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

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Delicious Sugar-Free Keto Cookies That OREO Fans Will Love

If you are following a sugar-free, low carb or ketogenic diet or just trying to cut down on sugar and empty carbs, either for overall health and wellness or for weight loss, there are certain comfort foods from childhood that you may crave but try to avoid in favor of healthier options. 

Fortunately, there are now several brands of low carb chocolate sandwich cookies available to OREO lovers who want to eat healthier. Today, I'll be reviewing HighKey Sugar-Free Sandwich Cookies, which have the best clean ingredients for someone on a low carb, gluten-free, sugar-free or keto diet.

Gluten-Free HighKey Sugar-Free Sandwich Cookies 2 Net Carbs Per Serving!
My husband no longer misses his OREO cookies as much, now that I found these delicious low carb, gluten-free, sugar-free keto sandwich cookies for him. 

Who Loves OREO Cookies?

Before we switched to a low carb way of eating for health reasons, one of my husband's favorite treats were OREO cookies. In fact, "Double Stuf" OREO cookies (filled with twice the amount of vanilla creme filling) and mint Oreos were extra-special treats for him. But two Double Stuf OREOs have not only 140 calories but also 21g of carbohydrates (my entire daily carb allowance when I was following a keto diet for weight loss!), including 13g of added sugars. Even two classic OREO cookies have 110 calories and 16g of carbs, including 9g of added sugars. So, both Double Stufs and classic OREO cookies were no longer an option as a sweet treat for both my husband and me.

So the answer to "Who Loves OREO Cookies?" is our taste buds and our emotions but, sadly, not our bodies or our health.

What's a Health-Conscious OREO Cookie Lover to Do?

In order for our low carb lifestyle to be sustainable, we look for alternatives to our favorite treats that support our health and nutrition goals or, in the case of treats, at least don't sabotage them. That's why I got so excited when I started seeing low carb and sugar-free cookies similar to my husband's beloved OREOs. Then I started reading the ingredients and nutrition labels...and I got less excited. 

Thanks to the popularity of the keto diet, the term "keto" sells. Unfortunately, since there is no universally agreed-upon definition of a "keto diet" or a "keto" food (my post on Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet discusses this topic in more detail), marketers slap the "keto" label on anything that is low in net carbs, regardless of the quality or nutritional value of the ingredients. So, for those of us who are looking to make healthier food choices, it's up to us to educate ourselves about ingredients and nutrition and read packaged food labels carefully, and to experiment to find out which low-carb ingredients spike our insulin levels, cause gastric distress, etc., since each of us has a different metabolism and a different reaction to the same foods.

Three Low-Carb OREO Cookie Alternatives

I found three vanilla-filled chocolate sandwich cookies that looked similar to OREOs and claimed to be "keto" or "keto-friendly" and started reading and comparing the ingredients and nutrition labels. The three contenders were:

Here's how they compare vs. each other and vs. classic OREO cookies:

Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Cookie Ingredients and Nutrition Comparison*
* Ingredients and nutrition data obtained from Amazon product pages on 01/30/23

HighKey

Catalina
Crunch

Rip Van

LEOs

OREO

Serving: 2 cookies

Calories

60

90

100

110

Total Fat

4g

6g

6g

4.5g

Saturated Fat

1g

3g

3g

1.5g

Trans Fat

0g

0g

0g

0g

Cholesterol

0g

0g

0g

0g

Sodium

130mg

95mg

80mg

85mg

Total Carbohydrate

17g

12g

13g

16g

Dietary Fiber

7g

3g

6g

0g

Total Sugars

0g

2g

3g

9g

Added Sugars

0g

2g

2g

9g

Sugar Alcohols

4g

0g

0g

0g

Allulose

4g

2g

2g

0g

Net Carbs

2g

5g

5g

16g

Protein

<1g

4g

3g

<1g

Ingredients

Resistant Cassava Fiber, Erythritol, Allulose, White Rice Flour, RSPO Palm Oil, Non-GMO Canola Oil, Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali), Egg Whites, Natural Flavors, Sunflower Lecithin, Oligofructose, Baking Soda, Salt, Xanthan Gum, Psyllium Husk, Water, Stevia Extract, Monk Fruit Extract.

Palm Fruit Oil, Allulose, Pea Protein, Cane Sugar, Cassava Flour, Tapioca Flour, Inulin, Cocoa Powder, Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali), Xanthan Gum, Natural Flavor, Sunflower Lecithin, Baking Soda, Sea Salt, Stevia Extract.

Palm fruit oil, Vegetable fiber, sugar, milk protein, wheat flour, allulose, sugar cane fiber, cocoa processed with alkali, wheat starch, oat fiber, sea salt, baking soda, chocolate extract, sunflower lecithin, vanilla extract, stevia leaf extract.

Unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate {vitamin B1}, riboflavin {vitamin B2}, folic acid), sugar, palm and/or canola oil, cocoa (processed with alkali), high fructose corn syrup, leavening (baking soda and/or calcium phosphate), salt, soy lecithin, chocolate, artificial flavor. Contains: wheat, soy.

Plate of HighKey Suger-Free Sandwich Cookies
This plate of HighKey Sugar-Free Sandwich Cookies makes my husband miss his OREO cookies much less, now that we follow a more health conscious, low carb but still delicious approach to eating.

Why I Chose HighKey Sugar-Free Sandwich Cookies

Here are a few of the reasons I decided to order HighKey keto sandwich cookies as a healthier alternative to OREO cookies.

Only 2g of Net Carbs

As you can see, the HighKey Sugar-Free Sandwich Cookies have only 2g of net carbs, compared to 5g each for the Catalina Crunch Keto Friendly Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Cookies and Rip Van LEOs Sandwich Creme Cookies.

Lower in Calories

Two of the HighKey Sugar-Free Sandwich Cookies have 60 calories, compared to 90 calories for two Catalina Crunch keto sandwich cookies and 100 for the Rip Van LEOs. 

No Added Sugars, Gluten-Free

The HighKey sandwich cookies use low glycemic sweeteners that don't spike blood glucose. Other than the white rice flour, which is gluten-free but can spike blood sugar levels, the ingredients are surprisingly clean for this type of low carb sweet treat.

By contrast, cane sugar is the fourth ingredient in the Catalina Crunch sandwich cookies. Since cane sugar spikes insulin and is something my husband and I try to avoid completely, that pretty much knocks these out of contention for us.

Similarly, the Rip Van LEOs sandwich cookies contain not only (cane) sugar but also wheat flour, neither of which ingredients are considered keto-friendly, although people who follow a "dirty keto" diet may not be bothered by this.

Not a Perfect OREOs Dupe, But a Good, Healthier Option

HighKey Sugar-Free Sandwich Cookies taste good, especially to those of us who have kicked our food addiction to cane sugar and wheat flour. However, they are by no means an exact dupe of classic, sugar-laden OREO cookies. 

The chocolate cookies are harder and don't soften as readily when dipped in regular or dairy-free milk. They are also more brittle and the filling is firmer, so you can't twist to separate the two chocolate cookies and lick off the creme filling, a favorite part of the experience of eating classic OREO cookies.

For us, and probably for many people who must eat gluten-free or sugar-free, the trade-offs are well worth it.

Healthier Packaged Foods With Clean Ingredients Cost More Than Their Conventional Counterparts

I compared the Amazon prices on January 30, 2023for classic OREO cookies, HighKey Sugar-Free Sandwich Cookies, Catalina Crunch Keto Friendly Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Cookies and Rip Van LEOs Sandwich Creme Cookies (Cookies & Creme flavor). Here are the price comparisons per package and per cookie.

Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Cookie Amazon Price Comparison*
* Prices on Amazon on 01/30/23

HighKey Catalina Crunch Rip Van LEOs OREO
Quantity 3 packs (4.27 oz packs), 10 cookies each = 30 cookies 2 pack (6.8 oz boxes), 16 cookies each = 32 cookies 2 pack (6.77oz), 16 cookies each = 32 cookies 60 Snack Packs (2 Cookies Per Pack) = 120 cookies
Item Price $17.99 $17.63 $14.39 $29.40
Price per Cookie $0.60 $0.55 $0.45 $0.25

My Recommended Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free Alternative to OREO Cookies

If you or someone you know is on a sugar-free, gluten-free, low carb or ketogenic diet, these keto friendly HighKey Sugar-Free Sandwich cookies would make a great gift or something to keep on hand for when they visit. They're a sweet treat both kids and adults will appreciate!


Delicious Sugar-Free Keto Cookies That OREO Fans Will Love by Margaret Schindel

Posts About My Keto Diet Journey

My First Year on The Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

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

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Best Low Carb Keto Cinnamon Muffins

Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

The Best Advice to Maintain Your Keto Diet Weight Loss

My New Irresistibly Delicious Keto Cheese Crackers Recipe

Luscious Low Carb Keto Triple Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies Recipe

Quick & Easy Livlo Blueberry Scones Keto Baking Mix Review

Snack Better With The Best Healthy Keto Cookie Dough Bites

The Best Quick and Easy Low Carb Keto Pizza Recipe

The Best Quick and Easy Low Carb Keto Shortcake Cupcakes Recipe

Comparing the Best Keto-Friendly Chocolate Hazelnut Spreads - No Added Sugars

The Best Low Carb Keto Sandwich and Burger Buns Mix

Blueberry Biscuit Scones — New, Easy, Low Carb Keto Recipe

The Best Keto Pizza Crust Mix With 0 Net Carbs

An Unusual, Delicious Strawberry Chocolate Tea With 0 Calories

Delicious Sugar-Free Keto Cookies That OREO Fans Will Love

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 Food Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Read More Product Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

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




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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Make a Wish by Helena Hunting: "Spark House Sisters" Series

New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting's comtemporary romance novel Make a Wish is book three of her popular "Spark House Sisters" series, which also includes When Sparks Fly (book one) and Starry-Eyed Love (book two).

Make a Wish will be published on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, but it is available for preorder on Amazon in Kindle, paperback and audiobook formats.

I was fortunate to listen to an advance copy of the audiobook through NetGalley. Here's my book review.

Make a Wish by Helena Hunting
Make a Wish is book 3 in Helena Hunting's contemporary romance series "Spark House Sisters" which features her signature "swoony heroes and quirky heroines"

A Charming, Often Hilarious, Heartwarming Contemporary Romance Novel

New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting's website describes her lead characters as "swoony heroes and quirky heroines you'll fall in love with." I would say she writes genuinely likeable, thoughtful characters with good hearts and intentions, human failings and insecurities, authentic voices and often witty, flirtatious banter.

Bottom line: Hunting crafts well-developed characters you can't help caring about and rooting for.

Helena Hunting's "Spark House Sisters" Series

When I had the opportunity to listen to an advance copy of Helena Hunting's Make a Wish in audiobook format, I jumped at the chance to listen to this deservedly popular, New York Times bestselling author's latest contemporary romance. I was delighted to discover that the story holds its own as a stand-alone novel. However, I enjoyed it enough to want to go back to the beginning of the story by reading the first two books.

Here are the three books in this series about sisters Avery, London and Harley Spark, in order (links are for the Kindle editions on Amazon):

When Sparks Fly ("Spark House Sisters" Book 1—Avery's Story)

Starry-Eyed Love ("Spark House Sisters" Book 2—London's Story)

Make a Wish ("Spark House Sisters" Book 3—Harley's Story)

Make a Wish Synopsis

When Gavin Rhodes's wife, whom he adores, dies after giving birth to their daughter Peyton, his world collapses. Overwhelmed by grief, heartbreak and a misplaced sense of guilt, Gavin buries himself in his work and hires a vivacious, cheerful, energetic and responsible young woman as a live-in nanny for his baby girl.

Harley Spark's parents died when she was very young, so she knows how hard it is to grow up without a mom. Unlike Peyton, however, she and her two sisters had each other for support, and vice versa. Her grandma Spark also provided a loving, supportive and encouraging home as well as a love of fun and adventure. Harley is totally devoted to Peyton and tries to make up for the lack of both a mom and siblings in her life by playing the roles of both nanny and surrogate big sister.

Harley finds enormous satisfaction in providing a positive, upbeat and nurturing home environment for baby Peyton and her overworked, emotionally devastated dad. The arrangement works beautifully for a year and a half...until the fateful moment when 20-year-old Harley, trying to comfort an exhausted and still grieving Gavin (and indulge her secret crush on him), leans in and almost kisses him before he realizes what she is trying to do and abruptly pulls away.

Harley is horrified and mortified. Worse yet, her idyllic working and living situation suddenly evaporates as Gavin packs up his and Peyton’s things and moves to the other side of the state. He transfers the care of his baby girl to his late wife's strict and domineering mother, Karen, who takes on the role of mothering and educating her granddaughter with an almost religious zeal.

Harley is covered with guilt and remorse for her unusual lapse in judgment and she misses Peyton (and Gavin) tremendously. But when Gavin refuses to respond to multiple apologetic texts, she eventually has to make her peace with the consequences of having acted on her misguided impulse.

Harley loves being and working with kids, but reluctantly decides to give up her career as a professional live-in nanny, fearing another potential risk to her heart if she falls in love with another family who employs her. Instead, she joins her two sisters and their partners in running the family's event hotel, Spark House. In addition to doing some of the hotel's social media, Harley's favorite role has been organizing the children's themed birthday parties, for which she always dresses up in costume. Unfortunately, they are less profitable than other events, such as weddings, and seven years after Gavin's and Peyton's move, Harley's siblings let her know that the upcoming princess-themed birthday party for a local nine-year-old will be the last one at Spark House.

For the "last hurrah" birthday bash, Harley dresses up as a fairy princess. The last people she expects to run into among the young party guests and their parents are nine-year-old Peyton and her dad. Gavin, in turn, who is both a doting father and a good sport, is wearing a tutu. It's not exactly the outfit he would have chosen for an unexpected reunion with Harley, who is now in her late twenties and even more attractive than before.

Harley is so flustered at seeing Gavin again (especially when she is dressed in full-fledged princess attire with all the trimmings) that she breaks out in hives. Gavin is grateful that Harley is no longer his daughter's nanny, and their age difference is less significant. He hopes this chance encounter might lead to both closure concerning their awkward and abrupt parting and perhaps a different type of relationship moving forward. Peyton is simply overjoyed to see her beloved former nanny and playmate and can't wait to make more play dates for the three of them.

Gavin decides to move himself and Peyton back to their hometown. There are a several good reasons for the move, but one of the most compelling is for them to be near Harley again. Predictably, Karen becomes jealous and resentful of Harley and does her best to undermine the would-be couple's burgeoning relationship. Karen's interfering behavior angers and upsets both Gavin and Harley, but Gavin also feels guilty about moving Peyton out of her grandmother's home, control, and daily life and is reluctant to confront his mother-in-law.

Will Harley, who hates confrontation, find the courage to stick up for both her professional role and romantic relationship?

Why does Gavin feel guilty about his wife's death? Can he finally bring himself to truly risk giving his heart to a partner again unconditionally and stand up to his overbearing, jealous, threatened and still-grieving mother-in-law?

Will Peyton finally get her two biggest wishes, a mom and a sibling?

I can promise you a happy ending, but you'll have to read Helena Hunting's Make a Wish not only to find out the answers but also to enjoy the rich storytelling and the rocky road that ultimately leads to this trio's HEA (happily ever after).

Amazon Editors' Picks: Best Romance

I'm not the only reader who has fallen in love with the characters in Helena Hunting's Make a Wish. Even though its release date is nearly a week away at the time of this book review's publication, this new contemporary romance novel is one of Amazon Editors' top picks for Romance Books.

Two Excellent Audiobook Narrators

Fan favorite narrators Jason Clarke, Stella Bloom share the narration duties on all three of the "Spark House Sisters" audiobooks in this series. Bloom's pleasant but higher-pitched voice is the perfect foil for Clarke's bass, and both narrators are eminently "listenable." They are skilled at voicing both male and female characters, as well as both adult and juvenile characters, that are easily distinguishable. This was especially important because each chapter of is told from either Harley's or Gavin's point of view and read by Bloom or Clarke, respectively. I never struggled to identify which character was speaking, even during conversations among three or more characters.

They also spoke at an ideal pace for me, slow enough that I didn't have to concentrate on not missing anything, but also not so slow as to be soporific.

These seasoned narrators really bring the characters to life and enhance the reader's (or listener's) experience of the book. For that reason, I highly recommend the audiobook format for this contemporary romance series.

Here are links to all three audiobooks in order:

When Sparks Fly "Spark House Sisters" Book 1 Audiobook

Starry-Eyed Love "Spark House Sisters" Book 2 Audiobook

Make a Wish "Spark House Sisters" Book 1 Audiobook

10 Hours of Listening Pleasure

There is enough meat to the story to keep me happily engaged in listening to the audiobook for 10 hours. Key bits and pieces of information from the past are gradually revealed to us (and to the main characters) as the story unfolds, giving us more context and insight into each character's motivations, emotional challenges, desires and fears.

By the end of the book, I felt real empathy and compassion for all the characters, even the rigid, self-absorbed, bossy, subversive Karen.

More importantly, all the characters experienced authentic, significant growth from the beginning to the end of the story arc.

Adult Content

As in most contemporary romance novels, the relationship between the story’s hero and heroine includes physical intimacy.

While Hunting isn’t shy about describing the sexual aspect of Gavin and Harley’s romantic relationship as it evolves over time, I didn't feel the descriptions of their intimate encounters were gratuitous or excessively graphic, and those scenes certainly weren't a primary focus of the novel. The pair's relationship is built on a foundation of friendship and trust first. In fact, despite their obvious mutual physical attraction, both of them are very cautious about taking their relationship from friends to lovers.

However, if you are offended by premarital physical intimacy, that aspect of this book (and, presumably, the others in this series) might be a turn-off.

Fun But Not Fluff

The story flowed well and never dragged, and the narrators' characterizations did justice to Hunting's charismatic writing, keepping me engaged, entertained, and emotionally invested from beginning to end.

Harley's and Peyton's boundless enthusiasm, zest for life, optimism and love of unabashadly "girly" things like tutus and glitter crafts provide some much-needed lightness to balance the tragic deaths (and, in the case of Gavin and Karen, misplaced guilt) that weigh on the main characters' hearts.

Ultimately, it's a feel-good story about second chances. I hope you enjoy it.

Now, I'm off to download the first two books in the series.

Make A Wish By Helena Hunting: Spark House Sisters

by Margaret Schindel


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Wednesday, January 4, 2023

My 10 Best Product Reviews of 2022 Revisited

Last year I published 18 in-depth, personal product reviews here on Review This Reviews. As I was looking back at them recently, I decided to revisit and share my 10 favorite products that I reviewed in 2022.

My 10 Best Product Reviews of 2022 Revisited
Check out the best products I reviewed in 2022 to find some great buys in 2023!

My Top 10 Product Reviews From 2022

I hope the reviews I've chosen to highlight in this "best of 2022" collection will help you find some new favorites of your own, as well as some terrific gift ideas for others to enjoy.

My Favorite Fashion Product Review

VIKIDEER Microfleece Lined, Ultra Soft Lambskin Leather Touchscreen Gloves

Winter here in New England is long and extremely cold. These VIKIDEER microfleece-lined, ultra soft lambskin leather touchscreen gloves keep my always-chilly hands and arms warm and cozy, even when I need to pull out my mobile phone, Kindle or other touchscreen device.

VIKIDEER long, warm, lined, lambskin leather touchscreen  gloves
VIKIDEER Elegant Winter Black Long Leather Full Touchscreen Gloves for Women

They're also long enough to prevent any gap below the hem of my coat sleeves when I bend or raise my arms, so they stay nice and toasty even in the chilliest weather. Any woman who lives in a cold climate would love to receive these as a gift!

Check out my in-depth review of these Long, Lined Leather Gloves - A Luxurious, Affordable Gift She'll Love.

My Best Gift Review for Music, Audiobook and Podcast Lovers

SHOKZ OpenRun Pro Bone Conduction Bluetooth Headphones

My husband and I love listening to audiobooks or music while we are doing chores, relaxing, traveling, etc. We both love our SHOKZ bone conduction Bluetooth headphones and wear them all the time.

Man wearing SHOKZ OpenRun Pro bone conduction Bluetooth headphones
SHOKZ OpenRun Pro Open-Ear Bluetooth Bone Conduction Sport Headphones

He first introduced me to bone-conduction Bluetooth headphones several years ago, and I've never looked back! Bone-conduction headphones use a technology that transmits sound vibrations along your cheekbones instead of through the air into your ears. It's great for someone like me, who has difficulty with ear buds, and for my husband, who has itchy ears and doesn't like anything in or against them. 

SHOKZ is the undisputed leader in bone conduction headphones. They make a variety of styles, but our favorites by far are the OpenRun and OpenRun Pro, which are both ultra lightweight. In fact, I often tease my husband about his SHOKZ bone conduction headphones being permanently grafted onto his head, since they are so comfortable that he forgets he's wearing them and almost never takes them off during the day, even when he's not listening to anything through them.

Learn more about why we're such hugs fans in The Best Bone-Conduction Bluetooth Headphones Review: Shokz OpenRun Pro.

My Best Gift Review Pick for Recipients Who Are Hard to Buy For

DuraTech Tool Roll Organizer With 21 Pockets

My husband enjoys working on cars, scale models, and model trains. As a result, he has several collections of prized hand tools for both automotive and hobby use. Keeping not only his wrenches and sockets but also his fine precision tools organized and well protected is a high priority for him. 

DuraTech tool storage organizer - rolled up and latched

After considerable product research, I chose this attractive, durable, well-designed and well-made DuraTech tool roll organizer as a Christmas gift for him and he absolutely loves it. 

Here's a view of the interior, filled with his precision hand tools, including fine nippers, needle nose pliers, precision tweezers and X-ACTO knives:

DuraTech tool roll organizer, unrolled to show tools stored inside
DURATECH Tool Roll Organizer, 21 Pockets Tool Bag Roll

I'm planning to buy one for myself for my most-often-used jewelry making and crafting tools.

Find out more about why this makes such a terrific gift for anyone who relies on hand tools for hobbies, models, automotive repairs, etc. in my review of The Best Tool Roll Organizer To Store & Protect Your Tools.

My Best Health Product Review

Dnsly Ultrasonic Toothbrush Set With Travel Case and Extra Brush Heads

I've been using top name brand ultrasonic toothbrushes with fancy features from Oral-B and Philips Sonicare for most of my life. A few months ago, however, I switched to this much more affordable and equally effective Dnsly ultrasonic toothbrush set with a choice of five brushing modes (White, Clean, Sensitive, Polish and Massage). It also has ultra soft bristles that protect my gums from erosion as well as compact brush heads and an interdental brush that make it easier to get into hard-to-reach spots. 

Dnsly electric toothbrush with travel case
Dnsly Sonic Electric Toothbrush with 5 Modes, 2-Minute Smart Timer, 8 Brush Heads, 1 Travel Case

The set I purchased includes a hard, fitted travel case, a clear plastic brush head cover (so you can toss it in your purse or briefcase without carrying the travel case) and seven brush heads, in addition to the tiny, pointed interdental brush. You can brush twice a day for 30 days on a single 4-hour charge, which makes it perfect for travel! 

Check out this affordable, high quality set in my product review of The Best Dentist Approved, Inexpensive, 5-Mode Electric Toothbrush.

My Top 3 Kitchen Product Reviews

I enjoy cooking and baking, but not washing dishes. Three of my favorite product purchases for 2022 were kitchen items that have made our time spent prepping, making good food and cleaning up more efficient and enjoyable.

Adjustable Stainless Steel 3-Tier Over Sink Dish Drying Rack

The first was this fabulous three-tier 304 stainless steel dish drying rack that has gotten all our nonstick cookware, bakeware, oversized items (like the Vitamix blender jar and the large cake storage box in the photo) and other hand washable items off our countertops. (This large-capacity drying rack also comes in a smaller, two-tier version.)

Boosiny stainless steel, 3-tier over sink dish drying rack
BOOSINY Adjustable 3-Tier Over Sink Dish Drying Rack, 304 Stainless Steel

We love the adjustable-height shelves and moveable accessories, such as the hanging hooks, utensil holder, cup hooks, soap/sponge tray and cutting board holder, that we can configure to our needs and preferences. With the limited counter space in our old galley kitchen, this over-the-sink dish drying rack has been a godsend! And the convenience of being able to simply hang items to drip dry after hand washing them means we save electricity by running our dishwasher less often.

Read my full review of The Best Large, Sturdy, Adjustable, Over-the-Sink Dish Drying Rack to learn more about why it is one of my favorite product purchases of the past year.

Mueller Ultra-Stick 500 Watt 9-Speed Immersion Blender, Electric Whisk and Frother

My second favorite kitchen purchase from 2022 is this awesome Müeller Ultra-Stickmulti-purpose hand blender with a heavy-duty 500-watt copper motor and brushed stainless steel body. The comfortable handle with an ergonomic, non-slip grip makes this hand blender a pleasure to use, and the powerful motor offers 9 speeds and a Turbo Mode for a burst of extra power when needed.

Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender model MU-HB-02
Mueller Ultra-Stick 500 Watt 9-Speed Immersion Multi-Purpose Hand Blender

The three attachments make this three, high-quality, small kitchen appliances in one: an immersion blender, an electric whisk and a milk frother. We use ours all the time for blending soups, making fresh whipped cream and frothing milk for our coffee (or making frothy bulletproof coffee or silky-smooth hot cocoa).

Read my detailed review of The Best Powerful, Lightweight Stick Blender With Versatile Attachments.

Astercook 15-piece German Stainless Steel Kitchen and Steak Knives Set With Wooden Storage Block

My third kitchen product purchase from last year that my husband and I have really been enjoying is our Astercook kitchen and steak knives set.

Astercook 15-piece stainless steel kitchen and steak knives set in a wood storage block
Asktercook 15-piece German high-carbon stainless steel kitchen & steak knives set with storage block

This 15-piece set includes an acacia wood knife block fitted with a full set of the most useful kitchen knives, including an 8" chef knife, 8" slicing knife, 7" santoku knife, 8" serrated bread knife, 5" utility knife and a 3.5" paring knife; a set of six 4.5" serrated steak knives; a pair of kitchen shears with a handy built-in bottle opener; and a sturdy sharpening steel for honing the sharp, German stainless steel blades to keep them "in good nick." 

My husband and I have been extremely pleased with the quality of these knives, especially considering the extremely low price (less than $45 as of this post's publication date)!

Learn more about this excellent, inexpensive knife set that would be a great addition to any kitchen, and a welcome gift for anyone outfitting their first kitchen, in my in-depth review of The Best Affordable, Super Sharp Kitchen and Steak Knives Set.

My Favorite Low Carb and Keto Food Reviews

Scotty's Everyday Keto Pizza Crust Mix With 0 Net Carbs Per Slice

My husband and I both love high-carbohydrate foods like breads, rolls, cookies, cakes and pizza. We have chosen to cut back substantially on both carbs and highly processed foods because of the health benefits we have both noticed when we eat a very low carb, largely whole food diet. Even though my husband is quite slim and has to make sure he eats enough calories to avoid losing weight, we both have experienced significant improvements in mental clarity and focus, reduction in joint pain and inflammation, and other health benefits by eating this way. However, neither of us is willing to give up our favorite foods, so I invest time and effort researching, trying out and evaluating healthy, low carb alternatives for foods like pizza crusts and burger buns.

I have tried several low carb pizza crust mix products and recipes, and one of my favorites so far is Scotty's Everyday Keto Pizza Crust Mix. 

Pizza made with Scotty's Everyday Keto Pizza Crust Mix

One of the reasons is convenience, since this mix calls for only olive oil and water, both of which we always have on hand. Others include speed (just mix, roll and bake), fairly clean, healthy ingredients), high in dietary fiber, low in calories and 0 net carbs per slice, and a surprisingly good taste and texture considering the nutritional profile.

This mix makes a pizza crust that, unlike some low carb options, is crisp on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside, and sturdy enough to pick up and eat with your hands. We love being able to eat pizza for dinner once a week again and have fun changing up the toppings to keep things interesting.

Check out my full review of The Best Keto Pizza Crust Mix With 0 Net Carbs including some of our favorite low carb, keto friendly pizza toppings.

KetoBakes Best EVER Sandwich Buns Keto Bake Mix

My husband makes the best burgers and, for many years, we have had a tradition of him making his special Friday night burgers (or, as we like to call them, Friday night "burglars") to celebrate the end of the work week and kick off the weekend. Although some people enjoy using lettuce as a burger wrap, we much prefer ours on a nice, soft, lightly toasted bun. And, although we love Natural Ovens Bakery Keto-Friendly Buns and often keep a few bags in our freezer, they contain a few ingredients that aren't strictly "clean keto" and are not gluten-free.

So, unless I'm pressed for time, I prefer baking fresh burger buns using KetoBakes Best EVER Sandwich Buns Keto Bake Mix, which lives up to its name as far as keto-friendly buns are concerned.

KetoBakes Best Ever Sandwich Bun Mix
KetoBakes Best EVER Sandwich Buns Keto Bake Mix

This mix has clean ingredients, the same ones I would use if I were baking keto buns from scratch, and makes soft, pillowy, yummy buns that are perfect for burgers or sandwiches. They also freeze beautifully, which I do in my favorite Stasher reusable silicone 1/2 gallon food storage bags, which open and seal incredibly quickly and easily (I love them!). 

Get the 411 on this excellent baking mix in my product review of The Best Low Carb Keto Sandwich and Burger Buns Mix.

ChocZero Regular and Dark Cocoa Hazelnut Keto Spreads and Livlo Zello Keto-Friendly Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

These low-carb chocolate hazelnut spreads with no added sugars offer three excellent, healthy (and keto-friendly) alternatives for people who love Nutella.

ChocZero and Livlo ZELLO keto chocolate hazelnut spreads
ChocZero Dark Cocoa Hazelnut Keto Spread, Livlo Zello Keto-Friendly Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and ChocZero Cocoa Hazelnut Keto Spread

I've provided a detailed side-by-side comparison of the flavor, size, price, nutrition facts, ingredients, dietary restriction / special diets information and other considerations in my review Comparing the Best Keto-Friendly Chocolate Hazelnut Spreads - No Added Sugars.


I hope this recap of my 10 favorite products that I reviewed in 2022 helps you find some gift ideas or new favorites of your own for the coming year.

Wishing all our Review This Reviews readers and my fellow contributors a healthy, happy, peaceful and prosperous 2023!


My 10 Best Product Reviews of 2022 Revisited 

by Margaret Schindel


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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris: A Wonderful, Delightful, Inspiring Movie

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is an absolute gem of a movie. I discovered it while perusing American Airlines' in-flight entertainment selections during a recent flight home from California. This comedy/drama was released earlier this year and received enthusiastic positive reviews from film critics and audiences alike. However, likely because it wasn't promoted heavily or well, it had only a short run in theaters and I hadn't heard about it before. (Such a shame to stint on the marketing for such a terrific picture!) It deserves a much wider audience.

I am delighted to share my review of this wonderful, delightful, inspiring movie, which is available to purchase or rent via DVD or streaming media.

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris Movie Review

Based on the First of Paul Gallico's Bestselling 1958 Novel Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris

Paul Gallico started his career in the 1920s as a sportswriter, sports columnist, and sports editor of the New York Daily News. After switching to writing fiction in the late 1930s, the prolific author wrote 41 books, numerous short stories, 20 theatrical movies and 12 TV movies and had a TV series based on his Hiram Holliday short stories. Two of Gallico's most famous works were the short story The Snow Goose (1941) and the novel The Poseidon Adventure (1969), which was also adapted for the big screen.(Source)

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris (1958) was the first of Gallico's four novels about the adventures of Mrs. Ada Harris, a war widow and hard-working charwoman for London aristocrats. Mrs. Harris's adventures continue in the subsequent books in the series, Mrs. 'Arris Goes to New York (1960), Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Parliament (1965), and Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Moscow (1974).

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris has been adapted multiple times for stage and screen:

  • A 1958 American TV episode for the television series Studio One starring British comedian Gracie Fields.
  • A 1982 West German TV film, Ein Kleid von Dior (A Dress by Dior) starring Inge Meysel.
  • A 1992 television movie starring Angela Lansbury, Diana Rigg and Omar Sharif (produced by Lansbury's production company and directed by her son, Anthony Shaw).
  • A 2016 musical-theatre adaptation, Flowers for Mrs Harris (the Gallico novel's UK title) produced by Sheffield Theatres in May 2016, with a new production mounted in 2018 at Chichester Festival Theatre, which was streamed online in April 2020.
  • The 2022 feature film adaptation I am reviewing, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (note the tweak to the title).

A Fabulous Cast of Characters

Here are the main characters of this charming movie set in the mid-1950s:

  • Ada Harris (Lesley Manville), a charwoman in London who cleans up the messes of her well-heeled, arrogant clients. She learns that her beloved husband, Eddie, a soldier who had been missing for seven years, was killed in action. 
  • Violet Butterfield (Ellen Thomas), Ada's best friend, who also works "in service." Vi encourages the grieving war widow to try to enjoy herself and get on with her life now that she finally knows Eddie's fate, taking her out to a dance club in the evening and to greyhound races on their day off.
  • Archie (Jason Isaacs), another friend and bookie who takes their bets at the races. Although he fancies Ada, she thinks it's too late for her to love again and makes it clear their relationship is strictly platonic.
  • Giles Newcombe (Christian McKay), a womanizing bachelor and house cleaning client.
  • Pamela Penrose (Rose Williams), another of Ada's clients, is a beautiful but spoiled, scatterbrained, pouty and self-centered actress who is also a slob, tossing and leaving her clothes and accessories all over the floor for Ada to pick up and put away.
  • Lady Dant (Anna Chancellor), another client who spends lavishly on parties and clothes (including a one-of-a-kind, beaded and sequined Christian Dior dress that Ada falls in love with at first sight), yet repeatedly deflects Ada's requests to be paid her long-overdue wages.
  • Christian Dior (Philippe Bertin), the world-famous haute couture fashion designer whose first collection under his own label in 1947 was dubbed "The New Look" by the editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar.
  • Claudine Colbert (Isabelle Huppert) is the directrice of the house of Dior and guardian of its refined, elegant, exclusive image. She is offended and supercilious when an English charwoman invades the hallowed halls of Dior, mistakes Madame Colbert for a shopgirl and naïvely assumes she can purchase one of the master's iconic, one-of-a-kind haute couture creations just because she has brought enough money to Paris with her to pay with cash.
  • Marquis de Chassagne (Lambert Wilson), a wealthy, aristocratic widower whose late wife used to enjoy attending the exclusive Dior couture shows. He continues to attend in her honor and, when Ada is rebuffed by Madame Colbert, the marquis invites her to attend as his guest. He subsequently buys her roses and invites her over for tea.  
  • Natasha (Alba Baptista), Dior's top model with an Audrey Hepburn-eque, waif-like beauty. She would rather be at home curled up on a couch, wearing a plain black sweater and reading Sartre than parading around as a fashion model. 
  • André Fauvel (Lucas Bravo), an accountant at Dior who has ideas about how to save the fashion house from its (fictitious) financial woes that Madame Colbert refuses to discuss with Monsieur Dior. André falls in love with Natasha, with whom he shares a superior intellect and love of Sartre, but doesn't pursue a relationship with her, feeling she is "above his touch."
  • Monsieur Carré (Bertrand Poncet), the head of Dior's atelier and a fussy "artiste" who shares Madame Colbert's snobbery and lack of respect for the pedestrian Mrs. Harris.

A Feel-Good Movie

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a story about how kindness, courage, honesty, hard work, a willigness to dream big and a single-minded commitment to achieving your goals can, indeed, make your dreams come true.

It's a modern fairy tale grounded in some historical fact. Director Anthony Fabian takes some liberties with Gallico's story. In an interview for a July 22, 2022 article in Town & Country magazine, Fabian said, "The key to this story is that it is magic realism, so it has to have an equal dose of magic and reality. If you go too far into magic, you won’t believe it; if you go too far into the realism, it wouldn’t have that uplifting fairy tale quality." 

Check Out the Official Movie Trailer

If you are reading this on a mobile device and the video player doesn't display, you can click on this line to watch the MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS Trailer (2022) on YouTube.

Stream, Rent or Buy This Heartwarming and Inspiring Film

There are multiple options for watching this movie, including:

Read or Listen to the First Two Books in Paul Gallico's The Adventures of Mrs. Harris Series

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris and Mrs. Harris Goes to New York Kindle edition.

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris & Mrs. Harris Goes to New York Paperback

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris and Mrs. Harris Goes to New York Audible audiobook (Unabridged) — narrated by one of my favorite narrators, Juliet Stevenson.

Makes a Great Gift for Yourself or Someone Else

This wonderful story encourages us to dream big but also keep our priorities straight. I definitely plan to rent or buy the movie so I can watch it again and plan to get the audiobook as well. Both the movie and the book would make a lovely gift for any occasion, as well as a great stocking stuffer.


Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris: A Wonderful, Delightful, Inspiring Movie — Reviewed by Margaret Schindel


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