Tag Archives: healthy

NatureBox: Yay or nay?

I’ve been toying around with the idea of trying out NatureBox for awhile. I see ads in my Facebook newsfeed. I’ve read stories in magazines. I had previously tried out Goodies box, another food subscription box, and was not impressed. It wasn’t until one of my coworkers handed me a delicious bag of NatureBox trail mix that I decided to take the plunge.

This purchase was also spurned by the need to have some healthy snacks available in my office. Right now the snacks that are offered to us are very heavy on the Doritos and Cheetos variety, which are delicious, but not exactly what I want to eat when I am trying to eat better.

For those of you who don’t know, NatureBox has a collection of healthy snacks that are nutritionist approved. They are made with natural ingredients and very little fillers or extra additives, which I like. You get five snacks a month, and you can either choose which ones you want or let them choose for you. It’s $20 per box, which at first seemed a tad high to me, but the bags of snacks are a decent size so you actually get a good amount of product.

As a control freak, I chose each of my snacks in my first box. They have quite the lengthy list of choices so it took my quite a bit of time to choose (not joking).  They have a decent amount of salty and sweet snacks (but too many granolas if you ask me). Here’s what I got and what I think about them.

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I have to start with my favorite: the plantain chips. Man, these are delicious. I love eating them with chips and salsa. I saw plantain chips at Trader Joe’s the last time I was there so I’d be interested to see how these compare.

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My next favorite are the Dark Cocoa Nom Noms. They are little chocolate oat cookies which are just the right about of sweet. A nice little sweet treat.

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I have mixed feelings on the Sea Salt Pop Pops. Upon first taste they were rather bland, but the second time I ate some, they were much better. The popcorn is like partially popped which is kinda weird, but also kinda interesting.

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I was pretty excited to try these Bruschetta Pretzel Pops, and was sorely disappointed. They tasted like pizza, which some people might like, but I didn’t get any of the pretzel flavor I was going for. However, I brought these in to work and they went over quite well with some of my co-workers.

The last two snacks I got I don’t have pictures for because one of them isn’t on the site for some reason and the other appears to have sold out. They threw in an extra snack with my first order — poppyseed sticks. These were pretty standard in terms of poppyseed sticks I’ve had in the past. The one that is sold out is the Taj Mahal Snack mix and that stuff is MONEY. Trail mix with curry-esque spice mix. Mmmm. So good. It saddens me that they don’t have it anymore.

So will I continue to get the NatureBox? Probably. At least for the time being. It all depends on how often they change up their snacks in terms of variety. Part of the fun is trying out new things and if they don’t change around the stock, it sort of defeats the purpose. But I already have half the snacks in my July box picked out and am pretty excited about it.

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Pecan and Herb Crusted Tilapia

After a weekend filled with tacos and Cracker Barrel, I knew Sunday night was going to need a lightened up dinner. I had some tilapia already and knew I wanted to do some sort of pecan crusted tilapia. I took to the trust interwebs to find a recipe and they all seemed rather involved to me. Flour, breadcrumbs, eggs, frying. I just wanted a simple baked pecan crusted tilapia with a few ingredients. And this is what I came up with.

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The picture isn’t the best, but this was seriously delicious, I sauteed up some squash with herbs and served it along side some wild rice and it was a tasty, light meal.

PS Have you been to Penzey Spices? I used their Sunny Paris blend on the squash and it was so good. I think it is going to be super delicious on grilled veggies this summer.

Pecan and Herb Crusted Tilapia

3 tilapia filets (this recipe could work with any white fish)
3/4 cup pecans
1 tsp rosemary
1 clove garlic
2 tbls spicy or whole grain mustard
Salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If possible, put a cooling rack on a cookie sheet to use for baking. This helps keep the pecan crust from getting soggy.

2) In a food processor or blender, mix together the pecans, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. The consistency should be a little coarser than bread crumbs, but not super chunky. The finer it is, the better it will adhere to the fish.

3) Brush each fish filet with the mustard on both sides and coat with the pecan mixture. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the fish is cooked through.

Crispy polenta with kale and tomato sauce

Polenta is one of my most favorite things in the entire world. It’s like Italian grits — a great vessel for everything from eggs to stews and veggies. Polenta can be cooked in a variety of ways. I like it soft and creamy, almost like a bowl of porridge. But these polenta tubes are much more convenient and allow you to whip up a meal in no time.

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I usually stock up when I go to Trader Joe’s, but I think you can find them at almost any grocery store. If for some reason you cannot and are feeling very ambitious, you could always cook up polenta the old fashioned way, form it in to a tube and let it cool down to reach the same effect. But that seems like way too much effort.

This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite frozen meals, Amy’s Light and Lean Roasted Polenta. I try not to eat those pre-packaged entrees too much, but sometimes, they are so darn convenient. This one makes for a great lunch, but I recreated it for dinner last week.

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It was delicious and oh so easy.

Crispy Polenta With Kale and Tomato Sauce

1/2 tube polenta, cut in to 1/3 inch slices
1/2 can crushed tomatoes (I go for the fire roasted variety or the basil and oregano)
1 clove garlic
1 cup kale
Olive oil

1) Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Coat the bottom of the pan in olive oil and allow it to heat up. Drop in the polenta slices and cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until they are browning just slightly.

2) While the polenta is on, heat another skillet over medium heat and add about a teaspoon of olive oil. Add in the kale and garlic and saute for a few minutes. The kale should be softened and the garlic fragrant. Add in the tomatoes and continue to cook until the whole mixture is headed through.

3) Remove the polenta rounds from the pan and pat off excess oil (this helps to keep the rounds nice and crispy). Put polenta on a plate and top with the kale and tomato mixture. Top with parmesan cheese if desired.

Friday Faves

Did you survive the polar vortex? It’s weeks like these that I’m glad I work from home — and have my own personal space heater.

I’m finally back in to my rhythm in the kitchen. That holidays were so busy I rarely had time to cook at home. But now we’ve been whipping up delicious meals all week. We have this fun little system — Eric thinks up something that sounds good, I recreate it off the cuff. We’ve done that twice this week with great success, recipes to follow.

One key to the success of those recipes is Better than Bouillon, specifically the chicken one.

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It’s a bit pricier than the powder bouillon, but it is so superior that it is worth it. This adds a richness to dishes that call for chicken stock that makes it seem as if you have been slow cooking it all day. I also have the beef variety, but I use the chicken one a few times a week.

I’ve also been using our Corningware Lite bakeware a lot lately.

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It’s similar to traditional CorningWare, but it’s much lighter and sleeker. When we got married, we (well, I) registered for a set of this as well as a set of Pyrex (which really, you don’t need both…but what did I know?). I use the CorningWare all the time. I rarely use the Pyrex. I just find the Pyrex too bulky. And it doesn’t clean up as nicely as the CorningWare. If you are getting married or in the market for some good bakeware, I’d definitely recommend the CorningWare Lite.

OK, now let’s talk about my love of freeze dried fruit.

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Weird, maybe a little, but pretty tasty and a good healthy snack. Two of these are from Trader Joe’s, one from Whole Foods. The peaches and oranges are awesome. The cranberries a little tart for me, but I think I’m going to mix them in to oatmeal with some honey to cut the tartness a little. I prefer the freeze dried fruit to traditional dried fruit because the sugar content isn’t that high. Both TJ’s and WF’s have a wide selection of freeze dried fruit, so if you are looking to dive in, check those places out.

Coconut water fruit slushie

Remember when I said I might talk about healthy stuff? Well, here we go.

Disclaimer: I do not like smoothies. I don’t know what it is. I’m guessing it has something to do with I don’t like drinking yogurt. Something with the consistency I suppose. That being said, in my mind, this is NOT a smoothie. It’s a slushie. Or a healthy slurpee. Think of it however you want.

Now I know this isn’t rocket science and I didn’t reinvent the wheel or anything. But this combo is quite delicious. It’s great to satisfy your sweet tooth when you are trying to cut back on maybe not-so-good for you things and is quite filling if you need a snack between meals.

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I used an immersion blender to make this, but a regular blender or even a Magic Bullet would be great for this. I’ve had so many of these in the past few days I’ve considered getting a Magic Bullet, but like I need another kitchen appliance.

Coconut water fruit slushie

1 cup coconut water (or whatever liquid you like: water, juice, lemon-lime soda, etc)
1/2 cup frozen fruit (I used a combination of raspberries and peaches)

Note: I prefer frozen fruit in this to fresh because it gives the slushie a thicker consistency. Fresh fruit would give more of an aqua fresca type consistency, but the choice is up to you.

1) Place all the ingredients in a bowl or blender. Pulse unless the fruit is smooth and everything is combined. Garnish with fresh mint if desired.