Blueberry Peach Crumble

Bonjour mes amis,

Now that I’ve gotten in the habit of updating on the go, I thought I would get this post going as I head to the gym. This WordPress iPhone app is so handy! Anyway, I come to you with deliciousness. Last week I took a break from the savory to try something seasonal and sweet. I ended up at the downtown Chicago farmers market after my morning workout last Thursday and the peaches and blueberries were calling my name. I was pretty sure that I wanted to try a crumble but I was unsure of which fruit I’d put in it until I got to the market. Sometimes it’s nice to let nature help plan the menu.

I’ve always been a fan of cobblers, crisps, etc but these desserts don’t often make their way into a healthy diet. I’ve especially struggled with this since going paleo. I had come across some interesting recipes for paleo crisps and crumbles and I thought it might be a good day to attempt one myself.


This recipe is paleo but if you’re not into that jazz there are a number of substitutions that can be made. I’ve tried to note them on the ingredients list as I realize that some of the ingredients would rarely be found in a non-paleo kitchen.



(For filling)
1 lb firm peaches (about 4 peaches for me)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T honey (would probably be delicious with maple syrup as well)
2 T arrowroot (this is for thickening, can sub with regular flour if not paleo)
3/4 C fresh blueberries
Dash salt

(For crumble)
1/4 raw sliced almonds
1/2 almond meal
1 T coconut flour (can sub regular flour)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 salt
2 T honey
2 coconut oil, cold (solid but soft)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Peel and slice peaches. You can do this a number of ways. I boiled mine for a few minutes, allowed them to cool, and then I was able to easily remove the skin. This might not work depending on the ripeness of your peaches. If peaches are pretty firm, it’ll probably be easier to just peel them with a nice or peeler. Anyway, after they’re peeled, slice them to your liking.

3. Place peaches in a bowl and add lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, arrowroot powder and salt. Mix together and then add in blueberries. Stir carefully as not to smash them. Let filling sit while you make crumble to give it a little time to gel.

4. Put sliced almonds, almond meal, coconut flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and whisk together. Add honey and stir until combined. Add coconut oil and slice into the mixture with a fork or your hands. Allows the mixture to clump together. It may not clump as much as it would with regular flour but that’s fine.

5. Add filling to an oven safe baking dish or pan. I used a small cast iron skillet greased with coconut oil.

6. Add filling to dish and top with crumble. I used my hands to drop the clumps on top of the filling in a crumble-like fashion.

7. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until the crumble has browned and the fruit bubbles. I placed mine under the broiler for a couple of minutes so that the crumble could brown further.

Et voila.


Pros and Cons of Traveling Light


Now that I’m all done with my summer travel, I thought I would take the time to post my conclusions from my little carry-on only experiment. For those of you who might not know what I’m talking about, these posts (1, 2) lay everything out. Overall, I’m really happy that I didn’t take a ton of stuff on this trip. There were so many occasions where I was aware that not having a crazy amount of luggage made things a lot easier, especially during the solo segments of my journey where paying for a taxi on my own would have been pretty expensive. Here is a quick run down of what I think are the pros and the cons of the carry-on only life.

Pro: Easy to navigate cities on public transportation and through crowded streets. This, for me, was the number one advantage of packing light. Because I mostly visited major cities, the airports were generally well connected to the centers via public transit. Trying to get to your hotel/hostel/AirBnB in a foreign city on public transit when you have a lot of luggage is 0 fun. Trust me, I done it and it sucks. This time around, because I was holding everything on my back, I had very little trouble hopping on and off trains and buses to get where I needed to go.

Con: Washing machine dependency/clothes washing dilemma.  A major determinant in ones ability to “survive” for longer periods of time without much luggage is access to a washing machine and/or facilities to hand wash clothes. I’m honestly not big on handwashing, especially for larger articles of clothing. I also had sweaty workout clothes to deal with. That being said, I was heavily reliant on staying in places where I would have access to a washing machine. Because I was conscious of this when booking my lodging, however, I didn’t really run into any problems.

Pro: Save money on baggage fees and transportation.This “pro” goes along with the first one in some ways. Being able to opt for public transit instead of taking a taxi, which can get very expensive, can save you a fair amount of money, (especially when you’re dealing with monetary exchange rates that are not in your favor!). If I ever got discouraged while traipsing through a city with my backpack, I just reminded myself of the delicious dinner that I would have that night with the 30 euros that I would have spent on a taxi. So worth it! Also, if you’re planning on making use of low-cost regional carriers in Europe, it makes your life so much easier to be able to carry on since the fees to check baggage are often more than your ticket itself.

Con: Can make gift-buying a challenge. If you intend to bring back big elaborate gifts for friends and family members, this could prove difficult if you only have a carry-on. Many of the blogs that I read suggested that you leave room in your suitcase when packing to accommodate for the things you’ll acquire. But when packing light is a major challenge to begin with, as it was for me, it’s hard to actually make this happen. My backpack has an extension on it that I didn’t use at the outset of my trip because I knew it would make it the dimensions too large for some of regional airlines that I would be flying in Europe. The good thing this was that I was able to extend it on my last leg from Dublin back to the States since I got a free checked bag on my international flight. That being said, I only picked up little things in most of the places that I visited at the beginning and then bought more stuff in Dublin because I knew I had the extra space. Some good ideas for great gifts that don’t take up too much space/weigh too much are jewelry (which explains why I have 4 new rings to my name), spices, light-weight scarves, and small figurines.

Pro: A Small Suitcase does a conscious consumer make. The flipside of the above “con” is that having limited space makes you all the more conscious of the things you buy. Because I knew that everything I bought would take me closer to my luggage capacity, I would have to ask myself if I really wanted it. There were a number of things that I would have bought on impulse that weren’t really all that special had I had the space.

Pro: Perspective. As someone who is fairly type-A, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed with things. It’s very easy for me to overthink things and make life way more complicated than it needs to be. Packing light, for me, was refreshing in that it eliminated a lot of stress by allowing me to see that not having everything that I’m used to having is just not that big a deal. I, as many of us, use a lot of products in various capacities throughout my day. But just because I use them doesn’t mean that they’re actually necessary. It sucks to not have both my exfoliating day face-scrub and my skin-toning night facial bar at my disposal but in reality, my day face scrub works perfectly fine at night as well. All of the brain energy that I put into choosing the perfect outfit for a specific outing is really not necessary as it’s ultimately of little real consequence. The simplicity of packing light allowed me to gain a bit of perspective on how little I actually need to “survive” on a day-to-day basis. I’m hoping to take some of this perspective back into my everyday life.



Summer2014: Palermo and Santorini

Now that I’m down to only two more hours of my eight-hour flight from Dublin to Chicago, I thought I’d get started on my next post. Hopefully reminiscing about my time in Sicily and Greece will help these last couple of hours fly by….

After Roma, the girls and I headed to Palermo. I was really excited about this since Sicily was one of the few place left in Italy that I really wanted to go to. Sicilian culture has a reputation for being very strong and very distinct from general Italian so I was curious to see what that life was like. We only spent a few nights in Palermo and honestly, I don’t think we needed more. Apparently when most people go to Sicily, they pass through Palermo as a day trip but spend most of their time in the small beach towns. None of us were aware of this, however, so we didn’t plan to leave the city. Palermo was definitely an experience. I found it to have a unique charm compared to other Italian cities, one that isn’t bound up in aesthetic beauty or historical significance and has more to do with its quotidian nature. Sicilians were just living their lives, unphased by the presence of three random American girls. Unlike their cities that heavily cater tourists, Palermo was unmoved, which was refreshing in many ways. There were some churches to peruse and some other small attractions but the great thing about Palermo was its realness. Sometimes, it was a little too real. Heated family arguments in the streets. Men being slapped by women, who I suspect, had done them wrong. While some of these scenes were uncomfortable to witness, the random street gatherings that went on into the wee hours of the morning and the delicious home-cooked style food made us feel more at home despite our obvious foreignness. The Sicilian spirit was definitely alive and thriving in Palermo and it was awesome to soak it up for a while.



Part of soaking up the Sicilian spirit, for me, was eating lots of caponata. I think I tried it at 5 different places total. I had actually tried to make caponata from a recipe a few months ago without having actually tried it. I was pretty geeked to have it in its region of origin. And you bests believe that it’s on top of my list of vacation-inspired recipes to post on the blog. ;)

Oh so I should mention that we rented a gorgeous apartment in Palermo. Probably the most beautiful apartment we stayed in. The view was great.

When we weren’t enjoying the gorgeous apartment, we were either eating or at Ciocolatta Lorenzo. This cafe stands out in Palermo as it definitely does not fit the model of the typical Sicilian cafe. It feels like a little bit of Brooklyn thrown into Palermo. With free wifi, delicious coffee, scrumptious baked goods, and a beautiful outdoor sitting area, it’s not surprising that the girls and I fell in love with this place. The people working there were also awesome. The one guy, who we called Lorenzo despite not actually knowing that to be his name, spoke to me in French. This was flattering in the sense that he took my French to be relatively good and weird in the sense that he assumed me to be French before American despite the fact that most of my friends were speaking American English. #blackgirltravelstruggles




Since I still have at least an hour left, I’m just gonna jump right into Santorini. Despite this probably being my favorite stop on my trip, I don’t know that I have a ton to say about it. It was more about being there and taking in all of the island’s beauty than about doing specific activities. Oh and eating! Backtrack: It was about taking it’s the islands beauty and eating.




I knew I loved Greek food before ever having gone to Greece but eating in Santorini has really sealed the deal for me. Simple, fresh, healthy ingredients that deliver incredible taste. What more could anyone ask for gastronomically? I’ll just this time to give you a visual recap while I try to keep myself from drooling.






While I pretty much loved everything I at in Santorini, the resto that Sooze and I went to on our last night definitely takes the cake. It’s called Nikolas and it’s located in Fira (also written was Thira) in the main center of the island. We were staying in Oia (pronounced Eeya) which is at the Northern tip of the island while Fira is more towards the midpoint. We ate in Oia on most occasions but after eating at Nikolas, we wished that we would have spent more time eating in Fira. Oh my goodness, so yummy. This place is an absolute MUST GO when visiting Santorini. It was unreal.



In addition to eating, I did get out on the water. On our last day, I did a boat tour that started at the tip of the island and came up the caldera, stopping at the red and white beaches as well as the hot springs. It was quite lovely. They crew suggested that we sit on the front of the boat, the very front with out feet dangling off so that when we went down into a wave, we got wet. It was sooooo much fun. I felt like a kid again.



The girls and I also went to chill in the black sand at Perissa Beach for an afternoon. I had a little bit too much fun playing with my champagne in the sand and taking photos. I had grandiose plans of posting a cool picture of my feet on the black sand and hashtagging it “blackonblack” but that dream never came to fruition.




So that’s actually pretty much it. I would like to go back to both Sicily and Santorini but will definitely go beyond Palermo next time. I still have flying time left but the onboard entertainment is calling my name so I’m out!

Next post Istanbul!


Summer2014: Rome

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.




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.






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.







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.


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.



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.



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.


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.



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?

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.


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


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


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


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


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
Wristlet and wallet
Paris map
Extra pair of hipster glasses (again, I’m absurd)
Athletic shoes
Face Cloth
Jump rope

On My Person

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. :/



Amsterdam in all its glory.

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

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

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!



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.

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.


Chicken and Sweet Potato Frittata with Broccoli and Roasted Tomatoes

photo 3

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.

photo 1

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 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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