How to Shop the Farmers’ Market Like a Pro!

Now that the weather has been getting nicer, outdoor farmers’ markets are starting up again all over the place! I always look forward to biking to the market on the weekend, grabbing a coffee, and doing some of our grocery shopping. Today, I thought I would share some of the shopping strategies/tips we have come up with over the last couple of years to make the most of our weekly trips to the market.

  • Not sure if there is a farmers’ market in your area? Check out this market locator.
  • If you like to plan your meals ahead of time, make sure you take a look at what’s in season in your area. You don’t want to plan on using asparagus for your meals in August (if you live in the Northwest)! Check out this produce seasonality guide to see what you may find in the market this week. 
  • Pack some reusable shopping bags! Most vendors usually have bags, but you can fit so much more in one of these. Plus, it’s a great way to go green. 🙂
  • Make a loop around the market to see what is available that day before you start buying. Dozens of times I have been a little over-eager and started buying at the first stand I came to before I took a moment to scope out what’s available this week. There might be a vendor elsewhere in the market with tastier looking (or cheaper) produce and you’ll be missing out!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the farmer/vendor if you don’t recognize a fruit or vegetable. They love talking about their food!
  • Chat with meat, dairy, or prepared food vendors and see how they raise or prepare their products.
  • If you are buying a new-to-you fruit or vegetable, try asking the farmer/vendor if they have any tips for preparing them. We have gotten some great advice in the past from farmers!
  • Shop at the farmers’ market before you do your weekly grocery shopping at the store. Since it is hard to predict what will be at the market, shop there first and buy anything that wasn’t available at the grocery store.
  • You know the saying, “the early bird gets the worm”? That definitely applies to the market! The best of the produce gets picked up first, so aim to get there early during market hours.

Marketbuys
Here’s a look at what we bought at the market this week: black beans, beef, fish, spicy tofu, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese, asparagus, green onions, lettuce, and spinach.
Do you like shopping at the farmers’ market? What are some of your handy tips for shopping the farmers’ market?

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10 Things Tuesday: Summer on My Mind

Here’s a quick recap of some of my favorite posts from the past week! 10 Things Artichokes
1. I admit, I haven’t really caught on to the green smoothie movement as much as so many bloggers out there. However, this tropical green smoothie from Eating Bird Food caught my eye!
2. For a long time, I avoided tuna salad like the plague because I just hate anything with mayonnaise. However, lately I’ve been warming up to it, especially now, when I have been seeing more recipes (like this one!) using hummus or yogurt in place of the dreaded mayo.
3. Despite the rather dreary weather here in Chicago, summer is still on my mind. These 2 sangria recipes via Smitten Kitchen look lovely.
4. I am excited to get started on this new book I picked up this weekend!
5. I always really enjoy these reflective posts by Joy the Baker. This week, she wrote one on turning thirty-two.
6. Of all the different types of plant based vegetable proteins out there, I have yet to try textured vegetable protein. I need to though, especially when you can use it in delicious dishes like this vegetarian Mexican lasagna from I Heart Vegetables.
7. When hotter temperatures arrive, I’ll have to keep in mind these tips for running in the heat from rUnladylike.
8. I can’t stop drooling over this baked berry French toast from Foodie Finds Fitness. She may think it looks like a hot mess, but I would totally devour that yummy breakfast dish just the same!
9. Cookies for breakfast? Umm… yes, please!!
10. This spring, I have totally been crushing on strawberries, but I never would have thought to put them on pizza. I am so intrigued!

A Chill(y) Memorial Day Weekend

It’s been a chilly Memorial Day weekend here in Chicago! That hasn’t kept us indoors the entire weekend however. 🙂 Saturday, we did some biking and walking while clothes shopping along North Milwaukee. Will scored quite a few great finds! Yesterday, the sun decided to peek out from behind the clouds a bit as we biked to the Farmer’s Market. I am so happy the outdoor market has started up again for the season! Here’s a few pics from our weekend. IMG_20130525_194219_290DSCF4654Sushi and some mochi (ie. ice cream rolled in sticky rice paste/cake) at Nori!
IMG_20130526_123014_579 IMG_20130526_123227_953Shopping at the Logan Square Farmer’s Market.DSCF4660Play time in the lot next to our apartment with Honey. 🙂

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Yesterday, we had a chill evening catching up with the Bluths! We love that Arrested Development just released a new season. 🙂

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Aside from the fun, let’s also remember the reason for Memorial Day. Remember the thousands of wonderful men and women who have served or given up their lives so that we can enjoy our families and barbeques. As an employee at a Veteran’s Hospital, I am daily reminded of their sacrifices. I can’t tell you how many times I have been impressed and inspired by their stories. Take a moment to check out this incredible story of an Iraq war Veteran who completed the blind rehab program at Hines.

Link Love Wednesday: Good for a Few Laughs!

1. I am looking forward to trying out this “cheesy” coconut sauteed chickpeas and kale recipe from Fannetastic Food!
2. Did you know that it is YouTube Comedy Week? Will and I were exploring some videos last night and came across this hilarious series of “true facts” about obscure animals. I couldn’t stop clicking on more and laughing! I loved this one…

3. This chopped apple quinoa salad from Pinch of Yum looks perfect for packing in my lunch for work.
4. Now that warmer weather is here, I am craving more overnight oats! These vanilla blackberry overnight oat parfaits by Fit Foodie Finds are so adorable.
5. I am kind of obsessed with sweet potatoes. When I came across this savory sweet potato casserole, I immediately pinned it for future reference! Looks yummy.
6. Speaking of sweet potatoes, how about these sweet potato & black bean burgers from Cookie and Kate!
7. Angela from Oh She Glows has done it again! I can’t wait to try this chocolate version of her coconut whipped cream. 🙂
8. Loved this collection of “the most embarrassing things ever blurted out by kids”. Hilarious!
9. Olive to Run posted this great guide to running apparel and motivation – love it!
10. I can’t get enough of this Macklemore and Ryan Lewis song, “Can’t Hold Us”!

High Protein English Muffins

Time for another Recipe Redux! The theme for the month of May was healthy brunch dishes. After thinking over it a bit, I decided to try my hand at making homemade English muffins. After our recent success making a high protein pizza crust using almond flour and wheat gluten, I just had to try using that same combo for these! For any of you who may be unfamiliar with wheat gluten, it is just another name for the protein found in wheat (which unfortunately is becoming an increasingly common allergen). In this case, I used it in a dehydrated powder form. However, wheat gluten is also used to make the vegetarian protein product seitan. Gluten is important for baked goods because it gives the food structure. When baking with non-wheat flour like almond flour, you sometimes need the added gluten to make things rise as they bake!
One of the great things about the gluten is that it really helps pack in the protein! Each muffin has 14 grams of protein compared to the 5 that are in a traditional English muffin. If you are like me, the more protein I can get in my breakfast, the longer I can last before my stomach starts growling for lunch! English MuffinsHigh-Protein English Muffins
(Makes 10 muffins)
Ingredients:
– 2 1/2 cups almond flour
– 1 cup wheat gluten
– 1 packet fast acting yeast
– 1 1/3 cup warm milk
– 2 teaspoons salt
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 2 tablespoons oil
Directions:
1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add oil and milk and stir well until it starts to form a sticky ball of dough.
2. Let dough rest in a warm place for about an hour. It won’t rise much so don’t worry if you can’t tell if it’s gotten any bigger!
3. Divide dough into 10-12 patties, each about 3 inches round. Place patties on a cookie sheet and let sit in a warm oven. After about 30 minutes, they should start to puff up a little.
4. Put a skillet or iron griddle over medium heat. Lightly grease and cook patties for about 15 minutes, flipping occasionally. When done, they should be lightly browned on both sides.
Serve with your favorite toppings!

Bad Case of the Mondays

How was your weekend? We had fabulous weather here in Chicago, so we definitely tried to make the most of it! Thursday night, I met one of my coworkers for dinner at this cute little new-to-me restaurant near our neighborhood called Antique Taco. Oh. my. goodness! It was so delicious! In fact, I convinced Will to go with me again the next night. I loved their rosemary margaritas, mushroom tacos, and fish tacos!
DSCF4634 DSCF4635Saturday night we headed downtown to visit a couple of places participating in Chicago Craft Beer Week. My favorite was Rock Bottom Brewery where we had the chance to sit on the rooftop patio. What a great view of some of the surrounding skyscrapers!  They were offering a tasting flight of their brews as part of the event. I think our favorite was one called Runner’s High. 🙂DSCF4641 DSCF4637
After such a lovely weekend, it is always tough to head back to work. Since I’ve been to Antique Taco twice in the last week,  I thought I would share this funny taco/nacho joke Will showed me recently. We could all use a laugh on Mondays, right? Anytime I think about those foods, I remember this joke and chuckle! Let’s “taco bout it”. 🙂

High Protein Pizza Crust (ie. Pro-Dough!)

As a vegetarian, I am always looking for interesting ways to incorporate more non-animal sources of protein in my diet. Will, on the other hand, is always looking for ways to creatively make favorite foods low in carbohydrates. Both of these diet restrictions may seem to be on different ends of the spectrum, so it makes it fun to come up with dinners. We felt like doing a bit of experimenting last night and came up with this recipe for a high protein pizza crust. In place of the flour, we used a combination of almond flour and wheat gluten. So, instead of having about 16 grams of protein for 2 servings of crust, this one has 38 grams! You can find both of these ingredients from Bob’s Red Mill which is carried by Whole Foods. I was really surprised that the texture of this crust is actually really close to regular flour dough. I also thought it was tastier than the cauliflower crust we have made in the past.

  Pro Dough Pizza

Pro-Dough Pizza
(Serves 2)
Ingredients:
– 3/4 cup almond flour
– 1/4 cup wheat gluten
– 1 tsp salt
– Dash of oregano and garlic powder
– 1/4 cup water

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine flour, gluten, salt, garlic, and oregano in a small bowl. Add water and stir well. Knead dough into a ball.

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2. Spread dough 1/4 inch thick on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges of the crust begin to brown lightly.
3. Top crust with sauce, cheese, and toppings of choice. Broil for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.