Taste Test: A New (Allergy Friendly!) Dessert

Even though I'm lucky enough to not suffer from any food-related allergies, I know a lot of you out there do. Also, I've noticed when I'm feeling my best, it's with a reduced the amount of dairy (and gluten for that matter) from my diet. That makes finding a quality dessert a little tricky (can't eliminate dessert completely, it's just not going to happen!). 

I'm always intrigued when I see seemingly tasty-looking things at the grocery store with "gluten-free" or "lactose-free" labeling - could they really be as good as they look? From what I've tried, a lot of them tend to fall flat. I still find myself trying them though! I've had some success with coconut ice cream (vegan and lactose-free) so I'm definitely more open-minded whenever coconut is involved. Most recently I picked up two boxes of these guys: 
With so many things "missing" from these desserts, I was skeptical but I love salted caramel anything (and who doesn't love chocolate?) so I gave them a whirl. And they were good! Light but still rich and flavorful, I was pleasantly surprised.

Initially a bit icey when I first tried them, I left them out for a few minutes to thaw and that made the difference- the flavor came out a lot more and were a little more creamy. I especially liked the salted caramel!
Ready to try them out for yourself? I found these at Star Market but check here for availability in your area (and a coupon!): Incredible Innovations

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Incredible Innovationsยฎ. The opinions and text are all mine.

#TastetheSeason at Sweetgreen

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably know I'm a big fan of Sweetgreen, a healthy take-out restaurant with several locations in Boston/NYC/DC/etc. In addition to having delicious locally-sourced food, they were the ones who kindly hosted my Boston Marathon photo exhibit last April-
Last night I was invited to a farm-to-table dinner hosted by Sweetgreen at Ward's Berry Farm in Sharon, MA to celebrate their new seasonal fall menu and bring the Sweetgreen "family" together. Nice idea, huh?? I went with my new friend Jackie of South Shore Saturdays and met up with a few other fitness buddies like Sarah, Christina, Eliza, and Caroline, plus Rachel who had put the whole event together. 
The evening started off with popcorn and a hayride where we got a tour of the farm which is huge! Sweetgreen uses a lot of the farm's produce in their menu items so it was cool to see where the ingredients come from and learn how they're grown. We even tried some sweet corn on the cob (raw!) and it was amazing. 
 When we returned to the farm, we had some appetizers, hot toddies and Downeast Cider (based in Charlestown) which was new to me and I loved it. For dinner, we all sat at long tables in one of the greenhouses and passed large bowls of food around family style (to encourage conversation) - veggies from the farm, roasted brussels sprouts, hummus, and several of the new seasonal items from the restaurant. Each dish was better than the last and I can honestly say I enjoyed everything. I had tried the new "Rad Thai" salad with shrimp, red cabbage, and spicy cashew dressing a few days before when I stopped in their Fort Point location but all of the other dishes were new to me.
I love Sweetgreen because they make healthy food fun and interesting and they also promote community involvement and bringing people together. I will always make a point to visit one of their locations when I'm downtown and maybe someday they will make it to the South Shore! Fingers crossed!

Fitness in Boston: Barre to Bar at Exhale Battery Wharf

 When I found out that Exhale Battery Wharf Spa was offering a "Barre to Bar" deal where you take a core fusion class then head to the Fairmont's restaurant, Aragosta, for drinks and apps, I was immediately intrigued. Exercise followed by cocktails? Sign me up!
Living down the street from Exhale, I've been meaning to get over there for a class so this was the perfect excuse. I had been once before but that was for a photo shoot with one of their instructors, Meg Scannell (post coming soon). As luck would have it, Meg was our teacher for the class too.

First the workout- what a burn! Core fusion is ballet-inspired and designed to tone every part of the body. I left feeling tighter and thoroughly worked but also relaxed- the class is all about focus and "targeted mindful muscle movements." It was one of the hardest classes I've taken and I really enjoyed it.
After the class, we headed over to Aragosta where we were treated to several hot appetizers and a "deep cleanse" cocktail which consisted of aloe, muddled mint, and gin. Ahhh! Everything was delicious and the staff was extremely friendly and accommodating. They even made gluten-free apps for some of the women in our group (which were excellent as well).

What better way to spend an afternoon? For more information about Barre to Bar (offered Monday through Friday) contact Exhale at 617-603-3100 or sign-up online at I'm already looking forward to doing it again! Thanks to Sam and Meg from Exhale for taking such good care of us and to Blog & Tweet Boston for organizing!

Brunch at Sweet Caroline's in Fenway

Yes, that is a wall made out of real plants. So cool.

How about an impromptu restaurant review?! I recently spent an afternoon at Sweet Caroline's, a restaurant in the Fenway area, with the lovely ladies of Blog and Tweet Boston, a social media networking group. We were there to try out their brunch menu and also some new drinks they are offering. With the Red Sox on a road trip, it was quiet but blissfully cool- a perfect place to escape the 90+ degree heat.

We decided to order a bunch of dishes off the menu and then just share everything. I don't eat meat (I do sometimes eat fish) so I didn't try the burger or the chicken rangoon which everyone seemed to be enjoying but fortunately there were several good meatless options. Here's what I tried-

*French Toast
*Lobster roll
*Portobello burger
*Fried oyster salad

Even just taking a few bites of each dish left me so full! In addition to the food, we were also introduced to Sweet Caroline's new drink menu featuring bright, summery drinks named after lines in the song "Sweet Caroline."

Hard to say which one I liked best. The "When Spring Became the Summer" did taste like summer in a glass (local Bully Boy white whiskey, cucumber-infused simple syrup) and it looked like it too with its strawberry, lemon and cucumber garnishes. The margarita was equally refreshing with a bit of spice too.

Good food aside, one thing that sets this restaurant apart from others like it seems to be their commitment to serving fresh food made in-house. The majority of what they serve is made right on site, from the huge potato chips to the infused vodkas to the lobster salad (our group's overall favorite). As the owner said, "our walk-in is almost empty." It's always good to know that what you're getting was not sitting in a freezer for ages!

I'd definitely recommend Sweet Caroline's, especially for a group. The place is huge and the service was very accommodating. Everything we tried from the food and drink menus we enjoyed and it's varied enough to work for a diverse crowd. I look forward to going back soon!

1260 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02215

Feast of the Seven Fishes

One of my friends decided that this year we should try making a Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian Christmas tradition. Since cooking, eating, and drinking are some of our favorite activities, it was not hard to convince the rest of us that this was a good idea. We each picked a few dishes to try and attempt, and I brought my camera to document the evening-

Making fresh fettuccine (with a Kitchenaid mixer)

Waiting patiently to be cooked.


Using one mussel to eat the other.

We were all working somewhat outside of our comfort zones, working with techniques and ingredients that were new for us. Overall, we deemed the evening a success and already decided we would try it again next year!

I linked the dishes in the photos to some of the recipes we found online, here are a few more-

Jump Shrimp Marsala House-wife Style (Gamberoni Casalinga Siciliana)
Sauteed Broccoli Rabe
Chocolate Espresso Balsamic Fudge

CSA from Silverbrook Farm

I belong to a CSA that comes from Silverbrook Farm in Darmouth, MA. What is a CSA you ask? CSA stands for Community Sustained Agriculture and consists of a group of consumers who agree to purchase products from a local farm, or a โ€œshareโ€ of the farm, and each week they pick up their share of produce either directly from the farm or at a pick-up spot in their area, like a farmers market or store. This helps farms sell their product and consumers to eat locally. Everyone wins.

I pick-up my CSA share at Government Center; it's like Christmas once a week and Scott (above) is the CSA Santa, bringing me delicious veggies and fruit, often things I've never tried (like kohlrabi) which is part of the fun. Yesterday I picked up a mountain of fresh produce and Scott let me take some photos-

What's your favorite farm stand or CSA in your area?

More Product/Still Life Photos

Last week we were doing product & still life photography again but this time we were working with the graphic design class on poster projects they were creating. Each student presented their concepts to us and we worked in groups of two to try to fulfill their photo needs.

I worked on three projects (they're going to be posters when the designers are done with them). I'm looking forward to seeing the final results!

Yes, these are little action figures from the movie Alien.

Wedding Shoot: The Details

Wildflower centerpieces

Here are more photos from the wedding I shot this past weekend. Naomi and Andy worked so hard to pull everything together, down to the very last detail, so I thought in addition to the couple pics and the family pics there should be some of the little things since they played a part too!

The rings, of course

Champagne toast

Custom M&Ms! Love these!

Andy is a beer maker and had his own brew on hand at the reception along with these awesome pint glass party favors.

Naomi made the sangria.

Dessert! Vanilla and chocolate cupcakes plus a large variety of Chilmark Chocolates (a Martha's Vineyard favorite of Naomi's).

Indian Cooking Class

Yesterday, my friends, Neala and Jackie, and I took an Indian cooking class at Eurostoves in Beverly, MA. I've loved Indian food for so long but have always been intimidated by the thought of making it. Turns out, it's not too hard although there are a lot of ingredients to consider in most of the recipes. Luckily there were 15 of us in the class so one or two of us would work on one thing each. This made it pretty manageable and we wound up with a ton of stuff to try.

Mango chutney with vegetables pakoras in the background.

Samosas, pork vindaloo, curry chicken, saag paneer, tamarind sauce.

This was my creation, the vegetable biryani. Overdid the basmati rice but otherwise it was good!

Eurostoves is an awesome kitchen supply store (we were cooking on AGAs!) with a ton of cooking classes offered almost every day of the week. You can find their class schedule here.