Category Archives: Food

My 15 Whole 30 Must-Haves

I successfully completed my third (!) Whole 30 *thunderous applause* and thought, my not talk about it a bit on the interwebz. You can read everything I ate during my very first round HERE. But today, I wanna talk about the foods that I have to have in order to make it through. If you’re wanting to undertake your own Whole 30 (read up on it, first and foremost), give these foods a shot! However, I think what’s super great about the Whole 30 process is you really learn what foods feel best for you personally. So experiment and have fun!

Here’s what I need for a successful Whole 30…

 

  • Lara bars – great in a pinch if you get HANGRY
  • Guacamole pods – an easy (read: lazy) way to add some healthy fats to your lunchbox
  • Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage – my favorite sheet pan dinner to cook up on busy nights = these sausages + baby red potatoes + broccoli
  • GT’s Kombucha – afternoon pick-me-up
  • Flavored seltzer water – not married to La Croix, the store brands work just fine for me
  • Almond butter – gotta pair my fruit with protein
  • Applesauce pouches – just make sure there’s no added sugar (my husband calls these baby food but *shrugs*)
  • Carrot and red bell pepper sticks – when you’re off sugar, raw veggies like these taste AMAZING
  • Chicken burgers – TJ’s has a pre-made, compliant option but we just get ground chicken and make ’em ourselves
  • Potato and sweet potato latkes/home fries/hash browns – honestly do you even NEED bread when you can have a latke??
  • Bananas – I just can’t be bothered to cook eggs every single morning so these are my go-to brekky fuel
  • Banana pepper rings – the best way to top a salad imho
  • Salami – what can I say? I love my Italian meats
  • Ghee – when I DO cook eggs, this is the business
  • Plantain chips – for crunch

Have you ever completed a round of Whole 30? What would you consider your must-haves? Share below! ❤ 

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Health-Boosting Foods to Eat this Winter!

health-boosting foods to eat in the winter*This post may contain affiliate links.

After three winters in South Florida, I’d almost forgotten how inevitable the cold and flu season is up in this part of the country. For all the traffic, mosquitoes, and … boob sweat (yeah, I said it) — I’ll give Miami one thing; my immune system was *BLINGING* in that climate.

Between our holiday travels, I came down with a nasty cold that didn’t seem to clear for what felt like weeks. (And because I’m nothing if not dramatic, of course I turned to WebMD…which basically said I needed a CT scan…leading me to Google, “can CT scans cause cancer?” You know the drill, lol.)

Anywho…enough about my brush with death, *ahem* I mean, cold. I attribute my recuperation to this Whole 30 I’m currently undertaking, which has included an uptick in health-boosting foods.

I’m resolved to keep consuming a plethora of the following categories all winter long…

Eat Your Omega 3’s

Omega 3 fatty acids are healthy fats that are found in a ton of food types; including nuts,  seeds and fish as well. Omega 3 is vital if you want to reduce joint pain and stiffness. Eating foods filled with Omega 3’s may help to boost the immune system by enhancing the functioning of immune cells. 

Recipes:
Slow-Roasted Salmon
Ginger-Garlic Tofu
Cherry Crumble

Eat Your Fiber

Soluble fiber is essential to your body. You can find it in fruits and veg, nuts and even oats. Consuming fiber-rich dishes is a fantastic way to decrease inflammation and boost your immune system. Soluble fiber can also reduce your cholesterol levels. 

Recipes:
Lentil Salad
Maple-Cinnamon Applesauce
Overnight Oatmeal

Eat Your Orange and Greens

Eating vegetables and fruits that are dark green or orange in color is great for winter. They are packed with all sorts of micro-nutrients to keep you healthy during this season. Think: spinach, kale, squash, carrots, and oranges.

Recipes:
Simplest Kale Salad
Stuffed Butternut Squash
Orange and Avocado Salsa

Eat Your Spices

Onions, ginger and garlic are perfect for adding a bit of flavor to a dish. Not only do they make food taste great, but they are also ideal for boosting immune function. Turmeric is another spice to throw into your winter rotation. Used in Indian and Chinese medicine, it is great for boosting your immune system. It can also help with heart disease and inflammation. It’s super versatile, and whenever you’re making a warm, comforting dish, it is the perfect addition.

Recipes:
Tomato-Garlic Lentil Bowls
Scallion-Ginger Broth
Sunshine Smoothie

What are YOUR thoughts on food as medicine? What dishes are you cooking up to stay healthy this winter? I’d love to know! xoxo

Two-Week Minimalist Meal Plan

Have a poke around Pinterest or a scroll through YouTube and you’ll soon find that there are a million and a half ways to meal plan.

Today, I’d like to talk about just one of them. This rather minimalist approach to meal planning involves selecting “default meals” for each dinner of the week. That way, when the 5 o’clock, “I’m too tired to think about what’s for dinner rolls around,” you’re already sorted. And because rotating through JUST seven dinners can feel a bit limiting for some, I thought it might be fun to explore the possibilities of a TWO-WEEK minimalist meal plan.

A few breakfast, snack, and lunch options for each week. 14 dinners. Sounds easy enough right? There are plenty of opportunities for substitutions and mild modifications to keep things interesting. And the best part? If you’re out for the night and won’t be preparing dinner — just skip that night’s dinner. You can pick it back up the next time the day rolls around.

Here’s what I came up with…

Week One –

Breakfast

At home (think-weekends): Greek yogurt bowls with banana, berries, and granola

On the run (think-week days): Green smoothies or toast with nut butter and fruit

 

Lunch

At home: Black bean quesadillas with avocado and fruit

Packed: Salad in a jar with whole wheat crackers

 

Snacks

Ants on a log, veggies with hummus, and “energy” date balls

 

Dinner

Monday: Chili and cornbread

Tuesday: Deconstructed cabbage rolls and steamed broccoli

Wednesday: Roast chicken (or rotisserie) and root veggies

Thursday: Pasta and salad

Friday: Tacos (or taco bowl) and corn (or corn chips with guac)

Saturday: Soup and garlic bread and salad

Sunday: Breakfast for dinner

 

Dessert

Daily treat: a couple squares from a bar of dark chocolate

Special treat: Banana “nice” cream

 

Week Two-

Breakfast

At home: Pancakes

On the run: Egg cups with fruit or apple cinnamon steel cut oats

 

Lunch

At home: Chicken salad over greens with fruit

Packed: Leftovers

 

Snacks

Fruit, roasted chickpeas, air-popped popcorn

 

Dinner

Monday: Thai food

Tuesday: Hummus tuna melt and steamed broccoli

Wednesday: Buffalo chicken nuggets and sweet potato tots

Thursday: Steak and roasted potatoes

Friday: Black bean burgers and fries and kale salad

Saturday: Homemade pizza

Sunday: Shop the pantry/fridge and throw something together!

 

Dessert

Daily treat: a couple squares from a bar of dark chocolate

Special treat: chocolate chip cookies

The above is an example of a Two-Week Minimalist Meal Plan that would work for me and my family. To create your own, think about the types of dinners you turn to time and time again. Which do you enjoy cooking? Which ones taste delicious at the end of a busy day? Happy meal planning!

Do any of you meal plan? Would you consider this minimalist approach?

Party Planning: Everything You’ll Need for a Wine Tasting Evening

*This post may contain affiliate links.*

When you’re a wine nerd, there’s one type of party that tops the rest: a wine tasting evening! Rather than heading out to an overpriced bar or vineyard hosting a tasting, you can recreate the experience for half the cost— without losing any of the fun.

If you like the idea of inviting a few friends over for a wine tasting evening, keep reading for everything you need to ensure the experience is as good as it can possibly be…

Go wild with wine varieties.

If you’re going to have a wine tasting evening, then you obviously need wines to taste, and variety is very much the spice of life. Opt for wines that you wouldn’t usually drink; you never know, you might just find a new favorite! A range of price points is also a good idea, though only spend more on wines you already know that you like. Experiment with cheaper options and then indulge your favorites as you progress through the price range. Once you’ve got your bottle collection, you can create the order you’ll taste them in using this helpful guideline:

Sparkling –> Dry Whites –> Heavier/Older Whites –> Rosés –>
Younger Light Reds –> Bold Reds –> Sweet Dessert Wines

Consider offering non-wine options, too!

A “wine tasting evening” doesn’t have to be just a wine tasting evening, especially if you want to include people who aren’t huge wine fans. If your knowledge of alcoholic beverages is lacking, then spend a little time browsing Alcohol Professor until you have ideas for additional options. If it’s within your budget, it’s nice to opt for a few unusual bottles. (Something your guests haven’t tried before.) Cointreau and other interesting liqueurs can help round the evening out nicely.

You should provide food.

Although the drinks will be the star of the show, you will need to provide some form of food. This is especially true if you and your guests intend to swallow, rather than spit, the beverages you’re going to sample. Carbs are a best bet for helping to absorb alcohol, while a sorbet is the perfect palate cleanser between glasses.

Teach your guests how to spit! 

Spitting is not the most delightful of topics, but it’s one that we need to touch on so strap in! Spittoons are standard at conventional wine tasting evenings, and you’ll want to think about introducing the same practice for your evening. If you don’t, there’s not a huge amount to distinguish the evening as a wine tasting — rather than a wine drinking — evening. Working at a wine shop means I’m always trying new wines! But because I’m usually “on the clock” for these tastings, spitting is a must. At first I was sort of embarrassed about this specific wine-custom but I’ve gotten used to it. If your guests have never spat wine before, then it’s worth considering playing this video before the party starts:

Think about how everyone will get home

Even with spitting implemented, it’s still best to encourage your guests to treat the evening as one where alcohol has been imbibed. When you issue your invitations, ensure your guests have plans to get home safely. Lyft is your friend, y’all!

Are you a wine nerd? Would you consider throwing a wine tasting evening (or have you already)? Any wine topics you’d like me to cover in a future post? 

Wine Find: Ceja Vineyard’s Vino de Casa

If you’re looking for a great bottle to have on hand for when the need for a red arises, my current favorite is this red blend from Ceja Vineyards. It’s majority Pinot Noir (a style Ceja excels at) blended with Syrah and Merlot.

Vino de Casa Red Blend

Aroma:  bright cherries, dark fruit, spice, ripe plum and cocoa.
Palate:  crisp acidity and a caramel and supple finish.
Flavors: red and dark fruit infused with blueberry.
Favorite Pairings: all sorts of Mexican dishes and even pizza.

President of Ceja Vineyards, Amelia Moran Ceja, calls it “a breakfast, lunch, and dinner wine.” Basically, it is the perfect “everyday” wine that will pair with lots! Smooth and simple.

Also, if I’ve learned anything from selling wine, it’s that a narrative you can share with your friends while pouring them a glass is more important to most than the typical “specs” we attribute to bottles. And Ceja Vineyards has one I like! Amelia was the first Mexican-American woman ever to be elected president of a winery. She credits a strong matriarchal tradition and an independent spirit for her success, but most of all her experience with food has shaped her life choices and put her at the forefront of the wine-world in Napa. (There are even videos of her recipes on the Ceja Vineyards YouTube page!)

I love this piece of advice she shares on the vineyard’s website, “My grandmother told me, ‘Whatever you do, if you love it and learn everything you can about it, you will be successful—and not dependent on a man.’” That dedication to pursuing one’s passion is in every glass!

You can check out other bottles on offer from Ceja Vineyards HERE. Cheers!

P.S. A fun bike accessory for wine lovers and my favorite Thanksgiving wines.

January Grocery Haul

As I mentioned in my How I’m Kickstarting 2018 post, I want to spend more time in the produce section than anywhere else in the grocery store. So, to hold myself accountable, I thought I’d share a recent grocery haul. (I also want to start experimenting with more daily life micro-blogging in 2018 and thought this might be a fun one for that!) Here’s what I got and why I consider these items staples…

Bananas – Versatile because you can pair them with so many things. I love to have one with almond butter for my breakfast but they’re also great on top of oats, quinoa, granola, yogurt, etc.
Nectarines – Hand fruit is always good to have … on hand …for a quick portable snack. Down here in South Florida even the trash apples (sorry red delicious!) are kinda pricey but I’ve found nectarines to be affordable year-round.
Avocados – Good healthy fats for your brain and skin.
Zucchinis – I’ve cut way back on grains since our Whole 30 experiment so I love spiralizing zucchinis to replace noodles in any dish.
Pesto – Great as a topping for those spiralized zucchinis (easy lunch!) and really yummy on potatoes, too.
Bell pepper – Add an extra color to your salads or chop into sticks for a raw vegetable side with lunch.
Red onion – Great salad element (they really take it to the next level!), especially when you throw in something sweet too – like raisins or chopped dates. All about that taste balance!
Lemon – For detoxifying lemon water.
Broccoli – Yummy to add to soups or steamed up as a side.
Green lentils – I like to add these in place of grains to bulk up soups and stews for a healthy, protein-packed winter meal.
Kale – For salads or steaming but never for smoothies because my blender just isn’t strong enough, lol.
Sweet potato – Packed with Vitamin A and Beta Carotene so it’s great for your eyeballs!
Gluten-free wraps – Throw some avocados and veggies in, wrap it up!
Kefir – High in probiotics so it’s good for the gut.
Almond milk – Add it to smoothies, use it in baking, pour it over granola.
Walnuts – For salads and snacking. They’re great for your brain because they pack that Omega 3 fatty acids punch!
Kombucha – Because I’m addicted.

What are your grocery staples lately? Any tips for spending more grocery-time in the produce department and away from the convenient lure of frozen, packaged foods? Let me know! 

Book Recommendation: Relish by Lucy Knisley

“Cookies are all about comfort. Sometimes something simple can comfort the most.”
– Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley’s book Relish: My Life in the Kitchen is such a treasure. Especially if you love graphic or foodie memoirs!

Lucy looks back at her life and realizes, thanks to a foodie father and a hippie-turned-chef mom, food has always played an integral role. She shares her memories, along with her experimental and ever-evolving palette, throughout the pages of the book. Each evoke laughter or a “been there, girl!”-feeling but more importantly–come with a corresponding recipe.

Any foodie, whether you’re culinary school trained or simply take comfort in a good chocolate chip cookie, will find something to love about this sweet memoir.

And speaking of cookies…

Lucy Knisley’s recipe for THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

You’ll Need:

Flour – 2 cups
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Butter (melted but not hot) – 1 cup
Chocolate chips – 12 oz
Sugar – 3/4 cup
Brown sugar – 3/4 cup (packed)
Eggs – 2
Vanilla – 1 Tbsp
Coconut flakes – 1 cup

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Mix brown sugar, butter, and sugar
  • Add vanilla and eggs, gradually while stirring
  • In a different bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt.
  • Gradually combine dry and wet
  • Mix in coconut and chocolate
  • Drop onto an ungreased baking pan
  • Secret weapon: add a tiny pinch of salt to the top of each cookie
  • Bake for about 10 min. until perfect
  • Eat with milk

What are you waiting for? Bake up a batch of cookies and grab a copy of Lucy’s book today! I promise you won’t regret EITHER. xoxo

P.S. Looking for more book recommendations? Here are some more graphic novels/memoirs I love and here’s a round-up of books I loved in 2016

Wines to Enjoy This Thanksgiving

Are you drawing a blank about what wine to pair with your upcoming Thanksgiving feast?  As I’ve mentioned before, I work a few nights a week at a local wine store, and I love passing along the nuggets of knowledge I pick up along the way. Let’s chat!

Light bodied reds pair exceptionally well with turkey and heartier vegetable sides. So a Pinot Noir is a lovely addition to any Thanksgiving table. Look for bottles from California with flavors of cherry or strawberry and hints of spice or woodsy notes.

If you’re looking for something a little heavier, but don’t want to overwhelm all those classic Thanksgiving flavors, grab a Malbec. There are tons of great bottles in that perfect under-$15 sweet spot. Pick one up from the Mendoza region and enjoy!

Of course, not everyone is a red drinker, so it’s nice to have alternative options. Chardonnay is a classic for Thanksgiving. A hearty, fruit forward flavor profile is best. Keep your eye out for flavors and aromas to complement the ingredients on your table. Apple, Vanilla, and Nutty profiles create a beautiful bridge between beverage and meal.

If you’re looking to create a fun and festive ambiance, you’ll want to include a Sparkling White. Not only do sparkling wines signify celebration, but the nutty-fruity flavor profile of most bottles works great with Thanksgiving foods. Go for something with a softer style, like a Prosecco or a bottle labeled “demi sec” or “dry”.

Looking for something a little more unexpected? Try a Pinot Gris. This Alsatian style wine has a rich and spicy character but maintains a beautiful sweetness in finish. The flavors and mouth feel are a bit more complex than other options, making each glass a fun experience for guests.

Finally, Beaujolais Nouveau is released every year on the third Thursday of November (today!) and is a fun wine to include at Thanksgiving. The wine plays into the idea of a harvest celebration as its release signifies the first wine of the year. It’s an easy-to-drink wine with low tannins and a classic grape flavor.

Do you serve wine with your Thanksgiving feast? Which of these bottles sounds like the winner for your table this year? Let me know!! xoxo

What I ate during week 4 of the Whole30

Greetings from Day 30 of the Whole30! (oh my god, oh my god, OH MY GOD!) I’m planning to do a full write up about the experience (and maybe a food diary post about the reintroduction phase) but for now…

Here’s what I ate on Week 4:

Day Twenty-Two

Breakfast – Coconut Chocolate RX bar
Lunch – Salad with 50/50 mix, chicken, salami, broccoli, carrots, and macadamia nuts, and strawberries
Dinner – Baked tilapia, roasted sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots
Snack – Apple and almond butter
Beverages – Coffee, water, cold brew with coconut/almond creamer

Day Twenty-Three

Breakfast – Banana and almond butter
Lunch – Plantain chips and guacamole, hard boiled egg, strawberries
Snack – Chicken and salami roll ups, apple
Snack – Cherry Pie Lara bar
Dinner – Baked chicken and sweet potato
Beverages – Coffee, water, kombucha

Day Twenty-Four

Breakfast – Banana and almond butter
Lunch – Salad with 50/50 mix, salami, hard boiled egg, guacamole, and topped with plantain chips, and strawberries
Dinner – Chicken sausage, sweet potato, and broccoli
Snack – Apple and almond butter
Beverages – Coffee, water, La Croix

Day Twenty-Five

Breakfast – Banana and almond butter
Lunch – Eggs scrambled with broccoli and strawberries
Snack – Key Lime Pie Lara bar
Dinner – Chicken sausage, sweet potato, and broccoli
Snack – Handful of cashews and freeze-dried pear
Beverages – Coffee, water, kombucha

Day Twenty-Six

Breakfast – Banana and almond butter
Snack – Cherry Pie Lara bar
Lunch – Salad with 50/50 mix, turkey, hard boiled egg, pickle, and home-made dressing, plantain strips and 2 dried figs
Dinner – Hot dogs and sauerkraut
Beverages – Coffee, water, sparkling water

Day Twenty-Seven

Breakfast – Banana and almond butter
Lunch – Eggs scrambled with broccoli and served with salsa, handful of almonds, freeze-dried tangerine
Snack – Blueberry Muffin Lara bar
Dinner – Hot dogs with sauerkraut, plantain strips, unsweetened apple sauce
Beverages – Coffee, water, cold brew coffee with nut pod creamer

Day Twenty-Eight

 Breakfast – Banana and almond butter
Lunch – Chicken jerky, plantain strips, and Key Lime Pie Lara bar
Dinner – Tilapia, sweet potatoes, and broccoli
Snack – Apple and almond butter
Beverages – Coffee, water, kombucha

For more Whole30 food diaries CLICK HERE

What I ate during week 3 of the Whole30

Greetings from Day 22 of the Whole30! [If you’d like to read about my first week on this journey CLICK HERE or my second week CLICK HERE.]

I’ll be honest, week 3 I kinda felt like I was eating like a crazy person. Not a lot of variety — Lunches consisted of salads and deli meat roll ups with a rotating set of accompaniments. Dinner was spaghetti 3 nights and smoked sausage for 2. And there was a heavy reliance on Lara bars.

But the truth of the matter is, I was BUSY. Several days of week 3 were spent working extra long hours with meal times either squeezed in or at odd hours. So I’m proud of myself for sticking with it…even if the food I ate wasn’t super exciting.

I also didn’t have a huge appetite this week (especially on days 17 and 18) so I just went for what sounded good. (Note: I don’t think the appetite change had much to do with W30 but was more to do with where I was at in my cycle.)

All in all, I’m still feeling great! I’m starting to plan my reintroduction phase and form a vision of what I want my diet to look like once this is all over. But more on that later!

Here’s what I ate on Week 3: 

Some things to note — 

  • Whole30 advises to be mindful of snacking and consider eating larger meals instead of eating in between meals (especially if you have binge eating tendencies). Because I lead a pretty active lifestyle (exercise daily and side hustle at a store where I’m pretty much always on my feet running around and sometimes hefting heavy crates of wine) and prefer not to eat huge amounts at a time, I’m staying A-OK with snacking! 
  • We are proud owners of an air fryer which is basically a kitchen gadget with powers akin to witchcraft and can make foods taste deliciously unhealthy with mere heat and AIR. (Highly, HIGHLY recommend.)
  • Prior to the Whole30, Chet and I were already accustomed to eating at home (or prepared at home and taken on-the-go) for every single meal (unless we were traveling). This made adopting the program a million times easier than I think it would be for folks who eat out or purchase convenience foods for the majority of their meals.

Day Fifteen

Breakfast – Apple Pie Lara bar 
Lunch – Salad with 50/50 mix, baked chicken breast, hard boiled egg, leftover veg, and raw broccoli with Caesar dressing
Dinner – Spaghetti meat sauce over zoodles and topped with nutritional yeast
Snack – Apple and almond butter
Beverages – Coffee, water, kombucha, cold brew coffee mixed with French vanilla nutpod

Day Sixteen

Breakfast – Banana and almond butter
Lunch – Salad with 50/50 mix, turkey, hard boiled egg, broccoli and macadamia nuts with ranch dressing
Snack – Cherry Pie Lara bar
Dinner – Spaghetti meat sauce over zoodles and topped with nutritional yeast
Snack – Banana, 1/2 an apple, and almond butter
Beverages – Coffee, water, La Croix, kombucha

Day Seventeen

Breakfast – Cherry Pie Lara bar and veggie sticks
Lunch – Turkey and salami roll ups, 1/2 an apple with almond butter, and a carrot
Snack – Key Lime Pie Lara bar
Dinner – Spaghetti meat sauce over zoodles and topped with nutritional yeast
Beverages – Coffee, water, kombucha

Day Eighteen

Breakfast – Hard boiled egg with Breaux’s Bayou Shakedown
Lunch – Turkey and salami roll ups, grapes, and plantain chips with guacamole
Dinner – Smoked sausage, roasted sweet potato, and broccoli
Snack – Banana and almond butter
Beverages – Coffee, water, La Croix, cold brew coffee mixed with nutpod, kombucha

Day Nineteen

Breakfast – Hard boiled egg with Breaux’s Bayou Shakedown, banana, and salami
Snack – Apple Pie Lara bar
Lunch – Salad with 50/50 mix, turkey, and broccoli with homemade dressing, grapes, and plantain chips with guacamole
Dinner – Smoked sausage and veggie sticks
Snack – Smoothie bowl made by blending frozen mango and strawberries topped with coconut chips
Beverages – Coffee, water, kombucha

Day Twenty

Breakfast – Banana and almond butter
Snack – Blueberry Muffin Lara bar
Snack – Handful of cashews
Lunch – Turkey and salami roll ups, side salad, unsweetened apple sauce
Dinner – Snack plate: Salami, hard boiled egg, a carrot, macadamia nuts, and grapes
Beverages – Coffee, water, La Croix

Day Twenty-One

Breakfast – Banana and almond butter
Lunch – Turkey and salami roll ups, a carrot, grapes, and plantain chips with guacamole
Dinner – Bacon wrapped sirloin steak, home fry potato medley, and green beans
Snack – Cherry Pie Lara bar
Beverages – Coffee, water, kombucha, decaf chai tea

I’ll report back on Day 29 with Week 4!!! We’re in the home stretch!

Have you ever completed a Whole30? Any tips and tricks? I’d love to hear! Comment below or shoot me an email (ebeth.berger at gmail dot com). xoxo