I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for ICE CREAM!

The summer is heating up and what sounds good? If you said ice cream, you got it! At our house, ice cream is a staple during the summer (along with sno-cones, of course). We work hard, we play hard, and we want a treat that is satisfying, cold and delicious. July is one of the HOTTEST months here in Oklahoma and also happens to be National Ice Cream month – perfect combination!  

You may be thinking to yourself “OK lady, ice cream is good and all, but isn’t that a bad food?”. I hear this statement a lot. What pains me the most is that ice cream, just like so many foods labeled “bad”, can still be very nourishing to our body, mind, and spirit. There is so much more to food and nutrition than just nutrients and weight. It can bring fun, comfort, pleasure, and memories to mind as well. Just think about it – when you think back on childhood summers, do you think back to avoiding ice cream because “it’s fattening”, “there is sugar” or “that’s not allowed on my diet”? I sure hope not. I hope when you think of eating ice cream as a kid, it triggers a sense of nostalgia; of summers well spent swimming, running, riding a bike, and freedom. Of coming in from a hot day and just enjoying that delicious, cold treat without a care in the world. Of heading to your favorite ice cream shop for a cone. Or of helping your grandparents or parents make some yummy homemade ice cream. My parents made homemade ice cream all the time when I was growing up. They still do for family get togethers. And it’s the real deal – full fat and regular sugar. It’s so satisfying and one of my favorite food memories with my family.  

Now, does this mean you should eat ice cream every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Yes. Just kidding, no (was your inner kid jumping with joy just then at the thought?)! But it does mean that you can enjoy some ice cream for dessert without fearing you are doing something “bad” to your body. Does it have sugar and fat? Yes, of course it does – its ingredients are milk, cream and sugar! But it also provides us with some key nutrients that are also very beneficial, like calcium, vitamin D, electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, and several B vitamins. Honestly, I hate breaking down food into such scientific terms, but in terms of de-vilifying food, it helps to look at its benefits, when we are so often blasted with its less healthy qualities. 

I think one of the best things about ice cream is its versatility. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy your ice cream this summer  

  • Just plain Jane. 
  • Try a flavor you’ve never had (one of my FAVORITE flavors is Peppermint from Braum’s, here in Oklahoma – my dad and husband think I’m nuts!). 
  • Having a gathering? Make an ice cream bar with all the fixings! 
  • Throw on some fruit! Some of my favorite fruit toppings are grilled peaches or roasted cherries!  
  • Melt your favorite nut butter in the microwave and drizzle it over your favorite flavor – this is especially good over chocolate, chocolate chip, chocolate cookie dough, or just regular old vanilla. 
  • Make your own ice cream. Much like growing a garden, making your own treats can be fun and gratifying. And you can decide what to put in them! 
  • Squish some together between 2 cookies, for an ice cream sandwich 

Happy Ice Cream Month – stay cool and enjoy! 

Summer Food Adventures

Although every season offers fun and adventure, there is just something about summer that seems so…magical. Maybe it’s the memories of childhood summers well spent, but even as a working adult, summer always brings with it the promise of new finds, new adventures, freedom, lazy days and, of course, yummy foods. Whether you are grilling, growing your own garden, visiting a farmers market, or eating some cool treats, summer foods are among the best! Because we always want food to be an exciting adventure for everyone, here is a little list of ideas to try this summer to bring the fun back to food. We mentioned a few of these in this month’s newsletter, but here are a few to add to your summer bucket list!  

 Visit a farmer’s market. Visiting a local farmer’s market is a great way to see what local producers have to offer and support local! You can discover so many cool food finds – meat, poultry, fruits, veggies, jams and jellies, salsas, grains – the possibilities are endless!  

Visit a berry patch or orchard. This is a great activity for the whole family! Not only do you get to spend time outdoors, you also get to pick your own produce and enjoy the fruits of your labor (you see what I did there?). For kids, this can be a valuable lesson in learning where our food come from!   

Visit or participate in a community garden. Community gardens have been increasing in popularity over the past several years and for good reason. They provide a sense of community, education, and resources, such as land, tools, etc. They also give back to the community, often providing food to the underserved and beautifying areas that were once eyesores. If you have never been to one, it is worth checking out. You may just be inspired to join one or start your own! 

Grow your own garden. If you are lucky enough to have an area where you can plant your very own garden, try it out! You don’t have to have a yard – even a small patio, porch or balcony can serve as a garden if you have a container, dirt, water and seeds. Gardens can be so rewarding and serve as another excellent way of showing us the process of where our food comes from and how it grows! 

Grill a new food. Don’t get me wrong – hamburgers and hot dogs are classic summer grilling fare. But if you are feeling adventurous, pick something new to throw on the grill! As mentioned in our newsletter this month, grilling fruits can add so much fun to many dishes or even just by themselves. Try out a new grilled veggie or a new cut of meat. Try a new marinade or rub. Whatever you choose, just make sure you have fun!  

Make your own frozen treats. My kids love ice cream and popsicles. And so do I. Making your own summer treats can be so fun and easy. And you decide what you put in them! For ice cream, my family loves to use our Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker, and for popsicles we love these reusable molds. 

Have a picnic. Whether a family affair or a romantic date night, picnics can be fun for everyone. Go to a park, beach, lake or even just your own back yard! It can be as fancy or as simple as you wish. We love finger foods for picnics, and fruits and veggies are a quick and easy option any time!  

Go to a food festival. They are everywhere in the summerFrom friendly food competitions to specific festivals that center around different ethnic foods to those that might be partial to produce (watermelon festivals are always a hit), there is a food festival for everyone!  

Try out new food trucks. They are fast, often local and help bring delicious food to the masses. I live in a small town with very few dining out options, so the weekly visits from multiple food trucks in the area is always a welcomed treat. You can find them anywhere from local parks, food festivals, community events, work events, weddings, breweries, wineries…the list goes on and on! 

Take a summer road trip adventure – for food! There are so many great foods to try in each state, and who doesn’t love a summer road trip? Take a look at what is near you for a day trip or make your rounds to further destinations.  

Give back! Start a canned food drive for your local food bank or volunteer to help. Giving back to your community is always a fantastic idea. Talk with your local food banks to see what they may need. They can always use some help! This is a great way to teach your kiddos (and learn yourself) about food insecurity in your community and beyond, as well what you can do to help!  

Take a tour of a local farm. Farm tours are SO fun and interesting, and a great way to learn about where your food comes from! From dairy farms to fish hatcheries to bee farms and everything in between, there is always a farm to find!  

Take a tour of a winery or brewery. Craft breweries and wineries have made a climb in numbers in recent years. There is a science to making great drinks, and it is so interesting to learn about the processes behind different libations. Even if you don’t drink much (or at all), it is still worth seeing how much thought and knowledge goes into the process!  

 Take a grocery store tour. Local grocery stores often have free tours all year long. It is worth taking the time to get to know your favorite store and maybe find some new food ideas in the process!  

 Take a cooking class. Check your local listings for places that offer classes – these are great for everyone, from your most experienced cook to the novice wanting to learn the basics. Take one with your friends, as a date night or even sign your kiddo up for any offered to their age group! It’s never too early or late to learn new things!  

Take a food tour in your area or wherever you may vacation. This is often a great way to find local digs you may not have known about or experience local favorites in a place you don’t live.  

And lastly…ENJOY YOUR FOOD!  Wherever your summer plans lead you, learn to fully embrace the food you are eating and appreciate it for what it was made for – to nourish your body AND to enjoy! From touch to texture to taste – it is ALL important! Play, experiment and find joy!  

Goodbye March Madness

Veggies on cutting board.

March Madness is over – congratulations Virginia. While it was a fun tournament (according to the husbands, the best one they can remember), we are not sad that it’s over. We’re Big 12 girls, so we’re a little upset that Texas Tech lost. But it marks the end of a month that we are just happy to see end. March was ROUGH! We’re not even sure what happened in the world at large because we were simply in survival mode. Snow day after snow day. Frigid cold (which means the toddlers couldn’t go outside). Strep. Flu. Colds. More strep. More flu. Some unknown virus. ER visits. Spring Break. Work travel. It was hard to come up for air, let alone cook for pleasure during the month of March. That leads us to our topic today – food and nutrition for survival. Not physical survival but just surviving the real life day to day.  

I thought I would take a minute to write just a short bit about just surviving. I am a meal planner. It’s one of the only aspects in my life where I do a good job planning! But it was virtually impossible during the month of March with everything that came up. The tools, skills and attitudes, however, that I utilize in meal planning still served me well, and I am thankful during these times to have those skills and tools. Here are the top three: 

  • Flexibility: It seemed like every day threw another curve ball, so we had to adjust on the fly to make sure everyone got fed. And at the end of the day, that is what it is about – making sure people are fed. It isn’t about a complicated recipe or social-media-worthy pic (you’ll notice those pics REALLY dropped of for us during the month of March). It is about getting food into everyone’s mouths. Period. 
  • My family’s go-to’s: This goes hand in hand with flexibility. Our pantry, refrigerator and freezer are always stocked with the essentials for whipping up quick and easy family favorites. When the day goes awry, the last thing I want to do is fret over what’s for dinner. Sure, the husband and the toddler had to have tacos three times in one week, but everyone was fed.  
  • Online grocery pick-up: this is a life-saver for me most weeks. But it was especially so as I was running from place to place, picking up kids, medicines, travel essentials, and whatever else (it’s a blur). What did I buy since I wasn’t able to truly meal plan? I just kept restocking those go-to ingredients and utilizing my favorites list of the items vitals we buy every week. 

Sometimes our best laid plans don’t pan out. And that’s ok. Put the go-to’s on repeat, have a lot of breakfast for dinner (eggs, fruit and frozen pancakes can be put out in minutes!), or just throw a protein and some veggies on a plate.  During chaotic times, don’t feel like you must stick to a plan and don’t feel guilty for making the same thing over and over. Feed whoever it is you feed every day, whether that is family or just yourself, and go to bed feeling accomplished.  

Now back to what is happening at Real Noshes – we did have a bit of fun creating a few new recipes in March, which we will be featuring over the next month. We also started sharing 30 days of tips for getting in your fruits and veggies. Then we paused as life got. more and more nutty. You can still download the whole calendar here, and we will finish out those features this month on Instagram and Pinterest 

So goodbye to March, hello to spring, and we are looking forward to getting back to sharing what’s happening in our kitchens and hearing about what you’re creating in yours!  

The Dish On Canned Foods

In the spirit of giving love this month, we want to take a minute to give some love to canned food. February is National Canned Food Month and, as it is so often treated as the inferior to its fresh or frozen counterparts, we think it is worth highlighting the many benefits of canned foods. Does it come with pitfalls? Of course (hello sugar and salt!), but what doesn’t? There are easy ways to navigate these issues and still get a lot of benefits from the goods themselves. Let’s dive in, shall we

  1. Canned goods are nutritious. Did you know that fruits and vegetables are often canned just hours from being picked? This means that they are picked at the peak of freshness, and the nutrients (especially carbohydrates, protein, fat and fat-soluble vitamins) remain stable, preserved by canning. Water soluble vitamins (like B-vitamins and vitamin C), can be damaged by the high heat involved in the process, but some antioxidants can actually become more potent with canning, such as the lycopene and carotenoids in tomatoes. Another bonus? Studies have shown that people who include canned fruits and vegetables in their diets get more servings of fruits and vegetables than those who do not.

Nosh Tip: Look for canned vegetables or beans with no added salt or reduced sodium. Rinsing them before use will also help to decrease the sodium content. When buying canned fruit, look for those canned in “100% Juice”, water or light syrup instead of those canned in heavy syrup to reduce added sugars.

  1. Canned goods are convenient. One of the best things about canned foods is that they are easy. Open the can and toss it in a salad, soup, stew or just heat and eat! Canned foods were one of my favorite go-to’s when my kids were learning to eat solids as well. It provided me an easy and quick option to introduce them to more kinds of fruits and vegetables, and they were soft enough for the kids to gum.
  1. Canned goods are affordable. Typically, canned foods are cheaper than fresh, frozen or dried. You can also store them for much longer periods of time than fresh or frozen without deterioration, leading to less food and less money wasted.
  1. Canned goods provide a safe and reliable food source. As an emergency food source, you can’t get much better than canned foods. Keeping a stock of these in your storm shelter, safe room, etc. ensures that if you are ever in a pickle, you have safe food to eat. Canned foods are also great for food drives, food banks, and other helping hands since they are shelf stable and can be stored for lengthy periods of time without fear of deterioration.

Nosh Tip: Keep an eye on your expiration dates that are printed on your canned foods; rotate first in, first out through your pantry to reduce waste. Also, ensure any canned goods you buy or store are free of dents – this is one way to ensure your canned food stays safe to eat.

If you store canned foods for emergencies or if you take canned foods camping, make sure you store a can opener as well – the last thing you want is to get stuck with all your canned goods and no way to open them! My favorite manual can opener is the Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Lid Lifter – it cuts the outside edge of the can, not the lid, providing a duller edge and has mini-pliers attached to easily lift the lid off with the push of a button, instead of your hand, which reduces the likelihood of cuts.

  1. Canned goods have sustainable packaging. You can recycle your cans once you are done with them!

As you can see, canned foods have many benefits. Variety is the spice of life, and this is no different when comparing fresh, frozen and canned foods – they all have unique benefits to offer!

Canned Staples in My Pantry:

  • Beans – all varieties! Beans are a must in my household; they are packed with nutrients and are so versatile. From roasting garbanzo beans for snacking to throwing several kinds into a chili, canned beans are never NOT in my pantry!
  • I put tomatoes in everything. Literally, everything. Sometimes I even like to open a can and eat them just like that. The fire-roasted are my favorite!
  • Salmon and Tuna. These are by far the two canned meats I use the most (sometimes I will use canned chicken if I am short on time). Canned salmon is one of the food sources higher in vitamin D, and I love to use it for salmon patties. Tuna is an excellent omega-3 source, and I use it for anything from casseroles to tuna salad to just plain tuna on crackers!
  • Mandarin Oranges. My. Kids. Love. These. Canned in 100% juice, they are tasty and easy. I also love to throw these in salads or cottage cheese!
  • Green Beans and Carrots. Let’s face it, we all have busy nights where we just don’t get to washing and chopping our fresh vegetables, or we don’t have any in the freezer. I keep a couple of cans in the pantry at all times because I know in a pinch my kiddos will eat them, and I like them too!

Look for more recipes on our blog, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest using various canned foods. You can also visit the Canned Food Alliance at www.mealtime.org for a plethora of facts, ideas and recipes using canned foods!

Because We DON’T Love the Flu

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Today is the day of love…and we’re so excited to spread it. We’re spreading our love to family and friends through food and fun today. But do you know what we DON’T love spreading this time of year? The flu. Is it just me, or does anyone else find it ironic that the kiss-iest, hug-iest, touchiest holiday of the year falls right in the middle of flu season? But I digress… 

This time of year, both of our kitchens are full of fruits and veggies being turned into soups, stews, bases, salads, snacks, and anything else you can think of because they are chocked full of immune boosting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A toddler coughs? Here’s an orange! The husbands sound a little congested? Butternut squash soup for dinner! We feel a little run down? Slice up some kiwi to nosh on at the laptop.   

We posted a while back on butternut squash soup – a hearty soup from a natural immune boosting food, perfect for cold and flu season. But did you know that red bell peppers are immunity superfoods too? They’re a stellar source of Vitamin C, packed full of Vitamin A, and a great source of Vitamin E. Plus a big giant dose of antioxidants. These nutrients all work together to kick your immune system into gear while you work to stave off the icky cold and flu! 

Red bell peppers are also super versatile. Put them in a salad, snack on strips, extend taco meat, add to burgers, meatballs and meatloaf, pat into salmon cakes, liven up spaghetti sauce, or roast them to add a deliciously rich flavor to any dish. We did just that a few nights ago, after lots of friends started falling victim to this dreaded season. We made a yummy roasted red pepper and tomato soup – with grilled cheese cooked in the waffle iron for some extra fun!  A cozy soup on a cold night that we like to think did its part to help keep the germy-wormies at bay! 

Here’s the recipe: 

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup 

Makes: 6-8 servings 

Prep time: 5 minutes 

Cook time: 50 minutes 

Ready in: 55 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 red bell peppers, halved and seeded 
  • 2 Tbs. Butter 
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 28 oz.  can crushed tomatoes 
  • 3 c. chicken stock 
  • 1 Tbs. Italian seasoning 
  • Salt and pepper 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 500°F.
  2. Roast bell pepper halves for 20 minutes or until skin is blistered and charred. Let cool slightly and roughly chop. 
  3. Melt butter in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent, about 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, stock, Italian seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Bring to boil over medium heat and simmer for 20 minutes. 
  6. Using an immersion blender or transferring small batches to a regular blender (be cautious transferring and blending hot liquids!), blend soup until almost smooth or smooth. We say almost because we like it a little chunky!

30 Days of More Fruits & Veggies!

It’s the month of love! And we want to spread some love…to our bodies. It’s that time when the dietitians tell you to eat more fruits and veggies. They’re good for your heart (fitting since it’s Heart Month), they’re good for your gut, they’re good for your brain – they’re good for pretty much every single system in our bodies. So go snag an apple!

But wait, what if you KNOW you should eat more fruits and veggies –  I mean, we all do, right? But you don’t always know WHAT to do with them. Different ways to cook them, different ways to get out of a rut, different ways to incorporate  them? Well, we have another calendar for you. Yay! Here are 30 days of easy ways to pack in the produce. Download it now, then grab some grapes and get to noshing!

30 Days of More Fruits & Veggies

Download 30 Baby Steps to More Fruits & Veggies

Just click the download button below to get a .PDF formatted file.
Download

6 Reasons We Love a Night In

Grapefruit & Avocado Salad

Last week was my birthday, and I was lucky enough to spend the whole week celebrating with my friends, family and lots of food. It all culminated over the weekend with a visit from Keri and her fam. We spent an entire afternoon and evening in the kitchen together, cooking for a night in with the husbands. Don’t get me wrong, we love a good date night out. But we also love a night in. Here’s why: 

  1. Informality…or formality…you choose! You can come to dinner in whatever attire you want. You want to prep and eat in your PJs like Keri did? Do it! Prefer stretchy yoga pants? Awesome. Want to go full on glam in cocktail attire? 80s prom? The roaring 20s? Beachwear? Go. For. It. You can be as formal or informal as you want, and you don’t have to worry about being under or overdressed because it’s your night in. (I went with jeans and a sweater this time, in case you were dying to know). 
  2. No reservations. Getting a sitter, getting ready, and getting out the door is just hard right now. We work, the husbands work, the toddlers get tired, and remembering to make a reservation is hard, let alone make it to one on time! A night in gives us the flexibility to be on our own timeline. We don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time, and we can take as long or as short of time to eat as we please. We opted to start our dinner in peace after the kids went to bed, and we spread it out over a couple of hours.
  3. More social. From the cooking to the actual eating, it’s just more intimate and social. We get to enjoy cooking together. We can chat, tell stories, joke around – it’s fun for us. If you’re doing a night in for several people, it allows way more interaction amongst the group than sitting at a long restaurant table. We all know what it’s like to wonder what on earth the people at the other end of the table are saying! Cook with your guests, taste tests (we love little tasting spoons so everyone can share the love), and generally just enjoy the moment. 
  4. Way cheaper. There isn’t a lot to say here. Just like during the week you know you spend less money cooking at home, the same principle applies here. We did four courses for four people and spent less than $75 on food. You can’t beat that!
  5. Experimenting. We love any opportunity to experiment in the kitchen and play with our food. We really, really do. And nights in are a fantastic way to do that. You can try new recipes you’ve saved, make up your own, learn a new cooking technique, bring in friends or significant others to cook with you – the sky is the limit. We tried a new recipe for one course, and we made the rest up! See below for what we cooked and how to make it.
  6. You’re in control. With a night in, you can make it exactly what you want. You can control the cost, the guest list, exactly what’s on the plate, the number of dishes. If you want to do a course pairing (we did wine), you can – beer, wine, cocktails, mocktails, infused water, whatever you want! You can use it as a learning experience and try out complex dishes. Or you can keep it completely simple. We’re big fans of the 80/20 rule, in a lot of ways. We did a cake that had several steps, but the rest of the meal we just kept simple. This goes for prep and what’s on the actual plate. With a night in, we can pack in the veggies, make the most of the dishes healthy-ish, and still indulge too. Enter that decadent cake we tried! 

 A four-course wine pairing with our husbands, in our PJs, on the cheap, with no rushing – any day! Try it, we promise you’ll love it. Don’t stress about it, even if you aren’t comfortable in the kitchen. Again, it’s a great chance to experiment, socialize, relax and laugh off any mishaps, like reading three cups of powdered sugar instead of three tablespoons. Let’s just say our first batch of frosting didn’t make it.  

What We Made 

  • Grapefruit & Avocado Salad 
    • Salad: grapefruit slices, avocado slices, arugula mix
    • Dressing: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, whole grain mustard, salt and pepper (simply mixed to taste!) 
  • Seared Apples & Sharp White Cheddar 
    • 2 fuji apples, peeled and sliced 
    • ½ Tbs. butter
    • Juice of half an orange 
    • ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice 
    • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract 
    • Sliced sharp white cheddar cheese
    • Heat butter in skillet. Add apples, cooking for 10-15 minutes (we like ours extra crispy, so we seared a bit longer!). Add pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Let cool. Place an apple slice on top of a slice of sharp white cheddar – it’s delish! 
  • Sweetheart Chili Burgers 
    • Burger: 2# ground beef mixed with 4 oz. can diced green chilis (drained) and salt and pepper to taste. 
    • Sweetheart sauce: 8 oz. whipped cream cheese mixed with ½ cup of your favorite pepper jelly (we used raspberry jalapeno) 
    • Build it: grill the burgers (we did charcoal because it’s our first love!), spread the sweetheart sauce on a brioche bun, add the burger, and top with caramelized onions.  
  • Baker by Nature’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake. We don’t really need to say anything else here – the title pretty much says it all. It was indeed as divine as it sounds.  

Are you ready for a night in? Comment below with questions or to share your menu ideas! 

Sweetheart Burger
Seared Apples & Sharp Cheddar
Salted Carmel Chocolate Cake

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Butternut Squash Soup-Er Bowl

Butternut squash soup

Did you know that January is National Soup Month? It’s cold, it’s dreary, and everyone is sick. Fitting, as soup can be the perfect antidote to the wintertime blues. This is one of my favorite recipes. It’s full of hearty vegetables and a little fruit, combined with the other ingredients it provides a savory flavor with just a tinge of sweet. And, it is easy and fast with minimal clean up. You can’t beat that!

My Vitamix helps make much of that easy clean up possible. I know, I know. Those suckers are expensive. BUT. You get so much more than just a regular blender. For this recipe (and any other soup you would use a blender for), it not only blends up the goodies, but also heats it at the same time. Leaving you extra time and less dishes. However, if you do not have a Vitamix or do not want to spend the money, an immersion blender or regular blender will work just fine (you may have to divide it though into two different blending batches, as not all ingredients will fit in a regular blender at once). 

Check out the recipe below and enjoy this soup-er bowl, then visit us next week as we share some of our favorite SUPER Bowl recipes in preparation for the big game!

Ingredients:

  • 1 3-4 lb butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 peeled honey crisp apple
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1 small onion
  • 1-2 T. olive oil (enough to drizzle produce)
  • 2-3 c. vegetable broth (this will depend on how thick you want your soup)
  • 1/8 t. coriander
  • 1/8 t. cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • Chopped cashews, toasted, to garnish
  • Toasted coconut to garnish
  • Creme fraiche or sour cream to garnish
Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

2. Drizzle butternut squash, apple, carrots, and onion with olive oil and toss. Roast at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned.

3. Add roasted vegetables/frui, broth, and spices to blender. Blend at medium high speed fo 5 minutes, or until completely pureed. 

4. Add heavy cream and blend for 1 more minute. 

5. Garnish with toasted cashews and coconut flakes, add a dollop of sour cream or cream fraiche (these 3 ingredients look pretty, but they also add texture and impart great flavor when mixed). 

6. Enjoy! Makes 6-8 servings. 

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2019: Simple is HOT, Fad Diets & Gimmicks are NOT!

Fruit and Computer

Oh, the beginning of the year. For many of us, it signifies a renewal of promises we’ve made to ourselves. Maybe you said you would stop spending so much money on “stuff” and more on experiences. Maybe you said you would spend less time on social media and more time in real life. Or maybe you said this is the year you get healthier. Admittedly, this is something I personally focus on every year – improving my health. And why not? Our health is extremely important. Move more, eat better. Simple, right?

But health looks completely different for everyone. What I need may not be what YOU need. What works for you may not work for me at all. And what works today may not work a year from now! Nowhere is this truer than in the world of nutrition and wellness. I’ve spent the better part of 12 years trying to help people stay healthy or get healthy through nutrition education. And the biggest thing I’ve learned? There is no “one size fits all” approach. Sure, there are general guidelines – we all know them: eat your fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, cut back on bad fats, etc., etc. But is there one diet that is the best thing ever for all human kind? Nah. It just doesn’t exist.

As a result of our quest for wellness, we are losing the point. We throw billions (yes, billions!) of dollars into the weight loss industry. Even worse? TRILLIONS are thrown into the wellness industry. It’s great that people want to be healthy. What is not great are the gimmicks and fad diets that have become rampant, increasing those dollars thrown at that quest for a quick fix. And for what? Our waistlines continue to grow, our legs move less, and our bank accounts get smaller.

So, what’s the point? Simplify. Life is complicated. What we eat shouldn’t be. How we eat shouldn’t be. And getting healthier shouldn’t be a drain on our bank account or time. Am I saying that out of all the diets, programs and products out there, there is nothing good to be taken? Not at all. Many of them may have at least one good take away. But here are some things to ask yourself before buying into anything that can cost you not only money, but also time:

1. What is being sold? Do you have to continue to buy in (time or money) in order to be successful?

Note: This does not apply to someone you may be seeing to help you start a plan or program or a nutrition professional you choose to continue seeing. As a dietitian who saw patients regularly for follow-up, I tried to set my clients up for success from the beginning, with or without my future help. And if they chose to come back to see me for accountability, then that ball was in their court!

2. Who is selling it? Do they truly stand behind their service or product? Are they reputable? Do they have an ulterior motive?

3. How was the product or program developed? Is it science-based? Science helps us better understand our environment. It’s the movement forward toward a better understanding based on past and current research and principles. And nutrition is a science. Be sure the programs or products you choose are based on sound science.

4. How much time, effort and money are you willing to spend in order to be successful? Whether you are following a wellness trend or doing your own thing, this is always a great question to ask yourself. You get what you put in. But that doesn’t always mean the same thing for everyone. Baby steps may seem small but yield large results over a greater amount of time and usually cost less money!

Making an effort to eat better and exercise doesn’t have to come with expensive price tags, fancy food, crazy programs, silly supplements, cutting your favorites out, and spending loads of time (that, let’s face it, none of us have!) at the gym or just exercising in general. It can start with the SIMPLEST changes (see our 30 Days of Baby Steps for Your Health calendar). So simple, in fact, that you don’t even feel like you are changing anything. These changes create new habits (or break old ones), and these habits can make or break your goals.

So this month, as we celebrate the beginning of a brand new year, Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day, and Women’s Healthy Weight Day, let’s have a toast to simplifying. Real Food. Real Life. Real Simple.

Mis-Adventures with My Slow Cooker

Pastrami

I LOVE my slow cooker. I know, I know – I’m not the only one! But it is such a big part of my weekly meal planning and meal prep, I just have to give it some props. What I love about my particular slow cooker is that it isn’t just a crock pot. It roasts (it even has a cute little rack!), it sautés (for those recipes that call for a quick sear before you throw the meat in with your other ingredients) and it’s BIG (because I like to cook in bulk and freeze individual portions for chaotic evenings).

Needless to say, my slow cooker and I are great friends. But, like any relationship, we’ve had some bumps in the road. Sometimes I get the temperature wrong and my dish cooks too fast or too slow. Sometimes I get busy and completely forget to even start it – which is what happened to me last Thursday! See our Easy Peasy Instagram story highlight for a quick recipe to throw in if you forget to do this.

Sometimes a recipe just doesn’t work out the way it should. Maybe it’s user error, maybe it’s the recipe, maybe it’s a combination of both. This happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I had a beautiful corned beef brisket that I was going to turn into pastrami. I saw the recipe on Today Food on a show about tailgating. My husband is a college football fanatic, and his team was playing in the National Championship play-off. What a perfect opportunity to try out this delicious recipe.

It was indeed delicious…eventually. The cook didn’t go quite according to plan. I did all the prep – soaked it, rubbed it down, wrapped it, and put it on the cute little roasting rack. I stuck my favorite wireless meat thermometer in because I knew it 1) would be a long cook and 2) had a goal temp for maximum quality. Then I went on about my business. Several hours later, the temperature stopped rising. It stayed the same. And stayed the same. And stayed the same. Ok, I thought, it’s hitting a stall like meat does during smoking. And stayed the same. The recipe said it would be about 9-10 hours in the slow cooker. 10 hours came and went. Finally, at 14 hours, the game almost over, and me ready to go to bed, I pulled it out of the slow cooker and threw it in the oven to finish. I tasted it before I put away, sad that my pastrami sandwiches for the game did not come to fruition. It WAS delicious! Mouth-watering delicious.

 

Kitchen mishaps happen to novice cooks and to seasoned cooks. And that’s ok. Sometimes we have to be flexible. Adjust on the fly if you can, and never be afraid to laugh at yourself. We didn’t get our sandwiches for the game, but we had absolutely yummy leftovers for lunch the next couple of days. Laugh it off and move on. Sometimes we learn as much from our mis-adventures as we do from our successes!

 

P.S. Happy National Hot Pastrami Day!

 

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