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Archive for Product Review
May 9th, 2013
EVOL is love backwards. Did you see that right away when you looked at the logo? I have to admit that I didn’t. I’ve walked by the EVOL display hundreds of times in the frozen section at our local Whole Foods, but it never dawned on me that EVOL was love backwards. I needed my 12, 11 and 9 year old to tell me. Not cool.
I love to cook, my husband loves to cook and our kids cook, but cooking doesn’t always happen. This time of year we generally find ourselves sitting on a field most nights watching soccer or baseball with a little karate thrown into the mix. Somehow we manage to pull together an edible meal most nights, but there are those occasional evenings when it’s just not going to happen. On those rare days I like to have quick meal options available. Not fast food, but something that I don’t have to put much thought into.
Enter EVOL. EVOL isn’t your average frozen food. Their frozen meal options hit high on the “healthier food” scale.
- NOTHING ARTIFICIAL. EVOL’s products have no artificial flavors, colors, additives, preservatives or fillers.
- ALL NATURAL PROTEINS. EVOL’s Chicken, beef, pork, eggs and cheese come from animals on US Family Farms that are fed a 100% vegetarian diet and raised without the use of Antibiotics or Hormones.
- HORMONE-FREE CHEESE. EVOL’s cheese is rBGH, rBST and rennet free.
- NON-GMO GRAINS, VEGETABLES & OILS. EVOL’s grains, vegetables and oils are GMOFree.
Where is EVOL sold?
EVOL can be found in over 7,000 retailers nationwide such as Whole Foods Markets, Stop N Shop, Costco, Safeway, Kroger, Target and Publix.
The back story
You can find the full story on their site, but in a nutshell three talented guys came together to make this company happen. If you’re a Survivor fan you might recognize one of the company’s founders.
What we thought
I’m not a meat eater (unless it’s really expensive turkey -organic and raised without antibiotics) or cheese eater so I wasn’t able to try most of the samples sent over. That didn’t stop my kids from digging in and they gave everything a thumbs up.
My oldest really loved the gluten-free Chicken Enchilada Bowl and my youngest loved all of the burritos.
The best part on my end was recognizing every ingredient listed and knowing that most of them were products generally stocked in my fridge. EVOL’s products have no artificial flavors, colors, additives, preservatives or fillers. Nothing but real food.
We did notice that the Chicken Enchilada Bake didn’t look quite like the photo on the front of the box, but that didn’t stop them from eating every last drop.
- The sodium count was pretty high on some of the products-the Chicken Enchilada Bake came in at 630 mg.
- The bowls are compostable and made from a chemical-free process that uses very little water.
- The box that some of the products come in is made from recycled paper board.
Bottom Line: EVOL’s products were top of the line when it comes to gluten-free frozen foods. The company is the complete package: solid ingredients including many organic and natural, great sustainable intentions, and great taste according to my kids. I would not recommend eating their products daily since they are no substitute for a fresh, home cooked meal. In a pinch they do the job and they do it well.
To see there entire line of products click HERE.
If you want to see who’s behind this fast-growing company check out their EVOL Team page. Very cute. Very clever.
Disclosure: I was sent a package of gluten-free EVOL products for review. The opinions in this review are my very own.
April 29th, 2013
Reusable bags are taking over our kitchen and that’s a good thing. I’m talking about reusable snack and sandwich bags for packing our school lunch and they’re everywhere, filling drawers and cabinets waiting to be used.
Did you know that children’s lunches create more than 3.5 billion pounds of garbage each year, which amounts to a crazy 18,760 pounds of trash annually from an average sized elementary school. That’s a lot of waste.
My three boys are pretty much on auto pilot in the morning. Once their alarm clock goes off (aka mom) it doesn’t take much nudging to get everyone out of bed.
We all head downstairs and within a matter of minutes our kitchen turns into a tornado. Breakfast preparation and lunch packing begins. Food and reusable bags are everywhere-the floor, counters and other random spots. I just take a deep breath and let it go because it’s well worth it. All three boys make their own lunch and breakfast with minor supervision from mom and dad. It’s pretty amazing to watch them begin to understand what a green and healthy lunch looks like-starting with reusable bags instead of plastic baggies.
Moving away from the use and toss mentality and investing in a few reusable bags for lunch is such a simple way to make a BIG environmental impact.
Our friends over at MightyNest have an extensive collection of reusable sandwich and snack bags to choose from (and lots of other eco-friendly products!).
MightyNest has graciously offered to giveaway a snack/sandwich reusable bag set to FOUR lucky Groovy Green Livin readers. Here’s what will be given away (one set per winner):
I had never heard of this brand before. Eco-Ditty reusable snack bags and reusable sandwich bags are made from 100% organic cotton with a Velcro closure. The outer colorful fabric is printed with low-impact inks and the inside is made from un-dyed organic cotton liners. They are all BPA Free, Lead Free, PVC Free and can be hand or machine washed in cool water.
I’ve reviewed LunchSkins before and have a few of my own! Lunchskins come in all sorts of great designs and are made from cotton fabric coated with a “food-safe” polyurethane liner. These bags are durable and withstand the high heat of the dishwasher. Fabric and inks have been independently tested for safety and are lead-free, phthalate-free and BPA-free.
Semilla Snack Bags
Another reusable bag brand that’s new to me-Semilla. These bags are hand sewn in one of my favorite cities-San Diego. We’ve been using our bag for sandwich wraps and they actually fit! I love that these bags can go right into the washing machine. The fabric is a Hemp and Organic Cotton blend and the liner is 100% nylon. The lining is non-toxic nylon: lead free, phthalate free and BPA free.
SnackTaxi has been a staple in my reusable bag drawer for a long time. The bags are sturdy and durable. They have a new addition to their reusable bag offerings- gluten free snack bags and reusable sandwich bags! These bags will keep your gluten free snacks distinct from other foods. The label on outside of bag reads “Gluten-Free” as opposed to “SnackTaxi” found on the other SnackTaxi bags.
The kind folks over at MightyNest have graciously offered to give FOUR Groovy Green Livin readers one of these snack and sandwich reusable bag sets. The Giveaway will close at 1 pm EST on 5/3/13. By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I was given four reusable bags to test out from MightyNest. All opinions are my very own.
April 25th, 2013
Right before my vacation I spent a few hours at a local MiniLuxe salon. Lucky me! The timing was perfect. I was headed to warmer weather for a week off and was thrilled to have a little pampering before the official start to my vacation.
Years ago I was a regular at a local mani-pedi salon. Those days are long gone. After many years of mani-pedis, I stopped wearing polish altogether. I couldn’t ignore the smell of the polish-a smell that reeks of toxic chemicals. Also, with three young boys that’s just not at the top of priority list.
If you’ve been following along here for a bit you know that I will only use non-toxic nail polish or no polish at all. The same goes for nail polish remover. I now pay closer attention to what goes on my fingers and toes. I’ve discovered that not all nail polish and removers are created equal.
Thanks to the kind folks at MiniLuxe I was able to test out their lovely salon and treat myself to a hot oil manicure and pedicure. My first question before heading into the shop: “Do you have non-toxic products?” I was assured that they did.
MiniLuxe currently has 7 Massachusetts locations offering a wide array of services including mani-pedis and waxing. When I walked in I first noticed that the salon was modern, clean and colorful. It didn’t have that overwhelming smell of polish that knocks your socks off at many salons.
The color selection was massive. They carry many different brands of polish. I went for a brand that I know is non-toxic, Zoya. Zoya Nail Polish is a nail polish free of toluene, formaldehyde, DBP (phthalates) and camphor.
I was happy to see there weren’t plastic bags floating around the shop.
While I did have the opportunity to select my own polish color the base coat and top coat that were used were taken straight from the manicurist’s station. I’m not sure if this was non-toxic. Next time I will probably bring my own.
I was very impressed that every instrument came straight our of a sterilization bag. It was clear that the instruments used were clean and only used on me. I don’t know if this is standard in the industry, but it was a relief to see.
The manicure and pedicure were quick. I had the warm oil treatment which was divine. I have to admit that I would have liked the massage portion to last a wee bit longer. I could have added an extended hand/arm massage for $6 and an extended foot massage for $8.
Overall the pricing is middle of the road with a Signature Manicure coming in at $19 and a Signature Pedicure at $37. You can add French finish for $6 and warm oil for $10 along with a few additional add-on options.
The mani-pedi polish lasted my entire vacation. My toes still look perfect 2 weeks later, my nails not so much.
Will I go back?
I would. Next time I’ll probably bring a few of my own products to be sure that I’m truly getting the non-toxic treatment. The service was good, the place was clean and I carved out some time to be pampered.
Update: I was assured by MiniLuxe that all their polish, including top and base coats, are non-toxic and 3, 4, and even 5 free. “3 Free” are nail polishes without Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, and Formaldehyde. “5 Free” are nail polishes without Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde,Formaldehyde Resin, and Camphor.
Disclosure: Thanks to the kind folks at MiniLuxe for the complimentary warm oil manicure and pedicure. All opinions are my very own. Promise!
March 18th, 2013
I have a long list of green books that I want to read. Reading for pleasure has fallen by the wayside lately as my book lists continue to grow longer and longer. Many nights I crawl into bed with the intention of reading, but I can’t keep my eyes open. Or maybe there’s an incredibly ridiculous TV series that I can’t get enough of (hint: The Walking Dead) or another series that keeps getting better and better (hint: Breaking Bad ).
My days are filled with reading various articles, blogs, papers and more. But reading for pleasure needs to come back. I know it will. It always does. As I head off on a long plane ride for a few days of vacation I’m planning to catch up on some of my reading.
I thought I would share with you a few green books that have impacted me over the years, many of these authors I’ve come to know in real life and I can assure you that they truly practice what they preach.
Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too by Beth Terry
Beth is the author of the popular blog, My Plastic Free Life, where she chronicles her life without plastic. She recently released her book, Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too. Beth provides very practical easy steps to follow steps to help eliminate plastic from your life. Both a practical guide and the story of Beth’s personal journey from helplessness to empowerment, Plastic-Free is a must-read for anyone concerned about their ongoing health and the health of their children and the planet.
The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien
Robin is a Houston native from a conservative family and a married mother of four. She was not someone who gave much thought to misguided government agencies and chemicals in our food—until the day her youngest daughter had a violent allergic reaction to eggs, and everything changed. The Unhealthy Truth is both the story of how one brave woman chose to take on the system and a call to action that shows how each of us can do our part and keep our own families safe.
Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World by Diane MacEachern
Diane MacEachern is the author of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World and founder of the popular website, Big Green Purse. In her book Diane shows how important the”power of the purse” is when it comes to fighting the industries that pollute the planet. She demonstrates how mobilizing the most powerful consumer force in the world, women, to intentionally shift their spending money to commodities that have the greatest environmental benefit, will ultimately create a cleaner, greener world.
Spit That Out!: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt by Paige Wolfe
Calling all moms on the verge of a “green mom nervous breakdown”: Paige Wolfe, the author of Spit That Out!: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt, is here to straighten us out. This is one of those green books that will make you feel less neurotic and more normal-what mom doesn’t want that?
This book is for all moms; it doesn’t matter if you’re a crunchy, Birkenstock wearing mommy or a rockin’ stlyin’ mom. This book is for you if you’re desperate to do what’s best for your children and are feeling overwhelmed by the process.
Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making by Micaela Preston
Micaela is the founder of the popular website, Mindful Momma. Her boo, Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making, takes the guesswork out of reading labels and will show you how to make smart, healthy purchases for your family. I love that each chapter is broken down into “Buy It” and “Do It” sections. The “Buy-It” section provides information about everyday purchasing decisions and includes clip-out checklists for you to reference while shopping. The “Do It” section gives DIY ideas for how to make things that are good for your family and good for the planet. There are great recipe suggestions and craft ideas.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals is one of my all-time favorite green books. Throughout the book I was continually reminded that we, as a culture, have lost sight of where our food comes from. We live in a country where the supermarkets neatly package our food and the foods we buy are ready for immediate consumption. Most food travels far to reach us- from another state or another country. At the market there is no visible connection to the earth that grew our potatoes or the tree that gave us our apple. Michael Pollan describes America as suffering from what can only be described as a national eating disorder.
What are your favorite green books?
Disclosure: There are a few affiliate links in this post which if used to purchase the books will put a few pennies in my pocket. Thanks!
March 14th, 2013
Under my kitchen sink there’s an entire arsenal of non-toxic cleaning products. It didn’t happen over-night. It’s been a gradual switch, as things ran out they were replaced with a non-toxic alternative. Some of my favorite non-toxic cleaning products are from Better Life. I’ve mentioned Better Life before and told you that I’m an official blogger for the company. This essentially means that I get to test out some of their products and share with you my honest opinion.
Created by two dads, Better Life has come up with a line of non-toxic cleaning products that keep kids, pets and the planet safe. And their ingredients are actually all listed on the label. Something you don’t always see on cleaning products since manufacturers are NOT required to list all ingredients.
Here are a few Better Life products that were put to the Groovy Green Livin test.
I have to admit that I’ve been wiping my computer screen for years with a damp cloth. It’s not ideal since there are plenty of streaks left behind. Green Screenis a natural screen cleaner that’s alcohol and ammonia free with no fragrance or coloring. Just a few squirts and my laptop is dust and fingerprint free. Green Screen can be used on LED,LCD, Plasma, tablets and smartphones. I even used a squirt on my glasses.
Take it for Granite
We have neglected granite countertops in our kitchen. I’m extremely careful and only use non-toxic products when cleaning them since food is more often than not in direct contact with the counters. Take It for Granite is a natural countertop cleaner and a great solution. It has a lovely, fresh scent that probably comes from the plant derived ingredients, since synthetic fragrances aren’t used in any of their products.There’s no streaking and no buildup from this product.
Natural Stain & Odor Eliminator
I’ve been using this product a lot. We have a 13 year old lab and pet messes happen. I love that it works on all fabric, carpets and flooring. I’m getting ready to test it out on all the spring sports gear in our house. I’ll keep you posted on whether or not it can handle the challenge of grass stains on baseball pants.
2am Miracle Green Nursery Cleaner
Spray. Wipe. Go back to sleep. 2am Miracle would have been well used when my kids were babies. This is a safe nursery cleaner made for cleaning everything-cribs, car seats, walls and diaper pails. It can also be used as a pre-spotter for clothing, bibs sheets and cloth diapers. It has a lavender scent that smells wonderful. Since we are nursery free over here I wasn’t able to do a nursery test, but I did try it out in my son’s bedroom. I gave everything a much needed wipe down.
Have you tried Better Life products? Which are your favorites?
Disclosure: Better Life sent me free samples of each of these products for review in exchange for my honest opinion. There are a few affiliate links in this post.
March 8th, 2013
Ceramic cookware has been on my radar for a while. Pots and pans in my kitchen are slowly being replaced with safer alternatives and ceramic pots happen to be on the ‘healthy pots and pans‘ list. Most of my non-stick Teflon is gone- I may have a few cake pans hiding behind other pans that still need to go. My search for safe, non-toxic pots and pans in ongoing.
Over the weekends my husband has been creating amazing soups and stews that we’re able to eat throughout the week. He would be a perfect camp chef. He cooks in bulk. Always has. We have a few big pots and pans, but none compare to the size of the Xtrema 10 Quart Ceramic Dutch Oven by Ceramcor. This is one massive pot, perfect for soups and stews.
The Xtrema line of cookware comes in all different shapes and sizes. I might have to try out the Xtrema Ceramic 3 1/2 qt. Saucepot & lid or the 10” Ceramic Skillet with Cover next.
Here are a few things I really like about the Xtrema line of pots and pans:
- All of their products that can go from the stove top to the oven to the broiler to the microwave, to the toaster oven to the table and then to the refrigerator, to the freezer and finally to the dishwasher. Metal cookware just can’t do that.
- These pans are truly non-scratch. Even when you scrub the pan not a scratch can be found.
- The pots and pans are 100% ceramic with no metals (that’s why it can go into the microwave).
- When exposed to high temperatures the cookware doesn’t crack or lose its shape.
- Extremely safe cookware. They contain no PFOA coating, produce no PFOA gas or odors and contain no heavy metals, lead or cadmium.
- Since there are no metals or lead in the cookware there’s no risk of leaching toxic chemicals or heavy metals into your foods.
- The company has done extensive leaching testing on their cookware; the pans leach no lead and cadmium or any heavy metals of any kind and meet all California Prop 65 Testing Standards. They publish their test results on their web site! Talk about true transparency!
Bottom line: The Xtrema 10 Quart Ceramic Dutch Oven is a heavy pot, but in its defense it’s also huge. The smaller pots and pans in the Xtrema line might be more manageable. I love that these pots and pans can go in the dishwasher, on the stove top and in the oven. Since I use this pot for soups and stews I wasn’t able to test out the non-stick features of Xtrema pans.
Overall the Xtrema line of cookware is a fantastic, non-toxic and safe alternative to add to your kitchen. THUMBS UP.
Disclosure: I was sent a Xtrema 10 Quart Ceramic Dutch Oven by Ceramcor for review. The opinions are my very own. There are a few affiliate links in this post. Any purchases made through the links will put a few pennies in my pocket. Thanks!
March 1st, 2013
Organic bedding in a child’s bedroom seems a bit extravagant. Well it did at first, but then I changed my mind. Here’s why.
Why chose organic bedding?
If you’re on a green journey you probably spend a lot of time searching for non-toxic personal care products and safe foods to eat. With almost 1/3 of our lives spent in bed, what we have in our bedrooms does affect us.
Many conventional bedding options contain formaldehyde and chemical dyes. Not good. Especially since most children spend a lot of time in their beds. My kids read in bed and they are just starting to sleep late. As teenagers I’m sure they’ll be in their beds a lot if they take after their mom or dad.
Organic bedding doesn’t contain any of the chemicals that regular bedding has.
Organically produced goods must be produced without the use of:
- Synthetic hormones
- Genetic engineering
- Other excluded practices
- Sewage sludge
I recently tested out organic bedding from another company that ended up on my bed. As I mentioned, I’m slowly replacing old sheets with organic bedding. My next move was to find an organic sheet set for my kids. The timing was perfect when ettitude asked me to test out a sheet set.
Ettitude is an Australian based company founded by Phoebe Yu. She launched the shop in 2008 with the vision of making eco conscious living easy, affordable, and rewarding through a convenient online shopping environment.
The site isn’t limited to organic bedding. Ettitude sells bath towels, clothing and accessories, eco gifts and much more. I’ll be reviewing and giving away some of their bamboo socks in a few weeks!
Ettitude Organic Bamboo Sheets
Ettitude’s organic bedding arrived in a cotton reusable bag that I’ve been using ever since as a produce bag.
The sheets are unbelievably soft. So soft that I have to admit that I want them on my bed! They are made from 100% bamboo and are true 300 thread count. According to their site: “Bamboo fabric can adjust to your body temperature, all of our bamboo bedding has very fast natural wicking abilities that allow it to be 3-4 times more absorbent than other fabrics”
Bamboo is a renewable resource, capable of regenerating without replanting.
If you like soft, luxurious sheets these are for you. My son comments every night on how soft his sheets are.
Be prepared to fork over a few bucks for these sheets. They’re not inexpensive. Depending upon the size of your bed the sheets can range from $152 for a single bed set up to $203 for a king bed sheet set.
Do you think organic bedding is worth the cost?
Photo credit © Sue Scarfe #6508977
Disclosure: I received a set of organic bamboo sheets from Ettitude for review. The opinions are my very own.