A Proper High Tea, Part 2

I’m continuing my notes on a tea!

My favorite by far part of a high tea is by far the sandwiches. I think it’s easy to wrongly get intimidated that somehow tea sandwiches are a ton more work. They’re not. Two things can turn any sandwich into a tea sandwich: cut off the crust and make it a small size.

Either cut your sandwiches into squares, diagonal or get a little fancy and use a circular cookie cutter!

My go to is cucumber; my tip is use Boursin, then just cucumber and dill. I also love smoked salmon; I used marble rye and then cream cheese and smoked salmon. And finally I found this recipe. The trio was an excellent mix!

I also made the cucumber and chicken salad sandwiches on keto bread from Aldi; I liked saving some calories without sacrificing flavor!

As I mentioned before, I’m not a big sweets person. I therefore have no desire to bake. It’s also a thought to serve smaller sized desserts. I’m a big fan of the dessert selection at Trader Joe’s; there’s so much to choose from and most of it’s the ideal smaller size!

Throwing a tea is definitely more work and requires a bit of planning, but it’s a special and memorable thing!

A Proper High Tea, Part 1

We went to tea at The Drake a few weeks ago. It was…mediocre. Which really saddened me; I love a tea and wanted to share that love with Kevin so I was disappointed.

I started going to proper high teas as a child. I lived in London for 6 months not to mention have vacationed there many times, my 27th birthday was a tea downtown with my friends…so yea, I think I know my way around a good tea.

There’s also a logistical side of a tea that’s hard post-surgery. I don’t have stellar fine motor skills, so lots of spreading things, cutting things and handling fine china is tough.

I’m not a penny pincher, but many high teas are $60+ a person. It’s depressing to pay so much for a so-so experience.

Because of all this I decided I could probably organize a high tea better than most.

We’ll start, obviously, with the tea itself. Tea really should be it’s own post topic; there are so many ways to do it really proper. The down and dirty tip though are use loose leaf over bagged. If you’re using bagged tea yet calling it a high tea…oof.

I pretty quickly decided a high tea in summer needed iced tea. I made both plain, decaf English breakfast and a fun fruity herbal tea. And I stirred in a little edible glitter for some pizzaz!

I’m not a big sweet fan; I much prefer a more savory approach. My favorite English tea is at Fortnum & Mason, and one of the biggest reasons is you get to pick sweet or savory.

This plays out in the scones (pronounced like “gone” not “cone”); savory is more like zucchini or cheddar cheese biscuits, versus sweet like dried fruit, chocolate chip or just plain. Personally, I find the extras that are expected with sweeter scones (lemon curd, clotted cream and jam) to be too much….but some people love it! I think a big part of why places can justify the higher price point is that their spread includes all these scone extras. Especially for an at home tea, make it easier for yourself and go savory.

I’ll chat sandwiches and desserts on Thursday!


I love cookbooks. Probably since I appreciate food, I just love admiring them. I have many, and I know there’s no way I could realistically make every dish, but I really enjoy having a collection. I absolutely consider reading a cookbook like reading a novel in terms of counting towards my books read in a year. My criteria are reading all intros, pantry lists, etc. and looking at every recipe, reading the blurb that proceeds the recipe.

I have a few favorites, most are cooks I love whose books I always buy their books when they are released. In no order my musts:

Celebrity Cooks

Gwyneth Paltrow: yup. Laugh, but GP knows her stuff. My favorite is My Father’s Daughter because she doesn’t write health conscious but her others like It’s All Good have yummy recipes too.

Chrissy Teigen: another eye roll but again, girl can cook. Both Cravings cookbooks are wonderful but if I had to pick one I’d pick the first one.

Specific Diets

Vegan: a vegan diet does not suit my system 100% of the time but I do like incorporating some into my cooking. My pick is anything Ella Mills. I recommend Deliciously Ella but all her books are great.

Whole 30: I’m really into the Whole 30 way of eating. There are some great cookbooks to get you started!


Kevin knows me and as such has bought me many cookbooks. But the by far best one is Healthier Together. Everything we’ve tried out of it has been delicious and we have some staples now from there including an amazing risotto recipe; possibly best present ever.

The Flavor Bible isn’t so much a cookbook but something every cook needs. It tells you what flavors pair together for any ingredient, making it essential for creating your own dishes.

What are your go to books?

Hunger: Canned Pumpkin

Picking this series back up. I first did this general post then one on lentils.

I love canned pumpkin! It’s healthy, rich in vitamin A and full of fiber and low calorie. It’s cheap; at Aldi it’s $0.89 a can (Glen gets it in his meals so we stock up). And it’s versatile, a great addition to smoothies, oatmeal or soups like this one I love to make!

Pumpkin, Barley and Sage Soup

Start to finish: 30 minutes

8 ounces cooked sausage links, cut into coins

1 small onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. snipped fresh sage

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 cup quick cooking barley

1 tsp. chicken bouillon granules

1 15 ounce can pumpkin

! Tbsp. maple syrup

1 Tbsp. cider vinegar

Granny Smith apple

In a saucepan cook sausage, onion and sage in hot vegetable oil over medium heat, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add barley, 4 cups of water, and bouillon granules and bring to boiling. Reduce to a simmer and cook 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in pumpkin, maple syrup, vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with sliced apple on top.

Just make sure you buy pure pumpkin versus pumpkin pie mix which is full of sugar and additives!

Whole30: Days 27-30 and Reintroduction

Like I said here, I figured out pretty early my food freedom means a shorter, like 10 day, reset. That made this quite difficult; I knew I wanted to examine how food impacts me with the reintroduction phase but I also knew what was worth it (coffee creamer, booze).

I wanted to do this primary to help identify foods that negatively impact me. But although I planned to do the reintroduction as prescribed (10 days) towards the end like Day 29 I was heavily looking forward to all the forbidden foods. I decided while I’d still single out food groups to reintroduce, if something wasn’t affecting me I’d move on to the next thing versus waiting a few days. I also was careful to take into account plans and to still eat Whole30 to not then feel sick for example before a workout.

Very interesting I learned I’m sensitive to grains, gluten or not. I can eat them but the amount versus what else makes up the meal determines if I then have digestive issues. I’m not NOT going to eat grains, but sometimes it’s a smarter decision to restrict or avoid them in a meal.

Whole30 is a serious commitment. I’ve done it 5 times, to varying degrees of success. I have a few top tips:

-You must plan and prepare. To the point of over-preparing. This is crucial, otherwise you’ll fail. It’s as simple as that.

-Pre-Whole30, make and freeze compatible food. You will have times where you’re starving and you will need something you can eat.

-On that note, buy snacks that are compatible. Meat sticks, almonds. You’re supposed to try to not snack but if you’re hungry you gotta eat!

-Every meal doesn’t need to be an Instagram shot. Sometimes you’ll eat two hard boiled eggs, some cold compatible sausage and fruit, be perfectly full and can move on (this was my go to out of town hotel breakfast).

Whole30 is a lot about non-scale successes; think clear skin, less joint pain and better sleep. I personally did not have any of those; I think because I was pretty healthy before. Whole30 is NOT about losing weight but it is a nice side bonus. I lost 5 pounds; I honestly expected a bit more like 7-10.

Overall I’m happy I did it and had some huge breakthroughs which made it worth it!

Whole30: Days 13-26

I read the book Food Freedom; I cannot recommend this enough. The biggest point I liked is it’s understood everyone’s food journey is cyclical. You reset and do your reintroduction (like Whole30), feel great, implement your food freedom, start to slide, identify you want to tighten your diet up, so you reset again.

It’s said as you reset more, you may not need as long a reset. This really rung true for me; personally I can accomplish what I want in 10 days (see this as proof).

Kevin and my mom pointed out that the last two times I’ve done Whole30 I’ve been insanely busy with work which kept my mind off what I couldn’t eat.

Overall it’s been going very well. I’ve moved into the acceptance phase, knowing I can have these things soon. On day 12 I did have an issue; I had some celery in my lunch which kicked off a weekend of digestive distress. I made this worse by having side salads with lunch. I’ve never had this issue before, but I’ve concluded I’m sensitive to raw veggies and am trying to avoid them.

As I said it’s been no biggie but on St. Paddy’s Day…


Let me explain.

During my workout session one of my trainers and the owner of Movement Revolution Eric said he brought in donuts and would cut me off a piece. I thought “ok I’ll bring it home and freeze it.” Well. Afterwards he gave it to me and shared it was from Do-Rite Donuts aka my favorite donut place.

There’s a few things I beyond love. The Royals, spinach, mushrooms, Survivor, pizza…and donuts. I lose my mind when it comes to donuts. I did not break but man this tested my willpower.

On Day 18 I brought in a secret weapon: bacon. It makes EVERYTHING taste better. So that’s where I’m at.

I’m eager to be done and for sweetened coffee creamer.

Eating Tips

I have a very personal post in draft about weight that I’ll finalize soon. I do in the meantime have some general tips, building on this post.

If you’re like me and like many, you’re borderline obsessed over your weight. I get it, I do. I’ve learned a lot, both from my recovery and just from being a healthy eater. Below are some of my top tips:

-Eat slow. I said it my other post but it’s important. Pre-surgery I would describe myself as a fast eater. Recovery has forced me to slow down; I physically cannot eat fast. Because of this I’ve become aware of just how fast some people eat and frankly just grossed out at how some people wolf down their food like they haven’t eaten in weeks.

And it’s so true; your body does take time to register as full. I can speak from experience of times I took a smaller portion or passed on something and felt completely full and satisfied when I was done. You can always take seconds. Be kind to your body and give it a chance to feel full first though.

-Every day is different. Last week there was one afternoon where I wanted to eat all the things. Some days I’m content with the standard three meals. Some mornings I wake up ravenous and others I go hours before feeling hungry. Listen to your body!

-Stop drinking pop. Seriously, you’re putting pure shit in your body. Regular pop is just full of sugar. Diet has crazy additives. Break this stupid habit; it’s beyond worth the effort. Do you drink it for the…

Taste? Make a spritzer with sparkling water and fruit juice.

Bubbles? Switch to seltzer.

Caffeine? This I sympathize with if you don’t like coffee or tea. There are lots of adjacent options like chai and matcha that taste totally different. However, this might be a good opportunity to explore a caffeine free life.

Also I heard about this. Now listen. I’m a believer in ginger ale if your stomach is urpy, or a regular Coke if you’re feeling the start of a cold. But those are unusual cases. If you’re drinking pop daily, STOP.

-It’s not about a number. We’re so obsessed with a number but that’s not what matters. I’ve bought a bigger size because it fit better. Was it a mind fuck because society teaches us to be a smaller size? Yes. Did I look good versus obviously squeezing into a too small size? Also yes.

Plus muscle weighs more than fat. #provenscience. So being strong means you may be at a higher weight. Should you sacrifice strength for skinniness?

We put an unnecessary amount of stress on ourselves over eating. Everyone should chillax and just try to be the best version of you. That really is enough.

Why I’m Doing Whole30

I first did Whole30 in November of I think 2014. It did not go well. I ate things that were borderline ok like sweet potato chips, I snacked a ton (allowed but not ideal) and I don’t think I made it the full 30 days. I’ve since done it 3 more times, each better than the last.

Whole30 is as hard or as easy as you make it. The key to success is to plan, to an annoying detail. You do not want to be caught hungry with nothing you can eat.

The hardest part is navigating the eating commitments away from home so now’s a perfect time! Eating out is hard because you’re not preparing your food; it’s so easy for a non-compatible oil to slip in.

Personally, my body responds very well to eating this way; I’ve eaten vegan and I don’t get the same results.

I’m a pretty healthy eater, but I like doing a Whole30 to reset my system. Sometimes I go a bit off the rails; lately I’ve been boozing more than I’d like and filling my love of pizza a little too much.

A big part of Whole30 is the post reintroduction phase. I’ve botched this in the past, but it’s so important because your system is purged of these things already. I think I have a very mild case of IBS; I’ve noticed meals that are majorly pasta or rice based make me feel uncomfortable. If these things are more just a part of a dish, like pizza which also has the sauce, cheese and toppings or like toast with my breakfast I seem to be ok. This’ll be a good experiment though.

I’m starting my Whole30 March 1st.

My Personal Cause: Hunger

Historically I’ve personally been passionate about animals. I’m not knocking people, that’s just not where my passion is.

I used to volunteer for PAWS; I stopped because honestly it was too hard for me to be around dogs but know I couldn’t have one. Glen was adopted from a shelter and when I donate it’s to animal groups. And I’ve adopted an elephant; I’ve been doing this for years.

But recently I was watching the inauguration concert and they talked about hunger in America. It’s a serious problem that’s not really shared. I cannot even begin to say how much this fired me up. I absolutely hate being hungry so this really triggers me.

It’s tough right now with Covid and personally mostly what I can do is donate. One year for work we volunteered at the Greater Chicago Food Depository. It was an easy day; you start off with a brief how to then you get to work. There’s people who work there who are there to explain things to you. We sorted potatoes that day; it was so fun to spend the day talking while working with my coworkers. I definitely would volunteer there again.

How often do we hear about a food drive and go buy the cheapest options, or just using cleaning out the pantry as an excuse to donate to a food pantry? It really pains me that giving food means unhealthy because it’s cheaper. EATING HEALTHY IS NOT EXPENSIVE. Yes obviously there’s fancy “healthy” things that are stupid pricey. But are fresh fruits and veggies expensive? Lentils? Canned pumpkin? And by shopping sales and using coupons…it’s more work but a great way to slash your grocery bill.

I’m starting a new series, featuring recipes that are cheap and healthy. I might push it off a bit; I’m doing Whole30 in March so it may be difficult to look at food I can’t eat. My hope is to share better, healthier but still cheap things to donate.

Also please share ways beyond donating that you know of to help battle hunger in America.

Diet For 2021

Every year people resolve to get healthy. We’d get annoyed at my studio since it was so crowded but we knew it would thin out come March. Having January-March be my work busy season worked out because I would basically stop going to studios to avoid crowds.

I’ve always been a healthy eater; in preschool my teacher called me red pepper girl because I brought red peppers as a snack. Honestly if you’re a shitty eater that won’t change January 1st; you’ll be back to eating crap a few weeks in. Let me offer some advice, from both living a healthy lifestyle and from my recovery:

Find what works for YOUR body. I don’t do good eating vegan but respond well to Whole 30. It’s tough AF which is why I don’t eat that way all the time but I like it occasionally.

Slow the fuck down! Recovery really slowed my eating and it’s true, you do need to digest. I promise, you do not need as much food as you think you do. This is a game changer. You can refill your plate if you’re still hungry.

Listen to your body. I used to, mostly because of work, eat a full breakfast before I left the house. Now, especially if we don’t have to be somewhere, I’ll poke around in the mornings and not eat until I’m hungry.

Get those veggies! I have found the key is getting them in all day, starting with breakfast. A big plate of scrambled eggs with veg in them, or live the smoothie life. I’ve been known to nuke spinach and eat it on an English muffin.

You can (and should) eat what you want and never feel guilty. I regularly eat pizza and recently had Chic Fil A for lunch, but I also go #beastmode every Movement Revolution session. Sure I could lose 10 pounds but I love food too much and I choose to not be hungry. I don’t feel bad about that.