Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals: July

If you read my guest posts over at The College Cuisiner, you know that my friend Marisa has given me a lot of tastes for food over the past years. My love of chinese food.. and cous cous.. and chai tea.. But this year, she introduced me to two great ideas - Foodie Pen Pals and What I Ate Wednesday - both of which you will get to see this week.

Being in Montana has been somewhat of a culinary struggle. (By that, I mean a TOTAL culinary struggle.) There are no ice cream shops or frozen yogurt within one hundred miles, we’ve yet to find a restaurant or coffee shop worth visiting twice, and compared to the stores back east, our grocery options are incredibly limited. When I saw Marisa’s reveal post for last month’s Foodie Pen Pals, I knew I had to join in.

The premise is simple - each month, bloggers (or readers) are matched with one person to send a package to and one person to receive a package from. Then, you pack $15 worth of yummy things into a package with a handwritten note and send it on its way. Plus, you receive a package in return! And really.. who doesn’t love getting packages in the mail? Especially ones filled with food?

So I signed up.

At first, I was a little nervous to join in because of my food allergies. If something arrived that wasn’t safe for me to eat, Trevor couldn’t enjoy it either - hooray for the wheat-free household. But, when my pen pal e-mailed me to ask about food allergies, it turned out that she was gluten-free too (What an odd coincidence, right?). Immediately, I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to explain what we could and couldn’t eat.

Somehow, in another strange twists of coincidence, I received my package from Marisa Rodriguez, a blog reader from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Can you believe it? When I saw the return address on the envelope, I crossed my fingers for Utz Potato Chips and Lebanon Bologna (though I don’t think the second would hold up well through the mail.. huh?). Unfortunately, neither of my wishes came true but instead, I opened the package to these wonderful treats.

You’ll have to forgive the sub-par photos - I was too eager to start snacking!

In my package, I received products that were mostly new to me - Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale (Natural Nacho flavor), roasted chickpea snacks from The Good Bean, Artisana Cashew Butter and an Endangered Species Dark Chocolate Bar (which we consumed before even thinking to take a picture, oops?).

Before taking a bite of this, I had never tried kale! I had once had a sip of a sausage soup with kale but I don’t know that my soup experience counts for much. With the green smoothie trend taking over the blogging world, I’ve heard a lot about kale so I was anxious to try this. It’s definitely interesting! Probably not my favorite snack in the world but it was neat to try. Plus, it’s gluten-free, nut-free, not baked or fried, natural and vegan - impressive right? And, it’s made in Pennsylvania!

The chickpea snacks were new to us, too. Eating gluten-free means finding new starches and flours and one of those is garbanzo bean flour. So, over the past few years, my consumption of chickpeas has definitely grown. I loved these little packages and the silly figures pictured on the front. The cinnamon package has a fisherman, while this looks like some impressive gymnastics. Marisa sent us the Sweet Cinnamon and Sea Salt flavors. Both delicious and a great mindless snack for those times when you’re watching a movie or making a long drive (which is pretty common in Montana).

The last little treat, the cashew butter, has yet to be opened. Since I’m allergic to peanuts, I’ve never really enjoyed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.. or peanut butter and apples.. or any of those staple foods my boyfriend seems to live on! (I swear I have to buy a jar of crunchy peanut butter every week.) As fans of almond butter, we are sure that we’ll love this but haven’t found the perfect use yet. We’ve been trying to avoid purchasing bread lately so toast hasn’t been an option. I was going to have it today with an apple but of course, Trevor finished the last one. Any suggestions?

While I loved receiving a package, I think I loved making one even more. Elena from the Happy Little Gnome got to enjoy lots of on-the-go snacks and some popcorn that I was envious of. (Life is hard without a microwave.) Next month, I’m hoping to scope out some local goodies to include - after all, they seem to be obsessed with huckleberries, here. But, you can find out about the package I sent this month right over here. You should also take the time to stay and check out her other posts that range from topics like a new puppy to the color run - once again, envious of both! She writes about healthy living and baking, and always shares great photos. What more could you want? 

If you want to participate next month, there is still time - click on over to The Lean Green Bean for more information and send in your form by August 4th! I know that I’m really looking forward to doing this again.


  1. I have grown to really enjoy kale chips so you might give them another chance. I hear they are good crumbled over popcorn. As for the cashew butter, it might be good straight on a spoon! :) It might be tasty in a thai chicken dish?

  2. I could see the popcorn and kale combination being tasty! I really do want to try kale in a green smoothie, too. And I thought about trying it straight from the package, the cashew better I mean, but I feel like I need to make an occasion out of it! Thai chicken sounds like a good idea!! I’ve never been able to do the peanut sauces so it could be a neat twist! Plus, living in the middle of rural Montana, I’m really missing thai food!! Thanks for the suggestions!

  3. Thanks for the great review Jennifer! So glad you like them :)

    1. Of course! It was the first time we tried your products but I’ve already shared with friends who love them now too!