Adventures in Rockaway Beach

My friends and I hit up Rockaway Beach last weekend for the ultimate beach adventure! I never realized how many great beaches there are in NYC. Is it just me? Rockaway is definitely one of the gems! Best of all, it’s accessible by subway. (How did I not discover this sooner?!)

Rockaway Beach
As soon as we arrived, we stopped for a snack. Priorities! There’s a boardwalk right near the beach, with tons of different food vendors (Mexican food, American, beer, juice bars, ice cream — you name it!). We picked up some food and drinks, and sat down with our snacks. These Trader Joe’s organic blue corn tortilla chips with sprouted amaranth, quinoa and chia seeds were a big hit! I also ordered a Del’s Shandy — basically the same as a summer shandy. Lemony beer… way better than lemonade!

Rockaway Beach

Eventually, we ventured down to the beach for the remainder of the afternoon. It really wasn’t too crowded! We found a spot and plunked down.

That night, we stayed at the Playland Motel, which is just a short walk from the beach. It was super convenient and close to all of the bars, restaurants and coffee shops we visited as well. (Thinking about it now though, I am curious to try Airbnb next time. It would also be cheaper.)

IMG_0574

On our last morning, we stumbled upon the cutest juice bar/coffee shop called Anna Bow. I was obsessed with the colorful mural out front! How fun!

Anna Bow in Rockaway Beach

I ordered an iced coffee with almond milk (not pictured) and mango chia pudding. This hit the spot! Perfect refreshing breakfast for a hot day. Yum! I’m excited to recreate it at home.

Mango Chia Pudding from Anna Bow Rockaway Beach

After hitting the beach on Sunday, we headed to Rockaway Beach Surf Club for snacks and drinks. I opted for a margarita. (PS — check out all the cool murals in the background!)

Rockaway Beach Surf Club

I also ordered tofu tacos from Tacoway Beach, a pop-up / food stand dealio inside the bar. All I can say is YUM! These were some of the best tacos I’ve ever had, and yes, they had tofu in them. That good. And the guac was extra. Obvi worth it. 😉

Tofu Tacos from Tacoway Beach

The weekend went by SO fast, but I’m really glad we went! I’m already thinking about my next visit to Rockaway.

For anyone else in the NYC area, I highly recommend checking out Rockaway for a weekend, or even the day. Not only is it accessible by subway, but there’s no fee for the beach (like many other beaches, e.g. Long Beach), and all the food options are affordable (and downright delicious!). 😀

Trader Joe’s Punjab Eggplant

Today I’m VERY excited to share with you my latest Trader Joe’s obsession: punjab eggplant! This Indian dish comes pre-cooked and ready-to-go. All you need are a few minutes and a microwave! Best of all, it’s actually shelf-stable — NOT frozen, so you don’t have to worry about using up precious freezer space. According to TJ’s, this meal is a traditional Punjabi recipe with a “barbecue flavor.” The eggplants are grilled and then mixed with various spices. Yum! I can’t even tell you how much FLAVOR is jam-packed into this meal. It is beyond words! Spicy, comforting and almost cinnamon-y. Trader Joe’s recommends serving it with rice, pita, tortillas or as a burrito filling. I like to mix it in with veggies (kale, Brussels sprouts and avocado) and eat with a whole wheat tortilla on the side.

I’ve legitimately purchased this at least a dozen times now!! That should tell you something. 😀 Plus, it’s only $2 a box, so… really, a no-brainer!

Trader Joe's Punjab Eggplant   Trader Joe's Punjab Eggplant

Brunch at Jack’s Wife Freda

After hearing (and seeing on Instagram!) so many good things, I’ve been meaning to eat at Jack’s Wife Freda for a while now. I finally stopped in for Sunday brunch. Although I’m not sure you could call it ‘brunch,’ OR ‘dinner,’ for that matter. My friend and I arrived around 4:30 or 5pm. Because… why not? 😛

I started off with a bloody mary. Ever since I moved to New York, I’ve come to realize that restaurants here have a really hard time mastering the bloody. Wisconsin just GETS it — from the spiciness to the garnishes. So I’m always a bit hesitant to order one at brunch. However the one at Jack’s Wife did NOT disappoint. Just look at those specks of pepper! Yessss!

Jack's Wife Freda Bloody Mary

Since it was such a weird time of day, I wasn’t really that hungry. I settled on the Greek salad. No added chicken, as I’ve been trying to eat vegetarian as of late (will get a post up about that whole story soon). Okay, now I know it’s hard to imagine a salad being amazing, but this one really was. Right down to the rich, fresh feta placed on top. Perfectly light, but still flavorful and filling enough to pass as a small meal. Yum!

I’m already looking forward to coming back soon to check out the dinner menu. Only thing I’ll point out is that they only accept reservations for parties of 6 or more, otherwise it’s walk-ins only.

Jack's Wife Freda Greek Salad

Trader Joe’s Multigrain Blend with Vegetables

I’m a sucker for easy weeknight meals. Anyone else? I always keep a few frozen meals on-hand for lazy nights. Trader Joe’s multigrain blend with vegetables has been my latest go-to! With barley, spelt, corn, rice, peas, carrots and zucchini, it makes for a delicious and hearty side or even light main dish. This week for dinner, I heated up half the package and added some extra Brussels sprouts just for good measure. 😉 In my mind, Brussels sprouts are never a bad decision.

At only a few dollars, this dish is packed with veggies, healthy grains and takes just minutes to make. I call that money well-spent! It’s great for a quick weeknight meal, office lunch or simple side dish. Plus, you can eat it both hot or cold. I think next time I’ll add in some kale for a summer salad combo. Yum!

Trader Joe's Multigrain Blend with Vegetables   Trader Joe's Multigrain Blend with Vegetables

Trader Joe's Multigrain Blend with Vegetables

Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies

It doesn’t get much better than a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie. Remember when you were a kid? Did you ever come home to the smell of a fresh batch wafting through the air? Nothing was more exciting! I don’t think chocolate chip cookies will ever get ‘old.’ But I sure have, and my taste in ingredients has, too (for the better!). That’s where Chocolate Covered Katie’s flourless chocolate chip cookies come in! I found the recipe while browsing her blog, looking for healthy cookie inspiration. It instantly caught my eye. Rather than flour, she uses ground up oats, and instead of butter, oil (I opted for coconut). See below for the full recipe — and some pics of the final product! 😀 I promise you won’t be disappointed. My dad didn’t even realize they were vegan!

Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies   Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies

Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies

Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Chocolate-Covered Katie)
Yield: 6-7 cookies — I recommend doubling this recipe if you want more! They go fast.

  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp white sugar
  • 2 tbsp semisweet chocolate chips (for vegan, use dairy-free)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2 tbsp almond milk (warm it to room temperature, otherwise it may solidify the coconut oil) — she says to start by adding just 1, and then add the 2nd if needed.

How-to:

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Blend together the first 5 ingredients in a food processor until fine.
  3. Mix with other ingredients.
  4. Form into cookie dough balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 6 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!!! 😀

 

Sunday Visit to Smorgasburg

It’s finally Smorgasburg season! 😀 Hello, summer! I stopped by the Dumbo location on Sunday for the first time this year. Have you ever been? For those who haven’t, its essentially a “flea” food market, with tons of local restaurant/bakery/food vendors serving up delicious sweet and savory fare. You’ll find everything from doughnuts to barbecue to ramen burgers. Even vegans have options! The event is held in Williamsburg on Saturdays and in Dumbo on Sundays. Both are great, and offer something a bit different (the views in Dumbo are particularly epic, and the Williamsburg location is nearby lots of other cool spots, such as the Wythe Hotel, Radegast and Mast Brothers).

It was about 80 degrees on Sunday when I went, so I had a SERIOUS ice cream craving! Alchemy Creamery to the rescue! I first discovered them on Instagram, and as soon as I saw their booth, I knew I had to stop by. They offer non-dairy ice cream made of almonds, cashews and hazelnuts. Yes, please! Their aim: “to make incredible desserts for the dairy-free and animal-friendly.” Mission accomplished! I ordered a coconut cone with one scoop of vanilla almond and one scoop of banana peanut butter. Possibly one of the creamiest, most flavorful ice creams I’ve ever tried!

Alchemy Creamery at Smorgasburg

One of the best parts about the Dumbo Smorgasburg is that it’s right next to the Brooklyn Bridge! Perfect excuse to walk across and take in the stunning views of Manhattan. Especially after an afternoon of nonstop noshing! (Warning: watch out for the selfie sticks!). Sometimes it’s nice to be a “tourist” now and again! For anyone considering visiting Smorgasburg, I highly recommend making a whole day of it and discovering all that Dumbo has to offer! You won’t be disappointed.

Smorgasburg in Dumbo Views from Smorgasburg in Dumbo

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge Walking the Brooklyn Bridge Walking the Brooklyn Bridge Walking the Brooklyn Bridge