Columbus, OH … My favorite city

Hi everyone and happy Saturday!! A few weeks ago, Jeff and I traveled back to Ohio for a wedding. This was the first time Jeff had been back to Columbus since I graduated, so we were definitely inclined to make the most of this short trip!

As always, hitting my favorite food spots was at the top of my list. I thought I would go through some of my favorite Columbus restaurants just incase your travels take you to this wonderfully quirky and fun city! I’m going to start with breakfast and work my way up to dinner and dessert. Enjoy!

Breakfast:

Northstar Cafe

Nothing will ever replace this choice for me. Northstar was one of my favorite breakfast spots when I was living in Columbus and of course didn’t disappoint during our trip home. This cute and trendy restaurant serves food all day, but their breakfast is definitely something to brag about. Whether you are looking for savory or sweet, there is an option for everyone!

My favorite dish is the Sweet Potato and Turkey Hash, which consists of applewood smoked turkey, red pepper, sweet onion, sautéed sweet potato, and 2 sunny side up eggs. If you are looking to the perfect plate of protein and veggies, this is it! A close second is the Big Burrito which also contains roasted sweet potatoes and eggs as well as organic black beans, sautéed peppers and onions, white cheddar cheese, and house made salsa wrapped in a warm tortilla. If you have a sweet tooth, make sure to try the black cherry preserves on a warm buttermilk biscuit!

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Lunch:

Alchemy Juice Bar + Cafe

While I didn’t get to visit this yummy little spot this trip, I have had the pleasure of eating at Alchemy before. It is such a little treat! The menu is always changing, so expect something new and yummy if you become a frequent flyer.

Now… let’s talk about the toast. I am a toast fanatic. Give me a hearty piece of toast topped with delicious ingredients, and I am a happy girl! Alchemy has a unique list of yummy toast options that can satisfy any palate whether you are looking for savory or a little sweet. If you like the traditional PB and banana, I suggest you try the Banana Almond Butter toast topped with a thick spread of almond butter, sliced bananas, cacao nibs, cinnamon, and maple syrup. It is absolutely delicious!

Dinner:

Marcella’s

If you want a quaint and charming dinner with an amazing atmosphere and a delicious menu this is definitely one of my top choices! Close to night life or other charming cafes, bars, and boutiques, Marcella’s is located in the heart of the Short North. Every tim I go to this restaurant it’s packed with people waiting for a table or enjoying a drink at the bar.

This was one of my favorite spots to bring my mom when I was a student at Ohio State. The menu consists of traditional Italian dishes such as Chicken Parmesan and Spaghetti and Meatballs, as well as trendy and unique menu items such as Crispy Potato Pizza with pancetta, parmesan onions, and arugula. It is the perfect place to gather with family or friends and enjoy a great meal with good company!

Dessert:

Jeni’s Ice Cream

Whether you are in the mood for Sweet Cream Biscuits and Peach Jam or traditional Cookies and Cream, Jeni’s has a little something for everyone. If you are looking for something to liven up your tastebuds, this is definitely a place to visit. All of Jeni’s ice creams are buttery and smooth without fillers, artificial flavors, dies, or emulsifiers. If you want a pure and simply satisfying scoop of ice cream, Jeni’s will definitely check your box!

Oh and incase you were wondering…. they deliver! My mom has shipped us a holiday pack of Jeni’s ice cream all the way to Arizona, and it tasted just as good as it does in the cone!

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La Grande Orange Grocery

Ok, I know I skipped a few weeks but it is time for another local eats post! Today I’m talking a little about La Grande Orange, which is one of my favorite brunch and/or lunch spots!

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Located on 40th St. and Campbell in the center of Arcadia, this quirky and unique “grocery” is fill with eclectic grocery and decorative items to purchase, fun and funky desserts, and a variety of sandwiches, salads, and fun breakfast dishes. Don’t worry, they also have pizza if you aren’t in the mood for a salad!

Every time I have a guest or visitor from out of town, I always want to take them by this spot! The grocery part of the restaurant has so many fun items to look through, such as unique cook books, specialty birthday or holiday cards, jewelry and clothing from local designers, a variety of wine and beer, and other unique items that can serve as fun gifts or conversation pieces.

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Every time my mom is in town, she loves to go through and pick up a few items to take back with her. We also can’t help but grab a few of the desserts to share with our family. If you are a dessert lover or have special dietary needs, there are also gluten-free options if needed!

What are my favorite items at La Grande Orange? If I am coming for brunch, I almost always get the Heriloom Brown Rice Bowl which is made with quinoa, black beans, pistachios, feta, greens, a fried egg, and harissa. It is filling, super flavorful, and perfect after an early morning hike! I am also a big fan of the Vegetarian Sandwich filled with fresh veggies, herbed goat cheese, and havarti.

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I owe a lot of my favorite local finds to one of my good friends who also shares my love of food and eating local! When I first moved to Phoenix, she was the first fried to really help me feel at home and get me involved in all that Arizona has to offer in terms of food and fitness! Because of her, I also love to hike and explore new trails throughout Arizona. There is so much that this wonderful state has to offer, all you have to emerse yourself in the culture of Phoenix and enjoy!

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OHSO Brewery & Distillery

Time for another local eats review! I can truly say hub and I have tested this one out thoroughly. OHSO Brewery & Distillery is just a few blocks down from our home and is dog friendly, so when we are looking to take out our pup, this is our spot!

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The back of the restaurant has an indoor/outdoor atmosphere with space for kids (or dogs!) to run around, play, and test out different games such as corn hole or ping pong! If you are a dog lover, this is definitely a spot your want to check out!

With a variety of local and seasonal brews, this spot is great to have a cold beer on a sunny afternoon or refreshing cocktail made from locally distilled vodkas. There are a variety of fun and funky food options as well as small bites that are perfect for sharing! OHSO offers brunch, lunch, and dinner and has 2 happy hours that run during normal afternoon hours and late at night for those who want to stay out a bit later.

If you enjoy a good burger or sandwich, I can definitely give you a few recommendations! My favorites are The Gobbler (a turkey burger topped with pear compote, spring mix, bacon and tomato; usually pair this with sweet potato fries) and the Grilled Cheese (a cheese combinations of gouda, mozzarella, prosciutto, and tomato jam; usually pair this with a side salad and citrus vinaigrette).

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If you’re curious what I look for in a restaurant before checking it out, here are a few things that tends to spark my interest…

  1. It’s not a chain! — This is within reason. A few of my favorite places to eat, such as True Foods, aren’t necessarily chains but have a few locations out here on the west coast/mid west. If its a place that you can’t find off any highway or in any state, I am definitely interested!
  2. Unique menu — I love something that is a little different. I am also a big fan of small bites, so if I can try a variety of things on your menu in small portions I am definitely going to go check it out! Local beer or wine list? Even better!
  3. There’s a healthy twist — By this I mean a few things. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a “healthy restaurant” or a restaurant that is know for serving lots of vegetables or only gluten-free foods. If there are options or ways to tailor foods to specific diets, I consider that a healthy twist. Of course, a big old plate of roasted veggies doesn’t hurt either 🙂
  4. Local ingredients — I’ve already explained that I love eating local and supporting local farms, orchards, you name it! If there is a place that locally sources ingredients, you can sign me up!

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My Kitchen Essentials

It’s almost Friday!!! I can’t even put into words how excited I am for this weekend. I am in definite need of a little relaxation time and some time in the kitchen. Cooking and baking is a stress-relieving hobby for me, so after a long week letting my mind wander in the kitchen always sounds appealing.

Thanks to one of my readers, I am going to do a different kind of post today and talk about some of my kitchen essentials! Cooking or baking has to start somewhere right? What are the things that I can’t live without or use very frequently?

Below I will provide links to some of my favorite products as well as alternatives that may be a bit cheaper or found at more convenient stores. Most of my kitchen supplies are from Crate and Barrel, but I have purchased from other places such as Sur La Table and Target. Thankfully, my wedding registry provided a lot of my basic pieces (thank you again to anyone who sent something our way!!), but I have picked up a few odds and ends myself that have really helped us build our collection. Everyone has a “kitchen style” and mine is pretty simple and clean lined with a few pops of color 🙂

I hope this inspires you to go through your own kitchen, take a look at what you have, what you need, and what you would like! Make your kitchen a “special place” and you will be more likely to not only enjoy the space, but actually want to cook more often! Happy Thursday everyone!

Cookware

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Lodge Cast Iron Enamel Dutch Oven $$

I use this product on a weekly basis, whether it is to cook soups, chili, sauce, or many other of my favorite dishes. It keeps your food warm long after you turn the heat off and is a great staple to have and utilize frequently. Warning — it is SO heavy! Sometimes I realize how weak my arm muscles are after trying to clean this bad boy!

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Calphalon Contemporary Non-Stick Fry Pans $$

I purchased this two piece set after our wedding and absolutely love it. They are so easy to clean and truly limit any sticking from food. The inside has a triple layer of non-stick coating. A great investment if you cook often or need a set of good pans!

Utensils/Prep

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Wusthof Gourmet 18-Piece Knife Set $$$$$

While this set is a little pricey, it is definitely worth it for a great quality, full knife set. Whether you are cutting some of those stubborn, hard veggies like spaghetti squash or sweet potatoes or slicing a loaf of bread, there truly is a knife for everything! It’s no secret that I’m not very strong, so I need all the help I can get with sharp utensils to help prevent me from slipping while chopping or slicing!

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Comparable product: KitchenAid Classic Stainless Steel Set $$$

While I haven’t tried this product out, it received 5 stars and is well-priced at $89.99 for a 12 piece set!

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Flexible Grip Mats $

These easy-to-clean mats make chopping and cutting a breeze! Color coordinate different food groups with different mats to prevent cross contamination (such as all raw meats go on white). Don’t put these in the dishwasher! Hand wash only!

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Sur La Table Ceramic Mixing Bowls $$$

If you follow my Instagram feed, you probably saw when I received these! I purchased the set of 3 bowls which are PERFECT for prep or can be set out for serving large salads, pasta dishes, etc. These bowls are not only practical and functional, but I think they are so pretty! I love clean, simple and white or cream, so these were the perfect addition to my mixing/serving bowl collection!

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Comparable Product: Anchor Hocking 4 Piece Mixing Bowls $

I have not used these bowls, but this simple set of four glass bowls is fairly priced and received a 4.5 star rating.

Decorative

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Place mats $$

If you’ve ever been to my home you’d know my table is always set. Even thought it is just my husband and I, it makes me so happy to come home to a set table. I change it with the seasons and love to jazz it up when we have guests or family over! I attached a link to one of my favorite new prints from Crate and Barrel, as well as picture of some of my other favs!

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Decorative Dish Towels $

I LOVE a cute dish towel. This is something that I have started to collect from Crate and Barrel since prior to our wedding, or I sometimes will pick up a fun towel if I see it at an art or craft show! I have a huge collection that is still growing (I may need to get a second drawer)! I have attached a link for one of my new favorites from Crate and Barrel! These can also be changed with the season and are great conversation pieces.

Art/Decor $$$

One of my good friends in Phoenix does custom pieces of calligraphy artwork and decor. Her pieces are not only for the kitchen but also throughout your house or for special occasions. I am all about motivational quotes, sayings, or things to keep my kitchen a happy and bright place! Her recent piece for me was the perfect fit! I will definitely be ordering more it the future!

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Postino Wine Cafe

Ok my foodie friends! Time for another one of my FAVORITE local eats. Today I’m going to talk a little about Postino Wine Cafe. If you are wanting a little fun and funky atmosphere, some amazing small bites or unique and fresh entree options, and of course a glass of wine or two… this is your spot!

While this brand is growing and more locations are popping up throughout the valley, my favorite is still the Arcadia branch, located on Campbell and 44th Street. I think the reason I tend to go to this location is because it truly has the local, quaint feel that I love in a restaurant. With an indoor/outdoor vibe, wine bottles throughout the seating area, and a unique menu that has a little something for everyone, I could spend hours here people watching and enjoying a local, fresh bite to eat.

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Now, what makes their menu so unique? Besides the fact that there are plenty of healthy gluten-free, vegetarian, or health conscious options, their pick-4 bruschetta board can truly make anyone get excited for their food to come. Talk about options! I remember the first time I sat down with a friend and she asked if I wanted to split the board, I couldn’t understand why she was so excited? Now, having tried a variety of their choices I see why she had the reaction she did.

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Each flavor combination is better than the next…. seriously! With options like Sweet & Spicy Pepper Jam with Goat Cheese, Ricotta with Dates & Pistacios, and not to mention the variety of seasonal options available, how are you supposed to choose just four?! If you choose to check out this local favorite, I beg you to try this board. I promise (well… I am 99.9% sure) that you will fall in love with the unique flavors that this cafe has been able to create.

If you enjoy a glass of wine, obviously they offer a variety of choices, as well as a few local and craft beers. This is a charming and cute spot for a relaxed date night or just a night out with the girlfriends! I brought a friend here during her visit last month, and I think she was entirely pleased!

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I just want to leave this post with something a little personal about me and my transition through “healthy eating”. When it comes to eating out, I thoroughly enjoy trying new things and new places. Obviously I love eating local, but something that has changed a lot with me over the past few years is the types of foods that I “allow” myself to eat. I quote that, because over the past few years I have adapted a better concept of being “balanced” with my eating. I have learned that if I want to try something that may have a few more calories than my typical salad or bun-less veggie or turkey burger, I should not hesitate to do it!

It is OK to enjoy the experience of trying new foods or eating out at one of your favorite restaurants. One special meal will not ruin your health efforts! Something that I do to help me moderate my portions when we are eating a special meal or trying something a little more calorie dense is split the meal with my husband. Bless his soul that he has become more open to doing this with me so that we can enjoy these experiences together and both get to try something new! If he really doesn’t want to split something (there are those times when his appetite is bigger than I can keep up with!), I will usually stop eating the second I feel sensations of fullness and box up the rest of my meal for leftovers. It is that simple! I hope you can use some of these tips to help you do the same and enjoy your experiences with eating out and trying new foods!