This month I participated for the first time in Foodie Penpals, a food blog event organized by Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean, where folks send boxes of treats to each other all over the country (and the world). I participated a while back in a similar event, a Vegan, Gluten-free Parcel Swap, which was awesome, except who knew it would cost over $85 to ship a box of food to Australia! Wowza! So I was glad Foodie Penpals matches US senders with US recipients. I was super excited to shop for and ship off a box of goodies to my recipient penpal across the country (Courtney at Knits N Bits 4 U), and the very next day I received an intriguingly colorful box from my sender penpal, Dani. (In this swap, you give and receive to/from different people.)
I was writing a paper the day the box arrived, so I decided to wait to open it until I finished. It was a great incentive to get my work done. When I did open it up at last, I was blown away by how beautiful and colorful it was! Dani had wrapped everything in colorful tissue paper and each item had an accompanying note telling me about what it was and why she chose it.
I had been nervous, since this is an omni swap, telling her all my dietary restrictions. I was afraid it would be a drag or cause anxiety and my penpal might feel resentful. But Dani is a true foodie and treated it as an adventure, consulting with gluten-free friends and coworkers and checking labels on the snacks she loves to see if they were suitable to send along to me. From the variety in my package, it’s clear she went to several different stores as well as the farmer’s market. And I don’t think I’ve let the true extent of my mason jar obsession be known on this blog yet, but the little beribboned mason jars she sent with the chia seeds are just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.
Here’s what came in my beautiful goodie box:
Bobo’s Oat Bars – Lemon Poppyseed and Cranberry Orange – these have a great soft texture and are nice and filling
Roasted Coconut Chips – These are from TJs. Maybe we don’t have them at our TJs? No one I know had ever tried them. They are addictingly good. WOW. Just. Wow.
Rice Pasta – A brand I’ve never tried before, recommended by one of Dani’s GF friends. Looking forward to checking it out!
Hail Merry Nuts & Grawnola – These were super delicious. My favorite was Vanilla Maple Almonds (I was literally licking the crumbs off the inside of the packaging) but Orange Rosemary Pecans, Salt n Black Pepper Sunflower Seeds, and Orange Cranberry Grawnola were all terrific as well. These and the Bobo’s bars have basically been getting me through long days of schoolwork and travel to family holidays.
Persimmon – From the farmer’s market, Mmm, I’ve been making persimmon, apple, and pomegranate fruit salad. So good. So fall.
Chia Seeds – I love chia seeds! And I’ve never tried the white ones. I have seen several recipes that recommend white chia for better color, so it will be great to have a stash on hand.
Brazilian Coffee – Dani warns, “It’s strong :) ”
Altogether I have to say that my first Foodie Penpals experience was fantastic. I don’t which I loved better – planning and shopping for the box I sent, or anticipating, opening, and devouring the one I received. If you’re interested in participating yourself, I highly encourage you to do so, particularly because Lindsay is quite adamant in the event guidelines about people respecting the dietary restrictions of their penpal recipients, so all of us xgfx-ers have a good chance of getting treats we actually can eat! For the month of December, Foodie Penpals will be different – this month those who participate are donating the money we would have spent on putting together and sending a box of goodies to New York Cares, an organization doing both short-term and long-term aid for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Click the image below to get all the info for participating this month and in future months.