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Let's Catch Up! 10 Things I'm Loving

Once upon a time I wrote mainly about running and workout classes and restaurant reviews. Lately, all I've done is write about my travels - running isn't a thing I've done much for the past year+  

It's a touchy subject. 

But how about something new? How about a "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things" post? Also known as "Loving Lately," or "Fave Finds." Call it what you will - I'm just going to ramble about a bunch of things I've been feelin' these days and catching you back up with my real-life here in NYC (as opposed to work-life and travel-life!) 

Bloggers Favorite Things

1. Books

I've read some DAMN GOOD books lately.

The Fiddler In The Subway by Gene Weingarten

One of my neighbors put a bunch of old books they were getting rid of in our lobby and I randomly scooped this one up. It was one of the best things I've ever read.

The book is a collection of feature stories written by Washington Post journalist Gene Weingarten. The subjects are all over the map - but each story is brilliantly written, insightful, creative, clever, moving. I cannot explain how incredible Gene Weingarten's writing is. 

As a journalism undergrad, I'm disappointed I was never made to read this book because I honestly think that it would be convinced me to continue down the path towards becoming a writer. 

Please pick up this book! It's great because you can just read one story at a time - not too much comittment! 

There’s one last truth that I don’t tell them, because it’s needlessly disturbing and would serve no pragmatic purpose. I’ll say it now, just once, and be done with it. A real writer is someone for whom writing is a terrible ordeal.  That is because he knows, deep down, with an awful clarity, that there are limitless ways to fill a page with words, and that he will never, ever, do it perfectly. On some level, that knowledge haunts him all the time. He will always be juggling words in his head, trying to get them closer to a tantalizing, unreachable ideal. 

It’s a torment you can’t escape. It will reach even into the comfort of a drunken sleep, and it will shake you awake, and send you, heart pumping, to an an empty piece of paper. 

If you have that, you can be a good writing. Congratulations, I guess. 
— The Fiddler In The Subway, Gene Weingarten

Beartown 

Beartown: A Novel
By Fredrik Backman

When I was younger, you couldn't find me without a book. I brought books out to family dinners - sat in a booth at a noisy restaurant and just kept on reading. 

Nowadays, there's not as much time for uninterrupted, full-on face-in-a-book reading. But with Beartown - I found that 12 year old ability of mine to shut out the world and travel into the story. 

I read for an entire flight and an entire Sunday afternoon because I just couldn't put the book down. 

From the author of A Man Named Ove - Beartown is incredibly timely and is also about hockey and Sweden - two things that you could say are somewhat pertinent to my life. Backman's ability to describe human nature and to create characters that really come to life are what made this book so compelling. 

If you've read it - comment who your favorite character was! I want to discuss! 

One of the plainest truths about both towns and individuals is that they usually don’t turn into what we tell them to be, but what they are told they are.
— Fredrik Backman, Beartown

The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir 

If you don't utilize your public library's ability to lend eBooks - what are you doing?! So easy and also, free! That's how I came to find The Sound of Gravel. 

This is the story of Ruth Wariner as told by herself - about growing up poor in a polygamist family. It's a fascinating look into a culture that I knew very little about before reading the book. 

Mom couldn’t teach me that because she didn’t know herself. She couldn’t show me how to be happy, only how to barely survive.
— Ruth Wariner, The Sound of Gravel

2. Romantic Comedies

I don't watch movies, as a general rule of thumb - unless I'm on a long flight. 

But for some reason a few weeks ago, I found myself watching a different romantic comedy on Netflix every night of the week. Huh? You're all going to laugh - because I'm only about 15 years late to the party on one of them and the other two are garbage. 

Bridget Jones' Diary 

Sleeping With Other People 

Drinking Buddies 

So tell me, what's your favorite romantic comedy? 

3. Yoga 

That's right - it's happened everyone. I can officially say the words, "I like yoga!" 

WOW. It took me years and years but I've finally learned to appreciate a good, sweaty, yoga class. I've even learned how to view it as a damn good workout, not just a stretch. (Read this post from April of last year where I wondered if I was starting to like yoga!)

It's mid-March and I've been to 16+ yoga classes already this year, which is probably more than the combined number of classes I had taken in my life prior to January 1, 2018. 

CorePower Yoga

Like so many runners out there - CorePower was my gateway drug. I had taken Core Power classes in Denver and Raleigh - but it was my class in Boston with Kayla that was a game changer. The instructor was phenomenal and I took my Free Week back with me to NYC and went NUTS. I took 5 classes in 7 days!

I also tried the Yoga Sculpt class without realizing it's basically heated barre - and I liked that too! 

Y7 Studio

Y7 has an intro package that gets you 3 classes for $45 which I did when my CorePower free week was up. 

I wasn't expecting to like Y7 as much as I did - hip hop isn't exactly "me" but I loved the classes that I took. My favorite part is how the class is set up - you know what to expect and there's no opportunity for laying on the mat wondering, "are there 10 minutes left or 50? How much more do we have?" (Because let's face it, I still have that moment about halfway through each yoga class). 

At Y7, you go through 3 separate flows. For each, you go through once slow, once "one breath, one movement" and then the third time the turn the music up and let you go on your own. I loved this because it kept me super focused the entire time so that I could remember the flow - keeping myself mentally focused on yoga is a challenge and I found that this really helped me. 

Yoga Vida

Yoga Vida NYC

There are multiple Yoga Vida locations, but I took all of my free week classes at the NoHo location (no showers, which is a bummer considering this is the studio that offers heated flow!) 

All the instructors here were amazing, the space is HUGE and you can't beat a free week! Plus, they have a bunch of community classes each week that are donation based. Holla! 

Om Factory

Favorite class? The one taught by my friend Bertha! Getting to see her do her thing was so cool! But even better was the fact that she is an AWESOME instructor. 

When Abby and I requested a class with lots of hamstring stretching and an arm balance - Bertha delivered exactly that. The whole class I didn't even realize we were working towards side crow and then WA-BAM all of a sudden it all made sense. 

I'm not sure what the shift was, but I'm very glad that I've come to value more low-impact exercises like yoga and barre (and I'm trying out a Pilates class this weekend!) I've been very unkind to my body in terms of how I've exercised for the past 4 years, and I'm really digging some days without burpees and jump squats and wall balls. 

4. Live Music 

Hearing someone with an incredible voice belt out a good song is probably one of my all time favorite things. I get chills. Every time. And wish that I had been blessed with some vocal chords that can SANG. Alas, I cannot. But I have been doing lots of listening. 

Piano Bars 

My family and I recently went to Don't Tell Mama in Hell's Kitchen and though we waited over an hour to be seated, and they tried skipping over our name on the list - it ended up being such a fun night. Singing along is highly encouraged. They sing a great mix of classic, show tunes, popular songs, oldies - and the singing bar and wait staff are out of this world good - they're all definitely Broadway actors and actresses. 

My other favorite piano bar in NYC is Brandy's on the Upper East Side - both of these are really small venues with two drink minimums but every time I've gone it's been more than worth the pricey drinks. These aren't your average piano bar wannabes - they're extremely talented performers. 

If you go to Brandy's - order a Tequila Cosmo!

Rockwood Music Hall - Stage 3

I had been to Rockwood Music Hall a number of times for various concerts but none of them at Stage 3 (around the corner on Orchard Street). It was such an intimate venue - everyone gets a seat which I hadn't been expecting.

We were there to see Wakey!Wakey! aka Michael Grubbs of One Tree Hill fame. He performed an hour-long show with his piano and damn is his voice powerful. 

For a $15 ticket and a $10 glass of wine (everyone has to buy a drink - but you can get a soda or coffee) it was the perfect Friday night and I was still in bed by 10:30! 

Broadway Musicals

Always my favorite form of live music - I am of the belief that there is nothing like a Broadway musical. We recently went as a family to see the new Jimmy Buffet jukebox musical "Escape to Margaritaville."

While the production was far from artistically groundbreaking, damn was it FUN. Maybe we had a little too much fun. It seems that my "FINS TO THE LEFT, FINS TO THE RIGHT" dance moves may have interfered with some lighting. And apparently the somewhat stuffy audience wasn't on board with yelling "Salt! Salt! Salt!" during the title song. But c'est la vie - not everyone can be a Parrothead. 

My family and I thoroughly enjoyed the show - despite the incredibly forced references to song lyrics and predictable plot line. It certainly helped that our margarita cups were always filled (thanks, Dad!)

The best part was my dad finally realizing just how much he must have listened to Jimmy Buffet when we were kids - my sister and I seemed to know more words than anyone else! 

City Winery

Next up for live music is a concert this week at City Winery! We'll be seeing Joshua Radin and while I haven't been to a show at this venue yet, I have a feeling I'm going to like it. Bar stool + acoustic music + wine seems like the recipe for a wonderful Thursday night. 

5. Rock Climbing

I've loved rock climbing for as long as I can remember - I was a total monkey as a kid. Climbing trees, climbing the rope faster than anyone else in gym class. 

I finally got myself belay certified and asked for a 10-climb pass for Christmas - so if anyone wants to go rock climbing at The Cliffs in LIC let me know!! 

The Cliffs LIC

It's such an adrenaline rush and I love the fact that by the end of a day at the climbing gym - my arms are actually shaking they're so exhausted. I still get a little nervous while belaying - the fact that I'm actually in control of someone's life is slightly terrifying - but practice makes perfect? 

6. Argan Oil & Chakra  Oil 

My moisturizing game has never been stronger thanks to these two products. 

Rituals Shanti Chakra Body Oil

My coworker bought us each a bottle of this in the Copenhagen airport after we used the tester and fell in love. 

The smell is dreamy, and putting this on after the shower makes me feel like I'm treating myself to a spa day. I'm almost out, and I can't find it online, and I'm having a slight meltdown. 

Organix Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil

Want your hair to feel super hydrated and luscious? Use this stuff. 

I take terrible care of my hair. I get it cut about once a year. I straighten it, blow dry it, curl it - and half the time I'm showering at New York Sports Club whose shampoo I swear doesn't actually do anything.  

But ever since my mom got me a little tube of hair oil in my stocking stuffer - I've been using it non stop and I can see a huge difference in the look and feel of my hair. 

7. Doughnuts 

There was awhile there where I seemed to be on a doughnut hiatus. Thank God that ended. 

East Main & Main - Port Jefferson, New York

East Main & Main Donuts

Long Island is finally get involved in the doughnut game!

Dilla's Delights - Detroit, Michigan 

Dilla's Delights Detroit

Banana pudding cake donut, HOLLER! 

(*Adorable donut earrings from my coworker!)

Blackbird Doughnuts - Boston, Massachusetts 

blackbird.jpg

Citrus old fashioned! GET IT!!!

Kane's Donuts - Boston, Massachusetts

Kane's Donuts

This was Kayla's introduction to doughnut tasting and I was so happy that she got totally into it with me. We started with one - but that was just a lie we were telling ourselves. 

Dough - Tampa, Florida

Dough Doughnuts Tampa Bay Florida

More than anything, what I appreciated about Dough was that they gave me the opportunity to have a ridiculous doughnut photo shoot with my friends portrait mode. And the fact that their creme brulee dooughnut was ridic. 

Stuffed - New York, New York 

Stuffed Doughnut Ice Cream NYC

Ice cream + doughnut ice cream sandwiches. Yeah, I went there.

(And in the same day, after brunch, we ate a Dun-Well doughnut AND two scoops at Davey's Ice Cream. Still unsure how I have avoided diabetes thus far). 

Carlson's Donuts & Thai Kitchen

Annapolis, Maryland 

Carlson's Donuts & Thai Kitchen

Talk about strange combos - Carlson's was a MUST VISIT while I was in Annapolis. I mean, when I hear that there is a run down shop that serves doughnuts from 5 AM - 11 AM and then becomes a Thai restaurant for dinner - you couldn't keep me away. 

The best part? These doughnuts were ridiculously good. 

8. Podcasts

I didn't really expect to like podcasts, but now I listen to them almost daily during my commute. They're great on the stationary bike. And sometimes I even just lay in bed and listen to one! I sound like I'm a podcast junkie but in reality, there are really only two that I listen to at the moment, so please send your recommendations my way!

*Also very interested in any podcast that has had JK Rowling as a guest. 

Ali on the Run Show

I think Ali was made to have a podcast. She's a phenomenal host who is clearly passionate about her guests, the subjects and the project in general. 

What I love about the Ali on the Run Show is that there's a structure to it, but depending on the guest each show is obviously very unique! I absolutely love the "Sprint to the Finish" portion of the show when Ali asks each guests fun questions like "Where was your first kiss?" and "What would your last meal on earth be?" These questions really help humanize the incredible (running-related) guests that she has on the show. 

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Unlike the Ali on the Run Show - Dax Shepard's new podcast has almost no structure whatsoever yet somehow I keep finding myself listening to to 2+ hour episodes where he interviews fellow celebrities and digs into some serious topics like anxiety, depression, addiction and has really candid talks about being a celebrity and what that's like for your psyche. 

By far my favorite episode was the first one when Dax had his wife, the wonderful Kristin Bell, on as a guest. I immediately started stalking them on Instagram and it's safe to say that I would like them to adopt me into their family. 

I also love the end of each episode when their family friend/podcast fact-checker Monica Padman comes on to call-out all of Dax's erroneous statements from the show. 

9. New Workouts 

Like I said - running is still a thing that my body doesn't seem to be interested in. Actually, it seems very disinterested in it. And finally, I'm listening and I'm saying "That's cool - let's do some other stuff!" 

Normally I would write a full review for each of these classes but in an effort to make up for the past, oh, I don't know, year that I neglected to do class reviews, I'm going to keep it brief. 

Orangetheory Fitness

Orangetheory Fitness Review

I checked out two OTF classes while I was in Tampa Bay and I gotta say - I didn't like them as much as I was expecting to. 

The first time, we didn't even get heart rate monitors, which was a complete bummer (I'm a numbers girl when it comes to a workout!) and the second time, I was just very frustrated at how hard it was to get my heart rate into the "Red Zone." 

I like the concept - and I like switching stations to do both cardio and strength - but it just wasn't the "OH MY GOD AMAZING" workout that I was hoping for. 

To be fair, I may actually have been asleep for the second class as evidenced by this photo. 

Everybody Fights

Everybody Fights Boxing Review

This boxing studio, owned by George Foreman's son, started in Boston and recently opened up in NYC. 

Whenever I take a boxing class, I leave feeling like I got my ass kicked and Everybody Fights was no exception! It's a really big space that offers a bunch of different kinds of classes and I definitely wouldn't be opposed to returning! 

Curious about boxing? You can check out my reviews of some other NYC boxing studios using the links below!

Shadowbox

Rumble

Work Train Fight

Overthrow

Kings Thai Boxing

Kings Thai Boxing Review NYC

My friend Bertha is a badass babe who regularly goes to Kings Thai Boxing. 

I said I would go as long as she was there to help me - and I'm so glad I did! It was definitely out of my comfort zone - I felt pretty lost most of the time - but the instructor was SO helpful and friendly and by the end of class I was a) drenched in sweat b) sore as hell and c) feeling like a total badass. 

Abby came to class too - so we got to work as partners which helped a TON. I felt less guilty every time I made a mistake holding the pads (which was very very frequently - sorry, Ab!) To be honest, remembering the sequences was harder as the person holding the pads than as the one doing the punching and kicking (at least for me). 

Can we just talk about the ~casual~ way this class ended? A ladder of DEATH, that's how. 

1 Left Kick
1 Right Kick
1 Pushups
2 Left Kicks
2 Right Kicks
2 Pushups 

Up to 10. Back down to 5. 

I have never come closer to throwing up (or collapsing during a push-up). 

Saturday's at noon Kings Thais has a Beginners Class if you feel like feelin' fierce! 

Spiderbands

Spiderbands Class Review

When I started getting targeted ads for this new fitness studio on my Instagram feed I was instantly intrigued. 

It looked so unique and mainly it just looked plain fun! Also, it seemed to be somewhat low-impact which I could use some more of! So I signed up for their intro deal (2 classes for $20!

When Bertha, Abby and I went to this class - there was only one other person there. Normally, I would think, "GREAT it's like a private class!" But instead, our instructor was super robotic and unenthusiastic the entire time. Even though we were clearly new students, and clearly the studio isn't batting people away. 

Despite that - I really did like Spiderbands just because it was so different than any other class. There's a TON you can do with these giant resistance bands which is evident when you realize they offer 6 different classes ranging from bosu ball to kickboxing to HIIT. 

We took the "Signature Spiderbands" class but I will definitely be using my second class to try something new!

Come prepared to take an epic Boomerang after class, and plan on staying a bit after to enjoy their BEAUTIFUL showers/locker rooms. 

Fithouse

I have a feeling Fit House is about to be all the rage in the NYC fitness world - especially now that ClassPass has become too expensive for a lot of people. 

The concept is pretty simple - a $99/month membership to attend classes at Fithouse studios across the city (right now, there is only one, but they plan to expand quickly to at least 3 more neighborhoods). 

While the membership doesn't gain you access to a typical gym space, it does grant you access to a bunch of different types of classes. This includes HIIT, Yoga, Strength and Barre. 

I found a discount code for a FREE two week trial when they first opened, but unfortunately, the Bowery location was pretty inconvenient for me and I only got to attend two classes. 

Pros
+Big studio with lots of equipment for different types of exercises
+Automatic lockers (no need to bring your own lock) 
+Close to subway station 

Cons
-No showers at the Bowery location (they are hoping that some of the other studios will have showers, but TBD) 
-No spin or boxing classes (personally, two of my favorite kinds of classes!) 
-The one bathroom stall is INSIDE the studio - so if you arrive before class and need to use the restroom but there's a class going on inside the studio - you can't. It's a weird set up. 

I took two of the higher intensity classes - Strength Station and Slam.  Bother were 45 minutes long. They were good - but not great. Hard, but not killer.  

The best part of Fit House was the instructor Mark - he was great!

I think as more studios open, as they hire more staff, as they add more classes, Fithouse definitely has the potential to be an affordable option for people who like to take a lot of classes as opposed to belonging to a gym. 

They're currently running a $19 deal for a 2 week trial! (Just be sure you cancel if you don't want to sign up or they'll automatically start charging you at the end of the two weeks!)

Sweat Yoga

It was sweaty, it was yoga. It was a yoga class I took before I liked yoga - so not much to say about it! 

Barry's Bootcamp

Who woulda thunk that my first Barry's Bootcamp class would actually be in SWEDEN? 

That's right. While I was in Stockholm for work, I went to a Barry's class! I ended up finding a class on the schedule that was taught in English and thank God for that. I don't know why I had been thinking it would be no problem taking the class in Swedish - I definitely would have regretted it as we did some pretty complicated moves with the stepper and resistance bands for the strength portion of the class!

Chris Mosiers' Deck A Day Challenge

This isn't new - but it's a workout that I have been LOVING and doing very frequently. Each year, Chris runs a Facebook group that challenges you to do a deck of cards workout every day from Thanksgiving to New Years' Eve. I've done it the past 3 years and at the end of it, I'm always in SUCH GOOD SHAPE. 

It's a strength workout, a cardio workout, an ab workout, and uses a lot of the exercises that I normally let fall to the wayside that are actually super important (glute bridges, donkey kicks, etc.)  

Deck A Day Workout

He keeps the group running throughout the year - so if I'm ever feeling uninspired at the gym I'll check the page! We were lucky enough to have Chris in NYC a few weeks ago and got to do the deck of the day live and in person in Central Park which was awesome :)

You can also follow along on his Instagram account.

 

10. Billie

Instagram sponsored ads are my best friend and my worst enemy. They can show me an ad enough times and I'll 100% start to think that I need it. Like that damn Quip toothbrush they keep pushing on me. 

But Billie is one that I barely even hesitated before purchasing. Essentially, it's a month subscription for new razor blades. The concept behind it is basically my internal monologue of: 

WHY IS IT SO DAMN EXPENSIVE TO BUY REPLACEMENT RAZOR BLADES AS A WOMAN? 

WHY DO I ALWAYS END UP JUST BUYING A NEW RAZOR BECAUSE IT'S HALF THE PRICE AS A PACK OF BLADES? 

SHOULD I JUST GET THESE SHITTY DISPOSABLE ONES?

I thought that maybe my whole life I was missing something - but nope, apparently the founders of Billie were on the same page. 

Razor blade prices + laziness + my travel schedule ensure that I am almost always using razor blades that are far too old and dull to effectively shave my legs. In fact, they're probably downright dangerous. 

The ratio of the amount of time I spend at a gym in shorts and how often my legs are well-shaven is not socially acceptable.

So I ordered a Billie razor in a cute coral color. It came in the mail with a super ~minimalist~ magnetic holder that takes up zero space in the shower. It came with two razor blades that are smooth and wonderful. Every 3 months I'll get 4 NEW BLADES FOR $9.80. In the mail. 

I don't know why this is so exciting to me but it is. I wrote an email to all my female coworkers the day I found out about it and group texted like 20 girlfriends. 

WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE. 

They also have a super cool message about the "Pink Tax" which they define as - 

PINK TAX: the extra amount women are charged for certain products (*ahem* razors) or services. For no reason. Unless being female is a reason.

Word. 

So, help a sista out - if you use the link below to order your Billie razor I'll get some coupons or somethin' 

11. Gap

Bonus #11!

Not much to say on this except I have been LOVING everything from the Gap and it's getting to be a problem. 

I online shop with my Gap Cash because, "It would be a waste not to use it," and then I tell myself, "There's a Gap right near the office, just order it and it if it doesn't fit you can return it." Except can you guess how much I have ordered and decided to return? That's right, none of it. 

Gap Model

On any given day, you can find me wearing multiple items from the Gap. Most recently, I have purchased not only clothing from them but undergarments and workout clothes as well - so that my entire wardrobe is beginning to resemble the store. 

Oops. 

THAT WAS FUN! 

I feel like we're all caught up, and now I can start pushing out some new, relevant, timely posts! Thanks for stickin' around. 

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My Favorite Pre-Packaged Bars

Athletes today may be gluten-free, vegan or paleo. They may choose to only eat organic products, or Whole 30 approved foods.

It can make selecting a pre-workout snack somewhat complicated. I never really gave much thought to what my gluten-free or vegan running friends did for fuel until one of my Ragnar Relay teammates had to request certain snacks on our Costco run.

There are tons of recipes and real foods you can make to fuel your runs if you’ve got dietary restrictions, but sometimes you just want the simplicity of grabbing a prepacked bar and heading out the door. Luckily, there are a lot of options out there nowadays that don't require making your own energy balls or granola bars. 

I almost always eat half of some sort of a bar in the morning before leaving my apartment for the gym or the office to hold me over until my full breakfast. Even if i'm not doing much running lately, I need something to get me through a strength workout, swim or bike ride. Or even just the NYC rush hour commute. 

Here are some of my favorites!

Favorite Gluten Free Snacks for Runners

Dates

If you’re looking to go the natural route, I’ve found dates to be surprisingly effective at giving me that little boost of energy before a short morning workout. Adding a smear of peanut butter brings it to the next level – as it does with most things.

Brown Rice Cakes

Gluten free, quick to eat, and again – delicious when paired with peanut butter! I’ve recently been turned on to rice cakes’ cousin – the elusive corn cake! They aren’t found as easily in stores, but they’re also gluten free and have much more flavor than your average rice cake!

GoMacro Bars

Recently, GoMacro sent me a variety pack of their many different flavored bars to sample and I was really impressed! Not only are all 10 of their flavors gluten free, but they’re vegan as well!

My favorite thing about GoMacro bars were that they weren’t overly sugary and sweet, which meant I could have a half of a bar without instantly feeling like I needed to keep eating it because it was like candy. That’s not to say that they didn’t taste good – they just didn’t taste like dessert.

Typically I’m a fan of the chocolatey and peanut butter-y flavors – but with GoMacro, I absolutely went CRAZY for the “Sunny Uplift” bar with cherries + berries.

It tasted like a healthy cherry pie – probably my favorite bar that I’ve ever had!

GoMacro Gluten Free Runners

GoMacro bars didn’t taste chemically to me at all – unlike some others (I'm looking at you, Quest bars, which used to be my go-to and now I can’t stomach!) One thing to note is that they’re on the softer side. If you’re looking for something crunchier, you might want to try a different product.

I brought a handful of GoMacro bars with me on my trip to Banff and Jasper this summer, and Callie, Abby and I ate them before runs, during hikes, and as snacks to hold us over until our next meal.

gomacro1.jpg

KIND Bars

KIND bars are produced in a gluten free facility and the company keeps rolling out new products – but their fruit and nut bars are still my favorite because you can tell that it’s got real ingredients. My favorite flavor is the Blueberry Vanilla & Cashew!

These are on the crunchier side, and their “healthy grains” line are, as their packaging states, “chewy with a crunch!” (I love that they serve these on Delta flights to Business Class now!)

RX Bars

The consistency of RX bars takes some getting used to – they can be a bit of a workout for your jaw, especially if you’re storing them somewhere on the colder side. That being said, you can’t beat them when it comes to clear cut, simple ingredients.

RX bars are all gluten free, but they aren’t vegan as they contain egg whites. It took me awhile to come around to RX bars, but once I tried the Chocolate Coconut I was all in.

LARABARS

If you like dates, you’ll love Lara Bars. These are smaller than some of the other bars, but they’re dense and filling and gluten free.

Lara Bars also have TONS of flavors – like, over 20 of them! So you’re sure to find one that you like (may I suggest the chocolate chip cookie dough?)

What are you favorite bars? 

Restaurant Review: Trattoria Dell'Arte

In May, my family and I went to see HAMILTON on Broadway. And while I had been a little nervous that the hype was going to be unwarranted - I'm here to tell you that it is as close to musical theater perfection as I will probably ever experience. Lin-Manuel Miranda's talent is mind blowing, truly. 

After the matinee performance, we went out for an early dinner at Trattoria Dell'Arte - whose website uses the phrase "VEGETARIAN EXTRAVAGANZA." While I'm not actually a vegetarian, I absolutely love vegetable-focused menus. (Abby, I said vegetable-focused instead of veggie-heavy JUST FOR YOU, you're welcome).

Trattoria Dell'Arte Restaurant Review

Trattoria Dell'Arte

Pick 6 - Antipasto Bar

Trattoria Dell'Arte Antipasto Bar

Tattoria Dell'Arte has a MASSIVE antipasto bar with 32 VEGETABLES. My sister and I quickly got down to business - fighting it out over which 6 would continue on in the hopes of becoming America's Next Top Vegetable (who writes this shit?)

After much debate, we landed on:

  • Roasted Heirloom Carrots (against the moans of everyone at the table, I bravely defended my all time favorite vegetable)
  • Sauteed Broccoli Rabe (our waiter gave us this as an extra bonus)
  • Roasted Seasonal Mushrooms
  • Eggplant Caponata 
  • Zucchini Parmigiana 
  • Roasted Cauliflower 
  • Spaghetti Squash

My two favorites were definitely the Zucchini Parmigiana and Eggplant Caponata! 

We also chose to add the burrata for an extra $6 and, unpopular opinion over here, I'm not all-in on the burrata craze! I gave my portion away. 

Braised Octopus & Calamari

Trattoria Dell'Arte NYC Review

OH WOW. I've been lucky enough to have some damn good octopus dishes in my lifetime, and this was right up there with some of the most tender, flavorful, octopus. 

Thin Crust Pizza 

Trattoria Dell'Arte Thin Crust Pizza

Again, this created some debate - with so many amazing sounding options, it was difficult to decide what we wanted. When our waiter informed us we could do half and half, we were overjoyed. OK, maybe that was just me. 

Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese & Fried Artichoke, Seasonal greens

This was everyone else's favorite - and I loved it too, don't get me wrong! It's just that the other half was...

Pesto & Broccoli Rabe

I rarely crave pizza, but I was so excited for this thin-crust 'za. And I ate every crumb that the rest of my family was "too full" to finish. The pesto was made with almonds, pine nuts and basil and it was delicious!

Though I'm not usually one to get excited over Italian restaurants, Trattoria Dell'Arte is worth getting excited over. There are tons of options, and not all of them will leave you feeling like you're stuffed silly. Not to mention the location is ideal for those times when you're stuck in Midtown and not sure where to go for decent food! 

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Restaurant Review: Jean-George's ABC Cocina

Long at the top of my Restaurant Bucket List, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's fancy, fresh Latin American restaurant was a "treat yo self" meal with friends from work. My "birthday week" and a friend visiting from Denver meant that money wasn't as big of a concern as it typically would be.

As soon as I walked into ABC Cocina, I was delighted by the decor. It's a place much like Tao in the sense that the furnishings add to the fancy feel - my friends even sat next to Betsy Johnson the last time they went for lunch!

Imagine our delight when we were seated at a table in a little window nook - our own private spot with plenty of natural light for picture taking ;)

ABC Cocina Restaurant Review

ABC Cocina

Spring Pea Guacamole

Pea Guacamole

Apparently, this guacamole was the guac heard round the world when it ignited rage on the internet in an event known as "Peagate." This is not a drill, folks.   

Personally, I was very PEASed with this guac - I thought one of us might start licking the bowl to make sure we got every last bite.

Also, please note the beautifully orange homemade habanero hot sauce in the cute little glass bottle. We joked about slipping it into a purse on the way out until it became quite obvious there wouldn't be any left by the end of our meal.  

Tuna Tartare

ABC Cocina Review

Typically, tuna tartare is a hit with me - give me fresh, raw tuna and I'll probably be happy. Somehow, ABC Cocina got this wrong - the texture and look aside (not exactly appetizing) it seemed like our tartare was loaded with some relish-tasting-addition. Likely, these were the chilies but they must have been pickled or something. Anyway - no bueno on the tartare. 

Ham & Cheese Fritters 

The menu describes them as gooey and spicy, but to me they were a little bland and boring. Half of the table loved them while the other half weren't thrilled. The flavor was fine (the ham was my favorite part) but overall, these weren't anything that WOWed me.

Ground Beef & Celery Root Empanadas

I'm sad to say that these didn't blow me away either - they were tasty, sure, but no different than any other empanada I've eaten in my lifetime (which is admittedly not a very high number). 

Grilled Asparagus, Jamon Iberico & Lemon 

ABC Cocina NYC Review

Our meal was back on track with this fresh, veggie-centric dish. Ok, veggie with a healthy side of meat. I felt so fancy reading the menu and knowing all about Jamon Iberico thanks to my cooking class in Barcelona! 

The asparagus + ham combo was light and wonderful with the perfect balance of salty, citrus-y and savory. 

Sauteed Mushroom Tacos 

ABC Cocina NYC

So much yes! Cashews, mole, kale, lime and sauteed mushrooms were a thrillingly wonderful combination. No cheese necessary. And corn tortillas thank GOD because serving tacos on flour tortillas is a SIN and I'm stickin' with that statement. 

Griddled Fish Tacos 

ABC Cocina Jean-Georges

Deece. (I think that's the first time I've used that...) But to be frank - fish tacos for me are ruined unless they are of the Tako variety

Beef Tenderloin "Burnt Ends" with Chimichurri 

ABC Cocina Restaurant Review

The best thing about eating out with friends in a group is ending up with things on the table that you wouldn't have necessarily ordered on your own. Such was the case with this beef tenderloin. Silly me for skipping over this - probably because the menu didn't read "THE MOST TENDER, BUTTERY MEAT IN THE WORLD" and "DROWNED IN CHIMICHURRI SAUCE WHICH, IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW, IS CRACK." Chimichurri - you're my new culinary obsession (welcome to club, which also includes dukkah and pesto). 

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Sundae 

Best NYC Desserts

I'm not the type of person to skip dessert. I have a sweet tooth, and I'm not afraid to use it. When I heard peanut butter & chocolate sundae, I was sold. But I couldn't have been prepared for what would follow. 

I declare, here, on the world wide web, that this was the most phenomenal dessert I have ever stuffed my face with. 

At first, I was a little confused about the strawberry sorbet and strawberry compote. But as I ate, there was no doubt in my mind that these flavors WORKED together like the damn Schuyler Sisters (had to...). 

A moist, fudgey, gooey brownie piled with chocolate ice cream and strawberry sorbet. Drizzled with sweet, tangy strawberry compote and ringed with massive chunks of homemade peanut butter cups that put Reese's and Justin's to shame on the PB to Chocolate ratio. 

(Sorry, I just really wanted to use moist, drizzled and chunks all in one sentence - how gross can you get?)

Our waiter, when he saw us loving on this sundae, made the remark, "It's great right? Just like a a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."

I SHRIEKED as it all made sense - why the strawberry, peanut butter and chocolate were blended in perfect harmony. Why I was almost moved to tears by the empty bowl now sitting in front of us.

From what I can tell, ABC Cocina changes it's ice cream sundae regularly - and when this PB/Choco/Strawberry miracle is no longer on the menu, it will be a sad do for New York City and the world.

Please, just scroll back up for a second and look at the amount of peanut butter. 

OK, I'm done. I promise. 

After a conversation revolving around NYC celebrity spottings, I apparently somehow missed Jake Gyllenhaal sitting at an outside sidewalk table on our way out. COOL. 

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Eating My Way Through The City of Bridges: 8 Pittsburgh Restaurants

Who knew that Pittsburgh had so many phenomenal restaurants? On a recent trip, I discovered some of what the 'burgh has to offer. 

What that really amounted to was experiencing what the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group has to offer - seeing as I ate at 3 out of 4 of their restaurants during my stay, with a few other spots along the way. 

Shall we? 

Where to Eat in Pittsburgh

Habitat

Habitat was where we managed to get a reservation for Valentine's Day Dinner - a motley crew of 5 co-workers dining at this restaurant located in the Fairmont Pittsburgh. It was upscale, featuring local ingredients with dishes inspired by flavors from around the globe. 

Fresh Tandoor Baked Naan 

This flavorful naan came served with spreads including the best hummus I have ever had in my entire life. I still stand by that statement - it tasted like straight-up chickpea euphoria. 

Roasted Organic Beet 

Habitat Pittsburgh

Served with goat cheese, wild flower honey and berries - this was a beautifully plated dish. I loved that the beets tasted so earthy and natural.

Carrot Ginger Soup 

This was phenomenally fresh and simple - it truly just tasted like carrots and ginger. I couldn't eat a ton of it, but it was delicious is small doses. 

Striped Bass

Habitat Pittsburgh

For my entree I went with the striped bass after much back and forth, based mainly on each dishes accouterments. The striped bass came with a a chickpea panisse that was disappointingly dry, Castelvaetrano olives, tomato marmalade and chive cream that was crazy good. 

The striped bass was very well cooked and overall, I enjoyed the dish though I wasn't blown away. My favorite part of the meal remained the hummus! 

Some of the other entrees that intrigued me were the Black Cod with mushrooms and turnips and the lamb rack because I <3 Lamb. 

I also loved that the menu had an extensive vegetarian portion - with 4 entree options including Chickpea Ragout and smoked heirloom carrots that tempted me to go veggie for the night. 

Dessert

We also had two amazing desserts - one with macadamia nuts, bananas, and other deliciousness and one that was a classic brownie sundae with lots and lots of chocolate. Both were addictive. 

Bakersfield ~ Tacos. Tequila. Whisky. 

Bakersfield Pittsburgh

This spot was right around the corner from our hotel and was a standard tacos, margaritas and guac spot. The one thing that stood out was the fact that their Premium Margarita featured Grand Marnier - the secret ingredient to a killer marg. 

Tako

Tako Pittsburgh

The margarita menu is extensive and each carefully cracked concoction sounds better than the next. Pineapple Jalapeno? Grapefruit & Sage? Spicy Cucumber? How's a girl to choose? All that I sampled were A+, though I will admit the Grapefruit & Sage was lacking any real grapefruit flavor. 

Guacamole 

Tako Review

I love the DIY guacamole menu - pick your base and load up on add ons that range from more traditional (corn, mango, green onion) to out-there (tuna belly, shishito, sesame seeds). Each item comes at an additional cost, but building my own guacamole was one of my favorite parts of the meal! I highly recommend mango or pineapple for a sweet touch, pepitas for a bit of a crunch and queso fresco because...cheese. 

Tacos 

Taco Big Board Pittsburgh Tako

Get them all. Seriously. You can't go wrong. My absolute favorite was the Baja taco - in fact, it was probably my favorite fish taco, or taco in general, ever. The description is simple enough - tempura white fish, jalapeno lime aioli, white cabbage slaw and cilantro. I'm not sure what made it so amazing - but it was life-changing. 

Also incredible was their namesake "Tako" taco - grilled octopus, harissa aioli, preserved lemons, mizuna greens & herbs and pickled red onion. This was the most smoky, charred tasting thing I have ever eaten - with the hint of lemon, it was killer. Not to mention it was perfectly tender - not chewy like octopus can sometimes be. Who knew that an octopus tentacle nestled in a corn tortilla could be so good? 

The second time I went to Tako, we ordered the TACO BIG BOARD. 

It's big. 12 tacos. 4 girls. We made a dent, but didn't come close to finishing it. Each taco is more than generously sized - we sampled a good variety including the Tako and Baja again because I insisted, along with the Chorizo (carmelized onions, roasted poblano, romesco, fried egg, queso fresco, arbol hot sauce, cilantro), Mushroom (roasted maitake, garlic aioli, truffle huitlacoche salsa, brussel sprout salad) and more. 

I definitely need to go back to try the Duck Confit and Korean tacos. 

Poke

Pittsburgh Tako

Some of the best I've had - so fresh, and the "whipped lime" was so creative and different. Big eye tuna, seaweed, spicy soy dressing, whipped lime and rice crackers. Phenom. 

Meat & Potatoes

On my last night, I dined at this Pittsburgh staple, also by Richard DeShantz. Another gorgeous space, I wasn't sure I would love this spot since I wouldn't consider myself a meat and potatoes kind of girl. I'm definitely more of a "vegetables & fish for the most part" girl. 

That being said, I spotted pot roast on the menu, and that is a huge comfort food for me. A very random dish that brings me back to my childhood and eating it with red cabbage. 

So many people recommended it that I decided it was worth a shot - plus, it was named one of Food & Wine's Best Gastropubs in the U.S. in 2014. 

Cocktails 

These cocktails were STRONG. I had two during my meal - both tequila based, obviously. The first was a special - basically a mezcal mule. It was strong and smoky and I could only drink it in small sips. The second was a lot sweeter and smoother - The Mexican Honeybee - Espolon tequila, lemon, smoked local honey, orange bitters and a mezcal rinse. Let's pretend I know what a mezcal rinse is, shall we? 

*Okay, I Googled it, and I'm pretty sure it just means they literally rinse the inside of the glass with mezcal before pouring in the cocktail. 

Fried Brussels 

Meat & Potatoes Review

Is it dinner if you don't get unhealthy Brussels Sprouts? Not really. 

These were fairly simple - Parmesan and lemon aioli - but tasted great. 

Lamb Ribs 

Meat & Potatoes Pittsburgh

These were a special the night that we went to Meat & Potatoes - lamb ribs served with crunchy chickpeas ensure that I would be ordering it. The flavor was GREAT, but the meat wasn't as tender as I would have expected from a place that prides itself on it's meat! 

Mushroom Ragu Side 

HOLY GARLIC. You really couldn't even tell that these were mushrooms they were so over-seasoned with garlic. 

Pot Roast

Meat & Potatoes Pittsburgh Review

Braised chuck roast, baby carrots, turnips, cipollini onions, parsnips, mashed potatoes and horseradish gremolata. 

WOW was this tender and just as comfort-food-y as I had hoped. I didn't even miss the red cabbage because of the combination of gravy + onions, parsnips, turnips and baby carrots. WOOT FOR ROOT veggies. 

The mashed potatoes weren't out of this world, but I've never really met a potato that I didn't like. 

This really hit the spot, as Pot Roast always seems to do when it's well done. 

Social House Seven 

This group outing results in ordering a TON of food - I was put in charge of ordering appetizers for the table - a roll I relish. I also love relish on my hot dog rolls. 

Anyway. Social House Seven is like the Pittsburgh version of Tao. Large, fancy inside with a huge Asian-fusion menu and koi fish swimming until a clear glass panel when you walk in the door. 

Among the items that we sampled: 

CHEE CHEE FRIED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
 

CRISPY ROCK SHRIMP
 

KI KING BROCCOLI
 

STEAMED PORK DUMPLING
 

GRILLED SHISHITO PEPPERS
 

WHOLE ROMANESCI

Grilled over a robata grill and served with whipped feta, these were very unique and very delicious. The texture made it impossible to think you were eating cauliflower. Though my coworkers didn't seem too thrilled, I thought they were great!

Sea Bass Pumpkin Noodle

Social House Seven Pittsburgh

This entree was SO good. I seriously loved it and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the whole meal in general. Squash ribbons and snow peas slathered in a red curry broth with red curried coconut with a big hunk of sea bass on top. While the fish was a little dry, the squash noodles and curry sauce made up for it. 

Peace Love & Little Donuts

Peace Love and Little Donuts Pittsburgh

Wouldn't be a trip without a donut spot! 

Pittsburgh's most well-known doughnut shop seemed to be Peace, Love & Little Donuts so we had a dozen delivered to the office on Valentine's Day (DUH!) 

While these doughnuts didn't make the top 5 list, they were delicious, as all doughnuts are in their own special way ;) 

I liked the fact that these were little - though it didn't stop me from eating them throughout the day. If anything, it made it easier to "just try one more...." 

I was shocked to find that my favorite flavor was the one coated in mini M&Ms! Never would have guessed that. 

Peace, Love & Little Donuts has "Groovy" donuts (the simple ones, like cinnamon and glazed), "Far Out" donuts (frosted donuts with flavors like strawberry, mocha, and chocolate), and the donuts that are more my speed - "Funkadelic" (frosting + crazy toppings). 

Pittsburgh Donuts

Overall, I was impressed with the food scene in Pittsburgh. There were tons of other places I wanted to try, and I never got my Pittsburgh Pierogies, but I left with a new favorite taco! 

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San Diego With a Side of Doughnuts

My trip to Los Angeles and San Diego obviously included two stops to epic doughnut detours. 

San Diego doughnuts
Sidecar Doughnuts

Legend has it that my friend Rebecca cried when eating a chocolate doughnut from Sidecar Doughnuts. 

Needless to say, I was excited for my trip here in January. 

It was our first stop on our journey from Irvine to San Diego and by the time we arrived there was already a line and the sweet smell of sugar wafting out of the storefront. 

Sidecar was beautiful inside, with a small amount of seating and additional tables and chairs out on the sidewalk. 

I wasn't sure where to start with my order, so I just started pointing when I stepped up to the counter - making my way down the line until I was satisfied with 4 doughnuts and a doughnut hole. 2 Girls, 4.5 Doughnuts - sounds about right. 

Sidecar Doughnuts Review

Butter + Salt 

To be honest, this doughnut was a little too much for me. So, so rich that I could only stomach a bite of it. 

Rosemary and Honey 

This glaze was very good and full of rosemary and honey flavor, but it was atop a yeast doughnut, which is not usually my favorite. 

Chocolate Budino 

This monstrosity was A chocolate doughnut with a chocolate budino filling, whipped creme fraiche, house made caramel, chocolate sable crumbs and jacobsen sea salt. 

We didn't love this - it was a little bland, and again, a little "much." 

Glazed Doughnut Hole 

Very, very good. The outside was crispy and the inside was moist. The best. 

Sidecar Doughnuts Review California

Huckleberry 

This doughnut single-handedly put Sidecar Donuts back on my good side. And this doughnut landed itself a spot on my top 5 doughnuts EVER (joined by the Tres Leches from Doughnut Plant, London Fog from Glory Hole Doughnuts, Gooey Butter Cake Doughnut from Strange Doughnuts, and the Everything Doughnut from The Doughnut Project).

This was definitely on the FRIED side - which is what gave it it's crispy exterior and deliciously rich, moist-yet-cakey inside. It was like a gloriously warm blueberry muffin encapsulated in sugary muffin-top textured glaze. 

I couldn't stop saying "OMG" as I ate it. 

Sidecar's huckleberries are foraged in Oregon and express shipped to the bakery overnight. I'm not sure if that's what gave this doughnut it's extra special amazingness - but it was absolutely incredible. 

Donut Bar

A place that serves donuts and craft beer? Yeah, I feel you San Diego. 

The doughnuts at this spot are over the top for sure. For one, they're GIANT. Certifiably MASSIVE. Elephantiasis-level doughnuts. and Emily and I chose perhaps the two craziest on the menu. 

Homer's Donut 

San Diego Donut Bar

An XL pink glazed beauty with sprinkles. The most perfectly-picture ready doughnut you'll ever find. A though simple, it was pretty damn tasty! 

Big Poppa-Tart Donut 

Big Poppa Tart Donut

Alright, get ready to judge the HELL out of me - but yes, I did order this donut that is STUFFED with a FULL-SIZED POPTART. A S'more pop-tar to be precise. 

It was worth it for the chance to say I tried it - but honestly, it was underwhelming. The best part of a pop-tart is when the edges are crispy-burnt and the filling is melty and warm. The pop-tart being inside a doughnut meant that it was mostly soggy and sad. 

Blueberry with Myer Lemon 

After our experience with the Huckleberry doughnut at Sidecar, I couldn't pass up a chance to try another berry-based baked good! Plus, this was one of the only cake doughnuts that Donut Bar offered. It was good, but forgettable - nowhere near the doughnut perfection achieved by Sidecar. 

THIS IS THE BIG POPPA TART DONUT CUT IN HALF!!!!

THIS IS THE BIG POPPA TART DONUT CUT IN HALF!!!!

Overall, Donut Bar disappointed. But it had a lot of fun doughnut-decor and was a cool spot to check out! 

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DIY Peanut Butter Potluck: 7 Sweet & Savory Peanut Butter Recipes

And now, for a completely on-brand post: Peanut Butter Potluck Recipes. 

I love hosting themed potlucks with my friends - we've had dip night, oatmeal night, fall foods, a Christmas potluck, and my latest idea was a purely peanut butter based potluck. 

My friends have since admitted that at first, they weren't impressed with the idea. Everyone was expecting that there would be a lot of the same dishes. But we were surprised to find that we had a great mix of appetizers, entrees and desserts using PB as a main ingredient. 

Here are 7 delicious recipes for your very own Peanut Butter Potluck! 

Peanut Butter Potluck Recipes

Appetizer 

Peanut Butter Hummus from Nigella

Photo By Lis Parsons

Photo By Lis Parsons

Normally, the key ingredient in hummus is tahini - a paste made out of sesame seeds. But I used this recipe and a few others for inspiration in creating a peanut butter based hummus! For mine, I tossed in some chipotle peppers for that extra little somethin' somethin' and I think it was KEY. 

Entrees

Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce by Food Network Magazine

Melissa made this spaghetti squash dish that had tons of flavor! Melissa altered the recipe and used about 3/4 of a squash while tripling the sauce recipe. Hers was baked in the oven instead of microwaved and she threw in some shredded carrots and cabbage. 

What is your spaghetti policy? Anyone get the reference? 

Pressure Cooker Thai Chicken Thighs by Pressure Cooking Today

Recipes using pressure cookers or "instant pots" seem to be everywhere! Erin hasn't had gas for MONTHS in her apartment, so she's become quite the professional. This chicken was DELISH - so tender, so flavorful. We wrapped it up in lettuce to make little wraps! 

Sticky Peanut Cauliflower Wings by One Green Planet

While we wouldn't necessarily categorize these as wings, it was a WONDERFUL cauliflower dish made by Abby.

She followed the recipe but added the step to gently warm all the non-cauliflower ingredients in a saucepan before pouring it over the florets and mixing - cause she's fancy like that! 

Desserts

Peanut Butter Cookie Gooey Bars by Crazy for Crust

Kaitlin hit it out of the park when she found this recipe from Crazy for Crust. These were certainly ooey and gooey and also had a crispy, crunchy outer layer. 

It was a problem that she left the leftovers behind - trust me, they didn't last long in my apartment. 

Caramel Apple Peanut Butter Bars by Sally's Baking Addiction

Callie made these, which are a wonderful alternative to trying to eat a caramel apple - which is just not a pleasant experience if you ask me. 

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites by Get Creative Juice

These were PHENOMENAL - my new roommate, Jackie, came in CLUTCH with this contribution. She altered the recipe a little bit  by using a pre-made granola that contained oats, coconut, vanilla and chia seeds in place of those ingredients in the recipe and it worked like magic, I tell ya. 

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Where to Eat in DTLA

Some cities are more accommodating than others to visitors that are trying to eat healthy on the road. Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, Los Angeles is a city with endless dining choices – many of which focus on fresh, light, nutritious dishes. 

I was happy to travel to the west coast for 12 days in the middle of winter – determined to eat my way through the land of acai and poke bowls. Here are 9 spots I enjoyed on my trip.

Where to eat in Downtown LA

Café Gratitude

This all-veggie all-organic hot spot has been on the top of my foodie bucket list for quite some time now, and it was the first place I went after arriving in California (after a quick sweat-session at Rise Nation…) Café Gratitude first popped onto my radar via Instagram – it’s a favorite among bloggers like @shutthekaleup.

Cafe Gratitude

We happened to go during Dine LA, the Los Angeles version of New York City’s “Restaurant Week.” We opted for the Dine LA menu, which allowed us to choose 2 dishes for $20 each. We only ate about 50% of the four dishes we ordered – not because we weren’t hungry or didn’t like it – but because it was an extremely generous amount of food for $20!

Brussels Sprouts

Cafe Gratitude Review

These were maple miso glazed and while they were perfectly fine, they were nothing super special. I’m always a fan of Brussels, but I still think the best I’ve ever had were at Bareburger. This could also be due to the fact that I ate them after having previously biked 30 miles and cried because I was so hungry and didn’t want to walk to the restaurant (true story).

Chili Bowl

Cafe Gratitude Healthy LA

Wow. Wowowow. This was so hearty and flavorful and the crumbled jalapeno biscuit was killer. This is the kind of dish you can make your meat-eating friends try and then say, “SEE! Eating vegan doesn’t mean giving up on filling, delicious meals!”

The chili was loaded with red beans, tempeh, sweet potato, avocado, and more.

The only thing we were a little unsure about was the dollop of what looked like whipped butter on top. It was actually a cashew sour cream, and though I tried to get on board with it, it just wasn’t my thing.

Pad Thai Kelp Noodles

Vegan LA Cafe Gratitude

This was a lighter dish than the chili and I loved the texture of the kelp noodles. If you’re in the mood for a cold dish but don’t want to go the salad route, I recommend ordering this.

Kelp noodles are smothered in a delicious Thai almond sauce with carrots, red bell pepper, kale, teriyaki almonds and sunflower sprouts.

Mole Abuelita Enchilades

Best Healthy Food LA Cafe Gratitude

I think this was my favorite of the 4 dishes. If I hadn’t known, I never would have guessed that these enchiladas had no meat or cheese in them. I was again blown away at how satisfying these were – with real authentic Mexican flavor to boot.

The dish is comprised of black beans, grilled Portobello mushrooms, braised butternut squash, avocado, Mexican coleslaw, esabeche and an amazing cashew queso fresco. I love cashew “cheese.”

When our waiter delivered our food, he gave us the “Question of the Day” which was “What inspired you?” My first reaction was, “This is a little too hippy-dippy for me, let me eat my food in peace” but, when in LA…

Emily and I actually discussed the question when the waiter walked away and I’m glad we did – it was an interesting topic. I first said that nature inspires me – watching sunsets is my favorite thing in the world – but I also loved Emily’s answers of traveling and seeing people we care about achieve their goals.

Another feel-good aspect of Café Gratitude, other than the name itself, is the fact that the menu items are all inspirational words like Ecstatic! Dazzling! and Humble! When the waiters bring you you’re food, they deliver it and say, “You are Dazzling,” “You are Lucky.” Thanks, hot hipster waiter, I know I’m Smokin’ ;) 

Next time I’m at Café Gratitude, I definitely want to try some of their refreshing sounding juices and elixirs like the pineapple, pear and ginger juice or the heavenly sounding smoothie with coconut cashew ice cream, almond milk, cacao nibs, almond butter and vanilla bean. KK.

Baco Mercat

I read about Baco Mercat on The Infatuation and was intrigued by their signature item, the “Baco” – part taco, part sandwich, part flatbread and 100% created by chef and owner Josef Centeno.

I also loved the rest of the menu – with a focus on small plates great for sharing and inspired by cuisines from across the globe.

This was the second restaurant in LA to tell me and my friends that we were ordering too much food – but the three of us did a solid job eating the following dishes:

Ricotta Fritters
honey, lemon zest, dill

Baco Mercat Review

None of us were impressed with these, sadly.

The Toron Baco
Oxtail hash, cheddar tater, horseradish-yogurt

Baco from Baco Mercat

The original Baco contained crispy pork belly and beef carnitas with caraway pepper sauce and salbitxada according to Baco Mercat’s website – but the Toron Baco is now the most talked about and for good reason! This was DELICIOUS and though I don’t really know exactly what oxtail hash is, I would gladly eat it again and again.

Double Mushroom Coca (Crispy or Chewy Flatbread)
Shitake, Crimini, Fontina, Chili Flakes

Baco Mercat LA

We opted for the crispy flatbread, and this was mushroomy masterpiece.

Caramelized Cauliflower
Pine Nuts, Mint, Garlic, Sumac Lebni, Chili

Baco Mercat LA Foodie

I always love cauliflower, and while this wasn’t over the top amazing, it was delicious as cauliflower always is – especially when paired with pine nuts!

Blistered Okra
Tomato, Fenugreek, basil, lebni, sesame

Baco Mercat Healthy LA

We were shocked at how much we loved this! There were a lot of different flavors in it, and after some research, I found out the Fenugreek is full of health benefits like reducing inflammation, improves exercise performance, and promotes milk flow in breastfeeding women! It’s also a key ingredient in many Indian curries. 

Caesar Brussels Sprouts
Pecorino, anchovy, garlic, croutons

Baco Mercat LA

This was served as a shredded Brussels Sprout salad and tasted exactly like a Caesar Salad!

Hamachi Crudo
Abkhazian spice, avocado, hash brown, crème fraiche

Baco Mercat Review

We all agreed that this was probably our favorite dish of the night – so light yet so flavorful! The Hamachi melted in your mouth!

Mainland Poke

Best Poke LA

My secret weapon when I’m traveling for work is ordering delivery to my hotel room using Postmates. Room service usually takes forever, is super expensive, and doesn’t have a ton of options (especially healthy ones).

Postmates, on the other hand, will deliver directly to your hotel room door (at most hotels) and there are SO MANY OPTIONS. Even restaurants that don’t offer their own delivery allow Postmates drivers to pick up food for delivery. 

When in California, I knew I needed to eat some poke – a raw fish salad originally from Hawaii. From Mainland Poke I ordered a 3 scoop bowl with baby greens, kelp noodles, Ahi tuna, salmon, octopus, avocado yuzu ponzu, cucumber, edamame, mango, seaweed, sweet onion, tobiko, black sesame and red sea salt. Basically, everything you could possibly put in a poke bowl – I ordered!

It was delicious and light while still incredibly filling. Everything tasted fresh and it was great as delivery because it didn’t need to be kept warm! 

Mas Malo 

We headed here for a big group dinner knowing that it was a favorite among some of our staff. 

Four Salsa Flight With Chips 

The four flavors were burnt habanero cream, fresh tomatillo, warm chocolate mole and fresh pico de gallo. It was a great spread, but little did we know, we missed the opportunity to order Mas Malo's famous off-menu "chewy chips" that my coworker had been raving about! 

After devouring multiple baskets of chips, we realized that our counterparts at another table were chowing down on chewy chips. once bite and we were hooked and had to order a round for our table too! These half-baked tortilla chips are seriously crack and you can't go to Mas Malo without ordering them! 

Guacamole 

Solid - with pomegranate seeds for a fruity punch! 

Sauteed Cactus and Onions
White Wine, Butter, Cilantro

We didn't know what to expect eating cactus, but it just tasted like a green vegetable - and what doesn't taste good smothered in white wine and butter? 

Roasted Squash
Squash, Dry Chili, Piloncillo

What's piloncillo? It's unrefined cane sugar - so this side dish was essentially dessert. YUM.

Carnitas "Al Pastor" 

Mas Malo LA Review

For my entree I opted for the NorCal pork shoulder with achiote paste, pineapple juice, guacamole, and sour cream. I'm a sucker for fruit with my meat, especially when it comes to Mexican food. This was very tender and flavorful, though not that best Al Pastor I've ever had. I was so full of chips at this point, that I enjoyed the pork with the side salad instead of making tacos with the tortillas they served me. 

Tres Leches Cake 

Mas Malo Mexican

This was wildly underwhelming - the only good part was the lower portion of the cake that had been soaking in the cream. Otherwise, it just looked pretty. 

Churros 

LA Churros

These were alright but they were mainly a vehicle for the decadent chocolate dipping sauce. 

Rawberri 

This was another Postmates order on a night I wanted to stay in - it's no shock that I was craving avocado toast and an acai bowl, and thankfully, Rawberri was able to deliver exactly that! 

Rawberri LA

Wild Bowl 

I went for the medium, and it was a perfect size. I was also shocked that when it came, it wasn't a soupy mess. It wasn't super thick, but there was granola, bee pollen, blueberries, strawberries and bananas so I was very happy! 

Avocado Toast

When it came to the avocado toast, it wasn't great because the toast was a little soggy, but at least it came on Ezekial toast! It also had quite a bit of kick to it with the chili flakes! 

Hoke Poke

Best Poke LA

Another day, while laying by the pool, I was simply too lazy to get up and get food. So again, it was time to call on Postmates to provide me with a poolside poke bowl. This time, from Hoke Poke. I opted for a small bowl with citrus kale, cilantro, cucumber, edamame, mango, Ahu Tuna, avocado, wasabi peas and a side of the Citrus Thai Basil Sauce.

I barely even needed the side of sauce because everything was so flavorful. My favorite part were definitely the wasabi peas!

This bowl was delivered with chopsticks only, so I struggled a bit to eat it, but felt very authentic ;)

True Food Kitchen

One night we took a bit of a drive to Santa Monica for another healthy-chain I’d heard a lot about. True Food Kitchen is a healthy, seasonal restaurant with a menu that’s constantly changing based on what is in season and fresh.

When the three of us looked at the menu, it was heaven. There was truly not one thing on there that we weren’t intrigued by.

We started with a round of drinks. I opted for the Ginger Margarita. Though I’m not usually a fan of tons of ginger, I’ve been drinking it more in my homemade smoothies and couldn’t turn down a margarita with honey and elderflower liqueur! It was delicious and refreshing with a definite ginger bite to it.

Our waitress informed us that many of the dishes we were planning on ordering were sold out for the day – but it didn’t stop us from ordering am incredible line-up of things to share!

Grilled Fish Tacos
Avocado, Greek Yogurt, Cilantro, Pickled Onion, Anasazi Bean, Cotija Cheese

True Food Kitchen Review

These were such a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting such a great taco from this place, but they were spicy and delicious.

Butternut Squash Flatbread
Butternut Squash, Smoked Onion, Organic Kale, Vegan Almond Ricotta, Dried Cranberry

True Food Kitchen LA Eats

That vegan almond ricotta was KILLER and I never would have guessed it wasn't actually cheese! Something about squash and cranberries is just THE BEST. 

Chioggia Beet Bruschetta
Vegan almond ricotta, amaranth, arugula, pomegranate molasses

True Food Kitchen Review

More vegan almond ricotta, more happy taste buds. This was one of my favorites! The toast was a crunchy, crumbly texture that I really liked and I was a big fan of the amaranth sprinkled on top. 

Spicy Panang Curry
Organic potato, long bean, bok choy, carrot, thai basil, coconut shrimp broth

True Food Kitchen Santa Monica

This certainly had some spice to it! We got the chicken version, but there were still lots of veggies too which I liked! I'm not a huge chicken fan - most of the time it's boring and dry to me - but this wasn't dry at all and was drowning in flavorful curry.  

Charred Cauliflower
Harissa tahini, medjool date, dill, mint, pistachio

Vegetarian LA Hotspots

Is there anything in this dish that isn't something I love? NOPE. Who knew that witha little bit of Mediterranean flavor and a hint of African, you've got yourself a delicious cauliflower dish!?

Herb Hummus
Greek salad, feta, grilled pita bread

True Food Kitchen

Unlike most of the other dishes at True Food Kitchen, which were GREAT - this hummus was just very middle of the road. 

Lemonade 

LA Healthy Eats

Lemonade is by far the best airport restaurant in the entire universe. There, I said it. It's only competition is the World Bean in JFK that served avocado toast AND peanut butter banana toast. 

But I digress. Lemonade is a health food chain with different locations throughout California. They are a quick-service, health-food restaurant offering build your own meal options including seasonal sides, salads, proteins and delicious lemonades! The stars of Lemonade are definitely their vegetable sides which rotate based on what's fresh and in season. 

Every time I go to LA I'm PUMPED to build my own plate of delicious salads like Roasted Broccoli with ricotta cheese and Champagne Vinaigrette, curry cauliflower and lentils with pomegranate seeds and sweet potatoes! Don't forget the protein - citrus poached salmon fillet with whole grain mustard sauce. 

We decided a lemonade with vodka was necessary pre-flight, and I went with the sugar-free rosemary something or other with vodka - I honestly didn't really love it - probably because it was lacking sugar! They looked pretty though! 

Lemonade LAX

Broken Spanish 

One of my best friends from NYC happened to be in LA for a work trip at the same time I was, and we go to grab dinner together at a popular restaurant in the downtown area where we were both staying. 

I first read about Broken Spanish on The Infatuation - which is one of my most trusted restaurant review websites. They made the claim that, "Broken Spanish in DTLA is not fixing Mexican food. It's putting it on a level we never knew existed." With that GLOWING review - I added Broken Spanish to my list of "must-trys" before leaving LA. 

Broken Spanish was very nice inside and the wait staff were great. I appreciated that Erin trusted me and gave me full reins to order what I pleased.  Though the waiter warned us that it was going to be a lot of food, I went full steam ahead with the following plates:

Seasonal Tostada
Habas, Pea Salsa Verde, “Little Lamb,” Carrot Escabeche

Broken Spanish LA Review

This had a very vinegary taste to it, but was light and refreshing despite sitting atop a fried tortilla. I was a big fan of the carrot escabeche ad pea salsa verde in particular! This was definitely the "healthiest" tasting dish of the night. 

Chile Relleno
Poblano, Potato, Kale, Lemon, Soubise  

Broken Spanish Mexican Food

YUMMO. Erin and I both really enjoyed this - what is there to dislike about a pepper bursting with cheesy potatoes? 

Tamale
Lamb Neck, King Oyster Mushroom, Queso Oaxaca

Broken Spanish Tamale

The waiter was raving about how amazing their tamales are - so it seemed like a no brainer to order one loaded with mushroom and lamb, two of my favorite things. Unfortunately, we were really underwhelmed by this. The tamale itself was very dry, and though the lamb on top was tender and saucy, there wasn't enough to make up for the blandness of the tamale. 

Camote
Sweet Potato, Pig Tail, Trompa, Chile de Arbol, Verjus

Broken Spanish LA Review

Sign me up for any and all things sweet potato! This was probably the least sweet-potato-y sweet potato dish I've ever had. I can't quite put my finger on why, but I really didn't enjoy it very much despite being a little sweet and a little savory. Apparently, this dish was named one of the bet dishes of 2015 in LA. While I'm all for sweet potatoes having their moment, I just didn't really get this dish. And it wasn't particularly appealing looking either. Not to mention the fact that i ate pig tail...

Carnitas
Lamb Shoulder, Kabocha Squash Escabeche, Pomegranate Salsa

Broken Spanish DTLA

This meat was very tender, but not my favorite - something about the texture and consistency. I also didn't love the cold, vinegary squash escabeche. 

I left Broken Spanish pretty underwhelmed. I had been expecting an EPIC meal and it was just a good meal. 

 

Upper Eats Side: Blake Lane

After years of construction and waiting with trepid anticipation – the 2nd Avenue Subway Line has finally opened its doors at 3 new stops along the Q line. Things are looking up for the many millennials living in Yorkville.

But the 2nd Avenue Subway isn’t the only new thing bringing a smile to the faces of twenty-somethings on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Trendy new restaurants and bars seem to be springing up left and right.

Blake Lane is one such restaurant – opening in November and quickly becoming a popular spot for both brunch and dinner. I first heard about Blake Lane when a friend tagged me in a picture of their perfectly Instagrammable brunch dishes.

Blake Lane NYC Review

Served in a cute, airy space on 3rd Avenue, Blake Lane is the type of place you’d expect to find in the East Village or Brooklyn – full of Lululemon clad weekend warriors gossiping over coffee as they Snapchat their avocado toast (I hope no one finds offense to this – as I am 100% one of these people...I just might be wearing Old Navy workout gear).

In fact, I came here after a particularly amazing 9 mile run one weekend, with a friend who was visiting from LA. I resembled the heart-eyed emoji as I sat down and looked over the menu – full of dishes I wanted to sample.

Luckily, my friend and I agreed to split a few different things.  I appreciated the mix of hearty options along with light, refreshing choices that made me feel like I was back in California ordering acai bowls and poke on the boardwalk.

(Speaking of California...here's a picture from my recent trip to La Jolla - more to come!

(Speaking of California...here's a picture from my recent trip to La Jolla - more to come!

Brunch At Blake Lane

Poke 

Wild Tuna, black rice, avocado puree, mango, cucumber, sesame seeds, nori

This was our favorite part of our meal and it might have had something to do with the artful smear of avocado puree that was so visually appealing. Or the fact that everything tasted so fresh!

Acai Bowl

Banana, cashew butter, marinated berries, granola

A so so acai bowl – I wouldn’t necessarily order this again when there are better bowls in the city and a ton of other options on this menu.

Blake Lane NYC

Squash Toast

 Kabocha, onion, Aleppo pepper

Branching out from avocado toast, Blake Lane also offers squash toast and a nut toast with cashew butter. We opted for the squash toast which had a really great flavor, but threw me off a little because it was served somewhat cold. I think I would have preferred this warm and on freshly toasted bread!

Blake Lane Brunch

Beverages

They have a pretty extensive morning beverage menu. I ordered an Americano but there were no sugar substitutes – organic sugar cubes only (a rolled my eyes a bit at this one, I will admit).

Emily ordered a acai limeade that was on the sweet side and I was really intrigued by their Hot Cocoa served with cayenne, cinnamon, date and sea salt or their Golden Mylk made with almond milk, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, date and sea salt!

Blake Lane Brunch Review

Dinner at Blake Lane

When I visited for dinner after my kickboxing class a few weeks ago, Blake Lane was bustling. Where I had felt totally normal in athleisure on a Saturday morning, I felt a little out of place waltzing in on a Thursday night in my sweaty clothes – oops!

Again, we tried a bunch of different dishes and I might have liked them even more than brunch! That being said, the cost was a lot more of a hit to my wallet ordering off the dinner menu!

Roasted Beets

Grapefruit, shaved onion citrus vinaigrette, mint

While I like all of these things on their own, I wasn’t completely thrilled with the combination. It felt like they just threw a bunch of on-trend ingredients together for the hell of it.

Blake Lane Upper East Side

Broccoli

Cashew butter, chili oil

Loved this dish – the broccoli could have been charred a bit more, but the cashew butter was absolutely delicious! I could have drank a cup of it.

Blake Lane NYC Review

Tuna Tartine

Yellowfin tuna, broccoli salsa verde, Aleppo pepper

The waiter recommended this, and it ended up being one of our favorite items! Definitely recommend! It was so fresh and filling!

Chicken Lettuce Cups

Warmed spiced yogurt, herbs

Lettuce cups can be a bit bland, but these were full of flavor!

Blake Lane Restaurant Review

Courgetti

Spirazlized squash, basil pistachio pesto, roasted tomato, avocado, poached gulf shrimp

Personally, this was my favorite! I’m a sucker for pesto using alternative nuts (did I really just say that?) because pine nuts are so expensive – and I will definitely be taking a stab at my own pistachio pesto one of these days! The dish came with 4 good sized shrimp and the roasted tomatoes were a great finishing touch. 

Three Years of Doughnuts: Donut Stop Me Now

Just getting this doughnut list up to date! 


Posted January 6, 2017

I thought it was time for an update on the doughnut chronicles! In the past year, I've experienced some INSANELY delicious doughnuts - from the London Fog filled doughnut at Glory Hole in Toronto to the Gooey Butter Cake Donut from Strange Donuts in St. Louis - doughnuts continue to be my mission in every city!


Posted June 3, 2016

What came first, the doughnut or the doughnut hole? 

You would probably be inclined to answer doughnut, but in fact, the term "doughnut" was first used to refer to what we now know as doughnut holes. Doughnuts entered the American lexicon in 1809 in Washington Irving's History of New York: 

An enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog's fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks.

If you're anything like me, you've struggled to decide whether or not you should type doughnut or donut. You've probably wondered why the heck there are even two different spellings to begin with. Same. 

I did some research and the spelling "donut" first appeared in the late 1800s as a contraction of the original "doughnut." It wasn't until Dunkin Donuts was founded in 1950 that the alternate "donut" spelling became more popular. 

Still, "doughnut" is the preferred spelling so I suppose I should stop being lazy and opt for all 8 letters when I'm writing about these delicious desserts. 

Why the weird discussion? Because today is NATIONAL DOUGHNUT/DONUT DAY in the US and unlike many of our random food holidays, it turns out that this one has some historic importance. Actually, 75+ years of history! 

National Doughnut Day began in 1938 as a campaign by the Salvation Army to remember those in their ranks who served doughnuts to American soldiers stationed in France during World War 1. Around 250 volunteers traveled to France to provide baked goods to Allied troops - doughnuts were an instant favorite (those Allied soldiers had good taste). These women who volunteered eventually became known as the "Doughnut Dollies."

In honor of this special holiday, go to one of the many chains participating with free donuts and other perks. And read on for a round up of the many doughnut shops I've reviewed. What are you waiting for? Start that doughnut bucket list today! 

Top Doughnuts in the USA

Psycho Donuts

San Jose, California 

Psycho Donuts

Doughnut Plant 

New York, New York 

Oh, 2014 pictures...

Oh, 2014 pictures...

Dough Loco 

New York, New York - CLOSED 

Dough Loco

Flex

New York, New York 

Flex Donuts NYC

Dough

New York, New York 

Dough Doughnuts NYC

Glam Doll Donuts

Minneapolis, Minnesota 

Glam Doll Donuts

Stan's Donuts

Chicago, Illinois 

donutday8.jpg

Glazed & Infused 

Chicago, Illinois 

Glazed & Infused Donuts

Union Square Donuts

Boston, Massachusetts 

Union Square Donuts Boston

Voodoo Doughnut

Austin, Texas 

Voodoo Doughnuts

Gourdough's Donuts

Austin, Texas  

Gourdough's Donuts

Habit Doughnut Dispensary 

Denver, Colorado 

Habit Doughnut Dispensary

The Doughnut Project 

New York, New York 

Doughnut Project NYC

Official review to come, but I. LOVE. THEM. because they are so unique and not overly sweet!

Underwest Donuts

New York, New York 

No official review- but I was a big fan of these guys! They operate out of a CAR WASH but there donuts are cakey and delicious with a good glaze to dough ratio!

Doughology

Lynbrook, New York 

Doughology

No official review but I love that these are cute and little so you can try lots and lots! And they're customizable too!

The Cinnamon Snail

New York, New York

The Cinnamon Snail Doughnuts

Paula's Donuts

Buffalo, New York 

Paula's Donuts Buffalo

Nibble Inc. 

Troy, New York 

Nibble Inc. Donuts

The Donut Shop

Old Forge, NY 

The Donut Shop has been around for 50 years! They make old fashioned donuts - offering just plain and cinnamon sugar. Not my favorite, and not exciting, but still addictive-ly sweet and satisfying after a 3 mile run!

Huron Mountain Bakery

Marquette, MI 

Huron Mountain Bakery Donuts

I wasn't a huge fan of these donuts - I didn't enjoy the taste of the dough or the fillings and frostings. 

Pharaoh's Donuts 

St. Louis, Missouri 

Pharaoh's Donuts St. Louis

These weren't anything to write home about by any means. 

Dunwell Doughnuts

New York, NY 

Dunwell Vegan Donuts

Gotta admit - these vegan donuts are my least favorite of the heavy-hitters in NYC. I'm just not a fan of the dough's flavor! It could be because they're vegan and not what I'm used to. But for people unable to eat a traditional doughnut - these come pretty damn close! 

Strange Donuts

St. Louis, Missouri 

strange donuts st. louis

WOW. I was absolutely blown away by how much I loved these donuts and they are hands down some of my favorites EVER. 

After 23 days in St. Louis, I finally had a half dozen Strange Donuts delivered to me (and only me) at the stadium. While I don't know exactly what each of them was, I can give you a pretty good idea of what I sampled. 

I loved Strange Donuts so much because they were cake donuts, incredibly most, with super sweet glazes. The flavors were simple but the dough was incredible! 

Gooey Butter Cake Doughnut  

This was unreal. Tied with the Tres Leches doughnut from Doughnut Plant for all time favorite cake doughnut ever. The powdered sugar on top was the finishing touch on doughy perfection - sweet, but not sickeningly, with a slight citrus hint! 

Glazed, Glazed with Sprinkles 

The vanilla cake paired with the melt in your mouth glaze made me a fan of what I would normally consider "lame" doughnuts. 

Chocolate Glazed 

I think I preferred the vanilla cake, but the chocolate cake had the same moist consistency with good cocoa flavor! 

Butterfinger 

If you're a chocolate fan, this should be your order. Chocolate cake, chocolate glaze, sprinkled with Butterfinger crumbs and injected with some extra frosting in the middle for good measure! 

Strange Donuts

The Holy Donut

Portland, Maine 

Holy Donut Sweet Potato

These donuts are made with POTATOES in the dough! I really enjoyed these, and there were TONS of flavor options. I wanted to love them MORE, because there's a SWEET POTATO doughnut, but they didn't break the top 3 for me. 

They are definitely worth a visit if you're in Maine though, and I highly recommend the ginger glazed sweet potato donut!

Sidecar Doughnuts

Costa Mesa, California 

Sidecar Doughnuts Review

Donut Bar

San Diego, California 

Donut Bar San Diego

Peace, Love & Little Donuts

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Peace, Love and Donuts

Rise Biscuits Donuts

Raleigh, North Carolina 

Rise Biscuits

East Main & Main - Port Jefferson, New York

east.jpg

Long Island is finally get involved in the doughnut game!

Dilla's Delights - Detroit, Michigan 

Dilla's Donuts Detroit

Banana pudding cake donut, HOLLER! 

(*Adorable donut earrings from my coworker!)

Blackbird Doughnuts - Boston, Massachusetts 

Blackbird Doughnuts

Citrus old fashioned! GET IT!!!

Kane's Donuts - Boston, Massachusetts

kanes.jpg

This was Kayla's introduction to doughnut tasting and I was so happy that she got totally into it with me. We started with one - but that was just a lie we were telling ourselves. 

Dough - Tampa, Florida

Dough Tampa Bay Florida

More than anything, what I appreciated about Dough was that they gave me the opportunity to have a ridiculous doughnut photo shoot with my friends portrait mode. And the fact that their creme brulee dooughnut was ridic. 

La Donuteria

Barcelona, Spain 

La Donuteria Barcelona

Taking this show internationally!! 

Carlson's Donuts & Thai Kitchen

Annapolis, Maryland 

Carlson's Donuts & Thai Kitchen

Crunch Donut Factory 

Las Vegas, Nevada 

Crunch Factory Doughnuts

Doughnut Vault

Chicago, Illinois 

Doughnut Vault Chicago

Glory Hole Donuts

Toronto, Ontario 

Glory Hole Doughnuts  Toronto

The Earl Grey. Incredible.

#BLESSED - and always taking new reccomendations! 

YOUR TURN: 
WHAT DOUGHNUT PLACES DO I NEED TO ADD TO MY BUCKET LIST? 
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE DOUGHNUT SHOP? 
DO YOU LIKE YOUR DOUGHNUTS FLUFFY OR CAKEY? 

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La Pulperia Excels at Cocktails and Seafood on the UES

People like to rag on the Upper East Side – but as someone who has lived in the ‘hood for three years, I’ve gotta, say it has improved BIG time recently.

There are tons of new restaurants and bars, along with the long-time neighborhood favorites. 

I was recently tasked with choosing a restaurant for myself and 8 family members on a Sunday night. It actually ended up being my father’s suggestion to check out the Upper East Side location of La Pulperia (there is another in Hell’s Kitchen).

La Pulperia Restaurant Review

La Pulperia has been around on the UES since September 2014 and is named after the general stores found throughout South America. La Pulperia’s menu features food from the many different countries of Latin America, and our waiter talked us through each section and its inspiration.

The seafood-heavy menu features pastas, crudos, a raw bar, tacos, salads and more.

But we started with drinks, naturally.

The Drinks

The Smoky Room

I ordered The Smoky Room which was hands down the best cocktail I have ever had in my life. That’s no exaggeration – I have put a great deal of thought into whether or not to make this claim and The Smoky Room deserves the title. House mescal & Milagro with passion fruit puree, fresh pomegranate juice and agave nectar are the ingredients that make up this cocktail. Though the description sounds fruity – I promise you that “smoky” is not a misnomer. Somehow, this drink is simultaneously fruity, tropical, and smoky! Our waiter explained that they torch the drink to create the smoky flavor.

El Chilango

By the end of the night I had also tried the El Chilango, courtesy of the bartender, and it was also an incredibly impressive drink full of flavor. These drinks seriously blew me away. The El Chilango is made with Rancho Alegre Tequila, Cointreau orange liquor, tamarind nectar and a piquant Habanero & salt rim. Talk about sweet and spicy.

The Food

We ordered guacamole for the table which was good, but nothing special.

My parents and I split three different entrees.

Spring Salad

Farro, parsnips, beets, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, butternut squash and an orange maple vinaigrette

La Pulperia NYC

We ordered ours with salmon that was cooked and seasoned perfectly. This salad was a grain salad, which I didn’t necessarily expect, but also didn’t mind. It was hearty and filling and full of fall flavors.

Lobster & Baked Egg

Fresh Maine lobster, frame baked egg, herbrs, crema de blue cheese, fresh cream, truffled scented toasted bread

La Pulperia Happy Hour

This was soo rich, creamy and decadent – especially once the egg broke open and the yolk mixed in with the cheese and cream. There were big chunks of lobster and somehow, it wasn’t overpowered by everything else going on in the dish.

Las Tablas 

Perfectly grilled proteins accompanied by 5 seasonal “cazuelitas”

La Pulperia Review

We ordered the “pulpo” or octopus along with the 5 seasonal sides which I can’t remember now (I believe there was a potato salad and grilled broccoli rabe). All I know is they were tasty and fresh and the octopus was tender and not at all chewy – just the way I like it!

We even managed to make a few family members try to octopus and they were shocked at how meaty and un-fish-like it was!

Dessert

La Pulperia Restaurant Review

Never one to pass on dessert, we ordered two and were surprised when a total of 4 shower up at the table. Obviously, all of them needed to be sampled.

My least favorite was the flan and my favorite was the tres leches cake!

Vibes

La Pulperia is a gorgeous restaurant inside – with a MASSIVE bar. There’s tons of space, and it’s beautifully decorated.

Our meal at La Pulperia ended up being one that won’t soon be forgotten by my family – thanks not only to incredible food but incredible service, incredible cocktails – dancing, shots, meeting the chef, and more. It was truly a night to remember and I can’t wait to head back to this fun spot for happy hour!

La Pulperia UES has happy hour Sunday – Friday from 4 pm – 7 pm and all day on Mondays. They also have a Ladies night on Tuesdays (5 pm – 7 pm first drink free) and Live Music on Mondays (7 pm Brazilian Jazz) and Wednesdays (7 pm Flamenco Night).

Us hanging with our new friend the Chef!

Us hanging with our new friend the Chef!

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Six Superfoods' Rise to Culinary Celebrity

I recently had the chance to guest write for the Rhythm Superfoods' blog. The topic was for me to choose, and as I thought about what I'd like to write, I kept coming back to the idea of a "superfood. "

We know that superfoods are, well, super, because of their next-level nutritional stats. But the protein content of Greek yogurt and the antioxidants in acai alone aren’t enough to catapult these health foods to mainstream fame. So how exactly did difficult to pronounce foods like quinoa and chia become trendy terms on every restaurant’s menu and everyone’s shopping lists?

Here’s the story of six superfoods’ rise to culinary celebrity! (You can read this over on Rhythm Superfoods' Blog as well, and check out their delectable snacks! They're one of the things I always have on hand for traveling!)

How Six Super Foods Got So Popular

1.) Kale

Kale is kalin’ it. “Kale Salad” is synonymous with healthy, delicious and trendy. But how did kale surpass spinach, chard and other nutritious leafy greens in popularityWhat started as a strange-looking garnish is now widely regarded for its high fiber, magnesium and folate contents.

In 1996, a poem dedicated to kale was published in the LA Times. After that, a slew of media “hits” by kale slowly introduced it to general public. This included a recipe by Martha Stewart, Whole Living dubbing it a “powerfood,” Gwyneth Paltrow making kale chips on Ellen, and in 2012 Bon Appetit named it “the year of kale.”

A fascinating article by Eve Turow of mindbodygreen traces kale’s rise in popularity to Oberon Sinclair - a PR professional who was dedicated to growing the green stuff’s reputation – going as far as creating the fake “American Kale Association.”

The stats are impressive. Kale sales jumped 50 percent in just 4 years! What a world we live in where we can eat kale brownieskale ice cream and of coursekale chips.

2.) Greek Yogurt

Just a few short years ago, Greek yogurt wasn’t exactly a highly-regarded dairy dish. Greek yogurt was seen as the chalky, chunky, thicker cousin of typical yogurt and people weren’t singing its praises.

But things started to change after Hamdi Ulukaya bought an abandoned yogurt factory in upstate New York and developed the recipe for Chobani – first introducing it to a small grocery store on Long Island in 2007.

Chobani quickly landed two national grocery store accounts (Stop & Shop and Shop Rite) and quickly captured the market. It’s thought that Greek yogurt first grew in popularity thanks to upper middle class women who thought that it was “purer” and “simpler” than regular yogurts – plus its exotic connection to Greece was appealing. Greek yogurt, the more expensive type of yogurt, was in some ways seen as a status symbol.  

Now, Greek yogurts like Chobani and Fage are the Greek Gods of ‘Gurt – sales have skyrocketed as people point to its higher protein content and more filling nature.

According to The Atlantic, in 2006, Greek yogurt was a $60 million industry in the United States. By 2011, it had become a $1.5 billion business. 

3.) Quinoa  

Quinoa Meme

Maybe you, too, mispronounced quinoa for a good long while before figuring out this protein-packed grains true name.

Quinoa hits a trifecta of health benefits that has helped it become a mainstream whole-grain.

1.     Quinoa is gluten free. For a few years now, sales of gluten free foods have been surging due to increased awareness about Celiac’s disease as well as the (widely debated) potential health benefits of a gluten-free diet.

2.     Quinoa is a nutritionally dense “superfood.” 

3.     Quinoa is a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids.

Quinoa first started making its way into people’s vocabulary as far back as 1913 when The New York Times named it one of 400 “charming botanical strangers” that would be introduced to the US by the Department of Agriculture.

For a while, it remained hidden on health food store shelves. But in 2008, Oprah Winfrey ate quinoa as part of a 21-day cleanse. Around the same time, more mainstream stores like Costco, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods began to carry quinoa.

As quinoa imports began to rise, the United Nations decreed 2013 the “International Year of Quinoa.”

 

4.) Chia

How did chia go from sprouting in ceramic-character-shaped-containers for children to being a health-food staple?

An interesting case study from American Marketing Association looks at how this super-seed went “from pets to protein powder.

Marketing played a large role in making the public aware of chia seeds’ many nutritional benefits. They’re full of fiber, protein, antioxidants, calcium, phosphorous, manganese and omega-3 fatty acids. Joseph Enterprises first made chia seeds popular as the hair in head-shaped planters. The Chia Pet launched over 35 years ago but now, Joseph Enterprises also sells raw chia seeds as a health supplement.

A huge boost to the visibility of chia was the publishing of the book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall in 2009. The book explains that chia seeds were used by Mayans and Aztecs as a snack that sustains energy.

The Chia Co. was the first brand to reach those consumers who were interested in chia, but didn’t purchase the raw seeds because they weren’t sure how to use them. They created the Chia Pod, a pre-packaged chia pudding. More pre-packaged chia products continue to hit the shelves, including Mamma Chia’s bottled beverages, bagged granolas, and pouched chia “squeezes.” 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia is now a booming business in the US and now included on many mainstream menus and on grocery shelves in many prepackaged products– used in pudding, crackers, cookies, cereals and more.

5.) Acai

Acai berries are vibrant little guys hailing from Brazil. The Global Healing Center lists 12 major health benefits of acai berries – among them, heart health, skin health, immune boosting, and improved mental function.

The “acai bowl” trend started in places like Hawaii and California, where acai berries were used as a smoothie-like base and topped with granola, fruit and other toppings to create highly-Instagrammable breakfasts.

But there’s more to the story if you do some digging. How did acai bowls get from Brazil to the US? According to an in-depth article by The New Yorker, it was all thanks to two brothers, Ryan and Jeremy Black and their friend, Edmund Nichols, who first experienced an acai bowl on a trip to Brazil and vowed to bring the trend to the States. They went on to become the founders of Sambazon – which now produces a variety of acai products.

It wasn’t easy to introduce a difficult-to-pronounce berry from the Amazon jungle into the food-vocabulary of always suspicious consumers – but after being featured in the best-seller “The Perricone Promise: Look Younger, Live Longer in Three Easy Steps” and a spot on Oprah, the Black brothers were in business and soon Sambazon was being featured in People magazine.

6.) Beets

Who would have thought that beets – a bulbous root – would become so popular? But here we are, with beet references abounding in popular culture. Who remembers the cartoon Doug and the rock band, “The Beets” performing “Killer Tofu?” And who doesn’t know that Dwight Shrute from The Office is a beet farmer? A trendy tee shirt reads, “Beets Don’t Kale My Vibe.”  

And according to an article from The Daily Meal, beets were the hippest food of 2016.

Low in calories, sodium and fat, beets are high in nutrients like folate, manganese and betaine.

And as Rhythm Superfoods knows – beets make great chips! It’s the newest snack in their line-up of famous superfood snacks!  

 

Boozy Brunch With An Asian Flare at China Grill

China Grill is a really good restaurant in Midtown Manhattan - a section of New York City that is devoid of anything truly great as far as dining experiences go. 

I've reviewed China Grill's dinner for the blog - creative Asian fusion dishes meant to be shared family-style - and recently checked out their brunch with my grandparents. I was pleasantly surprised, and thought the world deserved to know about this hidden brunching gem between Central Park and Times Square. 

Review of China Grill's Brunch

Oh You Fancy, Huh?

Here's the thing  about China Grill. It's gorgeous inside. The ceilings are tall, the wait staff are dressed up, there's a beautiful bar and open kitchen. The moment you step in, you feel like you're somebody. You feel like you're a little bit fancy, or at least a little bit fancier than your typical boozy brunch spot where you and your friends eat greasy breakfast burritos and guzzle down mimosas made with  $5 champagne. 

The point is, China Grill feels classy. And what twenty-something doesn't like feeling classy on a Sunday morning?

A La Cart vs. Prixe Fixe

If you're doing brunch at China Grill - you're probably going to want to order from the price fixe brunch menu because ordering a la cart just doesn't really make a lot of sense financially. 

You could order an entree for $19 plus a Bloody Mary for $14 (~$40 total once you factor in tip)

OR

You could choose an appetizer and an entree ($26) and go the unlimited booze route ($16 for endless mimosas or Bloody Mary's) for a grand total of around $50 once you add tip.  

$10 gets you an additional appetizer AND as many drinks as you want. Do the math, people.

The Appetizers

If you're with a group, you're going to want to make sure you aren't doubling up on the appetizers. Instead, order one of each and you'll get to sample them all! On my visit, we got to sample the following:

Green Tea Donuts 

Brunch at China Grill

Because once in awhile, it's OK to eat dessert first! These bad boys have a distinct fried-dough flavor that is delectable, while not exactly screaming "Green Tea." It's OK though, because once you dip your fried dough ball into the plum jam - you'll be hooked. This stuff is sweet, tart and refreshing! (Comes with 5 doughnuts)

Crispy Eggplant & Burrata With Miso Glaze 

China Grill Brunch

I liked this more than anyone else - probably because the miso paired with the crispy eggplant wasn't a typical flavor combo. But I for one loved the nutty, umami flavor of the miso glaze paired with the light, refreshing burrata. (Comes with 4 pieces) 

Crackling Calamari Salad 

China Grill Review

This is one of the best dishes on both their dinner and brunch menus and it is MONSTROUS. It can easily feed 4 or 5 people with a decent amount of salad AND squid. The calamari is perfectly battered - not too much but still perfectly crispy. Spritz some fresh lime on top and this is a killer salad. 

Chicken Thigh Skewers With Toasted Peanut Sauce

China Grill Review

Whoah baby. What sounds like a pretty boring appetizer is actually pretty phenomenal thanks to chicken that is SO GOSH DARN TENDER. The peanut sauce is the cherry on top. (Comes with 4 skewers)

The Entrees

Yes, after feasting on all of those appetizers, I still had room for an entree. 

Sesame Jumbo Lump Crab Benedict With Grilled Asparagus

China Grill Brunch Menu

Eggs Benny goes from drab to...CRAB with this take on the brunch classic. Absolutely overflowing with crab meat, this was a winner! 

Yuzu Cream Stuffed French Toast With Lemongrass Caramel Sauce & Mixed Berry Compote

China Grill Midtown

Talk about a sugar overload. This was super sweet, but oh so beautiful! Just look at it! This French Toast is TURNT. 

Yuzu is a citrus fruit and you can really tell when you get into the center of the french toast and reach the yuzu cream. It's a little overpowering, but balanced by the sesame! 

I don't know if I could eat this as my entire meal, but a few bites after my Benedict certainly satisfied my sweet tooth! 

Other entree options include a pork belly scramble with potato hash, bacon and egg fried rice and a wild mushroom omelet with goat cheese and spinach. 

The Booze

China Grill Cocktails

This is a boozy brunch spot after all, so let's talk about what really matters - the dranks. If you're a Bloody Mary lover, you are in for a treat with China Grill's 4 specialty Bloody Mary's. Ranging from tequila to vodka to bourbon - there's a Bloody for everyone! 

And most importantly, these Bloody Mary's come with built-in appetizers. They're the best for both your taste buds AND your Instagram account. 

I went with the Deviled Bloody Mary which came with a skewer loaded with not only celery, greens, cucumber and celery but a Wasabi Deviled Egg! Oh, and instead of tomato juice it was CARROT JUICE based. Yum. 

You Should Go.

More positives about China Grill as your next brunch spot? The service is phenomenal, it isn't super crowded, there's space to bring a group, it's centrally located and the presentation of each dish is superb as evidenced by the above pictures. 

 

 

My 10 Favorite Healthy Snacks Perfect For Your Carry-On

When I travel, the precious space in my carry-on is at least 50% dedicated to snacks. Is there a fear of being without snacks? I have that. 

Packing healthy snacks is the biggest way to avoid ordering fries from McDonald's or a sub-par doughnut from DD with your morning coffee. Planning and preparation are the biggest keys to making healthy choices! 

The following snacks are one that I often find in airports and frequently purchase during my travels. They've all been taste-tested and approved by ME. Obviously, packing vegetables and fruits is another great snacking option, but for now, we're going to focus on those pre-packaged products that are easy to shove in your overstuffed carry on. 

Happy, healthy-ish travels!

best Healthy travel snacks

1.) Epic Bars

High In Protein
Low In Sugar
130-200 Calories
Keeps You Full
Sweet & Savory

Healthy Travel Snacks

I have a serious obsession with Epic bars. Ever since I discovered them at the Bear Mountain North Face Endurance Challenge my bags have been constantly stocked. Whenever I see them on sale at Whole Foods, I scoop them up by the handful. 

In fact, they've almost entirely replaced granola bars for me! A lot of granola bars on the market today are very high in calories, carbs and sugar and even though brands like KIND are made with real ingredients and healthy fats, their nutritional make-up isn't always what I'm after. 

Epic bars on the other hand are full of protein while staying low in carbs, sugars and calories. My favorite Epic bars are the ones that incorporate dried fruits so that you're getting the perfect balance of sweet and savory! 

Though portable meat snacks (which my roommate and I lovingly refer to as "meat bars") might sound strange at first, I promise they're a great well-balanced snack. Some Epic bars have up to 15 grams of protein which will help keep you full for longer than a lot of the carby-crunchy granola bars. 

2.) Wilde Snacks

100 Calories
Low in Sugar
High in Protein
Keeps You Full
Unique Flavors

Healthy Snacks To Pack

If you can't find Epic bars, these are my second choice for next-level meat-snacking. Like Epic Bars, these aren't exactly jerky, but they're - well - meat protein bars! It doesn't sound appetizing, I know. But with flavors like Sweet Thai Basil, Turkey Cranberry and Peach BBQ, you can't tell me you aren't at least a little intrigued. Wilde Snacks feature beef, bison, turkey and chicken. 

All of Wilde Snacks' bars are 100 calories with between 10-11 grams of protein, 5 or less grams of sugar and less saturated fat than most of Epic's bars! They're a little smaller than an Epic bar, but still completely satisfying - especially because each bar has ingredients like quinoa, flax and chia seeds to keep you feeling full! 

A plus? I really like their packaging. 

3.) Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips

Satisfies Your Chip Craving
High in Vitamin A
Protein & Fiber To Keep You Full

Healthy Snacks for Traveling

I've talked about these bad boys before on the blog, but they remain one of my favorite flying treats. And did you know they're now available at Starbucks?! So easy to find these days, which is great considering how delicious they are. You'll never be tempted to go for the Doritos again (unless it's Superbowl Sunday - then you must eat lots and lots of Doritos, it's a fact). 

Their Cool Ranch flavor is probably my favorite, but all of their kale chips are flavored using all natural ingredients like tahini, lemon juice, dill, etc. 

One thing to keep in mind is that they aren't the best option for shoving in a bag seeing as they're pretty delicate. Once kale chips get all crunched up, they're not as satisfying. Kale powder << Kale chips. 

4.) Biena & The Good Bean Roasted Chickpeas

Crunchy
Sweet & Savory Options
Fiber & Protein To Fill You Up
Low In Sugar
Low in Calories  

Healthy Travel Snacks

Don't make me choose between these two brands please, because both are doing an amazing job bringing roasted chickpeas to the masses! For years I've been roasting chickpeas and coating them in cinnamon and other fun spice combinations but no more - I let Biena and The Good Bean do the work for me because I'm lazy and they do a better job anyway. 

Roasted chickpeas are one of my all-time favorite snacks because you can go sweet or savory, they're crunchy, healthy and super filling. 

I love sprinkling The Good Bean sea salt roasted chickpeas on top of my salads (croutons are so 2000) and eating the Biena honey roasted chickpeas by the handful could honestly satisfy my sweet tooth as a dessert. 

My one tip is to buy the smaller, pre-portioned packages otherwise you might end up at your destination realizing you've polished off an entire 5 serving package (not that I'm speaking from experience...) 

5.) Dang and Prana Coconut Chips

Delicious
Satisfies Your Sweet Tooth

Healthy Snacks for the airport

I first fell in love with coconut chips when I tried Prana's unique flavors at the vegetarian food festival in Toronto. Unfortunately, they aren't (yet) in the US. 

However - I was hooked on the sweet, unique texture of coconut chips and needed to find a way to get my fix! Enter Dang. 

These are more on the indulgent side of the snacking scales. Since they aren't particularly high in protein or fiber, they won't keep you full and satisfied like some of the previous options. But they are certainly a better option than other sweet treats you'll find at the airport. 

Just be aware that they are sugary and high in saturated fat - although coconuts are known for their lauric acid content which is a healthier saturated fat that could potentially help with weight loss. 

6.) Purely Elizabeth Granola

Sweet
Crunchy
Lower In Sugar

Healthy Airport Snacks

Most of the time, granola is code for "sugar." But I love buying Purely Elizabeth's pre-packaged double portion granola because I don't risk way over-eating and it adds a sweet, crunchy boost to my yogurt! 

Yogurt is my go-to breakfast food and adding Purely Elizabeth granola is a guilt-free way to make it feel indulgent. 

The pumpkin fig flavor only has 6 grams of sugar in 1/3 of a cup which is unheard of for granola! 

7.) Angie's BOOMCHICKAPOP and SkinnyPop Popcorn 

High In Fiber to Keep You Full
Sweet & Salty
Crunchy
Low Calorie
Low Fat

Healthy Airport Snacks

I will take a bag of either brand anyyyyy day for one of my most favorite healthy snacks on the go (and on my couch). 

Popcorn is high in fiber which means that it keeps you full and it's low in calories, sugar and fat! 

I will admit - I have a tendency to go for the kettle corn varieties which are higher in sugar and calories - but it's stopping me from buying a Snickers bar so I'm fine with it! 

Each brand has a ton of different flavor options including sea salt, kettle corn, white cheddar and even dusted dark chocolate! 

8.) Justin's Peanut and Almond Butter Single Serve Packets

Healthy Fats
Protein
Delicious
Keeps You Full
Satisfies Your Sweet Tooth

Healthy Travel Snacks

I have a confession to make. I still eat Skippy peanut butter and I'm not crazy about all natural PB. I'm not obsessed with Justin's - even though the entire healthy food blogosphere is gaga for their products. But I know it's healthier, and I'm trying to get on board!

All-Natural or not, I am obviously never found without peanut butter close by. You might be surprised to learn that I do not, in fact, travel with an entire jar of peanut butter. In lieu of a tub of PB, I opt for the single serving packets of Justin's when I'm traveling. These can be added to oatmeal or lathered on toast, rice cakes or bananas. It can be used as the dip for carrots, apple slices and celery.

But all the cool kids are just eating it straight from the packet. 

9.) Quest Bars 

Flavors Like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Low in Sugar
High in Protein
Low in Carbs
Keep You Full
CHOCOLATEY

Healthy Snacks to Pack in Your Carry On

Try as I might to move on from Quest bars, I keep coming back to them. I don't even love the flavor - but there is something familiar and satisfying about them and therefore, I usually bring a few on each trip. 

If you've somehow survived the past 5 years without hearing about Quest bars, they're protein-packed bars with dessert-like flavors that are low in sugar and carbs. 

But I have to be upfront - more and more I'm reading that Quest bars aren't as great as they appear based on their nutrition facts. You need to read the ingredient list to find the fake fiber, artificial sweeteners and processed protein sources. 

10.) Superseedz

High in Protein
High in Iron
High in Zinc

Healthy Snacks

Gourmet pumpkin seeds? Yes. 

These are a wonderful bit of crunch to add to your salad, yogurt or oatmeal. Or again, go ahead and eat them straight out of the package. 

For such tiny little seeds - they pack a powerful flavor punch with all natural seasonings like maple sugar & sea salt, tomato Italiano, super spicy and even curry. 

Superseedz are packed with more than flavor though - they've also got a ton of protein (up to 9 grams per serving) and zinc. Zinc is huge for your immune system, and when you're flying and traveling and getting run down your immune system can use all the help it can get! 

 

So there you have it. 10 go-to snacks for healthy traveling and happy taste buds. Just wanted to throw it out there that none of these companies paid me to say nice things about them - I genuinely enjoy all of these products! 

Healthy Airport snacks

 

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How To Eat Healthy-ish and Happy On The Road

New cities, famous restaurants, experimental dishes, adventurous cuisines and an extremely generous dining budget are what every culinary connoisseur’s dreams are made of. Such is life when you travel for work.

You’re in Philadelphia so you need to try a cheesesteak.

You’re in Chicago and you must have a slice of deep dish.

When in Buffalo, wings are a necessity.

Calories consumed in Vegas stay in Vegas, right?

You get my point. Everywhere you travel, whether it be for work, or for pleasure, will present you with tasty temptations that you know aren’t exactly the healthiest. But it’s not healthy to deny yourself completely either. So how do you find that middle ground? What is this elusive balance that everyone talks about?

I wish I could tell you I had all the answers. But like everyone else out there, I constantly struggle on the road when it comes to feeling a little guilty about my choices. It’s especially hard after weeks on end eating out at restaurants, getting drinks with coworkers, and feeling like I could just eat lettuce for the rest of my life!

But here’s the thing. There is no need to feel any guilt as long as you are consciously making decisions throughout the trip that are both indulgent and intelligent

How To Eat Healthy While Traveling

INDULGENT 

Yes, it’s important to treat your body right and to fuel it properly. I’m assuming it’s not your custom to guzzle down deep dish pizza for breakfast lunch and dinner. But indulging in a slice (or 3) while you’re on your first trip to Chicago is an indulgence that you have every right to take! 

PLAN AHEAD 

This is where some preemptive food-research (the best kind of research there is) can come into play. Before your head out on your trip, figure out what the favorite local foods are and decide what you definitely need to chow down on during your trip.

I always factor in at least one donut shop, duh. In Toronto it might be poutine while a trip to Nashville calls for some fried hot chicken. Knowing before you go means that you have consciously made the decision to indulge – it’s an experience, and an enjoyable one at that – and there is absolutely no place for guilt!

Eating Healthy While Traveling

It also means you can read up and find the best spot to get the dish you’re looking for. Nothing is worse than a disappointing meal when you’ve planned for it!

SPACE THEM OUT

You probably don’t want to have an entire day of indulgences because then you’ll have a stomach ache at night and nothing left to look forward to! 

BE FLEXIBLE 

You’re out at dinner and the waiter launches into a long spiel about their world-famous something or other that’s been written about by Anthony Bourdain and is an absolute must order. You hadn’t planned on eating deep fried bacon with a cheddar cheese dipping sauce but hey – it’s a must order. Sometimes, there are things ya just gotta go for!

*This is an entirely fabricated scenario, though deep fried bacon in a cheese dipping sauce couldn’t ever be bad, could it? 

INTELLIGENT 

Now that we’ve covered the indulging part, let’s talk about the being intelligent part. It’s not as fun, but I promise it will help keep you feeling balanced during your travels.

ACCEPT THE LOSS OF CONTROL 

This first piece of this puzzle means that acknowledging that your eating habits on a trip are not going to be the same as they are at home. You won’t have your kitchen or farmers market or your favorite chopped salad spot for grab and go lunches full of nutrients. Sometimes, the best option might be a Caesar salad with croutons AND parmesan cheese (gasp!) But once you relinquish that control (and you don’t really have a choice) all that’s left to do is make the most intelligent choices that you can (and want) to make. 

THE NEXT BEST CHOICE 

I’ll be honest – a lot of times you won’t feel like making the intelligent choice. You’ll be at a restaurant where everything on the menu sounds phenomenal and a salad just sounds sad and boring. Don’t order the sad and boring salad because then you’ll be sad and boring too. Order “the next best thing” and try to find that sweet spot between making your taste buds happy and giving your body something that is at least somewhat good for your insides.

When you’re eating a catered lunch with only a few options or you’re out with your department at a pre-determined restaurant, there’s often not much you can do to make it a “healthy” meal. To be a little harsh – you need to deal with it. It’s really not the end of the world.

Here are a few instances where I’ve found intelligent, healthy choices to be the most possible while traveling for work. 

AIRPORT SNACKS 

How to eat healthy while traveling

You could easily eat McDonald's and other fast food while you're flying - it's convenient, easy to grab, and it's there - tempting you with it's shiny neon signs and scents of freshly fried fries.

OR you could come prepared with snacks that you're able to carry-on with you you. A bag of cut up veggies, healthy popcorn, granola bars, fruits, sandwiches, salads - you can get through security with all of it! (Just don't pack a yogurt - I've had many a Chobani confiscated at security!) 

If you show up to the airport empty handed, have no fear! Many airport shops are now stocked with tons of healthy snacks. Plus it's a work trip, so you can splurge on some healthier options even if they aren't exactly cheap. KIND bars, Justin's Peanut Butter, Biena chickpeas - load up on healthy snacks so you're not tempted to grab the M&Ms, Cracker Jacks or Big Macs. 

OFFICE SNACKS 

When I'm on the road, we're usually working out of trailers or other untypical office spaces. People are running around all day and work up quite an appetite. One thing that we always have is a snack table. 

And that snack table sits there and tempts you alllllll day. With Snickers and trail mix and granola bars and Goldfish and popcorn and Doritos and every snack you could imagine. 

I once took a Munchkin, cut it in half, and made it into a Peanut Butter Banana sandwich. The snack table clearly won that day. 

Eating Healthy on Business Travel

To combat the temptation to grab a handful of Brookside chocolate covered blueberries every 10 minutes (THEY ARE TOO ADDICTING) - I have two tips. 

1) Give yourself set snack times throughout the day. Yes, like you're in Kindergarten again. Try to get into a consistent schedule. For example, if you eat breakfast at 9, have a snack at 11 and lunch at 1 (followed by a bite of something sweet if you have a sweet tooth) and another snack before dinner. Knowing you can eat a snack at a certain time means you'll be less likely to pick and graze throughout the day. (I said less likely, not that it won't happen!) 

2) Keep the snack healthy. Just because it's "snack time" doesn't mean it's time to eat a sleeve of Oreos disassembled and made into peanut butter sandwiches (something else that I've done). If the snack table has nuts or trail mix, go for that instead of the candy bar. If there's popcorn, choose that over the bag of chips. 

Ideally, each trip I make a stop at a grocery store and stock up on my own healthy snacks that I squirrel away and keep separate from the snack table. I always try to have some type of bar (my favorites are Epic Bars and Quest Bars), rice cakes and peanut butter, baby carrots if there's a refrigerator in our office space, and something sweet like coconut or banana chips. 

Make the snack count. You want it to actually nourish you and keep you satisfied! 

GET CREATIVE 

Recently, my coworkers and I stopped at a deli on the way to the office and ordered bagels. I ordered a bagel with hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers and sprouts. I had also taken a hard boiled egg from the free hotel breakfast. 

I wasn't really looking forward to a crappy bagel from Michigan so when I got to the office I created this master-piece: A rice cake with the hummus, tomato, cucumber and sprouts from the bagel along with a hard boiled egg. A lot healthier than eating the entire bagel, and still entirely delicious!  

CHOOSE RESTAURANTS WISELY

There are certain types of restaurants that are going to be a lot easier to make healthy choices at. Mediterranean, for example. Or a seafood spot. Big pasta dinners and Southern style restaurants might not be as good of an option unless you're OK with making lots of special requests or ordering the lone salad item on the menu. 

When I'm traveling for work there are a few key terms that I use alllll the time while I'm Googling the shit out of restaurants in the area. They are:

1) Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurants 

Whether you're vegan, vegetarian, or a meat-lover - I always try to scope out restaurants that are at least friendly towards these dietary restrictions. I've found that it usually means a menu focused on healthier ingredients, fresh vegetables, and creative menu items. 

2) Fast Casual Restaurants 

How to Eat Healthy While Traveling

No, I'm not suggesting that Chipotle every day is a good way to stay healthy on the road. But there are quite a few health-food spots of the fast casual variety. In New York, I know all those spots - Dig Inn, Hu Kitchen, Sweetgreen, Cava Grill, etc. But it's always my mission to find their counterparts in other cities. 

In Toronto it was Kupfert and Kim, in Chicago it's LYFE Kitchen, in Boston it's B.Good, in LA it's Lemonade

These places are my  jam not only because they make eating healthy a breeze and are delicious - but they don't require a full meal service after a long day! 

3) Farm to Table 

This is probably my most frequently searched term. This is the best of balance, in my opinion. Farm to table restaurants aren't necessarily 100% healthy in their menu options, but you never feel guilty about eating food that is made using organic, fresh, locally-sourced, real ingredients. At least I sure don't!

Finding a farm to table restaurant near your next work trip is the go-to move, I'm tellin' you! 

Tips to Stay Healthy On The Road

DON'T BE AFRAID TO EAT ALONE 

If everyone is going out for a big Mexican fiesta and you want to check out the all-organic locally-sourced cafe down the road - don't be afraid to eat out alone and do your own thing! Bring your cell phone and a book and you're good to go. Sometimes, especially on work trips, the time alone is much-needed. Eating out alone isn't awkward. I promise, just try it. 

How to Eat Healthy While Traveling for Work

DELIVERY IS YOUR FRIEND 

If you're constantly strapped for time while you're on the road, most cities have delivery services like Seamless, Grub Hub, Uber Eats and Postmates that can bring the good stuff right to your hotel room door! It's like having an endless room-service menu and I do it all.the.time. I've even had things delivered to me before I leave in the morning so I can start my day with an acai bowl (#HighMaintenance). 

A lot of the healthier places may be out of the way from where you're staying but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy them. Thanks, technology! 

Tips For Healthy Travel

DRINK A LOT OF WATER 

And tea! These will help keep you full and flush out all the salt and toxins you aren't used to consuming as frequently at home. Plus, being hydrated is key to staying healthy while you're on planes, in hotels, and sharing cramped office spaces with coworkers in the middle of the winter. 

I don't typically drink a lot of water, but when I'm traveling, I drink at least double my normal water amount. And I have 1-2 Emergen-C's EVERY day. 

KEEP YOUR COFFEE COFFEE! 

Coffee every morning on a work trip becomes a nice routine, a comforting start to the day, and ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to make it through the long hours. But don't fall into the trap of ordering dessert for your drink just because work is footing the bill. Keep your coffee order, well, coffee! 

None of this Frappuccino, Mocha Choca latta ya ya (heh) nonsense. 

My go-to order is a grande Americano with an extra shot and some coconut milk (I told you, coffee is absolutely necessary). 

Healthy Travel Eats

PREEMPTIVELY SATISFY YOUR SWEET TOOTH 

Keep a few options in your hotel room for a sweet treat before bed, if that's your style (it's definitely mine). This helps me to pass on dessert when I'm out for dinner because I know when I get back I can have a piece of dark chocolate or a handful of kettle corn before calling it a night. 

ALCOHOL 

This is a big one. It would be easy to have a glass of wine out with dinner every night on the road. You feel like you need it, you deserve it, you want it. But I try to save the drinks for times when I'm out with a group or the nights that the drinking might carry on to after dinner. 

To me, it's not worth it to have a glass of wine by myself at the restaurant or to have one at dinner if I know everyone is immediately going back to the hotel to crash into bed after the meal. 

How To Eat Healthy on The Road

HEALTHY-ISH 

Healthy-ish is the name of the game when you're on the road. Sometimes, food can just make us feel better when we're stressed and a little homesick and if that means eating a Pop-Tart (or vowing to sample every new flavor with a co-worker, true story) then so be it. 

You're never going to eat 100% healthy when you're on the road. It's impossible given the fact that you're not cooking for yourself. 

But if you mentally allow yourself to enjoy the indulgences while still making intelligent decisions whenever possible throughout you're trip, you'll find that healthy-ish balance and feel a lot better when you return home. 

How to Eat Healthy While Traveling

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Pizza PSA: Not So Wild About Wild

 

I'm not about to jump on the gluten-free bandwagon - but I did take a trip to the latest gluten-free pizza hotspot in the West Village recently to check it out.

Unfortunately, all Wild did was reaffirm my belief that unless it's medically necessary for you to be gluten-free - you should eat real pizza and doughnuts and bread. Gluten and all.

Wild was a cute spot but very dark, crowded and noisy. The service was pretty terrible throughout the night too.

Wild Gluten Free Pizza Review

Avocado Toast

Wild West Village

We started out with the avocado toast which was interesting because it was topped with honey, gorgonzola and walnuts. It was a unique combination that I was excited to try - but ultimately disappointed with. My other issue with this was that the toast was more of a cracker than a piece of bread - but that's the GF life for ya.

Tuscan Kale Salad

Wild NYC Review

We went back and forth on a salad option before setting for this one, sadly. The group unanimously decided it was probably the most boring, bland, useless salad we had ever had.

Wild Mushroom Truffle Pizza

It's no surprise that I didn't love this pizza seeing as I can't stand the taste of truffles. But what surprised me when I took a few small bites was the fact that more than anything, I was overwhelmed by the mushroomy-ness of this pie. It was soo intense that I had trouble finishing even one small sliver. 

Wild Gluten Free Pizza

Other Forgettable Pizzas

The rest of the pies were unimpressive and forgettable - I can't even remember which ones we ordered after looking back at the menu!

In a city filled with stellar pizza options, I certainly don't suggest a trip to Wild.

But hey, the company was good and it got me out of my normal stomping grounds!

Perry Street NYC

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South African Eats on the Upper East Side

I'll try anything once when it comes to food. Ostrich, rabbit, goat, frog's legs - bring it on. If you're looking for an adventurous meal, I highly recommend a trip to Kaia Wine Bar, the Michelin rated African restaurant on the Upper East Side!

I've passed it many times and always thought, "This place looks cute." When I finally stopped to read the menu posted in the window, I was slightly surprised to find that it was African cuisine - but intrigued!

My parents were in town one night and since not a ton of people I know are willing to shell out money at a restaurant where they can't pronounce anything on the menu - I decdied to tell my parents that's where I wanted to go. Thanks, Mom & Dad! ;)

Kaia Wine Bar Review

Everything here is farm-to-table, which in my opinion, is the best way to eat! The menu at Kaia is pretty authentic South African fare right down to the wine and beer lists. I ordered a South African IPA and though I didn't love it, it was cool to try something so different.

Kaia was fairly noisy, but the space was trendy and the service was phenomenal. Our waiter was extremely nice and gave us lots of information and recommendations as we perused the unfamiliar menu-items.

The menu is constantly changing, so what we enjoyed during our meal may not be on the menu for your trip - but here's what we ended up ordering!

Bread and Dukkah

The meal started off with a BANG - fresh baked bread with olive oil and dukkah. Dunk your bread in the oil, then cover it in dukkah spice blend - my new favorite thing in the world! Dukkah is a blend of spices, seeds and nuts that originated in Egypt. Each dukkah blend is unique, but most contain curmin, coriander, sesame seeds, salt, dried herbs, nuts and seeds. Lately, I've been seeing it on a lot of menus, but my first encounter with it was at Kaia.

Slider Trio

We decided to try one of each of the out-there slider options as an appetizer. I say "out there" because instead of lamb, turkey, chicken or beef - these sliders were ostrich, elk and wild board. Each had a distinct taste and the toppings paired perfectly with their respective meat. I think that the wild boar was my favorite!

South African Food NYC