Fall Flavors: Sweet Treats (all-natural, non-dairy, low-carb, paleo and keto friendly)

As most of you babes know, I LOVE FALL! It is my favorite season because I love the colors, the weather cooling down, the flavors, Halloween…I could go on and on. I am proud to be basic and I am proud to have fallen in love with fall. There will be a ton of delicious recipes for my favorite season, and I already started with some Apple Fritters. However, my fall baking has not ended there. In fact since that post, I have created 3 new recipes that fit my dietary needs, give me the flavors I crave, and are made with all-natural ingredients. I was going to do individual posts, but I thought why not treat you all to 3-in-1!

So, I am going to organize this to the best of my ability. I will of course give my inspiration for creation for each recipe, but I am hoping to make this not too long of a read. I know I have been making some really long blog posts lately (which have felt AMAZING to post) but I know recipes are sometimes left short and…sweet (;

Just so you babes know, these recipes do not require anything too fancy. In fact, I got most of my ingredients at Trader Joe’s. I try to make my recipes lower in cost so you all can enjoy without breaking the bank. I know there are a lot of healthier recipes out there that require ingredients that are $20 each and for me, I cannot justify that! I want to be healthy, enjoy my treats, and still be able to make my student loan payment. Also, I do not know if these recipes are possible to make with regular flour, sugar, or butter because that is not how I choose to bake. I have restrictions in my diet and my blog sort of revolves around those. You are always welcome to try them out with any different ingredients and let me know how it goes! I love hearing about your experiences in the kitchen, and I always cry when I get sent pictures of you babes making my recipes (because it makes me feel like I helped some taste buds!) So, let’s get baking!

Paleo Pumpkin Spice Bread (gluten-free, dairy-free, and low-carb)

IMG_3008_Facetune_25-09-2018-16-28-22Pumpkin bread is one of my favorite fall treats. I used to always grab a piece with a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks before class in my college days. But, it’s definitely a lot more diet and budget friendly to make my own. I wanted to replicate the classic pumpkin flavor, while also making sure to include the spices that match pumpkin so well. With cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger…this bread not only tastes delicious but makes your house smell like fall without lighting a candle! It is a lot denser than typical bread, simply because of the flour used, but it is every bit as delicious and can easily be made as muffins!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-natural honey
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • Sunflower seeds as optional topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F and line a bread loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut flour, almond flour, spices, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and add the honey, vanilla, and coconut oil. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the pumpkin puree to the wet mixture and combine until smooth.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and combine until you have a smooth batter. Be sure that there are no lumps!
  6. Pour your batter into the lined bread loaf pan, and sprinkle sunflower seeds on top.
  7. Gently place in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

“The Laura” Chai Latte Spiced Cookies (gluten-free, paleo, keto, dairy-free, vegan, and low-carb)

IMG_2619_Facetune_11-09-2018-18-49-10Okay, so this one goes out to the wonderful woman I spent all of last fall living in the mountains with…Laura Young! She and I had both changed our entire lives to take on jobs that ended up being absolutely insane. We lived in cabins with no running water or bathrooms, barely any electricity, and the closest town was about 6 miles away and as small as could be. Neither of us lasted long (she lasted longer than I did, of course) because the working conditions were just awful. However, we did experience a lot of fun fall things together, including the strangest haunted house ever and pumpkin searching in the grocery store parking lot. But one of the best memories were the times one of us would make a Starbucks run, because the closest one was about 40 minutes away, we would always bring back a drink for the other. Laura’s favorite fall order is a Venti Pumpkin Chai Latte with Soy. So, in honor of me missing my soul sister (who is now starting a new adventure in D.C.) I decided to make her favorite drink in the form of an Emilee friendly cookie. Laura, if you are reading this, I love you and you better make this. And if you aren’t Laura, then you should also make it and know that these cookies (I made 16) were gone within 2 days at my house! So delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup all-natural honey
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 °F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place all of the ingredients (yes, all of them!) in a bowl and combine with an electric mixer.
  3. When all ingredients are combined and a dough is formed, roll into a ball and store in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
  4. Once cooled, you can either form 2 inch balls and then flatten them, or you can roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to create shapes. I used the first method, but also tested the second, too!
  5. Place cookies on lined baking sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the cookies turn golden brown. I’ve found my oven to bake a bit differently than others.
  6. Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool.
  7. Enjoy with homemade cashew milk, or your favorite fall drink!

Pumpkin Butter Thumbprint Cookies using Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter (paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and low carb)

IMG_3010_Facetune_25-09-2018-16-38-09Another one of my favorite treats for fall is Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter. It’s absolutely delicious and made out of some pretty clean ingredients. I love the depth of flavors, and that its less than $3 a jar. I’ve always loved thumbprint cookies, whether it is filled with jam or chocolate, but I haven’t tried making them since becoming gluten-free. Luckily, the cookie portion of this is very versatile and is what I consider to be a healthier shortbread. It’s soft and buttery but without actual butter! Plus the flavors in the cookies mix perfectly with the pumpkin butter on top! This is a simple recipe, and another crowd pleaser in my household. Just be sure to store any leftovers in the fridge in an air tight container so they stay edible (pumpkin butter does need to be refrigerated!)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut four
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup all-natural honey
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 jar of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the pumpkin butter. Combine until you have a dough-like consistency and roll into a ball. Place dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 °F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Using a tablespoon of dough per cookie, form into small balls. I was able to make about 15. Then, make an imprint in the center of each cookie with your thumb (get it, thumbprint cookies.)
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 1 minute. Then, repress your thumbprint down into the cookies and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. Using a spoon, fill each thumbprint with pumpkin butter.
  6. Let cool in the fridge for about 10 minutes to set!
  7. Enjoy!
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Homemade Cashew Milk (no straining needed!)

IMG_2608_Facetune_11-09-2018-18-42-54I haven’t always been the biggest fan of nut milks. It was a huge adjustment to try to get used to almond and coconut milk. But, I knew limiting how much dairy I consumed (especially milk) would be best for my body, so I have trained myself really well to enjoy it! My favorite milk by far is cashew milk, but it is so much more expensive to buy a decent brand.

What do I mean by a “decent brand”? Well, I mean something with simple, and very few, ingredients that actually benefit our bodies instead of tear them apart. Did you know some brands of nut milk have added preservatives and chemicals so they do not expire as quickly? This makes me feel super uncomfortable because I am trying to find ways to better my health, and if I am giving up animal milk, I shouldn’t be swapping it for something with added chemicals! It is the same thing with nut butters. Read the labels between Jiffy and Sprout’s (which cost the same), and you’ll see that there more than just peanuts in the Jiffy peanut butter.

For awhile now, I’ve been considering making my own nut milk. However, I am uncomfortable with the amount of waste that can come from straining and being left with nut “pulp” (ew?) I know there are ways to reuse the leftovers, but this all seems like a lot of work for the average person. Plus, I know not everyone wants to invest in a cheese cloth or special nut milk bag. So, in true Emilee fashion, I decided to experiment in the kitchen and figure out a way to make some simple cashew milk without having too many complicated steps. And that is just what I did.

I was able to make my cashew milk creamy and dreamy all while controlling what ingredients were added. There are so many varieties of ways to make delicious cashew milk with all natural flavors and I want to make sure that you know just how easy this was. I used mine in my smoothies daily, to dunk in cookies (that recipe is coming soon!), and in a delicious homemade latte. The possibilities with your cashew milk are endless, and it is so easy to make!

IMG_2595One step that I do want to clarify is when I say to “soak your cashews”. This is really important because when nuts/seeds are broken down (such as in a blender or food processor), they release natural chemicals that can be harmful to digestion. The soaking process eliminates this release while also making the nuts/seeds creamier when broken down! It is a MUST if you plan to make milk without straining! I recommend 6-8 hours of soaking because it comes out smoother and with less of a grainy texture. Slow and steady wins the race!

Homemade Cashew Milk Recipe

This makes about 5-6 cups, but you can adjust the recipe to make more or less!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of cashews *note: they must be RAW cashews!
  • 3 cups of filtered water (plus some for soaking!)
  • optional ingredients: local all-natural honey, organic all-natural maple syrup, vanilla extract, unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, lavender extract, sea salt, or anything else that you want to add to your milk!

Directions

  1. Measure your cashews and place in a bowl. Put enough filtered water in the bowl to cover all the cashews. Place the bowl in a cool, safe place with a light towel over it. Let your cashews soak for 6-8 hours. Remember, this is an important step!
  2. Drain the water from the bowl and rinse your cashews. Place them in your blender with about 1 cup of water to start. Blend for at least 2-3 minutes. This will be very thick and creamy. This step will help decrease how grainy it is.
  3. Then, add another cup of water and repeat the steps until it is at the desired consistency. If your cashew milk is still grainy, keep blending!
  4. Add your choice of flavors/sweeteners. For chocolate cashew milk, try adding 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. For lavender honey, add 1/4 cup of honey, 4 drops of lavender extract, and 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract. For a fall flavor, add 3 tablespoons of cinnamon and 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Or for my favorite (and what I made above) add 1/4 cup honey, 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract, and 2 pinches of sea salt. 
  5. Blend your ingredients together and store in an air tight container in the fridge. Jars work best!
  6. Let it cool and enjoy for up to a week! It makes a great coffee creamer!

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Side Effects of Self-Love: A New Blog Series

IMG_1930It’s no secret that this year, and to be honest the past 23 years, I have tried my best to practice self-love. It isn’t always easy, but when you do get to that point of freedom, it is a beautiful place to be. I am proud to say that I am fully in love with myself, even on days where I don’t think I am. How did I get to this point? What is the magical key ingredient that has allowed me to be able to state what I did as a fact? How was I able to do this when so many people told me that I shouldn’t?

As I am sure you already guessed, there is no magical key ingredient. Just a lot of time spent with myself, even more time spent reflecting, and of course, learning to accept the things that I cannot change. I have taken the time to be selfish. And I say this without fear of admitting to you that it is me being selfish. As someone who used to go out of her way and make herself be selfless, saying the word “selfish” doesn’t roll easily off the tongue. But I mean this in the way that I focused on needs and what made me feel like the best version of me. I did this because my relationship with myself should always come first. Your relationship with yourself should always come first.

IMG_1936I want to be a therapist. That’s not a secret to those who follow my blog or my Instagram either. It is one of the biggest goals I have for myself. Through plenty of research on how to become a better therapist, I found that the number one way was always the same. You have to not only practice what you preach, but go into this career with your pitcher full. What I mean by this is that you cannot expect to help others if you cannot help yourself first. My pitcher of self-love, acceptance, wellness, and health has to be full before I pour what I have into others. Because no matter what anyone says, you cannot fill glasses with an empty pitcher. So, I quickly realized that I would need to do what it takes to fall in love with myself. And I did.

I cannot explain to you specifically how to do it, because there is no cookie-cutter way. Everyone will have different wants, needs, desires, and situations. But what I can do is tell you what has happened in my life and what I did to fulfill myself. So, I decided to make a new series for my blog about the side effects I’ve had since I began loving myself.

Paleo Gluten-Free Apple Fritter Bites

Fall is my favorite season, and I am so glad that it is finally here. From the color changing leaves to the seasonal holidays, I love all things fall! As a recipe creator it is even easier to create yummy foods when you love all the different flavors. From apple cinnamon to pumpkin nutmeg to rosemary and thyme; this is where my taste buds want to live!

To begin my wonderful fall recipe series, I wanted to take advantage of the delicious apples a family friend brought over, fresh from her tree! They are Macintosh, so they are a perfect balance of sweet and crisp. I couldn’t wait to use cinnamon as a pairing flavor to the perfect apples, but I knew I wanted to be a little bit more creative than an easy apple muffin.

I woke up this morning craving donuts with my coffee. When I would get donuts in the past, I would always get a glazed old-fashioned and an apple fritter. I love the sweet and fruity surprises that apple fritters brought, and that’s when it hit me. I should make an Emilee friendly apple fritter. Aka Paleo, gluten-free, no refined sugar, (and mainly dairy-free)…Thus my creation!

I didn’t want these to be overly sweet or overly heavy. Instead, I wanted an apple fritter that I could use as my morning carb so I would be less tempted to make a breakfast quesadilla (I got addicted and my body deserves better lol). So, I chose to make apple fritter donut holes so I could eat 2 or 3 and be satisfied while also having a properly portioned amount. I also didn’t want to have to try to figure out yeast or anything like that because I am not ready for that kind of commitment. But these little babes turned out amazing! I had no idea that on the first try I would get something so perfectly yummy and my craving satisfied. Not to mention, I now got to have donut holes with breakfast for the next 4 days without ruining my dietary needs. It’s overall a win win.

Paleo Gluten-Free Apple Fritter Bites

I was able to make about 16 2-inch Apple Fritter Bites from this recipe. I probably should have doubled it because my family ate a fair amount as well! And mind you, my family usually questions what I make (but then they try it and are in love!)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of finely chopped apples (Granny Smith or Macintosh work best!)
  • 1 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-natural honey
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon liquid coconut oil mixed with 1 tablespoon cinnamon (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Then, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder.
  3. Next, add the eggs, vanilla extract, honey, and almond milk. Be sure to mix this well so all the ingredients are fully combined.
  4. Carefully fold your apples into the mix and try to get them evenly dispersed in the batter.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, take about 2 tablespoons of batter and roll it into a ball. Place the balls on the lined baking sheet about an inch apart from each other (they should not expand!)
  6. This step is optional, but helps bring moisture into the donuts. Melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and mix in cinnamon. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat each donut with the coconut cinnamon mix.
  7. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes to cool down. Another optional tip: drizzle a tablespoon of honey across the top.
  9. Enjoy while wrapped in a cozy knit blanket, smelling a fall scented candle, and while sipping a pumpkin spice latte (;

Red, White, and Blue Low-Sugar Desserts That Won’t Destroy Your Diet!

I am a huge fan of 4th of July. The sparklers, fireworks, bbq Foods, beach, sun, swimming, and desserts; all wonderful things that come even better with good company. I’ve always been a fan of spending the whole day and night celebrating and having a good time. This year however, I don’t want all the crazy added sugar. So, I decided to recreate some of my favorites with less sugar, better-for-you ingredients, and of course gluten-free ingredients. These desserts might not please every diet, so just keep that in mind! They can also be made to fit the need of other holidays by using different colors and themes! Personalization is a choice.

White Chocolate Covered Fruit

I love chocolate covered fruit. It is seriously one of my all time favorite things to eat and I don’t think that will ever change. I like the fact that something natural and nutritious can easily be made into a dessert. So, how did I transform this into a better-for-you dessert? I used all-natural white chocolate from the brand SunSpire Fair Trade. This allowed me to be in control of what ingredients I added to the fruit. If I am being 100% honest, the sprinkles are NOT anything special. They are regular ol’ sprinkles, and that’s okay! I decided to make white chocolate covered strawberries, bananas, and blueberries. My family approved and I cannot wait to take them with me for 4th of July festivities.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of SunSpire Fair Trade All-Natural White Chocolate Chips
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • Red and blue sprinkles
  • Any fruit you wish to cover in chocolate

Directions

  1. Wash and dry your fruit. Make sure it is completely dry so you don’t get any water in the chocolate.
  2. Cut your bananas into thirds and store all the fruit in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes. This is so the chocolate has an easier time hardening because the fruit is cold.
  3. In a microwaveable bowl, add 1/2 your chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon of coconut oil. Microwave for about 30 seconds, and mix ingredients together.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. As you dip your fruit in the chocolate, line up on the baking sheet carefully. I suggest not doing too much at one time to avoid the chocolate hardening before you can put the sprinkles on.
  5. There are different ways to add sprinkles and I think you should be as creative as you want!
  6. Let chill in the freezer for at least 1 hour before serving. So yummy!

Simple GF Blueberry Loaf Cake

Again, all about honesty here, this did not turn out the way I had planned. However, it came out so delicious that I couldn’t help but share the success with you all. The original plan was to use blue berries and beets to create a swirl in the bread, but I just didn’t use enough! I could have easily used food coloring, but I wanted to make this cake as all natural as possible…and the blueberries added a little color without too much blueberry flavor which was the goal. My family has already finished the half I set aside for them!! So, how did I make a cake healthier but still moist and delicious? I used 100% pure maple syrup and a little bit of stevia. I also used gluten-free flour and coconut oil in place of butter. These simple switches can help make eating cake a little less of a guilty pleasure.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup All-natural maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons stevia
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 °F. Then, line a loaf mold with parchment paper.
  2. With a hand mixer, combine your dry ingredients. Then slowly add your wet ingredients. Very simple and easy.
  3. Set aside 1/4 cup of batter. Pour the rest in your loaf mold.
  4. On medium high heat, break down the blueberries with 1 tablespoon water. Drain 4 tablespoons of the liquid into a cup and save the rest of the mix in an air tight container for oatmeal in the morning (trust me it’s delicious.)
  5. Mix the batter left aside with the blueberry liquid. Drizzle on top of the plain loaf and use a toothpick to create swirls.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.
  7. Remove, serve, and enjoy!

What I Ate During My 6 Days In New York (and only gained 1lb!)

If you follow me on Instagram (@wellnessandwelldrinks), you know that I went on a crazy, whirlwind adventure to New York (Manhattan and Brooklyn) and I want to share with you as much as I can. Food was of course, a major part of the trip and my family had a great time trying all sorts of New York favorites. Unfortunately for me, I do have dietary restrictions due to my adenomyosis. My body needs certain foods everyday, and I need to stay away from many foods including gluten, most grains, most dairy products, and too much red meat. Anything that can cause an abundance of inflammation is not my friend! I was still able to indulge and enjoy even with my dietary needs. And the best part? I enjoyed myself while only gaining 1lb! Most likely from all the walking I did, and that most days I had my Shakeology for breakfast…but it still impressed me. I did not take a picture or write notes for every meal I ate, but I did try to get as much as I could with all of you in mind! So, I hope you enjoy some of my favorite foods, drinks, and restaurants I discovered while in the city!

The Good

GF Avocado Toast from Grass Root Juicery.

IMG_8522This is probably one of the best things I have ever put into my mouth. I will forever crave this creamy and perfectly spiced avocado toast. The most dangerous part? This place was only one block from where I was staying in Willamsburg, Brooklyn. They had so many goodies, but I knew this was the right choice because ya girl needs her greens to function. I was grateful that they could accommodate gluten-free needs by offering all toast on a gluten-free bread alternative. On the menu, it says the gf avocado toast is topped with sunflower sprouts, crunchy seeds, and aleppo pepper…as you can see in the picture, they were very generous with all of the goods!

While I waited for my toast, I looked around the store. They had many delicious sounding juices, as well as a ton of different holistic wellness products. Aka, it was my dreamland. Sadly, the service left more to be desired as I waited over 20 minutes in the less than busy shop for my toast. But, I will say that it was 100% worth it. In fact, it was so good, I ended up stopping by again on my last morning. I got their dreamy avocado toast yet again, and I tried their Berry Green smoothie. What I loved most about the smoothie was that it tasted so natural and I could tell there was no added sugars. The ingredients in the smoothie were filtered water, blueberries, raspberries, banana, spinach, organic almond butter, cinnamon Puffins cereal (which is GF…and delicious.) I was stuffed until lunch later that day.

Overall, I would highly recommend this delicious and nutritious place. I have heard that they have a location in San Francisco as well, so I might just have to drive to SF one day (;

GF Roasted Eggplant and Bell Peppers Sandwich and Side Salad from Fabiane’s Cafe.

IMG_8403Another one of my favorites, but I think I will say that to all of the food I ate…but on a real level, this was absolutely to die for. I love eggplant, but I hardly ever cook it (hmm maybe I need to make an eggplant recipe soon..) But, when it is an option at a restaurant, I almost always order it! I am so glad that I did, because this was just WOW! Fabiane’s Cafe and Pastry is located in Brooklyn not far from East River State Park. I loved that they had gluten-free options all over their menu. Not to mention how cute the location was on the corner of Bedford and N 5th street where there was plenty of people watching to do.

I loved the flavors in this sandwich. Along with the roasted eggplant and bell pepper, there was some sort of cheese and sauce that really brought it all together. The salad was a perfect side salad containing a mix of greens and delicious balsamic dressing. What I liked the most was the bread. It was the best gluten-free bread I have ever had and it was toasted like a panini which made it crispy on the outside but still have a soft layer on the inside. My mouth is honestly watering still thinking about this delicious meal and pretty healthy meal!

My mother enjoyed a Greek salad and said it was also to die for, while my older brother indulged on their all day breakfast Strawberry French Toast. I liked the service, the food, and the location, so there is no reason for me to not recommend it to you!

Avocado Cobb Salad from Max Brenner.

Yes, Max Brenner is known for their delicious chocolate, and don’t you worry…later on you will learn what chocolate treat I indulged in. But, we actually went there for lunch and sadly, they were seriously slacking on their food for those with dietary restrictions. However, that does not mean their food wasn’t fantastic. I was craving avocado and a salad even before knowing my limited options, so it all worked out for the better.

IMG_8548I am not usually someone who eats bacon because I am extremely picky with it…and honestly I am just not a fan of pork products in general. But, for some reason, in New York I had bacon not once, but twice. Honestly that’s more times than I have it in an entire year. So, yes, this salad had crispy bacon and grilled chicken (sorry veggie and vegan followers.) I have absolutely no regrets about this order either. The salad also included chopped egg, avocado, mixed greens, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, bleu cheese crumbles, and a side of citrus dressing. That dressing was a life changing dressing. It was tart, but also added some sweet and fresh flavors to the vegetable heavy salad. What I also appreciated was the amount of protein this salad had between the eggs and meat. I would definitely recommend it.

My family all ordered delicious meals too. My younger brother ordered a BLT, my older brother ordered fries and lots of chocolate treats, my dad had their mac and cheese, and my mom had the chicken Alfredo. There was nothing but happiness around the table and the venue was really cool too. I would recommend this place if you are in the mood for chocolate and all sorts of delicious food.

The Bad

Okay, just to clarify, I mean “bad” as in it no health benefits whatsoever aside from the happiness in my soul. They were not bad at all, just absolutely delicious!

Basic Burger from Williams Burger.

Okay, this was a local spot in Williamsburg that was a couple of blocks from our home base. My family was in the mood for warm food after a day of being caught in a storm, but more importantly, we wanted to be somewhere causal, comfortable, and a spot where we could people watch the locals. Williams Burger (we fell in love with the witty name) had high reviews online, so we decided to take the walk over. It was the calm after the storm, and right when we walked in, we knew this was the place to be.

IMG_8521The staff honestly made this experience that much better. They were warm and welcoming the second we walked in. But it wasn’t that fake kind of welcoming, it was genuine and made me want to stay as long as I could. I took a look at the menu and was pleasantly surprised that a small place like this had a gluten-free bun option for their burger. Score! I ordered the Basic Burger with gorgonzola blue cheese on a gluten-free bun. It came with all the fixings (lettuce, tomato, red onion, and house cured pickles) along with a hardy side of fries. I ordered the burger cooked medium and it was cooked to perfection. I loved how juicy and meaty it tasted (again sorry veggie followers) but it wasn’t overly salty or greasy. It was honestly a perfect burger!

A funny experience we had here happened after I had devoured half of my burger. I looked at my mom and dad’s burgers and noticed my bun was the same as my dad’s but my mom’s looked different. Immediately, my family and I panicked because we thought I got the wrong burger (my mom ordered the same on a regular bun.) It was terrifying because my body reacts horribly to gluten now that I am gluten-free and I had eaten so much of it already. We called the waitress over and she immediately went to check with the chef and manager. They had gotten the order wrong, but luckily, it was in our favor. They gave my dad a gluten-free bun by mistake, so it was all okay! And get this, my dad even truly enjoyed the bun lol. But the staff were amazing about the situation and it only made us adore them even more.

I highly recommend this restaurant for a casual, and laid back night. They had a great beer/wine selection (we didn’t drink, but could have!) as well as many options on the menu. It is a cute and cozy restaurant and I hope to one day go back and experience more time there!

Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Shake and Fries from Shake Shack.

IMG_8638Okay, I know some of you might think this is nothing special, but Shake Shack is an East Coast delicacy and I come from the land of In-N-Out…aka it was necessary to go here and experience a shake for all that it is. This day was my favorite. I ended up seeing Spongebob: The Musical with my best friend Anissa, and after the show she took me to her local Shake Shack. I have absolutely no regrets about the amount of calories I consumed here and can proudly say I will probably never pass up one of their shakes. They are just too darn good!

I ordered the Marshmallow Chocolate Chip shake which I believe was one of their specials. Wow, that baby was sweet. It was the brilliant flavor of marshmallow without the sticky mess, and the chocolate chips added a nice crunch and depth of flavor. The whipped cream wasn’t that gross, “fake” tasting whipped cream, it was delicious and tasted so fresh. (I am not even trying to be dramatic when I write this; I am seriously analyzing their food!) I also ordered their fries because why not? My immediate reaction was that it tasted what I imagine frozen fries will taste like when I cook them…but they are actually crispy. I appreciate good fries because if I am going to indulge in something like that, I want them to leave me feeling on top of the world. That’s what crispy In-N-Out fries do to me, and luckily Shake Shack’s did the same. Not to mention I got to enjoy it with some really amazing company.

Of course Shake Shack is recommended. definitely one of the best shakes I’ve ever devoured!

Coppa Catalana from Cannoli King.

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This was another really hilarious and fun experience. My family is Italian by marriage (my grandmother married into a HUGE Italian family), so we wanted to expereince Little Italy. We wanted authentic food, the delicious smells, the warming accents…we wanted all the cliche and fun. We were not disappointed when we entered Cannoli King. We decided to go here because we wanted some delicious sweets, and I am so glad that we came. The service was awful, but the experience was one of it’s own.

IMG_8513We read the menu probably about 5 times (it’s HUGE!) and we each decided to get something unique. I initally wanted creme brûlée (I know it’s French lol), but fate was not on my side…they were out! So, I tried something that I honestly did not know what it was…but it was gf and I was going for it! Coppa Catalana is essentially creme brûlée, but theirs was a frozen custard and it was absolutely refreshing and amazing. It was a hot day, so the creamy and cold custard cooled me down quickly. The topping (aka caramelized sugar) added a great flavor and texture to the custard. It was different than anything I have ever had, so I really enjoyed every bite! My mom had some sort of homemade coconut sorbet (I tried it and WOW!) while my dad got a sampler of their cannolis. He wished they were bigger, but he still said they were yummy!

But what made this experience the Italian experience we wanted was the owner. I mean this in the best way that he was just like The Godfather. His accent, personality…it was perfect. Overall, I recommend this dessert palace for all of the Italian goods. I wish I got to try their gelato, but during my next trip I will have to!

The Naughty

As you know, I drink. I mean obviously because part of my blog name is “well drinks”…so of course I had some alcoholic treats while in NYC and wow they were one-of-a-kind deliciousness.

Watermelon Margarita from West End Bar & Grill.

IMG_8424My mom, older brother, and I met up with my best friend Anissa before my mom and I headed to my first official Broadway show: Chicago (yes, I was lucky enough to see two shows!) We decided to find a place where we could share some appetizers and get drinks. We came across West End Bar & Grill because it was right near the subway AND theatre. The atmosphere of this restaurant gave me bougie yet modern city vibes and I was loving every moment.

The watermelon margarita was part of their happy hour and wow was it delicious. Not too strong, not too sweet, but just what you look for. The salt around the rim made it even more delicious. In fact it was so good, I had two. We also ordered a Mediterranean plate with cucumber salad, hummus, some sort of dip, and olives…and it was so refreshing and delicious. Plus, their fries and siracha aioli (my obsession tbh) were just as amazing. We actually devoured one round of fries and needed more! Our server was very kind and made our time their even better. It seemed to be busy after work spot for most, but it was one of those places where you just feel really great about the vibes.

I would definitely recommend this place, however I will warn you that their food is pricey. We actually didn’t even look past the appetizer section of the menu, but judging the price and portions, it’s a little bit more than we typically spend. Worth the deliciousness though!

Dark Chocolate Martini from Max Brenner.

IMG_8549I told you would let you know what chocolate treat I indulged in. Again, Max Brenner is a restaurant dedicated to chocolate goodness. I loved how diverse their chocolate menu was, especially that they had dark, milk, and white chocolate choices on nearly everything. They understand the chocolate taste bud diversity!

So, my mom, older brother, and I decided since it was his graduation day (and because we are us) that we would get a drink to celebrate. Now, I am not a sweet drink kind of girl to begin with, so this was really stretching my limits. But, I was there and I wasn’t going to bail out on my drinking pals, so I chose a martini because in the past I’ve had decent martinis. Now, I used to be a huge vodka gal…until I discovered tequila and realized alcohol doesn’t have to taste horrible, but I do occasionally have a drink with vodka in it. I am also not someone who likes the idea of creamy alcohol, in fact it really grosses me out, but again, I was here to try it. I do not know the specifics, but what I do know is that it came in a dark chocolate or milk chocolate option. I will never not choose dark chocolate.

When I was served this delicious drink, I was in awe of how pretty it was and how amazing that chocolate covered strawberry looked. I took a sip of the martini and that baby was strong. It wasn’t awful though, it was chocolatey and good for what it was, but it definitely wasn’t my thing. But, that strawberry is something I will dream about for the rest of my life. It was covered in chocolate with crunchy, crispy hazelnut pieces. I literally savored every bite and was close to tears when it was gone (again, I am not being dramatic…) That was one of my absolute favorite foods I have ever tasted. Just WOW.

Again, I would recommend Max Brenner for a fun, chocolatey experience! If you’re there and drink, try one of their specials for the fun of it!

Cauliflower Gnocchi with Creamy Roasted Vegetable Sauce and Italian Turkey Meatballs (Gluten-free, Low-Carb, Dairy-Free, Paleo-Friendly)

I grew up in a household where I was constantly exposed to so many different dishes and foods; I guess that’s what happens when your father has a passion for cooking and food. A classic choice was always some sort of Italian dish, so naturally this became my comfort food (well, that and mashed potatoes/French fries bc who doesn’t love those?) As most of you know, I recently went to New York (Brooklyn and Manhattan) where I allowed myself to eat a little less restricted while still trying to stay balanced. One thing I wanted the whole time I was there was pasta. Sadly, everywhere we went for dinner didn’t have pasta at all or did not serve gluten-free pasta. Even somewhere that said online that they did told me at their location they don’t! It isn’t always a choice to be gluten-free!!

IMG_8808So, naturally, the moment I got home my recipe creator mind went crazy trying to think of a delicious dish I could make to satisfy my craving. When I create recipes, I like to think of a dish and write down all my favorite flavors that match with that dish. For this recipe, I started with the sauce…because that is my favorite part! I wrote down a list of flavors that I wanted to taste, some extra veggies I could throw in to add more health benefits, and how I wanted to use the ingredients. Then, I moved on to what kind of pasta I wanted to match it with, and I needed to think of a protein to add so it would be a balanced meal. Thus, I created this beauty…okay the color is a little odd, but it comes from the mix of roasted veggies…yum!

I have heard about Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi all over the BeachBody Instagram world. They are gluten-free and made with a base of cauliflower (veggie pasta? Yes please!) One of the best parts about them is that they are frozen, so you don’t have to worry about them going bad before you have your next pasta craving. I was finally ready to try these babies after reading about them for about a month now. When I got to the store, I was pleasantly surprised that they were only $2.50 a bag! That’s such a great deal, especially if you are gluten-free like I am and you are used to buying products for way more than the typical prices.

IMG_8809Next came thinking about a protein. I remembered how much I liked the meatballs I made a couple of months ago, and I was excited when I discovered ground turkey in the fridge that needed to be used. However, this time I wanted to do something different from the pesto flavor, so I used two of my spices from RawSpiceBar. If you have never heard of this company, I highly recommend looking into their spices. It is a quarterly subscription that sends fresh, high quality spices to your door and gives suggestions on how to use them. I love receiving the spices because they always inspire me to create things that I normally wouldn’t! I’ve cooked a variety of middle eastern and asian foods I would have never tried without these spices. I am not sponsored by them (a girl can dream) but I have been featured on their Instagram/Twitter pages and recommend them on a serious level! PS: Who can spy a hungry puppy in the bottom of this picture??

Now that I’ve blabbed enough, I am ready to share this recipe! My mom said this was some of the best sauce she has even had and I was so proud. The sauce is creamy without any added cream, and it was purely veggies, some spices, and olive oil! Pretty amazing what vegetables can do on their own! Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Cauliflower Gnocchi with Creamy Roasted Vegetable Sauce and Italian Turkey Meatballs Recipe

This recipe yields about 3 servings of sauce and gnocchi, and 12-15 meatballs depending on their size.

Ingredients

Gnocchi:

  • Cauliflower Gnocchi from Trader Joe’s

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 package of RawSpiceBar New York Italian Seasoning (or your favorite Italian Seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (I used RawSpiceBar’s)

Sauce:

  • 6 tomatoes (I used Roma because that is what grows in my garden, but feel free to use beef or any other large tomato)
  • 1 whole sweet onion, sliced
  • 6-9 cloves of garlic (depending on preference)
  • 1 whole bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 3/4 cup fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 °F. Line two baking sheets with foil for easy clean up.
  2. For your meatballs, in a mixing bowl, add egg, garlic, almond flour, spices, and fennel seeds. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Add your lean ground turkey. Be sure to mix really well so all of the turkey is covered in flavors, egg, and flour!
  4. Using a tablespoon for measurement, take a scoop of turkey and using your hands, roll into a tight ball and place on your baking sheet. If this thought totally disgusts you, you can also use a cookie scoop so you aren’t touching the raw meat. When making your meatballs, remember to try to make them all a similar size so you can be sure they cook through all the way.
  5. Put baking sheet in the oven and allow your meatballs to cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Using tongs, flip your meatballs so they brown on both sides. Cook for 10 more minutes. When done, take them out of the oven so they are ready to plate later.
  7. While your meatballs cook, you can begin to prep your veggies for the sauce. Chop your onions, tomatoes, and bell pepper, then lay them all out on your second foil lined baking sheet and season with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, and cracked pepper. Your garlic can be placed in whole cloves on the sheet as well!
  8. Place your veggies in the oven with your meatballs. They will take less time to roast than the meatballs, so keep a close eye on them. Mine took about 25 minutes and came out perfectly!
  9. In a sauce pan, add 1/4 cup of olive oil and your fresh herbs. Let this begin to warm up on a low heat so the herbs infuse their flavor into the olive oil.
  10. When your veggies are ready, add them to the sauce pan and begin to break them down while mixing it all together.
  11. In a blender, pour your sauce and blend until smooth. A hand held blender works just as well. I personally use my NutriBullet and love it.
  12. Pour your sauce back in the pan, add sea salt, cracked pepper, and crushed red pepper. Stir well and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  13. Cook your gnocchi according to the directions on the package.
  14. Pour gnocchi, sauce, and meatballs into a bowl and enjoy the heck out of it!