Author Archives: Rachel (littlechefbigappetite)

Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins with Walnuts {Dairy Free & No Refined Sugar}

These Healthy Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins with Walnuts are a delicious and nutritious breakfast or snack. They’re packed with whole grains and are dairy-free and refined sugar-free.

 

These Healthy Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins with Walnuts are a delicious and nutritious breakfast or snack. They're packed with whole grains and are dairy-free and refined sugar-free.Try them with your morning coffee or pack them as a lunchbox treat for the kids. // www.littlechefbigappetite.com // Healthy Muffin Recipe, Whole Wheat Muffins, Whole Grain Muffins, Dairy Free Muffins, Refined Sugar Free Muffins, Oat Muffins, Healthy Breakfast Muffins

I’m always sneaking vegetables into my food whenever possible. I love putting leafy greens such as kale in my smoothies, bell peppers and zucchini in my pasta dishes, and like in this case, carrots in baked treats.

These Healthy Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins with Walnuts are a delicious and nutritious breakfast or snack. They're packed with whole grains and are dairy-free and refined sugar-free.Try them with your morning coffee or pack them as a lunchbox treat for the kids. // www.littlechefbigappetite.com // Healthy Muffin Recipe, Whole Wheat Muffins, Whole Grain Muffins, Dairy Free Muffins, Refined Sugar Free Muffins, Oat Muffins, Healthy Breakfast Muffins

Good quality whole carrots have a delicious natural sweetness to them, making them great for baking. When carrots are cooked in a dry oven their natural sugars caramelize, lending a natural and healthier sweetness to whatever you’re making. That’s why in this Whole Wheat Carrot Muffin recipe I was able to get away with using less added sugar, which is always a win in my book!

These Healthy Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins with Walnuts are a delicious and nutritious breakfast or snack. They're packed with whole grains and are dairy-free and refined sugar-free.Try them with your morning coffee or pack them as a lunchbox treat for the kids. // www.littlechefbigappetite.com // Healthy Muffin Recipe, Whole Wheat Muffins, Whole Grain Muffins, Dairy Free Muffins, Refined Sugar Free Muffins, Oat Muffins, Healthy Breakfast Muffins

Since I am trying to limit the amount of dairy and added sugars I consume, I made these muffins completely dairy-free and refined sugar-free. For healthy swaps I used almond milk and coconut oil in place of milk and butter and honey instead of white table sugar.

These Healthy Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins with Walnuts are a delicious and nutritious breakfast or snack. They're packed with whole grains and are dairy-free and refined sugar-free.Try them with your morning coffee or pack them as a lunchbox treat for the kids. // www.littlechefbigappetite.com // Healthy Muffin Recipe, Whole Wheat Muffins, Whole Grain Muffins, Dairy Free Muffins, Refined Sugar Free Muffins, Oat Muffins, Healthy Breakfast Muffins

These Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins contain a healthy dose of whole grains and are delicious with your morning coffee or as a quick afternoon snack.

These Healthy Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins with Walnuts are a delicious and nutritious breakfast or snack. They're packed with whole grains and are dairy-free and refined sugar-free.Try them with your morning coffee or pack them as a lunchbox treat for the kids. // www.littlechefbigappetite.com // Healthy Muffin Recipe, Whole Wheat Muffins, Whole Grain Muffins, Dairy Free Muffins, Refined Sugar Free Muffins, Oat Muffins, Healthy Breakfast Muffins

If you’re a parent trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your kids’ diets, try these Carrot Muffins! And if you need to make them school allergy-friendly, you can easily leave out the walnuts.

These Healthy Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins with Walnuts are a delicious and nutritious breakfast or snack. They're packed with whole grains and are dairy-free and refined sugar-free.Try them with your morning coffee or pack them as a lunchbox treat for the kids. // www.littlechefbigappetite.com // Healthy Muffin Recipe, Whole Wheat Muffins, Whole Grain Muffins, Dairy Free Muffins, Refined Sugar Free Muffins, Oat Muffins, Healthy Breakfast Muffins

I hope you love these healthy Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins! Let me know in the comments below if you try them.

 

Healthy Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins with Walnuts {Dairy Free & No Refined Sugar}
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 12 muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oat flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted (can sub vegetable oil)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated orange zest (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ⅓ cup raisins (I used golden raisins)
  • ½ coarsely chopped walnuts + more for topping
  • Rolled oats for topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the white whole wheat flour, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk, honey, coconut oil, applesauce, egg, vanilla, and orange zest.
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to incorporate. Fold in the shredded carrots, raisins and ½ cup walnuts.
  5. Fill each muffin cup ¾ of the way with the batter and top each with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts and rolled oats. Bake the muffins for 13-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean. Let carrot muffins cool in the muffin pan for 10 minutes and then remove them from the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Store the muffins in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Notes
* To make oat flour, simply process rolled oats in a food processor or blender until they resemble sand.
 

Pin the recipe for later:

These Healthy Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins with Walnuts are a delicious and nutritious breakfast or snack. They're packed with whole grains and are dairy-free and refined sugar-free.Try them with your morning coffee or pack them as a lunchbox treat for the kids. // www.littlechefbigappetite.com // Healthy Muffin Recipe, Whole Wheat Muffins, Whole Grain Muffins, Dairy Free Muffins, Refined Sugar Free Muffins, Oat Muffins, Healthy Breakfast Muffins

Easy Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

At the beginning of the new year many people are trying to eat healthier and save money. After a long holiday season of indulgences and spending money on gifts for others, it’s understandable that so many of us are trying to cut back. There is a common misconception that eating healthy is expensive, and some people think it’s not a realistic option for their family given the price. I’m here to tell you that is simply not true, and there are many easy ways to eat healthy on a budget.

I love to live a healthy lifestyle, but I also am a thrifty shopper and I hate spending money unnecessarily. So over the years I’ve learned a bunch of tips that have helped me save A LOT of money on healthy foods, and in today’s post I’m going to share many of those easy tips with you.

Easy Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget // www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

Make a list before you go to the store.

That way you’ll buy exactly what you need and nothing you don’t. Impulse purchases add up! I swear by my list, and if I didn’t have it with me I’d likely forget so many items.

 

Meal plan around sale items.

Easy Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget // www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I’ve touched on this before in this post, but I always check the sales flyer for our local grocery store while I meal plan and before I go to the store. Most grocery stores publish their weekly sales flyer on their website, so it’s easy to find. I browse the flyer for what sounds interesting to me that week and and meal plan around those ingredients. For example, if a whole chicken is on sale, I might buy one to roast that night for dinner and the following night I’d use the leftover chicken in a soup. Extra points if you can use one ingredient in two meals! The sales flyer can also be good inspiration if you’re not feeling very creative that week.

 

Buy in bulk.

I don’t want you to think that you need to buy all of your groceries at Costco or Sam’s Club because for some people that really is not practical. You may overbuy just because you think something is a good deal and end up wasting food. I’m just shopping for two people, so the only things I buy in bulk are foods that I know we’ll go through quickly or are non-perishable and will last a long time. Here are a few suggestions of where to buy in bulk:

Costco

Some of the foods we love to buy at Costco are: organic spinach, bananas, extra-virgin olive oil, ground cinnamon, and Dave’s Killer Bread (the package comes with 2 loaves, so I freeze the second one to use at a later time).

Sizzlefish

Easy Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget // www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Sizzlefish ships individual portions of top-quality fish (mostly wild-caught) direct to consumer. The fish is flash-frozen and vacuum sealed within days of being caught, so once it’s defrosted it tastes just as fresh as non-frozen fish. The best part is that the fish is VERY reasonably priced, and shipping is free! If you’re a regular fish eater, I highly recommend this service. If you’ve never tried Sizzlefish before, you can use the code Take5 for 5% off your first order.

Amazon Subscribe and Save

Did you know that for many items on Amazon you can set up a subscription for products you buy and use regularly? All you have to do is select the quantity and schedule that works for you (from monthly deliveries to a delivery every 6 months). Depending on the number of subscriptions you have, Amazon will apply a 5-15% discount on your subscribed items. We have subscriptions set up for some pantry staples that we eat a lot of, such as Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats and Justin’s Maple Almond Butter. By subscribing on Amazon, we save almost $4 per jar of almond butter!

 

Check the unit price.

Easy Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget // www.littlechefbigappetite.com

This tip is SO important! In addition to the item price, most grocery stores will also list the unit price (or price per ounce) on the price tag. Always look at this. It will help you determine which of two different sized products is the better value.

 

Shop the bulk bins.

Many grocery stores have a bulk bin section where you can buy the exact amount of grains, nuts, dried beans, etc. that you need. This is a great way to try new health foods without committing to a big bag. For example, if your recipe only calls for 1/4 cup dried chickpeas and you don’t think you’d ever use an entire bag, you can instead buy the exact amount you need from the bulk bins to save money and avoid waste.

 

Buy the generic (store) brand.

If you’re not picky about a particular brand, buy the generic (i.e. store) brand whenever possible. So many store brand products are just as good as brand names, and they’re usually cheaper. Kirkland from Costco, 365 from Whole Fooods, and even Gold Emblem from CVS are great brands who most often use good quality, healthy ingredients in their products. In many cases when you’re using canned foods such as crushed tomatoes or beans, you really can’t tell the difference.

 

Be creative about where you shop.

I always check the food aisle at CVS when I’m there to pick up cleaning supplies or prescriptions. Their sale prices on pantry items like nuts, protein bars, and dried fruit are fantastic! Don’t be afraid to shop around and price check at various stores.

 

Use an Herb Keeper.

Cuisipro Herb Keeper

Image Source

It stinks to buy a bunch of fresh herbs only to find them going bad five days later. An herb keeper will make your fresh herbs last SO much longer in the fridge. I’ve had this one for five years and I’ve saved so much money by using it.

 

Buy frozen fruits and vegetables.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh produce, but they’re often less expensive. They are “flash frozen” at peak ripeness when their nutrients are at an all-time high. Frozen berries can be defrosted quickly to use in cereal, yogurt, or pancakes and frozen vegetables are an easy, healthy side dish to any meal.

 

Use your freezer.

Wasted food is money down the toilet. Be smart about how you use your freezer. If you have leftovers that you can’t finish fast enough, freeze them to eat at a later date. When you come home starving one night, you’ll thank yourself that you did this. If you have very ripe fruit that’s on the verge of going bad, peel and chop it and put it in freezer-safe ziploc bags. You can use the frozen fruit in smoothies later on. The same goes for bread, pesto, cakes, and so much more. Don’t let good food go to waste — freeze it.

 

Pack your lunch.

Buying lunch every day can add up quickly. Just by packing your lunch for work or school you can save a lot of money. Either bring leftovers from dinner the night before, or pack something that’s easy to throw together in the morning like a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread. Try to pack healthy meals that you’re excited about eating so that you don’t feel inclined to buy lunch during the day.

Are you a coffee drinker? Make your coffee at home and bring it with you in a thermos rather than spend $3 per day on a Starbucks coffee or latte. Invest in a good coffee maker and coffee beans and you’ll save a lot of money going forward.

 

Keep your fridge, freezer, and pantry organized.

Easy Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget // www.littlechefbigappetite.com

image source

If you pile food on top of each other in the pantry and shove leftovers to the back of the fridge it will be easy to forget what you have. Keep everything organized and take inventory of what you have before you go to the store so that you’re not buying unnecessarily. Try to incorporate what you already have into a meal rather than buy something new.

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I hope you found this post helpful and hopefully you learned some easy ways to eat healthy on a budget! If you want to save this post to reference later, you can PIN IT for later.

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase one of these products I may earn a small commission. That money goes directly towards new recipe and blog post development. Thank you for your support!

 

What I’m Loving Lately – December 2017

Hey there! I hope you’re having a great holiday week and soaking up the time with family and friends. We’ve been here in NYC, but today we’re driving down to Philadelphia to meet up with our friends Kyle and Kelly. They live in Los Angeles, but we all went to college together at the University of Pennsylvania, so we thought it would be fun to meet in Philly now that we all no longer live in the same city. Fun fact: Kyle actually officiated our wedding and Kelly and I were bridesmaids in each other’s weddings, so it goes without saying that we love spending time together and are really looking forward to the next couple of days!

Before we jump in the car, I wanted to pop in and share my monthly list of What I’m Loving Lately.

 

2017

2017 collage

Am I cheating here by including an entire year on the list? Well, as this year comes to a close, I would be remiss not to mention how incredible / crazy / scary / life-changing 2017 has been. From quitting my job, to traveling throughout Europe for two months, marrying Travis, honeymooning in Greece, and moving from Los Angeles to NYC, it’s been NONSTOP change and excitement. There have been really happy times, and some nerve-racking, unpredictable times, but in the end I am so happy with every decision that Travis and I made together. I am not sure if anything can top 2017 (or if I want it to!), so I’m looking forward to a slower-paced 2018 as we settle into our new life in New York.

 

Wall Mounted Spice Rack

Wall Mounted Spice Rack

One of the biggest challenges of moving into our new apartment in New York City was finding space to store everything! We definitely downgraded in size from our last apartment in Santa Monica, so it was a big adjustment for us, especially when it came to organizing the kitchen. I found this fantastic spice rack on Amazon, and it’s been a big lifesaver for us. We hung it on the wall near our stove, so all of the spices are in easy access when I’m cooking. I also love that it doesn’t take up precious counter space like many other space racks we looked at. The exact one that we have is no longer available on Amazon, but this one is very similar.

 

Doctor Kracker

Doctor Kracker Seedlander Crackers

My mom is the one who introduced me to these crackers, and I’m hooked! It’s hard to find a good whole grain cracker that doesn’t taste like cardboard, and so many of the ones that actually taste good have so much extra junk in them! These Doctor Kracker seeded crackers are so tasty, and very addicting. The brand isn’t that easy to find around us, so when my mom visited she brought me five boxes (she’s the best). You should be on the lookout for them the next time you go grocery shopping. They taste delicious with hummus or cheese and even on their own.

 

Me & My Big Ideas Planner

I just purchased my second Me & My Big Ideas Planner for 2018, and I love it more than ever. This planner is a less expensive version than the Erin Condren Life Planner, but with so many of the same features. Each day is split into three sections that I use to schedule my morning, afternoon and night. I use this planner to write down everything from blogging tasks, personal to-dos and appointments, and social activities. I also use it to plan our meals for the week and sometimes to schedule my workouts.

I love being organized, and even more so I love the feeling of crossing something off of a to-do list, so this planner makes me feel totally on top of things. If you’re trying to be better organized in the new year, I HIGHLY recommend this planner. Make sure you browse the different style options on Amazon to pick your favorite design.

 

Recipes I’ve been loving lately:

Homemade Whole Wheat Bagels (I made these last weekend with the Trader Joe’s Everything Seasoning, and they were SO good!)

Barramundi in Tomato Basil White Wine Sauce

Bourbon Salmon with Pecans from Sarah at Champagne Tastes (This is one of my new favorite salmon recipes!)

 

Wishing you all a very happy new year, and I’ll see you in 2018! (Wow, that’s weird to say…)

 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you purchase one of these product I may earn a small commission. That money goes directly towards new recipe and blog post development. Thank you for your support!

Part Three: Our Honeymoon in Santorini, Greece

Today’s post is about the final stop of our honeymoon in Santorini, Greece! If you missed my previous honeymoon posts you can read them here: Part I: Athens and Part II: Mykonos.

Alright, let’s jump in!

We traveled from Mykonos to Santorini on the Hellenic Seaways Highspeed 7. The Highspeed 7 is very comfortable and travels much faster than other boats and ferries that make the same trip. The trip takes about two and a half hours, and at the time that we booked, it was a good amount less expensive than flying between the islands. If you choose to take the Highspeed 7, I have a few tips for you before you go.

  1. Have your hotel call the port to see if the boat is on time. When we arrived at the port, we learned that our boat was going to be at least 40 minutes late, so we ended up having to stand outside in the heat with all of our luggage for over 90 minutes to wait to board the boat. There was no online system to check (like there are for flights), so we had no way of knowing about the delay until we arrived. There was an indoor waiting room, but it was already packed with other travelers. If we traveled by boat again, I’d have our hotel call the port ahead of time to confirm whether or not things are on schedule.
  2. Also different from American flights, there is no system or order used to board the Hellenic Seaways. When the boat docks and the gate comes down, everyone is allowed to storm on all at once with their rolling suitcases and strollers. If you’re traveling with kids or anyone elderly, be careful, because it is not a smooth process.
  3. The seats are all above deck, but passengers have to leave large suitcases downstairs in an open area. I’d suggest bringing a small baggage lock with you to protect anything you keep downstairs, and take anything very valuable with you to your seat. We had nothing stolen, but you can never be too safe.

Where We Stayed:

When we arrived at the port in Santorini, a shuttle arranged by our hotel picked us up and drove us to the Volcano View Hotel in Fira, our home for the next six nights. We chose the Volcano View because it received great reviews online, and guests all seemed to comment on the fantastic food and gorgeous views.  Our room was simple and modestly decorated, but the view of the ocean and caldera from our little balcony was breathtaking.

Our first night we had dinner at the hotel and and Travis and I were both blown away by how delicious everything was. We were happy to know that we wouldn’t have to travel far to get a great meal over the course of our stay at the hotel.

Like our hotels in Athens and Mykonos, the Volcano View also offered a complimentary Greek breakfast buffet every morning, which we made sure to take full advantage of. They had a wide variety of breads, fruit, pastries, eggs, and more, so there really was something for everyone.  Breakfast was enjoyed on an outdoor patio overlooking the ocean, and it was a beautiful, peaceful way to start each day.

The hotel also offered a complimentary shuttle to and from Fira town (where the majority of shops and restaurants are), and it operated about every two hours or so. This was helpful, as the walk from the hotel was about thirty minutes, and there was no shade to protect you from the sun.

 

What We Did:

Santorini Sailing with Ted

We LOVED our Santorini Sailing experience! We chose the semi-private Blue Lagoon sunset tour, and similar to our boat trip in Mykonos, we were one of three couples on the boat. However, this boat was much larger than the one we were on in Mykonos, and there were three staff members dedicated to just the six of us. The tour was about five hours long and included stops at two swimming spots, an all you can eat and drink (beer and wine) Greek dinner, and an amazing view of the sunset from the water. The Santorini Sailing team was SO professional and made us feel very safe onboard. The dinner consisted of vegetables, pasta, poultry, and seafood, and was very impressive (especially considering it was cooked on the boat!). I highly, highly recommend this excursion.

 

Watch the Sunset

Most people would say that the best sunsets in Santorini are in Oia, but I honestly think you’d be in awe by the sunset everywhere on the island. Whether we were at a restaurant or just in our hotel room, not a night went by that we didn’t stop and stare at the sky as the sun was setting. They truly were the most spectacular sunsets we’d ever seen.

 

Rent an ATV

ATVs are such a fun way to get around the island, and they’re less expensive and easier to park than a car. You can rent them all over Santorini, but the Volcano View concierge helped us coordinate with one company that delivered the ATV to our hotel. We drove our ATV from Fira to Oia one day, which took about 25 minutes. I let Travis handle the driving, so I just sat behind him and held on tight. Don’t forget sunblock and make sure to wear your helmet! Locals drive fast and there are lots of winding turns.

 

Visit Domaine Sigalas Winery

Our friends Kyle and Kelly also honeymooned in Santorini, and they spoke so highly of Domaine Sigalas, so we stopped there on our way back from Oia. Travis and I split one wine tasting, and we both loved the wines. We’ve done a lot of wine tasting throughout California, but the wines at Domaine Sigalas are really special. They don’t distribute widely throughout the United States, otherwise I would buy their white wines regularly. If you’re a wine lover, visit Domaine Sigalas.

 

Santorini Wine Adventures Small Group Wine Tasting Tour

We also attended the Santorini Wine Adventures small group tour and had a blast! This time we were one of four couples, and our tour was led by Dimitris, who was extremely knowledgeable about Santorini vineyards and Greek winemaking. The tour included transportation to and from our hotel, tours and tastings at three different wineries (I believe we tasted at least 15 wines), and food pairings. It lasted about five hours, but we felt like it flew by because we were having so much fun and learned a lot. I would absolutely do this tour again if I went back to Santorini.

 

Where We Ate:

The Caldera Restaurant

The Caldera Restaurant was the main restaurant in our hotel. Because the food was so fantastic, we really didn’t eat out at other restaurants much. It’s absolutely worth a visit if you’re in Santorini. I highly recommend the salmon and fava bean dip.

 

Cava Alta

Cava Alta was one of our favorite restaurants of our entire honeymoon. We loved it so much that we went back a second time for lunch on our final day. The food is phenomenal, but the restaurant is so unassuming and reasonably priced. We actually hadn’t read about it anywhere, but one of the couples we met on our Mykonos boat tour had recommended it to us.

Make sure to get the tomato fritters (I regret not asking for the recipe!), fresh pasta, and lamb shank.

Cava Alta in Pyrgos...Our Honeymoon in Santorini, Greece: Details and Tips about where to stay, what to do, where to eat, and where to enjoy fantastic Greek wine! // www.littlechefbigappetite.com // Honeymoon in Greece, Greek Honeymoon, Greek Vacation, Greece Travel Tips, Santorini Travel, Santorini Restaurants, Santorini Dining, Greek Wine

 

Volcano Blue 

Volcano Blue is in Fira, and overlooks the ocean and volcano. For the best view, sit upstairs if it’s available. The menu features a variety of Greek specialties, so we decided to order a few smaller items to share so we could sample more of the menu. The eggplant and sundried tomato starter is fantastic!

 

Yogi’s Gyros

If you’re in Fira and looking for a good gyro (Greek-style sandwich in a pita), go to Yogi’s…or get it delivered! That’s right — they will deliver to your hotel! Now before you laugh at us for being the ultimate millennials and getting delivery on our honeymoon, let me explain.

Our Honeymoon in Santorini, Greece: Details and Tips about where to stay, what to do, where to eat, and where to enjoy fantastic Greek wine! // www.littlechefbigappetite.com // Honeymoon in Greece, Greek Honeymoon, Greek Vacation, Greece Travel Tips, Santorini Travel, Santorini Restaurants, Santorini Dining, Greek Wine

On the second night we were in Santorini there was a celebratory firework performance scheduled by the caldera in the ocean. The majority of restaurants with views of the fireworks were already booked or featuring expensive fixed-price menus, so we decided to just watch the fireworks from our hotel room patio, which we already knew had an amazing view. We’d read that Yogi’s Gyros were great, so we called to see if they would deliver, and they did! In the end we only spent about ten Euros on our (ridiculously delicious) gyros and had a fantastic view of the fireworks in our comfy clothes and slippers. It ended up feeling so special and I’m sure we’ll remember it for a long time to come.

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I hope you enjoyed reading about our honeymoon in Greece! I loved sharing these photos and details with you because it allowed me to reminisce…and start thinking about how soon we can go back!

I finally have our wedding photos back, so I’ll have to start going through those and share a full wedding recap with you guys. Thanks for stopping by the blog today!

 

 

 

 

Holiday Spiced Pecans

I first tried these Spiced Pecans when my mom made them a few years ago. She got the recipe from our favorite cookbook: America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. My family swears by the America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks and recipes — they’re foolproof! In fact, if you’re looking for a good holiday gift for the foodie or cook in your life, I highly recommend their Family Cookbook or New Best Recipe Cookbook. I’ve used both extensively over the last six years and honestly love every recipe!

These Holiday Spiced Pecans are a delicious snack for guests to munch on before dinner! Or put some in a baggie and tie it up with ribbon to give as a gift. They're vegetarian, gluten-free and refined sugar free. ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

For these Spiced Pecans, I used the original ATK recipe as inspiration and made a few tweaks to make them a bit healthier. Most importantly, I used unrefined coconut sugar in place of refined white sugar. As a reminder, refined sugar has no nutritional value and is very processed (think regular old white sugar you put in coffee), while unrefined sugar retains much more of sugar’s natural nutrients such as calcium and iron. I love baking with coconut sugar because it’s unrefined and it tastes just like regular ol’ sugar. You can find coconut sugar in most grocery stores, and usually you can get it inexpensively from places like Costco or Amazon. These pecans work best with superfine sugar, so I’d recommend pulsing the coconut sugar in the food processor for 10-15 seconds until it becomes fine.

These Holiday Spiced Pecans are a delicious snack for guests to munch on before dinner! Or put some in a baggie and tie it up with ribbon to give as a gift. They're vegetarian, gluten-free and refined sugar free. ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

These Spiced Pecans scream holiday season to me! They’re an easy snack to munch on at a holiday event with a festive drink in your other hand. I also think they’d be a fun holiday gift to give to neighbors or coworkers. Just place about one heaping cup of spiced pecan halves in a clear treat bag (like these) and tie it up with a colorful ribbon.

These Holiday Spiced Pecans are a delicious snack for guests to munch on before dinner! Or put some in a baggie and tie it up with ribbon to give as a gift. They're vegetarian, gluten-free and refined sugar free. ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

But honestly, I won’t blame you if you save them all for yourself. One pound of pecans may seem like a lot, but you’ll be shocked by how quickly they go! In case you’re a bargain hunter like I am, I recommend buying a two pound bag of pecan halves from Costco for this recipe. Nuts can be expensive, but Costco always has them for reasonable prices (and FYI — they’re less expensive in store than they are online.)

These Holiday Spiced Pecans are a delicious snack for guests to munch on before dinner! Or put some in a baggie and tie it up with ribbon to give as a gift. They're vegetarian, gluten-free and refined sugar free. ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Happy holiday season to you and your family!

 

Holiday Spiced Pecans
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 1 lb. nuts
Ingredients
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound pecan halves, raw and unsalted
  • ⅓ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (regular, not smoked)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white, water, and salt. Add the pecans and toss in the egg white mixture to coat. Drain the nuts in a colander for five minutes and wipe out the bowl with a paper towel. Return the nuts to the large bowl.
  3. Place the coconut sugar in a mini blender and blend for 10-15 seconds, until the sugar is very fine. Mix the blended coconut sugar in a small bowl with the cumin, paprika, and cayenne. Add the spice mixture to the large bowl with the nuts and toss to coat thoroughly. Spread the nuts onto the parchment-lined baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 50 minutes, stirring the nuts and rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the nuts to cool completely on the baking sheet, 20-25 minutes. Break apart and store in an airtight container.
Notes
*Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen.
 

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Part Two: Our Honeymoon in Mykonos, Greece

Hey hey! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving last week! I was in Maine celebrating with my family, and it felt so nice to be able to drive to Thanksgiving this year, rather than fly. I love living on the same coast as my family!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Today’s post is all about our honeymoon in Mykonos, Greece. If you missed part one about the two days we spent in Athens, you can click here to read the post.

We traveled from Athens to Mykonos on a teeny tiny Olympic Air plane. I’m not typically scared of flying, but I’ll admit that small planes like we flew here make me nervous. Luckily, we were only in the air for about 30 minutes, so I wasn’t nervous for too long. The carriers who fly between the Greek islands are typically low cost, which means that if you don’t care to select your seat and only have carry-on luggage, then your ticket could potentially be very inexpensive. We wanted to sit next to each other and we each had one large suitcase to check, so we paid additional fees for those upgrades, but the cost was still relatively cheap (about $70 USD per person).

 

Where We Stayed:

When we arrived at the Mykonos airport we were picked up by our hotel’s complimentary shuttle. We stayed at the Mykonos Bay Hotel for six nights. We chose the Mykonos Bay Hotel because it was one of the very few hotels we found that had direct access to the beach, a swimming pool, and a close proximity to Mykonos Town.

When we first arrived we were put in a guest room next to the hotel’s laundry room, which was extremely noisy. We immediately knew that if we wanted to enjoy our time in Mykonos and get any quiet time, then we’d have to find a different room. After speaking with management, they were able to switch us to a beautiful guest suite with a private jacuzzi for our first night and then move us to a sea view room located far away from the laundry room for our remaining nights.

We were very grateful that they were able to accommodate the change, but if you do stay at the Mykonos Bay Hotel, make sure to request a room away from the laundry facilities. I also highly recommend upgrading to a sea view room. You’ll love opening your doors to this view every morning!

The guest rooms at the Mykonos Bay Hotel are pristine white (classic Greek style) and modern. Just like most European hotels, the rooms are small, but still very comfortable. I particularly loved the rain shower, fluffy robes, and slippers in our room. Also, each room is equipped with a Nespresso machine, which comes in handy if you are experiencing jet lag or just need a mid-day pick-me-up.

The hotel also offered an incredible complimentary Greek buffet breakfast daily.

The options were endless: dozens of artisan breads and crackers, a rotating selection of traditional Greek pastries (I may or may not have had baklava every morning…), pancakes, sausage, granola, Greek yogurt, eggs, nuts, cheese, fresh fruit, coffee, tea, and so much more. We made sure to fill up our plates each morning to start the day on the right foot.

Since we had just come from a crazy week of wedding celebrations, we decided to take a few afternoons to just relax, and laid on the beach chairs with our books. I went through two books in four days!

 

How We Got Around:

Because our hotel was so close to Mykonos Town, we were able to walk there daily to eat and shop. I highly recommend staying in a hotel that is walkable from Mykonos Town because you’ll be able to do so much more by foot. The streets in Mykonos are very narrow and there are no sidewalks, so walking can be especially dangerous at night. If you do walk on the streets at night, wear light colored clothing and constantly be on the lookout for oncoming traffic.

You can rent a car, ATV, or scooter; however, parking a car is sometimes difficult and maneuvering around other (crazy) drivers on an ATV or scooter isn’t the easiest. We chose to rent a car for one day just to explore other parts of the island, but in the end we decided it was too stressful to drive on the old and narrow streets. We likely wouldn’t do it again.

Taxis in Mykonos are very expensive because there are so few of them, yet there are many tourists looking for rides. A five minute taxi ride could easily cost you 20 Euros, so keep that in mind before taking one. Many hotels offer complimentary shuttles to and from Mykonos Town, which is another great thing to look for when selecting a hotel. Some shuttles operate on a schedule and others, like our hotel, are available whenever you call for them.

There is also a bus system in Mykonos that appeared to be very popular, but we didn’t use it. It has many routes and seemed relatively inexpensive, so that is certainly another option to get around the island.

 

What We Did:

Walk around Mykonos Town

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Exploring Mykonos Town is SO much fun! The cobblestone streets are filled with fantastic restaurants, clothing and accessory shops, and souvenirs. When they were constructed many, many years ago, the streets were intentionally designed like a maze to confuse pirates. I loved getting lost in the maze of streets because every turn we took we stumbled upon something new we hadn’t seen the previous day.

 

Watch the Sunset

The sunsets in Greece are undeniably gorgeous. We spent some evenings watching the sunset from our hotel porch and other nights watching it along the beach in Mykonos Town. Pro tip: you can buy a bottle of beer (or in my case bottle of prosecco) from a shop in Mykonos Town and carry it with you to watch the sunset. The shop we purchased from even opened the bottles for us!

 

Mykonos Sailing with Artemis

If you do one excursion in Mykonos, make sure it’s this sailing trip. We had SO. MUCH. FUN!

Artemis operates two daily sailing trips from his personal sail boat – one in the afternoon and one at sunset. We chose the 5 hour afternoon trip and were among a small group of three other couples, so eight passengers total. We really lucked out because the other couples on our trip were a blast to hang out with and we all hit it off right away. (We even keep in touch on social media now!)

The boat makes two swimming stops and the trip includes an all you can eat and drink (beer and wine) Greek meal. Artemis cooked an INCREDIBLE Greek feast by himself on the boat. We were amazed what he could whip up using a small portable grill and sailboat kitchen. He’s a pro sailer and cook!

I really can’t recommend this sailing trip enough!

 

Where We Ate:

Vergera

Vergera is a great little cafe right on the water at the edge of Mykonos Town. We loved the chicken kebabs and grilled vegetables.

 

Kastros

We loved Kastros so much that we went there twice throughout our six day stay. It’s located in Little Venice, overlooking the water and sunset. We made early dinner reservations both nights so we could watch the sunset while we ate. Everything on the menu is fantastic, so you really can’t go wrong!

 

M-eating

If you’re looking for an upscale meal that will impress you, go to M-eating.  The presentation and flavors were fantastic. We loved sitting on the porch that overlooks the hustle and bustle of Mykonos Town, so try to get a seat outside if you can.

 

Pepper Souvlaki

Pepper has THE BEST chicken souvlaki sandwiches. They even have whole grain pitas available, which was an extra win for us. Each giant sandwich was less than 4 euros, so it was by far our cheapest meal on the island. Travis loved these pita sandwiches so much that one night he had one after we had already eaten dinner. He just couldn’t leave Mykonos without having a Pepper souvlaki sandwich one last time!

 

Keep Reading…

Part Three: Our Honeymoon in Santorini

Part One: Our Honeymoon in Athens, Greece

Here we are one month after returning from our honeymoon in Greece and I am finally getting around to tell you guys about it! As you know, life has been a tad bit crazy for us with our cross-country move last month, but I was able to go through and edit all of our honeymoon photos this weekend so I feel much more caught up.

I brought my DSLR camera with us on our honeymoon, but I ended up leaving it in the room for the majority of our vacation for two reasons. #1: It was really hot in Greece in September, and lugging a heavy camera around just wasn’t very comfortable. And #2: I consciously tried to be fully present throughout our honeymoon, and sometimes spending time setting up the “perfect” shot prevents you from doing that, you know? It was a lot easier to keep my iPhone in my small cross-body purse and pull it out quickly if I wanted to capture something. So that was my long way of explaining why the majority of the photos that I’m going to share from our honeymoon actually came from my phone (although I am wishing the iPhone X was out at that time…have you seen that picture quality!?).

Read all about our Honeymoon in Athens! Where we stayed, what we did and where we ate. ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

You may want to know: how did we select Greece as our honeymoon destination? Travis and I both always wanted to go to Greece, so we considered it along with Southern Italy for our honeymoon. We wanted a honeymoon that included delicious food and wine (duh!), and a mix of sightseeing and beaches. In the end, we selected Greece because we found a ridiculous flight deal that we could not pass up. Normally, Travis and I spend a long time researching our future vacation destinations, but when we were alerted to the flight deal, we ended up booking our flights to Greece that same night! It was pretty spontaneous and out of the norm for us, but with roundtrip flights to and from Athens for less than $500 per person, we knew we’d have a good amount of flexibility in our budget for hotels, activities, and meals.

Per the suggestion of a few of our friends, we only spent two days at the beginning of our trip in Athens, and allocated our remaining time to the Greek islands. To keep things organized (and to prevent this from being 50,000 words), I’ve decided to break up my honeymoon recap into three posts: Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini. So in today’s post I’ll share highlights from our brief time in Athens including where we stayed, what we did, and where we ate. If you’re also planning a honeymoon in Athens (or Mykonos and Santorini) I hope you’ll find these posts helpful, and feel free to reach out to me with additional questions.

 

Where We Stayed:

Read all about our Honeymoon in Athens! Where we stayed, what we did and where we ate. ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

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We stayed at the Amalia Hotel in Syntagma Square for three nights. We booked the hotel because it is located right in the heart of Athens, and it’s walkable from all of the main tourist sites and many fantastic restaurants. We were welcomed to our room with a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine and fruit platter, which was very appreciated after a long day of traveling. The hotel and guests rooms are modest in appearance, but very comfortable. We had no problem falling asleep in our queen-sized bed at night and greatly enjoyed the view of the National Garden from our balcony.

Like most hotels in Greece, the Amalia offers a complimentary breakfast buffet. Given that the breakfast was included in the room rate, our expectations of it were fairly low, but we ended up being pleasantly surprised by how delicious it was. There were so many different selections of bread, eggs, breakfast pastries, cereals, jams, and more. It was so helpful to be able to fill up with a hearty breakfast and plenty of coffee before sightseeing both days.

Read all about our Honeymoon in Athens! Where we stayed, what we did and where we ate. ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

If you’re looking for a well-located and reasonably priced hotel in Athens, I highly recommend the Amalia Hotel. All of the activities and restaurants that I mention below were walkable from the hotel, and the only time we took a cab was to travel to and from the Athens airport.

 

What We Did:

Panathenaic Stadium

The Panathenaic Stadium is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Athens. It was built in 330 B.C. for the Panathenaic games, and it is the only stadium in the world made entirely out of marble! It was refurbished in the late 1800’s and hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896!

Read all about our Honeymoon in Athens! Where we stayed, what we did and where we ate. ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

We loved climbing our way to the very top of the stadium because the view looking down was incredible. Make sure to take the free audio guide tour because there aren’t many signs within the stadium, so the audio guide explains everything you see along the way. If you’re feeling up for it, you can even run a lap or two around the track (seriously, you can!).

Pro tip: Wear shoes with good traction and be EXTRA careful if you’re visiting after a rainfall. The marble steps are extremely slippery, and I took a tumble down some steps even wearing sneakers.

 

Tour the Acropolis

The Acropolis is an ancient fortified area located on top of a rocky hill in Athens. It contains many historically significant buildings, the most famous of which is the Parthenon. Visiting the Acropolis was a must-do on our list, and it was amazing to finally see it in person. I tried to remember everything I could from my 7th grade ancient history lessons, but I honestly wished that I’d done a little refresher before visiting. There are many guided tours available, which we likely would have done if we had more time.

Read all about our Honeymoon in Athens! Where we stayed, what we did and where we ate. ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Depending on what time of year you go, the Acropolis can get very hot, so make sure you wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Also, you’ll be walking up rocky, steep hills throughout your tour, so I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to wear sneakers or hiking shoes.

 

Walk Through the National Garden

Our hotel was located just a short three minute walk away from the National Garden, so we spent our second morning wandering through its beautiful maze-like twists and turns. You really can’t take a wrong turn in the National Garden because every corner has something new to explore, and there are so many amazing photo-ops. There is even a small zoo inside, which is great if you’re traveling with kids.

 

Visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus

Read all about our Honeymoon in Athens! Where we stayed, what we did and where we ate. ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

The Temple of Olympian Zeus was an ancient Greek Temple dedicated to Zeus. Construction of the temple began in 470 BCE and what we are standing in front of in the photo above still exists today. You really have to visit in person to understand how incredible (and enormous!!) this temple is. Our Acropolis tickets included entrance to this site, but I’d say you don’t need more than 20 minutes here.

 

Where We Ate:

Ergon

Ergon was an adorable outdoor café located down the street from our hotel, and the meal we had there our first night really hit the spot after 14+ hours of traveling! We devoured every slice of bread in that bread basket with a variety of Greek dips, and we shared a small grilled whole fish for our entrée. The flavors were simple, yet totally authentic.

 

Mono

Mono was one of our favorite meals of our entire honeymoon. When we made our 7PM reservation, we felt lucky to get a good time slot considering how popular we’d heard the restaurant was. It turns out that NO ONE in Athens eats as “early” as 7PM, so we had the place to ourselves for our whole meal. Needless to say, we had fantastic service given that we were their only customers, ha!

For our meal we shared an amazing Peloponnesian white wine, a Greek salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, homemade croutons and balsamic, and moussaka for our entrée. We were very impressed by both dishes, and no bite was left untouched.

 

Avocado

Avocado is a vegetarian café located right outside of Syntagma Square. The menu has an emphasis on clean, healthy, plant-based dishes, and reminded me of something I would see in Los Angeles. Travis and I shared a fresh-pressed green juice, (a giant serving of) avocado hummus and pita, and a salad. The menu is pretty extensive, so if we were staying longer I would have liked to try more of it.

 

Athinaikon

Read all about our Honeymoon in Athens! Where we stayed, what we did and where we ate. ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Image Source

We went to Athinaikon on our last night in Athens, after window shopping at the hundreds of stores in Syntagma Square. For our meal we shared a whole fish, grilled vegetables and the house white wine. One thing we noticed throughout our time in Greece is that the house wine at most restaurants is very good! It’s served in a carafe and usually offered in a 500ml portion, which is about 2/3 a full bottle of wine. It’s a great option if you don’t want a full bottle and don’t want to spend a lot of money. For the most part, we found that a 500ml carafe of house wine was only around 5 to 6 euros (about $7 USD)!

 

Keep Reading…

Part Two: Mykonos

Part Three: Santorini

 

 

 

What I’m Loving Lately: November 2017

You guys, I just realized that my last monthly “What I’m Loving Lately” post was from JULY! Where the heck has time gone!?

When I look back on the last three months, it’s crazy to think about how much has happened. Let’s recap: I decided to spend the last few weeks of August (right before our wedding) with my parents in Maine. I had numerous wedding-related appointments on the east coast, so it didn’t make sense to fly back and forth from Los Angeles multiple times. Travis and I were married in Boston at the beginning of September, and spent the following two weeks honeymooning in Greece. When we arrived back home in Los Angeles at the end of September, we immediately started looking for an apartment in NYC (remotely) and packing up our apartment. It took us longer than we would have liked to find an apartment, so ultimately Travis had to fly to New York to start his new job, while I finished packing in Los Angeles and handling all of the little details that go into a cross-country move. So needless to say, the last three months really have been a whirlwind.

I am relieved that we finally found a (great!) apartment in NYC and got here smoothly. I just wish our movers would get here already with all of our boxes and furniture from Los Angeles. Even though we aren’t totally settled here yet, there are still plenty of things I’m loving, so let’s get this monthly series back on track, shall we!?

 

Our New Apartment (and Location!)

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When looking for an apartment in NYC we had a lot of must-have criteria on our list. Since I spend a heck of a lot of time in the kitchen, we needed a place with a gas stove, a good amount of counter space, and lots of cabinets and storage. We also wanted a large(ish) living space because we love hosting dinners and get togethers with friends. And finally, we wanted to be near some sort of park for Bessie because we were worried how she would adjust to the “Concrete Jungle” after being surrounded by greenery in Santa Monica. It’s fairly well known that our three main criteria: a large kitchen, large living area, and close proximity to a park are generally pretty hard to find in NYC, unless you’re ready to spend $$$$. Well, thanks to Travis, we somehow managed to find all three, and I feel extremely lucky. In addition to being close to Central Park, we’re also walking distance from multiple train lines, a Whole Foods, a TJ Maxx and HomeGoods (my jam!), pharmacies, a veterinarian, and basically everything else we could ever need. Once we’re all unpacked and the apartment is furnished, I think we’re going to feel great.

 

Whole Foods Sales Flyer

I am a big bargain hunter (hence my love for TJ Maxx and HomeGoods), so even though I love shopping at Whole Foods, I also try to make sure we buy products that are on sale. Did you know that Whole Foods publishes a sales flyer on their website every week? You can filter by your specific store to see what’s on sale in your area. The sales are updated on Wednesdays, so I like to check the flyer that morning to see what’s on sale for the week, and I often plan our dinners around some of those items. For example, if I see that wild salmon is on sale (something that’s usually pretty pricey), I’ll make sure to incorporate salmon into our dinner plan that week. It’s a really helpful tool if you didn’t know about it before.

 

Easy Storage Collapsable Dish Rack

I recently bought this collapsable dish rack for our kitchen and am so happy with it so far. It takes up very little space on our counter, and I love the idea of being able to collapse and hide the dish rack when we have company over or just need more counter space. Despite its small size this dish rack is pretty deep, so it’s able to hold multiple bowls, cups and cooking utensils at one time. If you have a small kitchen, I highly recommend this one!

 

Siete Grain-Free Tortilla Chips

After Travis took his Pinnertest and learned that he’s intolerant to corn, he’s been trying to eat as little of it as possible, which doesn’t exactly pan out well for his tortilla chip obsession. I’d heard a lot of good things from other bloggers about the Siete Grain-Free Tortilla Chips, so I grabbed a bag at Whole Foods last week and we flew threw it in two days! Siete chips are made with cassava flour (cassava is a root vegetable) and only real, good ingredients. After one bite, we were both hooked! These chips have a delicious salty flavor and that perfect tortilla chip crunch. They’re seriously addicting!

 

Joseph Joseph Slotted Turner

Isn’t it funny how the smallest invention can make you so happy? That’s how I feel about the Joseph Joseph spatulas. There’s a built in elevated rest that keeps the main portion of the spatula off the counter, reducing mess that would otherwise be created by letting it rest flat on the counter. I love these spatulas so much that now own three! So many spatulas start to peel or wear over time, and these don’t. Our longest lasting Joseph Joseph spatula is going on 6+ years now. We’ve used it almost daily, and it’s been run through the dishwasher hundreds of times with no problems. It’s perfect for flipping everything from roasted vegetables, pancakes, fish, and chicken. This is one of my most-loved small kitchen tools and you can find it for less than $10 at Target!

 

Barramundi in Parchment with Lemons, Dates and Toasted Almonds

This recipe is sponsored by Australis Barramundi. I am a longtime customer of their fish, and I am very excited for the opportunity to collaborate with them. As always, all content and opinions are my own. 

Barramundi in Parchment with Lemons, Dates and Toasted Almonds ll A delicious, healthy, gluten-free weeknight dinner that comes together in under 25 minutes! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Hey there! I hope you had a great weekend. It was pouring in NYC yesterday, so we spent a good chunk of the afternoon and evening continuing to furnish our new apartment. Travis assembled two new shelving units, and I searched the web for a few more items that we need (while also offering him moral support, of course!).

Barramundi in Parchment with Lemons, Dates and Toasted Almonds ll A delicious, healthy, gluten-free weeknight dinner that comes together in under 25 minutes! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Because I knew we’d have a couple of weeks here in NYC before our movers arrived with our belongings from California, I tried to photograph and prepare a few posts for you guys while we were still in Los Angeles. I’m really excited to finally share my second barramundi recipe in collaboration with Australis Barramundi! If you missed the first recipe, Barramundi with a Tomato, Olive, White Wine Sauce, you can find it here.

Barramundi in Parchment with Lemons, Dates and Toasted Almonds ll A delicious, healthy, gluten-free weeknight dinner that comes together in under 25 minutes! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

For this recipe, I used a different cooking method than pan-searing because I wanted to show you how versatile this fish is. I cooked the barramundi fillets in parchment paper, which is a delicious and healthy way to cook white fish. This cooking method allows you to use very little oil, and if done correctly, results in perfectly flakey and juicy fish. If you’ve never cooked fish in parchment paper before, don’t worry! It’s very easy, and you’ll be a pro in no time.

Barramundi in Parchment with Lemons, Dates and Toasted Almonds ll A delicious, healthy, gluten-free weeknight dinner that comes together in under 25 minutes! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

The fish is cooked on top of a bed of baby spinach, so there’s no need to make a separate side dish. You have a complete meal just in the parchment paper alone! I prepared a mixture of chopped dates, toasted almonds, and lemon zest to serve with the barramundi. It adds a nice hint of sweetness and varying textures to the dish.

Barramundi in Parchment with Lemons, Dates and Toasted Almonds ll A delicious, healthy, gluten-free weeknight dinner that comes together in under 25 minutes! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

There are so many delicious ways to prepare barramundi, and that’s why it’s one of my favorite fish. One of the best parts about this recipe is that it takes less than 25 minutes from start to finish. I love quick and easy weeknight meals that appear far more complicated than they really are!

Barramundi in Parchment with Lemons, Dates and Toasted Almonds ll A delicious, healthy, gluten-free weeknight dinner that comes together in under 25 minutes! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

Barramundi in Parchment with Lemons, Dates and Toasted Almonds
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • Two 6 oz. barramundi fillets
  • 1 whole lemon
  • 1 medium shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 oz. baby spinach
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 4 Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Dry the barramundi fillets with a paper towel and sprinkle each piece generously with salt and pepper. Set aside. Zest the entire lemon and then cut half of the lemon into 4-5 thin slices. Juice the remaining half of the lemon into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Lay two large pieces of parchment paper (about 12" x 12") side by side. Divide the sliced shallots and baby spinach between each piece of parchment, and sprinkle the spinach and shallots with a pinch of salt and pepper. Lay the barramundi fillets on top of the spinach and shallots, and top each fillet with the thin lemon slices. Drizzle about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over the fillets. One sheet at a time, close the parchment paper packets: bring two opposite sides of the paper together and fold them together several times to create a tight seal. Then fold up each end of the paper to create a tight seal on all sides. It's fine if the seals loosen slightly in this process.
  4. Place the parchment paper packets on a large baking sheet and bake the barramundi on the middle rack of the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the fish is tender and flakes easily.
  5. While the fish is cooking, bring a small skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and once hot add the chopped almonds. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add the dates and cook until warmed through, stirring regularly, about an additional 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, or to taste.
  6. Open the barramundi packets and transfer the fish, spinach, shallots, and lemon slices to two plates. Top each piece of barramundi with the date-almond mixture and serve immediately.
Barramundi in Parchment with Lemons, Dates and Toasted Almonds ll A delicious, healthy, gluten-free weeknight dinner that comes together in under 25 minutes! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

My Favorite Packing Essentials That Make Traveling Easier

Let it be known: I traveled A LOT in 2017. From our EuroTrip in February and March, to regular flights to and from Boston for wedding planning, and then our honeymoon in Greece, I’ve spent a lot of time on planes, in hotels, packing and repacking. I’ve always been an over-packer. I’m that person who packs the new-with-tags top that’s been sitting in my closet for three months, thinking that maybe I’ll just happen to wear it on my upcoming trip (guess what? I never do!). By the end of a trip I’ll usually stare at my suitcase and kick myself for bringing way too much stuff. However, because we traveled so much over the course of the last year I’ve gotten MUCH better at packing. I can attribute a lot of that improvement to the packing essentials I’ve found that really make traveling easier. Because these items have helped me so much, I decided to do a roundup of my favorites to share with you. Hopefully you find something new that helps you for an upcoming trip!

 

Samsonite Softside Spinner Suitcase

Packing Essentials That Make Traveling Easier ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Travis and I each got one of these suitcases to use as our checked baggage before our Eurotrip earlier this year. These Samsonite bags are extremely lightweight and the four wheels at the bottom allow you to cruise through the airport easily. They’re very roomy without looking massive, and they fit our packing cubes (mentioned below) perfectly. Pro tip: you can usually find similar Samsonite luggage at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Ross for even less than you’d find on Amazon!

 

Longchamp Expandable Bag

Packing Essentials That Make Traveling Easier ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I’ve always loved Longchamp tote bags. I used one in college to carry my books and have another that I use as a beach bag. About five years ago my mom gifted me with a black expandable Longchamp bag that I’ve used basically every day since. It’s a great multipurpose tote because it expands into an even larger size that’s great for traveling when you’re carrying bulkier items such as a laptop and neck pillow. I always use this expandable tote as my “hand baggage” that goes under the seat on the plane. These bags are so durable — I’ve given mine a pretty good beating over the last five years, and it’s still going strong!

 

Bag Bungee

Packing Essentials That Make Traveling Easier ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I use the Bag Bungee to attach my Longchamp (or other carry-on bag) to the top of my rolling suitcase when I’m walking long distances through a city or airport. It’s very secure and it allows you to keep extra weight off your back or shoulders while you’re traveling.

 

Bagail Packing Cubes

Packing Essentials That Make Traveling Easier ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Packing Cubes, where have you been all my life!? I first read about packing cubes when we were preparing for our trip to Europe earlier in the year. I’ll admit, at first I didn’t get the hype. I thought: So what, you put your clothes in cubes? What’s the big deal?

Well packing cubes have completely changed the way I pack. I use each cube for a different “category” of clothing. One cube is for pants, one is for tops, another for sweaters, and another for miscellaneous items. The cubes basically act as dresser drawers, so if you’re looking for one pair of pants, all you have to do is take out that specific cube and the rest of your items stay folded and organized in your suitcase. Packing cubes really help if you’re traveling from city to city because you won’t waste time unpacking and repacking your suitcase.

 

Wet Ones Antibacterial Wipes

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There are so many germs on planes, and being stuck close together with other passengers for long hours is one of the easiest ways to get sick. I recently started bringing antibacterial wipes in my carry-on bag, and I wipe down everything around me as soon as I sit down. Knowing that my armrest, TV screen, tray table, and headrest are clean makes me rest a lot easier, and ever since I started this I haven’t gotten sick after a flight.

 

Protein-Packed Snacks

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The food on long haul international flights can often leave much to be desired, so I try to pack healthy protein-packed snacks whenever we travel. Some of my favorite travel snacks include Chef’s Cut Chicken Jerky and RX Peanut Butter Bars because both have lots of protein to keep you going for a couple of hours. If I’m able to, I like to pack us turkey and avocado sandwiches on whole wheat bread for cross-country flights since most airlines do not serve any complimentary food anymore. Having healthy snacks as a backup saves me from getting hangry, and then I’m less likely to reach for an unhealthy food option.

 

Bobble Water Bottle

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I’ve talked about my love for Bobble water bottles a bunch before, but if you’re new around here, the reason I love this water bottle is because it filters the water as you drink it. Think of it as a Brita filter in your water bottle. I drink water like a fish, so I love having my Bobble with me to fill up in any sink or water fountain.

 

Cabeau Neck Pillow

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I’ve tried a lot of neck pillows and this one is by far my favorite. It’s made from thick memory foam and the pillow has an extra raised layer that offers just the right amount of support for your head and neck. It’s the first neck pillow that’s allowed me to sleep for more than one hour at a time on a plane. Travis and I both have these pillows and we’ve even purchased them as gifts for others because we love them so much.

 

Microfiber Travel Towels

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I bought these towels when we went to Israel in the spring of 2016 because the trip required that we bring our own towels for swimming and other activities. I knew we’d constantly be on the go throughout our ten days there, and I hated the idea of packing a large, wet towel in my suitcase and having to reuse it (hello mildew!).

Welcome the travel towel! This particular brand comes with a set of two towels: one large bath/beach towel and another small hand towel. Here’s why I love these towels: They’re very thin, yet incredibly absorbent. They take up as much room in your suitcase as a t-shirt, making them easy to pack even in a small carry-on. The best part about these towels is how fast they dry. They’re basically completely dry within an hour or so from using them, which would be next to impossible for a regular cotton towel.

 

Tide Travel Sink Packets

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These Tide Travel Sink Packets are a fairly new discovery, and I used them often throughout our honeymoon in Greece when we didn’t have access to a washing machine. These packets are great for hand washing delicate garments in the sink or when you just need to clean a couple of items during your trip.

 

Medicine

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There is no question that traveling long distances, especially through different climates and time zones, is an easy way to get sick. I always like to be as prepared as possible and pack a variety of medications and first-aid items in my suitcase. Most often this includes: Vitamin C capsules, NyQuil, Advil (or other Ibuprofen), anti-diarrhea and laxatives (just keepin’ it real, you never know!), Tums, Benadryl, cough drops, blister bandaids, and Neosporin.  Some people might think that this is a waste of space in your suitcase; however, if you’re traveling in a different country and not feeling great, the last thing you’ll want to do is have to look for a pharmacy and decipher medication labels in a different language. Trust me, it isn’t fun!

 

Disclosure: I hope you enjoyed reading about my favorite packing essentials. While none of these items are sponsored, this post does include some affiliate links, which means if you buy one of these products I may earn a tiny commission. As always, thank you for your support!

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