Health & Fitness Apps | Dietitian Favorites

Product Reviews

This week I’m sharing my all-time favorite Health & Fitness Apps.

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Trader Joes Haul

Product Reviews

Ever wondered what to buy at Trader Joes. I’m sharing a few of my favorite things that I picked up during my last shopping trip.

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Treatsie Box Review

Product Reviews

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I’m a huge fan of monthly delivery boxes. I love make up boxes, snack boxes, meal boxes, the whole nine yards. Naturally, when I saw Treatsie on Groupon, I was instantly interested.

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Treatsie is an artisan sweet box that provides a few different sweets each month from at least three different vendors. The photos on the website show things like chocolate bars, taffy, caramels, and things of the sort. The box itself is $19.95 a month, which is pretty steep, but I saw a Groupon that gave you double the amount of sweets in your first box, so I decided to try it for just one month to see what it was all about.

When I ordered the box the website said that if you order after the 15th, you won’t get a box until the next month, which is totally understandable. I ordered the box on October 24, so I expected to get a November box. Unfortunately, November came and went and I never received anything. To make matters worse I checked my bank account and my credit card was charged for a second month’s worth of boxes on November 24th, even though I had yet to receive my first box. I finally sent customer service an email and a couple days later got a general email saying that one of their vendors were running late so the boxes were running late. I guess this is understandable but this message didn’t come until at least a week into December.

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I finally received my November box just a couple days ago (its December 20th today). Unfortunately it was not worth the wait. Starting with the box, it was not organized in any way like I’m used to from other snack boxes. Most other boxes are neatly packaged with some sort of card in the box explaining the snacks. My snacks were just thrown haphazardly into the box. There were only 4 different snacks (I received two of each because of my Groupon), which were definitely not worth $19.95. The snacks were also not very exciting. I received a dark chocolate bar, candied pecans, Gingerbread pumpkin seeds, and little mini lime cookies. Not that these snacks are bad, but they really aren’t my idea of a treat. I was looking forward to some caramels or fun chocolate or something, like the photos on the website showed.

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So unfortunately this box is a definite pass. This is the first box I’ve tried that I was really disappointed in. I think the idea of a sweet box is really fun, but this one is just too expensive and not well done. So if you were thinking about trying Treatsie I would suggest saving your money and going for a different snack box like Love with Food, Graze, or UrthBox. If you try Graze you can even change your preferences to get all sweet snacks.

Are there any other boxes out there that I should try?

Eating My Way Through Alberta, Canada

Product Reviews, Travel, Uncategorized

As you may know from previous posts, one of my favorite parts about visiting a new place is trying new food. I especially love trying cultural foods in new countries. So as you can imagine, I was super excited to see what delicious food Canada had to offer. Recently my boyfriend and I took a little road trip through Alberta Canada, stopping in Calgary, Banff, and Jasper. Now, normally when I travel somewhere I try to make a whole post about each city, but we were constantly on the go and only stayed each place for about two days, so I figured I’d combine it all into one post. Plus, if you decide to go to Alberta, its pretty likely that you’ll visit all of these places on your trip too! Sidenote: I’m thinking of writing a separate post about our itinerary for the trip for anyone who may be thinking about going there as well. Anyways, on to the food!

Calgary

Naina’s Kitchen

I originally stumbled upon this place because I was in search of some good Poutine. Poutine was honestly the food I was most excited to try, and it definitely did not disappoint. Niana’s Kitchen is located kind of on the outskirts of downtown Calgary (at least thats what it felt like as a foreigner walking there). Its distance from the center of downtown meant is wasn’t super crowded and it wasn’t super overpriced, which were both welcomed surprises. What Niana’s specializes in is actually stuffed burgers. In fact, they won an award for the best burger in Canada, and are going to compete in a competition in the States soon. So even though I came for the poutine, I couldn’t pass up a good burger. I ended up going with the Jalapeño Popper Burger (stuffed with cream cheese, fresh jalapeños, and fried jalapeños, topped with ranch dressing) and Sam of course went with the Bacon Mac n Cheese burger (stuffed with, obviously, bacon and mac n cheese). The burgers come with fries, but you can make your fries poutine for a small fee. Man, this meal did not disappoint. Firstly I’ve discovered I love poutine! The burger was juicy and extremely flavorful as well. As you might guess I didn’t even come close to finishing this meal, but it was amazing nonetheless and I’d definitely suggest it if you’re ever in Calgary.

Tim Horton’s

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Besides Poutine, the only other really Canadian thing I was looking forward to trying was Tim Horton’s. I’m putting this under Calgary just because that was the first time we tried it, but I think we ended up getting Tim Horton’s about four times. It’s basically just like a Dunkin Donuts, but with really good and affordable food. I tried a bagel, Tim Bits (donut holes), a bagel sandwich, and an english muffin sandwich, and they were all pretty good. This was our go-to if we didn’t have breakfast planned for the morning and pretty much always came in under $10 or $15 (CAD).

Banff

Bear Street Tavern

Our first meal in Banff was at Bear Street Tavern. We wanted something that wasn’t super expensive, but was still kind of nice. We found Bear Street Tavern, which is one block off of the main street in Downtown Banff. This place has kind of a cool, young, hipster type feel and provides some truly delicious pizzas. Sam ended up getting The Big Bird (chicken, bacon, spinach, onions, goat cheese, mozzarella, pesto, and pizza sauce), which hit the spot. I wasn’t really in the mood for pizza so I went with the Pulled Pork Nachos, which were amazing. One thing I really appreciated was that they were kind of double layered nachos. All of the toppings weren’t just on the top of the chips, they were in the middle too, so you could really get a good bite with every chip. We also got a Baked Rosaline because it was the daily special and we were curious. It ended up being kind of like a different take on lasagna: homemade noodles rolled into a spiral with cheese, pesto, and ham. I really enjoyed our meal here, but if we go back I think we would just split a pizza because I ended up having half of my nachos left over.

St. Jame’s Gate Olde Irish Pub

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For our second night in Banff it was a little rainy and I really just wanted some soup and poutine to warm me up. It’s a good thing we found St. Jame’s Irish Pub because they had exactly what I needed. The pub is also just a block off of the main drag of downtown and has that laid back atmosphere you want in a pub. It’s also pretty reasonably priced compared to most things in Banff. I ended up getting an order of Poutine and cup of Guinness Crab and Asparagus Soup. I was a little nervous about the soup but I ended up loving it, it was nice and creamy and didn’t have an overwhelming flavor of crab or asparagus. Sam got the a chicken sandwich with fries, which he also really enjoyed. We both liked St. Jame’s so much that we went back again for dinner while we were in Lake Louise later in the week. This time I got the Chicken Pot Pie which really hit the spot.

Squish Sandwich Cellar

We packed PB&J most days for lunch, but we decided to go out for lunch one day while we were in Banff. On this day we happened upon Squish Sandwich Cellar, a shop located in a basement on the main drag. It was a chilly day and I was in the mood for soup, so I ended up getting the Soup of the Day with bread. On this day it happened to be a beef and vegetable soup, which I really enjoyed. They gave me a huge bowl of it along with like 6 pieces of good bread. Sam got the Triple Decker Sandwich, which looked delicious. It was a little expensive for a sandwich, but we quickly learned food in Canada is not cheap.

The Old Spaghetti Factory

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Our final meal in Banff was actually our final meal of the trip. We were in the mood for Italian but also didn’t want to spend a lot of money, since most of our meals had been more expensive than we’d planned. We found the Old Spaghetti Factory, which is actually a chain in Canada, but its really well priced. The restaurant was really large, so we didn’t have to wait to eat at all. I went with the Spicy Chorizo Penne Al Fresco, which was pretty good. It wasn’t as spicy as I had hoped, but I still enjoyed it. Sam had the Chorizo Cannelloni (can you tell we like chorizo), which were kind of like Manicotti but with chorizo. What made this place super affordable though, was that with each pasta dish you got bread, a salad, ice cream, and tea or coffee included in the price. The bread was delicious and came with garlic butter and the salad was good as well. I also got some vanilla, chocolate, and pistachio ice cream at the end of the meal. Overall it was pretty good, and you definitely get your money’s worth.

At Wit’s End B&B

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Ok I’m kind of cheating here because this isn’t a restaurant, but I just have to mention it. We had the pleasure of staying at At Wit’s End Bed & Breakfast during our stay in Banff. The B&B itself was lovely, but what really stood out was the breakfast. Our host, April, made the most amazing breakfasts I’ve ever had (no exaggeration). The first morning she made us bagel sandwiches with eggs, tomato, cheese, and ham on a cheese bagel. She also made us adorable little parfaits. The second morning (pictured above) she made an amazing spread of sausage, eggs, potatoes, and fresh tomatoes, as well as a little parfait to start. Sam & I were dreaming about her breakfasts for the remainder of the trip. So if you make a trip to Banff, I would highly suggest trying to stay here.

Jasper

Cafe Mondo

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Our first night in Jasper we tried Cafe Mondo, a coffee shop by day, taco shop by night. I was a little surprised when we walked in and there were only two other parties in the restaurant, but we went in nonetheless. I was disappointed to find out it wasn’t the kind of taco shop I wanted. I was in the mood for some a la carte tacos, but this was more like a regular kind of Tex Mex restaurant. Our appetizer of Choriqueso was delicious, queso baked in cheese, served with flour tortillas. I then convinced the waitress to let me get some a la carte tacos and went with one chicken and one pork taco. They were alright, but nothing special. This was really the only disappointing meal of our trip, and I don’t think I’d go back.

North Face Pizza

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On our final night in Jasper we wanted something affordable and easy. North Face Pizza fit those requirements exactly. North Face is surprisingly affordable, and you can build your own pizza. I got an 8-inch build your own pizza with a pesto sauce base, sausage, and pepperoni. It was the perfect size for me, and it was only $9.75 (CAD)! You really can’t beat that in Alberta. Sam got the medium size pizza, but it was still only $13.50 (CAD). We got our pizzas to go and took them back to our B&B and watched some Narcos and had a relaxing night. North Face also had poutine, as well as sandwiches and salads.

And that is everything I ate during my road trip through Alberta. I hope this is helpful for anyone planning a visit!

Second Act Artisan Cheese Class

Product Reviews, Uncategorized

I love learning about food processes that I don’t know anything about. I always thought it would be so cool to be able to take the time to learn a lot about wine, or beer, or coffee. Well recently I got the opportunity to do just that, except with cheese! I love soft cheeses like ricotta or flavored cheeses that you can spread on crackers, so I was so excited to be able to take part in the Express Cheese Class with Second Act Artisan Cheese and Triangle Foodie Adventures.

In this three hour class of 6-8 people, we got to make two different types of cheese, with three flavors of each type. We started the class by learning about the process of making cheese. We even got to learn about the process of making aged cheeses, even though we were making a more accelerated version for our ready-to-eat cheeses. We then got into groups of two or three to start making our first cheese. img_0196

The first cheese was a Framage Facil (easy cheese) and was just that, super easy. It’s crazy how easy the process was. It involved a lot of stirring, and heat, and temperature taking, but we soon started to see cheese curds forming. Once we dumped the whey and were left with the cheese, each group mixed their own flavor for everyone to share. In my class we had a garlic and chive, sun dried tomato basil, and craisin, pepper, and South African Smoke cheese. img_0199

The second cheese we made was Ricotta. This cheese was just a little bit more complicated, but still easy to follow and hard to mess up. There was a little more waiting involved in this one, but in the mean time we got to see Rich’s (the host) cheese cellar where he kept all of the different cheese he’s made over the last few months. We also got to snack on Lauren’s (Rich’s wife) amazing chocolate chip cookies. For the Ricotta we kept one plain, added maple syrup, cinnamon, and orange zest to the other, and made chocolate mousse out of the third.

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Once all of the cheese was ready we headed upstairs to the dining room and got to try all of the cheese together. Lauren set up an amazing little spread of crackers, bread, and fruit so that we could try our cheese different ways. I loved spreading the Framage Facil on the warm baguette and dipping strawberries in the chocolate ricotta. All of the cheese turned out so tasty, and it was so cool that we had actually made it! I think my favorite was the Framage Facil with South African Smoke and craisins. The flavor was just so unique and it went perfectly with that warm bread. There was so much cheese that we all got to take home a little bit of each one as well.

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I loved taking this cheese class with Second Act Artisan Cheese and Triangle Foodie Adventures. One of my favorite parts was getting to spend time with Rich and Lauren. They were such nice people and very welcoming to open their house up to strangers so we could learn about Rich’s passion: cheese. It was fascinating to learn from Rich, who knows so much about the process. Rich also offers full day classes where you learn how to make some of the more complicated cheese and enjoy a lovely lunch. Any of the cheese classes that Rich offers are the perfect date night as well.

So if you love cheese, or are just curious about the process, I would highly suggest checking out Second Act Artisan cheese and taking a class yourself!

Plated Review

Product Reviews, Uncategorized

Remember a few weeks ago when I posted about Blue Apron? Well I enjoyed the concept so much that I decided to just go ahead and try another meal delivery service as well… for the blog of course. This time I decided to try Plated. For some reason I feel like Plated is the service that pops up most often in ads on Facebook and other things of the sort. I also thought their recipes looked the most unique out of all of the meal delivery services I’ve looked at. So I searched for a deal (hint you get $30 off your first order) and I gave it a shot.

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The first thing I noticed about Plated is that the packaging was all recyclable. Even the outside packaging and ice packs could be recycled. So if you appreciate that sort of thing you’ll probably appreciate Plated. Like Blue Apron, the smaller ingredients for each meal were all grouped together in little bags to keep things organized.

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The meals that we chose were the Barbecue Salmon Burgers, Brown Butter Pork Chops, and Moo Shu Chicken tacos. Again, like Blue Apron, each recipe was on an individual card and was very easy to follow. They included some nutrition information, prep and cook times, and all ingredients and instructions.

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The first meal I cooked was the BBQ Salmon Burgers with Fingerling Potato Salad. The meal itself was very easy to make. I actually had to go out before dinner time the night I made this and I was able to prep everything in about 30 min before I left so that I could just quickly cook the burgers when I got home. I really liked the burgers themselves, but unfortunately the buns were a little stale, which I feel like can really put a damper on a good burger. I did appreciate that the meal came with a side. I felt like these meals had a more realistic amount of food than Blue Apron. The potato salad was alright, but the star of the show was definitely the salmon itself.

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Meal number 2 was the Moo Shu Chicken with pancakes (which were basically very thin tortillas). This was definitely my favorite meal on the bunch. It was sooo flavorful and different from anything I’ve made. I tweaked the recipe a little bit by only putting about 1/4 of the amount of mushrooms as I was supposed to. I do wish that this meal had come with a small side item of some sort, but other than that it was definitely a hit.

IMG_0606The final meal was the Brown Butter Pork Chops with Roasted Artichoke Salad. The pork chops were tasty (even though I think I over-cooked them a little). It was also nice to have something I don’t normally cook. I also surprisingly enjoyed the salad. I’m not a big artichoke fan, but I think roasting them and tossing them with some dressing made a big difference.

Positives
More substantial meals than Blue Apron
Diverse recipe selection
You can chose any meal combinations you’d like
All meals were tasty
All meals were easy to prepare
You are able to chose a meal plan with 2, 3, or 4, meals per week

Negatives
Stale buns for the salmon burgers
More expensive than Blue Apron ($72 vs. $60)

Like all other meal delivery services I would say that Plated is probably more money than you would normally spend at the grocery store each week. However, it does making cooking more convenient and allows you to switch up your meals and try something new. In conclusion, while I think Plated has more exciting recipes to chose from, I think I would chose Blue Apron based on price and taste of the food.

Stay tuned for  Hello Fresh review later as well. Have you all tried any other delivery services? What is your favorite?

Graze Box: Review

Product Reviews

I am all about healthy snacking, but I’m also all about variety. I get sick of eating the same thing over and over very quickly, but it can be expensive to keep a bunch of different snacks in the house. That’s why I was so excited to try Graze.

Graze is a subscription box that sends you 8 individually portioned snacks for $11.99 once a month, once every two weeks, or every week, depending on your subscription. The fun thing about Graze is that its totally different from Love with Food, or any other snack box. While those boxes send you different brands of snacks to try, Graze has over 100 snack recipes of their own. These snacks range from seasoned nuts, granola toppers for yogurt, flapjacks, trail mix, dried fruit, and even a few healthy cookies and brownies. When you sign up you can go through all of the snacks and decide which ones you want to try and which ones just don’t really look appealing. I kept in almost everything minus just a couple. In addition to the large variety of tasty snacks, most of them are fairly healthy as well. Almost every snack has a label with a health benefit on it, whether it be gluten free, whole grain, high fiber, or the amount of calories in the box.

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I was so excited to try my snacks when the first box arrived. The picture above is 4 of the 8 snacks I got in my first box. The picture below shows the other 4. I love the variety of snacks. A few sweet and a few salty and savory. Personally I love the flapjacks, they’re like little granola bars but they taste very indulgent. The snickerdoodle dip was one that I was forced to share with my boyfriend. It was cinnamon pretzels with a cookie butter dip. Oh man, so good. The Laksa soup on the top right corner is one I tried on a whim. When you go in to set your snack preferences the soups are automatically turned off because they know they aren’t the most popular. I am a soup lover myself though, so I decided to give it a try. I actually really enjoyed it. You take the paste in the small left pocket and mix it up with water, add the noodles, and heat it up. It was definitely a nice, savory little snack. I loved the strawberries and cream granola as well. I used it as a yogurt topper for breakfast one morning and satisfied my sweet tooth without making me feel guilty. The Kettlecorn Kern Pops were also another favorite. They are like little sweet and salty half popped kernels. IMG_0443

Another thing I love about Graze is that you can purchase larger quantities of a snack you enjoyed. They sell sharing bags or individually packed multipacks of almost all of their snacks. I haven’t purchased any yet but there are a few that I’m very tempted by.

Out of all of the snack boxes I’ve tried this is by far my favorite. All of the snacks are fun and tasty, as well as being fairly healthy. I think the packaging of their products also makes it more fun than a lot of other boxes I’ve tried. This is one that I will definitely be renewing once my subscription runs out.

Bonus: sometimes you can find a Groupon for Graze as well!

Blue Apron Review

Product Reviews

I’ve always wanted to try Blue Apron and other companies of the sort, but they just seem so expensive. Imagine my excitement when I came across a Groupon for Blue Apron which made the pricing about $6 a meal!

Incase you don’t know, Blue Apron is a weekly meal delivery service. You subscribe to their service and they send you all of the ingredients for meals for 2 or 4 people and then you cook the meal yourself. The normal price is about $60 for 3 meals for 2 people ($10 per meal). Along with the box they send all of the ingredients, normally the exact amount you need, as well as recipes for each meal. Each week they come out with a new menu and you are able to pick which meals you like, although for some reason there are some combinations of meals you aren’t able to get. We were able to get all the meals we wanted though so the combo thing didn’t bother me.

So let’s get to my experience.

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I came home to a big exciting box full of ingredients. On top were the three recipe cards and inside were the ingredients for each of the recipes. Each little portioned bag had a sticker on it saying what it was, so it was easy to figure out which ingredients went with which recipe. Everything was still cold and there were 2 large ice packs in the box, so I’m sure the food would’ve been safe for a few more hours for those who don’t get home until later in the evening. I didn’t get home until about 7:30pm the night the box arrived, so I decided I wanted to make the easiest recipe, which I decided was the Spinach Pesto Gnocchi.

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I gathered all of the ingredients, as well as the bag labeled “Gnocchi Knick Knacks”. In that bag were smaller portioned ingredients like 2 Tbsp butter, some chopped almonds, capers, and parmesan cheese. I was really surprised at how simple the recipe was. The sauce just involved cooking some spinach and then chopping and mixing. The rest was just boiling the gnocchi and cooking the asparagus a little. It was so easy even my boyfriend could do it! (sorry Sam).

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Overall I think the meal turned out really well. It wasn’t the most flavorful pesto sauce, probably because it was made with spinach instead of basil, but I still really enjoyed it. The only thing I would say is that the portion size wasn’t big enough for my boyfriend. We ended up making some mozzarella sticks with it and it was the perfect meal.

Next I made the Chicken Steam Buns. I was pretty excited for these because the picture looks so good. This was another super simple recipe. I just had to sautéed the ground chicken, marinade the veggies, and steam the buns. This was actually my first time ever steaming anything so that was exciting… not that that’s something that’s difficult. I did encounter a little problem with this recipe though… they sent me a bad cucumber!

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We looked it up and it looks like the cucumber could have been over-chilled. So maybe it was up against the ice pack? I don’t know, either way we had to go get another cucumber. But none the less the meal itself was delicious. My picture didn’t come out nearly as pretty as recipe pictures, but it tasted better than it looked. And just like the first recipe, it was super easy!

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The last meal was Beef Tartines, which are open faced beef sandwiches with a side of zucchini. I was looking forward to these least but actually ended up loving them. I also waited a few days to make this and all of the ingredients stayed nice and fresh. Like the other two recipes, this was very simple and didn’t take me more than about 30 minutes.

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So in conclusion:

Positives
Food tasted delicious
Good price (with Groupon)
Healthy (for the most part)
Pre-portioned ingredients make cooking much quicker and easier
New menus every week
All recipes were very easy and fairly quick

Negatives
Some meals were not large enough portions for a guy or anyone who might eat more than the average adult
Bad cucumber
A little pricey (without the Groupon)
Limited nutrition (only provided rough calorie count)

Overall I had a great experience with Blue Apron. While I can’t afford to get it every week, I would definitely suggest it for those who can, that want to make cooking a little easier. It’s also a fun way to mix it up. I know I can get stuck in a rut making the same things every week.

Have you tried Blue Apron or any other meal delivery services? Which is your favorite? I’ve also ordered Plated and Hello Fresh, so look out for reviews on the blog soon!