Environment · healthy eating · Healthy Living · organic · vegan · veggies

Return to VeggieFest: 2017 edition

~Last year I discovered VeggieFest, a unique lifestyle festival honoring those who have the courage to refrain from meat. This time around I wanted to take my boyfriend with me to share in the experience. Truth be told, it didn’t go as well as I had imagined.

The ran fell on our proverbial  parade (it was a really nice day, not a cloud in the sky) in the form of parking. It was absolutely horrendous. When we had approached the venue, cars snaked around the lots back and forth desperate to find a spot. Unfortunately we got stuck in one of the coils and by the time we made it to the parking garage and found a spot, almost an hour had passed. Nevertheless, I was still trying to make this a positive experience for the both of us.

Once we got to the grounds where the festival was held, it was nothing but tents and a massive crowed of people sprawled before us. I immediately bee-lined for the international food court, which is what I was most looking forward to. You pay for food at the food court in the form of food tickets, where the exchange was $1= 1 ticket. I bought $20 worth of tickets, hoping to try a few different things, especially stuff I didn’t try or get the chance to try last year.

The first thing I tried as soy beef & broccoli with noodles and veggies for 6 tickets from a Chinese stand. It must have been popular because there was a long line. And for good reason because it was delicious! Even though I knew it wasn’t beef, it tasted just like beef! My boyfriend thought it was pretty tasty too, mentioning that he liked the beef alternative BETTER! But I still think he’ll stay a carnivore ;P

Next was a selection of his choosing: veggie burgers. I’ve had a few veggie burgers in the past (mostly at the cafeteria in college) and they weren’t that great, so I was a little on the fence about it. But that too turned out to be delicious!

After we ate our way around the food court we wandered around the rest of the festival peering at the different vendor’s tents while live music played in the background. One thing I noticed was really popular among festival goers was boxed water. Essentially it was purified water in a carton rather than a plastic bottle to be more environmentally conscious. I liked the idea of it, and it was refreshing. I wondered where i could find it?

Unlike last year, I only purchased a bottle of peppermint oil from the doTERRA vendor. I was also disappointed to find that the people selling the mango nectar and Doug & Katia from Waterfall Glen weren’t at the festival.

While this year may not have been as fun as last year, VeggieFest is still something I would definitely check out and recommend to anyone who is either vegetarian, vegan or wants to do something fun and free (free admission and parking!)


farmers market · healthy eating · Healthy Living · organic · veggies

Behind the Scenes at Drover’s Trail

~A couple of weeks ago I had the awesome opportunity to travel to the farm of one of my favorite market vendors: Drover’s Trail Natural Farms. They are a family run business operating on a 100+ year old farm rich in history and delicious vegetables. One of the owners, Koren Finnestad, took me on a tour of the farm. First she showed me the lettuce patches, where at least 6 different varieties were being cultivated.


There were your usual cast of characters such as spinach and red leaf lettuce, but there were mixes of different greens that were newly planted. What’s new is their meschulun mix, which isn’t available just yet, but I got a sneak peek!










Meschulun mix, currently not available for sale

After spending some time in the lettuce fields, I moved on to one of two chicken coops. Drover’s Trail sells both the meat and the eggs of the chickens, in the white and brown variety. When I asked her what the difference between a white and brown egg was, she said that there was none at all! They taste exactly the same, the only difference between them (other than shell color) is the earlobe of the chicken determines of the shell will be white or brown. Reminds me of Punnett squares back in my high school biology class haha.


And last but certainly not least, Koren showed me her pride and joy, her own personal garden! Currently she has spinach, onions, Swiss chard and a strawberry patch at the end next to an old farm building.
I loved exploring around the farm and diving headfirst into Koren’s world of sustainable, organic gardening. She is definitely an inspiration not only to be but other fledgling gardeners wanting to keep their piece of Earth green, the way nature intended.

I encourage all of you not only to eat organically, but actually take the time to find out where your food is coming from! It’ll give you piece of mind knowing you are putting the best possible ingredients into your bodies, and the farmers raising these crops or animals are doing so in a responsible and respectful manner. Thank you again to Koren and the folks of Drover’s Trail Natural Farms!! 🙂

*For more information on Drover’s Trail, visit their website http://www.droverstrailnaturalfarms.com

And you can see more of my pictures from my Drover’s Trail visit in the Photo Garden!

cheese · eggs · farmers market · healthy eating · organic · vegan · veggies

A soggy start to market season

~Today was the day I’ve been waiting an entire year for: opening day of the Frankfort farmer’s market!!! This is my Christmas! I’ve been counting down the days for weeks and it finally came, but at a small price that I was willing to pay. This weekend the weather has been nothing but cold and rainy, which I normally love but not during a market. I checked The Weather Channel app on my phone before heading over there and it said that it wouldn’t rain til more in the afternoon. It was about 9:30-10am when I checked, my hope was to get there early enough to avoid the downpour to come. My boyfriend picked me up around 10:30 and off we were to Frankfort. The short ride there I was practically jumping out of my seat with excitement and he looked over at me and smiled. When we got there, there was a very light drizzle and only a handful of vendors, those brave souls dedicated to their craft and crop to withstand the less than ideal weather.

Our first stop was at Stamper Cheese Company. As usual there was a line of cheese connoisseurs clambering to get the freshest of the fresh. After waiting about 10 minutes (although it felt longer) it was finally my turn. Chad, the guy that runs the stand at the Frankfort market, recognized me and asked how I was doing and how the blog was doing. I’m kind of surprised that he remembered me! After some small talk, I ended up purchasing a small chunk of my favorite goat Gouda, a package of cheese curds and a package of smoked mozzarella string cheese for my mom.

We then moved a few tents down to Drover’s Trail, aka some of the best produce you’ll ever find! (I’ll be posting about them in particular at a later date). One of my favorite things I get from them is their microgreen mixes, either mild or spicy. Today I went with their mild blend, but I might be adventurous next week and get the spicy. I also tried one of their green smoothies called Sickness Slayer, which combined peaches, pineapple, banana, swiss chard and carrot tops. It was green alright, like fresh-cut grass green. After a moment’s hesitation I took a sip and it was actually really good! You could hardly taste the greens since the flavors of the banana and pineapple dominated. My boyfriend admitted that it didn’t look appetizing at first but liked it once he tried it. Just because it’s green doesn’t mean it’s gross 😉

The last two stalls we visited were prehaps my favorite, the first being Doug from Waterfall Glen Soap Company. He was very excited to show off the changes he had made to some of his popular soaps and premiere some new ones. One of the ones I liked in particular was called Riverside, a newer flavor infused with honeysuckle. It was the bar I kept coming back to and sniffing, Doug even said that it had my name on it. And so it was meant to be! I can’t wait to shower with it tomorrow morning! The final stall we went to was a complete and very happy surprise. American Pride Microfarm, aka the quail guys, were making their debut at the Frankfort market! (I had only seen them at the Downers Grove market). I was beyond excited that I was even tugging on my boyfriend’s jacket and pointing “Oh my God it’s the quail guys!” He was utterly confused but went along with it, such a good sport 🙂

There was no question I was going home with a dozen quail eggs, but I also wanted to sample some of the greens. The one that drew my eye almost immediately were the onion greens. They’re a thin green with a fragile black bud at the end. One of the guys of American Pride, Bradford, had said “if you love onions then you’ll really love these” as he hacked off a few pieces with a miniature axe, which I thought was charming and reminded me of one of my favorite shows, Vikings. The onion greens were exactly as he said they would be, very onion-y. I got and ounce of those and sugar snap pea shoots.

The rain started to pick up, so we knew it was time to go. But overall I am completely happy with my purchases and meeting up with the vendors was awesome.

Happy Market Day my little sprouts! ❤



healthy eating · Healthy Living · organic · Uncategorized · veggies

Garden Gathering

~I, like most of you I’m sure, have come down with a case of spring fever. Last week I was accepted into 2 different gardening groups on Facebook, Chicagoland Gardening and Self Sufficiency and Garden Obsession (check them out in the links below!). Upon acceptance into the groups my spring fever reached a fever pitch. I would plant my own garden this year! Last year my mom was kind enough to let me have a spot in her garden to plant something of my choosing. But this time around I want to take things into my own hands.

Like most things in life, the best ideas come to you spontaneously or out of a failed attempt to execute another idea. I get my best ideas when I’m driving or in the shower. I’m also one of those people that chooses something if it “speaks to them”. And that’s exactly what happened when I traveled to Lowes and Alsip Home & Nursery over the weekend. I didn’t have a cut and dry plan on what I wanted to buy/plant, but I knew I wanted to at least plant some herbs, thanks to one of my research books The Practical Herbal Medicine Handbook. I wanted to find feverfew, a delightful daisy-like herb, in particular to help combat the awful migraines I get from time to time (mostly due to my seasonal allergies).

I first stopped at Lowes, where I immediately bee lined for the garden center. I pondered at all the vegetable and herb options, none too pleased with what I saw. Trying to shake off my disappointment , I went back outside to try and find my dream planter. I had been eyeing this beautiful cedar wood planter for the past week and my disappointment struck again when they didn’t have it in stock 😞

Sparing myself more disappointment and heartache, I ventured to Alsip Home & Nursery, where my mom swears by as the best place to get gardening stuff. The rows and rows of planters stretched as far as the eye could see and the seed options were endless! After a solid hour of going back and forth between seeds and planters, this is what I came home with: 7 seed packets, 2 large planters, one small planter, a watering can and a new toy for the birds (I have 4 parakeets). I’m surprised I was able to fit the planters into my tiny trunk! Haha

Curious to know what I’ll be planting this year? You’ll just have to wait and see….. 😉



farmers market · healthy eating · veggies

Making Peace with Sweet Potatoes

~As kids, we were told to eat our vegetables. One of those vegetables I was told to eat were sweet potatoes. The other one was green beans, but that’ll be for another post entirely. I was never a fan of sweet potatoes growing up, not only because they were orange, but also because I thought they had a weird stringy texture.

I can recall back to when I was about 11 or 12 years old, the family’s sitting around the table for dinner. My mother, bless her heart, tried with all her might to get me to try a sweet potato, but my defiant preteen self was dead set on not eating it. My mom even tried paying me to take a “no thank you” bite! A shiny quarter later, I reluctantly put the sweet potato in my mouth. It was just as I imagined: it had a strange tasty with that peculiar stringy texture.

As I got a little older, I stayed away from sweet potatoes as much as I could. When autumn rolled around every market was selling them! Around the holidays, my aunt makes a giant pan of whole roasted sweet potatoes every Thanksgiving. But now? Not as bad as I thought, but I’m one of those weirdos that only eat some foods in a certain preparation. I’ll only eat them fried (either as chips or fries) and mashed. I’ve had sweet potato fries in restaurants a couple of times, and I’m pleased with the crunchy/creamy taste combo. I tried mashed sweet potatoes for the frist time at Mariano’s. They have a hot foods bar where you can get a variety of entrées and sides for like $7 a pound. One day after yoga, I went there and scanned the bar.

And there they were: mashed sweet potatoes with maple sugar. I did a few laps around the bar before finally deciding on the smallest bit of sweet potato mash to put on my plate. To be perfectly honest, I braced myself before taking a bite. And to my great surprise, it was good! Not as creamy and delicious as regular mashed potatoes however.

So sweet potatoes aren’t so bad after all. Still not a giant fan of them, but now they’re at least tolerable.

farmers market · veggies

Gourd Have Mercy

~Autumn has officially descended upon us! Tis the season for cooler weather, leaves changing, sweaters & boots, Halloween, apple picking and pumpkin flavored everything. And my birthday is on the first day of fall, also referred to as the Autumnal Equinox.

My birthday gifts I received this year had a subtle fall theme to it. A birthday card my mom gave me had an adorable French Bulldog puppy emerging from a Jack-O-Lantern surrounded by falling leaves. And my cousin gifted me a Vera Bradley purse with a surprise inside: 2 miniature pumpkins and a gourd. There was also a gift card to a grocery store called Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market (which I’ll blog about later).

She found these gourds at the Fresh Thyme market and thought of me and my blog and said that I should blog about the market. That was so sweet 🙂

And this past Saturday I went to the Downers Grove market, one of a few markets still open, and there were gourds everywhere!! Big ones, small ones, short ones, tall ones!

Gourd have mercy!

farmers market · organic · veggies

Turn the Beet Around

~Whenever I think of beets, I think of my aunt’s pickled beets she would make for Thanksgiving, and the lengths I would go to avoid them. There they were, sitting in the dish leaking their red juices staining the dish a deep red. Even thinking about it now a stink face appears. But after having tried beets in my rustic roasted veggies recipe, I can come to appreciate beets a little more.

Not only are they rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, they are so dang versatile! You can roast them, pickle them, fry them or eat them raw. And they come in some many varieties: red, golden, candy cane, purple, the list goes on. I first came across beets at the Lockport farmer’s market about a month ago. I knew I had wanted to blog about beets at some point (especially wanting to create a catchy title lol), and then was a good time as any. I found a bunch that only had 3 beets in it, I didn’t want to get a huge bunch in case I didn’t like them. After sitting in my fridge for a while, along with other assorted vegetables, I threw them in a pan with some spices and voila! My Rustic Roasted Veggies were born!

I thinly sliced some 2 of the 3 beets and tried them raw, to know what I would be getting myself into. It was pretty tasty, sweet with a slight crunch. And after they were roasted it was even better! I still have one beet left (and it’s pretty big), my plan is to slice it thinly on the mandolin (without taking a chunk of my finger with it, dammit kohlrabi) and pan frying it in either olive or vegetable oil. My mom had found some dried beets at Aldi the other day and I took some with me in my lunch for work.

As I was sitting on the staircase (we don’t have an official break room) chomping away, one of my coworkers asked me what I was eating. When I told her I was eating beet chips, she gave me a puzzled look and commended me on eating healthy. Haha I try. Next time I cook with beets, I’ll try making my own beet chips and cooking with the greens, since they are good for you too! I’m also hoping to get my hands on some candy cane beets. I see them used on Chopped (perhaps my favorite cooking show) and they look so cool!