Refrigerator Pickles

I am back in the kitchen this week and it feels great. I usually cook less in summer because our schedules are so weird and unstructured. Also because it’s Minnesota Minnesnowta and when the weather is warm we tend to want to be outside all. The. Time. I’d much rather be drinking a rosé and watching my daughter splash around at the pool with friends than be home in the kitchen. You know?

But this week I felt a pull to the kitchen, and so I went. Luckily we had one day that experienced torrential downpours so I had nothing but inside time to spare. My generous and kind friend Shawn gave me her CSA box when she went out of town and her loss was definitely my gain. It was full of tomatoes that were so sweet we couldn’t help but eat the entire amount in a day. Aren’t these beautiful?

tomatoes 2

The box also contained two heads of kale, which I added to that night’s pasta primavera.

Then there were many cucumbers. So many cucumbers. And dill. So obviously I made refrigerator pickles. Super easy and totally delicious, anyone could make these including a child just learning to cook. Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Stir the water, vinegar, sugar, and sea salt together in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat and cool completely.

Combine cucumber slices, smashed garlic cloves, and fresh dill in a large glass or plastic container. Pour the cooled vinegar mixture over cucumbers. Seal container and refrigerate for at least 3 days. 

Look at this!

pickles

I’m going to experiment with spicy squash pickles next, because of course the CSA box came with squash. And I really don’t like squash, but I love pickles, so maybe this just might work.

Enjoy!

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Weekend Cocktails: Watermelon Frosé

weekend-cocktails

Watermelon is in season right now, so I think it makes sense to try a cold, icy, refreshing cocktail made out of summer’s most famous fruit. Add the “wine of summer” (I literally just coined this term so I should probably TM it or something) and you have yourself a cocktail that will please just about everyone. Recently, on vacation with extended family, we made this recipe. It was really refreshing and perfect after a long day on the beach.

If you want some health reasons to drink this, just remember that watermelon is full of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. It also has a very high water content so it will help rehydrate you (just remember alcohol is dehydrating and toxic in large quantities so please don’t think you can go drinking a gallon of this or anything). Moderate wine drinkers (no more than two glasses a day) have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers according to this article. It also tells us we have lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, and brain decline. So, you know, enjoy this drink! I love that this recipe has no added sugar. Watermelon is sweet enough. And wine, while labels aren’t required to list added sugar , almost always has at least a little.

watermelon

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rose wine

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fireworks

The thing about using wine in a cocktail recipe is that you can use a less expensive bottle and no one will be the wiser. So grab that $7 bottle of rosé from Trader Joe’s and let’s get started.

INGREDIENTS: (makes 2 cocktails)

4 cups frozen watermelon cubes

10 oz rosé

Juice of one lime

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cube the watermelon (or if you’re feeling really luxurious, buy it already cubed).

Spread the watermelon evenly on a jelly roll pan. Place in freezer for an hour or more, until solidly frozen.

Place the watermelon, rosé and lime juice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve with lime wedges and sprigs of mint.

ENJOY!

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My Summer Fitness Plan

Last Thursday was the last day of school for Reese, and on Friday we booked it up north for a couple of days of R&R in a 100+ year old lodge where we binge watched Anne With An E and puttered around looking at pretty stuff and eating banana splits and blueberry pie. So today starts the first full week of summer break. It was also the first day of my Summer Fitness Plan®. You see, a few weeks ago I approached my next door neighbor and good friend Catherine and asked if she’d like to work out with me three times a week in the wee hours of the morning before our kids were awake. She immediately said yes, and we both agreed that it was going to be amazing and awesome.

Fast forward to this morning when I woke up at 4:00, 4:50, and 5:00 (excitement) and then for real at 6:00 to begin our Summer Fitness Plan®. This is the gist: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we will meet in our shared driveway at 6:15 and run/walk a couple of miles. Then we will use the Aaptiv app I’ve told you about before to do a strength workout. This morning we did our workout at the park in the wet grass while being feasted on by our state bird, the mosquito. There was also a for real boot camp happening and I felt like we were acting out that scene in Bridesmaids. We decided next time we will throw down yoga mats in the driveway instead.

Catherine proclaimed that by the end of the summer we will be bosses in every sense of the word (she didn’t really say it this way but it’s what I inferred so…). The first day was a success, in my book.

A couple of notes: I was worried that I would bonk if I didn’t eat anything beforehand, so I choked down a half of a banana. It’s almost two hours later and I’m still not hungry, so maybe working out on an empty stomach will work for me. Read about the research here. Also, next time I will spritz myself with bug spray. Thirdly, I have to say that if I’m awake everyday at 6:00 anyway, I might as well be exercising instead of laying in bed reading Twitter and stressing about the state of affairs. Who needs all that cortisol? I’m still 100% going to read the news, but an hour away from it isn’t a bad thing. Lastly, I will also be playing golf quite a bit, walking the dog, and doing some yoga and/or barre, but I think the bulk of my actual structured exercise will be from this plan.

What are your fitness plans for the summer?  Please comment and tell me!

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That’s A Wrap for the May Bee (And Why Drinking Coffee Cuts Your Risk of Dying!)

coffee

I came into the May Bee challenge feeling energized and excited about the opportunity to blog every day most days in May. I had felt like I had been slacking on my posts, letting other things edge out my time spent at the computer writing. So I really relished the idea of doing this challenge. And I’m so glad I did! Not only did I learn a lot about the topics I’m interested in, but I also got to share that love with you. So, thanks for coming along on the ride. Maybe I’ll do it again next year.

For my last May Bee post, I want to talk about one of my favorite things in the world — a cup of coffee. If you know me at all you know I relish my coffee with gusto. So I was excited to read this article in The New York Times about how drinking coffee seems to reduce your overall risk of dying. Yay for no dying! As the article states “Coffee drinking was linked to a reduced risk of death from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, neurological diseases and suicide, although not from cancer.” I don’t need any health reasons to drink my two to three cups of coffee a day, but I’m glad to know I don’t have to feel guilty about my habit.

And with that, I bid a fond farewell to May 2017 as I welcome what I hope to be a really fabulous summer for me, and for you. Maybe it’ll be the best one yet.

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Maybe Some Rice Noodle Salad For Dinner Tonight?

Maybe allergies are kicking my butt. I woke up yesterday with my ears completely clogged and everything sounded like I was underwater. I generally just didn’t feel great. So after I got home from picking up the 12 year old from school and it was time to make dinner, I was thankful I had planned on making this simple Rice Noodle Salad With Cucumber, Peanuts, and Basil. It took about 20 minutes from start to finish and there was absolutely no cooking involved. If you’re lucky, you have a kid that likes to cook and will make the dressing for you while you sit comfortably. This would make for a perfect summertime supper when it’s just too hot to turn on the stove. The recipe also fits with our Meatless Monday plans, which I would say we adhere to about 90% of the time. Going meatless once a week can reduce your risk of preventable diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce our carbon footprint. Plus, it’s generally cheaper to make a meatless meal. Win/win!

Asian Noodle Salad Meatless Monday

The original recipe came from Redbook Magazine but I made some changes to the recipe and adapted it, so here’s my version:

Rice Noodle Salad With Cucumber, Peanuts, and Basil

THE SALAD:

6 oz pad thai rice noodles

1/4 medium purple cabbage

1/2 sliced english cucumber

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

4 scallions, white and green parts sliced

1/2-1 cup fresh basil and cilantro, chopped

1 cup chopped peanuts, cashews or almonds

Sesame seeds

THE DRESSING:

1/4 cup lime juice (I love buying Santa Cruz organic bottled lime juice. It’s just so much easier)

3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp honey

1/2 tsp garlic powder

HOW TO:

Pour hot water over noodles to cover and let sit for about 5 minutes, until softened. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, cut all the veggies up into thin slices, place the nuts in a baggie and whack them with a rolling pin to “chop”, and whisk together the dressing ingredients. Assemble the salads, drizzle dressing over the top, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. ENJOY!

NOTE: If you want more protein in your salad, it would be very easy to add rotisserie chicken, tofu, shrimp or any leftover meat you have. Maybe it’ll become a new family favorite.

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Vitamin D, The “Sunshine” Vitamin

sunshine drawing.png

This time of year, when the weather starts to hint at warming up in colder climates, you might think that you don’t need to supplement with vitamin D anymore. Or maybe you’ve never supplemented and think that because you live in a more temperate place like San Francisco or Kansas City that you get enough from the sun. But the truth is, if you draw a line from Atlanta across the U.S. and your city falls above it, you won’t get any meaningful vitamin D from the sun most of the year. Additionally, many people aren’t good “converters” of vitamin D, meaning they might get a lot of unprotected sun and still not have adequate levels of vitamin D.

It’s for all those reasons that supplementing with vitamin D is a good idea. And because so many of us wear sunscreen religiously throughout the summer, I don’t even stop taking my supplements in the warmer months (although I do cut back from about 3,000 IUs a day to 1,000 IUs). Read and print this informative page for more important vitamin D information.

***I am not a doctor and I am not qualified to prescribe any therapy or medication. Please always check with your practitioner before you start taking any new supplements. Vitamin D

Weekend Cocktails! The Cucumber Sangria

weekend-cocktails

The most astute readers of this blog will notice that this week’s Friday Cocktails feature is actually being posted on a Saturday. Gasp. Occasionally these things happen and I like to think that it keeps everyone on their toes.

But wait, there’s more! My very good friend (and ultra savvy fellow cocktail admirer) Catherine graciously agreed to write a guest post this week. It’s my first guest post! Catherine and I are equally ardent in our appreciation of a well-crafted cocktail. So when she texted me the other day telling me about a delicious new recipe she tried, I asked if she would write about it.  Read on for Catherine’s review of Cucumber Sangria:

I love reading the Cultivate Wellness Friday Cocktails series, and I have thoroughly enjoyed trying most of them.  (In fact, the most recent entry in that series — the Aviation — has changed my cocktail life.  It is a perfect, extraordinarily delicious cocktail.)  That is why, when I made the Cucumber Sangria I’m about to tell you about, I immediately texted Melanie to tell her that I thought it would be perfect for Friday Cocktails.  And I am thrilled to share it as a guest today at Cultivate Wellness.  Thank you for having me!  
This sangria is refreshing and the combination of the cool, fresh, grassy flavor of the cucumber and the sweetness of the honeydew is truly delightful.  The sangria also is not overly boozy, and since we were serving it on a weeknight for my sister’s birthday celebration, this was a perfect mix for us.  I love that the sangria uses seasonal produce, and I happened to have almost all of the ingredients on hand — cucumber and mint from our garden, and melon from our CSA.  I am sure that the sugary ripeness of the melon, which was perfectly in season, contributed to the success of the cocktail.  So, without further ado, here is the recipe for the Cucumber Sangria (click to link to the original recipe, featured in Better Homes & Gardens).
Enjoy your weekend! Cheers!
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