Earth Fare: Food with Philosophy

Although I love to shop at farmers markets on Saturday mornings, it is impossible to get everything I need in this one place. It is my mission to purchase as much of my produce, meats, and cheese from local sources as possible. My belief in #EatLocal is strong, but I am not anti-grocery store. There is a middle ground, and honestly, for me it boils down to options. Stores with a buy local or sustainable mission are my first choice. Unfortunately, the list of stores with this business practice is quite short. One of my favorites is Earth Fare. This is usually the first stop on our way in to Asheville, NC. We can load up on snacks, local produce, and drinks for our stay.

Organic, local, and regional produce are some of the options at Earth Fare.

Organic, local, and regional produce are some of the options at Earth Fare.

I was excited to hear that one would be opening much closer to home in Park West Village. Earth Fare began in Asheville, NC in 1975…I was surprised it has been around that long! Originally a restaurant called Dinner For the Earth, the owners soon branched out into a market format with local products and produce as their focus. What most impressed me about Earth Fare is their Food Philosophy. The products they carry contain:

NO High-Fructose Corn Syrup

NO artificial fats or artificial trans fats

NO artificial colors

NO artificial flavors

NO artificial preservatives

NO artificial sweeteners

NO antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones in our fresh meat or dairy

NO bleached or bromated flour

The bulk section has a large variety of grains, beans, flours, nuts, and more.

The bulk section has a large variety of grains, beans, flours, nuts, and more.

This sign denotes items that are sourced locally.  Mapleview Farms milk is in the dairy case at Earth Fare.

This sign denotes items that are sourced locally. Mapleview Farm milk is in the dairy case at Earth Fare.

On a recent behind the scenes tour of their newest store in Cary, they shared that this philosophy means that they read the labels so the consumer doesn’t have to. They also work with local producers to bring in produce within a 100-mile radius of the store. You’ll also see products that are local to one of their over 35 stores but offered in all stores—this is a great way to help local businesses grow regionally! Signs point the way to conventional and organic produce, locally sourced items, and gluten-free options in every section.   They have a wellness area, a bakery, a nitrate-free deli, a café and a juice/smoothie bar.   It is truly one stop shopping you can feel good about.  Check out the Earth Fare website for ways you can save at Earth Fare. They even have an app and will text coupons to your smartphone.  Their goal is to reduce paper waste while still saving you money.

Earth Fare support local NC breweries, too.  Glad to see Fullsteam Brewery or Durham represented!

Earth Fare supports local NC breweries, too. Glad to see Fullsteam Brewery of Durham represented!

Nearly every aisle has a gluten-free section.  In between those signs, customers will find gluten-free options.

Nearly every aisle has a gluten-free section. In between those signs, customers will find gluten-free options.

These soaps are one example of an item that is local to one of the over 35 stores.  It is carried in other stores as part of the Earth Fare family products.

These soaps by Biggs and Featherbelle are one example of an item that is local to one of the over 35 stores. It is carried in other stores as part of the Earth Fare family products.

The best way to experience what Earth Fare offers is to visit their newest NC location in Cary—and what better way do it than with a $50.00 gift card! I am giving away a $50.00 gift card to one lucky reader. Enter for a chance to win below by leaving a comment below with your email address.  Winner will be drawn at random on April 27th and contacted via email.  Good luck!!

Thanksgiving Dessert: Gluten Free Spiced Acorn Squash Bars

It is tough to eat locally in the winter.  Squash, greens, root vegetables, and sweet potatoes–that about sums up the winter harvest that starts in November and takes us into early March. It’s a long time to eat the same thing over and over again.  Being creative is the key to embracing the limited choices at the winter farmers markets. So, let’s talk squash.

Acorn squash has a similar taste, texture, and sweetness to pumpkin, so why not use it for desserts? It will be around long after the pumpkins are gone from the market tables.  If the urge hits you to bake more pumpkin bread in January, you don’t have to turn to the canned stuff.  You can use acorn squash or butternut, too.  As for for the gluten, I am not a gluten-free eater.  I love bread.  I love pastries.  I love pasta.  I am thankful that I can eat these things without issue. I know many people who cannot.  Eating gluten is harmful to them.  Gluten-free is more than a fad or a choice.  For many people, it is a health issue.  I have had some amazing gluten-free pastries and cookies.  I am still learning how to adapt recipes to make them without wheat flour.  I have found that almond meal or almond flour works well for more dense cakes like these bars.

My family had no idea these were gluten-free when they devoured the first batch.  I’d call that a success!

Gluten Free Spiced Acorn Squash Bars with Mascarpone Cream

  • ½ c. acorn squash puree
  • ½ c, brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almond flour or meal
  • ¼ c. arrowroot powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. Place dry ingredients: almond flour, arrowroot, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl. Using a whisk, combine thoroughly.
  3. In another bowl, combine squash puree, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to incorporate.
  5. Line an 8×8-baking pan with parchment paper. Pour batter into the pan and spread evenly.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until springs back when lightly touched.
  7. Cool on a rack.  When completely cooled, cut into squares.

For the Mascarpone Cream:

  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 3-4 tbs. powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Place ingredients in a chilled mixing bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Spoon into a piping bag with a star tip.  Pipe on to each bar.  Grate a little nutmeg or sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon over the top and serve!

IMG_7258 IMG_7264

bgd14_square_800x800

Thanksgiving is all about family, friends and delicious food. Luckily, the food blogging community is all about these things as well. To celebrate the holiday, Meghan from Cake ‘n’ Knife and Susannah from Feast + West are hosting Blogsgiving Dinner. There are 20 awesome blogs sharing 52 recipes

The idea is based on the old-fashioned progressive dinner party, in which you’d eat each course at a different guest’s home. Each blogger is bringing one or more dishes to the party on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week, so be sure to stop by each one and get some ideas for your own Thanksgiving meal.  Today’s bloggers have recipes for dessert and after-dinner drinks, as well as ideas for eating leftovers.

We’ll be posting to social media with the hashtag #blogsgivingdinner. Hope you can join us!

Blogsgiving Progressive Dinner Menu

Friday, Nov. 14

Dessert

Grandma’s Pecan Pie from The Wetherills Say I Do

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting from My Cooking Spot

Gluten-Free Apple Berry Crumble from Twin Stripe

Paleo Pumpkin Pudding from Wit Wisdom Food

Cranberry Almond Coconut Bars from Love & Flour

Torched Marshmallow Pumpkin Pie with Olive & Sinclair Chocolate from The Local Forkful

Poached Pears with Salted Maple Caramel Syrup from Home at Six

Sweet Potato Pie from Think Fruitful

Nutella Pumpkin S’mores Tart from bethcakes

Gluten-Free Acorn Squash Spice Bars from I Cook. I Eat. It’s Life.

Drunken Pecan Pie Bars from The Speckled Palate

After-Dinner Drinks

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Cider from A Savory Feast

Cranberry Bourbon Granita from Feast + West

Leftovers

Cheesy Potato Croquettes from Hello Little Home

Leftover Stuffed Egg Rolls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce from Cake ‘n’ Knife

Freezer-Friendly Turkey and Rice Casserole from Betty Becca

Turkey and Cranberry Quesadilla from Glamour Girl Gourmet

Stuffed Crescents with Thanksgiving Leftovers from My Cooking Spot