Plated: Meal Delivery Kit

I have been seeing ads on Facebook more and more for meal delivery services [or meal ingredient delivery services, really] these days. The concept + their first time delivery discount intrigued me, so I decided to pick one and give it a try. Plated won!

How does it work?

  1. You sign up for an account.
  2. You choose how many meals you would like delivered [three dinner meals for two people, four people, etc.]
  3. Choose how often you would like to receive a delivery and what day of the week you would like your food delivered.
  4. Your food arrives at your doorstep nicely [and responsibly] packaged into neat little meal packs with the perfect amount of each ingredient that you need for your meals.
  5. You prep and cook your meals! I cooked three of Plated’s recipes, and each one took me about 30-40 minutes to prep and cook.

Plated’s first time offer was to purchase two meals, and then you get four meals free. So, I paid $24.99 for dinner for Colin and I for three nights. That’s $4.17 per person, per meal — not a bad deal. It is typically $12 a meal, so for three meals for two people it comes out to $72 — and shipping is free.

These companies are popping up all over now [or I am only just noticing them?]. I’ve recently heard of Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Home Chef [any others you would recommend?]. Maybe I will give a bunch of these a try to see which experience I liked best…

Here is an example of what the ingredients look like [from our chicken tikka masala recipe].







The recipe cards:



And the finished product [we added asparagus as well]

*Please note, chicken tikka masala is *not* the prettiest looking dish, but it was quite tasty. Spicy, too!


I really enjoyed my experience with Plated. It was nice to have three nights in a row where I didn’t have to come up with a recipe idea for dinner. I just chose one of the three, grabbed the ingredient bag out of the fridge, and got to it. Some days my brain can only handle so much, and it was nice to take a break during meal prep time. All I had to do was read directions, and follow them. Each meal was fantastic.

Another great aspect of this is, trying new things. We often get stuck in dinner ruts in our house — we have a bunch of go-to recipes which is great, but rarely do we spice it up and try something out of the ordinary. Chicken tikka masala was very different for us, and I was super excited to try it out. My mom was here when we had that one — we both loved it! Colin didn’t love it, but I was just really happy that he gave it a try. The beef enchiladas we had were out of this world, and I could have eaten about ten of the pork chive burgers we had. AMAZING.

Lastly, I loved that it came with the perfect amount of each necessary ingredient. If I am trying a new type of flavor with a meal [that I don’t normally cook with] it is kind of annoying to buy a large quantity of something that I am only going to use a little bit of. There was no waste with our Plated meals, which made me happy.

This is definitely not something I see as a necessity, obviously. I like to get new ideas for recipes by collecting them online [especially Pinterest], and buying my own ingredients and groceries myself is more cost effective than having a weekly meal delivery service. Our regular weekly menus do not include a ton of $12 per person meals, that’s for sure. However, I loved trying this out to see how it works, and would absolutely use it again in the future for a busy week, when we’re looking to spice things up [in the kitchen people, in the kitchen], or possibly for a gift for someone [new baby, engagement]. In the very least, I would say that the discounted first delivery is 100% worth it.

Also, after you sign up and get a delivery, they have a referral program so that you have multiple ways to get money towards your next orders if family or friends sign up for Plated. Full disclosure, I used my referral link in this post. So if you decide to give it a go through my link, I thank you in advance for the credit!

Bon appetit!

*More questions? Please refer to Plated’s FAQs.

Plated on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube.

The Solid Food Journey: Make Your Own Baby Food (and other thoughts…)

maggie_avocado_first food

Feeding Maggie the first six months of her life was easy. Not easy as in “Breastfeeding is the easiest thing in the world! No problems at all!” I mean I-am-lazy-and-my-boobs-are-attached-to-my-body easy. When Maggie was hungry, all I had to do was pop my breast out of my bra or tank top, and there ya have it. I didn’t have to prepare anything, because — lucky for you Maggie! — my boobs are attached to my body for your convenience.

Then, things changed. I had to start thinking about solid foods. I’m telling you — once you think you’re in a good groove, literally the second you let your brain think “This sh*t is easy! I’m the best parent ever!”, something else comes into play and takes it all away. Solid food, teeth, sleep regression, separation anxiety, rolling over, crawling, walking, etc. etc. etc. YOU’RE NEVER IN THE CLEAR.

When to start solid foods? We decided to wait until six months. There are a lot of theories and philosophies around this, and my best recommendation for you would be to do your research and ask for opinions from people you trust. I read a bunch of things, and asked my parent friends. Then ultimately, we did what we felt best for Maggie. That’s basically been my approach to most of this “parenting stuff”.

In my research, I found that the World Health Organization recommends waiting until baby is six months before solids [read more from their website here]. Dr. Sears recommends to take things slow, and to also wait until six months [read more from this website here]. I wasn’t personally in a rush to get Maggie on solids. I was nervous to be honest. I was able to see the excitement of tasting new flavors and textures, but I also saw allergies and choking. So thankfully around six months not only did Maggie seem ready to go, but Colin and I were also ready.

From Dr. Sears website:

Gone are the days when pressured mothers stuffed globs of cereal into the tight mouths of reluctant six-week-olds. Nowadays parents feed their baby on the timetable that is developmentally and nutritionally correct — as determined by their baby. Don’t be in a rush when introducing solid foods.

Here are some reasons you might wait to offer baby solids [from Dr. Sears]:

1. Baby’s intestines need to mature

2. Young babies have a tongue-thrust reflex

3. Baby’s swallowing mechanism is immature

4. Baby needs to be able to sit up

5. Young infants are not equipped to chew [Maggie only just got her first two teeth at eight months]

6. Older babies like to imitate caregivers [around six months babies like to imitate; if they see you chewing/using a spoon/etc. they may want to try too].

A lot of doctors and people in general recommend starting baby with rice cereal. After a bit of reading and asking around, we decided to skip this with Maggie. Instead, Maggie’s first food was avocado. She liked that at first, didn’t for a while, now she’s back to liking it. Wacky!

A note on cereal from The Food Renegade:

What’s wrong with infant cereal? Babies can’t digest it. In order to digest grains, your body needs to make use of an enzyme called amylase. Amylase is the enzyme responsible for splitting starches. And, guess what? Babies don’t make amylase in large enough quantities to digest grains until after they are a year old at the earliest. Sometimes it can take up to two years. You see, newborns don’t produce amylase at all. Salivary amylase makes a small appearance at about 6 months old, but pancreatic amylase (what you need to actually digest grains) is not produced until molar teeth are fully developed! First molars usually don’t show up until 13-19 months old, on average. Undigested grains wreak havoc on your baby’s intestinal lining. It can throw off the balance of bacteria in their gut and lead to lots of complications as they age including: food allergies, behavioral problems, mood issues, and more.

Make Your Own Baby Food

Another thing I wanted to do to prepare for our solid food journey was to take the Make Your Own Baby Food class offered at Acelleron Maternal Health and Wellness in North Andover. The class is taught by Maria Nardella who was awesome — she is a personal chef, a health coach, and a mother. I wanted to take this class, because solid food intimidated me. It was overwhelming [as is each new step in the parenting journey I’m finding]. What should I feed Maggie? How do I properly and safely prepare it? How much should I feed her? When do I move on to new foods? What if she doesn’t like using a spoon? What if she doesn’t like the foods I’m giving her? etc. etc. etc.

MYOBF class from Acelleron Maternal Health and Wellness’ website:

Are you excited about making delicious and nutrition foods for your new baby?  Or does the prospect scare you but you really want to learn?  No matter how you answer the question, if you would like to learn how to make wholesome and nutritious baby food for your bundle of joy, without having to buy an expensive machine, come to the workshop! We will explore how and when to introduce solid foods, what foods to introduce first and when to add grains and proteins, how to prepare/store/serve the foods you make, fun ways to have your baby explore all these wonderful foods, demonstration on making your baby’s food using the equipment you have at home, and explore products that make creating and storing your foods easy.

Steps to preparing food for baby [for example, cauliflower]:

1.Wash cauliflower

2. Steam cauliflower for five to ten minutes [can test with a fork to see if it’s still not soft enough]

3. Add the steamed cauliflower into your blender, Vitamix, etc. as well as some of the steaming water you just used. That water has nutrients in it from the process of steaming and helps make the cauliflower the proper consistency for baby.

4. Blend that together, and let cool down a bit before serving to baby.

5. You can also add a bit of breast milk to the prepared food in order to thin it out more if needed.

6. Storing excess food — fill up an ice-cube tray with the rest of the food you made, put a piece of parchment paper on top and throw it in the freezer. That helps prepare you for a while! Just be sure to use the food up in time — this food should last up to three months.

*A note about storing foods — Be sure to label frozen foods with what it is, and the date. And don’t add breast milk into the food before freezing! Wait until you thaw it, and then add it in. Microwaving frozen food is not recommended. Instead, fill a bowl with hot water and add a smaller bowl [or my favorite — a Wean Green container — which they sell at Maternal Health and Wellness!] and let it defrost that way.

Some other takeaways from the class were:

  • Cauliflower is a great staple — it’s high in vitamin C and folic acid, it can also easily be mixed into other foods.
  • A child may need to be exposed to a food up to fifteen times before they like it [adults too!]
  • Be gentle and slow when introducing foods to baby — start with one food per week, or at least 4-5 days [so as to not overwhelm them, but also to watch out for allergies].
  • Sometimes it takes a while for an allergic reaction to show up. Don’t stress yourself out about this, but just be aware — diarrhea, constipation, mucus in poop, a rash — all can be signs of allergic reaction.
  • Steam the food you are giving to baby and save the steaming water to add into the blender with the steamed food for extra nutrients.
  • Can also add chicken stock for additional nutrients.
  • Can add organic coconut oil, butter, sea salt, etc. to foods in order to add a little extra flavor for baby.
  • You want baby’s first foods to be super smooth, no chunks. The reason for this is you want their food to already be broken down for them since this is a whole new ballgame.
  • Avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes = all great first foods.
  • Keep track of how much baby is eating; for example if you put two tablespoons of food in each ice-cube slot, you know how much you’re giving your baby for those first few weeks or months.
  • Remember, at this point your baby probably hasn’t had a spoon in his or her mouth regularly. Serving baby his or her food off of a spoon may create anxiety for either baby or mom and dad at first. Keep in mind that it is fine to start with your finger to get baby comfortable with this new process.
  • Egg yolk is the safe part of an egg to give baby — the egg white is the allergenic, not the yolk — so the yolk mixed with some butter and sea salt is a great first food for baby. Plus, we tried it in class — it is delicious prepared this way!
  • Don’t stop breastfeeding or formula feeding just because baby is now getting solids. Continue breastfeeding as long as mom and baby want.
  • The dirty dozen — what to buy organicThe Dirty Dozen

Maggie is just about nine months old and our solid food journey has been a lot of fun! Maggie LOVES sweet potatoes, butternut squash, blueberries, apples/applesauce, egg yolk. She is usually pretty open-minded about trying new things, especially things like her cousin Brian’s doughnut [oops!]. She doesn’t really like green beans or peas, although I do keep trying them out on her. Maybe one day…

I try to make food for her for dinner every night [as best I can — usually the vegetable Colin and I are also having for dinner], but we definitely have been using Happy Family food pouches quite a bit too, and they are great. Maggie also loves their puffs and yogurt bites which are actually quite delicious, and they are a perfect way for her to practice her motor skills.

Something that really stuck with me from the Make Your Own Baby Food workshop is a phrase Maria used, “food for fun, until age one”. Remember, this is a fun and exploratory phase for both baby and parents. Enjoy it, and don’t put too much pressure on yourselves!


The Make Your Own Baby Food workshop is $40 per family.

The next available openings are Monday, November 17th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. or Saturday, January 10th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Click here to sign up!

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Products

I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people know what Whole Foods is these days. What I’m not sure about is, whether or not all of those people know about the different Whole Foods product lines that they offer; especially the very reasonably priced 365 Everyday Value line.

From the Whole Foods website:

Value priced plus high quality

Our 365 Everyday Value® products can fill your pantry without emptying your pocketbook. With value prices every day of the year, our products are formulated to meet all our quality standards, come in both natural and organic selections, and will change the way you shop at Whole Foods Market®. That’s because we have it all — from whole grain flours and shade-grown coffee to organic milk and frozen veggies. We make it easy to stock up on the best products for the best price.


They offer a variety of products — everything from herbal supplements, cleanses, essential oils, organic pizzas, ice cream, salmon, juice, crackers, soy milk, salad dressing, coffee, and SO MUCH MORE. Recently, the lovely folks at the Whole Foods Andover gave me an awesome basket of products to sample.

Here is a list of what was in the (fabulous) bag — keep in mind, the whole bag was less than $35:

1. Organic Blue Tortilla Chips — Non-GMO Project Verified (The Product Verification Program uses a process that combines on-site facility audits, document-based review and product testing to verify compliance with the standard at every level of the supply chain, from manufacturing facilities to ingredient suppliers. For a product to be verified and bear the seal, it must undergo a process through which any ingredient at high risk for GMO contamination—soy or corn, for example—has been proven to meet the standard through avoidance practices and testing.)

2. 365 Wild Albacore Tuna — 100% pole or troll-caught (Looking for some quick and simple meals to make with canned tuna? Find some here!):

3. Organic Fusilli Pasta

4. Canola Mayo

5. Organic Medium Salsa

6. Organic Green Tea (Colin and I are slightly obsessed with green tea. Are you too? Find some fun and creative ways to serve it here.)

7. Organic Italian Dressing

8. 365 Sparkling Water

9. 365 Water Crackers

10. Artichoke Hearts

11. 365 Citrus Dish Soap: No phosphates, no phthalates, no chlorine and no artificial fragrances. The scents of citrus, lavender and pine come from 100% natural essential oils and there are some unscented options too. Also, there is no animal testing on the products and the packaging is recyclable and made with post-consumer recycled materials.

All of these items adhere to Whole Foods strict quality standards; featuring foods that are free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats.

Check it out!

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The afternoon I picked up my bag, I couldn’t help but use some of the products right away! I whipped up a quick pasta dish for dinner that Colin and I ended up loving. I used the organic fusilli pasta, added in the 365 artichoke hearts, and then some sauteed spinach, garlic, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese that we had. Quick, and quite delicious (if I do say so myself).

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If you’re in the area, save the date for Whole Foods Andover’s Spring Tea Party. :)

When: Saturday, March 23rd from 11am–3pm

What: Enjoy a taste of spring with Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value products!


Check out what’s on sale this week in Andover. And don’t forget to check out Whole Foods Andover on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on their sales and events.

I received these Whole Foods products free of charge, but my opinion (as always) is honest, and my own! Thank you to the Whole Foods team for providing me with some of the facts about their products, and for this opportunity.

Taste of the Nation

I haven’t blogged in a while; I wish I had more time for it these days. Unfortunately I don’t though, and I just have to accept that for now. But when I hear about something or someone SO GOOD — I want to shout it from the rooftops. Thus, right now I am writing about the Taste of the Nation event instead of writing my Life Science kindergarten lesson plan for grad school. Eh, what can ya do?

Taste of the Nation is an amazing (and delicious) event that raises critical funds needed to support Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, which is dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America by 2015. Get ready for this: ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF TICKETS SALES GOES TO THIS CAUSE.

What an admirable way to spend your money.

Taste of the Nation

Taste of the Nation

No Kid Hungry

No Kid Hungry

As an Early Childhood Education graduate student and someone who works in a public kindergarten classroom, I see students who come to school hungry; they haven’t been fed at home. Thankfully, they are able to enjoy breakfast first thing when they get to school in the cafeteria. But, I must say — it is heartbreaking to think about what happens at home for some of these children; what they eat for each meal, if they are eating healthy, etc.

A quote from the No Kid Hungry website:

According to Hunger in Our Schools: Share Our Strength’s Teachers Report, 62% of America’s teachers regularly see kids who come to school hungry because they aren’t getting enough to eat at home.

Let’s work together to put an end to this!

Details for the Taste of the Nation event:

Where: Cruiseport Boston at Black Falcon Pier (amazing views of the Harbor)

1 Black Falcon Avenue


When: Thursday, April 18th

Time: VIP admission, 6:00pm — 9:30pm

General admission, 7:00pm — 9:30pm

Cost: VIP, $150

General admission, $95

Discount Info: From 3/10 — 3/17 use LUCKYBOSTON for 17% off

From 3/21 — 3/29 use EATOUTBOSTON for 15% off

Buy: Purchase tickets here, or call 1-877-26-TASTE.


More than 55 of the city’s finest chefs and restaurants will participate alongside the event’s five Honorary Chef Chairs: Gordon Hamersley of Hamersley’s Bistro; Andy Husbands of Tremont 647; Jody Adams of Rialto and Trade; Tony Maws of Craigie on Main; Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery and Myers + Chang. Attendees will also be able to sample more than 100 varietal wines, fine craft beer from the Boston’s most talented brewers and a variety of cocktails prepared by some of Boston’s premier mixologists.

Organizations that will benefit from this event include The Greater Boston Food Bank, Project Bread, and Cooking Matters. Please check out the event on Twitter @ShareStrengthMA (#TONBoston) and Facebook at Share Our Strength Boston.

I hope to see you there!

Happy New Year + thinkThin giveaway!

A year can seem really short, or really long depending upon how you look at it. What’s definite is a lot of different things happen throughout a year; good things, bad things, exciting things, big things, little things — you get my point. For me, every time a new year rolls around, I feel a sense of new beginnings — a chance to try to be a better person, a healthier person, a kinder person. This new year — 2013 — is a fresh start.

{*Giveaway below!*}

One of my goals during these first few months of the New Year, is to get my butt back into shape. You see, I did so well and was so proud of myself over the summer working really hard to get into shape for our wedding in September, but then…I just stopped. I was so sick of working out and sick of watching everything I ate, that by the time the wedding was over I gave up. I’ve been eating whatever I want, and definitely not exercising much at all. I’ve been feeling very sluggish, and not so great about myself lately. There’s no doubt about the fact that working out and eating well gives you more energy and makes you feel better overall — about yourself, and just healthier/happier in general. Anyway, I’ve discovered a new product that really excites me in reference to eating better — thinkThin® bars. Once I read part of their belief system (quoted below) I knew I found something that was worth my time; it’s exactly how I feel about exercising and eating.

This is what I mean…

“At thinkThin®, we believe strongly in the premise of weight wellness. This is the optimal weight range at which our bodies feel happy and healthy. This is not defined or dictated by aesthetic, shape, weight or tape measure — it is the physical and emotional outcome of feeling good, energized, funny, confident and living a life filled with joy and laughter. Once we focus on being healthy and happy, our bodies will follow and align.” (from thinkThin’s® website)

thinkThin® is a company that seems (to me) to not only promote maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but also a fun and exciting one as well. Check out their ten amazing tips for the New Year.

My personal favorites from their list? “Compare yourself only to you”, and “Book a flight for this weekend. Even if it’s only $59 dollars away.” Two things I should really keep in mind — that I am unique, and I should be more spontaneous (and sometimes less attached to my schedule/planner/routine). These are great:

thinkThin® bars are gluten-free (check out their helpful gluten-free tips), they are easy to grab on the go, and light enough to carry around (hence their “thinkThin®” name), but are packed with lots of protein. Not only are these bars easy to pack and whatnot — they are also delicious! When you mention flavors like creamy peanut butter, white chocolate, chocolate fudge, dark chocolate, chocolate espresso, cookies and cream, caramel fudge, etc. it’s hard to say no. What else is awesome about these bars? They are sold in Target! (Find them at a Target near you).

thinkThin® would like to give one daily craic reader a thinkThin® Weight Wellness Variety Pack! These are amazing; they include 10 Creamy Peanut Butter bars, 10 CRUNCH Mixed Nuts bars, 3 boxes of Bites (5 bars each) + a thinkThin® water bottle! ($76.00 value)

To enter, please comment below. I would love to know your best tips for staying on track with eating healthy and working out? I could use some inspiration and motivation for 2013! {Winner will be announced this Friday, 1/4/13}

Please also like thinkThin® on Facebook — not only to stay up to date with their news and events, but because when you share thinkThin’s® photos on Facebook, they then makes a donation to the Dream Foundation. Easy way to help those in need — and that’s an excellent vow to make for 2013. :)

Our family garden!

Colin and I eat a ton of veggies on a regular basis, and in the summer we eat even more…so, we’ve decided to start a family garden over at Meg and Matt’s house. This is the first full summer Meg and Matt will be in their new house, and they have a beautiful backyard with plenty of space. Luckily they only live about two miles from us, so we’ll be able to go over and grab some veggies pretty easily. (Not to mention that I usually come up with any excuse to go over there so I can see my boy Dec).

We helped Colin’s grandfather plant his vegetable garden over the weekend, and then we planted ours on Monday — so basically, we’re gardening pros. I really enjoy it! I’m also very excited to see what we get, and to eat what we get! It’s awesome knowing that in a few weeks our hard work will pay off.

Our trust engineer, Colin designed a fabulous layout for our garden. :) (We didn’t end up planting everything he has on here, but did plant most of it).
Garden Layout

We did end up planting:
Red Peppers
Jalapeno Peppers
(And we have space to plant a few more things as well — hopefully lettuce and broccoli!)

Here are some pictures of our work in progress:

Trip to Home Depot

Trip to Home Depot

Digging away

Digging away

Becoming planting pros...

Becoming planting pros…

Almost there!

Almost there!

Now we wait...

Now we wait…

Do you have a garden? What are you most excited to grow?

A full heart

I truly love Thanksgiving. A day filled with tons of food, family, laughter, relaxation, wine, and all sorts of treats – is A.O.K in my book. I hope you are all enjoying the day with the people you love.

I wanted to share a few things I’m thankful for this year. It’s nice to acknowledge those things in our lives that we are grateful for. Here’s to keeping this feeling going for the whole year and not just during the holidays!

T he most handsome fiancé in the whole world with the biggest heart whom I love so much

H ealth and happiness

A bility to learn, grow and strive to be a better person every day

N ephew – Declan has brought such joy into our lives these past few months. I cannot image a life without him!

K indness of others

S pending time with my amazing faimily – no matter how loco they (we) are (miss you Pat!)

G reat friends, near and far

I Phone and iPad :D

V ermont – specifically Stratton Mountain where I will marry my best bud in September

I nspiration – all the folks that inspire me on a daily basis

N ecessities – a wonderful apartment, good food, vino, beer, (wine and beer can be considered necessities, right?!) clothing, a warm shower every day, a cozy bed

G etting to pay my bills every month because I have a job – a job where I continue to learn something new every day

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for?