Snow Day in Portland

Recently Chris and I decided we’d take a day trip up to Portland, ME. It’s about a 2 hour drive from where we are and Chris just got a new car so he’d been dying to drive it around a bit.

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Not including a slight detour for some lunch, it took us about 2.5 hours to get there because what we thought was a snow sprinkle turned out to be windy, freezing rain for most of the day. But that didn’t deter us!

The way I like to experience a new place is to plan a few things ahead of time, but leave lots of flex room for walking around and changing my mind.

Chris and I were both a bit sleepy after lunch (thanks, pasta) so our first stop in Portland was Bard Coffee.

I got a standard coffee and Chris got a fancier one that they gave to him on a tray. The interior had a sort of minimalist vibe with high ceilings and simple furniture, which was balanced out by a really cool wallpaper print.

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They also had non-dairy milk available for no extra charge, which is always a plus in my book. The weather outside was more severe than it was in Boston so a hot coffee was just what we needed.

Word for the wise: don’t wear heeled booties to Portland in the winter. I didn’t even think twice about it when I left the house because there wasn’t a speck of snow on the ground in Boston but Portland had whole streets shut down because of the snow and ice.

After finding to our dismay that we would not be doing a walking tour of Portland, we got in the car and headed over to a place called The Holy Donut, which we were told by friends we couldn’t miss out on. Luckily, by the time we got there there were still some donuts left.

The donuts, which are made with potatoes, were unlike any I had tried before. It was somewhat later in the afternoon so the donuts had been sitting out for a number of hours and I didn’t want to set my expectations too high.  They were still amazing. I expected them to be hard and stale but they were a magnificent combination of fluffy and crispy.

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There were also some interesting flavors that I had never tried on a donut before. We got one of everything they had left: Churro, Maple, Lemon, Pomegranate, Chocolate, and Wild Berry. My favorite was the lemon. It didn’t have that super sweet lemon-like flavor, but more of a mouth puckering meringue taste.

The shop’s interior was very much no-frills with old coolers and furniture but it almost gave it an authentic old school feeling.

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Note my poor shoe choice

Our next stop was slightly outside Portland but was one Chris had been excited about all day: The Maine Beer Company. We were worried the tasting room would be closed because of the storm, like so many other places but we called ahead to make sure.

Maine Beer Co.’s Peeper Ale is a beer that I’ve only noticed in the Boston area in the last 8 months or so but it, along with other MBC beers have really become popular. Aside from having good, sustainable beer, Maine Beer Co. also donates a portion of its profits to environmental and animal charities, hence its slogan: “Do What’s Right”. A beer after my own heart, I tell ya.

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Chris and I wanted to try all of the beers so we decided to split their $18.00 variety flight. They had a few board games available to guests so Chris taught me Texas Hold Em while we sampled and read about the beer. Side note: You’ll never find me at a table in Vegas.

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We started to get hungry so we finished up and made a quick stop before heading to dinner at the LL Bean Store. I always knew LL Bean was from Maine so I was expecting a pretty big store. I was wrong. It was an entire LL Bean campus. There was every LL Bean product you could think of. Fortunately for my wallet, neither of us felt much like shopping so Chris snagged a quick picture with the boot and we headed out.

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Our last stop of the day was a highly recommended spot called Duckfat. It was a cozy little restaurant with craft sodas and awesome food. Chris and I shared an order of poutine (the small was big enough for 2 to share) and a cup of their lentil soup for starters.

For an entree I got a roasted delicato squash panini with pickled cauliflower, turnip & leak slaw, boursin, and brown butter-sage mayo. It was refreshing to see a more interesting vegetarian option than the standard veggie burger or caprese sandwich that you usually find in restaurants. Chris got the house smoked turkey panini wit buttermilk fried shallots, swiss, frisee, and herb mayo. His was good but we both like the squash sandwich best.

Satisfied and full, we wrapped up our left overs and headed home. For a cold, wet day it was still a pretty successful trip. I’d love to see the city again in the summer.

 

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Citrus Wheatberry Salad

Sometime a few weeks ago I stumbled across this recipe and thought “that looks doable.” It’s easy, interesting, healthy, and something I would be willing and able to whip up after a long day.

Of course, I didn’t quite remember all the ingredients for the original recipe at the grocery store but I think my version came out just fine.

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I figured that it would be a good lunch side but I’ve found myself having it for breakfast on a number of occasions. I’m not usually a fan of pasta salad and its variations, but I love the chewiness of the wheat berries and the fruit keeps it from being too heavy.

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I used feta in this, but if keeping away from dairy, I think it would still be delicious without the cheese. I think a scoop mixed in to a bed of arugula and red onion would be excellent.

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Ingredients:

1 cup wheat berries uncooked
1 grapefruit
2 clementines – (orange and the like is interchangeable here I think.)
A handful (ish) crumbled feta
Parsley, salt, pepper.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Cook the wheat berries per instruction.

Meanwhile, peel fruit, cut grapefruit into bite size pieces and place in the oven for 30~ minutes, or until you see some blistering. I broiled mine at the end for about 10 minutes to add a little char.

In a bowl, mix wheat berries, feta, fruit, and a pinch of salt, pepper, and parsley. I created a dressing out of red wine, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sugar, but I think with the fruit juices it could be fine with out dressing or just a splash of apple cider vinegar and oil. I hope you like it!

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Berry Banana Bread & Work Day Lunches

When it comes to cooking, I tend to use recipes as more of a suggestion. I think it’s a combination of never having all the right ingredients, not wanting to refer back to a recipe when I’m covered in goop, and always looking for short cuts. Maybe that means I’ll never be a gourmet chef, but I stay well fed and don’t spend too much time doing the dishes so it’s all fine by me.

I also believe there’s some truth in the principle of simplifying your way to healthy. The fewer ingredients, the closer to nature. Or something like that. Admittedly I’m kind of a skeptic when it comes to processed foods so I like dishes that don’t have too many processed ingredients and are easy to remember. (I could just be lazy.)

Yesterday I took a look around my kitchen and decided to make Berry Banana Bread. The majority of it is made up of fruit, so it doesn’t dry out and it’s not too bad as far as sweets go. Here’s how I made it — follow my recipe – or do your own thing. This is a judgement free-blog. 🙂

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Ingredients:
– 4 over ripe bananas
– 1 big handful of fresh blueberries
– 1 handful (5-ish) ripe strawberries
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1/2 whole wheat flour (that’s all I had. You can use whatever flour your heart desires.)
– 1 egg
– 1 tbs coconut oil

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
2. Mash and mix all the ingredients together in a big mixing bowl.
3. Pour into a greased pan. (I used an 8X4 bread pan but I had a bit of trouble with a runny middle so I’d suggest something more spread out.)
4. Cook for 40~ minutes. Check in about half way through and see how things are going. Adjust accordingly.
5. Let cool and enjoy so much that you check my blog religiously for updates

While the bread was baking and the kitchen was still a mess I prepped my breakfast and lunch for the next day. I personally can’t eat right when I wake up so I pack my breakfast and eat at work – usually 2-2.5 hours after I get up.

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Most days I just have fruit for breakfast. Sometimes I have fruit and a smoothie. (Coffee goes with out saying.) Here in the bottom container I have 2 clementines, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 kiwi, 1 grapefruit, and 5 strawberries. I always try to eat a variety and I buy whatever’s in season.

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I know what some of you are thinking. All that fruit every day? That’s so much sugar! It’s got to be fattening. I don’t like the idea of diets or too many rules with eating but one thing I’ve stuck with is that I will never limit myself when it comes to fruit and veggies. They are so full of vitamins and nutrients and I’ve never had any problems bingeing on the good stuff.

I always eat my fruits and veggies before the rest of my meal and not only do I fill up on the healthiest ingredients first, but I’ve also found that eating more fruit has totally kept my sweet tooth in check. If you want to know more about the benefits of eating fruit for breakfast, I would highly recommend checking out the book The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder.

I usually have lunch a little after noon. For this one I made a cucumber, avocado and tomato sandwich with tomato basil hummus, on a roll. A new grocery store opened up right by my apartment and the bakery is located right by the front door so I’ve started buying the freshly baked (super cheap) bread and I haven’t looked back since. I highly recommend the switch.

In addition, I packed 2 grapeleaves (photographed with breakfast,) which I picked up from the deli and some multi-grain tortilla chips – ’cause I like a little crunch with my lunch.

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I can’t say that I’m perfect but I do my best to stay meat and dairy free during the day and pack in as many fresh ingredients as I can. That way, when I come home exhausted and finish a whole loaf of berry banana bread in one sitting, I don’t feel as bad. 🙂

Hope you all have a wonderful week! Don’t forget to find me on instagram: @theastcoaster