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Eating Healthy in the Midst of a Full Life


One of my favorite photos is of our kids in 2003 when we first moved to our Stanwood farm – crowbar in hand and ready for the remodel!

IMG_9778Klesick Family

Well, I guess you could say that a lot has changed in the past 12 years. Life is full, and so is our front porch!  More importantly, our hearts are full! We feel incredibly blessed. But, I have to admit that when juggling so much love, sometimes the simple day-to-day tasks can become overwhelming. One of the things that continue to be important to us is providing nourishing food for our growing family. Without determination and a plan, this can feel impossible. I have put together a list of a few things that we’ve done that have stood the test of time and helped us pursue healthy eating.

First of all, make sure “good” food enters the kitchen. Receiving a Box of Good is a practical and convenient first step. Besides produce, we also carry a wide array of healthy staples. Remember that when our foundation is good, we have something great to build on.

At the beginning of the week, or when you receive your produce, take a look and see what items are most perishable and should be used first and then plan your meals accordingly. Take 5 minutes each night and think about the next day’s meal. One of the biggest hindrances to eating healthy is running out of time at the end of a busy day. I like to think of creative ways to make my healthy food “fast food.” When you receive your Box of Good, plan to take 20-30 minutes to prepare your produce items for the week. This will reduce meal time stress and greatly decrease the prep time when it comes to actually making meals. This alone will help you and your family eat healthier.

*Take your lettuce and any greens that you have and wash them right away. Put the leaves in a salad spinner or dry thoroughly, and then store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

*Take your vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, celery and carrots, and wash them. Then, with a quality kitchen knife, chop them into bite-sized pieces and store in the refrigerator. They are ready to be snacked on with a good dip or thrown in a stir fry. What could be easier? This is fast food at its finest.

*Use your prepared veggies to make a quick sandwich, pita, or wrap. You can skip the bread and use the cleaned lettuce as a wrap itself.

*Experiment with homemade soups. When you order your grass-fed beef from us, make sure you request beef bones. Make a super nutritious broth! Add veggies to the broth that you may not otherwise use, and get all their health benefits. Then make your soups or stews ahead of time and they’ll be ready to eat on a hectic evening when you don’t have time to cook. Better yet, make extra and freeze.

*Find ways to sneak in veggies by grating zucchini or carrots and putting it in your tuna or egg sandwiches. Add bits of veggies to fried rice, pastas, meatloaf, or burgers. Keep trying new things. Don’t give up on picky eaters. Usually over time, taste buds change.

*When serving salad, serve it first, separately and then you know everyone has eaten their veggies. Experiment with homemade healthy dressings and find one that the kids like.

*Offer a choice for snacks, but keep them both healthy. Kids love choices.

*Know which fruit stores best in the refrigerator and which store best on the counter. Display counter fruit in a pretty bowl on the table and it’s sure to be one of the first things your kids ask for.

*If your bananas get over-ripe peel them and chop them into 1-inch rounds and freeze them. Use the frozen bananas for your smoothies or banana bread.

*Use fruit with yogurt to make smoothies. Buy or make cereals with less sugar and use your apples, pears, and bananas to sweeten your cereal. Chop up fruit and use as a topping over pancakes, and use less syrup. Add sliced bananas to your toast. Use fruit as a dessert or use it to make your desserts more nutritious.

Eating healthy in the midst of a busy schedule is obtainable and can be rewarding. Set your mind to it, make a plan and be creative.


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Our Magnificent Starry Heavens

The other night our family dog, Bandit, was barking to beat the band. This is a new phenomenon. Usually things are pretty quiet on the farm, but something is triggering his need to bark. Maybe coyotes, as they do tend to howl—a lot—when the train is going by. Sometimes you would think they are right off the back porch. Naturally, Bandit started barking just as I was getting into that all important deep sleep.

The moment he begins barking I usually lie in bed, asking the Lord to quiet him down. The answer always seems to be “no.” Then I ask, “How come I am the only one in the house that hears him barking?” Of course this is a rhetorical question. Everyone else in the house knows that Dad is the one who gets up to make sure things are okay and to quiet the dogs. This is so ingrained into their psyche that, if for some unimaginable reason, I chose to not get up, they wouldn’t even know that Bandit had been barking all night!

I do like to sleep, but I also like to make sure that my neighbors can sleep too. Which is another reason I get up when the dog is barking. Do you know how cold it is outside at 2 a.m.? Cold. So I put on some sweats and a sweat shirt, grab a flash light, and head out towards the barking. I found Bandit out by the greenhouses, barking away. After calling him over and we walked back to the house. Even though he was 100 yards from the house, he technically was still in our yard – at least in his mind! I would consider that to be more of the farm and not the yard!

One benefit of getting up to quiet the dog, even though it is freezing outside, is the quietness of the moment (after Bandit quits barking). In that stillness, I look up and the sky is full of stars. I see the Big Dipper shining bright, bold, and magnificent. As much as I would love to still be asleep, in that moment I stand there mesmerized by the night sky—its beauty, its depth, its brilliance. I soak it all in and say, “Thank you Lord for letting me see the stars tonight.”

I head back in, but since I am awake I thank the Lord again for providing me with some great material for this newsletter, which I finished at 3:23 a.m. Good night.


Farmer Tristan

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Good Choices

A recent study by Harvard Business School and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business determined that shoppers who brought their own reusable bags to the grocery store tended to buy more “organic” or “green” type products, but then tended to fill those bags with items from the middle section of the grocery store (i.e., high fat, high sugar and packaged). They were able to track these trends because the shoppers with reusable bags received $0.03 bag credit on their receipts. Ironically enough, the environmental good accomplished by using a reusable bag was offset by the items they were purchasing. And to compound the issue, the health benefits were more perceived than experienced because of what they were purchasing.

Another study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School recently followed shoppers through the grocery store. The study was designed to discover what shoppers were buying and how they flowed through the store. When the researchers were digesting the data, they discovered an interesting trend: customers who placed kale in their carts immediately followed that selection with ice cream.

I believe I understand what was going on in these studies:  the shoppers “felt” better about their purchases because they were using a reusable bag and putting better “packaged” food in them. Granted, those “organic” or “green” packaged products are better than their nonorganic counterparts, but they are still not ideal for healthy living. This study is more intriguing because these consumers were purchasing fruits and vegetables and then treats. In both cases, the real desire to eat better, live better or do right by the environment was a driving factor, and since a good choice was made, a little latitude was granted to make a less healthy choice.

Many of us go through similar choices every morning. We wake up and stand on the all-knowing “barometer of life”—the bathroom scale—and at that moment we decide, “Uh oh, better eat better today L ” or “Yay! I am down a couple pounds, I have room for another latte, donut, ice cream bar, etc. J”

I think it is human nature to offset a good choice with a less than good choice. And while many of you, like me, had the luxury to eat like that in our younger years, I would contend that that window of luxury has passed. Today I need to make a more determined effort to stay healthy. The nice thing is that eating better leads to feeling better. Now all that needs to happen is to say “yes” to more fruits and vegetables and position myself to be successful. This is what you have done because you have a box of good food delivered to your home!



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Enjoying the Simple Pleasure of Cooking

It’s a new year and once again many of us find ourselves with renewed goals for 2016. Many opt for the traditional resolutions of losing weight or exercising more after overindulging during the holidays. This year I have decided to take it a step further and apply a minimalist approach to my eating and lifestyle habits.

I recently read an article that alluded to the fact the minimalists like to say that they’re living more meaningfully and more deliberately, and that getting rid of most material possessions in their lives allows them to focus on what’s important: family, friends, hobbies, travel, experiences, etc. This article got me thinking on how it would apply to our everyday lives, cooking and eating.

We live in a society of the “eternal holiday.” After the New Year sale, there’s Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day… and shortly after we are back to Thanksgiving and Christmas again. For each holiday, stores have specials and themed products designed for us to over-shop and then we hold onto these things because we think they’re going to be useful in some hypothetical future that does not actually exist. Naturally, we end up with more than we need.

My curiosity led me to different blogs and articles, but one in particular grabbed my attention. Joshua Becker, from Becoming Minimalist, wrote A Simple Guide to Enjoy Cooking. “Enjoy” being the key word:

1. Clear your kitchen counters. A clean, uncluttered kitchen counter is refreshing. It communicates calm and order. It saves time and promotes cleanliness.
2. Cook healthy foods. There is a pleasant satisfaction that comes from preparing healthy food for you and your family. Its importance in the process cannot be overstated. It provides valuable motivation and incentive for cooking your own meals. And the positive benefits of cooking a healthy meal stretch far beyond the dinner table.
3. Use fresh ingredients. Replace dried spices with fresh ingredients (onion, garlic, parsley, basil, limes, lemons), the flavor of meals improve dramatically.
4. Own a sharp knife. Learn how to use it. It does not have to be expensive. And once you learn how to use it properly, preparing meals becomes significantly easier and more enjoyable.
5. Start with foods/recipes you enjoy. Begin by preparing meals you look forward to eating. And incorporate the same philosophy into cooking all new dishes at home.
6. Be confident. You can do this. Step up to the cutting board, the oven, or the stovetop with full confidence in your abilities. An anxious spirit does not enjoy creating. And unfortunately, an anxious spirit rarely succeeds. To enjoy cooking, you’ll need to convince yourself that you are able to do it. Eventually, a delicious meal and corresponding smile from your table guests will do the trick. But even before they do, believe in yourself. You will still make mistakes, but that’s okay. Just remember, the biggest mistake you can make is not believing in yourself.
7. Value presentation. There is an old saying among chefs that goes like this, “We eat with our eyes first.” Research and experience validates their claims. Food that looks good is more likely to taste good. Take some extra time to serve your food in a visually appealing presentation—even if you are eating alone. You’ll always enjoy it more.
8. Appreciate the eating. Be mindful of the cleaning. If you have a family, create the space and culture in your home that values eating together. For many families, this is not possible at every meal, but that does not mean space can’t still be created for some family meals together. You may need to establish some margin or get creative, but the more time spent together around the dinner table, the better. Appreciate the importance of sitting down long enough to enjoy your food. And likewise, learn to appreciate the act of cleaning up afterwards. It does not have to be seen as a chore if approached with the right mindset.
9. Record your favorite recipes. I store a small, index card box in our pantry. Inside, I keep all the successful recipes I have discovered over the years. And it has been an important step in increasing my enjoyment of cooking because the true value of the black box is that I have a wide selection of family-favorite recipes right at my fingertips.

Happy Cooking 2016!

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador