Preserve Your Favorite Summer Produce

preserve-summer-produceThere’s something about summer that just screams fruits and veggies. Some of our favorites are in-season during the summer – corn, zucchini, berries, you name it – and we find that produce simply tastes better this time of year (and that totally makes sense, as it’s so much fresher).

Many gardeners also reap the benefits of their plot throughout the summer, enjoying every last drop of planted goodness as the season goes on. Growing a garden in your back yard (particularly an organic one) is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to eat; the food doesn’t need to use resources and energy to travel to you, thereby reducing the impact your appetite has on the earth.

As we know well up here in New England, there comes a time when this fresh summer produce comes to a startling halt. The transition from summer to fall creeps up slowly, with the shortening of daylight, and suddenly we’re headed to the apple orchards to pick the seasonal produce there, rather than in our gardens, which will now sleep for months on end.

If your kitchen is teeming with garden-fresh produce from the days of summer, you aren’t alone. Home gardens oftentimes grow more fruits and veggies than a family can consume. Luckily, there are some easy ways to preserve some of that produce and save it for the next few months – the taste of summer doesn’t have to end quite yet!

Pickle
And no, we’re not just referring to cucumbers. Pickling is super easy, and is a process that works well on a wide preserve-summer-producevariety of veggies. The basic recipe for pickling is this: veggies + vinegar + salt + sugar + spices. Chop the veggies, boil the other four ingredients together, and place all the ingredients in an air-tight jar. This technique preserves veggies for two months or more. Enjoy your produce all the way into November!

Infuse
Grab your favorite summer drink flavors – strawberry, cucumber, raspberry – and place it in your alcohol of choice for about three months. Come winter, you’ll have a summertime concoction that instantly brings you back to sunny days on the beach. Even better, infusing allows you to choose exactly how much sugar you add to your alcoholic beverages. Say goodbye to sugar-and-calorie-laden drinks, and substitute the natural stuff!

Ferment
Fermentation is all about microbiology; small bacteria interact with our food to bring out the flavor in all of our favorite summer veggies. Start with an easy ferment – like sauerkraut or kimchi – and move up from there. Many health fanatics tout the benefits of fermented foods; yogurt is one of the only foods popular in American culture that still contains live microorganisms (good bacteria) that benefit your gut. Fermented foods may just be the answer to your belly woes… and the process does a great job of preserving food.

Jam
An easy way to deliciously preserve your favorite summer fruits, making your own jam has an added benefit: controlling your own sugar intake. Many store-bought jams are filled with the sweet stuff, way too much than the toast-topping actually needs. Whipping up your own allows you to control the sugar, and savor the natural sweetness of summer fruits. A quick jam will last for around 10 days in an air-tight container, but to preserve longer, go the canning route.

How do you preserve summer produce?

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Increase Gym Productivity the Smart Way

increase-gymtime-productivityAre you getting the most out of your gym time? With busy schedules and limited time to fit in a workout, it’s key to make the most of the time you find to exercise. Just like your work life, your time at home, or your weekend plans, it’s always great to feel like you made the most of your time, getting all you wanted out of your dinner with friends, meeting with a boss, or your sweat session.

But with crowded locker rooms and busy weight rooms, it can be easy to get mildly distracted while bouncing around the gym. So how can you make the most of your exercise time? Let’s start with a few key tricks.

Step One
Build up the energy… to get your mind and body ready to go. In the hours before you head to the gym, hydrate yourself by drinking plenty of water. Being well hydrated is said to increase energy levels, revving you up to get the most out of your routine. You also shouldn’t be hungry before you start a workout; power up with a protein-filled snack – like hard-boiled eggs, or peanut butter sandwich – to get you going.

Step Two
Set goals… and find a routine that will help you achieve them. When you know what you’re aiming towards, chances are you’ll be more motivated to hit your stride. Create small daily goals – “I want to run four miles today,” or “I want to lift xx pounds” – that add up to achieving your larger ones, and set your activities accordingly.

Step Three
Avoid the crowds… if at all possible. Right after the typical workday – 5pm to 6:30pm – is one of the busiest times to be at the gym. Fighting for machines can seriously ruin your momentum. If people tend to pump you up, on the other hand, find a workout buddy; you’ll be that much more motivated to do another set of push ups with a friend cheering you on!

Step Four
Decrease time… increase intensity. If you’re short on time, revving up your speed or resistance can get you a better workout, quicker. Try interval workouts to burn more calories faster, switching between full intensity and low intensity every minute or two. You can also try a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout, designed to target particular muscle groups in short bursts of activity that are certain to have you sore the next day.

Step Five
Avoid smartphone distraction… and use it the right way. Use your phone for some heart-pumping music only. Besides that, turn it on silent, and promise to look at it only to change songs. It’s easy to be distracted by the computer at your fingertips, but zoning out during exercise time is certainly worth it.

How do you stay productive at the gym? We’d love to hear your best tips!

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Hit the Road Running in Brand New Sneakers

running-sneakersHow have your workouts been feeling lately? If you’re feeling like they haven’t been as effective as they normally are, you may in need of some new sneakers. Shoes that fit – and still have their original construction in tact – make a huge difference in making sure your workout is as successful as it possibly can be.

When your shoes wear down after miles of use, they become less effective at protecting your feet, knees, and joints. This can lessen the efficacy of your workouts, or worse, lead to injury.

To prevent injury and have the best workouts imaginable during the remainder of the summer daze, try out a new pair of incredible sneaks. We always recommend trying a quick workout at home (for instance, a bodyweight workout, or HIIT routine) in your new sneakers before taking them outdoors.

Sneakers are arguably the most important shoes to prioritize fit; while the size may work for you, the construction – whether padded, minimal, or barefoot – is equally as important. What works for a friend may not work for you, and it’s important to test it out indoors to make returns as easy as possible.

Try out some of our newest styles, below. Colorful and comfortable, these sneaks help you perform your best – and look great doing it!

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How to Build the Perfect One-Bowl Meal

one-bowl-mealsWhat are you whipping up for dinner tonight? What about for lunch tomorrow? Why don’t we consolidate and make both at the same time, shall we?

That’s the beauty of the one-bowl meal: achieving a perfect nutritional balance in one easy-to-throw-together meal is super simple, quick, and honestly addictive. These meals essentially become a way to combine all your favorite foods into one meal – for many meals throughout the week. Truly a win-win!

So how do you build the perfect, nutritionally balanced one-bowl meal? It only takes four easy steps.

Step One: the Hearty Stuff
Grains and starches make up the heart of your one-bowl wonder, providing the substance to keep you full. Pasta, quinoa, farro, potatoes, yams, or rice are great bases to keep you full and happy for hours one-bowl-mealson end. The foods found in this category also tend to hold flavor really well; go heavy on the spices while you’re cooking them, and if you’re using a dressing or sauce, mix it up with this layer to hold the flavor in.

Step Two: the Fruits & Veggies
An ever-important part of any meal, produce provides the vitamins and nutrients you need for a healthy diet. This is a great area to place your greens (try kale, chard, spinach or collards to get the highest nutritional bang), and all the summer veggies you crave. If sweet flavors are what you desire, don’t be afraid to add the best in seasonal fruit.

Step Three: the Protein
A key part in keeping you fuller, longer, protein is an essential step in creating the ultimate in one-bowl deliciousness. Beans, tofu, chickpeas, egg, edemame, or your favorite grilled meat is perfect for adding the goodness your body needs to build muscle and stay satisfied.

one-bowl-mealsStep Four: the Extras
This is where the flavor add-ons come in. Whip up a quick creamy dressing by placing one avocado, oil, lemon, and red pepper in a food processor and blend. Pick up your favorite hummus, or sprinkle on your best flavored olive oil. Blend up a quick beet pesto to add a pretty purple hue. The world is your (healthiest) oyster!

Not in the mood to create your own bowl? Find a few recipe ideas below.
Lentil Curry Bowl with Cilantro Cashew Sauce
Kale Quinoa & Pine Nut Bowl
Thai Peanut Empowered Noodle Bowl

How do you whip up one-bowl meals? What are your favorite ingredients? Let us know!

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Summer’s Not Over Yet!

summer-funAre you getting the feeling that summer is on it’s way out? Despite the blazing hot temperatures, there’s something about the last week in August that has us thinking: where exactly did the summer go?

Retail stores – yes, we admit it, like us – have already stocked their fall garb in preparation for the cooler seasons. The days are getting shorter, the nights longer, and that fall spirit looms.

But we say, despite all this, the summer isn’t close to over. We still have so much more time! And we’re ready to make the most of it. How will we be doing so, you ask?

Try something new
What was on your summer bucket list this year? Water skiing? An awesome road trip? Trying a patio-adorned restaurant you’ve been dying for? When we were kids, summer was all about exploration and adventure. So why stop now?

Do something old
Visit with old friends, go to a park you used to love as a kid, and revisit your past. Some of our best memories happen in the great outdoors – an awesome hike, a fun picnic or barbecue with friends, swinging away on the baseball diamond, or climbing the jungle gym. Celebrate the summer by taking a stroll through your memories.

402Make a summer reading list, and read them all outdoors
There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting in a hammock on the front porch, reading a riveting novel. It’s never too late to make your must-read list. Even if it contains only a few stories, enjoy some reading this summer and enrich the way you think.

BBQ something new
Yes, the barbecue is usually laden with hot dogs and hamburgers. But there are so many more opportunities for grilling! Summer veggies (zucchini, corn, tomatoes, and more) are absolutely delicious on the grill, and marinated tofu is perfectly scrumptious. Try something new – it may just be your new all-time favorite.

Watch a sunset from somewhere beautiful
There’s nothing better than a great sunrise to start your day off right, or a beautiful blue-purple-pink-yellow daze to end your day on a high note. Around the Boston area, for instance, there’s a spot in Martha’s Vineyard that’s known for the beauty of the sunset; each night in the summer, tourists and locals alike gather to watch the beauty. Find that perfect place in your area, and take advantage of the wonder.

Eat (and drink) seasonal produce
Summer produce is the best – berries, oranges, corn, herbs, and summer squash are delicious cooked any which way, or eaten raw. Stay in-season – you won’t regret it. These items are at their most delicious, and many end up tasting as sweet as candy! Be creative in your cooking (and incorporate them into your favorite drinks) for the ultimate effect.

Minimize your life
Clutter tends to accumulate in the winter; with less time to get outside and a lower desire to head out to your local donation or recycling center, stuff certainly seems to pile up. Clear out before the winter sets in – your closet, kitchen pantry, your car… anything that makes you feel the least bit stressed is key!

Find outdoor events
From concerts to plays to comedy shows, many of the creative performances that normally happen in fancy theatres come outdoors in the summertime. Do a quick Google search for the happenings in local parks to take advantage of the season.

How are you planning on enjoying the rest of the summer? Let us know!

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There’s a New Kind of “Fast Food” in Town

amys-kitchenThere’s a new fast food venue in town, and no, you won’t need to feel too guilty about indulging in it. Amy’s – the family-owned business behind those healthier frozen food meals you find in the “natural foods” section of the grocery store – has opened up a “fast food” restaurant right in San Francisco, CA.

In true Amy’s fashion, this restaurant is a healthier attempt at the typical definition of fast food. The menu – complete with (veggie) burgers, fries, milkshakes (vegan or dairy-free, by request), homemade non-GMO buns, and organic mac ‘n cheese – boasts the comforting flavor and convenience of food on-the-go, while staying on the healthier side, for both you and the earth.

Amy’s welcomes food allergies and preferences with ease. Vegetarian? Vegan? Non-GMO? All organic? Gluten-free? This restaurant has you covered.

amys-kitchenThey’re also implementing eco-friendly practices; Amy’s sources ingredients from local, organic farms to support local communities and cut down on the miles food needs to travel. They gain much of their energy from solar power, and the tables inside are made of upcycled auto brake drums and discarded wood.

Now of course, it is fast food, and it isn’t perfect. The food at Amy’s still isn’t a better option than chopping up a fresh salad from your garden, or whipping up your favorite veggie burgers from scratch. But while we don’t often tout any benefits of fast food, Amy’s offers a new, fresh take, one that we hope will head towards a new wave of healthier, natural, organic on-the-go options. The way our culture is constructed, many of us find ourselves moving quickly. Fast food first came around as the answer to that quick pace, offering a solution that allowed the act of eating to keep up.

Our speed hasn’t slowed since then – if anything, it’s sped way up – but our desire for healthy, fresh, unprocessed food has become truly apparent. The creation of this new restaurant allows that cultural shift to shine through… one that will make our bodies – and society – healthier in the long run.

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