Likely your garden, and certainly the farmer's market, is starting to reveal its seasonal bounty. This is the time off year that gives me immense pleasure. Seeing anything blossom and bloom is truly exciting, and as a planter of things both pretty and edible there is a level of satisfaction that comes with knowing that you can deposit a seed in the soul and facilitate something of beauty growing from it.
My garden has been producing greens for quite some time, which I start to take for granted when I'm eating them at every meal, but the real excitement of the last few days were my first cucumbers and tomatoes. In a month I will feel the same way about them as I do the greens now, but for now I will continue to check my plants morning and night to assess the growth and color change so I can be sure to harvest and consume as soon as possible.
I have a few berry bushes which generally go to the birds long before I have enough to do anything with, so I really appreciate when fruit from local farms come on the scene. Last weekend I found amazing peaches from southern Illinois at the farmer's market and have been coveting every last one until I'm there again on Saturday.
While the first few of everything to ripen I just end up popping in my mouth, or in the case of my five-year-old there were many strawberries and our first few tomatoes that were eaten before they were “technically” ripe. I do appreciate when everything is coming in in such a volume that they don’t seem so scarce and I can actually make entire dishes from things what I'm growing. Two of my most poignant summer food memories are that of cucumber and onion salad and mayo and tomato sandwiches. Always a fan of a good mash-up, I love this salad that combines the two, a creamy cucumber, tomato and onion salad, that has both piquant flavors and creamy subtleties and really makes me FEEL summer. Enjoy this recipe, either eating it straight out of the bowl or as an accompaniment to any good summer meal.
Creamy Cucumber & Tomato Salad
2 cups diced tomatoes, any variety as long as they are super ripe
2 cup diced cucumbers, I prefer the English variety or any that are long, slender and don't have many mushy seeds on the inside, and keep the skin on as long as they aren't bitter!
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup Island Life Ranch Dressing
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup whole fat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch black pepper
1. In a large bowl, toss tomatoes and cucumber together.
2. If using Island Life Ranch Dressing: add to vegetables and toss to coat.
3. If making dressing: in a small bowl combine all ingredients thoroughly. Add to vegetables and toss to coat.
4. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Enjoy this season and the amazing abundance, at least we can now see there was some good to come out of all that rain!
Happy growing & eating!
Living and working in Soulard, we’ve tried many different restaurants in our area and trust us, they’re all delicious! From gyros to pizza to BBQ and more, you have a lot of options for almost every type of cuisine and we’re here to help you find some of the freshest lunch spots around:
1. The Woodshack
Located at 1862 South 10th Street, The Woodshack is great at smoking meats and producing dishes with a lot of flavor! While we love their sandwiches and their white cheddar mac ‘n cheese, The Woodshack also offers a great selection of salads and wraps for a healthy lunch treat using those smoked meats. Our healthy favorites include the Power Wrap with quinoa, turkey, avocado, arugula and ginger dressing and the Power Blend Salad with quinoa, brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli, avocado and your choice of meat plus a hard boiled egg!
2. Ninth Street Deli
Now serving at their new spot at 2732 S. 13th Street, Ninth Street Deli at Howard’s has some of the best sandwiches in St Louis. They have a great selection of classic deli sandwiches and their own specialties that have become classics in their own right. Plus, their soups and salads are absolutely delicious! If you’re looking for a healthy lunch, we recommend Ninth Street’s “Pick Two” lunch special where you can order two of the following: half of a sandwich, a cup of soup, a house salad or another side for a great deal. This can be a nice way to choose a healthy soup or salad and pair it along with half of a sandwich for maximum enjoyment and health benefit. Our healthy favorites include the chopped salad with fresh corn, avocado, tomato, green onion and tarragon vinaigrette and Ninth Street’s stuffed pepper soup! Plus, if you’re dying for a sandwich (like we often are!), you can always ask them to hold the aioli or cheese on a sandwich or take off half of the bread before digging in.
3. Mission Taco Joint
As Mission Taco Joint expands throughout St Louis, we’re lucky enough to have one of the original locations here in Soulard. When we’re looking for a fresh lunch in the Soulard area, we love to order the South Beach Burrito (grilled chicken, cilantro rice, smashed black beans, Chihuahua cheese, and chipotle aioli; topped with guacamole) and the Cali Burrito (Vegan Impossible™ Burger, smashed black beans, lettuce, vegan cheese, guacamole, and chile de arbol salsa; wrapped in a wheat tortilla). Normally we order them without the tortilla and can only finish about half of the burrito since Mission Taco Joint is definitely generous when it comes to burrito portions!
4. Island Life Soulard
Lastly, you know this list wouldn’t be complete without Island Life! With our meals freshly prepared and ready for take out, it’s as simple as placing an order on your favorite food delivery app or stopping by our studio. All of our menu items are prepared from whole ingredients, using lots of veggies, beans and lean meats and house-made dressings and sauces, so you know anything you order has been carefully crafted by our chef to not only taste good, but be good for you. From a smoothie, quick snack or salad to a robust power bowl or meal kit, we’ve got you covered when you need something in a delicious, healthy and in a hurry.
In the end, Soulard has some incredible restaurant options whether you’re looking for pizza, tacos and burgers or something a little lighter! These are just some of our favorite healthy and fresh dishes in the neighborhood and we hope you get to try each place.
Island Life is so excited to be joining the cadre of delicious food establishments in Soulard. Our take on take-out may be different than others in the neighborhood, but our conviction to provide a great experience and a delicious meal is exactly the same. The great thing about dining in Soulard is the variety of options, if you are looking for Mexican, Irish, American, Greek, Italian or BBQ, it’s all here and it’s all super-tasty!
So, what does Island Life have that is different from everyone else? Keep on reading to find out!
Easy & Convenient Meals To-Go
First things first, our food program makes healthy, delicious meals easy and convenient with breakfast, lunch, snacks and smoothies available for pick-up 7:30 am – 1:30 pm, meaning you can get lunch at breakfast or whenever you need it.
All of Island Life’s meals are freshly prepared and ready-to-go in our display case. Whether you are a yoga student or just stopping by on your lunch break, you can find a delicious prepared meal made of fresh, whole ingredients that is ready for pick-up. All items are packaged in convenient, microwavable and recyclable containers that can go to work, home or wherever you are headed.
At Island Life, we offer a thoughtfully crafted menu, that changes frequently so you can explore a variety of delicious items on a regular basis. From small bites that will provide you the energy you need to get through the day, such as protein snack packs, to breakfast and lunch entrees you can rely on to keep you full, including breakfast burritos, power bowls and salads with all the fixings and house-made dressings.
Prepared By A Nutrition Focused Chef
As head chef at Island Life, I’m also a health nut. So when I think of our menu each week, I want to be sure our meals have health benefits as well as a great taste. We love veggies, healthy fats and lean meats, so if you’re looking for healthy meals to fit into your busy schedule, our selection is perfect for you! (As a side note, we also offer personalized meal prep as well).
We welcome everyone at Island Life and part of our commitment to this ideal involves crafting meals for different dietary needs. Most of our meals are already vegetarian or vegan but we generally have an option to add an animal protein for anyone that wants it!
Not having time to shop for and cook healthy meals is the most frequent reason people give for not maintaining a healthy diet. It takes time to select ingredients that are good for you and prepare them in a way that is nutritionally beneficial. On average, Americans eat out four to five times a week, and typically these restaurant meals are much higher in calories than a meal you would prepare at home, often half of your recommended calories for an entire day in just one meal!
That’s why we try to make it easy! For healthy meals at an affordable price with quick pick-up, swing by our cafe, order online or check out our menu for this week.