Earth Fare: Healthy Grocery & Giveaway!

earth fare florida grocery store

Last month, I hadn’t heard of Earth Fare grocery stores. I should have, because there is one about 5 minutes from daughter’s apartment in Gainesville. (Chomp, chomp.) When I heard they were opening a new store in Seminole full of healthy food, I was quite intrigued. And when I was offered a tour and preview two days before the grand opening with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I was thrilled!

Here’s the thing about health food – I’m a skeptic. I’ve done a lot of research, and I don’t buy into fad diets or crazy eating habits. I do think much of the standard American diet is junk and not real food. If you are looking to avoid that junk, perhaps lose weight or just get healthier, Earth Fare can actually help. Here’s why:


Some stores have many products that fit in this box, but at Earth Fare, every item on the shelves meets these standards. I can’t promise you sugar free or gluten free, but I can promise you food free of red dye #6 zillion.

I’m going to tell you a bit about Earth Fare. And then I’m going to tell you how you can try to win a $25 gift card to go try the brand new store out for yourself! #Giveaway!


Earth Fare started in Asheville, NC in 1975 with the commitment to providing Healthy Food for Everyone, food safe for the community. They have 75% organic produce. The store uses a reverse osmosis to mist the organic produce, so it’s not great stuff doused in gross water.

trail mix at earth fare

Walking past the produce section around the perimeter of the store, next you’ll find bulk nuts, candy and granola in bins, along with bulk liquids such as vinegar, honey, maple, olive oil – which you can take home in a small container or bring our own container. You can also grind your own peanut butter, dark chocolate peanut butter, cashew butter or almond butter.

Next come the seafood and deli sections. The seafood is traceable and sustainably sourced. We tasted some smoked salmon that was full of flavor and super juicy.

Yum, I've never seen these before... Apple chardonnay! No casing!

Yum, I’ve never seen these before… Apple chardonnay! No casing!

I also learned some stores have animals raised on antibiotics.Then before animals go to  the market, there is a withdrawal period for antibiotics, meaning any food or milk from animals that have been treated with an antibiotic may not enter the food supply until a predetermined amount of time has passed since the animal’s last dosage. But the animals at Earth Fare have NEVER been exposed to hormones or antibiotics. They’ve also been a leader in supplying cage-free eggs for over ten years.

If there's a cheese you're not sure of, they'll let you try before you buy!

If there’s a cheese you’re not sure of, they’ll let you try before you buy!

You can get organic or biodynamic wine, pet products, cleaning products, build your own six pack of fun beer (some local) – and they also offer catering.

The Earth Fare bakery offers 7 varieties of breads baked fresh in house daily from organic flour. I also hear they have gluten free angel food cake and amazing vegan cookies!

chocolate at earth fare

I would like to try every fair trade dark chocolate bar please!

The Seminole store will help try out their new Heirloom juice bar. You can get fresh pressed juices, smoothies, coffee and tea – and there are a few small tables to stop and enjoy them at, or you can take them quickly to go.

The store has partnered with the Edible Peace Patch project, a local nonprofit, and they are helping to fund a $10k garden at a Seminole public elementary school.

The last area we visited were the sustainable and environmentally friendly wellness and beauty products. The products represented a great variety of brands, and the prices were great!

You can wait till some of the newness wears down if you want, or get right on over to Earth Fare for their Fall Festival on Saturday from 12-3pm with activities just for kids, such as face painting and pumpkin decorating. They are open every day from 7am – 10pm at 7774 113th Street N, Seminole , FL 33772. I drove around a little at the new shopping strip going up behind the store, and there will be a Bealls, Steinmart, Homegoods, Ulta, Five Below and more. It looks so pretty!


So here’s how you can join in the fun and try to win a gift card from Earth Fare and ME for $25. It starts with you heading over to my Instagram account, @rafdarrow. There I have a slideshow from my Earth Fare tour. Hit like and leave a comment letting me know what you are most looking forward to seeing at the store – and in your comment use the hashtag #earthfaresem (for Earth Fare’s Seminole store.)

If you have something really strongly against Instagram, you can Tweet to me instead. Tag me @rafdarrow and use the same hashtag #earthfaresem. In your tweet tell me which weekly deal you’ll probably take advantage of first at Earth Fare.

And, yes, you can do BOTH and get entered in my drawing TWICE. But only one tweet or Insta-comment per reader please. You can leave a comment here, but it will not enter you in the giveaway. It will just give me a smile 🙂

Good luck, enjoy the store, and I will be tallying answers on Tuesday, 10/4 after 6pm so you need to tweet or Insta before then!

If you don’t live near me, here’s where to check to see if there is an Earth Fare in your neck of the woods.


Recipe Rehab: Healthier Baked Potato

IMG_8803A quick and easy dip that I really enjoy is yogurt mixed with peanut butter. You can use vanilla or plain yogurt – Greek style or regular, crunchy or creamy peanut butter. It’s up to you! I like equal parts plain Greek yogurt with natural creamy peanut butter. It’s great with baby carrots, celery or crackers. I usually add cinnamon too.

One day, my daughter had a group of friends over coloring posters for school. I made this dip with carrots for them to nosh on. One of the girls was a vegetarian and said she wanted to make it her new, go-to snack. She really loved it! I had to give her mom the recipe.

When we were out to dinner recently, my husband ordered a baked potato with sour cream. He’s probably eaten that at home 3 times in the 20 years we’ve shared a home. Mainly because I rarely buy large potatoes or sour cream, and it’s not something he really ever craves. My mom says I actually have a mild allergy to white potatoes, but I don’t know that I’ve seen a symptom of that. I just feel they are full of more starch than I need regularly.

However, I do enjoy a sweet potato! When I realized how easy they are to pop in the microwave, they became a quick work lunch.

So today – you can pool those 2 food together – the yummy dip and the sweet potato – and get a healthier alternative to a loaded baked potato. No added sugar or butter…


  • 1 TB of your favorite yogurt
  • 1 TB of your favorite nut butter
  • Cinnamon
  • A seed or nut for added crunch if desired
  • 1 sweet potato


  1. Poke a sweet potato once with a fork or knife. Pop it in the microwave. If you have a potato function, just press that, otherwise 4-6 minutes is good depending on the size of your potato.
  2. Scoop 1 TB yogurt (I use plain Greek) and 1 TB peanut butter (I use natural creamy) into a small dish.
  3. Sprinkle on 2 shakes of cinnamon and about 1tsp of your favorite nut or seed if you like a little crunch. Today I used roasted, salted sunflower seed kernels.
  4. IMG_8805As soon as your sweet potato is done, slice it once down the long center – into about half of the potato. Scoop your nutty dip into the potato and let it set for a minute. The steam from the inside of the potato will begin to melt the dip slightly, making it creamier!
  5. Chow down and enjoy!

Served with the yogurt and peanut butter I chose, MyFitnessPal says this dish is about 220 calories.



Liquid Apple Pie – a 4th of July Shot Recipe


I’ve been playing with apple pie flavored “adult beverages” for a few weeks, trying to get just the right flavor. An apple martini was sweeter than the flavor I was looking for, and Fireball had more bite than I hoped.

I think I created the perfect recipe for an apple pie shot the other day – just in time for Fourth of July weekend celebrating!



Pour into a shot glass and knock it back! Enjoy!


S’mores Marshmallow Bites

indoor smores marshmallows

We were invited to a Memorial Day backyard BBQ in the Florida summer heat. Although evenings in a backyard might make you think of s’mores, the hot weather keeps us from lighting fires. Instead, we concocted S’Mores Chocolate Nutella Bites. The plate was empty before I got to try one – the teens at the party gobbled them up before the adults got to them. These s’mores require NO campfire, NO stove, NO oven, NO baking… just a microwave and a few minutes. These are great to make with children as well.

First Alice tried just melting chocolate chips in the microwave, but they need some kind of fat to make the consistency right for dipping. I suggested butter. She tried Nutella. That worked great!

For an average bag of large marshmallows, use about 3/4 cup chocolate chips and 3TB Nutella. You’ll also want a sleeve of graham crackers. If you can crush the graham crackers (see gluten free option below) still in the sleeve without it bursting, it helps yield less mess. Or you can put them in a Ziploc Freezer bag, I was just trying to be greener than that. Once the graham crackers are very tiny dusty crumbs, smaller than a pencil eraser, dump them onto a plate.

Melting the chocolate is a bit of guesswork, don’t treat it like real science. You can’t ruin the recipe, you just might run out and have to melt more. We melted the chocolate and Nutella together in a small microwave-safe bowl for 14 seconds, stirred, gave it another 20 seconds, and everything was melted to a great dipping consistency. Microwave times vary, but don’t put it in for a long period so it will melt faster. You want to do short spurts of heat and stir in between. We used a rubber scraper to stir and then we had it ready for scraping the bowl when we were down to the last bits of chocolate.

Now is when you want to work quickly, before the chocolate cools and starts to solidify – although you can always pop it back in the microwave for 10 seconds. Take a large marshmallow, dip it about halfway into the melty chocolate goodness, swirl it around, and then roll it in the graham cracker crumbs. Stand your s’mores dipped marshmallows up on a plate. It’s easy and brainless and delicious!

These are great for parties with themes like camping, adventure, pow wow, gypsy boho, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts.


  • Marshmallows – large size
  • Chocolate chips
  • Nutella
  • Graham Crackers

Other ideas:

Roll chocolate-dipped marshmallows in something other than graham crackers – like crushed nuts or rainbow sprinkles, but then they won’t be as s’mores-esque.

Swap the Nutella for peanut butter, cookie butter, or SKIPPY® Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Dark Chocolate. We’ve even made a blend of a few of those when we had too much junk food in the house! They all taste great blended with each other and/or with the chocolate chips.

You can make them gluten free by using Honey Nut Chex instead of graham crackers.

You can make them kosher by using Paskesz Marshmallows, Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels, and Nabisco graham crackers.

A full dinner plate of s’mores bites (nearly a whole bag of marshmallows) took me only 10 minutes to make. Enjoy!


Time for a Fresh Meal Plan!

Sometimes when balancing life and health and food – and for me that means packing lunch for work – I just want to look at the choices and shout, “ain’t nobody got time for that!” Usually though, I try to set aside time on Sunday to cook up healthy food I can portion out for work lunches all week. But as we all know, Sunday Funday plans can ruin best-laid meal planning! Plus, many of my friends are packing lunches for their children as well, not just themselves.

Then dinner menus get added to the mix! It’s so easy to come home from work and NOT want to cook. But eating out means added sodium and other stuff I don’t want in my food.

Recently a friend introduced me to Fresh Meal Plan. By signing up for one of their plans, you can have freshly prepared, healthy and delicious meals delivered right to you! Plus, they offer meal plans to fit many diet types – like paleo, vegetarian, contest prep for bodybuilders, high performance for athletes, and vegan. Or, like me, traditional.

types of plans

The food comes ready to be heated up in small containers, so the portion sizes are determined for you. Sign up, select a meal plan, choose delivery or pick-up, and reheat the fully cooked meals!


mealsI was offered a free week of lunches by Fresh Meal Plan Tampa Bay in exchange for this blog post giving my honest opinion about the food. I had a salmon meal with spaghetti squash and broccoli with honey mustard sauce, chicken stir fry over quinoa, apple pecan turkey salad (shown), and brisket bolognese over spinach with zucchini (shown). Some comments…

  1. The food I tried was delicious! The salmon and turkey salad were my favorites but I would recommend them all.
  2. The portion size was perfect for lunch if I had fruit between lunch and dinner. If I had nothing in between lunch and dinner I was really hungry 5 hours later.
  3. labelThe labels on the meals don’t show the full ingredients. I don’t know what was in the sauces or breadings – just the main ingredients are listed. (shown)

There was another day we had a catering tray from Fresh Meal Plan at work to share. The gluten free waffles were too bland for me, but the banana muffins were delicious with very rich frosting – even though they were paleo – no wheat, no gluten, no dairy.

I also really enjoyed the sweet potato fries, pasta, farro with cranberries and chicken satay. The green beans had too many onions for me. I didn’t try the Mediterranean salad because I don’t care for olives.

IMG_7256 IMG_7257

Fresh Meal Plan is not a diet system using shakes, pills, cookies, or preserved and packaged meals. It’s all freshly made from a culinary team comprised of the highest level chefs led by Patrick Delaney. They also have 100% organic, raw, cold-pressed juices, but I have not tried one yet.

Not convinced? Here’s what they suggest:

For one week, log every dollar you spend on food and how much time you spent shopping for it, prepping it, cooking it and then cleaning up after it. Then think about how much your time is worth and realize that not only did you NOT save time or money, but you also do not have the variety of food that Fresh provides our Fresh Family clients with on a daily basis.

What is more convenient then having your own personal Fresh Chef deliver healthy meals right to your home, office, or school? You need a full spectrum of nutrients to achieve inner wellness and they’ll provide them at an exceptional level. Let their team of nutrition experts do the work for you so that you can use your spare time to do something much more fun!