Tejomaya Wellness

A Blog About Well-Being

Month: September 2017

HelloFresh Review: All the Glorious Details and My Final Thoughts

     Hey There Well-Beings,

It’s the end of our week of fabulous food, but I can’t properly wrap up my review unless I give you all the delicious details. To do that, I have to go back to the beginning to a week before I placed my first order. Don’t worry! I won’t meander and if you stick with me, I’ve got a surprise at the end!  Think of it as the dessert at the end of dinner. 

I’ve wanted to try a meal delivery service for a long time but always thought I couldn’t afford it, so when a friend mentioned that she and her husband were enjoying the perks getting a weekly HelloFresh box sent to their doorstep and preparing home cooked meals a few nights a week, I got super excited. I spent a little time on the website and scoped the variety of plans they had. I could choose from meals for 2, meals for 4, family plans, 3 recipes a week or 4, the classic box with meat and fish dishes, and the vegetarian box and jotted down some numbers. That night went home and looked at my weekly spending and not only did I break even on the cost, it solved the age old question of what to prep for dinner and what to eat for lunch. I excitedly ordered the Classic Box for 2 with 4 recipes a week for $79.92. (Shipping was free and I had a coupon code that my friend provided me with that gave me $40 off my first order, bringing it to $39.92, and helped her get $20 off her next box. Pretty rad!) 

After I signed up, I was taken to a page with 8 meals, one of which was what’s called a Premium Meal. This meal costs a little extra per person, but lives up to it’s name with prime cuts of steak, duck, and higher end sides like mushroom truffle risotto, and specialty produce like heirloom tomatoes. For me, it would be a once in a while treat, but the traditional meals I got to choose from were plenty interesting. Once I chose my 4 meals, I chose a delivery date that worked best for me and impatiently waited for my food to arrive! 

When the box showed up on my doorstep, I opened it to find everything packed incredibly carefully, with each meal separated into brown bags. The exception was the bottom of the box, which had all frozen items surrounded by ice packs. All my meats were still frozen and as I peeked into the bags, the ingredients lived up to the name. They were indeed fresh. I loved that the salmon dish I selected had a note on the sticker indicating that it should be prepared first. I’d already planned to make it in that order, but this attention to detail was appreciated. The recipe cards were printed on glossy, full sheets of paper, and are quality enough to compile and save in a personal cookbook, which I plan on doing as soon as I have time to get crafty with some Mod Podge and a three ring binder. 

My boyfriend, who doesn’t impress easily, pointed out that nearly everything I was sent was completely recyclable and nodded in approval. Once my items were in the fridge, we broke down the box, and let the freezer packs melt in the sink. The gel is water soluble, so once it thawed, I was able to pour the solution into the toilet (yep, they recommend this), rinse out the bags, and recycle those, too. Each time I made a meal, the bags joined my weekly pile, as well. I feel no guilt about ordering. They’re looking out for Mother Earth. 

When it came to preparing my meals, the instructions were simple, easy to follow, and had beautiful pictures to help with dressing the plate and making sure prep went smoothly. Even though I was learning new techniques, I never felt like I was doing anything too beyond my abilities. The recipes contain fresh herbs, seasonal produce, and other simple ingredients that aren’t so outlandish that they scare you and all of the flavors went together so well. I sent my mom photos each night of my meals and she may have been flattering me a little, but said they looked restaurant quality. They certainly tasted that way! 

So, I’ll bet you’re wondering…Am I ordering another box? You bet! Here’s why:

  1. I’m eating real, fresh, high quality, home cooked meals each night and not processed, convenience junk that I was never that excited about.
  2. The variety is awesome. Other than leftovers for lunch, I never eat the same thing twice.  
  3. I’m getting cooking lessons each night, and my confidence in the kitchen has soared in just a week’s time.
  4. I no longer have to subject myself to the anxiety of meal planning, scour the internet for healthy recipes, or feel overwhelmed each week at the store trying to put meals together.
  5. I’ve wanted to eat healthier, and this allows me to do that in a way that not only nourishes my body, but nourishes my soul. I feel joy about my food now, and that’s the greatest gift of all. 

Because I’m such a fan of HelloFresh and I know you will be too, I have a deal for you! If you use this link you can get $40 off of your first box. If you use it, I will earn a thank you of $20 off of my next box from HelloFresh for the referral, and you’ll get a coupon code of your own to offer your family and friends. I’ll be eternally grateful and you’ll get a taste of what I’ve been raving about the past few days!  Bon appetit! 

Wishing You Total Well-Being, 

Jennifer

HelloFresh Day Four: Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Kale in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce

     Hey There, Well Beings! 

Today is definitely a sad day. This is my last meal for the week. I’ve been having so much fun with my nightly cooking class! I don’t want it to end. I do get to share one last meal with you, and that’s been pretty great, so set the table, because this was another good one!

I’ve always wondered about shallots. Now I can’t wait to use them in more things. It was definitely oniony, but with a milder flavor. The star ingredient of the night was fresh sage, though. Ohmyfreakinggoodness! The smell was unbelievable. I mean, I’m used to using a bundle of the dry stuff for smudging purposes, but if I didn’t come in at 20 minutes making this meal, it was because I was standing over the sink huffing this glorious herb. If I need to be ashamed, I’m not and I don’t care. Fresh sage. Please find an excuse to use it in something. 

I must confess, I think I under sautéed the kale mixture and I know I over cooked my agnolotti. I was worried. As this was coming together, I wondered if my pasta tooth lead me astray when I selected this dish. The smells didn’t seem like they were meshing very well. I’m so glad I followed through and got to the point where it all went into the pot together. This is where the magic happens. The flavors came together beautifully and as I’m writing this, I’m telling myself that I’d better not sneak to the fridge and leave myself without lunch for tomorrow. Did I mention fresh sage? 4 out of 5 for a slightly longer clean up, but this meal was an unexpected delight and the serving sizes were not skimpy in the slightest. 

Well-Beings, we have one more post together this week. I’m giving the deets on the set up, boxes to choose from, and the menu selection process. I’ll also answer the burning question: Is another box coming next week? 

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

Jennifer

HelloFresh Day Three: Honey Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans

     Hey There, Well-Beings! 

I made my third HelloFresh meal tonight and I’m starting to feel a little bummed out that my box is nearly empty. I came home later than usual, and I was still stoked to get into the kitchen. It’s my new favorite part of the day! You want to hear about the actual food though, so here’s what happened on Day Three. 

I started by peeling my sweet potatoes and cutting them into small pieces. I coated them in a small amount of olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper and put them on my roasting pan for ten minutes while I dressed my green beans the same way. I had never roasted green beans in the oven before, only boiled, and I will make them this way from now on. The end result was crispy and more flavorful than what I was used to. I’m comfy with roasting now and I see a lot of sweet potatoes in my future in the months ahead. 

Admittedly, I was nervous about the rest of this recipe. I’ve heard a lot about how notoriously difficult pork is to cook, and boy was that not the case. I pan seared for about 8 minutes, which sped up the roasting time and sealed in the juices so it didn’t dry out in the oven. Then 12 minutes at 425 degrees, and I had perfect pork tenderloin. I’m still wondering what all the fuss is about. The honey glaze was simple and added some additional moisture to the pork, making it very tender. I might use another herb other than thyme when I make this again, but that’s merely a palate preference. 

As for time, I only had one roasting tray, so I exceeded the 30 minutes by just under another 30. Am I upset? Nope. This meal was worth waiting for. Personally, it was a rough day and this was incredibly satisfying both in the making and in the eating. I’ll price pork tenderloin on my next Costco trip and look forward to experimenting with some new flavors. 4 out of 5. It was a little more labor intensive and required more clean up than the other meals, but it was very good and I will definitely make it again. 

Wishing You Total Well-Being, 

Jennifer

HelloFresh Day Two: Presto Pesto Panko Chicken with Green Salad and Roasted Potatoes

     Hey There, Well-Beings! 

After a success with my first meal, I was really excited to come home and get in the kitchen. Yay! Cooking is really a lot of fun when you no longer believe you’re terrible at it. I’m starting to feel like this experience is going to do more for me than just change the food I eat, and I’m a thousand percent okay with that. Food as therapy. Soul is nourished. I’m rambling. Back to the food! 

I was excited as I opened the bag on this one. I’d never used panko before, but I’ve seen it in a ton of Pinterest recipes and on restaurant menus, and I’ve been wanting to work with it for a while. The ingredients were very high quality. I’ve never seen potatoes so fresh. I think I’ll be a lot pickier with my produce from here on out. 

The prep was really easy, and because I had an oversized baking sheet, instead of using two as the recipe suggested, the clean up was super quick. Especially because I lined it with foil.  In fact, I did most of the clean up while waiting for the potatoes to roast and the chicken to bake. The pesto and panko-mozzarella made my kitchen smell heavenly while I washed dishes and the pup stayed close by, sniffing the air. 

Tasting time: My photos do not do this meal justice. This was soooo good! The chicken was juicy, the pesto panko coating gave it such delicious flavor. The potatoes were tasty and a good side choice and the salad with the simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing was very flavorful. I honestly might be done with traditional salad dressing. I know! What is happening?!?! 

5 out of 5 on this recipe. I am so pleased with this meal. I will definitely make it again. In fact, I’m thinking about skipping the catered lunch my job is generously offering us tomorrow so I can eat the leftovers instead. There’s no way it will be better than what I just made. 

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

Jennifer

HelloFresh Day One: Spiced Dijon Salmon with Arugula Salad and Couscous

     Hey There, Well-Beings! 

Since I took the day off from blogging last Sunday, I thought it might be nice to make up for it with 5 days worth of posts about a new experience I had recently.  I got my first box from HelloFresh last week and thought it might be nice to feature all four of meals, one at a time, so I can give a full and honest review for you and then an overall impression and run down of the nitty gritty at the end of the week. It doesn’t make for linear storytelling, but let’s be honest. What you really want to know was whether or not the food was any good, right? Roast assured, that’s exactly what I plan to do!

 

It was thoughtfully suggested that I cook last night’s meal first by the label on the bag. Since it contained salmon, I thought this was a really cool detail, and one I’d already considered as I was planning my week. As for the food itself, I’d l never had Blue Circle Salmon before, but was very impressed with the quality and the fact that sustainability and non-GMO sourcing were some of the standards they uphold. The recipe called for a cumin based spice rub that was included in the bag and was very tasty. I actually flubbed this a little and didn’t get the rub on before the salmon was already in the pan, but that didn’t mess anything up in the slightest. Adding it right in the pan and giving the top and sides a little pat was all it needed. The recipe suggests a non stick pan if you have one, and I agree. Maybe it was the fact that I was using stainless steel for the first time, but the skin side of the filet adhered to the pan with a quickness because I didn’t oil it as well as I needed to.  It was by no means a loss, though. I just added some additional olive oil to the pan before I flipped the fish over and as you can see from the last photo, it plated up well.

The couscous was nice and fluffy and made a great bed for the salmon. I think you could easily sub in quinoa and make this a gluten free meal, if you have dietary restrictions. The dijon cream drizzle was a nice touch and added a little sweetness to the savory elements of the meal. I used the extra on the salad because I’m still a creamy salad dressing gal at heart, even though the simple olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper dressing made the arugula salad taste pretty dang good on it’s own. The crunchy apple and pecan added good texture, and I’ll likely make this salad again to serve with other things.

Overall, the instructions on this meal were easy to follow, the clean up wasn’t bad at all, the ingredients were simple and indeed fresh.  It did take me a little longer than the recipe suggested, but I consider my culinary skills to land somewhere near beginner and I think a slightly more experienced cook could have easily come in right at 30 minutes. I feel confident that I could and would make this meal again on my own.  Score: 5 out of 5

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow to see how Monday’s meal turned out.

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

Jennifer

A Letter From the Editor: Taking A Day Off

              Hey There, Well-Beings!

All week, the signs have been pointing to today being a purposely designated rest day. On Tuesday, I started fighting a little bug that’s been traveling around the office and while doubling up on my probiotics helped a ton, I didn’t shake the malaise. If you’d offered me the choice between a donut and a nap, I’d have taken the nap every. single. time. I’ve also been feeling the urge to unplug from Facebook for a bit. I’m picking up the phone or tablet more often out of perceived boredom to “check in” and “see how everything is going” and setting it down feeling sad, pissed off, and helpless, and I know I’m not the latter. There’s always something I can do to help. Finally, I had a small flare up with my anxiety this week that I’ve linked back to me not using my creative outlets to release stress. Meditation and aromatherapy help me immensely, but if I’m not also creating, the flow stagnates and it manifests itself as exhaustion and a sort of clogging up of thoughts and feelings. It goes in, but it doesn’t come out.

So a little sleeping in, a little time outside (with the devices tucked away), and a little time spent making art are all on the plate for today. I hope that if you find you need to take the day off, you allow yourself the same love and care. You can’t feed others from an empty bowl.

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

Jennifer

Meditation for Beginners: The 4-7-8 Method

     Hey There, Well-Beings!

Several months back, I wrote about some of the misconceptions that I believe keep people from trying meditation. (You can find that post here.) The good news is that there are a number of very simple and super effective ways to get started with a meditation practice. One of the easiest is a meditation I still use whenever I feel stressed or anxious because of how well it works.

Photo by Chris Ensey on Unsplash

The 4-7-8 Method, at its core, is just an easy breathing exercise. Start by getting in a comfortable position. I find sitting in a supportive chair or lying down on my bed to be the best places, but feel free to stand, or even use this as a walking meditation if you wish. It’s really about what’s going to make you feel supported and relaxed, so don’t stress yourself further by trying to find the perfect place to perform this meditation. Wherever you are is the perfect place.  You begin by simply inhaling deeply through your nose to the count of 4, holding that breath in your lungs for a count of 7, and then completing the cycle by breathing out slowly through your mouth for a count of 8. From there you repeat the process until you feel calm and centered. Sometimes this happens quickly and other times it can take several cycles until you can feel your heart rate slow and your shoulders relax. There isn’t a magic number of cycles, so just focus on the breath and let your body respond. You’ll know when it’s working.

If you want to add something to the practice to make it feel really special and aid in the relaxation process, try adding an essential oil to the mix.  For this, I really love using Balance, dōTERRA’s Grounding Blend . The fresh, woodsy aroma reminds me of being in my favorite place in nature and I think it makes the experience feel sacred and allows me to slow down even further and relish the process. I apply one drop in the palm of my hands, rub them together, and cup my hands over my nose during the inhale part of the breathing cycle. It’s already pre-diluted in a base of fractionated coconut oil, so I like that it’s ready to go, especially when I’m looking at fending off panic. For single oils, I like Frankincense  and Lavender. Both are known for their relaxing properties, and are wonderful multipurpose oils that I get a lot of mileage out of.  If you don’t have time to dilute your oils, don’t worry! You can inhale directly from the bottle, without applying any to the skin and will still get the same benefit.

A final tip for using this powerful practice; should you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, give it a go instead of counting sheep. The repetitive nature of the exercise doesn’t just help you come back to yourself during high stress and panic episodes, but is fantastic for quieting the chatter that keeps our minds from winding down before sleep. All this from breathing.  Not bad for something you were going to do already!

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

Jennifer

Essential Oil Spotlight: Peppermint

     Hey there, Well-Beings! If you asked me for a list of what I thought every brand new essential oil user should start out with, peppermint would be non-negotiable. I use it every single day, and I get a little twitchy when I don’t have a back up waiting in the wings. Straight from the bottle it’s aroma is impossible to mistake, but it plays so well with others that it’s likely hiding in many your favorite blends. Even if you’ve been using oils for as long as I have, you might be surprised by all that it can do.

First, a little botany. Peppermint oil, or Mentha Piperita, is the steam distilled, perennial hybrid of spearmint and water mint. The herb is cultivated on continents with a lot of rainfall, such as Asia, Europe, and North America. It stands around 20-40 inches tall, has a sturdy, square shaped stem, green leaves, and occasionally is seen sporting pale pink or purple blooms. The Pacific Northwest is the top producer of peppermint in the U.S., with the majority of that yield coming from Washington state. The scent is fresh and herbaceous and is used in everything cosmetic preparations to cooking.

The most common use for peppermint oil is oral health products. It’s found in toothpaste, mouthwash, and breath fresheners on shelves in every grocery store in the country. I like to use it to compliment my morning oil pulling routine by adding a drop of peppermint to my coconut oil to improve the taste and kill morning breath. The refreshing flavor really wakes me up when I’d otherwise be sleepily shuffling through the apartment. I also use peppermint oil after a cup of coffee or a pungent meal to keep my mouth fresh. I simply unscrew the lid, press my thumb against the top of the bottle, and then press my thumb against the roof of my mouth and voila! No more fear that I’m offending my coworkers after that onion bagel. Speaking of work, I’ve also been using it to reign in the afternoon slump I sometimes feel when I return from lunch and that little tingle helps me refocus and stay clear headed instead of daydreaming about naps. I apply pre-diluted peppermint oil on my temples and the back of my neck, inhale deeply from the bottle, and I’m ready to answer emails and check projects off my list again.

Peppermint is also a valuable tool for pain management. Because of its main chemical constituent, menthol, peppermint provides a cooling sensation which can be helpful for many types of discomfort. Diluted in a carrier oil and added to a roller bottle, it can be applied to sunburns for soothing relief, can relax sore joints and muscles, and has helped me a time or two with stomach upset, as well. I keep a simple blend of peppermint and lavender in a base of fractionated coconut oil in my purse for head tension and relief from monthly menstrual discomfort, and it’s kept me from tapping out and heading home enough times that I never go anywhere without it.

Perhaps my favorite use for peppermint oil has been to cool off during the summer heat and as relief from hormonal hot flashes. I keep a glass bottle with distilled water, a touch of fractionated coconut oil to coat the sprayer stem, and 10 drops of peppermint oil in my fridge to spray down my face and chest when the heat is on and almost instantly, I’m back to my old self. I get double the use out of this spray by using it as a natural insect repellent for my indoor and outdoor plants and any areas where bugs might get in, I haven’t had a pest problem in over a decade, and it smells so much better than any of the store bought bug sprays I used to use. My finally tip is for cleaning. I add peppermint oil to a vodka and water base and wipe down my sliding glass doors, mirrors, stovetop, and sinks and not only does it fight the smoke smell that sometimes wafts over from neighboring apartments, but it also leaves everything spotless and shiny clean.

Versatile and refreshing, peppermint oil is one my home and handbag aren’t complete without. If you haven’t used it, now is a great time to add it to your arsenal! DoTERRA is giving away a pre-diluted Peppermint Touch roll-on for free through the 15th of September to wholesale members with a qualifying purchase. (Mine is on its way to me right now!) If you want to claim one for yourself, or find out more about how essential oils can uplevel your life, leave a comment below and I’ll give you all the details. Nothing would make me happier than to see you put this beautiful oil to work in your daily life!

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

Jennifer

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