#BarDiscovery : The Perfect Bar

I have been working on checking out a variety of different protein bars in search of some “clean” options. Now everyone has different goals when it comes to choosing a protein bar whether its low sugar, low carbs, no additives, or low in fat. When you go toward the “natural” bars, they seem to be higher in fat in sugar because they use a different ingredients. An example of this when you sweeten with dates compared to stevia, you of course are going to see the sugar go up but it all depends on what your priorities are in your choice.

My first review on my #bardiscovery quest is The Perfectbar. The founder was a San Diego Local DR. BUD KEITH  who knew that what we eat has a direct effect on how we feed and had that food is nourishment mentality. He passed this concept downperceft-bar within his family and now brothers and sisters run the company with the mentality that “food has to be real”

The bars are found in the refrigeration section, always. Their line consists of the following categories: peanut, almond, lite, and mini.

I got to try carob chip, cranberry crunch, fruit and nut, almond butter, cranberry crunch, almond coconut, and almond acai. I also had a couple of the minis which were perfect snack size!

So one of the questions on your mind is probably if they must be refrigerated at all times and the answer is no! They advised that they’ll last 2 weeks unrefrigerated at room temperature. However, if exposed to heat or kept unrefrigerated for longer than recommended the natural fruit, seed and nut oils may begin to separate, and the bars can become oily. I took them out with me when I ran the stairs at 1,000 steps beach in Laguna and they were a delicious and fresh pick-me-up post workout. The Coconut bar was so fitting for the California Beach vibes!

perfect-bar-beachThe Bar:

The bars all have a pretty hearty texture, which I loved! They are still soft but do not crumble while you eat them! The fruit pieces add just the perfect touch of sweetness, which by the way I am not usually a fan of but loved in this bar! They are a pretty good sized bar, most of their bars average at about ~2.5oz so would even say more on the larger side in comparison of other bars I’ve tried! The retail for about $3.35 each depending on where you go or how many you buy.

Whats inside:

The protein content ranges from about 8g-13g and the sugar ranges from about 14-19g with most being around 18g. The bars contain Over 20 nutrient-dense organic whole foods provide a good source of vitamins and minerals. Plus ingredients such as kale, spinach, alfalfa and celery (although you don’t even taste it at all!). I love that they are sweetened with organic honey. I learned that honey is actually a complex carbohydrate that will ensure your energy levels last. Their vegan flavor uses low glycemicperfect-bar-close-up organic dates as the sweetener.

The bars are gluten-free,  with vegan and soy free options! Since there are so many definitions of vegetarian they will let you decide for yourself if its right for you. Every Perfect Bar recipe except their vegan Almond Coconut flavor contains Grade A nonfat milk powder and dried whole egg powder, both animal products. I was a lacto ovo vegetarian for most of my life (which mean I eat vegetables, eggs, and dairy products but who do not eat meat) so I understand how that get complicated and appreciate how they advise.

The Final Verdict:

I really loved the variety of flavor options and they are definitely so much more fresh tasting than your average over processed protein bars which is super nice to get a break from! For the size, taste, and quality for me, its definitely a win!

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Protein Crazy: I want it clean!

When was the last time you investigated the ingredients in your protein powder? My meal schedule includes alternating between a meal and a protein every 2.5-3 hours so its safe to say I eat a good amount of protein every day! So I have been on the hunt for a “clean” protein powder that also tastes good!

My wish list included:

  1. non-soy
  2. low in sugar
  3. dairy free
  4. no harsh chemicals
  5. no sugar substitutes

I connected with Maggie Yount who is a leader of the My Whole Healthy Revolution, a Certified Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach.

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Website: https://linkinprofile.com/mywholehealthy
IG: https://www.instagram.com/mywholehealthy/

 

Maggie and I connected on Instagram after another Thyroid Cancer Survivor I follow on Instagram posted  a picture of Life’s Abundance Vanilla Plant based protein powder. We were talking about my concerns and she was extremely helpful and responded quickly! I decided to try the powder and oh my goodness was it delicious!

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Since yesterday was National Icecream day and I did not partake I was craving a post workout milkshake! I decided to mix the protein powder, a 1/4 c of frozen bananas, and unsweetened almond milk in my Nutri Bullet. It was so creamy I felt like I was cheating! I added some cacao nibs from Navita’s Naturals to the brim! This was so delicious that I had to break out a spoon to scoop out every last bit in my cup!

I think this protein would be the perfect powder to use in baking because it didn’t have a after taste that you find in a lot of protein powders on the market and it mixed very smooth! I use protein powder in my waffles, oatmeal, pancakes, breakfast muffins, and so much more! A lot of times adding a protien powder leaves a distinct taste which makes it a bit unappetizing!

Ingredients:

PlantProtien-Supp-Info

My sister, who just recently graduated nursing school, is my non-official ingredient investigator. She gave this two thumbs up and wants to try it herself! “Rebaudioside A” was the only thing I personally was not familiar with but my sister quickly informed me that is Stevia (Stevia is a sweetener and sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of the plant species Steviarebaudiana (1)) -more info bellow in FAQS

Other info:image

  • Non-GMO
  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • Soy Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Grain free
  • No Added Sugar
  • No Artificial Flavors
  • No Artificial Preservatives
  • No Artificial Colors

Why no soy? I believe (and so does Life’s Abundance) that soy can disrupt thyroid function which may lead to hypothyroidism and thyroid problems. I have been avoiding soy since my thyroid cancer diagnosis in 2013.

I would definitely recommend trying this protein powder! Reach out to Maggie: maggie@mywholehealthy.com

FAQ

I also wanted to the FAQ PAGE from Life’s Abundance that I found was extremely helpful:

Why should I choose foods that are non-GMO?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. Genetic modification is a technique that alters living cells to produce new chemicals and functions in plants and animals. Many food scientists question the safety of genetically modified foods because they do not know if eating GMO foods over a lifetime can damage our health.

What is vegan?

A vegan is a person who does not eat or use animal products.

What does gluten free mean and why is it important?

Gluten is the sticky protein found in certain grains including wheat, barley and rye.

To people with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is very important because it is the only known treatment for celiac disease, an autoimmune digestive disease. People with celiac cannot digest gluten, which causes inflammation in the digestive system and affects the small intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. Symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, and anemia.

People with gluten sensitivity have similar symptoms to those with celiac disease but test negative for it as well as wheat allergies. These people may feel fatigued, depressed, bloated and have abdominal pain.

Gluten-free grains include rice, corn, quinoa and buckwheat.

I have noticed “soy free” foods lately and I want to know if soy products are unhealthy?

Soy is one of the top food allergies, especially among babies and children. Symptoms of soy allergy are typically mild, although anaphylaxis is possible. People avoiding GMOs may avoid soy since more than 90% of soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified.

Soy can disrupt thyroid function which may lead to hypothyroidism and thyroid problems.

Soy contains phytoestrogens, compounds that mimic human estrogen.

Is eating dairy free healthy?

People may go dairy free if they are lactose-intolerant, have a milk allergy or are vegan.

People with lactose intolerance do not have the enzyme lactase which helps to digest milk and they can experience diarrhea, nausea, bloating and cramps when eating dairy products.

Milk allergies, which are one of the top 8 food allergies, occur either minutes or hours after having milk or milk products and can cause hives, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps.

People may also avoid dairy for ethical reasons or believe it helps keep their skin clear.

Sugar is a natural ingredient so why do I care if there’s no sugar added?

Eating too much sugar has been linked to inflammation throughout the body and increased health risks. It is important to check labels since manufacturers frequently add sugar to many products that you would not think of as sweet, such as pasta sauces, chicken nuggets, cured meats, and ketchup. Also, sugar comes in many forms such as cane syrup, high fructose corn syrup and crystalline fructose.

What is rebaudioside A?

Rebaudioside A is an ingredient that is extracted from stevia leaves. It is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, so very little is needed to sweeten foods and/or beverages.

What is monk fruit extract?

This fruit grown in Southeast Asia is one to one-and-one-half times sweeter than sugar so very little is needed to sweeten foods and/or beverages.

Are natural flavors healthier than artificial flavors?

In general, artificial flavors tend to be in foods that are overly processed. If a food product contains artificial flavors, check to make sure that it doesn’t also contain other less desirable additives like artificial colors and preservatives.

What’s wrong with artificial colors?

Artificial colors may cause hyperactivity and behavioral changes in children. Some artificial colors have been linked to increased health risks.

What’s wrong with artificial preservatives?

Some artificial preservatives have been linked to increased health risks.

What are the manufacturer’s credentials?

This dietary supplement is manufactured by a company that is GMP certified and FDA regulated in the USA.

 

DISCLAIMER: all statements made are cited and my own personal options are not medical advise as I am not a doctor! Any health concerns should be directed to your doctor!

 

Power Breakfast: Hot Quinoa Bowl

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and its usually the one we all have the least amount of time to prep for. Before my lifestyle change I used to get my coffee and breakfast at Starbucks but the $ and high fat breakfast sandwiches caught up to me!

13331149_10208440416041197_4728384698736172682_nI recently got my hands on the Julie Morris cookbook that not only shows you how to incorporate superfoods, it  also helps you understand them which is why I am in love with this book! the first part of the book is dedicated to technique, nutritional breakdown, and overall understanding of superfoods! You can find here on Navitas Naturals Website!

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The first recipe I cooked was the Hot Quinoa Bowl in which I discovered what “quinoa flakes”. This is a game changer for me!Like the concept of rolled oats, they are
flattened/rolled quinoa. They cook extremely
fast and taste great, I wish I would have
found them sooner! I stopped by my local Sprouts
Market and picked up some Ancient Harvest Quinoa
Flakes (you can find where to by locally here).

What you will need:

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Mix for Cereal:

1 c unsweetened hemp or almond milk
1/2 c quinoa flakes
optional:
cinnamon
pink Himalayan salt

Optional Topping ideas:
Cacao Nibs – I use Navtias Naturals 
Maca Powder – Navitas Naturals
Berries/ fruit of your choice – I used raspberries and blueberries
Flax seeds
Chia Seeds- Navitas Naturals
Dried goji berries – Navtias Naturals

Directions:

  1.  In a medium saucepan, heat your milk to a boil
  2. add the quinoa flakes, turn of heat immediately and stir to mix. Le it rest for 2 min to finish cooking. Add your salt and cinnamon if desired!
  3. serve with your toppings of choice ( I used  blueberries, raspberries, cacao nibs, and Maca powder)

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Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 11.43.29 PMMACA Benefits:

“The maca root was prized throughout the
Inca empire for its adaptogenic-like qualities
that enable it to nourish and balance the body’s delicate endocrine system, and to help cope with stress. It also energizes naturally, without the jitters and crashes of caffeine, and it can aid in reproductive function by helping to balance hormones”

Cacao Nibs Benefits:

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One of nature’s richest dietary sources of magnesium, cacao nibs are also an excellent source of iron and dietary fiber. You’ll feel really great about eating cacao nibs, due to the alkaloids theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamine, which boost your mood and can make you feel like you’re in love!

 

Disclaimer/ Source: Navitas naturals.com – these are a healthy food, not a miracle drug. These statements herein have not been reviewed by the FDA. Navitas Naturals products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease.

Girls night: Keeping it clean

Keeping a girls night “healthy” isn’t exactly at the top of my girlfriends mind. They want wine, chocolate, and fancy cheese to snack on while we gossip. But tonight I decided to mix it up. Since I have been eating clean, I decided to surprise them with a couple different appetizers from Two Moms n the Raw.

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Shari, the founder of Two Moms in the Raw, started making journey with making raw foods after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2004. She discovered that a natural path to wellness which included a raw food diet) was what worked best for her. The treats she made for herself became so popular with friends and family that she decided to share the goodness even further with the help of her own mother!


Their products are:

  • 100% organic,
  • raw
  • vegan
  • free of wheat, dairy, soy, refined sugars
  • and are gluten free
  • well represented with antioxidants in most of their ingredients which protect cells from damage by unstable molecules called free radicals.

What do you mean “Raw food”?

There are a lot of reasons people believe in eating a RAW food diet but why, and what is raw? The idea behind it is that heating food destroys its nutrients and the natural enzymes. Enzymes, vitamins13010690_10208118788920720_5403359247741116054_n, minerals, phytonutrients, protein, essential fats, and fiber are all provided by our food in the raw state. All these nutrients are involved in growth, repair, and maintenance of the body. So, if cooking food destroys or decreases the effectiveness of absorption of what out bodies need I can see why people are making an effort to eat more raw.

Snacks can still be considered raw even if they are cooked slightly. Raw snacks are  typically made at 118 degrees so that the enzymes are not damaged.

Garden Herb Sea Crackers:

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Topped with humus and dried  basil-

This cracker was the largest one and it has whole flax seeds mixed with a lot of rosemary and thyme and another strong flavored herb I wasn’t familiar with. The really amazing thing about the packaging is that it has a list of “whats inside” to help you understand the benefits of their powerful ingredients of choice. In this case I found out that the ingredient I was tasting was Cardamom. The listed benefits (listed on the box) are that it is a good source of potassium,calcium,magnesium, and iron.

Spicy Chipotle Pepper Almond Protein Crackers:

Paired with fresh avocado and cilantro-

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This little cracker packs a lot of flavor and was my roommates favorite one! This one has the resemblance/texture of a Wheatthins brand cracker but without all the questionable ingredients (seriously have you seen them? ). They have a crunch but are a bit chewy compared to crisp crackers but I am not complaining!  The spiciness level had just the perfect kick to it and the spices are full of antioxidant spices such as turmeric, paprika, and chili . I will definitely be making this little snack again! They were delicious and would taste amazing paired with some fresh tomato salsa!

A little extra info on the power packed ingredients: Paprika is rich in antioxidants, and may contribute toward cardiovascular health, as well as cancer prevention. Paprika contains flavonoids which help to neutralize damaging free radicals as well as encourage healthy detoxification. Paprika may also aid in reducing chronic pain and inflammation associated with arthritis(1).Chili, which is made from the chili plant,  is found to have high levels of antioxidants and several therapeutic and disease preventing properties. Chili may have anti-inflammatory qualities and may serve as a strong anti-carcinogen, with the power to kill cancer cells. This spice may also contribute to heart health and help to prevent obesity(2). Tumeric, which I have been told by several people at the fitness center to take casuals of for its ani-inflammatory properties,  id antioxidant-rich and may help to protect your liver from toxins, including alcohol. The antioxidants in turmeric may also help to inhibit the development of Alzheimer’s disease and help to reduce cholesterol levels (3).

Tomato Basil Sea Crackers:

atop sliced cucumber,homemade tzatziki, and fresh dill-

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Similar texture to the garden herb with a crisp crunch. primary ingredient present in cracker is flaxseeds which are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and alphalinolenic acid. These heart healthy nutrients alto serve up anti inflammatory benefits.

I was blown away again with the flavor! These crackers taste exactly like bruschetta and were my personal favorite! They were a bit smaller and broken up in the box so I decided to use the cucumber as a base and then add the cracker on top. This was so refreshing and the mix of textures was delicious! The sea crackers come in three flavors: tomato basil, pesto (did not try yet), and garden herb.

Overall thoughts on the Crackers:

Great job ladies on your product! It was a success, my girls loved them! When I told my friends that I made snacks with “raw” ingredient crackers they expected card board-like and flavorless. We were in awe of the flavor rich sea crackers and hardly missed the usual bread and cheese platter I typically serve them! If you are going to pair them with items such as dips, keep the flavors mild. For example use plain humus not garlic! If you are looking for a healthy alternative to processed crackers or to add more raw food to your diet you need to try these! Good quality ingredients, and the taste is great weather your a healthy foodie or someone trying to eat more rawfood this is a great choice!

Cant wait to share more of the items I am trying with you!

(1)“The Herbal Kitchen: 50 Easy to Find Herbs and Over 250 Recipes to Bring Lasting Health to You and Your Family”; Kami McBride, Rosemary Gladstar; 2010(2)“ChefMD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine: A Food Lover’s Road Map to Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, Getting Really Healthy”; John La Puma, Rebecca Powell Marx; 2009(3)“Living Agelessly: Answers to Your Most Common Questions about Aging Gracefully”; Linda J. Altoonian; 2008

 

Workout Gear: Style without breaking the bank

Losing weight can be exciting but workout clothes expensive when it comes to buying clothes every time you drop some lbs. Personally, I think feeling confident while working out is key and what you are wearing can play a part in that. If you are constantly pulling up your pants while working out it can be distracting and if you feel frumpy in baggy tees you wont feel like the gym warrior you really are! I have put together a couple places that wont break you bank, but will keep your workout outfits on point!

Old Navy 

I haven’t purchased anything from Old Navy in  LONG time but my mom told me about a sale they were having a few weeks ago and I got a killer deal on some workout gear!

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  • Discounts: 30% when you sign up for email
  • Current Discount ending 3/31/16 USE CODE GETMORE
  • Free shipping online with minimum purchase
  • ALWAYS having some sort of sale!

    My Recent Purchases:

  1. Adjustable sports bra– on sale as low as $11.97! These are the best because when your bras feels stretched out, you can tighten the straps!
  2. Burnout T-Strap Tank for Women – light weight, longer cut, SUPER cute! as low as $6.97!
  3. Go-Dry T-Strap Tank as low as $6.97 and they are very light weight/airy!

 

Kohl’s

A lot of people may not know this but Kohl’s has Nike brand workout clothing! This store I also haven’t been inside in a long time but I did find a lot of great workout gear!

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Via PromoCodes2016

 

  • Free shipping online with minimum purchase
  • ALWAYS having some sort of sale on items!
  • Kohl’s Cash (which i never remember to use!)
  • Current
  • Promo: 15% off purchase IRISHLUCK Expires 4/14/16

    My Recent Purchases:

  1. Tek Gear® Core Lifestyle Capri Yoga Leggings 14.99 on sale!

  2. Tek Gear® Core Lifestyle Capris  $17.99 on sale! If you re constantly pulling up your pants while workout out,get these! They have a drawstring tie and are very comfy!

  3. Nike Brand EVERYTHING! I love their clothes, specifically tops

Discount Stores:

This is a great place to buy blender bottles, sports bras and other workout accessories!

My absolute favorite sports bra I find at ever TJMAXX and Marshals (They are owned by the same company) is the New Balance Bra. It has adjustable straps and removable cups for washing.

Tip: Nutrition shops often give away their brand of blender bottles with a purchase! Just ask, never hurts!

Outlets:

  1. Nike ( can you tell I like them?) I recently got a new sweatshirt and shoes from my local outlet store

Check back soon, more to come!

MEAL PREP: The Basic Survival Guide

MEAL PREP! Seems like everyone is doing it right? Well thats because it saves you money, its healthier than eating out, and helps you be more in control of you fitness plan.

Yes might say “well I don’t have time for meal prep”. Trust me when I say once you get the hang of it its quick and you will wonder why you didn’t start prepping sooner.

Average cost of 1 meal at a “heathy” restaurant is around $10.50 and if you multiply that by the number of times you eat out in a week its easily around $130! Depending on the meat and veggies I get, meal prepping from me brings my cost down to around 75$ a week.

 

The Grocery Store Visit:

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Step 1: MAKE A LIST- Always make a list of what you want before you visit and how many meals you will need to purchase for.
Step2: SHOP-

  • Veggies– Meal (broccoli, asparagus, spinach, brussel sprouts, etc.)
    *Tip: start with only 1-2 veggies
  • Other Produce– these will be what helps add flavor(shallots, onion, garlic,                                                                parsley, basil etc.)
  • Meat– Think lean and healthy ( ground turkey, chicken, tilapia, tuna, and salmon (in moderation)
    • I am really picky about my meats and I order from Meats2U who cuts down to meat prep work for you plus their meats taste amazing and are cost effective! 
  • Carb- Complex and NO white ( brown rice, quinoa, oats, sweet potato/yams)
  • Accessories and other:
    • Seasonings – make sure you have plenty of variety and low in sodium!
    • Favor God Seasonings are on my Wish List compare.jpg
    • Foil – this will minimize cleanup 200%
    • Spray olive oil
    • Baking sheets, pans, and utensils
    • Tupperware- INVEST! You need to have 1 container per meal you are prepping. I would recommend starting off with ones without the dividers to allow more versatility. Make sure to get quality and microwave/dishwasher safe! Here are some of my favorites:
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      Amazon Containers

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      Six Pack Bags Meal Prep Containers

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IKEA: I use these the most and phased out most of my plastic containers because I do not like to reheat plastic! 

Time to Prep:

  • Preheat oven for meat
  • Season you meats and place on a lightly oiled pan covered in foil (leave enough to wrap around meat to keep moist.
  • While the meat is cooking wash start to boil water for rice or quinoa
  • Veggies:
    1. Roasting : Wash your veggies, cut and place in foil to be put in oven
    2. Sauté: tiny bit of oil and toss your veggies in seasoning
    3. Microwave bags- the easiest route
  • the last 10-15 min of your meat cooking in oven, add your veggie
  • While every thing is finishing cooking/cooling down, get out your containers.
  • Fill containers
    1. Portion your meats  ( I weigh mine and Im currently eating 4oz)
    2. Measure out out carbs
    3. Add veggies -lots of them!11327991_396191560573018_2057006048_n
  • YOU ARE DONE!

 

Pack:

This part it took me a while to figure out what to use. The best containers I have found are the 6 Pack Bags  which I posted about  before.

The ice packs stay cool all day long, have so many compartments, and are durable! I own two of them right now and I love them!!

The pink one is the Innovator 300 and hold 4 water bottles, 3 meals plus an extra Tupperware container the Black one is the Innovator Mini which is smaller and holds 3 smaller meals and 2 water bottles.  They both come with 3 containers plus a vitamin pack container!

I like these because I am in sales andI do not have an office to put food in the fridge so I need to keep my meals cool while in the car. Plus whenever I travel i can bring all my food more the weekend.

Still looking for more? Check out this video from Buff Bunny ( I LOVE her!)

FitBit Aria

Who doesn’t love Fitbit?! The app tracks your steps, calories and now they released this! The Aria Scale which is used to track weight, lean mass, body fat % and BMI, so you can see the numbers you need to take control of your fitness.

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This scale automatically syncs with the same app that your Fitbit tracker app does. When you hop on it automatically knows who you are (magic) and keeps track for you!

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So how do I like it? At a retail price of $129.95 at first it thought it was a bit crazy! But then I started thinking about how i already spent that on other scales that ended up not working too well which was basically throwing money in the trash. Fitbit is a GREAT brand, with the best customer service so that why I gave it a try!  I love the sleek design which blends into your decoration and the screen is easy to read and responsive.  You can find it for less at Khols or Sears but I got mine at Macys!