Nourish Your Body. Feed Your Soul. Shine Your Light.

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Let It Go: Voice Is Released, Not Pushed

Two years ago, I sat across the desk from a speech language specialist at the Johns Hopkins Voice Center at GBMC. I scheduled an appointment to see him because I had lost my voice yet again and couldn’t figure out why my voice became strained so easily and so frequently. This issue has been ongoing for years – since college – but it happened inconsistently, so I couldn’t pinpoint how to fix it. It kept coming back.

Since I speak for a living, not having my full voice and not knowing whether it would hold up and be strong enough to give a presentation concerned me. To add to that, I had been diagnosed about a decade ago with vocal nodules – hard, rough growths on my vocal cords that prevented me from using my full voice. I feared I was heading down that path once again.

I went through a series of exercises to assess my voice, my breathing, and my tone. At the end of the session, the speech pathologist commented that I have a tendency to push my voice out with my breath, which creates strain and taxes my voice.

Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places, and what he said next was likely insignificant to him but profound to me:

Voice is released, not pushed.

When we’re speaking and singing like babies do, we’re literally releasing air from inside our diaphragm over our vocal cords. That process creates sound. It’s effortless and easy, something we are born doing instinctively, not something we do consciously.

On the other hand, when we push too much breath pressure and force air through the voice box, we can blow out the vocal cords. Pushing our voice is unnatural. It taxes our vocal cords and causes us to experience strain and even loss of voice.

But I knew there was a deeper meaning to his words and that they extended beyond my voice.

Releasing vs. Pushing

For much of my life, I’ve pushed myself, especially academically and professionally. I had natural talents for certain things like writing and creative thinking, but I never rested on my laurels and always did more than was necessary to ensure I’d ace every assignment. Failure wasn’t an option for me. It wasn’t long before I equated working hard and putting in extra effort with being successful.

If something was easy, I assumed it was incomplete. I thought it had to be hard in order to be worthwhile. I was that kid that typed up my notes in the form of a study guide for every test, starting in middle school and running through college. I took perfectly good notes during class but had decided that not overdoing it would result in the unthinkable – something less than perfection. I’ve done the same in my professional life as well, ovedoing it and overdelivering for fear someone would deem my work (or, even worse, me) to be inadequate in some way.

I pushed myself. I wanted to be in control. I made sure I did everything in my power to guarantee success.

As I sat across from the speech pathologist, his words took on new meaning.

I was called to release what was inside of me, not push or force it out.

I’ve since reflected on some of the most meaningful and memorable moments in my life, particularly the ones that I didn’t orchestrate but simply invited in by being open.

During a semester abroad in Spain my junior year of college, my heart had been broken by a guy I liked. I so badly wanted to date him, but he had other plans. When the spring semester started, I noticed a cute guy who was a freshman but wrote him off for being too young. One year later, as I was graduating, I wrote in my journal, “I’ve started hanging out with this guy, Bill Druckenmiller. He’s kind of immature and will probably go home this summer and start dating Autumn.”

Bill and I have been together nearly 13 years and married for almost eight.

On the final day of the DISH award application for WELCOA’s Top Health Promotion Professionals in the U.S., I applied. I was one of over 200 applicants and did it on a whim, not thinking anything would come of it.

Five months later, I was named the #1 Health Promotion Professional in the U.S.

After giving an acceptance speech at their conference that spring, I wrote on the last page of my journal, “I will speak at WELCOA’s Summit next year.” I stored the journal in my nightstand and didn’t think twice about what I’d written down.

Until four months later, when I received a phone call from WELCOA, asking me to speak at their conference the following year.

In the months that followed, people started reaching out to me to do podcast interviews, and last year, some of my stories and words were quoted in three different books.

I’ve been invited on retreats with other thoughts leaders around the country, not because I asked to be but because I was in my lane, doing my thing authentically and passionately, and other people were drawn to me.

When I was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr Virus two years ago, I remember how hopeless I felt leaving the doctor’s office. Now what? How do I get better? I couldn’t force or will my body to recover. I had no answers and no direction.

Within two weeks, I received an email from my nutritionist that was sent out to her entire email list that read, “Still working on my PhD. My very final project is a literature review of Epstein-Barr Virus.”

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I immediately reached out to her, hopeful and confident that she could help me heal. She did, and she has since published a book called The EBV Solution that includes my story of recovery.

When we are living in alignment with our calling and are on our path, we don’t have to force opportunities to happen. They will find us and be released into our care, sometimes falling right into our laps.

We have to continue doing the work and keep showing up for what we’re called to do, believing that what is meant for us will not pass by us.

It’s so easy to become distracted by what other people are doing, to become jealous of their opportunities or good fortune. When that happens, we can also feel resentful and bitter and get sucked into a vortex of comparison and feelings of inadequacy.

Why do they get to do that? Why not me? When will I get my shot?

That way of thinking steals our joy and perpetuates a scarcity mindset, something that has been a struggle for me. When we focus on forcing and pushing things, we end up feeling overworked, overextended, exhausted and inauthentic. The focus on what others are doing keeps us from doing our work and making our contribution.

I still get caught in the comparison trap, which is why I feel the need to remind myself, once again, that “voice is released, not pushed.”

A life of peace and purpose is one in which we are released and freed to be ourselves, not forced to push our way through to get what we want. What you release comes from the depths of who you are and is uniquely, inherently, authentically you.

If you’re interested in learning more about my speaking and training topics, feel free to send me a message, check out my speaker reel, and connect with me on my blog.

If you liked this article, I invite you to read past articles I’ve written:

This article was originally published on my LinkedIn page here.

Tomato-Basil Pasta Salad {Gluten-Free}

Pasta was one of my absolute favorite foods growing up. I ate it multiple times a week, usually with butter and a hefty helping of Parmesan cheese.

Today’s recipe is an upgrade to my childhood pasta meals.

I served it for the first time yesterday during a workshop I taught at my church about Summer Food Upgrades. It was a big hit!

You could serve it for lunch or dinner or take with you to a picnic or cookout. It’s super simple to make and will definitely be a crowd-pleaser.

Tomatoe Basil Salad

I made it gluten-free by using brown rice pasta and dairy-free by using this paleo Parmesan cheeze.

I used cannellini beans to boost the fiber and protein, which help keep us feeling full, and added some diced tomatoes and fresh basil for a pop of color.

By making your own (simple!) dressing you’re also avoiding all of the extra gunk that tends to be in bottled salad dressings.

This dish is an all-around upgrade to the traditional pasta salad and tastes great, too!

pasta salad

Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 pound rotini brown rice pasta (we use Tinkyada)
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (we like the brand Eden)
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced like this
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 1 medium zucchini spiralized

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, and rinse under cold water; drain and put into a serving bowl. Add beans, tomatoes, and basil.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk garlic, sea salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and black pepper. Pour over pasta, and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Take out 15 minutes before serving to allow to come to room temperature or keep it cold. Your choice!
  3. Sprinkle with this paleo Parmesan cheeze. An optional step is to add some spiralized zucchini noodles for an extra veggie punch!

3 Chocolatey Valentine’s Day Sweet Treats

I will always remember my first Valentine’s Day with my then boyfriend, now husband, Bill. I’m super sentimental and have been known to pull the line, “You don’t have to spend a lot of money – just do something creative. I like homemade things.” Haha. This is an evil thing women do to men, but he always comes through for me, so it must be working!

Vday

That first Valentine’s Day, he took my words to heart and made me a card, complete with foam, puffy paint, and felt letters he cut out himself, along with a now scruffy-looking teddy bear and flowers. The card read, “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you are the world. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

I feel blessed to be married to a man who knows the importance of romance and making me feel loved on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.

Since we are likely to be snowed in on Valentine’s Day this year,  we decided to make the most of the time and whip up some yummy Valentine’s Day sweet treats!

If you like peanut butter, chocolate, walnuts and almonds, you will like at least one (if not all) of these recipes!

All the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and raw, so everyone can enjoy them! They come from one of my favorite bloggers, Angela Liddon, at oh she glows.

They’re listed in order of awesomeness. It should be no surprise that the chocolate peanut butter combo is the winner. It is AMAZING!

IMG_3306

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip – oh my chocolatey peanut buttery goodness. That is all I will say…you HAVE to make this stuff…As tempting as it will be to literally drink the whole bowl, try dipping strawberries, bananas, or apples in it!

IMG_3305

Seductive Raw Chocolate Walnut Fudge – Holy cow. This melt-in-your-mouth fudge is simple to make, loaded with chocolate/walnut/maple flavor and won’t stay around for long!

IMG_3312

Raw Almond Butter Cups – Almonds. Cinnamon. Chocolate. What’s not to love?

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

3 Chocolately Valentine’s Day Sweet Treats

I will always remember my first Valentine’s Day with my then boyfriend, now husband, Bill. I’m super sentimental and have been known to pull the line, “You don’t have to spend a lot of money – just do something creative. I like homemade things.” Haha. This is an evil thing women do to men, but he always comes through for me, so it must be working!

Vday

That first Valentine’s Day, he took my words to heart and made me a card, complete with foam, puffy paint, and felt letters he cut out himself, along with a now scruffy-looking teddy bear and flowers. The card read, “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you are the world. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

I feel blessed to be married to a man who knows the importance of romance and making me feel loved on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.

Since we are likely to be snowed in on Valentine’s Day this year,  we decided to make the most of the time and whip up some yummy Valentine’s Day sweet treats!

If you like peanut butter, chocolate, walnuts and almonds, you will like at least one (if not all) of these recipes!

All the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and raw, so everyone can enjoy them! They come from one of my favorite bloggers, Angela Liddon, at oh she glows.

They’re listed in order of awesomeness. It should be no surprise that the chocolate peanut butter combo is the winner. It is AMAZING!

IMG_3306

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip – oh my chocolatey peanut buttery goodness. That is all I will say…you HAVE to make this stuff…As tempting as it will be to literally drink the whole bowl, try dipping strawberries, bananas, or apples in it!

IMG_3305

Seductive Raw Chocolate Walnut Fudge – Holy cow. This melt-in-your-mouth fudge is simple to make, loaded with chocolate/walnut/maple flavor and won’t stay around for long!

IMG_3312

Raw Almond Butter Cups – Almonds. Cinnamon. Chocolate. What’s not to love?

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Why Broccoli Is Awesome…and The BEST Roasted Broccoli Recipe

When I was a kid, I put parmesan cheese on EVERYTHING.

One of the fun things I used to do at dinner was pretend it was “snowing” on the “trees” and coated my steamed broccoli with a generous helping of Kraft parmesan cheese. I wouldn’t eat broccoli without it!

Since then, I’ve discovered that cheese and other dairy products were the key triggers for my ear and upper respiratory infections as a child and young adult and can wreak havoc on the body…so no more snowy trees for me. The good news is that I’m feeling so much better now and have gotten rid of those issues completely. I’ll be writing more about my personal experience with the downsides of dairy in future posts (If you’re interested, start watching the video on the link at around minute 5:00).

Fortunately, I’ve learned how to enjoy broccoli without cheese. One of my favorite ways to prepare broccoli is roasting it. If you grew up eating overcooked, canned, or steamed-to-death vegetables, give them at least one more chance and roast them. You will be amazed by how delicious and flavorful they are!

IMG_3270

Broccoli is an incredibly healthy food and is also one of the GBOMBS. Here are just a few reasons why broccoli is awesome and we should eat more of it!

  • It’s anti-inflammatory and detoxifying. Inflammation and toxicity are the two main reasons we are so sick and holding on to extra weight, so we want to do as much as we can to reduce them!
  • It’s rich in fiber. Fiber keeps us full, so we eat less, and it keeps things moving in our digestive system.
  • It contains lutein, which helps to fight heart disease by preventing the thickening of arteries.
  • It’s rich in calcium. Calcium strengthens and promotes bone growth and health, which helps prevent osteoporosis.

Broccoli retains the most nutrients when eaten raw or lightly steamed or cooked, but most of us aren’t eating enough vegetables anyway, so it’s better to eat them roasted than not eat them at all, so roast away!

Now that we’ve established how great broccoli is, let’s talk about what to do with it.

This week in our Hometown Harvest bag, we got a hefty bunch of broccoli, and when I got home from a four-day business trip, I was ready to play in the kitchen and try a new recipe. 

This garlicky broccoli recipe is going to become a staple in our house. It’s SUPER simple and tasty. You are going to LOVE it.

It’s more fitting to call it what it really is…Crack Broccoli.

Seriously, it’s that good…you may have to stop yourself from eating the whole darn tray. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Garlicky Roasted (AKA Crack) Broccoli

IMG_3284

I made a few modifications to the original ingredient list and point them out below.

Ingredients

1 pound broccoli
1/4 cup olive oil (or coconut oil!)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (we substituted raw apple cider vinegar because we didn’t have rice vinegar)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
Red pepper flakes
Lemon wedges, to garnish

Here is the full recipe from one of my favorite recipe bloggers, The Kitchn! (and, nope, that’s not a spelling error 🙂 just a cool name for a website!)

Soup’s On! My Favorite Cookbook & A Soup You Have to Try {Vegan, GBOMBS}

I was eagerly anticipating a long weekend away to the southern coast of Portugal with several friends from my program in Spain…until something awful happened.

IMG_0281

I got food poisoning.

After all, who doesn’t want to deal with embarrassing GI issues in a foreign country hours away from home and everything familiar? I’ll be honest, it was a pretty miserable and uncomfortable week, and aside from the temporary weight loss, nothing good came of it.

I told my Spanish mom, Matilde, that all I wanted was crushed ice and “cookies without sugar” because I didn’t know how to say “Saltine crackers” in Spanish.

Well, I was told that ice is “dirty” so I shouldn’t eat it, and I didn’t get anywhere with my description of Saltines.

Bummer.

So, aside from some physical discomfort, embarrassment, and frustration, since I had to delay my trip to Portugal, what did my illness mean?

Several days of clear fish broth until I felt better.

Since I had never really eaten any soup other than Campbell’s less-than-impressive and rather sparse chicken noodle soup and didn’t like seafood, eating fish broth was a real treat.

Fortunately, over the next few months, Matilde redeemed the fish broth by introducing me to a variety of other soups and stews that were brimming with vegetables and bursting with deep flavors.  They were filling, warming, and comforting.

We love soups and chilis now and prepare them almost weekly this time of year.

IMG_3230

Here are a few reasons why we are souper excited about soup!

  • They’re cheap. Beans, vegetables, broth, greens, and grains are the base ingredients in most soups. They can be purchased in bulk and are really inexpensive.
  • They last for days, which saves time and money. Cook once, eat three (or more!) times. I love finding ways to save time in the kitchen, especially during the workweek. By taking some time to prepare a soup one day, we save ourselves time (and money!) preparing lunch and several dinners during the rest of the week. Now that football season is over, try to commit to making a soup on Sunday afternoon, and don’t worry about prepping dinner until Tuesday at the earliest!
  • They’re low maintenance and easy to prepare. The great thing about soup is that you can “set it and forget it” by putting it in a crock pot or just leaving it on a low simmer on the stove. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors build. Mmmm…
  • They’re healthy comfort food. Comfort food makes us happy because it is reminds us of home, family or friends and often has a very traditional and simple preparation. Soups are warming, soothing, rich and often reflective of our heritage, too, and there is something really satisfying about that.
  • They’re a great way to get in the healthiest foods on the planet, including leafy greens, beans, and onions! Check out this recipe for an amazing Tuscan Bean Soup we made the other day. We incorporated our Tuscan (AKA dino) kale from Hometown Harvest along with other GBOMBS foods like beans and onions. The addition of red wine added a sweetness and richness that I can still taste!IMG_3235

As a gift to celebrate my completion of graduate school, my mother-in-law gave me what is now one of my absolute favorite cookbooks. Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source is written by Terry Walters, a fellow IIN graduate.

From the Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette (you will never want store-bought salad dressing again!), Three Bean Chili, and Roasted Kabocha Squash and Creminis to the Ginger and Pear Crisp and Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies, we have enjoyed over a dozen of the wholesome, nourishing recipes from Terry’s Clean Food cookbook.

Clean Food

Also, for anyone who has food sensitivities or allergies, this cookbook will give you tons of new inspirations and alternatives, and you will not feel deprived or slighted in the least!

The Tuscan Bean Soup was the most recent recipe we prepared from Clean Food and is one we will definitely be making again.

You can check out other delicious soups posted on my Pinterest boards!

Do you have a favorite healthy soup recipe? Feel free to share below! 

Soup’s On! My Favorite Cookbook & A Soup You Have to Try {Vegan, GBOMBS}

I was eagerly anticipating a long weekend away to the southern coast of Portugal with several friends from my program in Spain…until something awful happened.

IMG_0281

I got food poisoning.

After all, who doesn’t want to deal with embarrassing GI issues in a foreign country hours away from home and everything familiar? I’ll be honest, it was a pretty miserable and uncomfortable week, and aside from the temporary weight loss, nothing good came of it.

I told my Spanish mom, Matilde, that all I wanted was crushed ice and “cookies without sugar” because I didn’t know how to say “Saltine crackers” in Spanish.

Well, I was told that ice is “dirty” so I shouldn’t eat it, and I didn’t get anywhere with my description of Saltines.

Bummer.

So, aside from some physical discomfort, embarrassment, and frustration, since I had to delay my trip to Portugal, what did my illness mean?

Several days of clear fish broth until I felt better.

Since I had never really eaten any soup other than Campbell’s less-than-impressive and rather sparse chicken noodle soup and didn’t like seafood, eating fish broth was a real treat.

Fortunately, over the next few months, Matilde redeemed the fish broth by introducing me to a variety of other soups and stews that were brimming with vegetables and bursting with deep flavors.  They were filling, warming, and comforting.

We love soups and chilis now and prepare them almost weekly this time of year.

IMG_3230

Here are a few reasons why we are souper excited about soup!

  • They’re cheap. Beans, vegetables, broth, greens, and grains are the base ingredients in most soups. They can be purchased in bulk and are really inexpensive.
  • They last for days, which saves time and money. Cook once, eat three (or more!) times. I love finding ways to save time in the kitchen, especially during the workweek. By taking some time to prepare a soup one day, we save ourselves time (and money!) preparing lunch and several dinners during the rest of the week. Now that football season is over, try to commit to making a soup on Sunday afternoon, and don’t worry about prepping dinner until Tuesday at the earliest!
  • They’re low maintenance and easy to prepare. The great thing about soup is that you can “set it and forget it” by putting it in a crock pot or just leaving it on a low simmer on the stove. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors build. Mmmm…
  • They’re healthy comfort food. Comfort food makes us happy because it is reminds us of home, family or friends and often has a very traditional and simple preparation. Soups are warming, soothing, rich and often reflective of our heritage, too, and there is something really satisfying about that.
  • They’re a great way to get in the healthiest foods on the planet, including leafy greens, beans, and onions! Check out this recipe for an amazing Tuscan Bean Soup we made the other day. We incorporated our Tuscan (AKA dino) kale from Hometown Harvest along with other GBOMBS foods like beans and onions. The addition of red wine added a sweetness and richness that I can still taste!IMG_3235

As a gift to celebrate my completion of graduate school, my mother-in-law gave me what is now one of my absolute favorite cookbooks. Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source is written by Terry Walters, a fellow IIN graduate.

From the Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette (you will never want store-bought salad dressing again!), Three Bean Chili, and Roasted Kabocha Squash and Creminis to the Ginger and Pear Crisp and Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies, we have enjoyed over a dozen of the wholesome, nourishing recipes from Terry’s Clean Food cookbook.

Clean Food

Also, for anyone who has food sensitivities or allergies, this cookbook will give you tons of new inspirations and alternatives, and you will not feel deprived or slighted in the least!

The Tuscan Bean Soup was the most recent recipe we prepared from Clean Food and is one we will definitely be making again.

You can check out other delicious soups posted on my Pinterest boards!

Do you have a favorite healthy soup recipe? Feel free to share below! 

Healthy Living Made Easy…It's In the Bag! (& a GBOMBS Recipe!)

I love grocery stores. 

When I was a kid, grocery shopping meant spending Saturday morning with my mom and getting free food samples along with an ooey gooey slice of Mama Ilardo’s cheese pizza at Metro Supermarket.

Sometimes, we would venture to Belvedere Market where we would take in the aroma of fresh ground coffee beans and the sweet smell of local fruits and vegetables.

When we bought our house in August, the fact that MOMs and (if we’re feeling ambitious) Trader Joe’s were within walking distance was a big selling point.

As much as we like grocery shopping, there are times when we want to change things up. And even though we love to cook and try new recipes, our meals can get stagnant sometimes and we may need a little nudge to try something different.

A few months ago, my hubby and I found out a super cool service that we just started using to keep our weekly menus exciting. We still go to the grocery store for add-on items, some pantry staples, and sometimes just to explore, but the bulk of what we make during the week is inspired by our weekly delivery from Hometown Harvest.

love finding things that make being healthy easier, more convenient and affordable.

IMG_3240

We like Hometown Harvest because their produce comes almost exclusively from the local area during the growing season, and they use out-of-area organic family farms in the winter. We know the food is local, sustainable, and safe.

Each week, they deliver a customized bag of fruits, veggies and other local agriculture items, like farm fresh, pasture-raised eggs, right to our doorstep. We select our bag contents earlier in the week, leave out a cooler on our porch, and when we wake up on Friday morning, it’s like Christmas and our cooler is magically filled!

What was in last week’s bag? Fuji apples, broccolini, dino kale (AKA Tuscan kale), Roma tomatoes, red skin potatoes, avocados, limes, green beans, carrots, cremini mushrooms, red onions and pasture-raised eggs.

HometownHarvest-Logo-Final (1)The cost for all of this (including delivery)? About $45, certainly no more than we would have paid for the same items in the grocery store, especially considering the quality, freshness, and taste.

Hometown Harvest recently added lots of other items we plan to try in the future, including meats and fish, dips and salsas, nuts and seeds, grains and pastas, pantry items, and coffee, all from local vendors. You can see all of the options on this page.

Here is a map of their service area.  If where you live isn’t covered yet, you can contact them through the link on that page and ask them about delivering to your area OR check out the Local Harvest website to find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) (great way to save on fresh produce!), farmer’s market, or other provider of local agriculture near you.

Once we have all of our ingredients and know what’s “in our basket,” we get to pretend like we’re on the show Chopped and be creative and have fun with our food!

Last weekend we tried out this recipe for a Ginger Greens & Mushroom Stir Fry, so we could use several of the items in our bag, which also happen to be GBOMBS (broccolini, onions, and cremini mushrooms). We made a few modifications:IMG_3252

  • We cooked in coconut oil instead of olive oil (coconut oil is more heat stable, so it doesn’t turn rancid when heated like olive oil does).
  • Didn’t have bok choy so we left it out, but if you have it, definitely use it!
  • Served it on top of a bed of quinoa.
  • Added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to finish it off.

It was a delicious and flavorful meal and full of some of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet.

Have you ever used a service like this or participated in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?

I’d love to hear from you!

Healthy Living Made Easy…It’s In the Bag! (& a GBOMBS Recipe!)

I love grocery stores. 

When I was a kid, grocery shopping meant spending Saturday morning with my mom and getting free food samples along with an ooey gooey slice of Mama Ilardo’s cheese pizza at Metro Supermarket.

Sometimes, we would venture to Belvedere Market where we would take in the aroma of fresh ground coffee beans and the sweet smell of local fruits and vegetables.

When we bought our house in August, the fact that MOMs and (if we’re feeling ambitious) Trader Joe’s were within walking distance was a big selling point.

As much as we like grocery shopping, there are times when we want to change things up. And even though we love to cook and try new recipes, our meals can get stagnant sometimes and we may need a little nudge to try something different.

A few months ago, my hubby and I found out a super cool service that we just started using to keep our weekly menus exciting. We still go to the grocery store for add-on items, some pantry staples, and sometimes just to explore, but the bulk of what we make during the week is inspired by our weekly delivery from Hometown Harvest.

love finding things that make being healthy easier, more convenient and affordable.

IMG_3240

We like Hometown Harvest because their produce comes almost exclusively from the local area during the growing season, and they use out-of-area organic family farms in the winter. We know the food is local, sustainable, and safe.

Each week, they deliver a customized bag of fruits, veggies and other local agriculture items, like farm fresh, pasture-raised eggs, right to our doorstep. We select our bag contents earlier in the week, leave out a cooler on our porch, and when we wake up on Friday morning, it’s like Christmas and our cooler is magically filled!

What was in last week’s bag? Fuji apples, broccolini, dino kale (AKA Tuscan kale), Roma tomatoes, red skin potatoes, avocados, limes, green beans, carrots, cremini mushrooms, red onions and pasture-raised eggs.

HometownHarvest-Logo-Final (1)The cost for all of this (including delivery)? About $45, certainly no more than we would have paid for the same items in the grocery store, especially considering the quality, freshness, and taste.

Hometown Harvest recently added lots of other items we plan to try in the future, including meats and fish, dips and salsas, nuts and seeds, grains and pastas, pantry items, and coffee, all from local vendors. You can see all of the options on this page.

Here is a map of their service area.  If where you live isn’t covered yet, you can contact them through the link on that page and ask them about delivering to your area OR check out the Local Harvest website to find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) (great way to save on fresh produce!), farmer’s market, or other provider of local agriculture near you.

Once we have all of our ingredients and know what’s “in our basket,” we get to pretend like we’re on the show Chopped and be creative and have fun with our food!

Last weekend we tried out this recipe for a Ginger Greens & Mushroom Stir Fry, so we could use several of the items in our bag, which also happen to be GBOMBS (broccolini, onions, and cremini mushrooms). We made a few modifications:IMG_3252

  • We cooked in coconut oil instead of olive oil (coconut oil is more heat stable, so it doesn’t turn rancid when heated like olive oil does).
  • Didn’t have bok choy so we left it out, but if you have it, definitely use it!
  • Served it on top of a bed of quinoa.
  • Added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to finish it off.

It was a delicious and flavorful meal and full of some of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet.

Have you ever used a service like this or participated in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?

I’d love to hear from you!

10 Super Bowl Snack Attack Recipes

If the rumors are true, this year’s Super Bowl commercials will beat out last year’s (which shouldn’t be too hard), but it’ll be tough to beat the excitement of last year’s game!

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As one of the biggest food days of the year approaches, many of us are putting together our Super Bowl menus and deciding what our contribution will be to the ultimate game day potluck.

Why not try something new this year? Something delicious…and nourishing.

Check out these healthy, party-friendly recipes, and let me know if you try any out for yourself. Enjoy!

  1. Best Guacamole Ever (& a Video!) by Cooking Stoned
  2. Super Easy Kale Chips (Basic, Italian & Japanese versions!) by Elizabeth Rider
  3. Chipotle Roasted Chickpeas by Half Baked Harvest
  4. Better Than Store-bought Hummus by Inspired Taste
  5. Paleo Bang Bang Shrimp by Paleo Fondue
  6. Homemade Salsa by Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
  7. Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries by Nom Nom Paleo
  8. 4-Bean Chili by Crackers on the Couch
  9. Spicy Black Bean Hummus by FitSugar
  10. TexMex Dip by Gracious Pantry

Do you have any favorite healthy game day recipes to share?

Feel free to let everyone know in the comment section below!

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