Wining and Dining with Grocery Outlet

I grew up going to the Grocery Outlet with my mom. As a kid, it was just another grocery store. Now, as an adult? It’s an awesomely priced grocery store that doesn’t “feel” like a discount store – it’s a nice, clean store with tons of well-known brands like Toms of Maine, Kind Bar, Mamma Chia, Land of Lakes, Horizon Organic, Chobani, Driscoll’s, Kelloggs, and more. When Grocery Outlet offered me a chance to check out their new store in Sun Valley, Calif. in exchange for a giftcard, I was in faster than a kitten with a laser pointer.

What are some of the deals we got? Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurts, for .59c each. A pound of bacon for $2.99. A wheel of French brie for $2.99. Bagged caesar salad kits for $2.49. A pack of 15 Health Warrior Chia Bars for $7.99 (retails for $21!). I spent $100 and came out with a packed cart – and the best part was, we had three bottles of wine, one bottle of prosecco, and two craft beers. (My husband, a homebrewer and beer enthusiast, wanted me to add that he was “very impressed” by the craft beer section.) WineMeDineMeGrocery Outlet is having a wine sale from today through July 26th – and you’ll find deals on wine 50% to 80% off. That’s a huuuuge savings, and if you’re a vino fan like myself, you’ll want to get in on this. Here’s a few notes from sommelier Spreti Valenti on a couple of the wines I picked up:

  • Masquerade Prosecco: Sparkly wine with notes of peaches, yellow apples, and pears. Make a bellini with a spoonful of freshly pureed peaches, and top with prosecco. Cheers! (I’m going to have this on a Friday night while watching Mr. Robot on Netflix.) $7.99.
  • Ol’ Red: Supports local sourcing, with notes of blackberries, raspberries, plum, and leather. Excellent for bold red wine lovers and served with hamburgers or grilled sausages. We picked up some cajun style andouille, and I think serving this with those would make for an excellent Creole night. $3.99. (That’s cheaper than my preferred drink at Starbucks.)

I also picked up a merlot from Toad Hollow, one of my favorite Northern California wineries, and a garnacha called Layer Cake that’s oh so delectable. The hubby picked out some Lagunitas IPA (gotta represent our Petaluma home-base brewery) and a Stone IPA.

As a side note, while you’re stocking up your home bar, you probably want to check out the produce section, as there were some really great prices like 6 lemons for $1.00, and many organic choices, too. They also had Essie nail polishes for $2.99 (usually 8 bucks at Target), and Kiss My Face baby sunscreen for $3.99.

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So whadda ya say? Sounds like a good deal, right? Find out if there’s a Grocery Outlet near you, and go pick up some bubbly or grown-up grape juice today!

Disclosure: I received a gift card in exchange for sharing my thoughts about the upcoming Grocery Outlet Wine Sale and my shopping experience.

All about April’s first blog convention, ShiftCon!

It has been a busy past couple of a weeks here at Double Chin land. Alyssa and I have both been prancing around the United States and last Wednesday ended up trading cities. I left Oakland for Burbank and a few hours after my arrival, she left Burbank for Oakland.

Saturday was the wedding of our special friend and honorary sister, Katelyn. Alyssa had to be back to do all the wedding party excitement and since she already had bought a ticket to her friend’s blog convention called Shiftcon, I got to reap all the rewards and go in her place!

The website does a better job than I can when it comes to all the awesome aspects of this event so here is a blurb of explanation from their page:

 “ShiftCon is the very first international social media conference focusing on wellness, health, and the environment. This conference blends workshops, networking, parties, and intense collaboration of changemakers all over the United States and Canada in one place. Bloggers and other social media professionals participate and collaborate with each other to inspire and empower each other to create effective communication and take their profession to the next level. Attendees participate in workshops, learn from professionals, discuss their niche and value systems, and decide on themes to collaborate on in the following year. This is a powerful event meant to organize the eco-wellness niche as a powerful community online.”

ShiftCon was held in Los Angeles from Thursday October 2nd to Saturday the 5th. I had wanted to be back in time for Katelyn and her (now) husband’s wedding, so I ended up only attending for Friday afternoon. Within a few hours I had pulled in so much information about brands I already loved and brands I have a feeling I will love.4

There was probably well over a hundred different eco-approved products to try with representatives from tons of companies ready to share information and samples. Besides the THREE hefty swag bags I immediately I received upon check-in, sponsors showered me in samples and challenged me to share pictures to receive additional perks. I got a sweet Patagonia bag from Organic Valley for instagramming a picture. I’m extra stoked on it because  it is PERFECT for my ultra long walks I have been doing!

 

Here are some brands I was excited to experience and/or learn more about!

  • Organic Valley – I’m a fan of chocolate milk so it was easy to lure me to the table with buckets of chilled chocolaty drink calling out to me. Organic Valley does a lot more than make delicious tasting drinks, they also do a variety of dairy products like cheese, butter and sour cream. I noticed at the grocery store tonight that they also have a bunch of organic produce available too, like the bag of potatoes offered at the same price per pound as conventional potatoes. I got a few bottles of their protein packed milk shakes called “organic balance.” These yummy drinks carried 16 grams of protein with them and I’m likely to be utilizing my coupons to buy more. With  the awesome bag they gave me and these drinks, I’ll be well set on my ambitious outdoor adventures. 1
  • Nordic Naturals – This is a product I noticed had hooked up our swag bags pretty heavily with goods. They gave me a whole gift pack full of samples, coupons, mints, a pen, chapstick, a lanyard, and a full size bottle of “Ultimate Omega” fish oil supplements. With my food allergies kicking my ass lately, I am excited for the opportunity to try out some new ways to improve my health.  According to their website, “Extensive research has documented the health benefits of EPA and DHA, which include not only a healthy heart, but brain and cognitive function, joint mobility, eye health, pregnancy and lactation, healthy skin and hair, and a normally functioning immune response.” I’ve got enough capsules for a month so I’ll report back and let you all know how I feel!

    I've got lots of love for all things Norwegian.

    I’ve got lots of love for all things Norwegian.

  • Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap – I’m not sure when I first discovered what I fondly refer to as “hippie soap” but I have been a faithful fan of this product for definitely more than five years. They were certified organic before being organic was the cool thing to do and their big variety of body products is always giving me more things to try. I started my appreciation of this product when I fell in love with their original castile soap. It is incredibly concentrated and a little bit can create a ton of bubbles so it is the perfect product to take while traveling. Plus, they can be used for way more than your skin. “Completely biodegradable and vegetable-based, our Castile Liquid Soaps have been called the “Swiss-army knife” of cleaning – usable for just about any cleaning task. These simple, ecologically formulated soaps are gentle enough for washing body, face or hair, but also powerful enough for tasks like dishwashing, mopping, laundry and even pest control. ”  Dr. Bronner’s seems to be found in all sorts of stores now, I know our local drug store CVS carries a ton of their stuff at a pretty cheap price so give it a shot! I’ve had the same little bottle for years throughout my travels!

    I was excited because this photo was tweeted by the awesome Trish at Dr. Bronners!

    I was excited because this photo was tweeted by the awesome Trish at Dr. Bronners!

  • Naturepedic Beds – This organic mattress company started out making beds for infants and toddlers and grew in size from there! Now offering all sorts of beds for the entire family, these beds feature no harmful chemicals and are made with organic materials that help ensure the healthiest night’s sleep you can get. The ladies at the display offered me a moment of rest in exchange for a selfie and I was excited when I saw they used it on their own instagram feed! I’M FAMOUS! Thanks, naturepedic! Plus, the bed itself was super comfortable and when I’m ready to buy a new bed next year, I’ll be checking them out first!

    Comfortably organic.

    Comfortably organic.

  • Soap Box – I’m obviously a fan of products not made with a bunch of weird chemicals so when I saw I had a full size bar of a BLACK soap, I got really excited. The company is Soapbox Soaps and they make simple soaps that are 100% palm oil free, vegan, and every box gets another box sent to a child needing their own cleanliness product. They’ve got more types besides my charcoal-activated black soap like lavender, orange, cinnamon, and eucalyptus. Plus,  these soaps run just $4.99 which is pretty reasonable considering the high-quality product it is. I used it tonight during my “shower break” away from writing this long post and my skin feels super silky and clean without an ultra strong scent or weird film that some soaps leave.

    They have a $20 gift set with a bunch of products for the holidays! Click here for their website!

    They have a $20 gift set with a bunch of products for the holidays! Click the pic for their website!

 

So, as you can see, I had a blast at Shiftcon getting to know these products better and learning more about the organic and eco-product movement. I was especially grateful to meet many incredible and like-minded individuals and excited for all the networking I was able to do! Thank you SO much to the people who worked their ass off to put it on, you all were running around the whole time so I only got to meet a few of you! Event planning is tough but you guys did a great job! For a list of the MANY sponsors that hooked us bloggers up, click this link for a wonderfully made list! 

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Check out the enormous amount of goodies I came home with!

I hope you all have a great rest of your week!

 

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

 

 

The Double Chin Diary ExpoWest Recap

Hi there! I had a fantastically busy weekend, which combined with the time change, has me doing a little bit of yawning. but I’d rather be tired and busy than tired and bored, ya know? On Saturday, I picked up the fabulous AJ from Confessions of a Fat Girl and we were on our way to Anaheim for ExpoWest, a natural food and product show with over 2,100 exhibitors and last year, over 63,000 attendees. I had a list of brands I wanted to connect with based on previous reviews here on the DCD, but I also had a few new ones I wanted to meet. Below are some of my favorites from the show, and stay tuned in the next few weeks for some reviews and giveaways for you. I promise, there’s some good stuff comin’! (Note: I’m writing this post of my own desire. This is not sponsored in any way, though I did eat my way through most of these booths on free samples!)

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Alyssa’s personal heaven with Jeff’s Naturals.

1) You guys know how I love olives. A relatively new joy of mine, I embraced the olive when I first went low-carb and was looking for something deliciously salty without any sugars. I started with Kalmata olives and then graduated into the green olives, and finally found my briny passion, the Castelvetrano. I splurge every now and then on a tub of them from Whole Foods, but the price point makes me try not to go wild on ’em. I always thought Whole Foods Castelvetrano were the cream of the crop, but I was wrong — it’s the Castlevetrano olives from Jeff’s Naturals. These things are buttery, nutty, rich and delicious! They were kind enough to send me home with a jar and I actually sent an awkward selfie of myself and the jar to my husband with the caption “day made.” Even cooler? It was a happy coincidence when I noticed the company is based in Petaluma, which is where I grew up! I’m hoping we can do a giveaway soon, because you guys have to try these. Deeeelish! (The jar is already half gone. For reals. I have an olive problem!)

2) Remember how I had a weird fear of ‘fish burps’? They were enough to keep me away from fish oil for a long time, and I finally got over it after trying some Nordic Naturals on Fitcation. For the past few months, I’ve been diligently taking Nordic Naturals Omegas. The reasons for wanting to take omegas are plenty; they reduce inflammation in the body, can help lessen stress and anxiety, improve arteries, lungs, joints and bones… all good stuff. While you pay a little more for a premium fish oil brand like Nordic Naturals, when researching fish oil and learning about how the oil is harvested, I’m happy to plunk down a few more coins for a fantastic fishy experience rather than something that just stinks like a dead fish. The folks at Nordic Naturals dressed up me up in this lovely Gone with the Wind get up, and then I got to try some of their new products, like gummy vitamin D-3s, which are mixed berry flavor.

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Did Scarlett O’Hara like Omegas?

3) You know I couldn’t go to ExpoWest without paying homage to the ruler of the snack world… POPCORN! I had to stop by and give some love to SkinnyPop, who have recently introduced a black pepper, cheddar, and sweet popcorn to their mix. The cheddar popcorn was my desired crunch snack of choice during the trafficky drive home. Thankfully I had yummy corn and AJ’s fantastic rendition of “Let It Go” to keep me from going bonkers at 10 miles per hour. I also popped my top for:

  •  Pop Gourmet, who had a mind-blowing parmesan garlic popcorn and SRIRACHA POPCORN! Respect the rooster! They also had a “Rogue Blue” blue cheese popcorn which I didn’t try (was trying to conserve my belly space), but rumor had it it was pretty fantastic.

    PopGourmet's offerings include Sriracha, Garlic, Kale, and many more!

    PopGourmet’s offerings include Sriracha, Garlic, Kale, and many more!

  • Quinn Popcorn, which has a notable new snack in that its the first “do it yourself” organic microwave popcorn with cool flavors (hello, herb and olive oil). The paper microwave bag is fully compostable, and after you pop the corn, you toss it with the included oil packet and then add the seasoning packet. I got to meet the founder of the company, and I loved that he started the company with his wife, and named it in honor of his son Quinn.
  • Kettle Pop, which started as kettle corn in Farmer’s Markets and is now packaged. This corn is 100% organic and has a lovely lightly sweet, fluffy taste. I have a couple bags in my pantry now and I love that they come in 100 calorie packs — giving me my popcorn fix without the “Oops, I just ate 1,200 calories worth of popcorn in one sitting” problem. (True story.)

There were a bunch of other popcorn peeps I missed, but that’s ok — I’ll catch them next time, when I haven’t eaten 10,000 olives.

4) I was on a mission to discover new teas, and discover, I DID! Did you guys know Numi makes savory teas, in wild flavors like Carrot Curry, Fennel Spice and Beet Cabbage? I tried both the Carrot and Fennel, and it wasn’t bad at all. They reminded me of broth based soups. Not necessarily what I’d go for for my cuppa, but as a pairing to a meal, I could definitely see it working. While I’m a little more traditional with my tea, I loved the creativity of it. I tried a super yummy Cacao Earl Grey, and I need to get my hands on some “Emperor’s Pu-Erh”, which was a really earthy, full-bodied tea that some use as a coffee alternative. Mighty Leaf also opened up my eyes to some delicious Arnold Palmer recipes, in addition to their organic African Nectar.

4.5) Some other notable people I met with that I can’t wait to learn more about? BioRay, who has a detox product I’ve been using for quite awhile that I love and will share about soon, New Chapter, which are vitamins you can take on an empty stomach, and Oregon’s Wild Harvest, high quality organic vitamins and tonics.

5) The best thing about ExpoWest wasn’t the things: it was the people! I was so happy to get to meet my friend Jody from Truth to Being Fit, and then catch up with my pal Annabel from Feed Me, I’m Cranky, Monica from My Life is a Journey, and Angela from Nine More Months. It’s always so wonderful to see the faces of people you interact with all the time online. Hugs just aren’t the same virtually 🙂

 

 

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Top left: Me and AJ from Confessions of a Fat Girl. Top Right: Angela, Monica and Me. Lower Left: Me and Jody. Lower right: Me and Annabel.

So as you can see — ExpoWest was a fantastic whirlwind experience. I have no idea how some people do it for four days — after one day and 11,000 steps, my dogs were barkin’ and I was ready to sit on my duff and eat popcorn and olives. However, I didn’t have much rest before my next adventure… waking up at 4:00 A.M. to bring my husband to the Los Angeles Marathon! Stay tuned for the next post about his courageous 26.2, and I’ll be talking to you soon. Have a wonderful day!

 

Box full o’ noms

I love getting stuff in the mail – and now, every other week, I receive a box full of organic goodies! I’ve loved the idea of CSA, or community supported agriculture boxes, for a long time, but I never found a company that delivered near me. When I attended the graveyard movie a few weeks ago, a friendly gal was passing out flyers for Farm Fresh to You and I signed up on the spot! Now, every other week we’ll receive a medium sized box of seasonal produce and fruit.

The lettuce is bigger than my head!!!!

This week we got peaches, pluots, corn, lettuce, cauliflower, Nante carrots, beefsteak tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers. Matt got to open the box on his lunch break (I admit, I was jealous I didn’t get to open it!) and when I got home, it was like a veggie Christmas. The price is very reasonable ($25 every other week) and all of the produce is organic and locally grown. This is a great option for our household because I love to cook, I love fruits and veggies, and I’m in full favor of supporting a local farm rather than giving bits of my hard-earned pay check to Monsanto.

Nante Carrots

The first night we got the box, we used the zucchini, carrots and my own garden grown squash to make a delicious vegetable saute in olive oil and fresh garlic. The carrots were so sweet because roasting and caramelizing veggies brings out all of their natural sugars. The corn on the cob was OFF THE HOOK and we finally got to use our cool corn dishes we got as a wedding gift.

Peaches come from a can, they were put there by a man in a factory downtown.... NOT THIS PEACH! (5 points for whoever gets that)

I had a peach for breakfast that reminded me of summers spent in Conyers, GA with my aunt and uncle, and the pluot I scarfed down yesterday was divine. I know a lot of people think the ‘organic tastes better’ opinion is hocus pocus, but I can honestly say for many fruits and vegetables, organic just tastes… better. Essentially organic means home grown – and a garden grown with love will produce a way better taste than a garden grown with chemicals and machines.

Feeling corny? Butter me up and we'll see what happens.

I’m super excited for the next box. We can even customize it to leave out things we don’t like (eggplant made that list, and zucchini is going on the list since I grow my own), or request more of the things we do. I think the CSA box will be an awesome thing for Matt and I, and will encourage us to try new recipes, eat more fruits and veggies, and help us continue to be mindful of where our food comes from.  Would you consider a CSA box? If so, you should check out this link for more information and to find a participating farm near you!