Monday, July 28, 2014

{What Will Ate} Trader Joe's Edition

{image via}

I thought that the 6 month transition to pureed baby foods was fun, but true solids are a new level of excitement! Will is now eating pretty much everything that we eat and his little palate continues to grow. I continue to shop carefully for him, making sure he is getting real, whole foods and mostly organic produce and meats. Most of our grocery shopping is done at Harris Teeter, but I have a list of staples that I always buy from Trader Joe's. 

I LOVE the Trader Joe's experience. The staff is friendly, the music blasting from the overhead speakers makes me want to dance through the aisles, and I truly believe they have some of the best food marketing because I always leave that place with a few new things to try that I didn't venture in for. I also need to note that the hydrangea stems from Trader's last longer than any other! I love to pick up a fresh bunch when I pop in the store. My little shopping assistant loves riding through the aisles and makes several friends along the way. 

Here are some of Will's Trader Joe's Favorites!

{Organic Grade B Maple Syrup} A little more robust than Grade A, Grade B maple syrup is darker and has a wonderful rich flavor. I use maple syrup as a natural sweetener in my Paleo Snack Bites and sometimes drizzled on plain Greek Yogurt with fruit. Will enjoys this on his Baby's Paleo Pancakes.

{Frozen Pineapple Tidbits} A freezer staple around here! I blend this pineapple up with plain Greek Yogurt and fill Will's food pouches and stick it in smoothies for me!

{Organic Unsweetened Applesauce} Applesauce is one of the easiest baby foods to make, but I always keep a jar of the Trader Joe's brand on hand. It has one ingredient: apples! There is no added sugar or preservatives, unlike most grocery store brands. 

{Ezekial Bread} One of Will's favorite lunches is a slice of this bread, toasted, and topped with mashed avocado. This bread is made from a combination of 6 grains and legumes, and contains no flour. It has a nutty flavor and texture and we all love it. The cinnamon raisin makes a sweet breakfast treat! You can read more about this bread here

{Organic Creamy Unsalted Peanut Butter} This peanut butter is the best! At the advice of our pediatrician, we didn't wait to introduce Will to peanut butter and he just loves it! This stuff is smooth, creamy and all natural. The consistency is perfect for Will's morning pancakes and he also enjoys it for lunch on Ezekial bread. 

{Freeze Dried Fruit} My friend Elizabeth introduced me to these freeze dried fruits and Will is a huge fan! The strawberries, mango and bananas are his favorite. They are great on the go because they are dry and practically mess free. Again, no added sugars. 

{Frozen Mango Chunks} Another favorite yogurt mix-in! When I make homemade applesauce, I'll sometimes steam some mango chunks to blend in. Will also loves pieces of mango with roasted/grilled meats such as chicken and pork.

*This post is not sponsored or endorsed by Trader Joe's and the thoughts expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Green Onion + Dill Quinoa

Quinoa is a staple pantry item in our house. It's the healthier of the grains and is packed with protein which is an added bonus. I love using quinoa as a salad base. I toss it with fresh chopped vegetables and a simple vinaigrette of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh herbs. I always make extra so that I have a few days of lunches to enjoy, too. For those of you who make your own baby food, I also mix quinoa into Will's vegetable purees and he loves it!

This quick and simple quinoa dish has quickly become a Summer favorite around here. It makes a tasty side paired with grilled meat and veggies and can be made ahead to serve cold, or at room temperature. In fact, if it sits for a bit, the flavor only gets better. Fresh dill makes all the difference. A bed of this topped with a piece of cedar plank grilled Salmon would be divine. 

Green Onion + Dill Quinoa
recipe from Cooking Light

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Rinse and drain quinoa. In a heavy bottom saucepan on medium-high heat, combine water and quinoa. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until all water is absorbed and the quinoa can be fluffed with a fork. Stir in green onions and dill. 

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour over quinoa and mix together. Serve at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Charlotte Eats: Va da Vie Gelato

After a rooftop (all-American) lunch at JJ's Red Hots on the Fourth of July, Mark had the genius idea to stop for a sweet treat on the way home. Va da Vie opened about 8 weeks ago and we have been anxious to treat ourselves.  I am not a gelato professional, and am definitely not an expert, but this stuff is the real deal. During my family's 2007 trip to Italy, gelato was a daily indulgence and the gelato I enjoyed at Va da Vie was as fresh and authentic as any I had while in the Motherland. 

I had a scoop of Lemon Ricotta and Mark doubled up with Stracitella and Bacio, all of which were incredibly delicious. Will was a huge fan as well. What a good little Italian baby!

Va da Vie is locally owned, and the gelato is made from scratch daily. Best of all, the owners source local ingredients. This gem of a gelato shop is located in the Park Road Shopping Center in a small building on the edge of the large parking lot.