Welcoming the New Whole Foods

Hey ya’ll! It’s hump day. To be completely honest, it always takes me a few hours of each day to realize what day of the week it is. Oh how I am going to miss break. Luckily I get to ease back into school next week with only one day of class and one day of work. Thank god or I might die from the exhausting schedule that I have. Now I have some big news. A new Whole Foods opened up in Austin today in the Domain. I have been waiting for this thing for two years. It is just like the one downtown with a few different twists. When I extended my trip home, I was so excited that I was going to be home for the opening ceremony.

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For those of you that don’t know, Austin is the headquarters for Whole Foods and it is where the company originated. I feel like that is one of our cities claims to fame. I’m proud of it too because I am all about my healthy living and nutrition agenda. Austinites love keeping Austin weird by supporting local businesses. Whole Foods is something that most Austinites can’t live without (on the list are Longhorn football, yoga, Torchy’s Tacos, etc). This is why this place was a freaking zoo. My brother and I had to park in a parking garage so far away because every spot was taken and the dirt lot was full. This was insane.

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One of the cool things that Whole Foods did was that if you were one of the first 500 people at the opening then you would get a free Austin bag with goodies. I’m Jewish. Obviously I woke up at 7 am just so I could get a bag filled with free things. It wasn’t that bad actually. I ended up being 447, barely made it! I was so glad I got it though because it was a really good deal. I love reusable shopping bags not only because I hate dealing with plastic bags, but also because they can be used for so many other things like carrying my laundry to the laundromat or returning items to clothing stores. The bag also came with a nice sized freezer bag. That can be used for chilled bottles of wine or icecream, but maybe both for Galentine’s day that is February 13th (for the reference PLEASE watch Parks and Rec)! While we were waiting in line, staff from Whole Foods came around giving out stress balls in the shape of fruits and vegetables. I got myself a carrot. These were super cute and I was like I could totally do something like this for my future dietitian practice!

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Hello to you dark chocolate peanut butter cup. I love you too. This was just one of the many delicious treats that was in the bag. I love Justin’s more than anything. Seriously one of the best companies for organic peanut butter treats. One of my favorite things of theirs is the 80 calorie squeeze packs. I discovered them at a Whole Foods in NYC and I died. Other things in the bag include Lucy’s Gluten Free Cookies, black bean chips, tons of different types of tea, a bottle of soul water, omegabar, chocolate chip cookies, and so much more. It was a nice thing to do for the loyal customers in my opinion. Plus I now have more shopping bags, so win win!

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One of the best parts about a grand opening is all of the samples. Once again, the free things. I swear it is just something in my genetics that calls to me when I see the word free. The samples at Whole Foods were on point today. This was a piece of salmon that was grilled outside and seasoned with some spicy cajun spices. Amen. There was also an amazing piece of flank steak outside on the grill. It was incredibly tender and juicy. Other sample highlights include ramen broth, lobster tail meat, a shucked oyster, and tons of fresh fruit. I felt like I was in foodie heaven.

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Oh yeah, you heard right. I said a ramen sample because guess what? Our new Whole Foods has a ramen bar. Now that is what I am talking about. I ended up sampling the pork ramen broth, which was simple yet delicious. I will definitely have to come back next time I’m in town when the heat dies down, so I can get a huge bowl of ramen. The line was ridiculous. I hate crowds also, so that was a huge problem for me. People were walking so slow in the store that it was impossible to move around. I had to bust out my New Yorker moves a couple of times in order to get around.

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Wait, you don’t have a restaurant in the middle of your Whole Foods? Well we do. There was the cutest open building in the middle of the new store. It was a draft and oyster house. Beer and oysters. I could particularly do without the beer since I don’t drink a lot, but I would definitely line up for the oysters. They are really good. We got free samples of the oysters, so I can definitely vouch for this place. Also the fact that the inside was extremely crowded vouches for it too. I would definitely love to be able to sit down next time and enjoy an entire plate of oysters instead of just a sample. The ambiance was really cute too because it reminded me of a country porch. A place to kick back with a beer and some oysters.

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Speaking of oysters, this Whole Foods actually has a serving station where you can just make yourself a box of oysters to go and shuck yourself. I don’t really like the idea of shucking oysters myself, but I like that they have this option available for the real seafood foodies out there. There were so many different types of oysters to choose from, which was also really nice to have access to. That way in case you don’t like a specific type of oyster, you aren’t stuck to just having that. The Whole Foods really went all out on the seafood part.

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When it comes to Whole Foods, you definitely can’t forget to mention the desserts. You can’t live without a huge cookie cart that has three levels of different types of cookies on all four sides. My brother dug into this station and got a ton of cookies. I ended up sampling a pistachio shortbread, which was to die for. All you could taste was the tasty pistachio flavor, which was great because I hate when things say they are some flavor and there is only a small hint of that flavor. This cookie was great.

So lets get to the things that I didn’t like about the Whole Foods. For one the dessert section was very tiny compared to the downtown one on South Lamar. Also since the dessert section is small, there is no chocolate fountain. That means no caramel apples, which my mom loves. I think that there is a smaller amount of actual products to buy in comparison to the other massive location too. However I definitely won’t complain because I’m very happy that there is a massive Whole Foods near my mom’s house now. It is very convenient to us. I will definitely come here every once and a while when I’m in town.

Have you ever been to the Whole Foods in Austin?
What is your favorite thing(s) to get at Whole Foods?

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The Secret Menu at Torchy’s Tacos

Since I’ve been home in Austin for the break, I’ve been trying to hit up all of my local favorites. That includes Torchy’s Tacos, which is one of the best places in the world. No joke. I’ve been there at least twice since I’ve been back and I plan on going there on my way to the airport when I leave. These tacos are amazing. They are creative, fresh, and very unique. Recently it has come out that there is a secret menu at Torchy’s just like there is at many other establishments such as Starbucks and Jamba Juice. I decided to branch out and test out this “secret menu”.

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Say hello to The Hipster. What a cute name. I love that about Torchy’s. They have creative names for each taco on the menu. I’m not sure why this is particularly the Hipster, but I do know one thing. This taco is amazing. The taco is panko-breaded fried tuna topped with bacon, green chiles, black beans, corn, cilantro, and cojita cheese. You can either get it on a flour or corn tortilla. The sauce served on the side is an avocado sauce. Oh how wonderful that all sounds.

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I mean just look at this delicious taco. The panko bread crumbs on the tuna are crispy, but not too bready. I like that they use panko instead of breadcrumbs because it is a healthier and tastier option in my opinion. The tuna was fresh and cooked to a medium rare. The avocado sauce was creamy and cool, which calmed down the hotness from the fried fish. All of the toppings went well with it too, which was kind of surprising because I don’t really think of corn and black beans when I think of a fried tuna taco. I would definitely get this again.

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This bad boy is the Trailer Park Hillbilly Style. It is your typical trailer park with a twist. It comes with a fried chicken tender topped with shredded cheese and queso, green chiles, and ranch. The twist is that it has chorizo and bacon on top of it. Really you can’t go wrong with a good piece of fried chicken. I think there is a trend here with my tacos: green chiles and fried things. I loved this taco. The chorizo gave the taco a little more spice and kick to it. Plus I just love cheese, so this taco in general is one of my favorites without the Hillbilly style.

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Hello to the holy grail of tacos. This one actually might be my favorite so far on the secret menu. It is the ace of spades. GET THIS IMMEDIATELY. You will not regret my reference to get this taco. I’m drooling just looking at it. It has jalapeno sausage links, grilled brisket, a fried egg, green chile queso, cojita cheese, sour cream, and if you want diablo sauce. Diablo sauce is too spicy for me to handle, so I opt for it to not be on the taco. I get this one on a flour tortilla. Oh how amazing this taco is. I don’t think I can even describe it. Just stare at the picture for a good few minutes and you will understand the greatness of this taco. It is a little messy from all the queso, so have tons of napkins around.

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The key to the secret menu is to know what you want before you go to Torchy’s. If you do not say what you want correctly they will pretend like they do not know what you are talking about. I still have a few more things I would like to try on the secret menu, so I will definitely keep ya’ll posted. If you are ever in Austin, COME HERE. It is an Austin staple.

What would you like on your taco?
Have you ever tried a secret menu item at a store?

 

WIAW the Art of the Party

Hey ya’ll! We are halfway through the week. Exciting. Today is the first day I woke up and was not sore. Success. I’m on my 4th day of Insanity and 2nd day of Hip Hop Abs. Shaun T does both of these workouts and it is quite funny to see the difference between him in both of them. In Hip Hop Abs he is super cheesy and hilarious while in Insanity he is super intense and motivating. I gotta love those workout videos. I think I like them because I can do them on my time and get an intense workout. I really hate the whole idea of driving to the gym, etc etc. Anyways today is my favorite day of the week, What I ate Wednesday. Thanks Jenn for hosting such a fantastic day every single week! Today mine has a special theme, ART. I love art and Austin is surrounded by art as you will see throughout my post.

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In Austin there is this really cool place called Hope Garden (although the name may have been changed) where graffiti artists can come and express themselves on the walls of this place. There is this huge castle behind all the walls too, so I think the name may have something to do with a castle. This was one of my favorite pieces at the place. I took my best friend when she was in town from Boston and it was cool seeing so much artwork in one space. I love graffiti to be honest. I really don’t think it should be illegal if it is like this or Banksy style.

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For breakfast I had chocolate blueberry flourless pancakes. These were delicious. I made a blueberry compote for the topping. Such a good idea. I will definitely be sharing this recipe with you tomorrow. I ended up making two servings of it. That was probably because I used egg whites this time instead of just a regular egg. I probably would have had even more if I used a 1/4 c to scoop out the batter, but last minute I was like why not use a 1/3 cup. I made 8 pancakes total. I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow!

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Healthy snack alert! I made kale chips. I am obsessed with kale chips. Usually my roommate makes them and they are so crispy and delicious, so I thought why not create my own. I think I put too much kale on one pan, but they still came out crispy. I topped mine with nutritional yeast, Parmesan, and olive oil. Such a winning combination. Kale is really good for you, so I definitely recommend making these or making a salad of kale in order to get a large amount of nutrients.

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I was walking town lake in Austin when I saw this one. We were just about to go across a bridge to walk the other side of the lake when I noticed this. I love shoes, so obviously I had to snap a picture of this. I love that small little things like this are just hidden all around the city waiting for someone to discover it. I think it just makes us more unique. Keeping Austin weird.

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You know I had to throw a salad into the mix. This one has spinach leaves, veggie patch falafel, and slices of mushrooms that I stole from my brother. He wasn’t using them anymore, so I thought why not throw them in my salad. These falafel balls are amazing. They are from the same company that made the meatballs I used in my meatball sub recipe, so you should definitely check out all the products they have to offer. I swear vegetarians get the best frozen food products. Noms.

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My favorite banana truck has been open for a little while now for the new season, so I obviously had to go get me one of these bad boys. I just got a plain one. It had dark chocolate and was rolled in sprinkles. I follow them on instagram and they have specials occasionally, which I’ve been really wanting. One of them was called an Almond Joy. It had chocolate, caramel, coconut, and chopped almonds. It looked like a banana heaven on a stick. I can’t wait to check out what this week’s special is.

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This is what I am probably obsessed with most in life. Cauliflower crust pizza. Ever since I made it for the blog, I have been eating it non-stop. This has honey bbq sauce, sliced ham, pineapple, and low moisture mozzarella. It is so good. I think I cooked the crust perfectly this time. It was crisp and browned just the way it should be. The honey bbq may be the best sauce to put on the pizza. It is sweet yet tangy. It goes well with the citrus flavor of the pineapple and the saltiness of the sliced ham. This recipe is my best friend.

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This is an iconic graffiti in Austin besides the I love you sign. It says never give up and has pacman next to it. This is on town lake too. I think it is super cute and motivational especially for the runners and bikers that always go past it on the trail.

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Since summer is upon us, my mom and I decided to get some fresh fish. Halibut is our favorite and it was on sale at Central Market, so we were like why not? We also ended up buying a spicy soy glaze for the fish. It wasn’t spicy at all and had just the right amount of flavor. The halibut was meaty and cooked perfectly. The meat just flaked off as you dug your fork into it. I made a side of green beans for it. Yep, canned green beans. Can’t live without them.

I hope you all have a fantastic WIAW!

What do you think of graffiti? Is there a lot around you?
What is your favorite kind of art?

A Birthday Dinner

Hey ya’ll! I hope everyone had an awesome weekend. My Sunday was pretty great. I had volleyball practice with my girls, which was super fun, and then we went to help raise money for the maccabi organization at a wing bar in Austin. Only a few of the girls went after practice, but it was fun to spend time outside volleyball with them. Anyways for today I have a restaurant review of a trendy place in Austin known as Paggi House. We ended up going for my grandfather’s birthday this year, and in years past. My uncle deals wine to the restaurant, so it is always extremely great service when we go.

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This looks interesting. It was cast iron wild mushrooms topped with panko crusted cheese and garden fresh herbs. The cheese melted in your mouth and provided a nice crunch from the panko breading. It went along great with the mushrooms. The mushrooms were perfectly cooked and sauteed in the cast iron pan. I wish we would have had more of this dish because it was that delicious. I really enjoyed the appetizers throughout the night. The mushrooms tasted like butter and when paired with the cheese it was like tasty explosions in your mouth.

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Sorry about the dark images, the restaurant was dark and only lit with candles at our table and the light from outside. This was a sweet potato soup topped panko crusted chevre, red curry and fennel. Paggi house must really love fried cheese balls. Not that I’m complaining because they are the most amazing thing to ever exist. Cheese is definitely one of the greatest foods in the world, so a fried ball of it is great. This soup was creamy and rich. The sweet potato flavor was not overwhelming, and the cheese melted in the soup so it made it sweeter and creamier. The herbs provided a certain flavor to the dish, which was very enjoyable.

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If my entree wasn’t so mind blowing, I would say this was the best dish of the night. It was the special small plate of the evening. It was pork belly topped with apples, foam, and a sweet aoili sauce. It was the amazing. The pork belly was so tender and packed with a ton of flavor. While the apples provided a nice crunch to the soft meat. The sauce was creamy and rich, which just added to the variety of flavors that was packed into this small plate. We ended up ordering three of these for the table, and I totally kept snatching bites of it.

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This picture is the worst, but the dish was so delicious. It was grilled tuna tataki. It had pickled ginger, avocado, basil, and orange gastrique. The tuna was extremely fresh. It was a light appetizer that provided a ton of flavor in such as small dish. My grandma loves raw tuna appetizers, so we of course ordered two of these. In my opinion, I’ve had better tuna tataki. However if you don’t consume a lot of raw tuna then you will probably think this dish is amazing.

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Hello to the star of the night. This may have been one of the best pieces of fish I have ever had. This was the special of the night. It was gulf red snapper with crab meat and avocado. The fish was extremely fresh. The crab meat was such a great addition to the dish. I can’t remember the sauce on it, but it was extremely light and had a hint of lemon in it. The meat just flaked off the snapper with every single bite.

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It was perfectly pan-fried. The fish was crispy in just the right amount. This may have been the best dinner I have had at Paggi House. We have been there three times for my grandpa’s birthday, but this definitely was the shining moment of the restaurant. In my opinion, they should make this special a regular on the menu since it is so delicious. I think that it would sell a lot. My mom and I both ordered the dish, so obviously it will be popular. Who doesn’t like crab meat on top of a perfectly cooked fish? A sick person that is who.

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For dessert, they had made an Italian cream cake. I am definitely not a fan of this cake. It tasted more like a weird version of banana bread. I’m a simple girl when it comes to birthday cake. I like buttercream icing and white cake. To be honest, someone could just buy me a container of delicious buttercream icing and I would just eat that with a candle in it. I love it that much.

 

I hope you have a fantastic Monday!
What is your favorite type of birthday cake?
Where do you like to go eat on your birthday?

Marvelous In My Monday (MIMM 1)

Hey ya’ll! I thought I would take a break from recapping my Boston trip and share with ya’ll some of the highlights from this past weekend. I know ya’ll are probably excited since all I’ve been talking about for the last few posts is Boston. I can’t help it that I went to college there and I love it.

I’ve decided to hop on the bandwagon and join the fun weekly party hosted by the healthy diva herself, Katie. Reading everyone’s Monday posts always makes me jealous that I don’t participate in Marvelous in My Monday, so finally here I am.

On Friday, I headed over to my younger brother’s new house to check out where he was living this semester and to take him to the UT volleyball game. I discovered that he lives down the street from a cupcakery called Polkadots. Of course I forced him to go over there to try it out with me.

We ordered the Lemon Blueberry and the Dulce De Leche cupcakes. I was sad because I really wanted their flavor of the month, which was a blueberry cheesecake flavor. The Dulce was very delicious and had a surprise of chocolate in the middle, while the lemon blueberry could have used more lemon zest I thought it was pretty good.

After we had half of the cupcakes, we headed over to Gregory Gym to cheer on the no 2 in the nation UT volleyball team. This game wasn’t super exciting because UT was obviously way superior to the team they were playing, but it was still a lot of fun to check out the new recruits (WHO ARE AMAZING). I love good volleyball.

After the game, we headed over to Titayas. It is our favorite Thai place in Austin and we met up with one of my brother’s friends who is freaking hilarious and awesome. I decided on the Vermicelli Lover’s entree with tofu. It was pretty delicious for a thai style vermicelli, but I will be sticking to my Vietnamese vermicelli from now on.

My brother and his friend both ordered the yellow curry, which is what I should have gotten because it is my favorite dish ever at Titayas. I like to branch out though, and I’m glad that I did. It was a good meal with some great company. Especially because my brother’s friend forgot her keys in the waiting area and some old man randomly showed up with them.

The next morning I took two of my volleyball players to the UT volleyball game. It was a tournament this past weekend, so there were three matches in total that UT played in. This match was against Cal Poly, and we destroyed them.

After I took one of the girls home, I made the other one stop for frozen yogurt at this place called Froyoyo. First off, it was impossible to find because my googlemaps kept lying to me on my iPhone. Once I found it I was happy. They have 8 calorie frozen yogurt per oz. So a half a cup of froyo is only 32 calories. HEAVEN. I ended up getting strawberry cheesecake and chocolate. It was delicious. Plus this place had gluten free cookie dough and brownie bits, so I gave myself some great toppings.

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! I know I did.

Do you watch a NCAA sport?
What is your favorite college sports team to watch?