Tag Archives: Whole Foods Market

Eating as a Non-Vegetarian- Lime and Garlic Marinated Porkchops with Cilantro-Lime Quinoa

Ok, I admit it: I like meat.

I don’t eat it very much. In fact, I eat it pretty infrequently. I rarely purchase it.

But I like it. I like the way it tastes. And there are very few photos of piglets that will make me feel guilty about enjoying a slice of bacon.

However, what I can’t come to terms with is what happened to the meat before its arrival at my dinner table. It arrives after inhumane mammalian brutality, hundreds (if not thousands) of travel miles, and undocumented harm to food workers.

All because I wanted a slice of bacon.

Yeah…that’s not ok.

I’m reaching a point in my life where I can’t bear to purchase meat that’s been produced in ways I can’t stomach. I mean, my ancestors ate meat- but the meat they ate is not the meat I buy at my local grocery store.

As regular readers of this blog know, I can pontificate on this topic for pages and pages. But all I really need to say is that in order for me to eat meat, I need to be prepared to find meat that was harvested from animals who were raised humanely.

Yes, it will be expensive. But that’s the price of being an omnivore in the 21st century first world.

ANYWAY, since yesterday was the most beautiful day ever (seriously, anyone who wasn’t in the North Carolina triad yesterday missed out on a gorgeous Southern spring day), I decided to make my girlfriend a spring-y dinner of pork chops and quinoa.

So where does an ecologically conscious Winston-Salem resident go when they want fresh meat?

Whole Foods Market, of course.

Whole Foods has a remarkable devotion to the sale of sustainably produced food items AND (probably most importantly) to crafting and maintaining solid relationships with farmers and ranchers. Since the food chain from farmer to consumer grows with every congressional bill and ‘science innovation’, it is more important than ever for us to support companies who strive to cut out the millions of middle men who get in the way of Americans eating food which doesn’t go against the evolution of our bodies.

As far as meat sales go, Whole Foods adheres to the stringent guidelines of the Animal Welfare Rating Standards, which are produced by the Global Animal Partnership. Basically, they have a 5 step standards list which details the requirements for a livestock animal’s living conditions. It looks like this:

Step 1: No crowding
Step 2: Enriched environment
Step 4: Pasture centered
Step 5: Animal centered: No physical alterations
Step 5+: Animal Centered: Entire life on same farm

As you probably noticed, there’s no step 3 for cattle. There are separate charts for poultry and pigs. And at Whole Foods, all the meat options are labeled with the number which corresponds to this chart. It’s another way of letting you know where your food came from.

Since I was making pork chops, here are the five steps I looked at:

Step 1: No crates, stalls or cages
Step 2: Enriched environment
Step 3: Enhanced outdoor access
Step 4: Pasture centered
Step 5: Animal centered: No physical alterations
Step 5+: Animal Centered: Entire life on same farm

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I ended up buying some very pretty chops from a local farm with a 4 rating. There were other options, but the fact that the meat came from a nearby farm means that the journey from farm to table was very short, and it insures the freshest ingredients possible.

It does not, however, insure the cheapest price.

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But here’s the thing- I can’t pretend to not know what I know about factory farming. And if I want to eat meat in spite of that knowledge, I need to be prepared to pay the price.

Plus, the flavor of this finished dinner was more than worth the money. I’m not a huge fan of lime and/or cilantro, but both of those flavors keep popping up in my recipes recently. I’m blaming it on Chipotle– I mean, who doesn’t love their cilantro-lime rice? But instead of making rice, I decided to try out the same flavor combo with quinoa. I’d say it was a success- Kate basically licked her plate clean.

(Ok, so she didn’t lick it clean. But she probably wanted to lick it clean.)

Both of these recipes are unbelievably simple, and can be whipped up very quickly. They can be served together, or paired with other dishes. For example, substituting cilanto-lime quinoa in a homemade Chipotle burrito bowl is a healthier option than eating mounds of fluffy white rice.

(I mean, don’t get me wrong- I LOVE fluffy white rice. But quinoa is just as delicious, and packs an unbeatable nutritional punch.)

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Lime and Garlic Marinated Pork Chops

(Adapted from Gina’s Skinny Recipes)

Yield: 2-4 servings (depending upon size of pork chops)

Ingredients:

4 (6 oz) lean boneless pork chops ( for the record, I made this recipe using 2 super thick bone-in chops, and the proportions still worked perfectly)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

1/2 lime, juice of

lime zest

salt and fresh pepper

1. Trim off extra pork fat.

Basically, go from here:

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To Here:

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2. In a large bowl season pork with garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Squeeze lime juice and some zest from the lime and let it marinade at least 20 minutes.

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I always recommend long marinade times, but if you need to make this in a hurry, 20 minutes should get the job done. I had to whip up this meal pretty quickly, and I think 20 minutes was long enough to get a good flavor infusion.


3. Line broiler pan with foil for easy clean up. Place pork chops on the broiler pan and broil about 4-6 minutes on each side or until nicely browned.

While that’s cooking…

Cilantro-Lime Quinoa

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup dry quinoa

1 1/4 cup Water

1 lime, juice of

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1. Follow my instructions for fool-proof quinoa.

2. While quinoa is cooking, combine chopped cilantro, lime juice, and remaining oil in a medium bowl and toss until completely mixed. When quinoa is finished cooking, add it to cilantro-lime mixture and toss until coated.

Bam, dinner is served.

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Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you: Kate and I also ate French fries with our dinner. But those French fries are extra special, and will be reviewed in a separate post. However, just for the record, they were absolutely delicious. Smile

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What I Ate This Spring Break: Vacation Restaurant Edition

So today is the final official day of spring break. Boo Hiss. As much as I hate to say good-bye to my free time, I have to admit that this break was the perfect combination: I went on a mini-vacation with awesome people, cleaned my apartment, and got to see my family. All in all, this has been one of the most well-balanced spring breaks in my personal history.

(I also did quite a bit of cooking and recipe documentation. Among other dishes, I made potato-leek soup, chocolate Guinness cake, and my own take on Chipotle burrito bowls complete with homemade slow-cooked pork barbacoa. Get your appetite ready: this week’s recipe posts are going to make you drool all over your computer.)

In honor of the end of my restful week, I’ve decided not to do anything productive today. You heard me right: instead of fretting over details of the coming week, I am going to lay low and enjoy my last day of freedom. Plus, today is the final day of the Baha’i Fast: tomorrow is Naw Ruz, the Baha’i New Year! Needless to say, it’s a pretty exciting time in my apartment.

I’ll probably spend the majority of the day reading the two books which have claimed my attention this week:

middlesexthe omnivores dilemma

Having free reading time has probably been the absolute best part of this break. I’m usually so bogged down with work and school that I don’t have time to read for pure enjoyment.

However, before I fall into the Reading Rainbow vortex, I really want to share some of the meals I ate while on my Wrightsville Beach vacation earlier this week. Before we get started, be warned: I ate without concern over calories. And while some of my meals were not the healthiest in existence, they were really freaking delicious.
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Let’s start with the Causeway Café, a very popular Wrightsville Beach breakfast haunt. I was quite charmed by the restaurants beach décor- it was all driftwood accents and kitschy souvenir shop goodies. They have a very detailed menu and it’s predominantly breakfast- since breakfast is my favorite meal of the day (I could probably eat breakfast for every meal), I was all too eager to try out one of their famous offerings. And, in spite of my vegetarian tendencies, I really couldn’t help myself- I didn’t hesitate when I decided to order the “Meat Lovers Breakfast”.

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The Meat Lovers Breakfast includes a GIANT sausage link which (I’m pretty sure) was homemade. It also included FOUR strips of bacon, and a slice of ham. Not salty country ham (which I kind of hate), but thick and moist regular ham.

BUT WAIT: That’s not all-

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We can’t forget about the scrambled eggs, grits, and pancake.

The pancake was almost the size of my face (and I have a HUGE face). It was thin (just the way I like ‘em) and had a very nice flavor. In my opinion, pancakes are frequently ruined because they are both too mealy, and they taste like flat slices of bread. This pancake was delicately sweetened, and the texture was nice and fluffy.

Also, I’ve spoken extensively on my grits theories, and I’m constantly frustrated by the ways that restaurants manage to ruin this subtly complex dish. In fact, as a rule, I try to order grits at every breakfast restaurant at which I eat- I think it’s a great restaurant comparison measure (plus I freaking LOVE them.) With all my needs and wants, I frequently expect to be disappointed by the average grits bowl- however, Causeway Café exceeded all of my expectations. Their grits are clearly made by real Southerners who know what the dish should taste like- smooth, creamy, and perfectly seasoned (the best grits should not require additional seasoning- another common mistake.) Also, in my opinion, the best grits should be so creamy that individual nuggets of corn kernel are indistinguishable- this is a trait that can be very difficult to attain. Causeway’s grits were the very definition of creamy- honestly, if I had not already been swimming in food, I probably would have ordered another bowl. They rocked my world.

(The eggs were great, too. I am really picky about my eggs- so picky that a paragraph in a beach wrap-up blog entry is truly not good enough. One of these days I’ll have to get around to writing my egg manifesto. In the meantime, just know that all the eggs I ate on this trip met my ridiculously high expectations.)

On to the next spot: during our last night in New Hanover County, my companions and I decided to go big before we went home and we dined at a French restaurant called Caprice Bistro.

As one might expect, Caprice is not known for its inexpensive or healthy dishes. It is, however, known for its delicious eats, and I figured: “JESSAMYN YOU’RE ON VACATION JUST SHUT UP AND EAT!”

Well, Jessamyn’s manic sub-conscious, I can’t argue with that logic.

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I love a good dimly lit restaurant photo, don’t you?

I ordered duck confit, served with sauteed potatoes, petit salad, and balsamic jus. The duck was positively sinful- it fell off the bone and was moist beyond belief. However, for the record (and I know I’m about to be admitted into a special layer of culinary hell), I hate balsamic vinegar. I try to like it- trust me, I try. But the sweet yet oddly nutty and savory flavor is always an unwelcome taste in my mouth. I’m not so unrefined that I don’t understand why balsamic is the chosen accent ingredient for this dish (or, for that matter, in most dishes), but I personally find the flavor to be very unpleasant. By no means did it ruin the dish for me, but it certainly didn’t help.

(I also ordered pomme frites with homemade mayonnaise and I ate them too quickly for a photo to be taken. Surprisingly, I was not very impressed by the fries. They tasted just like any french fries I could get at any restaurant. And, to worsen matters, I’m absolutely certain I’ve eaten better fries at significantly lower brow establishments. The mayo was good, but it was a little too thick for my taste, and dipping the frites in it was very difficult. Again, a very good dish, but it wasn’t a home run.)

After a great trip, and with sadness in our hearts, my posse and I were eventually forced to head home.On the way home from Wrightsville Beach,we decided to console ourselves at a restaurant called Chris’ Cosmic Kitchen.

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First of all, I need to applaud Chris’ Cosmic Kitchen’s proper use of social media- before heading out, my clan checked out yelp to find the best ‘on the road’ brekky option. The Cosmic Kitchen had excellent reviews AND an offer for a free drink simply by mentioning their presence on yelp. Therefore, guess who had a free cup of hot tea with her breakfast? THIS GIRL. By this point in the trip, I was starting to remember my food ideals and I decided to order the egg white Farmer’s omelet, served with rye toast and grits.

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The farmer’s omelet is stuffed with lots of yummy vegetation- peppers, spinach, mushrooms, etc. It was quite tasty. However, the grits did not live up to my aforementioned expectations. They were very thick, which is usually a good thing. However, the thickness could be attributed to the grainy texture of the grits. I could taste and feel every individual corn kernel. For the record- NOT A GOOD THING. They also required a fair amount of additional seasoning (from very unruly salt and pepper shakers). All in all, I was not pleased with these grits- they weren’t bad, and I’ve definitely had worse. But I probably wouldn’t order them again.

Ugh- writing about all this food has got me jonesing for another beach trip. Sad smile

In other news, I’m thinking about starting a mini-herb garden in one of my kitchen windows. Whole Foods has a really exciting selection of organic and local herbs for sale. However, my gardening thumb is definitely not green- it’s more like a muted grey. Do you have any at-home gardening tips?

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Filed under food, restaurant reviews, vacation

FonDOs and DON’Ts: Why I’m Not a Vegetarian

Yesterday, thanks to a series of modern science miracles (dayquil, sudafed) paired with home cure-alls (a 48 hour long relationship with my neti pot) and the best remedy of them all (SLEEPSLEEPSLEEP), I emerged from the depths of plague just in time to make a fondue Valentine’s Day Dinner for my girlfriend.

 

Fondue incorporates everything I love about food and community- it brings diners together to create a meal which is representative of individuals, while encouraging fellowship. Seriously, I could probably write a dissertation on ‘how and why fondue can create a food revolution’, but I’ll try to contain myself. Anyway, my obsession with fondue started a few years ago: ever since then, I’ve amassed a collection of fondue pots (so far I own seven) which are on display around my apartment. This also means that I’m constantly looking for excuses to use them.

(For those of you who are rolling your eyes at the thought of a fondue pot collection, I encourage you to take a look at your shoe/dvd/perfume collection and keep the judging to a minimum.)

Anyway, making a three course fondue dinner at home, while it does take a bit of prep work, is really easy. The process is made even easier when you haven’t spent your weekend dealing with a nose full of mucus, but that’s neither here nor there.

When planning a dinner of this magnitude (even if it’s only for two people), I find it’s helpful to make a detailed shopping list- this is a preventative measure so that you don’t end up wandering around a grocery store for longer than necessary. Ok, maybe I did that anyway- but that has more to do with the fact that I was sick, partially delirious, and the fact that I’m not immune to the well-orchestrated insanity of Whole Foods on Valentine’s Day Eve.

Already owning a fondue pot (or seven) makes planning a spur of the moment Valentine’s Dinner pretty easy- therefore, I would recommend investing in a fondue pot of your very own. Since I bought most of my pots at yard sales, my entire collection probably has an exact monetary value of less than $40. However, a couple of my pots are individually worth more than $40. For those who are not willing to scour yard sales, I would recommend purchasing a pot with a reliable non-stick cooking surface and easy to use heating system- if you’re going to purchase more than one pot, feel free to get exciting with your heat sources (butane fuel, tea light candles). However, if you’ve never done fondue outside of the occasional Melting Pot Dinner, I would recommend getting an easy to use plug-in fondue pot. There a couple of models which would make great starter pots- Rival FD350S and Cuisnart CFO-3SS, for starters.

Anyway, I made a classic Swiss cheese fondue and Fondue Bourguignonne, a traditional meat fondue. Here’s my first confession- I was too cheap and lazy to make a swiss cheese fondue from scratch, so I bought a pre-packaged Swiss fondue.

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I was very pleased with this purchase- it made my life SO MUCH EASIER, and cost less than it would have cost to individually buy the necessary cheeses. I bought this box of cheese for $6.99 at World Market and it was worth every penny. To dip in the cheese, I chopped up a couple of granny smith apples and half a loaf of 3-grain whole wheat sourdough from Whole Foods.

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I think it’s best to use a really hearty bread for cheese fondue- it’s less easy to drown your bread in the cheese, and it helps decrease the odds of cheese overdose (something I’ve never experienced, but am absolutely sure can happen. To someone who is less cheese obsessed).

Fondue Bourguignonne is really easy to make, as it’s just 2 cups of oil (I used canola) heated to 350 degrees. You dip the meat in the oil, cook until your desired ‘done-ness’ and voila- meat, it’s what’s for dinner. However, Fondue Bourguignonne is NOT healthy, and VERY dangerous. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to have a fire extinguisher nearby. I mean, if you’re not using an open flame then it’s probably ok, but sputtering oil does not feel good when it comes in contact with bare, tender skin. Basically, use caution when preparing this dish.

Since this was a special occasion, I tried to buy really high quality meats- I decided to use a local London Broil, and local sweet Italian sausage. I chopped both meats into bite size, fast cooking pieces.

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As a rule, I don’t eat a lot of meat. It’s very expensive, and it becomes especially expensive to buy meat which doesn’t make me feel like a horrible person for even looking at the packaging. However, when it’s possible to find meat that was butchered from animals who were raised in humane conditions and fed meals which are representative of their actual dietary needs (as opposed to wide-spread animal homicide through corn feed), I have less of a problem incorporating meat in my diet. For me (I can’t and won’t speak for anyone else), it’s important to be able to make a direct connection between the meat I’ve consumed and the animal that gave up its life. It’s nearly impossible for me to come to terms with meat that’s been slaughtered in factories which exploit both the animals and the workers. However, I think it’s important to support local farmers, and raising livestock is one of the traditional crucial elements of a working farm. Do I eat meat on a daily basis? No. Will I eat meat if the circumstances are acceptable? Sure.

Anyway, one of the best parts of making a meat fondue is getting your meat nice and crispy, then coating it in tasty dipping sauces.

I made two dipping sauces from scratch- they were both REALLY easy, and pretty healthy.

First I made a mustard sauce using the rest of my FAGE Greek yogurt- I even mixed it up right in the container.

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Mustard Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Greek Yogurt

3 tbsp Dijon Mustard

1 tsp Coriander

1 clove Garlic

1-2 tbsp Lemon Juice

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Combine all the ingredients, mix well and chill until serving.

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I have to say, this sauce turned out awesome- This is my own original recipe, and I was really pleased with the consistency and flavor. Most mustard sauces use mayonnaise and/or sour cream as a base, but Greek yogurt gives a delicious creamy texture for a fraction of the calories. Plus, on a personal note, I think it tastes better.

I also made a Teriyaki Sauce.

Teriyaki Sauce

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup chicken stock (I used Maggi bouillon dissolved in H20)

– 3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
– 2 Tbsp fresh or bottled lemon juice
– 2 tsp cooking sherry
– 2 tsp honey
– 1 clove garlic

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan; heat to boiling. Refrigerate until serving time. Can be served warm or cold.

This sauce also turned out quite delicious.

When preparing new recipes, I know many cooks on a budget can be deterred by expensive ingredients that they don’t use frequently. I mean, hello? Cooking sherry? It’s not exactly an every day ingredient. However, my method for gaining a recipe friendly pantry is to make a list of dry ingredients which occur frequently in recipes. Then, gradually (one or two at a time) purchase the ingredients during routine grocery store trips- this way, when you come across a new recipe or concoct a dream recipe,  you have the necessary tools on hand without going into spontaneous debt. I’ve accumulated countless vinegars, oils, and spices using this method: most recently I bought toasted sesame oil which has elevated my impromptu tofu scrambles to another level.

For dessert, I decided not to make a river of chocolate fondue and opted for a couple of (GASP) store bought desserts.

Actually, this was probably my best idea- I bought four tiny desserts (two mini chocolate covered cheesecake bites, a mini-cannoli, and a petit four). This way, my girlfriend and I were able to have a very sweet dessert without creating a ton of leftovers and without breaking the caloric bank. Also, they were only .99 per treat- Whole Foods Market, you are my valentine.

I hope everyone has a great Valentine’s Day. If you’re single, try not to let the antics of your slobbering friends (myself included) get you down- self-love is much more important than love from a partner.

And if you’re slobbering all over someone, try to remember than Valentine’s Day is not the only day of the year that you should make a noted effort to show care for the one you love (or ones– monogamy is not for everyone).

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Product Review: Siggi’s Icelandic Style Skyr Yogurt

I love yogurt. It’s one of the many reasons why I have difficulty commiting to a vegan diet- that, and all the delicious varieties of cheese this world has to offer. However, I don’t like certain kinds of yogurt- in particular, runny, fruit on the bottom varieties. Ok, I’m not going to discriminate against all ‘fruit on the bottom’ yogurts, but c’mon- I know you’ve probably had a bad experience with some 4/$1 brand of runny, low-fat, fruit on the bottom yogurt. If you’re anything like me and could recount pages of bad yogurt adventures, you have probably developed a deep love affair with Greek yogurt.

Greek Flag

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yogurt

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jos smiles

So yes, I absolutely love Greek yogurt. Especially Oikos and Fage. But recently I saw a new type of yogurt called Siggi’s Icelandic Style Skyr Yogurt hanging out in my mom’s icebox.

Ok, Icelandic. Things I know about Iceland:

1. Bjork

2. Lesbian Prime Minister

As far as I’m concerned, these two facts alone have given Iceland a fairly high placement on my ‘must visit list’.

But, um, skyr? Can I get some culinary subtitles here? Does that mean the yogurt is especially thin? Is this some sort of Northern European Greek yogurt? WHAT’S THE DEAL?

Skyr, for those of you who don’t know about wikipedia, is apparently a cheese and very popular in Iceland (Captain Obvious). Implication? This must be a thick yogurt in the style of Greek yogurt. Therefore, when Jessamyn sees that Siggi’s yogurt is on sale at Whole Foods Market, she decides that it’s time to try out this new treat.

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First of all, I need to address the issue of money and price. As I’ve discussed before, I am a textbook cheapskate. I hate spending more money than is absolutely necessary- most of the time, I honestly can’t afford to spend more money than is absolutely necessary. However, I’ve recently come to a crossroad about buying inexpensive foods-

Is it worth it to buy a lot of cheap food that you don’t love to eat, or is it better to buy a smaller amount of high quality food you love to eat?

(Yeah, that’s right- I’m expressing personal relationships with food. Learn to love it, because you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.)

I used to be in the first camp- but I think that if you can afford (financially) to change to the second camp, do so immediately. I have purchased giant 32oz containers of store brand yogurt which get moldy in my fridge because the texture makes me want to vomit- thereby making the ‘money savings’ a waste. I should have just bought the brand I liked and would have consumed. Buy for quality- this is Jessamyn’s official opinion, as of January 23, 2011.

ANYWAY, back to the yogurt at hand. The first thing I noticed about Siggi’s? THIS IS THE THICKEST YOGURT IN HISTORY. In my mind, that makes Siggi’s yogurt a revelation in the world of dairy, and I’m officially saving money for an Icelandic vision quest. Seriously, the yogurt is so creamy and thick that I had difficulty mixing it up with my spoon.

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Check out that (lack of) white balance. Also, welcome to my ridiculously messy bedroom.

The texture is smooth as a baby’s bottom- seriously, I can’t use enough positive  adjectives in regard to the consistency. However, even though the texture is out of this world thick and creamy, the yogurt doesn’t weigh you down. I went to the gym shortly after eating the 6oz container and felt fine.

My only problem with this particular type was the flavor- maybe it’s the kool-aid drinking American in me, but I found the flavor of the vanilla Siggi’s yogurt to be a bit too subtle. It was still delicious, but it was a little too vague for my personal standards. However, because I’m a resourceful Southern girl, I hit it with 1/2 tablespoon of honey- flavor problem solved.

I’m actually kind of upset because my local Whole Foods Market only carries the vanilla Siggi’s- they have several other flavors (GRAPEFRUIT? POMEGRANATE?!) that I’m absolutely dying to try, and I can’t! My feelings are hurt, Siggi– hook a sister up.

Anyway, get thee to your local Whole Foods Market (or Fresh Market. or EarthFare.) and try out Siggi’s Icelandic Skyr. And don’t let the price deter you- the splurge is totally worth it.

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Say it Ain’t SNOW: A Recap of New Purchases, and Why Corporate Farming is Destroying My Judgement

Today I was reminded of one of the side effects of living in a world dominated by corporate food manufacturing: it’s very easy to forget that weather directly affects farming opportunities. I mean, when you can buy peaches and strawberries in the middle of December, why the hell would anyone be thinking about the fact that those items are out of season and didn’t come from a farm nearby?

(It’s probably because we live in the Matrix. Or America. You know, semantics.)

Therefore, if there’s been an unusual amount of snow and ice in your area, there will be a very meager selection of produce at your local farmer’s market.

Let me make this a little more simple:

This:

(Source)

+This:

(Source)

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Whatever, I’ll hit up the market later in the week. Anyway, while I was at home with my parentals and little bro, my mom and I went on a mother/daughter grocery shopping expedition and I found steel cut oats at ALDI:

Um, what? I had difficulty finding a selection of steel cut oats at Harris-Teeter, and there’s a giant display at ALDI for half the typical price? I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but that strikes me as slightly amusing. Now, these oats are quick cooking, so I don’t know how they will compare to these oats:

I’ll be sure to let you guys know how the taste testing goes down with these two items. Whole Foods versus Aldi– this ought to be very interesting.

Also, my mom hooked me up with a new kind of tahini:

I’m pretty excited to try it- Mama Bear got it for a great price using amazon.com, but some of the reviews say it’s kind of bitter. Do you eat tahini? Do you have a favorite way of preparing it? I, for one, am about to embark on a series of hummus experimental adventures.

Also, when I arrived home in Cancer City, guess what was waiting for me?

And Yes, I did pose these photos on top of my record player.

🙂 🙂 🙂 I love new purchases, especially when they come in the form of an Eat Smart Precision Pro Kitchen Scale and an Omron GoSmart Pocket Pedometer.

Because I’m Jessamyn and I have the patience of a two year-old, OF COURSE I had to immediately start weighing everything in my kitchen using my lovely new scale. I won’t bore you with all my testing, but I was very impressed with the scale’s accuracy and ESPECIALLY the great convenience of the tare function. By using the tare button, I can easily place a plate/bowl on the scale and zero out its weight before measuring my actual food. There’s no silly math involved at ALL. It’s a REVELATION, y’all.

Plus, doesn’t it look so pretty next to my coffeemaker? Now my kitchen is semi-color coordinated.

(Ok, I’m making an ass of myself.)

I’d have taken more photographs of my pedometer, but I immediately adjusted all the settings, clipped it to my shirt, and walked around my kitchen like an idiot for ten minutes. Things I’ve learned so far? Apparently I have a very short stride, and walk too slowly. I’m sure more lessons will be learned as soon as I start walking and acting like a normal person again. Ok, that’s probably asking a bit too much- everyone knows I’m nowhere near normal.

How was your Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? Did you act more or less silly than I did?

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FINALLY: The Wait Is OVER!

It’s been a pretty busy weekend here at Jessamyn’s house. For starters, I FINALLY received my loan refund check. Do you know what that means?

 

Yeah, that’s right: A FRIDGE (and pantry) FULL OF FOOD! The days of Jessamyn subsisting on pantry scraps are over (until I am desperately awaiting my refund check in the spring- the life of a full-time graduate student is ROUGH, y’all).

Also, I bought Udi’s Gluten Free Bread for the first time, and I’m unnaturally excited to try it.

Other big developments?

Yeah, That's Right: I photographed my sneaks on my kitchen counter. Haters Gonna Hate.

Thanks to Mama and Papa Stanley, I finally have new running sneakers! Honestly, I think part of why my mom was so quick to contribute to the sneaker cause is because she’s been tired of seeing me loaf about in the same pair of kangaroo jogging shoes for the last five (seriously, Jessamyn, five?) years. Somehow, though I never buy shoes for exercising, my regular shoe collection grows steadily every month and my old pair of sneaks grow dingier with every cycle. This is a trend I am determined to end (well, not the purchasing of new pumps, boots, and flats. I might have a new health resolve, but I’m still a Fatshionista).

It’s a happy day in Jessamyn’s house. 🙂

Tonight I’m heading to the afore mentioned parental units house so we can break bread together while I mooch off their washing machine. Also, in case you’ve been living under a rock, the Golden Globe Awards are tonight (8pm EST, NBC) and since my mom and I are amateur movie buffs, this is basically a holiday for us. Plus, I don’t own a television set so even if I wanted to sit at home and cheer for my favorite shows and films alone, I couldn’t. I could go into my anti-television ownership philosophy (which has very little do with televisions and more to do with furniture feng shui), but I’ll spare you for the time being.

I’ll also get to spend some quality time with my little brother- have I mentioned he’s starting Weight Watchers with me? I’m so excited to start this journey with him, and I’ll give more information about our effort later.

AND tomorrow, I’m planning to visit the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market on my way home from J-Town- I can barely contain my excitement. Fruits, vegetables, pumpkin butter? IAMSOEXCITED!

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Filed under exercise, food, grocery shopping, grocery stores, meal planning, money honey, shopping, Weight Watchers

A Textbook Cheapskate: The Benefits of Buying in Bulk

For those of you who don’t know, I am a textbook Cheapskate. Here’s my somewhat crude, yet probably accurate, definition of this term:

Cheapskate (CHEEP- skEIGHt)- One who can always rationalize spending less on necessities, or simply going without items they need, because they are in a constant state of financial panic.

I mean, in my opinion, being a cheap skate is totally forgivable because it usually stems from actual financial trouble. However, it can occasionally stem from stinginess and being a Scrooge. But look at it this way- If I KNOW I can buy headphones on ebay for less than a dollar (PLUS shipping- AYO!), why would I give Target ten dollars for the same product? Even if it does take the ebay headphones three weeks to arrive. From Hong Kong. Through USPS.

Since we’re on the subject, my ebay headphones arrived yesterday.

(Please Excuse The Poor Photo Quality- We here at Jessamyn Industries are Struggling with Rudimentary Point and Shoot Skills.)

I am abnormally rough on my headphones, and I typically have to buy a new pair every 4-6 months. As mentioned, these were found on ebay for a delightful $0.65. With free shipping! Yes, they may have been shipped from Hong Kong, and it might have taken three weeks for the magical package to arrive. And maybe (just maybe) the sound quality makes Lady Gaga sound like she’s singing “Monster” from the interior of a cyclone. But DAMNIT, I found $0.65 headphones. Be Jealous of Me!

(Whatever, I’ll probably have to buy the Target headphones anyway. RAWRGRRR.)

Anyway, being a cheapskate can result in a tendency to purchase products that are not only bad for you but bad for the environment. This is especially notable in the food industry (Is there any other reason why McDonalds owns almost the entire world?). However, my affinity for being a cheapskate has helped me develop at least one good food purchasing habit: Buying In Bulk.

And I’m not talking about buying 12-dozen gallon pallets of almond milk from Costco or Sam’s Club (although if you have an army of children, this is a perfectly acceptable life choice).

I’m talking about the bins of dry goods in your local health food store- buying in bulk is basically like playing the game Oregon Trail in real life. Am I right that scooping grain totally feels like being in a frontier general store?

Anyway, here are three of my favorite bulk items.

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1) Lentils

Lentils are probably my favorite bean. They are so versatile, and are an excellent staple to have on hand when you’re running low on food.

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2) Whole-Wheat couscous

I can’t say enough good things about couscous. It’s filling, and a small portion of dry grain results in a heaping serving of couscous. One time, I was SO EXCITED about my new bag of couscous that I spilled the entirety of the bag on the floor of my car. Trust me, that experience was WAY less funny than the anecdote has turned out to be.

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3) Brown Rice

Next to macaroni and cheese (my food savior), rice is my favorite food. It probably has something to do with my heritage (eastern North Carolinians are renowned for impressive rice appetites.) However, in case you didn’t know, white rice? Not very good for you. Most people who don’t like brown rice have been forced to eat it when it wasn’t properly cooked (which, in defense of the offending chefs, is not an uncommon circumstance). I’ve found that brown rice (especially rough, organic grain) cooks better after it has been rinsed a couple of times and soaked for a few minutes prior to cooking.

In general, buying in bulk is significantly cheaper than buying pre-packaged items. It also uses significantly less packaging, creating less waste.

The list of items I prefer to buy in bulk extends way past these three items (quinoa, black-eyed peas, whole-wheat flour, etc), but these are just a couple of ‘can’t-live-without’s. What Are Your Favorite Items To Buy In Bulk?

By The Way, What Kind of Earbuds Are You Using? Maybe I should take advice from others instead of using ebay as my guidebook :).

Also, though I usually buy most of my bulk items from the Whole Foods Market in Winston-Salem, if you are in or near Greensboro, NC, run (or walk or bike) to Deep Roots Co-Op Market for all of your bulk food needs. Deep Roots is a co-op which truly exists as a product of the GREENsboro community, and they always have really fresh bulk items.

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Filed under food, grocery shopping, grocery stores, meal planning, shopping