Monday, August 1, 2011

The Good And The Bad: Product Reviews

As promised, our humble opinions regarding some of the organic/all natural products we have purchased and tried. 
I grilled the Jarhead for his opinions too, but sometimes the answer was slightly less than enlightening.  For instance, when he came over to kiss me the other morning with minty fresh breath, I asked him what he thought of the new toothpaste I bought.  He said something like, "It's paste for my teeth."  That's Jarhead speak for, "quit asking me stupid questions."  And the fact that it's a stupid question means that in his mind, it hangs with the rest of toothpaste.  My opinion is pretty much the same; it's toothpaste.  My teeth felt super duper slick and clean, just be prepared for some power flavor from this PowerSmile.  And a somewhat hefty price tag. *gulp*
 Avalon Organics is one of the main all natural companies that the commissary here stocks.  I first became acquainted with them through their shampoo and conditioner, which I loved.  When I ran out of soap from Mountain Creek Gifts, I needed some filler before another order could get here.  I bought this hand soap from Avalon Organics, and it doesn't disappoint.  The Jarhead says, "it smells nice."  I would add that it doesn't dry your  hands out and has a nice consistency.
 I love cereal, and the ease it allows in the morning.  Unfortunately, most cereal you find will have corn ingredients with all their GMO evil, corn syrup and preservatives, along with being packaged in BPA laden plastic bags.  I was determined that if we only bought one thing Organic, it needed to be cereal, since it's an almost daily in our house.  Thankfully the commissary offered some alternatives.  I first bought boxes of Cascadian Farm Oats and Honey Granola, as well as their Honey Nut O's.  The Granola was delicious with the first few bites, but afterward I found it obnoxiously, sickeningly sweet.  I asked the Jarhead what he thought and he concisely said, "it's sweet."  He didn't mean, "Saaaaweeet!" like, "man that cereal is rockin' awesome", but sweet in the obnoxious way.  We won't buy it again.

The Honey Nut O's are much better I find.  They are not good finger food for toddlers and babies like Cheerios, because they are sticky, but in a bowl with milk, they are pretty good.  Nothing to get excited about, but they hit the spot.

 The next time I went to the commissary I found Koala Crisp.  This stuff is pure temptation.  It's deliciously chocolatey.  I am not one for chocolate in general, and definitely not big on super sweet breakfast cereal, but this is not obnoxious.  It's more of a cocoa flavor than pure sweetness, and my girls sure do love it.  "Mom, I want chocolate cereal" is a common early morning request.  I told the Jarhead he needed to try it, and he thought it was good, but nothing to rave about.  I  beg to differ.  *RAVE* The ingredients list does my heart good too.
 This is pretty much...butter.  It's yumm.  The end. 
 Oh dear; now we come to the dishwashing powder I bought.  I don't like to be a stick in the mud, but this stuff was just plain awful.  I should've taken the hint when every box of it in the commissary was a solid brick of caked powder.  To be fair to Seventh Generation, it is quite possible that it got wet some time in shipment.  Don't ask me to tell you about the caked and molded Kraft Mac and Cheese back in the day of eating that kind of stuff.  It's nasty, you really don't want to know.  When I got this soap home, I took a  hammer to it, thinking it would break up without alot of effort.  I was wrong.  I broke the box but didn't really break the powder.  So I put it in bag after bag, and after much effort, ended up with smaller, hard bricks of powder.  I finally said, "FORGET IT!" and thought the water would break it up in the dishwasher.  It did, but my dishes ended up covered in little white, crusted on, dishwasher powder spots, and there was always leftover food pieces floating in water on top of my glasses.  It was really aggravating, and something I never ran into with Cascade.  Since I discovered we have hard water, that could be a contributing factor, but it's back to Cascade for me until I can find another brand that works for me.  I will not be purchasing Seventh Generation again.
Quinoa Pasta is yummilicious.  And expensive.  I usually purchase Barilla Plus, a high protein pasta made of semolina.  The price difference is remarkable, and I don't know enough about "junk" in pasta to decide whether or not it's worth it.  Quinoa is gluten free, so for those with dietary restrictions, it is a great choice.
Despite working at a dairy for a time during my teen years, I am not much of a milk drinker.  However during that time at the dairy, I had the benefit of getting raw milk, and it was delicious.  This is most definitely a step down from that of course, but I am very thankful we have access to it over here.  The Jarhead likes it. 

I know Polaner All Fruit has been around forever, but I've always been a Welch's Grape Jelly girl.  I decided to give the Polaner a try and now I feel like I am officially an adult.  I felt just this way when I was thirteen and no longer qualified for the kids menu.  Goodbye, grilled cheese.  Hello Caesar salad.  I am particularly fond of their Blueberry Jam; it's so...grown up...with actual blueberries in it!  It's delicious. 
I very reluctantly bought some all natural peanut butter since it was sitting next to the Polaner and all...I've not been keen on it since my Mom bought some when I was a kid.  The separation of the oil kind of looks disgusting when you're ten and then, not knowing any better we put it directly into the fridge before stirring it.  When we finally got up the courage to try it, we stirred and stirred and no avail.  That put an end to that experiment, and my brothers and I breathed a sigh of relief when Jiff once again became the staple peanut butter in the pantry.  When I bought Adams peanut butter, I wasn't expecting much.  I stirred and stirred and stirred, but this time prior to refrigeration.  With a bit of effort, it actually creams up pretty well.  And tastes brilliant too. 

That's it from us for now.  Please feel free to share your opinions and experiences if you've tried these products, or make recommendations for others. 


  1. I still have your peanut butter in my pantry. :( Haha. Maybe eventually I will get it to you. *sigh* As for the Avalon's something I've been wanting to try but I'm a major germaphobe and I have to have something that's antibacterial. :( Oh and Izaak eats Cascadian Farm cereal every morning. There are probably more varieties of it over here. He likes the cinnamon one that's like Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And there's also one with Clifford the dog on the front and he just started eating that one. I saw the Koala ones at the store yesterday for the first time but didn't get it. It had more sugar in it than the ones he already eats so I just decided to stick with that for now. He also likes the Sesame Street organic oatmeal. Thanks for all the reviews! :)

  2. My favorite peanut butter is Teddy organic. I stir it up as soon as I get it home and leave it in the cupboard. Then when I want to have some...about once a just needs a quick stir. Never gets stiff that way. For toothpaste I get Dad the Jason Sea Fresh because it doesn't have fluoride. But I prefer to mix up about 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda with about 6-8 drops of hydrogen peroxide and use that. Not a great taste...salty...but it does a bang-up job and gives a natural whiteness. Cheap too. My mother is the one who gave me that idea.

  3. I have some of that jelly in raspberry. I was going to use it for some thumb print jelly cookies I planned to make, but that never happened LOL so I've just eaten it on biscuits and stuff instead.

  4. Looks like you and I have a lot in common! I have a lot of the same concerns about food and products, though it is HDPE in cereal bags I think you are talking about. I am in love with a company called Shaklee...especially the cleaning and personal products. I have a lot of info on my blog, check it out if you want!