Frozen produce sometimes gets a bad reputation when compared to fresh. Fresh produce has more nutrients, they say, and tastes better. While everyone has their own taste preferences, fresh produce may not in fact be healthier in some cases. Produce is like a car: it starts losing its value as soon as it leaves the lot (in this case, the farm). Depending on how far your produce travels, it could lose a good percentage of its nutrient value before it even hits your table.
Frozen produce, on the other hand, is often flash frozen soon after it’s picked, which helps retain all those vital nutrients and vitamins your body craves. Turns out frozen produce doesn’t deserve its bad rep’ after all.
But while you may be a pro at cooking fresh produce, frozen takes another set of skills. We’re here to set the record straight: what mistakes are you making that delude the flavor of your frozen fruits and veggies?
- You think you must defrost before you cook. This is an unnecessary step and only adds time. With frozen veggies, all you need to do is through them in the pan and cook them up! Herbs should definitely not be defrosted, as they lose their structure in the freezer. Add the frozen stuff to your cooking and presto – instant meal.
- You think all frozen produce needs to be cooked before consumption. Think again! Not all frozen fruits and veggies need to be cooked. You may be familiar with throwing frozen fruit in a smoothie, but you can also simply run cold water over broccoli, corn, and snap peas to heat them to room temperature and throw them on a salad. No cooking needed!
- You don’t read the package for cooking instructions. Not all veggies need to cook for the same length of time in order to heat them. Cooking corn and broccoli for the same length of time, for instance, isn’t ideal. Larger chunks like broccoli need a little more time, while corn is a quick cook.
- You only cook them in a microwave. Sure, microwaves are super fast and easy – that’s their goal. However, like any form of heat, leaving the produce in the microwave for too long sucks away some of the nutrients, and that’s much easier with a set-it-and-forget-it microwave. Try stovetop cooking instead; this also gives you more freedom to add spices and herbs to up the flavor ante.
- You don’t buy frozen produce at all! As we mentioned before, many stay away from frozen produce due to the nutrient and taste argument. But with the tips and tricks we’ve listed out above, your frozen fruits and veggies are guaranteed to taste divine. Even better: they’re typically cheaper than fresh produce, and last so much longer. The benefits abound!
How do you cook frozen produce to make it taste its best? Let us know in the comments below.
The temperatures have been down these last few days in Boston, which has us thinking about the onset of fall. We still have over a month until temperatures really begin to cool down, but this week’s temperatures still have us reminiscent of flannel shirts, pumpkin bread, and hot coffee.
This also has us looking at our calendars to see what autumn has in store. And for many of us, that means running races! The cooler weather makes a 5k, half marathon, or even a full marathon that much more comfortable and enjoyable. And in order to prep fully for these races, our training starts now.
If you haven’t run a race before, believe us – there’s so much fun in store. There are a few key pieces of advice that people often forget to tell you before a race – so we’re here to set the record straight.
- You’ll run with a crowd. It’s obvious that, at the beginning of the race when everyone is clustered near the start line, you’ll be running alongside a slowly-jogging crowd. However, what many don’t tell you is that, depending on the race, you may be with a crowd for every mile. It will certainly thin out a little as you run farther, but for those who are used to running alone, this may be a shocker. Use the crowd to cheer on your fellow racers and get your adrenaline pumping.
- You’ll run faster than you’re used to – especially at the beginning. There’s something about a race that gets our blood pumping. With so many people ready to take on the race, the energy in the air is palpable. This adrenaline may mean you pump up the pace – even unknowingly – at the start of the race. Use a tracking app or watch to track your pace from the start, then slow down after the first mile or two if you find yourself speeding through. After all, with races, consistency wins!
- You may need to pass people. Sure, you might not consider yourself the fastest of the lot. But chances are your pace is faster than someone else’s, which means passing. This translates to quick, lateral movements that you may not be used to. Incorporate some side lunges into your training regimen to ensure your knees are strong and can take the hit.
- You’ll need a zippered pocket in your running gear. Whether it’s in your tights, shorts, or shirt, we highly recommend wearing clothing with a pocket of some kind. Especially if you’re attending the race alone, or only with a partner running beside you, you’ll need somewhere to put valuables like your car or house keys. Avoid the need to rent a locker to store a small key by prioritizing the zippered pouch.
- You may need to shed clothes. Even if it’s super chilly when you start the race, once you get running you’ll work up a sweat. Wear a sweatshirt or long-sleeve that you don’t mind losing to the roads of the race. Carrying your sweatshirt for 13.1 miles because you don’t want to lose it isn’t just annoying – it’s unrealistic.
- You’ll have fun! Yes, training to run any amount you haven’t run before can be grueling. But for all those days you cursed running, this one makes it worth it. All those smiling faces cheering you on, the energy and buzz of the runners beside you, the fun music and announcer – we promise, you’ll love it!
What are your best race day tips? Let us know in the comments below!
By now, you’ve probably heard from many experts, articles, journals, and magazines that sunscreen is a must-have in the summer when you’re spending more time outdoors. Not only does wearing sunscreen prevent painful and unsightly burns, it also protects the skin from wrinkles, brown spots, skin cancer, and signs of aging. Essentially, wearing sunscreen is a must-do for skin health.
However, despite our knowledge that it’s an overall good thing, there are still many questions, uncertainties, and myths out there when it comes to the best way to use and apply sunscreen for maximum effectiveness. We’re here to dispel some of those myths!
First, use about a 1-ounce glass worth of sunscreen to protect your full body from sun exposure (slightly more or less may be needed depending on your size). Apply sunscreen to your whole body about 15 minutes before sun exposure, which allows it time to sink in. From there, reapply every 1.5 hours you’re in the sun; our favorite trick is to set our smartphone reminders to let us know when it’s time to reapply. And of course, if you go in the water, always reapply after you dry – no matter how recently you applied before going in the water.
No matter how diligently you think you apply, it’s always easy to miss a few spots. The most likely culprits? People often forget their feet (even the bottoms, if you’re laying on your stomach), top of their ears, their scalp and neck, and chest/underarms. Be extra diligent when it comes to those spots for the best protection.
Types to Buy
The actual brand may not be as important as the coverage the sunscreen gives you. Always look for options that say “broad spectrum protection” as it better protects your skin from both UVA and UVB light. Doctors recommend purchasing an SPF of 15-50 for maximum effectiveness.
Additionally, always be sure to buy new sunscreen each summer, or at least check the expiration dates on your old bottles. There may be a lot left in last year’s supply, but the active ingredients in sunscreen do wear off over time.
Spray versus lotion?
The jury’s still out on whether spray sunscreen is as effective as lotions. Many experts lean towards lotions, as it’s easier to cover the majority of the body and to know if you missed spots. Spraying outdoors makes it even easier to miss spots due to the wind blowing the spray way from your body. When in doubt, use lotions, but spray can work in a jiffy if needed.
What are your ultimate tips for sunscreen application? Let us know in the comments below!
Is it just us, or do our homes simply transform in the summer? With all the natural light and open windows offering a beautiful breeze, our homes feel peaceful and serene during these months. While winter coops us up in comfort, summer let’s us free.
This also means it’s time for extra entertaining. Our friends are much more likely to leave the house for indoor-outdoor parties this time of year, and everyone’s sunny smiles make for a great soiree. Inevitably during these parties, many guests end up chatting with you and helping out in the kitchen, moving piping hot food and crispy salads from prep to serving.
While summer means more entertaining, it also means there’s more sunlight in the home to highlight (for better or for worse) all the dust and clutter you’ve compiled throughout the winter months. When you have people over, the last thing you want is too many things in the way of your people-packed home.
It’s time to minimize your kitchen clutter for the remainder of the summer season. You can do this by first clearing the following out of your space:
- Old shopping bags: Do you have a pile in your kitchen of old paper shopping bags? What about a plastic bag filled with hundreds of extra balled up plastic bags? What are the chances that you ever reuse those bags? Slim to none, I’m afraid, as any opportunity you have to put something in one of those bags, you can use a reusable bag instead and fit more without the bag breaking. Take this time to recycle paper bags in your recycling bin. While you can’t recycle plastic bags in the traditional recycling bin, most grocery stores offer a plastic bag recycling drop-off.
- Magazines and junk mail: Boy, do these pile up in the kitchen. Go through your junk mail and magazine pile and recycle any paper you don’t need. Make a vow this summer to deal with mail that comes in right away. If you don’t need junk mail, recycle it immediately. If you aren’t ready to read a magazine, stick it in the magazine rack or your beach bag for the future!
- Frozen food buried deep in your freezer: Is your freezer like ours – piled high with a bunch of food packages without a label? Is it buried so deep with food that you aren’t even sure you know what you have in there (especially on the bottom)? You aren’t alone. This summer, take everything out of your fridge and write your inventory in a notebook. Then, vow to cook it all this season! You’ll be surprised how much money you’ll save on groceries – and how fun it will be to experiment with cooking all your frozen goodies.
- Old condiments and dressings that have expired: How many jars do you have in your refrigerator just dying to be tossed? Take a look at the expiration dates on your salad dressings, relishes, ketchup, and more and dump those that don’t look so good. Wash out the jars and recycle them for extra eco points!
- Old grungy Tupperware: Is your Tupperware drawer filled to the brim with older varieties and even lidless ones? If you can’t find the lid, it’s a sign you should throw the plastic container in the recycling bin. If it’s stained or worn, try tossing it in the dishwasher. Can’t be salvaged? Shoot it in the recycling or trash bin (check for it’s recycling number on the bottom – 1 through 6 – to ensure it can be recycled) and buy a new set.
- Rusted or spotted silverware and kitchen tools: How long have you had your metal silverware, grill tools, slotted spoons, and other gadgets? Most last years and years. But if any of these pieces are rusted, it’s probably time for a new one. Spotted with water stains? Try polishing with silver polish, and if all else fails, splurge on a new set.
There you have it: a newly clutter-free kitchen that’s beautiful to cook in, entertain with, and enjoy. What else do you plan to clear out of the kitchen this summer? Let us know in the comments below!
[Scroll to the bottom for recipe links!]
It’s that time of the year: the Fourth of July is upon us! For many, this holiday marks the official beginning of steamy, hot summer beach days. This year, with the Fourth falling on a Wednesday, for many it’s now a week-long or multi-day celebration with friends, family, food, and fun.
Today, on the eve of the Fourth, we’d like to focus on the food part of the holiday. Barbequed hot dogs and hamburgers, smoky s’mores, juicy bowls of fruit (and punch), crunchy chips, and soda pop bask on long, tablecloth-laden tables. It practically makes our mouths water just thinking about the tables full of delicious food awaiting this week!
The only problem is: it isn’t always the healthiest food. While we’re all for indulging every once in a while (holidays included!), there are ways to do so that also involve nutritious ingredients full of vitamins and minerals that make our bodies feel good all week long.
Instead of a greasy beef burger, try a plant-based grilled veggie burger. Instead of marshmallows or steak on a skewer, try veggies. Instead of ice cream, try a festive smoothie. Mayo-laden pasta salad? Substitute mayo for pesto and you have a divine dish that’s healthier to boot!
We’ve put together a few recipes from amazing food bloggers who know healthy, festive food better than anyone. Try one of these for this week and let us know how much was left at the end of the party (our guess: none!).
- Grilled Blackberry, Strawberry, Basil, and Brie Pizza Crisps by Half Baked Harvest
- Grilled Veggies with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce & Grilled Pita by Vegetarian Ventures
- Sweet Potato Burgers by Chocolate Covered Katie
- Creamy Hemp Pesto Pasta Salad by Making Thyme for Health
- Red, White, and Blue Smoothie by Earthy Feast
One of the biggest misunderstandings about eating healthy is that it’s too expensive. Sure, if you’re buying organic, gluten-free, vegan kombucha in individual bottles, you’re going to be paying a hefty penny. But many of the healthiest foods don’t come in individual packages and can be some of the cheapest foods money can buy.
With a little know-how and a few strategic tactics, you can nourish your body with the healthiest foods for low cost. Here’s how we save money while eating right:
- Choose “generic” store brands. Many healthy (and unhealthy) foods have jacked up prices due to branding and marketing. However, the store’s brand – also known as the “generic” brand or “private label” – probably tastes the same and can be half the cost. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods 365, Star Market, and Costco brand foods have stellar reviews and taste great. Always be sure to read the ingredient list and compare to the branded version to match taste and nutritional value (for instance, you don’t want to buy the store brand if they’ve added a ton of sugar).
- Shop in bulk. Shopping the bulk section is almost always cheaper than shopping pre-packed varieties. This works especially well for beans, quinoa, grains, cereals, peanut butter, nuts, and other dried goods. You save on the branding and packaging, as mentioned before, but you can also control portions and only buy what you need.
- Buy frozen foods. It’s a misconception that frozen foods lack nutritional value or taste. In fact, many fruits and veggies have more vitamins and minerals in tact as compared to fresh produce, because they’re flash frozen upon picking, while fresh produce can travel across the country to get to you (losing nutrients in the process). Be sure to buy plain frozen produce, fish, and meats – not the prepared variety that are loaded with cholesterol, salt, and sugar. Another perk? Frozen produce doesn’t go bad like the fresh stuff, so you can wait until you’re ready to eat it.
- Shop online. Many companies are joining the online food delivery game, and these days, you can save a pretty penny online. This is especially true if you shop in bulk at stores like Boxed or Brandless. Health food websites can also save you a few dollars, so as always, do your research!
- Shop in-season. When produce is in-season, grocery stores often bulk up on it because it tastes better that time of year and local farmers are growing a ton of it. Learn what’s ripe during a certain season and shop the sales to see which items a grocery store is pushing in the catalogs – it may mean they have too much inventory, which means your wallet lucks out!
How do you save money while eating healthy? We’d love to hear your favorite websites and tactics in the comments below!
Happy Monday! How are you feeling about this morning? While some wake up easily on Monday mornings, ready to take on the full week ahead, others awake with dread, wondering how the weekend went by so quickly. The latter isn’t just relegated to those who dislike their jobs, either. Whether you love your job or not, the end of the weekend can bring a little sadness.
If this sounds like you, know that it doesn’t have to be! There are ways in which you can stave off that Monday feeling and wake up ready to take on the week. We have a few ideas as to how you can start:
Set yourself up for success on Sunday. It’s tempting to take the weekend as a time to lounge, watch television, eat unhealthy but delicious food, and simply relax. But that doesn’t necessarily set you up for success come Monday morning. Next Sunday, take a little time to watch TV or do those things that relax you, but also be sure to fit in a few activities that will set your week up for success. Meal prep for the week ahead, go for a jog, clean a room in your house, or cross something off your to-do list. By accomplishing something small, the week won’t feel quite so daunting.
Get a good night’s sleep. Yes, it can be tempting to stay up on Sunday evening to binge watch your favorite show. But getting a ton of sleep on Sunday will make it that much easier to crawl out of bed on Monday and sets you up for a refreshed week moving forward.
Plan something fun for Monday night. If the Monday blues got you down, stick some fun social plans on your calendar for Monday evening so that you have something to look forward to. Some will plan drinks or dinner with a friend; others invite friends over to watch the Bachelorette or another weekly show. No matter what excites you, plan something fun to help you get through the day and into the week with ease.
Make (and follow) a to-do list. If making plans doesn’t help your stamina, go the opposite route: accomplish something on Monday that you’ve been meaning to get done. Starting the week off by accomplishing a task that’s been bugging you will give you momentum for a productive week. And productivity feels good!
Feeling really scary? Take a personal day this Monday. There’s nothing wrong with taking a sick day when you really aren’t feeling mentally “there.” You’ll be more productive and engaged at work on Tuesday if you take a day to yourself.
Examine your mood: is this feeling consistent every Monday? If this feeling comes every week, perhaps it’s time to examine what’s making you anxious; it may be time to make a change. If your job has you feeling down every week, chances are it isn’t the job for you. Take a look at what you enjoy about your week, write it down, and then attempt to find a new job or hobby that makes you feel that feeling more consistently.
Overall, Monday’s don’t have to be scary! Take these tips and propel yourself into the week ahead with productivity, grace, and fun.
You have great intentions: you want to eat as healthy as possible at lunch during the week. You head over to the closest salad joint only to find that the line is out the door, tens of people waiting for their hand-tossed, healthy deliciousness. Waiting in line cuts your lunch break short, adds stress, and gives you less time to enjoy your nutrition-packed meal.
An easy fix? Make your own salad and bring it with you! Part of the lure of these salad shops is that they seem to have every ingredient under the sun. But with a few quick hacks, you can make a meal that’s just as delicious and varied.
First, pick a salad theme to inspire you. You’ll notice that salad shops have fun names for their suggested concoctions that ignite the senses: Mexican Chopped Salad, Harvest Salad, and Springtime Strawberry, just to name a few. As you head to the grocery store, think of a themed salad that you love and aim to replicate it.
You’ll want to make sure you love your base of greens. Spinach, kale, and romaine are all-time favorites, but spinach and kale pack a higher nutrient punch, so if you enjoy those, prioritize them! Make sure to massage your kale and chop it up into small enough pieces to ensure it tastes delicious and meshes well with the rest of the salad.
Next, pick a protein and add some flavor to it. The death of the homemade salad has to be flavorless proteins that taste bland and do not keep you coming back for more. Salad shops, however, take the time to add some spices and seasonings to all their proteins. Marinate your meat, chickpeas, or fish in a sauce or spices overnight to enhance flavor.
Then, add some grains. Grains are cheap and easy to make in large batches, so you can use them for salads throughout the week but also dinners and breakfasts galore. Whip up a huge batch of quinoa, farro, or rice to use all week long. Not only do they add flavor to your salad, they also add fiber to keep you fuller, longer.
Here come the veggies. Pick a few that you love and cut them up during your meal prep at the beginning of the week. That way, you aren’t racing to cut veggies in the morning before work to add to your salad (being short on time in the morning is the ultimate detriment to the homemade lunch!). Make sure to chop all your veggies around the same size to maximize mouthfeel.
One reason those shop salads are so good? Cheese! That umami flavor simply can’t be beat. Sprinkle your favorite cheese – gouda, parmesan, pecorino romano – on top of any salad you make to maximize flavor. Our favorite? Parmesan crisps that add both texture and flavor to a salad. Make your own by shredding parmesan on a baking sheet and baking on high heat, or opt for a grocery-store-bought variety.
Lastly, dressing! That delicious concoction is what offers the most flavor to any salad and takes your meal to the next level. We always recommend making your own dressing, as many store-bought varieties are filled with sugar. If you don’t have the time, be sure to check the labels at the grocery store to maximize the healthful qualities of your dressing (opt for the least sugar you can). To make your own dressing, grab some olive oil, your favorite spices, and some chipotle peppers and blend quickly in a food processor. This combo offers a spicy take on dressing, but experiment with your favorite ingredients and see what works for you!
With these tips, you can easily put together a healthy, flavorful salad that will delight your senses at lunchtime – and save you stress and time waiting in line!
As the flowers continue to bloom, grass turns greener, and the trees are flush with leaves, it’s time to acknowledge it: spring has nearly come and gone! April (and often May) showers brought May (and June) flowers, and our world seems to be a whole lot brighter than it was merely a month or two ago.
Flowers, grass, and trees aren’t the only plants that emerge during spring; certain fruits and vegetables make their way into the season, too. They fill local farmers’ markets and grocery stores with hues of green and pink. Their fresh, light taste is more than welcome after a winter’s worth of potatoes, mushrooms, and other heartier winter produce.
The leafy greens are filled with vitamins A, C, and K, which keep your immune system, bones, and muscles healthy. They also help you heal quickly when necessary. Green veggies are also full of fiber that keeps you feeling fuller, longer. Spring green vegetables range from leafy spinach and arugula for salads to the fresh herbs that dress your meals to flavor-filled peas, scallions, and asparagus.
But spring produce doesn’t stop at green. Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries – are at their best in the spring. Their sweetness is wonderful alone, with granola and yogurt in the morning, or topped on green salads. Pink beets also make their way through this season, while rhubarb, radishes, onions, and carrots are in their glory.
Now is the time to use these fruits and veggies in your cooking while they’re in their prime! Not only do they taste their best these days, they’re also filled with the greatest amount of nutrients. We’ve put together a few quick recipes that will impress your family and friends this week, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts. Use up that fresh-as-ever spring produce, add some extra nutrients to your week, and soak up what nature has to offer.
- Roasted Strawberry and Rhubarb Grits with Toasted Pecans by Vegetarian Ventures
- Pea Guacamole and Seared Pea Tacos by Salt and Wind
- Homemade Strawberry Shortcakes by Lovely Little Kitchen
- Asparagus Corn Soup by Hello My Dumpling
- Spring Vegetable Potstickers by Smitten Kitchen
When you cook these this week, let us know how it goes in the comments below!
Ahh, summer. That joyous time of year when the weather gets super warm, the kids are out of school, and you get to spend time outdoors doing what you love: boating, hiking, walking, beaching, vacationing, kayaking… the opportunities are endless.
While it all sounds like a dream, the chance to do everything outside comes with another unexpected part of summer: a busy schedule. Especially here on the east coast, we find that everyone so badly wants to take advantage of the warm summer months that every weekend fills up with plans quickly, oftentimes without us even realizing it.
Once May hits, you look at your calendar and realize you don’t have a free weekend until August. That’s crazy! With work during the week and other responsibilities, finding time for yourself – particularly to exercise – can be difficult.
But again, the benefit of the season is that the outdoors is your oyster. Let’s use that to our advantage to fit in a workout no matter how busy we get. Here are a few ideas for always getting that exercise in:
- Choose workouts that require no equipment. Running and bodyweight workouts are a great use of your time and require no equipment, so you can always be at the ready to fit in a quick sweat session. Throughout the busy summer months, be sure to carry sneakers and a workout outfit in your bag at all times for when inspiration strikes.
- Think of creative ways to use your time. Where in your schedule do you have a bit of time you may not have taken advantage of for a workout before? Could you wake up 30 minutes earlier and fit in a quick jog? Could you head out to the spin studio next door to your office during your lunch break, or take a quick afternoon break to go for a walk?
- Turn your commute into a workout. That time spent on the train or in the car could be spent getting your sweat on. If you live close enough to your office, try jogging home or biking. If you take public transit, get off the train or bus a few stops early and walk briskly home from there. Who knows – running, biking, or walking may even shave some time off your traffic-laden commute!
- Find a competition to train for. For some, competition is just the motivation needed to always fit in a workout. Sign up for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or whichever distance sounds enjoyable to you, and train for that race. There’s nothing worse than paying for a race only to not train, get to race day, and have a terrible time getting to the finish line. If running isn’t your favorite, sign up for a bike race or a weight-lifting competition. If you have an end date in mind, you’re more likely to fit in those training sessions.
- Multi-task. If you’re short on time and only have 30 minutes at the gym, bring a few dumbbells onto the treadmill with you and lift while you walk. Turn the treadmill incline up to make your legs burn, then perform bicep curls, overhead raises, or dumbbell rows to work your arms and shoulders. If the treadmill isn’t your style, try a bike or elliptical. The combinations are endless!
- Incorporate circuit training or HIIT into your routine. Both of these workouts speed up your typical training, get your heart pumping harder, and ensure you’re burning calories the whole day through. In circuit training, you commit to a series of 5-10 exercises with no rest (think push-ups, directly into squats, directly into overhead dumbbell raises). HIIT (or high intensity interval training) is similar, but with this type of routine, you work as hard as you possibly can for 10-20 second intervals (say, sprinting), then rest for 40-50 seconds. The key here is intensity, so pump up the volume!
Overall, fitting exercise into a busy schedule is all about choosing to do something over nothing. Whether it’s calf raises at your desk or a quick morning jog, there’s always time to fit in a little something active. You can even just turn your daily walk upstairs into a quick workout! Fit in fitness this summer… despite your busy schedule… and enjoy.