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It’s only a few weeks in, but I feel like we have made some big changes in the New Year, including cutting out weekday wine and cooking at home more often. It’s hard. We love food and wine and to go out around Boston and we have well-stocked wine fridge. It’s a constant temptation to stay in line, but I want to be back in shape and feeling more vibrant, so it’s a worthy cause.

We all know that healthier eating can be absolutely delicious. Case in point, this “Mac” and cheese I made last week with Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains, peas. a yummy cheese sauce, and a Ritz Chips topping. No butter involved.

 

shredded cheddar

The success of this healthier mac and cheese like dish comes from sharp cheddar, which comes with lots of flavor. As a result I only used a cup of the shredded cheese. A mix of Kerrygold cheeses would have been great as well.

frozen sweet peas

A veggie component also helped to add to the nutritional value of this dinner. I love sweet peas, and frozen peas are both delicious and a great value.

Harvest Grains Blend   Third, I replaced traditional macaroni with a Harvest Grains Blend, which includes Israeli couscous (one of my favorites), along with lentils and quinoa.

harvest grains blend

Since I wanted a true baked macaroni and cheese feel, I used toasted Ritz Chips, which are lighter than the crackers but super crunchy and yummy and browned up without the addition of butter. But oh how I wanted to melt some butter over the top. . .

Ritz Chips mac and cheese topping

healthy "mac" and cheese healthy mac and cheese

I am pretty much the worst when it comes to actual recipes, but I can tell you I cooked the Harvest Grains according to package directions, in chicken stock. I made about two cups of the grains.

Separately, I mixed in two cups of skim milk with a cup of shredded cheddar and some garlic and truffle oil and simmered until it thickened a little. I mixed the grains and the cheese sauce, added the peas and topped with cracker crumbs and baked at 350 for about 10 minutes. This dish was super easy and SO delicious. We had leftovers for lunch the next day and wished we had more.

It can be a fun challenge to make yummy, healthy dishes for every day, and we are getting back in the swing of things as we go along.

Have you been making an effort to be more healthy in 2015?

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Tags: comfort food, cooking at home, Food, macaroni and cheese, recipes, Vegetarian, vegetarian recipes, winter recipes

Detox, sober January, weight loss, gym memberships. . . my blog inbox has been completely inundated with press releases this week, and I have tossed all of them. I’m not one for extremes, especially when they all hit me at once. I am a firm believer that you can eat, drink, and be merry and also maintain a healthy balance.

Our lives haven’t changed much since the holidays, except for the fact that we have tried to work in more movement, more veggies, and a little less wine. Manageable improvements I can fully support.

This carrot salad is the perfect counterpart to a rich roast or some ginger beer pulled pork. It’s bright, tangy, and full of nutrition. It’s also great on its own or with some chickpeas and goat cheese for a little something extra. This salad is a reminder that healthy can be easy to integrate into a lifestyle and it never has to be all or nothing.

Ingredients

2 cups shredded organic carrots

1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1 cup dried cranberries

1 large shallot, diced

1/2 cup organic apple cider vinegar

black pepper to taste

Mix it all up and chill.

This salad is as easy as it gets, it lasts for several days, and it’s really yummy.

 

carrot salad

Have you made any diet/exercise changes in 2015?

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Tags: delicious, Food, food blog, foodie, healthy, recipe, side dish, vegan, vegetarian recipe

It was a great year for the Boston area food and beverage scene. There are countless new restaurants we are hoping to try, and resolutions like checking out the Boston Wine School to come. We need more time in our non-work lives; it would be easy to spend a week staycation in Boston alone, just discovering and rediscovering all this amazing city has to offer.

Just like in my Best of 2014 Food and Travel post, I had plenty to choose from in my Best of Greater Boston 2014 post. Of course, we didn’t go everywhere or experience everything, but here are a few favorites. Share your favorite food, wine, and cocktail moments from 2014 in the comments!

Dinner on the Farm – Boston Brooklyn Mash – We were fortunate to attend this Verrill Farm dinner as guests of Dinner on the Farm, and it was one of the best days of the year. The food and beer were amazing, and I loved being out on a farm for the afternoon. Now that I have fallen in love with Carolyn Johnson’s cooking, maybe I’ll get to 80 Thoreau soon.

amazing squash Verrill Farm
Brooklyn Brewery Beer Steve Ray/David Surrette

 

The Food Project – We discovered them during a dinner at Alden & Harlow, where The Food Project was by far the best part of the night. I later got to learn more with an afternoon volunteering on the farm, and I can’t wait to help out more in the Spring. The Food Project brings so much to the table. Definitely check them out.

the food project farm dorchester

Hamersley’s Bistro  – Boston said goodbye to this beloved restaurant in 2014, but not before we had an incredible anniversary dinner there. Luckily we can all learn to make Hamersley’s roast chicken at home.

Hamersley's roast chicken

 

Merrill & Co – We ate just about everything at Merrill & Co. and loved the creative variety of cocktails on the menu. This is one of those places you want to visit again and again so you can try everything and because it feels so comfy.

ceviche at merrill and co

Steel and Rye – The obsession from 2013 continued into 2014. Every single bite, sip, staff interaction, brunch, dinner, and drinks outing was perfect. And there were many. Brunch at Steel and Rye is the best way to spend a wintry Sunday.

brunch at Steel & Rye

 

Milton Fruit Center Marketplace Wine Dinners – We are still talking about this Coppola wine dinner at the Fruit Center Marketplace, one of my favorite finds in our new neighborhood. The food was something out of a top rated restaurant, the wine pairings were perfect, and we had so much fun. The value was crazy good too.

We’re unsure about the future of Fruit Center Marketplace, but we hope they will stick around and pull out more wine dinners in 2015.

roasted vegetable stack

 

Sycamore – Have you been to Sycamore in Newton? The food, the cocktails, and the food and wine expertise are all some of the best in the Boston area. You’ll find a sense of humor. zero pretentiousness, and the most perfect Old Cuban at Sycamore, one of the many reasons we spent  several great evenings in 2014 here.

Old Cuban Cocktails

 

 

Navy Yard Bistro – This little waterside gem is tied with Les Zygomates for my favorite spot for a cozy, quiet date night. Awesome location, friendly staff, friendly staff, great wine list, and delicious food make this spot one that we keep going back to.

Navy Yard Bistro

 

Local wine – Wine country is closer than you think. Massachusetts has some REALLY GOOD wine from some unique and interesting wineries. In 2014 we discovered Black Birch Vineyards and their incredible Cab Franc and Traminette, along with gorgeous scenery in one of my favorite parts of Massachusetts. We also got to the Westport Rivers Sunset Music Series where we found Farmer’s Fizz, one of my favorite sparkling wines of the year. And as we have in years past, we loved visits to Travessia, along with wine club shipments. If you haven’t made the trip to Travessia, get there in 2015.

There you have it, a few of my absolute favorites in 2014. The Boston area is an exciting place to live right now; other than having to deal with winter I can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else!

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Tags: Boston, Boston area, Boston restaurants, cocktails, farms, Food, local wine, Restaurants, wine, wineries

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