• 29Aug

    Today’s post is contributed by Good Measure Meals intern, Claudia Utesch.

    Fall is just around the corner, which means there are a few weeks left to take full advantage of the longer, sunny, warm days that are currently at our fingertips.

    Summer is truly one of the best times of the year to be outside and enjoy what your environment has to offer. It is such a treat living in Atlanta because it is the best combination between city life and the great outdoors. Atlanta has a variety of parks, running routes, and even mountains just a short drive away. This Labor Day weekend, get out and take advantage of the outdoors with a couple of these helpful tips.

    1. Try out a variety of parks. There are so many parks in the metro Atlanta area like Piedmont Park, Grant Park, Candler Park, Inman Park, and of course Centennial Park. Take your loved ones for a day at the park; bring a picnic and some activities (bocce ball, frisbee, a kite to fly, etc.) to do outside while you enjoy being outdoors. Many of these parks like Piedmont Park and Grant Park offer a pool for visitors to cool off from that late-summer Georgia heat.
    piedmont park

    2. Another great way to get out and play is finding running routes or trails near you. The Atlanta Beltline covers a 22 mile radius around the city of Atlanta. The Beltline is commonly used for biking, running, and walking. The Beltline runs through multiple parks like Piedmont, Glenwood, Maddox, and Atlanta Memorial Park. Finding a trail near you, whether it is a neighborhood trail or a public one can be a great way to spend the afternoon exploring the nooks and cranny’s of your community. Check out the Beltline’s and the PATH Foundation’s lists of trails to find one near you!

    tomato3. Gardening – it’s not just a spring-time activity! Whether it’s a fruit, vegetable, or a bed of flowers or plants, gardening can be enjoyable and therapeutic. As I have gotten older, a couple of my friends have started their own small gardens. It is incredibly rewarding to  experience the growing process under your care. Fruit and vegetable gardens can have a lot of benefits, especially because you can add the end product to your dinner table! And now is the time to get your Fall veggies in the ground – plant your kale, carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach, and turnips in September, and enjoy the perfect harvest for stews, roasts, and Fall flavors.

    4. Georgia has a wide variety of hiking trails on which to spend a few minutes, hours, or an entire afternoon. The closest “mountain” to the Atlanta area is Stone Mountain. This hike is relatively short, but has QUITE an incline. Kennesaw Mountain and Sweetwater Creek are other nearby trail systems, and these paths are usually quiet and filled with lots of shade. Find a list of top 10 Atlanta hiking trails here!

    waterpark5. Waterfront activities like visiting a pool, a lake, or the beach are a great way to get the kids out of the house while keeping cool. Georgia has several lakes that you and your family can relax on during a late summer day. And if you’d rather have a more exciting day in the water, you can also visit some of the waterparks in the area, like those at Lake Lanier Island. Spending the day in the water is a fun way to maximize the final weeks of summer and relax with your loved ones and friends.

    Take the time out of your busy schedule to explore what our area has to offer outside. You may be surprised at the fun adventures you can find without spending a fortune!

  • 21Aug

    Today’s guest article is contributed by Open Hand Atlanta/Good Measure Meals intern, Claudia Utesch. Claudia is a senior in the Didactic program at Georgia State University. She currently holds the position as student gardener in the Nutrition Student Network at State and works as a supervisor at the Georgia State Recreation Center.

    Often when people think of farmer’s markets, they think of springtime. Fresh produce and new growth after dormant winters, and all.

    But, weather pending, high season for farmer’s markets is actually during July/August, when produce is catapulting from the ground in epic proportions after weeks of careful planning, growing, and harvesting. Maybe you haven’t been to a farmer’s market yet in 2014, maybe you haven’t been since the spring, or maybe there are ones you haven’t tried out yet. Either way, the time is now to hit the markets – especially if you only use Good Measure Meals for 1 or 2 meals per day!

    However, while farmer’s markets are new and exciting places to shop for ingredients, they can also be a little daunting. There is a variety of produce available to shoppers, but where to start and what to buy can leave a shopper discouraged. Follow these steps to make your late summer trip to the farmer’s market a success.

    Know what is in Season
    Before heading to the farmer’s market, understand which fruits and vegetables are in season. Since most the produce is local, the season will strongly impact what you see as you search for ingredients. Here is a link that shows which months will bring specific fruits and vegetables.

    farmersmarketunionFind a Location near You
    Don’t know where to find a farmer’s market? It can be challenging to find one you enjoy that is close by. Luckily, the Atlanta area has many options, and there are a couple websites that can direct you to the closest one. Try out a couple different locations to get a feel of what you like in a farmer’s market. Here is a link of some markets in your area.

    Plan Ahead
    Go with recipes in mind. Since farmer’s markets are not laid out like grocery stores, it can be difficult to know exactly what you need. Try to find recipes that include a lot of produce and make sure to stock up. There are a variety of fruits and vegetables so try and get all you or your family needs for the week. If you are in need of ideas, try tomato basil skewers as healthy snacks for your next summer BBQ.
    **Tip: At farm stand farmers markets with farmers present, ask the farmer how best to store the produce you purchase for maximum/prolonged freshness. Not everything needs to go in the refrigerator, and many things should be stored specifically in plastic or paper. Your farmer should have good tips so that your food doesn’t spoil before you get to it.**

    Try Something Different
    Have you ever gone to the store and noticed a fruit or vegetable that you are not familiar with? Unknown produce often looks way more complicated than it actually is, and it can seem daunting as a waste of precious time in the kitchen compared to tried and true recipes. But trying a new vegetable or fruit could ultimately open up your list of recipes and mealtime variety, not to mention your taste buds. Start by picking up one different fruit or vegetable, and incorporate it into your salad, sandwich, stir-fry, veggie roast, etc. You never know until you try it! Here are some examples of exotic produce worth testing in your home kitchen: tomatillo, star fruit, young coconuts, Dragon Fruit, Kumquat, or even a Pummelo.

    farmers market 1Ask the Farmer
    If you are unsure about what an item is or how to cook it, do not be afraid to ask the seller. Farmer’s markets can have a lot of local farmers who are happy to show people how to use their products in the tastiest ways possible. Asking for new recipes or ways to cook produce can be an exciting activity for you and the family!

  • 22Jul

    Today’s post in the series “What Are Your Tips for Staying Hydrated?” was collaborated by Jamie Hamblin, Good Measure Meals Community Dietitian, and Katherine Clevenger, GMM Communications Coordinator

    JamieHamblin_5Lately I’ve been excited to incorporate a water carbonator into my regular personal use. One of my dear co-workers just recently moved to Minnesota, and she gave me a free water carbonator in her absence.

    Now, carbonated water (or sparkling water…or soda water) definitely is a unique experience for first-timers. When we think of water, we think of simple hydration with a nearly complete lack of flavor associated. When we think of sodas, we think of sweet, bubbly drinks. Soda/carbonated water has the same hydrating, non-sweet experience like water, but it has the bubbly/fizzy feel that sodas do.

    I’ve really enjoyed drinking carbonated water (it’s pretty mainstream in Europe, as you travelers will know), and I’ve realized that it is a great alternative to regular water for those of you looking for creative ways to drink more H20. It’s just got that little extra “something” to keep you interested and wanting another glass.

    san pellierObviously you don’t have to go all-in and buy a water carbonator to get some carbonated water for yourself. There are many carbonated/sparkling waters on the market that are delicious. As far as some good brands to look out for, the key is to check out the label to avoid added sugar. Also, there are quite a few brands that boast flavor, but use artificial sweeteners. Be wary of words like aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, saccharin.
    Perrier and San Pellegrino are examples of two well-known sparkling water producers; and LaCroix, for example, is a brand that is known for it’s completely naturally flavored (sugar free) sparkling water options.lacroix

    Now if you find that you’re drinking a 6-pack of LaCroix a day, a personal water carbonator might just be a good investment. Plus you can add your own flavor – lemon, lime, orange, whatever you like. If you do go the water carbonator direction, just make sure to watch out for the flavor packets that come with the machine – often they include artificial colors, flavors, and added sugar – NOT something you want hidden in your water-of-choice.

    Carbonated water can also be a great base for some tasty, nutritious beverages – especially if you don’t feel like you have developed a taste for straight carbonated water yet. One of my favorites is Agua Fresca from Leanne Brown’s A Snap Cookbook – Good and Cheap. I use carbonated water instead of regular water to add some extra pop!

    Check it out:

    agua fresca recipe

  • 17Jul

    Today’s post in the series “What Are Your Tips for Staying Hydrated?” was contributed by Jess Parsons-White, GMM Senior VP.

    The summer heat is sweltering and without proper hydration you might find yourself feeling lethargic, cramping, or even dizzy. For some, it is an easy solution of drinking more water, but for those on the move or who may not enjoy guzzling a gallon of cool refreshing water, staying hydrated in the heat can be a challenge.

    Luckily, our Open Hand Wellness Committee has put together a quick fact sheet for staying hydrated on go, as well as a few suggestions for how to “rethink your drink” by adding flavorful infusions to your water bottle.

    Tip one: Invest in a good water bottle! Look for a BPA-free container that is easy to fill and to drink out of while driving or exercising. The easier it is to use the more you’ll drink!

    Tip two: Before hitting the road fill your water bottle up with cold water, and when it’s empty, make it a priority to find a water fountain or rest stop where you can safely replenish. Our own Good Measure Meals drivers struggled getting their daily dose of H2O; but recognizing the need, our Wellness Committee partnered with Kaiser to distribute new water bottles to all the drivers. Now there is a line at the filtered water dispenser every morning!

    Joe HydrationDonny Hydration

    Tip three: Don’t be afraid to add unique flavor combinations to your pitcher or glass. Fresh Herbs and fruits can be combined to add an exciting twist to your drink! Just throw a handful of each into a pitcher and them strain out after an hour.
    • Looking for a calming classic? Try Cucumber Mint.
    • For a zesty combo, try Pineapple Parsley.
    • Maybe you’re into a sweeter treat? Strawberry Basil is a personal favorite.
    • Not convinced yet? Start with a few slices of Lemons, Limes, and Oranges for a classic citrus zing!

    **Now check out a quick demonstration for how to infuse water by our Spring Dietetic Intern, Frances Ennis! And for even MORE info, check out Jess’ previous post about the benefits of good hydration.**

  • 03Jul

    Today’s post in the series “What are your Favorite Summer Fruits and Veggies?” was contributed by Philip Niekro, GMM Customer Service Manager.

    Philip_picAs much as I love to cook, I don’t seem to cook much during the summer. Maybe it’s because it’s so hot outside or maybe it’s because I’m a little more tired than usual during my training season for the July 4 Peachtree Road Race (anyone else running tomorrow??). Who knows!

    This summer I’ve been working on losing a few pounds and am being successful on the Good Measure Meals plan. And since I’m on the 5-day a week plan, I do have to make some smart choices on the weekends. Fortunately, for me, this is the time I get to indulge with my favorite summer fruits and vegetables: Strawberries and cucumbers!

    Strawberries are chock full of Vitamin C and, calorie-wise, you get a big bang for your buck. Here is a favorite recipe from my mom. I love making this recipe and have altered it a bit to make it a little more healthy.

    strawberriesStrawberry Spinach Salad

    Ingredients
    1 pint strawberries, sliced
    1 bunch fresh spinach, torn
    ½ red onion, thickly sliced

    Instructions
    Toss in bowl with dressing just before serving

    Dressing:
    3 T sugar
    3 T light mayonnaise
    2 T fat-free milk
    1 T white vinegar
    1 T poppy seeds

     

    As for cucumber recipes, this one is really easy!

    Peel and slice one fresh cucumber.

    cucumberUsing an infusion pitcher, add sliced cucumber and one small bunch of washed basil in the center compartment and add filtered water. If you do not have an infusion pitcher, just put the cucumber and basil into a regular pitcher and then make sure to hold back the cucumber and basil when pouring your glass of water (unless you’d like cucumber and basil in your cup – if so, pour away!).

    Place in fridge for at least 2 hours, then enjoy!!

    I like to make this cucumber/basil infused water because it’s so fresh tasting. During these hot summer months, a different approach to hydration is sometimes all it takes to make drinking more water a little more exciting.

    I hope you give these recipes a try, and that you get creative with them, too. If you put your own spin on them, let us know in the comments section, below. Do you have a favorite infused water combination? Share your great ideas!

    Whatever you do, make sure to enjoy the wonderful produce and herbs that this season has to offer – and most of all, have a great Summer!!

  • 26Jun

    Today’s post in the series “What are your Favorite Summer Fruits and Veggies?” was contributed by David Rogers.

    Summer-eating season is one of my favorite times of the year! Living in suburban Atlanta, I have a wealth of fresh local produce (including my own and my neighbors’ gardens) to choose from.

    This season’s recipes and fare are lighter and easier to prepare, and are on the menu as much as possible at my house.

    Since my family stays pretty active outdoors during the longer daylight hours, there are a few go-to items that I keep handy in my own kitchen for quick preparation: tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella, cilantro, garlic and nuts are the types of ingredients we like to eat on a regular basis. These can be prepared in simple, hearty meals with little-to-no prep time.

    farm fresh veggiesOne of my all-time favorites is a Beefsteak or Big Boy tomato. Slice up one of these and pair it with light mayo, Greek yogurt, or just enjoy it as a plain tomato sandwich, and you’ll have a wonderful picnic meal or after-swim snack! Make the tomato into a fresh summer salad by pairing it with fresh basil, spinach or mixed greens, parmesan cheese, and your favorite nut like almonds, walnuts, or pecans. Nuts like thsese are packed with nutritional value and help balance out the meal. I like to dress a salad like this with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette, a light dressing that brings out the fresh, natural flavors of the salad.

    I also like to serve easy tapas like these Pesto-Stuffed Peppers. They are a perfect complement to a salad or to something fresh from the grill like veggies, chicken, beef or fish.

    I hope you enjoy your summer eating, and remember to keep it simple and fresh!

    Fresh Pesto
    Ingredients
    • 2 cups fresh cilantro
    • 2 small garlic cloves
    • 3/4 cup toasted walnuts
    • Small pinch of sea salt
    • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
    • 1 cup olive oil
    • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice

    Instructions
    Put all of the above ingredients in a blender or a food processor and puree.

    Pesto-stuffed Peppers

    Pesto-stuffed Peppers

    Pesto-Stuffed Peppers
    Ingredients
    • Pesto (see recipe above)
    • 30 red, yellow, orange Sweet Mini Peppers
    • 18 ounces cream cheese or goat cheese

    Instructions
    Preheat oven to 350. Leaving stem on the peppers, slice peppers and remove the seeds. Fill each pepper with cheese. Arrange peppers on a baking sheet, drizzle with a touch of olive oil and bake for about 8-10 minutes until peppers are tender and a touch crispy. Remove from oven and arrange on a platter & spoon pesto on top of each pepper. Save left over pesto — it’s great on grilled chicken or warm veggies!
    Balsamic Dressing
    Ingredients
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    • Italian spice blend to taste

    Instructions
    Mix ingredients in cruet. Shake and enjoy!

  • 19Jun

    Today’s blog post in the series, “What are your favorite summer fruits and veggies?” was contributed by Harmony Blackwell, Good Measure Meals Customer Service Representative.

    harmonyHailing from Pittsburgh, Penn., I have a love for all the different seasons of the year. However, summer might just be my favorite.

    I don’t know about you, but I find that when it gets really hot, I don’t think about cooked food as often, especially in the morning. Personally, I love juicing fruits and veggies into tasty drinks, and also making smoothies and fruit salads. I love the light and fresh tastes of fruit during the hot months, and I even have a few recipes I’d like to share that I’ve developed over the years that are particularly yummy. Hope you enjoy them (and enjoy the process of making them) as much as I do!

    Tropical Apple-Ginger-Beet-Cilantro Fruit Juice/Smoothie Recipe:
    The colors and the aromatic scents of certain fruits and vegetables are what inspire me in the kitchen.

    For instance, one of my juice recipes calls for a carrot, a piece of ginger, a Fuji apple, a bunch of cilantro and a small beet. First of all, I love ginger, the spicier the better – can’t you just taste it now? The scent of the apple juices and ginger combined are divine, and when I add the fragrant cilantro at the end, I feel like I’m in a tropical land! (Side note – It’s kind-of like how I feel when I’m eating the Good Measure Meals Cilantro Lime Shrimp – oh my goodness, so good! But let’s re-focus…)

    Anyway, the end result is a wonderful (very colorful) combination of nutritious fruits and vegetables high in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and a rich supply of antioxidants.

    Apple, Ginger, Beet, Cilantro juice! Spicy, sweet, flavorful and delicious.

    Apple, Ginger, Beet, Cilantro juice! Spicy, sweet, flavorful and delicious.

    By the way, here’s a little beet trivia for you: Beets are an ancient, pre-historic food that grew naturally along the coastlines of North Africa, Asia, and Europe. Originally, since the beet itself is a root, people ate only beet greens. It’s been reported that by the 19th century the natural sweetness of beets came to be appreciated and beets began to be used as a source of sugar.

    Avocado Fruit Salad Recipe:
    Fruit salads are just the best to eat while chilling out by the pool on a sunny afternoon, am I right??

    My sister, Vision, recently turned me on to her Avocado Fruit Salad (yes, you read that right), and it is AWESOME! When I first heard about it, I skeptically thought, “Avocado — hmmm, I would never think that would work in a fruit salad.” But it turns out that avocado actually works beautifully alongside the other fruits!

    Salad Ingredients

    The original recipe calls for: Avocado, Fuji apples, raisins, and fresh-squeezed orange juice (or a little lime juice to help keep the fruit fresh/bright); however you can add any fruits you like. When I made the recipe, I decided to venture out and add blueberries to the recipe, which I really enjoyed. Cherries, sliced plums, or chopped up peaches would be tasty in this salad, too. And I recently read that some antioxidants are often better absorbed when paired with a healthy fat, which avocados have in abundance!

    Cutting Board N Fruit_edit

    Avocado Fruit Salad

    Avocado Fruit Salad

    So here’s to some tasty poolside snacking this season!

    What sorts of fresh foods or snacks do you pack to help beat the heat during the summertime in Hotlanta?

  • 12Jun

    Today’s blog post in the series, “What are your favorite summer fruits and veggies?” was contributed by Callie O’Steen, Good Measure Meals Community Registered Dietitian

    callieosteenWhen I think of summer, my mouth waters – Literally!

    So many in-season, fresh fruits and vegetables! And we’re lucky here in the South because we produce some pretty tasty produce. Let’s get to know some of our Georgia-grown (and some of my personal favorites) a little better, shall we?

    What is the state fruit of Georgia?

    So this is the easiest question on earth. And if you got it wrong… I’m just going to assume you moved here from the moon.

    peaches on treesThe answer, for our moon-peeps: Peaches! Not only do they provide fiber for digestive regulation, they’re also full of great vitamins and minerals. That rich, orange color in peaches contains Beta-carotene, a derivative of Vitamin A, which protect cells from harm. Peaches are also a good source of Potassium, which can counteract the effects of Sodium!

    Peaches are in season between June and August so they may also cost less in these months because of the higher supply. Plus they’re outrageously, naturally, and addictively sweet! Such a fun summer treat!

    Ready for another question? This one’s a little harder…

    We learned that Peaches are the state fruit of Georgia but what is the state vegetable?
    (Hint: it, too, is sweet…)

    vidalia onionIf you guessed Vidalia onions, you are right! They are only grown in a very specific region of South Georgia and are known for their sweetness. They are grown in low-sulfur soil, so this means no tears when you cut into them! And similar to our peaches, Vidalia onions contain potassium as well.

    So what happens when you combine these Georgia produce stars? “Simply Southern Salad!”

    Georgia Peach and Vidalia Onion Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette
    Recipe sourced from Chef Klaskala:
    Ingredients
    • 4 fresh peaches, preferably free stone
    • ¼ cup Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
    • 1 teaspoon fresh mint, roughly torn
    • 1½ tablespoons grapeseed oil
    • 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 1 cup mixed field greens

    Instructions:
    Cut the peaches in half, remove stone, and cut into thick wedges. In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, onions and mint. Add grapeseed oil and white balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and
    pepper and gently toss.
    To serve:
    Divide peach, onion and mint salad evenly between 8 serving plates. Toss field greens in bowl with the dressing that remains and clings to the bowl. Scatter field greens on plates and serve.

  • 22May

    Today’s Blog Post in the “What is Your Favorite Warm-Weather Form of Exercise” Series was contributed by GMM Business Development Representative, David Rogers.

    My favorite warm-weather exercise is either outdoor walking or bike riding. I grew up doing these activities with my parents and siblings after dinner to help us after our meals to promote good health, family time and better sleep.

    photo 2_2These days, I am very fortunate to live in a great walking and biking neighborhood. The rolling landscape of my route provides not only moderate resistance for raising my heart rate, but also a visually beautiful area to help reduce stress. Plus, it’s always nice to catch the smell of the flowers just before you need a burst of energy to stride up a hill (and build some muscle!).

    It’s also just nice to be able to chat with and catch up with any of the neighbors that might be out along the way, and to even bring my dog along for the walk. Having a community network is proven to be a key to good health and happiness, so taking a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood and speaking with the neighbors checks two health-promoting boxes at once!

    photo 1To mix things up, my town has also created a 5-mile trail system that has pedestrian- and bike-friendly lanes. I often step out of my usual routine and even enlist my friends and family to join me for a 30-45 minute trek along these trails. Most communities offer a similar set-up or have local parks nearby with wellness challenge stations to help improve your strength, flexibility, and stamina, so I usually look for these for an added challenge along the way.

    For me, exercising during the warm summer months is all about having the right shoes, bringing along proper hydration, and most importantly having good company to encourage me to get outside to keep promoting my good health and reduce my stress.

  • 25Jun

    What’s the first thing a person thinks about when he or she thinks about summer?

    Vacation. True.

    And you know what’s right up there on the summertime “must do” list? Good Measure Meals. Surprised? Well here’s a little logic to help with the word-association whenever someone mentions summertime again.

    1) When’s the one time in the entire year that you really want to look good? Hint: Skirts, dresses, tank tops…bathing suits… Exactly. Summer. Get that arm flab outta here.

    2) Looking good is not magic. It takes a lot of focus and planning. But what is actually magical is that Good Measure Meals does a lot of the focus and planning work for you. GMM can’t make you exercise, but it can take ALL of the guesswork out of what you should be eating each day to help you reach your best Summertime shape.Time to Get Fit for the Summer!

    - We have well-balanced and portion-controlled meals that are designed to meet specific nutritional guidelines from meal to meal and from day to day.

    - Since we organize by calorie count, you can keep better track of your progress toward weight loss (or weight gain, if you’re trying to build muscle like our summer fitness expert, Thomas Murphy) than you could by yourself.

    3) The summer variety on our menus keeps your taste buds interested with all your favorite dishes of the season. Buffalo Chicken Sandwich; Carolina Style BBQ Pulled Chicken with Chow Chow relish, Field Peas, and Banana Pudding; Crab Cake Sandwich with Jalapeno Aioli Spread; Cilantro Lime Shrimp over Quinoa and Black Bean Salad; Vegetarian and Beef Fajitas with Onions, Portobello Mushrooms and Peppers; Southern Style Oven “Fried” Chicken with BBQ Beans and Collard Greens, fresh green salads and so so so much more!

    PGMM Spring/Summer 2013 Mealslus, our meals are easily portable for all your summer travels to the pool, beach, mountains, lake (OK maybe that’s us projecting OUR ideal summer vacation schedule).

    4) Speaking of traveling, Good Measure Meals is super flexible for your summer schedule. If you can’t pack your meals in a cooler and take them with you (ideal scenario, obviously), just give us a call before 4 p.m. on Thursdays to put your deliveries on hold for the next week while you scurry over to Europe or to Cancun or to the Hamptons, or wherever else all you awesome world-traveling jet-setters choose to summer. We’ll just set you a restart date so that directly upon your return home, you can expect to resume picking up your meals and extend the mental vacation by not worrying about meal planning for the next long while.

    Summer is upon us, and we can’t wait…especially since Good Measure Meals is here to help make this the best season yet!