Squarebar

Squarebar is a gluten, dairy, and soy free organic protein bar sweetened with low glycemic coconut nectar available in three flavors: Cocoa Almond, Cocoa Crunch, and Cocoa Coconut.

Squarebar is packed with 11-12 grams of protein, which makes it a great go-to snack! The best part (in my opinion) is that each bar is totally covered in chocolate!

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Squarebar began in the San Francisco kitchen of husband and wife Sarah & Andrew Gordon. After battling asthma most all her life, Sarah discovered that eliminating inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, soy, and processed sugars freed her from medication. It’s been more than five years since her last attack, and she no longer keeps an inhaler in the house.”

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Squarebar launched March 2012 at Natural Products Expo West and is now nationally distributed… growth built on our belief that Ingredients Matter Most . [Squarebar] sources only the most nutrient-dense organic and non-gmo foods, and work directly with farmers to ensure an ethical path from crop to bar.”

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Review: These bars are addicting! I am a huge chocolate lover, so these are perfect for when I want [need] chocolate! The Cocoa Crunch is my favorite variety because it is chocolate to the max, all the way through. Cocoa Coconut reminds me a super healthy version of an Almond Joy Bar. The coconut flavor is not too overwhelming. Cocoa Almond is a great nut and chocolate combination. I liked how there were not huge chunks of almond. These bars also didn’t have a “protein-bar” taste. Upon my first bite, I was hesitant if there was going to be a funky aftertaste, but there was not!

IMG_8885.JPGThank you to Squarebar for sending me a sample! And as a special treat to all my lovely readers, Sarah created an exclusive discount code! Please enter the code “cottagehouse” at the end of checkout for 20% OFF +FREE DOMESTIC SHIPPING!!

xoxo Rachel

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Salted Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Salted Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies. Please. The name is enough to make my taste buds tingle. Dark chocolate and salt are probably two of my [many] baking addictions. They work together. The salt brings out the deep richness of the chocolate, and the chocolate…well it’s chocolate!

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As the name suggests, these Salted Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies remind me more of a truffle than a cookie. (That’s perfectly alright with me). IMG_9120.JPG

I find that when I’m busy making treats that I forget to snap many photos. My apologies. But as you tell by the batter, it is SUPER thick. The cookies turn out moist and gooey on the inside (sort of like a molten lava cake…but not that extreme), and a bit crisp on the outside (that’s why they have that gorgeous crinkle look to them). IMG_7032.JPGBittersweet chocolate is key. Don’t skimp on chocolate. (That should already be a rule without saying). Regardless, if you aren’t ready for a mouthful of deep, dark, salted, truffle, cookie monster, goodness then…you probably should have stopped reading this post ages ago! If you’re daring enough for the recipe, you can find it here.

xoxo Rachel

 

Be Healthy, Energized and Bright with Coromega

Coromega generously provided me with a sample of their non-GMO Superfood oil blend. So what is it? Well, it is a gluten free, dairy free, vegan daily boost of a creamy plant-based blend of chia, avocado, black cumin, coconut, and hemp superfood oils.

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Essentially, Coromega has taken the guesswork out of how to fit in all the healthiest and beneficial superfood oils into your daily healthy living routine. Coromega has blended the best of the best Non-GMO, cold press and unrefined superfood oils into one daily boost. Each serving (2 teaspoons) delivers:

  • Omega-3, 6 and 9
  • Powerful antioxidants
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Metabolism boost
  • Increased energy and vitality
  • Natural detoxifier

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Review: I was leery of trying this non-GMO superfood oil blend because I was apprehensive of how it would taste; afterall, it is an oil blend. To my pleasant surprise, I was mistaken. It didn’t have an oily taste! It smelled like coconut and was creamy. To me, I mainly tasted the coconut and chia seed flavors (which I like). The best part is that it is very easy to digest and easy to add to any meal. Another aspect that I am fond of is that Coromega packages its products in eco-friendly packaging. To me, I regard any company that packages their products in eco-friendly packaging with high esteem because it is more difficult to do. Overall, I rate this as an excellent product. I do recommend it to others.

A special thanks to Coromega for the opportunity to try out their new product! Look for their oil blend at your local natural foods store or purchase from Coromega directly online.

Be Healthy, Energized and Bright with Coromega.

xoxo Rachel

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Roasted Pumpkin Mushroom Onion Soup

Fall has definitely arrived, and with the season, a plethora of root vegetables are available.

What better way to enjoy the season’s bounty than by making a pumpkin soup?

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Here’s the recipe:

Preheat oven to 450F
Cut up 2 large onions and 1 baking pumpkin. Add 2 cans of sliced mushrooms. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until all veggies are tender (about 15 minutes)

Purée the veggies with some veggie broth. Put the “mash” into a large pot. Thin it out with some heavy cream and more veggie broth. Stir occasionally. Serve hot.

Xoxo Rachel

Pork Chops with Cabbage & Bacon

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 bone-in pork chops (1 inch thick)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 strips bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 head green cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds), cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set a large heavy roasting pan across two burners over high heat; add oil and heat. Season pork with salt and pepper; brown on one side, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate.

  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add bacon; cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add onion; cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add cabbage, cut side down, and cook until light golden, about 6 minutes. Flip and cook until slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Add flour and stir until coated. Add milk and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then nestle pork chops in sauce. Transfer pan to oven. Bake until pork is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

xoxo Rachel

Vega Sport Performance Protein in Vanilla

I was generously sent a package of Vega Sport Performance Protein in Vanilla from Vega!

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This protein powder is great! But I’m sure you might be wondering, “Sure, this protein powder is great…but how? What makes it different from every other protein powder?”

Here’s why:

“It’s a complete multi-source, alkaline-forming, plant-based protein powder blend, featuring 5,000mg of BCAAs and 5,000mg of glutamine per serving, Vega Sport Performance Protein is formulated to:

  • Improve strength and exercise performance
  • Repair and build muscles
  • Reduce recovery time between training

The recent innovation to Vega Sport Performance Protein comes from the addition of SaviSeed (sacha inchi) protein, a rich, plant-based source of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is a key component of serotonin production. Serotonin — the feel good hormone — helps with the mental aspect of recovery, so you’ll keep the drive alive and be motivated to train again. Take Vega Sport Performance Protein within 30 to 90 minutes of your workout or throughout the day to meet your individual protein needs to recharge and repair so you can do it all again, sooner.”

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I also made Vega’s Orange Creamsicle Smoothie! It tastes sooooo delicious!! Please try out the recipe for yourself and let me know what you think!

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That’s one of the great things about Vega Sport Performance Protein because you can add it into food! I advise you to check out Vega’s Recipe Page!! They have a wide array of fantastic, easy and delicious, recipes featuring their awesome products! You can find their recipe page here.

The other aspect of Vega I really admire is their mission:

Mission

  1. To share our passion for clean, plant-based nutrition through education and leading by example;
  2. To deliver premium, innovative, industry-leading wellness solutions to our valued customers;
  3. To live our commitment to constant improvement by pursuing perfection, one small change at a time;
  4. To foster a fulfilling, inspiring workplace for Vegatopians that’s sustainable for our people, our company, and our planet.

Isn’t that inspiring?! I think so!

So overall, I believe Vega Sport Performance Protein is an excellent addition to a healthy diet. I believe it tastes great too! And I know I’m not the only supporter! I have several guy friends that are huge whey protein drinkers (just picture the ultimate bros) and I gave them each a packet of this Vega Protein powder to try out. Most of them were very apprehensive, but they were swayed to try it because of its health properties. All of these “bros” told me they felt great after their workout and definitely want to incorporate Vega Sport Performance Protein into their workout regimes.

Please let me know your thoughts on protein powders and if you’ve ever tried Vega!! If you have not, I encourage you to try! And a special thanks to Vega for sending me a sample! You guys are the best!! 🙂

xoxo Rachel

The Cake Shop

Yes, I make cookies, brownies, cakes, etc. as a hobby of mine…but what I really want is a functioning business. Something where people call me up for an occasion.

This past week, I was given the assignment of making a cake for my client’s birthday party. She wanted a chocolate cake on the inside, and purple incorporated on the outside. The rest was up to me. So, as usual, I went all out.

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This is by far my all-time favorite, and most creative, cake. On the inside, there are layers of chocolate cake, filled with whipped chocolate ganache frosting, sliced strawberries, & strawberry preserve. The outside is vanilla buttercream I dyed various shades of purple, then “painted” on for an ombré effect. Of course, this cake would not fit my “over-the-top-chic” standard without gorgeous flowers. #CustomCake #MyLove #LooksBetterInPerson #TastesEvenBetter

Tell me what you think! Or, let me know if you’re interested in ordering a fabulous dessert of mine to make your party extra special.

Xoxo
Rachel

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Amazing Grass Review

Amazing Grass sent me an abundant assortment of their organic green superfoods to sample and review! Included in my fantastic package were some whole food energy bars, raw plant-based nutritional supplement drink packets, and a functional Amazing Grass logo shaker cup.

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So here’s a great little intro to what Amazing Grass is all about: “Amazing Grass Green SuperFood allows you to get the best nutrition any time of day, everyday. We’ve hand selected the most nutritious vibrant vegetables, cereal grasses, algae, anti-oxidant rich fruits probiotics and immune boosting support herbs and created a delicious tasting powder that can be mixed easily with water. For those that haven’t acquired the taste for greens, we’re confident your taste buds will love our Amazing Grass Green SuperFood!”

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What I really like about Amazing Grass is that most of their products are vegan. Additionally all of their greens are raw. Several of their products are gluten-free, soy-free, and kosher. To top it off, they are all USDA certified organic!

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Of the bars, my favorite was the Chocolate Peanut Butter. Not surprisingly, my favorite Amazing Meal was Chocolate Infusion. Hey, I have a thing for chocolate…
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I even tested out a fun smoothie recipe featured on Amazing Grass website:Kelly’s Kiwi Berry Blast Smoothie; it can be found here.

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Review: If you’re looking for drinks and energy bars that taste like a treat – this is not for you. Although the flavors are not “I-just-ate-raw-kale-in-liquid-form-yuck” they aren’t “I-just-had-a-chocolate-milkshake-but-they-told-it-was-healthy-so-whatever” either. With that being said, I’d say this is the best product for getting your dose of nutrients and antioxidants in a flavorful way without loads of sugar.

xoxo Rachel

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream is quite a common flavor these days – but only thanks to an anonymous suggestion to Ben & Jerry’s in 1991. Since then, virtually every ice cream parlor has the iconic “chocolate chip cookie dough.”

Several people are scared off by the thought of making homemade ice cream, but I assure you, there is nothing to fret over. It’s actually really, really, easy. I promise. I also promise you that all your dinner party guests will be begging you for the name of the NYC ice cream parlor you ordered it from…it’s that good.

xoxo Rachel

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America’s Test Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookies

Most every recipe I try from America’s Test Kitchen is a winner in my opinion. One thing that stuck out in this recipe is that you add an egg yolk. This is a little trick. It makes the cookies chewy and gooey. The outer edges are still a little crunchy as well. These cookies are nonetheless good, but to be frank, they are not my favorite chocolate chip cookie.

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I’m featuring these on my blog because I do believe they add to my varied list of cookies in my recipe index (most of my cookies being chocolate chip cookies – can you spot my favoritism?). Anyway, for some of you, maybe this is the chocolate chip cookie recipe you’ve been waiting your entire life for!

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Question: What’s your favorite type of homemade or store-bought cookie?

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xoxo Rachel

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GoodBelly

I took the 12 Day Challenge with GoodBelly, and I was so impressed! For 12 consecutive days, GoodBelly challenges you to drink one 8 oz. glass of their probiotic juice a day. GoodBelly is so confident you’ll fall in love, they even promise to give you a refund if you aren’t satisfied. Needless to say, I was completely satisfied.

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So what is GoodBelly? It’s a USDA certified organic vegan, dairy-free, soy-free, and kosher blend of fruit juices containing a probiotic used for digestive health.

I must admit, I was skeptical. I thought this drink would taste disgusting. But boy was I wrong! The juice tasted so good!! I actually wanted to drink it!! After 12 days, (even before then) my stomach felt so good. I felt less bloating and stomach discomfort (common issues of mine) due to drinking GoodBelly. My market offered the pomegranate blackberry and blueberry acai flavors, so I chose them. GoodBelly makes other flavors as well, and also has individual servings if you prefer to drink it that way! 🙂

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And of course, don’t forget to check out GoodBelly’s fun blog here for cool recipes.

REVIEW: I really liked the way GoodBelly tasted, and it also made my stomach feel great! Taking the 12 Day Challenge was definitely worth it to me.

xoxo Rachel

So I don’t typically write ekphrastic poetry because I feel it cements the reader to only one vision. Although, in this particular instance, I feel it will benefit the reader to see the photograph which inspired me to write this piece. My greatest goal, generally speaking, is to create works that allow the reader to have multiple interpretations. So please, tell me your interpretations, how you feel, and what you see.

xoxo Rachel

 

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Independence Day

As the Nation celebrates the fourth of July with stars and stripes, fireworks, and songs, keep in mind how free we really are today. Every American should be grateful for his/her freedom in this country, I am not dismissing that. However, we must acknowledge a greater picture, quite frankly, a question. I want you to question your freedom. Question your political leaders, question your medical providers, question your schooling, question your food. How free are you? Do you have a voice? Can you change what services you are being provided? Can you change how your food is being produced? You have a voice, but does it really have an effect if you dissent?

Currently, I am pursing a collegiate degree, thus I am quite aware of tuition prices, scholarships, and financial aid “awards.” Needless to say, the costs are astronomical and I receive no relief due to various government stipulations (but that’s another discussion). Either way, the point of me stating this is not to be bitter. I chose an alternative, a less expensive school. However, not many kids do this – later they leave with over 100K plus in loans. Is this the definition of freedom? College education was designed to benefit you – to turn you into an educated scholar – but leave you with enough money to function. I am not denying education is essential. Everyone deserves the right to an education. I believe education is a confidence builder, a product of human ingenuity, and a tool for creating a bigger, better, and brighter future. Yet, after college many graduates face a bleak future; a future filled with debt.

Our food system…it’s quite clever. In the 1970s something dramatic happened. Scientists realized high fructose corn syrup could be added to food to create a sweetening effect similar to sugar. But here’s the kicker, it was way less expensive. Soon, high fructose corn syrup took over. Today it dominates the food industry. Lunch meats, breads, crackers – products you would never normally imagine containing the stuff is a norm. Why are so many people suffering from weight gain, diabetes, illness, stomach issues, skin issues, food intolerances, allergies, etc.? Since the 1970s these health issues have risen dramatically. Is there a link?

I know a midwife who is fighting to keep her ability to provide gestational care to expectant mothers, and to deliver their babies. Midwifery dates back to Egyptian times – it’s nothing new. It provides natural and holistic care. Yet, states do not like midwives. Why? It’s outside the government-funded hospital. Hospitals make money. They are a business. Midwives, essentially, are pulling money away from the hospitals when expectant mothers choose to use a midwife over an obgyn. Is this freedom?

Now I am not a PhD psychologist or anything, but there’s this psychological mechanism that teaches obedience. After repeated instances of striking your cat for clawing on the sofa, not long after, when you raise your hand to him/her, he/she is frightened and does not do the undesirable act of clawing the sofa. You didn’t even have to strike the cat at that point, but the desired result follows.

Is the same true for us? We are free…but how free? We speak out, but if our opinions are different – the people in charge raise their hand, and the dissent is silenced. Look at the examples I just gave: schooling, food, health – how many people have spoken out in dissent about these topics? And how many people have been silenced?

If freedom is a sound, let it ring.

xoxo Rachel

Support Your Local Farmers

Every Sunday, from 10-2, a delightful little farmers market comes to town. It’s like a magical traveling caravan – filled with all the wonders of the world. I, ‘Pandora,’ and it, ‘the box.’ Luckily, the co-op is nothing like Greek mythology, and when my curiosity strikes, only goodness escapes. From farm fresh produce, to homemade soaps, this quaint market has something for everyone! And the best part? I get to support my local farmers.

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