A Few Of My Favorite Things 2017

these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-things-2

The holidays are nearing and you might be wondering what to put on your wish list or what to buy for the people in your life. I’m no Oprah, but I do have some opinions on the things I love using in my daily life (hint: you won’t find any $600 coffee makers on my list.) Read on for some of the things I would rather not live without!

Sockwell compression socks. I’ve been doing a lot of running lately, training for my first 10k. If I run anything over 3 miles my legs ache and I have trouble falling asleep. I bought myself a pair of Sockwells and wore them after my last 4 mile run. No achey legs! $21.95 – $24.99.

How To Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food, 10th Anniversary Edition by Mark Bittman. I love Mark Bittman’s approachable style of explaining recipes and methods. In fact, I just made his whole roast chicken recipe last night for dinner. This is a great idea for the person who loves to cook, or who is striking out on their own and needs a good solid cookbook to help them learn how to cook. $23.49

Eos Ultra Moisturizing Shave Cream. The vanilla scent is my favorite, and I love how moisturizing it really is. $14/pack of two.

Aaptiv personal training app. I wrote about this last year, too. If it weren’t for this app, I would not be training for a 10k right now. Having a personal trainer in my ear (with dozens to choose from) keeps me motivated. I learn proper form and other essential information, and the music the workouts are set to is music you actually want to listen to! From cycling to yoga to running to elliptical and everything in between, you can’t go wrong with Aaptiv. I love it so much I actually became an ambassador. Try it for free by clicking the link above. $8.33-9.99/month depending on subscription plan.

Ugg Amie. I love the newer slimmer fit Uggs and I love that they  have a bit of a heel. I have had the same pair of Uggs for over 10 years now and still love them dearly. I felt like maybe I was allowed to buy a new pair with a more modern fit since I’ve worn my other ones nearly to death. So, I keep the old ones for walking the dog. Prices vary based on style and color.

Gut Shots by Farmhouse Culture. I always thought I was weird because I grew up drinking pickle juice out of a glass. I guess there are enough weird people out there that Farmhouse Culture created a healthy drink on the idea. I am a huge fan of the garlic dill pickle flavor with the smoked jalapeño coming in a close second. These probiotic “shots” are full of good stuff to make your belly happy. Around $4.99 at Whole Foods

Rosebud Salve by C.O. Bigelow. I’ve been using this lip balm for ages, and I have three or four scattered around the house and in my purse at any given moment. I love the old fashioned tin and that I can use it anywhere (lips, cuticles, dry spots). Around $8 on Amazon.

Hamilton Beach Set It And Forget It Slow Cooker. At this very moment, I have chicken stock bubbling on its 21st hour in this slow cooker (remember the whole chicken I baked last night? I threw the carcass and juices in the slow cooker with water and will use the stock to make chicken soup tonight). I use this slow cooker for making stocks, roasts, soups, whole chickens, etc etc etc. I know the Instant Pot is the kitchen appliance du jour, and it’s actually on my Christmas list this year, but I will always love my slow cooker. It’s programmable and I really like the thermometer feature as well. At around $49, this is a must-have for any kitchen in my very humble opinion.

Tillen Farms Merry Maraschino cherries. I’m not ashamed to admit I really love a cocktail cherry. Always have, always will. I found this brand at Whole Foods and have never gone back to the neon red cherries from my youth. Yes, they are more expensive. But they also contain no artificial flavors or dyes. I use them in my cocktails and in my holiday baking. Not only are they better for you, they taste amazing. About $14

What’s on your list of favorites? Leave your comments below! I always love trying new things.

You might also like:

These are a few of my favorite things

*Clicking on the Amazon links above will take you to my affiliate site, where it’s possible I might make a penny or two.

Your Immune System — Carrot Ginger Turmeric Soup

We’re in it, people. It’s cold and flu season and everywhere you go someone has a cough, the sniffles, a sore throat, or worse. How do we keep ourselves healthy and energetic all season long? One approach is through our food choices. Excess sugar, processed carbs and too much alcohol will suppress our body’s ability to fight off infection (which is a shame because aren’t the holidays MOSTLY ABOUT SUGAR, CARBS AND COCKTAILS?!?!). I’m not advocating giving up your favorite holiday treats, because part of what keeps us healthy is not being stressed out. Also spending time enjoying ourselves with people we love is pretty high up on the list for immune-boosting activities, and if we are hyper focused on every little thing we put in our mouths, we will ruin it for ourselves and those around us.

However, what I would like to encourage is making the majority of your food choices healthy ones. So, when you are cooking/eating at home, which should be most of the time, make those meals impactful. Start every day with a healthy breakfast because it helps keep the rest of the day on track (click here, here, here or here for great breakfast choices). For lunch, choose something like a big salad with good quality proteins like chicken and chickpeas, and choose olive oil and vinegar dressing. Or, make a huge batch of soup on Sunday and eat it all week long. I love the hearty lentil soup I make all winter.

You want high quality protein, you want good sources of fiber and fat (the good kind, like olive oil, those found in nuts, coconut oil, and organic and grass fed meats). And pile on the vegetables and fruits. The more antioxidants you eat the better. They will reduce inflammation which will help fight off cold and flu bugs. They also contain natural antiviral and antibacterial agents.

Check out this recipe for Carrot Ginger Turmeric soup. Carrots are very high in vitamin A which is essential for a healthy immune system. Ginger and turmeric contain powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. It’s warming and soothing for the coldest days and will keep you nourished.

Stay tuned for more immune boosting recipes and information!

*If you don’t like coconut oil or are allergic, feel free to sub with olive oil.

Carrot Ginger Turmeric Soup (recipes for immune system).png

 

Cooking? What’s that?

It occurred to me recently that I have done very little actual cooking. If you know me at all (like, AT ALL) you know I love cooking. I love reading recipes and chopping things and creating something nourishing and delicious for the people in my life.

But it’s December. And it’s hectic. I have one child who isn’t even close to being over scheduled, I work part time from home and go to school part time online, and yet here we are, running around all over the place. If I’m busy, just imagine what most other families are feeling.

Last night we got home from the third event of the day totally wiped out. We had gotten seven inches of snow the night before and during the day, so my husband went outside to start the cleanup. I had a Blue Apron recipe waiting in the fridge for me to make. It looked delicious — General Tso’s chicken. And yet. I was so tired I just couldn’t. So I did the next best thing, which was to open some containers of soup, throw together a salad from a bag, and pop a frozen multi-grain garlic baguette into the toaster oven. I microwaved some edamame that was leftover from God knows when (there was no visible mold so it was good enough for me) and sliced a single yellow bell pepper for the kid who at 12 still hates salad. And that was dinner. And it was good! Just as I was putting everything on the table a good friend texted that she had just enough leftover fruit crisp and vanilla ice cream for our family of three, and would we want it? She was going to take her dog for a walk and would pop over with it. It took me less than a heartbeat to accept her offer, and it was by far the most delicious ending to a meal we’ve had in a long time. It was so tasty, and better yet, it was such a kind gesture and just what we all needed at the end of our day.

So, I have no recipe for you today, no health snippets. I guess all I’m saying is sometimes the best meals are the ones that you throw together with what you have, and that canned soup might just be the perfect dinner when we are all doing the best we can.

You might also like:

Under Pressure

Friday Cocktails: THE RYDER CUP!

New Recipe! Pan Fried Tofu

 

 

Under Pressure

stress sign

I walked out of Super Target today having no idea where I parked my car. The parking lot was jammed when I arrived and I snagged the first spot I could, then promptly forgot where. This has sort of been my M.O. lately. Every December I tell myself I’m going to pare back my expectations, and to some extent I have gotten better. But there are still things to take care of! I have so many to-do lists floating around in my head it’s only natural I forget the details, like where I parked my car.

One thing that I’ve decided not to even care about right now is whether my food is organic.  For the most part I buy much of my meat, dairy, and fruit and vegetables organic. I have a growing girl at home and it’s something that’s important to me. I also care about putting less chemicals into the environment. I like supporting smaller farms. All that stuff. And by the way, I also make zero judgements about how anyone else feeds their families.  We all have different things we care about. We all have different ways we allocate our budgets. December is always a time of spending more on groceries because I am cooking for others, making big batches of cookies and quadrupling soup recipes. It’s expensive! So this weekend while shopping with my daughter I just had this lightbulb moment where I decided to Just. Not. Care. Immediately a huge weight lifted and I felt happier. It’s kind of a small thing, but with big benefits. My budget will thank me and my stress levels will go down. (Note: I realize that being able to choose whether to buy organic or not is a privilege, and there are many people who go through every month wondering if there will be enough food on the table. If you are looking for a good charity to support, please consider making a donation to a local food shelf, or to Feeding America.)

So, what will you give yourself a pass on this month? Will you decide that not everything has to be homemade? Or that you’ll use gift bags instead of wrapping paper? How about that you don’t have to Pinterest the sh&% out of every project? If you need permission to let some things go, you are hereby absolved. Pick one or two (or if you’re an overachiever like me, five or six things) that you used to think were super important but upon reflection just really aren’t. I promise the holidays will still be special, perhaps even more so. Because instead of being cranky and tired and overwhelmed, you might find that you are actually enjoying the company of your family and isn’t that really what this whole thing is about?

You might also like:

Confessional

LET’S GET OUT OF HERE!

 

Midweek Mashup

MIDWEEK MASHUP

It’s the most wonderful time of the…

You know how the rest of it goes. Is it truly the best time of the year? For many of us, yes! The beautiful lights, the nostalgic music, the opportunities to spend time with people we love. For many others, not so much. So much stress, so many additional responsibilities, poor eating habits, a few too many extra cocktails, and obligations, obligations, obligations.

Wherever you land on the spectrum of Holiday cheer, one thing is for sure: we all need ways to help manage it all. I like to ramp up my Green Smoothies this time of year. I feel like no matter what else happens on any given day, I’ve at least had lots of veggies and fiber. Sort of like a little insurance policy.

Some years I’m simply too overwhelmed to consider adding intentional exercise to the mix. This year I’m feeling like I really want to get to the gym a couple of times a week in addition to walking my dog and playing platform tennis. I have been using Aaptiv on my iPhone and love it. It’s full of personal trainer-led workouts that can be customized to your level of fitness. Choose from treadmill, outdoor running or walking, yoga, indoor cycling, strength training and even 5k, 10k, half and full marathon programs. All workouts are set to really great music you actually want to listen to.  It’s not cheap. At $75/year it’s a commitment. But I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth since I got the app this summer. (I was not compensated for recommending this app. I just really like it!)

And finally, here is an easy recipe for zesty three bean salad. I made it for a party in October and loved it. It’s the perfect healthy dish to make on a Sunday to eat all week for lunch.

You might also like:

New Recipe: Easy Peanut Butter Balls (and an update on the elimination diet).

NEW RECIPE! Kale Chips

Headspace

Friday Cocktails: The Painkiller

painkiller-cocktail

We went to our friends’ Halloween party recently where they served something called The Painkiller. It’s one of those cocktails that is very very easy to drink a lot of because it tastes like a beach vacation. There’s coconut. There’s rum. There’s pineapple juice. If you close your eyes and sip on the Painkiller, you might just swear you are sitting under a palapa in the tropics. Some might say that it’s too sweet, but I love a sweet cocktail (I love savory cocktails too, it’s all about the mood).

Some might argue that a cocktail called The Painkiller is the perfect antidote to this contentious election season. I’m not advocating that we drink to suppress our feelings (that would be an unhealthy behavior!) but a delicious cocktail with a fun name might just add a little bit of whimsy, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

This cocktail is perfect for a big party because it’s so easy to make a large amount. Luckily we are entering party season, so make a batch of this next time you need a crowdpleaser and prepare for the compliments.

The Painkiller is high in vitamin C thanks to the OJ and the pineapple juice, so maybe it’ll help you ward off those winter germs!

INGREDIENTS FOR ONE COCKTAIL:

2 oz Rum
4 oz Pineapple juice
1 oz Orange juice
1 oz Cream of coconut
Grated nutmeg if desired
Mint
NOTE: If you can’t find cream of coconut, you can substitute with 1 cup heavy whipping cream (35%) plus 1/2 cup coconut cream powder
METHOD:

Add all of the ingredients into a shaker and fill with ice.

Shake vigorously and strain into a hurricane glass or snifter filled with crushed ice.

Garnish with freshly a sprig of mint and grated nutmeg.

(If making a large batch, pour all ingredients into a pitcher and use a spoon to combine)

 

Bottom’s up!

Weekend Cocktails! Brandy Old Fashioned

brandy old fashioned

Tonight is the night we trim the tree.  It’s been sitting bare in the living room waiting for us to have enough time to decorate it.  It’s been a really busy week with work travel and school work (mine and the kid’s) and all the normal stuff a family deals with.  Poor tree has been just sitting there since Sunday waiting patiently.  So tonight we are ordering in some Thai and Vietnamese food (my kitchen is always closed on Fridays.  I don’t think I’ve made dinner on a Friday night for years).  We’ll eat our pho and spring rolls and curry and pad ze-ew and then we’ll get down to business.

I love a good winter cocktail, something fun and festive.  So I think tonight calls for something more than just a glass of wine, at least to start.  This is where the apple brandy comes in.  I have a bottle that I bought for a yummy cider punch I made last year.  So this recipe seems like the perfect choice for tonight.

I love an old fashioned, and I love apple brandy and so what’s not to love about this cocktail?  Bonus, did you know bitters are really good for digestion?  If you’re having some issues after a meal, have a teaspoon of bitters and it should help.

CHEERS!

APPLE BRANDY OLD FASHIONED

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 oz simple syrup OR 1 sugar cube
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 1/2 oz apple brandy (such as Clear Creek)
  • lemon twist

Method:

  1. If using sugar, place the sugar cube in the bottom of the glass and add the 2 dashes of bitters. Muddle well to blend the sugar and bitters, then add a few drops of water and stir to dissolve the sugar.
  2. If using simple syrup, add the syrup and bitters to the glass.
  3. Place a large chunk of ice into the glass filled with sugar and bitters and add the apple brandy. Stir well to incorporate the sugar and brandy.
  4. Twist the lemon peel over the top, drop it into the glass and serve.