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Healthy Meals Made Easy: Fresh Prep Review

How do you make the weekly routine a little easier? With school starting up this week, planning meals ahead can go a long way and for those really busy days, meal delivery services are a great way to make sure everyone is eating healthy even while on the go.  Over the Summer I had the chance to try Fresh Prep, a meal delivery service here in the Metro Vancouver area that delivers everything you need for healthy meals right to your door; all you have to do is sign up and select the plan and meals your family wants. I’m sharing about one of the meals we tried from Fresh Prep plus giving OHP readers the chance to enjoy a week’s worth of meals for free! (see discount code at end of post).

If you’re looking for some options to take a little bit of the pressure off with busy schedules, a meal delivery service is a great option and much more affordable than you may think (meals start at just $10- click here to learn more). When you factor in the time it takes to go grocery shopping, prep and cook everything, and the expense of the ingredients, meal delivery services are a much more budget conscious option than you might think. They’re also a great way to try eating a little bit healthier when you’re feeling pressed for time. Sometimes it’s hard to fit everything into a day and preparing fresh healthy meals can get sidetracked and substituted with more convenient/ less healthy options.

I’ve been trying to get back into a meal planning routine but this was my first time trying a meal delivery service. What first got my attention when I checked out the Fresh Prep website is the attention to quality ingredients and offering full- flavoured, healthy options. We took this as a chance to try some meals we haven’t made at home before and Fresh Prep offers a great variety of meals to choose from.

We opted for the Indonesian Gado Gado with Peanut Dressing and Hot Bombay Chicken Salad with Roasted Cauliflower and Mint Yogurt Sauce. When the meals were delivered we were impressed by how simple Fresh Prep makes everything, from how the ingredients were pre- measured to the straight- forward recipes. Added bonus: all of the ingredients are organic/ non- GMO, meaning you’re not just simplifying meals, you’re making them with the best ingredients possible. It couldn’t have been easier to create a healthy meal in under half an hour, and everyone loved it (how often does that happen?!). Even if you’re only looking for a few meals a week rather than a full week’s worth, a meal delivery service like Fresh Prep can help take the pressure off.

Here’s how the Indonesian Gado Gado turned out- yummmmmmm!

How it works:  

Go to the Fresh Prep website and select the meal plan you’d like (choose from 2- person meals and family plans for 4 people) and how many recipes you’d like delivered each week (choose from 2, 3, or 4). You can also add info if you have dietary requests such as vegan or vegetarian meals and if you’d like to skip a week.

Select the recipes you would like delivered and place your order.

Everything comes delivered in cooler bags in ensure freshness, so all you have to do is pop the ingredients into your fridge when they arrive. When it’s time to cook, simply follow the instructions on the recipe card provided and enjoy a delicious and healthy meal in 30 minutes or less.

Want to try Fresh Prep with your family? Use code OurHappyPlace  to enjoy your first week of meals for free! Code valid until September 31, 2017.

September 5, 2017
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Family Life: Staying Organized with Picniic

Posted in Family, Reviews by

Picniic App Review 1

Hands up who needs all the help they can get staying organized/ remembering all the things? Most days there’s a to- do list a mile long that’s never ending and usually something gets forgotten. Sound familiar? My survival skill is to make lists. And sometimes lists of lists. Usually that way I can at least keep track of everything even if it doesn’t all get done (and let’s face it, it pretty much never does 😉 ). 

There’s always lots to remember and keep track of and with school around the corner there’s about to be more to remember. With Ari starting preschool in the Fall I’ll take all the help I can get when it comes to getting more organized and keep track of the to- dos. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying out Picniic, a family organizer app that helps you keep track of things like activities, meal planning/ groceries, and items on your to- do list, with notifications popping up on your phone as things come up. All members of the family can download the app and link to the same account so everyone can stay updated and see the same info, add to the calendar and grocery list, and keep track of upcoming special dates such as birthdays and anniversaries. 

Picniic App Review 2

  Picniic App Review 3

Picniic App Review 4

Picniic App Review 5

August is a busy month- it feels busier than usual this year- and staying organized/ keeping track of what’s coming up helps me keep calm when I look at what needs to get done each day. Especially on days that feel overwhelmingly busy, reminding myself to prioritize, focus on one thing at a time, and check things off as I go makes the day go smoother. Even if I don’t get through everything on the list by the end of the day, knowing I worked my way through and checked off the most important things first means that I stress less about what didn’t get done.

With kids it can be tough to get through everything that needs to get done in a day- and even to remember everything you’re trying to get done- and Picniic helps not only you, but everyone in the family stay organized. There have been days where I make a mental note of something and remember later that I needed to remember something, but can’t remember what it is that I needed to remember! With Picniic I can quickly make a note in my phone so I can come back to it later and remind myself; I can then make a note in the app’s calendar or create a new list/ add an item to an existing one to help me keep track. 

Picniic App To- Do Screenshot Picniic App To- Do Screenshot 2 Picniic App Calendar Screenshot

Hands down my favourite/ most- used features of the app are the lists and calendar, but I’m looking forward to using the meal planning tool more as well. Picniic is quick to set up/ simple to use,  and everything is in one place and easily accessible which I appreciate.

For families with young kids it’s a great tool to help us parents stay on the same page (even if your hubby doesn’t add to it, he can see what’s coming up on the calendar, etc) and with older kids I can see how this app would be a useful tool for everyone in the family: older kids can enter their own info/ see what’s on the family calendar, as well as add notes for upcoming activities, events, and due dates for school work. Picniic can be used on a phone, tablet, and computer, making it an accessible organization tool wherever you and members of the family are.

Here’s how the app appears on a phone & computer:

Picniic App Screenshot

Picniic App We Screenshot

The app is also launching a new feature, Pia, today to help personalize the app for your family and make recommendations based on usage so families can get the most out of the app and it’s features (learn more about Pia below). If you’re trying to find simple ways to stay organized, definitely check out Picniic to help keep your family on top of everything. 

Picniic Features

  • Calendar- day/ week/ month options to keep track of upcoming events and important dates
  • To- Do & Lists- create to- do lists and lists by title/ category to stay organized
  • Shopping List- add recipe ingredients and items as you’re running low
  • Info Locker- include info for key contacts like doctors, medical info such as insurance provider, and household info like wifi network and password
  • Special Events- store important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries
  • Meal Planner- organize meals for the week ahead, including ingredients and recipes
  • Recipes- search online or add your own custom recipes
  • Family Locator- see where members of the family are near or far

About

Picniic is an app designed to help families be more organized. It acts as a personal assistant for use by the entire family on mobile, web, and tablet. Picniic has features including family member location tracking, assigned to- dos and chores, meal planners, information lockers for all your important records, and more. It’s easy for families to not be on the same page with information spread through multiple family members and locations, and slipping through the cracks. Picniic family assistant bridges this gap, and helps everyone stay connected. 

Launching on August 8th, Picniic is introducing it’s latest feature, PIA, an intelligent persona similar to Siri. PIA will help families connect with Picniic further and making recommendations based on how they use the app. PIA will help families be proactive by reaching out with suggestions to keep them organized and prepared.

Learn more about Picniic and download it here. Find the app on Instagram: @picniic

In this post:

Photo credit: Will Petrunia

Dress: Tobi

Disclosure: I was provided compensation for this review. All opinions are honest and my own.

 

 

August 8, 2017
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It All Begins with Food {Cookbook Review}

Food is a universal language we all speak, something that unifies us. It’s something to be enjoyed, and also the fuel we provide our bodies. If you’d followed the blog for a while, you’ll know that our family loves food, albeit with a few bumps in the road- we’re still gluten free, but other restrictions have since been removed from Ari’s diet- and I’ve sought out options as healthy staples in our diets. We enjoy as many home- cooked and healthy, whole- food based meals as we can, but still indulge in comfort food, etc when we get a craving or are short on time (everything in moderation, no?).

Before kids and since, I love a good recipe. There’s something I find soothing and therapeutic about preparing a meal (note: when the kids are cooperating); it’s a simple pleasure I find a lot of joy in. And while I turn to online sources for much of my inspiration when trying out a new meal idea, I still love turning the pages of a cookbook. There’s something about the tactile nature of running my fingers down the pages and marking recipes to try with sticky notes that I love. So when I had the chance to review the new cookbook by Love Child Organics founder Leah Garrad- Cole, I looked forward to the opportunity.


“Welcome to It All Begins With Food, a book dedicated to clean, whole- food recipes for your entire family”.


Leah and I share the same outlook towards food, with a focus on the quality and integrity of ingredients, especially when it comes to feeding our kids. There is a lot to be said about the source of our food today (how was it grown, where did it come from, etc) and while this isn’t always black and white, Leah offers up a valuable resource in her new cookbook for everyone from new parents to passionate home cooks alike. I discovered her line of quality baby food, Love Child Organics, soon after Ari was born and have had the pleasure of being a brand ambassador with the company and watching it grow over the past few years. The introduction of It All Begins With Food was something I was looking forward to, and now am happy to be sharing my thoughts on the book here with readers. This cookbook will grow with your family, and even if your kids are past the baby and toddler years, it is full of information and recipes you will appreciate and enjoy.

This is a beautiful cookbook, filled with photos and tables of information that compliment Leah’s recipes. But it isn’t all eye candy, and second only to the recipes themselves, the information Leah has gathered in this cookbook make it a great reference to have on hand. What does it really mean to be organic? What’s a GMO? What foods should I avoid introducing to my baby? Are just a few of the questions Leah addresses in It All Begins With Food, along with a section I love, make it yourself, make it better, which features suggestions on how to make pantry staples at home to avoid unnecessary ingredients such as sugar, salt and preservatives. 


“There is an overabundance of of information out there, and it can make the task of feeding your family really confusing and overwhelming. We all want our children to eat well, but it’s hard to know where to start, and with our busy lives, it’s really difficult to find the time to make it happen.”


Alongside the recipes, Leah has included information to help guide readers through food topics that we face today, including:

  • organic foods (one of Leah’s favourite topics)
  • The Dirty Dozen & The Clean Fifteen- foods grown with the most pesticide residue and least, respectively
  • GMOs- what are they and how to avoid them
  • alternative names for sugar used in ingredients lists
  • clean kitchen/ pantry shopping list + tools and equipment 
  • meal planning tips + planner
  • getting your kids involved in cooking + food prep
  • information, tips, and serving suggestions for introducing first foods to baby

 

While this cookbook is a wealth of information for starting out your little one on solids (see For Baby, below), Leah has covered healthy suggestions for the whole family from start to finish: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, smoothies, creating your own pantry staples (I’m looking forward to diving into this chapter more in the coming months), and recipes for entertaining. I tend to avoid recipes that contain ingredients that are hard to find or seem too complicated; most of the time I have the kids with me when shopping and cooking, so I’ve subscribed to the adage simpler is better on several levels when it comes to the food we eat.

And that also applies to the nature of the ingredients themselves: Leah uses common, clean/ healthy, simple- to- find- ingredients in her recipes, with prep and cooking time around an hour total for many of the recipes (many less than that). This is a cookbook with crowd- pleasing recipes, but doesn’t forget about the person creating the meal. You don’t have to have kids to appreciate her method, but it’s definitely a cookbook created by a parent with parents in mind: healthy food that doesn’t take hours to prep and cook. Thank you Leah!


“With an unwavering focus on replacing ingredients that have little nutritional value with ones that are nutritionally dense, It All Begins With Food ensures that every bite counts while making the end result is pleasurable and the ingredients are easy to find.”


Chapters in the book:

purees & mashes

finger foods

smoothies: the vitamin vehicle

superhero breakfasts to keep them going (and going!)

easy lunches

family- friendly dinners

healthier snacks & treats

let’s celebrate

make it yourself make it better


 

For Baby

For parents looking for information, tips, and recipes for feeding their baby, this book is a wealth of knowledge and I wish it had been around when Ari was a baby. As a Mom, Leah speaks from her own experiences, as well as from the wealth of information and knowledge she has amassed since starting an organic food company; I love this combination of experience and knowledge and I feel this approach will appeal to many parents beginning the food journey with their children. Here are just a few of the highlights for me that I appreciated Leah including:

  • Canadian & US official infant feeding recommendations
  • suggestions on when to start introducing solids + signs to look for that your baby may be ready
  • what foods to start with
  • food allergies + reactions (also the difference between a true allergy and an intolerance/ food sensitivity)
  • how much food + how often
  • baby food recipes (purees + mashes), tips + combinations

    

Whether you’re passionate about healthy cooking, want to incorporate more whole- foods recipes into your weekly meal plan, or starting out a little one on solids, It All begins With Food  includes ideas for all members of the family, and will be a welcome addition to any cookbook library. 

To learn more about Love Child Organics, visit them online:

Website | Facebook | Instagram

It All Begins With Food available online at Amazon.ca and Indigo

Disclosure: I received this cookbook in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. This blog post contains affiliate links. 

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May 11, 2017
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