Sunday, April 28, 2013

Meat and Muffins

We took a trip out to the farm last week!  The farm where I have signed up for a produce CSA announced a partnership with a local meat farm.  Locally and humanely raised meat can be ordered ahead of time each week and a delivery will be left one evening a week with Spring produce shares.  I didn't sign up for a spring share, but I will be heading that way once a week come summer anyway and finding a local, healthier source of meat was something on my "want to do" list for a while now.  I sent an email to the farm owners to ask for more information and they sent me a response and told me to come up to see the farm anytime.  So, we took a road trip!

The farm is located just outside of Dublin, New Hampshire, which is such a cute town that I had never been through before.  Myself and the little one headed that way on a nice, sunny, spring day- I think we have finally kicked winter to the curb!  When we got there, I foolishly left my camera in the car.  I was kicking myself because there were some very adorable photo opportunities with pigs, piglets, sheep, baby lamb, cows and chickens.  The owners, Craig and Sarah, were on site, took us around to all of the animals, talked openly about their farm practices and walked us through how and where everything is stored and available in their on site farm store.  The coolest part was being told directly by the owners that we were welcome to stop up anytime and see the farm and animals.  My mind flashed back to Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma (great book if you have not read it yet) where Pollan talked about a veil of secrecy over parts of the processing of the steer he was trying to follow to someone's table.  In contrast, this farm felt welcoming and transparent. 
Mayfair Farm
Before we left, we stopped at the on site store and purchased Italian sausages, a whole chicken, a bottom round roast and ground pork.  The Italian sausages were delicious....I cooked those up with some whole wheat pasta, sauce and veggies.  We also had a roast beef dinner.  The meat was definitely tasty, but truthfully I have never cooked a bottom round roast before and I think I may need a lesson or two!  The chicken is on deck for dinner this evening and I just found a recipe for homemade pot stickers for the ground pork.  I am excited about this find and look forward to ordering more fresh food!

Onto this lovely Sunday morning, a craving for donuts hit our house again.  So, the little one and I followed this recipe for a Sunday morning baked good.  I am really starting to like spelt flour.  I modified the recipe slightly by cutting out 1/2 the sugar.  I am sure you could substitute honey or maple syrup if you prefer.  I also made a quick chocolate glaze because there is always room for more chocolate.  I melted 2-3 tsp of coconut oil with a small amount of chocolate chips.  Once smooth, I just drizzled on the tops of the muffins.  Done. Yum.

On the pregnancy fitness front, I have resigned to walking, light weights and stretching/yoga at this point.  Between some busy work schedules right now and the third trimester wakefulness during the night, it's all I am fitting in.  This baby is also much lower than bundle #1.  Many people have told me that they think I am going to go early- I won't be upset if they are right! Although, I better finish up my nesting if that is the case.  I tried some "bursts" of jogging on a recent walk and as much as I want to run, it ain't happening! Baby is just too low. 5'ish weeks left until the due date so I will just keep moving as much as I can until then and then look forward to getting back to some running mileage.  My other half just signed up for his first marathon, which I am really excited about.  I have visions of family vacations and endurance event destinations!

Anyone else have end of pregnancy fitness tips?  Tips for cooking beef?

Have a great week!
Sunday, April 21, 2013

An AMAZING Milkshake!

Since getting my Vitamix, I have seen numerous recipes and ideas for ice cream using frozen bananas instead of cream & sugar.  Honestly, I was skeptical.  I figured it would beat a craving but taste like a healthy alternative to a total chocoholic like me.  My little one loves chocolate milkshakes and I picked up a carton of chocolate almond milk recently at the grocery store when she began asking for chocolate milk and it appeared to be the healthiest option at the store.  Milkshakes were just the thing we needed on a recent warm afternoon and this was so easy and delicious!

Chocolate Milkshake
(makes 2 servings)
~2 bananas
~2 cups chocolate almond milk
~2 tbs peanut butter
Cut the banana into chunks, place into a covered Tupperware or freezer bag and place into the freezer until frozen.  Pour 2 cups of chocolate almond milk into the blender, remove bananas from the freezer and add to the blender.  Add peanut butter.  Secure the lid and turn the blender onto low.  Use the tamper, if necessary, to push the frozen bananas down towards the blades to be blended.  Turn to high until you get the desired consistency.  This took only seconds with the Vitamix.  Pour and enjoy!
This shake was seriously amazing.  I think it rivaled a Friendly's Frappe and the frozen bananas added just the right amount of sweetness and thickness to the shake without any junk.  You can polish off the whole thing without a shred of guilt. I have seen posts on other blogs such as My Whole Food Life recently with information as to how to make your own almond milk, which I am sure would kick the health factor up a notch.  I may give that a try sometime.  I am definitely going to stockpile bananas in the freezer to make different flavors of this banana based shake all summer long....just wait until berries are out in season!  I bet this recipe could be frozen into popsicle molds too....ideas!
Have a safe and wonderful week!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring, Is That You?

It was Easter.  There was still snow on the ground, but Easter was here!  This is not a health food picture here, but on special occasions I love to enjoy a home made dessert from scratch.  I dusted off an old baking book I picked up at a flea market years ago and got to baking. 
The cake I made is called a Bonnie Butter Cake (I told you this is not a health food shot!).  Basically, a vanilla cake with fresh whipped cream filling, vanilla buttercream frosting but none of the chemicals found in most commercially processed desserts :)  That's what I love about baking- I can pronounce and recognize all of the ingredients...butter, eggs, vanilla, flour, sugar etc.  There isn't the time to do it for every occasion but it's great when I can.  One problem I seem to keep running into since switching from baking from pre-packaged cake mixes to baking from scratch is that the cake seems dense.  I used to use whole wheat flour for these desserts and I thought that was the problem.  This time around I bought an organic all-purpose flour but I still felt like the cake was dense.  Hmmmm......I need to figure this one out!  Any ideas?

Also, I am sure you have been hearing about the recent petition and attention on Kraft foods to remove chemical food dyes from their products.  There was a recent food investigation by Food Babe that revealed that European countries have banned many of such chemicals and large companies, such as Kraft, make their products for the European markets without these harmful additives.  Note the Cadbury mini-eggs on the cake.  My folks recently returned from a trip to see family in Ireland and our house was spoiled with some imported Cadbury mini-eggs.  When I looked at the ingredients, I noticed that the coloring comes from beetroot and paprika!  I bought a bag from a grocery store here in the U.S. and the coloring is from chemical dyes....argh.   Can we please get this right??

Since Easter, we have seen signs of spring!  Although I am sure we are off to a late start, we finally got going on seedlings for our garden this year.  We have plans for corn, tomatoes, spinach, green beans, potatoes and some herbs. 
Standing proudly next to her seedlings....
We have some rearranging in the yard to do in order to keep the chickens from pulling up the seeds!  They are cute, but it was very frustrating last year when I came home to my herbs all pulled up and a flock of chickens "dirt and sun bathing" in my raised garden boxes.

Speaking of the chickens, their strike is over! Woohoo!  Despite using a heat lamp and extending daylight with artificial light all winter, they just were not producing.   My husband began talking about chicken stew.  There was a temporary stop on the strike and we collected one or two eggs (I swear they heard him), but then it quickly resumed again.  I pleaded to give it until spring and see what happens.  Warmer temperatures over the last week or so and another cleaning of the coop seems to have done the trick! They are back in business.

Even with plans for the garden in the works here, I decided to go back to a local farm and also sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share.  We bought one 2 years ago, but last year I decided to try to use farmers' markets instead.  The share worked out better for us as our local market is really small.  We plan on taking our first shot at preserving/canning if our garden produces well this year and there is an abundance of produce from the share. addition to veggies, I also just connected with a farm about a meat share.  I am very excited about this.  It has been on my "want to do" list for a while.  I will be taking a trip out to the farm soon and have some more news hopefully! 

On the fitness front, the last 2 weeks have been a bust.  I caught the viral chest cold/cough that everyone seems to be sharing and couldn't shake it.  I never get chest colds...I'm spoiled, but this one knocked me down pretty good. Not being able to take anything due to expecting didn't help, but I'm feeling back to myself this weekend and looking forward to getting back to some cardio.  32 weeks along! Almost. There.

Any spring plans or progress going on for you?

Have a great week and good luck to all those Boston Marathoners out there!  I know some runners in this year's race and I can't wait to hear about their experience!