The Best Things We Ate in February 2016
As I write this month’s “Best Things We Ate” post, I’m sitting in sunny Florida soaking up as much sunshine (and as much time with my grandparents) as I can.
It’s an annual tradition to come visit them in Orlando at their timeshare every year, and easily one of my most cherished habits.
We are talking about sitting poolside for a week with refreshing cocktails, seemingly limitless crossword puzzles and lots of love, after all.
Of course, it’s Orlando…and the food can be a bit hit or miss down here. Locally-owned, chef-driven restaurants aren’t exactly plentiful in these parts, so you have to do some digging to find restaurants that go from good to great. Which is why I am so thrilled to kick off this list with the latest gem we discovered on this year’s trip: Cask & Larder.
Herewith, the best things we ate in February 2016:
Citrus Kale Salad at Cask & Larder
I’d heard many times about a restaurant in Winter Park called The Ravenous Pig, and every year, my mom and I said we were going to make the “trek” from our hotel in the Lake Bueno Vista area to eat there. And every year, we stuck to our little five-mile radius…but this year, thanks to a great deal on an early flight, we had some time to kill before we could check in to our room, so we decided to finally go see what all the Winte Park fuss was about. We went to brunch at the Pig’s sister restaurant, Cask & Larder and were both BLOWN AWAY by how delicious and yet relatively healthy it was. This kale salad was our favorite–so many textures and flavors happening, from tangy citrus to savory bacon vinaigrette, sweet and crunchy almond granola and crisp, earthy beets. Keep an eye out–I will definitely be recreating this salad at home and sharing the recipe soon!
Gluten-Free Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
Since I was on Whole30 this year for the Superbowl, I experimented with paleo apps that were compliant with the diet. At first, it was a bummer to think about missing out on queso and fried wings and sliders, but then I struck gold with this gluten-free buffalo chicken meatball recipe and forgot all about those other unhealthy dishes. Admittedly, a little blue cheese goes a long way in this recipe, but if you avoid dairy, the meatballs are still AMAZING without it. An awesome way to get all those classic sports bar flavors and still eat really healthy.
Turkey Chili at St. Regis Deer Valley
If you haven’t gathered already, mine is a family of traditions and many of them include travel. Every February, we head out West and hit the slopes of Deer Valley with Matt’s side of the family for one of the most fun, funny and delicious weeks ever. And without fail, nearly every day, we have lunch at the St. Regis, where Moscow Mules, extra-garlicky mussels and amazing gluten-free tuna burgers and truffle pizza await. This year, the crowd favorite was this incredible slow-braised turkey chili, spiked with lime and cilantro.
Octopus at Bodega on Main
Another favorite from our trip out West? This super flavorful Octopus from a great little tapas spot, called Bodega on Main. The restaurant is tiny, but turns out some really fun small plates, perfect for groups.
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
One of the easiest ways to eat more vegetables is to always have a pot of soup on hand. It makes putting healthy meals on the table a breeze, as batch cooking is the key to a happy kitchen. I even love having soup for breakfast, especially this awesome butternut squash soup made with sweet potatoes, carrots, coconut milk and nourishing bone broth. You can easily adjust this recipe to your mood (Thai coconut, spicy Indian curry, truffle pancetta, etc.) so it’s super adaptable and really quick and easy to make!
Paleo Banana Nut Muffins from Simple Mills
Since I try to avoid eating gluten when I’m at home, it can be tricky to find quick and easy breakfasts that aren’t made with wheat. So I was thrilled when Simple Mills sent me some grain-free muffins to try. I went with the banana flavor–it’s made with just 7 all-natural ingredients that are Paleo compliant (gluten, grain and dairy free)–and added chopped walnuts and cacao nibs. AMAZING! I never would’ve been able to tell they weren’t regular banana muffins, they were moist and flavorful, super easy to make and awesome to grab as a quick morning snack throughout the week. Bravo, Simple Mills. It’s so refreshing to see a company making packaged foods with quality ingredients!
Italian Sub Salad
Eating a mostly gluten-free diet also makes most sandwiches off-limits. Sometimes, I can’t help but miss the days of getting an Italian sub at Publix, loaded with banana peppers, salami and black olives. So when I came across this recipe for Italian Sub Salad, I couldn’t wait to try it! Like the meatballs, you get all of those classic sub flavors without any of the guilt. LOVE!
Salmon Nori Bowls
In the past few years, I’ve become addicted to meals in bowls. This super easy and healthy salmon sushi bowl is full of my favorite sushi flavors (soy, wasabi, seafood, spicy mayo, seaweed + rice), plus it’s gluten-free, bursting with fresh veggies and so delicious. It’s probably the most made recipe in my kitchen–we have some variation of this bowl at least once a week.
Fontina-Stuffed Meatballs at Bellina Alimentari
As part of my job as a full-time food writer, I’ve been to this new restaurant, Bellina Alimentari, inside Atlanta’s Ponce City Market several times over the past month. Admittedly, the food doesn’t fit super well with my low gluten and dairy diet, but when I splurge, there’s nothing better than their fontina-stuffed meatball, bathed in addicting tomato sauce, especially alongside their mushroom ragu with made-from-scratch pasta. So fresh, you can truly taste the difference!
5-Minute Homemade Chimichurri
When I shared this recipe for chimichurri, I noted how I prefer to flavor my food with bold, complex herbs and spices, rather than fat, salt and sugar. It’s so much better for you, especially when you make sauces with fresh greens as the base. In less than 5 minutes, you can make this authentic, antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense chimichurri sauce. It’s one of the easiest ways I know of to add INSANE flavor to any dish, especially grilled meats, seafood and roasted veggies. Be on the lookout for more recipes coming soon using this addicting sauce.
What was the best thing you ate in February?
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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