A Trip to Trader Joe’s 

Aaaaahhh Trader Joe’s.

You know…going to Trader Joe’s feels less like an errand, and more of an event. In fact, you could make a whole girl’s night or date night out of it. Start in the flower section (they have the best, fresh florals) and work your way up each aisle, picking up whatever strikes your fancy. Take home your unique goodies, have a “tasting”, and watch some Netflix. Bam. Consider your Saturday night planned. 👌🏼

I typically do most of my grocery shopping at Publix, and then get fun speciality items at Trader Joe’s. But this past week, I decided to do something I’ve never done before. I bought a week’s worth of food soley at Trader Joe’s. Not only was it a delicious success, but we came in well under budget. Win! 

Even though Trader Joe’s is a relatively small market, it is fully stocked with unique foods. You wouldn’t know it by looking at it. But once you start perusing the aisles, you’ll find yourself reaching for item after item. Curiosity and adventure fill the shelves. I’m really quite obsessed.

Sooooo how about I cease the rambling and oodling, and simply share my favorite Trader Joe’s goodies that you need on your grocery list.

1. Mini Blueberry Tea Scones

Deliciously moist, I tend to crave these! With coffee or tea, you’ll feel like you’re at a coffee shop right in your own abode. 


2. Organic Roasted Vegetable Pizza

This pizza is hands down the best frozen pizza ever! It legit tastes like it’s from a restaurant. They don’t skimp on the veggies and the crust is just the right thickness. Why am I not surprised that this pizza is imported from Italy? 🇮🇹 

3. Organic Popping Corn

I love making homemade popcorn on the stove. These kernels make for crispy snacking and numerous batches of the favorite movie night treat. I make mine with olive oil, and no butter. A sprinkling of salt and parmesan cheese is all you need. #healthysnack

4. Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Slices

Ohmygoodness. These are a delight! They’re great when you need a bite of chocolate! They’re rather refreshing too! Find these in the frozen dessert aisle. 

5. Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Bread

This is Billy and I’s latest obsession. I know, we are a little late to the game. But, seriously. Bread that tastes good, and isn’t loaded with sugar. Protein? It’s got 3 grams per slice. Fiber? 2 grams per slice. It’s based off of the Bible verse Ezekiel 4:9. You can find this at Trader Joe’s in the bread section, or at other natural food stores.


6. Eucalyptus 

No trip to Trader Joe’s is complete without some fresh eucalyptus. I simply can’t help myself. Fragrant and beautiful. Arrange some in a large jar, or hang a bundle from your shower head for some aroma therapy during your shower. 

That’s all for now, folks! I could go on endlessly, but I thought I’d keep this list concise. 

Remember, fall is just around the corner! Trader Joe’s will soon have pumpkin everythang! They’re pumpkin spice flavored coffee is a personal fav. The wait will be hard, but it will be worth it. 🍁

Grilled Peaches and Ice Cream Recipe

It’s no secret I love my fruits and veggies. But if I had to choose between the two, I’d hands down pick fruit. I’m obsessed. Even as a little girl, I would turn down a cupcake for a handful of grapes. That is true love, my friend.

I love finding new ways to enjoy my favorite fruits. Since peaches are in season in the summer, I’ve been buying them a lot lately.

The other night, I decided to pull out my little George Foreman grill (#apartmentliving) and grill up some peaches. Then, I topped them with some ice cream. It was delicious. However, the next time I made it, I took it to the next level by marinating the peaches in some dark brown sugar and cinnamon. Um WOW. So good. Billy literally said, “This the best dessert I’ve had in a long time!”

What’s funny is, this recipe is so easy. Like, it’s such a fake out. It’s all like, “I’m so fancy.” Yet, it’s not. Gotta love it.

Because of its delicious simplicity, this is the perfect dessert to make when you have guests over. You won’t be slaving away for hours in the kitchen, and your guests will be impressed.



The warmth of the grilled, marinated peaches with the coldness of the rich ice cream, is an unbeatable combination. I guarantee you I will be making this on many summer nights to come! My new favorite little recipe has me feeling just peachy! (I had to! 😉)  🍑🍨

Grilled Peaches and Ice Cream

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 peaches
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter pecan ice cream

Directions:

  1. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit.
  2. On a plate, sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Massage sugar and cinnamon mixture all over peaches.
  4. Place peaches flesh down and allow to marinate in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Grill the peaches. If you do not have a grill, use a grill pan or George Foreman grill.
  6. Once grilled, top with butter pecan or vanilla ice cream. I recommend butter pecan, because peaches and pecans are a delightful combination! Enjoy!

Grilled Zucchini Open Faced Sandwich Recipe

I’ve heard it said before, “Food is memories.”

Isn’t that so true? We remember meals we’ve shared with people. We remember that amazing entree we had on a vacation. We remember when someone cooks for you. I think that’s one of my favorite things about food. One bite can take you back to another time and place.

The recipe I am sharing today has a memory. It’s a small memory. It wasn’t from a holiday or big party. This memory is a simple one. One that always stuck with me.

Growing up, I went to my Nonna and Nonno’s house a lot. I remember going there one afternoon, and they were in the kitchen. Of course. This time, they were grilling zucchini on the stove together.

“Julia, you need to try this,” my Nonno said as he drizzled some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the grilled zucchini. He toasted some crusty, Italian bread for me and put the zucchini on top. As I bit into, I’ll never forget the burst of flavor in my mouth. But the best part was the memory of my Nonno excitedly preparing this snack for me. It was special. There was love in it. He loved good food and he loved me.

So today, I’m sharing with you this easy grilled zucchini open faced sandwich recipe. Maybe one day you’ll make it for someone, and they’ll never forget it. Isn’t it neat how we never know when we are going to impact someone? 💗

Grilled Zucchini Open Faced Sandwich

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Cut the zucchini in half. Then thinly slice the long way.
  2. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Grill the zucchini either on a grill, or a grill pan.
  4. When cooked through, remove from the grill. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  5. Slice a baguette and toast it till crisp and brown on the edges.
  6. Serve the zucchini on top of the bread to create an open faced sandwich. Enjoy!

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“Pizza” Popcorn Recipe

Hi friends! Well, for starters, I’m so happy to be on summer vacation right now! ☀️🌴 It is such a blessing and something I don’t take for granted. Last year I wore myself down workwise, and I think it contributed to my poor health last fall. Therefore, this summer, my focus is good HEALTH and lots of rest.

With all that being said, I’d like to share a healthy recipe with you! Recently, I did a blog post about my top 5 favorite healthy snacks right now. In that post, I mentioned popcorn.

The simply wonderful thing about making your own popcorn, is you control exactly what goes in it. This recipe contains no butter. Yet, there is SO much flavor, you won’t even miss it! Billy isn’t a huge popcorn lover, but he LOVES this recipe!

“Pizza” popcorn. That is not a typo. Dreams really do come true. You see, when you combine olive oil, salt, oregano, and parmesan cheese, you get a flavor that very deliciously resembles pizza. And I’m totally okay with that.

Now, I most certainly could write a love letter to this yummy pizza popcorn recipe. But I’ll spare you the rambling, and get right to it!

Pizza Popcorn

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels
  • Salt to taste
  • Oregano, just a pinch or two
  • 3 or 4 TB grated parmesan cheese
  • Optional: a pinch of red pepper flakes for some heat

Directions:

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil.
  2. Place 2 kernels in the pot and put the lid on. When you hear the kernels pop, you know the oil is hot and ready!
  3. Pour in the rest of the kernels, and place the lid on the pot.
  4. Stay nearby to listen for when the kernels stop popping.
  5. Once they stop popping, remove immediately from the heat so the popcorn doesn’t burn.
  6. Toss the popcorn with salt, oregano, and parmesan cheese. Serve!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! You can make this for yourself for an easy snack. It also makes for some great snacking at a party. Or, get your kids in the kitchen and make it together this summer! Meanwhile, I’ll be over here munching on this popcorn while watching some Gilmore Girls. ❤️🍿

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Healthy (and Filling) Snacks


Is it just me, or do you come home from work and feel like you could eat a whole thanksgiving feast?! Something about the work day gets my stomach growling. In fact, I even get a little shaky when I’m hungry.

(Cue Mission Impossible theme song.) My eyes scan the fridge for something to take the edge off my hunger. Nothing quick and easy. Pantry? Nothing I can grab and go. Dilemma.

So began the quest of finding healthy snacks, that fill me up. I’ve settled on a few that just seem to work for me. Let’s get started!

1. Bananas

I’ve found that bananas do a really good job of filling me up. I’ve started eating one a day, right when I get home from work. High in potassium, bananas have plenty of health benefits too. (Good for your gut. Good for your skin. It’s a win-win!) These energy boosters have become my new favorite on-the-go snack!

2. Oatmeal

Okay, so we all know oatmeal makes a great breakfast. But, it’s literally become one of my favorite snacks. I’ll even have some after dinner for dessert! The key to making oatmeal more interesting and flavorful is topping it with fresh fruit, nuts, and a little brown sugar. Want to make it more protein-rich? Make it with milk instead of water. Oatmeal is also good for your gut health and for your heart too! ❤️

3. Homemade Popcorn

Ahhhhh popcorn! It’s always been my little weakness. It gets a bad wrap, though. It’s considered junk food. But it’s time to set the record straight. Popcorn is not bad for you! It’s the grotesque amounts of butter they put on it that’s bad for you! Popcorn itself actually has fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, and other minerals. If you make popcorn at home on your stovetop, you can know exactly what goes into it. Get creative with different spices to give it tons of flavor WITHOUT the butter!

4. Carrots and Organic Ranch

Carrots are kind of a stereotypical healthy food, so we often just kind of forget about them. I like to call carrots “beauty food.” Glowing skin? Check. Cleanse the body? Check. Good for your eyes? Check. Deliciously sweet, I enjoy them plain. However, dipped in a little organic ranch, they make a tasty “no effort” snack.

5. Hummus

I was practically raised “in the kitchen.” Cooking has always been a big part of my life, so when it comes to hummus, I’m a little spoiled. I grew up eating homemade hummus. To this day, I still don’t like the store bought varieties. One of these days,  I’ll have to share with you the recipe my Nonna and mom made growing up. Either way, hummus makes a delicious and filling snack. It’s high in fiber, protein, and antioxidants. If you buy it from the store, make sure to look for simple, real ingredients.

Well, there you have it! My go-to, quick, easy, healthy, filling, snacks! What are your favorite healthy snacks? Let me know in the comments below!


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Green Apple and Soy Sauce Recipe


“Just one. You have to eat one, Julia.” My parents spooned a brussel sprout on my plate.

8 year old me was the last one at the dinner table. I stared at the lonely brussel sprout on my plate. Oh the dilemma. Spinach I could spread around my plate to make it look like I finished. But that trick won’t work on a brussel sprout.

I sat there and slowly worked it down, for what felt like, 20 minutes. (It was probably only 5 or 10.)

This situation repeated itself through the years. Yet, my dislike for brussel sprouts never changed.

Then one day (recently) I tried roasted brussels sprouts. I’m not sure why roasting them makes them so much more appealing, but I’m not going to question it.

A few weeks ago, Billy and I were having dinner at Locale Market, here in St. Pete. As a side, Billy ordered roasted brussels sprouts with soy sauce and green apples. I tried them and was like, “Yes. Just yes.” They were absolutely delicious.

About a week later, the roasted brussel deliciousness was no longer available, as the market is constantly changing their menu. My mind was set on figuring out how to enjoy them at home.


I only recently started creating my own recipes. But by some miracle, I created this recipe on the first try. Crunchy and loaded with flavor, I am officially hooked.

When I purchased the bag of brussels sprouts from the grocery, I felt as though I am now officially doing this adulting thing. I mean, goodness me I’m buying brussels sprouts! Before we know it, I’ll be telling my kid to eat “just one.” Yikes! Time needs to slow down!

So there you have it. A story about a girl and a brussel sprout.

What makes this recipe extra special is the green apple! 🍏 With a hint of sweetness, and a bunch of crunch, I hope this recipe works its way into your recipe box!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Green Apple and Soy Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 16 oz. bags of brussels sprouts
  • 1 green apple, diced with skin
  • 4 TB of low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp of honey
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Rinse the brussels sprouts and cut off the brown stem. Remove any discolored leaves.
  3. Halve the brussels sprouts and lay them on a baking sheet.
  4. Drizzle them with olive oil and season with pepper. (Do NOT salt them, because the soy sauce is salty.)
  5. Toss the brussels sprouts to evenly coat them.
  6. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, tossing them halfway through so they brown on all sides.
  7. While they are in the oven, heat a small skillet and add the soy sauce, apple, and honey. Allow apples to soften.
  8. When the brussels sprouts are done roasting, toss them with the cooked apples.

* If you are cooking for one or two, you can cut this recipe in half.

Let me know in the comments below how you liked it!

Happy cooking!

Roasted Parmesan Potato Recipe


Hectic schedules call for cooking shortcuts.

I totally get that. It is so easy to pop a bag of frozen waffle fries in the oven. In fact, that was one of my favorite sides to use when cooking cube steak or something like that. Because–easy.

But you know what? Roasting potatoes is also really easy. And it’s real food. No crazy ingredients. Not fried. And tons of flavor. There’s nothing wrong with cooking some frozen fries every now and then. But my new go-to is this recipe I created. I make these all the time now!

I could literally eat these potatoes like candy. Dipped in ketchup, they taste like fancy French fries that you can actually feel good about eating!

What makes these so special is the PARMESAN sprinkled on top. Oh man. I can’t get enough. You know me. Always gotta put an Italian spin on things. 😉 The combination of the cheese with the spices creates an explosion of flavor. It’s like a big Italian-family get together for your taste buds. Hehe. Not to mention, the aroma that will escape your oven as these roast! You’ll have your whole family asking, “What’s for dinner?!”

Check out the recipe below and let me know what you think! This side compliments so many entrees. I’d love to see what you pair it with.

Happy cooking!

Roasted Parmesan Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 4 red potatoes, chopped (I leave the skin on.)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano or Italian spice blend
  • Garlic powder
  • 2 TBS Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

On a sheet pan, place the chopped red potatoes. Drizzle them with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and a little bit of garlic powder. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top. Using your hands, toss the potatoes to coat evenly. Cook for 25 to 35 minutes until brown and your desired crispiness.

Minestrone Recipe


In pre-school, we were asked what our favorite food was. Amidst the screams for “ice cream!” and “pizza!”, I yelled out “minestrone!” True story, my friends.

Needless to say, minestrone has been one of my favorite recipes for my entire life. My family is Italian, so this recipe means a lot to me. I remember when I first got married, I made minestrone for Billy. It was such a cool moment, because there I was–all grown up, married, and making minestrone for my hubby. How special.

There’s something precious about handing down a recipe from generation to generation. I can’t wait to teach my kids (Lord willing) how to make this one day, just like my mom taught me. (Hi, mom!)

Not only is this recipe sentimental, but it is fully LOADED with vegetables and flavor. This recipe yields such a large batch, you can enjoy it all week long and serve it with different sides. Billy and I love “minestrone week.” Billy loves having a hefty soup for dinner each night, and I love only having to cook once that week. 😉

Now, being the busy girl that I am, I have created a couple changes to make this soup a little faster to make. For example, instead of purchasing a half of cabbage, I buy a bag of spinach and add that. (No chopping, and super yummy.) I also like to buy the snack bags of celery sticks. (Already washed, ready for me to chop.)

So here is the infamous minestrone recipe (with my minor tweaks). I hope it works its way into your heart, like it has mine. ❤️

Minestrone Recipe

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 glove of garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup of zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup of potatoes, chopped
  • A handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 15 oz. can of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 TB of chicken bouillon
  • Olive oil
  • 4 cups of water
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Directions:

Sauté onion and garlic in some olive oil. Add chopped veggies. Add frozen veggies. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add sauce, water, bouillon, and beans. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add spinach. Serve over cooked rice or ditalini pasta. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread.

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Chicken Bryan (easy) Recipe

Well let me just start by saying…this week has been…crazy. There aren’t really words, guys. But I’m sure most of you can relate, so there’s really no need for elaboration. Thank goodness the weekend is upon us.

Okay. So now that I’ve vented, I’d like to share a quick and easy recipe, that you can make on a crazy weeknight.

If you’ve ever ordered Chicken Bryan from Carrabbas, and love it, this one’s for you! I crave it so much, so I decided to start making it at home. I found a few recipes on Pinterest, but I decided to simplify it even more. Let me tell you–it’s delicious. Billy literally can’t stop telling me how good it is.

So here’s a great, filling meal to add to your weeknight meal plans!

Easy Chicken Bryan Recipe

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of Tyson frozen pre-grilled chicken
  • Montreal chicken seasoning
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 TBS of white wine
  • A handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • A handful of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • Goat cheese

Directions:

Start by placing the pre-grilled chicken on a baking sheet and sprinkle with Montreal chicken seasoning. Put in the oven, following the heating instructions on the bag. While that is cooking, melt the butter and garlic in a small skillet. Next, add the lemon juice and wine. Keep heat low so the butter doesn’t brown or separate.  When the chicken is almost ready, take it out of the oven and add a slice of goat cheese on top of each piece. Put back in the oven for one more minute to melt and warm the cheese. Then add the basil and sun dried tomatoes to the lemon butter sauce. When the chicken is ready, pour the sauce over the chicken. Enjoy!

And there you have it! The creamy goat cheese tastes delicious with the bite of the sun dried tomatoes. This’ll be a favorite in our house for a long time! The pre-grilled chicken is my new favorite thing! Quick homemade meal on a weeknight? I’m all about that life.

 

4 Foods to Stop Eating and Why


I’ve always been a healthy eater. Even as a little girl, I was never into sweets and absolutely loved fruits and veggies. 🍇🍅

While I’ve always had good eating habits, in recent years I’ve tried to make GREAT eating habits. This process started with eliminating certain foods from my diet.

1. Soda

I haven’t had any soda for probably 5 years or so. I was never a regular soda drinker, but I did order a coke a lot when I went out to eat. One day, my teeth become more sensitive to hot and cold. Especially cold. Whether this was caused by drinking soda or not, I do not know. But, it really got me thinking about the negative affects of soda on not only my body, but my teeth. This motivated me to give up soda all together.  I stand by this decision and feel great knowing I made a healthy decision a few years ago, that will benefit me for the long haul.

2. Fast Food

I gave up fast food about the same time I gave up soda. I didn’t eat fast food regularly, but I wasn’t opposed to grabbing some McDonald’s on the way to the beach. I used to eat delivery pizza every now and then. Now, I’m so much more conscious of what I am putting in my body. Once you eliminate junk food from your body, your body no longer has any interest in them.  In fact, I’d probably get sick or have a horrible stomach ache if I were to eat McDonald’s after it’s been so long.  Eating healthy isn’t hard.  You have to teach your body what GOOD food is.  Once it’s had the good stuff, it’ll no longer want the bad.  Healthy inside, means happy on the outside. 😄

3. Processed Foods

While I don’t eat 100% clean, I’m getting there.  The goal is to one day eat food with absolutely no (or very few) preservatives.  God gave us everything we need to sustain ourselves.  Delicious veggies and grains. Juicy, sweet fruits. Milk. Meat. Nuts. Wholesome, delicious food.  Food is AWESOME. We shouldn’t be afraid to eat it. We just have to eat the real, natural food. If there’s an ingredient you can’t pronounce on the back label, it’s processed.  If it is not recognizable as something that grows or walks (ahem Cheetos), it’s processed.  This stuff is bad for your body! If you wouldn’t smoke because it’s bad for you, then don’t eat food that is bad for you.

4. Fried Food

I haven’t cut fried food out completely, but I very rarely eat it. In fact, at restaurants I try to opt for a different side other than fries. Fresh fruit. Roasted veggies. There’s so many healthy alternatives.

Remember: All things in moderation. It’s okay to have a dessert or some French fries on occasion, but try to make healthy, natural food apart of your everyday diet.

Another point I’d like to make is, make good habits. I work at an elementary school. I am constantly surrounded by sweets. 9 times out of 10 I will decline. People look at me weird. “You don’t need to be on a diet. You’re thin.” I hate that. I’m not “on a diet.” I just don’t want to make a habit out of eating junk. My metabolism is fast now, but it won’t always be. I want to be able to say no when that day comes. I want to be in control of what foods I eat. I want to have willpower. If I say yes to every cupcake, then when I’m older and my metabolism is slower, I’m not going to be able to say no. Honestly, after eating healthy for so long, processed, high sugar foods look gross and unappealing. And the stomachache afterwards is so not worth it.

Take charge of the food you eat! Be healthy and happy! 🍌