“…caffeine is a curse, addicting us to a regime that makes us more tractable and productive workers, speeding us up so that we may better keep pace with the manmade machinery of modern life.”
-Michael Pollan, “This Is Your Mind On Plants”
Caffeine, the ultimate blessing and curse wrapped up in a cute mug. We know we shouldn’t drink too much, but now we’re hooked. Americans drink up to 400 million cups of coffee, not in a year, not in a month but daily. It is time to quit coffee?
Technically, coffee comes from a plant. So we’re drinking plants; how bad can that be? Ultimately the coffee high that starts our days creates a “chasing the dragon” effect of repetitive energy bursts and crashes. Although caffeine is found naturally in leaves, seeds, and the fruits of many plants, it also has some unhealthy downsides.
But fear not! There are plenty of great-tasting healthy alternatives to boost your energy and power you through the holiday season. Not only can they help you to maintain consistent energy, some of them even taste like coffee.
Why Take A Break From Caffeine
Caffeine found in plants is actually nature’s built-in defense mechanism giving it natural herbicide and pest-repellent powers. At some point, humans, ancient warriors, and scholars who had work to do, stumbled upon its wonders in the form of cacao beans, tea leaves, kola nuts, and the bean that can now be found on every modern urban corner, the coffee.
Caffeine can not only lead to crashes in energy; your body can build a dependence on a daily cup or four of coffee. In addition, large amounts of caffeine consumed daily can negatively affect mood, sleep patterns, and leave long-lasting effects on major organ systems.
What’s So Terrible About Caffeine
Caffeine is essentially the chemical component of coffee plants. The resulting jolt of energy can cause numerous undesirable side effects that, over the long run, can be much more severe than just insomnia. Drinking more than four servings of caffeine a day can contribute to:
Breast tissue cysts
What To Know Before You Take a Break From Caffeine
While we may not think of caffeine as a mind-altering type of drug, it is a central nervous system stimulant that falls into that drug category. If you are thinking of taking a break from your black tea or coffee, there are a few things you should take into account first:
Cut down on your caffeine consumption slowly. Gradually reduce your consumption over 2-3 weeks to avoid withdrawal symptoms like headache, fatigue, and drowsiness.
Switch for decaf. Try alternating decaf and caffeinated tea or coffee to reduce your intake.
Set a time limit. Commit to a cut-off time to quit drinking caffeinated beverages each day.
Swap it out. Switch out your caffeinated beverage for a healthy energy-giving option, like the ones listed below.
Five Great Energy-Giving Substitutes For Caffeine
One of the best upsides to swapping out caffeinated beverages is that you might find even healthier options with their alternatives. Many alternatives are nutrient-dense and provide longer-lasting energy to avoid the typical crashes associated with drinking caffeinated beverages.
1. Cold Pressed Juices
Fresh cold-pressed juices are nutrient-dense and offer a natural way to support your body in giving you energy. Drinking juice is the equivalent of liquid nutrition, which gives your digestive system a break from dissecting the nutrients from processed drinks. This leads to faster absorption of nutrients giving your body a natural jump-start without the caffeine.
Chicory Root in Dandy Blend
2. Chicory Root Powder
If you are a coffee lover who just misses the taste, chicory root can be roasted like coffee beans into a coffee-like alternative, giving you comfort without the caffeine. Chicory root comes from a plant with bright blue flowers used for centuries in France, South Africa, and now Nebraska. Used for centuries in natural medicine and cooking the root is powdered root is hailed for its ability to regulate blood sugar, aid digestion, and help with weight loss. Products like Dandy Blend are easy to prepare and hard to differentiate from true coffee.
If you are missing a warm mug in your hand in the morning, Golden Milk is an excellent substitute for caffeinated tea or coffee. It is traditionally made by combining warm milk with spices such as; cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and sometimes a dash of honey. It has long been thought to boost immunity and reduce inflammation in the body.
4. Rooibos Tea
For the tea lovers who double up their black tea leaves for an extra caffeine kick, Rooibos Tea is caffeine free and makes a great alternative or even an option to alternate with your coffee if your ultimate goal is just to cut back.
5. Brewed Cacao
Cacao is naturally bitter on its own and makes a solid substitution for a cup of dark coffee. The cacao beans are roasted similarly and have a similar flavor profile. Cacao is 99.9% caffeine free but contains theobromine, a naturally occurring phytonutrient that can give longer bursts of energy without the caffeine crash. You can customize your cacao drink by adding vanilla, cinnamon, or plant-based milk. In addition, adding superfoods like maca and reishi mushroom can boost its energy, giving powers even further!
Cottage food start-up sales, aided by food incubators, have soared from $5 billion annually in 2008 to over $20 billion annually in recent years. Chances are if you can make it, there is a market that will buy it – provided you are prepared to do more than just deliver the goods.
The benefits of bootstrapping a food start-up come from being able to dive right in without significant upfront costs, while the downside is a lack of resources that will allow you to grow consistently. However, food incubators offer a solution to a lack of resources so that you can have your cake and eat it too.
If you are known as the local chili specialist or have the chocolate lava cake recipe everyone is always asking for, then a specialty food business might be ripe for future success. While some homegrown food start-ups will grow to regional distribution in under a year, others will struggle to get out of the local farmer’s market.
What they have in common is that all food startups are started by real people with a concept they believe in. The difference between the two is strategic resources.
Photo Credit: Peerspace, Bite Unite Commercial Shared Kitchen
What Is A Food Incubator
To begin with, most cottage food businesses will be making high-value goods in low quantities, a sure recipe for quality but one lacking in a plan for scale and growth. No matter how good the idea is, you’ll need to front the investment for commercial space or a licensed home kitchen (depending on state law), equipment, and possibly most time-consuming, find your way through laws, licensing, and insurance.
The average start-up cost for a food business can easily be in the neighborhood of $100,000 before you’ve even labeled your first hot sauce.
The solution? Enter the food incubator model of the 1980s; a communally licensed and shared kitchen space. To “incubate” a business idea is to give resources to a fledgling idea before it leaves the nest.
Food incubator, shared kitchen, cloud kitchen, and ghost kitchen all refer to a magical place to start your food concept without the need for a big investment. These licensed commercial kitchens have been a place where small food business renters have the umbrella of shared preparation space, storage, and commercial equipment while sharing the costs with other creators. Kitchen incubators have allowed tens of thousands of “foodpreneurs” to start with minimal resources. These spaces can be rented hourly or monthly with limited contracts, allowing foodpreneurs who outgrow the space to move on and scale up without the liability of a long-term lease.
SAPi APP is an example of how a platform can make a great food incubator for a new business.
Kitchens aren’t the only business incubators available to hustling food entrepreneurs. A food APP platform, like Save A Plate (SAPi) , can also can address meaningful resource gaps as you grow. Food start-ups are more than the product. You can have the hottest biscuit in town, but without the ability to market, show proof of concept, and connect with your community, your biscuit will get cold.
This is where a digital platform, like a food APP, can help you fly. A crucial part of any operating budget is in marketing and sales. SAPi is a food incubator in the sense that it provides a shared platform of resources to reach a broader customer base. It also advertises for you, connecting your food concept to a local community looking for unique, fresh plates and products.
A food APP gives you the exposure you need without the legwork that usually follows. An APP also provides an organic marketing opportunity where the product pitch is coming from an established platform instead from just the creator. It also gives you a level of professionalism that is naturally associated with aligning yourself with a well-respected platform.
Utilizing a food incubator APP like SAPi will help you:
Reach new audiences.
Give you a place to trial concepts.
Save money on marketing costs.
Save valuable time.
Allow you to focus on the details of your product instead of sales.
Join the SAPi APP as a vendor, or find your local plate here.
Never Ending Holidays: The Top Five Recipes Leftover Turkey
The average size of a Thanksgiving turkey is 16 to 22 pounds – and one thing is absolute; you will nearly always have leftovers. There’s nothing worse than coming up short on the main course, which means we often cook a little more than necessary. What’s better than a piping hot glazed turkey? Leftover turkey. There’s something special that happens on the weekend over the holiday break where no one wants to cook again, football is on, and it just seems easier to grab for the leftovers.
There’s something about the way that holiday leftovers just keep the spirit going through the week. They’re the flavors we only have once a year…and the calories don’t count that week, right?
In honor of reducing food waste in tasty new ways, we have compiled the top five best ideas for leftover turkey.
How To Reinvent Leftovers With Thanksgiving Turkey
Photo: The Original Dish
1. Cranberry Turkey BLT
We all have a different version of the leftover turkey sandwich, but this one might just be the best. The Original Dish has the right idea taking leftover turkey breast with all the best parts of a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. This recipe also brings fresh life to leftover cranberries, renewing them as a cranberry bacon jam!
PHOTO BY JULIA GARTLAND PROP STYLIST: MEGAN HEDGPETH FOOD STYLIST: LAUREN LAPENNA.
2. Turkey Noodle Soup
When in doubt, put it in soup! This goes for many Thanksgiving leftovers; roasted vegetables, roasted potatoes, and turkey all make great soup ingredients. This recipe from Food 52 starts with the turkey carcass – no food waste here! A mirepoix of leftover carrots, celery, and onion is a simpler alternative to store-bought broth. Add some red pepper flakes for heat, and you have yourself the perfect after Thanksgiving leftover soup!
Photo: Taste of Home
3. Thanksgiving Casserole
We think all good casseroles have a little leftover in them – a melding of flavors that have been left to sit in the fridge overnight can sometimes be just the magic you need! This Thanksgiving leftover casserole from Taste of Home includes the stuffing, turkey, and cranberries that were part of the main event. Tossing them with pecans, milk, and eggs makes this a meal to rival the one the leftovers came from!
Photo: Savory Nothings
4. Savory Turkey Pot Pie
Savory Nothings speaks every tired mom’s language with this easy, Turkey Pot Pie Recipe. Leftover turkey and vegetables intermingle seamlessly nestled in puff pastry. These are also great to make in a batch and save for weeks to come (who doesn’t love Thanksgiving in December!)
Photo: Simply Whisked
5. Leftover Turkey Salad
Who says the holidays don’t have to be healthy? This Leftover Turkey Salad from Simply Whisked is Keto and Gluten Free, but not short in bold flavor. It’s great on it’s own or nestled between two slices of sourdough bread. This will also buy you time with a three to four-day shelf life in the fridge, meaning you won’t have to cook for at least a full week after Thanksgiving!
Can Caribbean specialties be just as good out of their native habitats? Where can you find some proper Jerk chicken, ital, or Ackee, and Saltfish in South Carolina? SAPi has compiled a list of the most beloved Jamaican eateries in the Palmetto State.
Despite what one might think, the vibrant Jamaican culinary scene outside the Caribbean can be just as irie inside of South Carolina’s state lines.
South Carolina has had a vibrant Jamaican food scene for decades. For an example of the rooted Caribbean culture and heritage tradition in the state, where Jamaican cuisine shines bright up and down the coast, look no further than the Charleston Carifest hosted each summer.
If you are looking to satisfy your tastebuds between Caribbean festivals, the region has a lot to offer. Whether you are looking for the grab-and-go convenience of a food truck or a sit-down restaurant ambiance with vibrant beats, SAPi has you covered.
The Best Jamaican Food in South Carolina
Clarendon Cuisine, Myrtle Beach
1. Best By The Beach | Clarendon Cuisine
Where: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach has a robust Jamaican community, so you can be sure that the dishes served have passed the authenticity inspection by local eaters. Reviews report that for all the great, diverse restaurants on the Grand Strand, it was almost impossible to find good Jamaican cooking until Clarendon Cuisine came along. Daily lunch specials include Brown Stew Chicken, Curry Chicken, and Jerked Chicken.
Reggae Island Grill, Myrtle Beach
2. Best Ackee and Saltfish | Reggae Island Grill
Where: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
If you are looking for Jamaica’s National plate of choice, Ackee and Saltfish, there is only one place that serves it in Myrtle Beach: Reggae Island Grill. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and is usually boiled with salted cod. If it powers Usain Bolt’s breakfast, it must be something magical.
The Reggae Island Grill’s menu features other classics like Jerk Chicken, Curry Goat, and Oxtail as well. One reviewer reports: “We were looking for some good authentic Jamaican food while on vacation, and this place did not disappoint. The jerk chicken was smoked just right and literally fell off the bone. Like honestly, the food was so good I had to stop to get a plate on my way headed home.”
3. Best Jerk Food Truck | TruJerkJamaica
Where: Columbia, South Carolina
One look at this popular food truck’s Jerk Chicken, surrounded by plantains and peas and rice, and you know TruJerkJamaica is not playing around. Not only do they specialize in all things jerk (chicken, pork, oxtail) they also come through with some authentic Jamaican Ting soda and Coco Bread. Close your eyes, and you’re on Seven Mile Beach.
Jamaica Mi Irie, Greenville
4. Best In Greenville | Jamaica Mi Irie
Where: Greenville, South Carolina
Jamaican Me Irie proclaims itself to be “the only 100% authentic Jamaican Restaurant in Greenville. With three locations around the city, it won’t be hard to lock in your Brown Stew Chicken Lunch, Jerk Shrimp, or Curry Chicken Roti. Outdoor seating in a vibrant setting and Caribbean beats make the whole experience a vibe.
JAMROCK CARIBANA, Warrenville
5. Best Off The Beaten Path | JAMROCK CARIBANA
Where: Warrenville, South Carolina
Visitors here exclaim, “the Brown Stew Chicken is life!” While you won’t find JAMROCK CARIBANA in a major city hub, Red Pea Soup and their Annual Fish Fry certainly make the drive out to Warrenville worth the trip. One of the sure signs you’re eating at an authentic Jamaican joint is oxtail on the menu, and JAMROCK CARIBANA doesn’t disappoint with tender, juicy servings and generous side portions.
Whether you’re a die-hard Brown Stew Chicken fan or you’re looking to mix up your foodie routine, check out one of these great options in South Carolina. Not only are they all run by authentic chefs, but also local businesses run by real people.
An Experts Guide To Making A Charcuterie Board To Impress
The Holiday season has begun, and you are ready to show off your solid party-hosting skills. You’re great at creating the perfect mix of people. Your playlists are famously the kind that gets people’s heads bobbing. You love a good theme for dinner night. One problem: you’re cooking skills are lacking, or maybe time is just not on your side to prepare. Either way, we can fix that problem with two words: charcuterie board.
Is it just us, or does it trigger your foodie endorphins to see a beautiful cutting board full of finger foods with all the flavors; savory, salty, sweet, and sour? It’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory for adults. It’s a time for fancy cheeses you wouldn’t buy yourself, and cured meats that smell like the best holiday gathering is underway.
Charcuterie is more than just a fancy French word for cured meat. A charcuterie board is a key gathering spot for any social get-together. A beautifully done display of mini edible delights is an easy way to level up the evening without too much effort. It is also a great way to buy yourself time while you finish preparing the main course.
To put together an Instagram-worthy charcuterie tray, you’ll need a few key neighborhood players and a little bit of creativity. Below, we outline an expert’s guide on creating a charcuterie board to impress.
First Things First: Get Prepared, Stay Prepared
The great thing about preparing for your charcuterie board debut is that most ingredients are non-perishable. We find it handy to keep some of the items we’ll lay out below on hand at all times. In case you find yourself suddenly hosting an emergency social gathering.
Also, tap into your local neighborhood vendors. Everyone needs their own “meat guy,” “cheese lady,” and “super friendly baker” in their life. You can find these people in food incubator apps like SAPi or in your neighborhood. The closer the ingredients, the fresher the goods.
Not only are you supporting local businesses, but you’re spreading the word when people ask you, “where did you find this salami!” In doing so, you also support a circular economy where everyone wins.
The Six Essential Ingredients To A Perfect Charcuterie Board
Before we dive into ingredients, there’s one not listed below that plays an essential role: the board—the vessel for your epic finger food display.
We recommend natural wood serving platter or cutting board with a lot of real estate to spread out the edibles. There are also customizable boards with tiny drawers to hide cutlery or matching serving bowls when you’ve decided to go all in on your display like this one from Uncommon Goods.
You can place parchment paper over a cake platter in a pinch or bust out a trusty serving platter. And now, without further adieu, the categories are balanced in harmony to make the perfect charcuterie display.
Every Charcuterie Board needs a salty component like olives, nuts, or crackers.
Peanuts aren’t just for tiny bowls at the bar; they’re also for your charcuterie board. So are almonds, cashews, and exotic pistachios. We love salty additions for the way they encourage another sip of your holiday beverage, as much as we love them for the way they balance with all the other flavors on the plate. It’s not all about nuts. Here are some other ideas for the salty component of your charcuterie tray:
Cheese is a must-have component for any charcuterie tray. There are alternatives for the lactose intolerant that can be even tastier than their traditional counterparts.
A crucial component of any snack tray is the cheese. Not just one, at least two, three is satisfactory, four varieties of cheese show you’re serious, and five is “I’m cultured.”
A charcuterie tray should be all-inclusive – there are alternatives for the lactose intolerant that can be even tastier than their traditional counterparts. Whatever message you want to send with your cheese selection, just make sure it’s fresh. A local cheese shop can make seasonal recommendations about what goes well together, what to pre-slice, what to leave whole, and even what drinks pair well with your selections. Try for at least one hard and one soft.
A classic sharp cheddar
Cured meats like salami and prosciutto are a must to round out the umami flavors of your charcuterie tray.
Some call this the star of the charcuterie world. You can’t go wrong with a locally cured salami, Italian prosciutto, or Spanish chorizo for this category. When in doubt, ask the butcher. Also, look next to where you choose your cheeses for good pairings. Cube some, slice some and have fun with the display. Other protein potential for your board includes;
Figs, berries, and even chocolate can balance out a party tray to perfection.
Sweet additions create harmony between savory components like cured meats and salty additions like nuts or olives. The options here are open to creativity, but having one that is spreadable is key. Think apricot chutneys, jams, or honey. In addition, densely sweet fruit like figs, apples, or berries are not only great for diversity, but they also create a beautiful eye-pleasing color palette. Because, after all, cheese and meats come in only so many shades of color, right?
Bread is the perfect component to hold over your guests until the main course.
Go ultra fresh on this one if possible. A dense sourdough pairs well with creamy cheeses, the same way a baguette pairs better with a salty cured meat. Have one or both! Slice some, toast some, and leave some uncut.
A stuffed fig tells people you take your charcuterie board seriously. If you have time, combining any two complimentary flavors to create an interesting combo is a win.
6. Things That Make You Say “What Is This?”
We also firmly believe in introducing new flavors to every charcuterie board. Something visually interesting that adds a talking point! Think goat cheese stuffed figs, chili chocolate, or unexpected spreads like pesto or olive tapenade. Keeping things interesting will make a memorable experience for your guests and can only boost your reputation as King or Queen of the snack tray.
Charcuterie Extra Credit
Once you’ve mastered the charcuterie ingredient categories, it’s time to level up your presentation. Here are a few ways you can go the extra mile without having to actually go another mile. Low effort, big impact details can make the difference!
Consult with your local wine seller for recommendations on pairings that go well with your ingredient selections. Even the most economical wines can create a dynamic pairing bringing out the savory flavors, making the sweet notes more vibrant, and harmonizing with the salty or sour.
It can make a huge visual difference to give height to an otherwise flat-looking snack board by stacking cheeses and meats or putting them on top of an upside-down serving bowl. In addition, you can display cut meats in a semi-circle or alternate with slices of cheese.
Once you are comfortable with your charcuterie skills, you can think outside the box for themed snack boards. Consider theming a brunch board with pancake stacks, berries, and toppings. Or maybe you to transport your holiday guests into the warm Mediterranean with cous cous, feta cheese, and kalamata olives. In the south? Think hushpuppies, fried okra, and biscuits. There are no hard and fast rules to charcuterie trays! Go wild.
Lastly, it’s all about the colors. No matter the theme or ingredients, make sure that you have at least 3 to 4 color tones on the board. Even the more artisan cheese and exotic salami will be overlooked if the board is too “beige.”
May your holidays be made of overflowing charcuterie trays, family, and friends!
Download the SAPi App here to find a local maker to make your holiday spread shine bright.