Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Frangipani - Natural Skin Care that Works

I've reviewed a few bath and body lines here but there is one product line that is a personal favorite.  Like any review, I will not accept free product or payment and I don't promote something that I don't personally have in my house and use.  I share because this is what I would share with my family, which now, includes you folks.  I also, would rather promote the "I DID build this" small business owner, especially an Indiana one.

Indianapolis based  Frangipani Body Products  specializes in all-natural skin care and body products and has one many skin care world awards including a 3rd Annual Beauty with a Conscience Award.

When I first saw the products in a local magazine when I was living in Indiana, I didn't know it was an Indy-based company. When I checked out all the positive feedback on Facebook from others with similar ages and skin types, I HAD to order some. The owner and creator of the products, Tracy Land, originally had been making them to heal her own skin, as she battled the skin condition rosacea (which I have as well) then sold it to a few friends while she worked in the Quality Assurance end of IT.

Tracy continued to develop the concept and when her position was eliminated, instead of just picking up an unemployment check, she started refining the products, producing the products and selling to the public, using word of mouth, farmer's markets, trade shows, etc.  I can only imagine how much telephoning, strategy, business planning and legwork that was. The product was a hit and is now carried in a number of stores, including Whole Foods, in addition to being available online.
My skin has done so much better with natural products in the long term.  My skin is very fair and cantankerous on a good day and the rosacea has made my cheeks irritated and red since grade school. Put it this way - kids used to call me "Beet Face" and even as an adult, people were always asking how I got sunburned.  Not anymore!  I love the Frangipani products for what they've done for my rosacea.  They may cost a  bit more than what you can get at the drug store, but conventional products use a LOT of water and fillers to keep production costs down, meaning you use more product for the same effect. Frangipani products are also seriously less in price than most department store lines (you have to pay those 20-year-old supermodels you know), which frankly, did nothing to help my rosacea despite many claims otherwise.

Frangipani products contain only plant-based ingredients, and almost NO water. Only a small amount is needed so the product is quite long lasting which makes it a value.  Compared to what I spent at the Lancome and Clinique and Estee Lauder counters over the years for things that only made my skin redder and more irritated. . . a bargain!

Sure, I could go out and get buffed and abraded and bo-toxed, quick, fake fixes. I prefer a product that heals the skin in the long term, helping it glow from the inside out.

I have no desire to be 20 again, (which is like 2 in dog years). Aging gracefully is wonderful.
The Frangipani productsSo many - cleanser, creams, serums, Shea butter creams that would be perfect for gals OR guys to make work-worn hands feel like velvet, lip balm, all kinds of things.  The skin care selections range from blemish prone skin of a teen to OMG, I remember 8 track tapes! My favorites are the cleanser and the facial serum. I love gel cleansers but they dry my skin.  Cream cleansers remind me of Grandma's Ponds Cold Cream and make me break out if I use every day. The Frangipani cleanser is smooth and very creamy but it lathers just enough to clean and rinses completely, without rubbing,  leaving my face soft without having to irritate it with a washcloth. To exfoliate, there is an exfoliating product that's plant oil based with little jojoba beads that gently get rid of dry skin, as they gently dissolve. I use that in the shower every morning in place of the cleanser.

I'm thinking the facial cleanser might work well for guys for shaving.  The faint coconut and olive oil based scent is very pleasant but NOT girly. Tracy does not use fragrance oils in her Frangipani line, but only essential oils, much gentler on the skin while still smelling wonderful.  
What Rosacea?

The blemish serum is also great.  Even with super dry skin I still was getting acne like breakouts and clogged pores from various sunscreens I am pretty faithful in using. The Blemish Serum is very moisturizing but it doesn't result clog pores at all and it has some essential oils with healing antiseptic properties that are very beneficial to acne-prone skin.  I had found that with many serums I'd get blocked oil glands that left bumps on my face that took forever to go away.  In the morning, the Blemish serum, under the Shea Butter Cream or the wonderfully smelling Regenerating Flower Cream (which I use in the Winter), leaves my skin soft but super smooth and helped clear up those bumps, even if I wear sunscreen or foundation over the top of it. I alternate that with the Protective or Regenerating Serums at night for extra help with dry skin and the rosacea.

I also love the body oil, (you have to try that one) it's rice bran oil based so it soaks right in after bathing avoiding that whole, "Honey I just got out of the shower and moisturized and would love a hug", wherein he complies and you go shooting out of his arms like a watermelon seed and bounce off the walls, ruining the mood). And both the grapefruit and the lavender blends smell incredible but not overpowering

Check the website out (just click on the Frangipani name in purple at the start of the post).  Everything can be shipped promptly and the beautiful amber recyclable glass bottles are carefully packaged so there is no breakage (and trust me on the body oil thing.)

Friday, April 6, 2018

HINT water - Natural or Not?

I have given up on soda pop and have cut way back on fruit juices due to the sugar.  But I have some medically diagnosed kidney issues so drinking lots of pure water is important.

So I was really happy to hear about HINT water which advertises that it contains only water and other natural flavors from non-GMO plants". (that's a direct quote off of the bottle)

Wow, totally natural.  I know some companies advertise "all natural" but there can be a legally broad definition of "all natural" in some cases.  But there it was on the label that it contained only other natural flavors from non-GMO PLANTSAnd they taste great, especially the blackberry and raspberry flavors.

So imagine my chagrin when I read through a posted lawsuit that it is claimed that an independent testing revealed the beverage also contains undisclosed amounts of propylene glycol, a laboratory-made ingredient used in antifreeze that is also used in some food products such as canned frostings, some cake mixes, a popular salad dressing line, and quite a few mass-produced commercial bakery items.  With my kidney issues, I have to totally avoid it as the kidneys will not filter it out if they are not healthy leading to possibly toxic build ups in the body. That's why I so clearly read the labels.  But when an item is labeled as containing ingredients ONLY from plants I think I am safe.

I don't know if the courts will uphold the findings but I'm concerned, given my health history and I'm thankful I found out after only drinking the product 3 months.  Hopefully, there is no permanent damage as that particular solvent  (which does NOT come from plants) is attributable to proximal renal tubular cell injury

Folks, just because it says "natural" don't necessarily believe. If you don't have kidney or liver issues wherein PG would be an issue HINT does taste really good (especially for having ZERO sugar) and for 99% of the population, a little propylene glycol likely won't hurt you.  But for someone like me, it's potentially toxic, and I'm NOT happy with the "only from plants" claim on the label if it turns out to be untrue.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Portabello Mushrooms and Onion

Although I have added extra lean protein (wild fish, and organic lean meat) to replace simple carbs such as white flour and sugar, I'm keeping my diet high in complex carbs like fruits and veggies.

But just steaming some veggies, or worse, getting lazy and opening a can of green beans, gets old.

They're not "low fat" but sauteeing fresh garden veggies in a little seasoned olive oil makes a delicious side dish.   If you don't like garlic, using olive oil seasoned with a teaspoon of aged balsamic vinegar is also good.

I usually serve this with a piece of protein I've marinated in lemon or lime juice or balsamic vinegar then slow cooked.  Why?  All foods -- but especially ones derived from animals -- contain varying levels of compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These compounds are known to cause inflammation and may open the door to faster aging. Cooking -- especially high-heat methods -- increases the formation of AGEs. But now new research suggests that marinating foods in an acidic, low-pH liquid -- like lemon juice or vinegar -- may help slow that formation down significantly. AGEs in beef were cut in half after marinating for an hour -- but shorter amounts of time may help, too.  Marinating your food is one way to minimize AGEs. Another option: Cook over low, moist heat. Boiling, poaching, steaming, and stewing are all great choices.

Sauteed Portabello Mushrooms and Onion (can substitute shallot)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 1/2 tablespoons garlic flavored olive oil

1/4 red onion, cut into chunks

2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced

salt and black pepper to taste

freshly grated Parmesan freshly grated Asiago cheese  (basil garnish optional)

Warm 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic flavored olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions and mushrooms; reduce heat to low, and cook until the mushrooms are soft and blackened and the onions are black around the edges. (Add additional olive oil as needed.) Turn the heat off, drizzle with remaining tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan and Asiago cheeses.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Ever Thought About One of those "Heatlhy" Meal Delivery Programs?

Picking how you wish to eat can be complex and then you have to actually plan, shop for, and prepare your meals. I'm eating a mostly Paleo plan of lean, non-factory farmed organic meat and seafood and a lot of fruits and vegetable.  It's not the "low carb" of Atkins days (that plan just wanted me to take hostages at a Dunkin Donuts), but is modest portions of high quality minimally processed protein and tons of veggies, with the occasional paleo muffin or bread made out of almond or coconut flour.  One of my favorite lunches is a bowl of cauliflower "rice" topped with 3 kinds of bell peppers, onions, water chestnuts, baby spinach and homemade salsa.

I subscribe to the 85/15 plan where I eat clean Paleo 85% of the time  with a LOT of fruits and veggies and have one to two days of "meat free" adding some whole grains, and a little low fat dairy (usually swiss on a veggie sandwich).  Oh, and wine on the weekends, I think that counts as a fruit. :-)  I have seriously cut back on the sugar finding that eating paleo has readjusted my taste buds where I don't crave it all the time. I'm also not eating a ton of meat on the Paleo plan, adding extra nutrition with lots of broccoli, some potatoes, and nut butters and seeds and a great green superfoods shake from
But no matter what your eating style, Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, Low Carb, you still have to put in a few hours each week putting it all together and I'm no stranger to that, shopping and batch cooking (we have two freezers) for the weeks I put in some long days.

So when I heard about a company that would take some of this work away for me. I was happy to try it on a week my husband was on the road for work, and I didn't feel like fussing with cooking for myself.

Kettlebell Kitchen, the customizable meal delivery service that does all the prepping (and thinking!) for you, I had to try it. I liked that you could just buy a few meals, no commitment. But they also have a process where they will help you with your selections and meal plans. For Kettlebell Kitchen, the process starts with a simple and develops a meal plan totally customed for YOU.  I ordered from the a la carte menu though, just to see if I liked the food well enough to do a full meal plan.

They have an easy to use ordering system, and you can leave instructions for the delivery person.
I ordered two meal-sized salads  - both chicken bacon Waldorf, a medium dinner entree of turkey and mashed parsnip with Brussels sprouts, a kale side salad and a breakfast entree of Paleo nut muffins and sliced apple.

They state the food is never frozen, but is super chilled and then delivered to remain cold, shipping twice a week so you get the freshest food possible. It arrived packed well with three very large ice packs to keep the food cold. Two of the salads were directly next to the ice pack, with the meat and roast veggie item on the outside, probably not the best idea

Despite the claim that the food is not frozen, one of the entree salads and the single side salad were indeed frozen on arrival.  That could be from the shipping in direct contact with 3 large ice packs combined with being in a box in a delivery truck in Chiberia when wind chills were down in the 20's. I brought it in immediately on delivery.

Here is the Kale side salad from the website.

Here's mine after it thawed out.

The Kale Side Salad, unfortunately once thawed, was a limp mess.  It went into the composter.  It did have a nice selection of cabbage, carrots, and kale but it was just soggy.

Here is a photo of the Chicken Waldorf salad entree from their website.

Here is a photo of the non-frozen one upon opening.

It only filled half the container, and there was a LOT less protein than in the website picture. 
I pulled the chicken out of the frozen salad and threw the rest in the trash as it was so soggy after thawing out so I could show you the protein content of the salad.  The photo from the website has 25+ pieces of chicken in the entree (and six grapes.) 

Here is the chicken from my salad, on a small salad plate.
That's right 8 small pieces of chicken, not 25+.    I couldn't find any bacon and there was only one grape. Unlike the dinner entrees, there is no "medium" and "large" serving of this entree, so this is the chicken amount for the full priced portion.

That was really disappointing.

I had better hopes for the Mega Muffins. 

Here is a photo from the website.

Here are mine as they arrived.

They were indeed "mega" sized though one was broken in pieces from shipping. They recommend heating.  Heated up it was quite good and very generous with the walnuts.  Cold, it was pretty crumbly and a bit dry. So I'll probably stick with my "grab and go" Paleo muffins I make at home.The sliced apple was also starting to brown and dry out on arrival. It went to the squirrels that live in our Spruce trees

On the plus size, the Turkey Entree with Parsnip Mash was VERY, VERY good, with some high-quality turkey, some mashed root vegetables and some roasted Brussels sprouts with a little side of cranberry sauce.

Here's a picture from the website.

Here's a photo before I popped it in the microwave.
Here it is plated on a regular sized dinner plate.  This was the "medium" serving for $11.95.
They do post clear nutrition on their website but unfortunately do NOT list sodium content, something I'm always wary of in pre-packed food.  But carbs and fat and calories are easy to read and the meat and veggie dinner options have good amounts of protein.

Cost with shipping for my 4 entrees and a side was a little over $60, with the average entree price being around $12. That's too pricey to do on a daily basis for 2 people.  I spend $360 a month on groceries for two doing my own baking and batch cooking with bulk purchases of baking and frozen veggies, buying my organic meats at a locally owned store and not Whole Foods, which is a bit of a drive for me to shop at weekly.

But for a hectic weekend, some "bachelor living",  recovering from an illness or surgery where you don't want to lift a finger for a couple of days or when you are doing some serious training to get ready for an athletic event I'd recommend the meat and veggie meal options from Kettlebell.  It was tasty and high in protein, with the veggies nicely done.  The salad options I'd pass on.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

KNOW foods - The Paleo/Gluten free Verdict is In

I've been cutting back carbs a lot, cutting back on even my einkorn ancient grain pasta, and low sugar fruits, eating more wild protein and lots and lots of veggies and healthy fats (following the plan in the really great book - "31 Day Paleo Diet Kickstart" by Autumn Smith of

( Seriously, their turkey and beef sticks are amazing)

But in reviewing some paleo recipes and gluten free ideas from other websites I found this line of foods that are unique in that their products are. . .(and I quote from their  Know Food's website)

    NO GMOs
    NO Gluten
    NO Grain
    NO Wheat
    NO Soy
    NO Dairy
    NO Peanuts
    NO Yeast
    NO Preservatives
    NO Added Sugar
    NO Trans Fats

They are made with superfoods - chia, flax, coconut, almonds, and egg whites.

So I ordered a few to review. I almost ordered the waffles as they were reviewed as being very good but the serving of 3 small ones as pictured on their website would be almost 600 calories not including butter or syrup. I was looking for items that were both gluten-free and super high in calories per serving.

The products I ordered arrived in Chicago 8 days after ordering (5 days after shipping) and required refrigeration or freezing, but I liked that the packages are resealable so you can have a serving, thaw it out to enjoy and leave the rest in place.

We'll start with the wrap.  The photo on the website made it look burrito sized, and I hoped to use it for an egg and bacon breakfast wrap.  In actuality, they are soft taco sized.  It made for a sensible portion calorie wise but not for a burrito sized wrap.  The taste is fairly bland but it has a nice texture and hand feel to make it a good Paleo-friendly food transport that won't fall apart when loaded up with sandwich material.  70 calories, ZERO saturated fat, 7 grams carbs and only 2 grams of sugar.  I would buy these again.

Next up the donut.  The photo on the website (above) makes it look more "chocolatey" than it is and also shows a chocolate glaze.  There is no glaze, these are plain and more vanilla than chocolate in taste but for the chocolate chips.  The texture is not really that of a donut, but more like a slightly dense cake, a less sweet version, and like other KNOW products, the only flour used is coconut and flax flour. The texture and taste were good and the little mini chocolate chips added a nice sweetness to it. For the price ($1.66 per donut) I'm not sure I'd buy again, but they were tasty and quite filling with the amount of protein they had (12 grams per donut!)

It's not a low-calorie snack though with 200 calories per donut (the dish is a small salad dish so you can see these aren't really big) but they do have ZERO grams of saturated fat.  There are 12 grams of sugar, but it's from apple puree and allulose.  What is that?

Allulose is a pretty new sweetener from the folks that brought you Splenda.  It comes from Mother Nature, derived from fermented corn. Small amounts of the low-calorie sugar are also naturally found in figs, raisins, and maple syrup.

Allulose’s chemical makeup is nearly identical to fructose and glucose (real sugar), but it possesses slightly different hydrogen and oxygen structures. This slight difference allows the sugar substitute to boast just a tenth of the calories of table sugar while maintaining 70 percent of the sweetness.

That sounds great, but there is a bit of a drawback. Since our gut enzymes cannot break down allulose, if you consume it in large quantities it can lead to severe bloating, pain, and gas. Even so, the FDA says allulose is “generally recognized as safe” - sort of like Craiglist Ads from guys named "Leatherface" or online dating.
The Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Yes, it's much bigger than the donut but there's a price for that.  Check out the calories.  Yes, almost 400 calories for ONE cookie.  With 12 grams of saturated fat it also has 42 carbs but only 4 net carbs (total carbs minus sugar alcohols and fiber) which mean there is a LOT of allulose in this baby (its listed as the second ingredient.)  My stomach is a little sensitive to that much sugar alcohol so I'll pass, but it has a  really good taste, just enough chips and a good cookie crunch.  There are two other flavors if you aren't a fan of chocolate (said no one ever). If you are not sensitive to sugar alcohols you may love the cookies.

KNOW has a huge assortment of products including bread crumbs, croutons, waffles, breakfast cereal, etc.  If you are interested in trying, I would order direct from the manufacturer at www.knowfoods.com Since these require refrigeration, buying from third party suppliers might be iffy. Their website also has a store locator (2 stores in Chicago carried the products).

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Paleo Corn-free Cornbread

I love the taste and mouthfeel of buttery cornbread, but corn is a grain, and if I'm going for a paleo version of gluten-free bread. So I tinkered with some grain-free flours, trying to get something that resembled cornbread in mouthfeel and texture with a buttery taste like good cornbread.  I made a couple big batches of this, took it to work for a few to sample, and there was nothing left but crumbs and I was asked to write the recipe out on about a  dozen slips of paper on my lunch break (some just liked it, some have family members with Celiac). Plain or served with some honey, it's a treat and pairs of so nicely with soups and stews.
click to enlarge picture

No, it doesn't taste exactly like cornbread, but if you are simply out of cornmeal or are avoiding all grains it's a tasty substitute.  It's extremely moist and tender with a wonderful buttery flavor. Don't let making Ghee scare you away, it's not hard.  Ghee is basically clarified butter that is cooked a bit longer until the clarified butter is golden and the milk solids at the bottom are toasted, (watch it doesn't burn).   In addition to having a high smoke point which makes it a great replacement for vegetable oils, without the lactose and casein, its' easy to digest for those who can't do dairy and it adds a nutty depth of flavor that's good on so many things (like roasted sweet potatoes).

There is a a recipe/step-by-step tutorial for ghee over here

Gluten Free "Corn" bread

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Almond Flour
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Coconut Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill, slightly larger grind which is great for this recipe)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 large eggs
2 Tablespoons Honey
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup  Ghee (made with a good quality, grass-fed butter) nuked for about 20 seconds to warm it up for blending.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Mix dry ingredients in one medium sized bowl, wet ingredients in another, smaller bowl.  Combine and stir until mixed (mixture will be quite thick).  Place in a pan lined with parchment paper or sprayed with olive oil based non-stick spray and spread mixture in pan (use a knife to smooth the top).

Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.