Taste “Life” By the Spoon!

Good Morning! I hope your weekend has been a pleasant and enjoyable one, thus far. Now that the weather is beginning to turn warmer and humid at times (yesterday was one of the first humid days of the season, here in suburban Pennsylvania!), I find myself spending more time outdoors and will often crave something cool, creamy and refreshing. With that being said, yogurt has always been one of my staples, as a go-to snack and light meal of choice, excellent when enjoyed on its own, or paired with something like cereal, granola, or fresh fruit. However, enjoying the same yogurts over and over can be redundant, boring and quite frankly, lacking when it comes to variety.

Therefore, I was recently presented with the unique and exciting opportunity to sample and review a newer kind of delicacy (at least to me!) packed with protein, nutrition, flavor and uniqueness! The new find I speak of is Kefir, an equally enjoyable counterpart and alternative to yogurt, available in numerous forms, such as drinkable versions, frozen options, squeezable tubes, Farmer Cheese, and beyond! As a versatile option, the possibilities with Kefir are endless and the health benefits extend well beyond that of similar foods, providing consumers with a product that is easy to enjoy and nourishes the mind and body.

By now, you may be wondering, what exactly is Kefir, anyway? Well, more on that in a minute! There are numerous companies which produce Kefir, though one company in particular, who supplied me with a vast array of Kefir varieties to sample – Lifeway Kefir (lifewaykefir.com), is now the largest Kefir manufacturer within the United States!

Lifeway Kefir 2

Lifeway Kefir History: (via lifewaykefir.com)

  • Originated in 1986, when Michael Smolyansky began making kefir his basement at home in Skokie, Illinois. Eager to publicly share and promote kefir, within two years, he publicized the company and is now the largest Kefir manufacturer within the US, as previously stated.
  • Family Driven – Lifeway Kefir prides itself in promoting family, as founder Michael, passed along the torch of company ownership in 2002 to his children, Julie and Edward, serving as President/CEO and Chief Operating Officer, respectively.

Julie Smolyansky              Edward Smolyansky

  • Lifeway Kefir is based in the Chicago, Illinois area and even has the Lifeway Kefir Shop, a chain of Frozen Kefir cafes within the Chicago metro area!

Lifeway Kefir Shop

Lifeway Kefir Mission: (via lifewaykefir.com) Commited to four ideals

  • All Natural and Hormone-Free Ingredients
  • Philanthrophy
  • Environmental Responsbility – Lifeway Kefir offers and promotes BPA-Free packaging, recycling and renewable energy.
  • Local Farming Sustainability

Lifeway Logo 2

Lifeway Kefir Social Media, Website and Newsletter: Connect and keep in touch with Kefir and the latest happenings by choosing to follow, like, share and subscribe to their various social media channels, newsletter, blog and website –

  • Lifeway Kefir Blog – Lifeway offers a blog on their official website (lifewaykefir.org), updated weekly with pertinent and helpful health and nutrition articles.
  • Facebook – Follow and like Lifeway Kefir on their official Facebook page (Facebook.com/lifewaykefir
  • Twitter – Follow Lifeway Kefir on their official Twitter page (@lifeway_kefir)
  • Pinterest – Follow and pin with Lifeway Kefir on their official Pinterest page (@lifewaykefir)
  • Instagram – Follow Lifeway Kefir and be delighted in their photos and posts on their official Instagram page (@lifewaykefir)

Lifeway Kefir Product Offerings: The product line up is vast and comprehensive and includes the following –

Lifeway Product Lineup 2

Kefir (Beverages/Smoothies):

  • Low Fat (in 15 flavors)
  • Seasonal Flavors (5 flavors)
  • Perfect 12 Kefir (4 flavors)
  • Protein (4 flavors)
  • Nonfat (5 flavors)
  • BioKefir (3 flavors)
  • Traditional (9 flavors)
  • Kefir with Oats (3 flavors)
  • Organic Low-Fat (7 flavors)
  • Organic Whole Milk (6 flavors)
  • Organic Helios (7 flavors)

Lifeway Drinkable KefirLifeway Blueberry

ProBugs (for kids):

  • ProBugs Squeezable Pouches (5 flavors)
  • ProBugs Bites (3 flavors)
  • ProBugs Blast (4 flavors)
  • Frozen ProBugs (3 flavors)

Lifeway Probugs      Lifeway Probugs Frozen

Frozen Kefir:

  • Frozen Kefir Bars (3 flavors)
  • ProBugs Frozen Kefir (3 flavors)
  • Frozen Kefir Pints (4 flavors)

Lifeway Frozen Kefir new

Kefir Cups (individual cups with a spoon attached!):

  • Kefir Cups (4 flavors)
  • Organic Kefir Cups (7 flavors)
  • Farmer Cheese Cups (6 flavors)
  • Organic Farmer Cheese Cups (5 flavors)
  • Farmer Cheese (3 flavors)

Lifeway Farmer Cheese cups 2  Lifeway Cups   Lifeway Farmer Cheese Lifeway Farmer Cheese cups

Supplements: (Coming soon!)

Lifeway Supplements  Lifeway Supplements 4   Lifeway Supplements 3   Lifeway Supplements 2

  • Probiotic Supplements (3 flavors)
  • Probiotic Chewables

What IS Kefir?

  • According to the official Lifeway Kefir website, Kefir is described as a tart and tangy cultured milk smoothie offering an abundance of nutrition, such as great sources of protein, calcium and vitamin D, which are all critical components to a healthy diet and regimen. Healthy and with a  taste comparable to both Greek yogurt and cottage cheese (in my opinion), Kefir supplies tang, creaminess and a rich texture and is an excellent protein source, along with other vitamins and minerals.
  • Kefir orginated over 2000 years ago, in Caucasus Mountains.

Lifeway Kefir Facts

What’s IN Kefir?

  • 15-20 billion colony forming units (CFU), which are live and active Kefir cultures.
  • All products are naturally gluten-free, certified by Gluten-Free Certification Organization.
  • Natural Flavors = free of any artificial ingredients/preservatives, Lifeway Kefir products are all made with fruit juices, fruit essences and essential oils. The hints of sweetness in certain Lifeway products are strictly derived from the fruits themselves (as detailed via LifewayKefir.com)
  • Milk = Milk is the essential ingredient in Lifeway products. The milk within Lifeway products hails from small co-op and family farms from within the Midwestern portion of the United States. Therefore, consumers can feel confident knowing the milk producing Lifeway Kefir is free of any synthetic hormones and antibiotics, rBGH and rBST.

Health Benefits of Kefir: Lifeway Kefir fully stands by their beliefs that Kefir supplies a vast array of health benefits which includes the following –

  • Probiotics – Live microorganisms which aid in digestion and immunity.
  • Immunity – Nearly 70-80% of one’s immune system is located in the digestive track and the probiotics within Kefir contributes to maintaining immunity.
  • Healthy Weight – As a rich protein source, Kefir helps keep one fuller and guards against pesky hunger and cravings.
  • Skin – Nourishing not only your internal body, Kefir contains Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) often found in skin care products. Therefore, Kefir can assist in promoting healthy, glowing skin.
  • Digestion – Given the probiotics, Kefir has the ability to support and promote optimal digestion.
  • Protein SourceKefir is a quick, easy and tasty way to take in 11 grams of protein in an 8 oz serving!
  • Lactose Digestion – Fear not, those of you who may be lactose intolerant, Kefir is lactose-intolerant friendly, as it is 99% lactose-free due to Kefir‘s fermentation process and cultures.
  • Mood – When it comes to Kefir, feel good not only physically, but also mentally/emotionally, as Kefir is a source of tryptophan, an amino acid naturally increasing the brain’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter affecting mood balance and regulation.
  • Bone Density – Help keep your bones strong and in good form with Kefir, as it provides 30% of one’s daily calcium needs in a serving!

Unique Kefir Facts:

  • Cook/Bake with KefirKefir can be used commonly as a replacement for buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt and mayo! Check out the official Lifeway Kefir website (via lifewaykefir.com) for their recipe page to help get you started!
  • Safe for Pregnant/Nursing Women and Children – Lifeway Kefir even offers a line designed for children by the name of ProBugs and Frozen Kefir options!

Now that you’re familiar with Kefir in general and Lifeway Kefir, as a company, it’s time to share what I received from Lifeway Kefir and offer my perspective and experience with Lifeway Kefir products!

What I Received:

Kefir Delivery

Drinkable Kefirs:

  • Birthday Cake Low-Fat Kefir
  • Madagascar Vanilla Low-Fat Kefir
  • Apple Pear Cobbler Perfect 12 Kefir
  • Nonfat Plain Kefir
  • Plan Lowfat Kefir

Kefir Cups:

  • Kefir Cup with Granola
  • Organic Kefir Cup with Orange Vanilla
  • Natural Kefir Cup
  • Organic Natural Kefir Cup

Farmer Cheese:

  • Natural Farmer Cheese Cup
  • Black Cherry Farmer Cheese Cup
  • Organic Natural Farmer Cheese Cup
  • Organic Peach Farmer Cheese Cup

My Review:

Upon the arrival of the large and generous shipment from Lifeway Kefir, I was excited, eager and delighted to sample all of these innovative and healthy products! As a vegetarian, it is a goal of mine to be able to take in adequate protein and with Lifeway Kefir products, I was convinced it would be easy task!

First up, I opted to try the Birthday Cake Low-Fat Kefir! Just hearing the phrase – Birthday Cake associated with any type of food product is inviting and appealing to me! I even figured it would be appropriate, given my actual birthday is this Wednesday! The taste was a unique one and reminiscent of vanilla cake frosting/batter! Immediately upon taking the first sip, I was greeted by a taste that reminded me of Funfetti cake mix! The texture was full-bodied, creamy and rich, with just the right amount of thickness to feel satiating. After trying several other Kefir products, I consider this my favorite one of the bunch!

The next trial was Apple Pear Cobbler Perfect 12 Kefir, which has hints of sweet apple and creamy, sweet pear with notes of a tart and tang. It was refreshing and the notes of apple and pear complemented the overall texture and flavor.

In the realm of Kefir Cups, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a spoon is tucked in the clear lid of each, which is convenient and functional, great for enjoying it on the go, or at any time! It is a generous serving packed inside each Kefir Cup and is thick and rich, providing a similar tang noted in the Kefir smoothie/drinks. The granola mix-in in the one variety provides a sweet oaty crunch for a balance of texture. It is a great alternative to Greek yogurt and is equally healthy and nutritious!

Unique and new to me are the Kefir Farmer Cheese varieties. As a fan of cottage cheese, I was eager to try this new offering and loved the thick, rich texture. It is chunky and filling, packed with protein and is great on its own, or with fruit mixed in and even can be enjoyed savory as a dip, perhaps mixing in favorite herbs, spices or chopped veggies! In my mind, it could even be used as a topping for bagels, toast, and beyond!

Overall, it was an incredible and exciting experience to have the unique opportunity to sample and review Lifeway Kefir products! In my mind, they are a commendable and admirable company, truly dedicated to community, facilitating partnerships and producing healthy foods to nourish all! There is truly an offering for everyone when it comes to Lifeway Kefir products.

Many, many sincere thanks to Erika and the entire team at Lifeway Kefir for their generosity and kindness in providing me with these products to sample and review; it was a true honor and one I greatly appreciate!

 

 

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Undo Food the “Root Way”

Good morning to you! I hope your weekend was a pleasant one filled with lots of relaxation and happiness! This time of year, any weekend (or weekday, for that matter) is a positive one that is snow and storm free, in my opinion, for more reasons than one. Never a real fan of the cold and inclement weather that often accompanies it, the Spring, Summer and often times, Autumn, are times of year I look forward to for the warmer/sunny weather and the abundance of flowers and crops sprouting. That being said, recently, I was provided with the opportunity to experience a taste of the warmer months and the gardening that often accompanies it within the comfort of my very own home! At this point, you might be wondering, what in the world could she be talking about?! A garden within her own home? Keep in mind, I live in a relatively small condo/townhouse development where the grass and backyards are anything but plentiful. Yes, there is a small lawn the condo association takes care of, but there is minimal, if any, room for a garden of my own, much to my chagrin. Therefore, the opportunity I was presented with was appealing, exciting and a project I couldn’t wait to dig into (literally!):

ALL the “Root“WAYS: Learn How to “Undo Food” with Back to the Roots:

Back to the Roots Founders 2

A relatively new company, Back to the Roots (www.backtotheroots.com), having formed several years ago is well on its way to revolutionizing the food, nonprofit, science community and beyond! Founded and based out of Oakland, California, two friends and former roommates at UC Berkeley, Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez, made the choice to forgo a career in the corporate world and focus on the unique and innovative ways/methods of nourishing the public. Having learned in a college class of the ability of mushrooms to grow entirely on “spent coffee grounds,” they made it their goal to investigate further and ultimately transformed their careers in the midst of their experimentation. Identifying themselves as “full-time mushroom farmers,” Arora and Velez operate under the philosophy they refer to as “Undoing Food.” According to their website, they “undo food,” with the goal of “reconnecting families back to where food comes from through fun and delicious ready-to-grow and ready-to-eat products.”

Back to the Roots Founders

Back to the Roots History/Mindset:

  • According to the official Back to the Roots website (backtotheroots.com), they are a multi-faceted company aspiring to meet the changing and evolving needs of families and people in general.
  • They fully operate under the belief that “all food comes from the kitchen, not a lab; and where Research & Development teams aren’t biochemists, but our grandparents”, so to speak.”
  • Community-Based: Heavily community-based and oriented with a strong interest in education and youth, as whole, emphasizing the importance of food and natural fuel. They stress the importance of making learning fun and enjoyable within the classroom through incorporating their full product lines and philosophy.

Back to the Roots logo

Back to the Roots Website/Social Media Platforms:

  • The Back to the Roots website is filled with a vast array of resources – everything from recipes incorporating their products, links to their curriculum, a Press page featuring all of their recent awards/accolades/interviews, a tour of their facility, and an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the founders and their team.
  • Online Ordering: All products are available for online ordering, with free shipping provided for orders of $25 or more, PLUS, if you subscribe to their newsletter, you’ll be entitled to a one-time discount of 15% off your next order.
  • The team at Back to the Roots is always open and welcome to feedback and encourages new customers, fans and those who are curious in learning more to reach out via their website, or social media pages.
  • Social Media: Come interact and follow Back to the Roots on their assortment of social media platforms – Twitter: @Backtotheroots Facebook: Back to The Roots Pinterest: @Back to the Roots & Instagram.

Back to the Roots PRODUCT LINES: Having familiarized yourself with the company, you might be wondering, so what exactly are these products? Well, take a tour of the products below and prepare to be intrigued and amazed:

Back to the Roots Product Line                 Back to the Roots Product Line 2

READY TO GROW Products: (http://backtotheroots.com/collections/ready-to-grow & http://backtotheroots.com/collections/ready-to-eat)

  • Mushroom Farm: Grow gourmet, organic Oyster mushrooms out of the box in 10 days! Lasts for months in the box, unopened. Simply open the box, mist with water and harvest days later (as stated on their website); non-GMO, 100% home-grown.
  • Garden-in-A-Can Set (4-pack): organic seeds and soil – plant, water and grow on your windowsill! Available in Basil, Cilantro, Sage and Dill.
  • Water Garden: A self-cleaning fish tank that grows food! It uniquely creates a “closed-loop ecosystem” – the fish feeds the plants and the plants clean the water! The garden comes with a fish tank & gravel, organic seeds/grow stones, natural fertilizer, coupon for Betta fish, fish food and a silent, submersible water pump.

Back to the Roots Garden in a Can

READY-TO-EAT Products: (http://backtotheroots.com/collections/ready-to-eat)

  • CEREALS: No bag-in-box (sold in recyclable cartons with non-toxic vegetable inks, 18% less paper and 25% less plastic than traditional cereal boxes). Available in the following varieties:

Back to the Roots Cereal Line

California Whole Wheat Stoneground Flakes: 100% whole wheat from Califiornia; organic cane sugar from Florida and sea salt from San Francisco Bay)

Cocoa Clusters: 100% organic stoneground whole wheat from California, pure-non-alkalized cocoa from the Dominican Republic, organic cane sugar from Florida, sea salt from San Francisco Bay)

Purple Corn Flakes: 100% non-GMO purple corn from Minnesota; organic cane sugar from Florida; sea salt from San Francisco Bay.

  • Organic Breakfast Toppers: add flavor, texture, variety and color to your favorite cereal (hot or cold), yogurt, pudding, and/or other recipes/foods. Available in the following varieties:

Back to the Roots breakfast toppers

Raisins, Sunflower Seeds and Buckwheat

Blueberries, Almonds & Buckwheat

Dates, Coconut and Chia Seeds

My PERSPECTIVE/Experience:

As I previously mentioned, much to my chagrin, my living space does not allow for much of a garden or growing environment for plants, flowers or other crops. Therefore, Back to the Roots provides the unique opportunity to fully grow my own herbs, mushrooms, and other plants right from the comfort of my own home! It is a company like no other and one that is truly dedicated to providing wholesome, safe and nutritious foods for all. The herbs grown in the can are fresh and flavorful and it takes a short period of time to grow them!

As the daughter of a teacher, their strong belief and presence in the world of education is one I fully support and appreciate and am glad to see their full integration.

From the mushrooms sprouting from the mushroom farm, to the ready-to-eat cereals like the Cocoa Clusters (my favorite – I’m a huge fan of the crunchy, cocoa taste, which is sweet, but not overly so with the right amount of texture, holding up well in milk and yogurt!), the possibilities are endless. The concept of the breakfast toppers is one I’ve never seen before, either, and one I truly appreciate, especially the variety with blueberries, given blueberries are relatively pricey this time of year! With Back to the Roots, it’s hard to be disappointed!

Now, let’s take a trip back into the different projects and initiatives Back to the Roots incorporates into its culture:

Back to the Roots education

Back to the Roots within the Classroom (http://backtotheroots.com/pages/curriculum):

As a unique facet of the company, Back to the Roots offers a fully-developed curriculum which accompanies each Back to the Roots Ready-to-Grow-Product. The curriculum helps children understand each product while still enforcing the common core for science. The curriculum is comprised of three units:

  • Unit 1: Mushroom Farm
  • Unit 2: Water Garden
  • Unit 3: Garden-in-a-Can

On the website’s curriculum page, teachers/educators can find and download the curriculum, associated activities, and other teacher resources for each unit. Plus, teachers/educators may be able to receive discounts on the product line and are urged to contact the appointed point person on their website. Plus, as an added bonus, for each photo Back to the Roots receives of the crops grown in classrooms, Back to the Roots will proudly donate a Ready to Grow product to the classroom of their choice!

“Grow One, Give One & Pour it Forward” Campaigns/Initiatives:

  • After buying a Ready-to-Grow or Ready-to-Eat product, simply take a photo with a product or recipe you created with the product(s) and upload it onto the Back to the Roots website and a product donation will be made in your honor to a classroom of your choice! When purchasing and enjoying Back to the Roots products, it is truly an opportunity to both enjoy and contribute to your community or a community in need!

Well, there you have it! I’d like to give a world of thanks to Morgan and the entire team at Back to the Roots for providing me with this incredibly unique and eventful opportunity to sample all the Back to the Roots products! It was one I thoroughly enjoyed and was impressed with; they truly are “undoing food,” in all the “root” ways!

Back to the Roots mushrooms

 

 

 

 

 

In with the New

Good Morning! As we approach the end of the week, I thought it was necessary for me to comment on some of the products/items I’m hoping to try this coming weekend! Lately, I’ve spotted several different unique products, everything from makeup, to yogurt, to vegetables, all of which caught my eye and left me curious and eager to try them out for myself. Since it looks vastly unique to me, I thought I’d share them, thinking that perhaps someone else might be as intrigued as I am. Without further adieu, here is the first product:

Smashbox Makeup (in particular, Photo Finish Blemish More than Primer Blemish Control):

Smashbox Makeup

Since graduating college just about five years ago, I’ve battled adult acne on and off. At first, I was embarrassed and ashamed to admit this, feeling self-conscious and insecure and as though I was the only one. Though, after doing a lot of reading and regularly seeing a dermatologist for years thereafter, I came to understand that there are in fact many adults of a similar age who battle similar acne woes and can share in my sentiments. That said, some weeks/days are better than others as far as my skin, but for days when I am plagued with bumps, redness and an uneven skin tone, I look for makeup that will not only conceal these blemishes and the inflammation, but also a product that will assist in the healing of these cumbersome spots. Therefore, the other day, I decided to perform a quick Google search to see what I could come up with and what I found was a newer product (or at least new to me, anyway) by Smashbox Cosmetics. I’ve never used any Smashbox Cosmetics before and have very sparingly used any cosmetic counter makeups. Unfortunately, I simply don’t have the funds to regularly purchase higher-end makeup and usually stick with Neutrogena Skin-Clearing foundation. However, upon arriving at the Smashbox website and in particular for the Blemish Control primer, I was intrigued and curious. From the description, it seems to provide both coverage and healing properties, which is what I look for in a face makeup. If any of you have used Smashbox Cosmetics or this particular product, what has been your experience with it and more importantly, would you recommend it?

Vanilla/Chocolate Silk Cashew Milk:

Vanilla Cashew Milk       Chocolate Cashew Milk

Switching gears a bit, as a big fan of non-dairy milks, in recent months, I discovered Silk’s new line of Cashew Milk! Initially available only in unsweetened and plain varieties, my sister and I recently spotted the new flavors, vanilla and chocolate in the grocery store’s refrigerated case! For years, Silk has been my go-to non-dairy milk (everything from soy milk to almond milk, coconut milk on occasion, and now cashew milk!). The nutritional facts are impressive, as it is packed with protein, low-sugar, low-calories, low-carb and high in calcium! Plus, what I love even more about cashew milk is how thick and creamy it is, for a minimal number of calories. It adds a hint of flavor and personality to whatever it is mixed with (or if it is enjoyed on its own). Therefore, I’m eager to try these new flavors, believing they will taste incredible, as Silk as a brand rarely disappoints.

Pancakes and Maple Syrup Jelly Beans by Jelly Belly:

Pancakes and Maple Syrup Jelly Beans

As a lifelong fan of jelly beans (with my favorite flavor being Jelly Belly’s Buttered Popcorn!), I was immensely excited and overjoyed to learn of their newest flavor – Pancakes and Maple Syrup! Anyone who knows me well, knows that maple syrup is one of my all-time favorite condiments. The sweet maple flavor is comforting and truly complements anything and everything it is added to, so I can only imagine how incredible this flavor of jelly beans must be! I cannot wait to try them!

Spiral Slicer Spiralizer Complete Bundle – Vegetable Cutter – Zucchini Pasta Noodle Spaghetti Maker (via Amazon)

Spiralizer

Ahh, here it is! The kitchen tool I’ve been longing for all these months! Finally, yes, finally, it is mine! About two days ago, I decided to take the leap and purchase it from Amazon. In several days, it should be arriving and I am overly eager to test it out! As a huge fan of zucchini and really, all types of vegetables, I cannot wait to make my own “Zoodles” as I’ve recently seen them appearing everywhere on Pinterest, in magazines, other blogs, and simply everywhere! They look and sound incredible, plus the possibilities for flavoring them is truly endless. On Amazon, the price was right, too, at $15 and change, it comes as a complete bundle, with everything from the spiralizer tool itself, a vegetable peeler, recipe book, and even a bag for the tool itself, for easy carrying and traveling! Sounds great to me!

Da Vinci Sugar-Free Cookie Dough Syrup:

Da Vinci Cookie Dough

Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite way to enjoy coffee is with sugar-free flavored syrups! I’m always up for trying new flavors and combinations, always wanting my coffee experience to be a unique and tasty one. Therefore, I actively follow my two favorite flavored syrup companies on social media (i.e. Torani and Da Vinci). About a week or so ago, Da Vinci was hosting a contest on their Facebook and much to my content and surprise, I ended up winning! The price was the ability to select any flavor of syrup I wanted and so after quickly perusing the website, I chose the one that most stood out to me: Sugar-Free Cookie Dough syrup! How incredible does that sound? I’m eagerly and patiently awaiting its arrival and look forward to trying it in my morning coffee!

Bigelow Girl Scout Cookie Tea:

Bigelow Tea    Bigelow Tea 2

Again, as a follower of Bigelow Tea on their social media pages, they recently introduced a brand-new line of teas inspired by the beloved Girl Scout cookies! For years, girl scout cookie season was one of my favorite times of the year, as I fondly recall enjoying them on a consistent basis as a high school student, allowing myself to indulge in my favorite variety – caramel delites! Hearing about these flavors of teas brought back fond memories of the cookies, so I’m curious if they truly do taste like them.

Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Greek Yogurt:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Yogurt

Wow, as a Greek yogurt fan who enjoys it every day (particularly Dannon Light ‘n Fit Greek and Activia Light Greek Yogurt), I was excited and eager to learn of this new flavor. Unique and rare to hear about a peanut-butter flavored yogurt, I definitely added this yogurt to my “must-try” list. Though it is slightly more decadent than I typically purchase, I think it is worth a try!

Birds Eye Steamfresh Flavor Full Line (available in Buffalo Cauliflower, Barbecue Sweet Corn, Ranch Broccoli, Teriyaki Broccoli):

Steamfresh Cauliflower  Steamfresh Corn

Steamfresh Ranch Broccoli   Steamfresh Teriyaki Broccoli

As a huge vegetable fan and frequent purchaser of frozen vegetables, this new line of Birds Eye Steamfresh is right up my alley! The flavors sound unique and packed with flavor, just as the title states (Flavor FULL). Plus, it is simple to cook; simply pop the entire bag in the microwave for several moments and voila, a freshly-cooked, flavor-filled, unique side dish! It is packed with nutrients and flavor and adds something special to a meal, or is a great side item to enjoy on its own!

So there you have it! It truly does seem like new product season is in full swing!

 

A “Forbidden” Bite

Good Morning, all! Yesterday, I went about day as routinely as I typically do. However, mid-afternoon, a news story suddenly came to my attention, as I discovered it via Twitter, TV and Facebook. The story was being shared and discussed in all mediums I regularly encounter, so it was considerably difficult to avoid it or not see it. It was a topic/issue that hit close to home, however. Perhaps you’ve already heard about it and have formed your own opinion or perspective:

A mother of a 4-year-old daughter (Natalee), Leeza Pearson, a resident of Aurora, Colorado, received a what she referred to as a “lunch-shaming” note in her daughter’s lunchbox after sending her to school with a package of Oreos. Having run out of fruits and vegetables, as a treat, she packed Oreos for her daughter, failing to see this as something shameful or harmful. Upon arriving home from school, Pearson realized the package of Oreos were noticeably untouched and accompanied by a note, which read (courtesy of http://abcnews.go.com/Health/mom-lunch-shamed-school-packing-oreos-daughter/story?id=30674158#.VUI2W9Lo0HF.twitter)

“Dear Parents, it is very important that all students have a nutritious lunch. This is a public school setting and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable and a healthy snack from home, along with a milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it. Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks, and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack. This is a very important part of our program and we need everyone’s participation,” read the note, provided to ABC News by Pearson.

OreosSchool Note

Upon learning and reading about this, I was completely appalled and disgusted and shared in Pearson’s sentiments, when she expressed, “I think it is definitely over the top, especially because they told her she can’t eat what is in her lunch,” Pearson told ABC News. “They should have at least allowed to eat her food and contacted me to explain the policy and tell me not to pack them again.” I couldn’t agree with Pearson more. It is not the job of the school administrators or employees to police students’ lunches, especially NOT in this fashion. While I completely understand wanting to ensure each child is receiving and enjoying a nutritious and satisfying lunch and snacks, when in moderation, cookies CAN be acceptable. Reacting in this fashion seems to be extreme. As Pearson goes on to explain, she states that the Oreos were NOT her main meal. They were simply an accompaniment to a healthy and nutritious lunch.

The spokesperson for the school claims that they were “just trying to promote healthy eating,” however, as reported in the aforementioned ABC article, Pearson said that effort has often been inconsistent:

“They say I can’t decide what to feed her but then they sometimes feed her junk food,” Pearson said. “Why am I being punished for Oreos when at other times I am asked to bring candy?”

Also, the school administrator claimed Natalee was offered an alternative snack, but Pearson argues this was not the case and her daughter arrived home from school hungry.

In a world where healthy and “clean-eating” is constantly spoken of and advised, what messages are we sending the children and adolescents of today? Instead of simply enjoying a meal and a snack, they are constantly faced with the debate of whether or not is made of “clean ingredients,” or organic items. It becomes frustrating an overwhelming at times even for me, so I can only imagine what it would feel like to be faced with this as an impressionable child. In my mind, healthy eating is allowing for the occasional indulgence, taking time to enjoy something new or different every now and then, instead of solely fixating on its nutritional composition. In a world where we are constantly chastised as a society on our outward appearances, what we’ve done or bought, it becomes overload to restrict even something like an occasional Oreo to a child, whose meals and snacks are otherwise healthy.

As a child, my mother packed me treats in my lunch box, everything from Dunkaroos, to Tastykakes, to Hostess cupcakes and Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies. Did I enjoy them? Absolutely! They weren’t my main meal though and had no impact on what I feel healthy eating is. In fact, I love fruits and vegetables and yogurt even more than packaged treats. Being exposed to treats like Oreos allowed me to not see it as a luxury. It was simply another form of food, to be enjoyed on occasion. I didn’t lust after it or overindulge when I had access to it, because I saw it as something I could enjoy on occasion. It wasn’t labeled as a “forbidden fruit,” so to speak. I say this because I recall in my years as a child and a teenager, my mom used to keep a bowl of M&M’s or other candies on the table in the family room to be enjoyed by visitors or my us, in general. It wasn’t constantly being refilled, or even really eaten all that much, because it was a regular fixture on the table and not a “forbidden treat,” or indulgence. However, during birthday parties, some of my friends would overindulge in these treats, or exclaim, “Wow! You have access to these treats all the time?!” To me, though, it wasn’t something I overindulged in, because it wasn’t forbidden to me, or referred to as unhealthy. It was an occasional treat; a complement to an otherwise healthy diet, to provide me with an occasional dose of sweetness. It was how I learned the phrase, “everything in moderation.”

Dunkaroos

Policing children and parents’ food choices is not the answer. In my mind, it only promotes unhealthy behaviors and a self-conscious mindset. While Oreos may not be the picture of nutrition, it is not something to shame someone for occasionally enjoying.

Acceptance quote

On the Radar

Good Thursday morning to you! I hope your week has been a pleasant one, thus far. So I thought today, a post would be in order to brief you on some of the items (i.e. foods, clothing, books), TV shows, etc, that I’ve currently been enjoying or, conversely, aspire to enjoy someday, very soon!

FASHION:

For about as long as I can remember, fashion has always been a deep interest of mine, especially when it comes to shoes and accessories. Though, fashion of all kind is definitely a source of creativity for me and I am open to most prints, designs and colors. Recently, I learned one of my favorite department stores, Kohl’s, will be welcoming a new line of clothing items and accessories by one of their beloved designers, Lauren Conrad (LC). As you might already be familiar, LC welcomed her Cinderella-inspired line of clothing, due to the recent release of the live-action movie in theaters. Well, she is following suit with another beloved character line and this time, it is the much-loved, Minnie Mouse! Yes, you heard me right – Minnie Mouse! Her line is expected to be lighthearted, easygoing and friendly, and appeals to all ages – from a true child (by chronological age), to a kid at heart!

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One of my other favorite stores, Target, will also be introducing a new line of clothing by long-time loved designer, Lilly Pulitzer! Though she is often regarded as a “higher-end” designer, her line for Target is expected to be much more affordable, without sacrificing on the quality and style she is noted for. For me, personally, I am extremely excited to see this new line at Target, as I’ve never purchased any of her items. I absolutely love all the colors and prints; they are very appropriate for the spring and summer, or really, anytime of year and provide color and a personality to whatever one is wearing! Look for it at your local Target on or around April 19th!

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Lilly Pulitzer dresses

Lilly Pulitzer Target

Lastly, yet another store I’m quite fond of – Express, recently introduced new versions of their dressy shorts. Now, anyone who knows me, is aware that I have not worn shorts in probably 10 years. It’s not that I don’t like how they look – I definitely do, but it’s a matter of comfort and feeling at ease in them. Much of the time the shorts I’ve worn don’t fit all that well, or don’t look the way I would like them to. The dressy short style is one I’ve always hoped to emulate and the shorts I recently spotted on Express’s website and in their emails, is one that caught my eye. Perhaps you’ve seen them, as well? If not, here’s a photo:

Express Shorts

I just love the lace detailing on these! The lace, in my opinion, really adds style and personality. Plus, I love that it has a sophisticated, dressy look that can easily go from day to night. Also from Express, I spotted a Spring-style jacket, that I think would pair well with many outfits. The only caveat is that I believe it is only available in one color – Green, which is decent, but wouldn’t really match with everything. All the same, I love the style and hope to emulate it this season!

Express Spring Jacket

FOOD:

Two items in my particular have been on my radar for a number of months, with the first and foremost being: Elli Quark! You might be wondering, what exactly IS Elli Quark? Well, (according to their website, Elliquark.com) Elli Quark is a spoonable FRESH CHEESE with a creamy texture similar to Greek yogurt, but with a richer, LESS SOUR taste. It also has a better protein-to-carb ratio than Greek yogurt, with HIGH PROTEIN and NO ADDED SUGARS or artificial sweeteners. Yum! It sounds great to me! I’m already a HUGE fan of yogurt in general, especially Greek-style yogurt, so I think I would really enjoy Elli Quark! Plus, listen to this: they have a VAST array of flavors (12 in total!), which include:

Red Velvet; Blueberry; Strawberry; Lemon; Plain; Cherry; Pineapple; Peach; Vanilla Bean; Sea Salt Caramel; Bananas Foster; and Mint Chocolate!

They aren’t available yet in all locations, but they have a nifty product locator on their website to help with your searching and an option to order their products online, to be conveniently delivered right to your home! I’ve been desperately longing to try Elli Quark, so online ordering for me may be on my radar… early birthday gift, anyone?!

Elli Quark

Another product which recently caught my eye while shopping is a new granola flavor by the brand, Bear Naked Granola! As a company with wholesome, natural ingredients, plus recyclable packaging, they are a company I feel exceptionally comfortable and excited to purchase! Plus, one of their latest flavors – Sea Salt Caramel Apple, sounds absolutely incredible! Yum!

Barefoot Granola Sea Salt Caramel Apple

BOOKS:

As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, books are a frequent staple in my life and a source of comfort. I have a whole rotation of authors I currently love and follow, but am always open to new ones and the latest talent. I’m always in such awe of the prose and writing style of the authors I read and am impressed by their skills, ability and tact and the way they are able to provide such emotionally-riveting words. A an author I recently discovered (though definitely not new to the writing community; she is already well-established and has a healthy following) is Jane Green. Since discovering her only a short time ago, I’ve already read several of her novels and look forward to reading more in the near future. I also follow her on social media and love to see all the interior decorating and cooking she does in addition to her fiction-writing. I highly recommend her, if you haven’t already read her before.

Jane Green

Another author I’ve been following and reading is Meg Donahue. She is very personable, likable and her books always capture my attention. Her newest novel, Dog Crazy is an excellent book for those who have weathered through a host of emotions, whether you’re a dog owner or not. Check it out, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Meg Donahue

Currently, I am reading a novel by Stacey Ballis, one of the newest authors I’ve discovered. Though I still have a way to go with her novel, Recipe for Disaster, I am enjoying it and look forward to traversing through.

Stacey Ballis book

TV:

One day, a couple weeks ago, while lounging around the house, my mom and I were flipping through channels, curious about what would actually be on, given it was a random Sunday afternoon. Suddenly, we stumbled across HGTV, a channel I haven’t watched all that much with the exception of House Hunters, about once or twice. Reading the description for a TV Show called Beachfront Bargain Hunt, I was intrigued and decided to try an episode and see what I thought. Well, ever since first taking in an episode, I have been hooked! It’s been filling up my DVR now for weeks straight and I always look forward to seeing what new beach homes various families and people will be looking for. Every episode is a new location and a new family, so it feels like the first time, every time I view it!

Beachfront Bargain Hunt&

Also, as I mentioned yesterday, I recently made the morning transition over to watching NBC’s, The TODAY Show from ABC’s Good Morning America. I find a lot of the anchors and reporters much more personable (especially Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee, Tamron Hall, Al Roker, etc). I love their banter and personality and how well they bounce ideas and thoughts off of one another. They also aren’t afraid to voice their true opinions, no matter the backlash they might experience. They don’t shy away from the limelight, which is truly inspiring to me.

The Today Show

KLG and Hoda

I’m also so glad The Voice is back, especially with judge, Christina Aguilera! Her voice is just exceptional; it always has been and I’ve been a fan of hers since my childhood. Also, I think she is an excellent judge and mentor and provides great guidance and support to the contestants on the show. She goes well with new judge, Pharrell Williams.

The Voice

So there you have it, just a brief sampling of what is currently “on my radar!” Have a good Thursday!

Old El Paso: A Homestyle Mexican Fiesta!

We’ve made it to Friday! I hope your week has been a pleasant one and that your weekend will be one filled with excitement, relaxation and enjoyment. Last night, I thought it would be fitting to treat my mom to a little homestyle “Mexican Fiesta!” However, it was more or less effortless since the popular General Mills brand, Old El Paso took care of the handiwork for us! Last month, on behalf of General Mills through the MyBlogSpark program, I was provided with the opportunity to sample an Old Paso Frozen Entree for Two variety of my choice! To say the least, I was very excited and eager to sample and select a variety. After the product coupon arrived, I made my way on over to my local Target to choose a flavor I thought my mom would enjoy, since she and I are both huge Mexican fans! After perusing the available varieties (i.e. Fajitas, Burritos, Enchiladas and Quesadillas in either Chicken or Beef), ultimately, I selected the Burritos, knowing they are a favorite of my mom’s.

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Before I delve into my review and experience with the Old El Paso Frozen Entree for Two in the Chicken Burritos variety, I’d like to share some insider product information with you:

  • Old El Paso is a General Mills company providing consumers with a vast array of frozen entrees, such as those I detailed above, created and crafted by Chef Jonathan according to (wwww.oldelpaso.com), as well as shelf-stable burrito kits, hard and soft tacos with taco seasonings and sauce packets, in addition to stand ‘n stuff taco dinner kits which come complete with soft tortilla bowls, seasoning mix and taco sauce!
  • The Old El Paso website (www.oldelpaso.com) is brimming with not only product information, but also recipes and step by step guides to creating the ideal, authentic, restaurant-quality Mexican meal at home!
  • As a national company, Old El Paso maintains an active social media presence via Facebook (www.facebook.com/oldelpaso), Pinterest (pinterest.com/oldelpaso), Twitter (twitter.com/bettycrocker) & Instagram (instagram.com/oldelpaso). They encourage their customers and fans to post photos, thoughts and ideas to their social media pages, to foster a sense of community.

Now that you’re packed with knowledge in regards to the Old El Paso company and family, I’d like to share with you some specifics in regards to the Chicken Burritos my mom enjoyed last night!

Old El Paso Frozen Entree: Chicken Burritos Variety (enough for two individuals):

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  1. What’s in it? These Chicken Burritos contain: (2) salsa verde, seasoned white chicken, rice, black beans, a blend of Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses, fire roasted corn and chopped cilantro in a flour tortilla.
  2. How is it prepared? It is a super simple preparation – simply place it in the microwave for 4-6 minutes (depending on your microwave) with the cellophane packaging on (the packaging directly indicates which side up when microwaving) After heating it up, it is now ready to instantly eat and enjoy!
  3. Nutrition: The Burritos contain 480 calories and 23 grams of protein, plus 6g of dietary fiber, as stated on the official packaging.

Thoughts on the Sampling Experience:

When my mom arrived home from work last night, I offered to prepare a Chicken Burrito for her. She happily agreed and I quickly retrieved a burrito from the box, read the directions and placed it into the microwave for 5 minutes (the packaging states 4-6 minutes in the microwave depending on the microwave), with the cellophane packaging on. After 5 minutes, I could smell the savory ingredients circulating through the kitchen and retrieved the soft burrito from the microwave. Soon, my mom was ready to dig in. In her words, the flour tortilla was packed with flavor and she liked how soft and pillowy it was. She also felt the size was decent and satisfying. However, she felt the tortillas were filled a little too generously with rice and beans, as opposed to chicken and cheese, which she would have liked more of. Therefore, to complement and round out the meal, I served her the burrito with a sweet potato on the side. Lastly, while my mom enjoys meals with savory flavor, in this particular situation, she felt the burritos were slightly on the spicy side, relatively too much for her taste. If the spiciness was toned down a bit, she felt it would be more enjoyable and to her liking.

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Overall, it was an easy and quick meal to prepare and serve. Asked if she would purchase it on her own, my mom stated she would, but perhaps she would try a different variety, such as the fajitas or quesadillas. If you’re looking for a quick and easy Mexican fix to eat at home, work, on the go, Old El Paso is the way to go! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

QUESTION: What are some of your favorite entrees? Have you ever tried an Old El Paso meal?

“Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.”

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BLAST FROM THE PAST: Childhood Favorites Revisited!

Good morning, my friends! I hope your mid-week Wednesday, is off to a great start, filled with promise. Last night, needing a bit of comfort and a bit of “TV Therapy,” I opted to watch two TV shows I recorded on my DVR: ABC Family’s new series, “The Fosters,” as well as The Hallmark Channel’s new TV series, “Cedar Cove.” If you haven’t seen either yet, I HIGHLY recommend both! The acting and storylines are relatable and genuine, plus the acting is top-knotch. In fact, in watching both of them, they ended up inspiring future blog posts, so be on alert for an upcoming one on both! Anyhow,  I’m very enthused to bring you today’s musing, as it is lighthearted, reflective and in my opinion, fun! Perhaps you can relate to me as I reflect and share with you some of my favorite childhood foods, music, television shows, and dances. Prior to sharing, I’d like to take a quick moment and share with you my morning eats:

Breakfast (Wednesday, July 24, 2013):

1 container Dannon Oikos Blackberry Greek Yogurt (This isn’t the first time I’ve had this flavor of Greek Yogurt. I’d say that I am 50/50 on it. It’s on the thicker side, making it a bit of a challenge to combine with cereal, but manageable, overall. The flavor is eh. At first, I liked it a lot, but now I’m not so sure. Still, it’s worth a try, if you’re game!)

1 cup Giant-Store Brand Puffed Rice Cereal (This never really gets old, it’s a trusted, reliable source).

1 cup Special K Multigrain Flakes (Have you tried them yet? As I’ve mentioned before, they are relatively new on store shelves, but definitely a good one to enjoy. The flakes are big and crispy, and hold up well with milk and/or yogurt.)

1 Banana (No complaints here; sweet and petite, per usual.)

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Now onto today’s musing: my childhood favorites! I figured an easier and more visually appealing way to share with you some of my favorites is by revealing them by category. So without further adieu, let’s get to the first category!

FOODS:

In general, for me at least and perhaps yourselves, too, foods have a way of bringing a wave of nostalgia over me, whether it is a particular scent, package, or taste – the possibilities are endless. The same is true for those I’ve listed below, the foods I closely tie to my childhood and teenage years:

  • Dunkaroos: Remember these?! If I’m not mistaken, I believe they still sell them today, but I’m not quite sure if they are as popular as they were when they were first introduced on store shelves. For me, they became a staple in my daily school lunch my mom would pack me. If you’re unfamilar with Dunkaroos, let me indulge you: they are small, rectangular packages containing bite-size cookies on one side, with a complementing “sweet dip” on the other side, for “dunking,” hence the name, “Dunkaroos.” The cookies and dips are available in a variety of flavors, so it was never really the same experience, but always a tasty one, to say the least!

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  • Oatmeal Cream Pies: These little pies of goodness are still readily available on store shelves as I’ve passed by them on countless occasions while browsing in the grocery store. The first time I experienced an oatmeal cream pie was when I was in preschool, visiting the “older kids” in my mom’s class, while they were having lunch. I remember I sat next to a girl named Candy, who became my friend and asked me if I would like to try a piece of her oatmeal cream pie. Since then, it became one of my favorite treats, striking the ideal balance of the sweetness of the cream, mixed with the comforting oatmeal flavor of the surrounding cookie.

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  • Frosted Animal Crackers: As a child, I truly loved these, feeling as though the frosting on the animal cracker made all the difference. Whenever I see them in the store, it reminds of me being a child, relaxing on the sofa while watching my favorite Nickelodeon TV shows.

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  • Handi-Snacks: Remember these? Those little, rectangular containers containing  little breadsticks or pretzel sticks with cheese? Nowadays they are still available, but in many different varieties – i.e. some with Oreos, and a multitude of other dippers and dips.

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  • Pepperidge Farm “Butterfly Crackers:” Whenever I see or think of these buttery butterfly crackers, I always think of my mom. She and I used to share them when I was a child, as the ideal accompaniment to soup or really, whatever we happened to be enjoying at that moment.

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  • Pizza Hut’s “Pan Pizza:In general, as a child, Italian food was always one of my favorite types of foods to enjoy.  Several Saturdays throughout the year, I would excitedly receive a free Pizza Hut Pan Pizza from the school “Book-It” program, as a reward for reading a certain number of books during the month; a great incentive for an enjoyable meal.

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  • Little Caesar’s Pizza: Sadly, Little Caeasar’s is no longer available near where I live, but I’ll always remember it as one of my favorites to have on the weekends.

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  • Friendly’s Conehead Sundae & Mac ‘N Cheese: As a child, one of my favorite restaurants to frequent was Friendly’s. Not only did I love it for their dessert – in particular, a Conehead (i.e. a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a sugar cone dipped in chocolate – “the cone” with Reese’s Pieces as the eyes), and for my meal, Mac ‘n Cheese – filled with cheesy decadence, strangely enough served with pickle chips on the side!)

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  • Life Cereal: In the mornings as a child, I would pile my bowl high with Life cereal until it was nearly overflowing! Not only did I enjoy it in the morning, as breakfast, but also sometimes as a snack, toting around my little baggie filled with the small brown squares, happily munching.

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  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares: This is one cereal upon growing up that once I began munching on was difficult to stop. It has a subtle sweetness, while being savory at the time.

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Next Category…

TV SHOWS:

Overall, television and I can sometimes have a love-hate relationship. Sometimes, I’m a big fan of watching a whole host of shows, while other times, I find it boring and lonely. Regardless, TV shows have shaped and significantly impacted my life, looking back on my childhood and adolescent years:

  • MTV’s Total Request Live – AKA “TRL“: If you’re similar to me, rushing home to watch TRL after school, each afternoon was on your list of daily highlights and must-do’s. I can fondly recall spending many afternoons, seated at the kitchen table with Hope, as we completed our homework, enjoying snacks together, singing along to our favorite videos while glued to the TV screen. Watching TRL, Carson Daly (and oddly enough, if you remember him, the VJ Jesse – long hair, long legs, kind of awkward?) nearly became like a friend, someone we could rely on each day to bring us our favorite stars, songs and videos. Fun story – years ago, (I believe I was in middle school at the time and Hope in high school), my family and I  ventured to NYC, with Hope and I eager to catch a glimpse of Carson Daly and the MTV studios and perhaps even get to request a video on air! Well, much to our delight and surprise, Hope managed to make it on-air, requesting her favorite video –  a 98 Degrees song! It was quite humorous actually, given it happened near the end of August, when I started back at school a month later, Hope came to pick me up one day and I had several people (whom I didn’t even know) coming up to her, saying they saw her on TRL! Looking back, there are such fond memories of this show and this time period.

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  • Full House: Honestly, I highly doubt I’ll ever get sick of watching this show, no matter how many times I see it or see the same episodes over and over. Despite owning each season, I just HAVE to watch it if I happen to see it is on TV, while I’m flipping channels. There is something comforting about it, despite how unrealistic at times it could be. I still hope they do a reunion special someday, I think it would be ideal and definitely fun to watch!)

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  • Saved By the Bell: Another one of my favorites I doubt I could really ever tire of and similar to Full House, despite owning each season, I STILL love to watch it whenever it happens to be on TV. Nowadays, it seems more rare to catch an episode of Saved By the Bell on TV, so when I do, I will without question, be watching! I also LOVED watching the special – Saved By the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas! (When it fired aired, Hope and I taped it and I truly believe I completely burnt out the VHS tape!)

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  • Eureka’s Castle: If you used to regularly watch Nickelodeon as I did, you might recall this show, with the Count, Eureka, and all of their friends.)

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  • David the Gnome: Also, on Nickelodeon, this was one of my favorites to watch, David and Swift, as they conquered the world.

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  • 7th Heaven: The first time I saw this show on the WB channel, it was completely by chance. It was a Monday evening, when I was in the third grade and my mom and I were flipping channels, unsure of what to watch that particular night. We just so happened to stumble across 7th Heaven and we immediately became hooked. It was almost as though it was the modern-day version of Full House, with a little more realism and drama. Looking back, I really do miss this show.

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DANCES:

Oh how I used to LOVE the many different line dances and dance moves of my childhood and teenage years:

  • The Macarena: Looking back, I can still recall first learning it as a 2nd grader, at recess on the blacktop, alongside my friends and teachers, all of us trying to “outdo” each other.

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  • Cotton-Eyed Joe: As a preteen, I first learned this dance at one of the many dances I attended in middle school and also the cast party of some of the school shows I was in. At first, it was a challenge for me to learn it, as I am not really the best dancer, but since learning it, I haven’t stopped doing it any chance I get! Today, I still love this dance and really “boogied on down” at my sister’s wedding last August!

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  • Electric-Slide & “Cha-Cha” Slide: I’ve never been a real big fan of the original electric slide, however I am a fan of the Cha-Cha Slide, which strangely enough my sister and I ended up first learning and becoming acquainted with it while on vacation in the Bahamas, when I was 13 and she was 17.

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BANDS/MUSIC:

Yes, I’ll be the first to admit it, in my younger years, I was a TOTAL teenybopper! To the fullest extent, I LOVED all the classic boy bands and actually attended several of their concerts alongside my friends, sister and even Mom.

  • ‘N Sync: For those of you who are familiar with Philadelphia, I actually attended their large concert as a teenager, back when Veterans Stadium was still around.  I still recall it as one of the best concerts I’ve been to, even though our seats were way up at the top. It was the experience that made it the most memorable. Plus, one of my other favorite boy bands – BBMak opened for them!

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  • LFO: Ahh, who can forget “Summer Girls?” I think the year it came out, it was the soundtrack of the summer. Of course, I am saddened of the lead singer, Rich Cronin’s tragic death to cancer.)

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  • BBMAK: Such a cute band, with great voices and now as I look back, I’m wondering, what happened to them?! If anyone reading this happens to know please fill me in; I’m curious!)

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  • 98 Degrees: While one of my favorites, it was my sister, Hope’s all-time favorite!  She couldn’t get enough of Jeff Timmons and as a fun fact to share with you, back when I was 18 or 19, I ended up purchasing a pair of tickets for she and I to go see Jeff Timmons and Jordan Knight, from New Kids on the Block perform at the BB King Club in NYC! What an experience, Hope even got to dance ON-STAGE with Mr. Timmons, himself!)

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  • Destiny’s Child: They are my girls! I can fondly recall first hearing their song, “Say My Name.” After hearing it, I was hooked! I remember one day, dragging my dad to Best Buy, begging him to buy me their CD. After that, they were secured as my favorite girl group. My sister and I saw them perform several times at a relatively local fair a couple summers in a row, but I’ve never gotten the chance to see Beyonce perform individually. I would definitely love to someday soon!)

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  • Backstreet Boys: Also one of my favorites as a child and a teen, I remember first hearing their music while my mom drove me to elementary school. After first hearing it, it was off to the music store called, “The Wall,” to buy their single! They’ll always be one of my favorites; they have such immense talent and I have so many fond memories upon thinking of them. Several summers ago, Hope and I ended up seeing them on the spur of the moment for free! It was a great show and one of my favorites!

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  • Christina Aguilera: Truly one of the best female performers/singers of our time, I remember when “Genie in a Bottle,” first sounded on the radio, I loved it. It was a song I recorded myself singing several times, as I aspired to sing like her (key word – “try”… unsuccessfully, of course, but all in good fun!).

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  • Britney Spears: Alright, whether you’re a fan or not, I had to mention her! Who can forget when her first single appeared on MTV’s TRL – “Baby One More Time?” It was a fun video to watch and one that was probably played and mimicked many times over. In fact, I actually dressed as Britney Spears for Halloween one year I had a Halloween Party! Very interesting time to recall, to say the least!)

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So there you have it, my little “Blast From the Past!

QUESTION: What are some of your favorites from your childhood and/or teenage years?