Date nights are EVERYTHING once you’re a mama.
Married five years, and together for ten, my husband and I have always made date nights a priority. Now that we’ve welcomed our first little one, it’s become a little tricky to get away and make time to connect which is why planning and organization is key.
Date nights help recharge you as a woman, as a couple and reconnects you to your partner.
We keep a handy list of fun ideas nearby so that we don’t resort to the same activities over and over when we have time to slip away and I’ve compiled a list below of our favorite activities in the West Valley.
It was another deliciously exciting and eventful weekend at the GFAF Expo in Arizona this year.
The crowd was bustling, excited to try the newest sampling from some of the best gluten free and allergen friendly brands in the market today. The expo took place the last week of June at the gorgeous Renaissance Resort in Glendale, AZ where I spent the weekend with my boys.
I'd love to say the weekend was blissful and smooth, but after our first expo day and a wonderful night of delicious, healthy eats, swimming in the pool and grabbing frozen yogurt, the night took a turn when our little man took a fall in the hotel room, ending in a trip to the emergency room. He's ok now, but after six stitches and many tears (from all of us), we had to forego staying the night.
We returned the next morning (after closely monitoring Grey in the night and seeing that he was good in the morning), for day two of the expo. More on our wonderful hotel experience (aside from the hospital detour) is coming soon to Wanderlust, so stay tuned! Now, on to the expo!
If you caught my Instagram Stories, you got to experience much of the samplings and booths live along with me, however, if you missed it, this post will share my personal favorite finds and highlights of this years GFAF Expo of Glendale, AZ.
A long time favorite, Mikey's was in attendance with their Lemon Blueberry and Chocolate Muffin Tops. Moist and satisfying, the muffin tops are Paleo and perfect alone or on yogurt bowls, dessert bowls or oatmeal. Their traditional Paleo english muffins have been a longtime favorite of mine are a staple in our home for breakfast sandwhiches.
Thrive Life, a shelf stable dried food brand, great for easy meals and long term emergency food storage now offers full, pre-prepped meals that are nutritious and cater to various food allergies.
Grey's favorite, Enjoy Life Foods, had the CUTEST booth. It was set up like a little land to visit, complete with a maze of trees and a chocolate forest where you collect free samples along the way. We LOVE their chocolate chips for all things snacking and baking. Their Rice Milk Crunch Chocolate bars are also my go to indulgence for candy when I want something sweet and crunchy.
Canyon Bakehouse was the blogger sponsor, and were SO sweet to us! They fed us a DELICIOUS gluten-free breakfast and my favorite products were by far the blueberry bagels and the Hawaiian bread! So delicious and the family can't even tell they're gluten free.
Veggiecopia offered little travel packs of olives (a great snack for both mom and babe!) while Mozaic Snacks provided the most delicious pea based chips. The sea salt and salsa flavors were the BEST!
Other favorites included Grandpa's Kitchen, a new small company that sampled pumpkin cake using the BEST gluten free all purpose flour I've tried. (and I've bought many that are on the market today. GFC Bakery, a local Arizona bakery, also offers amazing pre-baked breakfast items, desserts and birthday treats.
Picazzo's Italian, another local Arizona eatery, is BY FAR our FAVORITE nosh spot for allergen friendly food and they were on site sampling delicious and fluffy gluten free vegan pizzas. I'm going to be completely honest and say we circled back a couple of times to visit, it was one of our faves and the staff were SO nice.
The show has inspired me to plan a BEST OF 2018 list of items ranging from breads to pastas, drinks to eateries around the U.S. that are the best in gluten free, dairy free and allergen friendly ingredients. I'd love to know what YOU would like to see, so comment below and I'll make sure it makes the list.
Summer means BBQ's, pool parties, vacations and Arizona's Gluten Free and Allergen Friendly Expo. This year will be my third year in a row attending and I'm so excited to be sharing my journey once again and bringing YOU along.
Before I get into what it's all about, the products you can expect to try and taste and how you can get a ticket for free, make sure you're following me on Instagram (@noshandnurture) to be able to see my weekend at the expo live!
I make a point to attend most of the West Coast food expos and conferences, so I can be best equipped to know what gluten free and dairy free foods will be hitting the shelves, not just for my readers and clients but for my family as well. It's better to be able to get a hands on taste test before I have to shell out cash to try something I may not like, and I can then report back on my findings here on the blog as well as live through Instagram from the expo floor this month!
So onto the details!
The expo takes place JUNE 23rd and JUNE 24th
from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM both days.
If you want to say hi, I for sure will be there most of Saturday!
The official website offers directions, safety policy and more.
You can view the expected vendors list here, but below I named some of my favorites if you're looking for some new stuff to try.
Enjoy Life - The best dairy-free chocolate for noshing, baking and more.
Blue Diamond - Almonds are life.
Bob's Red Mill - The only way we cook up pancakes in our home.
Mikey's - They revamped their line and their muffins are now better than ever!
Picazzo's - Our FAVORITE Italian eatery for safe foods and ambiance.
Sprouts - I don't know how we'd eat without this store, honestly.
San J - The best sauces. Safe AND savory!
I know, I know you're wondering HOW DO GET A DISCOUNTED TICKET to sample all of this gluten free goodness? Well... I have TWO WAYS for you to save some cash, by either grabbing an early bird ticket with a 20% discount below or entering to win on my Instagram page.
GET YOUR DISCOUNTED TICKETS HERE NOW THROUGH 6/22 USING THE CODE ADVANCE
Presented by Enjoy Life, if you visit for no other booth other than theirs (except we all know we will all be sampling ALLLLL the goodies) Enjoy Life products makes the trip worth it. We are HUGE fans of their strict food allergy protocols and I feel so confident in their products in our home when it comes to wanting allergen free chocolate, snacks and treats.
I hope to see you all my Arizona locals there! It's going to be a GREAT time with great food, great friends and a ton of fun in the name of healthy noshing.
Will you be joining us?
This week Mr. Charming and I were sitting around the house after work, completing all the last minute details for Baby P's arrival and I got the urge to do something spontaneous and fun! With just 6 days out from my due date, I actually had energy on Thursday and wanted to sneak in one more date night while it was just us.
Wanting to do something different and away from home, we headed to Paradise Valley, AZ - just 20 minutes or so from us - to check out some old high school stomping grounds, like my old neighborhood and our old mall and then we planned to search for some gluten-free eats for a romantic dinner.
And we found the holy grail of Gluten-Free goodness.
Guys. I could literally order 90% of what was on the menu. INCLUDING drinks, appetizers AND dessert. This NEVER happens.
See that bread? That warm, moist foccacia? TOTALLY gluten-free. Made with tapioca, rice and potato flours it tasted HEAVENLY in a little EVOO, salt and pepper. Though I JUST put a little yeast back in after 5 years, I limited myself to one piece, plus a small toasted piece with my pasta, but you couldn't even tell it was gluten free.
Not only do they offer a fully gluten-free menu, everything is also non-GMO and they have SO many vegan options too! You can substitute Daiya cheese in any cheese dish or pizza and all of their meats are nitrate and nitrite free, as well as being free of antibiotics. An establishment where I can actually ORDER pepperoni or salami and not wonder if its sketch? SCORE. SCORE ONE BIG ONE FOR YOU PICAZZOS.
I think I'm in love.
So, on with our order and dining experience...
There were SO many things I was looking at, but I was remembering back to my decadent Italian experience at Vitello's and I was craving fresh pasta drizzled with with fresh herbs and olive oil, so my order was the following:
Gluten Free Foccacia Bread (which I of course shared.)
Gluten Free Fusilli Pasta with EVOO, Avocado, Tomatoes, Garlic and Fresh Basil
Mr. Charming's order was tres magnifique, and looked a little something like this...
And guys! You can GET THAT PIZZA, his decadent BBQ Chicken Pizza, gluten-free AND VEGAN. They have vegan chicken strips and Daiya cheese on a chewy-on-the-inside, crunchy-on-the-outside gluten-free crust. It's our new favorite out of all our favorites.
The staff was also amazingly sweet and are all so knowledgeable in allergies and celiac. It was such a wonderful vibe and it was really busy for a Thursday. Which is a great sign!
We are looking forward to visiting again after the baby's arrival and I have a few ideas for what will be up next on my orders...
Have you been to Picazzo's? If so, what is YOUR favorite dish? Seriously, because I'll add it to my growing list of must-trys!
Well, I have a new favorite Glendale eatery.
Which, OK, to be fair, isn't TOO hard to find since vegan & gluten free options are so few and far between here. I can count the places I can eat at in my town on one hand. And I still have fingers left over.
One day we will move back to a beach city that thrives on clean eats. But until then.
I was still super excited to find this place.
Celebrating Father's Day early, Mr. Charming and I were busy shopping around town and we got hungry. So I did a little search like I do for any local gluten-free or vegan eateries that may have popped up and was pleasantly surprised to find Fresh Healthy Cafe in Glendale, AZ at Westgate City Center.
This charming and inviting little cafe serves up just what the name promises, Fresh Healthy eats. From breakfast items (served all day!) to paninis and wraps for those who can indulge in the gluten there are many options.
For us non-gluten or vegan foodies there's a salad menu, a Quinoa bowl menu and a plethora of fresh juices and smoothies. Plethora is the word I use when I'm surprised by the volume of awesomeness a place offers. Almond milk and coconut smoothies, all fruit smoothies, coffees with vegan milk. Happy, happy girl.
Mr. Charming decided on the Turkey Bacon Avocado Sandwich, which I say if you can have bread looked and smelled amazing. He rated it a 4 out of 5 for taste which is high for a cafe locale. I got the Beach Salad minus the feta cheese and I had them add beets (for iron for baby and me) and tomato. I usually go dressing-less so the tomato gives it that moisture I crave in a salad. It was also topped with fresh blubes and avocado which made the flavors just explode. SO GOOD.
We paired our meals with Olive Oil Baked Kettle Chips & their Kale Pineapple Smoothies (SO GOOD).
They also have gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free cookies which I so wanted to get just because I could, haha, but I'm watching my sugar and trying to stay as healthy as I can to prep for birth, so I opted out. But the Cinnamon Sugar and the Chocolate Chip cookies looked divine. Maybe next time.
Have you tried a Fresh Healthy Cafe in your city? I'd love to know your favorite dish so I can mix it up next time! Leave it in the comments below.
I think we all reach a point where we take our "here & now" for granted. I've been feeling an overwhelming sense of wanderlust lately, not sure if my soul was pulling me to simply travel or to pack our bags and relocate all together. But it's been something. Strong and fierce.
And while things aren't always that simple, and it makes the most sense for us to be here, now, I needed to take a breath and make the most of the weekend and go on a date with my own city. Sometimes, right where you are can charm you if you let it.
So I picked out an outfit to set the tone for the weekend, packed some snacks for the day in case we couldn't find a safe eatery and we were off!
Mr. Charming was on board to be a part of the day, as weekends are our longest, most wonderful hours together in a week and so we mapped out some places that we'd never been before. (And they were only 20 minutes away!)
In Phoenix, close to downtown, there is an adorable street of shopping known as the Melrose District. Mr. Charming's aunt & cousins actually own a shop down there, Melrose Vintage, that has the CA-UTEST things and vintage shabby chic furniture. If you go, tell them Mandi sent you! Two of our favorite new stops we scoped out were Pearly Mae's (where I found a 1930's Stardust tea set) and Zinnia's at Melrose (where I fell in love with a pair of Ruby Slippers). Mr. Charming and I adore antique shopping so we spent a good couple of hours browsing.
After shopping we were getting hungry and I had heard of a marketplace on Instagram called Luci's Healthy Marketplace. I. Fell. In. Love. Not only did they have a quaint market STOCKED with some of my favorite Paleo & gluten-free products (I stocked up!) they also had a charming retro coffee shop and cafe.
The coffee shop offered an assortment of beverages including almond milk & rice milk lattes! However, having had my pre-natal B-12 smoothie in the morning, I was feeling a buzz and I was in no need of more energy stimulation. So instead I opted to try a new drink. It was carbonated water infused with ginger, vanilla & lime by Sipp. Pure, simple & less than 5 ingredients? I'm in.
Lunch was fresh & delicious. I had a salad topped with fresh turkey & avocado (of course, because avocado goes with EVERYTHING.) And Mr. Charming enjoyed a chicken salad with fresh tomatoes and toast on a bed of greens (which can be made 100% gluten-free! All their items can be!) We finished our meal with a little plate of gluten-free, vegan chocolate chip cookies that we shared as a weekend treat. We decided we are going to make this a date place for sure and come for breakfasts. After this visit I was feeling refreshed and I was already loving my city a little more.
After Luci's we headed to REI and a tactical shop so Mr. Charming could get in some camping shopping. Ladies, remember it's all about give & take. He perused shops with me and dined in my dream of a vintage cafe, so I enjoyed looking for all kinds of cool camping stuff with him for our next outdoor adventure.
After our tummies were fed and we were all shopped out we headed to another nearby shopping district closer to home called City North. We'd driven through it a couple of times and Mr. Charming had had work meetings there before but we wanted to check out a shop I had heard of called Pinspiration.
Yes, Pinspiration. It's a place where you bring your friends, drink champagne and do projects off of Pinterest! I of course bonded with the girl at the shop (she actually stated to Mr. Charming that she believed her and I were practically the same person, haha) and I made a mental note to bring all my girlfriends here with me. Whether they want to come or not. It's happening.
After a long successful outing we came home to play with our fur babies and crack open my newest find, the cookbook, Paleo Takeout by Russ Crandall, which after trying just one meal has pretty much changed my life of me longing for traditional takeout food of the past. The review is forthcoming - once the food coma subsides.
Until then, for those of you lacking a love, or even a like for the city that you call home, schedule a date. Go on Instagram, Pinterest or Google and look for a couple of new places you've never been before that fit into things that interest you. Scope them out, give your city a shot. Worst case, the date goes badly and you have a great story to tell the next city ;)
Do you have any great "date your city" stories? Or do you know of somewhere I need to check out in AZ to keep our relationship going? ;) Seriously, I've lived here a LONG time and haven't been to many places. I usually travel out of state to sight see. Leave it in the comments!
So, this past weekend Mr. Charming and I embarked on a Wellness Retreat. Read my post here on how to have a Budget Friendly Retreat.
There were definitely things I'd do different in the future, (this is the first one we've planned on our own) but it was nice to get away. I share below some of the activities, some photos, and of course, the food. The yummy, healthy, amazing, food.
I adored the quality time with my husband, and my friend Kym came by to lounge and swim and do mani-pedi's for girl time while Mr. Charming had to work. The food was delish, and the grounds were an amazing place to read. I could have done without the horrible cramps that threatened to ruin my entire weekend, and though I turned off the phone and left the computer at home, I'm going to aim for less TV time and complete removal of phones from the room next time to be 100% tech free. But all in all, a nice getaway.
We stayed at the Cibola Vista Resort in Peoria, AZ, near Lake Pleasant. The grounds were so pretty. I adore the expansive lawn and I spent time reading and catching up on books that inspire my writing. I also love fountains. So calming and serene. I thought about doing yoga down here, but it got quite warm out, so I opted to stay in and do yoga in my room.
This was the view from my rooms balcony. I left the doors and windows open while doing yoga and enjoying our meals. The weather was beautiful and we swam and soaked up some sun for natural vitamin D.
And of course, onto the food. Click each title to be taken to the recipe. Would love for you to share how you rejuvenate or what you do on your little weekend getaways in the comments section!
And of course I had to plan one decadent dessert. Completely refined sugar free, this deconstructed apple pie uses Nana's Cookie Bars crumbled to mimic a pie crust for a topping that is heavenly. Click here or click on the photo for the recipe.
Nosh & Nurture was born of this journey I am on to better the health of myself, my family and those around me. What started as a simple compilation of recipes has grown to a all-around lifestyle journal with ways to incorporate organic products into your home, pantry and beauty cabinet. I also include stories on pregnancy, new motherhood, travel, Proverbs 31 marriage, and spiritual health, as I am a Christian who couldn't do any of this without my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. For more of my story you can click here.
All recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free with a lot of soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free options.