it was too fragile or hard to work with.

Suprisingly it is very forgiving, but yes it is still fragile.

To make this yummy side item you will need the following ingredients:

1 can artichoke hearts (drained and rinsed)
5 mushrooms (I used button and baby portabello)
5 cloves of garlic minced
3 C spinach
1 can garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
juice from 1/2 of lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/3 olive oil for smoothness
phyllo dough

I put all of the ingredients, except the phyllo dough, into my Vita-Mix and blended until smooth (which leaves you with a pretty tasty hummus on its own).

Take 1 sheet of phyllo brush it lightly with olive oil then repeat.

Place a 3rd sheet of phyllo on top but do not brush with oil instead smear with spinach spread.

Fold one length towards the center:

Then fold opposite side:

Roll up and place on a cookie sheet with a parchment paper liner:

Brush tops and sides with olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees.

You are left with a yummy, veggie filled, treat.

I hope you all have a very happy Tuesday and I will be back tomorrow to celebrate 1 year of What I Ate Wednesday with Jenn.

What have you cooked lately that was outside of the box for you?
Have you ever used phyllo?

Nap-Time Creations

Monday, January 16, 2012

Wholesome Sweeteners - Raw Honey

I was given an opportunity by Wholesome Sweeteners to try their organic raw honey.

Oh my this stuff is so amazing, compared to regular honey.

When you open the jar just look at that amber goodness:

It is so thick and creamy, with a delicious mild honey taste.

Now you may be asking yourself how do they ensure that their honey is organic?

Check out Wholesome's site here and they explain who the beekeepers are (in Mexico and Brazil).  They discuss the fair trade price, how the honey is kept organic, and how they process RAW honey.

It is absolutely fascinating to see all that goes on and how our purchase of fair trade products support communities that we would most likely never have the opportunity to come into contact with.

So now that I have this amber deliciousness what did I do with it?

Well I made these:

These are gorgeous raw mini vanilla bean cupcakes.

I got the recipe from this fantastic raw dessert cookbook.

I mean look at this awesome cupcake (this is on Caroline's wish list for her birthday in May):

The honey mixed in so easily with the other raw ingredients and it really added a richness to the texture.

I put a little surprise in my cupcakes:

A little bit of strawberry freezer jam to make these extra special.

Believe me just 1 mini cupcake is enough.  The nutrients packed into the cupcake make you fuller quicker, thus requiring less dessert.

If you need recipe suggestions for your raw honey, or other sweetener, Wholesome has a section of their website dedicated to them here.

What would you make with raw honey?

I hope you all have a wonderful Monday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now that my kids are back at school I have to start making lunches again.

I love that my kids have returned to their routine, but I sure did love not having to make lunches everyday.

That being said I did want them to have a little something special, and homemade, as a treat.

I try to stay away from sending them to school with chocolate, so I searched through the ingredients in my house and found Craisins.

Lo and behold on the bag was a recipe for Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip cookies.

2/3 cup Earth Balance
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 flax eggs or egg replacers
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 5-ounce package Ocean Spray® Craisins® Original Dried Cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.
I made my cookies small so this produced 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

For those of you who might have started a weight loss program with the new year these are worth 1 point each.

Be sure to enter my giveaway here if you haven't already!!!

What sort of treats do you like to pack in your child, or spouses, lunches?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Blog Spark Giveaway - Frosted Toast Crunch

I was given the opportunity through My Blog Spark to try Frosted Toast Crunch from General Mills.

This is a new cereal from the same people that bring you Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

I was given a cool little prize pack along with a box of cereal:

  • Spilt milk bowl

  • Lickety spoon (which has a rubber handle...pretty cool)

  • Frosted pitcher

  • Frosted Toast Crunch cereal

  • My kids thought this prize pack was just the coolest.

    Now the cereal is artificially sweetened, and I don't typically eat food that is, but I tasted this and it reminded me of toasted marshmallows (which I happen to enjoy).

    Now how would you like to win your own prize pack with the above items in it?

    I will keep the contest open until this Friday (the 13th) at Midnight and will contact the winner to get your shipping and phone number.