Showing posts with label Product Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Product Reviews. Show all posts

Friday, April 16, 2021

CorningWare 20-ounce Pop-in Mug with Vented Plastic Cover Reviewed

Corningware Microwave Soup Mugs
There is nothing better for lunch than a cup of hot soup, especially on a cold or rainy day! These Corningware Pop-In Mugs make heating soup in the microwave fast, easy, and without any mess.

We received a set of the Pop-in Mugs several years ago as a gift. At the time, I had no idea how much I would end up enjoying these Corningware microwavable mugs.  Not only are they microwavable, but they are dishwasher safe.  Therefore, the entire meal from beginning to end is easier.

If I make a pot of soup or stew, I can fill and store the mugs in the refrigerator or freezer.  When I am ready to reheat the soup, I simply pop the vent on the lid, stick it in the microwave, and heat.  That plastic vented lid is the only cover needed to keep my microwave clean and clear of splatters or overflows. 

At 20 ounces, it is also the perfect size for a can of soup. I enjoy Campbell's Tomato Soup.  The mug would be large enough for the entire can contents as well as water.  However, I don't add water to my tomato soup. I heat the soup in the microwave for 3 minutes and I'm ready to go. Because the mug handle is not hot, I can "drink" my tomato soup while continuing to work at my computer.  I know it is best to take a real lunch break, but that is not always possible.  It is nice to have a good hot lunch that I can easily eat/drink while working.

If I still worked outside of the home, it would be a very easy and practical way to carry soup, stew, chili, etc to work for lunch, ready for the microwave.  The lid is tight enough that liquid will not spill, although I wouldn't test it by turning it upside down for a prolonged period of time. 


 CorningWare Colours Pop-Ins
20-oz Soup Mug with Lid - 2 Pack (Tomato)
Check Price
Features of the Corningware Pop-in Mug

  • Comes with a vented lid for easy microwaving
  • 20 Ounce size 
  • Stoneware - Available in a variety of colors
  • Freezer Safe
  • Oven Safe
  • Dishwasher Safe

The only downside that I have found to these mugs is that my tomato soup has stained the inside of one of our lids.  No big deal for me.  I know it is clean, but I suspect that would bother some people.  I have tried baking soda, vinegar, soaking, and several stain removal suggestions, but none have removed the tomato soup stain on the lid.




Corningware
Old Versus New Corningware Designs
I am a huge fan of CorningWare!

The current day line of products are not always the same as the Corningware of 30 years ago.  However, the items I have replaced with the newer version have been fine. I understand the new Pop-in Mugs have smaller handles than mine.  Also, it seems manufacturing has moved to China.  Mine were made in Thailand.   
If you prefer the older versions, I recommend searching eBay for the older versions of CorningWare.



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Monday, April 12, 2021

Aootek 182 Solar Light Reviewed - A Favorite!

The Aootek 182 Solar Light is by far my favorite solar light that delivers as promised. Bright, easy to install, easy to use and an environmentally friendly solar solution.



Old housing stock can be a challenge! Are the electrical sockets ever conveniently located? Ever located in a place you actually could use a socket? Unless your home or condo or apartment has been updated at quite the expense with new wiring - outdoor lighting can be a challenge.

Installation

It is very, very easy to install the Aootek Solar light. The hardware comes with the light, but I found a reviewer had a valuable suggestion for those who do not want to wield a screwdriver. The two holes which could be used for the screws can be used with cable ties to attach the light. As we were in the middle of a polar vortex the logistics of cold, snow, ice and installation was not practical.

I simply used two cable ties and attached the light to a fence in the same area of the hard wired light which did not make it through the winter. Perfect!

Three Convenient Brightness Settings

The light has three settings:

1. Security Option: Light turns on with motion automatically and then turns off automatically.

2. All Night Option: Light turns on at night automatically and stays on until sunrise.

3. Combination Motion and Dimmer: Bright light triggered with motion and when motion ceases the light stays on but will be dimmer until sunrise.

As two lights were included with the purchase I use Option 1 for the garage area and Option 3 for the deck. Option 3 works wonderfully if you have a dog as the light will be bright when the dog is being let out and then is dim for the porch area.

The light is very bright. This is not garden decorative lighting; if bright and secure is your desire then this light is a great option.



Setting the Options

There is a toggle button on the back of the light to access the three settings. My one consideration with the light is the design of the button. The button is covered with a plastic plug which can be a challenge to remove then place back after the setting is chosen. I suggest tweezers or a comparable tool to help with this feature.

Solar

Because the light is solar, the light does need to be charged with sunlight before installation. I admit I was a bit skeptical with the lack of sunshine in the upper midwest in the winter. I have been disappointed before with solar lights as they just could not stay charged in the winter months or even become charged if installed in the "shade".

This light is a champ. On a rare(!) sunny day, I charged the light inside at a sunny window. The light was then installed in an area which receives very little sunshine anytime of the year. No problem! 

I highly recommend the Aootek Solar Lights. There is a reason this light has over 20,000 reviews and this light delivers as promised at an economical purchase price and then uses the sun to power the light flawlesly.




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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Owl Wall Decals Review for a Baby's Room

Fantastic, Affordable Owl Wall Decals for the Nursery

The mommy-to-be recently added these Owl Wall Decals to her baby registry.

With wall decals, it can be a crap-shoot whether the quality of the stickers will be decent.

My main concern when I ordered them was the fact that they weren't expensive. I know, I should have been cheering on the fact that they weren't expensive. However, I was more worried that they wouldn't stay on the walls or look cheap.

These Owl Wall Decals Are Fantastic


The brand name of these wall decals is "Decalmile." I'm so pleased with them; I'll look for this company again if we order more.

Mommy-to-be had never put up a wall decal in her life, and neither had I. I watched her put these up, and it was easier and quicker than the time it took me to peel off the safety stickers on the crib!

The decals come in small sheets. If I had to guess, I'd say they were on 8.5 by 11-inch sheets. At any rate, they are shipped compactly in a small, durable envelope of about the same size. 

Owl Wall Decals - Looks as Good, or Better Than this Photo
We Purchased This 'Decalmile' Decal Via Amazon Here


How Mommy Put Up These Decals
  1. She laid out the sheets in the proper order for the design she wanted
  2. These owl decals show you a couple of different options for laying out the designs
  3. She decided where to place them on the wall
  4. Mommy wanted them coming out for the corner to make it seem like a branch from a tree
  5. After laying each sheet on the floor, she cut out the pieces one by one to start placing them on the wall
  6. She chose to go high enough so baby can't reach them in the crib
  7. She kept them to one side versus directly over the crib for safety purposes
  8. We pulled the crib out of the way so she could safely work on the decal
  9. Using a safe step-ladder, she placed each piece on the wall
  10. Once complete, back went the crib, and it was done
  11. The job took maybe 30 to 45 minutes

How Well Do These Owl Decals Stick to the Wall


These decals stick perfectly. They're removable and repositionable, although we haven't tried either of those options yet. They are vinyl, so I'm confident they'll come down fairly easy when it's time to remove them.

The wall surface needs to be a standard, clean, drywall. It may stick on other types of surfaces, but if you're planning on putting them on stucco or cement, I'm not sure that would work.

The walls in this baby's room have been freshly painted, so the owl decals went on beautifully.

They're colorful, cheerful, and gorgeous.

The Baby's Room Isn't Finished Yet


The baby's room is currently being set up, so the photos included here are the decor's early stages. Look for a review in the coming weeks on the crib featured in the room. Great-grandma gifted that one to future mommy and daddy, and I give it five stars.

Owl Wall Decal in Proportion to the Crib
Look for a Future Review on This Lovely Crib


When the room is completed, with all the accessories, look for a full review of the entire nursery.

Here's the Product on Amazon - (We also purchased it via Amazon)








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Saturday, April 10, 2021

I Love This Yarn - A Review





I Love This Yarn! is the Hobby Lobby store brand by Yarn Bee. It is a very soft and smooth yarn that is perfect for all sorts of projects.  It's well recommended for hats, scarves and shawls. But it's softness makes it lovely for baby blankets (afghans) and especially for plush toys and animals (my favorite to crochet). 


I Love This Yarn


Source: Pixabay

I Love This Yarn (ILTY) is a size 4 medium worsted weight yarn that is 100% acrylic. This makes it machine washable and dryable. It is recommended for 5mm (size 8) knitting needles or 5.5mm (size 9) crochet hook. Since I primarily crochet stuffed animals and toys, my favorite hook sizes are E and F and this yarn works up just fine in these smaller hook sizes. In other words, ILTY yarn works well with whatever size knitting needles or crochet hooks you prefer.


Yarn Specs


  • Based on the recommended sizes of knitting needles and crochet hooks, the gauges are: 
    • Crochet Gauge: 12 Single Crochet x 15 Rows – 4”
    • Knit Gauge:  18 Stitches x 23 Rows – 4”
  • Skein Weight: 5 ounces
  • Skein Yardage: 252 Yards


Metallic Yarn


I Love This Metallic Yarn (c) Elf

I Love This Yarn also comes in a metallic version, which is 97% Acrylic and 3% Metallic Polyester. This yarn gives a nice 'sparkle' to all kinds of projects.


Image by (c) Elf


A few years ago I was given a custom order for five crocheted dolphins, specifically requested in the metallic version of the I Love This yarn. I created them in the five different colors shown, using a metallic white for the belly of each. They turned out darling, as you can see in the photo. 


Crochet Dolphin in Christmas Ombre Yarn

Although those dolphins are now living in new homes, I DO have on hand one dolphin created in the I Love This Christmas Ombre yarn.  It is available in my Etsy Store. I can also recreate any of the others shown in the photo, or in a color of your choice, upon request by contacting me at Coastal Crochet Crafts.


Crochet Octopus in Metallic Yarn (c) Elf

Crochet Octopus Keychain Charm Collection

I also have a group of crocheted octopi created in this metallic yarn. They each have a (removable) chain attached to use as a keychain charm or to hook onto a purse or backpack. By removing the chain, each octopus makes a cute little toy. 


I Love This Cotton Yarn


I Love This Cotton Yarn on Amazon


Since I first discovered I Love This Yarn, Hobby Lobby has come out with a cotton version which is also very soft.   


The yarn specs are similar, except for the size. I Love This Cotton comes in a 3.5 ounce skein with a skein yardage of 180 yards.


Summary


As a crochet crafter, I Love This Yarn! has become one of my favorite yarns to work with. I am delighted that a custom order request resulted in introducing me to this yarn. I definitely recommend it for any or all yarn enthusiasts. 


Source: Pixabay


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(c) I  Love This Yarn review written by Wednesday Elf





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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

The Good Chocolate bars - Bean-to-Bar, Zero Sugar, 100% Delicious

The Good Chocolate: Great-Tasting, Healthy Chocolate Bars With No Sugar

I love chocolate! When I was younger, milk chocolate was my favorite. As the health benefits of dark chocolate became more widely known, however, I gradually retrained my taste buds to appreciate bars with a higher cacao or cocoa content. Now, my preference for dark chocolate has been reinforced by my keto diet lifestyle, since milk contains 2–8% lactose (a sugar naturally present in dairy milk).

Several months ago, I discovered The Good Chocolate, a brand of top quality, bean-to-bar chocolate made with 100% organic, ethically sourced ingredients and no sugar. It has since become one of my favorite brands of sugar free chocolate.

I'm pleased to be sharing my in-depth product review to introduce you to this terrific, principled company and its wonderful chocolate bars and mini-bars.

Can a Premium Quality, Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Be Delicious and Also Healthy? 

The Good Chocolate is the brainchild of two lifelong friends and partners in a branding and design agency, who in 2014 began to cut out all forms of sugar (including honey and agave) from their diets and replace them with organic, low- or no-calorie sweeteners with a low glycemic index. Six months later, they were thrilled with the results. They had each lost 10 pounds, were feeling great, had more energy, and were able to maintain their focus throughout the work day, without the mid-day crashes that frequently result from consuming sugar (in beverages, desserts, or snacks) in the late morning or early afternoon. (I experienced the same benefits (with a much bigger weight loss) a few months after I switched to a ketogenic weight loss diet, which included eliminating sugar in any form.) 

During this process, they learned about how most food companies are well aware that adding sugar (or salt) to their products makes us eat, crave, and buy more of them—a cycle that is very profitable for the manufacturers...and very unhealthy, and expensive, for consumers. 

The partners were inspired to help others break free from their sugar addiction and experience the improved health, wellbeing, energy and productivity they themselves were enjoying. So, they challenged themselves to create a bean-to-bar chocolate that would live up to their own high standards.

Within a few months, they had come up with a "sweet-blend" of three organic, low-glycemic-index sweeteners that met their exacting requirements for taste, health, and sustainability. They also immersed themselves in all things chocolate making, developing the required expertise in every step from sourcing organic cacao beans in Central and South America to perfectly tempering the roasted, winnowed, and ground chocolate. 

They describe the result as "an exquisite, 100% organic bean-to-bar chocolate that’s as delicious as it is healthy." Source

It also has up to 45% fewer calories than similar dark chocolate!

What Is "Bean-to-Bar" Chocolate Making? 

"Bean to Bar" production means that chocolate maker controls every step of the process, from sourcing the cacao beans to roasting, winnowing, and grinding them, and then tempering the chocolate before it is molded and packaged for sale. 

The bean-to-bar method gives artisan or craft chocolate makers better quality control and produces a healthier product (since craft chocolate makers, unlike many big brands, do not try to accelerate the manufacturing process with chemicals or other additives). Source

It also gives the producers more control over the supply chain, so they can promote ethical and humane business practices.  (More about this important topic later.) 

The Good Chocolate controls the entire production process for its 100% organic chocolate bars at its factory in San Francisco.

Most Sugar Free Chocolate Isn’t Great “Eating Chocolate”

Since many chocolate bars with a higher cacao content, especially those with no sugar, lack the intense, rich flavor and luscious mouthfeel of bars with a lower cacao content, I have become extremely picky about sugar free chocolate.

In the past two years, I have tried many brands of low sugar and sugar free chocolate. There are plenty of low carb chocolate options. Unfortunately, many are sweetened primarily or exclusively with stevia or erythritol. Like many people, I find that anything sweetened only with stevia has a pronounced aftertaste that I dislike intensely, and that erythritol, when used as the only sweetener in a food, creates a cooling, almost mint-like sensation on the tongue. 

Apart from BochaSweet sweetener (made from a pentose-type rare sugar extract from the kabocha squash), blends of two or more keto-friendly sweeteners, such as allulose, monk fruit, erythritol and stevia, taste more like sugar and don’t have the unpleasant aftertaste or cooling effect that stevia or erythritol can have when used alone. 

Chocolate sweetened this way can be quite tasty. For example, I often sprinkle ChocZero chocolate chips over sugar free desserts such as my Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe, and they're fine for baking keto chocolate chip cookies, for example. ChocZero's dark chocolate keto bark is quite good, and their seasonal dark chocolate peppermint truffles are pretty yummy, for sugar-free chocolate. 

On the other hand, their dark chocolate contains only 55% cacao. The ingredients aren't organic. And the taste and mouthfeel are not in the same ballpark as the very high quality, sugar-sweetened dark chocolate I loved and enjoyed for many years, before I decided to cut sugar out of my life. 

So, I have been on the lookout for a great "eating chocolate" (i.e., chocolate meant to be enjoyed as is, rather than with a filling, as a garnish, or in baked goods) with a higher cacao content, a more intense flavor, and a superior mouthfeel.  

The Good Chocolate Bars Are Worth Savoring!

The Good Chocolate has the decadent taste and smooth, luscious mouthfeel of the artisan dark chocolate I used to indulge in before I chose a very low carb lifestyle. Like those, these bars are made from top quality cacao beans and cacao butter, roasted, winnowed, ground, tempered, and molded with the same care and expertise. 

Unlike those, however, they don't contain sugar in any form. This means they won't cause your blood sugar levels to spike. It also means they won't cause you to crave more chocolate than is good for you. One of the biggest benefits of cutting out sugar from my diet is that I can I still enjoy and indulge in sweets without being at the mercy of my former cravings!

Having been a foodie for as long as I can remember, one of the keys to setting myself up for success on a keto diet was finding yummy healthier, keto-friending alternatives to my favorite foods so that I wouldn't feel deprived or be tempted to stray from my new eating plan. I was lucky that, unlike some people, I was able to conquer my sugar addiction without having to give up desserts, beverages, candy, and other foods that were sweetened with healthier alternatives to any form of sugar. 

That's why I was so delighted when I tasted The Good Chocolate bars. They are luxurious enough to savor slowly and should please even gourmet chocolate aficionados. 


A Unique Blend of Organic Healthy Sweeteners 

In addition to using the highest quality, organic raw ingredients and a bean-to-bar process that gives the company full control over every aspect of production, another key thing that sets this brand's sugar free dark chocolate bars apart from most others is its organic "sweet-blend" of erythritol, stevia leaf extract, and mesquite powder. 

Erythritol is a very popular zero-calorie sweetener that is naturally found in pears, mushrooms, and other plants and has a 0 glycemic index. It's easy for most people to digest (unlike many other keto-friendly sweeteners), and has the added benefit of preventing tooth decay.

Stevia leaf extract also has a 0 glycemic index. As I mentioned, combining stevia with the right blend of other keto-friendly sweeteners can mask its bitter aftertaste, which is what The Good Chocolate has done.

Mesquite powder is a traditional Native American product made from the ripened and ground seeds from the seed pods of the mesquite tree. Although traditionally used as an alternative to flour in sweet baked goods and breads, it has gained wider popularity as a "super food." In addition to adding a natural, subtle sweetness to foods, mesquite powder (sometimes called mesquite pod meal) also is high in fiber and protein, and has a very low glycemic index (25).

Even a Single Square Is a Deliciously Satisfying Indulgence

Each bar of The Good Chocolate is scored into six generously sized, squarish sections (approximately 1½ inches by 1 11/16 inches). If I wanted to, I could eat an entire bar in one sitting and still stay within my daily net carbs and calories for maintaining my nearly 60-pound weight loss (currently 59 pounds). However, I almost never do, because this brand is so rich and delicious, has such an intense chocolate flavor, and doesn't trigger my former addictive sugar cravings.

Unwrapped bar of The Good Chocolate dark chocolate

So, when I am in the mood for a piece, I break off one of the six sections, then fold over the elegant silver-lined gold foil wrapper and slide the rest of The Good Chocolate bar back into its heavy paper envelope-style pouch, with its distinctive cover art and graphic design. 

I savor the section I broke off, nibbling off small pieces and letting each one rest on my tongue for a few seconds to warm a bit before I consume it. By the time I have slowly worked my way to the last little bite, I'm usually satisfied. 

Occasionally, however, I may decide to indulge in a second piece, if I want one. It always feels like a guilty pleasure, even though there is nothing to feel guilty about!

Sophisticated Flavor Choices to Please Any Palate

Most of The Good Chocolate bars are 65% cacao dark chocolate. My favorites include Himalayan Salt, Mint, Ginger, and Salted Caramel, although they also made their plain 65% cacao Signature Dark Chocolate bars.

Currently, there is also a limited-edition  Coconut & Turmeric Detox Bar, a 65% cacao dark chocolate bar with developed in collaboration with model and actress Charlotte McKinney and filled with delicious, nutrition-packed superfoods.

The brand also makes a 54% cacao "Dark Milk Chocolate. At the moment, there is also a limited-edition 58% Double Crunch Vegan Milk Bar (which they also refer to as "mylk" chocolate).

I believe that, other than the "Dark Milk Chocolate" bars, all the other bars are vegan. 

Lower in Calories and Net Carbs Than Similar Dark Chocolate Bars

Here's a high-level nutrition data comparison between The Good Chocolate's 65% Signature Dark Chocolate and two other popular brands of dark chocolate, Lindt 64% Dark Chocolate, and Lily's 70% Dark Chocolate (nutrition data pulled from TGC's website).

The Good Chocolate
65% Cacao
Lindt
64% Cacao
Lily's
70% Cacao
Sugar (%) 0 37 1
Sugar (Teaspoons) 0 6 0
Net Carbs
(Total Carbs
minus Fiber & Erythritol)
2 26 6
Calories 227 397 289

Buying Ethically Sourced Chocolate Protects Impoverished Farmers, Children, and Refugees

Against Dangerous Work, Slave Labor, and Human Trafficking

Nearly two-thirds of the world's cocoa beans are produced in West Africa's Côte D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Ghana. Indonesia has become another top cocoa producer.

Tragically, cacao production has long been notorious for the worst forms of forced labor, child labor, and hazardous child labor, sometimes a result of human trafficking. Unfortunately, many cacao bean farmers are paid less than $1 a day for this dangerous, backbreaking work, and can't afford to hire additional laborers to help. Instead, of allowing their children to go to school, they use them as unpaid, forced labor so their family can survive.

The customers for most of this production are large, global chocolate corporations, including Mars, Nestlé, The Hershey Company, and Mondelez International (formerly Kraft foods), and others. Although most have policies prohibiting forced labor practices in their supply chain, those policies are hard to enforce because, for the most part, they don't purchase directly from the cacao bean farmers.

Currently, seven of the world's biggest chocolate companies have been named in a landmark class-action lawsuit in which they are accused of "aiding and abetting the illegal enslavement of 'thousands' of children on cocoa farms in their supply chains" by eight children who claim to have been forced to work as slave labor on Côte D'Ivoire cocoa plantations. 

The Good Chocolate Is Ethically and Sustainably Sourced and Packaged

The best way to help break this terrible, systemic cycle of inhumane practices is for consumers to buy their chocolate from smaller, bean-to-bar producers who have more control over their supply chain than these huge corporations, so they are better able to promote ethical, humane, and not only socially but also environmentally responsible business practices. 

One of the easiest way to find these smaller, craft chocolate makers who are committed to ethical sourcing is to look for brands that are organic, fair trade, direct trade, and/or Rainforest Alliance certified

  • Whenever possible, The Good Chocolate purchases Fair Trade or Rain Forest Alliance certified cacao beans.
  • The company uses only 100% certified organic cacao beans and cacao butter in its bars.
  • It is also committed to sustainable farming practices and is working with its cacao suppliers to reach 100% sustainability as the company grows.

The company also worked with some forward-thinking companies develop cost-effective, renewable packaging solutions that can be recycled or composted.

The Good Chocolate takes its name and mission to heart, "to create delicious chocolate that is [not only] good for you, but also good for the planet." As the website states, "We may spend a little more time, effort and money on renewable packaging, but we hope that our effort, care and responsibility will inspire others and leave the planet a little better off along our way." Source

More Expensive, But Worth It

The Good Chocolate makes premium, small-batch, chocolate bars made with 100% certified organic cacao beans and cacao butter, as well as the blend of erythritol, stevia leaf extract, and mesquite powder, sweeteners that all cost significantly more than cane sugar. 

The company also is committed to following ethical, humane business practices in an industry known for terrible physical, moral, and financial abuses of vulnerable populations, paying a fair price for the cacao beans and cacao butter it purchases, and practicing social and environmental responsibility to protect our future as well as our present.

As a result, these extremely high quality, no sugar dark chocolate bars cost more than some of the high-quality, 100% organic dark chocolate bars sold in Whole Foods Market and similar stores. When I first read about The Good Chocolate and looked into the company and its products, I thought charging $7.50 for a bar of dark chocolate was outrageous (unless the gold foil wrapper was made of real gold!). So, the only reason I decided to buy a 6-bar assortment was that, at the time, there was a promotion that offered a significant discount on your first order. 

I never thought I would even consider ordering more at full price after I finished the six bars from that introductory offer. However, as soon as I taste this new-to-me brand, it immediately became apparent that this premium, sophisticated candy was head-and-shoulders above any other healthy, sugar-free chocolate I had tried. Also, because it was so rich, dark, and delicious, I found that just one section of a bar of The Good Chocolate was enough to satisfy me. That meant that I could indulge in a generously sized square from time to time for $1.25 per serving which, while still pricy, cost less than the 1/3 to 1/2 bar serving of one of the high quality, organic, fair trade chocolate bars I used to buy before I eliminated sugar from my diet. 

Now Available on Amazon With Prime FREE Delivery!

The Good Chocolate just launched on Amazon. So, in addition to Amazone Prime Free Delivery, if you try The Good Chocolate and love it as much as I do, you can save up to 5% with Subscribe & Save (or 10% on your first Subscribe & Save subscription). You can also choose your auto-delivery frequency, as often as every two weeks to as seldom as every six months. 

I highly recommend ordering The Good Chocolate Bar Variety Pack first, which includes six 2.5-ounce (70g) chocolate bars, including all five flavors of 65% Dark Chocolate (Signature Dark, Himalayan Salt, Mint, Ginger, Salted Almonds) and a 54% Dark Milk Chocolate. It's the perfect way to sample their core flavors and pick your favorites before placing another order. 



Product Review: The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate by Margaret Schindel


Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

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 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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Friday, April 2, 2021

Frontline Flea & Tick Drops for Dogs and Cats Reviewed


Each spring I am reminded that there are a few things I really hate about the arrival of warmer weather.  The main one is ticks.  I absolutely abhor ticks! 

I have always lived in the beautiful state of Tennessee.  There is so much to love here.  We have the benefit of experiencing all four seasons, we can grow beautiful flowers, trees and plants, plus we have a wide range of terrain that includes hills, mountains, woods and farm land.  Unfortunately, ticks love our state too. 

We enjoy walking in the woods, on trails, and exploring the world around us.  We always take our dog with us and ticks love our dog as much as they love our state.  Those mean critters hop on him with evil intentions, but he has a Frontline of defense that leaves them wishing they had chosen a different host.

I remember well the first time we armed our first dog with Frontline. After a day of frolicking in the woods with our daughter, he laid down on the entry tile to sleep.  When he awoke, a pile of dead ticks were surrounding him.  Ah, the perfect tick!  

Since that day, all of our dogs have been protected by Frontline Plus, which also kills fleas.


How & When to Treat a Dog with Frontline Flea & Tick Drops

 FRONTLINE Plus Flea and Tick Treatment for Dogs (Extra Large Dog, 89-132 Pounds, 6 Doses)Check Price When to treat you pets may vary by location. I suspect some lower southern states need to treat their pets year round.  In Tennessee, we grab the Frontline as soon as the first warm day arrives.  That is usually in late February or early March.  Since ticks go dormant during the winter (days with temperatures of under 32°), our dogs get a break from the medicine between October and March.  After that, the drops are applied once a month to keep them protected. 

The word "drops" implies that there isn't much liquid applied, but that really isn't an accurate description.  The vials contain the amount of medicine required based on the pets weight.  For our Labrador retriever, his vials contain about a teaspoon of medicine. 

The vial applicators are plastic and are vial shaped with a neck so you are able to apply the liquid all on one spot of skin between a dogs shoulder blades.  You must separate his fur and apply the medicine to his skin (it is absorbed through the skin).

Once dry, the Frontline is waterproof and will continue to protect your swimming pups.

A few words of caution:

  • Wear disposable gloves when treating your pet with Frontline
  • Do not touch the liquid yourself.  I found this out the hard way. I get a severe sore throat if I accidentally touch the spot, even if I wash my hands quickly.
  • Avoid petting the animal in the application area until it is completely dry (experience tells me that is about a day)
  • We apply it at bedtime which allows 8hrs before we are likely to accidentally touch the application spot
  • Do Not apply Frontline to young puppies less than 8 weeks old according to the package, but I recommend consulting your vet for the appropriate age recommendation. We have never used it on a puppy less than a year old.  
  • Don't let other animals lick the treated spot
  • Do Not apply more often than once a month

Now, you may wonder, with all of these cautions, is it really worth it. Easy answer, yes!  Ticks carry diseases that could not only kill your pet, but would also kill you should the tick or its offspring prefer you to the dog. 

I've read the numbers of people who die annually from tick transmitted diseases.  They seem low when reading, especially if you weigh that number against how many people hike regularly. However, I have personally known someone who died of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and it no longer seems as rare as one might think if you just read the statistics.

Having grown up in the south, I know ticks are common. Dogs and cats can't check themselves for ticks. Unless a human just happens to pet them when the tick is embedded and recognize the nasty "lump", a tick can live on a dog for weeks, months or even years based on the tick species and gender. One of the last things a pet owner wants is a tick infestation. 

As with any medication, check with your pet's doctor before using Frontline.  If the vet doesn't mention tick prevention to you, you now know to ask them.






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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

loaf of bread with text "Keto Yeast Bread made with Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Bread Mix"
Delicious keto bread that isn't heavy, dense, or crumbly!

When I began my successful keto diet journey in 2019, Maya Krampf's popular Wholesome Yum website and The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Cookbook (which I have recommended in my Keto Gift Guide and other posts here on Review This Reviews) quickly became two of my go-to resources for quick and easy, healthy keto recipes and reliable information about the ketogenic approach to eating. Maya also has developed a line of high quality, low carb, gluten free, keto food products made with clean ingredients (including her excellent Besti keto-friendly sweeteners), and new products continue to be added to her Wholesome Yum Foods online shop. 

The Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix that launched on December 21, 2020 is one of Maya's newest products. I think it's also one of her best!

A few days ago, she also published a new Keto Yeast Bread Recipe for this bread mix that delivers even more impressive and delicious results. I’m excited to share my in-depth product review of this excellent Wholesome Yum mix and compare the differences in between the loaves I've made with original recipe and the new keto yeast bread recipe. 

Photo of Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Bread Mix package
This keto bread mix has all the pre-measured dry ingredients for a delicious, fresh-baked loaf

Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix, Original Recipe (No Yeast)

The directions currently printed on the bag require just three ingredients in addition to the packaged mix: 6 tablespoons of butter, 4 large eggs, and 3/4 cup (6 ounces) of unsweetened almond milk. 

You can replace the almond milk with a different keto-friendly milk, if you wish.

Line the Loaf Pan With Baking Parchment Paper

The recipe calls for the prepared bread mix to be baked in an 8" x 4" loaf pan lined with baking parchment paper, with the parchment paper overhanging at least the two long sides of the pan. 

However, the 8.5" x 4.5" OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan I have been using (see my product review) has worked fine.

Photo of parchment paper lined loaf pan with box of baking parchment and scissors
Make sure the parchment paper overhangs the long sides of the pan

I have been lining the pan with unbleached If You Care Parchment Baking Paper, which is chlorine-free and compostable. It's also silicone coated, and nothing sticks to it! 

For environmental reasons, the box doesn't have a serrated metal cutting strip. Since the larger, softer cardboard "teeth" don't cut as cleanly as the metal ones, I just use scissors to trim the a sheet of the desired length.

Allow Time to Bring the Ingredients to Room Temperature

All the ingredients should be at room temperature when make the keto bread dough/batter.

Note: Although there is an asterisked line to this effect in the printed directions on the bag, it's easy to miss, not only because the very small type is hard to read, but also because there are no corresponding asterisks attached to the individual ingredients. (A single asterisk with no corresponding reference is meaningless.) It would be helpful if this were fixed during the next packaging print run. 

When a recipe calls for room temperature ingredients, they should be at approximately 70 °F (21 °C), with the exception of butter. Room temperature butter should be a bit cooler, roughly 65 °F (18 °C). It has reached the correct temperature when it is still a bit cool to the touch and retains its shape, but has softened enough to leave an indentation when pressed with a fingertip.

Photo of ingredients to make Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Bread Mix: bag of mix, 6 tablespoons of butter, 4 eggs, and 3/4 cup almond milk
One bag of mix + butter, eggs, and almond milk = quick and easy keto bread!

Why Using Room Temperature Ingredients Matters When Making The Keto Bread Mix Batter

Using room temperature butter, eggs, and almond milk allows the butter to cream properly and the eggs and butter to be fully incorporated into the creamed butter, so there are no remaining clumps of butter after the dry ingredients in the Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix are added. 

Conversely, using ingredients that are too warm or too cold will likely produce less-than-optimal results.

When I tried the Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix for the first time this January, the New England winter meant that our north-facing kitchen (with its large expanse of windows) was quite chilly. As a result, even after sitting out on the counter for a couple of hours, my "room temperature" eggs, and almond milk were much cooler than 70 °F (21 °C), and even my butter was colder than 65 °F (18 °C) and had very little "give" when pressed with a fingertip. 

As a result, even after being creamed at high speed with my trusty KitchenAid mixer for for nearly 15 minutes, the butter never softened fully, and when I added the eggs and almond milk to it, they wouldn't incorporate smoothly, no matter how long I beat the mixture. 

You can see in following photo that the first batch of keto bread dough/batter didn't come together as smoothly as it should and would have if my kitchen hadn't been so chilly.

Photo of bread dough in parchment paper lined loaf pan
A cold kitchen made my butter a bit uncooperative!

In retrospect, I could have put the unshelled, room temperature eggs in a bowl of warm water for 5–10 minutes and warmed the almond milk gently on the stovetop or in the microwave. However, the butter still would have been a problem, since using any form of added heat to soften butter without melting it is a tricky proposition.

The Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix Recipe Is Pretty Forgiving

Despite my inability to bring the ingredients to "recipe" room temperature, and the fact that we currently have only a tabletop oven (our built-in double oven died a few years ago), the loaf baked quite nicely.
Photo of baked easy keto bread mix loaf in pan on rack
The first loaf I made with this keto bread mix turned out well, even with the too-cool ingredients

Making low carb, gluten-free bread with Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix was easy. The hard part was waiting until the next day, as the package directions recommend, before slicing into the loaf so I could taste it!

Photo of baked keto bread loaf cut in half on cutting board with bread knife
A lighter, less dense texture than most keto bread

Although it is possible to find low carb bread recipes that don't contain almond flour, most of them do. Ground almonds are heavier than grain flours, lack gluten for structure, and interact differently with leavening agents. As a result, most loaves made from a keto bread recipe are pretty dense, and tend to crumble easily.

So, when I cut into the loaf I made with the Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix, I was very pleased to see small air pockets, indicating a somewhat lighter, less dense texture than most low carb bread made with almond flour. (You can see the air pockets better in the close-up photo of my half-sandwich.)

Not only did it make great toast, it also was less crumbly than most other keto-friendly almond flour breads, which allowed me to make a sandwich that didn't fall apart as soon as I bit into it!

Photo of half sandwich made with keto bread, keto jam, and keto chocolate hazelnut spread
My sweet half-sandwich on keto bread made with the Wholesome Yum mix
(Note: For scale, this is a salad plate.)

After making a great slice of toast, the next thing I tried was a sandwich. I had just received my order of keto-friendly Good Good sweet raspberry jam (which is currently out of stock, but other flavors are available, including Good Good Sweet Blueberry Jam) and ChocZero Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (a keto diet friendly alternative to Nutella), so I decided to cut a slice in half and make myself a raspberry-chocolate hazelnut half-sandwich. (Hey, don't knock it until you try it! I like to think of it as a 21st-century update to the Fluffernutter, a lunchbox favorite back in the 1960s, when I was a kid, that I can't imagine eating today.) 

I was able to eat my half-sandwich without the bread crumbling or breaking, which was a major improvement over most other keto bread recipes or mixes I had tried. 

The New Keto Yeast Bread Recipe Makes an Even Better Low Carb Loaf 

Even though I was pleased with the results I was getting from Maya's new keto bread mix and had already begun to write a product review of it for Review This Reviews, I was extremely excited by her revelation last month in one of the Wholesome Yum Facebook groups I belong to that she had been working on a keto yeast bread recipe for the new mix and thought she was close to perfecting it. 

I knew that adding yeast to the batter/dough would result in a taller loaf with a lighter, airier, more sponge-like texture and might also give the bread some of the flavor characteristics of conventional yeast breads. 

I decided to hold off on my product review of the bread mix until the new recipe had been published, so I could compare it to the original and confirm or correct my assumptions about the effects of adding yeast to the batter. 

Photo of Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Bread Mix and other ingredients for the keto yeast bread recipe
Feeding the yeast with inulin allows this keto yeast bread recipe to be 100% sugar free 

The Yeast Bread Version of the Recipe Adds Two Ingredients

Active Dry Yeast

You can use any brand of active dry yeast, such as Fleischmann's or Red Star. I decided to order my favorite from my BK (before keto) baking, SAF-Instant Premium Yeast - Red, which is widely used by professional bakers and consistently produces superior results with any type of bread, pizza, croissant, or other unsweetened doughs. 

I discovered the red SAF-Instant Premium Yeast many years ago on the King Arthur Baking website (a reliable source of baking expertise and a go-to resource for baking enthusiasts). The fact that it's the yeast they use most often in their test kitchens was a good enough endorsement for me! 

In addition to improving bread dough baking results, a 1-pound vacuum-sealed bag/brick of SAF-instant yeast ends up costing much, much less per use than the 4-ounce jars or strips of three individual packets of active dry yeast sold in supermarkets. 

I keep mine in the freezer in an airtight container, where it remains good for years, and unopened packages have a two-year shelf life. 

Tip: If you're not following a low carb or keto diet, use SAF-Instant Premium Yeast - Gold, rather than the one in the red package, for making conventional sweet dough recipes. 

Inulin Powder

In this recipe, the active dry yeast is fed with powdered inulin, a soluble fiber and prebiotic, instead of the sugar or other high glycemic index sweeteners that recipes typically used for that purpose. 

I was in such a rush to order inulin powder for this recipe that I inadvertently ordered a huge 2.2-pound bag of it on Amazon (with free Amazon Prime delivery)! However, since it you need only one teaspoon of it per 2¼ teaspoons (or one packet) of active dry yeast, I recommend buying a smaller package, such as this 8-ounce bag of 100% pure inulin powder that is made in the USA (in Utah) from non-GMO Jerusalem artichokes, sometimes called sunchokes. 

Wholesome Yum Keto Yeast Bread Recipe 

To make the keto yeast bread recipe, you start by mixing the batter according to the original recipe, then fold in active dry yeast bloomed in lukewarm water mixed with inulin powder, and set the covered yeast batter aside in a warm spot to proof. After the yeast bread batter/dough has been allowed to rise for an hour, it is transferred to the parchment-line loaf pan and baked at the same temperature, and for the same length of time, as the original recipe. And, like the original recipe, the baked loaf should be removed to a cooling rack and left until it has cooled completely (overnight, if possible) before you slice into it. 

Here are the ingredients, tools, supplies, and equipment you will need to make Maya's new keto yeast bread recipe. 

Ingredients:

  • 2¼ teaspoons (or 1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) lukewarm water, 105–115 °F (41–46 °C)
  • 1 teaspoon of inulin powder *
  • 1 bag Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix
  • 6 tablespoons butter **
  • 4 large eggs ** (not medium, extra-large, or jumbo size)
  • 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz.) unsweetened almond milk ** ***

Tools, Supplies, and Equipment:

  • A hand mixer or stand mixer 
  • A large mixing bowl
  • A rubber scraper (to scrape the bowl and beaters)
  • Plastic wrap (to cover the bowl of prepared yeast dough before setting it aside to proof/rise) ****
  • An 8" x 4" loaf pan
  • Baking parchment paper to line the pan (I highly recommend using unbleached baking parchment)
  • A cooling rack

* The inulin powder is a prebiotic fiber that is used in this recipe to feed the yeast. It is a keto-friendly alternative to feeding the yeast with sugar, honey, or other high-glycemic sweeteners that can elevate your blood glucose and insulin levels. If you follow a strict sugar-free or keto diet and want to ensure that your keto bread is absolutely sugar free, the inulin in this recipe is an essential ingredient that cannot be substituted. However, for people whose dietary requirements and preferences are less strict, the recipe also offers the option to replace the teaspoon of inulin powder with a teaspoon of coconut sugar. 

** At room temperature

*** Use plain, unsweetened almond milk for this recipe. Unless the package specifically says "unsweetened almond milk," assume it contains added sugar, and is not suitable for a low carb, sugar-free, or keto diet.

**** I recommend biodegradable, reusable beeswax food wrap as a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to disposable plastic wrap (aka cling film). It's available either precut or in rolled sheets that you can cut to size, as needed. Although I own and use both types, I'd suggest buying an uncut roll to ensure that you'll have a large enough piece to cover your large mixing bowl while the keto bread batter is proofing.

Directions:

Follow Maya's full Keto Yeast Bread Recipe on Wholesome Yum, which provides not only step-by-step directions with photos, but also helpful tips, refrigerator and freezer storage instructions, and an FAQ that answers questions such as as whether yeast and inulin are keto-friendly ingredients.

This Keto Yeast Bread Recipe Turned Out Even Better The Second Time!

Update 4/8/21: Last weekend, we finally had a warm-ish spring day here in New England (a "balmy" 58 degrees Fahrenheit, lol!). I had just finished the last slice from my first loaf, and hoped that my room temperature eggs, butter and nut milk would be warmer and more cooperative this time. Indeed, they were! I was able to get the butter to cream properly, so it was nicely pale and fluffy. And the eggs and nut milk (I used macadamia nut milk this time) were fully incorporated into the creamed butter, so there were no large lumps of butter in my yeast bread batter, which made it much easier to smooth the top after transferring it to the parchment paper-lined loaf pan.

Second loaf of keto yeast bread on cutting board
My second keto yeast bread loaf 

Comparing Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix Original and Keto Yeast Bread Recipes 

Height

When I followed the original Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix recipe printed on the bag, the top of the baked loaf remained lower than the rim of the baking pan.

Photo of baked keto bread loaf in pan, made with recipe on bag of mix
The basic recipe without yeast produces a shorter loaf

However, when I followed the new keto yeast bread recipe, the batter's volume increased considerably as it proofed, which produced a baked loaf that was taller than baking pan.

Taller loaf in pan, made with keto yeast bread recipe
Adding yeast to the original batter recipe produces a larger, taller loaf that rises above the pan rim

Size and Texture

The recipe printed on the bag produced slices that were slightly larger, and had more air pockets and a lighter texture, than typical keto breads.

Sliced Wholesome Yum Keto Bread

As you can see, the slices of this loaf, which was made with the Wholesome Yum Keto Yeast Bread Recipe, were significantly larger and had many more air pockets and and an even lighter texture vs. those cut from previous loaf made with the original Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix recipe.

Sliced Wholesome Yum Keto Yeast Bread loaf

Time and Effort

The time it takes to bloom the yeast and fold it into the prepared batter is minimal. 

However, the yeasted dough also needs to be covered and set aside to proof before it is transferred to the parchment paper-lined pan, which add 60 minutes to the total time, start-to-finish . 

On the other hand, since the batter doesn't need to be monitored while it's proofing, that time can be spent elsewhere, on other activities.

Bottom Line

Unless I'm pressed for time or can't start baking until later in the day, I consider the superior loaf produced with Maya's new Wholesome Yum Keto Yeast Bread Recipe well worth the minimal additional effort and the one-hour delay while the batter is proofing.

However, even without the addition of yeast, the Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix is a convenient, time-saving, and delicious option for making freshly baked, keto-friendly bread.


Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe by Margaret Schindel


Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

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


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