An Epic Foodie Pen Pals

I know, I know…  every month I’ve gushed on and on about how I lucked out and got such an awesome foodie pen-pal.  Truly, all of my pen pals have been amazing – they’ve lovingly picked out such delicious treats for me – but this month really takes the cake.  Just wait till you see how much my foodie pen pal spoiled me this month.

I shipped a box off to Jeff in Northern Wisconsin.  Jeff gave me free reign to “go crazy” – no need to play it safe – so I had a great time picking out an eclectic mix of foods for him.  As an example of something eclectic, has anyone tried Artisana‘s new Blue Algae Nut Butter?  This stuff is so trippy! It’s sweet and lemony and not at all what I had initially expected.

I received my package from Dana, a non-blogger in Tennessee who surely is an expert at seeking out gourmet foods!  I really enjoyed getting to know Dana – she is truly so kind and generous in everything she does.  Not only did she surprise me by sending a box overflowing with the highest quality items, she is even more kind and generous in her every day life.  For her day job, she works towards making her community healthier through her work at one of Tennessee’s largest rural health departments.  After hours, she volunteers with End Slavery TN as a community educator, working to educate health care professionals on how to recognize victims of Human Trafficking to get them the help they need.

Surprised to hear that Slavery still exists?  According to the End Slavery TN website,

There are more slaves now than at any time in history

“Today’s slaves are forced into labor, service or sex slavery to make money for their “owners.” You see, the same people who traffick drugs and weapons realize that selling people is more profitable and less risky. People can be sold repeatedly. In the case of a sex slave, that might be 10, 20 or more times a day. In labor slavery, goods and services are continually produced without compensating the laborer.”

Two simple ways we can help:

      1. Buy Fair Trade Products
      2. Learn the Red Flags to identify a victim
 The End Slavery TN website is full of helpful information if you’d like to learn more about Human Trafficking and modern-day Slavery and how you can help.

Thank you, Dana, for my amazing package, and for all the work you do to make the world a better place!

 Can you believe all these wonderful goodies Dana sent me?

And as amazing as she is, of course she even went the extra mile seeking out several locally made and fair-trade goodies, and even a couple where some of the proceeds went to charity!

I received not one but TWO packs of Fair-Trade Coffee from Just Love Coffee Roasters of Murpheesboro, TN –  5% of all of their sales go towards their Coffee to Water project through Charity: Water. Additionally, proceeds from the Pinky Beans also go towards Breast Cancer research and support.


My two favorite items were the Watermelon Rind Relish from her local farmer and the Peach Habanero Jam from The Nashville Jam Company.  Both products were local, contained such pure ingredients, were delicious, and So Unique!

I’d never tried Watermelon Rind Relish before so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Dana suggested serving it with Beans, on a Salad, or on a veggie-dog!  Sure enough, it actually does taste similar to a pickle relish, but milder and sweeter.  

The Peach Habanero Jam was the perfect blend of sweet and peachy with a Kick!  Dana makes a salad dressing out of jam, apple cider vinegar and oil.  She also suggested having it on plain toast, or mixed with cream cheese.

I haven’t tried them in all those ways yet, but I have certainly been enjoying them.  I swapped in Peach Habanero Jam instead of Orange Marmalade in a dish of Sweet & Spicy Soba Noodles, and I got creative with a cracker topped with the Tahini, the spicy peach jam, and the relish.  Mike looked at me a little funny as I enjoyed my cracker, but I loved the sweet, spicy, sour, and nutty combo! 


The cracker I used was also from my pen-pal – Dr. Kracker’s Pumpkin Seed Cheddar crispbreads, which Dana said are her favorite Fall Cracker. I also had a box of Dr. Kracker’s Seedlander crackers on hand. I love how pure and simple the ingredients are in Dr. Kracker products, and these made for very filling snacks.


Speaking of snacks, it would be difficult to find snacks for the office healthier than the next items:

I love how  That’s It fruit bars show all of the ingredients on the front of the packaging.  One bar was made of nothing but apples and mangoes, and the other was simply apples and cherries.  That’s it!

The Go Raw  bars were new to me and were the perfect blend of salty, crunchy, and chewy with a hint of sweet.  I especially loved the small size, which was the perfect snack-size portion for me.


In addition to healthy snacks, there was also a good amount of sweet treats, including one of Justin’s new Peanut bars, which was as delicious as a Snicker’s bar but without the hydrogenated oil and artificial flavoring.


She also sent me two bite-sized pieces of New Tree Chocolate.  I expected the Dark Chocolate to be my favorite, but the Milk Chocolate Lavender took me by surprise.  I never really knew what lavender tasted like before, but it definitely added something special to this chocolate.  I would have never guessed the bright, subtly lime-like flavor in the chocolate was lavender if I hadn’t read it on the label! 

Last but not least, I also received some Chia seeds (which I love to mix in with overnight oatmeal), Jolly Llama Hand Sanitizer, and Bragg Organic Sprinkle.


The Jolly Llama Hand Santizer is going to get a lot of use kept on my desk at work, not only because I do a lot of snacking at my desk, but also because the bright lavender scent is calming and energizing at the same time – exactly what I need around me on a hectic day at the office.

And the Bragg Organic Sprinkle is going to be a much-used fixture on my kitchen counter.  This stuff is SO good, it just might wind up in a few of my family member’s Christmas stockings this year.  I’ve been sprinkling this salt-free blend of 24 herbs on everything from pasta to buttered toast.  I’ve even added to the water while cooking quinoa.  Yum!

Now seriously, can you believe how spoiled I am?

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 November 4th, so don’t delay!

I’d love to hear from you!

Have you tried any of these products before?

What new products have you tried recently?