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Category: healthy eats

  1. Monday, August 5, 2013

    Back to School Lunch Ideas

    I hate to use the words “Back to School” right now because it just reminds me that summer is ending in a few short weeks. But, alas, we are nearing that time of year and it’s time to get ready!

    lunch-ebookcover-1 (1)

    One of my least favorite things about the school year is packing lunches. For me the biggest challenges are providing variety as well as a balance of healthy food with what my kids will actually eat. It’s oh-so-fun! 😉

    Attune Foods recently asked me to contribute to a Back to School Lunch Ideas E-Book, using either their Uncle Sam cereal, Erewhon cereal or grahams. Chocolate-covered raisins ended up being my inspiration and I came up with a recipe that Cate could not stop eating. This new wholesome treat will definitely be making an appearance in her lunchbox this coming school year!

    Click here to download the free cookbook and see what recipe I created! Plus, you want to check out all the recipes as they were created by a group of food bloggers that I love!


  2. Friday, July 19, 2013

    Blueberry Breakfast Salad and Why Alison Sweeney and I Should Be Besties

    A month or so ago, a company reached out to see if I could attend a fun event in Los Angeles, where I would have the chance to meet and interview Alison Sweeney. Because of the move I couldn’t go to the event. And then, the very day of that event, I received an email from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to see if I would like to interview (you guessed it) Alison Sweeney! For real, the gods want us to be besties. Hopefully Alison gets the memo, too!

    blueberry breakfast salad | thisweekfordinner.com

    Our family loves blueberries, especially Miss Cate, so I was more than happy to work with the Blueberry Council and ask Alison a few questions! July is National Blueberry Month. (I think we should all eat lots of muffins to celebrate.) The council and Alison Sweeney are spreading the word about how dynamic blueberries are and how they can add energy and flavor to our daily routine. To find out more about these Little Blue Dynamos, click here to visit their website!

    blueberry breakfast salad | thisweekfordinner.com

    As I was poking around the blueberry website myself, I came across a recipe for a Blueberry Breakfast Salad. I was intrigued by the idea of getting greens into our breakfast routine and clicked through. The recipe for the salad dressing caught my eye and I knew I had to give it a try. People, this dressing is SO GOOD. The salad was good, too – I loved the sweet crunch of granola mixed in. However, the dressing is the real find here. It is surprisingly savory, with just a hint of sweetness from the blueberries. Nate and I had several salads this week! (See recipe below!)

    Back to my new best friend Alison. Here is our interview!

    Jane: What is your favorite savory dish that uses blueberries?

    Alison: Hands down – Blueberry Turkey Burgers! My kids love the tangy blueberry surprise, such a burst of flavor in the burger. Plus, you feel very “Master Chef” preparing them – blueberries are the secret ingredient!

    Jane: How do you fit in exercise as a busy, working mom? (I know that question seems so cliché, but I really am so curious what your techniques are!)

    Alison: You must make it a priority to take care of yourself. Put your workouts on the calendar to ensure you make time to work out. Sometimes I’ll have time for a quick run, other times I’ll be able to take a spin or yoga class. If I can’t work out, I make sure I adjust my nutrition accordingly.

    Jane: Kids will be kids…how do make sure they eat their healthy foods? (Again, sort of cliché, but would love your insight!)

    Alison: Getting my kids involved in the kitchen is really important to me because eating habits form at a young age. One of our favorite hot-summer-day activities is making smoothies. Not only are they nutritious, they’re also easy and fun. Here’s a quick and easy blueberry smoothie recipe we love.

    Here are a few more tips from Alison about kid-friendly recipes (something I am always thinking about!):

    Now, for real, go eat some muffins and put this recipe in your recipe box!

    blueberry breakfast salad | thisweekfordinner.com

     

    Blueberry Breakfast Salad
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Side Dish, Salad
    Ingredients
    • Mixed, torn salad greens: 2 pounds
    • Blueberry Vinaigrette: Recipe follows
    • Fresh blueberries: 4 cups
    • Fresh orange sections or canned mandarin oranges, drained: 4 cups
    • Granola : 2 cups
    Instructions
    1. Toss salad greens with 1½ cups of the Blueberry Vinaigrette. Divide the dressed greens among eight large plates. Arrange ½ cup orange sections and ½ cup blueberries on top of each salad. Sprinkle each salad with ¼ cup granola. Drizzle remaining dressing on top and serve immediately.

    Blueberry Vinaigrette
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Salad Dressing
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup olive oil
    • 1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons minced shallot
    • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
    • ½ teaspoon paprika
    Instructions
    1. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and process until mixture is smooth. Chill at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. Makes 2 cups.

    Please visit the Blueberry Council on FacebookTwitterYouTube and Pinterest for more inspiration and feel free to share how you plan to #BeDynamic this month!
    Thank you to the Blueberry Council for sponsoring this post. I was compensated for my work but, as always, all opinions are my own.


  3. Wednesday, July 10, 2013

    Dole Taste of Spain Salad Summit

    One of my favorite places on earth is the coast between Big Sur and Monterey. When we lived in the Bay Area, the Monterey/Carmel area was our go-to weekend getaway spot and we have many fond family memories from those trips. Both towns are quaint and fun, but the coastline is what we really love. It is, quite simply, breathtaking. About a month or so ago I was invited by the team at Dole Salads to visit beautiful Carmel and attend the Taste of Spain Salad Summit with a great group of bloggers. Of course I had to go!

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com

    The trip was really wonderful. I had the chance to connect and re-connect with some really lovely bloggers (see list here!), the Dole Salads team was wonderful to work with, and it was very interesting getting a peak into how Dole produces their food (more on that in a moment). Dole put us up at the Carmel Valley Ranch hotel (which was AMAZING) and fed us an abundance of Spanish-inspired food. It was heavenly!

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com

    As I often mention, I am constantly thinking about how food production and food consumption impact Mother Earth. My new year’s resolution each year is always focused on that theme. When I say I’m constantly thinking about environmental issues, I’m not exaggerating. It’s maybe kind of an obsession.

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com

    Over the years we’ve modified and cut back on our meat consumption in order to make a positive environmental impact. As a result, I’m always on board with getting people to eat more fruits and vegetables, no matter where the produce comes from. Produce always requires less water and energy for production than meat does, so by eating more of those foods we are automatically using less valuable resources.

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com

    But I am still also concerned about industrialized farming and the increased use of monoculture over the past few decades. The concern with monoculture is that by growing one particular crop over a large area, the plants are more susceptible to disease, which in turns necessitates the use of pesticides (bad for our bodies and the environment) or GMO plants (which are engineered to be resistent to bugs – the jury is still out on the impact of GMOs on our health and the environment).

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com

    Needless to say, I was very happy that Dole invited me on the trip and I couldn’t wait to see their farms and talk with them about how Dole produces food.

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com | farmer

    We started our day driving to the beautiful Salinas Valley, where more than 80% of our country’s salad greens are grown. First we met one of the Dole growers (a.k.a. farmers). He was kind, humble and obviously loved his job. This particular farmer was growing iceberg lettuce. We learned that the crops are constantly rotated and that any food left behind during harvest is tilled back into the soil. We also learned the Dole does not use GMO plants but that they do use some pesticides. When we talked with the farmer about this, he mentioned how he lives on the farm and is raising his children there, so obviously he uses as little as he possibly can. He also said that if there was more business/demand for organic, he would gladly switch to that type of farming. It was really great meeting and talking with him and seeing the passion he has for his job.

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com | harvest

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com | harvest

     

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com | harvest

     

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com | harvest

    Once the lettuce is grown, Dole hires harvesters to pick the produce. The farmer actually has no part in the harvest of the food. His job is to grow the food and keep the soil healthy. We watched a crew of harvesters picking lettuce and sending it up the conveyer belt, to be delivered to the packaging plant nearby. There were tanks of chlorinated water nearby, which is sprayed on the lettuce was soon as it is harvested. (More on the chlorinated water in a moment!)

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com | packaging

    Once the lettuce reaches the packaging plant, it is washed several times (in chlorinated and non-chlorinated water), cut, and packaged in super duper high-tech packaging that is designed to keep the lettuce fresh.

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com | hairnets

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com

    My big takeaways were as follows:

    • Safety is of the utmost importance to Dole. All along the process the food is kept safe with different rules and procedures, including hairnets for everyone at the farm!
    • Freshness is right up there with safety. From the way the food is handled to the packaging, every effort is made to deliver tasty, good-looking food to the consumer.
    • We asked specifically about the use of chlorinated water and were told that it is food-grade and used to keep the food safe. As a person who tries to eat produce as locally as possible and mostly organic, I must admit that the use of chlorinated water gave me pause. The thing is, there are a LOT of people to feed and we are demanding large amounts of the same types of foods, which necessitates these safety measures. I don’t think the chlorinated water used on this particular iceberg lettuce is necessarily hurting any of us on its own (and testing shows that it is safe), but I can’t help but wonder what the cumulative effect of all of the food we eat that is produced in this way has on our bodies and health, not to mention the environment. And I don’t know what the solution is. GMOs have not yet been proven to be harmful, but there are still big questions about their true impact. We know pesticides are no good, but if we aren’t using GMOs, we need the pesticides to produce large quantities of food. It really is a catch 22 and we just keep circling around and around. We need to feed people, that’s the bottom line. Right now, this is how it is done for the most part.
    • Dole tries to grow food as locally as possible. Obviously pineapples can’t be grown everywhere, but when they can,  Dole does grow food as close to the place where it will be bought as possible. Yes, it’s not true local farming, but it is a start and I appreciate a large corporation making that effort.
    • Dole also produces organic products. Let’s demand more of it so we can start to shift how our food is produced! We hold the keys to change!

    The trip provided a great deal of food for thought (pun intended!) for me. I’m really glad I had the chance to talk with Dole and see first-hand what they are all about. The company has a really positive vibe and I walked away from the weekend feeling good, even with the bigger questions about our food system bumping about my brain.

    dole taste of spain salad summit | thisweekfordinner.com

    Thank you to Dole for inviting me to attend the Taste of Spain Salad Summit. I am so happy they included me on the trip! Now, everyone go eat some salad!

    For Dole recipes and to enter the Taste of Spain giveaway (you could win a $40,000 trip to Spain!), please visit www.dolesalads.com.


  4. Friday, July 5, 2013

    Another Earth Box Update

    I have another Earth Box update for you! We harvested our lettuce and carrots yesterday and I wanted to let you know how things came out.

    lettuce success with the earth box | thisweekfordinner.com

    Lettuce is PERFECT for growing in the Earth Box. The heads of romaine lettuce grew beautifully, were very healthy and easy to take care of as they grew. I would recommend planting 8 lettuces in each Earth Box, but staggering the plantings a week or two apart (maybe 2 planted each week for a month). By staggering the planting, you will be able to harvest the lettuce over time instead of all at once. That’s what we’re going to do next year!

    stunted carrots with the earth box | thisweekfordinner.com

    Carrots are NOT perfect for growing in the Earth Box. Despite having at least a foot of depth for the carrots to grow, the carrots only grew a few inches long, if that! We think the roots must have sensors that report back to the carrot telling it to find somewhere else to grow. If this is the case, those sensors did a fantastic job. One of the carrots just kept twisting in on itself. You also can’t grow that many carrots in the Earth Box, so there isn’t much of a yield (16 total IF they all survive, and that’s if you just plant carrots in the box). All in all carrots were not worth the effort, at least when grown in the Earth Box.

    The tomato plants are still going strong. They are fruiting and we are just waiting for the first ripe ones to appear!


  5. Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    Call for Recipes: Avocados!

    I love the folks at the California Avocado Commission. And not just because they sent me a case of avocados today! They really are a great group of people representing a great product: California-grown avocados. In fact, a lot of those avocados are grown right here in San Diego!

    collection of great avocado recipes | thisweekfordinner.com

    The commission shared a fun fact with me last week: the Fourth of July is the highest consumption day for avocados in the US. I guess we all love guacamole on the Fourth! The great thing is avocados are actually in season right now, so our demand matches the time when they taste best!

    collection of great avocado recipes | thisweekfordinner.com

    To get us ready to eat our 96.4 million avocados this Thursday, I think an avocado Call for Recipes is in order!

    hummus guacamole bean dip | thisweekfordinner.com

    I’ll kick us off with one of my most favorite dip recipes: Hummus Guacamole Dip with Black Beans. If you haven’t tried it yet, I’m sure you’re thinking it sounds weird. It is actually really delicious. Like, I can eat the whole bowl myself. It’s also very healthy!

    Your turn! What are your favorite recipes using avocados? Please type up the recipe or share links to recipes in the comments. Anything goes as long as there are avocados involved!


  6. Sunday, June 9, 2013

    Week 333 Menu + Earth Box Update

    Quick update on our new Earth Boxes. It’s been just two and a half weeks since I posted the photo with Anna below and look at how the tomato plants have grown! We just might have a tomato harvest his year and I am so happy! The other Earth Box I bought has carrots and lettuce planted and they are growing beautifully, too.

    earth box update 6-9 web

    It’s our last week of school and I am so excited for summer! Granted, we have a crazy busy summer ahead of us, but at least we can let the kids sleep in in the morning and I don’t have to pack lunches!

    MONDAY:
    – Chicken Stir Fry
    – Dumplings (from Costco)

    TUESDAY:
    Easy Peasy Bean Tacos
    – Guacamole and chips

    WEDNESDAY:
    Moosewood Pasta Primavera

    THURSDAY:
    – Pizza night to celebrate the last day of school!

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Take out

    SUNDAY:
    – Quiche (flavor TBD)
    – Fresh fruit

    You know the drill! Please share your weekly menu so we can inspire one another!


  7. Thursday, May 23, 2013

    Could this be the year?

    About every other year I decide I really want to grow tomatoes. And every other year I enthusiastically post a photo of our beautiful little tomato plants. And every other year I report back at the end of the summer that I killed everything. I am cursed.

    anna and the earth box web

    This year is going to be different. I know I’ve said that before, but really, it is! I bit the bullet and invested in two Earth Boxes. My friend Natalee has used them the last few years and has amazing success. The beauty of the Earth Box is that you cannot overwater the plants – they always have just the right amount of water. You can use the boxes forever and you get about 8 growing seasons before you need to replace the soil. The woman at the garden center said she also loves the Earth Box. I really really really think this year is going to be different, folks.

    earth box for tomatoes

    What’s that? Locusts in my backyard destroying my tomato plants? Figures.


  8. Tuesday, February 12, 2013

    Love Your Heart with Sodium Girl: Roasted Garlic and Fingerling Potatoes

    I’ve met some amazing people through this whole blogging thing. Jess Goldman Foung is one of those people. She is the embodiment of sunshine and I am so grateful to know her.

    Sodium Girl Low-Sodium Cookbook

    Jess has a food blog called Sodium Girl, not because she eats sodium but because she doesn’t! Due to health reasons years ago, Jess had to cut salt from her diet and reduce her sodium intake significantly. Instead of moping she embraced the challenge and is now a low-sodium genius. Jess just published her first cookbook, Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook. It is beautiful, full of great food, well-designed and organized, easy to ready, informational and fun. It is a fabulous resource if you want to learn how to reduce or cut out sodium.

    Sodium Girl Low-Sodium Cookbook

    To celebrate the book launch, Jess has organized a Love Your Heart Recipe Rally, where a group of food bloggers re-create a favorite recipe without using salt. Be sure to click through to Jess’s rally post to read more facts about sodium and see the other featured recipes!

    Jess is also hosting a giveaway. You could win a Vitamix. You know how I love super, duper, powerful, knock-your-socks-off blenders. You need one, so you should totally enter the giveaway! (See the Rafflecopter entry form at the bottom of this post to enter.)

    So, on to my recipe makeover. Let me begin with this: I love salt. A lot. (I blame my low blood pressure rather than weak will power. ;)) But I also love Jess a lot, so when she invited me to be a part of the rally, I had to accept. But, I must admit, the idea of taking a deliciously-salty dish and figuring out how to make it salt-free was intimidating.

    bowl of roasted fingerling potatoes

    I thought long and hard and decided I need to try to make a potato dish with no salt. One of the reasons I make such good potatoes of all kinds is due to my liberal use of salt. I honestly did not believe I could eliminate this crucial ingredient and still make a good potato dish. This was my chance to try!

    Here was my thought process:

    • I decided to do roasted potatoes because I normally I just use salt and pepper. No salt would certainly be a challenge!
    • I chose to use fingerling potatoes. Since they are smaller, I thought the ratio of potato to flavorings on the skin would be well-balanced. We’re looking to maximize flavor, here!
    • Roasted garlic is magical. Tons of flavor but {surprisingly} not over-powering. I decided if roasted garlic smeared on bread is good all by itself, then it would probably be good smeared on potatoes, too.
    • Balsamic vinegar packs a big flavor punch and goes great with garlic.
    • Olive oil is heart healthy, flavorful and complements garlic and balsamic vinegar well.

    birds eye view of bowl of fingerling roasted potatoes

    The potatoes ended up being delicious! Great texture and flavor. Cate and Owen kept going back for seconds, which means success in my book. I must admit that I sprinkled a smidge of salt on a few of mine, because I  just couldn’t help myself. Of course it tasted mighty fine with the salt, but honestly, the salt wasn’t necessary.

    Here is the recipe!

    Roasted Garlic and Fingerling Potatoes
     
    From Jane Maynard, This Week for Dinner
    Author:
    Cuisine: Side Dish
    Ingredients
    • About 20-30 fingerling potatoes
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • 10-15 garlic cloves, skins removed
    • 8 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (read the label to check for sodium content!)
    • Parsley (dried or fresh chopped)
    • Pepper
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
    2. Place 4-5 of the garlic cloves in olive oil in a small, oven-proof dish. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cloves are soft. Remove from oven and raise oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Smash up garlic cloves in the oil and let cool. Whisk in balsamic vinegar until oil and vinegar are well mixed.
    3. Toss potatoes along with the rest of the garlic cloves in the oil and vinegar mixture. Spread evenly on a foil-lined pan and cook in the 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until you can pierce the potatoes with a knife.
    4. Remove potatoes and whole garlic cloves from the pan and discard the foil (the vinegar/oil/garlic mixture will get all dark and sticky and gooey and sorta burned in places on the pan – that’s okay, but you don’t need it anymore at this point). Toss the cooked potatoes and whole garlic cloves with a bit more balsamic vinegar, parsley and pepper to taste.

     

    If you would like to enter the Vitamix giveaway (and you should!), use the entry form below! (Giveaway begins at 9:00 am PT Tuesday, 2/12 and runs through 12:00 am PT Monday, 2/18. Giveaway rules can be found at the bottom of Jess’s Recipe Rally post.)

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Many congratulations to Jess on her beautiful book! So happy for you, Jess, and excited for you to share your healthy message with the world!

    OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY LIKE:

    EQUIPMENT I USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE:


  9. Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    Getting Back Into the Morning Rush Groove

    It’s our last week of summer. We are living it up as much as we can this week before we get back into the school routine. That said, I think everyone in the family is excited for a new school year, especially our little Anna who cannot WAIT to wear her new school clothes.

    There is one thing I am NOT looking forward to, however. Waking up in the morning. We are a family of sleepers. Nate and I both love to sleep, and our kids have inherited the gene. If we don’t wake the girls up in the morning, they routinely sleep until 8:30 or 9:00. It’s AWESOME. When you don’t have to go anywhere, that is. I am not looking forward to a school start time of 8:05.  I just don’t know how we’re going to do it!

    Between the tattoos and the sneer, I think Anna may be turning into a pirate. And, as you can see, our family can even sleep when eating. We are THAT good at sleeping.

    I’m trying to get my brain into morning routine mode. Planning out how I’m going to feed a baby, make lunches, get kids dressed and brushed along with feeding everyone breakfast sort of stresses me out. I always have the best of intentions with breakfast, but I often end up just grabbing a box of cereal. Nate, however, is great at pulling together nice, nutritious morning meals for the kids. He is especially good at omelettes and is the best smoothie maker this side of the Mississippi.

    Most recently Nate has been making “juicies,” which the girls really like and don’t require us to remember to freeze fruit ahead of time. We just grab whatever juice is in the fridge, whatever fruit is in the fruit bowl and hit blend.

    I’ve been working with Tropicana a bit recently. I appreciate their juice because it is made from fresh oranges and is 100% pure and natural. No added sugar especially makes me happy. The girls like to have a small cup of juice in the morning, but I wanted to come up with something a little more fun but still quick and easy for the start of school next week. Today we created Creamy Juicies!

    It’s basically a creamsicle in a cup, only healthier. And it was super fast to make. It’s definitely going on my morning routine repertoire!

    Those of you have have crazy mornings, how do you tackle it? Please share your best tips and strategies for tackling the morning routine. Strength in numbers, after all! Here’s to a not-too-stressful, not-too-much-yelling, everyone’s-teeth-get-brushed year of busy mornings!

    Creamy Juices
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • 3 parts orange juice
    • 1 part milk
    • Small splash vanilla
    • A few handfuls of ice, to your liking
    Instructions
    1. Add juice, milk, vanilla then ice to your blender – blend! Add us much ice you like – less ice makes for a nice, cold drink. More ice makes for more of a slushy.

    This post was sponsored by Tropicana. Tropicana Pure Premium is 100% pure Florida orange juice. If you would like to connect with the folks at Tropicana, visit them at Facebook.com/Tropicana.

     


  10. Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    Orzo Salad Yumminess

    My mother-in-law Pat made a super yummy orzo salad for us on the Cape last week. It was simple and oh-so-tasty. A definite keeper of a recipe and perfect for summertime!

    Pat said normally the feta is all mixed in, unlike what you see in the photo. But a certain brother-in-law of mine doesn’t like feta (what the what?!?!), so we sprinkled it on top so Cuyler could pick it out easily. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, Pat’s a good mother-in-law.

    Happy Orzo salading!

    Orzo Salad Yumminess
     
    Adapted by Pat Maynard from a recipe from Jean Harford of Gregg Lake
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 8 ounces orzo, cooked and drained well
    • 1 small red pepper chopped
    • shaved carrots
    • parsley (and dill if desired)
    • 2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped
    • 1 cup black beans or chick peas, rinsed and well drained
    • 1 small can sweet corn, drained
    • ground black pepper
    • 8 – 10 sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped or sliced
    • ¼ cup feta, crumbled
    • ⅓-1/2 cup Greek salad dressing (Ken’s Steakhouse and Newman’s Own are great)
    Instructions
    1. Mix orzo with dressing once it has cooled a bit, breaking up any clumps. Refrigerate while you put together the other ingredients. Combine with orzo and refrigerate to combine flavors. Can adjust by taking away any of the above ingredients and adding others such as grape tomatoes, shrimp, cucumber,green onion or black olives.