Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Can someone please tell me I’m not the only person still putting together their Thanksgiving menu?

It’s not a matter of procrastination. In fact, I’ve been planning our menu for weeks. Pumpkin scones, bacon wrapped dates, butternut soup… no, it’s not procrastination. It’s indecisiveness. I want to eat all the good things.

We’re celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and going halfsies on the menu. This is always easiest for us considering we have multiple food allergies to consider. I was given the go-ahead by my new allergist to start reintroducing a few of my weaker-positive foods but they want me to hold off on any wheat items until we can do an in-office food challenge in December. Knowing that the weight of dealing with multiple food allergies may soon be lifted from my shoulders is thrilling. Because really? One allergy is enough for this family.

Anyway, the one item I know I’ll be bringing to our shared table is roasted brussel sprouts. This dish has quickly become a hit and it’s my new go-to for potluck celebrations throughout the holidays. The recipe is so simple! I know some people are initially turned off by the thought of brussel sprouts but I promise that the combination of bacon and roasting changes the flavor from bitter to savory.

Did I mention how clean this recipe is? It’s paleo, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

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Ingredients.

3 pounds brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (nitrate-free is preferred)
1 yellow onion, chopped
salt, pepper, garlic powder as desiredMethod.

In a large skillet, brown the bacon over medium heat until cooked but not crispy, stirring frequently. Remove the bacon and leave the grease. Add in the onion, cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the trimmed brussel sprouts and sauté for about 15 minutes or until the outside begins to brown. Combine the bacon with the brussel sprout mixture and spread evening on a roasting sheet. Cook at 350° for 10-15 minutes.

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Really, does it get simpler?

So, what’s on your Thanksgiving menu?

Are you traveling or sharing your table with friends?

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Down and Dirty of Clean Eating // Meal Planning

//This is the fourth post in a blog mini-series called “The Down and Dirty of Clean Eating.” To learn more about the DDoCE series, check out the intro post here. Previously, we’ve talked about DDoCE basics and the budget. //

When Josh and I were newly married, one of our favorite things to do together was grocery shop. The epitome of romance, I know. Josh was still building his carrier, I was a senior in college and we were broke. Our living room furniture consisted of a few camping chairs and his grandfather’s old floral-print couch. I didn’t know a lick about cooking but every Friday, we would wander the grocery store for inspiration and spend the evening creating a surprise concoction and share a meal on that ugly polyester couch. Eventually, we had to forfeit our Friday night habits because life needs a bit more preparation than what’s found in the frozen food aisle. Now I like to spend as little time as possible in the grocery store with two children who like to pretend they’re Alaskan huskies and Earth Fare is the Iditarod. Once we meandered. Now we’re all Super Market Sweep.

Anyway. I recall those memories fondly but gladly trade the spontaneity of our grocery store wanderings for the structure meal planning provides our current lifestyle.

For our family, meal planning necessary. When you’re trying to eat a clean diet and dealing with multiple food allergies, it’s not as simple as throwing a pizza in the oven or grabbing take out when evenings get hectic. Additionally, it keeps our budget in check and eliminates wasted food. By spending a few hours planning, shopping and prepping, I feel much less overwhelmed which, in turn, makes everyone’s life a bit less tense. Because if Momma ain’t happy…

For simplicity’s sake, I follow three rules for meal planning:

1. Shop the kitchen. 

2. Group meals to maximize ingredients.

3. Plan everything.

I always start by shopping my pantry and freezer. Because buying in bulk and stocking up on sales are key to eating clean on a budget, it’s important that we actually eat what we buy. This becomes the frame work for meal planning. On a regular grocery trip, I don’t want to buy more much more than fresh produce, meats and some dairy.

I take stock of what’s on hand and then I scour Pinterest or cookbooks for inspiration. I shy away from recipes that have a ton of ingredients and try to group meals together that use the same fresh ingredients. If I plan to make Tex-Mex Rice and Black-Eyed Peas on Monday and it uses fresh spinach, cilantro and avocado, I will plan on making a spinach and eggs for breakfast the next morning and taco salads with cilantro and avocado for dinner. I very rarely use an ingredient in it’s entirety so I’m not going to waste money to have the other half rot in the back of my fridge. You dig? This doesn’t happen naturally do you have to plan.

I try to make my menu and subsequent grocery lists as exhaustive as possible. This means I plan three meals for everyone (except Josh, who typically has lunch meetings) and include snacks, wine, special events and splurges. This keeps me honest and prevents overbuying. It also ensures I don’t have an “oh no!” moment when I realize I forgot an essential ingredient. I go to the grocery store twice a week to make sure produce, herbs and meats are fresh and mark each ingredient on my list as either a Sunday or Wednesday purchase.

I have tried so many ways to organize my meal planning and shopping lists. There isn’t a one size fits all method. I have friends who love apps but I like the pen and paper approach. I tried various online templates but found it easier to just make my own. I bought a cheap 3-ring binder and keep my meal plan, grocery list and any printed recipes together ( I know, I’m probably the only person in Internet Land that still prints things).

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The most helpful thing I added to my grocery planning sheet is a column for the girls’ lunches. While I may throw in some chopped vegetables that were left over from dinner, I typically buy food specifically for them. Having designated food just for lunches makes it easy to mix and match items for added variety.

Like the rest of a clean lifestyle, there is going to be trial and error. I try to be as detailed as possible but I’m not afraid to nix a planned meal because I’m exhausted and I’ve decided it’s Josh’s turn to cook. That’s okay. Considering where we started, I’m thrilled to see progress.

How do you meal plan? Are you a pen and paper or list app kind of family? 

The Down and Dirty of Clean Eating // The Budget

//This is the third post in a blog mini-series called “The Down and Dirty of Clean Eating.” To learn more about the DDoCE series, check out the intro post here and the DDoCE basics here. Everything I share here is based off my journey in clean eating. Check with your doc before doing anything crazy. //

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Anything in life that is worth doing requires a bit of hard work.

People in the blogosphere will readily tell you that eating a clean, unprocessed, healthy diet costs just the same as the frozen, boxed and processed version. That simply isn’t true. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend the bulk of your income on food. Making small changes will snowball into larger changes and greater benefits.

Maintaining a food budget has been the hardest part of our family’s clean eating journey. Although I have expensive taste, that part of me usually go hungry because I’m a stay at home momma and we have some very particular diets  and we’ve chosen to make our health a priority.

Eating a clean diet is a choice that you have to make and it will require sacrifices in other areas of your life – namely time and money. Most people can’t find a balance between the two and end up falling short on one or both. If you want convenience in your lifestyle and are short on time, it’s going to cost more money. Conversely, If your budget doesn’t have much buffer, you will need to spend more time preparing and planning to be successful. But it is possible.

We were thrown into a cleaner way of eating because of multiple food allergies so we needed a total kitchen overhaul quickly and easily and as a result, our finances took a hit. Convenience and simplicity was most important. For our family, the initial struggle wasn’t adjusting to a new way of eating but instead working to make this new lifestyle fit within our budget.

There are ways to stick to a budget and make a healthy diet work with your current financial situation. Sometimes this means sacrificing what is ideal for what is still good. I will always prefer to buy local, organic and sustainable foods but there are months when someone needs new ballet shoes and unexpected bills arrive and something has to give. This isn’t failing. It’s making decisions on what’s best for your family and selecting an option that is good, even if it isn’t best. Don’t be discouraged.

So, how do I make it work?

Plan meals – and stick to the plan. The easiest way to ensure I stay within budget is smart meal planning. I write down what’s needed for a week’s worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, late night snacks (ahem) – everything. This ensures that I actually use what I buy with little waste and I don’t wander the store to find inspiration for dinner and impulsively buy half of the ingredients for something I hadn’t planned.

Stock the pantry. When coconut oil is on sale, you better bet your bottom I buy several. Yes, it’s more money upfront so only buy things you know you will use. This makes meal planning easier because I can shop my pantry before heading to the store for fresh ingredients.

Trade convenience for quality. Quality foods that are ready to eat or packaged cost a lot. Make food from scratch. Spend a bit of time cooking, baking and portioning foods instead of buying it that way. I spend a few hours each Sunday preparing breakfasts and grab-and-go lunch items like paleo muffins, cubes of cheese, granola, bread, soups and so on.

Buy in season… It’s apple season here in North Carolina. Guess what we’re eating? Lots of apples. It is not strawberry season in North Carolina and we can’t afford to pay $7 for a quart of organic strawberries. So much to my daughters’ displeasure, we are not eating fresh strawberries.

…And stock up. Stock up on fruits and veggies when they’re in season and preserve them. You don’t need to be an incredible homemaker with an impressive root cellar and canning skills. Freeze berries when they’re in season. Most anything can easily be preserved for later use.

Don’t fall for marketing. Forget about “all natural” and even – gasp! – some organic labeling. There is currently no regulation of the use of the phrase “all natural” on products so don’t pay extra for it. Research companies, check labels and make an educated decision.

Buy in bulk. Costco has an impressive selection of organic meats, produce and pantry items with a far lower unit cost. Alternately, talk to a local farmer and consider buying your meats in bulk. You will pay far less per pound for a quarter or half of a cow than you would purchasing meat a la carte.

Shop local. Truly free-range, organic eggs are ridiculously expensive if you’re shopping in a grocery store. Buy them directly from the farmer and they become much more affordable. Check out farmer’s markets and you-pick farms. If your living situation permits it, put in a small garden or make a home for some potted herbs on your windowsill. Nothing is more local than what comes from your own backyard.

Shop online. I know, it seems counterintuitive to my last point. Nut butters, allergy-friendly chocolate chips, specialty seasonings and oils are usually cheaper online than in your local specialty market.

Eating a clean diet doesn’t have to break the bank. But you do need to consider that real, nutrient-dense food will cost more than processed alternatives. I have found that we actually consume less food now than previously because we’re providing our bodies with the calories and nutrients it can actually use. So we are buying less food which helps offset the increase in prices.

Of all this advice, meal planning has been the best tool for keeping our budget modest. If it’s cool with you guys, I’ll talk more about that next time.

How do you keep your real food budget under control?

Down and Dirty of Clean Eating // The Basics

//This is the second post in a blog mini-series called “The Down and Dirty of Clean Eating.” To learn more about the DDoCE series, check out the previous post here. Everything I share here is based off my journey in clean eating. Check with your doc before doing anything crazy. // SONY DSC I am stoked, guys. I’ve been mulling over the idea to do a series like this for a few months and I’m so excited to see so many of you so excited about taking steps toward a healthier foundation of health. I want to reiterate that I’m not an expert and we don’t eat a perfect diet. I bribe my kids with cookies like the best of us. But we strive for the best diet without compromising sanity (which is a hot commodity in these parts).

I’m going to be upfront and say there’s a lot of debate around what constitutes a “clean” diet. There are different definitions and some items I consider clean maybe debated by others and vice versa. There is usually a good, better and best to all of life’s choices but starting a healthier lifestyle is based on where you are. At its most basic form, here is my list for clean eating:

1. Eat more real food in it’s real form. Fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, grains as close to nature as possible.

2. Buy foods with an ingredient list you can understand. Better yet? Make it yourself so you know exactly what is being used. Prime example? Bread.

3. Skip calories, count nutrients. Choose foods that are nutrient-dense which means they offer a lot of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber or food fat in comparison the amount of calories.

4. Eat with intention. Food can – and should – be fun. But it’s primary purpose is to provide the body with the energy and resources it needs to function properly. The simpler my diet, the more it became something I believed in and a tangible reflection of what I believed about nutrition and health.

It sounds simple enough, right? Or maybe it doesn’t sound simple at all. Putting these principals into practice can be confusing. Nearly every person I talk to says they’d love to eat better but feel so overwhelmed by all the rules. Gluten is evil, organic is best, avoid GMOs, buy grass-fed beef, stay away from sugar, only rbst-free milk. Many of them overlap and/or contradict and honestly, it’s easier to stick our fingers in our ears and rationalize that they way we eat really isn’t all that bad.

I want to help you not feel overwhelmed. Start small. Those changes toward a clear diet will snowball. Or, you’re like me. I have an obsessive personality. When I find something that I’m interested in or a goal to achieve, I’m like a race horse out of the gate and work to master it quickly. While that passion is fantastic, I also tend to become easily frustrated and hard on myself when things don’t go the way I imagined. I preach patience and practice to my children and yet fail to do so as an adult.

The best way I’ve found to combat the urge to go out guns blazing without losing the motivation is simple:

Preparation and planning leads to consistency.

You don’t sign up for a marathon if you’ve never even laced up your running shoes. You prepare. Please don’t click out of this window and throw out everything in your pantry. Read labels. Read books. A great place to start? Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. In 2009, this was one of the first books that made me reconsider everything I thought I knew about food. Talk to people. Be realistic. Figure out your barriers.

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I wrote a post about this way back when but it deserves another mention. Don’t confuse dieting with being on a diet.

diet [dahy-it], noun: food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health.   You should be on a diet.   I’m not talking about calorie restrictions or eating low-fat frozen foods (can we even consider that food?). A diet means thinking about your food – what it is, where it’s from – and eating with intention – providing your body with the forms of energy it needs to run optimally.   People would balk at the suggestion of putting dirty, unrefined gasoline in their brand new, shiny SUV. So what’s up with all the processed crap we eat?

Let’s chat. Do you find all the food rules to be overwhelming? What are your basics for a clean diet?

The Down and Dirty on Clean Eating

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When I started this blog, I did a mini-series called Dirty Little Clean Secrets that to this day are some of my most popular posts. This is amusing because I knew very little about blogging back in 2012 and was just writing what I cared about. What’s even more amusing is that two years later, I haven’t learned much about blogging – except that “dirty little secrets” provides interesting and unsavory search traffic. But I have gained a wealth of knowledge through experience about clean living and eating and I still love to share information to help others.

There are very few conversations that cause me to take a firm stance and they generally fall into one of two categories: faith and food. While I love to talk about my faith, I want to focus on the many, many questions about what I feed my family and why. I realize the food choices that are common for us seem odd to others. Straight away – pause the background music – I want to be clear that I am not telling you what or how to feed your family. Our family’s journey to a healthier lifestyle is ours – you need to be responsible for yours. In fact, our very definition of “healthy” is probably different. But I am telling you to be an informed consumer and make educated decisions and sharing ours.

Our journey to clean eating started when I was pregnant with Emery and has changed and evolved several times. But at the core, my numero uno food rule is to eat real food. One of my favorite quotes on this is by Dr. Alejandro Junger (yes, this same Junger) who says, “The problem is that we aren’t eating real food anymore; we are eating food-like products.”

Right?

I have yet to meet anyone who truly believes processed foods are better than the real deal. But we live in a culture that promotes taste over function and sacrifices nutrients for convenience. Before we started eating a cleaner diet, we were eating under the advice of a well meaning personal trainer who encouraged low fat dairy, artificial sweeteners, fortified grains and diet sodas. Josh and I were both working long hours and many of our food choices were based on convenience. We trusted that this professional knew more about our health than we did. We wised up and cut out the processed grains and started making our own bread. A few months later, we started thinking hard about organic produce. And then looking at where our meats came from.

I know what it’s like to be pressed for time, money and energy and pulled like a Stretch Armstrong between all the new “right” ways to eat. It’s overwhelming to figure out what a clean, healthy diet looks like – I get it. Paleo. Low carb. Vegan. Vegetarian. Organic. Local. Raw. Every supporter claims their way is the right way. Regardless of who is “right,” I promise you that making even small steps away from processed, empty-calorie foods will show a big return on your health. The journey to clean eating and natural living is a journey – it’s a process, trial-and-error, failures and grand successes. It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. It’s taking baby steps that turn into bigger steps that eventually lead to a stride.

There are thousands of blogs that do a great job of highlighting the reasons why we should eat unprocessed foods. so why am I even talking about this?

A few reasons. My passion is holistic health. That means I want to help people life their fullest, most satisfying life possible. Eating a clean, unprocessed, organic, locally sourced – whatever you want to call it – is the most important piece of a healthy, natural lifestyle. It doesn’t matter how many vitamins, supplements, fermented foods, non-toxic cleaners, yoga sessions or essential oils you use – if your diet isn’t strong, neither is your health. It’s my goal to help others improve their overall wellness but a strong foundation in good nutrition is necessary.

Secondly, I’ve been there. And it wasn’t until food allergies forced us to examine our diet that we finally made serious, life-long changes. We had to do a dramatic overhaul of our diets – multiple times – and quickly. We were in for it, sink or swim, praying we would swim. Our first dairy allergy diagnosis forced us to make a change but that doesn’t mean it was easy and in hind sight, we made a lot of decisions then that I wouldn’t encourage now. But it’s a process.

Third, I’m not Paleo. Or vegetarian. Or anything. I strive for clean. Unprocessed. Nutrient-dense. I may subscribe to certain aspects of a diet theory but health is not a one-size-fits-all approach. That does not mean I’m perfect or in perfect health (obviously). We eat out. We give in to cravings. We live on a budget. We travel. I have kids who want sugar and junk and treats. I don’t make everything from scratch.

And although our diet is clean, my kitchen is messy. Like, really messy. Don’t stop over unannounced. Does anyone want to do my dishes?

So, what Down and Dirty of Clean Eating topics are we going to talk about?

  • What is a Clean Diet?
  • Making Time
  • Eating on a Budget
  • Eating on the Go
  • Clean Eating for Kids

Guys, I’m ridiculously excited about this.

I want to hear from you! What topics do you want to talk about? What stops you from eating a less-processed, nutrient-dense diet? What tips work for you? Please share!

Hey (SCOBY) baby.

Everyone I talked to yesterday was perplexed and a bit concerned by the little science experiment I’m conducting on my kitchen counter. Much to Josh’s disappointment, I’m not brewing moonshine or any other illegal elixir but rather attempting to grow my own SCOBY baby for brewing kombucha.

I’m always up for a challenge. And I also hate hemmoraging money on supplements, probiotics and vitamins. So when I grabbed a bottle of GT’s Original kombucha from my refrigerator, I was stoked to see this little fella hanging around the bottom.

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SCOBY, maybe?

Hopefully, if all goes accordingly, that little gelatinous thing will grow into a thick and healthy full grown SCOBY in a few weeks and then I can start fermenting my first batch of kombucha. I’ve read mixed reviews about the success of growing your own SCOBY from bottled kombucha but I’m giving it a try. I mean, I spend $40 a month on probiotics for the girls. Momma can spend a little time growing a SCOBY for that cost.

I’m surprised by how many people are still unfamiliar with this tangy, healthful beverage. Mainstream health experts are finally touting the importance of probiotics and a healthy gut balance but the discussion rarely extends beyond those weird Jamie Lee Curtis Activia commercials or refrigerated probiotics. Rarely, if ever, do people talk about sources of good bacteria from fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha. We live in a culture where bacteria is bad and everyone is terrified of getting food poisoning if our foods aren’t constantly refrigerated below 40°. Not so, people!

But I can also understand how kombucha can be a little off putting. Really, it’s just a fermented sweet tea but occasionally yeast strands occur. Although they look weird, they are totally normal and harmless.

***Shout out to Angie at Pint of Goals for correctly identifying my kitchen experiment. I have nothing to offer you except (hopefully and eventually) a SCOBY baby of your own, if you’d like. Otherwise, everyone go and show Angie and that beautiful (non-SCOBY) baby belly of hers some love!***

Do you like kombucha? Prefer other fermented foods? Ever grown something (intentionally or otherwise) on your kitchen counter?

I once had an avocado roll behind some cutting boards and I didn’t find it for a few weeks. That was pretty gross.

Gluten-Free Goodies.

When I found out last October that B’s diet needed to be gluten-free, I was devastated. I know that seems like a dramatic reaction but after being dairy-free for the year prior, removing another food group seemed overwhelming. We were eating a pretty solid vegetarian diet and wheat was kind of a big part of that. Eating out became a nightmare. Playdates were a guaranteed avenue to throw down tantrums.

You see, I love to cook and bake for my family. It’s my favorite way to demonstrate love. And I’m concerned about the fifty unpronounceable ingredients in pretty much every packaged goody. I can imagine no better way to spend my afternoons than mixing and blending and measuring away the minutes to create something delicious, filling and healthy for the girls. But our definition of “healthy” had to change to accommodate poor B’s gut and allergies. And in the process, I had to accommodate, too.

I learned to cook and bake without dairy. I found substitutes for milk, cream, butter and yogurt that often made recipes tastier and healthier. But learning to cook without gluten has been harder. Many of our staples are rely heavily on wheat and life was sad without the loaves and loaves of homemade, crunchy, crusty breads. I went through a sort of mourning period for gluten. Not just for the delicious foods I made but for the joy this baking brought to me. How will they see I love them if I can’t bake? Again, I know that sounds dramatic but all mothers can acknowledge that feelings often aren’t rational.

It has gotten easier. Seeing the incredible improvements to B’s skin and health is a boost. I didn’t notice any difference in how I felt until we were GF for about 8 weeks and I ate a brownie – big mistake. Hello belly aches, cramps and bloating. No fun. So, gluten-free isn’t so bad for all of us.

I’m trying to learn the lay of the land in this new adventure of gluten-free baking. I’ve had a lot of failed attempts over the past few weeks but also a few successes. I have a lot to learn but I hope to have some tasty lessons to share with you over the coming months. So here are a few of my “yay!” moments of success in gluten-free baking.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread

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It’s a rare occurrence that bananas last long enough in this house to get overly ripe. I bought two large bunches with the intent of making banana chips but time got away from me. I love a good banana bread – it’s healthy enough for a quick breakfast and sweet enough to satiate a craving.

I adapted it from a Taste of Home recipe by substituting the canola oil with coconut oil, omitted the walnuts and sprinkled with Enjoy Life chocolate chips (dairy-, nut-, soy-, gluten-free). This banana bread was awesome. I haven’t graduated past pre-mixed, all-purpose, gluten-free flour to making my own just yet but I hope to have a mixture down in time to make cupcakes for B’s second birthday at the end of March (eep!).

It makes two loaves and kept really well in the refrigerator. The texture was fantastic and really moist. It was a huge hit with the girls and E requests it in her preschool snack every day. Once I plan well enough ahead to stock up on bananas, I will definitely be making it again.

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

do not mind my burnt edges. learning curve.

do not mind my burnt edges. learning curve.

My mom and sisters started following the Paleo diet a few months ago and when I was flipping through their cookbooks, this recipe caught my eye. This recipe is so good, I ordered my own copy of the cookbook to try her other concoctions. I’m a big fan of a lemon/blueberry combination and since it’s Paleo, it’s automatically dairy-, soy- and gluten-free. The coconut flour is very light and they despite the six eggs, they don’t taste eggy in the slightest bit.

J and I first made them on Christmas Eve and they were a huge success. I’ve made it probably four or five times since then and even tried a lime/blackberry combination (good but not as good as the original). This is my new go-to breakfast meal for the girls. Each batch makes 12 decently-sized muffins and the girls can eat these one-handed since they’re usually wielding pirate swords in the other. I recommend using foil muffin liners because they have a tendency to stick to paper.

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Any gluten-free baking tips? What are your favorite gluten-free – and dairy-free! – baked goods?

To market, to market.

Last February, we started buying the majority of our weekly produce and meat at our local farmer’s market. With the addition of our fall CSA share, the only grocery store produce I needed were things like bananas and apples. When the market closed for the season in December, I didn’t realize how much I hate, hate, hate shopping at the grocery store.

I can’t help but wonder how long that lettuce has been sitting in a plastic bag and what on Earth they sprayed it with to keep it from browning. If the produce isn’t sealed, it usually has an impenetrable wax coating that comes off only after a FIT bath. And the prices. Oh, goodness. Eight dollars for a pint of organic Mexican strawberries. It wrong on so many fronts.

Adding to my shopping discomfort, I can usually count on hearing that song from the early 2000s about a big yellow taxi and not knowing what you’ve got until it’s gone. Yes, I’d rather have spots on my apples. Please do leave me the birds and the bees. And no, I did not know what I had until it closed for the season.

Anyway. I missed our farmer’s market and Saturday morning routine.

Thankfully – so, so thankfully – the farmer’s market resumed on Saturday and I was there with bells on. Not really, but I did shower for the occasion.

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If you’ve ever in Savannah, you’ve got to get some Perc in your coffee mug. They brew it at a lot of local joints and I’m never disappointed. I bought a pound of the Nicaragua Selva Negra and it’s heavenly.

I also picked up a head of cabbage grown by a local high school’s version of FFA, a bunch of dinosaur kale, beef from Savannah River Farms, and a beautiful dozen of eggs.

My itty-bitty refrigerator overfloweth.

And now, I wait eagerly for our CSA to resume (hopefully) next month.

Hi, I’m Liz and I’m a local/organic/sustainable/delicious food nerd.

Unrelated, my Facebook news feed has been taken over by people rambling on about some sort of football game and posting pictures of delicious looking finger foods. Oh, it’s the Superbowl? This cluelessness only happens when you’re married to a man who isn’t a sports fanatic. How did I get so lucky?

Thanksgiving Photo Dump

With a title like that, how could you not read?!

Pardon my lack of creativity. We’re on holiday hangover and the girls gave their Momma a run for her money today.

Last week, J had a glorious break from work and while I could have used the extra time to update Ye Ole Blog, I unplugged for a few days and spent some much-needed QT with J and the girls. My brain has been scattered and jumbled as of late, so sit tight for a massive photo dump to recap the holiday.

Since the Christmas season is officially here, I need to talk about Thanksgiving before it’s nothing more than a distant memory (despite extra three pounds I’m carrying courtesy of the muffins, dressing and apple pie)

We stayed home for Thanksgiving but despite our small family, made enough food for about 10 people. We never learn.

We spent most of the afternoon cooking and sweating up a storm (our kitchen was not designed with the serious chef in mind) so I called halftime and uncorked a bottle of wine. I thought, “why don’t I always cook with wine?!” Because you’d find me asleep on the couch while dinner burns.

Friends came over for dessert and the girls had a blast. We all went to bed with uncomfortably full bellies. Ah, excess!

I can’t properly recap a Thanksgiving weekend without talking about shopping, right? I fully intended to skip over the whole Black Friday disaster but I did find an amazing deal on E’s Christmas gift at Target that I couldn’t afford to pass up. No really, I couldn’t afford to buy it for her at regular price. So we all ventured out around 11 a.m. and J dropped me at the door so I could run in and snag it while they parked. Surprisingly, Target and the attached mall weren’t that busy so we let E take a ride on the world’s most obnoxious holiday train.

 

You know I couldn’t not support Small Business Saturday so after our last CSA pickup we went downtown. I scored an awesome deal on these Livie & Luca shoes at Savannah Baby Co. before heading to Half Moon Outfitters to find a Christmas present for J. Instead, Chunk and I had a photo shoot and J browsed with his little shadow.

Although I love spending time with my incredible husband when he’s off of work, early morning runs may be my favorite part of his vacation days. I love running pre-dawn but it doesn’t get to happen very often. So I took full advantage and ran a few days through the neighborhood with just my obnoxious flashing red light for company.

Saturday morning, I met up with the MRTT ladies for a 6 a.m. run on the Talmadge bridge.

Bridge in Savannah (Panorama)

Bridge in Savannah (Panorama) (Photo credit: Ben Beard)

Two thoughts on running the Talmadge:

1.) Although it’s fewer than 6 miles to run it over and back (from where we started), that      bridge is no joke. I have no idea what the incline is but my legs and butt were sore.
2.) I had no idea the severity of my fear of bridges. I’ve never been a fan of driving over them so I’m not sure what I thought it’d be like to run one with traffic. Needless to say, I will not be doing the Enmark Bridge Run 10K next weekend. I’ll be keeping my feet running on solid ground.

I rounded out my 6 miles at Wright Square which is always a lovely spot for a photo op.

How was your weekend? Any big travels? Tired of eating turkey?

Sweet Potato Saturdays.

We’re falling into a nice routine with our autumn Saturday mornings that I could certainly get used to. The temperatures have been lovely and everyone seems to have calmed from the frenzy of summertime. For the second Saturday in a row, the girls have both slept in which has been a pleasant surprise each morning.

We picked up our CSA share and let the girls play for a bit while we chatted with other members and swapped recipe ideas. Our share this week is more or less identical to last week’s with the addition of some turnip greens and less the cucumber. Adding another eight pounds of sweet potatoes has necessitated some culinary creativity by yours truly.

After a short nap by the little one (this is day two without her pacifier and she’s still a bit shell-shocked, I think), J asked me if it would be alright if he took the girls outside to play while he did yard work.  I laughed in his face.  Would it be alright? Uh, yes. Please, proceed if you must. Somehow I’ll handle a few hours of silence with a kitchen full of goods practically begging to be prepared.

Commence cooking!

I love coming home and sorting through our CSA veggies. I feel like I’m a contestant on Iron Chef and I just discovered this week’s secret ingredients.

With a fresh bag of arugula, I found this recipe as inspiration for tonight’s dinner. The biggest, and I think best, change I made to the recipe was adding roasted sweet potatoes. I tossed them in 2 tablespoons coconut oil and added in thyme, sea salt and black pepper then roasted them on a foil-lined sheet at 350° for 20 minutes. Their creamy and savory flavor balanced the peppery taste of the arugula.