NatureBox Review

March 17, 2014

I’ve been kind of obsessed with these subscription boxes lately. And we all know I love anything to do with food. hashtag fatgirlproblems. And while I am in a committed relationship with Graze, I thought I’d test the waters on a different kind of snack box. Enter, NatureBox.

 

There are a few key differences between Graze and NatureBox. While Graze is an every two week box, NatureBox is once per month. (You can get Graze just once per month, I choose to get it every two weeks because I love snacks.) Graze snacks are chosen at random, based upon your rating of the plethora of snacks they have to choose from. NatureBox is picked by you. And the biggest difference- Graze provides single serving snacks. NatureBox gives you full size bags of their snacks. In turn, the cost for the service is about double what a twice a month Grazer would pay. ($20 for NatureBox vs $12 for Graze.) You do get full size products though, 5 per box, which makes it worth the price, in my opinion. One of my biggest complaints about Graze is that you can’t buy full size version of snacks that you love.

2014-03-13_0002

 

NatureBox uses a fairly slow shipping method- FedEx SmartPost. This is my absolute least favorite way to receive things in the mail. It just takes so long. I’d much rather have things sent via USPS itself, than sent by FedEx, to my post office, and then to me. SmartPost is a big pet peeve of mine. Once the box did arrive, I opened it up to find the snacks, and a recipe for using some of the NatureBox snacks (that I didn’t receive in this box).  One thing I will mention here- NatureBox does not have the same variety of snacks that Graze has. Their snack choices are pretty limited, especially for a girl like me who isn’t keen on nuts and dried fruit 24/7. I picked five of the least nutty snacks that they had, but I didn’t have very many options. So if you’re big on variety, NatureBox might not be the best choice for you.

 

The NatureBox snacks are all natural. None of them contain high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, and no trans fat. These are great for the health conscious, the ingredients are all easily pronounced and real foods. They all bear the “nutritionist approved” seal. I love that they come in resealable bags, making it really easy to just grab a little and put the rest away for later.

2014-03-13_0001

 

Clockwise from top right: Homestyle Cheddar Mix, Honey Crunch Crisps, Toasted Cheddar Stix, Blueberry Nom Noms, French Toast Granola.

 

Homestyle Cheddar Mix: I really don’t get a lot of cheddar flavor here. The corn chips, corn nuts, and pretzels have almost a honey flavor, which is totally not in the flavor profile at all. This mix is very crunchy, so if you’re looking for a good crunch, this is your best bet. This one is ok. Not great, but not terrible. I wish it had more cheese flavor.

 

Honey Crunch Crisps: These also don’t really taste like what they’re supposed to. I get more of the sesame cracker than I do the honey. I was expecting something slightly sweet, but these are very savory. They have a nice texture and aren’t overly crunchy. They’d be a decent replacement for chips, just to munch on.

 

Toasted Cheddar Stix: Finally! Something that lives up to the description! These have a distinct cheesy flavor. They remind me a lot of chow mein noodles, the kind you buy in a bag to make chocolate haystacks with. They are pretty good.

 

Blueberry Nom Noms:  These were decent. They didn’t overwhelm me with blueberry flavor, and they were really dense. But still good. Only four come in a package, though, so even if you like them you don’t get too many to nom on.

 

French Toast Granola: This is my favorite snack from the box. It’s got a really nice cinnamon maple flavor, with just the right amount of crunch. I might even try it as a cereal with some milk. Super delicious.

 

I would say that NatureBox is probably a subscription box for someone who enjoys nuts and dried fruit over cracker-y type snacks. I’m more of a cracker person myself. I do love having the ability to choose my own snacks, and to get the same snacks each month if I choose to do so. But I think for long term, I’m going to stick with Graze. Have you tried NatureBox? What did you think of it?

Plated Review

March 12, 2014

LLP_8290

 

I saw an offer recently on Facebook about a service called Plated. For a $10 monthly membership fee (cancel any time), plus a fee per meal, you can have fresh ingredients for gourmet dishes delivered to your home. They come pre-measured, and you provide very little of your own ingredients. I found a coupon code and decided to try it out. This box (which contained enough for 4 plates) cost me $20. Branden and I aren’t super fancy eaters, so I chose something I thought we would enjoy, which turned out to be the chicken fricassee with gnocchi and artichoke hearts.

 

LLP_8293

 

The box arrived with everything fresh and pre-measured. It was packed with two ice packs, which did concern me a bit. I’ve had food delivered like this before but it was delivered with dry ice in a foam cooler box. Everything was still cold, and nothing looked off, so I think it was ok. Everything was included, aside from salt, pepper, and a little olive oil. They even included little individual packs of butter, which I thought was kind of silly, but maybe some people don’t use real butter day to day. I use butter for everything!

 

LLP_8297

 

When it came time to cook, I rinsed the chicken and patted it dry with paper towels. Then I salted and peppered the chicken before tossing it in a bag filled with flour. Then I melted the butter with a tablespoon of olive oil and browned the chicken. If I had to do this over, I would have browned it longer. I also would have preferred boneless chicken thighs or breasts. I dislike cooking bone in chicken because I’m bad at telling if it’s cooked through, even with a meat thermometer.

 

LLP_8299

 

I removed the chicken from the pan, sauteed some onions in the fat that was left, and then deglazed the pan with some chicken stock and white wine. Then I returned the chicken to the pan and brought everything to a boil. Once it was boiling, I reduced the heat and covered the pan to let everything cook for about 20 minutes.

 

LLP_8302

 

Once the chicken was cooked through, it went to a baking sheet and into the broiler to crisp up. While that was going, I added the artichoke hearts and gnocchi to the sauce. I also added a little more salt and pepper. I also got to get my Randy Marsh on with some creme fraiche. (creeeme freeeeeesh.)

 

LLP_8303

 

Again, if I had to do it over, I would have much preferred boneless chicken thighs and breasts, as opposed to leg quarters that were bone in. These were a bit difficult to eat, and the skin was falling off, so it didn’t really get super crispy in the broiler.

 

LLP_8310

 

Plated suggests serving the chicken in a bowl with the gnocchi, artichokes, and sauce, and then topping everything with fresh dill. We decided it would be far too difficult to eat the chicken from a bowl, so we treated the artichokes and gnocchi like a soup, and ate the chicken from plates.

 

The consensus? We enjoyed the chicken, but both would have preferred boneless. We loved the sauce and the gnocchi, but Branden wasn’t a fan of the artichokes, and I could have done with about a third fewer artichokes over all. It just seemed like too many. We did end up making all four servings, and Branden ate about 3 of them. He works really hard and is always starving after work, so I have to make a lot of food to feed him. I would say for the average human, the serving sizes are decent.

 

Like I said, we aren’t the adventurous type when it comes to food, so I don’t think I’ll be keeping my membership. However, for an occasional treat, it’s a little more fun than going to a restaurant, but priced similarly. So if you like to cook, especially new things, it might be fun for you to try out. They change menus weekly, so there’s a lot of variety. I would totally make this recipe again, though. And luckily Plated gives you the recipe along with helpful step-by-step directions, so you can easily recreate your favorite dishes.

Older Posts >>>