Tag Archives: Trader Joe’s

The Tuesday Tank

“I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know where I’ve been.”

Pretty much, and I’m completely sober.

Oh, summer. You and your childish dreams of sitting in the sun all day, your optimistic adventures and restful face looking at me like I’m a traitor. “Spend more time with me,” you say. Truth is, you’re not loyal enough for me. You come in like a knight on a wine truck and captivate me with stories of your past. Then you’re gone, gone, gone. And I’m left here disinfecting the kiddie pool and questioning why I ever thought you’d stick around in the first place.

Am I right or am I right? Here we go, August. Here we go, kindergarten. Here we go, carnies at the state fair. Here we go, jalapeno pepper harvest and the procuring of grape blocks in the vineyards. Cheers to this month and all the transition in our veins. I’m back on the blog and celebrating with an installment of “The Tuesday Tank!”

Today’s Tank:

~We don’t need more time, we need a damn compound.

The kids are at grandma’s house this week. I have four days to get “everything” done I need to get done. BALONEY! I will not get it all done. My winemaker and I will probably not get to go to a movie or see friends we rarely see. Why? Because this: You Don’t Need More Free Time.

So, parents, let us stop feeding ourselves the lie that we’d get more done/see our friends/family more if we weren’t parents. And non-parents, you’re totally guilty of your equivalent lies. There’s a reason compounds exist and perhaps those people have it all figured out. Or perhaps we should just keep the wine rack stocked and continue on…

~’Tis the season for youth sports and Red 40 food coloring!

I’m all about all things in moderation. I’m also all about maybe not having to hear “Mom I pooped green!” If you have a child in sports you may be interested in making your own hydration solution. If so, read how to make Homemade Gatorade Concentrate. Or maybe you love green poop, hell if I know. Who am I to give a child limits?

Photo Credit: homeremedyshop.com
Photo Credit: homeremedyshop.com

~Hello, my name is Crystal and I put snail mucus on my face.

Korean skin care is kind of a thing and it’s kind of addicting. As someone who isn’t exactly old and isn’t exactly 20-something (unless ACDC comes on….ohhhh watch OUT world!), I’m definitely into skin care these days and probably for the rest of the days. I’m also into knowing what’s in the stuff that goes on my face. Enter: Here’s How to Find ‘Safe’ and ‘Natural’ Korean Beauty Products.

Psst: Secure yourself a sheet mask and wear it like you just don’t care.

~Someone stole my book idea. No really.

I’ve always wanted to write a book about the different paths our lives could take if we made just one decision differently. The genius Laura Barnett beat me to it, rats! Guess that’s what happens when you don’t actually ever write a book. The Versions of Us is currently open on my Kindle and I’m digging the three different versions of this story. Now…I wonder what turn my life would have taken if my winemaker hadn’t fixed my wine bottle opener when we were just beginning to date…

PhotoCredit: geekgetsglam.uk.co
PhotoCredit: geekgetsglam.uk.co

~I hate shopping. Please somebody, give me the highlights.

Say what you want about Trader Joe’s, there are some sweet finds there. Every three months or so I stock up on a few frozen items just to have on-hand for those crazy evenings when you have no time to prep a meal but you also have no desire to eat out. This list of 10 Things I Buy from Trader Joe’s for No-Cook Dinners was supposed to find you and me. See also my favorite quick-cooking steel cut oats from Trader Joe’s, listed in a previous “Tuesday Tank” installment here.

~I know you probably know how to cook your fruits and vegetables but Yours Truly just did this in the oven for the first time and you’re gonna hear about it.

Photo Credit: Onceuponasmallbostonkitchen.blogspot
Photo Credit: Onceuponasmallbostonkitchen.blogspot

Roasted tomatoes should be a food group. Typically we grill tomatoes in the summer or eat them raw (or on cucumber/tomato sandwiches) but I wanted that quasi-crispy, slightly-sweet taste you can only get from a roasted tomato. Turns out all I needed was to squeeze some serious seeds to get it. This recipe is perfection, even on a Monday night. Especially on a Monday night.

Thanks for playing with me, happy Tuesday-trudging!

10 Super Easy Healthy Changes You Can Make Now

I had a completely different post topic planned for this week entailing the inside scoop from our recent winery operations, but our family got a little sidetracked and, well, here it’s Thursday and I haven’t pulled it together. Instead, I’m following my gut’s lead (somewhat literally) and posting some health and fitness tips that have been idling in my mind lately.

You know how January goes – personal health seems to finally take a priority for at least 31 days. As a personal trainer I have big mixed emotions about this time of year. The kind that make me grin and say, “Ah…January.” For one, I’m always happy to see people think about their health and wellness and make changes. On the other hand, watching some sprint out of the gate and then hit the wall by March gets tiresome. I applaud all efforts, I do. I would just love to see them stick. I feel like my kids when they see a freshly wrapped present and get all spring-happy and then I have to tell them it’s for someone else. All hopes: Thrown down, stepped on and crushed. “But whyyy?”

I tend to call myself a real-world trainer, which simply means I don’t jump on diet trends, I don’t prescribe cleanses and extreme fitness fads and my specialty is helping people learn how to be healthy and still enjoy life’s little pleasures without the guilt associations. But hey, if you want to read all about that rant, check out this post. Otherwise, let’s dive in for some real-world tips!

I thought about all the things I could recommend you do but when it comes down to it, there are 10 super easy tips I have for getting your health on-track. Even if you’re a moderately healthy and fit person, I think these are great reminders for staying the course. With that said, this is in no way an exhaustive list. I would love to hear: What are YOUR tricks and tips for making easy changes to your health? Leave a comment below if you’ve got some for us!

10 Super Easy Healthy Changes You Can Make Now

1.  Drink warm lemon water. If you’ve been following this blog at all you’ve likely read this a few times. That’s because I swear by it. First thing every morning, pour yourself a cup of warm water and add a wedge of lemon. How much lemon juice? It depends on the lemons you get. I prefer using Meyer lemons because they yield so much more juice, so I only need to use one wedge. But Meyers can be hard to find. If I’m using a typical lemon I’ll use about a fourth of it per cup. Do this before you drink your coffee or eat anything. If you try it for a few days, you’ll understand why it’s so great based on digestive reasons alone. But if you want to know now why I’m so obsessed with it, read all about the metabolic and overall health benefits here.

2.  Make a green smoothie for breakfast.  If you really want to give your digestive system a boost, combine the above tip with a green smoothie for breakfast. I know you’re thinking you don’t have time to make a smoothie in the mornings. As it is I’m lucky if I get to make them once or twice a week. But eventually you get pretty good at it, which means you’ll spend less time making breakfast than you do scanning your Facebook feed. Also, you get a bit addicted to the feeling of being nourished by one. So with that said, try out some recipes and start by using spinach, since it’s the most versatile green for smoothie-making. If you have protein powder you can throw that in, or use plain nonfat Greek yogurt instead. One of my staple green smoothies is made with a handful of baby spinach, a cup of unsweetened almond milk, a frozen banana, 1/2 cup of frozen dark cherries, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, a few ice cubes and maybe a drizzle of honey.

My smoothie this morning, made with egg white protein I'm sampling, almond milk, spinach, banana, strawberries, coconut oil and ice. Excuse the time stamp, I'm such a rookie.
My smoothie this morning, made with egg white protein I’m sampling, almond milk, spinach, banana, strawberries, coconut oil and ice. Excuse the time stamp, I’m such a rookie.

3.  Switch to a food-based multivitamin. This is actually something I just did, as did one of my good friends. So far I’m loving it. After years of taking a generic women’s one-a-day during my 20s, then spending the last three years on a prescription prenatal, I had no clue what to start taking. I knew I didn’t want a bunch of unknowable stuff in my body (that I would consequently pee out anyway) and I knew I needed something to complement my already vitamin-rich way of eating (iron and probiotics are the two I need extra of the most). After much searching and price-comparing I landed on the Rainbow Light brand (which I found at Fred Meyer in the natural section). If you’re in need of a natural way to get in some complementary vitamins, minerals and enzymes, check it out or just do a Google search for “food based multivitamin.”

4.  Walk 2 miles a day.  Seriously? Okay so this is something I’ve just started doing this week. Yes, it’s winter and yes, it’s cold outside. But those are excuses. My kids appreciate the air time and my body appreciates the extra cardio. Plus this takes me about 18 minutes if I decide to run or 30 minutes if I walk, so even on extremely busy days I can’t complain about the time it takes. If I already worked out that day, it’s an extra calorie burner. If I haven’t (like today), it’s a sanity saver.

5.  Buy a fitness/health/wellness magazine to refresh your outlook.  I don’t subscribe to many magazines anymore (other than Food & Wine, ha), but I do enjoy buying the occasional magazine to boost my knowledge/see what’s new in the health and fitness world/try new recipes and workouts. Sure this stuff is also all over the web, but I find magazines are such a concentrated wealth of information even in this era of smart phones we live in. I have plans for a post about my favorite magazines, so more on that another time. In the meantime, check out Oxygen or Natural Living for a start.

6.  Try a new health food.  You can do this once a week or once a month, but I find that trying out a new healthy item every once in a while keeps me from getting bored. Sometimes I’ll try a new cooking oil (like pistachio), or a snack (recently it was crunchy roasted broccoli florets – so good!), or a new fruit (ever had a dragon fruit?). Places like Trader Joe’s or Rosauers are perfect for finding this kind of stuff.

A Trader Joe's find. Super convenient for quick weeknight dinners, smoothies and pesto!
A Trader Joe’s find. Super convenient for quick weeknight dinners, smoothies and pesto!

basil squares2.jpg

7.  Stop eating two hours before bed.  If there is anything I’ve learned, it’s that no matter how I’ve ate or drank throughout the day, my body does best when I give it some alone time. While I don’t necessarily think people who eat late gain more weight than people who don’t, I do think you’re better off metabolically if you don’t go to bed on a full stomach. Also, if you’re like me and you eat around 6:30-7:00 pm and have a glass of wine, you might be tempted to reach for the dark chocolate somewhere around 9 pm (after the kiddos go to bed).  I find I do far better if I have a piece of dark chocolate at, say, 8 pm and call it. That way if I’m in bed at 10 pm I’m not miserable and I’ve also fixed the issue of eating more than I truly need (too much alcohol and sugar tend to cause us to wake up hours later and have trouble falling back to sleep). Try it and see what you notice.

8.  Drink 2-3 cups of green tea a day. This is far easier to do in the winter months, but as it turns warmer you can simply switch to unsweetened iced green tea.  There are all sorts of reasons this is good for you. Metabolically speaking again, green tea is a pretty superior force. It does have a small amount of caffeine in it naturally (unless you specifically buy the decaf kind), so I would recommend not drinking it past 3 or 4 pm so as not to interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night. To read about the health benefits of this stuff, check this out.

9.  Go meatless one day a week.  You’ve likely heard health and fitness professionals recommend doing this, or at least recommend eating meat-free one night a week. I suggest one whole day simply to let your body detox from it. You probably noticed I’m no stranger to lean meats and I would likely be divorced if I told my husband we need to stop eating meat altogether. But I find a good compromise is this rule. Thanks to the web and magazines and cookbooks, there are tons of great meat-free recipes you can experiment with.

10. Set a small, realistic goal for the immediate future.  Everyone needs accountability. I think the best way to get that is by setting 4-week goals. Maybe those goals are stepping stones to a much bigger goal, or maybe not. I find this time of year particularly motivating because my birthday is in February and even if my goal isn’t to lose weight, it’s always my goal to feel my best. So I have no trouble fueling my body, mind and spirit right now. After my birthday month comes and goes it’ll be a different goal, something to keep me on the path. Maybe your 4-week goal is to lose 3 pounds, maybe it’s to see your cholesterol numbers drop or sleep better or lose some inches or workout more. Maybe it’s to walk two miles a day. Set your goal and work daily to reach it.

 

The Tuesday Tank

It’s reflection time. I’m taking a moment to soak in all the little details that have shown their faces among the big happenings around here the last few weeks. All work and no play would be boring and obnoxious, after all. Times like these are when I’m grateful to my kids because they remind me to step away and get some play time in. Mostly they remind me by tearing the house apart and then drawing all over it. That’s when we go outside, breathe in the autumn air, ride bikes and crash nose-first into the concrete.

So here we have the second installment of “The Tuesday Tank.” This is where I share with you small tidbits I’ve either learned, read, cooked, purchased, attempted or simply found worth acknowledgment. You can catch the first installment of “The Tuesday Tank” here.

Read on, curious people.

Today’s Tank:

~It just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t start with breakfast.

You like oatmeal? You like eggs? You need 3 Minute Egg-White Oats from pbfingers.com. Possibly the most satisfying way to eat breakfast without overeating. This stuff happens in a microwave with a bigger-than-normal bowl (seriously, you will think I’ve lost my oats when you see how much it expands when cooked). My favorite way to eat this so far is by mixing in almond butter, pure maple syrup and flaxseed. Preferably before (or after) a good run or cardio workout.

Photo from pbfingers.com
Photo from pbfingers.com

~Speaking of breakfast, let’s speak of more breakfast.

I’m a big fan of steel cut oats but very rarely make them because they’re so dang time-consuming. Enter: Trader Joe’s Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats. I finally walked into Boise’s new Trader Joe’s not knowing what to buy and walked out with vino (duh), hummus and this brilliant timesaving container. Now I can enjoy my steel cut oats any day I want in under 10 minutes. Lila prefers to call them “steel cut oh’s.”

traderjoe'soats

~We’re on a roll, so let’s talk bread.

Specifically, oatmeal pumpkin spice bread. Yes, I’m a fan of the pumpkin bandwagon this time of year and yes, I jumped on it with this recipe a couple weeks ago. It makes 2 loaves and my intent was for the hubby to take one to work to share but turns out it was Friday. Whoops. Two loaves of fall-bliss-in-a-bite down this family’s hatch! It was originally a Paula Deen recipe but some nice people at Pop Sugar took the heart attack out of it.

Photo from popsugar.com
Photo from popsugar.com

~Now that you’re stoked about gluten, maybe this will make you feel less guilty about consuming it:

The findings in the study this article talks about are worth considering: “Science Proves Gluten Sensitivity Isn’t Real, People Are Just Whiners.” Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just saying, “hmmm…”

~Drink your wine instead of doing an hour of exercise?

I managed to steer clear of reading this study as it was circulating Facebook but after multiple clients came in the studio doors claiming they could just go drink 8 glasses of wine and call it a week’s worth of exercise, I finally gave it a look: “Is Drinking Wine Better Than Going to the Gym? According to Scientists, Yes!” Well folks, the bad news is they’re talking about ONE glass in this case and they’re also only talking about red wine. Which, from this red wine lover’s point of view, is not a problem. But you’re more likely to see me getting my sweat on so that I can enjoy TWO glasses of the good stuff. Sooo…not really encouraging science to me, but maybe you’ll find a way to justify it.

~Hey parents, bath time just got easier!

I’ve admittedly had a Lush addiction for over a decade now, so when the connoisseurs of homemade bath and beauty products opened up a store nearby I leapt at the chance to go with my favorite females. While I left with a few yummy things, my favorite new find was their FUN line – yummy smelling multi-purpose moldable soap for kids (and adults who like to act like kids). Lila flipped for this stuff and honestly, so did I. Bath time smelled even better and both kids were completely entertained while washing their own hair with this Play-Doh-like stuff. We’ve only tried the Blue Fun bar because the sleep-inducing smells of chamomile and lavender sold me (earlier bedtime for the kids means earlier wine time for mom), but we will definitely be trying them all.

Photo source: dolcevanity.com
Photo source: dolcevanity.com

~So about this parenting thing, how’s it working for our marriages?

“How American Parenting is Killing the American Marriage is worth thinking about. Even if you don’t agree with it I think we can all applaud the author who, when met with criticism about her viewpoint, rebutted by saying “her outlook has had a positive impact on her children by giving them a sense of security in their parents’ relationship.” Read the original essay, “Truly, Madly, Guiltily” in The New York Times, here.

Thanks for scrolling, good people!

What You Don’t Know About Wine Won’t Hurt You

I’m going to let you in on a little something you may not know and may be appalled to learn: Winemakers don’t wash their grapes.

Does that freak you out? You might want to get over it, or start favoring a different libation.

Last week there was a big to-do made in the media about how Trader Joe’s infamous wine, Two Buck Chuck, allegedly contains rodent blood and other miscellaneous nasties because the grapes they use to make the wine are harvested by huge machines that grab anything and everything, throw it all in a receptacle without sorting and make vino, essentially. In case you missed it, here’s the article that explains how the mess got started and what the owners had to say about it after this accusation was made:

The really big ruckus over ‘Two Buck Chuck’

I’m not saying I think Two Buck Chuck is as exceptional for the price as others believe it is. But certainly, if you like it and enjoy it, then drink it. I myself think you get what you pay for and sometimes that’s A-OK with me if I’m in a bind and need some vino, ANY vino, STAT. And furthermore, if you simply don’t like how wine tastes or a winery/winemaker’s ethics then those are good reasons not to drink the wine. But it’s not rodents that should keep you away (or even the stomping bare feet of strangers). The idea of wine having animal blood in it is ridiculous. But I realize that many people probably don’t know why it’s so ridiculous, especially if the fermentation process has never been explained to them. I certainly didn’t understand until Von started making wine years ago and I saw the process myself.

So I’m going to give you my version of how this all works. If you’d like a more scientific one, feel free to contact my husband or go Google crazy.

Grapes are harvested, sometimes by machines if it’s a major production winery and often by the hands of vineyard workers who can pick an insane amount of grapes in a couple hours. I know this because two years ago we chose to pick our own grapes from one of the vineyards we purchase from out in Sunnyslope and it took four of us adults and one toddler HOURS to get 1,000 pounds of grapes. The people out in the fields? They can knock that out in about an hour, I’m sure.

Courtesy of Luce Della Vite
Courtesy of Luce Della Vite

The grapes get to the winery, where we put them in the crusher/destemmer to sort through the stems and leaves and weed out all the junk (this would apply to rodents too, if you’re still hung up on those). We do NOT wash our grapes. I know that causes shock to some since we live in a world obsessed with sanitation yet we want our food fresh. We do see spiders, ear wigs, occasional wasps and other insects. Typically vineyards don’t use a lot of pesticides because pesticides can change the natural fermentation process. This is good news for you, the wine drinker, as well as the wine itself. The thing is, all that grapey bacteria – the must and flora and natural yeast – is stuff we want in the wine. Washing it off would be…dumb. Have you ever thought you’d like to see a winery who advertises that they have the cleanest wine? Me, I want my wine DIRTY.

After all that stuff is sorted out, we start making the good stuff. Depending on the varietal, some grapes will get pressed (or stomped) and tossed in with the skins, others will get pressed and the skins will be thrown out. No matter which way it goes, all will start the first phase of fermentation, which is a very active process because the yeast (both added and natural) works like wild fire. It’s so active that it needs open air to do its thing. It never gets old to see the thick cap of skins on wine when it’s fermenting the first few days. We “punch down” the cap of skins often so they can continue to mix with the yeast. This is fun for me, because I’m punching things with the knowledge that my punching will be rewarded later on with lots of glasses of liquid happiness.

Punching down the grape cap
Punching down the grape cap

The second phase is when the yeast calms down and does its hard work quietly, so it’s time to cover it. There’s more appropriate and more wine-sophisticated ways to say that but I don’t have those words for you.

Now here’s the important part, so pay attention: This 2-phase fermentation process, the one I just walked you through so eloquently? It is responsible for killing any crazy bacteria or virus that could possibly infect a human being. Wine is not a place for human diseases and, subsequently, it is not a place for animal blood. The yeast bacteria destroys any and all harmful pathogens during fermentation. While an occasional rodent may have been spotted at some point between the field and the destemmer (although we have yet to witness that ourselves), I assure you there’s not even a micro-trace of it anywhere in that bottle of wine you’re thinking about buying. There is only good, productive, and essential bacteria.

So now you know. And you’re feeling good about it, aren’t you? So drink up!