We’re Raising Chicks!

Meet Olive and Chickpea!

These two silkie chickens from VJP Poultry Farm have stolen my heart this summer.

When I studied abroad in France last June, my host family had two pet chickens in their backyard. I thought it was the most amazing concept, but I never thought to have chickens of my own.

This summer, on a whim, I decided to get two little babies to take care of. My parents have a big backyard with a lot of privacy, so it is the perfect environment for chicks to roam free! My dad, being a farm boy growing up, gladly agreed. We called and picked them up that day.

They were born on April 23, 2018, so they are roughly 1 month old now. We got them when they were only a week old!

Why silkies? Good question.

  1. Silkie chickens are the fluffiest and most cuddly chickens out there
    • They have very soft, silky-feeling feathers
    • They are very friendly and good to keep as pets
  2. Due to their fluffy feathers, silkie chickens can’t fly
  3. Their skin, bones and meat are all black!
    • Yeah, we probably won’t eat them
    • Our chickens have white feathers, but they come in other colors
  4. They have five toes, instead of 4 like most chickens.
  5. They might produce eggs, but we won’t know until they grow up!
    • Silkies aren’t the best egg layers, but we didn’t get them for their eggs. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I have definitely taken on the role of the mother hen. I love watching their feathers (and personalities) grow. My favorite part about being a 21-year-old-single-unemployed mother is when they fall asleep on my lap as I stroke their feathers. ❤

Chickpea loves to cuddle, while Olive is a little more fiesty. They love exploring, digging, napping and eating worms. They are afraid of loud noises and bumble bees, but enjoy spending quality time outdoors. They climb all over my brother and I, and try to run away during chicky photoshoots. Typical.

They look like little T-rexs running around my backyard, but one day they are gonna be chicken-puppy hybrids. I will write an updated post once they get bigger! Check out my personal instagram for more photos!

For now, just enjoy growth updates:

April 29th:

May 9th:

May 15th:

May 20th

May 24th:

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The Best Guacamole Recipe!!

Ingredients: 2 ripe avocado 1 roasted garlic clove 1/4 cup diced cherry tomatoes 1/2 small red onion freshly squeezed lime juice roughly chopped cilantro sea salt & black pepper Mash avocado in a medium sized bowl, add garlic, tomatoes, onion, … Continue reading

How to Make a Salad that Doesn’t Suck

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We get it. You think salads are boring, unsatisfying and the epitome of diet food. But munching on greens doesn’t have to suck! If you don’t like salad, you probably don’t know how to make a good one. Delicious salads (or any food) should be colorful, vibrant and fresh with lots of interesting components. I promise you won’t feel the need to eat pizza after you make one of these amazing salads. They will keep you full and help you get in more veggies in your diet!

How to Make a badass Salad:

1) Use an Array of Greens!

Ditch the lettuce! Your salad will be infinitely better with other delicious and nutritious greens. Experiment and find a mix that you like.  Try kale, spinach, and arugula or even add some herbs!

2) Add Textures and Color

Make your salad interesting by adding something crunchy. Good quality croutons, nuts and seeds are what I like best. You can even add other crunchy veggies like celery, cabbage or shredded carrots. The options are endless!

3) Add protein & Healthy Fats

This will keep you full and make the salad satisfying. If you eat meat, try add some chicken, steak or seafood. I almost always add cheese because, well, everything is better with cheese!

More options:

  • Avocado
  • Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans
  • Hummus
  • Chickpeas
  • Hard-boiled egg

 4) Add Fruit or Additional Veggies!

Use whatever you have in the house! Don’t overcomplicate it by adding too many ingredients. Maybe some strawberries or dried cranberries? Olives? Radishes? Use what you like and make it work for you! One of my favorite summer combinations is: Spinach, strawberries, goat cheese, walnuts and lemon vinaigrette! Don’t be afraid of adding fruit!

5) Make your own Dressing!

It’s always going to be easy to buy a bottle of salad dressing from the grocery store, but making your own is so simple and more beneficial. You can control all the amounts and ingredients. Lots of processed salad dressings can contain unnecessary ingredients and emulsifiers. Try sticking to an oil & vinegar based dressing rather than a creamy one.  A good salad always needs some type of acid – lemons, limes, balsamic or apple cider vinegar is the way to go.

 

Here are some of my favorite go-to dressings!

Methods: Use a whisk and a small bowl to combine ingredients or find a small mason jar and shake until the oil and vinegar everything is emulsified.

The most simple Lemon Vinaigrette: ½ lemon squeezed, 2 tbsp. olive oil, sea salt & black pepper

Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette: 1 clove of crushed garlic, 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. raw honey, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, sea salt & black pepper

Maple Tahini Dressing: 2 tbsp. tahini paste, 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. organic maple syrup, a squeeze of lemon or vinegar, sea salt & black pepper

Herb Vinaigrette: ½ lemon squeezed, 2 tbsp. chopped herbs (basil, parsley or thyme), 1 tbsp. raw honey, 2 tbsp. olive oil, sea salt & black pepper

Easy Seafood Paella

I was inspired from my trip to Spain to make this amazing regional dish! Full of bold flavors, spices and the most amazing rice you will ever taste!  Paella is definitely my new favorite food and I was so excited to come home and attempt to make it myself. The concept is very simple – just rice, veggies and any meat or seafood. It turned out so amazing and I am happy to share the recipe with you!

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Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Arborio rice
  • 2 cups approx. chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 cup red and green bell peppers
  • ¼ cup frozen green peas
  • ¼ cup artichokes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. black pepper or cayenne pepper
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Your choice of seafood: I used shrimp & mussels
  • 1/8 cup fresh parsley

Method:

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  1. Prep rice, seafood and broth ahead of time – cut peppers and veggies into bite sized pieces
  2. In a cast iron pan or deep skillet, cook peppers in olive oil for 4-5 minutes until slightly softened.
  3. Add rice and “toast” for 2 minutes
  4. Add peas, garlic and any other vegetable, stir for 1 minute. Artichokes and green beans are also common.
  5. Add broth to the mixture and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes until rice is cooked. Cover and stir occasionally. Add more broth or water as needed.
  6. During this time you can cook the seafood separately or add it on top of the rice 5-10 minutes before it is done. The heat from the pan will cook the seafood. Be sure to cover with lid.
  7. Top with parsley and serve
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Cook peppers for in olive oil, add rice and “toast” for 2 minutes

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Add peas and any other vegetables you’d like! Cook for 1 minute

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Add chicken or veggie broth and simmer for 30-40 minutes

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Final product w/ fresh parsley! Enjoy

Pro Tips:

  • Saffron is usually used to give the rice a golden color. Since it is the most expensive spice in the world, I used turmeric as a substitute. Real Paella uses saffron! If you can find it, use it!
  • Traditionally, Arborio rice is used for paella, but I used a combination of short grain brown rice and Arborio. Use what you have! Any rice will work.
  • Make your own chicken or veggie broth! If you have leftover chicken or old veggies you need to use up, there’s no excuse not to make one! I made my own veggie broth using leftover carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, basil, oregano, bell peppers, and zucchini. I simply sautéed the veggies in some olive oil and poured in 2 ½ cups of water once the veggies had cooked for 6-7 minutes. I let is simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Adjust amounts of broth and rice accordingly. If you like your rice more tender, add more broth.
  • Add any seafood, meat, or keep it vegetarian! In Spain I had both chicken paella and seafood paella. Use what you have and make it work for you!
  • If you like your veggies to keep more texture in the dish, saute them less time in the beginning of the recipe. I like my peas and peppers to keep their color (and nutritional value!)

Fresh from the Market: France 2017

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I’ve had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in France this past month through the University of Minnesota. I’m so excited to come back and share some amazing recipes and talk about my experience with you all! I’ve been exploring Paris, Nantes and Angers while learning about the agriculture and food systems. One of the highlights of this trip was visiting the beautiful farmers markets with my host mom every Saturday. I have never been happier being surrounded by an abundance of fruits and veggies, all grown locally and organically.

The first thing I noticed was the connection to food in this country. I’ve been visiting so many organic farms with my classmates and it’s truly incredible to see the value that people put into their food. I’ve noticed that most French people are aware of where their food comes from and really strive to buy produce that was grown in France.

My message to you: shop local and know where your food comes from!

Some of the best apricots and cherries I’ve eaten on this trip came from my host family’s backyard. Also the best Camembert cheese I’ve tasted came from a small farm, where I got to meet the cows and watch the farmer produce the very product that he loves.

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Some amazing goat cheese I bought ❤

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Best Pre & Post Workout Snacks

Best Pre and Post Workout Snacks: How to slay your workout!

A question that I get asked frequently is what you should eat before and after you workout! Knowing when and what to eat can make a big difference in your fitness performance. It is important to listen to your body and fuel it properly with the right foods. If you are properly nourished, you will feel good from the inside out and have a killer workout!

The key: Protein and Carbohydrates

It is important to eat both protein and carbohydrates pre and post workout. Glucose is the main source of fuel for out cells. When we eat carbohydrates, our body converts the energy into glucose and stores it in the form of glycogen. When we exercise, our bodies use glycogen and ATP to get our muscles moving!

Since our bodies only store a small supply, it is important to replenish with good food. Studies suggest that eating or drinking carbohydrates before exercising can improve fitness performance and allows you to workout for a longer duration or at a higher intensity.

After a good sweat session, your body restocks glycogen and repair muscle proteins. Eating protein after a workout helps increase muscle synthesis, enhance recovery and restore glycogen in the body. Fueling yourself with the right nutrients is very important to ensure optimal fitness performance

Best Timing: Eat 45-60 Minutes Beforehand!

Eating too much or too little can make you feel sluggish or lightheaded when you exercise. It can also give you stomach cramps in the middle of a workout. I recommend that you eat a small snack 45 minutes before and after working out. Try not to go longer than 2 hours without eating if you are planning on working out that day.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants – Michael Pollen

Here are some snacks that I recommend. They are easy, portable, budget friendly, and will help you get through a fantastic workout.

  • Apple & peanut butter
  • Banana & almond butter
  • Plain greek yogurt w/ granola
  • Smoothie (check out recipe on my blog)
  • Nuts or trail mix (dried nuts & fruit)
  • Hummus & carrots
  • Oatmeal w/ fruit
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Sweet potato
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Protein bar (make sure you read the ingredients! Look for good quality bar with no refined sugar snickers bar)
  • WATER!!! I know this is not necessarily a carb or protein, but water is often overlooked. Staying hydrated is key to ensuring a good workout. If you sweat, replenish with lots and lots of water.

Snack Examples: 

Greek yogurt, granola & fruit

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Avocado, Egg, Sweet potatoes, Raspberries

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Brown rice cake, avocado, egg, orange

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Ginger kombucha (fermented tea) & bar

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Overnight oats w/ fruit & granola

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Egg, veggies & hummus

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Peanut Butter Energy bites: Full Recipe Here

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Smoothie of the Day #8

Smoothie Ingredients:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Ginger
  • Lemon
  • 1 frozen banana
  • Handful of Strawberries
  • Maca Powder
  • Chia seeds

I used 1 tsp. of maca powder & 1 tbsp. chia seeds
I put everything in a blender & added a frozen banana to make the smoothie creamy!

Amazing! This is truly my favorite color! 🙂

Health benefits of Maca Powder:

  • Increases energy
  • reduces oxidative stress
  • improves memory
  • helps balance hormones
  • Supports thyroid health
  • improves cognative function
  • High in iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium ❤