Weekly Recipes: Wild Mushroom and Thyme Soup


Looking for healthy recipes to ward off these dark and cold nights? Our go-to is a delicious and hearty soup, like this Wild Mushroom and Thyme Soup from The Holistic Ingredient.

We have to admit, the fact it includes mushrooms had us sold from the beginning!

Enjoy this delicious soup and let us know what you make on these cold nights.



  • 600 g mixed mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
  • 600 ml stock of choice (vegetable or meat based)
  • 1 large handful dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • 1 large handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Sea salt and ground pepper

For garnish:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small handful Italian parsley, chopped 
  • Extra virgin olive oil



  1. Place the dried porcini in a small bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Set aside to soak.
  2. Place a casserole dish on the stove on medium-high heat. Add the olive oil.
  3. Saute the onion and garlic until soft, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add chopped mushrooms, thyme and a pinch of sea salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the porcini mushrooms with the water they are soaking in and saute for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add the stock, bring to a boil and simmer covered for 20 minutes.
  7. While soup is simmering prepare the garnish. First, heat a small frying pan on the stove on medium heat, add the walnuts and toast until browning.
  8. Add a drizzle of olive oil and the mushrooms. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until cooked. Stir through the parsley and walnuts. Set aside.
  9. Pour the soup into a high powered blender with the lemon juice and blend until smooth. Season further if required.
  10. Pour into bowls and top with the mushroom and walnut garnish and a dollop of sour cream or mascarpone



posted by Jenna T. on 12/29/14  /  Tags: , , ,  /  Leave a Comment

Moving Tips – What I Learned from My Military Family


My dad was in the Army, he retired after 29 years of serving our country. (Thank you, Dad!)

In that time, I moved with my family to 8 different homes within 4 different states. Before I came along, my family had moved an additional 5 times.

To say my parents are experts on packing and unpacking homes may be an understatement. Here, I’m sharing a few tips and tricks I picked up along the way. Hopefully these assist you in your next move!


1) Measure all doors

When I say all, I mean all. Front doors, side doors, garage doors into the house, archways into rooms, bedroom doors, etc. Then measure your stairwells and finally measure your current furniture. You’ll need these measurements to plan ahead with how to bring your furniture in.

If a furniture piece measures too large, you should chuck it now.

It will be upsetting to part with a couch you know has a few good years left, but believe me when I say it’s ten times worse to bring the couch to your new home and end up leaving it on the curb, while it’s raining. (Yes, learn from my mistake! or Ross from Friends and the “Pivot!” that didn’t work.)


2) Create a Packing List

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t label their boxes with numbers or names of the rooms the items came from.

My parents used pad and pen to make their lists, but luckily with tablets and smart phones, there are plenty of apps to create worksheets and lists for easy referencing.

Make sure to add sizes and detailed descriptions for each item. For example, instead of “frame” write, “4×6″ silver frame with picture of kids”. With a description like this, you’ll know where to put the items before opening the box.

The worst part about unpacking is when half empty boxes sit in your home for days. If you know exactly what is in each box, you can empty it quicker!


2) Pack Each Room Separately

Packing your entire home can become overwhelming when you find the boxes stacking higher and higher. The lessen the load, you may search for the perfectly sized item to place in that empty space of the box, but don’t!

When items are randomly in boxes the unpacking process is much more difficult. Having to move from room to room in order to empty a box will cost you more (in time and effort) than just adding a new box.


3) Packing Boxes

Here are a few tips for the best packed boxes:

  • Pack large items at the bottom and small items on top
  • Use free padding (your towels, sheets, clothing, etc.)
  • Pack tightly – Try to fill boxes as much as possible without making them unbearably heavy or disobeying tip #2 above. This makes for strong boxes and less possibility of items breaking.
4) Essentials First
Make sure to pack your essentials last, and unpack them first. It’s helpful to have these items in (1-2) boxes or (1) box per room (bathroom, kitchen, etc.).
These essentials may include the following:
  • scissors
  • tape
  • toilet paper
  • paper towels
  • set of linens for each bed
  • bath towels (for the first morning in your new home)
This also relates to unpacking. Make sure to layout your furniture first, especially your beds. Believe me, after a long day of unpacking boxes, you won’t want to make your bed.
If all your furniture is in the correct location, it will be easier to unpack boxes and put items away.

) Appreciate the Art of Stenciling

Although not directly related to packing and unpacking, our family found stenciling as a blessing during all of our moves. If you aren’t sure how long you will spend at your new home, stenciling allows you to personalize rooms without making a large clean-up job for when you eventually leave.

Stenciling a small area of a wall still adds a design while providing a small section to repaint when you move out.

Invest in an Art Piece

Another sound piece of advice is to invest in an art piece you love. When moving, layouts for rooms change and wall space may not always be prominent.

With a significant art piece, you can reuse the same old items while still making the room look different.


We hope this helps on your next move or if you choose to redecorate.

posted by Jenna T. on 12/23/14  /  Tags: , , ,  /  Leave a Comment

The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil



Since many consider coconuts as just an ice cream topping or ingredient in candy bars, they’ll be pleasantly surprised by the number of health benefits of coconut oil.


Good Saturated Fats

Although you may have heard about the high source of saturated fats in coconut oil, what you don’t hear is that these saturated fats are actually good for you.

Coconut oil has medium-chain fatty acids instead of the long-chain fatty acids in cheeses or Oreos. Your body metabolizes these medium-chain fatty acids differently. For example:

  • They can be used as an energy source which allows you to burn more fat.
  • They make coconut oil more filling and can reduce your hunger. This also increases your body’s metabolic rate, burning more energy and losing weight.
  • They can also turn into ketone bodies which have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like epilepsy or Alzheimer’s.


Lauric Acids and Preventing Infections

Coconut oil holds lauric acids which can kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi. Thus, coconut oil can potentially prevent infections.



Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrients for your body. Here are just a few ways it can be used for beauty:

  • It protects against hair damage, keeps you free of dandruff and leaves your hair shiny.
  • It’s a great moisturizer for healing flaky, dry skin. It can even help heal skin after an injury or infection.
  • Lightens age spots when applied directly to the skin.
  • Prevents premature aging and is similar to a sunscreen, blocking 20% of sun’s UV rays.
  • Prevents stretch marks during pregnancy.


There are several other benefits of coconut oil outlined here on Wellness Mama.


Share the ways you use coconut oil!

posted by Jenna T. on 12/17/14  /  Tags: , , ,  /  Leave a Comment

Weekly Recipes: Bread Stuffing with Bacon and Apples


With fall in full force and the holidays just around the corner, we went on the hunt for stuffing recipes and found this gem from Applegate Farms.

Who can say no to a stuffing that includes bacon and apples?

Bread Stuffing with Bacon and Apples



  • 1 lb French bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 (8-oz) package of Applegate bacon, chopped
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
  • 3 large apples, cored and chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 3 cups turkey or chicken stock
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsps finely chopped parsley, for garnish



1. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and keep out overnight to dry. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a large gratin dish.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and leeks and cook, stirring occasionally until leeks are softened and bacon is crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Add the apples and thyme leaves, cover and cook until the apples soften, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

5. Add the bacon mixture to the bread and toss together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. In a bowl, whisk together the stock and eggs, then pour evenly over the bread mixture. Toss together until evenly moistened. Transfer the stuffing to the buttered gratin dish and cover tightly with a piece of buttered aluminum foil.

7. Bake the stuffing for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is crisp and golden brown, about 15 additional minutes.

8. Garnish with parsley and serve.


We hope you enjoy this recipe but be sure to share your favorite stuffing recipes with us!

posted by Jenna T. on 11/10/14  /  Tags: , , ,  /  Leave a Comment

The Art of Juicing: Kid Friendly Recipes



For this post of our juicing series, we bring you Kid-Friendly juicing recipes. These recipes will give your children a tasty way to drink those fruits and veggies. We all know how quick those juice boxes can go at a summer barbecue, so add this to the menu and watch your children drink healthy!

A few tips when juicing for children:

  • Consult with your doctor when the best time is to introduce juice to your child’s diet. Most mothers start introducing juice between 1-2 years of age.
  • You may want to dilute the juice with water so it is less strong.
  • Try to keep your child’s juice intake between 5 – 8 fl. oz in one day and only a few of the stronger juices (i.e with kale, spinach, beets) to 2-3 times a week.
  • We do not recommended juice fasts for children.


“Ready, Steady, Go!” from The Juice Master 

2 apples (Golden Delicious or Royal Gala)

1 small raw beetroot

1 small broccoli stem

1/2 celery stick

1 inch slice cucumber

1/2 inch slice pineapple

1 lime peeled


Directions: Put one apple in your juicer’s chute followed by beetroot, broccoli, celery, cucumber, pineapple, lime and second apple. Juice everything and pour over ice to cool.


The Red (yields 8oz)

1 cup spinach

2 carrots

1 tomato

1 apple

Directions: Wash spinach and cut carrot, tomato and apple into manageable juicing pieces. Juice ingredients together and serve.


Apple-Grape Juice (yields 1 cup)

2 apples

small bunch of grapes


Cucumber Pear

small handful of watercress or arugula

1 cucumber (with skin)

2 pears

Directions: Wash watercress or arugula and cut cucumber and pears into manageable juicing pieces. Juice ingredients together and serve.


Green Citrus

1 small handful of spinach

2 sticks of celery

2 oranges

Directions: Peel oranges, wash spinach and cut celery into manageable juicing pieces. Juice ingredients together and serve. If you think this is too green tasting for your kids, add more orange or dilute it with sparkling water to make it bubbly like soda.


Another tip for those green juices, tell your children it’s like the Nickelodeon green slime, or “monster juice”. A creative name can go a long way to get them even more excited to drink these healthy recipes!

posted by Jenna T. on 10/27/14  /  Tags: , ,  /  Leave a Comment

Weekly Recipes: Cod with Peas and Bacon


Looking for a new recipe to spice up your weekly menu? For this “Weekly Recipes” post, we give you Cod Fish with Peas and Bacon from Applegate.


  • 6-oz Applegate Natural Sunday Bacon (strips separated)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 6-oz skinless cod filets
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed, with white and green parts chopped separately
  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cook the bacon in a single layer in a large skillet over medium heat, turning the strips often, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the bacon on paper towels and pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the skillet.
  3. Return the skillet with the bacon fat to medium heat and add butter.
  4. When the butter has melted, add the cod and cook until browned on each side and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.
  5. Transfer the fish to a plate and set aside.
  6. Add the chopped white parts of the scallions and the peas to the skillet and cook for one minute.
  7. Stir in the wine, scraping any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon.
  8. Let the sauce boil for one minute, and then stir in the cream.
  9. Boil the sauce until slightly thickened, 8 – 10 minutes.
  10. Return the fish to the skillet and let cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  11. Add the chopped scallion greens and season to your taste with salt and pepper.

Crumble the bacon over the fish just before serving for the cod dish that will make you famous

posted by Jenna T. on 10/23/14  /   /  Leave a Comment

Weekly Recipes: Chicken and Risotto Casserole


For this “Weekly Recipes” post, we give you a chicken and risotto casserole, courtesy of Applegate.


  • 2 boxes Applegate Natural Chicken Patties
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 6 basil leaves minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3 cups chicken broth (reserve ½ cup)
  • 2 lbs fresh spinach or 10 oz. bag frozen spinach – thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • Tomato sauce – recipe follows
  • 1 Package Applegate Organic Provolone Cheese (rBGH-Free)
Fresh Tomato Sauce*

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion minced (approx 2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28-oz. can chopped plum tomatoes
  • 12 basil leaves rough chopped
  • Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste
* SUBSTITUTE 16 oz. jar of tomato sauce



  1. In a medium sauce pan, sauté onion, pepper, and garlic in olive oil until golden.
  2. Add basil, rice, salt and pepper and sauté until the rice starts to get translucent (about 2 minutes).
  3. Add half the stock and simmer while stirring until all the liquid is incorporated into the rice mixture.
  4. Repeat this step with the remaining stock, pull off the heat and add the parmesan cheese stirring as you go until it is evenly mixed.
  5. Set aside.


  1. In a medium pan sauté garlic in the oil until golden.
  2. Add spinach until wilted (approx 30 seconds).
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside

Assembly:Spread the rice into a heat proof casserole dish large enough to fit 8 chicken patties.

  1. Add stock and distribute evenly among the rice mixture.
  2. Spread out patties evenly over the rice mixture.
  3. Ladle one heaping tablespoon of sauce over each patty.
  4. Distribute the spinach on top of the 8 patties.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
  6. Cut about 4 slices of provolone cheese in thin strips and crisscross over chicken for the last two minutes of baking.

posted by Jenna T. on 10/10/14  /   /  Leave a Comment

The Art of Juicing: Recipes for Regular Blenders


For this post of our juicing series, we bring you recipes for juicing with a regular blender. Fun story, even though I love juicing, I don’t have a juicer at home. I know, the horror! Living in NYC, I usually buy juices from my favorite juicing spots, or at my gym.

While at home, I use my regular blender and can still make some amazing juices. A few tips for juicing with a regular blender:

  • Add any liquids first.
  • Chop fruits and vegetables into small 1-inch chunks; the less powerful your blender is, the smaller you need to make the pieces.
  • Use the “pulse” function to further chop the ingredients before fully blending.
  • Alternate between low and high blend speeds to avoid clumping or having to scrape the sides too often.
  • Always strain the completed mixture before drinking!


Green Smoothie

3/4 cup/6 oz water

1/2 cup spinach

1/4 cup cucumber

1 celery stalk

1/2 small bunch parsley

1 apple (cored)

1/4 inch ginger

Juice 1/2 lime

3/4 cup ice

Directions: Add ingredients to blender in order listed. Pulse until ingredients are in small chunks. Alternate between low and high blending speeds until blended. Strain if necessary.


Carrot, Apple and Beet Juice

1 large beet

6 carrots

1-2 apples

2 celery slices

handful of collared greens

1/2 – 1 cup water

Directions: Add 1 ingredient at a time with a little bit of water. Pulse first, then alternate between low and high blending speeds until smooth. Strain juice and add extra water to thin if necessary.


Post-Workout Refueler (yields 2 servings) from Health.com

2 medium oranges (peeled and cut into chunks)

1/4 cup whole, raw almonds

1 small sweet potato (about 4 oz), scrubbed and coarsely chopped

1 medium apple, cored and cubed

1/2 cup water

Directions: In a blender, combine oranges, almonds, sweet potato, apple, and water; blend, scraping down sides occasionally, until smooth. Strain juice and, if desired, thin with additional water. Refrigerate up to 2 days (shake before serving).


Energy Upper from Health.com

1 can (20 oz) lychess in syrup, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen and thawed peaches

3/4 cup coconut water

Directions: In a blender, combine lychees, peaches, and coconut water; blend, scraping down sides occasionally, until smooth. Strain juice and, if desired, thin with water. Refrigerate up to 2 days (shake before serving).

posted by Jenna T. on 10/07/14  /  Tags: , ,  /  Leave a Comment

Weekly Recipes: Porcini Mushroom and Kale Buckwheat Risotto


We are always on the lookout for new and unique recipes. This one from The Holistic Ingredient caught our eye and we just had to try it. Let us tell you it did not disappoint!

Porcini Mushroom and Kale Buckwheat Risotto



  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup raw buckwheat
  • 1 cup mixed mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup kale, finely sliced
  • 1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ground pepper, to taste


  1. Pour boiling water over the porcini mushrooms. Set aside.
  2. Pour chicken stock into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Lower heat to a gentle simmer.
  3. Heat large saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Add the coconut oil, onion and garlic. Saute for a few minutes until onion is translucent.
  4. Add buckwheat and saute until well coated, stirring continuously.
  5. Pour in 1/2 cup stock and stir gently until liquid is absorbed.
  6. Drain porcini mushrooms and slice. Add to saucepan with other mushrooms and 1/2 cup stock. Stir gently until liquid is absorbed.
  7. Add kale and 1/2 cup stock until liquid is absorbed.
  8. Add last 1/2 cup of stock and sea salt.
  9. Once liquid is fully absorbed, add coconut milk and heat for 3 minutes or until thick and heated through.

Enjoy and let us know what you thought!

posted by Jenna T. on 10/03/14  /  Tags: , , ,  /  1 Comment

Waiting for the Squat Rack : vol 1


Waiting for the squat rack is annoying. Period, point blank.

If you’re a gym head, you’ll know what I mean. The squat rack is the place where my workouts always begin. I begin my workout with The Squat. The Squat is one of the most difficult and rewarding exercises to do.

So when I have to wait for a squat rack to be “available” … it means I’m off to a rough start.

Now that  I’ve been “back at it” for 4 weeks (back at the gym that is)  I see not many things have changed, since I first started lifting weights back in… nineteen ninety something (1997 or 1998)…

1) There are still lots of people who do not know how to properly lift free weights.
2) There are still lots of people who come to the gym to socialize and talk (A LOT), about things unrelated to working out.
3) There are still people who don’t have proper “gym etiquette”, and will occupy a squat rack for a LONG time…. and take 10+ minute breaks in between sets (this is far too long, and please don’t walk away from the squat rack as it looks like you’re done if you leave it unattended. Gym etiquette post to come soon).

So sadly not much has changed at the gym….

On the other hand, something HAS changed in the last umpteen years… Me :) I’ve changed.
I am older (in years, not in spirit). I am actually (surprisingly) stronger than I’ve been in awhile, and am on my way to lifting heavier weights than I did when I was in my early 20′s. {Go me!}

My best numbers back in my 20′s:
Squatting: 135lbs for high reps (15-20)
Deadlifting: 185lbs for high reps (15-20)
Deadlifting: 265 for low reps (3-5)

I was a beast in my 20′s!

It’s been more than 7 years since I went to the gym in any sort of consistent fashion. And now at my 4th week back, I am already squatting 135lbs at 10 reps, and Deadlifting 145lbs at 10 reps.
{Side note: the deadlift is tricky because it’s not just about your quads/glutes/lower back. Your forearms have to be able to hold the bar. At this point my quads/glutes/lower back could handle higher weight, but my forearms need some time to get stronger. So I will take it slowly to build up….}

I’m on my way to beating my 20+year old self!

Another thing that has changed, is my new love (which I started 4 weeks ago) of a daily intake of fresh green juice smoothies! In all my years of lifting weights, and eating meticulously (high protein/low carb), I never before encountered this phenomenon. “Back in the day” I knew how to eat for quick muscle recovery and sustained energy. And now these green smoothies have taken my eating habits to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL.

Simple put:

Greens will provide you with the protein that builds muscle
Fruit will provide you with the simple sugars that fuel muscle

Green smoothies have also obliterated my caffeine cravings. {what}. Yes, you read that correctly. I no longer crave coffee.

This is an entirely new lifestyle for me. One that has literally changed my life. And the best part is, there are so many recipe options, that it never gets boring!

Below is one of my favorite recipes:


  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) pineapple juice
  • 1  cup (262 g) green grapes
  • 1/4  Bartlett pear, ripe, seeded and halved
  • Tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup (23 g) coarsely chopped broccoli
  • 1 large whole leaf of collards, washed
  • 1/4 cup beets
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) ice cubes


  1. Place all ingredients into the blender in the order listed and secure lid. (I use a Vitamix 5200)



2. For those using a Vitamix, select Variable 1. With other blenders, start on low.

3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.

4. Blend for 35-40 seconds or until mixture is smooth.



Yum. Enjoy.

posted by Sojourner on 04/16/14  /   /  2 Comments

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