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Green Chef is BACK (A giveaway)!

That’s right, I took a little break from ordering weekly boxes of Green Chef, but it’s baaaaack and I want to share it with you! But, details on that in a bit.

You see, when I moved to Texas almost two years ago, I ventured to the oh-so-popular H.E.B. But what I found is a lot of people who don’t have a grocery list, so they are left wandering aimlessly through the aisles and even forming LINES at the milk fridge.

My anxiety just couldn’t handle it, so I signed up for a meal delivery kit: Green Chef. I picked this one in particular because it’s the only one that’s truly organic, and I’m not a fan of eating pesticides. Since then, I pretty much ate my Green Chef meals until I felt ready, and even a little excited, to get out to the grocery again.

If you’re not familiar, many meal delivery kits such as Green Chef, send fresh ingredients right to your doorstep. My Green Chef plan sends enough of the good stuff to make at least six meals (two meals per included recipe) – but often, it’s enough food for extra meals, depending on how hungry you are.

Originally, I chose the “Carnivore” plan, which included all sorts of different meat and fish. However, I recently switched (you can switch at any time) to the vegetarian plan, as I have moved to a more plant-based diet.

I skip the meals that include tofu or tempeh (I’m just not a fan), but have had some delicious meals along the way. And this is why I’m so excited to share a free week of organic meals with FOUR of you!

There really is no fee, and no obligation to continue the service, just accept your free box, and then cancel the service if you don’t want to continue. If you decide to keep the service, remember, you can skip weeks at no charge – I skip all the time, and it’s really no problem.

So, if you want to win a free box of organic food, simply follow me on Instagram @OrangeJulius7 and fill out the quick form below. If you win, you’ll receive an email with your Green Chef code.

Easy enough, right?

If you have any questions about the service in general, feel free to comment on the blog – I’ve used it long enough I should be able to handle it 🙂 Happy contesting!

Yep, I just geeked out over groceries.

Introducing Whole Foods’ 365 stores.

Friday after work, I decided to venture slightly north to an area of Texas I’ve come to know well – Cedar Park, near where the Texas Stars hockey team plays. I’d recently learned about a new store opening there, a 365 by Whole Foods Market.

So, I took the 20 minute drive and ended up in a new, really nice shopping center, complete with the freshly minted market. Supposedly, the 365 versions of Whole Foods are a test for the company, and the one in Cedar Park is one of five in the country. These stores are smaller, and house more of the 365 brand products, and are supposedly more affordable than the Whole Foods megastores we’re used to.

I went to the store with a list of things I needed for the week, but also kept the mindset that if they didn’t have what I needed, I’d just get what looked good and hit up my usual H.E.B. later. As I was walking up to the store, I noticed nearly all of the picnic tables outside were filled with people having dinner and drinking fresh juice.

Once I got inside, I could see why: the store had two counters to order food, pizza sold by the slice, ready-made sushi, a coffee counter, and a Juice Land. Major score for those living nearby, and especially for those working inside the shopping center.

At first, I was thinking the place looked a little small (like a Trader Joe’s) and there was no way they were going to have the things I needed. But, I grabbed the produce I needed and then thoroughly checked out the bulk aisle, where I got a big bag of trail mix for $6.

Next up was meats and frozen goods, where they had a bin of Mochi – a Japanese treat made from rice flour. I had never seen it before – it looks like a bath bomb – but I Googled it immediately. Hmm, ok, cool, they’ve got new things here, I thought.

As I left the olive bar, I discovered there was an entire other side to the store that had aisles, along with a section for fresh-baked goods. I went down every aisle, checking things off my list one-by-one. I even picked up a few unique bottles of wine, and got some decently healthy crackers for the salmon salad I planned on making.

But, the geeking out didn’t truly happen until I rounded the corner for the ready-made aisles. There was the sushi (a favorite of mine – I love the rolls with brown rice), and also ready-made meals from Snap Kitchen.

And then, there, under the light from the heavens was the section for cold coffees and energy drinks. For the first time ever, I saw it: Blue Bottle Coffee – right in front of my face.

“Oh my God,” I whispered under my breath. “It’s here!”

There’s only three Blue Bottle locations in the US – two are in California and one is in the Northeast. I discovered it via Instagram and have only drooled over the thought of the stuff given its hefty price tag and that I’d have to have it shipped. But there, on the shelf, was their NOLA iced coffee packaged in small milk cartons, right beside little cans of their cold brew.

It took every ounce of my insides not to do two things: 1. squeal with delight, and 2. put my arm on the shelf and slide it across it in a manner that would place all 40 cartons and cans into my cart.

It was then I realized my life has really turned a corner: There I was, 7pm on a Friday, Cinco de Mayo, and I was talking to myself over gourmet cold brew. Sing it with me, “I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ thirty twoooo-o-o-o-o!”

Amirite?

My geeking out didn’t stop there, because I soon discovered bottles of Picnik’s paleo butter coffee, along with a wide collection of Evolution’s pressed juices.

Needless to say, my fridge is really happy right now… even opening it makes me smile. As I write this, I’ve been eating olives from the olive bar, cheese, sesame crackers, salami, and sipping some sangiovase rose. It’s fantastic.

So there. I don’t know how often I’ll make the trek (and fork over the money) to hit up the 365 Market, but it sure was fun while it lasted… and now I have the joy of eating all this delish, healthy stuff!

This week’s menu…

I set several goals for 2017, and none of them included anything about being healthier or skinnier, or more fit this year. But I’m definitely trying to clean up my act after completely letting go during the holidays. I don’t eat out much (unless it’s going to be really, really worth it). I truly believe you can make delicious meals at home, and I love taking meals that might be a cheat and adding healthy twists to them.

Last week, I mentioned two things: 1. I’ve resurrected my Pinterest page, and 2. I have a long list of recipes from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, “Cravings” that I want to make.

Since then, I’ve kind of gone nuts on Pinterest – I check it daily, and have been pinning all sorts of ideas, from blog stuff to crafts, and of course, recipes.

Now, don’t get be wrong, I don’t pin the ridiculous stuff. I am realistic about the fact that I’m not hosting a dinner party any time soon, or getting married or having a baby. I don’t like to save stuff that requires unnecessary effort.

For example, when Pinterest first came out, I had a friend who pinned all sorts of crazy recipes even though she didn’t really enjoy cooking. One of these recipes was for “Lasagna Cups” – I think you boiled the lasagna noodles before putting them into muffin tins and filling them with traditional lasagna goods. “Or you could just make lasagna,” I thought.

On the one hand, if it gets you in the kitchen and excited to eat homemade things, then sure, make the lasagna cups. It’s just not for me.

One of the recipes I saved was for “Brown Rice Veggie Sushi” from the Minimalist Baker. I’ve heard good things about the Minimalist Baker – all of her recipes are 10 ingredients or less – from people I follow on Instagram. I decided that was going to be my healthy recipe for the week – I like to have at least one thing for dinner, and one thing for lunch (a perk of being single is that one recipe is usually enough for 4-6 servings).

I chose Chrissy Teigen’s “Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe” from her cookbook, as she said it was the most popular recipe, and it looked super easy to make, not to mention affordable.

So, off to the grocery I went! I have never really purchased Asian ingredients, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the ingredients I needed were available and inexpensive. The recipe calls for brown rice, rice vinegar, and nori (seaweed sheets), and basically any veggies for the filling. I got roasted red bell peppers (which have a very similar texture to raw salmon), avocado, carrots, and cucumber.

To make it, I followed her instructions exactly, only I doubled the recipe because I wanted to have plenty of leftovers to eat during the week. I didn’t have a sushi mat, but I found an inexpensive sushi-making kit on Amazon for next time. My sushi came out super yummy, and delicious! I have a few other sushi recipes that involve shrimp, and now I know I can actually roll it, so I’ll definitely be adding this into my recipe rotation.

For Chrissy’s spaghetti recipe, I tried to make it a little healthier by buying organic whole wheat pasta, and also folding in extra arugula. But yes, I know this recipe is a little bit of a treat – I need carbs for my six dance classes this week, right?!

 Other than that, I followed the recipe as listed in the book and it turned out pretty fantastic! It was spicy, cheesy, and the arugula was crunchy and spicy, too, yummy! Plus, it was very easy to make, and I have lots leftover.

What kinds of things are you cooking up this week? I’m sure you’ll be seeing lots of my homemade meals this year (not promising they’ll all be healthy) and I’d love to hear what’s on your menu!

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The skinny: What I’m eating.

Real Simple

Deep-dish pizza with turkey sausage and brussels sprouts.

Last week, I announced that I’m getting back on track with my life. I’m getting sleep (when possible), exercising six times a week via dance classes (and shopping, of course), and I’m eating right. So, this weekend, I pretty much took everything Trader Joe’s had and spent a lot of time in my kitchen prepping meals for the week.

If you’re anything like me, each new week presents a challenge of what to eat. Why? Because if I’m going to keep eating healthy (which I’m planning on it), then it’s got to be exciting – no eating chicken and veggies for every meal, because I’ve definitely done that, and although I looked great, I hated it.

So, I’ve found that eating something for lunch and then something different for dinner helps keep things fresh. I usually pick something easy to pack for my lunches, and then something perhaps a little more complicated for dinner, since I usually eat at home during the week. Here’s what I’m eating this week:

Breakfast: Pumpkin Waffles

No, I’m definitely not up making these suckers from scratch – I bought frozen pumpkin waffles from Trader Joe’s (they have pumpkin EVERYTHING out now). Pop two in the toaster, slice up a banana, drizzle with a little raw honey, and bam, breakfast is served!

Lunch: Salmon & Apple Salad Wrap

Salmon and apple salad wrap.

Salmon and apple salad wrap.

If you’re looking for easy, yummy, healthy recipes, sign up to get the email newsletter from Self magazine. I have found so many awesome recipes there, and this is my latest try.

INGREDIENTS

1 can (5 oz) skinless, boneless wild salmon

1/4 cup chopped apple

1/4 cup chopped celery

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

Black pepper

1/2 cup chopped lettuce

1 8-inch whole-wheat wrap

1/2 cup broccoli

3 tablespoons hummus

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, mix salmon, apple, celery and red onion. In another bowl, combine vinegar, olive oil and honey; season with pepper; toss with salmon salad. Spread salad on whole-wheat wrap; top with chopped lettuce; roll up. Serve with broccoli dipped in hummus.

Please note that the recipe above is only for one wrap. To make a week’s worth, which I did, I completely eyeballed the ingredient-measurements and just tasted along the way. And yes, I even got hummus and veggies to eat with it! Yum!

Dinner: Deep-Dish Pizza with Turkey Sausage & Brussels Sprouts 

You might be thinking – okay, this isn’t really that “healthy”, but truthfully, it’s not so bad. I got this recipe from an old issue of “Real Simple”, and catered it to what I could find. I used whole wheat pizza dough and chicken sausge (because I already had some in my freezer), so it’s really a pretty wholesome meal. Plus, I love brussels sprouts!

INGREDIENTS:

  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ pounds store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup prepared pesto
  • 1½ cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
  • ½ pound uncooked turkey sausage, crumbled
  • ½ pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 425° F with a rack in the lowest position. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the oil.
  2. Press the dough into the pan, covering the bottom and sides. Top the dough with the pesto, cheese, sausage, and Brussels sprouts. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
  3. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the sausage is cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the pizza rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Snacks & Extras

I’ve been going to dance after work for two hours at least three times each week. So, I definitely need a good snack in the late afternoon to keep me moving until 8pm when I can get home to that pizza. This week, I stocked my kitchen with the following:

  • Apple sauce with cinnamon
  • Celery (leftover from the salmon salad) and peanut butter
  • Organic nut & dried fruit mixes

Usually a combination of two of these, plus a cold can of La Croix, and I’m good to go.

Yaaaassss!!

Yaaaassss!!

I also did some baking over the weekend, as one of my coworkers found a new job. I wanted to get her a little goodbye gift, so I bought her a coffee mug and baked some decadent cookies to pack inside of it. And yes, I saved a few back for myself – remember to treat yourself! Plus, these things looked so good, I couldn’t resist. I made Double Chocolate Chip and Caramel cookies using a recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking:

INGREDIENTS

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 ½ cup dark chocolate chocolate chips

½ cup caramel bites

1/2 cup Oven Roasted Sea Salt Blue Diamond Almonds, chopped

Maldon salt for dusting

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs for about 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips, caramel bites and chopped almonds. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment lined baking sheets and dust with Maldon salt.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are puffed. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  4. Enjoy immediately, or store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.

What are you cooking up this week?

Hopping back into it!

Hello healthy life!

Hello healthy life!

Whew! It has been MONTHS full of stress, budgeting, cutting corners, adulting, working on the weekends, and all sorts of other non-fun things, and I’m happy to say that it’s finally, pretty much over. CELEBRATE!

I paid off my taxes, got my driver’s license and Texas plates, and even took Blanche to the vet for a checkup, and then I went on a much-needed beach vacation where I ate fried foods and drank lots of beer. It was incredible, and although I’m not thrilled to be back at work, I am happy to be back to a life I like: one with a friendlier budget.

My tight budget unfortunately involved eating more processed foods, and in return, I wasn’t feeling great. So, I’m happy to say that I’m back to organic, fresh foods, and it’s happening at the perfect time! The dance studio where I regularly go is having it’s showcase in six weeks, where I will be perforning a stiletto routine.

And so – this six weeks I’m hitting the dance studio hard, and I’m also eating as healthy as possible in order to hit the stage in November feeling confident and well.

Truthfully, I enjoy eating healthy. I think healthy foods are delicious, and I’m often too cheap to eat out. Plus, I enjoy cooking. My true weakness? The snacks at work. There are always chips, cookies, muffins, and other indulgences in the office that I don’t keep at home.

To combat this, I stocked my pantry with healthy snacks I enjoy such as almonds, individual packs of dried fruit and nuts, and organic popcorn. I’m making it a priority to pack these types of things in my lunch box so I can crunch on them instead of greasy chips or sweets. I know it’s still going to be a challenge, but once I get started, I think I’ll be okay.

I was also worried about the fact that I JUST discovered a vietnamese restaurant across the street from my apartment – it’s delicious and inexpensive. However, I looked up the nutritional value for my normal order: a vermicelli noodle bowl with grilled shrimp, and a side of egg rolls.

According to My Fitness Pal, as long as I swap the side of egg rolls for spring rolls (which aren’t fried), I’ll actually be eating something pretty healthy. If you’re not aware, one of these bowls is simply rice noodles with raw veggies and a choice of meat. There’s a small side cup of oil, but I mainly just use sriracha as a “dressing”. If you can get your chopsticks on one of these things, you will thank me. I swear.

The other side of this, is alcohol. I pretty much stopped drinking during my budget crisis for two reasons: 1. I couldn’t afford it, and 2. it was doing nothing for my depression. I’m not going to sit here and say I won’t enjoy a glass of wine on a Saturday night, but I won’t be doing any drinking during the week, or excessively at all. I’m in it to win it, folks – a rejuvenation of the mind, body, and soul.

Of course, I’ll be documenting my journey along the way, and if you’ve got any tips for me, I’d love to hear them!

Fran Drescher has a point…

Fran Drescher is working to kill Cancer.

Fran Drescher is working to kill Cancer.

About a month ago, I was listening to my usual on the way to work, “Wake Up With Taylor” on XM Stars. The guest was Fran Drescher, most known for her starring role on “The Nanny”, but since then, she’s been doing a lot of work to help others in early detection of cancer, and even how to prevent it in the first place.

In the late 90s, Drescher was misdiagnosed many times – doctors were saying she had menopausal issues, but instead she had uterine cancer, for which she was diagnosed in 2000. She had to have an immediate hysterectomy to treat it.

She wrote a book, “Cancer Schmancer” about her experience and included information meant to inform and empower women about the early detection warning signs of cancer – when there’s a better chance of getting rid of it.

In 2007, she launched the Cancer Schmancer Movement, a non-profit organization dedicated to informing and empowering women on health issues so they can detect cancer in stage 1. She also offers a lot of information on how to prevent cancer, and she talked a lot about things we can do today, when she was on the radio show.

Some of the prevention tips she offers, include healthy eating: eating organic and non-GMO foods as often as possible in order to provide our bodies with natural nutrition and maintain a healthy weight; exercising regularly; using non-toxic products in our homes, from cleaning supplies to toothpaste, stick to the natural stuff; and using skin care and beauty products that are also natural and non-cancer causing. The skin is our biggest organ and we’ve got to take care of it!

The fact is, these are all of the reasons I became a Melaleuca member, it’s just that Fran Drescher explains it way better than I can.

Did you know that the things we expose ourselves to everyday can cause cancer, and other health problems, such as asthma or Alzheimer’s? Chemicals in household cleaners, skin care products, food and drinks, beauty products, and even laundry detergents can negatively affect our health.

Enter: Melaleuca, a company that’s been dedicated to health in many ways for more than 30 years. Melaleuca sells products that are not only safe for us to use and non-cancer causing, but their products are also designed to be safe for our planet, pets, and to help us all maintain a healthy life.

Almost two years ago, I went to a party where Melaleuca was presented. The membership was only $1 for the first year ($12 for years following) and you had to spend at least 35 points a month on products – about $50 each month.

I signed up and my mom and I have been splitting the membership ever since. Initially, I signed up to get the all-natural cleaning products, because of my cat. I lost a cat to cancer four years ago, whether it was because of the difficult-to-avoid GMOs in his cat food, or the harsh chemicals I used around the house, I’ll never know. But I wanted to make a change.

So, I started one-by-one, replacing my household cleaners. I’ll say that not only are Melaleuca’s cleaners great – they really do work better than the popular brands – but they are the same price, if not less. They sell their cleaners in concentrated bottles, so one bottle = 3-4 large bottles of cleaner.

And there’s every cleaner imaginable: all-purpose Solumel (I use this multiple times per day), glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, daily shower spray, dish detergent in liquid or in packs, tub and tile cleaner, among many others.

As my membership has continued, I have tried several of the Melaleuca products, including vitamins, sleep aids, pain killers, muscle relief, allergy medicine, lipstick, pressed powder, wax melts, snacks, protein powder and protein bars, energy shots, complete oral care including toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, gum and mints; face wash, toner, shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream, deodorant, lotions, sunscreen, lip gloss, bug spray, essential oils, coffee, laundry detergent and dryer sheets, among others – and there’s a ton of things I haven’t tried!

My mom and I have also gotten free stuff from Melaleuca – you earn cash by ordering your items early in the month, or buying more than your 50 points, or by simply just watching YouTube videos to learn more about the company – we’ve earned more than $100 of free stuff, which can be spent on anything we want!

I’m only writing about this because I’ve realized how much Melaleuca has become a part of my daily life; my every day routines. I know there are lots of people out there that either don’t know about all of the harmful things we’re exposing ourselves to daily, or they’re choosing to ignore it. Melaleuca has made it easy for me to live healthy, even on a budget, which is really important to me – I want everyone to have that chance.

If you’d like more information about becoming a Melaleuca member, I’d love to share it with you! Send me an email at Holly@thebitterlemon.com, or fill out the form below, OR take a look at the site itself. See y’all tomorrow!

Single Girl Recipe: (Paleo) Lemon chia seed muffins.

Mine didn't quite look this cute...

Mine didn’t quite look this cute…

Over the weekend, I was in search of simple – and cheap, if not free – joys. I’m sure I’ll talk more about this at some point, but I’m currently in a personal budgeting crisis. At the same time I lost two of my good freelance gigs, I owe a massive tax bill,  like now.

Money stresses  me out more than anything, and every extra penny I’ve got must go to paying off this bill. So, I needed to have a weekend full of free stuff (I see a lot of weekends like these in my near future).

On Friday night,  I hit up the laundromat, which didn’t cost me anything since I had money loaded up on my Washatopia card. Score! I did go to the grocery store afterward, as I needed eggs and something to drink at the pool on Saturday. I found this organic cucumber-lime and chile Italian soda that I figured would go perfect with some tequila I had in my freezer. I escaped the store in $7.

On Saturday, I spent a little time looking for freelance work, and then I hit the pool. I packed a small cooler with some snacks – chips, hummus, cheese, and grapes – and enough tequila and Italian soda for three large drinks.

For two hours, I was the only one there. I sat, and I read – finishing one book and starting another. I stayed out there for almost five hours. Cost: $0 and I even improved my tan.

I came home and tended to my plants, replanting some grass for Blanche, watering all the other plants, and sweeping the patio. I also made dinner instead of going out – I made brats and fries – and had a few beers that were already stashed away in my fridge. I watched a few episodes of “Dexter” before I was sufficiently freaked out (I only have a few more episodes before I’ve watched the entire series twice) and had to switch to “The Vanilla Ice Project”.

On Sunday, I slept in, enjoyed some coffee, searched for more writing jobs, and then I went to a library that’s pretty close to my house. I’d been there once before to tutor someone, and it’s really nice. I decided to get a library card and spend a few hours hunting for more good reads for Blanche’s Book Club.

The library is really nice, but I will say they checked my address twice to make sure I actually lived within the district. I had no clue libraries were so exclusive. After about an hour of searching, I got “The Friday Night Knitting Club” by Kate Jacobs and “The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating” by Carole Radziwill.

I spent the remainder of Sunday reading, looking for writing gigs, cooking, and I baked these paleo lemon chia seed muffins to eat for breakfast during the week. I found the recipe on The Iron You, and I’ll say that even though he calls them Coconut Lemon Chia Seed muffins, there is no coconut flavor in them.

They were pretty easy to make, and for paleo muffins, they turned out delicious – better than anything I tried to bake when I was actually on the paleo diet. The only other thing I’ll say is that my batch didn’t rise that much, so they look like “half muffins”. I will probably make another batch, and I think I’ll use the mini muffin tin to make them look more muffin-y.

The good news? One muffin is 92 calories, with only 3g carbs and 3g of protein! Yes!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup of coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • Zest of two lemons
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of milk of your choice (I used coconut)
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine coconut flour, chia seeds, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, milk, honey, coconut oil, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix very well until fully incorporated, the mixture has thickened, and there are no clumps of coconut flour left. Pour the batter into the lined muffin tins, 3/4 the way to the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Carefully remove from muffin tin and let cool on a wire rack. Makes 12 muffins.

Let me know if you make these muffins, or have any other great healthy recipes!

What I would cook for Patrick Cantwell.

You may have recalled my mention of the Mr. Patrick Cantwell after I attended my first Round Rock Express game over Memorial Day Weekend. Cantwell is a fine, fine looking catcher and isn’t so bad at batting, either. He’s 26, from New York, and I wouldn’t mind cooking him dinner… more than once.

Sure, I bet he lives in the Austin/Round Rock area and could get a delicious meal just about anywhere – there is a Salt Lick right outside of the stadium, afterall. But who doesn’t love a good, homecooked meal?

And that, my readers, is what I’d like to give away today: organic ingredients for meals delivered right to your door, for FREE! I’ve been ordering from Green Chef for six months now, and I love it. You get to choose how many meals (by meal they mean serving) you want delivered, and set your preferences. You can change your food preferences as often as you want, or skip weeks if you’re not feeling it, and there’s NO penalty for it.

I generally have my preferences set on “omnivore” and I get ingredients for 6 meals each week; however, most of the time, it ends up being enough ingredients for 9 meals. Usually the box (which is right on my doorstep and packed with ice packs) has two recipes with meat, and one vegetarian. Some of my favorite meals I’ve gotten so far include:

  • Shrimp Fettucine Alfredo with Tomatoes and Snap Peas
  • Poached Tuna Salad, with Spinach Salad and Olive & Red Pepper Couscous
  • Chickpea Shawarma Salad, with Cucumber & Tomato Millet, Olives & Pine Nuts
  • Sweet & Sour Chicken with Black Quinoa, Edamame, Ginger, Pineapple & Pepper
  • Greek Gyro Flatbread with Baba ghanoush, Ground Beef, Tzatziki & Feta
  • Pumpkin-Stuffed Shells with Spinach & Walnut-parsley Pesto, Orange-chard Salad

So, you’ll get the ingredients and then you cook the meals at your leisure. All of the ingredients are pre-measured, and organized with color-coordinated labels. Some of the ingredients are even prepped for you (chopped, mixed, etc.), so it makes the meals pretty fool-proof. But seriously, no catch with the free meals – I really just want other people to try this delicious stuff!

I have one free gift to give away, so if you’re interested, shoot me your email address using the form at the bottom of this post. I’ll draw numbers tonight at 10pm Central time, and the winner will get an email from me with your code for the free meals.

In the meantime, I’ve got the recipe for this fantastic burger I’m going to make for Patrick Cantwell on our fantasy date, where of course, he’s going to fall madly in love with me.

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 ounces grass-fed ground beef
  • 2 whole-wheat hamburger buns
  • 2 slices nitrate-free bacon
  • Onion & shallot
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Honey-mustard balsamic vinegar
  • Slaw dressing
  • Carrots & cabbage
  • Scallions & celery

DIRECTIONS

Place carrots and cabbage in a medium bowl. Thinly slice scallions at an angle; discard root end. Small dice celery into about ¼-inch pieces. Add scallions and celery to bowl. Drizzle with slaw dressing to taste. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat.

Cut root end off onion; remove peel. Cut into about ¼-inch thick slices. Heat about 1 tablespoon cooking oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; stir. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 4 minutes, or until edges brown, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium. Cook 8-10 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cut ends off shallot and remove peel; mince. Halve grape tomatoes. Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add shallot to hot pot; stir. Cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes. Cook 3 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to soften, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, place ground beef in a large bowl. Add mozzarella cheese. Season with about ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper. Mix to evenly distribute cheese. Form into two patties, about ½-inch thick. Halve bacon widthwise.

Add honey-mustard balsamic vinegar to pot with tomatoes. Fill container halfway with water; pour into pot. Stir. Cook 5-6 minutes, or until liquid has reduced by at least half, stirring occasionally. Gently smash tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat about 1 tablespoon cooking oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add burgers to hot pan. Add bacon to pan around burgers. Cook burgers 5 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness. Cook bacon alongside burgers until crispy, flipping as needed. Transfer bacon and burgers to a paper towel-lined plate.

Meanwhile, turn oven to high broil with rack 6-8 inches from the top. Cut whole-wheat hamburger buns open. Place on a baking sheet cut-sides up. Broil 2-3 minutes, or until toasted. Crumble (or roughly chop) bacon. Add to bowl with slaw. Toss to combine.

Divide caramelized onion between bottom buns and top with Memorial Day mozz burgers. Spoon tomato jam over burgers. Finish burger with top bun. Serve with bacon slaw on the side. Enjoy!

When I cooked this meal for myself, I ended up putting the bacon on the burger, instead of in the slaw – because bacon on a burger was just a match meant to be. So, enter the giveaway – and, if you don’t win, you can still get a HUGE discount on your first Green Chef order by using my link here.

 

What I would cook for Brody Jenner.

Oh so handsome.

Oh so handsome.

On Friday, I heard Brody Jenner got engaged, and although this isn’t the FIRST time he’s been seriously in love – we all knew that whole Avril Lavigne thing wasn’t going to last… or at least, we really hoped it didn’t, and thank God it didn’t. But this one, this engagement to the gorgeous blonde model Kaitlyn Carter, seems like it’s pretty real. Because of course.

And yeah, I have always thought Brody Jenner was fine as hell. So, to ease the pain, let’s talk about food, and… do a food GIVEAWAY! Hells yeah!

But first, Brody. And the fact that once they get married, his wife’s name will be Kaitlyn Jenner. Hmm. Awkward.

Jenner got his TV start on “The Princes of Malibu” which starred him, and his brother, as well as his mom Linda Thompson and his former stepdad, David Foster… as in, the David Foster, who just dumped poor Yolanda. Like… I totally did not know this relationship ever happened.

And then he was on “The Hills” and I guess dated Kristin Cavallari and Lauren Conrad, although he said in a later interview that he never slept with anyone on “The Hills”…erreeeeaaallly? He was also dating Playmate Jayde Nicole while on later seasons of “The Hills”.

And then came Avril, and that was two years of complete oddness, and terror when she moved in and stole our hearts and our hot guy. Why you have to go and make things so complicated, Avril?!

Then in 2014, he started dating Kaitlyn, and was really open with the press about how great their sex life was, because she’s open to threesomes. Le sigh. THIS IS WHY IT’S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN FOR ME.

But that’s besides the point. Let’s say Brody Jenner is still single, and he’s coming over for dinner, what would I cook for him? I’m going with Beef Picadillo from Green Chef.

Delish!

Delish!

I made this recipe about a month ago and was pleasantly shocked at how delicious it was, given it’s array of different ingredients. I know Brody has probably had some high-class, fancy shit on his plate, but I get the feeling he’s open for just about anything. So, we’re going with it.

INGREDIENTS

    • Organic grass-fed seasoned ground beef
    • Organic garlic, onion, poblano chile & green bell pepper
    • Organic raisins & almonds
    • Organic green olives & capers
    • 1 15-ounce can organic fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
    • Chile seasoned masa
    • 10-12 sprigs organic parsley
    • 1 ounce Cotija cheese, crumbled
    • 1 organic zucchini

Mince garlic. Cut root end off onion and remove peel. Small dice into about ¼-inch pieces. Medium dice poblano chile and green bell pepper into about ½-inch pieces. Cut ends off zucchini. Medium dice into about ½-inch pieces; reserve. Destem parsley. Roughly chop leaves; set aside.

Heat about 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan (with lid) over medium heat. Add garlic and onion to hot pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. Add poblano and bell pepper. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add seasoned ground beef to pan with veggies. Stir to break up. Cook 5 minutes, or until browned, stirring frequently. Roughly chop green olives and capers. Add to pan. Cook 2 minutes.

Add fire-roasted crushed tomatoes to pan with picadillo. Add raisins and almonds; stir. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer 8-10 minutes, or until liquid reduces by at least a quarter, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, place chile-seasoned masa in a medium bowl. Add about ½ teaspoon salt and ⅔ cup water. Mix thoroughly until a stiff dough forms and pulls away from sides of bowl (see Pro Tip). Form dough into four patties, about ½-inch thick.

Pro Tip: If dough is too dry to come together, add water in tablespoon increments to reach ideal consistency.

Heat about 1 ½ tablespoons cooking oil in a medium nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add masa cakes to hot pan. Cook 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, heat about 1 ½ tablespoons cooking oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add zucchini to hot pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Divide beef picadillo between plates. Pile sautéed zucchini next to picadillo. Shingle two masa cakes on the side. Sprinkle with parsley and Cotija cheese. Enjoy!

And that, my friends, is what I’d like to give away today: organic ingredients for meals delivered right to your door, for FREE! I’ve been ordering from Green Chef for about four months now, and I love it. You get to choose how many meals (by meal they mean serving) you want delivered, and set your preferences. You can change your food preferences as often as you want, or skip weeks if you’re not feeling it, and there’s NO penalty for it.

I generally have my preferences set on “omnivore” and I get ingredients for 6 meals each week; however, most of the time, it ends up being enough ingredients for 9 meals. Usually the box (which is right on my doorstep and packed with ice packs) has two recipes with meat, and one vegetarian.

So, you’ll get the ingredients and then you cook the meals at your leisure. All of the ingredients are pre-measured, and organized with color-coordinated labels. Some of the ingredients are even prepped for you (chopped, mixed, etc.), so it makes the meals pretty fool-proof. But seriously, no catch with the free meals – I really just want other people to try this delicious stuff!

I have two free gifts to give away, so if you’re interested, shoot me your email address using the form at the bottom of this post. I’ll draw numbers tonight at 10pm Central time, and if you win, you’ll get an email from me with your code! If you don’t get an email from me, you can still get 4 free meals from Green Chef, using my code here.

What I’m eating this week…

I’ve been eating 90% of my meals from Green Chef for the last few months (catch a recap of how much I love it here). To say the least, it’s really convenient, delicious, healthy, and affordable. I’ve really come to rely on that box of ingredients at my doorstep every Friday evening.

But last Friday, I wasn’t going to be home (or all weekend), and I waited too long to tell Green Chef, so I had to skip my week’s delivery altogether. Major bummer!

While my deliveries will resume this Friday, this meant I was actually going to have to go to the grocery store and buy enough stuff to eat this week. I usually go to the grocery once per week, even when I’m getting the deliveries, because I still need breakfast items, wine, and cases of La Croix. But I haven’t dug through my recipe stash and actually planned meals in so long.

I was a little stressed over it, to be honest. But, I was relieved when I saw all the yummy recipes in my collection – I rip pages from Real Simple magazine. I settled on two recipes, one from Real Simple and one from Red Book magazine; both recipes vegetarian (I do eat meat, but I find it’s the most difficult thing to find good quality meat, so I skipped that this week).

For lunch, I wanted to make “Better-for-You Hummus Wraps” and for dinner, “Quesadillas with Poblano Peppers and beans”

Once I got to the grocery, I was not surprised to see that most of the ingredients I needed for the wraps, such as collard greens and alfalfa spouts weren’t available. This is when you’ve just got to get creative. So, instead of wrapping the hummus and veggies in the collard greens, I got whole wheat pita pockets.

I also got arugula, white bean hummus, tomatoes, cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, and avocado to fill the pocket. I got grapes and string cheese to have with it, for my lunches at work. Easy, delish, and healthy!

Luckily, I was able to get all of the ingredients for the quesadillas, no problem, and they ended up being really easy to make. For these, you’ll need:

  • tablespoons canola oil (I used organic coconut oil)
  • poblano peppers—halved, seeded, and sliced
  • large white onions, sliced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 115.5-ounce can low-sodium black beans, rinsed
  • ounces sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • 10-inch flour tortillas

I actually used 6 tortillas, with the same amount of filling, just an FYI. Get the simple cooking directions here. These have been yummy, and not as spicy as you may think. If you’re into spicy stuff, you’d either need to add heat or keep a few of those poblano seeds in tact.

Even though I’m enjoying my own meal ideas this week, I’d love for YOU to be able to try Green Chef for one week, entirely free (seriously, no catch here), to see how you like it! If you’re interested, shoot me your email, and I’ll draw a number tonight around 10pm central time. If you’re chosen (I only have one free week to give away), you’ll get an email from Green Chef with the details.

The free week will provide you with enough organic ingredients to make 6 meals (I can usually get 9 out of it, but that’s just me). If you want, you can get 4 free meals free, just by clicking here.

So, shoot me your email and maybe you’ll win some free food! In the meantime, let me know what you’re eating this week. I’m always looking for meal ideas, and I like to prep everything ahead of time so I don’t have to worry about it each night. Got a good method? Share it!

What I would cook for Matt Harvey.

Helloooooo! It’s been a hot minute since I featured two of my favorite pieces of this blog: “Celeb Crush” and a “Boyfriend Recipe”, so I figured why not combine the two for something steamy, plussss…. did I mention I have a giveaway? A FREE FOOD giveaway?! Yes!!

But before we get into that fun stuff, let’s pick up what hottie Matt Harvey is throwing down (baseball puns!). Let me paint the landscape for you: I enjoy going to baseball games, but mainly because I’m willing to do just about anything for a chili cheese dog and an icy beer.

I’m not a huge Mets fan, so I’ll be clear here… I had no idea who Matt Harvey was until I saw him on Watch What Happens Live. While it was revealed on the show that he “dates” a lot of models, he was also sexily coy and I pretty much loved every second of it.

Aside from the model-thing, the other downside to having a crush on Matt is his name. If you’re new here, welcome, and all you need to know is that I’ve dated WAY too many guys named Matt in my life and they are all complete douchers.

But that’s the glory of the celeb crush, right? We (me) get to suspend reality and dream on, like the fool that I am! So, a few fun facts about Mr. Harvey:

  • Birthday: March 27, 1989
  • Position: Pitcher
  • Went to college before being drafted by the Mets
  • Set a record during his debut game for 11 strikeouts
  • He is a huge hockey fan and loves the New York Rangers (le siiigggh)

So, what would I cook for Matt Harvey even though he can buy something that may taste a million times better? I would cook Harissa Steak Tacos with smashed beans, ginger slaw, and lime-dressed kale. I actually made this earlier this week, as all of the organic ingredients were delivered to me from Green Chef.

These. Are. Delicious.

These. Are. Delicious.

And that, my friends, is what I’d like to give away today: organic ingredients for meals delivered right to your door, for FREE! I’ve been ordering from Green Chef for about three months now, and I love it. You get to choose how many meals (by meal they mean serving) you want delivered, and set your preferences. You can change your food preferences as often as you want, or skip weeks if you’re not feeling it, and there’s NO penalty for it.

I generally have my preferences set on “omnivore” and I get ingredients for 6 meals each week; however, most of the time, it ends up being enough ingredients for 9 meals. Usually the box (which is right on my doorstep and packed with ice packs) has two recipes with meat, and one vegetarian. Some of my favorite meals I’ve gotten so far include:

  • Poached Tuna Salad, with Spinach Salad and Olive & Red Pepper Couscous
  • Chickpea Shawarma Salad, with Cucumber & tomato millet, olives & pine nuts
  • Sweet & Sour Chicken with Black quinoa, edamame, ginger, pineapple & pepper
  • Greek Gyro Flatbread with Baba ghanoush, ground beef, tzatziki & feta
  • Pumpkin-Stuffed Shells with Spinach & walnut-parsley pesto, orange-chard salad

So, you’ll get the ingredients and then you cook the meals at your leisure. All of the ingredients are pre-measured, and organized with color-coordinated labels. Some of the ingredients are even prepped for you (chopped, mixed, etc.), so it makes the meals pretty fool-proof. But seriously, no catch with the free meals – I really just want other people to try this delicious stuff!

I have three free gifts to give away, so if you’re interested, shoot me your email address using the form at the bottom of this post. I’ll draw numbers tonight at 10pm Central time, and announce the winners in tomorrow’s blog! The Green Chef email with the free meals will be delivered to the email you provide, so keep that in mind.

In the meantime, I’ve got the recipe for those fantastic Harissa Steak Tacos I’m going to make for Matt Harvey on our fantasy date, where of course, he’s going to fall madly in love with me.

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 ounce grass-fed sirloin steak
  • 6 organic corn tortillas
  • Organic red cabbage slaw
  • 1 tablespoon organic harissa spice blend
  • Organic lime, jalapeño & red bell pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can organic cannellini beans
  • 4-5 leaves organic Lacinato kale
  • 3 tablespoons organic pepitas
  • Organic creamy ginger dressing

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat sirloin steak dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with harissa spice blend, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Zest half of lime with a microplane (or on small holes of a box grater) into a small bowl; reserve. Cut lime into wedges.

Remove center rib from Lacinato kale. Roll leaves into a large “cigar” and slice across into about ¼-inch wide ribbons. Place in a medium bowl. Squeeze juice of one lime wedge over kale. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Massage kale with hands (or tongs) to break down fibers. Salt and pepper to taste.

Place red cabbage slaw in a large bowl. Drizzle with half of the creamy ginger dressing. Add pepitas. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cut jalapeño in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and stem. Small dice desired amount of jalapeño (or omit) and red bell pepper into about ¼-inch pieces.

Heat about 1 ½ tablespoons cooking oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add bell pepper and desired amount of jalapeño (or omit) to hot pan. Stir. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until peppers have softened, stirring occasionally.

Open, drain, and rinse cannellini beans. Add beans to pan with peppers. Add reserved lime zest. Squeeze juice of another lime wedge over pan. Stir. Reduce heat to medium-low. Mash about half the beans with the back of a cooking spoon. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm on back of stovetop, off heat.

Place corn tortillas on foil. Sprinkle with water. Wrap foil over tortillas. Warm in oven 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat about 1 tablespoon cooking oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add steak to hot pan. Sear 4-5 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness. Transfer steak to cutting board and let rest at least 3 minutes.

Cut steak against the grain into about ¼-inch thick slices. Pile beans and slaw on each plate. Serve three tortillas each. Place kale in each tortilla and divide steak between tacos. Drizzle remaining creamy ginger dressing over tacos to taste. Garnish with lime wedges. Enjoy!

Eminence organic skin care.

Spa days are the bessssst.

Spa days are the bessssst.

Over the holidays, my mom treated me to an afternoon at the spa (Viva Day Spa in downtown, Austin, if you’re curious). We had manis and pedis, but we also enjoyed organic facials.

I’ve had many facials in my life, but this one was fantastic! So much so, that I wanted to get some of the products they used so I could T-R-Y to imitate the wondrous feeling at home.

All of the products were from the Eminence skin care line, which is completely handmade and organic. I’d never heard of it before, and the esthetician showed me the products she’d used – most of which revolved around skin brightening and moisturizing.

Bright Skin Starter Set

Bright Skin Starter Set

Luckily, they had a Bright Skin Starter Set,  which includes a cleanser, moisturizer, a face mask, and Licorice Root Booster-Serum, along with a pretty cute cosmetic bag. I got that, and definitely love the moisturizer and the serum.

The cool part about all of the products is that they are concentrated (because there’s no preservatives in them), so you can add a few drops of water to whatever you’re using and stretch it a little further.

The cool part about the serum is that you can add it to whatever liquid product you’re putting on your face. I add a few drops to my moisturizer, but you can add it to a night cream, face mask, or even your foundation to give your skin a boost.

What does it mean to use organic skin care? You’re putting ingredients on/in your skin (the biggest organ we’ve got) that are pure. Check out their farming process:

Originating from a balanced, holistic view of the universe, Biodynamic® farming practices regard the farm, the plants and the animals as a self-supporting ecosystem that lives and breathes. It renders fruits and herbs that are unusually high in nutrients and active compounds then harnesses these potent ingredients into a collection of products that are the ultimate in pureness and results-driven skin care.

Seeds are planted and crops are harvested following the lunar cycle so that when the tides are high, roots receive the most moisture and goodness.

As an alternative to harsh pesticides, the farm uses herbal teas and plant friendly honey traps from local bees as natural insect repellents ensuring that all Biodynamic® ingredients are farmed as naturally as possible.

Biodynamic® ​ingredients are void of all chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Only natural medicinal herbs and mineral composts are used to enhance the soil and ignite powerful growth forces in the plants from roots to tips.

It’s the real deal.

I’ve been trying to get really good about taking care of my skin lately. I’m getting older, and I’ve got to be able to put my best face forward! If you follow me on SnapChat (OrangeJulius7), you can see more of my daily skin care regimen, along with my other favorite beauty products.

Pic of the Week.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for Green Chef, an organic food supplier that delivers fresh, ORGANIC ingredients right to your doorstep, along with instructions on how to make delicious meals.

Well, I got my first delivery Friday, and it has proven itself to be a 15-pound box of organic goodness! I have been thinking about signing up for a service like this because the grocery stores in Austin are insanely busy. Busy as in, you can’t reach the broccoli because there’s a line to get to it. It gives me anxiety, and I’m not really down for it.

So, after researching several services, I chose Green Chef because it was all organic (non-GMO, fools!) and the price was on-point. You can choose what type of meals you want: vegetarian, omnivore, pescatarian, or paleo. And you can change your meal preferences at any time.

I chose omnivore, and asked for enough ingredients to make 6 meals each week, meaning 6 portions, 3 different recipes. It’s $80/week, which is pretty good considering I just took a trip to the grocery for almond milk, soda water, and wine, and it was $60.

So, my box arrived and it was completely insulated and packed with ice packs to keep everything fresh. And ALL of the ingredients were separated into ziplock bags and clearly labeled. It also came with colorful menu guides for when I cook my meals.

My box contained all of the ingredients to make pumpkin-stuffed shells (served with orange-chard salad), chicken couscous soup (served with carrot ribbon salad), and steak & beet panzanella (with steak fries).

The other cool thing about Green Chef? Obviously the opportunity to make foods I’ve never cooked before. But, there’s really NOT much cooking to be done. All of the sauces are pre-made, and stored in cute little containers, so the prep and cooking times are all around 30 minutes or less. Works for me!

So, Saturday night, I decided to have a date night with myself (because, that’s just how cool I am), complete with John Green movies, wine, and my homemade steak & beet panzanella, with steak fries.

The meal calls for grass-fed sirloin steak, organic balsamic vinaigrette, horseradish crème fraiche, organic golden beet, organic lacinato kale, organic potato, marble rye bread, organic onion, organic chives, and rosemary tomato aioli.

Then, there’s a colorful, picture-guide, explaining the 8 steps to complete the meal. Overall, it was easy to make because most of the prep-work is done for you. And in the end,  the meal was delicious!

I’m looking forward to trying all of the other meals delivered right to my door! If you’d like to try Green Chef, I’ve got a code that will give you 4 meals for free! I’d love to see what you think of it! Cheers!

How Starbucks broke my heart.

Done with Starbucks.

Done with Starbucks.

This has nothing to do with cups. It doesn’t even have anything to do with what’s inside the cups.

Let me start by telling you just how much I used to love Starbucks.

It was a lot.

As I type this, I’m sipping coffee from a Starbucks mug. In fact, when I made my coffee this morning, and reached for a clean mug, I realized that more than half of the mugs I have in my apartment are from Starbucks. There are even tumblers and travel mugs, too.

Books from the Starbucks’ CEO are on my shelves. I have a Starbucks gold card with my name printed on it that I earned in 2010 after many years of soy lattes. It’s been a staple of my life for many, many years.

It’s not necessarily because of the delicious way they press a machiatto, or their addictive hot chocolate. It’s that, plus a lot of other things I once loved about the coffee giant. I loved the atmosphere. The culture.

I hated it when people would bash Starbucks for selling CDs or having special terms for their sizes — all of that boiled down to the culture of Starbucks. The fact that it was based on that feeling you get when you’re in a fine coffee house in Europe and all the little things add up to this one, giant feeling of pure perfection.

And there was this other thing about the culture; the fact that the money I spent on delicious coffee was going to other good things like great benefits for the employees, and fair wages for the farmers who nurtured the beloved coffee beans from around the globe (Starbucks is 100% ethically sourced).

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Blake MyCoskie, the founder of Toms Shoes, speak on how he created his business. He said when Toms Shoes began, he realized just how much people love to buy something if they know that their purchase makes them a part of something great.

That’s how I felt about Starbucks. It really pissed me off when people would bitch about the price of coffee at Starbucks — we weren’t paying for just the brand, we were paying for those benefits, fair wages, and that moment you get when you get that first sip of the peppermint mocha.

After all, I can chose to spend my money on whatever I please. And the same people complaining about overpriced coffee and anti-Christmas cups are the same people who shop at Wal-Mart (known for its low wages and poor working conditions) and eat at Chik-fil-a (right-winged, anti-gay). Two companies I gave up years ago.

Even Toms Shoes is aligned with right-wing activist groups (although MyCoskie has issued an apology for it), and even Starbucks has it’s problems.

Last week, a friend told me Starbucks’ products were full of GMOs, and not only that, but they donated $70 million to fight GMO-labeling laws.

Umm, what?

My quest to be healthier started about four years ago, with regular fitness, detox, and healthy eating. I’ll admit, I haven’t always bought the organic craze, and I understand how difficult it is for companies to migrate from using GMOs — they are everywhere. Thanks, Monsanto.

Not familiar with GMOs? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, and they are created when the DNA from other plants, animals, and bacteria are injected into cells of another group, say, a plant seed. That seed then can grow despite being sprayed with pesticide, poison, or whatever. GMOs weren’t around at the dawn of time, so it adversely affects those who eat them — humans and animals alike. Here’s a good article on the basics of GMOs.

So, Starbucks is a part of the Grocer’s Manufacturer’s Association (GMA), along with several other giants like Coca-Cola, Clorox, Proctor & Gamble, etc. And the GMA is supporting anti-GMO-labeling laws. These laws make it okay for companies to NOT mention that their products are chock-full of GMOs.

Starbucks claims that forcing a company to put something on their label affects their first amendment to free speech.

Oh, Starbucks, you sneaky little bitch! You KNOW how much free speech means to me! But I also believe I have a right to know what’s in the food I eat. And the latter of those beliefs has an effect on my health, and perhaps, on my life.

There are two main things that bother me about Starbucks going arm-in-arm with Monsanto (home of GMO pesticide, complete with government ties):

  1. I was tricked. This entire time, I thought Starbucks was a GREAT company. And to make matters worse, even Starbucks is saying all of these GMO-labeling accusations are false, that it’s the GMA fighting the fight. No, Starbucks, no. You don’t get to play that game. If you’re guilty, fess up.
  2. I have no control where my money goes. For years, I thought my money was supporting the causes I care about, only to find out that it’s been going to support Monsanto.

When the Chik-fil-a fiasco happened, a former coworker told me that she would never boycott a company just because of the founder’s beliefs or what they supported — “There’d be nowhere to go,” she said.

I disagree. There ARE companies out there that do good; that believe the same things I believe. And it’s my right to spend my money where I choose. If we don’t stand for something, what are we living for? Honestly.

And if I’m being honest, I will say that the whole part of using GMO milk and selling baked goods sprinkled with poison, bothers me LESS than the whole $70 million to support anti-GMO-labeling.

When I go into a store, I can make a choice as to buy an organic chicken that’s eaten a GMO-free diet. Or, I can get the cheap shit. That is my choice. I can even still go to Starbucks and get a plain coffee with a splash of coconut milk and I can walk out GMO-free. But that sale goes to support something terrible. And I just cannot live with that.

So, I’m in the process of finding a new coffee shop to love. One that serves delicious drinks, and doesn’t support GMOs.

It’s minimal, but in addition to boycotting Starbucks, I’ve signed a petition in hopes that one day, Starbucks can make the switch and support GMO-labeling. You can sign it, too!

Want more info on Monsanto, GMOs, the GMA, and where to find a decent coffee shop? Here you go:

Pic of the Week.

My new obsession — crave blocking shakes!

My new obsession — crave blocking shakes!

In exactly 37 days, I’ll be on the beach! So, I have really started to amp up my workout routine, make sure my diet is clean, and that I’ve got the portions under control.

Lately, I’ve been only wanting to eat snacks. I’m a firm believer in eating whatever your body is telling you to eat (within moderation, of course), so I’m still snacking. Of course, I’m going for healthy snacks: raw veggies, hummus, fruit, peanut butter, edamame, Greek yogurt, and protein bars (you should see my pantry).

Need more healthy snack ideas? Check out my previous blog post on the matter. 

Anyway, I recently purchased a bag of Melaleuca’s Attain shakes, which contain 10 grams of protein per shake, and are said to contain “crave blockers” and fiber to keep the body feeling full and avoid any temptation to eat junk food. Um, give me that!

I’ve had two shakes now and they taste delish (I mix it with 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk)! It is filling, and I’ve noticed when I do eat, I eat less. WIN.

From the website, “Attain with revolutionary, all-natural CraveBlocker®
helps stop cravings at both critical sources, putting you back in control. You can manage your weight without feeling hungry all the time. Without getting irritable. Without depriving your body of the nutrition it needs. Controlling cravings is an essential part of losing weight—and keeping it off for good.”

It comes in vanilla, strawberry, blueberry, and chocolate… of course I got the chocolate. However, I’m totally getting the strawberry and am going to mix it with the chocolate. BAM.

Just an FYI, I’m a preferred member of Melaleuca, so I get my products for way less dough. If you’re interested in signing up to be a preferred member, shoot me a message and I’ll be happy to set it up!

I seem to be on a protein-kick, and as pathetic as it sounds, I’ve got a little wish list going of protein I want to try. I’ve been eyeing Slender Bend by Protein World. Heard of it? Tried it?

According to the Protein World website, “This low calorie, high protein meal replacement shake will boost your metabolism, help you to feel fuller for longer and support the development of lean and toned muscle as you slim down. Protein is highly satisfying and helps build strong hair, skin and nails. We’ve also added a unique blend of green tea extract, raspberry ketones and multi vitamins to the mix, to curb those cravings and help you to become slimmer and healthier.*

Used as a meal replacement once or twice daily, the shakes help you to control your calorie intake enabling you to lose weight, healthily.”

I WANT.

What are some of your favorite healthy snacks, proteins, or meal replacements?