I’ve had a fabulous couple of days in Puerto Rico, but now I’m headed back to the mainland US for the weekend. Not to Colorado just yet though – I scheduled a 36 hour layover in Florida, where I’ll visit with a college friend (and get to meet her new baby!), then run the Melbourne Music Marathon on Sunday morning before I fly back home later that night. It should be a fun weekend!
Right now, though, I have to admit that I am completely exhausted. I didn’t get a full night of sleep on my partial-red eye, and while I tried to go to bed early on Wednesday night, I didn’t completely succeed in making up for the missed sleep Tuesday. Thursday night I had a work event that ended up going very late since I wanted to catch up with a lot of former coworkers I hadn’t seen in a long time – so I only got 4 hours of sleep when coupled with a pretty early wakeup call on Friday morning. (Also, I had totally forgotten that Puerto Rico isn’t in the Eastern time zone, so even getting up at a fairly late 7:30am felt like 4:30am to my Mountain time zone-adjusted body.) And this morning, I had a 6am flight out of San Juan, which meant a 4:30am wake up call, which felt to me like getting up for the day at 1:30am Mountain Time. Yuck. I’m pretty eager to get home and start doing some quiet activities!
One of those low-key activities that I’ll be doing a lot of in the next few weeks is watching movies. I never used to be a big movie watcher, but in Colorado, I live less than two miles from one of the nicest cinemas I’ve ever seen. The cinema has assigned seats (so you don’t need to get there early), and they are these super nice leather recliners that are really comfy – and I usually bring a huge down blanket from home so I can cozy up and it’s basically like watching a movie in my living room, but with a giant screen and great sound. I’ve probably gone to the movies more in the last six months than I did in the six years preceding my move! However, I haven’t seen almost any of the Oscar contenders, and some friends and I have talked about changing that prior to the Academy Awards ceremony. My short list of must-sees: Wild, Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, Still Alice, and Citizen Four. Any others I shouldn’t miss?
Yesterday, a new film opened that’s not an Oscar contender, but that I’m also looking forward to watching. Black or White is about an African-American grandmother who launches a battle for custody of her grandson against his white grandfather. The previews make it look like a heartwarming, feel-good kind of film, but the storyline sounds like it will also be pretty thought-provoking – especially in light of the racial conflicts in Ferguson and New York in the last year. I had wanted to see it anyway, but I got especially excited to get an email from one of my favorite brands this week and learn that Kodiak Cakes is actually featured in the movie!
How cute is this story that their marketing lead sent me:
“It was just an average day in the Kodiak Cakes office when the phone rang. Annie Costner, daughter of THE Kevin Costner, was on the line hoping to speak to the owner of Kodiak Cakes, Joel Clark. Joel was unavailable so a message was taken and delivered to Joel with the preface “We are not sure if this is a prank, but you may want to call this number back.” Joel skeptically called the number back only to find out it was indeed Annie Costner. Not being with her father, she gave Joel a call back once Kevin arrived home. Within twenty minutes, Joel’s phone was ringing again, and it just so happened to ring while he was in the car with his entire family. He quieted his children down, got his composer and answered the phone. “Joel, its Kevin Costner! I love your pancakes I eat them all the time, I am a fan!” Joel was stunned and in disbelief that he was actually speaking with Kevin Costner himself. Kevin proceeded to ask Joel if Kodiak Cakes could be in his next movie Black and White. Joel could not believe it, he felt very honored by the request.
Shortly after the phone call, Joel and Cameron Smith, Vice President of Sales, found themselves flying out to the set of Black and White to watch the filming, and meet one of Joel’s childhood heroes. “Kevin Costner has been my hero since 1985 when I saw him in Silverado,” says Joel Clark, President of Kodiak Cakes. On set, Joel and Cameron enjoyed cooking breakfast at base camp for the cast and crew. This is also where Joel and Cameron met the Director of Black and White Mike Binder. Joel had the privilege of sitting in the director’s chair and doing some directing himself, which may or may not have gotten Joel and Cameron removed from the set. The time spent on set will forever be a highlight in Joel’s career. After returning home from his exciting day on set, Joel made sure to send Kevin a bulk order of Kodiak Cakes flapjack mix as a thank-you.”
Kodiak Cakes started as a pancake mix company, and I had heard rave reviews about them from friends/bloggers even before I saw them featured on an episode of Shark Tank. (Kodiak Cakes has been a sponsor of the Blend Retreat for the last few years – speaking of which, Blend is happening in Boulder this year! Tickets are on sale now and I already bought mine; let me know if you are coming.) Recently, though, Kodiak Cakes has begun expanding from pancakes into other new products: oatmeal, granola, and microwavable muffins. They sent me some to try, and I was a little bit uncertain at first. I don’t normally eat muffins or granola for breakfast (though may be changing that after the delicious acai bowl with granola that I had in Puerto Rico). On the oatmeal front, I typically don’t use a mix and make my own from scratch, so that I can customize it with whatever add-ins I’m feeling like having that day. However, it was actually Kodiak Cakes’ Oatmeal Unleashed, in particular, that really wowed me!
Part of why I like making my own oatmeal is I like it really thick – I frequently add chia seeds or flax seeds to bulk it up and make it more filling. Kodiak Cakes Oatmeal Unleashed is described on the package as “crunchy oatmeal”, and I found that it was just as hearty as what I would make myself. (It has 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per serving.) The ingredients list is longer than my own, yes, but it’s all completely recognizable stuff; for example, the Green Apple Spice flavor contains: whole grain rolled oats, milled cane sugar, brown sugar, whole grain rolled rye, whole grain rolled wheat, vegetable oil, pure maple syrup, rice flour, dried apples, cranberries, corn starch, pecans, flax seeds, nonfat dry milk, natural flavor, cinnamon, salt, barley malt syrup, cinnamon bark, ginger root, cardamom seed, black pepper, clove bud. I really like that Kodiak Cakes calls out all the spices and flavorings, rather than using the ubiquitous “natural flavors” at the end to sum up a whole lot of stuff that may or may not actually be what you and I would consider natural. And the flavor of Kodiak Cakes’ products is what I really loved – for the oatmeal, I got to try the Wild Blueberry, Peach Vanilla Almond, and Green Apple Spice, and they were all incredibly rich and flavorful. (I’d probably put the blueberry and peach vanilla almond flavors as my two favorites, but only by a hair – all three flavors are ones I would buy myself.)
Oatmeal is my absolute favorite breakfast, but my usual homemade oatmeal takes me about ten to fifteen minutes to make, depending on what ingredients I’m adding. Some mornings I really crave a hot breakfast, but am in a rush to catch the bus to work and don’t have time to stop and make oatmeal. In the past, I’ve just grabbed a protein bar on my way out the door and then not been as happy with that for breakfast as the oatmeal I craved; the Kodiak Cakes’ Oatmeal Unleashed fills that spot by allowing me to toss it in my bag and then make it in 30 seconds at the office.
While I sometimes find that pre-packaged oatmeal ends up coming out thin and watery, the Kodiak Cakes oatmeal thickened up a lot when you let it sit for a little bit – so if I was having it on a work day, for example I made it my habit to head to my work kitchen immediately upon arrival at the office, add water and microwave it for 30 seconds, then let it sit while I grabbed coffee, settled in to my office for the day, etc. And then it was perfect! I think the flax seeds are what make it so thick, and I just loved that it kept me full till lunch time for under 300 calories. It smelled amazing with all the spices, and I really can’t say enough about how good it was – super rich and flavorful, and the perfect consistency as well.
In honor of the release of Black or White this weekend, Kodiak Cakes is celebrating by hosting a giveaway with me for one lucky reader. In addition to receiving a pair of movie tickets to the theater of your choice, the winner will also get a spread of all of Kodiak Cakes’ products (flapjack and waffle mix, dessert mixes, muffins, oatmeal, granola, and syrup) shipped to their door. To enter, you will need to click through from email or your RSS reader and use the Rafflecopter widget below. The contest will stay open for one week and is open to U.S.-based readers only.
Thank you to Kodiak Cakes for letting me try out their new line, and congratulations to them for attracting Kevin Costner with their awesome products! I love seeing a small brand succeed and get really excited like this, so I was excited to share the news and reward one of you with the cool prize 🙂
Disclaimer: I received some free products to try but otherwise received no compensation for this post. I accepted the invitation to work with Kodiak Cakes because they are an awesome small brand that I love to support (especially since they are so supportive of the blogging community!), and because I thought it would be nice to offer this giveaway to my readers. Kodiak Cakes shared a press release of how they came to be involved with Black or White, which I put in quotes, but all other content in this post is my own writing and opinions.