Beet & Green Bean Salad

Beet & Green Bean Salad

Beet & Green Bean Salad

Ok. TIME OUT. Tell me I’m not the only one..but my life is FLYING by! We moved into our house a little over a month ago and it’s basically been a blur since then. We’ve my husband has been weeding like crazy, we moved our fire pit, spent wayyyy too much of our savings and income at Home Depot, quickly learned how annoying painting trim is, wasted a LOT of time picking out counter stools, oh the list goes on and on and the “to do” list keeps growing.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s exciting and I love it but it can be overwhelming. We are practicing mindfulness, trying to take our time, and doing our best to remember there is no rush.

Needless to say, quick and easy has been the name of our food game in the house lately.

A few weeks ago we went to the 2016 Burgers and Brews event in Middleton, WI and we had a blast! So many delicious and unique burger and beer combos, but the next day I was craving veggies in a very big way.

I’m a big fan of salads for their versatility and simplicity. For me they can be great ‘clean your fridge out’ meals, no rhyme or reason, just throw in all the veggies! 🙂

For this particular salad I had some beets that were waiting to be roasted and used up. So they were the starting point of inspiration. The dressing is one of my go to’s. I first shared it when we made this delicious salad and it’s just been a favorite since then. ❤

Beets are one of my favorite foods, I know people either love em or hate em but this house definitely loveeeeeeees the beets. It’s hard to not love something this beautiful -> A20160605_142016Am I right? So pretty! A20160605_182501Beet & Green Been Salad Recipe20160605_182100

Salads are the ultimate in flexibility so pass on the things you don’t like and add in your favorites, I’d love to hear your favorite salad ingredients and your variations on this one!

Hope you are enjoying life one day at a time and making the most of summer so far! Next weekend we leave for vacation and I can.not.wait. Tune in next week to find out where we’re going!

xoxo

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Beet & Green Bean Salad Pinterest
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How to Peel an Avocado- Fast!

How to Peel an Avocado- Fast!

How to peel an AvocadoOk, so Avocados are everywhere right? Avocado toast…avocado pudding….avocado smoothies…avocado hair masks…. it’s crazy! But I love avocados so I don’t mind one bit.

Guacamole is one of my favorite things in the world and avocado toast is getting up there on my list of obsessions too.

The avocado itself is a wonderful little bundle of nutritional awesomeness! It’s technically a fruit and full of over 20 vitamins and nutrients. It’s high in Vitamin K, Potassium(more than bananas!) Vitamin C, Folate, and it’s also high in monounsaturated fat.

Monounsaturated fat are what people are talking about when they say “good” or “healthy” fats! They are proven to help reduce inflammation and there’s  even positive correlation between then and cancer prevention! But one of my favorite things about avocados (and healthy fats in general) is that they’re nutrition boosters! They actually help us absorb the nutrients and vitamins that are in other foods.

Many vitamins and nutrients in our foods are fat soluble which means that they need to be combined with fat in order for our bodies to utilize them and even absorb any of their goodness! These include (but there are many more) vitamins A, D, E and K… along with antioxidants like carotenoids.

So for example if you have a delicious lettuce salad that is full of great vegetables but you top it with a fat free dressing or no dressing at all and just vinegar or lemon juice, many of those nutrients are just passing right through you and you aren’t getting any good stuff from them! Now lets say you add avocado to the salad or an olive oil vinegarette….TADA! You are now able to absorb those fat soluble nutrients and actually reap the benefits of the food you’re eating.

Many people are afraid of fat because they think that it will make them fat (as if that’s the worst thing that could happen to a person) but so so sooo many studies are out there to prove that that is simply not the case. It’s important to make sure you’re eating the right and ideal fats for your body. Stick to mono and poly saturated fats and leave the trans fats on the shelf 🙂

Ok so we can all agree that avocados are delicious and nutritious but what is the best way to prep and peel the damn things? Not that there’s necessarily a “bad” way because as long as you’re getting it into your mouth, how can it be bad? But I have a tried and true way, that is outrageously easy, that many people have said they haven’t seen before so I figured I should share it with the world.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you did it any other way ❤

Steps to peeling an AvocadoLet’s walk through each step.

Step 1)  

Cut the avocado in half just like you normally would. Use a sharp knife to slice the avocado. Roating the knife, carefully, around the pit using it as an axis then gently pull the two halves apart. The pit should be left in one half of your avocado. 20160521_081415Step 2)

Gently tap your knife into the pit of the avocado(just enough so it “sticks” in a little bit). Rotate the knife and pit in one direction and the avocado flesh in another. The pit should loosen up and you should be able to lift it directly out of the flesh. 20160521_081438Just like this -> Now be careful pulling it off the knife! 🙂
20160521_081449And you should be left with two “pit free” halves of the avocado.
20160521_081512Step 3)

Next cut each half in half- so you are left with quarters. 20160521_081552Step 6)

Now starting at one end (the skinnier of the two usually works better) pull the skin away from the avocado flesh. I should peel off nicely in one piece but if it’s still a little “green” (not ripe) it might come off in pieces. Just peel until it’s all off.
20160521_081613And you’ll be left with a delicious, clean, skin free, hunk of avocado that you can chunk, smash, slice, blend…or do whatever you want to do with!
20160521_081635See, so easy? Do any of you do it the same way? If not, how do you do it? I’d love to hear if you have a trick that works well too! 🙂

xoxo

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2016 CSA Series!

2016 CSA Series

CSA SERIESI’m so excited to kick off another season of participating in a CSA! This year we purchased a share from Small Family Farm out of La Farge, Wisconsin which is very close to my home town. I love being able to support local farmers, especially ones that are virtually in my back yard! And if I’m being 100% honest, their adorable and fun website won me over. Seriously how cute are those illustrated veggies on their site?!?

Now if you’re a little confused about what a CSA is, let’s start with the basics.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is basically a partnership between you, the CSA member, and the farmer(s). CSA members pay the farmers at the beginning of a growing season for a share in that season’s harvest on the farm.  In return you receive a box of weekly (or other pre determined frequency) produce directly from the the farm that is delivered to several designated “dropsites” or sometimes you can choose to pick up at the actual farm too. It’s a great way to support local farms, eat local food, and eat healthier too!

One of my favorite things about CSA’s is the diversity of products. Sure you could have your own garden (I  totally support and encourage this and want my own next year!) but CSA’s are fun because you can get stuff that you’ve never tried before or things that you don’t grow yourself! Last time we did a CSA (see more about the 2014 season here) we got a lot of things we hadn’t tried and I’m excited for what this season will bring!

Because it’s just me and my husband, and summers are so busy with us rarely home on a weekend, we opted to purchase a Every Other Week (EOW) share from our farm. It’s the same big box of delicious goodies but instead of weekly we pick up every other week. This year in addition to a produce box, we will also be receiving a dozen organic free range eggs!

I am lucky enough to have grown up in and live in an area with a huge focus on local organic farms. I have a lot of options to choose from but there are CSA programs all over the country! There are also some great resources to help you find one near you, if you have no clue where to start. fairshare-logo

  • Fair Share CSA Coalition is a great option for my fellow Wisconsinites! They also have a ton of other great information on their site including local events, volunteer opportunities, recipes, and much more!

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  • Local Harvest has information on farms all over the country! They also include some events and farmers market info too.

I love that our farm sends out a newsletter each week to keep members up to date on the growing season, farm life, even farm events sometimes, and of course what’s in our box that week.

My goal for this series to to share what a real CSA experience is like, share new recipes and new ways to use some fun veggies and produce, and hopefully inspire you to either try a CSA or to feel more comfortable with a veggie-centric diet 🙂

Stay tuned for more delicious posts and even a hands on *get your hands dirty* visit to “our” CSA farm later this summer!

Thanks for tagging along and if you have any questions along the way, let me know!!

I’ll be picking up our first box tonight but my farm is awesome and posted a preview of what’s going to be in it this week! unnamed

Can you identify what each item is? Make sure to come back when we share what exactly was in the box and what we did with it all! 🙂

xoxo

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10 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

10 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

Tips for better sleepSleep is my favorite thing in the world. Not exaggerating.

When I was younger I “slept like the dead”. I could sleep through any noise at any time of day. When my mom would try to wake me up for school I remember trying with all my might to make her think I was still asleep. She’d tickle my feet, tried to flip me over…nothing worked; I wanted more sleep!

In high school and my first few years of college sleeping until noon was totally the norm for me on a very frequent basis. Yes I was staying up later too but I was consistently trying to get 10+ hours of sleep.

Now I steadily get 7-8 hours a night of sleep and honestly don’t really have too much trouble falling asleep and sleeping throughout the night but last year I was experiencing more trouble than normal falling to sleep and remaining asleep. It was causing me to feel exhausted and worn out all the time.  I did have a lot of stress (wedding plans, honeymoon plans, stressful work, basically life in general) so I began researching ways to get better sleep to help myself.

Sleep is so important to our human functions. I could probably write another blog post just about the benefits and importance of good sleep but you probably already know. Sleep literally affects every aspect of our lives so it’s pretty critical we get enough of it and that it’s good sleep. If you’re not getting enough or it’s not quality sleep, it could be effecting you in ways you don’t even realize.

Here are some of my top tips for better sleep.

1 & 2. Be mindful of your light(s) consumption

This is a big one which is why it takes up both 1 & 2. Before any of us had any technology, our bodies knew when it was time to wake up and when it was time to go to bed from the sun (or lack thereof). This function of our body is called the circadian rhythm. This physiological process is present in all living things; Plants, animals, even bacteria! As a very basic overview light tells the body to create cortisol which helps us wake up and darkness tells us to release melatonin which helps us fall asleep. It’s fail proof and a system that has been working since the beginning of time but the problem is technology is getting us all messed up!

In a perfect world we should be getting sunlight first thing in the morning to wake us up. Who has ever had difficulty waking up on a cold and dark winter morning? Well there’s science behind it! Ideally you would be able to get 10-15 minutes of sunlight first thing in the am. Now I totally know that’s not do-able for everyone whether it is time commitment or the fact that ummm the sun doesn’t shine sometimes until you’re already at work ( 😦 ) but the good news is that you can trick your body into thinking you’re basking in the sunlight! The Wake Up Light can simulate a sunrise in your bedroom. Waking up to gradual light, like a sunrise, is hard-wired into the human brain. As light falls on a person’s eyes, a message is sent to their brain that stimulates production of cortisol, known as the energy hormone. Waking up to dawn simulation has also been proven to help keep a person’s internal body clock in sync. It helps to regulate our circadian rhythm, promoting better sleep and reducing stress levels – unlike waking up in the dark to a sudden noise like a traditional alarm clock. (source)Wake up lightSo sunlight during the day = good and happy! But sunlight during the evening and night = bad and sad!

You’re probably thinking “I’m not in the sunlight at night”…. But blue light, which is emitted from computer screens, t.v.’s, phones and even some regular light bulbs is perceived by the body as sunlight. We’ve all been there, and I admit I’m a huge culprit of this as well, but when you can’t sleep or you’re getting ready for bed, what do you do? Grab your phone for one final glance through Instagram or read a chapter off your e-reader, right? Well this is wreaking havoc on your internal functions.

Again I understand that for some people it’s not fathomable to not watch tv, look at your phone, or stay in a dark closet until bed time. There’s another hack to trick your body, enter these dead sexy blue light blocking orange hued glasses.snapchat-4044737589180572841.jpgThe second you put them on you can almost feel your eyes and brain relax. But if you have a hard time picturing wearing these bad boys all the time you can try diming your lights after sunset, diming your computer screen or even purchasing a blue light blocking screen protector.

Another note on this is that I’m a big believer of no TV’s in the bedroom. Your bed should be a place for sleep and sex, nothing else! It goes without saying that watching TV before you go to bed and or having it on “in the background” while you are trying to go to bed is really messing up your brain and your bodies sleep signals.

  1. Limit Caffeine & Alcohol consumption

Probably pretty obvious but caffeine makes you feel awake (even if you don’t think it “perks you up” it keeps your body from properly recognizing adenosine which is what makes your body determine sleepiness. Every one metabolizes caffeine at different rates but it’s important to realize your unique caffeine cut off time during the day (and stick to it!!!). Similarly, alcohol might make you feel sleepy but it actually provides a pretty crappy night of sleep, reducing your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which never really allows your body to get into the deep sleep rhythm and leads to you being woken up more easily throughout the night.

Here you can see how long caffeine truly can stay active in your system:Caffeine Half Life

  1. Sleepy Time Tea Drink

Warm drinks can help us relax especially when it’s packed with herbs and ingredients proven to help us sleep. My go to is a chamomile tea but there are lots of un-caffeinated blends on the market. I typically add at least one add in or sometimes all of the following:

  • Gelatin and collagen peptides are not only shown to help relax you because of the high levels of glycine but also improve your quality of sleep because of the amino acids. And extra bonus they help sooth your digestive tract, and nourish your hair, skin, and nails! This is the product I use; it dissolves in both hot and cold liquids which I love.
  • Turmeric contains curcumin which has been proven to help with a whole host of health benefiting things but namely here, sleep!
  • Honey because it’s delicious but also because of the immune system support but most importantly here because it’s been shown to help improve sleep. (source) I always use local raw honey.
  1. Pink Noise

We’ve all probably heard of white noise but what the **** is pink noise? Basically pink noise is white noise that has been filtered to be less harsh and easier on the ears. LOTS of studies have shown that exposure to pink noise helps regulate your brain waves which allows for a super restful night of sleep. HERE is a YouTube clip of pink noise, take a listen, close your eyes for a minute and tell me you don’t feel more relaxed! They even have apps that you can download that can play for a set amount of time to help you drift off to sleep. (Android, iPhone)

  1. Boost your magnesium levels

Magnesium is the 3rd most prevalent mineral in the human body (after calcium and phosphorus) and helps fuel >300 biochemical reactions in our day to day life. You may be deficient in magnesium if you experience the following: irritability/anxiety, loss of appetite, nausea, general weakness, muscle cramps, problems falling and staying asleep, to name a few (source). If you are particularly stressed or dealing with a stressful life event your body actually needs more Magnesium!

My recommended way to get more Magnesium is through your diet.  Foods rich in Magnesium include dark leafy greens such as Chard, Kale, and Spinach; Nuts & Seeds such as Pumpkin/Pepitas, Almonds, Sesame Seeds, and Cashews; Fish such as Mackerel, Tuna or Pollock; Beans & Lentils namely Kidney, Pinto, Garbanzo; Whole Grains including brown rice, Quinoa, Bulgar, and Wild Rice and some other random favorites are Avocados, Bananas, Figs, and Dark Chocolate.

You can also absorb Magnesium through your skin by rubbing magnesium oil onto your skin before bed here’s my recommended brand.Foods-High-in-Magnesium

  1. Aromatherapy

No I’m not about to send you to a link to purchase essential oils from me because you have no idea how much better your life can be with them…….. BUT I do think that essential oils can play an important role in your life and the quality of the oils does matter. It’s been proven that certain scents can have an effect on your mood and mental state. In the very least they smell good and help create a cozy atmosphere that will help calm and relax you. I have this small diffuser that I have on my bedside table. You can find more info here but some of my favorite relaxing and sleep improving oil blends for diffusing are:Essential Oils for Better Sleep

  1. Grounding

Now this one might be the “weirdest” one on the list but grounding, or earthing, is a very basic principal. Essentially the theory or idea is that our bodies are meant to touch the earth on a regular basis. Think of it as skin to skin contact with mother earth. Positive electrons in the form of free radicals build up within our bodies and when we come into contact with and touch the actual earth, it balances us out because the earth holds a negative grounding charge. Each of the cells in our bodies have electrical energy (more than ever before with wifi and mobile phones all around us!) and we basically just store high amounts of positive electrons until we can release them onto a negatively charged material or more like exchange them for negatively charged electrons..

We come into contact with the earth less than you may think. We walk around in rubber shoes on cement all day long! It’s important to take your shoes and socks off, sit in the grass, swim in the ocean, climb that tree, and touch the earth! Numerous studies prove its overall health benefits, and one of which includes better sleep.

  1. Chill out!

Chill out has two meaning here. First let go of your “to do” lists and second, lower the temperature of your sleeping environment.

If you feel overwhelmed by your day to day stressors and all the things you need to be doing, it’s common sense you won’t feel relaxed and you’re mind will be racing thinking of all your life’s “problems”. A number of studies show a positive correlation between meditation or relaxation practices and better sleep. I love listening to calming meditative music or the pink noise listed above to unwind and clear my mind.

For the temperature aspect, I don’t know about you but I love to sleep when it’s slightly cold in my room and even find that I sleep better. When I was a kid and had a bed next to a window I’d open it even in the winter to feel the cool air while I slept. Something about it is refreshing and relaxing at the same time. Now that I’m older I realize there’s science behind it!

When we go to sleep our bodies core temperature goes down (only a small amount). Our bodies have a “set point” which is the temperature our body tries to maintain, basically our internal thermostat. If we make it harder for our body to achieve the set point, such being too hot or too cold, then our body struggles to get to the sleeping “set point” (I’m totally generalizing but you can read specifics here). The ideal sleep environment temperature is between 62-72 degrees Fahrenheit, and can vary from person to person. I think my ideal is  62.

However take caution and make sure that you aren’t experiencing cold extremities (hands and feet) as it requires your body to work harder to regulate and redistribute heat throughout your body and can interrupt the release of melatonin which plays a big part in your sleep cycle.Ideal Sleep Temperature

  1. Stretch & Yoga

This is good for your health on many levels. It’s physical activity, it helps you relax, and it can lead to a more comfortable night’s sleep. If you happen to have a job where you sit all day (join the club, it sucks) then this can be particularly useful. Now you don’t really want to work up a sweat, you’re trying to relax and wind down after all, but move through the poses slowly and methodically, and try not to zonk out in childs pose 🙂

Nicole at Pumps&Iron.com has some really great stuff on her site and I highly encourage you to check it out but in particular she has a great before bed stretching routine that I use frequently.

before-bed-stretching-routineSo there you have it! My favorite tips for a more restful and better night’s sleep. You do NOT have to do all of these but even just trying one or two and seeing if they can help you could mean a world of difference.

Are there some I missed? What are your favorite tips for better sleep? Let me know in the comments below!

xoxo

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Springtime Potato Salad w/ Lemon Butter Vinaigrette

Springtime Potato Salad
w/ Lemon Butter Vinaigrette

spring-potato-salad-butter-lemonEvery year I think I look forward to spring more and more. I swear OVERNIGHT the trees are blooming and plants are popping up! I can hardly believe it’s May already. I appreciate all the seasons but I think that Spring may win my heart.

With Spring, the warmer temperatures, and more daylight comes an abundance of growing crops and more fresh local food. Right now I’m seeing tons of  spinach, ramps, asparagus, radishes, a few peas, mushrooms (it’s morel season guys!!) among other leafy greens. This salad brings so many of those ingredients to the spotlight and allows you to eat fresh local food with ease.

Not only is it beautiful and colorful but it’s pretty easy to whip up and has enough protein(with the lentils added) to be a light dinner by itself or it makes the perfect side for a grilled dinner or BBQ (Memorial Day anyone?!).

If you’re like me and love the taste of butter (REAL butter & this is my favorite) then this salad will most likely become your new favorite obsession. The rich butter vinaigrette really takes this thing to the next level & I’m already rationalizing 67 other things I can put it on.

Experiment and make it your own. I’d love to hear your renditions.

Seriously, how beautiful is this though? And tell me I’m not the only one who is a sucker for teeny tiny baby potatoes. ❤Baby New PotatoesSpring Potato Salad 2 Spring Potato Salad 6Spring Potato Salad 7 Spring Potato Salad 8Spring Potato Salad 10 Spring Potato Salad 12Springtime Poato Salad RecipeMy mouth is watering. Hope you enjoy!!

xoxo

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Springtime Potato Salad Pinterest