Ultimate Summer S’more Board

It’s time to step-up your s’more game, and I’ll tell you just how to do it with my ultimate summer s’more board. It’s the charcuterie board of s’mores and it’s only going up from here in the wow, mouth watering, #goals department. Don’t worry the only thing that doesn’t change is that delicious perfectly toasted marshmallow. So whether this is for a girl’s night, date night or low-key hang with the neighbors the way you eat s’mores is forever about to change – and you’re going to wow your guests in the process. Oh, and don’t forget the bubbles!
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Fitness Friday 05.19

It’s time to talk food, that thing we love to hate – especially when it comes to your fitness success and reaching those goals.  Food has always been a struggle for me, understanding the balance of life, the things I love (that aren’t so great for you) and then also understanding my gastro issues that have been recent within the last 2-years. Because let me tell you, I love cake and cookies and cupcakes and I believe in the beauty of balance – especially when it comes to enjoying the finer things in life.
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Within my health and fitness journey, there are a few rules I’ve learned that work for me while being able to have that balance – and when I’ve been very strict with them I see great results – and when I’m a bit more lenient I know exactly what I need to cut to see a change. But one thing is for sure, whether I’m strict or not – I always enjoy those cupcakes.

Little to No Carbs – Fun fact: Carbs are hidden in a lot of different things that appear to be healthy or good for you – this includes a fair amount of fruits and vegetables, like carrots, apples, bananas, and melons (just to name a few).  So really understanding what foods you’re putting in your body and what they contain is half the battle – then you just have to cut them out! Also pasta, just stop eating it.

When in Doubt: Berries – Speaking of knowing what is good for you vs. what is not – when in doubt when it comes to your fruits, berries are the way to go.  These are your besties and easy rule to remember: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries. Yes.

No Dairy – This one isn’t so tough for me, since I’m lactose intolerant I pretty much steer clear, but I am able to enjoy hard cheese – like Extra Sharp Cheddar – so I can get my cheese fix, although I noticed that when I completely cut this out pre-wedding, I felt great and was trimmer. So I think there is some method to the madness of a dairy free diet, whether you have an allergy or not.

Say Bye to Pizza – I will admit, I also indulge in pizza every now and then when we’re home for the night – but again, when we cut out pizza for nearly 4-months pre-wedding the extra weight and temptation went away! We also can’t do cauliflower crust, because my stomach hates me – so it really became all or nothing from a pizza perspective.

Complicated Order – Don’t be afraid to have a complicated order at the restaurant and also just say no to the free sides ahead of time – because as much as you think you won’t eat that side of fries with your burger, let me tell you you’ll probably have at least half if they’re in front of you!  So when it came down to it – I would order a burger with NO bun (yup! cut those carbs) and I would order a side salad in place of the fries (bye, carbs!)

The biggest thing to understand when it comes to food and your health – not everything works for everyone.  Sure, there are a few obvious things that should be avoided, but no one “diet” works for everyone. The second thing to understand that it’s not a diet – it’s a lifestyle, you truly have to be proactive every single day to make smart food choices.

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Travel: Chicago Eats

We squeezed a lot in during our quick trip to Chicago – but there was definitely a lot more on the list of recommendations that we need to get back to try! We pretty much focused on brunch, dinner and dessert of course.

Chicago Style Pizza at Lou Malnati’s – This was B’s pick, since he’d seen the restaurant on Triple D – and it was also conveniently located near our hotel.  The vibe of the restaurant was low-key and because we were seated in the bar area – we had prime seating to watch a few of the March Madness games that were on.  We split a salad and a small classic Chicago deep dish pizza and it was more than enough for the two of us! From Lou’s we ventured over to Sprinkles, a cupcake place each picking out our own treat to enjoy as a night cap – which were absolutely delicious, btw.
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3 Art’s Club Cafe at Restoration Hardware – Through some tricky instagram research I found this spot which ended up also being right near our hotel, this place looked like a dream and with a brand like Restoration Hardware to back it up we knew this would be a top notch spot to enjoy brunch.  Luckily for us, we took advantage of being in town on a week day and beat weekend traffic and waits – and were seated right away next to the focal point fountain and chandelier. The brunch scramble with avocado and texas  toast and side of Canadian bacon did not disappoint, nor did the wedding cake fry cake doughnut or Bellini.  We could’ve stayed here all day… more to come on RH in my next recap!
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The Hampton Social – Another spot found through some tricky instagram research, this place looked trendy and seemed to have a menu to back it up with a decent variety of options to pick from.  Admittedly, B and I were both underwhelmed with not only the restaurant atmosphere/experience but with the food as well.  This would’ve maybe been a better spot for pre-dinner drinks and an appetizer, as everyone pretty much just wanted to get a photo with the ‘Rose all day’ neon sign, including the 12-year olds seated next to us and the food was good enough.
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Brunch, for brunch – This brunch spot had a huge menu to pick from with all your breakfast standards with some fun twists – making it a win-win for everyone.  B had the perfect scramble “Morning Wrecker” that was pretty much made for him, and I went against my better judgement and ordered on the more healthy train with a standard eggs/meat/toast combo instead of the doughnut french toast that I had my eye on.
Brunching Pro-tip: When you’re on vacay, just order the damn french toast – especially if it’s made from doughnuts!
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One reason we love to travel and something we always plan for when we do travel is finding good spots to eat – unfortunately with a short trip there are only so many meals to consume and only so much our stomachs can handle!  So, as I mentioned when we venture back to CHI next time we will definitely be returning to a few of these, while also exploring for some more yummy eats!

What’s your favorite CHI-town eats?
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Travel: Palm Springs Eats

We celebrated our one year anniversary with a little trip back to Palm Springs/Palm Desert California.  What better time to head out west when the temperatures are dipping below 30-degrees and snow flurries are becoming a regular occurrence?  After getting our feet wet a little last year on our honeymoon – we definitely knew of a few spots we wanted to go back too and then a handful of spots yet to explore – and a few we had on our list from watching Desert Flippers on HGTV.

Our Brunch Spot.  From meatloaf with an egg on top, biscuits and gravy, french toast or a tradition eggs with bacon, everything is beyond delicious at Wilma & Frieda’s.  A MUST-HAVE is their biscuits, they fall apart and melt in your mouth, plus are served with a fruit jam that just puts it over the top.

Because It’s Just So Good.  I could’ve had In & Out burgers everyday, the double cheeseburger is the only way to go.  Plus the first bite needs to be documented at all accounts – plus with a side of animal style fries, yum, yum, yum! Whether you’re getting this go to or dining in the experience of an old-school diner topped with a delicious meal is a west-coast must.

The Perfect Drink + Dinner Combo.  One of our favorite nights was spent with family friends who live in the desert year round.  We told them to pick the spots and we would come along for the ride!  We started with drinks at the bar at Lulu Bistro (which we also brunched at) to get the evening started with a fun atmosphere and music.  From there we popped over to Tropicale and had the perfect seats out on their patio, which is a must when you dine in there! We ordered a number of small plates, continued to drink, laugh and just sampled a variety of dishes – the calamari was by far one of the best things we had!

A few other honorable mentions that are must visits throughout the greater Palm Springs and Palm Desert area are AC3 at Hotel Paseo – the service, food and atmosphere was incredible it was a good pick.  Spencers was another brunch spot, but came highly recommended as a favorite dinner spot from our desert dwelling friends – the patio again was magical with trees growing up right up into the sky.

We had a great time eating our way through our trip -one night we even grabbed sushi at a Japanese Steakhouse because we were craving it for our actual anniversary dinner!  It was so good, although we didn’t put the Steakhouse name and idea together until we sat down. Every spot we went had a fun yet welcoming atmosphere with bright colors and warm faces – not to mention most of the patios had heaters too, so it was perfect for morning breakfast or late night dinners!

The sad part and good part is there are so many other, trendy, delicious spots that we haven’t even visited yet! The good news is we’ll also have new places to try while still being able to head back to our favorites.  What’s your favorite desert dining spot?

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Fitness Friday 08.18

It’s time to talk food again.  The love-hate we have with sweet, delicious, carby food.  Last Fitness Friday, I was talking a bit about falling off the rails, being a little less strict with my routine – the boundaries started to get looser and I needed to rain it in.  So within the last month or so, I’ve tightened up on my diet and I can see the difference on a daily basis.  Trust me, there are some days where I ask myself, what more could I possibly change? But when I really test the accountability factor – I quickly figure out what needs to go and what can stay, and it usually comes down to FOOD!
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Here are five tricks I do when I need to crack down, and honestly after a week or two of being strict, these aren’t as much of a battle as it is at first!  The most important thing to keep in mind – is that these aren’t quick ‘do this for a week’ and you’ll loose 20-pounds, these are lifestyle changes that will help you achieve your fitness goals and love yourself even more!

Smart Snacking.  A great work perk that I have is having snacks around, the decision between a mini bag of Doritos or picking up a banana/handful of nuts is the pass or fail. Don’t want to be tempted at all of picking wrong? Stop snacking and drink water!  It’ll be tough at first, but your body will quickly adapt and you won’t be craving a snack at 3pm.

Less Carbs, More Protein. Especially at dinner, this is a time when B and I have been loading up on meat and skipping out on the extras or scary sides.  We also switch out the buns for lettuce wraps, which is just as tasty and looks fancy for a week night meal at home.

Smaller Portions.  With smarter snacking and eating more filling foods, portions in line get a bit smaller, allowing you to get full faster.  Those after dinner cravings for some sweats are often eliminated after a nice filling and healthy dinner.

Limit Alcohol. Alcohol and beverages in general can be a surprise at how much sugars/carbs are actually jammed into them – so be sure to check the labels before drinking, you’ll thank yourself later.  Alcohol choices can also impact negatively or help, for this I stick to the Keto Alcohol rules, no beer and opt for those bubbles! Red wine is also a good choice or pure spirits, but be sure to avoid those sugary mixtures.

Stop Eating Pizza! Yup, I said it – just stop eating pizza! Try it for a month, try it for two… you won’t miss it, I promise.  Pizza is an easy food to over indulge on and is full of carbs, some people have pizza every Friday night… and then there are probably leftovers for the next day… just cut it out – you’ll see a difference.

The true key to living a healthy lifestyle, making gains, and maintaining your goal weight, all boils down to not only exercise but the supporting cast of FOOD – it’s that balance of both that is the perfect formula.

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Miss a Fitness Friday? Catch-up!  May | June | July

Travel: #EmnBtoCbus

We snuck away this weekend to visit some friends in their new city: Columbus, Ohio.  Although it was a quick 24-hour trip for us, we seemed to squeeze in some pretty major places for tasty eats and drinks in addition to being able to catch up with our long lost friends!

We kicked off our festivities with a trip to North Market, which is an indoor market that is open 7-days a week with a variety of food vendors, shops and delicious smells.  Whether your shopping for lunch, grabbing meat for a dinner or fresh produce for an upcoming meal.  We were able to try a decent amount of the vendors like Brezel, Destination Donuts, Firdous Express and Hot Chicken Takeover, everything was delicious.  Oh and did I mention, you could walk around sipping the drink of your choice?  I opted for prosseco, yum!
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From North Market, we ventured to Wolf Ridge Brewing – this space is impressive with an intimate dining space, event room and then a back tap room giving you that local brewpub feel.  We hung out in the taproom, ordered a few tasting flights and discussed the many flavors of the beers.  With a pit stop back to the house to check on Moz, we headed out for a late dinner reservation at Service Bar. From the moment we walked in, the front doors are jaw dropping, I was in awe of the decor and atmosphere.  With gold tables, black leather booths, gold modern chandeliers and a 1920’s art decor wooden backdrop as the bar, this place was a mix of old world and modern.  Their menu’s also accommodated for vegetarians, gluten free and everyone else, the choices were a plenty and it couldn’t seem like you could pick wrong.

For Sunday #brunch we headed to Hoof Hearted Brewery & Kitchen, again we were challenged with having to choose one item on the menu, so we started with the Brunch Ballz and then decided on the Hoofy Breakfast, which was a plate full of delicious carbs, gravy, eggs and bacon. I had to throw the towel in and get a doggy bag, although, almost everywhere we ate we ended up having leftovers!

We had a great trip visiting our friends, catching up and eating delicious things – we are already looking forward to heading back to visit them for another weekend, as it seems like there are plenty of more cool spots to checkout!

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Travel: Asheville Eats (but really drinks)

In case you missed it, we ventured down to Asheville, NC this past Memorial Day weekend and it was full of delicious food and lots of beers (bubbles, too!).  There were a number of breweries downtown that were all walkable and perfect for creating your own mini brewery tour even with your furry friends.   Asheville is also home to some more known breweries like Sierra Nevada and New Belgium, both different but awesome in their own ways!
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Curate: This was our first dinner and true introduction to Asheville, NC and boy was it a fun introduction with lots of tapas!  Curate offered a diverse array of options not only for your food choices, but the way you dine and enjoy your meal.  You could order from cold to hot, but they also had a option where they would bring you options based off your taste preferences.  We enjoyed and casually ordered different dishes, sharing amongst the table – it was a fun and delicious dining experience, be sure to make a reservation ahead of time!
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Over Easy Cafe: This cozy spot is definitely worth the wait, and since it’s fairly central downtown there are plenty of places to keep you occupied while you wait (we waited just over an hour!)  The menu is fairly standard for your normal brunch and caters to those who may be a bit more traditional with their picks or a little more adventurous.  All of our dishes were beyond delicious and the mason jar mimosa was the perfect way to kick off another fun day of vacation!
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Burial Beer Co. Although we didn’t eat here, we grabbed a drink, as this spot was collectively loved by the group for their tasty brews and low-key atmosphere. I especially loved this place, because while ordering the Donut Stout, I said; “Boy, would I love to eat a donut with this.” And the next thing I know, B is coming out with my beer and a donut hole skewered on top! *mindblown* it was SOOOO perfect, plus another pup friendly place!

New Belgium. This was B’s favorite spot we visited, he loved the atmosphere, the buildings, and of course the beers (it was a little bubble of fun!).  We also had an insider hook up and got a private tour of the facilities, from the employee lounge and indoor slide (which B rode, twice!), to the yeast laboratory, employee beer fridge, to B being able to pull some freshly canned beers right off the line.  It was pretty cool and such an impressive facility.  Oh and you guessed it, dog friendly!
14Food + Beer - Asheville - the bee lifeA few other honorable mentions;
Farm Burger. This was a late night dinner for us, that we took back to the house. With pre-made options to choose from, you can also create your own burger, plus the sesame seed topped buns hit the spot.  Not to mention the staff was super friendly and welcoming!
The Montford. With awesome views of the mountains, this is a perfect spot for a drink and snack.  The tater tots were seriously life changing, the whole group collectively was swooning over these!
Sierra Nevada. This place was a fricken compound – and I mean it was massive, ridiculous and just overall impressive.  With an extensive outdoor area, with a full concert venue (inside and out), corn hole (inside and out), and then their beautifully organized garden this place was stunning.  Whether you dine, grab a flight of beers, or just hang out with some friends and listen to music you’ll enjoy the offerings of this establishment!

If you’re planning your trip to Asheville, definitely get your taste buds and uber ready because you won’t be short of breweries to visit, beers to try and food to eat!  Our afternoon of brewery hopping was perfect because we just had a beer or two at each of the places and it was a nice way to enjoy a lot of different places throughout the day!  Have you been to Asheville recently? What was your favorite spot?

3 Dairy Free Desserts

With my diet truly becoming a lifestyle change and avoiding dairy as much as possible, we’ve finally started venturing into dairy free recipes for the sweets!  Although most desserts, even with dairy, don’t always bother me, I realized if I’m truly going to make this a lifestyle change that it should be all inclusive.  I was first inspired when B made me a dairy-free cookie dough ‘cheesecake’ for a date night he planned last month.
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Dairy-Free Cookie Dough ‘Cheesecake’ – This recipe might seem a little intimidating just based off the ingredients list, but I assure you that it was rather straight forward and easy to put together once you have everything! Not to mention, this is completely delicious and I would even recommend just making up the cookie dough part  for a treat. And, if you haven’t used cashews to substitute for cheese, you are missing out, it’s incredible how you can’t tell the difference yet still maintains the consistency.

Low Carb Chocolate Coconut Cake – As i’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to love coconut especially with chocolate! This cake is a twist on an Almond Twist (one of my favorites), and although a smaller ingredients list, this won’t skimp on taste.  It also reminds me of my grandma’s German Chocolate cake that she used to make, and now I can put my own twist on it while still having a bit nostalgia for my grandma.

Pistachio Chocolate Banana Sushi – Um, YUM! We haven’t made this one yet, but it looks so easy with only three ingredients! Plus with the use of dark chocolate and fresh bananas it’s probably one of the healthier decisions you could make to satisfy your sweet tooth!

With bathing suit season upon us, we can still satisfy our sweet tooth without compromising on health/nutrition and sticking to our lifestyle choices!  Share your favorite treats in the comments below!

Weekend Recap – Easter 2018

Happy April! So glad to see a month that really makes you think spring – growing up March was always a bit of snow and a bit of sunshine, to be expected. But our Easter weekend was jammed back, yet so much fun.  With a much over-due trip to my parents, we headed in Friday to take advantage of as much of the weekend as we could!
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With a weekend full of delicious eats, like a NY fish fry, gourmet donuts with fried chicken, hometown pizza, bubbles with a side of friends and family it was all of my favorite things.  We caught up with K+T, Saturday morning and ventured to a hipster hot-spot called Boxcar and indulged on the finer things in life; donuts, coffee and fried chicken, among other things. It was so good and the perfect spot to relax, chat and people watch. We haven’t seen them since the wedding so it was great catching up with them and getting in person hugs!

Easter celebrations with the family consisted of some of the extended family coming over for some yummy pizza, laughs and spirits on Saturday – I always love that we can make time to see more of the family when we come into town, sometimes it goes too long! Church was super early Sunday morning, but worth it being followed up with some bloody mary’s, Mom’s homemade waffles and fully belly’s.

We ended our night with a super fancy Easter dinner… a bottomless bucket of popcorn at the Cavs game – yup we’re crazy, but they pulled out a good win.  It was an exhausting weekend, but so much fun and so great seeing everyone!

How did you spend your Easter?