Month: July 2014

Worry-Free Wednesday: Best Friend Edition

In honor of my best friend’s birthday…

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Snack Attack

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend and she wanted to know if I snack/what my favorite ones were. Personally, I survive on snacks. I feel like a majority of the time, I just snack throughout the day instead of having 3 larger meals. Below are a list of some of my staples Рsome may seem a little out there but give them a chance!

1. Quest bars

I honestly have at least one of these daily, whether it’s a quick breakfast on¬†the go or post-workout snack, these are my lifelines. You can even try heating them up in the microwave for 5-7 seconds for a treat! My personal favorite flavors are Strawberry Cheesecake, Coconut Cashew, Lemon Creme Pie, Banana Nut Muffin, and Cinnamon Bun. For you chocolate lovers, they also have the super popular, Cookies and Cream. With no added sugar, 20g of protein, and less than 200 calories, you can’t go wrong.

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2. Cucumbers and Dijon Mustard

I add cucumbers to EVERYTHING Рwater, vodka, juices, etc. Cucumbers are just so refreshing, especially in this southern heat. The mustard adds tanginess without very few to no calories per serving. 

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3. Coconut Chia Fresca

As y’all may have read in my chia seed pudding post, chia seeds absorb ten times their weight creating a gel like consistency. Adding just a¬†tablespoon of chia seeds to coconut water, and letting it chill in the fridge for 10-20 minutes, is the perfect mid-afternoon pick me up. Coconut water has a ton of electrolytes and is a great source of potassium, while the chia seeds add omega-3s, fiber, and¬†protein.

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4. Carrots and Salsa

I’m a HUGE salsa fan. I add it to¬†everything from¬†omelets to salads. Of course, it’s most often¬†enjoyed with tortilla chips, but whoever has just one serving of tortilla chips? That’s why I started eating it with carrots instead – bonus points if you get the chip shaped carrots to¬†maximize the salsa to carrot ratio. Also goes great with cucumbers (obviously), bell peppers, and broccoli.¬†

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5. Almond Butter (with fruit, vegetables, or a spoon…)

So I kind of loveeeee almond butter, incase you didn’t catch that. I used to be an avid peanut butter lover, but now I can’t get enough of this stuff. It’s generally naturally sweeter than it’s peanut counterpart, and it contains more magnesium,¬†vitamin E, calcium, and iron. You can generally substitute almond butter for anything you would¬†ordinarily use peanut butter for. Some of my favorite snack options are apples, strawberries, frozen raspberries (the frozen ones hold up better for dipping), and bell peppers (think asian stir-fry). If you are really feeling adventurous, sunbutter (sunflower seed spread) is also a new favorite of mine.

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6. Lentil Chips and Hummus

No snack list would be complete without hummus. Lentil chips are a great alternative to pita chips because they are lower in calories and fat, and higher in fiber and protein. *bonus* The hummus pictured is the cucumber mint one from Hummus Chick Рdefinitely my new fav! Tastes just like tzatziki sauce but much healthier!

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7. Avocado and Lemon Pepper

Few things beat a ripe avocado. Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper seasoning is the perfect addition to a plain avocado for a quick snack. Slice one in half, sprinkle on some seasoning, grab a fork, and enjoy! Also try adding a squeeze of lemon, sunflower seeds, or goat cheese.

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8. Chia Bars

This was a recent discovery at my new favorite spot, Turnip Truck. They are the perfect, portable, bite-sized treat and come in a wide variety of flavors. My personal favorite? Coconut or Banana Nut for sure. 

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9. Dried Chickpeas

These oven-baked legumes are perfect by the handful or with tomatoes and cucumbers for a light Mediterranean salad. They are great sub for croutons in salads and soups! Similarly, dried edamame are another option for a salty, crunchy, high protein snack. I also love mixing the edamame with some dried cranberries to add a touch of sweetness. 

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10. Coconut Cashews

Trader Joe’s makes coconut crusted cashews and they may or may not be the most addicting things on the planet. Proceed with caution! This is when it’s not smart to bring the whole bag to the couch with you…¬†

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11. Roasted Seaweed

 

Seaweed snacks are slightly crunchy, slightly chewy, mild tasting seaweed based snacks. They are super low in calories (just 25 calories a serving!) I suggest topping them with hummus, sriracha, or an asian salad dressing.

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12. Kale Chips

Homemade oven-baked kale chips are super quick and easy to make, not to mention have significantly less fat and calories than the store-bought kind. Spread out roughly cut kale pieces on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray (olive oil spray or coconut oil spray is perfect for this!). Season with salt and pepper or get creative with spices like curry! Bake at 375 for 10 minutes or less and voila!

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13. Baked Snap Peas

These snacks are super light and airy and taste great with a quick homemade peanut sauce (powdered PB with your favorite low cal asian dressing) or simply by the handful of course ūüôā

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 14. Cold Press Juices

Adios froyo, juice is the new trendy snack in town. Juice bars are popping up everywhere – even Sweet CeCe’s in Hillsboro village added a juice bar (which is delicious by the way). Juice Nashville in the gulch is probably the one I frequent most due to its convenience. Make sure to stop by and try their summer flavors, which are my personal favorite!¬†IMG_5961

 

The Land of Breakfast Tacos

This past weekend I ventured into the territory formally¬†currently known by the locals as “The Republic of Texas.” My esteemed tour guide, Ilana, gave me the complete historical, cultural, and culinary Texas¬†experience filled with tacos, hot sauce, tequila, guns, and of course, lots of Texas spirit.

Texas State History Museum

We woke up bright and early Saturday morning to head over to the Texas State History Museum. I learned a lot about the Republic of Texas and about how much charming Texas spirit its inhabitants have. We even ended our tour with an inspirational video urging us to reach our full potential as the “Lone Star leaders of tomorrow.”

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Alamo Drafthouse Cinema/Esther’s Follies/6th Street

Friday night we went to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to see the “Bangerz and Sass” Sing-along. What’s Bangerz and Sass you might ask? Well, I was wondering the same thing, so here’s a snippet of the show’s description straight from their website: “Well for starters, after going to Miley’s Bangerz tour this year we immediately knew we wanted to have a special night of Miley Cyrus amazing at the Alamo. But as great as she is, we knew that we wouldn’t be satisfied if we only played her hits and didn’t hear from any of the other leading pop princesses of today. So we went through all of our Katy Perry collection and fell in love with everything there. Then we wanted to hear some Taylor Swift, because we were starting to feel 22 and we felt like she belonged with us…Our DJs are taking all of that and mixing it together into the hottest party of July, featuring plenty of Katy Perry’s “Fireworks,” a total “Party in the USA,” and soooo much more.”¬†It was a great prelude to a night out on 6th Street, which was essentially one big street party until 3am. And this happens EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. Everything really is bigger in Texas.

Esther’s Follies is a musical comedy¬†show downtown. A lot of the jokes centered around making fun of Texas and politics. Most of them were hilarious even with my limited knowledge of the state, and any others were easily explained by my friend and just as entertaining! There was also a magician who performed several acts, and I was honestly so impressed because I¬†have absolutely no idea how he was able to do all of his tricks. He even¬†used an adorable little white puppy as part of his act so that certainly didn’t hurt ūüôā Esther’s Follies is right on 6th street, which made for easy access to downtown after the show. One of the show’s jokes was about the people you’d meet on 6th, and I have to say it was HIGHLY accurate. According to the comedians, 6th street has “hicks, ganstas, UT frat stars, and cougars.” We certainly encountered many of those real life characters, which made for some very interesting¬†stories… Finally, the award for the world’s greatest brother goes to Ilana’s brother, Ben, for driving out to come get us downtown and for stopping me from consuming too much ice cream under the influence. Thanks, bud ūüôā

Red’s Indoor Shooting Range

Now for the most Texas/terrifying thing I’ve ever done… shooting. Definitely nothing like I was expecting, but I’m really glad that I could check this one off the bucket list! And I actually hit¬†the target a lot!

Austin Food Tour

Ok so now time for easily my favorite part of the trip – the food. Friday night we dined at Perla’s Seafood and Oyster Bar. We were given hush puppies instead of your typical bread basket to start and as an appetizer shared a gazpacho with crab meat as well as an order of the wood grilled brussels sprouts. For my entr√©e, I enjoyed the fish and shrimp ceviche and sipped on an amazing cocktail with coconut rum with pur√©ed strawberries and mint.

Saturday brunch was at Kerby Lane. I ordered an omelet with mushrooms and pesto and Ilana and I split a cinnamon roll and lemon poppy seed pancake. The cinnamon roll pancake was easily the most delicious pancake I have ever eaten in my entire life! Saturday afternoon we stopped at Juiceland for a midday snack, and if you know me at all my order will not surprise you in the least (it’s a variation of the Ninja Bachelor Party juice): pineapple, spinach, kale, mint, and jalape√Īo. Ugh, Nashville really needs an elaborate juice bar like Juiceland. Dinner on Saturday was at Torchy’s, which had extremely unique and tasty tacos. I had one with fried avocado and the other with ahi tuna. We also split guacamole as an appetizer…obviously. Amy’s ice cream was our late night snack. It is seriously¬†the smoothest, creamiest ice cream. And like Jeni’s, they carry some pretty interesting flavors. For example, Cop Stop was coffee ice cream with donut pieces – YUM!

On Sunday morning I was finally able to try the long anticipated “breakfast taco.” After 3 years of having Ilana talk about the wonders of this glorious yet mysterious food, it was my turn to have a taste. Did it live up to the expectations you ask? Absolutely!! Last, but certainly not least, we were able to squeeze in a visit to Hopdoddy before my flight Sunday evening. The place was very reminiscent of¬†Burger Up, but certainly more elaborate. I had the ahi tuna burger which was topped with wasabi and teriyaki sauces, fried seaweed, pickled ginger, cucumber, and avocado. Extremely messy and difficult to eat, a fairly long wait given the time of day we went, pretty pricey, and probably a full day’s calories, but sooooo worth it. Now excuse me while I recover from the weekend’s food coma…

Thanks again, Ilana!

The Southern: Boozy Brunch Edition

No weekend adventure is complete without a proper boozy brunch to recap the previous nights’ events. Last weekend, I graced The Southern in South Broadway with my presence to see how their bellinis stacked up to the competition.¬†The Park, in the meatpacking district of NYC held¬†the official title for World’s Greatest Bellini. I’m sad to say that The Southern wasn’t able to steal the spotlight on this one. However, their blood orange mimosas definitely gave The Park a run for their money. They also had arguably the greatest biscuits I’ve had since moving to Nashville (sorry Loveless, better luck next time). While admittedly it’s hard to mess up biscuits (if Vanderbilt dining can bake a decent one, how hard could it be?), The Southern took theirs to a whole other level of flaky goodness.

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left: bellini, right: blood orange mimosa, center: drooool

For the actual meal, I went the lunch route and had a great salad with an even better name: “Bless Your Heart.” Since I love to create and cook my own meals, I have become pickier when I go out to eat. My favorite salads are the ones that have ingredients I wouldn’t usually buy for myself. This one certainly measured up as it was chock full of hearts of palm, beets, artichokes, roasted cauliflower, pumpkin seeds, and goat cheese. The combination of flavors and textures made for a picture perfect salad to accompany the quintessential weekend brunch.

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“Bless Your Heart” salad with a Bloody Mary on the side. Pro Tip: Don’t order the Bloody Mary unless drinking straight black pepper is your thing…

 

Worry-Free Wednesday: Everything Happens for a Reason

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Unfortunately, we can’t control everything. For a Type-A-must-have-an-organized-plan-for-anything-and-everything like myself, this can be a difficult concept to grasp at times. Add that to an already especially tumultuous period¬†in one’s life, the twenties, and you have a recipe for a stage 5 mental breakdown.

Welcome to life as a twenty-something. It’s a decade that is held up on a pedestal by those yearning for the independence and adulthood they naively believe turning 20¬†automatically brings, as well as by those who pine away for their so-called glory years.¬†But for those who are actually¬†experiencing it in the present, to quote lyrical genius, T-Swift,”we’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.”

We’re faced with so many big life decisions and opportunities,¬†all while trying to figure out who we are as individuals and what we value at our core. We may be moving far away from the comforts of home to¬†a city where we know¬†next to no one; we may be questioning our previously held beliefs and forming opinions different from those on which we were raised; we may be traveling to foreign countries in an attempt to complete the elusive mission of “finding yourself”; we may start our dream jobs, quit jobs to start companies, go back to school, or work our way up the corporate ladder; we may be a free spirit, live out our dream as the eternal bachelor, forever be a bridesmaid, find our prince charming or Tinderella,¬†get married, or adopt babies from foreign countries¬†because it’s trendy. But one thing remains constant for all of us in the grand scheme of our dramatic, roller coaster-esque journey we call life: everything happens for a reason, and it will all work out in the end.¬†

 

Salmon Farfalle with White Wine Sauce

Fun fact of the day, did you know that farfalle (or better known as bow tie pasta), actually means “butterfly” in Italian? Well now that you had your little Jeopardy-ready lesson, time for the real fun to begin. While I rarely eat pasta, Barilla Plus is a great option because it’s packed with protein, fiber, and omega 3s. And hey, everything tastes better in cute shapes, am I right? (exhibit a: dino nuggets?! #tbt)

I was feeling kind of adventurous the other night, so I decided to experiment cooking with¬†white wine. After much trial and error, I ended up with a lemon dill sauce with a white wine base. OBSESSED. Plus it was tons of fun to experiment adding different ingredients, so if dill isn’t your thing, try garlic, shallots, basil, or any other spice combo of your choice with the wine. And don’t forget to treat yourself with a glass of the good stuff afterwards (…or during – hey, it may help the creative juices flow!).

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Salmon Farfalle with White Wine Sauce

Ingredients
1 6oz salmon fillet
1 cup pasta cooked
1/2 cup peas
2-3 cups spinach
8-10 asparagus spears

sauce:
1/4 cup white wine
1-2 tsp vegan butter, melted
1 tsp olive oil
1-2 lemon(s)
spices: dill, pepper, salt

Directions
1. Combine all sauce ingredients and adjust to your taste preferences
2. Season salmon fillet with sauce spices and wrap in a foil pouch with half of the sauce and extra lemon slices if desired.
3. Broil on high for about 10-12 minutes or until cooked to your preference.
4. Heat vegetables on a skillet with remaining half of the sauce until slightly wilted.
5. Add pasta and salmon (with the sauce) to the skillet and stir until well combined.
6. Bon Appétit!

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