Sweet Potato Nachos (AIP/Paleo)

sweet potato nachos (AIP/Paleo) » itsmecharlotte.com

Living in a new city is a such a fun, adventurous experience…especially when it is your first time actually living in a city. I grew up in the suburbs, twenty minutes outside of San Francisco. While we would go up to the city often, I never had the full on city experience. My childhood was sprinkled with week long stays at my Godmother’s house in pacific heights. Even then, though, it was only a glimpse into the lifestyle. Moving from Eugene to Portland has been the best ever. Kristian and I can’t get over how much there is to do. Everytime we venture out, we are blown away by how many nieghborhoods and cute streets we didn’t know about, despite visiting often over the past couple of years. Each day, we can be found exploring different parts of the city, working at different coffee shops and jotting down new places to try. These are the super fun parts of moving to a new city. On the less awesome side is not yet having an established friend group…

Sweet Potato Nachos (AIP/Paleo) » itsmecharlotte.comSweet Potato Nachos (AIP/Paleo) » itsmecharlotte.com

So far, my friends-making-activities have included running into some lovely people who recognized me from my  instagram—that was awesome. It made me feel totally welcomed into the city. I also met up with a lovely family friend over tea this past weekend. Tea dates are totally my favorite.  Another exciting event is Mickey’s book signing  this weekend and I am look forward to connecting with some paleo people there. If you are attending the book signing and recognize me, please come up and say hi. A couple of other friend-making things I am planning for the month of February are:  meeting up with some people who have reached out on Instagram, attending a Ponderosa & Thyme workshop, and doing “follows” with local photographers. The last one is something I am particularly excited about because I have a lot to learn in terms of the photography industry. By the way, do you have plans for the Super Bowl? In Eugene, I’d usually just watch big sporting events with a group of friends. While we haven’t made any plans for the superbowl…yet, I know many of you will be watching. So I decided to make you something. NACHOS. Sweet potato nachos. Your welcome!

Sweet Potato Nachos (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients: 

One bag Jackson’s sweet potato chips or one batch Primal Palate sweet potato chips 

One batch avocado crema 

1 pound grass-fed ground beef

1/2 yellow onion, sliced

1 bunch of cilantro, leaves removed and chopped

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 bunch green onion, chopped

1/2 red onion, diced

1 small can of sliced black olives, drained

Lime slices for garnish, optional

Method

Start by making one batch of  avocado crema. Next, prep the veggies. You will need to: thinly slice 1/2 yellow onion, remove the leaves and chop 1 bunch cilantro, thinly slice one bunch of green onion, dice 1/2  small red onion and drain 1 small can of sliced black olives.

Once all the veggies are prepped, heat 1 tablespoon fat of choice (olive oil, tallow, coconut oil, etc.) over medium-high heat and then brown the ground beef on the pan. Once it has started browning, add the sliced yellow onion. Once the meat is cooked through, add 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp sea salt and combine. Turn the heat off and stir in 1/2 of the chopped cilantro leaves. Transfer to serving bowl.

Assemble nachos by starting with the sweet potato chips, then add ground beef. Next, add olives, red onion, green onion. Top with avocado crema and cilantro leaves. If you are doing a DIY nacho bar, just place all of the toppings in small bowls and let guests assemble there own nachos.

sweet potato nachos » itsmecharlotte.com

One Pot Chicken Veggie Soup (AIP/Paleo)

one pot chicken veggie soup » itsmecharlotte.comIt’s sunday morning and the sun has crept through the windowsills, encouraging me to wake up; we forgot to close the blinds the night before. It’s chilly in the house. Sleeping with the windows cracked open is the only way for me; I occasionally regret this decision in the morning. I curl up for a few minutes before slipping my chilled toes into my wool slippers. I wander downstairs. The house is silent. He is still sleeping. I stand basking in the morning light shining through the kitchen window. An urge to do mountain pose overcomes me—lifting my arms up above my head and stretching, reaching for the ceiling. Deep breath. I take my morning supplement protocol and then it’s time to wait for an hour before eating or drinking anything. The joys of medicine. I open the fridge, wondering what to make for breakfast. I spot a beautiful pastured chicken. I forgot about that. I should make that. This is always how it goes with whole chickens in our house. They are our saving grace. I place it in the slow cooker with aromatic veggies, herbs and a bit of vinegar. Filtered water, too…
one pot chicken veggie soup » itsmecharlotte.comone pot chicken veggie soup » itsmecharlotte.comone pot chicken veggie soup » itsmecharlotte.com

…a couple of hours later and we are shamelessly still in our pajamas. But it’s okay, because it’s Sunday—right? I take the whole chicken out of the slowcooker and separate the meat from the bones. Meat goes back in the soup. Bones go in a freezer bag for future broth. It’s a little messy. Oh hell, it’s always a little messy. I ask him if he’s hungry. Without listening to the answer, I hand him a teacup filled with soup. He giggles. What? I reply. They’re new, I say blushing. All to familiar to him. We sit together, eating, chatting, spacing. The sun is tickling our hands, legs, noses—a rare thing this time of year, so I think we’ll stay for a bit longer…

One Pot Chicken Veggie Soup

Ingredients: 

1 whole, organic chicken + giblets

1 celery heart, chopped

6 carrots, chopped

1 fennel bulb, sliced

1 yellow onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 bag frozen peas (AIP re-intro)

2 dried bay leaves

1 bunch parseley

1 bunch dill

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

filtered water

Method:

Place 1 whole chicken in your slow cooker. Make sure to remove the pack of giblets inside the chicken and remove them from their plastic bag. Then go ahead and place them in the slow cooker as well. Top the chicken with carrots, celery, fennel bulb, yellow onion, peeled and crushed garlic, bay leaves and apple cider vinegar. Add enough filtered water to just barely cover the veggies and the chicken. Leave at least 2 inches of space from the top of your slow cooker so the soup doesn’t spill over. Cook on low for 5-6 hours and then remove the chicken from the slow cooker and place on a baking sheet. Let cool. Once you can comfortably handle the bird, remove the meat from the bones. Discard the skin. Place the meat back in the slow cooker. You can put the bones in a freezer bag for a future batch of bone broth. Add 1 bag of peas, 1/2 cup lightly packed chopped parsly and 1/4 cup lightly packed chopped dill to the slow cooker. Add the stalks of your herbs to your freezer bag for future batches of broth. Let cook for another 15 minutes on low, or until peas have thawed. Start by adding 1 tablespoon of real sea salt to the soup. Add more salt as needed depending on your personal taste preference. Garish with more dill and parsely.

one pot chicken veggie soup » itsmecharlotte.com

All-Natural Skin Care Staples

all natural skin-care essentials » itsmecharlotte.comOver the last two years or so, I have made big efforts to detoxify my life of things that were physically, mentally or emotionally weighing me down, so to speak. One of the most exciting and satisfying things I have done is a complete overhaul of my beauty and hygiene routine. I remember when I was in high school, one of my favorite things to do was going to Walgreens to load up on all sorts of cremes, cleansers and ‘miracle products.’ I would literally spend close to one hundred dollars everytime I went on things that I thought would give me better hair, skin and nails. Unfortunatly, my skin continued to breakout, my hair was a dry mess from hot tools and my nails were weak and brittle. What I have learned through the years is that your skin, hair and nails are a reflection of your inner health. Is your hair brittle and thin? Maybe you need to be incorporating more healthy fats into your diet. Are you struggling with acne? You could be intolerant to something you are eating or your hormones could be out of balance. I have learned through trial and error. It also didn’t happen over night. After three years following the nutrient dense paleo diet and over six months following the autoimmune protocol, I finally feel at peace with my skin, hair and nails. While my skin is glowing and acne free these days, I still treat it extremely well by eating skin super foods like fermented vegetables and gelatin rich bone broths. I also take great care to protect my skin from the sun, although it isn’t too hard of a task in Portland, Oregon. Lastly, I have ditched all of the Walgreens wonder products for more effective and truly beautifying, age-old products that help keep my skin clear, soft and glowing. A couple of years ago, I implemented the oil cleansing method for cleansing my face, which ruly changed the texture of my skin for the better. You can read all about the oil cleansing method here.

JOJOBA OIL | a bright and golden liquid oil with properties that are very similar to our own skin’s sebum makes this oil a fabulous choice for oil cleansing, moisturizing and removing makeup. I use jojoba oil in both my morning and nightime routines. For my daytime moistruizer, I use 3-5 drops of the oil with 3 sprays of rose water. I combine both in the palm of my hand and then gently pat it on my face—taking extra care to be gentle with my skin. Give it 5-10 minutes to absorb into your skin before applying makeup, if using. Make sure to buy organic, unrefined jojoba oil if possible. At night, I use jojoba oil to remove makeup and to oil cleanse. I apply 5-8 drops of the oil onto the tips of my fingers and then gently move my finger tips in a circular motion around my face. This helps to promote circulation (think of it like a mini massage) and encourages the dirt you’ve accumulated during the day to loosen from your pores. After 2-3 minutes, I run a washcloth under warm water and then gently use the wash cloth to remove the oil from my face and lightly pat dry with a soft towel.

ROSE WATER | a beautifully fragrant natural facial toner hydrates your skin and helps lessen inflammation. I love using this combined with my jojoba oil as a light moistruizer or on its own as a facial toner. To apply as a toner, I pour a little bit on a cotton pad and use it all over my face. I have found that if you have sensitive skin or any signs of red inflammation, rose water does wonders. Witch hazel is another option that I absolutely love to use as a toner and deeper face cleanser. Just pour a little bit on a cotton pad and use it all over your face to remove dirt and tone the skin. I usually use witch hazel at night, before washing my face to remove any surface layer dirt.

ARGAN OIL | this oil has become very popular over the last couple of years thanks to its amazing moistruizing properties. It comes from Morocco where it is used both internally and topically. This is one of my favorite oils, but do note that it is heavier than jojoba oil and does not sink into the skin as easily, which is why I like to use it as an overnight treatment.  At night, after cleansing my skin with witch hazel and then jojoba oil, I moisturize my skin with argan oil. To use, put 3-5 drops on your finger dips and lightly press oil into your skin.

RAW HONEY | one of my absolute favorite beauty weapons is raw honey; it is an all around miracle for your skin. It is highly-moistruizing, great for those with sensitive or acne prone skin and helps to remove toxic build-up in your skin without harming the natural oils. Cleopatra is rumored to have taken baths in honey because of the amazing healing properties. Honey mask: pour or scoop approximately 1 tablespoon of honey onto your fingertips and then spread onto your skin. It may help to use some water to help smooth the honey onto your skin. Leave mask on for 10-15 minutes and then gently remove with a water wash cloth. Follow up with either jojoba oil or argan oil. Use 1-3 times a week.

CLAY MASK | a staple in cultures all over the world, clay masks help to detoxify your skin. For those with particularly oily or acne prone skin, masks can be particularly helpful. I have found that my skin prefers green or white clays, which are a bit more forgiving and gentle on the skin. I like to use a clay based mask at least once a week. Amazon sells green, white, red and bentonite clay in bulk, which is a great, cost-effective option. Use 1-2 times a week.

LIP BALM | having moistruized and soft lips is something that is important to me. I find that if my lips are dry and crackled, I am more likely to pick at them, so I just prefer to be proactive and protect my lips. Of course there are a million different lip balms and chapsticks out there, but note the ingredients next time you pick one up in the grocery line.; it should have a few ingredients: jojoba oil/coconut oil/shea butter, beeswax, vitamin e, maybe an essential oil. The list shouldn’t be longer than eight ingredients. Protect your lips!

Pork Tacos with Avocado Crema (AIP/Paleo)

pork tacos with avocado crema » itsmecharlotte.com

I have recently discovered something utterly FANTASTIC. Do you want to know what it is? Savoy cabbage. Purple cabbage. Regular old green cappage. Napa cabbage. Yup, all kinds of cabbage are my veggie jam lately. I always associated cabbage with low nutrienty density and something that grandparents would eat a lot of (hi mere!) I have been blown away by the diversity of uses for cabbage…from noodles to taco shells to an excellent stir-fry addition, I can’t get enough. I also like how it is an extremely convenient veggie—one of those that lasts a while in your refrigerator and is super inexpensive. AND DID I SAY THEY MAKE THE BEST TACO SHELLS? One thing that has been missing from my life is awesome tacos. Jicama taco shells just don’t cut it for me, or at least they haven’t yet. While I guest posted on the Whole30 Recipes instagram a couple of months ago, I shared my recipe for my avocado crema, which is out of this world delicious. I am finally getting aroud to sharing it with you here. I like to use NomNom Paleo’s Slow Cooker Kalua Pig to make the shredded pork for the filling of the tacos.

Pork Tacos with Avocado Crema 

Ingredients

1 batch of NomNom Paleo Kalua Pig

1 small avocado

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

 1/4 tsp sea salt + more to reach desired taste preference

1/2 clove elephant garlic  or 2 cloves regular garlic (If you have access to elephant garlic for this, USE IT!)

5 tablespoons water

2-3 savoy cabbage leaves per person

Cilantro for garnish

Method

Combine avocado, EVOO, lime juice, sea salt, garlic and water in a blender and combine. I used a magic bullet and it worked beautifully. Once fully combined, taste and make adjustments for your personal taste preference; you may prefer to add a little extra lime, garlic or sea salt.

For the tacos, place shredded pork inside savoy cabbage leaves, as pictured above. Garnish with a generous helping of avocado crema, lime slices and cilantro.

Homemade Surface Cleaner (DIY)

homemade energy lifter and surface cleaner » itsmecharlotte.comuplifting energy spray and surface cleaner » itsmecharlotte.com

Do you all know Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products? You know, the ones that have super cute packaging and amazing scents? I want to wash my hands a million times a day with their rhubarb soap and spray basil kitchen cleaner all over my house so that the sweet smellsl take over my house. Except one thing, I am actually highly-sensitive to synthetic scents and aromas. Sigh. I can’t wear perfume because I get an immediate headache from all the chemicals. On top of a sensitivity to scents, cleaning products are filled to the brim with chemicals that I don’t really want in my house. So slowly but surely, I have been detoxifying my cleaning products. Baby steps.

There are three big changes we’ve made so far in the New Year. The first is that we switched from tide pods, which I admittedly loved, to Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda—my new obsession. This stuff is so legit and boasts less than five ingredients. It is coconut based and works really well at elminating less than awesome smells. We also switched our lavendar dish soap from trader joe’s to a castile-based soap. I have also implemented more cast-iron into my kitchen (check out this awesome baking sheet) and thus don’t need to use soap to clean those. Lastly, and totally the easiest swap, has been our switch from Mrs. Meyers surface cleaner to my own homemade citrus cleaner, which is JUST AS AWESOME, cheaper and will totally make you feel like a badass because you successfully completed a DIY project unlike these poor souls
I love sweet orange essential oil because the scent is super clean, energetic and smells little bit like happiness in a bottle; it really is supposed to boost your mood! Sweet orange EO is also known to be is antiseptic and has antifungal and antibacterial properties. I love the brand doTERRA for EO’s but I have also heard great things about Young Living brand. If you don’t have sweet orange EO on hand, feel freee to swap it for lavendar, eucalyptus or lemon.
//
What you will need: 
water
Method:
Add 15-20 drops of the essential oil to the glass spray bottle and then fill it to the top with water, leaving about 1 inch of space at the top of the bottle. Lightly combine essential oils and water by flipping the bottle up and down a couple of times. Use as a surface cleaner.
homemade energy lifter and surface cleaner » itsmecharlotte.com

Tostones & Guacamole (AIP/Paleo)

tostones & giacamole (PALEO/AIP) » itsmecharlotte.comExactly one week ago, we arrived in Portland, Oregon, where Kristian and I will be living for the next couple of months. After searching high and low for a temporary living situation, we found that many Airbnb rentals offer long term stays. We found the cutest little loft-style house to rent in the Northeast part of Portland, about 1/2 block from Alberta street. Obsessed would be an understatement. We are loving our city life and have been going to coffee shops, walking to the local co-op and have been exploring all the cute little shops on Alberta. We may never leave. Of course, first things first, we christened our new space with a fresh pot of bone broth annnnd tostones and guacamole. This is actually a really exciting thing because I have been on the outs with bananas and plantains for the last six months. Part of my initial diagnosis included the IgG Food Allergy Test, which gives you insight into which foods your body is confusing as bad foreign invadors. My IgG results indicated many allergies to some of my favorite foods like almonds, eggs…and bananas (and plantains were grouped into this category.) I have started to do reintroductions for the past two months. This process can be scary and uncomfortable because you are supposed to eat foods that previously made you very sick or flare (what happens when autoimmune conditions come alive.) Some reintroductions have gone over with flying colors, others have not. I have successfuly reintroduced: bananas, plantains, cacao, cocoa, white rice, white potatoes, green beans, peas, and mustard. Feeling great about all those introductions. Things that my body did not tolerate well included: coffee, ghee and almonds. I am super intro embracing the reintroductions phase of the autoimmune protocol. I am being super aware of not getting too comfortable in the elimination phase because more foods available means more opportunities for nutrient variety and density. Yay for that! SO anyways, plantains are totally back on the table and the first thing that I made with them was tostones. My beloved tostones…tostones & guacamoles (AIP/Paleo) » itsmecharlotte.comtostones & guacamole  (AIP/paleo)  » itsmecharlotte.comtostones & guacamole » itsmecharlotte.comTostones are  fried plantains and are very popular in South America and the Caribbean Islands. If you are love guacamole and are wondering what a good AIP vehicle for your gucamole is, then tostones are the answer. Without corn, we are pretty much left with raw veggies for dipping, which I actually really enjoy, but sometimes a more carb-o-licious options is more fun and enjoyable. One option is to buy inka plantain chips, which hallloooo are the yummyiest AIP snack. You can dip, scoop and crunch with these guys. The other option is to make your own fried plantains AKA tostones, which are more chewy, dense and delicious, in my opinon. I’ve also wanted to share my personal guacamole recipe for a while. A couple of days ago I posted this on instagram: “I LOVE how everyone has a certain way that they like their guac. My boyfriend reminded me of this while I was gushing about how I make the best guacamole ;) I like mine with tons of lime, crunchy red onion and sea salt // sometimes I will throw in a little garlic, but usually not. I like to dip carrots in my guac and sometimes plantains. How do you like your guac!?!?”…there were at least thirty-five comments about specific guacamole ingredients. The most interesting additions included: worchestire sauce, cumin and juice from the japalpeño jar. Now mine seems boring. JUST KIDDING.

Tostones & Guacamole (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients: 

3 avocados

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp sea salt + more for seasoning tostones

1/4 tsp garlic powder

cilantro

2 green plantains, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ slices

1/4 cup coconut oil

Method:

Start by watching this video on how to peel plantains. It is a little bit silly and you may want to mute it but it is helpful. Once plantains have been peeled, slice them in 1/2″ thick slices. Melt 1/4 cup coconut oil in a skillet (cast iron, preferably) over medium-high heat. Work in batches. Start by frying plantain slices in the coconut oil. Cook for approximately 60-90 seconds, or until they are lightly golden and then flip onto the other side. Remove them from the skillet and place them on a papertowel to absorb some of the excess oil. Use the back of a spatula, cup or anything with a flat service to flatten out and smash the plantains. Once all plantains are smashed, place them back in the oil and cook another 60-90 seconds seconds per side until they are a glistening gold color with brown specks. Remove them from the skillet and immediately sprinkle with a nice flake sea salt like maldon. Repeat process. For the guacamole, combine avocados, red onion, lime juice, sea salt and garlic powder. Taste and adjust to fit your personal taste preferance. Garnish with ciltantro leaves. Serve guacamole with plantain chips and enjoy a blissful snack!tacosalad-9

NYC Gluten-free Gastro Guide

After our last final exams…ever, Kristian and I packed our bags and jumped on a plane to New York City. Post graduation celebrations were in order and we couldn’t think of a better place to eat, drink and be merry than the big apple. Before heading to the City, I did some research to find great spots to eat + reached out to friends to see what places they recommended. To my surprise, eating gluten-free was incredibly easy and tasty to boot. My taste buds were dazzled and I didn’t have any problems with sneaky gluten. I’m sharing some of the places we went to eat, how we rated each restaurant and a little review so that when you are headed to NYC you know which places you can’t miss! I should mention that not only do all of these restaraunts have fabulous gluten-free options available, but paleo and AIP options as well!

nyc-2The Lobster Joint //

Location : Greenpoint, Lower East Side, Rockaway Beach

Charlotte : 8/10
I thought the food was fantastic; it was a great place to kick off our trip. If you are a menu ninja and can locate what is paleo/gluten-free easily, you will have no problem finding a dish that would fit your needs. For gluten-free people, the lettuce wrapped lobster roll, is pretty awesome. It is served with a heaping side of homemade potato chips and an awesome pickle. For those AIPers, there is an awesome citrus-avocado lobster salad that is served over butter lettuce. The downside was that the location was a little bit out-of-the-way and wasn’t in a cute neighborhood; the service wasn’t too great either. Verdict? GO!
Kristian : 7/10
My favorite part was the food—the lobster roll specifically. Least favorite part, if I had to choose, would be the service. And the chairs were awkwardly low.
Location : Union Square, Manhattan
Charlotte : 9/10
I loved the fact we could get clean, tasty and inexpensive food at Hu Kitchen. I always felt safe eating there, with no risk of gluten contamination. Being able to eat mostly everything on the menu was awesome too. If you go, definitely save room for a Mashbowl; it’s like a yogurt bowl loaded with things like seed granola, toasted coconut, kiwi and other delicious fruits with a base made out of yuca root. Another plus was the casual, cafeteria style eating experience. I wish they had locations in all neighborhoods of the city! Verdict? GO! We went three times!
Kristian : 6.5/10
Loved the coffee. Enjoyed the food. Found the environment to be noisy and chaotic.
Location : East Village, Manhattan
Charlotte : 10/10
I straight up LOVED this place. You walk up to a small booth on a busy street only to be greeted by a warm familiar smile. Three different types of hot, nourishing bone broths are available. We ordered the popular Hearth Broth, which is made with chicken, turkey and beef bones. We added garlic. We also ordered Gingered Grass-fed Beef Broth and added turmeric. Both where fabulous but I especially loved the Hearth Broth. If you go, make sure to get that one. I also wish I had ordered a large instead of the medium!!  Verdict? GO!
Kristian : 8/10
My favorite part was definitely the bone broth and the guy behind the counter because he was kind. It seemed like a genuine place; genuinely good intentions to spread health.
NYC Gluten Free Gastro Guide
Location : Soho, Manhattan
Charlotte : 9/10
This was a great place for a cozy lunch with an old friend. We loved it so much, we ended up staying for hours, sipping on endless cups of tea, coffee and eating divinely comforting food. The menu here was filled with gluten but there were some naturally gluten-free options like a fresh fruit salad with honey and mint and the amazing citrus, endive, avocado salad that I ordered, with a side of chicken. May not be safe for Celiacs. It was one of the best meals I had on the entire trip—light, creamy and everything you’d want a salad to be. Definitely suggest going to this place. Verdict? Go!
Kristian : 7.5/10
Loved the atmosphere because of how cozy it was. Definitely had a European feel. It was very packed and crowded in the space.
nyc-15
Location : Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Charlotte : 7/10
The Mast Brother’s have become widely famous as the founders of the American craft chocolate movement. Kristian and I have been huge fans of the packaging design, branding and most importantly, the chocolate, for quite some time. Their chocolate boasts no more than two ingredients in their most basic bar: cacao & cane sugar. Upon walking into the chocolate shop, guests are overwhelmed by the sweet and smoky smells of fresh chocolate. Once you recover from the amazing smell, you will probably be drawn to the long table in the middle of the room with gorgeously packaged chocolate bars. Other than that, there really isn’t much to see. You can get a glimpse at a few guys (and gals) making chocolate, but it isn’t entertaining to watch. Other than that, I was disappointed that there weren’t very many samples. It’s worth going to for the smells and for being in the prime location to check out Williamsburg, which side note, is like Portland in Manhattan. Verdict? Meh.
Kristian : 7.5/10
My favorite part was the smell—it was incredible. I wish that the chocolate making part was more interactive and visible. You’d expect a factory to be transparent and interactive because they are trying to get people to check it out but there was just one table with chocolate bars on it. I still loved going.
NYC gluten-free gastro guide
Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Charlotte : 6.5/10
If smoked meats are your thing, then this is the place for you. I’m pretty sure this was Kristian’s favorite part of our trip. Smoked meats are not my thing. I was set on going after hearing rave reviews from Michelle over at NomNom Paleo and Josh of Slim Palate. It was great food, it was just too heavy for me. I prefer tons of fresh veggies, salads and light fish for lunch, so heavy smoked brisket and ribs were not on my mind. It was a fun place to meet friends and share food together, though. The location was also fantastic—right in the heart of Williamsburg. We enjoyed walking around the neighborhood after lunch, seeing all the cool street art and getting a feel for the neighborhood. Also, don’t freak out and question whether or not the meats were gluten-free after dining. I may have had a mini melt-down, but they are dry rubbed and totally gluten-free. Phew. Verdict? Like smoked meats? Go. Not AIP friendly as it is a night-shade fest!
Kristian : 8.5/10
The food + atmosphere was really fun; I especially liked the long table style of dining. The meat was epic. The sides, not so much. Also, should be noted that we reeked of smoked after leaving the restaurant.
NYC GLUTEN FREE GASTRO GUIDE
Other notable eats included The Butcher’s Daughter, in SOHO, which had wonderful vegetarian fare like smoothies, spaghetti squash carbonara and the ever famous avocado toast available on gluten-free bread. We also loved peeking into the Bedford Cheese Shop in Williamsburg. While I can’t eat cheese these days, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. And the smells. Ohhh. Stinky fabulous cheese. Lastly, Shalom Japan was awesome for an end of the trip, semi-romantic dinner. The Lox Bowl was to die for. If we had more time, we would have gone to The Musket Room and The Glassier, which have great reviews. Next time!

Six Essentials for a Healthy Kitchen

kitchen essentials » itsmecharlotte.com Le Creuset Signature Enamel Cast-Iron 7.25 Quart Round Dutch Oven  ($320)  //  Le Creuset Cast Iron Pan 9-inch/10.25inch  ($130)  // Bamboo Cutting Board  ($30)  //  Vegetable Peeler ($8)  //  7-inch Chef’s Knife ($140)  //  Stainless Steel Slow Cooker ($50)

Hi Charlotte! I’m working on a kitchen wish list before I make an effort to do more home cooking in the new year :) I’m wondering what your “can’t live without” items are in terms of tools and cookbooks (any that cater to dairy and gluten-free would be hugely beneficial!). Would love your expert feedback if you have any! xx

I recently received this question from a friend on my facebook page and I was so excited to answer it that I decided to turn it into a blog post. For me, focusing on eating whole foods has really become part of my efforts to simplify my life. Focus on high-quality meats, fish, veggies, fruits and healthy fats like nuts and seeds. Sleep better, be happier, feel better in your own body. Easy, right? Well, my simplifying efforts have also inspired my kitchen equipment. I only want a few things that are really great-quality that I get a lot of use out of. I hate having an ice cream maker or bread machine sitting in the back of my cabinet; It weighs on me. The items that I have included in this list are ones that I use daily. I often say that if I could take one thing from my house if it was burning down, I’d grab my cast-iron skillet. I was gifted my first Le Creuset cast-iron skillet on my 21st birthday and I have used it every single day ever since. Now, for my birthdays, I get one piece of Le Creuset cookware. My enamel dutch oven has become a favorite as well. In my opinion, Le Creuset is an investment; you will literally have it forever. Other than the Le Creuset pieces, everything is pretty affordable. Think about it, for about $675, you could be totally set and feel very comfortable cooking any meal your heart desired with this simple bunch. Of course there are add-ins like a nice blender, a roasting pan and a spiralizer, but those are second round additions.

 Le Creuset Signature Enamel Cast-Iron 7.25 Quart Round Dutch Oven : this is a must-have pot in any real food kitchen. it is made of durable enamel and is praised for its even heating abilities and high-heat cooking. the material it is made out of is super safe for cooking foods on, unlike other materials used to make cheap pots and pans. you can use this pot for stocks, stews and soups; the beauty of this pot is that you can use it on your stove top, but it can also go into your oven to roast veggies, meats and casseroles. if you like to cook big meals, I would suggest considering the 9 quart rather than the 7.25, which will allow for larger quantities if you have a big family.

Le Creuset Cast-Iron Pan 9-inch/10.25inch : this is my number one. cast-iron skillets are hugely health promoting and is a very safe cooking material. they have amazing non-stick properties. it will take a few days to get the hang of cooking on one of these but it will be well worth it. also, it is important to read about how to maintain a cast-iron skillet; it can’t be washed with soap, but you truly won’t miss it. just use a scrubber brush or a rough sponge to clean it and food comes right off.

 Bamboo Cutting Board: basic. a cutting board is a must in a real food kitchen; more importantly though, a heavy-duty, well-made cutting board is important. those cheap, super thin ones usually warp and splinter after a few months of use. one with “feet” like the one pictured is a good option; ikea also has an awesome XL butcher block that I love.

 Vegetable Peeler: a veggie peeler is a basic necessity for me. I am constantly eating veggies; my plate is usually made up of 75% vegetables and 25% meat so being able to peel root vegetables like sweet potatoes and squashes is a necessity. make sure to buy a really nice peeler because there is nothing more frustrating than a flimsy peeler that doesn’t do its job. I really like OXO in general, but have also heard fabulous reviews of this three pack set.

 7-inch Chef’s Knife: a basic, high-quality chef’s knife will be your best friend, period. instead of opting for a big, expensive knife set, first start with a nice 7-inch knife, which is versatile, sturdy and reliable. I got one for my dad for Christmas. Shun is a really great brand for a quality knife, but I gifted my dad the Wusthof Classic 7-inch Santoku Knife, which is absolutely amazing. The Kitchn has a great article on this knife.

Stainless Steel Slow Cooker : every real food kitchen must have a slow cooker (or the newly popular instapot.) I honestly prefer the slow cooker because I like to throw in a big piece of meat in the morning, leave the house for hours and then arrive later that day to a warm home cooked meal!


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New Year, New Intentions

Florence, Oregon

We spent New Years Eve with our toes in the sand, wind in our hair, breathing in the salty ocean air. It was a cool, clear day on the Oregon Coast, with not a single soul for miles. With no plans for New Years Eve, it was a spontaneous trip. It was the perfect time to reflect on the year and to think about our wishes for 2015. This past year was undoubtably a widely adventurous and life-altering year for me. The highlights included: art directing an award winning magazine, photographing feature stories for a prestigious magazine, being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and graduating college. It has been nothing less than eventful and truly full of the highest highs and lowest lows.

Florence, Oregon

We have spent the first week of the new year hibernating in my family’s mountain house while the wind howls outside. We are in the midst of a move. This move feels very symbolic for this year in general. We are fresh out of college, with little to no responsibilities and as everyone keeps telling us, the world is our oyster. This will not be the last move of 2015. On Monday, we left Eugene, Oregon where we have been for the last four years of our life. That feels like a really long time to be in one place. Now, we are in the high-desert mountains of Bend, Oregon for the week, while we organize and minimize our belongings before heading to Portland for the next few months. Lots of changes. Moving. Packing. Unpacking. We are renting a fabulous tiny space through Airbnb January-March while Kristian looks for a job and I, plan my trip to Italy. Yes, Italy! More on that later.

NYE Intentions

While packing up, Kristian found a yellow pad of paper with our 2014 resolutions on it. Mine included: create online digital portfolio, resumé, cover letter and get an internship during the summer that will allow me to build my skills in visual storytelling, design and photography. These were very concrete goals and I am proud to say that I hit the nail on the head of every one of them. I feel like the word resolutions indicates something concrete; a goal you can truly hit, for example getting an internship. Did you, or didn’t you? For some reason, there is a huge trend for the aversion to resolutions this year. I love resolutions because I think they help you hit the ground running with a sort of plan for the year. However, I too, will be veering away from resolutions this year. Instead, I am setting intentions. I love the concept of setting intentions in yoga class. Intentions help you to focus on things that you wish to carry with you throughout the entire class, every moment, or in this case, every day of the year. My intentions are things that I plan to incorporate into my daily life, weeks, months of this year. This year is truly a book of blank pages that I get to write myself; it truly is the beginning of a grand adventure. My wishes and dreams for this year include: growing my blog, continuing to collaborate on fun and exciting photography projects and travel.

Florence, Oregon
Without further or do, my intentions for the year:

  1. A blog post per week. I am feeling very inspired by this creative space and love sharing my joy. With no more school assignments and much more time, I can’t wait to create new content and share more of my life, health journey, adventures and inspirations. Connecting with you all has brought me so much joy. This intention is one that I will carry with me week by week. Some posts may be longer, some shorter, but you can expect one blog post a week.
  2. Be active. This isn’t a resolution to “get fit” or “eat clean” during 2015. Rather this is an intention to incorporate more movement into my daily life. That means walking instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going to yoga classes, dance classes—whatever sounds fun, inspiring and encourages movement. The most important thing is to keep moving. With my diet and lifestyle health dialed in, exercise is really the only thing missing from my health journey. I know incorporating more movement will help my systematic inflammation and autoimmune conditions.
  3. Simplify. With traveling and moving in the future, I am making an intention to embrace minimalism and living simply. I feel the weight of stuff impacts me at a very deep level. Cleansing my life of excess has been a huge part of my healing journey. I want to continue to embrace the minimalistic lifestyle that I began in 2014. A good friend shared her trick for minimizing your belongings: “Is it beautiful or useful?” If it is neither, clear it out of your life.
  4. Embrace instability. Stability is hugely important in my life and for my sanity. I love nesting and getting into a consistent routine. I guess it really comes down to feeling comfortable. But now it’s time to get comfortable being uncomfortable. This year isn’t a year that I can expect stability to be present. From Kristian dealing with his VISA status and possibly returning back to Europe to my much anticipated travels to Italy, I will set my intention on staying present and grounded.
  5. Trust your instinct. It has never let you down. This may be the most important 2015 intention. I have a strong gut instinct and it has truly never let me down. I loved this quote I read from Sally and Molly’s blog: “And everyday, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important and this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day it is up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No, this is what’s important.” – Iain Thomas I want to remember to trust the truth within myself and not be swayed by the infinite amount of decisions, people and places that are presenting themselves.

That’s what’s on the table for 2015. Feeling SO ready. Are you setting resolutions, goals or intentions?

florence01

Our Day of Thanks in Central Oregon

it's me, charlotte :: thanksgiving

She called me the day before the big day—turkey day—to laugh about the comical size of the turkey. My older sister Lily had just picked up a pastured turkey from our favorite farm in Central Oregon. It weighed in at a measly seven pounds…

it's me, charlotte :: thanksgivingit's me, charlotte :: thanksgivingit's me, charlotte :: thanksgivingCompared to the twenty-five pound bird we had the year before, we weren’t quite sure if the seven pound bird would feed our hungry bellies. Only a couple of weeks early, my oldest sister Lily and I decided we wouldn’t make the trip from Oregon to California for Thanksgiving. My other sister Daisy and my dad would be celebrating with family friends in the bay area while the Oregon crew (Lily, my brother-in-law, Kristian and Lil’s in-laws) would be celebrating turkey day in the barn on their ranch. Because of our last-minute decision to stay in Oregon, we were a little late on ordering a turkey. Luckily, we got the very last turkey at rainshadow organics farm. However, that did mean only a seven pound turkey…for six people. Oops. Didn’t I read somewhere that you need 1.5 pounds per person? I’m one of those people who always thinks we will need more food than we really do. I panic at the thought of a bowl of empty mashed potatoes or going back for seconds only to scrape the pan of roasted veggies for the last few left behind…

I wasn’t panicking. No. It’s going to be ok. NO big deal. Nope. Totally fine. We’re alllll good. 

I was in charge of Thanksgiving this year. I planned the menu, spatchcocked and roasted our lovely (mini) bird, mashed, roasted, sautéed, baked. You name it, I did it. And guess what? I had an absolute blast. We had a fully AIP compliant Thanksgiving and the very non-paleo in-laws exclaimed about the moist turkey, decadent mashers, delicious pumpkin cake and all the sides. I can’t lie, I was kind of proud of myself for how well everything came together. Aside from cooking, there was also plenty of wood chopping, playing with the dogs, nibbling on bacon wrapped dates and warming up in front of the fire. The air smelled of pine needles and mountain snow. All was right in the world and we were certainly all grateful to be together. And just for the record, a seven pound turkey ended up being the PERFECT size for our group. Silver linings and positive energy people. We even had enough turkey left on the bird to make a turkey soup and stock.

I won’t be sharing any recipes this year but will be sharing our menu. I am already looking forward to comparing this years first annual AIP thanksgiving and second annual GF thanksgiving with next years feast.

Thanksgiving 2014 Menu

Appetizers: best party meatballs, ever, peeled rainbow carrots, bacon wrapped dates and cured meats

Drinks: spiced apple kombucha, sparkling water, champagne 

Sides: roasted green beans with shallots, duck fat mashed white sweet potatoes with crispy shallots, sweet mashed yams, grain-free stuffing, creamy gravy, ginger-orange cranberry sauce

Main: citrus and herb spatchcocked turkey

Dessert: pumpkin spice cake with gingersnap crust + coconut cream 

it's me, charlotte :: thanksgiving

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