When The Snow Flies You’ll Wonder … Where did Summer Go?

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I’m sure you have found yourself wondering where summer went as the fall season approaches. In Minnesota, summer is a cherished season.  The season is short, sweet and we want the most of it.  So I insist you make it a point to get the most of from this enchanted season.

Many of us are obliged with a day job that motivates us to work hard until the weekend.  With the short season unfolding now, let’s prioritize our lives to make the most of every free moment we have.

Reflect back to the days when you were a child, summer activities were a must.  Your goal each day was to find a more exhilarating activity than the day before.

As adults, we can stay up late, have a bonfire, go on an impromptu camping trip, visit a national park 100 miles away from home and so on.  But let me ask:  When was the last time you actually did any of that?

I know last summer, I used a few precious vacation days to simply run errands, why?  Because that was the “adult” thing to do.  Did I feel better afterward? Sure, but only for a moment.  As the fall season approached it had me wondering, why I didn’t take advantage of my vacation days to go frolic in the woods and to be exhilarated like my inner-child would insist I do.

In summer, the song sings itself. ~William Carlos Williams

What song will you be singing this summer before this enchanted season slips away?

If you haven’t a clue then let me take a moment to encourage you to set aside some time to carve out and create your summer.

Maybe you’re a bit bemused with carving out time for summer activities as you’re uncertain of where to start.  Minnesota is a flourishing state full of summer activities and places to see.

Here are a few random things I plan on doing this summer:

Attend a few outdoor concerts, have a picnic at a favorite park, grilling on a weekly basis, visit a few new parks, enjoy the sunshine for 10 minutes every morning before I start working, and gaze into the midnight sky learning a new constellation or two.

These are just a few ideas.  Create a summer that is meaningful and will have lasting memories for you to call upon in the bitter winter months ahead.

 

By: Tara Massan

Power Plate Meals: Healthy Doesn’t Have to be Boring

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How many times have you found yourself crunched for time or too exhausted from a long work day to cook? What options do you have? Order a pizza? Run to the nearest McDonalds? Eat something simple like cereal (my current go-to meal)? Eating healthy can be expensive and time-consuming, but it doesn’t always have to be.

Seth Houkom and fiancé Haylee Swanson know what it’s like to need a quick meal that entails little fuss and even littler mess. Seth is a farmer who owns his own construction company, while Haylee is a registers nurse who works with premature babies in the NICU. They both grew up in West Fargo, a community that doesn’t have many mechanisms in place to provide meals that are both convenient and healthy. Enter Power Plate Meals, the newest addition to the area’s paradigm shift towards health and accountability.

Power Plate Meals offers fully cooked, pre-packaged, healthy, and convenient meal options that can be shipped to your front door. These do not arrive in cardboard boxes that contain frozen “healthy” meals that offer little actual nutritional value and taste like the box they are packaged in. Power Plate Meals offers hand-made meals that include unprocessed proteins, healthy carbs and fats, and vegetables. Best of all, Power Plate’s ingredients are all pronounceable. No more “hydro”- this or “brominated”- that.

Power Plate Meals opened its doors in January, with Seth and Haylee each putting on a variety of hats. Currently, Hayley handles the company’s social media profile and its marketing duties; Seth runs the cooking side of the company. “We have now had a chef for over a month, so I can do some things on the business side, but I still oversee meals and the breaking down of macros and nutrition,” Seth explained.

Companies like Power Plate are often geared towards body builders. As a result, Seth (a former body builder) wasn’t sure if the general public would be interested in the company’s products. “We wanted to offer a healthy option for the business man or woman, or anybody really,” he explained. “The results have been great. Our average customer is wealthier females between the ages of 30 and 40. That is now our target audience.”

Power Plate has developed a signature line that includes delectable meals like BBQ chicken and sweet corn on the cob, chocolate/banana protein pancakes, turkey porcupine meatballs, and chicken mac and cheese. Custom meals can also be created using steak, cod or salmon, chicken, ground turkey, and ground beef. The meals are affordable as well, with the average meal costing about $7.50.

For Seth and Haylee, it is all about helping customers make healthy choices. “We are very passionate about our food. We care and want to share our food experiences with others,” Seth explained. “Healthy doesn’t have to be boring.”

Meals can be purchased online or in their new West Fargo store. Located in the Pioneer Center at 1380 9th Street East, Suite 605, the store is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. The company currently ships to North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. More information can be found at www.powerplatemeals.com.

 

By Jamee Larson

NoBull Smokehouse: Satisfy Your Meat Tooth

Anyone who has ever enjoyed meat right out of a smoker was ecstatic when NoBull Smokehouse opened its doors in May of 2015. Those that had never experienced that smoky flavor quickly became fans. For anyone who has yet to do either, you are missing out.

For General Manager Emilie Fischer, it’s all about the smoke. The meat at the NoBull Smokehouse is smoked with a unique blend of locally-sourced red and white oak. Serving what can be considered traditional Northern Barbecue, the restaurant is quickly garnering a reputation as having the best-smoked meats in the area.

NoBull offers a variety of menu options, including smoked sausage, lightly pulled smoked pork, northern oak-smoked ribs, fresh buttermilk infused northern friend chicken fingers, and chicken and waffles. “The chicken and waffles which was part of our original menu is still a guest favorite,” Fischer said. “Combining the sweet of the waffles and the salt of the chicken is a real fan favorite.”

Another must-try is the Picture Perfect appetizer platter. Consisting of a pound of pulled pork, five rib bones, three smoked sausages, five fresh buttermilk infused fried chicken fingers, and slaw, dressing, gravy, best beans, pickles, bread, and your choice of sauces. The colossal platter is definitely not for amateurs.

In addition to unique, mouthwatering meals, NoBull is also known for its ambiance. “Our atmosphere is one-of-a-kind,” Fischer said. “One needs to come check out the place to really get the full feeling.” Trying to find a similar restaurant setting in the area would be an exercise in futility. From its rustic interior to the outdoor patio in the back, NoBull has set itself apart within the industry. Add to that a garage door in the front of the restaurant that allows customers to get the feeling of being outside, regardless of where they sit, and you have a dining experience that is without equal.

As NoBull continues to grow, they will be offering more events and special. According to Fisher, rib-a-palooza will be starting soon. Sound intriguing? It is. The special will give diners two ribs for the price of one every Two-sday from 5:00 to 10:00 pm. The new theme will join the current Swine and Wine special that take place on Wednesdays when diners who buy one bottle or glass of wine can get a second for only a penny.

NoBull Smokehouse is located at 609 NP Avenue in Fargo and open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am until done. “Until done?” you may ask. Yes, until done. An exact time cannot be given because the restaurant smokes only enough meat to serve on any given day. When the meat is gone, it is gone. Although unconventional, the custom is an example of NoBull’s unwavering commitment to excellence. Want to avoid an empty plate? You better get their early.

If you haven’t been to NoBull, you have already waited too long. It doesn’t matter if you go for the food, the atmosphere, or the daily specials – you just need to go. “We are a family restaurant so you get to pick what you want to eat. Our staff is fast, friendly, and loves to help you decide what you are going to #pigout on for your meal,” Fisher explained. “Please stop in and give us a try sometime. You will leave full and happy.”

More information, including a full menu, can be viewed at www.nobullfargo.com.

 

By Jamee Larson

 

Altony’s Italian Café: Your Authentic Italian Experience is Just Down the Road

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Anyone who has ever traveled to a different country knows that sampling the local cuisine is a sure-fire way to experience the essence of the culture. Visit Mexico and you cannot leave with enjoying chilaquiles, tamales, or authentic mole sauce. Leave Ireland without trying bangers and mash or depart Australia before dining on a chiko roll and your experience is lacking.

Likewise, a visit to Italy must involve such delicacies as bigoli, tortellini, caccincco, ravioli, and prosciutto. Many of us, however, will likely never make it across the pond. Does that mean we are sentenced to a life of Campbell’s spaghetti o’s or beef ravioli? Fortunately, no. There is another way thanks to Moorhead’s Altony’s Italian Café.

Altony’s is somewhat of a secret to many area residents. Located in a small building on Highway 10 East that used to house a Taco Bell, Altony’s is an unassuming restaurant that doesn’t rely on flashy marketing strategies or gaudy billboards. Instead, Altony’s focuses on providing diners with an authentic Italian experience, trusting that word-of-mouth is the only advertising they need.

One visit to Altony’s and a few truths emerge. Not only are the restaurant’s signature meals affordable, the portions are huge. All food is made from scratch and served as three courses – salad, the entrée, and ice cream. Yes, I said it. Ice cream is included in the meal. Does it get any better?

Although much of Altony’s focus is on Italian food, the restaurant also offers American favorites such as chicken strips and grilled chicken. Most diners don’t go to Altony’s, however, for the burgers; it is all about Italy. Diners can start with an authentic Italian appetizer like bruschetta, calamari, or ravioli before moving on to one of the restaurant’s signature entrees.

Altony’s primary dishes include delicacies like seafood ravioli, grilled salmon, Tuscany pork tenderloin, ratatouille, Rosa tortellini, steak penne alfredo, or my personal favorite, Antony’s famous lasagna. If you can eat even half of the gigantic portion you have my utmost respect. It is usually enough for at least two meals, and if you think Altony’s food is amazing the first time, wait until you enjoy the leftovers.

In addition to its extraordinary menu, Altony’s also offers a dining atmosphere that is charming and intimate. With a focus on warmth and genuine hospitality, the restaurant is able to create an authentic Italian experience that highlights the importance of good food and a family to share it with.

If you have never been to Altony’s Italian Café, you truly do not know what you are missing. Located at 3102 Highway 10 East, the restaurant is the closest many of us will ever get to Italy. It is well worth the visit.

Altony’s is open Monday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. More information including a full menu and description of nightly specials can be found at www.altonysitalion.com.

 

By Jamee Larson

Back to School Shopping: The Clothes Don’t Always Make the Man

Everyone wants to make an impression on the first day of school. Back-to-school pictures will soon flood Facebook and other social media sites and the pressure to wear the trendiest styles is at an all-time high. Many parents have already started shopping for new school clothes for their children, but how do you know where to draw the line. It isn’t feasible for most families to spend hundreds of dollars on their child’s wardrobe, even if their child’s “coolness” is at stake.