If you’ve been reading my site for some time, you likely know that I do not label the way I eat. I don’t follow any particular diet or identify with any particular eating strategy. I eat whole/real/nourishing foods the majority of the time but I also eat things that don’t fit these descriptors when I want them…I don’t exclude anything from my diet unless I don’t like it. This moderation approach works really, really well for me.

Recently my friend/writer extraordinaire Peter Barrett interviewed me about my book for a local publication called The Chronogram. He really captured what I am about- he called the piece The Moderator!- and I could not be more pleased with the article. I encourage you to read it here.

lemons | www.healthygreenkitchen.com
lemon bars | www.healthygreenkitchen.com

In other news, January was a rough month. It was cold and filled with a lot of bad news. I am hoping for warmer, happier days in February, and these Meyer Lemon Ricotta Bars symbolize that hope.

lemon ricotta bars | www.healthygreenkitchen.com

If super tart is what you seek in a lemon dessert, these may not be for you (try these lemon bars instead). Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular lemons and the ricotta cheese “mellows” these bars, so they won’t make you pucker up. They are bursting with lovely citrus flavor, though; you can find the recipe I used for inspiration over on food52. (The easy crust recipe comes from One Bowl Baking: Simple, From Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts.)

There is sugar in this recipe and as Peter wrote in the Chronogram article, my stance on sugar has really softened in recent years. Though I wrote in my book that it is best avoided, I currently eat sweet foods, such as these lemon bars, without any guilt or worry. Do I eat 5 of them at a time on an empty stomach? No. I cut them very small and eat one or two at a time after a meal. This is moderation in action. You can find my current thoughts on sugar in this post, if you’d like more clarification on this topic.

I sure hope your February is as lovely as these Lemon Ricotta Bars :)

lemon ricotta bars | www.healthygreenkitchen.com
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I am so pleased to share a special announcement today! I’ve partnered with my friends over at MightyNest, an online store specializing in natural, non-toxic products for the kitchen and home, on a series of giveaways you’ll be seeing here on the blog today and in the coming months. The giveaway items all align with topics I wrote about in my book One Simple Change. This really could not be a better fit!

As you may or may not know, One Simple Change is a compilation of 50 ways you can transform your diet, adjust your lifestyle, and overhaul your attitude in order to benefit your health and the health of our planet. The book has been out for a couple of months and I really love getting feedback from readers. One of the chapters people seem to be resonating with quite a bit is the one about drinking water first thing in the morning. So I’m going to excerpt the book a bit here in order to revisit the topic of healthy water intake.

Water First Thing from One Simple Change | Healthy Green Kitchen

Drinking water first thing is really simple to do, and it can really be beneficial. Why drink water first thing in the morning? Our bodies are more than 60 percent water and, unfortunately, this makes us quite prone to dehydration. You can be dehydrated even if you don’t feel thirsty. Having a glass of water first thing and then drinking more throughout the day will help you avoid health issues that may be related to dehydration. Eating foods that contain water (like raw fruits and vegetables) and drinking additional healthy liquids will help as well.

The benefits of drinking water in the morning go beyond the physical, though: I find that having a glass of water right after I wake up makes me feel as if I’ve kicked off the day on the right foot. Since I’ve done something good for myself first thing, I am more likely to continue to make healthy choices as the day goes on.

Know that not everyone needs to have eight 8-oz/240-ml glasses of water every day, though. We all have different needs for water intake based on our size, activity level, our climate, etc. I suggest consuming lots of fruits, vegetables, and healthy drinks, and listening to your body. Drink water when you are thirsty, and pay special attention to drinking more when exercising vigorously or spending time outside in heat. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your urine. When you are properly hydrated, it should be very light yellow (though certain vitamin supplements and vegetables like beets do color your urine, rendering it an unreliable indicator).

Avoid drinking water when what you are is hungry (to fill you up so you won’t eat a lot). That’s not useful and it may even be harmful. When you are hungry, your body needs food, not water. Not drinking enough water isn’t healthy, but guzzling glass after glass of water when you are not at all thirsty is not exactly a healthy habit, either! You can, indeed, drink too
 much water, and doing so may be dangerous: when you drink far more water than your body needs over a short period of time, you can dilute the concentration of sodium in your blood.

Water First Thing from One Simple Change | Healthy Green Kitchen

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Glad in conjunction with their #SAVEITSUNDAY program. With #SAVEITSUNDAY, Glad hopes to educate the public about the consequences of food waste, and I am proud they’ve asked me to be a part of the program. I am being compensated to share my #SAVEITSUNDAY experiences; all opinions are 100% my own.

Potatoes!

scone

My family loves them and I buy them a lot. The best way to store them has always been a bit of a mystery to me, though…I’ve never been sure whether or not you are supposed to keep them in the refrigerator.

I’m really learning a lot since I started doing these monthly posts in conjunction with Glad. According to the food storage experts over there, potatoes should not be kept in the refrigerator. And once they’ve been peeled and/or cut, they should be placed into a large bowl and fully submerged in water, then covered with plastic wrap, like Glad ClingWrap, or perhaps a tea towel. (To learn more about the best ways to prep and store your foods, see Glad’s Protection Pointers.)

Prepping and protecting potatoes means they’ll stay fresher longer. This is good news, because it means less chance of food waste! And now that your potatoes are going to last longer, you can enjoy them in many different ways: bake them, dice and pan-fry them, roast them, mash them. You get the picture…you can do so much with potatoes.

One of my favorite things to do with potatoes lately is to use them in this easy and delicious Shepherd’s Pie Recipe.

mashed potatoes for shepherd's pie recipe | healthy green kitchen
peas and carrots for shepherd's pie recipe | healthy green kitchen
beef and veggies for shepherd's pie recipe | healthy green kitchen
shepherd's pie before baking

Shepherd’s Pie may be one of those classic, basic recipes that everyone already knows how to make…but maybe not? You see, somehow I got to be 43 years old I had never made Shepherd’s Pie before a few months ago, when I happened on this recipe from Simply Recipes. Just FYI: true Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb (or mutton), while Cottage Pie is made with beef. So technically this recipe is for a Cottage Pie when made with beef…but, use ground lamb and it’s a Shepherd’s Pie.

shepherd's pie recipe | healthy green kitchen

Got it? Ok, here’s the recipe.
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