shut the fridge

shut the fridge: dena gross

February 11, 2014

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welcome to another edition of “shut the fridge” where we take an apologetic look into some of the most interesting people’s refridgerator’s.

i have been on-my-knees begging for this latest post.

today we welcome dena gross.

dena is a friend…more of an online friend, because she’s that cool girl, i have not had the confidence yet to ask out for coffee, dinner or to just let me breathe in her prettiness.

first espied at the gym, and then {like so many of my other victims,} stalked on facebook, dena has become another katie casualty and graciously succumbed to my badgering, allowing us a glimpse into her, now east-coast {yes, sadly she and her family moved away this summer–from me?!?!?!?} life.

dena has 3 A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E {we’re talking like j.crew model–ALL 3} children..twins and a plus one; all very close in age..and yet she still seems super chill, VERY connected to her awesome husband jared, and as grounded as they come…no wonder she left orange county…

ladies and gents….dena gross:chickensoup (1 of 1)

Growing up in the heart of commercial California farming, watching Big Ag crop-

dust my small town with liquid pesticides at regular intervals, I developed a certainamount of cynicism about the food supply and the average American diet. Raised by a mother who believed that processed food was nutritionally void and cooking at home was more economical than buying pre-packaged meals, my sibs and I ate lots of homemade bread, chicken & barley stews, fresh eggs, vegetables, and drank unpasteurized milk that a local farmer delivered to us weekly (by the pail). These foods were healthier and cost much less when prepared by Mom.

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Having three young kids of my own, I believe my role as a parent is to train my children’s appetites for real food.

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If I am a little uncompromising with them it’s because I know that as they grow more independent they’ll have plenty of exposure to artificial dyes, bleached flour, and processed junk masquerading as food. I want the things they eat while they’re young to be the highest quality I can provide. And now Ms. Katie has asked to peek into my fridge and know a little more about my approach to feeding young kids healthful food. In the early days I had three kids under the age of 2, so I went through a long period of pureed meals. I dedicated many Sundays to steaming and blending every combination of vegetable, fruit, and protein I could think of (sometimes nabbing ideas off the labels of baby food jars). My husband Jared would entertain the babies while I pureed “recipes” and portioned them out by the ½-cup amount in zip-lock bags, freezing them flat on a cookie sheet and stacking them in labeled rows in my freezer; a veritable “library” of options for the week to come; defrost as needed. Five years later I no longer have the luxury of a captive audience.

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My kids have LOTS of opinions about what they don’t like and no one seems to be a fan of leafy greens (which is not negotiable in my book), so one of the mainstays in our house is a green smoothie several times a week. While I serve vegetables at every dinner and for many snacks, I find that by supplementing their diet with green smoothies I can be sure my bases are always covered.

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Smoothie ingredients vary but usually include a majority of the following (all organic): almond/dairy milk, avocado, big handfuls of raw kale, Swiss chard, spinach, green leaf lettuce, frozen bananas/grapes/pears, raw almonds or cashews, chia seeds, hemp seeds, mesquite powder, coconut butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and frozen berries.

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If I make a batch before school pickups and store them in a cooler on the passenger seat, the kids hop in the car whining for a snack and I hand them a green smoothie.

Done.

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But back to my fridge: Top shelf: whole milk, almond milk, many containers of nuts and seeds and trail mix. Fresh greens and herbs keep oodles longer in a jar of water. Barley and spelt flours for these lovely muffins from GOOP, which are a staple in our lunch boxes.

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Harmless Harvest coconut water is costly but a lovely indulgence, presumably full of natural electrolytes – we drink it straight because it’s too delicious to mix with other things.

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Also in my fridge you’ll find random items like roasted beets, a batch of cooked farro or wheat berries for serving cold as a salad in lunches, homemade beans (pimento, garbanzo, red kidney or white navy beans) to mix with brown rice or serve cold with a vinaigrette.

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The chicken on the bottom shelf represents a lot: salted & roasted with fingerling potatoes for dinner, a quick gravy from the drippings; panko-crusted baked “nuggets.” If there are any leftovers the kids will take chicken salad sandwiches for lunch.

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I often buy organic parts (wings, drumsticks, feet, necks) for stock that I use in soups, stews, and as the liquid for cooked grains.

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Recently tried making my own almond milk (see photo) and although it was sublimely creamy, it was a bit of a hassle to do on a regular basis. Plus, the “nut bag” could not be taken seriously.

fish sticks

My husband and I are not seafood fans so in order to get the kids a regular dose of healthy oils (outside of the panko-crusted fish sticks I make now and then), I supplement their diet a couple of times a week with Nordic Naturals fruit-flavored Cod Liver Oil.

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It’s a little gross but they’ve been eating it by the half-teaspoonful since infancy so they don’t think much of it. They also take a probiotic regularly.

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 Because dairy is my greatest weakness, elsewhere in my fridge you’ll find a very hearty cheese drawer stuffed with at least 6 varieties at any time.

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In my freezer are many of the usual suspects: frozen Ezekial sprouted grain English muffins (great toasted & slathered with almond butter and honey, but may explain my husband’s penchant for grabbing hot ham & egg sandwiches in the city before work), a backup supply of chicken stock and my collection of accumulated chicken parts for the next batch; leftover cannellini beans, Trader Joe’s Panang curry, and Niman Ranch uncured bacon. Berries or pineapple as fodder for future smoothies. And, of course, brie to be served warm with apricot jam because you can’t have too much cheese.

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shut the frige: melissa mcardle

December 12, 2013

 argh.

there just isn’t enough room on the this web, of worldwide reach, for me to properly convey my adoration, love, and, ok i’ll admit it, obsession over today’s guest editor.

the most rewarding part of blogging is the friendships i make. too often the relationships created amongst bloggers are confined to the comment section. and there is only so much one can convey with punctuation {!?!?!?,} bold font, and CAPITAL LETTERS; trust me, i’ve tried. 

now and again, like when rainbows double in the sky, i get to actually meet, touch, and breathe in these souls, and sometimes we even polish off a bottle of wine.

such is the case with melissa; mel to all of us who love her.

i found mel through her hypnotic blog, reverie~daydream. it was love at first post. mel has created a world for her family {the FIRST mcdreamy + adorable gaia, aka crumb,} where simple, beautiful living is the law of the land.

we lucky readers get to escape into a softer, gentler, dignified place where homemade reigns supreme, art can be found in the bottom of a teacup, and you’re only as happy as your nearest farmstand.

i can get lost for hours in mel’s dreamy images and lulling words; she truly is living a reverie~daydream.

thank you sweet mel for sharing a little of your life with us. love you.

reverie-daydream yoga

 

When my favorite girl, Katie, asked me to share what’s inside my refrigerator, I giggled to myself because really, who cares what I eat? But then I will do anything for Ms. Osumi, so with a full belly and happy heart, I gladly accepted and enjoyed this little voyeuristic journey into our fridge.

 You are what you eat. I believe this with all my heart. By no means am I a purist when it comes to food, but I do make eating healthy the number one priority in my little family’s world.

 Every time I open our refrigerator, I feel blessed. There is always something inside to fill our bellies and satiate our hunger, and this is something I never take for granted.

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We eat a lot of organic eggs, a daily habit I do not intend to break. Believe it or not, I’ve been known to farm sit just for the joy of daily collecting and eating fresh eggs.  Those little spheres of goodness are packed full of incredible nutrition. If you are a guest in our home, you can pretty much guarantee an egg, in some form or another, will be added to the meal. Whether it’s a bowl of quinoa with beans and an over medium-egg atop, a salad with hard-boiled eggs, or just an easy egg-salad tossed with raw kale, eggs might just be the shining star of our fridge.

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Homemade chicken stock is always at the ready on the top shelf (or in the freezer). Especially during autumn and winter, I make sure we have what my great-grandmother always referred to as “nature’s penicillin”.  Chicken broth goes into risotto, soups, grains and more. Most days, I find myself stirring in an egg as the ‘brodo’ boils, adding fresh parsley and black pepper, and voila!, a favorite meal. And let’s not allow the chicken to go to waste…toss into salads, add to grains, or have a fun taco night.

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Every morning, I add a little SuperFood boost to my sweet girl’s cranberry/orange juice. I’ve never been a huge breakfast eater, but I do need to eat before I start my yoga practice.   A slice of toast with almond, peanut or sunflower butter and sliced banana seems to do the trick until I am finished teaching and can fill my belly with eggs and/or quinoa.

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The shelves and drawers of the fridge cannot be filled enough with fruits and vegetables! My little girl is addicted to cucumber and carrots, and her papa and I cannot get enough kale and brussel sprouts.  Avocados never linger too long in our house until they most likely find themselves in this salad, and any loose greens can be found in our staple winter soup.  And even browning, seen their better days, bananas are saved for a delicious comfort food treat, or to add to a morning smoothie.

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My family of three subscribes to the old adage of an apple a day, keeps the doctor away. As well as the daily probiotic dose from our yogurt, each of us has a different taste for yogurt, so greek, goat and indulgent European style creamery yogurt are waiting patiently for any fruit or granola accouterments.

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 Coconut Oil is possibly my magic go-to item for everything…cooking, baking, skin and hair! I love it. Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, olive oil mayo,  Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, fresh-brewed black ice tea, sparkling water and seasonal fruit juices and local brewed artisanal beers are standard declicious accessories  which add colorful delight to the interior fridge doors.

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Raw dates are a staple food on the shelves. Whether I am filling one with almond butter for a quick snack, warming in a pan of olive oil and adding olives and sea salt, tossing into grains, using as key ingredient for raw desserts, or making these little power balls for myself and yoga students, dates are never out of my daily ingestion loop.

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And let’s talk kombucha. My husband and I love it, in fact, I believe he has more of a love affair for it than I do. Most of our favorites are local brews that can be found at the farmers market or health food store. My goal for 2014 is to brew our own, so by putting that out there, I can hold myself to this task. Fingers-crossed.

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And last by not least, the grand finale so to speak, every good girl should have an at-the-ready bottle of bubbly chilled for those unexpected celebratory moments as well as mama’s own little juice box of bubbly stocked and at the ready, merci beaucoup Sofia Coppola for this brilliant offering to the sparkling wine world!

Food makes me happy. My entire day revolves around what my family and I eat, and I thank my lucky stars every. single. day. for being able to live in a place which offers seasonal, organic and an amazing abundance of delicious, healthy foods. I am blessed, fully.

When it comes to food, as with most things in life, simple is best. Alice Waters sums up the beauty of how food/cooking should be honored in our daily lives:

1. Cook Together

2. Eat Together

3. Cook Simply, engaging all your senses.

4. Remember, food is precious

Healthy, simple food is a connection to so many things…it brings families and friends together, it can heal, it can energize, it can comfort, and it sustains and gives life.  Eat well, be well.

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shut the fridge

November 19, 2013

so here she is, i know you’ve been waiting for this one.

ever since my gorgeous and divine friend, raquel perry aka the fitness stalker, appeared in my girl crush series, i’ve had many people refer to that “amazing,” “beautiful,” and “inspiring” woman.

she is all of those things and more.

lucky us we get to see what is in this bionic’s woman’s fridge:

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When the lovely Ms. Osumi honored me with her request to write about, and photograph the innards of my fridge, I must admit, I was nervous. Not nervous because I don’t enjoy letting peeps in on my lifestyle, or habits, (in fact I will gladly bore you to tears with the details of my beloved green smoothie,) but because I was sure that everyone expects my refrigerator contents to be nothing but lettuce, kale and alfalfa sprouts.

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I do buy a lot of greens. Kale, spinach, chard and broccoli are always in the crisper. Organic is a must when it comes to these gems. But, there is certainly more than the green stuff. Allow me to give you a guided tour:

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Firstly, my green smoothies are a part of my daily routine. So much so, that when we went to the desert for Spring Break with the kiddos, I packed my trusty Vitamix. I usually use a base of the So Delicious unsweetened vanilla coconut milk. Sometimes I opt for unsweetened vanilla hemp milk, or organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I add in frozen banana, Warrior Brand Raw vegan protein, and flax seeds, chia seeds, and tons of greens. There is no special recipe, I like to add in as much of the green stuff as possible, since thanks to the fruit and protein powder, you really cannot even taste it.

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Next on that top shelf, is Veganaise. This mayonaise-like spread has won over everyone in my family, including the picky hubby and kiddos. Same goes for Earth Balance spread that I swear is as yummy as butter. K.T.’s Gingerade Kombucha are a must have, as are Ritual Wellness organic cold pressed juice. Spicy Greens is my current fave. The Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar Limeade are also in large supply after Ms. Katie O turned me on to them!

Bread is almost always the sprouted Ezekiel bread, flax-seed version. Delish, extra fiber and again, a hit with the entire fam.

I also have on hand the cinnamon raisin sprouted grain English muffins. This is a handy breakfast for the kiddos with a dollop of Earth Balance spread and honey. In fact the tortillas by Ezekiel are also always in the fridge.

While I do not eat meat of any kind, except the occasional fish, my family does. All meats are organic and grass-fed when possible. I always have black beans that I have made with lots of garlic, and onions, or some chickpeas at the ready for a quick addition to a salad or meal.

RP’s makes a gluten-free fresh pasta made from brown rice flour. I especially adore the no-bake lasagne sheets, which make for any easy veggie lasagne that I pack as many vegetables into as I can. I also make the fusilli with hemp seed pesto.

I am currently loving “White Girl Salsa,” in Mild Tomatillo flavor.  If the name weren’t chuckle-worthy enough, then the flavor will win you over. Even though I am part hispanic, I am a wimpy white girl when it comes to spices. This salsa is perfect for my mild hotness.  😉

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This time of year you will always find organic Honeycrisp apples in the fridge. Either eaten alone, or made into a baked apple, dusted with cinnamon and stevia, and finished off with a bit of plain coconut milk yogurt, they never fail to satisfy.

Cheese is not off-limits for me. In fact, I LOVE it. It was far easier eliminating meat from my diet than it would be to cut out mozzarella, feta or goat cheese. I just make sure they are organic varieties.

Finally, let’s check out the freezer. Frozen grapes, (to nosh,) frozen berries, bananas, spinach, and pineapple and frozen wheatgrass cubes are always stocked and ready to be made into a smoothie. I buy organic ice cream for the kiddos and Matt, and So Delicious brand coconut ice cream for me. Chocolate is the flavor I have been grabbing lately, and I top it off with a spoonful of peanut butter or Nuttzo.

Bottom line is, that while I may have the reputation for never eating anything “fun” I enjoy everything I eat. Food enjoyment is a funny thing. Once your body learns to taste real food, limited processed foods, and not tons of added sugars, it not only adjusts, but learns to love the taste of things in their more pure state. Same goes for water consumption. Start lugging and chugging that water bottle everywhere you go, and it becomes second nature.

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I have been through so many “diet phases,” and have found that the best diet, is not a diet at all. It’s one’s daily way of life that is sustainable, and not overly complicated. Eat real food, limit processed foods, and added sugars, and you can’t go wrong. Our bodies are such amazing machines that we ask so much of on a daily basis, doesn’t it make sense to fill it with the best fuel possible? And if eating organic, drinking alkaline water and limiting foods that are processed helps with my longevity and that of my family, then I am all for stacking that deck in our favor.

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