2016 CSA Series – Week 3

2016 CSA Series – Week 3

CSA SERIESWEEK3

Happy Wednesday! I’m happy mostly because I just picked up another box of delicious CSA veggies from Small Family Farm CSA … oh and the fact it was my last full day of work for the week (#score).

It’s a little hard to handle that it’s close to the end of July already! Though I’m going to keep calling it the middle of July until about July 27th or so… 😉

One thing that I’ve been loving this summer is the delicious CSA veggies and all the awesome new recipes we’ve been creating; and we’re not even half way through the season!

If you don’t follow us on Instagram, make sure to head over and check us out! You’ll get to see what we’re doing with the delicious veggies quicker than waiting around here for a comprehensive post. Plus you’ll see more day to day life stuff too.

Instagram is my favorite social media platform; followed by Snapchat. I don’t even have Facebook on my phone anymore and Twitter…oh Twitter, while I “get it”…I don’t get it. So hard to really follow people and see what their up to and honestly I can never say what I want to in 140 characters 🙂 What’s YOUR favorite? Whatever it is, if you have Instagram, we’d love a little extra love over there. ❤

Without boring you to death and without further adieu…. our recipes from our CSA box #3!!! (Check out Week 1 and Week 2 if you missed them).

Here’s what was in box #3:CSA BOX WEEK 3CSA WEEK 3 Veggies

Clockwise(ish): Lettuce, Cucumbers, Collard Greens, Cabbage, Garlic Scapes, Peas, Kohlrabi, Strawberries, Basil, 2 Zucchini & 2 Summer Squash, Fennel Bulb, Eggplant, & Green Onions.

And here are the delicious recipes we made with it all.

Used the Green Cabbage, Kohlrabi & Green Onions:20160710_175655Before the past couple days, We’d been having some absolutely gorgeous summer weather (not too hot or humid) and we took advantage and made some delicious burgers on the grill. There might honestly be nothing better than a grassfed beef burger cooked on a natural charcoal grill enjoyed while sitting outside. ❤ This coleslaw was the perfect fresh veggie side. I didn’t make and use that much “sauce” because I hate goopy and soggy coleslaw but if you find you want more, feel free to do so!20160711_180542

Kohlrabi Cabbage ColeslawUsed the Lettuce & Strawberries:20160709_192847These strawberries! You guysssss, just as good as the last box and so much better than store bought. They were so good. We used them in both the salad it’self and in the dressing! I had a friend over and this salad was a big hit, she even made it for her family the next night she liked it so much! 🙂 20160709_192816Strawberry Salad with Spiced PecansUsed the Fennel:
So don’t judge me but I’m not the biggest fan of fennel, not that I don’t like it per say but it’s just not something that I crave or really enjoy it’s sort of a “just there” vegetable for me. HOWEVER this roasted vegetable recipe (which was adapted from Bon Appétit, mainly because I’m lazy and din’t have some ingredients) is really realllyy good. I’m a sucker for any and all roasted veggies and the olive oil vinegarette and mint leaves pack a flavorful punch for this recipe. Even if you happen to be in the same boat as me and feel a little MEH about fennel, give this one a try! (Side note, it’s good cold the next day too for lunch!) 20160717_190629Roasted Veggies with Lemon & MintUsed the Peas, Summer Squash, Zucchini, Basil & Eggs:20160712_180932I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem. I LOVE zucchini noodles but my husband? Not so much. Every time he asked what’s for dinner and I say *blank blank* pasta or pasta with *blank* I get “real pasta or the zucchini stuff?” it’s hard to reflect tone in writing but if you could hear it, you’d know he’s not a fan. This is the perfect solution for us! It mixes in spiralized veggie pasta with regular pasta and I’m not even sure he noticed! It helps it stay a little sturdier and not a soggy mess and keeps all members of our household happy.

This recipe in particular is a breeze to whip up and will be a fave. I LOVE LOVE LOVE eggs and loveeee runny eggs, but again my hubby isn’t a huge fan. After eating this even he said that it really adds a special something and makes the dish better! You can cook the eggs to whatever “doneness” you want.  I poached mine for just under 4 minutes and his, almost 6. I get a dozen eggs every other week with my CSA box too so this was a delicious way to use some up!20160712_181106Not a great picture, but couldn’t resist a little gooey egg action 🙂 🙂 Spiralized Pasta with Peas & EggUsed the Garlic Scapes & Cucumbers:
Garlic scapes, those crazy weird delicious veggie. For those that may not know, a garlic scape is the stalk that grows from the bulbs of some varieties of garlic plants. If you were to let them grow, the scapes eventually bloom flowers when the garlic plant fully matures. However, they’re usually harvested before they flower so the garlic plant can channel all its energy into producing the actual garlic bulbs. Garlic scapes taste mild like chives or scallions, but with a distinct garlicky flavor. They’re typically available in late spring and early summer. There are so many things you can do with them but to preserve their unique shape and look I just sauteed them whole and topped these delicious bowls with them.

These bowls. ohhhh these bowls. The recipe makes enough to feed 4+ (depending on how much you serve) and since there’s only two of us, I enjoyed two delicious bowl lunches out of this too. I think it got progressively more delicious with each day.20160714_190756Quinoa Veggie Power Bowl with Garlic Scapes

Used the Collards:20160707_180343This was the first meal I made with the CSA veggies from this box. Holy Moly we started out strong. I can’t even pick a favorite part of this meal. The polenta (grits), the chicken, the collards, the toasted coconut…it was all so damn good.20160707_180125Coconut Lime Grits & Curried Chicken

Used the Eggplant:
Didn’t take a picture but we made this bruschetta and it was as good as I remembered the first time I made it.

WHEW! That’s it. Hope you enjoyed a sneak peek into our summer food life.

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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Black Bean & Pepper Polenta Bowl

Black Bean & Pepper Polenta Bowl

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gluten-free, vegan option // yields 4-5 servings

for the onions + peppers
1 tablespoon coconut oil or any kind of oil you want
1 large red onion, sliced
1 1/2 sweet bell peppers, sliced
sea salt

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat.
Add the onion and peppers and stir frequently until just softened. 5-7 minutes.
Generously sprinkle with salt, stir, then reduce heat to med-low for about 25-30 minutes until fully golden brown and caramelized. Stir every few minutes. Seriously I know you’ll be tempted to use them right away before they are fully caramelized but the time it takes to caramelize is totally worth it!! DO ITTTT.

for the black beans
2 tablespoons coconut oil or any kind of oil you want
1 3/4 cup cooked black beans, if using canned- rinsed + drained
1 small can diced mild green chiles
1/4 cup no/low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 tsp chipotle pepper powder
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
sea salt

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat.
Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds – 1 minute until fragrant and ever so lightly(seriously hardly at all or it will taste bitter)browned.
Stir in the black beans, green chiles, veggie broth, salsa, chipotle, and cumin.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer uncovered for 10 – 15 minutes until thickened and almost all of the liquid has cooked off, stirring occasionally.

for the polenta
1 cup dry polenta aka “corn grits”
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups low/no-sodium vegetable broth
3/4 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, * totally optional
few splashes of hot sauce (I used a little Franks and a little Siracha)
black pepper

**I used Bob’s Red Mill polenta grits, so be sure to check your package for exact instructions.**
Bring water + veggie broth to a boil.
Slowly stir in the polenta grits, reduce heat to simmer ( low)
Stir occasionally for 5 minutes.
Stir in the cheese [if using], hot sauce, and a few pinches of black pepper, then cover for 5 minutes before serving. If it thickens too much add a bit more water and heat over med-low until smoothed out and creamy.

The cheese is not necessary at all if you need this dairy-free or vegan. Honestly if I was making this just for me, I’d leave it out. I thought Jake would be more willing to try ‘scary’ polenta if it was cheesy 🙂

Once all the items are done, serve it up! I just put the beans and onion/pepper mix on top of the polenta and garnished with some cilantro and sliced avacado! It was verrrry good. Lots of flavors all coming together. Jake told me it tasted like a restaurant meal 🙂 awww love that man ❤

As always, thanks for stoping by my blog !

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