Meal planning and grocery shopping…two tasks that can stand between people and healthy eating. Some people find meal planning and grocery shopping to be a wonderful experience, others loathe the task. If you loathe it, simply aren’t real good at it or just don’t have the time, there are businesses out there designed to help you.
In my last post, I gave Blue Apron a try. This week, I tried Hello Fresh. The options are little different with Hello Fresh. There are 3 baskets to choose from: Vegetarian, Original and Kid Friendly. There is also the option of feeding 2 or 4. There was no pescatarian option like with Blue Apron, but I did like that the vegetarian box was a slight bit cheaper. In addition to no fish option, there are also no meal substitutions for the vegetarian box. I’m not a picky eater, so this wasn’t a big deal for me, but I can imagine it would be for some.
Other than that, things were very similar with a couple exceptions. While Blue Apron packaged all ingredients together and I had to sort them depending on what meal they belonged with, Hello Fresh packages each meal separately in boxes that fit easily into the refrigerator. Blue Apron meals seemed rather large to me, while Hello Fresh seemed to offer more reasonable sized entrees. While both had way too much packaging, I did like that Hello Fresh assumed I would have butter and flour rather than supplying me with wasteful plastic containers of just a small amount of these pantry staples. However, I must mention that I was a bit let down with the ingredient quality of Hello Fresh. The ear of corn that was included was usable, but clearly not overly fresh and the package of fresh thyme was off colored and moldy. Luckily I have thyme growing in my herb garden so it wasn’t a big deal for me to replace it.
My Hello Fresh meals were…. Stuffed Zucchini Boats (best zucchini boats I’ve ever had), Peach and Mozzarella Flatbread (sounded good, but the flavor fell flat), and Zesty Corn & Red Bean Salad (I will surely make this one again!). As I put this post together I received a 2nd Hello Fresh delivery with these dishes: Caramelized Veggie Skewers with Corn Relish and Couscous, Peach & Nectarine Orzo Salad with Feta, Cucumber and Mint, and Sicilian Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew with Couscous. These sound pretty yummy, don’t they?
Overall, I was pleased with both companies, I would recommend both. But which would work best for you? It depends on what you are looking for. However, both offer great deals on the first shipments, so you can give them a try and see which you prefer!
Try them out, let me know what you think.
We are well into Autumn, the temperatures are starting to drop, and Cold and Flu season is right around the corner. Today, I started one of my favorite cold & flu prevention / remedies….Fire Cider. This recipe came from my herbal teacher and mentor, Rosemary Gladstar. I love this recipe so much, I talk about it in almost every herbal class I teach!
Are you wondering yet, what exactly is Fire Cider? It is a delicious and spicy vinegar based tincture. It can be used in salad dressings or simply eaten by the spoonful to ward off those nasty viruses. Wondering what is in Fire Cider that kills viruses?
Garlic, Onion, Horseradish, Ginger & Cayenne…and raw, unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV).
These ingredients will certainly kill what ails you! Don’t worry too much about amounts…just peel and chop a bunch of each (for the cayenne, just use an inch of a fresh pepper or a teaspoon or so of dried pepper flakes). Fill a mason jar with your chopped ingredients and cayenne, then pour in ACV to fully cover them. Put on a lid and shake it around a bit.
Now we wait. It typically takes 3-6 weeks (shaking every day or two) for all of the herbal goodness to leave the plant material and fortify your ACV. You will notice the chopped roots and bulbs start breaking down and looking a bit spent by the end of the process. When you deem it complete, simply strain the vinegar and put it in a bottle or pretty cruet.
When you notice people around you coughing and blowing their nose, or when you feel that scratchiness in your throat or tightness in your lungs, take a TBSP of the vinegar once or twice a day, until you feel the threat pass! Don’t welcome those sick bugs into your body – let them know they are unwanted.
The flavor is potent, but eventually you get used to it. However, if you are sensitive to strong flavors, feel free to dilute it in a small glass of water.
Stay healthy and happy!
People often ask me for healthy and simple meal ideas. One of my favorites is Nicoise salad, because it is mostly plant-based, easy to throw together with just a little forethought, it’s filling and easily modifiable.
Let start with the classic version:
Greens, dressed with a simple mixture of lemon, white wine vinegar, mustard and olive oil.
Boiled egg, sliced or quartered.
Small boiled potatoes.
Blanched Green beans.
Olives and/or radishes.
As is, it is a delicious salad, full of veggies, protein, a little starch and a lot of deliciousness. However, for those of us who like to push the rules, there are several variations you can make within these basic guidelines of this delicious salad. Here are a few suggestions:
Greens – get creative. Why use just one lettuce type? You could use green leaf lettuce, bib lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, beat greens, kale, romaine, arugula or any combination of these.
Egg- it could be hard boiled, soft boiled, poached or even fried (over easy or sunny side up).
Boiled potatoes – use left over baked potato, saute some with onion or use cubed sweet potato.
Beans – try blanched asparagus, broccoli or snow peas.
Tuna – good canned tuna will work, or you could use slices of seared sushi grade tuna or even some leftover salmon.
Tomatoes – quartered or chucked tomatoes are the norm, but you could use grape tomatoes or a yellow heirloom variety.
Olive/Radishes – there are lots of varieties to choose from for both of these. You could also slice cooked beets, or use sliced raw turnip.
For the dressing you can zest it up with garlic, thyme, parsley, basil or use lime juice instead of lemon.
I bet you already thought of some other options I didn’t even mention. Any combination of these will create a similar, but unique version of this classic salad; all very healthy and delicious. Try one this week and let me know what you think about it! Inspire me!
Here's to healthy and delicious meals!!!
The number one issue my clients face, is trying to get enough vegetables in their diet. This seems to be due mostly to the fact that we feel too busy and overwhelmed to cook homemade meals. People often turn to fast food or take out, and when they do cook at home, they turn to processed and packaged foods.
I try to occasionally post recipes here to inspire you to eat more real food…especially veggies.
This meal was inspired by a facebook post I saw recently, about substituting a Portobello mushroom for your next burger. It occurred to me that this is the perfect starting place for a quick, very veggie meal…exactly what I need on my meal plan and I think you’ll enjoy it too!
Heat the oven to 400 degrees while you lube up your mushrooms and some bell pepper with olive oil and a little salt & pepper. You could grill them as well, but baking allows you to fix the rest of the meal while they are baking.
Let them bake about 30 minutes, until tender. While they are baking, chop some red onion, slice a tomato, wash some lettuce leaves and prepare your rolls. I used whole wheat rolls.
I also took this time to chop up some cauliflower florets, and steam with a little water flavored with curry powder. The microwave is perfect for this.
I also peeled and sliced some cucumber and tossed with soy sauce, a splash of sesame oil and a splash of rice vinegar.
Assemble the burger with a little mayo or hot sauce and enjoy!
This meal is packed with veggies and oh, so tasty!!!!
Give it a try! Your body and your taste buds will thank you!
I was walking through the grocery store, looking for something to add to my pantry for quick, weeknight meals. For me, this can be a little difficult because it must not only be quick and delicious, it must also be healthy and vegetarian. Walking down the organic aisle, I found this interesting pasta sauce….Organic Butternut Squash pasta sauce. So what did I do with it? I made butternut squash & whole wheat pasta…
I chopped an onion and half a poblano pepper, which I sauteed until just tender...then added minced garlic.
Once the onions were soft, I added cubed butternut squash. I covered and allowed to cook through until tender, while I brought water to a boil for the pasta.
While the pasta was cooking, I added the sauce and some chopped fresh spinach and warmed through. When the pasta was done, I just drained it and added to the sauce mixture.
30-40 minutes start to finish and it was healthy, delicious and packed with veggie goodness...and I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow too!!!!
Remember, healthy dinners can be delicious; and vegetarian meals can be something more than salad!!!!
I hope this recipe inspires you to try something new and healthy this week!
I promised a series of blogs about simple things you can do to move in the direction of holistic wellness. I’ve struggled with choosing what to write about first. There are so many things to choose from, so I decided to pick something very simple, but with multiple benefits.
One of the easiest things you can do to move toward a lifestyle that embraces holistic wellness, is to start you day off with a glass of lemon water.
First and foremost, when you wake up in the morning you are slightly dehydrated! It’s been hours since you drank a significant amount of water, so a nice glass of water first thing in the morning, is exactly what your body needs. Most of us struggle to drink the 8+ glasses we should, so drinking 8-16 ounces of water in the morning gives you a great start to meeting your water quotient for the day!
So next you might ask, why add the lemon? Well, there are MANY reasons. I will list just a few…
-Even though lemon is acidic, it has an alkalizing effect on the body as it is metabolized. Americans tend to eat a very acidic diet, which causes a lot of inflammation in the body. Inflammation leads to or exacerbates many disease states from arthritis to diabetes.
-The bitter quality of lemons helps stimulate the liver and thereby helps the body flush itself of toxins.
-Lemons are packed with great nutrients from vitamin C to potassium (and many, many others).
-Lemons help lesson sugar cravings, which helps people lose weight.
-Due to the benefits lemons bring to your digestive system, most people notice less bloating and less indigestion.
There are many other benefits to adding lemon, but how many do you really need before you decide to make this easy addition?
How to make lemon water? This depends a little bit on how much you like lemon. For me, I use 1/4-1/2 a lemon, usually depending on how many lemons I have on hand. Some people prefer the juice of a whole lemon. I do recommend that you use real lemons, not bottled lemon juice. Bottled juice often has additives/preservative…which you really want to avoid whenever possible. Organic lemons are the best option, but they can be really pricey. Therefore, I recommend you just scrub your lemons with a vegetable brush and a little soapy water.
Squeeze your lemon into a glass or large cup. Add your water. I just use tap water, but if you are having liver issue, you may want to use distilled water to decrease contaminates such as chlorine or fluoride. I prefer lukewarm water, because it’s gentler on an empty stomach. However, if you don’t like warm lemon water, drink it cool.
Drink it up and go on about your day. Pretty simple, right? Give it a try!!!!
Thank you for visiting my blog. If you or someone you know is interested in living a healthier, happier and more balanced life - email me at email@example.com!
This is a tasty and hearty vegetable chili that doesn’t try to mimic meat based chilies...it wholeheartedly presents its vegetables with no holding back and no apologies.
What you need –
1 small butternut squash
1 med onion
2-3 cans of diced tomatoes with chili’s (or you can substitute plain or fresh tomatoes, just add a jalapeño.
1 can black beans
1 tsp cumin (+/- to taste)
1-2 TBSP chili powder
To prepare, start by cleaning your squash. You need a good vegetable peeler to get through the tough skin. I like to peel mine directly into the sink to make clean-up easier.
Then cut off the ends and the bulbous end. All the seeds are in the fat end, so slice that in half and clean out the seeds with a spoon.
Dice it up into 1 inch cubes. I had a rather large squash, so I only used the fat end, saving the rest to use in another recipe. In the end, you want about 2 cups of squash.
Peel and chop your carrots, onion and your jalapeño (if you are using one). Note- hot peppers will burn you. Use caution and consider wearing rubber gloves. Also, most of the heat is in the membrane and seeds, so remove those if you don't want a lot of heat.
Drizzle your pot with some olive oil and add your veggies. Sprinkle with a little salt and cook over medium heat until the veggies start to get tender. You don’t want your veggies to turn to mush, but you don’t want them really crunchy either. If you will be transferring to a crock pot or otherwise keeping the chili warm for a long period of time, you will want to cook your veggies a little less than if you are eating it immediately after assembly.
Once the veggies are tender, add the remaining ingredients. Drain and rinse the black beans, and add as many as you want. Sometimes I use the whole can, sometimes I only use ½ cup….it depends on what you like. Add the tomatoes, juice and all. The more cans of tomatoes you use, the soupier it will be. Add your cumin and chili powder, let it simmer for a few minutes and taste. Add more spices if needed. You can also add some cayenne pepper or a splash of tabasco if you want more heat.
Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes and viola – a delicious ode to fall veggies! Feel free to garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with some warm corn bread!
Mmmm, mmmm, good!
There is nothing better on a cool November weekend than a delicious and healthy batch of chili. Enjoy!
Today, make nourishing yourself a priority.
I just can't seem to get enough winter squash. I mean, what is not to love about it? It tastes great and it is so versatile! You can make such a variety of meals with this one category of vegetable. I plan to regale you with wonderful winter squash recipes throughout the fall, but for now let me share this one.
Stuffed Acorn (or carnival) Squash Doesn't it look delicious?
I stuffed mine with a mixture of quinoa, craisins, golden raisins and walnut. Feel free to substitute rice and whatever herbs/veg/fruit/nut that you desire. You could even stuff it with a traditional bread stuffing. This is definatly one of those recipes for when you just want to use up some stuff in your fridge/pantry.
Start by cleaning your squash. Just wash it, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds with a large spoon.
The squash I used is actually a Carnival Squash. It is very similar in shape and in flavor to an Acorn Squash, the coloring is just a little more interesting on the carnival squash.
Rim the edges with a little olive oil and/or spray a baking sheet with baking spray.
Bake them at 400 degrees for 20-40 minutes (depending on size of the squash). You want it very tender, but you still want it to hold it's shape. While the squash is cooking, prepare your stuffing. We will discuss stuffing at the end.
When the squash is done, turn oven down to 350 degrees. Bring the squash out of the oven and stuff them with warm stuffing. Then, place them back into the oven if needed while you prepare drinks, salad, or any other additions to dinner.
When ready to serve, simply place the whole squash on a plate, and scoop out bites of stuffing and squash flesh with a fork.
Let's talk stuffing.
For the quinoa, I simply cooked multi-colored quinoa following the package directions. With just a couple moments left of cooking time, I added a couple tablespoons of craisins, raisins and walnuts. I also added a little curry powder, as I love the combination of curry and squash.
Another great option would be an herbed rice. Cook up some rice following package direction. When the rice is completely cooked add an assortment of chopped herbs. Here you can play with whatever herbs and flavor profiles you like. If you want to add in some diced fresh vegetable, do so a few minutes before the rice is done to allow the veggies to steam a little.
Mexican - onion, poblano pepper, black beans and lots of cilantro.
Italian - basil, rosemary, oregano. Top with diced fresh tomato.
Spicy - add some Sriracha, a chopped fresno pepper and a bunch of chopped parsley.
The options really are almost endless.
Traditional stuffing - take a couple cups of cubed toast or stuffing croutons. Add some sauteed onion, maybe some chopped mushrooms and enough vegetable stock to hydrate the stuffing. Add a little sage and/or poultry seasoning. I would suggest even adding a dollop of cranberry sauce into the squash before adding the stuffing. This version will bring back the cozy feelings of Thanksgiving.
So next time you are at the grocery store or the farm market, get yourself a squash, take it home and just stuff it! :-)
Today make nourishing yourself a priority.
This time of year we have a whole harvest of vegetables available to us. If you are like me and find that you have little bits of several veggies sitting in your kitchen (or partial bags of frozen vegetables in your freezer), there is no better way to make use of them, than an easy and delicious vegetable soup.
I started mine with a typical mirepoix…which is just a fancy French word for onion, celery and carrots. Dice them up to whatever size suits you and throw them in a soup pot with a little olive oil and a small sprinkle of salt. Allow to cook until they are just tender.
Add whatever broth you have handy. I would typically use vegetable broth for a vegetable soup, but today I didn’t have any. I did however have not-chicken broth, so I used that with a nice squeeze of tomato paste. You can really use whatever you want here, as long as you like the taste of it. I used a boxed broth, but you could use bouillon cubes or bouillon paste… One of my favorite additions to vegetable soup is V8 juice. A good cup or two added to the broth adds great flavor, gives the broth a thicker consistency and adds a great amount of extra veggie goodness!
Flavor it up with whatever herb mixture you prefer, just add slowly and taste as you go. You can always add more, but you can’t remove it! I used Italian flavors - dried oregano, basil, rosemary and marjoram. You could easily spice it up a little with some cayenne pepper or go in a whole different direction and add cumin and chili powder.
I decided to add a little pasta to mine, mostly because I had an open box in the panty I want to use up. I brought the soup up to a boil and added the pasta, cooking it right in the broth. Since I didn’t overcook my veggies in the first step, I know they won’t get too mushy. I also have some other additions I want to add to give my soup a little more body. I had some broccoli and a couple tomatoes, so I chop those up and add them right at the end of my pasta cooking time. I also throw in a handful of garbanzo beans for a little protein addition. If you have partial bags of frozen veg you want to use up, this would be the perfect time to add them. I shut off the heat and let the soup cool for a bit.
My favorite thing to do on a Sunday is to cook a soup to serve later in the week when we are busy and have difficulty finding time to cook dinner. This soup is going to go into the refrigerator to await its turn as dinner later this week.
Serve it up with some nice warm rolls or crusty bread...and viola you have a meal. I promise, it certainly beats anything Cambell's has to offer!
Today, make nourishing yourself a priority!
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.