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May 2017

Tasty Travels

Hometown Food

I went back home to Las Vegas this spring and I was excited for two things: Time with friends/family and FOOD. Yep, that about sums up my life. Give me a cookie and time to catch up with friends and I am a happy camper. Since I document most of my life from the food I eat, this trip was no different. So here is my trip home according to pictures of my food:

Giada – this was a real treat! For any Food Network fans – Giada De Laurentiis has a restaurant on Las Vegas Boulevard. We have a great family friend who works at her restaurant and so we wanted to visit him while we were in town. We had a big group and decided to get a few entrees and appetizers and split it among everyone. That was a wonderful decision. The food is impeccable and so is the ambiance. It was nice enough outside that they opened up the huge windows that look out onto Las Vegas Blvd. As if all of that isn’t perfect, the chairs are the perfect amount of comfy. This is worth the splurge if you are in town.

 

Massive assortment of all kinds of delicious things – pizza, pasta, stuffed peppers, meatballs, and more.

 

But wait, there was more – dessert! I’m usually a chocolate person but all of the lemon desserts were extra superb. I still dream of the fluffy soufflé that was rich, creamy, and yet light all at the same time.

Lemon souffle with lemon curd and gelato to go inside. DIVINE.

 

Chocolate cake and lemon ricotta cookies with raspberry sorbet in the middle. Mmm…

 

Next favorite of the trip: Cafe Rio. This place originally opened up in Utah and found its way to the suburbs when I was in high school. I would say I had this at least twice a month throughout high school and college. Their most popular (and my favorite) dish is anything with the sweet barbacoa pork. It is unlike any other flavor. Sweet, luscious, wonderful. That mixed with their cilantro vinaigrette gives a sweet and tangy combo unlike anything else. They’ve grown to be all over the country in the last few years, sadly not yet anywhere near me (one day).

Sweet Pork Barbacoa Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

 

But you know what is the best meal in Las Vegas? Any meal that I get to share with friends that I love. Two to mention are coffee with childhood friends and a homemade meal in a house I practically grew up in. Sure, these weren’t restaurants I dreamed about eating at but they are the memories I will cherish.

When your childhood friend brings homemade scones to your coffee date – YUM.

Dinner and dessert at home, just what the soul needed.

 

Living in the Midwest for the last two years has been a glorious experience. The people are so kind and the food is SO GOOD. I am so happy to be in Indy, but whenever I go home I get very excited for all the delightful foods I get to eat when catching up with friends in town. At any given moment I could easily list of 3-5 foods I am missing from home. Currently: In-N-Out, Cafe Rio, Crepe Shack, and West Coast Mexican food of any kind. But these foods would be nothing if they didn’t have company to accompany them.

Time with my brother – Giada’s Photobooth

Brunching with college sorority sisters!

Family time with our forever favorite landlord/friend/almost-in-law, Rhonda!

 

So for that I am grateful for not only great food but even better friends to enjoy the meals with me. I may not get to go home often, but when I do I can always count on my friends to meet me for a great meal and pick up right where we left.

Home isn’t a place, but it’s a sense of belonging. I feel at home at the table surrounded with those I love.

In the Midst of Reminiscing,

Samantha

 

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Post Whole 30

So here I am, a little over a week after completing after Whole 30 and I wanted to share my thoughts:

Sugar is everywhere, but now I’m more aware of it

  • I was dumbfounded to discover how many things contain sugar, even when they are not a sweet item. Tomato sauce, sausage, garlic salt, salad dressing, and more. I am going to do my best to avoid these foods that don’t need sugar in them by making my own versions of them. I enjoyed making my own dressings, sauces, and seasonings and I feel better knowing that I picked each and every ingredient.

I feel better (and sleep way better) eating Whole 30 meals

  • During Whole 30 I slept like a rock, I rarely woke up in the middle of the night. Reintroducing dairy, carbs, and sugar I have realized that if I have a heavy carb dinner or something sweet after that I don’t sleep as well. I wouldn’t say I’m restless but I am certainly not where I was when I had none of those things in my diet. I would say that is my main motivation to continue to eat Whole 30 as much as possible.

Things that aren’t meant to be sweet are now too sweet

  • This week I made meat sauce with a jar of tomato sauce I had in the pantry. I read the ingredients and saw it had 10g of sugar per 1/2 cup serving – woah. As I tasted it, I realized how sweet it really was. Before this process, I would not have noticed it but now I am so much more aware of savory things tasting sweet because of the hidden sugar.

Chocolate still rules

  • Chocolate is the one thing I missed the most. The good thing is that even before Whole 30 I didn’t need a lot of chocolate to satisfy my craving. So now it is something that I am happy to have back in my life but I don’t feel the need to go overboard with when I eat it. Take that, Sugar Dragon!

Overall, I am still incredibly glad that I took on this challenge and tested my body. I am more aware of what I choose to eat and notice how my body reacts to certain foods.  I’m an even bigger fan of the process now having all the food at my fingertips than I was in the middle of the process. Whole 30 was a great challenge for me and a great learning experience. I am also glad I did the reintroductions to discover how my body reacted to those things individually. I am going to do my best to have most meals be Whole 30 compliant as often as possible. My body felt better and I had way more energy. I will still enjoy the pizza and chocolate – but now I plan to treat it as…well a treat, instead of an all the time thing.

For anyone that is considering doing this, I definitely recommend looking into it! Coming from a foodie who loves to eat out and eat dessert – if I can do it so can you. Yes, I missed out on a few social events and would have loved to eat chocolate after a rough day. But then I reminded myself – it is just 30 days I can eat that [fill in the blank] next month.

My next challenge is working my way through Tim Ferriss’s (or is it Ferriss’? … I spent too long Googling this debate) book The Four Hour ChefI have been wanting to learn some new skills in the kitchen and this book is quickly proving to be the exact thing I needed. Stay tuned for more!

My happy face having cheese and bread back in my life.

In the Midst of Introverting,
Samantha