Hi Guys! I am excited to share with you words of wisdom (and easy, healthy and yummy recipes) from my fit and food-y friend, Summer. She’s the queen of all things lean and green with a splash of sass and style. She’s my clean-eating inspiration and you’ll soon see why. Enjoy!
Hello! I’m Summer. I met Holly during our first attempt at adulating while we were interns at the Integer Group. Back when she was just a Denver newb, look at her now!
There are a few things I care about passionately: finding the ultimate rooftop patio, #bestfriendship, Leighton Meister and Adam Brody forever, and food. Specifically, real food that is both thoughtful and delicious.
Holly said I could pop in here occasionally to chat about how to make clean and healthy eating fun, easy and delicious. And being named for the warmer months, I felt like the only reasonable thing to do would be to talk about the importance of seasonality.
Why do we care about eating seasonally?
I know you guys are already worldly and informed, so here’s just a quick recap:
- It’s cheaper! (No one loves blueberries at $42 a ¼ lb.)
- You vary your diet all-year long. (I bet you forgot about Vitamin X! Hint: It’s not in your blueberries.)
- You’re more likely reducing the miles food traveled to get to you. (Although blueberries picked green, sprayed with stuff, and shipped 6k miles to your nearest Safeway sound good, too?)
- Things that are in season taste better. (i.e. See blueberries, above.)
Ok, we’re in. Where do we start?
Start by just checking out what your local grocery store is featuring! Especially if you regular at Sprouts or Whole Foods, it’s pretty darn easy to tell what’s in season by seeing 1) what’s displayed front and center and 2) what’s on sale.
But what about when I’m at home, making my meticulously meal prepped list? I’m impressed with these great questions, you guys! In that case, look no further than this nifty chart. It’s specific to the great state of Colorado, but works as a general guide for most regional fall fare.
Big shout out to these friends for the handy list (and fact checking).
Episode 1: FALLING FOR YOUR CROCKPOT
This is also the name of my upcoming niche market kitchen romance novel. (Holly here, I am going to do my best to hold her to this, y’all.) And yes, it’s still fall for produce! Focusing on key seasonal ingredients, here are a few crockpot recipes that epitomize the season with the common thread of being slow-cooked.
These eats are sure to:
- Impress your friends
- Conquer your (my) irrational fear of slow cookers
- Inspire conscious and delicious cooking
I used to have an aversion to crockpots. They seemed like the appliance of a matronly woman with Martha Stewart-like kitchen finesse, only capable of producing cream cheese heavy dishes dolloped high with more cream. They also seemed impossible in my life where I could rarely be accountable for being home an entire evening, let alone 8 HOURS to let something simmer to what would assuredly become a foiled attempt at domesticity. I could not own a slow cooker. I was not ready to be this woman:
I don’t know at what point my mind changed. But here are my come-to-Jesus crockpot realizations:
- Slow cooking is potentially the easiest form of cooking, while being possibly the hardest to mess up. (Me again. I have messed up crockpots, a few times. Which is why I brought in an expert to share the cooking knowledge. Adulting tip 45: Don’t skimp on the liquid.)
- It makes cooking healthy even simpler and decidedly more delicious.
- You can cook at NIGHT / when you’re not home with this nifty feature called timed cook. (This was a special moment for me, okay?)
- Once you crock one pot, you can feed your busy self all week long.
So this is it. This is all you do.
Step 1: Get your ingredients
Step 2: Put them in your slow cooker
Step 3: Press the cook button
Step 4: Eat amazing smelling, super delectable food
Guys, we, the borderline adults of the world, can DO this! All of a sudden, succulent soups, stews, chilies, marinades, pastas, and one-pot breakfasts, lunches and dinners are at our feet. The crockpot is our oyster.
APPLE CINNAMON STEEL-CUT OATMEAL
Why I love this: Because between morning yoga and a 50-minute commute, trying to fashion my hair into a look that says “I wasn’t just drenched in sweat” takes priority over having a leisurely breakfast. This is one of my favorite recipes for breakfast on the go and your house will smell like apple pie.
Prep Time: 10 minutes (Tell me you can’t fit this in between Netflix reruns of Friends on Sunday night.)
Cook time: 7 hours
Ingredients (2-4 servings):
2 apples, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter, cut into 5-6 pieces (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground (or whole) flax seed
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional toppings: fresh fruit, chopped nuts, raisins, maple syrup, additional milk
- Coat inside slow cooker with cooking spray.
- Toss in all the ingredients (except optional toppings).
- Stir, cover, and cook on low for about 7 hours.
- Spoon oatmeal into bowls and add toppings.
**Store leftovers in refrigerator or freeze!**
ROOT VEGETABLE TUSCAN CHICKEN STEW
Why I love this: This hearty, yummy stew is perfect comfort food for the changing seasons and doesn’t sacrifice any health for flavor. Plus it seriously gets better as leftovers.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 4-6 hours
Ingredients (6-8 servings):
6-8 boneless chicken thighs, fat removed and cut into 1-2 inch cubes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
12 baby potatoes, left whole or cut in half
6 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed with side of knife
1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning
pinch of salt (to taste)
- Toss all ingredients (minus garnish) into your crockpot.
- Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
- Garnish with herbs and a pinch of salt.
So there you have it! Two in-season, delicious, easy and healthy crockpot meals to keep you warm and on the go this fall. Find me on Instagram, @summerkalei12 as I continue my quest for the perfect patio and for more foody inspiration.