Shelf Reliance: THRIVE Mu Shu Beef Stir Fry

Shelf Reliance: THRIVE Mu Shu Beef Stir Fry.

Today’s story features my version of Chef Todd’s Mu Shu Beef Stir-fry!

I decided to open up the rest of the veggies we received this week so that I could try them. There was zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, peas. Even Scott didn’t mind the last three, but I didn’t make him try the zucchini, lol!

Then, I asked him if I should open the beef dices. He said to go for it so I did… and I just stared into the can. Scott reached for a piece, as my eyes got big… he said it was good! So, I decided to be brave and took a small piece. Oh my!!! It was so tasty!!! By far my favorite meat protein from THRIVE Life to date!

I promptly looked up the Mu Shu Beef recipe that THRIVE suggests. I didn’t quite have everything it called for, so I made some substitutions, and it was delicious!!!

I didn’t have the carrots or bell peppers. I also added cauliflower and broccoli because those are two of my favorite stir-fry veggies! I had peas but… not the biggest fan of peas at the best of times, so I decided to omit.

I used Epicure’s garlic, and some freeze-dried cilantro (no fresh of either). I used tamari instead of regular soy sauce. Tamari is often gluten-free, though some brands have a bit of wheat. If you have problems with gluten, make sure to check the label. It’s also more flavorful in my opinion, and less salty.

I didn’t have regular rice vinegar, but I used a mango-flavored rice vinegar which worked just fine. I also didn’t have the THRIVE beef bouillon, so I used the OXO beef stock that I had on hand.

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Express Hearty Chili = Success!

I was rather hungry last night, but didn’t really feel up to cooking. I thought it might be a good time to try one of the pouches of THRIVE’s new Express line of products: pre-prepared products, just add water. Normally I’m not big on that kind of stuff, but I figured it’s hard to go wrong with chili. THRIVE Express Hearty Chili with Beans So, I put four waters of cup edit: four cups of water (I can’t believe I published it with that backwards! four waters of cup, sheesh!) in a saucepan and added the pouch contents (minus the oxygen absorber of course!) Stirred it up and followed the directions to let it boil, then simmer for 20-25 minutes. It was still a bit more liquid than I normally like, but after letting it sit for a few minutes (as per directions, duh!) it firmed up a bit and I ladled it into a bowl. I hadn’t reconstituted any cheese, so I thought why not just sprinkle some of the freeze-dried cheddar on top? It had a nice crunch and added texture. Freeze-dried Cheddar CheeseI started eating quite enthusiastically after the first bite. It was really tasty! Then I remembered I should probably take a picture for my blog. This blogging thing is terribly complicated at times. 😉 2014-07-04 22.25.00 Yes. I’m eating at my laptop. Mea culpa. What do you think about eating freeze-dried cheese without reconstituting it? I think it tastes like scrumptious cheese crips!!! I have to stop myself from eating it by the spoonful out of the can!

July Specials are here!!

What an amazing month of specials. I’ve already added the July Picnic Pack to my order, it’s such a fantastic deal.

July 2014 Specials

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The specials are already a great deal when you buy directly on my website, but if you want the Q Club pricing, let me know and I’ll hook you up!

To order from the website, click the link in the right sidebar. If you want more info, use the Contact form at the top!

 

 

My 5-minute Bolognese sauce!

Normally I make my pasta sauce from scratch, but it takes a lot longer than 5 minutes. THRIVE Life has a great line of sauce bases, which you can use just by adding water, or in a recipe to create another sauce or even a dish. In my starter kit there was a pantry size can of Tomato Sauce, so I decided to make pasta on Monday.

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Now, remember fussy husband, no likey vegetables? I don’t have a lot of vegetables to incorporate yet, but so far I have celery and onion that I can use. I am NOT putting sweet corn in my pasta sauce, lol. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to test out my ability to ‘disguise’ veggies in the food I make, using THRIVE’s freeze-dried veggies. You see, one of the benefits of freeze-dried foods is that you can grind it down into a powder. Finally, an opportunity to use the mortar and pestle!!

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Anyhow, let me backtrack a bit. The first thing I did was reconstitute the ground beef. To make 1 lb. of ground beef, you combine 2 ½ cups Ground Beef with 2 cups of warm water. Give it a stir to make sure it’s evenly soaking up the water, and let it sit for a few minutes. Can you see how the stuff in the can looks dry, and the stuff in the bowl looks moist? Maybe not, I just took these quickly on my iPhone!

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Next, I put some celery in the mortar and ground it up. It only took me 15 to 30 seconds, not hard at all! I did the same for the onions.

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Stirred it all up and moved on to the next step! Now, I want to mention, there is an excellent recipe for Bolognese Sauce right on the can of Tomato Sauce. I’ve been making my own from scratch for years, and I didn’t have everything called for, so I just ignored it. That being said, if you purchase the Tomato Sauce, I highly recommend trying the recipe!

At this point, I got so excited by how fast things were progressing that I forgot to take pictures, eep! I was literally maybe no more than 5 minutes into my adventure. I chucked the above into the skillet, and proceeded to mix up some sauce in a bowl. Chucked the tomato sauce in the skillet, added some ground pepper and some roasted garlic powder to it, and let it simmer! OMG, a 5-minute Bolognese!

It was very tasty. Hubby commented that it tasted a bit different from what I normally make, but that he liked it. I asked him if he’d be okay with me making it that way from now on, and he said yes! I’m really looking forward to getting some red and green bell peppers to grind up and add to my sauce next time!

The funny thing is that it took longer to boil the pasta than it did to make the sauce. That’s a first. Here is the end result below. I toyed with the thought of using some of the THRIVE cheese (which we tried the other day and was very tasty!) but I had some Balderson’s 2 year aged cheddar in the fridge that I really wanted to use. =)

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What do you think? How do you make your Bolognese sauce, and what would you suggest I add next time? Here is the full list of veggies (I was even thinking I could sneak broccoli and asparagus in… if I wanted!) Let me know what I should try!

http://www.kimkirby.thrivelife.com/all-products/thrive-foods/vegetables.html

Saturday Market in the Park – Cultus Lake!

Just a quick check-in! I’ve been busy with all kinds of stuff the last few days, but haven’t forgotten about my blog!

Two days ago I spent the day at Cultus Lake, at an event called Saturday Market in the Park. It was the opening weekend, and the weather wasn’t great so there weren’t too many people, but I still had a lovely time. I had a booth sampling THRIVE foods. I offered samples of freeze-dried pineapple, banana, and sliced strawberries. I forgot to take a picture, so here’s one I borrowed from the internet, so you can see how beautiful it is there!

Cultus-Lake-Market

 

I will be back at Cultus Lake this coming Saturday June 21, so if you’re local to me (British Columbia, Canada) please come on by and try some THRIVE foods! If you want to find the market, here’s a map:

What are your plans for the first official weekend of the summer?!!

Drumroll please…

So here’s the thing. I love THRIVE foods so much, that I’ve decided to become a consultant, eeeeeeee!!! The kit is all food that we’re going to eat, so how can I go wrong? And this “home party” company is like none other I’ve ever known: there is no sales requirement, or party requirement, or recruitment requirement! As long as I spend $50/month myself (buying food!) I’m considered an active consultant. And if the day ever comes that I don’t want to buy THRIVE foods anymore, I just stop.

The thing about becoming a consultant is that I now get my food even cheaper. Yay! And if you’re wondering what’s up with the Scottie dog, well, they’re my favorite and you don’t see shots of them looking excited like this too often. In other words, I included it just because I can!

 

excited scottie

Yay! My first order arrived!!!

I’m so excited, my order arrived today!!! Is it ridiculous to get so excited over freeze-dried food? I have to figure out what I want to try first!

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It took all my willpower not to open the peaches and strawberries and eat them on the spot! When hubby gets home, we’ll try things out. Even though he opened the actual box without me!

The first month of ‘Taste of THRIVE’ comes with the brand new guide that they came out with a couple of months ago. Haven’t read it yet, but it’s full of information about how to use the food and whatnot.

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It also came with a pamphlet with info on each of the products in the box, and some quick tips on how to use everything in the box. Oh, and there are also some recipe cards, which I didn’t take a picture of.

ImageThe real test is going to be the instant milk. My husband says he used to drink a gallon of milk a day when he was younger. Fortunately he only goes through about a gallon a week now! So all that to say that he loves his milk. Apparently in a blind taste test, people preferred the instant milk over fresh milk. We’ll see what he thinks, but if his reaction to everything else he’s tried holds, he will love it. How great would that be? I don’t have to worry about using the last of the milk before we pick up a new gallon! Oh the small pleasures in life! Stay posted, I’ll let you know what he thinks! If nothing else, it is supposed to be really easy to use in baking. I might have to experiment with some ‘cake in a jar’ recipes, I bet it would come in real handy for that.

 

 

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’!)

 

Mikey likes it!

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!