Chopped Kale Salad with Tumeric Basil Vinaigrette & My Much Needed Metamorphosis 

 
I’ll preface this post by saying that if you’re only here for the totally amazing kale salad recipe, go ahead a skip down the page. I won’t be offended. I promise.

For the rest of you, if you don’t remember me, let me reintroduce myself. I’m Jenna. I garden, I cook, I eat, I own a business, and I write about all of it. I’ve been away from blogging for a bit because I’ve been reevaluating things. I’ve decided to quit my job in academia to pursue my business, Happy-Go-Lucky Foods, full-time, we’ve moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina, and I’ve been eating a gluten-free and dairy-free diet. Because of some “lady issues,” my acupuncturist, Doctor of Oriental Medicine, and friend (all the same person) advised me to change my diet (on top of the Chinese herbs I take daily). It’s been about six months and I’m feeling great. My primarily vegan diet has helped me so much, and I wanted to learn to cook all over again. So here I am. I’m back. I’m different, but I’m back. It’s nice to see you. 
I may be a little rusty at this whole food blogging thing, but here goes…

I’ve been eating tons and tons of fresh produce. From squash to tomatoes to beans, corn, grapes, and kale, I’ve been a total veggie glutton. And living in the Asheville area, I’m so fortunate to have it all at my fingertips. Organic, fresh, local produce perfection is all here, and I couldn’t be more excited. Sometimes, I get a little overzealous, though, and buy more than I can chew. This is totally fine, though, because I get to be extra creative. An overstocked fridge with a spectrum of veggies (some cooked) and an unbridled sense of kitchen adventure led me to my new favorite salad. Are you ready?

For this healthy monster, you’ll need:

  • A couple handfuls of kale, chopped into small pieces 
  • Palmful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Small but of purple onion, diced
  • A few fresh green beans of any variety, cut in small bits
  • Corn, cooked and cut from the cob, about two tablespoons
  • A smidgen of fresh or pickled jalapeños (add as much as you like if you’re brave)
  • Several chunks of roasted and cubed sweet potato (I roasted these babies for soup, but couldn’t help myself)
  • Two tablespoons of the dressing that follows
  • Mixed nuts for a crunchy garnish

  
For the dressing, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plain rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Several grinds fresh black pepper
  • Pinch dried basil
  1. Place all ingredients in a ball jar and shake like crazy. If you don’t have ball jars falling out of every cabinet like I do, use whatever you have. That’s all there is to it. The turmeric gives the dressing the most gorgeous color and the smell is to die for.

  
Now for the fun part, toss the salad with the dressing, and eat. You’ll have plenty of dressing leftover, but you won’t be able to keep your paws off it. It’s good. It’s really good. 

Kale and turmeric and super foods, and the rest isn’t so shabby either. Food like this makes me forget that I’m eating vegan. I don’t want for anything.

Happy and healthy munching, my friends. I’ll talk to you soon.

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Oh. My. Goodness. It’s For Realsies.

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I bake and bake and bake.

My dream is coming true. It’s really happening. Happy-Go-Lucky Foods is a full-fledged business with steady-ish income, a website, local retailers, and a cult following. Seriously, someone inked themselves with the hot pink flamingo logo. I’m so tired of pinching myself and rubbing my eyes. This is real.

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This is an ACTUAL tattoo of the Happy-Go-Lucky Foods’ logo.

The last 14 months have been wild. I’ve been excited, paranoid, giddy, exhausted, confused, and optimistic. Sometimes they all happen simultaneously. Happy-Go-Lucky Foods’ granola bars are at four locations in Volusia County: Downtown Farmers Market, Beeatroot Juice Bar in Downtown Deland, Yoga Circle and Dance in Holly Hill, and Daytona International Wellness Center in Daytona Beach.

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Our sign is out front at Beeatroot!

And, hopefully, a local grocery store will have our granola bars on the shelf within the month. But the best thing for me is when customers post about their recent shipment of goodies.

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This package made it all the way to Chicago!

Thank you all for following along with me on my journey. Blogging is an outlet that I’ll never take for granted, and you all have been so kind. I do hope to post more in the future, but there aren’t enough hours in the day for a full-time job in academia plus Happy-Go-Lucky Foods. One day, I’ll just get to be Happy-Go-Lucky all the time, but for now…

Back to work,

Jenna

P.S. Please do check out my website at happygoluckyfoods.com. You can get the yummiest, gluten-free, vegan granola bars right to your door! If anything, I’d just be thrilled for some honest feedback. 🙂

Introspection, Food-trepreneurship, and Being Happy-Go-Lucky

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Hi, friends, I’ve missed you. It’s been quite some time (well, two weeks, actually, but it feels like a million years)…

As some of you might remember from my “The Long and Winding Road: Saying Goodbye to Cottage Law” post from the Spring, I’m doing my best to make it as a food-trepreneur. Happy-Go-Lucky Foods (formerly Happy-Go-Lucky Granola and, before that, formerly nameless) has gone from zero to sixty in seven months, and I’m taking a moment to catch my breath and write about my experience thus far. I’ll begin by saying that I never thought I’d make it this far. I really didn’t. I wanted to, but was wanting to enough?

Desire only can take a person so far; having a plan (not necessarily in the full-on business 101 sense of the word) is uber-important. Being aimless and being successful in business don’t correlate well. I told my new friend, Amanda, of Amanda’s Amigos this when we spoke last week. I’m sure I was more eloquent then, but…

I met Amanda at my farmers market booth a few months back. She bought a few Apricot Ginger granola bars, we chatted for a moment, and she was off. A few weeks later, I was tickled to be included in her Daytona Beach is Vegan Friendly post. Amanda was on vacation from Alaska! A-L-A-S-K-A. How cool (no pun, I promise.).

A couple of weeks ago, she emailed me and asked if I’d have some time to chat; she wanted to know how to start her own vegan-based business. And, so, while chatting, laughing, and experiencing the joy of cross-country internet-related issues, I had the chance to reflect. Sometimes, when life is so busy, we forget to look inward. Amanda’s thoughtful inquiry encouraged the introspection I so desperately needed. From our chat, I learned the following:

Have a plan, but know that it’s OK to deviate from it.

Being too rigid can hinder you from following your intuition. If you know something’s not right or could be better, allow yourself to re-envision your path. Be flexible.

Any feedback is good feedback.

Listen not only to yourself, but those around you. Feedback is important; take advantage of it. You don’t have to jump at every suggestion you hear, but allow yourself the liberty to explore feasible options. When a regular customer tells you that she has to repackage her granola bars as soon as she gets home from the market because the moisture leaches out onto the kraft paper bag that they’re packed in, get different bags! And feel free to thank the honest individual who cared enough to share her thoughts with you. Everybody likes to know they’re being heard.

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Acknowledge mistakes, learn from them, and move forward.

If I never admitted that I bought cellophane bags that were too small for granola clusters, I’d still be spending double-time cramming too much product into too small of a package. My boyfriend said they were too small, and, while I absolutely didn’t want to admit he was right, I did. I now buy bigger bags. It’s OK for him to win once in a while.

Don’t buy whims in bulk.

While a great deal on organic dried Zante currants in bulk might seem too good to pass up, consider if you really need them or not. Case in point: I gave tons of currants to my neighbor.

Don’t go into unnecessary debt.

My financial goal was to let Happy-Go-Lucky Foods pay for itself as it grew. I knew that I’d have to pay for testing, licensing, permitting, equipment, etc. as I moved forward with adding hummus to our product line, but I let the sales from selling granola under Cottage Law pay for the expansion. While hummus was always the plan, being patient prevented me from taking out loans. It was the best decision I could have made.

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Be grateful for every customer, no matter how much they buy.

It still amazes me that people shell out real dollars for the hummus and granola that we make. They work hard to earn money and choose to spend some of it with Happy-Go-Lucky Foods. I smile every single time I think of it. I’m ever-so-grateful. Whether someone spends one dollar or fifty, I know they don’t have to spend any at all. Never take any customer for granted.

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Be consistent.

McDonalds is so popular, in part, because they are consistent. The fries taste the same from coast to coast and even across continents. People love consistency. If you’ve got a slew of people who love your banana walnut bread just as it is, don’t add nutmeg. We all know what happened to New Coke.

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Enjoy the ride.

Enjoy every moment of being an entrepreneur. It takes guts to go out on a limb and do your own thing. Breathe it in. Know that you’re courageous. Believe that you can do it. And don’t forget to smile.

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Thanks for seeing this post through to the end, my friends.

Until next time,

Jenna

P.S. Thanks, Amanda, for encouraging me to look inward. Good luck on your adventure.

 

 

Fresh Jalapeños: We can pickle that!

I’ve never looked at a basket of garden-fresh organic jalapeños and thought “Mmmm…I’d love to gnaw on those!” So when I was gifted with some uber-spicy jalapeños from my friend at the farmers market, there was only one option: pickling. These are great for perking up a sandwich, sprinkling on nachos, or serving on top of a steaming bowl of chili.

This is such a simple process as this isn’t a proper canning. But it’s great and so very quick!

You’ll need:

  • 1 pound fresh jalapeño peppers
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled

Cut one pound of fresh, washed jalapeños in rings.

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Soak the rings in a bowl of cold water. Swish around with a long-handled utensil every now and then as this will help some of the seeds fall to the bottom. Please don’t do this with your hands and then touch your eyes! Gently scoop out the pepper rings without getting the seeds that have fallen to the bottom and transfer to another vessel.

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In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the water, vinegar, garlic cloves, salt, and sugar together and bring to a boil. Add the drained jalapeños to the pot.

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Cover with a lid and let sit for 15 minutes off the heat.

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Transfer to your favorite jar and keep in the refrigerator. They’ll last for quite some time even though they’re not properly canned.

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The Long and Winding Road: Saying Goodbye to Cottage Law

Entrepreneurship: I don’t think that there’s another place where uncertainty and confidence meet with such gusto. I never understood how my father has been both an uber successful business owner for so long while being someone who’s able to sleep at night. Being responsible for everything is scary. I know that. But I’m doing it anyway.

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Moving Happy-Go-Lucky Granola from a steady Cottage Law business to one that’s fully licenced and able to distribute has been a bumpy road. I’ve learned more than I ever expected, but, then again, I never expected to find such success doing just one farmer’s market a week. I’ve been the “granola girl” at the Downtown Farmer’s Market in Daytona Beach for just four months.

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Starting the business was a whim, a moment to try something new, and I wasn’t sure that it would end up well. But, much to my surprise, it has. Happy-Go-Lucky Granola has oodles of regular weekly customers that come for their favorite flavors, unique seasonal flavors that draw market-goers to the stand, and a colorful chalkboard that allows customers to 86 any flavor that they purchase the last of. I sell out most weeks.

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At first, our baking process was clunky. We purchased the organic ingredients in small quantities from our local health food store, Love Whole Foods. We always had to run to the store; we were always short of something; we always forgot to get this or that. Now, we purchase in eco-friendly bulk, we inventory weekly, and even make bi-monthly trips to Costco for certain items we can’t get in bulk at Love’s.

My boyfriend and I have honed our prep and baking process to the point that our kitchen is like a well-choreographed musical complete with singing, dancing, and theatrics. We know our parts, communicate well, and sway to the sound of our favorite tunes. Heat, mix, fold, line, bake, rotate, cool, cut, store…it’s the rhythm of our lives most evenings of the week.

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And now it’s time to grow. I’ve been studying the Food Safety Management Principles guide in preparation for the exam, and I’m anxious.

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I want to do well. I want to pass, get my commissary inspected, figure out how to make granola on a larger scale, and distribute (*fingers crossed*) to stores and cafes. I want, more than anything, to see Happy-Go-Lucky Granola become a smashing success – and not just at the farmers market.

Wish me luck, friends, as I travel along this bumpy road. Send Happy-Go-Lucky thoughts my way as I bake, sell, and repeat.

Until next time,

Jenna

My Secret Life as a Granola Pusher

Happy Fiesta Friday, everyone! My name is Jenna, I own Happy-Go-Lucky Granola, and my Fridays are crazy. For the past two months, I’ve baked lots and lots of vegan and organic granola products for the City Island Farmer’s Market in Downtown Daytona Beach, Florida. Happy-Go-Lucky Granola is my pride and joy. It’s also a source of near exhaustion, but, friends, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s my hectic, yet amazing, reality.

These are my granola bars…

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This was my first day at the market (and things have changed a lot since then)…

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These are my friends that come to buy, nosh, and chat…

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This is my happy-go-lucky life.

Happy Fiesta Friday, friends,

Jenna

Protein-Rich and Veggie Laden Breakfast Quesadillas

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There’s nothing that I can’t and won’t slap between two tortilla shells, and breakfast is certainly no exception. This morning I got a little crazy with some local eggs, purple bell peppers, red onion, yellow extra sharp Vermont cheddar, yellow sharp cheddar, and chicken apple sausage. To channel my inner Guy Fieri, I bought a one way ticket to Flavortown.

NOTE: If you’re vegetarian, gluten-free, or dairy-free, I’ll give some ways for you to adapt this to your dietary needs at the end of the post. 🙂

First thing’s first. Sautee the peppers and onions in a bit of canola oil until they’re translucent. Medium heat for 3-4 minutes should do the trick. Transfer to a plate.

Next soft scramble some eggs. To do this, beat them with a bit of milk and, using the same pan the veggies were in, add a smidge of butter, let it melt, and add the egg mixture. Moving them around the pan every 30 seconds or so, just cook them until they’re barely done. Runny is good. Salt and pepper them while they’re cooking. Transfer them to the same plate the veggies are on. Make neat little piles of your cooked goodies.

Finally, slice and sauté the chicken sausage. I really like the depth of flavor that comes with caramelization. This is a crucial step. As with the ingredients before, add these to the plate of goodies.

Now wipe out your pan. Add a bit more butter, and place one tortilla in the pan. Make sure the heat is on low-medium. Layer by layer, add some cheese, egg, veggies, chicken sausage, and more cheese.

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Cover with the other tortilla. Wait about two minutes, and check the underneath. It should be nice and golden brown. If so, carefully flip it over.

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Cook for another two minutes, transfer to a plate, and cut into triangles. I use a pizza wheel for this.

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Now all that’s left to do is grab your favorite hot sauce and chow down. Happy eating, everyone!

And, as promised, here’s some substitutions or omissions for my friends with dietary needs:

  • For my vegetarian friends, just leave out the chicken sausage or sub your favorite veggie one. Veggie bacon would also be yummy.
  • For my gluten-free friends, just swap corn tortillas for the flour ones. Also, the Al Fresco apple maple sausages are gluten-free, so you’re fine with those.
  • For my dairy-free friends, just use Daiya cheese, omit the milk in the eggs, and use Earth Balance spread instead of butter.

Straight from the City Island Farmer’s Market: Purple Bell Peppers

Yesterday, I scored big time at my local City Island (in Daytona Beach, Florida) Farmer’s Market. I found the most gorgeous, locally-grown purple bell peppers. I got 5 for $2! I used them in a garbanzo and black bean salad that I’ll be posting about later today, but I really thought that these beauties deserved a post all their own. Yummy.

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Nothing Beats Local, Farm-Raised, Low Carbon Footprint, Free-Range Eggs

There’s something about real eggs. Eggs can be truly glorious. And when I say eggs, I’m not talking about the slimy junk in containers or the thin-shelled, vitamin-deficient yellow blobs that come from conventional chicken farms hundreds of miles away. I mean EGGS…the kind that still have a bit of dirt on their shells, the ones that don’t look like they’ve been photoshopped to shiny white perfection, and the kind that come from a person you might even know. I got these yesterday at my farmers market.

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Local eggs are becoming more en vogue, and it’s a great time to start appreciating their many benefits. They taste better, are better quality, they carry a much lower carbon footprint, and they’ve got more of the good stuff we want (vitamins E and A, Omega 3, beta carotene) and less of the bad stuff we don’t (cholesterol and saturated fat). Many people are hesitant to purchase local eggs because of the higher price tag these eggs carry. But buying better quality food, like local eggs, will save money in the long run because they’re better for you. If that’s not enough for you, then think about the higher quality of life the chickens have. I swear I can taste the happy! Look at the orangey color of these yolks!

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I know the run-of-the-mill stuff from your grocery store might cost a bit less, but don’t let fifty cents make your decision. And, please don’t tell me you can’t get them. If I can get them in Daytona Beach, then I’m confident that you can find them in your town. And if you can’t, I’ll be glad to help. I’m serious.

Furthermore, local food, eggs, veggies, etc. is better for our Earth. Here’s the carbon footprint comparison between a dozen local and a dozen store-bought eggs (you can go to CleanMetrics to do this on your own, too):

Eggs from 25 miles away: 0.02 Kg of CO2e
Eggs from 1,164 miles away: 0.12 Kg of CO2e

Essentially, there’s a 600% increase in carbon emissions from transport. No bueno.

Quality food is an investment in yourself. Not only does it make better tasting dishes, but it makes you feel better, too. Local food is an investment in your local community, literally. It puts a human face on where your food comes from and keeps your dollars where they will do the most good for you, in the places of your daily life.

I strongly encourage you to seek out the growers and farmers in your neighborhood while making a meaningful investment in your future self.