VegFest, Part Two

Find the first installment of VegFest reviews here

Still thinking about how fun VegFest was!  It was a great mix of people; from full Vegans, to Meatless Monday people like myself and everybody in between.  There were so many great vendors there, I don’t know that I can cover them all.  I do want to make sure I show off a few of my favorites.

First up is The Brinery.

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The Brinery is an Ann Arbor company that creates all sorts of raw fermented foods (pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi etc).  One of their company missions is to use locally sourced produce for all of their products, their tagline is “Our mission is to stimulate peoples inner economy, as well as Michigans economy.”

 I’m showcasing them even though I’m not usually a huge fan of fermented foods.  However, anybody I know that tries their products falls in love instantly.  I made Local Jacky sample one of everything for research!  I tried the carrots, and I liked them!  Their products are carried at local markets, and a few are even carried by Door to Door Organics.

Simply Suzanne

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I had actually tried Simply Suzanne granola previously, through Door to Door Organics.  Simply Suzanne is a granola and trail mix company based out of Detroit.  I really love a good granola to snack on.  I make my own most of the time, but it is good to have a good company out there when you want to buy some.  I really like all of the Simply Suzanne flavors, I’m especially partial to the two chocolate ones.  I have purchased the cherry for my mom as well.  Simply Suzanne products are carried by many grocery stores, I have even seen them at a local Kroger store.

The Spice & Tea Exchange of Birmingham

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I can not wait to go visit The Spice and Tea Exchange!  I seriously sniffed and tasted everything at their table.  For the longest time I have lamented not having a local spice shop.  I do buy bulk spices at Zerbo’s in Livonia, but I am beyond excited to find an entire shop devoted to spices and tea!  I’m really into canning and I’ve been learning more and more about spices to experiment with.  They had a carrot cupcake tea that I must have smelled 847 times.  I’m still kicking myself for not buying it.  (I’m really cheap, if you dear readers haven’t figured that out by now.)

Birmingham Chocolate

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I only have blurry pictures, probably because I was excited about chocolate!  I am definitely a chocolate girl.  Especially good dark chocolate.  Birmingham Chocolate was sampling a dark chocolate peanut cluster and it was really, really good.  The chocolate was dark and velvety.  I fully plan on visiting this shop soon.  I just saw on their website that they had frozen bananas, so I think I can browse around and keep local toddler entertained easily.

I’m going to make a special trip to Birmingham to visit Birmingham Chocolate and The Spice and Tea Exchange.  All in the name of research, dear readers!

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Homemade Convenience: Freezer Chicken Nuggets

Homemade Freezer Chicken Nuggets realfoodinarealworld.com

If you are anything like me, I always keep a stash of quick food in my freezer.  Things like chicken nuggets, I would buy a Costco size bag and always have a quick protein source ready.  While most of the “better” brands don’t have too many creepy additives, I like to know that I’m getting local happy chicken.  These things are awesome!  I make several pounds at a time, and then I always have a meal that takes 15 minutres.

These are relatively simple to prepare, but a little time consuming.  For the time reason, I do several pounds at a time.  Time well spent if I can make a ton of meals at once!

First things first, in order to make breaded items, you need to know about “Wet hand, dry hand.”  Breading with this method is exactly what it sounds like.  One hand will be in the dry ingredients, and one will be in the wet.  This prevents the dreaded “glove hand” of layers of breading and goo.  Here are the steps:

  1. With your left hand; select a piece of chicken, and coat with the flour mixture.  Leave chicken in flour.
  2. With right hand, pick up chicken from the flour and dunk into the egg mixture.  Still using right hand, remove chicken and place into the breadcrumb mix without touching crumbs with your hand.
  3. With left hand, liberally coat chicken with breadcrumb mixture

Ok, now that we know how to bread, on to the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I usually do 2-3lbs at a time)
  • 1 1/2 c Flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4c milk
  • 1c bread crumbs (I get some from a local bakery for super cheap!)
  • 1c Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • salt and pepper to taste

Set up your station:

Homemade Freezer Chicken Nuggets realfoodinarealworld.com

Not my usual chicken, but what I had on hand at the time

I have the best results with two bowls and a deep plate (similar to a pie plate)

Bowl #1: flour and salt & pepper

Bowl #2: eggs, beaten and milk

Dish #3: both types of bread crumbs and seasoned salt

Directions:

  1. Cut the chicken into desired size and shape.
  2. Follow “Wet hand, dry hand” breading instructions
  3. Place breaded chicken strips on a foil covered and greased baking sheet
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, turn halfway through baking
  5. Eat!

To make freezer nuggets:

  1. Follow all directions above and then let chicken cool completely after baking.
  2. Freeze and place strips into a zip top bag.
  3. To bake from frozen (don’t thaw) just place on greased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

Click here for a printable recipe

 

 

 

 

VegFest Part One

Yesterday I went to Michigan VegFest, a vegan tastefest and expo.  I had never been before but a girlfriend (hereafter referred to as “Local Jacky”) asked me if I wanted to join her.  I am so glad I said yes!  Neither of us are vegan, but we are both trying to increase the amount of plant-based meals we prepare.  I also have a dairy allergy, so vegan items are perfect for me!

Vegfest realfoodinarealworld.com

Must eat all the tasty treats!

Neither of us was sure what to expect, and we were so surprised at the amount of food to sample!  We ate our way through every table in the name of research!  It’s nearly impossible to pick any favorites of all the amazing things I tried today.  I will give you a few of the standouts, and I will be sure to cover more very soon!

Vegfest realfoodinarealworld.com

Gabby’s Garden Organic

I tried the kale tabouli with quinoa salad and the Moroccan lentil salad.  I really liked them both, but the Morrocan lentil salad was one of the best lentil dishes that I have ever tasted.  The mixture of spices was amazing!  Local Jacky sampled the pure protein salad and loved it as well.

Vegfest realfoodinarealworld.com

Met the lovely ladies of Sweet Magnolias Vegan Cupcakes!  They were on Food Network Cupcake Wars last night!  Their cupcakes are fantastic, one of those “I can’t believe this is vegan” moments.  I now need to try every flavor.  I had the double chocolate and it was as delish as it sounds.

Vegfest realfoodinarealworld.com

Krishna Catering & Restaurant was sampling their Aldo Channa and Biryani rice.  Amazing!!  The Aldo Channa is a potato and garbanzo bean dish mixed with a tomato sauce and spices.  Both dishes were delicious!  The super nice guys working the booth told me to come to the restaurant on Tuesdays for their lunch buffet special, only $5.50!  I’m not well versed in Indian Food, so I think a buffet will be a great intro.  Local toddler and I will go on a lunch date and bring back a full report!

I have so many more companies to talk about and recipes to share, I will be bringing you more in the upcoming weeks!

Food Haul 4.18.13

Food Haul 4.18.13 realfoodinarealworld.com

Confession: We went to the supermarket.  Kroger to be exact.

We wanted some junk food so we went and picked some up.  I forgot to take a picture, but we spent about $20.

Food Haul 4.18.13 realfoodinarealworld.com

I got a few bags of these for bribing local toddler.  I don’t know what or when I need to bribe him for, but I like to be prepared.  We also bought several bags of chips,(I’m looking at you cool ranch Doritos…) some hot dog buns, crackers and salami.  I feel ok about our “cheat.”  I think we have been doing awesome about eating healthy and local.  Sometimes you just need some junk food.  Keeping it real!

Now that I have confessed, on to the good stuff!  Door to Door Organics!

Food Haul 4.18.13 realfoodinarealworld.comFood Haul 4.18.13 realfoodinarealworld.com

A few freebies from Door to Door Organics.  Local toddler gets ridiculously excited when we go to the warehouse to pick up our order.  He yells “oranges” when he sees the door.  He manages to sweet talk himself into some freebies 😉  (Sort of, the major perk of the warehouse co-op is there is a basket of extras for everybody to pick from.)  That pineapple was a terrible passenger, rolling all over the place.  Problem solved!

Food Haul 4.18.13 realfoodinarealworld.com

Asparagus and strawberries!  I’m so ridiculously excited!

If the mushrooms don’t get eaten before Monday they will be Mushroom Stroganoff.  The peas will probably be in a stir fry, everything else is pretty usual.

Food Haul 4.18.13 realfoodinarealworld.com

Sorry for the blurry photo, did I mention my only camera is an iPhone?  Smoking Goose applewood bacon was on sale, yes please!  Calder dairy milk for local toddler (I just love the glass bottles, it feels awesome to not have any waste!  I wash and save the bottle caps for local toddler to play with.)  Some shredded mozzarella for the cheese eaters in my house for pizza night.  As Melissa said on my Facebook page, a cheese pizza is a great Meatless Monday!

Now for my exciting purchases!  A Chocolove Cherries and Almonds Dark Chocolate bar.  I snuck a piece, it is as amazing as it sounds.  I am super excited to try this Naturally Nutty chocolate cherry peanut butter.  It was a bit pricey($7.99), but I can’t wait to try it!  It’s a Made in Michigan product!

Door to Door Organics was just under $70 this week, and about $20 at Kroger, so food costs were about $90 this week.

Is there an interest in full blown product reviews?  You can count on my real opinion, I buy all this stuff myself with my own money, these companies have no idea who I am.

Recipe Roundup – Paleo Pancakes/Quick Pancakes

Hello there real foodies.  Today I’m bring you two similar recipes that are not mine.  There are many people practicing a Paleo or Primal eating plan, and many people who avoid gluten.  Then, there are some of us (me) that are just a little lazy and headlines like “two ingredient pancake” make us jump for joy.  Two lovely ladies; Jennifer from Wine to Weightlifting and Sarah from Less Sugar, More Spice, recently posted recipes for a simple pancake.

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chick photo for recipe!

Jennifer admits that in the strictest sense, these are not Paleo because pancakes are a “bad” food, but all the ingredients (all two of them) are indeed Paleo.  She also assures you these are easy because she is “lazy.”  Because those crazy Crossfit people are definitely “lazy” in my book 😉

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Click photo for recipe!

Sarah describes her pancakes as kitchen magic.  She adds a third ingredient for some extra protein and makes healthy pancakes.  Now, I think pancakes deserve their own food group, so add healthy to the label and I’m sold.  I will be over for breakfast tomorrow Sarah!

These also make excellent toddler chow.  Ever met a kid that didn’t like pancakes?  I made a batch with a spoonful of peanut butter (he’s 2 and ok with peanut butter, follow your discretion about young children and nut products) and local toddler ate all three pancakes.

Substitutions:  I know I have some readers that don’t do bananas.  In my head, this recipe will work perfectly with a sweet potato instead of the banana.  I didn’t have any sweet potatoes around (gasp!) to try it out.  I tried it many, many ways with canned pumpkin and it didn’t work.  At all…  My dog, however, got her fill of pumpkin blobs.  For the vegans, I’m not well versed enough on egg substitution to try this one.  If you do, please let me know in the comments!

Why Meatless Monday?

Meatless Monday realfoodinarealworld.com

The history of Meatless Monday actually goes back a lot further than the 2003 rebranding that most of us have heard of.  Meatless Mondays began during World War One as a way to support the war efforts.  Families were asked to decrease the amounts of wheat and meat that they consumed.  The rationing was to help conserve resources for the soldiers and for the people affected by lack of supply.  If you follow this link, you can see a poster from the United States Food Administration that was given to families to post in their homes. The first “meat substitute” I found was cottage cheese.

Meatless Monday realfoodinarealworld.com

During WWII, stricter rations were put in place on families, with the ration books being given out.  The ration books covered a multitude of items, both foodstuffs and things like gasoline.  Families had to learn how to make do with what they had.

Meatless Monday realfoodinarealworld.com

Nowadays, we call this “frugal” but during the World Wars, this was daily survival.

Meatless Monday realfoodinarealworld.com

The World Wars encouraged many families to grow a victory garden, and to preserve produce for the winter.  *Fun fact; the city I live in was originally designated for this purpose.  The original city model had one acre of land for each home so families could have a small farm to provide for themselves.

Meatless Monday realfoodinarealworld.com

American Altruism at it’s finest.

Meatless Monday realfoodinarealworld.com

Meatless Monday as we know it today exists for a multitude of reasons.  Those reasons may vary for each family.  For my family, Meatless Monday is a way to set ourselves up for a healthy week.  We save some money (Your meat should be expensive.  If it isn’t, take a look at why it is cheap).  We get more fruits and vegetables in our systems.  We also expand our palates.  The Standard American Diet (SAD, what a coincidence) is very high in meat and starch.  Now, I love me some meat and starch; but I find that as we eat more meatless meals, I start to appreciate the flavors of all the other good things we eat.  Things taste brighter and sweeter when they aren’t swimming in meat.

Need some meatless inspiration?

Vegan Eggplant Burgers (so much more delicious than they sound)

Mushroom Stroganoff

Lentil Soup

Easy Cheesy Crackers (Cheez It imposters)

Easy Cheesy Crackers (Cheez It Imposters) realfoodinarealworld.com

Sounds a little “out there”, right?  Making your own crackers?  It’s actually not difficult!  If you have a food processor it will take you no time at all.  I don’t have a food processor, and I still make these quite often.

Now for the “why?”  Why should you make your own?  My boys think they are delicious, and let’s take a peek at the ingredient label for Cheez Its

ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), VEGETABLE OIL (SOYBEAN AND PALM OIL WITH TBHQ FOR FRESHNESS), CHEESE MADE WITH SKIM MILK (SKIM MILK, WHEY PROTEIN, CHEESE CULTURES, SALT, ENZYMES, ANNATTO EXTRACT FOR COLOR), CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF SALT, PAPRIKA, YEAST, PAPRIKA OLEORESIN FOR COLOR, SOY LECITHIN.

Now, of all the processed food in the world, this isn’t that bad.  There are only a few questionable ingredients (like some tasty TBHQ).  In our quest to stay away from the supermarket, I decided to try out making our own crackers (especially for local toddler, who was really into goldfish crackers).  I adapted this recipe from Tasty Kitchen.  If you want to learn how to make them adorable and fish shaped, check out that link.  If you want to see the quick and easy way, I will show you how they get made in the Real Food kitchen.

Let’s get cooking!

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Shredded Cheese
  • 4 Tbsp Butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup Flour
  • Salt for sprinkling
  • 2-3 Tbsp Cold water

First, shred the cheese.  I usually buy blocks of cheese, but if you have shredded you get to skip this step.

Easy Cheesy Crackers (Cheez It Imposters) realfoodinarealworld.com

This is cheddar, just not dyed orange like most cheddar.

If you have a food processor, you will pulse together the cheese, butter and flour together until the mixture looks like coarse sand.  If you don’t have a food processor (like me), get out your handy pastry blender and get to work.

Easy Cheesy Crackers (Cheez It Imposters) realfoodinarealworld.com

Add in water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Remove dough from the food processor, wrap in plastic, and chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes.  (For you bakers out there, you are basically making a pie crust recipe.)

Easy Cheesy Crackers (Cheez It Imposters) realfoodinarealworld.com

Roll out the dough and cut into desired shapes.

Easy Cheesy Crackers (Cheez It Imposters) realfoodinarealworld.com

Local toddler gets really excited when there is dough on the counter, he grabs the rolling pin and gets to work

Easy Cheesy Crackers (Cheez It Imposters) realfoodinarealworld.com

Keeping it real, I usually just quickly cut them into squares with a plastic knife

Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Easy Cheesy Crackers (Cheez It Imposters) realfoodinarealworld.com

Try to make them a little more uniform and they will cook evenly: AKA, do as I say not as I do

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until crispy.

Easy Cheesy Crackers (Cheez It Imposters) realfoodinarealworld.com

Tips:

  • Roll the dough as thin as possible for a crispy cracker (more like a Cheez It or goldfish cracker).
  • Slightly thicker dough will produce a more chewy cracker (my boys like them puffy and chewy).
  • If you are making these for someone else because you can’t eat them because of a dairy allergy, do so on a full stomach because the temptation to grab a handful will be almost too much.  Not that I know this personally…

Click Here for a printable copy of this recipe

Food Haul 4.11.13

Food Haul 4.11.13 realfoodinarealworld.com

Finally a “cheap” week!  My fridge and pantry are stuffed and we are eating all kinds of tasty things.  The only food we bought this week was from Door to Door Organics, and even that was a smaller order than usual for us.  Total food costs this week was $62.

Food Haul 4.11.13 realfoodinarealworld.com

There are two of the biggest bunches of kale I have ever seen stuffed in that picture.  My goal is to finally perfect making kale chips.  I keep under or over cooking them!  I can’t believe I keep buying kale on purpose.  Anybody else think it tastes like grass?  I’m working on a bunch of non-grassy recipes, share your favorite!

I also had to replenish my oats supply because I used them all up trying to make a nut free version of my granola bars.  If my next experiment goes well, those will be up on the blog next week!  I have been toiling away at that recipe forever.  I’m trying a chocolate bar called Chocolove.  It is dark chocolate, almond and sea salt.  Not too much else new and interesting there, the usual Calder milk for local toddler (and his grape tomatoes! addict…)  Also some potatoes because this cool spring weather has me craving some potatoes.  Oh white potatoes, why can’t you be as nutritious as sweet potatoes?

What did you buy this week?

Want to learn more about Door to Door Organics?

Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken

Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken realfoodinarealworld.com

One of my Costco weaknesses is always the rotisserie chickens.  It’s $5 and makes at least two meals in our house.  I have no idea where the chickens they use come from, or if they are local.  I also can’t run to Costco every time I want to make a quick chicken dinner.  So, lets learn how to make a rotisserie style chicken in the slow cooker.

I get whole chickens from Pure Pastures and cook them in my big crock pot.  You can just lay a whole washed bird in the slow cooker with no liquid, set it for 8 hours on low and it will make falling-off-the-bone chicken.  But if you want something closer to a rotisserie style, I will let you in on the secret.

Foil balls.

That is the only difference!

Let’s get cooking!

  1. Wash and pat dry your chicken
  2. Coat your birdie with some olive oil, and then with a rub of your choice.  (I just use some Montreal Steak seasoning and some paprika.)
  3. Make some foil balls and lay them on the bottom of your slow cooker (for my big oval pot, I use about ten balls with a one inch diameter)
  4. Place your massaged birdie on top of the foil

Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken realfoodinarealworld.comCook for 6-8 hours on low

That’s it!  You don’t have to add any liquid or anything.  It won’t be crispy like a rotisserie, due to lack of big pretty flames, but it will be super tasty.

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Especially tasty with latkes and a salad