Since starting this blog 1.75+ years ago, I keep hoping the constant eating, photography, writing, editing and posting is going to have some sort of pay-off. Ha! Just kidding- we clearly do it because we LOVE the Philly food scene so much, we just want to share it with everyone! But. Free stuff is pretty nice too. Recently, I've received not one but TWO free products, basically just for having a food blog.
First up: a lovely consolation prize from the nice people at Attune Foods. Remember how I blabbed about my version of healthy living in order to enter a contest? Yeah, I didn't win the grand prize- but I did win two free boxes of cereal! It's basically just as good, right?
After running down the UPS truck, I was excited to find a box of Uncle Sam's Strawberry Cereal (and a gluten-free rice cereal that I haven't tried yet). I've seen this around the blog world, but never tried it myself.
It's made from wheat berries that are steamed, rolled, and toasted- super healthy but looks kind of like deeply toasted oatmeal, so not too far "out there" (I'm looking at you, Kashi crunchy fiber twigs). The nutritional stats are pretty insane for cereal- it's difficult to get this much fiber and protein from most other cold, out-of-a-box breakfasts.
However, with the amount of cereal I like to eat (at least a cup?), I was afraid of overloading on fiber, so decided to taste test the new product on one of my favorite summer breakfasts- a smoothie.
In a blender, I mixed:
1/2 frozen banana
1 c. frozen strawberries
1 Tbs. ground flax
1 serving chocolate whey protein
2 c. baby spinach
1/2 c. almond milk
1/2 c. water
Even without a cereal topping, this makes a nutritionally sound and fun to eat meal, but is clearly lacking in the texture department. With a sprinkle of Uncle Sam, every bite had a good amount of crunch with a little added nutty flavor from the toasted wheat.
I've also tried the cereal in a mix with plain Greek yogurt and fresh fruit- it's a great granola substitute with way less sugar and fat. The only thing I didn't like about it was the quantity- only five small "servings" in a box. This certainly wouldn't last me a week, and with two of us in the house, we'd have to buy 2+ boxes in one go.
Our next free item came courtesy of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program. As our one and only sponsor, Foodbuzz sends us promotional offers once in awhile, which we are allowed to sign up for. However, just signing up doesn't give you a guaranteed in- so I was excited when I was delivered a fat packet of coupons to try a new Birds Eye product. As much as we love fresh vegetables, sometimes it's impossible to get our favorites year round, and frozen vegetables are our next best bet. Birds Eye is our go-to brand for easy, pop-in-the-microwave kind of eats- usually broccoli or brussels sprouts as a dinner side. They also make complete meals in a bag, which I've never tried- I like to put together my own meals. However, in a pinch, a healthy frozen meal wouldn't be turned down.
We sampled the Chicken Florentine version (flying all the way to Florida to find it!), but there are a variety of flavors including Sweet and Sour Chicken, Chicken Pot Pie, Chicken Parmesan, and Shrimp Alfredo. We picked the Florentine since it looked like a good dose of veggies- it includes penne, grilled chicken strips, zucchini, squash, spinach, and tomatoes, and is coated in a garlic-cheese sauce.
The overall nutritional stats weren't our favorite- tons of sodium, as expected. However, for the most part the long list of ingredients was fairly neutral (although really, why would you add sugar to this at all?).
The directions were so easy- just empty into a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 7 minutes, stirring halfway. The final contents stirred together to look surprisingly homemade. We split the 3 serving bag in two (really, a cup of this isn't a whole lot for an entire serving) and dug in. Salty for sure, but for a frozen meal, quite delicious. The fresh herbs in the sauce really stood out- strong flavors of basil and oregano, and the vegetables weren't mushy or tasteless. Overall, a winner in our book, although I can't see us purchasing the item frequently on our own.
I now have 100 buy-one-get-one-free coupons, so if anyone is interested, shoot us an email! I may look back on this post later and cringe at the fact that I blogged about cereal and a frozen dinner, but currently I'm just enjoying the perks of blogging!