Feed Your Face: Thrive Market and Eating Evolved

Raise your hand if you like food.

*raises hand*

Now, raise your hand if you like food delivered to your door?

*Hand still raised*

Keep that hand up if you like that delivered food to actually save you money AND benefit other people?

*Both hands in the air*

Well, my friends, have I got something for you.

For the past year or so, I have been a member of Thrive Market, an online grocer of sorts, and I’m a little bit in love.

Thrive Market is a membership community that uses the power of direct buying to deliver the world’s best healthy food and natural products to our members at wholesale prices, and to sponsor free memberships for low-income American families.

Thrive is great because it gives me easy access to a lot of the typically more expensive paleo ingredients that I use in a lot of my cooking. AND Thrive not only ensures that the consumer pays less than retail, they also provide healthy food to low-income families. How great is that.

Here’s how their model works:

It’s seriously so great. I place an order probably once every two weeks, stocking up on baking ingredients like coconut flour, maple sugar, almond flour, or condiments like Sir Kensington’s Special Sauce (I’m obsessed with this right now) and snacks that are sometimes harder to find in my local grocery store. I save a few pennies on my purchase (yay for me!) and I feel good about how my dollar is giving back (yay community!).

Which leads me to my next rave this week: I generally follow a flexible dieting plan (not an official program, I just track my macros and food myself in MyFitnessPal). The flexible part of this plan is that I can still treat myself so long as at the end of the day, my macro profile remains balanced. Granted, I don’t take this to mean that I should go balls out on donuts or cookies all the time, but there are definitely days where based on what I’ve prepared and planned to eat, I can have some kind of treat.

A lot of times, I want that treat to be ice cream. But lately, I’ve been treating myself with Eating Evolved chocolate. Eating Evolved explains:

We have a guiding principle that influences every decision we make — Chocolate: It’s Food, Not Candy. When chocolate is done right, it’s a delicious, antioxidant-rich superfood — a far cry from the commoditized, sugar-filled milk chocolate candies that line supermarket shelves. It is this principle that also drives our simple mission, which is to be the go-to chocolate for health conscious consumers. We know what it’s like to have nothing suitable on the market, and we work hard to solve that problem every day.

It’s Food, Not Candy. DUDE. That’s like… probably one of the most profound things ever said about chocolate. Which makes me super happy, because there are few things in this world that I love more than chocolate. Like, maybe two things. Clay and cheese. But even cheese is a toss-up.

All of Eating Evolved’s products are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free and they are paleo and vegan, which is totally rad if you’re looking for a treat that is compliant with some kind of dietary plan.

They have a number of delicious snacks, but my favorite by far are their coconut butter cups. These dark chocolate cups filled with coconut butter are to dieeeee for. My favorite flavor is probably the caramel & sea salt, closely followed by the classic… but mint is right up there, too. I usually get a few packets of these with my Thrive Market order, toss them in my freezer, and bust one out for an after gym snack.

I can’t recommend Thrive or Eating Evolved enough. Big ups to both of these companies for fueling my workouts and my life – deliciously!

A Food & Flowers Picture Post From Whole Foods

A new Whole Foods opened up, and it’s the closest one to my house! I’m excited because, well, Whole Foods, AND healthy eating is good, right?? So I got to go to a grand opening tour and I took tons of pictures and recorded it on Facebook live (at the request of Whole Foods Boulder/Longmont). So If you’ve never been to one, here’s what it’s all about!

First, let’s start with the floral department since it’s always by the entrance, and it’s my favorite of all floral departments in any grocery store. And because pretty. And we need some beauty in our lives.

Looks and smells like summer.

Then you walk through the produce, and I’ll let the tour guide take over from here. (Apologies for the spotty cell reception I was getting on my iPhone.)

Not bad, eh? I also love the personal care section. They have great bath items (I’m a fan of relaxing soaks), and you can even find the perfect gift.

It’s bar soap, folks. Handmade. Smells amazing!

LOVE this.

What Boulder smelled like when I was a kid.

And they also fed us, which always makes for happy bloggers. 

Whole Foods is really about the idea of LOHAS; Lifestyle of Health & Sustainability, and it’s reflected in their products and company policies and operations. Their mission statement says “… we offer a place for you to shop where value is inseparable from values.” So while they have a reputation for being pricey, which to be frank, can be true depending on the item, remember that with those extra dollars you’re supporting values like sustainable sourcing, fair wages for workers, and local farms to name a few.

What is your favorite store? Do you have Wegmans? Because I don’t and I want to know all about it!

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Recipe Box: Beef Stir Fry

Friends, today is a hard day. I don’t want to preach or soap box, but I needed to say that if you’re feelings are raw or your heart hurts or you’re feeling vulnerable this morning, know that you are not alone. I’m feeling that right alongside you – and I know that the best way to move forward is to take care of each other. We’ve all got each other, no matter our differences. We can heal.

I’m finding it hard to write with my usual sense of joviality today, but I do have a recipe to share, and it’s a good one and definitely hits the mark on the healthy/delicious scale. One of our go-to meals is stir fry, but its rare that we make it with anything but chicken. And if I’m being quite honest, I’m over all of the chicken. Too much chicken. All the time.

So, in meal planning for this week, we took a stroll through Costco and picked up a few cuts of meat that we don’t usually get, namely a massive amount of chuck roast. Which is perfect for throwing in the slow cooker and making things like Italian beefs, and, as it happens, stir fry.

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Ingredients:

Broccoli (4 cups, ish), chopped

Snow peas (a couple handfuls)

Whole red and yellow peppers, sliced

1 large white onion, diced

1.5 lb Chuck Roast

Salt

Pepper

Ginger (to taste)

Onion powder (to taste)

Cayenne (to taste)

Soy sauce

Teriyaki sauce

Sesame oil (JUST A LITTLE)

Kikkoman Stir Fry Sauce

Lime juice

Pull out your crock pot, tenderize that chuck roast to within an inch of it’s life. Seriously. Slice into inch cubes. Toss in the crock pot with soy sauce and teriyaki and a liiiiiittle bit of sesame oil. Also throw in your seasonings, to taste. Let that sit for… a few hours. Like, maybe four? Or five? Just let it ride for a while. When it’s broken down and falling apart, it’s ready.

When your meat is ready, get your veggies all chopped up. Throw them all in a wok (or sautee pan, whatever), on medium heat with olive oil covering the bottom. Add a few squirts of lime juice. Stir occasionally, making sure to evenly distribute oil and juice on all the veggies. Cook only until warm through – they should still be pretty crisp. Drop the meat on top, stir it up and feed your face.

You will have a BUNCH of foodz and in my house, that means leftovers, which are the best.

Recipe Box: Foodball Edition

When I sat down to write today, I really wanted to follow up on Jenn’s post about the Broncos and share my love of football too… but since I haven’t run a race in many months, I needed a different angle.

Enter food.

Of course.

Now that football season is in full swing and fantasy teams have been drafted, every Sunday at my house has become Foodball day. Clay and I spend Sunday mornings cooking and preparing snacks for the nearly ten people that pile on our couch starting at 1:00 to binge on beer, chili, chips and sports. (To be fair, I usually get a workout in on Sunday morning, so that the laziness of the rest of the day doesn’t catch up to me.)

foodball

He’s a Browns fan, but he humors me and cheers for the Packers, too.

The menu typically includes Clay’s Turkey Chili (which has no recipe… otherwise I’d share that with you today), Buffalo Chicken, guac, chips, some kind of dessert (last week I made Cleveland Brownies… get it?), pizza and other snacks. It ends up being quite a spread, but you need that kind of sustenance for 8+ hours of football viewing.

The chili is always a hit, but the sleeper favorite is the Buffalo Chicken. This shredded crockpot dish is a regular in our house because it’s so so so easy to make, and can be used in a lot of different ways. We like to put the shredded chicken on pizza, over salads, on a bun, in a wrap, or even eat it plain.

All you need is:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3-4)
  • Your favorite Buffalo sauce (we’ve used Frank’s and Wegmans brands and love both)
  • Ranch seasoning packet
  • Your crockpot. Duh.

Since we usually prepare our Buffalo Chicken for meal prep or parties, we typically use 4-5 chicken breasts, though you can just do 2-3. We usually go through a whole bottle of Buffalo sauce and a complete seasoning packet, but if you use less chicken, you just need enough sauce to coat and cover it a little. The seasoning can be cut in half, too.

Place your chicken boobs in the crock pot, cover with Buffalo sauce and Ranch seasoning, and cook on high for 4-6 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. You can start checking it after about 4 hours to see if it’s cooked through and ready to shred. I shred it in the crock pot so the chicken can soak up more of the Buffalo sauce, and then I keep it on warm when we’re serving to a group. If it’s for meal prep, I’ll shred it, leave it to cool down a bit in the crockpot and then move it to tupperware and the fridge.

Serve with tortilla chips, rolls, wraps or on pizza!

What’s your favorite tailgating or football food?

DIY Wedding: Cakes!

This time last year, I was blogging a lot about marathon training. And running. And lifting.

This year? There’s almost no running to speak of. I don’t have a race to train for and I’m enjoying finding all of the other ways my body can work – and trying to maintain a balance between work and extracurriculars and life.

I’m also knee-deep in wedding planning, which is proving to be a whole other adventure, let me tell you. A fun adventure, but definitely an adventure.

Because my fiance and I are trying to keep or wedding simple and small, and because we’re working with a very modest budget, we’ve decided to DIY a lot of it. Flowers, music, booze, desert, maybe even my dress. Fortunately, having a small wedding means that coordinating all of this won’t be terribly outrageous.

The thing I’m the most excited about DIY-ing though? The cake! I love to bake and while I had never made a wedding cake before, I felt pretty confident in my ability to figure it out. I’m no professional by a long shot, and I’m not even that well-versed in decorating, but I am preeeetttyyy good at following instructions and my Pinterest project success rate is super high.

In addition to baking a lot of cookies and bars and other treats, my primary preparation for this project has been to watch way too much of The Great British Baking Show (which is arguably the best show on television, and if you’re not watching it, what’s wrong with you?).

So, two weeks ago, while home alone for the weekend and having the kitchen to myself, I decided to get started. This is how much cake baking I haven’t done in recent years: I didn’t even own a cake pan. I went out and secured a couple cake pans and got to work.

So. Much. Butter. In. Here.

So. Much. Butter. In. Here.

This batter is so light and fluffy and YUM.

I started with a simple vanilla butter cake recipe, but I didn’t have the called-for cake flour, so I just forged ahead with AP flour and kept working. I also thought to myself “hey self, you’ve never tried to make fondant before, why not try now, since you have all of the ingredients.” I wish I’d thought to take pictures of THAT hot mess, because whoa. The mess was real. Melted marshmallows and powdered sugar literally everywhere in my kitchen. And then I threw together some vanilla buttercream frosting. The end result didn’t turn out half bad.

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The cake was slightly underbaked and a little bit more dense (thanks, AP flour), but the taste was great and everyone in my office who got to taste test enjoyed it.

For our second trial, I decided to play with flavors and still not worry too much about decorating or overall aesthetics. This time, I opted for some blueberry jam as the filling along with almond buttercream. No fondant this time and to keep it simple, I just did one size cake.

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I had actual cake flour this time around, so the crumb of this bake was a little looser, but the taste was just as good and stayed just as moist. The almond buttercream was a big hit and Clay (who famously doesn’t like cake) asked for an even bigger slice than the test one I gave him. He thought that there could be more blueberry – I tend to agree.

As the wedding gets closer, there will be more test bakes with a few more flavors and a greater attempt at decorating. Ultimately, I want a naked or semi-naked cake, so I’ll be working mostly with fruits and flowers to decorate. I’m still looking for other cake recipes, so if anyone has any reliable ones, I’d love to try them!

Recipe box: Peanut Butter Energy Bites

I’m all about the protein lately.

Cottage cheese, edamame, peanut butter and piles of grilled fish. I’m sure the bean in my belly has something to do with it.

So when I was in full nesting mode last week, I started whipping goodies up in the kitchen. Banana bread, roasted potatoes, baked chicken, pasta fagiole.

Then a peanut butter-looking concoction popped up in one of my social media feeds. I realized I had all the ingredients and set to work to make PEANUT BUTTER ENERGY BITES!

All lined up in a row.

Ready to try this super easy recipe? Here is what you will need:

  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2  Tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds (I used ground chia)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Cover, let chill in fridge for 30(ish) minutes.

Grab a handful of oats and a few chocolate chips and scatter them on a clean cutting board. Roll the chilled mixture into bite-sized balls, then roll over the cutting board for another layer of oats and chips.  My batch made 20 teaspoon-sized bites.

Store the completed energy bites in an airtight container in your fridge. ENJOY!

Even my brutally honest husband liked these. I’ll be making them more often for sure.

What’s your go-to protein snack?

 

Cotopaxi’s Journey to Good Health: Good Eats

I love food. Like, a lot. I love food so much, this is the second food-related post you’re getting from me this week!

But my focus this week is prompted in part by Cotopaxi, a company dedicated to making a positive impact on the world. Our friends there shared their mission:

At Cotopaxi, we’re all about encouraging people to get out, stay active, and do something good everyday. Giving is a huge portion of who we are, and as a Benefits Corporation, our hiking backpacks tend to be the most popular and create a big impact. We donate a percentage of every sale to various organizations that support global health initiatives, which is why we’re excited for all ways that we can promote better livelihood!

That’s totally rad, if you ask me! Not only providing equipment and promoting healthy living, but giving a portion of those proceeds to help fund initiatives dedicated to global health? Yeah, that’s a cause I can get behind.

When Cotopaxi contacted us, they also provided this cool infographic, highlighting ways to live a healthy lifestyle. I’m going to break it down over the next few weeks and share with you my favorite ways to do each of these things.

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This week? I start with Energy.

I talk a lot about healthy eating and meal planning and making sure I’m eating the right food to fuel my workouts. One of my favorite tips they offer is “focus on adding nutritious foods rather than eliminating food groups and specific foods.” Can I get an amen?! That’s probably one of the hardest things for people to understand, especially in a society that has been completely inundated with fad diets and nutrition styles. I mean, if you’re going to eliminate something from your diet, getting rid of soda and highly processed foods isn’t the worst plan, but entirely cutting out carbs? NONSENSE.

Carbs are fuel, guys! Your body needs them if you want to feel good and perform well. The same can be said for proteins and fats. And making sure you get lots of veggies in during the day? Yeah, that’s another awesome tip. Veggies are so delicious – and I’m always working on making sure I’m getting enough.

Homemade Turkey Burger on a bed of mixed greens and advocado. Mmmm.

Homemade Turkey Burger on a bed of mixed greens and avocado. Mmmm.

I typically work out 5-6 days a week, and my workouts are usually made up of a healthy mix of cardio and strength – and I usually go to the gym after work, before dinner. Consequently, if I don’t have a snack beforehand, I’m usually starving and have a crummy workout. I like to have something small before I head out just to make sure I’ve got the energy to work hard and feel good.

Some of my favorite things to snack on? There’s a variety! Lately, it’s been a Quest protein bar, an Rx Bar or a handful of trail mix. I try to find something that doesn’t have a ton of sugar and doesn’t make me feel too full – having an upset stomach during a heavy training day is no bueno friends. Sled pushes will turn into pukies otherwise.

Quest Bars are heavy on protein and light on sugar!

Quest Bars are heavy on protein and light on sugar!

Rx bars are great because of their simple ingredient list!

Rx bars are great because of their simple ingredient list!

To be fair, this trail mix is kind of candy...

To be fair, this trail mix is kind of candy…

These snacks are easy to keep on hand – I have some stashed in the pantry and at least one protein bar in my car all the time, just to make sure I’ve got fuel when I need it. My philosophy? Put good in and you’ll get good out. Fuel your body with good, healthy, well-balanced food and your body will reward you with solid performances in the gym, on a run, on a hike and in life!

Stay tuned next week for a fun yoga adventure, featuring my fiance, who has never really done any yoga before! #tryallthethings