Friday, June 28, 2013

All Natural: What Does That Even Mean?!

I'm about to information bomb you with some mad facts on the differences between organic, all natural, natural flavorings, etc.  To be honest with you, I'm kind of a bozo when it comes to these terms, as I honestly thought they were all the same until recently.  Little did I know, "all natural" ingredients can be anything from bug guts (aka carmine - see my previous blog post) to wood pulp (aka cellulose) to beaver butts (aka castoreum).  The last one was so vile and almost unbelievable that I had to get the lowdown.  Castoreum, labeled as a natural flavoring on food packages, is quite literally the yellowish secretion of the castor sac in combination with the beaver's urine, used during territorial marking out in the wild.  Here in the USA, the FDA has considered this "natural" additive to be GRAS (generally recognized as safe).  It is mainly used in food and beverages requiring a vanilla flavoring.   So a beaver's ummm...byproducts...smell like vanilla?! Well hot damn, you learn something new everyday, don't you? 

I gotta say, I have a little bit of creepy vanilla anxiety now.  I mean, what am I going to put in my coffee?  Clearly not my Natural Bliss creamer!  Gah!  Let's be serious, I'm a die hard carnivore, but I'm not trying to have beaver in my beverage.     




Monday, June 24, 2013

Southwest Chicken Chili

I’m about to drop another sweet recipe on you peeps. Much like my last recipe post, this one is easy to throw together and can be enjoyed for days. Like I said, I can’t be bothered to cook every day, so it’s stuff like this or takeout, which is usually not very Organo.

I don’t want to mislead you. I didn’t, like, make this recipe up. That is beyond the scope of what I’m capable of. I found it on SkinnyTaste, an amazeballs website chock full of healthy, easy-to-follow recipes (with mouth-watering photography to boot).  It’s probably my #2 favorite website for recipes, behind Thug Kitchen. More on my obsession with that later.

The original recipe can be found here…I’ll call mine a “loose adaptation” because I almost always forget stuff or add random stuff, and it still tastes fantastic. Here’s how I made it today:
  • Two massive chicken breasts 
  • Red bell pepper
  • Green pepper
  • 2 jalapenos
  • Yellow onion
  • 1 8 oz. can of corn
  • 1 8 oz. can of black beans
  • 1 16 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • Any kind of Mexican-ish seasoning: Ancho chile powder, chili powder, chipotle seasoning, fajita seasoning, etc. Grab one that looks tasty and don’t overthink it.
  • Salt and Pepper

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Cooper's Hawk: For The Love Of Pork

I've recently returned home from a phenomenal week with my friends and family in the South.  Naturally, I'm experiencing some mad PEDS (post event depression syndrome).  PEDS is just a funny little made-up term my friends and family have coined to describe the debbie downer effect one experiences when having to get back to reality after an amazing life event.  There's also PADS (post alcohol depression syndrome), but you basically experience that after say...a boozy night of drinking too many shots of tequila and cutting all your hair off.  Wait...what?!  Let's move on. 

There's only two things that could get me out of my post-vacation PEDS, and that's pork and pinot.  Luckily, my friend Lisa signed us up for a pork and wine tasting event at Cooper's Hawk the night that I returned home to Columbus.

I stalked their website prior to our pork fest and was thoroughly impressed.  Their founder, Tim McEnery, opened his first location in 2005 at the ripe old age of 29.  Seriously...29?!  He has since opened eleven additional locations, with four more in the works set to open in the next year.  Each location has an in-house winery in addition to serving modern cuisine. 

I must say, Cooper's Hawk had a little bit of competition, considering I had spent the previous eight days eating out at some pretty fabulous restaurants.  I'm happy to say that they far exceeded my expectations, and when those expectations involve bacon, they're pretty damn hard to beat. 

Timothy Mahler, the general manager, was our host for the night.  I gotta say, I like this guy!  He clearly enjoys his job and has a passion for food and beverage.  We also got a detailed rundown of the four course meal from the chef.

Alright, it's time to stop rambling and get down to the good stuff. 

Course One:

Antipasti Plate
Prosciutto, Mustard Seed Salami, and Soppressata with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes, and Bacon Epi' Baguette
Paired with Blanc de Blanc






What an amazing antipasti selection! The marinated tomatoes and mozzarella were a lovely compliment.  As for the baguette?  It's bacon, carbs, and butter.  Who the eff is going to complain about that?  It was straight bacon heaven.  The Blanc de Blanc was a perfect pairing, as it did not overpower the fairly heavy first course.  I was dying to see what was next.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Carolina: There's More Than Miles In My Rearview

I can honestly say that I just experienced one of the best weeks of my life.  The last seven days have been filled with weddings, friends, babies, love, reminiscing, business talk, and an ungodly amount of food and booze.  If you want to get all technical, the scale tells me it's exactly eight pounds of pork dinners and adult sodas.  Ooops!    Sorry kids, but the 80/20 rule went out the window the second I hit the West Virginia border (Biscuit World, anyone?).  Let me assure you, my spinach smoothie regimen resumed this morning.   

I packed up my bags last Wednesday for a trip to the Carolinas.  The first stop was to Enterprise to get my rental.  I had reserved a full-size car as usual.  When I arrived, their only options were a 15 passenger van, a little Chevy with roll-up windows, and a BRAND NEW Ford F-150.  The branch manager apologized and offered me the truck for the same rate.  Ha! If they only knew.  I accepted the truck while creepily laughing to myself as he was checking the miles and gas level.  The rental Gods must have been watching over me because I've been looking into buying this beaut for about a year now.  Needless to say, the trip got off to an amazeballs start.



So Hot.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

CSA's: Get With The Program

Every Sunday that I'm in town I get in my car and head out past the city limits for a little drive in the country.  I've been taking this drive for years now, sometimes with others, sometimes alone, but always down the same roads.  Out there the lines on the road disappear and there are more churches than stop lights.  Farmers are plowing the fields and families are having bonfires out back.  This is my version of the Norman Rockwell lifestyle, country edition!  If you know me well then this makes sense, considering I have a creepy obsession with boots, cowboys, and 4-wheel drives.  I mean, let's be serious here...a man driving a truck and wearing a pair of old shit kickers?!  Gah!  I also have a deep appreciation for people who are self-sufficient and can live off the land, as they seem to be a dying breed.  How great would it be to grow your own food, work for yourself, and make tons of money doing so?  Unfortunately, this is where Norm drops the ball.  Let me explain.    
   


Johnstown, OH
 

That John Deer is pretty sexy!
 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

What do you DO with a baby all day?

Before having a kid, I often wondered....exactly what do you do with a baby all day long? I mean, I know they eat, poop, sleep, and cry...what happens in between? For hours on end?!

Today I took care of Dylan all by myself for the first time. I know that sounds crazy, at eight months old. But really, I've never been solely responsible for her from sun up to sun down. Even on maternity leave, Shawn came home each night, and friends and family were always stopping by. Shawn is away having a boys poker weekend, which is much deserved...and I do relish this precious mommy-daughter time, especially since I'm going out of town myself tomorrow for four days. But dang, yo...mommy be TIRED! All the single moms out there, I give you more respect than I can put into words, seriously.

To give you some color, this is what went down today...so much crap. She rode in three different strollers. Whaa??

1. Wake up to Dylan babbling at 6:15 AM. Change her and give her a bottle.
2. Block her into the family room and make my fave breakfast: egg sandwich with cheddar, avocado, tomato on an English muffin.
3. Pack her in the jogging stroller and take Bacon on a walk.
4. Play on the floor, watch TV, read books.
5. Feed Dylan pears.


Bacon > Pears

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Pole Dancing: Work The Pole, Work Your Core?

As of late, I've been clocking 60 hours of work between two jobs.  Working 10-15 hour days does not leave much time for exercise, and the first thing on my mind come 6:00pm Friday is hitting the bottle, NOT the treadmill.  Nevertheless, when the girls and I took a pole dancing class at Urban Studio in Nashville during my best friend's bachelorette weekend, I figured it'd be a fun, boozy activity to do with the gang.  Yes, boozy...they literally provide champagne while you swing around poles and dance on chairs.

I'm just going to cut to the chase.  I have a new appreciation for ummm...exotic dancers.  Well, their fitness skills, at least.  The chick who taught the class had legs of steel and energy for days.  Maybe this wasn't just going to be a little boozyballs skankercise sesh.  We were all a little hung from the night before but we rallied on, guzzled down some bubbly, and got down to biz.

We started off with chair exercises.  Ten minutes in, my legs were on fire and I was gasping for breath.  We basically did "sexy" squats, lunges, back bends, and yoga poses on and around a card table chair.  I was literally dying.  This stuff is no joke.



The Bachelorette's priceless reaction!
  

Back bends galore!

 During the second half of the class we got in some bonafide pole time.  You need some major upper body strength, core strength, or simply good coordination to be good at this stuff.  Unfortunately, all the spinach smoothies in the world have not given me Popeye biceps and this was an epic failure for me.  Not only do you have to hold up your own body weight, you have to manage to twist around the pole at the same time, all while trying to look hot?!  Gah!



Shake what ya mama gave ya!

All in all, we left the studio sweaty and tipsy.  Score!  The next day I could barely lift my arms to drink my vodka red bulls and bending my legs was pure torture.  I think you call that a successful workout!

Cheers.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mediterranean Quinoa

Cooking is strenuous. I prefer not to do it every night, if possible. So, I like to make a ginormous quinoa and munch on it for days.

I probably don't need to sell you on the health benefits of quinoa. It's a "supergrain" with mad protein, and numerous other sweet benefits. Flavor-wise, it's a blank slate...and my go-to flavor profile is what I call "Mediterranean"...I mean, it's got feta, right? That counts.

I make this on the reg. Here goes. This makes a giant bowl, which translates to maybe 6 heaping servings:

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Glass Baby Bottles and Food Jars

I can’t remember exactly when the proverbial glass shattered for me regarding plastics…I think it was about four months ago when I came across the website for Healthy Child Healthy World (as I was shopping online for my Honest Company products – HCHW is a partner).  As I learned what those little triangle-numbers actually meant, I started to freak out. I ran around my house turning bottles upside down and cross referencing my Healthy Child iPhone app, and barfed out a giant run-on sentence diatribe to my husband about leaching. Things got weird.

These freak outs have been a part of my journey into my new healthy lifestyle. I tend a bit toward anxiety in general, and sometimes information overload can be the death of me. I have to gently remind myself of the 80/20 rule, and that nobody spontaneously combusted from their lips grazing a Starbucks lid. Seriously. So I just knock back two glasses of pinot and things seem a lot better.

That said, my cherubic little baybay falls in the 80% – so mommy found some glass for this cute butt:

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That's one type of glass bottle...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dear KRAFT: I Hate Your Guts

Hey Kraft...I think you need to go pound salt.  Why, you ask?  While the GMO-filled science experiments that you like to call food generally are reason enough to make me see red, your most recent advertising gimmick takes the cake.  Speaking of cake...check out the ingredients in the brand's Jello-O, Cool Whip, and Jet Puffed Marshmallows. SICK.  I just vommed up my spinach smoothie.  I digress.

I read an article the other day written by one of our favorite bloggers, The Food Babe, who also shares our distaste for certain elements of Kraft.  She wrote an article on GMO's lurking in their mac & cheese so I immediately started stalking Kraft's website and other sites to get more information on the creepyballs ingredients in the rest of their products.  While doing my research, I came across their newest marketing scheme.

Kraft has come up with the "County Time Great American Lemonade Stand-tacular."  Basically, parents are urged to enter their kids into Kraft's contest for the ultimate lemonade stand, and Kraft will donate $5 for every entry to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for child cancer research.  Check out the details here.  Decent enough idea, right?  There's just one little problem here.  County Time lemonade is creepy chemical water, and promoting your kids to not only drink it but sell it is disgusting!  So, let me get this right.  You want kids to drink chemicals, genetically modified ingredients, and processed food dyes, but then want to donate to cancer research?  Really, Kraft?  What ever happened to lemons being in lemonade? If I'm not mistaken, it can be made with water, LEMONS, and good old fashioned sugar.

So, when life gives you lemons...take out the lemons and add maltodextrin, sodium acid pyrophosphate, magnesium oxide, calcium fumarate, soy lecithin, artificial color, yellow 5 Lake, and tocopherol?  YUM!




I WANT REAL LEMONADE, MOM !!!!!!


 Unfortunately, we live in a society that values convenience over health.  Is it easier to dump chemically bombed "lemonade" powder into some water and call it a day?  Probably.  Are those few minutes saved really worth it?  I sure wouldn't want to deal with that little lady above.  That's just scaryballs.

Ditch the fake stuff and make some DIY lemonade next time.  Ain't nothin' like the real thang!  Here is a VERY simple recipe:

8 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of lemon juice
1 3/4 cups of white sugar

*I like to add honey too.  I don't measure.  I just pour, taste, and add more if necessary*


Cheers.