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What Every Picnic Basket Needs

What Every Picnic Basket Needs

Spring has sprung and we’re enjoying warm weather and vibrant greenery all over Birmingham. Why not celebrate with a picnic? Kids and pets alike will love the freedom to run and play, while adults can catch up on sunshine and their friends’ lives. In honor of National Picnic Day, here are Market Table‘s picks for what every picnic basket needs.

Text By Annika Bastian

Large group of friends with food.

The Food

The kind of food you pack in your basket depends upon the time of your picnic outing. Is it a brunch picnic? (Yes, those exist, and they are just as awesome as they sound.) Is it a lunch picnic? An afternoon snack picnic? Picnics early in the day can feature inventive brunch options, like our scrumptious Spinach, Artichoke and Goat Cheese Frittata or an eggs-cellent sandwich tray.

If your outing falls around lunch, provide hearty deli style options, like White BBQ Chicken or Beef Brisket Sliders. Or, if you’re serving guests with wildly different tastes, check out our Light Lunchboxes. From Cilantro Lime Chicken to our Zesty Quinoa Salad, you’re sure to find healthy options to keep your whole picnic party happy.

And if you’re picnicking between meals, go for fun snack options — both sweet and savory. For larger picnics, invite everyone to bring one of their favorite snacks to make a potluck fun-in-the-sun picnic at the park.

Water bottles in cooler.

The Accessories

There are a few things every picnic basket needs, but they may not be the first things on your mind. First, don’t forget to bring trash bags. You’ll want the leave the beautiful outdoor space that hosts your picnic as pristine as you found it. Next, make sure to include insulated water bottles among your drink selections. When it comes to hydration, there’s nothing like a cool bottle of water. Lastly, paper towels will come in handy to both hold food and to clean sticky fingers.

hands holding popsicles over picnic blanket.

The Desserts

The perfect way to end your sweet day? With something sweet, of course! Dessert is a delicious must at any spring picnic. Often, you’ll find Farmer’s Markets with fresh food and tasty treats to bring a picnic from good to great. So make sure to pick up easy-to-eat desserts for a sweet finish to your fabulous outing. Market Table‘s Cookie and Marble Brownie Trays are picnic-basket-ready perfection!

Partner Profiles: Creekstone Farms

Partner Profiles: Creekstone Farms

Founded in 1995, Creekstone Farms has produced high-quality USDA certified beef and pork for nearly twenty five years. Located in Arkansas City, Kansas, Creekstone Farms is one of America’s most committed providers of high quality meat. Market Table proudly sources our premium steaks from Creekstone Farms and their grain-fed cattle.

Text by Annika Bastian

What Makes Creekstone Farms Different?

Creekstone Farms is one of only a few USDA certified programs. They source their meat from single family farms. Then, they undergo rigorous USDA inspections to ensure both cattle and consumer are safe, sound and satisfied.

In addition to the USDA’s safety policies, Creekstone Farms looks to specialized independent programs to test the feed they give their cattle. This allows their cows to live antibiotic-free and hormone-free. These extra steps are part of their commitment to excellence.

Tagged black angus cow lying down.

Creekstone Farms Owns Their Entire Operation

Creekstone Farms manages the cattle they procure. They also process their cattle at their own plant, designed by animal science expert Temple Grandin. By owning their own facilities, Creekstone Farms manages every aspect of their operation. From start to finish, their beef is just the way they like it: perfect.

This freedom allowed Creekstone Farms to become Certified Humane® in 2016. Humane Farm Animal Care certified Creekstone Farms because of the great care they give their animals. They provide their cattle with plenty of room to express natural behaviors and graze green pastures.

Farmer pets angus steer.

They Care About Their Cattle and Their Customer

Creekstone Farms’ non-GMO beef provides an ethical animal protein option for our kitchen and your table. We are proud to partner with Creekstone Farms, who source their non-GMO beef from a single-family farm. They raise their cattle on grains and foraging, free of all genetic modifications.

The cows’ grass-fed and grain-finished diet results in healthier cows and leaner meat. Also, Creekstone Farms works hard to lower their carbon footprint and maintain more sustainable farming practices. Creekstone Farms’ approach to grain-fed, non-GMO beef betters the industry, and we’re proud to provide their better beef to our customers.

End A Bad Day On A High Note

End A Bad Day On A High Note

When everything goes wrong, let Market Table be your BFF.

Today was one of those days that most moms know well… A day where all of your scheduling, planning ahead and organization efforts are rendered futile, your children transform into demons, and the world seems to work against you in every way. And it all happened before 8am.

I’ll spare you most of the gory details and give a quick recap. My morning looked something like this:

Woke up. Immediately sensed something was amiss. Stepped in a pile of poop that the puppy so graciously left at my bedside. How thoughtful. On to get the kids up. My youngest is already awake, and he’s covered himself in diaper cream. Fantastic. We’ll let the husband deal with that one. My oldest is awake, happy, but has some major goop seeping out of a bloodshot eye — pink eye. Wonderful. Looks like she’ll be tagging along to that 10 a.m. meeting. Next up is breakfast, where all hell breaks loose. Both kids are suddenly screaming and utterly heartbroken because they’re being forced to eat blueberry muffins … the same blueberry muffins they refused to leave the grocery store without just one day prior. Curious how things change so fast. Breakfast is followed by tantrums regarding one not wanting to wear rain boots and the other needing a specific pink colored bow that we can’t seem to find (not sure we ever even owned) but MUST wear today or we will die.

Finally, we’re out the door and on our way. And then the car won’t start. Dead battery. Glorious.  

At that point, I wanted so badly to throw my hands up, cry “Uncle!” and have someone else take over for the day. But I’m a mom. We don’t have the luxury of giving up on a bad day and hiding in a cave where no one can find us. So, I did my best to muddle through the rest of the day. After a late afternoon doctor’s appointment for eye drops, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to get dinner on the table in time. But then I remembered: there is help out there. At least, help for dinner.

A 3-minute stop into Market Table, and I had chicken fingers and mac & cheese for the kids, a slow-smoked pork belly and cauliflower fried rice for the husband, and a bottle (ok … two bottles) of wine for myself. Done, done and done.

So, as I sit here with that (second) bottle of wine, just know that no matter how badly your day goes, it can always end well with Market Table.

Paleo Diet

Paleo Diet

Deciding to go Paleo is a big step, but it might be worth it in the end. Read on to find out if the Paleo diet is right for you.

 

Why Paleo?

Paleo is a diet designed with human genetics in mind to help people stay lean, strong, and energetic. Most of what we put in our bodies these days is refined food, trans fat, and sugar. These three combined are thought to be causing some of the diseases that plague people today like obesity, cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, and infertility.

 

What Can You Eat on Paleo?Fruits, vegetables, and meats.

When practicing the Paleo diet, there’s a list of the main foods you should be consuming. These include fruit, vegetables, lean meat, seafood, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. Fruits and vegetables provide the body with an abundance of vitamins and minerals. They also contain phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are beneficial compounds we get from fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are an example of phytonutrients.

These three in abundance can lower the likelihood of the dieter getting cancer, diabetes, or neurological decline. Paleo diet recommends you consume healthy fat like Omega 3 to reduce obesity, cancer, heart disease, and cognitive decline.

 

What Can’t You Eat on Paleo?

When on the Paleo diet, you can’t eat any dairy, grains, processed food and sugars, legumes, starches, or alcohol. This is partially because these are not foods consumed by early man, but it is also because these are all foods that are at odds with health.  Dairy contains A1 Casein which can cause allergy. This combined with the IGF growth factor 1 in milk is thought to be cancer-causing by some. This growth factor means dairy can cause acne. Grains are thought to irritate the immune system. Legumes contain lectins and phytic acid which can cause inflammation and gastrointestinal distress overtime. They also trigger insulin release. Starches are high on the glycemic index scale and too many carbs. They can disrupt blood sugar levels as a result.

 

Health Benefits of Paleo DietHealth benefits of Paleo chart.

Results from the Paleo diet can include improved blood lipids, weight loss, and reduced pain from autoimmune disease. This works because the diet raises the level of nutrients you receive while getting rid of things your body does not need or things that are harmful to it.

People have reported better workouts, steadier energy levels, reduced allergies, reduced fat, more stable blood sugar, better and more consistent sleep at night. Improvement in skin and teeth health has also been reported.

 

Paleo measuring strip around waist.Does the Paleo Diet Actually Work?

The Paleo diet has had many success stories. Studies show the Paleo diet has reversed insulin resistant type 2 diabetes. Dr. Terry Wahls even claims she reversed the effects of her multiple Sclerosis.

Because the foods you cut out when starting the Paleo will lower your calorie count automatically, there is no need to count calories. While you should definitely keep your portions under control, calorie counting is not sustainable. The paleo diet is actually sustainable, which means that it is a good option for long term health maintenance.

 

By Martha Kendall Custard

How to Eat Seasonally This Fall and Winter

How to Eat Seasonally This Fall and Winter

Fall is the traditional time to harvest fruits and vegetables. If you have your own vegetable garden, you may already know this. However, if you’re new to the in-season-produce game,trying to figure out the ins and outs of eating seasonally may be a little intimidating. Fear not! Here’s a step-by-step guide to seasonal produce.

What Does “In Season” Mean?

Simply put, “in season” refers to food that’s harvested at a particular time of year. This ensures that you’re getting produce when it’s at its very best. This produce will have all the nutrients needed for a healthy diet. Also, your produce won’t be treated with harmful chemicals, so it’s even more healthy for your family.

What’s “Peak Season”?

“Peak season” is the time of the season when buying a particular fruit or veggie is most beneficial. First off, it’s when the produce is most available. Next, since it’s in abundance during peak season, the produce is far cheaper than any other time of year. Another benefit is that the produce has the most flavor during this time because it’s been allowed to fully ripen. However, perhaps the most important reason to buy produce in peak season is that it also has the maximum amount of nutrients.

 

Why Buy Local?Young woman inspects produce at farmers market


Buying locally grown produce ensures that there are little to no chemicals used as preservatives. If you were to buy seasonal produce from a farm out West and you live in the South, it’s highly probable that the farm will treat the produce with preservatives. Also, local produce doesn’t have to be shipped from another location, cutting down on pollutants like carbon dioxide gas. You can either purchase produce directly from the farmer at a farmer’s market or from a nearby farm.As an added bonus, buying locally stimulates the economy in your area, which is good for everyone in the long run.

Not in the mood to shop and cook for produce? Here at Market Table, we partner with local farms and food distributors to make sure we use locally grown and responsibly farmed produce whenever possible. 

Farmers Market gourds and mini-pumpkinsFinding Out What’s in Season


The best way to find out what’s in season in your area is to visit your state’s Department of Agriculture website. They will have a list of produce with information on when the season for something starts and when it ends. The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture also offers convenient seasonality charts. On Alabama Farmers Market Authority’s website, you’ll find a list of seasonal produce and information about when it’s in peak season. This Alabama Cooperative Extension System guide, put together by Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities, lists seasonal produce and ideas for preparing it.

What’s in Season Now?


Here’s a list of what’s in season this fall and winter in the Southeast:

Flat-lay of heirloom tomatoesApples
Greens
Cucumbers
Grapes
Leeks
Lettuce
Okra
Peaches
Peppers
Herbs
Onions
Pecans
Beans
Tomatoes
Figs
Pumpkins
Rutabaga
Squash
Persimmons
Peas
Salad Greens

 

Text by Amber Pope

The Food Bowl Trend

The Food Bowl Trend

Woman Instagramming a Smoothie Bowl

If you’re still eating your food off of a plate, it’s time to get with the hottest new trend: bowls. Need further proof? Go search #bowl on Instagram, and you’ll see over two million pictures of food bowls. Even at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markel, reception guests ate various options of the food bowl. Though you probably won’t be dining with the Queen of England, you’re still going to want to get in the bowl game. Here’s why these aesthetically pleasing dishes are on the rise.

 

They’re Healthy

Blue spirulina smoothie bowl with fruitFood bowls may look too beautiful to eat, but they are definitely good for your health. This is why the trend is so popular amongst healthy eaters. You’re getting all your grains, proteins, and vegetables right in one main dish, and the heartiness of the meal will leave you full for hours.

This bowl trend also means there’s more healthy food options. Restaurants are competing to “out bowl” each other. More restaurants offer healthy bowl options, which is a win for you. Instead of driving across town for your food bowl, you’ll probably find a nearby restaurant that’s caught on to the new trend.

 

They’re Easy to Make

If you’re trying to save some money, food bowls are also simple to make. Another great thing about food bowls is that they’re infinitely customizable. You can mix and match bases, toppings, and dressings to your heart’s desire. This make food bowls great for meal preppers, lunch lovers, and picky eaters.

 

Poke bowl with avocado and seaweedThey’re Multicultural

If you’re skeptical about joining the craze, just know that this is no fad. In fact, food bowls have been around for a long time. They get their origins from Hawaiian and Brazilian culture with the poke and açaí bowls, respectively.

Poke is a staple Hawaiian dish and traditionally includes raw cubed tuna. But, there are other options such as octopus, salmon or tofu. All of this is served on a bed of rice and topped with furikake, a Japanese seasoning equivalent to America’s salt and pepper. This dish has left the island and established itself as a popular food bowl throughout the rest of the country.

Acai bowl with nuts and berriesAçaí is a superfruit with lots of health benefits. It gained its popularity through smoothie bowls, but it’s also a popular icecream flavor. Açaí bowls, or Açaí na tigela in Brazil, are fruit smoothie bowls topped with granola, bananas, other berries and syrups. These are the bowls you’ll see the most on Instagram.

 

If stepping up your Instagram game or the Royal family wasn’t enough motivation to join the food bowl movement, then maybe these benefits and cool origins will inspire you to join soon.

 

Text by Kendal Harris