Thinking Out Loud: Animals!

I’m linking up with Amanda this week to share my thoughts in her Thinking Out Loud link up….

This week I am having mixed emotions about our last week with the pigs! 

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This Saturday they go to become bacon. They’ve been with us since March, and I understand meat is what we got them for but it doesn’t make it any easier! I remember when they were just tiny little guys. 

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 It’s hard coming to terms with the fact an animal has to die for me to eat, however I think it’s important to face up to this fact. Many people respond with ‘I’d rather not know about it.’ I don’t agree with that. I really don’t feel that I ought to be eating meat if I’m not ready to face this fact. And when it comes to stuff I’m eating ‘not knowing about it’ doesn’t jive very well for me. 

The chickens were one thing….  we only had them for 8 weeks. The pigs are a bigger deal because I’ve been caring for them since March. Before we did the chickens a farmer that I get food from told me that you’re giving the animal the best life possible and you know you cared for it the best you could and gave it a good life while it was with you. Every time I had to get up early to care for them proves that I did give them the best life. I think anyone who wouldn’t have at least a little uneasiness about sending something you’ve cared for for 6 mos away to die wouldn’t be normal. 

Anyways…. Expect some pork recipes! 

In other news, school started and for the first week I did a fun project where the kids had to write three statements to tell the world (got the idea from Olive to Run). I snapped a picture of each of them and then made them into the movie. I can’t add the movie because it has kids’ faces, but here are some good ones. 

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I pretty much squealed when I opened the mailbox the other day to find my free samples of AMRAP bars!!

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I had been waiting patiently for my samples and they finally came. I cannot wait to try these, they look delicious…especially the fig flavor. I’m obsessed with figs.

This week I finished doggy obedience classes with our new dog, Anna. They were mildly helpful. The key is you have to practice a lot at home which I haven’t been the best at but we will work on it! You think these two are friends yet?

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If ‘friends’ means incessantly bothering one another 100% of the time, then they’re definitely best friends.

I found this picture of Frank when he was little and my heart melted a little bit.

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Just a wittle baby!!!

That’s all for today- trying to post more often now that I’m back in a routine!

Have you ever taken your dog to obedience classes??

Have you tried AMRAP bars??

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What I ate Wednesday- Paleo Cookie Dough Bites

I thought I’d join the party hosted by Jenn to share what I ate on Wednesday Tuesday this week. Back to school means back to a routine…meaning I’m not around the house all day with the temptation to snack…which I love! It also means back to prepping food on Sundays all day. I like prepping food, but it sure makes for a short weekend when you’re getting ready for the week all day on Sunday.

What I Ate Wednesday: FALL into Good Habits

Prepping all my food on Sunday definitely is the only way that I can manage eating healthy all week though, so in my mind it’s worth it!

Breakfasts this week have been an old favorite:

pumpkin pie breakfast bake

My ‘pumpkin pie’ breakfast bake made with butternut squash. I had mine topped with some homemade almond butter and it was fantastic at keeping me full until lunch.

 Saturday I made chicken soup from the chicken we ate last week, and Sunday I prepped some of Nom Nom Paleo’s spicy tuna salmon cakes. The cakes are great for a quick lunch protein. They are delicious!

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The soup I made from boiling chicken bones in the pressure cooker then adding carrots, onions, leeks and kale. Looks gross but tastes good. Hopefully the bone broth will help me battle the cold I think I’m getting……#backtoschoolprobs

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When I got home I had an after school snack of a hard boiled egg and a homemade cookie dough larabar.

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For some reason my yolks have been less orange lately. I think it’s the changing weather and the fact that I got this new feed for my chickens last month when we ran out and I was in a pinch. I’m not sure what’s wrong but most of our chickens seen like they’re losing weight.

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These cookie dough bites are the best! Not a totally unique recipe by any means… I used some ideas from around the web. Quite simple to make.

 

Paleo Cookie Dough Bites
Yields 12
A simple, delicious, whole food snack for after work.
Write a review
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup pitted dates (about 10-15)
  2. 1 cup raw cashews
  3. 2 tbsp almond butter * or other nut butter
  4. 1 tbsp coconut oil
  5. 1/4 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Heat up about 1/2 cup of water on the stove. Once the water is boiling, put the dates in the water then turn off.
  2. Let the dates soak for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Place everything but the chocolate chips in a food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together.
  4. Place the mixture in a bowl and fold in the chocolate chips
  5. Form into ball shapes- this made about 12 bites
Pencils and Pancakes http://pencilsandpancakes.com/
Every week for the past couple weeks have been including a lot of chicken…..our homegrown chicken! It is SO good. Yea, there may be a few more feathers to pluck out but I get over it! I will typically roast a chicken the first night, then use leftovers to create other meals for two more nights. Then any more leftovers are used for our lunches. One chicken tends to last most of the week. Last night’s was night #1 so we had roasted chicken, curry spiced parsnip fries and salad.

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And that’s what I ate in a day, folks. Have a good hump day!

Do you prep on Sundays or feel that it’s not worth it?

How many snacks do you normally have in a day?

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PiYo Workout Program

Yesterday morning I finished, in full, the entire PiYo workout program from BeachBody. It feels great! I was so excited when I found out there was going to be a high-intensity, low impact program from this company. I had toyed around with doing things like P90X or T25 for awhile, but I knew with my history of back injuries , my body just couldn’t handle the jumping and high impact moves.

If you’re not familiar with what PiYo is…this is from the website:

PiYo combines the muscle-sculpting, core-firming benefits of Pilates with the strength and flexibility advantages of yoga. And, we crank up the speed to deliver a true fat-burning, low-impact workout that leaves your body looking long, lean, and incredibly defined.

 

 

 

I love Yoga, so I liked the idea of making Yoga into an intense workout for my body. I ordered the program as soon as I came out.

It was important to me that I followed the program in full….not just do it for a week or two then quit. I can only think of 2-3 days TOPS that I didn’t do the scheduled workout. So I’m pretty proud of myself! After doing the whole two months here’s what I found.

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Pros:

  • Since there was a schedule, I felt obligated to do the workout even when I didn’t feel like it.
  • It was seriously intense. I haven’t sweat that much since I was doing intense workouts before I hurt my back, in a good way though!
  • It really was low impact 95% of the time- no jumping.
  • You needed absolutely no equipment.
  • Pretty inexpensive.
  • Workouts were all short (under an hour)

Cons:

  • I also felt obligated to follow the schedule even when my body was telling me to take a break.
  • IT WAS INTENSE……
  • You only got one day off a week.
  • Pushing yourself was emphasized over listening to your body.
  • I definitely got bored of it after 8 weeks…..maybe that’s just me because I get bored of every workout I’ve been doing for a long time.
  • I lost most of my arm strength from not lifting….it was very leg heavy.

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So to sum it up….the workouts were great and effective but 6 days a week is too much for my body to handle. I actually ended up taking a WHOLE week off in the middle of the program, then resumed and started the second month. I take a week off of working out every now and then to recharge my body, and the workouts were just VERY leg work heavy. I have issues with my back, legs and hips cramping up and going into dysfunction causing muscle aches and pains. So all those lunges, squats, etc. started adding up and causing me pain. In the videos she has more of a “push yourself” mentality rather than a “listen to your body” mentality, which I can totally appreciate. But it worries me that people new to working out will “push themselves” into an injury (like I did) because they think that they just need to ignore the pain. That’s my only beef with the program. I, personally, really really need more than one day off a week. If people don’t need that….this program is great! And the program is great any way, honestly. I felt amazing and stronger after every single workout.

The million dollar question….did I see results/lose weight? Well I wasn’t really trying to lose weight, to be honest. I didn’t take ‘before’ pictures. My measurements pretty much stayed the same. But that might have more to do with my summer diet of food and drinks than it does the program. If I kept the diet tight during those two months I probably would have seen results. I really don’t care though and I wasn’t trying to lose weight….so whatever.

I will definitely keep incooporating these videos in my workout plan even though I am done the program. I plan on mixing them in 2-3 times a week and adding some weight training back in. And I will most definitely be taking at least 2 rest days!

Disclaimer: All opinions in this post are my own, I was not sent any PiYo materials free of charge. This was just my own personal review of PiYo, a registered trademark of BeachBody fitness products. Description and photo from Beachbody.com.

Have you tried PiYo?

How many rest days do you take?

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Plantain Fries

If you don’t eat plantains at least once a week, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. Especially if you complain that ‘paleo has no carbs’ or whatever…which is completely untrue. I’m pretty sure I’m a carbo-holic. That’s why I love plantains so much. Did you know a bowl of plain, no sugar or toppings added, ONE serving size of oatmeal has more carbs than a plantain? And when I used to eat oatmeal there was not one time I ever ate it plain. So eating a plantain for breakfast still has less carbs (if you care about that anyway) than oatmeal. It’s a great way to refuel after a hard workout, or fuel yourself for the day.

Usually I’ll gobble up the carby good-ness in the form of plantain chips, which are equally as delicious. But there’s something naughty about eating them in fry form. For breakfast. Dipped in runny egg yolk. It’s what I wake up for, most days.

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Plantain Fries

Serves: 1 Prep time: 2 minutes Cook time: 20-25 minutes

1 large plantain (in the middle of green and yellow works best).

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Peel your plantain. That sounded entirely too simple. I peel plantains by first cutting off the ends. Then I run my knife down the front of the entire plantain. Then I wedge my fingers underneath the skin of the cut and pry the peel off.

3. Cut the peeled plantain in half, then into 1” fry shapes. Place on large baking sheet. Make sure they don’t overlap.

4. Sprinkle with cinnamon, salt and pepper.

5. Pour melted coconut oil over them and mix up so they are all coated. Make sure the plantains lay flat and do not overlap.

6. Cook for roughly 15 minutes, then take them out and flip/mix around. Cook for 10 more minutes, or until they appear crispy and golden brown.

7. Let them cool and enjoy!!

plantain fries

If you have super human self control, or are cooking for more people, you could double or triple the recipe and increase the cooking time on both sides. However whenever I end up making more to “save for later” I find myself going to the fridge to inhale them all in one day. So now I just make one serving at a time.

Here’s a great video about peeling plantains from The Paleo Mom. However, I don’t like to use totally green plantains for this recipe. I like it when they are in the middle of green and yellow. Too green and they come out like rocks. Too yellow and they are all mushy (which is fine, but I like a sturdier fry). Once you start buying plantains  you’ll understand the difference. And sometimes when I go to the store all they have is green or yellow so beggars can’t be choosers. Plantains are easily my favorite food! Hope you enjoy!!

What are your favorite Paleo carbs?

Have you ever tried plantains?

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“Chicken Parm” Stuffed Summer Squash

Yup, you guessed it that most of my recipes for the time being will include:

1) Squash    and

2) Chicken

I have to think of some way to utilize the fresh food I am growing and raising!

Next year I have to better plan my garden. I think this year my thoughts about it were “grow ALL THE THINGS!!” and I basically planted as much as I thought I wanted of everything.

This leads to an overwhelming surplus of one type of food at one time. I hate wasting food I feel infinitely guilty throwing extra squash to the pigs. I know it’s better then throwing it away but I can do way better next year on the planning front.

Recently I have come into boundless amounts of squash and cucumbers, which I have been preserving and pickling. I have even been pickling some of the extra zucchini to make relish. This is my first year doing this so hopefully I’m doing it right and we don’t die of botulism when we eat all this stuff later in the year.

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pickles

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It’s hard to believe this is how people used to eat…growing everything in the summer and preserving it for the winter. Totally something we don’t take into account today. We can get any fruit or vegetable any time of the year and quite frankly it’s unnatural. We are spoiled with being able to make strawberry pie in the winter never stopping to think if that’s normal. We would get sick of eating potatoes, winter squash and carrots all winter like people used to do.

Anyways, since locally sourcing my meat we rarely get chicken anymore, except for in the summer (since it’s a SUMMER meat…who would have thought…). Now that I have 33 fresh ones in the freezer I finally get to get creative with chicken recipes…..first up: stuffed squash! Killing two birds (ha, pun totally intended) with one stone…using up the squash and chicken. This was super tasty with or without cheese!

Chicken parm Stuffed summer squash

Prep time: 15 mins / Cook time: 10 mins/ Serves: 2

 

stuffed summer squash

1 large summer squash (zucchini will work too)

1 large, cooked chicken breast (approx 4-6 oz), diced

1 cup tomato sauce (mine was homemade!)

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

handful of fresh basil, chopped

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

handful of mozzarella and parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 375. Carefully cut your summer squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides gently so you are left with a hollow shell.

2. Rub with coconut oil, season with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish in the oven while you prep the rest of the meal.

3. Heat up some coconut oil in a large skillet on medium. Throw in the garlic and onion and let soften. After about 3-4 minutes, throw in your diced, cooked chicken breast.** Season with the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

4. Pour in the tomato sauce. Simmer on low for 5 minutes until everything is incorporated. Then, throw in the basil.

5. Take the summer squash out of the oven (hopefully at this point it was in there for roughly 15 minutes). Carefully (it will be hot!) spoon the chicken mixture into the squash shells. Sprinkle with cheese if using.

6. Turn off the oven then turn your broiler on high. Place the squash under the broiler for another 5-8 minutes until the cheese has browned.

chicken parm stuffed summer squash

summer squash with cheese

** Alternatively, you could start with raw, diced chicken breast, add the chicken to coconut oil in the pan, let cook then add your garlic and onions. This will add about 5 minutes on to the prep time.

What gardening lessons have you learned?

What are your favorite ways to use squash?

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Broiler Chickens: Start to Finish

If you’re thinking about raising broiler chickens for meat to start your homesteading journey…..I have some tips as a first time novice. First off, you have to get the book Pastured Poultry Profits by Joel Salatin. This was the model we followed. If you Google this method you will find lots of information. Doing this for the first time, there are many ways I think we can do it better next year…so if you get the book and still want to jump in, here’s some tips from a beginner!

{I am really unhappy because I typed up this ENTIRE post yesterday, and last night the power went out and I must have lost it all! But right now I am procrastinating going to the dump…and it’s pouring out…so I guess I will type it up again!}

We ordered the chicks from Cackle hatchery. They came exactly when they said they would come. One was dead on arrival. The first mistake we made was that the brooder was not big enough. It was probably sufficient for about a week and a half then it became apparent the chicks needed more room. It was at 14 days (the soonest the book says to do it was 12) that we put them outside on the grass.

brooder

The chicken pen was a Salatin style, floorless frame surrounded by chicken wire with aluminum on top. The book says you can put 70 chickens in a 10X12 pen, and we had 33 in a 5X5 pen. I’m not gonna lie it got pretty cramped in there the last week or so…so a bigger pen might be needed.

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We (my husband) constructed the pen out of materials we already had; old pallets and chicken wire laying around the farm. The idea is that you move the pen every day so the chickens have a fresh patch of grass. The next mistake was just putting the pen in our backyard that had already mowed grass. One reason was because it smelled AWFUL while laying by the pool and another reason was that the grass wasn’t long enough to support the chickens in becoming efficient foragers. This lead us to have to supplement with more grain than I would have liked.

feeding chickens

me feeding chickens…snap chat edition lol

We used Agway’s Meat Bird Feed, which wasn’t organic, but we just tried to do what we could starting out. The organic kind was twice as much and we weren’t trying to sell them as organic or anything so it didn’t really matter. The feed was not medicated. The issue was that we did not build the automatic waterer that he outlines in the book, and our feed trough was not nearly big enough towards the end. So we ended up having to go refill the feed and water 3-5 times a day! That’s a of time…especially since the book boasts you will only have to spend 1 min per pen each day. So next year we have to figure something out for the food and water. It made it really difficult if I was going away for the day because my husband works long hours and the chickens are supposed to be on feed all day long.

And…..then came the hard part. In just 6-7 short weeks the birds were ready! It’s hard to believe that they grow so fast. This Jumbo Cornish Cross breed is specially designed to grow fast for commercial meat production. This is another great thing about meat chickens if you’re thinking about doing it. They really don’t monopolize a large length of time (like pigs or cows).

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So when it came to the processing I really tried to “chicken” out (HA PUNS). I called around to places seeing how much it would be…but in the end it wasn’t worth it to take the birds somewhere for the amount we had. So together my husband and I processed all 33 birds. I never thought I could do it! It was probably the most physically, mentally and emotionally draining thing I have ever done in my life. I didn’t actually do any of the killing, but I cleaned and gutted all of the birds. We thought everything was going to go nice and smooth since we had borrowed an automatic chicken plucker from a friend….until it died on the second bird!! Things were looking bleak at this point…..I had no idea how we were going to hand pluck 30 more birds. But we just pushed through and got it done.

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I can’t explain the feeling of accomplishment I experience looking in the freezer at the end of the day. Knowing that I fed, raised and processed all of this food and I won’t have to buy chicken from the grocery store. People (including me, before this experience) have absolutely NO idea what goes into obtaining their food and it constantly baffles me that we are always trying to save money on food and get the cheapest deal. Like I said with gardening, knowing all the work that goes into providing food for myself would lead me to believe $10 for a tomato is a great deal…… $50 for that chicken would be money well spent! I honestly do not want to know what goes on in conventional slaughter houses that would allow me to purchase chicken at 1.99 a pound; and I can take solace in knowing even though I had to do the dirty work my chickens had a better life than a chicken that sells for that much.

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And it tastes good!!!

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Spicy Sausage and Peppers over Zucchini Noodles

The zucchini onslaught has started in my garden. I think I planted enough to make myself pretty sick of zucchini in about a month…..so I’ve started thinking of ways to use it up and not let it go to waste. I already attempted to freeze some and I don’t think it’s going to turn out that great….have you ever frozen zucchini? My guess is it’s going to be really watery….I guess I could probably use it for a soup.

I have plans for zucchini bread, and my husband really likes it grilled, but I decided to put my spiralizer to work and make zucchini noodles! A great substitute for regular pasta. And for the sauce? We get a yummy plain ground pork from our farmer that I can easily add spice to for variety. The sauce is a spicy, sausage-tasting, Italian meat sauce that gives great flavor to the zucchini noodles.

Before I get to the recipe- we got a dog!!!

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Anna is a 6 month old German Sheppard, redbone hound mix that we adopted from the animal shelter.  She is quite a handful so far! Hopefully I can Google and read enough on dog training to make her more obedient but right now she is very hard to contain.

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She can jump right over that fence. At least she’s potty trained already. The cat’s having a hard time accepting the situation.

Anyway- advice for a new dog would be appreciated! On to the recipe!

Spicy Sausage and Peppers over Zucchini Noodles

sausage and peppers

Serves: 3-4 /Prep time: 15 minutes /Cook Time: 20 minutes

2 cups prepped zucchini noodles (I used this tutorial)

1 lb ground pork, plain

1 jar clean tomato sauce (or homemade)

1 large red pepper, diced

1 large white onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 jalapeño pepper, minced

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons fresh herbs ( I used sage and basil)

1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 black pepper

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the pork until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Take the pork out of the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. With the pan still on, add your coconut oil and heat.

3. Add the onion, pepper, garlic and jalapeño. Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.

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3. Add back in your pork, season with a little salt and pepper.

4. Pour in the jar of tomato sauce.

(You could use a 28 oz can of tomatoes here…or 3-4 cups of homemade sauce. I stopped buying canned tomatoes because of the various health risks; and organic, BPA free is expensive. I found this awesome, local, all natural sauce I’ve been using that’s inexpensive and has clean ingredients. It does have sugar but a small amount. I figure it’s better than buying conventional canned tomatoes.)

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5. Add all your spices and mix well.

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6. Let the sauce simmer for 10-15 more minutes. Serve over the noodles.

 spicy sausage and peppers over zucchini noodles

Yum! I love sausage and peppers!

What brand of canned/jarred tomatoes do you buy?

Any advice for a first time dog owner? Training tips?

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My Mix Protein Powder {Review}

I’ve DEFINITELY had my share of different protein powders….they were one of the first things I started eating regularly when I began eating healthier. My opinion on them has since changed…but I’m not all against protein powders.

Obviously, getting your protein (and nutrients) from a delicious, whole food source is always the better option. That’s why I kind of shunned protein powders when I started eating Paleo. However the protein powder I used to buy was loaded with nasty stuff. Once I started making the ingredients list a priority I allowed protein powder back into my life again. Truth is, not all of us have time to fry up some eggs or breakfast sausages in the morning. Even if I do have time to make breakfast (and I do….because it’s summer) I find myself not wanting a full blown meal for lunch during the summer so a nice protein shake is perfect.

I was lucky to receive a free sample from the site My Mix Nutrition. If you haven’t heard of it, definitely check it out. They offer completely customizable protein powder mixes that fit virtually ANY type of diet- vegan, Paleo, soy-free, etc.

When you first visit the site, you’ll enter some information about yourself, and then you can build your own personal, customized protein powder. It’s awesome!

***Disclaimer: I received a 5 serving sample of My Mix Protein Powder at no charge. All opinions are my own.

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Then you can choose from a whole bunch of different add ins- from supplements for bones and joints, extra vitamins and minerals, energy boosters and weight loss support.

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Finally, you get to flavor your mix!

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Here’s what I went with:

 

Andrea’s Protein Powder:

*Hemp Protein

*Repair and Recovery- L-Glutamine

*Weight Management- L-Carnatine Tartrate

*Functional Support- Joint Supplement

*Chocolate flavor

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I thought it was awesome that the protein powders are completely customizable. I went with hemp protein because I wanted to try something different than whey- plus I didn’t have any information about whether or not the whey protein was from grass-fed cows so I wasn’t too keen on it.

Verdict? This hemp protein powder was FAR more palatable than ANY other hemp protein powder I’ve ever had. You could definitely still taste the earthiness of the hemp, however. When I first found this company I could have SWORN they had egg white protein powder- which I’ve really wanted to try. But when I went to get my sample it was nowhere to be found. I’d be curious to see how the regular protein powder tastes- I’m sure it’s delicious.

I made a couple of different combos with this mix. I always throw in a banana, coconut milk and ice. This day I added some blueberries and kale. I have no shortage of kale!

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hemp protein shake

It was good- interestingly enough I actually found the protein powder a little heavy on the stevia. Putting the kale in definitely helped out.

Overall, I love the idea of being able to customize your own protein powder. It tasted good and I’d be interested to try the whey protein powder as well.

What’s your favorite protein powder?

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Food Blogging Photography Tips {Guest Post}

 

Two posts in one week!?!? What is this?? Well, I can’t give myself all the credit. I have the pleasure of introducing my friend and fellow blogger Lauren for a blog post today on food photography. I reached out to Lauren to write a guest post about this because…let’s face it…we’ve all seen my food photography. Even though my grandfather was an excellent photographer I guess it doesn’t run in the family. I try!!! Hopefully using these tips will make me better.

Anyways, on to the guest post. Lauren is my friend from high school and runs the blog What Lola Likes. I did a guest post for her blog about Paleo yesterday- check it out!

 

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Hi readers! My name is Lauren Garcia, aka Lola of whatlolalikes

I am a Phoenix based lifestyle blogger on food, fashion, and fitness. Andrea and I go way back to first meeting in middle school. From sleepovers to being weekend warrior mall rats; it’s fun to think back on a time when life wasn’t all about careers or paying bills. Although Andrea and I went to separate colleges and I moved across the country, we stayed in touch and I am so happy to be able to guest post on her blog today.

A little bit about myself. Over three years ago in April, I married my husband; becoming determined to really learn my way around the kitchen. Re-creating delicious plates and being inspired by chefs like Giada de Laurentiis, cooking has become so therapeutic and one of my favorite ways to pass free time. Around that same time, I began to think about health and being my happiest self. I started to make exercise a part of my daily routine while training for half marathons and always staying on top of making time for the gym. Most importantly, I have focused on completely changing my diet, which has made such a change in my overall health these past few years. Everyone has their ups and downs when it comes to eating healthy, but it’s getting yourself back on track when you see yourself really starting to slip that will make the biggest change in your overall lifestyle.

As a hobby, I do enjoy taking photographs. I may not know everything about photography but I do know I have improved my #foodporn photo taking skills by just changing a few key elements in my presentation. A few I will share with you all today.

Please note: Husbands/fiancés/boyfriends/friends may get irritated with your photo shoots after each meal is prepared. They will learn to live with it.

1. Use natural light. This is the best advice I can ever give you. Place your plate next to a large window or better yet, do what I do, and go outside. I first learned this easy photo fix when I was living in an apartment, so going outside was pretty comical when people drove passed me. But… you have to do whatever you need to do to get that picture perfect!

 

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Use white plates. My wedding photographer actually gave me this idea and then I started to notice the trend myself. It makes such a difference. If you do not have white plates (which I did not at the time- probably the only person who didn’t register for white plates for her wedding), then use a white paper towel or copy paper if possible.

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Show the process. I like to show the people interested how the food is being made. When taking photographs of the complete meal, consider adding some of the dry ingredients next to the plate.

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Garnish your plate. There is nothing prettier than something that looks like it is out of a magazine or gourmet restaurant. Make the plate look mouthwatering.

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Clean your plate. Make sure that white plate is spotless, meaning no splashes or crumbs are left behind. Spot cleaning may be necessary.

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Angle your lens. Get up in there or take a photograph standing directly over it. Play with the angels for your desired

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Put a filter on it. Especially when using something like Instagram to showcase your foodie efforts, adding a photo filter can make all the difference.

Thank you for taking the time to read this! Feel free to head over to my blog to check out my most recent posts at www.whatlolalikes.com.
 
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Be Kind,
Lola

 

Do you consider yourself a novice or expert with food photography?

What tips helped you learn?

Happy Fourth of July!!!!!!

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How to blanch and freeze kale + a recipe

Well it seems like I have been getting a solid one blog post a week for the last month or so. I’m okay with that. Still really busy with the farm and animals! We put the baby chicks outside yesterday!

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More on that in a separate post. Now that SCHOOL’S DONE!!!! I should have more time for blogging…if laying by the pool and binging on Netflix don’t take precedence.

I don’t know if I mentioned this on the blog or not…but my garden is doing great! I am about up to my ears in kale. This would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that I also joined a CSA. Guess what’s in season there??!!? Lettuce and kale!! I hate wasting food so it seems like such a waste to just compost it or give it to the pigs. I decided I would try preserving it so I could have some when it is not in season. I try to get kale organic and my normal grocery store never has it. So whenever I want it I have to go to Wegmans and it’s usually pretty pricey. I’m happy this year I’ll have an abundance in my freezer.

Freezing kale seemed like a complicated job before I did it…but it really wasn’t.It’s simple to do and will definitely be worth it.

First, I cleaned the stems off the kale and tore the leaves into pieces.

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Then I brought a large pot of water to boiling. I also set up another large bowl with cold water and lots of ice. When the water boils, plunge the kale (I did two batches) into the water and boil for 2 minutes.

Immediately take out the kale and put it into the ice bath to stop cooking.

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I let it sit in the ice bath for about 2 minutes, then I took it out and laid on a paper towel.

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I used the paper towels to squeeze some of the moisture out, then I bagged it up and popped it in the freezer!

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Expect to use the kale much like you would use frozen spinach. I could sauté some onion and garlic and heat up the kale and mix into a casserole….like the following recipe!

I made this recipe with fresh kale, but I will definitely be saving it for later in the year when I’m looking for something to do with all this kale I froze…

Kale Quiche with Coconut Flour Crust

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1 large bunch of kale, stemmed and torn into pieces

1 bell pepper, diced

1 large white onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tbsp coconut oil

6 eggs

2 tbsp coconut milk

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/4 tsp onion powder

1 coconut flour crust ***

***I used this recipe and pre-baked the crust for 15 minutes

1. While your crust is cooking, heat your coconut oil in a large sauté pan. When warmed, add garlic. (Oven should be set to 350).

2. When garlic is fragrant, add the peppers and onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. After the veggies are cooked, add your kale (do it in batches if necessary). It will seem like a lot of kale but it will cook down.

4. Mix the veggies around to reduce the volume of kale. Add a tablespoon or two of water, put a cover on the sauté pan, and cook the kale down for about 5-8 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp of garlic salt and 1/4 tsp of onion powder to the veggies. Also salt and pepper to taste.

5. While the kale is cooking, crack your eggs in a bowl and mix the coconut milk in. Add the rest of your spices.

6.When the veggies are done, quickly add them to the eggs, mix around, and then pour the entire mixture into the prepared pie crust.

7. Bake for 45 minutes or until the quiche is set in the middle. (depends on your pie pan size-mine was very deep).

Of course I decided to bake that on the hottest day of the summer so far. Why?? It was good nonetheless!

How do you preserve your veggies??

Kale- fad or tasty food?

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