Shimmying in Charlotte + Recent Eats

On top of my titles as selfie queen, peanut butter lover, and daughter of God, add saxophone enthusiast.

Not because I can play the saxophone by any stretch of the imagination, but because I went to the MOST FUN jazz sax concert in Charlotte, NC this weekend with my dear friend Lauren and her awesome parents.

Going to NC for 24 hours for a saxophone concert is one of the most random things I’ve ever done, but that’s what I love about the whole thing. There’s a saxophonist named Gerald Albright who Lauren and I talk about all the time, even though we only really knew one of his songs (“Slam Dunk” – highly recommend if you want a good time).

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our “Ger bear”

Lauren’s parents had an extra ticket and very generously invited me down to hang out with them and watch the concert. And BOY did we have a blast!

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Gerald was ridiculously amazing, even more so than I was expecting. The other saxophone star above was Kirk Whalum, who solo’d in Whitney Houston’s song, “I Will Always Love You” (casual..maybe you’ve heard it) and played for her for almost ten years. WILD.

There was also some dancing and soul trains involved during the concert, and we were all loving it. Even if Lauren and I were likely the only ones under the age of 35 there. We shimmied our way through the concert (and the whole weekend, honestly).

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The best part of the weekend was just spending time with Lauren and her parents. They are the most beautiful family. They also know to take a couple Boston girls to Chick-Fil-A immediately upon arrival in NC.

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my first Chick-Fil-A sandwich ever

A milestone, you could say. It was perfect.

Lauren’s mom also brewed some delicious iced tea at home that we sipped as we chatted in their living room. I rather enjoy the simple things in life.

Before the concert on Saturday night, we went to dinner at The King’s Kitchen, which I would describe as an upscale Southern restaurant. The food was utterly delicious, AND the proceeds go towards feeding the hungry and towards life skills development programs.

I got the pot roast, which came with three sides and either corn bread or a biscuit. I went with mac and cheese, green beans, collards, and a biscuit (you know I love corn bread, but when the waiter suggests the biscuit, you go for the biscuit – a good move).

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I finished e v e r y t h i n g.

The show was about three hours long, so afterwards, we made one last pit stop at Amelie’s French Bakery for near-midnight dessert. We split a lavender lemon cake, chocolate ganache cake, vanilla eclair, and raspberry lemon tart between the four of us.

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I think the raspberry lemon tart got the best vote all around!

On Sunday morning, I made them avocado egg toast because it is a) a joy for me to cook breakfast for people; b) necessary for every person to try avocado egg toast. I had peanut butter honey toast because they bought natural peanut butter for me *happy crying eyes*.

After breakfast, we headed to Mass and then had a light lunch at Chopt, ” the creative salad company.”

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sweet corn quinoa salad + turmeric ginger iced tea

Ugh, so fresh and delicious.

I already miss Lauren and her parents!! Thank you all so much again for your hospitality, generosity and love ♥︎ It was such a fun weekend.

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Also, I love Charlotte! I will be returning one day 🙂


Lastly, here are some recent eats and scenes that I haven’t shared yet from the past week!

My friends and I have still been using up our Groupon classes at The Ring. I will be so sad when it’s over. I LOVE BOXING.

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I cooked fava beans for the first time ever a couple weeks ago. They remind me of edamame!

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Overnight oats forever and ever. This one was with blackberries – a fine addition!

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My girl Elayne invited me to go to spin class with her at the HandleBar a couple weeks ago (I’m so behind with this recap), and as always with spin, the class kicked my butt! But the instructor was awesome and so fun.

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Two Fridays ago, my friends Justin and Kevin and I went to eat at Pho Countryside as our pre-exam studying treat. It keeps us going.

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It was everything I needed.

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We followed that up with some frozen yogurt at Cafe 472 (with Elayne!).

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Kevin and I shared apple pie flavor with granola, but I am convinced they actually made us pineapple flavor. It was great regardless.

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Some more of my beloved Asian friends invited me to join them for Kimbap on a different day. It’s basically like extra large sushi rolls with lots of yum stuff like bulgogi meat, seasoned veggies, egg, and spam if ya fancy. It was so tasty. I have such generous people in my life, my goodness!!

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Lots of peanut butter Puffins as a night snack these days.

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Overnight oatmeal smoothie bowls are my go-to weekend breakfast this summer.

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I think I followed up that smoothie with these scrambled eggs shortly after. Just cuz I was extra hungry. I forget how delicious simple scrambled eggs with ketchup is!

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I had whole wheat three cheese tortellini with sun-dried tomato pesto for a couple nights. This night I decided to put the leftovers over some greens.

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I’ve still been eating a lot of sandwiches for lunch just about every day!

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So I was at Target one day and needed to buy more bread for my sandwich lifestyle. I usually get the Harvest Wheat loaf for $1.99 at Trader Joe’s, so I tried to find an equivalent at Target.

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This one looked fine enough. When I got home, I decided to look at the ingredients (since the TJ’s one has a short and sweet list and I wanted to compare). I found…

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My first instinct was, “Aw man. I wish I could return this. HFCS is gross.” But then I thought, “Will I die? No. This is food. This is fine. It is bread. I will enjoy this bread and be grateful for it.” Do I want to buy this bread every week? Nah. But my life will not be a spiraling pit of doom if I have this bread for lunch every day for a couple weeks.

*steps off soapbox*

Last Sunday we went to Toscanini’s for ice cream Sunday! This is my favorite ice cream place in Boston. Listen to these flavors: thin mint (amazing) + matcha cookies ‘n’ cream cheesecake (yes, that’s one flavor and yes, it was delicious).

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Many days have looked like this recently! Blessed.

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On Friday night, a bunch of us celebrated our girl Zoe’s 21st birthday! She was abroad this summer and visited Boston to celebrate with us this weekend. WOOHOO!

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We started with apps and margarita’s at Sunset Cantina.

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And then moseyed on over to Landsdowne for some dancing!!

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I needed a midnight snack before bed that night. Smashed banana pb bread with cinnamon did the trick.

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When I don’t eat overnight oats for breakfast, Gina’s cookie dough cereal is another one on repeat.

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And last night I had another variation of pb banana that I hadn’t eaten in so long – Amanda’s oatmeal cookie dough smoothie! With Greek yogurt to dip into it (remember when I did that all. the. time?).

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Hope you all have a marvelous Monday and a kick butt week! Don’t sweat the small stuff.

So tell me:

Are you a fan of jazz music? 

Have you ever been to Charlotte, NC?

Do you like Chick-Fil-A (juuuust talking about the food here)?

The top three things from your weekend!

“It’s Just Food”

This is the phrase that has helped me keep a happy relationship with food in the past month or so.

When we were still in Dublin, Megan and I were talking about the different kinds of gluttony (#CatholicConvos), and what I learned from our conversation was that there are different kinds of gluttony. It’s not just eating too much; it can be eating too little, being unnecessarily picky or elitist with food, or being too preoccupied with food.

(Important: This doesn’t mean that people with eating disorders are gluttonous by choice, but there are similar behaviors involved.)

At the end of our conversation, Megan said something so simple that stuck with me:

It is just food.

Personally, this phrase helps me fight both temptations to overeat and temptations to restrict.

  • If I’m feeling greedy for food, I can tell myself, “It’s just food. It will not bring you lasting joy.”
  • If I’m feeling disappointed that something I ordered at a restaurant was less healthy than I was expecting, I can tell myself, “It’s just food. You are not a bad person because of this food. Enjoy what you’ve been given and be grateful.”

I am nowhere near perfect, of course, but reminding myself that food is just food can be very helpful in the moment.

(Also important: Food is just food, but of course this does not discredit the value of nutrition. Dietetics is a career for a reason!)

Now, let’s see how 2016 has been closing out over here!

Wednesday

I woke up wanting to do some fun moves and grooves that were different from my usual HIIT formats, so I came up with this circuit that I could do outside with the random pieces of equipment we had on hand.

4 rounds:

  • 30 double unders
  • 10 agility skaters each leg
  • 10 bar facing burpees
  • 30 stability ball crunches
  • 20 hamstring ball curls
  • 10 bench jumpovers
  • 10 decline pushups
  • 10 bulgarian split squat to press each leg
  • 3 wall walks
  • 20 double KB squats
  • 15 side plank crunch reaches each leg

This was super fun and tiring! Props to Madre for doing a great job filming 🙂

Afterwards, I showered and ate a small bowl of Greek yogurt, banana, cereal, and pb before we set off for yet another brunch! This one was big, but not as big as Monday’s. I think we would die if we did that again.

We went to Peach Valley Cafe, which is a place Ben and Madre had visited a couple times before. They wanted us to try their famous apple fritters with strawberry yogurt(!?)!

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they shake ’em up table side and then pour them out for the hungry crowd

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Ohhhhh man. These were like those freshly made, hot cider donuts at an apple orchard, except with bigger apple chunks inside and a creamy, sweet tang of strawberry yogurt on top. Unexpected but delicious combo!

For my main course, I ordered the superfood salad with salmon, but they accidentally gave me the summer salad, which I didn’t realize until I had already eaten half of it. It’s just food though.

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It was average. BUT Madre gave me basically a whole one of her blackened cod fish tacos, which were fantastic.

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Pop also shared his amazing buttery biscuit with us.

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Plus a couple of Madre’s sweet potato fries, which were definitely from frozen, but that’s okay.

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Okay, so maybe this was just as big as Monday’s brunch.

We headed to a park after brunch to walk around and admire its intense greenery.

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Next stop was Winter Park, a very posh and trendy city. In true “us” fashion though, we perused the outrageous candy store with seven billion kinds of soda and sweets that are intriguing but also make you gag.

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a disgrace to carrot cake and pb&j

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kid in a candy store 😉

We didn’t get candy, but we did get a burger from BurgerFi, which is not even an independent, trendy restaurant. It’s a chain…and there’s even one in BOSTON. Hahaha.

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Madre gets weak at the knees if anything has wagyu beef in it, so she asked if we could split it four ways… Pop: “I can’t tell if she’s kidding or not.”

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Ben: “It’s probably only 10% wagyu beef”

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it was super tasty, but oil was driiiiipping down my hand

After our burger adventures, we walked around Rollins College, which has a gorgeous campus.

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Pop: “It’s more like a resort than a college campus.”

Our next stop was East End Market, a small hipster market with lots of local produce, artisan foods, and craft beers.

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they even grow their own greens out front!

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I didn’t get anything here, but Madre got some brisket tacos, and Ben and Pop delighted in a beer flight.

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I really wanted to try their blueberry vanilla beer that they were raving about, but I’m not legal in this country yet. The one time I actually DO want to try beer…

We visited the Gaylord Palms Resort afterwards, since Madre loves it there. And finally we ended with a late but proper dinner at a local Latin restaurant. Ben and I shared the grilled chicken plate, which was a great ending to a great day.

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Thursday

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breakfast: overnight oat smoothie with oats, yogurt, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, pb, pinch of salt, frozen banana, and greens + granola

Mall day with Madre! We spent a long time at the Mall at Millennia, Marshall’s, and Costco (probably my favorite place out of the three, honestly). At the mall, we had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen.

At night, we joined the boys to watch Sing (Tori Kelly is in it hehe), which was a fun and very well done animated movie with a lot of talented voices. Definitely recommend!

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from Monday at Universal Studios 🙂

I may or may not have cried when Tori’s character, Meena, sang “Hallelujah”.

Friday

I started the day with a warmup and 16 minute workout before breakfast and a shower.

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the return of Gina’s cookie dough breakfast cereal!

Then Ben, Pop and I were off to Blue Spring State Park to see some manatees! The temperatures were frigid for Florida (read: low 60s with a breeze), which is perfect manatee spotting weather.

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tail spotted

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peep the little big guy’s snout

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these poor sea sausages are endangered 😦

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the spring really does look blue!

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We walked around and observed the gentle giants for an hour or so before I got really hungry and needed a big sandwich. I found Laspada’s on Yelp, so we drove there to get some bomb cheesesteaks.

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because why not have Northeastern cuisine in the South?

Ben got an original philly cheesesteak combo, I got the chicken cheesesteak supreme, and Pop got a grilled chicken salad.

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very hungry girl + eating a hot and fresh chicken cheesesteak = extremely satisfied

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Shoutout to all my Southern friends who are obsessed with authentic sweet tea:

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It really is better than Arizona iced tea.

When we got home, I laid in bed for a solid 20 minutes, on the verge of a nap. But then Pop asked if I wanted to walk to the driving range with him, so I agreed.

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We practiced “chipping”, which is a bit easier than “driving”(?) the ball. I might be getting okay at golf.

We are packing in the fun into the last of 2016 while it lasts! Be back soon with an end-of-the-year post 🙂

So tell me:

Thoughts on the “it’s just food” mantra?

Three things you’ve done to close out 2016!

Virtual Lunch Date

If we were having lunch together…

…I would apologize for missing our usual breakfast date this morning. If I had a battery for myself, I was at -5% last night, so I chose sleep over typing this blog post.

….I would tell you that my body is begging for lots of good food today. My body is probz still repairing from this workout that I did on Friday (even just 6 rounds at 20 and 25# did me under) and the strength workout I did yesterday.

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breakfast this morning

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lunch this afternoon

…I would tell you that my brain is extra needy for energy this week with three exams on deck.

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…I would tell you that Saturday was a fun day— St. Joseph’s feast day, lunch with Rachel and her younger sister (which involved a giant biscuit with sausage gravy), and celebrating my friend Megan’s birthday! Someone brought a lot of Girl Scout cookies to the party, so I helped myself to one three (samoa, thin mint, and tagalong— the “trifecta,” as Rachel calls it).

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…I would tell you that spring has sprung!!!

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^^^That was the joke of Snapchat this morning when Boston woke up to this. Remember when it was spring break 8 days ago and we were all warm and happy?

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But now I’m looking outside and it’s sunny and kind of warm and all the snow is melting. Because why not, Mother Nature?

…I would tell you that Friday’s weather was also bizarre. It was cloudy and ominous yet blue and sunny all at the same time. I must have opened and closed my umbrella five times within one walk.

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to be sunny or not to be sunny: a reflection of my soul

…I would tell you that Snapchat notifies me of occasions that I didn’t even know existed.

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I can get on board, I guess. Happiness is good. Happiness is also facilitated by Sundays and apple crisp a la mode.

…I would tell you that I am SO STOKED that it’s Holy Week! There is honestly nothing keeping me going through this hell week of exams like the knowledge that Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter await. *anticipatory happy dance*

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…I would tell you that it was so lovely getting to take a break from studying and catch up with you for half an hour! But exercise phys calls.

…I would ask you:

How is your spring weather so far?

What are you eating for lunch?

Do you find that you’re learning a lot about national/international occasions via social media?

What’s exciting you this week!?