thinkThin® thinkWellness bar giveaway

Are you a bar person? I am! Smile

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While I almost always have a little baggie of almonds in my purse (and if I plan ahead maybe even some fruit), given the seemingly unlimited variety of bars available, I just love how exciting and convenient they make on the go snacking! In the mood for something hearty? Go for a protein packed bar. Cravings a candy bar but looking for a healthier alternative? They make those too… and they may even keep you full for a few hours.

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For a while I had boxes full of every kind of bar you can think of. And then one day I decided that I should just make my own to save on cost while having fun in the kitchen (I like the whole cooking thing in case you haven’t noticed). I did it once. They were gone in days. And then it’s taken me months to make any again. Other more urgent things seem to occupy my time.

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So when I was contacted about reviewing thinkThin bars, I decided to give ‘em ago. And once I got my little stash of 6, I quickly remembered what a TREAT having bars is. So many flavors. So much fun. And no work required. Sometimes the price of convenience is well worth it! The bar monster was reborn. Winking smile

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So let’s talk about thinThin bars. I’ve seen the high protein ones around for a few years now. These natural bars pack 20 grams of protein. They are coated in chocolate and the insides have a texture that reminds of the inside of the peanut butter cup. The cookies & creme (as per below) has chunks of cookies on the inside but the texture is always the same. They reminded me a lot of the Promax bars I used to eat like it was my job about 6 years ago. They have a slight protein powder taste which is impossible to describe – like something is slightly off when compared to a candy bar, but also incredibly addictive. I seriously love them and plan on buying them by the box to curb my sweet tooth in a healthier way. Also, going back to the “I should really make my own” argument, I wouldn’t even know where to start with these so they are definitely worth a purchase if you like them.

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I loved all 3 varieties sent to me but if I were to rank them – it’d be caramel fudge, creamy peanut butter, then the favorite – cookies & crème. Big fan of that one in particular! Smile

Now the crunchy bars are more standard granola bars – packed with nuts and dried fruit and sweetened with brown rice syrup (lower on the glycemic index). In general, these are soft and chewy with the “crunch” coming from soy crisps (think rice crispies!).

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I liked that these bars were not cloyingly sweet like some of their competitors, and that they contained about 8 grams of protein (not as high as the creamy bars but again – higher than most of the other similar bars on the market).

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This guy got a little smooshed in my purse but it was still delicious Smile

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Would you like a chance to win some thinkThin bars? 10 lucky Healthy and Sane readers (yes, TEN!) will win a Weight Wellness sampler consisting of 2 thinkThin® Protein Bars & 2 thinkThin® Crunch Bars. Pretty awesome if you ask me! Smile

Here are the rules!

Mandatory for entry:

1) Like Think Products on Facebook and follow @thinkproducts on twitter

2) Leave a comment on this post telling me you’ve done the above. Feel free to also tell me what your favorite on the go-snack is, and if it’s a bar, what your favorite bar is (purchased or made).

Additional optional entries (to increase your chances of winning!):

3) Follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway (a link to this post must be included to qualify)

4) Pin this post on Pinterest

5) Subscribe to Healthy and Sane by email

6) Like Healthy and Sane on Facebook.

7) Link to this post on your Facebook page.

8) Add Healthy and Sane to your blogroll.

9 ) Link to this post on your blog, if you have one. If you don’t, let someone else know about this giveaway and tell me so in the comments section after they’ve entered the giveaway.

Please leave a separate comment on this post for each qualifying entry. This giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry!) and ends at midnight on Wed, May 2. I will randomly choose 10 winners (woohoo!) using random.org and announce them in the following post. Good luck! :D

Quick and cheap: egg salad BLT

Hi friends, how’s life? Did you watch the Boston Marathon? I’m always so proud that this amazing race is in my city. And since I live very close to the finish line, I always get a little emotional seeing all the runners. I know how close they are to this incredible accomplishment and I’m so so excited for them!

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Anyways, the marathon was the highlight of my week so far but the rest of the week as always revolved around food.  Since I do a lot of recipe testing for my express lunch time lessons, I wanted to share one of my favorite quick and cheap recipes that’s perfect for lunch or a casual dinner – an egg salad BLT. This recipe was originally featured in Best of Cooking Light and it was love at first bite. I adore how light yet creamy the egg salad is, and the addition of lemon zest really brightens it up. Also, I’ve used nonfat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream on many occasions and it works wonderfully.

Side note: Martha Stewart’s method for hard-boiled eggs creates perfect eggs every time.

The best part? The contrast between creamy eggs, juicy tomatoes and crispy, salty, smoky bacon. Oh yes! :)

egg salad BLT

What are your favorite quick and cheap recipes? Please share with all of us in the comments!

 

 

 

Farm school brunch and how I was inspired to sign up for a CSA (and you should too!!)

Hi friends! Before I dive into a post about a super special brunch I attended a few weeks ago (as well as provide you with some info on why you should support your local farm by signing up for a CSA – just like I did!), I wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for all the incredible comments and best wishes on my new business venture. Through my private healthy cooking lessons I hope to make Boston a healthier place and I am really thankful for all of you that took the time to say something nice to me and even spread the word. So yeah, thanks!!!

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If you live in the Boston area, you definitely know about Boston Brunchers – a group established by Renee of Eat.Live.Blog that has grown to over 300 local food bloggers. Pretty amazing! And if you don’t live in the area, well you know what it’s all about now… and don’t worry – there  is still some good info for you here (and some drool-worthy food photos and even cute animal pics!) Smile I haven’t been out with Boston Brunchers since a fabulous brunch at The Cottage, but this Farm School brunch was extra special.

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[Pastries from Iggy’s]

What’s a Farm School? Well, I’m glad you asked my friends Winking smile  The Farm School is actually 2 farms located in Athol, MA (about 1.5hrs from Boston) – one providing 2.5-day programs to visiting schools, involving kids on whatever is need on the farm during those days. The kids get the real hands-on farm experience for just a few days and hopefully a new appreciation for fresh produce and humanely raised animals. Most of the food on this farm is grown to just to feed all the visitors (they get about 1,500 children every school year!). The second farm offers a one-year learn to farm program for adult students that want to live on a farm for a year and learn all the ins and outs of becoming a farmer. This farm grows organic produce, meat and eggs sold to CSA members and farmers market. Pretty amazing stuff!!

[Bloggers mingling before we sit down for brunch]

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[Farm fresh eggs]

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[Adorable animals from the farm. Omg I want to die - these are so cute!!]

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[Maple tree planks used as serving plates]

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Our hosts for the day:

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Brunch time!

Peach Bellini from peaches from the farm (I couldn’t say no to that!)

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Pork belly two ways

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Pork schnitzel, adirondack red pototoes, soft boiled eggs with dill holondaise and sauteed spinach which was so sweet (naturally) that it seemed like a completely different species. And can you see how bright yellow this egg yolk is?

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Boston Brunchers brunching Smile

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Last course: maple bread pudding made with Iggy’s brioche bread and Farm Schools eggs and maple syrup

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The food was seriously outstanding! Obviously the recipes were fabulous but I would largely contribute this to the high quality of ingredients. Every bite was incredible but I was especially surprised by the spinach and the potatoes. They seemed so simple but I honestly have never had spinach and potatoes this delicious. Farm School grows 30 kinds of vegetables and 100 varieties. This is one of my favorite benefits of eating locally – you get to experience artisanal produce, varieties of fruits and vegetables that have been mostly lost to mass production.

I left the brunch with a high (it was also an unseasonably warm day out so everyone was extra happy soaking up the sunshine). I’ve been thinking for a long time about signing up for a produce CSA but was too nervous about getting a box of onions or other produce I had no use for. Actually speaking to the farmers and learning about the programs this particular farm supports, as well as literally tasting the difference, made me reconsider. Here are the pros and cons of a produce CSA as I see them.

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to supermarket produce + you pay upfront for the season (this covers seed money and pay for the farmers)
  • Quantities fluctuate depending on the weather and how bountiful the season is
  • Most CSA boxes are pre-packed so someone else decides what you’ll be eating that week.
  • You may get produce you do not enjoy or know what to do with, which may contribute to food waste.
Pros:
  • Your money goes directly to the farmers, cutting out the middle man.
  • You are essentially a small shareholder of the farm for the season, so if the season is especially bountiful, you get to reap the benefits
  • You get to support your local economy and a farm you believe in, in a way that may not be available otherwise (outside of the CSAs, Farm School for example only sells produce at the Belmont farmers market which is not convenient for me).
  • Since the food is grown and distributed locally, it is picked at the peak of its freshness – which is extra delicious and nutritious (compared to imported produce that is picked when it’s still green and ripens in trucks and grocery stores. Green bananas and avocados are my biggest pet peeve ever.)
  • If you buy most of your produce at farmers markets, it should actually be cheaper.
  • You may try new types of produce or varieties of your favorites you’ve never even seen before!
  • Pre-packed boxes add a challenge. This could be a great way to be “forced” to experiment in the kitchen. I’m up for it! :)
I’ve been thinking of taking the plunge for a while, but what really sold me on Farm School was that they actually have the option of picking your own box for the week. I love that! They basically set up a farmers market type stall (specifically for CSA members), and you get to choose your own 10 different veggies for the week. No onions for me! :D I also love that all the produce is organic. I checked other organic farms in the area offering CSAs, and Atlas Farms is cheaper but does not have a pick up location in or near Boston. They do have a stall at the Copley farmers market so I’ll still be able to support them if I need to supplement my loot from Farm School (Sienna Farms is amazing but is in contrast a lot more expensive).
So there you have it. This brunch (which by the way was complementary… obviously, they don’t even offer brunch normally) was incredibly inspiring. I am so happy to have met the people behind my future summer produce and to have had the opportunity to share what they are doing with you!
Hope your week is off to a lovely start!! See you soon, I promise! :)
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