Category: Shopping

Where I Shop in Atlanta… Markets, Grocers, Vendors and more!

groceryI’ve always loved grocery shopping. It could be because it combines two things I love– picking out new things AND food.

And as a child I remember my mom (the consumate educator) would test my math skills by making me add up totals in my head while we shopped– a habit I’ve lately abandoned. And if i was on point I’d get a treat! ANY. THING. I WANTED. AT THE STORE! Usually tomatoes or swiss cake rolls. I know those are random options, but I would eat all of the tomatoes before my mom had a chance to cook with them– so she started buying me my own. I still love them today.

Outside of that, I had loads of other opportunities to earn sweets because my older cousins hated going to the store with their mom. So I would volunteer to go with my aunt when I was little. She would test my memory by verbally giving me a list in the car and pretending to need my help remembering. No matter what, I came home with a treat from the Kroger bakery when I went with her. #spoiled. So it was always good times!

Anyway, there is no one rewarding me for randoms tasks while grocery shopping these days, BUT i still enjoy going up and down the aisles, considering meal options and comparing prices. Over time I’ve learned where to go for certain things. And I want to share that with you guys!!! If you live in Atlanta– these are the places that I like to shop.

BEST PRODUCE: Any Metro-Atlanta Farmers Market!

I’m not going to say one farmers market is better than another for produce. It kinda depends on the produce you’re looking for, but I’ll say that farmers markets generally have better options than traditional grocery stores! I love checking out small pop up markets too. They usually feature locally grown organic items. I’ll splurge for that!

Side note: Dekalb and the Sandy Springs pop-up have great greens, but Buford Hwy has great potatoes and tomatoes.

BEST SPICES: Your Dekalb Famers Market!

HANDS DOWN. They have a wall of spices packaged in a variety of weights for the lowest prices you can imagine. I buy big tubs of coarse salt and peppercorns for less than $1.00 every time I go. And if you’ve ever tried to buy nutmeg at a traditional grocery store, you know that it’ll cost you a smooth $5 for nearly none. And at Dekalb, you can get an eff load it for under $2.00. That’s just an example. But think of a natural herb– and they have it for the low!

CLICK BELOW TO KEEP READING…

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Ugly Fruits and Veggies Find Love in France

I am guilty of skipping over the ugly fruits and veggies at my local grocer and farmers market. But I never thought about the amount of food waste that creates. French super markets have found a solution for this problem! It eliminates waste AND save families money in the process. Check out the video below! Maybe the U.S. should take a queue from the French on this one!

 

The Secret of My Success… Sweet Auburn Desserts

Sweet Auburn Desserts by Chef Sonya Jones

This was the first cookbook I was ever asked to review and I took that very seriously. So I’ve had the book for a long time and I’ve tried several of the recipes. And I have to say this book is the REAL DEAL. If you want to learn how to make moist pound cakes, southern style banana pudding, bread puddings, pie crusts and classic cookies– you’ll want to invest in this book. Sweet Auburn Desserts.

The author, Sonya Jones, and her bakery on Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta are known for a delicious sweet potato cheese cake. Yes, you read that right. And yes, it is everything you think it is! This treat was my introduction to the Sweet Auburn Bakery.

While hanging out at the Sweet Auburn Festival, I heard a young man yell “Girl, you know you want this!” I turned my head laughing, sure he wasn’t talking to me. He was. But he was right. He was holding up a slice of a dessert. I rarely give in to my sweet tooth, but I found him so funny that I decided to see what he was talking about.

It turned out that his mother owned the bakery he was sitting in front of and she had made this particular dessert, for which she is “famous”. Of course I questioned what he meant by famous. He then showed me photos of his mother with all manner of celebrity; politicians, musicians, actors, etc. I asked if I could have a sample. I was denied. As there were no samples, I bought a $5 slice of the famous sweet potato cheesecake. I ate it about 30 minutes later while walking around the festival.

The thing is, I’ve never really been that into desserts. Of course I like something sweet, but I’ll choose a chocolate martini over chocolate cake any day. I like pies (especially cherry and sweet potato), but cakes never really moved me. And cheesecake only served to confuse me. Its cheese, its cake, but kinda like pie. I left it alone usually. Only once in my life have I ever had that ecstatic experience with a dessert that so many women describe, but that came many years later. Another post.

My experience with Sonya Jones’ sweet potato cheesecake was like no other. I ate my slice slowly. I even considered saving half of it for later, but I proved completely undisciplined by eating the remainder in my car. I sat there wondering when I’d return to Auburn Avenue. I had to have more. I had to share it with my mom. I went back to purchase a few more things. And I fell in love.

A few months later, I got an offer from the publisher to review her cookbook. And here we are. If you want to impress your friends and family– GET. THIS. BOOK. My family thinks I’ve mastered the pound cake. I’m constantly asked to make them. And I don’t mind!!

One tip: Read the entire recipe before beginning. Some desserts require two recipes; one for the crust and the other for the filling. I wish you happy baking. Thank you Pelican Publishing! I look forward to more!!

Time to Vote Again… With Your Fork

We’ve just gotten through the Presidential Election, but we’re not done yet. In fact, we’ll never be done because we vote every day of our lives… with our forks.

What does that mean? When we buy less than healthy foods, we tell the government and retailers that it is okay to provide us with pesticide laden fruits and vegetables, meats raised on hormones and antibiotics and packaged foods full of preservatives. These foods that fill our local grocery stores aren’t our only option. They may seem more time and cost effective now, but there are unforeseen consequences for eating this way.

I’m not looking to put Kroger and Publix out of business. I simply want them to stock their shelves with healthier options. How do we make that happen? By buying local and natural products when available. Doesn’t that cost more? Yes, for now. But think about supply and demand. If the demand for better foods goes up, farmers and manufacturers will produce more, causing the price to go down. Grocery stores will buy more at a better price and we’ll see the savings as they become more common.

It’s not likely that I will give up this cause. I see the people I love struggle with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, crohns and other ailments that can be caused, triggered or aggravated by diet choices. And I want to do more to prevent others from going through the same things. Electing government officials is our civic duty, but we can’t let election day be the only time our voices are heard.

Voting doesn’t only take place in a election booth. And here are “10 Ways to Vote with Your Fork” courtesy of Georgia Organics.

1. Eat low on the food and marketing chain by buying direct from farmers. Several studies have shown that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is 1,500 miles. In a week-long (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality.

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Salads… Not Just Iceberg Lettuce

I know so many people who say things like “I don’t eat salad”, “that’s rabbit food”, and “it just doesn’t fill me up/taste good”. But I think these are people who subscribe to the theory that salads can only be made with one type of green. Check out this video detailing some other options. So next time you’re in a restaurant, you’ll know what they are talking about on the salad menu.

Click below to find out the most healthy greens to use!  (more…)

Try This…. (Tips for) Visiting Your Local Farmers’ Market

As you know by now, I’ve gotten very into visiting local farmers’ markets. Not just the large establishments, but the pop-ups all over the city. I have yet to determine a favorite, but I’ll let you know as soon as I recognize it.

 

Anyway, if you, like many of my friends and family members, have never visited a farmers’ market, I highly recommend it. You’ll find locally grown, organic vegetables. There may not be much variety, but you’ll probably find things that aren’t available at your local grocer. And you’ll be keeping local farms in business.

 

I’ve posted a list of pop-up farmers’ markets in the Atlanta area. Have fun. And here are “5 Tips for Your First Trip to the Farmers Market” courtesy of Georgia Organics.

 

(1)    Get there early.

Check the farmers’ market website to see what time the market opens. Good farmers have very devoted fans, and may sell out of food.

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Food, Inc… Reconsidering what I consume now

"A must see!" --DineWithDani

When it came out, I was told that it was a gruesome depiction of the food industry intended to insight fear in consumers– so I never went to see it or rent it. Recently a friend announced that she was off meat after seeing a documentary on how meat is processed, so I had to know more.

After seeing Food, Inc. for myself (only seconds ago), I HIGHLY recommend it. Your threshold for blood and guts may be much lower than mine. And with that said, I want to warn you that there are some images of animal slaughter. But, to be honest, I understand that animals have to die for me to eat them, so… It was actually the statistics on corn by-products, protein-feed, dark houses, ammonia cleansing, antibiotics, pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that made me nervous.

I’ve been doing my best to buy local and organic produce for a long time, but I never considered how meat made it to my table. Here and now I pledge to seek out, support and promote small, local, cage-free, organic, grass-fed farms and dairies. Thank you Robert Kenner and Eric Schlosser for shedding some light.

The final sequence of the film really hit home: It is so much cheaper to eat unhealthy foods; a fast food hamburger is cheaper than a head of broccoli. But we don’t have to settle for what is given to us. We can decide! You vote for what is provided in stores every time the cashier scans the items in your basket. If we buy better foods, the retailers will stock more of it. And the more they stock the cheaper it becomes. It’s a cycle that we as consumers control without knowing!

Below is the trailer. The full-length documentary is available online at Netflix, iTunes (rent $4.99) and Amazon (instant video $2.99). Check it out.

10 Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Coffee Beans

To my friends, I may be a Javaholic. I love a good cuppa joe. PS- I never call it that, but it somehow seems appropriate when blogging. Anyway, I drink at least one cup every day. And I like to add warm and savory spices for extra flavor. I wanted to share these tips with you for how to make the best cup of coffee possible, courtesy of KRUPS USA and good people at 5W. Enjoy. –Dani Styles

Tip 1 – Buy Better Beans: No, we don’t just mean the more expensive bag in the coffee aisle. Fresher beans equal better coffee, so look to smaller, independent coffee shops that stock beans that are roasted on the premises or nearby. Quality establishments will stamp your coffee with its roasting date, so you know you exactly how fresh your coffee is. Coffee taste peaks from 1-3 days after the roast, and if stored properly will last up to two weeks.

 

Tip 2 – Store Correctly: Contrary to popular belief, you should never store beans in a freezer or a refrigerator. Coffee actually absorbs aromas from surrounding foods, and freezing the coffee will alter oil properties affecting taste. KRUPS recommends transferring whole bean coffee into an air tight container after opening, and storing in a cool, dry and dark place.

 

Tip 3 – Do it Yourself: Freshly ground coffee makes a world of difference, as beans start losing flavor immediately upon reaching the grinder. Grind beans yourself right before you brew, and pay attention to the coarseness of the beans, as different filter shapes require different textures. For example, mesh filters require a coarser grind, while paper filters require a finer grind, and espresso requires grinds that are almost of a sugar-type consistency for optimum flavor.

 

Tip 4 – One for Good Luck: KRUPS recommends measuring ground coffee out to equal one tablespoon of grinds per 5 oz of water, plus one heaping scoop at the end for good measure.

 

Tip 5 – Water Works: The quality of the water being used is extremely important. KRUPS recommends using cold, filtered water, especially if your tap water is not of good quality or emits a strong odor or taste.  Since coffee is 98% water,  the taste of the water will come through in the brew.

 

Tip 6 – Don’t Hesitate: Brewed coffee should be enjoyed immediately, as it will begin to lose its optimal taste mere moments after brewing. Coffee should never be left on an electric burner plate for longer than 15 minutes, or it will develop a stale, burnt taste. If not served immediately, coffee should be poured into insulated containers and used within the hour. KRUPS insulated internal tank system on the Cup on Request machine avoids this issue, and the brand’s Thermal Carafe Machines also eliminate the need for transfer, as the pot itself can be removed from the plate immediately after brewing. As a rule of thumb when using Thermal Carafes, KRUPS recommends running hot water in the carafe prior to brewing, otherwise, the cold stainless steel will cool down the liquid much too quickly.

 

Tip 7 – Become a Coffee Connoisseur: Much like a fine wine, coffee should be enjoyed with all the senses. Take note of acidity, aroma, bitterness, body and nuttiness. For in depth coffee tasting, or “cupping” tips, check out the guide from CoffeeCuppers.com here: http://coffeecuppers.com/Formal-Home-Cupping.htm

 

Tip 8 – Quick Sips: KRUPS recommends drinking smaller, more frequent servings (about 1/4 cup every hour).  Research shows that caffeine works best in small, frequent doses, and a large cup can actually lead to a crash.

 

Tip 9 – Butt Out: Studies show that caffeine combined with Nicotine intake significantly reduces caffeine’s staying power. Nicotine suppresses the effect of caffeine, cutting some of its stimulating properties in half.

 

Tip 10 – Cat Nap: Since it takes about 20 minutes to feel the effects of coffee, and sleep is the only solution to really offer a feeling of restfulness, the best way to get that second wind is by drinking a cup, then taking a quick nap while the caffeine sets in. You’ll wake up feeling alert and refreshed!


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