Monthly Archives

May 2016


Culinary Pursuits: Shrimp & “Grits” Stuffed Bellpeppers

May 27, 2016

Where my G.R.I.T.S. at?! For those of you who don’t know, G.R.I.T.S. stands for Girls Raised in the South. Southern girls are a special breed, and this southern gal has a super fun and fancy sounding dish that’s deceptively healthy and simple to make. Who here likes shrimp and grits?!

Fun fact: Since I was born and raised in South Carolina where shrimp and grits happens to be the official state dish, I know a thing or two about some grits. I loved eating them growing up with sausage, cheese, or puddin’ (Google it if you don’t know what that is!), but with my transition to a healthier lifestyle I’ve all but stopped eating them sans the special occasional treat. Fortunately, I’ve found a way to partake in this Southern favorite that fits within my healthier lifestyle. Enter my shrimp and “grits” stuffed bell peppers where the “grits” are really pulsed cauliflower (shhh, don’t tell the kids). Check out the recipe below:

Shrimp & Grits Stuffed Bell peppers

16 ounces of Green Giants cauliflower crumbles* (see note below)
3 medium sized bell peppers
1 tablespoon of olive oil (toss the shrimp in)
Olive oil cooking spray (I used Pam)
12 oz of medium shrimp with tails, peeled and deveined
3/4 cup of So Delicious Dairy Free unsweetened coconut milk** (see note below)
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1/3 cup of goat cheese for garnish

Green Giant Cauliflower Crumbles

This is what the packaging looks like for the Cauliflower Crumbles.

Black pepper (see directions for specific amounts)
Sea Salt (see directions for specific amounts)
1/2 tsp of Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning

The night before toss your shrimp in a tablespoon of olive oil with Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning, 1/4 tsp of black pepper, and a pinch of sea salt. Cover shrimp with saran wrap and let marinate overnight. (If you don’t have time for this step shoot for 20 minutes and it’ll still come out tasty).

Tony Chachere
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Slice your bell peppers in half, discarding the seeds and the stems. Spray each half with olive oil cooking spray and then sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
Put your bell peppers in the oven and let them roast for 35 minutes.
Add cauliflower, coconut milk, and onions to food processor. Do not cook/steam the cauliflower before pulsing! If you do that, you’re likely to end up with a texture more reminiscent of mashed potatoes than of grits.

Pulse in short bursts until it has a grits like texture (3-4 mins).

Remove the cauliflower mixture from your food processor and put it into a pot on the stove at medium-high heat.

Add 1/2 tsp of sea salt, 1/2 tsp of black pepper, and a tablespoon of unsalted butter to the mixture and stir regularly for 5 minutes.

Lower the stove temp to a simmer, cover the pot, and let the cauliflower cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While your cauliflower is simmering, cook your shrimp on medium-high heat (~45-60 secs per side, then flip).

Once your bell peppers are done roasting, take them out of the oven.

Scoop 1/2 cup of the cauliflower mixture into each bell pepper and don’t skimp on the shrimp! I topped each bell pepper half with about 5-6 pieces. Sprinkle ~1 tablespoon of goat cheese on top of each bell pepper half and pop them back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Let them cool for a few minutes, plate, then dig in!

*I got the cauliflower crumbles at Walmart, but I’ve also seen them at Target. If you can’t find them though, no worries. Just coarsely chop a large head of cauliflower and pulse it a little longer to get the grits like texture.

**If you’re worried, I couldn’t detect any coconut at the end.

You can’t beat this meal. It’s got veggies and seafood with incredible flavor and it’s nice and filling.
Bonus: This tastes even better on day 2 and day 3 (if it lasts that long!) If you have leftovers, I recommend mixing the shrimp in with the “grits” so that the “grits” can soak up some of the creole seasoning from the shrimp.

Happy Friday! Hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend:)


A “Spicy” Sunday Brunch

May 22, 2016

Sometimes life happens. You may plan out the meals you’re going to make for the week and then completely change the menu so that you can feature one spice that you came across while doing some shopping after a Sunday brunch.

In case you were wondering, I’m describing my situation. I went out to brunch with some friends exactly one week ago at a restaurant called Driftwood in Raleigh.

Driftwood RaleighThe brunch was fabulous. They do a brunch buffet which is a win for anyone who has trouble deciding on a dish at restaurants (raises hand – ooo me, me!).

Driftwood Raleigh Driftwood Raleigh

The food was delicious and the interior of the restaurant was so charming. If you live in the area or happen to be visiting, you should definitely check it out.

Side note: Between the Olde Pink House and Driftwood I’m on a roll for picking some amazing restaurants.

Driftwood happens to be in this little outdoor plaza/shopping center that also has a spice shop.

Lafayette Village Raleigh

One of my friends knew about it and suggested we pop in. Considering I had heard about the shop before and wanted to drop by, I was definitely game.

The Spice Shop

The best part about the shop is that you get to smell and taste virtually every spice they have. So naturally, I did. As I made my way through the store, I came across the barbecue and grilling section and laid my eyes on one spice in particular – Georgia Boys All Purpose BBQ rub. I looked at it for a second and something in me said this one will be special. Maybe Savannah was still subconsciously on my mind, or maybe I’m a spice whisperer. Whatever it was, I’m glad for the instinct.

The spice was other worldly. The first words out of my mouth were oh my God. I then preceded to taste it two more times to have a measure of scientific certainty that it was as amazing as the first time. It was. I then preceded to call my friends over to taste it and they carried out the exact same steps as I had confirming my initial findings. This stuff is heavenly. I plan to put it on everything, just everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!

Georgia Boys All Purpose BBQ RubTo start with, I kept it simple and used it for baked chicken and roasted sweet potatoes. It was such an incredibly flavorful yet simple meal.

BBQ Sweet Potatoes BBQ Sweet Potatoes

I also bought some black onyx chocolate sugar. If the Georgia boys spice was heavenly, this was devilish. It was sinfully good. I’m not even going to cook with it. I just plan to sprinkle it on hot desserts (think Trader’s Joes mini churros), baked goods, and ice cream.

You’ll be seeing a recipe with the BBQ rub pretty soon, so be on the lookout.
Happy Sunday!

Style Travel

Savannah Style: Day 2

May 20, 2016

Here’s a look at what I wore for day 2 of sightseeing around Savannah.

Olde Harbour InnThe Olde Harbour InnThe Olde Harbour InnThe Olde Harbour InnThe Olde Harbour Inn

Funny story about these last few pics. We were walking past this gated building and my sister mentioned that it would be a nice backdrop for some pictures. Totally. Only one problem – it’s gated. Feeling adventurous, I’m like what the heck, I’ll hop the gate. I manage to wedge my foot into one of the holes and get over. Great. We get some cool shots and the mini photoshoot is a wrap.

Now it’s time to hop back over the gate. As I plant my feet into one of the holes, just as I had done before, the gate quickly parts open and I almost bust my behind on the cobblestone.

There was a brief pause to make sure nothing other than my pride was bruised, and then my sisters and I burst into laughter. It never occurred to me to check to see if the gate would open. It was like a scene straight out of a movie (think Bridesmaids when she climbs the fence and as she’s straddling it the gate slowly starts to open). Life lesson – sometimes life is simple.

Anyway, I loved this look. It felt nice and breezy as we walked around, but still put together. Adult onesies for the win!
Style Travel

Savannah Style: Day 1

May 19, 2016

I thought about combining the two outfits into one post, but I loved these looks so much that I wanted to give each one its time to shine. Both outfits came from Target and were under $30 a piece. #Targetforthewin:)

The Olde Harbour InnThe Olde Harbour Inn The Olde Harbour InnThe Olde Harbour InnThe Olde Harbour InnDress: Target, Shoes: Steve Madden via Macy’s, Bag: Ralph Lauren via Macy’s, Bangle: Thrifted, Assorted Rings: Old Navy, Fan: World Market

Outfit 2 coming soon!

Food Travel

Sister Summit in Savannah!

May 16, 2016

Last weekend my sisters and I went down to Savannah to celebrate my oldest sister’s birthday. It was the first trip that just the three of us had taken (I think ever) so I dubbed it our “Sister Summit in Savannah.” It was nice for us to be in a different space, just the three of us, and relax. We’re at a stage now where we hang out because we genuinely like each other – who knew?! I’m so grateful for the relationship we have now. It takes work, and we definitely still fight, but my sisters are my day ones:)

Where we stayed

Our accommodations were top notch. We stayed at the Olde Harbour Inn in the Riverview suite. Every afternoon hotel staff came around and brought an ice cream treat for the guests, in the evening there was a wine and cheese reception in the hotel lobby, and they offered a breakfast buffet each morning. It’s not your big box hotel, so it has a cozy and charming feel to it which I loved. As far as location, it’s right in the heart of things, so we were able to do a good bit of exploring without having to move our car. This turned out to be a good thing as the streets were completely lined with cobblestone – great for taking pictures, not so great for driving or walking in heels. We actually saw one girl in heels who took two steps from her car and then immediately turned right back around.

The View
We were right by the water and it was beautiful. As the sun set you could see headlights from cars illuminate the bridge off in the distance. 

The Shops
When we went exploring around the hotel there were a bunch of little touristy and specialty shops selling food and other trinkets. I picked up a couple incredible smelling soaps, some jams, two fans, a brass minute glass with pink sand, and a shirt that changes colors in the sun:) I wore it yesterday and couldn’t stop grinning while I was out running errands. I felt like a secret agent sitting on classified information that no one around me knew. (yes, I’m a dork – I own it).

The Peanut Shop

The Food
I filled my belly with some delicious food during our trip. For my sister’s birthday dinner, we ended up going to a restaurant called the Olde Pink House, which is an actual old pink house. It was walking distance from the hotel which was perfect.

The Olde Pink House
Caramelized vidalia onion sweet potato ravioli with oyster mushrooms and a savory pecan cream sauce.

I love going to restaurants in the South because “bread basket” means biscuits and corn muffins. They were honey biscuits guys. The kind that you would pay for on their own and they were giving them away for free. The corn muffins were literally knock your socks off good. The food would have been amazing if it ended there but it got even better. We all sampled each other’s dishes and between the three of us we ordered the crispy fried lobster tails, a sweet potato ravioli, and some pork chops. The MVP of the night in my opinion was the fried lobster tails. I could tell it was masterfully seasoned before I even started chewing the lobster. A runner up was definitely the mac and cheese. They had to have gotten the recipe from someone’s big mama. This is the type of restaurant that I’ll have to hit up anytime I’m in the area. There were a bunch of other items on their menu that I must try like the “Southern sushi” and goat cheese fritters.

We also hit up a couple of Asian and Asian fusion spots that did not disappoint:)

I found a couple of new snacks too that I’ll be featuring in the next segment of my snack easy series so be on the lookout for that next month.

Check back later in the week to see a recap of my Savannah style:)

NEW Snack Easy Series!

May 9, 2016

As promised, I’m bringing you the first installment of my snack easy series. I’m really excited about this one! I love my snacks, so starting this series was a no-brainer. This time around I have five snacks for you. On the list are a spicy jalapeño white cheddar popcorn, two kinds of KIND bars (couldn’t resist!), a miso ginger salmon jerky, and berry rhubarb frozen bars. Check out my thoughts on each snack below:

Spicy Jalapeño White Cheddar Popcorn
Bought at: Whole Foods
Price: $3.69
Repeat Purchase?: NO

Whole Foods 365 Spicy Jalapeno White Cheddar Popcorn

Whole Foods 365 Spicy Jalapeno White Cheddar Popcorn

As far as taste goes, this one was good but it wasn’t great. I found it to be lacking the spiciness factor that you’d expect with the name “spicy jalapeño.” Jalapeño is already spicy so you don’t need to say “spicy” jalapeño unless there’s an extra spiciness factor above what the jalapeño provides. This one didn’t deliver on that.  It is a bit denser than regular popcorn, which makes one cup of this more filling than one cup of air popped popcorn. You can actually eat one kernel of popcorn at a time rather than a few and be satisfied because of its denseness. The serving is 2.5 cups with 160 calories. It does have a fair amount of fat but it’s the unsaturated kind which is supposed to be better for you. While it’s heavy on the fat, it’s pretty light on fiber considering that one of the benefits of many types of popcorn is that it’s a good source of fiber. The bag costs under $4 and has 8 servings if you adhere to the recommended serving size, which makes it a great value for the money (less than $0.50 per serving). While the bag says its limited edition, I’m not crying about it. I’ve had other jalapeño white cheddar popcorn that I’ve found to be much better (one from NatureBox and one from Target). Since I wasn’t too impressed with the taste and it doesn’t deliver big on any key nutrients like protein or fiber, I won’t be buying this one again.

Berry Rhubarb Frozen Bars
Bought at: Whole Foods
Price: $2.99
Repeat Purchase?: YES

Whole Foods 365 Berry Rhubarb Fruit & Veggie Bar

Whole Foods 365 Berry Rhubarb Fruit & Veggie Bar

Out of all the snacks I bought, this one was by far my favorite. It’ll be a great snack to have on hand for the summer months. It’s a pretty big sized bar and rather filling for being less than 100 calories.  One bar actually counts as a 1/2 serving of your fruit & veggie requirements which is nice. Gotta get em in how you can! The sugar content may seem a bit high, but I checked the ingredients list and saw that sugar wasn’t listed until halfway through. This means that it’s not a prominent ingredient since ingredients are listed based on the amount used in the item. You get 4 bars for $3 which means that each bar is under a dollar. Based on its great taste, good value, and solid nutritional profile, I’ll definitely buy this again.

Miso Ginger Salmon Jerky
Bought at: Whole Foods
Price: $7.99
Repeat Purchase?: NO

Whole Foods Salmon Jerky

Whole Foods Salmon Jerky

Based on price alone, I knew before I bought this that it would only be an occasional treat if I ended up liking it. It’s $8 and only has three servings if you adhere to the recommended serving size. That makes each serving about $2.66. Fortunately for my wallet, this one was a miss. I didn’t get any hint of the miso ginger flavor which is what drew me to this item in the first place. It actually smells and tastes like something Nigerians cook with. I let my mom smell and taste it and she confirmed my thoughts. So if you’re a Nigerian with a hankering for some dried fish like you’d find in soup, this will be right up your alley. But if you’re expecting a miso ginger jerky similar to beef or turkey jerky, you’ll want to keep shopping. Nutritionally, this is a good snack with 12 grams of protein per serving. You’d just have to watch out for the sodium. This isn’t a huge bag so you could finish it all at once and it has 480 milligrams of sodium per serving which when multiplied by three gets you close to the 1500 range. Since it missed the miso ginger mark and comes with a hefty price tag, I will not be buying this one again.

KIND Cashew Ginger Bar
Bought at: My local co-op
Price: $1.79
Repeat Purchase?: NO
KIND Dark Chocolate Cinnamon PecanFrom the name, I was really excited to try this one. Overall it was just okay as far as taste goes. Technically all of the ingredients were there – I definitely tasted the cashew and ginger but it just fell flat. I’m thinking some more vanilla and cinnamon could have taken this over the edge. The texture was also off for me. It was pretty hard to chew like a taffy almost. As far as nutrition goes, this one is 200 calories per bar with 14 grams of fat. Only 2 of those grams are saturated fat though and it does contain nuts which are known to be high in unsaturated fats. It has an solid 5 grams of fiber, only 4 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. I love a high fiber snack. With one bar being the serving size, it’s not a bad value for the money either. Ultimately, I wouldn’t buy this again since the taste and texture were off for me. I will be trying other KIND bar varieties though.

KIND Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan Bar
Bought at: My local co-op
Price: $1.79
Repeat Purchase?: NO

This was another bar I was really excited to try with its decadent dark chocolate coating and promises of cinnamony goodness. With this one like the other KIND bar the taste was off for me. Again all of the ingredients were technically there they just didn’t come together as I had imagined. The texture was off on this one too. I checked the expiration dates on these to make sure I hadn’t picked up expired bars and they weren’t supposed to expire until November of this year. Nutritionally, this was similar to the cashew ginger bar. It has the same amount of calories with a slightly higher amount of fat (16 grams in total with 3.5 of those coming from saturated fat). It has an impressive 7 grams of fiber, just 5 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. While the cost is reasonable and the fiber content is great, ultimately the disappointing taste and extra chewy texture were its demise. I will not be buying this specific flavor again.

So there you have it. The first of what will be many more healthy snack reviews.  Snackin’ ain’t easy but someone’s gotta do it:)

P.S. If you have a healthier snack that you really enjoy, by all means tell me about it below. I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time, snack easy my friends.


New In: Snack Easy Series!

May 8, 2016

I am a hardcore snacker. At around 11:30am and 5pm on any given day you can find me eating a piece of fruit, some whole wheat toast with jam, pepperjack string cheese, a bowl of air popped popcorn, greek yogurt, and the list goes on and on (not all in the same day, of course!). I thoroughly enjoy my snack time. I’m like a kid that way.

Live Love Pop Lime Fresco

Whole Foods 365 Berry Rhubarb Fruit & Veggie Bar I’m a firm believer that snacking can be a part of a healthy lifestyle. The key is to snack with purpose. My snacks are planned with the same amount of care and consideration that my meals are. That means that I’m mindful about what snacks I choose, how much I snack on, and when I snack.

While snacks are awesome, the hardest part may be figuring out what to snack on. There are so many choices out there. How do you know if something is good for you, whether it tastes good, or if it’s a good value for the money?

That’s where I want to help. Consider me your snacking fairy. Now, I won’t be leaving healthy snacks under your pillow, but I will do the “painstaking and grueling” work of testing out different snacks, and letting you know whether they’re worth a trip to the grocery store.

I’ll be judging the snacks on three criteria: nutrition, taste, and value. Based on those things I’ll give my verdict as to whether I would purchase it again, and if so how often.

Check back tomorrow for the first installment! It’ll feature a “spicy” popcorn, some fruit and veggie bars, and a jerky, among other things.

And happy Mother’s Day to all of the amazing mothers out there:)

Until then, snack easy my friends.