I must say, this was one of my favorite Foodie Penpal packages I have received yet! This month I was paired with Pamela Reyes from Wilmington, North Carolina and she definitely went ABOVE AND BEYOND!! From asking me great questions, constantly communicating with me, making sure the package arrived safely, including a letter and attaching a page of information for each item, Pamela checked it all off!
The first thing I immediately tried was Nature’s Path Organic Pumpkin -N- Spice granola bars. These were absolutely delicious. I am a big fan of pumpkin so this was right up my alley. I decided to be nice and give one to my mom as well as send one to MY foodie penpal. Although these organic bars only have 3g of protein and 2g of fiber, they are a great source of ala omega- 3. Personally, I don’t think I would purchase them again being that evaporated cane juice is the second ingredient, BUT they definitely were a great treat!
Being that my weakness is dark chocolate, the next two things I opened simultaneously were the dark chocolate bars. My favorite of the two was the Alter Eco Dark Quinoa bar. Pamela explained that it was “along the lines of a Nestle Crunch bar from childhood without all the bad things.” When I was younger I used to LOVE Crunch bars so I was ecstatic to actually try this. I also love quinoa so this seemed like the perfect combo. I must say after breaking off two squares, I was pleasantly surprised. I will definitely purchase this bar in the future. I have never heard of the company Alter Eco so I decided to go on their website. They are actually a fantastic company who supports local farmers and is environmentally responsible while still delivering great product. Something that stood out to me was “Alter Eco is based on the premise that food is fundamental to life- and whole, healthy, delicious food can make life better for the people all over the world. By working directly with the small- scale farmers who grow our quinoa, rice, sugar and chocolate, helping them institute Fair Trade and Organic practices and assisting them in improving both quality of food and quality of life, we’re creating a system that benefits everyone involved.”
Pamela mentioned that she had never tried the Theo Salted Almond dark chocolate bar before, but she did have some of their other chocolates, which were pretty good. I was excited to try this bar because it was actually 70% dark chocolate and I absolutely love almonds, however, I must say after comparing the two bars, I prefer the Alter Eco dark chocolate quinoa bar. This bar was still good, but I could only have it in small doses. e.g. 1 square was more than enough. This bar was gluten free, soy free, kosher and vegan. It was also Organic, Fair for Life and Non-GMO Project certified.
The next treat I tackled was the GO RAW Live Pumpkin bar. I have tried different GO RAW products before and I am definitely a fan! This bar was not to sweet and the whole sprouted pumpkin seeds gave it a hearty crunch while the dates kept it soft and chewy. Pamela sent me two small 100-calorie bars. I absolutely LOVED it and could have finished both of them in one sitting, but I decided to give one to my mom (who is now obsessed)! This bar is composed of only 5 ingredients (win!): sprouted organic pumpkin seeds, sprouted organic flax seeds, organic dates, raw organic agave nectar and celtic sea salt.
I also received samples of Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap. Coincidently, I had picked up two bars the day before I received my package. This has become my new FAVORITE soap. It is made with organic oils and comes in different scents such as almond and tea tree (the ones I picked out) and peppermint and citrus orange (the ones Pamela sent me)!
Pamela sent me the coolest mints I have ever seen. The brand was SEN CHA and they were 100% Natural, Vegan and Gluten/Sugar/Caffeine-Free/Kosher. Fun Fact: 3 mints= 1 cup of green tea. Pamela said these green tea mints were a MUST in her purse and I can truthfully say, they have become a MUST for me too. I absolutely LOVE Green Tea, so these mints were a match made in heaven. I have not seen them in any health food store near me so I decided to go on their website to look for a retailer. The Vitamin Shoppe seems to be a main retailer in my area!
One of the cutest most interesting things Pamela sent me was a collection of different balsamic vinegars from Taste the Olive. This is perfect since I love to use vinegar to dress my salads and cook. She also included little recipe cards as a guide to using them in different ways. The flavors she picked out for me were Wild About Blueberries Balsamic Vinegar, Blushing Peach White Balsamic Vinegar, Cranberry Pear White Balsamic Vinegar, Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar and Go Coconuts White Balsamic Vinegar. I honestly can’t pick out which of these I’m most excited about because they ALL sound AMAZING!!!!!! I cannot wait to use them and perhaps create some of the recipes she included such as Blushing Peach White Balsamic Bellini, Cranberry- Pear Glazed Butternut Squash with Rosemary, Dark Chocolate Balsamic Tiramisu, Berry Balsamic Strawberries and Taste the Olive’s Lime in the Coconut Shrimp.
Last, but certainly not least. Pamela included Rancho Gordo Heirloom beans. I absolutely LOVE beans and I have never heard of cranberry beans. These are one of Pamela’s favorite items and she even suggested I go to their website to find some recipes. I have not opened these yet, but I am planning on making something next week!
I must say Pamela nailed the perfect package! She truly took all the questions I answered and got creative. I absolutely LOVE surprises and I think Pamela did a FABULOUS job surprising me 🙂