Status

Typical Day of Eats

I’m going to start posting more of my eats on the blog this year and I wanted to start off with what a typical day looks like.  This way if I say, “Standard breakfast and lunch”, you know what that means and won’t get bored seeing those same things over and over again.

Dinners are more varied, more fun (for me anyway), and our biggest meal of the day.

Breakfast:

greek yogurt, granola, banana

2% Greek yogurt with homemade granola and sliced banana with a little sprinkle of unsweetened coconut chips. Coffee with almond milk on the side.  Not a huge breakfast but the fat in the yogurt helps keep me full and satisfied.  I also add eggs to the granola mix when I make for added protein.  Right now the granola is just toasted and spiced oatmeal.  If you like, you can always add nuts, dried fruit, and heck even chocolate chips if you want.

Lunch:

Salad and smoothie

Salad with small amount of protein (2-3oz) and a smoothie.  The protein in the salads vary from hard boiled eggs, to salmon, to leftover chicken.  Sometimes even beans. Depends on what I feel like that day and what I have on hand that is the easiest to grab.

The protein helps me feel way more satisfied and it also means that I don’t need a salad the size of my head to be full.

Smoothie is pretty typical:

  • 2.5 C water
  • Big bunch of greens (Either spinach, kale, or chard)
  • 1.5 Frozen bananas
  • 1/2-1C Frozen fruit (blueberries, mango, peaches)
  • 1tsp Coconut Oil

Sometimes I sub in 1C almond milk but not very often.  I don’t count calories really but I try to be mindful of them. Since I have almond milk in my morning coffee, I don’t really need it in the smoothie.

The coconut oil helps provide much needed fat.  Most vitamins and minerals in fruits and veggies are fat soluble, which means our bodies can’t break them down and absorb them properly unless they are paired with a fat.  Coconut oil does the trick!

This amount makes two smoothies, one me and one for Scott.

Dinner:

Mahi mahi tacos

(Horrible picture I know, but until I figure out a solution to take night pictures, this is the best it gets.)

Mahi Mahi tacos, rice, and some green beans.  I would have had some avocado for the mahi mahi but I was out! Darn it!  I made extra portions of fish so there would be enough for leftovers the following day.

Some dinners are a little bigger but most times it’s a protein with some veggies and occasionally starch.  Dinner is my favorite meal of the day because I like spending the time in the evenings to prepare it.  It’s my relaxing down time.

There’s a saying that goes, you should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.

That doesn’t really work for me.   A smaller breakfast and lunch followed by a larger dinner is what makes me feel the best.  Occasionally I’ll have an egg and some fruit for breakfast if I’m feeling a little more hungry in the morning or if I really don’t feel like yogurt.  I still keep the portions small, one egg with fruit and maybe an English muffin, this way I will still be hungry for lunch.

A larger breakfast, say eggs with bacon, toast, and potatoes keeps me full for a very long time so I typically keep that style of breakfast to the weekend.  Since it keeps me full for a while it usually results in me skipping lunch altogether and going right into dinner.  This is OK sometimes but not all the time. I really enjoy eating lunch and having that afternoon salad.

I’m also not much of a snacker.  Three full meals a day suits me just fine.  I don’t need snacks to help me get from one meal to the next.  As much as I enjoy food and eating, I don’t like eating all time and snacks make me feel that way. Like I’m just constantly eating.

Routine works for me and I don’t get bored with my breakfasts or lunch.  Plus it makes meal prep during the week a heck of a lot easier!  If I’m always having the same thing for 2 out of 3 meals, then I can focus more on dinner and planning that for the week.

Again, I’m in no way suggesting that everyone try this because what works for one person probably isn’t going to work for someone else.  We all have different tastes and different needs.

The goal is to pay attention to the meals we eat and how they make us feel.  Do we feel energized and satisfied or do we feel sleepy and blah?  Do we have energy the next day for work and working out or are we dragging our butts?  Once we figure out what makes us feel amazing it’s a lot easier to keep doing that!

 

 

Status

Coffee and Almond Milk

 

Almond Milk and CoffeeGiving up milk in my morning coffee left me sad.  I like my morning coffee to be creamy with a little sweetness.  I don’t add sugar to coffee but was able to get that sweetness from the milk.  Taking that away meant that I needed a substitute and the search for something suitable took me months.

I tried everything and was coming up short.

I tried bulletproof coffee and I tried coffee with just a little bit of coconut oil and a dash of coconut sugar.  All of this was fine but it wasn’t good.  I wanted good.

Morning coffee is one of my favorite routines and eases me into the day.  I’m not dependent on coffee and I don’t have withdrawals when I go without.  I really just enjoy the whole process of it.  Grinding the beans, that first smell of brewed coffee, and making a cup to take to my desk.

I love this whole thing about mornings.

So when looking for a replacement to milk, I didn’t want coffee to become this process and something that isn’t sustainable.

With bulletproof or coconut oil coffee, the blender was needed which meant another thing was dirty and needed washed.  Plus, how would I make this while traveling?  Too much of a process and not sustainable.

I started testing out non-dairy milks.  Most of the almond milks I tried ended up having a weird taste in coffee. Coconut milk from the dairy aisle tasted like a mess of chemicals.  None of those played well in coffee, the milk sank, separated, and never mixed unless I used the blender.   Vanilla almond milk + a pat of butter in the blender tasted like a latte but that became a whole process and I’m not looking for added fat in my coffee.  That might be a nice special treat but not daily.

Canned full fat coconut milk was awesome but not cost effective.  Even the cheapest can is $0.99 and that only lasts for about a day.

Finally, FINALLY, I found a good solution.  Califia Farms makes almond milk that plays nicely with coffee and you don’t have to bust out a blender either.

It is a little bit more pricy but worth it.  Their flavored milks have very little sugar which is nice especially if you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake.  I prefer the vanilla almond milk but have also used the toasted coconut as well and they both work well to make tasty coffee.

Yes there is an adjustment period going from milk to almond milk, but it doesn’t last long.  I heat the almond milk up slightly (don’t take it past a simmer or it starts to break down) and then pour the coffee right on top.  They blend together and I’m back to having creamy slightly sweet coffee in the mornings.

Not a big process since the blender is no longer needed.  Also sustainable because most coffee houses offer almond milk as an alternative to cream.

Does it taste like real milk? No, that’s why there is an adjustment period.

I can only find this brand at my local Whole Foods but since it brought back the joy of morning coffee, it’s worth it.

If you’re wondering, Scott is able to handle milk just fine so he uses 100% grass-fed milk in his coffee.  I also can only find that at Whole Foods.

It did take several months for me to find a good replacement but now I’m back to being a happy girl with her morning cup of coffee!

 

Disclaimer: This is NOT an ad for Califia Farms, they don’t even know I exist.  I really enjoy their almond milk and am sharing that with you.

Status

Putting Milk Aside

 

Fresh Milk When we first moved to Colorado we started using milk in our coffee.  It was so easy and convenient because it was delivered right to our door each week.  The milk we got delivered wasn’t too bad, not fully pastured but I believed it to be pretty close and it was local.  I assumed this had to be better for us than the soy milk we were previously using for coffee and cooking.

As much as I enjoyed the milk, it didn’t love me apparently.  I started having digestive issues.  I didn’t equate it to the milk until two years later.  Yeah that’s a long time but I didn’t have any of the typical symptoms of someone who can’t tolerate milk.

There was no bloating (that I noticed at the time), no gas, stomach pains or cramps.  Nothing like that.  But it was clear that my digestion was way off and not where it should be.

Then I started not being able to tolerate other foods that I loved, like seeds and nuts.  Anytime I had those, I was immediately running to the bathroom.

That was my wake-up call.  Something isn’t right and I need to do something about it.  I decided to cut out milk as that made the most sense since that was the only big dietary change I’d made in the last two years.

Scott and I used to drink milk all the time until we learned that conventional milk at the store is horrible, so we gave it up cold turkey and went straight to soy milk.

Until this move, we hadn’t had milk consistently in coffee for over 10 years (only on the rare occasion when out for breakfast).  That’s a long time.  Not that we gave up dairy completely we just weren’t consuming straight up milk any longer.  Diving headfirst back in to milk consumption, I think it was too much of a shock to my system.

I gave it up for a couple of weeks and then tried to reintroduce it back in.  That didn’t go over so well so I decided to cut it out completely.

I have learned that I do not process large amounts of dairy very well.  I overlooked my symptoms because they weren’t the “standard issue” that you typically hear about with milk intolerance. These were the symptoms I suffered from:

  • Nagging blemishes on my chin that wouldn’t go away.
  • Bad digestion and needing to use the restroom multiple times a day.
  • Hair loss, I was pulling hair out by the handful whenever I washed my hair.
  • Constant bloated stomach.

Once I eliminated milk all of those things went away.  I didn’t even realize I had a bloated stomach until I cut out milk!  A week of no dairy and my stomach didn’t feel “as big” as it used to.  The hair loss surprised me the most. I was shocked to find it was related.  This whole process was very eye opening.

I do not have to eliminate all dairy.  I can handle yogurt just fine.  I can also do butter and cheese in small amounts. The main issue was straight up whole milk in my morning coffee every day multiple times a day.  It was just too much for my system to handle and my body couldn’t process it at all.

I’m currently working on repairing and restoring my digestive tract.  It was mistreated for two years so it’s taking some time to get it back to normal.  At this point I’m able to handle small amounts of seeds again in salads and I can also handle almond milk and almond butter.  I have a little ways to go before I can do whole nuts again.

But this left me lacking something for my morning coffee!  I’ll be chatting about making the switch to almond milk later this week.

 

 

Status

2015 Phrase For The Year

Asian Noodle Bowl

Welcome to a brand new year!  When I think of new beginnings, regrouping, and cleaning up, I always equate that to Pho or some sort of Asian noodle soup.  It’s full of simple ingredients that leaves you feeling satisfied.  That’s how goals should be; simple and with a sense of accomplishment. At the end of the year when you look back and reflect, life should leave you feeling satisfied.

What? I’m a food blogger, of course I’m going to relate stuff to food!

2015 is upon us and that means it’s time for goal setting and planning out the year.  For us, this is the year of changes and getting shit done.

A few years ago I stumbled across the concept of picking a word to represent a new year.  The idea is that you pick a word at the start of a new year and use that word for guidance and motivation through the year.  It’s been several years since I’ve done this because for the past two years I’ve been feeling very blah and unmotivated in life.

This year is different.  I’m done feeling blah and unmotivated.  Honestly, I’m OVER IT.

I am determined to make 2015 amazing and I’m not going to let anything, including myself, get in the way of that.

There are several things that I am looking to accomplish this year.

Meal planning and prepping.  Both Scott and I feel our best when we eat home cooked meals full of nourishing real foods.  Sure there will be the occasional meal out but we are looking to keep that very limited.

Getting back into a workout routine.  We’ve already started Insanity MAX:30 and at the end of this week, Scott and I will have completed month 1!  Working out became nonexistent after moving here.  Lots of reasons and lots of excuses but again, I’m OVER IT.  No more, working out is going to become a part of our lives again.

Cleaning up and organizing our house.  We are coming up on our second year in this house and it’s time to make it ours.  When we moved in, we were so exhausted from moving twice in two years that we just dumped everything in this house and have been living in a a sort of quiet chaos.  It’s time to paint rooms, clean up,  and get started on making this house exactly how we want it.

Because Scott and I have all these plans, we keep referring to 2015 as The Year of Doing.  So instead of picking a word for the year I picked a phrase.

DO IT.

Or as Scott says,

There’s Nothing To It, Just Do It.

Yup.

This applies to everything from working out to organizing the basement.  Whenever I start procrastinating or dread getting started on a project, I’m going to go back to this phrase.  I’m just going to do it.

No excuses and no complaining.  Well maybe there will be a little complaining, let’s be realistic here.

I’ve already started meal planning and prepping for this week.  I’ve knocked a few things off my to-do list and I’m ready to jump into 2015 both feet first and make it awesome.

How about you? What are your goals for this year?

 

Status

Two Unique Gifts To Give This Season

I haven’t done gift guides in several years but this year I came across two unique ideas that I think would make great gifts for the holidays.  One is global while the other one is local.

World Vision is a program that focuses on helping and providing countries and families in need items that would be most beneficial to them.  With donations they work towards providing things like clean water, goats and chickens to families, providing education, and food for kids.  There are many categories that someone can choose from and donate to the cause they feel most passionate about.  There are suggestions for donation amounts with examples of what that would provide to someone.  For example, $100 could provide a goat and two chickens to a family which in turn provides a steady supply of food and milk to that family.

Hand carved spice box

They also feature some handmade gifts that are all fair trade and made by those that World Vision is supporting.  Each gift requires a donation but the shipping is free and this donation benefits those that need it most.  This would be the perfect option if you’d still like to give someone a gift they can use all while donating to a good cause.

I was sent this hand carved cinnamon box as an example of the kinds of gifts available.  It is a box made from cinnamon bark with the Asian symbol for prosperity on it.  It also contains 3oz of Vietnam Cinnamon from the Cassia Tree.  Which is a renewable resource providing jobs for families.  There are other handmade gifts available which I encourage you to check out.

This would made a great gift for someone you care about.  It’s unique and is a gift that provides so much to those in need.

Coffee Registry Delivered Coffee

My next recommendation is closer to home and something local that is perfect for the coffee lover in your life.

The Coffee Registry roasts their own coffee beans and delivers them fresh right to your door!  We’ve been using this service for several months and love it.  Depending on where you live in Fort Collins, you’ll either get coffee delivered twice a month (1st and 3rd Wednesdays) or once a month.  Each delivery is different providing a chance to explore different beans, roasts, and country of origin.  Plus we get to support a local business so it’s a win for everyone.

David, owner of The Coffee Registry, also makes custom pour over stands.  There are several to pick from, this one called Curator, just happens to be my favorite.  It has an awesome steampunk quality to it!

Curator Pour Over Coffee Stand by The Coffee Registry

(Image courtesy of The Coffee Registry)

Each stand is made using American walnut base with brass uprights and a glass Hario V60 pour over brewer.

David is providing Food Embrace readers with a bonus pack of 100 filters if you order a custom stand.  Just mention Food Embrace in the comments when you order one!

Support a local business and provide a unique gift to someone by either signing them up for some coffee delivery or ordering them a custom stand!

With many bloggers providing gifts guides to you this season, I wanted to bring you something a little more unique.  These gifts will definitely bring joy to those on your holiday list!

 

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post nor do I have an affiliate with either company.

 

Status

Resolution To The Max

Scott and Andrea shoes

Have you thought about the new year and formulated a plan on how you’re going to take back and take charge of your health?  I know that right now we’re all focused on the holidays, and cookies, and booze.  Don’t worry I am too!  BUT we also need to look ahead at this brand new full year ahead of us and decide on how to address our health.

Scott and I are committed to taking back our health and getting back in shape this year.  We’ve let it slack for too long for lots of reasons.  And now it’s time for us to step up and make time for us to be healthy and active again.  How are we going to do that? With tons of support!

Scott and I will be supporting each other but I’m also part of a group challenge as well that will be doing daily check-ins and using each other as accountability partners.  We will be doing the new Insanity: MAX 30 program  It’s a workout at home program, so no gym involved and no equipment other than yourself.

The basics of the program are that it’s a 30 minute program 5 days a week for 60 days.  The workouts are 30 minutes long and you push yourself to the MAX until you either can’t go any longer or you’re starting to lose good form.  It’s a cardio HIIT style workout and each day you strive to do better than you did the day before.  Even if it’s just one more rep or one more move, the goal is to do better each day.

Scott and I are so into this and I want you to join us!  The only thing that you have to buy is the DVDs, there’s no other equipment involved. A one time purchase for DVDs that you can use over and over again.

My long time blogging friend, Rose, is running the accountability group.  You can read more about the program and the group on her post.

Some folks have started the program already and others are waiting until after the holidays and starting on Jan 5th.  I want you to be a part of our group!  We all have 30 minutes a day that we can dedicate to our health and well being.  WE CAN DO THIS!

If you’re interested in joining our group either comment below or email me: Andrea AT FoodEmbrace.com and I’ll get you connected with our group!  You’ll have the support and motivation that you need to work through this program and complete it.  We will all be supporting and cheering each other on.

Are you with us?  LET’S DO THIS!

Status

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

 

This was hands down the best Thanksgiving we had since we moved to Fort Collins.  Our first year here, I was still getting my bearings around where to shop and find local ingredients.  Plus we had only been here a couple of months and I was still learning about our new city along with missing some things from our previous city.  It wasn’t much of a celebration to be honest.

Last year we were in a brand new house with two new dogs and we weren’t sure how they would handle all the new changes that come with the holidays.  This year we are settled, the dogs are settled, and I’ve got my routine figured out and that meant that Thanksgiving was awesome.

Our fridge is small and is pretty much barely functional.  I mean, as a storage unit, it works properly keeping things cold.  I didn’t think there would be room to brine but Scott worked his magic packing skills and was able to fit two huge bowls in the fridge.  For the turkey, I purchased two breasts and two legs from Whole Foods along with two wings.  The wings I used to make turkey stock and I did that using the slow cooker (more on that in another post!).

I bourbon brined the turkey and we had collards, mashed potatoes, and gravy, and cranberry sauce (new recipe!).  Scott also requested some stuffing this year so I made a small dish of that as well.  Everything turned out fantastic and the turkey was even better as leftovers.

The day was relaxing and warm.  So warm I had to open the windows to let some fresh air in to clear out the steam from cooking!  Most of the day was spent in PJs eating, drinking, and hanging out with the pups.

It was glorious and later we had pumpkin pie for dessert.

I could not have asked for a more perfect day.

The Christmas decorations are out and I can’t wait to unplug for a couple of weeks and just hang out.  Definitely my most favorite time of year!

Tell me about your holiday!

Status

Creating A Thanksgiving Week Schedule

Thanksgiving 2011

I fully intended on creating a lovely Thanksgiving Schedule in PDF format. One that was easily printable and you could hang it up on the fridge to have on hand.  Well best laid plans and all that.  I tried designing a nice schedule and nothing was working out the way it needed to.  So many days and beers later, here we are.

I am still sharing a schedule with you to give you an idea of how you can plan out Thanksgiving week, it just won’t be all kinds of infographic pretty.  I know that you have also tried to design something using a “user friendly” design program and so I know you can relate to how frustrating those programs can be.

All that said, it’s Thanksgiving week so let’s get in the kitchen and get cooking!  When creating a schedule always think about things that can be prepped ahead and how far ahead they can be prepped.  Veggies can be chopped up early in the week and the pie and rolls can be made early on as well.

Here’s a sample schedule (which is actually my schedule for this week!) to give you an idea of how to plan out the week.

THANKSGIVING WEEK SCHEDULE

MONDAY:

  • Finish any last minute grocery shopping.
  • Put turkey in fridge to start thawing.
  • Make stock.

TUESDAY:

  • Prep and chop any veggies that you will be using (carrots, celery, onions, green beans, collards, etc).
  • Make rolls (if you are making rolls).

WEDNESDAY:

THURSDAY:

  • Prep turkey and get it in the oven.
  • Have a drink.
  • Reheat the collards in the slow cooker.
  • Have a drink.
  • Cook and mash the potatoes.
  • Have a drink.
  • Warm up the rolls (if you made them).
  • Have a drink.
  • Make gravy.
  • Have a drink.
  • When the turkey is cooked and resting, heat up stuffing and green bean casserole.
  • Have a drink.
  • Serve pie after dinner.
  • Have a drink.

FRIDAY:

EAT ALL THE LEFTOVERS WHILE IN YOUR PJs.

Wednesday is a big cooking day when you’ll be doing the most prepping.  Thursday will be a lot more relaxed because most of the work is already done.  All you’ll have to do is cook the turkey, make mashed potatoes, and make gravy.  Everything else is done and will just need to be reheated!

This schedule is just to give you an idea of how you can prep and plan ahead so you aren’t making everything on Thursday.  Time in the kitchen is spaced out over the week which means you’ll be more relaxed on the big day and can enjoy it more!  It’s a guideline and you can adjust it to include the menu items that you’ll be making.

I’ve already got Monday knocked out including last minute shopping!  I headed out early today and the stores weren’t too bad.  Though Whole Foods was starting to get crazy as I was leaving.  I’ve got stock going in the crockpot and the turkey is in the fridge!

Now go and knock out this week like a pro!

Status

Thanksgiving Planning: Get Those Dishes In Order

Thanksgiving Dinner

Because there is so much prepping and food involved with Thanksgiving, people tend to overlook what items they will need to actually cook and serve the food they plan on making.

With Thanksgiving being a week away, take this time to figure out what you will be using and to plan where it will go.

Sound odd? Let me explain it a bit, this is the point where you want to decide on which baking dish the stuffing is going in, which bowl the mashed potatoes will be served in, etc.  This is especially important for dishes that need to be heated up in the oven.  Once you’ve decided on the dishes, you can play around with placement in the oven and figuring out cooking times.

What goes where in the oven and when does it go in?  For example, stuffing takes longer to cook through than green bean casserole so you’d want that to go in first.  And you will want to make sure the items that do need heated up can share space and all fit in the oven.

Once you have the baking and cookware items picked and you know they will all fit in the oven when they need to, it’s time to move on to the table.  Whether you’re doing a buffet style set up or a big sit down to-do, you need to make sure all the food items will fit on the table.

Pick out what serving dishes you’d like to use for the big day and start arranging them on the table.  Trust me, it’s a lot easier to figure this out when the dishes are empty instead of trying to do it the day of when they are full of hot food and surrounded by hungry guests!

I know, this sounds like a lot of work.  But by tackling these little details before Thanksgiving, it makes the big day run so much smoother eliminating a lot of stress. Once you have the casserole dishes picked out and the serving bowls decided on, you can set those aside so they are ready to go when you need them.

Make a list of what kitchen items you’ll need and then go through that check list and pull all of those items out setting them aside.  Checking items off the list can be done the night before.  When it comes time to start cooking, you’ll have everything ready to grab and go.

Don’t forget that many things can be made the day before so that this will save you even more time on Thanksgiving Day allowing you to spend more time with your family and further reducing some stress.

Things like a roux for gravy or even the gravy can be made the day before.  So can the stuffing and green bean casserole (wait until you heat it up to add the crispy onions).

I’ll be providing you with an example schedule on getting you through the week of Thanksgiving!  Shopping days, when items can get prepped, and what things can get made ahead so keep an eye out for that!

In the meantime, start getting those dishes picked out!

Status

Brine, Glorious Brine

Bourbon Brined Turkey

A brined turkey is a glorious thing!  It seems daunting but it’s actually very simple to do.  Yeah you’ll need some special equipment and figure out spacing in the fridge but it’s totally worth it!

For a basic brine you will need:

  • Kosher Salt
  • Brown Sugar
  • Water
  • A large bucket

You can purchase a 5 gallon bucket at any home improvement store and they are not in any way expensive. I promise they are budget friendly!  Clean it with dish soap and hot water and then label it as a “food bucket” that way you won’t be tempted to use it for something else and contaminate it.

You’ll need to be able to fit the bucket in your fridge for 24 hours.  If you live in an area where it’s super cold outside (under 20 degrees F) you can keep it outside.  Just remember to keep it safe so no animals are tempted to eat your Thanksgiving bird!

If you don’t have room in your fridge to fit a 5 gallon bucket (I currently do not) and your heart isn’t set on roasting a whole turkey, you can break the turkey down and brine the breast and legs in separate containers.  That leaves the back and wings leftover and they are perfect for making stock!  Most likely that is what I’ll be doing this year.

I love brining so much that I have already written several articles sharing tips that I’ve learned over the years.  Here’s a couple to get you started!

Brining A Whole Turkey (a how to)

Tips on Brining (Including seasonings and liquids you can use in a brine)

Bourbon Brined Turkey because holidays should always include booze.

So don’t be scared, give that turkey a good brine bath this year!