In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine water, oats, honey and butter. Allow to soak until the temperature reaches 115℉. Stir in yeast and let it sit for 7 minutes. It should “bloom” or form a foam on top.
Mix flours, salt and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add oatmeal mixture. Using a dough hook attachment, mix on medium speed for 5-7 minutes or until the dough clears the side of the bowl and forms a dough. Alternately, the dough can be mixed and kneaded by hand for about 10 minutes.
Turn dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350℉
Turn dough onto a greased surface and separate into 8 pieces. Shape into 8 rolls and place on a baking sheet. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap or waxed paper and allow to rise for approximately 30 minutes. To tell if bread is proofed enough to bake, press your finger gently to the dough. If indent remains momentarily, then it’s ready. If indent immediately pops back up, it’s not ready yet. If the indent sinks lower and remains, it’s over-proofed.
Bake rolls for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and registers an internal temperature of 190℉.
Allow to cool completely before slicing or storing.
8 servings, 210 calories per serving
Hack: Bread can be sliced and then frozen or refrigerated for longer storage. You can “refresh” the bread by warming it briefly in the microwave or toasting it before use.
Hack: If the bread stales before you’ve finished eating it, run it between your fingers (or use a food processor) to turn it into bread crumbs. Seal in bag or container and store in the freezer for future use.
Subscription boxes are all the rage lately and meal kits are no different. Meal kits claim to make it easy to eat a healthy, whole foods diet. They deliver every ingredient needed for each meal in the proper proportions so there is no waste and no need to shop for ingredients.
I received a HelloFresh meal kit for free as a gift from my daughter-in-law. Since it’s no secret that I love free stuff, it should come as no surprise that I jumped on the opportunity to order.
It should also come as no surprise that I want to share my opinion with you. Have a seat while I share my review of HelloFresh.
Ordering and Receiving My HelloFresh Shipment
It was simple to sign up. HelloFresh is a subscription program that automatically bills for and ships a meal kit every week. The downside of this is that there would only be two days between receiving one box and being locked into the next box.
Because I wouldn’t be able to access my 6-meal box in two days, I decided to skip the box scheduled for the following week, which was very easy to do. It’s also very easy to change my menu options, adjust the number of meals I receive and cancel my plan if I desire. This makes the service very easy to fit into my life and finances.
There are several different lifestyle options to choose from such as pescatarian, meat & veggie, vegetarian, pork-free, family-friendly, quick/easy, carb smart and calorie smart. I chose the meat & veggie option and was “assigned” three meals but I did have the option of 22 other meals to substitute any or all these 3 meals. Some of these choices were an extra charge, others were not and the choices appeared to be from all the lifestyle categories listed above. I must assume that the lifestyle choice and “assigned meals” are in case I forget to visit the site and pick the meals for an upcoming order.
My HelloFresh shipment arrived on the day they promised. It was surprisingly small and light considering that it contained 6 meals.
As I unpacked the box, the reason became clear and, I have to say, I was delighted. I had received another meal kit as a gift and was disturbed by the amount of packaging I had to throw away.
The HelloFresh box contained an inner cardboard box as insulation and one frozen ice pack. The foods were all packaged in plastic bags, no containers of any kind. I am not saying that plastic bags are good, mind you, but a bag takes up less room in the landfill than a container. The meals themselves were separated into brown paper bags and clearly labeled.
Preparing The Meal
As advertised, the Hello Fresh box came with all the ingredients I would need to prepare the meals, except for olive oil, salt and pepper. All of the ingredients were fresh and in good condition.
The prep itself was easy and uncomplicated. I didn’t run across any ingredients or procedures that I hadn’t encountered before. Someone who is switching over to home cooking from convenience foods or take out will probably see the prep work as excessive but this is the price we pay for improving our eating habits.
I was overwhelmed at first because, when following the directions, I felt I was doing too many things all at once. I ended up overcooking my roasted carrots while I was mixing the meatballs and cooking the rice. I finally realized that I had to go back with the cooking style that I’m comfortable with: I do all my prep (chopping, mixing sauce, coating meat, etc) first and then get to cooking. This added a few minutes to their “box-to-table” estimate but at least I didn’t overcook anything else.
The only downside here is a personal one: There are a lot of dishes to wash. For the ginger meatballs, I ended up washing a knife, cutting board, 3 mixing bowls, two baking pans, a saucepan, spatula, vegetable peeler, plate and various cutlery. Maybe this is just a normal dinner for some but, in my opinion, the fewer dishes, the better. Of course, I did save time and trouble by not shopping so I guess I’m ahead of the game!
The Main Event
Saucy Ginger Meatballs
This entree was the first one I tried and it was wonderful, although, at 910 calories per serving (1820 calories total), I decided to turn it into 3 servings instead of two. Not only did this smaller portion fill me up, I think I would have had trouble eating a “full” portion.
The meatballs are dressed with Bulgogi sauce, which is a sweet Korean barbecue sauce. It was paired with Jasmine rice and oven-roasted carrots then drizzled with spicy sour cream and sprinkled with a generous amount of sliced green onions.
The spiciness of the sour cream complemented the sweetness of the roasted carrots and the combination of colors was pleasing. I would definitely order this again.
Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Creamy Lemon Tomato Spaghetti
The calorie count on this recipe was a whopping 1090 per serving (2180 calories total) so I decided to divide this into 4 servings. I also added a side of baby spinach with dressing because I felt it definitely needed more vegetables.
The pasta was a delight. The sauce was a combination of cream cheese and butter, giving it a wonderful creamy texture, although the taste of either was not obvious. The lemon zest and juice added a brightness to it while the roasted tomatoes allowed for a touch of sweetness. The combination of flavors worked very well together.
The chicken was spread with a mustard/mayonnaise mixture and topped with a combination of panko crumbs, seasoning packet and parmesan cheese. I did enjoy it but I felt that the mustard flavor was far too dominant and overwhelmed the subtle flavors in the crumb topping. If I were to make this again, I would skip the mustard mixture.
Butternut Squash Agnolotti This particular recipe had two things I have never tried before: kale and agnolotti. I enjoyed the kale more than I thought I would. In this recipe the instructions had me saute it in oil with the onion. The onion lent a soft sweetness, the kale was peppery with a nice chew to it.
The agnolotti is a ravioli-type pasta I haven’t tried before and it was very good. The pasta itself was fresh and relatively thick, the butternut squash filling was very mild. The added walnuts, garlic herb butter and parmesan cheese gave it a variety of flavors and its end result was delicious. I’m glad I didn’t have to share this with anyone!
The bottom line
Of course, it’s the bottom line that matters so here it is! Would I order this again? Yes, I definitely would and I did. The price per servings in my box would have been $10.48 each, including shipping. Because I had paired down the size of my servings on two of these meals, I ended up with 9 servings which comes out to $6.99 per serving, including shipping. This is more than reasonable in regard to price.
The fact that the waste is minimal is a big plus for me. The meals are separated using recyclable paper bags and the outer and inner (insulating) boxes are both recyclable as well. The individual items that require packaging come sealed in plastic bags (no containers) that are just big enough to hold the items, which results in minimal throw away waste.
I am so impressed with this service that I have partnered with HelloFresh to give you a $40 discount on your first box!! What are you waiting for?
Have you ever tried a meal kit service? Which one did you try? How did you like it? Let me know in the comments below!
Cream together butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well combined. Mix in milk and eggs. Stir in baking powder and flour.
Add vanilla, apple butter, cinnamon and cloves. Mix until smooth. Drain raisins and dates and fold into batter.
Grease 18 muffin cups or line with muffin papers. Fill each cup half full with batter. Set aside.
Place all streusel ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Using a spoon or your hands, mix all ingredients until the mixture is well combined and crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the tops of muffins.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 209℉. Remove from the oven but allow muffins to remain in the pan until streusel has set up about 15 minutes. Remove muffins to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before storing.
Serving size: 1 muffin, 325 calories per muffin
Hack: Muffins can be stored, tightly cover, at room temperature for 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Cut chicken into 1” cubes and place into a bowl. Add egg white, 2 tbsp soy sauce and cornstarch. Gently mix with your hands for 2 minutes.
Mix remaining soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat 1 cup vegetable oil and peanuts/cashews in a heavy skillet and turn on the heat to medium-high. Cook nuts to golden brown and remove from oil.
Add chicken to the same oil and cook until there is no more pink, 6-8 minutes. Remove from the pan.
Add green pepper and saute until slightly tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan.
Add 2 tbsp oil and turn the heat up to high. When the pan is heated, add garlic, red peppers and ginger. Cook until aromatic, 1-2 minutes.
Return nuts, chicken and green peppers back into the pan. Add sauce and green onion. Cook, stirring constantly, until all ingredients are hot. Add basil and cook just until wilted.
Serve with rice, if desired.
6 servings, 535 calories per serving
Hack: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen in serving size portions for up to 3 months.
Hack: Do you know that you can freeze fresh ginger root? Grating it in its frozen state is easier than grating it fresh and, if you choose organic ginger, you don’t have to peel it! Simply place it in a sealed freezer bag or container and pop it in the freezer.
Hack: Chop leftover green onions and freeze in a sealable freezer bag or container for future use. While they won’t retain the crispness that would make them suitable for salads or garnish, they will be fine for cooking.
Being single, it’s sometimes hard to determine how many fresh groceries items I’m going to use in a week. Yes, I make a meal plan and, yes, I make a grocery list…but things change. I’m a nanny and my work schedule totally depends on the parent’s work schedule, which is never set in stone. Sometimes my at-home meals don’t always become a reality.
Many fresh grocery items, such as cheese and some other milk items, have a decent shelf life. Meats and poultry can be tossed into the freezer. But what about produce?
Yes, some produce items have a longer shelf life. Winter squash, potatoes, onions, apples and garlic are good examples but others only have a few days before they begin to lose their freshness. Then there are the items that I might use just a little of but are difficult to buy in smaller quantities (celery comes to mind here!)
Now you might ask yourself, “Why not just go to the store when you need something?” Because I only have so much time.
I live in a rural area and a trip to the grocery store is an hour-long trip, at best. I have local farms and a farm-to-table store, as well as a weekly farmers market, that are on my way home from work but the selection there is subject to growing seasons, which are short here in New Hampshire.
One day, I unexpectedly ran across some freeze-dried mixed vegetables and a thought began to form. What would happen if I tried using dehydrated vegetables in my everyday meal plan?
What Is Dehydrated Food?
Dried or dehydrated foods are simply fresh items that have gone through a drying process that removes the moisture, leaving a product that is easy to store and has a very long shelf life. These foods can be eaten as is (such as we do with raisins) or rehydrated to be used in meal preparation.
Dehydrating is one the oldest food preservation techniques known to man. The method of sun drying foods goes back to prehistoric people. Later, the heat and smoke from a fire were used to expedite the process.
Freeze drying was invented in 1906. The method became widely implemented during World War II as a way to preserve and transport blood serum as well as food for the troops.
Many people use the words freeze dry and dehydrate interchangeably and, certainly, the results of the processes are very similar. The process of freeze-drying, however, is able to remove more water from the food, giving it a longer shelf life, sometimes as long as 25 years. Because of the time and equipment required to freeze dry foods, they tend to be more expensive than dehydrated. Dehydrated foods contain more water, which shortens their shelf life to 1 – 2 years.
Using Dehydrated Vegetables
In the past, whenever I’ve ever thought of freeze-dried or dehydrated food, I’ve thought about “Prepper Supplies”. I have nothing against preppers and there’s nothing wrong with preparing for the unexpected but I don’t have the room nor the desire to lay in 25 lb barrels of powdered eggs. But what about getting a few to use in my everyday cooking? Would that work?
The first time I used dehydrated vegetables was in Chinese Chicken Asian Soup. I added ⅓ cup of the carrots and ¼ cup of the celery as well as 2 extra cups of water to compensate for the hydration of the vegetables. They added a wonderful flavor to the soup, much the same as fresh vegetables would.
I also made a stewed beef recipe (again increasing the liquid by one cup) as well as veggie bagels and vegetable rice, all of which were very tasty. I have to say I was feeling pleased with my innovative spirit but I had to wonder how the nutritional value of these vegetables matched up to fresh.
Dehydrated Food Nutrition Facts
I did a little research and was pleasantly surprised to find that dried veggies lose very little of their nutritional value when they go through the dehydration process. They retain most of the vitamins, minerals and fiber they start with, the only exception being the loss of vitamin C to varying degrees (depending, it seems, on which vegetable is being dried). The conclusion is that dried vegetables can be considered to be a suitable source of nutrition.
The same is true of dried fruit with the exception, again, of some water-soluble vitamins.
There are a couple of caveats to keep in mind, though. When eating dehydrated produce in its dried state, it’s easy to overdo in regard to the amount of calories and sugar being consumed. This is especially true of dried fruits. It’s also important to check out the nutrition facts and ingredients to make sure no extra salt or sugar has been added.
Where to Buy Dehydrated Vegetables
When making the choice to order these dehydrated goodies, I went a couple of different routes to see which one or which company worked best for me.
Roland sun-dried tomatoes were fresh and full-flavored. The bag they come in now appears to be resealable, which was not the case when I bought them so that’s certainly a plus.
I was then off to the Mother Earth website to see what they had to offer. I purchased dried carrots and dried celery and was happy with both. I liked the containers as well. They have a rectangle shape which makes them fit snugly next to each other and can be stacked upright or on their sides.
Harmony House Is a particular favorite of mine because they have a wide selection of variety packs in a variety of package sizes, so you can decide if you want to stock up or just try a few to see if you like them! .They have a very large selection of dried foods including protein choices and bulk purchases. I decided to go with the 16 piece quart-sized pantry stuffer!
Would I recommend dehydrated vegetables for my everyday cooking? Yes! They are convenient, tasty and nutritious. They take the worry out of whether I have all the ingredients for a dish or if fresh ingredients will go bad before I have a chance to use them.
Will dehydrated vegetables take the place of fresh vegetables in my life? No. I very much enjoy fresh veggies and nothing can replace them in my salad or side dish. The dehydrated ones will simply make my life a little bit easier!
Do you or have you used dehydrated products? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, water, cornstarch, and salt. Add the egg white and whisk until frothy. Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into thin strips. Stir in the chicken the egg mixture and stir to coat. Cover and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes. The chicken can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before continuing.
Heat sesame oil over medium heat in a stockpot. Add ginger, garlic and chilis. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add chicken broth, carrots, celery, soy sauce, rice vinegar and cilantro. Bring to boil over high heat. Lower to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, fill a medium saucepan two-thirds full with water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and stir to separate the pieces. Boil for 1 minute. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside.
When broth is done simmering, add hoisin sauce, water chestnuts, cabbage and chicken. Cook until chicken is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
Add rice or noodles if desired. Serve hot.
*To make hoisin sauce mix together ¼ cup barbecue sauce, 1 tbsp. Molasses, 1 tsp soy sauce, ½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder or garam masala
6 servings, `196 calories per serving excluding rice or noodles
Hack: Soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen in serving-sized portions for up to 3 months.
Hack: If adding rice or noodles, Cook and store them separately from the soup. This will keep them from getting soggy.
Hack:Dehydrated vegetables will work nicely in this recipe, using 1/3 cup dehydrated carrots, 2 heaping tbsp dehydrated celery and 1¼ cup dehydrated cabbage.
Coat a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Place cut side down in the pan. Roast in the oven until tender, 30-45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave it until it’s cool enough to handle. Scoop squash from skins into a large bowl.
Place squash and chicken broth in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Heat oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add squash, nutmeg, sage, pepper and salt. Heat to simmer. Add Parmesan and heat until cheese is melted and well incorporated into the sauce. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
Cook linguine according to package directions. Serve with squash sauce and garnish with additional Parmesan and chives, if desired.
6 servings, 310 calories per serving
Hack: Frozen butternut squash can be used in this recipe.
Hack: Leftover sauce and linguine can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They can also be stored in air-tight containers in the freezer for up to 2 months. For better quality, sauce and linguine should be stored separately.