Working For Peanuts: From Field to Food #TXPeanutTour17

Texas peanut Tour 2017 Peanut Plant uncovered

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that until a few weeks ago the extent of my peanut farming knowledge was what I learned of George Washington Carver in elementary school history lectures. Given that peanut butter is a staple on our weekly grocery list, I was excited to receive an invitation by the Texas Peanut Producers Board to come visit several cities in west Texas to meet with current peanut farmers, tour their fields and expand my knowledge of the peanut plant.

Texas is the second largest peanut-producing state in the nation. Texas farmers produce hundreds of millions of peanuts every year and ship them around our state, the country and the world. The Texas Peanut Producers Board was founded in 1969 and has worked tirelessly since then to support research programs, provide education, develop markets and promote what they believe are the best peanuts in the world.

Day 1 : Welcome To Lubbock!

Upon arriving to the Lubbock airport, I was greeted by the shuttle driver to the Overton Hotel  who was waiting out front. I highly recommend staying here if you are in the Lubbock area. It’s the first and only four star AAA rated hotel in west Texas.

overton hotel room

I arrived early in the day so I met up with a friend to do a little sightseeing. We had a fabulous time touring the city and even though my first thought was “What’s in Lubbock?” I can TOTALLY recommend everything we did. It’s worth the trip! I’ll link up with everything we did and an itinerary of what do in Lubbock in a future post here.

That evening we were treated to a fabulous three course dinner of peanut inspired dishes at Las Brisas Steakhouse crafted by Chef Matt Lopez.

Las Brisas Texas Peanut Tour menu

Texas Peanut Tour Las Brisas

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 las brisas Tacos

Texas Peanut Tour Las Brisas Entree

Day 2: Out in the Fields and Vineyards

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 in the field

This day began early with a drive out to meet with the farmers in the field. We met up with Mason Becker, a multi-generational peanut farmer and advocate for agriculture and farming through his work with the West Texas Young Farmers Association. First it was time to really get to know the peanut plant. Did you know peanuts grow underground? If I’m being honest this was the first time I had ever seen them pulled right out of the ground before.

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 Peanut Plant

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 Virginia Peanuts

The variety you see above is the Virginia peanut. It’s one of the largest and most recognizable. Could you identify the 4 main types of peanuts? Well thanks to the Texas Peanut Board Tour, now I can. Here’s a chart so you’ll be up on your peanut name game too!

Types of Peanuts

 

Mason was open and honest with us about the current state of farming in America especially as it relates to peanut farming. We discussed the truths and myths of farming. He shared his personal story and what kind of commitment it takes to be out in the fields providing and nurturing the crops that will be harvested to stock store shelves. We learned just how important it is to support our local farmers and how difficult it can be to get into the business of farming. It takes a lot of financial backing, education and the ability to employ skilled workforce. As it turns out, finding labor with the skills required to farm in today’s fields isn’t as easy to come by as you may have thought.

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 Mason Becker

“My first tractor cost 3x the amount of my first house. Most years you’re just trying to break even.” If you haven’t gotten out in a field where your food is being grown or talked to the people who grow it recently, I highly recommend it putting that on your list. I know for me it had been too long between visits. It will give you a great appreciation for what you choose to put on your plate and they’ll be glad you came.

Our time in the fields was incredibly insightful and Mason was great to answer any questions we had. I learned a lot but there was still more to see on the tour. Following the life of the peanut, our next stop on the tour was the Birdsong Shelling facility. After the peanut is planted, grown, and harvested it comes here.

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 BirdSong

We saw the storage facilities, that house millions of tons of unshelled peanuts and geared up to walk through the loud shelling facility. It’s quite a process! Some areas were very loud, some extremely cold, and others quite dusty from all the shelling that was happening. We also met with the employees in quality control. They are checking around 1 million pounds of peanuts a day! It was truly amazing to think this location in Brownsville, TX provides peanuts for a majority of the national brands you and I enjoy. If you’ve ever eaten a Mars or Hershey bar with peanuts chances are you’ve eaten a peanut from this facility.

Time to Wine Down : Trilogy Cellars

Uncork and and Unwind Trilogy Cellars

It had been full day of learning, working and touring. While almost everyone can appreciate a glass of wine midday this location was well thought out. You see, most wine makers and grape growers are also peanut farmers. Peanuts are a fantastic rotation crop because of the nutrients they put back into the soil. Lots of crops take from the soil but peanuts give back.

We were scheduled to enjoy an outdoor patio lunch at Trilogy vineyards catered by Farm to Fork Gastro Truck. This is not your typical street foods. Farm to Fork is gourmet street food utilizing local sustainable ingredients. The Farm to Fork experience is crafted by Chef Antonio Pina and supplied by Pereira pastures dairy. They are all about supporting local farmers.

Farm to Fork Lunch

Korean Fried Chicken Farm To Fork

Trilogy Cellars

While we dined under the warm Texas sunshine and sipped on the wine that grew on the vines just feet away from us, Steve Newsome and Chace Hill retold the story of how Trilogy came to be. Trilogy Cellars, located in Levelland, Texas, is a family owned winery. In short Trilogy is three families, three vineyards united in one vision. That vision is more than just making great wine but after a tasting its easy to tell they excel at their craft. Each glass poured easily rivaled Napa. I joined the wine club on the spot. It was that good.

There is just something about hearing the stories of a person’s life and passion over a glass of wine. It was an honor to be there that day and even more so to have the opportunity to visit the vineyards right outside Steve’s personal home.

Trilogy vineyard tour

Grape growing 101 Texas Peanut Tour 2017

Grapes on the vine Trilogy Cellars

After visiting the fields, vineyards and dining establishments of West Texas it was time to return home. I had a wonderful visit and left with an open invitation to come back any time. Lubbock has given itself the moniker of “the friendliest city in Texas” and I think I’d have to agree. Everyone was incredibly welcoming. I’ll be sure to plan a trip back soon. Until then I won’t pick up a jar of peanut butter without thinking of the time spent here. I definitely won’t ever take for granted the farmers who work so diligently to produce these crops.

Bring Your Team Together: Team Building with Taste Events

Dallas Team Building With Taste Blogger EventWho else is watching cooking competition shows and dreams what it would be like to participate? Do you make your kids help you in the kitchen, responding to you “YES, Chef!” ? In our house its a semi- regular occurrence. Recently, I was invited for a super fun experience exactly like that with Team Building with Taste at their Dallas location.

After serving us morning mimosas and apps, we were divided into cooking teams and raced against the clock to prepare a meal worthy of chef’s approval. Not only were we racing against the clock but we had several challenges and plot twists thrown at us too. When the clock countdown came to a close, the heat was on as it was time to present our dish to the chef and discuss our strategy and process.

Smoked Salmon Leek Crostini

Our team did an amazing job. We did make some adjustments to the basic recipe that resulted in us winning the competition!! (I’ll be sharing our recipe in another post so you can make our winning recipe at home!)

Chef Joey Allette Team Building with Taste Dallas

Chef Joey Allette is an award-winning chef who has a great reputation in Dallas. He was incredibly entertaining and knowledgeable making the experience even more fun. I immediately called my husband afterwards and recommended he schedule an event here for his board and executive staff. This really is a great alternative to team building that eliminates physical fears some have with ropes courses or other trust challenges.

In addition to business team building, this is perfect for volunteer groups, birthday parties ( ages 13+ allowed in the kitchen). I’m thinking this will be a great option for Kaitlyn’s next birthday! Occasionally there are cooking classes that individuals can sign up for. Check out their special Fathers Day event details here.

For more information on their programs and menus, go to Team Building with Taste.

Green Chef Delivers Organic Dinners to Your Doorstep

Life is busy. I don’t know anyone who isn’t looking for ways to simplify in order to have more time for the things they enjoy most. Last month, I partnered with Green Chef to delegate my meal planning (and shopping!) responsibilities to give me more time and simplify one more area of our lives.

Want to try Green Chef for yourself? New customers get $50 off their first box.

green chef

Handing over the reigns on what’s in the fridge can be a little intimidating. We have a couple of vegetarians, a couple of omnivores, and of course a few general preferences I have to be aware of when shopping and meal planning normally. None of that was an issue with Green Chef. They have a variety of organic meal plan preferences you can choose from. Vegan? Paleo? No Problem.

Once you pick your preferences, Green Chef sends fresh, premeasured, organic ingredients right to your doorstep. The delivery dated are flexible and there is no commitment. You can skip weeks whenever you want. The meals arrive in insulated, eco-friendly, refrigerated boxes. There is no need to be home when it arrives.

Green Chef OrganicGreen Chef Poultry

The meals they deliver are certified organic. That means no GMOs, no synthetic pesticides and no growth hormones or antibiotics. Green Chef puts an emphasis on using seasonal ingredients and sustainable suppliers, including small family farms. Knowing where the food is sourced from and supporting these growers and farms gives me a good feeling as well. You can check out all the Green Chef suppliers here.

Green Chef Menu

Ultimately, what makes this service work is the timesaving element paired with the taste and ease of cooking.  Each box includes a very easy to follow recipe card and cooking instructions with step by step pictures. I could leave this for my family and feel totally confident that they could make it with out me there. I may just order this for them to be delivered when I leave on my next travel trip.

Green Chef directions

On the average of 30 minutes, you will have a all-organic delicious meal ready to serve in about the same time it takes most people to decide on what to order off the take out menu. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you. Our family favorite was a veggie quesadilla recipe made with whole-wheat tortillas filled with Monterey Jack cheese, plus red bell pepper, pinto bans, and corn seasoned with a paprika-cumin spice blend. The side was a simple but flavorful lime-dressed slaw and cilantro-scallion rice.

Green Chef Veggie Quesadillas

My experience with Green Chef was extremely positive and the chef created dishes were very tasty. I was able to utilize more of my mental energy those weeks on projects and not meal planning. I will definitely be utilizing the Green Chef service again soon!

Want to try Green Chef for yourself? New customers get $50 off their first box!

The Slim, Sexy Breakfast : Applewood Smoked Ham & Basil Breakfast Sandwich

We started off the year with great goals. Creating a balanced lifestyle to achieve those goals is a continual process. We’ve got to have creativity and have fun with life as we go along so we don’t get bored and forget our “why”. Finding the perfect balance of fit and fun is essential for a life well lived. For me, starting the day with a protein packed breakfast is a necessity to really kick start everything. If I’m being honest, it’s the follow through that I sometimes have trouble with.

Applewood Smoked Ham Basil

Mornings are busy for moms and dads. Lunches, backpacks, lost shoes, and toothbrushes…the list goes on. There are some days I’m just not into a blah beige bowl of oatmeal. Other days, I’ve had it with slurping breakfast up through a straw. I want to help my body have all the energy it needs to but there are days when I want breakfast to be sexier. As they say, “you are what you eat”….. 🙂

In a quest for creating a slim, sexy breakfast we present the Oscar Meyer Applewood Smoked Ham & Basil Breakfast Sandwich. It is easy to prepare at the same time you are already packing lunches and high in protein just for you.  Go ahead, give it a whirl.

Applewood Smoked Ham & Basil Breakfast Sandwich

Oscar Mayer Natural Applewood Smoked Ham

Ingredients:

  • Oscar Mayer Applewood Smoked Ham
  • Fresh basil
  • Sliced tomato
  • Egg
  • Toasted English Muffin

Directions:

Break egg into an already hot skillet and cook over easy. While the egg is cooking split and toast an English Muffin in the same pan. When the English Muffin is just warmed and slightly toasted place open on plate. Place slices of Oscar Mayer Applewood Smoked Ham on the bottom half. Then add tomato slice, cooked egg and top with fresh basil leaves. Voila!

Oscar Mayer Ham

Using fresh,wholesome ingredients is key for getting the best experience at each meal. Oscar Mayer Selects Natural is made with no artificial ingredients, and is minimally processed. Selects Natural has no artificial preservatives (the back side of each package lists the ingredients used to preserve quality), no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no gluten and no by-products.

Oscar Mayer Selects Natural is available in five flavorful varieties for all the sexy recipes you want to create, including Slow Roasted Turkey, Applewood Smoked Turkey, Rotisserie Seasoned Chicken, Applewood Smoked Ham and Slow Roasted Roast Beef.

You can learn more about Selects Natural and all the Oscar Mayer products on OscarMayer.com, Facebook atFacebook.com/OscarMayer, Twitter at @OscarMayer and on Tumblr at OscarMayer.Tumblr.com.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

The Ultimate Green Smoothie

green smoothie

We are keeping our fitness goals going in February. The green smoothie was vital to our nutrition success in January. To celebrate we are sharing our best green smoothie recipe – THE ULTIMATE GREEN SMOOTHIE, if you will. Made with just 5 ingredients (banana, pear, kale, JIF peanut powder & almond milk), you will want to print this one out and make it part of your daily routine.

Just like you, I don’t have a lot of extra time in my morning so I love things that are simple and help me fuel my busy day. This ultimate green smoothie is just the thing. The ingredients can be prepped ahead of time and pulled from the freezer any time you are ready. It’s the perfect start for busy mornings, after school, or post workout.

the ultimate green smoothie

The Ultimate Green Smoothie

INGREDIENTS
1 cup kale leaves, packed
1/2 large, ripe pear
1/2 large, ripe banana
3 tablespoons  Jif Peanut Powder
1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Add chopped kale, pear, and banana and place in an airtight container or freezer bag. Add the unsweetened almond milk and Jif Peanut Powder to the frozen ingredients, then purée in a blender until smooth.

We’ve been working on other great smoothie recipes like this one. Here’s one our kids love.

 

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