Tag Archives: gluten free

Kale Salad

Kale Salad - In Her Chucks

This summer I fell in love…with kale.

Since subscribing to my CSA 3 years ago, I have been slowly warming up to this leafy green vegetable.  But over the last few months, my affection for kale has reached a whole new level.  Whether I am munching on kale chips, drinking kale juice, or dipping some sliced cucumbers in kale pesto, I just can’t get enough.  But this salad is definitely my go-to recipe.  And I have been going to it A LOT this summer.

What makes this recipe so good is the bright and complex flavors.  There is something about the mixture of sesame seed oil and soy sauce that sends me over the edge.  Add a few squeezes of fresh citrus and minced garlic and the dressing is nothing short of a party in your mouth.  And then of course, who doesn’t love the extra texture of toasted sesame seeds and perfectly ripe avocado perched on top of these leaves of glory.  Do you catch my drift?  It really is a healthy slice of heaven ;)

Ingredients

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp soy sauce

1 clove garlic, minced and smashed into a paste (or use a garlic press)

4 tbsp toasted sesame oil

3 avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Place kale into a large serving bowl.  Add remaining ingredients (except for the avocado) and toss to coat.  Gently fold avocados into the salad and season with salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe makes a good portion of salad.  If you are anything like me, you might be able to scarf it all down in one sitting.  But if you find yourself with left overs, the good news is that it keeps well in the fridge overnight.  So feel free to enjoy it the next day for lunch.  However, if you plan on sharing it with friends for a bbq or potluck, you might want to double the recipe because I can promise you the salad will be gone within minutes.

I have to admit, I feel terrible that it took me so long to befriend kale.  But now that we are clearly BFFs I have no doubt we will be making up for lost time.

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Raspberry Chicken with Homemade Rice Pilaf

Raspberry Chicken with Homemade Rice Pilaf - In Her Chucks

Fresh fruit.  It’s one of my weaknesses.  I can’t won’t go a day without it.  In fact, I love it so much, I do my best to incorporate it into every meal of the day.  Breakfast…Homemade crepes topped with fresh berries.  For a snack…Apples slices with cheese.   Lunch…Strawberry Salad with Grilled Chicken.   A meal isn’t complete without a piece of fruit in the mix.

But when it comes to dinner, some people might find incorporating a piece of seasonal fruit into their meal prep a bit of a challenge.  Sure, you can enjoy a piece of fruit as a healthy dessert but I’m talking about throwing sweet and delicious fruits right into your savory dishes.  I tend to have a habit of it (Braised Pork with Fuyu Persimmons, Sole with Grapefruit-Thyme Butter, Citrus Crusted Tilapia with Blood Orange Salsa, and the list goes on and on) but this is the dish that started it all.

My mom has been making Raspberry Chicken for us as long as I can remember.  It’s one of my most requested dishes when I go to visit.  Not only is it absolutely delicious but it is the perfect way to celebrate the beauty of one of my favorite summer fruits…raspberries!

And because this meal wouldn’t be complete without a side of homemade rice pilaf, I have included that recipe for you too :)

Raspberry Chicken

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup onion, chopped

4 tbsp raspberry vinegar

1/4 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp canned crushed tomatoes

1 cup fresh raspberries, plus more for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Flat leaf parsley, chopped

Preparation

1.  Melt butter in the skillet.  Season chicken breasts with a bit of salt and pepper and cook for about 3 minutes per side or until lightly browned.  Remove from skillet and keep warm.

2.  Add the onions to the skillet and cook covered over low heat until tender (about 15 minutes)

3.  Add the vinegar to the skillet with the onions and raise the heat cooking uncovered (stirring occasionally) until vinegar is reduced to a syrupy spoonful.

4.  Whisk in the chicken stock, cream and crushed tomatoes and simmer for 1 minute.  Return the chicken breasts to the skillet and gently simmer in the sauce basting often.  Cook until the chicken is done and sauce is reduced and thickened (about 5 minutes).

5.  Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and keep warm.   Add the raspberries to the sauce and cook over low heat for 1 minute.  Do not stir the berries with the spoon, just swirl them in the sauce.

6.  Serve the chicken on a plate with the sauce along with the rice pilaf (recipe below).  Garnish with flat leaf parsley.

Recipe slightly adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook

Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp butter

1 medium yellow onion, minced

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

2 cups of chicken broth

3/4 cup basmati rice

1/4 cup spaghetti sticks, broken into 1-1 1/2 in pieces

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped

Preparation

Heat oil and butter together in a large skillet.  Add onions and cook 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for one minute, stirring frequently.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add rice and spaghetti, stirring to combine with garlic and onions.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until rice and pasta begin to lightly brown.  Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Once the liquid is boiling, turn heat down to simmer and cover, cooking for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper if needed.  Fluff the cooked rice mixture and add chopped parsley.

What I love most about this meal is how simple and easy it is to make.  However, the complex flavors and beautiful presentation are sure to impress both your family or favorite dinner guests.

So hurry out to your local farmer’s market and pick up a pint (or two) of raspberries and get cooking.  Your taste buds will be sure to thank you :)

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What’s in the Box? #73

What's in the Box?

 

It’s 1am and I can’t sleep.  I pretty much feel like a kid on Christmas Eve.  “Why?” you might ask?  Well, tomorrow morning Harper and I are heading out to our CSA farm for a tour.  A dream come true really.  I can’t wait to see and smell all the glorious food, meet the wonderful people who work there and take a sneak peek at whats to come for the summer growing season.  Looking forward to sharing all the details with you later.

But enough about my insomnia.  Let’s get down to business…

Last week we had 13 link ups.  And two of them included ramps!  Even though week after week I have a variety of delicious and coveted fruits and veggies, I have yet to receive ramps.  But if I ever do, I will be sure to make Lettuce Never Squash Our Love’s Chicken Stir Fry with Ramps and Asparagus or Salted Plates Asparagus and Ramps Pizza.  Another dish I am lusting over is Agrigirl’s Roasted Beet Tart.  Looks absolutely divine!  Thanks to everyone who linked up and shared their goodies this week.  Keep the yummy recipes and pretty produce pics coming :)

Speaking or pretty produce pics…ain’t she a beauty?

What's in the Box? #73- In Her Chucks

I’m seeing green :)  And I love every bit of it.  I have to start with that giant Nappa cabbage.  It literally is the biggest piece of produce I have ever received.  Which means I am going to need a few ideas on how to prepare it.  Looking around on the internet I am thinking about a stir fry, maybe a soup and possibly a salad.  So many delicious options, I can’t go wrong.  And many of those recipes include fresh cilantro so I can go ahead and utilize two veggies with one recipe :)

I am loving these strawberries.  I went away for the weekend so I haven’t been able to finish off my last batch.  So in order to catch up I am going to have to make a few strawberry desserts.  I have that Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake on my mind, or possibly some Strawberry Scones.  Or I might go out on a limb and try something new.  Stay tuned to find out.

I am so excited to get another batch of carrots because while I was away this weekend Harper and I had the privilege of having dinner with a wonderful couple that prepared a killer meal.  I was able to find the recipe and have big plans to recreate it this weekend.  I can’t wait to share it with you guys.

Artichokes are nothing new to me, but I have never received such big ones in my box before.  I am usually stuck with the baby ones which are cute but don’t have much to enjoy.  These bad boys will keep our tummies happy for a while.  With Memorial Day around the corner, these will go great on the grill with an array of dipping sauces.  Yum!

I have recently gotten into breakfast sandwiches.  My friend Jenny introduced me to gluten-free bagels and they are simply amazing.  They are light and fluffy and make the perfect foundation for a veggie egg scramble complete with green onions, spinach and topped with cheese and fresh avocado.  Talk about a breakfast of champions.

And finally sugar snap peas.  A family favorite.  Tomorrow I plan on whipping up Pork Chops and Sugar Snap Peas with Mint Julep Glaze with a side of Mashed Red Potatoes.  I can taste it already :)

Your turn:  What are some of your favorite ways to use the fruits and veggies shown?  Any special recipe, tips or tricks you’d like to share?  Looking forward to reading your responses :)

Linking up for the first time?  Click here for more info…and Welcome!

PS:  Don’t forget to tell your readers about the party by linking back to this post and grabbing the official “What’s in the Box?” button at the bottom of my blog.  Thanks!


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Tomato Basil Bisque

Tomato Basil Bisque - In Her Chucks

I am a meat eater through and through.  No meal is complete without a big lump of protein on my plate.  So when I went through my Fresh Start Challenge meal plan and saw that there was a vegetarian soup on the menu, I was skeptical.  I mean, I love veggies, and I love soup, but can’t we toss some chicken in there to boost up the heartiness factor?  Well let me just say, this soup is perfect just as it is!  Not only was it incredibly delicious, but it was definitely hearty!  The quinoa and goat cheese help to bulk up the texture and give it enough protein to keep you full and satisfied without weighing you down.

Ingredients

4 large carrots, chopped,

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tsp Tamari

2 tbsp coconut oil, divided

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

28 oz can whole tomatoes, drained

1 cup organic marinara sauce

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, chopped

2 tsp honey

1 1/2 cups coconut milk

1/4 tsp Celtic Sea Salt (more or less to taste)

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Dashes of dried thyme, rosemary and oregano

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

2 cups chicken broth

Prepared quinoa

Goat cheese

Preparation

1.  In a large soup pot, heat the Tamari and 1 tbsp coconut oil over med-high heat.

2.  Stir in the chopped onions, celery and bell peppers and sauté for about 5 minutes before adding the garlic, carrots and about 1/2 cup chicken.  Sauté another 5 minutes.

3.  Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, basil, broth, salt, marinara sauce and remaining spices (wait to add the remaining 1 tbsp coconut oil and nutritional yeast until the very end before pureeing).

4.  Let soup come to a boil and cook on low-med heat for about 1/2 hour, allowing all of the flavors to meld together.

5.  Pour all of the contents from the soup pan into a blender, along with 1 tbsp coconut oil and the nutritional yeast.  Blend on high for about 30 seconds until smooth and creamy.

6.  Portion out soup into bowls and add prepared quinoa, mix until combined.  Top with crumbled goat cheese.

Recipe slightly adapted from Amazing Grass:  Fresh Start Challenge

What I love most about this dish is how super duper easy it is to make.  Just throw everything in a pot, let it hang out for a bit and then toss it in the blender.  And with enough soup for 4-5 servings, there is plenty to share or hide away in the freezer for later ;)

PS:  Congratulations to Tiffany T for winning the Amazing Grass Giveaway!  And a big thank you to everyone who participated.  Cheers to a Fresh Start!

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Conscious Box: Review and Giveaway

In Her Chucks - Conscious Box Review and Giveaway

I love surprises!  Especially when they come from my good friends at Conscious Box :)  Nothing makes me happier than an unexpected subscription box delivered straight to my door.  Filled with pure and sustainable products to nourish your body, quench your thirst, satisfy your sweet tooth, or save the planet, Conscious Box continues to outdo themselves with the quantity and quality of the goodies they offer.

I first fell in love with Conscious Box about a year ago.  I have always had an obsession with subscription boxes but Conscious Box took it to a whole new level.  Conscious Box encourages you to live life to the fullest by offering green and clean products that are sure to enhance your wellbeing.  And since the New Year is an opportunity for many of us to start fresh, this month’s Conscious Box is all about creating and continuing healthy habits.

The night I received my box, I had one of my closest girlfriends over for dinner.  I was excited to share the awesome goodies with her.  We made sure to try everything and give it a thorough review.  Out of all 11 products, we are officially fans of each and every one!  Check out what I am going wild for in my Conscious Box this month…

1.   Happy Squeeze Fruit and Veggie Twist: Blueberry, Apple & Purple Carrot–  Harper has never been a fan of pureed foods.  In the beginning of her solid food journey I would make them for her myself.  But when she refused to eat it I began looking around for other alternatives.  That is when I discovered that pureed baby food now comes in cute and convenient little pouches.  Well, even with their fancy flavors and colorful packaging, Harper was still not interested in purees.  Which meant I was left to eat the remaining baby food pouches that were sitting in my pantry.  And I’m not ashamed to admit I loved every single one.  But apparently I am not the only mama who was sneaking into my baby’s food stash because Happy Squeeze now makes an entire smoothie line for adults.  And they are AMAZING!!!  They are perfect to hide away in your purse, car or desk for moments of hunger and offer tons of vitamins and nutrients.  Loving this new addiction :)

2.  Nutiva Organic Hemp Seed– I became hip to hemp seeds over the summer.  And they are by far my favorite super food.  For such a small seed, they pack a major punch.  And they are so easy to add to any meal or beverage.  Sprinkle them on your salad for an extra crunch, blend them up in a smoothie for additional protein, or shovel them by the handful in your mouth for an afternoon snack.  And just in case you need a little inspiration for what to do with these teeny tiny seeds of love, check out Nutiva’s extensive collection of delicious hemp recipes.

3. Maakoa Koopuwa Superfruit Beverage– I am not one to drink my calories, but I am all for drinking your vitamins.  This antioxidant beverage not only tastes divine but it will make you feel like a total rock star!  Drinking only 1-2 ounces 2x/day provides your body with B1, B2, and B3 vitamins, essential amino and fatty acids, which help to boost your immune system, lower cholesterol levels and increases your energy and stamina.  Now I will drink to that!

4.  Hail Merry Chocolate Macaroons–  Ever since my clean eating journey began, I have been hooked on these.  They are free of refined sugar, grains and animal products and are dangerously addictive.  And let’s just put it out there…I don’t even like coconut!!!  Wouldn’t know it was the main ingredient unless you told me.  If you haven’t tried these, you need to.  No one likes to feel deprived when they are eating healthy but with these all your sweet dreams will come true.  And when Freddie and I jump back on the clean eating band wagon next week, you can bet your bottom dollar these chocolate gems will be my saving grace.

5.  Peeled Snacks Apple Clusters: Berry Crunch–  If you ever find me in the line at Starbucks, I will most likely be holding a Cheese and Fruit Bistro Box in one hand and a bag of Peeled Mango Snacks in the other.  They are amazing and are quite often responsible for satisfying my relentless mango craving.   So when I saw this bag of berry goodness in my box I couldn’t wait to rip it open and scarf it down.  I popped one of the crunchy purple clusters in my mouth and was immediately transported to my childhood days at Palisades Park in front of the snack shop.  Nerds!  They taste like Nerds.  You know those sinfully delicious candies that are chock full of nothing but sugar and artificial food coloring.  Yuck!  (to the chemicals).  Yum! (to the flavor).  But these apple clusters are made with nothing but pure, organic ingredients.  Which makes me believe that these snacks would be the perfect thing to throw in a lunch box for both kids and adults to enjoy.

6.  Dr Singha’s Mustard Bath–  Wanna escape to a serene spa somewhere on a tropical island?  Look no further than this naturally healing and aromatic mustard bath.  I wish I had the pleasure of enjoying it but I have a thing about baths (total germaphone!)  Thankfully, Freddie was ready and willing to give it a go.  And according to how he looked (zenned out) and smelled (amazing) when he got out of his long and relaxing bath, he highly recommends it.  Slightly jealous, I hopped on the website and found this wonderful massage oil which I plan on using after a hot shower or if I am really lucky, Freddie will offer to use it the next time he gives me a foot rub (fingers crossed).

7.  Simply Straws–  Did you know that more than 500 million disposable plastic straws are used and disposed of in the US every day?  Shamefully, I am a contributor to that statistic.  But thanks to Simply Straws, I can make a difference.  With their reusable glass straws, Simply Straws is not only helping to reduce the amount of plastic we use but they are also saving your smile.  Created by a dental hygienist, these straws help people with problems such as teeth sensitivity, staining and erosion.  They come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes and fit perfectly in any cup you prefer.  I can’t wait to put mine to use and bring it with me wherever I go.

8. Dale’s Raw Raspberry Hazelnut Protein Bar– It’s no secret that most protein bars out there taste like cardboard.  Tough, flavorless and full of chemicals, what some view as “healthy” is really just a highly processed chunk of crap (does that sound harsh?).  But what if I told you that I found the most delicious, most pure, and simply the best protein bar on the face of the planet?  Dale’s Raw Protein Bars are not only made with all natural ingredients but they are packaged fresh each week, by hand, and shipped directly to your door (which means that they haven’t been sitting on a shelf collecting dust for God knows how long).  They have 12 delicious flavors to choose from of which I am looking forward to trying the Graham Cracker and Vanilla Cashew :)

9.  Amazing Grass Kidz Superfood: Wild Berry–  I am pretty darn lucky that Harper LOVES her veggies.  But for most parents it can be a struggle to get their kids to eat healthy.  However, how many kids do you know that don’t like juice?  Well, the geniuses over at Amazing Grass have created a super delicious, superfood powder that when added to water creates a kid friendly beverage that will pack them full of three full servings of fruits and vegetables in one glass.  Pretty much sounds like magic, right?  Oh, did I mention it comes in Chocolate too?   Yeah, won’t have to worry about your kids meeting their daily recommended servings of fruits and veggies anymore.  Now that’s what I call winning!

10.  Bodhichitta Botanicals Wild & Free Lotion–  For my birthday, a very good friend of mine gifted me with a set of Nurture the Goddess Bodhichitta Botanicals.  When I get the chance to have a shower that lasts longer than 3 minutes, (which is usually on the weekends) I indulge myself with everything from the shower gel, body balm and lotion.  The scents of lavender, rose geranium and clary sage relax me, balance me and help me to take a moment for myself.  This Wild and Free Lotion is about to take that pampering session to a whole new level.  With the essence of patchouli and sweet orange this collection is invigorating, giving you the confidence to conquer the world.  I love the way this lotion made my skin feel.  So hydrated without leaving any oily residue.  And it feels good to know that their products are cruelty free, made without petroleum or synthetic preservatives, artificial colors or fragrances.  Just pure and natural ingredients.  The way skin care should be.

11.  PeopleTowels– Similar to my use of disposable straws, I have a terrible habit of overusing paper towels both in my home and when I am out and about.  But now I have support in breaking that habit and forming a new one.  PeopleTowels are an on-the-go sustainable alternative to paper towel waste.  It is simple a reusable hang towel made from organic cotton that is absorbent and quick drying.  I keep mine in my kitchen where I tend to do the most hand washing during my cooking escapades and I am excited about picking up a few more to put around my house and throw in my car or purse.  And with tons of designs to choose from, there is a style for everyone.  Or go ahead and make your own.  Just make sure you join me in kicking the paper towel habit and picking up the PeopleTowel habit :)

Looks like 2013 is going to be a great year.  And to thank you for your loyalty and support in 2012, Conscious Box is offering a free box to one lucky reader.  So here’s the scoop…

To enter: “Like” Conscious Box  and In Her Chucks on Facebook and leave a comment telling me that you have done so.

For additional entries…

1.  Subscribe to this blog and leave a comment telling me you have done so.  If you already subscribe to my blog, then leave me a comment telling me that you are already subscribed (and thanks for the support!).

2.  Follow @consciousbox on Twitter and leave a comment on this post letting me know you’ve done so.

3.  Pin this giveaway and comment here with a link to your post.

The more entries you have, the better your chances are to win.  The giveaway will close at 12:01 am on February 1st.  A winner will be randomly selected and announced on February 2nd.  Make sure to include your email address with your comment so that I can contact you if you win.

Good luck!

*Full Disclosure: Conscious Box did provide me with a box free of charge. I was not paid to write this post. With exception of some of the factual information given about the various products, all opinions regarding the products are my own and 100% honest.

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Turkey Pumpkin Chili

After a very long summer, temperatures have finally dropped down to the 60s. For those of you with “real seasons” this might seem like a joke, but for us Californians, 61 degrees is considered jacket weather. And I am proud to say, I actually put one on the other day (although before I knew it, the sun came out and it was warm again…but still, it was nice to “pretend” it was autumn for a bit).

As much as I would prefer the temperatures to stay at 75 degrees so I can run around in shorts and a t-shirt, there is something so sweet about the crisp autumn air. The green leaves have begun their transformation to yellow, orange and red, and the wind has picked up just enough to hear it rustling through the trees. It’s beginning to feel a lot like fall which means the weather is just right for a nice warm bowl of chili. And with Thanksgiving only 13 days away (yes, I am still counting), the addition of pumpkin makes this chili even more fun and festive.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped

2 bell peppers, chopped

1 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 pound ground turkey

1 (14.5 ounces) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid

1 (15 ounces) can pumpkin purée

1 cup water

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper, to taste

1 (15 ounces) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Preparation

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeño and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

Recipe slightly adapted from Whole Foods Market

I wish I could take credit for this delicious meal, but it was my lovely friend and neighbor who made it for us. One of the things I love most about where we live is doing impromptu family style meals with our neighbors. And since this recipe serves six it is the perfect dish to share with others.

For toppings, we went with a dollop of sour cream, a handful of shredded cheddar cheese and some chopped fresh cilantro. But feel free to get creative! Sliced green onions are always a favorite or if you really want to get wild, add some crumbled bacon :) The sky is the limit. Oh, and don’t forget to pair it with your preferred corn bread recipe. We served ours with corn bread muffins dressed with butter and honey. A nice sweet compliment to the heat of the chili.

Your turn: What is your favorite meal to prepare when the weather gets chilly? Do you have any special toppings that you like to add to your chili? Looking forward to reading your responses :)

 

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Guest Post: September Foodie PenPal Reveal

The Lean Green Bean

As I mentioned in my original September Foodie PenPal Reveal Post, the Foodie PenPal Program is open to blog readers as well as bloggers.  This month I was paired with a blog reader named Kristin Adams and was more than thrilled to pack up a box of goodies to send for her first Foodie PenPal experience.  Since Kristin doesn’t have a blog of her own to share her goodies on, she has offered to write a short guest post about what she received (and she even included some pics!).

So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Kristen Adams…

September is my first month participating in the Foodie Pen Pal program, and I’m already hooked.  I was very fortunate to get Heather from In Her Chucks as my pen pal.

I got an email from her within a day or so after the program started asking about my food preferences, dietary restrictions, allergies, etc.  We emailed a few times and then a couple of weeks later…..my box arrived!!  I was excited to open it and see what was in it.  My family gathered around the kitchen table, and we oooh’d and aaaah’d at what I got.
Heather’s theme was “Back to School”, so she sent Sour Apple Licorice.  I’m not a huge fan of really sour foods, but these were fantastic. They were coated in organic sugar which offset the slightly sour taste. I’ll be buying these!  She then sent a packet of Knorr Leek soup mix and a packet of Italian dressing mix, along with the recipe for a spinach dip. It makes quite a bit, so I’ll be making this when we have people over. I’m a big fan of dips so I can’t wait to try it.
She sent some quinoa pasta and a packet of cheese sauce mix to make macaroni and cheese.  I haven’t tried quinoa pasta before, and it was quite tasty.  The sauce mix was good and not overpowering.
In one of our emails, she asked if I drank tea or coffee.  I don’t drink coffee at all, but I do drink tea, so she sent me three packets of Teeccino, which is an organic herbal coffee. The drink is made like tea (bag and all), but smells more like coffee.  I was skeptical, but it was really yummy! It’s caffeine-free, which means I can drink it anytime, another bonus.
I got two packets of Justin’s Nut Butter, which I’ve always wanted to try.  I had the chocolate hazelnut flavor which tastes just like the filling in a Godiva chocolate. Amazing!  Another new food for me to buy.
She sent some Everything flavored pretzel chips, which are nice and crunchy.  The flavor is mild, so it’s great for satisfying the crunch craving I get.
The last item that even my husband was thrilled to see was the crepe mix.  He’s South African, and they used to make crepes when he was younger.  He says he hasn’t been able to find any mix here, so seeing this made him very happy.  He made them for breakfast on a weekend morning, and I’m not ashamed to admit, I ate way too many.  Thankfully, we have enough mix leftover for several more batches.
Thank you, Heather, for all my wonderful goodies!
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What I Ate Wednesday #7

When I grow up I want to be a product tester.  I have mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating.  Especially since my entire day of eats today was inspired by some new grocery store finds.

Yesterday, as I was doing my daily Facebook check-in, I came across a post that made me drool…Non-fat Pumpkin Greek Yogurt?  Yes please!  So I did what any normal human being would do.  I jumped in my car and headed to Trader Joes and picked up a few cartons of this seasonal delight (along with $80 worth of groceries).  Ah, the power of social media.

So what other goodies did I happen to bring home in those sturdy paper bags?  (I know, shame on me for not bringing my reusable bags…).  Well, the highlights included a jar of Mango Butter, a can of Coconut Cream, Udi’s Gluten Free Whole Gran Bread and bananas (had to buy something familiar…).  I was on a roll yesterday.  I had my product tester hat on and I was determined to try a handful of new things.  The result?  Pretty darn delicious…

Breakfast:

3 egg whiles, scrambled

 2 slices of Udi’s Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread with Mango Butter

1/2 grapefruit topped with 1 tbsp ground flaxseed

I am not normally a toast eater but between this gluten-free bread and mango butter, I could eat toast all day!  I love how surprisingly light this bread is and how the mango butter makes each bite seem like a mini vacation to Turks and Caicos (memories of my honeymoon…).  Even though the mango butter does have a tad bit of sugar in it, it’s a treat I am willing to cheat for :)

Snack #1:

2 lightly salted brown rice cakes topped with unsalted peanut butter and sliced banana

There is something about peanut butter and banana that just goes together.  It’s the perfect mid day treat.  I can remember my mom snacking on a banana smothered in peanut butter and sprinkled with granola as a kid.  She taught me so many healthy habits for which I am grateful.

Unexpected (but welcomed) Surprise!

1/2 of a Gluten Free Brownie

After music class today, the host offered everyone some gluten-free brownies.  Kind of hard to resist.  So I took half to munch on for the car ride home.  Chocolatey and delicious!

Lunch:

Homemade Persian Style Rice with 1/4 roasted chicken and mixed veggies

1 Dragon Fruit, sliced

I made a batch of this rice on Sunday.  I had been eyeing the recipe for a while now and was glad to finally give it a go.  It didn’t turn out as wonderfully as I had hoped it would (hence it’s not on the blog) but it’s good enough to incorporate in our daily meals.  Can’t go wrong with basmati rice and lentils.

I normally don’t buy produce at the grocery store because of my abundance of fresh fruit and veggies from my box, but after seeing some of this dragon fruit around the blogosphere I couldn’t help but pick one up on my recent visit to Whole Foods.  I only wished it tasted as wild and crazy as it looked.  A little underwhelming…

Dinner:

Mixed greens topped with short grain brown rice, carrots, feta cheese, tomato and guacamole and sautéed tofu with tahini dressing

Tuesdays is our night to eat out now that Harper has swimming in the evenings.  Tonight we enjoyed dinner with our good friends the Sewards.  We hopped on down to our favorite local restaurant for some healthy eats.  This salad was ginormous and definitely hit the spot :)

After Dinner Delight:

Homemade Vegan Sugar-Free Chocolate Mousse topped with a handful of Chocolate Granola

The inspiration to pick up the coconut cream at Trader Joe’s yesterday came from a friend of mine who is also practicing clean eating.  She had recently posted a pic on Instagram with some Homemade Vegan Sugar-Free Chocolate Mousse and I was intrigued enough to try making it on my own.  I am working on perfecting the recipe and look forward to sharing it with you soon.

So how am I doing with my “falling into good habits?”.  Overall, I continue to be proud of my efforts.  I find that having a plan for each day helps me to remain successful on my clean eating journey.  Also having a few different options to satisfy my naughty cravings keeps my sweet tooth in check.

Hope everyone has a great rest of the week!  I will be busy counting down the days until my 30th birthday (eek!).

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!  You only have a few days left to get your entries in.  Remember to leave a comment on the original post letting me know that you have completed the tasks.  Your comment acts are your entry into the giveaway.  Good luck!  

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Clean Eating: Round 2/Day 3 & 4

Food.  We all need it to live.  But what we choose to put in our mouths can either build us up or break us down.  Never before did I fully comprehend the mantra “you are what you eat” until I began this Clean Eating journey.  But with so many temptations out there, it can be hard to follow through with your best intentions.  That is why this meal plan is so helpful for me.  It keeps me on track by offering me a strict framework.  It also allows my body to detox from the yucky foods that I have enjoyed in the past.  And what I am finding is that the longer I go without those foods, the less I crave them and ultimately, the better I feel.  This meal plan has introduced me to cleaner versions of my favorite foods, helping me to make better choices in the future.  And the last few days have been a good example of this.  Check out what I have been stuffing my face with lately…

1.  Breakfast:  Peanut Butter Teff Porridge (Toast 1/2 cup teff on medium-high heat for 1 t0 2 minutes.  Add 1 1/2 cups water, reduce heat to a low boil and cook, stirring, for 20 minutes.  Combine 1/2 cup cooked teff with 1 banana, smashed, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 tbsp unsalted peanut butter and 1 tsp honey)

2.  Snack #1:  1 cup Cream of Tomato Soup, 1 oz mozzarella cheese

3.  Lunch:  Quinoa Confetti (3 oz chicken breast, chopped, 1 cup cooked quinoa, 1/2 cup steamed corn, 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning)

4.  Snack #2:  2 cups cubed cantaloupe topped with 1/2 cup cottage cheese.

5.  Dinner:  Seafood Salad (4 oz bass, seasoned and broiled, over 2 cups each spinach and arugula, 1 cup chopped grape tomatoes, 2 slices red onion, 2 redskin potatoes, chopped and steamed tossed with 2 tsp red wine vinegar and 1 tsp olive oil.

Highlights:  It’s hard to pick one highlight today, since everything was so yummy.  But I am most excited about my new favorite grain.  Teff.  It made for a delicious breakfast and I am looking forward to learning new ways to prepare it!

Lowlights:  No lowlights today!  Everything was great :)

1.  Breakfast:  Melon Smoothie (1/2 frozen banana, 1 cup watermelon, 1 cup spinach, 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup water, 1 tbsp vanilla protein powder) and 1 hard boiled egg.

2.  Snack #1:  15 Beanitos Black Bean Chips with 1/4 cup hummus.

3.  Lunch:  1 serving Italian Meatball Casserole served atop 3/4 cup cooked whole wheat penne and 1 cup each green beans, diced red bell pepper and diced Vidalia onion sautéed in 1 tsp olive oil.

4.  Snack #2:  Vanilla Nectarine Treat (1/2 Barbara’s Shredded Wheat biscuit, crushed, 1 nectarine, pitted and chopped, 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 tsp vanilla and 10 whole almonds, chopped.

5.  Dinner:  Asian Tofu Bowl (4 oz tofu, cubed, 1 zucchini, sliced, 1 carrot, sliced, 1 cup rice and 1 tsp soy sauce)

Highlights:  I am in LOVE with this Melon Smoothie.  I was a little hesitant at first because I am usually not a fan of melon flavored things (although I enjoy eating melon as is).  But this smoothie was A.MAZ.ING!!!  I will be making this over, and over, and over again.  And I’m lucky enough that it appears again on this meal plan.  Yay, me!

Lowlights:  No lowlights today either.  This meal plan ROCKS!

Whether it’s because I’m now considered a seasoned veteran or because I haven’t had to eat any canned salmon this time around, Clean Eating is no longer feeling like a sacrifice for me.  I am completely satisfied after every meal and don’t feel the least bit deprived.  This round is helping me to build the confidence I need to move forward with this new lifestyle and embrace change.  As long as I can come up with some Clean Eating desserts, life will be grand :)

 

 

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Healthy Surprise

My addiction continues…I’m hooked on yet another subscription box.  But this box is different.  This box is filled with healthy, delicious snacks that are natural, vegan and gluten-free.  So you can enjoy yourself without feeling guilty.  And trust me…you will indulge!

Healthy Surprise is a service that delivers packages of delicious snacks directly to your door on a monthly basis.  All of the products are natural, vegan and gluten-free.  Similar to other subscription boxes I have tried in the past, each month’s box boasts a different assortment of sweet and savory snacks, allowing customers to be introduced to a variety of new products and brands.

The name for this company is perfect.  Not only do they encourage and support a healthy lifestyle, but truth be told, I was very surprised at how yummy everything was.  As someone with a serious sweet tooth, I had reservations about some of the cookies and bars.  Could something that was good for me actually satisfy my sugar habit (which, by the way, I am trying desperately to kick…)?  The answer is yes…100 times over…YES!

I am so excited to share these amazing goodies with you I can’t help but dive right in.  So here it goes…

Bare Fruit: Granny Smith Apple Chips– I have been a fan of apple chips for quite some time now.  My mom used to pack them in our lunches growing up.  So it was really nice to take a walk down memory lane as Harper and I enjoyed a few handfuls.  Filled with tons of fiber and vitamins, these chips are a great way to satisfy your snack craving while fulfilling your “apple a day” quota.

Bliss Bar: Honey Gold–  I am so in love with the Bliss Bar, I wish I had an entire case full.  Then again…I might end up with a tummy ache if I ate them all at once (because I have officially lost all self-control…).  Not only are these things ridiculously delicious, but they are packed with everything that is good for your body.  Protein rich and filled with potent energy enhancing superfoods, essential enzymes and immune enhancing properties, this tiny little snack is more than a yummy treat.  I can’t wait to get my hands on some more…

Living Intentions: Gone Nuts! Thai Curry Lemon Cashews, Almonds and Coconuts– If I wasn’t a total wimp in the heat department, I would scarf this down by the handful.  But unfortunately, I just can’t hang when it comes to spice.  Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but taste it.  Once I got past the fact that my mouth was literally on fire (only because I am true amateur), I was impressed by the savory curry taste.  For those who enjoy snacks that are full of flavor, this is the perfect choice for you.  I’m looking forward to checking out the Sesame Teriyaki or Raw Cacao Brazil Nuts.  Those variations are more my speed :)

Hail Merry: Vanilla Maple Almonds–  Ever tried a nut that tasted like cookie dough?  Yeah, these babies are THAT good!  And they are good for you too.  Full of oleic acid, these snacks can actually improve cholesterol profile, reduce inflammation and make skins and hair more radiant.  What’s not to love about these things?

Happy Hemp– Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious and delicious foods on earth.  They are full of protein, fiber and essential amino and heart healthy fatty acids.  Adding a sprinkle of hemp seeds to your ordinary meals can elevate them to super-food status without changing the flavor.  I have had hemp seeds before but wasn’t aware of their amazing benefits.  I can’t wait to make hemp seeds a part of my daily diet.  Starting with this smoothie recipe.

Home Free: Vanilla Mini Cookies– I have officially turned into the gluten-free cookie monster!  These vanilla mini cookies are to die for.  Good thing I received two bags, because Freddie and I were having a hard time sharing with each other :)  Multi-award winning (I can see why…) these cookies are free of the top eight allergens.  Which means they can be enjoyed by all!

Oskri: Coconut Bar Cherry– My dad is the try coconut lover in the family, but to my surprise, this bar wasn’t too bad.  What usually turns me off about coconut is its gritty texture.  But this bar was soft, chewy and smooth.  With a variety of flavors to choose from, there is sure to be one that tickles your fancy.  I am drooling over the Mango and Pineapple.  Talk about a tropical vacay in your mouth!

Skinny Crisps: Cinnamon Crisps– When you offer your guests a bag of Cinnamon Crisps and it comes back empty, that means that they were good right?  Tonight ended up being an impromptu movie night at our house and these were the perfect after meal treat.  Similar to a cinnamon graham cracker without the added junk, these yummy snacks are low in carbs so they have little effect on your blood sugar.  Which means you can satisfy your sweet tooth without your body even knowing it…where were these when I was pregnant?

Two Moms in the Raw: Cranberry Nut Bar– Described as a cinnamon roll without the roll, this bar is a great combination of nuts, fruit and spices.  A perfect pairing of sweet and salty, I also can’t get enough of the contrast of crunchy and chewy.  I have tried my fair share of fruit and nut bars in the past, but this one is by far the best.  Full of flavor and healthy goodness, it’s the perfect treat any time of day.

At first glance, if you would have told me that I was going to love every single item in this box, I wouldn’t have believed you.  As much as I consider myself a healthy person, I have my reservations about going raw, vegan and gluten-free.  I love my carbs, I love my meat, I love my sugar (all in moderation of course…).  And most of all, I don’t want to feel deprived.  Well, this experience has clearly opened up my eyes to a whole new world.  These snacks have proved to me that you can enjoy yummy treats while eating well.  I am truly inspired.

Thank you Healthy Surprise, for educating me on all of the nutritious and delicious snacking options that exist out there.  I couldn’t be more happy with my introduction to your subscription service.  I appreciate your commitment to natural, vegan and gluten-free foods, and your desire to educate others about the wonderful benefits of eating well.

Interested in changing your snacking habits?  Click here for more information on the four different subscription boxes that Healthy Surprise currently offers.

* Full Disclosure:  Healthy Surprise provided me with a Starter Box free of charge.  I was not paid to write this post.  With exception of some of the factual information given about the various products, all opinions regarding the products are my own and 100% honest.

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