tea

Vegan sausage stew & other faves

I followed last week’s fitness and meal plan almost 100% (like 97%)!  [I’m just as shocked as you are]

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The only thing I’m not posting a recipe for is the lentil “meatloaf” – but that’s because I’ve shared a few others already.  This one was most like the mushroom version (the first link).

The kale salad I made is basically this one.

The chili recipe is here.

And last, but NOT EVEN REMOTELY least, is the sausage & spinach stew.

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Okay, so this is my favorite dish at the moment.  I had the leftovers for lunch and dinner and then lunch twice more.  And each time I couldn’t wait to dig in.  So warm.  So comforting.  Hearty and filling while also light and clean (and vegan).  I’m already planning on making it again next week.

Italian Sausage & Spinach Stew [vegan]

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large handfuls of spinach
  • 5-7 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 Italian flavored vegan sausages, sliced into half moons (I used tofurky brand)
  • 3 large celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 3-5 yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 4 (+/-) cups vegetable broth

Directions:

In a large soup pot, add oil and sauté onions until translucent.  Next add spinach, basil and sausage.  Let the sausage bronze and the greens wilt, then add the veggies and broth.  Increase or decrease the broth depending on how thin or chunky you want the soup to be.  Then cover with a lid and let it simmer until the veggies are cooked. 

If you want, you can chop a few of the potatoes smaller so they over-cook a bit and get mushy to thicken the soup even more. 

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Before cooking (above) and ready to serve (below).

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Freakin’ fantastic.  This is like leftover Thanksgiving stew for vegans.  Mmmmm… 

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On the dessert front, I only have one slice of birthday cake left.  🙁

Good thing I have Halloween candy and cookies exploding from the treat drawer. 

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On the beverage front, I’m obsessed with both of these guys.

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I only bought the vanilla bean crème brulee coffee because Target was all out of the decaf pumpkin flavor.  Boo!  But this was a winner of a backup, so I’ll buy it again.  The Stash tea is the only decaf chai variety that I’ve ever liked in the history of ever, so I’m pretty stoked.  I’m a chai-a-holic, but haven’t been into any of the non caffeinated versions I’ve tried (there aren’t many to choose from).  This is also one of the cheapest teas I’ve ever bought.  Pretty good stuff. 

I’ll be back later with the game plan for this week. 

Ten Reviews

Here are some products I’ve tried lately. Some were bad, some were okay, some were good, and some were awesome. So I figured I’d share. I have no affiliation with any of these companies. These are simply my honest opinions.

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1. Boulder Canyon Natural Foods olive oil kettle cooked potato chips

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I’m not sure what makes these “kettle” exactly, but as far as ingredients go they are clean and pure.  Vegan and gluten free.  And FODMAPs friendly.  Purely potatoes, olive oil and salt.

I thought they were too greasy, but I’m not a potato chip person.  Kyle loved them. 

Would I buy again?  If Kyle wants potato chips, sure.  Otherwise no.  There are other flavors aside from olive oil that I kinda want to try out, though, like malt vinegar & sea salt.  Or sea salt & cracked pepper. 

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2. The Cookie Department fully functional cookies

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I got a sampler from the company with a few of their products.

They only have one vegan cookie (the Great Full cookie above), so the rest were Kyle’s to review. 

The Great Full cookie was okay.  I didn’t think it really met the dessert qualification in that it was too healthy tasting.  Not enough fat to be called a cookie.  It was more like a breakfast treat to me because it was kinda bready.  It’s cool that it has sweet potato in it, but they should probably just call it an cranberry oatmeal breakfast bake.

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In order of flavor preference from best to worst not best, Kyle liked: awaken baked, chocolate chip nookie, tough cookie.  The flavors were good, but the texture wasn’t his fave.  [And I agree]

These aren’t soft chewy cookies.  Both of us are into softer cookies with some give, as opposed to cookies that have a crispy crumbly texture.  So that is probably a big factor in our less than enthusiastic reviews. 

I will say, however, that they weren’t overly sweet, which was nice.  Sometimes eating desserts at night can give Kyle a stomach ache or headache (he’s surprisingly sensitive to sweets) and he said these didn’t do that at all.  The chocolate chip nookie wasn’t even the sweetest one.  The awaken baked took that honor, but it’s dominant flavor was still coffee.  That’s probably why it was his number one.  I had a bite of the peanut butter flavor (tough cookie) and it didn’t have nearly enough peanut flavor for my liking.  Plus it had nut chunks, which I’m not a fan of. 

Would I buy them again?  Not likely.  I like chewy cookies, plus it’s pretty rare for me to buy desserts instead of bake them myself. 

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3.  Sun Chlorella Well Well Wow

I got a sample of this and thought it was an interesting product (aside from the ridiculous name).  It’s caffeine free, but meant to give you some extra pep in your step.  Like a 5 hour energy drink with natural goodness and no nasty crap.

I didn’t end up drinking it though, since the warnings for breast feeding moms made me nervous.  Kyle took it with him on his business trip and said it tasted gross.  He could only tolerate a few sips.  For anyone who’s ever tried Echinacea drops, it’s flavor is like that stuff.

Would I buy again?  Negative.  While it’s probably good for you, if the flavor isn’t there, I’m not going to spend money on it.  Unless I’m sick.

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4. Larabar ALT bars

I’ve been looking forward to these for a while, so my opinion may be biased.  Kyle, on the other hand, doesn’t particularly like the OG Larabars, so his opinion is untainted. 

We both loved them. 

Flavor wise, the peanut butter cookie was amazing, but all the rest were just as yummy.  And the fact that they have pea protein only makes them better (they don’t taste chalky like other protein bars though, which is a plus in my book).  I’m not the kind of person who tracks my macronutrients, but I do make a conscious effort to get extra protein into our diets since I’m on a low FODMAPs plant based diet and he’s an active dude.  And for the low FODMAPs people, they are sweetened with brown rice syrup and dates (not honey or agave).  Yay! 

Would I buy again?  Yes!  Pumpkin pie and lemon pound cake are actually the ones I crave the most.  Daily. 

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5. Silk vanilla unsweetened almond milk

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I am usually an Almond Breeze girl, through and through, but Silk was on sale for significantly less so I took the plunge.  I also found it interesting that it doesn’t have carageenan.  It does, however, have a few other ingredients acting as thickeners, like locust bean gum and gellan.  Hmmm.

The Silk almond milk has a stronger vanilla flavor than Almond Breeze’s version, which I didn’t really like.  I like vanilla, but there was something overpowering about it.  In coffee it’s fine, but I don’t always want vanilla flavor.  For the record, I have tried the plain Silk before which I do like.  I also like that Silk’s products are non GMO. 

Would I buy again?  Nah.  Even if it’s on sale I’m just going to pay for the more expensive Almond Breeze.

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6. Flamous sprouted multigrain Za’atar chips

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As far as gluten free, vegan, healthy chips go, these were great!  They have a hearty grainy texture and taste that is a cross between a tortilla chip and a whole grain cracker. 

Hooray for wheat-less snack chips that don’t have a million starches instead of non-glutinous grains.  They’re a bit thicker than your average chip, but not in a stale way, just in a sturdy (pile lots of stuff on top) way. 

I could have used a bit more salt though.  [Says the salt fiend]

Would I buy again?  Yeah, if I can find them!  Now that we’ve moved I’ll probably never see them again.  Their website has a store locator/request form since they’re pretty poorly distributed. 

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7. Earth Mama Angel Baby organic comfort tea

Intended for post-partum mamas with recovery needs and raging hormones, this sounded like something I should invest in.  While it’s hard to say if it helped, it tasted good (like cinnamon).  Way better than raspberry leaf tea (which is not tasty at all).

Would I buy again?  I’m not sure.  I’m pretty neutral on it and since I am pretty picky about repeat tea purchases, I’ll probably pass.  But I did get a coupon inside the box so at least my next purchase will be discounted. 

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8. Clearly Kombucha ginger berry

A new Kombucha brand!  And they have a ginger berry flavor!

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And caps with fun messages!

Like most new products I try, I bought this because it was on sale (at Nugget market).  And I loved it!  I haven’t tried any other flavors because how can you pass up on ginger? 

Would I buy again?  Yes yes yes.  I have already…a few times.  Fortunately they’re still on sale so I’m taking advantage.

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9. Cybele’s free to eat chocolate chunk brownie cookies

I suppose I’m kinda a hypocrite after the previous review saying I prefer to make my own baked desserts, but these are most definitely better than anything I could bake.

They are SO chocolate-y and SO good.  And free of the top 8 allergens (dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish).  So yeah, vegan and gluten free.  Win!

They are soft and melt in your mouth.  They are exactly as the name describes – loaded with chocolate (and chunks) and gooey like a brownie.  Can you tell I liked these?  There are 10 in a box and I ate 6 in one session and barely pulled myself away from them.  Unfortunately the remaining 4 didn’t stay as fresh so they weren’t as good texture-wise.  They were more like normal (firm) cookies without the give of a fresh cookie. 

Would I buy again?  Heck yeah!  They are brand new to the market and I’m so excited that there are two other flavors to try.  Cybele Pascal is a genius for creating allergen friendly treats. 

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10. The Republic of Tea twenty herbs tea

I didn’t expect to like this because I rarely like herbal tea.  But I was desperate for a decaf variety and this was the only one left in the Republic of Tea sampler that I got.  I reviewed the other ones I’d tried previously (some were hits, some were misses). 

This was actually really good!  I didn’t add milk or sugar, just drank it plain.  None of the flavors I dislike were dominant (mint, licorice, chamomile, etc.).

Would I buy again?  I believe I will.

Ten Reviews

Here are some products I’ve tried lately. Some were bad, some were okay, some were good, and some were awesome. So I figured I’d share. I have no affiliation with any of these companies. These are simply my honest opinions.

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1. Tazo vanilla rooibos parfait (from Starbucks)

Because I like my tea really (almond) milky, I’m always on the lookout for new decaf varieties that aren’t fruity and don’t have mint or chamomile in them (the two herbal flavors I am not a fan of).  It’s surprisingly hard to find.  And lately fennel is all the rage.  No thanks.  This tea is pretty good.  It’s actually more fruity than I was anticipating, but there’s still more vanilla than anything else.  I make a misto with it (half hot water, half almond milk) and happily gulp it down all day long knowing there’s no caffeine. 

Will I buy again?  Yes.  As long as I’m breast feeding I need as many decaf tea options as possible.

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2. Rudi’s gluten free spinach tortillas

I’ve tried the plain and the fiesta before.  I liked the plain, but the fiesta was just meh in my book (didn’t really have much flavor to differentiate it from the plain to be honest).  I was kinda expecting the same problem with the spinach but I’m happy to say they were flavorful and didn’t crumble or crack like Food For Life’s GF tortillas.  You can store them in the freezer and use them infrequently too (just pull them out to thaw slightly before separating how ever many you need). 

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The ingredient list is semi long, but everything is recognizable and they didn’t upset my gut at all.

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I was way too ambitious with this burrito (tomato, daiya cheddar cheese, and scrambled eggs), so I turned it into a quesadilla.  That required a fork…

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Definitely too packed.

I made another quesadilla with just mozzarella daiya, which actually melted and could be picked up.

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Would I buy again?  Yes, yes yes.

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3. Hi I’m skinny veggie tortilla sticks

These are basically fluff food, but they are really tasty.  Kyle was obsessed with them.  He loved the sweet onion flavor as well.

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They aren’t labeled as gluten free, but from what I can tell they don’t have wheat or gluten ingredients (unsure about “tortilla flour” though).  The ingredient list is actually relatively short, with vegetable seasonings dominating it (after corn).  Don’t worry it’s non GMO. 

Would I buy again?  Yes, for Kyle, because he couldn’t stop talking about how good they were.  For me, I’d pass.  I prefer popcorn if I’m in the mood for light snacking.

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4. Lesser Evil veggie krinkle sticks

These are basically the same as the previous and when I asked Kyle which he liked better he looked at me in a confused way that let me know he thought he was eating the same product. 

These are slightly more nutritious in that they have actual vegetables (potato, corn, spinach, and broccoli) and whole grains (wheat, barley, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, and white corn) in them.  But as you can see, they are not gluten free. 

Would I buy again?  Probably not this flavor (I liked the sea salt ones more).  Even though I preferred these to the Hi I’m Skinny sticks, they aren’t gluten free and I tend to try to stick to wheat-less snacks for FODMAPs reasons. 

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5. hippie chow original granola

Usually I make my own granola, but my parents saw this when they were on vacation and bought it for me because the name is too cute to pass up.  It was awesome!  A great balance of oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit (it had dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, pepitas, almonds, and pecans FYI).  I ate it plain and/or atop oatmeal rather than as cereal with milk. 

Would I buy again?  Since it’s not available where I live, no.  But that’s only because I’m too cheap to buy something online that I already make on my own 24/7.  It’s really good though, so if you see it in your area, try it!

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6. Pure Market Express turtle pie

These raw vegan desserts are CRAZY good.  This was the most decadent one yet (I’ve tried a few before).  I shared it with Kyle and he agreed (and he usually doesn’t like raw food – apparently chocolate and nuts are the exception).  I do have to acknowledge the kcals though (almost 500 for that tiny sliver!).  While I don’t track calories or even pay attention to how much I eat on any given day, I know for a fact that’s a lot for a small dessert.  Since it’s made of quality ingredients, it’s way different than an ice cream sundae of equivalent caloric value.  In the end, I suppose it makes for a good treat once in a while, but definitely not something on the regular. 

Would I buy again?  Sadly, it’s too expensive to justify.  But if Pure Market Express’ items were available locally (they require shipping) then most definitely.

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7. Mary’s Gone Crackers (new??) crackers

I can’t find what these are called on the website because apparently they haven’t been debuted yet?  They were samples from Expo West, and they taste just like graham crackers.  They’re delicious.  Like the rest of Mary’s Gone products, they are gluten free and vegan. 

Would I buy again?  Yes!  I loved them.

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8. Pacific original unsweetened hemp milk

I rarely buy hemp milk and I can’t recall previous brands I’ve tried (we are an exclusively almond milk family).  While I appreciate the protein content in hemp milk (as opposed to other non dairy milks), I’m not in love with it’s flavor.  It tastes chalky.  Like protein powder-y milk.  And it doesn’t mix into coffee or tea (it separates and looks like miso soup).  I used it in cooking, so the flavor was masked, because I didn’t like it plain.  I could see it being okay in a protein shake though since it lends itself to that kind of texture and flavor.

Would I buy again?  Nah.  I wish there were non dairy milks with better protein content, but the good nutritional stats in hemp milk still don’t outweigh the flavor.

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9. Jericho spicy hummus

It’s not often (ever?) that I stray from Sabra, but every once in a while I’m tempted to sample new brands of hummus I see.  Jericho was showcasing at Expo West but I haven’t seen their products elsewhere. 

Their hummus was really thick, a plus in my book, and had a strong tahini flavor.  The herbs on top were also really fresh tasting! 

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This flavor was a bit too spicy for me, but Kyle was a fan. 

Would I buy again?  Probably but I don’t know where to find them.  I’d like to try the original (or any of the other flavors), but I have no idea where to buy them. 

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10. The Republic of Tea sampler

I haven’t tried all of the flavors yet, but of the ones I have tried, here’s the deal.

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Cinnamon Vanilla – sounds heavenly, tasted like cough syrup.  Very weird.

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Coconut Cocoa – a totally dreamy tea bursting with chocolate-y coconut flavor.  Love!

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Ginger Peach – more peach than ginger.  For a fruity tea it was okay.

I haven’t tried the rest because they either have caffeine or mint or chamomile.

Would I buy again?  Yes to the coconut cocoa.  No to the rest.

Oldies but goodies

Just a [link filled] reminder…

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Certain recipes are so good they are worth repeating.  Often.

Like quinoa granola.

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And egg & kale breakfast strata (in muffin form).

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And mushroom miso & squash stew.

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And daiya pizza.

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And vegetarian chorizo & kale rice casserole.

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By the way, I totally figured out what this meal reminds me of.  I am reluctant to share though, since it’s (cringe) Hamburger Helper.  Don’t judge, just make it.

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And baked potatoes with the works.

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[There’s more of that vegan chorizo]

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And mushroom stroganoff.

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[I added TVP this time to increase the protein content]

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And crock pot corn chowder.

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With cornbread on the side.

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And, of course, the classic hippie bowl plate.

Last but not least, a non-home cooked meal, but a favorite nonetheless…

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Chef Tanya’s Nachos.  This is what I would eat for my last meal.  It is so so good.  And seriously massive.

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I got a side salad too, because I felt some veg would even things out.  I love how side salads at vegan places are so much better than the average limp romaine crap.  This salad had shredded carrots, shredded beets, sprouts, and home-made croutons with a nice tangy balsamic vinaigrette.

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Kyle got the bistro steak sandwich with sweet potato fries and raved about everything.

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I realize that was mostly dinner fare.  I’m still off the savory (egg) kick as a way to start the day…still doing more granola and oats.  Hot grains with tons of sweet toppings used to be my standard AM choice, so it’s still weird that pregnancy made me crave different things.  Maybe it’s the protein.  Who knows.  Either way, I’ve been increasing my former fave, the huge oatmeal bowl.  This one had peanut butter & granola.  With a side of decaf chai tea and Real Housewives of BH (we don’t have cable so these episodes are months delayed).

Coffee & Tea

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Food related gifts are always my favorites.

Which is why I was so excited when my sister gave me The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread cookbook.  And my parents gave me an aerolatte.

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This may be an even easier way to get my coffee frothy!  I mean, I love my caffe froth, but the clean-up with the aerolatte makes it a million times faster.  And let’s be honest, what’s more annoying than an appliance that takes a year to clean (I’m looking at you juicer and food processor).

I started with my mug half full of almond milk.  Then I whizzed the aerolatte around in it for a while.  And boom, milk with foam!

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It gets bigger if you heat it in the microwave afterwards, so if you’re starting with cold milk, I recommend warming it a little before and then a little after.

Then I added my coffee and a drizzle of maple syrup, and voila!

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What a lovely way to start the day.

I can’t wait to try this with chai tea and milk.  Home-made chai lattes anyone?

Speaking of tea, this is my new favorite.

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I was worried I’d get addicted and never find it again (this was the only box on the shelf in Whole Foods when I stumbled across it randomly).  But Santa gave me another box in my stocking so I’m set for a while.

It’s hard for me to find decaf tea that I love because most of them are herbal and I don’t like chamomile or mint (which are in virtually every herbal tea).  I also don’t really like fruity teas because I usually want to make them milky (and milky fruit tea is just plain gross).  So this organic ginger tea was a huge find.

It’s not as spicy as you’d think (given the name of the tea) and it works when milk is added.  And I can drink it all day long without worrying about the caffeination issue.

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Hopefully my baby won’t come out addicted to java because I have been so cautious in how much I take in.  I wouldn’t mind if he was addicted to almond milk or ginger though.  We’d be quite the pair.