Viva Organic, Cardiff’s #ZeroWaste Heaven!

You guys! I have been so busy and so Instagram dependant that I haven’t blogged in here as much as I really should. I mean, as a blogger sometimes you even question if anyone is reading. Is this thing on? hello? lol but I have had a few people reach out to me via email and social media lately who reminded me why I blog. Because I love everything green, eco-friendly and sustainable! which I assume is the same reason why you are here too.

So let me start reconnecting by letting you know about this uber cool place in Cardiff. Viva Organic! (what a fantastic name that is)

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Viva Organic is located in the Pontcanna area – which is filled with little British houses, trees, small cozy roads with people pedaling along on their bikes and an array of amazing little shops. Pontcanna reminds me a lot of the Montrose area in Houston – sans the heat – but with British accents and Welsh cakes.

Viva Organic is the first of its kind in the area. As a zero waste shop, it offers everything your little environmental hearts can wish for. Organic fruit and veg (without plastic containers or wrapping) juice bar, with cold-pressed juices and delicious smoothies – My 12-year-old son devoured a Tropical smoothie in a matter of minutes and said it was one of the tastiest he ever had.

 

 

They also offer a range of organic wines and beers and coffees. The only thing I didn’t see was Kombucha, however, there was a little sign saying ‘coming soon’.

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The best part of the shop is hidden towards the back. A whole selection of self-serve and pack areas with large glass containers holding grains, pasta, cereals and oils which people can buy and carry home using their own containers ❤ it is just perfection. You can also purchase shampoo and natural soaps along with a range of cleaning household items.

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fullsizeoutput_8387The only downside to the place is that I have to travel more than a few miles to get there from the Valleys. But it is definitely worth a visit!

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B I G Thank you to Rod (Thomas) owner of the place, for bringing this amazing little place to live! I am absolutely in love with the place, the concept and the ethics behind it. I was also very pleased to see so many young families, and kids in the shop – mine included.

Viva Organic is located at 79 Pontcanna Street, Pontcanna, Cardiff. General opening hours are Tuesday to Friday – 8 am until 6 pm, Saturday – 9 am until 5 pm, Sunday – 11 am until 4 pm. Closed on Mondays.

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Eat Happy, Eat Organic : BOOM Awards (Plus Minestrone Soup + Veg Dumplings Recipe)

This post is in collaboration with the Soil Association and BOOM Awards 

If you have been reading me for a while you know I am an organic food advocator. I know it is not always possible to eat organic (prices, accessibility, etc) However little changes sometimes can make a huge difference. When my child was a baby (11 years ago) I made sure I only cooked organic produce purees for him. Why? Because I didn’t want any nasty chemicals in his little body, and organic is the way it was intended to be since the beginning of farming days. However back then there was less information and availability of organic foods in the local markets across the UK.

These are the dirty dozen, when possible try to buy this products organic:

The 2017 Dirty Dozen List 

EWG’s Dirty Dozen (1)

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet Bell Peppers
  12. Potatoes

Research released today by the Soil Association shows that 80% of British shoppers now believe  eating organic is beneficial and more shoppers understand what organic food is all about. Yay! progress! The increase in people choosing organic is being driven by availability, with organic food becoming easier to find in shops. More and more chefs, restaurants and cafes are also choosing organic, as well as food writers who are increasingly featuring organic ingredients in their recipes.

BOOM Awards (Best of Organic Market Awards)

With the continued increases in both the originality of how organic food is being offered and the exciting products now available, the BOOM Awards (Best of Organic Market Awards) celebrate what’s currently happening in the market as well as encouraging future innovation. Winners last year included Davenport Vineyards, Waitrose, Plenish Organic Cold Pressed Juices, and Booja-Booja organic truffles. The most hotly contested award is the Nation’s Favourite, a public vote to find the most popular organic product in the shops.

“The findings are encouraging and show it’s a positive time for organic. More people buy organic food regularly with 39 per cent of shoppers making it a weekly choice.” – Soil Association Certification Business Development Director, Clare McDermott

The BOOMs are not just about what you can buy in the shops, more and more restaurants and cafes are also using organic and there are increasing ways to shop from box schemes to local independents, as well as growing ranges in the supermarkets and discounters alike.  The awards recognise all of this innovation and development.

The Soil Association needs the nation’s help to find the most popular organic product. Do you have any favorites? Where do you buy them? how often do you use organic? This is the people’s chance to nominate anyone they think deserves to win.

Nominations are open until 31st May and people can vote hereThe Nation’s Favourite

Now to the tasty yummy part! I cooked an (organic) Minestrone Soup with Vegs Dumplings and I have all the photos and recipe here so that you can too!

Organic Minestrone Soup + Dumplings (RECIPE)

Soup:

  • 3 tbsp organic olive oil
  • Sprig of thyme Bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp parsley stalks 2 onions, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, diced
  • 1 small organic swede, peeled and diced
  • 150g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp good red wine vinegar
  • 200g organic kale, stalks removed (reserved and chopped), leaves shredded
  • 100g orzo (or any kind of small pasta, I used small spaghetti)
  • Parsley and chervil, to garnish
  • Grated lemon zest, to garnish
  • Organic cheddar, to garnish Salt and pepper, to taste (I wanted to keep it dairy free, so I did not use cheese)

Dumplings

  • Pinch of coriander seed
  • Pinch of rye seed
  • 250g ricotta
  • 10g grated parmesan
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 100g pistachios, toasted and chopped
  • 200g spinach
  • Zest of 1 organic unwaxed lemon
  • tbsp lemon juice
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp light organic spelt flour (I used Maize & Cornmeal which is gluten free)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Method

To make the soup:

Heat the olive oil over a medium to high heat. Add the thyme, bay leaf and parsley stalks and stir, cooking for a minute or two to infuse the oil, then add the diced veg and cook, stirring for 10–15 minutes, until softened and smelling good. Add the plum tomatoes and cook for a couple more minutes before adding a litre of water, vinegar and the kale stalks, and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for another 10–15 minutes, allowing all the flavours to infuse. During this time, make the dumplings.

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Dumplings:

Dry fry the spices in a frying pan until they start to crackle. Remove and grind in a pestle and mortar. Wash the spinach and then wilt in a nonstick frying pan over a medium heat. There should be enough residual water on the spinach to mean that you don’t need to add any oil or water. After a couple of minutes, once wilted, transfer the spinach to a sieve and leave over the sink to drain. Press down on the leaves with a wooden spoon to squeeze out any excess water. Once cooled and drained, chop finely. Place the ricotta in a bowl and add all of the other ingredients.

Season with salt and pepper and stir well to combine and incorporate all the ingredients. Oil your hands lightly with olive oil and shape them into meatball sized balls.

Poach them in the minestrone. Alternatively, you could bring a pan of water to the boil and cook them in the boiling water for 5 minutes, until they float – removing them with a slotted spoon.

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Don’t forget you can get involved with organic too, the BOOMs Nation’s Favourite Award asks the people to find and vote for the most popular organic product. Nominations are open NOW until to Wednesday, May 31st – make sure you have your say here: https://www.soilassociation.org/organic-living/the-boom-awards-2017/nationsfavourite/

Jihane – @Onixjihane


Big thanks to  Rosie Birkett BOOMbassador for all the info provided in this post. 

The Last Organic Outpost: Houston’s Urban Garden with a Social Mission

A few weeks ago I was searching online for information about organic markets in Houston. I was looking for something local yet urban, without really knowing if there was such thing in the city or not. I came across The Last Organic Outpost.

It seemed like a good place to start, so Friday I headed off to town with an address in my GPS without knowing for sure what I was going to find. I drove around concrete walls, wooden houses, old streets, and hidden corners. I went with my husband as Fridays’ are his day off. We found this place right in the middle of town.  My husband’s first impressions were “are you sure we are supposed to be here?” – LOL- Me, being me, with my adventure pants on (well I had a skirt but you know my drill) headed into the garden wonderland this is. A little oasis among houses and concrete. Soon after I found Joe with his hands full of fresh dirt among the rows of green crops.

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“Hello! May I help you?” Joe said. “see? we are good” I told my husband who was still hesitant and felt like he was transpassing or something. That is how I meet Joe Icet, founder of the Last Organic Outpost. In a matter of minutes, Joe was giving us a tour of the premises and explaining passionately why he does what he does.

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The Last Organic Outpost generates healthy communities and establishes a local food economy in Houston’s under-served neighborhoods through urban farming and farm-based art & education. We empower communities through sustainable agriculture that teaches residents to produce safe, healthy and accessible food for all.

Joe envisions a future in which food is available for everyone. A future in which we can transform the neglected 5th ward and transform its run down streets into growing, functional land, supporting local communities.

Our goal to promote self-reliance for other communities, to refine ways to grow nutrient dense foods using cutting edge technologies like sea water agriculture and EM (effective microorganisms), to learn and teach holistic nutrition, help to create a food based economy in Houston by participating with other local and regional growers to produce and bring to local sustainable farmers markets quality nutrition accessible to all.

Along with running the Emile Street Community Learning Farm,  Last Organic Outpost is currently focusing it’s efforts on the neglected 5th Ward food desert with the following objectives:

1) Outreach  – Initiate the growth of Food Everywhere by building home gardens and a neighborhood-wide orchard of fruit & nut trees in homes and public spaces.

2) Farming – Establish a local food economy by training farmers in non-conventional, but sustainable, environmentally sound methods, establish community farms and encourage farm and local food related businesses in the Fifth Ward.

3) Education – Host community events where we teach residents about healthy nutrition, urban agriculture, and sustainability.

The farm is currently developing traditional crops as well as aquaponic crops sustained by rainwater, which is collected and processed right in the premises.

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The farm also has free range chickens providing fresh free range eggs. A small honey farm in the premises also produces enough honey for The Last Organic Outpost to sell during their Sunday Farmer’s Market. Tilapia also grows on the farm but are not currently on sale.

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The farm is completely self-sufficient, and it’s a non-profit. If you come during the week you can pick your own vegetables and give them a donation in return. If you don’t know how to pick your own but you want to have an awesome experience (and super fresh veg) Joe is always on hand to help you out.

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I am completely in love with the social mission of this place. Joe provides fresh, high-quality crops available to everyone at a low market cost. They also plan to offer more meaningful and sustainable jobs with new projects in the area. They are also developing new innovative techniques to produce sustainable soil using compost and wood chips – But if you want to learn more about that, you better ask the man, Joe.

So if you are in Houston, head over to The Last Organic Outpost. Take your little ones and show them where real food comes from, the ground. Get in touch with the wholesome process of nature and the gratifying feeling of growing/picking your own food.

IMG_7119IMG_7110IMG_7107IMG_7118I am hoping to be back soon and to collaborate with Joe and The Last Organic Outpost in whichever way possible to make this project reach every corner of Houston and its outer loops. If you are interested please do stay in touch, and also, please do follow me and The Last Organic outpost in social media. They do monthly classes open to the public at affordable prices/donations, as well as sell their produce Sundays at East End’s Farmers Market from 10 am – 2 pm!


The Emile Street Community Farm is located at 711 Emile St, Houston, TX 77020. Generally, open Monday thru Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm, times are subject to change during inclement weather.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LastOrganicOutpost

The Real Co. Single Origin Foods: from Farmers to our Tables

 

This is a sponsored post. Products for review provided by The Real Co.

Food. I have a love affair with food. I simply love food and the simplicity of healthy eating. I am always on The Real Co. 

The Real Co. not only offers one of a kind, high-quality products but their products come with a promise; One single origin. Their foods are never processed and all come from farmers at specific locations in the world. They work closely with these farmers under fair trade conditions and provide exclusive ingredients from their hands to our tables.

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The Real Co promises it’s consumers a clear understanding of the source of their food, the methods used for farming, & how it is packaged & delivered. Honesty & trust is something that they take very seriously and are extremely proud to achieve!

We are introducing and pioneering what we believe to be an exciting and transparent new food category and method of sourcing produce globally and delivering it at a local level; named SINGLE ORIGIN.  We enter partnerships with farmers and growers around the world who don’t have an established mainstream route to distribute their produce and from there we create a way to share their commodity with the world.- The Real Co.

The Real Co. only works with farmers that meet certain conditions, such as:

  1. It is producing non-gmo products, and where possible with organic and/or vegan and fair trade certification.
  2. They meet our minimum standards of living and working conditions for the staff.
  3. They have utilised their land and local environment in an ethical and sustainable way.
  4. They have contributed to supporting their local community, whether it be through the creation of jobs, tourism or any other tangible means.

So as I’ve been working on eliminating refined sugars from my diet I was especially inclined to try The Real Co Organic Raw Cane Sugar. The Real Co Organic Raw Cane Sugar comes directly from Assukar Farms, Tayutic Valley in Costa Rica  and it is 100% natural and organic, 100% Single Origin, non-GMO, and contains many natural vitamins & minerals. 
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*The sugar is available in 2 sizes: 8-ounce at a suggested retail price of $3.69 and 16-ounce at a suggested retail price of $4.49

The farming and milling operations at Assukar farms supports the employment of  approximately 10 local villages, making it a sustainable community food product.

Raw cane sugar is an excellent of source antioxidants. It is also loaded with vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron; along with a complete profile of essential amino-acids that help burn fat and build muscle. Refined white sugar contains none of that. It is processed from beets but once it reaches its crystalized white appearance (popular in our hearts and minds as what sugar should look like) refined sugar has lots all of its properties.

The Real Co, other products are equally as exciting! If you know anything about super foods and natural products you are aware of the natural properties of Himalayan Pink Salt. Mineral-rich salt has far-reaching health benefits including reducing blood pressure, preventing muscle cramping, strengthening bones and more.  The Real Co Himalayan Pink Rock Salt, is handcrafted in the Himalayan Mountains. This salt is 100% pure, 100% Single Origin, non-GMO; is unrefined and mountain washed in Himalayan mountain water, packing a whopping 84 active minerals in every grain.

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* The salt is available in a 20-ounce tub container for a suggested retail price of $6.99 or in a salt shaker container for a suggested retail price of $9.49.

I love it. I add it to everything including water! Yes, a pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt to water is great for detoxifying the body by balancing systemic pH. Also, add to your cooking just as you use regular table salt, and even to make your own body scrubs – Just add olive or coconut oil and use to scrub your body.

Last, but not least, The Real Co brings us The Real Co White Basmati Rice, directly from Gujrat Punjab from Farid Co-op Farm, is 100% natural and 100% Single Origin, low-GI & prebiotic, and non-GMO! The Real Co White Basmati Rice was farmed using no additives, no chemicals, and no pesticides.

Have you ever tried Basmati rice? its grains are longer and thinner than other varieties of rice, and it is extremely aromatic. It is its distinctive aroma and flavour that make this rice one of my favorites. Basmati is gluten-free and low in fat. It contains all eight essential amino acids, folic acid, and is very low in sodium and has no cholesterol. It also has a low to medium glycemic index, meaning that energy is released at a slower, steadier rate leading to a more balanced level of energy.

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*The rice is available in 2 sizes: 16-ounce at a suggested retail price of $3.99 and 32-ounce at a suggested retail price of $6.49.

Overall I am very impressed with their products. packaging is amazing, well done, and good quality maintaining their products fresh. The transparency promise and the fair trade guarantee made them a perfect choice for the millennial consumer, and I am without the shadow of a doubt pleased with all The Real Co philosophy entails.

This St. Patrick’s Day, celebrate by getting creative with your favorite Irish classics! Instead of consuming unhealthy, high-calorie foods with little to no nutritional value, why not swap it for the wholesome goodness of The Real Co foods? The Real Co offers fun, easy-to-prepare, Irish themed recipes that sure serve up a “quare” healthy kick. Every grain of salt, sugar and rice can be traced to its source, which is shared on every package of food that bears The Real Co name. Every food item has the Non-GMO Project Verified seal and is harvested from one single place, single farm or single family.  The Real Co products are also VeganGluten Free, Organic and Kosher!

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Synergy, Ethical and Eco-Friendly Apparel that Empowers Women in Nepal

In this second post about sustainable clothing, I want to concentrate on the importance of water pollution and how the products we use affect the environment. I also want to talk about the importance of minority women being empowered through the use of social enterprises.

According to the World Bank, 17-20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment. Imagine how much we can achieve by using  low impact and natural dyes. Not only can we significantly decrease water pollution but also our carbon footprint, allowing for a healthier planet.

The modern consumer is one that seeks to be more informed about the ways in which the products he/she consumes are manufactured, and how these affect the environment both in the long and the short run. This is why more and more brands are being more environmentally conscious.

During my research for this post, I came across Synergy. Synergy Organic Clothing creates fashion-forward clothing for women, by the use of social enterprises and by adhering to international anti-pollution regulations.

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Always striving to be mindful and conscious in every facet of our business, we produce sustainable and organic fair trade clothing that lets you look and feel your best. Radiate effortless style while treading gently on the Earth.

  • 100% GOTS* Certified Organic Cotton – 95% Organic Cotton, 5% Spandex (skirt)
  • Dyed with low-impact dye
  • Hand sewn anchor appliques
  • Made in Nepal

I love them! super soft, feminine and fun! colors are full of life and the anchor applique gives it an extra wow factor! I had two people ask me about the skirt while I was wearing it. I strongly recommend you to try them out.

 

*Synergy is proud to adhere to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). They work with the only GOTS certified factory in Nepal as well as GOTS certified fabric mills in India.

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Sustainable Apparel and Power of the Millennial Consumer

Recently I started thinking more and more about sustainable apparel. I want to do a line of T-shirts for the millennial woman. I know, it’s been done (a lot) but it is something that is making (business) sense in my gut and heart.  I started doing some research and came across a few fantastic brands.

First let’s talk about sustainability. What is sustainability?

sus·tain·a·ble səˈstānəb(ə)l/

adjective 1.

able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.
“sustainable fusion reactions”
Sustainable apparel by creating clothing that is durable, comfortable, and great looking. – Econscious

In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development created a definition for sustainability. It reads: “To meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  Sustainability recognizes that the planet’s resources are not infinite and that if we want to be responsible stewards of the earth, we have to use those resources wisely.

By making conscious decisions not only about what we eat but also about what we consume, we can help the world for future generations. The green millennial consumer is more in touch with the needs of the environment and is tuning in with nature demanding more and better products that are not only good in quality but ethical in essence.

I constantly look for more products that are in sync with my principals. Brands are understanding this consumer shift and are making more and better efforts to provide sustainable and organic products. Social responsibility is also an important part of the mix. Treating people fairly, honestly, and ethically is at the core of social responsibility. Brands that treat their employees fair and right are on high demand nowadays.

Our founders have decades of experience in internationally-successful clothing companies, and are among the pioneers of organic apparel.  This knowledge has enabled us to create the finest quality products using carefully sourced organic and sustainable fibers. econscious has established a market-based approach to sustainable manufacturing, working closely with our supply chain, treating workers fairly, and eliminating the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and other harmful chemicals. – Econscious

During the next few posts, I will be talking about organic cotton, sustainable apparel, and how some brands are using social entrepreneurship to provide amazingly well done and sustainable textiles in the USA.

On this first blog post of the series, I want to talk about sustainability. To do so, I will be featuring Econscious

Econscious serves the growing market for organic and sustainable apparel by creating clothing that is durable, comfortable, and great looking.

From their web page:

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“It takes one-third of a pound of fertilizers and pesticides to produce the average cotton t-shirt. By working exclusively with organic farmers, we can keep millions of pounds of chemicals out of the environment, which has a positive impact on watersheds, wildlife, and humans. Organic farming also has a global warming correlation; chemicals are manufactured and transported using fossil fuels, and organic farmers use less water.

Ecological sustainability is perhaps most directly expressed in agriculture. We all have to be fed, clothed, and sheltered every day. Agricultural products – from our farms and forests – are all around us. By educating ourselves and making conscious choices about what we consume, we can join a worldwide movement towards a safer, cleaner, and healthier world.”

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Their clothing line includes Hemp and Organic cotton. They sell women and men Tees, polos and sweatshirts and offer custom and private labeling. If you, like me, are considering having your own line of T-shirts you can opt for having Econscious as your textile provider. By doing so, you have a guarantee that your final product has not been manufactured by child labor and that all steps along your supply chain are sustainable and organic verified.

Being successful and having a social conscience are mutually supportive goals. Respecting human rights, and striving for fairness, respect, and justice are values that enrich our lives as well as the health of our company. – Econscious

Econscious has provided a sample Tee for women, size M in color Wasabi. I will be giving away this Tee to my readers upon participation! Enter bellow for your chance to win, and discover the awesomeness of organic & sustainable apparel.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway (Click Here to Enter Giveaway)

Giveaway!

Hello my readers! I have decided to THANK YOU all for reading me ( I shall thank again in Thanksgiving ) 

In order to show my love and appreciation I am giving away an Organic Healthy Living Mini Sample pack that contains.

1. Aloha green Juice sachet.

1. Graze Box snack pack “Keen Bean” (edame beans, chilli broad beans and redskin peanuts)

1. Artisana Organic Raw Walnut Butter sachet.

1. Revolution Southern Mint Herbal Tea sachet.

1. Italian Black Truffle Salt sachet from The Spice Lab.

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OnixJ Organic Healthy Living Mini Sample Pack

What do you need to do?

Like my Facebook Page.

Follow me on Twitter and/or

Comment on this blog post.

Click on the link below to enter Competition! Please use RaffleCopter for your entry to be VALID

—–>  a Rafflecopter giveaway  <——

 

Good Luck! and thank you for reading!

 

*rules apply: winner must be in the USA.

New Kroger Marketplace Brings Variety to Kingwood, TX

I had the opportunity to attend as a blogger to the preview of the new Kroger Market Place in Kingwood Texas. This place is more than your average Kroger. The whole concept behind the Market Place facilities is that is has more than just food. The huge premises not only offer an amazing variety of local grown produce, such as Kingwood grown fresh coffee beans for coffee lovers, but also organic produce, baby apparel, Kitchen appliances, furniture and even a jewellers.

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The New Kroger Market Place is a one stop destination for many needs, a concept that works particularly well in the USA. We are used to shops like this such as Target and Walmart, but the Kroger offers an experience a little more up-scale.  For starters it offers a steaming service for your lobsters. Yes! you can buy the fresh lobster out of the water and they will steam it for you while you do your shopping. Come on! It doesn’t get any fresher than that.

Another unique feature is the Murrey’s Cheese stand. An impressive over the top island stands in the middle of a wide area. Cheese masters will be there at your dispose ready to help you decide which cheese is best for your culinary needs. Fancy!

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Also a large selection of flowers and flower arrangements are available. Stunning colours for all needs and budgets can be purchased in store.

20131025-112824.jpgAnd my favourite area, the Natural Choices aisle. Yes! all organic and natural in one place. You don’t have to be jumping from one place to the other in the store. All the natural products are available in an impressive area of the store dedicated just for you! (or me, of anyone who loves natural choices) From chia seeds to almond milk, and freshly “make your own” peanut butter machines, this is without a doubt my favourite part of the store. Gluten free, dairy free, whole foods, baking products and all you can find it here, which means I don’t have to travel to mid-town Houston to find them any more!

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20131025-112857.jpgAlongside they have a vast selection of locally grown fruit and veg, and organic produce, which include these amazing Sunburst Squash which I am dying to try!

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On another note – yet a valuable one – is the impressive 600 beers and 1700 wines available in store. Specially important for the holiday season, if you can’t find what you are looking for there, honestly, I don’t know where you will. Also if you buy six bottles of wine you get a free wine carrier and 10% discount. Love that!

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Kitchen appliances (featuring juicers and food processors) are also available, as well as a toy department and a milkshake machine to keep the little ones happy. And a Starbucks to keep others caffeine lovers happy (I am content with a chai tea latte, thanks)

I could go on and on all day about this store, I am genuinely impressed – and NO I did not get paid to write a review- I just love it when fresh, locally grown, organic and natural food choices come near me.

But don’t just take my word for it! Go check it out in Kingwood, Northpark and 59. Opens Saturday.

xoxo

OnixJ

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