Summer Grilling + Local Eats

This past weekend was the first weekend I’ve been back at home in awhile without some sort of major happening taking place, which meant ample downtime after playing catch up for a few days.

For a delayed birthday celebration Saturday evening, my mom and I enjoyed an evening of grilling on her best friend’s deck overlooking Pensacola Bay. During the summer months my body especially craves lighter meals, which urges me to really focus on clean eating. Once it cools off a bit and gets slightly more tolerable outside in the evening hours, firing up the grill offers a festive way to enjoy fresh vegetables. Our vegetable features for Saturday evening consisted of grilled Portobello mushrooms, zucchini and onions. For a simple marinade, these veggies were brushed with a blend of garlic, salt, pepper and basil in Walnut EVOO.

I brought an appetizer along with me for us to munch on while we were grilling. If it appears to have an orange or red sheen to it, that’s because it’s red pepper hummus I whipped up earlier in the afternoon as a little experiment. Turns out, I was satisfied with the results of my experiment and became eager to share.


  • 1 can organic garbanzo beans (15.5 ounce can)
  • 1 large red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. minced (or fresh) garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. tahini (generous scoopfuls)
  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha
  • ½ cup water


For directions on how to blend this hummus to perfection, check out my Holy Spiced Citrus Hummus recipe. I would be lying if I said my Vitamix didn’t do most of the work.

For the main course, the grilled veggies were served along with a salad packed with raw zucchini, onions, tomatoes, artichokes and sunflower nuts, drizzled with Black Mission Fig Balsamic Vinegar from The Bodacious Olive. As a birthday treat, I was given a bottle of this vinegar to take home with me. Score! Expect to see it utilized frequently this summer.

As a festive drink to sip alongside my meal, I combined a small bit of Merlot with Reed’s Ginger Brew and poured it over ice, making for a refreshingly sweet, gingery spritzer.

For extra evening company, we carted this guy along so he could enjoy spending time with us on the deck, and then down on the dock by the water after we finished eating. If anyone tries to tell you that dogs don’t smile or have personalities, please feel free to show them this photo of Sammy. This golden boy couldn’t have been happier.

The evening’s backdrop looked a lot like this. Not too shabby.

The veg-loaded weekend didn’t stop here. Saturday’s dinner motivated me to make my way over to my favorite local produce stop on Sunday and stock up on all of the good stuff. Flora Bama Farms is a place that became dear to me last summer when I had the privilege of featuring them as a part of a Literally Local Eat Guide. In addition to “Connecting the Dots” between farmers and chefs in the area, Flora Bama Farms is a one stop market for all of your fresh produce needs.

Local food excites me for a number of reasons. Aside from it being succulent and delicious, there is something unmatchable about biting into food that is fresh and unaltered, while knowing that you are giving back to the local farming community with each purchase. If you ask me, eating close to home is the best eating you can do—health, sustainability, and economically speaking. And did I mention it’s affordable? An overflowing cart of fresh eats cost me $35 yesterday.

Yes, those collards in my arms (above) that are larger than a small child will be prepared by my mother this week. Yes, I look this awkward if and when I am holding an actual small child. And yes, that is a giant sweet potato my mom is holding (below). I am excited to cut, glaze, bake, mash and/or stuff this spud ASAP.

Along with collards and the gigantic sweet spud, I snagged a few of my other favorite green treats, including Brussels Sprouts, green beans and spinach. Plus, I picked up watermelon and bananas for smoothies, along with a few surprises. Photos and recipes to come throughout the week as I get cooking!