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Abby and Natalie’s Amazing Adventure

June 30, 2014 2 Comments Print this page

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Friends, this is proof that the internet is amazing. A year ago, I would have never thought I would meet my best friend online of all places. I also would have never thought that my best friend could live 1,500 miles away and that she’d get on an airplane to come and visit the East Coast for the first time. I think this is proof enough that technology is just wow.

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This is my best friend Natalie, who runs the blog The Clean Eating Teen. She lives in Texas, I live in Connecticut. One year ago, we were introduced via the Just Eat Real Food page on Facebook, and as we began communicating, we discovered that we had more in common than we thought. Eventually, we became really good friends and convinced our parents to let Natalie come to the Northeast and visit New York City for a few days.

We had a BLAST, although both of us are still exhausted from all of the sight-seeing and excitement. I wish she didn’t have to leave, but unfortunately, all trips do.

Here are our highlights!

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After picking up Natalie from the airport, we went back to my house and I showed her around my (very small) town. For dinner, I made a southern-inspired meal: pasture-raised babyback ribs with homemade barbecue sauce, red cabbage coleslaw with apples, and gluten-free/dairy-free cornbread. It was DELICIOUS. Natalie doesn’t have access to good-quality red meat where she lives, so she was very happy about the ribs. (They were so tender most of the meat actually fell off the bones!)

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For dessert, we had vegan carrot cake ice cream (recipe coming soon!) with homemade candied pecans and raisins. Rich, creamy, and wonderfully pigmented, everyone loved this cool, tasty treat! I love making ice cream.

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The next morning, we did a workout together and went over to the Westport Farmers’ Market to pick up some goodies. It’s still early in the growing season in Connecticut, but there was still plenty of fresh produce to be had!

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Check out these Easter Egg radishes. Aren’t they beautiful?!

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We picked up some fresh strawberries, scallions, kale, salad greens, shiitake mushrooms, organic corn tortilla chips, local honey, and fresh goat cheese. Lots of nibbling was to be had!

After the farmers’ market, we went over to Craft Butchery to pick up some pasture-raised, grass-fed meat. We decided to go with kalbi steaks (very thin steaks cut from where the short ribs are) and duck breasts for dinner.

We then ventured over to Rainbow Thai for some yummy food for lunch. Natalie had never had Thai food before, so it was really cool to take her to such a good restaurant for her first try!

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We started with Tom Kha Gai–coconut soup with chicken, tomatoes, and mushrooms–then shared pad thai and Massaman curry with extra vegetables.

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YUM! So flavorful, colorful, and delicious. I hope Natalie enjoyed her first taste of Thai food.

Once we finished lunch, we took a long walk and did a little shopping. On our way, we stopped for some tea at David’s Tea, a tea store that makes over a hundred (I think) different blends of tea. Cool!

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Natalie got Forever Nuts (the one on the left)–an herbal tea steeped with almonds, apple, and cinnamon–and I got Guava Cadabra–another herbal tea steeped with mango, apple, guava, and hibiscus blossoms. We enjoyed our teas very much, but not as much as we liked sniffing the loose teas of all of the different varieties!

We then went home to cook up dinner: Asian-marinated kalbi steaks with sauteed mushrooms and onions and a kale salad with strawberries and hazelnuts. My dad also made some fresh sourdough bread with raisins and local honey. Not gluten-free, but a tasty treat for Natalie’s special visit.

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After a good (well, good enough) night’s sleep, we headed into New York City the following morning for an action-packed day of fun. Natalie has never been to NYC before, so it was really fun to be a tour guide! We started off with the High Line…

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…and had fresh, yummy popsicles from People’s Pops along the way! People’s Pops is a popsicle company that makes its frozen treats from in-season fruit and organic sugar, which I love. I got the Blueberry Rhubarb, and Natalie got the Tart Plum and Mint. Both were excellent and super-refreshing.

By the way, the High Line is great to walk down, especially on a beautiful day. So if you live in New York City or nearby, I highly suggest you go for a visit this summer.

From there, we took the subway up to Chelsea Market after Google Maps steered us in the completely wrong direction. (We wound up at a dry cleaner’s, not Chelsea Market!) Anyway, once we arrived, we wandered around for a bit before having lunch at The Green Table, a casual sit-down restaurant with plenty of local, organic options.

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I was feeling boring so I got a pastured chicken breast with kale and emmer berries, all tied together with a tasty au jus. The chicken was moist and flavorful and the sides were perfectly cooked. We also split some wild mushrooms with sesame seeds to start, which were also very good.

We were in the mood for a little something sweet, so we went over to the One Lucky Duck raw vegan cafe for a smoothie.

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Natalie and I split the Strawberry Blonde, which had strawberries, pineapple, banana, coconut water, and vanilla. DELICIOUS! I’m usually not a big fan of smoothies–I’d rather eat all of that fruit–but this one was particularly nice.

We then took the subway up to Times Square…

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…and over to Rockefeller Plaza to go to the Top of the Rock for some incredible views.

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It was such a beautiful day–perfect for taking photos!

After our ears popped and we went down the elevator, we took a bus back uptown to my grandmother’s apartment, stopping for macarons from Ladurée en route.

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Natalie had never had one before, so of course we had to get a bunch of flavors! We sampled the dark chocolate, strawberry and poppy, chocolate with coconut, coffee, raspberry, pistachio, and rose–all little bites of French patisserie perfection.

Later, we ventured out again for dinner at Persepolis, a cool little Persian restaurant about five minutes from my grandmother’s apartment. I think Natalie and I can agree that this was probably our favorite meal out.

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We started with the eggplant trio: the baba (roasted eggplant, Persian goat cheese, walnuts, and onions), the eggplant mirza (roasted eggplant, tomato, garlic, and yogurt), and the eggplant halim (roasted eggplant and lentils with yogurt). I would marry all three of these tasty eggplant spreads–they were SO good. My favorite was the one in the middle, which I believe was the baba…yum!

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For my entree, I had the Fesenjan–a chicken stew with pomegranate, walnuts, and spices–over a bed of sour cherry rice. Oh. My. Gosh. So flavorful. So perfectly balanced. So wonderful. I was in heaven.

Natalie ordered a chicken/lamb kabob combo with some orange and almond rice, which was also very tasty.

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For dessert, we shared some baklava–layers of honey, nuts, and flaky phyllo dough–and pomegranate, orange and raisin, and rose ice cream. The baklava was incredible–I wish I could find a way to make it gluten-free at home! While the flavors of the ice cream were interesting, I still thought my ice cream (which is vegan, by the way) was better.

After a movie and a good night’s sleep, we ventured out again the following morning to the Union Square Farmers’ Market for some fresh goodies.

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If you’ve never been, the Union Square Farmers’ Market is incredible. There are so many vendors, all selling the best fresh, local produce. We stocked up quite a bit!

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I first got some beautiful purple carrots…

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…then an enormous bag of cherries…

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…and a little box of sweet, juicy little tomatoes, along with some blueberries, fresh dill, red popcorn, and apples. We also had glasses of sweet apple cider, which was surprisingly good for the summer months.

From there, we took the subway down to Chinatown for a quick stroll…

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…saw (and probably smelled) a bunch of durians…

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…and went into a mushroom store where some of the mushrooms cost over $2,000 per pound. You’d probably have to pay $50 to get a pinch of mushroom dust! Ridiculous.

We then took the subway back uptown to Candle 79, a delicious organic vegan and vegetarian restaurant. I got the market plate with chipotle black beans (read: I AM OBSESSED WITH BLACK BEANS), polenta fries, sweet plantains, and garlic-sauteed broccoli, all served with homemade ketchup, chipotle sauce, and avocado-tahini dressing. Delish, man.

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To walk off a bit of our lunch, we took a promenade in Central Park…

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…and saw some REALLY cool giant bubbles! Check this out:

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I’m super proud of this picture. Just wanted to show off.

We then headed back to Connecticut for a dinner of duck with rhubarb sauce, sauteed red cabbage, and roasted sweet potatoes…with more ice cream for dessert.

The following morning was Natalie’s last day, so we took a long walk and made some cookies to bring home for her family. What a sweet way to say farewell!

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I really didn’t want to see this girl go. How can you send your best friend 1,500 miles away after you finally had the chance to meet her in person? I don’t know.

I hope Natalie can come and visit again soon, so we can see each other…and eat more good food!

What’s the best food you’ve had in New York City? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!

Oh, by the way…Follow my blog with Bloglovin


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Loaded Zucchini Bread

October 18, 2013 Print this page

The best bread to have for breakfast or snack in the summertime! Filled with vegetables, fruit, and deliciousness, your stomach will thank you for feeding it this.

Ingredients

Prep Time 20 min
Cooking Time 50 min
Total Time 90 min
Yield 1 loaf

1 medium zucchini

3 large eggs

1/3 cup of coconut nectar (can be substituted with honey or maple syrup)

1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups of blanched almond flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ginger

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg (optional)

1/4 teaspoon of cloves (optional)

3/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut or slivered almonds

1/2 cup of raisins

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit snugly on the bottom of a 9 x 5 loaf pan. With non-stick cooking spray or a paper towel with some coconut oil, heavily grease the pan.

Using a hand grater or a food processor, grate 1 heaping cup of zucchini.

Once you have your zucchini measured out, scoop it up and put it into a large piece of cheesecloth or paper towel. Form it into a ball, twist the top, and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Set aside until ready to use.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the eggs and coconut nectar. When the liquids are homogeneous, add in the applesauce, vanilla extract, and apple cider vinegar. Beat on medium until well-combined.

With the mixer off, pour in the blanched almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and cloves, if you’re using them.

Mix everything together on medium-low until no clumps of almond flour remain, about two minutes. Scrape down the bowl once or twice, if necessary.

With a spatula, gently fold in the zucchini, unsweetened shredded coconut, and raisins.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and bake until golden brown on top and a knife comes out clean in the center, about 45 to 55 minutes.

Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for at least an hour before removing and slicing.


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Loaded Zucchini Bread (gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo)

August 26, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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This is a seriously nutrient-packed bread, if there ever was one. You’ve got a massive dose of vitamin C from the moist zucchini, some healthy fats from the tender coconut flakes, and a good amount of potassium from the perfectly sweet raisins. Served warm with a scoop of coconut whipped cream or toasted with a swirl of nut butter, this zucchini bread is excellent for any occasion.

But where did my zucchini come from? Now, this is a special story.

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I captured this beautiful butterfly at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett, New York, while I picked basket after basket of bright orange cherry tomatoes. The mid-morning sun warmed my back as smells of freshness and summer danced around in the air. Behind me were rows and rows of eggplants, cucumbers, and squashes, all at their peak ripeness.

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In charge of this amazing place are Katie and Amanda, two women whom I have the utmost respect for. For five years now, they’ve been independently running Amber Waves Farm, spending day after day planting, picking, and packing. But they love what they’re doing. They always are upbeat and have smiles on their faces, even in the heat after waking up early. Together, they’ve created an incredible farm focused on learning about the healthiest, tastiest foods in the world: fruits and vegetables.

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When I left the farm, I had at least three or four bags of fresh produce. I couldn’t decide what to take: everything looked just…AWESOME. There were big, fat eggplants and long, skinny eggplants. There were squashes as yellow as a daffodil and squashes in deep shades of green. There was okra, cucumbers, peppers in every color of the rainbow, tomatoes small as the tip of my pinky and nearly as large as my face…oh, and husk cherries.

What’s a husk cherry? They’re my and my mom’s new obsession. They’re neither a tomato nor a grape, nor really a tomatillo, either. They’re ready when—get this—they fall on the ground, and to harvest them, you’ve gotta get down on your knees and DIG! The result is so worth it, though: you peel back the husk, pop the pale yellow fruit into your mouth, and experience revelation. It’s crisp and the slightest bit juicy, but not watery at all. It has notes of nuttiness, like a hazelnut, a little sweetness, and just a touch of tart. I’ve never had anything like it.

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Did I mention they have chickens there, too? And look at what they’re eating: REAL. FOOD. Do you see any soy? Do you see any mysterious brown pellets? No, they’re eating ZUCCHINI! Praise the schmaltz. 

Speaking of zucchini, the ones from Amber Waves are pretty much the best zucchini I’ve EVER eaten. It’s so good I could eat it raw, which I’ve never been able to do with ones from the supermarket. I was planning on sharing a recipe for zucchini noodles with you guys, but after beholding the ugliness of my last attempt, I decided to make zucchini bread instead.

Good compromise, right? Right? Well, let’s get started.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit snugly on the bottom of a 9 x 5 loaf pan. With non-stick cooking spray or a paper towel with some coconut oil, heavily grease the pan. Breads, particularly gluten-free ones, love to get stuck to loaf pans, so it’s really important to take precautionary measures. (The first time I made gluten-free banana bread, my dad and I had to use about 5 different kitchen utensils to get it out.)  

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Using a hand grater or a food processor, grate 1 heaping cup of zucchini. Mine was really big, so I wound up just eating what I didn’t use. No biggie.

Once you have your zucchini measured out, scoop it up and put it into a large piece of cheesecloth or paper towel. Form it into a ball, twist the top, and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Set aside until ready to use.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together 3 large eggs and 1/3 cup of coconut nectar, honey, OR maple syrup. When the liquids are homogeneous, add in 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Beat on medium until well-combined.

Time for dry ingredients! With the mixer off, pour in 1 1/2 cups of blanched almond flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon of ginger. You can also add up to 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and/or cloves, but my mom isn’t a fan of either, so I just left them out.

Mix everything together on medium-low until no clumps of almond flour remain, about two minutes. Scrape down the bowl once or twice, if necessary.

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With a spatula, gently fold in the zucchini, 3/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut, and 1/2 cup of raisins. You can also add in chocolate chips, nuts, or your favorite dried fruit for endless flavor combinations!

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and bake until golden brown on top and a knife comes out clean in the center, about 45 to 55 minutes. (My oven runs cool, so I always have to bake things longer.)

Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for at least an hour before removing and slicing.

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Looking for other recipes that use zucchini? Here are some from around the internet that I want to try!

What is your favorite summer vegetable? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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