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)


  1. Preheat oven to 275° 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!)

A Weekend of Healthy Restaurant Eats!

My parents came to visit me a few weeks back. I’m just getting around to recapping it now! Their trip is basically a tradition at this point. Every July they come to NYC. This is now their 5th year. How crazy to think I’ve been here that long?! (But really, one year doesn’t count, because I was just out here interning for the summer.) We spent the weekend eating, hanging out and seeing a Broadway show. But mostly eating. My kind of weekend! 😉  We ate at a handful of restaurants in NYC, and I’ll recap each of our visits below.

Mom and dad weekend collage 8-7-2015

First things first. They stayed at the St. Regis, which is hands down my favorite hotel in New York. It’s one of the most (if not THE most) iconic hotels in the city, steeped in history and the glamour of old New York. Their room was upgraded to a suite, so I crashed one of the nights, and it did not disappoint!

St. Regis New York

Another thing I love about the St. Regis is the King Cole Bar. It’s one of my favorite cocktail bars in the entire city. If you Google it, you’ll see that I’m not alone! When you go to the bar that invented the bloody mary, you know you’re in good hands. (If it’s your first time there, you MUST order one!)

The King Cole Bar
On the first night, we ate dinner at Boulud Sud, Daniel Boulud’s Mediterranean restaurant. All I can say is that if you love hummus, baba ganoush and good seafood, you will leave happy and VERY stuffed. 😀

After we were seated, the waiter came over with champagne and three bowls of assorted dips. Not a bad way to start the meal! Unbeknownst to me, my dad had a connection to someone who worked there. And they seriously hooked us up! The baba ganoush was my fave.

Boulud Sud "Mediterranean Mezze": Spicy Moroccan Hummus, Herb Falafel, Babaganoush Champagne at Boulud Sud
We were all SO stuffed after the dips and bread that they brought out, so I opted for the Greek salad for my entree. It was incredibly fresh and flavorful! The only thing I could’ve done without was the massive amount of feta. I didn’t end up eating it all because there was just way too much on there.

Classic Greek Salad at Boulud Sud Classic Greek Salad at Boulud Sud
Onto the dessert round….! We were planning to just order the mocha cube. But then the waiter brought out two other desserts!
Mocha Cube at Boulud Sud
At this point it felt like Thanksgiving! I knew I was stuffed, but still had barely enough room for dessert, and these did not disappoint! The one on the left (pictured below) was a grapefruit dessert, and the swirly topping tasted like cotton candy! It was a very sweet (although probably unnecessary!) way to end the meal.
Desserts at Boulud Sud Desserts at Boulud Sud

The next morning, we ordered room service for breakfast.

Breakfast in bed at the St. Regis New York
I may or may not have snuck in a few chocolate covered strawberries, too!
Chocolate covered strawberries at the St. Regis New York
Breakfast in bed at the St. Regis New York Breakfast in bed at the St. Regis New York

Later on, my mom and I hit up Rent the Runway in Flatiron. We were looking for a dress for me to wear to my cousin’s wedding. After coming up short, I decided to take my mom to one of my favorite cafes, since we were so close! We stopped at Haven’s Kitchen for two iced teas. She ordered the mint and I got an almond milk matcha latte.

Iced teas at Haven's Kitchen

After walking around a bit more, we stopped at The Little Beet for lunch. I ordered the sushi salad.
Sushi salad at the Little Beet

Then we headed over to Broadway for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. I’d been dying to see this show ever since it first came out! It won a Tony, and now I can see why. It’s hilarious and both of my parents were equally entertained!

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway

Random side note: I was obsessed with the infused waters in the St. Regis lobby! Perfect way to keep hydrated in the NYC heat.

Strawberry and starfruit infused water

And — oh, did I mention the bathroom? Pretty much a dream. Yep, that’s a TV screen embedded into the mirror. This will be in my future dream home!


After napping, we headed downtown for rooftop drinks before dinner. You can’t really tell, but that’s One World Trade in the background on the right!

Now, on to dinner! Chalk Point Kitchen was the highlight of the weekend. Not to say the other restaurants weren’t as good, but this place blew my mind! Everything was outstanding. All fresh, locally sourced and TONS of vegetarian options. Holla! I started with the granny smith apple and heirloom wild rice salad.

Granny smith apple and heirloom wild rice salad from Chalk Point Kitchen

Then my mom and I split the cauliflower steak. This was my favorite dish of all! It was SO incredibly flavorful and perfectly cooked.

Union Square cauliflower steak at Chalk Point Kitchen

Next up: the Korean kimchi tofu hotpot. This caught my eye on the menu right away! And it didn’t disappoint. Super spicy, but not burn-your-mouth spicy. Great entree for vegetarians!

Korean kimchi tofu hotpot from Chalk Point Kitchen

And for dessert….! I don’t exactly remember if this was a brownie or cake, but it was darn delicious and super fudgy!

Dessert at Chalk Point Kitchen

The next morning, we headed to Cafe Clover for brunch. I had been meaning to check this place out for a while, so was excited to finally go. My mom and I split the avocado toast and then I also ordered the heirloom grain bowl. The avocado toast did NOT disappoint! I’ve never had it topped with peas and beets before, but they were the perfect addition. And oh so pretty!

Avocado toast at Cafe Clover

Almost too pretty to eat!

Avocado toast at Cafe Clover

Heirloom grain bowl at Cafe Clover

My mom had the chopped salad. Another winner. Look at that purple cauliflower!

Chopped salad at Cafe Clover Heirloom grain bowl at Cafe Clover IMG_1878

It’s always a whirlwind having my parents here for just a weekend. But I think this time we packed in just the right amount! I’m already looking forward to their next visit. 😀

Trader Joe’s Frozen Grilled Cauliflower

Cauliflower is like a double-edged sword. I lovvvve it as a veggie, but cutting/prepping it can be time-consuming, messy and downright annoying! So I was pretty dang excited to find this new product at TJ’s. Frozen grilled cauliflower! Even better than regular!

Trader Joe's Frozen Grilled Cauliflower

Prepping is as easy as pressing “start” on the microwave. The best part is the slightly roasted/grilled flavor. Not something I’ve come across very much with frozen veggies. SOO good! I highly recommend using this as an easy side for a weeknight meal. You won’t be disappointed. 😀 PS — check the ingredient list: just grilled cauliflower and salt! What’s not to love?!

Trader Joe's Frozen Grilled Cauliflower

Cooking Class at Grace’s Marketplace

If you’re like me, you probably grew up on store-bought tomato sauce. My mom used to buy Paul Newman’s. Don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious in its own way. But after learning how to make my own in a recent class at Grace’s Marketplace, I just don’t think I could ever go back. (At least when I have enough time!) Executive chef Joe Trama led the class, teaching us several different sauce recipes, including:

  • Tri Color Cherry Tomato-Basil Sauce
  • Hollandaise Sauce
  • Warm Bourbon Sauce

(I’ve included all of the recipes at the end of this post!)

Cooking Class at Grace's Marketplace

First up: tomato-basil sauce. This was by far the highlight! I really never knew how easy it was to make. Best of all, as chef Joe explained, it doesn’t really require a recipe. A little of this, a little of that — it just comes down to your personal preference. “Cooking is a passion,” he reminded us. It’s true, and I’ve definitely been guilty of focusing too much on recipes and less on experimenting / cooking to-taste!

This was some of the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had, and the freshness made all the difference. (Side note: we used heirloom tomatoes, which made for a truly beautiful presentation. SO much color!)

Tomato Sauce at Grace's Marketplace Cooking Class Tomato Sauce at Grace's Marketplace Cooking Class

Next up: hollandaise sauce, aka the famous eggs benedict topping. (Which I learned also tastes delicious with asparagus!) This one requires a bit more skill than tomato sauce, and it really comes down to whipping the egg yolks to the right consistency. I was excited to finally learn the technique behind it.

Hollandaise Sauce at Grace's Marketplace Cooking Class

And for the grand finale: warm bourbon sauce! Now, you may know by now that I have an incurable sweet tooth. So (obviously!) this was another class highlight. There’s just something about pairing bourbon with desserts. It makes them less coyingly sweet, but all the more decadent! We drizzled the sauce over a rich, fluffy bread pudding. Ahh, bread pudding — dessert comfort food at its finest.

Bread Pudding at Grace's Marketplace Cooking Class Bread Pudding at Grace's Marketplace Cooking Class

As I mentioned, Grace’s Marketplace hosted the class. Grace’s is a family-owned gourmet grocery store, featuring a variety of specialty products and locally sourced produce. For those interested, they will be hosting several upcoming classes, which I’ve listed below. (For reservations or further questions, email

  • August 6th – “Eat Like a Locavore” (Hands On)
  • August 27th – “Low Salt and Heart Healthy Techniques” (Demo Class)
  • September 17th – “Italian Cooking from the Puglia Region of Italy” (Hands On)
  • October 8th – “Kitchen Basics” (Hands On)

And here are all of the recipes!

Tri Color Cherry Tomato-Basil Sauce by chef Joe Trama (serves 4)

  • 4 cups tri color cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp blended olive oil (we used a blend of olive oil and canola oil, which has a higher smoking point than straight olive oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp red chile flakes (optional)
  • 1 lb preferred pasta


  1. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil.
  2. Add minced garlic and cook until light brown. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper.
  3. Cook tomatoes for approximately 10 minutes while delicately pressing them with a wooden spoon.
  4. Once tomatoes are saucy, add fresh basil.
  5. Remove from heat, toss with 1 lb of your preferred pasta (cooked). Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Hollandaise Sauce by chef Joe Trama (serves 4-6)

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp tobasco sauce
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of clarified butter


  1. Heat clarified butter in the microwave to 160-170 degrees.
  2. Combine all other ingredients in a stainless steel bowl. Whisk until the volume doubles.
  3. Slowly and evenly, add heated butter while continuing to whisk. (Eggs will start to thicken.)
  4. When finished, serve immediately over asaparagus.

Warm Bourbon Sauce by chef Joe Trama (serves 4)

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp bourbon


  1. Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Slowly simmer, whisking until the mixture thickens.
  3. It will coat the spoon when done.
  4. Pour over warm bread pudding.

Half Marathon Training Plan

I officially started training for my second half marathon last week. I’m SO excited and eager to hit the pavement. Let the games begin! Ever since my first marathon last November, I’ve taken a break from long-distance running in order to concentrate on overcoming knee pain. My knee is finally feeling better and I’m ready to get back at it! 😀

Half Marathon graphic 5 6-23-2015

I’m using a very similar training plan to the one that I followed last April. However, I adjusted it slightly based on a few key learnings from last time. I added in dedicated time for foam rolling and yoga — super helpful for recovering tightened / tense muscles.

Will I follow this 100%? Definitely not. Like anyone else, I’m human and things come up in life that will make me miss some of these workouts. But I do plan to stick to this as much as possible. Gotta get race day ready!

Half Marathon Training Plan I’ll be sharing more updates throughout this journey both here on my blog and on Instagram. Stay tuned… 😀 (Week 1 of my training plan = this past week).