Sips from the Farm: Hydrate the Califia Way

Good Morning! I hope your Wednesday is off to a pleasant start! If you’re like me, one of my favorite meals is breakfast. When I was much younger, (think middle through high school years), I was not a breakfast-eater by any means. In the mornings, I was cranky, tired and eager to return to sleep and therefore eating a healthy breakfast was the furthest thing from my mind (of course, I often regretted this mid-day when I was ravenous and gobbling crackers, etc). That being said, nowadays, breakfast each morning is a staple and one I look forward to! Complete with a steaming mug of coffee and a banana, I tend to rotate my morning meal between cereal (a various assortment of types for variety and flavor!) with milk or yogurt (either non-fat Greek or nonfat traditional style).

Choosing the type of milk I add to my cereal and/or cook/bake with is one that can be rather involved, or at least one that requires some choice and thought. On any given day, a trip to the grocery store dairy department affords shoppers with a plethora of milk options. There is everything from traditional dairy (i.e. cow’s milk), coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, combinations of almond-coconut or almond-cashew, and the list continues. Not only are there different flavors and types, but also an extensive brand list.

A couple months ago, while browsing the dairy department at my local grocery store, a uniquely-shaped, sleek, long-necked bottle caught my eye, reeling me in. Within minutes, I was opening the glass door, removing the intriguing bottle from the case. I was pleased to see it was almond milk (though there was an array of other types, as well) by the brand, Califia Farms. It was a brand I’d never heard of before, but given the claims imprinted on the bottle (unsweetened, non-GMO, environmentally-friendly, etc), I was sold and placed the bottle in my shopping cart, eager to return home to try it!

Califia Farms Logo                Califia Farms Almond Milk

Soon after trying it in my cereal bowl, the Califia Farms line of milks were instantly added to my milk repertoire, making a point to place it in my cart the next time I shop. With a vast array of product lines and offerings, each experience with Califia Farms is bound to be a unique and exciting one!  Thus, as I began to try more Califia Farms‘ products, I was thrilled beyond belief to be provided with the unique opportunity to sample one of their new holiday beverages (other holiday options includes: Peppermint Mocha, Holiday Nog, etc) – Pumpkin Spice Latte made with almond milk! As one of the biggest pumpkin fans around, their new Pumpkin Spice Latte combines nearly all my favorites; pumpkin, coffee, and almond milk! It is truly a one healthy treat in a cup! Plus, it is naturally-sweetened, low-calorie and refreshing. Upon trying it, I was instantly delighted, envisioning all I would enjoy it with (on its own as a refreshing, hydrating beverage, cooked into oatmeal for subtle pumpkin-java notes, added to smoothies, milkshakes – the possibilities are truly endless!). Plus, the flavor of pumpkin truly shines through with a subtle sweetness. It is a taste of the holidays in a glass! 

Califia Farms Holiday Drinks

As a brand, Califia Farms (www.califiafarms.com) is dedicated towards the community and it’s customers, operating as a transparent company who is honest in their practices and geared towards providing healthy, nourishing beverages. They are consistently active on several forms of social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter – @CalifiaFarms, Pinterest, Instagram and also maintain their own blog- http://www.califiafarms.com/blog/ where they publish recipes featuring their products!).

Califia Farms Logo 2

Company Background: (accessed via http://www.califiafarms.com)

  • A grower-owned company based in San Joaquin Valley, California, according to their official website (www.califiafarms.com), Califia Farms was founded by Greg Steltenpohl, with a goal of “creating the most remarkable company of the future, powered by plants.”
  • The unique name, Califia Farms, comes from the warrior queen, Califia, who ruled over California, as an earth goddess, storyteller and mother. The warrior queen is identified as an icon of California’s “heritage and healthful bounty.”
  • 100% of coffee in their beverages is grown on Rainforest Alliance Certified Farms (meaning farmers follow more sustainable agricultural practices, protecting forests, rivers, soils and wildlife. Workers are also afforded respectable/better wages and living conditions)
  • Community Oriented – Supports Xerces Society to support Bee Biodiversity; works with BOXSMART to reduce waste and recycle up to 20,000 lbs of paper per month.
  • All cartons of Califia Farms‘ products are 100% recyclable, so not only can you feel good about what you’re drinking, but you can also help in keeping the environment beautiful!

Califia Farms CEO      Dairy Free symbol

General Califia Farms‘ Product Information/Facts:

  • All products are non-GMO, with forthcoming plans for organic versions, as well.
  • Products are acceptable for cooking and can be used in identical ways as cow’s milk.
  • All are Gluten-Free.
  • 50% more calcium than cow’s milk (added by calcium carbonate)
  • Fresh for 7-10 days within opening.
  • Califia Farmsjuices are freshly-squeezed and bottled at their own juice plant.
  • Sweeteners used = pure cane sugar and/or monk fruit concentrate.
  • By the end of 2015, Califia Farms will have an entire carrageenan-free portfolio.

Califia Farms Almond Milks:

Califia Farms Horchata   Califia Farms Almond Milk

  • Unsweetened
  • Vanilla
  • Unsweetened Vanilla
  • Original
  • Coconut Almond Milk
  • Chocolate Coconut Almond Milk
  • Barista Blend (coffee-creamer)
  • Classic Cinnamon Horchata (new)
  • Vanilla Coconut Horchata (new)
  • Holiday Nog (new)

Califia Farms Single Serve Versions:

Califia Farms Single Serve

  • Vanilla Protein
  • Chocolate Protein
  • Chocolate Almond Milk
  • Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Unsweetened Almond Milk

Califia Farms Coffee Creamers:

Califia Farms Creamers

  • Original Almond Milk
  • Pecan Caramel
  • Hazelnut
  • Vanilla

Califia Farms Cold Brew Coffees:

Califia Farms Iced Coffee

  • Peppermint Mocha (new/seasonal)
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte (new/seasonal)
  • Concentrated Cold Brew (new)
  • Cafe Latte
  • Double Espresso
  • Mocha
  • Salted Caramel
  • XX Espresso
  • Mocha Mexica (new, single serve)
  • Dirty Chai (new, single serve)
  • Triple Shot (new, single serve)
  • Cocoa Noir

Califia Farms Aqua Fresca (fruit drinks):

Califia Farms Aqua Fresca

  • Cranberry Cocktail (new, seasonal)
  • Mango Chili Lime (new)
  • Pineapple Ginger (new)
  • Watermelon Ginger Lime
  • Strawberry Basil
  • Kiwi Cactus Lemonade

Califia Farms Citrus Juice:

Califia Farms Juices

  • Tart Cherry Lemonade
  • Lemon Limeade
  • Lemonade
  • Orange Juice
  • Tangerine
  • Limeade

So, there you have it! With an extensive product line, Califia Farms truly offers a beverage for everyone! To find out where Califia Farms is offered nearest you, be sure to check out their store locator via their website (califiafarms.com/store-locator). Happy Sipping!

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A “Sparkling” Sip!

Good Morning! A bit of time has passed since I last posted, but I’ve been keeping myself busy, trying my best to soak up the early days of summer and heal myself from the brief cold I acquired. Given the warmth and humidity lately, it’s been imperative for everyone to stay hydrated, not to mention, this time of year, I seem to crave a refreshing beverage! Thankfully, over the recent weeks, I became acquainted with a sparkling flavored water (plus other varieties!) that I absolutely love! Much to my delight, I was provided with the opportunity to sample four flavors (plus, I’ve purchased other varieties on my own!) and am here today to introduce you the beverage I’m referring to – SPARKLING ICE!

Sparkling Ice Logo

SPARKLING ICE Background Information: (via sparklingice.com)

  • Sparkling Ice was created in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1990’s.
  • The beverages of Sparkling Ice combine naturally sweetened flavored sparkling water, vitamins, antioxidants, and natural fruit juices (i.e. Vitamins D, B3, B6, B12, Biotin, B5 and Green Tea Extract)
  • The sweetener utilized in Sparkling Ice beverages is sucralose (brand name: Splenda).
  • The brand is regarded as the fastest-growing non-alcoholic beverage brand in the country!
  • Beverages are offered in a slim, easy-to-carry 17fl oz bottle and are typically offered at around $1 or slightly above in numerous stores, nationwide.
  • Zero Calories, Zero Carbs, Zero Sugar!
  • Introduced their newest product line, Sparkling Iced Teas in 2015!
  • Active Social Media Presence: Check out Sparkling Ice via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!

SPARKLING ICE Product Lines: (i.e. Flavored Sparkling Waters – 11 flavors, Sparkling Lemonades – 6 flavors, Sparkling Iced Teas – 3 flavors)

  • Flavored Sparkling Water Flavors: black raspberry, cherry limeade, strawberry-watermelon, peach-nectarine, orange-mango, coconut-pineapple, crisp apple, lemon-lime, kiwi-strawberry, pink grapefruit, pomegranate-blueberry.

Sparkling Ice

  • Sparkling Lemonades Flavors: strawberry lemonade, raspberry-lemonade, classic lemonade, peach lemonade, mango lemonade, lemonade tea.

Sparkling Ice Lemonade

  • Sparkling Iced Teas Flavors: raspberry tea, lemon tea, peach tea (21 mg of caffeine per bottle)

Sparkling Ice Tea

My Review:

As I mentioned, I was generously provided with 4 flavors of Sparkling Ice to sample and review! I was delighted when they arrived on my doorstep, given how refreshing I know them to be and eager to sample the flavors. First up on my sampling endeavor was…

  • Strawberry Lemonade Sparkling Water:

Sparkling Ice Strawberry Lemonade

My initial reaction to receiving and seeing this flavor was pure happiness and intrigue! For a number of years, I have been a dedicated fan of real strawberry lemonade, so I was overjoyed to see this flavor offered as a sparkling water, with absolutely no calories, PLUS, nourishing vitamins and sweet flavors! At first sip, I was greeted with a clean sweet flavor, lightly carbonated and bubbly, reminding me of the real strawberry lemonade with a less tart flavor. The familiar sweetness of the strawberry truly shined through and left me wanting more. I had to stop myself from enjoying the entire bottle in one sitting, wanting to savor every last bit! Definitely a winner, in my opinion!

  • Black Raspberry Sparkling Water:

Black Raspberry Sparkling Ice

Let me preface my reaction to this flavor by saying, since childhood, I’ve been a huge fan of the chewy raspberry-flavored candy, Swedish Fish, so this flavor of Sparkling Ice was right up my alley! At first sip, I was greeted with a sweet, familiar-tasting raspberry flavor, leaving me feeling as though I was enjoying my favorite chewy candy! It was both sweet and refreshing, again with the light carbonation I often crave (I confess, I am a big fan of Diet Soda, so the carbonation in Sparkling Ice is VERY appealing to me!). I like that with these sparkling waters, I am getting both the sweetness and carbonation I know and love, but in a much healthier manner (given the vitamins instilled in the beverages and the fact that it is sugar, carb and calorie-free!). Needless to say, I will definitely be enjoying this particular flavor in the near future!

  • Peach Lemonade:

Peach Lemonade Sparkling Ice

Generally, I am a big fan of lemonades, as I previously mentioned, so my expectations were high for this particular flavor and though it provided the sweetness and carbonation I like, it wasn’t my particular favorite. That said, it was still vastly palatable, but not a flavor I would first choose if given the option. Still, I was grateful for the opportunity to sample it. The peach flavor itself, though, tasted sweet and reminiscent of the actual fruit and was an ideal flavor for the summer, given it’s rampant appearance in stores and farmer’s markets throughout the country.

  • Raspberry Iced Tea Sparkling Ice:

Raspberry Iced Tea Sparkling Ice

The last flavor I was provided with was from Sparkling Ice’s newest line for 2015, Raspberry Iced Tea! I was curious and intrigued about this flavor and about the product line in general. At first sip, the flavor was unique and reminiscent of actual iced tea, but with the carbonation and sweetness Sparkling Ice is traditionally noted for. It was a light raspberry flavor that was refreshing and easy to sip on. It was a unique and different change from the traditional iced teas I’m used to and one I could definitely stand to enjoy again soon!

SPARKLING ICE Contest:

Sparkling Ice Contest

  • If you’re as into Sparkling Ice and contests as I am, then you’ll definitely want to enter the contest Sparkling Ice is currently running! Be sure to visit http://www.sparklingice.com/flavorfaceoff to register for your chance to be the face of your favorite flavor and get a year of Sparkling Ice FREE!
  • FREE BOTTLE of SPARKLING ICE: Plus, just for entering, you’ll be emailed a coupon entitling you to a completely FREE bottle of Sparkling Ice (up to a $1.50 value!). Now that is definitely something sweet to sip on!

*Thanks so much to the team at Sparkling Ice for providing me with this exciting and generous opportunity to sample the flavors! It was very much appreciated and enjoyed!

Refresh Naturally: ZEVIA Soda GIVEAWAY!

Good morning, my friends! It’s Wednesday, which means, it’s mid-week and in the world of Melissa’s Morning Musings, it also means, it is FINALLY time for my very first GIVEAWAY, courtesy of my friends over at a company I love – ZEVIA Soda! I recently had the opportunity to try a 6-pack of ZEVIA and absolutely loved the unique, satisfying and hydrating flavor!  However, not to keep you in anticipation, but before I share with you the logistics of the giveaway and some knowledge about ZEVIA, let’s catch up a bit. I hope the rest of your Monday and all of Tuesday went well! Last night was a fun one, filled with an impromptu baking session with my sister, Hope! In our baking adventure, we crafted Cinnamon Toast Crunch muffins, as well as Blueberry Muffins! Our creations turned out as we hoped and we also had the chance to catch up, relax and watch two of our favorite shows – “The Chew,” and “Full House.” Also, I had the opportunity to watch and learn about the show, “Cake Boss.” Now, before I hold you in suspense any longer, let’s quickly recap my morning eats:

Breakfast (Wednesday, July 31, 2013):

1 container Aldi-brand Apple Turnover Yogurt: (Are you familiar with the grocery store Aldi? If you’re not, it is a much smaller scaled store – think the size of Trader Joe’s or even slightly smaller, with some name brands, but mainly store brand, or smaller-sized companies. In my opinion, their products are high quality and of optimal taste. They have a wide variety and also, an excellent selection of produce! Their prices are phenomenal in my opinion! For example, cantaloupes which can range up to $3 or more in the mainstream stores, are typically about $1.60 or so. Containers of strawberries can be anywhere from .99 to $1.50! Definitely check it out if you haven’t already. Plus, since today is Wednesday, that means their new sale JUST started TODAY!)

1 cup Special K Multigrain Flakes: (Always a tried and true cereal, I’m approaching the end of yet another box, but no worries, another one is awaiting on the horizon in the cabinet!)

1 cup Barbara’s Bakery Peanut Butter & Chocolate Puffins (A tasty variety of Puffins, but I don’t think I would buy again. I prefer the classic or Multigrain version of Puffins.)

1 Banana (I’m still doing well with the bananas! No complaints here, only sweet and ripe ones, just the way I like it!)

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Now without further adieu, allow me to introduce:

ZEVIA GIVEAWAY: My First Giveaway!

Ahh, how excited am I to bring to you, my very first giveaway as a blogger?! What better than to provide 5 of you, yes 5 of you, with the unique opportunity to sample one of my favorite, HEALTHY beverages and a SODA, at that?! Yes, before you shy away from entering if you are not soda drinker, allow me to fill you in on this HEALTHY, NATURALLY-SWEETENED SODA!

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ZEVIA (Zero-Calorie, Naturally-Sweetened with Stevia Soda):

Website: http://www.zevia.com

Social Media: As an innovative and evolving company, Zevia maintains a heavy and active social media presence, encouraging fans and new visitors to interact with them, often offering printable coupons, contests, giveaways and fun trivia as well!

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Serving Suggestions: On the official ZEVIA website, they offer several recommendations for serving and consumption, in order to encourage optimal taste for consumers

  • Prior to serving or consuming ZEVIA, keep it cold! The company states, the colder, the better!
  • If you feel comfortable, the company also encourages consumers to drink it out of the can, as it can get warm and flat in a cup!

Available Flavors: Unique from many other no-calorie beverages, ZEVIA offers a whole host of different flavors (15 and counting!) catering to tastebuds of all kinds! While you’ll find some traditional flavors, as well, the stars are often the ones unique to the company:

  • Cola
  • Lemon-Lime Twist
  • Grapefruit Citrus
  • Strawberry
  • Grape (my favorite!)
  • Cherry Cola
  • Ginger Ale
  • Ginger Root Beer
  • Black Cherry
  • Cream Soda
  • Lime
  • Mountain
  • Caffeine-Free Cola
  • Orange
  • Dr. Zevia

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About Zevia: (As stated on ZEVIA.com)

  • In 2007, the world was introduced to ZEVIA in Seattle, Washington (Cola, Lemon-Lime Twist, and Orange soda as the introductory flavors)
  • Soon after, Ginger Root Beer, Black Cherry and Ginger Ale were brought to stores, as well.
  • In 2009, Dr. Zevia arrived on the market.
  • Relocating from Seattle Washington, ZEVIA makes its headquarters in Los Angeles, California.
  • In the ZEVIA world, 2011 was a pivotal year as they introduce 5 new flavorsCream Soda, Grape, Grapefruit Citrus, Caffeine-Free Cola, and Mountain Zevia.
  • In 2012, Strawberry, Lime and Cherry Cola were proudly introduced.

What IS ZEVIA? (Zevia.com/stevia shares this knowledge I present you with, below):

  • ZEVIA is a soda, which is naturally-sweetened with Steviasmall shrub that is a member of Asteraceae family of plants, more commonly referred to as the “sunflower family.” The scientific name for stevia is stevia rebaudiana.
  • All Zevia’s stevia is grown right here, in the United States at Sweet Green Fields (SGF).
  • With ZEVIA Soda, you can feel secure in consuming if you are wary of additional calories from beverages, diabetic, or simply want to consume a beverage with flavor which is still healthy. To provide you with additional reassurance, ZEVIA.com states, “Stevia Extract has a sweetness of between 250 to 350 times that of an equal weight of sugar but with no calories and no effect on blood glucose levels!”

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Is it SAFE? (With all of the claims questioning the safety of artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, Sweet & Low, Equal, aspartame, etc, you can feel safe with consuming ZEVIA):

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies Stevia extract as SAFE for consumption since December 2008.
  • Unlike other sweeteners, Stevia extract is not found to adversely affect the GI tract (so your bellies can rest easy and you can stay healthily hydrated!)

Where Can I Buy It? (Intrigued? Want to sample it for yourself Well, first off, ENTER MY GIVEAWAY! Also, though, there are numerous stores selling ZEVIA, plus you can always purchase it online!)

  • Consult zevia.com/get-zevia
  • Whole Foods
  • Hannaford
  • Wegmans
  • Giant Foods
  • Safeway
  • Acme
  • Albertsons
  • Ralph’s
  • Raley’s
  • Cub Foods
  • Walgreens
  • Price Chopper
  • HEB
  • Fred Meyer
  • Target (select Targets; check first)
  • Plus LOTS of others!

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Of course, naturally, there is MUCH, MUCH more I could share with you about ZEVIA, but I’d rather let 5 of you, sample it for yourselves (you’ll receive a voucher for a FREE Six-Pack! Here’s how to enter my very special ZEVIA GIVEAWAY:

  • MANDATORY ENTRY: Leave a comment sharing with me which ZEVIA flavor you’d most like to try, or if you’ve been fortunate enough to have tried ZEVIA already, tell me what your favorite flavor is!
  • For an ADDITIONAL ENTRY: Share with me a flavor you think would be a great ZEVIA soda!
  • ENTRY TIME: You have until SUNDAY, AUGUST 4, 2013, at the end of the evening to ENTER!

So, what are you waiting for?! ENTER, ENTER, ENTER! Have fun and cheers!