Rebel Kitchen's dairy-free Mylk

 No, it's not quite milk. But it sure does look and taste like it. Except for Rebel Kitchen's newest flavor: Chai Mylk – an organic coconut milk drink with a chai spice blend.
And it's definitely chai-oriented. It was an instantly recognizable chai flavor that woke up my taste buds. And as strange as it tasted, I finished the whole drink within a couple minutes. “It's delicious!” I thought.
Here's it's bio: A treat reminiscent of an Indian chai. Made with organic coconut milk, organic cacao, organic date nectar, filtered water and organic spices cardamom, cinnamon, and turmeric.    
The new Chai Milk flavor debuted at the Fancy Food show, making it brand-spanking new to the market. But for those of you who aren't familiar with the Rebel Kitchen brand, here's a little background from its press release:
“Rebel Kitchen (Rebel-Kitchen.com) is here to get people excited about food through its ridiculously tasty snacks made from simple ingredients, direct from nature.
Rebel Kitchen knows that being healthy isn’t about bland or boring food. It’s about enjoyment and having fun. Rebel Kitchen first launched with its innovative range of coconut mylks in the UK in January 2014, and so began the brand’s mission; to start creating healthier, delicious tasting alternatives to everyone’s favorite snacks.
Rebel Kitchen was created to be an honest, health-focused brand with broad, mainstream appeal; not another niche brand that simply preaches to the converted.”
That sounds like a brand that I can get behind! The product's ingredients are sound as well: All mylks contain a base of three simple ingredients; organic coconut milk, filtered water and organic date nectar. The mylks are Non-GMO certified and dairy, gluten and soy free. They contain no refined sugar, additives or preservatives. Mylks are suitable for vegans and those following a paleo diet.
Of course, other delicious and more mainstream flavors to try:
Chocolate Mylk – A healthy superfood alternative to satisfy those chocolate cravings. Made with organic coconut milk, organic cacao, organic date nectar and filtered water.
Coffee Mylk – A healthy way to enjoy a coffee fix. Made with organic coconut milk, organic date nectar, filtered water and organic coffee.
Learn more about Rebel Kitchen at Rebel-Kitchen.com.

                                                         

Peanut Butter Wings

OK, there’s no healthy spin on this one; I’ve tried, it’s impossible. 
You need embrace Peanut Butter Wings with the full, intentional notion that this is your indulgence, your reward for a hard day’s work, your blissful moment of splendor. And when you take that first bite, it’s everything I just said and more. 
A ruffled salty potato chip slathered with gobs of creamy peanut butter and then dipped in milk chocolate. Need I say more? I think not. 
And they don’t go easy on the peanut butter, either. It’s a fantastically rich experience that make your eyes pop out a little when you realize what you’ve gotten yourself into. Half way through one chip and I melted; all the stresses of the day faded and it was just me and my Wings for a blissful 2 minutes. Then I sinned: I got up to have another. So that’s 4 minutes. OK, and then another. Count ‘em, 6 minutes of true bliss and then vowing to walk an extra block tomorrow.                                             
These things are unique, and they’re fun! I gave the rest to my mom, for fear I might eat the whole box one night, and she was an instant fan as well. “It’s a potato chip!” she exclaimed. “How clever!” She said she's like to see a caramel version. I'd, personally, like to taste more salt; but then again, no one is complaining here. 
The Peanut Butter Wings come in an 8-ounce box that’s more narrow on the bottom yet stands up on its own. It’s bright red colors and picture of the familiar potato chip wrapped in peanut butter and chocolate screams “I’m a fun gift for anyone, any occasion!” It’s definitely a memorable gift, too, because it’s so unique; I haven’t seen anything like them. And I keep going back to that potato chip – it’s genius; it’s a different take on something that everyone knows and everyone loves. 
The Wings come in a full case of 18 retail-ready containers or a half case of nine. They’re produced by – what goes better with wings? – the Chocolate Pizza Company, and owner Ryan Novak says they’re an instant traffic-driver to his retail store. Customers become instant fans, he said, and they just have to share the novelty snack with their friends. 
The company is most notably known for its candy-topped gourmet chocolate pizzas – they are 16 ounces of a rich milk and dark chocolate blend with add-ons like English toffee and served in a customer pizza box. They are truly unique gifts, of course, and are sold wholesale with four pizzas to a corrugated retail-ready case. But, he says, people often come into his retail store to specifically ask about the Wings (and, obviously, to buy two or three).
“The Wings are a very unique gift item that creates an almost instant customer fan club,” he said. 
Novak bought the Chocolate Pizza Company in 2010 at the age of 21, and he has quadrupled sales since then. Now his wholesale division caters to more than 6,000 stores nationwide.  
The Food Network made both the Chocolate Pizza Co. and its Peanut Butter Wings famous when they featured the product on the hit show, “Unwrapped” as a unique, delicious and impressive gift idea. That paved the way for the construction of a brand-new 10,000-square-foot production and retail facility to handle its explosive growth.
“In five years, we have gone from a small-town chocolate shop to an emerging national brand,” Novak said. “You can get a nice background on our company and backstory on my rise from dishwasher to owner on our website (click here). I also had a piece published in Entrepreneur.com last year (click here).” Fore more information, visit chocolatepizza.com. 

Simply Shari's gluten-free shortbread cookies

No gluten, no wheat.
Those are the two claims that caught my eye – and my attention – when I received samples of Simply Shari's shortbread cookies. The muted floral packaging featuring earth-tone colors even talks a subtle promise of natural, delicate and good for you.
OK, we all know cookies aren't good for you; but I was starting to buy into the claim that, as far as cookies go, this is as healthy as you can get. Other claims front and center: Simply Balanced; Simply Nutritious; Simply Delicious.
I'm not gluten intolerant, but I do have plenty of friends who are, and they all stay away from cookies because if it's not going to taste good, then what's the point? For that, I was skeptical when I broke open the bag. But, I was ready for the risk.
Verdict: Are you sure these are gluten-free? They tasted so much better than expected. In fact, they don't taste like gluten-free at all! I had the Chocolate Chip, and it was not insanely sweet or loaded with sugar, like I hate. But it also wasn't bland or cardboard-tasting, which I also hate.
The folks at Simply Shari's has somehow managed to land right in the middle, offering a devilishly buttery snack that I can somehow feel good about eating. And the best part – as a woman who just turned 30 last weekend and now sees the need to watch the calories – is that they're bite-sized! I instantly became accustomed to popping one or two in my mouth after lunch and dinner – and boom! A small yet sweet satisfaction for my sweet tooth. The portion-control was much appreciated!
The small bites of pleasure are chewy, moist and easily crumble in your mouth. I also felt like the 6.5-ounce bag offered plenty of product, probably because the smaller pieces seem to last longer than the giant cookies that I need to toss in the garbage after a few bites.
Other flavors are plain, zesty lemon and aromatic almond. Chocolate Chip was my favorite, but Fudge Brownie came in a very close second. I found myself serving one or two to my husband after dinner as a small dessert, and not only did he love them, but he never suspected them as gluten-free! (If only he knew, muhahahahah!)
According to the press release, only “clean ingredients” are used and all the cookies are GMO-free. The Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) Recognition Seal and the Certified Gluten-Free (GF) Seal is faithfully displayed on every package. Personality also dominates the packaging, as the back reveal Shari herself offering a comforting and personal guarantee that her “simply delicious, gluten-free products” are simply the best. Thanks Shari!
The presser also suggests eating them with ice cream or afternoon tea-wonderful idea! Prices range from $4.99-$5.99 retail. Your customers-yes, those who are gluten intolerant but also anyone who is looking to eat a bit more healthy-will love them! Guaranteed.

Dolcedi: organic sugar alternative

I'm not the kind of person who sweetens food or drinks with honey, sugar or any other sugar alternatives like Splenda. As a Millennial, my health-conscious subconscious screams “Warning! Stay away!” like a sugar-detecting radar when I come within a mere 5 feet of a frosted pastry, a caramel macchiato or even a honey packet for my tea. Like most Millennials, I try to keep unnecessary “fillers” out of my diet.
So when Dolcedi arrived at my office for my sampling, I was not anxious to give it a try. I thought it looked kind of weird–its clear, thick liquid resting peacefully inside a big 12-ounce bottle with a bright red drip-free cap. It didn't look like anything I've seen before, and the ingredients were certainly unique as well.
“Low glycemic sweetener from apples,” boasts the label front and center. Other eco-friendly labels surround the red cursive “Dolcedi” name as well: “organic farming,” “all-natural plant-based,” “Non-GMO,” “Vegan,” “star-kosher certification” and “neutral flavor.” Now you've got my attention.
I read the instructions from the press release: “Dolcedì can be used any way you would use traditional table sugar or honey and in the same proportions; one teaspoon of sugar equals one teaspoon of Dolcedì. Its neutral flavor enhances the taste of food and drinks without altering them. Perfectly soluble in both cold and hot drinks. Use on pancakes, on yogurt, in fruit salad and in baking.”
OK, I'm intrigued. Time to put this sweetener to the test. First, I squeezed some into my plain Greek yogurt one morning at work. To my pleasant surprise, it was an instant success! The clear liquid did not dilute the color of my yogurt, which I liked because, like many in my generation, I eat with my eyes. And if I can't see the sweetener, it's like it's not there. (If I see golden honey in my yogurt, on the other hand, I feel instant guilt for adding sugar to an otherwise healthy snack.)
Then, I added some Dolcedi to some chopped fruit – again, a hit! And again, I'm not feeling guilty for adding sweet stuff to my fruit! In fact, I'm feeling pretty trendy for using such a unique-looking AND organic sweet source. Before I knew it, my co-workers (both Millennials) were asking to borrow my bottle of “clear stuff” for their tea, toast and even to douse on their mix of dried fruit and nuts.
Like me, they became even bigger fans of the “clear stuff”–as it's now affectionately called in my office–when they read the story behind the product:
“The Rigoni family from the Altopiano di Asiago in Northern Italy (90 miles north of Venice) has launched a new, all-natural liquid sweetener called Dolcedì (pronounced dohl-che-DEE) that’s made from 100 percent organic apples and is a low-glycemic alternative to sugar and other sweeteners. With 25 percent fewer calories than table sugar, Rigoni di Asiago Dolcedì is made from the concentrated and filtered sugar extracted from organic apples. It is certified USDA organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, and Star-Kosher.”
25 percent fewer calories than table sugar?? SOLD!! We all were! Then, as we looked at the nearly empty bottle, panic came over us. Where would we buy our next bottle?! Hopefully, at the closest specialty food store. Touting the calorie count and, of course, “made from organic apples” is a sure-fire way to draw in our attention–as well as any other Millennial–and make us thankful for any local store that offers unique “finds” like Dolcedi.
“Dolcedì is a wonderful marriage of old and new,” says Rigoni di Asiago CEO and president Andrea Rigoni. “We source our apples with the same organic farming practices that we have practiced for years but are processing the bounty in a new and exciting way to bring the world a great-tasting, better-for-you sweetener.” For more information, visit rigonidiasiago-usa.com.

Explore Cuisine, Organic Black Bean Spaghetti

I'm not gluten intolerant, but I do suffer from extreme guilt every time I cook pasta. Whether it's greased down with butter and oil or slathered in white creamy Alfredo sauce, there's no other to way to enjoy a pasta dish other than simply tossing caution to the win and promising to work out an extra 30 minutes-better make that 45-the next morning.

However, I have discovered an alternative that will allow me to enjoy the pleasures of pasta-sauce and all-from now on. OK, I didn't “discover” it; rather, samples were sent to my office and I merely needed to open the parcel. But when I did, my culinary world changed for the better.
Explore Cuisine sent me a number of flavors: Organic Red Bean Lentil, Organic Green Lentil Lasagna, Organic Chickpea Fusilli and Organic Edamame Spaghetti. However, my eye was immediately drawn to the Organic Black Bean Spaghetti.
And how could I not be drawn to it? The spaghetti was black! Instantly, my intrigue was piqued and the Millennial adventurer inside me screamed, “Try it, try it!” I know if I saw it on the shelves of my local specialty food store, I wouldn't be able to resist purchasing that first box. And now that I've tried the results, I know that I would come back for more.
First, I've never felt so guilt-free about a pasta. Well, semi-pasta. The label front and center on the box says all I need to hear to make me pick it up and “explore” (get it?): “Loaded with plant-based protein,” it says in a bold black label that's hard to miss. The best part of the elegant yet catchy packaging is the cut-out that allows the consumer to see the product for themselves. I flipped over the red box and the info got even better: “35 grams of protein, 11 grams net carbs, low glycemic index, high in fiber, only beans!
That's right, this pasta is made of beans, peas, lentils and rice, providing nourishing meals that are easy, quick and colorful, boasts the messaging. Other touted qualities: Affordable food with ingredients bought direct from the farmer, produced next to the fields; Committed to fair trade and sustainable living “so everyone benefits along the way-from the field to your home.” Also, 2 percent of proceeds support the Food to Thrive Foundation.
Now, to the kitchen. I was excited to prepare the mysterious black pasta, and I was relieved to realize that the preparation instructions are the same as any other box of conventional pasta. The dried spaghetti was shorter than what I'm used to, but turns out it fits easily into the pot on the stove without having to dunk the exposed ends once it softens up. Within the first minute, it thickened up and the water turned black, which I found to be kind of fun to watch. I drained, covered in butter, oil and some Parmesan cheese.
Verdict: Utterly delicious. True to its claims, it tastes like a healthier version of pasta! It tastes like pasta had a run-in with a plant and I'm reaping the benefits. The taste was lighter than traditional pasta, yet I was equally as full and satisfied by the end of my meal.
I cooked in bulk so I can pick at it throughout the week. What I loved the most is that the spaghetti did not clump together I stored it in the refrigerator! This is a problem I often have with traditional pasta. But now the problem's solved. The next day, I took a bit more of the black spaghetti-easily with no tears or clumps!-and dressed it in marinara sauce before reheating it in the microwave. Voila! It tasted just as it had the day before, when it was freshly made, and dressing it in the heavy sauce gave it a completely different taste and experience. And the best part, of course: no guilt! In fact, I felt healthy for it!
Explore Cuisine, you can count me as a fan. And if your Millennial shoppers are anything like me, they'll be fans as well. The bright colors and healthy ingredients will compel their inner adventurer to purchase their first box; and the easy preparation and, most importantly, great taste will make them a loyal customer!
Find out more at www.ExploreCuisine.com