Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snow Days and Recipes and Giveaways, Oh My!

When I first announced that I was moving to Northern Virginia almost a year ago, everybody told me that I would be much warmer here than I was in New York.

Everybody was wrong.

You won't hear any complaints from me though. I love the snow, especially when it falls in large quantities. I actually get excited when I hear that my area is going to be hit by a blizzard.

I still remember how I spent my snow days as a child. My siblings and I would spend hours playing outside, sledding or using the recycling bin to make cubes to construct an igloo. When our noses got too runny and our fingers were numb, we'd head inside to warm up. Even though I was one of the youngest, I would make popcorn and hot chocolate for everyone to enjoy after they changed into warm, dry clothes.

Fast-forward almost two decades, and I'm still spending much of my snow day in the kitchen. Back in November, Ron Redding of NuNaturals contacted me, offering me samples of different products offered by the company. Now normally when I hear the word "samples," I think of tiny packages of products that are usually only good for 1-2 uses. So I was shocked when I received a package from Ron a few days later, and it was filled with full-size bottles and packages of a wide variety of NuNaturals products.

You're a good man, Ron.

Two weeks ago, Ron agreed to host a giveaway with me here on my blog. If you're not familiar with the NuNaturals, let me give you a brief overview of the company and their products.

NuNaturals is an Oregon-based company that offers over 80 SKUs of quality, all-natural products. Their flagship brand, NuStevia, is comprised of non-bitter, zero-calorie Stevia products, such as powder packets, clear liquid extracts, and quick dissolve tablets. NuStevia is a sweetener derived from the stevia plant, a medicinal herb. Unlike artificial sweeteners, NuStevia is all natural, so you can consume it without the guilt. The products can be used in baking recipes, coffee, smoothies, specialty drinks, puddings, bean salads...the possibilities are endless!

Here's some information about the products that you could win!

NuNaturals Pure Liquid Vanilla Stevia, Alcohol Free: NuNaturals has combined the super high quality of Singing Dog Vanilla Bean Extractives with their Clear Stevia extract to give you a delicious way to use Stevia. Add this to your foods and beverages in place of regular vanilla extract to experience the delicious benefits of Stevia.

NuStevia Cocoa Syrup: This product is a bit of an oxymoron. It's chocolate, but it's GUILTLESS. This cocoa syrup is comparable to Hershey's syrup, except that it's both calorie and sugar free! You can use this syrup on ice cream, in coffee, or to stir up a healthy chocolate milk. It's also great to use in recipes! Made with NuStevia extract, this syrup will not leave any unpleasant aftertastes. And the best part? There are 385 ONE bottle! 
NuStevia Cocoa Mint Syrup: If you're a huge mint lover like myself, this product is for you! This syrup can be used in all the same ways as the Cocoa Syrup listed above, but will add a great peppermint taste to anything you're whipping up in the kitchen. I used my bottle to make a Peppermint Mocha Latte that was cheaper and healthier than one from Starbucks!

NuStevia NoCarbs Blend,  50 Packets: The NuStevia NoCarbs blend contains premium, natural, all-purpose sweetener that can be used in tea, coffee, cereal,yogurt...anything that needs sweetening! And because they come in packets, you can enjoy them on the go! I always keep a few in my bag so that I'm not stuck using artificial sweeteners when I'm grabbing coffee at local coffeeshops, the gas station, or at work.

Before we get to the giveaway, I want to share a recipe that I created using both NuNaturals Pure Liquid Vanilla Stevia and NuStevia Cocoa Syrup. Baking cookies is one of those cliche snow day activities, but using NuNaturals products can help eliminate that guilt that comes with bumming around all day eating cookies!

Double-Chocolate Cashew Biscookies
Vegan. Gluten-free. Nut-free option.
Now I can't exactly call these cookies a hybrid, like cronuts or duffins, since biscotti is basically a type of cookie. But since biscotti are typically oblong-shaped (probably so that they can be dipped in coffee), and the ones I've created are round, I've decided to call them "biscookies."

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 6 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, room temperature (You can also use margarine or butter. Cookies will not be vegan if you use butter.)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. NuStevia Cocoa Syrup
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 tsp. NuNaturals Pure Liquid Vanilla Stevia
  • 2 cups flour (I use Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour)
  • 1/2 cup cashews, chopped (Replace with dried fruit or chocolate chips to make these nut-free.)
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease a cookie sheet, unless it is non-stick. Place an empty glass cup in the refrigerator (this will make sense later).
  2. Whisk cocoa powder and oil in a medium-sized bowl until combined.
  3. Add coconut oil, cocoa syrup, baking powder, and salt to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
  4. Add mashed banana and liquid vanilla stevia; stir until combined.
  5. Mix in the flour. Just before all of your ingredients are combined, mix in chopped nuts (or dried fruit or chocolate chips). The batter will be crumbly, so feel free to ditch the mixing spoon and use your hands!
  6. Form 1 1/2" balls, making sure that the batter isn't too crumbly or else they will fall apart in the oven. Place on cookie sheet, and gently flatten with the bottom of the cold glass (I told you this would make sense later!)
  7. Bake for 7-10 minutes on the middle rack of your oven. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack, as these cookies are crumbly and may break if moved when they are still warm.
  8. Brew some coffee or make some chocolate milk to dip these in and enjoy!
I so love snow days!

And now, the giveaway! FOUR winners will receive:
  • one bottle of NuNaturals Pure Liquid Vanilla Stevia
  • one bottle of NuStevia Cocoa Syrup
  • one bottle of NuStevia Cocoa Mint Syrup
  • one 50-packet box of NuStevia NoCarb Stevia packets
In addition, each of the winners will also receive a free bonus package. The total retail value of each package is $70.00. To enter, all YOU have to do is leave me a comment telling me what you love to do on snow days! If it doesn't snow where you live, tell me what you love to do on your days off! The contest will close on January 29, 2016 at 11:59PM.  Four winners will be announced Saturday, January 30th.

If you don't want to participate in the giveaway, or if you're not selected as a winner, head over to  the NuNaturals site and save 15% on your ENTIRE order with code BLG0616. This code is valid through June 30, 2016. Please also check out NuNaturals on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get more information and learn about their entire product line!