Archive for the ‘Whole Foods and Organics’ Category

Well the crops are a-changin!


As you can see, I have a lot of veggies to prep this week! Four heads of lettuce, kale, garlic, turnips, beets, Russet potatoes, peas, and a ton of garlic scapes to cut and freeze. A friend just shared a garlic scape pesto recipe with me which I am very excited to try out. I definitely have enough to experiment with!

Here is the recipe if you would like to give it a try!

‎8oz of scapes cut in 1 inch pieces
Process them with 1 cup of olive oil
2 cups parmesan cheese, and
1/2 cup lemon juice

I’m going to try it out in the next couple of days. I will let you know how it turns out!

Anyone out there have a home garden they are tending to this summer? How are they coming? I picked my first four tomatoes from my tomato plants yesterday. They are so delicious!

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I have written in previous posts about my veggie share at Thorpes Organic Family Farm.

Well, it has been three weeks of travels to the farm once a week to get my share of freshly picked (they pick the day of your pickup, can’t get fresher than that!), organically grown veggies. So far, I must report that I am in LOVE. The farm itself is so well organized for pickup. I literally am there for minutes gathering my goodies. To my delight I was able to pick an unlimited amount of peas from the fields myself twice already. I cannot wait until I am able to do this with veggies like tomatoes and squashes come fall! I have already frozen enough garlic to last my family quite awhile. I must say here how grateful I am that I scooped up a vacuum sealer back in December. It was a great deal and I figured it may come in handy some time, boy was that an understatement! My next scheduled purchase is a salad shooter – if you know me and knives, you know why this is a necessity 😉

I will take a picture of my goodies each week and post them for you to drool over. Right now, the variety is limited as it is still early in the season. I must say though that usually, I spend about $55 a week on veggies and fruits for my family at the grocery store. Some I buy organic and some I do not. Since the veggie share started I have been spending half that, which is great, and I hope that will only get better as time goes on.

First… here is a picture of my two boys. I talk about them from time to time. They are the loves of my little life. And really, how stinkin’ cute are they?

Now on to my veggies….

We picked over 15lbs of peas this week, no thanks to my youngest son. He ate more than he picked in the fields. But he is cute. So he can stay for another week 😉

And here is the pea field…

So far, I am Über happy with the farm… I can’t wait to see what I get to bring home this week! Stay tuned for the update!

Just as the body heals itself from a skinned knee after a child falls off of his or her bicycle, it has the same capability to heal itself on the inside. We spray antiseptic and cover a wound with bandages to help the body do its job to heal in the case of a scrape or cut. In the case of internal illness, we have ability to help the body do its job by feeding it foods that work as fuel. Vegetables and fruits are full of vitamins and minerals that the body needs to repair and grow and improve. If you starve yourself of these very essential nutrients, your body cannot do what it needs to do to keep itself functioning properly. This is when diseases take over. Be in control of your own body!

I found myself in a little rut in the lunch-making area. One day I caught myself making the same ol’ lunch for youngest, and least accepting offspring when it comes to trying out new foods. So, as a challenge to him and me I have begun documenting the lunches I make each day. It’s all about being accountable 😉

Day 1: PB&J “Sushi” rolls, cheese stick, carrots, grapes, chips, a homemade chocolate chip cookie and some sugary gummy thing from Easter.

Day 2: Homemade cranberry raisin bread and cream cheese, grapes and apples, chocolate covered raisins and yogurt covered raisins, chips and a homemade chocolate chip cookie.

Day 3: Tunafish sandwich sealed with my new sandwich sealer…. love this thing! Cheese stick, chocolate and yogurt covered raisins, broccoli and carrots with a little ranch dressing on top, chips, grapes, chocolate chip cookie.

Roasted chicken with honey mustard drizzled on top, grapes, chips, berries (yum!), cheese stick, homemade oatmeal cranberry cookie, craisins and yogurt covered raisins.

Day 4: PB&J sandwich made with sandwich sealer, apples, homemade chocolate chip cookie, goldfish crackers, french vanilla greek yogurt and blackberries with a little agave nectar for sweetness, chips, carrots and frozen peas.

Day 5: PB&J “Sushi” rolls, carrots and ranch, chocolate chip cookie, mandarin oranges, chips, raisins, yogurt raisins and some cereal – cuz I had an open box and thought why not throw it in, cheese stick.

Day 6: Tuna noodle salad with peas and broccoli, homemade honey whole wheat bread with butter, Gogurt, carrots, raisins, chocolate chip cookie, and apples.

Day 7: Homemade waffle and cream cheese “sandwich”, chips, chocolate chip cookie, carrots and frozen peas, apples, and granola bites.

So, the first full week is down and I am still going strong with ideas. I even have a few yet tucked up my sleeve 😉 If anyone has any unique lunch ideas for me I am all ears!

I didn’t get much of a chance to go over personal fitness goals during this weeks classes. I tend to get a lot of questions in the second half of my Bootcamp sessions in regards to weight loss, plateaus, and what foods are good foods to eat when you are working towards a particular goal. Today I want to address these questions and touch on a few other ideas.

First off, by signing up for my class, or any class for that matter, you have taken it upon yourself to take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle. You have made the decision to put yourself first; your physical health, your mental health, your overall well-being. That alone deserves praise. Joining a gym, signing up for a workout class, and purchasing organically grown produce, all of these things cost money. If you did not join my class, you most definitely would have saved some money. You may save a few dollars here and there by picking your produce from the non-organic section at the grocery store. You will save some money, and time by getting your meat from the grocery store cooler than driving to the farm and picking out your cuts of meat from a local organic farmer. These facts cannot be denied. Something else that cannot be denied is the fact that the choices we make today directly effect our future lives. If we make healthy choices today, though they may inconvenience us at times, or cost a few dollars more… ultimately we are saving ourselves money in the long run in form of prescription medications, doctors visits, and hospital stays. Pay a little now, or pay a lot later. Scary thing is, in the future you may be paying your health debts with your life, and not money. So I again, praise you for making the choice to be here, and make the investment in your future selves!

Secondly I say that good health does not have a starting point and an ending point. If you want to lose weight that is a great way to focus your goals and steer your efforts in your day-to-day life. Otherwise though, being healthy, physically fit, “skinny”… it’s a lifestyle. One of my favorite fitness sayings is “Don’t work out because you hate your body, work out because you love it”.

As for weight loss specifically, it is simple. To lose weight you need to consume less calories a day than you burn. Go to the Metabolic Rate Calculator here. Plug in all of your info and hit submit. You will then get a rough estimate as to how many calories your body requires to sustain itself during the day. To maintain your current weight you need to eat this amount of calories a day. To lose weight, you need to eat less calories. To gain weight, you will need to eat more calories than this number. It is that simple. Calories in calories out.

Lastly, I want to talk about what types of foods that you choose to put inside your bodies. I am a believer that eating less of a whole food is better than eating more of a processed food. For instance, let’s look at butter vs margarine. The stick of unsalted butter in my fridge has one ingredient, cream. In the popular brand named “Smart” Balance, the list of ingredients looks like this Natural oil blend (soybean, palm fruit, canola, and olive oils), water, contains less than 2% of whey (from milk), salt, natural and artificial flavor, vegetable monoglycerides and sorbitan ester of fatty acids (emulsifiers), soy lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, Vitamin D, dl-a-tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), lactic acid, beta carotene color, and potassium sorbate, and calcium disodium EDTA (to preserve freshness).

Looking at these ingredients further I can tell you that the soybean and canola oils are almost certainly genetically modified. The natural and artificial flavor is where that “buttery taste you crave” part comes in. The oy lecithin is yet another genetically modified ingredient. The vitamin A palmitate is a synthetic form of vitamin A and therefore fake. The beta carotene color – the normal color for factory produced margarine like Smart Balance is a very unappetizing grey, so color is definitely needed here to fool the masses. The potassium sorbate is a supposedly safe food preservative that inhibits microbial growth. Safe at least until they find it isn’t. The calcium disodium EDTA is an organic pollutant which breaks down in the environment into ethylenediamine triacetic acid and then diketopiperazine (try type that three times fast!). Diketopiperazine is a persistent organic pollutant, similar to PCBs and DDT. Not only does Smart Balance pollute the bodies of those who eat it, it pollutes the environment too! Who doesn’t want to spread some DDT on their toast???

Speaking of, check out this ad campaign from the 1960’s

All of the big words aside and looking beyond my butter vs margarine example, it is my philosophy that real food is better than fake food. sure you can find a margarine that has 40 calories per serving vs butters 100 calories. When you are counting calories it is important to be mindful of how much of a food you are eating. You will need to figure that 100 calories of butter into your daily calorie count if you choose to eat that toast with butter. You can eat less butter and save yourself some calories. You can opt for unsweetened (be wary of “sugar free” labels, more chemical madness there), jams or preserves. If you have high cholesterol, guess what, butter is not a good choice for you but neither are the chemicals that you will find in the alternatives. DDT was FDA approved for use as a pesticide until 1972 when it was proven to be a known carcinogen.

There is just so much we don’t know, so much that we don’t even KNOW that we don’t know about what we are feeding ourselves and our kids.

If you are at all interested in this topic I highly suggest reading In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan.

I am officially getting off of my soapbox now. I actually didn’t intend to go on about this today, but it just sort of happened. Oh well.

I do want to end on a positive note! We had a GREAT first week of the Spring session in Bootcamp. I will be working on a new plan for classes next week. Remember to bring some weights that you find challenging – don’t underestimate yourselves!!!

Most of the time I am cooking two meals. And no I am not bothered by this at all. I cook a lot of rice, beans, veggies, homemade soups, veggies, fish and veggies 😉 for my hubby and me for dinner. My kids are not into these foods so much. I am not a “food pusher”. I don’t make my kids eat a plateful of something that makes them gag. I don’t want them to dread dinner time, I want them to look forward to it!

We have a “one bite rule” for new foods. We all must try new things, at least one bite. Sometimes I win and they love it, sometimes they dry heave. Either way, I always make sure that they know that I am happy they tried a new food and if they aren’t impressed with my culinary efforts, I assure them that I will cook the same food in a different way the next time that they try it.
And then they get to happily eat the food that makes their mouths and tummies happy.

I have been compiling a “go to” list of “kid-friendly-and-approved” (emphasis on the “and-approved”, as I have realized that just because a recipe claims to be kid-friendly, does NOT mean that my kids will eat it…).

On the top of the list is this recipe for two reasons. 1) My kids LOVE them, and 2) They are easy to make up in large batches and freeze ahead of time.

These nuggets are also pink slime free 😉

Baked Chicken Nuggets

16 oz (2 large) skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into even bit sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp olive oil
6 tbsp whole wheat Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tbsp panko
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray.

Put the olive oil in one bowl and the breadcrumbs, panko and parmesan cheese in another.

Season chicken with salt and pepper, then put in the bowl with the olive oil and mix well so the olive oil evenly coats all of the chicken.

Put a few chunks of chicken at a time into the breadcrumb mixture to coat, then on the baking sheet. Lightly spray the top with olive oil spray then bake 8 – 10 minutes. Turn over then cook another 4 – 5 minutes or until cooked though.

My kids have been bugging me for hot pretzels. I haven’t bought them in a very long time, as the list of ingredients on the package is just enormous. Up until recently I have been able to distract and redirect my kiddos appetites toward other, less processed treats. This week however, they were relentless, which led me to use the good ol’ Google machine. To my surprise I found a recipe for homemade hot pretzels. To add to this surprise I was shocked to find out that only five ingredients are required!

They are amazing. Delicious. WAY better than the frozen variety. We each ate one straight out of the oven, because that is the best time to eat anything. I then kept the rest in a Ziplock baggie on the counter, expecting that they would not last the week and warrant space in the freezer. I was correct.

Soft Pretzel Recipe

1 1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoons honey
Dissolve in water and let sit for 10 minutes

Then add:

1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
Mix thoroughly and knead for 5 minutes. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

After rising, roll pieces into ropes and shape as desired. Dip ropes in a baking soda water solution of 2 cups warm water and 2 tablespoons baking soda. Place on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet and let rise again for 1 hour. Bake in oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or less (until pretzels begin to turn brown and are cooked through).

I wish I took pictures of my finished product… as I learned that next time I will make the ropes thinner. There was a lot of rising and therefore my pretzels were more like pretzel rolls – still delicious though.

The image above is from the site that I got the recipe from, one of my favorites Super Healthy Kids

My kids LOVE mac n’ cheese and I severely despise of the dozens of unpronounceable ingredients listed on the back of the over-recognizable blue box found on grocery store shelves and pantry shelves across the nation. So I have been making a homemade version of this convenience version of the ever popular comfort food that I think everyone secretly loves. The best part about my version of mac n cheese is that it is just as easy to make and takes only as long as it would take you to crack open that little blue box and rip into that vacuum sealed pouch of orange powdery something….

Try this recipe out the next time you need some quick mac n’ cheese! I guarantee you will love it!

Whole Wheat Mac N’Cheese

INGREDIENTS

1 – 1 ½ cups of dried whole-wheat macaroni noodles, boiled according to package directions
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1 cup milk
1 cup grated cheese (you can use any type of cheese…we usually use sharp white cheddar or a mix of different cheeses works well too)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional topping: grated parmesan cheese or whole-wheat breadcrumbs
DIRECTIONS

Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat.
Whisk in the flour and keep whisking for about 1 – 2 minutes until the roux (which is equal parts flour and butter or oil) starts to darken, but does not burn.
Turn the heat down to low and quickly whisk in the milk. Turn the heat back up to medium and keep whisking until the mixture starts to thicken and all lumps of flour are dissolved.
Stir in the grated cheese and once it melts mix in the cooked noodles. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately and enjoy!

I do not encourage you to eat the entire pot of cheesy goodness, though it definitely tastes good enough to do so. It is cheese and butter and milk… all are high in calories BUT, if you are looking for mac n’ cheese for dinner, this recipe, with all of its pronounceable and identifiable ingredients, this is by far a better option than the blue box version.

My Farm!!!

Posted: March 5, 2012 in Nutrition, Whole Foods and Organics

My family and I have done a lot of thinking lately about how we feel about the foods that we eat. We have decided that high quality, organic, local produce is top priority. This decision led me on a search for a local farm that was certified organic and had a reliable, stable, fruit and vegetable share program already established.

As the fates had it, I was invited to a PartyLite party at a friends house in which I got to chatting with a friend of a friend and we got on the topic of organics and such. You know, because that stuff always comes up, right? Anyway, as it happens, her family was a part of an organic vegetable share with a local farm and she was super happy with it. I researched it (and researched, and researched, and researched some more….) and am super excited to start the season!!!

Here are the details. I paid for the season’s bounties upfront. Flat rate. No matter what “Big Brother” is up to during the summer, my produce is paid for in full already. Yay!! Once a week (I chose Tuesday) after 3:30 I pack my little family up into my Jeep and we head on down to the farm. There we will gather all of our goodies up that were picked earlier that day. Looking at the list of veggies and fruits that were available last year, I am expecting my family to be well fed throughout this summer and well into the winter!

Here is an image from the site that shows one weeks worth of harvest for one family….

Here is the link to the farm. Check it out! I am SO anxious to for the spring to get here so I can gather up all of the fresh goodness from the farm, and when I do, I will be sure to share with you my experiences!

Thorpes Organic Family Farm