Summer2014: Rome

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I’ve been really lagging on the blogging lately. I realized that I really hate typing extensively on my iPad and it’s been a detergent to me making updates. I’ve been typing notes on my iPhone for some, what I hope will be, fun travel-related posts about topics such as the pros and cons of packing light and recommendations for maintaining a healthy lifestyle during long traveling stints. I’m excited to put them together once I’m back in Chicago next week (!!). I actually much prefer to type posts on my iPhone which is why I have pulled over to have a coffee in cute little cafe in the 3rd arrondissement in Paris to start rehashing my Italian adventures.

After my two weeks in Amsterdam, I headed to Rome to meet up with my friends, Nora and Susan. We met while studying abroad in Rome three years ago so it was only fitting that we started our European adventures there. Though only a short stay, it was the perfect amount of time for a trip down memory lane. I got there a day before Norz and Sooze arrived so I had ample time to explore on my own. Since I knew we’d want to go back to our favorite spots together once they got there, I thought I would go on some new adventures during my solo day. I had built a small list of restaurants and shops that I wanted to try to get to while I was there so I started with that.

My first stop was Que Te Pongo for lunch. Since I’m not a big pizza/pasta girl, I wanted to find a place that would allow me to experience the freshness of Italian ingredients while sidestepping the carbs. Que te Pongo was the perfect spot. I was able to build a salad with the ingredients of my choice from their case. Of course, I opted for salmon as my protein and then added tomatoes and olives per the owner’s recommendation. Simple, delicious, and light. Perfect fuel for a hot day of trekking around the ancient city.

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My next stop was Grezzo. I had actually found out about this place through #instagram. Since I’m a dark chocolate-aholic, I’m always on the lookout for paleo-friendly (gluten-, soy-, and dairy-free) dark chocolate so this was a must-go for me. Of my three days in Rome, I went here twice. I will not disclose how much I spent nor how quickly it disappeared. What I will say is that if you love high quality chocolate and treats, this is a must-go when passing through Roma.

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After having way too much fun at Grezzo, I grabbed my bags from the hostel where I had spent my first night and checked in at the hotel where the girls and I would spend our remaining two nights in Roma. I still had a fair amount of solo time until their flight got in from London so after chilling out for a bit (and partaking of all the delicious chocolatey goodies that I’d bought myself), I headed down to the gym for a quick workout. The hotel gym was not impressive at all but with a little imagination and a lot of Beyoncé, I made it work. After my workout, it was time for dinner in Trastevere. Trastevere is the neighborhood where I lived while studying in Rome and I was super excited to go back. It’s the really trendy, hipster if you will, neighborhood of Rome so of course I felt at home. While googling, I came across Fish Market, which I immediately knew would be a great place to spend my evening. It was a Saturday night and it’s a pretty happening spot so naturally it was packed but since I was only a party of one, I was able to walk in and get a seat at the bar. ;) I went to the case to choose my salmon (you’re probably noticing a pattern at this point) of choice and also ordered steamed greens and a fish burger from the menu along with a glass (okay two) of red wine. Yum yum.

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The bartenders at Fish Market were lovely. Since we were in such close quarters, naturally we because friends. One of them spoke English well since he had spent some time in New York and gave me recommendations for my upcoming trip to Sicilia. The other didn’t speak much English but we communicated well with our eyes…

After dinner I went back to the hotel to find Nora and Susan’s bags but not them. They had left a cute note saying that they went to grab food. They soon returned and we headed out for a night out on the town. The night fell a bit short of our expectations as many of the bars and clubs were closed for the summer season. Apparently all the Italians leave Rome for holiday in July. Who knew? Anyway. We need up at this club that we used to go to all the time when we were studying abroad and it was quite the experience. The crowd seemed to be full of American study abroad students (go figure) and we just felt super old. After getting bumped and shuffled by overly drunk 20-year olds one too many times, we made our graceful exit. Clearly our time in that scene had passed.

The next day we proceeded to roam (yes, the pun is heavily intended) the streets and frequent places of study abroads past. After a failed attempt to eat at Roscioli (why was everything closed??), a pizza/sandwich place near where we took classes, we ended up eating in good ol’ Campo de Fiori. After stuffing our faces, we went back to our hotel to relax, shower, and try to recuperate in time for our 9pm dinne reservation.

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I guess our meal in Campo really tired us out, however, since we all passed out. I woke up at 9:11 to find Nora and Sooze fast asleep in their bath robes. After scrambling around to get ready, we grabbed a cab and went to Renato e Luisa. I have such fond memories of this place. It’s right next to the palazzo where my study abroad program was housed. My program organized a lovely wine tasting there and it was the first time that I experienced the unique bliss that is achieved through delicious food, great wine, and quality company. It was awesome and fitting for me to have that moment again with friends that I made during that special semester of my life.

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After stuffing ourselves (again!!) we headed over to the Tiber which was lined with cute outdoor bars and shops for the summer. Nora and Sooze were taken by the candy spread.

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The next day we headed off to Sicily…

As usual, this post is lengthier than intended so I’ll stop here and begin the next one with Palermo.

Toute à l’heure !

Summer 2014: Amsterdam

Greetings from Thessaloniki!

I’m currently in a cute little coffee shop in the center of Thessaloniki, Greece. My friend Susan (aka Sooooooze) and I opted for an 8-hour layover here on our way to Istanbul instead of an overnight layover. Thought it would be nice to see another Greek city. Bad news is, it’s Sunday so things are pretty dead. The good news is, there are a ton of coffee shops here. Apparently (says Greek Reporter) Thessaloniki has the most coffee shops per capita of any city in Greece. That being said, it didn’t take long before Sooooze and I popped a squat a this chic little spot called Baker Street to have a drank.

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We don’t have to be back at the airport for another couple of hours so I thought I’d get some bloggin in. I was trying to think about how I wanted to organize my posts since I’m having trouble posting as a I go. I thought I would just go in order of the places I’m traveling until I get through everything. That being said, lets chat about life in the Low Country…

In Amsterdam, I had the pleasure of staying with my friend Sam. She was finishing up her Masters at the University of Amsterdam so I was able to crash with her until she left and then with her friends for my last few days. This was awesome for various reasons. Aside from not having to pay for housing, I also got to hang out with Sam and meet some of the awesome friends she made over the last year. I can honestly say that they were a solid group of people and since they’re now my Facebook and Instagram friends, I’m sure that our connection will stand the test of time.

As for my class, I really enjoyed it. I’m not sure if I ever went into detail about what this whole European adventure was about. I got funding from my program to take a course on Black Europe in Amsterdam. Since the course was only two weeks long, it was time intensive, meeting Monday-Friday from 9:30-12:30 and then from 2-4:30 following lunch. I must say, the second session was often a struggle. After a long morning session and lunch, everyone was a little sluggish but we always managed to get into some interesting discussions. It was really cool because the people taking the class (about 40 of us) were from all of the world, which allowed for a range of perspectives. Race/racism/racial relations look very different in Europe than they do in the US so I found it extremely valuable for helping me think through a project that engages race and gender in a non-US context. I learned a lot of important fact based information but the incite of the European students was definitely the highlight. So many interesting discussions with intelligent, passionate people. I’m really grateful for the experience and looking forward to seeing how it will influence my work.

In addition to the academic and social components of my time in Amsterdam, I also had a great fitness experience. Since I was in Amsterdam for 15 days straight and my foot fracture was still heeling, I thought it would be worth it to try to find some sort of gym or fitness studio. I did a little research and I came across a blog that mentioned that Health Club Jordaan had a tourist memberships I looked into it. I ended up getting the one month tourist membership for 69 euros since the weekly rate was 35 euros and I would have needed two weeks. While it would have been ideal to not have to pay for a gym and just run as I had planned before hurting my foot, I don’t retreat spending this money at all. The gym was awesome and really helped me get into a mini-routine during my stay. The classes were challenging and the facilities were up to date and clean. The staff and instructors were super friendly and helpful. I often ended up just chatting with them after classes about my course, my impressions of Amsterdam, and just life in general. They also have a great smoothie bar/health store whee I was able to find paleo-friendly snacks! If you’re ever in Amsterdam, as a tourist or otherwise, I definitely recommend this place. Will definitely go back there if I ever find myself back in Amsterdam.

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Speaking of health, I was really pleasantly surprised at how easy it was for me to stick to paleo eating in Amsterdam. I didn’t eat out very much because I was able to cook and store food at Sam’s place. I also didn’t have the best gastronomical experience during my first visit to Amsterdam a few years ago so I didn’t come to the city with big foodie plans. Perhaps I should have given it a second change but I figured I’d take advantage of having a kitchen while I could since I knew I’d be eating out a ton for the rest of my trip. The great thing about making my own meals was that I got to play around in the grocery stores. Foreign grocery stores are probably the only thing more exciting than grocery stores in the US. I was really curious to see what the health food scene was like outside if the States. On my second day in the city, I inevitably stumbled upon what Sam described as the “Dutch version of Whole Foods” – Marqt. I walked in, saw the produce section and knew I had found my grocery store home for my stay. After throwing some beets, smoked salmon, almond milk, and a bar of Green and Blacks 85% Dark into my basket, I headed to checkout and found that it was card only and that they take American cards. When does that ever happen in Europe? Can you say heaven?

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In addition to Marqt, I also frequented the little store next to Sports Club Jordaan, appropriately called Organic. Though smaller than Marqt and not a chain, this place has a great selection of produce, nuts (and nut butters!), dairy-free products, and premade healthy meals. The owner of this store is also this awesome Dutch man with two super cute daughters. I know this because we talked about them, their differing personalities, and watched a video of the youngest one’s most recent dance performance. Obviously, we bonded. He’s great and so is his store. Not sure what I would have done without almond and cashew butter for an entire two weeks!

Jeez. I didn’t realize how much I had to write about Amsterdizzle until I started typing. I think I’m gonna call this post a wrap and just end with some quick info about some other places I enjoyed while in Holland.

SLA- great salad bar restaurant with great fresh ingredients. So yummy! Loved the lamb meatballs.

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Delicious Foods – Great small grocery store next door to SLA. Bulk nuts, seeds, grains, and beans. Also great dark chocolate selection. :D

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Carry On Life

Ciao ragazzi,

So I drafted this post while on the plane heading from Amsterdam to Rome but my internet situation has been a bit precarious so I’m only able to post it now. Disregard the temporal confusion. Here’s the post as I drafted it:

As I write this post, I am aboard a luxury Easyjet aircraft headed to Roma! If you know anything about budget European airlines, you’re likely drenched in the sarcasm that’s spilling from that statement. While I might not be flying fancy, I am indeed flying, which means……my carry-on made it through!! Honestly, I don’t actually know that it did. There was a bit of chaos while boarding and I just kinda slipped through without putting it in the sizer. I just told them that it didn’t fit in the sizer for guaranteed on-board but that it was of regulation size for hand luggage so I got it checked for free. :D I don’t really mind having it put in the hold as long as I miss out on that 50 euro fee.

Anyway, in all of my excitement about making it through my first budget airline debacle, I thought I would finally put together a post with what. I actually ended up packing. I was pretty much figuring out what I was taking right up until the last moment and then didn’t have time to update. So far so good in terms of my choices. I had access to a washing machine in Amsterdam so I was able to wash my workout clothes regularly and wash all of the other clothes right before I left.

So what did end up packing? I used my packing cubes to divide thing up by dresses/bottoms (large packing cube), shirts, swimwear, under garments (medium packing cube), and toiletries (small packing cube). And then I three some stuff in the inside netted zip pocket and front pockets of my bag. Here’s the run-down.

Large Packing Cube

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6 dresses (4 casual, 2 for going out)
1 pair of cropped jeans
2 pairs of shorts
6 skirts (4 casual, 2 minis for going out)
2 pairs of workout leggings
1 pair of workout shorts
(In the photo, there is also a pair of skinnies but I decided they weren’t necessary)

Medium Packing Cube

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1 crop top (which I hope that my abs and confidence allow me to wear at some point)
2 sweaters
3 tank tops
1 casual tee shirt
3 bikini tops
2 bikini bottoms
2 workout tank tops
1 long sleeve workout shirt

Small Packing Cube

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2 bottles conditioner
1 bottle leave in conditioner
Chap stick
3 bottles nail polish along with base coat and top coat (I know, I’m absurd)
Nail polish remover and cotton balls
Nail clippers
Face scrub
Face soap (yes, I need both!)
Face lotion
Body lotion
Jojoba oil
Shea butter
Mini loofa
Shower gel

Randomly Stuffed Elsewhere

Sun glasses
Hair brush
Comb
Jewelry
Wristlet and wallet
Paris map
Extra pair of hipster glasses (again, I’m absurd)
Athletic shoes
Sandals
Face Cloth
Jump rope
Chargers

On My Person

iPad
iPhone
Walking shoes
Outfit from clothes listed above

So I think that’s everything, I’m sure there’s some little stuff that I’ve forgotten and I definitely acquired a few small things while in Amsterdam but nothing too crazy. As you can see, I was able to get a lot in my bag, even some things that in retrospect I could have done without. I’m already feeling the benefits if not having a ton of stuff with me which is lovely. Getting to the airport on the train was easy since everything was on my back. It’s also kept me from buying a ton of stuff in Amsterdam. Interested to see how this will go throughout the rest of my trip. I have a few more budget airline trips to navigate before I can make the final verdict of this whole carry-on only thing. I’ll keep you guys posted. Wish me luck!

First Post from Abroad!

Hello hello!

Feels so good to be posting. I’ve been having trouble logging into WordPress on my iPad due to my lack of technical savvy but I finally figured it out. I’ve been in Amsterdam for 10 days now. So crazy to think about. Only 6 more days before I move on to Roma. I’m really excited about it. I’m currently updating on my iPhone so I’ll provide more details about my time in Holland and my course a bit later. For now, I’ll just post some photos to give you guys and idea of what I’ve been up to. Also, if you follow me on Instagram @girlwiththehipsterglasses (I finally changed my username) you can get a more frequent look into my adventures. I also didn’t get to post the second part of my packing post before I left so I will try to get that up soon and let you guys know how the “carry-on only” life has been going for me thus far. :/

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Amsterdam in all its glory.

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Only took me a day to find a delicious decaf almond milk latte. #winning

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Sam being cute after turning in her Master’s thesis.

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Sam lives in student housing in Amsterdam and they only have kitchenettes with no oven so…I figured out how to make frittata on the stovetop. Success!

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Celebratory feast. After my friend Sam turned in her Master’s thesis, we celebrated with ribs and potatoes from Cafe Deklos (known to be the best ribs in Amsterdam) followed by apple pie and fresh mint tea from Cafe Winkel. The crust on this pie was absolutely to die for. So worth it.

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Amsterdam showing off again.

Mmkay. Now that I know how to get logged in, I will definitely be updating. Really looking forward to sharing my trip. Ciao for now.

GWHG

Chicken and Sweet Potato Frittata with Broccoli and Roasted Tomatoes

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I’m not really a big egg girl. I know, this is a bit surprising considering that this a recipe post for frittata, a dish that is largely made up of eggs. Growing up, I always hated eggs. I would try some of my mom’s periodically to see if liked them and they always grossed me out. Even though I’ve expanded my palate and become a much more adventurous eater over the past few years, I’m still not that into them. Paleo people, however, LOVE eggs. Like, they’re kind of obsessed. They’re a great source of protein, healthy fats, good cholesterol, vitamins, minerals, the list goes on. They’re also versatile and can be made quickly for a fast nutritious meal. For these reasons, I’ve been trying to work eggs into my diet despite them not appealing to my taste buds.

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I started with egg whites, which I realized, don’t taste like much. For the past few months, I’ve been making egg white scrambles, heavily seasoned and loaded with veggies and I’ve actually enjoyed it. By playing around with egg whites, I realized that my issue with eggs really lies with the yolk. I just think it’s so weird. I’m not a fan of the texture, the taste, or the smell of them. The yolk, however, holds much of the nutritional punch of the egg so I’ve been incorporating it into dishes in ways that still allow me to get all of its benefits without actually have to deal with or taste them. That being said, if you’re really into the taste of eggs, you might want to modify this recipe a bit to highlight the egg flavor a bit more. I would suggest adding more eggs (I’ve seen frittata recipes that use up to 10 eggs, which I think is nuts but hey! whatever floats your boat). I would also suggest eliminating or lessening the amount of coconut milk. You might also put in less veggies. Though this is certainly a frittata, the egg in this recipe definitely plays a supporting role to the other ingredients rather than being the star of the show.

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This is my second time making frittata and I’ve already decided to make it a part of regular cooking routine. They’re simple to make and can easily be made to hit all of the points on the nutritional check list. They’re great to make ahead and grab for a quick meal throughout the week. They also transport well so they’ll be great for days when I’m working out  on campus and eating before class. I think the best thing about frittata, however, is that they’re so customizable. You can easily change up the flavor profile to give yourself a completely different taste and escape culinary monotony. Furthermore, they’re great when you find yourself with a ton of veggies and meats left over from other meals that you have no clue what to do with, which is kinda what’s going on with this recipe. I’m a big fan!

Gather This:

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (I like a lot of garlic, use less if you’re not into it), minced
  • 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ cup porcini mushrooms, minced
  • 1 ½ cups of broccoli crowns, broken into somewhat small pieces
  • 1 cup boneless chicken, pre-cooked and cut into bite size pieces
  • About 1 ½ C roasted grape tomatoes, sliced in half (If you’re roasting these yourself, they should be roasted ahead of time. I put mine in the oven before cutting up all of my veggies for the rest of the dish and the timing worked out perfectly)
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ C full fat coconut milk
  • About ½ tsp paprika (I honestly just sprinkled what I thought was a good amount so play around with this)
  • ¼ tsp dried red pepper flakes (again, I didn’t actually measure this. Use your judgement and follow your taste buds)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • cooking fat of choice (I used bacon fat. I know….who am I? I’m getting real comfortable with this paleo thing)

Do This:

If roasting tomatoes, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut tomatoes in half and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cover them in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Set to roast for 20-25 minutes (I roasted mine for about 22 minutes before placing them under the broiler for about 3 minutes to make them blister a bit more). By the time you need to add them to the frittata, they should be done.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Add cooking fat to cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once oil is heated, add garlic and shallots and saute for about 1 minute (don’t let them burn).

3. Add chopped sweet potatoes to skillet. Let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add mushrooms and broccoli to skillet and let cook for about another 5 minutes, stirring every now and then.

5. Finally add in cooked chicken and roasted tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and let cook for another 3-5 minutes until ingredients are heated.

6. While ingredients are cooking, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, and spices in a bowl.

7. After all ingredients are heated, turn off heat and pour egg/coco milk mixture evenly overtop. Sprinkle an additional bit of salt and pepper if you’d like.

8. Place skillet in preheated oven and let bake for about 20-25 minutes until egg has completely set.

9. For a lovely browned top, remove from oven and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Make sure to check it every 30 second or so during this time as not to burn!

10. Top it with some fresh basil, if your heart desires.

11. Eat it all up.

 

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40 Days, 7 Countries, 1 Carry-On, Unlimited Possibilities: Part One

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As many of you know, I will be doing a bit of traveling this summer. My journey will begin in Amsterdam a week from today and though I’m really excited about both the academic and personal adventures that are to come, I’m also a little nervous. :/ Even though I studied abroad for a year in Europe, this trip is sure to be very different. For one thing, I’m going to be bouncing around from city to city with no real home base for most of the trip. Aside from two and a half weeks in Amsterdam for my course and one week in Paris for research, everything else will be a blur of airports, budget airlines, and Air BnBs. Because of all this unavoidable craziness, I made a decision a few months ago to do my entire trip with just one carry-on size backpack. Yeah, you read that right. Just one carry-on for five weeks. For all of you worldly light packers out there, this might not sound significant. I know that a lot of people travel abroad for months and months with just one backpack and get into far messier adventures than I probably will and have no problem living minimally and soaking up the experience but…..I’m not one of those people, or at least I haven’t been up until this point. I still have nightmares about some of my airport experiences from my first time in Europe, many of which were exacerbated by my overpacking. For those of you have had the pleasure of dealing with budget airlines in Europe, you’re aware of how strict the regulations are for these flights. They actually make you put your luggage in those little sizers. How rude. I even remember that on my way to Barcelona, there was a sizer that was also a scale to be sure that it fit both criteria. So much anxiety. My plan for this trip is to avoid all that drama. Because I’m not ballin out of control, I will again be taking advantage of budget flights during this trip but I’m hoping that my second time at the rodeo will go a lot smoother…

Since I made the decision to go light on this trip, I’ve been doing my research to figure out how to pull this thing off. After doing research, I got to do the fun part: shopping. I know, it’s ironic that I’m spending money of new things in order to save on budget flights BUT the few items that I had to buy cost less than paying for luggage and I can use them again for future travels (of which there shall be planety!). I started this summer off with the search for the perfect bag. I decided I wanted a backpack for easy carrying and also for its malleability, which might come in handy when squishing it into sizers. Excuse my terrible quality photos. I took these at night so the flash is a little extra, especially on the show pictures. My apologies.

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I settled on this baby from ebags.com along with these packing cubes (people say that they work miracles or packing luggage. I’ll report back). Obviously, I haven’t put it to the test yet but it had awesome reviews on the website and with the promo that they were running when I bought it, it only ended up costing me about $77. This is so great considering the bags that I was initially considering ranged in cost from $150-200. So now that I have the bag, the work has been trying to figure out what in the world to put in it…

First up, shoes. (Naturally)

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I decided to take three pairs of shoes, that would be versatile and comfortable. My original game plan was to buy a pair of Croc flats… I know, I know….but you can’t beat them for comfort! Since my foot injury, however (did I tell you guys about that? Yeah, I have a fracture and I have to wear a wrap and use shoe inserts. And I can’t run. Womp womp.), I decided that I’m going to just take my trusty Dr. Scholls ballerina flats. I’ve had these for a few months and they’re super comfy and work well with a variety of outfits. Are they super chic? No. But I can put my inserts in them and they’re not completely hideous…..right??

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My second part is an Nike athletic/running shoe. I was originally planning to bring my serious Brookes running shoes as I had grandiose plans of running Europe but since it looks like that won’t happen, I’ll just have to tear up some body weight work and yoga along the canals of Amsterdam and the on the beaches of Santorini. Not a terrible workout regiment to settle for for which to settle.

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And last but not least, my versatile sandal/fancy shoe. This is the only shoe that I actually ended up purchasing for my trip and is in some ways, the most important. I wanted a cute sandal that could be worn for a nice day out but also not look silly in a bar/club setting since I obviously I am not packing heels. I settled upon this one, which I got from Nordstrom Rack. A little pricier than I would have ideally wanted but I love them. They’re Cole Haan so they’re super comfy. I’ve worn them a couple of times in Chicago and they don’t disappoint. Great addition to the show collection.

So I’m going to end this point here because it’s getting lengthy. I’m planning to solidify my clothing list over the next couple of days as well as plan all of my toiletries and post with items that finally made the cut before finally starting to pack. I’m sure it’ll be an experiencing worth documenting.

A la prochaine!

Sweet Potato Pancakes

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I love pancakes. Who doesn’t? I try to make them for myself at least once a week as I believe wholeheartedly that they make me a better person. Though pancakes don’t generally come to mind when thinking of “clean eating,” they can definitely be tweeked to accommodate those who want to enjoy them while staying on the healthy train. Obviously, no healthy version of pancakes will compare to delicious, carby, gluten-packed buttermilk stacks of yumminess but they can be pretty delicious and deliver nutrition in versions that are more friendly for day-to-day meals rather than occasional treats.

I’ve been thinking about making sweet potato pancakes for a while now, as I’m constantly trying to find new ways to incorporate paleo-friendly carbs into my post-workout meals. Today, I woke up feeling brunchy and I could think of no better way to indulge in that feeling than by making pancakes. The major concern with healthy pancakes is that they can either be really dry or really egg-y since egg often makes up the majority of the composition. After browsing a few recipes, I settled upon this one of my own. Was pretty happy with the way that they turned out so I thought I’d share.

The great thing about these pancakes is that they’re nutritionally sound. Aside from protein pancakes that call for protein powder, pancakes usually lack substantive nutrition as they’re made up of empty carbs and sugar. Not these puppies. The sweet potato delivers healthy carbs along with fiber, vitamins A, B-6, and C, and magnesium. The eggs add protein, healthy fats, and more vitamins and minerals, while the banana adds potassium and natural sugars. While I could definitely see myself throwing a little breakfast sausage or bacon on the side of these, they’re perfecting nourishing and satiating all on their own.

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Gather This: (1 serving)

  • 1/2 small ripe banana
  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 1/2 c mashed), cooked
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour (could probably sub for other kinds of flour but I’ve only tried with coconut)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of salt

Do This:

1. If your sweet potato isn’t cooked, poke some holes in it with a fork and stick it in the microwave. I usually bake them in the oven ahead of time but this might take more time than you’d like. If so, use this handy dandy tutorial from Nom Nom Paleo to cook them quickly. If your potatoes are freshly cooked, let them cool a bit (maybe about 10 minutes) before adding them to the pancake mix as to not cook the eggs.

2. Add wet ingredients (banana, sweet potato, eggs, coconut milk, vinegar, vanilla extract) to a bowl and mix well. I usually add the banana, sweet potato, and eggs first and mash them together well with a fork to get them smooth before mixing with the other ingredients.

3. Whisk together all the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt) in a small bowl.

4. Add the wet ingredient to the dry and mix well.

5. Heat cooking fat of choice in a skillet over medium-low heat (on my stove this is setting 3). (If you’re making multiple pancakes (which I highly suggest!) as opposed to one large one, this is a good time to preheat the oven to 350 degrees. This way you can toss the already-made pancakes in to stay warm while you’re cooking the others.)

6. Once oil is heated, spoon batter into pan until your pancakes are the size and shape you desire. I suggest keeping them small and making them one at a time as it makes the flipping process go over much easier. These solidify nicely but they will still be a little thinner than traditional pancakes so you don’t want to risk making a big mess of the whole thing.

7. Cook until pancakes start to bubble (about 3-4 minutes) and then flip and let cook for an additional 2 minutes or so. Throw the first round of cakes onto a tray and into the heated oven while you make the others (I ended up with four total).

8. And now the fun part. Once all of your cakes are made, jazz them up how you see fit. I went with the organic no-sugar added Very Berry Jam that I got from the farmer’s market, chunky almond butter, and some drizzled coconut milk. This is a great moment to add some more sugar if you’ve got a sweet tooth or add some more nutrition value with nut butters, fresh fruit, etc.

Yum yum yum.

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Conclusions on Eating Paleo

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Hi friends,

As many of you know, during the month of April, I did a 30-day run with the paleo diet. You can find my posts about it here and here. Towards the end of the month, things got crazy with running my first half-marathon and starting on final projects for class so I wasn’t able to update about the last few weeks. Since finishing my 30-day challenge, I have continued trying to eat paleo, though it has been difficult with trying to get in meals with friends before leaving LA and traveling. Now that the dust is settled a bit, I’m hoping to do better with sticking to a paleo diet. I thought I’d take this post to talk about what I think are some of the pros, cons, and interesting points to note about paleo eating. I’ll also include some information resources at the end along with some of the paleo blogs that have been my saving grace since embarking on this new journey. The photos are just to jazz things up and give you guys some examples of what it looks like to eat paleo. Some of the dishes are homemade while others are paleo-ish dishes that I’ve had while eating out at various restaurants.

1. Pro: You Feel Good

So obviously, the reason that people do paleo, despite its challenges is because it makes you feel good. Once my body adjusted to paleo, I definitely felt like I had more energy throughout the day and felt lighter in general. I didn’t have the post-meal slump that many of us experience and I had to get comfortable with being satiated without hitting that wall of lethargy.

2. Con: Expensive

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Yes, paleo makes your body feel awesome but it tends to have the opposite effect on your wallet. While paleo’s emphasis on animal protein already drives up the grocery bills for those of us who were not previously huge meat-eaters, the quality of the meat that the diet calls for further heightens the bill. I love the idea of eating the meat of animals who were treated and fed properly but this is certainly a luxury. Having spent a fair amount of time at the whole food meat counter, I know how quickly these products add up. In addition to the meat, staple paleo ingredients such as coconut oil, nuts, and nut butters aren’t cheap either. And the local, farmer’s market fruits and veggies also add up pretty quickly. This is probably, the biggest con of the diet for me. Having grown up in a working class household (and being back in that household as we speak), it is very evident to me that eating paleo is not possible for most working class families. Reading the labels on some of the products as local discount grocery store, the same products that my parents buy and that I was raised on, I’m appalled by the ingredients that low-income communities are, in many ways, forced to consume. It really underscores how classed health is in society, which is an important, yet upsetting, reality to face.

photo 4(Big-O-Bacon burger from the Nom Nom Paleo cookbook on top of a sweet potato pancake and topped with fresh avocado, onions, and tomatoes)

3. Pro: Useful Guiding Principles

While high quality/ high priced paleo foods are not accessible to everyone, I do think that the diet offers a great set of principles that can help lead anyone to a healthier diet, even if it’s not paleo. To do paleo properly, you have to become a complete nutritional/ingredient label whore. Its not uncommon for me to throw all of my bags on the floor in a particular aisle in Trader Joe’s so that I can comfortable scan the labels of pre-made paste sauces or canned goods. (I usually go at off-peak shopping hours for this very reason). While it’s a little obnoxious at first, it’s nice to take some control over the things that I’m putting in my body. Furthermore, scrutinizing labels also requires you to have some knowledge of the ingredients that are and are not good for your body. While part of this is a matter of readings, part of it is simply, or not so simply, knowing your body. This is one of the great things about paleo. While there are guidelines that some people follow super strictly, the actual idea behind the diet is that you shouldn’t be eating things that irritate your body. Many of us ignore the signs that our bodies give us about certain food products, taking them as “normal.” Paleo pushes you to be in tune with your body, allowing you to identify the things that it doesn’t like and eliminate them from your diet.

4: Con: Practicality

So while one downfall of eating paleo is the amount of money that it requires, another is the amount of time. So you go to Whole Foods. You stock up on grass-fed beef, wild caught fish, and locally produced vegetable and then what? You need to find time to actually prepare it. For those of us who are content eating grilled chicken and asparagus everyday, this might be no biggie. For those of us who enjoy food and seek interesting flavors and variety, it can be challenges to find the time to dedicate. Because most pre-made products are not pale-friendly, so much has to be made from scratch. This means more ingredients/money and more time. Being on fellowship last year, it wasn’t super difficult for me to eat paleo because I already spent a lot of time to the kitchen before starting the diet. Next year, when I’m TAing and taking on other responsibilities, I’m a little worried that I’ll struggle to stay paleo while staying fed, sane, and happy. We’ll see how it goes.

photo 4(Salmon cakes on top of salad of spinach and sun dried tomatoes)

Information Resources:

These sites were great for me when I first began thinking about giving paleo a try.

The Ultimate Paleo Guide – self-explanatory. Great lists of what is and is not paleo.

Fitness Nerd: Beginner’s Guide to Paleo

 

photo 3(So this is probably the best recipe that I’ve tried recently. Crispy Smashed Chicken topped with homemade roja asada salsa (both from Nom Nom Paleo) with a side of delicious baked plantain chips. I mean, if you can eat things like this, paleo can’t possibly be that bad.)

 

Nomtastic Paleo Blogs:

Lexi’s Clean Kitchen – I’m sure you guys have seen me pimp this blog before. It’s great. It actually contributed a lot to my desire to try paleo. Lexi’s recipes, with their simple ingredients and instructions, are super accessible and makes living the paleo life no biggie.

Nom Nom Paleo – This is my most recent blog obsession. Recipes range from super simple side dishes such as balsamic roasted beets to more complex dishes like. This blog is also really fun to read because Michelle’s personality just jumps off the screen. I also own her book, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans, and it’s great!

PaleOMG – Just an all around great site for paleo recipes and fitness inspiration.

Against All Grain – Great resource for anyone with gluten sensitivity. I also own Danielle’s cookbook. Was the first paleo cookbook that  purchased and it’s been extremely helpful in helping me transition.

photo 3(Homemade paleo graham crackers from Against All Grains. I actually had to stop making these because I would eat the ENTIRE batch in a matter of hours. Yeah, they’re healthy but I still need to practice self-control. :P)

 

Summer Paleo Reads: These are some of the books about the paleo diet that are on my list to read this summer.

Grain Belly

Against All Grain (Primarily a cookbook but there is some great information at the beginning that I would like to actually sit and read through)

 Eat the Yolks

Primal Blueprint – So the primal diet is a bit different from paleo but they are in the same caveman-no-eat-grains vein. This book was actually written by Mark Sisson, a Williams Alum (gotta show Eph love). I’m signed up on his website and it’s a great resource. I’m interested to read more of what my buddy Mark has to say.

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((Amazingly delicious) pork blade from The Purple Pig. If you’re a Chicagoan or ever visiting the city, I highly recommend this place. I will certainly be back before heading back to LA.)

I’m certainly no expert on paleo but I would love to answer any questions that you have about my experience in the comments. Hope this is helpful for any of you guys out there looking to get into it.

 

Sabrina

Turkey Eggplant Lasagna

photo 1(Don’t mind my legs making a cameo in the pictures)

Ciao loves.

So here we have another impromptu recipe post. About an hour ago, I instagrammed a pic of the delicious and nutritious turkey eggplant lasagna that I made for dinner and someone commented asking for the recipe. I thought that instead of only emailing it to her, it would make sense for me to just throw it on up on the blog. This recipe is great and pretty simple. I give some suggested spices and measurements but it’s really fun to play around with your seasoning on this one. I’m thinking of going spicier next time by adding some jalapenos. I might also play around with some more fresh herbs.

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Gather:

  • 1 large globe eggplant
  • About 2 TBL of coconut oil for brushing
  • 1 lb ground turkey (or any other ground meat. I like the ground turkey thigh because it’s still lean but fattier than the breast)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 5 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes (I used the fire-roasted ones from Trader Joes)
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 1.5 TBL Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt + plus more to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • chopped scallions, for garnish

Do this:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Slice the eggplant into 16 slices. First chop the top off and then cut it in half the short way. Then cut each half (length-wise) into 8 equal size slices. Sorry if this is confusing. I was confused while I was going it too. Basically you just want to be able to lay the slices in flat layers across the meat sauce. It’ll be yummy regardless of whether this is done right. Some pieces will obviously have skin covering one side, that’s fine.

3. Brush both sides of eggplant with coconut oil and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. (You will probably need two.)

4. Bake for about 15 minutes on each side or until eggplant slices start to brown. Once browned, remove eggplant from oven and lower heat to 350 degrees F.

5. While eggplant is roasting, heat a bit of coconut oil to a large pan over medium heat and add ground turkey to brown.

6. Once there is no longer any pink in the meat, add garlic, onions, and mushrooms and mix. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

7. After 10 minutes, add in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning (or whatever seasoning your heart desires), salt, and pepper.

8. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 10 minutes.

9. Once eggplant is done roasting and meat sauce is done simmering, add a layer of meat sauce to the bottom of your baking pan. Then top it with a layer of roasted eggplant slices. Add another layer of sauce, and then eggplant slices. Try to save  enough sauce to cover the top. I failed at this as you can see from the pictures but it makes it look nicer if you have a nice meaty top layer!

10. Bake for 30-40 minutes. If you’re a cheese person, I could definitely top this off with some delicious cheesy goodness and then pop it back in the oven until it melts. I’m not doing too much dairy the moment but if I was, this would fo sho be the time to do it.

11. Top with fresh cilantro and scallions, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I put mine over some grain-free garlic flatbread that I made. That recipe still needs some work so I won’t post it but I would definitely recommend some garlicy goodness on the side.

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Mixed-Berry Chocolate Coffee Protein Smoothie Bowl

photo 3One of the best things about being on vacation is having big globs of time that you can fill with whatever nonsensical activity that you please. I often find myself wandering around Whole Foods after my workouts, with no intention or need to buy anything. I take mental inventory of things that might be interesting to try in the future, and make notes of prices to compare to those of other grocery stores before strolling out towards the subway station. Oh to live this leisurely life all the time. On second thought, I guess it’s good that I don’t since it makes me appreciate it all the more when I can.

So that little spiel was all to say that with my new-found life of leisure, it isn’t necessary for me to plan to post recipes days or weeks in advance. If I stumble upon something yummy, I can just hop on the computer and get the goods to you guys immediately.

I’ve been doing the smoothie thing a fair amount since I’ve been back in Chicago. Because I’m not in my own kitchen, with all of my spices, ingredients, and gadgets, I’ve been trying to keep things as simple as possible. Smoothies are a great way to do that. They’re also awesome for early morning workouts (like the 7:15 “Shredded” class I had yesterday because I’m insane!) because you can make them the night before and store this in the fridge for a quick breakfast that fuels a good workout.

My adventures in Smoothie Land have, ironically, not been that smooth. I dabbled in the green smoothie thing last week with no real success. I love the idea of having greens in my smoothie but masking the flavor without adding a ton of sugar or sugary things was challenging. I felt bad because my friend Liz was visiting and she fell victim to my green smoothie experiments. She was a good sport about it but I know that they weren’t up to bar. Sure, they were edible but sometimes edible just isn’t enough…

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Recently, I’ve been getting into the whole smoothie bowl thing. While eating a smoothie from a bowl with a spoon in some ways make it less of an on-the-go meal, there are some great perks to eating smoothies instead of drinking them. Well really, there is only one perk but it’s enough to make me a fan. YOU CAN ADD TOPPINGS. Despite the capitalization of that last sentence, some of you might be thinking that it’s actually not that bag of a deal. I would like to argue that it is, in fact, a big deal to be able to add toppings as it opens up exciting possibilities for taste and texture.

I’m obsessed with nuts. I love the taste. I love the nutrients. But mostly, I love the crunch. Yeah, drinkable smoothies are great and I get that they’re called smoothies for a reason but there’s nothing like a little crunch. The ability to add nuts and other crunchy things gives the smoothie bowl a significant advantage over its drinkable counterpart in my book.

Okay. So now that I’ve talked about this smoothie bowl thing waaayy to seriously, I’m just post the recipe. This post is becoming a clear indication of how much time I have on my hands.

Mixed-Berry Chocolate Coffee Protein Smoothie Bowl

  • 1/2 frozen large banana (or a whole small one)
  • 1/2 C frozen mixed berries (I used blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries)
  • 1/4 C- 1/2 C coffee ( I used decaf) (This is the only liquid used in the smoothie so adjust the amount for your prefered thickness)
  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice (I used grass-fed vanilla whey)
  • 1 T almond butter
  • 1/2 T cocoa powder

Blend it up. Put it in a bowl. Throw some toppings on it. I added fresh blueberries, almonds, and flax seeds. Next time, I’m definitely adding chopped dark chocolate chunks. I just have to.

 

enjoy!