Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cooking 101

Goooood mornnning cupcakes!

Today's post is cooking 101 with Tori! First off let me tell you that you don't have to be a chef to make awesome food! You also do not have to have tons and tons of time to cook. Basically, do what fits your lifestyle. I am a graduate student and I do not have a lot of time to cook during the week. I have found meal prepping on the weekends to be a lifesaver. If you do have time to cook during the week it is nice to plan your meals on the weekends so you can buy the right foods to stock your fridge and pantry with. For example, on Saturday you sit down and decide you want to make zoodles, turkey burgers, tacos, chicken breasts, and breakfast for dinner for the five nights during the week. Next you need to decide what you want with those main dishes as well as if you want to use the left overs as lunch during the week. This will help you decide how much food to buy. You also want to consider how many people you will be feeding. For myself, a pound of lean ground turkey will make me 4-5 portions. On the other hand, when I am making food for my boyfriend and I a pound of lean turkey burger may only make 3 portions because Cory can eat a lot of food if he is hungry! So let me show you what I do when making a grocery list (this is only for 2 days... normally I do it for 5 days):

  • Breakfast= 2 eggs, avocado, and a banana
  • Lunch= cilantro lime chicken burger with carrots and homemade guac
  • Dinner= zoodles with spicy chicken sausage
  • coconut water

  • Breakfast= 2 eggs, apple with almond butter
  • Lunch= cilantro lime chicken burger with sautéed vegetables 
  • Dinner= leftover zoodles from Monday
  • coconut water
From the meal plan, I make the grocery list. 

Grocery List:
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 avocado
  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple
  • 1 pkg. of cilantro lime chicken burgers
  • 1 bag of carrots
  • 4-6 zucchinis
  • 1 pkg. spicy chicken sausage
  • 1 jar of almond butter- or homemade if you can't find that doesn't have anything added
  • 1 pkg. of mushrooms
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • coconut water
I like to sort my list by the layout of the grocery store, so for me this list would look more like this:

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple
  • 1 bag of carrots
  • 4-6 zucchinis
  • 1 pkg. of mushrooms
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 pkg. of spicy chicken sausage
  • 1 pkg. cilantro lime chicken burgers
  • almond butter
  • coconut water

Okay... now on to the fun part... COOKING!

If you can notice, I like to make up my own recipes and get creative in the kitchen. That is why I do not always have the recipes for everything I make. I can tell you what all is in some things, but the measurements are a little different!

-When cooking, always make sure you add some type of cooking oil to your pan so that the food does not stick. I like to use coconut oil because it can be used at higher temperatures and also is better for you than some other cooking oils. Also, make sure your pan is hot before adding any food items to it (this also helps prevent food from sticking... make sure you do not put your non-stick skillets and cooking pans in the dishwasher because this will take off the non-stick. Always hand wash those!)
-Get creative! Spice things up! Try new things. I tried prosciutto for the first time last week, and I decided it would pair great with an avocado slice, garlic powder, and a jalapeno. This is how I created a healthier stuffed jalapeno pepper! 
-If you are scared or nervous about making up your own recipes, get on pinterest or google and you can find a million different recipes. 
-Do not say you cannot cook, anyone can cook! Yes, it does take practice to get better, but so does everything else in this world. I didn't start off cooking as well as I do now. It takes time and patience!
-Cook for others. Food brings happiness! It is always nice when someone makes you a delicious dinner or brings you breakfast in bed!
-Re-create a less healthy dinner. For example, last night I wanted to make spaghetti for dinner. To make my dinner healthier, I made zucchini noodles (zoodles). I made my own sauce out of tomato paste, garlic powder, chives, and pink Himalayan salt (on a side note, most pasta sauces have added sugar... why in the world does there need to be sugar in pasta sauce!? This is why I like to make my own.) I topped the zoodles with spicy chicken sausage (I like check the labels of premade meats as well because they often times have added sugar). Here is a picture of the final product:

Here is another example of making food healthier. This morning for breakfast, I made pancakes. These pancakes are made from almond flour, apples, bananas, coconut, and almond butter blended together and cooked on a griddle with coconut oil. 
Here was a creative breakfast I made: 1 stuffed jalapeno that I talked about earlier in the post, leftover vegetables from a dinner, edamame (also leftover), an egg, and homemade guac. This breakfast took seriously about 2 minutes to cook and put together. Eating healthy does not have to be hard or time consuming. 
With that being said, I would like to answer some cooking questions for you all, so comment below and let me know what questions you have!

Later Taters!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Charlotte food: HIS & HER

Hello cupcakes! 

How about another food post!? 

Here was my lunch yesterday. It consisted of leftovers from the night before. It had a cilantro lime chicken burger from trader Joe's, kale cooked in coconut oil, edamame, mushrooms, and onions. Along side was some delicious, refreshing coconut water. Make sure when you buy coconut water that it does not have any added sugars.

HER: So this is a little backwards but this was the dinner that I had the night before the picture above. It was the chicken burger, carrots, edamame, and a jalapeño I stuffed with chives, cilantro, garlic powder, and avocado. I wrapped it with prosciutto. The green tea was also from trader joe's. It was unsweetened blueberry pomegranate green tea. 
HIS: Cory made his chicken burger into a sandwich and put bbq sauce and macaroni and cheese on his sandwich. He had a side of Mac and cheese and a few carrots. 
Tonight's dinner:
I cooked some tuna steaks in coconut oil and seasoned them with pink Himalayan salt and pepper. I have never cooked them before, so I was a little nervous. I thought a nice dippy egg would taste great on top! The side was mixed veggies  I sautéed in coconut oil with garlic powder, pink Himalayan salt, and pepper. They were pre chopped from trader Joe's. Can you guys tell I am obsessed with Trader Joe's!? 

That's a wrap on my food the past couple days! I have been trying to eat as close to Whole30 as possible while on vacation! 

Later Taters! 

Monday, July 27, 2015


Hello my little cupcakes!

I wanted to catch you all up on some food from the past couple days. While on my two week vacation in Charlotte, I have been trying to eat as clean and attempting to eat as close to Whole30 as possible. Cory and I went out to eat in uptown Charlotte Friday night. We went to Rock Bottom Brewery. I ordered a half chicken, fresh fruit, and a side salad without dressing or cheese. The chicken was BOMB! Cory said it tasted like Nelsons chicken from back home (Indiana). It was so much food though and I couldn't finish it all. 
Cory had cajun shrimp and steak with black beans, mashed potatoes, and green beans. 
Sunday afternoon I was hungry and wanted to get a little creative in the kitchen. I have not had pizza in a long time since I cannot have dairy and try to stay away from gluten. I had some almond flour left, so I used that to make a pizza crust. I used two eggs and enough almond flour to get a dough like consistency. I also added garlic powder and pink Himalayan sea salt. I smashed the dough out onto nonstick foil and placed in the oven at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the crust because it cooks pretty fast. I took the crust out of the oven and topped with a vinegar based bbq sauce (no sugar in the ingredients!), prosciutto, chives, and homemade guac. I placed the pizza in the oven for a few minutes to get warm. Let me tell you what...this hit the spot! I made Cory try some of it and he said he approves! He said to put that one in the win category lol. So I have decided I will be making some pizzas for dinner this week!
For dinner Sunday Cory and I grilled some pork chops and mushrooms with red onion. I microwaved the sweet potatoes and put a little coconut oil on top. The seasoning on the pork chops is whole30 approved! 
This morning I made a trip to my all time favorite store... TRADER JOE'S! I am so in love with this grocery store and I cannot wait to move to Charlotte so I can shop there all the time. The food they have their is so unique and they have a lot of healthy foods. The prices are pretty cheap and the staff is so friendly! I absolutely love it. This morning I bought eggs, prosciutto, bananas, chicken burgers, tomato paste, olive tamponade, unsweetened blueberry green tea, chopped veggie mix, a pineapple, spicy chicken sausages, raisins, fruit bars, unsweetened cinnamon applesauce, green beans, mushrooms, avocados, plantain chips, almond meal, unsweetened coconut, maple water, and coconut water. Stay tuned this week for some more posts about the meals I will be making with this stuff! :) 

Peace out! Later Taters!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Waterfall adventures

Hello cupcakes! Today Cory and I went to see some waterfalls about two and a half hours away from Charlotte in a Transylvania County, NC. This was our view on the way to the mountains. 
It was an awesome drive and hardly felt like over two hours! We also had some great singing parties in the car haha!
At Dupont State Forest we visited four waterfalls. We hiked about 6.5 miles all together. The first trail we hiked was called Triple Falls Trail.
Here is the actual Triple Falls Waterfall. 

The next trail we hiked was High Falls Trail and it led us to High Falls Waterfall. This was Cory and I's favorite of the day. You can see a covered bridge at the top of the waterfall that we also hiked up to see.
Here is the covered bridge up close! Its a little dark in the picture. 
This was the view from the covered bridge. 
Here's a panoramic view of the covered bridge and top of High Falls. 
The next trail we took led us to a smaller waterfall called Grassy Creek Falls. 
On the hike back we decided to check out High Falls and get a little up close and personal.
On the right side of the picture you can see a bunch of rocks. We walked over all of those rocks to get to the base of the fall. Some kids were sliding down the waterfall on the left side of the waterfall. 
This panoramic picture is a little messed up due to the movement of people, but you can still see how amazing the waterfall looks! 
This was the last stop of the day. This waterfall was called Hooker Falls. People were jumping off the top of the waterfall and into the water at the base. It was kind of like a little lake at the bottom. People were swimming and floating around. 
After a long day of hiking, both of us were pretty hungry. We drove to a little town called Brevard. The street through town was lined with all kinds of little shops, cafes, and restaurants. We chose a little soup and sandwich shop called Mayberry's. 

A little fun fact about the waterfalls we visited today... parts of the first Hunger Games movie was shot there. Triple Falls provided some of the most iconic shots of the Games, such as when Katniss finds a wounded Peeta camouflaged among the rocks. There is a lot of stuff about where the producers filmed if you search on google. Pretty awesome!

Later Taters!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Crowder's Mountain

Hello!!! Today was probably one of my favorite days in Charlotte so far. Cory had today off work, so I woke up and made us some breakfast. I used some of the leftover potatoes from dinner last night. It turned out pretty bomb if I do say so myself.
This afternoon we drove to Crowder's Mountain. This is the skyline view of Charlotte on the way there.
As we were driving I told Cory that I thought this was the mountain we were about to climb.
This was the beginning of the path up the mountain. 
The hike up the mountain was about .8 miles and pretty steep. Towards the top of the trail there were a bunch of stairs to the top. As you can see we were well prepared. Cory had his camelback and hammock and I had a bag with snacks and water. 
Here is the first picture from the top of Crowder's Mountain. 
I am becoming obsessed with panoramic pictures. The view at the top was breathtaking. 
The big rock in the picture above is the same rock that Cory is sitting on in the picture below. I climbed up to join him after taking this picture. It was a good thing neither of us are scared of heights. 
We got a little adventurous and climbed over a bunch of rocks to get some cool views.
We climbed some rocks to get to a good place for Cory to set the hammock up. 
Sorry about this picture... it is a little sideways. 
This is one of the easier parts of the rock climbing. 
After our little adventure at the top of the mountain we hiked a different trail down the mountain. It was a little further about 1.8 miles. 
I packed these little bars for our hike. They are from Trader Joe's and I ate the apple coconut one. The only two ingredients are apples and coconuts. It was pretty tasty. I'm going to have to go back and get more!
I hope you enjoy the pictures! They don't do the view justice though!

Later Taters!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Charlotte visit post #2

Good evening cupcakes!

Yesterday my boyfriend and I made another trip to Trader Joe's! Some of my favorite things I have gotten there so far are plantain chips, mini avocados, and spicy chicken sausage (all whole30 approved). After our grocery shopping we went to visit a very good friend of ours! This is in uptown Charlotte. I have to get used to calling it uptown because back home we call the city area downtown. I cannot believe how many trees are uptown. It's a beautiful and clean city. 

Today I laid by the pool again. Thank goodness for the pool because when the sun is shining it gets hot and I like to take a little dip in the pool.
Tonight I am making another dinner for Cory and his roommate. I decided to make it a more manly meal by adding some bacon (this brand was not whole30 approved, so I recommend finding one without any added sugar... I know it is hard to find, so you could substitute prosciutto! Here are some mini potatoes I picked up at Trader Joe's. After washing them I sprinkled them with pink Himalayan salt and pepper. I roasted them in the oven at 350 for about 50 minutes. 
I wanted to try to make some almond crusted chicken breasts. I bought some almond meal (flour) at Trader Joe's and it was only $5.99 which is pretty cheap compared to most stores. I added some almond meal to a bowl with garlic powder, Himalayan salt, and pepper. I cracked to eggs in a bowl and whisked them up. I used chicken breast tenders. 
I took a tenderloin and dipped it in the egg and then dipped and sprinkled it with almond meal. Here are all the tenderloins after I breaded them all. 
I cooked up some bacon in a pan with chopped red onion which I will add fresh green beans. 
In a skillet, I fried up some more bacon and red onion (not pictured). I will add the potatoes to the skillet. 
Here's a picture of the green beans while they were cooking with the bacon and red onion. I also added some pepper and pink Himalayan salt. 
I put the breaded chicken onto a skillet with coconut oil to get the tenders brown. After browning them all I put them in the oven at 400 degrees until they were cooked all the way through. 
Here is a picture of the finished potatoes! I think the boys are really going to enjoy this dinner :) 

Later Taters! Stay happy and healthy!
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