Fitness Blogger Ashley’s advice on making healthy changes

 

A guest post from fitness blogger Ashley:

This past weekend was the third annual Brewer game tailgate with all of my cousins. I am so lucky to have them all in my life not just as family but as great friends. We always have so much fun together. I went into the day knowing that it was going to be one of those days where I would just enjoy myself and not worry so much about what I’m eating or drinking. These are the days I can reward myself for working out hard and eating healthy for the most part on a regular basis.

So anyways, enough babble about me and my eating habits and let’s get down to the main reason I decided to write about this event. There were about 41,000 people that were in attendance at the game. So let’s do a little math…if over 2/3 of Americans are either overweight or obese, that means that about 27,000 of those fans are struggling with some kind of weight problem. I looked around and I felt sad because of the way people treat their bodies and the struggles they must face everyday. 27,000 sounds like a lot of people which it is but that number unfortunately was not far off. It’s scary how unhealthy our world has become.

Our country has become a fast food, processed, synthetic nation and I think it’s only going to get worse. There are so many options at the grocery store with partially hydrogenated oils, aspartame and many other additives (side note: did you know that many brands of ketchup have high fructose corn syrup in them? probably not).  At this point, people don’t even know what they are actually consuming. Not many people read the ingredient dextrose and immediately know it’s another form of sugar.

This event made me grateful for the job that I have and the active lifestyle I lead and also help so many others lead. It makes me happy on a daily basis that I can have an impact on my clients whether it be a butt kicking workout or that extra motivation they needed that day. I’m helping people live longer, healthier and happier lives.

So what can you do to make some healthy changes in your life?

Here are a few tips that may or may not help you whether you’re looking to lose weight or just change it up a bit from the somewhat healthy routine you’re in.

1. Shop on the outside loop of the grocery store. Fruits, veggies, lean meats and dairy all have a tidy little place on the edges of the store. Pre-processed snacks and foods have landed a spot in the extended shelf life section of the store.

2. Shop organic when you can. Brewers Organics has opened my eyes to the wonderful world of delicious produce that I look forward to every week.

3. Farmers markets are in full swing right now so take advantage of the fresh produce and farm fresh products.

4. Avoid fast food restaurants. It’s easier said than done when you’re in a hurry but there is nothing good that’s going to come out of ordering many fast food meals. If you do need to eat on the fly, ask for a nutrition information packet before you order and make a healthy choice.

5. Focus on body fat percentage as opposed to BMI. Here’s why, when looking at myself, there are a lot of 5’6″, 160 pounds 28 year olds that don’t have nearly as much muscle mass as me, though, according to my BMI my healthy weight is around 140 which I’ve never weighed in my adult life nor will I ever for that matter. My BMI doesn’t take into account my lean to fat rate ratio which ultimately tells you what’s going on inside your body. For women, mid 23-25% is a good goal to shoot for as far as body fat % and for men around 18% is decent.

6. Get active. Get outside. Join a gym. Sign up for a 5k run. Park your car in the back of the parking lot and walk the distance in. Lift weights. Drink a lot of water. Use a juicer to get your fruits and veggies quota met for the day.

So go out there and make a change. Even if it’s just one at a time. Don’t become another statistic, take care of your body, it’s the only one you get.

Ashley

Katie is Juicing!

Ripe Fruits or Veggies? Juice it!
Juice-blog-9332

Some weeks are busier than others and that may mean eating out a little more than usual or making quick dinners in between checking off your “to- do” list. I for one tend to go in cycles of making a great dinner every night, to some weeks where I eat random snacks to add up to a meal.  My favorite quick go-to is half an avocado lightly salted. I eat it right out of the skin with a spoon! But one thing I hate to see is produce going bad before I use it! Perhaps that nectarine was too ripe or you just weren’t in the mood for plums this week. What I do before they go bad? Juice it.

Juicing foods has shown to be not only an awesome way to absorb all those rich nutrients in fruit but helps your diet and digestive track also. There are a ton of recipes out there for different combinations to try. However, I love just throwing in whatever I’ve got and seeing what I come up with. Always good staples to have are apples and lots of water to slightly sweeten any juice.  Pears are another great juicing fruit.  Berries pack a flavorful punch with just a few and adds beautiful color to it! Just remember to take out the pit of anything you throw into a juicer!

 

Juice-blog-9459

Some Favorites:
2 apples + 1 carrot
1 pear + 1 cucumber + a little ginger
1 apple + fist full of Blueberries + grapefruit

Mahi-Mahi and Veggies

Since the temperature has been getting nicer, I’ve been trying to use the grill more and spend time outside.  I had a craving for fish so I got some nice Mahi-Mahi fillets.  Everything else, except the rice, came from my Brewers Organics produce box.

I wrapped the fish in foil, lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, cilantro and olive oil and threw it on the grill for about 8-10 minutes.  While that was cooking, I steamed the broccoli and carrots from my Brewers Organics produce box.  I had a taste for something sweet to add to my plate and had recently heard of grilling fruit.  So I cut up some plums and just threw them straight on the grill too.  I sprinkled it with sugar and it was a very nice addition to our dinner!  It was a different way to try something new and we enjoyed savoring the sweetness of the plum.  Here’s how I put our meal together:

Mahi-Mahi:  seasoned and grilled for about 8-10 minutes (or until cooked through)

Broccoli & Carrots:  steamed, lightly seasoned with salt

Plums:  cut and grilled (face up) for a few minutes until soft

Rice and fresh tomato

It made for a very colorful and flavorful plate!  And I’m happy to say that my toddler loved it as well.

fish

Holly’s Recipes: Tart Dough, Ginger Peach Tart and Candied Ginger

 

A guest post from Brewers Organics customer Holly:

 

Peaches from Brewers Organics!

I discovered a delicious use for peaches that came in my last order from Brewers Organics…. A ginger peach tart!

I made the tart dough in my bread maker using the following recipe:

Yeasted Tart Dough with Olive Oil

2 tsp active dry yeast, ½ tsp sugar, ½ cup warm water, 3 tbs olive oil, 1 egg, lightly beaten, 3/8 tsp salt, 1 ¾ cup flour.

After 1 ½ hours the dough was ready to be set out to rise.  I put the dough on a plate and covered it with a clean towel and allowed it to raise for 45 minutes – 1 hour.  You can save the dough for 24 hours in the refrigerator.  That makes it easy to prepare the dough the night before and bake a fresh tart in the morning.

Once the dough is ready, whether you stored it overnight or are baking it the minute after it has risen, you can roll it out to an even thickness of 1/4 inch.  Roll it into a circle with a diameter of about 16-20 inches.  It helps to lightly flour the surface and the roller when you roll it out.  After rolling, gently place the dough in a tart pan.  Tart pans are typically 10-12 inches across and an inch or so deep.  The pan should be lightly oiled.

Filling the tart is up to you.  Almost anything will work, whether sweet or savory.  I have used Brewers Organics kale with herbs and goat cheese and I have even used the tart dough to make kale empanadas with muenster cheese.  But this time I prepared sliced peaches in a ginger syrup (see recipe below) and filled the tart with the peaches after simmering for about 10 minutes and then cooling.

After filling the tart I gently folded the dough over the filling, taking care to keep the thickness of the dough an even 1/4 inch.  I trimmed any excess dough and left a 3-4 inch opening in the center of the tart, exposing the filling.  After this, I gently brushed the top of the tart with a small amount of egg white mixed with milk.  You could use melted butter with egg, too.  Then I sprinkled coarse raw sugar across the top of the tart and baked it for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Needless to say, my entire family loved the tart when it was ready.  One of the best thing about this tart dough is the multitude of filling options.  The only things I have learned about the fillings are:  use fresh, quality produce and keep it simple.tart recipe
One last note…the Ginger syrup is a byproduct of making candied ginger!  It might be better than the candied ginger itself, though.  It is a simple recipe and here it is: 

Candied Ginger:
2 ¼ cups sugar, 2 cups water, 8 oz fresh ginger.
Peel & slice ginger thinly. Make a simple syrup – equal parts water and sugar, add ginger & cook 45 minutes until ginger is tender & translucent.  Drain out & save the syrup! Dry the ginger on a wire rack for 6-12 hours. Once dry, toss in a bag with granulated sugar

Apple Berry Crisp

 

apple berry crisp (1)

 

If there were a piece of chocolate cake and a piece of pie in front of me, I would choose the chocolate cake.  My husband on the other hand would pick the opposite, a piece of pie. I have to switch off making something I like and something he enjoys. I have a recipe for apple berry crisp that is a nice change from the chocolate and something my husband loves too. Our son, Mason will even eat it since he is such a fruit lover and it’s even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. It’s best straight out of the oven when it’s nice and warm.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups evenly cut slices of peeled green apples
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen berries  (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or strawberries) I used blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Fold together in a mixing bowl: apples, berries, flour, sugar and lemon juice. Place the fruit mixture in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

In another bowl, mix the oats, flour, sugar, melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Place flour mixture over fruit mixture and lightly press to make it even.  Bake for 30 minutes or until it begins to bubble.

Top with a scoop of frozen vanilla ice cream.

 

A tour of Kerri’s garden!

 

Kerri, Kerri, Quite Contrary…How Does Your Garden Grow? 

 

I can’t remember the rest of this nursery rhyme and I think it involved a girl named Mary, but I can tell you what I’m growing this year and how it’s going!  The first question I asked myself this year when planning my garden was “What does my family eat a lot of that I can grow myself?”  Tomatoes (chili and spaghetti are usually a hit), green beans, beets, Brussels sprouts (great baked with bacon and maple syrup), cabbage (I just can’t get enough coleslaw in the summer and I may attempt again to make my own sauerkraut), hot and bell peppers (both are a good addition to chili and my husband’s Thai dishes), lettuce and sorrel (for salads), eggplant and zucchini (both are so versatile and great for grilling in the summer!), basil (for homemade pesto) and chives.  The second question: “How much sunlight does each of these crops need and what does my garden offer?”  Our backyard faces west and is bathed in sunshine every afternoon.  With enough water, everything thrives (even a grapevine that is somehow growing out of the alley…I think it’s water source is the storm sewer).  Tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini have done quite well in the backyard strip for a few years in a row now so I’ve located them there again this year.  Note: I was worried about the tomatoes depleting the soil and considered doing some crop rotation, but growing in the same location has not yet proved to be an issue, so the tomatoes are staying put.  I’ve also potted some basil and placed it in the back garden, although I may have to move the pots to a more shaded location because the leaves are getting a tad scorched.  Pole beans in pots round out the backyard garden and aren’t too impressive yet since I just started those from seed.

kerri garden

 

kerri garden2

The front yard garden has always been challenging.  Our two raised beds get spotty morning sun because of a huge, leggy tree that calls our easement home.  The shade that the tree offers, although not great for our garden sometimes, provides great shade for the house!  Luckily, for the garden, the sunshine is a bit more constant come mid-morning until mid-afternoon.  Because of the limited amount of direct sun, I chose to locate the lettuce, sorrel, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, peppers and another round of pole beans in the front.  The chives are a perennial resident as well as some rogue lemon balm that I just can’t get rid of!  I think some acorn squash seeds have also sprouted from my compost mixture and are taking over a couple corners (I love a good mystery…crop).  Some of these crops could, arguably, do better with more direct sun throughout the day.  Rather than lament the size of my peppers and cabbage, if my yield is not state fair-worthy, I’ve taken to using the prefixes “micro”, “baby” and “fancy” to describe my bounty of tiny veggies!

 

It’s not too late to start your own garden this summer. Growing just a couple of your family’s favorite vegetables could save you some cash and it’s fun!  A lot of the crops I’ve noted can easily be grown in containers if you have an apartment or condo balcony.  To quote one of my favorite t-shirts : “gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes!”

Fruit Kabobs! A fun cure for the picky eater

 

At some point every parent struggles to get his or her child to eat. Well for us we find that Mason doesn’t like trying “new” foods.

Mason (1)

 

I say “new” because most of the time he has tried before, but it takes him multiple tries to finally realize that he likes it.  Now that summer is finally here we have many more fruits available to us.  Last summer Mason loved watermelon and cantaloupe. We got cantaloupe in our box a few weeks ago and we cut it up and he wouldn’t touch it. So we came up with a clever idea to make it more fun and interesting to eat, fruit kabobs.

fruit kabob

 

Mason loves strawberries, blueberries and bananas (what kid doesn’t?). I want him to eat other fruits because I know he will love them too! You can use any fruits for the kabobs. We made kabobs with grapes, cantaloupe and bananas.  Rinse and slice your fruit.  Use wooden skewers; if you have smaller, less careful kids, you can give them the skewers without the pointy end. Your kids (if big enough) can help you skewer the fruit and they can make their favorite combinations. The fruit kabobs are an easy, quick snack and the presentation is much prettier.

Meet our new guest blogger Kerri and learn about composting!

 

Meet our new guest blogger Kerri and learn all about her compost pile! 

 

kerri

 

Hi there!  I’m Kerri, an aspiring gardener, mother of one active little 4 year old boy (Aanon), Employee Benefits paralegal at a large Milwaukee law firm, and a woman who always has at least 12 projects going at any given time (I blame Netflix for that last one).  My husband, Nate, Aanon and I live in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Milwaukee and enjoy rummaging, refurbishing (my husband is an expert furniture refinisher and can turn any cast-off into a gem), exploring the outdoors (soon to be even more exciting with the recent addition of a metal detector!), gardening,  living on the cheap (homemade laundry detergent, anyone?), and camping (I’m actually the only one that enjoys camping…oh well).

 

Why the love of gardening? When I was little, I spent a lot of time during the summer at my paternal grandparents farm in Fort Atkinson, WI.  I loved helping with the large garden that my grandmother maintained and enjoyed helping with the variety of other chores that went into running the farm.  It was a wonderful place to explore and far different from my suburban Milwaukee neighborhood.  Although I live in the city now, I’ve tried to turn my city acreage into my own little farm (we don’t have chickens…yet;)).  And gardening is a great experience my son and I can share…from the first sprouting seed of spring to preparing the garden beds for winter.   I hope to share some tips and tricks with you that I’ve learned and continue to learn about gardening and urban homesteading.

 

Compost Can Happen…Even in the Alley

 

Every Friday, my son and I eagerly open our box of fresh fruits and veggies from Brewers Organics.  “What’s this?,” Aanon asks me eagerly. “Kale,” I reply.  The inventory goes on until our box is empty and its colorful contents are packed into every available nook and cranny of the fridge.  As we chop and slice, sauté and roast throughout the week, the peelings, cores and various inedible bits pile up in a small white metal garbage can in our kitchen in preparation for their next life as soil!  Throughout the week, we dump our “dirty food,” as my son calls it, into a larger black bin that we keep tucked away at the end of our dead end alley.  In addition to food scraps, we add coffee grounds, grass clippings and other yard waste (we don’t fertilize or treat our lawn with pesticides) to our compost stew.  We try to stir up the bin contents as often as we remember to which helps aerate the pile and speed decomposition.

kerri compost

 

“Don’t raccoons get into your compost? Doesn’t it smell?,” you might ask.  We make sure to securely cover our compost bin to ensure no furry neighborhood scavengers steal some of the less decomposed scraps and take care not to mix in any meat or dairy products, which can become rancid and further attract animals.  “How do you know when the compost is “done”?”  The time it takes to fully cure compost depends on size of your compost pile, temperature, and proper balance of nitrogen rich (food scraps) and carbon based (yard waste) materials.  I mix my compost (usually partially cured) into my garden beds in the fall and heavily mulch the beds with autumn leaves and vines of squash and tomato plants that are done producing for the season.  This method allows for continued decomposition over the winter months and hasn’t, in my experience, attracted any animals over the winter months.  In spring, I’m greeted with great soil that’s packed with worms and ready for planting!

 

Are you ready to start composting?  A quick web search yields many manufactured compost bins for purchase and do-it-yourself plans to make your own compost bin out of wood pallets or other wood scraps.  You can locate your new bin wherever it’s convenient for you.  If you have a large yard, you can place your bin in your yard and the soil beneath it will be enriched…a great place to start a garden the following year.  Move your bin year after year and create more fertile garden space!

 

Composting is a great way to give your Brewers Organics produce scraps a new life and keep the growing cycle going!

Quinoa with Artichoke and Parsley

 

 

 

A guest post from fitness blogger Ashley:
I hope all the dads out there had a wonderful Father’s day; especially my dad, step dad and brother who are all wonderful fathers and I am unbelievably grateful to have each of them in my life. 

There’s only one more shout out that is going to happen in this entry and that goes out to yet another superfood that is packed with a lot of awesome, the lovely quinoa. 

Contrary to what most think, quinoa is a seed, not a grain. It is actually in the same food family as swiss chard, spinach and beets.  One cup of quinoa contains 40 grams of carbs, 8 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fat.  It also has 20 percent of our total daily value of fiber.  It is one of the few plant based food sources that has all eight essential amino acids as well as an adequate amount of protein. Sounds like a vegetarian’s dream food to me. 

I am a big fan of quinoa because although it is not a grain, it is a good substitute for rice because it has a similar taste, just a different texture.  It can be eaten cold mixed in with a salad or hot as a side dish with your favorite spices. 

One of my coworkers shared with me one of her top quinoa recipes that I would like to pass on to you.  Quinoa by itself is very simple to make so just tack on a few more ingredients and you have a full meal that tastes delicious and doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to prepare.

Quinoa with Artichoke and Parsley

Ingredients:
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 can artichoke hearts, the recipe calls for frozen but I couldn’t find them anywhere so I used the canned ones.  Make sure to rinse the hearts to get rid of excess sodium.
1 c. low sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. quinoa, uncooked
1 c. fresh parsley, chopped 
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. kosher salt. 
*I also added in frozen edamame to incorporate more veggies.

1. Saute onion and thyme in olive oil for five minutes until onions are tender.  Add the artichokes and edamame and saute for 2  more minutes.  Add broth and quinoa and bring to a simmer. 
2. Cook for 18 minutes or until liquid is completely absorbed. 
3. Remove from heat and stir in parsley,lemon juice and salt.  Serve warm or room temperature.  Enjoy the deliciousness.

Now if I could just figure out what to make with my yellow squash, arugula and mushrooms this week…well whatever I come up with, I’m sure it will give me something else to blog about. Happy quinoa making everyone.

Cilantro Lemon Tuna Salad

A guest post from Katie:
A delicious twist on a classic and easy lunch or snack. Like most recipes we make, they are largely impacted by what is available in my fridge, and this week I had cilantro from our previous Brewers Organics delivery! My husband snuck in some cilantro when I wasn’t looking and I was pleasantly surprised by the combination! He substituted the cilantro for what I usually use; celery for a bit of green and refreshing zing.

 

Cilantro Lemon Tuna Salad

2 cans of white tuna in water

1 tbsp of mayo (or light-mayo)

1 lemon (cut & squeezed)

1/4 cup of chopped cilantro

salt & pepper to taste

 

In a large bowl, mix the tuna and lemon juice. I usually mix the lemon juice in first to let the tuna absorb the favor. If you’re not a huge fan of the refreshing taste it gives, you can do 1/2 a squeezed lemon at first and add to taste.

Mix in your mayo slowly, this can also be to taste and texture. If you’d like a dryer tuna salad, this will be just enough, otherwise add a little bit for a creamier texture.

Add in your chopped cilantro and mix well.  For an extra refreshing crunch, add in a bit of celery.

Serve with crackers or as a sandwich & enjoy!