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Thanks so many to everyone who entered the giveaway and to Oldways for making me a an ambassador for Whole Grain Sampling Day! I think next year we should have a  Whole Grain Sampling Week! The winner of the giveaway is comment 25, Bill. Bill, please email me at traveleatlove  @ gmail dot com with your contact details so I can have your whole grain box shipped!

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With so many people giving up carbs (again) these days, I think it’s really important to remember the benefits that carbs like whole grains can offer in our diets. Did you know that eating an average of 2.5 servings of whole grain foods each day can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by almost one quarter? Or that three servings of whole grains a day can cut blood pressure, reducing risk of stroke by 15-20%? Whole grains are versatile and filling, and they are everywhere!

I am once again partnering up with Oldways and the Whole Grains Council to celebrate Whole Grain Sampling Day which is on April 2. I am working on a delicious, veggie and spice packed whole grain recipe for the day, but in the meantime, Oldways is giving me an amazing whole grains sampler to give away. We received ours a few weeks ago, and it is so full of delicious whole grains products like bread, rice, pasta, and chips, that it is taking us quite a while to go through it. Below I have included a list of all of the companies participating, as well as a few whole grain recipes from old blog posts. I haven’t had a chance to try all of the whole grain products yet, but I am loving the snacks the best. I am a snacky person, so having something that is delicious and better for me in my desk drawer is really key. The Home Free gluten-free chocolate chip cookies? To die for.

In order to enter your own box of whole grain goodness, please leave a comment letting me know how you get whole grains into your diet. For an extra entry, tweet “I want to win a whole grain sample box from @oldwayspt and @traveleatlovemm #SampleWholeGrains”

I will choose a winner on April 2, so we sure to enter soon!

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The whole grain sampler includes:

Among Friends – Jam Bar Baking Mix

Attune Foods – Buckwheat and Hemp Cereal

Barbara’s Bakery – Snackanimals Cereal

Bob’s Red Mill - Gluten Free Honey and Oat Granola

Carl Brandt - Mestemacher Rye and Multigrain Bread (perfect for smoked salmon!)

ConAgra Mills – voucher for 1 bag Ultragrain Flour

Dr. Kracker – Engine 2 Crispbreads (delicious and sturdy enough for dips)

Freekehlicious – Whole Grain Freekeh (recipe at the end of this post)

Goose Valley Natural Products – Brown & Wild Rice Infusion

HomeFree Treats – Gluten Free Cookies

Jovial Foods - Einkorn and Brown Rice Pastas (one of the easiest ways to sneak whole grains into a meal)

Late July – Multigrain Snack Chips (I LOVE these.)

Lotus Foods – Rice Ramen

Mary’s Gone Crackers – Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks (perfect pre-workout snack)

Nabisco – Classic Wheat Thins, Brown Rice Triscuits

Pamela’s Products – Whole Grain Whenever Bars (coconut and chocolate goodness)

Panos Brands – Mi Del Graham Crackers, Sesmark Rice Thins

Popsalot Gourmet Popcorn – Cinnamon Popcorn

Real McCoy’s Snacks – Rice Puffs

Roman Meal - Whole Grain Bread (another easy way to incorporate whole grains into the diet, delicious with Kerrygold butter)

Rhythm Superfoods – Super Food Chips

Skeeter Snacks - Nut Free Cookies

Upfront Foods – Straight Up Granola

War Eagle Mill – Corn Flour (dying to make jalapeno corn bread with this)

 

Whole Grain Recipes

Baking with whole grains

Irish Brown Bread

Freekeh with Mediterranean-style Sauce

Fluffy Wheat Rolls

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Tags: giveaway, healthy eating, Oldways, Oldways Whole Grain Council, whole grains, whole grains sampling day

Coming home from Ireland is never, ever easy, and it seems that no matter how long we stay, we never get enough time in this magically beautiful country. We booked our March visit in October and not-so-patiently waited for the trip. One thing we always try to do when in Ireland is to get out to Connemara, where my father-in-law is from and where my husband spent weekends and holidays growing up. A hike in the Irish countryside is invigorating, and this time we decided to spend the night after our hike  in a very special castle hotel, Ballynahinch Castle. After everyone climbed up the side of Errisbeg, we headed to Ballynahinch for the start of a wonderful evening.

Ballynahinch Castle

The whole family finished up the hike with drinks and tea in the Fisherman’s Pub at Ballynahinch.

Views from the hotel are stunning in all directions, whether looking out the restaurant window at the river and wild gardens in the back or looking out the pub window at one of Connemara’s majestic, rocky mountains.

Ballynahinch Castle

view from Ballynahinch Castle

Once we warmed up and relaxed over drinks, those who were spending the night checked into our rooms. Ours was elegant and comfortable, with a huge dressing room attached to the bedroom. It had a lovely big bath. . . with brown water. Ballynahinch actually sources its water from local bogs, and it is filtered and treated with UV lights so it is perfectly safe for bathing and drinking, it’s just brown. It’s also really good for your skin, and mine felt super soft after splashing around in a hot soak.

Ballynahinch Castle guest room

Ballynahinch Castle fox

On the way down to dinner in the Owenmore Restaurant, I took a couple of photos of the inside of the castle. The above painting is of a fox who used to visit the front door of the castle when my husband was growing up. He and his family fondly remember the fox, who has since died.

Ballynahinch CastleThe fine dining area at Ballynahinch Castle, Owenmore Restaurant, is really something special, with stunning views and grand yet subtle decor.

Ballynahinch Castle Owenmore Restaurant

The dinner menu is a three course, set menu, which we enjoyed at a leisurely pace while catching up with some locals the family knew. As my in-laws were celebrating their 50th, one of their friends even brought us a bottle of Champagne.

Each morsel of food was heavenly and inspired by all of the fresh and local ingredients Ireland has to offer. So many people think Irish food is terrible, but in my experience it’s the opposite. The seas and fields produce some stellar ingredients that really shine when treated properly. Head Chef Xin Sun’s guidance is truly an asset to Ballynahinch, and has made Owenmore Restaurant a destination.

Ballynahinch Castle Owenmore Restaurant

{Connemara Smoked Tuna Ceviche, Mussels and Coriander Croquette, Crab Wonton, Shellfish Foam}

Ballynahinch Castle Owenmore Restaurant

{Market Fish – Cod with a Thick Tomato Sauce}

shamrock potatoes

Because it was the night before St. Patrick’s Day, our potatoes were festive shamrocks.

walnut cake

{Warm Walnut Cake, Honey Ice Cream, Caramel Sauce}

Jameson

When dinner was over, we returned to the Fisherman’s Pub for whiskeys before finding a piano and fire in one of the castle’s rooms. My husband played songs into the night while I sat by the fire and felt like the luckiest person in the world. If you ever get the chance to visit Ireland, I can’t recommend Ballynahinch Castle and a trip to Connemara enough.

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Tags: castle, Connemara, Dining out, Ireland, Irish countryside, Irish hotel, restaurants in Ireland, St. Patrick's Day, Travel, travel blog, travel bug, travel to Ireland, vacation

Brussels sprouts with bacon, blue cheese, and caramelized onions? It’s one of the easiest dishes I have ever made and easily one of the best. Adding some fun ingredients to my favorite vegetables has made winter eating at home a little less run-of-the-mill, but truth be told, we have still been going out a LOT. Some meals I have chronicled in their entirety, while others have been enjoyed with maybe a snapshot or two.

Brussels sprouts with blue cheese, onions, and bacon

We have been going to town (literally) at our two local favorites, Ashmont Grill and Tavolo. The other night, when popping into Ashmont Grill for a drink, we discovered their special was a Spinach and Cheese Manicotti with Shortrib Ragu, we ended up staying for dinner. It was insanely good, like everything else at Ashmont Grill. I smell their wood oven the second I step out of Ashmont Station and have to pass Tavolo on my way home. It’s going to be hard not stopping in every night.

spinach and ricotta manicotti with shortrib ragu

There have been a lot of stresses and a lot of celebrations over the past couple of months, and a fun girls night out at Blue Dragon marked many occasions. We gorged ourselves on just about half the menu, including polishing off the big plate of the best fried chicken ever. Cocktails flowed, including my favorite, the Thai Basil Smash.

Cocktails at Blue Dragon

Another recent night out with friends brought us out to Ribelle in Brookline. Once again, we chowed on half the menu, but I found myself dreaming about the Truffle Egg Toast. Can this be my breakfast every day?

Ribelle Brookline

Finally, I enjoyed a really fun team dinner after our sales team won the Best Sales Team award for the whole brand. We stayed right inside the hotel and had dinner at dante, which has phenomenal food and views. We had lots of apps pre-ordered, including oysters and Arancini with Truffle Honey, and for dinner I inhaled the Pumpkin Ravioli. dante makes really gorgeous homemade pastas, and I definitely recommend it for Italian outside the North End.

Pumpkin ravioli

I am hungry again just writing about all of that! It’s been a good Winter of eating, and I am hoping to transition into a Spring of running and vegetables. . . with some new Boston restaurants thrown in for good measure.

What dishes have you been loving lately?

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Tags: Boston, cambridge, cocktails, Dining out, Food, Restaurants

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