Bites of My Life

May, my favorite month! May means April is over (a commonly busy/stressful month for me), summer is on the horizon, temperatures finally start acting like the time of year it is, and it's my birthday month!

Two very busy back to back weeks and weekends are over. They were fun and rewarding, but I'm glad to have those two stressful, busy, and tiring weeks behind me. Now I'm just looking forward to enjoying the summer-like temperatures, the relaxed vibe this time of year brings and especially looking forward to a bachelorette party in Austin this weekend for my Staysh girl and then some celebrating of my favorite momma for Mother's Day!

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-New "Lite Bite" post! Thai Chicken Lettuce Boats. 
-On an avocado toast KICK! Current version is smashed avocado with Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel seasoning on a piece of Dave's Killer Bread Cinnamon Raisin. The sweetness of the bread totally works and compliments the avocado. 
-All kinds of new dishes coming to The Jones Assembly menu. Somehow getting to taste, photograph and give my feedback on the dishes is included in my job title. Not sure how I got so lucky. On that note, I also just celebrated my 2 year anniversary with the best company around!
-Current protein shake crush: frozen pineapple, frozen cauliflower, ginger, avocado (for creaminess), vanilla protein powder and coconut water.
-5 o'clock at the oasis (name that show) aka mom and dad's backyard.
-Winning combo for weekend mornings. Arbonne detox tea and NEW gold gel eye masks. 
-Can't do wedding dance floors without these two. 
-#FiestaDeFranklin.
-Love getting to be this chick's aunt!

Annie

Restaurant Review: Iguana Mexican Grill

Iguana Mexican Grill is a name familiar to most who live in or around Oklahoma City. Iguana has been around for about a decade, but has a new vibe to surprise you with. Tucked into 9th Street off Automobile Alley, Iguana is packing a new punch. 

Throughout January, Iguana closed for a brief stint to revamp their space and menu. OKC's taco and tex-mex competition has been upping it's game recently. I applaud Iguana for taking this as an opportunity to stay in the game instead of sinking to the bottom. After seeing Sara Kate share this spoiler a few weeks ago on Instagram, I was even more anxious to see what they had done with the space. 

I've enjoyed Iguana as an easy spot for dinner, the occasional brunch, even a few events. Last week I stopped in for lunch to see what they had to offer post-revamp. Right behind the hostess stand you are greeted with a bright pink neon sign reading "Make Tacos Not War." I now want this for my bedroom. They removed the wall blocking off the bar area, creating a more open space with a community table and bar stools, perfect for happy hour.

We were seated in the original and main dining room, taking a seat at the banquette they created all along the east wall. Little aztec print pillows were scattered along the booth seat. The revamped Iguana is full of pink, turquoise, bright blue, lime green and other bright and playful colors. The food dishes now equally represent those colors too.  

I took my trusty eating partner, Kathleen, knowing that she would be more than happy to share and take bites off each other's plates. Not that guacamole isn't always great, but I'm on a guacamole kick right now. Salsa, sure, queso, I'll pass, I just want the guac. Iguana's GM, Ross, brought out a sampler of guacamoles with all different toppings. Kathleen loved the pineapple, I loved the smoky pepitas. 

For our entrees, I splurged a bit and got the chimichurri chicken with lime rice and veggies. I purposely got a bigger entree knowing my fridge was empty and that my leftovers would be perfect for dinner #noshame.  Kat got the fish taco "a la tuma" style with refried black beans and jalapeño cheese corn bread. What's a la tuma you ask? Named after an Iguana employee, they take the taco tortilla, but first sprinkle cheese directly on the flat top, put the tortilla over it, let the cheese get barely crispy then flip it over and fill the taco. The lunch menu averages around $10 a dish and serves perfect portions for lunch and Mexican food, for that matter.  

The updated menu is a foodgrammer's dream. So much color and so photogenic. The old Iguana fell into the brown, tan and yellow spectrum. The new Iguana is bright, vibrant and flavorful. Colorful food typically leads to better taste too. At least in my opinion!

The food, decor and service were all what I hoped for. Big ups to our server Alex who was as great as our meal! But make sure to take a bathroom break to check out this adorable wallpaper!

And since sister is pregnant, churros for dessert. I have to be honest I refrained to keep from going into a sugar coma and falling asleep during the remainder of my work day. But by her facial expressions and sound effects, I could tell they were delicious! 

Has it been a while since your last Iguana visit? With lunch, brunch, dinner, happy hour specials 2-7PM, $1.50 tacos on Tuesday's, catering and events, they have so much to lure you in. Take a peek back to see all the positive changes they've made! 

Annie

Let's work together! I'd love to review your restaurant. Email me annie@takeabiteblog.com so we can chat!
*Disclaimer: This is not a paid promoted post but I was partially paid in kind for compensation.

10 Products I Love & 10 Products to Try at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's Oklahoma City

Trader Joe's Oklahoma City

The big league city that is Oklahoma City, and the place I call home is FINALLY getting a Trader Joe's. Officially opening Friday the 23rd at 8am. I can hardly stand the wait. 

I fell in love with TJ's the summer I lived in DC and have been deprived ever since. Anytime I'm on vacation or a weekend trip to Texas, I make a stop at their Trader Joe's to pick up my favorite almond butter and trail mix. It's a full on love affair with this quirky grocery store. I'm not shy to share my love, leading to posts like this...

I'm not the most experience Trader Joe's shopper, for obvious reasons, but I do have some tried and true favorites I pick up on the rare occasions I'm in the same city as a TJ's. Today I'm sharing my 10 faves, as well as 10 items I can't wait to try. I stalk every blog post, article, report, instagram feed, etc. that devotes itself to the best Trader Joe's products. I feel confident I've come up with a well crafted list of things to try.

10 Products I Love:

1. Raw Crunchy Almond Butter This is without a doubt my favorite almond butter. It's very thin and needs a good stir when you open it, but it's perfect for that almond butter drizzle over oats or smoothie bowls all foodgrammers dream of. And #teamcrunchy just cause.

via the trader joes experience 

via the trader joes experience 

2. Cashew Butter Just like the bottle says it's creamy and salty and delicious. Cashews are my favorite nut so I obvi wig out over cashew butter. So great with apple slices, but also perfect for savory things like dipping carrots & broccoli into or for asian sauces. 

3. Rolled Oats This massive bag is so cheap and lasts forever. Makes a great bowl of oatmeal, but I mainly use this big bag more for baking or making granola. 

4. Tomato-Less Corn Salsa With chips dipped straight in or served over tacos, fish, chicken or in taco salad!

5. Macadamias mix Gingerly with Cranberries & Almonds Trail Mix Okay so look past the Omega Trek Mix image and into the background. This was my DC discovery and helped me get through the afternoon slump of my summer internship. The little bits of crystalized ginger are the best part and makes it my favorite trail mix EVER.

6. Feta Dip This one's for you Anna! When I visited Anna this summer I was greeted with a glass of rosé and this feta cheese spread served with pita chips. We scraped the container clean despite the dinner reservations we had.

7. Body Butter TJ's has some sneaky awesome beauty products that shouldn't go overlooked. I picked this up on a whim and it works so well for my dry eczema skin. The pumpkin version is faboo too. 

8. Cookie Butter Cups You live under a rock if you haven't heard of cookie butter. It's kind of like Trader Joe's mascot. Unable to eat Reese's cups, these cookie butter cups are the perfect replacement and most likely better IMO.

9. Greek Yogurt Say hello to my breakfast every morning the summer I lived in DC. At only $0.99 a cup, they were perfect for my wallet and appetite. I love pomegranate and vanilla bean! 

10. Green Tea Mints This was an impulse check out purchase that I didn't regret. Actually so good and great for after lunch. 

10 Products I Want to Try:

1. Bollywood Popcorn 100% buying this. Jai ho!

2. Frozen Falafel Wrapped in a pita with tzatziki? Yes please!

3. Frozen Vegan Tikka Masala I'm not a frozen meal person, but this one is on just about every list. 

Via  pInterest

4. Parsnip Chips Intrigued! Dipped in hummus or guac.

5. Honey Sesame Almonds Trader Joe's nut section is dreamy. These almonds, coconut cashews, truffle marcona almonds, chili lime cashews etc. all at the best prices. I can't wait to try these. 

6. Riced Veggies (Cauliflower and Broccoli) To sneak into smoothies or as a rice alternative!

7. Balsamic Glaze Perfect on my Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Figs.

8. Sweet Potato Gnocchi I tried to make sweet potato gnocchi one time and it was such a fail. I'll leave it up to trusty Trader Joe's instead now. 

9. Vanilla Almond Spiced Chai Protein Smoothie Everything I like in one bottle.

10. Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream I have the driest hands so this is a must try!

For all you Trader Joe's veterans, any products that are a MUST? Let me know in the comments. For all you readers, get ready for the slew of TJ's products that will soon be seen all over Take A Bite. For all you OKCers, I'll see you Friday. And after you all swoop up a jar of cookie butter make sure you put it to use by making my Cookie Butter Popcorn, Cookie Butter Rice Krispies or just by the spoonful, whatever you prefer. 

p.s. I trust Gaby and Monique with all things food. Check out their full lists of favorites here, here and here

Annie

Bites About Town: Best Matcha Latte in OKC

I've been preaching to the matcha choir lately, but if you haven't tried it yet I urge you to! Matcha is green tea leaves made into a powder giving you the purest form of it's nutrients. I had my first matcha latte about two years ago, but have just recently gotten boarder line addicted to them. They have an energy boost for those who are looking to weed off of coffee, but nothing too strong to make you jittery if you can't handle the caffeine like me.

If you are a matcha lover or a matcha newbie this post is still for you. I fed my addiction and went on a quest about town to find the best matcha latte in OKC. All contenders have something special about them, but I kept pretty honest about my opinions on each. They are ranked on a scale of 1-5, all ordered with almond milk and all ordered hot as compared to iced to keep it consistent. 

Evoke
Matcha: Woodshed Tea Matcha Latte Mix (comes pre-sweetened)
Things to note: They offer Skim, Whole, Almond and Soy milk. They use a matcha mix that comes pre-sweetened. It's not too sweet though. Can't be unsweetened. 
Verdict: 5, Go Evoke! Their matcha is so creamy dreamy I catch myself daydreaming about it. Combined with velvety steamed almond milk they win! 

All About Cha
Matcha: Not sure :/ Sorry!
Things to note: They offer two sizes either love or passion, it is ordered as a "green tea latte" instead of matcha. They also offer a cappuccino, con panna, macchiato and freddo version. Milks include skim, 2%, whole, soy and almond.  You can get it sweetened or unsweetened. 
Verdict: 5, All About Cha ties! They were my first taste at a Matcha Latte and still one of my favorites.

Clarity Coffee
Matcha: Woodshed Tea Matcha Latte Mix (comes pre-sweetened)
Things to note: They offer a wide variety of milks like hemp, coconut, and almond. They use the same matcha mix as Evoke. 
Verdict: 2. Matcha lattes are hard to make. I've tried several times at home. I think it takes a fairly skilled person to make a matcha latte. That being said, I'm not sure if it was the barista to blame or if they just don't have it down yet, but it was not good. There was no flavor and it was full of chunks of matcha. No one wants a chunky latte. I'm open to trying it again seeing as though they use the same tea mix as Evoke and I love Evoke's, but I was pretty turned off by the first time. Bonus points for looking so pretty!

Urban Teahouse
Matcha: Their own matcha powder
Things to note: Kristy, the owner, is a tea genius and is there to answer any questions you may have. This is a good place to start if you are new to matcha. She allows you to customize your sweetener and level of sweetness (1-3). She also has a collection of milks, including some local options. With this spot being a "teahouse" you are getting a very well crafted tea beverage by someone who knows what they are doing. Only comes in to-go cups. They also offer a killer matcha lemonade!
Verdict: 4. I'm still playing around with my level of sweetness. I've varied between a level 1-2 using raw sugar. This latte has a more raw matcha taste. It's the purest matcha I've tasted. 

Leaf + Bean
Matcha: Urban Teahouse matcha powder
Things to note: The time I went in they did not ask me if I wanted it sweetened or unsweetened. It had no flavor and tasted like raw powder. 
Verdict: 2. Piggy backing off my experience at Clarity, it very well could have been the barista making my drink the day I went it, but again, it was just bad. No flavor. It definitely needed a little sweetener, but that option wasn't given to me. The foamy texture was good but the flavor was not there. 

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Woodshed Coffee + Tea
Matcha: Woodshed Matcha Latte Mix
Things to note: Woodshed started as a shelf product, but they then moved to open a brick - and - mortar. I mentioned before that Evoke and Clarity use Woodshed’s latte mix. It is pre-sweetend, but gosh it’s good. I prefer my matcha latte hot, but Woodshed also offers a matcha cold brew that is crazy good. They steep matcha powder in their house made oatmik over night then bottle it and serve it cold. Hot or cold make sure to order with their oatmilk.
Verdict: 4. The house made almond milk makes this so unique.

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Stella Nova
Matcha: unsure
Things to note: Stella Nova is very similar to a Starbucks, but better. It’s cleaner, staff is nicer and the chairs are more comfortable. They refer to their matcha as a Green Tea Latte, but they have assured me their matcha powder does not contain sugar, unlike Starbucks. I get mine with almond milk, and at SN they use a vanilla almond milk. While this probably adds some extra sugar, I make sure to order mine unsweetened/without syrup so I don’t feel so bad about it.
Verdict: 5. I love this drink. The vanilla almond milk steams so nicely and makes for a super creamy and not bitter drink.

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Stitch
Matcha: unsure
Things to note: Stitch has the best vibes, they could serve me anything and I would think it was good. I love this matcha because of how perfectly they steam their milk. It is slightly bitter, but I order mine unsweetened. For a sugar free latte this one is a good one.
Verdict: 4.

a homemade matcha is always a favorite too! I use  Vital Proteins Matcha collagen  blended with coconut butter, vanilla, cinnamon and hot water

a homemade matcha is always a favorite too! I use Vital Proteins Matcha collagen blended with coconut butter, vanilla, cinnamon and hot water

**UPDATE - This may be surprising but my vote for Best Matcha in OKC goes to Stella Nova. The matcha is smooth and not incredibly bitter and the way they combine it with a vanilla almond milk makes for a sinfully tasting matcha that is so creamy and flavorful without being too sweet. {So there you have it. In my opinion you can find the best matcha latte at Evoke and All About Cha! Have a different opinion or a matcha I need to try? Let me know in the comments. - originally posted 9/14/16}

What other best bites should I go on the hunt for? Best pizza in OKC, best cookie, best breakfast dish? Let me know what "bite about town" you want to see next!

Annie

Bites of My Life

It's amazing how much I can fit in a day without having work getting in the way. Errands, shopping, lunch with old friends, recipe testing, house cleaning, laundry, meetings, dentist visits, workouts; I could get used to that life...Unfortunately/fortunately this is my last week off. So many delish bites last week in the form of food, vibes and visitors. Time to pack it all in before funemployment is over. 

-No grocery shopping last week meant helping mom clean out her fridge. I don't think she minded.
-I discovered turmeric milk last week. It's a great nighttime drink full of health benefits that do your tummy well while you sleep. 
-This Cashew Butter and Jelly smoothie recipe got slurped up almost everyday for breakfast last week and the recipe is up for you to enjoy!
-Sister and I spent our Wednesday recipe testing scones. We came up with blackberry dark chocolate and (not pictured) grapefruit brown sugar!
-The Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts came to town this week. I made an appearance twice. I'm always more interested in the "culinary arts" portion. 
-It's one of my favorite events of the year, and probably the thing I knew would be easiest to cross off my Spring TDL.
-A salad date with one of my favorite friends to catch up with. We could sit and talk for hours!
-Wallpaper vibes in Pencil Shavings house during a local neighborhood home tour.
-Such a special day for my city and a special day for my besties completing their 3rd Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon! 

Annie