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Frying an Egg on a Salt Block

3 Apr

We like salt in this house. A lot.

And we like experimenting with random food things that probably have no good purpose taking up shelf space in our small NYC apartment.

But hell… why not?

So when my awesome sister got Mike and me a Himalayan Salt Block, we were excited.

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What is a Himalayan Pink Salt Block?  It’s a big block of pink salt.  OOOOOOOO!

It also allows you to serve thinly sliced fruits, cheeses, etc on a pretty salt platter that adds a hint of saltiness, and, MUCH COOLER, the ability to heat it up and then cook food directly on it.

The rules… heat it slowly so it doesn’t crack, and get it to a high enough temperature that you can cook on.  You are supposed to put your hand over it and when you can’t keep it there for more than a few seconds, it’s hot enough.  We heated it for the requested period of time but the hand test proved that it wasn’t hot enough.  So we heated for another… hour… and it still really wasn’t hot enough according to our hands.  But… away we went.

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We decided to go with breakfast, and we had some pancetta just sitting around, so we tried it.  After a good amount of time, we realized it wasn’t going to heat it enough to make me feel confident about not eating raw pork, so we finished it in the pan.

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Next try?  Eggs!  We left the pancetta grease on there to add some flavor, cracked an egg into a small bowl, and got ready to fry an egg on a salt block.

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I would have a picture of what happened next… but when an egg flows off the block, off the catch pan below, and onto the stove and into a flame… the camera gets thrown to the side.

20 minutes of scrambling to clean up later, we decided we needed a way to contain the egg… so I went through the cabinet and decided the outside rim of a tart pan would be the right size of containment without foregoing too much surface area.

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Once the whites were sufficiently cooked, we removed the ring to allow it to cook up the yolk a little more.  It took… a very long time.

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And still could have probably been a bit more “done,” but I do love my runny yolk!

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When we tried to do more than 1 at a time, it got a little messy, but the ring worked at least!

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Conclusion?  Fun to play with, but probably not very useful.  It didn’t really add the saltiness we were hoping for to the egg and it was a bitch and a half to contain and to clean.

I think very thinly sliced pieces of fish or meat will work much better, and no more playing with things that run all over the place.

I am happy to have a much cooler version of a cheese plate though!  (And a huge paperweight)

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Godiva Coffee Sampling

13 Dec

This post is long past due.  I was selected as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program to receive 2 bags of Godiva coffee for free.  I was actually so excited about this one, that I even did my own little photo shoot (thank you to Great Grandma for the awesome scale I inherited).

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I received a bag each of Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Pecan Bark.  Both are awesome.  They are packed with flavor and taste indulgent.  I really loved the Pumpkin Spice since I think cinnamon is awesome in coffee (Mike, who is not a cinnamon fan, also wasn’t a huge fan of this).  The Caramel Pecan Bark, however, is SOOOOO good and we both loved it.  It was smooth and silky and reminded me of when I used to drop a chocolate truffle into a cup of coffee and let it melt.  Mmm Mmm Mmm

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Thank you Godiva!

Mushroom Growing – NYC Style

1 Dec

It took me a long time to like mushrooms, but once I found their virtues, I was hooked.  I would now classify them as one of my favorite foods.  I also grew up with a dad that took me to things like “Fungus Fest,” so I guess it is not a shocker that I got all excited when my “Back to the Roots” grow-your-own mushroom box came in the mail (thank you OpenSky).  I would love to grow things like herbs, however, I live in a NYC apartment with no outdoor space and little light… so… mushrooms it is.

It comes in a box with a fully seeded (spored?) bag of mushrooms.  You cut slits in the bag and then soak it for 24 hours.  Then you put it in a box, in a window with a little light (but not direct), and then spritz it with water (a spray bottle comes with the kit) in the morning and at night.

After about 5 days… we started seeing a glimpse of little mushrooms poking out.

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And then a day later, there were more.

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And within 10 days of starting the pack, we had a mushroom forest on our hands!

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We actually wound up leaving them a few days too long and they got a little dried out, but after harvesting them (you just pluck them right off), we soaked them in water and they were plump and delicious in about an hour.

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We used them in a veggie and chicken stirfry and they were delicious.

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Next time I hope to use them in a dish all their own to highlight them (their flavor got a little lost in the stir fry).

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So I turned the kit around to the other side and already we have a new little crop.  They expect 3-4 growths out of each package… which is super awesome.

Birds Eye Samples

13 Sep

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a few free samples of the new Birds Eye Chef’s Favorites frozen sides.  I am unable to take part in many Tastemaker programs because they send coupons and I, sadly, don’t live near a grocery store and get almost all my groceries from FreshDirect.  So I was SO excited when they sent me a box of the actual product to try.

Over the past few weeks, we have found multiple reasons to use them as a great side for proteins that we were cooking.

We first tried the mushroom and green bean risotto.

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It was a creamier version of rice, but I’m not sure if I would call it “risotto.”  It did taste quite good, however, and I especially liked the amount of flavor in the green beans. (I always worry about frozen veggies tasting like water)

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We paired with with tequila lime shrimp and some sautéed spinach with shallots.

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Next we tried the roasted red potatoes and green beans with parmesan olive oil sauce. 

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This one we heated in a pot instead of in the microwave.  Just as easy (just dirties a pot, of course).

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This was my favorite of the bunch. The potatoes were well cooked (not too mushy, not too tough) and the green beans were as good as the ones in the risotto. Yum!

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We paired this with an awesome butter poached baked chicken and they went very well together.

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We also tried the creamed spinach (which was so good that I didn’t even realize it came from a frozen bag until Mike told me).  Separately, I was enjoying these so much that I ordered  the Specially Seasoned Garlic Baby Peas and Mushrooms from Fresh Direct.

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Perhaps I’m a garlic snob, but these were not nearly garlicky enough for me.  They just kind of tasted like frozen peas and mushrooms.  I found this one also needed salt more than the others.

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I think the Chef’s Favorites are really the way to go with Birds Eye.  They are perfect “afterthought” sides because they heated up in just a few minutes, so you don’t need to plan too much to use them.  Since I find myself concentrating more on proteins than sides, this was a perfect way to make an easy meal. I was impressed with the flavor and quality, and will be buying these again (hey FreshDirect… please add these to your product list!)

(While I did receive these samples for free, I was not at all required to blog about them, nor provide a positive review accordingly.  All opinions are expressly mine and reflect my honest take on the product.)

My Very Own Cookbook Has Arrived!

27 Aug

Thanks to Foodbuzz, I received a free photo book from Kodak Photo Gallery.  I posted about it first here.  I was thrilled when just 4 days later, it was at my door!

I chose to do a cookbook, but from there, I was stumped.  I cannot thank Mike enough for helping me put this together.  It’s a lovely hard cover book that I didn’t get a good picture of, but trust me, it’s just so pretty!  Here is the cover…

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Page One (with Grandma’s Meringue and Brownies to open the book).

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The last page is my favorite mock ice cream made with frozen bananas.

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I usually have to flip through my blog or through my hard copy recipes to cook from, so it will be so nice to have this book to reference on the spot.

If you want to make your very own photo book (or cook book), you have just 5 more days to get 40% off a medium hardcover or a large Photo Book. Go to www.kodakgallery.com/creativity to redeem.

Happy Nomming!

Artichokes and Truffles Sauce: Gilt Taste

1 Aug

 

 

I have been shopping with Gilt for a while.  They have some great (and some not so great) deals on fashion and home goods.  They used to be a bit too pricey all the time, however, they have lowered prices and now have designers making (sometimes less quality) goods right for them.  You need to be smart in what you buy and do your research to make sure you’re really getting a good deal, but I have found some EXCELLENT items.

I was excited when they announced a new division: Gilt Taste.  It’s goal was to focus on foodie type items.  It reminds me of an upscale food market.  I love browsing through it, but I can’t say that many things have caught my eye to say “I need to buy this now!”  Impulse shopping for food items is not something I do in the same way that I do for, say, shoes.  (I will definitely be shopping there for my next dinner party, however!) But right in the beginning, one thing caught my eye.  I didn’t say anything, so imagine my surprise when Mike said he had a surprise for me and placed in my hand, this…

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Artichokes and Truffles sauce!  Two of my very favorite things, in one can.

We decided to make a scampi type dish with is with fresh pasta, scallops, and shrimp.

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It was delicious!   I was hoping for a bit more pop of truffle flavor, but it was delicious and such an easy way to make a gourmet style  meal.

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YUM!

If you want to sign up for Gilt Taste, check out this link.  I’m currently eyeing a cured meats sampler and a gourmet sea salt!

 

 

Juicin’ with Cooler Cleanse

15 Jul

I like food.  And I really like to chew my food.  So how I wound up here… on day one of a Juice Cleanse… I’m still not sure.  But since I have committed to blogging about all I eat, even if it’s through a straw, I will be recording my adventure here.

I am highly skeptical of things like Juice Cleanses.  The body works well on its own, so why tinker with it? I am also probably an awful candidate for this because I am prone to blood sugar issues and migraines.  Somehow… I talked myself into trying it.  Let’s say it’s for research purposes!

So first, why am I giving up chewing for 3 full days?  Full transparency: I have been trying to lose weight for quite some time (I guess I REALLY like food).  I went on Weight Watchers and was thrilled as 18 pounds came off in a little under 5 months… but a year later, the 18 had come back on… plus a lot more… EEK.  I need to kick my own ass to get better about this and lose the weight. Because I need to be healthy, and my joints really like it.  It would also be nice to be able to wear half the things in my closet again… but let’s focus on health for now.

Also, I needed a reset.  I needed something to help me dedicate myself to eating less.  I had been debating a juice cleanse for some time, so when I saw that Gilt City was offering a deal on Cooler Cleanse ($104 for 3 days… it’s usually $58 per day), I figured “What the hell!”  3 weeks later, here I am.

Cooler Cleanse gives you 6 juices per day, which you are supposed to drink, in order, about every 2 hours throughout the day. (For more info about each juice, the order, and the science for the 3-day cleanse I’m doing, check their site here).  I have read that Cooler Cleanse was developed by (with?) Salma Hayek. Everyone loves a celebrity endorsement.


(image courtesy of CoolerCleanse.com)

There are a lot of unproven “facts” that come along with cleansing, and while I have no idea what is a real fact and what is a fictional fact, I do think that giving my body some time to eat less calories, filled with good nutrients can potentially help.  My concern is if I can stand not to chew for 3 days.

So I figured I’d record this for any else who is considering:

Day 1 (Tuesday):

  • 8am- Cooler Cleanse delivery guy shows up right on time.  I am rewarded with a (very heavy) bag of 3 separate coolers, each with 6 juices.  (It was at this point that I stopped kicking myself for paying the extra $15 to have the juices delivered.  While they have a pickup location a few blocks away, I know myself well enough to know that I probably never would have gone to pick them up, and if I did make it, it was far too heavy for me to schlep home.)  I unpack 2 of the coolers into the fridge (and while excited to have 3 new lunch bags… I question if the amount of use they will get is worth the storage space) and put the other one by the door to take to the office.
  • 9am- Crack open Juice #1 at my desk.  It is called “Essential Green” and contains cucumber, celery, parsley, spinach, kale, dandelion greens, watercress, pear, lemon, and ginger.  First sip is tough. It’s a bit bitter and I debate whether Truvia is REALLY considered sugar in this case.  I opt against the sweetener (I can do this!) and slowly sip (as instructed) #1 over the next 30 minutes or so.  By the end of the bottle I’m realizing that it wasn’t so bad afterall.
  • 10am- I look up at my clock assuming 2 hours have gone by and it’s time for my next juice.  I’m not hungry, per se, but I’m looking forward to 11am.
  • 11am- #2 is Grapefruit and Mint.  It really is just grapefruit and mint… it’s very citrusy with a small splash of mint.  It’s tasty and refreshing… especially during this heat wave
  • Noon- Surprisingly not hungry.  But definitely feeling the effects of not having coffee (sleepy, but not headaches… knock on wood).
  • 1pm- A tad bit hungry when I opened up my second “Essential Green” juice.  This one is going down a little easier from the start, but I do sort of wish this one varied it up a bit from the first.  I can tell I will be pretty sick of the reen by the time I’m done with 3 days (6 of them).
  • 1:30pm- Just finished up the Green.  Stomach is starting to growl a bit.  Miss coffee.
  • 2pm- Officially hungry… at least a little bit.  Telling myself (and my stomach) that a little hunger isn’t a bad thing.  This would also be around the time I’d be brewing my 2nd cup of coffee.  Oh coffee… why do we not realize how good things are until they’re gone?
  • 2:55pm- It’s close enough to 3pm.  Though reaching into the fridge, all I have for this hour is young coconut water. Now I LOVE coconut water, but it does not a hunger staver make.  First impression: WOW! Delicious. Sweeter and more flavorful than regular coconut water. Much more satisfying.
  • 5pm- Surprisingly satisfied… going to put off this juice for 30 minutes to push the last juice later (worried about a big gap between #6 and bedtime)
  • 6pm- WHOOPS! Got stuck in a meeting and couldn’t get to my “Essential Red” until 6pm. Surprisingly, I wasn’t starving. Red included carrot, beet, apple, and lemon.  Pretty damn good, but I can’t stop burping carrots.  Perhaps I drank too fast?
  • 8pm- Opened my final juice of the day: Almond Nut Milk (raw almonds, vanilla bean, dates, and filtered water).  It’s thicker than the rest and has a definite “diet shake” quality to it (but without that weird chemical taste).  I kind of like it.  Kind of.  Something about the taste is similar to licking a band-aid. Total turn-off to an otherwise nice flavor. And I noticed something weird… the nutritional information lists this last one as 240 calories and 19 grams of fat… for 1/2 the serving!  The total calories for the day are under 1.100, so nearly HALF of my calories are coming from my last drink.  I am not a nutritionist, but this seems kinda weird.
  • 11pm- Literally cannot keep my eyes open any longer.  Feeling slightly headachey and slightly achey all over, but not sure if it’s at all correlated.
Day 1 summary:  Can I do an entire fast on that delicious coconut water? It’s great that the one I found to be so delicious came up as soon as I was at my hungriest.  2pm-3pm were definitely the most hungry. Wondering if that will be (and has been) a pattern.  My biggest concern was headaches, which I am prone to, but I haven’t detected any today.  I wouldn’t say I’m uncomfortable hungry, but I definitely feel more sluggish and a little foggy in the brain.  I decided to do this during the work week so I would be more distracted from hunger.  I think this was a good idea, but I feel like I’m doing a bit of a disservice to my job by not being 200% on.  (Yes… I always have been an overachiever)
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Day 2 (Wednesday):

  • 8am- Woke up feeling decent. Not hungry.
  • 9am- The Green looks worse when it’s separated and very unappetizing.  I shook it up and drank it down without much thought.  It’s not my favorite, but it’s not awful.
  • 10am- Feelin’ good, but missing coffee
  • 11am- Grapefruit and Mint was grapefruity and minty.  Refreshing.
  • Noon- Feelin’ good, but missing coffee.  I’m starting to feel a little hazy, but nothing worse than being on cold medicine. (Though is that feeling healthy? HMMM)
  • 1pm- I’m trying to delay my next drink so I’m not so damn hungry at 3pm… but at 1:20pm, I’m definitely feeling hungry
  • 1:30pm- Barely made it. Feeling overly hungry and sleepy. Definitely having many “Why am I doing this?” moments… but I’m trying to stay the course.  I’m definitely sick of the green one at this point.
  • 2pm- Tired
  • 3:30pm- Not nearly as hungry as last time for this one as yesterday, but definitely feeling tired.
  • 4:45pm-  Started feeling REALLY groggy and headachey. Broke down and had a handful of almonds.  Felt much better.
  • 5:45pm- The nuts helped. But headache is still upon me.  Hoping this #5 (Essential Red) will help.
  • 6pm- Hello Tylenol
  • 7pm- Since #6 is so filling, I decided to have it early.  I still taste that weird flavor that I can’t get past.  I wish this one were better
  • 9pm- Headache is back andnow my stomach is bothering me… I really have one more day of this?
  • 11pm- Feel like absolute crap. Going to bed.
Day 2 summary: This was not a good day.  I felt totally tired, headachey, stomach achey, and just totally bleh.  I don’t know why I’m doing this and I need to make some changes for tomorrow.
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Day 3 (Thursday): 
  • 8am- Woke up feeling surprisingly good.  Decided to take my final juice of the day (the Almond Milk) and move it to the afternoon, when I am hungriest.  I will probably swap out the Grapefruit and Mint to be last for the day.  They advise to stick with the order they set, but they say you can switch it around so long as you start with green.  Hopefully this will help.  (But I also snuck an apple in for protection).
  • 9am- Stomach barely started growling.  Drinking down the green… still don’t like it, but it’s not like I’m choking it down.
  • Noon- I was in a meeting and unable to get to my juices until now.  I was a bit hungry, but feeling decent. I decided to switch it up and drink a bit more than half the Almond Milk one (#6) now.  Feeling pretty good. Though my tummy got a little rumbly soon after finishing.
  • 1pm- Opening my very last Green.  I am so glad that I will never have to drink this again.
  • 3pm- Feeling quite good. Much more alert than the last 2 days. I feel good, but I think mostly in comparison to the last 2 days, as opposed to BETTER than usual, which seems to be the whole reason for a cleanse like this.  Popping open my very last Young Coconut Water.  So yummy!
  • 5pm- Still feeling pretty good.  Time for burpin’ carrots with Essential Red.  (Delicious visual… I know)
  • 7pm- Had the Grapefruit and Mint.  Mmmm refreshing!
  • 7:30pm- Had the last 1/3 of the Almond Milk.  Feeling pretty good. No where near as headachey/stomach achey as I did last night.  Though soon after finishing the Almond Milk, my stomach did another flip. (I wonder what is in this that bothers me)
  • 8:15pm- Started feeling the headache come on and felt more hungry than I have been all day.  Decided I would have an apple.  Feeling better stomach-wise, but the headache is pretty bad.
  • 11pm- Headache still with me.  Can’t wait to eat tomorrow. Goodnight.
Day 3 summary: I felt pretty damn good today, until the evening.  I’m not sure if the headaches are juice induced, but it seems pretty correlatory that I had them each night I was on the Cleanse. And while I certainly felt MUCH better than Day 2, I can’t say I really get why people put themselves through this.  I will say, however, that I have an amazing sense of accomplishment that I (mostly) stuck to it.
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Friday: Today is the first day after the 3 day cleanse, and seriously all I have thought about for the past 3 days is what I will eat today.  I bought myself an egg, truffle, and prosciutto sandwich and never looked back.  I have never looked so forward to eating something.  It was an awesome feeling to be able to chew my food and I felt satisfied for the first time in 4 days.  I also had coffee and nearly jumped for joy.  Already I feel healthier than I did for the last 3 days… (I’m hoping this return to “normal” food doesn’t make me sick.  But so far, so good.)
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Overall: I try to abide by the rule of “Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.” (Afterall, I would never have found some of my favorite foods like eel, truffles, and pig cheek had I not taken the plunge)  So… I tried it.  And I can’t help but feel that it was one of the more stupid things I’ve done.  I lost a total of about 1.5 pounds (which is hardly statistically significant) and don’t feel the need to eat healthier (which is what I was really hoping for).  My body just felt undernourished and wiped.  The fact that the 3rd day was easier probably says that my body was getting acclimated to it, but was it really worth feeling like I had the flu to get there? And what did that achieve?
I am looking at this as proof of some of my self control and hope to be better with dieting over the next few weeks.  I will just keep reminding myself that it could be worse…
Verdict on Juice Cleansing: NEVER AGAIN

Truffle Honey- Cauliflower

2 May

Mike and I went to the New York Wine Expo at the Javitz Center in February.  I would have blogged about it, but the major issue was that there was NO. FOOD.  We actually wound up stumbling out of there for lack of grub and mass of wine samples.  We did, however, walk home with 2 very valuable purchases.

First, an awesome knife that we tried and bought on the spot.

Second, a truffle olive oil spray and truffle honey from Wild Forrest Products.  We tried the truffle oil spray on popcorn and it is OH. SO. GOOD!

We also have been cooking with the truffle honey.  In this case, I put it on some roasted cauliflower.  WOW!

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What an awesome way to fancy up some cauliflower.  I would eat this every day if I could.

I was impressed by the quality of the products and full flavor.  I would buy it again in a heartbeat.

Mmmmmmm

Svelte Product Review and GIVEAWAY!

24 Apr

Every once in a while, I am delighted when I am contacted by brands who ask me to try their products.  I am in no way indebted to them to write a positive review (or any review for that matter) but it’s fun to try products that I ordinarily would never come across.

When I was contacted by CalNaturale about their product, Svelte , I was excited to try it.

They tout it as a gluten-free, vegan, all-natural protein shakes that give you energy.  While I am not gluten-free nor vegan, an all-natural protein shake that gives you energy sounded like a good idea.  Though I’ve had my share of protein shakes in the past, and frankly, most of them taste pretty chalky and chemically.  I thought it would be an interesting test to see if these guys had a protein shake that I’d actually drink.

I was also amused by the tag line they included in the email:

When the product arrived, I was further entertained by the messaging on the packages:

A product that is good for me AND compliments me?  Sold!

I looked over the assortment of 4 flavors and decided to crack open the spiced chai first.  I was skeptical… but I was immediately enamoured.  It tasted creamy and delicious, almost like dessert.  How could this be good for you?

So I started reading the website… “16g of organic protein from fresh organic soymilk, along with organic complex carbohydrates for sustained energy. Svelte is tested to be low-glycemic and has only 9 grams of sugar per full bottle. It’s also a good source of fiber and is dairy-free and gluten-free. Here’s to you.”

Awesome. But hold the phone… this has soymilk? I HATE soymilk!  What gives?

I cracked open the other 3 flavors and enjoyed them all just as much.  It reminded me a bit of Slim Fast, you know, if Slim Fast actually tasted GOOD.   Soymilk or no soymilk, I liked these things.

I’m not entirely positive if they would be filling enough as a meal replacement, but I drank half of one for breakfast and it held me until lunch.  I actually just ordered a case so I can test it for lunches.

My favorite flavor was definitely the chai, but I’m a chai girl, so I like it spicy.  My second favorite was probably cappuccino, but they’re all good.

(I also found out that they make organic wines! They sent me a white and a red to try and while I liked them, I’m not as excited to purchase these on my own as I am the drinks)

What’s even better is that CalNaturale has given me the opportunity to share these cool products with you!  THREE lucky winners will be able to receive gift packs, each including one of each flavor of Svelte. 

How do you enter?  Simple!  Comment on this post below and answer the question “When do you need an energy boost most?”  Is it when you wake up in the morning? The 2pm slump?  The 4pm “I need to finish my day” rut?

You can also gain one additional entry for every place you post about this giveaway.  (Please link me to your blog, Facebook page, Twitter, etc. so your entry can be counted. You can always email me at sara@nycnomnom.com.)

You have until 10pm EST on Monday, May 2nd to enter.

Good luck Nommers!

_____

UPDATE: Svelte just informed me that they are also doing a fun promotion called #MeatlessMonday on their Facebook Page where fans can win a tote bag filled with awesome CalNaturale goodies, along with a $50 gift card to Whole Foods!  You can get all the details here.