Simple lunch & snack swaps

Man, taxes suck. Owing over $1,000 in federal taxes REALLY sucks. I’m turning my side hustle meter way up and applying to every date-night babysitting gig I can find!

I’m also sticking to packing  lunch and snacks- it is such an easy way to NOT spend money. I’m so used to it, I don’t even know where I would find that money to spend on eating out! But if you’re not, then think about how much you could save if you switched. Here are some things to keep in mind for lunches:

  • For salads, instead of boring iceberg lettuce that has really no nutritional value and a bottle of dressing, trade it for spinach or another leafy green that is chock full of vitamins and minerals. For dressing, I throw together olive oil, balsamic vinegar and mustard for my usual lunch salad- so yummy and there are no additives, sugar, or carbs that can sneak into those bottled dressings!
  • Packed a sandwich? Instead of slathering on mayo which is filled with fat, spread mustard on your (whole-wheat) bread! It’s fat-free- just make sure the sugar count is low. Also, watch your meats! Fatty meats like bacon (and this goes for breakfast too), beef, and pork just should be avoided or cut down on if you’re trying to lose weight. Because it’s not the good fats! It’s the bad fats that cause heart attacks and the like. Choose leaner meats like turkey and chicken, especially at lunch.

For snacks (not just at work, but anytime!):

  • Instead of pulling out a container of cream cheese based dip for a party or before dinner, put out salsa! Who doesn’t love chips and salsa? Plus, it’s spicy and we know that ups your metabolism!
  • Now, I’m not saying to dip your popcorn in salsa, BUT swapping air-popped popcorn for greasy potato chips is definitely a better bet.
  • Don’t just dig into the box! Remember when we talked about measuring things out? Measure your portion out and eat from a bowl or plate. Mindlessly grabbing into a bag is a surefire way to empty that bag without noticing.
  • I am a peanut butter lover. I really am. But I have been trying to cut down on my consumption and swapping it for raw nuts. It makes a big difference because there are more fats and sugars in nut butter than in almonds. Also, unless you’re measuring it out (which you should be), it’s easy to over do it.

Also, just some friendly reminders about things that we’ve discussed in previous posts but that are very easy to forget or not be consistent on!

  • Chew slowly! I’ve really been working on this as I am a speed-eater at heart. This morning was difficult because I was late- but really like to slow down and give your food a good chew.
  • In keeping with slowing down, eat at the table. This allows you to focus and slow down instead of mindlessly eating in front of the TV. I rarely eat in front of the TV but I do eat in front of my computer at work which is very hard not to do!
  • Cut your portion sizes down easier by swapping out your large plates for medium or small ones. It tricks your brain and you probably didn’t need all that anyways!
  • When you eat slower, you should get those satiety signals sooner. That should prevent you from cleaning the plate (unless it’s the right portion for you!). But don’t feel forced to clean the plate- that’s something that has been ingrained in us as small children and it’s very difficult to break that habit (I really struggled with it). Stop when your full and keep it as leftovers.

Yesterday’s food journal

Pre-workout coffee

Breakfast- protein shake & 3 eggs

Coffee

Lunch- normal salad

Green tea

Mid-afternoon snack- yogurt with strawberries & flax

Dinner- leftover casserole and some pineapple

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VOX Table review

VOX Table is a new American small plates restaurant & cocktail bar on South Lamar. The inside is modern with high ceilings and the inventive menu has distinctive French and Spanish influence. This is where we decided to spend our 1st anniversary dinner.

Thanks to OpenTable & the “Notes” section, we were greeted with glasses of a very yummy rosè. Our waiter was the best- friendly, personable, interesting and very knowledgeable (Winston- request him before he whirls out of Austin!) and gave us great recommendations.

We started with the charred baby carrots and even though the BF doesn’t like carrots, this changed his tune. They were roasted with brown figs and a housemade ricotta, seasoned with lemon verbena and aged balsamic and topped with toasted pepitas. Then we got the most popular dish- the smoked hamachi pipette. The pipette holds a coconut soy vinaigrette and skewers the hamachi, tomato raisins, pickled cucumber and Thai chili. It was even more delicious than the hype made it to be.

Hamachi pipettes
Hamachi pipettes

Since I’m a big seafood person we also got the red crab with crispy Brussels sprouts, asparagus, radish, and egg crumble over a yuzu pudding smeared on the plate and brioche croutons. The crab was fresh and sweet- I could have buried my face into a whole bowl of it.

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Equally outstanding were the calamari noodles with roasted corn, smoked tomatoes, Spanish chorizo, chili oil and corn nuts. The calarmari is sliced into noodle-like strands. It was the most inventive presentation I’ve ever seen of calamari.

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Since the BF is a big meat fan we got both the braised oxtail dish and the shortrib dish. The oxtail wasn’t overly impressive for either of us- while incredibly tender (fall-off-the-bone tender), the flavor didn’t compare to the shortrib, which came with potato churros- a savory take on the normally sweet Mexican dessert. And they were phenomenal.

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Shortrib

After a meal like that, we couldn’t pass up dessert. We got the foie gras & strawberries- two crispy brioche crackers dolloped with foie gras butter, strawberry marmalade and tarragon cream. Wowza.

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Our drinks were lovely too- after the rosè, I got a hand on the pump cocktail- I couldn’t stop smelling my rosemary garnish.

The hostess was even nice enough to take a picture of us on our way out. It was a memorable experience and I thank VOX Table for it.

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Housewarming!

As another weekend starts, I am finally able to recap the last one. It’s a vicious cycle.

Last weekend was a good one. Friday night was spent watching Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (finally a movie I’ve seen that the BF hasn’t!) and then Saturday we got breakfast tacos at El Chilito before prepping for the event du jour- our housewarming party!

Our housewarming was basically an excuse to show off our new digs to all of the BF’s friends- and to cook even though I knew most people would be coming from dinner. I made watermelon cups with feta and mint (they were a little hard to scoop out without destroying the cube and tasted a little bit meh) and chocolate vodka soaked strawberries (which were a big hit).

Watermelon with feta and mint Chocolate vodka soaked strawberries

But the biggest hit (and something I would highly recommend making) was the Carolina peach sangria. It was polished off by the end of the night- and I doubled the recipe!

Sangria

The biggest bummer was that since our apartment’s management office hadn’t put us in the call-box yet (after 3 requests) the BF kept running up and down escorting guests into the building. But all in all, it was a great night and we ended up at Violet Crown Social Club with their $4 frozen creamsicle drinks (delicious).

Check the napkins (Charming Charlie’s)

Sunday, we got brunch at Arturo’s Bakery & Cafe- a hidden gem on UT’s campus that has delicious migas and eggs benedict (and I will be back to try their French toast!) Then we stumbled upon the BarkHappy Charity Doggy Ice Cream Social right next to our apartment! It was an event benefiting Austin Pets Alive! and Service Dogs Inc. For only $10 per person there was free craft beer (which made the BF happy), a dog ice cream eating contest (which Moxie did not participate in but she did enjoy the free dog ice cream from Amy’s Ice Cream), a K9 agility course, free dog treat buffet, free nail trimming, games, raffles, food trucks, a photo booth, temporary dog tattoos and more! Of course the amount of people and Moxie’s patience limited the amount of things we could do but all in all it was a cool event.

Happy about the grass

Since the humans didn’t get any ice cream, we stopped by Lick for the first time. I got a delicious two scooper of PB&J and Pecans n Cream. Both were to die for but a little icy. I’m eager to get back to try more flavors.

Not sure when I've been more Insta-basic
Not sure when I’ve been more Insta-basic

Posting tomorrow the review of VOX Table where we went for our anniversary. (Spoiler alert: it’s amazing!)