Posts in "Sponsors"
Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps with Crispy Onions and Garlic

Thank you Vanity Fair® Napkins for sponsoring this post. Take on everyday messes with Vanity Fair® Extra Absorbent Napkins!

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps | Freckled Italian

I don’t know about you guys, but Rob and I very rarely eat at our dining room table. Now that Sophie eats three meals and some snacks, we’ll sit down at the table with her for breakfast and lunch, but since she goes to bed early, she eats dinner early, which means we usually do our own thing for dinner once she’s down.

I always thought when we moved out of our smaller apartments/townhouses and had more space for a table we might sit down for meals, but for the most part when it’s just us, we’re definitely couch diners (or stand-up-at-the-bar eaters). Every night I really look forward to enjoying a simple, but delicious, meal with Rob, catching up at the counter, or watching whatever show we happen to be binging at the time. So, I was excited for the opportunity to partner with Vanity Fair® Extra Absorbent Napkins to share an easy weeknight recipe that can be enjoyed from whatever room you choose!

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps | Freckled Italian

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

  • ¼ of a red onion, sliced thinly

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1 pound of ground beef

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce (or more if you like it spicier)

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • Sesame seeds, for garnish

  • A handful of shredded carrots

  • Half of a cucumber, diced

  • 2-3 tablespoons of rice vinegar

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 6-8 large leaves of lettuce (Romaine, green leaf, or whatever you prefer)

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sliced onion and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Add crushed red pepper and continue to cook until onions and garlic start to get crispy and browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove from pan and set aside.

  2. Add the beef to the pan and cook for 7-8 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break it up into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper and cook until beef is fully cooked and slightly crisp around the edges. Stir in soy sauce and garlic chili sauce. Remove from heat and add sesame oil. Stir once more to combine.

  3. In a separate bowl, toss carrots and cucumber in rice vinegar with a pinch of salt. Set aside until ready to serve.

  4. To assemble the lettuce wraps, arrange lettuce on serving plates and spoon beef onto leaves. Top with crispy onion and garlic, carrots, and cucumber. Garnish with sesame seeds and enjoy right away.

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps with Crispy Onions and Garlic | Freckled Italian

You could substitute ground turkey for the beef or use shrimp, chicken, or thinly sliced steak for this recipe if it sounds better--it can also be made vegetarian if you used cubed tofu or sautéed mushrooms instead of beef! I love soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili garlic sauce together and it works well with a variety of toppings, making this an easy recipe to mix up however you like.

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps | Freckled Italian

And back to this recipe’s sponsor--Vanity Fair® Extra Absorbent Napkins feel luxuriously heavy and can stand up to even a messy lettuce wrap on the couch! They also feel fancy enough for entertaining, which is great since one of my intentions for 2019 is to have friends over more often. Some of my favorite memories are not at the dining room table, but around a kitchen island or the coffee table--I love the thought of having friends gathered comfortably in the living room or around my kitchen peninsula  with their plates and drinks, enjoying an evening together. Thank you Vanity Fair® Napkins for helping make it happen!

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps | Freckled Italian
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Summer Staples: Grilled Shrimp and Cold Rice Salads

This post is sponsored by La Crema. You can find the recipes I talk about below on their blog right here!

Herby Shrimp and Chilled Grain Salad | Freckled Italian
Summer Staples: Grilled Shrimp and Cold Rice Salads | Freckled Italian

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been the world's most amazing hostess--she could feed a crowd with one hand tied behind her back. I think back on Thanksgiving and Christmas with a lot of lovely memories, but the ones that stick out to me the most are in the summer--Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, or really any weekend in Virginia when the sun is out, the grill is hot, and the wine is pouring.

She also always had La Crema Chardonnay chilling in a bucket on the counter--even before I started working with them it was a staple in our house and we served it every single time people came over. (Her love for the brand and its presence in our fridge at all times both encouraged me to approach them over four years ago at Alt Summit in Salt Lake City.)

My family loves to feed people and I'm so glad it's a tradition and a passion that Rob has embraced as well--I love the idea of one day cooking a ton of food for Sophie and her friends when they're home from college every summer. Nowadays we don't do as much entertaining as I'd like to, but when we do I always stick to a few basics that I learned from my mom: flavorful but easy-to-prepare dishes that you can make or at least start ahead of time, using the grill as much as possible to get everyone outside and cook a lot of things at once if you need to, and--of course--a few bottles of La Crema. 

Summer Staples | Freckled Italian

When summer rolls around I love grilling seafood, especially shrimp. I buy the biggest ones I can find and leave the shells on so they don't fall through the grate, and I like to season them simply and then toss them in a ton of fresh herbs--I'm notorious for adding sliced green onion to everything in my kitchen, and grilled shrimp are no exception. Cilantro, dill, parsley, scallions--if it's fresh and green and you can chop it, you bet I'm going to be using it.

Summer Staples | Freckled Italian

Grilled shrimp is my go-to, but my newest favorite summer thing is a cold salad with a nice grain compontent--rice, quinoa, farro, whatever you like. I cook it and cool it and add whatever greens and veggies I have in the fridge. The recipe I shared on the La Crema blog has tomatoes, kale, and arugula, but you could add spinach and cucumbers or swap any other ingredient for something you like better. Even if you aren't entertaining, it's a great dish to throw together on a Sunday evening and enjoy throughout the week.

You can find my recipes for herby grilled shrimp and a chilled salad with rice and quinoa today on the La Crema blog. I live for autumn and often wish away the end of summer, but there's nothing like a July or August cookout with friends and family.

Summer Staples | Freckled Italian

Photos by Cue the Light.

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How I Made Prenatal Vitamins a Priority During My Pregnancy

This post was sponsored by Avion Pharmaceuticals and opinions are my own.

How I Made Prenatal Vitamins a Priority During My Pregnancy | Freckled Italian

I'm so excited to be teaming up with Prenate® vitamins again to talk about the importance of prenatal vitamins. Once again, I can't stress enough how lucky I felt to have a straightforward, uncomplicated pregnancy and then be able to give birth to a healthy baby, so the issue of access to prenatal vitamins has become something I've been really passionate about these past few months.

Maybe it's my family's history of breast cancer or my BRCA gene mutation, but a lot of the time when I would imagine pregnancy and childbirth I always pictured complications that were out of my control, so it was really important to me to try to stay as healthy as possible leading up to getting pregnant and throughout my pregnancy. I focused on my diet, fitness, and actually started taking prenatal vitamins for about a year before we planned to get pregnant, which seems like a long time--but it takes time for folate levels to rise enough to help reduce the risk of birth defects, so it's recommended that you take prenatal vitamins for at least 4 weeks before conception. 1-3 Folic acid is one of the most essential nutrients women can take to protect the health of the baby, lessening the risk of neural tube defects 1-4 , so I really wanted to make sure I gave myself some time to get those levels up.

I think we all know how important it is to keep up with them, but a prenatal vitamin truly is one of the easiest things you can do to take care of yourself and your baby before (and after) he or she even gets here. During pregnancy, drinking enough water and taking my vitamin became the thing I knew I could do and control no matter what other symptoms I may have been feeling. I was super nauseated the first trimester and about half of the second. After that, I had heartburn that really defined what I did (or didn't) eat, so I was able to rest knowing that Sophie was getting the nutrients she needed from my prenatal vitamins, even when my diet was lacking a little bit. Iron is another important mineral that supports the baby's growth, development, and may prevent iron deficiency anemia in pregnant women. 5,6 I still ended up with anemia about halfway through my pregnancy, so my midwife added an iron supplement to my vitamin regimen as well and it took care of it after a few weeks.

And now that I'm nursing, I continue to take prenatal vitamins to ensure that Sophie gets the vitamins and minerals that she needs from me. I pictured my life after baby and it included lots of healthy food and plenty of exercise, but those first few months were a bit of a whirlwind. Between recovering from labor, sleep deprivation, and the crazy hunger I felt from producing breast milk, there were several months where I would eat pretty much whatever you put in front of me. Six months later, I'm finally starting to take control of my diet again, but I'm so glad to have my vitamins to fall back on when my diet and/or lifestyle is less than ideal.

That's just my experience so far, but on a more general note, did you know that women are more likely to take their prenatal vitamins when prescribed by their physician7? And that in many cases they can be covered by insurance? Prescription prenatal vitamins are often made more affordable through Medicaid coverage to women who would not have access to prenatal vitamins through other sources, giving as many women and babies as possible a solid start. In addition, many prescription prenatal vitamins often offer savings coupons to help reduce the cost. I didn't know that prescription prenatal vitamins were a thing, but i love the idea of prescribing vitamins for before, during, and after pregnancy--they're just as important as many other prescription medications, so I think making that shift is so smart.

You can visit Prenate.com to learn more about prescription prenatal vitamins, which I didn't even know about until recently! Thanks again to Avion for sponsoring this blog post--I'm honored to have the opportunity to spread the word about an issue so important.

This post was sponsored by Avion Pharmaceuticals and should not be construed to constitute medical advice. My personal story and opinions are my own. I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. Please talk with your doctor about your individual medical situation.

References:

1. Czeizel AE, Dudás I, Paput L, Bánhidy F. Prevention of neural-tube defects with periconceptional folic acid, methylfolate, or multivitamins? Ann Nutr Metab. 2011;58(4):263–271.
2. Chidambaram B. Folate in pregnancy. Journal of Pediatric Neurosciences. 2012;7(2):81. doi:10.4103/1817-1745.102559.
3. Greenberg JA, Bell SJ, Guan Y, Yu Y. Folic Acid Supplementation and Pregnancy: More Than Just Neural Tube Defect Prevention. Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2011;4(2):52-59.
4. NIH. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Folate. Office of Dietary Supplements, NIH Web site.
http://ods.od.nih.gov/pdf/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional.pdf. Reviewed March 2, 2018. Accessed April 24, 2018.
5. Scholl TO. Maternal Iron Status: Relation to fetal growth, length of gestation and the neonate's endowment. Nutrition reviews. 2011;69(Suppl 1):S23-S29. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00429.x.
6. Raman TR, Devgan A, Sood S, Gupta A, Ravichander B. Low Birth Weight Babies : Incidence and risk factors. Medical Journal, Armed Forces India. 1998;54(3):191-195. doi:10.1016/S0377-1237(17)30539-7.
7. Robison, J. More Women Aware of "Pre"-prenatal Vitamin. Gallup Organization, on behalf of the March of Dimes. http://news.gallup.com/poll/6130/more-women-aware-preprenatal-vitamin.aspx. June 4, 2002. Accessed April 23, 2018.
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