02 March 2015

Finally Saying "Yes" to Groupon

Since January, it seems I get an Amazon Local and Groupon deal in my inbox nearly every day for mail order meal services and, while I'm always a little tempted to buy, I had thus far withstood that temptation. Mostly by doing the math and then telling myself, "No, this is not really that good of a deal. Surely, I could just do this myself."

Of course, I could. I could go to BJ's or Aldi, buy big bags of frozen vegetable and chicken breasts, cook them, and end up with a fridge stocked with my own "diet" meals. Yes, I could do those things. But I don't. Because it takes a lot of time, motivation, and energy. Currently, I feel I have none of those things.

This soul-suckingly cold winter has killed any motivation I have to leave the house more often than absolutely necessary. Minor, but persistent gynecological issues have me visiting the ob/gyn on a thrice-weekly basis, robbing me of any of the emotional or psychological energy necessary to do much more than get through the day. And why is there so damn much to get through every day? Where does the time go?

A sunlamp and a jumbo size bottle of Xanax, please.

Basically, I'm saying homemade diet meals ain't happening.

And, yet, THERE IS A UK WEDDING IN APRIL. I don't want to be the frumpy, slightly oozy American amongst all that British hotness and elegance. So it's diet, walkies, manicure, pedicure, and waxing time. And if diet means "eating frozen meals out of a big box" then so be it.

Groupon currently has a deal for Personal Trainer Food weight loss meal programs. There are two options -- $99 for $200 toward any meal program or $199 for a 28-day REV! meal program which comes with coaching and shizzle. I went with the $99 option and then bought the two-meals per day plan -- that's basically a frozen fully-cooked portion of chicken or beef product plus a side of vegetables per meal -- because the idea of some perky Mary Sue trying to coach me made me shudder. I'm just not up to that, right now.


There all inclusive plan includes breakfast and two snacks per day, but I know I can manage those on my own as it's easy for me to do those things. Breakfasts are likely to be more of the slow-cooker steel cut oats cooked in almond milk or the egg + egg whites veggie bowls. Snacks will continue to be cashews or pistachios and fat-free Greek yogurts, because I love them. And a 5 oz serving of red wine, multivitamin, fish oil supplement, and vitamins C & D per day because my doctors tell me so.

Anyway, this Groupon link may give you another an extra $25 off if two or more people happen to purchase the Groupon through the link before Wednesday, March 4, at 11:43 AM (EST). Shipping is free (i.e., already included in the cost), which is something I have not seen with other mail order meal plans I have received deals for.

My box will arrive Thursday, so expect an unboxing post. I know! The excitement!

01 March 2015

Curried Cauliflower & Carrot Soup

This unending, bitterly cold winter has left me starved for color -- leading me to run amok in the produce and florist departments of the local grocery stores. Apparently, I was fixated on orange and red this week as I returned home one day with an armful of sunset-orange roses, garnet-red vegetable smoothies, and an orange cauliflower.


Seriously, why eat a plain ol' white cauliflower when you can have an orange one? Also, its label said orange cauliflower has 25% more beta-carotene than the white variety and, as eating fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene may reduce risk of heart disease, I'm all for orange cauliflower.


And then I thought, well, since it's freakin' cold outside and I'm doubtlessly going to turn the cauliflower into soup, why don't I combine it with that other beta-carotene power house, carrots? And what's extra warming on a day spent digging out Death Mountain for the umpty-umpth time? Curry.

So, "Curried Cauliflower & Carrot Soup" was born. It's really good, even if I do say so myself, and will definitely warm up your frozen insides. I use Penzeys Maharajah Style Curry Powder, which is wonderfully fragrant "sweet" mix that adds lots of rich flavor, but not a lot of heat. I figure, if I need more heat, then I'll stir in a little sriracha as the mood moves me at serving time. I frequently eat soup for breakfast, after all, and find flavorful but mild soups work best first thing in the morning. Bring on the heat at lunch time and supper!

I used plain unsweetened almond milk for this recipe, since the folks at the cardiovascular life-style modification clinic are quite keen on non-dairy milks like almond or soy. Obviously, you may use whatever kind of milk you like best.

Curried Cauliflower & Carrot Soup

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped small
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped small
  • 1 tsp curry powder [Penzeys Maharajah Style]
  • 1 large head orange cauliflower, cut into chunks
  • 5 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 6 cups low sodium, low fat chicken broth [Pacific Foods Organic]
  • 1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk [Almond Breeze]

Instructions

  1. In a large French/Dutch oven, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent. Add curry powder and cook, stirring frequently, until it is very fragrant.
  2. Add cauliflower and carrots. Stir to scrape up any browned-to-the-bottom bits and. Add broth. Broil pan to a boil. Reduced to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Using an immersion ("stick") blender, puree until as smooth as you like. Stir in 1 cup of almond milk and cook for an additional minute or until hot. Season as needed with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder.

I say this recipe serves six, but I really mean it serves one hangry woman for two days. What that translates to regular folk is probably six cups.

22 February 2015

Smiley360: Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant Review

About a month ago, I received a free sample kit of ARM & HAMMER™ Truly Radiant™ dental care products. The kit contained:
  • One tube of ARM & HAMMER™ Truly Radiant™ Rejuvenating Toothpaste
  • One Spinbrush™ Truly Radiant™ Deep Clean Manual Toothbrush
  • One bottle of Truly Radiant™ Whitening & Strengthening Fluoride Rinse

Just  that someone went to the effort to box the samples up all pretty-like
& I really like the A&H Truly Radiant packaging colors -- serious & fun at the same time.
As far as samples go, it was far more generous than I expected and I was completely chuffed. I've used Arm & Hammer dental care products before, but I'm not really obsessive about brands and tend to buy what looks most appealing. Still, I have a surprising number of other Arm & Hammer products in my home and I was happy to give these a go.

I really liked the Truly Radiant™ Rejuvenating Toothpaste and Whitening & Strengthening Fluoride Rinse. My mouth felt very clean and ... zesty ... after I'd used them. I wouldn't normally consider a fluoride rinse to be "refreshing," but this one certainly was. Very cool and minty with a flavor that lasted without being overwhelmingly OHMYGODMINT. My teeth also felt surprisingly smooth after using the toothpaste and rinse -- the first few days I used them, I couldn't stop running my tongue along my front teeth, going "Ooooh, so smooth!!" And such shiny teeth, too! It was like all the best bits of going to the dentist.

And my teeth did become noticeably lighter. The packaging says "Whiter smile in just 5 days" and that seemed true. If I were an organized person, I would have taken before and after shots of my teeth ... but I am not, so you'll just have to believe me. Also, after using the products for a month, I would say they had lightened even more. They're not pearly white, but they're not their old tea-stained ivory, either. They're perfectly admirable teeth. I will not be ashamed to flash them in group photos at the brother-in-law's upcoming wedding.

So, yeah, totally recommend the Truly Radiant™ Rejuvenating Toothpaste and Whitening & Strengthening Fluoride Rinse.

The Spinbrush™ Truly Radiant™ Deep Clean Manual Toothbrush ... well, I had some issues with the toothbrush. I'm used to the tiny head of my electric toothbrush and the Spinbrush just felt too big and awkward in my mouth. Granted, I have a tiny mouth (or so sayeth every dental hygienist and dentist who has ever worked on my teeth) so ymmv. The spinning brush head was a cute concept, the bristles were nice and soft, the textured grip was very comfortable to hold, and the built in tongue scraper worked well. If the toothbrush head was just a little smaller then I'd certainly recommend it to folks who prefer manual toothbrushes!

Anyway, it's been a month and I've used up most of the toothpaste and completely run out of the rinse. You know what that means, right? High-ho, to the drugstore I go! Seriously, I never thought I'd feel this enthusiastic about a toothpaste or fluoride rinse.

Disclosure: I received the Truly Radiant™ Rejuvenating Toothpaste, Whitening & Strengthening Fluoride Rinse, and Spinbrush™ Truly Radiant™ Deep Clean Manual Toothbrush as part of my Smiley360 membership in return for this review and post. All opinions are 100% my own and not influenced by compensation.