Tuesday, February 6, 2018

McKenzie Deli at Shaw's: A New Year's Resolution

*This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting those who support Chow Down USA! Photography by Brad Bahner.

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Can you believe it's already February? How many of you are keeping up with your New Year's Resolutions? One of mine was to bring lunch into the office more often, since I spend SO much on eating out (it adds up quick)! To keep myself motivated, I'm on a mission to find really delicious recipes and super fresh, healthy ingredients.

McKenzie Deli Meats at Shaw's



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So when I heard about McKenzie deli meats being available at Shaw's Supermarket, I got super excited! They boast some of the healthiest (read: cleanest / most natural) meats you can find, are locally grown in Vermont, and have been in the industry for over 100 years - so they know what they're doing!

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Here's a little more info on what makes McKenzie meats a better choice:

100% Natural
Raised without antibiotics
Sourced from independent farms
No growth hormones
Vegetarian fed
Gluten-free
No added nitrates

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I tried the Roast Beef and Oven Roasted turkey, and they were really good - so fresh and healthy!

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mckenzie-deli-meats-shaws

After watching too many Netflix documentaries about the horror stories of how food is often grown and cultivated, I'm honestly so glad for companies like McKenzie that keep it 100% natural and clean! Now that it's available at Shaw's, it's convenient for me to pick up and create delicious sandos like this for work, thus keeping up with my New Year's Resolutions!

Comment Challenge: Have you tried McKenzie deli meats? What are your thoughts on more natural ingredients? 


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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Travel Guide to Luberon, France: Part 2 - Lavender Museum

*Note: This is a sponsored post, thanks for supporting those who support Chow Down USA! All opinions are my own.

   
Lavender-Museum-Provence-Luberon-France

South of France Travel Guide to Luberon Coeur de Provence: Lavender Museum, Chateau du Bois


After exploring the medieval city of Lourmarin, we were excited to visit the Chateau du Bois Lavender Museum to pick up some great scented products. Little did we know, we would actually leave with an eye-opening education in the world of lavender, its beneficial properties, and how to spot the real from the fake!

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The first thing we learned honestly blew our mind: The "true" lavender (aka lavande fine or fine lavender), can only be grown in specific regions in France, and this lavender is the only one with beneficial properties (more on those below). 

There are many lavender-scented products sold in the U.S. and internationally which claim to help you relax, get to sleep, etc., but many of those are a hybrid plant (lavandine) which is much cheaper to cultivate and made only to simulate the scent of lavender, without any of its beneficial properties. Crazy, right?

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The dark purple on the map above shows where the fine lavender is grown in France. Check for the "AOP" label to ensure that you're buying the real deal! Others (in the light purple area) cultivate the hybrid lavadine, which has a similar scent but with none of the benefits. It's cheaper to make, which is sadly driving out the real lavender industry.

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Fine lavender in the form of 100% pure and natural essential oil is said to help with the following:

Insomnia (2-3 drops on your pillow)
Irritability (sprayed into the air)
Headaches (massage on temples)
Stress (5-6 drops in the bath)
Cuts, burns, bedsores, sunburn, insect bites (1-2 drops)
Eczema (2-3 drops on cotton wool smoothed on patch)
Colds (1-2 drops)
Sore throats (1-2 drops on sugar cube or spoonful of honey)
Cramps and rheumatism (rub in several drops)

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Lavender-Museum-Provence-Luberon-France

Lavender-Museum-Provence-Luberon-France

These are the outfits that were worn to gather lavender centuries ago.

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Copper still from the 16th century.

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Lavender-Museum-Provence-Luberon-France

Fun fact: The method for distilling alcohol is the same as that for distilling essential oils like lavender. So provincial farmers would make alcohol in the winter and essential oils like lavender in the summer. 

Napolean called for no tax on alcohol, but when that changed, French police shot holes in the copper stills to make sure no one was secretly making it on their farm. This in turn affected the lavender industry since they were no longer able to use their stills for essential oil distillation either. In the pictures above you can see the bullet holes in the stills.

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Lavender-Museum-Provence-Luberon-France

Hope you enjoyed learning about the lavender industry as much as we did! Be sure to check your lavender products for the A.O.P. label to make sure you're getting the real deal!

Comment Challenge: Have you ever tried real lavender? How did you like it?
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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Travel Guide to Luberon, France: Part 1 - Medieval Town & Castle of Lourmarin

*Note: This is a sponsored post, thanks for supporting those who support Chow Down USA! All opinions are my own.

Travel-Guide-Luberon-Provence-South-of-France-Lourmarin

Luberon Coeur de Provence is a picturesque region in the Provence province of southeastern France. The wonderful Anne took us on a tour of the region, including biking, strolling, and eating our way through some of the most beautiful cities in France, visits to medieval castles, a lavender museum, wine tasting, and the cutest bed & breakfast you'll ever see! Follow along on this five-part travel guide through the South of France! 

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South of France Travel Guide to Luberon Coeur de Provence: Lourmarin


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1. Visit the Medieval Town & Castle of Lourmarin


Lourmarin is a charming and picturesque town perched atop a small hill to the south of the Luberon Valley. This village is filled with stone buildings, narrow winding streets, outdoor cafes, galleries, cute boutiques, centuries-old fountains and 3 towers: the belfry, the Catholic church and the "temple," or Protestant church. it is also home to the Ch√Ęteau de Lourmarin, a converted castle from the 12th century! It's hard to even fathom what life was like back then, but strolling through this quaint medieval village is as close to a time machine as you can get.

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Travel-Guide-Luberon-Provence-South-of-France-Lourmarin

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Gazing off at Proches Bastides, a large fortified farmhouse dating back to the Middle Ages. 

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I got the freshest olives and a soft red sweater from the local farmer's market. 

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Travel-Guide-Luberon-Provence-South-of-France-Lourmarin

In 1348, the Bubonic Plague wiped out most of the inhabitants of Lourmarin, with the few survivors fleeing the village. In 1475, the Lord of the region Foulques d'Agoult encouraged families from the Southern Alps to settle here, and they began to build the castle. 

The castle has two parts - one was built in the medieval period (1475-1526), and the other was built in Renaissance style (1526-1560), making it the first Renaissance style castle in Provence. 

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Travel-Guide-Luberon-Provence-South-of-France-Lourmarin

Travel-Guide-Luberon-Provence-South-of-France-Lourmarin

View of the farmhouse and village from the castle.

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Peering down at the old chateau's medieval interior courtyard. 

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This octagonal tower encompasses a spiral staircase. In medieval times, the stairs always twisted clockwise so that soldiers defending the castle had the advantage over their attackers whose swords, always held in the right hand, would be hampered by the central column. I love fun tidbits like that!

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These rooms are from the Renaissance wing of the castle, which house a collection of art and furniture owned by Robert Laurent-Vibert, who saved the castle from destruction in 1920. 

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Travel-Guide-Luberon-Provence-South-of-France-Lourmarin

Travel-Guide-Luberon-Provence-South-of-France-Lourmarin

Stay tuned for the rest of the travel guide to Luberon, coming soon!



Comment Challenge: Have you been to Luberon or France? What was your favorite part of the trip?

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