My Go-To Healthy Living Blog Recipes

I’m home from the most relaxing five day mountain and beach vacation. My week was full of friends, sun, sand, waves, cocktail hours, and eating at fun restaurants. While I loved every minute of the trip, I came home ready to clean up my diet and get back to my regular healthy foods.

To detox from the week, I’m really just going back to my usual eating habits of minimizing my intake of dairy, caffeine, alcohol, meat, processed foods and sugar. I’m re-focusing on seasonal fruits and vegetables, plant-based proteins, drinking tons of water, and only eating when I’m hungry.

In turn, I’m going back to some of my favorite go-to healthy living blog recipes. I’ve been reading healthy living blogs for more than a year now, and I have a list of recipes from various sites that I find myself making over and over. They are all tasty, healthy, and easy – so I thought I’d share some of my go-to list with you!

(*Note: All of the beautiful pictures belong to the bloggers themselves. If I took a picture of my version of a recipe, it’s to the right of the beautiful picture. I’m sure you’ll be able to differentiate.)

1. Green Monsters from Oh She Glows: While I don’t ever follow a set recipe for my smoothies, I have adopted Angela’s habit of adding leafy greens into them. My go-to ingredients are frozen bananas, almond milk, other frozen fruits, spinach and/or kale. These smoothies are full of “clean” nutrients and are especially refreshing after a big workout or on a hot summer day. And if mixed properly, you can’t taste the greens!

Green Monster    blender

2. Easy and Healthy Banana Muffins from Peanut Butter Runner: The title says it all; these muffins come together quickly, are low in sugar, and are high in protein (for muffins at least). I make these all the time, and my boyfriend has started requesting them when he visits. They are good with breakfast, as an afternoon snack or for dessert. I like them best topped with peanut butter or honey.

Banana Muffins PBR banana muffins

3. Raw Chia Seed Jam from Eating Bird Food:  Summer is the perfect time to make this jam, and it’s super easy to make with only three of four ingredients. Brittany makes hers with strawberries, but I’ve tried it with blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and a mix of the three, and they’ve all turned out well. The chia seeds are a plant-based source of omega 3s, antioxidants, fiber and protein. Depending on the ripeness of my berries, I vary the amount of sweetener in this jam, and I often use honey instead of Stevia. I love this on toast or in oatmeal.

strawberrychiaseedjam   strawberry jam

4. Vegan Mushroom and Kale Gravy from Oh She Glows: This is more of a winter staple for me; it tastes so good on a cold winter night! Angela puts hers over millet, but I usually use this gravy over quinoa or spaghetti squash.

mushroom gravy     Mushroom sauce vegan

5. Gluten Free Chocolate Quinoa Bars from Fannetastic Food: For this recipe I usually replace the garbanzo bean flour with whole wheat flour and the milk with almond milk, but they still turn out well. I’ve made these to take on road trips or to have as afternoon snacks. They taste way better than packaged granola bars and are so much healthier.

quinoa bars FF

6. Tomato Pie from Daily Garnish: I made this last weekend for my family and am kicking myself for not taking a picture – it turned out so well! We had farmers market tomatoes and basil, and decided to use them in this pie. The brown rice crust has protein and fiber, and I actually like its taste better than pastry crust. This is another great summer dish that can be prepared in only a few steps.

Tomato Pie

7. Quinoa Bowls from Peanut Butter Runner: Quinoa is one of the best plant-based proteins you can find. It’s a seed that expands into a fluffy texture when boiled in liquid. I base a lot of means around it because it’s healthy, filling, and can work with any flavor. I typically build bowls (like Jen’s below) with some mixture of vegetables, beans, tempeh, a veggie burger and/or a homemade sauce. This dish is super versatile and works in any season.   Quinoa bowl

8. Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf from Oh She Glows: This is the most time-consuming recipe on the list to make and requires the largest number of ingredients, but if you’re wanting a hearty, filling, protein-packed vegan dish, this is a good one! It makes a large loaf that will leave you with leftovers, and this dinner will even satisfy and meat eaters in your family.

Lentil Loaf

9. Frozen berries in almond milk from Daily Garnish: Emily doesn’t write out a recipe or provide a picture for this, but I read her post on eating healthy and picked up this tasty tip to tame a sweet tooth. I’ve started freezing a portion of the berries I bring home from the farmers market each week just for this purpose. When you pour the almond milk over the berries, the whole dish turns into a creamy, icy cereal-like dessert. It’s sweet and refreshing!

Berries in milk

10. Overnight Oats from Kath Eats: A lot of bloggers I follow eat overnight oats, but the recipe I loosely base my breakfast on was written by Kath. Each night before work, I fill a jar (below is one of my recycled pickle jars) about 1/3 full of rolled oats. I also add half of a sliced banana, about one tablespoon of chia seeds, a scoop of nut butter, and enough water to cover get the mixture floating around. I refrigerate it overnight, and in the morning the oats will have soaked up all of the liquid. I take the jar to work and stir in some more water to get my desired consistency. If I am wanting a hot breakfast that day, I’ll microwave the oats. Otherwise, they are great cold!

I make a vegan version of Kath’s recipe, so I replace the milk with water or almond milk, and I don’t add yogurt. Some other mix-ins I occasionally add are cinnamon, cocoa powder, protein powder, cooked quinoa (to really bulk it up), berries, or honey.

I have been eating this breakfast for about a year, and I still look forward to eating it every morning. It has protein, fiber, fruit, omega 3s, healthy carbs, and healthy fats. This is such a healthy and delicious way to start the day – I recommend everyone try it at least once!

Kath's OIAJ       Oats in a jar

Have you made any of these dishes? Tell me about some of your healthy go-to recipes – I’m always looking for more!

Posted in Favorites, Nutrition, Recipe | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

14 Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Consumption

Plastic is found in an astonishing percentage of products or packaging today. It’s in your computer, your car, your refrigerator, your toothbrush, your recycle bin (ironically enough), your fork at lunch, your to-go box for dinner, and even your clothes. And of the nearly 30 million tonsof plastic Americans generate each year, only about seven percent was recycled. Besides piling up in our landfills, floating around in our oceans, leaching chemicals into our soil, and increasing our dependency on oil (yes, most production involves a large amount of oil), it’s also potentially harmful to our health.

plastic-bottles-photo

A common compound in plastic is called Bisphenol A, or BPA. This chemical is often found in food packaging, plastic bottles, toys and other consumer goods, and more than 90 percent of us have traces of it in our bodies due to the large amount of plastic we encounter. This chemical has been linked tohealth problems such as infertility, developmental issues, and prostate and breast cancers. While eliminating BPA and plastic from your life may be impossible, I think it’s worth making a few changes to reduce your exposure. Below are some ways I avoid plastic in my life, both to benefit my health and the planet.

1. Use reusable grocery bags. According to No Impact Man, Colin Beavan, humans trash four to five trillion plastic bags worldwide. They are the world’s most ubiquitous consumer item, leaving stores in quantities hundreds of times greater than any other piece of merchandise. Humans recycle these bags at a rate of less than one percent, and when trashed, they either burned in incinerators and poison the air, leach BPA and other chemicals into the soil, or wind up floating for hundreds of years in the ocean.

Plastic shopping bags are incredibly wasteful and totally unnecessary. The solution? Bring your own bags with you, especially to the grocery store. I have used the three bags below for every one of my grocery trips in the last year, keeping tons of plastic bags out of the trash.

Plastic Grocery

2. Don’t use individually packaged items.Items that are individually wrapped require more packaging per product than items sold in large quantities. Anything travel-sized, miniature, or single-serving have a much lower product to packaging ratio and will produce more waste per use than larger items. Stay away from things like Kraft singles, hotel bottles of shampoos (don’t bring a handful home with you!), single-serving peanut butter packets, etc.

Plastic PB

3. Shop bulk bins.This is the opposite of #2; bulk bins allow you to bring home a lot of product with minimal packaging. I buy my oats, rice, nuts, cocoa powder, coconut flakes, dried fruit and quinoa from bulk bins. It’s ideal to have your own cloth baggies to reuse, but even if you have to use the plastic bags provided in the bulk aisle, it’s almost always better and less wasteful than the packaging a food company would use.

4. Reuse Ziploc baggies. While Ziploc baggies are not environmentally friendly in any way, I bet that most people still have a stash of them in their kitchens. There’s no point in throwing them away, so if you have them, you might as well use them – efficiently. Keep one bag as your sandwich bag for the week (or multiple weeks), and instead of dropping it in the trash once you’ve eaten your daily sandwich, bring it back home with you. Rinse it if it got dirty, air it out (see picture), and use it the next day. Delegate several bags to different types of foods and make them last! You would be surprised at how many uses you can get out of one baggie.

Reuse plastic bags

5. Stop buying plastic Tupperware.Along the same lines as Ziplocs, I would bet that most of us have plastic Tupperware at home. While it may not make sense for your family to immediately recycle or give them all away, make it a point to not purchase any more.

Heating plastic causes it to release harmful BPA 55 times fasterthan normal, contaminating your food with chemicals, so I don’t like to do any reheating in Tupperware. I am very slowly transitioning to glass storage containers. I started by saving glass salsa and spaghetti sauce jars – I take my oatmeal to work in glass jars, I use them to store beans and grains and sauces at home, and  I recently started making cucumber water in them!

Water in jar    Oats in a jar

6. (For ladies) use the bag you’re already carrying. I can’t count the number of times I’ve run into a store for a quick one or two item trip and have not needed a plastic bag because of my large purse (shown below). I know it is almost instinctual for employees at the checkout to drop your purchases into a bag, but for so many shopping trips, you don’t need a bag. If you are simply going into Target to buy a new toothbrush, walking to your car, and then carrying the toothbrush from your car into your house, do you really need a bag? And if you needed to buy several items, say several toiletries that would be awkward to carry in your hands, carry some or all of the items in your purse.

Plastic Big Purse

*On the note of instinctual bagging, if the cashier drops your single toothbrush into a bag before you’ve had a chance to tell him/her you don’t need a bag, simply fish it out and leave the plastic bag hanging on the rack! Just because he/she gave you a bag, doesn’t mean you have to take it.

7. Don’t buy drinks in plastic bottles.60 billion single-use drink containers were purchased in 2006, and 75% of them were thrown into the trash directly after one use. Besides possibly leaching BPA and polychlorinated biphenyls(PCBs) into your drink, plastic bottles take a lot of time, energy and resources to break down.

Plastic bottle

If you’re buying bottled water, buy no more! The majority of tap water in America is safer and held to more stringent tests than bottled water, and it’s free. Buying bottled water is a waste of your money and a waste of natural resources. If you’re buying another drink in a plastic bottle, I’m going to guess it’s not that good for you, anyway. (Think soda, juice, sugary sports drinks…) And If you’re stuck on plastic bottles because of convenience, train yourself to keep a reusable water bottle with you at your desk, in your car, or wherever you frequent; you will save both money and your health.

8. Bag your trash more efficiently. Yes, the garbage bag in which you dump your trash is garbage, too. Make sure you fill your trash bags all the way up before taking them out. This will ensure you are being as efficient as possible with them and are not creating excess, unnecessary waste in the form of your bag. Also, if you live in a place where you can dispose of trash piece by piece, consider not using bags and just emptying your can right into the dumpster. Finally, consider using biodegradable bagsto further reduce your plastic consumption.

9. Stop accepting plastic utensils. An estimated 40 billionplastic utensils are used every year in the United States, and the majority of them are thrown away after just one use. At work, I keep two sets of plastic utensils and reuse them every day. I keep one spoon for my oatmeal at breakfast, a fork for my lunch, and a knife for anything that needs cutting. I wash them in the break room sink after each use, and they have lasted for months! If I ever pick up food during the work day, I don’t accept plastic utensils – I just wait until I get back to my desk to use the ones I already have.

Reuse Utensils

10. Think before you get your coffee in a to-go cup. Because of the inner plastic layer of Starbucks’ paper to-go cups, they are not recyclable in most paper recycling systems. Three billionof Starbucks’ paper cups alone are thrown into landfills each year. And while the company’s plastic to-go cups are recyclable, they still require energy to be produced, energy to be broken down, and are often thrown in the trash anyway when someone can’t easily find a recycle bin. So, it’s best to bring your own reusable mug wherever you go for coffee.

Starbucks trash

11. Don’t use plastic produce bags. Those pull-and-rip bags near the fruits and vegetables at the grocery store? You don’t need ‘em. It’s totally fine to drop produce that you’re going to peel anyway (like bananas and oranges) right in the bottom of your cart. I’ll even drop things like apples and peaches into my basket without bags, because I wash them thoroughly at home anyway. For anything that absolutely requires a bag (like grapes, broccoli, or bulk grains), consider these reusable options.

12. Buy from the farmers market. One very noticeable different between farmers markets and conventional grocery stores is the lack of packaged foods. At every farmers market I’ve been to, food is sold at open-air stands, and nothing comes in a box, plastic bag, or shrink-wrapped package. This means a lot of great things for your health (no preservatives necessary for farmers market food!), but it also means less of an environmental impact. And instead of using the plastic bags often provided by the farmers, bring your own canvas bags to make your trip totally plastic free.

13. Stop using straws. Now that you know a little more about plastic and its harmful chemical make-up, do you really want to slurp your drinks through a tube of potentially hormone-disrupting BPA? Hopefully not. But McDonalds alone still passes out about 60 million straws per day. They are all used one time and tossed into the trash. That huge number, combined with all of the other fountain drink serving restaurants, adds up to an immense amount of plastic waste just in the form of straws each day. Start saying no to straws at restaurants, and if you like to use them at home, consider glass or stainless steel.

14. Buy bar soap instead of body wash. Bar soap usually has much less packaging in general than body wash, and it never requires a big plastic bottle. Bar soap is typically less expensive per washthan liquid soap, so you’ll save some money with this switch, too! This rule applies for other bath and beauty products; if you can buy a product not sold in a plastic bottle or dispenser, opt for that product!

 

**So there you have it. Those are the top tips that came to mind when I started thinking of ways I reduce my plastic consumption, and hopefully you can apply a few to your daily life!

What are some ways you avoid plastic?

Posted in Awareness, Grocery Stores, Public Health, Sustainability, Waste Less | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A Summer Reading List for a Healthier Planet and a Healthier You

In honor of the beginning of summer, I’m posting some of my favorite books related to health and sustainability. I have read them all within the last four years, and I consider them to still be relevant and interesting in the context of today. Consider adding some of these to your summer reading list!

No Impact Man: This book was an optional reading assignment in a global issues course I took in college. I opted out at the time in favor of reading another book, but after hearing other students present it in class, I decided to read it myself. And I’m so glad I did! This book took my enthusiasm for the environment to a whole other level. It is the story of a man, his family, and their quest to make no impact on the environment for an entire year. It is so interesting to read how the journey affected his life, and it’s full of facts that are presented in an interesting and memorable way.

No Impact Man, by Colin Beavan

Skinny Bitch: I read this book on a trans-Atlantic flight; I got on the plane moderately passionate about food and nutrition and got off the plane seriously enamored by it.  This book, in its blunt and abrasive way, provides eye-opening information about all the usual suspects: sugar, caffeine, meat, dairy, processed food, etc. While some of the advice is extreme, you can’t put down this book, and it is guaranteed to inspire you to make a few positive changes in your diet. Take the title and some of the language with a grain of salt.

Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

The Dirty Life: The story of a thirty-something New York writer who falls in love with a farmer and moves to a farm near Lake Champlain, this book makes you appreciate all the work that goes into growing and harvesting food. I also found this fascinating because I could so relate to this urban girl turned farmer – I’ve always secretly wanted to live on a farm. The author certainly doesn’t sugar coat farm life, but the mix of food, romance and rural life throughout the story kept me entertained the whole way through.

The Dirty Life, by Kristin Kimball

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: This book is another beautifully written account of farm life. Renowned author Barbara Kingsolver documents the year she and her family vowed to only eat what they could grow themselves or buy from neighbors. I loved reading about the family’s adventures with livestock, bad weather, surviving the winter and even throwing parties on the farm. I also really enjoyed the journalistic, informational sidebars written by Kingsolver’s husband and the recipes written by Kingsolver’s daughter. This book is multi-faceted and will absolutely grow your appreciation for and understanding of food.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver

Food Rules: Hopefully you’ve heard of this one? Or at least its author? Michael Pollan is one of the most highly esteemed figures in the food revolution, agriculture, public health and the environment. Food Rules is his basic handbook for what and how we should eat. It is a quick read, and every point makes total sense. Stop worrying about fad diets and counting calories – buy this book and share it with your friends! Many of his tips are seemingly obvious, but he explains them well and back them up.

Food Rules, by Michael Pollan

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Another Michael Pollan; this book is much more in depth than Food Rules, but if you’re interested in the food industry, the environment, agriculture, and how they connect, it’s worth your time. Pollan examines the primary food chains that sustain us today: industrial food, organic/alternative food, and food we can forage ourselves. He offers a deep, factual dive into the modern American diet and how our relationship with food evolved into what it is today.

Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan

In Defense of Food: Last Michael Pollan book (for this post). In Defense of Food is somewhat of a response to The Omnivore’s Dilemma. While The Omnivore’s Dilemma details the current habits in Americans’ diets, In Defense of Food details how we can change those habits for the better. This book goes more into how we can enjoy healthy foods, how we can moderate our appetites, and how we can make more thoughtful choices about eating. This book makes the argument that our personal health is directly related to the food we eat and the health of our food systems. I think Pollan hits the nail on the head with this one!

In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan

Eating Animals: I have actually not read this book in entirety, so I won’t give it a review here. It was summer reading at UNC-Chapel Hill several years ago, though, and since I am an alumna, I’d like to keep up! I’ve heard this is an eye-opening piece about factory farming, commercial fisheries, and modern day meat consumption. I’ll be back with my thoughts on this one later in the summer!

Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer

 

Overall, any and all of these books will teach you something useful, motiviting, inspiring or beneficial in terms of your treatment of the planet or your diet. I have taken away valuable lessons from each of these and hope you will enjoy them as much as I did!

Have you read any of the books on this list? Do you have any other suggestions to add?

Posted in Awareness, Favorites, Nutrition, Policy, Politics, Public Health, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Scenes from a Summer Weekend

Another trip to the farmers market Saturday morning:

Another breakfast at Luna’s:

A trip home:

Some exercise:

A dinner date with my brother at Vivace:

And a Sunday summer sky:

Posted in Charlotte, Favorites, Local, Restaurants | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How Do You Spend Your Time?

I recently came across this survey in the Wall Street Journal that tracks how you spend your time versus the average American. You enter the amount of time you spend on various tasks on an average day, and the survey compares your answers to the rest of the population. The data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2011 report.

Take the survey here!

As I was filling out my survey, I found myself thinking that the amount of time I perceive myself to spend on various activities and the amount of time I actually spend might be very different. Perhaps the same can be said for the Bureau’s data, because some of its findings were surprising to me.

Here are my results:

My Results

Does anyone else find it surprising that the average American claims to get more than eight and a half hours of sleep a night? Or exercises more than an hour and a half a day? I thought we were a more sleep-deprived, sedentary nation – but I guess it’s better to be pleasantly surprised than the opposite.

Despite the large amount of sleep and exercise the average American claims to get, how is it that they are still watching TV three hours a day? That was another surprisingly large number to me.

Something else that stood out to me when I was taking the survey was how little time I spend eating and drinking compared to how much time I shop for and prepare my meals. While food preparation is not captured in the WSJ’s quiz, it is in the Bureau’s report. The average person spends less than an hour a day on food prep and consumer goods purchases combined, but I know I spend more. I realized that for all of the time I put into shopping for and preparing my meals, I don’t spend all that much time enjoying or appreciating them. Breakfast and lunch are almost always eaten at my desk at work, and this is a habit I’d like to change.

How do you allocate your time on an average day? Are you surprised by any of the averages published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics? Leave a comment if you took the quiz!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Favorites Continued

Continuing on the theme of “favorites,” I wanted to do a broader post on a few items that I have been loving recently. All, of course, relating to health or sustainability. Have you tried any of the five things below?

1. Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Tortillas: I have been on a big wrap/quesadilla/taco kick for the last year or so. I used to buy the standard 100% whole wheat wraps from the grocery store, but I looked at the ingredients several months ago and was surprised to see how many chemically-based ingredients and additives were in them. I went on a hunt for a healthier wrap and found these Ezekiel tortillas at Healthy Home Market. They are so much better – I wish I had found them earlier!

They are made from a combination of six grains and legumes that, when combined, create a complete source of (vegan, cholesterol-free, saturated fat-free) protein. This means they contain all nine essential amino acids. They are also organic, contain no flour or added oil, and have twelve essential vitamins and minerals. I used one in my peanut butter banana quesadilla today as an afternoon snack and felt full well until dinnertime.

2. Charlotte Yoga: I haven’t talked about exercise yet much on the blog, but I spent a lot of the last six-ish years running. Running a lot! It was my primary and sometimes only form of exercise. This spring, my knees, hips, IT bands and brain finally needed a break, so with a lot of friendly encouragement, I signed up for a yoga class at Charlotte Yoga.

 

Four months later and I have not looked back! My body feels so much better than it has in a couple of years, and I’m looking a lot more toned than I ever did running marathons. (My boyfriend even commented last weekend about seeing a six pack forming!) I was super nervous to walk into a yoga studio as a complete beginner, but the instructors at Charlotte Yoga are all really nice and understanding. I used to think yoga was a wimpy workout, but let me tell you – it’s not!

3. Frozen berry & almond milk “cereal”: This has become my go-to summer snack. I buy a ton of berries each week at the farmers market and set aside about half to freeze. Then, come the mid-afternoon or evening sweet cravings, I dump some berries into a cup or bowl and send them swimming in almond milk (I use original, unsweetened almond milk – the berries are all the sweetness you need). Stir it all around for a minute or so and let the milk get a little icy before eating. This. Is. So. Good. It’s a little bit like ice cream but way more nutritious. Try it!

4. J. T. Posh Consignment Store: Wait – don’t skip down to #5 because you saw the word consignment! This place is a find.

Several weeks ago I commented on a co-worker’s cute cropped jacket. She told me she found it and few other work outfits at consignment store off Park Road called J.T. Posh. I stopped by that weekend and was pleasantly surprised. J.T. Posh feels very much like a regular Charlotte boutique, but all of its clothes are consigned (and all are designer). The store also carries a mix of new and consigned shoes and accessories. When I went in, I saw two cute dresses and one awesome pair of shoes; I definitely would have tried them on were they in my size.

I’m sure this place is hit or miss, but even if you aren’t into wearing used clothes, you could look into selling any pieces you’re tired of here. I’ll also point out that buying used clothes not only saves you money, but saves natural resources and keeps unwanted apparel out of landfills.

5. Nike Training App: The other fitness habit I’ve picked up since my running has slowed down is strength training. I discovered the Nike Training app when I got an iPhone and have been doing several of its workouts a week. This app was developed by Nike trainers, and it offers more than 80 workouts that you can do with minimal equipment.

It’s Free!

iPhone Screen Shots

It is really user-friendly, with video demonstrations of each move and a timer to keep you on track. You can choose workouts that last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. I’ve done a few of each, and they almost always make me sore the next day (this is how you know they are effective)! If you’re new to strength training, this app provides useful, basic instructions. If you are a strength training pro, you’ll still probably pick up a few new exercises, and you can use this app for motivation when needed.

*Hopefully this list introduced you to a few new things. Let me know if you’ve tried any, or about something on your “favorites” list!

Posted in Charlotte, Favorites, Fitness, Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Favorite Foods in Charlotte

Recently I’ve had a lot of occasions to eat out in Charlotte. Between friends visiting, family in town, birthdays, Mothers Day and Fathers Day, I’ve done more restaurant hopping than usual. With out-of-town guests especially, I have been asked to recommend a restaurant or pick the place to eat, so I’ve compiled a list of my favorites to share on the blog.

In choosing where to eat or where to buy food, I prefer places that offer at least one of the three options below:

1. Organic food – As I’ve mentioned before, eating organic is often better for your health and the environment. Most conventional foods today have been exposed to some type of pesticide, herbicide, chemical or antibiotic during cultivation. I try to avoid those chemicals when possible, so I like to support restaurants that serve organic.

2. Local food – According to the documentary, Food Inc., the average meal travels 1,500 miles from where it was grown to your plate. Transporting food that far takes an incredible amount of gas, and keeping it fresh for that long takes a lot of water and energy. Produce is also at its nutritional peak right when harvested. The more time that passes between harvesting and eating produce, the more nutrition you lose. There are also tons of reasons to support locally owned farms.

3. Plant-based dishes – Meat does not need to be the center of a meal. I’ll say it again. Meat does not need to be the center of a meal. Animal products are most meat-eaters’ primary source of bad (LDL) cholesterol and saturated fat. Protein is very important, yes, but it can be found in often healthier, more sustainable plant-based forms. Conventional meat production is also bad for the planet. Did you know it takes about 1,300 gallons of water to produce one hamburger? I love restaurants that are creative enough to base dishes around something other than meat. Learn more here!

With that said, here are some of my favorite places to eat and buy food in Charlotte:

  •  Fern, Flavors From the Garden: This is an all vegetarian restaurant, located on Central Ave., that uses many locally grown ingredients and offers tons of vegan options. I love the root vegetable chips, the OM burger, the juices, and the signature cucumber water.

Fern

  • Luna’s Living Kitchen: Luna’s is a small raw, vegan, local and organic restaurant located next to Atherton Mill on South Blvd. It’s open for breakfast and lunch, and while I’ve only been for breakfast, I’ve loved everything I’ve ever ordered! I recommend the kale lemonade, the ogre smoothie, the hola granola and the parfait.

Breakfast at Luna’s

  • Harvest Moon Grille: I actually got to eat lunch here today with my friend, Stuart, and her mom, Jeannie! I recommended Harvest Moon because it was close to my office uptown, and because it is a true farm to table restaurant. All of the ingredients are local, from the wheat to make the bread to the locally farmed catfish in the fish tacos. I got the fish tacos and potato salad today and loved them both.

Stuart and Jeannie!

Harvest Moon’s Fish Tacos

  • Zada Jane’s: While famous for its breakfast, I love Zada Jane’s for dinner. My boyfriend and I like to go on Sunday nights and sit outside (all bottles of wine are half-price on Sunday nights, I believe). Zada Jane’s uses drug-free meats and local produce when available. I love the sweet potato quesadillas, the NoDa salad, and the vegetarian nachos.

Zada Jane’s NoDa Salad

  • Energy Cafe: I usually pack my lunch for work, but on days I don’t, or when I am meeting a friend, I like Energy Cafe uptown. All ingredients are whole, unprocessed, and organic when possible. I like the salad bar and the hummus sandwich with extra vegetables.

  • Healthy Home Market: This is a locally owned grocery store with a huge selection of local, all-natural, organic, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free foods, vitamins, beauty products, and household products, to name a few. I love its juice bar and its bulk bin aisle! This is where I usually go for bulk oats, chia seeds, grains, nuts, nut butters and flours.

Healthy Home Market’s Bulk Aisle

  • Earth Fare: Earth Fare is another locally owned healthy supermarket that has a great selection of local and organic products. I love Earth Fare’s bulk bins, hot foods/salad bar, juice bar and baked goods. This has a more upscale feel than Healthy Home Market, and it’s a great place to pick up a quick and healthy lunch or dinner on the go.

Earth Fare’s Fish Counter

  • Farmers Markets: Have I talked about farmers markets enough on the blog yet? I love them for so many reasons! My three favorites in the area are the Regional Farmers Market, the Center City Farmers Market (corner of Trade and Tryon on Tuesdays and Fridays), and Atherton Market.

 

So there you have it! I have several other places on my list I’d like to try soon, but these are the stores and restaurants I frequent the most these days!

**Another great tip for out-of-towners or people traveling and looking for healthy restaurants is HappyCow.Net. Search by city, and this site will produce a list of vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly restaurants and health food stores in that area. I just came across it recently, but I’m planning on using it a lot for future travels!

Posted in Charlotte, Favorites, Grocery Stores, Local, Nutrition, Restaurants, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments