My 6 Favorite Dallas Spots 3 Months In

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Three months in Dallas? Hi? How? But also I feel like I’ve been here forever! I Three months seemed pivotal enough to document some of my favorite spots thus far. There are a couple repeats from this and this post that I wrote just one and two weeks in. Now three months later, many more places visited, still some of the same faves and still so many places to keep exploring.

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Louie’s
If you live in Dallas, this probably wasn’t the first place you’d think would be on my list, but on the flipside, if you’ve been to Louie’s then you understand. Louie’s is a complete hole in the wall on Henderson known for their pizza and martinis. They are more than just a pizza place, with salmon, a burger, sandwiches, and a filet on the menu, but word from the wise don’t stray from the thin crust build-your-own pizza, big salads, meatballs and crab claws to start! As for the martini’s, they were so hyped up and I thought they would convert me, but even dirty I just can’t sip on gin and pretend like I like it. Louie’s has been on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, so I’ll just leave you with that. Post-September Whole 30, I’m coming for ya Louie’s!

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Central Market
One of my favorite pass times is wandering the aisles at a grocery store. No really. If I need to kill some time or if I’m bored, or if I should be doing a million other things, I’ll often find a reason to end up at the grocery store. I love to do my big shopping on Sundays, but about mid-week I need a pick-me-up and will go stroll down aisles to pick up a little something-something. This is a long way of saying now that Central Market is in my life, this grocery store meandering has heightened. I still love TJ’s, Whole Foods and Sprouts, but Central Market has s a m p l e s. And I mean samples. The bakery section is 100% my weakness and just gosh awful temptation while on Whole30 right now. They have bread of plenty to sample with this whipped butter that should just be sued it’s so good.

My Central Market faves are their fresh verde salsa, homemade tortillas, these crispbreads, the crazy selection of bulk bin items and winding through their maze of a produce section.

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Bishop Arts District
Bishop Arts is tucked away west of downtown and coins the phrase “the most independent neighborhood.” It is quint and has this little mountain town feel to it, reminds me of Colorado. Cute shops (hi All Good Things), and new restaurants are popping up left and right. I got to go to Paradiso last night and everything about it from the design, to the menu to the atmosphere was on point. Some other BA faves and places on my list are Melt Ice Cream, Tribal All Day Cafe, Serve, Lucia, Eno’s Pizza, Coco’s, Botanist and Good Companions. If you have a free Saturday or Sunday, spend it wandering around Bishop Arts!

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photo via Katy Trail

Katy Trail Ice House
I know Katy Trail is a little cliche Dallas, but it truly is my favorite spot in the city. I already wrote about it here! It’s great in the evening, its great during the day on the weekends, fun for watching games, great drinks (Summer Beer) and good food. It’s all outdoors, but you’ll see people in workout clothes just coming off running the Katy Trail, people with their dogs, people dressed up having come straight for work. It’s really great for any time of day or event.

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Honor Bar
Another cliche Dallas spot that I’ve mentioned before, but it’s just flat out good. The vibes, the food, the experiences I’ve had there have all been great. It’s in this corner spot of Highland Park Village with a patio that expands out a bit. It’s always crowded, but for good reason. The ahi tuna, the macho salad and their version of a ranch water make me drool just thinking about them. Props to the Hillstone restaurant group for finding what they are good at and sticking to it. Being in restaurants makes you really appreciate how others do it.

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Royal Blue Grocery
No one should be surprised that two grocery stores made it on this list. Royal Blue is the most charming little grocery and specialty food store, one location in Highland Park Village and one downtown. If you didn’t know, my end goal in life is to open something similar. Think Barefoot Contessa or the bakery Meryl Streep owns in It’s Complicated. Catch me in my 40s or 50s and hopefully that’s where you will find me.

Royal Blue is my current fix to fill my daydreams. Their groceries are wildly overpriced, well everything in there is, but since it’s not my everyday spot (unlike the yuppie Highland Park moms) I feel ok treating myself to a Royal Blue visit every once and a while. My recent Royal Blue crush is their turmeric latte. Just turmeric, ginger, cinnamon (hold the honey #whole30) and steamed almond milk! They also have a vegan cookie butter gelato that is, well, I think you can imagine how amazing it is.

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Honorable Mentions: Oishii, The Pilates Barre, Sachet, Parkhouse, Up On Knox, Javier’s, Highland Park Presbyterian, Eatzi’s, and Terelli’s.

It’s been a stellar 3 months in Dally. Here’s to the next however many months. ILY big D!

Annie

September Whole 30

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Whole 30, something we’ve all heard of by now, something most of us have probably done (I’ve done it twice), and something I’ll be starting up next week! Whole 30 is a month long program devoted to resetting your body by nourishing it with whole foods. While it falls into a “diet” category it really is structured to be so much more. There are multiple success stories out there on how it has changed people’s lives, helped heal autoimmune diseases, and reintroduced people to a love of healthy eating etc.

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Chicken sausage, sweet potato, bell pepper and spinach stir fry that will be seen during my Whole 30! Peep the ugly orange athletic socks.

For me, I love the way it makes me feel and truly love the fun challenge it puts around cooking (food nerd alert). I’ve been on a bit of a bender since moving to Dallas. Rightfully so I think. I’ve wanted to eat, drink and see all the things I can while exploring my new city. Zero regrets, buuuuut it’s time to reign it in. I was talking to a friend a couple weekends ago who is currently following a vegan diet. She lives in D.C. and like me, has eaten and drank all the things while enjoying the summer months. She mentioned how she’s an all or nothing girl. I’m the same. I struggle to just say “I’m going to eat healthy this month,” and actually follow through with it. While I stay pretty regimented during the week, weekends, parties and events come up and all bets are off. Give me every piece of cheese, tortilla chip and dessert in sight.

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Crock-pot chicken loaded in a sweet potato with compliant salsa, guac, and red onions. Based off this recipe.

My experience with Whole 30 in the past has helped control this type of chaotic eating in the best way. The guidelines (aka rules) of Whole 30 give me the structure I need to actually say no in situations like this. I find that acquaintances are more understanding when you say no to a cheesy app or cocktail when you say you are following a program like Whole 30 or vegan or whatever it may be, opposed to just saying, “oh i’m just trying to be healthy.”

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Kale & turkey taco salad with compliant salsa, tomatoes, green onion, avocado and crushed plantain chips.

Ramble on, let’s get to the quick bases of Whole30. For 30 straight days you say yes to whole foods, quality animal protein, and all the veggies. You say no to dairy, legumes, sugar and grains. With the way our cooking and healthy eating mindset has shifted in the past few years, this isn’t as daunting as it used to be. I completed my version of Whole 30 August 2016 and January 2017. I wrote a post going more into the program and links to some favorite recipes here.

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Sliced banana drizzled with creamy almond butter, tahini and a sprinkle of cinnamon - my favorite non-egg Whole 30 breakfast.

Is anyone else doing September Whole 30? It kicks off Monday, September 2nd and runs until Tuesday, October 1st. I mentioned above that I have done Whole 30 twice, that being said it has been “my” version of Whole 30. I give myself grace and may slip a drink in here and there on the weekends, but I do try to keep in under control. Because the more alcohol I drink, the more grains, sugar and non-whole 30 items I crave. Whole 30 also tells you to restart to day 1 if you slip up. Let’s get real, a mistake here and there is okay. If I have a non-Whole 30 food, I move on and do better the next day.

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I have a couple friends here in Dallas who are doing Whole 30 with me. I’m excited to branch out on my cooking and do a few special dinners with them. However, my biggest advice for Whole 30 is don’t overthink it. People often complain about the amount of money they spend on groceries and the meat heavy dishes. I try to keep things easy and not out of my wheelhouse, by including smoothies or eggs for breakfast, loaded salads or snack boards for lunch and some kind of easy chicken and veggie dish or soup/chili for dinner. No need to buy an instant pot or air fryer just to successfully complete Whole 30 ;) Below I’ve included some Take A Bite Whole 30 approved recipes and a round up of recipes I hope to try in this upcoming month.

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Whole 30 recipes I love already or hope to make:
Hibachi Style Chicken with Magic Mustard Sauce (my fave Defined Dish meal, pictured above)
Buffalo Chopped Chicken Salad
Ultimate Chicken Taco Salad
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Kale + Chicken Waldorf Salad
Everything Bagel Chicken Salad
Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Tom Kha Gai Soup
Spicy Potato Kale Bowls with Mustard Tahini Sauce

Give my Whole 30 Pinterest board a follow and I’ll be sure to update it through the month.

Go to Whole 30 Meals/Snacks:
Cobb Salad
Taco Salad
Banana or Apple with almond butter
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Loaded Salads
Chicken Sausage Stir Frys (just make sure your sausage is sugar free)
Smoothies
Breakfast for Dinner with scrambled eggs, bacon and roasted sweet potatoes
Spaghetti Squash
Plantain Chips with Guacamole or Salsa
RX Bars
Dates with Almond Butter

Helpful links:
Approved RX Bars
Approved Larabars
Trader Joe’s Whole 30 Staples
Aldi Whole 30 Staples
Whole 30 Approved Almond Milk

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The best Whole 30 snack or dessert - medjool date and almond butter!

Now that you’ve read all of this and may be gearing up for a #SeptemberWhole30 yourself, I want to leave you with this article. While this article brings up a fantastic point and many many things I agree with,I still plan to complete Whole 30 next month. Having completed whole 30 twice and successfully not gone on a rapid binge day 31 I’m feeling confident about the 30 day and beyond challenge. But, read this article, be mindful of it and take it as you want.

Annie

Are you doing #SeptemberWhole30? Comment below if you are or if you have questions!

3-Bean Salad

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One of my best friends has been following a vegan diet for the past few months and claims she has never felt better. I eat vegetarian accidentally all the time and have tried eating vegan once before. There is a ton of information out there about the benefits of veganism, so I thought I’d challenge my self to eat plant based last week. I prepped some delicious overnight oats, and this delicious 3-bean salad, but dinner got away from me when I ended up at a new Dallas hot spot and dove into enchiladas completely forgetting about my “vegan” diet. OOPS!

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Anyway, back to this salad. I love beans, but I feel like they can get a bad rap. For vegans and vegetarians, beans are an incredible source of protein. Even for meat eaters, I think we should all love a bean now and then. There was a little sandwich spot at OU that my friends and I loved to go to. I’d almost always order a 1/2 sandwich and salad combo with my salad choice being their 3-bean salad. It wasn’t a popular opinion amongst my fellow 20 year olds, but I loved the kidney bean, green bean and chickpea salad they served.

I’m going down a rabbit hole and I’m not surprised if I lost you, but if you are still here, I’m basically just here to tell you that this 3-bean salad is great. Great for lunch balanced with some berries or apple on the side, would be great as a side at a barbecue or could even make a great dip with Fritos or tortilla chips kind of like a Texas Caviar situation.

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3-Bean Salad
yields about 4, 1 cup servings

Ingredients:
1 -15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1-15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1-15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado, cubed
2-3 Tbsps. olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste (I use a decent amount)

In a large mixing bowl add first six ingredients. If serving immediately add avocado. If serving later, wait to add avocado until time to eat. Add in olive oil, lime juice and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Serve as an entree with fruit, a side dish or with chips for a dip!

Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Will stay good for 5-7 days (without avocado). I take this salad as lunch and divide amongst 4 of my favorite jars and take 1/4 of an avocado with me to add day of right before I eat.

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Annie

2 Ingredient Shakshuka: MY Go-To Clean Out The Fridge Meal

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I pride myself on clean out the fridge meals. It’s honestly shocking what I can do with a near empty fridge. My mom can attest to this. Anytime I’m over she’ll say “oh we have nothing to eat!,” but a few minutes later and I have some kind of loaded salad situation or a plate of nachos. My past roommates could say the same.

Today’s meal is exhibit A of me having nothing but a few eggs in the fridge and no effort to go to the store. I first started making this meal a couple years ago when I lived with my roommate at the time, Kenzie. She had a half empty bottle of marinara, I had two eggs, and we had an abundance of basil growing in the backyard. Enter: shakshuka.

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Shakshuka originates from North Africa, made often with tomato sauce seasoned with cumin, paprika, chilis, garlic, and nutmeg. My version lends itself more Italian thanks to a jar of pre-made marinara and some basil. I call it 2-ingredient because all you need are eggs and sauce, but if you have some basil and red pepper flakes your dish will have a little more pizzazz. Oh, and salt and pepper don’t count in the number of ingredients, don’t @ me.

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2 Ingredient Shakshuka
yields 1 serving (can easily be doubled to serve 2, see not below)*

Ingredients:
1 cup marinara sauce
2 eggs
salt and pepper
optional: fresh basil and red pepper flakes

Directions:
In an 8-inch or omelet size pan, heat your marinara over medium heat for 1 minute. Using a small spatula, create 2 wells in the sauce that you can crack the eggs into. Crack and carefully lower egg into each well. Continue to cook over medium for 5 minutes. Then cover with a lid and cook for one minute to finish cooking the whites. Immediately remove from heat to avoid over cooking the yolks.

Sprinkle the top with a little salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and fresh basil if you have it. Grab a fork and a placemat or towel to set your hot pan on, and enjoy straight from the dish!

*If you are making for 2, I find a cast iron skillet to be the perfect size pan for twice the sauce and 4 eggs. Once cooked, scoop into shallow bowls and serve with crusty bread and a green salad for a complete meal.

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**Disclosure, you do not need to reserve this meal for simply cleaning out the fridge. It’s perfectly acceptable to buy a new jar of marinara and a new carton of eggs just for this recipe!

Annie

Verde Chicken + Black Bean Cauliflower Rice Bowl

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Healthy 👏easy 👏weeknight 👏meal! This dish has burrito bowl vibes, but cuts the cals with cauliflower rice. I add cumin, lime juice and fresh cilantro to the “rice” to amp it up a bit and the whole thing comes together great.

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I keep it green with salsa verde, lots of cilantro, lime and avocado. I’m on a black bean kick, so those were a must and add an extra protein boost next to the chicken. Considering I bought the salsa instead of making my own and used a rotisserie chicken, this dish is e a s y.

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Verde Chicken + Black Bean Cauliflower Rice Bowl
yields 4 servings

Ingredients:
3 cups frozen riced cauliflower
2 cups shredded chicken (rotisserie works great)
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado
salsa verde
salt and pepper

Directions:
In a non-stick pan over medium low heat, sauté your cauliflower rice for about 3-4 minutes. You do not need any oil in the pan. Stir in the cumin, freshly squeezed lime juice and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Divide the “rice” evenly amongst 4 bowls. Top each bowl with chicken, black beans and salsa verde. Add avocado slices, the rest of the chopped cilantro and a pinch of salt and pepper.

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Annie