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Shop for local produce at your neighborhood BJ’s Wholesale Club

 

Fruits and Vegetables from a typical shopping trip for my family.

Fruits and Vegetables from a typical shopping trip for my family.

I am grateful that my entire family loves fresh fruits and vegetables. It makes me a very proud mom when I see my kids grab for some baby carrots or an apple over a handful of chips or cookies.

From a very young age I stressed the importance of eating fruits and vegetables daily. In fact my daughter prefers her vegetables raw (I usually steam my vegetables at dinner time). That is fine with me. I don’t care how my kids eat their fruits and vegetables, as long as they eat them.

I look forward to spring and summer when our local farmer’s markets are overflowing with a bounty of beautiful produce. I like shopping from local farms because the quality of produce is usually better and fresher, its cheaper and you know where the produce comes from.

Did you know that most produce you purchase in grocery stores comes from THOUSANDS of miles away – usually South America or other foreign locations. There are some products that can’t be grown in the United States, but most fruits and vegetables can be.

Think about it. If you purchase apples sourced from another state or another country it means tractor trailers had to transport the food to it’s retail location. That means using up valuable resources (gasoline) and all the unecessary toxic emissions that come from trucks and even boats. It makes better sense to purchase foods sourced locally. Not only that it helps to boost your local and state economy.

I use the fruits and vegetables in my kid’s lunches. They also snack on them when they get home from school. For that reason I always have plenty on hand.

I also like to offer my kids different things to go along with them to keep them interesting, like a dip for the baby carrots or adding peanut butter and raisins to celery.

Check out this cute recipe using Organic Baby Carrots found at BJ’s Wholesale Club.

Heart Dippers

Heart Dippers

  1. Holding a knife at an angle cut a few Organic Baby Carrots in half
  2. Rotate the carrot halves so they form a heart shape
  3. Pressing firmly, thread a few “hearts” on small, wooden cocktail skewers

Tip- cut the ends of the skewers so they don’t have a point

Too cute! I’m thinking these would make cute appetizers at a party too.

Speaking of BJ’s Wholesale Club, have you heard that BJ’s uses locally sourced produce? I just learned about that recently.

Consumers are increasingly more aware that fruits and vegetables that are in-season, harvested closer to their peak ripeness, and transported shorter distance retain more nutrients.  However, according to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, it is estimated that the average American meal still travels about 1,500 miles to go from picked to plate.

In fact, the National Grocery Association’s 2014 Consumer Panel found that more locally grown foods and price/cost savings topped the list of the improvements desired most among the shoppers surveyed.

Today, BJ’s Wholesale Club is shortening the distance from farm to table by buying fresh produce from local New York farms and getting it onto New York club shelves in under 24 hours – watch the amazing process here.

BJ’s local produce sourcing is at the lead of a growing trend. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), industry estimates suggest that local food sales in America have nearly doubled in recent years, jumping from $5 billion in 2008 to $11.7 billion in 2014.

In New York, BJ’s is offering Yellow Squash, Zucchini Squash, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Corn, Peppers, Green Beans and Eggplant from Tony Emmi Farms in Liverpool; Juliano Farms in Utica; Tassleberry Farms in Westmoreland; Kubecka Farms in Kirkville; C & M Farm and Greenhouses in Valatie; Kinderhook Creek Farm in Stephentown; Reeves Farms in Baldwinsville and Eden Valley Growers in Eden.

I’m in New York. When I was at our local BJ’s Wholesale club a week ago I looked for the locally grown produce. I found several. They were easy to spot because they had a special label on them.

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I applaud BJ’s Wholesale Club for doing this. I think it’s a wonderful idea. I wish more stores would follow their lead and rely more on locally grown products then ones that are shipped from thousands of miles away.

In addition to wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables, BJ’s is the only warehouse club to accept manufacturers’ coupons for even greater savings and provide their own coupons as well. I’m all for saving money.

BJ’s Wholesale Club is your one-stop shopping destination for brand name high-quality food and general merchandise at everyday low prices including fresh produce and USDA choice meats, all-natural and organic foods, consumer electronics and appliances.

They also have over 150 organic items and numerous gluten free options. I know a few people with gluten issues. It’s nice to know they can find plenty of products at BJ’s.

If you would like to find a location near you visit www.BJs.com. You can also find the brand on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. The links are found at the bottom of their website.

What do you think about BJ’s bring locally grown produce into their stores? Feel free to share your thoughts.

bjs-logo

Kimberly

*I received a gift card in exchange for my participation. There was no other compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Utilizing yogurt in every day meals

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Yoplait®. The opinions and text are all mine.

My new favorite yogurt flavor/variety.

My new favorite yogurt flavor/variety.

Do you like yogurt? My family loves yogurt (except my husband – he won’t even try it).

I didn’t start eating yogurt until I was in my mid-20’s. My kids have been enjoying yogurt since the pediatrician said it was OK for them to eat it.

If you look in our refridgerator at any time chances are you’ll find several containers of yogurt.

We do enjoy yogurt as a snack, as well as for breakfast, there are so many other ways to enjoy this delicious food.

Did you know that you can utilize yogurt in recipes? If you Google it you can find plenty of recipes that use yogurt as one of it’s ingredients.

One of my favorite recipes using yogurt is German Potato Salad.

Normally German Potato Salad is made with mayonnaise. Did you know you can also make it with yogurt?

I usually make the recipe using Yoplait Greek Yogurt, plain flavor. That is until I tried it with Yoplait Greek Yogurt in Honey flavor. The sweetness of the honey really adds some zing to the potato salad.

Potato

This recipe is so easy to make. For this recipe you’ll need the following.

  • 1 pound of potatoes (I like to use the little red ones)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of Yopliat Greek Yogurt (plain or try it with honey!)
  • Onions (add as much as you like)
  • Celery (add as much as you like – I don’t like celery so I don’t use it unless my hubby requests it)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • You can add 1.5 teaspoons of mustard too. I don’t normally because my husband doesn’t like mustard.

Directions:

  1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. In the mean time cut up the potatoes into bit size chunks or slices.
  2. When the water boils reduce the heat and add the potatoes. Cook until tender (usually 10 minutes).
  3. When the potatoes are tender remove them from the pot and put them in a strainer to drain off and cool down.
  4. Once cool put the potatoes in a large bowl. Add in the onions and celery (you can even try it with other veggies). Stir in the Yoplait Greek Yogurt until the potatoes are coated (you can add more yogurt if you want, or even a little mayo).
  5. Add salt, pepper and/or mustard to taste.

Easy peasy!

Another thing you can do with Yoplait yogurt is turn it into dessert.

I had a container of Yoplait Greek Yogurt in Cafe Mocha flavor, but my daughter ate it! When I went back to the store they didn’t have anymore on the shelf.

Using the Cafe Mocha flavor as an example you can remove it from the contain and place it in a fancy dessert bowl. Top it with a dollop of whip cream and add some chocolate shavings to give it an elegant dessert. Your guests won’t know they are enjoying store bought yogurt. They will think you created them a gourmet treat.

I also like to make “ice cream” out of Yoplait yogurt. I simply take my favorite flavored Yoplait Yogurt (any flavor/variety would work), place it in my blender along with any kind of fresh fruit I’m in the mood for and a splash of milk. I then blend it like I would a smoothie but instead of drinking it I place the mixture into a freezer safe bowl (with a cover) and freeze it. When I am ready for a frosty cold, sweet treat I simply grab for the yogurt mixture. Because it’s frozen you need to scrap at it with the spoon the same way you would enjoy an Italian ice. My kids love it when I make them.

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As you can see, Yoplait Yogurt is not just for snacking. Get creative with it. Find ways of incorporating it into your every day recipes. You’ll be surprised by how many ways you can use yogurt.

For more information about Yoplait products visit Yoplait.com. You can also find the brand on social media.

Look for Yoplait Yogurts at your neighborhood Walmart where you can find Original, Light, Greek and Gogurt varieties.

Yoplait-Logo

Kimberly

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Ragu® – An important staple in my family’s pantry

“This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ragu®. The opinions and text are all mine.”

Spaghetti Tacos - a family favorite. Quick & easy too!

Spaghetti Tacos – a family favorite. Quick & easy too!

As summer comes to an end it’s nice to finally get back into a regular routine. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy doing fun things with my family. I also enjoy having a normal routine. I guess you can say I’m a “creature of habit.”

When it comes to dinner it’s really hard to plan things during the summer months. Either we’re not home because we’re off doing things, or everyone is always on the go-go-go and no one is around for a normal family meal or it’s just too darn hot to cook. When the kids go back to school and we’re back into our normal routine I’ll get right back into cooking dinner every night like I normally do.

Growing up my mom always cooked dinner and everyone sat at the table together. Dinner time was (and still is) family time – a time to reconnect with one another, find out what is going on in each other’s lives and spend quality time together.

In our home cellphones and other devices are off limits. They are not allowed at the table – ever!

Thinking back on dinner time with my family it was always something special. Even if mom made something as simple as pasta it was still a special time with my family.

A staple in my mom’s pantry was always Ragu® Spaghetti and Pasta Sauces. My mom always kept Ragu® on hand to whip up a last minute meal or to create some amazing dishes. Ragu® is a long standing family “tradition,” so to speak. My mom used Ragu®. I use Ragu®. I’m sure my kids will use Ragu® when they grow up too. It’s our go-to sauce.

Ragu Dishes

Ragu® is also a staple in our household pantry.

Funny story, my mother in law is 100% Italian. She made everything from scratch, including her pasta sauce and gravy. When my husband and I were first married we invited her over for dinner. Since I was still learning how to cook I just made some pasta, a salad and garlic bread.

My mother in law was mortified that I was used “jarred sauce.” She didn’t realize that Ragu® was the only sauce I knew. It was what I grew up with. I didn’t know how to make it from scratch and frankly I like the ease and convenience of opening a jar.

I didn’t think my mother in law was going to eat dinner that night, but she did, and she enjoyed it! She even told me that she would have never eaten jarred sauce before but after trying it she really enjoyed it.

Ragu® is so versatile. You can use it in so many ways from something as simple as pasta or mini pizzas to meatloaf, baked ziti and tomato soup.

I like to stock up on Ragu®, that is why I like that I can pick up bulk packages at my neighborhood BJ’s wholesale club. In fact my husband and were just at BJ’s a few days ago where I picked up some Ragu® to replenish my pantry supply.

Ragu 1

Ragu 2

Ragu 3

What an awesome deal! Three huge jars of Ragu for $2.43 each.

The jars I picked up at BJ’s are larger jars (45 ounces) compared to the regular jars (24 ounces). I use more Ragu® in some dishes (baked ziti, lasagna, stew) than with others. If I find that I only need a portion of the jar I simply close the lid and store it in the fridge for a few days until I need it again. I use Ragu® in some way or another at least twice per week.

Purchasing a three pack at BJ’s is convenient for me because it means I have plenty on hand for when I need it. Plus saving money is always nice too.

If you would like to learn more about Ragu® Spaghetti and Pasta Sauces check out Ragu’s homepage. There you can learn about the products as well as some amazing recipes. You can also check out the brand on social media.

I would also highly recommend checking out the brand’s Pinterest page for mouth-watering recipe ideas – www.Pinterest.com/RaguSauce.

To find a BJ’s location near you visit www.BJs.com.

Do you use Ragu®? What is your favorite flavor? What is your go-to Ragu® recipe?

Kimberly

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ragu®. The opinions and text are all mine.

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New HELLO Bites: First-Ever, Bite-Sized Offerings from Lindt

 

Lindt_dishes

If you have read my blog on a regular basis you have probably seen my posts about Lindt. I LOVE Lindt chocolates and truffles. They are like potato chips for me – I can’t eat just one.

We used to have a Lindt store at our mall. Every trip to the mall would end with a stop by the Lindt store to pick up a bag of our favorite truffles. I would always go for an assortment of flavors. My son would always go for the milk chocolate and my daughter loved the white chocolate truffles.

I’m glad I can still buy Lindt at local stores.

Hello Toffee Bites

Have you heard about Lindt chocolate’s newest milk (and dark!) chocolate offerings? They prove that you can get big tastes in small bites.

Lindt’s new HELLO Bites are the first ever, bite sized chocolates from Lindt. They are ideal for sharing and snacking on the go.

The new HELLO Bites are available in three delicious varieties.

  • HELLO Pretzel Bites: Crunchy pretzels sprinkled with salt and covered in creamy milk chocolate
  • HELLO Toffee Bites: Buttery, crunchy toffee sprinkled with salt and coated in velvety milk chocolate
  • HELLO Minty Bites: Refreshing mint drenched in rich dark chocolate

Lindt sent me all three flavors to try out for myself and to share with my family.

The Minty Bites are my favorite. I can’t stop eating those! They are the perfect blend of mint and chocolate. They are heavenly!

Hello Minty Bites

My next favorite is  the Pretzel Bites. I love the crunchy pretzel piece engulfed in Lindt Chocolate.

If you love Toffee you will love the Toffee Bites. My dad used to eat toffee all the time (as in every day!). If he was still alive I bet he would have gone crazy for the Toffee Bites.

Lindt HELLO Bites look like little malted milkballs. They are small and round and you can find different sizes in the bag (they are not a uniform size).

I like that you can pour out a few in your hand and pop them in your mouth when you are craving a sweet treat. The come in a resealable bag so you can take out as many as you want and save the rest for later.

My family has been enjoying them too – that is why I keep them hidden. There is nothing worse than having a craving for something only to find that there is none less. With teenagers at home I need to keep the good stuff under lock and key. Ha Ha.

“With salty pretzel, buttery toffee and refreshing mint centers wrapped in premium chocolate and served in bite-sized pieces, HELLO Bites offer consumers a handful of flavor,” says Thomas Linemayr, CEO and President, Lindt USA. “We’re thrilled to introduce HELLO Bites nationwide, providing chocolate lovers with a fun and unique tasting experience, sure to fulfill any craving.”

Hello Pretzel Bites

In addition to the new HELLO product line, fans are encouraged to visit the Lindt Unwrapped Blog, and share a “bite” about themselves on Twitter and Instagram using #ABiteAboutMe for the chance to win sweet prizes.

While getting to know about the new HELLO Bites, consumers are encouraged to say “hello” and introduce themselves. Lindt is asking chocolate lovers to share a “bite” of information about themselves through the #ABiteAboutMe contest. From August 1-31, 2015, consumers who share a “bite” about themselves on Instagram or Twitter using #ABiteAboutMe are entered for the chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a year’s supply of HELLO Bites and an Apple Watch Sport. Fifty runners-up will win one bag of each HELLO Bites flavor.

Lindt will also celebrate the new HELLO Bites line with a Facebook timeline contest and a Twitter giveaway from August 10-17, 2015, for additional chances to win HELLO Bites prizes. From August 3-21, 2015, Lindt is partnering with three online influencers – Sugar & Cloth, Pizzazzerie and Tiffany Pratt – to take over the Lindt Instagram account for one week each and reveal a “bite” about their days.

This sounds like a fun contest and I hope you will consider entering.

Lindt asked me to share a “little bite” about me too by answering the following questions for my readers.

If I had an extra hour in my day, I would… catch up on my reading. I am so behind in the books I want to read that I’ll never catch up.

The television show I can’t help binge watching is… The Walking Dead. Every time they do a marathon I always watch it even though I’ve seen each episode at least five times.

My guilty pleasure is… Fisher Price Little People. I collect them, especially the limited edition and holiday sets. They were my favorite toy growing up. They always made me happy. I smile every time I look at them. I have several on my desk. I also enjoy old Little Golden Books (the ones with price tags that read .25 cents or .50 cents). They bring back such great memories from my youth.

My biggest celebrity crush is… Hugh Jackman. I met him. He’s such a sweetheart! Chris Pine, Chris Evans (he’s a really nice guy too), Channing Tatum and Jake Gyllenhaal are also crushes.

I could never live without… My family and my pets. They meant the world to me. I love them with every fiber of my being.

My dream vacation spot is… Either Disney World or Wales. Probably Disney World because we haven’t been there in about 14 years and are desperate to go back before the kids are adults and on their own.

My go-to karaoke song is… I don’t do karaoke (I’m a horrible singer). If I had to pick something it would be from the 70’s or 80’s. Maybe Elton John or Billy Joel.

Three words that describe me best are… Sweet. Funny. Caring.

If you would like to learn more about Lindt’s new HELLO Bites visit www.LindtUSA.com. You can also connect with the brand on social media. All of the links are found on the bottom of their website.

What do you think about HELLO Bites? Do you think you’ll try them? Which flavor do you think you’ll like the best?

Lindt Logo

Kimberly

*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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Popchips Teams Up with Disney to Launch Limited-Edition Frozen & Star Wars Multipacks

 

Popchips

Are you familiar with the brand Popchips? I have seen Popchips in the store but I have never tried them. For some reason (I don’t know why) I thought they were made out of soy or something like that. I didn’t think of them as “real” chips.

Popchips are made from potatoes. The brand adds a little heat and pressure to make the chips “pop.” Then they add flavors and seasoning. The result is a crispy crispy chip that has half the fat of leading fried potato chip brands. There are also fewer calories per serving. In addition Popchips doesn’t add any artificial colors, flavors or ingredients.

They also contain no cholesterol, have 0 grams of trans fat and are gluten free. With so many people suffering from gluten issues it’s nice to see a snack they can enjoy too.

I finally had the opportunity to try Popchips. Oh my! What was I waiting for? They are SO GOOD! I especially love the barbecue flavored Popchips. They have a bit of a “kick” to them as far as the flavor is concerned.

I’ve also tried the Sea Salt Popchip which is equally as good. Now I’m looking forward to trying the other available flavors – Sea Salt & Vinegar, Sour Cream & Onion, Cheddar & Sour Cream, Salt & Pepper, Sweet Potato, Tuscan Herb, and Hint of Olive Oil.

Mmm…. Yummy!

Limited Edition Star Wars Frozen Popchips

Popchips has also teamed up with Disney to create limited edition Star Wars and Disney’s Frozen themed single serve multi-packs. These are sure to be a huge hit with kids (and big kids too!). Disney’s Frozen is super popular with both girls and boys. With the upcoming release of the newest Star Wars film, and the popularity of the Star Wars cartoon series, it’s no wonder Disney and Popchips designed themed packaging for Star Wars too.

 

Both of the multi-packs will include 6 count 0.8 oz bags of Popchips’ two most popular flavors – Sea Salt and Barbecue.

The Frozen multi-pack features popular characters from the animated hit and the Star Wars version features vintage characters, delivering a nostalgic twist to on-the-go snacking.

Popchips Frozen

 

Both offerings include fun temporary tattoos as well.  These snack packs have no added preservatives, no artificial flavors, no synthetic colors,

Did you know that Popchips align with school nutritional regulations? I find that a very interesting fact. That means you can feel good about tucking a snack pack bag of Popchips in your child’s lunchbox.

As a mom, I would always pack a healthy lunch for my kids. Every school lunch I packed included a protein, fruit, vegetables and a treat (2-3 cookies, a snack size bag of chips or something else). I still remember when the school nurse called me to compliment me on the lunches I packed for my kids. She said even as a school nurse she didn’t even pack such healthy lunches.

Star Wars Popchips

My kids also know the eat their protein, fruit and vegetables first then they could have whatever treat I included.

Knowing what I know about Popchips now I would most definitely pack them a snack size bag.

If you are looking for a treat for your child’s lunch be sure to check out the limited edition Frozen and Star Wars-themed single serve multi-packs. Hurry! These limited edition packages will only be available through the end of 2015.

For more information about Popchips or where you can buy them, visit www.Popchips.com. You can also find the brand on social media. All the links are found on their website.

Have you ever tried Popchips before? What is your favorite flavor?

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Kimberly

*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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Celebrate National Lemonade Day with Santa Cruz Organic Lemonades

 

Lemonade in the jug

Did you know that this coming Thursday (August 20, 2015) is National Lemonade Day?

You would think that a day that celebrates a classic summer time treat would happen at the beginning of summer, not towards the end of summer.

I love lemonade. Although I do enjoy it year round, summer time seems like the ideal time to enjoy this tasty, bitter beverage.

I’ve tried making lemonade from scratch but I’m not keen on all the sugar you need to add to it. Not only that I can never perfect it. It’s either too sour or too sweet. I have a hard time creating a “happy medium.”

I have tried lemonade mixes but they always taste too “fake” too me. Even pre-made lemonades taste too sweet or artificial.

Not too long ago I enjoyed some lemonade from Santa Cruz. The brand sent me a few bottles including two bottles of peach lemonade and a bottle of raspberry lemonade, as well as a few other goodies.

I like that Santa Cruz offers consumers a variety of lemonade flavors, including classic lemonade.

I’ve had strawberry lemonade before, but never raspberry or peach lemonade. I love both of those fruits and I couldn’t wait to try them out.

Santa Cruz Organic

My boss is a big fan of Santa Cruz peach lemonade. When I told her I had some at home the peach flavor was the first one she mentioned. I gave her one of the peach bottles to keep at work.

Santa Cruz Organic Lemonades are made with USDE organic fruit juices. They don’t contain any artificial preservatives or ingredients.

Like all Santa Cruz Organic products, Santa Cruz Organic Lemonades are certified organic in accordance with the United States Department of Agriculture’s organic regulations.  Bearing the official USDA Organic seal, Santa Cruz Organic Lemonades are guaranteed to be organic, from the ingredients through the recipe-batching process, and into the bottle.  This assures product integrity and supports efforts for environmental responsibility.

I like the way Santa Cruz lemonades taste. They taste freshly made and very close to homemade. In fact I would say it was even BETTER than homemade lemonade because they are not too sweet and not too bitter. They are deliciously tart and tangy.

I like the assortment of flavors too. The raspberry lemonade was so good I drank the entire bottle in two days. This lemonade in a glass full of ice cubes made for a very refreshing treat to unwind with after a day at work. It was also a yummy way to help me cool off.

I can see why my boss likes the peach lemonade. It’s a great combination of both peach and lemon.

Santa Cruz Lemonades

Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade is available in other lip-smacking good flavors – Strawberry Lemonade, Mango Lemonade, Cherry Lemonade and classic Lemonade.

With National Lemonade Day, enjoying a glass of cold Santa Cruz Lemonade (or flavored lemonade) would be a perfectly way to celebrate the day.

You can also freeze the Santa Cruz lemonade in ice pop molds for a frozen treat that is sure to please the whole family.

Santa Cruz makes many other organic foods including applesauce, fruit spreads, peanut butter and more. All foods are made with organic ingredients.

For more information please visit www.SantaCruzOrganic.com. You an also find the brand on Facebook and Twitter.

Have you tried Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade or other Santa Cruz product?

Do you plan on celebrating National Lemonade Day?

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Kimberly

*I received free sample products and other goodies 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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