I discovered acai a few years ago in California – I know, I know, I’m not cool and didn’t discover it in Brazil – and was immediately obsessed. It’s got a creamy texture to it, and even with no sugar it’s bursting with flavor. Every time I’m in San Diego, I treat myself to an acai bowl at least once during the trip. I know that we have acai bowls here in Chicago, but I try to steer clear because I feel like most places add a ton of sugar to the acai puree. Bottom line is, I was acai deprived…until I found these acai packets at Trader Joe’s.
I knew these acai blended packets would be a game changer! I immediately started experimenting with different recipes to make the perfect acai bowl. After much trial and error, I think I’ve nailed this down. Below is an easy acai bowl recipe that is absolutely foolproof – you can thank me later!
I’ll be the first admit that I legit like grocery shopping. Is that weird? I don’t get to cook everyday, but I love going to the grocery store on the weekends to stock up on my go-to snacks and whatever recipes I’m making that week (really it’s “recipe”, singular, but I shoot for the stars). I also enjoy hunting for new stuff to try, and Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places to do this. They’re always introducing new items to the mix – I’m like a child in a candy store when I shop their “new in” section. That and the section where they have the samples. I love samples.
I’ve been a Trader Joe’s shopper ever since I graduated college, which feels like forever ago (because it is). They’ve been popping up everywhere in the city which is amazing. Rumor has it, they’ll be opening on in Wicker Park soon – heyoooo. Cannot wait. Since I’m a long time T Joe’s shopper, there are specific things I always buy from there, on top of the experimental purchases I throw in the mix. Below are my favorite things to buy from Trader Joe’s (all of these items are Trader Joe’s exclusives). I’ve linked to the items that aren’t pictured so you can easily find them!
My mom’s hummus is ALWAYS better than whatever I find at the store. Every. Single. Time. I never asked how to make it, because I figured it’d be too complicated/too much work. A few weeks ago, I finally asked how this magical hummus is made, and was surprised to find that it only required a handful of ingredients and a blender. Since I now know how to make it myself, it’s officially in my healthy snack rotation. It’s creamy & full of flavor – I love that I know exactly what’s in it and that it’s all natural! I’ve been eating it with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes…YUM. Below, you’ll find the easiest homemade hummus recipe EVER!
Confession – I LOVE snacking. I love food in general, but snacking is one of my guilty pleasures. Sometimes (well, most times), I just want to munch on a little somthin’ somthin’. Depending on what I have at arm’s length, it can be a bad situation. Knowing I have this habit of hitting up my pantry every few hours, I try to keep only healthy snacks in the house. That way, even though I feel a tad guilty about snacking, I’m comforted by the fact that I’m at least putting healthy stuff into my body. These are the healthy snacks I resort to on the reg –
Siggi’s Yogurt: I’ve tried most yogurt brands, and Siggi’s is by FAR my favorite – I even like it better than Fage (sorry, Leo). My favorite is the plain one, but I’ve tried most of their flavors and there isn’t one I don’t like. Their yogurts have less sugar than most brands on the market, and significantly more protein (even when compared to Greek yogurts). Their plain yogurt is 0% fat, and it’s still as creamy as ever. I typically eat it with honey and fresh blueberries, sometimes adding some cereal or granola for a little crunch.
As stated in my Instagram bio – I have a sugar addiction. It’s a real thing…and I’m not denying it. I’ve managed to get it under control by only indulging once in a while, but if it were up to me I’d treat myself to a dessert after lunch & dinner (and maybe in between). I look forward to dessert more than dinner. My trip to a restaurant usually goes something like “I’ll have a salad with grilled chicken, thanks…hmmm and tell me more about your carrot cake”. #thestruggleisreal.
I’ve tried not eating sweets after meals, but I end up caving and binge eating eventually. It’s just not effective. It wasn’t until I discovered “dessert tea” that I found the solution to my sugar problems.
I’m all about unconventional Valentine’s Day dates…but I’m obvi always up for a nice dinner. I love food, what can I say (& spending time with Leo…sometimes). Though Leo and I have frequent dinner dates, I still look forward to our Valentine’s Day plans. There is something special about the time and thoughtfulness put into a night celebrating your relationship.
Another thing special about Valentine’s Day? How fast the restaurants book up. You don’t want to be scrambling last minute trying to find your spot – trust me, I’ve been there, and it’s less than ideal. For all my Chicagoans, I’ve pulled together a list of my favorite cozy & romantic restaurants in the city, all of which would be perfect Valentine’s Day dinner destinations.
We’ll be spending Valentine’s Day early this year due to work travel, but I’ll let you guys know where we end up! PS – here are gift ideas for him too.
The first time I spent Christmas in Athens, I fell in love with how much Greeks embrace Christmas. Despite the economic crisis, people were out and about, shopping, grabbing coffee, going out to dinner. The energy was unbelievable. It was a totally different experience visiting Athens in the winter months – the city was alive with people who are normally vacationing in August.
One of my most memorable discoveries during this trip was the Greek Christmas cookie. Every single bakery was stocked with them, restaurants would treat you to them for dessert. They were everywhere, and I didn’t mind it one bit. When baked, the cookie is actually quite dry, but it is then soaked in honey-based syrup & topped with walnuts. The end result is a perfectly baked macaroon with a crispy outside and a center soaked in honey. I’ve never had anything like it.
Every Sunday, I try to drive up to the burbs and spend the afternoon at my mom’s. Usually, she’s in the kitchen cooking away, and I’ll sit at the counter and vent about my week while treating myself (aka stuffing my face) to all of the amazing food within arm’s reach. This Sunday, I walked in and was invited by the delicious smell of these beautiful cookies.
My mom was sitting at the bar in the kitchen, jamming up these tasty little things. They’re incredibly easy to make…don’t let their beauty make you think otherwise. I’ve shared the cookie recipe with you before, when I posted these Christmas cookies last year. The only difference here is that you replace the frosting with jam, and make a cookie sandwich.
This weekend flew by! Though I wasn’t as productive as I would have liked, I’m thankful I got to spend quality time with friends & family. Every moment this weekend was enjoyed with people I love, and there isn’t a better way to celebrate a holiday…don’t ya agree?
I had “baking something new” on my to-do list, so it was natural to bake a 4th of July dessert. I came across these delish krispy treats with cheesecake topping and knew I’d hit the jackpot. I’m usually not impressed with themed desserts, but I thought this one was tasteful & subtle enough. They were so easy to make, yet looked so elaborate! The sweetness of the krispy treat was a match made in heaven with the tartness of the cheesecake.
Last weekend, I had a MAJOR Mexican food craving. It was my lucky night on Saturday as we were out for drinks in Logan, and I had been itching to check out this new Mexican spot nearby, Dos Urban Cantina. I somehow managed to grab a table of 6 last minute (it was meant to be!), and a group of us indulged in a delicious Mexican cuisine. Although I’m not usually one for upscale Mexican, this place was absolutely worth the visit. The chef used to work with Rick Bayless over at Frontera Grill , another one of my favorites. Every dish they brought out was bursting with flavor and the presentation was impeccable.
One of our favorite items on the menu was this pumpkinseed dip they brought out as an appetizer along with chips & salsa. We loved it so much that I Googled the recipe on Sunday afternoon, determined to replicate it. I managed to find Rick Bayless’ recipe that was pretty darn close (it’s got to be the same, minus a few tweaks here and there). We ate so much of the dip we ruined our appetite for Sunday’s dinner – I’m pretty sure we nailed the recipe. Boom.