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…
Cooking for one person has its pros and cons. For example, while it’s cheaper to cook for just myself, it’s time-consuming to plan a different meal each day of the week without wasting ingredients (and money). Therefore, I make one meal in bulk for the entire week. Here’s why:
1. It’s easy
I work a nine-to-five job. When I come home, I’m usually VERY hungry and exhausted. It’s almost effortless to grab a meal in the fridge, heat it up, and eat it within five minutes. This means more time to be lazy and watch cartoons in bed. Wahoo! Or, ya know, exercise or something.
2. It’s healthy
Lately, the words “easy” and “unhealthy” have become synonymous (think: fast food, microwavable frozen dinners, etc…). Making your food in bulk eliminates this confusion. For example, if I come home from work and I don’t have anything to eat, I’ll be more tempted to eat fast food, microwave a meal, or just chomp on some chips (I’ve been known to eat many chip dinners in my day). However, if I take time on Sunday to plan a healthy tasty meal in bulk, I’ll happily eat it every night without overeating or snacking.
3. It’s cheap
When you buy groceries for one meal each week, you’re more likely to use all of those ingredients in one sitting (at least the perishable ones). This eliminates food going bad the next week or getting lost in the back of the pantry. I cringe thinking of the times I’ve thrown away a pound of chicken after accidentally neglecting it in the fridge for a week.
4. You can switch things up
Cooking a meal in bulk doesn’t mean you need to limit yourself to the same meal every night. A few weeks ago, I made meatloaf; a simple meal that can quickly become boring. It doesn’t have to be this way! One night I ate it with mashed potatoes, another night with veggies, and another night as a sandwich on French brioche. Try making a different sauce for it each night. Use your imagination – this is the time to get creative.
5. You have time to experiment with your food
If I don’t cook my meal in bulk one week and have somehow managed to forego fast food or chip dinner, I’ll usually rush through a recipe because I’m so hungry after work. That’s no fun. Wouldn’t you rather take the time you need on Sunday night to experiment with your dishes? Not to mention, some dishes require research. For example, I made spicy chicken sausage with gnocchi this week where the recipe called for the sausage to be sliced into coins. If I wouldn’t have been in such a rush, I could’ve frozen the sausage, cut it up, and then thawed it for my dish. Instead, I cut it when it was soft and it came out in lumps. Don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious, but it was kind of a bummer and could’ve been avoided.
Here are a few ideas for some healthy, easy meals to make in bulk for your week:
Tom and I discovered Dough Mama about a month ago while eating at Cornerstone Cafe. It seemed to pop up in a day’s time… either that, or we’re totally oblivious of what happens in Clintonville. In any case, we vowed to ditch DK Diner the next weekend and give Dough Mama’s breakfast a try. We weren’t disappointed.
This tiny bakery with its yellow exterior has a great atmosphere. It’s cozy, simple, and refreshing. I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to eat anything off of their menu since I have a gluten allergy, but they were very accommodating. The oatmeal didn’t make my stomach sound like an old man grumbling and it tasted great (I don’t usually have a problem with oatmeal, but some Celiacs advise against it). Tom really enjoyed his meatloaf sandwich, too. I suppose our only disappointment involved the side dishes. They serve their breakfast with salad, which is great if you’re healthy and cool, but Tom and I are lame and want potatoes dipped in grease… or, you know, any kind of potato dish will do.
Their coffee is top-notch. Have you ever heard of Thunderkiss? It’s based in Columbus and it’s the best coffee I’ve ever had. Well, Dough Mama has it. So thank you, Dough Mama, for contributing to my coffee addiction.
Tom decided against buying a pastry since we were full from breakfast, but I’d love to go back and see what they’re all about. Unfortunately, they don’t have any gluten-free baked goods on the menu, so in the meantime, I’ll just have to sit and watch Tom enjoy them *cue the sad violins*.
Dough Mama is located right on High Street, about a block away from North Broadway, so the location is great. You’ll have to park on the street, I believe, but parking is free.
Prices are a little high, but it’s worth it. The food is fresh, the coffee is outrageous, and the atmosphere is relaxed… we’ll definitely be back.
St. Patrick’s Day was a beloved, celebrated holiday in the McGillicuddy household when I was growing up. I can remember my parents drinking booze as my siblings and I would mock the Irish Stepdancers that came to our school that day.
Nevertheless, I have fond memories of St. Patrick’s Day, mostly due to the traditional Irish Stew that was served for dinner. Recently, my mother (an exceptional cook) passed on the recipe. And although I’m a few months off, I’ve decided to tackle mom’s Irish Stew because it’s getting cold outside and I need comfort food.
As my boyfriend and I walked up and down the aisles of the grocery store, gathering each ingredient necessary for a perfect Irish Stew, he turned to me and asked, “So it’s Shepherd’s Pie?” to which I responded, “Uh… uh… yes?”
But alas, I was wrong. There is a difference… I think (I’m still trying to wrap my head around it). I suppose the crucial difference between the two is one is a “pie” and one is a “stew” (duh). I guess one is soupier than the other. I also think Shepherd’s Pie is cooked in the oven with mashed potatoes on top.
I don’t know, here are the Wikipedia pages for each:
Regardless, my mom used to cook Holiday Potatoes to spoon on top of the stew after it was done cooking. Holiday Potatoes are basically cream cheese, sour cream, butter, and mashed potatoes all mixed together and thrown into the oven to get kinda crusty. Since I don’t feel like clogging my arteries today, I decided to use regular mashed potatoes to spoon on top.
You can either use a sauce pan or a Crock Pot to make the stew. I chose the Crock Pot route because there’s no flame involved and I could keep this simmering for hours without a worry in the world (keep in mind, the longer the flavors meld, the better). Just make sure to brown the stew meat in a skillet before combining everything together.
Another note to keep in mind is that you can choose to thicken the stew by slowly adding a cornstarch-water mixture (but that might cross into the realm of Shepherd’s Pie, and then you’d be a traitor).
Overall, the recipe is very straightforward:
2 lbs. beef stew meat (they usually have this in chunks for you)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 can beef broth (13 3/4 oz.)
1 cup water
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper (I know, I thought it was weird, too… but it exists)
1 bay leaf
2 medium onions, diced
6 medium carrots, cut in thirds
Brown beef in oil.
In a saucepan or Crock Pot, add beef broth, water, parsley and salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 1 hour (or more).
Add onions and carrots; simmer for 30 minutes more or until beef is tender (if using a Crock Pot, you can just do steps 2 and 3 at the same time). You can simmer for longer, if you’d like. The longer these ingredients cook together, the better.
Spoon mashed potatoes over stew and sprinkle with peas and Parmesan to taste.
‘Twas a glorious meal; one that can be served any time of the year. But you may find yourself eager to make this on St Patrick’s Day, Irish jigging around the house as God frowns upon you. At least your tummy will be full of delight.