January 21, 2016

Why Not “Try The World”

by jmichael614

My mom is a world traveler and, as I was trying to figure out what to get her for Christmas, a little ad popped up on Facebook.  Try The World, buy three for $39 (promo no longer available).  So I bought it!  I was so excited waiting to see what we were going to get because of course, mom always shares.

The three boxes came a few days before Christmas so we opened them early in case anything was perishable (we could have waited honestly, we were just too excited to open the boxes).

She loved it, needless to say.  I was worried that it would be cheap and not worth the $39 but I think we were more than happy with the contents of these Tiffany-blue boxes!

Best Christmas present, they were full and beautifully packaged.  We even put some food out for our Christmas guests who gobbled them up.  These are things that you actually need in the kitchen too- like sea salt and olive oil and Dijon mustard but with different tastes than we’re used to here.

Such a great experience, we will be doing it again!

To get your own Try The World box and enjoy your trip around the world, go to http://www.trytheworld.com or Try The World $15 Off Here
They also have a limited time- free trial offer here: Free Trial Paris Box

December 11, 2015

Holiday Detox Series: Baked Avocado Egg Baskets

by ashleyjmorgan

  Trying to keep your diet in check during the holidays? Want to impress guests with a healthy, delicious and fun vegetarian breakfast alternative? This recipe is ridiculously easy, yet the results will amaze guests who’ve never had avocado egg baskets before.

Avocados are one of nature’s superfoods, full of vitamins and antioxidants it is a perfect detox food. My approach to detoxing is relatively simple, instead of worrying about juicing or expensive supplements, instead fill your detox diet with real foods that are low calorie and nutrient dense. Forgo anything processed or with refined sugars. Of course, the point of the Holiday detox is to work these foods in around your holiday celebrations. Plan your cheat meals wisely, keep the “cheating” to a minimum, but enjoy yourself. You only live once!

Baked Avocado Egg Baskets

Serves 2

One hass avocado

Two eggs

1 tbsp coconut oil

Optional: caramelized onions, chives, basil, fresh pico de gallo, etc. for topping once out of the oven

Preheat oven to 400F.

I like to use a muffin tin to bake the avocados as it keeps them in place better. Use the coconut oil to grease two openings in the muffin tin to prevent any egg white spillage from sticking to your pan.

Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Use a spoon to create a slightly bigger hole in each avocado half to allow an egg to sit in the hole. (I like to eat the extra at this point! You can also reserve for another recipe later in the day, just remember to squeeze some lime or lemon on it to keep it from browning.)

Place the halves onto the muffin tin, skin side down, resting in one of the openings you greased with coconut oil. Carefully crack one egg into each avocado half, trying to avoid spilling the egg white.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the egg white is set but the yolk is still soft.

After removing from the oven, this is where I like to get creative. Work with your own tastes and whatever you have on hand at the time. Top with chopped fresh basil or chives. Add some caramelized onions. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Top with fresh tomatoes, pico de gallo or salsa. There are so many things that pair nicely with this!

***If you are allergic to latex, talk to your doctor before adding avocado to your diet. People with a serious latex allergy may experience symptoms after eating avocado.

 

December 7, 2015

When the Holidays Don’t Feel Like The Holidays

by jmichael614

Two weeks ago, I lost my brother.  The one that, up until three weeks ago, called me on Facebook every night to talk to my son and hang out while he showed him his latest train or car.  My son loved talking to him so much that as soon as he heard my phone ringing, he knew exactly who it was.  “Uncle Chris, Uncle Chris, come on let me show you”.  His little toddler self thought Uncle Chris was the funniest person in the whole world.
Right after our rushed Thanksgiving meal, we had to get on a plane and fly out to Colorado to bury him.  It was sudden, though we knew he wasn’t doing well.  It was heartbreaking.
My point in posting this is to remind you that during the holidays, not everyone is surrounded by people they love.  Some people live alone or feel alone and the holidays are just one more reminder of that.
If you are reading this and feel alone, we’re sending out one giant hug to you.  Talk to us, tell us about your favorite memory, what your favorite holiday dessert is, something you are challenging yourself to do in the new year or how you hate holiday traffic.  Tell us anything!  If you comment, we’ll ask for your address and send out a Christmas Card (do it soon or you’ll get it for New Years instead ;).
To leave this on a positive note, let me brag about our amazing friends:  We had people offering to care for our kids, picking us up from the airport, booking discounted hotels, people sending us plants (if you ever decide to send flowers to someone’s family, plants are such a beautiful gift because it’s a reminder of life).  My best friends were there for me 100%, spending time with me, offering to pick us up at the airport at midnight or spending time with my husband.  I even had one that left her own husband and children for five days so she could help us in Colorado.
My mother had someone driving her from Iraq to Turkey on a 7 hour trip just to make it to the airport after the Iraqi/Kurdistan airport had closed down because of Russian planes in the area.
Please remember to tell your friends and family how much you care for them this holiday season.  Make sure that every single one of them feels loved because life is so fleeting and you never know when that last conversation will happen.  Make sure they know that they are in your thoughts.
And because this is a food blog, we will talk about food too.  Our favorite place was Adam’s Mountain Cafe.  Despite the Yelp reviews, we never had to wait long for our food.  It has this ski-lodge feel with tons of drink options and a very specific menu so you know they take time to develop the foods and make them absolutely perfect.  You can’t go wrong with any of their desserts either.   Good food is good for the soul.
http://www.adamsmountaincafe.com
http://www.heartofjerusalemcafe.com

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December 3, 2015

Holiday Detox Series: Publix Edamame Steam-in-Bag

by ashleyjmorgan

 Like most of the country this past week, I ate waaaayyy too much over Thanksgiving. Too many desserts to count – who can say no to ricotta pumpkin cheesecake? I learned I definitely cannot! And so many savory carbs like bread, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, rice and gandules, russian potato salad….ehhh. Needless to say, it’s only the beginning of December and already the holiday pounds are starting to creep up on me. I don’t want it to get out of hand so I’ve decided to start my “new year’s resolution” early – instead of January, why don’t we start in December IN BETWEEN all of the horrible eating that accompanies this time of year? This will be a mini-series of posts as I go along my holiday season natural detox diet. There will be cheat days, of course, on the days that I have a party or family gathering, but I will limit them and also keep portions in check. Everything in moderation!

This time of year is also one of the busiest, meaning that I don’t have a lot of prep time for my healthy meals. I’m looking for quick, cheap and healthy meals and snacks. So far I raided my local Publix who had a sale on their steam-in-bag vegetables. I love edamame, but had actually never made it at home. Typically in restaurants it comes covered in salt or sauces, which are not part of my holiday detox plan, so the Publix brand edamame is a perfect snack or side dish being that the ingredients listed are just: edamame!

Since I’m a glutton, I need these nutrient dense, low calorie options so I can eat large quantities. I ate the ENTIRE BAG as part of my dinner yesterday and it came out to only 275 calories, 8.8 grams of fat, 27.5 carbs and it gave me a whole 12.5 grams of protein. A great way to add bulk to your diet without packing on the calories. It’s super easy to make: pop in the microwave for 5-6 minutes, let sit for a minute or so to cool and then eat. For the holiday detox, make sure not to add any salt or sauce. The more you eat veggies on their own, the more your taste buds will become accustomed to not needing as much salt. Also make sure to drink as much water as you can throughout the day. I try to drink about 16 oz an hour, sipping constantly. Your body will adjust to the increase in your water intake after a few days, but the first couple of days you will go to the bathroom a lot more often. This is great for your whole body, giving your skin a great glow and also cleaning out your organs.

You don’t need to do an expensive juice cleanse or detox pills to really clean up your body and your nutrition. Focus on lots of water, cutting back on refined sugar and sodium, as well as eating lots of whole foods. If you’re struggling with flavor, try adding fresh garlic or herbs to your food. Make sure you don’t use any mixed seasonings that have sodium. You’ll want to limit your sodium intake on your “clean” days as much as possible!

November 16, 2015

Quick Weeknight Dinner: Spinach Tagliatelle with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Peppers

by ashleyjmorgan
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Photo by: Paolo Margari

Before we start cooking, let’s first imagine we are gliding down a canal in Bologna, Italy in spring with beautiful flowers gracing the balconies and friendly Italians waving as we pass. Somewhere off in the distance a man with a deep baritone voice is singing as he kneads dough to make delicious spinach tagliatelle pasta. We stop at a market to pick up the freshest, most vibrant cherry tomatoes, fire roasted red peppers, some robust balsamic vinegar and a basil pesto sauce made fresh that morning by the world’s most adorable grandmother. Of course we can dream up the best ingredients possible, but we all know that I’m stuck in a city apartment the size of a closet and cooking with the best I can find in my local market. I was able to find some amazing fresh spinach tagliatelle, you can substitute dried if you don’t have this luxury. And I purchased a jar of great basil pesto as well as a jar of fire roasted red peppers, both of which should be easy enough to find in most supermarkets. I already had a great Modena balsamic vinegar at home and some cherry tomatoes that needed to be used – and voila, the quickest gourmet weeknight dinner ever.

If you have 15 minutes, you have enough time to put this on your table tonight. The below recipe yields enough for a quick dinner for one or two, but can easily be adapted into dinner for a family of any size.

Spinach Tagliatelle with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Peppers

Serves two

Ingredients

  • 4 oz spinach tagliatelle pasta (fresh, if available)
  • 2 tbsp basil pesto (typically found in your grocer’s sauce aisle)
  • 1 whole fire roasted red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 pint grape/cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1tbsp balsamic vinegar

Boil water in a medium sized pot and cook the spinach tagliatelle until al dente, time will vary depending on whether you purchase fresh or dried pasta. In a separate pan on medium-high heat, sauté the halved cherry tomatoes, the minced garlic, and roasted red pepper strips until heated through and slightly browning. Add the basil pesto and the balsamic vinegar to the pan and turn off the heat, stirring constantly until heated through and well incorporated. Serve the sauce over the cooked pasta.

  

 

November 9, 2015

It’s Hello Fresh For Dinner…. Again

by jmichael614

I’m a sucker for a good deal and every single time that Hello Fresh sends me their little coupons for 50% off, I jump on it (even full price, these meals are worth it!).  I received the package of 3 vegetarian meals on Thursday afternoon and have made the Tuscan Ribollita and Curried Thai Rice Bowl, both delicious!  These boxes make me feel like a fabulous chef and even though my husband doesn’t relish the taste of Thai food (in fact he refuses to eat Thai), he asked me to pack what was left for lunch.  Too late! I packed it for myself.

The Tuscan Ribollita was a suprise to me.  I thought I was going to hate it because it seemed there were too many veggies and not even spices but it was absolute perfection when paired with the ciabatta bread croutons.  The perfect combination of savory and fresh.  I honestly wish I could have these boxes delivered to me every week because it makes things so much simpler and I always have leftovers in our three person household.

As a reminder, you can check them out here:

http://www.hellofresh.com/raf-helloshare/?c=JHCQ2F (this code will give you $40 off your first box so eat up!)

October 13, 2015

Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar

by jmichael614

Can I just say that I’m in love with my husband’s camera!  This (veggie) burger shot makes me hungry.

Sunday night we checked out Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar for a late dinner.  My husband’s coworker told him he absolutely HAD to try one of their burgers and of course the Cookie and I were hauled along for the ride.  My nasal congestion and this horrible sinus infection makes it difficult to be hungry for anything, I can’t smell anything and when you can’t smell, nothing tastes right!

Thank goodness it looked this good because I had no appetite and still finished over half the burger.  This veggie monster is made from scratch in-house! Can you believe that?  They don’t just throw a frozen patty on the grill, they actually take the time to craft a really well-made, flavor-packed, patty. The atmosphere is also very wine-bar-ish in the middle of Sawgrass Mall in Sunrise, FL.  I can definitely see coming here with some girlfriends or guy friends and having a nice glass of red while chatting for a few hours.

Check them out at www.zinburgereast.com or on Facebook.

October 8, 2015

QBar Burgers & Blues

by jmichael614

This has been one of those months.  We moved, we had issues with schools and work and car problems, etc.  All together it meant that I haven’t been very adventurous with foods lately.  Ever feel like you’re in this food rut?  Like you don’t want to try anything new because it’s too hard to make decisions?  That’s where I’m at.

Even though I’m not being super adventurous food-wise, I’m at least trying some new places on the “other” side of town.  Today, while meeting with a group of other moms, I was able to check out this amazing little shopping center called “Union Planters”.  They have a Whole Foods and a yoga studio and some other cute little stores that are perfect for an afternoon out with the girls or guys.

They also have a burger place called QBar, it has this open atmosphere, you can sit outside or in.  They also have live music at night which sounds like a great chill evening to me.  Their portobello burger was a little different than I was expecting, it’s fresher and more sauteed veggies than portobello so it was a nice surprise to have something a little different.  They also have the option of switching out regular fries for sweet potato.  You know what they need to make?  Truffle sweet potato fries…. let that sink in for a second.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?  Great, now I want truffle fries.

So… if you’re on the east side of Fort Lauderdale near Wilton Manors, check out QBar and all the cute little stores in between.

Oh and give someone a high five if you see one of these floating around.  Do it, seriously, don’t ask questions, just do it.  Plus it’s fun to have random strangers give you high fives.

October 6, 2015

Wooden House, Dohuk, Kurdistan

by jmichael614

Mama Veg travels the world and brings you delicious foods from the far corners you’ve only heard about on TV.  This week, Mama Veg tried out The Wooden house in Dohuk, Kurdistan.  Here is what she found:

Fatoush and tabouleh at the Wooden House in Duhok (Dohuk) , Kurdistan, Iraq. As far as Fatoush goes, this is just about the best I have ever had! Extremely fresh, everything was crispy, and had a nice presentation. I wish I had taken better pictures because this was such a great experience.  We received excellent service, the waiters and staff were courteous and attentive.  As this is middle eastern food, there are some vegetarian choices for dinner but the majority of options are actually side dishes that can be made into a meal if you fancy that.

If you ever find yourself in Kurdistan, perhaps working with refugees or visiting the still-bustling city, go to Facebook.com/wooden.house.duhok and look them up!

August 25, 2015

Little Goat Diner, Chicago

by jmichael614

It’s amazing how quickly your plans change when you have a short time to do everything.  We had planned to eat out all over Chicago last week.  That didn’t happen when we got delayed at the airport with missing car seat (we ended up finding it an hour and a half later) and then missing car reservation (it was there but sniff sniff, they didn’t let us go Gold because it was under my husband’s name and not mine).

Finally, we arrived and were so hungry we ended up finding the nearest chain restaurant and shoveling down acres of crap just to put a damper on all the stress we had created for ourselves.  Thankfully, that was the end of the stress and the rest of our short trip went swimmingly.

We spent an entire day in Chicago, if you’ve never been, park outside of the city and take the train in so you don’t pay hundreds of dollars in parking (we found out the hard way).  Do the Willis Tower first thing- before 9:30- or you’ll sit in nightmarish lines.  Thankfully we got this little tidbit before we went and it was a straight shot up to the top.  Don’t bother to do the fastrack line at that time, it’s completely unnecessary during the week before 9:30.

We also went to look at the art and pretty landscaping at the Fourth Presbyterian Church and walked all the way from the water to the “Bean” or Millenium Park.

On our way out of the city we were dying to go to Girl and The Goat because everyone raved about it.  It’s not a vegetarian restaurant but they have some great options.  We were bummed to learn they don’t open till 5- wa-wa (insert sad face).
However, they have an adorable little sister restaurant across the street that is a wonderful diner serving FAT ELVIS WAFFLES.  These are the best waffles I’ve eaten.  They were crisp but not hard and the peanut butter/butter blob on top was the most delectable little thing.  The only thing you need to keep in mind is that the maple syrup that comes with it has bacon in it so please be sure to ask for the non-bacon syrup.

We are so in love with Chicago, from the sweet Bonita, at the Brown Street line that showed my son around the station to the pizza to the Bean and the water flowing through the middle of the city.

I never had a desire to see Chicago before but I’m so glad that I can now say I’ve been able to experience it.  We will definitely be back.

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