The Kitchen Appliance I Can’t Live Without

(Ok, so there are two, but I’ll talk about my Ninja another time.) The kitchen appliance we use every single week, without fail, is our slow cooker. Heck, we love using a slow cooker so much that we have 2!

Our first one is a secondhand 4qt (?) that some friends gave us when they were moving. We don’t know how we survived so long without one. Look, I can follow a recipe like any other competent human being, but Jeff is definitely the cook in our household (I’m sous chef!) because he actually enjoys cooking. Regardless, neither of us feels like cooking during the week after working a full day and commuting, so we meal prep lunch and dinner on weekends. We struggle to find recipes that:

  1. taste good
  2. reheat well
  3. don’t have a lot of time-consuming prep work
  4. aren’t a total calorie bomb.

It’s a tall order to fill, but we’re slowly building a collection. For lunch, we’ll usually try to do something that’s a meat and veggie all-in-one, like a chili or a hearty stew (minus potatoes). Trying to prep 10 servings of something like that all at once is how we ended up with our second slow cooker. We were trying a new chili recipe, and realized in the middle of prepping the ingredients that our little slow cooker wasn’t going to be big enough. We had to find something we could pick up in a store that day, so we ended up ordering this 6qt for pick-up from Target:

Photo of Slow Cooker from Target.com
Image credit: Target.com; $49.49

We absolutely love it! You can program it to cook based on the temperature reading from the detachable meat probe, which is perfect for things like roasts. We tend to program the time, instead, and it will automatically switch to “Warm” mode when the timer goes off. If we hadn’t been under a time crunch, it would have been nice to get a slow cooker with a delay start feature and/or Wifi capability, but since we use it during the weekend, this is great, and it was reasonably priced. We always use a slow cooker liner, so cleaning up is super easy. Being able to run both slow cookers at once, one for lunch and one for dinner, is such a tremendous time saver. The hard part is done before the week even starts, so it eliminates the classic “It’s been a long day, and I don’t feel like cooking, so let’s just pick something up” excuse.

For dinner, we’ll usually do some sort of meat entrée and then just steam fresh veggies each night, since that’s super easy and quick, and the veggies are never as good reheated. Again, it can be difficult to find a recipe that meets all of our criteria, so we get excited when we strike gold! This week, we tried a new recipe, and it’s definitely one we’ll be using again:

Photo of Pork Roast from Six Sisters' Stuff
Image credit: Six Sisters’ Stuff

It makes 6-8 servings; by making 8 servings using a 3lb pork loin roast, low-sodium Worcestershire sauce, and balsamic vinegar with no added sugar, the nutrition facts according to the Recipe feature on MyFitnessPal came out to:

NutritionLabel-2

Keep in mind that those numbers include the sauce that you make at the end and pour over the roast, which you don’t end up eating most of. We sliced the roast prior to cooking to make it easier to portion out, and we cooked it on high for 6 hours (we’d probably do 5 next time) so that it came out tender but not completely falling apart. Jeff was concerned that the vinegar taste was going to be overpowering because of how much it calls for, but the honey complements it really nicely and balances the flavor out. I definitely recommend it!

Do you have a slow cooker? Where do you find tasty healthy recipes? Which kitchen appliance can you not live without? Leave a comment, and let me know!

 

–Sarah xoxo

What’s It All About?

For the longest time, my beauty regimen was minimal: face wash, toner, acne spot treatment, moisturizer, sunscreen, eyeshadow primer, eyeshadow, eyeliner, done. I might do a clay mask every once in a while, but most of them would dry out before I got around to using them up. I was a Beauty Insider at Sephora, but I basically only shopped there when I ran out of eyeshadow primer or to pick up my free birthday gift. I grew up doing ballet and dance team, so I was no stranger to makeup–I just had little patience for it, and it didn’t really bring me any joy. I did the absolute minimum to (mostly) take care of my skin and to look awake when I showed up to work. I did some research when trying to find the best tattoo coverage method for my wedding (if only I knew what I know now!), but I was functional at best when it came to beauty in general. Everything changed when my husband bought me an ipsy subsription in May of 2017.

From there, I was hooked, and I quickly dove head-first into the world of beauty and self care. I started following some of the ipsy creators on Instagram and Youtube, which led me to other beauty gurus on Youtube; I joined the Ultamate Rewards Program at Ulta (and went Platinum in less than 6 months–oops!), and I stepped up my beauty game, like whoa. I cleaned old, expired junk out of my makeup armoire, started experimenting with new cosmetics and skincare products, got over my aversion to liquid foundation…it’s been a journey already, and I’ve only scratched the surface.

By the end of summer 2017, I felt inspired to work on uncovering my best self, both inside and out. I was soaking up all the beauty knowledge I could, so surface beauty: check. My husband and I already ate healthier than the average American (most of the time–this is all about balance, right?), so eating well: check, but there’s always room for improvement. I wasn’t working out as regularly as I should because I always felt strapped for time and having a back injury made high-intensity workouts nearly impossible–I was also good at coming up with excuses, can you tell? If I left my workout until after work, I’d manage to reason my way out of doing it by the time I got home. So to eliminate that temptation, I decided to start getting up at 4:15 every morning to do a Yoga or Pilates video on Youtube. After just one month, I could feel my back getting stronger, which meant I could start pushing myself to do more challenging exercises. I even managed to start jogging again without being in excruciating pain the next day. Since August 14, 2017, I have worked out every. single. day. Some days that’s a HIIT workout, and other days that’s just a deep stretching session, but I can feel the difference. (My Move Streak on my Apple Watch is a huge motivator–I want to close all the rings every day!) So being active: check.

Between the beauty gurus promoting more products than you could ever use (or afford), the diet “experts” promoting the latest miracle food plan, and the exercise know-it-alls promoting the latest workout regimen that will help you drop 10 pounds in 2 days, it’s an overwhelming amount of information to sift through and assess. Being an expert in any one of those fields is literally a full-time job, and my full-time job isn’t in any of them.

I’m not claiming to have all the answers, but I’m willing to share what I learn, and I’m hoping to learn some things from you. Let me tell you about things I’ve tried and love, others I’ve tried that weren’t worth it, and–even more exciting–things I can’t wait to try! Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one to introduce me to my next favorite thing that I never would have heard of otherwise! None of us have it all figured out, but let’s see what we can come up with together.

–Sarah