Monday, July 30, 2012

Mom's Meet: Almond Breeze Almondmilk Product Review

Saturday evening was our first Mom's Meet, I think it went pretty well. Like me it wasn't very organized, but we tried some milks and nibbled on food, some people stayed for a cookout after which made for a very nice evening.  

We sampled four different Almond Breeze Milks; Original, Vanilla, Almond Coconut and Almond Coconut Unsweetened.  We tasted and talked about which we liked, which we didn't and why.  Once we were done we filled out a questionnaire that reflected the majority.

Taste was the biggest attribute that we judged by, followed by texture.  It was agreed that the Vanilla had the best taste out of the flavors tried. The Original came in second. We were also in agreement that the Almond Coconut had an unpleasant taste, but it worked really well in the recipes that I made.  So for cooking purposes it was great.  We all agreed that we don't know if we would have a big glass of any of the milks, but then again non of us seemed to drink big glasses of cows milk either (at least those who I asked). So here is a quick break down of the four we tried, in order of best to worse:

1. Vanilla Flavor
2. Original
3. Almond Coconut
4. Unsweetened Almond Coconut

Side note: I didn't pickup the chocolate flavor because they didn't have it our local grocery store, but we all thought the chocolate flavor would probably be really good. I may have to pick up a carton just to try.

As for me, personally, I would and may continue to by the original or vanilla for myself.  It was much cheaper at Trader Joe's then it was at my local grocery store.  Those were I only two stores I priced out, and were almost a dollar different.

The recipes...both were good.  The chicken was really good, even my husband and son enjoyed it. The muffins, I thought could use less almond extract, but were good.

Coconut Cherry Muffins
(from Almond Breeze Almondmilk Coconutmilk Blend Recipe Collection)

1 cup Almond Breeze Vanilla Almondmilk Coconutmilk
½ cup cherry preserves
3 tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. almond extract (Next time I would use half of this, it was a little too strong for my tastes)
1 egg
2 cups prepared GF baking mix (I used Gluten Free Bisquick)
2/3 cup shredded coconut
½ cup sugar
½ cup dried cherries
Chopped Blue Diamond Oven Roasted Almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 400*F and spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper wrappers. Whisk together Almond Breeze, preserves, butter, extract and egg in a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon into prepared muffin cups (they will be very full) and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Coconut Curry Chicken
(from Almond Breeze Almondmilk Coconutmilk Blend Recipe Collection)

1 cup Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almondmilk Coconutmilk
1/2 cup minced onion
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. sesame oil
1-1/2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
4 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (I may use more next time)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 lbs. thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Cilantro leaves and sesame seeds for garnish, optional

Place Almond Breeze, onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, curry, red pepper and garlic in a gallon-size zip top bag; squeeze gently to mix. Add chicken and seal well. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Grill or broil for about 5 minutes on each side or until nicely charred and cooked through. Sprinkle with cilantro and sesame seeds, if desired.

You can find more recipes on the Almond Breeze website, here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Adventures in Training (Kinda) #8 - June/July

So I have seriously slacking, not only on posting my training notes but my training itself.  With only 4 weeks left until race day.  I can honestly say my outlook and goals have changed a bit. 

A couple months ago I was excited, or at least it seemed, about training for the triathlon in August but now it is a chore and I am not looking forward to workouts and frankly if it wasn't for my sisters I would probably just say screw it. I am finding out that you need to enjoy training and I just don't, it causes me too much stress and takes me away from other things that make me happy. I will continue to grin and bear it, make it across the finish line with my adrenaline pumping, but I will probably not do it again. It has not only been the training for the upcoming tri but just the whole weight loss journey. I am glad I have lost weight, and yes I would like to keep it off and even lose a little more, but it all comes down to what makes me happy. I don't want give up family time, time in my studio, or even stuff I just want to do around the house. I have given all of these things up, some more than others (I refuse to lose too much family time!), to workout/train.

The last few times I have gone to swim the pool has be closed, either to weather or filtration issues. The biking, well I have gone out a couple times but not nearly enough.  And currently, I did something to my back and it had been killing me, I can't remember the last time I had so much pain. Ugh! (I am too old to do a slip-n-slide.)  Not to mention with changing my workouts to the evenings, and being busy at work there have been days that I have skipped working out because of working late.

I plan on swimming and biking still, like it or not. I do enjoy these things in a leisurely fashion, just not when they cause me stress (eg. training). There are other things that I would much rather do. (And one other thing...I am tired of people who do triathlons all the time telling me it is easy and I will do fine even when they don't know me or my abilities. And dammit, if I need to get my ass off the bike to walk up some god forsaken hill I will!)

So my goal is to finish; standing (maybe hunched over) with no injuries. Plain and simple, I don't have a time I want to beat or hit. 

Side note...I would be biking today if I didn't have to work late but that is what happens when you have a kid who doesn't feel well and it just takes a little longer to get going in the morning. Now back to work...

(I have to be honest, everything I have done to date has surprised the hell out of me, and I am sure everyone else who knows me too.)


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ice Painting - another cooling outdoor activity

It is hot and my son wants to play outside; we set up the pool, slip-n-slide and filled the water guns but he wants to do more. I made ice paint earlier in the week so it seemed like the perfect thing to bring out.

My ice paint was simply, washable tempera* paint mixed with water then frozen. You could use ice cube trays or in my case I used my silicone Beaba baby food storage trays. I am sure you could also just add food coloring to water if you don’t have any tempera paint but it may stain. Make sure to use NON-TOXIC paint, if your child is anything like mine, the ice is sure to get licked or sucked and even used all over their body at some point during the use.

Each of the wells in my tray holds 2 oz. or 1/4 cup, so I added 1 tablespoon paint then filled it with water (leaving a little room at the top) and carefully mixed to combine. It is OK if some of the paint settles; it will just make for a more vibrant color when painting.

Lay out paper, and go at it. My son enjoyed rolling the paint across the paper. I would recommend finger paint paper or something thicker than just regular printing paper. Since the paint is mostly water the paper will get soggy pretty quick. I had a piece of mylar that I put out, the water puddled up instead of leaking through, which also made for some splashing. When you are finished, and if there is any paint left, simply refreeze to use later.

Beaba Baby Food Freezer Mold

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Moms Meet - Sampling for a healthier family

A few months ago, while sitting in the doctor’s office, I picked up Kiwi Magazine. If you are a mom (or dad) and haven’t ever seen this magazine, I would highly recommend it. It is all about parenting while being green. While reading it, there was an ad for Moms Meet and how you could apply to be a Mom Ambassador. I decided to go online to and check it out. Here is a little blurb from the website about what they are:
Well long story short, I applied and was accepted to be a Mom Ambassador for my area (you may have noticed the badge on the side of blog.) So I rounded up some of my mom friends and asked if they would be willing to be part of my Moms Meet Group, all were for it! As the weeks went on, I didn’t really hear anything but then I started getting emails to try things. You aren’t guaranteed to get accepted to sample everything you apply for, I am not 100% sure how one is chosen but I think it mostly on a first come first serve basis. So far I have applied for 4 group samplings and one that was just for Mom Ambassadors.

My group and I were chosen to sample Almond Breeze Almond Milk; some of the moms (including myself) have tried Almond Milk before some have not. Currently my group consistsof about 6 moms all with children ranging from 1-10. In my package, I received two vouchers for a carton of shelf stable milk (any flavor), two cartons of their new milk that is a blend of almond and coconut milks, a recipe booklet, a smoothie recipe booklet, coupons, and a beach towel.

The first thing I did was start going through the recipes; I picked out a couple recipes to try during our meeting. Both that would be family friendly, except maybe adults only smoothie!

Our first meeting will be on July 28th, so look for more information regarding our reviews and recipes then!

Also, if you are reading this and are interested in joining our group let me know, the more the merrier!

Moms Meet is an online resource that empowers moms to come together in an informal setting and talk about the latest on raising healthy families and living green. We provide easy-to-read articles and discussion prompts on different eco-conscious parenting topics; think of it as an eco-themed reading club for your playgroup. Some subjects we’ve covered in the past have included:

• Going green on a budget
• Slow family living
• How to feed your family
• Sleep training methods
• Overparenting

In addition to creating a space for moms to talk parenting and eco-conscious living, Moms Meet offers exciting opportunities for Mom Ambassadors and their groups to sample the latest healthy, green products. Past sampling opportunities have included EO all-natural hand sanitizer, Wallaby Organic yogurt, and To Go Brands Trim Energy

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Chocolate Black Bottoms

I love black bottom cupcakes! They are by far my favorite type of cupcake, I don’t eat them very often but for some reason I was just craving them this week.

The 4th of July started off so nice, I woke up before my son and husband, enjoyed a cup of coffee and played around on my favorite food sites and Pinterest in SILENCE! It was de-lite-ful! But then my son started to stir, I heard my husband on the phone (which is never a good sign at 7 am on your day off!) so I started thinking of what to do for breakfast. Well, my husband ended up leaving to go to work, because it was something only he could fix. And my son got a bowl of Cocoa Puffs. I wanted to go to the lake or trail or something as a family and now I was trying to think of other things that my son and I could do to waste time until my husband came home. It was hot! So we decided to make cupcakes, and since my son is a chocolate lover like his parents, I decided to give into my craving and make my favorite…Black Bottoms.  (We also made sidewalk paint, which was totally awesome, I will do another post on that another time.)

Now to back up. If you don’t know what a black bottom is, it is basically just a chocolate cupcake with a cream cheese and chocolate chip filling. I have heard them called other things, but they will always be black bottoms.

I knew I had most of the ingredients, but the only cream cheese I had on hand was the new Philadelphia Indulgence Milk Chocolate flavored cream cheese, and the only chocolate chips I had were the large dark chocolate morsels. So, I now have the Chocolate Black Bottom…and who doesn’t like more chocolate. Since we are a dark chocolate family, I would love to try the dark chocolate indulgence next time, because there will be a next time! 

Chocolate Black Bottoms
(adapted from The Capital Baker’s Chocolate Cream Cheese Surprise Cupcake)
makes about 30 regular size cupcakes


the filling:

8 oz. Philadelphia Indulgence Milk Chocolate Cream Cheese (or regular if you want the classic)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I didn’t have mini on hand so I chopped up larger morsels, but would recommend the mini)

the cupcake:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Hersey’s Special Dark)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups water
2/3 cups vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin cups with paper liners.

Prepare the filling; beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg and salt in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Beat for 3 minutes. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Spoon 1Tbsp of the filling into the center of each cupcake.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the cake portion comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pans. Remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely.