Tag Archives: local

Review: Bilinski Gluten Free Sausage

23 Sep

Hellllooooooo. I figure I might as well do this post before I get really busy with moving and such. We are still working on closing on our house…to say the least it’s been stressful but hopefully there’s an end in sight.

A while back I received an amazing package of sausage (hah) from the folks at Bilinski. They specialize in gluten free and natural/organic casing-free chicken sausage. Friends looked at me weird when I explained how I had to run home because I had a shipment of sausage on my front stoop. I was way more excited than one should be about a package of sausage- but hey! It’s food! Everything that I get excited about pretty much revolves around food.

When I busted open the package I was pleasantly surprised at the variety I received:

IMG_3095

They sent me a nice selection of the ‘skinny’, organic and the natural lines.  All of their sausages are gluten free, have no artificial preservatives and are from chickens free of antibiotics. This is from the company website:

“Nearly everything we make is natural or certified organic. We purchase local ingredients and buy from businesses close to home whenever possible. We carefully examine every ingredient and practice to make sure it promotes what we believe in. Our products are nitrite- and preservative-free, and are made from meats that are raised in clean, comfortable conditions with integrity – with no antibiotics, no animal by-products in their feed, and no hormones.”

Sounds like a great company to me!

IMG_3096

IMG_3097

The first night I got them I fired up the grill to eat the “skinny” line’s hot Italian sausage.

IMG_3099

IMG_3100

Gross looking, but stellar meal of braised cabbage, roasted peppers and sausage.

The skinny line was alright but the regular line I enjoyed better. There really is only ten more calories in the regular ones so what’s the point if the taste is way better?

Although I really enjoyed the ‘skinny’ apples and cinnamon breakfast sausage alongside one of my Saturday morning breakfasts.

 IMG_3108

Paleo Pancakes with apples and sausage…..fall is here!

I ate the Cajun/Andouille version with this amazing meal:

IMG_3133

Heirloom tomato salad, grilled sweet potatoes and yellow beans. Tonight we ate the mild Italian sausage with some braised red cabbage and beans. I think this flavor has been my favorite so far. I still have one more in the freezer but I wanted to get this review up in case I got too busy once we move.

IMG_3180[1]

Obviously I rarely eat any kind of sausage because the quality is so sketchy. It’s great to find a brand that tastes great and you know you can trust. I hate sausages that are really greasy and clearly loaded with unknown ingredients .There really aren’t too many other brands that I would buy similar sausages from. Most of them have lots of added sugar, gluten and nitrites/nitrates. So thumbs up to this brand! I enjoyed all of them and would definitely recommend them. I actually saw them in the store the SAME day I received an email from the company saying they would send me some, so it was ironic. I will definitely be picking some up in the future.

**Just a reminder that I did receive the sausages complimentary but was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.**

What’s your favorite way to eat sausage?

Have you bought a house? How long and drawn out was the closing date?

Advertisements

Roasted Chicken and Avocados

12 Jul

That’s not the name of a recipe or anything….rather a topic of this blog post. Tonight I roasted a pastured chicken for dinner and it.was.amazing. I literally did nothing to it. I put melted about two tablespoons of butter and poured it over the bird in the roasting pan, then added spices (onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, sage).

I cooked it in the oven at 385 for an hour and a half. The skin was so crispy and delicious.

IMG_2650[1]

Just make sure you measure the temperature of several spots and it has reached 165 and you’re good to go! Don’t be scared of roasting chicken. The leftovers will last us 2 more nights for dinner! The bird was one of the pastured chickens I got from the farm down the road. Just knowing that a month ago, these chickens were grazing (right word??) in a field less than 5 miles away makes it taste even more delicious.

IMG_2732[1]

Chicken leg/thigh, kale and carrot fries.

The texture of pastured chicken is also quite different. It’s velvety, rich, and melts in your mouth. Yes it’s a little more pricey, but worth it. It kind of hurt forking over $4/lb for these birds that I got…but putting it into perspective- one bird will feed us for three dinners. So if one bird costs $15, that means $5 of chicken a night for two people. I’m perfectly fine with spending $5 a night on chicken for two of us. I mean really. A dinner at KFC for one is more expensive.

Need blogger help! This week avocados were on sale….and I had two in the bag until I saw these Florida avocados.

 

IMG_2734[1]

IMG_2735[1]

excuse my gross nails

I only went with it because they were bigger and the same price. Here are some facts about the difference from the Hass avocado:

– Larger

– Smooth, light green skin

– 50 less calories per ounce

-less creamy taste

-less fat

Sounds good on paper, but I prefer the regular ones so much more! The Florida variety is kind of bland tasting……not sure how to describe it. Just doesn’t have the creamy, buttery goodness you expect from an avocado. I have two large ones…but needless to say I won’t be buying them again. I will have to make something with them instead of eating them plain. Suggestions?

What type of avocados do you prefer? Have you tried the Florida ones?

What spices do you use to roast a chicken?

Grocery Series Part III: How to save money

1 Jul

In the past year my shopping habits have changed drastically. I used to shop in order to save money. I was still eating “healthy” but I mainly focused on couponing and getting the most food for my  money. Now I’ve changed priorities and realized that if I am going to look for ways to save money, compromising on what I put in my body is probably not the best way to start. According to Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food), Americans spend the LEAST percentage amount of their income on food compared to other nations. Coincidentally we are the most unhealthy…..

I’ve already talked about ways to prioritize what to buy organic and how to eat local, but I will admit these foods are still more expensive than conventional and industrial raised products. But are you willing to sacrifice quality over quantity? Here are some things I’ve cut out to save money to put into ethically raised animals and local produce:

1) Dairy

IMG_2683[1]

{Moo Cows better to look at then to drink from}

I know, I know…dairy is supposed to be good for you (calcium and stuff). If you eat Paleo dairy is out- but that’s not the main reason I nixed it. Industrial dairy has been processed to the point where it’s doing more harm than good in my opinion. And organic dairy is expensive. I buy Austin organic milk and that’s it. I’ve given up cheese, yogurt and milk myself.  I know we all love our Chobani, but that $4-5 a week adds up! And don’t even ask me where I’m getting calcium. There are plenty of other sources! Google it.

2) Cereals and processed snack products

Cereal

(source)

I read in Omnivore’s Dilemma that a $4 box of cereal takes 4 cents of commodity corn to make. Cereal is ROBBERY IN A BOX. And can we just take a minute to think about what nutritionally cereal does for you? Oh that’s right, nothing. When health claims start appearing on boxes of Lucky Charms, we’ve really gone off the deep end as a society.

I know it is delicious (and you can get it cheaper using coupons). For me, it’s a food with no brakes, so I simply can’t afford to have it around at all.

Same goes with all those snack bars, protein bars, granola bars infused with fiber. I know! I used to buy them! But it makes more sense to use that money for more nutritionally sound and un-processed food.

3) Frozen Meals/Canned Soup

I used to buy lean cuisines or smart ones, or canned soup for lunch all the time. They are pricey as well. Now I make enough dinner every night to bring leftovers the next day.  Now that I really think about it…….

4) Anything processed or packaged at all.

If you’re buying processed food, don’t tell me you can’t afford organic. Don’t even get me started on soda.

 

Other ways you could assess if changing the way you eat and shop for food would work….can you cancel cable? Why is watching your favorite sitcoms more important than what you put in your body? (*To be fair, I’ve suggested this multiple times to my fiancé, but still get a resounding NO. He’s not on board. If it was just me there’s now way I would have TV).

What about spending habits elsewhere? It’s important to look at your budget and where your money goes before deciding it’s “not worth it” to care about what goes into your body. I know for me, I really need to stop getting sucked into “blog food fads”. LOL Almond flour, Larabars and fancy nut butters also are a money suck. But there sooooo gooooooood :(  If I can cut back on some of this I would have more money to buy local organic produce (I still buy a lot from the grocery store- hey at least it’s not soda).

IMG_2487[1]

{yummy but big money suck}

How do you feel about prioritizing what you put in your body over other life expenses?

Is eating organic realistic? Why or why not?

Grocery series part II: What to buy organic

20 Jun

In part I of my grocery series I talked about some of the groceries I regularly buy. I’m very conscious if what I put in my body, but I don’t buy everything organic, we’re on a budget! And organic doesn’t necessarily always mean better.

I prioritize when deciding what to buy organic. First are my non-negotiables:

alwaysbuyorganic

Ever since informing myself about industrial farming, I choose not to support the practice and buy meat from the grocery store. As said before, we buy grass fed meat and chicken from a farm whenever we can. Sometimes I buy the whole circle chicken from Tops when it’s on sale.

photo

We picked up this chicken today..it was KILLED TODAY! How’s that for fresh? Yes, we paid for the freshness too. But I just think about what I’m supporting and it’s alright. I don’t buy it that often. Like I said I settle for the natural raised at Tops a lot.

Organic or grass fed meat is pricey but in my eyes worth it. I’m not going to get into the disgustingness of industrial farming. If you’re interested the book Omnivore’s Dilemma is a good place to start. Besides, I save money other ways (more on that next in the series).

I also don’t really buy dairy for myself. I buy organic whole milk when it’s on sale or I have a coupon for Austin. I rarely get yogurt anymore since I follow a mostly Paleo diet. Everyone loves their Chobes…..but it can add up! Eggs are a must. I know $3.50 seems like a lot but I think about it like this: where else can you get four servings of protein for 3.50?

Next for the always organic is lettuce and greens like kale. They are easily contaminated.

Tier two includes fruits and veggies I may not regularly buy but try to get organic when I can

buy organic most of the time

If I feel like it’s too much and/or they don’t have it available organic,I’ll make a decision. Either get the regular or just find a different recipe.

And that’s pretty much it. Anything else,including anything on the ‘clean 15’ list I get conventional. Unless it’s cheaper/the same amount. Whole 9 has a nice little list I like to follow.

As you can see I don’t buy a whole lot organic. There have been a number of conflicting studies regarding organic and whether or not it’s even better for you, so I don’t sweat it. And no I don’t need to spend 7.00 on organic toilet paper to wipe my behind with or organic shampoo or any of that mess. Priorities!! I know for a FACT though the practices that go on in order to produce industrial meat so I’m willing to prioritize the money. Next post I will talk about saving money on organic/local food.

WIAW: First CSA Share

19 Jun

WIAW was so fun last week I decided to participate again! I am one excited foodie today. Yesterday started my local farm’s CSA share and I went to pick up the goodies right after school.

IMG_2615[1]

IMG_2616[1]

IMG_2617[1]

In the mix:

Swiss chard (which I’ve had before and was NASTY…but I’m googling other ways to use it), lettuce and garlic scapes (not sure what these are…I’m assuming the tops of garlic.

IMG_2620[1]

I also came home to an exciting package from my friend who works at a specialty olive oil store:

IMG_2618[1]

Naturally I got right to work to incorporate the CSA share veggies and the olive oil into my dinner!

IMG_2621[1]

Swiss Chard- like I said I’ve had it before when I just sautéed it with garlic and olive oil. It tasted like bitter dirt….ugh. For the salad I made last night I only wanted to use the stalks. So I cut them off and chopped them like celery.

IMG_2622[1]

I’ll save the leaves for later in the week and hopefully they will be edible. Any suggestions?

The salad I made last night was scrumptious:

Baked mustard glazed chicken thighs over lettuce from the share, caramelized onions, the chard stalks, roasted sweet potatoes and avocado. I used the Chipotle olive oil for the sweet potatoes which gave it a nice kick!

IMG_2623[1]

Other notable meals and obsessions this week:

IMG_2602[1]

Ummmm don’t buy this if you don’t have the money to support the addiction. Many scoops with a spoon are regularly taken out throughout the day. OMGGG sooo good.

IMG_2607[1]

Taco Lettuce Cups using butter lettuce

IMG_2605[1]

It’s grillin’ season! Zucchinis! Yum

IMG_2600[1]

Practical Paleo Salmon Cakes- they got the picky fiancé approval too! You should make them.

That’s all for this week!

What are your current food obsessions? Ever had coconut butter?

What was the best thing you ate/made this week?

Suggestions for the swiss chard leaves?

Omnivore’s Dilemma: Food education

30 May

Once again I am merging the two concepts upon which this blog was designed- my love of food and my teaching career. I already posted awhile back about incorporating my love of food into my classroom. To end the year, my students are completing a research project centered around an amazing book I just finished, which was life changing to say the least.

IMG_2519[1]

In his book, Pollan strives to uncover secrets of industrial, processed, industrial organic, and sustainable meals. It really goes to the heart of how what you eat affects not only you, but the environment, the economy, the government, and society as a whole. As bloggers, we may put a lot of thought into what we eat. But have you REALLY thought of the political, social, environmental and economical implications of eating your morning cereal? Who grew, processed, packaged and shipped that product? Did it take more energy to make it than you can actually get from it? The answers will surprise you, and most likely make you NOT want to eat a lot of the things you currently eat. I know I’ve changed my eating habits immensely since reading this book.

So I was reading this book and come to find out…..it’s on the common core for 8th grade! Who would have thought?!?! My initial reaction was excitement. Then it turned immediately to panic. They want 8th graders to read this?!?!? One of the chapters was labeled “corn sex” !!! There were words I couldn’t pronounce. I was freaking out. Then I discovered this:

source

The young adult version! Essentially the same book only at a lower, much easier to understand reading level (I was struggling to follow the adult version myself!). And no sex, even of the corn nature.

I picked out about 5 chapters for students to read to get an overall picture in order to answer this question:

essential question

Students did various activities examining food labels, watching videos provided by Nourish, and studied industrial faming VS local farming.

IMG_0511[1]

It just really surprised me how little my students knew about the secrets behind the food they eat. That soda is mostly 100% HFCS. That they put ammonia in meat to kill bacteria. The environmental implications of drinking hot chocolate that was shipped from Switzerland.

There’s so much to talk about when it comes to this topic (I already covered eating local). At some times I was feeling weird about teaching students this, thinking they were going to go home and rant to their parents about how they need to start eating grass-fed beef. But if you really think about it, if we don’t teach our kids about this damaging, corrupt, and disgusting thing that is the food industry, when will the ignorance end?

SO when we were done studying the topic, students picked their own individual topics to research further. Choices included:

*Organic vs conventional food

*Food poisoning

*grass fed vs industrial meat

*processed food

*fast food secrets (a popular one)

*hunting for food

*Hidden ingredients

Students will do research (we’re wrapping up day 3 of research) and then complete a presentation (no paper- aren’t I nice?) using the Ipad app Haiku Deck. This presentation software is really easy to use, student friendly, and eye catching! It’s similar to power point but much more simple. Perfect for our shortened time frame.

source

Can’t wait to post some examples!

You should really get your hands on the adult (or young adult!) version of the book. It changed the way I look at food forever. I obviously ate pretty healthy before this book, but some of the things you think to believe are “healthy” have some compromising implications you’d be surprised about. Check it out!!!

Have you read the book? Do you think we should teach our kids to care about where our food comes from?

How to eat local

2 May

I’ve really been lacking on the blog front these days…..every time I tell myself I will do a post tonight I find some excuse not to….

I wanted to write about something I’ve been trying to make an effort to do lately- buy and eat local food. I’ve been reading this book by Michael Pollan called Omnivore’s Dilemma and it’s basically changed my life. I will do a more in depth book review when I’m finished, but the book is already changing to way I eat and look at food and I haven’t even completed it.

“Don’t you find it odd that people will put more work into choosing their mechanic or house contractor than they will into choosing the person who grows their food?”

Do you think organic is best? Do you think about the impact of the environment on the boxed lettuce from California that “contains 80 calories…[but takes] more than 4,600 calories of fossil fuel energy to make” and ship all over the country. I’m telling you, this book will make you never look at food the same again!

The biggest thing it delves into is the disgusting way that industrial meat is produced. I won’t go into detail here but I’ve read Paleo books and blogs before that harp on the requirement of ‘grass fed beef’ and ‘organic chicken’  however I would always say that was stupid and I could never afford it. Now I know the importance of KNOWING where my food comes from. Buying local is a way to do that. I know exactly what the animals are getting fed (and if antibiotics are used), how they are raised, and where my money goes. But how do you eat straight from the source, especially if you live in a big city?  Here are some ideas I’ve already put into action.

1. Join a CSA

source

CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Basically you own a ‘share’ of a farm and they give you some of their crop weekly. I signed up for what is called an ‘individual share’. I paid $180 dollars and I get to go pick up my veggies every Tuesday. I’m supporting my community and I know exactly how my food is grown and where it comes from. And just because a farm isn’t USDA Certified Organic doesn’t mean it’s not. A lot of farms don’t want to bother with the paperwork and regulations to get certified.

Here’s a website where you can find a CSA farm near you:

CSA 

2. Go to the farmer’s market

This one is easy in every city! I always try to buy produce during the summer from the farmer’s market, again supporting my community instead of workers in Mexico. I can’t wait for my town’s to start- should be coming soon!

3. Eat seasonal

If you are part of the CSA or shopping at the farmer’s market this one’s easy. Food has a bigger environmental impact when you have to ship it across the country. Try as much as you can to eat stuff in season- berries in the spring, zucchini in the summer, squash in the fall, etc. Obviously you can’t do it all the time, but try to do what you can. Here is a more comprehensive list:

http://whole9life.com/2012/01/seasonal/

4.  Find a farmer near you!

This one was easy for me since I live in the boonies and there are farms everywhere. There was actually one down the street from my house. The farmer was super nice and willing to explain everything to us about how the animals are raised. I contacted him through email and drove down the road to pick up some chickens and eggs. I also made an appointment to pick up more chicken on an upcoming slaughter date.

IMG_2339[1]

My eggs and chicken! Yum!

You can use this website to find a farmer near you:

http://www.eatwild.com/

This farm didn’t have beef so I had to search out another one. It was hard to get beef this time of year because slaughters are usually in the fall, but I finally found a farm that had some leftover from last year. The meat is the best quality  meat I have ever tasted and since it’s grass fed, it’s naturally lean.

IMG_2411[1]

And yes, this type of meat and shopping is more expensive. But really- do you spend more on your cable bill a month than you do on the food you put into your body to keep you alive? What are you priorities? I know this type of eating is expensive, but you really have to think about if it’s worth it. I think it is. It’s worth it on the money I may be spending on health care later on in my life. It’s worth it for the lesser impact to the environment, and it’s worth it to benefit my community instead of some huge factory that sends work out of the country.

What’s your take on this way of eating? Worth it or not? Do you buy locally raised meats and produce?

Pencils and Pancakes

learning about life one lesson at a time

The Domestic Man

Gluten-free & Paleo-friendly recipes, inspired by traditional & international cuisines. New recipes every Tuesday.

Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog is a digital youth culture magazine dedicated to your stories and ideas.

Otherwise Simple

Living, Laughing and Staying Healthy...simplified

Laur Runs

...to the finish line, the mall, and the table: Fitness, fashion, food, and fun!

Daily Cup of Kate

Enjoying Life One Sip at a Time

The Cave Woman Cafe

Going forwards by eating backwards

Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind

Culinary Adventures in Paleo Cooking

#PaleoThugLife

Recipes and rants in R-rated language

Strictly Paleo...ish!

It's just real food...

Reading Tea Leaves

Blogging about Tea, Teaching, and Rejuvination

The Cookie ChRUNicles

Running through life while balancing healthy eating and single motherhood

The PhD Experiment

Because at this point, my life is one big dissertation project

Brain, Body, Because

searching for balance.

Read, Run, Repeat

A tale of fitness, books, food, and life in between

The Balance Beam

Thoughts on a Myriad of Topics

Cooking for the Other Half

life, in and out of a new england kitchen