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.

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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Walk This Way: Kickin’ It With Liam {Review}

A little random fact about the younger of my two little blondies: at 19 months, Liam still isn’t walking unassisted. It’s just in the past few weeks that he’s started taking his first steps by himself and the laughter and smiles we get are pricless as he gets more and more confident. And as much as I’ll be glad when he’s walking- this boy takes his sweet time!- I know I’m in for it big time when he’s running around. He’s already getting into mischeif Ari never did and I can only imagine what he’s going to think up; this mama won’t be sitting still!
With him learning to walk, having good footwear for him has been a focus. I wanted some shoes with hard soles for the cold and wet weather ahead, but also some with softer soles that would help his feet adjust to walking, helping him grip the floor/ ground. Shoes with leather or suede soles are perfect for this and when I had the chance to try out a cute pair from Aston Baby, the timing couldn’t have been better.
These shoes are made with a leather upper and suede sole with a velcro closure to keep little ones from pulling their shoes off (and of course Liam loves to do this!). Made for babies 0- 18 month old in mind, they were designed with 3mm semi- soft suede for the sole to protect little toes and make them slip- resistant (another importnat thing to consider when looking for shoes for little ones taking their first steps). As with the other products Aston Baby carries, these shoes combine classic and modern style and are built to last. I picked out the navy pair for Liam (these are available in 4 colours) since I thought they would be perfect for his Fall and Winter outfits, and so far they’ve survived my little guy putting them to the test. Scroll to the end of this post for product details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shoe features:
– leather upper with semi- soft 3mm suede sole
– faux- buckle velcro closure
– classic t- bar design
– available in 4 colours: navy, mustard, red, and white

If you’re looking for a pair of baby shoes to help your little one take their first steps, or the perfect baby shower gift, visit the Aston Baby website to see all four colours these shoes are available in and make sure to check out their other items including baby gifts & gift bundles.

Find them on social media:
Facebook: Aston Baby
Instagram: @astonbabyonline
Pinterest: Aston Baby

Don’t Go to Bed with Your Makeup On! {Review}

Two weeks ago I teamed up with Ciny & Kaite from Rodan & Fields to share 5 Skincare Tips, and #5- never go to bed with your makeup on, is something I’ve been guilty of a lot lately. Oops. I know it’s not good for my skin and I have no excuses, I’m really just being lazy at the end of the day And I definitely notice the difference when I skip removing my makeup. My skin feels less than fresh the next day and it’s texture goes from smooth and soft to broken out and bumpy. Not so great.
I tend to wear lighter/ more natural makeup, but that’s still not an excuse to skip washing my face and caring for my skin. But still, I’ll totally admit most nights I’m just too tired to spend the few extra minutes to go through my skincare routine. When I was chatting with Kaite and Cindy about this as we organized our collaborations, they mentioned a product perfect for those nights when you’re feeling lazy, but know you shouldn’t go to bed with your makeup on: Rodan & Field’s Eye Cloths. Even though they’re formulated to remove things like eye liner and mascara, the ladies suggested trying them on my whole face and putting them to the test, so I did just that. In the photos below you’ll see before & after photos- I removed the makeup from the left side of my face to show the difference- plus what the cloth looked like after removing the makeup from just one side (put it this way: it was a good reminder why I shouldn’t be lazy with this part of my beauty routine!). See my review of the R&F Eye Cloths below.
My makeup routine: I use a little bit of concealer to even out skin tone, mineral powder and bronzer, plus a highlighter on my skin; mascara & sometimes eyeshadow for my eyes; and brow pencil to fill in my eyebrows. 

The eye cloths come in packs of 30 and are recommended for use after cleansing your face. To test and show how well they worked, I skipped cleansing before I used mine.


On the left side of my face I started by removing my eye makeup, making sure to remove all of my mascara (my favourite item in my makeup bag! 😉 ), then used the cloth to wipe off the rest of the makeup on my skin on that side of my face. The cloth was soft on my skin and I didn’t have to work hard for it to work effectively. I was grateful for this since I find the skin around my eyes can be quite sensitive.
This is the first ‘after’ photo- if you look closely you can see that the skin on the left side of my face is slightly lighter (bye bye bronzer!) and the length of my eyelashes is different on each side with the mascara removed from the left side.

A closer view of my skin & eyes sans makeup

This is what the cloth looked like after cleaning off just the left side of my face…

... and here’s another view so you can really see what the cloth removed. I can see why my skin isn’t so healthy after a few lazy nights with my skincare routine.

The Eye Cloths from Rodan & Fields claim to be dual- purpose, helping to reduce signs of aging as well as removing makeup. While I didn’t address that aspect with this review, I was really happy with how they worked when it came to removing my makeup. I appreciated how gentle they are while being strong enough to remove everything from mineral powder to mascara. When I rubbed the cloth over my eye there was no irritation or stinging as I’ve experienced with other products, and they didn’t irritate the sensitive skin around my eyes. The rest of my skin felt clean and fresh, and I loved how quick and simple the cloth made removing my makeup. After using, you don’t rinse with water, simply follow up with a moisturizer and/ or eye cream. For full product details, see this page on the R&F website. If you have any questions about the product reviewed in this post or are curious about R&F, see contact info below to get in touch with Cindy & Kaite.

Want healthier, happier skin this Fall (+ year- round)? See this post with 5 tips from Kaite & Cindy.


About Rodan + Fields
Rodan + Fields offers dermatology- inspired skincare from the founding ladies behind Proactive. The company offers full- face solutions and strives to help it’s consumers find the products containing the right ingredients for their skin type to create a regimen suited to their skincare needs. 
About Kaite & Cindy
This two- lady team each came to work with R + F for different reasons: Cindy, a mother of 3 was looking for help with her tired, dull, and wrinkling skin. With a daughter in need of 24- hour care, Cindy’s skin reflected the stress in her life and she found R + F after complimenting a friend who had struggled with acne for some time; when she discovered the quality of the products, and how effective they were, she decided to pursue R + F professionally herself. Kaite on the other hand hadn’t struggled with skincare issues (except maybe enjoying a little too much time in the sun!), but became interested after hearing about the company from Cindy. After learning about R + F, it’s products, and speaking with Cindy, Kaite decided to team up with her to help others find solutions for their skincare needs. For both ladies, working with R + F has been transformative, allowing them to find solutions for their own skin, help others with their needs, and pursuing careers they enjoy in the process.
To learn more about R + F, and to find products suited to your skincare needs, get in touch with Kaite & Cindy:

Click here to visit their R + F page

Find them on social media:
Facebook: Rodan + Fields Trailblazers
Instagram: @loveyourskin3

Telling Time in Style with JORD Watches {+ Giveaway}

Who else agrees: the right accessories finish make an outfit. They’re the details that bring everything together. And be honest: how often do you notice a great pair of earrings, a hot pair of shoes, or an awesome watch before you notice the clothes? This happens to me all the time and so many times it’s love at first sight. And this time, it’s about a watch. One helluva of a beautiful, wood watch.

JORD makes timepieces that combine classic with contemporary with watches made out of a variety of wood including sandalwood like the one I’m wearing below. They’ve taken something traditional and made it a little more edgy, a little more of a statement. Something about the wood makes it jump out a little more than if it were a traditional metal piece. Even though they offer both men’s and women’s styles, I love that many of them have a unisex vibe- I don’t think mine screams ultra girly and I love that. I can wear it with jeans and t- shirt or pair it with a dressy outfit and heels to add contrast. It’s a heavier piece that you can wear on it’s own or stacked with bracelets and it will look amazing either way. You just have to decide which one you want more, which I think is the hardest part! 😉

… And just in case you find yourself falling in love with these watches like I did, I get to give away a $75 shop credit towards a JORD watch for someone to splurge on themselves! Scroll to the end of the post to enter!

Outfit Details:
Sweater, jeans & boots- My own
Dark Sandalwood watch- JORD
Wood brimmed hat- Austra
Bracelets- Quinsco
About JORD
JORD offers handcrafted wood timepieces that make a statement and suit a modern lifestyle. Their watches are made from materials such as bamboo, ebony, and sandalwood (like the one I’m wearing) and are a fresh twist on a classic item with styles available for both men and women. Whether you’re a watch lover or not, their pieces will have you putting yours on everyday.

Aaaand let’s not forget about that GIVEAWAY I mentioned! I have a $75 e- voucher to give to one lucky reader and for a fun added bonus, everyone who enters (aside from the winner) will receive a $20 e- gift card from JORD!

Want to win a Luxury Wood Watch for yourself? Enter below!

Fallen in love with JORD? Check them out online for the latest news & styles!
JORD Watch website
Instagram: @woodwatches_com
Facebook: JORD Wood Watches
Twitter: @woodwatches_com

Photo credit: Janette Shearer- Ava to Zoe