Tasting Out STRONG & KIND Bars by KIND Snacks: A Review and Thoughts


Strong and Kind bars

The fun thing about doing what I do is that sometimes I get the chance to try out new products on the market and offer my opinion on them. The super awesome folks over at Kind Snacks recently sent me over some of their brand new bars to taste, and if you’re at all familiar with Kind bars, you know they are de-li-cious—so I was all in for this taste test. Kind bars are well-known for their sweet and savory mix of ingredients that offer good amounts of fiber and protein without tons of sugar (at least 8 varieties of Kind bars boast only 3-5g per bar). So, what was so new about this “new” line?

Besides the fact that 2014 NBA MVP Kevin Durant is the face of Strong & Kind (check out what awesome role he has in this partnership), the new line of bars has two main new things to offer: bold flavor and 10g of protein per bar. (Sugar content is about the same.) When you consider that regular Kind bars average about 5g of protein (with the exception of the Almond Walnut Macadamia With Peanuts  + Protein variety, which also has 10g of protein), this new line has something very different to offer—particularly for the person looking to get an extra intake of protein with their diet. The Kind Snacks website attributes these ingredients like almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and pea crisps to the extra boost of protein in these bars.

I had so much fun trying out the bars, and as usual, they were scrumptious! (They barely lasted past the taste test.) Below are the details on the taste test and thoughts on the new Strong & Kind bars. Thanks again to Kind Snacks for this fun opportunity!

“Being kind isn’t a sign of weakness—you gotta be strong to be kind.”

Kevin Durant

The Bars

strong and kind bars

The first thing I noticed about the new flavors was their interesting flavors! When they said bold, they meant BOLD. The Strong & Kind line wants to surprise your taste buds with a ton of flavor and something very different from what you’re used to: spices! Here are the five new flavors of the Strong & Kind bars.

  1. Hickory Smoked
  2. Roasted Jalapeno
  3. Honey Mustard
  4. Thai Sweet Chili
  5. Honey Smoked BBQ

The Testers

Because I wanted to get the opinion of someone else, I enlisted a male counterpart to help me test out the new bars, who we’ll call “T”. The profile on the male tester, I think, is definitely a person that Kind Snacks is will be targeting with this new line: someone who is health-conscious and active with an appreciation for great tasting snacks.

On my end, I have a similar profile with one key difference—which I think makes the high-protein count in the Strong & Kind bars particularly important: I’m vegetarian. It’s difficult for me to pack in enough protein into my diet, especially in my snacks, without taking in just as much sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. My interest was definitely piqued!

We offered our opinions on factors of smell, taste, aftertaste and overall enjoyment of each of the bars; we also gave a rating on a scale of 1-10 for each bar. Our thoughts are listed below!

The Taste Tests

Hickory Smoked

T: This bar immediately has a smell of BBQ chips when you open the package. It also tastes like BBQ, with a very distinctly meaty taste. I didn’t find that this tasted like a snack—it was almost more like a meal, being more satiating than refreshing (compared to the sweeter “candy bar-like” Kind bars). I found that this had kind of an onion-y aftertaste—which I didn’t particularly love.

Overall rating: 6/10

F: I also had a distinct thought of BBQ chips when I smelled this bar —which I like, so it wasn’t a turnoff for me. I didn’t think the bar had as strong of a BBQ chip flavor though, which I also really appreciated since BBQ flavor makes me usually think of meat. The flavor of the almonds comes through nicely, and you get a great balance of taste. Overall, I really loved that you get a yummy BBQ chip taste without it tasting like a greasy snack!

Overall rating: 7/10

Roasted Jalepeno

T: This bar smelled good off the bat — has a smoky, slightly spicy smell. It tasted very much like a savory snack mix, but it isn’t as meaty as the Hickory Smoked bar. This bar was a hit with me, and I’d definitely buy this variety!

Overall rating: 8/10

F: I LOVED the way this bar smelled; it had a slightly spicy smell to it—and I’m a sucker for anything jalapeno-flavored snacks, so I was intrigued and definitely pleased before trying it out. The taste itself is very punchy, with just enough spicy flavor so it gets your taste buds dancing and wanting more. Based on the spice meter, I was expecting more jalapeno flavor and was only mildly disappointed. Overall, delicious!

Overall rating: 7/10

Honey Mustard

T: Not a lot to say about this one other than: I was a BIG FAN! This bar tastes almost exactly like honey mustard pretzel bites, but they have so much more nutritional value. Definitely an  awesome replacement for an unhealthy but delicious snack.

Overall rating: 9/10

F: The first thing I noticed about this bar is that it STRONGLY smells and tastes honey mustard (compared to the Jalepeno bar, which was a bit milder). So, if you like honey mustard-flavored snacks, this one is for you. Luckily, I do, so I did enjoy the bar but didn’t love the mustard aftertaste. This is the type of bar I’d pick up if I was specifically craving something tangy and punchy.

Overall rating: 6/10

Honey Smoked BBQ

T: I particularly didn’t think this bar tasted like BBQ chips—I got more of a Carolina-style, vinegar-based BBQ flavor from this Strong & Kind bar. But because it tasted like actual BBQ to me, I felt like I was eating meat—which I, personally, don’t love in a dry snack. On that note, I think if you like jerky, this bar is for you!

Overall rating: 5/10

F: I, on the other hand, thought these tasted very much like BBQ chips (I also don’t know what real BBQ tastes like). I’ll agree that there is definitely a very meaty quality from the nuts and the flavor, so I wasn’t the hugest fan as a vegetarian. For me, this variety lacked the savory sweetness of the Hickory Smoked bar, and the flavor had much more pow to it. If you want something like that in your snack, you will definitely love this bar.

Overall rating: 5/10

Thai Sweet Chili

T: Yum! The flavor of this bar is just as interesting as the name. It has a tantalizing smell and the taste has hints of coconut and ginger, while also incorporating that spicy kick. (Almost has a bit of Sriracha Sauce taste in the background!) I immediately thought of Panang Curry when I tasted this bar—loved it!

Overall rating: 9/10

F: If you like Thai food, you will go crazy for this bar—but that’s not to say it TASTES just like Thai food. The flavor is wonderfully surprising (I, too, was most intimidated by the name of this flavor!), managing to delivery a creamy, coconut-y taste without being too much and had a delicious aftertaste (but no funky breath!). It tastes like a snack I might find in an Asian grocery store, and it was definitely the most unusual and memorable flavor of the bunch.

Overall rating: 9/10

Summary of the Strong & Kind Taste Test

The unique and particularly notable quality about the new Strong & Kind bars are their savory quality and their likeness to your everyday snacks. They are an exceptional replacement for unhealthy snacks that we’re all so prone to succumbing in those impulse buys. For your health-conscious and active person, especially, the Strong & Kind bars offer unique flavors with a salty and savory quality and with a huge boost of protein.

The flavors are both unique and familiar, creating the perfect balance of surprise and comfort in your daily snacking. There really wasn’t any of these bars that we wouldn’t eat (seriously, they’re all gone now). If you’re a loyal Kind bar snacker, then you might have an initial hesitation to dissociating yourself from the conventional sweet/salty taste of a Kind bar. But you are in for a pleasant surprise because this is exactly what was missing from the line of snack bars that you don’t feel bad eating. Kudos to Kind for an awesome new line of snack bars!

 

 

 

 

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Kudos to You! Finally, An Online Shopping Site With A+ Customer Service


I’m all about giving kudos where it’s well-deserved — especially when it comes to good customer service (and it’s pretty rare nowadays). So, today I want to tell you about a company that has blown me away with their amazing customer service: Shoplately.com along with one of their featured sellers glint & gleam.

It’s pretty unanimously agreed upon that shopping online comes a fair share of ups and downs: the convenience of not leaving your home and browsing through merchandise at your leisure without the hassle of crowds and lines vs. the teeth-pulling difficulty of reaching a real human being through automated customer service systems and then actually having an issue being solved. More often than not, the customer has to either:

  1. Fill out an mind-numbingly irritating form that’s — understandably necessary, but also like filling out a letter to Santa Clause: you’re hopeful it’ll be read and will result in that gift you want so bad, but you’re realistic — customer service is probably just a myth someone made up.
  2. Call a 1-800 number that has you go through a maze-like game of “where will you end up next if you press this number?” only to make you call back over and over, hoping you’ll just get through to a freaking PERSON to talk to.
  3. Giving up and losing your money, merchandise and hope in online shopping, altogether.

It’s truly a shame, but this is really what bad customer service in online shopping companies has been like for me, and I’m sure for about 562,773 people (but that’s just an estimate). So, when I had such an issue with a company and its customer service not only solved it for me, but went to such great lengths to make sure I  was happy, I wanted to take this opportunity to dole out an appropriate amount of kudos.

The Issue:

About a month ago, I ordered a beautiful bag from a company called Shoplately.com, which sells gorgeous fashion accessories from various sellers. This particular bag was by the seller glint & gleam, and I’ve bought multiple items by this seller and from this site — always with great experiences. The quality is impeccable, and the service is great. The bag in question was the Cool Contrast Structured Handbag in Turquoise and Orange. I had been looking for a great summer bag, and I was about to make a big move from Texas to New York City, and this bag was on their Sale Rack for a mere $40 — I was sold!

Shoplately’s merchandise usually took about one business week to arrive and I was leaving in eight days, so I had no worries it would make it on time. However, when the time came for me to leave, my bag wasn’t there. …and let the saga begin…

The Resolution: 

I’ve had minor questions about my purchases before, and have always gone to Twitter with my concern. Within minutes, I had a response from their account asking me to fill out an inquiry on the site. Very impressive! I did this, and I was told within the next day that USPS took a longer time to deliver larger packages, and the company would be switching over to UPS for this exact reason to deliver items like purses.

Now, I was pretty upset because I had already moved, and when I tracked my package, it had arrived at my old location the next day! I went back and forth with Shoplately for about a week and half telling them I wasn’t happy about paying to have my mail forwarded, and simply wasn’t going to to do it —  until they told me that the seller, glint & gleam, had decided to send me a brand new bag, free of charge!

I was blown away that the company was doing this (especially considering they offer $2.99 flat rate shipping, and the postage for this purse was close to $14.00 both times) — the retail value of the purse alone is $96.00!

The Bag:

The customer service was great, but I am beyond in love with the purse I purchased! Like I said, I’ve purchased other things from Shoplately.com and by the seller glint & gleam, but this bag is one of the best investments I’ve made to-date.

The purse is valued at $96.00, but seeing it in person — I can vouch that it is totally worth that much. The detailing, quality and stylishness of the bag is absolutely phenomenal — the color is super on-trend for the summer, and it’s functional with the extra clip-on strap!

Did I mention the uber chic gold-tone metal feet detailing? I’m so tired of having bags that don’t sit up by themselves, and I made a conscious effort to pick this bag knowing that it wouldn’t be an issue!

Check out these pictures of the Cool Contrast Structure Handbag I purchased from Shoplately.com by glint & gleam:

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Thank you, again, Shoplately and glint & gleam for your impeccable customer service and wonderful product! I will definitely be shopping with you again — and very soon!

Antiperspirant vs. Deodorant: What’s the Difference?


The world is made up of all sorts of opposites, and everyone has their preferred side. There are the cat people and dog people, morning risers and night owls, tea sippers and coffee drinkers, and now there are the antiperspirant users and the deodorant users.

At least for the latter, many people may not even be aware of the difference between the two. Both are used to address sweaty underarms, yes, but contrary to popular belief, there are a couple of key differences between antiperspirants and deodorant that may really be worth knowing. You may just find out that what you’re using isn’t what you think it is, and there may be a better option for you.

Antiperspirant

Antiperspirants work to stop perspiration from occurring by blocking the pores from releasing sweat to “keep you dry” (as you will have heard many-a-commercials tell you.) What this means is that antiperspirant products made by popular brands like Dove, Degree, and Secret include ingredients like aluminum and zirconium to stop up the pores and block the sweat.

In recent times, there has been great speculation about the risk of these ingredients possibly causing or increasing the risk of breast cancer (because the antiperspirant may be applied closely to the area of the breast). While there has been no conclusive evidence linking these ingredients with causing cancer, aluminum-based products like antiperspirants can produce estrogen-like (hormonal) effects on the body when left on the skin to absorb, according to Cancer.gov. And because estrogen bas been known to promote the growth of breast cancer cells, aluminum-based products could indirectly be increasing the risk of breast cancer devleopment.

Additionally, by blocking the pores from releasing sweat and helping to naturally cool your body down, you may experience more discomfort when in a hot environment. If that wasn’t bad enough, clogged pores under your arms could also result in blackheads, pimples, bacterial infections and even cysts, as some studies have shown.

Pros: Stay dry

Cons: Increase the risk of developing breast cancer cells; disrupt body’s natural functions, nasty clogged pores

Deodorant

Deodorants work to stop the odor that may result from the mixture of sweat and bacteria under your arms. While they seem more like a quick fix and a way to mask a problem without actually solving it, they may also be much safer for you.

Companies like Tom’s of Maine make deodorants with what they say, “odor-killing bacteria” so as to solve the smelly problem while still allowing you to sweat. Products like these won’t be the solution to keep you dry, but only to keep you un-smelly.

Pros: Minimize harmful effects on your skin; allow skin to perspirate and keep you cool; address odor

Cons: May result in “pit stains” from wetness

Happy Medium

So, the big question is: what do you do? It may a good idea to invest in both an antiperspirant and a deodorant. Be advised, however, to carefully read the labels; antiperspirants often include deodorants, but a product that is deodorant alone is harder to find.

For days when you are wearing sleveless tops, try opting for the deodorant. Doing so will give you peace of mind that you’re not slathering on aluminum and zirconium on your skin, and you won’t have to worry about the “pit stain” issue.

On “sleeve days” when there is a real chance you may be sweating, use the antiperspirant. At least while there isn’t an overwhelming danger of breast cancer development, it’s probably still okay to use antiperspirants for the days when you’d like to avoid embarrassing wet circles under your arms. Even then, by minimizing your use of them you could make a big difference in minimizing the harmful and unsightly effects they can cause.

>>Watch below for a review comparing Dove Ultimate antiperspirant deodorant and Tom’s of Maine deodorant:

Why You HAVE to Try Suave Professionals Shampoo


Years ago, I used to use Suave shampoo, when I didn’t really give a lot of attention to my hair and was too young to really care. I was just excited that my mom was letting me buy my own shampoo – it didn’t really matter what brand it was. Since then, I’ve come a long way – and it turns out – so has Suave.

I try not to get sucked into TV commercials because I know how exaggerated they usually are. Obviously though – they’re trying to sell a product. But after seeing their commercial over and over, I couldn’t help myself to getting convinced to give Suave’s new line of haircare products a try. The ad for Suave Professionals Shampoo shows a group of stylists at a fashion show styling their models for the runway. They’re raving about the products they’ve been given swearing they’d recommend them to their clients in a heartbeat. Lo and behold – what’s under the secret bottle? SUAVE SHAMPOO! Everyone is shocked of course that it could be Suave and the commercial ends there. It got me curious to see what the hubub was about.

I wanted to buy the big bottles with the pumps because they’re so economical and so HANDY, but when I went to Target to buy the shampoo, they had mismatched pumps. So I had to buy the Humectant line of shampoo that’s made for replenishing moisture to dry or damaged hair, and is comparable to Nexxus’ Therappe line. And I bought the Sleek line of conditioner, which is give your hair a smooth, sleek look and is comparable to Matrix’s sleek.look line.

I have got to say – I was SUPER impressed and pleased the first time I used this shampoo/conditioner. I had been using a line of some salon shampoo for color treated hair, for when I had been dying my hair, and I thought that it was amazing. It smelled great, and left my hair so smooth, especially considering I used to dye it. Then, I tried Suave. WOW – my hair hadn’t been so silky in a long time! And it smells great too! Not only that, but when I shampoo and condition, my hair seems to be a lot less tangled and much more manageable, both in the shower and after, when I’m trying to dry it.

So all in all, the new Suave line is a really great buy. It’s super inexpensive – about $4 for a HUGE pump bottle (can’t remember the exact ounce amount – but it’s a lot!) and you will LOVE the condition your hair is in! They have a ton of other lines for different hair types – including a Naturals line that includes Rosemary and Mint and Almond and Shea Butter. Definitely worth a try!

Check out all their stuff at their site: http://www.suave.com/products