Current Favorite Snacks

My eating habits have had such a roller coaster ride over the last few years.

I’m pretty over labels and rules and restrictions and anything else that tells me I can’t have this or need to eat that.  However, I’m still into health and feeling my best. I’ve cut out certain foods off and on for years. Seriously, I’d say almost 15 years.  I was searching for that magic bullet, the mystical diet that would change my digestion, my body, and my life.

I’m here to say that diet does not exist. Maybe paleo works for you right now but it may not in a year. Maybe I feel better eating less sugar this month but by September I might feel just as good having dessert every single night.  Things change, so do I.

I know now that I can have whatever I want (except bananas. I really believe I have an allergy…), in moderation. “Moderation” can be an annoying term but it really means something different to everyone. I just had to figure out my own moderation.

Anyway, I’m talking about my current favorite snacks that make me happy and satisfied. Maybe you’ll find something new!

Epic Bars

I’m a little tired of most snacks, especially bars, being sweet. I’ve always been more of a savory/salty person so these are perfect!  It’s more portable than jerky and has great, clean ingredients.  Fave flavor is the Bison Bacon Cranberry but I’ve tried a bunch and they’re all good.

Siggi’s Simple Sides

So far I liked the Almonds and Dried Cherries flavor the best. I’ve eated these for breakfast along with a muffin or just alone for a snack. I love the crunch that the toppings add because I’ve never been one for the normal texture of plain yogurt. I love that there’s like 16 grams of protein in each one because I notice I feel fuller longer when I have enough.

Happy Yummies Gummy Bears

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I am not super into candies. Normally I’d rather pick chocolate but since I’ve been experimenting with running fuel (which gummies are great for!), I randomly picked these up at Marshalls on clearance the other week.  They really are some of the best gummies!  The bag I bought has 12 flavors, like Pink Grapefruit and  lemon, and they’re the softest, non-sticky gummies I’ve ever had. It’s nice to grab just like five or six of them after lunch for something sweet.

Black Bean Brownie Bites

And my final snack I’ve been having lately is black bean brownie bites! Really, this is such a good version of them. You would never know the beans are in them, but it gives them such a great, dense texture and really compliments the chocolate well. I love the bite size and the chunks of chocolate chips in them. I’ve been having one after dinner and it’s the cutest little dessert to end the night! This recipe made about 20 so I froze them to keep whenever I want a treat.

‘Till next time!

💕Whitney

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Mocha Protein Muffins – Gluten Free & Vegan

Sometimes I want to eat cake for breakfast…but when I actually do that I end up on a downward spiral for the rest of the day, craving more sugar, more carbs, more unhealthy anything.  These muffins can be a great option for those days when I really want the cake without the crap.  IMG_7395

This is the nice middle ground between a muffin and a brownie.  I tweaked a recipe from Tone It Up. These aren’t dry like some gluten free recipes and they have a rich chocolate flavor because of the coffee.  Coffee brings out I learned that from Ina.

So easy. Tasty as a snack or dessert.

Mocha Protein Muffins

makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 oat flour

3/4 cup vegan chocolate protein powder (using this kind at the moment)

1/4 cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

1/4 cup raw honey

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup coffee

1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax dissolved in 2 tbsp water)

Instructions:

Mix dry ingredients together. Add all wet ingredients. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.  (I prefer coconut oil spray) Pour batter evenly Bake 24-28 minutes until just firm.

Let me know what you think!

~Whitney Victoria

 

Christmas Countdown Is On

I’m a little concerned it’s already December 18.  This time of year goes the fastest and some people probably like that but I like to savor it all.  But who’s to say I can’t keep celebrating past Christmas?  Maybe it’s not readily available but I can buy peppermint candies all year round and make my own mochas.

I watched a bunch of Christmas movies while wrapping my presents over the weekend.  I can honestly say it took me about 6 hours…not really complaining!

The past week involved tons of great food.  I tried a bunch of new recipes and with a few tiny tweaks, I’d say they were mostly all keepers.

I broke out my Gwyneth cookbook.  Cherry tomatoes and arugula were in my fridge and they needed to be used. It’s full of good, Whole food and love the variety of recipes.)img_6752.jpgI could have ate the entire bowl of them.  I’ve roasted tomatoes before but the ratio of EVOO was just perfect.  I only used the below recipe for them, not the rest that’s mentioned.

IMG_6750Seriously.  Look at them!  Perfectly blistered and browned.IMG_6748I had some smoked salmon so I really wanted to incorporate that as the protein.  For a dressing I used this one just with balsamic vinegar instead of red wine, only because that’s what I had in the house.  It made a lot so I’ve had extra dressing all week!img_6763.jpg

My favorite part might have been the sour cream corn bread.  I used Ina’s recipe from Make it Ahead and fell I love with it.  I substituted coconut palm sugar instead and gluten free flour!img_6772.jpg Forget what you think about dry, crumbly cornbread.  This is not that at all.  It’s moist and soft and did not need any topping to be delicious.  Ina recommends butter and strawberry jam!  She also said you could could toast it but mine fell apart a little.  However, warmed up was amazing.

It was a nice carb addition to the salad.  We all need it.  IMG_6780

A few days later I still had sour cream leftover and needed a reason to use it.  My brilliant idea was to use it in scones.  It’s been awhile.  I was on a huge scone kick awhile back and love the way sour cream or buttermilk change the texture.  This was my one recipe semi-failure… let’s say #Pinterestfail.

I laid out all my ingredients but somehow forgot to add the brown sugar.  Now, if you know scones, they’re not meant to be very sweet so these are still edible but I had planned on giving them as a thank you present.  Yeah, that wasn’t happening.  I have standards.  I did eat one for breakfast with coffee anyway!  I added chopped dates and pecans and will try these again one day.  After Christmas!

After that debacle, I was out of butter so I found an interesting cookie using olive oil.  Now, I really liked these.  I’m not sure what everyone else thinks since they are definitely different.  The fleur del sel and olive oil added a gourmet depth that most cookies don’t have. I think I’d leave about 1/4 cup of sugar out next time.  They were pretty darn sweet.  or maybe use bittersweet chocolate chips!  fimg_6875.jpgMy last little culinary experience involved a greattttt cappuccino and a gluten-free peanut butter chocolate free cake.  As much as I love coffee, I’m a little boring sometimes and stick with black.  This cappuccino was down right wonderful.  The cake was good too, but I totally could have just eaten the peanut butter mousse layer in the middle and I would have been sold! (The capp was much prettier before I took a sip!)IMG_6869

7 Days until Christmas!

~Whitney Victoria

Friday Faves and Peppermint Protein Smoothies

There are a lot of things I’m excited for right now and spinning is one of them again. I found myself smiling while we were going up a hill and felt too silly about it to stop.  Super crazy ready to try Sprint!  It’s coming to my gym and I can’t wait to try it.  The fact that it’s only 30 minutes should seem nice but I know that means it’s intense.  You’re fitting an hour’s worth of speed, resistance, and cardio into half the time. Check it out people.

 

My Taylor Swift tickets…I worked hard all November getting ticket “boosts” for a closer place in the virtual box office line.  My spot opened and I took too much time texting with my sister on what type of seats, pricing, etc. we wanted.  I was about to select the seats when the entire Ticketmaster site said there were no tickets available for that event.  I kept thinking it was just a glitch and even if they somehow were sold-out, I’d get to go.  I checked back every few minutes and suddenly they were back!  I didn’t waste anymore time and bought them.  Whew.  Seriously, the best two concerts I’ve ever been to so I cannot wait for this one on July 14. img_6737.jpg

Macarons!  They’re the best, chic, decadent treat. My mom and I absolutely adore them.  They’re so instagramable…I haven’t tried these new flavors yet because I can’t think of not sharing them.  They are in the freezer!  I love this little company who does pop-up shops in the area!  They have a bunch of holiday flavors.  My selection this time was peppermint, gingerbread, eggnog, cinnamon bun, cookie dough, and strawberry cheesecake.

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Short hair!  I totally feel like I lost some dead weight, not just the hair but also the weight of whatever I don’t need from the last year or so.  I feel more chic and sassy (best word I can find to describe my feels but not my favorite…)

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Peppermint everything!  I found this candy cane smoothie on instagram and new I needed to make it ASAP.  My weird banana intolerance meant I had to adjust the recipe a tiny bit.  I put it in the freezer so it could be thicker and I’d have to eat it with a spoon. I was hungry so it didn’t freeze long but it was just long enough to form a frozen crust.  I had to crack the surface like I was eating creme brule. It’s fun to trick myself into thinking Im eating some delectable bowl full of protein.  It turned out wonderful and refreshing and basically better than ice cream.

My version:

Peppermint Cacao Protein Smoothie Bowl!

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup frozen cauliflower (you won’t taste it, I promise!)

1/4 tsp peppermint extract

1 tbs cacao or cocoa powder

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used this one)

Garnish with 1 crushed mini candy cane and 1 tsp mini chocolate chips (My faves!)

Lick the bowl.  img_6769.jpg

I’m in love with this bed.  Totally going on my vision board.  I love the high headboard and that it’s modernish but still sort of homey feeling.IMG_5076

Some Black Friday deals that are even better than expected.  That blanket I randomly got of $12 at Sears, of all places.  Hello, those owls are drinking coffee…and wearing scarves…and some have ear muffs.  Of course I love it. It is so soft and oversized that I’ve been covering up with it while watching tv and then taking it to bed with me!  The pillow was an impulse buy from TJ MAXX and I’m equally in love with both.  (Pictured with a Godiva Santa bear from 2000.  For real.  I’ve been a semi-hoarder since a child.)IMG_6559

 I can a bracelet that says “You are Magic” on it in Connecticut so this pic makes me happy.  I’m telling you to believe it too.IMG_6395~Whitney Victoria

 

 

Festivities – Food and Facials

Festiveness is everywhere!  In my food and self-care practices…

Festivity Part One: I had a facial today here.  It was heaven.   I chose the spa because they focus on natural ingredients.  I didn’t want harsh products on my poor face.  After my first facial I felt super red and slightly in pain and I’ve never had super bad skin so I can imagine what it’s like for other people.  This time was going to be different.  I had already decided that before booking an appointment.

Other than my skin looking a little lackluster lately, I didn’t have any major concerns to addresss.  I mainly wanted some advice on my type of skin and some sort of cleansing relaxation.  The “seasonal facial” was right up my alley.

This was the description: “A botanical experience perfect for all skin types featuring vitamin-rich holistic products that enhance your skin’s natural balance and vitality.  While your skin absorbs the healing properties of our masques, we’ll delight you with a decollete, full hand & arm exfoliation and body butter application followed by a warm tower hand wrap.”

The esthetician used hot buttered rum exfoliant, peppermint oil in my scalp massage, and some amazing cocoa face mask…yes.  It was like I was getting a facial in Christmas land.  So many hot towels draped over my eyes and my hands wrapped up.  It was so relaxing and my face was a tad red (as to be expected) but it also looked dewy and renewed.

She did tell me that I had small blocks all over and it wasn’t super noticeable to me because I have small pores.  She said that it was most likely caused by something topical.  I literally never wear foundation so I knew it must be my face cream.  Another fact I loved about the process was that I was given a “prescription sheet” of all the products she used on me in case I loved it and wanted to use something at home.  It was completely this brand, Eminence Organic Skincare, which I have never heard of before now.  It’s so tough for me to find something natural that also doesn’t cause any negative reactions or clogged pores.  The “calm” line was recommended since I’m pretty sensitive…of course I am.I’m not one to be talked into a ton of products but I want my skin to be something I’m proud of.  Instead of just choosing say the cleanser, or just the cream, I am trying this starter set so see how I like it.

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Seriously.  I loved every minute of it.  I’m currently working them into my schedule because this needs to happen every six weeks or so.

Festivity Part Two:

Oh man.  I had the best idea yesterday morning.  I had some time to actually use the stove for breakfast.  Normally I prep oatmeal the night before or  so I wanted good pancakes.  You know, with the little crispy edges that show up when you bake something in a pan?  I use coconut oil usually but there’s nothing wrong with real butter!  My stomach does not do well with egg yolks and I’m always on the lookout for something gluten free. My search led me to this easy recipe.  It’s actually a waffle recipe but they’re always the same and I was not dusting my waffle iron off for a batch of 2.

It was so simple yet I was almost out of my regular almond milk and didn’t think I could squeeze a 1/2 cup out of it.  I thought, “Hey!  Who says I can’t substitute that for my beloved Good Karma Holiday Nog?”

Let me tell you.  It’s one of the best “nogs” on the market right now.  I’ve tried most dairy-free kinds so that’s saying something.  It’s great straight up.  I can’t wait to down a glass with a little plateful of gluten-free almond cookies this season.  So…it had to be a great addition to my pancakes, right?

SOOO much better than I expected!  My pancakes tastes like sugar cookies!  I added just a hint of coconut oil at the end and drizzled some maple syrup but next time I wouldn’t even need that! The nog added its own sweetness.

Please try this recipe out!  I got my nog at Wegmans but this time of year it’s usually at Giant and Target too! You can use any kind of dairy-free nog (or any kind of milk, I think) but I think you’ll love the festive feel to this breakfast.

Holiday Nog Pancakes

(Makes 2 large pancakes)

1/2 cup gluten-free flour (I love Bob’s Red Mill gf blend.)

1/2 cup Good Karma Holiday Nog

2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

Mix all ingredients together. Cook on medium heat in pan with melted coconut oil.  Flip once, when you see bubbles on the surface. It will take awhile!  Practice patience.

fullsizeoutput_20c4I’ll be making these all winter long.  Or at least as long as I can find great dairy-free, healthy drinks.

My favorite way to drink “egg” nog of the season.  Christmas Vacation will forever hold a place in my happy holiday heart.

~Whitney Victoria

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Commitment Issues

It’s not what you think.  Well, maybe a little.  The last month or so I’ve really noticed how much I sign up for, RSVP “yes” to, and overall commit to doing that I just don’t actually want to do.  I’m an over-committer.

I’ve always been reliable and professional.  Committing to things seemed like a perfect way to prove that I was grown-up and trustworthy.  It was like a way to give myself proof  that I was doing the right thing.  Flaky people don’t complete fitness challenges or make plans months in advance, right?  It’s been my goal up until recently to present my best self to everyone at all times. That’s another major issue…but this lead me to care so much what people thought of me that I usually didn’t stop to think why I wanted to do it.

I’ve seen too many people cancel at the last minute or show up late or go from obsessing over the latest trend to forgetting all about it a month later.  For a reason I’m still unsure of, I labeled that kind of behavior “bad” or “wrong.”  Obviously, I didn’t want anyone to think of me that way.

I’m crediting mostly my amazing week in NJ at a Tony Robbins event with finally realizing who I want to be and how much I’m not being that person.  (Also another huge, long story, but truly groundbreaking for me.)

After that moment of seeing it all before me, it dawned on me that so many of my commitments I did in order to feel a certain way.  I’d force myself to go to meetings or show up for a shift of whatever when really I wanted to be at home baking or at the gym in a class. It’s been years since I’ve not had almost every single moment planned out.  I even made (make…I’m a work in progress) lists for my days off.  I’ll write down “watch Grey’s Anatomy, roast vegetables, shower.”  Seriously, I’ve written “shower” on my to-do lists…like I’d forget or something.

What I didn’t realize is that the things I’d forget to do probably weren’t things that got me excited or led me to some kind of joyful outcome.  I’m getting better and letting go and going with my impulses.  They don’t steer me wrong.  I just have to breathe and listen.

Maybe 2 weeks ago I told several people that they shouldn’t allow me to sign up for anything unless it was a one-time thing like one yoga class until the new year.  No going to that class and then buying a 10-class package so I’d pigeon-hole myself into going, thinking it was for my own good when really it would make me miserable.

This week I thought, “wait, me making a pact to not commit to anything is exactly the kind of stupid rules and games I’m trying to quit.”

It’s actually not about never making plans.  It’s about only doing things that make me happy.  That’s what matters.

In lighter news, my pecan pie was made using Pillsbury cinnamon rolls as the crust and this recipe for the filling.  (No corn syrup!)  It was pretty good but I think I’d like more filling next time since the rolls absorbed a lot of the moisture when baking. img_6523.jpgThe outfit.  Simple, festive-enough, and all pieces I already owned.  Weird for me, but I loved it this year. img_6546.jpgIt’s a tradition to go to Murdough’s Christmas Barn after eating Thanksgiving dinner.  This ornament is straight-up Law of Attraction.IMG_6548I appointed myself the table place card maker.  I found these little ornaments and tags.  I kept it simple and wrote each person’s name, after attaching the pinecones.  It was cute and something everyone could take home.img_6140.jpgIMG_5965

IMG_6531My tiny Hello Kitty tree is up at work!  Lucky I have a huge desk to fit all my holiday decorations.img_6561.jpg

Black Friday was goooood to me.  I got this tree for $23.  I’m fine with a semi-straggly tree this year when it’s just me enjoying it.  I’ve always been partial to the Charlie Brown trees of the lot anyway.  It’s clearly still in the works but at least it’s up!

img_6560.jpgOne month exactly until my birthday.  I like to do a little soul-searching this time of year. I’m striving for following my instincts so I can do more of what I love, more of the time.

~Whitney Victoria

Walnut Apple Oat Muffins (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

Funny story.  I’m making a pecan pie for Thanksgiving and had all my ingredients last week.  I was super proud of myself for having everything ready to go so early.  I was in the kitchen and glanced at the counter where I had that bags and noticed my pecans said “walnuts” on the bag!  Hah, I thought it was a little hilarious that I got everything but the pecans for a pecan pie.  I’m actually excited for this pie.  It’s a Whitney creation…Suffice it say, I had a large bag of chopped walnuts burning a hole in my pocket.

Enter these muffins.  I wanted to make something breakfast-worthy.  That means filling, with some fiber and protein, and not loaded with sugar.  I found this recipe then added my own spin, like I do.

These muffins are moist, hearty, and just sweet enough to still taste like a treat!  The nutty topping adds an extra crunch.

There were pretty many ingredients but they most things you probably have on hand.
img_8131.jpgPre-baked muffins.IMG_9597Post-baked muffins!img_2983.jpgI had some overflow onto another pan since the apples bulked it up.  I think next time I’ll split the batter for exactly 12 muffins.  I like high muffins that rise up over the paper edges.  It makes them look more like bakery-style ones!  img_6845.jpg

Another option could be pear and almond!  That might be good actually.

Walnut Apple Oat Muffins

(Approx. 12-16 muffins)

Ingredients:

     Muffins:

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax with 2 tbsp water)
  • 1-1/2 cups gluten-free old fashioned oats
  • 1-1/4 cups gluten-free flour
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 apples, chopped

     Topping:

  • ¼ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted (use salted butter if you’re not following a vegan diet)

 Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Fill muffin tins with liners
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the applesauce, milk, melted coconut oil and flax egg until blended.
  4. Stir in the dry ingredients (oats, flour, walnuts, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt).
  5. Mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Fold in chopped apple.
  7. Fill muffin cups until they’re full.
  8. In a small bowl, stir together the topping ingredients.
  9. Gently press topping over the batter in each cup.
  10. Bake for 16 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  11. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

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Thanksgiving is tomorrow!  Let’s be real and think of some things to appreciate.

~Whitney Victoria

Autumn Apple Cinnamon Pancakes (GF!)

Happy Monday morning!

I’m all about the Christmas vibes already.  Got my first holiday Starbucks cup of the season and felt like a tiny child, ready for Santa.

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I’ve been meal prepping for the holidays, all geared up to bake all the recipes I can.

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I’m in love with these flowers I got at the farmer’s market for $5!  They’re cute and just what I want to see when I walk in the front door.

img_6255.jpgLet’s start things off fresh with some fall-inspired breakfast treats.  I wanted pancakes, and I wasn’t feeling my protein versions.  They are great most of them time but really don’t compare to the real thing.  However, I didn’t feel like eating the original, white flour recipe that only keeps me full for about an hour.

Fuji apples make me drool.  They’re always so sweet and crisp and I wanted them in breakfast.

IMG_6269Oh, and I had some brown rice flour I’ve been meaning to use up so they just so happened to be gluten free and fabulous.

These pancakes are soft and fluffy and are the perfect recipe to prep the night before for a Fall brunch or prep for the week’s breakfast like I did.  I loosely based mine off this recipe.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes – Gluten Free

Makes about 6 pancakes

1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup almond milk 

2 eggs

1 flax egg (1 tbs ground flax seed soaked in 2 tbs water – takes about 90 seconds)

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

2 tsp honey – I used raw

1 tsp cinnamon

1 chopped apple – I like keeping the skin on but you could peel it!

  • Whisk eggs together with flax egg
  • Add milk
  • Add in melted coconut oil
  • Add honey, salt, and baking soda
  • Whisk in flour until there are no lumps
  • Cover bowl and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight
  • Spray pan and cook on stovetop at medium heat, flipping once.
  • Enjoy topped with sliced apples, 1 tsp butter, and 1 tsp maple syrup per 2 pancakesimg_6286.jpg.

This same recipe would be great with blueberries or chocolate chips too!  Let me know if you try them, please!

What are you favorite pancake mix-ins?

~Whitney Victoria

 

 

Meal With a View

Continuing my recap of Connecticut, I thought I’d focus on some amazing food we experienced. The first night we were there, we were craving lobster rolls.  I googled it so see who was serving them in close proximity to our hotel since I wasn’t up for a long car ride after the drive up there.  I found Sunset Grille.  It was about 6 miles from where we were staying and they had a waterfront view!  We lucked out and it was literally the last day of the season that the restaurant was open!  It was nothing special as far as decor goes, but the ambiance was there with the yachts, sea breeze, and delicious food.

IMG_5756IMG_5746IMG_5814IMG_5762IMG_5731They had two kinds of lobster rolls. One was warm with butter, and the other was cold with mayo and herbs. Both were amazing.  We got one of each and then split them!  I couldn’t decide my favorite.  The french fries were also seriously great.  I didn’t leave one on the plate.img_5852.jpg

Up close and personal. IMG_5832IMG_5751IMG_5817IMG_5878We found a beach down the road that was free to walk on since it was October.  It was so windy but really fun to just walk around and look out at the water. IMG_5805IMG_5904The next day was New Haven. The little shop was called Maison Mathis and had a great vibe.IMG_5972 This was an impromptu stop for coffee and I got a wonderful brown butter chocolate chip cookie. I wish I took a picture to commemorate it and would like to make my own batch.  img_5942.jpgI’m a tad OCD about researching things so I did my homework and knew about most of the cafes within 5 miles of the Yale campus. We hit Claire’s Corner Copia for a late lunch.  Isn’t that such a cute name?  They specialize in vegan and gluten-free food and have been open since 1975! I had some Asian noodles and veggies.  It was so filling and satisfying after a day of walking around the city.  But, it also tasted light and healthy.  After not having real homemade bread for, basically years, this little loaf was breathtaking.  I was obsessed with it, ate every crumb, and want some more.  I had some unsweetened blueberry iced tea that was little tart.  I actually added stevia and I hardly ever need to do that.  IMG_6046IMG_6047Our third day was for traveling home.  I found a cute, organic spot for brunch called Baldanza in New Canaan.  I have to say, my brioche french toast was probably the best french toast I’ve ever had.  Uncured bacon and fair-trade coffee were musts.  I loved the diverse but clean choices there.  Next time I’m in town, I’ll be back. IMG_6002IMG_5815img_5726.jpg

My mom had the gluten-free egg sandwich and also said it was the best ever!  Mmmmm.IMG_5924

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I think my biggest smiles are when I’m posing with food.  I’m not ashamed one bit.

~Whitney Victoria

Chocolate Chunk Blondies and

Excerpt from my cappie horoscope, courtesy of elle.com and the AstroTwins.  “For a mystical twist, play a game of bibliomancy. Pick a book, open to a “random” page and read the passage as if it was a tarot card. It may contain an important message for your day.”

I’m totally doing that soon!  Books give us wisdom and let us inside someone else’s mind. Even nonfiction stories get us thinking like we normally wouldn’t.

Ready for some blondie action?  I made these last week.

Rich.

Buttery.

Classic.

I had two huge epiphanies because of these little babies.

1. Ina Garten is a Hamptons baking goddess.  (Sugar-free be damned!)

2. Blondies beat brownies. Every single time.

My cookbook stand I got as a Christmas present from my aunt a few years ago is used literally every day.  I actually keep it up on my counter with a favorite cookbook out.  Currently, it’s open to the same Barefoot contessa volume, but to the Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Frosting recipe.  You act like I’m into Fall or something!?  I like to celebrate anything I can.  img_5104.jpg

This recipe is super easy.  Most of Ina’s are straightforward but I was still a little surprised at just how simple and tasty these bars were.  I guess I should have been tipped off by it being in Ina’s “Foolproof” cookbookIMG_5105Some white sugar and brown sugar were creamed with butter.  Mixing two types of sugar brings a depth to the sweet taste of the blondies.  All brown sugar, and the molasses would overwhelm the other flavors.  Just white sugar leaves it a little one-note.  IMG_5107

I usually use Enjoy Life chocolate chips or Nestle semi-sweet morsels.  I really wanted to find “chunks” not chips.  There’s something more decadent to the bigger pieces than the dainty little chips.  However, no chunks were to be found.  I ended up trying Ghiradelli baking chips.  They were good, melting just how I wanted them to, but I still prefer my other two brands.  These were a little too sweet for me, at least when I’m going for “semi-sweet.”  Have you seen that size bag, though??  It was like lugging around a newborn baby.  IMG_5130

I deserve a prize for not eating one lick of batter!  I did eat a chocolate chip or two…fullsizeoutput_1db6

The recipe had a crazy weird shaped pan and I didn’t have one even close to that.  Er’er go, two round cake pans.  I eyeballed it and split the batter in half, then smoothed the tops.  My Donna Reed vibe was unintentional but I went with it.IMG_5133

Because of my strange pan choice, I had to cut the edges for purely aesthetic reasons but don’t worry!  They did not go to waste.  I polished off the baggie full of cookie crusts in two days.

Mmm, straight out of the oven.  Golden, butter-crackled, crust. Walnuts and chocolate peeking out.fullsizeoutput_1db5You really can’t skip the step of letting it cool completely if you want any chance at cutting the blondies into pretty bars.

I think we’ve discussed my need for individual foods.  You can very well leave your blondies in the pan and cut as you go.  I just love the grab and go option with cupcake liners.

Up close and personal, they look even better.  img_5149.jpgDon’t judge my cutting skills.  I know they’re all over the size map. Someday I’m taking a knife skills class to learn how to get beautifully uniform mirepoix.   img_5145.jpg

That’s the last one that made it home with me!  It was thoroughly enjoyed as part of my Saturday morning breakfast.  Duh, of course I eat baked goods for meal one.  Just not every day.  I highly recommend warming them up for a maybe 15 seconds and putting some ice cream on top.  I did not do this at breakfast but that wold have happened if I thought of it before they were gone!img_5372.jpg

Tell me if you try the recipe!  What are your favorite chocolates to use in baking?

~Whitney Victoria