UPDATE: Since publishing this post, the dates of the New Year New You Summit have been changed to January 20-24, 2014! You can find links and information below regarding this amazing online conference, but please note that the dates have changed!
Happy 2014 everyone! What better way than to start the year with a healthy living summit. Talk about getting your inspiration in check!
The New Year New You Summit is a FREE live online virtual conference that is being held from January 13-17, 2014. You can hear from 31 health enthusiasts; including doctors, bloggers, farmers and health activists all while hanging out in your own home. (more…)
It is that time of year to celebrate, spend quality time with loved ones, cook amazing meals together, and at some point it usually involves a thoughtful gift or two. I must say that holidays have gotten, to some extent, overly materialistic. Not that I don’t buy presents, but it’s that so much focus has been put on presents…and LOTS of them! It’s nice to hold onto the true spirit of the holidays and share that celebration with your friends and family. All that being said, it feels good to give someone you love something special that you know they could use and will really enjoy.
We wanted to put a few items together that may help give you great gift ideas for all the sweet people in your life.
Ecojarz stainless steel small mouth mason jar lid with stainless steel straw and cleaning brush. These are awesome gift ideas – perfect for on-the-go drinks, or fresh-juiced produce. You can feel good not using any plastic materials and know that the taste of whatever you are drinking isn’t going to taste like the bottle you are drinking it out of. Click HERE to view. HERE are some Ball canning jars to go with them. These canning jars are perfect to package a gift in too…i.e. bath salts, dry baking goods, DIY manicure kit…this list could go on forever.
Green Pastures fermented cod liver oil… you need to make sure that you are getting this for the right person who will appreciate it, ha! Click HERE to view.
A Kombucha starter kit is another great idea. Click HERE to view.
Nourishing Traditions Cookbooks. Click HERE and HERE to view.
I LOVE our cast iron skillets that were my grandmas. You can do so much with them! Click HERE to view.
It is amazing how often I use an immersion blender in my kitchen. It makes blending so quick and has easy clean up. Click HERE to view.
Yaktrax are great for people who live in snowy and or icy areas. You can slip them over your shoes for a steady and non-slipping hike or walk to the store. Click HERE to view.
These Thermos‘ are the best. They keep stuff warm or cold for hours. Click HERE to view.
Succulents are so beautiful! How fun to create little succulent pots for friends & family! Click HERE to view.
Terrariums would be a great gift idea. Whether it’s a book to make them, or you are feeling crafty and design them as gifts! Click HERE and HERE to view.
Some larger gifts may be more of a gift you give yourself and your family…
The Berkey water filtration system has been on our radar for a a while now. Click HERE to view.
A good juicer is a great investment for your health. We have a Breville Juicer that works well. Click HERE to view.
I dream of owning a Vitamix blender…from what I have heard they are AMAZING. Click HERE to view.
Speaking of great kitchen pots & pans…the Le Creuset French Ovens and Dutch Ovens are amazing. Click HERE and HERE to view.
KitchenAid mixers are great, I use mine quite frequently in both cooking and baking. Click HERE to view.
The best gift you can give is a “gift of time” as my Aunt Nancy puts it. I love that thought and it is so perfectly true. Don’t forget to tell your friends and family you love them, make the time to spend with them, and enjoy each others company…that’s what life is about.
You’ve heard us talk about this super awesome End of Summer eBook Bundle: 30 Real Food & Healthy Living eBooks for only $39 (a $650 value) and available only through Tuesday, September 10th. That is a 90% savings. Boom.
Simply Salads by Season (written by Kristen Michaelis from the blog Food Renegade) is one of my favorites in the bundle. In my opinion, it’s a perfectly put together book for quick and simple salads with a real food focus. This book is the best because:
The recipe ingredients are all real food items.
The book provides guidance on sourcing the best possible ingredients.
Simply Salads is organized by seasonal ingredients, which makes meal planning easier and cost effective.
A few salad dressing recipes that caught my eye:
Homemade ketchup – used as an ingredient in some of the dressings or great as a condiment for anything else you are eating at home
Ranch dressing – no more bottled, store bought dressing or powdered “homemade” versions!
Dill vinaigrette – just yum.
Homemade Worcestershire sauce – which is super awesome because we put a dash of this in just about everything. The store bought version contains corn syrup or sugar from GMO sugar beets. No, thank you.
I looked especially close at the fall salad recipes since that is the season we are heading into. Apple cauliflower chopped salad, Avocado grape salad with pecans, and Kale & Brussels spouts salad, oh my! Just to name a few.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to our readers. we are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
It’s go time. Whether you are in harvest mode from your own backyard garden or you are hoarding produce from your local farmers’ market, consuming and preserving those fresh fruits and veggies is a top priority as the summer winds down. I know for us, it can be hard to keep up with. Many different things in our garden become ready for picking all at the same time – which can be stressful! You feel the pressure to get the most out of everything you grow! The produce piles up on the counter, things ripen too fast, and you are scrambling to find recipes to use all of that produce up fast! But it’s all worth it, when you are eating your garden goods mid-winter and feel proud of what you grew yourself. It is such a satisfying thing.
If you need to find a home (whether that’s in your stomach or on a shelf in your pantry) for that mountain of produce on your counter, I have just the thing for you. Quick and easy recipes to use up or preserve all of that garden goodness. I got the hook up from my real foodie friends and I wanted to share the love. Enjoy!
It’s that time of year when the garden is starting to overflow with goodness. The tomato plants are tall and we are starting to see some red beauties ripen up. We have already harvested and pulled out the green bean plants (and our fridge is jammed with dilly beans). Our jalapenos are taking off and our bell peppers are growing slow and steady. We have snuck a few carrots to taste test and they will be ready in a week or so. The snap peas didn’t last long with daily Lyla raids. Our broccoli is coming in quite nicely. We’ve enjoyed many, many salads from our spicy greens. Aaaaand we have some decorative gourds growing beautifully, which is funny, because we didn’t plant gourds this year. Huh.
Also, our kale. Looks. Fabulous. The only problem is that there is so much of it that comes ready at once. Our main use of kale in our house is adding it to smoothies, so I wanted to figure out a good way to preserve and freeze our kale so that it was easy to pop in a smoothie concoction. Have you checked out Lyla’s favorite smoothie recipe?
Harvesting kale is simple. When the leaves are about the size of your hand, they are ready (they are even tasty when the leaves are young and tender). Use a scissors to cut the stem or snap the stem with your hand just below the leaf. Be sure to choose bottom leaves to harvest and do not pull out the entire plant. Your kale will keep showing you love with more growth throughout the summer and into fall. It can even withstand some frost. The best time of day to harvest kale (and all greens for that matter) is early in the morning.
Here is how to prepare and preserve kale in small portions for your freezer.
Begin by boiling a large pot of water on the stove.
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and set it on the counter next to the pot on the stove.
Set up a drying station for your kale with kitchen towels or paper towel next to the ice bath.
Place a few ice cube trays next to the drying station.
Prepare the kale by removing the thick stem in the leaves. I just ripped it out by hand. Rip the leaves into small pieces. I’m not too worried about size, but keep size in mind depending on recipes in which you might use the kale.
Wash the kale, either by submerging it in a large bowl of water or by rinsing it in a colander.
Once the water is boiling, add the kale to the pot of boiling water.
Remove the kale after 2 ½ to 3 minutes with a slotted spoon (a pasta scooper spoon thing works well for this) and submerge the kale immediately in the ice bath to stop the cooking process. This process is called blanching and it prepares the kale for freezing by stopping enzyme actions that cause a loss of texture, flavor, and color. Your kale cook time starts when the kale is submerged, not when the water returns to a boil.
Using the same slotted spoon, move the kale from the ice bath to your drying station. For this freezing method it’s not necessary to get the kale super dry, just remove as much water as you can on the towels.
Push small handfuls of kale to almost the top of each ice cube hole.
Put the trays in the freezer for about 4 hours or until the kale is completely frozen. Pop the kale out of the tray and store in a freezer bag.
I harvested so much kale that I repeated the steps above many times because it sure wasn’t all going to fit in one pot. Go ahead and reuse the water for multiple boiling sessions. I harvested a very large bag of kale and ended up with two ice cube trays of frozen kale. It definitely becomes more compact when it’s been blanched and has wilted.
These small servings of kale are perfect to toss in smoothies, soups, stews, and pasta dishes. I actually think that a smoothie blended with blanched, frozen kale turns out better than using fresh – with frozen kale you lose the grittiness.
How do you use kale you’ve preserved from the farmers’ market or your summer garden?