Xyla Review and Vegan Delish Giveaway

Before I get to the post, I want to express my sorrow for the people involved in the Boston Marathon tragedy. 

I know I promised this review and giveaway a few weeks back but I just received my products to review from Xyla (along with a really sweet note from them!) and I wanted to do the review and app giveaway in the same post. Better late than never, right?

Xyla is a company that sells a variety of xylitol products. Xylitol is a naturally-occurring sweetener often found in some fruits and vegetables. It is lower in calories than sugar and is good for your teeth, which is why it’s often used in toothpastes and gums. It’s a safe sweetener for diabetics to use as it stabilizes both insulin and hormone levels. Best of all, it’s very similar to sugar in appearance and taste, so it can easily be used in place of sugar in most recipes.

xyla blog review

Xyla sent me a few of their products, including their original crystals (I like that they source their xylitol from North American hardwood, rather than GMO corn), mints, candy and gum. I think it’s great that they have such a wide selection of mints and candies sweetened with xylitol with pretty natural ingredients. I have mints or gum on a regular basis, and it can be hard to find them without scary additives. The mints and candies all tasted great, and had no weird aftertastes. The watermelon ones are my favorite and remind me of Jolly Ranchers!

I’ve had other brands of xylitol before, so I knew it would taste a bit different than white sugar. It has more of a ‘cool’ flavor to it, which makes it really great for mints and gum. But this ‘cool’ flavor doesn’t effect it in baking at all–I used it in 1 to 1 ratio in a coconut flour microwave cake (in place of my usual Truvia) and it tasted the same. I really want to try Xyla in a homemade sugar-free maple syrup…I’ve just gotta find an all-natural maple extract!

Now onto the Vegan Delish giveaway. Carrie, co-host of Healthy Vegan Fridays and blogger at Carrie on Vegan, is the creator of this recipe app for iPhones, iPads and iTouches. I always love vegan recipe sites, so having an entire app based on them is a dream come true!

For new and veteran vegans and vegetarians, plus those wanting to explore the benefits of a plant-based diet, Vegan Delish is a recipe app available for iPhones and iPads featuring innovative tools such as a digital shopping list and searchable categories including quick & easy, kid-friendly and slow-cooker. Listed as one of the top 20 Food & Drink paid iPhone apps, Vegan Delish inspires users to make whole food, plant-based meals that are as delicious as they are nutritious. 

A screenshot from my iPod touch.

A screenshot from my iPod touch.

First of all, I love that the recipes are all pretty simple, with easy-to-find, whole food ingredients and most if not all the recipes are also gluten free. The beautiful photos for each recipe is one of my favorite parts of the app–don’t you just love being able to actually see what the recipe you’re about to make is supposed to look like?

So far, I’ve made the Cashew Curry Sauce (subbing almond milk for the soy) and it was so good I couldn’t believe it only called for 5 simple ingredients! I have plans to make many more of the recipes, including the Chocolate Buckwheat Brittle pictured above, the Curried Tempeh Tacos, the Parmesan Noodles and Kale and Tropical Watermelon Slushy. There really is a recipe for everyone, whether you’re vegan or not!

You can buy this app on the App Store for just $1.99 (I can vouch for it working on iTouches as well, in case you don’t have an iPhone or iPad) but since Carrie is so nice, she’s offering a free code for one of you guys to download it for FREE! To enter, just leave a comment below telling me what kind of app you would create if you could. You can get additional entries by following me on Twitter @fashion_ash or subscribing to my blog (I can’t use the cool Rafflecopter thing since I have a WordPress.com site, sorry!) I’ll announce the winners next Wednesday. Thanks, and good luck!

Friday Faves (July 13)

Well it’s Friday the 13th…anyone experiencing any bad luck today? I’m really not a superstitious person so I think bad things (and good things too) can happen any time regardless of the day on the calendar. Plus I’m feeling pretty darn lucky today anyway–my birthday’s in exactly two weeks and I went to the dentist yesterday and came back with no cavities. Yay!

(Soon to be) Favorite Starbucks Drink: Refreshers

It’s like a limeade with a caffeine boost!

It’s no secret that I love Starbucks, but sadly I haven’t been in a couple of weeks, even though we just moved within a 5 minute driving distance of one. But now I have an even better reason to go–their new Refreshers drinks! P.S. They’re giving them away free today between noon and 3 pm so get one now. They have different versions of the drinks–two iced ones in their stores, three sparkling water kinds and instant VIA packets at grocery stores. I’ll be keeping my eye out for those the next time I go shopping and I’m hoping I enjoy my free one!

Favorite App: Phonto

Just in case you didn’t know, this was a lunch. Steamed edamame, squirt of sriracha, baby carrots, blueberries, sprouted toast topped with blueberry chia jam and cashew cream cheese.

I can’t say enough good things about the LabelBox app, but now there’s another photo editing app I love–Phonto. As a self-professed font nerd, I like being able to add a caption directly to my photos in a million different fonts and colors. From now on, if my photos aren’t LabelBox’d, they’ll be Phonto’d. Just warning you 😉

Favorite Fitness Move: Planks

Not this kind of planking, but isn’t this adorable?

Until maybe a year ago, I had no idea what planks were. And now, I’m hooked. I do them a couple of times per day in addition to my other fitness routines and I’ve been working on holding them for a long time. Right now I can only do them for 2 minutes straight, but I want to get up to 5 minutes soon! They’re such a good fitness move since they pretty much work everything–arms, core and even legs.

Favorite Day I’m Looking Forward To: July 27th

From my birthday last year…apparently I was proud of this tiny strawberry I grew on my strawberry plant!

I’ve tried not to talk about it too much on the blog, since people don’t really care too much about other people’s birthdays, but I’m definitely excited to turn 20 in exactly two weeks! It’ll probably feel really weird to finally be out of my teenage years but I’m ready to be one year closer to legal drinking age 😉 Actually, I’m just more excited about the plans I have for my birthday this year. On the actual day, I’m gonna get Whole Foods salad bar for dinner (and hopefully some bakery-made vegan dessert) and watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and who knows what else. And over the weekend, I’m planning on going up to Denver for a day of shopping and going out to eat at (hopefully) a completely vegetarian or vegan restaurant for the first time ever. Possibly even Native Foods Cafe, which just opened in Boulder! Shopping, good eats and the Olympics–doesn’t get much better than that for me!

What do you like to do for your birthday? What’s your favorite fitness move?