Healthy Food Box, Bestowed: Review & Giveaway!

bestowed boxYou’ve heard my raves about Birchbox and how much I love getting little packages in the mail every month. That’s why I was so excited to try out another fun little box filled with goodies; this time it was healthy food!!

You also know that I love to try out healthy foods and snacks at any chance I get. Now, are you ready? Meet Bestowed.

What is Bestowed?

bestowed

Bestowed is a company created by Heather Bauer, a nutritionist and author. Each month, you get a box sent straight to your door that is packed with five healthy food and snack product samples for you to try. Each item, hand-picked by the celebrity nutritionist herself along with her team of diet and health experts to bring you the best of the best.

What types of things can I expect in a Bestowed box?

What kinds of things can you expect to find in these boxes? Well, you’ll be wonderfully surprised with items such as nutrition bars, breakfast cereals, snacks and supplements (just to name a few!)

It’s always nice to be able to sample things before you try, I think we can all agree on that! This box is packed with several new things to try every month. And once you find that gem that you’ve been searching for, you can go out and buy a big stash! Less money wasted, more healthy and nutritious items for you; now that is a winning strategy!

How much is it to join Bestowed?

Well I’m glad you asked 😉 You can join Bestowed by purchasing a monthly or annual subscription. And, note that shipping is included in the price of subscription!

  • Monthly is $19 a month
  • Annually is $209 yearly

What if I just want to give it as a gift?

Well aren’t you just so thoughtful! What a good friend/family member you are to want to give someone the gift of health and nutrition samples! You can choose subscriptions in the lengths of 3 months ($57), 6 months ($114) or 12 months ($209). These are billed once.

What was in last month’s Bestowed box?

Aren’t you a curious one. Care to see a video of the grand reveal?

I’m so excited to show you guys what came in my very first Bestowed box! I’m always on the hunt for new and healthy snacks so this was totally up my alley (side note to self: need to find a new phrase to replace ‘up my alley’) and I was SO impressed with my box! Here’s the picture that I snapped of everything that was included.

Bestowed Healthy Snack Sample Box

And in case it’s a little tough to see or read, I thought I should probably break it down for you in order from top left to right, then bottom left to right. I’ll mention the middle item (the iTrain gift card) at the very end.

1. Happy Family-Happy Squeeze Smoothies – This little to-go pouch is made from organic ingredients and are packed with protein and fiber. Not to mention just around 100 calories! Perfect for little hands, lunch boxes or just for your purse for those ‘just in case’ moments. Love these!

2. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts – This bag is filled with tiny little seeds that are packed with protein and vitamins. They will also help to add omegas to your diet, so now you have no excuse! This nutty crunch snack comes in a convenient pouch, and it is actually good for you! Forget the sugar-packed trail mix, this one is the one to grab for.

3. Nature’s Earthly Choice – Easy Quinoa Lentil Soup Mix – Okay this one totally sold me! I’m a huge advocate and believer in quinoa and now you’ve given it to me in a soup too?! I’m in heaven. Pair this item with a salad or some chicken for protein and you’ve got a meal, easy peasy!

4. Oloves Hot Chili Mama Olives – Num! If you like a snack that packs a little punch, then you will adore these habanero and lemon olives. Pit free and flavored, plus only 50 calories? This is one snack that you’ll definitely enjoy.

5. Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars – I could not get over how yummy these fig bars were, and the fact that they are Kosher, chocolesterol-free, dairy-free and vegan just totally won me over! Instead of reaching for the chocolate bar or preservative-packed granola bar next time, grab one of these and you will not be disappointed. I will definitely be purchasing these again!

6. Artisana Coconut Butter – I’ve told you guys before that I use coconut oil when I cook because it’s a lot healthier than butter or vegetable oil. Well this coconut butter is no different. This creamy product is made from coconut flesh and offers fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals too! An added bonus: This contacts no additives! Use this on crackers or in a smoothy for a yummy snack.

7. iTrain Gift Card $25 – Last but not least is this little gem! If you wish you could afford a personal trainer, then this might be just for you! You download the workouts right to your mp3 device and you can customize your workouts to fit what you need. Each workout provides you with your personal trainer’s voice giving you instructions, plus music and motivation throughout your whole session. Worth a try, right?

Purchasing the Products You Like

I. Fell. In. Love… with Bestowed. What a super neat concept and such wonderful products! After I tried them out, I quickly wondered, “Alright, now where can I get these for my family?” Well there is a Featured Products section of the Bestowed website that gives you information on each product and also tells you where you can buy them! I noticed that most of them you can find on Amazon – how great is that? It’s like you can grocery shop from your house. Taste it, buy it, serve it. Now that is easy!

One-Month Subscription Giveaway!

Bestowed has very graciously offered to give away a one-month subscription to one lucky winner!!! If you think you’d enjoy receiving all these wonderful samples, then enter to win today! Contest ends April 12th at midnight CST. Contest has ended! Congratulations Joan T, our winner of the giveaway!

Keep Up With The Brand:

  1. Follow @bstowed on Twitter
  2. Become a fan of Bestowed on Facebook
  3. Subscribe to Heather Bauer’s Channel on Youtube
  4. Check out Bestowed’s Featured Products and comment with which item you’d want to try!
  5. Like Real Housewives of Minnesota on Facebook
  6. Follow @MNhousewives on Twitter

AND – Even if you don’t win, I have a treat for you too.

They’ve given me an exclusive $5 off code to share with you if you want to try Bestowed anyways! So go onto their website, click on “Join Now” and enter code: 5OFFBSTOWED01 to save $5! Woo hoo! You lucky ducks!!

Contest Rules:

Maximum of 6 entries per participant. Open to US residents only. Contest ends on Friday, April 12th at midnight. Winner will be chosen randomly using random.org and will be announced by April 15th. Winner must respond within 3 days, otherwise a new winner will be chosen.

Enjoy!!!

Hearts,
Sarah (Ruby)

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4 New Apps You Need to Download Today

If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with apps and finding ones that make life easier. I frequently (and very geek-ily) use the phrase, “There’s an app for that!” as ashamed as I am to admit it. Anyways, I’ve done some scouting and I’ve found some awesome new apps that you must check out. You can thank me later 🙂

Wunderlist

wunderlist app reviewThis is by far my favorite and most used app for productivity. This app allows you to make different lists and add things to them quick and easy. But there’s more to that. You can share lists with people. So I installed this app on my husbands phone as well and shared my grocery list with him. Now when either of us need something, we put it on the list. When we’re at the store, it’s easy peasy to find what we need. Never again will we forget the list at home!

Not only that, but I’ve made lists for our Youth Group, for the blog (duh!) and for other Shopping needs like socks or shampoo. And as a bonus feature, you can set your email preferences to let you know when things are added to the list or completed (so if hubby stops at the store and gets that chocolate ice cream, you won’t make a special trip to get it too!) Awesome.

SoundHound

soundhound app reviewThe other day I was at the store and I heard a song being played. (It doesn’t matter, but for those of you who are curious kittens, the song was “Piano in the Dark” by Brenda Russell)

Anyways, I couldn’t believe that the song has the same lyrics as “I Cry” by Flo Rida. I would have never been able to find out that the song was Piano in the Dark, if I didn’t have SoundHound. I just held up my phone and let it listen to the song. Within seconds, it had the title and artist for me. Winner!

Gravy

gravy appNow this app works better if you live in the cities. Specifically, Minneapolis. The app gives you the choice of what you feel like doing. You can click that you want to do: Whatever, Lively, Classy, Brainy, Playtime. From there it gives you a list of things nearby that fit the bill, on that given date. Fun, right?

Gym-Pact

gympact appThis app is one that me and my husband have been using for about 6 months now. We started setting a pact to workout 2 times a week. Now we are up to four! Anyways, you set your own pact for how many times a week you will workout and if you achieve that, you get paid! If you miss though, you have to pay. You’ll have to scrounge up $5 for each day that you miss of your pact. The goal of this app is to motivate you with money. And it works! I’ve got about $40 in my reserve, just for working out! Gotta love that. Let me know if you join! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Check out these apps, and let me know how you like them. If you have an app you adore, be sure to leave the name of it in the comments for others to check out too!

Hearts,
Sarah (Ruby)

All Plant Diet Lifestyle – Testing it Out

tomatoes plant dietSince we cancelled our cable a couple months back (though it feels like a couple years at this point) I really haven’t found too many great shows that I like to watch. So this weekend, as I browsed Netflix for something to watch, I came upon their Documentaries section. I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to learning, so I browsed to see if there was anything that piqued my interest. Sure enough, I actually found a few!

Now my husband and I had already watched Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (which I would recommend!) but there was one similar to that as well called Hungry for Change. I sat back and enjoyed the bits of information this program provided me with, and I’d definitely say check it out if you are interested in learning more about your nutrition and dietary needs. They made an interesting analogy in this documentary, they said, and I’m quoting loosely, “Imagine if we were put in a zoo, much like they do to chimpanzees. What would they feed us? What would they give us each day to sustain us?” It sure wouldn’t be pizza, cheeseburgers, french fries and pop, would it? No. Makes you think now, doesn’t it?

Here’s a clip from Hungry for Change:

What I really took away from it is that we really are eating just a bunch of crap and engineered ‘food’. Your body is made to store fat to burn later, but we’re eating so much fat and we’re not burning it later. So here’s my task that I’d like to try, and I’m not saying this is going to be a permanent thing because I know it’s going to be hard, but I’m going to try eating a strictly plant diet. So far today, I’ve had an orange for breakfast, lots of water, and a big salad with iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots for lunch. Surprisingly, I was full after lunch. That doesn’t usually happen when I eat salad! And the calorie count on that lunch was 112 calories – for a big plate full of food! Real food.

Another great documentary that I had the pleasure of watching was Forks Over Knives, and no surprise here, I would recommend this one too! There is so much quality information out, and so many studies that have been done, that there’s no excuse to not learn a little bit about the foods you put inside your body every single day. Not only that, but into your children’s bodies too!

One last tidbit for you guys, because I know this is an object of desire for many of you! Here it is: Diet Coke. If you’re drooling right now after reading those two words, then I have some bad news for you. The combination of the ingredients in Diet Coke, including aspartame and caffeine can be an exciting but horrible combination. It’s actually causing you to lose brain cells due to the over-stimulation (in less words than I’ll explain) as explained in this article by Livestrong.

So, today is day one of the all plant diet. I’m going to hold onto it as long as I can because I would love to share the results with you guys and have them be positive 🙂

In the meantime, do you or have you seen any of these movies? If not, are you going to check them out? I love hearing your feedback!

Hearts,
Sarah (Ruby)

Digital Magazine Subscription Giveaway from Zinio: Great Last Minute Gift Idea!

This contest has now ended! The winners for the 9 free subscriptions are as follows:

  • Sheri
  • Anne
  • Leah
  • Dani
  • Naomi
  • Shannon
  • Erica
  • Teresa
  • Donna

Thank you to everyone who entered!! If your name is listed here, please check your email! If we do not hear from you within 24 hours, we will have to choose another winner!

last minute Christmas giftIf you are a last minute gift shopper, you know that there is nothing worse than hitting the malls merely days before Christmas only to deal with crabby people, picked-over sales, and of course the total lack of anything really good.

The same can go with shopping online for Christmas right about now, because things will never ship to you in time to give them to your recipient. It’s a pain to try and find gifts at the last minute, but today I’m going to give you an AWESOME last minute gift idea that suits nearly any age bracket, and it’s not going to send you into debt either! Score! 🙂

cosmopolitanSo what is this great last minute gift idea? It’s a digital magazine subscription! They are the perfect last minute gift because you can buy it right online, and it is a gift that keeps on giving, every month! Magazine subscriptions are personal too, because you can choose the magazine based on their tastes, hobbies, interests, etc. Last year, I needed a little something extra to give my hubby for his birthday, I ended up giving him a year long subscription to Field & Stream and he absolutely loved it… and got to love it again every single month!

Zinio is Giving Away 9 Subscriptions!!

zinioSo today, our friends at Zinio are giving away NINE digital magazine subscriptions to nine lucky readers! These are the perfect gift for anyone with an e-reader, tablet, mobile device, computer, etc. Your friends and family can bring these magazines with them wherever they go, without being bulky and awkward. So perfect!!!

parentingHere are just a few digital magazine subscriptions from Zinio that you could give a woman like myself:

  • Green Ideas
  • Appetite
  • Food & Home
  • HGTV
  • Women’s Health
  • Runner’s World
  • O (Oprah)
  • Parenting
  • Family Circle
  • Real Living
  • Good Housekeeping
  • Cosmopolitan
  • US Weekly
  • Marie Claire
  • Vogue

mens healthAnd of course, they’ve got tons of magazines for men to choose from too. Some honorable mentions include:

  • Motor Trend
  • Car and Driver
  • Consumer Reports
  • Men’s Health
  • MuscleMag
  • Running Times
  • ESPN Magazine
  • Men’s Journal
  • Field & Stream
  • Outdoor Life
  • Popular Mechanics
  • National Geographic
  • GQ

Current Sale at Zinio

Before we go and give away the subscriptions, I just have to tell you that you can save big on Zinio’s website. They have 300 magazine titles that they have on sale today through 1/7/13 for 50% off! Shop here to get this deal!

AND – Better Homes & Gardens is also offering an awesome deal on some special holiday issues and are priced at 30% off! Shop before 12/31 and save on these neat issues that feature food gifts, party food and Christmas cookies! Shop Better Homes & Gardens issues here!

About Zinio

Zinio has thousands of the top magazines from around the world, available for access on any computer or mobile device. They allow you to purchase a single issue or a subscription of your favorite magazine instantly to read whenever or wherever you’d like! They also have an ‘Explore‘ section where you can read articles from magazines (even without a subscription) and share them with friends or family.

Enter to Win 1 of 9 Subscriptions!

So you want to win one of these digital magazine subscriptions!? Here’s how. As always, you must leave a separate comment for EACH task that you complete.

  1. Visit Zinio.com and leave a comment here with which magazine subscription you would choose.

This contest will end at Noon CST on Sunday, December 23rd! So check your inboxes and watch our Facebook page feed for our winner announcement!

Best of luck in entering!!

Hearts,
Sarah (Ruby)

Disclosure: I was not paid for this post. I was provided a magazine subscription from Zinio to compensate for my time. All opinions stated here are my own.

Ruby’s Must-Have Winter Holiday Gifts 2012

As you guys know, I’m always wanting something. Well, kind of. It’s just that the winter holidays always bring so much good stuff to the surface. Warm fuzzy boots, comfy cozy sweaters, new technology, new home products, workout items; the list could go on and on. And actually, it will go on and on because this is my winter must-have holiday gift list and that’s what it’s supposed to do!

I thought I would share a few of my wish list highlights this year, because isn’t it always fun to see what everyone else is asking for? Maybe you’ll even find a few things to add to your list. In that case, you’re welcome. If not, then I’m sorry you feel that way 😉

Alright, here we go!

1. Lululemon Groove Yoga Pant *Slim ($98.00)

I’m not sure if the *Slim part means anything, but I’m just taking that directly from the website so you guys know which ones I’m referring to here. Lululemon has been around for years, but I’ve never bought any of their clothes, mostly because they’re a titch on the spendy side. At any rate, I’ve tried them on and they are exquisite. They hold you in and are comfy at the same time. What more could you ask for in a yoga pant?

2. Magic Bullet Blender ($49.99)

Image by Target.com

This is one item that I actually bought on my black friday adventure. They had them for $29.00 at Walmart so I couldn’t resist! These are perfect for making fast and easy smoothies, ice cream malts, baby food even? They make it easy to get just the right serving for one person, plus you don’t have to pour out of a clunky old blender, then clean the whole kitchen because it blended itself everywhere.

I use mine to make healthy drinks (greek yogurt, whey protein, fruit, spinach, milk) and you’ve got yourself a wonderful little snack and very, very minimal clean up.

3. North Face Microvelour Glacier 1/4 Zip ($55.00)

Image by TheNorthFace.com

These are not only uber-comfy but also very fashionable. I love North Face stuff, it’s high quality and always fits so nice.

The downside to North Face, is that it can be expensive, but as with anything else, you get what you pay for.

This Microvelour Glacier zip up comes in tons of colors; you name it, they have it! Aren’t they cute??

4. Apple Mini iPad ($329.00)

Image by Apple.com

This just came out not too long ago, but I had to admit I am super impressed. We currently have the iPad 3 and it’s just kind of big and bulky. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally in love. I love Apple products and would never go back, but this one is truly the best yet.

It’s the perfect size to toss in your bag, but it’s obviously bigger than a cell phone so it’s not so hard on the eyes. And the usability is obviously easier than on a phone as well.

5. Essie Nail Polishes ($8.00+)

Okay, this is a great stocking stuffer that I have to share. Essie is a nail polish brand that offers beautiful colors, you’ve probably seen them all over Pinterest! I just love how ‘true’ their colors are. They’re so unique, but pretty. It’s hard to describe, but let’s just say that the woman in your life will not be disappointed when she receives one or ten of these little guys.

Image by Essie.com

6. Apple TV ($99.00)

Image by Apple.comOkay, so I already have one of these but you need to have it on your list if you don’t! These are phenomenal and I absolutely love ours. Despite the name, it’s not actually a TV, it’s a little box that hooks up to your TV and acts as like a DVD player, and internet TV all in one. We use it to watch our shows on Netflix and Hulu Plus, but you can also use it to watch videos on Youtube as well, plus tons of other options. We even rented a movie off of iTunes the other day because the movie wasn’t even out on Redbox yet. It works off your wifi and is so easy to use. You have a little remote and that’s all you need – play captain from the couch and watch whatever you like, whenever you like!

Well I hope these little features helped you put together your Christmas list this year, and if not – then maybe it helped your husband with some ideas other than a new blender 🙂 Either way, that’s what I’m here for! hehe

Hearts,
Ruby

Celebrate National Oatmeal Day on October 29th!

It has been incredibly cold lately, now that fall has set in. Today was chilly, windy, and a little gloomy. It made me want to curl up on the couch with a fleece blanket and watch some good TV! But that’s not all fall is good for. No, fall also brings the start of warm comfort foods. Like oatmeal!

In fact, did you know that National Oatmeal Day is on October 29th? Who knew that it would have it’s very own day? Totally worth it though, because it’s so good for you and tasty too! It’s filling, and it warms your belly! But there are more ways to eat oatmeal than just warmed in a bowl. Oh yes!! There are LOTS of ways to make oatmeal work for you.

You don’t want to go too crazy dressing up your oatmeal with sugars and such, but you can still dress it up with something just as healthy: berries! They help enhance oatmeal’s disease-fighting properties.

And before we get into the tasty oatmeal recipes, there are some facts about oatmeal that you should know, since it has it’s own day and all.

OATMEAL FACTS:

  • Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces low-density lipoproteins
    (LDL), or the “bad,” cholesterol.
  • 5-10g of soluble fiber daily can decrease your total and LDL
    cholesterol.
  • Eating 1-1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal provides 3g of soluble fiber. If you
    add a serving of fruit such as berries, you’ll consume 5g of soluble
    fiber in just one sitting!
  • Age-defying antioxidants in berries keep the mind sharp, eyesight strong,
    and they help to beef up your immunity.

Now, I know you guys are all itching to get some awesome oatmeal recipes that both you and your family can enjoy on those cold mornings this fall (and winter – because it IS Minnesota after all.) Let’s start with this tasty scone recipe provided by Driscoll’s.

Triple Berry Oatmeal Scones

Servings: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Old fashioned or quick cooking oats
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange or lemon zest (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature, cubed
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup mixed Driscoll’s berries like, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries, or 1 package (6 oz.) Driscoll’s blueberries, raspberries or blackberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray.
  2. Bake 14 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on wire rack.
  3. Combine flour, oats, sugar baking powder, orange zest, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until blended.
  4. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into mixture until resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. Add berries to dry mixture, carefully coat with dry mixture.
  6. Whisk egg, buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.
  7. Create a well in center of mixture. Pour buttermilk all at once. Carefully combine just until dough forms.
  8. Flour hands and place dough on a well-floured work surface and gently knead twice just to form into a ball. Pat into an 8 inch circle about 3/4 inch thick. With a floured spatula or sharp knife, cut even into 8 wedges.
  9. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving space between wedges.
  10. Brush tops with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.

Want more oatmeal recipes? Visit Driscoll’s website for tasty ways to make your oatmeal more delicious. And while you’re at it, be sure to check out the many ways to use bake with berries!

Have yourselves a very happy National Oatmeal Day! Bon appetit! 🙂

Hearts,
Ruby

Disclosure: I was not paid to write this post. All opinions expressed are my own. Driscoll’s did however provide me with coupons for berries to eat with my oatmeal this month.

Best Healthy Food Alternatives

Over the past year and a half, I’ve learned that it’s the little things in your recipes that will make the difference in healthy vs. hearty. I’ve made subtle changes in my ingredients that my husband hasn’t even noticed. I have even made foods for my dad who is the ultimate food critic and he didn’t notice anything either (thank goodness!) So I thought today I would share with you some healthy food alternatives for the heart food ingredients you are used to.

1.       Substitute Coconut Oil For Butter

You may have heard of this little trick but maybe you haven’t used it. Well it’s time to start! It is so much healthier (more omega-3 fatty acids) and if you buy the natural/organic stuff, it’s even better for you. Some people cringe when they see the organic coconut oil in the store (at my local grocery store it runs about $6.50 for a glass jar of coconut oil) but it lasts. You don’t need to use much, and it will last much longer than the butter or margarine that you would usually use.

Foods that I usually substitute coconut oil in for butter include cooked rice, baked chicken, frying eggs (on the pan), cooked veggies, stir-fry, really anything that requires butter in the bottom of your pan, you can use coconut oil.

2.       Use Stevia Instead of Sugar

I found this out earlier this spring when my personal trainer told me to eat grapefruits for breakfast with a pack of Stevia instead of sugar. But you can also do this in your coffee, your homemade drinks (iced tea, juice, etc.) or even just to sweeten a dish with a pinch of sugar.

3.       Substitute Apple Sauce For Vegetable Oil

When you are baking from a box (oh come on, we have all done it, don’t give me that look) it sometimes calls for a cup of vegetable oil. Fattening!! Instead, use a cup of apple sauce. It will provide the same results (a little bit different flavor, but probably only because you know what you did there) and is WAY healthier for you.

4.       Use Real Meat Instead of Processed

Yes, we are all usually in a hurry and want to cook meals as fast as possible. But that doesn’t give us any excuse when it comes to grocery shopping. And it may take a little longer to cook foods that aren’t already pre-cooked, but the taste and healthiness is worth it. So next time, instead of purchasing the already-made sausage patties from the store, try going to the meat market and buy your own sausage. Make your own patties. Processed meats (and foods in general) are terrible for you, and your gut.

5.       Make Quinoa Instead of White Rice

White rice is a carb that we’re all familiar with. It’s not completely unhealthy, but it could be better. Swap rice with quinoa instead and be prepared to notice a difference. If you’re not familiar with quinoa, it’s a lot like cous cous, in that it’s small little balls, and you cook it much like cous cous or rice as well. But quinoa instead is packed with protein and healthy omega-3’s. It’s an awesome alternative for adding a carb to your meals. Quinoa by itself is a little bland, we usually mix in a little coconut oil and some spices like oregano or basil. It takes a little getting used to but it’s a great trade-off.

Hopefully these healthy food substitutions will help you and your family get healthy this fall. Make small changes to every meal and it’s even possible to ‘sneak’ healthy into their daily meals. Now that’s something we can all wish for, right? 🙂

Hearts,
Ruby