foodie · health · quarantine · Uncategorized

Changing Your Perspective on Food

What is your relationship with food? Do you eat to nourish your body? To bring you joy? To comfort you? To satisfy your hunger? If you’re like most people, you probably answered “yes” to all of the above. Me too!

However, as I’ve gotten older and cared more about my health and feeling good, over time I can honestly say I have shifted to eating more for these two reasons: to satisfy hunger and to nourish my body.

I think part of the reason we struggle as a culture with our food relationship, is that during phases of our life, we have placed too much focus on the other two reasons: we reach for food to bring us joy and to comfort us.

The greatest shift can happen for you when you stop (and this is the magic sentence, hence the boldface) stop choosing the foods you eat for the taste factor and choose them for how you know they will make you feel.

Those who are around me for much time at all are surprised at how easily I can say “no thanks” to a big bowl of ice cream or to donuts. It’s because I’ve learned I’m lactose intolerant and I’ve spent many a day doubled over in a ball on my bed, with the sharpest imaginable pain in my gut due to eating dairy. Same can be said for gluten. I have slowly evolved to the place where I care more able how I will feel for the rest of the day than a few brief moments of “yummy.”

When I have weak moments and give in to either my own cravings or into peer pressure of what those around me would prefer to eat, I always regret it. Physically, and sometimes also emotionally. Our physical health as you know impacts our emotional health, and vice versa. So before I choose what I want to put in my body, I try to always ask: is this the best thing I could be eating right now? Am I eating it because it is yummy? Is that the only reason? How will I feel after I eat this?

Another catalyst that helped me make the shift, was learning that the “food on the aisles” are loaded with preservatives and some of those include additives that make you crave more of that food. Some of you reading this may feel betrayed by the food industry and angry to learn this – I know I did. These are the packaged foods: boxed, canned, frozen. A good rule of thumb: if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t eat it.

This is why I suggest to folks to shop the perimeter of the grocery store: meats, seafood, dairy (we do lactose free), fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts. The good stuff, the healthy stuff, is always on the perimeter, not in the aisles (this is generally true, though there are some good foods to find in the aisles.) You need to eat real food.

What I wasn’t expecting, is that once I cut out the junk food, I stopped craving it. Now I pretty much crave real fresh food. Then I read a quote that pretty much summarizes this idea: “what you eat you crave more of. ”

So if you eat junk, you crave more junk. When you eat real food, you crave that. The hard part is making the shift. When I cut out junk food, it wasn’t easy. It helped that I was pregnant, and my primary goal in life was to provide the healthiest possible environment for my baby to inhabit. I had a greater motivation and something outside myself that helped me have the willpower to make the change.

It also helped that my mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimers and my research to help her benefited my whole outlook. It was then that I learned about the terrible effects of artificial sweeteners.

And later still, when my oldest child was diagnosed with migraine headaches, my research to help her led me to my knowledge of food coloring and sugar. Both of these are migraine triggers and I would recommend cutting these two out to anyone who suffers from them. Even further research of food coloring led me to how  it effects those with ADD, and I learned sugar consumption lowers the immune system.

I realize these aren’t popular schools of thought and may even be unwanted because they don’t line up with how you would like to eat, but if you are aware, I promise your outlook on how you eat with shift and YOU WILL FEEL BETTER.

And in the face of a worldwide pandemic, as we are right now, you need to be reaching for every possible advantage that you can to increase your wellness and immune system so that you are resistant. Eat for your health, friends. You are what you eat.

 

 

adventures with kids · foodie · travel with kids · Uncategorized

My Old Kentucky Dinner Train: North Pole Express

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ride a train? Not a model train like they have at the zoo or at birthday parties, but a REAL TRAIN? Have you wondered what it would be like to experience the Polar Express in real life?

A friend posted about a Polar Express experience a couple of years ago, and since then it has been on my bucket list for my family to have that experience. I researched prices, different train locations and routes, Polar Express experiences offered within a 200 mile radius, and did a ton of reading. I narrowed my options down to two: French Lick and My Old Kentucky Dinner Train. I settled on My Old Kentucky Dinner Train for several reasons:

  • We are a foodie family! We love food. We appreciate fine dining and love any experiences that offer a chance to try new or high quality food. By the way, the food on this train was superb.
  • The thought of eating a delicious meal AND riding a real train AND having a Polar Express experience with Santa, Mrs. Claus, caroling, hot chocolate, and a chocolate Choo-choo train was irresistible. French Lick offered hot chocolate but not a meal. French Lick does offer a dining experience but it was either or. I liked that Kentucky Dinner train allowed us to do Polar Express AND dining combined.
  • Cost. We could drive to the Kentucky train, enjoy or ride and drive back same day. We live near Nashville so this was a better location option for us. French Lick would require us to stay the night which would be an added expense and time investment.
  • French Lick was sold out. I did my I guess you have to be on the ball to book with them! I was somewhat disappointed because French Lick looked more like a true Polar Express experience. I was also somewhat relieved because in my heart of hearts I wanted the dining and Polar Express! Wish granted!

If you are would like your family to have an unforgettable train ride of a lifetime, keep reading and I am more than happy to share our experience with you, as well as tips for planning your own experience.

When you book, you can choose North Pole Express (that is what we chose and what they call their Polar Express experience), regular dinner train, murder mystery, or bourbon excursion. I recommend booking a month or two in advance. I was thankful we thought ahead!

When choosing your date, you might be tempted to choose a date closest to Christmas, but we opted for November. This was a great choice for us because there was still a little fall foliage and the fields we passed along our ride were golden and quite pretty. It also was not as cold as December which is a personal draw for this cold-natured human. What I loved best about going in November is that it got us in the Christmas spirit. I am ready to decorate anything that stands still and Hallmark movies are life!

When considering the departure time for your trip, the North Pole Express departs at 11:00, while the regular dinner train leaves at 4:30. The 11:00 was good for us because we were able to have our train experience and get back home before dark. We did have to get up pretty early and leave our home in Tennessee around 7:00 am, taking into account the time change. We lost an hour traveling there since they are in Eastern time zone and we are in Central.

They ask that you arrive at least a half hour early. This was perfect for us because we were able to get our tickets, use the restroom (there are restrooms on each train car, by the way) browse in their gift shop, visit with Santa and lounge in their charming wait area that was nicely decorated for Christmas.

There is a dress code posted online which was funny to us. We laughed out loud at “sweater set.” While we did follow the dress code, we traveled with quite a few passengers who did not and no one seemed to be giving them a hard time.

We were delightfully surprised when we boarded the train to see a conductor taking our tickets and that the wait staff were dressed as elves. The train cars were decorated for the holidays and the tables were already set with our salad plates and the charcuterie platter and pretzel sticks and beer cheese that we added on.

Before the train even departed, we had time to eat our salads, appetizers and enjoy a couple cups of coffee. Our charcuterie platter was perfect: olives, pepper jack and gouda cheeses, several gourmet crackers, pepperoni, pralines with honey, grapes, and strawberries. They served lemonade or tea, your choice and you get refills the entire trip. You could also order adult beverages if you wanted.

When you purchase your tickets, you are required to submit your food order. The menu is pretty limited, but the food was so surprisingly good. My mother-in-law, older daughter and I ordered the pot roast with mashed potatoes. It was so yummy and the portions were VERY generous  – they let you have to-go boxes. My husband ordered the hot brown, and we got chicken tenders for the younger daughter. Kids get a big cookie for dessert and all of the adults ordered the chocolate raspberry mousse which was divine. We added on chocolate choo-choos for the girls. They were a sight to behold, filled with chocolate mousse and whipped cream.

Santa and Mrs. Claus led the children singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and read “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” They walked through cars off and on for the duration of the ride and made appearances, greeting each of the children with plenty of photo ops.

You will pass some pretty farmland, neighborhoods and Jim Beam distillery. Half the ride you will face forward, then the engine is pulled around and attached to the other end of the train. The other half of the ride you face backward. For half of our ride, our car was the caboose so it was fun to walk to the end of our car, stand in the open air and see the train tracks disappearing behind us.

I would say we were on the train a couple of hours. It was the perfect amount of time, with plenty of time to savor your food, but not too long either, by the time our natives (children) became restless, it was over.

When we arrived back at the train station, the children got their tickets punched and they both received a “Believe” bell keepsake ornament. Santa and Mrs. Claus were also available for photos.

We loved our North Pole Express and dinner train experience! It was a unique opportunity that we all hope to have again. Visit My Old Kentucky Dinner Train’s website for more info.

 

clarksville · foodie · Uncategorized

Yada on Franklin

I have lived in Clarksville, Tennessee my entire life, and it has been so fun to see our town grow into what it has become today. A friend this morning put it best: Clarksville has a stellar food scene, especially nestled along the Franklin Street area including some great craft breweries. Now add Yada on Franklin to the mix.

Yada on Franklin a beautiful space. It every detail is beautiful and feels special. The glass case is so inviting when you enter. The light fixtures, the floor, the bar, all so pretty!

Pro tip: Get there when they open at 7:00 and park on the street for free until 9:00! The city only starts charging starting at 8:00, and only after your first hour.

What to get: The Breakfast Sandwich. Get it with everything on it. The fried egg, spinach, mayo, tomato and sriracha. You can choose what kind of bread: biscuit, English muffin, or for a dollar extra get it on a croissant. Trust me, get the croissant! I wish I had splurged and added bacon for the extra $1.50. Use fork and knife to eat it! What I didn’t realize when I took my first bite, was that it is an over-easy egg. Messy, but delightful. I savored every bite, running pieces of croissant through the yolk.

A pic of the Breakfast Sandwich – after my first bite.

Writer? Getting some work done on your computer? If you’re looking for a place to sip on coffee with wifi and Seinfeld playing in the background, look no further. I got to be friendly with the owner at her previous location on Strawberry Alley and when I asked her about hanging around to do some writing, she not only encouraged it, she shared that they have charging stations spaced out every 4 bar stools at their gorgeous bar and invited me to sit at the bar.

This was such a great first experience and I can’t wait to go back. While I was there I ran into one of my former yoga instructors and he made a point to tell me to come back at night, that the bar is illuminated and the entire space is really a sight to behold at dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

foodie · kids · natural lifestyle · parenting

Big Kid Favorites at Aldi

I have two girls, ages 6 and 10. One is a picky eater and the other is a foodie. When I announce we are going to Aldi, they both chant “yay!” because they know good food is on the way.

Here are some of our favorites:

1. Fruit. Berries, Honeycrisp apples, grapes, mandarins, whole pineapples and kiwis are some of our faves. Many of them organic. Great prices.

2. Cheese. My picky eater loves the spiral string cheese (cheddar and mozzarella). We also grab her a ball of mozzarella. My foodie girl loves Havarti, Gouda, Muenster and especially blue cheese crumbles.

3. Meats. My picky eater loves the bite-sized salamis and smoked turkey. She also loves their Dino nuggets which has one of the best ingredient lists I’ve seen. My big girl loves the smoked salmon, capocollo, sopressata, and prosciutto. We grab mussels for her from time to time too.

4. Pasta. We love their pasta shells. There is just something about them that is better than what you can get a Walmart. Maybe it’s the pretty bag and great price? They also like any of the raviolis in the refrigerated section. Five cheese is our current fave. Mushroom is good too!

5. Drinks. Both girls love the Pineapple Orange juice and Mango Orange juice. They also like the Kiwi Strawberry drink pouches. The mini water bottles are perfect to grab and go for sports.

6. Snacks and treats. Dark chocolate peanut butter granola bars are delicious and all natural! We love the cookies and cream ice cream. We alternate between the “go go squeeze” type of applesauces and the cups. Both are good. We are also loving the sea salt caramel chocolate chunk cookie dough.

foodie · Uncategorized

Isle of Palms/Mount Pleasant: Best Grocery Shopping

Most blogs you’ll read on food in the Charleston area will point out all of the noteworthy restaurants in the area. As they should! So many people want their vacation off – free from cooking. And the Charleston food scene has so much to offer.

We did eat at a couple great restaurants during our stay but we really prefer being travelers rather than tourists. We like to experience what it’s like to be a local in every way – in our minds we lived on Isle of Palms this week!

One of our favorite things to do on our travels is to visit all of the local markets and groceries. We are a foodie family and enjoy buying what is fresh and local and finding things we can’t find back home.

We always make sure our house or condo has a kitchen and survey the area for the best food sources around us.

Meet the world’s best 10-year-old menu planner!

She thoughtfully planned out what we would have for dinner each night of our trip and dad executed. I love their shared love and knowledge of food!

We had rock fish, clams, east coast shrimp, she-crab ravioli, duck l’orange, dry-aged bone in sirloin, and crab with drawn butter.

We stayed on Isle of Palms but ventured the short drive to Mount Pleasant for much of our shopping. We loved having access to Harris Teeter. We went to three or four different Harris Teeters while we were in the area. There was one on Isle of Palms just five minutes from our resort and while it was more upscale and the nicest one we’ve ever been to, the Harris Teeters in Mount Pleasant were bigger and had a larger selection.

Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and a classy butcher shop all within a 15-20 minute drive from where we were staying (all in Mount Pleasant). Foodies who are still with me and reading, the New York Butcher shop had the delicious duck (our six year old is now a duck fan!) as well as the dry-aged bone-in sirloin and the she crab ravioli. The clams and rock fish were from Whole Foods. We ate so well! And we will all miss Harris Teeter! 😭

adventures with kids · foodie · nashville

Visiting Nashville Farmer’s Market with Kids

 

Even before kids, going to farmer’s markets has been one of our favorite things to do.

We’ve been going to the farmer’s market in Nashville for almost two decades, and it’s definitely one of our happy places.

If you ask our girls their five favorite things to do at the farmer’s market they would tell you:

1. Get Jeni’s Ice Cream.

 

Yes it’s a chain, but it is the BEST ice cream. It’s the creamiest and has the most unique flavor combinations. We love getting the trio and sharing. This lets us try three different flavors without breaking the bank and without getting two full because we also eat lunch at the market. That brings me to the next favorite thing for kids which is have lunch at the market.

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The trio at Jeni’s

2. Have lunch at the farmer’s market.

Why it’s cool: it’s like a big food court only kicked up several notches. The girls love that there is something for everyone and we don’t all have to order from the same vendor. My oldest daughter raves about Bella Nashville’s pizza cooked in wood fired ovens. You’ll find that vendor near the back. Both girls love watching the pizzas being made and put into the oven. Picky eater? My little one gets a hot dog from The Picnic Tap. The Picnic Tap is one of the most kid friendly vendors there. They have games and toys for little ones to play while they wait. My husband and I love that there are many ethnic food options! We love and have tried: Greek, Thai, and French crepes. Both girls love eating in the main food court area and always comment on the “light bulb fairy lights.”

3. The I ❤️ Nash sign.

 

Grownups and kiddos love stopping to take a pic with this highly Instagram-able sign.

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4. Fresh fruit and veggies! The girls love getting fresh produce from the vendors. We especially love finding The Peach Truck’s booth. We can’t come and leave without a bag of delicious peaches!

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5. PLAY IN THE WATER!!

Right beside the farmer’s market, located under the overpass, you’ll find hidden the best ever splash pad: The Rivers of Tennessee Fountains at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. We always put swimsuits on under our clothes and bring sunscreen and towels with us on farmer’s market days so the girls can run and splash and play.

If you’ve never been to the Nashville Farmer’s Market with your kiddos, I hope you try it and love it like we do. If you have, I’d love to know what you and your children love about the market in the comments!

clarksville · foodie

The Mad Herbalist: Clarksville’s Unique Tea House and Dining Experience

The Mad Herbalist. (as experienced by Anna Claire, age 10)

“The Mad Herbalist reminded me of a log cabin and had a unique feel to it. It was clean and well-decorated.

There isn’t anything else like it in Clarksville. I loved smelling the different tea blends from the test tubes. Nobody else has tiers – the presentation is really pretty.

The teas.

The Ember Chai. When I first got it, it looked weird to me. There was a piece of smoking rosemary in it, like incense and I didn’t know what it was. I did not like the Ember with the savory tiers. It was smoky and really bitter. Make sure to try it with the dessert – it almost tastes like coffee with it.

I liked the Vanilla Honeycomb. The sugar that they rimmed the glass with gave it extra sweetness and made it really good.

The Mango Daze. I liked it. I think the hibiscus and the blood orange in it gave it the pretty red color. I ate the garnish – the blood orange (laughs).

The tiers.

I loved the stuffed shell. The pancetta in it was good and especially the sauce. I wished there was more.

The roasted vegetables and the hummus. I recommend dipping the pita bread and the carrots in the hummus AND the stuffed shell sauce. So good!

The dessert. It reminded me of like Reese’s peanut butter cup cheesecake. The ember tea, again, was good with the dessert. The sweetness compliments the bitterness.

Miss Kennedy was really friendly and knows a lot and gives really good descriptions of everything which makes you want to try it all.”

-Anna Claire

adventures with kids · foodie · kids · nashville · Uncategorized

Summer Cooking Camp at Whole Foods

Our daughter who’s nine has expressed a long-time interest in all things culinary. She’s a little foodie who will eat just about anything and her food knowledge exceeds that of most adults. She is an avid watcher of Cooking Channel, Food Network, and especially loves The Greatest British Baking Show. Her dad is a classically trained chef, and she has taken classes locally, but the kids didn’t get to do very much in our local classes because of the teacher-student ratio. She desperately wanted to do something more hands-on.

One day when we were at Whole Foods in Nashville, we picked up a schedule of cooking classes and enrolled Anna Claire in an Easter treats class. We were so impressed with how much kids were allowed to do during this one lesson, and there was almost an instructor per child. She loved it and learned so much, we signed her up for the weeklong summer camp.

It was a financial sacrifice for our family, but when the interest, effort and passion is really there, and the doors open to meet it, we find great value in that. We always want to support both girls in any way we can to achieve their goals and dreams.

Cooking class day 1: Anna Claire got to grate, zest, use serrated knife for the first time and pan-sear.

Today’s theme was picnic. The kids made a potato salad all by themselves. AC said it was very similar to the one we make but mustard based. They diced the potatoes, grated the carrot, and all that. She raved about the corn on the cob with chili lime butter and she especially loved the tomato and manchego tarte.

Cooking class day 2: Today’s theme was party. Anna Claire was so excited to tell us about the mini meatloafs they made using muffin tins. They layered biscuit dough, ground beef, shredded cheese and ketchup. She is confident she could recreate this solo, and the instructors let her make the meatballs.

Cooking class day 3: AC asked to arrive early because she gets to help set up and with the mis en place. She said they had smoothies for them when they arrived – mango/pineapple/spinach.

Today’s theme was breakfast. They made monkey bread using the same pizza dough recipe they used before- glazed in simple syrup and rolled in cinnamon sugar – she goes to bring some home and they were delish!

She was excited to explain that the kitchen has a special proofing drawer that cuts down the time it takes the dough to proof.

She also said all of the ingredients they used came directly from the Whole Foods store so that automatically raised the quality of the outcome.

They made parfaits, sausage balls, hashbrown nests (with eggs, cheese, bacon, red bell pepper.) Anna Claire said the teachers asked her to demonstrate dicing the red bell peppers because she did such a nice julienne.

Cooking class day 4: AC has been the most excited about this day! They got to make homemade pasta and called in an expert pasta maker to be the kids’ instructor. They made two pastas: pappardelle and tagliatelle. The kids were able to use the pasta machine and AC is begging for one. She does have a birthday coming up…

Cooking class day 5: The theme was luau and also AC’s graduation. They invited parents to come in for an extra half hour at the end of class for a tasting of all they made. The kids prepared kabobs with pineapple and chicken. The teachers said they were a little grossed out handling the raw chicken and putting it on the skewers. They also made a macaroni salad, fruit salad and chocolate coconut pie.

I have been so impressed with this program. The kids literally have done all of it. I even see them cleaning the tables and tending to the dishes when I pick her up each day!

The age range of this camp is 7-9 and she is 9, but will be 10 at the end of this month. There is a camp for ages 10-12 but she wants to wait and do it next summer.

Photo Credit📸: Salud instructors