My HelloFresh review 

Eating healthy and cooking your meals at home is being popular with my generation. As much as people want to do this, time and knowledge are lacked. Who has time to find healthy recipes, do all the shopping, prep all the food, and make a delicious meal! It seems even more impossible to do fun, creative meals because who wants to buy an entire package of an item when you will only need a teaspoon of it and may never use it again. That’s were these new meal delivery services come into play.


My friend had a free trial to give for HelloFresh and handed it off to me to try. The free trial was for one week and for 2 persons meal. A week is only actually 3 meals. I went on the website and found the week that best fit our diet. They allow you to choose 3 meals out of a menu they generated for that week.

The thing I loved is that it gave the nutrition facts for each meal! It made choosing our week easy. Last night we got our delivery and decided to dive in to our first meal. I loved how they packaged each meal separately. We’ve tried other meal delivery services and they usually just throw all the ingredients in the box together for all the meals. If I’m buying it for convenience then I truly want convenience!


We decided to do the Garlic Lime Chicken.

Now I’m the one who usually cooks. However, while cooking, Sammy became hungry. So I had to sit at the island and breastfeed him and handed Alex the spatula. He wasn’t too excited to do it because he’s not the best cook, but I think it shows how great this service really is for the new cook!

Alex pulled everything out and was a little upset with the waste. Why did they have to individually wrap the corn? Thankfully, their website actually promotes being green and tells you how to recycle each item.

Now I’m not going to go into details on how to make this particular meal since the website gives great details on how to do it. My husband was able to follow it easily. Although, I did have to teach him how to cut an avocado. No easy task when your hands are full and a knife is involved! We survived with no lost fingers.


The salsa we made was the most difficult part. It said mash with a fork after the tomatillos after they cooked. Alex had difficulty mashing the skin of it and it ended up just being random large chunks. Before serving I was able to cut them down into smaller bits, but they could have given more detail in the proper technique of this.


The finish product was delicious though! The best part was the honey jalapeño butter on the corn! We used heart healthy butter alternative and it still tasted great! It was a little sweet and a little spicy. A perfect topping for corn! I’ll probably be doing this to all of the corn I make in the future.

The chicken and salsa was also the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. These had all the ingredients I could easily find at our local grocery store so it’s a meal we can easily make again.

The plus side is that it’s only 140 mg of sodium! The killer though was the fat and saturated fat. 34 g of fat and 11 g of saturated fat. That’s assuming we used regular butter though, so we were able to reduce that by a bit.

Although, I probably won’t be subscribing to this, I would recommend it. If you have a busy life and diet restrictions, this service may be helpful to you. Every week might not fight your needs, but you can easily skip those weeks. I think this would be a great way to help you stick to your diet without spending a lot. It will also teach you knew techniques and recipes to use in future meals. It also helps with serving size control. There is only enough for 2 servings and since they are sending you the ingredients you can’t go over.

Let me know if you have any meal service recommendations other than HelloFresh’s. I would love to give some others a try!

Our Vacation in Door County

My little family and I were just on vacation. We went to the beautiful Door County in Wisconsin. This was my husband’s (Alex) first time. I went a few times as a young child with my dad, but just have a few memories of it. I think I was under 10 years old each time. This was my son’s first vacation as well!

If you never been I highly recommend it! Great views, great food, and great wine! What more can a girl ask for!


Here’s Alex and Sammy enjoying the view in Baileys Harbor. This was our first stop because Alex wanted to check out Door County Brewing Co. Worth the stop! I would recommend their Big Sister witbier. A great summer beer especially by the water.

 

Lately Alex and have been getting one beer flight to split. They come with anywhere from 3-10 little tasters. You get to try a bunch of beer without getting completely drunk. It’s perfect for a breastfeeding mom and a dad on a diet. We probably had a little less than 1 beer total since we split the flight.

We actually stayed in Sisters Bay, which is on the other side of the peninsula. We stayed at the Nordic Lodge. A little cozy hotel, with a swimming pool, the nicest staff, great cherry coffee in the lobby, and a small but filling continental breakfast! Since we had Sammy, the staff would always stop us to say hi to him! Nothing stops people like a baby!

We found that Door county is a great place for someone on the Mediterranean Diet. Fish is often the center of meals, a glass of wine with dinner is encouraged, and you get plenty of exercise just by walking around the small towns.

Our first dinner was at an outdoor restaurant called Fred and Fuzzy’s Waterfront Bar and Grill. We wanted to eat our first dinner by the open water and this place delivered on that!


We both got fish sandwiches for dinner. Alex got the salmon burger with sweet potato fries and I got the grilled whitefish bay fillet with chips. This light and delicious Coleslaw was also a side for both.

(Please excuse my terrible picture of the food! I was so hungry at this point that I took these pictures as fast as I could!)

When ordering, Alex told them no extra salt. The sweet potato fries were the healthiest option for a side sadly. We were hoping a side salad would have been an option but no such luck! Luckily the fries weren’t greasy at all!

This was Alex’s first experience with a salmon burger. He was craving a real burger and thought he would be disappointed. He found this salmon burger to be extremely delicious! The fish tasted very fresh and the fresh herbs mixed in boosted that flavor even more!

Although we didn’t know how much salt was truly in the dish, we went for the healthiest option. Becoming more conscious about what type of food you are eating is the biggest part for the Mediterranean diet. Trying to chose the healthier option and understanding what is in your food is the key. Some days you might not be able to eat perfectly healthy or follow the diet to a T and that’s okay. Making better decisions is the most you can do!

The next few days went by quickly it seemed. We went hiking at Pennisula State Park and had a picnic at the beach afterwards.


We went on a scenic guided tour with Door County Trolley. Highly recommend this! Our guide was pack full of information! Found out that Door County got its name by being called deaths door in the past. Apparently traveling by water to get here is no easy task! They have various types of tours including a wine tour and a ghost tour, both of which I plan to do in the future.


At last, the vacation had to end… before leaving we had to check out a winery! We went to Lautenbach’s. We went on a little tour and got to taste their fabulous wines and treats! We missed the cherry picking season though so next year we will have to go back early.

Remember, the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle change. Going on vacation taught us that it can be difficult to meet the diet’s needs when away from home. Eating out can be a challenge. But you just need to relax, choose the best options available, and always enjoy a glass of wine with dinner!

Road Trip Eating

We are currently driving to Door County in Wisconsin! We are having a mini vacation there, first one with Sammy! I’ll sure to post  about the adventures from this weekend. We had to stop for lunch. We wanted a quicker lunch so that we could get to Door County in the afternoon still. 

We were driving on the highway and looking at the road signs to see what restaurants were off the exit. We saw Panera Bread and thought that was probably our healthiest option. 

I got my favorite, half a Greek salad and half a bowl of the broccoli cheddar soup, YUM!! Alex had a harder time finding something that fit into the diet. That started our conversation about perceived health in the United States. 

You always see advertisements for less fat, low calorie, or low carb, but heart health is often not mentioned. The amount of sodium in everything is truly unbelievable. I never realized how much we Americans love our salt. I knew fried food was a problem but sodium is even in things that seem “healthy”. 

There was a line when ordering, so Alex didn’t get the nutrion facts pamphlet. He got what sounded the healthiest. Apparently that wasn’t the smartest idea… you live and learn right?! 

He ended up getting the half strawberry poppyseed with chicken salad and the half roasted turkey, apple & cheddar on cranberry walnut miche sandwich. That’s a mouth full!

As a side note, it can be hard to find the nutrition facts on the restaurant’s website. We found it easier to just Google “restaurants name nutrition facts” and it will come up right away. Click here for Panera Bread’s nutrition facts. 


The salad only had 140 mg of sodium, so not bad at all! The sandwich, however, was not so good. It had 640 mg of sodium! And that was just a half sandwich! This sandwich was low calorie so it would seem really healthy. He originally was going to have a full sandwich and no salad but changed his mind thankfully. 

The reason why it had so much salt is because it had this coleslaw on it, which was not mentioned in the sandwiches name. That’s why, my friends, you can’t just go off the name when ordering. 

I ended up eating half of his sandwich so he had 320 mg of sodium on the sandwich and 140 mg of sodium on the salad. Plus the 440 mg of sodium in that small baguette! So 800 mg of sodium in the entire meal! 

We will be smarter for the rest of the trip! Going out to eat has been the hardest thing for us so far. We didn’t realize how much hidden sodium is in everything. Don’t let names fool you, look at the actual numbers before deciding! Please comment on what the hardest challenge you have had on this diet, or any other diets you’ve tried. We would like to know what the common struggles are for everyone so we know what to keep an eye out for. 

What could have been…

I’m currently sitting on my couch, breastfeeding my son. He’s a little over 2 months now. I never knew how much I would love being a mom. I’ve always wanted to be a mom and thought I would make a good one. Wanting to be something and actually becoming that are two different things. Sometimes reality is worse than you expected and sometimes better. Being a mom is a billion times better than what I could have imagined! 


It’s even better because I have such a loving husband. He is such a great father too! The few days Alex was in the hospital were tough on us. I was physically and emotionally drained at the end. The first week home, Alex wasn’t allowed to pick our son up because he was passed the weight limit. I found myself having to do nearly everything around house. I mowed the lawn, did the chores, was the only one who could watch my son, and made all the meals. 

All of this gave me a huge appreciation for single moms. I couldn’t imagine doing all of this on my own forever! Yet, that could have easily been our life. 

Alex’s doctor basically said that he’s lucky to be alive. His Left Anterior Descending Artery was blocked at least 90% and it was the artery that supplies 50% of the blood to heart. If you get a heart attack from this artery they call it the widow maker. 

Alex and I laugh at it now. Mostly because it’s easier to laugh at what could have been then than to face the truth head on. Whenever I’m sick of making each meal homemade, doing extra steps to avoid sodium, and just want to throw a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner, I think of that. It gives us motivation to change our lifestyle. It’s more for the future of our son than us. Parenthood changes your perspective on everything!!

Holy Salt! The Honey Soy Salmon Challenge

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Asian foods are some of my favorite food! Especially Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. However, soy sauce is often used in them. Sadly soy sauce is basically just salt. The Pioneer Woman has a great recipe for Honey Soy Salmon. It is quick, easy, and delicious! I decided to attempt to make this recipe, but using less salt. A challenge, but a fun one!

Aldi is our go to grocery store. We often shop there for pantry, meat, and frozen items and then go to our local farmer’s market for produce.  Most of the food used in the recipe and that I will be showing will be from Aldi.

First thing first, the salmon.  I was told growing up the wild caught fish is always better than farm raised fish. However, this is highly debated. I tend to agree that wild caught is better for most fish, but there are arguments for farm raised. Nutritionist, Monica Reinagel , wrote an article outlining the pros and cons for both sides. I found it to be a great source to find the arguments for both sides and help you decide what is best for your family.

 

 

When buying remember to look at the nutrition facts. The first thing I check is the ingredient list. Pink Salmon is the only ingredient with these. Sometimes, frozen meat have added salt to help preserve it, so I make sure that we don’t buy anything with unnecessary salt. The next area I look at is serving size. Each piece of salmon is one serving. Then I look at the Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, and Sodium. The goal is to be less than 20% for all of these. Salmon has a lot of healthy fat and very little saturated and no trans fat. You need healthy fat in your diet to help raise the HDL, aka the Good Cholesterol.

Since the goal for this recipe is to lower the salt, that is what I will be highlighting. There is only 75 mg of sodium in the salmon, so pretty low. The FDA recommends having less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.

To season the salmon, the recipe calls for pepper and salt. I use pepper and then paprika instead of salt. Look at that color!

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The recipe then called to cook the salmon in butter and olive oil. We have an oil shop in my town called The Oilerie . If it sounds familiar, it is because they were featured on Shark Tank. They have a great selection of olive oils that are infused with different flavors. This is a great way to cut salt without losing flavor. The olive oil I used for this recipe is called Fior Fiore Italian E.V.O.O. This particular olive oil has a butter flavor to it. We are trying to use less butter in cooking, so this olive oil was a great substitute.

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Next is the sauce for the salmon. There are only 3 ingredients in the sauce: soy sauce, honey, and limes. I used reduced sodium soy sauce. If you see the words “reduced sodium”, beware! It means there is a lot of sodium in the original product. The reduced sodium product has less than the original, but still a lot. If you look at the soy sauce in the blue label, it has 940 mg of sodium per 1 tablespoon. The reduced sodium soy sauce, the green labelled bottle, has 630 mg of sodium per 1 tablespoon. Still a lot! I was using the sauce for to coat 3 salmon pieces and used 3 tablespoons total in the recipe. That means, so far there is 705 mg of sodium per serving.

Luckily, that’s it for sodium. For the rice, I made quick brown rice. The brown rice has no sodium! I used the zest of the limes to season the rice. The vegetable for the meal was steamed green beans and I used the olive oil above to season it. No sodium was added to this either then. I then chopped cilantro and added it to the top of the salmon.

 

Alex is not a huge fan of salmon, but he said this dish was delicious! It had a sweet and sour taste from the lime and honey. The soy sauce helped season the entire dish as well. The paprika added a little zip to the salmon as well. The sauce was nice and gooey and coated everything perfectly. It didn’t feel the need to add extra soy sauce to the dish as I often do whenever I have take out Chinese food. It is one of the highest in sodium dish I have made since going on the diet with a total of 705 mg. However, since we knew that it would be higher in sodium Alex made sure the rest of his meals had limited sodium. For the entire day, he had less then 2,000 mg of sodium. As stated earlier, the sodium recommend by the FDA is less than 2,300.

There you have it! A way to make a dish with tons of sodium a little healthier! The most important thing to keep in mine is to keep sodium low for the entire day if you know you will have a meal with a little higher sodium amounts. Also, remember to read the labels!

And don’t forget to wash down the meal with a nice glass of wine!

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Recipe for the Honey Soy Salmon can be found here.

The basics

I enjoy cooking. Some of my fondest memories is cooking with my mom growing up. However, I am no means a mater chef. We have been on the Mediterranean diet for almost 2 weeks now. This diet has challenge my norm for cooking.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:

  • Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
  • Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Enjoying meals with family and friends
  • Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)
  • Getting plenty of exercise

We are from the midwest. If you know anything about then you know our diet is based on meat and potatoes. This diet is pretty much the opposite. I enjoy eating on the healthier side. Fruits and vegetables have always been my go to snack. Ice cream is my biggest downfall. I could eat that with every meal.. My husband on the other had lived off of meat and potatoes, well, and pizza. His pizza though never included a veggie, unless you count the sauce as one. It is often joked that pizza should be apart of their family shield. His mom was a school cook, which meant she did not want to cook dinner when she got home. Pizza was their go to food then. Quick, easy, and can be delivered.

When Alex was told he would need to switch his diet, his heart sunk for a minute. Luckily, he knew I would be there to help him and would make the transition easier. I think every day I hear a sigh from him when he hears what is for dinner, but usually he is surprised by how much he likes the dish.

Adding vegetables to our diet has been something I’ve been doing since we started dating. In fact, Alex’s first salad in his life was one I forced him to eat. We were at his work’s company christmas party. We had been dating for 3 months at this point. Salad was brought to each person at the table and he just stared. When I learned he never had a salad before it felt like we were from different planets! He agreed to at least try it. He did not enjoy it at first by any means! But the great thing about salads is that it really is a great vessel to try new vegetables. You can customize it to whatever you like.

Currently the biggest challenge for us is limiting our red meat in take and adding more fish to our diet. Years ago, we decided to make plan our meals out in advance. We would create a menu with dinners for 2 weeks. This made life easier for us in many ways. We stopped wasting food and never had to argue about what is for dinner. It also helped us from not going out to eat every week. All of this helped us save money. It is also helping us stick to the diet. We plan ahead how many vegetarian, fish, poultry, and red meat are in the meal plan each week.

We try having at least two vegetarian, two fish, two poultry, and one red meat a week. Alex use to take leftovers from dinner to lunch during the work week. We found if he did that, he was having too much poultry or red meat and not enough plant based foods or healthy fats. As a result, he started taking more salads to lunch and taking hummus with veggies and some type of fruit as a snack.

Salt in take is now the main thing we are trying to control. In the United States, that is a hard thing to keep under control. In the up coming posts, I’ll be talking about some of our difficulties and key things we have learned in these few short weeks.

We would love to hear how you keep yourself in check with this diet! Does menu planning work for you? Was going on the Mediterranean diet a huge adjustment for you as well? We are excited about going on this diet, but dreading it all the same! Being restricted on something is never fun. The fact that we can have a glass of wine a day though sure makes things easier!

Always listen to your wife

I just started my 9th month of pregnancy. This was my husband, Alex, and my first child. It would make sense that we were anxious for our future. Alex started to complain that he had chest pain that would radiate to his arm. His co-workers and friends kept telling him it was just probably nerves because of the baby. I thought that was a possibility. We were trying to finish all loose ends before the baby was born. This included finishing our basement, getting the nursery ready, and making sure we had enough freezer meals ready to go. We are in our mid to late 20’s, so how could it be a serious medical condition? It had to just be nerves. However, deep down, I had a feeling it was something more.

We were at my doctor’s appointment for the weekly check-up before the baby is born. I told him he should just schedule an appointment now with his doctor since we were already there. I kept saying it would just make me feel better to know it was nothing serious. He finally agreed. He walked up to the front desk and scheduled it. When the person asked for the reason for the visit and he replied with chest pain, urgency started. They told him that they would get him in right now. He was getting an EKG scan while I was getting my ultrasound done. Everything seemed fine, but they wanted to do an exercise stress test to make sure. During the stress test they did find something abnormal, however, the test doesn’t know why it is abnormal.

After the stress test, Alex met with the cardiologist. He gave him 3 options. 1, do nothing and just assume it’s anxiety or nothing. 2, have a CT scan completed which would allow the doctor to see if there is any blocks in the arteries. It wouldn’t show how bad it is, just if there are any. 3, have an angiogram which is where they go into the artery and see if there is a block and fix it if there is. Option 1 was a no right away. We would rather be safe than sorry. Option 3 was more invasive and we really didn’t think it would come to that. So we decided to go with option 2.

Remember, I am pregnant during all of this. Alex decided to make the appointment for the CT scan for Mid-June. This was pass my due date and would also give us time to adjust to having a baby. At the end of May, we had our baby son, Sammy. We were now adjusting to parenthood, while also trying to find out if there is something wrong with Alex. 17F-Benedict18

The CT scan did discover a block. Unfortunately that meant an angiogram was needed. That would determine the extent of the block and if a stent would be needed. A stent is a wire mesh tube that would be inserted into the artery which would open the artery up and would allow blood to pass through more easily. We were hoping this would not be needed and that the block would be small enough to easily scrap the plaque away or that medicine would be enough.

Alex, Sammy, and I headed to the hospital 6 am on a Friday. Alex got prepped and Sammy and I were in the waiting room. We kept hearing from the doctors and nurses that it probably wouldn’t be that bad. He was so young that they just assumed the block would be small. The nurse would call me during the operation if a stent would be needed. Alex’s parent’s came while he was in the operating room. The company was much needed!

An hour in and I get the call. I hear the monitor in the background with Alex’s heartbeat echoing the room. My heart drops at first, but the nurse quickly assures me that everything is going great. However, the stent is needed. After I hang up, I do a quick prayer in my head. I thanked God for helping me convince Alex to go to the doctor.

When we finally speak to the doctor, he said that the artery was at least 90% blocked. He is shocked by how bad it is since Alex is so young. His mom’s side has a history of heart disease. His one uncle, in his 60’s, has 4 stents already. However, none has had stents as young as Alex. The problem appears to be that his good cholesterol, HDL, is too low, which can be caused by genetics.

The doctor told us that we are lucky that Alex didn’t have a heart attack. If he would have  had one it would have been extremely serious and it would have been a 911 call. They probably would have had to do open heart surgery right away to save him.

When you are told that your life was right on the edge of falling apart you start to view things a little differently. Alex wouldn’t be able to lift Sammy for a week to give himself time to heal. He has to take 6 medicationsa day to keep things in check. We have to start a new diet and exercise more. All of this seems so minimal when you know what could have been.

Here I am as a new mother and only have been married 2 years to the love of my life, and all of it could have easily been dramatically different. I thank God every day that my husband is still with us and that he will be apart of our son’s life. We initially only told close friends and family. Whenever they see us, they always ask how I am handling all of it. I never know how to respond. Great, because my husband is still beside me. Stressed, because I now have a lot of responsibilities including taking care of my newborn and my husband. Mostly though, I am just thankful and am taking it one day at a time.

I knew it was time to have a life style change. The doctors and nutritionist all recommend the Mediterranean Diet. This is a life style change. Not just a diet. And with everything right now, we are taking it one day at a time.