Bountiful Blueberries

Summer, summer, summer time means it’s time for harvesting fruits and veggies and berries.  Just a week ago, some of my coworkers and I went on a quick hour long road trip to a farm just across Lake Pontchartrain—Blue Harvest Farms, where we were able to pick and eat bucket loads of plump, sweet, juicy, ripe blueberries.

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As a kid, I always thought my grandpa owned his own farm and I knew what it was like to be on a farm, to pick fruits and vegetables, to husk corn and snap peas.  Little as I was, those rows and rows of vegetables in the garden of his front yard hold no comparison to the rows and rows of blueberries at Blue Harvest.

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Upon entering the farm, we were each given a one gallon bucket lined with a plastic bag and also offered a blue strap to clasp around the bucket handle.  What a clever idea?!?  As you can see, I opted for the strap; it was a great help to not have to hold the bucketful of berries and have two hands free for pickin’ and eatin’.  There were also some signs showing a level $10 dollar gallon or a heaping $15 gallon. 

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I picked my $10 gallon but probably munched on the $5 heap as I walked the three designated rows tasting in search of that perfect tree that taste as sweet as honey.  Once I found that tree I went to town loading my bucket then moving on in search of the next.

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Along the way I happened to lose my $20 bill—perhaps pulling my iphone in and out of my pocket taking pictures.  I began thinking to myself, “Now, I’m on a farm.  Surely these are good, honest, hardworking people.”  And lucky for me, they were.  An unidentified lady, who I would’ve loved to thank and hug for that matter, turned my twenty into  Mr. Farmer Man.  I was so grateful. 

After an hour or two of eating, sweating, and picking the girls and I finished filling up our buckets and headed to check out.  I paid my $10.00 in exchange for my 8 pints of very selective, most plump, most sweet, blue berries.

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To reach maximum ripeness, we were informed to spread the berries out on baking sheets and let them sit out 36 to 48 hours.  So I did just that. 

And ever since there has been much blueberry consumption on my part as evidenced in my—-well, let’s just be reminded that what goes in must come out (without being too graphic).

DSC01810 On oatmeal.

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On bread with peanut butter.

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In an oven baked blueberry crisp.

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More oatmeal.

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Mixed in with greek yogurt, granola, and milk.

dessert 

And in dessert–A blueberry cream cheese with pecan crust.  I completely forgot to take the final picture with a cool whip and pecan topping.  Nor did I take a picture on Father’s Day when the family cut into it.  Woopsy.

I still have about 8 or 9 cups of berries left in my freezer.  Don’t worry, they will be consumed. 

And a couple tips that I learned on the farm—

1. If you want to grow your own blueberries, you must plant at least two species of blueberries next to each other so they can cross-pollinate in order to grow.  My husband planted one species in spring which sprouted slightly, but it has yet to produce anything.  So take that as you wish.

2. If freezing the blueberries, do not rinse them until you are ready to use them.  If you rinse prior to freezing they will become a mass of ice and you will not be able to use them.

If you are interested in picking your own blueberries, click here to find a farm near you.  I had a great day doing something I’ve never done before.  Do it if you get the chance, but only if you are not afraid of bugs or sweating.

Less Wordy Wednesday

Started with an everything bagel thin and a fried egg + a bananaDSC00159 DSC00154 DSC00161

Lunch included some leftover spinach and artichoke pasta from Monday night’s dinner and an apple. DSC00164 DSC00166

Dinner from the Cherry Blossom was shared with the husband—eastbank roll, philly roll, and snowcrab roll + lots of edamame!

A Science Lesson (from a Teacher)

The fruit versus the vegetable–how do you know which is which?

It is my understanding that fruit is the protective covering of a seed(s), which contains the ovary(ies) of the plant.  A vegetable, on the other hand, is any other part of a plant not containing seeds such as the stem, leaf, roots, or flower petals/buds.  Accordingly, rhubarb, spinach, potatoes, and broccoli are vegetables; and zucchini and squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, and snap peas are technically fruits. 

Now I know we generally call many fruits a vegetable.  I guess people have their own opinions of what is classified as fruit and what is classified as a vegetable.  Generally, if it most often used in sweet dishes I refer to it as a fruit and more savory, then it’s considered a vegetable. 

Regardless, we need to eat more of both.  According to  USDA guidelines of 2005 (they will be updated this year), Americans should be consuming 5-13 servings or 2 1/2- 6 1/2 cups a day dependent upon individual caloric needs.  There are an abundance of ways to make fruits and vegetables more desirable, yet retain there health benefits without saturating them in creams and buttery sauces.  Roasted vegetables are a delicious addition to any meal.  And fresh fruit with peanut butter or atop some non-fat yogurt can be a satisfying sweet treat.

What are some ways that you “spruce up” your fruits and veggies?

Why Not on Wednesday

Why not wake up on time?  Because I’m tired.

Why not start the day with warm oats on a chilled fall morning?  Because I already had the cold overnight oats soaking in the fridge.

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Oats, plain yogurt, low fat milk, banana, figs, honey, cinnamon

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Why not take the whole thirty minute lunch break to eat and socialize in the lounge?  Because I had copies to run off  and work to be done.

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Whole wheat sammie with chicken, provolone (reduced fat), spinach and honey mustard + cucumber, tomato, light italian dressing + peach

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Why not eat a healthy snack?  Because a coworker brought me a piece of cake from her baby shower and I just couldn’t turn it down; and oh it was good!! Thanks J.H.! 🙂

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Why not work out after work?  Because my sister asked me to come help watch her little ones while she got her hair done.

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Why not eat dinner at a reasonable hour?  Because I stayed at my sister’s house too long and ended up ordering take-out with them…

….after eating some of these with my nephew.

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Why not order a wonton soup and veggie dish?  Because hub would get the leftovers for his dinner and he likes beef and broccoli.

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My portion + some fruit + fortune cookie

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Mango (had a second slice of mango unpictured), honeydew, pineapple, cantaloupe, grapes

Why not go to bed at a reasonable time?  Because I had to do dishes from last night and blog.

Question of the Night:  Why not do something good for yourself tomorrow?  There is no reason not to!  What will you do for you tomorrow?

What a Wonderful World

Wooooo hoooo!  It’s Friday and it’s a three day weekend! 🙂 That definitely puts a smile on my face.

In preparation for this morning’s breakfast, I added overnight oats to the remnants of a peanut butter jar as recommended by Kath:

Who is the Oat Queen

Eating them hot, cold

Plain or bold

As her page declares

She always shares

She eats them with fruit, spice

And whatever sounds nice

She scrapes her jars clean

Oh she is the Oat Queen

I had to pay tribute to Kath for her inclusion of oats in her world of food.  Due to her I am now a fan of oatmeal, never having enjoyed it in my prior 20+ years of life.  Without further ado I introduce you to my breakfast, Overnight Oats in a Jar (OOIAJ).

Overnight Oats in a Jar

They began last night when I took this jar out of the fridge.

As you can see, there is really not much peanut butter left in the jar–maybe a teaspoon.

To the jar I added:

1/4 cup of 0% greek yogurt

1/4 cup of rolled oats

Splash of 1% milk

Drizzle of honey

1/2 banana

1/3 of peach chooped

Dash of cinnamon

I’m seriously fallin’ for these oats; they are so creamy, cold, and fulfilling.

<3ing My Oats

Mango Green Tea + OIAJ

The oats kept me full until lunch time 6 hours later.  That seems to be a long time without food, but I eat breakfast at quarter to 5 which usually holds me over until my lunch break at school, which is at 11:50.  By that time, my stomach is calling out, “Feed me!”  Today’s lunch consisted of leftover Greek Pasta from last night.  Sticking with the Greek theme, I had some hummus and carrots on side.

Plain Hummus + "Good for Your Eyes" Veggies

I’ve worn glasses since I was 2, so my parents have always told me, “Eat your carrots; they’re good for your eyes.”

After work today I arrived home to find some surprises awaiting me.  First, something that is also good for ya’–a sample case of Pom Wonderful Juice arrived today.

I want to extend a warm thank you to Ryan @ Pom Wonderful for contacting me.  I generally prefer consuming my calories from solid foods, not liquids.  But when he offered I graciously accepted.  I did try some of the juice and it definitely captivated my taste buds.  The tart flavor of the juice is much like that of a cranberry juice, which I enjoy drinking when just waking in the morning feeling thirsty.  I appreciate the powerful antioxidants provided by the juice and look forward to trying it with some different recipes.  Perhaps a smoothie, cocktail, or maybe pork loin with a pomegranate reduction.

After sharing a bottle of POM with the hubby, I snacked on some blue corn chips and wholy guacamole.

You may have noticed the past two photos were shot on a windowsill.  That is because when I arrived home I also found my house with completely new windows.  The hub stayed home from work today so our new windows could be installed.  I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful this makes me feel!  Gone are the 70s crank style windows which keep my house so warm during the summer and cold during the winter and welcome energy efficient windows that will hopefully fix that problem and save me a couple of bucks in the meantime.

After playing and learning about the windows, I made some dinner.  Bean Enciladas.

First preheat oven to 350* and spray glass casserole dish with nonstick spray.  I started by sauteing half a chopped onion in a tbsp. of olive oil.  Then I added a can of drained and rinsed pinto beans along with a splash of water, ground cumin, chile powder, oregano, and garlic salt.  Using a potato masher, I mashed the beans.  Next, I added one Queso Chipotle Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedge and one Sargento Reduced Fat Colby Jack Stick.  Using three whole wheat tortillas, I divided the bean mixture equally and folded them before topping with 3 tbsp of salsa and a Babybel Light Cheese Round broken into pieces.

Fold the enchiladas and place them in the baking dish.  Heat in oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, I steamed some corn niblets and made a greek yogurt topping.  In place of sour cream I used 3 tbsp. plain 0% greek yogurt and added cumin, chile powder, and hot sauce to get this delicious concoction.  Who needs Taco Bell when you can make your own that tastes much better?  Actually, my hubby did eat Taco Bell tonight.  I picked his dinner up and I figured I’d eat Mexican as well, but a healthified version.  For about 350 calories I had a delicious, fulfilling protein and carb combo.  After topping with one heaping tbsp. of the yogurt mixture and some corn it was time to devour!

Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm

Cheesy, Beany Goodness

After Dinner Snack Leftover from A.M. B-Fast

*Addition*  Ok, ok.  I was up pretty late and also had a PB + Jelly Sammie, but was too tired to snap a picture.

Questions of the Night:  Do you drink juices or use them in cooking?  Do you have any recipes to share that incorporate Pomegranate juice?

Blast From the Past

Waking up this morning I was so happy because it was Friiiiday!  I was ready for the two day break to catch up on some sleep, since I’ve been averaging between 5 to 6 hours a night.  Although at times when I get more than that I feel more groggy waking up.  Next I headed to the kitchen for some breakfast deciding on an oikos blueberry greek yogurt bowl with a small ripened banana, half of an unripened tough peach because I stuck it in the fridge immediately after purchasing rather than let it sit out, and about half cup of uncooked rolled oats.

All Mixed Up, Don't Know What To Do

Lunch was then thrown together–a deli flat sammie with Hormel nitrate free oven roasted turkey, L.C. Light Swiss Cheese Wedge, side of carrot sticks and strawberries and the other half of my peach from breakfast.

When I got home from work I had a snack craving for some salty junk food.  I had a blast from the past appear in my mind.  Going back to my elementary days, my older sister, Michelle, and I would come home from school and always have a snack or two or three or four before enjoying Mom’s home-cooked meal.  Snacks didn’t spoil my appetite; I was a clean your plate so it doesn’t even need to be washed kind of girl.

One of my favorite snacks (as I always loved anything with cheese and still do) was when we poured approximately half a bag of oh so nacho cheesy, stain your finger orange Doritoes on a large plate and covered them with a massive pile of shredded cheddar cheese to be heated up in the microwave {sometimes topping with sour cream and jalapenos, other times devoured alone}.  So I thought to myself, I can still have my cake cheese and eat it too!  On a small salad plate, I poured a reasonable 15 organic all natural blue corn tortilla chips and topped them with bits of one Sargento Reduced Fat Colby Jack Cheese Stick.  After heating in the microwave until cheese was melted, I added a few jalapenos sporadically atop the chips.  Healthified version–I would say so.  And it gave me all the flavor of the original. 🙂

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While we are on a “blast from the past”  I thought I would share some of my more recent past with you….going back to February 2007, my wedding.

Of course we have to start with the rehearsal dinner.  It was held at what began as a local restaurant serving Mediterranean/”Inspired American Food”,  Zea’s Rotisserie & Grill.  They now have several franchise locations outside of the New Orleans Metropolitan Area including New Mexico and Florida.  The food is rather delicious and includes a variety of flavors from Thai to Greek.  I don’t have photos of the food, but please enjoy viewing me and some of my family from the night.

My Hubby and I

(He doesn’t really wear bow ties!! It was actually from a gag gift from our shower with a matching set of men’s penguin briefs.)

My Beautiful Mother & Me Slurping Down a Mojito

Michelle with Husband, Duke

Michelle, Chris, and Me...Why Does He Look So Uncomfortable? 😉

Blurry Photo of Dad, Sorry

After my 15 minute elliptical, 30 minute weights session, and 10 minute elliptical work out, I conveniently stopped at Zea’s tonight to pick up dinner to go.  My whole point of going was to get a spinach salad with blue cheese, cranberries, pepper jelly vinaigrette, the same one served at the Rehearsal Dinner.  But upon getting home I realized I was given the “Zeasar” Salad instead.  What a bummer!  I did pick up some other things for the hubby and I to share as well–the Mediterranean Hummus with feta, calamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, and roasted garlic (also served at the dinner), and a philly steak panini–thought hubby would enjoy.

The Zeasar Salad

The Mediterranean Hummus

Philly Steak Panini--Hubby grabbed one before I even snapped the photo.

My Plate

After dinner chocolate

Onto Our Wedding Day, February 17, 2007

Mom, Me, Dad

At hotel

Michelle and Me

St. Agnes Catholic Church

Cake Tease

And finally the honeymoon–A Cruise Aboard the Fantasy to Mexico

Sailing Away

In Our Fantasy Suite

Sight-Seeing

So we are not so good at getting pics of us together, but this one is from the first night at dinner–a pic of a pic.

My Night Cup of Chai Tea With a Bit of Nostalgia from Our Honeymoon Cruise to Mexico

That was my first cruise and would love to go back.  I love how it can be just as relaxing or just as adventurous as you wish.  We did enjoy a beach visit at one stop and power snorkeling at another.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos! 🙂

Question:  1. What is your go to snack when you crave junk food?  2. Have you ever been on a cruise and would you go again?