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!

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.

sauces-tomato_1

 

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.

Powdered Celery 2014-06-23 16.35.03

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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

What worries you most?

-Are you concerned with Emergency Preparedness and having food on hand in case of emergencies?

-Are you concerned about eating non-GMO foods? What about ensuring your food is packaged in a gluten-free environment?

-Are you concerned about the amount of spoiled food that gets thrown out in your house?

-Are you concerned about eating healthy when you have little time to prep and cook food?

-Do you have seasonal income, and are concerned about your grocery bill when funds are low?

Which of the above are concerns for you? They are all concerns for me, to varying degrees, and THRIVE foods can help you with these concerns. I wish I could reach through the computer screen and give you a sample. You won’t believe how tasty it is until you actually try it! Let me know if you’d like me to send you a sample.  =)

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!

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!!!)