Andrea: The Power of Two

We are getting back today! I can’t believe the honeymoon is over. Back to reality 😉 Not quite – I’m probably somewhere over the Pacific right now. Wrapping up the honeymoon guest posts is Andrea, one of the first bloggers I ever discovered. Here she is…

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Hi guys! My name is Andrea and I live over at Off Her Cork! Maggie is off doing fabulous newlywed things and she asked for guest posts related to weddings and food. My husband, Scott, and I just celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary earlier this month. We’ve been together for ages though, over 10 years! We’ve learned a lot along the way and the best advice we have to offer is to make sure that you take the time to celebrate being a couple as often as possible.

Impromptu date nights! Who says dates have to be reserved for just the weekend? And who says you have to go someplace? Light some candles, open a bottle of wine, and make one of your favorite dishes on a random Wednesday evening. Not only does this give you something to look forward to but you get a chance to sit down and focus on each other.

Eat a meal that reminds you of something you did together. Maybe creating a special mahi-mahi dish reminds you of that time when you visited the islands. Perhaps going out to get sushi reminds you of the first time you met? Maybe eating Jello brings up memories of meeting the entire family for the first time! It doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to cost a ton but sharing a meal that invokes a memory will help strengthen the connection that you have together.

Have fun in the kitchen together! Scott doesn’t cook at all but he can help me with tasks. He’ll peel carrots or shred some cheese while I’m prepping other ingredients. He can put stuff away once I’m done with it. He can help with the dishes! 😉 The important part isn’t the task but that we’re doing it together and can share that moment.

Lastly, always plan a super special meal for your anniversary! We like to have lobster tails on our anniversary. They are indulgent and help us feel tres chic as we sit at our little dining room table or on our deck gazing out into the back yard. They make us feel special and since we only cook them for our anniversary, it has become a lovely tradition shared by the two of us.

Creating a meal, a date, or a tradition helps you remember what is important, each other!

Congrats to Maggie and Bobby! Enjoy your new journey together!

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Thanks for the thoughtful and fun advice Andrea – I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us 🙂  “See” you all again soon!

Brittany: How to Avoid the Love Layer

It is currently 2:30am Maui time so I am asleep. But today is the last day of our honeymoon – we head to the airport for our flight tonight at 8pm (overnighter – yuck). We hope to spend the morning on the beach and the rest of the day exploring and hitting up a few food joints that we haven’t gone to yet.

Today’s guest blogger was the first food blogger I ever met up withBrittany has an awesome blog and is awesome in person. I hope you enjoy her post!

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Hi, I’m Brittany from Eating Bird Food and I am thrilled to be guest posting for Maggie while she enjoys her wedding and honeymoon. She holds a special place in my heart, as she was first food blogger I met in person, way back when. I actually met Bobby, her fiancé, as well and know that they are and will continue to be very happy together. Congrats again on getting married you two – I can’t wait to see the pictures.

So, we’ve all heard that moving in with a significant other (before or after getting married) can lead to weight gain, right? Well it’s not just an urban legend, according to a study published in 2009, getting married (or cohabiting) doubles the odds of weight gain!

I’ve even seen it with myself. I’ve been living with my boyfriend, Isaac, for over 2 years now and whether it’s the living situation, my desk job or a combination of the two, I’ve definitely noticed a few pounds trying to creep on since my college days. The good news is that I realize it and try to make an effort not to let the layer of love build on. 🙂

So why does this happen and why does it seem more prevalent with women? Who knows- but some speculate that it may be due to a decrease in activity (snuggling on the couch anyone), indulging in rich, flavorful meals together, eating the same amount as your man even though men naturally require more calories, eating “guy foods” like beer, nachos, frozen pizza and hot dogs; skipping the gym to hang out with your honey, or even paying less attention to your weight because you’re no longer on the prowl.

Whatever the reason is, it happens. I know for me there are a couple things that have me eating late at night or indulging. For one, Isaac buys cereals and snack foods that I would never dream of buying but once they’re in the house they tempt me and I end up indulging. Then there’s peer-pressure where he’ll want me to try a bite of this or have another beer/glass of wine. (sound familiar?)

Here’s the culprit in action:

With all that said, here are a few tips on how to avoid the extra “layer of love”:

  • Get physical. Make time to workout. If you all can find something you both enjoy, than do it together (like hiking), and if not go your separate ways, just make sure to stay active. For us, Isaac hates the gym and I love it so, I workout at the gym and he plays ultimate Frisbee, runs outside, or works in the yard.
  • Cook at home more often, choose healthy foods, and watch your portion sizes at mealtime. Your portion probably shouldn’t be as big as his – unless you are working out like a mad-woman or need the extra calories.
  • Communicate! If your man is like mine and often tries to convince you to indulge or brings home lots of sweet treats, tell him up front your goals and that you’re trying to be more conscious about what you eat. He’ll respect you for telling him and will most likely be more thoughtful about it.
  • Have separate meals occasionally. Isaac and I do this often because he eats meat and I don’t. We cook together and eat together, just eat different things.
  • Lighten up on the alcohol. One glass of wine is fine, but alcohol is empty calories and can really add up. Get out of the habit of unwinding with a drink everyday and do yoga or go on a walk together instead.

What do you do to make sure both you and your love stay healthy?

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Thanks so much Brittany! Have you all ever noticed that love layer sneaking up on you?

Mara: Food Blogging and Marriage

Aloha! My sweet friend Mara wrote a great guest post for me specifically about food blogging, marriage, and honeymooning! I will let her tell the story…

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Hi Salad Girl readers! I’m Mara, and I write a little food and cooking blog called “What’s For Dinner?” where I chronicle my adventures in cooking, and more recently, baking.

When Maggie asked me to do a guest post on weddings/marriage and how they relate to food and food blogging, I jumped at the chance! See, I got married to the love of my life this past November, and our wedding coincided nicely with the anniversary of my blog.

Not only has blogging my dinners made for more interesting meals in our house, it’s also helped to teach my husband, Adam, about various flavors that exist in the world, as well as the importance of having food that looks as good as it tastes.

But that’s not going to be what I write about. Oh no. Adam and I were put to the test mighty early in our marriage when we had a travel nightmare when trying to get to Jamaica on our honeymoon. How, you might be asking, does this relate to food blogging?

If you don’t want to click over, the nightmare in a nutshell was:

  • Flew out of Chicago into Philadelphia just as the first Noreaster snowstorm hit.
  • Got stuck in Philadelphia and missed our connecting flight
  • Waited 8 hours at PHL for our bags, which, in turn, were sent without us to Jamaica.
  • Spent the first night of our honeymoon in a crappy motel
  • Spent the 2nd night of our honeymoon in a less crappy hotel
  • Rearranged resort accommodations (Thanks Sandals!) and got put back on a flight to Chicago to wait for our new Jamaica flight
  • PHL to Chicago flight got cancelled minutes before we arrived at the airport.
  • Adam and I drove the 14 hours back to Chicago to wait for the Jamaica flight
  • We never received one cent back from US Airways for extra expenses incurred.

Well, for one, without my food blog, I would not be able to remember that the first
night of our honeymoon’s dinner was:

And Adam’s was:

Thanks to my food blog, I was able to chronicle every moment of the nightmare that occurred between leaving Chicago (home) and finally leaving home again for Jamaica, and have it on a public and much-read forum. Thanks to my blog, Adam and I are able to relive exactly how remarkable it is that we made it through our ordeal without killing each other, and came out of it stronger in the long run.

Because of my food blog, we were able to recall small details of our trip that ordinarily would’ve been forgotten, and thanks to more technology, we were able to chronicle our road trip via Facebook! We are reminded every day exactly how well-deserved our honeymoon was once we actually made it there… and we enjoyed every moment.

Congratulations Maggie! I hope you enjoy every moment of your wedding and honeymoon! My advice? Remember to be tolerant! You never know when a difficult time can turn into the adventure of a lifetime!

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Thanks again, Mara! Thankfully our honeymoon has been almost snag-free so far (there was a glitch with Expedia and our rental car… I’ll update after it is resolved).

Have you ever had an issue with an airline? I’ve had lots of delayed flights, and one time Bobby and I were stuck in the Las Vegas airport overnight because a delay out of Philly (apparently PHL really stinks) on our way to California (SFO) – we ended up missing the last flight out because of the delay.

P.S. If you have been enjoying these marriage/food-related guest posts and want to do one yourself, send me what you got – magpie707 (at) gmail (dot) com. I am going to keep on posting them periodically after I’m back 🙂

Alisa: Marriage and Peanut Butter Truffles

I have been a longtime reader of Alisa’s blog, One Frugal Foodie (longtime as in years!). She also has a kickass book: Go Dairy Free (my Go Dairy Free review here). Bobby (my husband) and I are both semi-lactose intolerant (he is more so) and I am always inspired by Alisa’a dairy-free recipes. I hope you all enjoy this one!

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I was so honored when Maggie asked me to do a wedding-themed guest post! I have been with my husband, Tony, for fourteen wonderful years, and I am happy to tell Maggie that we grow closer every day.

Of course, one thing that keeps my husband happy is that I almost always have some type of homemade dessert stocked for his sweet tooth. A lot of men will tell you that they really aren’t into dessert. Yeah. Right. That is what Tony told me so many years ago … but when that first batch of a dozen cookies emerged from the oven in our first apartment together, I savored two with tea, and then somehow, as if by magic, all disappeared by the next day. After watching this scenario repeat time and time again, I finally started baking up just 4 to 6 cookies at a time, storing the dough in the fridge or freezer for (daily) dessert emergencies.

But with so many years of practice, my friends always ask me to bring a dessert to get-togethers … even weddings!

A few years ago, I was the Maid of Honor for a good friend, and she was completely stuck on what to do for wedding favors. Her budget was running thin, and she didn’t want something that could be thrown away. I suggested that we make some chocolates. Cheap, easy, tasty … the idea was a go. We decided on peanut butter “truffles,” which were inspired by that old “Buckeye” recipe.

As it turned out, just making these favors turned into a wonderful wedding memory. A few nights before the big day, four of us sat around with glasses of wine (of course!) rolling, dipping, and sneaking bites as we gossiped and shared in my friend’s excitement.

Peanut Butter “Truffles”

Recipe from Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook

Casually elegant, these glorified peanut butter cups earned me rave reviews at a close friend’s wedding. For party favors, we wrapped a few little treats up in tulle and placed one on each guest’s plate. All night long, people I had never met approached me with recipe requests for “those incredible truffles.” While I would love to gloat on my innovation and labor, the recipe is embarrassingly easy …

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Powdered / Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Smooth All Natural Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Dairy-Free Margarine or Shortening, Softened
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 6 Ounces Semi-Sweet or Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Shortening

Method

  1. Combine the sugar, peanut butter, margarine or shortening, vanilla, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl, and blend until smooth.
  2. Pinch off pieces of the peanut butter mixture and roll them into balls that are 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter. Since you won’t be baking them, the thickness of the filling is really up to you.
  3. Place the peanut butter balls in a single layer on baking sheets lined with wax paper or non-stick baking mats (I flatten them slightly to keep them from rolling around), and freeze until they are firm, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. While those are chilling, Place the chocolate and 1/2 teaspoon of shortening in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on HIGH in 30 second intervals (just 2 to 3 should suffice), stirring vigorously between intervals, until the chocolate has just melted and is smooth. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate, as it can scorch easily.
  5. Remove the peanut butter balls from the freezer, dunk them in the melted chocolate to coat, and return them to the baking sheets to dry.
  6. Place the truffles in the refrigerator or freezer to chill for 1 hour, or until the chocolate coating is firm. The truffles should keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Yields approximately 2 Dozen “Truffles”.

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Thanks for the simple and delicious recipe, Alisa! Definitely must try this 🙂 Bobby claims that he doesn’t have a sweet tooth, but I know better…

What is your favorite recipe or crafty thing to make? I like making homemade goodies for people for holidays, like bread and Christmas cookies. (This year I made gingerbread houses with Auntie Jo – who is my real aunt now!)

Elise: Vegas for Vegans

Today’s guest poster is my very favorite hungry hippie! Elise is getting married soon as well, and she kindly wrote her guest post for me about her crazy fun bachelorette party in Las Vegas (I have never been – and now I want to go!). Enjoy!

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Hello! Elise here from Hungry Hungry Hippie. I don’t always introduce myself with such enthusiasm, but this post is not of the ordinary.

…ever since I returned from Vegas, I’ve been meaning to post about how to eat, drink, and be merry in the City of Sin. However, if there is one thing that I struggled with throughout my bachelorette weekend, it was capturing sober food pictures on film.

Thankfully, my friends were kind enough to hook me up with photos from the weekend, and so when Maggie asked me to do a guest post relating to my bridal experience, I figured why not showcase Las Vegas in all its glory. A bachelorette party counts as bridal prep right? Right. Plus, it’s been a great help in filling in the gaps in my memory of the whole affair.

And so, may I present to you, the healthy(ish)-girl-on-a-budget guide to getting through Vegas.

For the record, Smirnoff Ice is neither vegan nor tasty. That said, getting “iced” before you even leave for the airport certainly gets you in the mood to P-A-R-T-Y!

The above pic is only one of the reasons you should fly on Virgin.  Another reason?  They have a 70 pound weight limit on luggage…

Do you know how much 10 bottles of champagne1 handle of Vodka, and a double air mattress weigh?  Only 59 lbs.

Do you know how much money BYOB saves you?  Mucho.

And staying in a penthouse suite, with a kitchen bigger than my previous NYC apartment, doesn’t hurt either.

Let the EtOH flow!

Now that we’ve covered how to minimize the liquor bill, let’s move onto food.

Allow me to open with a little disclaimer.  My pre-trip research was minimal and my knowledge on the gourmet dining options is far from extensive.  Our goal was to keep things cheap, within walking distance, and vegan-friendly, so, if nothing else, this post will be economical.

Caesar’s Palace has restaurants up the yin yang.  There’s Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, and Las Vegas’ only James Beard award winner, Bradley Ogden, as well as Michelin two star recipient Restaurant Guy Savoy.  But there’s also a nice little area called the Cypress Street Marketplace, that has several casual cafe-style dining options.  It’s perfect for large groups that want different cuisines.  Mediterranean, Chinese, Mexican, BBQ, salads, sandwiches, wraps, pizza…you name it, it’s there…and in the center of it all is a common dining area.

I went with a hummus and veggie wrap (minus the tzatziki and feta cheese)

…and 4 beers.

What!?  It was 2-for-the-price-of-1 🙂  I’m no econ major, but I know a deal when I see one.

Who wouldn’t get on board?

Skipping straight ahead to the next morning…

Bringing snacks is a cheap way to tide you over between real meals, and it’s a nice way to nurse a hangover. May I suggest:

  • Kirkland trail mix
  • Water bottles (x 50)
  • Clif bars
  • Champagne
  • Dried fruit
  • More water

Classy?  Debatable.

Other key items in hangover prevention survival: Mrs. May’s Trio bars, water, and Whole Foods’ catering.

I really wish I had taken more photos of the platters, but I wasn’t in the best shape.  You understand, right?

Being the crafty planners we are, we arranged for a delivery in advance.  We got the assorted bagel platter and a fruit platter.  Maybe we were a bit bold in having the delivery arrive at 9 am, but at least it got us up!

We even got our dinner platters then (see below photos), which allowed us flexibility in planning around the rest of the day/night’s activities.

We stored the platters in the fridge all day and as difficult as it was to not dig in throughout the afternoon, come dinner time, it was SUCH a relief.  Cheap and simple with no thought required (you have to remember, we were operating on very few brain cells at this point, so the more pre-planning, the better).

Whole wheat/white pitas, sushi, grilled veggies, spinach salad, and the Mediterranean Dipping Platter.

VN = vegan
VT = vegetarian

Veggies anyone?

Oh baby!  Hummus and pitas galore.

In total, we had a feast big enough for our party…and then some.  Seriously, so much food. Whole Foods’ catering platters are far bigger than they lead on.

As for lunches, we went to the exact same place both days (creature of habit?).  We were staying at the Vdara in the new CityCenter, which was absolutely amazing (no smoking + no gaming = spa like vacation).  However, they didn’t have the best dining options.  The poolside eats were super pricey and the portions were TINY.  Fortunately, the CityCenter’s sister hotel, the Aria, has several casual restaurants.

Cafe Vettro is open 24 hours on the Casino level of the Aria – and it serves good food with reasonable prices.  I ordered the Asian Chicken Salad (without the chicken) for lunch BOTH days we were in Vegas.  It was so good!  If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it – right?

I only wish I had taken pics of my meal [blogger fail].  My plate was piled high with tons and tons of veggies (edamame, bell peppers, celery, the works…).  Plus, the dressing was great and it was a very generous portion (they even gave me extra veggies since I cut the chicken).  I am rarely so pleased with salads that I don’t make myself, and I didn’t have the highest expectations with this one (I mean, it’s Vegas, not New York).  But I’m happy to report that this salad was 100% awesome.  The rest of my girls loved their dishes too, so it’s a crowd pleaser if you are in a big group.

Just remember, Las Vegas is not cheap, but there are tons of good options that don’t feature award-winning chefs.  Finding the middle ground between fine dining and buffets requires minimal work, but I suggest you do it while sober.  Hopefully this post was a tiny bit helpful…and don’t forget to have fun!

Happy wedding and honeymoon Maggie!!

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Thanks, Elise 🙂 I want to visit Las Vegas now! (But Maui has been awesome so far.)

If you’ve been to Las Vegas, what’s your favorite thing to do/eat? If you haven’t, do you want to go?