The Moment.

Before I begin today, I want to start by saying that I know that there are many single dads, stay-at-home dads and just dads in general! However, when I write posts like this, I write from the perspective of the mother and do not try to constantly write “mom/dad.” I am writing from my perspective and I know that many will relate to my stories, but some won’t – moms and dads included.

I have a unique perspective…at least I like to think so! I know what it’s like to be a working mom (outside the house). I know what’s it’s like to be a work-at-home mom. I can relate to stay-at-home moms, but some things are a lot different for me because I am running a business as well. I will not pretend that one (working mom, WAHM, SAHM) is more difficult because I know that being a mom is hard no matter what you “do.”  It’s fun, exciting, tiring, difficult and wonderful all at the same time!

Okay, let’s begin.

As a parent, there are so many moments that stand out in the life of your kids. Moments that make you say, “Thank you God for protecting my child!” Moments that, when you look back, make you say, “How did I make it through?!” Moments that cause you to laugh until you cry because seriously…is THIS the life of a parent? You think to yourself, “My friend just went on a business trip to Europe….and I just scooped poop out of the bathtub.”  (Though, we must not forget about the many, many women who are thinking, “I am traveling alone for business and she just got to snuggle her baby to sleep.”)

I was doing my glamorous work-at-home job today, like everyday, and I had the house semi-quiet as my son was at preschool. I had a coaching call scheduled with our Sales & Field Development Manager for an hour this morning, and I thought to myself, “Piece of cake. One’s at school, the other is self-entertained. I got this.” My baby, now a year and a half, was quite jolly this morning, so I let her play for awhile and then put her in her chair and let her watch some Paw Patrol on my lap top. She was especially thrilled, as we typically only turn on shows on Saturday.  I wasn’t terribly pre-occupied or trying to multi-task…a quiet moment.

I don’t have an office, and I needed to keep an eye on my child, of course, so I was camped out in the living room. We have a cut-out design in the wall overlooking the kitchen, so I could walk around the room watching her and chatting as needed. After awhile, I started hearing noises that I was not expecting, so I carefully continued with the call while tuning my ear in my baby’s direction. I heard the mouse click…and click…and click…and quiet giggling. I started wandering over to the kitchen, all the while trying to not lose my concentration or become dis-engaged with the call.

And this is what I found…

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The girl has got some upper arm strength, it seems! As well…she was not very remorseful. 🙂

This is what it’s like being a work-at-home mom or a stay-at-home mom.

And these are the moments that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

The Entrepreneur’s 24 Hours

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day.

I am trying to ‘have it all!’ I have two beautiful, incredible children that fill my hubby and I with so much joy! They love each other, they have fun together and they are such good friends! While we have plenty of parenting moments that cause us to sigh and cry, we have an absolutely wonderful family.
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I have a thriving, exciting, and delicious business! I am constantly looking to innovate and find new ways to conduct my personal business and help service my customers, but I am also working with 300 team members to help them do the same. I love our team meetings, training and the creativity that is shared among members. And again, while the businessMompreneur2, like any, has bumps in the road and difficulties to overcome , this business is an incredible blessing. I have so many amazing opportunities to meet other entrepreneurs and business woman, earn incentive trips and awards. Most recently, I was chosen as 1 of the 20 finalists (out of 17,000 members) in the Mompreneur community. I cannot wait to see where this business takes me next!
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I love working out, playing volleyball, volunteering with events at my church, mentoring high school girls and being present in my community.

So, how does an entrepreneur, a businesswoman with a family, or a mom trying to homeschool, etc. – how do we accomplish what we need to do in our 24 hours? I would love to hear from you! For now, here are my thoughts on our time…

1. Network with like-minded moms or entrepreneurs
For myself, I know that I cannot do it all. And while I still try….I fail, and I have to come back to the reality over and over again that I will need help. I rely on my network to help me find events, give referrals, or even trade services! Just today, in fact, I had my friend Craig from Shineco Cleaning Services come over and help me with my carpets and stairs in exchange for some of my business services (aka. delicious tea!). We both had a service the other was looking for and we could collaborate with each other to get it done!
Ps. I highly recommend Craig, of course! He does professional work, is friendly and great to work with on the job, and the proof is in the pictures – check out his work!

2. Multi-task….wisely!
I am the queen of multi-tasking many times to my own demise. I will “multi-task” by catching up on my favourite show while working only to realize that I need to triple-check all my work because I am not paying attention. That kind of work is not productive, efficient or helpful to your business.
The kind of multi-tasking that works for me are things like:
-Exercising while listening to a company conference call
-Catching up with a friend while packaging tea samples
-Bringing samples and information while I do errands to share as I go
-Inviting team members to my parties to train on the job

3. Schedule what’s important
As much as it sounds very boring and ‘adult’ to ‘pencil in’ coffee with a friend or a date with your spouse, scheduling has been key to helping my business and life run successfully. I need to know exactly what my calendar looks like – when is my free time to play with my kids, when are my conference calls and coaching calls with team members, when is my personal time, etc.
Personally, I like my online calendar best – I plug in everything on my computer and it syncs to my phone. However, you may prefer a day timer and that’s great – do what works!
Now, saying this…I completely missed an appointment at my chiropractor’s this morning because I forgot to look at my calendar. So…yeah. Oops!

I know that I need to work-out, and I love playing volleyball, so I plug into my calendar specific times every day to make it happen. I don’t just rely on free time to pop up and allow me to go do this. My husband is my number one supporter and dates with him are so important to me! However, with our family, miscellaneous activities for both of us, his work and my business, if we don’t plan dates, they aren’t going to happen. Just last week, we were trying to find a time to do something very simple – eat food and watch TV – and we kept failing to make it happen! I had a fundraiser meeting one night, he had a migraine the next night, then I had volleyball…life goes by too fast to just hope that you can accomplish all that you want!

4. Make S.M.A.R.T. goals for both the short- and long-term
Have you ever come across the S.M.A.R.T. system for goal setting? If you haven’t,  you need to take a look at this video that explains it quite well.

When you have both short- (monthly) and long-term (yearly) goals, you can work daily with specific action steps knowing that you are on the right path to achieve what you want to achieve. When you work spontaneously, randomly or frantically, you will get exactly those kinds of results.

Random Actions = Random Results

It’s truly as simple as that.

We all know – 24 hours goes by in a flash. Days turn into weeks and weeks into months and we sit back and wonder –

Why am I not progressing in this area of my life?!

I did that recently. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought – have I given up? When did I stop working out? When did I stop making this a priority?

I have had two beautiful babies and my body does not bounce back well (weight-wise) from having babies. My pregnancies are amazing, I feel so incredibly healthy and I truly love the entire process. Afterwards, though, it can take a toll on my weight.  I love working out, playing sports and being active, but somewhere along the way as I had these babies, launched my business, maintained two jobs (for two years) and did all the mom and wife things, I stoblog4pped planning to work out, scheduling it in my day, or setting goals for my physical activity.
Ps. No more!! Thanks to an amazing challenge from our founder, Tonia, I am back in the habit and so happy to be pushing myself in this area! Follow me here and I will cheer you on in your own journey!
So, my question for you is this – what are your goals and how will you achieve them? How will you use your 24 hours a day to maximize the opportunities that you have?

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The Conversation with a Stranger.

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I have been having this conversation with strangers ever since my son was born four years ago. Sometimes, it feels like it happens every day. Other times, I get a small break and then it comes up again.

Scene – Grocery shopping or doing errands with one or both of my kids. We are having a sweet moment of hugging, kissing, laughing or just being together. 

Stranger: “Enjoy this now while you can! Soon, they will be teenagers and they will have so much attitude!”
(Alternative scripts include, “they will hate you,” and “soon they will be grown up and it will all be over.”)
Me: “Ummm…”
Stranger (talking as she walks away): “Seriously, my daughter is 14 and gives me so much attitude.”
Me: “Well, we will be fine.”

End scene.

How is this encouraging in any way? It’s like they are trying to ruin your special moment because they wish their kids were babies, or perhaps, they are just intending on ruining your thoughts of your future? Seriously. This has to stop! I have been having this conversation over and over again since my first child was weeks old, and I am sick of it.

Even before we were pregnant with our first, I was very prepared to enjoy every stage of that pregnancy, no matter how much sickness, pain or discomfort I felt because I knew that I would just be so happy to be pregnant. Even more so, I knew that so many of my friends would love to have a child and don’t yet and knew my complaints would hurt them. Now, having two kids, I go back to the same attitude time and again as I look at my kids and am so thankful to God for the blessing that they are to us. An attitude of gratitude. Pregnant

 

 

Finding out I was pregnant with our first!

Maybe these random strangers are just having a tough day with their kids – we’ve all been there! I believe, for many, it’s so much deeper than that, though. They are not living with an attitude of gratitude that allows them to see both the struggles and also the great joys of EVERY stage of life. From newborn to toddler and elementary to high school, each child will progress through stages that contain amazing moments of triumph and joy and also hardships, both for them and the parents. However, I truly believe that an underlying joy can be present that helps you get through every stage, thankful for that stage of life.

Sidenote: Every child and every parent is different. There can be extenuating circumstances that brings much more difficult struggles than the ‘norm.’ I am not naive enough to say that life is easy, get through it and just keep smiling. I am very optimistic by nature, but I understand that some seasons of life are extremely difficult.
2nd Sidenote: No, I am not a mom of teenagers yet. I do not have experience in that field, only with preschool and under. I have volunteered with teenagers for 10 years and have spent a lot of time with teenagers, but no, I have not been a mom to a teenager.

As I seriously thought about this conversation today, it did strike me as funny what she was saying trying to compare the two stages – baby/toddler and teenager. Baby/Toddler = easy, fun and enjoyable. Teenager = horrible, difficult and painful. She was trying to do me a service, I guess, and warn me that having teenagers can be hard. Well, complete the picture and tell me how having teenagers can be wonderful, too, because every stage has both positives and difficulties.

Think about it…
Teenagers can be messy and forget to clean up after themselves.
Babies spend hours and hours of their lives ripping containers out of your cupboards on purpose and throwing them on your floor.

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Teenagers can keep you up at night waiting for them to come home before curfew.

 

Babies keep you up…all the time.

 

Teenagers can give you attitude and test their boundaries on obeying you/finding their independence.
Did I ever tell you about when my toddler told me that he prayed to God to help me be less stern with him?! Yeah, that happened. 🙂 Oh, and be sure to ask my hubby about the look he gets from our 16-month-old when he can’t guess what she wants!

Teenagers (boys) can be rude and belch/fart at the dinner table, leave their stinky clothes around the house, etc.
Umm…did you ever read my story about the trip to the library bathroom??! And have you ever had to scoop poop out of a bath tub?

Teenagers have homework that will make your head explode…and oh yes, teaching them how to drive?!
You have to teach babies….EVERYTHING.

I could go on…and on…but I digress. I laughed my way through this list and had a million more examples I could have given. I think babies are hilarious and exhausting, brilliant and complex, adorable and little stinkers all at once. I absolutely love the newborn stage, the baby stage and the preschool stage…even though each stage has major obstacles to overcome or difficulties to work through. Each stage of a child’s life will present challenges, but I am not about to complain my way through it and waste these years. I choose to have an attitude of gratitude and just love my kids, teach my kids, and serve my kids as best as I am able, no matter the stage. Some days rely on a lot of prayer, Matcha and counting to 10. Some days, I just need a break. However, no matter the day, I know this –

“The days are long, but the years are short.”

So, to the next stranger that gives me a “warning” about my future….just don’t. It’s not needed. I know there will be difficulties ahead….I don’t care! I love my kids unconditionally, I thank God for my kids every single day, and I am fully prepared to face the teenager years with my husband with a lot of prayer, relying on God, and drinking my Matcha…just like I have done through the early years.
Oh, and ps. I plan to actually enjoy my kids as teenagers, too. 🙂
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The Finalist.

Hello friends!

I, unintentionally, took quite a hiatus from the blog over the past few months. The fall months are always quite busy with my business, my team was taking off, I was working hard towards a huge promotion, and life just got carried away on me! I am working on my schedule and re-organizing after the holidays and hope to maintain my blog posts alongside my ever-so-faithful blogging companion.

Last week, I was actually in Jamaica with some Steeped Tea companions, so my blogging was delayed yet again! It was the second trip that I have earned through my business, and it was just amazing to get away, relax, read and SLEEP for a few days!

While I was in Jamaica, I received notice that I was selected as a finalist for the 2016 Mompreneur Award of Merit. I am completely floored by the announcement and just so thrilled to be a part of the process. I have been meeting and connecting with more entrepreneurs and businesswoman, and have even received some local press.
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I cannot believe where this business is taking me! Costa Rica…Jamaica…becoming an Executive Director…a finalist for a Mompreneur award… This is all so far beyond what I imagined when I became an entrepreneur! I joined Steeped Tea with the mindset of making a little extra for our family every month, and it has become an incredible full-time job over these past three and a half years.

Incentive trips are an incredible opportunity when working as an independent consultant for Steeped Tea. Being able to spend a week with our founders, top leaders and so many ‘tea friends,’ is invigorating and, well, just so much fun!
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Underwater cameras are a must, and I took full advantage of the opportunity to swim, play and drink (iced) tea. Drinking Matcha underwater is even better than on land!
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One of the best parts of being an entrepreneur is bringing others alongside you! It was an absolute pleasure to have two of my team members in Jamaica with me. ❤ I am looking forward to our trip to Maui next January and having an even bigger crew with us.

Enough reminiscing about beautiful Jamaica… I have an incredibly detailed essay that I am off to work on for the Mompreneur award. I am actually really looking forward to writing it as a way to reflect on my business, look forward to things ahead, and praise God for everything He has done in our lives since I became an entrepreneur on September 17th, 2012.

Are you an entrepreneur? I would love to hear from you! Send me an email or look me up online.

The Onion Ring Experiment

I am really not trying to usurp my mom’s glory by posting about 12 hours before her…I promise mom! 🙂 I managed to have a little ‘me time’ today – my hubby was downstairs, my three (almost four) year-old was playing Lego in his room, and my (almost) one year-old was napping. Bliss.

I had some time, a couple of onions leftover from my Crockpot meals, and an itch to try something new!
(Ps. I was not feeling entirely all that ‘healthy’ today… 🙂 )

I knew that onion rings had to be an extremely easy thing to make, but it was just one of those things that I had never tried! I found an easy recipe, mixed it up a bit and voila – Steeped Tea inspired Onion Rings using our Garlic Chili cheeseball spice!

Step 1 – (In a perfect world) Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 365 degrees F
(In my world) Heat olive oil in a frying pan on the stove on medium heat

Step 2 – Take 2 Medium (what I had) or 1 Large Onion. Cut both ends off and remove skin. Cut the whole onion into about 1/4 inch strips. Then, take each strip and separate out the rings.

Step 3 – Mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Add 2 tsp Garlic Chili cheeseball mix for some kick!

Step 4 – Coat your rings in the flour mixture and then set aside.
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Step 5 – Add 2 eggs and 1 1/2 cups milk to the remaining flour mixture.
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Step 6 – Coat the rings in the mixture, making sure they are evenly coated on all sides. Place rings on a wire rack to let the excess drip off. (Place tinfoil under the wire rack for easier clean-up)
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Step 7 – (In that perfect world) Deep fry the rings for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
(In my world) Experiment with time and temperature and let cook until golden brown. 🙂 At first, my oil was too hot, so they cooked too quick and the onion wasn’t perfectly cooked inside. Then, of course, I let the oil lower in temperature too much, so they had to sit for a little too long in the pan. Finally, I got everything working beautifully!
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Step 8 – Remove to a paper towel to drain. Season with a touch of Hawaiian Chipolte or SalTea topper and serve.

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Voila!

Totally easy, totally delicious……..just maybe don’t eat them everyday!

The Crockpot Freezer Meals: Take 1

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I love my crockpot so much. ❤

If you haven’t mastered the “art” of crockpot cooking, you really need to bring this delightful appliance into your home and give it a whirl. Crockpots can take a mishmash of ingredients, let them bask in each other’s glory for hours, and at the end of your day, you have a delicious meal!

Once you have a few ‘staples’ under your belt, I think you will find that you can easily look in  your fridge or at the grocery store and come up with your own ideas or recipes that could work!

Crockpot freezer meals take this to the next step. Now, you are not only making easy, amazing dinners, but you are making like 20 meals in 3 hours and you are set for weeks and weeks of meal prep. For me, I like to use maybe 1 or 2 crockpot freezer meals a week. Depending on the recipe, you may have leftovers or not, but at the very least, you are guaranteed to have your “big meal” for the day prepared. We all know that at least one meal in a week is a “whatever you can find in the fridge” meal, and other times, it’s just something simple like soup & sandwiches, pasta, pizza or breakfast for supper.

My first experience with this ‘batch cooking’ idea was right before we had our daughter (2nd child). I was having a c-section, already had an almost three-year-old and I just knew I would need some help. I compiled some recipes that looked like they would work, had a MASSIVE Costco shopping trip with my son, mom and grandma, and then they came over the next day to help me get about 18 meals prepared.

We LOVED having meals in the freezer ready to take out, throw in the crockpot and eat! Most recipes don’t need anything extra, and the ones that do, it’s often just pasta or rice that you can make up really quick before dinner.

A year later (oops, life passes by so quickly!), I decided to make up 20 more freezer meals, and plan to do this more regularly in the coming months. I kept some of the old recipes, added a few new ones, and then gave a Steeped Tea twist to all the meals.

My inspiration for the freezer meals this time around is my hubby’s new shift….3 a.m. until 11 a.m. OUCH. The change in his hours meant a change in our whole schedule, including eating! We now aim to have our “big family meal” at lunch, because often he will be in bed before the kids, so supper has become our smaller meal (which I hear is better for you anyway).

At first, I was gung-ho for this lunch idea and came up with some great meals, like….
A Taco Bar!
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Or Breakfast for supper….err lunch?
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We also had one day where I had made homemade bread and then used it to make grilled cheese to go along with our soup. YEAH, that was awesome.

And then…I sort of fell back into the old routine. It’s hard to wake up, get enthused about all the many things that your 3-year-old wants to show you, chase your (so close to) 1-year-old around, clean up the always happening house tornado, work from home, AND get a big meal on the table for noon. It’s hard enough some days to do all that and be ready for a 5 p.m. meal.

So, I welcomed back the crockpot freezer meals!

I will give you the recipes for a few of them now, and save the rest for another day. (This blog is long enough already!) I should also say – the inspiration for these recipes have come from all over. Some are adapted meals that we have always used, others are recipes I have found online and then tweaked over time, etc. For this batch cooking, though, I went through every recipe and replaced some of the spices/ingredients with Steeped Tea products to give it that extra twist.

Also, I ALWAYS make two of each recipe – you are already doing all the work for one, it only takes a couple extra minutes to do the second one. Most of these recipes are really quite standard, so it’s not likely you won’t like them (or you will be able to tell right away from the ingredients that you won’t).

Recipe #1 – 
Lemon Garlic Chicken

2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp Green Tea rub
2 tbsp. lemon juice
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Throw everything in a ziplock freezer bag and label it.
When you want to eat it, just empty it into your crockpot for 6-8 hours on low.
Serve with rice or quinoa.

(Note: This one is an adapted recipe and my first time using it. I am not 100% sure that it has enough liquid in it, so I will be monitoring it when it comes time to cook it.)

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Recipe #2  –
Chicken Teriyaki

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
5oz teriyaki sauce
½ tbsp. Smoky Tea-aki rub (okay, I didn’t actually measure it, but that’s about how much I used)
16 oz bag of frozen stir fry vegetables

Seriously, how easy is that?!
Throw everything into a freezer ziplock bag and label it. Always be sure to squish the air out (carefully!) before you seal and freeze.
When you are ready to eat it, put it in the crockpot for 6-8 hours on low.
Serve with rice.

Recipe #3 –
Honey Sesame Chicken

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breast
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup honey
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil
SalTea Topper – add as much as you like!

Throw everything into a freezer ziplock bag and label it. With recipes like this one with a ‘sauce,’ I always squish the bag around to make sure the chicken is coated and everything is mixed well.
When you are ready to eat it, put it in the crockpot for 4-6hours on low.
Serve with rice.

**This recipe introduces you to one of my very favourite seasonings – the SalTea topper! I use this exclusively to replace salt in my meals. It is a combination of salt, black tea and onion flakes and has a nice smoky taste to it. If a recipe calls for salt and pepper, again, I often just use this in its place. It’s a grinder, so it really helps you limit the salt content for yourself and the kids, and it lasts for a long time, which is even better!
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These were my first 6 meals – I did these in about 45 minutes after coming home from Costco and another grocery store feeling VERY tired but determined to get some done before a team outing at Social Art KW!.

7 more recipes to come, stay tuned!

 

The Homemade Latte

This post is long overdue. I feel like every time I post, I could say the same thing. Time has been getting away from me these days. I absolutely adore summer. My kids adore summer. We swim, we go to the park, we swim some more. I feel like so many of my afternoons are spent trying to enjoy summer before it leaves us.

I wish I could tell you that my delay in posting, the general disorder of my house, and lack of crossing items off my to-do list were the pool’s fault. I can’t quite put my finger on it (yet!), but I feel like I’m constantly running out of time and simultaneously wasting too much time on silly things. Just keeping it real on the blog today!

The one thing that will always brighten my day is a homemade Steeped Tea latte. They are simple, delicious and cost-effective…and the best part is that you don’t need to leave the house or spend $5 at Starbucks.

They can be enjoyed hot or cold and personalized in probably a million different ways. My hubby and I have really loved experimenting with our lattes and it’s the perfect treat for a night in or that pick-me-up in the morning!

My mom and I made a quick video on making your own lattes at home for you all – enjoy!

Now, with my mom’s allergies, we wanted to take this a step further and look into some non-dairy options for your lattes. We wanted to try a few different options and explore the taste, texture and the froth it produced, as that is an essential part of a latte.

First up –IMG_8037 Flax Delight

These were all my mom’s choices, as she was the one who needed to find a topper for her latte. Any of the traditional replacements – almond or soy milk primarily – wouldn’t work for her with her allergies.
We knew right away that this one probably wouldn’t do the job – the fat content isn’t very high in a flax beverage. We thought it was worth a try though, just in case!

IMG_8038As you can see, no bubbles, hardly any froth on this one. The taste was fine, but it didn’t thicken at all, so probably not your best choice for a latte.

IMG_8039Next up –  Hemp Bliss

I had never come across this beverage before. I was impressed by the sweet taste, but again, the fat content is pretty low in this beverage, so we weren’t sure about how it would hold up to a frother.

If you take a look at the links, you can see the nutritional information for the beverages we tried. The fat content was slightly higher in this beverage, likely why it did a little better in our trial!
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The picture doesn’t really give the full idea on this one. There were some bubbles, it thickened a bit, had a sweet taste, but it wasn’t the thickness you would expect with a normal latte. However, we did find through our trials that you aren’t going to find the fullness of froth in some of these ‘alternative’ beverages to milk.

For many lattes, this beverage would do well as a topper, and make sure to add some Vanilla sugar or Apple Cinnamon topper to your latte as well!

Last IMG_8042one – Coconut Dream

We had high hopes for this one because, well, coconuts are delicious!
This beverage did not disappoint! It frothed and bubbled, tasted great (of course!), and was a great option for your lattes.
The only downside is that not all lattes , like a London Fog,  will suit itself to having a coconut flavour added. It’s all in personal preference, though! Now that I am thinking about it, coconut mixed with a London Fog might actually be a great drink…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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With that trial over with and adequate winners chosen, we thought we were done. My mother, the researcher, kept looking around and found one more she wanted to try, so we broke out the frother at the swimming pool later that day for one last test.

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Bonus – So Delicious French Vanilla Creamer

This one just sounded too fabulous, it had to be a winner!

And oh boy…it was! It bubbled and frothed and tasted fantastic!

If  your latte could be complimented by this flavour, DO IT! It is a great option if you are avoiding dairy, soy or nuts.

20150729_170816This beverage was even child-approved!

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So, there you have it. Make your own lattes, at home, and do it all while avoiding your allergens!