Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Banana Split: A Healthier Alternative

Oh my food lovin'!! For those of you who don't know, I am a serious foodie. I love food. All things food. Photos of food. Videos and documentaries about food. Learning about food. Eating food (yes! yes! and yes!). Making food. Dreaming about food. Walking through food stores. Exploring food at farmers markets. Trying new foods. Anything involving food - sign me up.

Needless to say, my intense love of food is only healthy in moderation! :) I love the sugar-filled-calorie-overloaded-fat-from-heaven-oh-my-goodness-that's-not-good-for-you food just as much as the next person. But I choose to eat more fruits, veggies, and wholesome foods that fuel my body (at least I try). The other stuff I still indulge in but in moderation. So when I'm able to create a healthy alternative to one of those delicious foods that I crave way too often, I get super excited! My taste buds don't know the difference. So indulge, I will. And I won't even feel bad about it!

So today, I give you a healthier, granola-topped version of the traditional Banana Split. We're swapping out ice cream for protein-rich Greek yogurt, and topping this bad boy with our organic-nut-filled Goin' Nuts granola, melted dark chocolate, and sprinkles. I won't make you wait a second longer!

((cue the drool!))

Banana Split: A Healthier Alternative 

1/2 banana
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
2 tbsp dark chocolate
Sprinkles, optional but highly encouraged!

1. Cut banana in half (you should have 2 quarters of a whole banana) and place in bowl.

2. Top with yogurt and Goin' Nuts granola.

3. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler over low heat. If using a microwave, warm chocolate for 5 seconds at a time, until melted. You do not want to overheat or the chocolate will become hard and dry! Drizzle over your sundae immediately (before the chocolate has a chance to harden)!!

4. Finish with the sprinkles!

5. Spoons up, mi amores! 

I hope you love it! Let me know if you give it a try. I'd love to hear how it turns out! And you can visit our ONLINE STORE to purchase our Goin' Nuts granola. When you do, you'll be giving one meal to a person in need for each bag you purchase! Thank you :)

For more about Nothin' but Nola: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

xoxo Lauren

Friday, July 25, 2014

Getting to Know Yadkin Valley Soap

I feel so honored every time I learn more about the local businesses we feature on the blog. You know those friends that are great friends? You know they're great people and enjoy spending time with them, but when you find out their story and learn even more about them ... you just grow to appreciate and respect them so much more. That's how it is with these businesses. I love what they do. I love the people that are running them. But every time we do these interviews I learn so much more about them. And I appreciate and admire what they do all the more.

The business I want to introduce to you today is yet another business I have fallen even more in love with after learning more about it. So today friends, I would like to introduce you to Allison Hutchins, soap-maker extraordinaire and owner of Yadkin Valley Soaps.

Tell us a little about you and how Yadkin Valley Soaps came to be.

I started making soaps a few years ago when my husband went vegan. It never occurred to me until that time just how much animal by-products are hiding in our everyday lives. Within a few months we had more soap than we knew what to do with. In 2012 I opened up my Etsy shop and Yadkin Valley Soaps was born.

Other than soap, what types of skincare products do you make?

We make a range of products from soaps to body butters, scrubs, and lip balms. I am constantly making and testing new formulations to add products to our line.

What makes your products unique?

All of our products are all-natural. We use natural essential oils and botanicals to scent and color our soaps and other products. We are a 100% vegan company and certified by PETA as cruelty free and vegan in their Beauty Without Bunnies campaign.

Summertime is known for drying out our skin! What are the best methods for combatting this dryness?

To keep our products as friendly as possible for everyone we have chosen to use cocoa and mango butters in all our formulations. Although Shea butter is the most known for moisturizing, both cocoa and mango butter offer superior moisturizing and are more hypoallergenic than Shea. We make a whipped mango butter that is great for dry skin. Containing only mango butter and coconut oil it is a great all over moisturizer for even the driest of skin types!

Do you have any favorite homemade skincare tips or tricks?

I always use my own soap and products. My skin has never been happier since cutting out all the chemical laden soaps and products from my daily life. However as far as a favorite, I am constantly trying new things so I don't really stick to a routine other than using my soap. If I had to choose one though I always use my Dead Sea Salt Soap to wash my face with.

Tell us about your top 3 sellers!

Our soaps are always popular but the most popular scent would be our Thai Lemongrass. Our Butter Balm Lip Balm would be next, and one of our newer products Buzz Off Lotion Bar seems to sell out at every market I do.

Where can people go to buy your product?

Local customers can purchase select products at Grandview Country Store in Pfafftown, NC, Clemmons Country Store in Clemmons, NC, and The Local Store in Reynolda Village, Winston Salem, NC. We can also be found at the Reynolda Village Farmers Market on Friday mornings and The City Market in Greensboro every third Thursday of the month. Products can also be purchased through our Etsy Store which can also be accessed through our website www.yvsoaps.com.

Just for fun, what’s your all-time favorite skincare scent?

I'm totally in love with my Tahitian Beauty soap and body butter. It's very sweet and floral due to the ylang ylang and I have to take it easy when I use it or I end up with a headache!

Find out more at Allison's Etsy Store | Facebook | and website!!

Photo credit: Yadkin Valley Soaps

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Carrot-Pineapple Granola Bread

Do you love Hummingbird Cake? If so, I have a feeling you're going to love this spin-off bread version! Rather than using banana and pineapple like the traditional Hummingbird cake, we're using carrot and pineapple! And while carrots are usually a cool-season crop, they can be found year-round in North Carolina and most other states! And pineapple - why, what better time than summer to indulge in this tangy-sweet fruit than during the hot summer months of summer?!

This bread is light and makes a delicious addition to any summer brunch or picnic. I like pairing it with my morning eggs. It also makes a nice treat during the day with a cup of green tea!

This recipe was inspired by this Granola Carrot Bread from The Tasty Kitchen, but I've made several changes to create a more healthy alternative. We're using coconut oil rather than canola oil. I've also used whole wheat flour and have cut the sugar by more than half! And I decided to add the pineapple, because why not!

Carrot-Pineapple Granola Bread

3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2/3 cup chopped pineapple
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon organic ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon organic ground nutmeg
1/3 cup Goin' Nuts granola (plus 1/4 cup for the topping)
1/4 cup shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan.

3.  Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in medium bowl. 

4. In another bowl mix together shredded carrots, pineapple juice, pineapple, sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract.

5. Combine wet ingredients with dry and mix until completely combined. Add shredded coconut and granola.

6. Spoon batter into greased pan and top with the remaining 1/4 cup of granola.

7. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

8. Let cool and serve! It's rather delicious when still warm!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Getting to know the makers of Nothin' but Nola

Hi y'all! We're Leslie and Lauren Rhew, mother-daughter duo and creators of Nothin' but Nola! We started this beautiful business venture together about 9 months ago and boy, has it been a fun (and crazy and hard and exhilarating) ride so far! We love what we're doing and stinkin' love granola ... and food, in general! But we want to be more than just another granola brand.

We want to be real. We want to be authentic. We want to be a way of life -- a way of life where you are able to do good, give back, and change the world by eating good food! There is something powerful in knowing that you're helping others by doing the things you would otherwise do on a daily basis. Like topping your morning yogurt with some granola. For us, we're not only chasing our passions but we're building careers and a company, while giving back and helping others.

We are just as much a part of our brand as our scrumptious granola is, so we thought it only fitting for you to have the chance to get know us a bit. So here goes!

Tell us your story (give us the juicy details but keep it short)! 

Leslie: Well ... I am a mother and a wife. I am married to a wonderful man and we will celebrate 30 years together this year. I have 3 beautiful children and two grand-children. I am an oncology nurse and am very passionate about oncology and cancer treatment. I have been an oncology nurse for 30 years this year. Wow, this year is a big year! I'm passionate about what I do because cancer is an illness that affects an entire family. It's very rewarding to help people through that journey. It helps me to appreciate every day.

Lauren: Hmm, I can be a little long-winded so I'm not sure I can be as concise as Mom! I was raised by two amazing parents that showed me what true love really looks like. It's not always pretty. It's not always easy. But it sure as hell is worth it! That has made me so much of who I am today. I was born and raised in the south and North Carolina is where my heart is (and probably always will be). I grew up with some of the most amazing friends a person could ask for. Some of the friends that I met during Kindergarten are to this day my very best friends. As a little girl, all I wanted to do when I grew up was become a teacher. That changed when I went to college and became fascinated with the wonderful world of business. I graduated from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and shortly after, I moved out to Colorado to follow my heart (the love of my life). Colorado has stolen a little piece of my heart. So now I'm working from afar on this beautiful business and handling all of the behind-the-scenes sort of stuff (like this blog).

What's a fun fact we should know about you?

Lauren: I have a chocolate addiction. I love chocolate. Everything chocolate. Or well, everything sugar. It's probably not a good thing!

Leslie: The first time I ever played golf it was my with father and my now-husband (we weren't married yet!) and I hit a hole-in-one on a par three!

What's the story behind Nothin' but Nola? Why did you start the business?

Leslie: I had been baking this delicious homemade granola for several years that everyone loved. I would take it to work and let the ladies try it there and share it with family. Lauren and I have both always been very passionate about food. We love cooking together at holidays and celebrations. So when she was exploring opportunities and looking for a new career, I told her to market my granola. And she said, "well help me!". That was when the business was born.

Lauren: Yeah, pretty much! Mom was making this amazing granola and for awhile it was just another great recipe she made (there are a lot ... like her Chocolate Lovers' Pie!). Then everyone started telling her she should sell it. She'd been telling me for about a year that I should market and sell the granola. It took about a year of convincing and me hopping around trying to find "the right job" before I finally took her up on the offer. For years I've known I wanted to start my own business one day. I just didn't know what that was. I also have an insane love of food -- everything food! So I knew that I wanted to work in the food industry. Last August, I was leaving my job to start working in the food industry and trying to gain some experience. It was about that time that Mom once again pitched the idea of me marketing her granola. The rest is history!

Aside from making granola, what are you good at? Got any talents?

Leslie: Hmm.. I'm a good swimmer. I can do a mean butterfly stroke! That's where my biceps come from! I like to think that I can sing :) And I've recently learned to knit and just finished my first prayer shawl!

Lauren: I don't know that I have any of your "normal" talents (what's normal anyways?!) like singing, painting, sports, etc. I'm good at cooking ... well I at least like to cook. I love experimenting and trying out new, random recipes. I'm also pretty good at talking. I probably talk a little too much sometimes! Oh, and I'm good at being loud. I can be very loud if needed! :)

Who does all of the baking?

Lauren: Mom does!

Leslie: Yes, I do the baking! It's my quiet time to recharge. I love smelling the delicious cinnamon and vanilla from the granola while listening to K-LOVE.


If you could travel to one country you haven't been to before, where would it be and why?

Leslie: I think it would be Australia. It seems like a very interesting country with beautiful beaches, The Great Barrier Reef and all of the animals. I've just always wanted to go there!

Lauren: Italy, for sure. It is such a beautiful country with so much to explore, but truly I want to eat and drink non-stop. The food and the wine. That's all I want. I would be happy spending my days on the patio of various restaurants eating, eating, and eating with a glass of wine. And learning Italian! Oh, and biking the countryside too. And a few visits to the Italian beaches would be nice! I think I would need a month to do it all!

What's your favorite southern dish?

Leslie: This is a tough one. I have lots! Mama Rhew, my mother-in-law, was a great southern cook. She made the best potato salad in the world and the best biscuits and gravy. My mother loved to make casseroles. She made delicious squash casseroles and other vegetable casseroles. I also love homemade ice cream!

Lauren: Oh, good ol' southern food. It's a blessing and curse. It's delicious and it fills your soul but it usually expands the waistline too! I have to say I love biscuits and gravy. My fondest memories as a child are waking up at my grand-parents house and smelling bacon, eggs, and biscuits and gravy. My grand-mother did indeed make the best! Now my Dad makes them and it feels like she's right there in the kitchen! We only eat them for special occasions now, though! Maybe once a year! I also love chicken fingers. Love them. My heart is sad that there aren't any great chicken places in Colorado like there are back home. Sweet tea has my heart, too!

What's the story behind the name (NBN)?

Leslie: When I was baking the granola for family and friends I would take some to my grand-daughter, Lilah, when I would visit. She was 18 months old at the time and just learning to talk. So she called it "nola". I started referring to it as "Nana's Nola"(my grand-children call me Nana). So when we first decided to start selling the granola we wanted to name it "Nola" but when we did research that name was already taken.

Lauren: So we had to get creative. The granola was already "Nola" to us. We'd been calling it that for quite a while. So we played around with various names using the world nola and decided on "Nothin' but Nola". We think it's pretty catchy!

Your mission is to change the world, one bag at a time. What does this mean and why is it so important to you?

Lauren: For every bag we sell, we donate on healthy, nutritious meal to a person in need. To me this means that anyone can change the world, which is exactly what we believe. When YOU buy one bag of our granola, YOU're helping us to give a meal to someone who would otherwise go without. You're changing their day and you're changing their life. This is how we can change the world, one small step at a time. Our mission is of utmost importance to me. Without it, I wouldn't feel the same about selling our granola. I don't think there is any reason why we shouldn't be building this one-for-one model for ourselves. You need food. You like granola. Why not buy a bag that gives a meal to someone else who needs food but has a much more difficult time getting it. We live in a world of excess. How much food does your family throw away every week? Probably too much. Me too. If we're throwing away perfectly good food day after day, no one should be going without. So when we have the opportunity (and ability) to give to those who are less fortunate than us, I think we must.

 Leslie: I became passionate about hunger in this country when a gentleman spoke at church. He talked about volunteering at the kids' cafe at the Second Harvest Food Bank (where Nothin' but Nola donates). He told a story about a young boy who came in one day very irritable. The gentleman spoke with the young boy to find out what was wrong. The little boy eventually told him he was hungry because at home "it wasn't his turn to eat that meal" so he hadn't eaten yet that day. In this country no one should go to bed hungry. There is bountiful food everywhere. We are a country of excess. We throw away and waste too much.

Hope you enjoyed getting to know us! We would love to get to know you! So comment below and tell us a little bit about you! And if you would like to learn more about our daily shenanigans you can follow along below:

Lauren's Instagram
Lauren's Twitter
NBN's Facebook
NBN's Instagram
NBN's Twitter

Friday, July 11, 2014

Getting to know Musten and Crutchfield

Our granola is sold in lots of very unique, local stores. I am absolutely honored that these amazing folks find our granola valuable enough and believe in our mission strongly enough to put it on their shelves. When I find out their stories, I am all the more honored.

So, I am thrilled to share with you the story of a quaint store that first opened in the 1930's and has stood the test of time. Today, they still provide the locals (near and far) with delicious, local food you can't find anywhere else! Trust me, once you read you'll be dying to stop by the store (and try their award-winning pimento cheese)! Ladies and gents, please meet John Crutchfield, owner of Musten and Crutchfield Food Market in Kernersville, NC.

Tell us a little about you and the story of Musten & Crutchfield Food Market.

April 11, 1938, my grand-father and great-grandfather opened Musten & Crutchfield Food Market. The business was founded on Main Street in Kernersville, NC and we have always been on N. Main street. Along with their weekly groceries, our customers were able to purchase my great-grandmother’s pimento cheese and chicken salad. We still make both of her recipes as well as other family recipes. 

In the ‘30’s there were no box stores, only local independent shop owners. As box stores started popping up, we had to change our business model. Instead of being one of two grocery stores, we became one of seven stores. The other six stores were box stores and had their own warehouse for their products. We could not compete with their buying power so we became the place for quality meats and local items. We carry things that you typically will not find in box stores.

We’ve heard all about your award-winning pimento cheese! So tell us, what’s special about yours? Is it a family recipe?

Our pimento cheese is special for many reasons. Remember, this is my Great-Grandmother’s recipe. Times were a lot different in the 30’s than now and she created the recipe using simple process’ and procedures and of course lots of love. So, yes, it is a family recipe and I believe it is the simplicity that makes it special. We make it as close to the way she made it as possible.

What are some great ways to eat pimento cheese? Do you have any recipes for summer cook-outs and get-togethers?

We are constantly experimenting. We have added it to potato salad and threw in some bacon and you have an awesome loaded potato salad. My favorite way to eat pimento cheese is grilled with local butter on sour dough bread….. Let’s just say you will want more than one! Pimento Cheese is the perfect condiment for cookouts. Hotdogs and hamburgers are incredible when you add pimento cheese. I have tried it on grilled corn on the cobb, baked potatoes and macaroni & cheese. Like I said, we are constantly experimenting. We are adding recipes to our website and have lots of other ideas that haven’t’ quite made it to the website yet. The website is www.mustenandcrutchfield.com

We talk a lot about shopping local. Why should a customer shop at a local food market like yours rather than a big box retailer?

There are so many reasons, where do I begin. I guess the first and most important reason is that when someone shops in our store, the money goes back into the community. We live here, we shop here and we play here. Shopping local helps the community thrive. When you shop at big box stores, chances are the money is going to help another community thrive. Another reason is that local business’ have flexibility to do things that big box stores don’t. A couple of years ago, I was approached by a news station during the Thanksgiving season to do a quick story on last minute shoppers. They choose our store because they wouldn’t have to go through all the paperwork from a box store. Independent stores can make decisions on the spot. Decisions like, what products to carry, which charities to support and we have the flexibility to put things on sale without having to go through a series of approvals.

Everyone loves good southern comfort food. What’s all the fuss about?

Comfort food. It’s what you know. It’s something that brings back a special memory of mom or dad in the kitchen making something you love for you because you love it. It’s the memory that it brings back, it's nothing complicated. Just something to make you feel good, to bring you up when you are down.

For those who may not have visited before, what are some of the great things to do when visiting Kernersville and the great state of North Carolina?

Well naturally the first thing that anyone should do when they visit North Carolina or Kernersville is to stop by Musten & Crutchfield! Taste what all the fuss is about. Outside of visiting us, Kernersville is home to the World’s most unusual home, Kerners Folly. This is another must see. Kernersville has a Botanical Garden and our First President paid our town a visit. Yes, George Washington stayed at Dobson’s Tavern, actually before Kernersville was founded. North Carolina has some interesting things to do as well. I am more of a fan of history so the U.S.S. North Carolina is something I would recommend. This is a WWII Battleship turned into a museum - located in Wilmington. Raleigh houses several museums that are pretty impressive and depending on what time of year, the Carolina Hurricanes Hockey team may have a game. Winston-Salem is home to one of the country’s best art schools, The NC School of Arts. There are Broadway caliber performances at the Stevens Center. Western North Carolina has some of the most breath-taking views. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a huge tourist attraction when the leaves begin to change. Asheville is home to the largest home in the United States, built by railroad tycoon George Washington Vanderbilt II.

Just for fun, what’s the craziest way you’ve ever tried to eat pimento cheese? Or the craziest flavor you’ve made?

We really haven’t tried too many “crazy” flavors BUT we have had customers tell us to try it with and on some pretty interesting things. Nacho flavor Doritos, talk about a cheese overload, wow. We have one customer that puts it on crème horns and lemon bars….. He swears it is good and not to knock it till you try it. I would have to say that is the craziest that I have heard about so far. I am certain that it will not be long before someone tops that.

To learn more about Musten and Crutchfield, visit their Facebook Page or their website.

Credit for images | Musten and Crutchfield 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fourth of July Yogurt and Granola Trifle

If you love a good celebration, there is nothing better than celebrating our independence and great, wonderful nation! Especially when you gather around with friends and family to enjoy delicious food and beautiful fireworks. Happy (early) Fourth of July, y'all!

This is a great festive red, white, and blue recipe. It's also a great way to eat your morning yogurt and granola with fruit. Just layer everything in a beautiful trifle dish and feel like a king or queen! It will make eating that much more fun!

What you'll need:

5.3oz Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt
1c chopped fresh strawberries
1c fresh blueberries
1c granola + a little extra to sprinkle on top

*This makes two servings. If you're making a large trifle to share with a crowd, just multiply all ingredients accordingly.

To assemble:

1. Wash fruit and cut strawberries in half.

2. Now it's time to layer! Cover the bottom of your dish with half of the strawberries. Top with half of the granola and half of the yogurt. Then add a layer of half of the blueberries. (In case you're wondering .. it's HALF! We're making 2 layers) Top with the the other 1/2 cup of granola and the remaining yogurt.

3. I like to save several extra strawberries and blueberries to add to the top with a sprinkle of granola.


In case you haven't yet, you should check out our Pinterest page for more yummy recipes!