That time of year!

It’s that time of year again, back to school time! And I feel like the most common complaint by moms, is the topic of lunches. Kids get sick of them and so do parents. For most family it seems like a rotation of 3 or 4 sandwiches with carrot sticks and apple slices end up being everyone’s saving grace.

I thought this week we could dedicate our time together about lunches that are healthy AND yummy so that the transition into the school year is a bit easier. Considerate my gift to you 😉

Today I am spending lots of time in the kitchen so that I can share with you the rest of the week some new ideas and how to add a little creativity to those school day lunches.

So come back tomorrow ready to pin, make a few list and hopefully even print a few pages!

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Ella’s Success!

My sister, Ella has officially lost 50lbs. She knew before I did that Coop was going to propose and has made great efforts since to lose some weight for that special night. That motivation has turned into a complete life style haul which has resulted in her losing a medium size 5 year old.

Congrats girl, you beat the statistics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For anyone who is struggling in their weight loss journey, keep going. A pound today and another next week adds up to success in the long run. And along the way, you r mind will be a completely different and strong mind.

Ella had her tonsil’s out this week and is having a rough go. Please keep her in your prayers, And be encouraged by her story if you need it today and this weekend.

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Twisted Sangria

Sorry for the late post today, it has been another busy week over here in the mitten! Today started the count down to see Cooper which is very exciting. Do you know what else is exciting? Seeing all of your comments on my little posts… I absolutely love reading you thoughts and cannot tell you how thankful I am that you take time out of your busy lives to read this interweb space and share on it. Thank you for being a part of my life in such a supportive and encouraging way 🙂

Now onto the goods…

I’m not really a alcohol drinker, it’s not about religion it’s just simply personal choice. Now that isn’t to say that once in a while I wont have a 1/2 glass of wine with Coop… but honestly, it always comes with hesitation. Between my over sensitivity to headaches and the calorie cost of a drink, well most of the time I would just rather not.

The other night I got home from work and I was in the mood for a glass of wine. Truth be told, I think it was because it was a cooking night and I have memories of my mom, uncle and grandma cooking with a glass of wine to sip on around the holidays while I was growing up. As I went to grab for a glass of wine, I had an idea… healthy sangria!!!!!

green twisted dangria

Have you ever heard of Kombucha? It’s this unbelievably delicious carbonated tea drink that is raw which provides wonderful pro-biotics for your gut health. Well guess what… if you mix kombucha with your wine you get the wonderful flavor of a sangria with some great health benefits. Top this off with some freshly cut fruit and you are set!!! The beauty of kombucha is that it comes in a variety of flavors which means the opportunities are endless. Between the many varieties of wine available and the many varies of kombucha (some even have chia seeds in them), fresh sangria that offers a health punch can be enjoyed any time you want!

What’s you favorite drink to spice up?

How about wine?

*** Please drink responsibly***

Simple Classic Sauce

I think there is a bit of a miss-conception about Italian food. I say this because my mom’s family is Italian and I have been throughout Italy. More often then not, Italian food is considered “cheat” food or non diet food. However, if you think about authentic Italian food and if you visit Italy and even eat at some of the authentic un-touched by tourist cafe’s and restaurants, you would probably start to disagree.

In many of the small villages of Italy where you find some of the most delicious food, you will also find individual gardens in the back of restaurants and very very rarely do you find a large truck parked outside delivering produce. I personally believe it’s because of the value of food and how it is appreciated as something that connects people. Much of what I saw in Italy was people pouring themselves into what they do entirely and completely. And that included making sure costumers were truly satisfied with what they were consuming as well as making sure they were receiving happiness and health.

Anyways, since my trip to Italy, my perception of pasta sauce is different. People here (including my family), load their sauce up with cheeses and meats and although it can be unbelievably delicious, very rarely in these sauces do you actually taste the freshness and sweetness of the tomatoes. I have even heard of individuals who actually put sugar in their sauce. I find that to be simple mind blowing! A side from this taking away from the taste of the actual tomatoes, these methods also cause the dish to become unhealthy.

While in Nashville this last time, I loaded up on the tomatoes at the farmers market. I think I bought about six, and two days later those bad boys were getting pretty soft. Instead of throwing them away (that’s practically a sin), I chopped them up, threw them in a small pot and made some sauce. I didn’t have the best of expectations since my mom was with us and she is the queen of the kitchen, especially when it comes to sauce. Little did I know though, my sauce would blow her mind. With just a few ingredients, these beautifully miss-shaped almost orange tomatoes that were just picked 72 hours before would become something devoured by my italian born and raised momma.

So, last night I did it again. This time for my grandma who gets the nic-name at church of “Pasta Queen”. It happened again, yet another mind blown. Neither of them thought that with just tomatoes something so delicious could be made.

It made me so happy that others could eat real food prepared by me and really enjoy it. That I was able to do something good for both their bodies and their taste buds. It also felt good that I got the approval of two woman known for their cooking.

Here it is, the easiest and simplist sauce in the world from just tomatoes that is good for you and delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 tomatoes
  • a pinch of oregano
  • 3 tbsp of parsley
  • 1/8 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper

Directions:

  1. Chop up your tomatoes and place them in a medium size pot on high with your garlic.
  2. Depending on the softness od your tomatoes, they may only need 5 minutes of stirring or they may need longer. If they seem to be hard, trust me that they will soften and stew, just be patient and keep stirring.
  3. Once the tomatoes have become sauce-like, add in all your other ingredients and reduce the heat to low as well as place a lid on your pot.
  4. Let the sauce cook for about 30 min. stirring often and adding very little water if needed (if the sauce thickens).
  5. When finished, use on anything and everything from bred, to quinoa, meats to pasta.

pasta sauce

Chickpeas

I am a snack-er, I always have been. Most of my family is to! For me it isn’t a good thing because when I want to snack it’s usually for something quick, flavorful and crunchy. Generally speaking, those three things usually do not lead to healthy. A few months a go however, I saw a picture on pinterest for Roasted Chickpeas and my mental juices started flowing. I read through the recipe that I saw and wasn’t to impressed. I made it any ways, and although I didn’t love those roasted chickpeas the experience gave me a great foundation to start some recipe developing.

After much work (not really, this is to much fun to be considered work), I finally came up with something that works. And by works, I mean my family all approves which doesn’t usually happen when we are talking about healthy food. SO here it goes…

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large Can of Chickpeas
  • 1 tsp Coconut or Olive Oil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  1. Open you can of Chickpeas and rinse well
  2. Lay out your chickpeas on paper towel that is over a large flat surface, then take another paper towel and rub the chickpeas in a circular motion.
  3. Place you chickpeas in a baking dish and then add the oil as well as your seasonings. Season mainly to taste however make sure to only lightly season with the salt and parmesan cheese (Healthy, remember).
  4. Bake in the oven on 450* for up to 40 minutes. Make sure you are checking every 10 minutes or so on the chickpeas stirring every time.
  5. Once done (they should look slightly crispy), allow to cool.
  6. Divide the cooled chickpeas in to 1/4 Cup serving sizes and store as you would store chips or crackers.

HRC

I promise that these are absolutely delicious and much better for you than chips, pretzels or crackers due to the protein, fat and carbs they provide for you. Like always, eat them in moderation!

Are you a snacker?

If so what is your usual go to quick snack?

Can you think of a recipe that you like but wish was a little healthier?

If so, comment or email me about it and hopefully I can come up with something a little healthier without losing the flavor you love so much!

Nashville’s Farmers Market

Two words: In Love!

Yep, that pretty much sums it up, I am completely in love with Nashville’s Farmers Market. It was something I only dreamt of and to add to it, everyone was unbelievably kind and didn’t seem to be bothered my my many questions I had for them about how they grow, where they grow and what they grow. It was pure bliss friends.

Here are a few shots of the wonderful-ness!

Some really cool info about the set up of the Market in Nashville…

Where you sell you produce in the tent is based on 3 details.

  1. You grew it
  2. You brought it
  3. You made it

I found this to be amazing. One thing I learned this last year about Michigan Market’s is that you don’t have to grow it to sell it. And honestly, I was bothered by that. To me, buying from a second party makes the experience no different than if I go to a local supermarket and buy produce there. I completely understand the logistics of it, however it was very nice to shop at a market that labeled their produce correctly so that I could then choose what I wanted to buy through educated decisions.

Nashville has a voucher system.

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I kept noticing this sign at the market so I asked an older gentleman whom I thought was a farmer about it. Sure enough the older gentleman was the owner of the farm who was selling produce and he was kind enough to tell me all about the voucher program that one of the counties Nashville has set up. Disabled individuals (whether mental or emotional) as well as the elderly are given vouchers for Tennessee produce. These individuals can go to participating farmers and trade their vouchers for locally grown produce. The program was explained to me as one that strives to help those in need in a way that will support their recovery and/or maintenance of true health as well as help the community farming population. The farmers then turn into the vouchers to the county who passes them out for the full price of their produce.

How cool is that? I love that the county is giving individuals the opportunity to eat real food that will nourish. I also love that the county values their farming population as well as the economic benefits of people buying local. Lucy (my mom) and Coop had to practically drag me away from the Market but I plan on making it a regular stop! My dad is also very much a Market lover and when I got home I told him all about it and how excited I am for him and I to go down to Nashville and spend a nice chunk of time at the Market… exploring the delicious food and experiencing the conversation with the many farmers.

Do you go to a farmer’s market near you?

If so which and what type of set up as well as programs do they run for to benefit the community?

Lately

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Cooper and I had our engagement pictures taken (above).

I had a great interview for a great job at a local hospital and got it!

Coop moved to Nashville for his dream job!!!

SO much has happened in the last 2 weeks and I am sorry I haven’t been posting. I feel like I am just now getting back to normal. All of the changes that have been going on have been wonderful and I am so thankful to God for each one of them however my world has been flipped upside down without a doubt. 

Let’s start with the engagement pictures. Well, they made this wedding feel real and like it’s actually happening. The pictures turned out beautiful and if you are in the metro-Detroit area I highly recommend using the woman who did ours! Her name is Jennifer Wiseman and she took so much time to ask us what we wanted and even research multiple locations for the pictures. We ended up going to Starbucks (Cooper is a caffeine ingesting machine), and got some really cool and unique shots there. Then we headed over to a park she knew of that had everything you could think of; water, a wooded area, a brick building, train tracks, a stone path and so much more. Feel free to contact me if you would like to see more of our pictures and definitely shoot her an email at { jenn7565 (at) yahoo (dot) come } – it’s formatted that way so she doesn’t get any spammers.

Three days later, I had a job interview at a local hospital. Because I live in such a large metro-area, there are SO many hospitals around. And in the last few years I have noticed (I have volunteered at most of them) a major shift in the foundation of patient care in these hospitals from patient centered to profit centered. It has really broken my heart and even slightly discouraged me. However, there has been this one hospital that has always caught my attention, they not only are patient care centered but they are also holistic in the sense that they believe healing comes in the form of body, mind and spirit, I was elated to get the interview and ecstatic when I got a phone call while I was in Nashville that I was first pick for the job. Like most things in life, I don’t know how this job will lead me to my passion and next stage of life but I’m sure it will and I’m so excited for the process to start. I’m also really happy that I get the privilege of working for an organization I can believe in because of their core values, I know that isn’t the case for many people and I feel so blessed for that as well.

Finally, Nashville and the move!!!!! It was long, hard and successful! We moved down there in 2 cars and with only the gracious help of my mom – Lucy. Honestly, we couldn’t have done it without her. We left Michigan at 5:30 in the morning so that we could beat as much traffic as possible and get to Nashville as Coop still had to sign his lease.  

——-    By the way, his name isn’t really Cooper… but his job is a sensitive job when it comes to details so that is what he is called here. I realized a minute ago that people that actually know my in person may read this and think I”m a bit off my rocker so I thought I would explain.   ——  

Anyways, Coop was able to sign the lease and then we immediately started unloading the the cars. After we got everything unloaded, Lucy, Coop and I made a trip up to Walmart. Another side note – the south has some very different stores than the north and it is mind blowing, like driving around for 40 minutes slightly concerned that you are lost yet still looking for a Kroger kind of mind blowing! Also, Tenn doesn’t allow grocery stores to sell wine! Take note all, this will also save you much emotional pain as well as gas. 

Back to Walmart, we spent a lot of money, but we got SO much of what he needed. You see Coop didn’t live on his own before the move so we went down there with only my “extra’s” that I have accumulated from my moves. At one point we both looked at Lucy with sheer concern on our faces when we totaled up the cost for all the “stuff”. Seriously, it was wonderful to have her there because it was moments like that in which she assured us that this is what happens, we weren’t spending money of nothing and it is expensive to start off! 

This process what a bit of an emotional one for me and needless to say I lacked most logic for the most of it! The next 2 days were filled with trips up to Target (thank the sweet Lord Jesus that the south has Target, lots of Target!!!!!) and Walmart, as well as putting together much furniture. Oh yeah, we made a trip to a furniture store. 

Let me take this minute to quickly explain that Cooper and I are both type A personalities. He definitely is, I would say I slightly am. I think when you grow up in a large family like I did with older brothers who think they are your dad and a younger sister who kind beats you up a lot, your type “A” personality becomes slight at the risk of your losing your mind. Coop and I both like list’s, we LOVE quiet time that involves reading and planning, we try to make our decisions in life based on prayer and logic. We think things through to a point that drives most people insane and saving money is a hobby of ours. My family (In love and sarcasm) thinks we are boring and we are just A’OK with that! All of this is to say that these last 2 weeks have been unbelievably difficult for us. But I can’t tell you how many times I have been stopped in a moment to realize the graciousness of God. The love He has for us and how He is continuously showing up when we need His guidance and direction so badly. SO much of the last 3 months of our lives have include more unknowns than ever before. Yet everyday, our God has shown us His mercy in providing for us in all ways. It has provided me with the opportunity to fall in love with Coop again and again as well as realize the importance of my relationship with the Lord. This difficult process has become a sweet one and I am so thankful for that.

By day 3 of being in Nashville, the apartment was looking like a home, so we went out! It was so much fun to show Lucy the city a bit and it was exciting to think about how in the future we would be able to have people come visit us and have such a great place to show people! I had heard so much about the Nashville farmers market so it didn’t take me long to convince Coop and Lucy that we needed to go check it out! Let me sum it up for you quickly – AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was so great in fact that I am going to do a special post just of the market!!!!

It was really hot that day, so after the market I think we just ended up back at the apartment and ordered pizza that night. The next day we headed to downtown Nashville and got to explore a bit! I think the best part of the trip though was talking to Cooper about his new job after his first day of work. 

Cooper works for Homeland Security and is a Federal Officer, he gets to see a lot of things that most people don’t get to and he specializes in deception analysis.  Like I said earlier, a lot of the details of his job aren’t allowed to be spoken about publicly especially on the internet… but I’ll tell you, I have NEVER heard my fiance talk about what he does from 9-5 with so much excitement. I am so unbelievably proud of him and his accomplishments. A lot of people don’t know this but he didn’t come to America until he was 11 years old. He is however a proud American citizen and considers himself an American. He is currently 1 semester away from having a Master’s degree in psychology and wants to go on even further in his education. He really has faced a lot of opposition in his life but doesn’t let a bit of it keep him from where he wants to be in life. It is so rewarding to sit back and watch him reap the benefits of his many wise choices and all of his hard work.

This next year is going to continue to be a big year for Cooper and I… I can’t wait to marry that man, move to Nashville and have both of us working in our dream career fields. Thank you for being gracious to me in this busy time and I can’t wait to share with you all the details of life as it continues to happen.

 

The Farmacy

Today is going to be short and sweet! This week is move week and it’s making me want to curl up in bed with a pint of cookie dough ice cream and watch bravo.

Farmacy

Here in Michigan, the farmer’s markets just seemed to have hit their prime. You can’t drive 2 miles without seeing one and no matt where you go the food is unbelievable. I think it’s needless to say that I’m in heaven!

I was talking to a friend recently ( trialbysaphire ) and as we talked about nutrition she said to me the above. Can we all agree that this may be one of the greater things ever heard? The food from farms – or their markets taste fresher, are often cheaper and let’s not forget the positive effect on our economy when we buy local. It is just an all around perk to buying food from the “farmacy”.

In other news… check out how New York city is encouraging their residents to buy fruits and vegetables from local farmer markets!

 link here

The Great Drink Debate

drink debate

(Source)

** This post contains my opinions as well as current news that has been cited, please comment only kindly. Feel free to post your opinion but please be conscious that as humans we generally respond best to love and understanding. Although this post does have to do with politics, please realize that is not the intent of the conversation.**

Lately, the topic of soda is making a big splash in the news! All that is happening is actually really part 2 of the story.

In May of this year, the Mayor of New York city attempted to put legal regulations on the amount of soda an individual can purchase. This proposal was shut down by the court system on Tuesday (July 28th) do to violating the states separation of powers (cite).

Like expected, this news is becoming quite the dinner table talk! And I have to say, as someone who is a lover of all things health and sustainability, I am very torn on the subject.

I’ve confessed to all of you before that I am a mere human, who eats pizza at times, drinks a glass of wine once in a while and loves cupcakes… and because of that, I don’t think I like this attempt to regulate.

I came from a large family, and much of the time money was tight. My parents worked very hard to provide for us what they did and one of my fondest memories was of our family nights. These nights often included video games, a movie or even board games. Theses night also included something special like pizza or other take-out/fast-food. Generally speaking, this would also be the rare occasion we drank soda. And for any large family, usually a 2-liter is what takes care of the amount issue. I genuinely look forward to someday having my own family night with my children, and hopefully their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents can be a part of it at times as well.

The regulation of soda, would in fact directly effect a families ability to do have these types of nights. You see, rather than a 2-liter, or sometimes a few 2-liters depending on the amount of people, families would need many or multiple cans of sodas. This would increase the tax for the over all bill, this would also eventually effect the question of “pick-up or delivery”. A man with two arms (that’s usually how many the pizza guy has), cannot carry 2 large pizza, bread sticks and 6 cans of soda, or better yet 8 small bottles of soda. And although this doesn’t seem like a big deal, you and I both know that convenience is a wonderful thing for full time working parents.

Now please understand, I am not a soda drinker. I probably have 10 oz. of coke throughout the entire year. But part of being an American (in my opinion) is the fact that we stand up for the other guys who may live a little differently then us, look different or act different and say, hey… let’s not take their rites away because it “bothers” me. I understand that obesity is on the rise which leads to high health insurance for everyone as well as a less effective work force due to metabolic illnesses resulting in more sick days. But guess what, whether you make it “harder” on someone to drink 75 oz. of soda a day or not… if people want to do so, they will.

The great drink debate isn’t about life or death, it isn’t about religious views, it’s about a small group of people who drink a lot of soda and the efforts to try and make them stop doing it. I highly doubt that the man who has drank 75 oz. of soda every day for the last 10 years is going to stop because now he has to carry a box of cans to his car from the grocery store rather than 2-liters.

What are your thoughts on this great debate?

Do you have any ideas on how this issue could be resolved?