It’s What’s For Dinner

Things are, surprisingly, still going pretty well workout-wise. Yesterday was a little bit rough for me, as I had a hard time falling asleep, and that grogginess wasn’t exactly motivating in terms of being active, but! You should be proud of me, because I did it anyway. See? That new leaf of mine is already halfway turned over.

As previously discussed, though, health, fitness, and especially weight loss is a two-part operation. And the what-you-eat part is, at this point, inarguably the more important part when it comes to actively trying to slim down. So I’ve been trying to be very mindful of what I’m eating, choosing deliciousness and whole foods as much as I can.

Even though my job brings me to the farthest and most delicious regions of Northern Virginia, you guys know I love to get down in the kitchen too. And even though I have no intention of stopping eating out altogether, we all know it’s easier to keep track of what you’re chowing down on when you make it yourself. So I’ve been cooking up some delicious at-home healthy meals & snacks lately, and I figured I’d share ’em with you!

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Clockwise from top left: jambalaya with sausage & chicken, roasted brussels sprouts, and salad; my beef stew with dried plums over rice; homemade Chipotle night; plain popcorn seasoned with Flavorgod pizza seasoning

Brown sugar & soy marinated salmon, snap peas sautèed in coconut oil, and coconut rice.

All of the above noms were delicious, but the real star of this week’s meals was this salmon dinner. Super easy, super flavorful, super delicious, and nutritious — even the rice got a nutritional facelift by adding some healthy fats in the form of coconut milk!

Brown sugar & soy is my absolute favorite way to marinate salmon, and while I don’t have a super precise recipe figured out (I’m a big fan of wingin’ it in the kitchen), I thought some of you might be interested in recreating this plate of raving deliciousness at home!

Brown Sugar & Soy Salmon


2 boneless skinless salmon filets
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
~1/4 cup water (enough to make the marinade cover the salmon)

1. Combine the soy sauce, water, and brown sugar, and whisk until sugar is as dissolved as possible. Place salmon filets in the marinade and let sit for at least 15 minutes. Place in refrigerator if marinating for longer.

2. Heat a pan to medium-high heat with a bit of oil/nonstick spray and cook the filet for about 3 minutes on the first side and another 2 on the other (or slightly longer, depending on thickness). Enjoy!

Stir-fried Snap Peas


1 package sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce

1. Heat oil in a pan to medium-high heat.

2. Cook snap peas, moving constantly in the pan. Add soy sauce, and continue stir-frying for another 5-7 minutes, or until desired doneness.

Coconut Rice


1.5 cups white rice
1 can coconut milk
1.5 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
Pinch of salt

1. Combine ingredients in a rice cooker. Or, you know, if you make your rice on the stove, combine in a pot and do it that way, haha.
2. Cook. Eat. Enjoy!

And there you go! The ratios probably aren’t exact, but put all these ingredients together and you’re bound to come up with something delicious!

Any tantalizing recipes you’ve been whipping up lately? I’d love to hear about ’em!

The Sweet Life

What’s the deal with the trend of putting the word “sweet” into all of my favorite restaurants? From Thai food to froyo, evidently being “sweet” is all the rage. And last night I met up with Reema to try out a new-to-me one!


Welcome to Sweetleaf, a locally-owned fast-casual place that focuses on fresh salads, sandwiches, and a few other treats. They have two locations right now, one in McLean (the original) and one in Vienna (brand new!) It reminded me a lot of my beloved Sweetgreen, just with a more expansive menu and more of a cafe-like feel, as Sweetleaf (oy, that’s gonna get confusing) offers coffee, smoothies, baked goods, ice cream, AND froyo.


Reema and I faced a slight debacle where we each ended up at a different location, her in Vienna, me in Mclean (typical us.) Luckily they weren’t that far apart from each other! While I waited for her to join me, I killed time by taking a few pictures of the decor and ambiance, which I found very charming.


They had a hot sauce bar I have only dreamt of…


Unfortunately, the employees of this particular Sweetleaf apparently were not charmed by Gretchen the Photographer, and after just a few clicks told me that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures. I was admittedly a little taken aback by being, well, scolded. I’d heard of food bloggers being told they weren’t allowed to take pictures in restaurants, but it usually happens in swanky, romantic, dimly-lit hot spots where the celebrity chef is worried that it’ll ruin the atmosphere, not small local cafes!

Shamefaced, I immediately took to Twitter to vent just a li’l…

And within minutes, maybe even seconds, I had a response from Sweetleaf management! Talk about your customer service.

I called him after Reema and I parted ways, and he was very apologetic, which I appreciated. I’m definitely not the kind of person who wants to cause a ruckus or make a big stink about anything, so I felt kind of bad about calling, but it was probably a good thing in the end. He explained that they’ve had issues with people taking photos in the past (oh, we nefarious photogs!), but was upset on my behalf that I felt uncomfortable. He offered to send me a giftcard so that I could come back to Sweetleaf and try the whole experience again.


Despite any lingering atmospheric drama, the sandwich I ordered was tasty (clearly my listening skills aren’t so good, since I took a picture of my sandwich after I was told to stop anyway, hahaha.) I got one of their daily specials, The Scottish, which was essentially lox on bread (toasted wheat bread, cream cheese, red onion, and capers) and thus kinda perfect for me, haha.

My only gripe about the food experience is that when I asked if I could have lettuce & tomato on my sandwich, I was told it’d be 50 cents extra… for each item! I can appreciate trying to make a buck as much as anybody, but if you tell me that a single leaf of lettuce costs 50 cents I will laugh in your face.

Which I did.

So she gave me the lettuce anyway. 😀

Because you know I’m a sucker for local establishments in general, especially those that serve fresh salads AND cupcakes (teehee) I’ll definitely be giving them another shot. Besides, I didn’t even get to order dessert this time around! If you’re local, you should give them a try, but I’d suggest maybe paying a visit to the new Vienna location since it seems like most of their energy is being focused there right now (though they need to update their website, as the only address on it is still for the McLean one… hence the aforementioned location debacle, haha.)

Have you ever been told you can’t take pictures in a restaurant? Since I hardly ever use the flash on my camera anymore, I’m usually not deterred by the thought of being annoying to anyone other than my own party (and by now they should be used to it anyway! Haha.) I’d be interested to hear about your own in-restaurant camera policy, and whether you’ve ever experienced the same!

Daily Eats – 9/6/11



Whole wheat toast (100 cal) with 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter (45 cal) and a teaspoon of jam (10 cal)


Applesauce – HLS swag (100 cal)


Oatmeal Squares – more HLS swag, hehe (200 cal)



The most epic black bean burger fail ever, turned black bean hash. Still delicious though! (~250 cal)


Hebrew National fat-free hot dog (40 cal), on a potato roll (130 cal) with organic ketchup and mustard (10 cal). What? I had a craving!

Harry and Daxter didn’t judge. They wanted in on it. 😀

A few sips of Kombucha. Gotta ration! (~10 cal)



Sandwich on whole wheat bread with smoked salmon, cream cheese, onions, capers, and lettuce. Plus a few bites of Reema’s salad, hehe. (~400 – 500 cal)


Peanut Butter Heaven.

1/2 a tablespoon of pure ecstasy (45 cal)


1/4 cup of coconutmilk beverage (half of what is pictured. 20 cal.) I’m still on the fence about this… I didn’t really enjoy drinking it on its own, but that just may be because I was expecting something a little different. Wahhh! I want to love it!

Total: ~1,460 calories. Right on target! Wheeee!