Cut out unnecessary calories and sugars with SodaStream

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA As a mom I try to make sure that my children make “better for you” choices when it comes to snacking and eating. I do my best to make healthy meals and provide my children with nutritious snack options such as chickpeas, baby carrots, sliced cucumbers and plenty of fruits. I also know that kids will be kids and sometimes they want to indulge in “junk” foods. I’m OK with that providing it’s done in moderation and not every day. One junk food (actually beverage) that we rarely ever have in our home is soda. Soda is basically liquid sugar and have no nutritional value whatsoever. We are OK with the kids having soda at a friend’s house or if we happen to go out to eat. Other than that soda is a “no-no” in our home. It’s not that we don’t like soda – we do! It’s just that I know if there is soda in the house all of us (me and my husband included) will drink it mindlessly and before you know it that 2 liter bottle is gone in just a few hours. We know a lot of families that keep their fridge well stocked with a variety of sodas and are totally OK with their kids drinking that instead of a glass of water or unsweetened ice tea. I am not one to judge but that is not for me or my family. This is why I love the SodaStream. Have you heard of it before? SodaStream System The SodaStream is a soda making machine. The base of the soda is water from your own home. That’s right – soda made out of water! The SodaStream is so simple to use that even children can produce soda in a matter of minutes. This is how you use it.

  1. Add cold water to the fill line of the soda bottle
  2. Insert the soda bottle into the SodaStream
  3. Pump down on the top 2-3 times for a second or two each time to carbonate the water
  4. Remove the soda bottle from the SodaStream
  5. Add in the flavoring
  6. Pour in a glass and enjoy!

IT’S THAT EASY! Check out this video that shows you just how easy it is.

  SodaStream has many different flavor options to choose from based on popular soda flavors including;

  • Cola
  • Lemon-Lime
  • Orange
  • Root Beer
  • Ginger Ale
  • Orange Mango
  • Diet Pink Grapefruit
  • Pineapple-Grapefruit

They also carry specialty flavors like;

  • Country Time
  • Crystal Light
  • Ocean Spray
  • Kool Aid
  • V8 Splash

Some of the flavors are available in “diet” versions too. We’re tried a few flavors and so far we are pleased. Dr. Pete is my personal favorite. I know my son liked the root beer. You might think like I thought at first – you are basically adding sugary syrup flavoring into the water so how can that make it better than soda? The flavoring for the SodaStream has less calories and sugar than other soda brands. You can also adjust the flavoring to your liking (make it more sweet or less sweet) if you want. Here are a few comparisons. SodaStream calories and sugar As you can see the SodaStream sodas contain a lot less calories than regular sodas and considerably less sugars per serving. You can even use it just to carbonate the water and make your own seltzer water. Using the SodaStream to make soda is also better for the environment. Instead of having to dispose of plastic soda bottles you simply reuse the bottle that comes with the SodaStream again and again. It’s easy to clean out and it comes with a screw cap to keep it from spilling and the soda from going “flat”. The SodaStream is also convenient. You can make soda anytime you want – day or night. Sometimes my husband likes to have some chips and soda while watching a football game. Since I try not to keep soda and chips in our house if he has a craving for them he has to head out to the grocery store to get them. Often his craving hits at night when he will not leave the house and miss a game. With SodaStream he can make soda anytime the moods hits (as long as he has the flavoring he wants). SodaStream is also more convenient because you don’t have to lug a lot of soda from the store into your home and the flavoring takes up very little space in your kitchen pantry.

SodaStream 3

SodaStream with bottle full of cold water.

SodaStream 4

After a few pushes on top the water is now carbonated.

SodaStream 6

Adding one of the many flavors (available in different forms)

SodaStream 7

In minutes you have freshly made soda with less sugar and calories.

As someone who lives on the top floor (with six flights of stairs and no elevators) and in a condo no bigger than a “shoe box” I can appreciate not having to lug groceries up the stairs and not take up much space in our already over crowded condo. Honestly the only “downside” to the SodaStream is the carb0nators (the canisters that add the carbonation to the water). You cannot dispose of them. You must turn them into a retailer that takes exchanges of the carbonators. Depending on where you live the retailers may or may not be easy to locate. You can purchase spared carbonators online but you cannot dispose of the empty ones without turning them in to an authorized dealer. That might be a bit of an inconvenience for some people. If you would like to learn more about SodaStream and where to purchase them, as well as the variety of flavors, visit www.SodaStreamUSA.com. You can also make purchases on the website. SodaStream can be found on the various social media sites too. SodaStream would make a great gift for a college student, soda fan, or someone who is looking to cut out extra sugars and calories from their diets. LOGO Kimberly *I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Enjoyed grilled food year round with T-Fal OptiGrill (giveaway ends 9/6/14)


TFal OptiGrill Giveaway

Summer is coming to a close. It’s time to squeeze out as much summer fun as you possibly can.

My family and I never had a chance to get to the beach. We’d go this coming weekend but it’s Labor Day weekend and the beach is the last place you want to go – especially if you don’t like crowds and traffic.

Although I am not a fan of the heat and humidity there are a few things I am going to miss about the summer – sitting on our balcony and watching the Fireflies/Lightening Bugs fly by, doing fun things with my family, enjoying the beautiful flowers that are so plentiful this time of year, and barbecues. Oh how we’re going to miss all the yummy summer foods like barbecued burgers, steak and chicken.

We are  not allowed a barbecue where we live (as per the Fire Marshall), unless we keep our grills 200 feet from the building (we live in a condo). That is not possible. We had to give up having a grill many years ago. I missed my grill too- that is until now.

I received to review the T-Fal OptiGrill. I’ve had similar grills before but they failed to impress me. Don’t get me wrong, they did what they were supposed to do but I found things about them I didn’t like such as hard to clean and having to “guesstimate” when the meat was cooked just the way we like it.

The T-Fal OptiGrill blows all other indoor grills away!

Sensor Cooking

The T-Fal OptiGrill has “precision grilling technology” which helps to grill your favorite foods just the way you like it ever time.

My husband likes everything well done. If he so much sees any pink he won’t eat it. He’s afraid of eating food that was not cooked well enough and getting sick from it. Prior to getting married I used to enjoy my meats medium-rare. Now I eat my meats well done too for safety reasons.

With the other grills we had we had to try and guess when the meat was fully cooked, often removing it from the grill and cutting into it just to make sure. That is not necessary with the T-Fal OptiGrill. Simply place your meat on the grill and wait for the sensor light to tell you when your meat it cooked just the way you like it.


The T-Fal OptiGrill is super easy to use. There are dedicated buttons you can select to let the grill know what kind of food you are cooking (Burgers, Chicken, Sandwiches, Sausage, Chops, Fish).

You can even grill meats that are straight from your freezer (not defrosted) which is great for people like me who often forget to take something out for dinner.

Veggie Burger (Left) and Pork Burger (Right) frozen straight from the freezer.

Veggie Burger (Left) and Pork Burger (Right) frozen straight from the freezer.

I made a pork burger and a veggie burger for my kids for lunch one day that were frozen. In no time my kids were enjoying their burgers for lunch.

The T-Fal OptiGrill has sensors that let you know the cooked state the meat is in – rare, medium, well done. You can tell by looking at the color of the lighted button on the grill. There is a guide that explains the different colors too. It’s literally “fool proof” grilling.

The big center area lights up and changes colors to indicate how the meat is cooked.

The big center area lights up and changes colors to indicate how the meat is cooked.

The sensors in the T-Fal OptiGrill can sense the thickness of the meat which helps to regular the temperature and know what to cook the meat at to reach your optimum grilled results.

Here is the T-Fal OptiGrill with the light a bright yellow which indicates that the meat was still rare. When it’s well done the light is a deep, bright red.


The grill also has a drip pan so fat can drip away from the meat helping to make the meal healthier for you. After all, no one wants to eat something that has been sitting in it’s own fat and grease.

In the above photo you can see some of the fat and grease dripping down from the grill into the pan.

So far everything we have made has turned out great including pork burgers, veggie burgers and regular hamburgers. The grill also makes grilled cheese sandwiches in mere minutes. I was shocked at how quickly the sandwich was cooked. The cheese was melted all the way through and the bread even had some neat grill marks on it.

Burgers 2

Pork Burger (Left) and Veggie Burger (Right)

Pork Burger (Left) and Veggie Burger (Right)

One of the things I disliked about similar grills is the clean up. I hated to clean them! Cleaning the T-Fal OptiGrill is so easy. Simply remove the drip pan and both heating plates (when cooled) and hand wash or toss in the dishwasher. Because the grill plates are coated in T-Fal non-stick coating nothing sticks to it.

I also like how easy it is to remove the plates with just a press of a button. They pop back in easy too.

Clean Up

We love this grill and have used it several times. I have yet to try grilled veggies on it but that is something I am planning on doing.

Now my family and I can enjoy grilled foods year round thanks to the T-Fal OptiGrill.

If you would like more information visit www.optigrill.t-falusa.com. The T-Fal OptiGrill can be purchased at many retail stores across the country including Walmart, Target, Macys and JCPenney to name a few.

Be sure to check out T-Fal OptiGrill on Facebook too.

T-Fall OptiGrill Giveaway

One lucky reader is going to win their very own T-Fal OptiGrill! How awesome is that?

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on September 6, 2014 at 11:59 PM (EST). The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via e-mail and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please comment on this post and tell me what types of foods would you like to cook in the T-Fal OptiGrill if you were the lucky winner?

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries wont’ qualify (I do check). Extra entries are optional.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*I received a free product sample to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and no influenced in any way. 

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Healthy and “FIT” Snack Options



It’s back to school time!

My kids go back to school after Labor Day. We’re not 100% ready to go. We still have a few more school supplies to purchase before the “big day”.

Our daughter is a senior this year. The other day she said to me “This year will be my very last first day of school”. Ugh! That made me want to cry! It’s hard to accept that fact, especially because her very first day of school ever is still somewhat fresh in my mind. In fact we stumbled across a photo of her very first day of school not too long ago.

Last year out son didn’t eat lunch at school. He’s not a fan of school lunches to begin with (who is?). He also didn’t want to lug his lunch around with him all day (he didn’t like going to his locker because it was on the other side of the school). That meant that he didn’t eat all day so by the time he got home he was famished and would eat anything and everything he saw.

I want to avoid his binge eating when he gets home this year. He put on a lot of weight over the summer. We’re hoping when he goes back to school and he’s not home all day to pick at things in the kitchen that he’ll lose the summer weight he gained.

We’ve already started to bring less junk foods in our home. We don’t keep a lot of junk in our home. My kids are allowed ice cream and chips – within MODERATION. Moderation is what my son doesn’t take to heart.

I try and make up small containers of snack foods so that he knows when to stop. There is also plenty of fresh fruits and veggies on our kitchen at all times. He eats them too.

There is a great new snack option available that he loves. I need to pick up more before school starts. It’s called FIT. FIT is a popcorn snack from the popcorn makers Popcorn, Indiana.

FIT Popcorn Indiana

FIT popcorn is…

  • All Natural
  • Gluten FREE
  • Whole Grain
  • Non-GMO Corn
  • Has Zero Trans Fat

The more I learn about GMO’s and Gluten the more I worry about the things my family consumes. I’m happy that FIT popcorn is a better for your snack option – even better then most other popcorn brands.

FIT is available in yummy varieties like Sea Salt, Olive Oil, Real Butter and Parmesan & Herb.

FIT popcorn also contains 40 calories or less per serving (1 cup). Popcorn is already a low fat, low calorie treat providing that it’s not covered in globs of butter, heavy toppings (like chocolate) or cooked in grease.

FIT is available in individual snack size bags. This is what I want to pick up for my son. It’s something he could tuck inside his backpack and take to school with him to snack on and he can enjoy a bag when he gets home from school.

Popcorn Indiana Variety

My family and I tried out a few of the flavors and they were a hit with my kids and even my picky husband. I know he would take the snack size FIT popcorn to work with him for a snack too. Everyone in my home loves popcorn.

FIT is currently available at select Safeway and Bed, Bath & Beyond stores. The larger bags are available online at the Popcorn, Indiana website.

Popcorn, Indiana make other varieties such as Sriracha (I found this to be too hot and spicy for me but my kids liked it), Kettle Corn, Caramel, Cinnamon Sugar and their unique Chicago Style with is a combination of cheddar cheese popcorn and caramel. The combination might sound a little gross to some people but we’ve tried it and we love it. The flavors actually go very well together. They even make something called Chip’ins.

Popcorn, Indiana popcorn is available in a variety of sizes too from their snack size bags to their huge 23 ounce (over a pound!) bags.

For more information visit www.PopcornIndiana.com. You can also check out the brand on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterst (links found on their home page).

Have you ever tried Popcorn, Indiana popcorn? If so, do you have a favorite flavor?



*I received free product samples in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Make Memories Year Round with Candy Cottage


Candy Cottage Logo

I can’t believe the summer is just about over. Not only is it back to school time but the stores are also displaying Halloween decorations and candy.

I happen to love Autumn. Not only is the weather cooler and the outdoors comes alive in an array of beautiful colors, but it’s also the start of the holiday season – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas (Hanukkah) and New Years.

I love to decorate for the holidays. I also love to do holiday related things with my family, such as decorate the Christmas, baking cookies and decorating gingerbread houses.

Decorating gingerbread houses is a great family activity, just like decorating Easter eggs. I have never made my own gingerbread house. I’ve always used kits where the house is pre-baked, you just have to assemble and decorate it. My family has also made mini-houses out of graham crackers.

FYI… Marshmallow Fluff makes great “glue” to hold house pieces together. :-)

Imagine making gingerbread houses for other holidays. How would you decorate an Easter house? Or how about a spooky Halloween house? Perhaps you could make a tropical house for summer. The possibilities are endless.

I think one of the reasons why more people don’t enjoy making gingerbread houses is because they are not easy to make, bake and assemble. What if making one was as easy as 1-2-3, would you make the houses more often and perhaps year round?

I received to review a fabulous product called Candy Cottage. It’s one of those products that makes you wonder why no one thought of it sooner.

Candy Cottage is a plastic house that assembles in about a minute or two. There are four walls, a roof and a base. Once assembled all you need to do is decorate it.

Country Cottage

It’s hard to tell from the photo but it’s a decent size house. It’s made out of plastic.

Once assembled you simply need to spread frosting (or what ever you commonly use) on the house then decorate it with candy, cereal, crackers or whatever comes to mind.

My kids and I made one using watermelon flavored frosting because it was colored green and my kids wanted a green house. You can use any frosting you want (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, store bought, home made…).

The messy part (as with any gingerbread house) is getting the frosting on. Once frosted you can begin decorating.


I picked up a variety of candy for the house. I tried to buy things I thought my kids WOULDN’T eat, but it turns out the liked it all. That is usually the problem when we make houses – the kids eat the candy before we finish. LOL!

I lucked out and found some gummy flowers which I thought were perfect for this summer-time home.

You can find inexpensive candies at your local dollar store. Or you can stock up on after holiday sales.

Here is our finished product.


I had wanted to make another house but it’s been crazy between trying to squeeze as much summer as we can into the final days of the season, getting the kids ready for back to school and some other things.

My family is planning on making a Halloween house. I’ve already been checking out Halloween candy to see what we can use. I’d like to find something “spooky”. I was thinking marshmallow PEEP ghosts (have one pop out of the chimney and one coming out of a window) and maybe some gummy spiders if I can find some. For that house I’ll use a dark chocolate frosting so I can make it dark and creepy. I would love to get those Candy Corn Pumpkins to put around the house too.

Candy Cottage can be enjoyed year round. Use it to celebrate the holidays, seasons, a birthday, wedding or even “just because”. It’s a great activity the entire family can do together or you can do it with your child/grandchild for some fun bonding time.

Here are some great ideas from the Candy Cottage website.

House ideas

How adorable are these houses? I love the “Crab Shack” one. That would be fun for a backyard barbecue. The pink one (pictured above) is a castle (the top part was cut off in the photo). You can see the entire house on the Candy Cottage website.

The house is pretty sturdy and can handle a lot of candy.

I love that it has a base. Not only does it add to it’s sturdiness but it also serves as a platter/tray so you don’t need anything to put it on.

Candy Cottage comes with a idea booklet too.

The Candy Cottage can be used over and over and over again. It washes off well. All you need to do is wash it, dry it off and put it back in it’s box for the next time.

Here’s ours after we disassembled it (removed the candy, washed off the frosting). Once it dried I put it back in the box.

Candy Cottage washed

Candy Cottage sells for $29.99. It can be purchased online or at several retail locations around the country (there is a store locator on the website).

Candy Cottage would make a great gift or rainy (or snowy) day activity.

For more information visit www.CandyCottage.com. They even sell party packs where you can buy a 4-pack of mini houses for party guests to decorate and keep (they make great party favors!). Party packs are only $19.99.

For inspriation be sure to check out the Candy Cottage Facebook page.

What do you think about Candy Cottage? Are you inspired to create your own one-of-a-king house?

Mini Cottage - Part of the Party Pack.

Mini Cottage – Part of the Party Pack.


*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinion expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Amazing new flavors from Talenti Gelato


Talenti Gelato

I am a big fan of Talenti Gelato. I was first introduced to the brand a few years ago and I have been in love ever since.

Two of my favorite flavors are Sea Salt Caramel and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. Of course I am always open to enjoying other flavors, but those two are my personal favorites. I just wish our local grocery store would carry those flavors more often.

Have you seen Talenti’s Gelato Pops? I haven’t tried them yet but I am always very tempted to purchase a package every time I see them in the store. They look so good!

Gelato Pops are available in several yummy flavors including Caribbean Coconut, Mediterranean Mint and Banana Swirl.

Talenti Gelato has introduced new flavors to their ever growing product line. The new flavors are;

  • Raspberries & Cream
  • Fudge Brownie
  • Caramel Apple Pie

Talenti was kind enough to send me the three new flavors and several other Talenti Gelato flavors. Mmmm!!!!! I could not wait to dig into each of them.

First and foremost I must say that I LOVE Talenti for a variety of reasons. One of them are the great containers the Gelato comes in. They are made of plastic with a twist top. They are excellent for repurposing. I’ve used the containers to hold Q-tips, make up, jewelry, craft supplies and left over foods.


I would love to turn one into a piggy bank but I can’t figure out how to cut a slit in the top.

I could not wait to try the  new flavors, especially the Raspberries & Cream. I honestly thought Fudge Brownie would be the first flavor I tried, but the moment I saw the red Raspberry speckles in the creamy white vanilla ice cream I knew I had to try it first.

The thing about Talenti Gelatos is that the Gelato tastes EXACTLY like name of of the Gelato. For example, the Raspberry & Cream has bits of Raspberries (what taste like fresh Raspberries that were frozen and mixed in the Gelato) embedded in a sweet and creamy vanilla Gelato.

Since fruits and veggies are plentiful during the summer months the Raspberry & Cream is a great summer time treat.

I tried the Caramel Apple Pie next. I was “iffy” on that flavor but once I tried it I loved it. It tastes like apple pie ala mode! You can even taste a bit of cinnamon in the Gelato.

If you were to put freshly made apply pie, topped it with vanilla Gelato and a drizzle of caramel sauce then mixed it in a blender and froze it you’d have Caramel Apple Pie Gelato. That is what it tastes like.

Talenti Pop


If you like fudge you’ll be head over heels in love with Fudge Brownie. It’s chocolate heaven!

My kids “attacked” my Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. :-( So it’s long gone. However my Sea Salt Caramel still has some left. If you like caramel (real caramel) then you MUST try Sea Salt Caramel. It takes like a real, soft caramel that melts in your mouth. It’s hard to believe it’s Gelato.

I tried Lisbon Lemon for the first time. Wow! That is good. It’s more like a Sorbet then a Gelato. It tastes like the juice from a freshly squeezed lemon (but not as tart) and frozen into a tasty dessert.

The Alphonso Mango took a bit to grow on me. I’m not a big mango fan. The first few times I tried it I didn’t like it (again, I don’t really like Mango) but it did grow on me after a while.

There are no suprirses when it comes to Talenti Gelato. What ever the name of the Gelato is you can expect it to taste exactly like it. It’s amazing! I don’t know how they do it.

I hope they continue to come up with new and exciting flavors. Currently they have about two dozen flavors.

To learn more about Talenti Gelato visit www.TalentiGelato.com. You can also find the brand on the various social networking sites. All the links are found on their home page.

Have you tried Talenti Gelato before? Do you have a favorite flavor? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Talenti Logo



*I received free product samples in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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New Southern Style Chicken Biscuit Sandwich at Dunkin Donuts


Dunkin Donuts Chicken Biscuit Sandwich

I am a huge fan of Dunkin’ Donuts. I am literally there almost daily. You know you go to DD (Dunkin’ Donuts) too much when you don’t even have to speak your order – the people behind the counter already know what you want and how you want it. :-)

I threw off one Dunkin’ employee the other day. He saw me coming and started to make my usual iced coffee but I told him I wanted a hot coffee instead. It really threw him off. He looked confused. LOL!

I love it when Dunkin’ Donuts comes out with new foods and beverages. I always have to try them at least once.

One new menu item is the Southern Style Chicken Biscuit Sandwich.

The new sandwich is only available in the New York Metro Area.

The Southern Style Chicken Biscuit Sandwich features a tender, juicy breaded chicken filet on Dunkin’ Donuts signature Buttermilk Biscuit.


I had the chance to try one out last week.

I wasn’t sure if this was a breakfast food or lunch food. I ended up having one for lunch.

The chicken was soft and tender. It was a thick piece of chicken too.

The biscuit was a bit too dry for my taste, but that might just be the one I had. I haven’t had another one yet to see if all the biscuits are like that. Don’t get me wrong – the biscuit was tasty. The whole sandwich was delish. I just think the biscuit that I had was a little too dry.

I plan on ordering it again. Not only was it delicious I found it filling and very satisfying. Paired with a cup of coffee (or iced coffee) and you have a nice on-the-go lunch option.

The new sandwich is only available at participating Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants. The suggested retail price is $2.99.

To find a Dunkin’ Donuts near you visit www.DunkinDonuts.com. You can also find the brand on the various social media sites.

If you don’t have it already I recommend the Dunkin’ Donuts app. It’s very handy. You can use it to pay for purchases, find a location near you and they even send you coupons. :-)

Dunkin Donuts Logo


*I received a gift card in order to try out the sandwich. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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