CSA Box #6

I’m BACK!

 

Although, my return is not nearly as exciting when you realize that I didn’t actually go anywhere. I did spend some time dreaming about a cabana on a tropical beach, but reality is that life became so busy that I just needed to step away for a bit. It wasn’t a planned thing, I kept meaning to draft a post each evening, but it just didn’t happen.

So let’s catch up a bit…

My favorite little beagles stopped by for a visit.

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I love this picture because my little lab looks so mischievous as he was sneaking up on Shelby. Luckily they all got along very well, no alpha dog fights this time.

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One weekend I spent a ton of time (with some family help) on homeowner chores, like changing air filters, changing water filters, tinkering with the Air Conditioner (which is broken), ripping out the grass in the backyard and laying new sod, sweet talking my parents to come over first thing on a Sunday to take me to Costco so I could buy a new car battery, and building a temporary workbench for the garage. 

I’ve also rekindled my love affair with peonies which have been in abundant supply at both Trader Joes and Fresh & Easy.

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I’ve also been focusing A LOT on my eating and running which has been going REALLY well. I’m down 21 lbs as of Monday and I’m loving the food I’ve been eating lately. I’ve also signed up for a few races, but I’ll share more about that in a separate post.

Delicious yogurt and berries which only looks cool because of Instagram magic.

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This leads me nicely into my CSA haul from this past weekend, including another gorgeous bouquet which they crafted on the spot at the Farmer’s Market.

CSA Box 6_1

Goodies:

  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • cucumbers
  • string beans
  • summer squash
  • kale
  • basil
  • blackberries
  • oranges
  • avocados
  • strawberries

CSA Box 6_2

CSA Box 6_4

Fresh Blackberries!!

CSA Box 6_3

As I do with all my CSA boxes, I took a little time to wash, chop, and ‘save’ all the lettuce, berries, and basil. You can read more about how I extend the life of my veggies for the specifics. It’s the coolest trick, and a total money saver since I can’t go through all that lettuce in one week.

CSA Box 6_5

I also ‘vacu-save’ berries and yogurt into personal sized jars. I agree it looks a little OCD in my fridge, but it really doesn’t take much time. It makes meals during the week so easy. I just grab a yogurt and a berry jar, toss them together and I have a healthy breakfast/snack. The lettuce will last nearly 2 weeks this way and I can use just what I need on a daily basis. I have plans to turn some basil into fresh pesto as well as try my hands at Kale Chips this week.

CSA Box 6_6

Around the house, I’ve started on the foyer, the wall is painted and I’m working on painting the bookcases. I’ve also made progress on Spare Bedroom. As a reminder, the room looked like this…

Spare Bedroom Remodel - Before

The blinds are now down, window and wall moulding has been installed.

Spare Bedroom Moulding_1

By the way…Frog tape sucks!

I put this stuff up and within 20 minutes it had peeled completely off the wall and fell to the floor. Such a waste. 

Spare Bedroom Moulding_2

I still need to finish caulking the top of the window, then it’s time for paint! I can’t wait, I finally have a vision for this room and I’m excited to see it how it turns out.

Oh, and I recently celebrated the 2 year anniversary of moving into my first home. I plan on drafting up a recap of everything I’ve done to the house in those 2 years in the coming week.

CSA Box #5

Guess who’s back?

Brother and Sister Beagles

Yep, I have the little beagles again this weekend! So far, all the pups have done very well together, no alpha male fights like last time. Before they were dropped off yesterday morning I took a quick trip to the Farmer’s Market to pick up my CSA box. The weather was absolutely gorgeous yesterday, cool and breezy, I loved every second of it.

Turns out showing up at the farmer’s market when they first open is the way to go. I didn’t have any trouble with parking like I usually do, and was able to get in and out since I had to get back home quickly. I even had time to swap out a few items from the box. Usually I just take whatever comes in the selection, and enjoy trying new things; however, this week I had already planned out my meals and the cabbage and beets just didn’t fit into any of the meals. I knew I wouldn’t eat them so I swapped them for some tomatoes and some more spinach.

CSA Box 5

The goodies:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach (x2)
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Broccolini
  • Oranges
  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Strawberries (they forgot to include them in the box)

CSA Box 5

CSA Box 5

I also picked up a bouquet of flowers, but I’m an idiot and killed them in one day. I set them in a vase right as I got home just to free up my hands, but then forgot to go back and remove the plastic and add water. Doh!

Oh well.

A few people have asked if I am still doing the $40 grocery challenge…yes and no.

I am still keeping a budget, but I have raised it for the time being as I have changed my eating lately. I recently read The Skinny Rules by Bob Harper, and it is a great example of what I would like my life long eating lifestyle to be like. He lays it out so well, that it gave me the nudge I needed to get back on track. Not to mention I’ve dropped 10 lbs in the small period of time that I’ve been following the rules so far. Sure, it’s mostly water weight…but who cares. It’s 10 pounds! So while I shift over to a better eating plan, I find that I’m only buying meat, dairy, grains, or fruit/veggies. If you are a couponer, you know it is incredibly hard to find coupons for these types of things. I’ve been trying to find the happy medium of shopping sales and bulk at Costco to keep the costs low. Once I figure out a good balance, I’ll share more. To give you an example of what my shopping list looks like these days, here’s what I bought this week. All of the below cost $62 and I shopped at Albertsons, Trader Joe’s, and Henrys to take advantage of as many sales as possible.

  • Chobani Plain Yogurt (32oz) – I split this myself into smaller containers for everyday eating
  • Ground Turkey
  • Chicken Breasts (6)
  • Whip Cream
  • Eggs (1 dozen)
  • Pita Bite Crackers
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Snow Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Green Beans
  • Bananas (4)
  • Cilantro Dressing
  • Apples (8)
  • Blueberries (4 pkgs)
  • Strawberries (4 pkgs)
  • Parsley (1 bunch)
  • Sweet Potatoes (2)
  • Clif Bars (5)

I’ve also been using the FoodSaver to extend the life of things outside of the CSA veggies. For example, as a household of one, I only eat a few pieces of bread a week, so I pull out what I need and Save/Freeze the rest. Now a loaf of bread will last me a month instead of having to buy a new loaf each week. I do the same with hard cheeses (cheddar/parm) which I buy from Costco.

Have you read The Skinny Rules? What did you think?

 

Shared with: In Her Chucks

How To Extend the Life in your CSA Veggies

This chopped lettuce is 2 weeks old! No brown edges, green crunchy leaves…it’s a miracle!

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_3

2 months ago I signed up with a CSA (I pimp my CSA goodies enough that you probably know this). I get a Regular sized box every two weeks, but I quickly found that the fruits/veggies would go bad within a week. This was disappointing because I didn’t want to purchase a weekly box, but I was throwing food out every week since it would go bad before I could finish it all.

The easy answer would be for me to get the small sized box every two weeks, but doesn’t have all the stuff I was really interested in and again, it’s only 1 week of food. Before I succumbed to buying a smaller box (or cancelling all together ::GASP::) I decided to try out a technique I found on Pinterest.

This post by Salad In A Jar showed me how to can lettuce which I thought was genius, but I was still hesitant that it would really last the full two weeks. I was also a little apprehensive since I had never canned or ‘saved’ food before.

Tools:

All the items are completely reusable and rechargeable which I love. The Handheld Vacuum Sealing system also woks great with the Ziploc Bags which I also found at Target.

The process I followed is simple.

Step 1:

First I wash the lettuce in a water/white vinegar mix to remove any dirt and bugs. I found a snail in ahead of lettuce once so I never skip this step nowadays. I dry the lettuce using a small salad spinner and lay it out on a terry cloth to get rid of the excess moisture. Then I chop the lettuce and fill the jars, leaving some room at the top. For the purposes of this step by step, I resealed some chopped up cabbage since I didn’t have any extra fresh lettuce on hand for this post.

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_4

Step 2:

Place the seal lid onto the jar and then add the wide mouth jar sealer.  Place the handheld vacuum onto the top of the sealer, over the hole, and activate for 10-12 seconds (according to the instructions that came with the product).

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Step 3:

Remove the vacuum and jar sealer, add the canning rim and place in the fridge.

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_8

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_9

*Disclaimer – I’m sharing with you a process that worked for me. I’m not an expert in canning or ‘vacu-saving’ so please be sure to follow the instructions included with any products you purchase. Please use your best judgment when consuming a product that has been ‘saved’. Mine did last 2 weeks, but I cannot guarantee that everyone will experience that same result.

 

Now through the magic of television the internet I can show you lettuce that has been sealed for a full two weeks. Both the lettuce in the jar and the bowl is two weeks old. If I didn’t know that it was jarred lettuce, I would never had known the difference. While there were a few slimy pieces, it was only 2-3 and easy to pick out. The rest were crisp and fresh.

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_1

As you can see from a picture above, I did also successfully jar Kale and Cabbage with similar results. I’ve also used this method to save fresh green beans and snap peas that came in the CSA box as well. I ate those within a week so I don’t know how they would have fared at the 2 week mark. 

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_2

Like I said above, the handheld vacuum also works with the special Ziploc bags, which means I’ve been basically vacuum saving everything in my house lately…new fun gadget and all…

As 1 person, I can’t eat a whole loaf of bread before it goes bad. I also have been purchasing block cheese from Costco, then vacu-saving and freezing the excess to use in future weeks.

 

I have one other trick up my sleeve that is fairly inexpensive and can be useful for the fruit and herbs that come in the CSA Box, but that will have to be for another post.

 

What do you do to keep your CSA bounty lasting longer?

CSA Box #4

I have had such a great start to the weekend that I really don’t want it to end. I’ve crossed some major items off the to do list, such as repair window screens, take a load of old furniture to the dump, fixed my garage door opener, ran errands (i.e. grocery shopping), brought in the bookcases for the foyer remodel (more on this later), and enjoyed a wonderful meal with my mom for Mother’s Day. Lots of Fun!

I also stopped past my local Farmer’s Market to pick up my CSA Box.

This week brings some great ‘new to me’ goodies, such as braising mix lettuce and parsnips. Every week they offer to let me swap out anything I don’t want in the box, but I so far have refused to do so. It’s been so fun to get a mystery box and try all these new veggies. I hear roasting is the way to go with Parsnips, but I’ve also heard of mashed parsnips so I may try that as well. I also got a huge bunch of cilantro, red carrots, avocados, and grapefruit.

CSA Box 4_2

Various types of lettuce, including spinach and Chard, which I expect to use in a sausage soup this week.

CSA Box 4_5

Amazing Strawberries! I can’t stop snacking on them so I’ll be shocked if they last until Monday.

CSA Box 4_4

Lots of great stuff this week and I also found a way to keep the fresh food lasting longer, since I only pick up my CSA every other week. I’ll share more about this soon. I tested the method out with my last box and was able to keep some of the lettuce fresh for the entire 2 weeks. AWESOME!

Motivation – Nike+ Fuel Band

A few weeks back I took advantage of a restocking of Nike+ Fuel Bands online, and purchased one as soon as they went live. I had watched them sell out in minutes at previous launches and didn’t want to take the chance of missing out again. This particular band appealed to me primarily because it was a one time cost. As much as I love my BodyBugg, I wasn’t thrilled with their food logging system, and I had to pay a monthly fee. The Nike Fuel Band gives me similar data, without the monthly fee, and it’s also not quite as…let’s face it…ugly. It looks like a bracelet and blends in with my other jewelry so I can wear it with any outfit.  For food logging, I prefer My Fitness Pal which is free and has a comprehensive food database (and bar code scanner on the phone app).

So, a few days later I had the pretty little band  at my door and ready to go.

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The first few days I went about my normal business so I could get a baseline for my day. Since I have a desk job, I wasn’t surprised at the low numbers. I set my goal to hit 3000 Nike Fuel ‘point’s’, and on an average work day I was barely closing on 2000. Now that I have the reminder on my wrist, I can check on my ‘points’ (or whatever you want to call them) throughout the day and it’s a gentle reminder to get up and move around. With the band I find myself going the extra mile to move a little more throughout the day and that makes it worth every penny. I now find myself pacing during conference calls instead of sitting, I’m working out in the morning now to get a jump on the day, and if I’m running low at the end of the day I’ll jump around or dance in the living room for a bit. Those are things I wasn’t even considering before.

Here is why it’s working for me:

  • It’s not a diet tool, it feel more like a LIFE tool. Similar to how some people use a pedometer, I use this to motivate myself to move more.
  • It looks nice so I don’t mind wearing it all day, even when I dress up a little. In all honestly I stopped wearing my BodyBugg simply because I got tired of it showing under clothes. I have a few loose bracelets that fit right over the band and would barely know I have it on.
  • It tells time in addition to Fuel, Steps, and Calories so I don’t actually have to wear a watch anymore
  • Charges quickly using my computer, no batteries to change, and the charge lasts for days
  • Since I have a goal of 3000 ‘points’ per day, I find myself trying to hit goals throughout the day. I now workout in the morning so I try to hit 1000 before work, 2000 before close of business, and 3000 by bedtime. If I’m running behind during the workday, I might jump on the stationary bike in my office or jog up and down the stairs for a few minutes to both get away from my desk and move my body.

I’m not saying that anyone else should use this, or that it would work for you, but it’s a tool that is helping me get back on track.

 

*This is not a paid review, aside from once responding to a tweet, Nike doesn’t know I’m alive. I purchased the Fuel band with my own hard earned money and felt like sharing since it’s a tool that has been beneficial to me.

CSA Box #3

Before I share the goodies I got yesterday at the Farmers Market, I have to give serious kudos to the guys at the booth for making me this beautiful bouquet. As part of my CSA, I pick up a very large bouquet along with my fruits/veggies. This week, they didn’t have my flowers ready so they built one for me on the spot. Gorgeous!

CSA Flowers

CSA Flowers

  CSA Flowers

Ok, now on to the food…

 CSA Fruits & Veggies

Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Snap Peas, Strawberries…

 Carrots, Sage, Avocados, Cabbage. Lemons

Carrots, Avocados, Sage, and Lemons…

 Lemons and Sage

…Cabbage and turnips.

 Lemons, Sage, Turnips, Cabbage

There were a lot of good basics this week, lemons, lettuce, spinach, avocados, and berries. I love that the wild cards are the fresh sage and turnips. I have a butternut squash in the pantry that I think will go well with the sage, perhaps in a risotto. I think some fish tacos are in order for that cabbage, but I’m not sure what to do with turnips. Any suggestions?

I LOVE fresh sage, it’s makes a lovely little bouquet near by sink while think of ways to use.

 Fresh Sage Bouquet

It’s Official – Some Exciting News

So let me walk you through a little history before I share some exciting news.

In late 2007, I started training for my first Marathon, Rock n Roll San Diego. I got into the best shape of my life and was sticking to training/eating right. A few weeks prior to the race, I was out doing my long run, 20 miles, but things didn’t go very well. I had started out later then I should have, and the weather warmed up to hotter than I expected. Thankfully I had brought a credit card with me so I could buy water along the way, it probably averted a trip to the ER for heat stroke. The high temps and a lot of unexpected hills forced me to walk when I got to about mile 10. That’s when the blisters kicked in, all over both feet, and at some point I pulled a muscle in the arch of my left foot. Between the heat, blisters, and general body pain, I limped home those last few miles holding back tears. It was only then that I realized that I also had severe sunburns on my back and shoulders.

So yeah, things didn’t go well, and I still wasn’t healed up enough a few weeks later to run the marathon.

It ended up being okay, because instead of running a marathon in 2008, I brought home this little guy! (yes, that’s a cast on his tiny broken leg)

Chocolate Lab Puppy in a Cast

Who would later grow up to be this, not so little guy…

Chocolate Lab

Then things in my life kind of fell apart. However, I found out that I won an entry into the 2009 Nike Women’s Half Marathon. Due to all the crap going on in my life at that time I was excited but dubious. I didn’t train nearly as hard or eat as well as I should have; however, it was an AMAZING experience. It was my first Half Marathon and my only goal was to finish without being swept.

Nike Women's Half Marathon 2009

I did finish in just over 3 hours, and paired the race with a road trip up the California coast which made for an incredible vacation. My parents drove up to San Francisco to watch me run, and my mom told me that next time she wanted to do the race with me.

We have entered the drawing every year since.  No Luck.

17 Mile Drive, Carmel, CA

So here we are in 2012 and I haven’t been running much, by choice. However, we still entered the race drawing in the hopes that we would get in.

Imagine my surprise when I found an email in my inbox this morning welcoming me to the race in October!

NWM_header

 

Holy Crap!

So my exciting news is that my mom and I will be participating in the Nike Half Marathon in San Francisco on 10/14/2012. She will be training to walk the course, and since she walks at the speed of lightning, I’ll be training to jog alongside her. I am ridiculously excited about this, and we’ve already started planning a fun girls weekend this fall.

CSA Box #2

I’m still working on catching up on the posts from last week and I couldn’t pass up sharing the most recent CSA box. I’m constantly amazed by how different this food tastes over the stuff in the grocery store. I guess I didn’t really know what ‘fresh’ tasted like.

I ate all those strawberries within minutes of taking this picture, delicious.

CSA Box 2_1

Oh and purple carrots…VERY cool!

CSA Box 2_2

The snap peas were great in a stir fry and the avocados have taken a few days to ripen, but I ate the first one today. Like buttah! (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

CSA Box 2_3

The zucchini is turning into a Chocolate Zucchini cake tonight, I’ll let you know how it turns out. I’m also thinking of trying this recipe with the chard, looks pretty good.

CSA Box 2_4

I pick up my CSA box every 2 weeks, and while this food lasts longer than that in the grocery store, it still spoils quickly. I’ve been looking for a way to keep it edible just a bit longer. I heard about ‘green bags’ but reviews online didn’t look good. So I’ve picked two methods to try with my next box, I purchased a dehydrator which I hope to use for fruit and berries. I also bought a handheld vacusaver and wide mouth attachment so I can try this out. I can’t wait to try both and I’ll let you know how they work out.

I was tempted to change to the smaller box and pick up each week, but all the good stuff I want seems to only come in the regular size box. Any tips/tricks out there to keep fruits/veggies fresh longer?

Sharing the Love!

Linking To: In Her Chucks

DIY: Portion Control Plates

A few weeks back I was browsing through Open Sky and came across this portion control plate. I actually really liked the idea for those times when I needed a little extra attention to my eating. However, they were charging $30 for 2 plates, plus whatever shipping happen to be that day. So I would probably be looking at about $40, and I just can’t justify paying $20 a plate.

Glass Portion Plate_TanyaZukerbrot_Opensky

Portion Control Glass Plate (OpenSky)

*This picture is from Opensky and it’s wrong since they placed the protein in the large section. I’m not sure how this got past someone, because I don’t know of a diet where that would be an acceptable vegetable serving.

The point is to use the frosted lines as a guide and fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter of the plate with starch and the last quarter with a protein. Only I made my own for the cost of the plate since I already owned some etching cream.

Step 1:

Collect your supplies.

  • Simple Glass Plate
  • Armour Etch
  • Paint Brush
  • Painter Tape
  • Gloves/Eye Protection (The Armour Etch can cause burns so take proper precautions and be safe)

Portion Control Plates

*Please be safe when using this product. I would not recommend letting kids use this product, this is definitely an adult project for safety reasons.

Portion Control Plates

Step 2:

Using the painters tape, tape off the plate. Be sure to press down all edges of the tape to keep the Armour Etch seeping under the tape.

Portion Control Plates

Step 3:

Apple a liberal layer of the etching cream and set aside. I let it set for about 20 minutes before taking the next step.

Portion Control Plates

Step 4:

Carefully remove the tape and wash off the etching cream using lukewarm water. I wore a pair of dishwashing gloves for this step since I didn’t want to get the etching cream on my hands.

Let it dry and you’re done.

Portion Control Plates

I haven’t used etching cream much, but it’s not difficult. I did get some on my hands and didn’t have any negative reaction, but I still think it’s incredibly important to wear gloves just in case. Since the etching is on the bottom of the glass, the top is food safe. I read somewhere the glass will still be dishwasher and microwave safe, but it doesn’t state this on the bottle.

Portion Control Plates

Not bad for a $3 knock off of a $20 plate.

Portion Control Plates

I tried it out last night and loved it. Yes, if you’re great at portion control you won’t need a plate with lines, but for those times when I need a little extra help the lines are a good guide. I think this will come in handy.

Portion-Plate-After-1

(Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi, Brown Rice, Sautéed Brussel Sprouts and Spinach) It was delicious!

 

Project Cost Breakdown:

Clear Glass Plate (World Market) = $3

Armor Etch (Already Owned) = $0 (Hobby Lobby sells this and with their 40% off coupon it would cost about $5 for a small bottle) 

Painters Tape/Brush/Gloves (Already Owned) = $0

Total Project Cost: $3

CSA Box #1

This whole CSA thing is much more fun than it should be. I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed washing veggies and stocking my fridge as much as I did this past weekend. I didn’t get any pictures of the farmers market, but it was pretty impressive. Although I had a little trouble finding parking and the proper booth, next time I hope to arrive earlier and maybe even pick up a coffee and stroll around a bit more.

I’ve also realized that I need a much bigger fridge in my future home, this was A LOT of food.

CSA 3/31/2012

Red and Green Leaf Lettuce.

CSA 3/31/2012

Tomatoes

CSA 3/31/2012

Radishes and some Strawberries that didn’t quite make the picture. I’m pretty sure that I will never buy Strawberries from the grocery store again, these were incredible. No sugar needed, they were delicious. In fact, next time I’m buying more than what comes in the box.

CSA  3/31/2012

Cabbage, Sorrel, Swiss Chard, Bunching Onions, Lemons, Apples.

I found a recipe for a cabbage cheese bake as well as a Swiss Chard and Sausage stew. But I still don’t know what to do with Sorrel and those tomatoes. I’ve never seen tomatoes like that before, do you cook them? eat them raw?

CSA 3/31/2012

I’m running out of room in my fridge with all this fresh food.

CSA Fridge 3/31/2012

I also purchased a share of flowers to pick up each time I get a new CSA box. The bouquet was HUGE and really beautiful. In fact I broke it up and put them in two large vases. Well worth the $10 every two weeks. Hopefully they survive until my next delivery.

CSA Flowers 3/31/2012