Tag Archives: Snacks

Pointers for Potlucks

Food often accompanies the festive winter holidays and what better way to make a gathering easier to manage than hosting a potluck? Here are a few of the tools I recommend for streamlining the scheduling and the menu planning.

Scheduling made easy:

My favorite solution to find the best date and time that works for an event is Doodle. Trying to coordinate schedules for multiple people can be a bit of a bear. Below is a screenshot of a fake poll that I set up to show a hypothetical potluck that is scheduled for April of 2016. As you can see from the user interface, folks can enter their name and availability. In this instance, Sat., April 9 at 12pm works best for everyone.

Menu planning made easy:

As for the dishes and accoutrements, this year I discovered the online tool Perfect Potluck. It is wonderful for coordinating ownership for various items. As the host you can list out what you think you’ll need; e.g.,: 3 appetizers, 4 mains, 2 desserts,  2 bottles of wine, 12-pack of soda, etc.  Then, participants can easily sign up. In the screen shot below for a summer picnic potluck, the names and phone numbers have been blocked for privacy.

 Our Favorite Potluck Dish

And speaking of the menu…perhaps you’d like to try one of our favorite recipes for your next gathering?

Meredith…My go-to potluck dish is Mac ‘N Cheese! My fiancé and I are suckers for cheesy goodness over pasta, but I don’t often make macaroni and cheese unless I’m making it for a crowd (goodness knows we’d devour the whole dish in one sitting!). I’ve tried several recipes over the years, but this Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese from Mommy? I’m Hungry! food blog is one of my favorites. Pasta, cheese, and butter…does it get any better? This dish is the homemade version of the classic bluebox from Kraft that started it all! Mac ‘n cheese is always a crowd-pleaser, and with this recipe you get it right every time!

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Kristi…Whenever a potluck calls, I immediately think salads. First, my husband is a strict Paleo so I unfortunately have to stay away from those delicious casserole dishes and decadently sweet treats (…MOST of the time). He’s a major green veggie eater, and so am I, so salads tend to meet both of our needs. What I love about bringing a salad is that you can completely ‘style’ your salad to a specific occasion or season—something with fresh citrus, avocado and romaine for the Summer, to a cranberry and roasted walnut over a bed of spinach for the Fall. I typically start with some of my favorite blogs, including Gimme Some Oven who has a beautiful gallery of salad recipes, but I do like to go off the grid and incorporate in seasonal veggies that I have on hand. Finally, salads are incredibly portable. I typically weave as many ingredients as I can and bring a small mason jar of dressing. Also, there are so many fantastic multi-functional containers that allow you to prep, transport and serve your dish.

Salad 1

Bri… Seasonal fruit salad. (You can tell I’m not the chef of the group!) For a potluck this fall, I’ll likely use persimmon and pomegranate. For taste, price and environmental benefits, I prefer to use organic produce from local farmers, so shopping at my town farmers’ market makes it quite easy to put together a sweet and healthy dish for potlucks.

fruit salad

Bon Appétit!

The fight of the century: Carbs vs. Me

The fight of the century. No, I’m not referring to the #MayPac fight or Avengers vs. Ultron. I’m talking about carbs.

My relationship with them has been complicated over the years. In the early 90’s, I watched my parents and their network of friends get swept up in Phase 1 of the Atkins diet. All of the chatter about the benefits of eating as much as one liked on the no-to-low carb diet was pan-seared into my brain.

Fast forward 20 years. When I  haven’t had enough sleep or when I’m stressed out and then faced with food choices, it can sometimes still feel like a battle royale of Good vs. Evil.  “Are all donuts bad? What if they’re vegan and made of alternatives like egg replacer, almond flour, coconut flour, applesauce and pumpkin puree?”

My fellow TK bloggers and I believe that carbs are an important part of a balanced diet and that some carbs are better than others. Today, we’re sharing a few of our favorites. Starting with…

Bri… Months ago I was at the store looking for sprouted whole grain bread. I wasn’t looking for low-carb/low-calorie, but I came across this gem and decided to give it a go. At 50 calories and 6.5 net carbs per slice, this flax seed bread is now part of my breakfast almost every morning. The first five ingredients: sprouted organic whole wheat berries, filtered water, wheat gluten, flax seeds (see this article on benefits of flax seeds!), and oat fiber. Toasted with a tablespoon of almond butter, it’s a delicious part of my day.

bread

Kristi… I have had a lifelong friendship with starchy carbs! Nothing beats mashed potatoes, creamy mac n’ cheese and the delicious crunch of fresh French bread. Unfortunately, my 30-something life now includes a slower metabolism and a husband that doesn’t eat many carbs at all. The compromise? A blossoming friendship with sweet potatoes. Sure it’s not completely the same, but it’s a fairly good substitute, and it has become a staple in our household. In addition to just roasting sweet potatoes in the oven, I love cubing them into a breakfast hash to accompany fresh veggies and over-easy eggs, and mashing them with a dab of non-fat Fage Greek yogurt to make a creamy, yet flavorful, dinner side.

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Meredith…I live with a man who would choose to the eat simple carbs for each meal (if I let him). We’re big pasta fans in our household, but with a wedding on the horizon and the need to be healthier, we have found a perfect alternative to white pasta: Brown Rice & Quinoa Pasta from Trader Joe’s. This pasta has no “bad carbs” and instead has a blend of 20% organic quinoa flour and 80% organic brown rice flour—so we still get our pasta fix without the sugar-rush that comes with a simple carbohydrate. This pasta can be used for an easy weeknight meal—top with marinara sauce or olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and you’re ready to go! For a quick protein addition, sauté chicken or shrimp and serve on top.

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If you have a favorite carb, let us know what it is and how you like to prepare it.

Healthy Tips for Your Work Day

I was reminiscing the other day about middle school. We had it pretty good during our teenage years. We arrived at school around 8:30 a.m.  By mid-morning we had a 10-minute break. Around noon, we had a nice long lunch with plenty of time to move around, prior to the “long stretch” of three torturous hours of sitting still until freedom at 3:00 p.m.

As adults in the working world, our days often begin earlier and end later, and the middle portion is full of sedentary time. As a result, there’s a growing emphasis on understanding how we can mix healthy habits into our 8+ hours of office time.

Below is a short list of a few easy-to-incorporate tips that can put the “healthy” in your work day.

  • Drinking, Drinking and More Drinking – And no, I’m not referring to the good stuff, but just plain H20. Staying hydrated is such an important step to good health, and I find that having it conveniently placed on my desk keeps me drinking, even if I get stuck for an hour or two in my office. To maximize my water intake, I like to keep several vessels for drinking water on my desk.
    • The first is my CamelBak Eddy 1L water bottle ($16). This water bottle is spill-proof, so it’s a versatile item that can go from a my desk to a designer purse to a hiking backpack.
    • The second is an inexpensive Ikea Water Carafe ($2.50). I get a few glasses worth of water, which minimizes the number of trips to our coffee station, and I can conveniently pour it right into my desk mug.

Healthy Tips 1

  1. Calendar a Break Time – I also like to add a break reminder to my ever-busy Work calendar. Whether you use an electronic or paper organizing system, don’t forget to schedule a quick break in between your meetings and calls. As an electronic organizer, I like to schedule “Stretch Time” on my Outlook calendar. The electronic pinging sound and the pop-up reminder jogs my memory to take a break. Depending on my day, a break can just be a quick stroll outside for some fresh air or even just a reminder to stand up and stretch.

Healthy Tips 2

  1. Stand Up Conference Calls – Another tip is to take conference calls on speaker phone and stand up. I have terrible posture, and I find that by standing it helps me to get my shoulders back a bit more. Several long-winded conference calls haven taken place in the past few months, so this is now a common practice that I’ve come to appreciate. On a similar note, consider bringing a bolster or other amenities for your chair to help your posture when you’re seated.
  2. Disinfect Your Workspace – I am not personally a huge germ-a-phobe, but I am a proponent of good cleaning. I like to wipe down my keyboard, mouse, phone (including mobiles) and general workspace on a consistent basis. Our supply room has a multitude of these convenient antibacterial towelettes which make a quick clean quite handy, but you can also easily pick up a Lysol container at your next grocery trip and store it in your drawer.

Healthy Tips 3

  1. Snack Healthy – Are you an in-between-meal snacker? Consider stocking your desk drawer with healthy snacks. For those with office space, consider bringing in a more stylish home décor piece like a fruit basket and stock it on Monday with healthy, grabbable snacks. This will help you avoid running to the kitchen when someone emails that they brought in doughnuts.

The bottom line is that we spend more and more time in our workspace, and thus have to have a stronger awareness of how we can adapt our lifestyles to ensure we’re staying healthy.

Do you have any work-related healthy tips that you utilize? If so, we’d love to have you share.