What better way is there to welcome Fall then cooking up a hearty meal with pork chops and apples! It's a winning combination and with premium quality meat it just gets loads of extra points for flavor and tenderness of the meat!
I've recently got my first Butcher Box and I'm totally devoted to telling all about it to my friends and followers. Having a busy life is no longer an excuse for not getting high quality meat! With the Butcher Box subscription service you can get a box of 100% grass-fed, grass finished beef, heritage breed pork and free range organic chicken delivered to your doorstep every month or every other month, whatever option fits your family the best.
You can personalize your box and mix your favorite cuts of meat in order to fit it to your household and you can always choose some add on's like no-sugar bacon, which has been a staple at our house since I've done my first whole 30 program. I truly recommend this because with our busy schedule it can be hard to have the time to go to the butcher and buy great quality cuts of meat - with this service you are sure to get what you order and, if you're a meal planner like me, it just makes our life so much easier!
You know what cuts of meat you're getting so you can plan ahead and write down your meals for the week; apart from that you'll just need to make your produce list and make a run to the farmers market or your local supermarket to get the rest of your ingredients for the week's menu.
It'll come out at approximately $6/serving which is a great value for such high quality meat and, as you can see in my video that I'm sharing in the link below, the steaks are huge as are the pork chops, so you'll get a few meals out of those cuts! Also, the chicken breast comes in 3 pre-portioned packs so you can use them independently and cook them on your meal prep in different ways so you can have different options to choose from during the week. You can cook up some chicken soup with one of the packages and grill some strips for the week's lunches and lunchboxes and still be left with a package left!
On my first order, that I shared in this video, I got:
If you're interested in giving it a try and signing up to get to know a bit more about Butcher Box, just click here and, if you subscribe the service until the end of September, through my link, you'll get FREE ground beef for life!
How cool is that?
With this offer you'll get, with each box that gets delivered at your house, 2 lbs of 100% grass-fed and grass-finished ground beef for free! Just imagine the variety of meals you can cook up with ground beef, specially in the colder months: soups, chili, meatloaf, lasagna...so many options! So, don't waste a minute and click on the link above to get your offer but don't forget that you only have until September 30th to do it!
As soon as you get your first box you can try this recipe for yourself! Grab your Butcher Box now and start meal planning for the next month!
4 boneless pork chops (I used the "Butcher Box" heritage breed pork chops)
4 big white potatoes
1 small butternut squash (about 1+1/2 cup)
1 lbs Brussels sprouts
3 large Gala apples
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
a few sage leaves for the pork
1 - Preheat the oven at 400 F.
2 - Prepare the vegetables to use them cover the baking sheet. Wash the potatoes and cut them in chunks, peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds and cute it in small pieces. Wash the Brussels sprouts , remove any damaged leaves and cut them in half or in quarters if they're too large. Try to have all the vegetables in same size pieces so they'll cook evenly.
3 - Place all the vegetables in a big mixing bowl and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and fresh thyme. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and mix everything in order to get a bit of it in all the vegetables; if necessary add some more. Add half of the paprika and give everything a last toss before transferring the vegetables to the baking sheet, previously brushed with olive oil.
4 - Wash the apples and cut them in fourths. Take out the core and seeds and slice them, keeping them in a bowl of water with lemon juice until placing them on the baking sheet, so they won't oxidize and turn brown. When the vegetables are on the baking sheet place the apple slices around the tray and between the vegetables, after removing them from the lemon water.
5 - Place the pork chops in a glass container or bowl and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and thyme leaves. Add a bit of olive oil and the juice of 2 clementines and 1/2 lemon.
6 - Place the meat over the vegetables and cover it with any remaining juice. This will help the pork chops to cook without making them dry and keeping them juicy and with a lemon/orange hint flavor. Place some sage leaves on top of the pork chops and place the baking sheet in the oven. Cook for about 25 minutes or until the meat is cooked.
7 - For plating just take a bit of everything and slice the pork chops in medium slices. the ones I used were big, so 1 was enough for 2 people. Get the vegetables on the bottom of the plate, cover with the pork chop and sprinkle some freshly chopped cilantro for a hint of green. Use any remaining juices to drizzle over the meat.
This was the perfect recipe to welcome Fall of 2018! The roasted veggies, the flavorful and tender meat, the apples and the sage were a superb combination of warm and cozy flavors.
There's so much simplicity in sheet-pan meals that they really are one of my go-to's for busy schooldays - getting all the ingredients together and popping everything in the oven while everyone gets settled from school and sports activities is perfect!
No weeknight dinner stress and mommy gets a load of compliments on the healthy and hearty meals cooked for the whole family.
Just to give you a notion of the number of meals I got from this sheet pan dinner, it was enough for one meal for all of us, another for my lunch the next day and I still got three more individual servings out of it. All in all, 7 servings which was pretty good for the price that I payed for all the ingredients. That is one of the other reasons why I love sheet-pan dinners so much, they really stretch the food out!
Give it a try and let me know what you think of this recipe!
Happy Fall everybody!
Lets talk about a very particular organ meat - liver!
I, personally, love it and have been eating since I was a child. Back in Portugal my mom always cooked several kinds of organ meat, occasionally, like tongue, liver and kidneys and I've always appreciated eating those kind of dishes.
Some people find it having a very strong taste and, if you do so, you can always leave the liver soaking in milk for about an hour or two before cooking. This will soften the taste, for sure. I usually don't do that because I like it just as it is and so does my husband. The kids usually like it when I make it simple, just grilled, but today I'm trying them out with a mushroom gravy, so lets hope they like it too!
Having a diverse diet is very important in order to get all the vitamins and minerals that our body needs to keep functioning well, without any deficiency. Organ meats are particularly rich and they are the most concentrated source of almost every nutrient, including important vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and essential amino acids. Even if you usually don't buy this kind of meat give it a try and start be testing this recipe and see if you want too try the other meats as well. I'm trying to get some good quality kidneys and tongue, through my usual local butcher, so I can show you some recipes to incorporate them.
I also find it curious that I tend to cook up dishes like this during the colder season. They are easy to incorporate in comforting dishes that make up for a wholesome and nourishing family meal and that's what we are suppose to look for in a season where our body may be most susceptible to imbalances. They go very well with a variety of vegetables and make it easy to use sweet potato, broccoli rabe and cabbage as side dishes to help balance things out.
For this recipe I decided to use the oven to roast the carrots, a pot to boil the potatoes and a big pan to cook up the liver and onions. Also, a small pot for the gravy! This may seem like a lot of tools and equipment to go through but if you start roasting the carrots first, you'll be able to start the liver and onions and boil the potatoes at the same time, it's just a matter of getting everything together and in the same place so you have everything you need at hand.
You can also roast the potatoes alongside the carrots and that will be perfectly fine, too! I just prefer this way to cook the potatoes and the last time I cooked them my kids asked for seconds because they came out so good. It's a very simple but delicious side dish!
1 lbs fresh liver
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions
2 garlic cloves
2 mushroom gravy cubes (I used this ones, from ...)
2,5 cups water
1/2 lb Bella mushrooms
BOU mushroom gravy (check it out, here)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1 bunch of carrots
1-2 Tbsp honey (I used the Bee Seasonal "Aroeira" variety)
1.5 lbs small potatoes
Salt and 1 tsp garlic powder season the potatoes
1 - Start by preheating the oven to 400 F.
2 - Wash the carrots and cut out any bad buts that you might find. If you're using a bunch of carrots, like I did, take some time to wash the greens thoroughly because they can be really earthy and you have to get all of that dirt out. Pat them dry and place the carrots on a baking sheet - season with salt, garlic powder and brush or spray with some olive oil. Cook for about 35 minutes.
3 - After placing the carrots in the oven start cooking the other components of this dish. Get a medium pot filled with water, add some coarse salt and boil the potatoes for about 15-18 minutes, checking the tenderness of the potatoes with a fork to check when their cooked. Strain the potatoes and add about 2 Tbsp of freshly chopped parsley, tossing the potatoes around the pot so that the herb gets evenly distributed throughout all the potatoes.
4 - Cut the liver into strips and cook them in a non-stick pan, coated with some olive oil. Cook the liver in batches not to overcrowded the pan and season the meat with salt, garlic powder and freshly ground pepper.
5 - While the meat is cooking cook up the gravy in a small pot. Add 2.5 cups of water, 2 cubes of BOU mushroom gravy and turn on the heat, on medium, until the cubes start dissolving into the water to form the gravy. At this point you'll have to whisk it to make sure yo son't get any lumps in the gravy. Turn the heat off and return to the meat.
6 - Remove the cooked meat to a glass container or plate and add some more olive oil to the pan to cook the onions. Saute the sliced onion and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and fresh thyme leaves - I absolutely love thyme so I use a lot of it, just use the amount you're use to and you'll get a pretty flavorful caramelized onion. It took me about 15 minutes to cook the onions, in medium heat.
7 - In a big pot place the cooked liver strips, the onions and the gravy. Mix this all together and cook it up a bit more, in slow heat, for about 20 minutes. Check the seasonings and rectify, if needed. I just added a few more sprigs of thyme.
All you have left to do is drizzle the warm roasted carrots with the honey for a sweet touch and your meal is ready to plate.
I found the sweetness of the carrots to pair perfectly well with the distinctive taste of the liver meat. It is a perfect combination and adding perfectly boiled and aromatic small potatoes just makes this meal even more amazing!
This recipe will be on my go-to list for cold weather meals and I'm already thinking about some more comforting meals to whip up and show on the blog. Soup and stew season is upon us so I guess I'll be sharing some yummy suggestions for our fall welcoming in the upcoming weeks.
What about you?
Do you and your family like eating liver and incorporating it into your family meals? I'd love to know what you think and, if you happen to give this recipe a try, please let me know what you though of it!
The weather has been changing around here and the cooler days had me craving a warm and cozy bowl of rice and beans! On a rainy day what can be better than sitting on the couch with a warm meal made from wholesome and natural ingredients?
Most of the times I find simple recipes to be the best ones - they are so effortless but yet so rich and tasty! Another thing that makes me life easier during the week, and specially on the colder months, is my Instant Pot. I love it and use it all the time to steam vegetables, cook up a batch of soup or make delicious stews and dishes like this one.
Some people have been asking me about my Whole30 experience and if I'm still eating the same way now. I'm not - however, I've changed my relationship with food, which was one of my main goals by doing it as well as finding trigger foods for my chronic migraines.
I don't use food as an emotional backup and I can perfectly control what I eat without feeling pressured or deprived: I eat what I feel like eating and the only thing that still is somewhat forbidden to me are chips...I seem to have to eat them if I have them around, so the trick is NOT to have them around, it's as simple as that! It is not only because I feel like I can eat a lot of chips at once but also the fact that, after eating them, I don't feel that well and that is enough of a reminder that they are not good for me and so, I should stay away from them!
And now, the recipe for this scrumptious and simple meal.
1 pack of spicy sausages
1 cup basmati brown rice
2 large carrots
3 celery stalks
1 small can of red beans
4 cups + 1/2 cup bone broth (I used the "Osso Good Bones" classic variety)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp Primal Palate Jerk Seasoning
freshly chopped parsley
organic fresh spinach leaves
1 - Start by peeling the carrots and chopping them into bite size pieces. Wash and cut the celery stalks into small pieced and add these vegetables to the stainless steel pot, from the Instant Pot.
2 - Add the basmati brown rice and about 1/2 chopped parsley to the pot and season with the spices, salt and pepper.
3 - Cover all the ingredients with the bone broth and give them a stir to get everything well combined.
4 - Put the cover on the pot and seal it until you hear the lock sound. Place the vent attachment in the cooking position and set the Instant Pot on the Rice mode for 15 minutes.
5 - While the rice is cooking cut the sausage into medium sized pieces and saute in a non-stick pan. I didn't use any fat because the sausage has enough fat that gets released during the cooking process.
6 - After the "Rice" program has ended use the quick release method to release all the pressure from the inside of the pot and when the valve drops it is safe for you to open the lid. Open and check that the rice is cooked; if it needs a bit more time to cook just close the lid again and let the rice sit for another 5 minutes, it should be enough to get it a bit softer.
7 - Serve up this comforting dish in a bowl and add some extra veggies if you like! In my bowl, I placed a handful of fresh baby spinach - when I placed the rice and beans on top of it the heat from the rice was enough to get the spinach a bit cooked but leaving it still with a bit of a crunch, which I particularly love! Sprinkle with some fresh chopped parsley for a fresh touch and an aromatic finish which goes perfectly well with the warm spicy sausage.
After getting my rice cooked I, immediately, transferred it to a large skillet to prevent it from overcooking with the residual heat from the Instant Pot. As for the amount of food cooked on this meal, it was enough for 7 individual portions which was great for such a simple and economic dish.
That is one of the major advantages of using rice as base for a meal - it does stretch the meals and 1 cup of rice goes a long way!
This is a very nourishing meal and you can use your favorite veggies or sausages to adjust it to your family's preferences. If you'd like just keep it vegetarian, adding bell peppers or butternut squash, for example. I'me acostumed to brown rice and it's the only kind I eat now, after my Whole30 - apparently I'm getting the whole family on board which is, definitely, another WIN for this mommy!
My last blog post was about a week of school lunches for my 7 year old daughter that I'm packing on the Yumbox lunchbox. We just got it for this school year and she has been loving it - the fact that it has different compartments and colors helps her to find lunch even more exiting than before!
I'm also thinking about getting a second tray to use when sending sandwiches because they will fit better in a 4 compartment tray which has a bigger section for the sandwich. Until then we have been using sandwich cutters to make them fit in the current tray and we have also been experimenting and using different colored veggies, fruits and protein sources to make lunch fun and exciting.
This is the one that we have now and it's really easy to use and to get the kids involved in choosing what to get in their lunch and to build the lunch for themselves, which is another advantage. The tray is removable and easily washable and I haven't had any issue with it, so far so good. I really recommend it, specially if you have picky little ones because I think the drawings and the colors will help them get more curious about food and lunch time.
For my 10 year old I finally decided to go for a Rover Planetbox lunchbox. I had been hearing about it for a long time but the price tag was a bit high for me and I've always turned the idea away. I got to read a lot of reviews about it and the more I read the more I thought it would be a safe bet even with a higher price tag than other lunchboxes - it's made of stainless steel and it will last you for a lot of years instead of having to change lunchbox every other year or so and, another great plus for me, it won't get stained and it's super easy to wash.
Also the lunchbox comes with a set of magnets to place on the front of the lunchbox. My son asked for the blue ones but, a few years down the road, when it gets passed on to my daughter she'll be able to pick her own set of magnets and make this lunchbox her own, which is great.
The compartments make it also very easy to plan the meals in. Just choose your protein, veggies, fruits and snacks and place them in the different compartments. There's also a small round container with a green silicone lid (great for dips and sauces) and a medium one (great for sending some pasta salad or a snack for snack time).
Having a great, durable and resistant lunchbox is one of the main aspects to being able to make your own lunchbox prepping routine. I chose these ones and I'm super happy with them, I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a durable and reliable option. The Rover lunchbox is available on Amazon and you can get it in a kit that includes the magnets and the lunch bag to carry the lunchbox - you really need it to make sure that your children can carry that lunchbox safely and with the correct amount of space in it!
Besides choosing the right lunchbox for every children you can also make your daily chore of prepping lunch a bit easier by setting up a lunchbox station in your kitchen. I did it by re-purposing a little carrier that I got at Target about a year ago and using it to hold all my lunch prep essentials.
I use it to keep the stainless steel reusable water bottles, sandwich cutters, little plastic forks for the smaller items in the lunchboxes, cloth napkins and stainless steel picnic knifes, spoons and forks, my recyclable sandwich bags (I've been using the LunchSkins* ones for about a year now and we love them), reusable snacks bags, YoToGo insulated little pouches** (to keep yogurts cool with an ice pack on top) and the lunch bags.
Having everything in one place keeps things simpler and easier for me when prepping lunches everyday.
This is my lunchbox station and it has really helped me to get meals ready way quicker and with so much less stress than before! Get everything together in one place and you'll see what a huge difference it makes. Just find a way to get all those things organized in a way that will make your routine easier and stress-free.
For now I think those are the main things that you should focus on for your lunchbox lunches routine:
I'll now show you a week of Rover Planetbox lunchbox lunches so you can get some more ideas on healthy solutions easy to carry in the kids' lunchbox to school and maybe make them their own by adding or switching some of the ingredients by some of your family's favorites. These lunches were made for my 10 year old son who is currently in middle school - according to his own words "the amount of food was just the right one for the time they have to eat" so I guess we'll just keep it at that.
He also has a snack in the morning which is usually a piece of fruit, pretzels, yogurt or an apple sauce.
I usually prep my ingredients, like fruit and veggies, on Sunday but I like to cook or prepare my animal protein sources as I go. Except for eggs, that I usually boil and store in glass jars in the fridge, all the meat and/or fish gets prepared the day before I need it - I like it for food to keep its best flavor and texture and I might be able to do that if I properly prepare my meals ahead by planning and organizing my shopping trips correctly.
On the first day of the week we started off with this nourishing lunchbox:
As I've mentioned before I think I've found THE perfect almond butter! I'm so in love with it that I keep telling my friends to buy it too...seriously, you need to try it for yourself to understand that the texture, the flavor and the creaminess of this natural almond butter is something that you won't find anywhere else!
Find it here and let me know what you think of it after you give it a try!
Also in the Monday lunchbox I got my son a package of Seasnax roasted seaweed that he loves taking to school, either for snack or for lunch. It's super crunchy and it has an amazing natural flavor that we've learned to incorporate in our daily diet. The whole family loves it!
The lime flavor is my favorite and I can't wait to get some packs on my next shopping trip because I'm out of them and I love having them as a daily snack!
Check here the flavors and packages available:
For the second day of the week we decided on a sandwich to make things simple just by adding some fresh fruit and veggies to the mix! I like to use whole grain breads like Dave's Killer Bread which was the one I used today - I also don't cut the crust, never have never will!
It's the best part of the bread and it just seems silly to waste all that food. IF and when I use sandwich cutters to make things prettier I always have the kids eat the crusts and, if it's a gluten free bread I eat them myself.
The details on this colorful lunch are as follows:
The peanut butter, once again, is from one of my favorite brands and I'll leave you with the link to the Amazon page where you can order it and go through the other amazing products that the brand offers.
By midweek I usually try to be almost at half way of my prepped ingredients to make sure that nothing gets spoiled. Wasting food is the worst thing ever and we try to avoid it at all costs by planning ahead our meals but also by checking in everyday on what has been consumed and what we still have left.
Even though we may have a plan, life happens and, sometimes, meals get switched by a school event, family function or something totally unexpected so we must always try to check our fridge and use what we have.
My 10 year old loves sushi and, now, Miss B is also in love with it!
On Wednesday I decided to surprise them with some sushi lunch, for school - I didn't make it myself but I'll be trying it soon enough to make it easier to send this lunch favorite every once in a while.
On this simple lunchbox we have:
The idea of having the kids eat a sandwich everyday is just not appealing to me...I was trying to figure out ways to switch things a little bit and I remembered to try and make kind of an egg roll to wrap some turkey ham in it using it as a regular wrap!
Recipe tried and approved!
It's super simple and easy to make and you can prepare it the night before, keep it in the fridge and then cut the slices out and place in the lunchboxes in the morning. Let me just tell you how I did it:
The pan I use is the one that I'm posting the link just below. It is non-stick and I've been using a lot lately, to saute veggies, cook some chicken, shrimp and even to grill some fruit over the stove top.
Grilled peaches are a must while they are pretty sweet and juicy!
So, for these yummy lunchbox I used:
You may have noticed that we are trying to be as eco-friendly as possible by using reusable utensils and ditching all plastic and disposable items. I use cloth napkins, both at home, and in the lunchboxes and I got a kit of camping stainless steel utensils that are just the perfect size for the kids. With a fork, a knife and a spoon and with a washable carry case it's the perfect solution if you want to try this clean and green way to live too! There are several different colors to choose from so give it a try and let me know what you think!
The last day of the week is here and it's time for a little treat! I always like to send the kids to school on Friday with something sweet but still healthy and nutritious.
I just started trying these amazing little snacks made from nuts and dried fruits and they taste amazing and are great for packing in lunchboxes - they hold their shape and they pack a ton of good ingredients in a cute little ball that it's easily added to any kind of lunch. There are several flavors but we decided to try the "peanut butter" variety first and it was a success - they are chewy, crunchy and so delicious that I can not wait to try the other flavors too.
On Amazon you can buy the 8 pack kits or a variety pack so you can try out all the flavors and pick your favorites to become your new pantry staples - there's a flavor for everyone in your house, for sure!
Details on this Friday lunchbox:
I usually make my own salad dressings but I like to have some good quality store bought ones at hand for those days when I really need something quick to put in the lunchboxes and just head out the door as quickly as possible! For those moments I choose the Primal Kitchen salad dressings and I've tried several of them including some Whole30 compliant and also the honey mustard which I really love - I usually just use 1 Tbsp per person which keeps the caloric count a bit down and I think that's perfectly reasonable for a single portion salad. The kids like ranch dressing once in a while so we decided to try it out and it was good, they liked it!
If you choose to buy the variety kits they come a bit cheaper than buying each dressing on its own and you can choose to either buy a whole30 compliant variety pack or other packs that contain some dressings that you can always use off round or in your everyday diet once you get to food freedom stage.
These were suggestions of school lunches based on what I pack for my own children. I'll try to continue to build up weekly lunchbox meal plans and I'm think about having the option to receive the ingredient list to every week of lunches, would that be useful to you?
Please, let me know in the comment section what would you like to see on the blog, school lunch related or not. Would you benefit from a week of work lunchboxes for yourself? After all, most of us take our own lunch and sacks to work nowadays and making the right choices is not always easy. However, if you take some time over the weekend to plan and prep, it's just as easy as to do it for the kids!
Most of the days I send my husband a packed lunch to work so I think that would be a great idea to share some of the meals that are easy and practical to pack for a work lunch.
This week the kids are off from school today and tomorrow so my meal prep will be done tomorrow, Tuesday, which will keep things a bit easier and light for me. Take some time to go over the lunchbox lunches I just showed you and try to plan for, at least, 3 days and then just see how you go from there.
Feel free t also check the ideas from my 7 year old lunchbox that I've posted previously here.
Once you start doing it you'll see the benefits and time saving advantage and you'll keep doing it every week, you'll see!