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.

August 3, 2015

Lagniappe House, Midtown

by jmichael614

If the draw of jazzy music pulls you in, Lagniappe House in Midtown, Miami is the place to be.  Great lighting, relaxed atmosphere, good wine and cheese, all make for a great night out.

Google translates “Lagniappe” as something given as a bonus or extra gift.  This place lives up to it’s meaning.  Not only do they have a great little wine house inside but the backyard is a huge open space with tables enough for large crowds.  If you’re looking for something loud and intimate, stay inside for the music.

Lagniappe is a “serve yourself” house.  There is a wine bar where you can order from a variety of wines and then out back is the cheese course to order for your table.  You can order a large tray or a single serving that includes bread and fig jam. You pick out your cheese from the fridge and then they create your plate behind the counter.  Service is fairly quick even while busy.

But wait, there’s more!! Lagniappe House also doubles as a sort of “bed & breakfast” with New Orleans style bedrooms upstairs to rent for the night.  I can just imagine falling asleep to the jazz music as it floats up from the street.  The prices are actually quite good for midtown as well.

This place does get busy, especially if a popular band is playing so get there early if you want to sit.  We’re discovering more and more amazing hidden places in and around Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and can’t wait to try some more.  Get out and enjoy your city and let us know what special places you have found!

Lagniappe House website or Lagniappe House Facebook for more info on what bands are playing and when they are open.

July 27, 2015

Panther Coffee, Wynwood

by jmichael614

If you haven’t yet been to Wynwood in downtown Miami, you’re becoming one of the few.  It’s host to art shows and an unending stream of tourists coming to take pictures of random art all over the sidewalks and graffiti’d walls.

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I have driven through it and kept making a mental note to go but hadn’t made the time till this past weekend when my sister-in-law suggested we check out “Panther Coffee”.  It’s very hipster and packed full of people on a Saturday morning.  In fact, I waited over 5 minutes for a coffee but it’s worth it for the people-watching.

Their outside tables are quite large and even a middle table that resembles a “family eating” style as everyone is at one very large u-shaped table.  Definitely a must if you are in Wynwood and you have to try the Bunnie Cakes mini cupcakes- super cute and gluten/dairy free!

Prices: Think “Starbucks and a little bit more”.

http://www.panthercoffee.com/  https://www.facebook.com/panther.coffee?fref=ts

July 20, 2015

Arabian Knife Food Truck, South Miami/Sweetwater

by jmichael614

I like the “dive-y” feel of food trucks, it doesn’t matter how clean or presentable they look, it just reminds me of cookouts and family time.  Some people are over the whole trend but I think they are still relevant.  Especially when you stop at the restaurant you looked up online (Spice ‘N Curry Indian Restaurant), wake your toddler up from the back seat and carry him in, only to realize that the restaurant part of the store closes at 4pm.  4pm?  On a Friday?  What restaurant closes that early?

Needless to say, I was starving, I had a cranky toddler in the back and I was an hour and a half into a trip that should have taken 30 minutes in light traffic.

Just passing FIU, going south on 107th, I saw a food truck out of the corner of my eye.  Thank goodness!  It was middle-eastern and my taste buds were screaming.

I can always find vegetarian options at middle eastern/Arabic restaurants because there are so many choices like Tabbouleh or Babaghanoush or hummus, falafel, etc.  I ordered the usual falafel wrap and waited about 10 minutes (there was no line in front of me) so I was little apprehensive about how it would taste.  I also asked for baklava so the cookie would be satisfied till I got him some nuggets because they didn’t have anything for him- the menu is a little short as most food trucks are.

One falafel wrap and two small bakalava’s was about $11. It was worth it though, that pita had tons of little falafel balls, a nice lemony taste, pickles (I love pickles on my falafel wraps) and just the right amount of dressing.  The cookie even had a few bites of the falafel and asked for more – he never tries anything new.

If you live near FIU or find yourself wandering the back streets of west Miami, check them out: Arabian Knife Facebook

July 7, 2015

Quickie Post: Tempeh Balls in Red Sauce

by jmichael614

Just wanted to share a quick picture of the amazing Tempeh Balls in Red Sauce I made last night.  It is a recipe out of the Emily Skye F.I.T. plan and it’s delicious!  So simple and I never even thought of grinding up tempeh and making it into “meat” balls.

Thanks to Emily for helping me to fall in love with healthy eating again!

July 6, 2015

Emily Skye F.I.T. Program Vegan/Vegetarian Version

by jmichael614

I’ve been stalking Emily Skye on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a while now and finally hit the “purchase” button this past week.  She had a 50% off special and it was only $35 for an entire month of food lists (weekly) as well as a menu and a workout plan. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least try it for a month.

I don’t know about you but I need to be constantly on top of my fitness goals or I let go and it becomes a nightmare trying to undo the damage of unhealthy eating.  What I love about this plan is that everything is extremely healthy- I am reminded of how I was eating when I first became a vegetarian; clean, whole eating.

There is a wide variety of breakfast options including pancakes, quinoa cereal, chia pudding- which can be made the night before to save time. Lunches are tempeh stir fries, chickpea cakes; snacks are protein shakes (I use my favorite Garden of Life protein shakes in Chocolate or Marley Coffee) and protein balls or FIT protein muffins.  She uses tons of veggies, nuts, seeds, raw foods.  It’s clean eating- no milks except for the occasional unsweetened yogurt with berries and stevia.

The best part of the plan is that you will never be hungry, there is so much protein and whole foods that it filled me up.  I was actually wondering how I could fit it all in.  Her plan has it all set up so you literally do not have to figure it out on your own.  The recipes are tasty and simple so you won’t be overwhelmed with thousands of ingredients.
And lest you think that you’re spending a whole lot on just yourself, most of the recipes feed more than 1 person so you can either put it in the freezer and eat later, or feed the rest of your family!

I’m not 100% yet, I’m going into this gradually or I won’t stick to it.  My snack today was the pumpkin protein balls which literally have no sugar in them except a little bit of dates.  However, I only had four dates left so I subbed with bananas and it didn’t work out so well.  The dates are what sticks it together, the bananas just made it mushier.  Regardless, three of them make a great snack and I’m stuffed till lunch time.  Note to self- don’t sub!

Her 28 day Phase I plan also comes with a workout routine that I’ll be starting tonight.  You do need at least dumbbells at home if you’re not going to the gym, so be prepared if you decide to check her out.  Even if you don’t check her out today, this Aussie is an incredible role model and worth following on social media.  She’s all about positive energy and building others up.  .

Have you tried any great fitness plans lately?  Have you tried Emily Skye’s plan?  Let us know how you’re doing!!

For more information on Emily Skye, go to: Emily Skye Website or on Facebook.

June 26, 2015

Not Another Overnight Oats Post!

by jmichael614

My new friend, Kara Kerr (at Kara Kerr Fitness Facebook Page) posted an almond joy oats post a week or two ago and I had to try it.  Honestly, the whole overnight oats craze has kind of passed me by because I can’t stand the weird consistency of cold smooshy oats.  But mostly, I’m just addicted to my awful, disgusting for me, can’t let go of, Cuban Toast.

I’m trying to mature, change my fitness habits and eat a little better.  I’m sure you have that thing, that one thing that you can’t give up no matter how hard you try.  Mine is Cuban Toast and Cafe con Leche (don’t even try to talk me out of my coffee).  So, instead of giving it up, I’m replacing it here and there with something a little healthier.  I don’t overeat it so if I make a decision to eat at home, before I get to work, I am able to eat right and stick to the plan.  If I run out of the house in the morning, crazy, without a plan, I eat crap.

What I loved:  The chocolate chips and coconut.

What I hated: The smooshy oatmeal and unsweetened taste

Calories: 310- 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1 cup coconut milk unsweetened, 17 large semi-sweet chips, 1 tbsp sweetened coconut

Next time I have some overnight oats I’ll try a tablespoon of honey, some almond slices and raspberries but my adjustment for this mornings cup would have been to add in a little baked or sauteed banana.  It just needs something a little sweeter because the chocolate chips run out too quick.  I’ll definitely get smaller chips next time too because the jumbo chips run out too fast and I’m left with nothing in the last few bites.  I need to trick my mind into thinking it’s indulgent or I won’t stick to it.

What OO recipes have you tried and loved (or hated?).  I’m going to keep striving for a better one but it’s a start!

June 23, 2015

  Black Bean Burger & Sweet Potato Fries at Smashburger

by jmichael614

Some days you see your friends struggling and unhappy and you just want to fix it for them but it’s impossible because it’s not your life, not your choices, not your battle.

Those are the days only a burger and fries will do.  That’s when Smashburger comes in- their black bean burger and sweet potato fries provide a healthier alternative to the trash offered at most fast-food restaurants.  Not that this is the most healthy and perfect meal, but it beats the greasy hamburger and white potato fries.  Plus, if you’re already feeling defeated, why add guilt to the equation?

There aren’t many fast food places that offer good meat-alternatives.  However, the Huffington Post just announced yesterday that Amy’s, the wonderful frozen food gurus that bring us veggie samosa wraps and cheese enchiladas, will be opening a fast-food joint in, where else, California.

In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the Black Bean Smashburger and stuff down the Burger King Veggie Burger till we have another option.

June 15, 2015

Farmer’s Table, Boca

by jmichael614

To end my girl’s weekend a little early, we headed over to Farmer’s Table in Boca for lunch with the birthday girl.  I can’t explain how amazing this place is so I’ll show you with an overwhelming number of pictures:

I actually found this place online a few months back and have been itching to check it out.  What a great place for Vegans and Vegetarians ALIKE.  Your omnivore friends will also be happy with their cage free and grass fed options (I won’t mention the actual animals here).

Farmer’s Table sources from local farms, they don’t cook in butter and their staff is incredibly friendly.  Just be warned ahead of time if you come in a big group BRING CASH!!!  They only let you split the check 4 ways per table so some people will be left paying more if you’re not careful.

The birthday girl ordered some hummus for the table and it was a very tasty garlicky option for hors devours.  My other friend, who is a vegetarian, decided she wanted breakfast so she opted for the pancakes:

Sadly, I was still a little full from breakfast and couldn’t eat much of my out-of-this-world, vegetarian, Reuben but my husband made sure to polish it off when I brought the other half home.  When I asked the waiter what he recommended, he mentioned the vegetarian/vegan lasagna (to make it vegetarian, just add the mozzarella for $2 extra).  It’s made up of layers and layers of vegetables and he said it was divine.  I was feeling like I needed something a little less veggie-intensive so I opted for the Vegetarian Reuben.  I am so happy I did because I’ve never had a Reuben sandwich and it will forever stay in my brain as the best Reuben I’ve ever had. Full of sauerkraut and mushrooms on whole grain bread it was just the right amount of saucy and meaty (the mushrooms were the perfect combo for the sauerkraut).

Our table was this huge rustic wooden number that would have fit 16 people comfortably.  I am so in love with this place, I can’t say enough good things. What a perfect weekend, don’t you just love that quality time you can spend with your friends?

And…. the birthday girl (who, by the way, writes a honest and touching “mom” blog called “Just Another Day With Kids” http://www.justanotherdaywithkids.com/)

To visit them or learn more, go to: http://www.farmerstableboca.com/

June 15, 2015

Cafe Bleu, Delray Beach

by jmichael614

Girls Weekend 019

Saturday morning, after a blissful 10 hours of sleep on our “girls weekend”, we stepped out for breakfast.  Just a short walk from Sundy House are some great breakfast places including: Cafe Bleu.

This is a breakfast spot you’d expect to be in a place like Aspen, it’s warm and inviting with a hip feel to it.  I can imagine coming in here after a long day on the slopes. We ordered our fare, their sandwiches are customizable so I had the egg with spinach on a croissant with Gruyere cheese.  The taste was divine, the Gruyere was a perfect combo and I now have to buy some to make at home because Feta just doesn’t do it for me anymore.  This place has ruined it for me.  The croissant was just a tiny bit more crispy than I would have liked but I can see how many people would enjoy a few burnt edges.

It was also one of the best latte’s I’ve had in a long time.  Mild and frothy with a pretty little design on top.  I don’t know about you but I love a great presentation and this place did it for me.

To visit Cafe Bleu: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Bleu-Delray-Beach/1491648234417041

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