Monday, November 25, 2013

HUGE Thank you! 20% OFF Special Thru Nov. 30th

Sometimes, I have to check my LinkedIn account to remind myself of how many years I've been in business producing Jerky Chews. It tells me just a little over 3 years. That first year I was actually making the jerky and printing the packaging at home on my own, and a lot of my first customers continue to show support for the product three years later.

After a year in business, I partnered with a family-owned USDA jerky facility where my recipes are hand-crafted and packaged by a small production team. Every few weeks small batches are produced, so you can enjoy a fresh and pure jerky product made from 100% grass-fed beef. I have stuck to my mission to only source grass-fed meat from US ranchers, because besides the meat being fresh and nutritious, we are keeping a sustainable environment and local economy alive via Jerky Chews!

Believe it or not, I am grateful for the heartaches and obstacles that come with running a small business all on my own (of course, I wouldn't be doing this without the amazing support from family and friends). I've learned so much and continue to grow as a health-actualizing entrepreneur. Your feedback and continued loyalty is what's been hugely fulfilling and helpful in making progress these three years.

My customers range from strict autoimmune protocol eaters to avid grass-fed enthusiasts, and athletes to teething babies (turns out, sugar/gluten/soy-free jerky works great for massaging their gums). Not to mention that a plethora of corporate offices are starting to stock the Chews for their hard-working and well deserving of a nutrient-dense snack employees.

As we are approaching Thanksgiving, it is only fitting to extend my gratitude with a 20% discount on ALL flavors and sizes of Jerky Chews. It's a limited offer that ends November 30th. Remember, Sophia's Survival Food is still a small business, working on providing quality and customer satisfaction. Now go stock up before I change my mind! :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sauerkraut Soup with Jerky Chews - 21DSD - Day 4

Day 4 of the sugar detox and I've noticed I am snacking less and less with each day. Before, I was having to eat periodically to keep my energy levels up.

Today, finally, I was able to satiate my hunger with a total of two big meals. One of the meals consisted of two servings of yesterday's wild salmon and veggie stir-fry. The other meal was a variation of Borscht - a soup from the Eastern European culinary tradition that incorporates fermented sour foods, specifically sour beets. But since beets are off limits on the sugar detox, I used the homemade fermented kraut I had at my fingertips in the fridge. Score! For protein, I added re-hydrated Jerky Chews for a change (soaked in broth for an hour prior to cooking). Since no preservatives are added in Jerky Chews, they were incredibly moist and flavorful. Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

  • 2 bags of Jerky Chews in 2oz, cut into 1 inch pieces 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil 
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups, diced potatoes or brassicas of your choice
  • 2 cups, homemade sauerkraut
  • 5 cups broth or water
  • 2 Tbsp. grass-fed gelatin 
  • Real Salt or another unrefined sea salt of your choice. 
  • Black pepper
  1. For about an hour, soak Jerky Chews in broth prior to cooking. 
  2. Heat coconut oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent. 
  3. Add carrots, potatoes, sauerkraut and broth/water to the pot, and bring to a boil.
  4. After the soup comes to a boil, cover with a lid slightly cracked and bring to a simmer for 1/2 hour until the fresh veggies and potatoes are tender.
  5. Taste it and mix in the gelatin and seasoning. 
  6. The flavors will blend more throughly if you let the soup sit.
  7. Serve warm with a dollop of homemade mayo. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Grandma's Sauerkraut - 21DSD - Day 3

I am feeling a little better since yesterday's kitchen mishap. Surprisingly, I didn't feel the need to bury my sorrows in a pint of ice-cream. My sugar cravings are actually okay; my energy, on the other hand, could be better. But that could be due to the injury, not the detox. Or maybe both?

We've been enjoying more fermented sauerkraut during the sugar detox. What's not to like about fermented veggies? They complement every meal, and because I filled a huge jar with kraut, there is enough to feed us for weeks, which means less pressure on me to come up with a new side dish everyday. You could say that we are boring by eating the same thing, but kraut, in many traditional cuisines, is a routine element. Germans consume it with gusto and Koreans are so big on kimchi that they eat it with every meal. Eastern European's happen to love their fermented veggies, too. Kraut was one of the first foods we grabbed when we were shopping for breakfast options in Slovenia. It also doesn't hurt that the health-promoting properties of fermented veggies stimulate stomach acid production, which aids in better digestion of foods, especially meats. And you know how much we love grass-fed meat around here. :)

The sauerkraut recipe I usually prepare is my grandmother's version. Her family grew up making big wooden barrels of this stuff and eating it all through the Russian winter. But now she lives on her own and in a much warmer climate, with access to just about anything she wants. Instead of giving up on this ancient tradition, she continues it to this day by using a simplified method. These are pics of her demonstrating the process.

Grandma's 3-day Kraut ferment


  • wide-mouth mason or clip-top glass jar (64 -oz) 
  • plate that fits inside jar or two plastic forks (food grade and compostable, anti-plastic purists stay calm)
  • paper towel or cheesecloth 

  • 2 large head of green cabbage
  • 4 carrots 
  • Real Salt or another unrefined sea salt of your choice. 
  1. Slice cabbage into halves, cut out the hearts. Take one half and chop it into strips on a cutting board. Grate 2 carrots separately and add to the chopped cabbage. Sprinkle a tablespoon of salt. 
  2. Mix ingredients with your hands and squeeze to force the water out a bit. Transfer the mixture to a jar and tamp it down until juices release some more. I like to use a wood roller pin. 
  3. Repeat 2 and 3 for the second half of the cabbage.  
  4. Pack remaining content into the same jar and tamp it again. You want to fill about 90% of the jar, so cut up the second head of cabbage if needed. 
  5. Cover kraut with a plate and a weight or like my grandmother has been doing for years: take 2 plastic forks, overlapping at the center to form an "x" - press them into the walls of the jar and top of kraut. This should keep kraut submerged under the brine. 
    This ferment also had red bell pepper added
  6. Cover the whole thing with paper towel or cloth to keep creatures out. 
  7. Store the jar at room temperature. I prefer on the counter but out of the way. 
  8. Everyday, for the duration of the ferment, open the cloth and release the bubble with a wooden skewer by pressing down in between the forks. Remember to cover again and set aside. Repeat for 3 days.
  9. Transfer to the fridge and enjoy. Because my family likes a crunchy and slightly sour kraut, we ferment for only 3 days. But if you are looking for a variation that is more sour and probably higher in probiotic content, check out Balanced Bites recipe.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Food ideas to stay on track - 21DSD - Day 2

How did you start your day? Hopefully, a little better than I did. On our second day of the 21-Day Sugar Detox, the kitchen knife attacked me. As I was quickly cutting up a daikon radish for my home ferment, the knife slipped out of my hand and fell vertically on my foot, with the sharp edge down, of course. The chef reading this will tell me to sharpen my knives, I'm on it. I am okay; just left with a little wound to commemorate the attack. I hope I didn't freak you out, Mom.

While I'm taking a little break from my kitchen today, I wanted to share with you the foods I've prepared and bought to help us stay on track during the detox. We are more likely to slip up when there isn't anything in place of fast food. In our case, fast food is not your typical junk food, it's the plethora of seasonal oranges and persimmons growing outside our house that are very tempting to grab on the go. But I am saving those for after the detox; it will be interesting to know how sensitive my palate will be to the natural fruit sugars, and perhaps my desire to inhale two at a time will be ceased.

So here are some of the items that help us stay on track:

Fermented Veggies You might have already heard about the health benefit of fermented foods, Diane talks about it extensively and has a recipe for how to make sauerkraut on her blog and Practical Paleo book. My family has always been making and eating sauerkraut, but only in the last couple of years learned of its probiotic and lactic acid content that helps balance the gut flora and aid digestion. We have since started to ferment other veggies; a mix of carrots, radishes, and celery. I don't really like these veggies raw, but the fermentation makes them rather palatable and easy to digest. If I'm craving a snack, a tablespoon of sauerkraut or couple pieces of fermented carrots come to the rescue. I love that they have a long shelf-life and compliment just about every meal - we often eat some kind of protein with fat, starch, and kraut. And the preparation is simple; just takes a few days to ferment, so make sure to make in advance.

Homemade Mayo This is another great ingredient that's simple to prepare (in just a few minutes) and versatile, can be used to dress eggs, salad, or served as a dip for veggies, options are endless. Basic mayo is made up of egg yolk, salt, mustard, vinegar, and oil. It's actually a very nutritious food, but the stuff sold in stores is made with preservatives and inflammatory industrial oils, like soybean and canola that we completely eliminated from our diet. So the 3 minutes that it takes to make mayo at home are so worth it. Make it in advance and you can have tuna/salmon salad for lunch or dinner in a pinch. Now you have no excuse. I love Nom Nom Paleo's mayo recipe, but do prefer using a blender. :)

Portable Protein and Fats I didn't make Jerky Chews just because. When you are out of the house, it's good to have portable protein to ward of hunger and actually stay satiated between meals. And just because you are out and about, doesn't mean you have to stop eating healthy. Look for options with clean real food ingredients that do not launch your blood sugar into a roller coaster ride. Besides beef jerky, hard boiled eggs and canned salmon or tuna are good portable options. Coconut cream and oil are my favorite fats to eat when I'm craving something sweet. I have no self-control with nut butters, so don't keep any in the house. If that's not the case with you, get it. Pick what works best for you and stick with it.

Good thing we have some left over meat from last night, all I got to do now is add pre-prepared sauerkraut and mayo and dinner is served. Even battle scars cant stop us from eating well!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cevapi - Minced Meat! 21DSD - Day 1

Cevapi - tastier than it looks! :)
Today, my hubby and I kicked-off our first ever 21 Day Sugar Detox, written and created by Diane Sanfilippo. After traveling for three weeks on our honeymoon, often eating out for all our main meals, our bodies were begging for a reset with food made at home using clean ingredients; sans added sugar and flour/fillers. 

Our day started with sweet potato fries cooked in duck fat, smoked salmon, and a side of homemade sauerkraut. Because we do lead pretty active lives, we will continue to incorporate starchy tubers (yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes). For lunch, I had packed Broiled Wild Salmon and zoodles that I prepared the night before. The salmon recipe is from The 21 Day Sugar Detox; very simple and fast to prepare, and super tasty! Snacks for the day: one green apple and a bag of Jerky Chews.

For tonight's dinner, I wanted to recreate Cevapi. It's Bosnia - Herzegovina's national dish of minced meat rolled into cylinders, typically served in flatbread with raw onions. Cevapi actually means cylinder in Bosnian and reminiscent of the Turkish kofta kebabs. No surprise there, the Turks greatly influenced the local cuisine during their invasion centuries back, and why you'll find variations of the dish in other parts of Eastern Europe. I personally like the simple lamb and beef variety I'm happy to share with you. 

Cevapi Ingredients:

  1. Heat butter oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the chopped garlic and white onion, sauté until translucent. 
  2. Meanwhile, mix the lamb, beef, eggs, paprika, and salt in a bowl. 
  3. Add the cooked onion and garlic into the mixture. Mix well.
  4. Shape with your hands into 2 inch cylinders and arrange in a baking pan. Refrigerate covered for one hour to overnight, to let the flavors fully marinate. 
  5. When ready, preheat oven and cook on Broil, 6 minutes per side or until no longer pink in the middle. You can also grill or pan fry. 
  6. Enjoy with sliced tomatoes and onions, accompanied with your choice of veggies instead of bread. 
  7. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

21-Day Sugar Detox - Post Honeymoon

Fresh from my honeymoon trip to Eastern Europe, specifically Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia - Herzegovina, I'm inspired to recreate the tasty, savory dishes we ate. For three weeks, my hubby and I submerged ourselves in the local delicious cuisine without paying too much attention to sugar, gluten, or dairy. We would try to seek out food that represents the country's culinary tradition, so for the most part our meals were rich in variety and homemade, using seasonal ingredients. Though, we did indulge in more than our share of tourist traps, like Gelato and authentic homemade sweets anytime we took a tea/coffee break (at times up to 3/day). Blah, I know.

Since we eat out more when we travel, we don't keep as close to the dietary lifestyle that we would at home. We stick to a Paleo template at home (avoiding industrial seed oils, processed sugar, and gluten containing grains), primarily for maintaining good health and preventing obesity, diabetes, and metabolic disease that are so prevalent in America. We both have relatives whose lives have been plagued by such conditions, so paying close attention to our bodies and fueling up on foods that are nutrient-dense and of high quality is important to us; which is why I created Grass Fed Jerky Chews in the first place. And having the Chews on hand did deter us from tourist traps, for the most part, just not enough to completely resist the delicate flavors of homemade treats specific to the region we visited.  

So upon our return home, I made a pact with my hubby to jump on the gluten and sugar detox. Fortunately, there is an easy to follow customizable guide available by Diane Sanfilippo called the 21-Day Sugar Detox, that's soon to be available in print. I've personally known Diane for a couple of years now and I'm really happy for her achievements, she works her butt off to make it easier for YOU to adopt a real food lifestyle. Definitely read up more on her Balanced Bites blog if you haven't yet.

The online support group for the 21 Day Sugar Detox guide had already started beginning of this month, but I am thinking of just jumping right in, this Monday, since the recipes from our honeymoon are still fresh in my head.

Along our detox journey, I hope to share with you some interesting recipes from our trip and some of the typical ones we make at home. I can't promise that I will have a new recipe everyday since I am also attending to your jerky orders, but I'll do my best!

Check in tomorrow for my kick-off post, and a new recipe, specific to Bosnia - Herzegovina!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Grass-fed Beef Stroganoff

For my mom's bday feast, we made one of her favorite dishes - Beef Stroganoff. Turns out it was her late father's favorite recipe that he liked to prepared for special occasions. This time around, we opted for making it as simple as possible because a) we were crunched for time preparing a big feast for friends and family on a Friday night (hence the lack of pretty pictures), and b) we wanted it to be dairy free. Just like the classic Russian dish calls for, we served Beef Stroganoff with mashed potatoes. We don't shun resistant starch in our household, as long as it's accompanied with fat and healthy acid. So grass-fed beef served with mashed potatoes topped with butter, and a glass of vino with dinner makes for one delicious and complete meal! 

Grass-fed Beef Stroganoff Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds of grass fed chuck roast, cut beef across grain into 1/4 inch thick strips - 2 inches in length (can't stress enough how important it is that the meat is high quality grass-fed to yield the tastiest results). If a raw chuck roast is hard for you to slice into strips, opt for either slightly freezing it first or using more tender cuts like grass-fed tenderloin or sirloin. 
  • 1 cup white onion, chopped 
  • 1 cup filtered water (or homemade beef stock if you have it on hand)
  • Real Salt 
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of fat of choice (we used coconut oil)

  1. Heat coconut oil in deep skillet/Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the chopped white onion and sauté until translucent. 
  2. Throw the beef strips in with the onions and cook until brown.
  3. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and stir to get the seasoning on all sides of beef.
  4. Stir in 1 cup of filtered water or homemade beef stock. 
  5. Cover and simmer 30 minutes until meat is tender and ready to add to mashed potatoes that you prepared in the meantime. Enjoy!

Spicy home-marinated tomatoes in vinegar sauce are delicious with
Beef Stroganoff and white potatoes 

NOTE: We didn't have quality dairy on hand so we just excluded it all together. If you tolerate dairy or want to give coconut milk a try, Mark's Daily Apple has a tasty traditional recipe.

Friday, August 16, 2013

BBQ Beef Jerky Experiment

Fresh BBQ flavored beef jerky.
We decided to experiment with a new flavor of beef jerky. I wanted to learn the jerky making process and had a preference for trying a barbeque flavored product. Barbeque sauce beef jerky ended up being an excellent option for those who enjoy/tolerate sweeter foods and want to try a much sweeter type of jerky. We followed the traditional preparation methods used at a USDA facility today when it comes to slicing, marinating, and racking the meat. However, since we dried the meat at home, we used equipment that is different from the professional dehydrator ovens and safety regulations applied at the USDA facility. - Jonathan, Sophia's summer assistant

  1. 4 lbs of meat
  2. 1 cup of Annie's Organic BBQ Sweet & Spicy sauce (Water, tomato paste, cane sugar,distilled white vinegar, sea salt, garlic, caramel color, onion, natural smoke flavor, chili pepper, cayenne).
  3. 2 tbls of salt
  4. 1 tbls dry mustard
  5. 1/2 tbls onion powder
  6. 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  7. 1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
  8. 1/2 cup water
  • Pre-freeze the meat for about 2-3 hours for easier slicing.
  • Cut the meat using a sharp knife or a slicer.
Slicing the meat.
  • Measure out the spices, sugar, and water in separate bowls.
  • Mix the ingredients.
  • Stir until the ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout the main bowl.
  • Add the meat into the bowl with the liquid ingredients and mix thoroughly to coat all sides.
  • Refrigerate the meat overnight.
  • Evenly rack the meat onto dehydrater trays making sure to not overlap pieces.
Racking the meat.
  • Dry the meat at 145 degrees for 5-6 hours or until desired hardness is reached.
  • Enjoy right off the trays or store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Finished product.

Over the course of the last month and a half, Jonathan, an incoming junior in high school, was helping me over at the business. I offered him a summer internship, not knowing what to expect exactly. Fortunately, Jonathan's punctuality, diligence, and passion to help shined through immediately. He picked up new tasks with ease and made an effort to always contribute with ideas on how to bring more traffic to the site and get people excited about a clean beef jerky product. It was a joy to have such a smart intern around the office! I was touched by the following short, but sweet post he wrote about his experience:

"As summer draws to close, so does my internship at Sophia's Survival Food. It has been a great experience as I learned unique knowledge about the beef jerky industry. I shipped and packaged orders, wrote blog posts, and we even made a new beef jerky recipe.
            Overall, the experience I have gained from this internship has given me riveting knowledge about the beef jerky industry and hands-on work experience for the first time." - Jonathan

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fermenting Cucumbers Recipe

Upon learning that my summer assistant Jonathan is a fan of cucumbers, especially pickles, I wanted to make sure we got to making them ourselves before his internship was over; Jonathan goes back to Junior year of high school in just a week. Where did the summer go? In the midst of processing orders last Friday, we picked up fresh ingredients from the local Farmers Market for our home ferment. I'll let Jonathan take it from here with his summary of the recipe and experience.

Farmers Market Pickling Cucumbers.

About a week ago, Sophia and I choose to avoid the preservative-filled pickles sold in major food stores and traveled to the local farmers market in search of ingredients to ferment cucumbers. We purchased 8 cucumbers and sprigs of fresh dill to supplement some other ingredients.  
  1. 3 - 4 pickling cucumbers
  2. 2 sprigs of fresh dill
  3. 1 - 1.5 tablespoons of sea salt per 2 cups of filtered water until all veggies are submerged.
  4. 1 bunch of organic dill
  5. 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  6. 1 grape leaf (recommended to give the crunch, but we opted out because we couldn't find any fresh leaves)
  7. 1 optional teaspoon of whey to speed up the process.
Fermented Pickles.

To actually put the ingredients to work, first prepare a sterile, glass jar that can fit the appropriate number of cucumbers. Add 1.5-2 cups of water depending on the amount required to fully submerge the cucumbers underwater. Then, include the right ratio of salt, you can even taste the water to make sure it's salty, but not to a point that you can't drink it. Make sure the salt is properly stirred and is evenly dispersed throughout the container. Lastly, add about 2-3 sprigs of fresh cucumbers, 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, dill, grape leaf, and potentially 1 teaspoon of whey and be certain to thoroughly mix the ingredient-filled water. Now, there is nothing one can do but wait to see how their fermented pickles will turn out to be in about a week's time.
After four days of fermentation, our pickles turned out to be delicious but just a tad under-salted and less crunchy then desired. To ensure crunchier pickles, be sure to leave the pickles in the jar for a couple days more ( 1- 2 weeks) than we did and add a fresh grape leaf.
       Overall, fermenting cucumbers is a great way to prepare a homemade nutritious snack that promotes good digestion due to naturally occurring live cultures. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fitness Exposition

I'm Jonathan and interning at Sophia's Survival Food. Here's my brief blog post about the Fitness Exposition we checked out end of June.

This year's northern California Fitness Exposition was held at the Santa Clara Convention Center and featured everything from sandwich vendors to parkour to professional bodybuilding competitions.
Crossfit athlete competes in a relay.
Upon first entry into the facility, we were amazed by the overwhelming number of fit individuals. However, no competitions were anywhere near the entrance. Instead, lining the entrance were booths and vendors distributing items such as protein shakes and green-colored substances supposedly designed to help build muscle.
Once we moved past the vending area, we saw the first highlight of the convention: cross-fit athletes competing in a relay that required both physical and cardiovascular strength. In another area, competitions continued as enormous bodybuilders performed their maximum number of power-cleans using a bar that was around 400 #s.
On the other side of the convention, a different type of bodybuilders attempted to perform a single back squat with a 940 pound bar lying on the back of their shoulders. After watching a man almost drop the bar on himself, we moved on to watch children and adolescents do parkour and jujitsu.

Young girls practice jujitsu in front of a crowd. 
After about an hour of watching the convention move along, we decided to hand out a few bags of grass-fed beef jerky. Both the cross-fit organizer and the law enforcement booth gladly accepted the samples of jerky.
Overall, the convention was entertaining and productive for both of us as we compared the healthiness of clean, natural beef jerky to the chemical-filled food that was distributed at the convention.

Friday, July 12, 2013

History of Beef Jerky

I'm Jonathan and interning at Sophia's Survival Food. Here's my brief blog post about beef jerky's history.

Beef jerky has evolved considerably from its small-scale manufacturing to its production all across the world. Far before artificial preservatives even existed, some of the earliest humans discovered that sun drying and salting different types of meat preserves it from rotting or decaying. 

Native Americans, along with early American settlers, also discovered how to preserve meat with ingredients found in nature.

Once the rapid colonization of the Americas began, hoards of Spanish settlers arrived and discovered the uniqueness of the taste of beef jerky. They named the product "Charqui"; adding an accent leads to "jerky."
Since then, beef jerky has served different kinds of people including soldiers, travelers, and sailors. Beef jerky provides the crucial protein that all of these occupations require.
About 500 years after the colonization of the Americas, beef jerky has gone down a far different road than when it first originated. The once all natural product, is now filled with heaps of preservatives designed to maintain a shelf-life of one-to-two years. Beef jerky was not meant to sit in an open container waiting to be eaten for months, if not years.
However, despite the rampant use of preservatives in beef jerky, Sophia's Survival Food strives to return jerky to its original condition by limiting preservatives to natural ingredients such as salt and through the utilization of grass-fed beef.
Today, the direction of beef jerky is divided between one that uses extensive preservatives and Sophia's Survival Food which utilizes all-natural ingredients. Ultimately, Sophia's Survival Food hopes to return beef jerky to the Native American method of preparation.
For more information check out:

Some temporary developments over at Sophia's Survival Food!

It's summertime and the kids are out of school; so when one motivated teen came knocking on my door with desire to lend a hand at Sophia's Survival Food, I jumped in happiness with open arms to offer a Teen Writer/Marketer internship.

Who is this charming teen?

My name is Jonathan Friedland and I am an incoming junior at Los Gatos High School.


In my spare time, I love to play sports including: hockey, mountain biking, and skiing.

Vegetable of choice:



My inspiration in life is a general desire to help people in life.

Jonathan will be helping out with processing orders and shipping. He will also put his incredible writing skills to use by taking over this blog. Here he will spread the word about real grass-fed jerky and health/wellness in general. Jonathan’s help will greatly speed things up around here and allow us time to volunteer, attend local health events, explore the farmers markets, and prepare/develop recipes we can share with you.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sierra National Forest excursion

Hiking in the Sierra National Forest with Jerky Chews serving as perfect fuel!

Mid-hike snack break - Jerky Chews

The moon is peeking through

Checking out Waugh Lake Dam

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My Vintage (food) Wedding

Some of you may already know that I got married the weekend of June 1st. It was a good time spent with the closest family and friends. Back when I got engaged (half a year ago) I knew from the start that I wanted something very intimate with delicious, savory food and fun entertainment. All the other details we pieced together with personal touches; designed and put together invites...

...table numbers,
Imaginite Photography

...and photobooth (thanks to the self-managing photobooth apps you can now easily download and then customize to your liking).

Soon after I got engaged, I found the only off-white dress sold at a local vintage shop (that happened to fit me) and the choice inspired the ‘50s theme for our day. My talented mom made some alterations to the dress by adding a blue ribbon belt that she embellished with ‘50s jewels. She also sewed on a petticoat lined with a blue ribbon to match the belt and to complete the flirty retro look. I don’t wear dresses much these days, but find old-fashioned ones that define the waist to be feminine and quite flattering. Sticking to eating lots of grass-fed meats and seasonal cooked and fermented veggies over the years has helped keep my waist trim, so I embrace wearing what I love. :)

San Francisco wedding photographerSasha Photography 
You could say that the menu I chose for the wedding is vintage as well. I hired Chef Simone of Zenbelly Organic Catering after having attended one of her very tasty popups in February and looks like she has another one coming up this month - check here! She is local to SF and understands the needs of a Paleo bride, making it easy to compile a delicious menu consisting of traditional food made from quality, locally sourced ingredients sans fillers (gluten) and industrial oils. Just take a look, starting with hors d’oeuvres: 

...horseradish cream and whitefish over latkes,

...beets and goat cheese on gluten-free crostini (from Mariposa Baking Company)

...and grain-free crackers with liver pate.

On top of that my family procured other traditional appetizers typical of a Russian/Jewish kitchen: pickled cucumbers/tomatoes/cabbage, smoked fish, egg roe and crepes, cow tongue (source: Brandon Natural Beef), and gefilte fish. Here is a pic of leftovers from the next day.

And finally, Zenbelly pulled through with her deliciously-made entrees (served family size): Wild salmon with dijon herb butter with a side of asparagus, and Fallon Hills lamb with a side of rosemary and garlic buttered potatoes (sorry, my photographers didn’t get this one at the wedding, but Zenbelly does have the pic from her February Popup that sealed the deal for us. Such tasty stuff that people thought it was beef - no aftertaste).

It was a showcase of the best local, seasonal, organic food. Exactly how I’ve been eating and what I’ve been treating my family and friends to for a while. In case you didn’t notice earlier in the post - favors that served as table placements were of Jerky Chews. How else to get your brand out there, other than through personal samples? Shameless marketing :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Banana Gelatin Snack

Banana jiggly snack made with grass-fed gelatin
While growing up in Russia, my mom would make from scratch simple treats for only special occasions. One of my memories is of her making a basic fresh fruit, Jell-O-like pie: thin crust, topped with raw sliced fruit, covered with a clear gel. Little did we know, it was actually nutritious. Unlike the American store-bought layered cakes made with artificial food coloring, corn starch/syrup, and thick sugary white frosting, my mom's basic gel pie actually contains vitamines from whole fresh fruit and good source of protein from gelatin.

When I saw Great Lakes Gelatin making its rounds with real food book authors/bloggers recently, my recollection of those delicious gel pies from childhood came back. I instantly ordered the gelatin and asked Mom to help me replicate her signature recipe. But since my mom hasn't baked treats in over 17 years, she actually didn't know what I was talking about for the longest time, and I don't blame her. Soon after we moved to America, to a land of plenty, we opted for the convenience of buying already-baked treats from grocery stores, and on a regular basis. Fortunately, over the last couple of years, we opened our eyes to how the food industry operates and been receptive to how food choices impact our health. 

While I'm modifying my mom's gelatin pie recipe so that it's completely gluten-free and paleo-friendly, I wanted to share in the meantime this gelatin fruit snack that only requires three ingredients: 

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (preferably from grass-fed beef like Great Lakes)
1 cup boiling water
1 organic banana 

Mash banana into a bowl. Stir to dissolve 2 teaspoons of gelatin in 1 cup boiling water. Pour the galatin mixture over the banana and cool, refrigerate until set. 

Enjoy the delicious and nutritious protein-rich treat!