Preferred Pizzas

There has been many different “ice breaker” sessions I’ve been in where they question to answer is: what’s your favorite food?

I have a really hard time answering that question, for some reason.

But recently, I’ve realized it must be pizza.

Simple naan bread brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with leftover roasted brussels sprouts and fresh arugula, dolloped with brie or other soft cheese, fig spread, and prosciutto. Baked just until the cheese melted a bit and everything warmed through. 5-10 minutes at 350.

And that would make sense because at least once a week it’s on my family’s meal plan. Recently, it’s been on even more often because – of the times we are in and – the comfort that this food/meal provides to us.

Besides the fact that it tastes good – it’s crunchy or chewy depending on your crust-style, cheesey (& fatty which our tongue likes for the mouth-feel) –

it’s also versatile- it can be colorful with toppings or simple!

but the end-all-be-all is that it tastes good!

IMG_4704
flashback to one of my fave flatbread recipes: pesto, asparagus and shrimp flatbread-style pizza

You can order it from delicious dives, pop one in the oven from your freezer, or make your own semi-homemade version or one completely from scratch.

I find the foods we go to most are not only delicious and envoke some sort of positive emotions or memories, but they are also easy and versatile.

IMG_4693
an easy to assemble bbq chicken flat bread pizza with a whole grain tortilla, store bought bbq sauce, leftover chicken, mozzarella cheese, and arugula

Many mistakenly think that pizza can’t be good for you. And I’m here time and time again to tell you that all foods are good for you!

Sometimes we add a salad or a roasted veggie to our pizza nights. Other times, due to lack of perceived time, mental or physical energy, we skip it and just do with what feels best in the moment. That savings in time & energy may mean we don’t get in our needed veggies at that meal, and that’s alright, too!

our favorite go-to for frozen pizza. Everyone likes them – and it adds a bit of veggies for the little one’s that are learning to like other foods and flavors =)

Do you have a go-to pizza? Is your favorite food, too? I’d love to hear!

Stay safe, stay well, and stay connected!

xo,

Becca

food for thought: covid-19-related tasks

We are living in an unprecedented time; a time of uncertainty. worry. overwhelm. stress. confusion. You name it.

During the next few challenging weeks (or months?) ahead I just want to reassure and provide validation that you can:

take time to focus on your nutrition OR NOT.

eating food that keeps you satisfied and content is just as important- if not more so- than eating for nutritional value. And to be precise, all foods have nutritional value despite what pros and cons you’ve been listening to over the years. So eat what sounds good to you and what’s currently available under the circumstances.

aim to use up potential or anticipated free time to plan & implement a bunch of daily to dos OR NOT.

maybe you’re planning to deep clean your house, read a few books that have been collecting dust, plan some at-home-schooling activities with your kiddos, whatever it is you think you can accomplish in this perceived downtime – feel free to plan as much or as little as you want to, but just remember to be kind to yourself if you do not get everything done that you intended.

Remember to set feasible goals- maybe just a small task or two each day or week. There’s already enough on our plates to with the normal every day challenges of balancing all of life’s daily tasks. If you’re working from home, remaining to go into work, have children home from school, remember the only thing that is really changing is the location in which tasks are being done. You still have the same everyday to do list, the same priorities to accomplish, you will just likely be in a confined space for longer periods of time than normal, so set realistic expectations of what you can, need, and want to accomplish.

find time to incorporate more movement OR NOT.

while daily movement can help with a variety of whole body processes like improving sleep & decreasing stress, if it is one thing that is adding more to your to do list or making you feel overwhelmed at this present time, it’s okay to place a pause on this and focus on everything else that’s going on.

Basically, I don’t want you to feel pressured by anyone else- not social media, the news, your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, whomever. You are free to achieve what you can, whether it’s more or less than what you intended.

In the meantime, I will try to share some food photos on my instagram page to help provide inspiration and information (for those that may want it) without pressure or judgement as well as supportive nutrition messages to promote our sense of calm in these times.

You can bet your pretty little faces that I will still be incorporating comforting, delicious, and satisfying foods into my daily routine and I hope you do to. I wish I could send you this delish lemon blueberry from campus this week because it is AMAzing!

Virtual hugs,

Becca

how to: build an oatmeal bowl

I find myself often saying that – you do not need to eat foods that you don’t enjoy! Forcing yourself to eating something you do not like, is not worth the effort. Eat what you love, remember!

It is important, of course though, to consider and to try to new foods, especially if you didn’t like them as a kid and just haven’t tried again as an adult, as an example. Some things to start the process is to try ordering unfamiliar or perceived-as-disliked foods out that have a different sauce or are prepared in a way you wouldn’t try at home. At home, you can also try a different cooking method to see if you like the flavor or texture that way (grilled, roasted, sauteed, steamed, etc).

If you’ve exhausted your efforts and have still been unsuccessful, then you gave it your best go, and you can say you truly do not like it and do not need to eat it.

old fashioned stove-top cooked oats with granola, raisins, peanut butter and a splash of milk

Oatmeal is a good example of this. Depending on the texture, some just may not have an appeal for it. Most times though, I find, you need to add toppings with flavor, taste, and texture to see that you really do like oatmeal, just not plain. And I don’t either. Who would, honestly? It’s pretty lacking in flavor, so it’s your job to experiment and see what flavors, colors, textures, you like to put with it.

The basics to building a better oatmeal include adding in some color, taste, and texture.

Color can be achieved by different fruits- frozen, fresh or dried. Anything goes here, experiment with different fruits in season, clean out your pantry and freezer, toss in what may be on it’s last leg in the fridge or on the counter.

Improving the taste may mean adding some sweetness – honey, agave, brown sugar, chocolate chips, cocoa nibs- or even some spices like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice- or even some various combinations of these.

Adding various texture like crunchy granola, nuts, seeds, coconut flakes or smooth & rich nut or seed butters.

For me there’s a layer of each one of these three categories. I usually pick a fruit, sweetener + spice, and topping.

strawberries, pecans, granola and cream old fashioned oatmeal

The complexity and depth of these combinations will also make the bowl more appetizing and help you build in more nutrition naturally while having the focus be on the flavor and taste. Because it’s all about the taste and flavor- otherwise you won’t enjoy it and won’t incorporate it!

I hope you learn how to incorporate a more appealing oatmeal bowl based on your tastes and preferences!

xo,

Becca

go-to Greek yogurt bowls

Kiwi, clementine sections, and blackberries with simple granola

With all the busy-ness in our lives, I can’t help but feel the need to focus & share some basic recipes that are truly simple & easy, while also being nutritious and also delicious!

Because the truth is, you can collect all the cookbooks in the world (guilty, here), pin all the beautifully photographed recipes on pinterest, create a collection of your faves on instagram, and spend time filtering through all the must-read blogs, but if the recipes aren’t truly simple & easy, are you really going to make them?

Frozen cherries thaw to create a natural and pretty liquid to enhance the flavor of the yogurt. Dried chopped mango, sliced almonds and a spoon of peanut butter balance out the toppings.

And if not, then what’s the point? Sure you may get in a good read, but half the battle of improving our nutrition is actually doing. We often have a lot of the knowledge, but finding ways to put it into practice in our daily lives is the real struggle.

And I don’t believe it needs to be that difficult, but we need to have some go-tos that are reliable, versatile and most importantly taste good!

And that’s what this recipe is! Over the years I’ve learned what works for me and what I enjoy. But now you need to do the same. It won’t likely happen over night, but you can get a good, solid nutritious foundation here and then twist it to make it your own so that it works for you too!

the classic: strawberries & blueberries with granola

go-to Greek yogurt bowl

splash of vanilla extract

plain, reduced fat Greek yogurt

fruit

granola

To build the yogurt bowl start by splashing in approximately 1/4 teaspoon of good quality vanilla extract into the greek yogurt. Mix to combine and spoon into your bowl.

Wash your fruit of choice and place onto the yogurt. Sprinkle on your preferred granola and dig in!

If you haven’t tried adding oranges to your yogurt, you need to try it! It’s great in the winter when citrus are at their prime.

What’s good quality vanilla extract? Pure vanilla extract that has a rich, non-overly-alcohol perfume and taste. Remember you’re eating this “raw” rather than mixing it in with baked goods, so the flavor needs to be well rounded on it’s own.

Why plain, reduced fat greek yogurt? Greek style yogurt (or other strained yogurts) have more protein (about 3 x more) than traditional yogurt. Keeping some of the fat content is helpful to balance heart health (specifically of saturated animal-based fats) while still providing richness & flavor.

The salted pistachios balance the sweet oranges in a flavor combo you’ll be sure to put your rotation

Enjoy yogurt bowls as a breakfast, snack, or as I do, even an dinner some nights!

xo,

Becca

simple banana-split like snack

Sometimes you just need a simple recipe.

Something that requires little thought. Little effort. and few ingredients.

Something that is energizing. filling. and satisfying.

Enter this random snack I made the other day for my two year old and I on Saturday! It’s different enough to make you feel like you’re eating something different compared to your normal work-week snack options, but easy enough to not feel like a challenge to make something new!

simple banana-split like snack

banana

peanut butter

granola

Directions:

Slice up the banana and lay pieces on a plate.

Drizzle with peanut butter. Sprinkle with granola.

Variations:

Fruit- You can use almost any – and any combination of – fruit you want! You’d be surprised how good strawberries and nut butter taste!

Nut Butter- You can use any nut or seed butter- sunbutter, soybutter, almond butter! The fat + protein combo with give you the same energizing – physically and mentally, regardless of the specific type you use.

Toppings – You can use any flavor, brand, or homemade granola. You can even skip or add to the granola and use chopped nuts or seeds, even cereal!

Happy snacking!

xo,

Becca

basic roasted brussels sprouts

I honestly don’t know why I’ve never officially given these their own post!

They completely deserve it because this is my consistently go-to veg because it’s delicious (that’s first priority) and it’s versatile enough to accompany almost ANY meal!

I not only make these almost nightly with my family meals, but I often bring them to work, friend & family gatherings to share with others!

They are a 3 ingredient, simple recipe that I can’t really even call my own because I originally learned them from Barefood Contessa. But I will call them my own because I make, eat & share them ALL THE TIME.

All you really need to have on hand- add it to your grocery staple list- is fresh brussels sprouts. The other ingredients are additional staples you should have on hand too- salt, pepper, and olive oil.

The trick is to quarter these little guys, and make sure when you do so, to add the leaves that fall off to the pan as well!

The leaves turn into little charred chips and they are the best part, if you ask me, and my 5 year old!

so without further adieu-

Basic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

fresh brussel sprouts

olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Trim & quarter the brussels sprouts. Place them & any leaves that have fallen from the base on a large sheet pan. Lightly sprinkle with salt, and freshly crack black pepper along the width & perimeter of the brussels in the pan.

Toss to combine. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the leaves begin to char, tossing with a spatula about half way through the cooking process.

Variations:

You can use olive oil spray if you like a lightly & evenly distribution of flavor, oil, and filling & satisfying plant-based fats.

There isn’t much difference in sodium between different forms of salt. I like kosher because of its texture and flavor. Typically with bigger granuales of salt, you can often use less and still get the falvor enhanceanment you desire.

Similary, you can use any pepper you have on hand,b ut again, I like the texture and flavor with freshly cracked.

Additions:

When you want to change up the flavor, try adding other seasoning like cayenne, Italian seasoning, even nutmeg! I’m a traditional kind of girl, so the salt, pepper, olive oil is my go-to version, but for special occasions I do add prosciutto!

I hope you love this enough to add it to your meals as much as I do!

xo,

Becca

set your nutrition free

As we finish this last week of January I wanted to send a friendly reminder that –

it’s ok if you aren’t into setting New Year’s resolutions but you may still feel the pressure to make dramatic goals and drastic changes this year

It’s ok, too, if these past few weeks of 2020 haven’t started the year off the way you envisioned.

It’s ok!

You are allowed to take some time to refresh. You’re allowed to NOT set unrealistic, infeasible, restrictive, or even overwhelming goals.

Let 2020 be the year you set your nutrition free!

I wrote this article originally for a New Orleans publication, Health & Fitness Magazine, but I wanted to share it here too in hopes of giving you reassurance & a friendly reminder to just be, and live, and enjoy your life and your food.

A new year comes with new perspective and insights into what we hope to accomplish this next year. It can be an overwhelming time of fresh beginnings with an unnecessary burden we place on ourselves to make changes or improvements in our life.

I challenge you to let 2020 be the year you free yourself form boundaries; boundaries related to food, boundaries or limitations related to your body and body image, or boundaries you set towards overreaching goals or unrealistic expectations for yourself.

Here are a few areas to be mindful of when it comes to letting your nutrition take a more forgiving and yet wholesome & nourishing approach:

Avoiding entire groups of foods due to fear of foods that may limit your weight loss capabilities or foods that are misconceived to make you gain weight (just as examples)

Instead try incorporating a variety of foods you enjoy into each day’s meals and snacks with a mix of foods that are nutritious and delicious. For example, if you love pizza but avoid it because you’ve been told in the past that it’s not good for you, think how you can nutritiously work pizza into your plan. Is it once a week when out to dinner with your friends or family? Is it a lunch during the middle of the week, on a typically stressful day, and you aim to include a vegetable or salad you like?

Labeling foods as good or bad

Despite popular notion, foods are inherently not good or bad, we label them as such based on what we have been taught or told, past personal experiences, or marketing we’ve seen over the years.

For example, fruits get a bad rap because they are labeled as “high in sugar” but I always share that they aren’t high in sugar, they just are a source of naturally-occurring sugar. That doesn’t make them bad, in fact they are loaded with nutrients from vitamins, minerals, cancer-fighting compounds, fiber and fluid.

Ignoring cravings

Rather than suppressing your cravings for something sweet, salty or crunchy, try to think how you can incorporate them in a balanced way that allows you to be satisfied and answer the craving without feeling like you are going overboard.

Some suggestions- maybe you incorporate a little something sweet you crave at the end of your meal or even with the meal. Maybe you incorporate some salty, crunchy snack into your afternoon snack, before you head home for work.

Ignoring hunger cues

We often have this misconception that to be more healthy and achieve whole body wellness we need to eat less so we can lose weight and achieve those health and wellness goals.

Instead aim to create a flexible, but regular meal pattern for yourself so you can provide your body the nourishment & energy it needs to go about your day. Generally speaking, a breakfast within the first hour or so of waking up in the morning, following by additional meals or snacks every three hours is what I recommend.

Thinking we have to be all or nothing with regards to food

Your meal plan is just that, a plan. If it doesn’t play out exactly as you planned, it’s ok to give yourself some freedom to acknowledge where it may have fell short of your intentions, non-judgmentally, and move on to the next day. There’s more opportunities at future meals and snacks. You don’t need to be perfect and neither does your meal plan or nutrition.

I hope 2020 is the year you become more relaxed, less stressed regarding your nutrition (and other areas of your life) and find food truly more enjoyable and satisfying- like a child enjoying the simple, delicious pleasure of beignets!

~Becca

roasted cauliflower composed grain salad

I’m so ready for Thanksgiving. Anyone else?

On the one hand I’m excited to have some cherished and quality time with my family, but on the other, I’m saddened and always amazed at how quickly time flies each year.

Thanksgiving is an opportunity, I feel, to blend the old with the new. I strongly believe that there are certain foods or recipes that should be kept as is, especially beloved family recipes that are a vital part of holidays and traditions.

I also believe though that these are opportunities to create and share new recipes. Just call me the traditional-modernist.

So for Thanksgiving, try to include items that are a cherished part of the day, but also examine if there are ways where new items can be added to help create interest at the table and on everyone’s plate.

This roasted cauliflower salad that we made last month in our Dine with a Dietitian event at WashU would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving menu. It’d offer something different yet delicious and nutritious to your table!

roasted cauliflower composed grain salad

serves: 6-8

2 heads cauliflower, broken into florets

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon curry

1 teaspoon tumeric

2 small cans chickpeas

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon ras el hanout

5 oz greens (arugula & frisse)

2 cups quinoa, cooked

2 red bell peppers, diced

1 cup dates, halved

1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved

1 cup basil, julienne

1 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

Directions:

Begin by cooking the cauliflower- place the florets on a baking sheet. Lightly drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, curry & tumeric. Place in the oven and roast at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Next prepare the chickpeas- drain, rinse, and pat dry the chickpeas. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with the middle eastern spice, ras el hanout. Bake in the oven 425 for about 8-10 minutes.

Assemble the salad. In a bowl, add the greens (we used arugula & frissee here). Add the cooked quinoa, bell pepper, dates, olives, cauliflower and chickpeas. Toss to combine.

Prepare the dressing by adding the basil and lemon juice to a blender. While blending slowly drizzle in the olive oil until well combined.

Drizzle over the salad and toss again. Very lightly drizzle with honey on the top and then serve.


Enjoy & Happy upcoming Thanksgiving!

xo,

Becca

Nutrition Prevention for Colds + Flu

Since I’ve gone back to work (just since late July), I have lost track of the number of times my family has gotten sick. My girls have both had fevers, ear infections, colds, more fevers with then vomiting and many trips to the doctor along the way. My husband got sick for a full week and then it took another week to recover. It’s a good thing that usually only one of them is sick at a time, but then they pass it to the next person and it seems like for 2+ months now someone is constantly sick. It makes for a worrisome and stressful few months.

I like to pride myself on not getting sick, but then of course, I came down with a cold a couple weeks ago. Oddly enough, I was meeting with a student the same afternoon regarding his hope and need to prevent catching anything this year- when I started experiencing symptoms.

It’s not uncommon that around this time every year I get asked, what can I do to prevent getting a cold or the flu? Since the chances of getting a cold or the flu when you become exposed is incredibly likely, everyone wants to do and know as much as they can to prevent altogether or lower their risk of getting ill.

I get the concern; I don’t want to miss work and then have to play catch up either. I don’t want my children not feeling well because as a parent you want nothing but for them to feel well again. And if the whole family gets it, gosh the amount of extra cleaning, laundry, and disinfecting that needs to be done can be overwhelming and exhausting.

We should note some differences between the “common” cold and the flu.

While both are caused by viruses that infect our respiratory cells and trigger a response (or fight) from our immune system, they are different types of viruses.  

According to the National Institute of Allergy & Infection Disease, there are approximately 200 different types of cold viruses, rhinovirus often being the most prevalent, and the peak season for contracting cold viruses is between April to May and again in September. Children in the U.S. tend to have 6-10 colds each year and teens & adults have 2-4 annually.

Flu virus, on the other hand, have 3 different types – influenza A, B & C. Influenza A is the one that causes most flu outbreaks each year which its peak season ranging from Dec-Feb but can last all the way until May. 

{myth buster: it’s a myth that cold weather or wet weather can get you sick. During these times, you are more likely to be ‘cooped up inside’ along with others and it’s easier for viruses to spread from one to another}

The flu virus has two different proteins on its surface which is what causes the virus to spread within your respiratory system and these proteins can change or adapt over time. When your body comes in contact with the adapted virus, it looks like a new invader that your immune system hasn’t seen before. So even if you had been vaccinated against the flu last year, you do not have antibodies built up to protect you from these new version of the flu virus. This is why we need a flu vaccine each year.

Speaking of the flu vaccine, every year we hear moans and groans about the need for the flu vaccine. It’s not only a matter of your protection but for everyone else’s, especially young children or older adults as each year the flu causes numerous hospitalizations and even deaths across the country.

The flu vaccine is essentially a prediction from the U.S. Public Health Advisory Committee regarding what the upcoming year’s flu virus will be. As there are different strains of flu you can imagine the difficulty in making this prediction especially knowing the virus is smart and can modify its structure over time.

The flu vaccine is an inactive, or non-living, version of the predicted virus, at least for the injection- meaning you cannot get sick from it. Your body can utilize this as an identifier and start to build antibodies to protect you from when and if you do come in contact with the virus. Those that receive the flu vaccine, again since it’s a prediction, may still contact the flu, but when/ if you do get it, it is likely not as severe and does not last as long.

In addition to getting the flu vaccine, the best way to prevent ‘catching’ a virus from the cold or flu is through frequent hand washing.

Both the cold viruses and the flu spread by contact with secretions that contain the virus (think doorknobs, faucets, toilet handles, and then touching your eyes, mouth, nose, are all pathways for the virus to enter your body). Therefore, in addition to getting the flu vaccine every year, frequent hand washing is the next best method to prevent getting sick, the more you wash your hands, the more likely you are cleaning them from potentially carry the virus around and getting yourself sick or spreading it to other surfaces and exposing others.  

Airborne transmission is also possible, think sneezing and coughing that expels droplets that you or someone else breathes in. I know it sounds disgusting, but it just helps illustrate how easily and almost secretly we are being exposed to these pathogens. 

Since our modern day medicine may not offer the best prevention at this time, we often look for additional or supplemental sources to help protect us.

{Always check with your provider before beginning any supplement regimen}.

Garlic

Some evidence suggests taking garlic may help prevent colds or reduce the number of colds, however the research is limited to really recommend it. Garlic may have immune supporting properties, but it can interact with a variety of different medications.

Ginseng

Asian ginseng may have immune stimulant properties that may help prevent getting a cold, and even help boost the effectiveness of the flu vaccine by increasing antibody response. Taking 100 mg daily for 4 weeks prior to the vaccine & 8 weeks after may reduce the risk of getting sick.

American ginseng- and specifically an extract of it called Cold fX – taken 200 mg twice daily over 3-4 months may decrease the risk of getting multiple colds in one season and have reduced severity and duration.

Zinc

While there’s some support that zinc prevents the rhinovirus from replicating in a lab, but there’s no evidence of zinc supplements actually preventing a cold.  Some initial research suggests taking zinc with selenium may improve response to the flu vaccine and reduce the chance of getting sick in the nutrition deficient elderly individuals, but this does not carry through for healthy adults with a sufficient diet. 

Vitamin C

Probably the most well-known, well- promoted (but misconceived) nutrient for preventing colds and flu. Vitamin C may be helpful with immune function by increasing some antibody activity, function, mobility, and production, but most studies do not conclude that vitamin C prevents colds, even with amounts of up to 1 gram per day. Unfortunately, even eating foods rich in vitamin C does not lessen your chances of getting colds or flu. 

Vitamin D

In 2017, some clinical research demonstrated a 12% reduction in respiratory tract infections in adults taking supplemental vitamin D. For individuals who had lower levels of vitamin D, the risk reduction was even great (42%). The exact recommended dose was not clear, but taking vitamin D daily or weekly seemed more effective than taking larger doses at a single time. The findings seemed to be supportive in younger populations as well. Children ages 1-16 had 40% less risk of infection. Additional studies with larger sample sizes are still needed.

Probiotics

Some of the newer, more promising, and safest use of supplements stems from research supporting beneficial bacteria called probiotics in preventing upper respiratory tract infections. Not all supplemental varieties of probiotics are the same – ranging from the amounts and types of various bacterial strains

Milk fortified with a few probiotic varieties (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG  or Culturelle Every Day Health,  Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis) reduced rates of respiratory tract infection in children in daycares.  The probiotics seem to simulate immunity, reducing symptoms and shortening its duration.

Bifidiobacterium is another strain that seems promising in additional age groups. College students seemed to benefit the most from a specific variety of 3 billion bacteria, bifidiobacterium bifidum, for 6 weeks reduced the number of students with cold and flu by 35%.

While we all have an interest in preventing the incidence and spread of colds and flu, the best prevention is biting the bullet and scheduling our annual flu vaccine. Daily and multiple, frequent hand washings as well as avoiding those who are ill as much as possible top the list as well for preventable measures.

If you’re looking for additional support that’s evidence-based, safe, and effective, Vitamin D and probiotics top my list for potential supplements. Despite the research suggesting that vitamin C containing foods (fruits and vegetables like citrus, pineapple, kiwi, strawberries, peppers, greens, potatoes) does not support preventing colds and flu, it can’t hurt to add these other-wise nutrient rich foods into your diet. While your nutrition may not prevent you from getting colds and flu, it can help less the severity of your symptoms and shorten the length of the illness. 

xo!

Stay well!

Becca

 

Pumpkin Spice Applesauce

I’m learning the truth behind the saying that – one of life’s biggest stresses is changing jobs.

The adjustment to change, the newness, the constant mental workload-  I realized i needed to refill my cup – so to speak- and for me that meant I was in need of a family outing.

So last weekend, we went apple picking. 

Fruit picking wasn’t something we had done before as a family.

It wasn’t the most smooth experience at first- anyone else with have to overcome challenges with impatience, tempers, want-lists, passive aggressiveness- but I guess that’s par for the course for any young family, right – and I’m not even talking about the kids here… ?!?!

By the end of it though, it was a fun and memorable trip that everyone enjoyed- even the hubs said so. =)

When we got home, of course we had some apples to eat! 

It wasn’t on my plan for the day, but while my littlest was napping, I had a chance to make some homemade applesauce! I love it when I have random time that pops up for me to do something that I love, like cooking – it’s like it was meant to be- and I feel I don’t often get the chance to do things like this much these days. 

My oldest, who tends to silently protest weekend naps, even wanted to help a bit. We like to say that she’s still learning to like new (even though these really aren’t all that new to her) and different foods, so getting her in the kitchen is not only fun but also helpful for establishing open relationships with food down the road- hopefully. 

Here’s what we did for our easy & simple stove top applesauce –

Simply dice up the apples and place them in a large, deep pan. We used about 4 red (or Jonathan apples we picked that day) and 3-4 green (golden delicious) apples. 

Squeeze in the juice of a fresh orange (or lemon if that’s all you have) and n sprinkle on your spices. We used about 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and then tossed everything together. 

We simmered these on medium high heat, covered, for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. When they were soft enough, I pureed them with the immersion blender until I reached our desired thickness. 

To be honest I could eat the stewed, softened, and spiced apples as-is, but I knew the fam would more like them blended well. 

Serve this alongside some pork tenderloin medallions or stir it into your morning oatmeal. The stewed apples would have been great as a dessert for me, or even on top of some yogurt or dare I say it- ice cream! 

As with anything food or nutrition related, we need to be in tune with our likes and preferences- as well as our family’s- what may work or be liked by one person or family is not necessarily true with another. So while my family may be better off with pureed applesauce, your’s may benefit from the saute-style apples if it’s more versatile and usable throughout your menu.

I hope you’re enjoying the start of fall!

xo,

Becca