Tasting Box – August 2014

Like usual, I got my Tasting Box a couple days after I ordered it. And, of course, it takes me over a week to get this review out!

Here’s the August Tasting Box! This month, they put in a whopping 7 products!

What is it?

Tasting is believing! The TASTING BOX includes 5 scrumptious tastes to enjoy, made by our favourite Canadian small batch food artisans and delivered directly to your door – a different box each month.  The TASTING BOX is the perfect opportunity to discover and sample the culinary talents right in our own backyard! Only 50 TASTING BOXES are available each month, so order yours today!

It’s $14.95 + shipping for a box, so people in Ontario and Quebec get it for around $22 or so after tax.

Tasting Box August 2014

Made with Local’s Peanut Butter Blondie (Dartmouth, NS) – $22 for 8 bars, $2.75 per bar

Omgosh, peanut butter blondies! It’s definitely not a health product or an energy bar of any sort, but I’m actually pretty excited to see a fully packaged bar that’s just for indulgence. Not to mention, it’s made out of oats, peanut butter and chocolate! (I LOVE PEANUT BUTTER.)

I love seeing new products coming out from the Maritimes, especially products made with local ingredients!

Stone Milled Specialty Grains’ Buckshots Snack Pack (Oak Bluff, MB) – $35 for case of 25, $1.60 each

I’m actually not too sure how to eat this since the buckshots are tiny little pellets of grains. It says I can snack on it directly, but it feels really awkward trying to eat a handful of this at a time since they’re so small!

It says that you can put it in your cereal, so I might just use this in a couple bowls of oatmeal in the next couple mornings. It should be interesting to see what Smokey BBQ breakfast oatmeal will taste like!

Wholly Noggin Bars in Walnut Blueberry (West Vancouver, BC) – $41.98 for case of 12 bars, $3.50 each

This bar is made out of all organic and natural ingredients, so it’s actually incredibly dense and kind of crumbly. Just a bite of this bar contains so much energy and chewy goodness, but I still think it’s too hard!

It has a very distinct nutty scent and flavour, along with some notes of banana that I really didn’t like. It’s not that good tasting, in my opinion, but it might be good for vegans or those on the Paleo diet.

Tasting Box August 2014

Ohmbars’ Lemon Cranberry Poppy Energy Bars (Ottawa, ON) – $33.48 for 12 bars, $2.79 per bar

I got a bit hungry right after I took these pictures but I still had dinner to eat, so I quickly grabbed this bar to munch on first.

See, I totally didn’t notice that the Ohmbars are primarily made out of date paste or else I would’ve given this to my best friend since she LOVES dates! I’m not a huge fan, but I actually quite liked this one. It wasn’t crazy dense like a lot of other date bars, but it still got pretty stuck in my teeth after I finished it.

The sweetness was at a good level, and both lemon and cranberry flavours were pretty balanced out with each other!

(PS – Very punny name. Love it!)

inner-J Bars’ Lemon Goji Berry Coconut Bars (Toronto, ON) – $11.99 for 3 bars, $41.99 for 12 bars

I think Tasting Box sent out a couple samples from J-Bars before and it looks like they’ve gone through a major packaging overhaul! It looks a lot better than the clear plastic resealable bags that they were using before.

Tasting Box August 2014

GORP Clean Energy Bar in Cocoa, Hemp & Almond (Niverville, MB) – $49.70 for 16 bars, $3.10 per bar

This bar has a really neat marketing spin since the GORP part of the label is actually a sticker that you can use to reseal the packet!

It’s really delicious with the bitter cocoa balancing out the sweetness from the rice syrup and the chocolate chips, but I think 65g is a bit big for a bar! Although I think the sticker is to help you save some for later.

SIPsoda EAST’s Natural Craft Soda in Lavender Lemon Peel (Vaughn, ON) – $40 for 24 bottles, $1.67 per bottle

I wasn’t too sure what to expect out of a lavender lemon peel drink, but I’m actually quite enjoying it! The bubbles aren’t too aggressive and the sweetness level is just right as a flavoured soda. The lavender notes aren’t too strong, but it definitely has a faint sense of drinking potpourri.

Verdict: 4/5 There wasn’t a lot of variety in the box with so many energy bars, but I really enjoyed how most of them tasted! I’ve also been eyeing the SIPsoda for a while, but it costs too much to get them shipped from BC, so I was very happy to get a bottle in my box!

Did you get the August Tasting Box? What did you think about it?

xoxo,

B.elle

Little Life Box – July 2014

Got some more goodies in the mail! This month’s Little Life Box had a theme of healthy, organic food!

What Is It?

Also known as Petite Boîte à Vie, the Little Life Box is a monthly healthy lifestyle subscription box that ships from Quebec, Canada. Each box starts at $19.99 and ships anywhere in Canada for $3.75! Each box will feature healthy and natural products for you to try and Little Life Box will feature some brands on their site to purchase full size products.

As always, the box was stuffed full of goodies!

At first glance, there’s some repeat brands that I’ve had in the past couple months but I think I’m okay with them. I’m also pretty pleased that I didn’t get another bottle of supplement pills!

OneCoffee Ethiopian K-Cups (2 pods)

They brought back the OneCoffee K-Cups this month but this time it’s the Ethiopian blend. I don’t have a Keurig machine, but I did rip out the coffee grinds from the cup, used them in my normal coffee and it worked pretty well. It’s a bit wasteful, but it’s about 90% biodegradable, so I guess it’s okay? O_o

Four O’Clock Herbal Teas (2 teabags)

I’m never going to have to buy tea again! I love getting them in my subscription boxes!

I got two in my box this month, but I can’t remember what the second one is. It’s a repeat brand, but I like sampling the whole line before making a clear judgement on a brand, especially when it’s something like tea, which has a million different brands out there. Plus, I love strawberry daiquiris! (Too bad it’s not an “adult” tea!)

Crio Bru’s Brewed Cocoa in Maracaibo – $17.97 for 340g

Now, this is interesting! It’s something like a coffee alternative but it’s simply ground up cocoa beans and brewed the same way as coffee. Crio Bru claims that cocoa beans contain the highest amounts of antioxidants by weight and that they contain a natural energy booster called theobromine, a chemical relative of caffeine, but doesn’t have the nasty side effects of caffeine like energy crashes and irritability.

Consumer science aside, I’m pretty excited about brewing cocoa beans because I’ve heard about it before. I have no idea if it’ll actually curb my appetite or make me lose weight (black coffee has similar effects in the long run, by the way), but it’ll be interesting to see how it tastes!

A.Vogel Herbamare Original – $4.49 for 125g ($0.36 for 10g sample)

The A.Vogel Herbamare Original is an herb and spice infused sea salt mixture that I’m very excited to try out because I love infused sea salt! I went to a winery restaurant and their wine-infused sea salt was to die for.

Ingredients: Sea salt, celery*, leek*, watercress*, onion*, chives*, parsley*, lovage*, garlic*, basil*, marjoram*, rosemary*, thyme*, kelp.

*Certified organically grown by: bio.inspecta AG

Way Better Snacks Simply Sweeet Potato Corn Tortilla Chips – $1.20 for 35.44g bag

The Way Better Snacks brand is making its rounds through the food subscription boxes, but I’m not complaining. They’re certified gluten free, non-GMO, kosher and vegan all at the same time!

The Sweeet Potato Tortilla Chips also contain some sprouted chia and quinoa seeds to help expose their nutrients for better absorption. Now, I have no idea how well these nutrients have held up through processing, but that’s good to know.

I’m so going to eat this at work tomorrow!

A.Vogel Absolut Arnica Pain Relief Gel + Coupon – $15.99 for 50mL ($0.62 for 2g sample)

This could not have come at a better time… I’ve barely been able to move my neck and raise my shoulders because I’ve strained my muscles so badly down my spine. (A deep massage by the monsieur helped, but it’s still getting there after a week!)

I rubbed it on my shoulders and neck and I’m actually very surprised that it works! Within a minute, the aching pain in my muscles went away and the gel dried up pretty quickly as well. It’s got a pretty nice floral smell, but it doesn’t completely cover up the alcoholic scent of the gel solution.

Now, the pain did go away pretty fast, but it doesn’t stay away for very long. This might be because I have deep tissue straining instead of a light strain or a simple bruise. But, if I ever want a more homeopathic pain relief gel, I’ll keep an eye out for this!

The Good Bean Roasted Chickpeas with Sea Salt – $3.39 for 2.5oz ($1.01 for 0.75oz sample)

More yummies! I haven’t had any roasted chickpeas in recent memory, but I do like snacking on roasted peas and peanuts! The fact that it only contains 4 ingredients (chickpeas, safflower oil, coarse salt, vitamin E) is always a good sign.

HoneyBar in Mixed Sesame – 45g

I have to be honest with you readers… The bar first reminded me of those bird feeders with all the seeds in them! Ahhh!

But, I know I’m going to love this one because sesame seeds are one of my favourite garnishes ever. Although I’m a bit concerned about how hard the bar feels inside the packaging. I hope I don’t break any teeth!

Nature Pro Vanilla Whey Protein – $57.99 for 800g ($2.18 for 30g)

This sachet came with this huge pamphlet of how healthy and natural this whey protein is, but it’s not overly clear about how I’m supposed to take it. There’s a little paragraph about putting it into smoothies, but how does this taste? Can I put it into soups?

Obviously, I’m not really into putting more protein into my drinks aside from greek yogurt, so I’m just joking around. This sample looks to be a single serving for a rather large smoothie, so I might go out and get some strawberries and an avocado to try it out.

RiceSelect Texmati – $6.32USD for 907.2g ($1.05USD for 150g sample)

That name just sounds so cheesy and I love it! TEX-MAH-TEE!

The rice is a hybridized crop that has the nutty, aromatic flavours of basmati rice but the texture and cooking instructions of American long grain rice. The results are a flavourful, fluffy and delicious dish.

This package of rice will definitely be used! I’m thinking of a Thai chicken curry dish with coconut milk, lemongrass and bell peppers.

MAX/Effects Naturals Eye and Face Makeup Remover

I was talking to a parkour friend of mine and she mentioned that she likes the concept of makeup, but she hates using makeup remover. I wonder if it’s because most makeup removers are mostly chemicals?

I’ve seen some pretty positive reviews about it, so I’m looking forward to trying it! Right now, I’m using some green tea wipes from The Face Shop because they’re just so damn convenient but I might throw this sample into my travel bag when I’m staying out overnight.

GoGo Quinoa Spaghetti – $3.50 for 227g

Gluten free pasta still freaks me out just a TINY bit just because I know it’s not going to be the same texture and bite as wheat pasta. At least this gluten free pasta doesn’t need to be refrigerated!

I did manage to make this delicious dish already, though!

Garlicky Kale and Shrimp Pasta

Garlicky Kale and Shrimp Pasta

I made some rookie mistakes while I was cooking, so it didn’t come out quite as well as I thought it would, but I also noticed that the pasta kept on absorbing all the liquid and the oils I kept putting in. So, if you’re cooking with this type, I’d suggest using a bit more sauce than you normally would and treat it more like a hardy rice noodle! (Meaning, actually USE sauce instead of just olive oil…)

Verdict: 4.5/5!  I’m starting to be able to cope with the supplements included in the box, especially if there’s something to do with muscle pain relief involved. The food items were nicely varied and I know that I can use everything that they included! Love it!

Did you get a Little Life Box? What did you think of it this month?

xoxo,

B.elle

Little Life Box – June 2014

Look what I got in the mail this week!

Little Life Box June 2014

What Is It?

Also known as Petite Boîte à Vie, the Little Life Box is a monthly healthy lifestyle subscription box that ships from Quebec, Canada. Each box starts at $19.99 and ships anywhere in Canada for $3.75! Each box will feature healthy and natural products for you to try and Little Life Box will feature some brands on their site to purchase full size products. You also have the option of choosing either the Original box or the Vegan box!

As you can tell, the box is quite full again and it’s got a pretty good variety of things inside. I’m much more food-oriented in general, but I do enjoy how Little Life Box includes things for the bathroom and a little “me maintenance”!

I didn’t know this before, but I found out that they actually list the products on their website instead of sending out a card. That’s actually pretty smart considering everyone’s connected to their computer and it definitely saves on some packaging material, too! It’d be awesome if Little Life Box released an app with the monthly product list for more convenience, though.

Let’s take a closer look at what was inside.

Neolia’s Hydra-Prevention Soap (1 bar, 90g) – $2.99 for 130g

Neolia’s not a brand I’ve heard of, but they’re a Quebecois brand that’s dedicated to offering vegan, cruelty-free, gentle and biodegradable hair and body care products. I can get behind that!

I do like to try out different, natural soaps and this one has a pretty nice smell to me, too! It’s made with organic Extra Virgin Italian olive oil and aloe vera, and it’s completely vegan.

I really can’t wait to try this, but it looks like I’ll have to order online if I want to get it again since it’s only available in Quebec retailers! (Or get my brother to cross into Gatineau to grab me a couple more bars.)

Neolia’s Protective Shampoo and Conditioner (10mL each sachet) – $7.99 for 400mL

They’re both part of the Protective line for hair, so I mashed them into one category.

They’re not an organic product, but they’re made with organic apricot oil, if that really means anything in terms of hair products! They also feature blueberries, honey, omega 9s, and vitamins A and C. I know they’re healthy when you eat them, but does it really do anything for hair, I wonder…?

The Protective products are for coloured hair, so these two will go to my mom!

Neolia’s Hydra-Prevention Body Lotion (10mL sachet) – $10.99 for 500mL

Another Neolia product! I’m guessing that they struck a deal with them, but I’m happy to be able to try out a whole assortment of their products!

Like the soap, this body lotion is made with organic Extra Virgin Italian olive oil and aloe vera. I don’t think I’ll try to see if it’ll work on sunburns, though… (I’m not a fan of tanning or burning.)

ALo Naturals’ Organic Lip Balm in Original – $6, Full sized

I couldn’t find the size of the lip balm anywhere, but it’s a pretty normal size. It’s even got a pretty lotus design on the cap!

The ALo line comes in 5 different flavours and the original one contains vitamins A, B, D, E, collagen and protein. It has a pleasant, faint shea butter scent to it that I actually like quite a bit!

I’m going to keep this in my bag since my EOS is almost finished and see how this compares!

Smooth and Sweet Sugar Scrub’s Vanilla Swirl Body Scrub – $16.00 for 8oz

I have no idea how much they sampled out for each person because it’s in a little condiment cup that you’d get in a small restaurant. It looks like a VERY new company from what I can see, but that means it’s so much more exciting to see how it is!

The company, created by Jennifer B Christianson, promises no sulfates, no dyes, no parabens and all natural, gluten free, vegan, organic products. They also claim that it has a UV protection of 6-8.

On top of all that, the scrub supposedly helps with a variety of skin problems and helps to prevent and heal future skin damage. With all of these claims, I’d love to know what they use, but I can’t seem to find anything!

Beanfields’ Bean & Rice Chips in Pico de Gallo – 43g snack size

I’m usually very, very hesitant to try out bean and/or rice chips because I don’t like the grainy textures that come with these types of flour. They just don’t have the same type of bite that corn or potato chips have!

But, Beanfields does a fantastic gluten-free chip that delivers impeccable taste, too! I’ll have to say it: I’m converted!

SierraSil Joint Formula 14 (45 capsules) – $19.95, full sized

Wasn’t that Canadian curling MILF a spokesperson for this brand at some point?

Anyway, another supplement pill? Is this a regular thing because I really don’t care for these things. Plus, my joints don’t ache, they pop!

In all seriousness, this is what’s stated on SierraSil’s website:

SierraSil Joint Formula14™ contains SierraSil®, a pure mineral powder with essential minerals including calcium, iron, silicon, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc.

If any of those things are useful to you, then why not try it?

Four O’Clock Caffeine-Free Tea Bags (2 bags)

They sent us two different flavours: Pineapple Coconut and Fruit Sangria! They’re both part of the new Spring/Summer Collection that includes:

  • Pineapple Coconut
  • Fruit Sangria
  • Strawberry Daiquiri
  • Cucumber Mint
  • Orange Sorbet
  • Pink Lemonade

They all sound delicious! I tried out the Fruit Sangria variation and it’s surprisingly light in flavour, but very well rounded.

Spice Sanctuary’s Organic Alleppey Grade Turmeric Powder (50g) – $7.25 full size

I was really surprised to see a whole packet of a single spice in my box! I’m not complaining since I always intend to pick up some turmeric at the bulk spice store, but I never actually remember to do so when I’m there.

It’s good to see that this Ontario company also takes the time to give a little background information about the spice on their website. I never really knew that curcumin’s the spice that makes turmeric so yellow!

Nature’s Bakery’s All Natural Fig Bar in Strawberry – 28.3g bar

Look, another energy bar type of thing on the blog! As if I haven’t had enough of them, right? Haha!

It’s a fig bar with some strawberry puree in it, so it sounds pretty delicious! It’s made out of 100% natural, dairy-free ingredients, but it’s also made with stone ground whole wheat flour, so celiacs beware.

It’s also a bit small for an energy bar, in my opinion. I’m guessing that it’s more for short journeys or a small pit stop in between, but that would really rack up the dollars at that point!

Seriously, Little Life Box has a lot of stuff…

Eat Nakd Raw Fruit & Nut Bar in Cocoa Orange (35g bar) – £13.99 for 18 bars

This brand comes from the UK, but it’s pretty widely available in Canada through the Sobeys and Metro chains as well as a lot of smaller retailers! Check out the list here!

I love how they list all five ingredients (dates, cashews, raisins, cocoa and natural orange and chocolate flavouring) along with the percentages on the back of the label. According to this, the bar’s 40% dates and 40% cashews! That’s pretty cool! (And very useful for reverse engineering for homemade recipes…)

Now, I’m seeing a lot of gluten free items and keeping an eye on the gluten-free trend and how it’s seen as a healthy lifestyle choice. This bar is one of those examples where gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean completely healthy… One bar has 7g of fat in it, which is 11% of your total daily intake. Yikes.

Neal Brothers Srirachup Kettle Cooked Chips – (28g bag)

I heard that Chef Chuck Hughes was doing a chip with Neal Brothers and OMG SRIRACHA CHIPS!

In case you haven’t noticed, I LOVE THE ROOSTER SAUCE OF THE HEAVENS. Like many foodies and chefs out there, I love using sriracha sauce in every situation where a condiment calls for it.

Hot dogs? Sriracha drizzle. Salad dressing? Ramp that shit up with some sriracha. Fried noodles? Damn right, some sriracha’s going on it!

So it’s only natural for Chef Hughes to gravitate towards that flavour to make into a chip with the Neal Brothers brand, which makes some really incredible kettle chips for a decent price!

It doesn’t taste exactly like the legendary sriracha sauce, but it definitely delivers a tasty kick with its signature garlic-tomato-chili flavour! I’m gonna have to grab a bag next time I’m doing my groceries!

Lakanto No-Calorie Sugar Substitute (4g packet) – $12.99 for 235g

It’s been a pretty big food trend lately where everyone’s looking for a sugar substitute that provides the same amount of sweetness, but without the calories or the glycemic index. Personally, I don’t see the trend dying off anytime soon but I’m somehow still not a fan of sugar substitutes because I don’t have a big sweet tooth like most other Canadians.

Anyway, Lakanto’s sugar substitute is made out of erythritol (a sugar alcohol that’s derived from glucose and sweet but without the calories or glycemic index) and Luo Han Guo, more commonly known as monkfruit.

I was actually doing some research on monkfruit as a sugar substitute for work! The fruit itself is grown only in a certain region of China and its potency is similar to stevia, but it doesn’t have a strange aftertaste like stevia. (Some people can taste it, others can’t. I can taste it pretty strongly.)

It’s interesting to note that the use of monkfruit essence as a sugar substitute has been approved by Health Canada on December 2, 2013. In terms of food manufacturing and regulations, this is a brand new product in the Canadian market!

Verdict: 4/5  It’s another winner! I don’t like how there’s another supplement product in the box, even though it’s full sized, and two energy bars in one box feels a bit repetitive, but I can definitely see myself using all of these products by the time the next one comes! I’ve already eaten both bags of chips…

Did you get a Little Life Box? What did you think of it this month?

xoxo,

B.elle

Happy Belly Box!

There’s a new subscription box available to Canada! It’s called Happy Belly Box and it sends out 4-6 samples of the best allergy-free food they can find on the market. For $19.95/month + $7 for shipping to Canada, it doesn’t sound too bad!

I may opt for a single month box to see how it goes, since I can’t seem to find anything about a cancellation policy. We’ll see soon enough!

Check it out here!

xoxo,

B.elle