midwest FEBRUARY PRODUCE guide
Yes, it's still cold, but the promise of spring is closer for us Midwesterners! Some of February's produce is the same as January, but this month we have the lovely addition of Endive and Radicchio.
Want to learn more than what's on the images below? After clicking the button below, I'll send you the full video training PLUS 2 recipes that use these seasonal ingredients.
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Seriously, it can be done! Eating healthy is NOT just about calories and you CAN overhaul your nutrition without starving. What you are going to learn today is the easiest way easiest way to improve your nutrition.
First of all, if you are new to the realm of cooking, and you're thinking, "I only have like two recipes that I know how to make", I promise you that skill of being able to cook and not need a recipe, it will come with time. But in the meantime, I want you to rely on recipes. There is no shame in that. Because really, they're just serving as inspiration for you. They're teaching you about new food pairings about new spice blends. They're teaching you all of those basic skills. And then over time, once you get better at making those tried and true recipes, you will finally start to feel like a home chef or a foodie.
Now on to my actual tip that I have for you. You need to eat seasonally. Think back to summertime, I'm assuming that every single one of you has probably had a homegrown tomato, and you know how much better that tastes, then which then the tomatoes that you buy at the grocery store. I think we all know that right? Now part of that does have to do with like the dirt that the tomato was grown in. It does have to do with that. But the biggest part is that that tomato was picked off the plant at its peak of freshness. What does that mean? Well, it means that that tomato had as much time as it needed to gain all of the nutrients and vitamins and minerals from the dirt from the sun from everything from the water. It had all of that time to get as nutritious as it can.
So obviously, you don't have to make your entire diet out of seasonal produce, but if you include at least some of the things that are seasonal, you can totally increase the nutritional value in your diet WITHOUT without having to take any extra time, or really take away any calories because who wants to be on a diet? No one.
The other reason that it is so great to eat seasonally is because it saves you money. Why? Because it is so much harder to grow things when they are not in season when they are just not naturally growing.
So I know I threw a lot at you. And especially if you are one of those people who is new to cooking, you're probably thinking, "Oh my gosh, this is a lot". This website (US only) allows you to search by your specific area and by the month to see what's in season:
You can search on Pinterest or Instagram for recipes that include seasonal ingredients, but in my opinion, I think that ends up becoming a major time suck, because I don't know about you, but when I go on Pinterest, I don't end up doing what I went on there for... I end up like designing my dream house or renovating my laundry room... Or if I'm on Instagram, I get sucked into videos of chickens.
So instead of wasting your time researching seasonal recipes, I recommend having a trusted source on hand. I've created this exact thing actually, a seasonal recipe membership where every single month you get 15 new recipes that are completely seasonal.
This recipe membership is only $7 a month (and you can get your first month free) PLUS you get a video training that covers all the produce that is in season, and it gives you tips on how to store and prepare those items.
This recipe membership is for you if you are someone who is just starting out in the kitchen. All have detailed instructions on how to create them, and they have beautiful pictures. And the recipes are just delicious.
2019 foodie friend holiday gift guide
CSA membership ($ depends):
I am a big advocate for Community Supported Agriculture. If you happen to be in the Dayton OH area, here's two that I use myself (Mile Creek Farm & Three Trees Farm). If you are not, here's a website that can help you find one: www.farmmatch.com
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It was about a $300 investment up front, and it was a pain to get it into our basement because of our skinny stairs, but it was totally worth it. We even loved it so much that we moved it to our next house!
how to organize your deep freezer
Let me preface this organization part by stating that our deep freezer is ONLY used for meat. Yes, only meat. Yes, we DO have that much meat to store. Remember how I said that I am an avid Costco shopper and have a hunter husband? Well, in addition to those two budget friendly meat sources, we also belong to a few meat CSAs. In my opinion, buying meat in bulk from a CSA is the absolute BEST option when it comes to getting high quality meat that doesn't break the bank. By buying directly from the farmer, you avoid the middle man. Buy buying in bulk you save even more money. By buying local, you're helping out a small business and doing you part to make a difference in the world. You can read more about the number crunching I did about CSAs in this article.
SO, the ability to BUY AND STORE MEAT IN BULK is why a deep freezer is so life changing.
Maybe this will sound like you: You are trying to eat healthy, so your meals are centered around a protein, vegetable and/or starch. Meat is the most expensive part of your meal, so it seems like it's the hardest thing to keep on hand, especially when you are limited to only a small freezer. You plan your meals based off what meat you buy at the store every single week, maybe even multiple times a week. You worry about those small sized packages going bad in the fridge if your social plans change throughout the week (like going out to eat unexpectedly), etc. Maybe you can store some bulk items in your small freezer, but you quickly run out of space and get frustrated.
With a deep freezer, all you would need to do is take a trip down to the basement (or wherever you put it) and it's like you have a fully stocked meat counter at your fingertips. Sound nice? I promise, the investment up front will pay off in the long run both financially and mentally.
On to the organization part. Our deep freezer is 7.0 cubic feet... That's BIG. Luckily, it came with two baskets that slide across the top rail. These baskets were a big selling point for the freezer because it helps to keep all the small items from falling down into the depths of the freezer. I will say though, my freezer is not the best organized at the moment and some extra bins would be nice! Maybe that will be another blog post some day? I think it will!
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Currently, I store small items in the two sliding bins. One contains breakfast meats (bacon from Costco, sausage from CSAs) and smaller cuts from our CSA, while the other contains smaller cuts of meat that I have portioned out on my own (either from CSAs or Costco). The bottom of the freezer is where things are currently the most disorganized and where I do need to improve! What is down at the bottom is venison (from my husband hunting), large cuts from our CSA, and bags of seafood from Costco. Ideally, I would have shallow stacking bins that I could pull out easily and see my entire stock. But like I said, that organization overhaul will be a post for another time!
If you struggle to eat healthy because you feel like time is working against you and that making multiple trips to the store in a week is just NOT convenient (it's not, no shame there) then I strongly urge you to consider a deep freezer BECAUSE:
Who doesn't want all those things? Do you already have and love your deep freezer? Comment below if you have any organization tips!
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How to detox your fridge
1. get in the zone
The first thing you need to do is accept the fact that this might be a very big change for you and your family. Emptying out a fridge and only keeping the good stuff is hard and can be emotional. So, I ask you to turn up your favorite music and plan at least half a day to embark on this journey and just get excited! Yes... cleaning out the fridge is a lot of work, but it will be so worth it in the end! Being an appliance we see and use multiple times a day, it’s easy to overlook what piles up in it and just let it become the norm.
So, maybe this idea of clean eating is new to you, maybe it’s not. Either way, the health benefits you will gain from it cannot be found in any other health habit.
2. empty it out
Out with the old and in with the new right? You can’t start fresh without seeing all you have to work with. A lot of times, we get frustrated with our fridges because they just seem to fill up so fast! The reality is, they are probably just poorly organized and full of things we don’t need...
I am probably the biggest anti-food-waster out there, it makes me physically hurt to throw out food, but sometimes, it just has to happen. If you’re like me, ask yourself something like this: “would I rather have a half full jar of store bought Alfredo sauce OR space to fit a block of grass fed butter?” I think you know the answer to that one.
While you are emptying out the fridge, make two piles on your counter:
1. Food that came from grocery store aisles
2. Food that came from grocery store perimeter
That's it for now, leave the food on the counter and proceed to step 3!
3. start fresh
Now that your fridge is totally empty, it's time to deep clean. You don't want to put your sorted and nice fresh food in a dingy fridge right? Here's some tips to make that process suck a little less:
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Now that the interior of your fridge is clean and your bins are drying in the sun, it's time to tackle those piles of food. You currently have three piles (food from grocery store aisles, food from the perimeter, and leftovers) and it's time to refine those further.
Before we begin, think about the real purpose of a fridge: it keeps food with a short shelf life COLD. Again, it's for food with a SHORT shelf life. Haven't we heard the advice of staying at the perimeter of the grocery store while we shop? All the foods at the perimeter NEED the fridge right off the bat right? The following organization will help to solidify this notion:
Now that you are left with only the “good food”, it’s time to organize so that you can make the most of it! You want your fridge to be visually pleasing so that when you open it up, you’re not left feeling overwhelmed. I organize my fridge similar to how a grocery store is organized, and these five categories are: PRODUCE, “DAIRY”, DRINKS, LEFTOVERS and “CONDIMENTS”. Each category has its own space and I try to keep similar shapes of items together too. I encourage you to stick to these categories as best you can and I will explain the quotes later. Let’s start from the bottom of the fridge and work up.
This is the fun part! Take inventory of what you have and plan a few meals using what is already in your fridge. If there is anything else you need, buy it and take a second to see if there are ways to make some parts from scratch, like sauces or sides. If that is overwhelming, just remember that the more you cook, the better you get!
what about the freezer?
Congratulations, you tackled your fridge!!! Freezers are just as important, so stay tuned next week for the next part of this post!
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Like most of the world, I love coffee (or some sort of hot beverage) and that is something that is part of my morning, NO MATTER WHAT. I am going to make it, I am going to drink it, it's definitely happening. More often than not, I also drink my coffee black. If you've ever tried adding whey (or pea, egg white, brown rice, etc) protein to black coffee, you know how gross it is. It doesn't dissolve well, it clumps, the taste is overpowering, it's just nasty. All those things made me give up on protein powders for a long time and try to eat it only from real food sources only. This can be VERY hard if you are trying to get almost 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. That's a lot of food to eat! During that time, I am pretty sure I noticed a loss in muscle mass because it was just so hard to eat that much protein from real sources without constantly cooking or sitting down for a real meal. We all know that sitting down and eating is hard to do 3+ times a day!
This brings us to the amazing supplement that is collagen peptides. You might end up liking it so much that you buy it in bulk at Costco like I do! Instead of having to make a special shake as you would with a typical protein powder, all you have to do is add the collagen peptides to your daily cups of coffee. The collagen dissolves so smoothly and gives you (almost) NO weird taste. I say almost because there I feel there is a slight taste when I add two scoops (a full serving) to ONE cup of coffee, but if I only add one scoop to that ONE cup of coffee I don't notice a taste at all. This means that your first cup of coffee has one scoop, your second cup has the second scoop. From those two cups of coffee (that you were going to drink anyway) you get 20 grams of important muscle building protein in your diet with no extra time required. Try it out, there's even single serve packets! You will love how filling it is and your growing muscles will thank you!
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This is where CSAs (short for Community Supported Agriculture) comes in. When you participate in a CSA, you are essentially paying a farmer in advance for their product whether it be produce, meat, honey, eggs, etc. By paying them in advance, you are giving them a BIG BENEFIT by offsetting some of their upfront costs from running a farm. Think about it, by the time you get to their farm stand or their produce gets to Whole Foods, they already have had A LOT OF WORK TO DO. Farmers don't get paid all year...
So... let's move on to the math... I participate in two different CSAs (one is for produce and one is for meat).
produce CSA breakdown
I was able to sign up for 2019's growing season early (which got me a discount) and paid the cost up front (another discount). That payment gives us 12 deliveries, one every other week. Each delivery lasts us 2 weeks (just two of us at home) for a total of 24 weeks. My purchase price (with discounts) was $285. So:
$285 / 24 weeks = $11.88 per week for certified ORGANIC and FRESH as can be produce. UM HELLO. Major win. Could you spend $12 at Whole Foods or even Walmart for all your weekly organic produce? I think not.
meat CSA breakdown
My meat CSA works a bit differently. Instead of signing up for a "growing season" you pay for meat in 10 lb increments to get a "bulk price". 10 lbs of meat is $85. On top of that, you get a free dozen of eggs from pasture raised chickens ($6 value at the Whole Foods near me). If we subtract the $6 from $85, that leaves us with $79 towards the 10 lbs of meat.
$79 / 10 lbs = $7.90 per pound for free-range, pastured, grass fed/finished meat! I know that price might seem high for ground meat, but that's not all you get... I get filet mignon, bacon and whole chickens in my mix too!
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Again, I am not telling you that you need to go broke to get the best food you can. What I am telling you to do is think outside retail grocery stores. I want you to do your research and find a local farmer/CSA who needs your support. CSAs are great opportunities to feed your family the best food you can get and to learn about so many new ingredients. I had no idea what a kohlrabi was before our CSA, and now it's one of my favorite foods! These CSAs have been huge time savers for me too. Imagine stopping somewhere only every other week to get all your produce for the week? Imagine going to the freezer and pulling out anything you'd like? For the variety, the price and the value of their food, CSAs are always a win and you are ALWAYS deserving of that value.
-always lifting your life, Laura
the correct way to use a knife
Once you have nice sharp knives, it is important to hold a knife correctly. As shown in the images below, you want to grip not only the handle of the knife, but also the blade.
Now go forth and chop those veggies with CONFIDENCE!
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My name is Laura and I help overly tired 20something women overhaul their lives, energy and confidence without overwhelm.
Although I am a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and write to the best of my knowledge on fitness, nutrition and lifestyle practices, I cannot be made liable to know all information on a particular subject. Knowledge gained through this blog is to be used at your own risk and all lifestyle changes should be discussed with a doctor before starting.
I am also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I do receive a small reimbursement for sales made through the links provided on my blog.