Posts Tagged: go local

VegFest 2014 Vol. 2

TXVegFest2

Good day all,

It was an extra early-rise day Saturday, but the chilly wind helped keep us all high energy and functioning.  It was very encouraging to see how many volunteers showed up for the 6 a.m. shift–20+ to be sure–and humbling to experience the functionality of people coming together for a cause that we all stand behind.  We completed all of the ‘set-up’ tasks far before expected and we were all able to help out in areas we did not initially expect to, which was both a positive learning experience and a true test of multitasking. One of the many highlights of my volunteer experience was the fact that I was able to spend my entire volunteer shift with my husband, which is incredibly rewarding, being able to experience the fun together. Another highlight was a young mother who decided to bring her young baby along with her the entire morning by carrying the baby in an Ergo type carrier, marsupial style.  She was one diligent marsupial momma and she became my inspiration for that particular day and days to come.  It was encouraging to see someone being active and volunteering as a woman and mother, deciding to not let her world stop because she is now a mom.  She chose to involve her young one and display an act of community giving that is priceless.  I know I’m about to sound terribly cliché, but it made my heart grow three sizes bigger.  I was so taken aback, I had to tell her!

After our volunteer shift was completed, we decided to disguise our VegFest tees’ and become official guests of the event.  Though we were a little rushed, I feel like the time we spent went swimmingly!  The flow of the crowd seemed to be better circulated than in years past due to–in my opinion–better organization of the booths. Also, there were many more vendors and food stops where you could get information, samples, and a full-blown meal!

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While walking around and getting to know the vendors–some old hats and some newbies–we came across a new company called Uber Foods that makes energy bars.  After just one small sample and hearing about their new company from an eager young man, I decided to buy a bar; ‘dos cacao’.  It’s made here in Austin, has only six ingredients and it’s gluten-free and vegan!  It was pricy, but I never mind paying a little more for quality and in support of a growing company.

There were farms represented at VegFest this year, and Tecolote Farm is a local farm!

There were farms represented at VegFest this year, and Tecolote Farm is a local farm!

My tummy was soon grumbling for a meal following our volunteer shift and I had my eye set on Aster’s Ethiopian booth.  It was good gloop!  What’s wonderful about Ethiopian food is the manner in which they go about eating.  They not only use their hands, but they consume the food with a spongy bread call injera made with teff flour, which is rich in amino acids and several vitamins and minerals.   Some Ethiopian restaurants add wheat to their injera, however, Aster’s is 100% gluten-free!  Happy tummies all around. 😀

We ended our Texas VegFest time, much like we did our second year, with a bowl of Sweet Ritual ice-cream–salted caramel.  No sprinkles were on hand this year, but the ice-cream left nothing to be desired for a sweet tooth.

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Attending Texas VegFest was a pleasant reminder that we should all take a moment to re-evaluate the way we approach our time and how we devote it, not only to the food we eat, but to other people around us. You get what you give in life, so let’s all try to give a little more. :)  And if you can, involve the little one’s in your life in your activities.  Experiences are the best gifts you can give and will last longer than all the toys in the world!  Oh, and remember…bite responsibly!

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Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

VegFest 2014 Vol. 1

Good day everyone,

I must admit, I am currently under the influence of one heaping scoop of cocoa powder in my morning smoothie, and ready to talk about Veg Fests!  This coming April 5th, here in Austin, TX, we will have our very own Texas Veg Fest (year 3), and I know it’s going to be even bigger and better than the last two years.  The first year I just attended, but last year I was a volunteer with the information booth and this year I’m volunteering with the AV team, and I’m excited!

Let’s start with a little about Vegfest.  Vegfest is just that, a festival that focuses on vegetarian cuisine and more specifically, 100% plant-based, not animal product cuisine and oftentimes sustainability through lifestyle choices and animal rights.  It occurs annually in different cities and in different formats in each city.

Texas Vegfest of Austin, occurs by the beautiful Lady Bird Lake and is loaded with over a hundred vendors, cooking demos and lectures, music performers, speakers and tastings galore!  I don’t suggest attending this festival while doing a ‘cleanse’ as there will be far too many temptations.

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I am looking forward to Saturday where I’ll get to help out, meet people, try new things and mingle with veggie thoughts.  I hope you’ll join me and many others!  Be sure to stay tuned next week for ‘Veg Fest Vol.2’, where I will discuss post-fest topics and what went down.

Short and sweet to the sole today–love you Dandies.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

Rachel Manning

Kitchen Letters #3: A Big Bowl of Winter Veggies & a Grapefruit Fizzy

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Dear world,

There are many reasons to look forward to certain days of the week, but Thursday’s are special around our house because we pick up our packed CSA box–and I mean packed–with an array of veggies and fruits to kick-start new ideas for recipes.  This winter we have been fortunate to receive some of my favorite veggies and fruits all in one box, and I thought I could share our abundance of yummies with you–in recipe form–in this fleeting winter season.

My favorite meals usually involve a bowl.  There is something incredibly comforting about food in a bowl to me.  Perhaps I channel back to the feeling of being a child and picking the biggest concave basin to eat my cereal from, with loads of milk and never the worry of a spill or splash.  In my opinion, bowls are where it’s at!  With this dish, I decided to work with layers, which I feel gives more depth to the flavors and textures touching your palette.  Like I previously mentioned, I was working with veggies directly from our CSA box, thus it did most of the menu planning for me.

I get in a bit of a rut with root veggies, and though I know there are a myriad of things to do with them, I typically end up preparing one or two variations because I’m in a time bind, but this week I wanted to mix it up a hint.  I decided to make a sauce with the beets to create a colorful backdrop to the remainder of the dish.  I allowed myself the joy of slowing down.

What’s wonderful about this recipe is that it’s an ‘everyday’ kind of meal.  It’s not as sexy as some of the gourmet delicacies you’ll find out there, but what it is, is realistic and relative to the time and availability of what you might have hanging out in your fridge or produce baskets this time of year (at least in the states).

You could eat the dish in layers or mix it all together, but this is not a dish for the faint of heart as it’s bursting with lively flavor and swimming in immaculate texture.

I suggest eating this meal with friends or a loved one, that way you can share in the bounty and casual nature of the dish.  Kick back with little prep and effort for table arrangement and enjoy it with your favorite record or even this Songza playlist –> An Ipanema of the Mind.  Yes, I’m hooked on Songza.

From a before dinner drink to the entrée, I hope you enjoy!

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Grapefruit Ginger Fizzy

Ingredients

  • 1 25.4 fl. oz Topo Chico or any mineral water
  • 1 inch grated ginger
  • 1 to 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • juice of 4 grapefruits
  • 3 or 4 drops liquid stevia (if you want it sweeter, I prefer mine more tart so I leave this out)

Instructions

  1. After juicing your grapefruits, pour the liquid through a sieve and catch the liquid in a wide-mouth container–this will catch any extra pulp or seeds that may have slipped through into the juice (or leave it behind if you like pulpy juice)
  2. Now, pour the juice into a large pitcher
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir
  4. Now, add the mineral water
  5. Stir or shake if you have a lid
  6. Chill and sip in your favorite glass before and after your big bowl of veggies!

I have always enjoyed grapefruit, it is one of my favorite citrus fruits and I am always very happy when it comes in season because it adds a nice addition to my daily eats!  Fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice would be ideal to start your days or begin your meals in the winter as it helps to detoxify your liver, alkalize your body and give your metabolism a boost.  Additionally, it is loaded with vitamins and minerals and will help with reducing and preventing fevers.

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Bountiful Winter Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa (rinsed & soaked)
  • 2 cups water
  • generous pinch of salt
  • small bundle of beets – about 4 (cleaned, peeled and boiled until tender; reserve beet greens for another time)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp annatto powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (optional)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic (more if you’re a garlic hound like me)
  • handful of parsley (flat leaf or curly; minced)
  • 2 glugs of extra virgin olive oil (2 tbsp)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 bundle of your favorite greens in season (I’m using curly kale; pull leaves off stem, massage and rip into small pieces, soak and rinse, then salad spin to remove excess water)
  • 1/2 yellow onion (thinly sliced into strips)
  • 2 or 3 glugs of grapeseed oil (2 or 3 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or to taste, in ‘pours’)
  • splash or 2 of red wine (whatever kind you have on hand, the higher quality the better the taste)
  • 2 hefty pinches of red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (cleaned and cut into 1/4 inch half-moons; cut off the dimples or where dirt has sunken in)
  • 5 or 6 small to medium carrots (cleaned and cut into half-moons)
  • 2 glugs of extra virgin olive oil (2 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Toppings (optional)

  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces (there will be some leftover)
  • 1 avocado (one half for each person you’re serving; thin slices)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF
  2. Place the cut sweet potatoes and carrots into a medium mixing bowl and cover with a couple of glugs of olive oil, salt and black pepper; mix well with clean hands
  3. Spread mixture over two baking sheets so the veggies are not touching; bake for 20 to 30 minutes, flipping half-way through
  4. Once veggies are in the oven, after rinsing and soaking, pour the quinoa into a medium saucepan and add water and a pinch of salt
  5. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 or 20 minutes
  6. Fluff quinoa with fork
  7. While quinoa is cooking, in another saucepan, place beets in water to boil until they are tender to a fork (15-20 minutes)
  8. Place beets, paprika, onion powder, annatto powder, lemon juice, 2 or 3 garlic cloves, olive oil and salt into blender and blend until smooth
  9.  Cover quinoa with beet sauce and distribute throughout; add minced parsley and feel free to add unsweetened almond milk for a creamier sauce or add water or more olive oil if mixture becomes dry; re-heat on low and cover to keep warm until remainder of dish is prepared
  10. In deep skillet over medium heat, add 2 or 3 glugs of olive oil until it flows like water over the bottom of the pan
  11. Add onion strips and cook until browned but not fully caramelized (7 or 8 minutes)
  12. Begin to place handfuls of kale into skillet and stir with tongs until greens are bright but not soggy (1 or 2 minutes)
  13. Now, add your splashes of apple cider vinegar and red wine until you hear a crashing and cracking sound–it should be a loud roar; continue to mix greens making sure to not burn, and then sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes and remove from heat
  14. In a dry skillet, over medium heat, place walnuts and toast until a light golden brown; take care not to burn
  15. NOW, to assemble the delicious bowl, in this order bottom to top:  wilted kale and caramelized onion mixture, quinoa with beet sauce, roasted veggies, toasted walnuts (by eye), avocado slices
  16. Enjoy every bite!

*This should serve approximately 2 to 4 people depending on portion sizes

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Quinoa, no longer the ‘It’ grain, is still ‘It’ at our abode.  It’s a full-source protein with a delightful nutty flavor and a fluffy light texture that absorbs flavor well.  The perfect grain to use for heavier sauces like this one, the semi-bitter undertones of quinoa are offset by the sweet and mildly tangy flavor of the beets and the umami of the garlic.  There are many exceptional qualities about this meal nutritionally, but take care in knowing you’ll be very satisfied and sated afterward.

Let me know what you think of the recipes and what type of creations you’re coming up with at the close of this season.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Yummy and grateful regards,

RAM

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Kitchen Letters #2: There’s something about turnips

turnip

Dear world,

What’s happening where you are?  My story this time begins with turnips.  Yes, this wildly underrated root veggie has easily taken the spotlight in our kitchen the past couple of months and my creativity was put to the test.  CSA boxes are sort of the ‘Chopped‘ of the everyday kitchen world, but the catch is it’s all produce and the only time limit on creating a delicious recipe is the shelf life of what’s inside the box.  Now, after trying a few different things with this hunky root, what sounded most delicious one afternoon was fries. After perusing a few Pinterest boards to figure out what other people have done with their turnips, I found some that suggested making fries.  As none of the recipes I came across suited me, and I’m not much for deep-frying anything, I decided to tweak a recipe I use for crispy baked yams and apply it to turnips!

A bit of turnip history for you all; did you know that turnips have been around for about 4000 years?  Their original purpose was less for mastication and more for well, throwing at those you didn’t like.  Glad that’s no longer a popular practice!

Turnips are part of the Cruciferae family of vegetables, and this does mean they could lend to a more gaseous evening, so I would recommend a digestive enzyme before consumption and lighting a sweet-smelling lit candle.  I don’t mean to be gross or crude, but I think it’s only fair that you know what you’re getting yourself into. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s a given you’ll have a tummy-taming evening, but knowledge is power my friends.

When my husband and I committed to buying shares in a farm, it was our hesitation initially that we would end up with more produce than we could use. There are only two of us and, though we have voracious appetites, often times our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. However, once we began to understand what it meant to buy directly from a farmer who was producing organic, delicious, and fresh produce, all of our doubts peeled away.  There were excessive patches, like our summer boxes which were overflowing with small, sweet peppers and some spicy peppers.  It became hard to keep up, but the great part was I started to get more inventive, and that’s where the turnips come in.  At any farm, some fruits and vegetables are in abundance and because turnips are often the food of farm raised animals, we lucked into an abundance as well.  The trick… not wasting anything.  We’ve certainly had our guilty weeks, where no matter how much I shared or prepared, we just weren’t able to go through it all, but I’m trying harder everyday to get better about not wasting precious produce.  We’re very fortunate to have such delicious noms at our fingertips, and anything I can do to utilize these goodies I will do.  Quick fact about food waste; America wastes 3,000 lbs of food every second.  If you’d like to learn more about food waste, here’s a link to the website of an eye-opening documentary that focuses on just this topic.  Dive! The Film

Are some of you still a little turned off by the idea of even messing with turnips? After taking many nutrition courses and my memory of learning about foods growing up, the benefit of assorted veggies and fruits was often a topic, but turnips never landed in that list of ‘go to’ veggies for a dense nutritional fix. Though not the most obvious choice for a nutritionally full snack, they have more to offer than you would imagine.  Turnips, though a starch vegetable, are lower in calories than potatoes and are packed with vitamin C, which helps with our immunity and, just as important, tissue repair–this helps in the healing and aging process.  Often overlooked as a source of vitamin C, just a cup of turnips can help fulfill daily requirements.  Additionally, turnips contain a range of B vitamins which aid in protein and carbohydrate metabolism that’s key for having quality digestion and absorption. B vitamins also help in creating quality skin, hair and liver health.  And who doesn’t want healthy skin?  These are just a couple of the nutrients that help to make the turnip the amazing veggie it is.

 

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 Crispy Turnip Sticks

Ingredients:

  • 1 large turnip (regular variety), peeled in rough areas
  • 2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp onion granules
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • two shakes freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal (non-gmo)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF
  2. After rinsing and pealing rough areas of turnip, slice it in half and then make 1/8” sticks (julienne)
  3. Grab a medium sized mixing bowl, place turnip sticks inside and sprinkle all ingredients on top, then drizzle the oil
  4. Toss together turnip sticks and spices until everything is nicely coated
  5. Arrange each stick on baking sheets in fine rows keeping each fry about a 1/4 inch or more from the next (we’re not trying to steak or roast this buddies, we want them crispy)
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy
  7. Enjoy crunchin’!

Extras:

  • Try with dried thyme or cayenne for a kick; note, a bit of thyme goes a long way

 

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A quick note on a couple of ingredients.  Turnips have a mild bitter flavor to them, and because of this I chose smoked paprika, which has a savory and sweet flavor to balance out the bitterness of the turnip.  Thyme is one of my favorite herbs and it has a pungency that matches well with turnips. I recommend trying this when you make your first batch.

Overall, these crispies have been one our fave snacks lately and have easily become a comfort food this winter.  We like to enjoy them with veggie burgers and black-eyed pea salad sandwiches.  I hope you enjoy experiencing this recipe, I would love to hear your thoughts.  And remember…bite responsibly!

 

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Sources:

food waste 1

food waste 2

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Cinema Cuisine: Italy – L’eclisse [1st Video]

YesterdayCafe

YesterdayCafe

Hello Everyone,

My experience with preparing and cooking the assorted dishes for Cinema Cuisine, Italy, was that much more care, devotion, patience and love had to go into each dish.  What do I mean?  Oftentimes in the kitchen, as much as possible, I try to be efficient and quick in my approach to making a meal.  I embrace delicate measures when necessary, but otherwise, I’m multitasking and moving from one dish to the next, incorporating one spice or ingredient after the next. After much sweat and heart, the meal is complete.  Shortly after, I either feel one of two things: a strong sense of accomplishment and elation or a mild sense of disappointment and anxiety.   These feelings are common because I’m either pleased with my creations or I’m displeased with–by my standards–an unsatisfactory outcome.  Either way, I’m able to enjoy my creations with a loved one and, being the critic that I am, dissect the many facets of the meal.  With this in mind, for my Italian meal I allowed self and outside critique, but I channeled a level of love into the process of making the dishes that I rarely do.  It was one of my most enjoyable cooking experiences yet.

Before the big meal, my love and I knew we needed to begin the process of making the homemade pasta for a few reasons, but mostly because we had never used a pasta maker before.  For the winter holiday of 2012, we received an authentic, Italian press (with some extra attachments) and a bamboo wooden drying rack for the pasta.  Up until the end of June, we had yet to crack open the box, and this lack of attention to this thoughtful pasta making gift set in motion my idea of choosing Italy as our next film and cuisine exploration.

Below you’ll find many recipes and my FIRST VIDEO that you too could incorporate into a day or days of Italian themed dishes.  Most of them are my own creations and ideas, but some are inspired by wonderful chefs I’ve discovered.  I hope you enjoy every bite and appreciate the process of making this meal or meals as much as I did.  What is more, as the Italians do, enjoy this meal with a group of people and even encourage a potluck. Making all of these delicious recipes and more could turn into an all day affair.  For me, there’s nothing more rewarding and satisfying.

A quick note on L’eclisse.  Why–before the viewing of this film–I had yet to see an Antonioni film, escapes me, but I can say these dishes couple consummately as their simplicity matches the contemplative and confident manner of this movie.  Please, enjoy every bite and every frame.

Keep a look out for our podcast where you’ll hear much more depth into L’eclisse. I’ll post it in a few days!  Please let me know what you think of the recipes and the tweaks you made to your own creations.  And remember…bite responsibly!

 

Breakfast

Raw Cacao, Avocado Pudding/Spread w/ Apple slices & Italian Press Coffee

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe medium avocados
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 3 tbsp unsweetened almond (or coconut) milk to taste
  • 1 to 2 tbsp pure maple syrup to taste
  • 1 or 2 drops of liquid stevia to taste (slightly more liberal w/ powder version)
  • 6 tbsp raw cacao
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large apple of your choice (pear)
  • fresh coffee beans
  • coffee press
  • water

INSTRUCTIONS

 

For Pudding/Spread

  1. Slice the avocado lengthwise to break past the outter skin barrier, remove the pit and spoon out contents into high powered blender/food processor
  2. Add vanilla, maple syrup, raw cacao, cinnamon and the first tbsp of almond milk
  3. Blend until a smooth, creamy texture is reached (note:  Add remaining tbsp of milk if mixture is too dry. Additionally if not sweet enough, add in stevia–take care to not add too much initially as excessive amounts could make the pudding/spread too bitter.)
  4. Slice apple with skin on and enjoy it with liberal amounts of this delicious pudding

For Coffee Press

  1. Coarsely grind two tbsp of coffee for ever 6 oz of water
  2. Begin to heat water, don’t boil
  3. Place ground coffee beans at the bottom of your press
  4. Pour VERY hot water (not boiling) over beans and immediately cover with coffee press lid, but do NOT press down filtration piece yet; let sit for 3-5 minutes
  5. Press down filtration press piece and pour into your favorite mug
  6. ENJOY!

NOTES

 

This dish could also be made with soft and soaked medjool dates (6 to 8). I happened to not have any on hand. Raisins would also be a nice substitute.

Also, Italians often enjoy their chocolate spread with bread or toast.

For a more dense protein treat, add some pre-soaked raw pecans (you’ll get a flavor closer to Nutella but without the hazlenuts).

Should store, refrigerated for up to two days.  After two days I’d smell it/taste it.

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Flavorful and full-bodied coffee beans from www.equalexchange.coop

Lunch/Dinner

Italian Summer Salad

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 large portions or 6 smaller portions)

  • 1 head romaine lettuce (chopped)
  • 1/2 large cucumber (sliced thinly into half moons)
  • colorful sweet peppers of your choices (I chose:  1 purple, 1 red, 1 green, 1 banana; thinly sliced rings)

INGREDIENTS (DRESSING)

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (if you’re watching alkalinity, nix this and add an extra 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar)
  • salt to taste
  • course, freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp & 1 tsp dried Italian herb mixture (my mixture is:  thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, marjoram; if you have fresh herbs available, curve the amount; also, the dressing cannot be kept as long)

INSTRUCTIONS

 

For Salad

  1. After cleaning, chopping and drying lettuce, place it in a large bowl
  2. Add pepper rings and cucumber slices
  3. Toss with clean hands until vegetables are all mixed

For Dressing

  1. Pour liquids into a jar and then add remainder of ingredients
  2. Place lid on the top of jar and shake until mixture combines
  3. Before mixture separates, conservatively pour over salad
  4. Enjoy salad soon, or lettuce will wilt.  If only enjoying in single portions, plate salad portion and drizzle dressing over individually.  Secure remaining dressing with lid, store at room temperature

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summa salad

Beet Balls

NOTES

  • Please see my previous post for the beet ball recipe HERE.
  • Some tweaks: I adjusted the herb mixture, type of mushroom and nut when I made these recently, and unlike my old post, I find that golden beets do bring out a more savory nature to these balls.

 

Sauteed Summer Squash

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 summer squash (yellow & zucchini, mixture of your choosing; thinly sliced into half strips)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil/coconut oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

 

  1. After slicing squash and mincing garlic, heat skillet over medium heat and add oil
  2. Once oil is hot–should move like water in the pan–gently place squash slices into skillet and gently toss until every piece is covered with oil
  3. After beginning to brown, add garlic
  4. Cook until gentle (to fork) and garlic is fragrant, lightly browned, but not burnt; about 7 minutes
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, serve and enjoy ^_^

 

Homemade Pasta (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)

Recipe by:  Cassie

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp flax (ground)
  • 6 tbsp warm water
  • 1 3/4 cup chickpea flour (additional amount for rolling out and pressing)

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO

Check out my very first instructional video (also streaming on YouTube) on how to make homemade pasta!

NOTES

 

  • I made farfalle and fettuccine noodles (both of which fell apart to some degree). I’ll need to do my own personal tweaking to the recipe for the future. Don’t overcook!
  • SALT the water!
  • Make sure you have plenty of flour for rolling out and putting dough through pasta press, otherwise you’ll have a sticky mess.
  • I also recommend keeping a small bowl of cool water nearby wherever your hands are when rolling out the dough. This works much better with moist hands (the dough will not cling to your fingers in such large clumps with a little water).
  • Have a partner! Though you could make this pasta alone, I think it would be more fun and easier with a buddy.
  • Give yourself plenty of time and space. Don’t let the ingredients deceive you, this recipe is relatively time consuming, especially if you’re in a moderately cramped space.
  • Please do not get discouraged if you are in a one butt kitchen or don’t have a pasta press, this is completely doable without both, but it will be more challenging.  Respect your space and the amount of time it will take to make.
  • Kick back and enjoy the experience, otherwise you’ll botch the recipe and process and find yourself very frustrated.
  • Stick to the instructions in the video. Although I’m an advocate of going with the flow in recipes, skipping or rushing a step could lead to problems. :(

 

Walnut Basil Pesto

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 to 1 cup raw walnuts–depending on how ‘nutty’ you want your pesto (soaked w/ apple cider vinegar for 6 hours, rinsed)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups loosely pressed basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (more or less to your desired consistency)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (more or less to your desired consistency, taste)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

 

  1. Place nuts, oil and all other ingredients in high-powered blender or food processor
  2. Begin to blend and slowly increase speed to high
  3. Use bowl scraper to wipe sides of container and blend once more to catch the rest of the ingredients that may have splattered
  4. Depending on the consistency you want (either chunky or smooth), pace your blending
  5. Serve mixed into pasta (specifically for this recipe) and freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray covered in plastic wrap

NOTES

  • This will make a sizable amount. Try freezing the remainder in ice-cube trays and cover with plastic wrap.  Later, you have a quick meal as all you’ll have to do is pop a pesto cube onto your dish and heat it up or thaw it out.

 

Italian Creamy White Sauce w/ Parsley and Grape Tomatoes

Follow directions HERE for dressing then do the following:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 garlic clove (yes, more garlic)
  • 3 tsp dried Italian herb mixture
  • water to desired consistency (unsweetened almond milk for a thicker consistency)
  • 6 grape tomatoes (quartered)
  • handful of fresh flat leaf parsley (gently minced; lucky me, this go round I had some from my herb garden!)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Follow instructions for dressing FIRST
  2. Next, add cashews, garlic, Italian herb mixture and water
  3. Blend once more
  4. Serve mixed into pasta (add in parsley and quartered grape tomatoes), or over your favorite, homemade gluten-free pizza crust (without the added parsley, just the tomatoes)!

NOTES

  • Italians typically serve a plain or ‘pasta blanco’ for ease of digestion as a more minimal dish. I dressed up the idea but created a vegan, high protein/omega-3 cream sauce, free of soy and other additives.

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Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Refernces:

Italian Breakfast

Italy Food Culture

Primer – Italian Food Culture

Podcast # 1: Cinema Cuisine: England – Withnail and I

Gif Courtesy of:  http://emptyandsmoking.tumblr.com/

Gif Courtesy of: http://emptyandsmoking.tumblr.com/

Hello Everyone,

About two years ago (although I think in the pc we said one, but it has been almost two) my husband and I began a fun ritual on Fridays called ‘Foreign Film Fridays’, wherein we would choose a country, a film to represent that country–whichever one of us was in charge of picking the country and film, would prepare a meal representative of that country.  It was such a blast, but as our schedules grew busier, Foreign Film Friday sadly fell by the wayside.  You all will be happy to know, it has been reincarnated, but on Sundays!  So, we lost some lovely alliteration, but we gained a more relaxing day, with more time to prepare.  Also, I do the cooking/preparing and we are going to alternate picking the country/film.  One of Matthew and I’s biggest passions in life is film, and we both have a deep connection and fondness for food.  This podcast has allowed me another way to connect food to all of you out there.

I’m very happy to introduce my very first podcast and even more pleased that I’m launching it in conjunction with connectabite.  Please, be forgiving when you listen to it as this is our first ever time to attempt this, and though we’re both avid podcast listeners ourselves, there is certainly a separation in action of something you love.  Needless to say, here it is!  I hope you enjoy and I’d really like to start a dialogue about what you hear.  Tell me what you don’t like, what you do like, was it funny, was it awkward, could you understand what we’re saying, did you appreciate our commentary, etc…

CLICK HERE: –> (right click here) Cinema Cuisine Ep.1 – England

Below you’ll find the recipes to the meals I created, plus sources to some of them.  I hope you will join us in foreign film connecting and food and share with me  your experiences, recipes, ideas and so forth.  I’d love to chat about it all!  Maybe some of you have recommendations?  Enjoy both listening to the podcast and preparing these recipes, and remember…bite responsibly!

Gluten-Free Orange Pecan Scones

               Recipe inspired by Alex Jamieson

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups of almond flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 egg replacer (could also substitute ground flax or chia seeds)
  • 2 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Zest from one organic orange
  • 1/2 cup & 2 tbsp unsweetened almond, coconut, rice or other plant-based milk ( I used almond)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (I broke them into pieces with my hands rather than processing them in any way)
  • ½ cup raisins (you could also substitute another dried fruit)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients: almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, and baking soda.  Take special care with the coconut flour as it will want to clump together.  Use a fork and sift through large bulges.)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg replacer, maple syrup, orange juice, zest, and milk.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until blended thoroughly. If the dough seems too dry and isn’t sticking together, use another tablespoon or two of milk.  Dough should feel almost spongy.
  5. Dump in the pecans and raisins.  Then wet your hands to evenly distribute the nuts and dried fruit through the dough.
  6. Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out evenly sized scones and place scones on a parchment lined baking sheet and gently press down to flatten to 1/2 in thick with palm.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until the tops are golden brown, and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

NOTES

  • These are slightly crumbly scones but have a nice density.  They aren’t as heavy and thick as I was used to, but they are gluten-free, thus for what they are, fantastic!  I was so fretful the entire time I was making them/they were baking, that they would turn out flat and fall apart because there is no fat, and for must scones that a key ingredient, but these were only slightly crumbly as I mentioned and had the most divine flavor.
  • We enjoyed these with a hot cup of English Breakfast tea and the combination was superb!
  • I have a few ideas on how to improve/perk up the recipe and someday I’ll post my newest re-creation.
Orange Pecan Scones (gluten-free, vegan) © ConnectaBite 2013

Orange Pecan Scones (gluten-free, vegan) © ConnectaBite 2013

British Beetroot Salad

INGREDIENTS

For Salad

  • romaine lettuce (cleaned and chopped)
  • two medium beets (washed, peeled, and cut into small triangular wedges then cooked until tender, yet firm to form)
  • green peas (portion size is up to you, I’m a sprinkler/dumper)
  • two green onion (diced at an angle into 1/4 inch pieces)

For Dressing

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (previously soaked-about 6-8 hours, and rinsed)
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tbsp dulse
  • 3 to 4 tbsp (or more depending on your taste buds) Organic horseradish mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or more depending on your taste buds)
  • freshly crushed black pepper to taste
  • onion granules to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. For Salad:  layer as follows – lettuce on the bottom, followed by green onion, peas, and top with whatever amount of beets sound yummy to you
  2. For Dressing:  in a high powered blender, add to blender all ingredients starting with water, seeds, lemon juice, then horseradish mustard, and so forth.  Blend on low and increase to high until a thick, white creamy sauce is before your eyes.  Do a few taste tests to make sure it’s just right for you.  The dressing should resemble the ubiquitous ‘Ranch’ dressing that so many love.  Drizzle dressing over salad. Enjoy before main entrée.

NOTES

  • You’ll have plenty of leftovers if you’re making this for just two, enjoy this delicious salad for a few days.  Store the dressing in a clean glass jar.
British Beetroot Salad w/ Raw Sunflower Seed Horseradish Dressing © ConnecaBite 2013

British Beetroot Salad w/ Raw Sunflower Seed Horseradish Dressing © ConnecaBite 2013

Lentil & Mushroom Shepherds Pie

               Recipe inspired by Susan Voisin (via Nava Atlas)

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 medium golden yukon potatoes
  • olive oil to taste (for potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup rice milk (rice/quinoa blend-unsweetened)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil or coconut oil*
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (I used white)
  • 2  large cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 cup cooked brown lentils (creates about 3  to 31/2 cups cooked lentils with a little of their cooking liquid)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon reduced-sodium, gluten-free tamari (fermented soy sauce)*
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 to a 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot
  • 8 to 10 ounces baby kale leaves
  • cooked millet, maybe a day or two old

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Dice the potatoes. Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
  2. Mix together olive oil, potatoes and some salt (to taste) then add the milk and mash until fluffy. Cover and set aside until needed.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
  5. Add the lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the tamari (optional) herbs and spices. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring gently, then letting the mixture rest to disperse flavors. Combine the arrowroot with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Stir into the lentil mixture.
  6. Add the kale in small handfuls, cooking just until it’s all wilted down. Remove from the heat; taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.
  7. Lightly oil a 2-quart casserole dish.  Distribute the millet on the bottom of the dish. Pour in the lentil mixture evenly, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top.  The potatoes should spread almost as if they were thick frosting.  Spread with a spatula/bowl scraper.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes–to set–then serve.

NOTES

  • This would be especially tasty with a British inspired onion gravy–vegan and gluten-free of course, but I didn’t make one this time.
  • Also, I was so anxious to try this dish, I didn’t let it set for the 5 minutes initially, but the next day when we had leftovers, oh, so yummy!

shepherd'spie

English Mushroom Lentil Shepherd’s Pie © ConnecaBite 2013

 

Also, I thought you’d want to know we did indeed record this on a Sunday, but editing and the like took a bit longer.  :p

“Isn’t it stimulating, getting back to a basic sort of life for awhile?  Surrounded by trees and nature, one feels a glorious stirring of the senses, a rejection of poisonous inhibition, and a fecund motion of the soul” – Monty, Withnail and I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas VegFest Re-Cap

Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

Good Afternoon Everyone,

As this post is a little delayed from the actual festival, forgive me if my commentaries seem a little moot at this point, but I still feel they are relevant thoughts.  This year, my husband and I volunteered at the West End Info. Booth for Texas VegFest, and we were able to see the festival from the inside out, to some degree.  We were not entrenched in the workings and foundation of all the hard work that initially went into making VegFest a success in 2013, but we did see the love, motivation and dedication that was displayed by all of the hard-working volunteers, vendors, groups, companies, and farmers.

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Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

Let’s get down to it then. Here’s the breakdown about Texas VegFest:

  • Location & Arrangement:  The festival is located in Fiesta Gardens, a park in East Austin that overlooks Lady Bird Lake. There are lovely palm trees and green life all around, not to mention graduated seating areas and plenty of lovely hills and trees to rest under.  The area is spread out and doesn’t lend itself to excessive noise from surrounding streets or road projects, which for me, adds to the ambiance of what this festival is supposed to be about.  Additionally, each tent–whether this act was purposeful or not–seemed cleverly placed to its accentuating counterpart. This helped make the flow and ease of walking around the fest all the more enjoyable.  However, it did occasionally feel like another festival with white-topped tents and a kettle corn vendor in the sense that there was little theme or thought put into the aesthetic of the festival. That for me is BIG.  I’m not generally a carnival, state fair kind of gal, so ‘veggie’ themed or not, I need more incentive than what’s in the title to rouse my interest in walking around for an hour+.  That being said, there was lively music and kind faces. I’ll be patient in the hopes that in years to come, ambiance will be so carefully intertwined into the festival that I won’t even have to give it a second thought.
  • Participation:  If you’re not attuned to the vegetarian/vegan/plant-based diet world,TexasVegFest is certainly a way to get accustomed, in a non-intimidating environment (like many natural foodsstorescan be for some ‘beginners’ or converts), to the manyalternativesthere are out there for people
    Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

    Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

    who want to attempt a cruelty-minimized life.  There were numerous vendors, companies, shops, and groups (like action groups) that were on display, full of lively volunteers ready to inform the VegFest attendees from the communities far-and-wide about their cause, products, etc. There was a tremendous amount of dedication and vigilance given to their specified field, topic, product or company, that once you walked away from their table, you’d be satisfied with full knowledge.  On the downside of this, the crowds of attendees did get thicker, and wading through groups of people on what turned out to be a windy, sun-stricken day didn’t always cater itself to ‘stop and chat a bit with the owner, creator, vendor, what have you’.  Additionally, I would have liked to have seen MORE action groups and informative booths.  Texas VegFest is a blanket of lifestyle choices so you could easily be a passive attendee and still really enjoy the fest, but for those who want to get a full experience, I fear this year would not have given them that.  I did speak to some very informative and pleasant action/information groups, and I hope next year the word gets out to even more groups so participation is even greater.

  • Samples & Variety:  Coupled with ideas from above, I hesitate not when Isaythat that Saturday wasasampletastic event, but unfortunately I think the vendors were holding backalittle bit.  My husband and I leftwithnumerous raw bars and delicious treats that we’re still enjoying, butthesnackage was definitely limited in quantityandportion sizing.  Maybe we were a little spoiled from the first year, whereinwewere overloaded with goodies to take home or eat there on the spot.Thismay be true, but generally, I think the vendors were being alittlestingier this year.  All of this being said,the quality of the hand-outs was superb, the variety was tremendous and helpful allergy labeling
    Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

    Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

    was never lacking.  We’re both pretty seasoned in the ‘veggie-world’, but even we found items at VegFest we had never heard about.  On the flip side, I was highly disappointed this  year, much like last year, that there were so few farmers.  Most of the samples were not of actual vegetable dishes nor were they whole food based.  Perhaps I just have the wrong idea of what a festival is supposed to be, but I didn’t even see a tent for SFC (Sustainable Food Center), and I think farmers (and non-profits that support farmers) should be represented more than ever these days, trying to spread the word about local, fresh-sourced foods.  Even if local and fresh-source is not something you’re remotely concerned with, it should have been represented more.  Johnson’s Backyard Garden was there, which pleased me, but they weren’t sampling any of their produce.  Sigh.  I hope for more actual vegetables in festivals to come.

  • Demos, Speakers & Interactive Kid Zone:   As I didn’t have the privilege to attend any of the cooking demos or speaking events this year, I cannot comment on them directly, but I can say that this is one absolute plus that Texas VegFest has working in its favor.  Interaction and education is a great way to help the public (and that includes me) understand and appreciate what it means to expose yourself and others to a vegetable-friendly diet and lifestyle.  Also, there was an interactive kid zone with many fun activities for kids to get acquainted with vegetables and an alternative lifestyle in a way they maybe never had before.  There was kids yoga and coloring games to name just a couple.

What more can I say?  Texas VegFest increased both in community attendance and in vendor participation this year, far exceeding last year’s numbers. As someone who volunteered, the festival certainly helps to uplift and bring a positive message to the city of Austin.  I hope for more years of success in this festival, and I look forward to helping make this possible.

What are your thoughts on Texas VegFest, or a VegFest in your city or state?  I’d love to hear any feedback.  Thanks for reading and have a lovely Sunday afternoon. And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest | Sweet Ritual vegan ice cream w/ sprinkles!!!

Texas Veg Fest

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photo by: RAM – ConnectaBite March 2012 | Lady Bird Lake

Good Afternoon Everyone,

I hope you’re all faring well.  Today, I’d like to highlight the Texas Veg Fest, soon to be in Austin, TX for its second year running.  After attending last year’s first Texas Veg Fest, I’m anxious to see what changes there will be.  Last year, I was able to sample a tremendous amount of food, I scored tons of great coupons and freebies and chatted with some helpful and informative companies/vendors.  I would say if you’re into trying new, funky vegetarian/vegan variations of foods like faux migas, faux cheese (that melts :p ), and some of the best dairy-free ice-creams out there, this festival is for you!  You will also get connected to businesses that are in the holistic and naturopathic vein, which is incredibly beneficial if you’re new to a plant-based diet.  Having a support system is incredibly important during any transition and there were numerous outlets of info last year and many more to come, this year.  My hope is that there will be more of an abundance of veggies and whole foods this year, but only time will tell.

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photo by: RAM – ConnectaBite March 2012 | Lady Bird Lake

Here’s a breakdown of  Texas Veg Fest, straight from the source:  

Texas VegFest is a family-friendly festival celebrating plant-based foods, with a focus on health, physical fitness, the environment, and compassionate living. For this year’s event, more than five thousand attendees will gather at beautiful Fiesta Gardens on Town Lake on Saturday, April 6th from 11am – 6pm. With engaging activities, vendors, speakers, demos, and, of course, great food and live music, you won’t want to miss Texas VegFest!

Our Fabulous Speakers and Cooking Demonstrations

Come see best-selling cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz cook delicious cashew-based meals like Caesar salad, Creamy Chickpea and Rice Soup, and cheesecake. Executive Chef Ayinde Howell, the entrepreneur behind Hillside Quickies in Seattle, will be serving up some amazing vegan soul food including Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Texas BBQ Rubbed Seitan, and Mini Sloppy Joes. The Blissful Chef Christy Morgan will demonstrate easy protein-packed snacks that everyone will love.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, the author of five books and frequent guest on Food Network and PBS, will captivate you with her presentation “From Excusitarian to Vegan.” Champion boxer Omowale Adewale is coming all the way from New York to share his presentation on how to incorporate positive habits into your life. His presentation will be interactive, so come prepared to learn a few moves. Dr. Baxter Montgomery, the founder of Montgomery Heart and Wellness, a cardiology practice and wellness center in Houston, will speak about all the health benefits of going plant-based.

Fantastic Activities for Families

In our kids’ area, enjoy youth yoga and face painting by Austin Bhakti Yoga, Austin’s premier nonprofit yoga center, or watch Austin’s healthy cooking school, The Natural Epicurean, demo recipes for kids and teens. Food is Free Project will share their model of simultaneously growing food and community through seed planting and seed ball-making activities. The captivating Brooke Chavez of Sunny Day Farms will be speaking to kids and teens about animal compassion and awareness. Sunny Day Farms is the largest farm animal sanctuary in the Central United States. For some quiet time to balance all this activity, Vegbooks.org has donated fantastic kids’ books for our reading and coloring zone.

Hungry for Food and Knowledge?

photo by:  Heather Schramm

photo by: Heather Schramm

Hungry attendees can feast on a variety of food such as curry, Tex-Mex, funnel cake, fresh juices, cupcakes, falafel, and veggie burgers from some of Austin’s most-loved restaurants. Or sample delicious treats and great products from companies across the nation. It’s all delicious, and it’s all vegan!

Premier Sponsor Wheatsville Co-op, opening their new store off South Lamar in June 2013, will have a booth representing their cooperative shopping model.

Explore local produce, tempeh, earth-friendly cleaning products, agave nectar, plant protein mixes, an electric car, blenders, baked goods, and other items showcased by Texas VegFest sponsors Plant Fusion, South Point Nissan, Natural Epicurean, and Wholesome Sweeteners, Vitamix, Clif Bar, Health Force Nutritionals, Dr. Lucy’s, Greenling, Johnson’s Backyard Gardening, The Hearty Vegan, Veggietopia, Way Better Snacks, Ecos Earth Friendly Products.

Nonprofits like Mercy For Animals and Vegans Rock Austin will be there to answer all your questions about how you can help protect animals. And people of all ages can enjoy a few moments of guided mediation by the Isha foundation on the shore of Town Lake.

Talented Music Line-up

It wouldn’t be an Austin festival without live music, and Texas VegFest doesn’t disappoint! Musical backdrop for Texas VegFest 2013 includes:

·         Edison Chair

·         Ray Prim

·         Mighty Mountain

·         Silver Ships

·         The Asteroid Shop

·         Technicolor Hearts

 

More information at www.TexasVegFest.com. Email us at info@texasvegfest.com, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!

 

Official TVF 2013 Poster

Official TVF 2013 Poster

 

Keep an eye out sometime next week for my follow-up post on the festival, where I will give a ’round-two, Veg Fest breakdown’.  My thoughts, exciting new discoveries, critiques and more.  I’ll break it down for you!

Thanks for reading, tell all of your friends, and I hope to see you there.  And remember…bite responsibly!

 

Healthy Regards,

 

RAM

Austin: Natural and Alternative Food Purchases

 

Maggie Cooks

Maggie Cooks

Hello Everyone!

I’ve been talking so much lately about daily eating habits, I thought I’d give a little perspective on some helpful resources to enable said habits within the city of Austin, in case you happen to live here and don’t know where to go, or in case you’re dropping in for a visit.  Either way, I know when I go traveling, I need to know where I can pick up my kind of shopping purchases without having to drive all over to find the best sources and the best prices.  Also, I very frequently emphasize the farmers’ market, but this post will focus more on stops outside of the fresh market arena.

Places to Check Out (Please note, this list is not exhaustive):

(Categories:  selection, prices, environment, energy, location, service)

Wheatsville Co-op:

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  •  Location:  3101 Guadalupe St  Austin, TX 78705 (new location to open soon)
  • Some items of note:  If you’re looking for a store that brings both value, and top alternative merchandise with a wonderful and welcoming environment, this is the place for you.  Their production section is fantastic yet minimal.  They don’t overstock produce, but I’ve never NOT found what I was looking for.  They place emphasis, as I’m sure you could guess, on local produce and organic produce.  There are the regular exotic fruits like bananas and a pretty regular selection of junior coconuts.  The produce staff will assist you in sizing down heavy weighted items like cabbage, if you’re not interested in buying the entire thing.  Their deli has a tremendous amount of vegan and gluten-free options, though I will say their pre-made dishes are a little canola oil/soy heavy for my taste, but generally,  I feel their options are a nice range of both healthy and “craving” foods to meet our many food moods.  They have consistent items behind the counter like their breakfast tacos and the very popular vegan ‘po’ boy’ sandwich, yet they offer seasonal dishes to suit your pallet, such as roasted acorn squash slices.  Just adjacent to the deli, is the baked goods/pastry section where you’ll find Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery’s vegan doughnuts, fair-trade coffee, and a wide variety of other goods in stock everyday.  If you have a wheat intolerance/allergy stop by on Wednesday’s for their wheat-free items.

Natural Grocers:

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  • Locations:  3901 Guadalupe St. Austin, TX & 10515 N. Mopac Expressway, Bldg L
  • Some items of note:  Best Austin bargains for natural and alternative foods, overall.  I always pick up my kombuchas here as they have a variety of brands and the best deal.  Also, they have an extensive tea selection (boxed mainly), but if you’re into Tulsi tea at all, they have the biggest selection I’ve ever seen.  There is not a deli/meat counter of any sort, but they do frequently have new items sampled at the front of the store, typically with their creator or a proxy.  Within the produce section, they will discount their bananas once they are overly ripe, which is great because I LOVE ripe bananas (remember my brown buddy rule)!  Also, they have a wide range of raw nuts and seeds kept fresh by refrigeration.  Natural Grocers subtly stresses strength in health via diet (nutrition) and supplementation.  They have a myriad of sources within their store, ranging from in-store nutritional assistance to books/magazines galore!

The Daily Juice & Juiceland:

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  • Location: Multiple locations for each shop
  • If you’re in the mood for fresh juice and freshly prepared sandwiches, salads and other alternative goodies (even vegan soft serve and the works), these are definitely places you should stop into at some point.  Immunity boosting shots and incredibly healing foods in their purest form…how could I leave these two shops off of my list?  If you’re interested in raw foods, such as protein powders, bars, drinks, treats, granolas, supplements and more, each of these places are very concentrated and will not only have special and unique items you may not be able to find anywhere else, but they will also have a helpful staff to school you on all you’d like to know.  

 

 

 

Mr. Natural:  

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  • Locations:  1901 E. Cesar Chavez  &  2414 – A South Lamar  &  205 E. Rundberg Ln.
  • Not only can you reach out to Mr. Natural for a quick prepared bite, but you can also stop in for alternative, and some Mexican-inspired, pastries and baked goods, that range from vegan to gluten-free.  Alongside their restaurant you’ll find a wide range of vitamins, supplements and an assortment of foodstuffs that are certainly not in the mainstream’s eye.  Check out their radio spots too, if you’re into connecting even more!

As there are a multitude of stops in Austin for natural foods and alternative products, what you’ll see listed below are places I frequent less for an assortment of reasons, but none-the-less are ultimately good spots to check-out if you’re looking for the non-standard grocery visit.  I’ve listed their locations throughout Austin, in case you’re not interested in checking out their website.

People’s Pharmacy

  • Locations:  13860 US 183 N, Ste C (at 620)  &  4018 North Lamar  &  3801 South Lamar  &  4201 Westbank Drive
  • How it stands out:  Often goes the extra step, and will often have staff on hand to chat with you about healthful food purchases.  If they (the staff) are not able to find what your’e looking for, they will direct you to the best spots in town to pick them up in case they’re out.

Central Market

  • Locations: 4001 N. Lamar Blvd.  &  4477 S. Lamar Blvd. 
  • How it stands out:  They offer an amazing array of mushrooms that you can’t find anywhere else, and they often have very exotic fruits if you’re living on the edge that particular day.   :p

Whole Foods

  •  Locations:  525 N Lamar Blvd.  &  4301 W. William Cannon Bldg B, Ste 800  &  9607 Research Blvd.  &  
  • How it stands out:  It’s the first Whole Foods, huge, and often offers young coconuts with holes drilled in them with a straw, screaming “DRINK ME!”

Sprouts

  • 10225 Research Blvd.  &  6920 Manchaca Rd.  &  4006 S. Lamar Blvd..
  • How it stands out:  It has an incredible bulk section and often has great sales, you just have to be around to catch them.

Austin is the kind of city that caters to the palates of the counter-culture and droves of foodies that settle and pass through.  I hope this list is of some assistance to you in your travels through or settlement of our tasty city.  And remember…bite responsibly!

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Healthy Regards,

 

RAM

 

Local, National, Global, Organic…is there a correct choice?

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Good Afternoon Everyone,

A topic of discussion recently was where our food comes from and why this does or doesn’t matter to some people.  More specifically, the dilemma of whether or not it matters if you buy organic, local, global/national… for some, this isn’t even a modest point of food buying contention, and for others, location and type is a pertinent part of purchasing (forgive me, alliteration is fun for me).  I’d like to use this week’s post to discuss some intricacies of these decisions and why I think it matters to at least give them thought, no matter your choice.

http://www.businessoffashion.com/2011/01/bof-daily-digest-biba-triumphs-the-jimmy-choo-man-asos-sales-accelerate-japan’s-department-stores-slide-sartorial-seniority.html

http://www.businessoffashion.com/2011/01/bof-daily-digest-biba-triumphs-the-jimmy-choo-man-asos-sales-accelerate-japan’s-department-stores-slide-sartorial-seniority.html

Here are some definitions/explanations for a quick summary, so we’re all on the same page.

  • organic foods:  foods that have been produced and processed without the use of commercial chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides or synthetic substances that enhance color or flavor. Organic foods must meet legally regulated production standards in order to use the term organic.
  • local foods:  (also regional food or food patriotism) or the local food movement is a “collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies – one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution, and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of a particular place”[1] and is considered to be a part of the broader sustainability movement. It is part of the concept of local purchasing and local economies, a preference to buy locally produced goods and services. Those who prefer to eat locally grown/produced food sometimes call themselves locavores or localvores.

Some things you may want to ask yourself/think about:

  • How far does my food travel?
  • Organic or sustainable, or both?
  • What is local to you? ( your state, your town, neighboring towns, the country)
  • Why am I choosing to consume this food and why from this source?
  • What’s more important to me, a dietary shift that might make less impact (more explanation to come) or simply eating local?  If they are both a factor, why?
  • How is the produce I purchase farmed?
  • How are the workers treated who help to farm the food I like?
  • What is the quality of the food I’m buying/does it have a full flavor?
  • What are my values when it comes to purchasing food?

These are all important considerations to have because critically thinking over why you are or are not consuming something, believe it or not IS important.  Don’t let some online article or blog (that means me) tell you what to think, feel or otherwise, use the tools you have at your fingertips to come up with the most educated answer for you and you alone.  As human beings, we’re graced with being individuals and cursed (if you so choose to see ‘it’ this way) carrying the burden (sometimes it seems) of consciousness, but we can easily write off our very important, innate gifts due to apathy or laziness, but if everyone was lazy, where would we all be?

What follows are some factoids–if you may–that I’ve gathered and some personal reflections/thoughts.  I hope I am able to help you on your food journey in connecting the bites.

FrenchFrouFrou Antiques Etsy

FrenchFrouFrou Antiques Etsy

Labels, marketing and our own personal hang-ups can definitely put a very opaque cover over what information is hiding beneath it all, but in the instance that something says that it is local, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not chemical-laden (although most smaller farms are organic).  Just because it’s local, doesn’t mean it’s more nutrient dense or going to taste better (in many instances it does, but blanket assumptions get tricky).  However, organic food is typically produced with less toxicity (also exudes less in its food) and requires less irrigation(less energy), sometimes.  An example would be tomatoes, which by their nature, grow outside in fields.  Sometimes tomatoes are grown in a pot on your porch, but oftentimes, if the climate of the area you live is not suited for growing tomatoes, they will be produced in a greenhouse and create more environmental questions.  Those field tomatoes may travel farther, but they also may have less of an environmental impact.

Most produce–food in general–travels by fossil-fuel based transport thousands of miles, which leave toxic carbon dioxide emissions–1,500 average miles–before it reaches your neighborhood grocery store.  Additionally, some modes of transportation are more efficient than others. (research by:  Rich Pirog, the associate director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University).

Something else to consider is food chain rank (however archaic this may seem), more emissions and more energy  usage = higher ranked food chain items.  

But in a global–and only growing larger by the minute–economy, we as mindful consumers must also face the nagging question of whether our local purchases, if widespread, will harm our economic growth as a strong nation, in the bigger picture. Idealist perhaps think not of this impact, or maybe don’t care, but some, if you’re anything like me, don’t see their choices as black or white.  The lines are alternately, rather blurred.  Is a copacetic relationship between our environment and the global economy possible, can they be friends?  Clare Hinrichs, a sociologist, stated, “food patriotism, aimed at counteracting the forces of globalization that have put the state’s family farmers at risk.”  What are your thoughts?

Surrender Dorothy Etsy

Surrender Dorothy Etsy

A few more facts:

  • Sage Van Wing and a friend coined the term “locavore”.
  • 83% of our greenhouse emissions are created before they even leave the farm.  – Tara Garnett, UT Food System.

Some may be wondering, so where do you stand?  If this is the first blog post of mine you’ve ever read, my stance might be  a little confusing, but nevertheless, I feel it’s inconsequential to what your choices might be.  Honestly, I take great pride and pleasure in being able to buy local produce and items from my local vendors because I’ve worked to help their process and I have seen what it takes.  I think we each have to consider our personal values and what matters most to us and not worry so much about what others may or may not think.  However, I do think there should be those moments for thought.  I can say with some certainty, that there’s nothing wrong with considering why you’re making the food choices you’re making, and being a positive influence to those around you.  Less judgement and more understanding and education, that’s key.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!  And remember…bite responsibly!

 

Healthy Regards,

~RAM~

 

p.s.

Some links you might enjoy checking out:

World Watch

5 Reasons to Eat Local Foods

Michael Pollan video

Freakonomics – Eating Local

Michael Pollan:  Organic Study