Gerber Lil’ Beanies for the (Twin) Win-Win

Hey there. We’re the ‘lil Burghers twins and of course we do everything exactly alike. You know. How twins do. We’re best at eating all of our meats, fruits and veggies and Gerber snacks.

Gerber

Believe them? Ha! We’ve been struggling with getting both twins to eat like they should. Ava loves meats. Isla loves carbs. They both are “eh” about getting in all of their fruits and veggies. They both love some snacks.

Ever since birth, I’ve been keeping my eye on their nutrition. Not to keep them from having weight gain issues, but the exact opposite. Most of you probably remember when they were “failure to thrive”, measuring in the first (and less) percentile of weight for their age. That was some scary times. So it’s no surprise that when I see them throwing food around, I get a little cranky.

Luckily, they both love some snacks. Tricking them into getting their veggies and other key nutrients in through snacks has made for a win-win situation. We introduced Gerber® Lil’ Beanies™ and now they get goodness from this snack made from navy beans. For the twins, this means flavor and nutrition. For mom, it means I get to say yes to the twins more often when they beg for a “nack”.

Take for instance when we went to Target to grab some supplies for our upcoming vacation. We knew the Gerber Lil’ Beanies™ would be perfect for a road trip snack, but the girls thought that the road trip was right then and there and didn’t understand why they couldn’t just dig in and eat up. There might just have been a mini meltdown in the baby aisle.

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We grabbed two flavors, both equally loved by the girls. Isla was ready to chow down on the Original while Ava was begging for the White Cheddar & Broccoli to open itself and get in her belly.

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It was so mean of us to make them wait until they got home, huh?

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We know that good things come in twos, so we’re sharing a way for you to get a discount on your next Target purchase of Gerber Lil’ Beanies™. First, you’ll need to login to iBotta and grab up this offer to earn cash back on the purchase of Lil’ Beanies™ (while supplies last). Next, head out to your local Target. Find the baby aisle (in ours, we always forget that baby food and diapers are up front and not with baby furniture and clothes) and look for these cans of win-win choices. Your toddler will thank you and you’ll feel better about giving into the ‘nack. (Oh, and after you check out, be sure to go back to iBotta and submit your purchase so you get that cash back! Win-win!)

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About Lil’ Beanies (information from Gerber):

The first bean-based snack in the baby aisle, Gerber® Lil’ Beanies™ is made from the goodness of navy beans to deliver 2 grams of protein (9% Daily Value), 1 gram of fiber, and 10% Daily Value of Vitamin E per serving. A delicious and nutritious treat, your little ones will love it for its taste and you’ll love it for its nutrition. Gerber® Lil’ Beanies™ Snack is baked, not made with genetically engineered (GM) ingredients, and is naturally flavored!

We’ll just be over here, enjoying our snacks! xoxo, Ava & Isla

Perfect Pudding Pops (a #BacktoSchoolSimple Recipe)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BacktoSchoolSimple #CollectiveBias 

Oh, Back to School. How is it less than a week away? We’ve gone through Kindergarten Orientation, started earlier bedtimes, bought new clothes / shoes, and did our back to school food shop at our local Giant Eagle. Grabbing everything we needed for lunches, snacks, and a special first day of school treat (see the Perfect Pudding Pops, below!) was easy and convenient at Giant Eagle. (Bonus? I got to add some fun, healthy snacks to my lunches, too!) We set out to grab quick win items, and the Bigs had control over what went in the shopping cart. Everything on our list was checked off in one quick and easy stop.

Perfect Pudding Pops

Pudding Pops

I wanted to be sure the kids had a fun first day of school treat, so I asked my chef-in-the-making (Arianna) to look at our list and help me come up with a fun recipe. She wanted to fill Snack Packs with some of the fun Oreo and Goldfish treats we found while at Giant Eagle, and Evan chimed in that we needed some healthy additions, too. We ended up deciding to grab some strawberries to mix in, then put them in the freezer for a cool treat (as the first day of school is of course forecast to be a hot one).

To make our Perfect Pudding Pops, we needed to pull our ingredients together:

  • Snack Pack Pudding cups (we wanted chocolate and vanilla)
  • Goldfish crackers (assorted, we chose Chocolate Mint + Pretzel and s’mores)
  • Mini Oreo Cookies
  • Strawberries
  • Optional, Popsicle Sticks
  • Optional, popsicle molds

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The Bigs were pretty excited about those Goldfish, by the way.

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Putting together the Perfect Pudding Pops was pretty easy, too. We simply:

  1. Open Snack Packs.
  2. (Optional) Spoon into the popsicle makers.
  3. Crumble add-ins.
  4. (Optional, if not using popsicle makers) Add in popsicle stick.
  5. Cover.
  6. Put in freezer for about 6 hours – perfect for during the school day. Pro tip – don’t let these sit for longer than a day – they do get a bit crunchy! 
  7. Push out of the cup or mold and enjoy!

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Yum!

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The Lunch Station

Beyond having a super fun first day of school treat, we wanted to build a station that would help with packing lunches once or twice a week, so the Bigs looked for favorites like Schwebels Bread, JIF Peanut Butter, Smuckers Fruit Spread, Frito Lay snacks, Goldfish Crackers, and Entemanns Little Bites. Of course, we had to be practical and pick up the bags to tuck the goodies in, too!

Back to School Simple

I think we did pretty good, don’t you? What would you have added?

lunch station

The After School Snack Station

To make life easy on Greg, we decided to pick out After School Snacks that stuck with our family theme – a healthy choice and a happy choice. The kids will get to pick one of each from this station in the pantry. No questions asked, except asking when can we go back to Giant Eagle to fill it up! *wink* (Check out gianteagle.com to find your local store.)

after school snack

Personally, I was over the moon with these portion packs because I’ll be using them to get back on track with right sized snacks for me, too! I showed Arianna how to weigh a serving of Goldfish, then we made some portion packs filled with her favorite treat from our shop.

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Up Next? The first day of school!

I *think* that we are ready, at least when it comes to food. Thank goodness we have Giant Eagle as our local headquarters for back to school shopping! Check out how others are using Giant Eagle as their one-stop-shop for back to school.

What’s still on YOUR Back to School To Do List? Share below!

 

Energy Balls

Did you know that today is National Chocolate Chip Day? I decided to celebrate by making two of my favorite recipes that make me feel like I am indulging while still eating healthy. Today I’ll be sharing my recipe for Energy Balls, but tomorrow’s post has a small sneak peek over on my Instagram if you’re impatient and like guessing games.

energy balls

So, the energy balls. These babies became a staple back when I was eating for health, but when I was nursing the twins, I put in a milk making “secret” ingredient (that I’ll share below). They are no bake, but do take some patience. Today, for example, I had to go to and from the refrigerator several times before I had it just right and the mixture was firm enough to make balls. But, as a mom who is always needing to go to the kitchen to feed one of the six mouths in this house, it doesn’t really impact my life. Anyways.

What do I love about them?

  • They are filled with protein and really do make me feel full and energized.
  • They are quick to pop in a snack-size bag and take with on a trip to the gym or commute.
  • Feeling dried cherries and white chocolate today? No big deal – just sub them in for the “original” ingredients I’ve listed.
  • They freeze REALLY well. I took a whole batch with me (frozen) on our road trip to Nurin’s wedding last summer. They survived four days in the car (to and from) as well as Charleston June sunshine, thanks to freezing ahead and putting in snack bags.

And now, for you to also fall in love with them! I highly recommend sticking to the recipe below for SIZING, but feel free to sub in (I’ve listed some options). Note that I say this from experience. Again, I have six mouths to feed, so I am known to cook for an army. This isn’t the time to do so. Enjoy!

Energy Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (uncooked) rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I LOVE semi-sweet, but you can use your favorite – white, milk, etc)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (today I went for The Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter in Chocolate which is great if you have nut allergies in the house, but I do find a crunchy peanut butter or almond butter works best)
  • 1/3 cup honey (our’s is a local find – can’t wait for farmer’s market season!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup add-ins (dried berries, coconut flakes, sliced almonds, chia seed, flax seed all are tasty)
  • * If you are a nursing mama, I suggest adding in 1 TBS of Brewer’s Yeast to help with milk production

Aren’t they so pretty together? 

energy balls

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Put in fridge for about 30 minutes to “set” – this makes the forming easier!
  3. Ball up the mix – I like to use my cookie baller for this and place on a baking sheet with wax paper.
  4. Freeze until set (about 1 hour) and then eat, portion for the week, or put in a freezer safe container until it’s time to enjoy!


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SnackMob

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Bolthouse Farms Kids™ and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

SnackMob

The four ‘lil Burghers are always snacking. Thankfully, I’m trying to show them how to make healthy snack choices when they must eat all the things right this minute. Since it’s back to school season, we’ll also be looking to reinforce healthy snacking habits by packing options that kids will love (like veggies, salsa, low-fat cheese sticks, or fruits). It’s like we are a real, live SnackMob! 😉

We were able to catch the Bolthouse Farms Kids™ Snack Mob truck at the Pittsburgh Zoo last weekend. It was a hot day, so we all welcomed a taste of the Strawberry Meets Banana smoothie. This snack quickly made its way to our grocery list because it was refreshing, healthy, and tasty.

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Arianna and Evan couldn’t wait to get to open these! If you’re wondering, they are a twist cap but still easy enough for them to open.

And the truck? It was awesome to see the truck in action after hearing about it. We LOVE food trucks, especially ones that hand out treats and coupons! (Psss…you can snag a coupon good August 1 – December 31, 2015 here if you can’t make want to give these a try.)

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If you have yet to catch the Bolthouse Farms Kids™ Snack Mob trucks in the Pittsburgh area, you still have time before back to school. They will be at the Junior Great Race on September 19 (8 AM at Point State Park) in addition to several other weekend events up until then. You can find more here: bolthousefarmssnackmob.com. You even have a chance to have the SnackMob truck crash your own party. Tweet the date and type of event you’re hosting to @BolthouseFarms with #SnackMob and #Contest in your tweet. Must be 18 years old to enter / have 100 people minimum at your event. Contest ends September 10, 2015 at 11:59 PM (see www.bolthousefarmssnackmob.com/).

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Bolthouse Farms Kids™ is making it easy for kids to go back to school in a healthy way with their refrigerated line of real fruit and veggie snacks. We’ll be integrating grab-and-go choices like Chili Meets Lime Veggie Snackers (carrots) or Peach Meets Mango Smoothies in Arianna’s school lunch while Evan might chose a Blueberry Meets Raspberry Fruit Tube for an after school treat. With 25 to 90 calories // real ingredients // on-the-go packaging, we can’t go wrong. (You can read more about these treats on my first post about them here or at www.bolthouse.com.)

Bolthouse Farms Kids

 

Bolthouse Farms Kids

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Bolthouse Farms Kids™ and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

Don’t judge a mama who loves her kids’ snacks. Especially when the snacks are DELICIOUS and HEALTHY for you. The big kids have been enjoying some treats from Bolthouse Farms Kids™ over the past few days…and they finally caught on that I was snacking, too.

C’mon. It’s hard not to when this snack line has adorable messaging, colorful packaging, and is filled with great taste. Bolthouse Farms Kids™ is a healthy snack that is found in the produce section of your local grocer (Pittsburghers – Giant Eagle is where we grab ours!). They are “on-the-go” sized snacks made from real fruits and veggies.

Even my protein lover Evan has been enjoying the freshness (check out the Instagram video of him taking his first sip of Strawberry Meets Banana, a fruit smoothie packed with 1 1/2 servings of fruit in each bottle — with no dairy for his big sister!). Like I said…I’ve been taking them for healthy additions to my lunches and breakfasts, and Arianna is ready to ask Bolthouse Farms Kids™ if they can sponsor all her breakfasts (she loves them that much, especially because they are easy to open).

Needed a breakfast idea that could work for my #lilburghers. The @bolthousefarms #snackmob fruit tubes did the trick! #ad

Personally, I love the Fruit Tubes the best out of the snacks we tried out. They are fruit purees in tubes that are easy to tear open and enjoy. Bonus? They freeze well and make for a cool treat on these hot summer days. With 30-40 calories, these are great snacks for the whole family.

We also got to test out Veggie Snackers. The “Carrot Meets Ranch” was one of my favorite snacks while pregnant with the twins. The kids would taunt me for eating the kid carrots, but who cares. You “unleash tremendous flavor” by opening up ranch or chili lime flavoring to coat the carrots and give them a ‘lil kick of all natural seasoning. It’s hard to share this snack, but I do.

Mama just unleashed tremendous flavor in her lunch thanks to @bolthousefarms (not just for) kids! #ad #snackmob #lilburghers 25 calories of delish! #carrots

What is your go to for a healthy snack? Which are you most excited to try?

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Pittsburghers will get a chance to sample the Strawberry Meets Banana smoothie or Carrot Meets Ranch Veggie Snackers at Bolthouse Farms Kids™ Snack Mob truck events (for FREE). These will be at select Giant Eagle stores and other Pittsburgh events for six weeks throughout August and September. You can check out the list of events to find one near you. Look for us! We’ll be going to at least one event – so be sure you’re watching on Twitter, too! (Grab a coupon good August 1 – December 31, 2015 here if you can’t make it but want to give these a try.)

Here’s a sampling of upcoming events that the Snack Mob truck will be at:

Sunday evenings throughout August: Citiparks Cinema in the Park Movie Nights (dusk)

August 2: Snack Mob kickoff event at Settlers Ridge Market District (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.)

August 15: “Kindergarten … here I come!” at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (9 a.m. – 10 a.m.)

August 30: First Responders Day at Kennywood Park(10:30 a.m.)

September 19: Junior Great Race at Point State Park (8 a.m.)

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Even better, you can win a visit from the Snack Mob truck at your next party. Tweet the date and type of event you’re hosting to @BolthouseFarms with #SnackMob and #Contest in your tweet. Must be 18 years old to enter / have 100 people minimum at your event. Contest ends September 10, 2015 at 11:59 PM (see www.bolthousefarmssnackmob.com/)

 

Pure Protein

Disclaimer: I received product(s) in exchange for a blog review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

Did you know I’m back to training for (almost) a half marathon? Yup, this spring, I’m going to be running home in Pittsburgh in the last two legs of the Marathon Relay. What’s protein have to do with it? A whole lot.

Following a workout, the body needs some help repairing muscles and cells. This is normal and natural, but protein helps make that easier on the body. Additionally, it helps keep your metabolism going long after the workout.

After a run, the first thing I grab is something with protein. Lots and lots of grams of it. But when I get to add sweet to it? HUGE bonus. That’s where Pure Protein comes into my plan.

According to their website,

Pure Protein® is the nutritious protein solution for those living an active lifestyle.

You can read up more (as well as find where to buy their products) on their website: http://www.pureprotein.net/. Or, you can stick around and read about the three products I got to taste test!

Pure Protein

 

First up, you know I had to try the Double Chocolate Vanilla Crunch protein bars. These were like eating a candy bar, only much better for you. They are soft, yet have a crunch. And the chocolate tastes real, no faking around here.

The Pure Protein High Protein Bar with Greek Yogurt Style Coating (Strawberry) were a flavorful addition to my day. There are strawberry bits inside (super tasty) and were so smooth going down (thank you to the green yogurt “glaze” on top).

And the shake in Cookies and Creme was, to me, better than sucking down a milkshake and much more flavorful than chocolate milk (a runner’s favorite). In fact, I’m drinking one now as I write this (post run).

What I love about these three Pure Protein offerings is that all three filled me up and fit into my lifestyle. When I had to take runs at the gym, I could just toss them in my bag and go. They’re great for throwing in my lunch bag as a snack, too.

So, you don’t work out and are like, “who cares!”??? Well, we all can benefit from protein, young or old, active or not. Seriously. If you add a little bit of protein to every meal, you’ll not only see results, but be less hungry and have more energy to handle your day. (These aren’t medical facts that I read somewhere, they are my real life experience talking). Both my kids and husband like the benefits of protein, too. Greg was elated when I offered to share a bar with him, and Evan LOVES the smell of the Cookies and Cream shake (but sorry honey, Mama’s not sharing this one!).

Have questions about the three products I tried? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back at ya (or find someone who can help out with other questions).

Pure Protein
Source: Pure Protein

Snack Time: Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip

With the new year, I am trying to get better at meal planning for not only me, but the family. That means actually taking time to sit down and plan our week.

This week, that plan included some pinned recipes. Today, I’m going to share one with you that I Becky’d up.

Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip

Calories: 155 in one big serving

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Ingredients:

1 Non-Fat Greek Yogurt, Plain

2 TBSP PB2 (this is powdered peanut butter and super low on calories, high on YUM and protein)

1/2 TBSP honey

Directions: 

Mix the three ingredients together.

Dip a banana in the goodness.

You’re welcome.

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Itzy Ritzy Review and Giveaway

Disclaimer: I received a sample Itzy Ritzy snack bag in exchange for bringing you this review and giveaway. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

It’s no surprise that we are a snacking family. Arianna actually plans her snack while chewing the first bites of her dinner. When I got introduced to Itzy Ritzy, I knew it as going to be a product that would help greatly with snack time at our house. I was right.

Source: Itzy Ritzy

When it comes to packing my lunch, there are always two snacks involved. Most of the time, I’m putting them in plastic containers (that I bring home and have Greg wash), but I’ll admit I am not innocent when it comes to using plastic bags for things like pretzels and almonds. When I got my Itzy Ritzy bag in July, that all changed.

This ec0-friendly pouch is great for packing snacks that you’d otherwise throw in a (not so eco-friendly) plastic baggie. They are reusable and made with BPA free materials, so you can feel safe packing for you and the kids. Having a messy snack? No worries. These bags wash easily in cold water (and line drying is suggested). Have a juicy fruit like grapes to store? No worries. The lining is waterproof.

I love the fact that not only are the snack bags super easy to use and eco-friendly, but they are beyond words cute. (See?)

Itzy Ritzy 7 x 7 Snack Bag
Source: Itzy Ritzy

While the kids haven’t had the pleasure of using my bag, I’ll definitely pick some of these up when it’s time for a road trip or for back to school (both of which are sooner than I think!). I’ve used mine for pretzels, almonds, trail mix, granola, cheese crackers, and holding a graham cracker/peanut butter sandwich. Now I am hungry, thanks, Itzy Ritzy!

There are two styles of the reusable snack bag available:

  • 7″ x 7″ Snack Happens Reusable Snack & Everything Bag (retails for $9.99)
  • 7″ x 3.5″ Mini Reusable Snack & Everything Bag (retails for $12.99 for a 2-pack

Just as a personal note, if snack bags aren’t your thing, Itzy Ritzy’s motto is “Born Into Style”, and they have plenty of items to choose from, I definitely recommend you take a look on their site.

If you’re hungry and want to tote your snack around, then you should enter this giveaway (which will run through next Saturday night at 11:59 PM). Itzy Ritzy will be sending the winner a 7 x 7 Snack Happens Reusable Snack & Everything Bag.

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New Snack: Müller Yogurt (#Review)

It’s no secret that I believe eating healthy doesn’t have to taste bland. My love for yogurt and Greek yogurt has only heightened my appreciation for healthy snacks. When I was sent a sampling of new Müller yogurt from Quaker, I was eager to add another great snack to my weekly meal plans. The options did not disappoint.

 

Müller is a yogurt brand from Europe, tagged as “The European for yummy”, and I definitely agree. The first three varieties that we can get here in the US are Müller FrütUp, Müller Corner and Müller Greek Corner.  Both “corner” options include a two-part package that includes creamy yogurt and a mix-in. The FrütUp includes fruit mousse and yogurt. Yum!

Even better, the yogurts are low in fat and range from 140 – 220 calories each, the perfect range for my snack time.

I decided to give the Müller Greek Corner Carmelized Almond a try first. The almonds seriously were to die for, and the protein punch that this yogurt gives is amazing (20% DV). Because I was impatient and didn’t do my research on the yogurt before giving it a try, I chose to sprinkle some of the almonds in the yogurt by hand and then simply enjoyed some of the almonds on their own. Both the yogurt and almonds were divine. After eating, I realized the whole point of the corner set up is so that you can do this:

Oops. Lesson learned. I was then able to enjoy my other two “corner” samples just a ‘lil bit more. 😉

Next I gave the Corner Lowfat Yogurt with Choco Balls a try. This one was 210 calories and admittedly my favorite of the samples. The packaging made the choco balls look like malt balls (which I HATE), but in actuality they were tiny balls of crisp rice and chocolate heaven. I poured most in but I am a quantity and quality person, so I saved some in the corner to eat by themselves. This yogurt is really smooth, does not taste “cultured” like some yogurts do. Love this! I mean, look at them!

The Müller FrütUp Splendid Strawberry worried me slightly (I don’t really love mix in fruit yogurts), but in the end I loved this one, too! The fruit is a mousse and delighted my senses as I enjoyed this snack. The strawberry and mousse blend went well with the yogurt, and I am a fan.

My last venture was with the Corner Blueberry, which I didn’t mind, but it was the least favorite of the four I tried. There wasn’t anything in particular I disliked, the others just had so MUCH flavor that it was hard to say this one could come close to beating the others out.

I am sure by now you’re wondering where you can get yours. Müller FrütUp, Müller Corner and Müller Greek Corner are available here in the Pittsburgh area at several retailers, including Giant Eagle. They range from $0.99 for the FrütUp to $1.29 for Müller Corner and Müller Greek Corner (plus, there was a coupon in this Sunday’s paper, according to their Facebook!). Comparable to other yogurts I already enjoy, and well worth it. These snacks will definitely be on my grocery list from now on.

You  can check out Müller on Facebook and Twitter.

Okay, you knew I couldn’t do a review without giving you all some! Enter below to win 10 Free coupons for Muller. The contest ends 2/25 at 12:00 AM. One winner will be chosen. Good luck!

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Disclaimer: I was provided with a sample for review. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

Yummy Yogurt–Mama’s New Treat!

The other evening, I had a Mama Moment. The kids were in bed, the computer wasn’t on my lap, and the husband was watching baseball or some silly movie. I don’t know. All I know is I found my new treat, Healthy Choice Greek Frozen Yogurt.

As you know, I’ve been trying to watch what I eat and have been working on a running program. Healthy living has actually been fun for me (most of the time), but how could it not be when you have treats like yummy frozen Greek yogurt?!? Healthy Choice has something amazing here with a creamy blend of Greek yogurt and only 100 calories.

To me, the vanilla bean was 100 times better than any vanilla ice cream I’ve splurged on this past year. The blueberry was pretty heavenly, too. I’d gladly trade any ol’ ice cream for a sweet serving of Healthy Choice Greek Frozen Yogurt any day. It outweighs ice cream 3 to 1, and trust me, I’ve loved me some ice cream in my day.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to enjoy another cup thank you very much! You can get your own in your grocer’s freezer. Don’t like Vanilla Bean or Blueberry? No problem. Try out strawberry or raspberry. You’ll be back for more–don’t let those 3-packs fool ‘ya.

Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of this product because I am on the First Look, First Taste panel at The Dish. Sure, they sent me a freebie, but I didn’t have to like it…however, they’ve got me hooked and these opinions are 100% my own.