It’s no secret that one of my favorite things about Charlotte is the food. Come to think of it, my favorite thing about exploring any new city is the food! Even though I’ve lived in Charlotte for over a year now, there are still tons of awesome bakeries, restaurants, bars, and even food trucks that I’ve yet to try. I keep a running list on my phone of all the places I’d like to visit, and it came in handy recently!

Soul Gastrolounge Charlotte

 A few weeks ago I was instructed to pick any restaurant I wanted for a little dinner date, so after consulting my handy phone list and checking reviews on Yelp, I eagerly decided on Soul Gastrolounge in Plaza Midwood. The evening began with a couple of Soul’s handcrafted cocktails while waiting for a table.

Soul Gastrolounge Charlotte

Once we were seated we mapped out our plan of attack. Soul is a tappas-style restaurant, meaning that they serve a variety of small plates and appetizers. Our server recommended splitting 5 or 6 plates, so that’s what we did! First up was the white bean and goat cheese dip with toasted pita chips. I know goat cheese is a love it or hate it thing, but we were both lovers, so this dip got two thumbs up.

Soul Gastrolounge Charlotte

All of the food comes out to your table whenever it’s ready, so we had a steady stream showing up the entire time. Right as we were finishing up the goat cheese and white bean dip, the spanakopita arrived. It was my first time trying the spinach and feta phyllo pies, but those are 3 of my favorite foods, so it was right up my alley. Super flavorful!

Soul Gastrolounge Charlotte

You’re probably looking at this picture thinking, “What the heck is that?!” When I was reading Yelp reviews, everyone raved about Soul’s pork belly tacos. Our server told us that they were his favorite thing on the menu, so ordering these tacos was a no brainer. A small flour tortilla held asian glazed pork belly and watermelon “salsa.” Yes, basically 6 big cubes in one tortilla, kind of strange, but let me tell you… this was incredible. It was so flavorful and unique and we were both sad when they were gone!

Soul Gastrolounge Charlotte

Next up: sushi! The picture is terrible, but this was probably my favorite course of the whole meal. We shared with Sushi Fondu roll which had spicy tuna, avocado, mani stick & capelin roe, creamy aioli sauce, & crispy tempura flakes. O.M.G. I have been dreaming about this roll ever since.

Soul Gastrolounge Charlotte

By this point in the post I can almost guarantee you my mother is thinking, “How are you possibly my child?” I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t touch any of these foods with a 9-foot pole, but she’ll let us know for sure in the comments. :) The last savory dish of the evening was the ramen noodle bowl with veal and goat cheese fried mushrooms. I thought it was good, but lacking a little bit of flavor.

Soul Gastrolounge Charlotte

We rounded out the meal with the cupcake of the day – a banana, caramel, and chocolate chip brioche bread pudding with a chocolate milk whipped cream. The whipped cream wasn’t anything to get excited over, but the brioche bread pudding was very good! By now you’re probably thinking two things. 1. “That is a ton of food,” and 2. “So much for Whole30.” To that I would say, “you’re right, I was stuffed,” and “all things in moderation.”

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Hi, friends! A few of you noted that you’d like to see fewer subscription box reviews (like this one) on the blog, so in the future, I hope to do a better job of spacing them out and sandwiching them between some more substantial content. I always enjoy seeing what others get in their  boxes, and my number one traffic driver right now is people searching for Stitch Fix reviews, so I hope you won’t mind if you continue to see these posts pop up every now and then!

MarchStitchFixReview

My March Stitch Fix box was a good one! I had a new stylist this month and I felt like she did a great job of picking items for me. I asked for pieces that would transition into spring well, and Stitch Fix didn’t disappoint. I apologize for the less than stellar picture quality here — these were all taken late at night, after the gym, on my cell phone, and sent to friends to help me pick what to keep. Here’s what I got:

unnamed1. Louise Crochet Detail Hooded Jacket from Mystree

I liked this jacket a lot and wanted to keep it, but wasn’t really sure if, when, or where I would wear it. It’s casual, but the lace (also lining the hood) made it too dressy to wear with gym clothes. It felt a little college-y and the sleeves were too short, so in the send, it got sent back.

2. Rochelle Braided Beaded Collar Necklace from Zad

Eh. Cute enough but I didn’t love it. Sent it back.

3. Denna Colored Skinny Jean from Kut From The Kloth

These skinny jeans were a fun color but they were too big. Also, warmer weather is right around the corner and I didn’t think I would get too much use out of them any time soon. Sent them back.

unnamed-14. Waters Diamond Print Maxi Dress from Papermoon

Love at first sight! This maxi dress is soft, flattering, and I think the pattern is really fun! When I asked which items to keep on Instagram, this dress won by a landslide. I can’t wait to wear it this spring and summer with sandals and a statement necklace. Kept it!

5. Aleah Heathered V-Neck Dolman Top from Pomelo

This slouchy top is right up my alley. It’s super comfy and I don’t have anything else that color in my closet. I kept it and have already worn it 3 times!

In the name of full transparency, I wanted to let you guys know that I’ve been flying on credit with Stitch Fix since my first box. That’s right, I’ve gotten maybe 8 boxes now (I lost count) and I only paid for the items in my first box. Stitch Fix gives you $25 of credit for everyone you refer, which is a really nice perk. If you want to sign up for Stitch Fix, you can do so here, and if you refer a friend, you’ll get $25 of credit added to your account!

I like the service a lot, and am always excited when a new box is on its way. I just wanted to be honest in letting you guys know that for right now, I’m enjoying Stitch Fix for free. I think I’ll probably use up my remaining credit after the next box or two, and I’m still undecided if I’ll continue the service at that point. We’ll see!

What are your favorite items from this box? What would you keep?

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prepackagedwhole30foods

It’s hard to believe that a month has passed since wrapping up the Whole30 Challenge! Figuring out how to eat long term is proving to be a bit of a challenge. I’ve been eating almost exclusively Paleo during the week, but I’ve gone off the rails over the weekend thanks to a delicious pizza spot in my neighborhood and a new shop that sells cupcake-sized bundt cakes! I’ve felt pretty “blah” after eating that kind of junk food, which has encouraged me to stick with a clean eating lifestyle. Real food is the way to go! Anyway, today I wanted to share a few prepackaged foods that helped make Whole30 totally doable for me. I still eat the majority of these foods on an almost daily basis and don’t plan on going back to their less healthy counterparts anytime soon.

1. Trader Joe’s Double Roasted Salsa

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How do I love this salsa? Let me count the ways! This salsa is great on eggs, chicken lettuce wraps, and for veggie dipping. I use it in place of salad dressing every single day.

Ingredients: Tomatoes, water, double roasted anaheim peppers, onions, cilantro, cider vinegar, jalepenos, lime juice, sea salt, garlic, cumin, black pepper.

2. Trader Joe’s Creamy Almond ButterDSC_0016

Let me just start by confessing that I used to be a JIF girl all the way. Because peanuts are legumes, peanut butter is off limits during the Whole30 challenge. So, almond butter it is! I was skeptical at first, but this creamy salted almond butter from Trader Joe’s is amazing. I pack an apple and almond butter for my afternoon snack almost every day, but it’s also great on a banana, sweet potatoes, or just by the spoonful. :)

Ingredients: Almonds, sea salt.

3 – 4. Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil and GheeDSC_0017

If you’ve never cooked with clarified butter (ghee) or coconut oil before, you might be a little bit intimidated, but you shouldn’t be! Use it just like butter or olive oil for cooking, sautéing, and baking. Clarified butter is simply butter without the milk solids. It doesn’t burn like butter does and is really flavorful! I hear that it’s not too difficult to make your own, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Trader Joe’s carries it. Trader Joe’s also has the best price on coconut oil in town.

Ingredients: Unsalted butter

Ingredients: Organic virgin coconut oil

5. Red Jacket JuicesDSC_0010

The Whole30 guidelines say that you shouldn’t drink fruit juice straight up, but instead use it in small amounts as a natural sweetener. They also suggest that you not drink smoothies, but I fill my smoothies up with kale and spinach and drink one  pretty much every morning. These juices are the perfect liquid (in addition to coconut milk) for green smoothies. They’re cold pressed and contain only fruit. I buy them at Whole Foods and one small bottle lasts for about 3 smoothies.

Ingredients: Apples, Strawberries, Vitamin C

6. Trader Joe’s Cubed Butternut SquashDSC_0019

Call me crazy, but I had never tried butternut squash before Whole30! A big thank you to Trader Joe’s for selling these bags of cubed squash. I roast a bag each week with coconut oil, cinnamon, and sea salt.

Ingredients: Butternut squash

7. Trader Joe’s Frozen Mashed Sweet PotatoesDSC_0021

My roommate gives me a hard time for buying these pre-mashed sweet potatoes because she says it would be just as easy to put a sweet potato in the microwave and mash it yourself. Wrong. These are frozen in little cubes so all you have to do is pop five cubes in a bowl and stick it in the microwave for 2 minutes. The texture is better than what I could make on my own, and it’s so easy. I like to add ghee and cinnamon for a sweet side dish. I’m very distraught to tell you that this is a seasonal item at Trader Joe’s and they just did away with them for the spring.

Ingredients: Sweet potatoes

8. Good Foods Tableside Chunky GuacamoleDSC_0009

Shout out to my friend Sarah who took me to Costco with her before Whole30 started! I stocked up on these single serving packs of guacamole and they lasted me all month long. Great for dipping veggies in or adding to a salad. Wholly Guacamole brand is Whole30 compliant as well and also comes in single serve packs.

Ingredients: Hass avocados, tomatoes, red onions, onions, cilantro, lime juice, jalapenos, sea salt, garlic.

9 – 10. Larabars and YAWP! BarsDSC_0013

If you’ve been reading this blog for long you know I’m a huge fan of Larabars. My very favorite flavor is chocolate chip cookie dough which was unfortunately off limits during Whole30. This ended up working to my advantage because it led me to find other flavors that I enjoy just as much. My new favorite (chocolate free) flavor is blueberry muffin. One Sunday afternoon while wandering around Whole Foods I stumbled upon a sample display for YAWP! Bars. I figured that I wouldn’t be able to eat them but was pleasantly surprised to find that the whole ingredient list was compliant. They remind me of Nature Valley bars!

Ingredients: Dates, cashews, unsweetened blueberries, lemon juice, vanilla extract

Ingredients: Almonds, dates, pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds (all organic)

What are your favorite healthy packaged foods? What do you reach for when you’re on the run?

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