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Archive for August, 2012

LÄRABAR Giveaway!

I am very excited about announcing my first blog giveaway! LÄRABAR is a company that I absolutely love and respect. They were one of the first companies to send their newest bars for me to sample when I first started this blog. I was so excited when a box of bars arrived in the mail with a personalized note from Annie. One of my favorite things about all Larabars is that when you look at the ingredients, you never find more than nine ingredients in each bar and each bar contains whole foods—ones you know and trust like dates, salt, peanuts, and honey.

LÄRABARs Generosity

I will always remember when I lived in DC, I met a fabulous au pair at church named Jo. from New Zealand. We immediately bonded with our common loves for travel, real food, and the Ellen show, among all other fun things. After Jo returned to NZ, I was excited about a walk her and her sister were participating in called “Sisters Walk for Beautiful” to raise awareness of ‘Obstetric Fistula’ and to collect funds for the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. Jo and her sister walked 430 km or 267.19 miles from Auckland to Cape Reinga! I remember Jo telling me about this atrocity and my mouth dropping to the floor. I didn’t know about this distressing problem that affects 1.5 – 2 million women in Africa. Jo and her sister’s walk represented the long journey tens of thousands of these suffering women have made in an effort to seek help. Early in the training stages for her walk, Jo wrote to Larabar, and Larabar sent a huge donation to her and her sister to refuel and stay energized along their journey. Larabar’s website states, We “supports meaningful community events. We donate to causes that are run by people with a passion for what they do and represent.” Besides being my favorite energy bar on the market, a company That supports worthwhile causes keeps me wanting to purchase its products and share with friends, even if I am not organizing a give away! Larabars are by far the number one travel snack, and I always have one in my purse to give to homeless folks in my city.

Some of my favorite LÄRABAR flavors are….

Peanut butter cookie – Three ingredients: dates, peanuts, and salt =heaven for any peanut butter connoisseur. Other go to flavor suggestions: Lemon or Cappuccino (which actually has fair trade coffee in it!)

Larabar’s newest products are uber and jocalat!

Uber – roasted nut roll & bananas foster – both sweet and salty is my all time quest or attempt of balance in life!

Jocalat – Being a huge chocolate fan, I love the chocolate hazelnut and chocolate coffee bar for a snack when I am craving something sweet. Fair trade certified cocoa is found in this line. Props! Another plus is that the bars contain fiber, and ½ serving of fruit. It is like eating chocolate without guilt!

They’re all fantastic, nutritious, and real food!

GIVEAWAY!

The winner will receive a mixed caddy of 16 LÄRABARs!

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment answering the following question:

Required:

1. How important to you are the ingredients in food products you eat?

2. Have you tried Larabars? If yes, what is your favorite Larabar flavor? Why?

Optional for additional entries:

2. Follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway! “YUMMIENESS ALERT!  I just entered to win a caddy of 16 Larabars, and you can too! http://wp.me/p2qig1-21

4. Follow me on Instagram (@countyourveggies)

I’ll announce a winner next Saturday, September 1, 2012 . Good luck!

Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by Larabar; however, all opinions and stories are my own.

9/1/12 Winner Announcement! Congratulations Allison. Please send me your address at countyourveggies@gmail.com.  

Thank you all for your participation! xx

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a food blog conference called, “The Healthy Living Summit” hosted in my home state of Massachusetts! The weekend was filled with excitement, growth, friendship, surprises, goodies, and fun!

HLS REFLECTION

I went to the HLS with few expectations but walked away quite inspired with some wonderful new bloggers friends. What amazed me most about this conference was that almost everyone I met had many things in common with me. Funny, since I don’t know the last time I was in a room where everyone was interested in the same things I like to talk at great lengths about; my normal crowd of (amazing) friends would tolerate a conversation for a while but then run out of things to say. It was encouraging to have some heart to heart conversations with a few bloggers (like lovely Min).

EXCITEMENT

One of the most exciting things that happened this weekend was meeting two bloggers (Cate and Heather) who live quite close to me and share my love and enthusiasm about the best vegan bakery and juice bar called Wildflour and the fabulous restaurant, Garden Grille.  I think they go there more than I do, although I don’t  know how that is possible!  They told me the exciting news that the owners of Garden Grille have plans to open a tapas restaurant in Federal Hill this fall! I hope we can have a blogger meet-up sometime soon. If not, it seems beyond likely that we will just run into each other at Wildflour with our slight obsession. 🙂

GROWTH

I learned a lot about the latest social media outlets to link my blog and photography.  It was inspiring to hear some of the bloggers talk about how their blogs had taken off and to dream about the fun things I could add to my blog.

FAVORITE SESSION

One of my favorite sessions was put on by one of the conference’s main sponsors, Wild Harvest.  I have learned a lot about this company in the past few months, because they sent me many products to sample and invited me to participate in a fun recipe challenge. What I love about this company is that all their products are organic, and they promote healthy eating and living. It was refreshing to hear the company talk about giving people healthier options in their food choices. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated, and healthy eating can look different for every person. Many people who tend to go to the farmers’ markets and Whole Foods would probably not be familiar with this brand. I loved Wild Harvest’s mission of reaching people where they are and creating affordable, accessible organic and all natural products.  Personally in the health/obesity/childhood nutrition statistics, I think Wild Harvest’s impact in the next few years will be incredibly powerful in the United States. They have an onsite registered dietitian to answer wellness and health related questions, as well as a team of culinary developers who create easy and creative recipes to inspire people to eat well.  By selling products at supermarkets like Shaw’s, they reach a wide audience and give people an opportunity to make small healthy changes in their lives while enjoying products free from artificial ingredients. This approach is extremely hard to find in the average American grocery market with its abundance of processed foods.

ADVICE

The Wild Harvest nutritionist provided me with a simple piece of advice that I think was worth sharing. When creating healthy recipes, the main focus should be on being delicious. This isn’t just great advice for food bloggers, but should pertain to cooking in any setting. Isn’t it neat when you find something totally delicious and nutritious?

GOODIES

Finally, the absolute best treat of the conference was THE SWAG bag! I had so much fun sharing samples and giving away goodies to friends and family yesterday.  It was quite entertaining to see them sample oat and cherry juices. Priceless. Without question we all loved the Dancing Deer Baking Company treats.

Here are a few of the products from my swag bag that I enjoyed:

  • Dancing Deer Baking Companytreats. I love to bake, but Dancing Deer Baking will definitely be a go to item if I am in a rush and want to bring a treat that tastes homemade, has the finest ingredients and nothing artificial.
  • LOVE GROWN Foods Granola – Simple ingredients baked in the oven = Love Grown simple oats of course! This makes an awesome addition to any yogurt and fresh berries. Are you seeing a trend in all the products I love?
  • Driscoll’s Berries – They provided a snack break and berry strainer. A table full of fresh washed berries gets me quite giddy. The strainer is so cute and works well with my kitchen sink for rinsing all fruits and veggies!
  • Five Bamboot-shirt and Mia headband. Bamboo Fabric is so soft and comfortable. I am converted. I was just looking at their website and they have dresses and t-shirts I am interested in ordering
  • HAPPY BABY Organic Superfoods- I didn’t actually try the baby food, but I did happily give it to the family I live with who has a three month old. He isn’t eating solid foods yet, but I am excited about seeing his first solid food being organic with no pesticides, no chemical fertilizers, no genetic modification, and no preservatives! HAPPY BABY Organic Superfoods are a fantastic company and partner with Project Peanut Butter to feed malnourished children in Malawi and Sierra Leone.
  • Reebok Reebok RealFlex Fusion TR shoes and socks! Love the pink and grey color. These will be great for walking around the park and town.

FRIENDSHIP

I have to give a big shout out and credit to my dear friend and blogger extraordinaire Sara.  She was an inspiration in my interest in healthy living and in the founding of “CountYourVeggies.”  Sara is a part of the community of bloggers who write about healthy living. I met Sara long before her blogging days in our freshman year of college. We instantly became best buds and have since walked, talked, and shared our lives together through thick and thin. We don’t now live in the same city, but we manage to keep in touch. Recently, our blogs have been a fun way to keep connected. I am grateful for phone conversations and weekends like this where we can pick up where we left off. It is a privilege and blessing to have Sara as a friend!

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Nat King Cole says it best, “Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You wish that summer could always be here!” 
Well, summer is well under way.  Apologies to my loyal readers, as I took a bit of a blog holiday without notice. This hasn’t stopped me from thinking about all the fabulous treats that summer brings. 

Here are my top five summer staples….

1. Summer Stir-Fry– I am all about the grill in the summertime. Super easy and a bit different every time.  Throw some veggies in the wok or on the grill. Add some protein (I like chicken or tofu). Season. Cook up some brown rice or sweet potatoes, and you have a fabulous meal!

2. Raspberry Lime Rickey  – A New England childhood favorite. So refreshing and a delicious way to cool off. I always ask for soda water. Here is the recipe:

  • 1 lime, room temperature and rolled about to make it release the juices when cut.
  • raspberry syrup- try making your own to avoid red dye!
  • soda water
  • ice

source

3. Seafood – lobster salad, salmon, scrod (oh my!), fresh catch (anything please). It is tradition with my Dad’s family to have a lobster bake on Cape Cod over the fourth of July.

4. Summer Salads

My favorite combination:

  • Salty Sea Feta (Narragansett Creamery)
  • Mixed Greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Red Onion
  • Cucumber
  • Kalamata Olives

Top everything with your favorite dressing or some olive oil. Enjoy!

5. Ice-cream!
It has become a Sunday tradition to go to a friend’s farm in Rhode Island for fellowship and a bring your own grill style meal. After a lot of laughter and several games of Monopoly Deal, we usually find ourselves driving to this adorable farm in Connecticut for homemade ice cream. It not only has homemade ice cream but waffle cones made to order! We certainly enjoy it, and it is worth the trip to CT!

I read somewhere that Massachusetts has more ice cream shops per square mile than any other state! This certainly helps my summer ice cream obsession. Here are some of my favorite ice cream places I find myself rotating amongst….

Peaceful Meadows

Sundae School Shoppe

We- Li-Kit Ice Cream

Heidi’s Hollow Farm

Thomas Sweets

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