THRIVE Life yogurt bites

I’ve been a little lazy, and haven’t posted anything in a few days. If you’ve read my About Me, you’ll know that I recently lost by little girl dog Jenna. It’s been pretty traumatic for me, I’m not coping with her passing very well. She was only 6. I won’t really dwell on it, since it’s likely to make me burst into tears all over again.

So just a really quick post about how addicted I am to Thrive’s strawberry yogurt bites. They’re only 35 calories per 1/4 cup, and they satisfy two of my cravings: crunchy and sweet. I can’t wait to take some to my sister’s house, I’m pretty sure my two year old niece is going to gobble them up! We only have a pantry-size can for the time being, so I’m definitely going to be ordering a #10 size can… or two… or three!

strawberry yogurt bites

Why Freeze-dried foods – Part two aka Food Storage

So, what is Food Storage? Well, it’s pretty self-explanatory so I guess the better question would be “Why store food?” CNN wrote an article last year stating that 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. See http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/24/pf/emergency-savings/  Some of you may have noticed that I’m not American, but Canadian. Apparently as recent as two years ago, 47% of Canadians were living paycheque to paycheque (notice the Canadian spelling? hehe.) Here’s a link to the Globe and Mail’s article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/household-finances/47-of-canadians-still-live-paycheque-to-paycheque/article4522904/  Please note: I’m not in any way insinuating that Canadians are better than Americans, merely pointing out that we have a problem with this too. And when I say “we”, I’m particularly saying “I” because that’s the plain truth, my husband and I live paycheque to paycheque.

Back to the Food Storage concern. In the nine years we’ve been married, we have had a couple of spells of financial woes. Once when my husband went back to school, and this year due to me needing to take time off work for health reasons. You may be surprised to learn that other than fresh fruits and milk, we haven’t really done any grocery shopping in the last two or three months. You see, we buy a lot of stuff in bulk, primarily at Costco. We started this when hubby went back to school, and I had to manage an extremely tight budget. We started shopping almost exclusively at Costco, calculator in hand. Once we reached our budget, if we wanted anything else to go in the cart, something had to come out first. It was an interesting exercise in self-discipline, to say the least. The first few months were tough, but as we started stockpiling (buying a case of soup rather than two cans, or a case of Kraft Dinner instead of a couple of boxes) this allowed us to build up a food reserve. We have pretty much maintained that habit ever since. So when the money flow slowed drastically a few months ago due to my health, we had a pantry full of canned stuff to rely on. This has pretty much saved us.

That being said, canned food isn’t really that healthy. It’s full of sodium for starters, which acts as a preservative. KD (Kraft Dinner, aka mac and cheese for my American readers) is not really that healthy for that matter. On the other hand, freeze-dried foods are extremely healthy. On average, they retain far more vitamins and nutrients than the fruits and vegetables you buy at the grocery store. If you shop at local farmers’ markets, well that’s a different story since they tend to pick their crops the same day or the day before. However, if you don’t eat or freeze your fresh fruits and veggies right away, they will start to lose all that nutritional goodness. I will talk more about nutrition in another post (after I massively edited this one since I veered off on a ‘health benefit’ tangent!) but what about the fruits and veggies you really like, that you can’t get from a farmer’s market? I’m a huge banana fan, so when I saw the Tale of Two Bananas, it really hit home. Check this out:

Tale of Two Bananas

Will I stop eating ‘fresh’ bananas from the grocery store? Noooo, I love bananas way too much! But the explanation above is equally valid for a ton of foods that you’re picking up at the supermarket. So I want to store extra food for “lean” times, but I want it to be healthy… AND practical. What does that mean? Well, I could buy stuff and freeze it right away to preserve nutrients. However, the problem is that my freezer space is somewhat limited. And we seem to lose power at least once every winter, sometimes for several hours. Do you remember the huge ice storm that hit this past December? It affected a number of Canadian provinces and American states. Over 300,000 people in the city of Toronto lost power. FOUR days later, 70,000 were still without power. No power = no freezer = no food if you’re relying on your summer haul of frozen fruits and veggies. I’m fortunate that the longest I’ve lost power during an outage is 12 hours, but there have been a couple of times I’ve been out of power for a few days due to human error. The first was a month after hubby and I got married. We’d just moved into a new rental house, and the electric company came by and determined that the meter was faulty and it was the owner’s responsibility to fix/replace it. Yeah, I moved into a hotel for three days while he got off his butt and did something about. Then, there was the time about four years ago when our refrigerator died. Same situation, slow landlord left us without a means to refrigerate food. Fortunately we also had a separate freezer that we were able to transfer the food to, but you can see how life can be so unpredictable and you can’t necessarily rely on just one source for your food needs.

You’re probably all tuckered out reading my very verbose blog by now, so I’ll give it a break. In the meantime, I’ll start thinking about what I want to say for part three. I think I might tackle emergency preparedness, since it is a good segway from food storage.

p.s. (I just learned ‘segway’ or ‘segueway’ is actually spelled segue, no ‘way’ at the end because the original word ‘segue’ is Italian and pronounced ‘segway’!)

 

Do you remember the old Life cereal commercials? Thanks to that commercial, “Mikey likes it” became the catchphrase when you don’t expect a person to like a certain food or dish, but they taste it and do end up liking it.

Well, in my first post I talked about my husband not liking vegetables. At all. Sometimes he’ll indulge me and eat a little bit, but the deal breaker is always onions, which he hates with a passion.

So guess what? Yesterday’s BBQ chicken sliders had red peppers AND onions! He literally gobbled it down, didn’t notice the onions though the red peppers were hard to miss, especially when one fell out onto his plate, and loved it! I was shocked when I looked at his plate and realized he had cleaned up every last bit of chicken that fell out, as well as the red pepper.

I commented about him eating the red pepper, and he said he didn’t mind it and thought it added to the flavor!

Well knock me over with a feather!!!

p.s. Totally unrelated, but a heads up that I’m going to do a review on Thrive’s golden cornbread mix shortly. I won a can in a door prize draw, and although it’s not something I would purposely buy, I don’t mind cornbread and I’m looking forward to trying it! Stay tuned!

Mikey likes it!

Why Freeze Dried? – part one aka Healthy Fast Food!

So you’re probably thinking “What is this chick’s deal?!? She’s blogging about freeze-dried foods completely out of the blue!” or maybe you’re thinking “Part one?!? How much can you write about freeze-dried foods???”

Truthfully I don’t know how many more parts I can write. It’s just that I have a lot of thoughts on the matter, and I thought I should try to sort them into cohesive parts. Hey, I may never get around to part two, but if my thoughts on the matter go off on a tangent, I can split them out into parts so I’m not rambling too much. (Am I rambling already?)

And why am I blogging out of the blue? A couple of thoughts on that. In this internet age, there isn’t anything you can’t find if you search for it. I research everything, and over the past few years I’ve found a lot of helpful blogs on a lot of different topics. It’s great, why not learn from others. I’ve saved myself a lot of grief that way, whether it be about crafting, camping, cooking, you name it. So if there are so many blogs out there, why yet another one? I guess I just haven’t found anybody blogging about food storage or freeze-dried foods from my perspective yet. So here we go, part one is about my perspective.

First of all, you have to understand a bit about me. I have a lot of health problems, most of which I believe I can improve by living a healthier life. You know, eating healthy, exercising… all the stuff I don’t like to do. I am morbidly obese (there, I said it!) and I have the typical health issues that obesity contributes to: type II diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea to name the primary ones. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m the first person who hates being dismissed by doctors due to my weight. They see you coming “Oh, here’s another fatty, easy diagnosis no matter what the problem, she just needs to lose weight.” Well let me tell you something. Different people have different body makeups. Some people have a slower metabolism, some people are not athletically minded, some people have fat genes. For a lot of people, losing weight is easier said than done. When your body has a lot of these predispositions, it’s that much harder. I’m French-Canadian on my dad’s side, and let me tell you, we like to eat and we like our desserts. You can scoff if you want, but for me that’s just one more predisposition working against me.

So back to the issue at hand. I know my weight is a main source of my health problems, and I’m predisposed to being overweight. I’ve tried a lot of tactics and strategies over the years, and it always comes down to one thing: changing your lifestyle. Again, easier said than done. They say that knowing is half the battle. Well, I know I’m lazy, I don’t like to spend a lot of time prepping food, my husband works nights so half the time I’m only cooking for myself, and to top it off he is one of the fussiest eaters I’ve ever met. So I have to come up with strategies to help me overcome my faults.

This is where freeze-dried foods come in. They’re healthy, they’re pre-chopped, I can use as much or as little as I want, and unlike fresh foods they won’t go bad in my refrigerator if I don’t use them right away. Speaking of my fridge… I have a bunch of recipes pinned to my fridge, a lot of them favorites that I haven’t made in awhile. Ever since I got the freeze-dried bug, I see these recipes in a whole new light. I’ll be browsing a magazine and stumble up in a yummy recipe. My first thought now is that once I’ve built up my stockpile, I can make all these recipes without having to run to the store for items I don’t have. If I have to leave the house anyhow, why not just pick up something premade from the deli counter? Or worse, the fast-food drive-thru? You might say “lazy”, I say “strategy to eat healthier”.  Sun Tzu said something to the effect of “Know your enemy and know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster”. Your stumbling blocks are your enemy. All of the above is my enemy, and I know how I react in a given situation, so theoretically I now know how to fight and win this battle. Don’t beat yourself up, pinpoint your weaknesses and find your strategy to overcome them. My strategies might not work for others, but I’ve proven to myself in the past that they work for me. So here I go on this new journey!

(And yes, I really did just quote The Art of War while blogging about freeze-dried foods!!!)

My Q is set up!

What’s a Q? Think of it as the word ‘queue’. You’ve picked product that you want to order, and on the pre-determined date your order ships out. That’s perhaps not the way Thrive Life explains it, but that’s how it made sense to me when I first learned about it. You can manipulate your queue over the course of the month, so it’s not like you have to order the same stuff each month.

This is one way that Thrive differs from other home/party businesses, at least in my experience from having attended various parties. You can flip through the product catalog and place a one-time order, or if like me you know right away you want to incorporate Thrive foods into your lifestyle. You have to order a minimum of $100 through the Q each month, otherwise a yearly membership fee applies. That’s really not that big of a deal in my opinion though, because realistically, how much do you spend on groceries in a month? You’re essentially just reallocating a small portion of your grocery budget.

The thought of putting together my first Q order was a bit daunting, I must admit. Have you ever gone to the grocery store determined to only spend a certain amount, but come out with two or three times that amount? Guilty as charged. At first, I planned on taking home the product list and figuring out with my husband what foods we wanted to try. Then, Marcy (my consultant) talked about what they call “Smart Start”. Basically, it’s a selection of their most popular foods sent out over the space of three months (one per month)… Yes!!! I don’t have to pick and choose!!! Sometimes that’s a good thing.

They have three different levels to pick from: $100, $150, or $200. I really liked the assortment of the $100 Smart Start, so I went with that one. And actually, they just launched the $100 level last month, and I think it was a good decision on their part. Here’s what I’ll be getting for month 1:

· Chopped Chicken (FD)

· Strawberry Slices (FD)

· Peach Slices (FD)

· Chopped Onions (FD)

· Celery (FD)

· Sweet Corn (FD)

· Instant Milk

· Classic Tomato Sauce

· Classic Cookie Dough Mix

It should arrive sometime next week. So excited!!!

Freeze-dried, say whaaaat?

When I was 16, I visited Washington DC. Of course on the list of stops was the Smithsonian. I don’t remember much, the lines have blurred between my memory and what I’ve read/seen/heard about the Smithsonian. I want to say I remember the Spirit of St. Louis, but do I? Did I just see it on tv, or in a movie? The one absolute memory I have is NASA’s freeze-dried astronaut ice cream. It was Neapolitan flavoured, and I bought a package to take home and share with my family. It was only impressive by the fact that it was freeze-dried. Otherwise, the flavor left to be desired.

That was my first foray into freeze-dried foods. Thank you Smithsonian. While I didn’t care to repeat the taste test, I was still in awe at the technology. Fast forward several years into my 30s. I’m now happily married… to a man who doesn’t eat vegetables. There isn’t a single vegetable he likes, with the exception of snow peas says he. Of all vegetables, what an odd one to like. He also likes pickled beets (go figure) but I tell him pickled doesn’t count. Nor do potatoes.

Needless to say, cooking has been a challenge. I grew up in a household where vegetables accompanied every meal, and onions in particular were in abundance. I don’t even really think of onions as a vegetable really, they’re more of a seasoning: they add flavor to everything. How can you cook without onions???

Over the past nine years of my married life, I’ve discovered that if I chop stuff finely enough, I can sneak in lots of things, including onions. I was thrilled a few years ago when I found little jars of freeze-dried onions at the grocery store. This now meant that I could easily toss in a handful of itty bitty chopped onions into dishes without worrying about cutting into an onion for such a measly portion, and about it going bad before I could use it all up. They also had other freeze-dried items like cilantro, which I promptly bought as well. The drawback? So pricey!

Now fast forward to the present, just a few weeks ago. A friend invited me to a home party. Normally I don’t commit to attending unless I plan on buying, as I personally feel it’s a bit umm, rude (yes, I said it!) A few years ago I sold Pampered Chef, primarily so that I could stock my own shelves with product I really enjoyed but couldn’t justify buying otherwise, so I get the whole party concept, and it’s just always nicer when people at least buy something. So at first glance I didn’t plan on attending. It was called Thrive Life, and I thought it might be vitamins and supplements, or some weight-loss program. I took a look anyhow, and boy did I get excited. It was freeze-dried foods! Everything under the sun!!! The rest is history as they say, and I’m now happily waiting for my first order. I can’t wait for it to arrive so I can try everything out, and I will be posting notes about my Thrive journey so I can track what I like, don’t like, recipes etc.