Showing posts with label Margaret Schindel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Margaret Schindel. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Super Comfortable and Flattering Yoga Pants for Women

I finally discovered the joy of wearing comfortable yoga pants and workout leggings as an alternative to jeans or pants after beginning a successful ketogenic diet journey that culminated in a nearly 60–pound weight loss. After purchasing several different styles and sizes of yoga pants over the past 21 months, there have been three (so far) that I can recommend highly, each for different reasons. The pair I've chosen to feature in this product review, the IUGA high-waisted workout leggings, are by far the most comfortable yoga pants for women I've tried. 

They not only feel wonderful and are available in a choice of several, they're also flattering, even on those of us who aren't blessed with model-perfect bodies. 

Photo of IUGA yoga pants on model with superimposed text "The Most Comfortable Yoga Pants Super Soft Fabric That Doesn't Bag or Bind for a Flattering Fit
There's no bunching, bagging, or binding with these ultra-soft, ultra-comfy workout leggings! 

Yoga Pants and Workout Leggings Have Become Wardrobe Staples

The fashion experts at Vogue magazine just released this year's Vogue Wardrobe Essentials Guide. and black workout leggings are one of the editors' 34 wardrobe staples for 2021. (Who knew?)

Originally, yoga pants and workout leggings were made specifically for yoga practice and working out, respectively, and had different fabric and design features. But as they have evolved from fitness-only to fashion, those distinctions have gradually eroded, and now the terms "yoga pants" and "leggings" are often used either together or interchangeably in product descriptions.

Yoga Pants Provide Greater Comfort and Freedom of Movement Than Pants or Jeans

My first time buying a pair of yoga pants wasn't until shortly after my 65th birthday, when I began a health-driven weight loss journey and switched to a clean, ketogenic approach to eating. I completely eliminated sugars, grains, and highly processed foods from my diet, and between May 2019 and August 2020, I lost 59 pounds and went from a size 16-18 to a size 6-8. Every two to three months (even less, at the beginning), I was dropping a size, and boxing up my almost-new clothing to donate. Having to buy them again in a smaller size every few months meant limiting my clothing purchases to a few, basic wardrobe staples—underwear, jeans, black pants, shorts, and a couple of tops—until I reached my weight loss goal.

As you may have noticed, neither yoga pants nor leggings were on my initial list of wardrobe staples. I had always associated them with much younger, slimmer women and girls, with taut, toned bodies and cute figures, so they weren't even on my radar at that point! However, my attitude toward this type of clothing changed significantly once I accepted that my commitment to healthier living would require becoming more active, in addition to nourishing my body better.  

One of the most important benefits of losing weight and follow a clean, ketogenic diet was the amelioration, and eventual elimination, of the chronic, acute pain in my knees, hips, back, and feet that I had been living with for decades. Being able to go for a walk or a Segway ride with my husband  without being in agony was not just liberating, but life-changing! As I was searching online for a new, smaller pair of classic, high-waisted, basic black pants (which I wore more often than anything else I owned), I was surprised to see more high-waisted leggings and yoga pants than regular pants in the search results. It occurred to me that it might be a good idea to expand my list of wardrobe staples to include a couple of pieces of activewear, to support and encourage my efforts to make physical activity part of my new, healthy lifestyle. In fact, it might even be time for me to consider a pair of workout leggings a try.

Of course, I could wear them...but should I? Would it be possible for yoga pants to look attractive (or, at least, not unattractive) and age-appropriate, on this out-of-shape senior? I debated with myself for a while, but finally acknowledged that I couldn't see myself objectively, and decided to ask my husband what he thought, knowing he would give me his honest opinion. He encouraged me to order a pair and try them on. 

When I did, I was surprised and delighted at his reaction, which was more positive than I could have imagined! You could have knocked me down with a feather. I also was thrilled to discover how much more comfortable and less restrictive those yoga pants felt, compared to the jeans and tailored pants I had always worn, Before long, I found myself wearing them several days a week, not only for walks and Segway rides, but also for routine, everyday activities, like working, reading, cooking, or watching a movie. They quickly went from being completely off my radar to becoming a staple in my new wardrobe. 

I'm pulling my hamstring and calf muscles together as far as I can, the fabric doesn't bind or cut into them, it simply conforms to the compression I'm creating

Since that first pair, I have purchased other pairs from different brands and with slightly different features, and my IUGA high-waisted workout leggings have been the most comfortable yoga pants I've owned to date. 

What I Love Most About My IUGA High-Waisted Leggings

Ultra-Soft, Opaque Fabric

  • The first thing I noticed about these yoga pants was the extremely soft, silky, luxurious fabric, which gave these a totally different feel than any of my other leggings. The best word I can think of to describe it is "touchable," with a lovely, tactile quality similar to that of microfiber. 
  • The "non see through" fabric is completely opaque. 

Flattering Fit

  • The fiber content blends polyester for shape retention with spandex for excellent stretch and recovery, as well as abrasion-resistance.*
  • The 4-way stretch provides good compression and support. 
  • The high-waisted silhouette, seamed front and back yoke construction, and increased compression around the lower torso are designed to "contour your curves" and "pull in your tum and bum." 
  • They are made in six sizes, ranging from XS to XXL, and there's a size chart to help you determine which one will fit you best. (I followed the size chart when I ordered mine, and they fit me perfectly.)
* Note: The description on the Amazon product page states that the fiber content of these workout leggings is 80% polyester and 20% spandex. However, the fiber content printed inside my light blue IUGA yoga pants is 87% polyester and 13% spandex. Sometimes, a product's fiber content may vary slightly different from one color to another, which is one possible explanation for the discrepancy, but your guess is as good as mine.

Extremely Comfortable

  • The smooth, soft, supple polyester and spandex fabric also wicks moisture away from the body to keep you dry and comfortable while working out.
  • These yoga pants provide less compression around the the legs than around the lower torso, so they don't bind or cut into your legs, but also enough to remain conformed to your legs and prevent the fabric from bunching or sagging as you move, bend, and stretch. 

Waistband Pocket

Photo of built-in pocket in the waistband of the IUGA workout leggings/yoga pants
  • The built-in pocket is completely hidden, and remains undetectable unless or until you decide to place something inside it.
  • Although I haven't had to use it very often, I'd guess it could easily hold a couple of keys, a lip balm, and a few tissues, for example.  
    • According to the product description, "You will be able to stash your phones and keys safely." Keys? Probably. But unless your phone is quite small, I wouldn't consider the waistband pocket a secure place to stash it. 
  • Access is easy and convenient.

Excellent Quality

  • I purchased my IUGA High Waisted Leggings three months ago, and I machine wash and then hang them over a clothes drying rack to dry. After having laundered them quite a few times so far, there appears to have been no fading, pilling, or changes in the fit or performance of these yoga pants. 
  • At the time this post was published, they had more than 5,400 5-star ratings from Amazon customers.

A Choice of Colors and Lengths

  • Currently, these yoga pants come in black, dark coffee (dark brown), dark violet, dark blue, gray, light blue, pale red violet, carnation purple (lilac), maroon, and tranquil green. 
    • Note: The ones I own are the "light blue" shade. In real life, the color is a bit less aqua than it appears in the Amazon product page photos.  
  • Most of the colors (but not all) are offered in both regular and capri lengths. 

Very Affordable

  • These IUGA workout leggings retail for $24.95 and, at the time of publishing, were priced at $19.95 on Amazon with Prime free one-day shipping and free returns for Amazon Prime members.

Super Comfortable and Flattering Yoga Pants for Women review by Margaret Schindel


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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Open Jars Easily With Jar Heads Rubber Jar Opener Gripper Pads

I have always found opening jars with very tight lids to be a challenge, since I have fairly small hands and limited grip strength. Now that I'm over 65 and my hands are weaker, that task evolved from a challenge into a struggle, until I discovered Jar Heads rubber jar opener gripper pads. They make opening jars significantly easier for anyone, and are especially helpful for someone with small, weak, or arthritic hands. They're also thoughtful, practical gifts for seniors. 

Here is my product review of these terrific Jar Heads jar opener rubber grips, which have become kitchen essentials at our house.

Main image text: "Made in the USA Jar Heads non-slip textured rubber grip Jar Openers from 100% post-consumer recycled tires"

Finding the Best Jar Opener For People With Limited Grip Strength or Arthritis Can Be Hard

There are many types of jar opening tools and gadgets on the market. Many, if not most, claim to be good for seniors and people with weak hands or arthritis. Nearly all of them have mostly 5-star ratings and glowing reviews on Amazon. (It's really unfortunate that Amazon's customer ratings and reviews system seems to be easily "gamed," and isn't nearly as helpful in making purchasing decisions as it used to be.) So, despite having more experience than most with online product research and comparison shopping, I found that picking out a jar opener that had a high probability of living up to those claims was a bit like playing roulette. 

So, if you are looking for an extremely effective jar opener that not only would be a welcome addition to any kitchen, but could also be a blessing for someone with small or weak hands, arthritis, or limited grip strength, I hope to spare you considerable time and effort by summarizing the most popular types of jar openers available and sharing some of the products I purchased, or seriously considered, before I discovered the awesome Jar Heads rubber jar gripper pads that I have been using, and loving!

The Most Popular Types of Jar Openers and Rubber Jar Grips

Traditional Handheld Jar Openers

In my experience, most traditional jar openers and screw-top bottle openers are only moderately effective, and often quite frustrating. 

  • None of the ones without teeth that I've tried over the years, especially the strap wrench (AKA grip wrench or loop wrench) types, have worked well on very tightly sealed screw-top bottles or glass jars with metal lids.
  • I've found that, for the most part, jar openers with sharp, serrated teeth (like the older version of this OXO Good Grips Jar Opener I've owned for many years) can be more effective than the "toothless" models at breaking the vacuum seals on new, unopened glass food jars. Unfortunately, they often end up skidding around the rim of those stubborn, firmly stuck, tightly sealed metal lids, rather than biting into and gripping the metal securely as you twist the lid counterclockwise. Consequently, the teeth can score a deep, sharp-edged gash around the perimeter of the pugnacious jar lid, whether or not the jaws successfully break the seal and loosen the lid. Sometimes I have had to wrap the sides of those lids with flexible, nonwoven, self-adhesive bandage strips to protect our hands from the sharp, jagged-edged score lines around the rim when we subsequently open or close the jar.
  • All these types of handheld jar openers require not only grip strength in both hands (the one that holds the jar and the one that turns the lid), but also sufficient leverage to twist the jar and lid in opposite directions. 

Mounted, Under-Cabinet Jar Openers

Two of the issues with traditional handheld jar lid and screw-top bottle openers are weak grip strength and lack of leverage. A jar opener that is mounted securely to the underside of a cabinet above the kitchen counter(s) and has a V-shaped area with large, serrated metal teeth on one side of the "V," such as the popular and highly rated EZ Off Jar Opener, can help with both these issues, and also accommodate a wide range of bottle cap and jar lid diameters. It enables you to grip the jar more securely with both hands as you turn it counterclockwise, and holds the lid firmly in place as you twist the container.

When trying to open very tightly sealed jars, however, the large, serrated teeth could bite into the sides of the metal lids deeply enough to cut grooves or gouges with sharp, jagged metal edges.

Automatic Electric Jar Openers

Many women (especially those who have limited grip strength), seniors, and people who suffer from arthritis are fans of automatic electric jar openers, and find that these (theoretically) hands-free electric openers give them a greater sense of independence in their daily lives. They can be quite effective at opening straight-sided glass jars (ideally without rounded "shoulders" at the top) that have tightly sealed, hard-to-open, metal screw-top lids.

However, these kitchen gadgets are more expensive than most manual bottle or jar openers, and have some limitations that manual openers don't. 

  • These automated openers should not be used with plastic jars or on plastic lids. 
  • While it is possible to use this type of automatic opener with tapered glass jars, doing so requires placing a hand on top of the gadget and maintaining firm downward pressure to prevent the plastic arms from slipping. Obviously, that isn't optimal, particularly for someone with arthritic or weak hands.
  • If one of these electric jar openers malfunctions, or just slips off a glass jar with "sloping shoulders" (potentially knocking it over, and perhaps causing it to break), they don't turn themselves off automatically, which I consider a safety risk. 
  • This type of opener operates fairly slowly, and it is important to wait until the entire automated cycle is complete before removing both the gadget and the newly-loosened bottle or jar lid. For someone who either lacks patience or needs to prepare a meal in a hurry may find this wait frustrating, or even be tempted to try to stop or remove their automatic electric jar opener prematurely. If they remove it during the cycle, the opener will continue to operate until the cycle completes, and stopping it mid-cycle would require removing the batteries while it was still running, which would be dangerous. 
  • They are wider and bulkier than most other types of jar openers, and may not fit in a crowded kitchen tools drawer.  
  • Most run on two AA batteries, which will need to be replaced for as long as the product remains in use. 
Despite those limitations, these electric jar openers are a wonderful option for anyone who is physically unable to grip both a jar and its lid securely and twist it open with the aid of a handheld or under-cabinet jar opener or rubber gripper pads. As long as they can press the enormous button on the top of this tool to initiate the cycle, the process of opening a jar is fully automated and hands-free, except for jars that are tapered or have rounded "shoulders." (As I mentioned, opening those types of jars requires placing a hand on top of the device and holding it firmly in place throughout the entire automated cycle, to prevent it from slipping off the lid, which makes that a hands-on vs. a hands-free operation.)

Rubber Jar Openers AKA Rubber Jar Grips, Jar Opener Rubber Grips

I would never had considered buying a rubber jar opener, or even looked at the terrific Jar Heads rubber jar opener gripper pads, if my husband and I hadn't received one as a promotional gift from our favorite local barbecue restaurant many years ago, when we lived in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood. It was a large, pig-shaped cutout made from a thin, pink, textured rubber sheet, emblazoned on one side with the restaurant's whimsical logo and its address, phone number, and website in bold, black permanent ink. At the time, we thought it was a cute idea, but nearly threw it out. How could this flimsy piece of rubber sheet work better than a traditional jar opener with sharp, serrated, stainless steel jaws? 

Fortunately, we never got around to tossing it. One day, on a whim, I decided to give it a try. I was astonished at how much faster and easier I could open a brand new jam jar with an extremely tight lid by using this silly, pig-shaped, subtly textured rubber "rag" than with any of the traditional handheld jar openers I had owned over the years. When my husband came home from an errand, I was excited to show him how much more securely I was able to maintain a grip on a stubborn lid and twist it open successfully with Porky's help, compared to my usual struggles with hard-to-open jars. Seeing how well it worked for me piqued his curiosity, and he wanted to experience the difference  between using this thin, rubber jar opener pad and using our traditional model, with stainless steel jaws with large, sharp teeth on one of the sides. Even though my husband is very strong, has a powerful grip, and doesn't need the help of a jar opener most of the time, he also was impressed by Porky's performance. He also liked the idea of using this simple rubber jar gripper pad to help him subdue the occasional extra-defiant lid and break the vacuum seal without having to rely solely on brute force. 

It's ironic that this mildly amusing, but seemingly worthless piece of thin, floppy, lightly textured rubber sheet, which we had nearly thrown in the trash bin, turned out to be by far the most useful, memorable, and appreciated promotional item either of us has ever received from any business. In addition, my husband and I soon figured out that if we could get two of these rubber jar openers, using one in each hand would strengthen my grip on the jars as well as the lids and increase my leverage, so that I wouldn't need as much strength or have to use as much force to open even stubborn jars with tightly sealed lids. 

At the time, our crazy work schedules and pressing family health issues left us with neither the time or energy to pursue the possibility of acquiring a second Porky. Then, after several years of loyal service, poor Porky met his demise in the line of duty, when the thin rubber sheet tore as grappled with one recalcitrant jar lid too many. Since we were no longer living in the city, I decided to call the barbecue restaurant and ask whether they still had any of their old promotional jar opener rubber grips and, if so, whether they would let me purchase half a dozen (two for immediate use and four more as spares). That's how I learned, to my dismay, that the restaurant had closed the previous year.

It was it was time to begin the search for a worthy successor to our beloved porcine rubber jar opener. 

I looked high and low for something similar, but there wasn't much to choose from at the time. I purchased a pair of white, flower-shaped, jar opener rubber grip pads, currently sold as NORPRO 597 Non-Slip Rubber Jar Openers, so I could use one in each hand to help me hold the glass jar securely while I twisted the lid open. I also liked the wider, 5.5-inch diameter of this style, and the rubber was thicker and, presumably, more durable. Unfortunately, that thickness made the rubber much stiffer and less pliable, so it couldn't conform to the lid, and the surface was smooth and almost slick, all of which made it harder to get a good grip with these, despite the "non-slip" marketing claim, 

A few years later, I found two more possible contenders. One was a set of natural rubber jar openers with an open waffle pattern similar to foam shelf liner, which also had a wider, 6-inch diameter. And, since they came in a set of four, I would have one to hold the jar, one to grip the lid, and two extras for backup. However, I worried whether the soft foam material and open weave might make them less grippy or less durable than I needed (or both), and in reading through the customer reviews, I found several that mentioned those issues. 

The other contender, the Prepworks by Progressive Jar Grips Multi-Purpose Lid Openers, looked very promising. This set of three rubber jar openers includes one teal blue, square grip pad approximately 5" wide, made from thin, flexible, lightly textured rubber sheet that looks to be very similar in weight, thickness, and flexibility to that the jar opener we had; a somewhat smaller green round sheet made of a slightly thinner material, and a red, 2" wide, rubber grip shaped like a truncated cone for gripping bottle lids, and made thicker and, presumably, somewhat sturdier material. Unfortunately, as I read through the numerous reviews, many of the customers who gave this set 5-star ratings did so primarily because of the bottle opener. People seems much less enthusiastic about the two rubber jar openers, which some considered too flimsy and likely to tear.

Jar Heads Rubber Jar Opener Gripper Pads for the Win!

When I felt that my search for Porky's replacement had reached the point of diminishing return, I decided to stop looking for additional candidates and go with options I might have missed, order a set of Jar Heads rubber jar openers, and cross my fingers that they would actually live up to their claims. 

Lady Luck must have been smiling on me, since the first time I used my new Jar Heads rubber jar opener grippers, I knew at once that I had hit the product roulette jackpot with these well made, easy to use kitchen gadgets!

Here are the main attributes, features, and benefits that led me to choose Jar Heads Rubber Jar Opener Grippers over the other rubber jar openers on my "short list" of contenders. 

Thin and Flexible Enough to Conform to Jars, Bottles, and Lids, Yet Tough Enough to Hold Up Under Pressure, and Over Time

  • Even though these jar opener pads are only about 1/16" thick, they're also sturdy and substantial.
  • Made from recycled rubber tires, which are designed to withstand much more abuse than twisting open bottle and jar lids! 
  • After 10 months of frequent use, and being squeezed into a drawer crammed with kitchen tools and kitchen gadgets in between uses, all five of our Jar Heads still look, feel and perform the same as they did when I first opened the package. 

Made From 100% Post-Consumer Recycled Tires

  • Uses sustainable, eco-friendly, recycled material and manufacturing practices.

Superior Grip Strength Lives up to "Non-Slip" and "Works Great for Weak Hands,...Seniors With Arthritis and Children" Claims 

  • While nearly every rubber jar opener product’s marketing makes these claims, few live up to them.
  • By contrast, Jar Heads take advantage of the powerful grip strength that has been engineered into the rubber tires from which these jar opener gripper pads are made, which also gives them exceptional durability

Wide Enough to Grip Large Jars, Flexible Enough to Grip Small Bottles

  • The 5" diameter make these rubber discs are wide enough to grab onto even oversized pickle jars or  party-sizes pretzels sold in bulk at warehouse stores like Costco or Sam's Club.
  • They are also thin and flexible enough to grip a small, slender hot sauce bottle and its extremely small screw-on lid. 

Made in the USA

  • Buying products made in the USA supports American companies, workers, and their families.  

Sold in Sets of Five

  • That's enough to share, or use in pairs, and still have spares!

Strong, High-Quality Jar Openers for $2.50 Apiece

  • At the time this post was published, a 5-pack of Jar Heads was selling on Amazon for $12.50, with free shipping for Amazon Prime members. That works out to just $2.50 each for these excellent jar opener rubber grips! 
  • At that low price, you could give these out as stocking stuffers to everyone on your holiday gift list, or as small "just because I'm thinking of you" gifts any time of year.

30-Day, 100% Money-Back Satisfaction Guarantee

  • I respect and prefer to buy from companies that have enough confidence in the quality and performance of what they make or sell, and have a strong enough commitment to their customers to stand behind their products with a risk-free, 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee. 

    Jar Heads are sold by First Class Products of NY, which describes itself as a "Small Family Run Business founded in New York" on its Amazon Seller Profile Page, where you can contact them directly with a question or concern, and also read the overwhelmingly positive seller feedback from their Amazon customers. 

A screenshot of the seller's Amazon Seller Profile page 

Jar Heads Make Great Gifts for Seniors

Or Anyone With Small or Weak Hands or Limited Grip Strength

  • Gives them more confidence to open jars and bottles by reducing the legitimate fear of losing their grip on glass containers and knocking over or dropping them, potentially causing them to break into dangerous, sharp glass pieces and shards.
  • Reduces the frustration and embarrassment of needing to rely on someone else to take care of this routine task for them, and waiting for someone to be available to help.

A Helpful, Inexpensive Aid That Makes Anyone, Regardless of Their Grip Strength

  • Even people who have strong enough hands to loosen tight lids or break the vacuum seals on new, unopened bottles and jars will appreciate how much less effort it takes to open them with the help of these Jar Heads rubber grip pads.


Jar Heads Rubber Jar Opener Gripper Pads product review by Margaret Schindel


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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

VOLO Hero Premium Microfiber Hair Towel Product Review

I have worn my hair long for the past 60 years (yikes!). Although it began thinning about 15 years ago, for most of that time, my hair was thick as well as long. It has also been highlighted or color treated for the past 30 years. Like most people with long, thick, hair, especially if it has been colored, chemically processed, or heat-styled for a long time, I'm always looking for ways to dry my hair faster—without added stress to my tresses. I have purchased hair towels, hair wraps, and turbans, in a variety of shapes, fabrics, and sizes, with and without a button and loop or elastic closure, and from different brands. All of them promised to deliver everything I was looking for in a hair towel, claiming their towel would dry wet hair in half the time, be easy to wrap and close securely, stay in place without shifting, and without pulling or tugging on vulnerable, wet strands or abrading the hair's cuticle, which causes frizz. 

Unfortunately, none of them delivered on everything they claimed, and all fell short of my (admittedly high) hopes and expectations. But that was before I bit the bullet and invested in the VOLO Hero Microfiber Hair Towel, a premium product with a price tag to match. I thought about it for close to a year before deciding to see whether this could finally be the hair towel that lived up to its hype. I have been using it for the past two months, and so far, I have nothing but good things to say about it. It delivers on the marketing promises, and has significantly outperformed every other hair towel I have used. 

If you're happy with your current hair towel, there's no reason to spend more on one of these. However, if you have long, thick, color-treated, or damaged hair, and you can comfortably afford to upgrade to a higher quality, larger, more absorbent microfiber hair towel that can dry your hair faster and more gently, I highly recommend giving consideration to the VOLO Hero Premium Microfiber Hair Towel, which the company also refers to on its website as the VOLO Hero Quick Dry Towel. 

Main image - text - "Do VOLO Hero & Super Hero Hair Towels live up to the hype?"


Why the VOLO Hero Microfiber Hair Towel Is the Best Towel for Drying Long or Thick Hair

Based on my own experience, these are the features and characteristics that put the VOLO Hero Microfiber Hail Towel head and shoulders (so to speak) above all the others I've tried. 

Soft, Silky, Plush Microfiber Fabric Absorbs More Water, Wicks It Away Better, and Dries Hair Faster vs. Cheaper Hair Towels

Microfiber is known for its ability to absorb many times its own weight in liquid, and then wick away that moisture. This makes it ideal for drying hair. 

However, not all microfiber towels are equally effective at absorbing and wicking away moisture! 

Microfiber fabrics with longer, finer, more numerous fibers not only absorb more liquid, but also wick it away faster than those with shorter, thicker and fewer fibers.  

Close-up photo of VOLO Hero Hair Towel's plush microfiber pile fabric
This extreme close-up shows the thick, plush, super-absorbent pile of the VOLO Hero Hair Towel's premium microfiber fabric that allows it to dry wet hair faster and more efficiently

The cloud-soft, microfiber fabric of the VOLO Hero Hair Towel features an extremely plush, dense pile made up of many long, smooth, slender fibers, so it can absorb and wick away more water from your hair than other towels, pulling that moisture up to the surface where it can evaporate. 

According to the manufacturer, this premium microfiber towel can absorb 10x its weight in water and reduce drying time by 50% by removing more water than other towels. Although I have never tried to weigh and compare the amounts of water absorbed by different hair towels I have owned or the residual moisture in my hair after using them, my hair is noticeably drier, and in less time, since I replaced my previous microfiber turban with my VOLO Hero hair towel.

Large, Flat Rectangular Shape = More Surface Area That Absorbs More Water vs. Triangle- or Teardrop-Shaped Wraps

Most hair drying towels, wraps, and turbans on the market consist of of two pieces of microfiber towel fabric, joined with a center seam to form an elongated triangle- or teardrop-shaped pocket that tapers to a point. This photo shows my old, light blue Aquis hair towel next my new, grey VOLO Hero Microfiber Hair Towel. 

To do a fair visual comparison of the total surface areas of these two towels, we need to double the visible footprint of the folded Aquis towel, since the two halves can't be laid out flat without ripping out the center seam.

Side-by-side photo of large, rectangular VOLO Hero Premium Microfiber Hair Towel and much smaller Aquis teardrop-shaped, seams hair towel
The tapered end of a seamed, curved, teardrop or triangle-shaped hair wrap or turban is to narrow to hold much hair, or absorb much water.   

Looking at these towels side by side, even after visualizing the half of the Aquis towel that can't be seen, there is obviously a significant difference between the volume and surface area of these two towels. 

This Oversized, Thick, and Plush Microfiber Towel Can Hold a Lot of Wet Hair, and Dry It Faster and More Effectively

The signature VOLO Super Hero Microfiber Hair Towel measures a generous 39.4 x 23.5 inches, which gives it enough length and width to easily accommodate even long, thick hair, and enough surface area to draw water out of even the most luxuriant locks and copious curls. 

It had dried my long hair noticeably better, and in much less time, than any other hair towel I've ever used. 

Comfortable to Wear, and Gentle on Your Hair

Over the years, I have tried several different elongated, triangle- or teardrop-shaped, turban-style hair wraps, and disliked them all. Here's why: 

  1. Most had a button and loop closure that I found awkward to use, especially since I preferred to have it at the nape of my neck, which meant fumbling with it behind my head without being able to see what I was doing. 
  2. If I fastened it in the front, the tapered part of the towel was too narrow to cover the front of my hair. 
  3. The wrap wouldn't cover my hair, or the weight of my long, wet hair would eventually cause it to shift to one side or sag down in the back, unless it twisted the long, narrow "tail" tightly. 
  4. Unfortunately, twisting it enough to keep both the towel and my hair in place immediately gave me a headache. It made towel drying my hair more like torture! 
  5. Putting my hair under so much torsion and tension when it was wet and, therefore, more vulnerable to breakage or abrasion of the cuticle (the root cause of frizziness). 
The first time I used my new VOLO Hero Microfiber Towel, I couldn't believe the difference in ease of use, comfort, and drying speed.  

The much larger size and rectangular shape makes enclosing my entire head of hair, from roots to tips and nape to hairline, practically effortless. After bending forward, a bit, I drape the towel over my head, with the elastic strap centered above the nape of my neck. Then, I just bring the ends of the towel around my hair, cross one end over the other, give them one or two loose twists, and bring them up and over my head, pulling the ends through the elastic strap at the back to secure them. No pulling, tugging, or tension on my hair or my scalp, no headaches, no breakage, and no risk of roughing up the cuticle and causing more frizz than I already have (thanks to decades of highlights and hair coloring). 

The thick, plush, microfiber fabric results in wider twists that form a taller turban than typical hair wraps, which keeps the bulk of the wet hair (and, therefore, the weight) centered on top of my head, instead of toward the back, so it seems less prone to shifting. I'm honestly amazed at how loosely I can wrap this towel and have it still stay put.

This hair wrap is so comfortable, and feels so soft against my face, that I'm happy to leave it on for as much time as I have (which is a welcome change from those tight, headache-inducing turbans!). 

The Softest, Silkiest, Most Luxurious Hair Towels Imaginable

That plush, dense, fine microfiber pile doesn't just provide superior absorbency and wicking properties that can dry wet hair faster and more thoroughly. It also makes these VOLO Hero and VOLO Super Hero Premium Microfiber Hair Towels incredibly soft, silky, lightweight, and luxurious to the touch. 

I never imagined that a towel could not only dry wet hair so quickly, but also feel so opulent!


Amazon product image - VOLO Hero Microfiber Hair Towel
VOLO Hero Microfiber Hair Towel - image courtesy of Amazon.com

There's Also a VOLO Super Hero Quick Dry Hair Towel for Drying Super Long, Super Thick Locks

The VOLO Super Hero Hair Towel is made with the same ultra-soft, plush, silky, premium microfiber fabric, but is seven inches wider and has 30% more fabric than the original, signature VOLO Hero towel. The VOLO Super Hero's whopping 39.4 x 30.5 inch size would be a match for even Lady Godiva's famous, ankle-length mane! 

A Premium Product With a Premium Price Tag 

I discovered the VOLO Hero through a rave review by a well known fashion and beauty expert. Even though it sounded like exactly what I had been searching for all these years, I resisted buying one for nearly a year because of the price. Since none of the other towels I had purchased lived up to their ambitious claims or 5-star customer reviews, why would I believe that this one would be different? It seemed gullible, as well as extravagant. to spend $39 for ANY hair towel that didn't have a $20 bill clipped to it, lol.

After 10 or 11 more months of needless aggravation every time I shampooed, I decided enough was enough. So, I finally bit the bullet and ordered a VOLO Hero microfiber hair towel. If you've gotten this far in my product review, I'm sure it will come as no surprise that I am absolutely thrilled with my purchase, and consider it well worth every penny I paid for it. My only regret is not having bought it much sooner!

For someone with extremely long or very thick hair, I definitely would recommend the VOLO Super Hero version that, for $10 more, gets you an extra 7 inches of width and 30% more fabric, so can easily accommodate even the longest, most voluminous hair, and absorb the higher volume of water from all that extra hair. 


VOLO Hero Premium Microfiber Hair Towel Product Review by Margaret Schindel


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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan Review

I discovered the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Baking Pan line while researching options for replacing my old Teflon nonstick baking pans with ones that had newer, more durable, and safer PFOA-free coatings. 

I purchased the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro 1-Lb. Loaf Pan recently, and I am quite impressed with its value and performance so far. In fact, I'm seriously considering buying other pans from this line to replace my older Teflon nonstick bakeware.

Main image - text over textured background reads "Why the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan Deserves a Place in Your Kitchen"
This durable one-pound loaf pan features a durable molded, seamless construction, sturdy square-rolled edges to prevent warping, and a PFOA-free nonstick coating in a light champagne-gold color and micro-textured bottom surface that promote even baking.

Pre-2015 Nonstick Bakeware Is Not Safe to Use

Until six years ago, most nonstick bakeware (and cookware) used a Teflon coating made with both PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PFOA has been linked to cancer and other health risks, and is one of a group of manmade chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In 2006, because of concerns about the impact of PFOA and long-chain PFASs on human health and the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a PFOA Stewardship Program, asking the eight leading companies in the PFAS industry to commit to voluntarily eliminating PFOA and related chemicals and emissions by 2015. 

PTFE continues to be used in Teflon and other nonstick coatings, and while some people have concerns about its safety, most experts consider nonstick bakeware and cookware with coatings containing PTFE to be safe, as long as they are:

  • treated and cleaned with care to avoid scratches or abrasion
  • not overheated or preheated empty
  • replaced after a few years, when the coating begins to show signs of fine scratches or abrasion
  • discarded as soon as the coating is scratched or chipped 

Time to Replace Old Nonstick Baking Pans!

Last year, I replaced all my old nonstick pots and frying pans with Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware. During my research, I discovered that some of the newer nonstick coatings not only are safer, but also perform better than older types. Now, I'm starting the process of replacing my large collection of older nonstick baking pans, too. (Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware has a diamond-infused ceramic nonstick coating that is both PFOA-free and PTFE-free, and that I know from experience delivers excellent performance. If only they made baking pans, too!)

I became an avid home baker at the tender age of nine. During my mid-twenties and early thirties, when I was married to an attorney at a prominent New York City law firm, we did a lot of formal entertaining, and our dinner parties always ended with a choice of elaborate cakes or pastries for dessert. Now, more than 30 years later, I am happily married to a man in a different profession, and we live in the Boston suburbs, and if I never host another five-course dinner party extravaganza, that will be just fine with me! Since I live a very different lifestyle now than I did back then, I've decided to replace only the pans I use on a regular basis, rather than the entire, extensive collection of both basic and specialty bakeware I am getting rid of.

Since trying out nonstick pans from a few different companies was a successful strategy that helped me determine which brand and type of coating performed best in my kitchen, I'm planning to follow the same approach as I begin the process of replacing my old nonstick baking pans 

Ever since I switched to a low carb keto approach to eating in May 2019, I have been baking, rather than buying, the majority of the low carb bread I use. So, I decided to shop for a nonstick loaf pan first. 

After doing a bunch of online research, as usual, before deciding which one to buy, I recently ordered an OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan (with fast, free shipping, thanks to Amazon Prime!). I thought it might be helpful to share the things I looked for in narrowing down the available options, and why I ultimately chose this particular pan. I will need to see how well it performs over time before I can recommend it without reservations. 

I often like to bake two loaves of bread and put one in the freezer, which doesn't take much more time and effort than baking a single loaf. Given my strategy of testing individual pieces from a few different brands (or with different coating materials), I'm still trying to decide which one to buy for my second nonstick loaf pan. However, when I do, I am looking forward to comparing how the two measure up against each other. Stay tuned for future updates!

Key Features and Benefits of the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan

Amazon product image of OXO nonstick loaf pan
Product image courtesy of Amazon

I have long been a fan of the OXO kitchenware brand, and have been buying and using their products for a very long time. However, I was quite surprised to discover the OXO Good Grips brand (which I have always associated with kitchen tools and cooking utensils) on a line of bakeware, as I was doing my online research! 

It's definitely not a brand that comes to mind when I think about baking pans. But, since the kitchen tools and cooking utensils I have bought from them over the years have been durable, well made, and well designed, I decided to give OXO the benefit of the doubt and keep an open mind. I'm glad I did!

Here are the most important features and attributes that influenced my decision to choose the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan, rather than one of the many other nonstick loaf pans on the market from competing brands.

Ceramic-Reinforced, Two-Layer, Commercial Grade Nonstick Coating for Durability

Obviously, the most important among my selection criteria when researching and shopping for a new loaf pan was a PFOA-free nonstick coating. I also knew from my experience with my Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick pots and pans that a ceramic component adds durability to nonstick coatings, so I was pleased that the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro line uses what the company describes as a "Swiss-engineered, PTFE, ceramic reinforced, two-layer, commercial-grade coating," ILAG Non-Stick Ultimate Resist R Plus, that resists scratching, staining, corrosion, and abrasion. These qualities help give these pans a longer, safer, useful life, as long as they are treated with care and not preheated empty or allowed to get too hot. (For example, I would never use a pan with a nonstick coating to bake a recipe with a topping that needs to be caramelized under the broiler.)

Light-Colored Nonstick Coating and Micro-Textured Surface for Even Baking

Most nonstick loaf pans, cake pans, muffin tins, and other bakeware has a dark coating. Unfortunately, since dark colors absorb heat, the sides and bottom of whatever you put in them bakes (or cooks, in the case of a meat loaf, for example) faster than the top or center of the pan's contents. In fact, by the time the center tests done, the bottom and sides are often overbaked or even burned. Until recently, all nonstick baking pans had dark-colored coating, which is why some recipes tell you to reduce the oven temperature if you use a nonstick pan. 

By contrast, light colors reflect heat instead of absorbing it. So using a pan with a light-colored nonstick coating promotes more even baking (or cooking). 

I first discovered bakeware with a light, metallic gold- or champagne-colored nonstick coating quite a few years ago at Williams-Sonoma. Then Nordic Ware came out with gold-colored nonstick versions of their gorgeous, elaborate, specialty baking pans. I confess, I have secretly coveted them ever since! But back when I was drooling over them, the prices for pieces with the light-colored coating seemed exorbitant, compared to the cost of their counterparts with the much more common dark-colored coating, and I refrained from indulging. 

When I started my current product research product, I was surprised and delighted to find that the prices for pans with a lighter champagne- or gold-colored nonstick coating have come down quite a bit, which makes these a much more affordable and practical option. 

I also love the look of these lighter-colored coatings. Since I usually make myself choose function over form when buying something practical, like a nonstick loaf pan, it's quite a treat to find one that whose excellent performance is also paired with a beautiful finish.

Extreme close-up photo of micro-textured surface on the bottom of the pan
The light-colored ceramic-reinforced PFOA-free nonstick coating promotes even baking, and the micro-textured bottom surface of the pan promotes airflow. 

There is also a unique, micro-textured surface pattern on the bottom that minimizes contact between the food and the pan, and allows some airflow under the loaf. I've found that this not only prevents my bread loaves from having a burned bottom crust, but also avoids sogginess that can occur from steam condensation when a freshly baked loaf needs to stay in the pan at the start of the cooling cycle before being removed to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Seamless Interior and Rounded Corners for Easy Clean-Up

One of my pet peeves about nonstick baking pans is the seams, especially the corner seams. I always grease my pans, even those with an anti-stick coating, before adding a dough or batter, sometimes followed by a thin coating of cocoa powder or low carb flour. Thoroughly cleaning the residue from the narrow points at the bottom corners, using nothing narrower or firmer than the edge of a soapy sponge (to avoid abrading the coating), can be challenging. 

I always dreamed of having nonstick baking pans with rounded corners and no seams, like my old glass cake pans. When I saw this OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro loaf pan, it felt like someone had overheard that dream and decided to make it come true.

The seamless interior and rounded corners really do make this loaf pan is an absolute breeze to clean! I'm pretty sure that the lack of seams or sharp corners will also make the nonstick interior less prone to wear or cracking.

Strength and Structural Rigidity for Warp Resistance

I have a few pieces of cookware and bakeware that, despite being constructed from heavy-gauge metal, tend to warp after they have been on a hot stove or in a hot oven for a while. This really bugs me, and especially on a nonstick pan, whose coating was not designed to hold up to repeated flexing and twisting! So, now that I'm shopping for new pans, I'm looking for ones that are made to resist warping. 

One of the things I liked about the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan it that was designed with structural integrity and rigidity in mind, which increase durability and help prevent warping. 

Square-rolled edge increases rigidity, creates a wider lip/more secure grip
This metal pan is made from commercial grade, heavy gauge, aluminized steel, which not only has excellent thermal conductivity for fast, even heat distribution, but also provides durability and structural stability. The micro-textured bottom also contributes to the pan's structural rigidity. 

The square-rolled edge is another important feature for better structure, strength, and durability. Unlike most loaf pans, whose rim is formed by folding the sheet metal over a piece of wire, the rim around the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan is formed from a single piece of steel, molded into what the company calls "a unique square-roll shape." This uniform construction and substantial, square-rolled edge creates a thick, solid rim that not only adds structural rigidity, it also makes the pan easier to grip and lift. That's a design feature I really appreciate, especially when I'm moving a full, hot metal loaf pan from the oven to a heatproof mat or cooling rack!

Commercial Grade Materials and Construction for Superior Performance

While it may be tempting to buy the cheapest nonstick pans you can find, since they have a limited recommended lifespan, in my experience, that approach is penny-wise and pound-foolish. I've only made that mistake twice, when I was much younger, and it taught me the value of spending a bit more to get nonstick bakeware made with high quality materials and durable construction. Commercial grade materials and construction, designed to meet the much more demanding requirements of a commercial kitchen, will perform better, last longer, and resist not only warping but also scratches and abrasion, significantly extending their safe, useful life before they need to be replaced. 

I have found that in the long run, the cost of buying well made, commercial quality bakeware and cookware is almost always a better investment than buying cheaper, lower quality, less durable pans that don't perform or hold up as well and need to be replaced much sooner.

Versatile Size for Different Types of Recipes

The OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan is designed for a 1-pound loaf, which is pretty standard. Since my previous loaf pans had always been 9" x 5" and this one is 8.5" x 4.5", I wanted to make sure the slightly smaller dimensions would work for the majority of recipes. 

The baking pros at King Arthur Baking Company are a trusted, authoritative source of professional expertise. Their advice (like their recipes) is consistently excellent, helpful, and reliable. So, when I was researching nonstick loaf pans, their website was one of the resources I turned to.

The King Arthur blog post on "Choosing the right bread pan" explain that some yeast bread doughs can be baked successfully in either a 9" x 5" or an 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pan, while others turn out better in one size pan or the other, depending on both the type of flour and the number of cups of flour the recipe calls for. 

According to the post, any yeast bread loaf recipe that uses 3 cups of flour (or slightly less) should be baked in an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" pan. A recipe that uses 3 1/2 cups of flour can be baked in either size pan (although the smaller loaf pan is recommended for whole grain breads and the 9" x 5" pan is preferred for yeast doughs made with all-purpose or bread flour). The only yeast bread doughs that definitely should be baked in the larger pan are single-loaf recipes that use at least 3 3/4 cups of flour, regardless of type. 

Since I can't foresee many occasions when I might want to bake a really large loaf of bread, the article confirmed that an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan would be fine for the majority of recipes, including the (yeast-free) low carb bread I'm mostly baking these days, most of which specify this pan size. It's also a nice size for baking a meatloaf whose slices fit neatly between two slices of bread. (Meatloaf sandwich, anyone? Yes, please!)

photo of length and width markings stamped into the inside of the nonstick loaf pan
The length and width markings are permanently stamped into the metal, instead of the more common printed dimensions that can wear off over time

I also really appreciate having the dimensions in both inches (4.5 x 8.5 in) and centimeters (11.5 x 21.5 cm) stamped permanently into the metal, in large, raised letters and numbers that are very easy to read, without having to turn the pan over to see them.

Note: The exterior dimensions of the OXO pan are 9" x 5", due in part to the wide square-rolled edges; however, the interior dimensions, which are the ones that count, are 8.5" x 4.5".

Made in the USA

It's getting harder to find well made, reasonably priced products manufactured in the USA. I prefer to buy American-made goods, when possible, so the fact that this OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro loaf pan is made in the USA was definitely a big point in its favor. It feels good to support American businesses that make high quality products and continue to manufacture them in this country and providing employment opportunities for American workers, especially now that so many companies have relocated or built plants in countries where they can lower their labor costs by paying cheaper wages.

Note: This pan is "Made in the USA from globally sourced materials." That's not surprising, since fewer and fewer products are being manufactured exclusively with USA-sourced materials. 

Excellent Value

For me, the value of a product is a function of both price and quality: is what the product provides in terms of function, form, useful lifespan, etc., worth the price? It's common for manufacturers to compete for market share by identifying popular, successful, highly rated products from other companies and creating their own versions (knock-offs) that look and sound extremely similar and cost less. But in order to sell the product for less, they need to manufacture it for less (or use a different distribution model, such as direct-to-consumer sales). And, often, the way they bring down the retail price is to cut corners, either by removing certain features or using less expensive (and usually lower quality) materials or manufacturing/construction methods. 

Since the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan looks quite similar to the higher-priced Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Loaf Pan of the same size, I decided to compare their technical specs and product descriptions before finalizing my decision to purchase the OXO pan. Here's how they stack up against each other, as of this writing, with differences highlighted in green (better value) or orange (not as much value):

OXO Good Grips Non-Stick ProWillams-Sonoma Goldtouch Pro
Size:8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75 inches high 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75 inches high
Capacity:1 lb.1 lb.
Where It's Made:Made in the USA with globally sourced materialsMade in the USA with globally sourced materials
Materials:Commercial-grade aluminized steelCommercial-grade aluminized steel
Light-colored, ceramic-reinforced, PFOA-free nonstick coatingLight-colored, ceramic-reinforced, PFOA-free nonstick coating
Max Temperature:Up to 450 ℉Up to 450 ℉
Dishwasher Safe:Yes, but hand washing recommendedYes, but hand washing recommended
Construction:Seamless, molded constructionSeamed, folded construction
Square-rolled rim formed from a single sheet of steelRim reinforced with coated wire
Micro-textured diamond-patterned bottom surfaceSmooth bottom surface
Price as of 1/12/21:$17.99 on amazon.com$21.95 on williams-sonoma.com
Shipping Cost:Prime FREE delivery (for Amazon Prime members)$6.99 shipping and processing fee for standard shipping (3-Day Select)
MA Sales Tax:$1.12$1.37
Total Cost (Delivered):$19.11$30.31

Based on the product information I was able to find on Amazon, Williams-Sonoma, and other retailers' sites, the two pans are extremely similar in some ways. However, the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan's seamless, molded construction and rounded corners give it an edge in terms of durability, warp-resistance, and ease of cleaning. Best of all, those superior features and attributes also come at a better price. The total cost for this pan, including the purchase price, sales tax, and delivery, is 30 percent less than the total delivered cost of the similar Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Loaf Pan!

Getting a better pan for less money definitely makes the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro pan an excellent value.

Timing is Everything!

The day before this post was published, I noticed this pan wasn't in stock on Amazon, but could be ordered with an expected delivery date in late February. However, it is a few minutes before this post is set to publish, and it appears that, at the moment, the pan is no longer available to buy new at the $17.99 price with free delivery. A couple of sellers are offering new pans for twice that price, and it's currently available in Used - Very Good condition from Amazon Warehouse for $16.55 with free Prime Delivery. If you're interested in getting one or more of these nonstick loaf pans, I suggest checking back once a week over the next few weeks to see when it becomes available to order new for $17.99 again with free Prime delivery.

Wouldn't Someone You Know Love to Receive a New, High Quality Nonstick Loaf Pan?

Most home cooks and bakers own at least one loaf pan. But chances are good that either they don't yet have a well-made, nonstick loaf pan that's in good shape and has a PFOA-free coating, or that they have a nonstick loaf pan (or two) that is starting to show a few scratches and is no longer safe to use, but they haven't yet gotten around to buying a new one to replace it. 

Either way, I'm sure that one (or a pair) of these OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pans would be a welcome addition to their kitchen cabinet, pantry, or wherever they keep their baking pans. And with a price tag of only $17.99, it's an affordable as well as thoughtful gift that they will likely get a lot of use from. 

Happy baking!


OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan Review by Margaret Schindel


Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

My First Year on The Keto Diet


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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

Keto and other low carb diets are increasingly popular, as the health benefits become better understood and more widely known. As someone who has lost a significant amount of weight (nearly 60 pounds) on a ketogenic diet and kept the weight off by maintaining a healthy, low-carb lifestyle, I'm reviewing my favorite gift ideas for anyone on your list who is trying to watch their carbohydrate intakes, or has plans to start a low carb or keto diet in the near future (perhaps once upcoming holidays, events, special occasions, or other celebrations—such as their, or your, birthday, graduation, anniversary, engagement party, wedding, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Valentine's Day, etc.). 

This special occasion or holiday gift guide is filled with thoughtful presents for any occasion that will support the health, wellbeing, and weight loss goals of the people you care about. There's no time like the present to give someone—including yourself—the gift of good health!

Main image: glitter background with text "The Best Gifts for someone on a Low Carb or Keto Diet"
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved.

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Gift Ideas for Keto Diet or Low Carb Newbies

If someone on your list has just started a low carb or ketogenic diet, or is planning to start on a specific date or after a certain holiday celebration or other special event, these gift ideas can help get them off to a good start.
  • A book that explains and helps them succeed on a keto diet by a respected and knowledgeable author. Keto: The Complete Guide to Success on The Ketogenic Diet, including Simplified Science and No-cook Meal Plans by Maria Emmerich and Suzanne Ryan's books Simply Keto and Beyond Simply Keto are all excellent choices.
  • A reliable, accurate and reliable digital food scale to help them weigh and track their calories, carbs, and other macros. I recommend looking for one that has a convenient tare function (which zeroes out the weight of a plate, bowl, cup, or other container before adding the food to be weighed), weighs in pounds, ounces, kilograms, and grams, registers additions accurately in very small increments, has a large, easy-to-read display, a smooth, easy-to-clean surface, and is made by a company that stands behind its products. I highly recommend the Nicewell 22 Lb. Digital Kitchen Scale. It meets all the aforementioned criteria, has a smooth, wipe-clean, durable stainless steel and tempered glass surface, and has a wide measurement range of 0.1 ounce/2–3 grams to 22 pounds/10 kg, added in 0.1 ounce/1 gram increments. Mine also has been much more reliable than the two previous digital food scales I've owned (from well known brands), and the flat surface lets me weigh food on a large plate or in a large bowl, without taking up a lot of valuable kitchen counter space. At less than $37 (as of this writing), its high accuracy and excellent features compared to cheaper models make it a very good value.
  • A selection of low-glycemic, keto-friendly sweeteners. Since each person's palate, digestive system, and metabolism are different, figuring out which types of keto-friendly sweeteners taste best to them, which ones cause them to experience an unpleasant aftertaste or noticeable cooling effect, which ones cause them gastrointestinal distress, and which ones elevate their blood sugar or knock them out of ketosis. Some people are much more sensitive than others to certain types of sweeteners. So, for someone who is just starting out, especially if they have a sweet tooth, a range of different types of granulated, powdered, and brown sugar replacements would likely be a welcome gift. 
  • One of the best articles to help you understand the differences and which keto sweeteners are best for specific uses is Carolyn Ketchum's "The Ultimate Guide to Keto Sweeteners" on her All Day I Dream About Food website. My favorite sweetener by far is BochaSweet "The Supreme Sugar Replacement," which tastes virtually identical to cane sugar, has no aftertaste, and comes in both granulated and powdered (confectioner's sugar) forms. It's also more expensive than other keto-friendly sweeteners, so it's a luxury a keto newbie might not splurge on to buy for themselves. 
  • An accurate and reliable digital body weight scale to help them track their weight loss progress. Our house is old and has settled, so the wood floors aren't perfectly level. As a result, I never had a scale that reliably displayed the same weight reading five minutes apart, until I bought myself the Etekcity High Precision Digital Body Weight Bathroom Scale with Ultra Wide Platform and Easy-to-Read Backlit LCD. In addition to its accuracy, I also love the big, easy-to-read, backlit digital display and the extra-wide, rock-steady platform (since my balance isn't that great when my feet are too close together). It measures within a weight range of 18–440 pounds (8–200 kg) in increments of 0.2 lb. /0.1 kg. Best of all, it costs less than $30!
  • A journal where they can track their progress against their goals in whatever way is most helpful to them—tracking food, exercise, sleep, water intake, body measurements, blood pressure, mood, how their clothes fit, how they're feeling, etc. Many food and exercise journals track just 90 days, and have limited (or no) flexibility in what you can track and in what format. I suggest choosing one like Eat Better, Feel Better, Live Better: A 52-Week Food Journal, which will allow your gift recipient track the things they care about most for an entire year. Even though I've used the Carb Manager app since the day I switched to a low carb keto lifestyle, I would have really benefited from also using a journal like this one where I could track more than just numbers.

Fun Gifts for Low Carb and Keto Enthusiasts

If your you're shopping for someone who is loving their low carb lifestyle, they're sure to love any of these.

Gifts for Someone Who Loves Cooking or Baking

Learning to cook without grains, rice, potatoes, or other starchy vegetables takes effort. Learning to make sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free baked goods has an even steeper learning curve! Companies are coming out with more—and better tasting—low carb and keto foods and ingredients all the time. 

In addition to the excellent digital food scale I mentioned previously, there are other types of kitchen tools and equipment I find myself using since adopting a healthier, low carb approach to eating.

Here are some gift ideas that would be welcome in any low carb kitchen.
  • A couple of really good, reliable low carb or keto cookbooks. Some that I can recommend highly are Carolyn Ketchum's cookbooks, especially The Ultimate Guide to Keto Baking (my low carb baking bible), and The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen, filled with foolproof, seriously yummy recipes to suit a wide variety of tastes; Maya Krampf's The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Cookbook (simple, delicious recipes with no more than 10 ingredients); Southern Keto: 100+ Traditional Food Favorites for a Low-Carb Lifestyle by Natasha Newton for anyone who loves Southern food; and all of Maria Emmerich's cookbooks, especially Keto Restaurant Favorites and Keto Comfort Foods. If your gift recipient has or will be getting an air fryer or an Instant Pot, Maria also has written low carb cookbooks for using both those popular kitchen appliances.
  • A vegetable spiralizer for making zoodles (zucchini noodles) and cucumber spirals. If your gift recipient is eating low carb but not following a strict keto diet, butternut squash noodles and carrot spirals can also be enjoyed in moderation, and add important nutrients including antioxidants, carotenoids, and Vitamin A, among others. 
  • A mini waffle iron for making chaffles. Chaffles are individual size, high-protein, low carb mini waffles, made from beaten egg, shredded mozzarella or other cheese, almond flour, and other ingredients, depending on the flavor. They're a favorite staple for many who follow a keto or low carb diet. There are myriad chaffle recipes, both sweet and savory. Chaffles are great topped with butter and sugar free syrup for breakfast, and can be used as a bread alternative for sandwiches, as a base for individual pizzas, or as a dessert, topped with keto-friendly ice cream, syrup, and/or whipped cream. They're quick and easy to make. They also freeze well and can be popped into a toaster or toaster oven for a grab-and-go meal or snack.

    Last year, about six months into my keto diet journey, I put the popular, very inexpensive DASH Mini Waffle Maker on my Christmas wish list, so I could see what all the chaffle buzz was about. It makes perfectly fine chaffles, and would be a great stocking stuffer. However, if you can afford a higher-end chaffle maker for your gift recipient, I would definitely recommend choosing one like the Cuisinart WAF-300 Belgian Waffle Maker with Pancake Plates, which can make as many as four (and as few as one) chaffles (or Belgian waffles, for household members who aren't watching their carbohydrate intake), and has an attractive, brushed stainless steel top cover; removable, dishwasher-safe, nonstick waffle plates (as well as a pancake plate that makes four perfectly round pancakes); lights that indicate when the unit has finished preheating and when the chaffles, waffles, or pancakes are done; and an audible alert beep. Although it has a large footprint, this waffle maker can be stored upright to save space, and comes with a set of tongs, a recipe book (for non-keto household members), and a 3-year limited warranty. I would love to receive this terrific piece of equipment as a gift for my keto kitchen (hint, hint)!
  • A selection of sugar free syrups made with a low glycemic sweetener, such as monkfruit, allulose, erythritol, and/or stevia. I love ChocZero syrups and have bought them in nearly every flavor they make (the current selection sold depends on the season). They're high in dietary fiber, low in net carbs, and extremely versatile. I use them often as toppings for low-carb pancakes, waffles, or chaffles. (I think ChocZero makes the best-tasting, low glycemic maple, maple pecan, and vanilla maple syrup on the market. Some people prefer the Lakanto maple flavored syrup, which is thinner and has a stronger maple flavor that I don't care for. To each his or her own!) ChocZero's line of syrups are also great for pouring over keto ice cream (Enlightened's yummy Keto Collection flavors are my favorites), and I love using these syrups for flavoring tea, coffee, hot chocolate, etc. They don't dissolve readily in cold liquids, so for cold drinks, I just dissolve a tablespoon or two of ChocZero syrup in two or three tablespoons of microwaved hot water, let it cool for a few minutes, and then stir the diluted syrup into it to my cold drink, along with a bunch of ice cubes. I also love Sukrin Gold syrup, which  has a taste and consistency surprisingly similar to honey, and is also sugar free and high in fiber.

    Make sure to tell your gift recipient to wipe the opening (and the surrounding area) of the ChocZero or Sukrin Gold syrup bottle with a hot, damp dishcloth right after they use the syrup. Otherwise, any residue in or around the opening will harden, and can make the lid/cap difficult to open next time. Also explain that these syrups should stored at room temperature, not in the refrigerator.

Low Carb and Keto Treats, Snacks, and Baked Goods

For many people, one of the hardest things about switching to a very low carb diet is having to give up their favorite starchy, salty, high carbohydrate snacks and baked goods, like pretzels, potato chips, cheese puffs, taco chips, crackers, and breads, rolls, and hot dog, hamburger, or sandwich buns, as well as sweet treats like candy, cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, and muffins. 

Although a very or moderately strict keto diet can help reduce or eliminate a person's addictive cravings for sugar, carbohydrates, and highly processed foods with little nutritional value, many of us who choose to follow a ketogenic diet for more than a few months find that including small to moderate amounts of healthier, low carb alternatives to the foods we used to crave makes this way of eating much more sustainable over the long term. So, unless your recipient follows a very strict keto diet (or plans to), they probably would be delighted to receive a gift of keto and low carb treats from you. 

Here are some delicious edible gift ideas.
  • Pork rinds. These light, crunchy snacks are a great keto friendly alternative to starchy potato chips. Crushed pork rinds are also a terrific substitute for bread crumbs!
  • Cheese crisps - you can make these yourself by placing squares of sliced Parmesan, muenster, Fontal, or other good "melting cheeses" two inches apart on a large nonstick griddle, heating them until they melt, spread out, and get bubbly, and letting them cool, or you can buy ready-to-each cheese crisps in single-serving bags. The two commercial brands of cheese crisps I've tried are Whisps and HighKey Keto Cheese Crunch, which are both good, but much more expensive than making them yourself.
  • Moon Cheese crunchy keto puffed cheese snacks - the high protein, low carb answer to Cheez Doodles and Utz Cheese Balls. They make five flavors: Cheddar, Gouda, Pepper Jack, Bacon Cheddar, and Garlic Parmesan. If you don't know your gift recipient's favorite type of cheese, there are also 5-pack and 10-pack variety assortments that include all five flavors.
  • Low carb crackers - it's hard to find ones that don't taste like cardboard, but the Fat Snax Almond Flour Crackers get excellent reviews, and there is a variety pack option that includes all three flavors: Cheddar, Sea Salt, and Everything (seasoned similarly to an "everything" bagel). They're also expensive (currently $14.99 for a bag of three on Amazon). 
  • Sugar free chocolate candy and chips sweetened with keto-friendly sweeteners. If your favorite "recovering carboholic" is also a chocoholic, they would surely be thrilled to unwrap a few of these delicious, low carb treats. Some of my personal favorites include HighKey's milk chocolate pecan caramel clusters (they taste exactly like the iconic turtle candies) and dark chocolate almond caramel clusters (absolutely incredible!); ChocZero's Keto Bark in a wide assortment of seasonal and year-round flavors; their peanut butter cups in white, milk, and dark chocolate, and their no sugar added dark, milk, and (my favorite) white chocolate chips; Good Dee's dark chocolate chips; and Lily's stevia-sweetened chocolate bars (especially the 70% cacao bars, like their sea salt extra dark chocolate bar). 
  • Keto cookies. I'm absolutely crazy for HighKey mini cookies, so much that I keep multiple bags of every flavor they make (so far—they keep adding new ones!) in my pantry, including their crisp mini almond and chocolate chip biscotti. Each serving of 5 to 8 cookies (depending on the flavor) has 3–5 grams of protein, 9–14 grams of fat, 1–3 grams of dietary fiber, and only 1–3 net carbs and 110–150 calories, They've also just come out with larger, individually wrapped coconut macaroons and cocoa coconut macaroons, which have just 1 net carb and 90 calories each, plus 1 gram of protein, 7–8 grams of fat, and 5 grams of dietary fiber, and are chewy, filling, and absolutely scrumptious. 
  • Sugar-free, grain-free baking mixes for making great-tasting, quick and easy keto treats with wholesome, high quality ingredients. There are so many wonderful mixes on the market, it's hard to choose just a few to include in this gift guide. In recent months, I've share my reviews of some of my favorite low carb and keto cupcake and muffin baking mixes and several flavors of Good Dee's low carb cookie mixes here on Review This Reviews. Good Dee's coconut snack cake mix absolutely delicious. In fact, I decided to use it as the cake layer for my birthday cake this year, which I split, filled, and iced with cream cheese frosting, topped with toasted unsweetened coconut and fresh raspberries. My husband, who also loves baked goods but doesn't follow a low carb diet, liked it so much that he asked me to make the same cake for his birthday the following month! If your gift recipient is more interested in savory baked goods, one of the key ingredients in my keto cheddar cheese and chive biscuits recipe is HighKey's excellent buttermilk biscuit mix. Livlo also has a very good biscuit mix. 

Gift Baskets

Arranging several related items to create an attractive composition inside a tissue paper-lined basket, wrapping it in a large sheet of cellophane, and tying it with a big bow is a simple way to create an impressive gift. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Keto Pasta Party Basket

For someone who loves pasta, having to give up delicious, starchy, comfort food favorites like spaghetti and linguine on a ketogenic diet can be a difficult sacrifice. Imagine their surprise when they open your gift basket and see four bags of delicious, nutritionally dense, low carb, Gnooda keto pasta, a couple of large jars of Yo Mama's Original Marinara Sauce (no added sugar and just 4 net carbs per 1/2-cup serving), a wedge of good, imported Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, and a festive red Microplane fine cheese grater so they can grate fine shreds of salty, cheesy goodness over the plates or bowls of warm pasta! To make it extra special, you could line the basket with a classic red and white checkered tablecloth, reminiscent of a typical Italian trattoria, wrap bright red, white, or green cloth napkins around the marinara sauce jars, imported cheese, and cheese grater, and add a couple of red, green, or white pillar candles, jar candles, votives, or tapers to help your gift recipient create the right ambiance for their pasta party, even (or, perhaps, especially if they're dining solo).  

Gnooda keto pasta is made from nutrient-dense lupin flour and fresh eggs, using age-old Italian pasta making techniques. A one-cup serving of cooked Gnooda pasta contains a whopping 22 grams of protein, 15 grams of fiber, 7 grams of fat, and only 3g of net carbs and 165 calories. As of this writing it is only available in the radiatore shape, and can only be purchased in four-bag increments directly from the company's website, Gnooda.com. Also, Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce is a good alternative if you can't get Yo Mama's Original Marinara Sauce.

Fit and Fabulous Basket

Fill a gift basket with things to support their fitness goals, and tailor the contents to their favorite form of exercise. For example:
  • For someone who enjoys playing tennis, your basket might include a new can of tennis balls, a new sun visor or sweatband, a few pairs of breathable, low cut, cushioned athletic socks, a high SPF, broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen (see my review of EltaMD® and Colorescience® mineral-based physical sunscreens), and some packets of low carb, sugar free, powdered electrolyte drink mix. 
  • For someone who doesn't have the time to get to the gym on a regular basis or travels a lot, you could fill a large gift basket with a nice-looking, breathable, lightweight T-shirt and leggings, a digital fitness tracker, and a canister of low carb, sugar free, powdered electrolyte drink mix (my favorite is Key Nutrients' Cherry-Pom Electrolyte Recovery Plus Replenishment Drink). Depending on how much you want to spent, you could also include a gift card to Amazon, Dick's Sporting Goods, or another sports equipment store for them to pick out a piece of at-home or on-the-road workout equipment, such as a medicine ball, a set of dumbbells or free weights, or a set of resistance bands they can use both at home and on the road.
  • For someone who hates to exercise but loves to dance, put together a "it's my (dance) party" basket, featuring a jazzy, comfortable, lightweight T-shirt with a matching or coordinating leggings or yoga pants and sweatband (the crazier and more fun and festive, the better), and a fun, upbeat, easy-to-follow dance workout, like Body Groove's Delicious Dance DVD Collection, Dance Your Heart Out DVD Collection, or Young at Heart DVD

Relax and Unwind Basket

Most people associate certain foods with comfort, and when we're feeling extremely anxious, stressed, upset, sad, hurt, or overwhelmed, many of us have the urge to soothe those feelings with familiar and, often, unhealthy "comfort foods." Unfortunately, giving into the impulse to "eat our emotions" can be self-sabotaging for someone who is trying to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle, and after the short-lived immediate gratification, they usually feel even worse after consuming a pint of ice cream or a bowl of macaroni and cheese. So, if someone who is following a low carb diet (or has any other type of dietary restrictions) is going through a rough patch, one of the ways you can support them might be to give them something other than food that can help them escape their troubles and help them feel better (even if it's only a temporary reprieve) without sabotaging their health and wellness goals. Here are some gift ideas to include in a customized "relax and unwind" basket: herbal teas; a mug with a personalized saying or image that has a special meaning for the recipient; traditional or flameless LED wax candles (preferably with one of the person's favorite scents); music to help them relax or lift their spirits; a soft, cozy robe, sweater, or throw; a guided meditation recording or DVD; an electric heated neck, shoulder, or back massager. 

One of my favorite herbal teas is the lovely, floral Republic of Tea Organic Elderflower and Green Rooibos Super Herb Tea. Also consider some of the herbal teas reviewed by my fellow contributors on Review This Reviews, including Louanne's Arbonne Essentials Herbal Detox Tea review and Pure Peppermint herbal tea review, Cynthia's Aveda Comforting Tea review, and BarbRad's Lifestyle Awareness Teas review

We have flameless LED candles in every room of our house, some that we purchased and others that we received as gifts. Our favorites by far are the Luminara real wax flameless LED candles. Their LED "flames" are signicantly more realistic than their competitors', thanks to Luminara's proprietary moving flame technology, which has been imitated but never equaled (at least, not so far). Ours have interchangeable remote controls, any one of whicht can turn all the Luminara candles in a room on and off with a single click (even though we've purchased them at different times, and from different stores), which is extremely convenient, considering how many candles we have. For the Luminara candles in our bedroom, we use the optional timer feature, which is on a 5 hours on/19 hours off cycle. (We set them to turn on at 6 pm and turn off at 11 pm, so we can go to bed by candlelight.) They're more expensive than other brands, but we think they're well worth the higher price.


Are you or someone you know following a keto diet or low carb lifestyle? If so, what other gift ideas would you add to this Low Carb and Keto Gift Guide ? I'd love to see your suggestions!

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide by Margaret Schindel


Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

My First Year on The Keto Diet


Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

My Personal Keto Testimonial

How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating


Read More Reviews About Health and Wellness by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Read More Reviews About Gifts by Our Review This Reviews Contributors




 




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