Eat in Month Week 0 Check-In

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Hey guys!

Hope your new year is off to a great start. I know mine is! So far, I hosted a super fun New Year Zumba Glow Party, spent a lot of time getting organized for 2015, and did great with the first half-week of the Eat in Month Challenge. Last year, I did weekly recaps, which I thought were helpful to stay accountable and share ideas. So, here’s my Eat in Month Week 0 Check-In. I’m calling this half week between January 1-3, 2015 “Week 0″ since it wasn’t a full week.

Also, I’m not going to post every single meal photo here on the blog. I think that’d be too much for a weekly recap, but I am hoping to share a photo of all my eats on social media. You can get the the photos three ways: Instagram, twitter, and Facebook. Be sure to like The Chic Life on all three to get the best updates since I don’t always cross post everything. I’ll share some highlights here on the blog.

Eat in Month Week 0 Check-In

January 1, 2015

Eat in Month Week 0 Check-In

New Year’s Eve was over before I even had the thought of, “Maybe I should have just one more meal out. Where should I go?” Alas, it’s too late. But, I was at least prepared for New Year’s Day eats. I had picked up some fresh collard greens and a can of black eyed peas the day before since we always eat those on January 1st every year.

I made Quick and Easy Black Eyed Peas and Quick Asian Collard Greens for sides for lunch. I had hoped to blog both recipes before dinner, but I spent a couple hours prepping for the glow party (making the playlist, arriving early to set up, etc.). I still have both recipes drafted and plan to share them soon. If nothing else, they do make tasty and easy sides that would be great for any meal during the year. Anywho, I had both with leftover pulled pork on Whole Foods “snowflake rolls” (not sure why they’re called that, but they’re good) with my favorite BBQ sauce.

January 2, 2015

Eat in Month Week 0 Check-In

I’m a pretty repetitive eater. One of my favorite things to eat is a fried egg with some form of carb. Mom sent us home with some of her fresh-baked banana bread after the holidays, so I happily toasted a slice of that. I think one of the easiest ways to stick with eating in is to have food you love and look forward to. Same with healthy eating. When you’re excited about it, you want to eat it. Find little ways to treat yourself.

Eat in Month Week 0 Check-In

We decided to make my Mom’s Filipino Pork Adobo for dinner. We love this because it’s easy, affordable, and you can double the recipe for tasty leftovers later. Leftovers always really help us with successfully completing the Eat in Month challenge. It’s so nice when you have something you can easily re-heat, especially when you think the leftovers still taste good. I don’t think all things reheat well, but I do think this pork adobo does.

January 3, 2015

Eat in Month Week 0 Check-In

I really didn’t feel like going anywhere Saturday afternoon/evening. I knew I needed to get groceries, but I also knew I had enough food that I could put it off…one more day, at least. After cleaning and reorganizing my pantry earlier in the day, I was able to make a list of key pantry items to pick up. Plus, I knew what I needed for eats for Sunday. I had grand plans of hitting my favorite grocery stores to look for the best deals. As a compromise, I went to just Whole Foods and decided to only get the items on my list that I needed for Sunday or that were on sale for a good price.

Eat in Month Week 0 Check-In

Once I got back with groceries, I put them all up and realized we had an extra bag of radishes. I spent most of my pantry evaluation literally in our dry storage pantry. Oops. So, I sautéed some of the radishes with garlic and butter. This is a really simple and different way to eat radishes, and I really like it. I’ll do a recipe post for you guys so you can try it, too. This would make for a really easy side for everyday eats. I also re-heated some leftover rice and pork adobo from the day before.

Eat in Month Week 0 Check-In

I was being frugal at the grocery store and decided to not buy this box of chocolate chip cookies that was calling my name. I would normally whip up some emergency cookies or something, but my oven is currently broken. With the weather being rather cold and rainy, a bowl of hot, chocolatey goodness sounded wonderful. I made a quick mug of Hot Chocolate Oatmeal on the stove. I think I owe you guys this recipe, too, so I’ll add this to the queue.

Eat in Month Week 0 Check-In Summary

I’m really happy with how the first couple days of the challenge have gone. I’ve definitely been eating healthier and have spent way less money that I would have had we gotten take out, etc.

I do still have some work ahead of me to really get organized for the Eat in Month Challenge this year. I think doing weekly meal plans will be very helpful. I think I say that every year, but I’m serious this time. For proof, I even have a Week 1 Meal Plan drafted on paper, and I’ll share that post later today. I’m also working on a healthy pantry list, which I’m hoping to publish in the next week.

So far, I’ve really enjoyed all our meals in. We’ve turned to some classics so far, but I’m hoping to find a couple new recipes to try. Still, we’re off to a great start!

How are you doing with the challenge? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments!

Eat in Month Challenge 2015

The Eat in Month Challenge 2015 is here! Well, it’s almost here. But, I wanted to get the information out a couple days before the challenge officially begins so you can start preparing.

What is the Eat in Month Challenge 2015?

The Eat in Month Challenge is a challenge I have hosted for the last five years here on The Chic Life. The goal of the challenge is to eat in *more*. I eat every meal *in* for the whole month of January with only one cheat pass. But, you can tweak the challenge for you. I find January to be the perfect time of year for this for me since I tend to eat out a lot in during the holidays. This also helps me with starting the year off on the right foot eating more healthy foods and saving money.

You can read the full rules of the challenge on the Eat in Month Challenge page by clicking here. Just come back here to sign up for this year’s challenge!

When Does It Happen?

The challenge lasts for the whole month of January – from the 1st to the 31st. But, you’re welcome to join late or even do the challenge later in the year. It’s fun to do it now, though, to see what others are posting on twitter, Instagram, etc.

The Badge

Here’s the Eat in Month Challenge 2015 badge – feel free to copy the code below to use this badge on your site or blog:

Copy this code to add the challenge banner to your site/blog:

<a href="http://thechiclife.com/2014/12/eat-in-month-challenge-2015.html"><img src="http://thechiclife.com/wp-content/uploads/images/EatInMonthChallenge2015.gif" border="0" width="170" height="170" /></a>

The Players

Are you playing along in the Eat in Month Challenge 2015? If so, leave me a comment, whether you’re playing for the whole month, a couple weeks, a single week, a couple days, etc. Add the URL to your blog, Instagram, or twitter, and I’ll link (just the first URL you post) you up, too, so others can see if you post about the challenge. I’ll also make sure to get your name on the list if you join the Facebook event. Woohoo!

  • Me & hubby – month
  • Alex T – month
  • Alexandra J – month
  • April – month
  • Bobby and family – month
  • Briana L – month
  • Carmen A – month
  • Chad D – month
  • Cindy K – month
  • Dana S – month
  • Debra P – month
  • Ellen – month
  • Emily S
  • Erin B – month
  • Hannah L – month
  • Jemme H – month
  • Jennifer M – month
  • Jessica B – month
  • Jessica C – month
  • Julie D – month
  • Katelyn N – month
  • Katie M – month
  • Kelly W – month
  • Kimberly A – month
  • Kristin M – month
  • Leslie S – month
  • Lindsey G – month
  • Lisa B – month
  • Lizzy Q – month
  • Mary L – month
  • Megan P – month
  • Samantha B – month
  • Sarah M – month
  • Scott L – month
  • Serena T – month (except Friday lunch tradition)
  • Sue P – month
  • Toya B – month
  • You – a week? the whole month?

Remember, you can join any time by simply commenting below or joining the Facebook event. Check the Eat in Month Challenge page for tips, useful links, and more details.

New This Year

I’m trying something new this year. I created a Facebook event where I’m hoping to share more tips throughout the month. It didn’t let me specify a date range, so I selected the last day of the challenge so it wouldn’t get filtered to past events, which I think are harder to see. I think if you join this event, you’ll see updates I post about the challenge as I share them.

Get Faster Updates

I tend to post more meal photos on Instagram, but I share them on Facebook and twitter. So if you don’t have an Instagram account, you can check out my Facebook page to see the photos there, too. I also will be sharing content on twitter. Look for the #eatinmonth hashtag to see what others are posting, too!

***

Who’s ready to get started?!

littleSpoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

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Where can you go for great brunch eats and 90′s/00′s hip hop? Try littleSpoon {Charlotte, NC} for a delicious hip hop brunch.

Little Spoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

I can’t say I’ve been anywhere else in town where you can get this experience, potentially making this my new favorite, local brunch spot. Well-crafted food + locally sourced ingredients + some of my favorite tunes = a winning combination.

Hubby actually suggested checking out this restaurant a couple weekends ago, and I happily agreed. littleSpoon is located off of Selwyn Avenue where FABO used to be, in the same shopping center as Mellow Mushroom. The space is a little on the smaller side, but it’s well decorated and comfortable. I’m not sure if they take reservations, but it may be worth making them, if possible.

I’d had a lot of coffee that morning, so I decided to try something different to drink. Fresh-made lemonade hit the spot. It was a little bubbly and lightly sweet, just how I like my lemonade.

Little Spoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

We considered starting with the doughnuts, but when we heard there was a blueberry, homemade “pop tart” special, we were sold. The starter was great – so much better than a boxed pop-tart. littleSpoon’s version was made with fresh blueberries and a hint of citrus in a golden pie crust.

Little Spoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

We decided to share a couple main dishes. Hubby ordered the homemade “hot pocket” with egg whites, turkey sausage, and jalapeño. I tried a bite and really enjoyed it, though it was a little spicy for me. I’m a weeny when it comes to spicy food, though. The flavors were great together, and I enjoyed the dough, which reminded me a little bit of pizza/calzone dough.

Little Spoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

But, the hash stole the show for me. Not only was it beautiful, but it was the perfect combination of ingredients. I believe it contained purple potatoes, bell peppers, onions, sausage, micro greens, and a sunny-side up egg on top. I love these types of dishes – the ones where you try to gather a little bit of every tasty component in a single bite to enjoy the flavors together.

The weather was warm when we visited littleSpoon so we sat outside. We took in the sunny day whilst enjoying our brunch eats and songs by Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, and Tupac. It’s not every day you can enjoy this combination, but hubby and I are already looking forward heading back to littleSpoon for another tasty hip hop brunch soon.

Farro 3 Ways – Easy Weeknight Meals

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As most of you can probably relate, my crazy schedule sends me looking for easy, healthy, weeknight meal ideas. I recently gave farro a couple makeovers so I could enjoy it three times in one week as simple, vegetarian entrées. I present: Farro 3 Ways – Easy Weeknight Meals.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

Do any of these meals look intimidating? If you don’t cook often, they could. But trust me, they were so easy! If you can make rice pilaf, you can make the main farro dish that kicks off all of the other easy meals.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

#1 – Black Eyed Peas with Farro

My easy eats began with a trip to the farmers market. I’d had a long day at work and had left a little late. I love going to the market after work because I find it a relaxing place where I can get delicious, local ingredients. The market is full of good energy, so I like to soak that up and start to un-wind after work sometimes. I picked up some radishes, sweet potatoes, kale, onions, and apples without knowing what I’d do with it.

By the time I was finally headed home, I didn’t want to stop at even one more place. I decided to make something for dinner out of the pantry and found some Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro and a can of black eyed peas. I did a play on my Rosemary Garlic Farro with Chickpeas recipe, except I didn’t even bother to chop up some garlic. The 10 minute farro helped speed up the total cooking time. I roasted the sweet potatoes, which didn’t take too long since I cut them pretty small. I kept the flavors simple and roasted the sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I learned a tip from the vendor who sold me the radishes. She said I could sauté the radish bottoms and greens (adding these near the end of the cooking) with butter. She was right. It was good!

The whole meal was pretty straightforward in cooking methods and flavors, but I really enjoyed it. I also thought this was slightly easier for cooking for one, since hubby was having dinner out.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

#2 – Sautéed Garlic-y Black Eyed Peas with Farro

I’m not a fan of microwaves, so I decided to sauté the leftover black eyed peas with farro from the night before with a little oil and garlic. I heated the oil in a pan and cooked the garlic till it was fragrant, just under a minute. I added a nice portion of the leftover farro and sautéed the whole thing till it was warmed through. I also roasted another sweet potato and steamed up some kale. We usually put butter and a sprinkle of salt over our steamed vegetables, but I like my kale drizzled with just a little soy sauce instead sometimes.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

3 – Tofu Farro Stir-Fry

On the third day, I still had leftover farro, so I decided to change the flavor profile by making a quick stir-fry. I swung by the grocery store on the way home from teaching Zumba to get another time-saver item – cubed tofu. No pressing and cutting tofu for me! I started this dinner by sautéing the tofu in a pan with a little oil and soy sauce. I added the farro and cooked everything until the farro was heated through, adding a little more soy sauce, to taste. Meanwhile, I steamed up some cabbage and kale, which I served with a drizzle of soy sauce. This may have been my laziest preparation of the black eyed peas with farro, but I think it was my favorite.

***

Though I prefer eating different things every night, I appreciated how simple and healthy these weeknight meals were. They were a huge relief after a long day of work and teaching my Zumba class. And they were so good too!

Thanks for stopping by!

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

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After a great first day at Kiawah Island for my birthday beach weekend, I was looking forward to a relaxing Day 2. The weather called for rain all day, so I saved my bathing suit for the following day, which was supposed to be beautiful. Who’d have known that I’d actually capture some of my favorite photos of the trip on the rainy day, though?

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

{A preview of that evening}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Sis whipped up a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, and whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

And for one of our meals out, we planned to visit my favorite Kiawah Island restaurant – Jasmine Porch for lunch.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Sis got the shrimp and grits.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Dad got the chickpea salad with grilled salmon. He’s mostly gone vegan but will eat fish once in awhile.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Mom and I got the same thing – Lunch on the Porch with crab cakes sliders, beet salad, and she crab soup. I opted for fries on mine. I actually got this last year, and it was so good, I wanted to enjoy it all over again.

Hubby got the sandwich with mahi mahi, bacon, lettuce, and tomato.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Jasmine Porch surprised me with a free birthday dessert – the chocolate mousse pie! They did something similar last year, and my Instagram photo was one of my favorites of the last trip. I actually ended up printing the photo on a sheet of Instagram photos for my Erin Condren Life Planner, which I placed on my birthday of this year’s calendar.

***

That night, we participated in an event at Mingo Point. To be honest, after being in the house relaxing during the rainy day, I wasn’t looking forward to doing something outdoors. We weren’t sure if the rain would hold off, and I hadn’t brought clothes for as cool a day as it was turning out to be. I’m so glad I went, though, because it was one of my favorite experiences of the weekend. Here are some photos from the night:

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

{Sangria}

***

After exploring the main area of Mingo Point for a bit, hubby, sis, and I went on a mini boat ride on the marsh. We wanted to go before dinner was served, but that boat was full, so we signed up for the next one. The timing worked out great for us because we got to enjoy the most beautiful sunset and saw a bonus surprise. I took so many photos, in fact, that I’m going to share those photos in a separate post. More photos on that next time!

***

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Back on land, dinner was served.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

They had a huge buffet set up with so many delicious options.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

We had a great meal of roasted pork, mahi mahi, rice, green beans, macaroni and cheese, and more. There was dessert on the buffet and I had a small slice of pecan pie. We thought we were done there, but then we remembered the fire pit from earlier and had to check it out.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Yes – s’mores!

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

We relaxed by the fire pit and just enjoyed the moment. It was very relaxing.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

And we even had a special guest. I think this guy has done this before.

Thank you Jasmine Porch and Mingo Point for a great day of eats and relaxation!

***

Thanks for stopping by. Check back next time for photos from the boat ride on the marsh!

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

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When my parents first suggested going to Kiawah Island for my birthday weekend, I scoffed at the idea. To me, the beaches near Charleston (Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, etc.) were easier and faster to get to, so why bother driving an extra 30 minutes? Though I love road trips, I don’t like being in the car longer than I need to be. But, when I went to Kiawah Island for my birthday last year, I fell in love with the place. I couldn’t wait to go back, and I took off extra days this year to enjoy the island a little longer.

Last year, we made the mistake of planning to eat out for most of the meals. There aren’t many restaurants at Kiawah Island, and they’re all pretty pricey. Luckily, if you stay in a house or villa with a kitchen and plan ahead, you can enjoy home-cooked meals on the island. My sister took the lead on planning an efficient and delicious set of meals for our entire vacation, and she did a fantastic job. I can’t wait to share photos from the weekend of the beach and the eats!

Here are some photos from the first day. We got a later start than we expected on Thursday, so we only had time to enjoy dinner and head to bed. So, I’ll count Thursday night and all day Friday as “day 1″…

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Sis planned a light dinner for Thursday of chickpeas over bulgar.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

We had fried plantains for dessert.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

One of my favorite things about Kiawah is the lush scenery. There are tree-covered paths and boardwalks all around. If you stay in the right place, the beach is a short walk away.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

On Friday, we started with fresh-baked zucchini muffins, sausage, and spinach-pepper omelets.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

We lucked out on the weather. It was supposed to rain all day, but we caught some sunshine in the morning. It was just enough to hit up the beach for a couple hours.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

We thought we may be able to use these beach chairs, but they had reserved signs on them. There was plenty of space on the beach to spread out.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Mine?”

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

For lunch, we had breaded chicken, beans from the garden, and mashed potatoes with vegan gravy.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Yum!

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

After lunch, sis and I headed out for a bike ride around the island.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

We had pasta for dinner – vegan for dad.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

And sis went above and beyond and baked bread from scratch! She made two loaves of delicious rye bread.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

While dad had vegan pasta with whole wheat noodles, the rest of us had fresh-spaghetti with homemade meatballs.

We were off to a wonderful weekend already! I’ll share the rest of the photos soon!

Thanks for stopping by!

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