Category Archives: Travel

Travel

I went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME!

You guys! Hi! I just got back from Israel and I am so excited to share some pics with you.

Travis and I went on a Birthright trip to Israel organized by Israel Outdoors and we had such an amazing experience. Birthright is a free, educational 10 day trip to Israel for Jewish young adults between the ages of 18-26. I’ve wanted to go for many years, but I was never able to make it work due to college athletics, internships and work. This was the last year Travis and I could go together due to age eligibility, and I am so fortunate we were able to get on a trip together this March.

We traveled all over Israel for 10 days with 37 other Americans between the ages of 22-26. It was an unforgettable experience and I know so many of the friendships we made will be life long.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

There is SO much I want to share about our trip, but I feel like I would end up writing a novel (and ain’t nobody got time for that!)

So instead, I am going to share a bunch of photos from the trip and do my best to caption each in 5-6 words or less! Many of the places and words in the post below might be unfamiliar to you, so I’ve hyperlinked to some further explanations in case you’re interested 🙂

Okay, here goes!

 

 

Floating in the Dead Sea!

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Up at 3AM to hike Masada.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Shabbat on an Israeli Kibbutz.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Not the shortest one (for once!)

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Camel riding in the Negev.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Travis wore two GoPros (not kidding).

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Dinner in a Bedouin tent.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

UNREAL scenery in Ein Ovdat.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

My incredible new friend, Sam.

(Side note, there were FIVE girls and guys named Sam on our trip! Yeah, that was fun to keep straight.)

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Gardening tomatoes in the desert.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

New girl friends for life.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Yemenite lahoh tasted SO good.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

View from Old City Jerusalem.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Praying at the Western Wall.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I put a note in the wall.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Orna and Ella = best meal.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Travis and I went all out.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Seriously. We ordered ALL THE FOOD.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Sightseeing in Jaffa with Trav.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Sarah, my new Philly BFF!

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Had to find the pastries!

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Independence Hall in Tel Aviv.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Roasted Eggplant, Tahini, and Chickpeas.

(FEED ME MORE!)

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Love my new Birthright family.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

If you guys have any questions about the trip or if you’re interested in going on Birthright yourself and want to chat, feel free to write me a note in the comments section below or shoot me an email at littlechefbigappetite@gmail.com! XO

Travel

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour

Hi guys! I never post on Saturdays, but after a crazy week I just couldn’t get this post up on Friday. So here I am! It’s the weekend, YAY! After two weekends of travel and tons going on at work, I am so happy to be home right now and catch up on the one million things on my to-do list.

On Monday, I mentioned I would share all of the details of my farm tour trip last weekend, so let’s get to it!

I was invited to attend a tour of the Imperial and Coachella Valleys by the awesome people at the California Farm Water Coalition. We did and learned SO much on this trip, so rather than bore you guys with all of the nitty gritty (and tons of facts), I figured I would share some of some highlights with you.

 

Lakeside Organic Gardens

Our first stop of the tour was in Holtville, CA at Lakeside Organic Gardens. We met Kay Day Pricola, Executive Director of the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association and Scott Howington of Lakeside Organic Gardens.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

While both Kay and Scott were incredibly knowledgeable and informative, more than anything they were both hilarious. They had our group cracking up nearly the entire time, which made learning about farming (something I’ll admit I knew next to nothing about before this trip!) and produce really fun and interesting.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Kay and Scott took us around to see kale, cabbage, celery, fennel, and more, stopping along the way to explain how each are grown.

 

Holtville Rib Cook-off

Next, Kay and Scott took us to the Holtville Rib Cook-off in the middle of town. Holtville is a very small town, and it didn’t take long to see that 1.) Basically everyone in Holtville was at this festival and 2.) They all knew each other.

Having never lived in a small town like this, I found this whole experience to be so much fun! Kay was saying “hi” to nearly everyone we passed, which I just couldn’t get over. She knew everyone.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

We didn’t stop to eat any food at the cook-off because we had lunch plans later that afternoon, but it was great to walk around and check out all of the booths and entertainment.

 

Veg Cool

On Saturday afternoon we headed to Veg Cool, where all of the produce from Lakeside (and a few other farms) is washed, boxed, cooled, and picked up by trucks to be distributed to grocery stores across the country.

Did you know that those rubber bands and twist ties you see around vegetables in the grocery store are all put on directly in the field? The farmers have to be REALLY careful about which band or tie they use because if it’s wrong (red cabbage vs. green cabbage), a grocer will turn it away even if the produce is perfectly fine. Then that food has to be found a new home (donated to food pantries, etc.) so it isn’t wasted.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

We all got to take turns going inside the cooler at Veg Cool, but it wasn’t safe for us to stay in for too long because the floors are wet and slippery.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Also, the guys that maneuver the forklifts are SOOOOO FAST.  These men carry dozens and dozens of boxes of produce at once and drive in reverse at full speed like it’s nothing! I wish I had a video to show you.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

To sum it up, the entire process from field to grocery store can take just 24 hours, which very impressive when you see how many fruits and veggies these guys are processing at one time.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

Ellen Way + Coachella Valley

On Sunday morning we met with Ellen Way of the California Women for Agriculture, who toured us around various fields in the Coachella Valley.

A big highlight for me was visiting the date palms that you see below. I looooove dates. I add them to everything like my Vitamin-Packed Green Smoothie and No Bake Oat and Nut Granola Bars, so it was fun to see and learn about how they grow.

Did you know that dates can only be grown in warm climates like California and the Middle East? Also, harvesting them is VERY labor intensive — someone has to climb all the way up those trees multiple times throughout harvesting and man, those things are tall!

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

We also checked out fields of bell peppers, which they keep covered from the sun with the tarps (as you can see below), as well as seedless grapes and artichokes.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

SeaView

Our final farm stop was at SeaView. We were a little rushed to get back to San Diego, so we were only able to spend about a half hour here.

All of our eyes lit up when we were told we could pick some citrus to bring home. Personally, I had only ever been apple and strawberry picking, so picking my own fresh oranges and grapefruit was such a treat! Luckily, I was traveling back to Los Angeles by train, so I could load up on lots of oranges, which Travis and I both love.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I also want to note that the grapefruit we tasted at SeaView was some of the sweetest I’ve ever had. I usually find grapefruit to be too sour, but this stuff was delicious and I regret not bringing home more! The longer the grapefruit stays on the tree, the sweeter it gets.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

Inferno Restaurant: Brawley, CA

Our very final stop on the tour was to the Inferno Restaurant in Brawley, CA. Now, remember when I mentioned earlier that Kay Day Pricola was the most well connected person ever? Well, on Saturday she overheard our group mentioning how we wanted to try Inferno, but they are closed on Sundays (the day we were trying to go).

So, of course, Kay picks up her phone and calls the owner (who just happened to call her the hour before!) and asks him to open the restaurant for our group the following day. Whaaaaat!?

And he said YES. We couldn’t believe it.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

So on Sunday afternoon we met the owner, Ray Babb and his head chef, who cooked us a delicious meal of homemade pizzas, steak tacos and deep-fried ice cream!

The entire meal was ridiculously good. Because they source all of their ingredients from the surrounding farms in the area, everything tasted incredibly fresh.

If you ever find yourself in Brawley, CA — go here!!

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

I had a great weekend touring the Imperial and Coachella Valleys and I learned so much. Before I leave you guys, I want to share just a couple quick facts that might be interesting to you:

 

— California is home to 78,000 farms growing 400 different crops! Farming creates 450,000 jobs in this state.

— California farmers grow 50% of America’s fruits, nuts and vegetables — 50%!

— Agriculture uses 40% of the state’s water supply, but EVERYONE benefits from the food grown on farms.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

— The Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley can grow year-round. You can thank this area of the country for allowing you to have cantaloupe in the middle of November even though it’s a summer fruit.

— Most farms are passed down generation to generation. Many of the farmers we met were in their current job because their parents, grandparents, etc. were all farmers.

— What’s crazy is that only 2% of our population is farmers, but 100 years ago 90% of our population farmed

— A lot of advanced farming technology comes from Israel, not the United States. One example is drip irrigation which is a method of releasing water slowly through long passageways (in this case, plastic tubing you see below).

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, however I was invited to attend this farm tour by the California Farm Water Coalition and my hotel and travel were paid for. I hope you enjoyed this post and I appreciate your support!

Travel

A Washington DC Trip + Anniversary Recap

When I last left you guys, I mentioned how I thought my flight to DC was going to be canceled because of the big snow storm, Jonas, that hit the East coast last week.

Well, I ended up being able to get on an earlier flight, so I got into Washington DC on Friday morning right before all of the snow madness hit the city. The timing worked out perfectly because my friend Emily, who is a nurse, was called off of her shift so she and her fiance, Nate, were both able to pick me up from the airport.

When I arrived, we made a pit stop at the grocery store to pick up last minute food items in case we got snowed in. Well…it turns out that the entire city beat us to it.

Exhibit A:

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

ALL OF THE FOOD was gone. I am not kidding. There was no fresh produce (I saw maybe one red onion), no milk, eggs, anything!

Here’s Emily on her tippy-toes trying to see if there is maybe just one carton of eggs left at the top there. Nope!

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

Now, I just want to point out that coming from LA, I was drastically unprepared for the amount of snow that fell. All of my snow and warm winter gear are at my parents’ house in Boston, so I flew to DC with a warm-ish coat and Hunter rain boots to protect my feet from the wet snow.

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

All in all, it didn’t really matter because we spent a lot of time inside over the weekend. We were disappointed because all of the wedding dress appointments that Emily had booked months in advanced were canceled. Now I guess I won’t see her dress until the big day!

We were able to make do food-wise with various items Emily and Nate had in their house. On Saturday afternoon I threw together a pasta dish with roasted vegetables, shrimp and a white wine sauce.

I’d say for not having many things left, it turned out pretty darn well! And obviously because we were snowed in we had wine with lunch (and pretty much every other meal! Haha).

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

Since I was completely unprepared for the snow clothing-wise, I was basically useless to Emily and Nate when it came to shoveling.

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

Nate was a champion and spent 7+ hours over the weekend shoveling out their cars as well as the walkways and cars of their elderly neighbors. I kept saying the poor guy deserves a massage and a tropical vacation after all he did!

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

So. Much. Snow!

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

My flight back to LA ended up being canceled on Sunday evening because all of the airports in the city were closed. (Although, I was secretly excited because it meant more time with my BFF who I hardly ever get to see!)

On Sunday, I spent a couple of hours on the phone with various airlines trying to get a flight back to LA. It was an absolute nightmare and some airlines said it would take a few more days before I could get back!  Eventually, I was able to book a flight for Monday morning, which was a big relief because I had to get back to work. Unfortunately, my flight wasn’t direct and I spent a lot of time waiting around in airports.

I will say that the Charlotte airport has some DELICIOUS food options. One of the places in my terminal was like a big fresh food market and I was able to get this INSANELY yummy breakfast frittata with roasted vegetables. It was only $8 and it was so big, I ate it for two meals. Big win for the Charlotte airport!

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

When I landed back in LA late on Monday, Travis and Bessie picked me up from the airport. There is something so nice about being picked up by a loved one rather than taking a cab or public transportation, don’t you think?

The following day (Tuesday) was my 5th anniversary with Travis. I put together this little photo collage to post to Instagram, but then he beat me to it and posted his own, so I felt weird posting almost the exact same thing, ha!

Anniversary - littlechefbigappetite.com

We barely saw each other on Tuesday morning because I had to rush out of the house to get to work. But when I arrived home that evening, he surprised me with a bottle of champagne, two doughnuts from our favorite new doughnut shop up the street, a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a very thoughtful card.

Anniversary - littlechefbigappetite.com

We told each other no gifts this year because we are trying to save our money, but the items that Travis picked up meant so much to me.

Our night ended with a delicious dinner at Tar & Roses, one of our favorite restaurants in Santa Monica. Earlier in 2015 it had a bad fire in the kitchen, and the restaurant only finally reopened a few weeks ago. We were so excited to go back and the food was just as incredible as we remembered it.

 

Alright guys, that’s it from me. I hope you have a great weekend! I am off on a bloggers trip this weekend to tour some California farms! I will be sure to check in early next week with a recap. See ya!

Main Meal Travel

Photos from Paso Robles + This Week’s Meal Plan

Hi guys! I hope you had a great holiday week! I took a good old detox from blogging and much of social media, and it felt SO GOOD to just be in the moment.

We took a short trip to Paso Robles, CA to do a bit of wine tasting from Tuesday to Thursday last week. Neither of us had ever been, but we’d heard such great things about the area! Here are a few photos from our trip.

We saw a beautiful rainbow on our drive up. Such a rare sighting around here…because it never rains!

Paso Robles Trip

Wine tasting at Halter Ranch.

Paso Robles Trip - Halter Ranch Winery

Gorgeous sunset to end our first day.

Paso Robles Trip - Sunset

Starting Day 2 bright and early with…more wine!

Paso Robles Trip

Barrel rooms at Sextant Wines.

Paso Robles Trip

We stopped into Summerwood Winery, which happened to be dog friendly. We met two adorable Boxer pups, who belonged to a family also wine tasting there. We ended up staying and chatting with the family for over an hour because we had so much in common!

Paso Robles Trip - Sommerwood Winery

It was chilly the whole time we were in Paso Robles, so I lived in this blanket scarf my mom bought for me over Thanksgiving. I took this picture to send to her, but didn’t have cell reception at the time – so there you go, Mom! 😉

Paso Robles Trip

Perfect wine tasting eats to fill up our bellies. Delicious burger from Firestone.

Paso Robles Trip - Firestone Brewery

Before heading back to LA, we made one final stop at Barrelhouse Brewing. It was only fair that Travis get to taste some beers after all that wine!

Paso Robles Trip - Barrelstone Brewery

After a week filled with indulgences (ahem, wine on wine on wine), Travis and I are both looking forward to some healthy meals. We did a HUGE grocery shopping run at the Whole Foods in Venice on Saturday morning. The entire time we were taking bets on how high the bill was going to be…but it’s all good because we seriously had no food in the house and we were way overdo for a restock!

 

Here’s this week’s dinner plan:

Sunday (last night): Apricot-Glazed Chicken with Whole Wheat Couscous and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Monday: Dinner out with Travis’s sister, Justine

Tuesday: Barramundi with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes + Roasted Broccoli

Wednesday: Turkey Chili

Thursday (New Year’s Eve!): Party at our friend’s house

Friday (New Year’s Day): TBD

 

Hope you guys have a great week!

Travel

Three Days in London

Hello! How are you guys? Can you believe it’s already Wednesday? I mean, thank goodness for Monday holidays!

This London post was SUPPOSED to go up last Friday, but as I mentioned, things have been quite nuts around here lately, so alas, here we are on Wednesday. Better late than never.

I took 1,389,457,343 photos in London, so in order to keep this post as concise as possible, we’re going to play a little game I saw on Tina’s blog: Three words per photo. Here we go!

Obsessed with Marks & Spencer.

LittleChefBigAppetite in London

Big Bus Tour!

Big Bus Tour London

Selfie on the bus!

Big Bus Tour London

Gorgeous London architecture.

IMG_2387

Cocktails for lunch! (At Nopi)

Nopi London

Lunch at Nopi.

Nopi London

The famous Harrods!

Harrods London

Harrods Food Hall.

(Breaking from three words to just say that I was OBSESSED with the Food Hall. I would happily move in if they let me. Like in one of those food cases would be totally fine. Preferably the one with the pastries.)

Harrods London

Chocolate for days.

Harrods London

Trips on the Tube.

The Tube

This little cottage.

(JK – that’s Westminster Abbey.)

Westminster Abbey

Dinner at Gymkhana. (The BEST Indian food EVER.)

Ghymkana London

Naan for days! (Gymkhana)

Ghymkana London

A GoPro nerd!

Buckingham Palace London

Buckingham Palace Gardens.

Buckingham Palace London

Hello Mr. Guard!

Buckingham Palace London

(Obligatory) Buckingham Palace selfie!

Buckingham Palace London

Delicious brunch spread.

Brunch London

I spy a castle.

London

Dinner at Clos Maggiore.

(The most gorgeous restaurant setting I’ve ever seen / had the pleasure of dining in).

Clos Maggiore

Heeeeeey Big Ben!

Big Ben London

Bye, Kensington Hotel!

Kensington Hotel London

Landing in Los Angeles.

Landing in Los Angeles

 

I was SO sad to leave London. The entire time I told Travis, “I am moving here. I am so moving here.” Hey, if it wasn’t ridiculously expensive and even farther away from my family, I’d at least think about it.

Have a great rest of your week friends! Only 2.5 more days until the weekend :)!

 

Travel

Family Reunion in Skipton

Hi friends! Happy Hump Day! My week is moving pretty quickly, and I can’t wait for the long weekend. Work has been very crazy for me since I got back from my trip, so I am definitely looking forward to the extra day to catch up on life things this weekend.

In my last post we left off at the end of our short day in Amsterdam. The next morning we headed to the airport for a short flight to Leeds, England. Leeds is located in the North of England, about 40 minutes away from Skipton, where we were staying.

Map of Leeds England

My dad’s parents lived in Skipton and we used to visit them there when I was little. Sadly, we stopped going to Skipton as often after my grandparents passed away. In fact, the last time I was there was in 7th grade!

The whole point of this trip was to spend time in England with my dad’s side of the family (his brother, sister, and my cousins) just like we used to do many years ago. This family reunion in Skipton was SO important to our family because we live all over the world (Los Angeles, Boston, England, Paris, Spain, etc.), and we NEVER get the chance to all be together.

Leeds Airport

At the Leeds airport, we met my parents, brother, and sister-in-law who had all just flown in from Boston together. My dad drove us (he’s the only one with experience driving on the left!) to our house in Skipton.

Craven House Skipton

The house was perfect! It had plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms for all 15 of us to spread out throughout the week.

Since we spent six days in Skipton, I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty, but rather just show you a few highlights of our time there.

Skipton

We went to A LOT of pubs. Cock and Bottle was one of our favorites.

Cock and Bottle

Cock and Bottle

Cock and Bottle

Day trip to Kettlewell! For a city girl like me, it was amazing to be able to get so close to grazing sheep.

Kettlewell

How gorgeous is this view?

Kettlewell

Kettlewell

My little cousin Louis was hooked on his plastic iphone the entire trip. It was adorable.

Kettlewell

Funny enough, this photo below was NOT planned, but it was so, so perfect.

Louis Phone

Selfie with my beautiful Mamma!

Kettlewell

On the Sunday of our trip, we had an even BIGGER family reunion. We invited extended, extended family over to our rented house for a potluck lunch. These family members all live in England and many of us had never met before, so this was a real highlight for everybody.

2015_08 Skiptonade (180)

On my birthday, we took a day trip to York! My brother studied abroad in York during college and my aunt went to high school in York, so everyone had fun exploring their old stomping grounds.

York England

I haven’t been able to spend my birthday with my immediate family in years, so turning 25 was extra special because I got to celebrate with my dad’s entire side of the family. I love these people so, so much!

York England

On Wednesday we took a day trip to Bolton Abbey, another place we used to picnic as a family many years ago. The grounds are vast and GORGEOUS.

Bolton Abbey

 

Bolton Abbey

It’s a popular activity to make the trek across these rocks – we used to do it all the time when we were little. For some reason, I still found it terrifying 10+ years later. I am by no means scared of heights, but the stones were wet and I kept thinking I would slip. It didn’t help that I was carrying my DSLR camera, two iphones and two wallets in my jacket at the time. That was a silly thing to do.

Bolton Abbey

On our last night in Skipton the cousins took a group photo together. Trav and I are the nerds up there in the back. Heeeeeeey!

Cousins

The next morning Travis and I boarded the train from Skipton to London, the last stop of our trip. My whole family walked us to the train station (which was awfully nice of them). I felt like royalty with a giant send-off crew waving to us as the train departed. It was definitely hard to say goodbye to everyone because we don’t know the next time we will all be together again. I’m thankful that everyone took lots of photos, so we have great memories of our trip.

Train to London

——-> Check back in later this week to read about what we did, and most importantly, what we ate in London!

For more “life” posts like this one, make sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram (@littlechefbigappetite)!

 

P.S. Thank you to my Mom for letting me snag some of her amazing photos for this post!

Travel

Less than 24 Hours in Amsterdam

Hello, I am back! To catch you up, the last 10 days I was traveling through Europe. My dad’s side of the family had a big family reunion in the English countryside, where he grew up.

When planning this trip months ago, we quickly realized that flying from LA to Europe takes a long time, and there weren’t many direct flights that were budget-friendly. Many of the flights we looked at had layovers in Amsterdam, so we decided to make the most of a stop in a city neither of us had traveled to, by spending slightly less than a day there.

After at 10 hour flight to Amsterdam, we couldn’t wait to get to our room and clean up. All of the travel advice I read insisted not to take a nap for jet lag, so we listened, but man was it tough! We were EXHAUSTED, and the comfy hotel bed was calling to us. But we toughened up and set out for a day of sightseeing.
One Day in Amsterdam

Our first stop was the I Amsterdam sign because it was just around the corner from our hotel. We arrived right when street performers were starting a dance routine, which was fun to watch.

One Day in Amsterdam

I expected the sign to be crowded, but I had no idea it would be THIS crowded. We practically had to fight people just to get a photo with it.

One Day in Amsterdam

Next, per the recommendation of many friends, we hopped on the river canal cruise that takes you all throughout the city and allows you to hop on and off as desired.

One Day in Amsterdam

Everyone told us it was the best way to see Amsterdam and they were right! Plus, given how tired we were, we welcomed the opportunity to sit and enjoy the ride, rather than walk everywhere.

One Day in Amsterdam

The architecture in Amsterdam is gorgeous. Some friends and travel sites recommended we rent an apartment or houseboat on the canal, and now I can see why! Since we were only in Amsterdam for one night we decided to just get a hotel that was convenient to the airport and the major spots we wanted to see.

On a side note, we stayed at Hotel JL no. 76 and it was perfect for our needs. It was a modern boutique hotel right in the heart of the Museum district. It was easy to get to from the airport and there was plenty to do within walking distance. The rooms are small, but comfortable, and the prices are very reasonable. I highly recommend it.

One Day in Amsterdam

 

One Day in Amsterdam

In the middle of the river cruise, we hopped off so we could wander through Vondel Park.

(Travis was very excited about the opportunity to use his GoPro throughout the city!)

One Day in Amsterdam

It was a Thursday afternoon, but the park was packed.


One Day in Amsterdam

We saw many groups of friends and families laying alongside the lake. If we had more time, I would have loved to grab a few snacks and a bottle of wine and picnic outside. The setting was gorgeous.

One Day in Amsterdam

After our stroll through Vondel Park, both of us could barely keep our eyes open. 24+ hours without sleep is no joke people! We decided to head back to the hotel to take a quick nap before dinner. We only allowed ourselves about 40 minutes, but it was glorious.

We took the advice of our good friend Meredith and went to a rijsttafel (translation: rice table) for dinner. The concept sounded so intriguing to us: 20(ish) small plates of varying flavors, textures, and colors served with rice.

One Day in Amsterdam

We couldn’t believe the amount of food that we were served for a very reasonable 18 euros per person.

One Day in Amsterdam

One Day in Amsterdam

Look at all this food! From chicken satays, to pickled vegetables and fried bananas, EVERY SINGLE DISH was amazing.

One Day in Amsterdam

With every bite, we kept saying to each other, “Oh my gosh! Try this! This one is amazing!” Every plate was so delicious. If you’re planning to visit Amsterdam in the future, I highly recommend this experience. We loved our meal at Kartika.

Afterwards, we decided to walk off our incredible meal and stroll through the city some more. We both regret not having more time in Amsterdam because there was so much to do, see, eat, and experience. Even still, we were able to pack a lot into less than 24 hours.

We had an early flight to Leeds, England the next morning so we ended up calling it a night around 10PM. More about our time in England in my next post!

 

Have you been to Amsterdam? If so, did you go on a canal cruise? Try a meal at a rijsttafel?

 

Travel

How I Stay Healthy on Vacation

Hi people! I am leaving for vacation in England TODAY! Woohoo, I can’t wait! We booked this trip months ago and I am thrilled that it is finally here.

Before I leave, I wanted to share how I stay healthy on vacation. Personally, I hate reading vacation health tips that encourage you to run at least 3 miles a day or order customized meals of steamed veggies and grilled chicken at every restaurant you go to. I believe you should let loose a little bit on vacation! Heck, if we aim to be our healthiest selves the rest of the year, we deserve a little break once in awhile, am I right?

When I am on vacation, I aim to find a balance. I exercise when I can, eat healthy when I can, but definitely indulge and lounge around when I want to. My point it, you shouldn’t be spending your entire vacation thinking, “Is this healthy?” because that’s no fun!

Alright, without further ado, here are my tips!

 

1. Exercise before your trip.

Tips to Stay Healthy While on Vacation

Whether you’re flying or driving to your destination, I highly recommend squeezing in a quick workout before you leave. When on a plane or in a car, you end up sitting in the same position for hours on end. No fun! If you can swing it, get in an early morning workout before your trip. Your body will thank you before you cram it into a teeny-tiny airplane seat.

 

2. Pack healthy snacks.

Tips to Stay Healthy While on Vacation

Whenever I go on trips, I always pack my own snacks. I wrote this post last summer about some of my favorite healthy travel snacks. I never rely on airport or rest stop food because it’s typically unhealthy and way overpriced. A few months ago I saw a small Chobani yogurt priced at $4 at LAX, and needless to say, I was horrified.

Before we get to England, we have multiple stops and some long stretches of time on the plane. So to make sure neither Travis or I gets too hangry, I packed a boat load of snacks. Coming with us: Homemade turkey sandwiches for lunch on the first leg of the trip, Krave Jerky, Blue Diamond AlmondsKind Bars, Trail Mix, and organic apples.

Bet you wish you were sitting next to me on the plane, dontchya?

 

3. Bring a water bottle.

Tips to Stay Healthy While on Vacation

I don’t go anywhere without a water bottle. In particular, I love my Bobble, because it filters the water as you drink. I never have to worry about filling up my bottle from a random water fountain or airport faucet.

I recommend bringing an empty water bottle with you through security at the airport and filling it up at a fountain near your gate. That way you’ll have water for your flight and a bottle to carry around with you during your trip.

 

4. Pack those sneakers! Exercise when you can.

Tips to Stay Healthy While on Vacation

I always pack a pair of sneakers and at least one set of workout clothes with me while I am on vacation. Check to see if your hotel has a gym. If not, there are loads of equipment-free workouts you can find online. I love the Nike Training Club App.  If that’s not your thing, go for a run or a long walk. You’re in a new city for darn sakes – go explore it! You’d be amazed how many calories you can burn by just walking all day. Get your body moving for even just a small amount of time – it’s better than nothing!

One more tip – make sure to workout in the MORNING before sightseeing or laying on the beach. That way, you’ll get it out of the way and won’t think about it all day long.

 

5. Plan your special meals.

Tips to Stay Healthy While on Vacation

One of my favorite parts of going to a new city is researching restaurants I want to try. While I love a good indulgence, you guys know that I really do ENJOY eating healthy meals. So before my trip, I create a list of restaurants that includes both healthy fare as well as “treat” meals. Remember, balance is key. Enjoy your burger and fries guilt-free, but don’t let the rest of your day consist of pastries, pizza, ice cream, etc. All of that food will just make you feel like crap.

I want to really emphasize that it’s okay to eat “off-plan” or steer away from a super clean diet when you’re on vacation. If you stress yourself out about it, you’re not going to enjoy yourself.

 

I’d love to know how you guys stay healthy while on vacation. Do you do anything I didn’t include in this post? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Note: This post includes some affiliate links. I greatly appreciate your support!

Travel

Weekend in Chicago

I took lots of iPhone photos in Chicago. I was debating whether or not to bring my DSLR camera, and in the end I am glad I left it at home. With all of the rain we experienced, I would have hated lugging it around in addition to my raincoat and umbrella.

So instead of recipe photos, today I bring you a hodgepodge of iPhone pictures from last weekend in Chicago. As you can see, because of the rain, we mainly spent our entire trip eating…

Our first meal of the trip was Thursday night at Nico Osteria. The General Manager was the first person to stop by our table, and after telling him that we had no idea what to order (everything looked SO good!), he suggested letting him order for our table of four. It was the best decision and we felt like we got the royal treatment that night.

Nico Osteria

All of the seafood and pasta dishes were UNREAL, but what really stole the show for me was the complimentary dessert, brought to us by our (amazing!) server at the end of the meal. This cake was one of the best I’ve ever had. It was rich and indulgent, and I savored every single bite. I was glad we got to try it, because the server said they were removing it from the menu that week (they change their menus almost daily).

Nico OSteria

On Friday it rained and rained and rained, which was a bummer because we were hoping to spend the day outside.

Instead, we decided to find a great place to eat! Nearly everyone we asked for restaurant advice told us to go to Au Cheval for a burger. We arrived around 11:30AM on Friday, not having eaten breakfast yet and there was already a one hour wait. So while we waited for our table, Travis and I walked to Whole Foods down the street for a quick snack. By the time we were finished, our table was ready!

Au Cheval

We decided to split a burger, and man am I glad we did! Look at the size of this thing! Pro tip: get the fried egg on top – it’s heavenly.

Au Cheval

We were thrilled when the sky finally cleared up a bit on late Friday afternoon. It was the perfect opportunity snap a few photos of Chicago’s amazing skyline.

Chicago

Friday night we went to Siena Tavern and our group of 5 decided to split eight or so dishes amongst the table. That’s my favorite way to order because I get to try lots of different menu items that way.

I honestly loved everything we tried. One of my favorite dishes was this halibut. (Yay for more dark restaurant photos!)

Siena Tavern

Siena Tavern

Saturday afternoon our group took a long walk throughout the city and along the lake. It was a very foggy day, but we were just happy that it wasn’t raining!

Chicago

Friends

We also made an obligatory stop at Lou Malnati’s for a slice of their famous deep dish pizza. This was my second time having Lou’s and man, is it dense! Deep-dish lovers are going to hate me for saying this, but I honestly prefer crispy thin-crust pizza. Maybe it’s because I can eat more slices? #givemeallthefood

Lou Malnatis

Sunday, Travis and I had a few hours to spare before we had to head to the airport. Eataly Chicago was right down the street from where we were staying, so we had to stop in. We’d been to the Eataly in NYC and it was food heaven for both of us. I just can’t wait for Eataly in LA!

Eataly

At the airport Travis and I stopped at Potbelly’s to grab some food for our flight. It always seems like EVERYONE flying out of Chicago Midway also stops here. The line is always out the restaurant. It’s fair because it really doesn’t compare to typical airport food. We decided to split a big sandwich and salad and nearly inhaled them at our gate before our flight.

Potbelly's

We had the perfect food-filled weekend in Chicago, but we were excited to get home to Bessie and sleep in our own bed that night.

 

Have you been to any of the restaurants I visited? Do you prefer deep-dish or thin-crust pizza?

Life Lately Travel

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA. This expo has been around for 35 years, and it is the world’s largest natural, healthy and organic products event.

I was hoping to share this post with you guys last week, but I think my blog got a little overwhelmed by the number of pictures I tried to include in the post, so I had to cut it down a bit. 😉

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I brought home SO MANY HEALTHY SNACKS from the expo. The entire time I was there, I kept telling my co-workers that I was in Candyland. It was pure heaven for this healthy-snack-obsessed-girl.

Every one of my favorite healthy brands was at the expo, passing out samples of some of their classic snacks as well as promoting new lines and flavors.

 

Below are just some of my favorite brands that were there:

Hope Hummus: Travis and I are hooked on their Spicy Avocado Hummus. I won’t tell you how quickly we finish a container because it’s pretty embarrassing. We get our Hope Hummus at Whole Foods and there were some new flavors at the Expo that I’ve never seen before.

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Krave Jerky! GAH, I LOVE YOU KRAVE. I was never a jerky person until I tried Krave. I got hooked on it about two years ago when they were passing out samples at a local grocery store. (Clearly I love samples.) I used to think jerky was a “dude’s food,” but Krave has some pretty unique flavors, such as Chardonnay-Thyme Turkey Jerky, which don’t leave your breath stinky and your hands sticky and gross. Plus, this jerky is all-natural (duh) and not loaded with chemicals and ingredients you can’t pronounce.

If you’ve never tried Krave, I HIGHLY recommend it as a delicious protein-packed snack. You can find it at most grocery stores!

Natural Products Expo West Recap

JUSTIN’S. Oh man, you guys know how much I love Justin’s Almond Butter. When I saw their booth, I practically ran over to them and blurted out, “OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU GUYS. I EAT YOUR MAPLE ALMOND BUTTER EVERY MORNING.” They laughed and made sure I went home with plenty of their new mini-sized peanut butter cups. The people who work for Justin’s are all SO nice. I kind of wanted to just hang out with them the rest of the day.

Hey, there is Justin, himself! How cool!

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Some of the displays at the Expo incredible! The amount of money that these vendors spend just to set up their booths BLOWS MY MIND. Just look at this display from Bob’s Red Mill! They had their entire product line (flours, grains, seeds, etc.) on the wall. I wanted to just take the whole thing home with me.

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Chobani also had a very cool setup. Their booth must have been the size of my apartment! In one section, they were passing out samples of their Chobani + Oat cups. On the other side,  they had an entire chef’s station where you could customize your own bowl of Chobani. I’ve never been to their Soho location, but I am sure this was very similar to what it is like there.

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Even some of my favorite dog food brands were there! So, of course, I went home with some free samples for my little Bessie, as well.

Wellness Dog Food

 

At the expo, I also sampled many new-to-me products and learned a lot.

I couldn’t get over how many different kinds of matcha powders this company had on display! I thought matcha was just…matcha. Who knew!

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Another company was pushing their “kale popcorn” – I mean can you think of a trendier snack? I’ll be honest, I didn’t like it that much – it tasted a bit “too healthy” for me, if you know what I mean.

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Bone Broth was a big trend at the expo this year. I am sure some of you know how much bone broth has exploded in the last year. It’s a delicious warm drink that is great for your immune system and it is very low in calories. Pacific had a very cool bone broth sipping station. You could sample 3-4 different bone broth flavors (chicken, turkey, etc.) and then add in some extra garnishes. I also brought home a cardboard carton of their chicken flavored bone broth.

Natural Products Expo West Recap

I could go on and on about all of the amazing displays and foods I tried.

Natural Products Expo West Recap

My coworkers were cracking up because my eyes would light up every time I saw a brand I loved. I also got very sample-happy. The shopping bag of samples I brought home was practically as big as me! Towards the end of the afternoon, I was getting pretty tired of carrying it around, but even then, I still didn’t want to leave!

Natural Products Expo West Recap

When I got home that night I laid out everything I collected on our kitchen table. Travis’ eyes grew larger and larger every time I pulled the next thing out of my bag. I felt like Mary Poppins! I think he’s just as happy as I am that I got to attend the expo because he’s been reaping the benefits for the last week!

Natural Products Expo West Recap

 

Before I leave you guys, I wanted to share a few tips for anyone planning on attending the Natural Products Expo West in the future. I was lucky that my boss has been attending for at least 10 years, so he was able to give me great advice before I went.

1. Wear comfortable shoes. This is A MUST – and that’s coming from me, who wears heels practically every day. I wore sneakers to this event, and my feet were STILL sore at the end of the day. There is SO MUCH WALKING and you end up carrying around heavy bags all day. Ladies, leave the high heels at home.

2. Don’t sample everything you see. If you sample everything in sight starting at 9AM, you’ll want to take a nap by noon. Trust me. Even when I took a sample from a booth, I would usually eat one bite and share or trash the rest. I know it sounds like a waste, but there is so much food at this event, that you have to prioritize. This is why having a bag is great – you can bring home anything you didn’t get to sample.

3. Make a plan. You won’t be able to go to every booth, so find out who will be there and decide which vendors are your priority. Save some time for booths you didn’t expect to stop at, as well.

4. Bring business cards. If you’re a retailer this is essential. Since I was attending for work, I passed out my business cards to every vendor I was interested in keeping in touch with. It’s a great way to put yourself in their system so you can stay on top of new products and promotions. On a side note, I haven’t been spammed by anyone since the Expo.

 

So that’s it! If you have any questions feel free to ask away in the comments section below. I have samples to last me until 2016 and I am already excited for next year!