Best Things We Ate, May 2016
Welcome back to the “Best Things We Ate” series! I spent much of the month of May on the road–first out in Sonoma, CA then down to one of the largest grass-fed, pasture-raised farms in the country at White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, GA and then up to New England for my cousin’s beautiful wedding on Martha’s Vineyard. Rest assured, the eatin’ was good. And a perfect example of how I live my life by the 80-20 rule: eating as healthy as I can 80 percent of the time, and allowing myself to enjoy and indulge, guilt-free, the other 20 percent. Take a look at where I splurged and saved:
Atlanta Chef’s Charity Dinner at Umi
- Photo credit Dave Crawford
I mentioned the charity dinner I hosted in Atlanta before, and though it’s been over a month since the event, I’m still dreaming about this Sichuan rabbit dish with rice noodles. Don’t get me wrong–all of the food from the evening was amazing (we corralled 14 of the city’s best chefs, after all!)–but this cold noodle dish was bright and vibrant, yet spicy and comforting. Chef Todd Mussman is the mastermind behind it–so if you live in Atlanta and haven’t eaten at Muss & Turners yet, I urge to you go now!
To counteract the five-course dinner mentioned above, I turned to one of my favorite green smoothies: this warming Chai spice green smoothie. It tastes exactly like a Chai latte, but it’s full of good-for-you ingredients, like spinach, cacao and anti-inflammatory spices. Plus it’s dairy-free… vegan actually!
Lunch at La Crema Winery
During the first week of May, I found myself at an incredible writer’s retreat in Sonoma, California with a handful of brilliant woman. We met with healthy, natural food brands and toured a few wineries, so to say it was one of the best trips I’ve been on would be an understatement. This here lunch, so chockfull of veggies and local ingredients, was easily one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. It just so happened to be served at La Crema winery, admittedly one of the last places I would’ve expected to find such fresh fare. But I was blown away by what this Russian River Valley estate turned out–both in terms of the food (sauteed kale with turnips and spring onions, delicate halibut with green garlic, pea tendrils and celtuce; and salad with strawberries, radish and horseradish vinaigrette) and the wines. They may be a mass-marketed brand, but the thought and care they put into their wines, the land and their food was truly admirable.
Acai Bowls with Sambazon
Also on this legendary Sonoma trip, we met with Sambazon and learned how to make acai bowls. I felt like the hippest instagrammer at this class, and immediately felt healthier just looking at these gorgeous bowls, chockfull of antioxidant-rich acai, fresh fruit, cacao nibs, hemp seeds, goji berries, coconut flakes, chia seeds and more goodness. Even better? The acai bowls tasted even more delicious than they looked. I’m hooked!
Grass-fed Burger at White Oak Pastures
As an eater who focuses my diet around real, whole foods, it’s super important to me to eat only grass-fed, pasture-raised meats. Or in other words, animals who were raised humanely, the way nature intended, and on sustainable farms who take care of not only the animals, but their land. So when I was invited down to White Oak Pastures, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn more about animal welfare and sustainable agriculture from one of the most repected farmers in the South (if not the country), Will Harris. Truly, I was blown away by what Harris and his family are doing at WOP. I could literally write an entire book on why it’s so important, but for space-saving purposes here, I will just say that I encourage all readers to find a trustworthy farmer who is raising their animals right and get to know them. Go tour the farm–at WOP, you can even stay overnight in one of their cabins and dine at their on-site restaurant, where I ate this ridiculous cheeseburger!–ask them questions, understand their process and support those farmers whose beliefs mirror your own. WOP is that for me, and if you live on the East Coast, I highly recommend buying your meat from them–they can ship you their products from their online farm store, too!
A smoothie that tastes like cake but is vegan, gluten-free and made with only good-for-you ingredients. Yes please! Don’t miss this guilt-free red velvet green smoothie, made with beets for that gorgeous crimson color and cacao for some serious antioxidant benefits!
Seafood on Martha’s Vineyard
My grandparents live on Cape Cod, so every Summer my family heads up to Chatham. Which maybe explains why I’ve never been to Martha’s Vineyard, though it’s also even more surprising since I’ve spent so much time in New England. Regardless, the five days I spent on Martha’s Vineyard this May were five truly special days–both because my cousin’s beautiful wedding was so full of love and joy, and because the food on the island is AMAZING! This chowder from the Seafood Shanty was one of the best bowls I’ve had (and did you see that Bloody Mary!?). Some of my other favorite spots in Edgartown: Rosewater was an adorable take-out spot serving up fresh and healthy salads and sandwiches that knocked it out of the park, while the Port Hunter killed it in the dinner and cocktails department. Don’t miss the chicken livers, which were fried and tossed with a tangy Asian vinaigrette, an unexpected combination that worked so well together! And down in Oak Bluffs, the all-butter/no-mayo lobster roll with chives and bacon from the Chowder Co. is the stuff seafood dreams are made of (yes, some people dream of flying or saucy encounters with celebrities, but I dream in food!).
Always a fan of magical green sauces, I’ve been finding new and fun ways to use the salsa verde we whipped up this month. My favorite recipe so far: this salsa verde chicken and white bean soup. In just 15 minutes, this quick + easy (there’s only 6 ingredients!) soup comes together for a fresh and healthy bowl full of flavor and nutrients, meaning it’s the perfect quick summertime meal when spending time in the kitchen is the last thing you want to do.
What was the best thing you ate in May?
Share your favorites in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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