my sweet sun tea recipe

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To finish off the month of July’s theme of all things southern, I’m sharing my go-to recipe for sweet tea. In my opinion, you really can’t survive the hot summer months in the South without pitchers of sweet tea at the ready.

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Ingredients
3 teabags or 3 tablespoons of loose black tea
(preferably Orange Pekoe)
1/2 cup sugar

Directions
1. Fill a glass pitcher nearly to the top with fresh water.
2. Add three bags or an infuser with three tablespoons of loose Orange Pekoe tea.
3. Place the pitcher outside in a sunny spot until dark in color, about 3-4 hours.
4. In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water and bring to a low boil.
5. Remove from heat and pour simple syrup into the pitcher.
6. Mix with a wooden spoon and serv.e

a classic southern meal made vegan

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The other night, we had one of my all-time favorite meals, a wholly southern pairing of mac + cheese, green beans, sweet tea, and peach cobbler. However, the twist is that this mac + cheese is totally vegan! You can find the recipe on my mom and dad’s blog here. The rest of the meal is super simple. I cook the green beans in boiling water for 3-5 minutes, then blanche them in an ice bath to retain the crispy bite. For the cobbler, peel and chop 7-8 peaches, mix with 1/3 cup sugar, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Pour into a cast iron skillet and top with frozen biscuit rounds, then bake at 425 for about 30 minutes, serve with vanilla ice-cream. As for the sweet tea, I’ll be sharing my go-to sun tea recipe later this month!

a little amsterdam food tour

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In the little planning we did for our actual day-to-day schedule while visiting Amsterdam (this was an uncharacteristically spontaneous leg of the trip), one thing I knew we had to do was a little self-guided food tour. There were so many different Dutch foods I wanted to try and while we didn’t end up getting to them all (next time, bitterballen), what we did try was amazing.

1// Stroopwafels
I’ve obviously had my fair share of stroopwafels before in the States. I am, after all, of Dutch heritage and an unrelenting sweet tooth. But, they’ve all be the prepackaged kind which simply don’t compare to the real thing. We went to the iconic Van Wonderen Stroopwafels, located on a cute little corner on Kalverstraat, which did not disappoint.

They have tons of toppings to choose from, but I went with a medium stroopwafel with one side dipped in chocolate and covered in mini marshmallows. Because it was made from scratch right there on the spot, the chocolate on the outside and the caramel on the inside were warm, gooey, and melting which paired so well with the crisp cookie and chewy marshmallows. 😭

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2// Frites + Belgian Mayo -Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx
From London to Amsterdam, the food we definitely ate the most of on this trip was fries. Chips, frites, fritjes, whatever you want to call them! Our next stop after Van Wonderen was the famous Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx right around the corner. It’s just a little walk-up place with a few tables outside. When we first walked by on our way to stroopwafels, the line was super long but by the time we came back, we were able to walk right up.

Along with the frites, they offer a huge menu selection of dipping sauces. We went with classic Belgian mayo, which has a much tangier, less sweet taste than American mayo and is absolutely divine. The frites come in the cutest paper cones, too! Not going to lie, right after I took a photo, some of the mayo dripped down on the sidewalk and we had to sit by and watch as someone walked through it, trailing mayo footprints behind them.

It was quite chilly out the day we had these, but they were so warm and crispy and delicious, it barely mattered that we ate them sitting on a stoop in the shade. If you’re visiting Amsterdam, you definitely have to try the frites here.

3// Fritjes - Dutch Weed Burger Joint
The second place we had frites was on a whim at a place called Dutch Weed Burger Joint. My mom and I had initially planned on eating at Foodhallen but it was super crowded, so we walked over and found my dad at the Dutch Weed Burger Joint where he had been dying to eat. The name isn’t what you think, it actually refers to seaweed. 😅 The frites here were different than any others we had tried. They were super short and stubby, which isn’t my favorite but they were crispy and delicious nonetheless. You really can’t go wrong with fries, can you?

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4// Cheese!
I love cheese, especially gouda so I knew we needed to check out a cheese shop while we were in the Netherlands. We stopped at a random one by the Bloemenmarkt as we were walking by and sampled so many interesting variations. There was even a lavender cheese that was surprisingly good! However, the best one I tried was the one unpasteurized variation they had in the shop. It was beyond. It was creamier than any cheese I’ve ever tried! A fairly cute nearby British backpacker agreed with me, so I think it’s fact now.

5// Apple Cake - Winkel 43
Coming into Amsterdam, we knew we had to try the famous apple cake at Winkel 43. Now, there are many places in the city that have apple cake, but I’ve heard the competition is really between Winkel 43 and Cafe Papeneiland, which we planned on visiting but never ended up making it. We sat outside at Winkel 43 at a shared table with two guys from Canada and a pair of friends who lived in Amsterdam but were originally from Bulgaria and somewhere I can’t remember, oops. We ordered a piece of apple cake to share and I paired it with a huge glass of Earl Grey. It was the perfect treat at the coziest little table of people.

For some reason, I expected apple cake to be on the dry side but it was so moist and just tasted really fresh paired with delicious, rich whipped cream on top. Whenever I eat anything remotely like this, I think of my favorite scene in Inglorious Basterds and have to say, “Ah, ah, wait for the creme.”

three of my favorite fab 4 smoothies

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You may have seen Kelly Leveque’s Fab 4 smoothies on Instagram because it seems like every influencer and celebrity out there is following her dietary guidelines these days! I recently jumped on the Fab 4 train after recently reading Kelly’s book Body Love, which promotes a diet that balances your blood sugar. While I don’t follow her guidelines religiously, I’ve at least adopted the smoothie portion into my daily meal plan and I can attest to the truth of her claim that drinking one of these for breakfast keeps me full past my usual lunch time! Here’s a little article from MindBodyGreen about Kelly’s philosophy.

The official formula is below but Kelly has tons of smoothies that vary on the formula. For instance, there are plenty of options with no fruit or no greens. I wanted to share with you guys three of my favorite smoothies that I’ve tried so far. I’ve been taking recipes straight from her book or website and adapting them if I don’t have every ingredient.

20g Protein + 10g Fiber + 1 tbsp Fat + Handful Greens + 1/4 Cup Fruits + Superfoods + Liquid

mint chip // This one is my favorite smoothie so far. Just blend together chocolate protein powder (protein), chia seeds (protein, fat, superfood), almond milk, ice, and mint leaves. So good and so refreshing!

chocolate coconut // This simple chocolate blend is chocolate protein (protein), coconut water (fat), almond milk, almond butter (fat), hemp hearts (superfood), spinach (greens), and ice cubes.

berry cacao // Surprisingly, the only fruit smoothie on this top three list! This one is a blend of chocolate protein (protein), raspberries (fruit), avocado (fat and greens), chia seeds (superfood), and almond milk.

five of my go-to clean eating salad recipes

As someone who’s been (mostly) vegetarian for well over a decade now (since middle school!), I can’t count the number of times when I’ve been invited to a restaurant with a meat heavy menu only to be told, “But, it’s okay, they have salads!” My fellow vegetarians know how irritating this mostly well meaning statement can be because who wants to spend their money going out to eat only to order a sad salad most likely consisting of iceberg lettuce and sad, mealy tomatoes?

This is especially true when we know that we can just stay home and make our own beautiful, delicious salads from scratch. I would say most days I eat some form of salad for lunch and have begun to master the art of creating good, filling ones. Here are five of my go-to salad recipes that you can make for lunch or dinner.

creamy balsamic garden salad //
This one is really more about the dressing, so you can throw together whatever vegetables you like but I’m partial to dark lettuces as found in spring mix, halved cherry tomatoes, hemp or sesame seeds, cucumbers, and avocado. Top with the dressing which is made by blending together 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1 tbsp honey, then salt and pepper to taste.

butter lettuce with caramelized walnuts + green apples //
This one always makes me feel like i’m eating at a luxury hotel because it’s sort of a clean riff on the traditional Waldorf salad. Start with a base of butter lettuce, then top with diced apples, preferably green and caramelized walnuts. To make the walnuts, heat a pan over medium heat and add the amount of walnuts you want to use, maybe a handful. Drizzle maple syrup to lightly cover the walnuts, then heat and toss until they become candied. I recommend using Organic Girl’s White Cheddar dressing over this. It’s delicious and not nearly as bad as most dressings, which I tend to avoid.

gwyneth paltrow’s green goddess salad //
I’m obsessed with this recipe from Gwyneth’s book “It’s All Good”. It’s a big chopped salad with corn, chopped romaine, black beans, chopped tomatoes, thinly sliced scallions, and diced avocado topped with her insane Green Goddess dressing. To make the dressing, blend together 2/3 cup Greek yogurt or Vegenaise, 1/4 cup cilantro (which I omit because I hate cilantro), 2 chopped scallions, 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice, 1/2 green jalapeño, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1 tablespoon of raw honey.

kale salad with lemon vinaigrette + shaved parmesan //
For a super easy, elegant salad, massage chopped kale with a little bit of olive oil then top with a vinaigrette made from lemon juice, salt, olive oil, and crushed garlic. On top, shave a little bit of fresh parmesan. So, so good!

mediterranean cous-cous salad //
This isn’t the traditional salad as it’s not on a base of lettuce but I still consider it to be a form of salad. It’s inspired by a meal from the Kayla Itsines’ sweat app although hers used quinoa which I’m replacing with cous-cous. Prepare cous-cous according to box directions. Spread a can of drained chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle olive oil then top with dried thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. Add chickpeas to cous-cous, then top with halved cherry tomatoes, hollowed out cucumber, and a little vinaigrette made by combining olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, more thyme, and a tiny bit of honey.