Garlic Paprika Thyme Sweet Potato Fries (Paleo, Vegan!)

Boy, do I love me some carbs. It’s sort of a problem.

My jeans have gotten tighter, but such is life when Dogfish Head Punkin Ale AND French fries are involved. Even if this means I have to go out and actually get both of them. Yum? Yes. Since I typically start off complaining about the weather, I’d like to point out that it’s been feeling particularly Fall-ish recently… with the exception of the monsoon and grey skies today, I enjoy that the leaves have been falling. I even went out to the barn yesterday! I didn’t ride, it was raining, but it was nice, crisp and cool. Two thumbs up.

I’m also back into the swing of things with cooking on Sundays… I hope to make a few things that I can pass along on the blog, but I do get a bit… lax…. When it comes to healthy eating as the weather gets cooler. I’ve been exceptionally lucky to not have to worry a WHOLE lot about gaining weight with as much as I do, but as I said… my jeans, they is tight. I will be doing some cardio today, with the intention of eating Guinness Beef stew soon, and some Shepherd’s Pie, and… other potato-ey goodness without sacrificing my waistline.

The good news is, not all carbs are created equal. There are complex carbs, and carbs are fuel! Unless you’re into the Ketogenic diet (which I do enjoy a lower carb recipe every now and again), use your carbs to your advantage, and dress em up with some garlic and zest. Like these, below.

Garlic Paprika Thyme Sweet Potato Fries (Paleo, Vegan!)

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 35-40 min

Ingredients

  • Two large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin, fry-shaped strips (sized to your preference, some people like wedges)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • ½ tbsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together your garlic, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl with your olive oil.
  2. To evenly coat, I like to put my fries into a bag, pour my oil mixture in, and shake… you can also coat sweet potato fries with a brush, or your hands if you enjoy a mess… heh.
  3. On a greased cookie sheet, place your fries in a single layer, evenly spaced, so they cook thoroughly. If you prefer super crispy fries, feel free to turn over with tongs once browned on one side. Once they start to crisp/firm up and brown, remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes before serving. As they dry, they will  continue to crisp.

Enjoy!

-S

Mediterranean Zucchini Pasta with Garlic, Sun-dried Tomato and Toasted Walnuts and Feta (Gluten Free, with Vegan option!)

Hello, foodies. Hope you’re all staying dry out there! I’ve been thinking of those of you down south, the news about the devastating flooding breaks my heart 😦 My grandfather lives in Greenville, SC and he said the rain has been unbelievable. Those of you in coastal towns –  you’re in my thoughts! I’ve been trying to find the best way to offer assistance in the wake of all the flooding – unfortunately, not much can be started until the water recedes. If you’re interested in helping out those in need, always do your homework before donating money (local is better!), and make sure you know some details about where you’re donating. Here are a few ways I’m considering:

Local Food Banks – Harvest Hope Food Bank, Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. It’s recommended to contact them to see where their greatest needs are before donating.

Google Donate – if you google “Hurricane Florence donate”, Google has a donation page set up. There are FAQ’s if you’d like to verify its validity, and they will match up to $1MM in donations. Often times, money is the best way to go so it can be used however needed.

Local Humane Societies – North Carolina (Greenville), and South Carolina (Myrtle Beach)

Frank’s Nation – Animal Rescue/Shelter- https://www.gofundme.com/frank039s-nation-vs-hurricane-flo

Verified by GoFundMe, this non-profit has launched a campaign to cover expenses of its volunteers who are searching for dogs in the affected areas. Save the pups left behind! 😦

Hopefully you all find some time or spare money to offer, if you’re able J many people won’t be able to return home until the water recedes, so anything we can do to help, we should!

Side note… I made some delicious stuff in the last few days. Some paleo and gluten free friendly, some “healthy”… and some are NAATTT. I made my family’s famous potato salad, which is filled with sugar, and mayo, and deliciousness… but I also made some light staples, appetizers and some good fall dishes. You’re in for a treat for the next few days, as this weather is going to be cruddy.

Until next time… here’s my delicious zoodles!

Mediterranean Zucchini Pasta with Garlic, Sun-dried Tomato and Toasted Walnuts and Feta (Gluten Free, with Vegan option!)

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 20 min

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 jar of sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and thinly sliced (save the oil!)
  • 3-4  green zucchinis, spiralized (or two 1lb packages of pre-sliced zoodles)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3  cups of fresh spinach, loosely chopped
  • Handful of toasted walnuts, seasoned to preference (I like garlic powder, generous salt and pepper! Clink the link for my recipe) If vegan- use plain walnuts
  • Optional: 2/3 cup crumbled feta, plus more to taste (cheese is not paleo compliant, FYI)

Directions

  1. Using a spiralizer, cut your zoodles according to the tool’s instructions. Place on a paper towel to remove some of the moisture. Pro-Tip – I like to do this ahead of time to allow them to dry a bit, as zucchinis are made up of a lot of water. If using pre-cut – leave the package open for a few hours in the fridge prior to using.
  2. Once ready to cook, heat about 1-2 tbsp  oil in large pan over medium high heat. Add zucchini noodles and saute for 5-7 minutes, allowing some of the water to cook out. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Once tender, remove from heat and set aside on a plate.
  3. Add another tbsp. of your reserved sundried tomato oil to the pan and turn the heat back down to medium – add your onion and saute for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add your garlic and allow to brown (but not burn), for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Once your onion and  garlic are cooked, add your sundried tomato and spinach to the pan, stirring. Next, add your wine and turn the heat to medium high in order to burn out the alcohol. Stir to combine, until spinach begins to wilt. Salt and pepper to taste, if needed.  Lastly, add your zoodles back to the pan, stirring to coat in the tomatoes and spinach.

Upon serving, garnish with walnuts and feta, if using.

Enjoy!

-S

Shrimp Ceviche with Mango Avocado and Lime (Paleo!)

September 6th, and HOTTER THAN HADES! Good thing I’m not allowed to wear shorts to work, because I love a good ol’ fashioned heat stroke. Just kidding… no one loves that.

I figure I should  get some of my recipes up that are the last of summer cooking while the heatwave is still here. I definitely forgot about a few things I made, but it’s just really important that I share them. It’s also really important that I share a show I was recently introduced to, because now I’m hooked and watched it way past my bedtime last night. It’s called Humans, and I watch it on Amazon Prime Video. Without giving too much of the show away, it centers around artificially intelligent “synthetic humans”, whose purpose is to help people do tasks and be of general help. You find out very quickly  that a handful of them are different, in that they’ve been programmed to have feelings. You can imagine that may throw a wrench in things, and you must watch.

Trying to make this short and sweet so we can get right to the food. Go get the last of your freshly caught seafood, because this one is actually really fun and sort of like a science project! Just a PSA about sourcing ingredients for this recipe, it requires shrimp. If you’re like me and want to try and get the most sustainable and toxin-free version of seafood, you may no need to spend the big bucks for wild-caught shrimp. According to an article I came across on Medium.com, (Why Wild-Caught Shrimp Aren’t as Innocent as You Think), Shrimp is one of the most widely consumed seafood categories, which if wild-caught, may impact the ocean’s ecosystem in more ways than we know. Additionally, much of the shrimp in the US is imported and held to a different standard than US food regulations. There’s honestly a lot of grey area (and I don’t really spend a lot of time researching shrimp farms, to be honest…) that I’m not aware of, so I make sure if I make ceviche, I’m buying reputable shrimp. If you have an iron stomach or simply aren’t concerned, buying farm-raised shrimp will do you just fine.

To start, buying frozen isn’t bad – if anything, it gives you some time to decide what you want to do with it. Though I have yet to easily come across truly organic shrimp, there are a few things to look for if you want to make sure your choice in seafood is a smart, sustainable choice. The Marine Stewardship Council or Best Aquaculture Practices often add labels to shrimp so you know what you’re buying. As with any animal, the bigger ones likely have a greater impact than the normal sized ones, so I tend to just get the 21-30 count.

ANOTHER COOL THING! Did you know that the enzymes in citrus can actually “cook” seafood? Both cooking seafood with heat and curing it with citrus juice allows a process called “denaturation” to happen. I won’t bore you with the science… but it has to do with enzymes in the citric acid breaking down molecules within the fish as if it were cooked. Safe to eat, delicious, etc. Makes me think of sitting on the patio at a restaurant in Key West or Costa Rica, eating fresh ceviche with my morning omelette… 🙂

Shrimp Ceviche with Mango Avocado and Lime

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 3-4 hours (marinating time)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb raw shrimp, rinsed, tails removed
  • ½ medium sized red onion, finely minced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 2 roma or vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced into small cubes
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, stems, ribs and seeds removed
  • Juice of 4 limes, plus more if needed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. On a plastic cutting board (no raw anything on wood, if you can help it!), dice your shrimp and add to a shallow pyrex or baking dish. I cut mine into thirds for bite-size chunks.
  2. Add your shrimp to your dish, spreading in a single layer if possible. You want to keep this shallow so the citrus juice can cover the shrimp entirely. Add your lime and lemon juice, stirring to ensure the shrimp is coated. Cover the shrimp with tomato and red onion, spreading to cover any bare spots. Cover and let sit for at least 3-4 hours in the refrigerator to marinate.
  3. Check back after the time has passed to ensure your shrimp is “cooked”. It should appear pink, and opaque. If you see bits of gray, give it a stir to coat (it’s fine to mix the onion and tomato around now) and let stand for another 30-60 minutes.
  4. Once the shrimp is cured, add your mango, cilantro and avocado. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. I tend to squeeze in a pinch more of lime juice for an added bite, as the shrimp tends to absorb much of the flavor.
  5. Garnish with extra cilantro, if desired. Serve with chips or preferred dipper, such as vegetables. I like Siete’s grain free tortilla chips 🙂

Enjoy!

-S

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Garlic, Sage and Mushrooms (Paleo, Vegan!)

More rain. That’s totally fine. It means I’m not missing anything outdoors, and I can sit inside, watch Barefoot Contessa and stare at my dog. And more importantly…. COOK!

It’s September 1, which means a lot to a lot of different people. To me, as a fall baby, a Libra, and lover of all things fall, it’s been a countdown for the last 9 months. I’m not even ashamed of all the plaid flannel, suede booties and cute thermals I have… and the food is a whole different ballgame. Speaking of ballgames, I think other people are interested in football right now…? I love to watch baseball, but my sport of choice is hockey. Go Flyers. I’m a horseperson, so my hobbies aren’t really something people gather to watch unless they partake themselves. But I do love me some football parties, because that means COOKING!

Short and sweet, honestly. This recipe is a repost by request. I posted a little preview on my Instagram a little while back, but here we are with the final product! Gnocchi is one of the few Italian foods I do eat. While I love carbs, I’d much prefer potatoes than pasta. Growing up around a predominantly Italian extended family (though I am not one bit Italian, lol!), I got to see a lot of different ways to make staple Italian dishes. I love ricotta gnocchi, regular gnocchi, the whole nine… but red sauce isn’t something I typically prefer, unless it’s on top of a pizza. That’s a recipe for another time, so let me share with you how to make Brown Butter and Sage Sweet Potato Gnocchi! Yes, you read that right 🙂

These have an inherently sweet flavor because of the sweet potato, so balancing it with hearty mushrooms, garlic and sage just really makes the dish pop. Oh, did I mention these are VEGAN? You can definitely jazz them up by adding some pancetta, but these will do just fine. Promise.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Garlic, Sage and Mushrooms (Paleo, Vegan!)

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed so that any chunks are broken up
  • 1/2 cup of cassava flour, plus more if needed. Sometimes the sweet potatoes hold a bit more water than anticipated, which is no biggie!
  • ~2 tsp olive oil, plus more if needed
  • pinch of sea salt, to taste
  • 1 package of pre-sliced cremini/baby bella mushrooms, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 heaping tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • additional herbs of choice, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Peel and rinse your sweet potatoes, removing any knots. Boil in a large pot, potatoes covered with water until soft. Once finished, remove from water and allow to cool. Place in a large bowl and mash until smooth.
  2. Add in your cassava flour and mix until completely smooth. Add salt to taste. If you prefer a bit of zest, feel free to add a smidge of garlic powder and paprika, a pinch at a time. The flavor will be in the sauce, so don’t worry if it’s light.
  3. This part can get tedious, so be patient! Take teaspoon sized scoops of the mixture and roll into balls. I used a gnocchi roller to really get the shape going, but you can form into an oblong sphere and roll with a fork to get your gnocchi marks.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop gnocchi into it. Once they have risen to the surface, remove, and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  5. If you have one, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into the pan. Add gnocchi and cook on each side until golden, then remove. I’ve tried this with cast iron and regular metal, and they may stick unless you use a nonstick skillet.
  6. While your yams are boiling (or while your gnocchi mixture sits), Add your onion to a large frying pan along with a tbsp of olive oil (or ghee/butter if not vegan) over medium heat. Sauté 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until translucent.
  7. Add your garlic and mushrooms, continuing to stir. The mushrooms may start to release some water, so make sure these remain uncovered.
  8. Once the mushroom and onion mixture starts to caramelize, add your gnocchi to the same pan as well as your sage, and continue to sauté. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Try not to disturb the gnocchi too much, as you don’t want them to break apart. Shimmy the pan to mix until further browned, another 2-3 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Garnish with herbs.

Enjoy!

-S

Peppermint Patty Pudding Parfait (Paleo, Vegan)

Spirit animals.

Let’s just jump right into this, because I am too tired to come up with some fancy superfluous introduction. Have you ever given any thought to what a spirit animal is, or why it’s important?

I think because of subtle Native American influence throughout my life, I’ve paid more attention to it than the average person. Only until more recently did it start to make more frequent appearances, and I have to tell you — it’s more than just coming across a great meme on Instagram or talking about how Cardi B is your spirit animal because she’s a chatterbox who don’t curr about nothin’. A spirit animal is essentially Mother Nature’s driving force of what embodies you as a cultivated spiritual being, or what supports you as someone in need a spiritual fine-tuning.

Let’s use me an example. I’ve always known my spirit animal was a horse. I’ve loved them and ridden since I was very young, and I’ve always been a “horse girl”. What does a horse actually represent, though? Those of you who know me, I’m sure you know me quite well — I’m the most unintentionally transparent person alive. Apparently, so is a horse. So, the horse… the horse is known for pride, highly charged emotions, and a very driven instinct. Horses are powerful — not in that they are nature’s predators, but they are powerful in such a way where they know there’s strength in numbers and strength in endurance and perseverance. Horses, like any earthly being, are also not perfect. If given the option between fight or flight, a horse will choose flight 99% of the time. However — a horse is not defenseless. they are quick, and bold if need be.

The interesting thing about the representation of a spirit animal is that — no matter how domesticated, the instinct of an animal remains pure. Animals are born with imprints that can be subdued, but they cannot be stopped. A horse has the innate capability of horsey ways that stay with them for life. The same can be said for someone’s spirituality — you can live your life any way you choose and make any decision you want… but ultimately, one way or another, we are all drawn to the same thing, which is compassion, self-acceptance and growth. When situations come up where I know I need to take a step back, ground myself and really understand the situation, it truly does help to envision what qualities a wild horse possesses, what could apply to this situation and how I could channel that into my own perspective.

Not to get too “woo-woo” — you can interpret your spirit animal any way you choose. While mine is a horse, maybe I keep seeing a fox while out driving, walking or riding (a horse… lol..). Perhaps, for that time, I need to bring more fox-like energy into my life by way of my thoughts, my actions, or my reactions. I think we’re drawn to certain animals in certain times of our lives, and I don’t think it’s simply because nature is around us and it happens as coincidence. embrace your inner wild side!

Onto other fun things… like food! I’m not sure where you are in the world right now, but in the Mid-Atlantic US, it’s HOT. Like, stop-wearing-make-up hot. Like, could-I-really-fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk-today hot. Cool down with this fun delicious peppermint patty chia pudding parfait!

Peppermint Patty Pudding Parfait (Paleo, Vegan)

Prep time: 4 hours

Cook time:  n/a

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the chia pudding

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 heaping tbsp smooth almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract, or 6-8 drops of food-grade peppermint essential oil (use sparingly)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds

For the parfait

  • 10 oz almond milk Greek yogurt, such as Kite Hill or Silk
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

mint leaves, for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a blender or food processor, mix together almond milk, almond butter, peppermint, vanilla, maple syrup and cocoa powder, until smooth.
  2. Once mixed, add to an airtight container and stir in chia seeds thoroughly. Place in refrigerator overnight or for at least 2-3 hours.
  3. Once ready to serve, mix together your yogurt ingredients – the Greek yogurt, honey and vanilla.
  4. Here’s where you can get creative if you want – layer your pudding, and then your yogurt. Add your cacao nibs, and garnish with your mint leaves. Best served chilled – if you want to put it back in the fridge, feel free to do so for a few minutes!

Serve and enjoy 🙂

-S

Super Easy Greek Avocado Dip (Paleo, Vegan!)

July, woo! Heatwave, woo!!

It doesn’t take much for me to whine about extreme weather. I don’t really like extreme  cold, I definitely don’t like extreme heat, and we’ve had some serious triple digit heat these last few days. BUT, I can’t really complain, because the sun has been shining and we’ve had some really great beach weather. I’ve gotten a lot of sun, even though I’ve got my zinc on my face like a little nerdlet.

Some of the fam got a new boat, and this thing is pur-dy. All black, huge speakers, wakeboarding tower… I can’t wait to go on it. They’ve taken it out two days in a row, but I had to get my beach time in…feet in the sand is a must. The house is super close to Assateague State Park, which is where tons of wild ponies live. They’re pretty tame, you can definitely walk up to them (and they’ll walk up to you), but I wouldn’t advise it. I have PTSD flashbacks of a little boy yanking a horse’s tail and promptly getting kicked. Not saying he didn’t deserve it… but… you know. Just saying.

It’s so nice having the week off from work. I brought my work laptop down, but I’m sort of hoping I can fight the urge to open it and check on things. Honestly, thinking in general isn’t what I want to do much of. I bet you picked up on that, as this is likely the most A.D.D., non-guided, inconsistent stream of consciousness I’ve probably ever written. Let’s get to more important things.

If there ever was a “beach food” that is perfect in every sense of the word, it’s gotta be avocados. When perfectly ripe, they can do anything. On toast, in dip, in a smoothie, eaten plain with some salt… or back to dips J I make a mean guacamole, but sometimes you just want to switch it up with a different flavor. Cue the veggies! My version is made with almond milk Greek yogurt, so it’s both vegan and paleo friendly. If you don’t have any dietary restrictions, feel free to use your favorite brand of plain Greek yogurt. This is refreshing, tasty, and can be eaten with just about anything! Chips, tortilla chips, on bread, on a salad… you name it.

Super Easy Greek Avocado Dip (Paleo, Vegan!)

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: n/a

Serves: n/a

Ingredients

  • 3 avocados, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup Greek-style almond yogurt (or regular Greek yogurt)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced – ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 heaping tbsp of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 small English cucumber, diced
  • ¼ red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • juice of 1 small lemon, or less if (to taste)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional: sprinkle of feta (not vegan, or paleo friendly, FYI)

Directions

  1. In a medium sized bowl, mix together all of your ingredients, adding lemon last. Gently stir until avocado starts to blend, still leaving large chunks. Add additional salt as needed.

Enjoy!

-S

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

miso.jpg

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

img_4317-e1528661434187.jpg

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

img_4313img_4312.jpg

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

img_4314.jpg

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

brussels

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

img_4307.jpg

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

img_4332.jpg

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

img_4333.jpg

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

img_4334.jpg

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

img_4337.jpg

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

honey

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

Babas-kombuchas

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