Jun 012015
 

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Blue Diamond.  I’ve been choosing Blue Diamond at my local markets for several years now, long before I became part of the Blue Diamond Tastemakers program.

Last month I was sharing a whole bunch about the new-to-me Blue Diamond deliciousness.  Honestly, I have been really impressed with all the new products and flavors that Blue Diamond has been rolling out over the past several months.  The flavors are bolder and better than I expect before tasting them, the protein content in the nut-thins hit my happy spot, and adding some coconut to the deliciousness of Almond Breeze is a flavor combo I’ll never complain about.

In terms of impressing me, the newest fresh-to-the-shelves product I’ve received to review has been no different: Hint of Honey Vanilla Almond Breeze Almondmilk. It’s rich and creamy with a slight sweetness that rounds out the flavor perfectfully.  I’ve tried it latte-style with the help of my Mr. Coffee Latte, to thin out my post-workout smoothies, and as a substitute for water in my morning oats.  I’ve also used the honey-delicious-AlmondBreeze in an ice pops recipe I share below because I’m all about the cooling-down these days.

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I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in the CDNY it seems that we’ve skipped right over spring and headed straight for early summer.  We have one window unit air conditioner at the apartment, which we keep in the bedroom because sleeping well is a top priority for my overall health.  This means all the other rooms of THS HQ can double as a hot yoga studio, even when the oven remains in the off position. [Let’s not talk about what it feels like when I dare to turn it to the on position, okay?]

All in all, though, it’s not THAT bad.  Maybe it’s the several years spent on the gulf coast of Texas, but even the hottest days here in NY seem incredibly bearable, especially with all the best tools to my disposal.  I keep a pitcher of water in the fridge so I can always cool down via hydration.  The back porch is a fantastic spot to spend some time when the air near my computer feels stale.  My go-to at-home summer wardrobe = a running skirt and a tank, hair in messy bun on top of my head, and occasionally a BAMR band.

Another cool-down tool I’m swearing by these days are treats coming from the freezer.  I’ve been making smoothies more regularly than ever before in my life and recently realized that I could easily turn all my favorite smoothies into ice pops with the help of my dollar store plastic mold.  The steps are SO EASY and the outcome is well worth the [very little] effort.

popsicle round up

Destination Beach Vacation Ice Pops
I love island-flavor freezer pops for closing my eyes and imagining the heat I’m feeling is because I’m enjoying a moment of R&R on a beach vacation. 

Ingredients:

The steps are simple:

  • Fill a single serve [16 ounce] smoothie cup with frozen fruit, Greek yogurt and coconut.  Slowly add Almond Breeze to fill line on cup.
  • Blend into smoothie-like consistency.
  • Pour or spoon into mold and add sticks or plastic holders.
  • Freeze for several hours until firm.

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Frozen Pops Recipes to Cool Down with This Summer
With the addition of honey in many of these recipes, I feel especially kitchen-confident subbing in the Hint of Honey Almond Breeze Almond Milk for my own freezer creations! 

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Lime Pina Colada Popsicles from Back to Her Roots. Another tropical vacation straight from my apartment freezer? Yes, please!

Vanilla Peach Pops from Love and Lemons. Who would turn down a classic flavor combo like peaches & cream?

Key Lime Pie Ice Pops from Freutcake. Pie turned pop?  I can get down with that.  I love the gram cracker outer crust on these beauties.

Papaya Coconut Popsicles from Floating Kitchen. I love the look of a layered freezer treat – so gorgeous!  And papaya and coconut are another imagine-yourself-watching-the-waves flavor combination to embrace this summer.

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Bumbleberry Chia Pops from The Healthy Everythingtarian. This advice from my girl Holly in this post pretty much sums up life for me: “Wherever you are at, be there. Push forward. Eat popsicles.”

Blueberry Lemon Popsicles from Try Anything Once Culinary. High School Heather fell for berry flavored lemonade at chain restaurants and I’ve never stopped being a fan of the partnership sweet berries and sour citrus.  These pops make me dream of another favorite summertime treat, Lemon Ice from Culver’s.  Yummmmmmmmmmmm.

Summertime Dessert Banana Berry Acai Popsicles from Lauren Lives Healthy. I totally agree with Lauren that the best way to beat the heat come summertime are frozen treats. These antioxidant boosted treats will totally do the job in my book.

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Green Smoothie Protein Pops from Eating Bird Food. These seem like a great post-workout cool down treat if you ask me!

Almond Coconut Fudgesicles from Bliss N Balance.  Almond + coconut + fudge = my favorite mini-candy bar treat – an Almond Joy!  I’m digging this flavor combo!

Pineapple Mint Popsicles from Fitnessista. Pineapple Mojitos are one of my favorite hot weather cocktails, and these ice pops fall right in-line with those flavors.

Watermelon Whole Fruit Popsicles from Nutrition by Angelique. These freezer treats are made with 100% fruit, using puree, slices and chunks.  What a great way to amp up your fruit servings during the hot summer months!

Apr 092015
 

As I mentioned back when I challenged you to join me in trying a new cut of beef in your kitchen this month, I purchased a sirloin tip roast when it was on sale at my local market and had wrapped it and stored in the freezer.

Thanks to the Interactive Beef Counter [a resource I can’t stop raving about because I can’t stop using it!] I knew I wanted to cook this cost-friendly roast slowly in the oven and slice it thin.

presear

Rather than use a metal rack in my pan, I choose to cut some of my veggies purposefully to be used as a edible-rack underneath the roast. [You can start to see my row of carrot slices peaking out underneath the pre-seared piece of roast in the photo above.]

When it comes to the freggies in this recipes, use what you love.  The size and variety of the produce available at the market often helps dictate how much of which ingredients get roasted with dishes like this in my kitchen!

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I often double up on veggies in weekend dinner recipes to get extra, easy veggie power for leftovers throughout the week, and this recipe is a great dish in which to try this food prep trick. If you are over crowding the pan due to the amount of veggies you’ve got going on, just add an additional baking dish, sheet, or pan to the oven containing just veggies.

Sirloin Tip Roast with Freggie Medley

Rosemary and Thyme Rubbed Sirloin Tip Roast with Roasted Freggie Medley
1.5 – 2 lbs Sirloin Tip Roast
kosher salt
3 T chopped fresh rosemary
2 T dried thyme
2 tsp pepper
2 T mustard of choice
2 carrots, peeled and cut into long, thick strips [if using as roasting bed]
1 C baby carrots or bite sized chunks of peeled carrots
2 sweet potatoes, diced into large bite-sized pieces
3 red potatoes, diced into large bite-sized pieces
2 pears, cored and diced into bite-sized pieces
2 apples, cored and diced into bite-sized pieces
4-5 T EVOO, divided

[Not required, but I personally find that a little planning and including this step adds an extra bit of juiciness to the roast!…] The night before cooking, salt the roast evenly over all sides before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight.

Remove from fridge an hour before cooking.

Move one of the racks to the center of your oven and preheat to 275°F.

Unwrap the roast and pat away any access moisture with a clean kitchen or paper towel.

In a small dish, toss together rosemary, thyme, and pepper.

Toss apples, carrots, pears, and potatoes in 2-3 T EVOO [depending on the amount of freggies] and half of herb mixture and place in bottom of roasting pan.  If you don’t have a roasting pan, a deep 9 x 13 oven-safe dish can work.

If you plan to place the roast on top of the vegetables, using the larger, long pieces of carrots to create a sort of rack/bed underneath the roast for support while keeping it off the bottom of the pan.

Rub roast with mustard, then rub half of herb mixture evenly over sides of roast.

In a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet with 1 T of oil, sear each side of the roast until browned, which should take about 2-4 minutes each side. I added more oil about half-way through the roast rotation.

postsearpreoven

After searing each side, place in prepared roasting dish and place in the preheated oven on the center rack.

Cook roast for a little over an hour, or until temperature reaches 115°F on your meat thermometer.  Turn your oven off, leaving the roast in for about 30-40 minutes or until it reaches 140°F for medium rare; 150°F for medium.

Transfer roast to carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes. [Temperature will continue to rise about 5°-10°F to reach 145°F for medium rare; 160°F for medium.]

Carve roast to deserved thickness.  Serve with roasted veggies and your favorite dinner grain.  I love herb-flavored cous cous or quinoa made in broth!

with freggies

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Beef Expert Bureau.  This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff.

Mar 302015
 

Green smoothies are one of those things that seem like a 2009 health blogger cliche, right next to banana soft serve and daily meal postings surely to be the focus of an SNL skit covering the topic if it were to ever exist.  Though the great “green monster movement” has been in existence for years, the power of the green is still as mighty today as it was back after your first sip when you couldn’t believe how much the spinach remained undetected.

This spring I’ve been on a smoothie making mission, adding greens to the mix as often as possible. It’s a great way to put to use about-to-spoil greens and stretch your grocery dollar, a mission we are always on.  To help save a few more pennies, when greens are on my grocery list for meal planning I like to buy a big, bulk bag to get the best unit price. Then after I’ve used the greens in my meal prep and salad making, I’ll whip up a batch of Lindsay’s Frozen Spinach Cubes to keep in the freezer.  Future Heather has no excuses and can #make1healthydecision with ease by adding a couple of cubes to smoothies when she doesn’t have fresh greens on hand.

fillyourfreezer

If you’re on a “Fill the Freezer” kick, these spinach cubes would also be a great addition to pre-made smoothie packs.  It’s super simple – fill freezer Ziploc bags with the ingredients for one serving each. When you want a smoothie, add bag contents to single serve cup, top with liquid/yogurt and blend. You can use any of your favorite ingredients, of course, but here’s a few great resources to help get you started.

When I heard that Stonyfield was working with Hamilton Beach to give bloggers the chance to test out their new single serve blender, I was excited to get my green smoothie making on!  These blenders are the perfect size for a small apartment or dorm room and I LOVE all the bright colors available.  Along with the blue I received, there is a dark pink, teal, red and lime green option along with the standard white and black versions.  These blenders retail for only $20 on the Hamilton Beach website and would make a great gift for a first apartment or student going off to school!

green in the blender

Hamilton Beach and Stonyfield want to give one of you the opportunity to become a green smoothie making pro, too! Would you like to win your own single serve blender and Stoneyfield coupons to try out your favorite smoothie recipes?

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To enter: Leave a comment telling me what your most favorite smoothie ingredient is!
[I love PB2 powdered peanut butter or Bob’s Red Mill coconut flakes for major flavor game-changers!]

For 3 BONUS entries to the giveaway: Follow @ThenHeatherSaid, @HamiltonBeach & @Stonyfield on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway.  Make sure to leave a link to your tweet in the comments here to qualify for your 3 bonus entries!

Sample Tweet [feel free to copy and paste!]:
Giveaway to make Smoothie Making Simple this Spring http://wp.me/p1ebpN-5aq from @thenheathersaid @HamiltonBeach & @stonyfield

 

I created a few different recipes using both fresh spinach and frozen cubes, but the recipe below is by far my favorite and has been in regular rotation at my apartment ever since.  It’s the first time I’ve used granny smith apple in a smoothie and the sweet and tart addition was WONDERFUL and something I’ll definitely be relying on in future recipes. I hope you try it and enjoy!

ingredients

This smoothie makes a great weekday breakfast, adding a dose of freggie goodness to start your day off on a healthy choice!  Since I’m on a Meal Planning and Food Prep kick these days, I make a double batch in my full size blender – one serving for now, and one stored in a jar in the fridge for breakfast the next day.  If you are using your single serve blender, just cut the ingredient list in half and pulse away!

green smoothie poured

Pina Greenlada Smoothie
Makes 24 ounces; (2) 12 ounce servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 Tablespoons shredded coconut
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 1 cup diced green apple
  • 1 cup diced frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup Stonyfield Lowfat Banilla Yogurt

Instructions

  • Add ingredients to blender in order of listing above, adding the spinach first and the yogurt last.  If you are using frozen cubes instead of fresh spinach, instead of adding first, adding right before yogurt.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Pour and store, or enjoy!

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stoneyfield tropical smoothie nutrition facts 12 ounces

*Giveaway open to U.S. residents only. Prize is provided by Stonyfield and Hamilton Beach. I had the opportunity to test this blender from Hamilton Beach and received product coupons from Stonyfield as part of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club; all opinions and content are my own.