Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Silk's NEW Cashewmilk & My Fav Anti-Inflammatory Tea Recipe #SilkCashew



Let's talk about chronic illness for a minute. More specifically, let's talk about the chronic pain that inevitably follows the chronic illness.

Most of you know I've been sick for nearly 11 years and unfortunately with chronic illness comes many, many different symptoms. Aside from being diagnosed with 8 to 10 different conditions, for me, some of the things I've experienced throughout the years are brain fog, insomnia, depression, sporadic leg weakness, anxiety, mottling of the hands and feet, hot flashes, paralysis....you name it, I've probably experienced it at least once!

One of the symptoms that stays with me on a 24/7 basis is chronic pain. The level of the pain may fluctuate day to day but it's ALWAYS there in one form or another.

Not only is it always there, but certain things in daily life can set it off like the weather, medications, and certain foods such as sugar, wheat, and dairy which is why, aside from some cheese, I've limited my dairy intake considerably since it's one of the major foods that cause inflammation.

I literally cannot tell you the last time I actually even had regular cow's milk! The past several years I've stuck to mainly almond milk for my milk-related needs, which is why I was ecstatic when Silk mentioned they were coming out with a new cashew milk! 




Available in Original Cashewmilk and Unsweetened Cashewmilk, Silk's newest cashew milk tastes creamier than skim milk and also has less calories; 60 per serving, 25% fewer calories than skim milk*. Not only that but they have 50% more calcium than dairy milk.

I'm just thrilled I can actually have a plain ol' glass of milk again without worrying about being in pain afterwords!

Speaking of chronic pain, I actually found this particular recipe I'm sharing with you guys when my pain level was incredibly high and I had done everything I could think to do. I was sobbing, could barely move, and very desperate so I turned to the online world for help and I'm so thankful I found this recipe when I did.

The fact that it's pretty much organic and holistic (depending on the ingredients used of course) is also a nice benefit!

If you, yourself, know chronic pain or have someone in your life that does and could benefit from this wonderful tea, please pass this recipe along. I can promise you they'll appreciate it more than you know.


Anti-inflammatory Tumeric & Ginger Tea
(adapted from MindBodyGreen)


(Serves 1)





Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 TSP ground turmeric*
  • 1/4 TSP ground ginger*
  • Splash of Silk Cashewmilk
  • Raw honey (to taste)

*For this tea, both tumeric and ginger would probably be better fresh but pre-packaged spices can work in a pinch.






Instructions:

  • Step #1: In a small sauce pan bring your water to a boil. Once boiling add your turmeric and ginger, reduce the heat to low, and let simmer for a good 10 minutes.
  • Step #2: Once everything is pretty well simmered you can add your splash of Silk Cashewmilk.
  • Step #3: This is a very important step, especially if you used fresh ingredients! Pour your tea from the saucepan into a strainer which will catch all the chunky pieces you do NOT want to be drinking.
  • Step #4: Once strained, stir in your spoon full of raw honey to taste and enjoy!


My favorite part is actually pouring in the milk because of how the hot tea and creaminess of the milk react to each other. I tried to grab a video of it so you can see for yourself!

Please excuse the blatant milk spillage.



A video posted by Kayla Potega (@theeclecticelement) on





In the past I'd have used almond milk to tame the spiciness of this tea but since I received my Silk Cashew Milk I wanted to substitute that and see how the switch worked. The creaminess of the cashew milk paired with the tea amazingly and, quite honestly, I think it was considerably better than the previously used nut milk.

Aside from the tea, the cashew milk has also been substituted for half-and-half in my mom's morning coffee and for almond milk in a few bowls of my cereal.

The consensus?

We'd buy it and use it again in a heartbeat! Next step is holiday baking with it!

Make sure to follow the Silk Facebook Page to keep up-to-date with the happenings and also subscribe to the Silk eNewsletter-Silk has some very exciting things going on so you absolutely don't want to miss out!

If you subscribe to the newsletter you also get an instant coupon ;)

To find more awesome cashew milk recipes you can also follow the Silk Cashew Milk Pinterest Board.



Have you used Silk's new Cashew Milk yet? What would you substitute it for?







This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.






*Silk Original Cashewmilk: 60 cal/serv; skim dairy milk: 80 cal/serv. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 26. Data consistent with typical skim dairy milk.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Fragrances are the Perfect Holiday Gift + Fun Quiz & Giveaway #HolidayFragrance


Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Lunchbox. All opinions are my own.



Honesty time. I've never been one for perfume or fragrances. Due to my fluctuating multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) and allergy to bee stings, I've tried to stray away from fragrances that could give me a reaction or at the very least attract bees my way.

I cannot tell you how unattractive I look running hobbling away from incoming bees, clutching my epi-pen-carrying purse, all the while having a mini panic attack...

Anywho, lately I've been experimenting with certain smells and fragrances and have thankfully noticed no adverse reactions to some of them. Plus there are no bees in the Winter months, at least where I am located, so I'd say that's a win win!

And with the holidays coming up fast (Christmas is less than two weeks away!) fragrances and fragrance sets make such a fantastic gift. Good thing Wal-Mart has you covered with their exclusive fragrances you won't find anywhere else!

Before you set out on your fragrance gifting journey, you might want to check out Wal-Mart's Holiday Fragrance Gift Center complete with fragrance descriptions, recommendations for that lucky man or woman on your shopping list, and a fun and quick holiday quiz.



What Holiday Shopper Are You?



Complete the simple 5 question quiz and not only will you figure out what type of shopper you are, but you'll also receive a $4.00 off coupon at the end of the quiz which is good for any of the featured Coty fragrance items $14.88 and up.

Don't worry though, if budget is something you have to stick to there are some great gift possibilities that start at only $8.98 and work for any budget!




Here are just some of the high quality featured celebrity and other fragrances Wal-Mart carries:


Beyoncé - Heat Rush: Beyoncé Heat Rush shines, sparkles and excites the moment it touches the skin. Surrounded by a luminous fragrant aura, the woman who wears it feels instantly effervescent and alive. Sensual and bright, the scent lights up a room just as Beyoncé captivates with her presence.

Halle Berry - Exotic Jasmine: A sensual yet modern combination of jasmine blossoms that will tempt the senses with an exhilarating blend of seductive woody notes and irresistible skin.

McGraw - Southern Blend: Inspired by the man surrounded by his natural elements, his home and portrays the true masculinity of the modern man. The fragrance opens with a burst of fruits and spices that blend into a whiskey accord. A lasting impression is made with the sexy smoothness of the dry down. 

Nautica - Blue: A masculine blend of scents infused with Jasmine, Cedar, Bergamot, Musk, Sandalwood and Water Lily. A distinguished fragrance crafted for the adventurous gentleman who radiates a crisp, clean style.


Despite the pain and fatigue, shopping for the perfect fragrance gift set was quite fun! Our Wal-Mart had a ton of high quality fragrance sets to choose from so I had some trouble narrowing it down and coming up with a scent I thought would be a good fit for an extra "just in case" present to wrap and put under the tree.

Shopping for fragrances really is quite a personal affair but after a little while of putting my sniffer to the test (unfortunately there was no way to sample the perfumes before purchasing them so I had to ninja the boxes open and covertly lay on the sniff test) I came up with two candidates...




When you think about it, fragrances make such a wonderful gift, especially if the recipient enjoys different smells or you know for sure what someone would enjoy. With Wal-mart's selection, you can find something that suits anybody on your list; light and crisp, musky, floral, spicy...

Yes, you can indeed use the word "spicy" to describe a scent.

After a little back and forth with the two candidates, I wasn't sure what I liked better-the light and crisp floral scent or the spicy floral scent. Both were pleasant and came with a large spray bottle along with a pretty glass perfume bottle.

And the winner is...

love2love - Freesia: A scent of elegance and sensuality. It opens with a blend of peach blossom, lavender and lily, which lead to the heart of freesia, rose and violet. The base consists of sheer musk, heliotrope and cedar.




Plus with my $4 off coupon I printed off from completing the quiz (I'm a Wild Card Shopper by the way), my purchase price was around $10 instead of the $15 I would have spent.

Every little bit counts!

Moral of the story, if you're looking for a great last minute gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list or want a just-in-case present to wrap and put under your tree, Wal-Mart's Holiday Fragrance Gift Center is the perfect place to look!



{The Giveaway} 

1 of 5 $50 Wal-Mart Gift Cards!!!




Holiday Fragrance Gift Center Giveaway
 
 
 







Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Best Black Friday Purchase & Coupons. com Giveaway #BlackFridayGiveaway


This is a Fashionista Event and a promotional item was provided to me by Coupons. com. Hosts for this event are Still Blonde after all these Years and ModlyChic. All opinions expressed in the post below are 100% mine and mine alone unless otherwise stated. Please do your own research before committing to purchase a product as your opinions may vary. 







In my family, Black Friday is as much of a cherished holiday tradition as the turkey on Thanksgiving, opening up one present on Christmas Eve, and banging pots and pans at the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve.

Heck, as far as my family is concerned Black Friday IS a holiday in and of itself!

My mom, sister, and I have been battling our way into stores with the best holiday deals at ridiculously early hours for years. Of course each year is a toss up for me in regards to my health since Winter is usually my worst season but if I'm at least halfway decent I'm out scouting deals.

I do remember a particularly humorous year where Black Friday was tackled in a wheelchair and in which I became a human cart, clothing piled on my lap all the way up to my eyeballs!

All by my sister of course, who is the fashionista of the family.

Throughout the years we've picked up some great deals including tons of incredibly priced movies and TV show seasons to seasonally appropriate clothing to thoughtful gifts for family and friends. In all the past years though, the best purchase I ever made on Black Friday hands down had to be my Winter wool peacoat jacket from New York and Company.




One year I deviated from the family and decided to do Black Friday with one of my best friends so we hit up our local mall to see what goodies we could snag. I had no intention of buying much (sadly, it's called a budget) but once I saw this coat hanging on the rack with a ridiculously too-good-to-pass-up price tag along with the Black Friday sale they were running, well, I just couldn't pass it up!

The peacoat is very figure flattering and came in several colors but I decided upon the grey because I thought it would go with pretty much everything. Since the coat is mostly wool it's also amazingly warm.

At the time I purchased my coat my friend ended up also trying on the same coat but decided to pass it up. Once we were shopped out she dropped me back off at my house where later that evening I got a phone call. Turns out she ended up going back to the mall with her mom and picked up the same jacket in green.

Like I said above, it really was too good to pass up!






Years later we both still wear our peacoats that we got that fateful Black Friday when the weather starts to sport a nip in the air. Minus one lost and one loose button with some everyday wear and tear, they have both held up incredibly well to the test of time. Just goes to show you buying quality made products is always the way to go.





With Black Friday only 4 days away, Coupons.com wants to make sure everyone is ready with relevant and helpful Black Friday articles on The Good Stuff, their resourceful magazine filled with tons of great information including shopping trends, tips and tricks, recipes, giveaways and more.

Speaking of, this Black Friday Shopping Infographic shows you just how much shoppers spent last year during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It also includes which day is more popular to shop, which region in the US spends the most, and who spends more, men or women. 

Curious?





Of course it wouldn't be Black Friday without Coupons.com Black Friday Giveaway! Ending December 7th, you can enter the giveaway daily to instantly win 1 of 100 $25 gift cards to several different places like Sears, Sephora, Toys R Us, Kohls, and more. 

As if that wasn't enough, one extremely lucky grand prize winner will receive $10,000!

Imagine what you could do with that kind of money...







Connect:







What's YOUR best Black Friday or holiday purchase?









Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2014 Fall Enrique & Pitbull Tour Sponsored by Cricket Wireless #STSA

“I participated in Influencer Activation on behalf of Millennial Central for Cricket Wireless. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.”





I'm nearly 25 years old and have never really been to a traditional concert; you know, purchasing tickets online, traveling however long to the venue, sitting in cushioned stadium seats or, depending on who you see or how much you spend, standing in the pit area near the stage. 

Possibly even staying a few days if it's a several day, multiple artist affair. 

Of course there was this year's 2014 Wing Ding which IS technically speaking a concert event. The bands were really fun to listen to and converse with but I've been dying to see people like Florence and the Machine, Motion City Soundtrack, and Arctic Monkeys in concert for years now.

Especially Florence and the Machine. She's my girl!

Each person has their own tastes when it comes to musical artists, genres, and favorite songs but regardless, what it all comes down to is one thing: music is universally loved, respected, and acknowledged.

Thanks to Cricket Wireless, they're connecting their customers with that universal love of music by partnering with Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias to help fans create, experience, and share something to smile about during their Fall 2014 Tour! 






Most sponsors of an event like this do just that; sponsor it. Cricket Wireless wants to take it to a different level for their customers by not only just sponsoring the event but by totally enhancing the fan experience with some seriously awesome and innovative activations! 

The Cricket Stage, a 10x20 stage erected at select tour stops, is where fans can actually hop on stage and give their best "headliner" pose! You can share your 360 images via your social media channels thanks to the special "share kiosks" around the stage AND photos will be entered into a sweepstakes where a winner and 3 special guests will get a trip to the Miami Latin Grammy Street Party!

If that wasn't a pretty unique experience already, participants of the Stage activation will also be lucky enough to receive Cricket ear buds. 

Selfie Stations encourage fans and concert goers to snap a quick selfie of yourself or you and friends while having fun at the concert! These pictures can also be shared via your social media channels.

Ask Enrique-have the chance to win a trip to the Atlanta tour stop to meet Enrique himself and ask him whatever you want! 

Located at high-traffic spots within the activation venues, the Hologram Standee Billboards of Enrique and Pitbull will create some completely lifelike images of the musicians that make any concert goers time that much more memorable!

This is exactly the kind of concert that I was talking about above! One that I would love to be able to participate in, especially with all those unique extras that have been thought up. 

Thanks to Cricket, music lovers everywhere are going to be having the time of their lives! If you're a fan of Enrique and Pitbull, check out the tour stops. One might even be near you...

If so, take a concert selfie and share ;)








Connect:  








Win It Wednesday: Fashion Edition(10/15)





Win It Wednesday is a day for showcasing, browsing, entering, and linking up contests-Have a contest that needs a little extra exposure? Feel free to link it up!

NOTE:: Linking up your contests on my Win It Wednesday linky below automatically puts them on my Ongoing Contest Linky.

DOUBLE NOTE:: You only have to submit your contest link ONCE because I manage the ongoing list myself, deleting contests as they expire.


*******************************************






Win a $200 H&M Gift Card!! 


Ends October 17, 2014


Enter Here










Win a Calvin Klein On My Corner Oversize Saffiano Satchel!!


Ends October 17, 2014


Enter Here








  

Win a $170 Earth Yoga Prize Package!!


Ends October 17, 2014


Enter Here








Monday, October 13, 2014

Celebrate National Book Month with a Mega #Giveaway!


 
Did you know October is National Book Month? Since I'm part of a book club and recently planned a Book Lover's Party, I think it's safe to say that books are an important part of my life and have been since I was a little!

In all honesty, I think starting kids off reading at an early age is an important factor on if they enjoy reading as an adult or not. I know that's not just my opinion on the subject either!


Away We Go Media is proud to represent the authors past and present who put on quality writing for reading audiences world wide. We are celebrating our authors and October's National Book Month with a mega giveaway from all of our authors.

We want to welcome our newest authors:

Michael Alan Peck





"Paul Reid died in the snow at seventeen. The day of his death, he told a lie—and for the rest of his life, he wondered if that was what killed him." 


And so begins the battle for the afterlife, known as The Commons. It's been taken over by a corporate raider who uses the energy of its souls to maintain his brutal control. The result is an imaginary landscape of a broken America—stuck in time and overrun by the heroes, monsters, dreams, and nightmares of the imprisoned dead. 


Three people board a bus to nowhere: a New York street kid, an Iraq War veteran, and her five-year-old special-needs son. After a horrific accident, they are the last, best hope for The Commons to free itself. Along for the ride are a shotgun-toting goth girl, a six-foot-six mummy, a mute Shaolin monk with anger-management issues, and the only guide left to lead them.
Three Journeys: separate but joined. One mission: to save forever. 

But first they have to save themselves.






A secret lies buried beneath the haunting statuary in Old Willow Cemetery. In Concord, Massachusetts, the surrounding woods are alive with the spirits of transcendentalists Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott. Elias Hatch, the cemetery keeper, is the last of modern-day transcendentalists. Does he know the secret power buried in Old Willow Cemetery? Would he reveal it? 

Next door to this cemetery is a lovely gabled house. When the Brooke family moves in, the secret of Old Willow strikes. 

On a cold afternoon in March, five-year-old Henry Brooke does not arrive home from the school bus stop. Antonia Brooke is frantic her child is missing, or—the unspeakable—stolen. Adam Brooke spends a harrowing night searching the Concord woods, fear gripping him as hours pass with no leads. 

Finally, a police dog tracks Henry’s scent inside Old Willow Cemetery. Detective Mike Balducci suspects that Elias Hatch knows the truth about what happened to Henry. Balducci knows Hatch’s metaphysical beliefs. What Balducci discovers buried in the cemetery is beyond the grave, beyond apparitions or shadowy drifts rushing through the pine trees. 

There are the dazzled faces in the darkened air … and their secret. 






The lives of two young black men from the Harlem "hood" of upper Manhattan in New York become inextricably intertwined through a series of seemingly unrelated events. 
Follow Noel -- the Dollar Man -- through his early life on the street, a brief respite in a group home following his parents' arrest for abusing his sister, Jenna, culminating in several years of incarceration at the Bridges Juvenile Detention Facility in the Bronx after making a bold, but short-lived escape from the group home together with one of his roommates. 

At the same time, become intimately involved in the parallel life of Terrell -- the Hustler -- who spends most of his life in the home of his grandmother, "Mama B," following his own mother's departure after she murders her friend, and who chooses to drop out of high school in order to embark on a life of drug sales, fast money, sex, and violence. 

Until he encounters Noel. This fictionalized novel is based on actual events. 


We hope you will continue to purchase and read the books from our authors for years to come.
We have eight (8) fantastic prizes to giveaway for National Book Month.

PLEASE NOTE The disclosure as there will be no substitutes for prizes. Good luck and thank you!




DISCLOSURE: This giveaway is from October 8-Nov. 1, 2014. The giveaway is open worldwide but note, if the winner is outside the US all books will be in Kindle form only. You must be at least 18 years of age to enter this giveaway. All winners will be drawn at random by Rafflecopter. There will be 8 winners total.

NOTE: Some of the authors are ONLY offering Kindle versions in this giveaway if you do not have a Kindle then that author will not giveaway a book to you. There will be no substitutes. Please note which authors are giving away paperbacks vs Kindles.

This giveaway is sponsored by all of the authors listed and Away We Go Media. The Eclectic Element is posting on behalf of Away We Go Media and is not responsible for the giveaway or has been compensated for the post.







Good Luck!






Wednesday, October 8, 2014

2014 Fall Fashionista Giveaway Event #FashionistaEvents




The Fall Fashionista Giveaway Event is hosted by The Chief Blonde at Still Blonde After All These Years and Katy from ModlyChic. All Fashion! Only FASHION event! Largest Fashion Giveaway event on the internet with $26,000+ in prizes, 100+ participating blogs, and 3/4 million entries. Each individual blog has a minimum of $125 prize!

The Fall Fashionista Events Grand Prize is $500 PayPal (worldwide where allowed by law)!  For every giveaway in the Fall Fashionista Event that you enter, you gain one entry toward the Fall Fashionista Grand Prize. 1 Grand Prize winner will receive $500 PayPal cash. 1 first prize winner will receive $300 gift certificate to Midnight Velvet Clothing. Isn’t that stunning?

Haven't Shelley and Katy really outdone themselves this year?!








You're probably wondering what I have to contribute to this year's Fall Fashionista event since I posted a few sneak peeks at my sponsor across my social media channels the other day...

I'd like you to meet the team at Luna Jai Athletics, their motto: "Unity of the mind, body & spirit." They embrace a healthy and active lifestyle by offering some of the most incredibly spirited and uniquely handcrafted designed capris and shorts.

Sure it's Fall and Fall makes you think of boots and sweaters but that's exactly why people stop exercising and keeping fit. Hopefully these beautiful pieces of athletic clothing will be a daily reminder to keep being healthy even during the Fall and Winter months!

They were kind enough to let me review a pair of their capris and a pair of their shorts, both of which I got to pick out (which was a difficult choice, believe me)!






Also, I've gone ahead and thrown in a $25 gift certificate to either of my stores, The Eclectic Element: Handcrafted or The Eclectic Element: Vintage! I work to create unique one-of-a-kind upcycled creations for my handcrafted store and search for forgotten treasures to offer in my vintage store, both options are my little way of contributing to the eco-friendly movement!

Unfortunately I've been very sick so my stores have gone by the wayside a bit but I'm hoping to be able to stock them up really soon. Regardless the gift certificate will never expire so you can wait until something really captures your eye to use it ;)














 


{The Giveaway}


Your choice of capri and short from Luna Jai & a $25 gift certificate to either The Eclectic Element: Handcrafted or The Eclectic Element: Vintage!







{The Rules}


1. You MUST use the name and email you want to be contacted with in the Rafflecopter.

 2. NEW RULE--You MUST leave a 1 to 3 sentence comment on my post in order to be eligible for the giveaway. Short, one to two word answers will be deleted from the post and entries associated will be deleted from the giveaway.

3. Contest will run from Thursday, October 9, 2014 until Sunday, October 19, 2014.

4. Open to individuals 18 years or older.

5. Open worldwide!
 
 
 
 
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway



 


Good Luck!



****************************************************

 Hope you've carved out enough time to enter all these lovely fashionista's giveaways 
that they worked so hard to put together for you! 

Enjoy! 

















Disclaimer:  Still Blonde after all these YEARS , ModlyChic, Fall Fashionista Events Giveaway and the Fall Fashionista Events Giveaway bloggers are not responsible for sponsors/bloggers that do not fulfill their prizes or for any product failure or harm caused thereby. I received product compensation for the above post. This giveaway is part of the 2014 Fall Fashionista Giveaway. This giveaway is open worldwide, 18 years or older and will run from Thursday, October 9, 2014 11:01pm central standard time until Sunday, October 19, 2014  11:59 pm central standard time. The winner will be chosen through Rafflecopter.com and be contacted within 24 hours of the drawing. You'll then have 48 hours (2 days) to claim your prize and send me all applicable information-If I haven't heard from you within that time frame, I will be forced to choose another winner.




Win It Wednesday(10/8)





Win It Wednesday is a day for showcasing, browsing, entering, and linking up contests-Have a contest that needs a little extra exposure? Feel free to link it up!

NOTE:: Linking up your contests on my Win It Wednesday linky below automatically puts them on my Ongoing Contest Linky.

DOUBLE NOTE:: You only have to submit your contest link ONCE because I manage the ongoing list myself, deleting contests as they expire.


*******************************************





 Win an Aurorae Yoga Mat in your Color Choice!!


Ends October 8, 2014


Enter Here










Win a Big $250 BBQ Fiesta from Pig of the Month!!


Ends October 17, 2014


Enter Here






Win your Choice of Nikon d800 or a Canon 5d Mark III!!


Ends October 31, 2014


Enter Here












Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I'm a Book Lover: Intro to McCormick Gluten Free Spice Mixes & My Party Prep #mccormickGF



As some of you read about a month ago, I am a full fledged member of a book club again! Several of my girlfriends who share my love for books got together and decided, 'Hey, let's pick a book and designate a day each month to get together, discuss it, stuff our faces eat, and drink wine.'

Lots and lots of wine.

We've successfully completed two meetings and are eagerly awaiting meeting number three in which we will be discussing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

Thanks to McCormick, my girls and I will be able to do it in style--by throwing a very appropriately themed Book Lover's party featuring McCormick Gluten-Free Recipe Mix!

A little about McCormick and their newest Gluten-Free Recipe Mixes:

"McCormick, the largest manufacturer of flavor in the world, has broaden their Recipe Mix product line to include gluten-free options. Recipe Mixes are expertly blended spice packets that take out the guesswork when cooking with multiple spices. Gluten-Free Recipe Mixes from McCormick finally give you foolproof, tasty and enjoyable meals that you can quickly create at home."

Even though the party is still over a week away (and I've only read two pages of the book...shhhhh) I'm excited about the party-planning process, especially whipping up a few Gluten-Free recipes and testing them out. You know, strictly for the party. And for science.

McCormick's new Gluten-Free Season Mixes come in four flavorful varieties-Gluten-Free Chili Seasoning Mix, Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning Mix, Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy Mix, and Gluten-Free Brown Gravy Mix, all of which are made without Gluten, MSG (monosodium glutamate) or artificial flavors. These Season Mixes are also more inexpensively priced than other non gluten-free mixes you find on the market, so my question is what's not to love?!




I've never really planned a party before, let alone create the menu myself, so it was interesting brainstorming unique ideas that feature the mixes. Surprisingly it wasn't hard at all to keep the gluten-free aspect in all three of my recipes. Just goes to show you it's not as hard as people think!

All three recipes, two of which were original creations, turned out perfectly. My family and I were able to test out the recipes and mixes to make sure they'd be appropriate for the party and they exceeded my expectations. The mixes were especially impressive-extremely flavorful, easy to use, and you would never guess they're gluten-free if you didn't know.

What self-respecting party, book lover's themed or not, is a party without snacks? My first original recipe consists of a new spin on and favorite snack.

 
Gluten-Free Chili Lime Popcorn

(Serves 6 to 8)






Ingredients: 


  • 1-1 1/4 cup kerneled popcorn (your choice)
  • 1/4 cup High-heat oil such as popcorn oil or coconut oil
  • 1 Package McCormick Gluten-Free Chili Seasoning Mix
  • 1/2 cup Butter (melted)
  • 2 Limes (juiced)






Instructions: 


  • Step 1: Turn oven on low and add your preferred high-heat oil. Oil should be enough to cover and coat the bottom of your pan. After oil has been added and distributed evenly, add the kerneled popcorn of your choice. Leave on low for 8 to 10 minutes or until kernels have stopped popping. Make sure to shake kernels every once in awhile to minimize risk of burning.
  • Step 2: Juice your limes*. After you have your lime juice ready, melt your butter. Once melted, add packet of McCormick Gluten-Free Chili Seasoning Mix and your lime juice together and stir until nicely mixed.
  • Step 3: Take your butter mixture and drizzle it all over your freshly popped popcorn. Shake or stir until evenly coated.
  • Step 4: Enjoy!

*Put limes in microwave for 10-15 seconds for easier juicing. You can also use the same limes for their zest if you want to be add a decorative touch to your presentation.





The best part about this recipe is it's so easily changed up depending on what you need or want! The party I'm planning is going to consist of 4 to 5 people but if you need to make for less (or more for that matter), it's super easy. Plus if you're not big on spicy foods you can adjust the amount of seasoning you use to be a little more mild in flavor. The possibilities are truly endless!

For the next course in the gluten-free party menu I decided upon an appetizer using McCormick's Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning Mix. I wanted to do something unique for my friends so I pondered and decided to try and combine two individual foods into one: egg salad and tacos.

I present to you...



Gluten-Free Egg Taco Salad Stuffed Tomatoes

(Serves 6 to 8)






Ingredients:


  • 1 package McCormick Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning Mix
  • 8-10 eggs (hard boiled, diced)*
  • 3-4 Tbs. Mayonnaise
  • 10-12 Cherry Tomatoes (diced)
  • 1-2 Scallions (bulb & leafs, diced)
  • 6-8 San Marzano tomatoes





Instructions: 


  • Step 1: Assuming you've already boiled your eggs, peel the eggs you're going to use, dice them, (I've found an egg slicer is invaluable), and put them in a medium to large sized mixing bowl. Then dice both your cherry tomatoes and scallions, bulbs and leaves, and add them to the bowl as well.

  • Step 2: Add your mayonnaise and carefully mix the egg, cherry, and scallions together until mayonnaise is evenly distributed.

  • Step 3: Once evenly mixed, add your McCormick Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning Mix. Again, carefully stir until evenly distributed.

  • Step 4: Cut your San Marzano tomatoes in half length-wise, scoop out the guts of the tomato, and spoon in your taco egg salad mixture. Add chopped scallions as optional garnish.

*Tip: Instead of hard boiling your eggs on the stove put them in a steamer and steam for 30 minutes. They come out perfect and super easy to peal!





This particular recipe was my favorite for two main reasons. First off, it was beyond delicious combining traditional egg salad with the taco seasoning and second, I was incredibly proud of myself I thought outside the box to create this original recipe.

Hopefully my guests aren't filled up with the awesomeness above because they've still got to enjoy the main entree! This particular Gluten-Free main course was chosen from Allrecipes.com and uses McCormick's Gluten-Free Brown Gravy Mix.


(Serves 4)






Ingredients:


  • 1 package McCormick® Gluten-Free Brown Gravy Mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Black Pepper (ground)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 pound flank steak, cut into thin strips* (Substitutions: 3/4 pound boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into thin strips)
  • 2 cups broccoli (chopped)
  • 1 1/4 cup rice*






Instructions:


  • Step 1: Combine McCormick Gluten-Free Brown Gravy Seasoning Mix with water and pepper in bowl. Mix well and set that aside.

  • Step 2: Cut your meat into thin strips and your broccoli into appropriately sized pieces.
  • Step 3: Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Make sure you coat the bottom of the pan evenly. Add beef and broccoli. Cook and stir 3 to 4 minutes.

  • Step 4: Stir in your gravy mixture. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 to 8 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Serve over cooked rice, if desired.

*If you don't want to use flank steak you may also substitute 3/4 lbs of boneless beef sirloin steak, or venison meat if you have it (tenderloin cut would be ideal), also cut into thin strips.

*You may also use gluten-free noodles in lieu of rice.






Perfect for every taste bud, this recipe is an easy go-to, especially for those extremely picky eaters in your life like kids! The gravy adds a butteriness to the stir fry but keeps the taste "plain" enough that kids who don't appreciate different tastes will enjoy. This is another recipe you can add or enhance to your liking as well!

If you want some more gluten-free options when it comes to recipes or new menu ideas, you're in luck! McCormick has a full page dedicated to Gluten-Free Recipes you can check out!

Now that the menu is planned and, of course, sampled for the sake of the upcoming party (and science), we need to come up with some games and activities these literary ladies can enjoy! Here are a few book-related ideas you can use at YOUR own book lover's party:

  • Host a book swap--books can be expensive if you usually buy new. Why not have you and each of your guests pick out a few books you've already read or want to pass along to bring to the party and swap? You don't have to spend a cent and you'll get some new material to read!
  • Literary charades--Take the classic party game and add a reader's twist to it! Pick out several well-known novel or mutually-loved book titles, put them in a hat, and viola, perfect book lover's party game.
  • DIY bookmark--What better way to get your guests involved in the party than coming up with a fun and creative book-related DIY project they can all do together? A book lover's party obviously requires a DIY bookmark!

What do you think of the sample DIY bookmark I made for the party? Tutorial being planned as I type!





That being said I think we can mark this party planning prep as a epic success and I have no issues saying I'm ready for this Book Lover's party!

Now to just finish reading the book...

Get rid of the gluten, but not the flavor with McCormick Gluten-Free Recipe Mixes! Visit the Recipe Collection at allrecipes.com to discover more flavorful gluten free eating and meal ideas!


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of McCormick Gluten-Free Recipe Mix. The opinions and text are all mine.