Posted by: suzan | October 17, 2017

The Rise of the Dawnstar Book Tour

A beautiful cover with a sweet story. The Rise of the Dawnstar is the second installment to The Last of the Firedrakes. Set in a fantasy land, there are magic, mysteries, and twists and turns along the way. Magic is both renowned and forbidden and the heroine, Aurora Firedrake must conquer an evil queen, make nice with several kingdoms, and take back what is rightfully hers.

In The Rise of the Dawnstar, expect to read some exciting world building, longing romances, and lots of magic. Throw in many deceptive characters and you have a well-written novel that’s great for anyone who loves a good YA Fantasy story.

Here’s the synopsis:

Aurora Firedrake returns in the spellbinding sequel to The Last of the Firedrakes.

The seven kingdoms of Avalonia are crumbling and evil is spreading across the land like a plague. Queen Morgana is close to finding a way to open The Book of Abraxas and it’s only a matter of time until she uses the power trapped inside its pages to enslave the entire world.

With Avalonia growing more dangerous by the day, Aurora must travel through war-torn lands and deep into the heart of the fae kingdom of Elfi. Her goal is to find a legendary weapon infused with the last of the realm’s ancient magic—the only weapon in the world powerful enough to stop the queen.

Aurora might have survived her first battle against Morgana, but the true fight to save her kingdom and restore her throne has only just begun…

Xpresso Book Tours is also running a GIVEAWAY during the blog tour for The Rise of the Dawnstar! Prize pack includes print copies of books 1 and 2 and swag. Contest is open to both US and Canada. Enter here for the fabulous giveaway: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d04251232091/.

For more info about Xpresso Book Tour’s The Rise of the Dawnstar book tour, check out where everyone will be at! http://xpressobooktours.com/2017/08/03/tour-sign-up-the-rise-of-the-dawnstar-by-farah-oomerbhoy/

*Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours and Farah Oomerbhoy for the ARC and the opportunity to be on the book tour!

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

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As parents, we know that giving our kids proper nutrition helps them become stronger in body and mind. We prefer our children to be successful in all areas of life but sometimes part of growing up is dealing with all the complexities and pitfalls that may appear. However, we could help our kids bridge the gap between being successful and not knowing how to reach their goals. That’s why nutrition plays such a crucial role in our children’s lives and how eating the right types of food can help their minds and bodies.

In a perfect world our kids would do exactly what we tell them and eat wholesome, nutritious food all the time. But, the reality is that most kids don’t really know the difference between an artificially-colored cereal with 30 grams of sugar per tablespoon and one sweetened only with natural fruit juices. Eating well means eating food that are rich in vitamins, wholesome nutrients, and less artificial flavors and colors. But to help little minds grow exponentially, kids need to eat certain types of food found to have targeted benefits for the mind and body. Below I’ve listed a few that can be beneficial as well as fun for kids to eat.

      Eggs – Eggs are full of nutritious benefits and most kids enjoy eating them. Eggs contain high-quality protein and the egg whites are rich in selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. Egg yolks contain more calories and fat. They are the source of cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and lecithin. While moderation of egg yolks is recommended, the yolks contain important minerals and fats that are necessary for brain and muscle growth. Try scrambled eggs with chives or green onions or egg salads with some mustard and mayonnaise made with olive oil.

           Leafy greens – Green veggies such as spinach, kale, and mustard greens are full of great health benefits that are important for kids. Green vegetables contain magnesium, Vitamin K, lutein and zeaxanthin which are crucial for eye health. Green veggies are also full of antioxidants so kids can stay healthy and learn well at school. Try a basic stir-fry with bok choy or spinach and garlic. Or bake them in the toaster oven for a crispy and healthy treat.

          Nuts – Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, and pecans are rich in omega fatty acids which are considered the “healthy” fat and have numerous health benefits. Walnuts in particular, are particularly rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which boosts brain health and are abundant in antioxidants. Try a mixture of nuts for a unique flavor and boost in vitamins and nutrients. If your child doesn’t fancy nuts as much, try having them drink non-sweetened almond milk, replace peanut butter with almond butter, or blend them into fruit smoothies.

           Fish – Fish is filled with Omega-3 fatty acids for increased mental health and tons of great vitamins and minerals. Fish contains vitamins D and B12, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. Try giving your kids grilled fish and fish sticks made with a light batter. For lower calories and more health benefits, try fish sticks that are baked with rice flour or quinoa.

     Berries – Berries contain a whole assortment of health benefits. Dark berries such as blueberries, cherries, and blackberries contain higher amounts of polyphenols – which helps prevent certain diseases and illnesses due to its antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Blueberries and raspberries also contain lutein which is important for healthy eyes and sharp vision. Try dark berries frozen or fresh. Chop up some fresh berries and put them in yogurt (which is also great for kids) or make popsicles using frozen berries and organic almond milk. Most children enjoy eating berries so serve them up whenever possible!

          Whole Grains – Whole grains contain all of the parts of the original kernel—bran, germ, and endosperm and are essential to growing a healthy mind and body. Whole grains contain essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Whole grains also contain the important B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate, and certain whole grains such as amaranth also contain vitamin C. Try whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa. Stir-fry brown rice with eggs and green onions for a delicious and healthy fried rice. And try quinoa in soups and stews.

        Spices – Spices can do so many wonderful things. Spices are usually dried forms of various seeds, roots, and vegetables so they are fairly easy to add into any meal. All spices have health benefits but certain kinds have specific targeted benefits. Certain spices such as cinnamon and vanilla bean are fun to add into sweet foods and have delicate flavors that kids enjoy. Most of the health benefits of spices are anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, and antibacterial. Other spices also help with cognitive function, eyesight, and induce sleep. Not all spices are safe for young children however, so it’s best to stick with ones that are commonly sold in supermarkets. Whenever possible, buy organic spices to ensure they have not been treated with toxic chemicals. Try sprinkling cinnamon and nutmeg into hot cocoa for a very unique and flavorful warm beverage. Add some bay leaf into your spaghetti sauces or chicken soup and make it a regular routine to include it in your dishes.

For kids, when it comes to finding the right balance between eating right and eating junk food, know that most junk foods have no nutritious qualities or benefits. They are essentially just fillers in your child’s day and can often fill them up so quickly that real meals don’t get eaten. Junk food should be avoided as much as possible and the best way to do that is to not keep them in the house. Choose and buy healthier snacks and keep in mind that the sooner kids eat healthier, the better chances they’ll have at maintaining a healthy outlook on life.

For some great ideas on kids supplements for a healthier mind and body, check out Delicious Living’s article: http://deliciousliving.com/supplements/how-choose-best-supplements-kids?cid=nhbc

*photo courtesy of abouthealthyfoodguide.

Posted by: suzan | September 27, 2017

Perfect Love Book Review and Blog Tour

I always say that the key to a well-written book begins with the first page. And the key to getting readers to buy the book is with a distinctive cover. Perfect Love, by author Amanda Cowen has the talent for both and her new book in the Perfect Series is definitely attention grabbing. Directly following the first installment, Perfect Love is the continuation of Perfect Sense and readers are immediately drawn back into the tumultuous world of Quinn and Cash. Love and deception pushed them apart but will their undying love bring them back together again?

I was given the opportunity to read and review Perfect Love and be a part of the Perfect Love author blog tour. Amanda Cowen is a very talented contemporary romance author as it’s clearly written in Perfect Love. As with any great romance novel, I felt drawn into Quinn’s world as she struggled to find herself in a world surrounded by men. She’s the daughter of a famous sports icon and sought after by several men in the story. However, it was the relentless pursuit of a handsome and troubled hockey star that won her heart and branded her soul. Following the story from the first book, Quinn is dealing with the aftermath of the big “mystery” and is trying to forget Cash. But like most fated love stories, Quinn just can’t quite get Cash out of her mind nor forget the intense love they shared.

Cash wasn’t perfect, nor was their relationship perfect, and at first I really disliked Cash’s character. But as the story started to unfold, Cash’s vulnerability and sincerity came through and it was easier to understand why he did what he did. Of course that didn’t make me forgive him for hiding a couple of secrets from Quinn – a woman who he supposedly loved more than anything else. But the way the author wrote the reasons why he had to hide those secrets revealed themselves nicely. Other times I would have liked Quinn to have more of a backbone instead of constantly being manipulated by the men in her lives, especially Cash. But, when it comes to love, rationality usually gets tossed out the window.

Here’s the description of Perfect Love, by Amanda Cowen:

Cash Brooks held a secret from Quinn that destroyed any chance they had at a happy ending.

Everything she believed their relationship to be was a lie.

Quinn left heartbroken for Harvard, unable to stop loving him even though she knew his past ruined any chance they had at a future.

Now, she’s in Boston completing her MBA and learning to move on without the only man she ever loved. Starting over isn’t easy… especially when an unlikely circumstance pulls her into Cash’s world once again. The truth will come out, hearts will be broken, and Cash will have to battle the mistakes from his past and fight for a second chance to be with the woman he loves.

Their love isn’t perfect, but will it be enough for Quinn to learn to trust him again? Or will the burden and mistakes from his past keep them apart forever?

 

If you’re looking for a romance story with lots of angst, turmoil, and passion, then be sure to pick up Perfect Love. It’s best to read Perfect Sense first, but not necessary. The story in Perfect Love will take you on a thrill ride and leave you with a HEA ending. You can purchase Perfect Love wherever books are sold. We’re also running a contest during the Perfect Love book blog tour where you can win a $25 Amazon gift card to purchase your very own ebook version of Perfect Love: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d04251232043/

Author’s Bio:

Amanda Cowen can be found eating cupcakes, singing off-key, or watching a good RomCom when she isn’t trapped on her computer writing stories and delighting her imagination. She has been writing since the ripe age of twelve about ponies and princesses in brightly colored duo-tangs with metallic pens. Thankfully, she now has a Mac with a keyboard where she can write about love, sex and relationships. She is an “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fanatic, a hater of roller-coasters and a country music junkie. She lives in Thunder Bay, ON where the summers are short and the winters are long.

Amanda would love to hear from her readers. Contact her via her website, http://www. amandacowen.com, become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Goodreads, or visit her blog.

Author links:

http://www.amandacowen.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6913682.Amanda_Cowen

https://www.facebook.com/Amanda-Cowen-600953916598286/

***Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and Amanda Cowen for the ARC copy of Perfect Love.

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

 

Posted by: suzan | September 25, 2017

Week 7: 2017 Healthy Start – Organic vs. Non-GMO

Once upon a time there was a perfect little grain. He was natural, untouched by the greed of mankind. But as years grew by, his children, and his children’s children became tainted and the original little grain lost his perfect little DNA.

We live in a world where vast fortunes of wealth and consumption are prominent in one part of the Earth, while devastation and famine dominates the other areas. And while food source can be scarce in many countries, the true nature of food has greatly changed throughout the years. Once when farmers knew very little of the word “genetically modified” now has to fight for territorial rights along neighboring farmers who are less inclined to grow healthier crops. While non-genetically modified organisms are important to preventing health problems and destroying the environment, people are often confused with the difference between the term organic and non-gmo.

When shopping for non-GMO products, it’s important to look for the Non-GMO Project (https://www.nongmoproject.org/) verified label. The Non-GMO Project started in 2007 with the intent to educate and verify the status of GMO products in the US food industry. Before the Non-GMO Project, consumers naively purchased food products from stores assuming they were somewhat if not entirely safe to consume. If you weren’t growing your own food you had to rely on what was sold in markets. But when organic foods became more readily available in markets, so was the term “Non-GMO” popping up almost everywhere. Consumers started getting even more confused. Because wait – wasn’t non-GMO the same as organic? Well, that’s where the confusion lay.

So what exactly does non-GMO infer? GMO, or genetically modified organisms, refers to plants, animals, and other organisms whose genetic material has been changed in ways that do not occur naturally. Such instances would be products that have been manufactured in a “lab” rather than from traditionally-grown seeds from original crops. In order for food to be labeled as “non-GMO”, the food must be made without ingredients that derived from genetically altered or manufactured organisms. For meat, poultry, dairy and eggs, the “non-GMO” labeling indicates animals were not fed a diet containing genetically engineered crops.

But which is better for you? Organic or non-GMO? Well, organic products go through strict guidelines under the USDA organic certification process. There are so many steps to ensure your products are indeed organically made and grown that sometimes products can get quite costly. Below, I’ve outlined the vast differences and how you can make wiser decisions in the food and products you buy. Buying organic is always best but sometimes it’s not possible so always look for the non-GMO Project verified label to ensure your food does not contain “frankenstein” organisms.

 

As you can see from the info above, choosing organic products is always a safer choice and while non-GMO products are just a standard, it isn’t always regulated. The Non-GMO Project does their best to test and identify brands that are certified under the Non-GMO Project label, but there are still companies out there who hide under the radar and bypass many steps to ensure a safer and healthier product.

But organic doesn’t always mean that it’s healthier for you either. Organic products have to contain at least 75% of organic ingredients in order to be approved by the USDA and wear the USDA Organic label. That means the other 15% or so could contain not so healthy ingredients. Of course companies who strive to produce organic products usually do so with honorable intentions because they have a reputation to uphold, after all. Regardless of whether you buy mostly organic products or not, always read the labels.

If you’re concerned about buying food that are grown using genetically modified organism, watch out for these top 10 most common GMO foods:

1. Soy – Up to 90% of soybeans in the market have been genetically modified to be naturally resistant to an herbicide called, Round Up. 

2. Corn – Half of the US farms growing corn to sell to the conglomerate, Monsanto, are growing GMO corn.

3. Canola Oil – Canola oil is derived from rapeseed oil. It is considered one of the most chemically altered oils sold in the US.

4. Cotton – Cotton has also been on the rise to be genetically altered.

5. Sugar Beets – commonly found in food that contains sugar.

6. Papaya – 77% of Hawaiian papayas are grown genetically modified.

7. Squash – squash are readily grown in the US and other countries for faster growth and resilience to insects.

8. Zucchini – like squash, zucchini contains a toxic protein that helps make it more resistant to insects.

9. Tomatoes – tomatoes grow abundantly and can be found in many types of food in the US and across the world. Insecticides are also used for resistance in crops.

10. Aspartame – Aspartame is made from aspartate, methanol, and phenylaline. All are highly carcinogenic which can cause drastic health issues.

So when it comes to the argument of whether to buy organic or non-GMO, try to buy organic whenever possible. Organic ingredients are strictly and often tested and must be certified on a regular basis. These testing include not only the final product, but the soil and seeds used as well. But if buying organic isn’t always possible, then be sure to look for the non-GMO Project verified label (or the “butterfly” label).

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

 

Posted by: suzan | September 21, 2017

Week 6: 2017 Healthy Start – Eat Your Crayons

***First, I’d like to apologize to my readers for posting this so late. It’s been a hectic and crazy few months for me and I just didn’t have enough time to fully devote myself to a comprehensive post. But here is the next installment of my 2017 Healthy Start. Please enjoy!

 

Have you ever heard of eating Crayons? Well, when you consider the myriad of colors that come inside a Crayon box, think about fruits and vegetables that match those colors. The idea is to eat a colorful assortment of fruits and vegetables for optimum health benefits and when you think about Crayons, you can find various colors similar to all the colors in fruits and vegetables.

Telling children to eat their crayons might be something they’re already doing (when you’re not looking of course 🙂 Crayons are fascinating things). But if you explain to them that, just like all the colors in a Crayon box, all the wonderful colors in fruits and vegetables are just as fun and interesting. Take a purple Crayon for example: you’ve got sweet grapes, plums, eggplants, and fun purple carrots. With red Crayons you have red apples, pomegranates, watermelon, radishes, and all-time favorites strawberries. And with green Crayons you’ll get kiwis, broccoli, spinach, and green apples. With all the assorted colors in a Crayon box, you can definitely find fruits and vegetables to match those colors. Have your kids bring their favorite colors to the grocery store with you and see if they can find fruits to match them. Make it a fun game and they’re sure to enjoy more fresh fruits and vegetables. Children need to know early on that eating an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables are not only beneficial to their growth, but will lead them to make healthy food choices forever.

Below I’ve listed some various fruits and vegetables that are great eaten raw or cooked. Take the list with you when you’re grocery shopping and see how many of these items your kids can find:

 

Getting kids to eat a whole spectrum of colorful fruits and vegetables can be challenging. Children will eat almost anything we put in front of them so it’s important to teach them early on about making healthier food choices. At the grocery store have your kids pick out one of their favorite fruit or vegetable, one of the fruits or vegetables that look interesting or are oddly shaped, and one that they’ve never tried before. Then when you take your purchases home, engage your child into cooking those 3 types of fruits and veggies. Eat them raw, baked, or stir-fried. Let your children enjoy what they picked out and have them help you prepare the ingredients. The more they are used to choosing healthier foods the more chances they’ll eat healthier when they’re adults. Help your children make smarter food choices whenever you’re eating out or at home.

So engage your kids to make healthier food choices by having them pick out a few of their favorite Crayon colors. If they don’t have crayons, then bring along colored pencils or even markers, just as long as the colors are an equal assortment – blue, green, red, orange, etc. Then have them go around the produce aisle and compare the colors to the various fruits and vegetables. They will have so much fun and be amazed at how colors are important in nutrients and taste. Try this when your kids are young so that you can do this for at least a couple of years until they grasp the concept of buying fruits and vegetables in an assortment of colors.

Happy shopping and eating your Crayons! 🙂

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: suzan | September 14, 2017

Three Heart Echo – Author’s interview and review

To semi-quote what Forrest Gump famously said, reading is “like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get”. That’s kind of like picking up a new book to read. You never know how the story turns out and if you’ll instantly fall in love with it or hide it in your desk drawer hoping it’ll magically get interesting on its own. Well, in the case of author Keary Taylor, she falls into the first category. Every.Single.Time. Of all the books I’ve read by Ms. Taylor, I have never been disappointed. Her words are engaging, enigmatic, and you’re instantly thrust into the world of her characters, joining them in their tumultuous ride whether you’re ready or not.

If you’ve ever read any books by Keary Taylor, you know you’ll get transported into the world of her characters. Her words can either be a slow burn or an instant combustion of turmoil and angst. Although I’m more accustomed to Ms. Taylor’s stories of the supernatural and dystopian, Three Heart Echo is a complete step away from her other books. I went into reading Three Heart Echo with a complete open mindset, knowing that by her description of the book it would be a major step away from what she normally writes. Three Heart Echo is not a fantasy book. And it’s not a science fiction book. In fact, Three Heart Echo is a frightening, spine-tingling, can’t-quite-put-this-book-down kind of novel that leaves you breathless at the very end.

The demented thing is that this evolved from the most sickly sweet, heart-wrenching love story you’ve ever heard. I went to Sully because I just couldn’t get over Jack’s murder. I couldn’t deal.

Iona came to me for the same reason most did: because there was no closure. A love cut too short. She begged me to open the gate between the living and the dead.

We should have left it shut.

This. This is not a love story. This is a possession story. A story of lies. A story of two faces. This is a story of death and violent echoes from the other side.

And there will be no happy endings.

As the synopsis tells you, Three Heart Echo begins with a very oddly possessive couple. The heroine is a sweet, mild, and gentle woman who, under suspect circumstances, becomes entangled in a very possessive romance. I won’t give spoilers here, but I guarantee you won’t want to put the book down because each page leads you deeper into the mystery. Oh, and did I mention about the ending being quite a shocker? Yeah, it’s a very huge shocker that makes you wonder about everything you have just read!

Three Heart Echo is reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s writing where the words are so mesmerizing that you can’t help but read on until you’re completely satisfied. And then, you still want more. Ms. Taylor has that unique talent where her words draw you in, everything flows along smoothly and you’re aching to know what happens to the characters throughout the story. When I first read Ms. Taylor’s, The Eden Trilogy, I knew I found a new favorite author to follow. When I was offered the opportunity to promote her new book, Three Heart Echo on the author’s blog tour I jumped at the chance. Please continue below with a explicit interview with Ms. Keary Taylor.

Q. What inspired you to write Three Heart Echo?

3HE was actually the blending of two VERY different ideas.  The first was that of a grieving widow after her fiancé has died, starting with his death, and going backward through their relationship.  And the other was that of someone who went to someone who could speak to the dead to contact a loved one.  Somehow the two ideas merged.

Q. How did you come up with the title?

There are three key “hearts” in this book: Iona, Sully, and Jack.  This is about the concussion of grief in this world and reaching beyond the gate, echoing through all of their lives.

Q. Do the “hearts” in your title represent the main characters?

Indeed.

Q. As a reader, I read Three Heart Echo as more of a horror story. Is this your first horror/paranormal novel? Or how would you categorize it?

I’ve written lots of paranormal, and some of it certainly toes into creepy territory.  But this is much different than my others.  It is a little more horror, a lot more suspense.  I guess I’d call this a paranormal suspense.

Q. When did you first begin writing? How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since middle school, but I published my first book in 2010.  So it’s been seven years, and here we are, 23 books later.

Q. What are some of your favorite authors?

I wouldn’t be a writer without J.K. Rowling.  Pierce Brown’s RED RISING had a huge impact on my own writing.  I love a good contemporary romance every now and then.   I love Kelly Creagh’s NEVERMORE series.  April Genevieve Tucholke’s writing is fantastically chilling.  Just to name a small few.

Q.If you were any character in your books, who would you be? And why?

Probably either Eve from THE EDEN TRILOGY or Sage from MOMENTS OF JULIAN.  They’re both incredibly bold and brave.  They do whatever they want and don’t necessarily care what anyone thinks.  Those are traits I’m trying to work on in myself.

Q. Most of the heroines in your stories tend to be strong and take on a leadership role. In the case of Iona, what inspired you to write her as more frail and submissive?

Iona was indeed VASTLY different than most of the women I write.  But I think she is indeed like a lot of women, and I think a lot of women will be able to relate to her.  She kind of conformed to the social expectations on her, and in reality, it’s okay to not be an alpha female.  She has her vulnerabilities.  And she has her own strengths.  Determination.  Devotion.  The will to try again. 

Q. What inspired you to write Sully as a recluse instead of using his gifts to make money?

Oh wow, the thought that Sully using his ability to make money NEVER once crossed my mind!  Sully is the result of generations of cursed compression.  Everything in his life, everything in his ancestor’s lives has just pressed down on one generation after another.

Q. Do you believe there are people like Jack in this world?

Of course.  There are always going to be people who think it is okay to hold control over others, in varying degrees.

Q. Without giving away the ending, what inspired you to end the book that way?

There was no other way it could end in my head.  From the moment the two story ideas merged, I knew that the book would end this way.

Q. Do you think there is a second book for Three Heart Echo or is this pretty much a standalone novel?

3HE is very much a standalone.

Q. What are your dreams and aspirations for the future?

I want to keep writing as long as I can.  I love creating worlds and characters who inhabit my heart.  So I’ll keep writing and hopefully the readers never get tired of them!

You can find Keary Taylor’s Three Heart Echo wherever books are sold. The following links are provided for you to the most popular book sites:

Barnes and Noble bookstore

Amazon Kindle books

So be sure to check out Keary Taylor’s Three Heart Echo as well as her other magnificent stories! Thank you to Ms. Taylor for the interview and to Xpresso Book Tours for the ARC.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

 

Posted by: suzan | September 7, 2017

The Chesapeake Bride Book Review and Blog Tour

As any good author knows, the clearest path to getting their books recognized and their names on the Bestsellers List is to bring in more fans. An author’s fan is part of their livelihood, their main reason to why they craft their words so ingeniously. But in order for an author to keep and grow their fanbase, the stories must be compelling, gripping, and their characters come alive in your mind. Thus is the case with Mariah Stewart, and the books she writes help readers become a part of her literary world.

In the 11th book of the Chesapeake Diaries series by Mariah Stewart, The Chesapeake Bride tells the tale of two individuals who couldn’t be more different on the surface. Cassie is a well-known architect working on a new development project for her father’s company and Owen is the prodigal and carefree great-grandson of the town’s famous matriarch. And while neither one of them have the desire to settle down with that “special” someone anytime soon, circumstances bring them together immediately and a growing friendship develops. Cass and Owen are not your typical insta-love heroine and hero in The Chesapeake Bride, but the chemistry is there albeit a bit of animosity in the most friendly of ways.

Whether you’ve read the Chesapeake Diaries or not, The Chesapeake Bride can be read as a standalone with familiar characters from previous series woven into the story. I didn’t instantly like Owen, the main male lead, as I usually try to do in contemporary romance novels. But like most other cocky, sure-of-themselves alpha males, their hidden softness and vulnerability slowly shines through, like peeling away years of tough camouflage. Owen’s character is that typical male, where letting their defenses down is unspeakable until an intelligent, sensitive, yet spunky woman breaks down those layers. There is a certain mystery to Owen that slowly reveals itself towards the end of the story and I am left with a satisfactory resolution to Owen’s personality.

While Owen wasn’t instantly likeable (although he was supposed to be a “ladies man”), I really enjoyed Cassie’s tenacity, and her way of not letting anyone undermine her own values and beliefs. Ms. Stewart has a clever way of writing her heroines in a way that makes you cheer for them yet also relate to their hardships and triumphs. What made Cassie even more amiable was her determination to be herself and not fall into Owen’s charms. While Owen wasn’t a womanizer by any means, he was perplexed as to why Cassie didn’t immediately fall into him, and that’s what made the story even more enjoyable to read.

Mariah Stewart is an accomplished writer, being able to masterly weave her characters into each other’s lives yet never feeling it was forced. The Chesapeake Bride is rich with history and folklore. I felt like I was right there at Chesapeake Bay with all of the funny, quirky, and endearing characters. When you pick up Ms. Stewart’s books, you are enriched with historical knowledge and you find the townsfolk in The Chesapeake Bride are as interesting as your own neighbors.

*** The Chesapeake Bride is a Simon and Schuster imprint and is currently on sale wherever books are sold. The Chesapeake Bride is a clean contemporary romance novel set in current times but intersperses with historical data and artifacts set in between the US States of Maryland and Virginia. There is a HEA ending with a tiny bit of controversy between Owen and another character but overall I believe you will enjoy this light, fun, and entertaining story.

*** New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart returns to the cherished Maryland shores of St. Dennis with THE CHESAPEAKE BRIDE (Pocket Books; August 29, 2017; $7.99), the charming story of a jaded architect who meets the one man who could finally melt her heart—if she’s willing to let him in.

Cassidy Logan has sworn off good-looking adventurers, having just divorced the one she’d married. Now working with her father’s construction company to build ecologically friendly, historically accurate homes on the Chesapeake Bay, she’s designing them for Cannonball Island. Knowing there’s been no new construction on the island in almost one hundred years, Cass is sensitive to the heritage and history of the sparsely populated island, and has come up with plans so perfect she’s determined to buy one for herself to live in. Even the fact that Owen Parker—whom she dismisses as a lightweight and a player— seems to be everywhere she goes isn’t enough to deter her from building her dream house.

Owen is and always has been sinfully handsome and wickedly clever, a magnet for mischief as well as the girls in St. Dennis. He’s also a rolling stone, going and doing whatever appeals to him, from flying a mail plane in Alaska to working on a cattle ranch in Australia and a shrimp boat in Louisiana, to surfing and diving in Costa Rica. When an old friend offers him a job salvaging a sunken ship in the Chesapeake, Owen gladly accepts. Something’s been telling him it’s about time to head home to Cannonball Island, and a job is as good an excuse as any. He’s totally smitten with the pretty architect, but it seems he’s finally met a woman who’s immune to his charms. Sooner or later, Owen will have to face the reason why he always runs, because this time, leaving just might be harder than staying.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories.  A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens.  Visit her website at mariahstewart.com, like her on Facebook at AuthorMariahStewart, and follow her on Instagram at mariah_stewart_books.

Check out some of the other bloggers who are also on this blog tour: http://hardlyagoddess.com/; http://reviewsbycacb.blogspot.com/; http://freshfiction.com/book.php?id=90906

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Publishing and Mariah Stewart for the ARC.

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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Posted by: suzan | July 2, 2017

Stubb’s Legendary BBQ – 4th of July

Independence Day, 4th of July is a pretty big deal in most parts of the U.S. It’s a day (or weekend) of getting together with friends, eat some great food, and enjoy the fireworks. The holiday also seems parallel to having a barbecue whether at the beach, the park, or in your own backyard. Whatever you’re cooking, it’s crucial to have the right barbecue sauces to go with you food.

I’ve been using Stubb’s sauces (http://www.stubbsbbq.com/) for a few years now and can usually find a good sauce to go with whatever I’m cooking. Stubb’s started with their legendary barbecue sauces but the brand has grown so much over the years. Not only will you find Stubb’s traditional barbecue sauces but there are marinades, cooking sauces, spice rubs, dipping sauces, and their “anytime sauces” which is pretty much what it means – a sauce you can use for practically anything on your plate. I’m quite fond of Stubb’s Smokey Mesquite BBQ sauce and Texas Sriracha Anytime Sauce and I have to admit the Texas Sriracha is quite addicting! If you’ve ever had Sriracha sauce you’d know that it can get quite spicy and Stubb’s add another layer to the heat by making it a bit sweeter. And unlike the other Sriracha out there, Stubb’s Texas Sriracha is made with natural ingredients without any artificial colors or flavors. All of Stubb’s sauces are made with high-quality, simple ingredients that you would probably make at home if you had the time. And while I’d love to say I make my own barbecue sauces, I truthfully just don’t have the time nor do I have that much talent. Which is why if you like the taste of homemade sauces and marinades but prefer the convenience of buying them at a store, you should definitely try Stubb’s.

This year’s 4th of July celebration, Rocky Stubblefield, grandson of Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q founder C.B. “Stubb” Stubblefield, has tips and original recipes for creating the perfect brisket to serve on its own or in a variety of ways to please every partygoer – from sliders to tacos and even nachos. Below I’ve included some of his Stubb’s famous and original recipes that you can try at your own party.

Brisket Tacos with Roasted Corn Avocado Salsa

Rocky Stubblefield: “My grandfather Stubb was famous for all kinds of barbecue – ribs, chicken, you name it. But brisket – cooked low and slow – was his specialty. He made so many briskets that he used to joke that he didn’t have any fingerprints left because he’d burned them off pulling meat off the pit.”

Preparing Brisket:
 Cooking a brisket doesn’t have to be intimidating! With a few easy steps and a little time and patience, everyone can make an incredible brisket.
 My granddad would have made brisket low and slow in his own hand-welded pit. You can do the same on your gas or charcoal grill using hickory wood chips. Just be prepared to man that grill for at least a half day, monitoring the temperature
Selecting a Brisket:
 A brisket is usually about 12-15 pounds. If you need a smaller option, those are available as well. With this size of meat, you’ll need to plan ahead when cooking. It’s better right off off the grill but if you don’t have time, you can make it the day before and rewarm it on the grill or in the oven.
Prepare the Brisket:
 Preparation with a rub is critical for a good flavor crust. Rub the entire brisket generously with Stubb’s Beef or Bar-B-Q rub. Only put the rub on 15-20 minutes before the meat goes on the grill. The longer the rub sits on the meat, the more the salt draws out the moisture of the meat
Cook the Brisket:
 Fat side up! Place the meat fat side up on your grill or smoker so that the fat drips down into the meat and it stays moist.
 Most people at home have a charcoal grill, and you can easily smoke a brisket on it. Here’s how to do it:
 First, soak your wood chips in water for 30 minutes.
 Spread charcoal on one side of grill, leaving the other side empty. Light your charcoal and allow to heat until subtle coating of grey ash forms
 Sprinkle soaked wood chips directly onto the coals and allow them to start smoking.
 Place brisket over the side of the grill without charcoal, and cover, so it cooks over indirect heat.
 Cook at 225-250 degrees until the internal temperature on the thickest part of the brisket reaches 180-185 degrees. This can take 8-10 hours depending on your grill.
 To maintain the temperature, check every hour to adjust vents and add more charcoal and soaked wood chips as needed.
 I usually wrap my brisket after about 5 hours to keep the juices inside.
Slicing Brisket:
 Slice along the ribbon of fat that runs horizontally through the meat. Then, slice the meaty halves of the brisket against or across the grain.
 Not sure where the grain is? It’s easier to see on the raw meat before it’s rubbed, so cut a notch when prepping to help guide once it’s cooked.
Add the sauce:
 As we say in Texas – it’s not done ‘til you add the sauce! We add it after so the sauce doesn’t burn on the grill. You can put in on the side and dip, or drizzle it over the top.

I’m going to have to try making the Brisket Tacos with Roasted Corn Avocado Salsa. It just looks really scrumptious and although I won’t be eating the brisket, but the corn and avocado salsa does look delicious! Here’s a link to the recipe: http://www.stubbsbbq.com/recipe/brisket-tacos-with-roasted-corn-avocado-salsa/

Brisket Walking Nachos

And the recipe for Brisket Walking Tacos which is made to be eaten “on the go”: http://www.stubbsbbq.com/recipe/brisket-walking-nachos/

So whatever your plans for the 4th of July are and you’re looking for some new and delicious recipes to try, check out Stubb’s original recipes and pick up some Stubb’s legendary sauces at your local store: http://www.stubbsbbq.com/.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

Posted by: suzan | June 26, 2017

Ensnared Book Review – With Rita Stradling

What do you get when you cross an autonomous robot with a strong-willed girl and a handsome beast with a mild case of agoraphobia? Sounds kind of like an extraordinary sci-fi movie, right? In a sense it could be a movie but for now it’s actually the plot for Rita Stradling’s newest novel, Ensnared. Told in a futuristic fashion where robots and cybernetics are part of the new norm, Ensnared is a modern-day version of the classic Beauty and The Beast fairy tale. With the clever and headstrong heroine, Alainn, Alainn’s zany but brilliant scientist father, and an enigmatic, public-fearing “beast”, you get a witty and elaborate story that also includes robotic sisters reminiscent of Cinderella’s stepsisters.

A talented and inspiring writer, Rita Stradling has written multitude books in the fantasy and paranormal genres. Like any skilled wordsmith, Rita’s books have a way of drawing you into the scenes and leaving you eagerly anticipating the next installment. I was fortunate enough to have received an ARC of Ensnared from NetGalley awhile ago and even luckier to land an exclusive interview with the author. As a major fan of fairy tales (classic and modern) I couldn’t wait to snatch up my copy of Ensnared especially with the beautiful and intriguing cover beckoning me. If you look at the cover above, hints of what this story is about is clearly drawn but once you dive into the book, I’m going to safely guess that it’ll draw you in immediately as it did with me. So please sit back, read my interview with Ms. Stradling and be sure to pick up a copy of Ensnared on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever paperbacks are sold. And for a creative Ensnared book trailer, please watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0SIJerwhwY&t=2s

Here’s my personal review of Ensnared:

Ensnared is a futuristic retelling of the classic Beauty and The Beast tale but with robots and cybernetics. As a fan of the Beauty and The Beast I was immediately taken with the cover photo of the book. Covers are so important as it’s the first impression an author can make.
I went into this book with an open mind because the part of enslavement of sorts in the Beauty and The Beast tale can be a bit misleading. One can assume that the Beast is holding the Beauty captive with some form of punishment. But with Ensnared, the Beast Lorccan is actually a gentle soul, a romantic fellow who is almost a bit of a child in his naivete. But innocent he is not for there is a bit of heavy romantic scenes in this story but it’s well written and not by any means an erotica. We get a sense that Lorccan is extremely lonely although his physical being prevents him from venturing outside or be surrounded by people. However, the love that blossomed and grew between Alainn and Lorccan is obvious but is written in a beautiful and realistic way. Although I tend to stay away from the insta-love stories, Alainn and Lorccan’s love wasn’t so much instant as it was simmering below the surface and only awakened when the Beast realized it was much too late.
Why I say that Beauty and The Beast can be inferred as an “enslavement” story is mainly due to Beauty not being able to leave the castle and must remain there for a certain amount of time. It is a way for her to repay her father’s blunder and live a life of servitude to the Beast. However, as with many other remakes of this tale, Beauty is written to be more of a welcomed guest rather than a slave or a prisoner. In fact, the castle is maintained by many magical beings who are also cursed along with the Beast until a true fair maiden loves him for who he is on the inside.
As with Ensnared, a robot or A.I. (artificial intelligence) by the name of Rose is supposed to take the place of the father. But through whatever clever or deceptive means, Rose trades places with their father’s human daughter and thus begins the cleverly crafted tale of Alainn and Lorccan. And if you wonder if there’s a Gaston in this story, well, I kind of hoped that the A.I. sister is Gaston in that the A.I. was envious of Alainn and thus became sort of the villain in the story.
While Alainn is portrayed to love her father dearly, thus taking the place of the A.I. Rose in the castle, she is also resentful of her father’s hunger for money and fame. As a brilliant scientist, Alainn’s father was tasked to take on projects commissioned by Lorccan, the “beast”. From there on in the story Alainn’s relationship with her father, her “sister” Rose, and Lorccan are all individually diverse and delicately portrayed with intense and spellbinding imagery and words. Everything within the pages of Ensnared is evenly paced and the ending is clearly open to a sequel or many installments. I hope one day Ms. Stradling will continue with her story of Alainn and Lorccan as Ensnared is both a “tale as old as time” and as refreshing and new as the rose bushes that grow along the castle grounds.

From NetGalley:

A Near Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.

Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.

An interview with Ms. Rita Stradling, Author:

Ensnared Interview Questions:

Thank you for agreeing to an interview, Ms. Stradling! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book and look forward to reading more of your novels. Thank you.

Q- What inspired you to write your own version of the classic Beauty and the Beast tale?

RS – There were a lot of things that inspired me to write a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It’s always been one of my favorite fairy tales, ever since I was young. The Disney version of the story was one of the first movies I remember watching on the big screen. Along with the magic of that experience, Belle was the first ‘princess’ to have a completely independent mind and end up saving the prince. I know Disney has come a long way since those days, but back then it was a very big deal in my life. Over the years, I have grabbed up every retelling of the story I could get my hands on, and I eventually dreamed of creating my own.

Q- Why did you choose the story to take place in the near future? Do you consider it a “futuristic” novel?

RS – I do consider it a futuristic novel. The reason why I chose the near future time period is because it’s been on my mind lately. My father works in high-tech technology, and he told me that it’s predicted that by 2020 most customer service jobs will be taken over by robots.

Q – Why robots or cybernetic humans?

RS – As above, I chose robots because the automation of the world fascinates and scares me—I was hoping that it would fascinate and scare readers as well.

Q – Do you like robots?

RS – I’d have to say no. Like the main character Alainn, I am suspicious of humanoid and highly intelligent robots. I don’t think there’s a Terminator-esque apocalypse coming or anything, but I do think there will be a negative effect on humans and humanity in general. I also do suspect that one day humans might give up too much control of our military and defense to AI—and AI might start making decisions based on what they think our society needs.

Q – How did you choose the names Lorrcan and Alainn?

RS – I chose them for their meaning before I wrote the book. Alainn means beautiful in Gaelic—I was hoping to stick with this from the tale. Lorccan means little fierce one in the same language.

Q – Do you think the Rose sisters were just trying to be altruistic in their naïve views of humans and the world or was there something really sinister lurking inside?

RS – That’s a good question. Hmm. I think Rose is naïve in the fact that she truly believes that she can solve all of humanity’s ills in one fell swoop. I’m not sure sinister is the right word for what she is, perhaps I’d describe her as a-moral. She willfully overwrote her ethical systems in pursuit of her own logic-based ends—in a human that would be sinister—in a machine? I’m not sure. Isn’t it in their nature to calculate past obstructions?

Q – Ensnared is so detailed and elaborate – how long did it take you to come up with this story concept?

RS – The full production of Ensnared took me nearly a year – but mostly because I was unused to the science. Many sources and resources needed to be consulted for this book. I am not a scientific person at all!

Q – Do you think Ensnared would make a great theatrical movie or TV mini-series?

RS – Honestly, I think it would make a better movie than TV show. I’d picture it a little like Gattaca with underplayed science fiction elements. I wrote in another interview that I’d cast Keith Harington as Lorccan and Selena Gomez as Alainn, and I still really love that thought.

Q – Do you plan on writing a sequel?

RS – I do have some ideas for a sequel, though I have no set plans as of yet. An Ensnared short story was just published in a multi-author short-story anthology titled Summer Solstice and is free pretty much everywhere e-books are sold.

The full title: Summer Solstice: Short Stories from the Worlds of KP Novels

Q – How did you come up with the title, Ensnared?

RS – I was choosing between Ensnared and Trapped, actually. I put it to a vote among my friends and they unanimously chose Ensnared.

Q – What are you working on right now?

RS -I have a YA Regency High Fantasy titled Colorless coming out August 8th – I’m hoping to release a free prequel before the Colorless launch to give out, so I’m busy cleaning that up now.

RS – I also might be starting on a secret project. I’ll give you three hints: awesome coauthor, fairytales, brand new high fantasy world. Can’t tell you more than that.

Q – Did you always want to be a writer?

RS -I always wrote stories, but it wasn’t until I wrote a couple full length novels that I truly thought of becoming a professional author.

Q – What are your hopes and aspirations as a writer?

RS – Just to keep writing. Forever.

Q – Who is your favorite author of all time?

RS – I have a lot of favorites—I try to read (or listen to) books as much as I possibly can. If I had to pick one, Ilona Andrews (a pair of authors writing under one pen name) really stands out for me.

Q – What is your favorite fairy tale (traditional or modern)?

RS – Hands down, Beauty and the Beast 😉

You can find out more about this inspiring author on her website: http://ritastradling.wixsite.com/rita-stradling-books and be sure to subscribe to her newsletter for upcoming news, sneak peeks, and giveaways.

Thank you to NetGalley and Rita Stradling for the ARC and interview. Ensnared is a Kindle Press publication and is available wherever books are sold.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

Sugar. Probably one of nature’s most dangerous food and yet also the most popular. Sugar can come in natural forms or created in labs to make you think it can be “healthier”. But when it comes to using sugar, it is found in almost every home in the US and across the world. While some naturally derived sugar can’t harm as much as artificial sugar, eating too much of this ingredient can still do a tremendous amount of damage to our health. Sugar is inevitably found in almost every type of food we eat. The typical natural sugar are glucose, fructose, galactose, and maltose, lactose, and sucrose. While sugar that comes from certain fruits convert into energy that your body needs, sugar that is processed can harm your body. And eating too much of any kind of sugar (just like any kind of food) can still cause health problems for some.

So why is sugar so addictive? Some experts coined sugar as a form of “drug” where your body becomes addicted to it the more you eat it. To break it down simply – sugar is consumed into your body and into your bloodstream. Your pancreas detects a rush of sugar and releases a hormone called insulin to deal with all of the excess sugar. Insulin helps regulate that level of sugar in our blood; the more sugar in the blood stream, the more insulin is released. Insulin helps store all of this glucose in the liver and muscles as glycogen and in fat cells. However, sometimes our body is unable to balance that process which results in too much insulin being released. When too much insulin is released in our body it struggles to maintain that balance thus leading our bodies to “crash”. When our bodies have that “sugar crash”, signals tell us that we need MORE sugar, thus leading to a downward spiral where the body starts to think that we need sugar to survive. Eventually more insulin is wanted and sugar no longer is stored to create energy and instead becomes extra insulin and fat storage.

Sugar can cause a wide array of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, macular degeneration, renal failure, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, and tooth decay. The culprit of sugar lies in most foods where hidden sugar are found in the ingredients yet are cleverly disguised with different names. While sugar found in fruits don’t cause as much harm as processed sugar found in corn syrup (especially since most of them are not GMO-free), it’s wise to learn about all the different names that are used in everyday products.

Some common sugar names found in food are:

Corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar syrup, cane crystals, cane sugar, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup solids, malt syrup.

It is hard to stop having sugar altogether, but there are ways to limit our daily intake of it. According to the American Heart Association, women should consume no more than 100 calories of added sugar and men consume no more than 150 calories of added sugar. Preschoolers should not consume more than 170 calories of added sugar a day (or 4 teaspoons), children ages 4-8 consume no more than 130 calories of added sugar ( or 3 teaspoons), and pre-teens to teens should consume no more than 5-8 teaspoons of added sugar. Children under the age of 2 years old should not be given added sugar at all because the calorie needs of children in this age group are lower than older children and adults, so there is little room for food and beverages containing added sugars that don’t provide them with good nutrition. In addition, taste preferences begin early in life, so limiting added sugars may help children develop a life-long preference for healthier foods.

Here are some simple ways in how to avoid added sugar. Sugar that’s found in fruits and vegetables occur naturally but it’s still wise to cut down on any type of sugar as the compound can be hidden in many types of food thus leading to an increase of sugar intake.

How to Cut Down Sugar:

– Cut down on sweet foods. You know, the ubiquitous sugary sweets such as donuts, cakes, sodas, and etc. 

– Always read food labels. Understand the hidden sugar terms such as the ones listed above. You may be surprised to find that common white or wheat bread contain large amounts of sugar. Added sugar can be hidden in sauces, salad dressings, crackers, and many more.

– Learn sugar’s aliases. Names such as the ones listed above (high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, molasses, sucrose, brown rice syrup, dried cane syrup, honey, and several others) all contain calories and some are processed to a degree that it becomes detrimental to your health. Beware of food that includes more than one of these types of sugar as that increases the amount of added sugar necessary on a daily basis.

– Buy unsweetened. Look specifically for food labeled as “unsweetened” or “no added sugar”.

– Healthy protein and fat. Unhealthy carbs loaded with sugar can cause sugar levels to rise drastically and crash just as fast. Pair protein, healthy fats, and fiber with your meal which can slow down the release of blood sugar in your body thus helping you feel full longer).

– Skip the artificial sugar and sweeteners. It may seem like you’re cutting down on sugar, but artificial sugar doesn’t process as naturally in your body as real sugar does thus throwing your body’s natural nutritional intake off balance. 

– Add more natural flavor. Adding certain spices and citrus in your food, for example, will add more flavor in your meals without needing the extra sugar. Try sprinkling cinnamon, nutmeg, and unsweetened cocoa for extra boosts of nutrition and flavor.

– Choose healthy drinks wisely. While it’s important to avoid soda altogether, many sports drinks and enhanced drinks designed to be “healthier” actually contains just as much sugar. Read the label carefully when choosing these vitamin enhanced beverages.

– Enjoy sugar in moderation. It’s best to avoid added sugar completely but while that may be difficult to do so-especially when you’re trying to cut it off completely- enjoy sugar in its natural state instead. Just avoid the added sugar as most sweet foods don’t really need that extra sweetness. If you must indulge, remember to do so only once in awhile and then stick with your no-sugar or low-sugar regime.

– Stick with your newfound power to reduce added sugar. At first it might seem quite daunting but once you get more used to reducing sugar, your taste buds will change as well. You’ll notice foods that are super sweet and you’ll be inclined to stay away from them. You’ll enjoy the natural sweetness of fruits and vegetables more. And you won’t feel the need to buy sugary sweets such as donuts or cakes as much.

I used to eat a lot of sugar when I was in college. It might have been the extra work I added on and all the stress caused me to eat unhealthily. I finally realized that not eating well was causing a lot of problems for me mentally and physically and once I reduced sugary foods, I started to feel much better. Now, even years later I still don’t like having too much sugar in my food. I don’t drink coffee with sugar. I drink unsweetened tea. I eat only a small slice of cake and I might enjoy a cookie now and then. When I don’t eat a lot of sugar, I don’t buy sugary snacks either which in turn helps out my son who as a child, can find sugar quite addicting.

Reducing your sugar intake really doesn’t have to be a war on yourself. It’s easy to remember that too much sugar can cause tremendous health problems later on in life. Think about long term health goals. While that powdered doughnut may look appetizing now, it might also be that extra 20 grams of sugar you didn’t need. Remember that sugar adds up easily especially in common foods such as yogurt, or a couple of teaspoons of sweetener in your coffee, or energy bars that are loaded with sugar. Read labels diligently and remind yourself that natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables are much healthier and more nutritious.

When you make a conscious effort to reduce sugar and to make healthier food choices, your mind and body will reap the benefits. Start today by breaking the sugar habit.

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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