Healthy Meals When You’re Feeling Lazy

I would say about… 4 days out of 5 (work days, of course) I come home feeling too lazy to cook. After a long day, it’s just about the last thing I want to do. But because eating out is a) expensive and b) often unhealthy, I have faced my adversity and mastered the art of cooking healthy and easy meals.

Now, quick disclaimer here: I am not a recipe person. The measuring spoons and cups hardly ever come out of my drawers. That being said, you’re probably wondering why I’m here posting “recipes” that aren’t really recipes, and here’s my reasoning.

1) This teaches you to learn your preferences.
When I say salt and pepper and garlic to taste, I encourage you to actually start with a little and work your way up. See what you like a lot of and what only needs a little. If I told you how much garlic I put in recipes (at LEAST 4 cloves), you would all run away. So you’re welcome.
2) It gives you more freedom to make it what you want.
I don’t want people to follow these recipes to a T. I have no idea what I’m doing, this is just how I make it and what I like 🙂 So add what you want and play around with it. JUST HAVE FUN! (haha. kidding. kind of.)
3) Cooking is faster when you don’t have to measure things.
And that’s what our goal is here, right? So we can get to our books/Netflix/endless streams of work we have to do??

Glad we are IN AGREEMENT. Without further ado, my five QUICK, EASY, and HEALTHY dinners for when you’re just not feeling it. Let’s go.

Stir Fry

Stir fry is the ULTIMATE nutritious and actually satisfying meal. While I know I’m especially particular to Asian food, stir fry is made in my home probably once a week. This is a flexible meal that involves any veggies/protein in your fridge, and if you have pre-cooked or meal-prepped rice/quinoa/etc., it’s the easiest thing to cook on a time crunch.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

If you’re a frozen food lover, this one’s for you since 90% of the meal comes from a frozen bag. Trader Joe’s has a pre-made version if you’re feeling EXTRA lazy, but they also offer all the fixings if you want to try a little. This is a veggie-packed dish that requires minimal ingredients and almost 0 prep. Incredible!

Cauliflower Gnocchi

The first rule is to not listen to the back of Trader Joe’s package or you will end up with mushy, slimy gnocchi. YUCK! The second rule is to go where your heart takes you on this one. I prefer mine a little crispy with nutritional yeast, but I’ve seen it made with marinara, pesto, a garlic sauce… the world is your oyster. They’re quick and good with a small side salad.

Banana Bowl / Smoothie

While I think I might dedicate an entire blog post to making the perfect banana bowl (read Earthy Andy’s recipes for now), this is one my go-to quick meals so I had to include it here. And yes, I’ll eat this sh** for dinner. In the winter. It’s just that good. Also, if you make a smoothie, try and incorporate some veggies. It’s too easy not to.

Indian Yellow Tadka Dahl

This post SHOULD be sponsored by Trader Joe’s but it’s fine. A packet of this bad boy costs $1.99. Heat it up, serve with cauliflower/regular rice and a side of pita if you’re feeling crazy, and you’re done. It’s delicious and spicy and perfect.

What’s your go-to meal when you’re feeling lazy? Thanks for reading, and happy eating 🙂

1 Day in Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont was just the city I wanted it to be. It was small — about the same size population as my hometown. It was charming — I’ll let the pictures do the talking. And everyone was as eco-friendly and tree-hugging as I’d heard. Burlington was the first stop on our Northeast Road Trip Extravaganza, (blog post coming shortly), so there was a lot of pressure to start the trip on a high note, and despite the cold and rainy weather, it really did. Here’s what we squeezed in our (less than) 24 hours in Burlington, Vermont.

Note: If you’re just here for the cold, hard facts, scroll down to the bottom for the overview and additional recommendations. 

We started our trip from Boston, driving in what appeared to be the Northeast’s first snow storm of the season. Making the best of the 4+ cars we saw in ditches, we blasted some Christmas music and got on our JOLLY WAY.

First Stop: Ben & Jerry’s Factory.

This was on my list of must-do’s — the $4 tour price tag and the simple prospect of ice cream had me sold. While the tour itself was only okay, the story of the ~birth of Ben & Jerry’s was interesting and inspiring. These were just two hippie guys trying to make chunky ice cream, and now here they are in every Target freezer in America! On a more serious note, Ben & Jerry’s had a nice little political plugs and sustainability comments in the tour that didn’t go unnoticed (in a good way). Very on-brand Vermont.

These tours run every half-hour at the factory in Waterbury, Vermont.

Second Stop: Freshen up and head to dinner.

After unpacking and freshening up from a long day of travel, we headed to Burlington’s main area near Church St. After a few recommendations, we chose American Flatbread for dinner, and I highly recommend. The restaurant has a great beer list from Zero Gravity Brewery (get the Forty Thieves Double IPA if you like hoppy beers), an eclectic menu, and a cozy atmosphere complete with wood-fire grill. I got the veggie special flatbread and loved every bite.

After Dinner, Grab Drinks

Not everyone loves hoppy beers (ugh) so we ended the night at Citizen Cider. Whether you’re a cider person or not, this place is definitely worth visiting. I spent $7 for a flight of five samples that included fun cider flavors, like ginger and basil — my two favorite. If you simply cannot give up an ounce of your masculinity, Vermont Pub & Brewery is convenient and close to many restaurants in Burlington. Now get some rest!

In the Morning…

Remind yourself you’re in beautiful Vermont upon waking, and then promptly grab breakfast. We opted for something simple and got bagels and coffee at Feldman’s Bagels. This is a great option for those who want something quicker, want to keep costs low (why is brunch so expensive?), or just like eating really good bagels. We like eating really good bagels.

Time to Explore

We spent our first few daylight hours roaming around Church Street– to me, this is quintessential Burlington. There are shops and cafes lining the street, a VERY photogenic church at the end, and tree lights lit during the daytime. This was my favorite part of Vermont, even in our rainy weather.

Conversely, if you happen to visit during the summertime, there are a ton of activities to do on and around Lake Champlain. This is probably (definitely) the most photogenic part of Burlington, and while we’re sad we missed it, it’s just another reason for us to go back.

To Conclude

Vermont was one of the few New England states I had yet to see, and it was not a disappointment. If you ever find yourself in the area — make the trip. It’s well worth it. Sparknotes below : – )

The Overview

Where to fly into:
Close, but limited – Burlington International Airport | Cheap, but far – Boston Logan International Airport (a little over 3 hours) | Somewhere in between –  Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (about 2 hours)
Where to stay:
Airbnb (Option 1, Option 2, Option 3) | Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain | Hotel Vermont| Courtyard Burlington Harbor | Hilton Garden Inn Burlington Downtown
Where to eat:
– Breakfast: Feldman’s Bagels | The Skinny Pancake | Butch & Babe’s 
– Lunch/Dinner: American Flatbread Company | Farmhouse Tap & Grill (local recommended) | Revolution Kitchen (veg) | Duino Duende (eclectic)
What to Do:
Walk down Church Street | Visit Lake Champlain | Eat maple syrup, a maple creemee, and Vermont cheddar

Huge thanks to Sam & Taylor for hosting us and showing us the best parts of your city! Check out more of my travel posts here, and thanks for reading!

Why You Should Go to Europe in the Winter

I should preface this post by saying that nothing makes me more unhappy than the cold– going to northern Europe in January sounded almost worse than being in Chicago. That being said, when you’re notified (thanks, Scott’s Cheap Flights!) with a $340 round-trip flight to Paris, you make your sacrifices. Duty called, and my first trip to Europe was booked.

Since we’re in one of the best times to be booking January–March flights, I wanted to share why it was one of my best decisions.

1. Off-Season Prices

Every country/state has a “peak season,” aka prime time, and an off-season. In busy peak season (summer for Europe), hotels, Airbnbs, flights, and even activities and excursions can and do charge more when there’s more demand. Because Europe is just about desolate in the winter, we were able to snag ridiculously cheap flights and stay in discounted hostels. Western Europe is hardly considered a budget destination, so it’s a good opportunity to see it without paying summer prices.

2. Higher Availability

More availability means more options, which means more flexibility. We never had trouble finding accommodation, a spot on the train, or even hopping in on a tour last-minute. As we learned the hard way, sh** happens, and we were lucky on more than one occasion to be able to slide in somewhere that we hadn’t booked ahead. However, this doesn’t mean it’s cheap just because it’s available. Ask me about my time hitchhiking to Colmar, France because we didn’t book far enough ahead 🙂

3. Less Tourists

One of the worst things about tourist attractions is how crowded it can get. Even if you’re visiting Europe for the 3rd time, chances are, you’ll end up in popular spots checking out the main attraction of the city. While there will likely always be a line to see the Eiffel Tower, every queue was very bearable in the winter.

Paris, France

4. It’s not THAT bad

I was expecting Iceland to be a constant blizzard and days walking around in Paris to leave me with frozen feet and fingers. You guys – it was super tolerable (besides Amsterdam in the wind and rain. We were there when this video was taken, haha.) Iceland Air even advertises that winters in Reykjavik are milder than New York and Chicago’s! Speaking of Iceland, 5 hours of golden hour a day was incredibly cool to see– another plus of visiting in the winter.

Þingvellir, Iceland

5. Shallow, but…

Your hair and makeup looks great all day! Is this the most important thing? Maybe! Who knows?

Have you ever visited Europe in the winter? Would you want to? Should I stop asking questions? See ya!