Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil Review...and Giveaway!

Well, this is the very exciting blog post I promised you...I was granted the opportunity to do a review for Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil! But that's not the best part. There's a surprise at the end of the post. So keep reading!

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

I was very excited to try another brand of coconut oil, especially one that seems to have such a loyal following. I decided that the best way to get an instant feel for the oil was to eat it as simply as possible- slathered generously on a slab of banana bread.

 Mmm, tasty. I was very pleased with the flavor and texture. It was very smooth and delicious, without any particles or bits interrupting the creamy texture. The flavor was good as well, slightly coconutty, but not overpowering. Surprisingly, I didn't find the aroma to be quite as nice with this brand. I've really enjoyed the light coconut scent of coconut oil, and this one didn't seem to have quite the same pleasing scent. So far, so good. 

Next I used it to stir fry some chicken. Again, I was quite happy with the results. The flavor was not overwhelming and it cooked very nicely. My husband did comment on not liking the smell as it cooked however. I'm not sure why this is, perhaps a variation in the method they use to extract it? 
I have yet to use it to bake with, but that's next on my agenda. Overall, I have to say that it's a lovely, good quality coconut oil that I would be happy to use every day. I didn't notice anything about it that would necessarily cause me to buy it over a more economical brand. But, I will be buying this brand whenever I can do it within budget!

If you're interested in purchasing Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil to try for yourself, you can order by clicking on the following link. If you have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past and you order through my link, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you!

Check out more info on Tropical Traditions Coconut oil here:

Now for the fun part. We get to do a giveaway! One reader will win a free quart of fabulous coconut oil. To enter, simply watch the video below and comment on this blog post. For additional entries, you can also:
 Simply come back and leave another comment for each additional entry. Share this post with your friends, so they can have a chance too! This giveaway will be open for one week, until midnight Friday, May 4th. Next Saturday (May 5th) I will choose a winner using a random number system. I will post announcing the winner, and ask the winner to email me. : )

Gold Label Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

Win 1 quart of  Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!
Tropical Traditions is America's source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil? You can also watch the video they produced about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the  advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Homemade Greek Yogurt

Homemade yogurt? Isn't that kind of weird? That's definitely what I thought when my husband started talking about making yogurt. During college one of his roommates introduced him to the method and he loved it, so he thought we should give it a shot. After some googling, I finally agreed to try it if I could make greek yogurt. I enjoy the texture of a nice, thick yogurt so much better. So, I did it! And the results were surprisingly delicious! Generally, I'm not a fan of plain yogurt. It's so sour, and not very pleasant. But homemade yogurt is different. It's smoother and much more mild. The texture was lovely and creamy, and it makes a great addition to smoothies and oatmeal. I've also been using it in place of sour cream, since I have it on hand. You can't even tell the difference. Most importantly, I love the fact that all it costs is the price of a gallon of milk and a little bit of time.  Suffice it say, I'm sold on the concept. It's simple, healthy, frugal, and tasty. Those are my buzzwords. :) 

 I also made yogurt cheese. Let me tell you, that is some good stuff. It's just one extra step in the yogurt making process, and it's so worth it. You simply have to strain the yogurt for an extra day or so, letting much more of the whey drain out. The result is a thick, creamy, spreadable cheese that is sweeter than yogurt and so very rich. And I don't know why, but it seems like the longer it sits in the fridge, the sweeter it gets. We like to eat it on a spoon drizzled with honey. It's makes an excellent dessert. I've also spread it in homemade poptarts and on crepes. Yum, yum, yum.

While dairy isn't specifically targeted as a heart healthy food, poor dental health is thought to be linked to heart disease. The high calcium and phosphorus contents of dairy foods are helpful in the forming of strong bones and teeth. Dairy also has numerous other health benefits, which may have some bearing on heart health. Potassium may help lower blood pressure and stroke risk, riboflavin maintains healthy red blood cells, and vitamin B12  is important for red blood cell production. Probiotics, specifically found in yogurts (although only those with "live and active cultures") are especially beneficial for the immune system.

Source: Fight Back with Food: Use Nutrition to Heal What Ails You,  The Reader's Digest Association

Homemade Greek Yogurt

1 Gallon Whole Milk (other fat contents will probably work as well, but I haven't tried them)
4-6 Tbs of yogurt (Really, that's all you need, but this MUST contain "live and active cultures")
Cooking thermometer
Cheesecloth (or thin dishtowel)

Heat the milk (all but a couple Tbs, to use later) over medium heat in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, stirring frequently. Heat until the temperature reads 180 degrees (it will take awhile.) Once this temperature is reached, remove from heat and pour into a glass bowl. Allow to cool, uncovered on the counter top, to 105-110 degrees.  While this is cooling, heat your oven to warm. Once the milk is cool, turn the oven off and the oven light on. This will create the  perfect temperature for your yogurt to culture in. Mix the 4-6 Tbs of yogurt with the couple of Tbs of cold milk you saved, then add to the warm milk. Now cover your milk with a dishtowel, put it in the warm oven, and let it sit overnight. You can try this after 7-8 hours, but I've had the best results with overnight. In the morning, you should have a nice, thick yogurt! Put it in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours, and then proceed to straining it for greek yogurt.

For regular yogurt- Simply whisk until the yogurt is smooth and refrigerate.

For greek yogurt- Line a wire mesh strainer with cheesecloth or a thin dishtowel and allow the yogurt to drain over a bowl on the counter for several hours (depending on how thick you like it.) Spoon into a bowl and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate.

This was how much whey I got out of one of my small batches...a lot!

For yogurt cheese- Continue straining over a bowl in the refrigerator for an extra day or two until the yogurt is quite thick and retains it's shape (although still very soft.) Press into a container and refrigerate. 

I've used this yogurt and cheese up to 2-3 weeks, but just make sure you keep an eye on it. I'm not sure when it will go bad.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Peanut Butter Breakfast Pudding

We had a snow day this morning. Well, my husband had a snow day. But, when he's home everybody's happy! So I actually made breakfast for the both of us. Usually breakfast is a quick muffin or bowl of yogurt. But today, we had time to spare! So, I made a recipe I've been eying for quite awhile now- Peanut Butter Breakfast Pudding. And can I just say, it was well worth the five extra minutes it took to make it. That's what's so great about really didn't take long at all, so you could make these even on those busy mornings. It was creamy, chewy, hearty, healthy, and delicious. Yum yum. I got the recipe here. I've been really enjoying her dessert and breakfast recipes. They are creative and delicious, while being very healthy. She's vegan, and while I am anything but, I find most of the recipes to be non-vegan adjustable. :) I really like how she uses natural foods (like bananas and dates) to sweeten most of her recipes. I usually throw in some honey too, but her recipes are a great place for me to start.

Heart Health:
Peanut Butter- Nuts are rich in Vitamin E. This antioxidant vitamin is thought to help prevent heart disease. They also contain amino acids and B vitamins, which are cardio-protective.

Bananas- These lovelies are packed with pectin, which is a soluble fiber that helps lower LDL cholesterol. It also has potassium, which may help lower blood pressure.

Oats- Oats are a wonderful source of saponins, which bind to cholesterol in the digestive tract. They also contain soluble beta-glucan fiber which is helpful for reducing cholesterol.
ber that helps lower LDL cholesterol. It also has potassium, which may help lower blood pressure.

Here's her recipe. The only thing I changed was adding a bit of honey into the blended mixture, then drizzling some on top.

Peanut Butter Breakfast Pudding

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 a ripe banana
  • 1-2 T peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • sweetener (the amount will vary, depending on your tastebuds and what milk you use)
  • optional: chocolate chips
Cook the oats, salt, and milk (either on the stove or in the microwave). Meanwhile, blend the pb and banana. Then add your vanilla, sweetener, and 1/2 of the cooked oats to the blender (I used a Magic Bullet) and re-blend. Stir in the rest of the oats. You can blend all the oats if you prefer, but I like the chewiness of leaving some un-blended.