101 Ways to Use Hatch Green Chile + Central Market Festival

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August is one of the most awesome months of the year! Never mind the sizzle of 100 degrees outside or the bittersweet emotions of back-to-school . . . .  it’s freakin’ Hatch green chile season, baby! Hatch Chile Festival at Central Market

Central Market invited me to celebrate at their Hatch Chile Festival  (running until August 22, 2017) and share my love for this famed pepper hailing from New Mexico.  Oh, you KNOW I was into this invitation like a salty tortilla chip in hot salsa! I tasted, I learned tips & techniques, I took home fresh Hatch and packaged products, and today I’m sharing all that and 101 Ways to Enjoy Hatch Green Chile Now & All Year!

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How to Soften an Avocado in the Microwave!

Are you ready to have your avocado-loving mind blow? In a pinch, you can soften a rock-hard avocado in the microwave in 2 minutes or less!How to Soften Avocados in the Microwave

Most of us know that firm avocados take a couple days or more to achieve that magical yet fleeting soft, creamy state, even using tricks like storing next to a banana, sticking in a brown paper bag, or even burying in a canister of flour. When you need a soft avocado STAT and not “someday,” this microwave trick (probably my best of many avocado hacks yet), will save the day. To find out how, read on! Continue reading

How to Age Proof Your Abs – Diet, Workouts, Wellness for 40+

The plain truth is, as we get a little older, it’s harder to make muscles and convince them to stick around, especially in the abdominal area. The potential for maximum muscle mass lasts until the 30s, after that it’s a small gradual decline in mass month by month, year by year. Gasp, experts say a sedentary lifestyle can result in a 3 to 5 percent decline per decade! This loss of muscle is often replaced by a little extra padding around the middle or “muffin top,” even if you are in good or reasonable shape overall. Plus, the hormonal changes brought on by peri-menopause or full-on menopause don’t help matters much.How to Age Proof Your Abs in 40s 50s and beyond

The quest for a flat mid-section or six-pack abs in middle age or older shouldn’t be about rocking a bikini or turning heads at the gym, although I guess these are nice side benefits – but, haven’t we moved past this ego feed?!  Instead, appreciate what a strong core through functional fitness can do for your daily living. Strong abs help improve balance, stability, back strength and posture, and, in my opinion, can make you feel and look 10 years younger.  A strong core also lessens the chance for injury from actual exercise or random stupid stuff, like twisting the wrong way while holding a bag of groceries, keeping up with your kids, or even playing with grand kids.  Read on to get the tips on How To Age Proof Your Abs Continue reading

How To Grill Nearly Every Vegetable from Avocado To Zucchini

Grilling season is here! It’s my favorite cooking method and I’m a lucky girl to live in a climate that permits it nearly all year. Most of us use the grill to fire up steaks, burgers, chicken and even seafood. But, don’t forget to grill your vegetables – flame-kissed, caramelized vegetables are magic! Adding grilled vegetables to your meal is the easiest way to win dinner, win compliment, and win the summer! Platter of Grilled Vegetables

There is no excuse to be stuck inside with a plate of steamed broccoli or sad salad when you can be outside kicking up the flavor. and your heels! You can grill just about any veggie, even lettuce and lemons! Read on to get vegetable grilling tips along with some great recipes.   Continue reading

Burger Tips, Hints & Hacks for Summer Grill Outs

When blessed with warm weather and three-day weekends, we grill burgers . . .I only wish there were more of the latter!  So, it’s no surprise that this Memorial Day, I will be rounding the family and some dear friends to partake in the worship of sunshine and flame-kissed, juicy burgers with all of the fixings.

Hamburger Party and Burger Bar Ideas

In honor of National Hamburger Month which occurs every May, I put together a tutorial on How to Make a Better Burger Bar for Beef Loving Texans (please check it out)!  I touch on the meat of that post here and add some new burger hacks and helpful hints here to take your burgerlicious summer cookout to the next level.

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How To Grill Avocados (That Don’t Turn Brown for Meal Prepping)!

I have a “how to” today that might make even the most super freak avocado aficionado faint – GRILLED AVOCADOS! Grilled Avocado

AvocadOoooohemmmmgeee, you heard me right! It’s amazing simple and insanely appetizing to throw avocados on the grates. Grilling this creamy, savory fruit gives it delicious bits of flame-kissed char and smoky swag that you just won’t find eating it in the typical fashion. Read on to get all the directions to this game-changing  avocado hack and find out why they take days (instead of minutes) to turn brown using this method.  Continue reading

How to Roast, Grill, Microwave & Slow Cook a Sweet Potato + Recipes

When I found out that today (February 22nd) was National Cook a Sweet Potato Day, I got really excited. It’s about time this delicious, nutrient-packed tuber got some attention other than in November. Packed with healthy carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients, sweet potatoes are perfect for your plate year ‘round. With at least 16 varieties grown in the U.S., including one of my favorites, the Stokes Purple Sweet Potato, I can’t imagine ever get tired of this vibrant veggie.How to Cook a Sweet Potato

Bake, microwave, roast, saute, grill, fry and boil are just some of the ways to cook a sweet potato. Eat them “as-is” with simple seasons or mash flesh to use as an ingredient in soups, side dishes, smoothies, baked goods and more.  So, are you wondering just exactly how to COOK a SWEET POTATO? Read on the find out the basic methods and get some of my favorite recipes:  Continue reading

Let’s Lunch! Smart Meal Prep Tips & Recipes #ReynoldsHeatandEat

Lunch, you gotta eat it no matter where you are – home, work, school, errands, gym, airplane. The issues getting in the way of my healthy lunch life are meeting up with friends who don’t have the same concerns about eating “food for function” as I do, finishing a workout that went well past noon and being so hangry that I could eat the entire Shake Shack on my way home, or being stuck on travel and having the only option be airport food. Note – I have a $25 Gift Card Giveaway at bottom of post. 

Lunch Meal Prep

However, I’ve found that with a little bit of front in effort I can prep my lunches in nice little containers for the week on Sunday – the payoff is obviously a healthier meal with ingredients approved by me, less crazy mornings gathering my grub up, and saving money – yes, saving money is good! It means I can pay all the high dollar fees for getting to and entering the races I love doing.

Meal Prepping Tips & Recipes for Lunch!

These are some basic tips that I use every week when putting together my meals and packing them up in to-go containers . If you’re a pro meal prepper, these tips may sound simple. But, if you’re new to the game of big batch cooking and assembly line prep, these useful ideas will help you get started!

Prep your protein.  The slow cooker and grill are my two go-to ways to prepare large batches of beef, chicken and pork for lunches (and dinners) through the week.   On Sunday morning, it’s so easy to stick huge roast or brisket in the Crock Pot and then walk away to enjoy the day. I use darn-big slow cooker (8-qt) so that I can make the most meat possible and have even been known to have two going at the same time! For the grill, Costco-sized trays of chicken or steaks not only are more economical to buy, but will hook you up for the entire week or month – depending on your family size. For fish, fill a rimmed, oiled baking sheet with your favorite filets or one huge piece of salmon and bake in the oven ‘til done!

Get your whole grains, beans & legumes going.  Brown rice, quinoa, and ancient grains hold up really well to making ahead of time and reheating later. Often, I find that pasta gets mushy during its second showing- not always though, whole wheat pasta holds up pretty well.  Use a large stock pot or rice cooker to get the job done efficiently – mine has a 20 quart capacity!   Another benefit of cooking a week’s worth of grains at once, less mess to clean up.

Switch up the sauces & mix-ins.  Often eating meal-prepped lunches can seem monotonous, choking down the same bland thing day after day. However, adding a small serving of sauce or handful of mix-ins is an easy way to transform the same old lunchbox staples into a wider range of flavorful meals – try pestos, Asian-inspired sauces, marinaras, salsas and so on! Even some fresh, no preservative salad dressings make a good option on hot and cold dishes. As for mix-ins, the little “extras” I rotate through include nuts, seeds, cheeses and dried fruits.

Use the right container.  If taking a salad for work, a large mason jar can be layered with ingredients. Keep the dressing on the bottom and delicate ingredients up higher, leaving a little headroom at the top so that you can shake it up right before eating.  I also like to take my soup in a mason jar, placing a layer of plastic wrap over the opening and under the lid to both help prevent leaking during transport and to serve as a splatter guard when reheating in the microwave – you don’t want to put that metal lid in there!  Hot meals can be reheated in a variety of containers, but I am partial to the Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers  (more deets below)– they hold a generous portion, are a great alternative to plastic and can be tossed in the trash so no messy containers to take home.  Store small portions of dressings, nuts, and cheese in baby mason jars, cleaned baby food jars, small plastic containers or snack-sized zip-bags.

Know your food safety rules.  When meal prepping for a week of lunches, remember most pre-cooked proteins and grains will only stay fresh for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge—I prep for Monday through Thursday and then do actually treat myself to lunch out on Friday! You can also prep your “plated” meal, or bigger bags of “ingredients” for assembly later, cool and place into appropriate freezer-storage containers – in the freezer, you can keep the quality for about 6 months.   I refer to this handbook of food storage safety tips from Real Simple magazine often.  If you can’t keep your lunch in the fridge at work, make sure you’re using icepacks than keep your food chilled until chow time.

Reynolds Heat and EAt disposable containers

As I mentioned, I am digging these Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers (I purchased mine at Walmart on the food storage aisle where you find foil, plastic bag, wax paper, etc.).  Available in two sizes, these toss-away lunch tubs are a great alternative to plastic and are made with plant fibers.  The clear lids allow you to see what you’re grabbing from the fridge, but need to be set aside during the reheating process. Reynolds Heat & Eat disposable container at Walmart

Reynolds Heat & Eat disposable ContainersCheck these out for yourself by picking up a pack of new Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat Containers at your local Walmart – found on the food storage aisle. They are very reasonably priced and you can even save an additional $1.00 on one pack of Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers with this coupon.

Here are some recipes to get you going:

roasted-tomatoes-in-turmeric-sauce“Go for the Gold” Turmeric Hummus  can be tossed with pasta or zucchini noodles for a healthy option to a creamy sauce – another perk is that there is also added protein.

 

 

Beef Blue Cheese Date Jar Salad is full of protein and Iron Super Iron Boosting Beef, Blue Cheese and Date Salad relies on pre-prepped sliced steak from the freezer (or freshly cooked) and layers up nicely in a jar for on-the-go lunching. I’ve even eaten this one in the car!

 

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.comMaple Pecan Butternut Quinoa is a delicious fall-inspired salad that can be taken to work or school and eaten warm or cold.  Here’s a little tip, double up when cooking the quinoa for this recipe and bag the rest in the freezer for easy dinners later.

 

Shrimp & Sugar Snap Pea SAlad with Lemon Gremolata easily packs into a lunchbox served cold.Shrimp & Snap Pea Pasta with Lemon Gremolata – This is another dish that is just as good cold as hot. If meal prepping for lunch, I always leave the delicate veggies raw so that when I reheat, they don’t become mushy!

 

 

 

 

15 minute Beef & Veggie Fried RiceBeef & Veggie Fried Rice: I typically use sirloin or flat iron steads for this one, but prepping to eat several days in a row, I will swap up the meats with chicken, shrimp or just simply extra scrambled eggs for protein variety.

 

Don’t forget to GET YOUR $1 OFF COUPON for Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers!

walmart-25-giveawayEnter giveaway for a change to win a $25 Walmart Gift Card so you can try Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers yourself! Ends 10/20/2016 at Midnight CT.

Enter via Rafflecopter app below:

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