HelloFresh Food Delivery Review and Discount

This post contains an affiliate link for subscription food box HelloFresh. It’s your choice to use the link and new subscribers will get $40 off the first box.

HelloFresh box | Kale And AleSubscription boxes have been the rage for a while—I wrote about snack and beauty subscription boxes a few years ago—so I decided to give HelloFresh a try. I know there are other options, but I picked HelloFresh because I received a coupon and my coworker spoke highly of the service.

Have you used subscription meal boxes? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below for my readers.

HelloFresh Food Delivery

I picked what day I wanted to receive one week of vegetarian food at my door, which is three meals at two large portions each. You are able to see meals for the week a few weeks out, which makes it helpful for meal planning and deciding if you want the food that week. Options include a classic (with meat), vegetarian or family (serves four) box. Each recipe states a difficulty level and time to prepare.

HelloFresh boxes | Kale And AleThe food arrived sealed in silver bubble wrap (to keep out sun, perhaps?) And ice packs. Each meal was neatly organized in separate boxes, which was a relief since many meals had the same ingredient, and I’m used to food from my CSA being dumped together in one box.

HelloFresh Meals

HelloFresh assumes you have basic ingredients on hand (salt, pepper and oil, for example). I found meals contained similar ingredients that I commonly have around home, but the fact it was organized with pictures and instructions made the process go quicker, and I really loved that I didn’t need to think about and shop for these meals, something I miss about my CSA.

Jamie's Sicilian Spaghetti Alla Norma HelloFresh | Kale and Ale

Jamie’s Sicilian Spaghetti Alla Norma from HelloFresh

I probably ended up liking the most the meal I thought I would like the least, the eggplant pasta. The eggplant was some of the best I’ve prepared at home, and flavors tasted like they simmered for hours even though it was about 40 minutes. It tasted like something I would expect at a restaurant that I wouldn’t think I could replicate at home, so that was exciting. And we made this meal five days after receiving the food and everything (basil and eggplant included) stayed fresh.

HelloFresh prep | Kale and Ale

Preparing the shepard’s pie.

All three meals had very different variety and flavor. As I  mentioned, portions were large, there were leftovers for every meal even after having a healthy serving. The meals I received were:

Try HelloFresh-$40 Off

If you are a new user and want to try HelloFresh yourself, go to HelloFresh.com and enter code SHXPYF for $40 off your first shipment!

If you try or have tried HelloFresh or another subscription box, I would love to hear your thoughts and experience.

2015 In Review: Fitness

2015 year in review: Fitness | Kale and Ale

This is the second in a series featuring highlights from 2015. Today I take a look at activities and trips I’ve enjoyed this year. Monday we discussed food and Friday looks at drinks I’ve had and made this year. Share your highlights of each topic in the comments below!

Biking

This spring I bought a used bike when my old bike (and I mean old–its the only bike I’ve had since middle school) was damaged beyond repair. This hybrid bike serves my needs and then some, taking me on nice summer bike rides and getting me to and from beer events nearby. I love living near bike paths and having another alternative to a car.

Hiking

This year I took up hiking, in preparation for my summer trip to the Grand Canyon and Zion national parks! I have wanted to visit Zion for a while and go somewhere new, so when Aaron and I were looking for a trip we could fly direct from the Twin Cities and do something different, we decided to go to Vegas and visit the parks, making a big loop.

But first, we had to break in our hiking shoes, so this summer we went to state parks around the Twin Cities, hiking in the morning and stopping at a brewery or winery after. I hope to do more of this in the spring/summer of 2016, as it’s a great day trip and way to explore Minnesota. See write-ups of various day trips.

Back to Zion and Grand Canyon: the trip was amazing. There are no words, so I’ll leave a slideshow right here.

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Running

I only ran one race this year-something I need to change in 2016. The race was fun and unique: a trail run using nature as its obstacle course. It coincided with Oktoberfest, so at the end runners were rewarded with, as you can guess, a beer! Read more about my adventure running the Timber Trek.

Timber Trek end | KaleAndAle.com

A muddy, wet and hay filled mess. It was fun.

As I said, I hope to partake in more races next year. I don’t have the group who runs events here like I do in South Florida, but I want to push myself at a fun event. I think I’m going to run a Spartan Race [note: affiliate link] in 2016, specifically probably the short event in Minnesota next June. Who’s with me!?!? Seriously! To prep, I plan to do some weight training this winter.

If you want to run with me in June or another race in 2016, Spartan Race is giving away a free event to one reader of Kale and Ale! And even if you don’t win the giveaway below, there are deals going on now.

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Giveaway: Now closed

Spartan Race is giving one reader of Kale and Ale entry to a 2016 Spartan Race in the continental U.S., valued between $75 and $225, depending on the style and length of the race. The giveaway is good for open heats only, which is a non-confirmed start time.

You must be 18 or older to enter. The contest starts at midnight Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, and runs until the end of Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, Central U.S. time. Winner will be picked at random via Rafflecopter. Learn more about Spartan Races [affiliate link] including styles, location and what to expect.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mediterranean egg bake

Mediterranean egg bake KaleAndAle.comI’m one week in to a somewhat “normal working person” schedule for the first time in my life. No more nights (mostly). No more weekends. No more holidays.

This is great for my social life and probably my internal clock in the long run (though there is some question about that short-term). But I am figuring out how to adjust to the new time and having a lot of the rest of my day be after work, as opposed to having all day to myself before work like before. One of the biggest adjustments is actually my eating habits.

I’m not a huge breakfast fan and am not very hungry before work. I’ve been having a smoothie or peanut butter and banana sandwich before work or early in my shift. But what if I want something more, or want to heat up something with protein following my after-work run? When I came into fresh rosemary, I decided to make a Mediterranean egg bake that would satisfy any time of day.

This bake is a good amount of savory and filling vegetables with just enough egg to hold it together. This would be a great hearty breakfast or light dinner. It was simple to make, about 20 minutes of hands-on time and 30-40 minutes of baking, the perfect after work dinner.

Mediterranean egg bake

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 8 ounces of mushrooms, slices
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh sprig rosemary or 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, potato, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sautee for 6 to 8 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked and the potatoes appear more softened and slightly translucent.
  3. Mix everything except the eggs and milk in a large bowl to combine.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the eggs and milk until combined. Pour it into the large bowl and combine.
  5. Put the mixture into a greased 8 by 8 baking dish.
  6. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the eggs have set.

What is your meal plan when life gets hectic after work? I would love to hear your suggestions as I transition my schedule.

Blueberry chia seed pudding

I’m not a huge breakfast person. I am not into sweets, I don’t feel like carbs when I wake up. I just want to slowly wake up with a cup of coffee until I’m ready to eat a real meal. The only acceptation to this is that I actually really love going out to eat for breakfast. A nice egg and potato meal is amazing with endless cups of coffee.

Blueberry chia seed pudding

Blueberry chia seed pudding

But I know not eating breakfast is not reality. Especially when I run and work out in the morning. Water and food is key before and after a hard workout. Before working out I usually stick to a banana with peanut butter followed by a smoothie after the workout or maybe an egg with sautéed veggies if I need something more. But they days I don’t work out? Coffee. I know I need to change that. I was eating cereal with fruit when I was in Iowa, and that was working out well. I stopped in the cereal aisle after my trip, but didn’t buy anything. I know I should.

Already a fan of chia and it’s power to keep me full, I finally plunged into making chia seed pudding. Chia is heave on protein and fiber, making it a great food already. And because they seeds expand with liquid and take on the flavor of liquids, they are already a part of my diet in smoothies and yogurt. And I’m a fan of the banana-yogurt parfait that uses chia gel. So I tried this pudding with blueberries, but any berry would work. I just have a monster tub of blueberries from Costco. This is a super easy recipe that requires 5 minutes of prep work before going to bed and then the food is ready when you wake up.

Blueberry chia seed pudding

Makes one healthy serving

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons chia
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup berries of your choice, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon liquid sweetener (I used agave but maple syrup or honey would work)

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients well in a bowl. Cover the bowl and let sit overnight.
  2. In the morning, stir and top with any desired toppings (I used fresh blueberries and hemp seeds).

Are you a breakfast loyalist? What is your go-to meal to start the day?

 

CSA basics: Taking care of the food

This is the third post in a three-part series. Learn what a CSA is and finding the right farm.

So you subscribed to a CSA and received your food? Congrats and welcome! Now comes the most difficult and most fun part: Figuring out what to do with all this awesome food. It may seem like a lot but with a system and about an hour it will be a breeze. When the hour is up you will have washed and pre-prepped food ready to snack on and grab for meals.

How to prepare:

I wash my veggies the day I get them, giving myself about an hour. This may seem like a time commitment, but it is worth it, and once everything is washed, you will be much more inclined to use it through the week.

Supplies to clean my produce

Supplies to clean my produce

I grab the necessary supplies to clean my vegetables: I clean my sink and grab my drying rack, salad spinner, colander, vegetable brush, paper towels or clean towel, lemon juice and baking soda. If you don’t have a salad spinner expect to use more paper towels to dry off greens. A vegetable brush is a few dollars and if you are in a CSA it’s worth it. It works well and you will find your vegetables, picked fresh from the ground, will have dirt or sand on them.

First I usually clean tomatoes, squashes, root vegetables, things like that (everything but greens, saving them for last). I fill the sink or a really big bowl with water, baking soda and lemon juice (when you add the lemon juice it will foam up with the baking soda). Alternately you could make your own produce wash in a spray bottle. I then put all the squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, melon type food into the sink, kind of shake it around and let it set for a few minutes. Then I take it all and run the produce one-by-one under water while scrubbing off any dirt, put it on my drying rack or (especially if you have smaller items) colander and let it air dry.

Next I tackle the greens. Drain the water from the other vegetables, and refill the sink or bowl. Take off them stems if you won’t use them and take out any bad leaves. Put the lemon juice and baking soda into the water. Drop the greens into the water, leaving a lot of room for the greens to float around and really have room to shake loose the dirt and sand. This part is very important. Put your hands in the water and grab, move and shift the greens so they get loose of any particles you don’t want. Let them sit in the water a bit. Next take a few handfuls into the colander and rinse and drain the greens. Then put them in your salad spinner and spin. If you don’t have a salad spinner let the greens sit a few minutes more in the colander and dry them with towels. The point is to get them dry as moisture will make the greens go bad sooner. Put them in a container with a tight lid or a bag with a closure.

While the greens are drying, I will often cut vegetables I want cut for easy snacking or to grab for food prep. Any vegetables with roots get cut so they are ready to eat (and the roots and stems will continue to suck moisture out of the vegetable), things like that. The more you can do upfront to prepare a food (without increasing how soon it will go bad) is great and means you will more likely use the food. This all may seem daunting at first but trust me, it gets easier once you have done it a few times.

How to maximize food use:

  • Based on the food you received, plan meals around this. This is why it is nice if you have a little advanced notice on what will be part of your share that deliver.
  • Use the foods in order of how long they will last.
  • By having the food washed and prepped, you are probably more likely to use it already. And if something can be snacked on or eaten raw, it’s good to go.
  • Think of unusual places to use traditional foods, or ways to add something you have on hand to food it might not normally be a part of. Think: Boosting smoothies or adding pureed vegetables to marinara sauce or soups.
  • Many foods you might not eat can be used. Some of my favorites are sauteing beet greens or roasted seeds from winter squash to eat alone or toss on salads.
  • Anything left over or going bad that isn’t too bitter can be tossed in for a homemade stock. And my favorite way to maximize it is freeze the stock in ice cube trays (1/8 cup each) for easy future use. You can make pesto with any green and freeze it the same way.
  • Preserve foods by freezing or pickling (even short-term pickling like this easy, delicious cucumber relish)
A typical CSA share for me

A typical CSA share for me

Typical meals to use a lot of CSA food:

Have you been a part of a CSA? What did you think of it?