Wednesday, August 29, 2012

See ya, Sodium. Hello, Jell-o

--> The biggest take-away from the Cleanse was that we should be more aware of what we put into our bodies. We’re generally healthy eaters, but everyone’s eating habits have room for improvement. After the cleanse, we really wanted to focus on sodium intake, portion control, and overall freshness of the food we're buying.

Our initial reason for wanting to cut down on sodium was for the bloating aspect. Too much salt causes the body to retain water, which causes thirst, which causes bloating. No girl wants to be or feel bloated. Chris also heard on the Today Show that grabbing for a salty snack will leave you craving more, even when you're not hungry anymore, whereas a sweet snack will satisfy that hunger. 

Upon further research, I learned that a diet high in sodium packs a heavier punch than I realized. Too much salt in your diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke…way more serious than being bloated!

On our next few grocery store trips, we really started looking at labels and taking notice of how much sodium our regular purchases contain. For example, as you know, we buy a lot of beans, especially black beans and red beans. For a few extra cents, we can save hundreds of milligrams of sodium. Then, we can just add salt to taste. Check out these labels!

With all of our new healthy perspectives in mind, we decided to make a little gf pasta salad. It’s sort of our own recipe, adapted from the Avocado Chicken Salad we all know and love. It’s chock full of fresh deliciousness with a tangy bite.

Avocado + Lime Pasta
4 tbsps. olive oil
4 tbsps. Fresh lime juice
A dash kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
11/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 large can reduced sodium whole kernel corn
2 ripe avocados, peeled and chopped

  1. Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Drain well, set aside to cool.
  2. Combine olive oil and lime juice.

  1. Peel and chop the avocado and remove the pit. Chop the cilantro. 
  1. Transfer the mixture to a medium sized bowl. Add corn. Lastly, add cooked pasta and toss well. 

The meal was light and tasty, and made for awesome leftovers. That dash of salt was all it needed! We really want to be more aware of the nutrition facts and serving sizes before we start eating, and this recipe was a good start.

In other news, my brother celebrated his 21st Birthday a few weeks ago! It’s hard to believe he’s a bar-going adult. We had an awesome party for him complete with capes and Jell-O shots. I’d never made Jell-O shots before (weird, I know), and I was surprised at how easy they were to make.

Whitney made some great ones at their 4th of July party, so I got her advice. Ours were a big hit, so here’s what we did:

Mi favorita Margarita
1 box Lime flavored Jell-O
1-cup water
1-cup tequila

Berry Girly:
1 box Berry flavored Jell-O
1-cup water
1 cup white rum

Tequila Sunrise:
1 box orange Jell-O
1-cup water
1-cup tequila

Strawb Daq:
1 box Strawberry flavored Jell-O
1-cup water
1 cup white rum

So obviously, we did each flavor one at a time. Start by boiling the water. 

Once the water is boiling, slowly pour in the Jell-O powder and remove from heat. 

Stir the Jell-O until it’s totally dissolved. Pour the respective liquor and stir. Then, we poured it all into a glass measuring cup. Fill mini paper (or plastic) cups up about half way. Refrigerate about 6 hours.

We served them on platters throughout the evening, and everyone seemed to enjoy all of the flavors. I know I did! We’ll definitely be making them again. Happy Birthday, Brother!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Don't feed the animals. They're on a cleanse.

After our whirlwind romance with New Orleans, we decided to do a little less talking about doing a cleanse, and actually DO said cleanse.
Ladies in need of a cleanse.
We’ve wanted to do one for a while this summer. As much as I love summer for its parties, cookouts, camp food, and general fun times, it packs a heavy punch to the ol’ body. But after the shear volume of booze and food consumed in NOLA, we decided it was more than time.

I think people go on cleanses to rid themselves of the toxins acquired through daily life by eating and drinking less than natural, more than unhealthy things. At least that’s the impression I get, and the reasons I had. We did a little research on cleanses before picking one.

The most common one we found was the Master Cleanse, or the Lemonade diet as we’d heard it called. It’s an intense, 10-day, all liquid diet. It’s supposed to have some major health benefits, but it seemed a little too advanced for first time cleansers and food blog havers.

We also heard about different herbal cleanses and whole-body wraps that sounded interesting too. Suddenly Slimmer body wraps are definitely something I want to look into when I have the extra money. From what I gather, it’s a mineral wrap, and you’re basically wrapped from head to toe like a mummy for 60 minutes. Supposedly, you lose inches off of every part of your body that’s wrapped up, and the inches lost are toxins, not water. Some people at work have done it, and swear by it!

Anyway, we decided that a baby-step cleanse was probably our best bet for our first time. Our friend Anna told us about the cleanse she’s done in the past, and it actually involved some eating, so we went with that one.

So we started on a Tuesday morning. We would have started Monday like normal people, but my Dad treated us to La Tavola on Monday night. We’ll never say no to free La Tavola!

We kept a little Detox Diary of sorts. Beware of TMI. To quote Anna herself: “it's ok to be pathetic and gross while detoxing”.

July 16, 2012: 10:33 pm:


I’m a little nervous and excited. We’ve bought the goods & prepared some quinoa. I’m mostly worried that all day my mind will be distracted by images of my favorite foods that are not apart of the detox. Let’s be honest.... I’m excited to talk about it every chance that I get. So let’s hope I can be faithful to just drinking water and abstaining from Gatorade. (I’ve been known to throw back some yellow Gatorade.) As one last parting gift, I’m having two Reese’s peanut butter cups tonight! Let’s go!!!!!


Well, I’m feeling tired, greasy, and a little bit crusty. I’m excited to start this cleanse so that I feel like a (as Chris would say) new person. We had such an amazing time in NOLA, but this detox is exactly what we need to get our minds, bodies, and souls back in tiptop hot-to-trot shape. I’m definitely a little nervous about being hungry, tempted, and pissy, but let’s be real, this is for my own good. I’m going to go chow down on my last pre-cleanse treat...DARK CHOC Reese’s.

For 5 days, we ate:
Our cart at Trader Joe's

-       1 cup cooked quinoa (Make a lot at once so you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the week)
-       1 cup fresh fruit
-       2 cups steamed or raw veggies
-       A handful of almonds
-       1 cup steamed or raw veggies
-       1 cup fresh fruit
All day:
-       LOTS and LOTS of water with lemon

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well. It was harder than it seemed.


July 17, 2012 at 10:41 AM:


If it were not for this lemony water, I would be gorging on some inappropriate snack! I feel good about myself for making healthy choices and not succumbing to the flashy packaging of snacks that I know aren’t good for me. Let’s just hope that nannying doesn’t prove to be too difficult around all of Jackson’s snacks.

July 17, 2012 at 02:47 PM:


Well, I’m hungry. I don’t feel that great. I’m super gassy and tired. Is this what pregnancy feels like?! Luckily there’s nothing to tempt me at work today. Jeff hasn’t brought candy in a while. I will say that I’m actually enjoying lemon water, and I might make that a staple in my life post-cleanse. I really really wish I could have some coffee. I’m going to do my blog post to keep my mind off of it. And we have to get more sleep tonight!


July 18, 2012 at 11:13 AM:


I feel awesome! Other than super hungry, but that’s ok because it’s almost lunchtime. I really think we’re going to feel a lot better after this is all said and done. Hot mint tea seemed to be a great substitute for coffee...for a few minutes. I still feel really tired, but it was good for the moment.


July 19, 2012 at 04:03 PM:


So I feel way better today. By last night, I was absolutely exhausted. I wasn’t so much hungry was I was tired. I still really want a burger. That’s what I want as soon as the cleanse is over. Except that I’ll be at camp. Camp food may be a good way to ease back in to real food though, because I don’t eat that much at camp anyway.


If I don’t get Mexican food soon I’m going to go crazy. If I have learned anything it is all about portion control. Portion control is a mental game I have been losing. I always pile food on but then over feed myself and will walk away feeling sick from even snacks. I’m learning to listen to my body so much more!



I was hungry. And felt weak. Day 2 was the worst I felt, day 3 was probably the best I felt. By day 5, I felt like a zombie. I also really missed coffee. I usually have a cup every morning when I get to work. It helps me get my day in motion. Anna told me I could drink mint tea. I was skeptical, but I think it really helped. It was probably all in my head, but hey!

I’m still undecided as to whether or not the cleanse was worth it for me. I hated feeling weak and tired all day. If I were to do it again, I’d do it when I didn’t have to work everyday. I will say that I think my stomach shrank, and I think my skin looked better post-cleanse. The experience definitely made me think more about what I put into my body. We eat pretty healthy on a normal basis, but I really want to be more aware of the amount of sodium and processed things I consume.


For those of you that don't know, I spend most of my days nannying. Four-year-old little boys love to snack. Love to snack. Usually their first, second, or third choice of snacking is not a super healthy option. For me this cleanse reminded me of healthy snack options and listening to my body. I feel that I sometime mindlessly snack on the four year old junk and stuff myself when I'm not even hungry. Now I feel much more in tune with my body. I have relearned to recognize when I'm hungry versus snacking to snack. Now I crave to snack on healthy options because of how reenergized I felt after eating such clean, pure foods. I hope I can carry these lessons with me for a long, long time!!!

Our original plan was to cleanse until Sunday morning, but by Friday night, we’d both had enough. Whitney and Roxann came over; we made our yummy Avocado Chicken Salad, and drank wine. We both felt like we came back to life almost instantly. It took probably another day to feel totally back to normal.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

N.O. Part 2: Makin' it right.

...later that night, Mary took us to her favorite restaurant in New Orleans called Dante’s Kitchen. It was uptown right by the river, tucked away in a sweet little corner. The inside was just as sweet and comfortable. I got the Shrimp & Grits per Mary’s recommendation, with a side of snap peas. Chris and Mary got Duck Fat Roasted Smashed New Potatoes, which were absolutely delicious. My food was great too, but I was jealous. Our waitress was super cool, and made superb recommendations. It was at Dante's where Chris proclaimed herself a "foodie" because the waitress agreed with her food pairing suggestion. Thanks for that, waitress. I totally get why Dante’s is Mary’s favorite. I think my Dad would love that place!

After dinner, it was time to hit the town. We took the infamous streetcar (surely named Desire) to the French Quarter, and dove right in to Bourbon St. 

I don’t think I have words to describe that ridiculous place. It reminded me of Times Square in a way, but with debauchery everywhere. I assumed the beads thing was just for Mardi Gras…nope, not true. Beads were everywhere, and so where the pretty much naked “ladies”, endless amounts of neon (both lights and clothing), and drunk folks galore. It was awesome.

 We stopped at a random spot on Bourbon and got these amazing giant syringe Jell-O shots. 2 for $5!! And they were REALLY good! We felt super scandalous, and soooo NOLA.

We’d already had a drink or 4 by the time we hit Bourbon St, so our next stop was the famous Pat O’Brien’s, where we got the obligatory Hurricane. Annnd we only needed one. I understand why they’re called Hurricanes. 

The flaming fountain!
We met and hung out with a Bachelor party at Pat O’s, then headed to Frenchman St. again. Mary knew of a band playing at Maison, the bar where we danced our tails off the night before. It was packed. My toe got stilletoed, and the night pretty much ended after that. We cabbed it home at some absurd hour, and passed right out.

The next morning, we had brunch reservations at Atchafalaya, which is supposedly a top brunch spot in Nola. It was exactly what we needed after a weekend of drinking. Chris and I got grits (of course she did), eggs, and bacon, per usual, and Mary got one of their delicious-sounding benedicts. Our food took forever to come out, so our sweet waiter treated us to Mimosas, and he had one with us. No harm, no foul.
Mary & I needed the shades...
After brunch, we headed back to the French Quarter by way of streetcar to see things in the daytime. We avoided Bourbon St. this time, and stuck to the ridiculous shops and Jackson Square. I was super into the voodoo stuff, so of course I got myself a voodoo doll. And we picked up some postcards and a few other little surprises along the way. The weather was pretty terrible, but we made-do. We walked through the French Market and Café Du Monde. The shear volume of stuff packed into the place was amazing. It reminded me of River Street in Savannah. We were hot and hungover, so we didn’t make it much past the market.

On the way back to Mary’s from the French Quarter, I finally, after three days of intense googling, figured out where the Jolie-Pitt house was! I totally count that as one of the great accomplishments of my life. We decided we should probably go home and pack and grab a late lunch, but Mary promised we could go by it before we went to the airport. We went home, packed, and then got in the car and headed to find THE house. AND we did. So, here it is…You can find Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s French Quarter residence on Governor Nicholls at Decatur St. If you’re on Decatur St looking up Governor Nicholls, it’s the third or fourth house on the right. We got out, inspected the place, and took plenty of pictures. My googling was confirmed when an older lady-neighbor walked by and told us Brad wasn’t in town this weekend, which we figured, but we were still excited to know we were in the right place. The house was sealed up like Fort Knox, but I’m sure they giggled when they saw me looking for cracks and peaking spots on their surveillance camera footage. They were everywhere. Ha!

After that excitement, we really wanted to see the 9th ward, which was one of the hardest hit spots in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Even almost 7 years later, there’s still plenty of evidence of the storm. It was hard for us to picture all of it under water, and even harder to imagine the levee breaking. 
Bridge to the 9th Ward

The river's on the other side.

Since we were already on a Brad Pitt high, we drove through his “Make it Right” program, which is working to rebuild homes for displaced residence from the pre-storm 9th ward. The coolest part about the whole thing is that the homes are being built to be sustainable in both architecture and design, but are also affordable. Brad has gotten some amazingly talented big-name architects to help out with this great cause, and the houses are freaking awesome! According to the foundation’s website, the average price of a single-family home is $150,000 to $200,000, and homeowners are asked to contribute as much as they can. The average resident contribution has been around $75,000, and then Make It Right covers the rest.

After spending time down there in the Lower 9th ward, we were even more fascinated than ever before, so we of course came home and researched. We found an awesome documentary on Netflix called “Trouble the Water”, which follows a family before, during, and after Katrina. The home video footage was amazing, and it was nominated for an Oscar! We definitely recommend it.

Anyway, we made our way back towards Mary’s, and had some Red Beans and Rice, New Orleans style on Magazine St. at Ignatius. We loved it, especially since we haven’t made it at home in a while. So we are this week! I also got a delicious specialty cocktail that was perfect for pre-flight Katy.

We got to the airport just in time for boarding, and headed back home. I had a moment with Lake Pontchatrain as we flew over. 

 New Orleans was amazing; we fell in love. 

Can’t wait to go back. The food, drinks, culture, everything. Loved it. I don’t know how people have normal, productive lives there, but no matter. What a gem of a place! I decided that if I ever get married, I’m having my Bachelorette Party there. No excuses, ladies.

And thanks Chris, for being THAT tourist and taking such awesome pictures for the both of us. <3

Monday, August 6, 2012

N.O. Part I: Lakes of Pontchartrain

 I’m finally getting around to sharing our amazing long-weekend jaunt to NEW ORLEANS! This is gonna be good. So good that it’ll two posts to do it justice.

You know how Chris and I get into something, and then take it to obsession level? Like we did with The Kennedy’s? Or like Grey’s Anatomy? Well…it happened again.

We’d both never been to New Orleans before, and had always wanted to go (who doesn’t). Lucky for us, Chris’s friend Mary from UGA just happens to live and teach there with Teach for America. She had nothing but great things to say about her new city, and she invited us to come any weekend in the summer, so Chris and I jumped on cheap flights back in May.

So I took a half-day off of work, and after a slight rain delay in Atlanta, we were on our way.

I knew I was in love when we were over Lake Pontchartrain. Something about the aerial view of that lake (actually an “estuary”) got me real excited. Its size is breathtaking, and I knew we were NOT in land-locked Atlanta anymore.

Anyway, after I said “Lake Pontchartrain” about 38 times, annoying both Chris and the people behind us, we met up with Mary in the airport and the adventure began. 

 We warned Mary about our tendency to ask questions. And a lot of them. And usually they’re super random and obscure. It’s a curse.

It was interesting to get chauffeured around the city. We were both really surprised by the one-way streets and the constant U-turns. Glad we flew!
Beads in the trees

Mary lives in the “Mid-city” part of New Orleans, and it’s the cutest area ever. Every house comes complete with a balcony, which Chris was THRILLED about. She wasn’t leaving NOLA until she had a picture of herself on a balcony. Don’t worry, Mary had one.

We felt like the Kardashians

So for dinner the first night, we ate at a precious little Mexican place around the corner from Mary’s house called Juan’s Flying Burrito. She was so great about making sure we hit up some GF friendly places.

I had some amazing (and Cajun-spicy) tacos, and some of their signature Sangria. The place had so much charm and character; it would definitely be one of our regular spots in Atlanta.

After dinner, we hit up one of Mary’s favorite bars, TwoMile Limit. It seemed like a nice little neighborhood place, and it was great because we could walk there from Mary’s house. My favorite part about it was the doorbell. Yes, we had to ring a doorbell to get in. The outside of the place was a little on the sketchy side because of the bars on the door and the lack of windows, but once inside, the bar looked much like any neighborhood bar. But way cooler because there was a doorbell.
Chris and Mary had some dough-bites, which were shots (of tequila I believe), chased with a mini cupcake! Super cute, and I was super jealous.

After Twelve Mile Limit, we made our way to Frenchman St. It’s apparently the Bourbon St. alternative for locals. It reminded me a lot of Athens, GA, which is always a good (great) thing. We hit up The John, which is named after a toilet, then made our way to Maison for some live music and dancing. We stayed out till the early AM in true NOLA fashion. The party really doesn’t stop down there. We felt lame for going home around 4am...
Frenchman St.

Christy on the John at The John

The next day, we felt surprisingly great, due largely do sleeping in I think. We spent the first part of the day driving around the city so Mary could show us as many areas as possible. 

We drove by Mary’s TFA school from last year, saw some amazing historical parts of town with some of the most beautiful homes ever, drove through the French Quarter, then had a well deserved BBQ lunch at The Joint in the Historic Bywater district. 

We'll take that one.

Mary's school last year.
Mardi Gras floats

Above-ground cemetary
Patio at The Joint
I had a hard time deciding what to order, and Mary had so many recommendations, so I had to order a little bit of everything. The brisket and the pulled pork were awesome, but the collards were spectacular! I love me some greens, and these were some of the best ever. Besides Nate’s, of course.


After lunch, we headed over the Magazine St. for some shopping. I think it was probably my favorite neighborhood we spent time in.
The shops were so cute, and very walkable. We felt like locals, so now we pretty much are. We have a vacation shotgun home on Magazine St. now (in our heads). 
Us in front of our new place!
Mid-Magazine drink
We got some great t-shirts from Storyville. Aren’t they cool?! I wish they’d come to Atlanta. I could have spent some serious money there.

Mary also took us to Fleurty Girl, which was a sweet and hilarious little lady-shop. We wanted everything. And someone (CHRIS) is now obsessed with Fleur-de-lises…

And the best is yet to come. The rest of our trip continues tomorrow...