Mannix Vanilla – BEST vanilla extracts!!

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Website: http://www.MannixVanilla.com

I bake to relieve stress! Going back to work full-time while raising a newborn, I’m baking whenever I have a free moment :-) That also means I go through vanilla extract very quickly. Mannix is a family-owned company (love supporting family businesses) and their extracts are 2X strength. AKA – if your recipe calls for 1tsp you only have to use 1/2 tsp. Their flavors are very concentrated! I add their almond-vanilla extract to a little bit of half and half to make my own (all natural) coffee creamer. Their ground vanilla (100% pure ground Madagascar beans) is a great alternative to extract sans alcohol. I treat myself once a week to a mini facial using 1T of their vanilla olive oil and a few tablespoons of white sugar.

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Tumeric Alive

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Website: http://www.tumericalive.com

I can’t do a cleanse diet because with a newborn, I need all the energy I can get. I do, however, love fresh pressed juices. This past month I discovered TumericALIVE, organic herbal elixirs that re-energize your body and mind. Turmeric is that bright orange spice you may have used in delicious Indian or Malaysian dishes. Sometimes I even toss a bit in my hot tea. The turmeric root was believed to possess spiritual power that cleanses negative energy. Today, studies show that the antioxidants contained in turmeric promote longevity. I’ll drink to that! TumericALIVE drinks combine turmeric with other powerful ingredients: ginger, cardamom, spearmint, honey, coconut nectar, vanilla bean. All based on the flavor you pick! “Coconut nectar” is my favorite, but I love them all. The strong, spicy pops of ginger in combination with mint and the tumeric…a party in my mouth! With the winter months winding down, I’m going to start exercising outside with Noella and I will definitely be keeping a stash of Tumeric Alive in the back of her stroller for our jogs! :-)

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Gorilla Coffee – Cold Brew Pack

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Website: http://www.gorillacoffee.com

“Cold Brew” is the hippest trend in coffee. Ground coffee beans are soaked in cold water for typically 12 hours (or more). The end product is rich and concentrated in flavor (just my style!) I decided to try my first cold brewed coffee from a shop in Brooklyn called “Gorilla Coffee.” Gorilla created the FIRST “to go” and ready to drink cold brewed variety. It’s a blend of two of their coffees: Rwanda Kigeyo and Brazil Pedra Roxa. It’s very smooth and has a strong, sweet molasses taste. I tried it straight from the carton and than tried it with ice, a dash of cream and sugar (my favorite way). Let me just tell you…the burst of energy I received from this coffee was much appreciated! I tried it after Noella had me up for nearly 24-hours. Coming from a sleep-deprived Mom of a newborn, if you need some energy and a pop of flavor…check this stuff out!

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Forte Gelato

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Website: http://www.tasteforte.com

I LOVE gelato, but what I love even more is an inspirational story! I have found both! My FAVORITE discovery this month comes from the company Forte Gelato. You can read the full story behind Forte on their website, but I’d like to give you a brief summary! Forte’s founder endured six open-heart surgeries and walked away from his career in the investment world to create and sell the first high protein, low-fat, all natural gelato. Each cup of gelato has the quote “through challenge comes inspiration.” Wow. That speaks volumes. I’m sure we can all relate to that in one way or another. I chose Forte as one of my favorite products because not only is it rich, creamy & luxurious…BUT…it has 15 grams of protein! Espresso (if you couldn’t already guess) is my favorite flavor, although I could also eat several containers of their vanilla, ginger and their chocolate!

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Belly Bandit

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I mentioned the “Belly Bandit”  (www.BellyBandit.com) for the first time in my Hospital Bag Essentials video. I  didn’t really have the chance to see if it really works until postpartum. I heard about Kourtney Kardashian exercising + swearing by the Belly Bandit so I was eager to see what all the celeb buzz was about. OMG. I love, love, love this product!!!!  AND… if you’ve been keeping up with me you know that I had Noella (on her due date 1/4/14…what baby arrives promptly on her due date?!!), you can meet her right here :

After that long 20 hour day of labor, I was SO RELIEVED to be recovering in a hospital room. I relaxed that night and the next morning, the first thing I wanted to do was take a shower, feel refreshed and start the recovery process. You can take MUCH better care of your baby when you take care of yourself. I couldn’t wait to put on my Belly Bandit and try it out. It wasn’t uncomfortable or itchy like I expected. I barely noticed that I even had it on. The only time I took it off was when I showered again. I couldn’t believe how my stomach looked/felt after taking the Belly Bandit off for the first time. I’ve never been skinny and it takes 9 months to make a baby, 9 months to take it off. So it’s not an instant fix but  I’m sure it’s a combination of breastfeeding and eating healthy as well, but the Belly Bandit has definitely helped my stomach get back to normal again. I plan on continuing to use the Belly Bandit and wear it when I start exercising. I cancelled my gym membership to save money and instead I’ll walk/run with Noella in the stroller this spring. I plan on wearing the Belly Bandit while doing so. I will definitely be buying it in the future for my expectant friends. They also make shapewear, leggings, corsets, tanks…I want to try EVERYTHING on their site!!! The designs are really cute too. Below, you can get an idea of my Before & After!

One week before having Noella:

Photo on 2013-11-30 at 13.36 #2

Using the Belly Bandit:

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One week AFTER having Noella:
Photo on 2014-01-29 at 12.26

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Pure Canadian Maple Syrup Bacon Chicken

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Pure Canadian Maple Syrup Bacon Chicken
Serves 2

By: CaitlinCooks

Since I’m due with my first baby in January (thanks for all of your support on my latest Youtube video), being budget savvy is crucial right now. I have to watch every penny, so I make a conscious effort to make 2 healthy homemade meals out of one. This delicious and simple recipe combines the sweet flavor of pure Canadian maple syrup with spicy brown mustard for balance. You can read all about the benefits of using pure maple syrup on http://www.purecanadamaple.com/!


Ingredients:
1/2C pure Canadian maple syrup (don’t skimp here, get the good stuff!)
1/4C spicy brown mustard
3 Chicken Breasts
Bacon (I only used 3 strips but feel free to use more)
Fresh Sage Leaves
1 lb green beans
1 lb small red baby potatoes

Make It:
1. Preheat your oven to 375*F. Combine the maple syrup and mustard. Place in a ziplock bag and add your chicken. Set in the fridge to marinate for 1 hour.

2. Remove the chicken from the bag; reserve the rest of the marinade for the veggies.

3. Place the chicken breasts in a casserole dish and top each with a sage leaf. Wrap each chicken breast with bacon strips (as little or as much as you desire, I was trying to be healthy here).  Place the green beans and potatoes in the casserole and drizzle with the remaining marinade.

4. Roast at 375*F for 40 minutes.

Leftovers: Herbed Maple Chicken Rice
Cube up the remaining chicken and veggies. Toss with brown rice, 1 squeezed lemon, 1/2C dried cherries and 3 of your favorite herbs (I used dill, rosemary, tarragon). Place in the fridge and you have a delicious, hearty lunch for work the next day!

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Mint Chocolate Chip Gelato

Youtube.com/CaitlinCooks

Youtube.com/CaitlinCooks

You’ll Need:
2 1/2C whole milk (don’t use skim!)
1 bunch fresh mint, about 20 sprigs
5 large egg yolks
2/3C sugar
1C heavy cream
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
6 oz dark chocolate, chopped roughly

Make It:

1. In a saucepan, combine the milk and the fresh mint. Bring to a gentle boil, take off the heat, cover and let sit for 30 mins. This lets the mint “steep” into the milk and flavor it. Than strain the milk to remove the mint leaves.

2. Combine egg yolks and sugar, whisk for about 3 minutes until combined and pale yellow. Add half of the milk and whisk. Return to a saucepan with the remaining milk. Stirring constantly, cook on low heat until the mixture gets thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

3. Remove the milk mixture from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream. Transfer to a new bowl so it stops cooking. Cool in the fridge for about 1 hour.

4. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Add the chocolate, the mint extract and devour!

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