Coterie Sampler & Box Giveaway!: September 2015

My travel budget is sadly quite low, so I don’t get a chance to explore many new places. Cue my excitement when Coterie Sampler sent me a free box to review that offers an assortment of food and lifestyle items all from Austin, Texas. So now I get to try a bit of Texas without ever leaving New Jersey. Coterie Sampler in all their awesomeness, has also offered to giveaway a free box to one of you, my loyal readers. For entry info jump down to the Giveaway section, but now let’s get to the box.

Coterie Sampler is a subscription offered by Coterie Market. “Coterie Market delivers Austin’s finest food & goods to your home or office, making it convenient to shop and buy high quality, local products. From pastry and chocolate to jewelry and home cleaning, all of Coterie Market’s products are from business owned and operated in the Austin area and most are handmade with locally-sourced materials.”

Coterie Sampler offers two sizes of box, The Mark (6 – 8 items) for $59.95, or The Standard (4 – 6 items for $39.95 and every item in comes from a Maker in the Austin, TX area.
Box #1
Okay, it’s time to bust open some cardboard.

We start with a surprisingly heavy and fairly large box. (I guess it’s true that everything is bigger in Texas.)
Box 2Open Box 2

Tea Biscuits
Rosemary ‘Gin & Juice’ Shortbread Tea Biscuits
by Skull & Cakebones
(Estimated Retail: $9.95)
Product Description: “Rosemary shortbread infused with Revolution Spirits Austin Reserve Gin, topped with grapefruit glaze and a dusting of pink peppercorn. These rich, surprising treats meander between sweet and savory with a whisper of heat. Perfect for entertaining, gifting, or hoarding for yourself. Shh…they’re vegan!”
About the Makers: “Skull & Cakebones in Austin’s first locally-sourced craft bakery. They specialize in all-natural products that are vegan, non-GMO, never artificial and they incorporate local products from fellow artisans.”
Verdict: Like

Who knew Texas had vegans? Clearly the Food network has been lying to us for years. The shortbread on these was very rich and the glaze was to die for. My only issue is that rosemary is such a strong flavor and personally I thought it took away from the cookie. It was like a yummy cookie with a hint of Christmas tree. Don’t get me wrong the cookies were still tasty and I ate them all, but they would have been a “love” instead of a “like”.

Kale Chips
Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips
by Sarah’s Kale Chips
(Estimated Retail: $7.00)
Product Description: “Sarah’s Kale Chips are organic, raw, vegan, and gluten Free! Delicious, seasoned, dehydrated kale made into a snack that you can feel great about.”
About the Makers: “Sarah is a massage therapist who makes each batch of dehydrated kale chips by hand, with love, in Austin, TX. While she waits the 12-15 hours for the chips to dehydrate, she makes music.”
Verdict: The saddest music in the world

I used to like Kale. Really I did. It was a great, slightly less bitter alternative to Spinach. But then, the PR rep for Kale started logging a lot of overtime hours. It even showed up in stuff like brownies. Yes, you got that right. Kale brownies. Imagine that for a moment. Now Kale chips are a perfectly acceptable use for Kale, however I could not stomach these. Whatever music Sarah is playing when she makes these must be the saddest music in the world. All bitter and lonely notes. I recommend some Harry Belafonte calypso. No food could ever be sad with that music playing.

Organic Fruit-Infused Water
by Sway Water
(Estimated Retail: $4.00)
Product Description: “Sway is a simple solution to sugary, synthetic drinks. Real, organic fruit, is infused with purified water resulting in a completely natural and refreshing beverage.”
About the Makers: “Albert, Sarah, Paul, and Kate at Sway Water source the majority of their fruit from the same farmer’s markets at which Sway first began to sell their product, and the rest come from local grocers.”
Verdict: Rosemary Strikes Again!

I really liked the natural strawberry flavor in this water, but again the rosemary is a bit too overpowering. I could easily see how someone would find the drink refreshing but I personally would have loved one of the other flavors instead. I think it was a bit of a misstep to include two items with rosemary in the same box. It’s a strong herb and not everyone enjoys it in sweeter pairings.

Seasonal Preserves
by Confituras
(Estimated Retail: $10.00)
Product Description: “Enjoy an assortment of these award-winning preserves. You’re receiving Stephanie’s personal choice of the season’s best flavors.”
About the Makers: “Locally sourced fruits and herbs along with organic cane sugar make their way into Stephanie McClenny’s small-batch, Good Food Award winning james.”
Verdict: Love!

I adore jams, preserves, jellies – pretty much any colorful fruit mixed with sugar in a jar. I received the Bourbon Brown Sugar Peach Preserves and I think I’m going to save these to use in some cardamom jam cookies I plan to make.

Lavender Mosquito Repellent
from Lavande Farm
(Estimated Retail: $10.00)
Product Description: “Lavender naturally prevents mosquitos form landing and this spray provides roughly five hours of beautifully –scented protection. Shake well before use and apply to all exposed areas. Doubles wonderfully as an air freshener and linen spray.”
About the Makers: “After being inspired by the lavender fields of Provence, France, Craig Stewart came home to Texas and planted fields that have grown into the Lavande experience.”
Verdict: Love

WHY HAS NO ONE TOLD ME LAVENDER STOPS MOSQUITOS FROM LANDING! This is life changing information. One summer vacation in Maine, I stopped counting my bites after 26. That was after 1 days. ONE day. This box is worth the price just for this information. Most repellants are full of stuff you don’t want on your skin or smell horrifically (hello Citronella) so this is wonderful and I’ll be using it during my next trek into the Great Outdoors.

Petite Wall Vase in Box Style with Resin Inlay
by BDJ Craft Works
(Estimated Retail: $32.00)
Product Description: “This soulful wall or tabletop adornment comes to you in maplek, cherry, or walnut finish with hand-inlaid resin in beautiful natural patterns following the grain and feel of the wood. The glass insert is removable for cleaning and dishwasher-safe.”
About the Makers: “Aesthetically spare and minimal, Brian David Johnson’s pieces are rooted in his years of designing and building custom furniture.”
Verdict: Like

I really appreciate the inclusion of a home item in this box and I am a sucker for handmade items. This is a lovely little vase, although I wish it was a touch bigger since it would open it up to more uses than just being a vase (like for pencils or paint brushes). I’m going to need to find just the right place for it in my home since I am sadly low on wall space.

Seasoning Salt
Finishing Salts
by Lenoir
(Estimated Retail: $14.00)
Product Description: “Large flake sea salt, pink Himalayan Salt, house made Herbes de Tejas (dried herbs with chilies, lavender and fenugreek) and dhana dal (roasted coriander seeds).”
About the Makers: “Husband and wife, Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher opened Lenoir to help build a strong culinary community in Austin, and to redefine the food style of Austin.”
Verdict: Hit!

I love trying different seasonings and this one has a mix of unusual ingredients. I can’t wait to try this out on some steak or shish kabob.

Coterie Sampler

This was a really lovely box to unwrap. I’ve never been to Austin, but I feel like I got an idea of the foodie and local artisanal scene there. I thought there was a nice balance of food versus lifestyle items and a lovely variety. I think the curation here was spot on. I received this box for free to review, but the cost is $59.95.  That’s a great price since the estimated value of this box comes out to $86.95. If you’re into trying new artisanal foods or have an interest in the local Austin, TX scene, this might be the right box for you.

Have you tried any regional food boxes? What did you think?


Our winner is…drumroll…..Ake!
Thanks to everyone who participated and especially to Coterie Sampler for hosting the giveaway!
Please come back for more fun reviews and giveaways!

Coterie Sampler has graciously offered a giveaway of a FREE BOX to you, one of my oh so wonderful readers. As usual my giveaways are straightforward (life’s complicated enough already).

1. You need to have a mailing address in the US. (Sorry international peeps!)
2. You need to “like” the Coterie Market Facebook page.
3. You need to leave a comment on this blog post.

You’ve got until Sunday, October 4th to enter. (When the clock strikes 12 EST, your coach turns back into a pumpkin so get your entry in beforehand). Winners will be randomly selected. I’ll announce the winner once they’ve been contacted and a mailing address confirmed.

Good Luck and thanks for reading!

In your Coterie Sampler box, you’ll find beverages, ready-to-eat food items, pantry staples, sweet and savory flavors, and craft item(s) for the home and family.

Most of The Coterie Sampler products are full-size. Any sample-size products will be large enough to actually enjoy! Often, we collaborate with Makers and Chefs to bring you one-of-a-kind items, exclusive to The Coterie Sampler.

Our Pledge & Product Standards:
We research, test, and hand-select each product we bring into the Sampler program. Every item in The Coterie Sampler meets our standards for quality and comes from a Maker in the Austin, TX area. We look for products made with Slow, traditional methods, local and sustainable sourcing and production, and, above all, exceptional taste and quality.

Box Options & Cost:
The Mark (6 – 8 items): $59.95
The Standard (4 – 6 items): $39.95

SnackSack: May 2015 & Special Coupon Code!

Today we’ve got another fun snack box called SnackSack (and it literally comes in a Sack!) The wonderful folks at SnackSack sent me a box to review and a fabulous coupon code just for you (use THERAPY10 to save 10% on your first purchase). For details on pricing jump down to “The Backstory”.

“SnackSack delivers better tasting, originality, and higher nutritional value, once a month. We include a mixture of snacks that are organic or all-natural, non-GMO, vegan, fair-trade, or gluten-free. Don’t expect to receive any artificial junk, we just aren’t about that. We consistently deliver wholesome and original recipes, allowing you to discover natural snack foods that truly delight your tastebuds.”

Tasty, natural snacks? Sounds fabulous to me. Let’s dive in.
Open Box
Sack! Inserts
This snack box has the best packaging of any of the ones that I’ve tried. It’s got a detailed card listing all the products, and an adorable sack that will be transformed into someone’s gift packaging. Opening it up really felt like someone took time and effort to put this together and that’s exactly what you should feel when you open up a sub box.

Whenever I get a snack box, I need to call in my Chief Snack Officer, CSO (otherwise known as my boyfriend). He loves snacks and we live together so there’s no way I could keep a giant box of assorted crunchy items from him.

Caveman Cookies
Alpine Hazelnut Carob Cookie
by Caveman Cookies
Description: “Swiss flavor combination of hazelnuts and chocolate, but made with carob, a healthy alternative”.
Tropical Coconut Macadamia Cookie by Caveman Cookies
Description: “The absolute perfect nutty and sweet tropical treat for your inner caveman.
Verdict: Like!
A little love for the Paleo folks. That tropical cookie never made it to my inner caveman since it was snatched by my outer one. My CSO ate these and his verdict was that they were “good”. If you knew his snack standards, you’d realize this was high praise.

Hard Candy
Fresh Fruit Hard Candies by Torie & Howard

Description: “Fresh flavors that taste of real, luscious fruit picked straight from the garden.”
Verdict: Like!
These hard candies are quite tasty and I’m still working my way through the little bag. They definitely have a fresh taste and if you enjoy hard candies, you’d definitely like these.

Luke's Organic
White Cheddar Cheese Puffs
by Luke’s Organic
Description: “Behold the power of cheddar and air, these tiny cheddar clouds will rock your socks off.”
Verdict: Hit!
If you like Pirate’s booty or those Trader Joe’s cheese puffs you’ll love these. They are tasty, crunchy cheesy goodness.

Hazelnut & Almond Coconut Spread
by Barefoot & Chocolate
Description: “Dreamy coconut & super nutty and sweet hazelnut chocolate spreads”.
Verdict: You had me at Chocolate
I haven’t tried these yet. Why? Because I’m saving them for something awesome. There is some baking project that is going to be topped with these. I just must find something worthy.

Raw Rev
Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Protein Bar
by Raw Revolution
Description: “Delicious creamy peanut butter with rich dark chocolate, packed with omega-rich superfoods”
Creamy Peanut Butter Protein Bar by Raw Revolution
Description: “Delicious creamy peanut butter with rich dark chocolate, packed with omega-rich superfoods”
Verdict: Like!
These Raw Revolution snacks were another set my Boyfriend—er CSO, sampled. Again, he liked them, which is hard for any snack, nevermind a healthy one.

Sea Salt Popcorn
by Boom Chicka Pop
Description: “Perfectly sea-salted and made with 100% Whole Grain”
Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn by Boom Chicka Pop
Description: “A little bit sweet and a little bit salty makes for the perfect combo.”
Verdict: Hit!
I’ve tried this brand before and it’s quite tasty. For me, Kettle Corn is always a win.

Frontier Bites
Almond Blueberry Lemon Bites
by Frontier Bites
Description: “Crunchy energizing bites of almonds, blueberries and tart lemon. Be warned these won’t last long.”
Verdict: Hit!
I love fruity snacks and these were quite tasty and perfect for work.

Gummy Bears
Sweet Chewy Gummy Bears
by Yum Earth
Description: “This classic gummy bear, a favorite of many. Made without any artificial junk.”
Verdict: Love!
You can just send me all the gummies. ALL.THE.GUMMIES. I didn’t think it was possible to make gummy candies with “artificial junk”. But these are tasty so I’m happy to eat the package or a gallon, you know, whichever.

Sea Salt & Nibs
Sea Salt & Nibs Chocolate Bar
by Madecasse
Description: “This chocolate bar best amplifies the flavors of pure, Madagascar cocoa. Heaven!”
Verdict: A little too nibby and salty
I think their definition of Heaven is a bit different than mine. This wasn’t terrible but it was just too biting for me. The overabundance of sea salt just made the flavors muddled.

Sweet Flavored Snack Mix
by Sheffa
Description: “A delightful combination of coconut-covered roasted almonds and soy nuts mixed with fruit.”
Zesty Flavored Snack Mix by Sheffa
Description: “Crispy chickpea noodles, roasted corn, and toasted seeds seasoned to perfection.”
Verdict: Nope.
My resident CSO tried the Zesty snacks first and deemed them “gross”. I tried them and concurred and the bag was tossed. It’s hard to explain, but the flavor almost tastes like the soup packets where you just add water. I tried the “sweet snack mix” and the coconut covered almonds are delicious…the rest not so much. The soy nuts definitely get stuck in your throat. If Sheffa made a bag with just the nuts I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

Protein Chips
BBQ Protein Chips
by Quest Nutrition

Description: “Smokey, backyard-BBQ flavor on a baked, savory chip. Ooh doggy!”
Verdict: Punishment for the low carb folks
I’m not even sure a dog would eat these. My snack expert deemed them gross and couldn’t make a dent in this tiny bag. During my months on Keto, I tried a Quest bar. It was *supposed* to be apple. It was like taffy and tar had a baby and sprinkled cinnamon on it.  The only thing worse than being on a low carb diet are snacks like these.  Why not just give me a paper cut and poor lemon juice on it?  I appreciate the inclusion of a low carb brand, but these are no bueno.

Snacksak May 2015

From the packaging to the wide variety in snacks, I felt like SnackSack was thoughtfully curated. I didn’t price out the snacks individually because many are difficult to find for individual purchase. What’s particularly great about this sub is that a lot of these snacks are low carb, paleo or gluten free and those snacks can be expensive and often not-so-tasty. SnackSack offers a way to try a whole bunch of items without purchasing a large expensive box of a single snack only to find out you hate the flavor or texture.

I received this box for free, but it retails for $23.   I feel like that’s a great price for what it includes and it’s definitely a box I will consider if I finally decide to jump back into a snack box subscription. My resident CSO thought this box had the most variety of any of the snack ones we’d tried and I concur with his assessment.

I’ve got some more great food boxes coming up for review including a Coffee Sub with a fun app and Hawaiian snacks, so be sure to come back and check it out.

Do you try to snack healthy? If so what is your favorite snack?

SnackSack delivers better tasting, originality, and higher nutritional value, once a month. We include a mixture of snacks that are organic or all-natural,non-GMO, vegan, fair-trade, or gluten-free.
Monthly Cost:
You can choose how many Snacksacks you get per month:
1 per month: $23 w/ Free Shipping
2 per month: $45.50 w/ Free Shipping
4 per month: $90 w/ Free Shipping
8 per month: $178 w/ Free Shipping
12 per month: $264 w/ Free Shipping

Prepayment offers a discount:
3 Month Prepay Discount: Save $1.50 on each SnackSack
6 Month Prepay Discount: Save $3.00 on each SnackSack

COUPON CODE: Use THERAPY10 to save 10% on your 1st purchase.

Urthbox Classic: February 2015

So today we’re taking a break from the beauty boxes to focus on food. Urthbox is a food subscription service that focuses “…on Non-GMO, Organic and All Natural” snacks including “Full-Size products from trustworthy brands perfect for your home, personal life or the office.”

The lovely folks at Urthbox sent me their Large “Classic” box to review for you all (for details on box options, pricing and a coupon code, jump down to the Backstory).

As soon as I opened the box I was immediately impressed with the quantity of items. There is a ton of product in this box and a lot of variety. I wasn’t familiar with most of the brands so it was fun to try these out. Most items had nutritional values on the packaging, but a few did not. It took me awhile to try out all the products for you guys, but I did it. (I’m all about the science you know).
Open Box

Purity Organic Watermelon Strawberryade
(Estimated Retail: $?)
Verdict: Love!
Because I tend to watch out for calories in my juice drinks, I don’t have them often. This was a lovely treat. It tastes fresh and like real fruit as opposed to artificial flavoring. The whole bottle (2 servings) is 120 calories so probably not something I’d drink that often. It’s currently out of stock on Amazon so I couldn’t give you a price for this one.

Trail BItes
Gourmet Nut Gourmet Trail Bites Mangoes and Cranberries
(Estimated Retail: $4.67)
Verdict: Love!
This were tasty and had a cool square shape for easy snacking. I think kids would love these and they would be great for picnics and trips.

Coconut Organics Cocobacon
(Estimated Retail: $6.00 for a 2 pack)
Verdict: No, absolutely no, in every language ever uttered in the history of ever
Now if you’re doing lowcarb you know that Coconut and Bacon are staples of the diet. I had my boyfriend try these first and his response was “they taste neither like bacon or coconut”. I got my courage up and I can only describe this as licking a shaker of “smoked” seasoning. Also those little coconut shards get stuck in your throat.

Crispy Green Crispy Fruit Cantaloupe

(Estimated Retail: $1.59 each)
Verdict: Like eating a rancid circus peanut
I love fruit so I thought I’d enjoy this but the freeze dried texture plus the fruit taste is just off putting. I’m not sure if any of the other fruit flavors would be better.

Chipotle Almonds
Nunes Farms Sweet Chipotle Almonds

(Estimated Retail: $2.08 each)
Verdict: Hit!
You can’t go wrong with Chipotle or Almonds.

Little Bread Hen Multigrain Flatbed Crackers

(Estimated Retail: $1.50 each)
Verdict: Nope
These had very little flavor.

Pork Rinds
Pork Clouds Fried Pork Skins Malabar Black Pepper

(Estimated Retail: $4.00)
Verdict: Miss
My boyfriend is the resident pork rinds expert and he deemed these “flavorless”.

Bakery on Main Gluten Free Granola Apple Raisin Walnut

(Estimated Retail: $1.25 each).”
Verdict: Hit!
Okay we all know gluten free stuff can sometimes be horrifying but this was absolutely delicious. I don’t have dietary restrictions and I’d gladly purchase this.

Cream Cheese
Copper Cowbell Cinnamon Cream Cheese

(Estimated Retail: $1.00 Each)
Verdict: Disappointing
I love cream cheese and cinnamon so I thought this would be a win, but it’s just not quite flavorful enough.

Bounce Natural Energy Ball Coconut & Macadamia Protein Bliss

(Estimated Retail: $2.16)
Verdict: Like
I thought these were a filling breakfast and tasted better than a lot of other protein type bars.

ThinkFruit Dried Fruit Snacks Pineapple Tidbits

(Estimated Retail: $1.41 each)
Verdict: Like
Dried fruit is always a good snack.

Cherry Cookie
Nothin But Granola Cookies Cherry Cranberry Almond

(Estimated Retail: $1.14).”
Verdict: Hit!
I love cherries and these were tasty.

Made Good Strawberry Organic Granola Minis

(Estimated Retail: $4.89 each)
Verdict: Hit!
Thankfully I like granola since we’ve gotten a lot of it in this box. These were tasty so no complaints.

Peanut Butter Cup
Unreal Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

(Estimated Retail: $1.50).”
Verdict: Opt for the Real Thing instead
These tasted like the imitation drug store peanut butter cups. Peanut butter cups should probably be a rare treat anyway so if you really want one, just spring for a Reese’s.

Oskri Crunchies Pecan & Raisins

(Estimated Retail: $1.50)
Verdict: Hit!
Pecans and raisins are always good

Purps Vita Home

This was a freebie so I’m not including it in the overall value.

Full Box

Most of the snacks were tasty and I love the variety of products. I couldn’t find a price on the fruit beverage and I had to do some creative calculating to estimate retail prices because some items are only available in multi-packs. Taking all that into consideration the total (excluding the drink) comes out to $52.07 which is at least a little more than the $49 pricetag.

What I really like about this box is that you get to try a lot of products you might not find otherwise and if you’re always trying to find healthy snacks for work (or kid’s lunches) it does the guess work for you. It also comes right to your house and saves you the time and effort of going the grocery or health food store. I’m definitely considering signing up for the “diet” box since healthy low cal snacks can be hard to come by and I love anything that helps me save time with grocery shopping.

Have you tried any healthy food boxes? What did you think?

UrthBox is the best way to discover healthy new foods, beverages, snacks and more for your home, the office or on-the-go every month. Enjoy up to 30 brand new full-sized products every month at up to $100 in retail value.

Cancel Any Time

Box Options:
Classic • Gluten-Free • Vegan • Diet

Monthly Cost: $9 For a Mini (4 – 5 Items)
$19 For a Small (8 – 10 Items)
$29 For a Medium (14 – 16 Items)
$49 For a Large (20 – 24 Items)
$199 For an Office Subscription (100+ Items – Serves 5 – 10 Employees)

Free Shipping to US; $6 International

There are also options for 3 Month and 6 Month Subscriptions.

Coupon Code: Use CRUNCHWEEK to get $10 off

Earn Points: Purchase more of what you love at member discounts. Plus earn big loyalty points for every purchase, redeemable at the UrthBox Shop.

Cancel Any Time

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