Health Food Haul – Ideas for Healthy Groceries

So you’ve made the effort to eat more healthy foods, and you’re ready to shop. Where do you shop, and where do you start? What’s worth splurging on, and what’s worth buying the regular or generic brand? I’ve picked my favorite products and brands at my favorite stores.

Whole Foods

After Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017, there was a noticeable decrease in a lot of their produce and meat prices. I like to make special trips to Whole Foods a few times a month (since it’s sort of out of the way), and these are a few of my favorites.

Miso

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Miso is fermented soy-bean paste – derived from a legume, it’s not for the strict paleo dieters, but it’s gluten-free and loaded with flavor. Any time I’m making an Asian-style marinade, this is a definite staple because it’s a huge punch of flavor. You can find it in red or yellow “flavor”, depending on your preference, and I particularly love the brand Westbrae Natural.

Plant-Based Protein Powder

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Calling all Vegans! For the naysayers that lament you’ll never get enough protein, here’s your rebuttal. I love this brand of protein – PlantFusion Vanilla Bean Flavored Nature’s Most Complete Plant Protein. It has a really light flavor, so you can really add it into anything, such as smoothies, desserts, etc. It’s considered a “complete” protein, so you get everything you need.

Olive Oils, Vinegars and Sauces

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This one is more of an adventure than it is a requirement… I love sauces. Truly, I will put sauce on anything. I love aioli, I love gravy, I love dipping sauce. Whole Foods stocks a few of my personal staples, which I love… California Ranch Olive Oil (buy domestic!) has this flowery peppery taste that I have to have when using EVOO. Balsamic is another staple, and I often pick up a bottle of Napa Valley Naturals Organic Balsamic Vinegar, for salads and reductions. In a pinch, of I don’t have the time to make my own salad dressing, Primal Kitchen Green Goddess Dressing and Marinade is another favorite I like to keep on hand.

Ground Buffalo and Bison

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In my home town, we had a restaurant that actually made it to the Travel Channel, called Half Moon. It was known for sourcing “unusual game” on it’s menu, such as kangaroo, buffalo, alligator or other food not commonly found within the US. Nature’s Rancher Ground Buffalo is great to pick up when I’m trying to recreate Half Moon’s “buffa-loaf” – a tasty meatloaf made with buffalo, rather than ground beef. Nature’s Rancher is one of the “Animal Welfare Approved” farms in the US, where further info can be found at https://animalwelfareapproved.us.

Wegmans

Wegman’s is my grocery store superhero. I get so excited when I’m able to stroll around and get my groceries, bulk nuts/candies, AND BOOZE! Plus, if I’m absolutely famished, I can get things at the food bar, or restaurant. It’s the mecca, the toy store, the everything for foodies.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts

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These have to be the best thing ever. I have a food processor that I love using, but for whatever reason, I can’t stand using it for brussels sprouts. I don’t want them paper thin, but rather a little chunky… and Wegmans sells these glorious bags of pre-shredded brussies. You can find Wegmans Cleaned and Cut Shaved Brussels in the produce section. LOVE IT.

Almond Milk

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I can’t take credit for this one. My friend started getting this brand after Wegmans discontinued their generic store brand (we called just to be sure… it really was tragic….), and not only is the bottle cute, but it really is the tastiest. Califia Farms Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk is carrageenan free, and is so far the simplest almond milk I can find without making my own. For the record – carrageenan is derived from red seaweed and is commonly used as a binding agent or additive in foods, or a thickening agent. Carrageenan is not FDA regulated, though side effects with the digestive system have been documented.

Organic Produce Selection

This isn’t any one particular product, but I find the organic selection at Wegmans to be a lot wider than Whole Foods. I’m not sure if it’s product placement or marketing, but I also feel like there are cheaper options for little things that add up, such as organic herbs, or veggies I don’t normally buy a lot of. Highly recommend.

Giant (Martin’s)

Giant is my usual go-to, out of convenience. I will say that I think they do an exceptionally good job at stocking a lot of organic items I prefer, and if they don’t stock it, management actually takes requests to start stocking certain items… which has worked out in my favor a few times. If you look enough, you can find pantry staples I use in my ingredients right around your local grocery store if these other big-chain retailers aren’t feasible! Giant even has their own natural/organic brand, called Nature’s Promise. I love the selection it offers.

Tahini

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Other stores have good brands I’m sure, but I am a big fan of this brand because it’s unsalted. A quick stop to Giant and I can stock up on enough Woodstock tahini to make whatever my heart desires…. like this Garlic Tahini Kale Salad…. 🙂

Low Sodium Chicken Broth

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This speaks for itself. Beef and vegetable broth not pictured, but I can pay a fraction of what some of the other brands at Whole Foods and Wegmans charge for organic and anti-biotic free chicken broth. I typically start with low-sodium options to limit my salt, that way I can add to the dish later if necessary.

Maple Syrup

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This stuff can really cost a fortune. I really only use maple syrup as a sweetener in recipes to get that nutty flavor, as I think it’s too sweet to eat on waffles and pancakes. This is just enough to last me a few months, as I use it sparingly.

Diced Tomatoes

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I have about 4 of these cans on hand at any given point. I use them for Caprese Chicken, Curried Chicken Meatballs, and even my fresh salsa! I’ve spent hours chopping tomatoes into little pieces, and I have to say this tastes just as fresh as if I cut the tomato myself. It just saves a LOT more time!

Local Markets

Some things are just better left to the local markets, made one at a time, and with love. A few favorites sourced locally near me, below!

Eggs

it’s a life dream of mine to have chickens on my would-be horse farm… but I’ll settle for local eggs in the meantime. Harvest Market, one of my favorite places, is my go-to for local goodies. I learned (a lot later in life than I probably should have) that brown eggs come from brown chickens, so for no other reasons than purely aesthetics, I love to get brown eggs from my beloved brown chickies. The local farms that Harvest Market sources their eggs from let their chickens roam and live their best lives.

Honey

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I like eating local honey for a number of reasons. One brand near me, Walt’s Swarmbustin’ Honey, is made right down the street by local bees. Local bees means local pollen, and local pollen means local allergies… which means if I’m eating local pollen, I’m building immunity to it. In my smoothies, I’ll also by the pollen kernels from Walt’s, for an extra kick. So far, so good! ATTNit should be noted that if you have any life-threatening allergies to bees, bee stings or anything bee-related, you should consult your doctor before starting this. It’s an unusual link, but not worth the risk!

Kombucha

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I’m finicky about this. I really think there’s a difference in taste/quality of small-batch kombucha that makes it special. A few local brands that I get at Harvest Market (or my local farmer’s market in KSQ) are Baba’s Bucha, and Inspired Brews. Both have Unique flavors, and who doesn’t love a good dose of probiotics?

Not sure where to start in your area? Visit www.localharvest.org to check out local and seasonal markets that source your next favorite produce, goodies or grocery staples. You can search based on zip code, or for what you’re specifically looking for, such as co-ops, CSA’s, markets.

Enjoy!

-S

Watermelon Salad with Feta, Basil and Mint (Keto-Friendly!)

We’re having a cold spell recently… and I don’t hate it. There’s something about sweating before you even leave the house that just seems wrong. my dog is happier, I can wear better outfits to work…. it just works out better.

Now that I’m so close to a dog park for the summer, I take Sydney and walk over to the park so she can make friends and  get some exercise. She is so out of shape… that makes two of us (at least cardio). I probably couldn’t run for longer than 5-10 minutes at this point, but it’s probably worth it to start. There was at least two dozen dogs in and out of the dog field, and Sydney made a bunch of new friends.

I am also ready to eat some more garden food!!! All my little herblets are growing so well, I’m so excited. We had an abundance of basil in a giant flowerpot so I wanted to make something fresh like caprese… I just didn’t have mozzarella. Use what you got, yo. I’ll put a jalapeno in anything, it’s just the best. I’m not a big fan of feta cheese, but it definitely has the right briny flavor to make this salad work with the sweet watermelon and spicy jalapeno.

Short and sweet. Enjoy this recipe!

Watermelon Salad with Feta, Basil and Mint (Keto-Friendly!)

prep time: 20 min

cook time: n/a

serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of semi-ripe watermelon, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, diced into small pieces
  • 2 small English cucumbers, peeled and diced into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup of feta, small crumbles, plus more if desired
  • 1 large jalapeno, minced, ribs seeds and stems removed
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • pinch Himalayan sea salt

Directions

  1. Combine all fresh ingredients in a large bowl. Mix gently, so as to not bruise or break the watermelon and tomato.
  2. Drizzle with balsamic, adding more if desired. Season with a pinch of sea salt.

Best served right away, or brought to room temperature (to catch all the flavors!)

Enjoy 🙂

-S

Buffalo Turkey Meatballs (Paleo!)

Winner, winner! TURKEY DINNER!

Happy Monday, y’all. This has been one of the Monday-est Monday’s ever. I’ve been waiting for the weekend for what feels like 12 years. Then all of the sudden it’s Monday. That, and the days are made progressively longer by doing the whole keto thing. If you aren’t familiar with Ketosis and the Ketogenic “diet”, definitely read up on it… here is a good book to start.

I think what’s most interesting about this “diet” is that most people compare it to the Atkins diet. If you recall, Atkins was popular in the 90’s and I think everyone’s parents tried it at least once. It was controversial because of the “war on Fat”, when Ancel Keys proclaimed that eating fat made you, well, fat. That is so false. The link of consuming fat with heart disease was actually filled with incorrect inferences and cherry-picked information, and people just stuck with it. After all, if people don’t want to “be fat”, why would they eat it? And down the slippery slope we go.

The Ketogenic Diet and Atkins are similar in that they reduce carbs, but are done so a bit differently. The ketogenic diet was founded back in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder of the Mayo Clinic, and he used it to treat epilepsy. It focused on high fats, a fair amount of protein and the low carbs familiar with Atkins. By reducing your carbs as a source of energy, your glycogen reserves are depleted (as your body can only store that for +/- 48 hours), and it turns to fat as a means of energy consumption. Your stored fat is converted into ketones, which your body uses for energy. This is beneficial if you’re trying to lose fat, but also if you have a difficult time managing your blood sugar, as this increases your insulin sensitivity and lower your glucose levels.

The Atkins diet also reduces carbs, but does so in a step-based process that allows you to reintroduce carbs back into your diet as a form of weight maintenance. The science is the same as the ketogenic diet, but the perception behind this diet was that it was a quick fix, and that you risk gaining your weight back upon eating a high amount of carbs again.

To each their own — I feel better, stronger and I have more clarity when I eat fewer carbs, so that’s what I stick to. with that said… these were born out of a need to eat Frank’s Hot Sauce. I love Frank’s hot sauce, I love buffalo anything. That, and while my brother was home from college, I wanted to make him something that tasted “late night drunk food”, but didn’t leave you feeling like a slug when you woke up.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you… Buffalo Turkey Meatballs. Yaammm.

Buffalo Turkey Meatballs (Paleo!)

prep time: 20 min

cook time: 25 min

Makes about 12-14 meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • half container of sliced brown mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, plus separate 1/4 cup set aside
  • 1 heaping tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 tsp salt (this is conservative), plus more to taste
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 2 tbsp almond flour
  • 2 heaping tbsp scallions, green and white parts, sliced thin

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat a tbsp of oil or your preferred fat over medium heat. sauté onions until translucent, about 5-6 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add your mushrooms and sauté for another 4-5 minutes, until soft. remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together your turkey breast, mushrooms, onions, egg, almond flour and scallions. Lastly, add your hot sauce.
  3. The mixture may be quite wet — if you feel you need to add more almond  flour, do so 1 tsp at a time until the mixture is able to hold its shape when rolled into a meatball.
  4. On a cookie sheet with a greased wire rack, set your meatballs about 1-2 inches apart. The rack is optional — I find that these run a bit as the moisture burns out, and I don’t like to drain my cookie sheet halfway through to get them to crisp. Bake until starting to brown, about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, as the meatballs are baking, mix together your remaining hot sauce and ghee. Season with salt, to taste. Drizzle over the meatballs and serve.

Enjoy!

-S

Full Moons…. and Zesty Ginger Sesame Chicken Wings (Paleo!)

Happy Monday…. um, Tuesday! Definitely feels like a Monday, but that kind of thing usually happens over a long weekend.

How was everyone’s Memorial Day? Ours was just crud weather in the mid-Atlantic… but I sort of feel as though the weather in general has been pretty bad. I also feel as though I’ve prematurely aged mentally where I insist the weather/flies/mosquitos/hurricanes/snow/potholes/pollen/life in general gets harder or worse each year. I’ll have to press the reset button on that…. that’s not good energy to be putting out there.

Friday was a busy day, too. I worked from home — after a flurry of appointments, I finally had a chance to COOK STUFF!!! Not that I haven’t been cooking, I’ve just been making food that’s much more palatable to my family. I’ve been cooking a lot of non-paleo, non-vegan and non-keto foods since we’re all around more. I can definitely tell a difference with my body, and it does not like it. My jeans don’t, either. Oh also, I forgot how much I like beer? Yeah, this weekend wasn’t good for that.

In other news, we’ve got an interesting Full Moon. This one falls under Sagittarius, which is the best opportunity to give us a fresh perspective.

Is there anything you’ve been struggling to wrap your head around? Have you been wrestling with thoughts that you just can’t seem to get behind? This is an amazing time to really gain a different lens and to garner better insight to everything going on in your life. Sagittarius energy is really about building on what you already know and already have, and broadening  your horizons. What have you done so far that’s really propelled you towards where you want to go? How are you going to use this to get where you’re going next?

This sounds vague, but it really isn’t. It applies most closely to whatever you’re experiencing in life. If there’s something you’ve been waiting to do, wait no more. If you’re waiting to take a risk, move somewhere, take a job, make a big decision, splurge on a vacation, this is the perfect time to start the momentum on that and get it moving. Reevaluate your goals to make sure they still fit you, and to check your state of mind to ensure you’re an open book for growth.

Onto the foodies…. these wings have made an appearance in quite literally everyone’s house this weekend. I made them. All. Weekend. I love them! The key is keeping a bit of the marinade separate and brushing it on right before serving so they keep that really tasty briny and gingery flavor. Try these out on the grill… I whole heartedly believe that good wings always belong on the grill. Plus, while chicken wings certainly aren’t the bare essentials of paleo eating, who doesn’t love a good wing? YUM.

Zesty Ginger Sesame Chicken Wings (Paleo!)

prep time: 20 active min, plus marinating time

cook time: 20 min

Serves anywhere from 1-5 people, depending on your appetite

Ingredients

  • 2 packages organic or all natural wings (separated into wings and drumettes,
  • 1 cup coconut aminos
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 stalks of scallions, green and white parts, sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste (or miso, if not strict paleo)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (black and white preferred for aesthetics, but any color will do)

Directions

  1. Whisk together your tahini and coconut aminos in a large bowl first to emulsify.
  2. Once the sauce is thoroughly mixed, add the remaining ingredients to the bowl. It should taste VERY briny — chicken absorbs a lot of the salty flavor, so it should have enough zest to really taste salty. Set aside a 1/2 cup of the mixture in a small bowl.
  3. Place your chicken wings in a bag, pour your sauce over them and marinate in the fridge for at least an hour, up to 24 hours. Refrigerate your separate sauce as well.
  4. Once ready to cook, preheat your grill to 400 degrees. We want high heat to make sure the skin is crisp.
  5. Place the wings on the grill, about 1 inch apart. Turn as needed, once the wings darken and appear blackened. They aren’t necessarily burnt — the caramelization from the coconut aminos will just make them appear darker.
  6. Continue to turn until thoroughly browned on all sides, about 15-20 minutes in total.
  7. Remove from heat, and brush with remaining sauce. Garnish with a pinch of scallions.

Enjoy!

-S

Instant Pot Meal! Curried Chicken Salad (Paleo)

Well, well, well – LONG TIME NO CHAT! A lot has been going on this last month – I’ve been MIA and I feel terrible that I haven’t posted anything for you all to make. I moved at the end of April in preparation to build my house, I had a wedding I traveled for, and just general work busyness. I finally had some time to share my recent food adventures, let alone COOK something. I’ve taken a real liking to my Instant Pot, recently. I don’t know about you guys, but crockpot chicken is the best. I’m talking fall-apart-on-your-fork, melt-in-your-mouth chicken made from 8 hours of slow simmering in some juice.

Well… imagine my dismay when I actually used my Instant Pot for something easy, like chicken simmering in chicken broth? Life-changing…. Yes. Sometimes overlooking the simplest things is where we go wrong.

So I decided to throw a bunch of chicken breast in there, set it to cook for 35 minutes, and I was not disappointed. I let it cool and it took MOMENTS to shred with my fork for this recipe, and that is so satisfying. Literally. It is the best thing. I hate shredding chicken because it’s always clumpy. No more clumpy chicken, now! It’s the little things in life.

You could really take this in any direction… a local health food store has something similar, which inspired me to add my own twist to it. I’ll keep this short so y’all can get to eating… yum.

Curried Chicken Salad (Paleo!)

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 35 min

Serves 6-8 as an app, or 4-5 with sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 2 large chicken breasts, trimmed (no one likes that rubbery part. Take that off, yikes)
  • 2 tbsp golden raisins
  • Handful of roasted cashews, to taste
  • 4 large scallion stalks, sliced thin (green and white parts included)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp red curry powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • ½ to 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp Coconaise (or other paleo mayo brand), plus more if needed
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1-2 stalks of celery, sliced thin (OPTIONAL – I hate celery and would never include it.. but I realize that I’m the weirdo for that)

Directions

  1. Place your chicken breast in your Instant Pot and add your broth until chicken breasts are just about covered. Secure your lid set to high (or Meat setting) for 35 minutes, lock your vent, and start.
  2. While your chicken is cooking, mix together your cumin, turmeric, garlic, coriander, chili powder, parsley, salt and pepper. One thing to remember is that the chicken tends to absorb a lot of the sodium in things like this – I usually err on the heavier side of salting my sauce so that once the flavors meld, it’s the right taste. Add your scallions, reserving a pinch for garnish later.
  3. Once your chicken is done and you’ve released the steam from your Instant Pot, carefully remove with a slotted spoon so as to not bring much juice over with it and place in a large bowl. Discard broth (or save for your puppy like I did 😊) Shred with a fork to desired consistency.
  4. Once cooled, add your mayo mixture to your chicken. If you feel the chicken is too dry, feel free to add a teaspoon more mayo, followed by an additional sprinkle of curry.
  5. Gently fold in your cashews and raisins and mix thoroughly (as well as your celery, if using). Garnish with pinch of scallions and serve.

Enjoy!

-S<<
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Entertaining Ideas, Part II: Bacon-Braided Asparagus (Paleo!)

Spring MAY have finally sprung, this week. We have forecasted temperatures in the 70’s, and it’s not even weird! Hoping that good weather is here to stay for us. I heard birds this morning, our front flowerbeds have blooms, and the horse’s coats are finally growing out to their spring coat. Party time!

I’ve had a few fun purchases come up, all TOTALLY different… but let me give you an idea of what I’ve been doing:

5 spools of cotton cord rope. Bought the whole darned store out. Currently making a plant hanger… will let you all know how it comes out

A 10 inch ring so I can make another dream-catcher… TBD, y’all will love this (when will I have time to do these things??? Literally laughing out loud as I type this)

A saree….! To wear for a wedding I’m going to in two weeks in North Carolina

A shedding blade for my dog because our hardwood looks like carpet at the moment

What’s on my list though in the immediate future is just getting friends together to enjoy the warmer weather, and food. I can’t wait to do some wine-tastings,  some fun outdoor barbequing, making crafts outdoors, and just fun springtime stuff! I shared a delicious cocktail idea with you guys last week, so with your drinks you’ll need some hors d’oeurves to go with it.

I think asparagus gets a really bad rap and I just don’t know why. Aside from stinky-tinkle (sorry), they’re just delicious, not to strong of a flavor, and are just an all-around really good veggie to have on hand. To that, why not just… wrap it in bacon? I steamed a bunch of asparagus, just to the point of being soft but not mushy. Add a little bacon, crisp them up, and you’ve got yourself a delicious treat that’s easy to eat at a party.

Entertaining Ideas, Part II: Bacon-Braided Asparagus (Paleo!)

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min

Makes about 16-17 stalks

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches (lbs) of thin asparagus, washed and trimmed, about 32 stalks
  • 1 lb of thick-cut bacon (organic, nitrate-free, if possible!)
  • ¼ cup water

Directions:

  1. Trim your asparagus about 1 ½-2 inches from the bottom, discarding the tough part of the stem.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once brought to temperature, add your asparagus, and your ¼ cup of water. Cover with a lid and let steam for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the top layer of asparagus is moved to directly to the pan. Once soft, remove from heat and set aside on a plate to dry and cool.
  3. In the meantime, take your bacon and cut each piece in half, length-wise. Try to keep in as clean of a cut piece as possible. If finished prior to asparagus, place back in the fridge to keep it cool. (colder bacon is easier to work with, optional!)
  4. Once your bacon is cut and asparagus are cooled, take two stalks of asparagus and one piece of bacon. Starting at the top, weave the bacon under one piece and over the other, alternating sides like a braid. If your bacon is longer than your stalks, make the bacon weave more tightly through the asparagus stalks from the top.
  5. Once finished, heat your large skillet back up over medium heat and saute your stalks, flipping once browned on each side (about 3-4 minutes). Remove from heat, blot any excess drippings with a paper towel and serve!**

**uncooked stalks can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days prior. If serving for a party, these can be cooked and kept warm in an oven on low heat.

Enjoy 🙂

-S

Entertaining Ideas, Part I: Lemon-Basil Vodka Spritzers (Paleo!)

I am so done with this cold. It’s April 7th, and yet somehow, there’s still snow in the forecast. I realize that we’ve gotten snowstorms over the years before as late as April, but to be honest, ayeye! It’s cold, I want to go get my herbs to plant this year, and here we are, still wearing Winter jackets. One of these days, it’ll be about 75 degrees and I’ll wonder what happened to Spring. Well, that dingus groundhog saw his shadow (or something) and really stuck it to us with our 6 more weeks of Winter. What he meant was actually 10 more weeks of Winter, with no Spring, right into Summer. But, I digress.

During those fleeting moments of good weather, I absolutely get the itch for Springtime parties and the like. Entertaining, friends coming over, dinner parties, my FAVORITE. Fortunately, I had some time yesterday, so a little playing around with some flavors was in the itinerary. Now, I don’t really ever drink liquor – I especially don’t drink vodka (personal choice)… however, I realize some of my friends like it a little now and again. I have a mystery handle of vodka sitting in my freezer, and I had a thought – what about a little Springtime aperitif? The herbs at the grocery store are so beautiful, why not… drink them, too? I love spices, flavoring anything, so putting herbs in your drinks is perfect (hello, Mojitos!). And there it was – my Lemon Basil Vodka spritzer. My spring cocktail was born.

This requires a little bit of patience, and a few kitchen (or bar) tools, but I promise it’s worth it. It’s refreshing, and you can omit the vodka and soda and just have a nice lemonade. One editor’s note…. I don’t actually know how much vodka one prefers in their drink… so…. add that at your discretion. In fact, i’ll preface this recipe with the fact that drink ratios are all about preference. If you like sweet lemonade, add more sweetener. If you like to taste your alcohol, add more. Change it up!

Actually, another editor’s note – if you have Celiac’s disease, be cautious of your vodka brand. Though it’s a distilled spirit and there technically should NOT be any gluten in your vodka, a wheat-based vodka may be made in a facility that is cross-contaminated with wheat products. If avoiding gluten as a major health concern, stick to brands that are derived from wheat-free foods, such as Ciroc (grapes), VuQo (coconuts), or Karlsson’s (potato). Other brands such as Absolut, Grey Goose, Stolichnaya, SKYY and Smirnoff are wheat-based, so be cautious if wheat is a concern.

 

Lemon-Basil Vodka Spritzer (Paleo..!?)

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 25-30 min

Makes about 2 quarts

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Ingredients

  • ~1/2 cup of honey or maple syrup (or sweetener of choice), plus more to taste if needed
  • 1 cup firmly packed basil leaves
  • 4 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (6 to 8 lemons)
  • 1 1/2 cup club soda (sodium-free, if possible)
  • 6-8 shots of vodka….or more, or less, this is a guess

 

Directions

  1. In a medium sauce pan, muddle the basil with a tsp of water together with a wooden spoon, until the leaves are broken and bruised. Add 2 cups of water and sweetener, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until all of your sweetener has dissolved. Be careful not to bring your mix to a rolling boil, as you’ll burn off the basil flavor.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow the basil to steep in the syrup until cool – feel free to add any extra fresh basil if preferred. Once cooled, strain your mixture into a pitcher. Add 4 cups of water and the lemon juice, and stir well.
  3. Add your club soda, and continue to stir.
  4. To your preference, add your vodka – since this makes a pitcher, I’d add about a shot per drink serving, and since this will serve approximately 6-8 people, add 1 shot per person. Allow to cool completely before serving – serve over ice with a garnish of basil and lemon.

Enjoy!

-S