A Foodies Tour: Wilmington, North Carolina

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Last weekend I spent a WONDERFUL weekend in the beautiful town of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. My best friend Casey is a senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and a visit was long overdue! Casey is lucky enough to go to a beautiful school, surrounded by amazing places for food & drink, and not to mention, the beach! I thought it’d be fun to document as much of the food as possible! As many of you know, I’ve been trying to diet, but this was one trip I was willing to splurge for! Our friend, Jenna, goes to school at High Point University, so she came a long for the trip as well! Not only do the three of us love each other, but we love food. Casey, Jenna and I also have a love for natural foods. Farm to table restaurants are a favorite of ours. We love finding delicious restaurants where we know the food they are serving us are natural, organic, whole foods! Though we all love to splurge on lifes greatest temptations, like tequila shots and pizza, we are great at finding a balance between health and fun. Before I send you on this tour, I’d like to thank Casey for an AMAZING trip in Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. No wonder she never comes home to Maryland during breaks, I’d go back in a heart beat!

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Okay, I know what you guys are thinking. This looks disgusting… I know. I thought I’d include my last Tupperware meal before my flight to Wilmington. This was tuna with mustard and rice cakes. I love this meal, sue me. ¬†After four hours of traveling, between two flights and layovers, I arrived in Wilmington starving! Luckily, Casey was also ready to smash some food, we chose sushi, white girl problems.

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A staple at any sushi restaurant is the Edamame. Extra salty, or no salt at all, edamame is delicious! I do have to say, the salt helps ūüôā

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And welcome to sushi heaven. I thought I’ve enjoyed sushi before, but these rolls surpassed all expectations. I had to double up on Gluten & Dairy digestive enzymes, but luckily they provide Gluten Free Soy Sauce for rolls. No surprise here, Casey and I finished all three rolls. This usually isn’t such a challenge but these rolls were huge.

King Kong Roll

Red Snapper and Avocado Cooked Tempura Style, Topped with Spicy Tuna, Scallop, Crab, Crunchy, Scallion, Masago and Special Sauce

Ninja Roll

Tuna, Salmon & Avocado Topped with Scallop, Crab, Crunchy, Orange Sauce & Eel Sauce

Hurricane Roll

CA Tempura Roll Topped with Spicy Tuna, Scallion and Eel Sauce

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Epic Food Co. 

Epic Food Co. serves up a Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner menu. They serve flavorful dishes to fit your dietary needs, as there are many gluten free and vegan options. They have perfect portion sizes, and you leave feeling satisfied, not stuffed! There are many great things on the menu, a long with an option to make it “Your Way”. Casey and I chose to make our own fresh bowl!

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Caseys bowl consisted of Brown Rice, Chicken, Sprouts, Spinach, epic PICO, and veggie sauté. Casey chose the Avocado Chile Lime dressing as her sauce, on the side.

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My bowl consisted of Brown Rice, Chicken, Spinach, epic PICO, basil, and veggie saut√©. I followed in Casey’s foot steps and got the Avocado Chile Lime dressing, on the side.

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Casey and I both got ourselves a side of freshly homemade sweet potato chips! I can’t explain how delicious these were, you’ll have to try them out for yourself.

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Epic does a great job in guaranteeing fresh ingredients and great service. They also include the¬†nutritional values¬†on the Epic menu, or the menu that is already created for you if you don’t choose to make it Your Way. The food tasted fresh and healthy, it was a delicious meal without the splurge! And well deserved after Casey and I hit the gym right before this meal ūüôā

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After touring Wilmington & Wrightsville Beach for a bit, it was time to make dinner! We spent the day checking out local markets and picking up delicious ingredients for our homemade dinner we were planning that night! We picked up most of our ingredients at Trader Joes. Not to mention, my new favorite sparkling white wine! (I totally forget what it’s called, I’ll have to stalk Trader Joes next time)

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We made 1 pound of Gluten Free Brown Rice pasta!

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Mixed with 1 pound of White Ground Turkey meat! Seasoned with oregano, garlic, minced onion, italian seasoning, and salt and pepper!

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While that was cooking, we made a small antipasta to hold us over. I live for antipasta. Olives, salami, pepperoni, capicola. All that’s missing is cheese and crackers! Man, I miss mozzarella. #DairyFreeProblems

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Our pasta dish was amazing! The sauce we used was a Basil Marinara from Trader Joes. We had enough to hold us over, and then it was time to hit the town!

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Casey took us out to the beach bars for some drinks and yes, there was dancing! This lucky girl lives right near the beach, just over the bridge and down two blocks!

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We spent Saturday a little tired & drowsy, but we made it to the beach. It was a beautiful day, just not nice enough for bathing suits! After a long day of walking, beaching, and mostly napping, it was time to celebrate National Margarita Day! Casey works at On The Border and they were having $1 Margaritas! We started with happy hour there. Guacamole live was a necessity! We finished the night at Tower 7, Casey’s favorite place for Mexican food & Margaritas! I got the steak fajitas. We all cleared our plates and were home by 9 for a much needed nights sleep!

The Basics

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On Sunday, Jenna headed back to High Point University after a delicious brunch at The Basics. The Basics is in downtown Wilmington, which is an adorable and quant part of Wilmington! Casey got the Quiche special, which looked delicious!

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I got the Carolina Cobb Salad, without blue cheese. I saw someone eating this when I walked in and it looked so fresh so I had to get it!

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Jenna got the Spinach Feta Grill. I was so jealous! This meal was a thick cut toasted baguette with poached eggs, creamy spinach, artichoke and feta. Biscuit on the side, of course!

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We spent the next few hours at Port City Java, where scenes from We Are the Millers was filmed! Jenna left us to do homework. I, unfortunately, had a paper to write, and Casey had some exams to study for. After our homework was finished, we went on a run and got ready to go to the airport for my 5 o’clock flight back to Ohio!

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The struggle is usually so real at places like airports for people with “dietary needs” like me. Luckily, Wilmington had a local eatery right in it’s airport! The women who helped me explained where their meat was from, and that it had no fillers! I got a burger with onions and mushrooms over lettuce. I covered that thing in ketchup, as if we’re surprised.

I hope you enjoyed my food review on Wilmington & Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina! Stay tuned for a Foodies Tour of New York City after my trip this weekend!

Yours Truly,

Stef

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IIFYM, Eat Clean, Paleo – What’s Next?

I recently got a little made fun of for my “Clean Eating” mantra, which inspired me to briefly go over what it means to #eatclean. So there are a million different ways of eating out there, and I’ve tried a few of them.

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I started dieting with an IIFYM approach. At the time, I had no idea that I was even following this fad. For those of you who are out of the loop, IIFYM stands for If It Fits Your Macros. I don’t like to get all scientific, but this ones science. You need a caloric deficit, Calories in, calories out, yadda yadda… “science”. Anyways, IIFYM promotes flexible dieting. It is a GREAT approach for beginner dieters, and those who are just starting their journey towards awesomeness. ¬†IIFYM was the main reason I was so successful with my weightloss journey. I counted my calories on an app called My Net Diary. In my About Me, I listed a few foods I ate that helped me get in the groove and drop a few pounds. Because I wasn’t completely restricted to chicken and broccoli, dieting became fun. I have undiagnosed OCD, and my diet was something I had complete control over, and I liked that. I fit Special K cereal into my diet, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and a healthy serving of pasta and chicken for dinner, all as long as it fit into my available macronutrients! I was not limiting myself, but I was controlling my portions and measuring serving sizes to make sure I was on track. Paleo people cringe at the thought of IIFYM. That’s because it technically allows processed foods, dairy, gluten, anything and everything. If you really wanted, you could have a pop tart for dinner. If it fits your macros. Fitness competitors also use IIFYM to make “gains” in their off season. From my research (brought to you by Instagram, Twitter, etc), IIFYM seems to be commonly used by those with an already fast metabolism and those who are just discovering the calorie counting process and benefits of changing your diet. It seems that many people start with IIFYM, and move on to a cleaner diet eventually when they want to reach some serious goals. Though IIFYM is often abused, I have no negative thing to say about this diet strategy because it is all about what works for you. If Pop Tarts and Reeses get you to where you need to be, so be it.

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And this is where my thoughts collide. I’ve recently been trying to find a balance in my diet and mind about food. As I said before, I started with an IIFYM approach. Now, I often find myself cringing at the thought of processed foods. Not to mention, I am gluten and dairy intolerant, so IIFYM would make me just as limited. So yeah, you’re following science. You might be eating chicken and veggies for lunch, but Reeses and ice cream for dinner. Ah! Filling your body with chemicals you can’t even pronounce? You might be fitting in your calories, but your insides are not thanking you. There is actual research that proves that these foods are poisonous to your body. They are also very addictive, as well as chemically made. Not real food.

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So you opt for a bowl of cereal instead of a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Yeah, they might have the same macronutrients, but there are more cons than pros. One including, those processed foods increase your serotonin levels (I’m talkin’ science, people). Serotonin causes you to be drowsy, tired, and lazy. When I follow my #eatclean way of eating, which is as close to Paleo as possible, everything gets better. And yeah, I mean everything. I feel energized. My skin shines, my hair looks healthier, my thoughts are positive and clear, and my body just feels right. But also, who the hell can eat one serving of Reeses cereal without going for round two? Not me. Reeses are the bomb dot com. Anyways, what I was trying to mention in the top of this paragraph was that I’m trying not to be so gosh darn anal about what I put in ¬†my body. Yes, it’ll help me in the long run, but sometimes you have to throw your chicken and broccoli out the window and stop at Taco Bell. Also, nobody wants to go out to eat with someone who isn’t going to eat. For example, Friday night we went to a Burlesque show at one of my favorite local restaurants, Jackie O’s. They have an unbelievable gluten free menu. I was wondering all week about what I was going to eat there, because I am really trying to follow my plan! There’s a difference between a healthy lifestyle and trying to lose weight. When you’re trying to lose weight, you can’t throw out your chicken and broccoli for Taco Bell. It is important to follow your diet to the best of your ability, your body will thank you later.

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I thought maybe I would just eat dinner before we went, but then I thought about how not fun it would be watching everybody chow down on pizza. They have burgers, so I ordered the morning burger, which is a burger with an egg on top! No bun, no cheese. And yeah, I ate the chips, thanks Chardonnay.

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Okay, back to clean eating. Clean eating doesn’t mean you spray your food with windex. Clean eating means you opt for food with as little ingredients as possible.

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I started getting into the #eatclean fad when Instagram became more popular. Sophomore year I would follow all these profiles with great clean eating recipes that looked delicious. I was in the dorms, so I started #eatingclean with the best of my ability. Our market at school sucked. There were no fresh fruits, veggies, or meats. So I bought what I could at the market and the rest at the grocery store. When I went to the dining hall, which wasn’t that often, I would get a salad or a deli sandwich on wheat bread. I was lucky if they had chicken and brown rice. In my dorm room I would have oatmeal for breakfast, or Smart Start cereal with added FiberOne cereal and fruit. I also got egg beaters and microwaved them with broccoli and would make sandwiches with those Whole Wheat Flat Out wraps and thins. ¬†I was obsessed with Wasa Crackers and the Laughing Cow Cheese wedges. I would spread those on the Wasa crackers with some Deli Turkey meat and have a baggie of carrots and broccoli for lunch. My snacks were apples, veggies, bananas, or granola bars. I was trying to follow a low-fat diet at the time, so I didn’t have peanut butter as much. But when I did I would make peanut butter and banana sandwiches. For dinner I would have the One Minute Ready Rice cups, with microwavable chicken and veggies. I steamed my veggies by putting them in a microwavable bowl with water for about five minutes.

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My body slowly started craving more fresh foods, and by junior year I was in full force with my clean eating lifestyle. Not to mention, I actually had a kitchen to cook in. Perks. So I started really cooking for myself my junior year. Breakfast was omelets, with Feta cheese! (Oh how I miss cheese sometimes) Sometimes I just had oatmeal or yogurt with granola. That was before I got into putting protein in almost every meal. For instance, sometimes for dinner I’d have soup and salad. Sometimes the salad would have a protein in it, sometimes it wouldn’t. I still would enjoy a nice sandwich every now and then (I may or ¬†may not have just started drooling because I really want a sandwich now, it’s the little things). ¬†My junior year is also when I started getting a lot more into Crossfit and lifting. I was gaining a little muscle and getting stronger without even realizing it. I started researching how to eat for performance, and started eating like an athlete. For instance, I started making protein and vegetables my main focus, and keeping carbs involved for performance and recovery.

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Once I started noticing the gains I was making from Crossfit, I couldn’t stop! And that’s how I got into Paleo.¬†Somehow, Crossfit and Paleo are paired up. After my research (also brought to you by Instagram, Twitter, etc) I now realize that most crossfit athletes don’t even eat a Paleo diet. Anyways, I grew a girl-crush on Juli Baurer’s PaleOMG website, and really thought Paleo would help me lose weight!

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You figure if you’re eating meats and veggies, nuts and seeds, fruit and fish, and healthy fats, you would lose weight, fast! Well I didn’t exactly lose weight. I’ve heard of many successful weightloss stories from the Paleo diet, but my results were not consistent and I learned that it was not for me. My body changed though. I realized what it actually felt like to be happy, mentally and physically. My physique changed. My booty lifted, my shoulders broadened. I started to actually look like I at least worked out from time to time. (Which is all why my diet is still mostly Paleo, anyway) Any fitness nerd has that goal in mind. You want everyone to see how hard you work, and your body is a reflection of that. I think that’s my biggest frustration with my body. I kill my workouts, but my stubborn body is not giving me the results I KNOW I can get. Hence my recent diet change. I’m putting everything I know that has worked together. Lifting, HIIT, Cardio, a clean diet, a meal plan, counting calories, and a few moderate treat meals here and there! I know that I have accomplished a lot, and I am more than proud of myself for doing so! I’m hopefully on the road to the body that I have worked so hard for.

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I know I’ve mentioned this a million times throughout my blog, but I can’t stress this enough. It’s not what you’re friends are doing, not what your instagram idol is doing, and sometimes… it’s not even 100% what your nutritionist is telling you to do. It’s what works for you. You have to be well rounded. You aren’t going to get anywhere by depriving yourself, but you also aren’t going to get anywhere by constantly rewarding yourself with food. I’ve shot and missed a million times, and eventually you start knowing your body better than any advice column can tell you.

Yours Truly,

Stef

Paleo Pesto Coconut Tilapia

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Coat 6 4 oz Tilapias in homemade (or not) Pesto.

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Put about 1/2 cup coconut flour and two tablespoons of shredded coconut on a plate.

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Lather your tilapia in the coconut.

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Repeat for all six pieces of tilapia. Put a thin layer of leftover pesto on top of the tilapia, and sprinkle coconut. I added a small amount of olive oil and salt to the top of this before I cooked it. Cook on 350 for about 15 minutes and enjoy!