Hi everyone, it’s Alicia here, filling in while Katie is on maternity leave. I want to highlight our amazing bone in chicken for you. Our butcher Jesse cuts it fresh right off a whole chicken just for you. We have wings, thighs, breasts, and drumsticks, all mouthwatering, lean, and juicy. There are so many things you can cook with them; your family will never be bored with dinner again!
There are so many foods I love to make using our John Henry’s bone in chicken. Chicken soup, chicken & dumplings, fried chicken, BBQ chicken on the grill….Mmm! I like to keep a little of everything in my freezer, so that when the mood strikes I can whip up any of my favorites. My personal favorite is chicken and dumplings using my husband’s grandmother’s recipe. I use bone in thighs or drumsticks, boil them down to make the broth, and the meat falls right off the bone. My husband loves barbeque, so grilling out and using some of his sister’s special recipe BBQ sauce is a must for a summer party. And of course we can’t forget wings. My husband loves wings, and with all of the Wildtree recipes I can try something new every time.
Working here at John Henry’s has really opened my eyes to the differences between store bought meats and our pasture raised, grass fed meats. I don’t know about you, but I definitely like not having to worry about what is in the meat I am eating. I know that our chickens are only fed corn, alfalfa, peas, and bugs and that their feed is completely organic and GMO free. I do not have to worry that there will be any antibiotics, arsenic, or other drug residues. (I just can’t believe that those things are in the grocery store chicken I was eating before!) The most important thing to me though, is knowing our animals are raised humanely and are able to enjoy being outside in the pasture and that they are not subjected to the terrible abuse of factory farming.
Protein is such a vital part of life. Proteins are long chains of amino acids, which can be found in many different foods. The highest sources of proteins come from animals, like meat, dairy, eggs and fish, but some vegetables, beans and seeds also have certain amounts of protein. There are 20 different amino acids that can create a protein, 9 of which are considered essential, meaning our bodies can’t make them. Because our bodies can’t create essential amino acids, we must eat them. Meat and eggs are considered a “complete protein” because they contain all 9 of the essential amino acids in roughly equal parts. This is super important to consider when you are considering meatless meals or a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. According to Dr. Axe, if you aren’t eating enough complete proteins you could be experiencing some of these symptoms:
· A sluggish metabolism
· Trouble losing weight
· Trouble building muscle mass
· Low energy levels and fatigue
· Poor concentration and trouble learning
· Moodiness and mood swings
· Muscle, bone and joint pain
· Blood sugar changes that can lead to diabetes
· Slow wound healing
· Low immunity
It is recommended that we consume at least half of our body weight in protein a day. So if you weigh 200 lb. you would need to have at least 100 grams of protein a day. I bet that seems like a lot to most people! Those eating the standard American diet, filled with all sorts of grains, are fueling their bodies on carbohydrates, and can easily miss out on getting enough complete proteins every day. If you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle it is extremely important to consume enough good proteins or your body will not be able to perform at its optimum level. Nowadays, it's easy to track your protein intake by tracking your meals through an app on your phone. My personal favorites are My Fitness Pal and Lose It. I love tracking my meals to monitor my protein, fat and carbohydrate intake. I like to make sure that I am consuming enough protein and healthy fats to keep myself feeling the best.
Some of my favorite cuts of meat that are high in protein are:
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast - I especially love it when it has gone through the tenderizer (we call it cubed chicken).
Pork Tenderloin - This is great on the grill or in the oven. It’s always so tender.
Ground Turkey - Ours is made right and without any skin or fillers.
Beef Roasts - This is a staple at our house, an easy crock pot meal with potatoes and carrots.
It’s very important to get your protein from meat and plant sources. When looking to select some great meat sources, it is important to choose local grass fed and free range meats. John Henry’s offers meats that are free from hormones, antibiotics, steroids and other chemicals that can destroy your health.
It may surprise you to find out that the United States imports beef. What may be even more surprising is that from Jan - July of 2015 over 2 billion pounds came into the U.S. according to Cattle Network. That is a LOT of beef, around 33% of the beef sold in the grocery store. That information reinforces how proud I have always been, to know that we offer our customers something different. Local meats from local farms, raised right here in the thumb of Michigan, nothing imported from other countries. Supporting a local “Farm” may have not been a priority to you in the past; but consider where that hamburger you are grilling is coming from. According to many sources the imported cattle are lower quality, destined for processing as ground beef. That fresh ground beef or frozen patties you purchase in bulk at the grocery store may be made with meat from Mexico, Chili or several other countries. It kind of makes you wonder, how exactly was it raised? Do they have the same inspections as the U.S. does? How did it get here? So many questions!
Do you ever wonder how the spread of E-Coli can affect thousands of pounds of meat at one time? Vast recalls seem to span cities and states for no apparent reason. One reason is because beef from hundreds, if not, thousands, of animals are placed in giant vats in huge processing plants and all ground together. One sick or contaminated animal can cause issues with the whole batch that is being ground together. What this really comes down to is that in every pound of ground beef at the grocery store you could have pieces from hundreds of cows. So imagine that, not only is there a good chance that your store bought beef is from hundreds of cows, but ⅓ has been imported. We pride ourselves on being able to offer our customers something different. Our grinder only holds 50 lbs. and we only grind 1 beef at a time. Once we grind a batch we immediately package it so that it is ready to be shipped or frozen for the farmers market.
We offer 3 different kinds of ground meat, each ground from our amazing grass fed beef. Ground chuck is made from the chuck which is a nicely marbled portion. We grind it using about 19% fat. This gives just the right amount for a juicy burger packed with flavor from the healthy fats, but not enough to have your meat swimming in fat when it is cooked. When I was out of town visiting friends, I couldn’t believe they actually had to drain fat out of their pan of ground beef. You don’t have to worry about anything like that when you try our ground chuck.
Our most popular is our ground round, which is a blend using 15% fat. We grind this using the beef round which is slightly marbled but leaner than the chuck. Most round steaks come from the round and even though it doesn't make a great grilling steak, it does make a great burger. Lastly, ground sirloin is our leanest option where we use only about 10% fat or less! This grind is made from the sirloin, the part that the very lean sirloin tip roasts are cut from. There is the least amount of fat in the grind and it is a great choice for those who want the leanest available. If you make hamburgers to grill out of this cut of meat, they will be delicious but may turn out dry if overcooked. No matter which ground beef you select from us, you can be confident that you are making a healthy choice by supporting a local farm.
Meal Planning – Tip 1 ~ Freezer Meals
I love anything and everything that makes dinner time easy. With three little loves and another one on the way, I just do not have hours to spend in the kitchen. But making healthy real food from scratch is a huge priority to me. I would cringe every time my husband would call me to ask “What’s for dinner?”, often times I was silently asking myself the same question. Since he doesn’t cook, I knew I couldn’t count on him to quickly whip something up for our family to eat. Granted, he can make some good scrambled eggs now, and I will even eat them since he has had years of practice. Alas, it is my job to make dinner and his job to clean up the mess. Finally, I was in search of ways to make dinner interesting and less of a challenge.
I was first introduced to freezer meals through the way of batch cooking. I would often make a large pot of chili and freeze half of it or make 3 lasagnas instead of just 1 for dinner. This allowed me to pull out a lasagna or chili when I needed something fast. This worked great for me for years but I became bored with the same rotating dinners. I bought so many cookbooks hoping to find new recipes to add to my rotation. But after trying so many recipes with hours of prep, I gave up. I became frustrated because my family didn’t seem to really enjoy the new recipes and the prep was exhausting. So I began searching for other options, (processed foods were not an option) and I thought I was doomed to boring meals with hours spent in the kitchen in order to give my family the healthy meals we needed.
When my quest seemed hopeless and my 3rd baby was born I was introduced to Wildtree, an organic spice company that amazed me – Simple, Healthy Dinners. Yes! That’s what I needed! I needed something simple to prepare and simple to cook. I needed something healthy, because real food, using our John Henry’s Grass Fed meats is a priority. And, of course, dinner! Dinner time is a main event at our house and most often times dinner leftovers are packed up for us to eat for lunch the next day. That being said, it is important to me that my meals are big enough to allow for leftovers, as well as, the needs of my littles, aka. bottomless pits. My littles are definitely big meat eaters and that is definitely something I embrace. I want them stocking up on all the good protein and extra benefits they receive from our meats.
So what are these freezer meals all about? They are about giving you more time. All of Wildtree’s freezer meals are designed to be ready in about 30 mins. or less. There are also several crock pot options that make the meal even faster! The process to make the freezer meals is super easy as well. You can make it alone in the comfort of your own home or attend/host a workshop and visit while assembling your meals. The prep work is a dream as well. I will gladly spend an hour of my time to chop and prep veggies, knowing i am only dirtying the needed dishes and pans once instead of each time I make a meal. In addition, the time is well spent seeing that I am making 10 large meals to feed my family.
Keeping my freezer stocked with Wildtree Simple, Healthy Dinners is now a top priority and not a fad or trend for me. I just can’t imagine my life without my freezer meals. For my personal use, I make up a new bundle once every 3-4 weeks. This keeps a good supply going in my freezer as well as allowing us to have a variety of flavors.
Do you find yourself skipping breakfast? Maybe 3 cups of coffee to hold you over until lunch? – It can’t be too bad, or can it?!
I used to be this person, well, minus the coffee part. I have never acquired a taste for the roasted beans many crave. But with little ones demanding my attention as I try to get them out the door, I would often forget about food until lunch time. I figured it was normal and that I was saving those calories for my next meal in hopes of keeping my waistline trim. And yet, I had a hard time getting the extra pounds, from my last baby, to come off. After a diagnosis of an autoimmune condition, and starting Dr. Axe’s Heal Your Gut program, I began to realize how vital breakfast really is. I always knew my kids should eat breakfast but thought that was just because they were hungry. I had learned to ignore those hunger pains, so I figured they weren’t there. Once I decided to put my health first and help my body heal from the autoimmune disease, I started by making breakfast a priority. I still needed something fast and easy so I started making some highly nutritious smoothies. Dr. Axe provided some great recipes with combinations I would have never thought to use. Breakfast has now become a blessing I didn’t know I needed. I wanted to take time in this post to share some things I have learned about the importance of breakfast for adults and children.
Your body is designed to run like a machine or should I say, we design machines to operate like our bodies? Either way, our bodies have a rhythm for sleeping, eating, and working. Breakfast is so crucial because our bodies are ready for the eating cycle shortly or immediately after the sleeping cycle. When we adequately fuel up in the morning, we have helped our body to fire on all cylinders giving us better emotional stability, more energy, and we find it easier to maintain a good body weight. Blood sugar is usually low in the morning and your muscles and brain need it to work their best. Breakfast is like putting gas in the engine, it can’t run without it! That being said, it is very important that you are fueling up with the right things. Putting diesel fuel in a gas motor will cause some major problems, just like filling up with sugary junk, can cause problems. Our bodies are more forgiving than machines, so often times we over look symptoms that are telling us there is a problem until something major has developed. Let’s not do that with breakfast. Let’s choose healthy nutritious options that will keep our bodies running all day and keep illness away.
As I mentioned above, I started with breakfast smoothies. As an added bonus, my kids love the smoothies as well. My son requests the chocolate covered strawberry one almost daily. I am so happy that I learned of some great ingredients to include in them, without impacting the sweet flavor. I start off with homemade yogurt. I started making my own because I learned that letting the yogurt ferment for a long time, I prefer 36 hours, is a game changer as far as bacteria growth. After the average 6-8 hour mark that commercial producers use, the good, live bacteria start growing like mad. My yogurt was so thick; there was no need to strain it! I love Greek yogurt because it is strained (some whey is removed) to give it the nice thick consistency and higher protein content. But there is no need to waste any of the whey; the longer fermentation process will give me the same results. This is the base to my smoothies, because the protein and live cultures really help nourish our bodies. I then add in some coconut milk, coconut oil, fruit of my choice, ground flax seeds and soaked chia seeds. In my chocolate covered strawberry smoothie, I also include chocolate grass fed beef protein powder, along with some cacao to increase the protein and add flavor. On occasion, we need to add a little sweetener to the smoothie because the yogurt can have a strong flavor of its own. I love adding some homemade vanilla extract and stevia for sweetness, without sugar. This smoothie is a huge hit and I love that it includes lots of protein and fiber to carry my littles through their busy mornings as well as lots of healthy fats and medium chain fatty acids to support our brains.
Another staple for us is, of course, bacon and eggs. I love that our John Henry’s bacon is nitrite free and that our chickens are out pecking in the dirt, eating bugs. I make a big breakfast for my family every Saturday morning that includes eggs, hash browns, bacon, gluten free biscuits and gravy and anything else I feel like throwing together. But during the busy week, it is usually scrambled eggs and bacon or scrambled eggs with onions, Canadian bacon cut into small cubes, and cheese. This “one pan meal” is super easy and I love how fast it cooks.
Let go of the Eggo!!!! Wow, was I ever shocked when reading the ingredients on these waffles! Why do they seem to put food coloring in every “kid friendly” food item at the grocery store? Ugh, so annoying! Anyways, I will get off my soap box. I usually make homemade grain free waffles for my littles and they LOVE them. The base is eggs and cashews so again they are getting lots of good protein and fat. The best part is – they are great the day I make them and still amazing reheated in the toaster for days to come. They freeze great and make breakfast quick!
Breakfast doesn’t have to be boring or a challenge. The hardest part for me was just taking the time to make it a priority. It has paid off big time for me and I know it will for you.