Monthly Archives: February 2015

Pros and Cons of Blue Apron

*Please note that I have no affiliation with Blue Apron, and I did not receive any gifts, money, or any other type of compensations for writing this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 


I recently tried out Blue Apron, a meal kit service that delivers ingredients and recipes to your house, and I wanted to share my experience. Fun fact according to their website: French apprentice chefs wear blue aprons, which have become “symbols of lifelong learning in cooking.” What a perfect name for the company! Anyway, on to the pros and cons of Blue Apron . . .

Pro: Delivery. I was a little worried about the meat, fish, and poultry staying at the correct temperature while it was sitting on my porch, but everything worked out well. The food arrived on time and was kept fresh in its packaging. Bonus points: you get to keep the super cold icepacks inside. I definitely plan on reusing those.

Con: Packaging. There was SO much packaging. If you’re environmentally conscious, be prepared for the amount of waste. Some of it is recyclable, but I still ended up throwing a lot wrappings in the trash.

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Pro: Less food waste. In contrast to concerns about the package, the ingredients are perfectly portioned so that you don’t end up throwing out a bunch of cilantro or something because the recipe called for a tiny amount.

Pro: Recipe cards. The recipes cards are great! They include a brief intro about the dish and list the ingredients, estimated calories, and estimated cooking time on the front.

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Pro: Recipe cards (continued). The back of the cards include step by step directions with pictures! I love having these cards so that I can make my favorite meals again.

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Pro: High quality, fresh ingredients. All of the ingredients I received for each meal were fresh and delicious. I was especially pleased with the quality of the proteins. The labeling was great too because I had never used some of the ingredients before.

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Con: Prep and cook time. The meals I received from Blue Apron took forever to prep and cook. Ok so by forever I mean about an hour. But I really don’t have an hour just to cook dinner during the week. The estimated cooking times are way off in my opinion (unless you’re a professional chef or something). It’s more of a weekend cooking project if you’re an amateur like me.

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Pro: Trying new things. The Blue Apron meals had me trying all sorts of new things. I tried recipes from different cultures and regions that I’ve ever cooked at home before such as the Southeast Asian dish featured in this post. I also tried new ingredients and cooking techniques. For example (see below) banana leaf-steaming cod. I never would have thought of that or tried it on my own if it wasn’t part of Blue Apron. 

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Pro: Presentation. The Blue Apron meals definitely consider presentation in addition to taste. The recipe cards include brief instructions on how to plate the meal. It was a fine dining experience here in the Pinkerton household.  🙂

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Banana Leaf-Steamed Cod with Spice Rice, Yu Choy & Coconut

Pro: Variety. I didn’t get pictures of every meal I tried for the few weeks I tested it out, but I wanted to share a couple more of the meals I made. Please see the meals below. It’s also important to note that you can specify what types of meals you do or don’t want in terms of dietary preferences. For example, you can let Blue Apron know that you don’t want any meals with red meat or you only want vegetarian dishes, etc. I didn’t put in any special restrictions because Derek and I eat a little bit of everything.

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Chicken Charlemagne with Roasted Root Vegetables & Parsnip-Potato Mash

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Shrimp & Pineapple Fried Rice

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Crispy Brown Butter Gnocchi with Meyer Lemon & Brussels Sprouts

Pro/Con: Price. The price issue depends on how you look at it. The 2-person plan costs about $60/week and includes 3 meals which comes out to $10/meal per person. Considering the quality of the ingredients and cost of delivery included in that price, it’s really not bad at all. It’s still cheaper than eating out for those meals. However, I suspect most people are like me and spend far less than $10/meal per person with grocery shopping and meal planning. I spend about $80-90/week on groceries to cover all of our meals except for the 2 that we eat out each week, so spending $60 on three dinners doesn’t make sense for us financially.

Con: Subscription. Word to the wise– Blue Apron is a subscription. They will automatically continue to send you food weekly unless you opt out, and you must opt out of the deliver at least 1 week in advance. This is how I ended up doing Blue Apron for 3 weeks instead of 1. It’s my fault for not checking into it more closely, but it can definitely be a little tricky. According to the website, you can go up to 6 weeks without a delivery.

Pro: Fun. If you like to cook, Blue Apron is really fun. I especially enjoyed cooking the meals on the weekends when I had more time. I loved trying out new foods and techniques, and it was exciting to receive everything you needed to cook without having to go grocery shopping.

Final Verdict

Though I truly enjoyed the experience, I will not be subscribing to Blue Apron. From a financial standpoint, it does not make sense for me to use the service often. I was also scared off by it being a subscription. I’m afraid I would forget to decline the meals and end up spending way more than I intended. I do, however, plan on reactivating my account every few months to try it out again for 1 week. The ingredients are seasonal, so I’d love to try it in the spring, summer, and fall; it’s just not something I want to have to do every 6 weeks.

Reader Question: Does anyone else have experience with Blue Apron or another meal kit delivery service? Is there a company that you like better? I’m always looking for new suggestions. 🙂

Tools That Will Help You Meet Your Health and Fitness Goals

I was introduced to Oscar Insurance, a health insurance provider in New Jersey and New York, to write a post about tools that help me reach my health and fitness goals. Oscar recently started providing their members with Misfit bands to help them reach fitness goals. According to the Oscar Health Insurance website, “Sync with the Oscar app to count your steps and earn $1 when you hit your daily goal. We’ll personalize your goal to keep you moving. You can get up to $240 each year just for being active.” Pretty cool, right?

I thought the post was a good fit for Brown is the New Pink. I always appreciate recommendations for new apps and anything that can help me stay on track to reach my goals, and I hope that y’all will too.

Let’s start off with tools that I use . . .

RunKeeper (App)

RunKeeper is a great app for my fellow runners, walkers, or cyclists. I’ve been in the gym more as of late due to the insanely cold weather (I live in the South; what is this single digit temperatures business?!?), but I use this app when I run outside. It’s a GPS fitness tracker that measures your pace, distance, and time. The app will actually let you know your pace and distance every 5 minutes during the run, which is great if you’re aiming for a certain speed. The GPS feature also makes it so that you can turn any activity into a route to do again later.

RunKeeper tracks performance over time and notifies you of new personal “bests” and milestones. You can make detailed running plans or goals such as running 3x per week. It will send you friendly (and sometimes passive-aggressive) reminders to run. I got this same message below once, and it cracked me up. Nothing like my phone giving me a guilt trip.

MyFitnessPal (App/Website)

This app/website is perfect for tracking what you eat. MFP estimates your daily calorie need and can be used to track both intake and burning of calories. It can actually sync with other apps like RunKeeper to track calories burned during exercise.

MFP is easy to use and simply involves inputing what you eat. There is a HUGE database of foods to choose from. You can break it down by breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, which is helpful for seeing what time of day you may be struggling with healthy eating choices. I can tell from mine that afternoon snacking is my toughest time of day. You can also group foods together to make meals to make your tracking easier. For example, I have a small rotation of breakfasts that I saved as meals instead of entering each individual item every time. Finally, my favorite feature is the macro breakdown. You can set specific nutrition goals based on diets recommended by your doctor or nutritionist. I’m starting to look at my macro nutrient breakdown more than my calories, as it is often more nutritionally telling for me.

Garmin Forerunner 10 (Watch)

The Garmin Forerunner 10 is a simple (and cute) GPS watch. Similar to the RunKeeper app it tracks distance, speed/pace and calories. I prefer my watch to RunKeeper for longer runs so that I don’t necessarily have to lug my phone around. The watch also identifies your personal records such as fastest mile/5k and longest distance. One of my favorite features is that it automatically alerts you with a beep and displays your pace when you complete each mile. The watch also has virtual pacer and walk/run features if you’re looking to run at a specific pace or starting out with a mix of running and walking intervals, respectively. The coolest thing about this watch is that you can  upload your runs to Garmin Connect to see your run on a map and get more detail on each mile. It even includes elevation, which is perfect if your training for a hilly race.

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Now onto a few tools I’d like to try . . .

Fitbit (Activity Tracker)

If you haven’t already seen this, Fitbit is a wearable activity tracker. During the day it tracks steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, stairs climbed and active minutes. At night it tracks sleep. One of the coolest things about Fitbit is that it wirelessly syncs with most mobile devices and apps, including RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal. I would be really curious to see my steps, distance, and flights of stairs measured. I’m running around the hospital all day visiting patients, and it would be neat to see stats on my daily activity at work.

I got my dad a Fitbit for his birthday, and he liked it so much that he got my mom one for Christmas. Let me just tell you, my mom is definitely motivated to meet her activity goals. On more than one occasion I caught her walking in circles around the house trying to meet her step goals for the day. Haha!

Fitocracy (App)

Fitocracy is an app/website that can be used to track exercises at the gym. You can create workout plans or if your like me and need some guidance there are pre-made workouts that you can follow. Apparently the app also uses “gamification” to motivate users by assigning points based on the fitness benefits of each activity tracked. Gaining enough points helps you to “level up.” I don’t fully under stand the gaming part of the app, but I’m definitely curious and want to check it out.

*For the sake of transparency, I did not receive any gifts, money, or any other type of compensation for writing this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Reader question: Are there any apps or tools that help you reach your fitness or health goals? I’d love to explore some new ones!

 

The Root of All That Is Wrong

This weekend my friend Caroline and I headed to downtown Raleigh for HKonJ’s Moral March. HKonJ stands for Historic Thousands on Jones St People’s Assembly Coalition. The purpose of the Moral March on Raleigh is “to hold a mass people’s assembly to reaffirm its commitment to the 14 Point People’s Agenda and to hold lawmakers accountable to the people of North Carolina.” The agenda addresses public education, health care reform, living wages, environmental justice, voting rights, and more.

Though I marched for many reasons, I was most motivated by supporting Medicaid expansion in North Carolina. I find it truly repugnant that the leaders of this state will not expand federally-funded health care coverage to 500,000 of North Carolina’s low-income citizens. It sends the damning message that some lives matter less, and a political statement is more important than those lives.  Reflecting on the fallacious notion that some people are more valuable than others made me think of this quote:

“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. ” -Paul Farmer

This is why social justice is the keystone of social work. I believe my most important role is to make it known and understood that all lives, especially the lives of those who are disenfranchised, matter.

P.S. If you don’t know much about Paul Farmer, I highly recommend Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.

Birthday Fun {Weekend Recap}

Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t posted since the end of January. Last week was insane at work. I had my patient case load (which is more than enough to keep me busy), and I was covering for another social worker. Whew! I’m glad it’s over. This week is already so much better.

Enough about work though. I’m writing because I want to share some of my weekend. I celebrated my 25th birthday!

Well, actually my coworkers kicked off the celebrations on Thursday by bringing me this delicious, gigantic piece of strawberry shortcake from Nantucket Grill here in Durham.

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Personally I think their food is just OK for the price, with the exception of their cake. It is AMAZING. They have a good variety, too. It’s definitely worth checking it out if you’re local.

On Friday I took a half-day at work. I decided to take the afternoon off to get my hair cut and have a little “me time.” I was starving when I left work, so I headed to one of my favorite restaurants in downtown Durham: Parker and Otis.

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It’s conveniently right around the corner from where I get my hair cut. I got the three salad plate with tortellini pasta salad, fruit, and curry chicken salad. So good!

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After lunch I walked down the street to get a much-needed trim and highlights. While my hair did its thing, I read trashy magazines and drank wine. Yes, my hair salon offers complimentary adult beverages, and yes, I drank wine at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. I was celebrating, and it was 5 o’clock somewhere. 🙂

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I spent the rest of the afternoon laying on the couch watching Friends. Derek got home later in the evening (thanks med school), and we headed out for a late dinner at Sake Bomb, our favorite sushi place. In addition to sushi, I got this fancy drink. It’s called a “Melon Ball.”

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On Saturday, my actual birthday, I received several birthday phone calls, cards, and Facebook notes. Nothing makes you feel more loved than hearing from friends and family. My parents even posted this collage! The outfits are excellent.

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Derek and I slept in that morning and then headed to Target to pick up a few things. In typical Target fashion this resulted in us walking out of the store with way more than we planned to get. #1 rule of Target: always get a cart. You will need it.

After our Target trip we got outside for a walk. It was a beautiful sunny day, which is amazing considering my birthday typically coincides with terrible weather.

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By the time we got back we had worked up an appetite. Derek took me out for lunch at The Original Q Shack. 

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I would argue that the best part of living in the South is barbecue.

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After lunch Derek and I relaxed at home for the rest of the afternoon. He had to be at the hospital at 6am on Sunday for work, so I headed over to my best friend Jenna’s house for some more birthday fun while he got a good night’s sleep.

Jenna, my other friends Katy and Julie, and I spent the evening eating pizza, drinking wine, and watching funny movies. I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend the evening. 🙂 (Side note: I love the name of this wine we drank.)

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On Sunday morning Julie, Jenna, and I went to church and grabbed brunch at Relish. I had never been there before since I’m not out in Raleigh that often, and the food was great. I got a BLT with fried egg, and it was the best brunch I’ve had in a long time.

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Loved hanging out with these two!

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Finally, Jenna and I wrapped up the weekend with hiking at Umstead. The weather here was incredible on Sunday. It was sunny and 70 degrees!

We found some rocks that reminded us of the cover of The LIttle Mermaid and decided to recreate Ariel’s pose.

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Nailed it!

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It was a great birthday weekend, and I’m so thankful for my wonderful husband, family, and friends who helped me celebrate. Here’s to making 25 the best year yet!

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