Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice Spaghetti Pasta: A Review

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Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice Spaghetti: A Review

Trader’s Joe’s gluten free spaghetti in my opinion is not my first choice.  I personally buy it because the cost is cheap, $1.99 and it’s organic.  Maybe I still have memories of regular glutenized spaghetti, since its only been a year…This spaghetti sticks together (as is usual with brown rice pastas), which you can remedy slightly by adding extra salt to the water.  The spaghetti is also fairly gooey.  A little goes a long way, as in you can make yourself overly full if you eat too much, since it is very dense in the rice ingredient.

Ingredients: Organic brown rice and water

Package states: Gluten-free, sodium-free, Kosher certified, USDA organic, etc.

Cost: $1.99

***If anyone has found a favorite organic gluten free spaghetti feel to share in the comments.  Thanks!

trader joe's spaghetti

-Image was taken from Google images, which came from http://nutritiontransitions.blogspot.com/2010/06/peanut-noodles-with-shredded-chicken.html  (I will replace it with my own picture soon)

 

Yummy Earth Sour Gummy Worms (Gluten free): Review

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Yummy Earth Sour Gummy Worms (Gluten free): Review

I love gummy worms, especially sour gummy worms! You are never too old for gummy worms!  If you think your are, then you are not truly living! This is my absolute favorite dessert packaged treat!  I quit eating gummy worms though, because of the nasty ingredients.  Until I discovered Yummy Earth’s gummy sour worms!  They are organic and free of high fructose corn syrup.  Made with organic fruit juice, organic brown rice syrup, and organic cane sugar to sweeten!

Taste:  They aren’t really sour, they are just super tasty and fruity!  They are covered in sugar and very addictive.  Everything you want in a gummy worm!  I notice no taste difference, personally, compared to the nasty ingredient gummy worms.

Where to buy them?  Here or here

gummy worms

Ingredients of Yummy Earth Sour Gummy Worms: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Cane Sugar, Gelatin, Natural Flavors, Organic Fruit Juice (Apple and/or Pear, Black Carrot, Pomegranate), Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Carnauba Wax.

Compare to:

Ingredients of Trollie Sour Brite Crawlers: Corn Syrup, Sugar, Gelatin, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Artificial Color (Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 5, Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1), Natural & Artificial Flavor, Fumaric Acid.

Gluten Free Banana Bread

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Gluten Free Banana Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose gluten free flourbanana bread
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (or more if desired)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 to 2.5 bananas)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or more (optional)

Directions

In bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and spices.  In another bowl or large measuring cup combine mashed banana, eggs, applesauce, vanilla, oil, and nuts.  Stir wet ingredients into bowl of dry ingredients and mix well.

Use a 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan.  Well oil the pan (easiest to use coconut oil for non sticking).  Preheat and bake at 350 F for 45-60 minutes, or until inserting toothpick and it comes out clean (or use a small butter knife).  Remove from pan and place on cooling rack or plate.  Cut loaf and enjoy!

banana bread 2

 

Product Review: Organic Baby Clothes at Costco

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Costco: Organic Baby Clothes!

I was just was at Costco about a week ago, and so excited when I saw that they now carry (at least at my Costco) organic baby sleepwear!  Every time I go to Costco I browse through the baby clothes just to see what they have at a reasonable deal.  I only bought one 3 month sleeper for my son (who is not born yet), but will buy more in the future, as they carry several more designs and sizes; I believe up to 24 months if I am not mistaken.

Why organic sleepwear?  Oftentimes, baby sleepwear is coated in flame retardant, which we all know is not good for anyone despite what the FDA likes to promote.  Flame retardant in sleepwear might prevent fire, but so does using less chemicals in sleepwear.  In fact wool by itself is often used as a flame retardant (which is why it is used in place of flame retardants in organic mattresses).  But enough about that…

Cost: $7.99

The material is very soft, 100% organic cotton, and in my opinion very cute!  It seems to be very durable!  The review will continue when our little guy is born and wears it.

baby clothes organic 1Baby clothes 2 Organic

Baby Clothes 3 organic

Why should you help the poor? Why should you care?

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Why should we help the poor you might ask? Isn’t the government doing that for me, don’t they take care of everyone’s problems? Let me ask you, do you think the government is? Are there less people today that are poor than there were 50 years ago? I can say with a resounding “no,” our poverty rate today is about 16% and 1965 it was about 14%. Why have we failed the poor? I personally think it is for a combination of reasons: 1) We are enabling the “capable poor” by providing them with free money, i.e. incentives to not work 2) We are not meeting the poor where they are, i.e. why are they poor? What is the main issue that is making them poor and how can we help 3) We consistently throw money at the problem.

What can we do as citizens? Well again, personally I believe it was never the government’s job to babysit and take care of people as it does. By doing this the government restricts our freedom when they play a “Papa role” (but I won’t get into that right now). I believe it was our job as human beings to help each other, I believe it was our charity that should sustain the poor (however, our charity seems to have faltered in the last few decades). I believe if we regained our respect and responsibility for one another there would be less poor because instead of throwing money at them, we would be helping them were they are. But probably that will never happen again, not in this country, at least not for a long time. In the meantime, we can still do what we can to help and not enable.

How can we help? There are after school volunteer programs for children who needing a helping hand, someone to talk to, and help with their homework, which will allow for them to make better choices in life. It will allow for these children to break the cycle of poverty, understanding and getting the help early on to change the course and direction of their future to live a productive life. There are also programs that non profits run that are looking for donations of clothes, furniture, food, cars, etc. There are hundreds of programs apart from the government that need our support, which really do meet the poor where they are and help rather than hinder.

Another question you might ask is why should we help the poor in other countries? Don’t we have enough problems here? Yes perhaps, we do have many problems here. But tell me this: do our children live in gutters, on streets, do they shine shoes, are they forced to become a part of militant armies, are they starving to death? Oh, perhaps you might be able to find children here and there that this is happening to here. The difference in the United States is that when this is discovered we are outraged and we arrest the people responsible or put the children in safe homes (or at least as safe as we believe them to be). While, I may believe our stance to poverty is incorrect, I do believe that in most respects we do care. Whereas in other countries people do not care for one another, either because they have no capacity to care or they too impoverished themselves to spare very much help to others.

So again, why should we care about the poor in other countries? Tell me: If you were so impoverished you could barely feed yourself or your children and you lived in an unsafe area (yet there were no safe areas to move to even if you could afford it), and your child was kidnapped and sold as a slave. Wouldn’t you want to move heaven and earth to find your child? Or what if your child was starving. Wouldn’t you want the food that would be the simple solution to your child’s problem? Wouldn’t you do anything for your child? What if you couldn’t? What if there was no help? Yet you knew there were people in other parts of the world living in luxury with a car, food in their house, medical care, and even a house to sleep in. Would you not feel sad and hurt that no one would help you, when a few dollars would literally spare their life? Yet we flippantly go to Starbucks everyday, with not a thought to the thousands, the millions that cannot even afford a loaf of bread? We scoff at the poor in other countries, thinking, “surely it is their fault.” Really? We have sunk so low that we think that since we were born into luxury that we are superior to those that were born to poverty and have no way out. No fancy education that could save them, no food stamps that could feed them, and certainly no soup kitchen down the street. There is literally no way out that could save them, no government program, NOTHING. We were born to luxury whether we believe that or not; just because you do not have as much as a Hollywood celebrity does not mean you in any way are poor. You or I could have been born to a different situation in life, one that meant poverty and starvation, and you better hope that someone would have been so kind to offer you help when we are ourselves offer so little help when we have so much. With great power comes great responsibility. And we have the power to help. And one day we will be held responsible for our lack of care or charity.

Sources:
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/jul/29/bill-oreilly/bill-oreilly-says-poverty-hasnt-budged-1965-despit/; http://www.npr.org/2012/08/04/158141728/how-americas-losing-the-war-on-poverty

Compassion International Sponsorship Program: A Review

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Compassion International is a Christian charity organization that allows the public to sponsor a child in poverty, in a foreign country.  Compassion allows you to pick your child to sponsor.  You can pick your child by region, longest waiting child, oldest child, youngest child, country, etc.  The cost to you is $38 monthly, which you can pay by check or credit card.  You also have the convenience of having the $38 withdrawn from your credit card or bank account automatically each monthly, so you child never misses the much needed assistance he or she needs.

Let’s see what Compassion’s website states:

Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

Founded by the Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952, Compassion began providing Korean War orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training.

Today, Compassion helps more than 1.2 million children in 26 countries.

What specific benefits will the child I sponsor receive?

The child you sponsor through Compassion will receive opportunities and services that most of the world’s poorest children will simply never see. These opportunities and services include the following:

  • The opportunity to receive an education:In some cases, this means providing the cost of school fees, clothing and supplies. In other cases, it means providing tutoring, help with homework, encouragement and, if necessary, participation in a literacy program outside the classroom. Your Compassion sponsorship will allow one special child to stay in school longer if formal schooling is an option and get the most out of his or her education.
  • The opportunity to be healthy:The health of the child you sponsor will be monitored and care will be provided as needed. Children are taught about hygiene and how to maintain personal health. In addition, and according to their needs, many Compassion children receive supplementary food.
  • The opportunity to develop self-confidence and social skills:The child you support will be part of a church-based program where Christian adults offer love, guidance, personal attention, guided recreation and safety.
  • The opportunity to hear the gospel and learn about Jesus:Most important, your Compassion sponsorship provides the child you sponsor with regular Bible training and encouragement through a local church committed to Christ and the children in its community.

What does charitynavigator.org say about Compassion?

Score (out of 70) Rating
FYE 06/2012
Overall 65.35 4 stars
  Financial 63.43 4 stars
  Accountability & Transparency 70.00 4 stars

Income Statement     (FYE 06/2012)

REVENUE
Contributions
   Contributions, Gifts & Grants $595,760,176
   Federated Campaigns $322,829
   Membership Dues $0
   Fundraising Events $0
   Related Organizations $0
   Government Grants $0
Total Contributions $596,083,005
   Program Service Revenue $0
Total Primary Revenue $596,083,005
   Other Revenue $2,715,435
TOTAL REVENUE $598,798,440
EXPENSES
   Program Expenses $493,290,589
   Administrative Expenses $39,276,737
   Fundraising Expenses $52,527,975
TOTAL FUNCTIONAL EXPENSES $585,095,301
Payments to Affiliates $0
Excess (or Deficit) for the year $13,703,139
Net Assets $185,636,455

My opinion: Normally I might not give my opinion on an organization (but simply state facts and information about and organization), but since I sponsor a child through Compassion, I have first hand experience.  I absolutely stand by this organization and know and believe that they do great things.  I get monthly newsletter’s about my child.  One month I received a picture that my child had drawn, prayer requests from my child, an update on a basic doctor’s visit as well as improvement that needed to be made, etc.  I can write to my child anytime that I would like to and send stickers, etc.  At any time, I can donate extra money specifically for my child or specifically for her family and 100% of that specific donation will go to her, not administration costs.  Compassion International actually encourages you to take a trip to visit your child at any time.  I pleased that the child I sponsor is growing up in an environment through the child development center and church she goes to, (which is paid by my sponsorship) in which she is taught that she is special and loved by God.  That while she may not be taught it at home, through the program she is taught the love of Christ.

For those that are not Christians, you might ask “why is this organization important when the teaching of Christ is not important to me?”  To be specific, there are very few charity organizations, despite what they say, that more that 80% of donations go to the actual cause and less than 20% go to administration costs. Compassion is also listed on CharityNavigator’s list of 10 Charities with the Most Consecutive 4-Star Ratings.  Compassion offers their full financial report online to view, which is often something charities despite being law to make this available, make it difficult to locate.  Secondly, Compassion focuses on the core problems and solutions that other secular organizations attempt to fund, which includes medical care, education, and irradiation of poverty.  Yes, the Gospel is taught to these children.  But I would think that to those that are not Christian, you would rather these children grow up feeling and knowing they are loved despite it not being with the specific religious philosophy you agree with.  Or another way to look at it is, these children might have their survival needs met as well as medical care and education, but not their emotional needs and feelings of self worth.  One day when these children phase out of the charity because of age, without being taught that God is always with them and will always love them; they be stuck back at square one again.  Remember these children are undervalued, underprivileged, often abused, and do not grow up in a society where they are told they are worth something.  Therefore, the Gospel, whether you agree with it being taught or not provides the emotional support and sense of self worth these children need when they no longer have the support of a charity organization to fund them.

 

Gluten free calzones!

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Gluten Free Calzone Recipe

(In the future, i.e. when I make these next I will provide step by step pictures.  I apologize for not having them, but I will soon!)

Dough Recipe:

1/2 tsp yeast

1 tsp sugar

4 tbsp water

1 3/4 cup all purpose gluten free flour

3 eggs

1/2 tbsp oil

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

pinch of salt

3 tbsp sugar

Directions: Warm up the 4 tbsp water to about 100 to 110 degrees (I just use a very sanitized meat thermometer to check the temperature).  Place the 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp yeast in small bowl, pouring warm water over it.  Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes until foamy.

Use your food processor with the dough attachment.  Put in flour, eggs, oil, vinegar, salt, sugar and mix.  Add the yeast mixture as well.

Knead dough for 5 minutes.

Roll out dough.  This will make about 8 small calzones. The easiest way to roll out the dough is to put the dough between 2 parchment papers and then use a rolling pin to roll the dough out, constantly flipping the dough over until you get the desired thinness you would like.  (Keep in mind, this does not really rise).

Filling Recipe:

1 cup Italian shredded cheese (more or less depending on how much you like)

1 package of pepperoni chopped (Make sure it is gluten free. I use Applegate Pepperoni)

1 jar of pizza sauce

1/2 to 1 cup of sautéed onions

1/2 to 1/4 cup chopped olives (optional)

1/2 cup sautéed mushrooms (optional)

Directions: Place all ingredients in saucepan and warm. (Do a taste test to make sure you like the filling to find out if according to your taste it is missing an ingredient; maybe it is not saucy enough for you, so add more sauce.  When in a pinch add tomato sauce, with extra seasonings, i.e. basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, etc.).

Final Directions: Place about a tbsp or more of the filling (depending on how much the dough is capable of holding and closing with) on each rolled out dough circle.  Add more cheese, if desired, before closing the dough and pinching together.

Preheat oven to 375. Place finished and closed calzones together on oiled cookie sheet with foil.  Coat/brush the tops of the calzones with egg and melted butter.  Cook for about 15 minutes, usually until you see the tops of them to start to slightly brown because of the egg that is coated on top.  Note: Cooking time will vary oven to oven, it may be more or less).

Take them out of the oven and serve with marinara sauce (or spaghetti sauce) to dip them in.  Enjoy!

Let me know what you think!  : ) I will continually modify the dough recipe until I completely approve of it, and will let you know if anything changes!

Inconsiderate Comments~Pregnancy Rant

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Inconsiderate Comments

***Please note: Inconsiderate comments are a part of everyday life, it is human nature to speak before we think.  We all have put our foot in our mouth and have said the wrong thing and offended someone; especially in today’s world were almost everything we say is censored and could get us in trouble.  For the most part, all the comments I have disliked and listed below come from people that have good intentions in what they say, but they just may not realize how what they say really come’s across to a new and excited mom.

The question I have is, do people simply have a super negative view of children today or do they think everyone that has a child is an idiot?

Here’s some background: I am 6 months pregnant and my husband and are so thrilled to have our first child!  But the comments that we get when we tell people that I am pregnant (that we would think would also be happy for us) are very offensive at times.  Now, I am not one of those that people that get offended at every little thing… But really, what would be really nice is if people said congratulations and left it at that if they cannot think of anything else supportive.  I mean really, we are stable, happily married, responsible, I’m finished with college, etc.

Comment 1: “Did you ask you mother?  What does she think?”

-First of all my parents are always supportive of my decisions, as well as kind and loving.  Second of all, what does my mother have to do with me having a baby?  Am I not a 25 year old adult, completely capable of making wise choices?  Is this not between my husband and I?  When I told my mother about this comment she said (paraphrased of course) “Your decisions are your decisions, I am very happy for you, but even if I was not, it is not up to me nor is it any of my business.” (Go Mom!)

Comment 2: “A baby is a lot of work.”

-What I would like to say, but of course never will is:  “Really?  I thought you could put a baby in a closet by himself and little fairies will take care of him.  A sigh of surprise.  Well, I never knew I could not do that, surely you are mistaken.”  Come on, you really feel the need to tell me that?!  Of course babies are a lot of hard work.  They cannot feed themselves, change their own diapers, keep themselves clean, self soothe, etc.  They are fragile little human beings!  Human beings are a lot of work, in fact I am still a lot of work!

Comment 3: “A baby will change your life and your relationship.”

-What?  Again, you really need to tell me this?  Are you insinuating my relationship with my husband is not strong enough?  Of course it will change our relationship, as well as add to it.  Of course we won’t have that much alone time any longer.  It will be different.  We will have the same amount of time together, the difference is we will be spending it together with our son, admiring and loving him together, rather than “alone.”  And later on life, when our baby is a little older and I can trust someone enough to babysit (which is a rare find, so far away from home that I am), well than once a month we can go on a date night.  We decided to have a child because we wanted to share the overflowing love we have with each other, with a child as his parents.

What happened to just “congratulations, I am so happy for you?”

 

baby blessing

Realistically, when all is said and done in regards to my opinions of the comments that truly actually hurt me; what should we really say and do?  Nothing but nod and smile.  For as the Bible says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12: 18

Annie’s Homegrown Mac N’ Cheese vs. Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Mac N’ Cheese

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annie'sTrader Joe's

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie’s Rice and Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese Vs. Trader Joe’s Rice Cheddar & Pasta

Who does not like macaroni and cheese?  Just because gluten is off limits does not mean that you cannot enjoy a bowl of “good old” mac n’ cheese; as long as it is gluten free!  In fact in my house, this is a go to meal when I just feel too tired or do not feel like cooking.

Annie’s and Trader Joe’s mac n’ cheese are very similar.  In my opinion I do not prefer one over the other.  Both brands are gluten free and GMO free.  As with all rice pasta’s, it has a slightly nutty flavor to go along with it.  Annie’s mac n’ cheese texture is more gooey than Trader Joe’s.  Trader Joe’s mac n’ cheese is a more firmer pasta, and in my opinion slightly more cheesy.  However, all in all I think they are just as good, but I just love mac n’ cheese in general!

Cost: Annie’s gluten free mac n’ cheese if your lucky and find it at Target will cost you $2.04, otherwise at a regular supermarket it costs $4 and up.  Trader Joe’s gluten free mac n’ cheese is only $1.99.

*As soon as I buy a box of Trader Joe’s mac n’ cheese again, I will be sure to post a product picture.