September 28, 2012

Kale Ice Cubes

Posted by Laura

The kale continues to flow in from the farm and I am thoroughly enjoying the nutritional benefits that it has on my growing fetus. My favorite way to eat it is in Kristin's smoothie, however having a kale smoothie everyday is still not enough to keep up with the copious amounts that I get each week...and I hate throwing away old/unused kale. In order for me to slow down with the smoothies, and enjoy them throughout the winter months, I turned my kale into ice cubes.




Step 1. Wash kale



Step 2. Blend it with some water and an ice cube or two. This will give it a nice "freezer ready" texture.


Magic Bullet!


Step 3. Freeze kale in ice cube trays, then take out and store in a freezer bag.


September 26, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (And a Little Warrior Dash)

Posted by Kristin

As November 5th quickly approaches and my belly continues to grow, I have to find ways to fill up the tank that are still healthy and tasty. For instance, this past weekend, I scarfed this smoothie down as Mike and I headed off to the Warrior Dash race in northeastern CT. Mike signed up to run it with a group of friends and let me tell you- I was jealous! Seriously, as messed up as it sounds, I was battling hard-core envy as I watched my hubby and our friends jump over fire, scale walls, and crawl through knee-deep mud. Count me in next year for sure (any one want to baby-sit baby-hold while I get uber-muddy?). And just to show off how muddy it really was....



Pre-race cleanliness. I have no idea why I wore a white shirt to a mud race.
I'll blame pregnancy brain.

The Game of Thrones Crew: Sarah, Mike, Kurt, Laura's hubby Caleb, Brian and Jim.

They had to scale the wall using a rope on
the other side and then climb down this side. 

The final obstacle: mud pit under barbed wire.

It looked like a big pit of chocolate pudding but probably didn't taste that way.

Finito! 


Just a little dirtier this time.

A true mud-covered warrior. And alot of dirty laundry.

Okay, now onto the actual topic of this post: Pumpkin Pie Smoothie. I pinned this a while back and finally decided to try it a few weeks ago. Needless to say, I'm hooked!

SUPER HEALTHY Pumpkin Pie Smoothie! I am already excited for fall :)   1/2 banana (peeled, frozen, diced) ~1/3 cup pumpkin puree (Libby’s) ~1/3 cup FF plain Greek yogurt ~3/4-1cup vanilla almond milk, Few shakes of pumpkin spice (Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice) Few shakes of cinnamon (optional) Pinch of cloves 1tsp vanilla 4-5 ice cubes
via

Here's how the recipe is listed on my "EAT" board:

SUPER HEALTHY Pumpkin Pie Smoothie! I am already excited for fall :) 1/2 banana (peeled, frozen, diced) ~1/3 cup pumpkin puree (Libby’s) ~1/3 cup FF plain Greek yogurt ~3/4-1cup vanilla almond milk, Few shakes of pumpkin spice (Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice) Few shakes of cinnamon (optional) Pinch of cloves 1tsp vanilla 4-5 ice cubes.

After trying it a few times, I've modified it a bit to my own liking:

The PEC version.

In a blender combine the ingredients below and blend until smooth.

1 frozen (or fresh) banana
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (freeze the rest in 1/2 cup portions)
1/3 cup vanilla yogurt (I tend to have this on hand more often than plain yogurt)
3/4 cup regular milk (use vanilla soy or almond milk if you're using plain yogurt)
a few shakes of pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 ice cubes (more if the banana isn't frozen)

Its definitely different having pumpkin in a smoothie but its got a nice, sweet flavor to it. I also like the fact that you're getting at least one serving of veggies in the smoothie and its much more appealing than chomping on some broccoli first thing in the morning. I've even thrown in some fresh spinach to boost the nutritional value and its still just as good. Cheers to fall smoothies!



September 24, 2012

Organization Trick

Posted by Laura

It's official...it's Fall!! I have to say that this is one of my favorite times of year, especially living in New England. As every season comes and goes I like to organize and purge my life whether it be my trunk, filing cabinet at work, closet or freezer. Last Spring Kristin shared some cues for a clean closet, and this Fall I want to focus in on the clothing trick as a refresher for everyone.

For me, donation trips to Goodwill are bittersweet because on one hand I love to purge, but on the other I hate to say goodbye to clothes "just in case" I need them for something, someday. Here's what I do to keep track of the clothes I actually use, so that ripping the Goodwill band-aid is a little easier and reassuring.

Once a year, put your clothes on a hanger the wrong way. If folding clothes, fold them in a way you wouldn't normally fold them. This allows them to go through each season. If you're really attached to your clothes, give it two years (2 cycles of each season).

The "right" way I hang my clothes

The "wrong" way (or opposite way) I hang my clothes

The "right" way my clothes face


With the items on the hanger the wrong way, they
will also face the wrong way.



So after a year (or two), you've got an easy way to determine which clothes need to go by simply looking at the way they're in the closet and/or folded in your drawer. Happy Fall!!!

September 21, 2012

Natural Renewal: Immune Boosting Food

Posted by Ana Elisabeth

Note from Kristin: I'm very happy to introduce PEC's first guest post by nutritionist and blogger Ana Elisabeth from Natural Renewal. Ana is a wealth of knowledge and inspiration when it comes to healthy eating and lifestyle choices (some of which I've shared here and here). We can't wait to have you back Ana!


Anytime the seasons change, I start to think about eating foods that boost my immune system. Food is our number one line of defense against acute and chronic disease. Smart and healthful food choices carry more weight and importance than prescription drugs or quick fixing, over the counter cold remedies.


Make a big batch of this satisfying Sweet and Tart Swiss Chard Salad to boost your immunity.

One of the best things you can do to optimize your health, decrease your risk for chronic disease, and boost your immunity is to eat dark green, leafy vegetables everyday. Not only do they taste great when prepared correctly, but they offer your body a boost of life giving nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, B, and K, minerals such as Iron, Calcium and Potassium, and of course tons of fiber which helps keep you full. 

The antioxidants found in dark green veggies, and even dark red ones such as beets, are also essential in keeping our bodies detox pathways functioning at maximum capacity. When our detox pathways such as our liver and kidneys are supported through eating these nutrient dense foods on an everyday basis, toxicities we are routinely exposed to are filtered out efficiently leading to abundant energy, vitality, and hopefully less seasonal sickness! 

Including these foods more routinely in your diet is easier than it seems. Start by trying one new food per week. For heightened immunity, include more of the following:
  • Beets (fresh!)
    • Cut off greens, scrub, and boil until tender, or chop and bake at 350 degrees lightly tossed in olive oil and sea salt for about 20 minutes.
  • Dark Greens: Swiss Chard, Kale (any variety), Spinach, Collard Greens
    • Sautee in olive oil with garlic as a side dish, stir fry with some chicken, throw them in an egg scramble, or eat raw in a salad.
  • Greek yogurt or kefir
    • Rich in probiotics (the more good "belly bugs" we introduce into our system, the stronger our immunity will be).
  • Ginger, garlic, lemons, oranges, almonds, fish, sweet potatoes 
    • Include these foods more routinely for increased overall health. 
Try this Sweet and Tart Swiss Chard Salad to jump start your journey to stronger immunity (and please your taste buds!): 

Ingredients:
  • Two bunches Swiss Chard or any other dark green leafy veggies; washed and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1/4 cup roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground walnuts 
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (found in oil section at most health food stores)
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic; minced
  • Pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste 
Directions: 

Start by mixing together your leafy greens, apple, carrots, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. In a separate bowl, whisk together your remaining ingredients and drizzle over the bowl with the greens. Combine until all greens are coated with the dressings. 

This salad is great any time of day. Its incredibly filling and satisfying, and bursting with nutrition. Don't underestimate the power of leftovers....and don't forget to use mason jars as your number one storage container for easy salads on the go!

I always prep my ingredients first...organization is key!



Loving the old school grater!


                      
         Grapeseed oil...fairly neutral tasting and highly nutritious



Getting ready for the goodness!




Never underestimate the power of mason jars
for storing leftovers and easy on-the-go lunches!


As always, stay well, eat well, and have a beautiful week!
-Ana Elisabeth, RD

September 19, 2012

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Posted by Laura

Ever wonder what high fructose corn syrup really does do your body? Dr Mark Hyman is a world renowned, holistic doctor based out of Lenox, MA who explains the effects of HFCS beautifully in this series of 2-3 minute videos of "Dr. Mark's Minute". Dr Hyman is one of my heros in the medical community, and has sharpened the lens at which I view food and health.












You can read more of Dr. Hyman's medical advise at his comprehensive website, http://drhyman.com.

September 17, 2012

More "Deep" Thoughts About My Stuff

Posted by Kristin

Sometimes thinking is a blessing and sometimes it feels like a curse. Oftentimes, I end up thinking (really stressing) about things I shouldn't. Like getting projects done that no one is demanding to be done except your's truly.

I first shared my thoughts on unfinished-ness here.

Or constantly trying to figure out what to hang above our tv that is the "perfect" art (instead of just deciding to live with a blank space for a bit and see what strikes my fancy).





But every so often, I stumble upon a post that really makes me think. I've shared one of those posts here and its not surprising that I recently encountered this thought-provoking post by The Nester.

The Nester shared her thoughts that were inspired by the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. Check out the book trailer below (via).








Quite the challenge right? While I can't say that I've read the book (yet), I can see how it certainly has inspired lots of thinking for those who've read it. Like these thoughts below from The Nester:


"Is it any wonder that a few years ago I looked around and realized we had closets packed full of thrifted great deals that I didn’t have room for and stacks of chairs in our unparkable two car garage–you know, in case we ever moved and might need them in our next house. Oh, how the idea of maybe needing something tangled me up.
 I was beginning the early stages of a somewhat organized, really cute, bargain bought hoard. And I’m messy to begin with. I needed to consider my definition of enough.


Some of the Nester's "stuff". via.

Slowly, slowly I’ve removed. I’ve donated, gifted, sold, thrown away, recycled and given dirty looks to a bunch of stuff, much of it, pretty, bought for a really good price, a steal even. But it was stealing away chunks of my time and home and soul and I was tired of it.

But I’m still me and I still love beauty. I crave beauty. I crave meaning. I believe I was created that way, in the image of my Maker. So how do I balance that? How do I create meaningful beauty and a purposeful home without going overboard, buying because it’s a good deal and then having a house filled with cute things I can’t even appreciate?

That’s what I’m figuring out. I’m in the middle of a contradiction. My job and my gifting are in writing about creating a meaningful home but I don’t want to encourage people to think they have to buy a bunch of stuff to create a home they love. Because that’s not true."

Read more on The Nester's thoughts in the complete post here.

So what does this make me think about? It makes me think about not always doing and sometimes just enjoying what is already done. It makes me want to leave the tv wall blank for a while until I feel inspired (not required) to do something about it. It makes me want to enjoy a sunny morning while glancing over and seeing my hubby sprawled out all over our comfy couch and pillows that I made for that very purpose (I've recently learned that down pillows are THE BEST for husbands that like to beat them to within an inch of their life. Just re-fluff and you're golden). 


So today let's just enjoy today and only "do" if we feel inspired to, mkay?

September 14, 2012

Preggo Snacks

Posted by Laura

One thing I've learned about pregnancy is the importance of food. My first trimester was not-so-fun when it came to this department, so I was quite vigilant of what I was coming into contact with (and what made meal times a little easier). The snacks needed to serve three purposes for me. They needed to #1 fill me up and keep me full, #2 be high in protein and low in trans fats and sugar and #3 have nutritional value. So, here is my attempt at pregnancy friendly snacks that have made baby and mama happy.

Chobani Yogurt
Packed with protein and calcium, sweetened with actual fruit (instead of high fructose corn syrup).
via chobani.com


Fresh Fruit
I have been addicted to fresh fruit during this pregnancy. It is a beautiful source of vitamin c and fiber.
Strawberries


Oatmeal
Very fulfilling and full of fiber, protein and "good" fats. My favorite way to prepare oatmeal is with a smidge of melted butter, brown sugar and almond milk.
Kristin's Irish Oatmeal


Tortilla Chips and Fresh Salsa
Fresh Salsa is nothing but vegetables and lemon juice.
Seth's Fresh Salsa


Nuts (like almonds and walnuts)
Fiber, Protein, and Omega-3s. A handful of these are a great snack.
via



Cheese and [Whole Wheat] Crackers
Yuuum! Salty things really helped me out when I was in my first trimester. Crackers such as Triscuits and Wheat Thins had the perfect amount of salt.
via


Potatoes
Starches expand in the stomach and can make you feel full quickly. When you're nauseous and hungry, every bite counts.
Russet and Sweet Potatoes


Granola
Oats - good for the heart and immune system.
Walnuts - rich in Omega-3s.
Wheat germ - loaded with folic acid and vitamin E.
Emily's Roasted Granola





Now, one of my favorite pregnancy snacks ever...Boston Creme Donuts from Dunkin Donuts. I can't lie, I LOVE eating these :)
via Dunkin Donuts

September 12, 2012

Eat This, Not That: A Healthy Eating Guide

Posted by Kristin

In a recent email that I received from CT NOFA (the CT Northeast Organic Farmers Association- yea I'm kind of a dork when it comes to ag and gardening stuff), there was a great resource shared for those of us who like to eat healthy but are on a budget. Sound familiar? (insert my raised hand here...)

The Healthy Food Guide is a great resource put out by the Environmental Working Group but I'll let CT NOFA give a further explanation of what this list does:


Environmental Working Group’s “Good Food on a Tight Budget” project aims to help people with modest food budgets find the healthiest foods. This analysis is the first comprehensive food-ranking system that considers nutrition, affordability and common contaminants that arise from environmental pollution, processing and packaging.
The guide's food list categorizes the top inexpensive and healthy foods according to food group, then provides tips on how to get the most out of each dollar you spend, noting that some foods that aren't listed because of high pesticide use may also be available from organic sources at a low cost.  Make sure to scroll down for valuable resources related to each food group.  To save on time in the kitchen, the guide also provides a list of easy recipes that prove that "cooking at home is the best way to save money and enjoy good food."  excerpt via

This list sounds right up my alley. They break the list down by fruits, veggies, grains, protein, dairy, cooking oils and fats, and staples and spices.  They even tell you what the best buys are and what foods may be higher in pesticides. Here's a snapshot of the fruit page.



via



This list helps me remember that even if I can't buy everything organic or do all the best 'green' practices out there, each little step I take is a good thing. Check out the full Good Food Guide here, where you can also print out your own guide to take to the store with you. Happy healthy eating!

September 10, 2012

A PW Baby Shower

Posted by Laura

With Kristin on the countdown to Baby Who's arrival (two months left!), we had the opportunity to throw her a shower last weekend. Since she loves the Pioneer Woman, we thought it would be fun to make it a PW themed shower.

Our friend Jennifer, Laura, Kristin's sister Catie (holding Jennifer's son Silas),
Kristin, Kristin's Mom Lynn

Kristin with her sister and mom

The shower was held at Kristin's parents' house in the Berkshires. Her mom and sister did a superb job decorating. It was a perfect location that suited the Pioneer Woman theme perfectly. Their front porch welcomed the guests with a sign-in spot and gift-drop.



A thumbprint tree for the nursery.




Decorative accents.



Guest book.



The inside of the house was decorated with such detail. The clotheslines where a perfect addition.



Perhaps the most mouthwatering part of the shower was the food (pun). Each dish was prepared from Ree Drummond's cookbooks and blog.


Caprese Salad

Chipotle Steak Salad (photo does not include steak)

Creamy Lemon Basil Potato Salad

Cranberries and Pecan Corn Muffins with Maple Butter

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes (adapted from
Strawberry Shortcake Cake Recipe

Chocolate Covered S'mores

Not pictured: Homemade Chicken Strips.

A great time was had by all. Kristin and Mike were "showered" with some amazing gifts, and now feel one step closer to their preparation for parenthood.

The guests milling around

Our friends Jennifer, Erica and Sarah

Catie, Kristin's dad Walt and Catie's husband Kevin (well, his back).

Kristin, I love you and cannot wait to meet Baby Who! Only two months left and Plant Eat Create will officially expand!