Labor Day Fun in NYC

Happy Monday! Can you believe summer is already over? Oh man! This one zoomed by fast. “Short but sweet” is an understatement. I ended it on a high note though, with my dad in town over Labor Day weekend in NYC. We kicked things off at the US Open on Saturday. This is now my fourth year in a row going! I think that makes it an official tradition now. ūüėÄ

US Open in New York 2015

We watched the Federer match, which did not disappoint. He won, of course. ūüėÄ

Federer Match at US Open 2015
One of my favorite parts about the US Open: the FOOD! (This is NOT your average hot dog and popcorn kind of sporting event.) I researched beforehand to scope out anything new. I saw avocado toast mentioned in an article, and knew¬†right away that I needed to try that! So glad that I did! This was some of the best I’ve ever had. Next¬†level! The toast was very, very crispy, and the toppings did not disappoint… especially the pistachios! Wow! How did I never think of using them with avocado? Such an amazing flavor combo!
Avocado Toast at the US Open

On Sunday, we headed to the Bronx for the Yankees game. (What can I say? It was quite the sporty weekend! None of my friends are super¬†into sports. So when my dad or brother are around, I have to take advantage and do lots of sporty things.) Since I’m not really eating meat these days, I knew I didn’t want a burger or hot dog. I Googled¬†vegetarian options, and when I saw sushi, was initially a little skeptical. But at the same time, it sounded too good to pass up! I ended up ordering the avocado and cucumber roll. It didn’t disappoint!

Veggie Sushi at Yankee Stadium

That night, we ate dinner at Santina. (On my restaurant bucket list for a while!)¬†It’s become a new habit of mine to research restaurants on Instagram before I go. I’ll search the location tag, and look at¬†what food pictures people are posting to decide what I want to order. After some Insta-browsing, the one dish I knew I NEEDED to try¬†was the squash carpaccio! Ooohh, and it did NOT disappoint! I love that so many restaurants in NYC are becoming¬†more veggie-focused and creative. Even the non-vegetarian restaurants. Whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat-eater, you should still be eating lots of vegetables, so why not make them delicious and extra-special?!
Squash Carpaccio at Santina

Ironically, Santina is a seafood/Mediterranean restaurant… meanwhile I don’t eat meat, and my dad doesn’t eat seafood (just a personal preference of his, nothing allergy-related). But we both still found plenty of dishes to order! He opted for the spaghetti pomodoro. It was legitimately some of the best spaghetti I’ve ever had!
Spaghetti Pomodoro at Santina

I opted for the broccoli and pecorino, which was mixed together with a tender risotto and caramelized garlic. Wow! This was a winner as well, although I couldn’t finish the whole thing. Just look at all that cheese! Wowza. Broccoli and Pecorino at Santina

With my major sweet tooth, I always save room for dessert. Especially when trying a new restaurant (and when I know I can split it with someone!). I don’t exactly remember what this was called, but it was some sort of chocolate pear cake. It was pretty underwhelming, especially compared to the rest of the food. But I will say that the coffee was fantastic! Always love ending a special meal out with something sweet and a good cup of joe (usually decaf for me, unless I’m going to be out all night!).¬† Chocolate Cake at Santina

Speaking of coffee, I started the next day (Labor Day) off with the most amazing iced almond milk latte from Untitled at the Whitney. I love the look of the milk swirling into the espresso. There’s just something so whimsical about it! My dad and I split a ton¬†of different dishes for brunch, and believe me, I was darn hungry after just having finished a 9-mile run (half marathon training).¬† Iced Almond Milk Latte at Untitled

First up: cherry tomatoes and chickpeas. This was essentially hummus with fresh pita chips and gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. We probably could’ve eaten three more of these. It was THAT good.¬† Cherry tomatoes and chickpeas at Untitled

Next up: kale salad with shaved fennel and carrot dressing. Are you seeing a theme here? Everything was SO fresh, farm-to-table and very veggie-focused. Right up my alley. This salad was a unique and very delicious combo, with nuts, delicate slivers of carrot, fennel, kale and cherries, complimented by the tastiest carrot dressing.

Kale salad with shaved fennel and carrot dressing at Untitled

Next up: the smashed cucumber salad! This was a truly interesting dish… as soon as it came out my dad agreed, “Whoa. That is not what I was expecting.” However it was another big hit — bursting with summer flavors.
Smashed cucumbers salad with soba noodles and sesame at Untitled

Last but not least! After peeking at the¬†dessert menu, I decided not to order anything (although I was SERIOUSLY eyeing the triple chocolate chunk cookie). Low and behold, the waiter came out of the kitchen at the end of our meal with a giant cookie and milk. He said it was on the house. Somehow, he could just read my mind and knew that I wanted¬†dessert. Well, he was right! This¬†was pretty darn amazing, too! The cookie packed three different types of chocolate — milk, dark and white. What’s not to love?!¬† Triple chocolate chunk cookie at Untitled

Just look at those chunks! This cookie is going into my top 10 list in NYC, right up there with the greats like Levain.  Triple chocolate chunk cookie at Untitled

And let me not forget the avocado toast! After walking around The Whitney all day, my dad and I were in need of a snack. We stopped at the Studio Cafe. My dad demanded we split the avocado toast. According to him, “I had no idea this was such a big thing!” To which I responded “are you kidding me?!” LOL! Needless to say, my dad is not a foodie. Luckily for me though, he certainly appreciates good food and always trusts my opinion. ūüėĬ† Avocado toast at the Studio Cafe at The Whitney

Now it’s back to work, and time for fall!! I always have a weird time encompassing all the fall things when it’s still 80 degrees out in NYC. Lol. Admittedly though, I’m super excited for pumpkin things and have already been stocking up!! Anyone else?

Trader Joe’s Cold Pressed Watermelon Juice

Move over, lemonade… there’s a new summer drink in town!¬†As soon as I saw cold pressed watermelon juice at Trader Joe’s, my eyes opened¬†up like saucers. Watermelon is my all-time favorite summer fruit. Soooo finding it in liquid form was pretty exciting! ūüėÄ

Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Watermelon Juice

This juice is cold pressed and consists of exactly what you’d expect: watermelon. Plus lemon juice. And… it really DOES taste like watermelon! ūüėÄ Think of the juiciest piece of watermelon you’ve ever eaten, but in concentrated form. This is it! I will say it is quite high in sugar (29 grams). While none of it is added sugar, I did find it to be too sweet to drink the whole bottle in one sitting. I enjoyed about half of it as a post-run treat. Next time, I’m going to mix¬†it with sparkling water. I think that would reduce the sweetness a little bit and make for a nice, refreshing pick-me-up! All in all, this is worth a buy for a fun summer treat! ūüėÄ

Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Watermelon Juice

Beat the Afternoon Slump! 9 Healthy Snack Ideas

Happy Monday, everyone! Time to get¬†back to work¬†after a relaxing weekend. I am nearing the end of my half marathon training! Yesterday¬†I ran 8 miles. I can’t believe how quickly the training has flown by!¬†Admittedly, I skipped more than one of my long¬†weekend runs (oops!) due to travel plans and visitors. But I’m feeling on track and am SO excited for the¬†race in September!¬†I lend much of my success to a SLEEP (+ no alarms on the weekend!), hydration,¬†plenty of rest days, stretching and proper nutrition. Which is the perfect segue-way into today’s post… healthy snacks!

I received an email from a reader a few weeks ago asking for healthy meal and snack suggestions.¬†I figured this would make a good post, so I’m starting with snacks! Here goes!

1. Larabars¬†— I am a huge fan of snack bars due to their portability.¬†Perfect for the office, travel or just on-the-go eating, I am particularly fond of Larabars. Each bar contains only a few ingredients — usually some combination of¬†nuts and dates. Plus, they taste like dessert! I buy them individually at Trader Joe’s — they’re pretty reasonably priced, and then you can mix and match the flavors! The “Peanut Butter” cookie is one of my favorites.

Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar

2. Nourish Snacks — I recently tried the Coco’nilla Crunch for the first time. Thank goodness these come in individual servings… because I definitely could’ve eaten a few more handfuls! This stuff is delicious, super flavorful and packed with healthy ingredients. I’ve started to see it offered at Starbucks and juice shops around NYC. It’s perfect to stash in your purse or tote bag for when hunger strikes!

Nourish Snacks Coconilla Crunch

3. 3-Ingredient Cookies —¬†if you’re up for a DIY (easy!) snack, these cookies can’t be beat! Just three ingredients… need I say more?

Three-Ingredient Cookies

4. Popcorn — Ohhh, how I love popcorn! I have been obsessed with this snack for about as long as I can remember. Lately I’ve been buying Trader Joe’s olive oil or guilt-free popcorn, but nothing beats homemade popcorn on the stove. Mmmm!

Healthy snack idea: popcorn

5. Pumpkin seeds — I love, love, love pumpkin seeds. If you have a “salt” tooth like me, you will appreciate them, too. I’m a big fan of these mini packs from Duane Reade. Sometimes when I forget to bring a snack to work, I’ll run over and pick one up — they’re only $1! Otherwise I always keep the full-size bags from Trader Joe’s stocked in my pantry, which are only about $4.

Pumpkin Seeds

6. Cold pressed green juice — another great Trader Joe’s find — green juice! This is one of my favorite travel snacks because it packs a portable punch of nutrients, which can often be hard to¬†find at airport food courts.

Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Green Juice

7. Pretzels and hummus or pretzels and nuts — I am 100% addicted to flat pretzels. One of my favorites is the Trader Joe’s “everything” pretzel slims. They are SO flavorful, it actually forces you to slow down a bit when you’re eating them. For a snack, pair with hummus (red pepper is my favorite!) or nuts/pumpkin seeds.

Trader Joe's Everything Pretzel Slims

8. Healthy muffins or bread — try a recipe that packs in protein/fiber and fruit. That way it’s more than just empty calories, and you’re actually getting some nutrients that will keep you fuller for longer! Pictured below is a recent lemon blueberry bread I whipped up (recipe here).

Healthy Lemon Blueberry Bread

9. Apple or banana and nut butter — another easy go-to. I love pairing fresh fruit with a dollop of nut butter. Here I opted for apples and Trader Joe’s flax and chia peanut butter (crunchily addictive!).

Healthy snack idea: apples and peanut butter

Other ideas:

  • DIY trail mix with cereal, nuts and freeze dried fruit (try Trader Joe’s freeze dried mango, strawberries or raspberries)
  • Handful of nuts or pumpkin seeds
  • Rice cakes with nut butter
  • Avocado toast

What are your favorite healthy snacks?

Whole Foods “Beat The Heat” Vegan Cooking Class

Summer calls for fresh, colorful and no-bake dishes! Really, though… why turn on the oven if you don’t have to? From ceviche to fruit salad, I learned a ton of great “beat the heat” vegan recipes in¬†Juan Pablo Chavezs recent cooking class at Whole Foods:

  • Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce and Fresh Mint
  • Peruvian-Style “Ceviche” with Mushroom and Blue Potato — this was my favorite! Who knew you could make ceviche¬†vegan? It tastes amazing with tortilla chips.
  • Balsamic Stone Fruit Salad — this was my other favorite. You’d think you would taste the balsamic, but not at all. Instead it blends seamlessly with the fruit, giving you a delicious, juicy salad that’s just the right amount of sweetness.
  • “Summer Bounty” Mixed Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

Trust me — these are perfect for vegans and non-vegans alike. Read on for the recipes!

Whole Foods Bowery Vegan Cooking Class

Summer Rolls:

Vegan Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce and Fresh Mint

Balsamic Stone Fruit Salad: 

Balsamic Stone Fruit Salad

Summer Bounty Mixed Salad:

Summer Mixed Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

Summer Bounty Mixed Salad:

Summer Mixed Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

Balsamic Stone Fruit Salad:

Balsamic Stone Fruit Salad

Vegan “Ceviche”:

Vegan Ceviche with Mushroom and Blue Potato

Vegan “Ceviche”:

Vegan Ceviche with Mushroom and Blue Potato

Summer Vietnamese Veggie Rolls with Peanut Sauce and Mint (Serves 4)

  • 8 brown rice summer roll wrappers
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 cucumber, julienned
  • 1/4 cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4 spring onions, cut into 3-inch sticks, then julienned into strips lengthwise
  • 8 fresh mint leaves, stems off
  • 1/2 cup crushed peanuts (optional)

For peanut sauce:

  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tsp low sodium tamari
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • Water, as needed

How-to: 

To make the Vietnamese rolls: place wrappers one by one into a bowl with lightly warm water. Moving quickly with your hands, make sure to soak all sides of the roll until they are all soft. Remove from bowl and place on a cutting board. Place a bit of carrot, cucumber, cabbage and onions on the bottom half of the wrapper. Sprinkle with a few crushed peanuts (if using) and place one mint leaf on top. Roll wrapper halfway up, tuck sides and finish rolling it. Place on a plate and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the rolls.

To make the peanut sauce: place all ingredients in a small bowl, add water as needed, one tablespoon at a time, and whisk until well incorporated. Serve in a small container for dipping rolls.

Wild Mushroom Ceviche (Serves 8)

  • 8 ounces maitake mushrooms, cut into pieces
  • 8 ounces oyster mushrooms
  • 4 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, halved
  • 3 limes, juice only
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, seeded, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 Serrano or aji chili, seeded and minced
  • 1 orange, juice only
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano, minced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 lime wedges for garnish

How-to: 

To prepare ceivche: combine the red onion, garlic and mushrooms with 2/3 of the lime juice and marinate for 2 hours. Meanwhile, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, chilis, orange zest, oregano, cilantro, and remaining lime juice in a mixing bowl. Once mushrooms are marinated, toss all ingredients together and portion into 8 servings. Serve with oil free / salt free tortilla chips or plain roasted sweet potatoes.

Balsamic Stone Fruit Salad (Serves 4)

  • 4 peaches, sliced
  • 8 apricots, sliced
  • 4 white peaches, sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

How-to: 

To make the fruit salad: toss the fruit with the balsamic vinegar and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 20 minutes. When ready to eat, sprinkle the fresh basil, toss and serve.

French Style Fines Herbes Vinaigrette (Makes 1 1/3 cups)

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tbsp stone-ground mustard, no salt added
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp capers, rinsed
  • 1 tsp mustard powder (optional)
  • 4 tsp chives, chopped
  • 4 tsp chervil leaves or mint, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp¬†of flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper

How-to: 

To prepare the dressing: place the vinegar, water, garlic, shallot, mustard, lemon juice, mustard powder, capers and pepper in a blender. Cover and whirl to fully blend, about 30 seconds. Place blended mixture in a bowl, add all herbs and toss well with a fork to. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for later use.

This vinaigrette stays good in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days. Alternatively, the vinegar and water blend can be done ahead, kept in the fridge and add the fresh herbs when ready to use for more freshness.

Trader Joe’s Mega Crunchy Salad with a Bite

The Glowing Fridge¬†inspired me to try this TJ’s salad. I noticed it on her Instagram the other week, and ever since have been dying to buy¬†it! I find so many new products this way! Has anyone else tried the mega crunchy salad? It’s definitely one of TJ’s¬†best to-go salads!

Trader Joe's Mega Crunchy Salad with a Bite

Lots of crunchy veggies, quinoa and adzuki beans with an incredible cilantro lime dressing. Only disclaimer: way too many dried cranberries. It didn’t bother me too much, though — I just picked some out. But if you eat all of them, it’s a lot of added sugar!

Overall, though – this is one of their best vegetarian salads, and I highly recommend trying it out sometime! Perfect for a quick on-the-go lunch.

Trader Joe's Mega Crunchy Salad with a Bite

Trader Joe's Mega Crunchy Salad with a Bite

Trader Joe's Mega Crunchy Salad with a Bite

Vegan Chocolate Coconut Granola

Chocolate isn’t exactly synonymous with “healthy.”¬†But hey, that’s never stopped me from experimenting! My latest creation: vegan chocolate coconut granola! This stuff is dangerously addicting! I’ve been super into homemade granola lately. Mostly because it’s just SO darn easy! Plus, I¬†know exactly what and how much of each ingredient¬†I’m using. No sketchiness!

Vegan Chocolate Coconut Granola

Side note: this granola tastes SERIOUSLY amazing refrigerated. You’d probably never think to refrigerate granola, but just trust me on this one. Nothing tastes better than a cool handful of this stuff on a hot summer day! It’s the perfect topping for yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, nice cream… The list goes on! See below for the recipe!

Chocolate is Salad Joke

Vegan Chocolate Coconut Granola

Vegan Chocolate Coconut Granola (Adapted from The Lemon Bowl)

How-to:

  1. Preheat oven to¬†275¬į F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats and sliced almonds. Set aside.
  3. Heat maple syrup, coconut oil, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk until mixture is smooth throughout — 1 or 2 minutes (depending on how melted your coconut oil is already. I used mine during the summer, so it took less to melt since it had been sitting out at room temperature and was already a “gel-like” consistency.)
  4. Remove mixture from stove and pour over oat/almond mixture. Stir ingredients with a rubber spatula until everything is well incorporated.
  5. Spread granola evenly on baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes. Stir mixture halfway through.
  6. Let cool. Then add shredded coconut and cacao nibs.
  7. Store in an airtight container. (Also tastes mighty delicious refrigerated! Especially during the summer… I just eat it straight out of the container!)