Review: Yogi Surprise Subscription Box

Yogi surprise subscription box | Kale and AleNote: I received the items in this blog post at no charge to me to review. However, all opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.

Let me be honest: I’m hesitant of subscription boxes.

A little explanation: The idea of subscription boxes is fun. You pay a fee and once per determined time (usually monthly) you get a box curated to your likes and interests delivered. It’s filled with things like samples, new products and other things that fit in the genre of the box. My hesitation is that I’m paying for things I can’t pick, so I might be stuck with items I don’t need or want. Food boxes make the most sense, but what if it doesn’t fit my diet or taste profile? (You sound fun in theory, coconut chips.)

When Yogi Surprise offered me a recent subscription box to review, I was cautiously optimistic. But when I received the box only a few days later-which was a fun, pleasant surprise itself-I was very pleased with what I saw. When I opened it it did feel slightly like the healthy living version of Christmas morning, I let out an audible noise of excitement seeing the contents of the box. My box (which isn’t the current box) contained (with my thoughts following the item):

  • Italian Zest flavored flax crackers: Really good flavor and texture, and loved that they can stand on their own or well with dips and hummus.
  • Yoga mat intentions: Not something I would use (the most disappointing thing, but still not that bad), but good in theory. I will save this as a gift or a freebie for the right person when he or she wins something on my blog. (Note: That’s something I try to do with extra freebies.)
  • The Chakra Bible: Something I need to spend more time with, and I wouldn’t buy myself (because I would see it as an indulgence) but I love that it’s included and I will use it.
  • Adora Mood-Boost Chakra roll on: This tranquility scent is perfect before bed to clear my head and give me a restful night of sleep.
  • Mavi Bandz headband: Hands down the best workout headband I’ve ever owned, for a variety of reasons: It’s never once slipped out of place (I’ve used it running, hiking, yoga, etc.), it can be adjusted, and it’s fun and comfortable. My favorite item in the box, and I would buy more when I need more headbands.
  • Kitchen Herbs Organic Seed Collection: Because I already had herbs in my garden I didn’t plant these, but it’s fun for people who don’t have room and it’s the right market for anyone receiving the box.

Get Your Own Yogi Surprise Subscription Box

While this particular box isn’t available any longer, it shows what you can expect every month. For the price I (at minimum) received that value of products that I would enjoy. And it really seems tailored toward and geared for the right market of yogis (natural, health-conscious, concerned about ingredients and production). I really liked the box and would get it again.

Based on a unique theme each month, there are two monthly subscription boxes from which to choose. The “Lifestyle Box” features 6-8 full-size yoga lifestyle items with a snack that’s vegetarian and GMO-Free. Chakra healing stones, aromatherapy, natural products for hair and skin, yoga accessories, delicious treats and more are a few of the items found in the Lifestyle Box. At a retail value of $70, the monthly subscription price is only $44.95. The Yogi Surprise Jewelry Box subscription consists of 2 handmade pieces + 1 organic treat. Beautiful malas, handcrafted bracelets, and necklaces represent a sampling of what’s included in the monthly jewelry box. Chosen for their beauty and balancing energy, these items collectively retail for over $65 but have a monthly subscriber fee of $24.99/month.

Interested? Use this link to get 15% off your first Yogi Surprise box and see for yourself why it’s my subscription box of choice. If you get it, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Review: Reverie Cafe and Bar Breakfast

Reverie Cafe polenta rancheros } Kale and Ale

Polenta rancheros at Reverie Cafe and Bar in Minneapolis

Reverie Cafe and Bar, a casual vegan restaurant in Minneapolis, recently started serving breakfast. As I’ve been meaning to go back since I had a delicious Cuban sandwich for dinner last year, I decided now is the time to return.

Since I knew Aaron and I would be out and about, looking for something to stick with us for a while, I suggested checking out Reverie’s breakfast offerings. We got there about 9:40 on Sunday—perfect timing to grab one of the few off-street spots they have. We beat the rush by about 10 minutes, which means we had a pick of tables and got to the front for food.

I knew I wanted the Benedict, as it looked amazing and because I could never stomach a non-vegan version. It wasn’t meant to be, as they were out of shiitake bacon. I was momentarily disappointed and stumped as to what to order, but the employees assured me everything was good. They pointed me to a section of the menu with more savory dishes. I choose the polenta rancheros and Aaron had the biscuits and gravy.

Reverie Cafe breakfast | Kale and Ale

Polenta rancheros and biscuits and gravy at Reverie Cafe and Bar in Minneapolis

Both were amazing choices, savory depth of flavor. We shared a bit of each and I couldn’t decide which I liked better.  I don’t know what’s in it or how they did it, but the beans in my dish had such a good flavor that I couldn’t exactly place. This was disappointing in the fact that I can’t even try to replicate it at home. The fillings were very large portions; I didn’t finish mine and I was full almost until dinner. I would go back again for either of these or to hopefully get the Benedict in a heartbeat.

Homemade moisturizer recipe plus glass container review

Note: I received Infinity Jars reviewed in this blog post at no charge. All opinions expressed are my own. 

DIY moisterizer and Infinity Jars review | Kale and Ale mainI’ve always had very dry skin, which is a blessing during the acne-prone teenage years and a curse every Midwest winter. Since returning from living in a tropical climate three years ago, I’ve tried so many masks, scrubs, moisturizers and serums to make my skin less dry. I’ve spent more on skincare than makeup the past few years.

DIY skincare

Getting into essential oils this past year,  and my affinity for DIY recipes for my body has led me to realize these over-the-counter products are so expensive and can have ingredients I don’t want on my body. (Learn more about what products are more safe or better to avoid.) This has led me to play around with homemade body products recently.

RELATED: Hydrating homemade beer face mask recipe

I love that by making my own body care and using different products I can control scents, textures, moister levels, etc. (I’m also using essential oils to make home cleaning products and am loving the results.) It’s important to use high-quality essential oils and follow the recipe, but there are many resources out there for recipes and information, including this guide to essential oils 101. Some favorite recipes with essential oils include:

Another benefit of making these products at home is price. I was spending a lot on face serum (a small jar can easily run $50-plus) and realized, especially since I wanted as few ingredients as possible, I could make my own, while controlling exactly what’s in it, for much less. So I’ve come up with the following recipe for face serum:

Dry skin facial serum

DIY moisterizer and Infinity Jars review | Kale and Ale recipeIngredients

  • 2 drops cypress essential oil
  • 3 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons almond oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vitamin E


Mix all ingredients into a 30 ml glass dropper jar. Store in a cool, dry place.

To use: Shake before each use. Place 2 to 3 drops in your palm and spread on your face.

Infinity Jar review

Infinity Jars | Kale and AleAfter all that work and time, I need a quality vessel for the products. I’ve looked around for good-quality glass jars, so when Infinity Jars contacted me to review their containers, the timing couldn’t be better. I looked on their website and read about the jars, and they are exactly what I’m looking for in beauty containers. According to Infinity Jars, the containers:

  • Have a tight screw top and airtight seal
  • Contain ultra-violet filtering, blocking out harmful visible rays that degrade organic matter
  • Are scent-proof
  • Naturally preserve and rejuvenate freshness
  • Come in a variety of styles and shapes (over 70) for whatever you are looking to use them for

Suggested uses include a place to hold seasoning herbs, salts, teas, flour, cosmetics, DIY locations, essential oil blends, perfume and more.

Based on my needs, I decided on the following bottle styles:

I loved the idea of the glass screw top jar. It currently has the whipped body butter mentioned above, and is keeping it the perfect consistency (somewhat of a tall order for something with coconut oil as the base). Beyond beauty products, it’s the perfect size for seasoning mixes or herbs I dry and grind from my garden.

And I have been planning to get a glass dropper jar and glass roller applicator for serum and perfume. They both dispense the perfect amount of product, and it’s staying fresh. When I roll the containers around, they are very air tight, with no leaks (which is great because I’m pretty rough on my bottles and jars). I am really happy with the glass jars, and again Infinity Jars come in a large variety of shapes and sizes.

Infinity Jars giveaway-Closed

The great people at Infinity Jars want to share the love. One reader of Kale and Ale will win a $30 gift card toward a purchase at Infinity Jars. Since it’s a gift card, there are no restrictions on who can enter or win, as they ship worldwide. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. The contest starts at midnight Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, and runs until Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, midnight central U.S. time. Winner will be picked at random via Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Just Hampton Creek | Review and Recipe

Note: Hampton Creek provided food for review, but my opinions in this and all posts are my own.

Just Cookie Dough | Kale and AleWith a quick search of my dessert recipe archive, it’s apparent I’m not heavy on end-of-meal treats here. It’s partly because I’m not often one for sweets, favoring the salty taste of popcorn or nachos, and partly because I’m better with the winging-it style of cooking over the exact science of baking. But I’ve been known to crave a dark chocolate bite or sugary, chewy food. For those times, I look to keep it vegan and easy, and I know “just” the place to get my sweet tooth fix.

When I heard that Hampton Creek—best known for Just Mayo—was expanding beyond the sandwich and salad spread, and starting with cookies, I wanted to try it out. Hampton Creek gave me some coupons to test new products, and the cookie dough jumped out, since I wouldn’t make it myself. Using the search to see what was where, I was surprised to find not only the chocolate chip cookie dough I was expecting but also the peanut butter dough that wasn’t mentioned in the store finder, so I grabbed each (in the name of a fair review, right?).

Once I got home I opened the tub of chocolate chip cookies and tried a simple right away. Since Hampton Creek cookie dough is vegan, eating from the tub is safe, if not encouraged. Although the tub looks small, it makes 16 regular sized cookies that are quick to bake, making them quick to enjoy. They aren’t too soft or too crisp, and have even flavor throughout.

Recipe: Pretzel and chocolate peanut butter cookies

Hampton Creek Peanut Butter Chocolate Pretzel recipe | Kale and Ale

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pretzel cookies

While that’s all well and good and the sweets lover will enjoy these, I’m not into sweets enough. So I gave the peanut butter cookies the Val treatment, giving them a sweet and salty addition. Once I cooked the tub of cookies according to the directions, I topped it with 1/2 cup melted chocolate chips and 1 cup crushed pretzels and let cool. These are a great sweet-salty combo that will appeal to a lot of tastes. All in all. Hampton Creek is a solid choice for when I am looking for a sugar fix.

Have you tried any of the “Just” products? What do you think of them?


Cookbook Review: Party Grub, Thug Kitchen (With Recipe)

This post contains affiliate links, where I may get a small portion of sales to fund this blog.

I love Thug Kitchen, a duo of vegans who were writing a blog a few years ago and got a book deal. They use salty language and flavorful recipes to get their message across that vegan food doesn’t have to be boring or only for certain people:

“Everyone deserves to feel a part of our push toward a healthier diet, not just people with disposable incomes who speak a certain way. So we’re here to help.”

Their second book “Party Grub” is, not surprisingly, a slam dunk, just like their first book “Thug Kitchen.” I own both and they are among the first cookbooks I reach for when looking for recipes and cooking inspiration. The first book has solid recipes, and the second book is all about party and social gathering food. While I love light meals and apps, I was surprised to find the book contains a lot of  dishes that are hearty, meal-worthy fare. There are more than 100 dishes for any time of celebration or get-together, and the pages are packed with mouth-watering fare and fun tips.

I’m always looking for a good vegan cheese, and their Queso-ish Dip is a great creamy dip for Mexican flavors, with tomatoes making it seem kind of creamy, flavorful and chunky with a little kick all at once.

Thug Kitchen Queso-ish Dip Recipe | Kale and Ale

Thug Kitchen Queso-ish Dip

When I ate the enchiladas (with the easiest homemade sauce I’ve ever made) I had to remind myself they were vegan, I totally forgot! That’s a ringing endorsement right there, since I love the cheese to hold everything together. And they were so filling, stuffed full with goodness and the flavorful sauce.

The book features chapters on brunch grub, small bites, salads and sides, potluck necessities and desserts and drinks, so the entire range of party food is covered. This book has a variety of flavorful dishes and makes me want to grab a group of friends and get in the kitchen and cook and eat.

Thug Kitchen Loaded Nachos Recipe

Thug Kitchen was kind enough to share a recipe from their new book with Kale and Ale readers! They let us in on how to make loaded creamy nachos with the dip I preview above. Remember, there is salty NSFW language, but it’s worth it to get to the loaded nachos.

Reprinted from “Thug Kitchen Party Grub” by Thug Kitchen. Copyright (c) 2015 by Thug Kitchen. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.

Thug Kitchen Nachos Butternut Squash Queso
Loaded Nachos
Print Recipe
OK, this is less of a recipe and more of a recommendation for you to get your shit together and make some fucking nachos. A plate of these gorgeous motherfuckers just screams party so much that it was almost our cover shot. We give you an idea below on how to pile your shit correctly, but take the damn queso and run with it. #nachobusiness
4 to 6 people
4 to 6 people
Thug Kitchen Nachos Butternut Squash Queso
Loaded Nachos
Print Recipe
OK, this is less of a recipe and more of a recommendation for you to get your shit together and make some fucking nachos. A plate of these gorgeous motherfuckers just screams party so much that it was almost our cover shot. We give you an idea below on how to pile your shit correctly, but take the damn queso and run with it. #nachobusiness
4 to 6 people
4 to 6 people
Servings: people
  1. You know how nachos work, so you can pile this shit on however you like and leave off or add whatever the fuck you want. We like to put the warm chips out in a thin layer on a tray or giant plate. A huge pile of chips where you end up with a shit-ton of dry chips at the bottom is a fucking bummer. Thin layer is the way to go.
  2. Scatter the black beans and cabbage over that, then drizzle the queso all over the chips. Glob on nice spoonfuls of guacamole and salsa all over the platter then sprinkle with the jalapeno and cilantro. Drizzle over some hot sauce if you roll like that.
  3. Serve that shit right up to the happy crowd.
Recipe Notes

* Warming not required, but this shows commitment to the nacho cause. Just throw the chips in a microwave for a few seconds, or cover and put in a 250°F oven for 10 minutes.

** Or a 15-ounce can of beans, rinsed and drained.

*** The Mid-Summer Salsa from our first book would be dope here.

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