Scoring sweet swag, reviewing awesome products and living the rad mom life.

Archive for the ‘nutrition’ Category

Hats Off to BOCO Gear!

“Disclaimer: I received a free BOCO Gear Run Hat to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

If you scroll through most of my running photos, you will find that I am almost always wearing a hat.  Why is that?  Well a few reasons.  1.  I have a ton of hair.  2.  I don’t usually have a lot of time to properly style said hair (thanks kids).   3.  Hats offer protection from the daily elements (i.e. sun, wind, rain).  4.  They are stylish!

So you can imagine my excitement when I had the chance to test out a new run hat from BOCO Gear!

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If you’ve never heard of BOCO Gear, they are a company based out of BOulder, COlorado (clever, huh?)…and they create performance hats, headbands, and other accessories for athletes.  You can browse their online shop or they will even create custom orders for your organization, team or event!  They created custom hats for BibRave and I love the look of this product!

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Since moving to Japan, I’ve been faced with some “challenging” weather conditions that I haven’t been used to.  San Diego spoiled me with it’s annual perfect weather, so I had to quickly adjust to various temperatures, humidity, rain, and even some crazy wind.  When I first received my BOCO Run Hat, it was typhoon season.  I didn’t even know that was a thing until I moved here.  BTW –  the height of typhoon season is like September/October so beware if you plan to travel to Japan during those times.  😉  Anywho, I didn’t want to let any little typhoon weather get me down so I thought, “What the heck – I’ll run outside anyway.”  Well the wind was no joke.  Running against the wind will really test your strength and it’s also annoying.  But I survived, and more importantly – My BOCO Run Hat didn’t budge!  I was shocked!  In fact, I kinda forgot I was wearing it at one point because it’s so lightweight!

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The good news about typhoons is they don’t last long.  After about 8 hours, it was all over and the skies cleared.  In fact, the next day was absolutely beautiful and I had to run again so I could see Mount Fuji in all of her glory!

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Not only did I like how this hat protected against the wind and rain,  I also liked knowing that my face was being shielded from the sun.  But for real – wear your sunscreen, kids!

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I also took my new hat friend for a ride in spin class, for some posing in yoga, and some stretching in pilates.  Obviously I didn’t need any protecting from the elements here…I just didn’t feel like doing my hair. 😉

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Overall, I think this is a great hat that all runners should own!  I love how light it feels and the way it stays put without squeezing my head.  The inside features a soft sweatband to wick away the sweat and it’s totally adjustable with a snap buckle (Velcro pulls my hair so I especially appreciate this feature).  It also folds up really easily so you can stick it in your pocket or bag when you’re travelling.  And throw it in the wash when it needs to refresh!  Super easy!

I was really impressed at how much this hat could withstand!  It even stayed put during play time with the kids and speed work on the track!

If you are looking for a new running hat, then BOCO Gear is the way to go!  Or if you are an organization or have a team looking for a custom order of hats, BOCO will hook it up!

Prices range from $23-$35 in their online shop and there is a minimum of 35 hats for a custom order.  So go create some great SWAG that anyone would love to have! 😉

Already own some BOCO Gear?  Snap a pic and tag #BOCOGEAR on Instagram for your chance to be seen on their website!

I’m off to review the next product!

~SM

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Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo Review

Earlier this year, I attended the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo (GFAF Expo) in San Diego and it did not disappoint! The GFAF Expo is a two-day gluten free and allergen friendly event that comes to cities all over the U.S.  I also had the opportunity to attend as an official blogger which meant I got a little extra swag. 😉

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It was held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds which would normally mean that there were some nice views, but it happened to be raining this day so everyone pretty much ran inside to dodge the rain.

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Since it was at the fairgrounds, there was plenty of close parking and I arrived early enough to avoid any traffic.

Before I get into the review, I will disclose that I do not have any food allergies myself.  However, when attending many get-togethers or playdates involving foods, coordinators will often ask for people to be considerate of others’ unique dietary needs when bringin snacks.  So I thought this would be a great opportunity to not only score some swag, but find out what types of tasty and allergen friendly foods were out there!

The morning started out with a free breakfast hosted by BFree Foods.  They talked about their company and offered us coffee, bagels, juice, and fruit.  We were then free to network with other bloggers and vendors before the expo officially opened.  Then they gave us our own swag bags and we were off to explore!

One cool thing about the expo is that each vendor has an information card on their table that lets you know if their product contains a particular sensitive ingredient.

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The event also featured authors and speakers that presented information all throughout the day.

There seemed to be a good attendance at these classes since I saw several people standing for the presentation as the chairs filled up.  I listened in on a couple of presentations and the presenters seemed enthusiastic and informative.

There were TONS of vendors at this event so I won’t be able to mention every single one, but you can go to the GFAF Expo website to learn more.  I will, however, touch on the ones that stood out to me!

Enjoy Life Foods  had a cute little set up, where you could score goodies along a maze-type structure.  I also think their products are super tasty, especially those chocolate chips!

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Garden Lites offered up some pretty sweet waffles and Namaste Foods gave out delicious cake samples!

One of my favorite vendors was Brazi Bites!  I love these little bread balls and I’m hoping they come out with a cinnamon flavor at some point.  You may have seen them on Shark Tank, but if not…definitely check them out in your freezer section!

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There were a couple of different Kombucha brands, but I enjoyed the ginger-lemon sample from Health-ade the most.  Sunbutter had a pretty big presence at the event and they were generous with their samples and also handed out some little coloring books for the kids.

Keli’s Hawaiian Sauces were pretty dope and I thought they would be great on all different types of foods. The folks over at RP’s Pasta were also very friendly and generous!

I enjoyed the flavors from Rise Buddy Snacks, but unfortunately my kids weren’t too thrilled with this snack.  Smart Flour Foods gave out yummy pizza samples and this also something that I would purchase in the future!

 

I tried an interesting sample from Natti Bar.  They’re basically bananas mashed into bars.  Personally, I would prefer just eating a regular banana but others may dig these little things.  Betsy’s Best offered samples of different types nut butters, but I just didn’t think it tasted much different than other brands.

Glutenberg Craft Beers were one of the gluten-free beers representing at this event.  I thought it tasted okay, but I’m also not big on craft beers so I’m sure others would enjoy this.  It also looked like many people were skipping over the beer booths so I’m not sure gluten-free beer is a super popular thing.

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Another vendor that I really enjoyed was Aleia’s Foods.  They offer a variety of gluten-free stuffing, bread crumbs, croutons, and cookies.  I almost devoured a whole box of chocolate chunk cookies by myself.  I couldn’t even tell they were missing any gluten!  And use code “GFAF17” to save $1.00 on your online purchase!

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Towards the end of the day, I got to try a decadent German chocolate brownie from Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry.  I was also really drawn to their packaging so I definitely recommend checking out their products!

There were also some non-food exhibitors such as: Beautycounter; Hands for Life Ocean Beach (They gave me a demo and I was informed that I needed an adjustment); San Diego Meditation (which I probably need); and some massage people that wanted to sell me a $200 device that felt like a shock treatment.  The authors also had a few booths where they were selling their books.

I only attended on Saturday, but I was able to hit up pretty much every booth.  The place got pretty packed throughout the day, but I didn’t have to wait at the booths for very long.

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So what was the SWAG?!

Every attendee was given an Enjoy Life reusable bag with some samples and coupons when they first walked in the door.  Sprouts Farmers Market also gave out reusable bags with some greek yogurt samples as well as fresh fruit.  I also received the BFree swag bag that included full-size bread samples, coupons, an infuser bottle, and a selfie stick!  And because I was an official blogger, many of the vendors gave me some extra swag as well as their business cards for future networking.

And here are the goodies that I collected…

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Yep, it was a pretty large haul!  So much that I could barely fit it all in one picture!  I also scored a huge stack of coupons for discounted or free items so that definitely added to the value.

Overall, I really enjoyed this event!  I learned about a lot of new brands and I was introduced to some interesting food items.  However,  I did feel that one genre of brands was missing.  And that was cleaning products!  I was really surprised that I didn’t see any natural cleaning product brands represented at this event.  I also think they should have put our blogger names or social media handles on our badges since that’s what most of us go by in the blogger world.

I recommend this event to anyone with a food allergy or that has a family member/friend with a food allergy.  I also recommend this event to anyone that just wants to learn about new products or about healthier living in general!

If you are planning to attend this event in your city, I do have a few tips!

  1.  Arrive early!  There are so many booths that it can seem overwhelming so give yourself enough time to get through most of the expo and catch a couple of presentations.  Even better if you can attend both days!
  2. Come hungry!  I literally just ate samples all day and I was full for the whole day.  I even had to turn some samples down at the end because I was pretty stuffed.
  3. Bring water!  There were only a few beverage vendors along with some water fountains at this particular venue.  Bring enough water to get you through the whole day because you will be tasting lots of yummy foods.

Be sure to check out http://gfafexpo.com/ to see if this event is coming to a city near you!  Tickets run about $5-$35 which is totally worth it for what you get at this event.  The price does not include parking so make sure to check your venue for parking details.  You can also get involved by volunteering, blogging, or presenting at this event so be sure to check out the website for more info.

I really enjoyed blogging for this event!  I was able to connect with some other local bloggers as well as network with some pretty amazing brands.  I would definitely attend this event in the future.  You can also follow @gfafexpo on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!  And thanks again to all of the sponsors! 🙂

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Did you attend the GFAF Expo this year?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

***Note: I was provided free admission to the Gluten Free and Allergen Friendly Expo in San Diego as part of being an official member of the 2017 GFAF Expo Blogger Team.  All opinions are my own.

I’m off to review the next event!

~SM

Four Ways to Perform Your Best

***Disclaimer: I received a free sample of the Beachbody Performance Line as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

 I’m always looking for ways to improve my running…either through technique, equipment, or nutrition.  So I was pretty stoked when I had the chance to try out Beachbody’s Performance line!  There are many ways that you can nutritionally improve your athletic performance and Beachbody covers all of the elements!
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And it even came with Swag! – A shaker cup and system guide!

 

So here are four ways that you can improve your performance and shatter some goals!  I’ve ranked them in order from what had the least impact on my performance to what had the most.  Now, keep in my mind – these were MY results and these supplements may affect you differently.  But here’s a little insight as to what the line offers. 😉
4. Recharge (Vanilla) –
      Recharge is to be used before bedtime in order to support muscle recovery as you snooze.  You mix up one scoop with some water or throw it in a smoothie and you will wake up refreshed and free of muscle soreness.  I personally didn’t feel much differently after taking this supplement.  I’m pretty good about stretching, rolling, and wearing compression wear -so that may have something to do with it.  I’m also kind of bad about night time routines so I really had to remind myself to drink this before going to sleep.  As far as taste, it has a subtle vanilla bean flavor and has a bit thicker consistency than the other supplements.
3.  Energize (Lemon)-
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Next up is, Energize!  This is a pre-workout supplement that you take within 30 minutes of your workout.  It’s designed to give you extra energy and motivation to endure tougher workouts.  I really wanted to love this one, but for me it fell a bit short.  I didn’t quite feel the “jolt” of energy that I had anticipated.  It gave me a little boost, but not quite what I expected. I guess I was expecting to Hulk out or something.  If I were to continue using this I would probably have to increase the serving size a bit.  Beachbody suggests one scoop per serving and warns to not exceed two scoops.  I think I may try a scoop and a half in the future or maybe just stick to my usual coffee.  As far as taste, it has a pretty intense lemony flavor – like super sweet lemonade Kool-Aid.  It was a little too sweet for me, but others may find it pleasing.
2.  Recover (Chocolate)

Recovery is meant to be consumed right after a workout to increase muscle recovery and decrease soreness.  I really enjoyed the recovery supplement and used it after longer workouts.  I found that it helped decrease soreness so that I could keep going throughout the week.  I used it after longer runs, strength training, hiking, and of course, Country Heat!

And I thought the taste was great, too.  I’m usually a little leery of chocolate flavored supplements since they usually taste fake or grainy.  But this one was just the right consistency and I drank it fine with just cold water.  I think it would also be pretty tasty in a smoothie with some bananas, peanut butter, or strawberries.  It also comes in an orange flavor in case chocolate isn’t your thing.

And the #1 thing that affected my performance (drumroll, please)…. Hydrate (Citrus)!

Hydrate is designed to enhance your performance by replacing lost electrolytes without the added sugar of sports drinks.  It utilizes a plant-based nutrient called, Quercetin that has shown to enhance endurance and delay muscle fatigue.  The hydrate got me really excited – so much so that I had to research whether or not it was possible to overdose on it.  Since I live in Southern California, I run outside a lot and it gets hot pretty quickly….so the Hydrate really made my day. I felt like I could run longer without feeling like my legs were getting too tired or like I was becoming dehydrated.  I have used other hydration supplements and I enjoy them as well, but what makes this one different?  For me, it was the taste.  I really enjoyed the consistency and light citrus flavor of this supplement.  For the record, I don’t think you can actually “overdose” on it.  The directions say to consume one scoop with 8 ounces of water for every 30 minutes of exercise.  But anything in excess is bad for you and taking too many supplements is never a good option.  So I recommend following the directions and using common sense. 😉

You can learn more about the Performance ingredients here.

All Beachbody products have been NSF-certified – meaning they have been tested to comply with the NSF’s banned substance standards.  You can learn more here.

Pricing for the Advanced Performance Stack (which includes all 4 performance supplements) costs $199.95 plus shipping.  Beachbody also offers a 30-day money-back-guarantee.  I think the pricing is pretty comparable to what you would pay if you walked into any nutrition store and bought the equivalent to these supplements.

I would recommend Beachbody Performance to anyone who is training for anything!  Whether it’s running, biking, lifting, etc…I think you will find something in this line that works for your routine!

What do you think?  Which Beachbody Performance product intrigues you the most?

I’m off to drink my Hydrate! 😉

 

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~SM

The Down Low on NuGo

I was really excited to try this next product because I absolutely LOVE chocolate!  NuGo Bars are a healthier snack bar option loaded with some awesome nutrients and non-GMO ingredients.  The best part?  These bars contain REAL dark chocolate!  And to be honest, I was a little skeptical to try these since I can’t stand the taste of fake chocolate or chalky bars with a bad aftertaste.  But, I decided to give the NuGo Bars a shot! NuGo offers a few different lines of products and I had the chance to review their Dark line.  I received my bars a little before Christmas which meant that I got an early present! Thanks, Santa! 😉

I received four different flavors: Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Coconut, and Chocolate Pretzel.  They also offer a few other flavors from their Dark Chocolate line that I did not try.  You can explore those flavors here.

Some quick facts about the Dark line:

  • 10g Protein
  • Around 14g of sugar
  • Around 200 calories
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Gluten Free
  • Vegan
  • Real dark chocolate
  • Non-GMO
  • Certified Kosher

Sounds too good to be true, right?  A chocolate snack bar can’t possibly be healthy and taste delicious all at the same time….right??  Well that was my thinking going into this product review.

I was training for a half marathon all while trying to keep up with the kiddos and all of their engagements before the Nugo bar came into my life.  So I kept them in my bag so I could be armed when cravings or afternoon hunger struck.

First, I took them along for some runs…

They were a nice snack post-run and they were okay for a little fuel on short runs (3-4 miles).  It’s not something I would use as a meal replacement or on really long runs, but it kept me satisfied on the shorter ones.

I also took it to a track workout!


Then, I took them out on a couple of outings with the kiddos…

I brought one to a kid’s birthday party to avoid the temptation of pizza and cake and it totally worked!  It kept me away from the junk and I had energy to chase the kids around the birthday venue for a few hours!  I took another one on a grocery shopping trip because that’s where a lot of damage can happen.  I ate it on the way in to the store and was able to avoid the usual tempting non-healthy snacks.

I also took one along on a trail excursion…

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This is the only snack I brought for myself on this 3 mile hike which is pretty gutsy seeing as how if it didn’t work I was gonna be pretty hungry for the hike back to civilization.  But, luckily it sustained my energy and kept hunger away until it was time for lunch!

But, there was one negative aspect to these bars…

Kids!  My two-year-old also took a liking to these bars and kept stealing them!  I guess everyone loves the NuGo bars! 😉

So, how did they really taste?  Well I’ve ranked the flavors and here are the results:

In 4th place: Chocolate Coconut – I’m not a huge coconut fan unless it’s an oil or a rum so I didn’t really dig the chocolate/coconut combo

3rd place: Chocolate Chocolate Chip – It tastes just how it sounds – chocolate with chocolate chips.  So there was no wow factor for the tastebuds here.  Just a basic dark chocolate flavor.

2nd place: Mint Chocolate Chip – This actually tasted pretty similar to the Thin Mint cookies that those Girl Scout dealers sell.  It happens to be my favorite Girl Scout cookie so I was a little partial to this one.  But if mint isn’t your jam, then I would avoid this flavor.

1st place: Chocolate Pretzel (with sea salt) – I loved the sweet/salty/crunchy combo here and this is the flavor that I would purchase again!

Overall, I really enjoyed the NuGo Dark Nutrition Bars!  I’m a pretty experienced consumer in chocolate and I will say that these tasted like the real deal.  As for pricing, you can purchase a box of 12 Dark bars on their website for $19.00.  This averages out to be about $1.58 per bar which isn’t too bad.  You can also look for them in your local stores.  Another option is purchasing a sample pack.  These run $6-$7 for a pack of 2-3 bars depending on which line you want.

As a bonus – Enjoy 15% off boxes of NuGo Dark with code BIBRAVE1 through Feb 8, 2017.

NuGo also wants to make some changes! If you are interested in telling the FDA to stop deceiving buyers with incorrect dark chocolate food labeling you can sign the petition here —> https://www.change.org/p/dark-chocolate-food-labeling-tell-the-fda-to-stop-the-deception

Join me on #Bibchat on Twitter on Jan. 31st at 6pm PST for your chance to win your own NuGo Bars! 

Oh yeah and don’t forget to enjoy the view! 🙂


I’m off to review the next product!

***Disclaimer: I received a free sample box of NuGo Dark Chocolate Bars to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own!

~SM

Go With Your Gut

In case you’re not familiar with probiotics, they are basically “good bacteria” that benefit your digestive system or all that junk in your gut.  You can find it in the form of pills, powders or certain foods, like yogurt.  I was excited to try Dr. Mercola’s Complete Probiotic Powder Packets since I’m not really good with taking pills and I kind of get burnt out on yogurt.

I was even more excited to receive my package because it came with…you guessed it…SWAG!

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The SWAG included a tote bag, a shaker cup, and Dr. Mercola’s own health magazine.

I was a little worried that the taste of the powder would be too grainy or fake, but I was surprised that it tasted like raspberry Kool-Aid!

I definitely recommend taking advantage of the shaker cup because if you just stir up the powder with water, there might be some tiny clumps.  You can also add it into juice, but I think it’s sweet enough to just add to water.

I didn’t really have any digestive health problems prior to trying Dr. Mercola’s packets, but I was interested to see if I would feel any different after taking them.  I took a packet each morning and after a couple of weeks, I definitely felt less bloated, which is pretty awesome since I tried these during the week of Thanksgiving.

Then, I let my daughter try the Kid’s version!  The main difference between the adults and kids packets is that the adult probiotic contains 270 mg of the active ingredients and the kids probiotic contains only 33 mg of the active ingredients.

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I have a pretty picky four-year-old so I wasn’t really expecting her to be interested in this new beverage.  But she proved me wrong by guzzling down her “raspberry drink” and then asking for more!  So I’m looking forward to adding this to her daily diet!

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In addition to testing out the probiotics, I also read the magazine that came along with the packets.  There was some interesting information including lots of tips and guidelines for healthy eating.

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I had heard of some of the information before from other sources, but some of it was new to me.  Like the recommendation of occasionally skipping breakfast? And the Emotional Freedom Technique.  Overall, It was a pretty interesting read and even included a couple of worksheets.

As my first time really trying a probiotic supplement, I would say this is something that  I would continue to use in the future.  I like that the packets are easy to throw in a purse without the worry of refrigeration.  I liked the taste and I liked that there is a version for kids.  Dr. Mercola also gets extra points because my daughter actually approved of the taste as well! They are also soy-free and gluten-free which is great for people with allergies. You can learn more about Dr. Mercola on his website and also read more health related articles as well as shop for other products.

The Complete Probiotics Powder Packets for Adults (30 packets per box) retails for $41.97.

The Complete Probiotics Powder Packets for Kids (30 packets per box) retails for $29.87.

*Note: I received this product for free from Moms Meet, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer.  As a Moms Meet Blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog.  The opinions posted are my own.

What do you think of probiotics?!

~SM

Love for Luvo!

My latest BibRave Pro opportunity was to review Luvo Meals.  These are healthy, frozen meals that cook right in their own little steam pouches!

I was really excited to try these because I’m not the greatest cook and I don’t have a lot of patience in the kitchen.  But I do like to eat healthy and since I am training for the upcoming Carlsbad Half Marathon, these came at a perfect time!  Frozen meals are usually hit or miss so I typically stick to Amy’s or Lean Cuisine, but those can get pretty bland and boring.  As soon as I opened up the box I was delighted to see all of the exciting and unique flavors!

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I liked that there’s no plastic trays or wrap to mess with. Everything steams right in the bag!  Just pull out of the box, put on a plate and stick in the microwave (or the oven) and in 5-6 minutes you have yourself a quick and healthy meal!

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The average calorie count ranges from about 250-350 and each meal is loaded with plenty of protein and veggies.  So were these little gems too good to be true?  How did they really taste?!  After trying 10 of the meals, I’ll give you my top picks and least faves.

My favorite picks were the spinach ricotta ravioli and the orange mango chicken.

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These were the most flavorful and the ones that most closely resembled the pictures on the boxes.  There were some other good flavors, but the appearance wasn’t as pleasing as these two.

Then there were a couple that missed the mark for me…

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Since it’s the fall season, I really wanted to love the turkey meatloaf mashed potatoes…but I just wasn’t feeling it and I felt a little disappointed.  The vegetable bibimbap looked okay, but was just a bit too spicy for me.  To be fair, it could also be an acquired taste type deal…I just wasn’t in love.

Overall, I was really pleased with this product! I love finding quick ways to incorporate more veggies and protein into my meals without having to do a lot of prep work or spending a ton of time in the kitchen.  The only drawback is that they aren’t in every grocery store just yet.  The closest location to me is about 30 minutes away.  Some flavors are available online…but a pack of 8 costs about an average of $85-$90 (per Amazon) due to the shipping process. Mine came shipped in a nice little box with dry ice so I could see how this could be costly.

I do have a love for Luvo and I would definitely purchase some of these flavors in the future if they come to some stores closer to me.  There is a product request form that you can fill out which is nice since it seems that these meals are a little bit harder to obtain than other brands.

What do you think?  Have you tried these “Steamazing” meals?!

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***Note: I was given this product free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review as part of the awesome BibRave Ambassador program.  All opinions are my own.

And be sure to checkout #BibChat every Tuesday at 6pm PST on Twitter!

Can’t wait to bring you the next product review!!

~SM

 

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