De-stress with Organic India Tea: Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: I received free samples of Organic India Tea in exchange for a review.

Stress. No matter how many downward dogs, deep breaths, or meditation chants I do, stress always finds a way back into my life. It’s kind of just the age we live in; life is chaotic. Cell phones buzzing, emails pinging… the constant connection, though delightful, can also add up. When you think about a de-stressing beverage, you probably think of beer or wine. Oh yes; a nice buzz can sometimes be a great way to de-stress. But! If you’re seeking a de-stressing beverage that is appropriate for the work day, or one you can consume while in a moving vehicle, I think I have a solution.  ORGANIC INDIA has over 18 different flavors of its signature organic Tulsi, Holy Basil herb, that helps reduce stress, aid in digestion, balance metabolism, support anti-aging and overall immune system.

I was sent three types of tea to try; Original Tulsi Teabags, Raspberry Peach Tulsi Loose-Leaf, and Moringa Tulsi Teabags. First of all, I love that these teas are organic, because I recently learned that some big-name tea companies cover their tea with all sorts of pesticides (that sucks – but Organic India doesn’t). Holy Basil itself has a slightly peppery taste to it with a sweetness I really like, and don’t worry — it doesn’t taste like the classic Italian pesto, so you’re not going to feel like you’re sipping a mug of pesto. The Raspberry Peach was my favorite out of this batch, tastewise, for its fruity undertones. However, Moringa takes the cake for the coolest attributes — “Tulsi (Holy Basil) and Moringa (Moringa oleifera) are two of the most unique herbs to come out of India, and together they offer a myriad of health benefits. Tulsi is well known in the west for its adaptogenic benefits and uses in combating stress. The antioxidant activity in Moringa is extremely high, and the easiest way for your body to assimilate them is in tea form. There is one antioxidant in particular that Moringa contains called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which is twice as powerful resveratrol, one of the most popular anti-aging antioxidant supplements on the market. EGCG has been shown to help maintain healthy LDL cholesterol levels and protect cardiovascular health.” I try and drink a cup of tea daily anyways; can you imagine if I replaced my daily breakfast tea with this one? Cashing in on the health benefits!

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The concept behind Tulsi that I love, besides the organic, non-GMO, sustainible farming side, is that you’re taking the very relaxing act of drinking a cup of tea and turning it into even more of a “chill” moment by using an herb that’s shown to be a mood lifter. Some people think that herbal remedies are hocus pocus, but having had my own garden for years and seeing how cats take to catnip and how aloe soothes burns and how peppermint can cure a gnarly stomach has proven to me that herbs are powerful forms of medicine. One note about Tulsi Looseleaf that’s just good to know: it is a smaller brew of leaf product, so you’ll end up with some sediment at the bottom of your mug (shown above). It won’t harm ya, and you’ll barely notice it, but if you’re a super picky tea drinker, you can brew through a coffee filter or use a french press.

Because I’d rather show you than tell you, let’s get to the good stuff! One lucky reader will win a nice starter pack of Tulsi Teas, in Pomegranate Green tea, Original Tulsi, and India Breakfast. Please use the rafflecopter to enter to win, and note all the extra ways you can score entries! This contest will run until Thursday, July 31 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Winner must be 18 years or older and live in the United States. GOOD LUCK!
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The Double Chin Diary Charitable Holiday Gift Guide

Ahh, the holidays. A time of year when cinnamon scents the air, your jeans are tight, traffic is worse and family fights are abundant. Just kidding! I actually love the holidays. Even though they can be stressful, I love the idea of a season of giving, spending time with loved ones, and enjoying some time off. This weekend I was lucky enough to have all of my family come down to Los Angeles for Thanksgiving. There’s nothing like a good meal with those you love. This year, I’ve decided to focus on gifts that have a “good for you” angle, and not just in a health and wellness sense. This year, I wanted to focus on gifts that have a “good for the world” angle. It’s easy to get caught up in the “oooh! I want that!” type of consumer mentality that abounds, believe me, as someone who enjoys shopping, I know the temptation of glitz and glam quite well. However, sometimes you want to give a gift that’s more meaningful and has a special meaning. In this case, enter the five gifts below that are good for YOU, and good for the world. I was gifted two complimentary items (Dancing Deer Cookie and Brownie Pack and Prosperity Cinnamon) in exchange for review. You have a chance to win your own Prosperity Cinnamon from WorldVision at the end of this post :)

1) Madres Jewelry

Madrews Jewelry Simplicity Necklace

Madres, which means “mothers” in Spanish, empowers low-income women by providing fair wages and dignified employment. My sister has been a longtime supporter of this jewelry, and they have some beautiful pieces. How gorgeous is this “Simplicity” necklace? It’s Sterling Silver with Apatite beads and is only $25.00.

2) WorldVision Prosperity Cinnamon

Prosperity Cinnamon from World Vision

Prosperity Cinnamon from World Vision

I’m a big fan of cinnamon. In fact, when Christmas is over, I hoard those cinnamon-scented pinecones from the clearance section because I love the way they make my house smell. Cinnamon is also a “wonder spice” in that it can reduce inflammation in the body and is even thought by some to help you metabolize fats more quickly. Have you ever tried some cinnamon sprinkled on a sweet potato with a drizzle of coconut oil? Wonderfully delicious! However, this cinnamon is more than just sweet spicy goodness; it’s Vietnam’s renowned sweet cinnamon, a renewable resource collected from the Cassia tree, sold to benefit generations of hard working families. This beautifully carved cinnamon bark box contains 3 oz. of cinnamon and bears a common Asian character for prosperity. Don’t panic by the suggested price of $85 on WorldVision.org — you can donate whichever amount you’re most comfortable with, less $19 as the fair market value for the cinnamon. This gift is awesome because not only do you get an ecletic yet totally useful thing, you’re giving a direct contribution to a family or community in need. It may help fund microloans, it may feed a small family in a remote village, or it may help provide clean drinking water. You have a chance to win your own prosperity cinnamon at the bottom of this post! Looking for another charitable gift? I’m in love with this Giraffe Christmas Ornament made out of glass beads. So cute — and such a thoughtful way to gift!

3) Dancing Deer Baked Goods

DancingDeer_WinterHolidayGiftPack_Cookiesbrownies_Doublechindiary

Sometimes, you just have to give someone sweet something sweet! Baked goods are wonderful gifts for people you have a little bit of confusion over what to buy; everybody loves dessert, so in my mind, these are perfect gifts for neighbors, babysitters, colleagues, hair dressers, and more. I was sent the Dancing Deer Winter Holidays Gift Box that includes four chocolate chunk brownies, award winning Molasses Clove cookies, and 14 peppermint snowflake butter cookies. With the first bite of brownie, I knew I was sold. These brownies and cookies are truly fresh-baked, and the brownie had such a wonderful, dense texture, with big chunks of dark chocolate. To prove a point, note that none of these items were photographed like I usually prefer; and the embarrassing reason is that they were so good, they didn’t last long enough in our house to get their own photo shoot! The giftbox comes with everything nestled inside a festive red box, tied with a brown ribbon and carefully packed in brown krinkles. It’s a no fuss gift – send it and you’re done with your giftgiving. This gift box is $26.99, and Double Chin Diary readers can score 20% off with code KITCHEN. The charitable aspect I love about this company is their Sweet Home gifts, that give 35% of all profits to to scholarship programs through One Family Inc to help homeless and at risk mothers further their education. Sweet taste, sweet gift, sweet initiative – sweet all around! Check out this one that comes with a great red gift basket. These cookies and brownies truly tasted fresh-baked!

4) Shop Taffy Plus Size Activewear

ShopTaffy_PlusSizeActiveWear_DoubleChinDiaryI’ve already professed my love to ShopTaffy because their clothes are cute, high-quality, reasonably priced and best of all, they really “move” with you as you workout. Until December 31st, 10% of all proceeds of ShopTaffy are going to Unicef Philippines. Have a stylish sweat sesh AND give back to a community in need of some help? Sounds good to me. (PS: Use code LLBLOG for 25%  entire site until 12/31/13)

 

5) My awesmoe friend Virginia (who hangs around this blog often) walked recently to help raise money for the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. This dish towel, pot holder and oven mitt set are not only adorable, but after the production costs, 100% of profits goes to St. Jude’s. This would be a great gift for a foodie friend who loves to cook! $24.00.

St. Jude's Kitchen Gift Set: 100% of profits help fight childhood disease

St. Jude’s Kitchen Gift Set: 100% of profits help fight childhood disease

Now that you have a few ideas of some “Good for you, Good for the world” gifts, it’s your chance to win one! For a shot at some WorldVision Prosperity Cinnamon, please follow the instructions and use the rafflecopter app below. This giveaway is good through Saturday, December 14th at 11:59pm PST. US Only, 18+. Good luck!!!

1) Visit WorldVision’s Gift Page and tell me in a comment on this blog post, which gift you like best.

2) Once you’ve done that, mark the “leave a comment” option on rafflecopter app as DONE.

3) That’s it! You can do the extra entries if you like but don’t feel obligated.

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No Sweeter Than the Ripest Cherry — Cookbook Review

Hi Friends! Today I’m sharing a review of my friend Suzie’s comic-cook book, No Sweeter Than The Ripest Cherry. Suzi and I met about 7 years ago when she and my husband attended the UCLA Film School. When I found out Suzie was a raw food chef, I was instantly intrigued by her career, thinking that raw food must mean ALL YOU CAN EAT IS SALAD. Thankfully, I was wrong, and when Suzi’s book came out, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy to explore.

No Sweeter Than The Ripest Cherry is a seasonal, fresh food inspired comic book recipe guide designed to fuse foundational, science-based nutrition concepts with a non-dogmatic seven-day culinary exploration of exciting, practical, and bowl-licking-good meals… that are mostly raw, mostly paleo, and made 100% from scratch with whole food ingredients and superfoods.

This is not your ordinary cookbook. The design is incredible, filled with comic book style illustrations, mouth watering photography, and clever typography and text placement that has you reading each page in depth to make sure you don’t miss anything. Look at these gorgeous pages!

NSTRC_pages_26and27

I also really like the style of writing. To me, cooking is FUN — so when things get a little too stuffy (cough cough, Mastering the art of French cooking), I get bored. Ripest Cherry is filled with personality, from the cutesy images of the character Ingrid on her 7-day health transformation, to great tongue-in-cheek quips such as “Like a wild primate, bang the empty coconut on the ground until it breaks.”

For my first Ripest Cherry adventure,  I decided to tackle The Blueberry Hawaiian, a yummy raw smoothie with Avocado, Celery, Cucumber, Lime, Wild Blueberries, Ginger, Honey and greens.

Photo from EssentialLivingFoods.com

This was my first time making a smoothie that had (GASP) vegetables in it, so I was a little nervous about what I’d end up with. For “greens”, I used a handful of spinach. I also added some Spirulina, because I got some at FitBloggin’ and it’s been staring at me from my pantry since June because I had no idea what to do with it.  For the record, wild blueberries are so cute and tiny, and their color is an amazing purple! Also for the record, raw honey is so much more robust than its boring sibling. I got mine (a sage citrus blend) at the Calabasas farmer’s market and it’s so good!

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The end result is perhaps not the most photogenic smoothie, but I have to say – I’m impressed! I was nervous it would taste grassy from the spinach and spirulina, but instead, the sharp ginger was really complemented by the honey, and the texture had a creaminess from the avocado that was only accentuated by the cooling cucumber.  This recipe makes a very large amount, so much in fact, that I had one full glass for dinner and have a blender-bottle of it for tomorrow’s breakfast. SCORE! What I liked about this smoothie was that not only did it taste super fresh,but it was incredibly filling.

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Besides having super yummy recipes like Guacatacos, the other huge benefit to Ripest Cherry is the health and nutrition information. Almost every other page is packed with an easy-to-read essay about topics like how digestion begins, the benefits of fermentation, and the importance of exercise. This is the type of information that you simply won’t get in your Glamour magazine — it’s the kind of information you get from that super-smart friend who teaches cooking classes at the local Ashram. (Suzie does that too!) For example, I loved this passage from the piece about exercise: “Remember, beginnings, however humble, are still beginnings. Everything in nature begins with a singular impulse. From the tiniest germ of being, life manifests outward into the universe. Where ever you may be in your journey, you can always take the first step towards reinvention.”

There’s also a super nutrition appendix that lists the health benefits and properties of all of the ingredients in the book. Did you know that celery is sometimes used as a treatment for rashes, and that bee pollen can help reverse the effects of obesity?
These tips, along with the amazing photography, innovative recipes and informative health knowledge earn the Ripest Cherry the Double Chin Diary seal of approval. You can buy your own copy at RipestCherry.com for $14.95.

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Because a review just ain’t a review on the Double Chin Diary without a giveaway, Suzie has graciously agreed to offer a copy to one lucky Double Chin Diary reader. For your entry to win, all you need to do is visit RipestCherry.com, and tell me which recipe out of the four sample pages shown you would be most inclined to try (Leave a comment).  The winner will be picked next Tuesday at 11:59 PM. US Only, please — and GOOD LUCK! You can earn an additional entry by “liking” Ripest Cherry on Facebook, sharing a tweet or Facebook post about this giveaway! If you do those things, just let me know in the comment. Viva la ‘Raw’volution!

 

Perky Jerky Review and Giveaway

Hey everybody, happy Monday! Today let’s talk about MEAT. Marinated, chewy, delicious meat! I’ve talked about my protein challenges before; I’m not a huge meat eater. Despite being raised on a steady diet of beef and chicken growing up in the Midwest, in my teenage years and onwards there was something about meat that just didn’t appeal to me. As I work towards weight loss, one of my biggest challenges is fitting in enough protein, as I often order vegetarian at restaurants and cook without meat. Enter an awesome solution: jerky! Before I tasted amazing artisanal jerky, I thought every kind of jerky was the same, that it all had that kind of dog-foody, fake beef smell and weird rubbery texture. Thankfully I now know better, and my mind has been blown by Perky Jerky. I first tried a sample pack at FitBloggin’ and was impressed with how tender their turkey jerky was, and even cooler, it has a kick of a little energy boosting ingredient called “guarana”, something you usually see in energy drinks. I reached out and asked to try some and they’ve been kind enough today to offer one winner a kit of their amazingly delicious Turkey Jerky, valued at $30. Now that you know what you can win, let’s get in to the good stuff – the taste!

Introducing the brand new Perky Jerky Flavor, Hot and Bothered Beef Jerky.

Introducing the brand new Perky Jerky Flavor, Hot and Bothered Beef Jerky.

The Hot & Bothered jerky was definitely my favorite of the batch because of the amazing heat. With the first bite you can tell it’s going to be spicy, but not so bad that it’s painful. After the first garlicky bite, you can feel the heat start to creep up your tongue, a nice slow burn, as we chili-freaks like to call it. The spice was intense enough but not too much to make you lose the flavor. I really enjoyed the amount of heat in this one, which leads me to my next favorite, the Sweet n’ Spicy Turkey Jerky. When I first tried turkey jerky, I didn’t know what to expect. In my mind, you wouldn’t see turkey as a meat that would taste good dried, but you almost can’t tell the difference between turkey and beef jerky. The Sweet n’ Spicy has a delicious jalapeno tang, followed by an almost honey-like BBQ taste. It was sooo good and perhaps the “safer” choice for those of you who may not like the idea of an awesome, pepper-punchin’ jerky like Hot & Bothered. Did I mention all of these big bags have around only 100-180 calories per serving? Yeah, awesome.

Perky Jerky comes in 5 amazing flavors, including Hot & Bothered and Sweet N' Spicy.

Perky Jerky comes in 5 amazing flavors, including Hot & Bothered and Sweet N’ Spicy.

 

One of the best parts of this jerky (besides the taste) is that the nutritional stats are awesome. The original Turkey Perky Jerky has only 100 calories for the whole bag, which is awesome for people like me that can’t conceive of stopping at one serving. The most caloric flavor is the sweet n’ spicy beef jerky, but even so, two servings will only cost you 180 calories. With upwards of 20 grams of protein, that’s hardly something to worry about. Sodium is a bit high, but you know that will happen with dehydrated meats and jerky in general, so just consume more water to prevent the dreaded bloat. (If I got bloated off this I’d totally make fun of my “jerky jowls” – see, a silver lining in every cloud, right?!) So now that you know Perky Jerky gets the Double Chin Diary stamp of approval, let’s get to winnin’! Ask Lady Luck to pay you a visit by leaving a comment on this post with the flavor you’d most like to try.You MUST leave a comment to be entered to win. That’s all ya gotta do, but if you want more chances, you can do the things below!

For additional chances to win,

Please let me know what actions you have taken and I will make sure to count your extra entries in the final tally! This giveaway will end on July 15 at 11:59 pm and is open to US residents only, ages 18 and up.

Perky Jerky did provide me complimentary samples in exchange for this review, but as usual, if something tastes yucky or is made up of BS claims, it won’t receive the Double Chin Diary Stamp of Approval, nor would it be available for you to receive as a giveaway item. GOOD LUCK!

Assorted Beef and Turkey Perky Jerky

Assorted Beef and Turkey Perky Jerky

 

 

Summer Shapeup: Diet to Go Meal Review

I hereby declare June the official Diet to Go month, because this June, I’ve lost about 5 pounds following the Diet to Go plan. You guys know I’ve long been a fan of Diet to Go, because their meals are simple, easy to prepare and above all, super tasty. Here’s a shot of my turkey meatball on fettucini with broccoli. This was delicious — and I couldn’t believe those gigantic meatballs were under 300 calories. Wow!

Diet to Go Turkey Meatball

Diet to Go Turkey Meatball

One of my favorite things about Diet to Go besides the awesome taste, is the convenience factor. Last week, I was working 12 hour days, bouncing around from my onsite gig and then coming home to log in and write for my social clients. Sometimes, the clock bogs me down and before I know it, I’m starving and crabby, wondering when it’s dinner time — and then I see it’s 8:15 PM. Whoopsies! Diet to Go to the rescue, because a few quick minutes later I’m microwaving and sitting down for a meal that’s not coming from a drive-through or a giant, crinkly bag of tortilla chips. When you’re trying to lose weight, these small changes make all the difference. Here’s another recent favorite — a yummy and totally filling turkey breast sandwich with provolone cheese, BBQ sauce and apple sauce. I threw some persian cucumbers in there to round it out and my tummy was a happy camper.

Diet to Go Turkey Sandwich

Diet to Go Turkey Sandwich

Diet to Go is doing an awesome Summer Shape Up Promotion, and one of the things they’re offering my readers is a $50 giftcard off any meal plan! Sweeeeeeeet.

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Because they’re serious about you shaping up for the summer (and I am too), I’m also inviting you to join in on the official Diet to Go DietBet. Remember how we did this a few months ago? Some of you walked away with a nice pocketful of cash, and now you have a chance to do it again. The buy in is $25, and if you lose 4% of your starting weight, you’ll split the pot among the winners. That could be upwards of $50 – $60 — or even more, easily doubling your money back. I’m in, and hopefully now that I’ve got a treatment plan for my haywire hormones, hopefully I’ll be countin’ my benjamins at the end. Join us for the DietBet here!

And last but not least, you should enter for your chance to win the Diet to Go Summer Shape Up Sweepstakes over here on Facebook! Five people will win a week of free meals and one grand prize winner will score a WHOLE MONTH of free meals. Count me in!!!

Please let me know if you have any questions about Diet to Go. I am being compensated a small stipend to review their meals, but as always, I will never promote anything on the Double Chin Diary that I don’t personally approve of, ‘cuz let’s face it, some of the stuff out there for weight loss is horse ca-ca. But, Diet to Go isn’t it! Also, if you decide to try it, please use one of the links in this blog post or the big circular badge on the right hand side of the blog. I’ll receive a small commission, which helps pay for the hosting fees, site expenses and maintenance of this here blog. But no pressure at all; above all, this blog is a place to share experiences and work together on getting healthy.

I hope you have a wonderful Monday! xoxo

PPS: Did you enter to win a Spandits headband yet?! Hurry, only two more days until I pick a winner!