Stephanie Sorkin’s Am I A Unicorn?: A Book Review

For almost a decade, I have been a fan of author Stephanie Sorkin. She is an award-winning author of multiple adorable children’s books and my own family has enjoyed reading them all (although I must say Nutley, the Nut-Free Squirrel is a favorite). So, you can imagine my delight when Stephanie debuted her new book, Am I A Unicorn?

This newest book features a young unicorn who is comfortable in her own skin until her outer appearance changes in a very prominent way. What is a unicorn to do when the thing that she associates so much of her identity with is suddenly not the same? Is she still a unicorn?

I think all of us suffered a bit of an identity crisis of our own in 2020. Our occupations, extra-curricular activities, clubs, and organizations that are huge pieces of our identities pretty much ceased to exist in the ways we’d grown accustomed to. From this we were challenged to examine if those things are what truly make us who we are, kind of like the lead character in Sorkin’s newest book. Talk about impeccable timing.

Stephanie does a beautiful job of walking the reader through the unicorn’s thought process as she tries to rediscover what makes her the best her she can be. The plot line and words are brilliant at engaging young children and the colorful and whimsical illustrations only add to the overall feel of this precious book.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that young readers will be thrilled to find a recipe for “YOUnique Rainbow Cupcakes” at the end of the book. Any book that can combine story and activity time is a winner in my book, especially when many of us are still cooped up inside. Add to that a portion of the book’s proceeds are donated to charities that benefit children, and what’s not to love?

As we emerge from the year of isolation that was 2020, there has never been a more perfect time to get to know and celebrate the person you are inside. Yes, our children have been transformed by the pandemic in dozens of different ways, but to be different is okay because as Sorkin says on the opening page of Am I A Unicorn?, “Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we were all the same?”

Make your next storytime with the kids extra special with this sweet book. Happy reading and stay safe, my friends.

Taking Back Your OWYN Health

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays make the fall and winter my favorite seasons of the year, and judging by the scale, I’d say they are my stomach’s favorites too…especially in 2020.

Although we aren’t going to any Christmas parties or fun peopley holiday gatherings this year, the food part of the celebration remains at my house via building DIY gingerbread houses, munching on candy canes, making traditional cookie recipes, and enjoying a cup (or two) of hot cocoa.

This has been a hard year for my family just as I’m sure it has been for many of you and your loved ones, so I am just a little adamant about celebrating the good things in life and if some of that comes with a side of extra calories for the holiday season, so be it.

In between all those delicious holiday treats, it can be difficult to still make sure I am getting the nutrients and vitamins that my body needs for energy to build gingerbread houses and have snowball fights (in Texas it’s more like leaf pile jumping…we seldom get snow).

Fortunately, I found a simple way to balance out dessert calories with a smarter choice in the form of OWYN (Only What You Need) Meal Replacement Shakes. Stay with me here, according to OWYN’s website, this meal replacement shake has approximately:

  • 20 grams of protein
  • 23 vitamins and minerals
  • 300 calories
  • Half of most people’s daily omega 3 needs
  • Cleaner ingredients
  • Zero major food allergens

As if these weren’t reason enough to like OWYN’s meal replacement drinks, they are also certified gluten-free and Non GMO Project Verified. FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is even listed as a National Strategic Partner. In my opinion, this drink has some serious skills.

I have been a fan of the company OWYN for awhile now (you can read my review here of their basic protein drink), but I was curious about the meal replacement drink so I asked them if they’d be willing to send me a free sample to review for my blog and they happily obliged.

What you are about to read is my honest, truthful opinion on the OWYN Meal Replacement Shake (chai flavor). I was not compensated to write this review. So, here goes…

I will say this about OWYN’s drinks in general, they are more the consistency of water than a shake. At first, that kind of caught me off guard. I think this is mainly because I was wondering how a liquid shake would keep me satisfied and nourished without all the bulk of a heavier shake. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that an OWYN Meal Replacement Shake can be quite filling.

Chai tea is one of my favorite hot drinks, so I was excited to sample the chai flavor although OWYN also has a chocolate meal replacement shake that I have not yet tried. In my opinion, this drink had all the warm spice of a cup of chai tea, so it was a bonus to be sipping on a shake in one of my favorite flavors.

On the mornings where I was racing around the house in a hurry to get some things done or on the days where I knew I’d be indulging later, this meal replacement shake was such a blessing. I felt like I had started my day off right with a step towards taking care of myself and my own health and that put a little bit of a spring in my step.

So whether you’re trying to add a dash of self-care during this holiday season or you are looking for ways to start fresh with the arrival of a new year (Dear God, please let it be better than 2020), I encourage you to check out OWYN’s meal replacement drinks and other products for yourself.

And as an added bonus for my readers, the amazing crew at OWYN was kind enough to offer you all an online coupon when ordering from OWYN. At checkout simply type in the code ALLERGYMOM20 for a whopping 20% off your order. This offer is only good until January 31, 2021 so don’t let this deadline sneak up on you!

Dear friends, I am wishing you much health and happiness now and always. Take care!

Chocoley Chocolate For Back To School And Holiday Baking

Chocoley Chocolate is now out of business.  However, the below items could be made by substituting in your favorite safe chocolate.

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A few weeks ago, the folks at Chocoley asked me if I’d try out and then review a few of their products.  Already being a chocolateaholic, I was only more than happy to oblige.

One of my favorite things about working with melting chocolates is that I can do so WITHOUT turning on my oven if I choose to.  I’m not sure what the temperature is like where you are, but here in Houston, we are still breaking new records with the daily heat index.  The calendar may say September, but it feels like July.  So for now, making tasty chocolate covered treats that look and taste like a million bucks but don’t require me to turn on my oven…that’s my jam!

In the cooler months of fall and winter, I think it would be divine to bake and decorate with chocolate for festive treats for the holidays.  My mouth is almost watering just thinking of the possibilities:

  • Candied apples
  • Chocolate covered marshmallows
  • Biscotti drizzled in chocolate
  • Chocolate covered cheesecake bites
  • Fudge

The first treat I made was one of my son’s favorites, chocolate cups made with SunButter.  There is something irresistible about these chocolatey cups of goodness and my favorite thing about them is how easy they are to make even though they look like they could have taken hours.

Supplies:

  • One bag of safe chocolate pieces
  • One jar of creamy SunButter
  • One container of cupcake liners

Directions:

  • Line a regular size muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  • Then, melt chocolate pieces in a microwave safe bowl for forty seconds at a time, stirring after each.  Continue with this method until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
  • Use a spoon to transfer enough of the melted dark chocolate to thoroughly cover the bottom of each cupcake liner.  Then place in refrigerator for 10 minutes or until the chocolate hardens.
  • Soften about one cup of creamy SunButter by placing it in the microwave for fifteen seconds at a time, stirring after each, until it reaches a good consistency.
  • Take the chocolate out of the refrigerator and put a dollop of Sunbutter on each being sure to smooth it evenly over the chocolate surface.
  • Then use a spoon to transfer enough of the melted dark chocolate (you can re-microwave if needed to soften) to thoroughly cover the mixture in each cupcake liner.
  • Put finished cups in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or until the mixture hardens.
  • Take out the muffin tin and peel the cupcake liners away from the chocolate.  The liner should easily peel off.  If it does not, the chocolate likely needs additional time in the refrigerator to harden.
  • Now enjoy!!!  WARNING:  They go fast, so hiding might be required!
  • Storage:  I stored these cups at room temperature on my kitchen counter for a little less than a week before they had all disappeared.

Another favorite at our house that is even more effortless than chocolate cups is chocolate covered strawberries.

WHITE CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES

Supplies:

  • One bag of white chocolate pieces
  • One container of fresh strawberries

Directions

  • Thoroughly wash strawberries and lay out on a paper towel to dry for about an hour.  Leave the stems on.
  • After the strawberries are dry, melt white chocolate pieces in a microwave safe bowl for forty seconds at a time, stirring after each.  Continue with this method until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
  • Dip each strawberry into the melted white chocolate up to the green leaf.  Then place the strawberry on parchment paper to harden.  The chocolate will adhere to the strawberry best if the berry is completely dry before dipping into the chocolate.
  • I find that these are best served the day they are made.
  • Option:  To make these strawberries even fancier, consider drizzling dark chocolate over them in a zigzag fashion.

CHOCOLATE COVERED SNACKS

With my kids spending hours each week at cross country or pointe ballet practice, we go through snacks quickly at my house.  So I used a little of the dark and white chocolate to cover some otherwise ordinary snacks into special treats:  chocolate covered pretzels, cookies, and bananas.

To make your own chocolate covered snacks, simply follow the above directions on melting the chocolate pieces and then cover your snack of choice in chocolatey goodness and place them on parchment paper to let the chocolate harden.  Once the chocolate on the pretzels and cookies sufficiently hardened, I stored them at room temperature in airtight tupperware.  Once the chocolate hardened on the bananas, I chose to store these in the freezer.

My family is loving me right now for making snack time a whole lot more interesting!  And that makes me happy too!  I’m already dreaming of what I can make once the weather finally cools down here in Houston.

Enjoy Life Foods’ Breakfast Ovals Make Mornings More Delicious

My son was diagnosed with food allergies almost fourteen years ago.  Let me tell you, the allergy friendly section of the grocery store sure looked a lot different back then…as in pretty much nonexistent.  It is such a HUGE blessing to be able to walk into my local H-E-B and find several shelves of allergy friendly options.  What a difference a decade or so makes!

Now it looks like there might be a new addition coming to those shelves courtesy of Enjoy Life, one of my favorite allergy-friendly companies!

A few weeks ago I received a care package from Enjoy Life Foods that was packed with breakfast goodness called Breakfast Ovals.  Have you seen these?

Breakfast Ovals are a prepackaged granola bar type snack…but softer and obviously oval shaped.  These delicious little treats are free of the top eight allergens and come in four different flavors:  Berry Medley, Maple Fig, Chocolate Chip Banana, and Apple Cinnamon.

Is your mouthwatering yet?  It should be.

But just in case, here is Enjoy Life’s description of each of these scrumptious flavors:

  • Berry Medley:  Blueberries, raspberries and cranberries come together in perfect flavor harmony.
  • Maple Fig:  Sweet maple and fig with a touch of cinnamon and spice makes this seasonal combination oh so nice.
  • Chocolate Chip Banana:  Take 100% pure chocolate chips and combine them with bananas for an all-time classic pairing you’ll go bananas for.
  • Apple Cinnamon:  A little bit of apple sweetness.  A little bit of cinnamon spice.  A whole lot of flavor.

I can give you my review, but first let me just say that my son and I have already demolished the sample boxes and are halfway through a second batch of sample boxes that I ordered online.  (Don’t judge me…I have a cross country runner who never seems to get full.)

Although I didn’t meet an Enjoy Life Breakfast Oval I didn’t like, the Chocolate Chip Banana was hands down my favorite.  I’m a sucker for chocolate!  My son, on the other hand, is more partial to the Maple Fig.  These breakfast treats are soft and sweet, making it perfect for kiddos (or adults) who have braces and can’t eat anything too chewy.  Each bite is bursting with indulgent flavors that taste like they are fresh from the oven.

As I mentioned, I have a teenage boy who runs high school cross country.  When he’s not running, he is jetting off to class, Boy Scouts, or is somewhere under a pile of homework.  For a kid who has food allergies and is always on the go, finding safe and delicious snacks that have some nutrition and a decent shelf life can be a challenge.  Thanks to Enjoy Life’s new Breakfast Ovals, we have something new to add to the rotation (we also love Enjoy Life Seed Mixes).

As for me, I may or may not put aside a couple of Enjoy Life Breakfast Ovals for myself before I blink and everything I ordered has disappeared.  Hey…moms have to eat and since it is gluten free I can enjoy it too.

The best part is that Enjoy Life has allowed me to share a promo code of NEWSHAPE that should save you nearly 15% on your next online order of Breakfast Ovals!  I get to help spread the news and save you some money too.  Yay!

One of my favorite things about Enjoy Life Foods is that…well…they just make it easier to enjoy life! *happy sigh*

 

(Disclaimer:  I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post.  The opinions in this post are strictly my own.)