Bestowed Giveaway {CLOSED}

I hope everyone had an absolutely marvelous weekend!  I know I did; my brother-in-law and his girlfriend were in town, so we had lots of marvelous food and family time.

becca

Last week I was sent a marvelous box from BestowedWhat is Bestowed?  Itz a monthly membership for $19 per month that has 5+ products and include healthy food, amazing lifestyle, and nutrition items that are handpicked by celebrity nutritionist and author Heather Bauer.  In March’s box:

bestowed 1

The goods:

  • Oloves Hot Chili Mama Olives: I do like olives and I do like spicy, so I’m very interested to try these.  I’ve never seen olives in small snack packs; definitely a different idea, but great for any olive lover!  (Plus, 50 calories for the whole bag!)
  • Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars: These, too, will make a great snack that’s naturally sweet.  Heather suggests warming the bar and pairing with fresh fruit, or spreading nut butter on top instead of a fattening pastry – sounds mighty tasty!
  • Happy Family - Happy Squeeze:  I first learned of this brand during the Healthy Living Summit last summer, and fell in love!  I’m pretty sure these are intended for wee ones (I know my niece & nephew love them!), but I have no shame enjoying these.  I can’t wait to try this pomegranate blueberry pear flavor!
  • iTrain $25 Gift Card: I’ve never heard of iTrain, but itz a way to bring fitness and training expertise into your own home.  Workouts are downloaded right to you, so you can customize your workouts; includes music.  Sweet – must check this out!
  • Nature’s Earthly Choice - Easy Quinoa Lentil Soup Mix – This will be a great dinner when I’m in a pinch!  All you do is add water and boil and the best thing about it is that there’s not a lot of sodium (like most packaged foods), and itz loaded with protein and fiber.  Win win!
  • Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts – I am still yet to try hemp hearts, but now I have no excuse.  With 18 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber in one serving, itz definitely a hearty addition to any salad, cereal, or yogurt.
  • Artisana Coconut Butter – You know I love anything Artisana and anything coconut butter.  I’m sad there’s just one little squeeze packet because it definitely won’t last long with me!

Itz definitely a good value and a fun package to receive in the mail.  It reminds me of Conscious Box, but with a greater emphasis on food, and I think this would make a really awesome gift to someone.  (I love gifting non-traditional items.)  Plus, this is like the gift that keeps on giving depending on if you buy a three or six month or one year subscription.  Totally rad!

With each box, Heather writes notes that include “two tips” for each of the products.  This is fun because many of her suggestions are ideas that I would not have thought of on my own.  And guess what?

bestowed

Itz YOUR turn to win a box courtesy of Bestowed!  There are three different ways to enter; enter one or enter all, but be sure to leave a separate comment for each additional entry!

Here’s how to enter the giveaway:

  • Leave a comment telling us which marvelous item you’d most like to try from the March Bestowed box.
  • Follow Itz Linz and Bestowed on Twitter and tweet the following, “I want to  #getbestowed with a @bstowed box from @ItzLinz! :) http://wp.me/p2WMfo-1tu″
  • Subscribe to Itz Linz by entering in your e-mail address and confirming your follow via e-mail.

This giveaway will be open until Thursday, April 4th at 8:00 pm CST.  One winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Friday, April 5th and will have 48 hours to contact me or another winner will be selected.  Good luck!

Congratulations to #53 Carly @ Snack Therapy!  Please e-mail me your shipping information.  For everyone else, you may use the code 5OFFBSTOWED01 to receive $5 off your first Bestowed box!

*Bestowed provided me with the box for review purposes only. All opinions are my own.

Better Than Chocolate Marvelous Giveaway

Who doesn’t like chocolate?  Not many, probably.  However, some may not love the [lack of] health benefits that processed, sugar- and fat- laden chocolate delivers.  I’ve got a solution that won’t you won’t feel guilty about (and neither will your pants!).  Itz marvelous, indeed, which is perfect for today’s Marvelous Monday with Diva Katie!

Navitas Naturals sent me a bag of Organic Raw Cacao Powder to try.  I had so many ideas for what I could use this for, but first let me tell you some stats about this marvelous Mayan superfood!

  • South American cultures have been enjoying cacao for its healthful and invigorating properties for thousands of years.
  • 100% pure cacao powder – certified organic, kosher, vegan, & raw.
  • The bean of the cacao plant is the nutritional and flavorful source for all chocolate and cocoa products.
  • Cacao contains a naturally rich supply of antioxidants and is a good source of dietary fiber.
  • It is known to be one of the highest dietary sources of magnesium, flavanols, and polyphenols.
  • The unsweetened cacao powder is cold-pressed and milled at low temperatures to protect the nutrients.
  • Can be used in baking, desserts, sauces, spreads, smoothies, & beverages. (source)

Pretty impressive, eh?  What I love most is that it contains NO sugar, but it does have quite a few grams of fiber and even a few grams of protein.  Awesomesauce.  Now let me show you just some of the marvelous ways I have been enjoying the cacao.

Mixed in with many different Chobani cups of greek yogurt.

Strawberry being my favorite because I love strawberries (any berries) + chocolate!  I made a chocolate pancake and topped it with strawberries and Artisana coconut butter.  (Again, strawberries + chocolate = killer combo!)

I made a Cherry Cacao smoothie as a post-workout snack.  Did you know that consuming cherries after a workout can speed up your recovery?  Yessir.

Since pancakes are a staple for my breakfast routine, I wanted to use the cacao as a topping.  I made a blueberry pancake and then topped it with Maple Cacao Almond Butter sauce and more blueberries - AMAZING!

Maple Cacao Almond Butter Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp cacao
  • 1 – 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 – 3 tbsp vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp chia seeds (for thickening)
  • few drops of pure maple syrup

Directions:

  • Heat almond butter in microwave for 1 minute.
  • Combine all ingredients.
  • Let sit for a few minutes to thicken.

This was an awesome topper to my pancake, but I imagine it would be equally amazing in oatmeal, or even spread on a sandwich.

Navitas Naturals also sent me two more stellar products – Cacao Goji Power Snack and Cacao Lip Balm!

Goji is a superfood, too, and the snack bites were very tasty.  I’d like to try to recreate something like that at home.  A girl can never have too many lip balms, and the cacao one smelled good, tasted good, and felt good – Win, win!

Another recipe I made using the cacao was one I had been wanting to try for a long time: Avocado Mousse.  Avocados are getting a lot of rave recently – as they should be – for their healthy fats and there are recipes being created out of the wazoo.  I love avocados and I knew the avocado – cacao combo would be stellar.

And I was right.  :)  Combine 1 avocado, 3 tablespoons cacao, 3 tablespoons agave, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, and 1/2 vanilla almond milk in food processor and pulse until smooth.  Place in refrigerator until chilled and serve with your favorite berry!

With all these marvelous cacao combinations, you’ve probably got a hankerin’ sweet tooth, eh?  Well, drool no longer because the kind folks at Navitas Naturals are giving one lucky Itz Linz reader a bag of their Organic Raw Cacao Powder!

Here’s how to enter:

  • Tell me how you would use the cacao.
  • Follow Itz Linz on Twitter and tweet, “What’s better & healthier than chocolate? CACAO! Win a bag of @NavitasNaturals Organic Raw Cacao Powder from @ItzLinz! http://wp.me/p264zq-HH” and leave a comment telling me you did.
  • Subscribe to Itz Linz (enter your e-mail address in the top right corner of site).
  • Follow Itz Linz on Pinterest.

Don’t forget to become a fan of Itz Linz on Facebook, too!  This giveaway will be open until Friday, July 27th at 9:00 pm CST and a winner will be randomly selected on Saturday, July 28th, 2012.  The winner will have 48 hours to contact me or another winner will be chosen.  Best of luck!

*Disclaimer: Beyond the chocolatey cacao treats that Navistas Naturals sent me, I was not compensated for this post.

Friday Facts

1.  Sometimes, when I go to bed after Jonny and Zoey, I find that my spot is taken.

But I’m ok with it (especially when I get a picture) because itz so darn cute.

2.  For those of you that follow me on Instagram (follow me at ItzLinz), you probably saw my beautiful looking pancake yesterday morning.  More often than not, my pancakes have difficulty flipping (itz the pancake’s fault, not mine – obviously), so when they turn out, I get happy.  And yesterday’s was especially pretty!

I topped it with fresh strawberries and Artisana coconut butter.  My pancake yesterday was an easy recipe of 2 eggs, 1/3 cup oats, dash of milk, 1 tsp ground flaxseeds, and 1/2 tsp baking powder.

3.  I’ve been obsessed with coffee recently.  Usually, I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but I do enjoy a cup here and there.  Coffee tends to be more of a vacation thing for me; not sure why.  I don’t need coffee or caffeine in the morning to get going.  However, lately itz been more about the creamer than it has about the coffee.

We first discovered Natural Bliss Sweet Cream when Jonny and I vacationed in Arizona earlier this year.  Robbie and Becca had a huge jug of this in their fridge that Jonny and I went through embarrassingly fast.  We bought them another, but I’m pretty sure we went through that, too.  Obviously, adding cream and sugar to coffee is not a nutritional star, but like I always preach: everything in moderation is fine.  Although there hasn’t been much moderation with the creamer over here, so I should probably stop buying it.

Actually, I intended on just buying it once – as a treat.  So I bought a huge jug (not pictured).  But then my sister tried it at our house and was hooked!  (Surprise surprise, copy cat again. ;) )  Well, she couldn’t find the creamer at her normal grocery store, so being the kind sister I am, I picked one up for her.  Well, I forgot to bring it to her.  Again, and again, and again.  Then, we ran out of ours, so I opened hers.  #coffeeaddict  #coffeecreameraddict

4.  I recently bought these awesome green Birkenstocks on Rue La La.

My mother-in-law got me hooked on Birkstenstocks, and now itz the only sandal I’ll wear.  They are perfect for my high arches, and stylish, too.  The green ones make my third pair.  And when I find them for half the price, well, itz no question there.

5.  I’m working out with my brother Jason this morning.  He asked me to kick his butt for a legs workout, so we’ll be doing this one.

We both can expect major DOMS.  Itz a killer every time!

6.  Speaking of Jason, he gets a High Five for today.

Jason was recently asked to be the VP of Sales for Push Global Proximity Marketing - bringing new bluetooth and smartphone marketing to local businesses.  This is quite the honor and a job that he will definitely succeed at (as always).  Well-deserving of a high-five!

My mom also gets a high-five for having hand surgery yesterday.  She is recovering like the strong woman she always is and I aspire to be.

I chose to use a picture of me and my mom from Barbie’s wedding instead of the picture my dad sent of my mom in the hospital bed (though that was pretty, too!).  You’re welcome, Momma!  We’ll give my mom a figurative high-five instead of a literal high-five, since… well… her hand and all… ;-)  #dumbjoke

Thank you, Meg, for another edition of High Five Friday!

And now I’m off to drink my third cup of coffee meet Jason at the gym.

Tell me a Friday Fact about yourself!

Itz WIAW

Another Wednesday brings us another WIAW hosted by the wonderful Jenn at Peas and Crayons.

How lucky we are! :)  Let’s get right to it.  Today you will see quite the variety in my meals as opposed to my usual eats that I had been repeating for the past few weeks.  Breakfast was wholesome and filling.

2 eggwhites plus 1 whole egg in between two pieces of whole grain toast.   I spread strawberry jelly on the toast and then poured sprinkled nutritional yeast on top.  Random, yes.  Delicious, yes.  Banana slices with melted peanut butter and cinnamon on top.

This week is Teacher Appreciate Week, so our awesome PTO hosted a lovely luncheon for us yesterday.   The theme was Italian and there were decorations, tablecloths, and even a pasta noodle attached to the invites.  Very clever!

Salad with creamy Italian dressing, red sauce pasta, and rolled up chicken things.  (Not sure the proper name for them.)  Oh and a few cubes of cheese that are hiding underneath the salad.  To top it off, there was a brownie that got consumed, but is going unpictured.  Snack this week has been fulfilled by my tasty date nut bran muffins I made.

I topped a plain one with cashew butter.  Yum!  I had some asparagus that needed to use before it went bad, so obviously I made Mama Pea’s Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter.  We literally cannot get enough of it; itz SO good.  Fit2Flex recently posted a Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joe’s recipe, and seeing that this was right up Jonny’s ally, I gave it a go.  However, I did use black beans instead of pinto beans, and I added carrots, and a yellow pepper in addition to the red.

The verdict?  Very good!  However, I definitely over-served the sloppy joe’s and/or our sandwich thins couldn’t hold the filling.  The bottom piece of the bun became soggy and fell apart during the first attempt to pick it up.  But have no fear…

We still made it work!  Taco sloppy joe’s!  It was very good and I made an enormous batch, so we’ll be enjoying leftovers (and I won’t have to cook) for a couple of days.  Yay!  And I know you just know what I have been having for dessert lately…

Chocolate-chip cookies!  (Gluten-free, too.)  Speaking of… have you entered the giveaway yet?  You could win the most amazing cookie mix I have ever tasted.  In fact, three of you could win, so hurry on up and enter now.

What has your dessert been lately?

Healthy Choices

Happy Saturday, friends!  I want to chat with you about some healthy choices I made yesterday.  They are small decisions, but they add up to help me live my healthy lifestyle.  It all began with breakfast.  (It always does, doesn’t it?)  The school I work at breakfast is served in the teacher’s lounge every Friday morning.  Each staff member buddies up with a partner and is responsible for hosting one Friday during the school year.  I love this tradition as it promotes a sense of camaraderie while we eat together on the last day of the week.

The typical breakfast includes bagels, donuts, and juice.  However, sometimes people branch out and spice it up a little.  Today, my third grade team hosted a bridal shower for our lovely co-worker, Nichole.  I wanted to do something different for her shower, and I knew we would be having cake in addition to breakfast.  I decided to nix the donuts and make an oatmeal bar instead.   Nichole recently ran (and rocked!) her first half-marathon and has made great strides with healthy choices.  We often talk about fitness and nutrition, so I knew she would appreciate the healthy alternative of an oatmeal bar.

I put 2 cups of steel-cut oats and 10 cups of water in the crockpot the night before.  I had never made steel-cut oats in the crockpot before, so I wasn’t quite sure how big they would expand.  In the morning, I still had room in the crockpot.  I made an additional two cups of old-fashioned oats on the stovetop and combined it in the crockpot.  (We have a huge staff to feed!)  Toppings included shredded coconut, almond slivers, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, brown sugar, cinnamon, and some homemade peanut butter granola.  The bar went over extremely well and the crockpot was empty by the end!

After school, Jonny and I planned on going to watch my nephews in a little Mother’s Day performance that their preschool hosted.  We were both starving, so we decided to eat dinner before.  I needed to throw together a fast and tasty dinner.  I had a block of tofu in my press waiting to be used.  I cut the tofu into pieces and baked them in the oven at 375 for about 30 minutes.  Then, I steamed broccoli and topped it with nutritional yeast, and smeared some Artisana coconut butter on top of a sweet potato with a dash of cinnamon.

We dipped the baked tofu in a hot and spicy barbecue sauce.  Jonny commented on how full he was after dinner.  See, boys?  You can fill up on tofu!  :)  After dinner, we went to see my nephews and there were some snacks served at the end.  We did indulge in some snacks even though we had already eaten dinner.  Making healthy choices means listening to our bodies and not depriving them.  Did we fix an entire second plate of dinner and stuff our faces with cookies?  No.  Moderation.

Jonny and I had initially planned on getting some fro-yo after the show, but since we had snacked, we decided against it.  Plus, I had something waiting in the freezer that I could turn into a dessert.  When I made the granola for the shower, I made sure to make enough to keep some at home.  Then, Lindsay posted a super easy recipe involving only three ingredients all of which I had on hand: Chobani plain greek yogurt, granola, and chocolate.

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Yogurt Bites

The sprinkles were my own touch.  :)  Also, I added one drop of NuNaturals vanilla extract to the original recipe.  They turned out awesome and Jonny, once again, was impressed.  I can’t wait to make these for more people because they’ll surely be a crowd pleaser.

So those were some of my healthy choices I made yesterday.  Healthy eating doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be boring.  Finding that balance and finding what works for you is key.  Now I’m off to my first ever Ruckus Run with my sister.  Assuming we make it through in one piece, there will be an update on the race tomorrow.

What healthy choices have you made today?

Artisana Awesomeness

After my very busy day, I slowed things down just a little bit yesterday with a 30 minute elliptical interval workout in the morning.  And that’s all.  Today, I’m skipping the gym since I’m going to the zoo with my students, so I’ll be walking around all day long.  Plus, tomorrow is the Ruckus Run.  Itz only two miles, but I want to make sure I’m well-rested in case of any tough obstacles!

Now let’s talk about a new food obsession: Artisana Organic Foods.  Oh my heavens, I am hooked!  They sent me a fabulous package and I have been putting butters and oils in and on everything in site as of late.

With such a variety, I have been having a lot of fun in the kitchen experimenting with new combinations and new flavors.  Jonny has also been reaping these benefits.  Did you even know that this many nut butters were available?  I didn’t, but I do now, and boy am I glad!  I have seriously used them just about everyday.  In order not to bore you with every.single.thing.I.have.eaten.recently, I will just highlight my absolute favorites.

Oatmeal with Cashew Butter

Holy cow.  I didn’t think I could get any more excited about oatmeal, but I just did.  The cashew butter made my oats so unbelievably creamy and delicious.  That picture is making me drool just seeing and remembering it!

Cacao Quinoa Bowl

When Jonny and I were on that big quinoa bowl kick during Passover, I tried to spruce up quinoa any and every way since we were eating so much of it.  In this bowl was quinoa, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, cacao butter, and a drizzle of honey.  Jonny said this was his favorite quinoa bowl.

Protein Pancake with Macadamia Butter

I made a protein pancake and topped it with some warm macadamia butter.  So good!  The macadamia butter was a little crunchy, too, which added a nice texture.  I’ve topped my protein pancakes with just about every type of nut butter that Artisana sent me, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them!

Oh and if you’re reading this thinking, “Of course it tastes good; it’s butter – so fattening!”  No, no, no.  Well, yes there is fat in it, but it is coming from nuts – a whole food.  Ever since I started incorporating more fat into my daily diet, I have felt fuller sooner, longer, and way more satisfied.  These butters are a great way to get those healthy fats in.  Thank you, Artisana, for my delightful package and for opening my eyes to the whole new world of nut butters!

What is your favorite kind of nut butter?