Foodie Pen Pal Fun: Inbound from Florida

Holy heat wave, batman! How did we get to the end of June? The good news about being at the end of June is that I get to share with you the delightful treats that my pen pal from Florida, Adriana from Foodie Be Fit, sent me. These refreshing treats help me forget the triple digit action outside, so I recommend you go right out to get some of them for yourself, too. This month, it’s hard to pick my absolute favorite treat from the box because they’ve all been so great. Adriana asked me great questions and really did a fantastic job of broadening my horizons. Here is the full bounty, minus one poor sacrifice to the mailing gods.

foodie pen pal box

Not included in the photo was a mango that Adriana sent me from her backyard. How stinkin’ cool is that?! I love that she sent me homegrown produce. It would have gone great in my latest summer salad obsession. If you love mango and avocado, you should definitely check it out. I was out of town when the package arrived, so it pretty much baked in my apartment package pick-up area for several days at 100+ degrees. Poor mango, it just didn’t stand a chance. Fellow Foodie Pen Pal Stacy composed an obituary haiku for my homegrown Florida mango:

Sweet, juicy mango
Austin was unkind to you
The thought is what counts.

In every package, I appreciate snacks that I can take to work, and this package certainly delivered.
Snack Bars
I’ve been noshing on the bars and crackers all week, much to my taste buds’ delight. Lara Bars certainly make the Pen Pal rounds, but I’ve not seen an Über Lara Bar before. Last month, I had a comment conversation with another blogger about how she doesn’t like Lara Bars because she likes to see the ingredients in what she eats, and that can be tricky in a typical Lara Bar. Well, my foodie friends, if that is your stance, then the Über Lara Bar is for you. The fruits and nuts in the bar are larger and more identifiable. There are more ingredients in these, it seems, but I’m okay with that. It was crunchy, sweet, and fruity. I’ve never had a Clif MoJo bar either. I’ve seen them in the store, but never committed. Well, I’m committed now. This was nutty, chocolaty; also, you can see all the ingredients in this as well. It has a fair bit of protein and fiber, which is nice. Plus it is 70% organic which goes a long way for a lot of you.

Lara Bar front

Lara Bar front

Lara Bar Back

Lara Bar back

Clif MoJo Bar

Clif MoJo Bar

These crackers have been a staple in my lunch this week.
Pumpkin Seed and Cheddar Crackers
I’ve only had Dr. Kracker once before, and I wasn’t a huge fan because they were so thick that it sort of gave me a headache eating them. These, however, are not obscenely thick and crunchy. They have a nutty and slightly salty flavor between the roasted pumpkin seeds and the cheddar that is baked on. One cracker sheet is a serving and is pretty healthy. I *might* be eating two sheets now and again…don’t judge. 🙂 They are THAT good. There are a bunch of flavors which gives me lots of exciting choices to try.
Dr. Kracker box
Dr. Kracker varieties

The salad dressing has been good on my salads this week and in my snacks for dipping cucumber. I’ve not had a super ton of Green Goddess dressing before, so it’s pretty new to me. It’s quite herbaceous and lemony. I think it will be excellent with some seafood and pasta, perhaps even together. I’m really looking forward to finding ways to use this. If you have tips or suggestions for me, let me know!
Salad with Green Goddess dressing

Y’all, she sent me the cutest gummy pandas! Her pen pal last month sent them to her, and she has continued the chain of goodness.
Gummy Pandas
These are delightful. I like gummy candy now and again, but really my favorite part of these is the grapefruit part. I was slow to come to love grapefruit, but indeed I have come to love this controversial fruit. These sweet pandas are tangy, but not sour, and somehow I am compelled to eat at least two small handfuls every time I open the bag. I will be sad when they are gone, so hopefully I can find more in my neighborhood. These are also certified organic so you can get excited about that!
Grapefruit Gummies

Lastly, the honey-roasted peanut butter was freshly ground at her farmer’s market which I think is so great.
Farmer's Market Peanut Butter
I also received some flavored, homemade peanut butter in my first pen pal box which was tasty too. This peanut butter has a different texture than my nut butter from Sarah. Sarah’s peanut butter was smooth, and had more flavors added into the butter. This nut butter is crunchy, but not chunky-crunchy like store peanut butter. The nut pieces are plentiful throughout which makes it almost like a paste. It is a thicker-spreading peanut butter with far more peanuts to butter, so to speak. I put it on my breakfast toast and immediately fell in love. I scraped clean the container I brought it to work in and then immediately had a large spoonful when I got home. After all this exposure to non-store bought peanut butter, I will be exploring more fresh, homemade nut butters, for sure.
Chunky Peanut Butter

This month, I sent my box o’ goodies to Alexandra over at Healthy Life, Happy Wife. Go check out what great Texas delights I sent her. The tweet I got when she received the package indicated I did a pretty solid job of selecting goodies. That makes my heart happy. 🙂

Foodie friends, if you are not signed up to be a pen pal yet, then let’s get you on board. Visit Lindsay’s blog (The Lean Green Bean), to get the expanded details from the master organizer. The abridged version is that you sign up before day’s end on July 4th so you can get your pairings from Lindsay on July 5th. Then you have 3 days to contact them, find out their food allergies, preferences, etc., and then with a $15 spending limit, you are off to the grocery store. Ship the tasty treats by the 15th, and wait on your own box of goodies to arrive. If you are a blogger, you post on the last day of the month. If you are a reader, you just sit back, eat, and enjoy. It’s pretty much the best food choice you could make, so just pop on over and sign up already. Seriously. All the cool foodies are doing it.

Happy eating!

The Lean Green Bean
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Foodie Pen Pal Fun – April

The Lean Green Bean

I have a new love. It has replaced what I thought was irreplaceable. This shift in food alliances has happened courtesy of April’s Foodie Pen Pal exchange. This month I was assigned to send a package to Courtney in North Carolina, a high school senior headed to East Carolina Honors College to study Nutrition Science in the fall. She’s quite delightful, and we discovered we had a lot in common including our love for chicken salad. It was super fun to shop for her and send along her very first Foodie Pen Pal package! She also started blogging this month with the April Foodie Pen Pal reveal being her first post. Check out Glitter and Tomatoes to see what she got! I received my box of treats from Laura in New York who, without knowing, sent me some of my most favorite treats ever: organic chocolate peanut butter cups. Cue the angelic music as I lifted not one, but TWO packages of these delectable packages out of the box. We’ll come back to these in just a moment.

In its entirety, my box had many great foodie items in it. Take a gander at all the good stuff, plus this fabulous, pink bubble wrap! I kept that stuff so someone can expect to find that in their package one day. It only makes good sense to recycle! I loved her note with the quote. Because you can’t quite see it, it says, “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” – Luciano Pavarotti

I’ve only seen the mini packages of Justin’s all-natural peanut butter before; this was my first time to encounter a full-sized jar, and I am so humbled that she saw fit to bless me with one. I am excited to use it, but I’m waiting to open it until I’m all finished with my grocery-store brand of peanut butter. Laura, you may have just ruined me on peanut butter for the rest of my life. 🙂 I will be sure to report back. In addition to the peanut butter, I was graced with both a milk chocolate and a dark chocolate set of organic peanut butter cups from Justin’s. I did not tell Laura that peanut butter cups are my most.favorite.candy.ever. How did she know?? Y’all, these peanut butter cups are life-changing. Life-changing. I’ve been a die-hard Reese’s peanut butter cup fan for AGES. I don’t know that I can go back.

There's even a coupon inside for future savings!

These chocolate peanut butter cups are extraordinary. The chocolate is smooth and creamy, without being overly sweet. Similarly, the peanut butter is not overly sweet either. I’ve seen how they make Reese’s on television so I’m aware of how much sugar goes into those nuggets. I eat them, but I always need milk or water or something to rinse my mouth and throat when I’m done because it’s so sweet. Plus, somehow I also gobble them up, almost mindlessly. Not so with Justin’s peanut butter cups. When I first ate one, I was aware it seemed less sweet, but more flavorful. The chocolate flavor comes through more clearly and intensely. The peanut butter flavor is just more peanut-buttery without so much sugar masking the taste. I also only wanted to eat just one cup that day. It was quite sufficient, so I saved the second one for another day. It was just rich enough to meet my taste bud needs without going overboard. Whether this makes sense to you or not, please go find you some of these and try them. I promise you that you won’t be sorry! Reese’s, please consider this your official break-up notification; you will always be second fiddle from here forward.

Saving one for later!

The other item that I’ve tasted so far and thoroughly enjoyed is the Spicy Maple Pepitas! I opened them just after taking a picture to give them a try. My boyfriend and I both tried a small handful, and they elicited the following comments, “Wowser, these are good!” and “Uggabooga, these bite back!” He was right on both counts. Since they are sweet and spicy at the same time, I can eat a helping of them without too much problem until I notice that my nose is starting to run. But since I do love spicy foods, this is just fine by me. I shared some with a few students at work, and they enjoyed the pepitas as well. I’m not sure I would have tried these on my own, so I’m glad Laura sent them my way.

It’s been another successful Foodie Pen Pal month for this TX gal! It is quite delightful getting to know other foodies from around the country, swapping treats and food love. If you are interested in participating, check out the blog of the mastermind behind the project, The Lean Green Bean. Lindsay has all the details you need to sign up and get involved. Just let her know by filling out the form by May 4th. There is a $15 spending limit per package/month, and you send your package out by the 15th, after receiving your match on the 5th. Every month the Pen Pal program gets larger so I encourage you to be a part of the movement sweeping the nation. You know you want to!

You can also check out the blog link-up on Lindsay’s blog to see what other fun packages were sent around this month! Come back and visit here for more tasty recipes and Foodie Pen Pal fun next month. If you subscribe, you won’t miss a thing! See y’all next time and happy eating!

Foodie Pen Pal Fun: February

I love to get fun mail! So often my mailbox is filled with circulars and bills to be paid. It’s a joy and a delight to get mail from friends and family. I don’t get fun mail too often, though, outside of the birthday/Christmas season or wedding/birth announcements. Imagine my excitement, then, when I happened upon the opportunity to be a part of the grand adventure of The Lean Green Bean‘s Foodie Pen Pals! Some might claim coincidence, but I know it was meant to be. 🙂 I followed Lindsay’s Twitter on Saturday morning, read her tweets about the program by noon, and was signed up by the deadline by bedtime. YES, PLEASE! This is certainly my cup of tea! Sign up, make friends, send packages of foodie treats, and receive foodie treats? This is so meant for me! Food and friends?? Do you know me?? Joy! 🙂

Lindsay assigned me to send a package of treats to Carly in North Carolina. I sent her some Tex-Mex SASS sauce and Blanco Valley Farm’s jalapeño salsa mix from the Farmer’s Market, some Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter, Italian seasoning blend from Penzey’s, a few chocolate treats from World Market, and a package of fun cupcake liners. I received a package from Sarah at The Smart Kitchen in Virginia. That Sarah sure knows how to send a package! I’m excited to share my foodie pen pal treats with y’all! Here is everything I got, minus the sweet note she included in the package.

Goodies from Sarah

Sarah asked me who I had a secret celebrity crush on, so I confessed my love for Will Smith. You know it’s true…he is a good-lookin’ man, and funny too! 🙂 She cleverly sent me “Gettin’ ‘Figgy’ Wit It” cookies. They are the most amazing (vegan!) cookies! They have figs, walnuts, and I’m certain cinnamon, too. I’ve never eaten vegan baked goods before so Sarah’s cookies were my introduction into that genre. Honestly, I was a little skeptical, and I’m still a little confused on how you make a delicious cookie like that without any animal products. I ate one immediately upon opening the package, just to see, and then had to sternly tell myself I was not allowed to eat the entire bag that night, even if it was Fat Tuesday. They are THAT good. I kindly shared one last Thursday with a coworker who also found them quite delicious. She, too, was impressed with the vegan nature of the cookie. Seriously, Sarah, how did you do it? Well done, ma’am. Well done.

         

I’ve also been scarfing down this crazy-good cinnamon honey-roasted peanut butter. It seems that nut butter is one of Sarah’s specialties. I’m hoping for a tutorial and the good word that homemade nut butter is not hard to make because this spread is rockin’ my world. Tuesday also happened to be Shrove Tuesday where folks eat pancakes as part of the Fat Tuesday celebrations. Boyfriend and I made pancakes to go with our “breakfast for dinner” on Tuesday, and don’tcha know? Cinnamon honey-roasted peanut butter goes reeeaaallly well on pancakes. Really well. So well that I had it for breakfast the rest of the week. It’s light, cinnamony, creamy, but not without a wee bit of texture. So delightful. Plus, Sarah clearly pays attention to the details with the color coordination of the jar to her blog, her stationary for her note, and her business card. Yep! Girlfriend has a card. I want one for my blog now, too. I do so love good attention to detail on cute little things.

Pancakes with Peanut Butter = GOOD!

All Gone....almost!

I haven’t used the rest of it yet, but I am looking forward to ways to use everything Sarah sent me. That salsa is going to be so good on some fish tacos on next week’s menu, along with just some chips one afternoon for a snack. Honestly, I’m not sure what Biscoff spread is, and checking out the ingredient list has only confirmed for me that it is some kind of spiced nut butter. A Google search result tells me that it’s a peanut-butter-esque spread made from cookies similar to gingersnaps. This makes me excited to try it because I love gingersnaps! I did tell Sarah I was an adventurous eater, as long as it wasn’t connected to mushrooms. I love that these are in little individual packages as well. That’s lovely for taking it in my lunch/breakfast to work. Spices and tea are always good choices for my pantry, so kudos there, friend. I’ll be sure to update you all along the way as the spices, salsa, and Biscoff spread get used. Check back for updates!

How cute is this??

It has been so fun getting to know Sarah through email and over Twitter. I am thankful that she and I were matched for my inaugural foodie pen pal experience. I think it is great that Lindsay thought of this program several months ago, and is willing to coordinate it every month. Thanks, Lindsay! If you are a foodie, blogger or not, and you want to participate, check out this page on Lindsay’s blog that has all the details. It’s low risk and high reward, so I really encourage you to give it a try. Here is a bit of housekeeping from Lindsay if you are interested in participating.
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If you’re interested in participating for March, please send  an email to Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:
-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)
WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. – this is SUPER important so you get on the right list!

You must submit your information by March 4th as pairings will be emailed on March 5th!

***PLEASE NOTE: if you send an email, you WILL GET A RESPONSE within 48 hours. If you don”t….please re-send your email or contact Lindsay via Twitter (@LeanGrnBeanBlog). Last month we had a few emails get lost as spam so we’re trying to avoid that!
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I’ll be sitting March out due to conference travel smack dab in the middle of the shopping/shipping period (boo!), but I’ll be back for April. I’ve been eyeballing all sorts of neat treats to send someone in April though, so get ready, my next pen pal – it’s gonna be great! Stay tuned!

Update:
The Colorado spice blend is SPICY!! I was quite liberal with it on our fish tonight, and it had quite the kick! Thankfully the mango and key lime salsa is not so spicy, so it was a good pairing to bring down the heat. Quite delicious, overall! I’m really looking forward to using the spice on some beef as I think it might stand up a bit differently. I do like spicy foods, though, so this was a great treat in my package!

Foodie Penpals