Blue Apron Review: Promo Code Included!!

We have all been there.  Looking in our fridge, scratching our heads, wondering what to make for dinner.  Or, trying to think of a new, creative dinner (yet healthy) in order to break the monotony of eating our “go-to” meals.  For me, that’s baked chicken or baked salmon with sides of baked sweet potatoes or brown rice with veggies (can you tell I like baked items?).  Combine that with being short on time and the idea of healthy meal planning becomes an arduous task.

In a casual chat with one of my girlfriends, Brittany, I discussed how hard it can be to meal plan AND to go food shopping.  Excitedly, she told me about a food service that she uses called Blue Apron.  Blue Apron is a snazzy food delivery company that ships a box of pre-portioned ingredients to your doorstep, along with detailed recipe cards for three dishes.  She proceeded to show me a stack of glossy recipe cards with familiar, yet exotic dishes.  Calorie counts and educational asides were included on the cards.  I was intrigued.

To be honest, I was wary about the service–were the food portions going to be enough for my husband and me? (Yes, they were perfect.) What if I didn’t like the food but already committed to it? (You can cancel or modify an upcoming week’s meal online if you don’t like what is being offered.) What if my food bill was now even higher because of this “added” expense? (My food bill was actually LESS expensive. Adding the cost of Blue Apron ($59) with my food bill, I STILL spent less than I would normally spend on a weekly basis.)

So I took a baby step and tried a few of their online recipes. I tried the Crispy Catfish with Sicilian Eggplant Caponata.  Obviously, I didn’t have catfish & eggplants laying around the house, so I had to plan a shopping trip.  I also had to pick up tomato paste, rice flour, capers, and red wine vinegar.  I had to forgo the marjoram because I couldn’t find it (honestly, I never heard of that before).  The finished product was great (click here for blog post on that dish), but I was left with a lot of extra ingredients that I will probably never use again.  What a waste of money.

From Instagram, Livingfortwoplus

From Instagram, Livingfortwoplus

I decided to try out the service. What’s the harm? I told my girlfriend I was thinking about trying it out so she gifted me a week free so that I could try it “commitment free” (Disclaimer–>I DID have to enter my credit card info, but I could cancel before they charged me if I didn’t like my first free week of food).

On Saturday, I got a gorgeous and impeccably organized & insulated box of food delivered to my door. I got three selections of raw meat that were sitting on ice packs. Separate from the meats were various vegetables and “knick knacks”–all labeled and perfectly measured for their corresponding recipes. The recipe cards were super stylish: large glossy cards with pictures detailing each step of the cooking process. 

Since I had three meals already taken care of, all I had to do was think about two other meals for the week. I found the inexpensive solution of buying a rotisserie chicken from Sam’s Club for under $5. I then bought some other basic necessities like bread, milk, etc. My food bill was $50–more than $75 less than what I normally spend.

A recent study showed that when customers purchased the ingredients in one Blue Apron delivery at grocery stores (from local grocery stores to Whole foods) in five different cities, the ingredients were 60% more expensivethan a Blue Apron delivery, and fewer than 75% of the ingredients were available at any one store on average” (Blue Apron, About Us)

The meals:

I had this, this, and this. The recipes took me out of my comfort zone, as I never really “seared” anything before, made cod fish, or prepared an Indian dish. Each and every dish was absolutely lovely. The only downside was that since it was my first time making these meals (and I had a busy baby in the background), it took me a long time to get through preparing each dish–washing & chopping the veggies, rereading the recipe cards, and debating whether or not the meat/fish was fully cooked. If I were working full time outside of my home (instead of being a WAHM), I’d have to prepare these meals on the weekend.  Or, maybe over time, I’ll get faster.  Also, the other downside is that there are no left overs.  So I’d recommend opting for a family plan if you are looking for extra food to last more than one day. 

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Special promo for you!

I reached out to Blue Apron to 1) tell them how much I love their service and 2) see if they would be interested in offering my blog readers a promotion code so that you all can try out Blue Apron.  I figured many of you would appreciate a few free meals (without a shopping trip). So here you have it faithful reader, a promo code so that you too can fall in love with Blue Apron –> My first 50 readers who use this link will get two free meals with their first Blue Apron Box (for first time customers only).

Some cool Blue Apron facts from Blue Apron’s About Us

Blue Apron is building a network of family farmers that champion sustainable farming practices.  These direct farmer relationships allow Blue Apron to give customers access to hard-‐‐to-‐‐find seasonal produce (e.g., fairytale eggplants, fiddlehead ferns, watermelon radishes and micro-‐‐basil).”

As of June 2015, over 1.1 million pounds of specialty crops were  planted and harvested by small, family-‐‐run farms for Blue Apron recipes. “
Blue Apron ships over 3 million meals per month to 99% of the U.S.”

I really, really, really hope that you enjoy Blue Apron as much as I did.  I decided to keep my subscription, so I got my second box of food yesterday.  I can’t wait to write & to post Instagram photos about this batch of food (follow my Instagram page here.

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Baby Food Ideas with Fruits, Veggies, and Poultry

Every few weeks I head over to my local Spanish supermarket, Fiesta, in order to pick up Ava’s favorite cereal: Nestum.  She loves this stuff.  When she first started eating solids, she couldn’t stand the standard American option of Gerber–it was the spicier Nestum that got her tastebuds hopping.

During my last visit, I walked through the baby isle and took a look at the jarred baby foods.  I hardly ever look at the jars because I make all of her food at home.  I use a Baby Bullet and I’ve had a lot of success with it.  But I make simple and bland things–sweet potato puree; mashed peas; applesauce. I looked at the jars on the shelf and there were so many interesting combinations: turkey with a starch and veggie puree; mixed fruits; mixed veggies.  I felt really bad that I wasn’t making such cool things too!


I bought some veggies and other items with the intent of making some new & interesting meals for Ava.

The results were fabulous.

Mango Applesauce:

I can’t have a little girl who already has a propensity towards Caribbean culture to not like mangos.  So I decided that might be fun to mix in with her standard applesauce.  It’s so easy too.

  1. Wash fruits.
  2. Peel, core, and chop up 2 apples.
  3. Steam apples until soft.
  4. Place in blender with slices of 1 peeled/deseeded mango
  5. Puree until desired consistency is reached.  Thin out with water if needed.

This will give you enough meals to enjoy for 4 days and freeze leftovers!

It’s sweet, delicious, and pretty to look at.  I even enjoyed a taste.

Sweet Potatoes and Peas Puree:

Ava loves sweet potatoes.  She loves peas (I use Birds Eye Frozen Peas, which have no additional or artificial ingredients).  So why not combine them? It is a nice, heavy meal, and is likely to make her sleepy (not a bad thing!).

  1. Wash sweet potato.
  2. Peel & chop up 1 large sweet potato.
  3. Steam sweet potato until soft.
  4. Place frozen peas in microwave and follow package instructions.
  5. Place both items (in portions) into blender.
  6. Puree until desired consistency is reached.  Thin out with water if needed.

This will give you about 2 weeks of food, depending on how much your child eats.  You might not use all of the peas, so save them to eat with YOUR dinner.  I think it’s a good sign if you are serving your kid something you would eat (unlike some nasty, foul smelling formulas I’ve given Ava!–no shade). I also ate her left over quinoa and threw the extra chicken into my Spanish rice.

This looks a little weird.  Kind of like poo.  But I’ve tasted it, and yet again, it is yummilicious.

Quinoa, Chicken, and Carrot Puree: 

I was pretty proud of this one.  I adapted it from a Turkey, Rice, and Carrot recipe from the Baby Bullet cookbook. I wanted to try a meat with Ava, and chicken seemed like the obvious choice.  I had a ton of quinoa and i took a quick look in my baby book (yes, I still use it occasionally, lol) to see if that was ok: it was ok for babies! This recipe was a little more involved.

Remember to keep everything STERILE.  You do NOT want to cross contaminate raw meat with uncooked veggies.  So prep your meat last and clean up before combining everything. 

  1. Wash 1 carrot. Peel & chop up.  Steam.
  2. Rinse 1 cup of quinoa.  Place in 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and lower flame.  Let simmer for 15 minutes.

  1. Put carrots & quinoa aside.
  2. Grill or boil chicken: whichever is more convenient.  I pan grilled slices of 1 large chicken breast with a little dab of olive oil.
  3. CLEAN EVERYTHING
  4. Combine carrot, 1/2 cup of quinoa, 1/2 cup of chicken, and 1/2 cup of chicken broth in blender.
  5. Blend until desired consistency.

 

This tasted ok, but as an adult, I’m not used to eating meat purees.  Ava, on the other hand, loved it!


I hope you enjoy these recipes and share them with your little ones.  I’d love to hear what recipes you use, so feel free to leave them in the comments below!

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Motivation Monday: Meal planning

Diet and meal planning: UGH.

It can be so hard to plan balanced, healthy meals and then, to COOK them.  Everyone is short on time, regardless of whether or not they are a SAHM (I am busy ALL the time at home).  Here is how I had a successful food week last week without much effort.

But first, some advice for making sure you eat well all week long:

  • Take the time to sit down and plan your week’s meals. The 20 mins you commit to planning will pay off.
  • Meal formula: meat/fish + veggie (+ optional extra side). 🍴
  • Always have a lot of microwaveable veggies in the freezer. In a pinch, you have a healthy side dish ready to go in 5 minutes (make sure there aren’t any unnecessary ingredients).
  • Bags of already made salads provide another source of quick side dishes OR a salad for lunch with left over meat from the night before.
  • Always have brown rice or quinoa at home. Better yet, make a ton and freeze it in ziploc bags (portioned by serving size). Then when you’re ready, you can easily defrost in two minutes. ALSO, you can buy rice in freezer bags (just like the veggies).
  • Do your food shopping on Sunday morning.  For me, that is the best time to shop.  There aren’t many people and I accomplish something before my laziness sets in. 😝
  • Cook 1-2 meals on Sunday that will last you until Wednesday.

Here is a look at my meals from last week: 3 in total

  • Sunday & Monday: We ate baked chicken (about 542 calories*), string beans (30 calories), and sweet potatoes (90 calories)
    • Chicken took about an 1 1/2 hrs.  You can follow the recipe above, but I basically just wash the chicken, squeeze lemon on & in it, butter it, season it, cook it.  Everything else is just decorative and not needed.
    • String beans: 5 minutes in the microwave, Bird’s Eye frozen variety
    • Sweet potatoes: cooked in the microwave for about 10 minutes

  • Thursday/Friday:  We had baked catfish (609 calories–>fatty, but “good” fatty–in an Omega fats, prevent cancer kind of way) with left over quinoa and/or green peas & caponata sauce and/or plantains
    • Now this was the bomb! I really enjoyed this and recommend it.  It took hardly anytime. And quinoa is delicious.
    • For the catfish, skip all the hoopla: coat in olive oil and your favorite seasoning (mine is Paul Prudhomme Seafood Magic) & bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  DONE!

  

  • Saturday: A Kale/Coconut/Apple/Honey Smoothie.  Yum!
    • Grab a bunch of Kale, 1 apple, half a can of Goya coconut water, and honey.  Blend with ice.  Add to or subtract from ratio in order to adjust to your taste

 

  • Snacks: tortilla chips & salsa; brownie with walnuts; yogurt; ice cream
  • Drinks: coffee, water, wine

I exercised by walking, doing yoga, and zumba.  This week, I’m looking forward to another healthy, yummy, and fast meal makin’ week!

Hopes this motivates y’all to plan a great food week as well!!

*all calorie counts are approximations from My Fitness Pal or from the recipe’s website.  I don’t normally count calories, but I wanted to provide them for my readers.

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Yoga Today: Namaste

I love staying fit and healthy.  The cool thing about working on your health & your fitness is that you can do a lot of things to achieve the two.  For example, one crucial part of staying fit is to get active.  And there are a ton of things one can do to “get active.” One of my favs is attending a yoga class.

Yoga can mean so many things during just one class.

Easy to modify

It is an activity that can be modified to meet you where you are.  A good yoga instructor will offer alternate poses to decrease or increase the intensity of each one.

Relaxation

It is an activity that can relax you.  And it’s an activity that can be surprisingly intense, depending on the session.

Strength training

At LA Fitness, my class today was very fast paced and focused on my core: just what I needed to get my day started! We did slow head stands, during which I could feel my stomach burning!

I documented my whole morning (and then some) on Snapchat.  If you don’t have it downloaded, I highly recommend it! Friend me at livingfor2plus At first I was skeptical about using Snapchat, but my students showed me that it is actual a great app. Now I love using it to document my workouts, what I eat, and the cute things that Ava does!  Here is a preview of today’s post, which will only be up for another couple of hours (so hurry up and add me as a friend so you can see more!).

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Fueled and focused

Working out. Not my number one favorite activity in the world. I would much rather be a lazy bum on the couch, eating a mix of chocolate and popcorn while sipping a glass of white wine. But I can’t do that. Why? Because working out is a means to an end. It is how I stay healthy and fit. And if that means sacrificing a few hours a week to ensure a healthy inside and outside, then I’m down! 

Being that I’m not all gung-ho about working out, making sure I’m fueled and focused throughout a routine is super important to me. If I don’t get a good snack in before my workout, my workouts end on a very flat note. 

  

FOOD

I like to snack on granola bars before a workout. Something with a long lasting energy punch. I love Nature Valley Crunchy Oats N’ Honey and Nature Valley Trail Mix Fruit & Nut. My husband on the other hand, uses powdered energy boosters to get him revved up. I’ll be honest, I’ve been a little scared to venture into the “powder” land. But my husband keeps telling me they are awesome and they’ll probably boost my drive for the gym. I came across ETBFit products, which include powders & supplements. It seems like the productline is more naturally dervived & cleaner than others, so I’m thinking about trying them…especially since I’m almost out the door with breastfeeding, and I’m almost always worried about what may affect her. 

After my workouts, I often get a smoothie at my gym. I’m usually famished by the end of any workout routine. 

MUSIC

  
The worst thing you can do is forget your headphones at home…

Music is probably my single most important motivator when it comes to working out, which I’m sure many people can relate to. I have several workout playlists but my most frequented ones are “Spanish Workout,” “Gym,” and “Pop.” Here is a small sample of songs on each list: 

Spanish Workout:

“Vivir Mi Vida”, Marc Anthony

“Ven Báilalo” (Reggaeton Remix), Ángel y Khriz

“Mayor Que Yo”, Baby Ranks, Daddy Yankee, etc 

Gym:

“Don’t Like Remix”, Chief Keef, Kanye, etc

“Clique”, Kanye

“Wild for the Night”, A$AP Rocky 

Pop:

“We Found Love”, Rihanna

“Uptown Funk”, Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars

“7/11”, Beyoncé 

Whatever my mood is the day of my workout determines my musical choice. For high intensity workouts, I almost always select the Gym playlist. It really hypes me up!! I include warm up and cool down tracks, like Ed Sheeran “Thinking Outloud.” 

  
GOALS

Another super important motivator for me is having a clear image of my goals during my workout. Not just short term goals, but the long term “where do I see myself in xx months” type of goals. The goal I held onto during the spring was how I wanted to look when I visited my hometown for the summer: long and lean. I even had a body crush, though I don’t look anything like her magnificent demigoddess body. But the image of longer, leaner muscles, a tighter waistline, and an overall slimming of the body all kept me super motivated during my workouts. 

  
From Instagram account Mistyonpointe

And finally, take lots of pictures of your progress. It’s nice to look at where you started to where you are now. 

  
What do you do to stay “fueled and focused”?

Motivation Monday: Eat Right!

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#truth

My motivation of the week is to make healthy food choices & to eat right.  The goal is not to diet, but to really focus on eating things that are good for me.  For months, maybe years, I’ve been trying to enjoy a healthy eating lifestyle: nothing extreme, just a balancing game so that at the end of the week, I’ve had enough healthy foods to balance my unhealthy favs (#sugarlover #carblover).  I call this flexible dieting. Here is my meal plan for this week (hyperlinks for specific brands that I use):

Main meals: 

1) Chicken caesar salad with olive oil dressing

I just had this for lunch...yum!

I just had this for lunch…yum!

2) Baked chicken, steamed cauliflower, and baked sweet potato

3) Broiled steak, brown rice, and kale

Breakfast: 

1) Oatmeal with walnuts & coconut milk

Snacks: 

1) Homemade lactation cookies (NEW recipe to come!)

2) Mrs. Thinster’s Cookie Thins in Chocolate Chip

3) Apples & grapes

4) Maybe some gluten free brownies if I have the energy later this week, lol

5) Chobani Greek Vanilla Yogurt

Drinks: 

1) Water

2) Coffee

3) Traditional Medicinal’s Lactation tea

4) Kale & apple fresh juice made at home

Here is how I work a meal plan: I set up 3-4 main meals, snacks, and drinks for the week.  Then I just choose all meals from that list. Following this philosophy (along with moderate exercising), I’ve lost 30 pounds twice in my life: first when I started this program to lose extra weight I packed on due to stress, and then a second time when I loss my baby weight.  I still have a handful of pounds to lose, but I’m not overly concerned. 🙂

From late November 2014 to late May 2015.

From late November 2014 to late May 2015. The exact same outfit. And yes, I was wearing maternity leggings in the picture on the right…

#eatright #snapback

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Four Steps to Baby Food

Ava has been a champ when it comes to eating.  She LOVES food.

No doubt about it...Ava isn't missing a meal.

No doubt about it…Ava isn’t missing a meal.

I have been serving 1-2 small servings of puréed food everyday.  I would say each serving is about 4 tablespoons of food.  She often eats 1 serving of cereal (follow this link for Ava’s yummy cereal) or apple sauce (follow this link for how to make apple sauce) in the morning and then 1 serving of a vegetable around lunch time.

Two of her favorite vegetables are sweet peas and sweet potatoes (served separately).  I’ll be starting carrots this week.

Making baby food is pretty easy.  The main thing is keeping everything clean and being cognizant of not mixing foods that Ava hasn’t tried yet with foods that she already eats.  At this early stage in eating, I have to keep an eye on whether or not she might be allergic to something.

Typically, making baby food consists of the following 4 steps:

1) Clean the fruit or vegetable

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2) Boil, steam, or microwave the fruit or vegetable.  I microwave the frozen sweet peas. Otherwise I boil/steam everything else.

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3) Place food in Baby Bullet with some water to get the food to a desired texture.  I typically use the water leftover from boiling, since it is rich with vitamins & minerals from the veggie or fruit that was boiled.

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4) Either freeze or serve.  When freezing, divide food into single servings so that it is easy to serve when defrosting. When defrosting, either stick food in refrigerator or place in warm water, and serve within 12 hours.

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The end result: One really happy baby.  And lots of…diapers…

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No cup goes unfinished!

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I had to buy tons of bibs because Ava can go through six a day, between the food, milk, and drooling!

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“I

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