CSA Update: Halfway Through 2017 Season

Hello! Want to share a quick update on where the CSA is. We are about halfway through the season and getting a great variety of things. Recently we have had some amazing corn and tomatoes, lots of different kinds of peppers, green and wax beans, kale and, new this week, melon.

CSA week 8 2017 KaleAndAle.com

Week 8 of our 2017 CSA. Lots of good variety of foods!

As usual, my favorite thing is to eat the veggies fresh at their peak, but I’ve been making a lot of veggie burgers or freezing vegetables. I really want to consume them fresh, but then in the winter, it’s so hard to eat store-bought vegetables, so I’ve been doing a better job of preserving them to enjoy later in the year.

RELATED: Ways to preserve food to enjoy all year long.

The garden (not pictured) is growing well, but ALL the tomatoes get big and green and aren’t turning red. It’s like it reaches a certain point and stops. Have you ever experienced that? Is it the soil? Did some weather event occur that has stunted growth? The herbs are alive and well, and really that’s where the best growth is coming from this year.

What fresh local food can’t you get enough of right now?

Twin Cities Vegetarian Restaurants

Twin Cities Vegetarian Restaurants | Kale and Ale

Photo by Markus Spiske/Unsplash

I’ve wanted to write about my favorite vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the Twin Cities area (Minneapolis, St. Paul and beyond) in one spot for a long time.

Recently, the Eater article “18 Essential Restaurants for Vegetarians in Minneapolis and St. Paul” was published, and featured a spot with steak in the name. Reading the name on a list aimed at vegetarian spots was a disappointment and gave me a long pause, so I decided it is time to finally write my post about my favorite veg-friendly spots. Whether you are visiting from out of town, new to eating a plant-based diet or are looking for somewhere different to eat, think of this as a good starting point.

Below are restaurants I recommend along with a short reason why it’s included. To be on the list, the restaurant need not be plant-based, but must focus on plants, seasonal and local food, and have veggie options very clearly marked. These are restaurants I’ve been to myself that I would recommend, listed in alphabetical order. This post will be updated as I try new spots, as I don’t eat out often so I’m slow to try new restaurants.

What restaurant would you recommend I eat at and add to this list? Leave a note in the comments below.

Note: I’m professional writer, editor and content creator; if Eater or anyone is looking for a vegetarian to write about hot or new Twin Cities spots or plant-based trends, contact me for writing opportunities at Valerie@KaleAndAle.com.

Agra CultureThis fast-casual restaurant features healthy, simple food where meals are built a la cart and protein can be substituted.

The Bad WaitressThe menu at the two locations varies slightly, but both have a good variety of solid diner food that can be made vegetarian or vegan and is clearly marked.

The Depot TavernA solid choice if you are downtown or before a show at First Avenue, you will find classics like burgers and sandwiches with fries, tots or salad, that will keep you full through the encore. Tip: You can request half fries and half tots as your side, and the veg BLT is very filling.

French Meadow CafeIt focuses on special diets and local, fresh and organic food. I have been here for dinner, and I know breakfast and the airport location are both very popular options.

Hard Times CafeThis might be my favorite veggie restaurant, everything I’ve had is good and I can’t stop thinking about it. It is very no frills (I don’t think they have a website and only accept cash, how punk of them!) It’s just greasy spoon food, my favorite kind. What’s good? Everything I’ve had!

The Herbivorous ButcherNot a restaurant, this vegan butcher offers meat-free meats and cheese to go, and features sandwiches, soups and a nice selection of shelf-based treats. Read my recipe for Herbivorous Butcher pulled pork stuffed avocado.

Hola ArepaFresh, Latin food found in Minneapolis. Simple dishes that are clearly marked what are or can be made vegetarian or vegan.

J. Selby’sThey make the food meat-eaters crave, but are all plant-based. Popular items include are soyclones and cauliflower “buffalo” wings (a dish I can’t stop thinking about).

Milkjam Creamery: An ice cream shop with unique flavors where the owners are lactose intolerant, so there are always a handful of dairy-free options. Tip: Each scoop is very filling.

Pizza LuceService salads, sandwiches and pizzas, where many can easily be made vegetarian or vegan. It has unique combos, a seasonal menu and a solid brunch. It took me about five visits before I even had a pizza because the salads and sandwiches are so good.

Pizza NeaNeapolitan pizza with lots of ingredients, including many veggie meat options from Herbivorous Butcher, and vegan cheese so everyone can have what they want.

ReverieFlavorful dishes line the menu where ingredients are prepared in-house daily. They can run out of popular dishes, so it’s a reason to return. Read my review of Reverie Cafe + Bar dinner and breakfast.

Seward CafeVery no-frills cafe with flavorful food, a classic spot.

Spoonriver: Higher-end vegetarian restaurant serving contemporary food in a nice setting.

Triple Rock Social ClubVery veg friendly to grab a bite of classic bar food before a show or when you are out and about in the neighborhood. I have heard great things about breakfast but haven’t had it.

World Street KitchenA food truck and restaurant that focuses on world food, it features fresh flavors and veggie options.

What restaurant would you recommend I eat at and add to this list? Leave a note in the comments below.

Garden and CSA update: June 2017

It’s an exciting time in Minnesota, as the days have gotten longer (and now shorter again already) and things are in bloom. That includes our garden and now our CSA!

CSA week 1 2017 | Kale and Ale

CSA 2017 Week 1

Regarding the CSA, week one started. Although it’s small, I know the amount of food will grow soon, and I’m excited for nice greens and radishes. Next week peas will be added to the mix. I probably say this every year, but I just love when I don’t need to rely on the grocery store for all my produce, but can get most or soon all of it from the farm. It also makes menu planning so less stressful, as I have food given to me and I have to use it in the next week.

Related: Garden and CSA 101-Getting Started

June 2017 garden | Kale and Ale

June 2017 garden growing update

A few weeks ago we got hail, and the garden took a little bit of a beating but, except for the broccoli, it’s doing OK now. Broccoli was our “new to us this year” food we are growing, so we have no idea what to expect, which is a bit of a risk and part of the fun. (If you have any hot broccoli growing tips, send them my way!) Otherwise, carrots are starting to come up, a few tomatoes and peppers are beginning to show and the chives are growing as strong as ever. I highly recommend them!

What are you growing this year, and how’s it going? Let me know in the comments below.

FOLLOW ALONG: To see how my garden is doing and what I’m getting in my CSA, be sure to follow Kale and Ale on Instagram and Facebook.

Garden: 2017

Garden 2017 planting day | Kale and Ale

Tonight we planted our garden. Every year it’s an exciting day: The possibilities are endless and there are no failed plants at this point. Everything is cute and small, and the yield and hopes are great.

We like to try some standbys and some new things. This year we are trying broccoli for the first time, wish us luck. (Disclosure: The last minute thing we try usually doesn’t do great.) Now in our third year, Aaron and I tried to plan for how big things get, how much sun they get and how much space they need. Each year we learn a little more and take that into consideration.

RELATED: Tips for first-time gardeners

This year, we went to the University of Minnesota Master Gardener sale, where they sell what they have grown, which often means unique or heirloom varieties of food. The garden has:

  • Sugarsnax carrots
  • Rosemary (in a pot)
  • Apple mint (in a pot)
  • Packman broccoli
  • Basil
  • Peppers:
    • Marconi
    • Serrano
    • Carmen
    • Chocolate beauty
  • Tomato:
    • Martino’s roma
    • Lemon boy
    • Tumbling Tom (in a hanging pot)
  • Chives (already had)

For reference, read my post of what I planted in 2016.

What will you be growing this year? What is your favorite thing about gardening?

Running Goals: 2017

Golden Valley 10k running 042917 Valerie | Kale and Ale

In the home stretch of the Golden Valley Run the Valley 10k.

After a low-key year for running in 2016, I plan to make up for it in 2017. One of my top running goals since moving to Minnesota has been to run around nearby Medicine Lake at almost 9 miles. I’ve never built up to that distance during the short summer running season, but since I’m finally acclimating to weather and have been going to the gym regularly, I’ve made it a goal this year.

When I found a 10k for the end of April in the next town over from where I live, I signed up. I know the best way to hold myself accountable with a running goal is to sign up for a race. Having spent the winter doing yoga, elliptical and weights, I was training from 0 miles. I found a 10k training plan and started one day at a time. From my first run, I quickly got stronger.

The day of the race I was concerned about my performance. I hadn’t done my legs any favors the week leading up to it. I was at a concert standing and dancing the night before, and had attended a Barre fitness class two days prior. While my goal was to finish, I crushed it with a 10k personal record of just under an hour, at 59:26. I attribute that to the much-dreaded treadmill runs where I pushed up my speed on shorter runs. This is something I’ve known for years that I need to incorporate into my training and had been reluctant to do, so I guess now I know the results.

Golden Valley 10k 042917 group | Kale and Ale

Gotta love a race where pastries are part of the post-run snack. Holly, Nyssa and I with our post-run carbo-load.

I’m now at a good base to run Medicine Lake in a month or so (my personal running goal is to build up to 7.5 to 8 miles by the end of May). And when one of my race buddies Nyssa mentioned doing a 15k in June or July (a distance I’ve only done once), I was on board and am interested in doing one to keep up this momentum and distance. Either way, I plan to run around Medicine Lake this summer and make running outside earlier and later in the year a new tradition.

What are your summer fitness goals? I would love to hear them in the comments so we can help motivate one another!