Fall 2020 has definitely felt unusual. Gone are the days of steady walks in the parks without a care in the world. Gone are the moments of whimsical enjoyment running freely through every pore and every cell. The world has changed, and so have I. Being intrinsically adverse to change (lol), this year has definitely taken a toll on me and my perspective on life.
And yet, during these extraordinary times, I have been lucky enough to come across small symbols of normalcy which have kept me motivated and research-oriented. I have been contacted by various companies which have asked me to review their products, and I have felt blessed to be able to make meaningful online connections and to get the chance to experience informative and/or delicious products. Here is my roundup post for fall 2020 – I hope you’ll be inspired too 🙂
America’s Test Kitchen Kids Kitchen Explorers
How to keep the kids busy after classes/homework during a pandemic? Answer: buy them a copy of America’s Test Kitchen Kids Kitchen Explorers!, an educational workbook to help assist families through at-home learning. As per the official book description, “From the creators of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs, comes the best ever interactive workbook for kids ages 8 to 12 who want recipes, science experiments, hands-on activities, and games-all about food!”
Using the kitchen as a classroom setting, Kitchen Explorers! features hands-on experiments, kid-tested recipes, and interactive games that allow young kids to practice educational skills in a creative way. The book also features a section for parents (authored by educational specialists) to help guide learning along the way. What makes fizzy drinks fizzy? Can you create beautiful art using salt? Can you prove the power of smell with jelly beans? The answers to these questions (and more!) are within reach once children delve into this book.
America’s Test Kitchen have decided to keep all of the kids-related content on their website free for the foreseeable future, and thus available to parents who are looking for something educational (and delicious) to do at home with their kids. Make sure you check out the Kitchen Classroom section, where ATK staff publish weekly curated recipes and hands-on activities.
Powered by organic goodness and a touching life story, Janie’s Mill is one of the most exciting companies I have been fortunate to meet online this year. The Wilken family have been using certified organic and regenerative practices on their Illinois farm for over 15 years, growing a multitude of crops in a biodiverse rotation, and transforming these crops “into dozens of delicious and nutrient-dense products that are good for you, and good for the planet.”
Janie’s Mill sent me one of their products to try back in February 2020, after we connected on social media. Soon after I got the product, everyone’s world was turned upside down by the virus, and I started stockpiling powdered milk and pasta. And yet, throughout the pandemic, my heart and mind never let go of Janie’s Mill, and I kept an eye on their impressive response to the crisis (you can read more about it here).
I used the bag of golden yellow cornmeal they sent me to make polenta several times, which we ate as we usually do, with feta cheese, sour cream, and plenty of butter. Then, my Instagram friend Tina inspired me with her Pesto Polenta Veggie Pie. I took inspiration from her to make my own polenta “muffins” with homemade pesto and buttered veggies.
Served hot out of the oven with an organic egg on top, these “muffins” were as delicious as they were pretty. The polenta itself had clean, fresh taste. As a veteran polenta connoisseur, I immediately noticed the difference between this polenta and the one I ate most of the time, made with cornmeal from the grocery store.
I highly recommend Janie’s Mill for all your cooking/baking needs this festive season and beyond. Not only are their products flavorful and high quality, but they also espouse a commitment to good farming practices and a community-driven approach I wholeheartedly support. Buying from Janie’s Mill benefits local farmers and a truly small IL local community – and equally important, it benefits your health and the wellbeing of our planet.
PBFit Pumpkin Spice
PBfit Pumpkin Spice is a quintessential seasonal ingredient I thoroughly enjoy. As someone who has reviewed PBfit products in the past, I was looking forward to trying PBfit’s latest offering, which launched on Amazon.com on September 1st.
PBfit Pumpkin Spice contains 90% less fat than traditional peanut butter and about 1/3 of the calories. This delicious fall ingredient seemed perfect to use up in a revamped version of my baked stuffed apples, a recipe that’s not just on the healthier side of things, but it’s also very quick to make.
The apples were filled with homemade orange peel preserve and a mixture of unsalted melted butter and PBfit Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Powder.
They were slowly baked for 1 hour, and were served with hazelnuts and sour cherry spread on top.
Perfect for fall, and utterly delicious anytime!
Mooala organic vanilla almondmilk
Have you seen Mooala? This cute “Mooala koala” is all the rave nowadays. What’s inside the adorable packaging, and what makes this almondmilk so popular?
Mooala’s founder Jeff Richards embarked on a project to craft organic plant-based beverages after he was diagnosed with lactose intolerance. In 2016, he left the world of corporate finance to share Mooala with the world…and to get out of his cubicle!
Not all almondmilk is created equal, and Mooala excels in terms of creaminess and flavor. Its silky texture makes it perfect in desserts – or at least that’s what I discovered recently.
I used Mooala’s organic, dairyfree vanilla almondmilk sweetened with a touch of honey to make this panna cotta, which I served with honey kumquat, an assortment of crunchy fresh & sauteed pears, and ground cherry preserve.
This almondmilk is a good source of calcium and vitamin E – and it’s super creamy, and delightfully plant-based! Very excited about my dairy-free dessert in particular, and about Mooala in general.
If you’ve ever been apprehensive to experiment with non-dairy alternatives in desserts, now’s the perfect time to be adventurous. You can pour, froth, cereal, and smoothie Mooala organic vanilla almondmilk – and you can make fabulous desserts just the same. As for me, I’ll keep making this panna cotta while hoping and praying for better days ahead 🙂
*Disclaimer: While I received complimentary products to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed here are my own.