Checking Out: Rochester, NY

Rochester has a special place in my heart because it’s where I spent four years going to college, making some of the best friends I have, and learning to do what has now become my career.

For all its goodness, Rochester often gets a bad rap; it’s gray, it’s boring, it’s “in the country,” it’s too cold, etc. While some of these things are true to some degree, I can tell you that there’s one I’ve never agreed with – it is most certainly not a boring place.

The good ‘ol Roc is a place of artists, colleges, young professionals, and a relatively happening food scene, if you know where to look. Despite graduating 3 years ago, I still find myself running back there several times a year because I love it and its people. So if you ever find yourself there, here’s what you should check out to get the best this city has to offer:

See:

  1. The Public Market – Voted one of the best public markets in the US, you can find almost anything here, from fresh produce to hot food to coffee to baked goods to scarves.
  2. The Wine Trail - If you have some time and don’t mind getting about 25-40 minutes outside of the city, Canandaigua, Geneva, and Victor have many gorgeous vineyards and some delicious wines.
  3. High Falls – An enormous waterfall, which can be viewed from a promenade. Eat lunch at the Genesee Brewery and take a stroll here afterwards!
  4. Park Ave/East Ave – Two very nice streets in the downtown section of Rochester. Park Avenue is filled with shops and restaurants. On East Ave you’ll find museums, a couple of cafes, and many old mansions and gorgeous residences.
  5. Chimney Bluffs – Another great spot to visit if you have the time is the Chimney Bluffs, located about 45 minutes outside of Rochester, overlooking Lake Ontario.

Eat:

  1. Dogtown ($)- every type of hot dog known to man, including vegan and vegetarian options.
  2. Henrietta Hots (Garbage plates) ($) – a delicious local artery clogger that is worth at least one taste. Garbage plates are local to Rochester, and while each town has several spots that serve it, with Nick Tahou’s being the original, this one is my preference. A plate consists of your choice of two hamburger patties or hot dogs (red hots or white hots), mac salad, meat sauce, onions, and mustard, all smothered together to look like garbage and taste like heaven.
  3. Wegmans ($-$$) – Anyone that has ever lived in a town with a Wegmans knows the nature of its glory. Wegmans was founded in Rochester and has the best of everything, including an amazing buffet.
  4. Aladdins ($) – Delicious Mediterranean food in a pleasant setting. There are several locations but the best one is in Pittsford and overlooks the Erie Canal.
  5. Simply Crepes ($$) – Self explanatory, but the variety and taste is phenomenal.
  6. Good Luck ($$-$$$) – A huge, trendy restaurant in the Village Gate section of downtown, this place has amazing cocktails and delicious plates for sharing. Reservations highly recommended!

Drink:

  1. Flight ($$) – an adorable wine bar in the Corn Hill section of Rochester. The area has several restaurants too, and you can take a walk by the water with a view of the city after!
  2. Acme ($) – This is more of a local dive bar, but has the cheapest drinks you have ever heard of, ever. Their claim to fame is also their enormous, delicious slices of pizza, which are only 2 bucks.
  3. The Bug Jar ($-$$) – Coined “the hipster bar” by my friend and I, this place features indie bands, dancing, and relatively cheap drinks, as well as a pool table and some seating. On Thursdays this place is packed with college kids, which is when we went when I lived there. Fridays are a good night to get away from the college scene but still have a good time.
  4. Murphy’s Law ($$) – This place can get pretty packed on weekends, but it’s large and is located on the “party” strip of Rochester, called East and Alexander. There are a bunch of other places right around there if you decide this one isn’t for you!

Don’t Miss:

  1. Park Avenue – A beautiful strip of downtown Rochester, lined with small shops, restaurants, and cafes.
  2. The Lilac Festival – If you come in the Spring, you might encounter this fest, which is a gorgeous event at Highland Park, featuring food vendors, local artists, and of course, lilacs!
  3. Schoen Place – This area of restaurants and shops is located in Pittsford, a suburb of Rochester. It’ll take you along the Erie Canal, out to a cute main street, and features the Pittsford Dairy, where if you don’t get ice cream, you will regret it.
  4. Artisan Works – Better than just any museum, Artisan Works is a cozily lit, large space with all forms of art EVERYWHERE. The ceiling, the walls, the floors. You will not get bored. Call ahead to make sure they aren’t closed for an event but definitely try to go!

Tips:

  1. Come in the fall, spring, or summer. Winter sees a ton of snow and does generally look gray all the time, so it isn’t the best time to leave with a positive impression.
  2. Rent a car. The public transportation is unfortunately horrible and the taxis are ridiculously expensive.
  3. There is a large concentration of hotels in Henrietta, so look there for deals. If you want a view, downtown Rochester has some fancier hotels and Pittsford has a couple of B&B’s and inns.

Four Ways to Beat the [Travel] Bloat

During my last trip that was over two hours long, I realized that I have a recurring issue: travel bloat. I always notice it but haven’t ever wondered how to deal with it because I guess I just assumed it was a coincidence. But is it, really? Every time I fly, ride a train, or even road trip somewhere, I find myself bloated. So I got to thinking about my travel routines to determine what was causing me to feel not so good during times when I should be feeling better than ever. Here’s what I’ve been doing wrong at one point or another, and how you can avoid it:

1. Hunger – We’re all likely to run out the door at some point without packing any snacks or food because they’re either a hassle to carry, there’s nothing in the fridge, or we just didn’t bother to get something the night before. Starving the entire trip and then stuffing our faces though – that has not worked in my favor. We end up inhaling air once we do eat, buying unhealthy snacks and lunches on the go, and consuming an unnecessary amount of salt and sugar. All things that cause some serious bloat. It’s a good idea to bring something good for the plane (obviously something not including liquids) in case they try to feed you something you don’t want to look at, let alone consume.

2. Water – This one seems obvious, and perhaps some people are better about it, but I tend to forget to hydrate on long trips. I’m distracted by all the excitement associated with traveling, such as getting a few hours to read, staring out the window, people watching, taking selfies to demonstrate how awesome my life is in that moment – ANYTHING but remembering to drink some water. If you’re like me, it’s a good idea to just come armed with a huge bottle of it. If it’s in front of you, you’ll drink it, and if and when you do indulge in that salty/sweet transportation snack, it’ll help dilute it.

3. Stretching – It’s a bad idea to stay seated for hours anyway, but doing so also helps us get nice and bloated. As tempting as it is to stay put, or as much as we want to avoid waking the person next to us while they are seemingly in the deepest slumber ever, it’s got to happen. It’ll keep things moving and circulating, which will help your body feel like it’s just a regular day, rather than one where your digestive system is going bonkers because of excitement and foods that you may not typically eat.

4. Food – So, I started to wonder, what the heck can I eat to prevent feeling like a balloon every time I step foot on any mode of transportation? Here’s a brief list I came up with of easily digestible travel snacks:

Beat the Bloat-1

That’s it! These four simple steps should help you beat the bloat and enjoy your journey, rather than worrying about arriving at your destination feeling gross.

Am I the only one who has noticed this issue, or are there others out there like me? :)

Thinking Out Loud {4/10/14}

Happy Thursday, my friends! Did this week fly by or what? I think it’s the warm weather talking. Everything in life is better when a long, dreadful winter finally unveils a few rays of sunlight.

That up there is the most poetry you’ll ever get out of me. I’m going to link up with Amanda and throw some thoughts at ya, instead!

Thinking-Out-Loud

1. Have you guys heard of Paint Nite? It’s an event where you spend two hours painting with the help of an instructor and a cocktail. I became intrigued when my friend told me about her experience and immediately got to searching, but was turned off by the $65 price tag. Then Living Social came along and slashed that price in half! You get all the supplies you need to make your painting and the instructor, and each event is hosted at bars and bistros around your city. I thought it would make an excellent weekday date night and I’m excited to try it out!

Paintnite

2. As I mentioned in my previous post, we’re doing a bit of a detox here at home and eating as cleanly as possible. When grocery shopping for this occasion, I decided to get some pomegranate juice to throw into smoothies or mix into my water. Imagine my dissatisfaction when I picked up a tiny bottle of Pom and it not only had additives, but was made with concentrate AND cost a ton. I was pretty sure I could find a cheaper, better option. Enter Lakewood Organic, a bottle of squeezed pomegranates sans additives, and not so shockingly, a much lower price tag for a much larger bottle. Love a good find like that!

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3. I’m looking to find some exciting, new recipes for weeknight dinners, especially now that we’re doing a lot of cooking in an effort to avoid going out too often or buying lunch during the day. Having leftovers would be so helpful for the following day’s lunch, so I’d love any quick and easy suggestions! So far, we’ve been making a delicious recipe each day this week found on the pages of amazing bloggers like Christine and Sarah!

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4. My coffee has been tasting like water this week. WHAT.IS.GOING.ON? I’m way too much of a coffee snob to let this issue go unresolved.

5. We’re headed to Florida in just a few short weeks for a friend’s wedding, and we tacked on an additional two days to check out Miami! I’ve never been there but heard that it’s party central. We’re hoping to find the less crowded beaches and local spots and admire the tourist scene from afar. Recommendations always welcome!

miami-beach-1That’s all I’ve got for ya today! Have a warm and wonderful Thursday!

Catching up + Detox

Hey guys! I’m back from my trip and ready to catch back up with real life! Though it was amazing to get away for a while and see some friends, I always start to get a little nervous that I’m losing track of everything when I’m away for more than a few days. My Type-A self is happy to catch up on work and make to-do lists this week.

I’ve also decided to do a bit of a detox the rest of this month.   After a lot of amazing food and drinks and not very much exercise, I need to give my body a break.  I tried it once before after a similar trip, and I found it’s a great way to return from a lot of traveling and get back on track with my workout routine and normal diet.

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When I say “detox,” I don’t mean I’m going to starve myself.  What I do is cut out any added sugar and alcohol, reduce my portions, increase my vegetable intake, and avoid all processed foods and anything with extra ingredients. I typically try to eat like this in general, but between traveling, birthdays, get-togethers, weekday happy hours, and even weekend indulgences, it starts to add up and before I know it, I all but give up on watching what I eat.

Though I wouldn’t give up those vacation related indulgences, I do like to get myself back to eating unprocessed foods and doing regular workouts. When I eat cleaner, I don’t usually have intense cravings for “unhealthy” foods and instead am inspired to keep finding ingredients and recipes that make eating well just as interesting as the occasional pig out ;)

Some “rules” I’ve established for my detoxes are:

  • No more than 1 or 2 ingredients per food item (but it’s best if the only ingredient is said food item!).
  • No added sugar. Only the sugars found naturally in fruits and vegetables are acceptable.
  • No alcohol (usually I outlaw it completely, but I will make weekend/special occasion exceptions this time)
  • No seconds. (But don’t starve yourself – hunger will only make matters worse!)
  • No mindless snacking throughout the day. <—- I’m especially at risk of this because I work from home!

These are the basics, but I’ve varied the intensity of a detox before, by also pulling out all dairy and caffeine, for example.  I’m not going full throttle like that this time (life without my delicious, relaxing morning coffee is just not fun), but you can customize this to work for you. Just remember that the point is not to leave yourself feeling hungry and energy-less, but refreshed, rejuvenated, and back on track with a balanced diet.

Do you ever “detox?” What are some of your favorite foods to eat when you’re trying to eat clean?

It’s Friday!

Happy Friday! I’ve been almost completely MIA this week since I’m on the road, and I miss being fully immersed in the blog world way more than I expected. I’ll be back full force next week! Until then, I wanted to pop in with a couple of favorites to start off the weekend.

Listening to and watching this awesome music video and song, introduced to me by my friend Kelly.

These Western New York sunsets that make me so nostalgic for my college days.

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And hanging out with this guy when I wake up at my friend’s cozy house.

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Have a great weekend, everyone! I’ll see ya next week!

March Happenings

Hello, hello! Can you BELIEVE today is the first day of April? I feel like March just completely flew by. I’ve been busy with a new work project so that may have been the reason, but I feel like just yesterday I was:

1. Starting the #sweathappywithyoga challenge, which was not only an amazing experience, but was hosted by three awesome bloggers: Kim from BusyBod, Paige from Fit Not Fad, and Erin from The Almond Eater. All three of them are clearly great yogis, and were interactive and encouraging throughout. It was so much fun!

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These were some of my favorite poses. Though I have lots of work to do, I learned a lot about each of these moves and it felt great to do even 10 minutes of yoga every day.

2. Cooking up something green for The Healthy Maven’s St. Paddy’s Day link-up! I wasn’t sure I could come up with something both green and tasty, but I did and it was as much fun to photograph as it was to eat! I’ve been a spinach smoothie devotee since. :D

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3. Excited for warmer weather and sunshine. Unfortunately, that has yet to fully materialize, but I have high hopes for this coming week!

March was also a month of great workouts and delicious food. I amped up my Pilates practice and made it a regular part of my routine, and added Doonya, the super fun, super intense Bollywood workout, to my rotation as well.

We had some amazing restaurant week dinners and cooked up some new recipes, several of which I’ll be sharing in April. Overall, it was a packed month!

This week, we’ll be on the road – first to attend my friend Mallory’s vow renewal, and then to visit some college friends! I’m excited to ring in the new month with some of my favorite people.

Here’s to a great April!

5 Ways to Start the Weekend Off Right

Hey guys! Happy Friday!

I hope you all have something nice and relaxing planned for the weekend. I love the endless possibilities of a plan-free Saturday morning, when everything slows down just a little bit and I can savor the little things. Such an amazing mood booster. Here’s one of my favorite routines:

1. Beverage that makes me feel good.

coffeee2. Book or magazine.

coffeeandbook3. Stretch/yoga/workout.

yogabunnies4. Let the sunshine in.

sunshine5. If it’s raining, embrace it.

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 What are some of yours? Have a wonderful weekend!

Sources: (4,1)

Is Butter Making a Comeback?

Happy Thursday! I can’t think of a witty way to launch into my discussion of butter, so I’m just going to stop beating around the bush and tell you that according to a writer at the NY Times, butter – the natural, full fat kind – is making a comeback because it is no longer a threat to our heart health and weight.

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K sent me an article yesterday called “Butter is Back” and prefaced it with “it’s very opinionated, but interesting nonetheless…” This meant he was worried about my reaction, which would undoubtedly be one of complete disagreement.

As someone who takes healthy eating pretty seriously, I try to avoid using butter, sugar, white flour, etc. when I can, but I also take issue with sugar alternatives, processed foods packed with preservatives and additions that I can’t pronounce, and any other “ingredient” that promises the taste of the things we love but try to exclude from our diets. That said, I HAVE found what I believe to be healthy, delicious alternatives to things like butter and even sugar.

If you don’t feel like giving the article a read through, here’s the quick and dirty: due to recent findings that suggest saturated fat may not be bad for us after all, it’s okay to stop the endless search for fat-free this and fat-free that and resume eating real, full fat butter.  It’s not the real butter that’s damaging to our health, it’s all the foods (including other types of “butters”) that are packed with unknown ingredients, sugars, and antibiotics that are causing us harm, especially because they give us the impression that we can eat more of them.

While I don’t think I’ll be using tons of butter in anything any time soon, I do agree with the underlying ideas here. I strongly believe in moderation and don’t think it’s the end of the world to have something sweet or buttery here and there. Findings about saturated fat and sugar, as well as other food contents, will change and come and go. These are things we don’t know for sure- at least not yet.

What about what we do know?

We know that eating a largely plant-based diet works, as does staying active and taking care of our mental health. We know that staying hydrated, sleeping well, keeping our stress levels low and spending time with the people we love works. To me, these are the things that play a very big role in keeping us healthy.

Unfortunately, for the most part, we still don’t know what exactly causes all the terrifying illnesses that as health conscious individuals, we spend lots of time trying to avoid. We should continue trying to avoid them, but by focusing on what we can and do know, which is eating clean, living well, staying active, and yes, eating some butter here and there ;)

Have a beautiful Thursday everyone! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

The Only NYC Winery in Existance + Sunshine

Hey guys! Guess what two very unexpected things occurred this past weekend?

The sun came out. :O

And we toured the only winery in NYC!

Last month, I got my boyfriend two tickets to a wine tour at the City Winery, which is also a restaurant and concert space in Greenwich Village. I’ve actually been there once before for a [delicious] lunch, and even though I knew they poured their wine from taps, it never occurred to me that the whole operation was actually taking place right there in the same building! Of course their grapes are grown elsewhere, in places like California, Oregon, and upstate New York, but they make the wine and age it. Turns out if you have a spare 10k lying around, you can create your own blend, have them store it in a barrel for you, and drink out of it whenever you want. Sounds like a good place to invest a few (hundred) Benjamins!

The whole experience was a lot of fun and very informational, and included a wine and cheese tasting after the tour. If you’re in the city and have an hour to two to spare, I recommend this!

Since it was another one of those rare beautiful days, we walked around the Village some more before meeting friends for an outdoor dinner. It felt so good to sit outside and pretend that snow and bitter cold wouldn’t be in the forecast for another 8 or so months. But alas, we are back to frigid temperatures for the next few days. Lets hope it’s all warmth and sunshine after this!

This week I have lots of work on my plate, but I’m also hoping for some good workouts and a few delicious home-cooked meals. We decided to make March a frugal month since we have a few trips coming up, so there’s been a lot of cooking and a little bit of recipe developing going on in the evenings. I’ll share any good ones over the coming weeks!

Wishing you a wonderful week and a lot of sunshine!

Checking Out: Block Island

Happy Friday! Today sounds like a good day for a little trip…even if it’s just down memory lane.

But when you DO decide to take one, I highly, highly recommend Block Island during the spring or fall, in the off season.

Here’s what I suggest:

See:

  1. South Light – gorgeous lighthouse with sweeping ocean views.
  2. Mohegan Bluffs- after you check out the lighthouse,you’ll see these huge and beautiful steps, which lead down to the water, where you can walk along the beach and admire everything around you.
  3. Block Island Airport- bike over to the airport around lunchtime and eat at Bethany’s Airport diner while you watch small planes land and take off!
  4. Manisses Animal Farm- This little zoo is the best! They have some interesting animals, including camels, a Scottish Highland Steer, and a yak. There are also some fainting goats and even kangaroos. They’re all people-friendly so you can get very close!

Eat:

  1. Eli’s (dinner)
  2. Mohegan Cafe (Brewpub – good for lunch and dinner)
  3. Poor People’s Pub (for a quick lunch or a drink)

*Since we went during the off season, in the spring, several places that I know are great were still closed. The choices were still plentiful, but a couple of good spots were unfortunately closed. I’d still recommend skipping the summer rush and getting the island all to yourself!

Drink:

You can have a drink at any spot on the island, but one of the nicest options is having your own bottle of wine and enjoying it on the porch/backyard of your inn. I highly recommend bringing your own wine, too, because the store on the island is extremely expensive since everything gets delivered from the mainland.

Don’t Miss:

  1. Biking from one end of the island to the other- there are almost no cars on the road and when you get to the island, you can rent a bike or a scooter. We went with bikes for a more earth-friendly option, and it’s great exercise!
  2. Pre-dinner drinks and appetizers at The National, where I haven’t personally been but which comes highly recommended by most people and does look beautiful. It’s also a great place to watch the sunset!
  3. Wine and Nibbles- This is something the inn we stayed at (The Avonlea) and others on the island do in the late afternoon. There’s free wine, delicious homemade cookies, small bites, and a chance to either sit on the porch or by the fireplace, and enjoy the company of other visitors at your inn.

Tips:

  1. Leave your car at home, because the only way to get it here is via ferry and once you’re there, the last thing you feel like doing is driving.
  2. Rent a bike to get around. All inns have bike parking for the night.
  3. There are no hotels or chains here! It’s all adorable, privately owned inns.
  4. Bring your own wine.
  5. Take an Amtrak to Kingston, Rhode Island, and ask someone at the info booth for the phone number of a cab company. You’ll get a ride to Port Judith, RI, where you can buy a ferry ticket straight to the island. The trip from the mainland is about 1 hour.

Enjoy! Block Island is one of the BEST places when you just want to get away from it all and relax.