Seeing SeaWorld: A Whole New Light

This post was written by Jennifer of Experimental Mommy in partnership with The MOMS and SeaWorld.Travel expenses were provided however all opinions remain 100% mine.

After a long but fun day at Discovery Cove, the next morning we were up early for a full day at SeaWorld. I was extremely thankful for both the Starbucks in the SpringHill Suites lobby and for the news that I would not have to put a wetsuit on again. We started off with breakfast in SeaWorld at Sharks Underwater Grill. It was truly incredible to watch as sharks, rays, and other beautiful fish swam by while we ate. The breakfast was delicious and it was a meaningful experience to be able to watch the ocean life interact in the huge, panoramic aquarium while we heard more about the efforts at SeaWorld to advocate for them.

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After breakfast, we moved on to our behind the scenes Rescue and Rehab tour to learn how the efforts from people at SeaWorld have helped save nearly 28,000 animals and counting. We saw manatees, turtles, and dolphins that have been rescued and are being cared for because they would no longer be able to survive in the wild due to their injuries. We learned that the top problems affecting the manatees that SeaWorld saves are boat strikes, cold stress, entanglement in fishing lines or nets, and orphaned calves. With the use of animal ambulances (which look surprisingly similar to human ambulances, but on a bigger scale), SeaWorld Rescue Teams have been able to save manatees among other animals and continue to care for them until they can be re-released if possible.

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Because of the efforts of those at SeaWorld, many of these animals go on to live happy lives and continue to get excellent care. In addition to the care happening behind the scenes, world-renowned marine artist and conservationist Guy Harvey has recognized the hard work and dedication of SeaWorld and has partnered with them to raise awareness about the plight of sharks in the wild and the health of our oceans. Research shows that more than 100 million sharks are killed every year in the global shark fishery due to practices such as shark finning. In addition to science and research efforts, Guy Harvey and SeaWorld will also work together to increase public awareness about ocean health and the need for shark conservation.  SeaWorld’s new roller coaster, Mako, will help to enhance this effort and raise awareness. During the course of our visit, I was lucky enough to meet so many amazing SeaWorld employees from every facet of involvement, and one thing was constant: their genuine love and concern for these animals.

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Following our tour, we had just a few hours of free time before we had to start our trip back home, but we used them well. While I would have been first in line to ride Mako, my daughter couldn’t talk herself into it, so we squeezed in a few other attractions like Wild Arctic, Journey to Atlantis, Antarctica, and Empire of the Penguin (which was our favorite for different reasons). My daughter loved it because you finished the ride face to face with the cutest crowd of penguins you’ve ever seen. I loved it because it was 32 degrees in the attraction as opposed to ten billion degrees outside. Both equally valid reasons!

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We were so sad to leave Orlando but truly feel like our time there was a gift. As I’ve told many friends since returning, if you are heading there just to see a certain mouse, you are missing out for sure. There is so much to do, learn, and see at SeaWorld and Discovery Cove, and knowing how hard everyone is working behind the scenes gives me an even bigger appreciation for the activities and entertainment available there. I encourage all of our readers to learn more through SeaWorld Cares and start planning your trip to Orlando. I know you’ll love it as much as we did!

Discovering Discovery Cove and Rising Tide Conservation

This post was written by Jennifer of Experimental Mommy in partnership with The Moms, Sea World and Discovery Cove. Travel expenses were provided. All opinions remain 100% mine.

I have decided Orlando, Florida is my happy place. It’s always warm and sunny, the people are friendly, and there is always something to do. It is also the site of our famous stay in the Cinderella Castle a few years ago, and I truly thought that could never be topped, until now.

I am ashamed to say that I have visited Orlando no less than a dozen times and never visited the hidden gems of SeaWorld and Discovery Cove. So, when my daughter and I were asked to attend The MOMS and SeaWorld’s “Word of Mom” Weekend I jumped at the chance. I thought we’d simply have fun, see some sights, and enjoy ourselves. Little did I know, we would leave having learned lessons that will stick with us for a lifetime.

After a quick (and early) flight we got all checked in to the SpringHill Suites and rested a bit before heading to Discovery Cove to start getting acquainted with our expert panel accompanying us for the weekend. Although I was familiar enough with SeaWorld, I never knew Discovery Cove existed so we were anxious to see what it was all about. Y’all…it’s gorgeous…white sandy beaches, beautiful landscaping, and complete relaxation. Visitors truly feel like they are on a tropical island. The best part about Discovery Cove is that it’s all-inclusive. Anything you can think of is there for you: towels, animal safe sunscreen, snorkels, masks, lockers, wetsuits and swim vests are all included, in addition to life jackets should you need one.

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Which leads me to….THE WETSUIT. Confession: I hate to be in cold water. I can stay in my bathtub for hours (and sometimes do, let’s be honest) but won’t spend ten minutes in a pool if it’s even slightly chilly. So, I opted for the wetsuit in the hopes of staying warmer. The very sweet attendant handing them out tells me, “Here you go. It should feel tight, like a sausage.” Yeah. He wasn’t kidding. Think industrial-strength Spanx for your whole body. But I squeezed in, channeled my inner Jimmy Dean, and off we went. After all, black is slimming, right?

We were led to The Grand Reef where we heard about the efforts of Rising Tide Conservation. Started by SeaWorld, Rising Tide Conservation promotes efforts to breed and raise marine tropical fish in aquaculture facilities in lieu of collecting them in the wild. The mission of Rising Tide is to protect coral reefs and promoting sustainable aquaculture. Coral reefs face continually growing threats, including ocean acidification, warming ocean temperatures, coral bleaching, pollution, and over-exploitation. All of these threats cause harm to the delicate balance of the reef and can potentially destroy them. With the recent release of movies like Finding Dory, there will surely be an uptick in families looking to acquire a “Dory” (blue tang) for their home just like the trend in clownfish after the release of Finding Nemo. About 98% of marine aquarium fish are harvested from the wild because reliable protocols for the aquaculture of marine fish have not been developed and shared throughout the industry. Rising Tide is hoping to change that. A recent exciting achievement was celebrated in October of 2015 with the announcement of a breakthrough in yellow tang breeding. This was due, in part, to the efforts of Rising Tide Conservation and Discovery Cove. Fish eggs that otherwise wouldn’t hatch are collected and sent to partner laboratories in the program to be used for breeding research. In addition, the park purchases fish that have been raised by these efforts rather than collect them from natural reefs.

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To that effort, our mission in The Grand Reef was egg collection. Thousands of fish make their home in The Grand Reef, including angelfish, butterflyfish, wrasses, tangs, hogfish, and filefish. The Grand Reef is also home to some of the most beautiful (and friendliest) stingrays I’ve ever seen. Egg collection was easy, and simply involved swimming out and placing nets over the filters. It was just a small piece of the puzzle, but my daughter felt good knowing she had contributed to something that was essentially going to do a lot of good. After the egg collection, we spent some time just taking in the beauty of the reef. It was indescribable…colorful fish everywhere you looked, and my daughter was brave enough to pet a few stingrays too.

After a good night’s sleep we got up early and headed out to learn more about how to help the efforts of Rising Tide Conservation. While my daughter enjoyed meeting a sloth and some other furry creatures (including one that licked her in the ear), I got to hear our panel of experts tell us more about how simple changes can help the amazing efforts of Rising Tide. Here are some suggestions:

  • Visit your local accredited zoo or aquarium. Ask about their conservation work and educate your family.
  • Support conservation programs like Discovery Cove’s Rising Tide.
  • If you are looking to start a home aquarium, remember a few tips:
    • Research the fish you are interested in caring for and how they interact with other fish.
    • Opt for an aquacultured fish first, instead of one collected from the reefs.
    • Saltwater aquariums can be tricky for beginners, so consider a freshwater aquarium instead.
    • For the well-being of your fish and other wildlife and their habitats, never release fish into the wild.
  • Take part in activities like Discovery Cove’s SeaVenture program – guests who participate in the SeaVenture program at Discovery Cove also directly help support Rising Tide Conservation, as the park donates five percent of every program purchased.

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Once our panel concluded it was time to head back to Discovery Cove. I, for one, couldn’t wait to put a wetsuit back on (kidding) but what we really couldn’t wait for was our chance to swim with dolphins. Our group won the dolphin Lotto and were treated to some time with Reef, a one-year-old bottlenose dolphin who is seriously the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, besides myself in that wetsuit of course. Our dolphin trainer Kelly was so knowledgeable and helpful while she taught us all about Reef and her life at Discovery Cove. After getting acquainted with Reef (my daughter says she felt like a “freshly shaved leg” and I almost died laughing) we got the chance to give her some smooches and see how smart she really is. At Discovery Cove, Reef has 24 hour vet care available, eats restaurant-grade sushi, and receives lots of love and attention from her competent trainers. My daughter and I had the best time learning about these amazing creatures and how intelligent they are. As a result of the experience, my daughter changed her future career path from veterinarian to marine biologist. I was extremely grateful for both this incredible opportunity and for all the knowledge we both gained from the experience.

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The rest of our day was spent exploring Discovery Cove and all it has to offer. We swam face to face with sharks (don’t worry, they were behind glass), fed all varieties of birds (one thanked me profusely by pooping on my phone), observed otters that were the cutest things ever (and pouted when we couldn’t bring one home), and soaked up the sun on the pristine beaches. Your entry fee to Discovery Cove also includes breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks throughout the day and I am here to tell you we enjoyed every bite. One of the best parts about Discovery Cove is the limited number of guests per day, making it smooth and easy rather than crowded and stressful.

After a fun day, we headed back to SpringHill Suites and enjoyed a quiet night going through all of the photos captured by the Discovery Cove photographers on PhotoKey. Seeing all the pictures of our dolphin experience was awesome, and we were able to share them with family and friends who were excited to hear all about our day at Discovery Cove. It was truly a day we will never forget.

COMING SOON: Our day at SeaWorld!

 

#ImBornTo Support the March of Dimes

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with The Motherhood and March of Dimes. All opinions are 100% my own.

As one of 39 Moms (one for each week of a full-term pregnancy), I have loved being part of a team of bloggers to help raise awareness for the incredible things March of Dimes has (and continues to) accomplish with your donations. The #ImBornTo campaign has helped shine a spotlight on the fact that in the United States, one baby is born prematurely every minute and approximately 72 children die each day before reaching their first birthday. This fight to save babies and help all moms have healthy, full-­‐term pregnancies has been the focus of the March of Dimes’ mission for the last several decades.

Recently, I hosted a few friends at my home to let them know about the amazing work done by March of Dimes and how exactly  they could help fulfill their mission. Over some sweet Southern tea and dessert, I shared with them a few ways they could be a part of the solution.

From Mother’s Day to Father’s Day, the March of Dimes encourages consumers to shop, donate or take part in partner promotions to support the cause. Each partner including Martha Stewart, Bon Ton, Mud Pie, KMart, Alex and Ani, eBay, AE Jewelers, and Blue Rhino have different promotions to support the cause and you can help by simply shopping the deals!

Need more reasons to shop? Support of the March of Dimes last year alone provided 15,700 babies lifesaving surfactant therapy, developed by March of Dimes researchers, and gave 90,000 families with a newborn in intensive care comfort and information through NICU Family Support®.

What will you do to help babies reach their full potential?

 

Building a Blog as a Business through Consistency

This post is written by guest blogger Ponn Sabra and is one-stop in the month-long Blogger Babes blog tour which began here with it’s opening post on Double Duty Divas’ blog. To read this post in-context, we recommend starting at the beginning–then hop along with us for the full journey.

While many bloggers start blogging as a hobby; that wasn’t the case for me. I was a freelance writer and published in academia for over a decade when I came online to simply publicize my debut book as an author. I knew my blog had to serve 3 main purposes:

  1. Position me as an expert,

  2. Build a following of my target market, and

  3. Help publicize my services and products.

So, I came into blogging with a totally different mindset. From the get-go, I was strategic in what I chose to write, even my very first blog post over 10 years ago.

But, freelance writing, especially AP style in my role as the networking columnist of Entrepreneur magazine’s women’s site was very time consuming and hard to balance with a new family of 3 girls under 5 years old. So, I found my joy of “hobby blogging” by having my side mom blog. Those 6 tiny blogs ultimately became my “professional mom blog” for the next 6 years. Now a decade later, I’m transitioning back into a blend of both those worlds in my role as the managing partner of Blogger Babes.

My point is: no matter which route you take, the intentional (like my first blog), or the accidental (like my second) there’s something you ultimately have to decide:

Is your blog a hobby or business?

Can I use a strategy to leverage my passion of blogging and growing audience to turn a profit? Or, am I fine just blogging for the the joy and pleasure of blogging–which there’s nothing wrong with at all.

Bridgette and Cecelia found a way to leverage their experiences and relationships with blogging, and successfully launched and run the awesome blogger network Double Duty Divas. As a blog network owner myself, event planner, and brand-to-blog campaign organizer, I can attest that this may not be the “job” every blogger aspires.

But, that’s not your only option.

Building Traffic through a consistent blogging calendar

Simply blogging in one particular niche, adding affiliate links or having an ad network are three great ways to make a steady income. And, our Blogger Monthly Tutorials help you figure out if you have the time and stick-to-it-iveness to blog regularly, so you can actively have enough traffic to make a good income through your numerous affiliate relationships.

The only way to maintain traffic is by always giving fresh, unique content for your readers to come back too. And, being consistent is much more important than writing 10-days in a row, then not blogging for 10-weeks.

When I came on-board at Blogger Babes, it took me a couple months to get my blogging calendar set–and in January I have been able to maintain a steady Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday schedule. Our readers expect it and it helps me stay organized. This is one thing I felt was very important in developing steady blogging habits–that’s why our debut Monthly Trainer has a blogging calendar sample for you to duplicate.

Need Help writing consistently? Click here to sign up for the Early Bird special release of $5 per month!

Win Two-Hours of Blog Coaching with Heidi and Ponn ($298 value)

We’re crowdsourcing the name of our Monthly Training tutorials. Creating the eKits is one-thing, and publicizing it through a 25-blog blog-tour is another… and trying to tackle a creative training title is something my poor brain cannot handle alone.

So, we need your help!

Grand Prize: Two-Hours of Blog Coaching by Blogger Babes Co-Founders (Value $298)

  • Two one-hour blog coaching sessions, one with Heidi and one with Ponn. Coaching will be conducted separately on the phone (domestic), Skype, or our recorded webinar room (international).

How to Enter:

  1. Make one comment below for each monthly subscription title you create. Make sure you use your primary email, so it’s easy for us to reach you if you win!

Rules:

  1. Any age, any country. Minors with guardian’s permission.

  2. Unlimited number of entries across any/all guest blog posts from now until Monday, April 20, 2015.

  3. Deadline date: Monday, April 20, 2015 11:59 pm Pacific Time. [After all, we need time to design the covers. 😉 ]

  4. Winner selection: Heidi and I will select one winner and announce it Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

You can even champion your title by letting us know on Twitter @TheBloggerBabes or Facebook @TheBloggerBabes.

[Note: these actions do not serve as contest entries. Official entries must be made on this blogpost…but, we’d love to connect with you nonetheless.]

Next Steps:

  • Check out our draft sales page now, take some time, and share your proposed title below in the comments area on or before April 20th 11:59 pm Pacific time. While you’re there, sign up for our Early Bird release special!

Ponn Sabra is a best-selling author and homeschool mom of three tween and teen daughters, also bestselling authors and probloggers. The Managing Partner of Blogger Babes, Ponn has a secret passion for sewing…what’s your secret passion you’re willing to share?

Join me for a #MusselmansBigCup Twitter Party!

Something BIG is brewing at Musselman’s!  Come learn all about it and win some great prizes, too!

Musselman’s Big Cup Twitter Party
Tuesday, October 8th at 9 pm EST
Hashtag: #MusselmansBigCup

Who to Follow: @Musselmansapple,@DoubleDutyDivas @BridgetteLA, @CeceliaMecca @AngieKcom, @WhatMommiesNeed, & @RamblingChick 

Prizes:
Winners will be selected at random, for a total of four winners:
$25 Gift Card + Musselman Product
$25 Gift Card + Musselman Product
$50 Gift Card + Musselman Product

Grand Prize: $100 Gift Card + Musselman Product

RSVP at http://twtvite.com/MusselmansBigCup

Join me for a #Care4Today Twitter Party on October 3rd

In New Orleans, we are eagerly awaiting our first cold front of the Season to chase away the humid Southern weather.  We are longing to break out the sweaters, sip a hot pumpkin spice latte, and get outside to enjoy the cool breeze.  But with the change in Seasons comes an increase in seasonal allergens.

I don’t know about you, but I do not want my pumpkin patch-hayride-cornmaze filled day to be ruined with itchy eyes, a runny nose and constant sneezing!  My defense?  Allergy medicine.  But I have to be consistent.  Miss a day and I am doomed.  Fortunately, I was recently introduced to Care4Today™ Mobile Health Manager, a free mobile app and website with new features that are designed to support and motivate people to stay on schedule with their medications.

Want to learn more about the app?  Join me for a Twitter Party to chat about this wonderful tool and managing fall allergies!  Here’s the deets:

When: Thursday, October 3, at 1:00pm CST

Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #Care4Today hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP via this Twtvite: http://twtvite.com/care4today

Hashtag: #Care4Today

Prizes: Five prizes will be awarded throughout the party to participants who respond correctly to trivia questions. Each winner will receive a $50 Visa gift card and a Vera Bradley pill case.

Hosts: @theMotherhood, @theMotherhood25, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

My fellow co-hosts:

@ParentPalace – Amber, Parent Palace, http://parentpalace.com
@EcoBabyMamaDram – Bri, Eco Baby Mama Drama, http://ecobabymamadrama.com
@BridgetteLA – Bridgette, Experimental Mommy, http://www.thenotsoblog.com
@debthompson – Deb, Just Short of Crazy, http://www.justshortofcrazy.com
@DonnaChaffins – Donna, Blog by Donna, http://blogbydonna.com
@waystosave – Kas, Southern Bella’s Ways To Save, http://www.southernbellaswaystosave.com
@amomsimpression – Kathy, A Mom’s Impression, http://amomsimpression.com
@blueviolet – Liz, A Nut in a Nutshell, http://www.anutinanutshell.com
@lomargie – Lori, A Day in Motherhood, http://www.adayinmotherhod.com
@suelee1998 – Susan, Susan’s Disney Family, http://www.susansdisneyfamily.com
@cookiesANDclogs – TerriAnn, Cookies & Clogs, http://www.cookiesandclogs.com

Hope to see you there!!

Join Me for a #PampersLoveSleepPlay Twitter Party!

Pampers love sleep play

Pampers Love Sleep Play Twitter Party with the Double Duty Divas

When: Thursday, August 29th at 9 pm EST
Where: Twitter
Hashtag: #PampersLoveSleepPlay
Who to Follow: @Pampers,@DoubleDutyDivas @BridgetteLa, @CoolBabyKid, @MyFourMonkeys, @WhatMommiesNeed, & @RamblingChick

Prizes: Winners will be selected at random, for a total of five (5) winners:

  •  1 one-month supply of Pampers diapers and wipes (retailing at approximately $72 each) chosen from the RSVP list
  •  3 one-month supply of Pampers diapers and wipes (retailing at approximately $72 each)chosen from the party.
  • 1 Grand prize to help your baby Love, Sleep, & Play which includes a 3 month supply of Pampers diapers and wipes, Lovie blanket, “Good Night Moon” book, Cloud B Sleep Sheep, and Playskool toy.

RSVP at http://twtvite.com/pamperslovesleepplay

Love twitter parties? Make sure to check out the Latina Mom Bloggers as they host another party with @PampersLatino on Wednesday, August 28th at 9pm EST. Follow the hashtag #PampersAmorSuenosJuegos to join and click here to RSVP.

Want the Divas to help promote your brand and promote you via Twitter to their combined 85k+ followers? Contact us at admin@doubledutydivas.com for rates.

Swimming with Dolphins in Cozumel #CCLSummer

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  I won the cruise during a social media scavenger hunt sponsored by Carnival Cruise Lines. Excursions were purchased by my family.  All opinions remain 100% mine.

After visiting Honduras and Belize, our final port on our 7 day Carnival Conquest Cruise was Cozumel, Mexico.  After such a busy day in Belize, we were thrilled to visit Chakanaab Park for a Dolphin Encounter.  As we approached Cozumel, I immediately noticed the beautiful water.  The color was by far the most impressive of our stops.

At the pier, we boarded passenger vans for the 15 minute ride to Chakanaab National Park.  Our tour guide helped us get fitted for life jackets (required for everyone) before entering the dolphin encounter area in the Caribbean Sea.  We entered a sectioned off portion which included two dolphins about 3 years old.  The dolphin trainer began by showing us what the dolphins can do! My girls were in awe as they jumped, swam and waved in front of us.

We stood on a ledge as each person got a chance to kiss, hug and shake “hands” with the dolphins (there were about 12 people in our group).  For the next 40 minutes, the trainers were great making sure that every person had multiple encounters with the dolphins ending with a few opportunities to “pet” them before exiting.  While you are not allowed to bring cameras, you can purchase pictures from the local photographers.  There are several dolphin excursions to pick from, but if you have young kids that are a bit anxious about interacting with the animals, this one is perfect.  If your child is a bit older and more adventurous, you can do a Dolphin Push, Pull and Swim excursion which offers more interaction.

After the dolphin encounter, we were free to explore Chakanaab on our own time.  We chose to check out a free sea lion show, do some shopping and have my daughter’s hair wrapped in colorful string.  For lunch, we decided on an outdoor cafe that served nachos, tacos and quesadillas….all delish!

Finally, we took advantage of the beautiful pool which has a large shallow end perfect for my two daughters.  For most of the day, they were the only kids in this section of the pool which made it very enjoyable.  Shuttles back to the pier left every hour, so we could choose to stay as long or as little as we wanted.

I would highly recommend this excursion through Carnival Cruise Lines.  Everyone was very friendly and it was well organized.  When the kids get older, I would love to return and do another Dolphin Encounter.  Have you been to Cozumel?  What was your favorite excursion?

 

 

 

 

It’s a Sandwich Showdown with #HotterPockets!

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  Travel expenses were provided to facilitate this review but all opinions remain 100% honest.

Because I work outside of the home, I generally have to pack a lunch or eat something super quick at home before returning to the office.  Without tons of time, my go-to lunch consists of a turkey and Swiss sandwich on wheat.  Exciting, right?  While it certainly does the trick, I get bored with this option and have the tendency to resort to fast food.

Earlier this year, Linzy from Crawfish Tales had the opportunity to represent Experimental Mommy at the Nestle Test Kitchens to take a sneak peek behind the scenes at Hot Pockets.  While we have shared a little about her trip, we can finally unveil the big news:  the new and improved Hot Pockets sandwiches are here!!

With all new varieties made with premium cuts of meat, buttery seasoned crusts and real cheese, lunch never has to be boring again.  Linzy had first crack at tasting some fresh Hot Pockets including Ham and Cheese and Pepperoni Pizza.  The new sandwiches are made with premium meats like 100% Angus beef, Hickory Ham, Signature Pepperoni and White Meat Chicken while the crusts have baked in flavor like the new garlic butter.

Are you ready for a Sandwich Showdown? How does a Hot Pocket stand up against your favorite sandwich variety?  For me, I am a huge fan of a good meatball sub.  So, I was very interested to see how the Hot Pocket Meatballs & Mozzarella compared to a Meatball Sub from a national sandwich restaurant.  Take a look at the below graphic:

I love that the Hot Pockets are perfectly proportioned so I am not tempted to go overboard which saves me calories in the long run, too.  While I am craving the Meatballs & Mozzarella, my husband is most looking forward to trying the BBQ Beef Hot Pocket which is made with 100% angus beef in a sweet and tangy bbq sauce covered in a crispy buttery seasoned crust.  My kids?  The Four Cheese Pizza made with Parmesan, cheddar and reduced fat provolone and mozzarella cheeses in a garlic buttery seasoned crust, of course.

Not sure if you will like the Hot Pocket variety?  Scared to try something different?  Hot Pockets is so confident that consumers will love the new recipe that they are offering a money back guarantee.  No questions asked, just visit the Hot Pockets website for details.

If your mouth is watering, come back in the next few weeks when I will be giving away an awesome Hot Pockets prize pack!  Which variety are you most excited to try?

Taking a Look Behind the Scenes at Hot Pockets #Ambassador

I am excited to announce that I am a Hot Pockets Ambassador.  While I was unable to attend the brand event, Linzy from Crawfish Tales represented Experimental Mommy.  In this post, she shares her experiences and thoughts on the trip.  Travel was provided but all opinions remain 100% honest.

I am a mom, so that means one of many things. It means that from the day I became a mom I put myself even lower on the totem pole of my priorities. This results in my appearance, which I spend less than two minutes on in the morning, disheveled while my daughter is perfectly coordinated and her hair perfectly placed.

This is also means that I most likely forgot to eat breakfast or pack lunch for the day, but of course she is well taken care of. It is like the unspoken mom code. We all do it and we all forgive each other, especially in the mornings.

While I am still human, I need to eat. This sounds simple but there are a couple of issues with this. First, is that our family does not eat fast food. It is just not a part of our regular diet and is something reserved for specific situations like road trips. Second, is that eating out is expensive!  I can’t remember to pack a well-balanced lunch for myself but to purchasing lunch every day is just not in the budget. I can think of a million other ways that I would rather spend that money. Finally, I need to eat smart. I am not a supermodel nor do I have the metabolism that I did in high school.

So that is quite a list of criteria to put in to one meal on the go that has to be quick and easy.

Recently I was invited to go to the Nestle facility in Ohio to get a behind the scenes look at their Hot Pocket and Lean Pocket Brands. I was able to touch and taste the quality ingredients put into the sandwiches, meet with their lead nutritionist to learn about the great efforts they put into the nutritional value of the sandwiches and hear from the CEO himself about the company’s mission on producing healthy family friendly foods.

I really enjoyed hearing from the nutritionist. She talked about her personal goals of why she works for Nestle and how the company supports her requirement of producing quality products. She has put a lot of time and effort and her stamp of approval on the products.

One of the things that she mentioned is that portion sizes are quite out of control at many restaurants and even in the meals we make at home. Because a Hot Pocket comes prepared, the portion size is controlled. Partnering a Lean Pocket, with a fresh fruit or vegetable serving offers minimal additional calories and adds even more nutrition completing the meal.

I learned first-hand about the premium quality meats and real cheese in every bite as good sources for protein and calcium. While I know I was looking for a solution for my on the go breakfast and lunch needs, I was very excited to know that many of the Nestle products, including Hot Pockets and Lean Pockets, fit into the Balance Your Plate initiative.

If you are not familiar with the Balance Your Plate initiative, it is a tool kit designed by health and nutrition professionals to show consumers how to create a deliciously balanced, perfectly portioned meals that include the foods they love while meeting the current dietary guidelines.

This is perfect for moms on the go but as well as families on the go. It is hard to get a home cooked meal on the table each night and this is a great resource for mom as a go to meal planner to help insure that your family is getting the nutrients they need.

Be on the lookout in the coming months for exciting news, products and initiatives from Hot Pockets right here on Experimental Mommy!