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!)

 

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 · vegan

Here goes nothing: Shopping on Thrive Market

~I had been curious about Thrive Market, a website where you can buy everything organic, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, etc. since I saw a commercial for it a while ago. I was just as excited shopping online as I was shopping at Fresh Thyme (which I need to visit again). Not only could you buy food, there was a wide selection of pet care and household products to choose from. They even had fair trade items! I was mostly interested in food, so that’s where I started.

I’m a big snacker, I’m snacking on seaweed as I type this right now. And also a snack hoarder. Once I buy my certain snacks, I keep them hidden in my room so no one else can have them haha. Mostly it’s Larabars, which I bought another big box of them on Thrive Market. In addition to the Larabars, I purchased a small package of seaweed (delicious!), organic wild rice cakes, ghee, fair trade coffee and grass-fed beef jerky. I was looking forward to the beef jerky since a) beef jerky is one of my favorite snacks, and b) I’ve always wanted to try grass-fed beef to see if it really does taste better than conventional beef. Sad to say I wasn’t a big fan. It had a strange almost mealy texture and an unpleasant aftertaste. I won’t totally disregard grass-fed beef, but next time I’ll try it in a burger or another preparation.

The ghee, on the other hand, was a complete impulse buy. I knew nothing about it prior to visiting Thrive Market and was super curious about it when I saw it listed under vinegar and oils. After Googling I found out that ghee is actually a form of clarified butter popular in Indian cooking. I was nervous that I bought something without knowing what it was, but curiosity got the best of me. I haven’t used it yet, but I’ll blog about it when I do.

After placing my order, I looked at the confirmation e-mail and the address said that the state it was going to ship to was Utah, not Illinois. Immediately I e-mailed customer services and they quickly corrected the error. Now I’m in the middle of my free trial until February 7th, until you get hit with their $59.95 annual membership fee. Ouch. But in the mean time I get free shipping on my next 3 orders!

Overall, I’m really impressed with Thrive Market. I love that they cater to a vast array of dietary and lifestyle needs for an affordable price, and you can donate a portion of your purchase to families in need. Their customer service was prompt and polite, and I was overall satisfied with my purchase. I’m still on the fence on whether I want to become a member after my free trial, and I’ll be munching on my healthy snacks as I make that decision haha.

Happy shopping!

https://thrivemarket.com/

farmers market · healthy eating · organic · vegan

My review of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market

~Here it is, the post you’ve all (or most of you) been waiting for: my experience of the Fresh Thyme Farmers Market! But before I jump into my formal review, I’d like to take some time and talk about my most recent trip to the Downers Grove farmers market. It was a rainy and dreary Saturday morning, but that didn’t deter me from my plans. Armed with my umbrella and good spirits, I hit the stalls. At the first produce stall I visited, I had picked up some leeks ($3 each), a purple cauliflower, a parsnip and a whopping 3.5# butternut squash! While I was paying for my purchases, a woman looked over my goods and wondered whether or not I was making soup. I laughed and said, “Maybe, it’s the perfect day for it.” After about 20 minutes walking in the rain, I got a half-gallon of fresh apple cider and headed out to Fresh Thyme.

Thankfully I found a close enough parking spot to the entrance where I wouldn’t get more wet than I already was. I grabbed a cart and was ready to hit the aisles! My initial thought was that it wasn’t very big, but it had a lot to offer. The vast majority of the products there were either organic or gluten-free, and they had a large selection for vegans as well. The first place I looked was the frozen food section, since there was an advertisement for 20% off frozen products. There was the standard fare of burger patties and frozen potatoes, but what really caught my eye was an assortment of exotic game meats. They had venison, antelope, goat, buffalo and wild boar. I was *this* close to buying goat patties, but I’m pretty sure I’d be the only one who’d eat them.

Next were the spices and preserves. On the left hand side of the aisle, there was a vast array of different butters and spreads. Something I’d always wanted to try but could never find is cashew butter. And lo and behold they had it, tucked away between the peanut butter and almond butter. On the right hand side were dried herbs and spices. They had everything from your average cloves and bay leaves to the more unusual Vietnamese cinnamon and turmeric root powder. I have no idea what the difference is between regular cinnamon and its Vietnamese twin, maybe a different taste? But I wasn’t willing to find out. But what I did find was even better: garam masala!! ❤  Known for its use in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, its warm and earthy aroma was just what I’ve been searching for.

Perhaps my favorite part of Fresh Thyme was the dried goods. You could get lentils, beans, snacks, granola, you name it all in bulk. They had so many flavors of granola it was making my head spin. But I settled on three: apple cinnamon, blueberry flax and strawberry vanilla granola. I got about a pound of each.

Overall, I loved Fresh Thyme! I spent over an hour wandering the aisles taking it all in. The prices are reasonable and the selection is enormous. I would come back in a heartbeat.

fruits · healthy eating · vegan

Here goes nothing: I try a Larabar

~With farmer’s market season wrapping up, I have to find new things to blog about. Until farmer’s season picks up again, I’ll be blogging about healthy living (food, lifestyle, etc). My first healthy living post will be featuring the Larabar, a new type of heath bar circulating store shelves.
Today while at my local CVS I had some medications filled and picked up some other things. As I approached the checkout, there on an end-cap were the Larabars along with a handful of Cliff bars. I was first exposed to Larabars visually, by way of the TV. During the commercial break of one of my favorite programs, there was a commercial for these intriguing fruit and nut bars. The young man in the commercial seemed to enjoy them, but then again he was probably paid to enjoy them, whether he liked them or not.

Flash forward back to CVS. I picked up one of them, the peanut butter cookie flavor, and studied the wrapper. The first thing that jumped out at me was how incredibly pure it appeared. Apparently the Larabar is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy free, vegan and kosher.  It also only contained 3 ingredients: dates, peanuts and sea salt. Not sure how those resembled a peanut butter cookie, I decided to buy it, along with the other 3 varieties they had, chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter chocolate chip and blueberry muffin.
When I arrived home, I peeled open the peanut butter cookie bar and took a bite. The dates were sweet and the chunks of peanuts were almost like little bb’s on my tongue. It vaguely reminded me of the taste of one of Vegan Crazy’s energy bars. Even though this bar didn’t contain chocolate, it definitely had a chocolately taste to it.

Here is my final verdict of the Larabar: tasty! Its sweet and crunchy taste is a delightful alternative to ice cream or candy. And one bar contains about a 1/4 cup of fruit, which is perfect for those with specific diet requirements. But if you’re like me, who isn’t vegan but enjoys vegan snacks, or looking for something healthy to snack on, try a Larabar! The folks at Larabar have a theory where “a sound mind, body and spirit are derived from food”. That may be true, but I achieve those through yoga and meditation haha. But seriously, if you haven’t already, try one.

 

farmers market · vegan · veggies

VeggieFest 2016

~No, this post isn’t about a farmer’s market, but rather an interesting festival I attended today. VeggieFest celebrates vegetarians, vegan, raw/paleo, organic,  and gluten-free food and the lifestyle that encompasses it. Hundreds of people, including myself, battled through the heat and humidity to sample a unique variety of vegetarian foods, watch cooking demos, and listen to live music. I went not because I’m vegetarian or vegan (which I am neither, by the way), but it was something to do and it sounded interesting. And who can beat free admission and free parking?!

I arrived in the sweltering heat and wander around the festival with the hundreds of others that have made the journey to Lisle. Vendors stretched out in neat shaded rows while a reggae band played in the background. There were a couple of live cooking demos, an art show and an organic food drive. For only a couple of dollars, you could shop in the small tent and donate the item you purchased into shopping carts filled close to the brim. Among the rice, beans and granola, I donated 2 bags of red lentils. Their goal was to raise $10,000.  The art show featured drawings from school children in the surrounding areas and depicted animals, plants, and why meditating is cool.

IMG_0384

There were also 2 book stands there as well. The first one displayed cookbooks for vegan and vegetarian cooking, changing your lifestyle, and healing properties of certain foods. Though I didn’t purchase anything, I kept browsing back at a book titled “The Sustainability Revolution”.

What I was most looking forward to was the food! There were so many different cuisines to choose from that it was hard to pick just one! They had Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Caribbean, Indian and Middle Eastern. After looking around at the endless options, I settled on a wrap. You got a wrap on either a white or wheat tortilla, a pickle and a bag of chips for 4 food tickets. I had no idea exactly what was in the wrap, but it was delicious! 😀

IMG_0388

I didn’t think I’d take anything home with me, but of course I found something. And who was there none other than the folks at Vegan Crazy!!! I’m pretty sure they think I’m stalking them, but trust me, when you get a taste of their amazing granola, you want to get it anyway and anywhere you can! I restrained myself and bought only one package of granola bites (this time goji berry coconut) and some lemon cookies.

The final event I took part in at VeggieFest was listening to a lecture from keynote speaker

Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj.

I regret not knowing anything about this man before listening to his speech, but he must be really famous. Because when he got out of his car and was walking to the stage, a HUGE crowd gathered around to catch a glimpse of him and put their hands together in prayer as he walked by. To be respectful, I did the same. He smiled and waved at his adoring fans until he took the stage. It turns out that he’s a Spiritual Master and teaches about meditation and how to live a healthy, spiritual life. He was pretty interesting!

What I remembered most from his lecture was when he told a story from when he visited a church in Barcelona, Spain years ago. The church was undergoing renovations and he had found a mural of children meditating with their thumbs in their ears and their hands covering their eyes. He said that upon seeing the mural it made him so happy, and how everyone of every faith, religion, and culture, whether young or old, can benefit from the power of meditating.

All in all, VeggieFest was pretty cool. It was an interesting experience where I learned more about being vegetarian/vegan. I’m not planning to give up on meat, but a least now I have a better understanding about life without it.

 

farmers market · Handmade · organic · vegan

Sharing the Goodness

~Waterfall Glen Soap Company is a unique shop that makes handcrafted soaps, body lotions & butters, and offers unique items from the Dead Sea. There are several things I like about this company, and I shall break it down for you. #1: Their slogan ‘Share the Goodness’ is true in every sense of the word. I feel so fresh and clean after using their products and I know they use quality ingredients. Speaking of ingredients, that leads me into #2: they use all vegan ingredients to make their soaps and body lotions & butters. And their other products, like the ones using ingredients gathered from the Dead Sea, are organic. #3: Their products are not tested on animals. Which is amazing for the vet tech side of me, and it’s just awesome in general!

I was first introduced to WFG at the Lemont farmer’s market a few weeks ago. The market was very small, only about 10 vendors, but it was still worth looking around. I made a loop around the market and came to the Waterfall Glen stand. The man behind the stand, Douglas Coggeshall, invited me to try a sample of body butter at the front of the table. The one I selected was called Citrus Grove and it smelled almost exactly like a Dreamsicle, it was amazing! Now let’s get to the good stuff.

After sampling the body butter, I purchased a bottle of the Citrus Grove body lotion and went on my way. In the summer and winter time, my skin gets itchy and dry. I already have a basket full of assorted Bath and Body Works lotions at home, but what would one more lotion hurt? The Citrus Grove lotion not only smells fantastic, but it’s light and non-greasy. I’m tempted to toss all my lotions and only use WFG lotions, but I have my select favorites from Bath and Body Works that I’ll keep.

My second purchase (and possibly my favorite) from Waterfall Glen is their Yam Hamelah Dead Sea mud mask. Yam Hamelah translates to ‘Sea of Salt’ and consists of only 3 ingredients (which are all organic): mud from the Dead Sea, activated charcoal and distilled water. When I picked it up at the Frankfort market, Doug had said to mix it first before using it, that there would be a layer of water at the top that needs to be incorporated. Facial products hailing from the Dead Sea have become a popular beauty trend and I felt that now I was one of those people exclusive enough to try it.

dead sea mud mask
Photo courtesy of the Waterfall Glen Soap Company website

After mixing the gooey and slightly gritty concoction, it was application time. The activated charcoal in the mask draws out impurities and felt like someone took a scrubbing brush to my face, while the mud was thick and cooling. Once I applied an even later, I retreated to my room for about 10-15 minutes while the mask was working its magic. I would have taken a picture of me with the mask on, but it was a little frightening! Lol. Even my own mother laughed at me when she saw it! After 10-15 minutes, I rinsed off the mask. I ended up trashing one of the wash cloths in the bathroom while trying to scrub off the mask. Once I was cleaned up and rinsed, my face felt so soft and smooth and it even started to clear up some acne! My goal is to use the mask once a week along with my daily face wash.

Last, and certainly not least, the main event: the soap! A few days earlier I e-mailed Doug about how much I loved his products and that I wanted to feature him on my blog. He was thrilled and said to come to the Frankfort market on Sunday (Father’s Day) to introduce myself and we could discuss business. When I arrived at the Waterfall Glen stand, I looked around the table at the various soaps and sampled a different scented body butter, this time it was Summer Prairie. I finally introduced myself and gave him one of my business cards. He was delighted to have met me in person and told me to pick a soap and write about it, free of charge! That was very sweet of him 🙂

There were so many scents and varieties to choose from it was overwhelming. After sniffing and sampling, I chose this scent called Narmineh, which means ‘beautiful’ in Persian. Narmineh’s main scents are ylang ylang (which is a flower that grows in areas of Indonesia and other parts of Asia) and grapefruit, and is mixed with ingredients such as mango butter to provide lather and richness, and turmeric root powder, which gives the soap a golden brown orange color, which mimics the color of sand.

narmineh
Photo courtesy of the Waterfall Glen Soap Company website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used it this morning in the shower instead of my regular Pink Chiffon shower gel from Bath and Body Works. Normally I don’t like bar soap because I feel like it doesn’t get you as clean as a gel soap would, and it feels funny on my skin when I tried to use it. But of course I didn’t want to let Doug down, nor did I want to let you, my loyal readers (wherever you are) down! I had to lather it up a bit so I could round down the pointy corners of the soap and hopefully eliminate the weird soapy feeling I described earlier. Once I got it to the right consistency, I lathered up and rinsed off.

Maybe that weird not-all-the-way-clean feeling I get from bar soap is in my head, but when I used this bar soap, I didn’t get as much of that feeling. But what I did get was a delightful crisp scent and a feeling of happiness. The soap wrapping with the caravan of camels on it reminded me of my favorite movie, The Mummy (the Brendan Fraser version), where they travel into the desert on camels to the city of the dead, Hamunaptra. The name Narmineh itself transports me to a far away land immersed in Egyptian culture, which has always fascinated me even before seeing The Mummy.

I would definitely recommend the Waterfall Glen Soap Company to anyone and everyone looking for something rich, pure, and a little out of the ordinary. Thank you Douglas for gracing the world with your amazing vegan bath and body products, and for sharing your goodness with me 🙂

*Please visit their website and browse their soaps and other selections! They will be making many appearances to local farmer’s market and festivals, and you can find out where! http://www.waterfallglensoap.com/*