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Review: Feel Beautiful With Products From Vitacost.com

Vitacost.com sent me a few of their new products to review for you. I posted about Earnest Eats and now I’ve got some amazing body care products to share with you!

Healthy eating makes us beautiful on the inside and outside. Allergen friendly lotions and soaps make us feel pretty on the outside too! Winking smile

Disclosure of material connection: Vitacost provided me with free samples of these products to review. All opinions expressed here are completely my own.

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Andalou Naturals Clementine Ginger Shower Gel is a glorious shower gel to add to your cleansing routine. It smells just like clementine with a hint of ginger and it lathers easily while rinsing off just as nicely without leaving a soapy film. This is an allergen friendly cleanser, a must for those with sensitive skin, like me. Many commercial cleaners are off limits for me, I typically use Kiss My Face Olive Oil bar soap because it’s ultra gentle and leaves my skin moisturized without irritating it. Andalou Naturals does the same, but it lathers up easier since it’s a gel and smells wonderful, fragranced by natural oils instead of chemicals. It’s also Gluten Free, Cruelty Free, non-GMO, Free of Parabens and Sulfates. It’s important to know that if you need to follow a gluten free diet, your self care products also need to be gluten free. I didn’t know until a few years ago that self care products could contain gluten. Check labels of all products to ensure they are safe for you to use.

As always, please read the ingredients list to ensure you are not allergic to the natural ingredients used to make this product.

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After a refreshing shower, a good lotion can help seal in the moisture – lotion up 2 minutes post bathing on slightly damp skin to lock in moisture. Many lotions on the market are full of chemicals and can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. BWC: Beauty Without Cruelty, is a line of products that is great for sensitive skin, it’s vegan as well as free of parabens and fragrance. It’s also not tested on animals, so it’s ethically produced – a product you can feel good about using!

BWC lotion blends into skin well and is not greasy. Your skin feels moisturized without that greasy, wait to get dressed feeling. I like to use it at night as well to lock in moisture and replenish my skin on especially dry days. On the bottle, there is a recommendation to add 12 drops of your favorite essential oil to 2 ounces of the lotion. I think this is a great idea if you have a favorite essential oil; suggested oils are lavender, sandalwood, rose, or geranium.

As always, please read the ingredients list to ensure you are not allergic to the natural ingredients used to make this product.

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Feeling beautiful on the outside sometimes means freshening up breath when it feels a little stale. If you’ve got fresh parsley or mint leaves to chew those are great options. They are both antibacterial and antimicrobial to freshen breath. I don’t often carry those herbs in my purse so Vitacare is the perfect option!

I stopped using gum regularly since most of them are made with artificial sweeteners and I’ve made a commitment to avoid those. Vitacare uses Xylitol, a more natural sugar alcohol, which has also been proven to prevent cavities. Too much xylitol can cause digestive upset, a few pieces of gum in moderation should not cause an upset. Vitacare gum also has the added benefit of a few vitamins per 2 piece serving: 20%DV of Vitamins A, C, D, E.

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What are your favorite natural products?

Thank you again Vitacost.com, I’m honored you selected me to sample and review these amazing products!

Eat Well At Wicked Awesome Snackbar

I have to admit I love the name of this place, Wicked Awesome Snackbar! Being from the Northeast, I grew up saying wicked awesome or wicked cool. I believe the roots of those sayings are from Boston, but they somehow made it to my small upstate NY community.

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If you are out and about 441 & Glades in West Boca, you have to stop in for some amazing food for lunch or dinner! My husband and I stopped there for lunch on a Saturday afternoon to replenish and take a quick break from our adventures. There is a unique selection of house made salads, sandwiches, pizzettes, and meatballs(?). I highly recommend The Leftover, which originates as a sandwich on the menu, but I ordered it as a salad. My husband ordered The Leftover sandwich and was equally delighted with his choice. The turkey is roasted in house, topped with bacon and avocado, served with house made cranberry relish over a bed of organic and greens with a side of dressing. This dish really blew us both away!! The turkey meat was succulent, juicy, and incredible paired with avocado and cranberry relish – a perfect marriage of flavors.

I also want to compliment Wicked Awesome Snackbar for serving hormone free meats and organic fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. Yes it can be done. The lunch portions were just right too, we were both happily satisfied.

Most of their dishes are tapas, which is a great idea, because you will want to try multiple items on the menu. They also make their own breads, cookies and cakes. I spotted a whoopie pie on the counter, how often do you see one of those! My husband enjoyed the fresh baked brioche bread for his sandwich. If you are into craft beer, you will be pleasantly surprised by their large selection, including local Florida microbrews. All of their beers are currently served in bottles.

The staff is very friendly and accommodating. I told them I am allergic to gluten and dairy and was served a wonderful meal to meet my needs and was absolutely delicious!

Wicked Awesome Snackbar: http://wickedawesomesnackbar.com/

20642 S State Road 7 (441) Glades and 441, store front Facing 441

Boca Raton, FL 33498

561-883-3200

A Memorable Evening At The Capital Grille

The Capital Grille is well known for their high quality food, wine, and wonderful service. For my husband’s upcoming birthday I wanted to take him somewhere very special and when our friends raved about The Capital Grille it was set that we would go there. We checked out their menu online and I called to make reservations. They asked if it was a special occasion and I said yes, my husband’s birthday. It must be common that people go for a special occasion and now we understand exactly why. They told me for birthdays they offer a complimentary flourless chocolate espresso cake, perfect!

The menu looked great to me, but I wanted to make sure there were gluten free and dairy free options, it’s hard to tell when it comes to sauces and preparation methods aren’t always explicit about ingredients. I filled out a contact form on their website with my concerns and they sent me an e-mail from the head chef the very next day. They explained how they would keep everything separate to avoid contamination as much as possible. They gave me a list of gluten free foods by appetizer, salad, entrée, and dessert selection. I was so pleased by their response and was confident we could dine there worry free.

Below is what they wrote:

Dear Mrs. Higgins:
Thank you for taking the time to contact us and for your interest in The Capital Grille.  Please notify the Chef or a manager upon arrival of your food allergies and we will use new tongs and pans to prepare your food and take extra steps to keep your food away from items with gluten.  While we do have flour, dairy, soy, and corn in our kitchens, and as such, cannot guarantee an absolutely allergen free experience, the items listed below are made from recipes that do not include gluten.
APPETIZERS
– Wagyu Carpaccio
– Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella ordered without croutons
– Oysters on the half shell
– Shrimp Cocktail
– Cold Shellfish Platter
SALADS
– Caesar Salad ordered without croutons
– Garden Salad ordered without dressing
– The Wedge Salad
– Spinach Salad
SIDES
-Roasted Crimini, Portabella, Shiitake, Oyster Mushrooms
-Baked Potatos are typically available upon request
-Fresh Asparagus with Hollandaise
-Sams Mashed Potatoes
ENTREES
– Any steak ordered without sauce
– Lamb Chops without Cherry Mostarda
– Fresh Lobster
– Fresh Seared Salmon fillet ordered without citrus glaze
– Fresh Swordfish with lemon shallot relish
– Sesame Seared Tuna ordered
– Roasted Chicken
DESSERT
Crème Brulee
– Fresh Berries with Vanilla Cream
– Sorbet
– Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake
-Handcrafted Ice Cream ordered without the biscotti
We look forward to serving you. Please feel free to contact me and I would be happy to further customize a meal that suits your needs.
Sincerely,
Jim Nuetzi
Corporate Executive Chef
The Capital Grille
407-245-5199

We were immediately seated when we arrived and they had a birthday card and metallic confetti on the table waiting for us. A printed gluten free menu was waiting for me and we were offered a complimentary Champagne toast to start off the evening. Thank you! The server was very helpful and let us know they could accommodate all of our needs. We asked a few questions and took our time ordering a bottle of wine. An outstanding selection with several different types of wines and wines by country and regions. We selected a Mark West Pinot Noir which was an excellent choice.

Dining at The Capital Grille was an experience similar to what we remember from our vacation in Paris a few years ago. There was no rush to order, the evening was relaxing, and you never feel rushed by any means. This is how dining is really meant to be. Turning tables is not the point at this establishment, creating a memorable experience is the whole intention, and that’s exactly what they did for us.

My husband ordered a cup of the French Onion soup to start which was filled with rich caramelized onions, draped by a blanket of bubbled up broiled cheese on top and the signature piece of bread at the bottom of the cup. He was delighted! We were served bread at the table with butter, my husband enjoyed a few slices of what looked like focaccia bread with soft butter.

I ordered the Filet Oscar without the sauce Béarnaise Sauce. My husband ordered the special of the evening, Filet with Butter Poached Lobster. We also ordered half portions of the sides, Sautéed Spinach cooked with olive oil and whole roasted garlic cloves(yum!) and Au Gratin Potatoes. The server let us know we could place half orders of the sides since the portions are large and it was just the two of us. This worked well as my husband had the Au Gratin Potatoes to himself, since they are filled with cheese and topped with bread crumbs. He said they were the best he ever had! I remember eating Betty Crocker au gratin potatoes from the box when I was younger, these looked absolutely delicious – no comparison.

The filets were cooked perfectly, medium rare, they were lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, nothing more was needed. A good quality piece of meat needs nothing more than a little S+P, quite amazing! The crab meat on top, tender and moist chunks, quite excellent!

We just had to save room for dessert so a take home box for dinner was needed. Dessert arrived with a lit candle and the server took our picture, another complimentary offering! We also each had a single shot espresso that went perfectly with the flourless chocolate espresso cake. The cake was moist with a rich chocolate espresso flavor, not overpowering by any means, the flavors were just right.

The evening was wonderful, we could not have wanted for anything more. My only request is to go back for my birthday in September!

The Capital Grille

Boca Raton Town Center Mall

6000 Glades Road

Boca Raton, FL 33431

561.368.1077

Turkey Stew

Crockpot to the rescue with this delicious homemade meal I call turkey stew.

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These are two turkey thighs, I prefer them over cooking with chicken thighs. These do well when cooked for 10 hrs.

Ingredients:

2 turkey thighs, about 2#

4 small red potatoes

1 cup baby carrots or two carrots cut into 2 inch pieces

1 cup celery, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 medium onion, cut into semi-circles

spices: sea salt, paprika, black pepper, oregano

Method:

1. Peel and cut onion into semi-circle pieces. Place in bottom of crockpot.

2. Rinse well and cut potatoes in half, then half again.

3. Rinse carrots and celery, baby carrots can be tossed right into pot, if using whole carrots, cut carrots and celery sticks into 2 inch pieces.

4. Toss all veggies in crockpot.

5. Remove turkey thighs from packaging and place on top of veggies.

6. Sprinkle on sea salt, paprika, black pepper, and oregano. Feel free to use your favorite spices.

7. Cover and set to Low, cook for 8-10 hours. I typically cook for 10hrs and it comes out great!

8. Pull apart turkey and places meat and veggies in serving bowl.

9. Enjoy!

Dinner is ready in about 10 minutes when you get home, what could be better than that?

Serve with a green salad for some crunch!

Time Saving Tip: Prep and fill your crockpot with ingredients the night before and put into fridge, then you can just pop into crockpot heater, set to Low and head out the door.

Do You Suffer From Brain Fog?

Do you ever get a major case of brain fog and just can’t seem to concentrate or complete a thought? Well there could be a specific reason this occurs and for me the answer was gluten. Yes, gluten! I remember getting to work in the mornings and not being able to concentrate for what seemed like a couple of hours. I used to blame it on what I was working on, perhaps that was a small part of it, but after eliminating gluten from my diet, it all became clear! The actual reason for my chronic brain fog was gluten.

After being off gluten for quite some time now, I did an experiment on myself. I had some cereal made with wheat one afternoon, and the very next morning, yep it was back again…Brain Fog! We often link gluten intolerance to stomach issues, but it can and does affect our brains as well. Some people get moody, others can’t seem to think straight, some get chronic cravings, migraines, headaches. There are several hidden ways gluten affects our bodies. The list below are some symptoms and there are several more. Click here for more extensive information.

  • depression
  • migraines and headaches
  • adrenal fatigue
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Autism
  • sinus problems
  • halitosis
  • mouth ulcers
  • gastrointestinal upset, including ulcers

Most people are fine and can consume gluten, which is a good thing, because foods like wheat, barley, rye, and oats (which contain gluten due to contamination, but you can find gluten free oats) are very nutritious. If you can tolerate gluten, then enjoy gluten containing foods and all of their benefits. If you suspect you may be intolerant, allergic, or possibly have celiac disease, try an elimination diet. Remove gluten from your diet for 2 weeks and see how you feel. You want to first be aware of all the places gluten can exist, including in soy sauce, cereal, bread, soups, cookies, most baked goods, pasta, bottled sauces, crackers.

Many products are now labeled gluten free so you know, but not all will tell you. It’s best to stick to the basics: nuts/seeds, dairy, eggs, fruit, veggies, meat, beans, lentils do not contain gluten, however, processed forms of all these foods may contain gluten. Gluten free grains are as follows: rice, wild rice, quinoa, corn, millet, amaranth. You can find gluten free cereals, crackers, pasta, and bread made of these gluten free grains as well.

If you found this article helpful, learned something new or have info to share, please comment below Smile

Helpful resources:

http://www.celiac.com/

http://celiac.org/

http://www.celiaccentral.org/Celiac-Disease/21/