10 Trader Joes's Must Haves

Hello, Hello!


Trader Joe's is hands down my favorite grocery store! They carry lots of gluten free, vegan and kosher items at superb prices. They also make a ton of exclusive Trader Joe's brand items as well.

Earlier this week I read an "article" like this on Facebook, I can't remember if it was from Buzz Feed or from Southern Magazine.  I loved the idea so I wanted to share my favorite picks.
Here are 10 items you must try! These are items I always buy 2 of 3 of when I go just so I can have one on stand by. They are that good I promise!

All of the items listed are Trader Joe's exclusives.

#1. Non-Dairy Chocolate Ice Cream


 This stuff is dangerous but worth it! It's so good! I know your thinking, "I can get non-dairy ice cream from anywhere", yes you can, but not for $3.00! It comes in strawberry and chocolate. It is so creamy! You would never know it was vegan!

 #2: Coconut Cold Brew Coffee


Amazing! It is so strong and flavorful. I typically do mine over ice with the So Delicious coconut creamer in french vanilla! This seriously gives Starbucks a run for its money!

#3: Vanilla Almond Spiced Chai



This lil baby is yummy and very popular! Oh, and it is vegan and packs 8 grams of protein. Awesome for breakfast on the go or a post workout treat!

#4: Fig Butter


Ooooh chile! Go on ahead and call me the plug! Lol. This stuff is seriously delicious. What I do is buy some croissants, toast them up and spread this stuff all over it! Bomb!

#5: Sesame Honey Cashews


If you love nuts like I do, you will die when you try these. As if cashews aren't addictive enough on their own. These are just next level crack head good! My husband and I will go through a bag in like 3 days. Its pretty bad.

#6: Sweet Potato Gnocchi


These are like a date night side dish type of deal. My husband loves sweet potato so these really were a hit with him. We don't eat meat but these would be awesome for a side dish for a steak dinner. If you wanna impress your bae these will do it! Super simple to make too! We normally will have this with veggies like green beans or squash and a salad.

#7: Pre-chopped Asparagus with Onion and Mushrooms


Dont judge me! I know this seems super lazy. Buying pre-chopped veggies, but blame my man! Lol, he was the one to discover these. He is not a skilled chef so he makes a veggie fried rice stir fry with these like once a week and its my favorite thing he makes!

#8: Vegetable Spring Rolls


I work late, so when I get home I will pop these in the oven for a late night snack! I crave egg rolls. Weird, I know. These always quinch my craving. Have your own duck sauce though because  these have no dipping sauce included. Whomp, whomp.

#9:  Coconut Body Butter


If you know me, then you know I am addicted to body butter. I rarely ever use lotion. Its just not thick enough. Summer or winter, I use body butters year round. Being ashy is just not cute on me lol.  This one is really really good! It has subtle coconut fragrance and a good creamy thick texture. It does not leave your skin shiny which I really like. That is a sign that it absorbing into the skin and not sitting on top of the skin. 10 stars based off my body butter bible!

#10: Reggiano Lambrusco


I am by no means a wine expert! I drink cheap wine y'all! I like what I like! Lambrusco can be found  anywhere but I have only seen this brand at Trader Joe's. It is a sparkling red wine. Sounds bourgeoisie boujee but it is only $5.00 or $6.00 a bottle. I was in charge of wine for my best friends bridal shower and I bought some bottles of this and it was a hit! If you are new to wine, I highly recommend this! Great sweet flavor! Not dry at all!

I have a ton more items that I love from Trader Joe's, so I will be doing another post as fall approaches! Trader Joe's can be found all over the US. They are not your typical southern grocery store. They have awesome prices, selections and customer service! Check them out!

Love,
ALW

Vegan Restaurants In Brooklyn

Hi Again!

The weekend ofCurl Fest, my mom, sister and I kind of made it a mission to eat vegan all weekend. My mom has been vegan for years so when we go places with her they are usually cater to her. Most of the spots we my sister found on a whim thanks to yelp. I love that app! I can read yelp restaurant reviews for hours. Weird, I know. But they are seriously so helpful! We ate good all weekend. All the restaurants were bomb! Like seriously delicious!

Restaurant #1: V Spot

Our first stop was lunch! We scouted this place out prior to traveling to New York. V Spot is a latin comfort food spot. They have a pretty extensive menu too! Our food was really really good! Best thing I ordered was the lentil soup. It was right on time too because the weather was gross that day.
Rainy and like 70 degrees and we were not prepared. Perfect weather for soup. My mom really loved her meal. She go the V Spot burrito. She said it was the best thing she ate that weekend. For dessert my mom and I split a chocolate peanut butter cake and my sister got an oreo shake. The cake was so decadent! AMAZING!



As a side I got a curry chic pea and kale medley. It was really really good. I am going to try to recreate it at home. 



We had to get the cake to go. It was so rich and we were stuffed so we finished it in the hotel room later that night. 


The weather was so crappy that Friday. My feet were wet and nasty. Flexi rod set turned into a fro. Ugh!
 Still gotta smile in the rain though!
Brooklyn T-shirt  (sold out) | Studded sandals 

Restaurant #2: E Noodle Cafe


E Noodle Cafe we found on a whim. My mom was exhausted and knocked out but my sister and I were hungry. We are always hungry lol. We knew we didn't want to go out for food because the weather was still nasty. We decided  to order take out. They had really awesome reviews. 

E Noodle Cafe is an authentic cantonese restaurant. They delivered, they were close by, and they had lots of vegan/vegetarian options. We were sold! We ordered from grub hub and our food took about 45 min to arrive and it was packaged well and really hot and fresh. They are known for their dumpling seafood soups. My sister ordered the shrimp and crab dumpling soup. I ordered the veggie dumpling soup. We also order a side of mushroom and veggie lo mein, fried veggie dumping, and a side of white rice. Everything was really really delicious! 


Restaurant #3: Bunna Cafe

Shout out to my little sister for finding this place! Again at random! It took us about 25 minutes in a Lyft to get to Bunna Cafe. But OMG was it worth it! 2 years ago we found out our ancestors are Ethiopian so we were really exited to try some authentic Ethiopian food.

 This restaurant was so cozy and cute. It had a full bar, live plants, exposed brick and candle lit tables. The vibe was really nice. We ordered the feast for 2 with an extra side of Ingera. Ingera is kind the Ethiopian equivalent to the Mexican tortilla. It is used as eating utensil in traditional Ethiopian cuisine. It is really light weight in texture. I ordered a ginger cocktail and my mom ordered Jasmine hot tea. The food was really really good! Nothing like I have ever had before. Only gripe with Bunna Cafe is that is cash only. We were able to use an atm machine in the restaurant to get cash.

We got these lentil sambasas as our appetizer. They were really good. The dipping sauce was a cold cilantro sauce. It was great!

There is a variety of plant based items on a large bed of Ingera. Everything from a lentil chili in the middle, to kale salad, beets, mushrooms, peas. So may flavors and textures. It was really delicious, messy and different! Trying to find a Ethiopian restaurant in Charlotte to test out. 


Loved the decor in this place! The colorful tapestry behind my mom made for the perfect back drop. Bunna Cafe also has live music on certain nights! Would've loved to see that!

Restaurant #4: Clementine Bakery


Sunday Brunch! We woke up, got dressed and headed straight to Clementine 
Bakery. We were hangry  hungry! Another really really cute little spot. Clementine is sort of a two part place. They have a full bakery and ice creamery and tapas restaurant. They have limited seating so be ware of that that. Luckily we are able to share a table with another lady which was not as awkward as you might think. We got there around noon and they were booming! 

I order the green toast. It had veggies and a vegan jalepeno cream cheese on it. My sister ordered the cauliflower po boy. My mom and I also split a walnut cinnamon roll and I ordered a macchiato to go. 

After brunch we walked around the corner to their walk up bakery and ice creamery. My mom order a  cashew and marshmellow based chocolate ice cream cone and sister got a scoop of the vegan peach cobbler ice cream. I tried both and they were AMAZING!







Why are they so freaking cute! I'm obsessed with my sisters new hair cut! I swear she can pull off anything!


Restaurant #5: Vegetarian Ginger

Last place we ate at in Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon was Vegetarian Ginger. This was a typical asian fusion restaurant but with a ton of vegan substitutes. Vegetarian Ginger was on a very busy shopping street. The hostess sat us at a table by the window so we had a good view for people watching. I didn't have a very big appetite so I got soup and salad and the scallion pancake. My sister ordered "beef" and broccoli and my mom order the smoked teriyaki seitan. I think my sisters dish was the best! Teriyaki sauce was really flavorful and the broccoli was perfectly steamed with a little crunch.


This was my first time trying scallion pancakes. They were just ok to me. A little too sweet of me. I did like  the mango salsa on top. 

The "beef" was prepared with a soy protein. The texture was spot on and it was not chewy at all! I was really impressed!


There were so many amazing vegan places to eat in Brooklyn. Far more than here in Charlotte! The food was really really good too! The variety of items on the menu was pretty awesome! We ate good y'all! 

Love,
April W.

Curl Fest 2017



Hi!

Curl Fest had been on my radar for months and omg was it EVERYTHING! As a product junkie and hair fanatic I knew I had to go! My best friend and I have been trying to plan a girls trip for a while. She was not able to make it to curl fest but I was still itching to go so I dragged my mom and sister along. Honesty, it didn't take much dragging. We were all super excited. Curly Girl Collective did an awesome job keeping you on edge about the all the vendors and host and djs on their Instagram page. Thats kind of where the whole idea to attend started.

The event was totally free. Which is just phenomenal! I signed the three of us up for a general admission rsvp. This rsvp kind of ensures you get a curl fest gift bag. These bags were so cute too! They came with sample and full size natural hair products y'all! Welp, long story short. The line for the general admin rsvps was about and hour and a half long! It was so many women out there, we just forfeited our bags and went straight to the vendors. The way the sun was beaming on Prospect Park and the way that line was set up we just couldn't do it. The park was packed! If i had to guess I would say there was over a thousand people in attendance. It was really a sight to see!



 The first vendor we decided to check out was Shea Moisture. If haven't heard they are canceled but they were giving away free fans so we snagged one of those and kept it moving.

 Next up was Tropic Isle Living. They had the cutest tent set up! They are mostly known their castor oils but they have not only hair but body products as well. They had three full size product bundles for $20.00! With that purchase you got a bag and a free fresh coconut water! Much needeed too because that sun was no joke and shade was scarce!

My hair here was kind of a struggle twist out. It was really cute flexi rod set but it rained the day prior and pretty much destroyed it. I also go a lot of compliment on this outfit. I first saw it on  TheChicNatural first and loved it! Its from Amazon and was only $18.00. 

 By this time it was probably 12:30pm. We were pretty hungry. We found a spot in the grass, spread out our blanket and got comfortable. A rep from ORS was passing our free sample bags so I was able to get one of those! I was kind of surprised that there was not more vendors giving out free products but I guess you gotta pay to play.

There were about 7 food trucks there. They had every thing from jerk chicken and rice, to soul food, shaved ice, to vegan thai takeout. After waiting in line for abut 45 minutes we finally got our Thai food! The lines were unbelievably long!

Here we were in line for our food! The lines were cray cray! You could barely tell which line was for which food truck! Word of advice if you plan to go next year bring your own snacks and water!

We ate, we danced, we walked and we talked! We admired all the beautiful black hair around us! It was so much to see! So many styles, textures, and colors. Everyone was simply gorgeous! Every two minutes one of us would say "omg look at there necklace", "wow check out her dreads", "did you see that little girls afro".  It was kind of a culture shock honestly. To see that many black people and that much creative expression was amazing! 

Of course the Omega Men were there. They had a food tent and everything! I thought their shirts were  really cute!

I was so happy that I ran into my good friend from pharmacy school! I've always admired her style! That hair color girl! Love it! I missed her so much!


Oh you know, just forgot to mention that I meet Spike Lee! He was there promoting his new netflix film She Gotta Have It.  

Doesn't this picture kind of look like Erica is his neice and he's showing her off at her graduation or something? lol He really liked her dress and wanted to get a good view of it. 


2016 I pretty much wore a sew in extensions all year. I wanted to start to give my natural hair some TLC. I committed to be weave free all of 2017. For me that meant no sew ins! So far, I have not broken that commitment and I'm proud of that! 






Curl Fest reminded me of just how dope black hair is! It inspired and enlightend me in more ways than I can even articulate. It was empowering to say the least. The culture, the pride, and the grace of black women that filled that park gave me an energy that I've never really felt before. Our hair is beautiful and should definitely be celebrated! Thank you Curly Girl Collection for creating such a sacred fun place! 
#curlfest2017

Love,

April W.

Easy and Healthy Snack and Lunch Ideas

Hello Everyone!
 
Today's post is all about food! I love food! I bring my lunch and snacks to work with me every single day! This means that I have to be prepared! Here I am sharing with you some typical snack and lunch items I eat pretty much every week. Be conscious of what you consume because the food industry is cray! 


Snacks

Kale Chips. I actually crave these things. And lets get real, no they do not taste like chips. They have a similar texture that is all lol. You can do so many flavor combinations with these. My favorite is lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper and paprika. The key in making these is make sure your kale is very dry after you wash it. If not they will be soggy not crispy. Besides that its simple and hella quick. Oh and I ate this whole bowl by myself. Here's what you do...

1. Pull kale off stem.
2. Wash kale leaves thoroughly.
3. Dry kale leaves thoroughly with a paper towel.
4. Place them on a aluminum lined cookie sheet.
5. Season to your liking.
6. Bake on 385 for about 15 minutes until browned and crispy.


Blood Oranges. I don't remember what made me want to buy a blood orange one day but omg am I glad I did! These are so good! They get their blood color from a natural mutation that happens when the fruit develops when temperatures drop at night. Oranges are great vit C, thiamine, folate, I mean I could go on. I like blood oranges better than regular oranges because they are a little sweeter and have a more mild citrus taste. 

I also love tea! Teavana is the best! So pricey though. Teavana tea is good gift idea for someone!  Its like a thing that you want but don't want to spend the money on lol


Oatmeal. My mom put me on to this. I love eating oatmeal for breakfast but you can really eat it any time of the day. It is also easy to transport if you wanted to take it to work. I stopped buying the little packets of instant oatmeal and started buying steel cut oats in bulk and making my own flavor combinations. Much cheaper in the long run! I make these the night before and store them in the fridge. The next morning you just pop them in the microwave for a minute or two and enjoy! They have tons of recipes for this on pinterest and youtube. Here is how its done...

1. Add in 1/2 cup of steel cut oats.
2. Seasonings of choice. I usually do cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.
3. 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.
3. 2 madjool dates cut into small pieces 
4. A few nuts of your choice
5. 1/2 cup of almond milk
6. 1 tablespoon of honey
7. Any fruit of your choice

This flavor combo was banana almond butter! Sooo good!

Lunch

Market Bowl or Veggie Bowl. These are my go to work lunches. They are super easy to make. I can make like 3 meal preps of this in like 20 minutes flat. Its basically just rice or quinoa as your base. Then any roasted veggie of your choice on top. I always add some fresh uncooked spinach too. Then you can top it was some lemon juice and olive oil as a dressing. It is so good for you and very very filling. 
Here I did brown rice, roasted potatoes and brussel sprouts, sautéed mushrooms and sweet potato. This work week I mad a big fruit salad for us too. I just cut up all the fruit we had and tossed it with a lime juice and honey dressing. Its bomb!
Here was another veggie bowl. At the bottom is kale and garlic quinoa. I buy it at Aldi. It comes in a streamable pouch. Then I roasted some fresh broccoli and brussels sprouts in a lemon garlic marinade. Super quick and easy!
Sushi bowl. This is my husband and I's favorite thing! It is so good! You literally just throw down some brown rice. Cut up some raw veggies and lay it on top and thats it! The three items that make this meal are the avocado, pink ginger and the dressing. We just buy the pink pickled ginger from the store and here is the simple dressing...

1. Seasame oil
2. Coconut aminos
3. Minced garlic

You just mix these up and poor it on top. You can use soy sauce instead of coconut aminos but soy sauce is loaded with salt. Like loaded! Plus the coconut aminos is slightly sweeter and  I like that. 

Beans. When people find out you eat a mostly plant based diet the first thing they are so concerned about is your protein consumption. Meat is not the only source of protein guys. Would you believe me if I told you it wasn't even the best source of protein? Its true. Beans are an awesome source of protein. Amongst other nutrients. We eat beans every week at my house. This week I did a meal prep with pinto beans. I put them in the crock pot and seasoned them up! I don't use meat to season my beans either. Here is what I did...

1. Rinse beans well. Sometimes if I can remember I will soak them for a few hours.
2. Turn crock pot on high add in beans.
3. Add in about 3 to 4 cups of veggie broth.
4. 1 cup of water
5. Lipton onion soup mix powder packet
6. A few dashes of hot sauce
7. Season to taste with lot of black pepper


Eating healthy is so important y'all! So so important. I wish everyone took it more seriously. Eating whole foods is the way to go. Cooking your own food at home is key! Subway and chic-fil-a are NOT healthy alternatives! With all these advances in medicine, heart disease and diabetes are still the number one killers! Why is that? It is all about what you consume on a daily basis!  Yet you never hear doctors referring patients to nutritionist are telling them about plant based diets. They send them straight to the pharmacy with prescriptions. These meds only help they do not cure. And most times the side effects of the medicine lead patients to more medicine. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer and thyroid disease plague our community like no other. Most of these are preventable and reversible with diet alone! It can be done! I have seen it! One day I was people watching at the mall,  just to pass some time and 4 of 5 people that walked by were obese. Not just over weight but obese. Granted this was just my estimation but as a health care professional I know the difference. It seems to be more of discipline or committment issue. It seems as though people are content with obesity because they don't see the immediate consequence. Eating bad kills you slowly. Thats the scary part. 
Another rebuttal I hear is that some people cant afford to eat clean. Can it be pricey to buy organic non-gmo foods yes but It can be inexpensive too! Read your labels! I go to Aldi, Walmart and my local farmers market for our groceries and I never spend over $200 a month. I steer clear of foods with high fructose corn syrup. We don't buy meat, juice or sodas at all. Granted it is just my husband and I but you don't have to spend a ton a Whole Foods and Earth Fare and all these fancy health food stores. Once you start eating cleaner and preparing you food the thought of eating KFC and Bojangles will disgust you! 

I challenge you to take your lunch and snacks with you to work every day this week or maybe next week because you do need time to prep and go get you groceries and stuff. Statistics show that the average person spends $18 a day on misscelanous crap. Fast food, vending machine snacks, 7-11 slurpees, whatever. Save some coins and your health and take your lunch & snacks to work. Just give it a shot!

I hope this helps someone! 

With Love,
April W. 

A Week At A Glance 5.28.17-6.4.17

Hello hello everyone!

Today I am coming to you with a round up of my week. Just sharing some pics and some things I did. This week was pretty chill but still fun!

5.29.17 - 5.30.17
Monday my family and I had a impromptu cook out at the McDowell Park. It was kind of for memorial day and kind of for my sisters best friends birthday. On the menu we had black bean burgers, veggie burgers and hot dogs with all the fixings. Baked beans and watermelon! It was bomb! After that we chilled out by the lake then my husband and I headed back home to put together our new bed. Boy was that a task! Took us about six hours! Yes, six hours. Mostly because we were both cutting up and goofing off.

I posted this photo on my instagram and lots of people loved my jellies. They are from American Apparel. They had a massive sale a few months ago and I snagged them for like $3! This whole outfit is from them and it probably totals like $20.00 lol. Shorts and cropped tops are like my summer uniform. 



This is the bed that took us forever to put together. It was such a good deal! I found it at  Overstock. It was on sale and I was able to use a coupon and get some cash back with ebates. We really love it! Once the master is done I will do a blog post on it!

5.31.17 - 6.1.17...
This week was my short week so I only worked two days! Yay! They were pretty easy days too. I have been doing  a gallon of alkaline water a day on my work days. One day a few weeks ago I shared on snapchat (mcaprillately) my gallon a day journey and so many people had something to say about it. *rolls eyes lol*  Some were saying its dangerous to drink that much water at a time. Some saying that the cup I was drinking from was too small. And some said that watching me drink a gallon of water over the course of 13 hours inspired them to drink more water too. That one made me really happy! I really started  to be more conscious about my water intake it in hopes of getting more radiant skin. The more water I drink, the easier it gets and more I want to drink it. The key for me is drinking from a cute cup with a straw and starting early.

6.2.17...
This past weekend was really fun! One of my good friends is moving to a new state so we all went out for her farewell dinner. We ate at one of my favorite restaurants. I always get specialty sushi roll and the salmon salad! Its so so good! We had drinks and everyone went around the table and shared their favorite Charlotte memory with my friend. It was really nice. Afterwards we went over to check out some karaoke at the Music Factory. We signed up to do Say My Name by Destiny's Child but unfortunately luckily everyone was ready to go before they called us up to the stage.


6.3.17 - 6.4.17...
Saturday my dad and I went to do some community service. It was a community blood drive. I was excited because I always really enjoy doing community service. It was they typical blood drive set up. Go in, register, do a questionnaire and health screening, draw your blood, and relax and have a snack. All was well with our process until I was called to do my brief questionnaire and screening. During the screening I got rejected from donating for not meeting the weight requirement. I was so disappointed and kind of low key embarrassed. So I basically just at snacks, talked to strangers and waited for my dad to get finished. Next we headed to my husbands football game. He plays for the Charlotte Cobras. We arrived right at half time just to find out that he got ejected for tackling someone too hard. He had to sit out the remainder of the game. Ugh! Since that was pretty uneventful my dad and I left. After that I headed uptown to meet up with my mom, sister and her boyfriend. They had small free art festival at  the Mint Museum. There was a live art show, food trucks and  salsa dance lessons. It was pretty fun.

Don't tell him I told y'all this but my dad was so happy he passed his heath screening to donate. He has high blood pressure and was scared they were going to deny him because it was high. Thankfully it was normal! Every time I go to his house I'm throwing away bad stuff he shouldn't have without him knowing lol. 




How cute is my mom! 


I hope you all had a great weekend and a even better week!

Love and Light,
April W.