May 26, 2006

Get the Latest Each Week from BlogPire Productions

Criticalgamers Blogad-1We know you have a busy life and a busy schedule, and that's why everyone here at BlogPire Productions wants to make it easier for you to get the latest news from any of our sites and not just the one you visit everyday. We've provided below a list of all our sites and a short description along with a link for you to use if you'd like to receive news from any of those sites each Monday morning. It's really easy - just click the link - sign up and you'll get the list of headlines sent to you via email.

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May 23, 2006

Seeing Beyond the Spin

Please forgive me for being redundant and bringing to your attention similar news articles, however I believe that the crux of the nutrition crisis (yes, I do believe it is a crisis) in our country is based around miscommunication and misinformation of the American public. Therefore, when a story surfaces regarding the misuse of marketing terms to describe foods, then I’m going to sound the sirens. Here are two very good examples of marketing spin that confuses consumers and blurs the line of what is really natural.

First, ABCnews.com reports on the recent controversy around the marketing of the popular carbonated beverage 7UP as “100% natural,” despite it being made with high fructose corn syrup.

Second, Candace Choi of the Associated Press highlights the issues of trying to achieve good nutrition within the confusing market speak in her article “Healthy Foods a Pitfall for Dieters.” And while she points out that packaging indicating ‘healthy’ or ‘natural’ can be misleading and calories should be taken into consideration no matter the packaging, she fails to point out the value of deciphering ingredient lists to weed out diet destroyers like processed sugar and sugar substitutes and hydrogenated oils.

We may never have packaging guidelines that define what is really natural and really not, but we can educate ourselves so that we may make smarter choices no matter what the hype.

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May 19, 2006

The Best of the Blogpire

Cheapfunwines-3Another week and another Best of the Blogpire. It's been a pretty amazing week of new wines, new coffee, and new appararel here at the Blogpire. Check out the latest GPS reviews at GPSLodge.com and you should also swing by ShavingStuff.com for some Zia for men reviews. And if you're looking for some new exciting Spring wines - visit CheapFunWines.com.

SingleServeCoffee.com
Baronet Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Pods
Nespresso Essenza C100 Espresso Maker

KitchenContraptions.com
Italian Kitchen Range
Mini Kitchen Measure

ShavingStuff.com
Review of Zia for Men, part 2
ShavingStuff Pop Quiz!

TVSnob.com
Deal of the Day: RCA 200 watt 5.1 Channel Home Theater System with 5 DVD Changer
Go for a Job Interview and Maybe You'll be a Star

ShirtSnob.com
New Tees From Threadless
Flora Tank by Ella Moss

GPSLodge.com
Geocaching Season is Here - Tips for the hunt
GPS Review: Garmin iQUE 3000

TheCookingNews.com
Coffee News: Folgers Offers Stomach-Friendly Coffee
Recipe News: Asparagus recipes

LiquorSnob.com
Rofo Headgear: Foam Dome 2.0?
Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey

ReallyNatural.com
Lazy Man's Side Dish: Alexia's Yukon Gold Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Sea Salt
A truly organic eating experience

CriticalGamers.com
Hold'em Drink Holder - Keep Your Table Liquid-Free
Review: G8 Game Timer

CheapFunWines.com
Next Wine Tasting
Bouvet Brut Signature (Sparkling Wine)

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May 19, 2006

Lazy Man's Side Dish: Alexia's Yukon Gold Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Sea Salt

I sometimes question how I ever lived without a microwave. My husband and I didn't have one for quite a while after we married, until we moved into our first house. For a couple of years, it just sat there, totally idle, a remnant of the previous owners. Then, we had kids. It's amazing how quickly the microwave becomes an essential household appliance when you have screeching, hungry children on your hands.

Thankfully, there is an ever-growing selection of decent microwaveable food out there these days, as long as you're willing to pay for the convenience. Tonight I tried Alexia's frozen Yukon Gold Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Sea Salt. The label had the usual "All Natural" and "No Trans Fat" labels that seem to be so popular these days, but what made me pick them up was the small, simple ingredient list: basically, potatoes, buttter, and salt. Just like the real thing, only quicker, more expensive, and easier on the arms.

Unlike other prefab mashed potatoes I've tried in the past, these actually looked like real potatoes--they were a bit chunky here and there rather than being whipped beyond all recognition. They also tasted like actual potatoes, too. The sea salt added quite a salty bite, although the package claims only 80 mg of sodium per 1/2 cup serving. They also have a version called Country Reds Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Parmesan.

The only drawback? The kids wouldn't eat them. My son ate choked them down bite by tiny bite (under threat of punishment), while my daughter reacted like I was asking her to eat a steaming plate of cat turds. She wasn't buying my claim that "they're just like mushed up french fries!". But I sure as heck wouldn't base your buying decision on my kids' palates because you'd be restricted to about 10 foods. Let's just say the plates didn't make it to the dishwasher with any leftovers on them because the grown-ups in the household thought they were delicious.

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May 17, 2006

A truly organic eating experience

With all of the recent controversy over the increasing influence of big business in the organics food market and the debate around whether buying local (conventionally grown or not) is more environmentally friendly than purchasing organic fruit flown in from Argentina, I decided to visit my local organic farm stand to see what they had for sale. If you're fortunate enough to have a similar place in your town, it's a good way to know that what you're eating is healthy for both your family and the planet at large. Hopefully you're also fortunate to live someplace with a friendlier growing climate than New England, 'cause the pickings are slim this time of year. We'll keep going back this summer, and will let you know what we find and what we make with it.



 


 


We are very fortunate to have a wonderful, 100% organic farm stand in our area.  In an effort to embrace everything the organic ethic embodies (eating locally grown, pesticide-free foods), we headed over to Holly Hill Farm for our first visit of the year.

... See my Tabblo>



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May 14, 2006

It's Really Natural 'Green' Burial Friday!

NaturalburialOkay - it's Friday and time for something a bit different here at ReallyNatural.com - our natural Friday! We've found this somewhat disturbing yet interesting article on natural burial which is currently all the rage in dying. If you'd like to get buried without being embalmed and really sink into the earth after a few years this is the way to go. :-)

The 93-acre Greensprings Natural Cemetery is the first of its kind in New York and one of just a handful in the United States, where interest in "green" burial is just taking root. "It's so sensible," he said. "Putting bodies in a waterproof, permanent container protected from the environment, it's ridiculous." At Greensprings, where a plot costs $500 plus a $350 fee to dig the grave, bodies cannot be embalmed or otherwise chemically preserved. They must be buried in biodegradable caskets without linings or metal ornamentation.

At CNN.com

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May 12, 2006

Get the Latest Each Week from BlogPire Productions

Shavingstuff 150 Macnn-1We know you have a busy life and a busy schedule, and that's why everyone here at BlogPire Productions wants to make it easier for you to get the latest news from any of our sites and not just the one you visit everyday. We've provided below a list of all our sites and a short description along with a link for you to use if you'd like to receive news from any of those sites each Monday morning. It's really easy - just click the link - sign up and you'll get the list of headlines sent to you via email. Thanks again for reading us and check out some of the other great news from BlogPire Productions.

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May 11, 2006

What Do You Look For?

According to a recent ConAgra Foods Survey, people are paying more attention to the trust marks and quality seals on food packaging these days. At the top of the list are the words 'kosher' and 'organic', and while consumers look for descriptions like 'whole grains' they don't necessarily pay attention to the U.S. dietary guidelines set in the food pyramid. Read more about it here.

Just remember, while 'natural' can mean many things in the food marketing arena, ingredient lists tell pretty close to the whole truth.

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May 10, 2006

Hain European Recipes Country Garden Vegetables with Delicate Seasoning

Hain Pure Foods, a division of the very large natural foods-and-products conglomerate Hain Celestial Group, has come out with a line of "European Recipes" microwavable vegetable bowls. I tried the "Country Garden with a Delicate Seasoning" version, which features cauliflower and broccoli florets and something they call parisian carrots which are like small, very round baby carrots that look like they were somehow made with a melon baller. (Sorry, there's no picture or product info on the web site, but here's the logo to help you identify it in the store.)

Let's start with the packaging, which is a small plastic bowl wrapped in a cardboard sleeve. The package touts the benefits of their proprietary self-steaming microwavable bowl, which they claim retains more nutrients than any other cooking method. Presumably the bowl is recyclable--I've sent off an email to the company to find out and will update this when I have the answer.

All you do to cook the veggies is pop them in the microwave for 3 or 4 minutes, vent the steam by piercing the plastic covering, and serve.

This cooking method did seem to do a decent job of helping the veggies maintain some crispness. I also liked how mild, buttery sauce didn't overwhelm the taste of the vegetables. My one complaint taste-wise was that there was quite a bit of water (or perhaps watery sauce) left in the bottom of the bowl. Remove the vegetables from the bowl as soon as possible to avoid having them turn into a soggy mess.

Would I eat them again? I suppose I can see eating one of these when the husband's out of town and I'm too beat after wrestling the kids into bed to face washing and chopping a fresh alternative. I'd be more likely to do so if the veggies were organic. Also, the package notes that this is a "product of Belgium" so it won't do if you're looking for something with a minimal environmental footprint. I also don't generally eat sauce with my vegetables, but for those who like that sort of thing, you may want to give this product a whirl. The convenience, at least, can't be beat.

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May 6, 2006

Arnold Healthy Multi-Grain Bread


Arnold Healthy Multi-Grain Bread is the bread that I switched to when I started realizing that perhaps white slices of nothingness were not the best selection nutritionally. The dark color and the variety of seeds at the top lead me to believe that there would be much more of an offering than the simple white flour and yeast in the other packaged breads available. I was correct, but only to a point.

Arnold Healthy Multi-Grain Bread is a perfect "transition" food. With ingredients like unbleached enriched wheat flour, wheat bran, brown rice and oats, and no artificial colors or preservatives and no hydrogenated oils, it has more nutritional value than its ghostly cousin. However this bread also has three different types of sugar in it: sugar, brown sugar and sucralose. As a reader of ingredient lists, generally the healthiest breads have either no sugar or natural, unrefined sugars such as honey, or molasses. With that much sugar (and wheat flour that must be enriched because it has been stripped of nutrients) I would classify the Arnold multi-grain bread as a good middle ground between junk food and health food.

The Arnold multi-grain has a fluffy consistency for a wheat bread, not far from the airiness of white. The taste, while more flavorful than white, is slightly sweet and less intense than true grain breads.

So, if you grew up on slices of bread that easily turned into marshmallow in your mouth, and are looking for something a little more substantial but aren't willing to commit to something as intense as sprouted grain breads, Arnold Healthy Multi-Grain Bread is a good health food starter item. Just keep in mind that the word 'healthy' is a subjective term.

About the Arnold brand:

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May 5, 2006

And Really Not Recipe... White Gravy

...and Really Not is a section devoted to those decidedly unnatural products that we just can't seem to purge from our lives. Of course, this would include recipes that aren't the best for our bodies, but truly wonderful for our souls.

A special thanks to Spencer Gardner and his knowledge of down-home cookin' for this traditional recipe (and truly Spencer iteration) for White Gravy...

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The Best of the Blogpire

Gps Lodge Findwhatyoulove-1Another week and of course another best of the Blogpire. We're very excited to have all of our web sites on new faster hosting along with shiny monthly roundups on many of our sites to catch you up.


Single Serve Coffee
Review: Timothy's Rainforest Espresso Coffee Pods for Senseo, Home Cafe, & Other Single Serve Coffee Makers
April 2006 Monthly Roundup for SingleServeCoffee.com

Just The Chips
Palm Poker
Professional Poker: The Essential Guide to Playing for a Living

Kitchen Contraptions
Easy-Lock Corn Tongs
Monthly Roundup for Kitchen Contraptions

Shaving Stuff
PubicShaving.com Has Moved to PubicShavingAdvice.com
Review of Billy Jealousy's Fuzzy Logic

TV Snob
Amazon DVD Releases Coming May 02, 2006
April 2006 Monthly Roundup for TVSnob

Shirt Snob
Busted Tees has new T-shirts
Sale at Threadless

GPS Lodge
GPS Lodge: Monthly Round Up for April 2006
Amazon.com Promotion: 5% off GPS units

The Cooking News
Recipe News: Taste of Home Recipes
Recipe News: McDonald's "Big Mac" and "Big Mac" sauce

Liquor Snob
Flaming Jell-O Shots, Anyone?
Liquor Snob Monthly Roundup: April 2006

Really Natural
Minute Maid All Natural Lemonade
Steaz Organic Green Tea Soda: Root Beer

Critcal Gamers
April '06 Roundup for CriticalGamers.com
Battles of the Third Age Expansion - Tactical Gameplay Preview

Cheap Fun Wines
2002 Fife Redhead Red
Who Overrates Sauvignon Blanc??

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May 1, 2006

Full Circle Organic Medium Salsa

I picked up Full Circle's Organic Medium Salsa at my local grocery store and served it to house guests this weekend. I love salsa (and Mexican food in general) and am always on the lookout for new stuff to try. This was a hit. Not the best salsa I've ever had, but better than the average brand. The medium variety has a definite spicy cumin-and-jalapeno fueled kick--more so than most "mediums." The consistency was nice and chunky. All the better for balancing on my Garden of Eatin' Red Hot Blues chips. Yum!

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