That’s Lettuce?! – A Different, Kinder Veggie Tale

Earlier this week, I stopped into a make-your-own burrito place for lunch. The lunch rush was building, the line was growing longer, but the space was small enough that you could interact with (and hear) those around you.

Even with a slew of burrito lovers, I could clearly hear the orders for the couple of those a few places after me in line.

It’s probably a good time to fess up at this point and tell you I’m a people watcher. I LOVE how we interact with each other, how we experience seemingly inconsequential moments and make sense of our world. (Because of this, I think I may be more attuned to what goes on around me. Although most days I wish I didn’t hear the conversations of others in restaurants when the conditions were like these, that day, I was humbled and happy that I did.)

Two women – perhaps colleagues, or maybe just friends meeting for lunch – followed me in line.

Their camaraderie and a sense of ease in the friendship was clear by how they engaged with one another. The first – let’s call her Ana – had never been to a lunch spot like this before, and the second – let’s call her Becky – was coaching her through the phases of building a burrito bowl.

With confidence, Ana selected her protein, rice and beans – the first phase of building a burrito; she was confident at the beginning of phase two, selecting pico de gallo (salsa fresca) and corn salsa, but then she was caught VERY off-guard.

“That’s LETTUCE?” she exclaimed. She could hardly believe it!

Romaine lettuce, which you or I may consider as a staple, was completely unfamiliar to her!

I could not believe it. In truth, my immediate internal reaction without any pause or conscious policing was totally judgmental, “this woman doesn’t know what lettuce is…”

But then, I checked myself, paused, and thought, wow. I live in a country where people aren’t familiar with easily accessible vegetables. There are people in our offices, communities, or friend groups who wouldn’t recognize romaine lettuce. (Not to mention people who don’t have easy access to lettuce at all!)

Becky, aka woman #2, did not judge, nor give her a hard time; neither did the employee. The women moved through the line without further ado and then sat down, proceeding to take pictures of their food and enjoy their time together.

What an unexpected gift Becky gave to Ana, most likely without either of them realizing it.

In my head, here’s how it went: The ladies decided to do lunch. Becky offered up the burrito place; Ana had not been before and agreed to try something new.

A commonplace, almost boring scenario, right?

Here’s the Aha!

As a result, Ana stepped outside of her comfort zone, got exposed to healthier options, was able to speak up about not knowing and was still treated lovingly.

And all of this happened over lunch!?

My take-away was that it really is the simplest of actions and moments that build our friendships and our health, and in every relationship – or interaction – we have an opportunity to cultivate curiosity and turn away from judgment.

In any given moment, we could be either Ana or Becky in this scenario.

We could be the friend opening up another’s eyes to something different, encouraging another to explore, and, in the process, sparking a healthier lifestyle for her.

Or we could be the friend who is outside her comfort zone, hoping no one judges, feeling unsure and as though we may not belong, then surprised to find we’re surrounded by loving kindness.

Whether you’re Ana or Becky, you can show people what you like, who you are, and what you value while also holding space to explore their view is where true change can start.

It may only take one small step to spark a larger change in our health, our homes, our hearts and our communities. Ana and Becky offered it to each other, and those around them are better for it.

What small change can you make today and who can you share that with?

If you can relate to this post, share your thoughts below, and, if you have any friends who might find this article helpful, please be sure to forward along!

 

 

 

 

Eat Out A Lot? Always on the Go? Five Easy Tips to Still Eat Healthy

Entertaining, eating out in restaurants and grabbing grub on the go can derail even the best laid plans for maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.

I can totally relate to the effort and time it takes to stay on-track!

I travel A LOT.

I eat A LOT… and I eat in certain ways because of preference and necessity.

When I’m running around or on the road (as anyone who knows me, road tripped with me or follows me on Instagram can attest), I try to prep ahead of time and bring meals and snacks. A LOT of snacks.

Sometimes, though, it’s not enough! I may have an impromptu session or a lunch meeting with a Client or colleague, during which I want to eat with them as part of that time together.

In those instances, I rely on tried and true tricks to make the most of the menu! Many restaurants have expanded their menus to include healthy options making it easier, too!

Your Five Easy Menu Modifications (+ a few extra hints!)

✔Put your dressing on the side & dip your fork instead of ordering dressing on the salad. Similarly, forgo cheese, mayo, sour cream and aioli or get it on the side for better portion control.

✔Skip the croutons, too, and the bread or tortilla in favor of whole grains, like rice, or lettuce wraps.

✔ Opt for chicken or fish over beef.

✔Go for grilled over fried.

✔Ask for steamed vegetables without any butter instead of French fries; if you opt for the fries, add veggies to the meal however you can, like an extra side salad or lettuce on the sandwich. SKIP THE GUILT!

✔ Always let your waiter know if you have food allergies, too. They’ll be much more mindful about your order and even guide you towards healthier options that fit your needs!

✔Keep learning how to make simple easy substitutions that work for you and you’ll achieve & maintain your health or weight goals for life!

Do you make the menu work for you and your health? Let us know, and if you have a friend or two who could use a few tips to revive their resolutions, share this post!

To your greatest health & happiness!

 

 

 

Too Good to Be True | A Gluten Free, No Sugar AND Decadent Dessert!

glutenfree, dairyfree, nutfree chocolate muffins or coffee cake with added antioxidants

Believe me when I say, you can eat healthy, gluten free desserts without any added sugar and still enjoy a dish of decadence! Say sayonara to feeling deprived when you’re watching your weight or cleaning up your diet!

If it sounds too good to be true, we thought so, too, until we discovered Chef Danielle Shine’s Vegan Sweet & Healthy Chocolate (Eggplant) Muffins. After adding a little Sprout and Rosebud sparkle, we must say, of all our veggified recipes, this one takes the cake!

The rich flavor of the cacao mixed with the hint of coffee is a mouth-watering combo, and provides an antioxidant, free-radical fighting  along with the … eggplant! Stay with us; it’s delicious, and you don’t even taste it. It even impressed the very picky meat-and-potatoes-minded dinner guests!

The sweetness of the pitted dates (aka no sugar!) and the maca come together, and you’ve got yourself quite a sweet treat to boost your mood and your body.

PS. These also freeze beautifully, and can be used for on-the-go breakfasts & snacks!

Too Good to Be True Cake

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 small to medium eggplant, or 1/2 cup steamed eggplant, once squeezed
  • 1 bar of dark chocolate – 70% or higher is best; we used 88%
  • 2 tbsp ghee, olive oil, coconut oil or a blend of all three
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh ground coffee
  • 8-10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
    Note: you can make this recipe vegan by omitting eggs and relying on oil instead of butter or ghee. For Paleo, sub your gluten-free flour with almond flour. If steering clear of nightshades, omit the eggplant, keep the eggs, and you’ve still got yourself a rich antioxidant infused dessert!

Directions

  1. Chop eggplant into large chunks and steam.
  2. Pre-heat oven 400F.
  3. Once eggplant is mushy, peel off the skin, if desired, and squeeze as much of the liquid out as you can.
    It will be a mess! If you have kids, now’s the time to get their help because it’s a lot of fun, and also kind of gross. 🙂
  4. Place lump of eggplant in food processor with dates, eggs, cacao, ground coffee, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Break up the bar of dark chocolate into chunks (lessens melting time) and on medium-low heat, melt along with the oil or butter until liquid, stirring constantly to prevent burning or sticking.
  6. Pour into food processor. 
  7. Add gluten free flour to processor, and blend until well combined, scraping down the sides when needed.
  8. Pour mixture into pre-greased baking tin.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until an inserted fork comes out almost clean.
    (Sometimes, with gluten free baking, the goods will get dry if baked fully, like traditional baked goods. Either way, if the texture is not perfectly to your liking, slice some fruit on it, drizzle tahini or frost with an icing of your choice, and neither you, nor your guests, will be able to tell! 🙂 
  10. Remove from oven, leave to cool for a few minutes, then flip onto a wire cooling rack until ready to serve.
  11. Serve & enjoy! 

As always, we love hearing how you take these recipes and further customize and create ones that are yours! Share your creations with us on social media or leave us a comment below!

Cheers to decadent gluten-free goodness!

‘The Struggle is Real’ Rice Pudding

Fast breakfast of Rice Pudding in a white porcelain mug on top of a dark wooden table with goji berries and a drizzle of date paste syrup.

Named accordingly, this healthy-carb’d, protein-packed, deliciously fast dish is the perfect breakfast for those mornings when you want to eat well, yet you have NO TIME to make anything that would resemble a breakfast of champions, if you eat breakfast at all! The struggle is real, right?

Well, first things first, put down that Pop Tart and Double Soy Unicorn Latte (not a good breakfast, girls!), then check this out.

"The Struggle is Real" Rice Pudding

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups cooked rice (brown or black is the best!)
  • 1/4 cup milk (almond, soy, organic cow, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup egg whites or one egg
  • 1/8 tsp ghee, coconut oil or grass-fed butter

Optional Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ginger, cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbl raisins or Goji berries
  • Drizzle of honey, date syrup or brown sugar; go easy if your milk is sweetened

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a microwave-safe non-plastic bowl (plastic leeches chemicals into the food when cooking).

  2. Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes. If you prefer the stove, bring the ingredients to a boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

  3. Stir.

  4. If still runny, add another minute. Continue doing so until the eggs are cooked.

  5. Enjoy!

As you see, there are yummy & healthy options available to you in a pinch (particularly if you’ve been using your healthy shopping lists). All you need is a few minutes, and you’re good to go with a breakfast that will keep your brain sharp, your belly full and you at your peak. Now, THAT is a Breakfast of Champions!

As always, we love to hear your thoughts, your breakfast best practices, your tips, tricks and techniques – and so does our community! So please share them below, and if someone in your tribe, network, company needs a little morning overhaul, please feel free to share this post!

S&R’s Gluten-Free Protein Pancakes

Gluten-free pancakes, Gluten free, protein rich, easy pancakes plated on a white plate

My on-the-go go-to’s for easy-peasy nutrition and variety, as is widely known, are salad bowls, rice bowls and smoothies. I fancy myself a mixologist in the kitchen, and these mixed-up menu items are my favorites! I can toss whatever I have together for an easy meal that is nutrient dense and delicious in minutes.

Who doesn’t love that?

The newest member to this roster are Pancakes, specifically S&R Protein Pancakes. (Still working out a wittier name; suggestions welcomed!)

Within five to seven minutes, you can have a healthy, balanced breakfast at your fingertips. This one is also good for kids to help make! (The younger ones will need added supervision with the pan-related tasks, though.)

 

S&R Gluten-Free Protein Pancakes

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup milk (dairy, almond, Ripple, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup gluten free old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup egg whites (cage free and local, if you can. Same with the egg.)
  • 1 scoop protein powder of your choice, chocolate is best!
  • 1-2 tbl gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your pan on medium-high.

  2. Whip or beat all the ingredients above except the flour.

  3. Once fully mixed, the batter should be runny and evenly colored.

  4. Add the flour and mix thoroughly.

  5. Spray pan with cooking spray or drizzle olive oil or ghee to keep pancakes from sticking.

  6. Check the pan to ensure it's sufficiently hot by dripping a few drops of water; if you hear a sizzle, it's time.

  7. Add 1/4 c. of batter for each pancake to the pan, flipping when the side-up face of pancake begins to bubble or look aerated.

The fun really begins when you divert from the basic recipe below and add your favorite mix-in’s, like maca powder, a smidgen of crushed ripe banana, almonds, cacao powder or nibs, chia seeds, etc.

Gluten free, protein pancakes plated
These easy flapjacks are nutrition goldmines!

We love to hear how you make our recipes your own! Leave a comment below and let us know how you do healthy breakfasts on-the-go!

Out & About @ Taqueria del Mar in Monterey, CA

On a recent trip to Big Sur for the infamous Big Sur International Marathon, our appetites and Yelp! App led us to one of the highest-rated restaurants, yet best-kept secrets in Monterey, California. The unassuming Taqueria del Mar, a Mexican eatery, is a beautiful hidden gem found on Lighthouse Avenue.

Taqueria del Mar logo and wall signage
Look out for this friendly parrot in the window, or you might walk right by this hidden gem!
small bowl of fresh guacamole topped with fresh pico de allow and a small basket of gluten free corn chips
Delicious guacamole with housemade gluten-free chips! (aka my favorite appetizer!)

Its calm, warm ambience with simple decor offers the freshest, made-to-order fare you may find in the area. (Trust me, I ate my way through the region!) Worthy of its cult following, the carnivore, vegetarian and gluten-free menu items range from the expected, such as burritos, tacos, and enchiladas to the quite unexpected, like guaraches, chimichangas and carne al pastor!

 

Grilled fish guarache covered in raw cabbage and pico de gallo alongside a crab soft taco with fresh lettuce and pico de gallo
Delicious grilled fish guarache and crab soft taco with a slew of fresh cabbage and pico! Hold the cheese, please! 🙂

The food at Taqueria del Mar is nourishing, delicious and prepared with care; the airy, open space with its bar of window-seating facing Lighthouse Ave and Mexican tile floor reinforces the simplicity and authenticity of the cuisine. Within walking distance of Cannery Row, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Fishermans’ Wharf, it’s a convenient “must-try” for your next adventure along the Monterey Bay!

Taqueria del Mar
530 Lighthouse Ave
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 372-7887

Out & About @ Bistro on Main in Highlands, NC

Fried green tomatoes, crab cakes

File_002I have been traveling a bit more lately, particularly taking road trips, and what I have come to love about North Carolina in these recent travels are the many healthy options available in seemingly small towns that offer both experience delicious cuisine and gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free options.

The most recent of these road trips took me to Highlands, NC, an absolutely darling town amidst waterfalls and gorgeous mountain views, and, as it turns out, the location of a quaint bistro tucked inside a local historic boutique inn, The Inn on Main Street.

After walking through the charming streets (and one of us checked Yelp), we landed on Bistro on Main (which had great Yelp ratings, in case you were wondering 🙂 ). The patio offered a wonderful view of a sunset to complement the yummy noms we enjoyed al fresco.

Something unique about Bistro on Main is that it has quite the array of appetizers, salads and entrees that would appeal to almost anyone, regardless of dietary style or preference, which is quite impressive considering the menu is simply one page!

Every item that we ordered, from the craft cocktails to the fare itself, we raved about. If you’re in Franklin, Cashiers or even in Atlanta, just looking for a fun day trip, definitely make the trip to Highlands!

Bistro_on_Main_Header
A Quick Snippet of the Menus @ Bistro on Main.
File_004
Ginger Lemon Drop Martini with a slice of candied ginger! Very delicious, a little sweet. The bartender kindly made the next round specially for me with more spice, less sweet. 
File_006
Fried Green Tomatoes appetizer (NOT gluten-free) and the Lemon Basil Crab Cakes, which were simply DI-VINE! 
File_008
Lightly blackened North Carolina Mountain Trout with spicy green tomato-cilantro salsa, rice and broccoli. So, so good! 
File_009
A wonderful, wondrous view of the sunset as we wrapped up our celebration dinner in Highlands. Simply spectacular. 

Easy, Inexpensive and Healthy Snacks for On-The-Go

Apples, Edamame, tomatoes!

 

No more vending machine snacks!Does this sound familiar? It’s late morning or that ever-delightful mid-afternoon slump time, and you’re hungry. You do a vending machine drive-by and grab some chips or peanut butter crackers to quell the hunger pangs. … Or how about that time when you snagged whatever you could find in the break-room that was leftover from a lunch meeting earlier in the day? #HelloCookies

Afterwards, you probably felt icky… not just from the lack of nutrients of which you’re in dire need, but also from the side of guilt that went along with it. You deserve better!

To help take some of the work out of figuring out healthy alternatives that require minimal prep time, here are some low-maintenance, healthy snacking options for you busy bees!

 

Veggies + Hummus
Think baby carrots, sliced zucchini, sliced yellow squash, sliced cucumber with a few tablespoons of any variation of hummus will do! Even edamame or homemade black-eyed pea hummus (for you overachievers) serves as a nutrient-dense option for curbing hunger. The crunch is also satisfying, and you won’t miss the chips!

Tuna/chicken/”egg” salad + veggies
This one is a favorite of mine. Homemade tuna salad + carrots, cukes, even pickles satiates me for longer than veggies on their own b/c of the protein from a healthy homemade tuna salad that can be tossed together in seconds. If you’re vegan or partial for chicken salad, there are other options that you can make quickly at night or over the weekend, so you have convenient, healthy choices throughout the week!

Fruit slices + nut butters (or go nuts and do veggies, too!)
Peanut butter, almond butter, even nut-free sunflower seed butter or tahini (my fave!) is delish with a tart apple or crunchy pear. If you’re a fan of the crunch, like I am, include some celery sticks, as well (see above note about the satisfaction of crunching)! If you find yourself needing healthy snacks multiple times a day, then consider including this option among others vs. relying solely on nut butters to satisfy you. The higher calorie/higher fat content, when overeaten, may cause weight gain.

Fruit slices + single serving of cheese wedge
Similar to the fruit and nut butter option, fruit with a serving of soft cheese, like Laughing Cow, offers sweetness or tang with crunch and protein in one compact, nutritious dose! With the single serving of cheese – if you’re into that sort of thing – you may find you have more portion control (and, subsequently, have confidence that you can make healthy choices), which will certainly satisfy and motivate you on your road to good habits!

Yogurt + berries (easy on the sugar and additives)
For the dairy-friendly folks, unsweetened Greek yogurt, for instance, is a lovely, nutrient-rich option. Sweetening with berries gives you a burst of antioxidants and natural sugar, so your blood sugar stays relatively stable, meaning you won’t crave sweets or chips later. If you are dairy-avoidant, try goat milk yogurt or soy yogurt. Again, use moderation because many of these yogurts have added sugar, which will encourage you to crave sweets later in the day.

Other grab-and-go options include:

  • A handful of nuts (see above note on using moderation)
  • One or two string cheeses
  • Steamed edamame, which you can find in the freezer section and steam the night before to eat at any temperature when you get the snacking bug
  • Yogurt with granola (light on the granola to keep the fat and sugar content lower; less than 1/4 cup)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Raw veggies
  • …Any combination of the above!

If you’re a road warrior and looking for healthy tips and tricks, check out this post.

The important thing to all snacks (anything you put in your body, actually) is to pay attention to how you feel after you consume it. Did a combination keep you full or not so much? Did your nose start running or your tummy feel strange within a few minutes of having a yogurt? Tapping into your body’s signals will help you navigate the road to YOUR optimal well-being, so you can choose the snacks that will work for you. Every body is different, and only you can be the expert on what your body needs, what foods make you feel your best, how often you need to eat, and how much is right for you!

Happy snacking!

Apples, Edamame, tomatoes!

Out and About @ Cooks + Soldiers

Cooks + Soldiers, Cooks & Soldiers, Gluten Free dining, Atlanta gluten free restaurants

Cooks + Soldiers, Cooks & Soldiers, Gluten Free dining, Atlanta gluten free restaurants

We ventured out the other night to celebrate a recent promotion (woot, woot!), diverting from our usual “celebratory” faves in favor of trying a new place. As you have probably learned, finding a foodie-worthy restaurant that also offers gluten-, nut- and dairy-free options can be akin to finding a needle in a haystack!

Thankfully, Atlanta’s restaurant scene is evolving (and quite quickly, too!), and Cooks + Soldiers is among the trendsetters.

Unique for serving traditional cuisine from the Basque region of Spain, C+S is located on the Westside of Midtown. Its menu is comprised of pintxos, similar to tapas, and asado, meaning “grilled” or “barbecue”, and its name is inspired by the annual Tamborrada festival of San Sebastian in January, during which, for 24 hours, the entire city is awash with the sound of drums. The adults, dressed as cooks and soldiers, march in different companies across various parts of the city. The passion and tradition of the event from which the restaurant takes its name is evident in every detail.

The dining room is reminiscent of a gentleman’s establishment from a different era: warm, rich and inviting, yet subtle and minimalist. Not trying too hard. Just genuine and authentic. The patio is simply decorated for al fresco dining.

Even though the fertile lands of the Spanish Basque region yield many grains, the cuisine itself is not very grain-based, nor is the C+S menu, which made it easy for us to try a variety of traditional dishes . The servers and staff also delivered allergy-free recommendations with flair and whimsy, enhancing the entire experience to a new level. (Never did they offer up a super pricey alternative, either. So refreshing!)

If you’re a wine enthusiast, you must take a look at their wine list! It goes beyond what I’ve seen in many Atlanta restaurants, particularly those wines offered by the glass. We tried a sparkling pinot noir wine, a cava made from the pinot noir grapes, that was unlike any other, as well as a Riesling blend that was simply decadent!

A Riesling blend after we enjoyed our cava!
A Riesling blend after we enjoyed our cava!

 

Gambas y Pulpo, gluten free restaurants in Atlanta, tapas, atlanta, cooks + soldiers, cooks and soldiers
Gambas y Pulpo (sans toasted bread for this girl!)

 

Roasted cauliflower,  Azalorea Erreta, gluten-free restaurant in atlanta
The absolute pièce de résistance. Azalorea Erreta. Cauliflower steak with cauliflower, capers and carrot chicharrón. We ordered seconds.

 

 

Cauliflower ice cream, glue free restaurants in atlanta
Cauliflower ice cream with a gentle sweetness + a hint of anise. Unexpectedly delicious!

From the ambience, to the greeting, seating, and serving staff, to the chef, to the meal, itself, each interaction was a consistently delicious and jovial experience. I would certainly recommend it for anyone looking for a fine, fun place to celebrate a special occasion, entertain clients, or simply enjoy a glass of wine. After such a five-star experience, I’m certainly planning to join them again!

Cooks + Soldiers
691 14th Street NW
at Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30318
Tel. 404-996-2623

Out and About: The Park Cafe, Charleston, SC

I took a little road trip recently to the Holy City of Charleston, SC. One my absolute favorite places in the absolute world (ok, at least among the many places I’ve visited), Charleston hosts, among other things, some pretty fine eateries. From farmers markets’ fresh fruits and veggies to the soulful fare and Southern cuisine on E. Bay St. to local taquerias on King St. (not to mention Shem Creek, IOP and Mt. P, oh my!), there are endless epicurean adventures to be had, particularly on the weekends. Hello, brunch! With my dear soul sister, Ms. Disco Teepee herself, Meggie, leading the way, we took to a cafe in her new neighborhood for Sunday brunch with our close-knit framily in tow.

The Park Cafe, a gem in the Hampton Park neighborhood of Charleston, is just… well…wonderfully… honest. That is the best and only phrase I can use that even comes close to conveying the look, feel and flavors of this place. A come-as-you-are, welcoming hideaway that reminds me of what it felt like when I was growing up and ate lunch at a next-door neighbor’s house on a Sunday afternoon; her mom genuinely concerned that the food we ate was healthy, yet tasty and satisfying, having prepared our meal with care. Not overly casual, nor pushy, superficial or pretentious, just attentive, genuine and familiar, and…honest. As they say, themselves: “At The Park Cafe, we believe that great food isn’t complicated.” #True. Every dish we ordered was made of simple ingredients, locally sourced, and was just superb, as you’ll see! (ALERT: your mouth may water when you see the French Toast.)

One last thing: As we all know, the dining experience is more than just the food quality, isn’t it? Lousy service or rowdier-than-necessary (especially before the first round of coffee) can quickly tarnish the entire experience. No worries on either of those fronts at Park Cafe. From the servers, to the manager, to the clientele themselves (some even four-legged and furry!), the entire experience could not have been more lovely.

If you are in the Charleston area and looking for a refreshing, honest-to-goodness spot to savor your Sunday (or any day, really!), Park Cafe should be your g0-to. I am absolutely mandating it be on the agenda for my next weekend in CHS.

Enjoy!

 

Park Cafe Matinee
THE PARK CAFE
An incredible brunch spot in Hampton Park, Charleston, SC!

 

Ambience with fans
THE PATIO
We lucked out with an available table on the patio on a beautiful Sunday morning. I love the fans and lighting fixtures that are au naturel (and a little bit bee hive-y, don’t you think? So fun!)

 

Ambience wall of ferns
THE ICONIC WALL
Many a time photo’d, this wall is quite literally a breath of fresh air. Park Cafe is not a very large place, but the ample natural lighting, man-made illumination and greenery open up the dining room giving it a deceivingly spacious feel. The ambiance is truly refreshing and peaceful , yet lively and fun. (They have plants hanging from the walls and allow dogs outside! Of course it’s alive and fun 🙂 )

 

Cappuccino
Why, A SOY CAPPUCCINO, of course!
As Meggie promised, this was one of the best soy cappuccinos I have ever had. Something about this specific roast of coffee beans and the gentle sweetness of the soy made for a simply decadent first cup. (There was also a second, I won’t pretend.)

 

Meggie Needs Coffee
MEGGIE
Finally caffeinated.

 

Katherine got coffee
YAY COFFEE
It’s hard to say whether my excitement was derived from the Cup o’ Joe or just lingering from an incredible weekend in one of the places on this earth that just makes my heart brim over. …It was really good coffee, though…

 

Puppy 1
SWEET PUPPY #1
You can probably tell by her cautious, yet gentle demeanor in this picture that this sweet pumpkin was not really sure about her Sunday morning adventure, but for us, she was a welcomed surprise. We were not expecting any canine companions that morning, but her arrival made us all smile. Maybe she was just trying to move us along with those puppy dog eyes… after all, we did have a prime spot!

 

Cafe Potatoes
CAFE POTATOES
As a girl who relies on potatoes a good deal as her “go-to” gluten free brunch carb, I must say, I know potatoes. And these potatoes were quiet probably some of the BEST “hash browns” I have had in a very long time. The outside crispy, the inside cooked and soft, not grainy or dry at all. The onion and garlic lent wonderful flavor without being overpowering. Everyone nibbled away at them until we ordered a second serving.

 

Shirred Farm Eggs
SHIRRED FARM EGGS
with Soubise, Soldiers & Parmesan
Shirred Eggs are new to me, and I must say, I was quite intrigued with Lauren ordered them. If you aren’t already in-the-know, this tres chic dish is served with “soldiers” or thin toast slices and is actually baked eggs with cream, herbs and cheese. Unfortunately, I could not take part in this traditionally French fare, but the rest of the table could, and they raved.

 

Toast with Fresh apple Butter
TOAST
Fresh Butter & Apple Butter
Fresh butter and homemade apple butter? It was all I could do not to just sample a little on my spoon! Divine.

 

Veggie Mess
VEGGIE MESS
Farm Egg Scramble, Vegetable Curry, (sans) White Cheddar, Avocado
Although I dare say I could not recreate the curry to a “T,” I will try my hand at a homemade curry veg scramble in the near future as this one opened my eyes (and tastebuds) to the possibility. Peppers, carrots, peas, onions and cauliflower added a sprinkling of both color and texture to this dish. As you see, I opted out of cheese, but I don’t think it took away from the scramble a bit!

 

House Omelet with Arugula Salad
HOUSE OMELET & ARUGULA SALAD
Beech Mushroom, Leek, Brie, Espelette…and bacon
The salad with a light vinaigrette was the perfect substitute for Josh, who enjoyed the freshness of the vinaigrette in contrast to the earthiness of the mushrooms and creaminess of the brie. Of course, he liked the bacon, too 😉

 

French Toast
FRENCH TOAST
Portuguese Sweet Bread, Caramel, Bananas, Pecans & Whipped Cream
Where to even begin with this … Just looking at it, you can easily enjoy not just the beauty of this “French Toast,” but the sinful richness of each mouthful! Let’s just say that, thankfully, Dodd is a good sharer because I don’t think he had a choice when this one hit the table. Bananas, walnuts, a homemade buttery maple syrup, and spongy sweet bread? It’s a wonder he even got a bite at all!

 

Puppy 2
THIS GUY
Oh my goodness, this absolutely adorable creature provided at least 30 minutes of entertainment for us! He was hanging out immediately next to our table, and his zeal for this large stone (that looks like a ball in this picture; however, it most certainly was NOT) was contagious! He played with it as though it was his long-lost toy, and his joie de vivre made us stop mid-bite and just laugh. He was lost in enjoying himself, and so were we!
Oh man, did he make us happy!

 

Friends with Nosh
JOSH, aka “NOSH,” & MOI
With subtle French influence in the menu, I figured I’d sprinkle a little into the commentary (My French is a bit limited!) 🙂

 

Friends with Lauren
LAUREN & MOI

 

Friends Meggs and Nosh
AH, MAIS OUI!
Caffeinated, fed and enjoying our Sunday!