June Foodie Penpals

Great summertime treats!

Another month has come and gone — and with it another great round of Foodie Penpals! And it couldn’t have come at a better time, or with a better set of penpal partners. Being back home in the country is not exactly all it’s cracked up to be when it comes to my healthy eating plans — surprising, right?! Luckily this month I was set to receive my box of treats from Farrah of Fairy Healthy Life.

Not only is Farrah’s story amazing, but her love of running? Right up my reborn running self’s alley. I was pretty sure I could not only count on her for some yummy treats, but I was positive I’d end up with some useful, and healthy, pantry items as well.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love being right?! No? Well — I do. A lot.

Cooooooooookies!

Okay, I won’t lie. The first items I squealed over were the cookies. Farrah sent me two kinds — a package of fig cookies and a package of vanilla bean-green tea cookies. The first thing I thought was how PERFECT the fig cookies would be to shove down my throat at 4:45am, when I’m trying to get myself up and ready for a run. The second thought was how good the vanilla bean cookies would taste after said run. Again — I love being right!

Hot, spicy, and local — all great things in a Foodie Penpals box!

Next up were two spicy treats — a bottle of Cholula sauce and a package of dried chile peppers from a shop local to Farrah. Love, love, LOVE! I barely had these out of the box before I was thinking of ways to put them to good use. Farrah suggested using the peppers as a topping for soup — and I can definitely see that happening, at least once the temperature drops back below 80 degrees. In the meantime, they’ve been a perfect addition to steamed vegetables, marinades for fish and chicken, and even in omelets. And that Cholula? I can happily put that on just about everything.

From salad to dessert — a full meal right in the box!

I try not to play favorites when it comes to my monthly Foodie Penpals treats, but sometimes I just can’t help it. And this was one of those times. All three of these treats were huge winners for me — starting with the tabouleh mix. Once upon a time, in a land not so far away (the north side of Chicago, to be exact) I was introduced to this dish. And have been hooked ever since. So to have a box that I can make up on my own at home — that I don’t have to share? Sweet!

Next was the GoPicnic Ready-To-Eat Meal. I know, I know — what happened to my commitment to unprocessed foods? Well, when I’m working 6 to 7 days a week at a diner surrounded by fried potatoes, burgers, and danishes — I’ll take any reprieve I can get. And this made a perfect midday snack to hold me over between my morning smoothie (when I even remember) and dinnertime. I think I may need to keep a couple of these on stock for such emergencies.

And last, but definitely not least, was the sorbet — with Sicilian lemon juice. These adorable little cups came ready to be popped in my freezer before enjoying. And that’s exactly what I did. After I smuggled them away from my niece’s watchful eye. For some reason, she thought since there were two cups of sorbet she should be able to have one all to herself. I considered it for a minute. Luckily, her 6-year old attention span kicked in and before I knew it, she was licking my bowl of hummus clean. Small sacrifice, really.

And all it took was one late night run in 90 degree weather to make me extremely grateful she had forgotten about the magic cups of sorbet. Because I sure didn’t forget — shortly after wringing myself out from my run, I grabbed a sorbet and a fresh bottle of water and enjoyed every single bite. All to myself.

Thank you so much, Farrah, for such a great month of #FoodiePenpals!

Half of the fun of Foodie Penpals isn’t about what I get — it’s about what I get to send off to another person, and hoping they love their package as much as I loved mine.

Normally, I am sitting on the edge of my seat — waiting for the “yay” or “nay” verdict from the penpal to whom I sent a box. But not this month. I got to send my box to Shawn — a blog reader (for now…) — and quickly got the sweetest email response. What can I say? Spreading the #FoodiePenpals love makes me happy!

From Shawn…
“Thank you so much – you made my first FPP box fabulous! The assortment was perfect, especially the quinoa and the Tate cookies. Yum! And the bonus nonfood item was a great surprise. I’ve already put it to good use. But I especially appreciated the handwritten note talking about your selections and sharing your recipes. It made the connection so much more personal. My first experience has been great. I’m hooked and can’t wait for next month. Thanks Lena – you rock!”

A glimpse of the treats I sent off to Shawn!

Want to see what else I’ve gotten (and sent) over the past few months?

Want to join in the fun next month?
Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean organizes #FoodiePenpals, so in her word’s here’s what it’s all about!

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe … use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
  • Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!

    ***If you’re in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at rocksalt@thisisrocksalt.com to get involved!

If you’re interested in participating for June, please send an email to Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:

Your full name
Your email address
Your blog name/address
Your twitter handle (if applicable)
WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. – this is SUPER important so she can get you on the right list!

** Lindsay will need to hear from you by July 4th as pairings will be emailed on July 5th! *

May Foodie Penpals

Every month I participate in Foodie Penpals, I feel like it just gets better and better. And this month was no exception. While I had done a good job at keeping my upcoming move under wraps, I had to wonder if I let something slip when I got this month’s box from Lizzie, of The Weekday Vegan. Filled with treats that are either perfect snacks for the long drive from Boston back to the midwest, or are perfect to share with my family once I get back.

More coffee!

My friends in Boston think I drink a lot of coffee — and I do — but they may be in shock at how much coffee we go through when I visit my family. Whether it’s a farm thing, or a Norwegian thing, I don’t know — but there is coffee brewing from early in the morning until late at night every day. So to have my very own stash of good coffee — from one of Lizzie’s favorite places in Charlottesville? A great thing to have on hand to kick off the next seven months.

Crunchy and chocolatey goodness — a perfect snack for a long drive

I have been on a wicked granola and nut crunch bender lately. Whether I’m snacking on it straight, or mixing it with some of my almond milk — not a day goes by that I’m not enjoying it in some way. And since I had procrastinated on everything else for my trip, making a fresh batch of my homemade granola was not going to happen. So I was ecstatic when I pulled out a big bag of Back to Nature Chocolate Delight Granola — a perfect snack for the long drive.

More treats!

Next up were more treats that I’m looking forward to taking with me on the road — including a bag of Pretzel Crisps and a chocolate bar. A perfect combo to satisfy both my salty and sweet tooth (tooths? teeth?) on the drive. The last thing I pulled out was a spicy “super-condiment” that is local to Lizzie.

Once upon a time, I couldn’t stand anything spicier than the mild salsa you can buy at any supermarket or gas station. But now, I am enjoying the heat more and more — I’m definitely looking forward to trying this out as a marinade when I get grilling privileges at my dad’s house. Although, that could take a while — so I may end up using it as a dip instead. Either way, I’m looking forward to giving it a try.

Thanks again, Lizzie for all the great treats! You really did a great job — and totally saved me from some horrendous rest stop vending choices along my drive!

The Foodie Penpals fun doesn’t just stop at what I got in my box of treats — I had just as much fun putting together the box I sent off to Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean, blogger extraordinaire and founder of #FoodiePenpals. Want to see what I sent her? Check out her reveal post!

I hope Lindsay enjoyed everything I sent as much as I enjoyed everything I got from Lizzie!

Want to see some of the other treats I’ve scored?

Want to join in the fun next month?
Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean organizes Foodie Penpals, so in her word’s here’s what it’s all about!

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe … use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
  • Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!

    ***If you’re in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at rocksalt@thisisrocksalt.com to get involved!

If you’re interested in participating for June, please send an email to Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:

Your full name
Your email address
Your blog name/address
Your twitter handle (if applicable)
WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. – this is SUPER important so she can get you on the right list!

** Lindsay will need to hear from you by June 4th as pairings will be emailed on June 5th! *

April Foodie Penpals

Score!

If you haven’t figured it out yet — Foodie Penpals is one of my favorite things to participate in each month. This month I was treated to a box from a fellow East Coaster and blog reader, Michelle. Michelle — who unfortunately doesn’t have a blog, yet… — put my box together with a theme in mind. Her theme was “Jump, Jive, and Wail” — and she nailed it.

It's here, it's here!

The first item on her list was a package of locally roasted coffee that she assured me would make me “jump” with all of “its caffeinated goodness”. It didn’t take long for me to pull out my grinder and a pitcher to make up a batch of cold-brew coffee. Michelle wasn’t lying. It was delicious!

COFFEE!!!

Next up were 2 snack bars that she promised would make me “jive” thanks to their super healthy, yummy, organic ingredients. As much as I am trying to stay away from processed foods, one look at the ingredients list and I felt okay about throwing one of these in my purse to avoid a poor snack decision when I’m on the run.

Mmmm, chocolate!

Ooooh! Spicy!

The last two items she packed for me were a can of wasabi-coated peanuts and a package of roasted seaweed snacks — that were sure to make me “wail” thanks to a kick of “spicy deliciousness”. I’ve never had either of these snacks before, so I was really excited to try something new. And just as Michelle promised, they were both delicious.

Yum!

Thank you, Michelle for all the treats and the really thoughtful note. Everything was so yummy! Can’t wait until you get your own blog started (hint, hint)!

And as much fun as I always have opening up and trying everything in my box of treats, I had just as much fun putting together the box that I sent out to Hannah. I really hope she enjoyed her package as much as I enjoyed my treats from Michelle!

Want to see the other goodies I’ve gotten?

Want to join in the fun next month?
Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean organizes Foodie Penpals, so in her word’s here’s what it’s all about!

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe … use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
  • Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!

    ***If you’re in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at rocksalt@thisisrocksalt.com to get involved!

If you’re interested in participating for May, please send an email to Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:

Your full name
Your email address
Your blog name/address
Your twitter handle (if applicable)
WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. – this is SUPER important so she can get you on the right list!

** Lindsay will need to hear from you by May 4th as pairings will be emailed on May 5th! **

(Belated) March Foodie Penpals

After two months of solid shipping success, there was bound to be a hiccup at some point. After a minor holdup at the post office, I finally got my hands on my box from Sarah, from Walking on my Own 2 Feet. Let me just say — that old saying, “good things come to those who wait”? So true!

Sarah let me know that she typically tries to put her Penpals packages together with a theme in mind — and mine was no different. So, just as if she had peeked into the notes from one of my friends (and a fabulous health coach/fitness instructor), she decided the theme of my box should be “Stay Hydrated!”. On most normal days, I really do try to make sure I’m fulfilling my water intake goal but there are some days I have a little more coffee than I should and let my water slip a bit.

The first two treats I pulled out were a bottle of Zico (chocolate flavor — something new to try!) and a carton of Trader Joe’s vanilla soymilk. What luck! That crosses one thing off my shopping list for the week — yay!

Next up were some other treats — a new box of green tea (absolutely essential in my never-ending effort to cut back on my coffee consumption, and another thing crossed off my shopping list), 3 fruit bars (great to throw in my bag when I’m on the run to prevent unhealthy snack grabs), and a packet of protein shake mix in birthday cake flavor (another new treat to try!).

And last, but definitely not least, was a brand new mini Bobble bottle and spare filter! Now — I’m not lacking at all in terms of water bottles. In fact I now have 10. That all have their own specific purpose — I swear! But there are a few really cool things about this bottle — 1) it’s small enough to fit into my regular purse, so I have no excuse not to have a bottle of water on me at all times, 2) since it filters as I drink, I can pretty much fill it up anywhere while I’m out and about, and 3) it adds a bit of “pop” to my current collection, which is consists of almost all blue bottles.

What? Don't you all have 10 water bottles stashed in your cabinet?

See? Told you good things come to those who wait.

And, despite our differences in football loyalties (*cough* Go Bears!*cough*), I managed to have way too much fun putting together a box to send to Mackenzie from Wealth is Health. Head over her blog to see what treats I sent her way!

Want to see some of my other loot

Want to join in the fun?
Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean organizes Foodie Penpals, so in her word’s here’s what it’s all about!

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe … use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

The deadline for the April group has past, but it’s not too early to start thinking about May!

If you’re interested in participating for May, please send an email to Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:

Your full name
Your email address
Your blog name/address
Your twitter handle (if applicable)
WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. – this is SUPER important so she can get you on the right list!

** You need to email Lindsay by May 4th, as pairings will be emailed on May 5th! **

February Foodie Penpals

After having so much fun with my first Foodie Penpals experience last month, I was beyond stoked for this month’s exchange. This month my package was coming from Emily over at The Last Corral and I couldn’t wait. As soon as Emily let me know what date my package was supposed to arrive, it took all I had not to stalk my postwoman — or my friend that I had house- and puppy-sitting for me while I was off eating my way through Gulfport and Louisiana…

As soon as I was home with my delivery pick-up ticket in hand, I headed over to the post office to pick up my stash. Where it took every ounce of self-control to not rip it open in the middle of the post office floor. Or maybe I was just motivated by my lack of desire not to share any of the treasures that Emily had picked out for me.

First things first, was Emily’s note — wishing me a happy trip South and and some quick explanation of the items she had included in my box.

In my initial message to Emily, I had mentioned that I am a little bit obsessed with the sweet and salty snack combination. And she did not disappoint. The next thing I pulled out of the box was a batch of Chocolate Caramel Pretzels, followed by a small package of Virginia peanuts. Yum, yum, and YUM!

Chocolate Caramel Pretzels and Virginia Diner Peanuts!

Next up were two cookies, which Emily had described as “delicious vegan delights”. I was slightly skeptical — especially considering how picky I am when it comes to Snickerdoodles — but there is not one crumb of either cookie left in my kitchen.

Vegan Snickerdoodle and Peanut Butter Cookies!

The next thing I picked up was a box of Green Tea with Pomegranate by Yogi Tea. I will always be a coffee person first, but I am really starting to come to terms with a nightly tea ritual. Much better than a midnight cup of coffee, right? And of all the teas out there, Yogi Tea tends to be my favorite pick — not only do I love the great, restorative flavor blends but the fun little thoughts on every single tea bag always help me recenter myself. And who knew there was a Yogi Tea out there that I haven’t tried yet? Yay!

A New Mug and Tea

The very last thing I pulled out of the box was quite possibly my favorite thing yet. A brand new mug. I am 99.9% sure that Emily didn’t know about the tragedy that struck my all-time favorite mug, so pulling this new owl mug out of the box made me laugh and feel like just maybe I could move on after all. It may not hold 24 ounces of coffee, and it may not be covered in fun Bahstun-inspired sayings, but it has quickly become my new favorite mug. I’ve found myself washing it by hand more than once a day, just so it can be ready for my next cup of coffee or tea. And in my kitchen, that’s true affection.

Thank you so much, Emily!

And in normal Lena fashion, I had to stop myself from going overboard in my shopping and preparing the package I sent out for Anne of Running Los Annegeles. I really hope she enjoyed her package, even half as much as I enjoyed my package from Emily!

Wanna join in the fun next month?
Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean organizes Foodie Penpals, so in her word’s here’s what it’s all about!

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe … use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

If you’re interested in participating for March, please send an email to Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:

Your full name
Your email address
Your blog name/address
Your twitter handle (if applicable)
WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. – this is SUPER important so she can get you on the right list!

** Lindsay will need to hear from you by March 4th as pairings will be emailed on March 5th! **

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