This month, I eagerly joined back in, though in the back of my mind, I was a bit worried that the program might have grown too big. When I first participated last year, there were only 30 participants. Now the program has grown to over 1,300 participants thanks to
word-of-mouth word-of-blog plus media coverage in local papers across the country and, a suprise to me, an article in the VegNews newsletter that mentioned my exchange with Raised By Culture! I was worried that with so many participants, many might not be serious foodies. However, it turned out I was worried for nothing! Lindsay does such an amazing job organizing the program, and my pen-pals this month were AWESOME. I’ve already signed up to participate again in the October Swap!
I sent a package to Melissa of The Bacon Runner. Though our blog names are quite different (veggie vs bacon), she and I actually have quite a bit in common. We exchanged a couple of emails about our love of travel, and our experiences in Copenhagen and Berlin, which we’ve both visited. I also think it is SO awesome/inspiring that she runs a race (ranging from 5K to Marathon) almost every weekend. She asked for healthy treats without too much sugar, and mentioned a love of very-dark-chocolate and spicy foods. On top of that, of course I kept it all Vegan. Be sure to check out her blog to see what I sent. In return, I was so surprised to receive a hand-written Thank You note from Melissa, she’s so sweet!
The package I received was from Jacki of Dare 2 Dream, Dare 2 Do, who is such an awesome woman! Her blog is about going after your dreams and living your best life – including healthy eating, fitness, finding happiness, and how to “Be the Change“. I was excited to see that Jacki recently challenged herself to try out a Vegan Diet, Vegetarian Diet, Flexitarian Diet, and Paleo Diet for one week each to see which is the most natural fit for her and her family. This meant that she was totally familiar with Vegan products, resulting in a spectacular box of goodies for me!
I was excited to see lots of snack foods, since I am always looking for snacks to eat at the office. I planned to bring most of my goodies to work, but Mike asked me not to, since everything looked so good he wanted to taste it all!
Lucky Mike, since there were two Chocolate Chunk Breakfast Cookies, I let Mike have one of his own and we split the Banana Walnut Cookie. Somewhat a cross between a Clif Bar and a cookie, these definitely made for some tasty and filling snacks.
The Justin’s Nut Butters were delicious. The Chocolate Almond Butter was dessert-worthy on crackers – sweet, rich, and with a hint of salt that made me wish I had pretzels on hand for dipping. I ate the Maple Almond Butter straight from the packet, and I’m saving the Chocolate Hazelnut Butter for a special treat
Jacki sent me Surf Sweet’s Gummy Swirls & Jelly Beans, plus I also happened to have a bag of Surf Sweets Gummy Bears on hand from the “Happy Belly Bag” I received as a gift. I made a plate of all 3 candies for Mike and I to taste-test together and they all were so delicious with such great textures and flavors. In my opinion, these Vegan (gelatin-free) candies tasted even better than the old-fashioned kind! The Bears were bright and punchy, the Gummy Swirls like Creamsicles, and the Jelly Beans so fruity, we loved them all!
The Vega Smoothies made for great recovery drinks after some particularly tough workouts. I made the Bodacious Berry smoothie in a shaker with some Almond Milk and Tart Cherry Juice. The powder dissolved very well compared to other brands I’ve tried. For my Tropical Tango mix, I threw it in the blender along with Kale, Bananas, and Almond Milk. I enjoyed both drinks and felt re-energized after drinking them, though I wish the powders were a little less sweet & candy-like.
And I saved the best for last – I loved the Veggie Go’s Fruit & Veggie Leathers which were completely new to me. Most Fruit Leathers I’ve seen are made with concentrated fruit juice, but these are made from whole organic fruits & veggies. These have a fraction of the sugar & calories of a normal fruit leather but the same great taste and really fun flavors like Sweet Potato Pie and Carrot Ginger. Mike found these to be a bit too chewy and leathery for his taste, but I liked that the chewiness made for a longer-lasting snack.
Thank you so much, Jacki! I loved my treats!
This month, I also received a surprise package from a former Foodie Pen-Pal match of mine – Laura of Becoming the Odd Duck. I was lucky enough to meet Laura in person when she visited Chicago earlier this summer. Of course, our conversation was very food-focused, and with her RD-to-be background, I learned so much from her! She remembered that I had said I was never able to find PB2, which I was curious to try, and surprised me by mailing me a jar of my own. Isn’t she so thoughtful?
PB2 is a low-fat Powdered Peanut Butter, made from pressing the oil out of peanuts, for a lower fat product. Of course, nuts contain healthy-fats which are important for good health, but since they are so calorie-dense it’s very easy to over-do it. Since I often crave nuts more than once a day, I love that this powdered peanut butter can be used with abundance to satisfy my nutty cravings. I had fun experimenting with it in Smoothies and Oatmeal, thanks to suggestions from Laura and Sarah!
Want to see what everyone else got this month? There were hundreds of participants in Foodie Pen Pals this month, and you can check out all of their posts here.
Want to become a Foodie Pen-Pal? Foodie Pen-Pals is open to both bloggers and readers in the US, Canada, and UK. If you’d like to participate next month, more information and the registration form can be found here . Registration for this month closes at the end of the day on October 4th, so don’t delay!
I’d love to hear from you!
Have you tried any of these foods before?
Which of these foods would you most like to try?