A Weekend in Mystic, Connecticut

I hope you followed along this weekend as my husband and I took a little adventure to Mystic, Connecticut.

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This town is known by far more than Mystic Pizza. From the culinary scene to the nightlife, this old, sleepy, fishing village is booming.

Below are the highlights on where we stayed, what we did, and (most importantly) what we ate:

Where We Stayed:

The Whaler’s Inn – Anytime we are in Mystic, we stay at the Whaler’s Inn. It’s conveniently located steps from the Mystic Drawbridge and has gotten quite the facelift in the past couple of years. We love the Nautical decor, the free *fresh* baked chocolate chip cookies at reception, and the fact that we can walk anywhere in town from it! They have 4 different buildings for rooms: The Main House, The Noank House, The Stonington House, and The 1865 House. We’ve stayed in both the Main House and The Stonington House and have enjoyed both.

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What We Did:

We normally only go to Mystic for a weekend since it is such a close drive from our home (about an hour and a half without traffic). Saturday is typically our only full day to explore. On previous trips we have visited the Mystic Seaport Museum, the Mystic Aquarium, and the Olde Mystic Village. This time around we headed out to Watch Hill, RI to have lunch at Ocean House (more on that below). Watch Hill is conveniently located only 20 minutes from Mystic and offers beaches and a quaint village filled with shops and bakeries. If you want to go to the beach (called East Beach), there is parking for $25 just a short walk from the beach entrance. We arrived around 11am and there was plenty of parking still available. What I loved the most about Watch Hill was admiring the homes and the stunning views of the ocean.

After our day in Watch Hill we headed back to Mystic for an afternoon sail on the Schooner Argia. The schooner took us out to Fishers Island Sound as the crew shared history and stories about the coastline and the lighthouses in the area. The waters are very calm in Fishers Island Sound so it’s suitable for all ages. They offer snacks and refreshments on board and you are welcome to bring beer or wine.

What We Ate:

Ford’s Lobster in Noank – This is ALWAYS our first stop off the highway. Unfortunately dock seating wasn’t available yet but it was still delicious. I always get the lobster bomb with lobster bisque. Andrew got the crab cake melt which was also delicious!

The Treehouse at Oyster Club – We love Oyster Club traditionally for their creative farm to table dishes and the freshest oysters in the area. Then we discovered The Treehouse and fell even more in love! Situated in the trees, The Treehouse is the perfect place for a cocktail and some farm fresh small bites (they do also serve main dishes but we like to pick and linger). The Treehouse is first come first serve, but tables do turnover quickly.

Sift – Skip the sit down breakfast and head to Sift for their famous pastries. I love their chocolate croissants and lemon scones. Their iced coffee is really good too! Psst…they recently opened a location in Watch Hill!

Ocean House in Watch Hill, RI – Even if you aren’t a guest at this gorgeous Relais & Chateaux hotel you can still enjoy the grounds by eating at one of their many restaurants. Such as the Verandah, which is where we had lunch. Get there early and you can have lunch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is at the Verandah that we enjoyed French Onion Crab Dip, a Kale Chopped Salad, and a Hot Lobster Roll. All delicious! Following lunch, we asked our server for directions to the Veuve Cliquot Secret Garden which is located on the property. The prices for a cocktail are little steep but the experience was worth it!

Grass & Bone – this Butcher Shop/Eat-In/Take-Out spot opened late last year and we were so excited to try it out. It’s definitely more casual. We were looking for something low key, so it was perfect for what we wanted that night. But if you are looking to go “out” to dinner, this would be more appropriate as a lunch spot for you. Since I am Vegetarian at the moment, I got the oyster mushroom sandwich. And it was really good! Andrew got the Thai Soup and Kielbasa platter which he enjoyed as well.

Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream – Obviously no wrong choices here.

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I&S Bakes: Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love to bake. There is something so therapeutic about it. Plus, you get to enjoy something delicious at the end!

Recently, I wanted to make some vegan chocolate chip cookies. I’m not 100% Vegan, but I like to try to eat Vegan majority of the time.

I found this simple recipe from Buzzfeed Tasty. It was fairly simple, however I did make some substitutions.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup organic raw sugar
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (you can eye this, doesn’t need to be exact)
  • ½ cup (105 g) refined coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 Cup walnuts

What To Do:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the organic raw sugar, coconut sugar, salt, and coconut oil until well combined.
  2. Whisk in non-dairy milk and vanilla, until all sugar has dissolved and the batter is smooth.
  3. Ass the whole wheat flour and baking soda, then fold the mixture with a spatula, being careful not to over mix.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chunks and walnuts evenly.
  5. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F
  7. Scoop the dough with an ice cream scoop onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Be sure to leave at least 2 inches of space between cookies and the edges of the pan so cookies can spread evenly.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cookies just begin to brown.
  9. Remove from oven, allow to cool, and enjoy!

Note: do NOT attempt to speed up the cooling process of the raw dough by placing it in the freezer, it will make the dough too hard to work with. Trust me, I made this mistake.

Would you be interested in me writing about my diet views? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

Pizza With Purpose

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Pizza is a staple of the SAD (Standard American Diet).

Ask a kid what their favorite food is and most likely you will hear them tell you pizza.

In a place like New York, ask a person on their street their favorite kind and you will hear answers like Sicilian, White, Pepperoni, Hawaiian, Buffalo Chicken or good ol’ Margarita.

If only pizza loved us as much as we do in return….

Most pizza that we consume is made of processed, inflammation inducing flour and mucus building cheese.

Gluten and dairy are two highly inflammatory foods that take a toll on our blood sugar and immune system. As you may know, majority of people are allergic or have sensitivities to one or both of these items!

To me, that is a big red flag signaling us to not consume it.

But I want you to know that there are still fun ways to enjoy pizza (and a little bit of gluten if you have no sensitivities or allergies) It is also so much more fun to make it on your own!

What you need:

  • Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (can be found in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores or in the frozen aisle in Whole Foods)
  • Sauce of choice–this can be traditional tomato or you could use olive oil and garlic (my favorite)
  • Toppings of choice–Endless opportunities: Spinach, Mushrooms, Kale, Broccolini, more Garlic, Veggie Sausage, Organic Cage Free Turkey Sausage, Peppers or Onions.
  • Optional: Cheese (choose from Organic Goat or Mozzarella. Vegetarian/Non-Dairy Options: Daiya, Nutritional Yeast or Cashew Cheese)
  • Gluten Free Dough Option: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Dough (super easy to make)

What to do:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees
  • Let your dough sit out until room temperature (If making Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free, follow directions on package). If it is not room temperature it will not stretch out the way you would like it too. 
  • Shape the dough onto a baking pan or pizza sheet. This can either be traditional round, oblong, rectangle…go crazy.
  • Next prep your toppings: If you’re using veggies saute them lightly in a pan with coconut oil, season as you prefer. Do the same with the veggie sausage or turkey sausage. Tip: If using olive oil and garlic as your “sauce” roast about 8 garlic cloves in the oven on a baking sheet while it is preheating. Once golden brown place the garlic on your uncooked dough then drizzle with more olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Now the fun part…add your toppings! There are no rules with pizza so add them in any order you would like. Get the kids involved and let them take the wheel. If you want to keep it traditional it usually it goes (as we know 😉 ): Sauce, veggies, cheese (optional).
  • Place your pizza pie in the oven and let cook until the edges are golden brown (about 15 minutes)

Serve with a side of greens and you have a wholesome and delicious meal that everyone will enjoy.

With Love and Pizza Pie,

Your Maven

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A Wellness Maven Thanksgiving

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{Photo: Pinterest}

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.

It’s a great moment to reflect on how fortunate we are and to spend much needed quality time with family or friends.

For some, this holiday (and the ones that quickly follow) can be a pretty stressful time. Days seems to be moving faster than we can keep up with and we are often confronted with the people and situations that challenge us the most.

Thanksgiving specifically includes those “old time favorite” foods that make you feel all warm and cozy, but when they aren’t consumed moderately can have negative affects on our bodies and our minds.

This holiday seems to encourage the act of over-indulging to the point of discomfort—when originally it was made for us to gather, savor what we have and speak what we are most grateful for in our lives.

It is a day to say thank you and give to others.

For the past couple of years I have been bringing my own “Wellness Maven friendly” dishes to offer my friends and family.

This year will be no different and I wanted to share them with you!

This years Wellness Maven offering:

  1. Butternut Squash Pasta– This dish was created by my dear friend at My Edible Sunshine. The butternut squash will make it the perfect dish to compliment the season and holiday. Plus, its vegan and can be made gluten free with brown rice pasta! You can find the recipe here.
  2. Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Cranberry Stuffing with Veggie Sausage– Who doesn’t love stuffing? My boyfriend even buys the Stovetop boxes just to whip up a batch when he feels like it (Not Wellness Maven Approved ;-)). The problem is it is usually made with white bread (fully processed, lacking nutrients, and loaded with preservatives) and not veg-friendly. That’s where this stuffing comes in. I found this recipe from Style and Grace on Pinterest and I plan on added some high quality vegetarian sausage to the mix to hopefully entice the meat eaters at my table to try it.
  3. Vegan Banana Bread Pudding- As a lover of all things dessert and chocolate, I have to make sure that I have something to satisfy that sweet tooth without being full of harmful ingredients that set off imbalance in my body. This cold weather has me craving warm and toasty desserts, so why not banana bread pudding? Again, I found this on Pinterest (a girls best friend) It’s by West Philly Vegan and will work as my foundation, but I will probably replace the bread with Ezekiel, the brown sugar for coconut sugar and will make sure the chocolate chips are extra dark.

In case you want to try something different I also played with the idea of a lentil loaf, pumpkin muffins and raw stuffing.

Another way to fully enjoy Thanksgiving will be to create an intention. 

The night before or the morning of create an intention for how you want the holiday to go.

This could be as simple as:

  • Reminding yourself to breathe and stay calm when you feel the natural pressures of cooking for the entire family.
  • To practice the philosophy of “act to not react” when that certain family member pushes your buttons.
  • Or  to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal consciously and mindfully, savoring every bite in the attempt to eliminate that uncomfortable feeling of over indulgence.

Creating an intention can be a powerful practice for your everyday life. When you create and write down an intention you will be brought back to it several times throughout the day, especially during those times when you most need it.

Lastly, take a moment or two to write a gratitude list the morning of Thanksgiving.

Nothing embodies this holiday more than a gratitude list and it couldn’t be easier to do.

The morning of, write down the things you are grateful for in your life. It doesn’t have to be anything astronomical.

Your list can look something like this:

  • ‘I am grateful for this beautiful holiday’
  • ‘I am grateful for my family.’
  • ‘I am grateful for my morning cup of tea that helps me start my day with a warm and cozy feeling.’

Write down what makes you happy, even the little things. If you happen to write down something that challenges you or you don’t 100% believe, that’s okay.

Acknowledging it is the first step to seeing the positive side of it.

And everything in your life has one.

With Intentions and Love,

Your Maven

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Cinnamon Coconut Oatmeal

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Do you eat breakfast?

Please tell me yes.

Breakfast is not only important but usually sets the tone for your entire day. Going to just have coffee, bagel or pastry? By doing this you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. Not only do those breakfast choices lack in the nutrients but will also spike your blood sugar. When your blood sugar spikes it eventually crashes leading to that 3 pm sugar craving that’s hard to resist.

By eating balanced meals full of the nutrients our body yearns for we keep our blood sugar in check and avoid those not so stellar moments of weakness.

Personally, I love a hearty breakfast. Whether it be chia pudding, a nice big green smoothie or vegan french toast, I’m usually game.

Although I love to have a something green in the morning, as the weather turns colder I usually need something with a bit more substance and warmth. That’s when I start to add oatmeal to my usual green drink routine.

This oatmeal has been getting me through these chilly mornings. Depending on what I have on hand I either make it with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats or cooked quinoa.

To cook the quinoa:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)

Put all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and let simmer with a top on until all liquid has been absorbed.

Now for the fixins’:

  • 1 Tbsp coconut butter (not oil)
  • 1 Tbsp shredded coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp flaxmeal (optional)

While the quinoa is still hot mix in all the fixins’ until thick. Put in a bowl, mason jar or other travel container and top with more coconut flakes and cinnamon. You can also add any fruit you like. I usually top it off with some banana to stay with the tropical feel.

Don’t want to use quinoa? Just whip yourself up some plain oatmeal and add the same fixins’.

This is the perfect breakfast for this time of year. It’s warming not only in temperature but also because of the cinnamon. The cinnamon will also keep your blood sugar levels stable until lunch.

With Coconutty Love,

Your Maven

Recipe of the Week: Banana Peanut Butter Cacao Smoothie

Cacao Smoothie

 

This smoothie is the perfect snack in the afternoon. You know that time when it’s around 3:00 and you start to feel a little tired, you start to experience a craving for something sweet or a second cup of coffee, and you may be feeling a little down about being stuck indoors at work. Especially as spring and summer are coming into bloom.

If this is the case, this smoothie is for you. 

The best part is that it is very simple to make.

All you will need is:

-1 medium ripe banana

-1 cup almond milk

-2 tablespoons all natural creamy peanut butter

-1 tablespoon cacao powder

-3 ice cubes

Now what?

-Place everything into a blender and blend until smooth!

I know what you’re thinking, how am I supposed to make this at work when I need it most?

Of course this is probably not possible. So make it that morning, or the night before. If you choose to make it the night before simply put it in a trusted, air tight mason jar and store it in the freezer overnight. Take it out in the morning and allow it to defrost throughout the day to be ready for you to enjoy by 3.

If you make it in the morning just make sure that you keep it refrigerated.

Cacao is the superhero of this smoothie. It will give you that lift that you need. Not only is cacao full of antioxidants and promote cardiovascular health but it also has been proven to raise the level of serotonin in the brain, which acts as an anti-depressant. It also releases endorphins which helps create a sort of “runner’s high” and also releases Anandamide which is our brains “bliss chemical”. Bottom line is cacao makes you feel pretty damn good about yourself! Which is crucial during that afternoon lull.

Cacao is also full of essential minerals such as magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium.

Ditch the guilt laden afternoon snacks and cups of coffee and switch to this smoothie instead. It takes 2 minutes to make and will make you feel better than any last minute pick me up can.

Health.Happiness.Love.

Daily Inspiration

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“If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?” 
― Rumi

I really liked this quote today.

As a sensitive person I often fall victim to criticism or comparing myself to others. These past couple of months I have been able to get in touch with that on a deeper level and instead of being wounded or hurt by it, I learn from it and rise above it.

In every situation, especially the difficult ones, there is a lesson to be learned. Sometimes it can be really hard to see that lesson. That’s why I usually just straight up ask. I say “God, Universe, Spirit, What are you trying to tell me?” And usually the message comes out clearer. I know this sounds crazy, but I swear it really works.

This week those lessons have been coming out through my lectures at school. Tuesday I was feeling frazzled and stressed, while considering my mental health day Wednesday we discussed Existential Psychology in class and how important it is to have a balance between structure and freedom. My life with school and work revolves around structure, what my mind and soul needed was a little bit of freedom, so I took it.

Yesterday I was in an interesting mood AGAIN. And in my lecture, ran by the same amazing teacher, we discussed how neuroticism is manifested in our early developmental period. Usually I think to myself “Great, I am crazy” but he began to talk about the resilient people who come out of not so stellar situations. From just a few examples that he gave, I put myself in that category. It was a great reminder to appreciate myself, where I have come from, and to give myself some credit for all that I am doing. 

So although criticism and comparisons will come and go it’s important to remember that once they do come to look inside yourself and think about how you can grow from the experience. How can you handle this criticism better? But also better yet, how are you already great?