Tips for Traveling While on a Whole30

We are now three weeks in to our 2019 Whole30. Amanda and I have been traveling a lot for work this month. It is definitely tough, so for our weeks 2 and 3 update we wanted to share some of our tips for staying Whole30 compliant while traveling.

  1. Pack Snacks. This is a big one. Pack more than you think you need. Airport food sucks even when you aren’t restricting what you eat. Trying to find something without sugar, fried, or wrapped in bread is even worse. When you are on a roadtrip, gas station and rest area fare is about the same. We both stocked up on Larabars, That’s It bars, Thunderbird bars, plantain chips, sweet potato chips, and carrots.
  2. Mexican places are your friend. I ate Mexican food three times last week. It is so easy to get beef, chicken, or pork with whatever vegetables that have on-hand, some lettuce, guacamole, and salsa that you eat with your pre-packed plantain chips.
  3. Most restaurants have a meat + veggie option. Sometimes you have to ask very nicely for substitutions, but your server can usually make it work. Make sure to tip because it was probably a hassle.
  4. Book a hotel with continental breakfast. I stay at Hyatt Places a lot (there always seems to be one where I need to go), and they have a hot continental breakfast included with the stay. I ate roughly four eggs and a bunch of potatoes for breakfast every morning before I left, which held me over until about noon. I avoided the bacon because it probably had sugar in it, but I ate the sausage when they had it, which I’m pretty sure didn’t have sugar in it.
  5. If you aren’t 100% compliant, that is okay. Look, aim for compliance. Try your best. Don’t cheat just because you craved mac and cheese. But if the Mexican restaurant happens to throw cheese overtop what you ordered, scrape off what you can and eat your meal. That little bit of cheese won’t tank your progress, but skipping a meal and eating pizza three hours later because your willpower is gone will. What if you find out after your meal arrives that there is milk in the mashed potatoes? Whatever. Eat them without guilt. It will be okay.
  6. Make conscious choices. There are times when staying compliant isn’t worth it. But you have to set those boundaries for yourself and know what they are. I have one main conscious boundary: I’ll break compliance for high quality, unique, local cuisine. I only broke once for a small thing. My coworker Dave and I went to a seafood restaurant in Charleston. One of their specialties is roasted local oysters with breadcrumbs and pimento cheese on top. I had a few. They were delicious. One other situation that sadly didn’t occur but I would have chosen to break for if it did is if someone got us reservations at Husk. Amanda is at a conference in the mountains this week and they have a dinner planned at an incredible Alpine-style restaurant. That is totally worth breaking for. This goal of this Whole30 is to break our over reliance on sugar and carbs, not to turn us into British monks.
  7. Good bartenders will make you alcohol-and-sugar-free drinks. Being the only one in a social situation not drinking sucks, and you are very likely to be in a situation like that if you are traveling. If it is at a good bar, ask the bartender if they can make you something without alcohol or sugar. At the oyster place I mentioned above, the bartender made me a drink with cucumber water, muddled basil, lemon juice, ginger, and lemon peel. It was delicious. Some places even have something like Seedlip available for people who don’t want alcohol.
  8. Drink plenty of water. First, you are more likely to get dehydrated when traveling because of the break in your normal routines and schedule, plus all of the dry air on airplanes. Second, drinking water can help stave off hunger for a bit.
  9. When all else fails: Salads with extra protein. I ate so many salads last week because they were the only compliant option some days. When possible, I opted for field greens, spinach, or kale as the base and always doubled up on the protein, usually grilled chicken. I got whatever veggies I could thrown on top. Olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper as the dressing. Burger places are usually pretty cool with putting two burger patties on a salad for you. I did that twice last week.

What are some of your favorite Whole30 travel tips? Throw them in the comments!

Baking Time and Temperature for a Yala’s Half-Baked Pizza

Yala’s Pizza, my favorite pizza joint where I grew up, sells half-baked frozen pizzas for you to take home and bake yourself. Whenever I go back home, my parents pick me up one (a double pepperoni), vacuum seal it, and stick it in my cooler right before I leave. They are the best.

I couldn’t find the recommended baking time and temperature online, so I had to call them. I figured I’d post the instructions here so that other Lorain County natives can search for it online instead of calling the grumpy guy at Yala’s. (And so that I’ll be able to find it next time…) Here it is:

🍕🍕🍕 450F for 15-20 minutes 🍕🍕🍕

I used my pre-heated pizza steel and baked my pizza for 15 minutes on the middle rack and turned on the broiler for the last two minutes to brown the cheese. Steel conducts much better than a stone or pan, so aim for closer to 20 minutes if you use a regular pan or stone.

It came out great:

Picking Apples and Peaches 🍎🍑

Amanda and I drove up to Wilkins Fruit & Fir Farm over Labor Day Weekend to go apple picking. It is a tradition we started the year we got married. Sometimes the weather is beautiful and warm, sometimes it is rainy and cold, sometimes we have friends with us, and other times it is just us. But we always go. It is a cute little farm and they always have fresh apple cider doughnuts to buy in their bakery. 🍩

This year it was just us and the weather was gorgeous. It was one of the first cool days of the season and the sun was shining. We ended up picking two pecks of apples, a mix of Gala and McIntosh.

Also, since we went earlier than normal this year, peaches were still in season! We picked a few pounds of those, too.

How we used our Harvest

Peaches 🍑

Amanda made a peach galette and peach hand pies, then we canned the rest so that we can make another galette later this year. In the spirit of using as much as possible, I took the water we boiled the peaches in to remove the skin and used it to make a peach and raspberry tea. And, of course, we ate at least half a dozen peaches while prepping them.

Apples 🍎

First and foremost, we made and canned two batches of apple butter. We ate about a dozen apples between the two of us over the next week, then we took what was left and made canned apple pie filling. Amanda took one peck to work to sell at the coworking/meeting space she manages.

We might cruise up there again later this fall to buy some cider to ferment here at home with champagne yeast.

We can’t wait to go again next year!

Using Garlic Scapes

If you planted your garlic late last fall before the first frost, you are probably ready to harvest the scapes–the twisty little pointy part growing on the stalk from the middle of the leaves. Scapes are the flower stalks of the garlic plant, though garlic doesn’t produce actual flowers. 

We cut them off early in the season so that the plan uses its energy in growing large bulbs instead. Also, earlier cuts have milder flavors. The flavor of the scapes get stronger and more harsh the longer they grow. 

Instead of throwing them out, here are five ways you can use them:

  1. Slice them up like regular garlic. The flavor isn’t as strong as regular garlic, but it is still there, so you can slice up the scapes and include them in any dish that you want garlic in. Or, since the flavor is mild, you can cut them in larger segments and use them like you would use green onions in a salad. 
  2. Add them to aioli. Garlicky aioli is a wonderful dip/spread. Use some garlic scapes in place of garlic cloves. The final mixture will be pale green. 
  3. Make a pesto. This is a great addition to a homemade pizza
  4. Pickle them. Cut them into 2in segments and use your favorite vinegar pickle brine
  5. Add them to scrambled eggs (1/8-1/4in segments) or to omelettes (1/2-1in segments). Sauté them in a little butter first to soften them up, then add them to your eggs. They add a wonderful mild garlic flavor to your breakfast. We like adding salt, pepper, and grated pecorino. 

I used one in scrambled eggs right after I picked ours:

We’re probably going to use the rest of ours in omelettes. How do you like using garlic scapes? Let me know in the comments! 

Preparing for Guests

Amanda and I love having friends come stay with us. In fact, we have some friends coming to stay with us this weekend. This got me thinking about how I usually prepare for guests on the food & beverage side of things. My Grandma taught me that there is no faux pas worse than not having enough food or drinks for guests.

I thought it would be a good idea to get my checklist down on paper.


  • How many meals should I prepare for and how many are we likely to eat out?
  • Do our guests have any dietary restrictions or strong preferences?
  • Do I have enough snacks for between meals or late-night game playing and conversation? My go-tos are:
    • Fresh fruit (Apples, bananas, pears)
    • Cheese, crackers, and charcuterie
    • Nuts (cashews or almonds)
    • Olives
    • Kind Bars
    • Popcorn sprinkled with Mural of Flavor
  • Do I have breakfast ingredients? Not everyone fasts until noon like I do. I usually make a large breakfast skillet or some breakfast bowls. I also keep some bread around for toast. Other times I like to make a large frittata.
  • What can I make ahead of time to make meals at home easier? My go-tos are:
    • Soups. Easy to make and freeze a week ahead of time and easy to heat up. Have some crusty bread to heat up on the side and we are good to go.
    • Carnitas. Today I’m making a big batch of carnitas in the crock pot that I’ll strain and crisp up in the oven before putting them in the fridge. This makes whipping together a quick lunch fast and easy.
    • Cutting, seasoning, vacuum sealing, and freezing meats ahead of time to toss in the sous vide. Then I can quickly roast vegetables for a side.
    • If I start pizza dough three days in advance, making pizza is a fun and delicious group activity.
  • Do I have dessert options? They don’t need to be elaborate. Scones or cookies work well!
  • Do we have flowers for the table? Making the table a more pleasant place to be is important.



  • Do I have enough coffee beans?
    • Do my guests take milk or sweetener in their coffee?
    • Do I have grass-fed butter and MCT for the people who prefer Bulletproof coffee?
  • Do I have different varieties of tea for people who prefer tea?
  • Do I have enough ice for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks?
  • Should I make a double batch of iced coffee if it is hot out?
  • Do I need to walk down to Yonkers Brewing and get a growler? Do my guests like hoppy, sour, or full-bodied beer?
  • Do I have enough citrus for juice and garnishing cocktails?
  • Do I have at least one interesting cocktail I should introduce my guests to?
  • Do I have Pellegrino and wine to serve with meals?
  • Do I have orange juice available for breakfast?

Eating Our Way Around Flushing

Back in January, Amanda and I met our friend Dani in Flushing, Queens, for a day of stuffing ourselves with Chinese food. We roughly followed the Serious Eats guide: How to Eat Flushing: A One-Day Food Tour of NYC’s Greatest Chinatown. Here is how it went.


We decided to meet at noon. Unfortunately, due to NYC’s ubiquitious weekend subway maintenance, Dani was running late. We all agreed to skip breakfast to make room for the mass quantity of dumplings we were about to consume, so we were pretty hungry. Amanda and I decided to get a quick snack from a street stall while we were waiting. We couldn’t really tell what anything was and we don’t speak or read Chinese (nothing at this stall was in English), so we just pointed at something and handed over some money. It ended up being fried tofu balls of some sort. Good little snack.

First Stop: Tian Jin Dumpling House

Dani made it about 30 minutes later and we made our way to the first destination: The Tian Jin Dumpling House. It took us a few minutes to find because it is in the basement food hall of The Golden Shopping Mall on Main St.

We got two plates of dumplings to share:  Pumpkin TangYuan w/ Sesame (the daily special) and Beef dumplings with turnip. I loved the ground black sesame seeds in the pumpkin TangYuan. They were slightly gritty with a sweet but savory flavor that worked well with the pumpkin wrapper.

White Bear

After eating a few plates at Tian Jin, we decided to walk around the block to White Bear and order their well-known specialty: #6, wontons with hot sauce. People must order this all the time because the old lady behind the counter rolled her eyes when we ordered it.

These were probably the best dumplings we had all day. As Serious Eats reports, they are “dressed in not-actually-spicy chili oil, ground up roasted chili, and nubs of funky, salty preserved mustard root.” We would have ordered at least two more plates of these, but we wanted to same room for later.

Fang Gourmet Tea

With a belly full of dumplings and in desperate need of caffeine, we jumped ahead on the itinerary and went to Fang Gourmet Tea to have a world-class tea tasting.

The tea seller who led our tasting was a complete expert and taught us a ton throughout the process. She incredibly kind and patiently answered our newbie questions. We were invited to taste and smell the tea at every part of the 5-stage brewing process. She pointed out aromas and tastes that we would have missed on our own and pointed out what sets this tea apart from the others on the list.

We tasted the Premium Roasted Oolong and the Original Ti Kuan Yin Honey Aroma 50% Roasted. Both were incredible. We left with a new appreciation for the world of tea and had a newfound desire to buy a porcelain gaiwan and learn how to brew tea at home.

Right before we left, another party came into the small shop. I thought I recognized one of the guys, and it turns out I was right. It was Max Falkowitz, the Serious Eats contributor and author of the very guide we were following that day! I introduced myself and told him what we were up to. He gave us even more great tips on where to go. Super nice guy!

Fu Run

We walked around for a bit to stretch our legs and get some sun, then we headed over to Fu Run to get the Muslim Lamb Chop: A rack of lamb ribs covered in cumin and ground chiles. They were fiery and delicious. We got a plate of pork fried rice as a side.

Dessert: Iris Tea & Bakery

Dani had plans back in Manhattan late in the afternoon, and Amanda and I did, too. So instead of getting BBQ or Dosas for dinner, we decided to get an early dessert before heading back across the river. We scoped out a few places, but ultimately landed at Iris Tea & Bakery. We picked four desserts to share:

  • Taro Cube – This was super dense and didn’t have an overwhelming taro flavor. It wasn’t sweet. Overall decent, but probably not something we’d pick again.
  • Hokkaido Pineapple Bread – We expected this to have a lot of pineapple flavor, but it was actually pretty bland. Not recommended.
  • Mexican Cheese Chocolate Bread – Very good. Would have again. We didn’t expect it be hollow, but the Mexican chocolate and cheese was awesome.
  • Matcha Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread – This was, surprisingly, the best out of the bunch. It was probably the cream cheese.

After enjoying these, we made a bee-line for the subway and went back into Manhattan.

We’ll be back for more, Flushing. We need to have more #6 at White Bear, drink some more tea, and make our way to Mapo for BBQ and Ganesh Temple Canteen for dosas.

Next time you are in NYC, set some time aside to hit Flushing. It is very close to LaGuardia Airport, so leave two hours early for your flight and stop in Flushing for a meal. Then get a cab to LGA from Flushing, which shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.

Getting into NYC Restaurants Without Reservations

If you are visiting NYC and want to maximize your chances of getting into a hot restaurant without reservations, what should you do?

Go there for lunch during the week.

Here’s why:

The place probably won’t be crowded.
Places I’ve had to wait over an hour to get into for dinner during the week have been completely dead at Friday during lunch. I was one of 10 people at one of my favorites places at 12:30, the middle of the lunch rush.

You can chat with the staff without them hating you.
If you try to chat with the bartender during dinner, chances are that you will be despised. But if you go sit at the bar during lunch, the bartender will be much more likely to chat with you about cocktails. Last week at Ssam Bar I was one of two people sitting at the bar and I talked to the bartender Josh about amaro, swapped cocktail recipes, shared liquor recommendations, and he even poured me some samples.

The prices are lower.
With less demand and smaller portions, you are likely to meet lower prices for the same quality food. If there is a popular dish on the dinner menu, there is likely a similar lunch version of the dish.

Like any rule, there are exceptions to this. You are probably thinking of some right now. Of course some places are busy at lunch. It isn’t always easy to take a full hour for lunch. Some dishes are only available at dinner. Yeah, I get it.

The point here is to approach going out in a different way: Go when other people aren’t going. Lunch during the week is the easiest for me given my flexible schedule. If lunch doesn’t work for you, try going out later (9pm or after) or going out in bad weather.