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My Top 5 Things to Skip and to See in London

I recently turned 30 and I was honestly not at all upset about it. I have no problem with aging gracefully. Although, it has made me more aware of what I haven’t yet accomplished and what I’d like to focus more of my energy on (or not). I’m feeling the urge to check more and more countries off my bucket list ASAP!

Since it was a big birthday, Dan surprised me with a birthday trip. He didn’t tell me where we were going until we got to the airport, which I was totally fine with because I love an adventure.

So if you don’t follow me on social media (you should follow me @sarah_likesfood), I’ll fill you in… he took me to LONDON!

I’d never been (unless you count flight layovers, which you shouldn’t) so I was super pumped to take in this amazing city. It was everything I imagined it would be and more. I fell in love.

We were there for about a week so I was able to see and experience most of the things I really wanted to, but you could truly spend a month in London and not see everything. There is SO MUCH to do!

When I was younger I loved a big party and really thrived on the energy of it all, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve really started to loathe crowds. I just do not have a great time in a throng of people running into each other.

Since Dan was surprising me with the trip, he laid out a few ideas, but left the itinerary pretty open so we could do whatever I wanted. I typically prefer a more low-key laid back vacation, so we decided to try to find some off-the-beaten-path activities for this trip. Plus, everyone knows about the hot spots and cool tourist attractions in London from T.V. or just experience, so I don’t really need to fill you in on those.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t do all of the tried and true stereotypical touristy London things⁠—you totally should, and I did many of them!⁠ I’m just saying… there are options.

So, this is a good round up if you’ve been to London before and are looking for something new to check out this time around, or if you are just someone who likes to avoid the crowds (me). I’ll also fill you in on things that I personally could’ve done without, and things that I loved.

  1. You already know- The London Eye

Don’t get me wrong, this is a popular tourist stop for a reason. Everyone has heard of the London Eye. It’s a major landmark of the city⁠— and a pretty cool one at that! But I’m gonna be honest with you… spending 27£ to wait in line forever isn’t exactly my idea of a good time.

Must See- The Emirates Air Line cable car

Emirates cable car over London

Cable car over London

At a fraction of the price of the Eye, you can get a bird’s eye view of the fastest growing area of the city while floating high above the River Thames.

While searching for something else online, this popped up as a targeted ad, and I’m so glad it did! I’d never ridden a cable car that high up before and it was an awesome experience, but I wouldn’t recommend this one if you’re afraid of heights.

I recommend taking the train to the Royal Docks near Canning Town to start, and riding the cable car over to Greenwich. From there you can catch a show at O2 arena (you can even walk on the roof) or just wander the adorable streets of Greenwich like we did.

The cable car is actually part of the tube system of London, so the pricing is super cheap and you can pay with your Oyster card. The ride is only 1.70£ one way or 3.50£ for round trip. We did one way then took the tube back to home base.

This was such a cool, different way to see the city, plus, hardly any line! We waited only a couple minutes for a car, and you can’t beat the price.

  1. You already know- China Town

China Town is awesome and if you’ve never been to China Town in a major city, you should definitely stop by. However, if you’ve been to China Town elsewhere and only have a few days in London, I’d say skip it and spend your time doing something else.

Must See- Brick Lane

Brick Lane is a trendy area that is known for its Asian cuisine and fun bar scene. Since it was once the hub for the Bangladeshi community in London, there are Bangladeshi restaurants to choose from, but also a large assortment of other Asian food spots to check out.

You will see an endless amount of curry restaurants here, which gives it its nickname of Curry Row. With the limitless options, it can honestly feel a bit overwhelming if you’re like me and have trouble making decisions when you’re hungry. They all looked and smelled so good!

  1. You already know- Camden Market

Honestly, I was not a fan. It was uncomfortably crowded to a level I’ve never experienced before. I’ve heard there are cool shops there, but I wasn’t able to make it through the jam-packed crowds past the cheesy souvenir tee-shirt shops to get to them.

However, I will say it was really nice to walk along the water here and watch boaters navigate the locks. If you want to check out Camden, head straight to the water for a leisurely stroll.

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Must See- Portobello Street Market

This market was amazing. I love vintage clothes and antiques, and the vintage options at this market were the best I’ve ever seen. I literally could’ve walked away with a whole new wardrobe, but I restrained myself.

There was stall after stall of beautiful fashions from the 40s-90s in pristine condition. Any vintage-lover’s dream. They also had art and food vendors that made this a great way to spend a morning or afternoon.

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If you’re into vintage, this is a MUST SEE. It definitely doesn’t hurt that it’s located in the cute Notting Hill borough with all of its brightly colored row houses. After you’ve browsed the market, be sure to take a walk through this picturesque neighborhood.

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  1. You already know- Buckingham Palace

If you’re from the U.S. and have no experience with royalty, I know it’s alluring to have the chance to see a palace where actual royalty lives. I totally get it. I had to see it too. It’s a real novelty for us.

However, you can’t go inside because it is still an actual residence, so there’s really not much to see here except huge crowds of tourists hanging around outside the gates. You most likely won’t see a member of the royal family, and the building itself is not that impressive, especially compared to many of the other beautiful buildings in London.

Take a quick peek from across the street and move on.

Must See- Palace of Placentia in Greenwich

Once you’ve taken the cable car to Greenwich, stop by this small-scale palace while you’re there. While it’s not the most ornate palace you’ll find in London, it is free to the public (major plus) and absolutely beautiful inside.

This former palace is now an art museum, so you can take in the art while also getting a history lesson. Plaques on the walls of each room tell you what the rooms were once used for and a bit of history about the people who lived there.

Palace of Placentia

Beautiful woodwork and black and white checkered floors at Palace of Placentia

I was obsessed with the architecture and decor of this place. The black and white tiled floor in the main room is mesmerizing and the blue iron work on the spiral staircase was so beautiful against the white walls. The symmetry of it all was so aesthetically pleasing.20190526_084235

Bonus: Must See- Hampton Court

While not technically London, if you’re willing to take a trip outside of the city, then the palace you must see is that of King Henry VIII⁠— Hampton Court Palace.

It was the King’s escape from the city, and by far one of the coolest things we did in England (it’s about a 39 min. train ride from the city). To be where so much insane history took place was surreal and the palace itself is so beautiful and extravagant.

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Entry is 21.30£ if you buy tickets in advance (we bought them online on the train ride in), or 23.70£ if you wait and buy them at the door. It’s well worth the price in my opinion, as the entry fee includes a guided listening tour and free roam of the palace and extensive gardens.

DSC03079The building and surrounding gardens are massive so you never feel overcrowded, even with many other people around, and the listening tour was pretty in-depth. It walks you through the history of each room in the building.

If you really spend the time to take it all in, a trip to this palace will take you at least half a day. Great for history buffs or architecture lovers. I highly recommend it.

  1. You already know- Soho

I was really excited to visit Soho, but left a little disappointed. I don’t know why, but I expected it to be more of a bohemian artsy area, but most of it was more of a tourist trap with huge crowds everywhere and every chain American fast food restaurant you could ever think of. Not my scene at all.

Maison Bertaux afternoon tea

Afternoon tea at Maison Bertaux

While I definitely did find a few cool places in this area (Maison Bertaux cafe & bakery and the Photographic Arts museum to name a couple), and I’m sure there are probably a ton more, I’d personally probably skip this neighborhood next time I visit London.

Must See- South Kensington & Hyde Park

I loved this area. It was quiet and low key—just how I like things. I really enjoyed just roaming the little streets and looking at all of the perfectly maintained houses with pretty, colorful doors that I’ll never be able to afford; pretending to live my dream life.

South Kensington

South Kensington

As a music buff, Dan loved seeing Royal Albert Hall, although we couldn’t go inside because Mariah Carey was performing that night.

Royal Albert Hall

My favorite part of this area was Kensington Gardens. Not necessarily an unknown place in London, but one of my favorites so I had to include it.

The gardens are next to Kensington Palace, but it had already closed for the day by the time we got there. Otherwise, it might have ended up on my list of cool palaces. It’s on my list for next time.

Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens

But back to the gardens… they were so perfect! The flowers there are perfectly curated and arranged so beautifully. I loved walking through the ivy-covered arches and literally just smelling the roses. Afterwards, Dan and I found a nice bench on Round Pond in front of the palace and relaxed while watching the ducks and swans. Perfect evening.

Kensington Palace & Gardens

Kensington Palace & Gardens

As I said, there is SO much to do in London that I could never put it all into one post. But, these were some of my favorite things about this amazing city and I hope you make a stop at them next time you adventure across the pond.

 

If you noticed some of the photos in this post look different from usual, that’s because we tried to shoot film most of this trip! I have a great little point and shoot that Dan bought me so I could carry it around everywhere without looking like a crazy tourist. 🙂

lettuce wraps

The Easiest Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Since each Asian country and region within the country has their own unique cooking style and flavors, the options for delicious Asian food are endless, and I would probably be fine eating some kind of Asian food for every meal. Whether it be Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, etc., I’m obsessed with it all. Garlicky, spicy, sweet, tangy, umami⁠—SO. MUCH. FLAVOR.

I like to check what’s on sale each week in the grocery store’s online ads to get some lunch inspiration before we go shopping. I saw ground chicken was on sale and immediately got my heart set on some yummy Asian-inspired lettuce wraps. However, a lot of Asian dishes tend to have some sugar in them *womp womp*. To be fair, the addition of the sugar really does even out the flavors, so it is often a necessity, but I swapped it out for a little bit of honey in this recipe. 

This is a great recipe if you are sick of the boring old sandwiches and salads you’ve been having day in and day out. It’s easy and super quick to make, and forever my favorite part: you don’t have to heat it up at lunch time. The hardest thing about this recipe is browning the meat. It’s seriously that easy!

Meal prep it late Sunday night and you’re set on lunches for the week. As always, my recipe is enough for 2 people for the workweek (so about 10 servings), so if you are meal prepping for one or making this for a group for dinner, just cut everything in half. 

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground chicken or turkey (I like chicken slightly better for this but either will do)
  • Frozen edamame
  • Shredded carrots
  • Plain peanuts (optional)
  • Lettuce- Buy whichever kind you like, but you can’t buy a bag of shredded lettuce for this. You need large enough pieces of lettuce to hold some meat. You can buy a head of lettuce, but I like using Romaine hearts. No matter what kind you buy, be sure to wash it first before consuming!

Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp olive or avocado oil (I used avocado but it truly doesn’t matter)
  • 1.5 tbsp honey
  • 5 cloves of garlic (if you aren’t a huge garlic fan, use only 4 cloves)
  • 3 tbsp. Tamari sauce or coconut aminos – these are similar to soy sauce (soy sauce has sugar)
  • 3 tbsp. hot sauce – I use Crystal brand because I know it has no sugar. You can use whatever kind you like, but read the label because many include sugar as an ingredient.
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp organic rice vinegar (apple cider vinegar will do also)
  • 1.5 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp freshly grated ginger or ginger paste- (1 inch of ginger root=about 1 tbsp). I really recommend fresh for this recipe, but if you can’t get fresh you can use ginger powder (⅛ tsp ground ginger= 1tbsp fresh), it just won’t be quite as tasty

 

Recipe:

  1. Heat a splash of oil (enough to cover the bottom) in a large skillet at medium heat. You can assemble your sauce while the skillet warms up.
  2. Combine all of the sauce ingredients listed above in a bowl and stir. Set aside.
  3. Once the oil has heated, add your ground chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook until brown.
  4. While the chicken is browning, throw a bag of frozen edamame in the microwave and cook it following the instructions on the bag, 
  5. Once the chicken has browned, drain out the grease. We keep a jar for this (you do not want to pour grease down your drain unless you are totally fine with not having a working sink). Then, put the browned meat back on the burner.
  6. Give your sauce mixture from earlier a quick stir and pour it over the meat. Stir until the meat is thoroughly coated. 
  7. Add in about 2.5 cups of raw shredded carrots and about 1.5 cups of cooked edamame and stir. 
  8. Let the meat mixture cool.

 

If you’re eating this meal for dinner, you can serve it warm. If you are meal prepping this for lunch, just keep the meat refrigerated until you eat it. I eat this cold when I bring it for lunch.

To Assemble:

I usually pack about 4-5 lettuce leaves and about 1 cup of the filling for Dan and I each for lunch. When you’re ready to eat, just put some of the filling in each lettuce leaf, wrap it up like a little burrito, and shove it in your mouth. 

For a little extra pizzazz, I also add some crushed peanuts on top of the filling. If you have a food processor, you can chop up the nuts that way, but I usually just put a handful in a plastic baggie and hit them with something. It’s fun. Just make sure you don’t use any flavored nuts with added sugars.

This is one of the easiest lunches to prep and to assemble. The cook time is like 20 mins. total and the assembly time is only a couple of mins. It’s become a go-to lunch because I love the flavors and it’s light enough that it doesn’t drag me down for the rest of the day after I eat it. I usually pair it with some fresh berries on the side for a sweet treat. 

Hope you enjoy it! 

Top Ways to Save on Travel in Norway

When I talk to people about my travels to Norway the typical response is, “I would love to go there, but I could never afford it!”  To which I say, you totally can afford it and you should definitely go!

The “high” price of a trip to Norway really doesn’t have to be that high. Promise.

Dan and I are not rich by any means, so if we can afford it, you probably can too. Yes, we do often stay with family when traveling to Bergen, but we have also traveled around the country and have managed to do it on a reasonable budget each time.

Although it has been historically pricey, the Norwegian krone has hit a bit of a low in recent years, which means our U.S. dollar goes further. Plus, with budget airlines like Norwegian Air (my favorite), you can usually get a pretty great deal on a flight as well. In short, it’s never been a better time to visit Norway!

While there are certain things in Norway that are most definitely more expensive than in the U.S. (clothing, a beer at the bar), most of the necessities really aren’t as bad as you might think.


Here are my top tips for traveling Norway on a budget:

1. Airfare

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The biggest savings tip I can give to you is to fly Norwegian Airlines. They aren’t even paying me to say this, I’m just obsessed with them (and totally open to them paying me).

You can fly to Norway from major cities like New York, L.A., or Orlando for less than it costs to fly a few states over in the U.S. This airline has saved us so much money over the past few years. Prior to its existence it would cost upwards of $1,000 for a round-trip flight from the U.S. to Norway, but with Norwegian Air we can get a round trip ticket from Orlando to Oslo for less than $500. Norwegian Air also regularly has sales and if you’re in New York you can often find one-way international flights for as low as $99.

And once you’re in Norway, it’s pretty inexpensive to fly from city to city on either Norwegian or Wideroe.

2. Accommodations

You can find affordable hotels in most of the major cities in Norway. In both Oslo and Bergen you can find a place with a decent review for under $150 per night.

My favorite hotel in Oslo is the Scandic Vulkan. It’s not in the heart of the downtown area, but it’s in one of the cooler neighborhoods of Oslo called Grünerløkka which has tons of restaurants, cafes, and shops to browse. It’s also right next door to Mathallen (food hall) which is perfect for a quick snack when running around the city. It’s close to the bus line and trolley, so there is no problem getting into the heart of downtown quickly and cheaply if you’d like to do some sightseeing.

There are also inexpensive hostels in most of the bigger cities in Norway if you’re traveling alone or want to save even more money.

Many of the smaller cities and towns won’t have as many hotel accommodations to choose from so you might end up spending more if you wish to stay at a hotel somewhere more remote.

The best bang for your buck anywhere in Norway is to rent an Airbnb. There are a ton of Airbnb options to choose from both in the cities, as well as out in the fjords and mountains for under $100/night. Many families in Norway have summer and winter cabins (called hytte) that they only use seasonally, and a lot of them seem to rent them out when they aren’t in use. Most are very nice and very koselig, as Norwegians would say.

We stayed in a brand-new, really nice apartment right on the bus line in Tromsø for only $80/night. Plus, if you stay in an Airbnb you are typically provided a kitchen you can use to cook some meals at home, which is another way to save money.

If you choose to go the Airbnb route and need to sign up for an account, use this link. Using my link saves you $40 on your first booking, and I’ll get $10 when you book your first stay. Win, win!

3. Food and drinks

If you are staying in one of the more populated areas of Norway, you can easily find food options that won’t cost you that much more than a meal out at a decent place at home. However, if you are staying somewhere off the beaten path, you probably won’t have many options as far as restaurants go.

This is where an Airbnb comes in handy. You will need to stock up at the grocery store. Even if you do have the option of affordable restaurants, cooking at home is a great option to save you some cash while traveling.

The cost of most items at the store will be close to or on par with food prices at home, albeit a tiny more expensive for some things. Although, to be honest, thanks to the higher regulations on food in Norway, the quality of food is much better, so you are getting your money’s worth in my opinion.

You won’t find a dollar menu anywhere, but if you are used to eating real foods at home, you won’t have sticker shock at the prices for most groceries in Norway. However, something to note is that there is a tax on unhealthy foods like sweets to encourage people to eat less of them. Because of that tax, it’s actually cheaper to eat healthy foods like fruits and veggies than it is to eat processed foods. You know I’m all for that!

Pro tip: Most of the stores in Norway, including most grocery stores, are closed on Sundays. Make sure you plan ahead and stock up on food on Saturday if you plan to eat meals at home.

We try to eat at home as much as possible in Norway and go out for a couple of nice meals, but these are my favorite places to pick up a quick, inexpensive meal-on-the-go:

  • Haralds Vaffels – Oslo- Waffles are a tradition in Norway, and at this shop you can grab a traditional waffle with jam or brunost or a not-so-traditional waffle like the blue cheese and bacon option.
  • Søstrene Hagelin – Bergen- This is my favorite place for a quick bite in Bergen. I am obsessed with their fish cakes and their fish soup. The fish cakes are the perfect handheld snack to munch on while walking around the city and I have to have at least one whenever we visit.
fish cakes in Bergen

Two of my fav things about Bergen: fish cakes and Illums Bolighus

All over Norway the most popular quick and cheap snack might surprise you…

It’s a hot dog!

Yes, you read that correctly. Norwegians love hot dogs, or as they are known in Norway—pølse. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Pølse are higher quality than your typical hot dog in the U.S. and can often even be gluten free. You can get this sausage on a traditional white or wheat bun, or try the Norwegian specialty of lompe, which is a tortilla-like wrap made of potato. The Norwegian pølse is your best bet for a quick, cheap snack anywhere in Norway and you can find good ones even at a 7-Eleven.

While you can easily find some cheap eats in Norway, one item in Norway that will give you sticker shock is the price of a drink at the bar. We’re talking almost $10 USD for a “cheap” domestic beer! I

f you just fell off of your bar stool, I don’t blame you. Having a night out on the town in Norway is not cheap. There are tons of fun bars to visit, and if there is a brewery or a spirit you really want to try, go for it, but in my opinion, your time and money can be better spent elsewhere.

Save the drinking for a cheaper country.

Although, if you really can’t go that long without a drink, you can save a lot of money on alcohol by purchasing it at a store instead of at the bar. Some grocery stores sell beer, but to purchase liquor and wine you will need to visit one of the few government-sanctioned liquor stores called Vinmonopolet. Go there and grab a bottle or even a box of wine to enjoy during your trip.

Fun fact: Unlike in the U.S., in Norway, boxed wine is really popular and high quality. They even have organic boxed wine! So, don’t hesitate to buy it by the box.

4. Transportation

If you plan on staying mostly within the city limits, you don’t need to rent a car, but if you plan on renting a cabin further outside of town, or plan to do a road trip, go for a rental.

Shop the different rental companies like Hertz, Avis, and Rent-A-Wreck for the best offer for your travel dates. We’ve managed to find pretty good deals when we’ve needed a car by booking with Hertz and using our AAA discount. If you don’t have AAA, Hertz often has deals on their specials page that you can apply as well.

Public transportation in Norway is great. The major cities have multiple public transportation systems you can use to easily get from point A to point B; the most popular being buses and ferries. In Oslo there are also subway and tram systems that can be used, and if you are traveling between major cities, there are train lines as well. I recommend using the bus when possible in any of the Norwegian cities. It’s pretty easy, goes everywhere, and is pretty inexpensive.

If possible, buy a bus pass ahead of time from a local shop like 7-Eleven or Narvesen. You can buy tickets on the bus, but it will cost more and the driver will probably be annoyed with you for slowing everything down. You can buy single-day passes if you are staying for less time, but buy the 7-day pass if you plan on using it for more than a few days. It will save you money in the long run.

If you will be in Oslo or Bergen and know you would like to do some sightseeing and visit a few museums, you should purchase the Oslo or Bergen Pass. There are 24-, 48-, or 72-hour options for the pass and the cost includes public transport as well as free or discounted access to many museums and attractions. Check out the list of attractions included first to make sure it will be worth your money.

5. Activities

If you love the outdoors you will never be at a loss for inexpensive things to do in Norway. There are so many beautiful mountains and trails to hike that won’t cost you a penny. Norway is a country with insane natural beauty and it is truly its best asset in my opinion.

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No matter your abilities, you must take at least one hike when visiting. We try to take as many as we can. There are very easy, paved hikes as well as more difficult terrain for the experienced hiker, so there is something for everyone to enjoy.

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hiking in Bergen

If you are interested in even more one-of-a-kind outdoor adventures, I highly recommend making the trek out to see a glacier if you’re down for a road trip. Viewing the Nigardsbreen Glacier up close was one of the highlights of my life.

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Nigardsbreen Glacier

The fjords of western Norway are breathtaking and taking a boat ride or ferry through the fjords is a definite must as well. You can catch a ferry or tour boat from Bergen for a great tour of the fjords.

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Fjord cruise

And of course, the pièce de résistance in northern Norway—the northern lights.

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Northern lights in Tromsø

I wasn’t exaggerating when I said the nature here is insane!


Many of the cities and towns also have beautiful flower or sculpture gardens for you to revel in, free of charge. In Bergen check out Byparken and in Oslo check out the Vigeland Sculpture Park.


If museums are more your style, there are plenty of options to check out in Norway.

Oslo:

  • Viking Ship Museum- Hands down the coolest museum I’ve ever visited. It has 3 intact, original Viking ships as well as many Viking artifacts. It’s amazing to see so much Viking culture perfectly preserved. It’s a must-see if you are in the area.
  • Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art- Fabulous contemporary art museum with stunning collections and rotating exhibitions.
  • Akershus Fortress and Museum- A great way for history lovers to spend an afternoon. It’s free to walk the grounds, and cheap to tour the Fortress.

Bergen:

  • Kode Art Museums- A top-notch collection of art museums and beautiful historical homes, including Edvard Grieg’s home which is set on a beautiful waterfront property. For a one-time fee of a little less than $15 USD you can get into all of them over a 4-day span.

viewing art at Kode Museum in Bergen

Tromso:

  • Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum-  Dan and I both really enjoyed this small modern Scandianvian art museum. It also has the added bonus of free entry.
  • Perspektivet Museum- We really wanted to check out this museum on our trip this year, but it was unfortunately closed for construction while we were there. Nevertheless, it has great reviews and it’s free, so I’m adding it to this list.

Viewing modern art at Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum in Tromso, Norway


One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon in Norway is to stroll around and take in the beautiful architecture while sipping a great cup of coffee. Norway is a very safe country, so you could wander for hours and not have to worry about where you end up. The architecture ranges from Viking and medieval to neo-classicism to Scandinavian-mod, so there is plenty to take in in that regard.

Oslo:

  • National Opera House (built to look like an iceberg)
  • Akershus Fortress
  • Stortinget (Parliament building) and the other buildings along Karl Johans Gate
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Stortinget

Bergen:

  • Bryggen
  • Bergenhus Castle and Fortress
  • St. Mary’s Church

Tromsø:

Tromsø has the most stunning contemporary architecture I’ve seen.

  • Tromsø Public Library
  • The Arctic Cathedral
  • Polaria Museum

If you get the chance to see a stave church in Norway, DO IT! We visited the Urnes Stave Church a few years ago and it was unbelievable. There aren’t many places you can find a  perfectly maintained wooden building dating back to the year 1132.

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Urnes Stave Church


When in Norway I love browsing the cool Scandinavian shops we don’t have at home. My favorite is Illums Bolighus (although it’s Danish) and I never make a trip to Norway without stopping in. I usually end up leaving with some kind of souvenir like a cool pair of glasses or an ultra-modern kitchen utensil. I live for the minimalism of Scandinavian style.


In my travels so far, Norway still sits at the top of my list, so I hope you’ll give it a go. While you might spend a little more than you would in other less-affluent countries, you can easily have a fun, adventure-filled trip in Norway without breaking the bank. It’s the perfect adventure on any budget.

margarita ingredients

Sugarless Cinco de Mayo

With Cinco de Mayo coming up, I thought it would be the perfect time to share a couple Mexico-inspired treats made with no refined sugars. Some of my favorite things are exports from Mexico: tequila, avocados, tacos, the Netflix original series Made in Mexico, and last but definitely not least, my best friend Virginia. But really though, does anyone not like Mexican food? The answer is no.

Tacos are probably one of the first things that come to mind when you think Mexican food, and a great taco can easily be made with no refined sugars. Start with corn tortillas over flour, as they usually don’t have added sugar. Plus, I personally think they taste better anyway. Then, add some shredded chicken or pork (our pulled pork recipe without the bbq sauce would work great) and your choice of veggies and a little queso fresco on top. You’ve got an easy, no-refined-sugar taco for a get together with friends, or just an easy weeknight dinner—in no time flat.


If you’re looking for a healthier drink option to enjoy on this holiday, then look no further. I’ve previously told you of my love of tequila, so of course, I am also a fan of a great margarita. However, they often have a ton of added sugar. Here’s a quick, easy recipe for an all natural version of your favorite classic—free of refined sugars. I usually forego the salt, but you can add some to the rim if you wish.

I’m calling this one the Rita Rita’ because my future mother-in-law (named Rita) loves the Skinnygirl margarita mix. No offense to Bethany, it’s good and all, but this tastes even better, and is better for you!

Ingredients:

  • 6 Persian limes
  • 1 orange
  • tequila- dealer’s choice on brand
  • ice
  • splash of club soda (optional)

This is enough for 2 margs.

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Instructions:

Clean your fruit. Then, slice the limes and orange in half width-wise. Squeeze the limes and the orange into a cocktail shaker. Add 4 jiggers of tequila (a jigger is about 1.5 oz) and a handful of ice, and shake. You can just mix it up in a cup of you don’t have a shaker.

Put some ice into a couple of festive cups (or solo cups if you aren’t fancy) and pour the lime/orange/tequila mixture over the ice.

That’s it! It’s seriously so easy to make and tastes just like the mix you buy pre-packaged, except without the added sugar.


A couple of tips:

-If you’re consuming margaritas outside on a sunny day, like at a party or on the beach, make sure you rinse any lime juice off of your skin. Lime juice can actually react to the sunlight and cause pretty severe burns on your skin. Fact.

-Always clean your fruit before consuming, even if it’s a fruit where you don’t eat the skin (like avocados or limes). If you don’t clean it first, you can inadvertently transfer bacteria from the outside to the inside when you cut into it.


Speaking of avocados….that brings me to my last Mexico-inspired Cinco de Mayo healthy swap.

Finding healthy desserts is so difficult when you aren’t eating refined sugar. I’d heard about avocado chocolate mousse and decided to give it a try a few weeks ago. As I started to make it, I decided to add a few random touches and it turned into more of a Mexican hot chocolate version—a little spicy, a little sweet. Just like me.😉

We did our best to make this look appealing in photos, but to be honest, it’s kind of hard to do! All I can tell you is it tastes much better than it looks. haha. Promise!

DSC01985

This dessert is so creamy and chocolaty. It tastes sinful, but has a ton of protein, no processed sugar, and all the deliciousness you could want in a dessert, without the sugar hangover. I know it sounds really weird, but I promise if you give it a try you will be pleasantly surprised.

This should make 2 servings, but if you’re only 1 person you can just put the rest in the fridge for the next night. I’m honestly not sure how long this stays good in the fridge. I haven’t been able to go that long without eating it all, but I assume it’s the same as pitted avocado, which is 3-4 days.

This treat can be enjoyed for Cinco de Mayo celebrations, or just any time you have a sweet tooth. If spicy isn’t your thing, you can just leave out the cayenne.

Ingredients:
2 avocados
About 1/4 cup milk (organic whole, coconut, almond, whatever)
1/4 cup of cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla
1.5-2.5 tbsp honey (start with 1.5 and add more as needed)
1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup frozen blueberries

Recipe:
Cut the avocado and remove the pit and skin. Blend the avocado flesh (side note-I know the term “flesh” is correct but I feel like it sounds weird, no?) in a food processor or blender. Or, get an arm workout by just smashing them really good with a fork until they are completely smooth.

Add the cacao powder, honey, and vanilla, and stir until fully combined.

Add the milk a little at a time, stirring until completely incorporated each time, until all the milk is gone. The milk creates a creamier texture. You can add a little less or a little more depending on your preference, so that’s why I suggest adding a little at a time. You don’t want it to be chocolate soup.

Add the cayenne pepper and cinnamon and stir.

Finish it off with a sprinkle of sea salt. Don’t leave the salt out. It adds a little something extra. You can also add some frozen blueberries on top.

If you have a healthy Mexican food swap to share, drop it in the comments!

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Hope you all enjoy!

DSC02766

margarita

Follow me on instagram where I’ll be serving up some taco and margarita love on 5/5.

Cold Soba Noodle Bowl with Ginger Garlic Chicken

I’ve found that meal prepping lunch for the week is the easiest way for me to stick to avoiding refined sugars. Plus, making your own lunch saves a A TON of money. Seriously. A TON. Yes, a few of these items might cost a little up front if you don’t already have them on hand, like the coconut aminos and fish sauce, but once you buy them, they’ll last a while. The rest of the ingredients for this meal are super simple and inexpensive, and they total out at under $20, so that means about $2.50/meal. Even most fast food meals are more than $5 these days, and this is actually good and won’t make you feel like a pile of hot garbage after eating it.

I recently picked up a pack of organic soba noodles at World Market while browsing their international food section. I highly recommend checking them out if you haven’t already. I always come away with some random ingredients from around the world. This time it was soba noodles and gnocchi. When I saw the soba noodles I immediately started thinking of what kind of noodle bowl I could make for lunch that week. I’ve made cold noodle bowls in the past and they always come out great. They’re the perfect meal prep lunch for people who get sick of the same old thing all the time or have an addiction to Asian takeout. And as always, my main goal: you can eat it cold and avoid the lunchtime rush for the microwave at work.

For this recipe we used chicken thighs as the protein. We pretty much only eat chicken thighs at this point. Once you make the switch from breasts to thighs you’ll never want to go back (That’s what she said). They are so much more flavorful than chicken breast, close to impossible to over cook, which means no dried out chicken, and they are cheaper. A true triple threat.

You can choose whatever veggies you like, but the combo I used turned out pretty great. The sauce uses some typical Asian ingredients with a few random ones peppered in (Sue me! I love peanut butter). Definitely use fresh herbs, though. It really makes the dish.

This makes enough for 2 servings per day for 4 days because I’m prepping for Dan and myself. You could make a little more and make it for 5, but only if you freeze some of the chicken and thaw it out for the fifth day. I personally feel uneasy about eating 5-day-old chicken.

If you are only making lunch for yourself, just cut the recipe in half.

You can cook/chop/prep all of the ingredients on a Sunday night, and they’ll be ready to throw together the night before or in the morning before you rush out the door.


Shopping List:

Coconut aminos, Sriracha garlic paste, ginger powder, 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, Red Boat Fish Sauce (Amazon.com), apple cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar, garlic cloves, lime juice, olive or avocado oil, natural peanut butter, 9.5 oz pkg of Hakubaku organic soba noodles, 1 bag of mini sweet peppers, 1 hot house cucumber, 1 bag matchstick carrots, 1 bag frozen edamame, 4 avocados, fresh mint & basil

Turn this ^ into this ˅

chicken and soba noodle bowl

cold soba noodle bowl with ginger garlic chicken

 

Instructions

 

Ginger Garlic Chicken

+3 tbsp coconut aminos

+1 tbsp sriracha garlic paste

+1 tbsp ginger powder

+2 lbs chicken thighs (8 boneless skinless thighs)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all of the wet and dry ingredients above in an airtight bag and add the chicken. These are just rough estimates, so you can add a little more of the ingredients as needed, just make sure that the chicken is fully coated. Once coated, marinate the chicken in the fridge for about 15 minutes, or longer if you’d like. After you’re done marinating, place the chicken thighs on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Once cooled, chop into bite sized pieces and keep refrigerated until use.

This chicken recipe is great by itself, but perfect for this noodle bowl


Noodle Bowl Sauce

+2 tbsp Red Boat Fish Sauce (most brands have a tiny bit of added sugar—this doesn’t)

+1.5 tbsp coconut aminos

+2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

+2.5 cloves garlic finely minced (I just buy the already minced garlic in a jar)

+1/4 cup honey

+1/3 cup and 1 tbsp lime juice

+1/3 cup olive or avocado oil

+2.5 tbsp natural peanut butter

Whisk all ingredients together until fully combined. You can store this sauce in a resealable container in the fridge and just take out a little at a time each day, as needed.


Noodle bowl

+1 9.5 oz pkg of Hakubaku organic soba noodles (you can find these online if not in stores)

+1 bag of mini sweet peppers or a couple regular bell peppers

+1 cucumber- I like the hot house cucumbers (the really long ones) but a regular will do as well

+1 bag matchstick carrots (or just shred some yourself)

+1 bag frozen edamame

+4 avocados

+fresh mint & basil

Cook the soba noodles and edamame according to their packaging. It only take about 4 minutes for the noodles to cook, so don’t assume that you will do other things in the meantime like you might with regular pasta. The edamame will take about 6 minutes in the microwave, but they will need time to cool before you stick them in the fridge or mix them in with the other ingredients. Make them first so they have time to cool.

Once the noodles are cooked, rinse them well. You can store them in an airtight container for the rest of the week.

Clean and chop all of the sweet peppers and cucumber into bite-sized pieces, and de-shell the edamame. You can store all of these veggies together in an airtight container in the fridge. Saves on dishes!

Don’t prep the avocado or herbs ahead of time.


Assembly

Now you’re time to put it all together! Add about 1 cup of cooked noodles to each meal prep container and a small handful each of the chicken, edamame, carrots, cucumbers, and peppers. Right before you leave for work in the morning peel and cut up your avocado and chop up a handful of mint and basil. Add half of 1 avocado and half of the handful of herbs to each bowl.

*Pro tip* Squeeze a little lime juice on your avocado after you cut it to keep it looking fresh through the work day. I usually add a sprinkle of salt and pepper as well.

Pour about 4 tsp of your sauce into a separate small container, so that you can add it to the bowl when you’re ready to eat. I have some really handy (and adorable) little 1.8 oz containers pictured here that I bought at Marshall’s that are perfect for carrying sauces and dressings to work.

That’s it! Keep your noodle bowl and sauce refrigerated until you’re ready to eat.

Hope you enjoy this easy meal prep lunch. If you try it out, leave me a comment to let me know what you think.

5 Tips for Dining Out Sans Sugar

Hey guys! I’m backkkkk. Sorry for the unexpected hiatus! After traveling for a couple weeks, I came back and was immediately thrown into reality with insanity at work and tons of family and friend obligations. After a few weeks off I found it really hard to get back into the swing of things and started getting super intimidated with where to even start. But I’m just forcing myself to jump back in because I really love writing about this stuff and sharing with everyone.

After eating at restaurants a lot on my trip I thought it might be a good idea to do a post about how I decide what to eat when I’m out. While there is really no way to be sure that you’re fully avoiding added or refined sugars when eating at restaurants, you can certainly limit the amount of sugar.

When I eat at home, even at family members’ homes, they typically take into account my no sugar guidelines because they know how much it’s benefited my health. However, when I eat at restaurants, I have no reliable way of sourcing what’s in my food, and I usually don’t feel like burdening the server with attempting to figure it out. I’ve discovered a few simple tips to help me at least consume less sugar, if not completely avoid it. I love eating at new local restaurants and sharing a meal out with family and friends and I don’t want my dietary restrictions to ruin that joy.

Tip #1: Avoid sauces and dressings. You can pretty much just assume that most delicious sauces probably have some sugar lurking within them. If you feel comfortable, you can ask the server, but I usually don’t. It’s possible they wouldn’t even know. I just avoid the sauce to play it safe. Does it sometimes make my meal a little less exciting, yes. Is it worth it to me? Also, yes. If it’s a good restaurant, the food will still be good without the sauce.

Tip #2: Basics are best. When in doubt, just order a basic protein and/or vegetable. If you go sans sauce, they typically won’t have sugar added to them. However, keep in mind that any special seasoning they use could have sugar in it as well. Blackened seasoning for instance does sometimes contain a little sugar. Choose eggs over waffles, salmon over fried chicken, etc. Sometimes you might not have a ton of healthy options. In that case, choose the lesser of two evils. For example, in a cafe when traveling recently, I had the choice of a muffin or a piece of whole grain bread with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and cucumbers. The muffin would fill me up temporarily, but it’s filled with sugar, and while the bread might have a little sugar, that choice offers proteins and nutrients as well, making it hands down the better option.

You’ll also want to be mindful of the fact that just because something is organic, gluten free, or “healthy” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s low in sugar. You’ll have to use your basic knowledge of what kinds of foods do and don’t usually have added sugar to make your decision, but generally, the more basic, the less likely there are hidden ingredients.

Tip #3: Eat at restaurants that care about ingredients- If a restaurant is going out of their way to advertise that they try to source locally-grown or organic products, they will probably be more apt to paying attention to what they put in their food in general. I feel like it’s probably pretty common for those types of restaurants to get questions about ingredients since ingredients are a focal point of the restaurant. It’s somewhat expected, and I also feel like the servers will be better informed and more willing to talk to me about it if I ask.

Tip #4: Plan ahead- If you like to eat at restaurants for convenience, find a restaurant or a specific meal option that you know is safe to have on standby when you need something easy. I know of a specific restaurant locally that doesn’t use refined sugars in their food. If I eat there, I don’t even need to ask and can order pretty much anything on the menu.

Many chain restaurants, even fast food places, offer their nutrition facts and ingredients online. If you know you sometimes go to Chipotle (great option for low sugar btw) for lunch when you’re busy, research it. Then you’ll know what to order when you go in the future. Figure out a low-sugar option ahead of time so you don’t have to make a split second decision or spend time analyzing the whole menu when you’re there. Planning ahead is key when avoiding sugar at home or in restaurants.

Tip #5: Try one bite- If you’re with a friend or family member who orders something that looks amazing and they offer you a bite, take it! One bite never hurt anybody! I love sharing food with others. Dan actually makes fun of me because I will offer him to try my food before he’s even tried his own meal. Food is an experience for me, and sharing is a great way to get to try something you wouldn’t necessarily order without having to deal with the negative consequences, like a blood sugar crash. You also won’t be tempted to keep eating it because if you’re like Dan and I, the other person won’t let you. hah!

Dan and I like to go out for breakfast. He loves waffles and there is an amazing local farm to table coffee shop near our house that serves waffles on the weekends. They have amazing rotating waffle flavors like orange champagne, black forest cherry, and tiramisu. They’re to die for. So cool and so tasty. We go at least a couple times a month. I know that waffles are of course not going to be sugar free, so he gets a waffle, and I get their equally delicious frittata. But you better believe that on occasion I’m tasting a bite of his waffle. Not every time, but if there’s a flavor I want to try, I go for one bite. I get to experience the waffle without feeling like crap the rest of the day. Best of both worlds.

Eating at a restaurant is a privilege and one that many of us enjoy. If you’re eating at a restaurant, you have choices. You can choose to eat a whole waffle knowing that it will come with a brief feeling of satisfaction and feeling shitty the rest of the day, or you can miss out on the few minutes of pleasure the waffle will bring and feel great the rest of the day. Your choice. Sometimes it’s okay to pick the former, but I generally choose the latter.

What are your favorite places to dine out? I’d love to do future posts about low sugar options at specific restaurants.

What I Eat In A Day – Sunday

Quick post. I’ve had friends ask me to share exactly what I eat in a day, so I’ll probably be doing this periodically.

Today was a rainy Sunday – literally all day (still raining). I would’ve preferred to be chillin on the couch watching Neflix all day because that’s what rainy Sundays are for, but had a few errands to run and things to get done for the week. I go on my trip this Thursday (eek!) so I’m trying to tie up all lose ends and make sure I’ve got everything I need.

Today I ate:

Breakfast
3 slices of no added sugar bacon, scrambled eggs with shredded American cheese and a little Crystal hot sauce, and home fries cooked in butter. Also, a homemade cappuccino made with whole milk and cinnamon AND a fresh squeezed orange mango juice (half juice/half water).

Lunch
Didn’t eat lunch today. I often don’t on weekends since I get up later and therefore eat breakfast later. Sometimes I’ll have a snack like apples and peanut butter if I start to get hangry, but usually I don’t need one.
Dinner
Salmon with a spicy chipotle honey mustard sauce and mashed potatoes.

Sugar Hangover

Now that I’ve been off refined sugar for about 2 years, I’ve had a few people ask me what happens when I do have a little bit. Just to be clear, I totally advocate for avoiding refined and added sugars when possible, but I’m not saying you can never have any again. If you have that mindset, it creates a lack and a want for it even more. I just think it’s best to avoid it most of the time when you have better options. I think it’s perfectly fine to sometimes enjoy a meal that has a little sugar in it if you feel it’s worth it and it makes you happy. However, I will say that when I do have more than just a little now, I typically regret it.

I’ve always been a little hypoglycemic, which is just a fancy way of saying I get low blood sugar. It’s the reason I got weekly migraines starting in childhood and why I am a cranky bitch (aka hangry) when I go too long without eating still to this day.  This is one of the main reasons cutting refined and added sugars out of my diet most of the time has so greatly improved my health. If I avoid the roller coaster of ups and downs and keep my blood sugar balanced,  my mind and body are happier for it.

I avoid refined and added sugars almost all of the time. I probably have it once every few weeks, and usually in a very small amount when I do. This past weekend was a little different. I went to a party celebrating a best friend’s upcoming wedding. It was a daytime affair and there were lots of great drink options; margaritas, sangria, punch, etc. I was caught up in great conversation with some old friends when I was offered a drink. Without thinking, I poured myself a glass and started drinking. It was really good. I was pretty much done with the whole glass when the thought came to mind that it was so good because it was full of sugar. Oops. I finished it off anyway. I was also convinced (very easily) to try a mini cheesecake with guava jam. It was totally worth it to be honest and I could’ve eaten 5 more, but I kept it to one.

Hours later I met up some friends for a couple beers at my favorite bar. It’s a craft beer bar so the options I usually go to for low sugar were not on the menu. I just picked a kolsch and enjoyed it. I’m not one to inconvenience a bartender with a million questions. These are the times when I just give in to the possibility that I might have some sugar. I had another beer a little while later.

Well, after a day like that of way more sugar than usual, I was already feeling it by the time I got home. Mind you, I didn’t even have a buzz, so this was not the cause of alcohol. It was the sugar. I could feel the nausea creeping in and the fires burning in the pit of my stomach and immediately regretted my decisions of the day. I popped a few antacids and hoped for the best.

The best did not come. I spent the next morning with stomach pains and multiple trips to the bathroom; a pretty regular occurrence in my life prior to cutting processed sugar. Not only did I have these physical side effects, but the sugar crash also takes a major toll on my emotions. Whenever I eat too much sugar, I wake up the next day in a panic attack, with my heart racing. I usually spend the rest of the day feeling blah and emo, which is exactly how I felt all day. It was a great way to spend a Sunday. I also notice that my joints hurt more when i eat too much sugar. Sugar breeds inflammation, so when you stop eating it and pick it back up again, you feel it in your entire body. I was lucky enough to avoid a migraine and laying in bed all day this time, which is what usually happens when I eat too much sugar.

The best way to get over a sugar hangover is to eat a high-protein meal and drink lots of water. The protein will get your blood sugar levels balanced again and the water is just a good idea any time. Also, maybe take an antacid and pain reliever if your stomach and head are feeling extra rough. To get over the mental slump it can put me in, the best cure it to just get outside in the fresh air and take in some Vitamin D. Do some yoga or take a walk.

Whatever you do, DON’T EAT MORE SUGAR. The hair of the dog will work briefly, but you’ll eventually end up right in the same place you started-feelin’ like crap.

The sugar hangover is real. Once you detox from it, you will most definitely feel it if you go back. This is what keeps me on my low sugar diet and keeps my cheating to a minimum. Whenever I decide to imbibe, I quickly feel sugar’s wrath and am reminded why I stopped eating it to begin with.

It just never turns out to be worth it for me.

Quinoa Chef’s Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Dan and I both work a lot of hours. By the time I get done with work, unwind, do a little yoga (maybe), and eat dinner, I have just enough time left over to walk the dog and watch a little Netflix before falling into bed. This doesn’t leave me time to do much of anything else after work. Plus, after a busy, stressful day, I frankly don’t feel like it. Mornings are mostly me running around trying to get everything done in an hour, so I don’t have much time to spare there either. Due to this, I’m always looking for an easy lunch that I can throw together quickly.

This quinoa salad is the perfect answer to my problems because I can I prep the ingredients for it on Sunday night, throw it all into a few sealed containers, and just scoop out what I want each morning before work. You could also put the salad together at night if that’s easier. Or, if you have enough meal prep containers, portion out each lunch for the week on Sunday night and pop them all in the fridge.

This salad is also great because I can eat it cold, which allows me to avoid the microwave at work, which as I’ve told you before, I hate using.

All in all, this takes about 45 mins. or less to cook and prep, and then you’re done with lunch for the entire week!

up close 22 salads

The ingredients below are enough for 5 days worth of lunches for one person. Just adjust the recipe depending on how many you need to make. I usually make enough for both Dan and I so I double most ingredients.

Ingredients for Quinoa Chef’s Salad:

  • 12 oz quartered artichoke hearts – I buy the kind in a jar but you can use fresh
  • 7 oz. package of all natural hickory smoked turkey breast (I buy GreenWise brand at Publix because it has no added sugar) or shredded chicken
  • 2 sweet potatoes + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 cup organic quinoa + 2 cups water or no-added-sugar broth
  • 5 oz cheese- I use mozzarella here, but goat cheese or feta would also be great
  • 6 oz pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 ct grape tomatoes + 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 cucumber
  • half dozen hard boiled eggs (I cheat and buy them already cooked)
  • a pinch each of salt, pepper, & cayenne pepper

Ingredients for Honey Dijon Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • a dash of garlic powder, salt, pepper, and onion powder
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Salad Instructions:

For my Sunday lunch prep I start with the quinoa. I use about a cup of dry quinoa and cook it following the instructions on the packaging. The instructions for quinoa are usually as follows:

  1. Pour 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water or broth into a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, cover the pot and lower the temperature to simmer. Simmer for 15 mins.
  3. Remove from the heat and leave it for about 5 mins.
  4. Fluff it up with a fork.

Once cooked, the quinoa expands and you’ll have about 3 cups cooked quinoa.

While the quinoa is cooking, you can work on the rest of the salad.

  1. Clean and chop up the sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces
  2. Toss sweet potato chunks in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and season with some salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne, and spread evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet (easier cleanup).
  3. Roast them at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30-35 mins., flipping them periodically throughout the cook time so they cook evenly.
  4. While the potatoes start to cook, rinse the tomatoes and toss them in a bit of olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper, and spread the tomatoes out evenly on a second foil-lined baking sheet.
  5. Once the sweet potatoes have about 20 mins. left to cook, you can put the tomatoes into the oven as well. That way they both finish cooking about the same time.
  6. Chop up the cucumber, bell peppers, and artichoke hearts into bite-sized pieces. You can use fresh artichokes and cook them yourself, but just a warning that artichokes are kind of a pain to prepare. I’m too lazy for all that. I just buy the kind in a jar. Work smarter not harder.
  7. Cut the mozzarella and deli meat into bite sized pieces as well. I used sliced turkey here because that’s what I had, but you could really use any meat you choose.
  8. Slice the boiled eggs into quarters and the olives into halves.

Once everything is prepped, let the cooked portions cool a bit, then you can put it all into a container until you are ready to portion it out for lunch. I usually put the quinoa, eggs, meat, and cheese into separate containers, and all the veggies in one.
When you are ready to portion it out for lunch, you can put it all into one container.

Assembling the Salad:

I use about a 1/2 cup of quinoa, about 1 oz. of turkey, and a small handful of each other ingredient. You will be tempted to add more than this, because it doesn’t look like much, but I promise this salad is more filling than it looks. You can compare to my photos in this post for an idea of how much of each ingredient I use each day.

Next is the dressing. I love this dressing and I use it on all kinds of salads. It’s so simple, so healthy, and tasty af.

Salad Dressing Instructions:

  1. In a small resealable container combine the Dijon, EVOO, ACV, lemon juice, honey, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  2. Stir until combined.
  3. Add a little water, 1 tbsp at a time, until you get the dressing to the consistency you like, combining completely. I usually do about 1.5-2 tbsp of water.

Depending how much dressing you use per day, you might need to make a little more later in the week. I use about 1.5-2 oz. per day. You’ll also probably need to give the dressing a stir each day, as it tends to separate.

I found some cheap little 2 oz. containers at Marshall’s that are perfectly portioned for salad dressing. I just pour a little into one of those to bring to work so I don’t have to pour it on ahead of time and end up with a soggy salad. I highly recommend finding something like that if you want to start meal prepping.

1 whole salad

You can easily tweak the ingredients in this salad to make it exactly to your liking, but this combo is my favorite. Hope you enjoy!

The Best BBQ Sauce with Pulled Pork & Potatoes

Who doesn’t love a good BBQ sauce? Nobody I know. Dan and I had a hell of a time finding a good barbecue sauce free of refined or fake sugars at the grocery store though. He bought one once that was labeled sugar free and was so excited to try it only to find out it had Splenda in it. Gross. After that, he just decided to make his own.

We generally make our pulled pork in the slow cooker because it’s so freakin easy, but you can make it on the actual BBQ if you’re fancy like that.

This is a great meal to make ahead of time on the weekend and eat for a few days throughout the week. It reheats nicely.

 

+Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Ingredients:
2 lb pork butt
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
splash of natural liquid smoke
salt and pepper
1/2 cup beer
1 tbsp honey

Instructions:

Marinade: Rub the pork with the garlic and onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and honey. Pour the beer into a large airtight bag, place the pork inside, and seal. Make sure the liquid covers the pork. Bonus points if you use a vacuum sealer. It really seals in the flavor. But if you don’t have one it’s totally fine without. Put that in the fridge to marinate overnight for best results. If you can’t do overnight, do at least 30 mins. in the fridge.

When you’re ready to cook:

  1. Pour 3/4 cup water and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar into the slow cooker. Add another splash of apple cider vinegar for good measure.
  2. Place the pork (fat side down) in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours. As much as you want to peek, don’t lift the lid until it’s done. I read somewhere that every time you lift the lid you should add another 30 mins. to your cook time. We don’t want that.
  3. Once 8 hours have passed, remove the lid and admire your prize.
  4. Shred the pork in the crock pot. Remove the shredded pork and place in a bowl.
  5. Serve as you wish.
    You can serve it on a sugar-free hamburger bun (if you can find some) with some BBQ sauce, but if you can’t find any sugar-free buns, this pulled pork is honestly amazing on it’s own with just some BBQ sauce on top. That’s how I prefer it. You could also make pulled pork tacos on corn tortillas for an easy no-refined-sugar meal.

+BBQ Sauce

Ingredients:
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 tbsp natural liquid smoke
2 tbsp organic tamari sauce, coconut aminos, OR low sodium soy sauce with no added sugars
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup organic apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey (sounds like a lot but you aren’t eating it all at once)
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne*
1/2 tsp chipotle sauce*
*You can omit these if you can’t take the heat

Instructions:

  1. Pour diced tomatoes into a pan and let them cook at medium heat for 5-10 minutes to soften them up.
  2. Add all other ingredients and stir.
  3. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and stir once more.
  4. Pour into a blender and blend until smooth, or if you have an emulsion blender, use that instead.

If you’re into making sauces, soups, mashed potatoes, etc. I highly recommend purchasing an emulsion blender. We use ours all the time and you can get one for like $20 at Target or Amazon. Well worth it to not have to clean a blender.

This sauce recipe makes a pretty big batch, but we put whatever leftover sauce we don’t plan on using that week into an airtight bag and put it in the freezer for later use. When you’re ready to use it next, just pop it in the fridge the night before to thaw. It’s great on chicken, too.

This BBQ sauce is seriously so good you will want to put it on everything.

+Potato Wedges

Ingredients:
3 russet potatoes
About 2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and chili powder

Instructions:

  1. Preheat over to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Clean and cut each potato in half long ways then cut into wedges. Don’t remove the skin.
  3. Place potato wedges into a bowl and toss in olive oil. Add a little more oil if needed until all of the potato wedges are lightly coated in oil.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, and toss.
  5. Lay the seasoned wedges on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for about 25 mins.*, flipping the wedges at the halfway point.

*Total cook time will vary depending on thickness of wedges.

Hope you enjoy this easy, healthy dinner idea! If you try the recipe, let me know what you think or any changes you made in the comments below.