Breakfast

Kitchen Tech Saturday: Online Lunch delivery with EatPakd

Note: This post is not sponsored, and the discount code given at the end of the post is not an affiliate code. All opinions are mine.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware of all the grocery delivery, local food delivery, and meal prep delivery kits available online these days. If you never want to leave the house, but can’t quite get yourself to give up that pesky habit of, you know, eating, there’s a service out there that can help.

I love going grocery shopping, I can definitely plan meals and cook for myself, and most of the time, if I’m going to eat food from a restaurant, I’d like to enjoy the perks of actually eating there. However, there’s been one particular meal that’s been a little bit of a challenge for me– breakfast.

I have to be out the door no later than 530am to get to work anywhere close to on time. I am NOT a morning person, so the chances of me getting up any earlier than I have to to make breakfast are, well, let’s not kid ourselves, not good. I tried doing the overnight oats thing, but discovered that driving and eating a two handed breakfast meant not only was I driving with lots of distractions (and I’m not the most awake driver at that hour, as it is), but I also ended up with about 10 percent of my breakfast on the front of my shirt.  I needed something I could eat one handed that also didn’t force me to look down to see where my spoon was landing. I saw a mention about EatPakd on Twitter, and after poking around their website I thought, “Ok, maybe this will work.” I found a coupon code that gave me a discount off my first week of meals, and we were off to the races.

 

EatPakd was designed for busy parents who may not always have time to pack a healthy lunch for their kids in the morning. They use organic and non-GMO fruits and veggies whenever possible, and each meal is balanced with lean protein, good carbs, and fresh ingredients– Great for moms and dads who don’t want rushing out the door to mean they’re sending their kids out into the world with a less than nutritious lunch. For me, it means I’m getting breakfast without having to rely on fast food or pre-packaged stuff with a dubious ingredients list.

The website is easy to use. Within each weekly menu, I can go with their pre-set combinations, OR I can customize my own meal packs based on what appealed to me, and what would be the most commute friendly combination. You can plan up to a month at a time, but you have until Sunday night to finalize your order for the following week.

 

But of course, you know I wouldn’t even be talking about EatPakd at all if the food wasn’t good. It is. The fruits and veggies are flavorful, and taste as fresh as if I’d cut them up that morning. The entrees for my first week ranged from whole grain waffle bites with sunbutter and jelly, to a steamed pork bun that, I’ll admit, I was a little dubious about, but turned out to be one of my favorites of the week. The packaging is easy to open, one handed and without looking, and each section can be separated from the others, in case you want to say, save that cookie for later in the day, or hold on to those tomatoes and crackers for a pre-gym snack.

If there are any cons to EatPakd, I’d say it was probably that some weeks the gluten free and vegetarian options right off the shelf are a little slim. However, because you can customize your meals, there are ways to work with the menu to get what you want, and you can opt to say, take the meat off that turkey roll up. All of their ingredients are nut and tree nut free, except for a few items that contain coconut.  If you have questions, or can’t quite figure out how to get exactly what you need, their customer service link is available on every page, and while right now you can’t call them directly, I got an answer to my customer service question within 12 hours. They’re also very responsive on social media.

Pricewise, for me, this is definitely about the same as I might spend getting a fast food breakfast or buying something microwaveable. You can decide how many meals you want per week. If you want to just keep a few of these around as a back up for those mornings when everyone is running late, the 4 meal plan might work for you. if you’re looking for an every day solution, the eight or twelve meal plan might be a better fit.  Of course, you can also skip weeks, say, if you’re going on vacation.

If you’d like to give EatPakd a try, use the code GONNACOOKTHAT at checkout to get $15 off of your first week. If you do try it, let me know what you think!

The food of love

There has been a lot of discussion in recent days, and months, about rights. Constitutional rights. Human rights. Some of them are written down. Some of them are not. We just take for granted that we have them. Maybe we don’t even think about having some of them, because we’ve never been in a position to NOT have them.

No, I’m not about to get political. I promise. But, I wanted to show you a sign that hangs in the Right 2 Dream Too rest site, in downtown Portland, Oregon.

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The last letter up there is blocked, but you can probably tell it’s the word “sleep.” It says, “Sleep is a human right.”
Did you ever think about that, as you climbed into bed at night? I have been in the position of having to sleep in my car a few times over the course of my life, but still, even then, I had a car to sleep in. I could lock the doors. I had a pillow, and a blanket, and a relatively safe place to park so that I could sleep without being bothered. I could exercise my human right to sleep.

I say all of this to explain to you just what a place like the Right 2 Dream Too camp means to those who come there to sleep. As they come into the front gate, they check in with security. No weapons or drugs are allowed on the premises. If they don’t have their own bedding, a pillow and blanket are provided to them. And then, finally, they can lay their weary bodies down, close their eyes, and sleep. It is, as the organization’s website explains, “…a safe space to rest or sleep undisturbed for Portland’s unhoused community who cannot access affordable housing or shelter.” It’s there so that guests of the rest site can exercise their human right to sleep.

Early in the morning, on the last Saturday of October, under drizzly, gray Portland skies, Chef Ryan Spragg, Chef Skye Van Schetsen, and I  teamed up to serve guests of R2D2 breakfast from their on-site mobile kitchen. Under Chef Skye’s leadership, we’re members of an international group of chefs called Kitchen Warfare.

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Thanks to Suzanne Birch and the whole team at Birch Family Services in Portland, we were able to “go shopping” in the BFS food pantry, which provided us with about 90% of the supplies we needed to make the breakfast possible, including potatoes, onions, eggs, fresh pineapple and strawberries, coffee creamer, and enough bagels to fill the trunk of Skye’s car! The generous donors to our GoFundMe campaign helped pay for all the paper goods, forks, spoons, and serving utensils, plus the ever important coffee.

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Thanks to Chef Javier at Urdaneta, a Portland tapas restaurant and Chef Ryan’s home base, we had a kitchen to use (very late into the night) to prep the ingredients for hash browns, and fresh fruit salad.

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Along with the hash browns, and fruit salad, we served scrambled eggs with bacon and burrata cheese, cinnamon pastries, bagels, and fresh brewed coffee.

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As I mentioned in my last post, this was the second breakfast Kitchen Warfare’s had the privilege to serve at Right 2 Dream Too, and we’re hoping to work with them one more time in late spring of next year.  We’ve become quite fond of them. 🙂

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As for me, this experience was the final push I needed to pull the trigger on plans to hit the road next year and really dig into what I’m beginning to believe is a calling… to learn more about our food system through volunteer work on community farms and homesteads, and doing more extensive work with and for organizations that care for those dealing with hunger, food insecurity, and homelessness. I’ll be making stops in New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Chicago, the Pacific Northwest, my home state of Colorado, as well as central and northern California in 2017, and I really hope I’ll be able to expand my adventures into other parts of the country in 2018. Along the way, I’ll meet up with other members of the Kitchen Warfare team to join forces for more great projects, and of course, make some new friends.

This blog will evolve into a bit of a travel/food diary. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop cooking! No way! I’ll keep sharing as many of the yummy recipes I try as I can, but you’ll also see many of my stops between kitchens. Keep an eye on my Instagram and Facebook pages for pictures, videos, and updates, as well. I’m so excited for this journey, which is made so much better because I’ll get to share it with you all.

I Surrender! Let’s Pumpkin Spice ALLLL the Things!

Not really. Not all of them. For instance, while I was in Seattle, I saw this:

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The gentleman behind the counter assured me it’s delicious, but I just can’t get on board. Sorry.

However, there is a time and place for pumpkin spice things, and in my humble opinion, breakfast is one of them. A pumpkin-y breakfast is a great way to start your day!

Did you know that 1 cup of mashed pumpkin contains 200% of your recommended daily Vitamin A? PLUS, it has beta-carotene, the stuff that makes it orange, which your magnificent body changes into even more Vitamin A. Know what Vitamin A is good for? Your eyeballs. Especially when they need to see in low light, say, when you’re waking up at 6am in the winter.

If you’re one of those people I don’t understand at all who gets right out of bed and goes to the gym, having some pumpkin in your post-work out breakfast can help replace some of the potassium you lost–even better than a banana!*

Anyhoots, what I’m saying is, eat some pumpkin in the morning. Do yourself a favor.

Maybe you could try these pumpkin polenta bars? They’re pretty easy to put together the night before, and one batch should last you at least a couple of days, and maybe all week, depending on how many people are eating breakfast at your place.

Equipment:
1 medium sized pot
1 saute pan
1 wooden spoon, for stirring
can opener
9×9 baking pan (you might call it a brownie pan)

Ingredients:
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups water
1 cup polenta (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 T cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar + 1 T for the topping
3/4 cup panko (I used honey panko, but regular is fine)
1/3 cup rough chopped walnuts or pecans
1 T butter + some to butter the pan

Preheat your oven to 350°. Butter the pan lightly all over the bottom and at least halfway up the sides. Set aside.

In your pot, combine the water and maple syrup and bring it to a boil. Add the polenta, sprinkling it in a bit at a time as you stir to avoid lumps.

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When all the polenta has been incorporated, lower the heat to a simmer and stir for about 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon and sugar, and stir it all in well.

NOTES: 1) Polenta gets hot… like molten lava hot, so keep your heat low and don’t stand right in front of the pot or you’ll get splattered and that’s not fun. 2) Make sure you are stirring pretty constantly to avoid scorching. If you need to walk away from the pot for any length of time, go ahead and remove it from the heat until you can get back to it. The polenta will keep thickening without the heat. If you come back and it’s a little too thick, just add a little water back in to loosen it up and keep stirring until it’s cooked.

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This isn’t an overly sweet breakfast bar, but at this point you can taste the polenta and adjust the sugar and cinnamon as you see fit. Continue stirring until the polenta is thick, but not stiff. It should still be loose enough to spread into your pan.

Pour the polenta into your buttered pan and spread it around to even out the thickness. Set aside.

In your saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium low heat until the bubbles have subsided and it just starts to brown. Add the panko, the nuts, and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and stir to combine with the butter. You’re basically just trying to toast the panko and the nuts slightly.

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Top the polenta with the panko mixture, and pop it into the oven for 15 minutes.

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The polenta won’t brown. You’re basically baking it to set it up so it can be cut into bars.

Take it out of the oven, let it cool, cut it into squares, and viola! Portable Pumpkin Polenta!

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*Source: Huffington Post 

All I want for my birthday is…

As per usual, the end of the quarter at school brings on Panic Mode. This quarter I’m trying to get my menu project wrapped up and it’s a LOT of work. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled recipes and ridiculousness soon. Pinky Swear!

Today is my birthday. I’m never very good at answering those, “What do you want for… (your birthday, Christmas, etc.)?” type questions. It just feels weird to ask for things. I’ve gotten a couple of awesome gifts this year without ever asking, and I like it way more when someone gives because they want to instead of because they feel like they have to.

But I’m going to ask you all for something on my birthday.

Go out to dinner tonight. Or tomorrow night. Or any time this month, really. But, don’t go to just any old restaurant. Go to one that is participating in No Kid Hungry’s Dine Out campaign. These restaurants have promised to help raise money to end childhood hunger in a variety of ways, from special menu items to giving you the opportunity to donate at the register. Some of them are really nice restaurants, and some of them are your local fast food joint, so how much money you spend, and donate, is totally your call. But, you have to do it by the end of September. Maybe even do it more than once.

Yeah, I’m asking as a birthday present for me, but really, I think we all win. You get to eat out, and kids right there in your community get better access to the nutritious food they need to do well in school, retain what they are learning, and keep their little brains and bodies working like they should.

Go here, type in your zip code, and find a place to grub. Just like that, you’re part of the solution. Feels pretty good,  yeah?

For the rest of the month, I’ll be talking about two things.

1) My trip to the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle. I’m so excited I could mess myself. But I won’t, because that would be embarrassing.

and

2) Organizations that are really putting it out there to end childhood hunger.

For a sneak peak, check out the guest post I did over on the Heroes Like Us site. There’s some great information about No Kid Hungry’s efforts to get every school kid a good breakfast every day, and also, a delicious and easy breakfast idea to help kick start your day. Lookie there, another win-win!

 

Quick Breakfast

Spaghetti Squash with Ceylon Cinnamon & Honey

Ever roasted a spaghetti squash before? Super easy! 

Poke a bunch of slits into your raw squash with a knife. Put it in a pan, then into a 375 degree oven for an hour. Let it cool for just a little bit so you can cut it open without burning your fingers. Remove the seeds and the pulp, then scrape out the “spaghetti” with a fork. 

It’s got a mild squashy, veggie flavour. You can use it as a sub in pasta dishes, of course, but I was hungry and I just woke up so that makes this breakfast. Just a little good cinnamon and a tablespoon of honey mixed with about a cup of the squash. Tasty and healthy!