Thomas and I like to think of ourselves as a “let’s eat pizza in bed” type of couple, but this past Sunday, we put on our fancy hats and hit the Short North for a date night. Ohio received some beautiful weather this weekend, so we weren’t about to take that for granted. That being said, I was exhausted yesterday from exposing myself to so much sunlight. It’s like I was a vampire over the winter – I chose to wear a dress to blind everyone with my pale legs. Needless to say, I am ready for this warmth and sunshine to stay!
I wasn’t sure where Tom and I were headed the other night; he made surprise reservations, though, so I knew it would be something good. Not to my surprise, it exceeded my expectations.
The Guild House is one of the many Cameron Mitchell restaurants popping up in the Columbus area. And to be perfectly honest, this one is the best. I’ve been to almost all of his restaurants and I can attest to their accommodating service and impeccable eats. We were greeted by the maitre d’ with warmth and enthusiasm. He checked on us periodically and made sure I had everything I needed in terms of my gluten allergy. Speaking of which, the gluten-free rolls were incredible – moist, flavorful, and fresh. I love the bread Cameron Mitchell uses in his restaurants. They never taste too grainy or spongy, like most do.
It should be noted that the food here is exceptional, and I’m not just saying this because Thomas knows the executive chef, himself. Sure, we expected the food to be delicious, but this blew our minds. The scallops were as soft as butter, and melted in your mouth as such, bursting with flavor. I had to hold myself back from throwing the fork behind me, grabbing them all with my hands and shoving them into my mouth like a barbarian. But I’m a lady sometimes and people were watching. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t in the sanctity of my own home, dipping garlic bread in butter and binge-watching Bob’s Burgers.
Thomas ordered the chicken roulade, easily the star of the show. Our fabulous waiter informed us that this chicken takes about three days to make, and we understand why. Chicken can be very boring, but it can also be very flavorful, depending on how you marinade it, etc, etc… However, this was matchless. You cannot make this at home, guys. The best chicken I’ve ever had. Period. End of story. Need I say more?
The price is high for smaller portion sizes, but this is quality dining and to be expected. My suggestion would be to order side dishes in addition to your meal, however, you’ll obviously be paying more for this. In terms of parking, there’s a parking garage right across the street where you’ll pay around $5, but they do offer valet for $10. Otherwise, the Short North can be highly trafficked so be sure to arrive early enough to scour the area for a spot.
I think I’ve said enough to lure you into a date night at the renowned Guild House. John Paul Iacobucci’s Italian heritage and artistic approach to food is a genius addition to Cameron Mitchell’s unforgettable dining experience. Bravo. Beautiful interior design, outstanding service, incredible cuisine… This is the new Columbus staple, no doubt.
What’s the secret to living past 100? No sugar. At least that’s what health expert Dr. Leila Denmark used to say, and she lived to be 114. She practiced medicine until age 103 and she even refused to eat a piece of cake during her 110th birthday party. While a bit extreme, I think this woman was on to something. And modern-day nutritionists would agree.
The Internet has recently blown up in a fury of 21-Day Fix, Whole30® and Paleo recipes, and for good reason. These eating plans offer tangible results in the form of weight loss, clearer skin, sound sleeping and much more. After some of my friends tried the Whole30 and were happy with their results, I decided to see how this cleanse could help me and if the claims were true.
What is the Whole30?
The Whole30 is a month-long nutritional reset focused on the elimination of inflammatory food groups. That’s right people, that means you cut out all of the good stuff including dairy (my all-time personal favorite), legumes, sugar, alcohol and grains. Corn and peanuts in any form are also on the no-no list.
What Should You Know Going In?
The Whole30 is a major commitment and a time-consuming change. You must factor in time to do your research. I recommend purchasing the Whole30 book as a first step so you can really educate yourself on the method behind the madness. Additionally, it helps to pair up with a friend to make this commitment. I’d suggest partnering with a roommate or significant other; someone you consume most of your meals with to hold you accountable and make the process more fun. My amazing boyfriend agreed to do the Whole30 with me and I don’t know how I would’ve done it without him. (He had to talk me out of giving up and eating peanut M&M’s on a few different occasions.) He also cooked most of the meals due to our different schedules, while I was the planner.
That brings me to my next point…plan, plan plan. It’s important to keep your recipes fun and fresh so you don’t get tired of what you’re eating and fall back into old cravings and habits. Pinterest is full of creative Whole30 ideas and there are a number of blogscommitted to a Paleo/Whole30 lifestyle. Each week I’d spend a day planning out what I wanted to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner that upcoming week to set myself up for success.
Even grocery shopping is more time consuming! Get used to reading labels for EVERYTHING. This part of the experience was truly eye-opening for me because you really don’t realize how much junk you’re consuming on a regular basis until you open your eyes and read!
Lastly, the cooking itself takes time. Meal prep is a really important habit to develop. You’ll need to prepare what you’re eating for breakfasts and lunches during the week. For dinner you can either make a few recipes in bulk or cook easy recipes each night.
How Should You Stock Your Fridge?
As you begin your journey, you’ll want to stock your fridge with go-to healthy staples to make the entire process easier. While you’ll have to make the majority of your sauces, dressings etc. on your own, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s do carry some of the essentials to make the process easier. Some of my favorites are below.
Wholly Guacamole mini packets will become your best friend. Not only are they easy to throw into a lunch, but they’re quite filling. I dipped carrots and celery into this guacamole for a satisfying snack.
TessaMae’s is pretty much the only compliant condiment brand. I recommend the southwest ranch and lemon flavors. There is also a date-based BBQ sauce which is great for grilling and the hot sauce isn’t too shabby either.
Tahini Sauce from Trader’s Joe’s is another great option for dipping veggies. It’s important to have a few different options so you don’t get tired of the food you’re consuming.
Hard-Boiled Eggs were one of my favorite go-to foods during this process. I could make them Sunday and have them ready for the week. They’re filling too!
LaraBars, while not my favorite snack initially, they were generally pretty filling and satisfied my craving for sweets, especially the apple cinnamon. Turns out the lemon flavor was pretty tasty as well. Just be sure you read the labels because not all bars are compliant.
What Are The Best Whole30 Recipes?
With such a plethora of information out there I was really excited but overwhelmed to find recipes I liked and didn’t like. I’ve included links to some of my favorites below.
It was very challenging to find enjoyable foods when dining out (contrary to what the book says). This was the most challenging part for me because my boyfriend and I are total foodies who love dining out. We pretty much limited ourselves to the three options below, but if you do enough research you can find compliant foods elsewhere.
Chipotle: Order lettuce with carnitas, tomato salsa, red salsa and green sauce. These are the only items not cooked in rice bran oil which is NOT compliant.
La Patrona: This little Mexican joint In Clintonville serves up some delicious fajitas. Enjoy them with just meat and vegetables, hold the tortilla. Top them with some fresh guacamole and you’ve got yourself a meal. Just be sure to confirm what oil they cook their meats in, especially if you visit a different Mexican restaurant.
Northstar: The chopped salad is amazing. Order it without croutons, blue cheese and dressing. I substituted olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. The almonds add a nice crunch and the smoked turkey is delicious. Apples help to sweeten this dish!
Will the Whole30 Change Your Life?
Maybe not. But it will change your body. In the words of motivation speaker James Clear, “If you want to be in the best shape of your life, then losing 20 pounds might be necessary. But the only way to reach that result is to fall in love with the process of eating healthy and exercising consistently.”
In other words, it’s a lifestyle change, not just 30 days. Through my experience with the Whole30, I found that I toned and flattened my stomach, had more energy during my workouts and even improved my sleep cycle each night. I’d definitely recommend the experience for awareness, however I decided it was a bit too extreme for me to maintain. I’d like to reincorporate healthy dairy items like Greek yogurt and cottage cheese into my diet because they have a lot of protein and I’m a very active person. They key is finding what works for your needs by adapting the framework.
Additionally I’d like to be able to enjoy myself when I go out to dinner, but I’ll definitely be limiting this after I learned a about all the hidden ingredients found in seemingly healthy dishes (aka SUGAR). My boyfriend and I like the basis of the plan so it’s our goal to follow an 80/20 paleo diet, treating ourselves 20% of the time, because life’s too short!
Have you tried the Whole30? I’d love to hear about your experience so feel free to leave a comment!
I love it when food videos go viral. Last week, I watched what my older siblings, parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents ate for dinner through the years. All in three minutes. It’s called “100 Years of Family Dinners” – watch here:
Thank GOD spam isn’t a thing anymore. Or fondue. I could definitely bring back roast beef and franconia potatoes, though.
There’s plenty to notice in this video, but the most obvious stands out: each meal reflects its own time period. Take TV dinners, for example. During WWII, food shortages introduced newly created processed foods. This was also a time when television was becoming a new-found phenomenon in America. Put the two together, and you’ve got yourself a TV dinner – the beginning of convenience meals.
Of course, everyone remembers taco night in the 90s. It was an easy choice for all those picky eaters (like me) who could choose their toppings without screaming at mom. Just kidding, I wasn’t that mean. We were all just in a constant sugar high during the 90s. No big.
But let’s talk about the last one: salmon, quinoa pilaf, and a kale salad. I wouldn’t say it’s on my list of dinner ideas, but it exemplifies the biggest trending foods out there right now: kale and quinoa. It also supports the foodie-health-nut phase we’re in. It’s not a bad thing until people become pretentious about it *throws shade at hipsters*.
Basically, each meal evolved into something vastly different, and I wonder if it has something to do with the conflicting health studies that emerged in each decade. Atkins told us carbs were bad one year, and the next year, we were told they’re okay… but in moderation. So we’ve adjusted our meals as such. But what’s funny is that every meal in this video includes some sort of carb. Almost half of the meals, however, do not include a vegetable. Hm…
This video was meant to make you think, just like all of Mode’s videos are meant to do. They just happen to be extremely enjoyable, too. For the past week, I’ve been wondering what I often include/exclude in my dinners. Am I incorporating enough vegetables? Is there something to be said about what everyone was eating in the 1920s?
I can’t take any credit for the star of my dinner this week. Catie and her boyfriend have been kicking butt with Whole30 lately and inspired me to make THESE:
They look like ordinary chicken fingers. They smell like ordinary chicken fingers. But they’re even better. They’re HEALTHY. Yeah, yeah, I know, you’ve heard it all before, but I mean it. My nutritionist even made these after I told her about them. That’s a huge win, everyone! Dietitian recommended (I probably can’t say that…).
In any case, I got the recipe from Generation Y Foodie after my two little love birds ate a similar dish a couple of weeks ago. They’re paleo almond chicken fingers, with a little bit of a kick from the added cayenne pepper and paprika. If you want to make them unhealthy, dip them in maple syrup. It sounds insane, and it is. The sugar really balances out the salty (read: A Balancing Act of the Sweet and Savory and you’ll see what I mean).
Alright. Now what? The obvious side dish for chicken tenders would be french fries, right? Of course. Try breaking out the ol’ cast iron skillet and roasting up some red-skinned potatoes. Throw in some Brussels sprouts and onions, while you’re at it. This may not be deep-fried goodness, but it’s a healthy twist on a classic side dish.
I love a colorful dish like this – especially when it includes green (lookin’ at you, Brussels sprouts). You can use any skillet you want with this, but the cast iron gives the potatoes a nice sear. Caramelized onions can add a lot of flavor without you having to reach for too much salt. I’ve included the recipe below.
I know I’m being my mother right now and not including exact measurements for each ingredient, but it’s really up to you how much you want to make. There are no wrong answers here.
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cut up the Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and red onion. Make sure your potatoes and sprouts are cut into bite-sized pieces and your onion is diced into much smaller pieces.
Heat a 10-inch or larger cast iron skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Meanwhile, put your potatoes and onions in a mixing bowl. Add olive oil and mix. You want these to be pretty coated, but not too much. Just enough to lightly cover most of the mixture.
Throw your potatoes and onions into the cast iron skillet. Using a wooden spoon, spread the mixture so that it’s evenly distributed across the skillet.
Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 15 minutes, add in your Brussels sprouts and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the potatoes and sprouts are soft.
Take your skillet off the heat and let it cool. The potatoes usually soften even more during this time.
Serve with almond chicken tenders…
There you have it. A healthy twist on a kid’s meal. A happy meal, if you will…
While everyone else was out having a life this weekend, I spent most of mine in pajamas, practicing new tips and tricks in the kitchen and watching TV. All within three days, Tom and I managed to cook the best breakfast for dinner we’ve ever had, screw it up the next morning, cut up a chicken for the first time, watch 90s Nickelodeon commercials for hours, and sorta-kinda fail at frying chicken (it ended with me ugly-crying in Tom’s arms and hoping we didn’t get Salmonella – spoiler: we didn’t).
Tom and I woke up Monday morning exhausted, yet all the more educated. Here’s what we learned:
1. Cutting a whole chicken into eight pieces is difficult
I was really grateful to have Tom in the kitchen with me this weekend, especially when it came time to cutting a whole chicken. I must have watched an instructional video five times before actually doing it, and I STILL needed to watch it as I went. So, you can imagine how nice it was to have someone press play and pause on command. But the most challenging aspect of cutting a chicken was lacking the right set of tools. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chef’s knife, so we had to put some elbow grease into it. Make sure you do the following when cutting a chicken for the first time:
Use a chef’s knife for almost all of the cutting
Poultry shears come in handy when cutting the breast bone
When cutting for the first time, have an assistant in the kitchen with you while you watch this ten times:
2. Millennials don’t eat cereal anymore – and it’s not because we’re too lazy
I read an article on Friday saying Millennials didn’t eat cereal anymore. The reason? We’re too lazy to wash our spoon and bowl. Crazy, right? I didn’t buy into it, either. Well, after gorging on 90s commercials this weekend, I was convinced the article was a fallacy. There’s a reason we aren’t eating cereal anymore, and it’s not because we’re too lazy… it’s because we were eating dessert for breakfast. I mean, come on, do any of you remember what a “complete and balanced breakfast” was considered in the 90s? A bowl of sugar and milk, orange juice, and a plate full of buttery toast. Sure, it was delicious, but no wonder I was sleeping at my desk by 10AM in grade school – I was crashing.
But don’t blame mom. She thought SlimFast was a meal.
3. Water in the skillet is the best trick for cooking perfect bacon
Cooking bacon in a skillet can be really messy. But I read a little trick to eliminate the majority of splatter from bacon grease sizzling on the stove: adding water. What you want to do is start off with a cold skillet. Line your bacon up in the skillet and then pour enough water in to cover the bottom. Then, put your skillet on the stove, turn to medium-high heat, and wait for the water to boil off (about eight minutes). Make sure to flip your bacon once within those eight minutes. Then, once the water is almost completely evaporated, turn your heat down to medium and flip until crispy. Easy-peasy.
4. The most frustrating way to cook chicken is by frying it
But it can have a yummy outcome, if you do it the right way…
Hey, here’s an interesting fact: oil heats up quicker than water because the heat capacity of oil is lower than the heat capacity of water. I’m really smart and totally knew that…
Yeah, so frying chicken can be easy if you can get the oil at the right temperature, which is really difficult to measure. Tom discovered an easy way to do it, though. Try dipping a wooden spoon into the oil – if it bubbles, it’s ready. I suggest turning your heat to medium and testing with the wooden spoon a couple minutes into heating the oil. Then, once your oil is ready, give the chicken 10-12 minutes to fry. The trick is making sure the oil isn’t too hot, or else your breading will burn and your chicken won’t cook thoroughly… (cue my ugly-crying)
In short: This weekend was an emotional roller coaster in the kitchen. Let’s face it – teaching yourself how to cook isn’t a walk in the park; you’re going to fail at times. But it’s important to laugh at the failures and celebrate the successes – even the minor ones.
Oh, and one last tip: if all else fails, old Nickelodeon cartoons are always the best remedy for a happy ending.
One of my favorite birthday gifts I received last month was the Kitchn’s official cookbook. In addition to recipes every cook should have in their back pocket, it includes chapters covering kitchen organization, key cooking tips, and entertaining advice – all important details that are usually absent and forgotten from traditional cookbooks.
Okay, so this got me thinking – how often do I forget the basics? I’m not just talking about the proper way to chop garlic; I’m talking about the food we love – the kind that’s so simple, we often take it for granted. I’ve compiled a small list of favorites as a reminder to us all:
1. Scrambled Eggs
My sister and her now-husband lived with my family before they bought their first place as a married couple. One of the perks of living with them? I’d wake up every Sunday morning to the smell of them cooking breakfast for us. I was so spoiled and never had to cook my own… so by the time I was in college, I attempted to cook scrambled eggs for my roommates and I burnt them.
How stupid do you have to be to mess up scrambled eggs? Well, after a few more practice rounds, I got the hang of it. Now that I’m older and more sophisticated (lol), I’ve learned how to make some AMAZING scrambled eggs *pats self on back*. Friends don’t let other friends burn scrambled eggs. You’re welcome.
Crack all of your eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk. You can use a regular whisk or a fork. The trick is to use your wrist when whisking. Make sure it all turns completely yellow and that there aren’t any lumps.
Add a splash of milk. Don’t add too much, don’t add too little. Pretty straightforward, right? Sorry. Use a splash for every five eggs. You want them to be fluffy, not liquid-y.
Add salt and pepper. I’d say about a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper. Whisk the mixture.
Meanwhile, add a half of a tablespoon of butter to a skillet and turn it on medium heat.
While your butter is heating up, add cheese to the whisked, egg mixture. If you are using slices, I’d use two slices and rip them up into 1-inch pieces. If you’re using shredded, add 1/3 of a cup (you can always add more later as the eggs are cooking). Stir. NOTE: Try using softer cheese. It’ll melt better and have a gooey texture. If you use harder cheeses, you’re more likely to get a plastic texture.
Once your cheese is added into the mixture, check your butter in the skillet. Lift the skillet and tilt it in each direction to spread the melted butter around. Set it back down, wet your fingers with water and flick it on the skillet. If it bubbles and you hear sizzling, it’s ready.
Slowly pour your egg mixture into the skillet. Let it sit for a few seconds and then stir it with a wooden spoon or spatula. The trick is to keep it moving – don’t let it sit for too long or else it might burn or get rubbery. Keep stirring it every few seconds.
When they’re getting close to being done, feel free to add more cheese.
Once the liquid is absorbed and the eggs look fluffy, serve immediately. Add more salt and pepper, if desired.
2. Mashed Potatoes
I can’t take full credit for making these perfect mashed potatoes; Catie gave me an awesome recipe recently – so I’ve combined our efforts into the recipe below. Mashed potatoes can be so simple, you don’t even need a hand mixer to make them, but you MUST follow these steps.
5 russet or red-skinned potatoes
Whisk or hand mixer
Peel all of your potatoes. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just do the best you can.
After the potatoes are peeled, cut each potato into fourths. This helps the potatoes cook faster and evenly.
Throw (but not really; be gentle…) the potatoes into a larger pot and fill the pot with enough water to cover the potatoes. Add salt and put a lid on the pot. NOTE: Adding salt and keeping the lid on the pot helps speed up the process.
Put the pot on the stove and set to high heat. Wait for the water to boil and then turn down the heat so it’s at a rolling boil. Set your timer for 15-20 minutes. This is usually how long is takes to cook potatoes all the way through.
To test if your potatoes are cooked, stick a fork in each. If the fork slides in very easily, they’re ready.
Once your potatoes are ready, strain the water out. Add the potatoes to a mixing bowl and using your whisk or your hand mixer, mix potatoes a little so they mash.
Add 1/4 cup of milk, a tablespoon of salt, a cup of shredded cheese, and a tablespoon of butter. Continue to mix.
Keep adding more milk little by little until potatoes have a fluffy texture. Feel free to add more butter, too. Again, it’s about adding a little bit as you go. You don’t want them too clumpy or too liquid-y, so you’ll have to taste-test as you go.
Add your minced garlic at the end. The amount is entirely up to you. I usually add about two tablespoons. Feel free to add more salt here, too. These puppies don’t even need gravy.
3. Grilled Cheese
Tom is the grilled cheese master, hands down. The trick here is to make sure the cheese is soft – it’s as straightforward as that. Sometimes I like to think I have a more refined palette, but that goes out the window when I tell everyone that Velveeta is the best cheese for a mouth-watering grilled cheese…
If you hate the thought of using Velveeta, trust me, I understand. Please do yourself a favor, though, and use soft cheese. Qualifiers include American, Swiss, Monterey Jack, cheddar, or fontina. Also, if you have the time, you should read the Kitchn’s 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Grilled Cheese.
2 slices of bread
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup grated cheese, or 1 slice
Place a skillet over medium heat, add butter, and let it melt completely. Just like you did with your eggs, you’ll want to wet your hands, flick it on the butter, and if it sizzles, it’s ready. Spread the butter around with a spatula.
Rub a piece of bread in the melted butter. You only need to rub one side.
Pile your cheese on top of the bread in the skillet. Cover the pan with a lid and let the cheese melt until it’s almost entirely melted, but you can still see some distinct cheese pieces, 2 to 3 minutes. In the meantime, butter your other piece of bread on one side.
Top the sandwich with the other piece of bread (buttered side up). Squish slightly so the top adheres to the melted cheese. Flip the sandwich over.
Cook until toasted golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Feel free to flip over again, if you want the other side more toasted. Serve immediately.
Okay, so that’s your basic grilled cheese. I’ve heard of people adding veggies, such as jalapenos. You should get creative, but learn to master a perfect grilled cheese first.
The moral of the story? Never stop playing with your food, even the most basic recipes. Don’t take these meals for granted! *steps off soapbox*
Are you picking up what I’m putting down? I’m talking about all food sweet and savory. And even though I don’t necessarily care for any of the snacks listed above, I’m certainly not writing off its intention! My main gripe about these sweet and salty staples lies in its two extreme flavors melding together in a 1:1 ratio. “Well, that’s the point, you idiot,” one might say. I’m crazy, I know, but hear me out! The secret is a balancing act – a sweet and savory dish doesn’t have to be as simple as 2 + 2 = 4. Rather, it should be an imbalanced equation (without the high school chemistry classes…).
Creating a sweet and savory dish with complex flavors doesn’t have to be, well, complex. Take stir-fry, for example. A simple stir-fry usually involves oil, rice, vegetables, meat, and a sauce such as soy or teriyaki. Why not take it a step further by adding honey, coconut oil, or brown sugar? Trust me, it’s a delicious spin on traditional stir-fry without being overpowering; we’re complementing the flavors that already exist in stir-fry.
Meatloaf is another savory, traditional meal. Everyone has a recipe, and it’s almost always good. Bread crumbs, eggs, lean meat, salt, pepper, boom. But let’s turn up the heat a little. Whisk together 1/4 cup of ketchup, two tablespoons of brown sugar, and a dash of mustard in a bowl. Pour it on top of the meatloaf and whoa, hey guys, you’ve added another element to your meatloaf you’ve never dreamed could be real.
You know what? I’m feeling dangerous. Let’s go even further with this. Meat. Loaf. Sandwiches. MEATLOAF SANDWICHES. AHHHH! THEY’RE SO GOOD! Seriously. And what’s better than putting meatloaf on bread? I’ll tell you: it’s putting meatloaf on French Brioche, topped with that crazy ketchup/brown sugar sauce and Monterey Jack cheese. It’s the ultimate comfort food – the hint of sweetness from the brioche complements the tang of the sauce, all the while balancing the savory meatloaf and cheese. The smell of these flavors merging in the toaster oven comes to life, lifts you off your feet, and entices you into the kitchen, leaving a trail of drool behind you.
For all of you kettle corn fans out there, I hope I haven’t offended thee. We cool?