Monday, August 19, 2019

How Social Media Works + Recent Meals

Good morning!

Let’s talk about how social media works, shall we? I came across this meme the other day, and it made me LOL. It’s sooooo true!


how social media works meme

True story: I once said: “Everyone loves puppies,” and then got reamed out on social media by someone who got attacked by a puppy as a kid. I know you can’t make everyone happy, but jeez Louise! Just some food for thought! 😉

Recent Meals

I love to see what other people eat because it always gives me tasty ideas for my own meals and snacks. Here are some of my recent meals, which, as you’ll see, are super simple throw-together meals. I am not fancy when I cook, but I still love delicious and nutritious food! 🙂 If you’re on Instagram, check out my new-ish video series on IGTV!

Air fryer fish tacos made with cod, guacamole, Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar, and shredded purple cabbage 

Buffalo shredded chicken with arugula, lentils (Trader Joe’s pre-cooked), and maple roasted carrots 

Hummus chicken salad with sautéed Brussels sprouts with a little bit of taco seasoning (I used this meal prep tool to quickly chop them), and fresh salsa

Veggie + cheddar sandwich with mayo and sprouts – I had this at a sandwich shop in Concord, NH and loved how simple and delicious it was. I definitely want to recreate it at home! 

banza mac & cheese with chicken breast and broccoli

Banza Mac & Cheese with leftover chicken breast and roasted broccoli mixed in

Arugula with roasted sweet potatoes, half of an avocado, and deli turkey drizzles with balsamic glaze on top

Throw-Together Dessert: Warm Lemon Bar with Blueberries & Whipped Cream

I’m also loving this quickie 3-ingredient microwaveable blueberry pie. Trust me, you want to try it! 🙂

Question of the Day

What meal are you loving lately? Do you like these recent meals posts? 

P.S. Do you love single-serving desserts? Download my Single-Serving Desserts Ebook for FREE! There’s lots of tasty ideas inside!

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Dog-Friendly Friday Night on the South Shore

Hi, guys!

We had quite the fun time on Friday night… and it was totally impromptu! I didn’t feel like cooking, so we decided to take the whole family out to dinner at the Hingham Shipyard. We took Murphy to dinner at Trident last year and had such a great time together, we decided to do it again. It was basically a dog-friendly Friday night on the South Shore. Woohoo!

Trident has an outdoor patio space that is dog-friendly, so it’s the perfect spot to bring a pup. (Hingham Beer Works and Wahlburgers across the way also allow dogs outside.) We brought along Murphy’s food and water, so he could eat dinner with us.

Dog-Friendly Friday Night on the South Shore

Dinner started with drinks and oysters, which Quinn actually tried again. He didn’t love the bite that he took, but we were pumped he gave them another shot!

For my entree, I ordered the Brussels sprouts and shared Quinn’s hummus plate with him. He wasn’t into the grilled vegetables and barely made a dent in the huge portion of hummus, so it worked out perfectly.

Murphy, of course, was on “cleaned up” duty and ate every morsel of food that fell onto the ground.

After dinner, we explored the Shipyard and ended up staying for the free concert, which was such a nice way to spend the night. The concert was actually really packed, and I kind of wished we had attended a few more of them this summer.

There’s two more Friday night concerts, so I definitely think we’ll plan better next time and make a whole night of it. We didn’t bring anything with us – like chairs, blankets, drinks, snacks, etc. Even still, we really had a great time, but I could see how the outdoor concerts could be even more fun!

Murphy definitely enjoyed our dog-friendly Friday night on the South Shore. I mean, look at that happy pug face!

dog-friendly hingham shipyard free concert summer

Question of the Day

Local readers: What are your favorite dog-friendly places in the area? Where would you spend a dog-friendly Friday night on the South Shore?

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Primal + Keto Cooking Made Easy: Primal Oatmeal

On mornings when a bowl of oatmeal is what your body craves, this hearty and comforting Primal breakfast cereal is exactly what you need. Coconut flakes, almonds, pecans, and the milk of your choice are blended into a creamy, oatmeal-like cereal and topped with fresh berries.

Make Primal oatmeal in the morning or the night before. Serve it hot or cold. Personalize your bowl by using different types of nuts and non-dairy milks, sweetening with pure maple syrup or yacon syrup instead of a Medjool date, and adding more flavor and nutrients with add-ins like butter, cinnamon or chia seeds. However you do it, “oatmeal” doesn’t get any tastier than this.

Serving: 1 larger serving 

Time in the Kitchen: 5 minutes (plus, time to soak the nuts, if desired)


  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (16 g)
  • ¼ cup raw almonds, preferably soaked (1.25 oz/37 g)
  • ¼ cup raw pecans, preferably soaked (1 oz/25 g)
  • ½ cup coconut milk or whipping cream/full-fat milk/half and half (120 ml)
  • 1 pitted medjool date, soaked for 20 minutes in hot water (Can omit or substitute stevia, Swerve or yacon syrup.)
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Coconut Primal Fuel
  • Pinch of salt

Optional Add-ins:

  • Fresh berries
  • Butter
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds*


In a high-powered blender, chop the coconut flakes and nuts until finely ground.

Add the milk, date (if desired) and a pinch of salt. Blend until thick and smooth.

Pour into serving bowls. Add more of your favorite milk, if desired, plus additional add-ins. Serve hot or cold.

Nutritional Information (with date, without toppings):

  • Calories: 680
  • Total Carbs: 27 grams
  • Net Carbs: 17.3 grams
  • Fat: 60 grams
  • Protein: 19 grams

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Beach Finale

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Chocolate Collagen Pudding

We love a good Collagen Fuel (or Primal Fuel) shake, but there’s something to be said for mixing it up. We think this Chocolate Collagen Pudding does the trick quite nicely—other non-Primal members of the household will likely think so, too. With two scoops of collagen plus cocoa powder and coconut milk (sub regular milk if you prefer), it satisfies even the most discerning chocolate lover without all the sugar and additives many puddings (especially boxed powders or premade varieties have).

And one juicy secret? You can have it two ways: mousse or pudding texture. (We think we just saw some eyes light up….) After blending the ingredients together, you can either pour the chocolate mixture into ramekins, or pour it into a pyrex container before placing in the fridge. If you do the former, you’ll get more of a mousse-like texture after the chocolate sets. If you do the latter and mix up the chocolate mixture after it sets, you’ll see more of a pudding texture. Enjoy!

Servings: 3

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Cooling Time: 3 hours


  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 scoops Primal Kitchen® Chocolate Coconut Collagen Fuel
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup (optional, or your favorite sweetener, to taste)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • chopped chocolate & mint, to garnish


Heat ½ cup of coconut milk in a small saucepan. Once the coconut milk is warmed, sprinkle the Primal Kitchen Chocolate Coconut Collagen Fuel over the coconut milk. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to rest for 1-2 minutes. Whisk the collagen and coconut milk together. Add the vanilla extract. Sift the cocoa powder into the pan, stirring as you go.

Pour mixture into a blender along with a dash of salt, the remaining coconut milk and your sweetener of choice. Blend until smooth.

Allow the pudding to set for about 3 hours in the refrigerator. Gently mix the pudding with a spoon and pour it into ramekins or serving glasses. Garnish with chopped dark chocolate and a sprig of mint.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

With Maple Syrup:

  • Calories: 221
  • Total Carbs: 14 grams
  • Net Carbs: 5 grams
  • Fat: 16 grams
  • Protein: 10 grams

Without Maple Syrup:

  • Calories: 203
  • Total Carbs: 9 grams
  • Net Carbs: 5 grams
  • Fat: 16 grams
  • Protein: 10 grams


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Review of the Lodge at Spruce Peak

I just wanted to jump on here and tell you about our trip to Stowe, Vermont!  We stayed at the Lodge at Spruce Peak (formerly Stowe Mountain Lodge). It’s an amazing place, and we’ve actually vacationed at the lodge during the last three summers. The PR person there is wonderful, and we’ve been friends for a while now, so when she invited our family for another visit, of course, we said yes! With that here’s a review of the Lodge at Spruce Peak! 



Review of the Lodge at Spruce Peak

Since we are lodge regulars, and we look forward to our trip all year long, I figured I’d give you guys the rundown of the pros and cons of the property as well as a quick recap of our days. Here we go with a review of the Lodge at Spruce Peak!

Pros of visiting the Lodge at Spruce Peak

One of the reasons we love the Lodge at Spruce Peak is that it’s super family-friendly. There’s so much to do! In fact, we frequently recommend it as a vacation spot for our family and friends who have children. It’s usually the first thing we say when we give a review of the Lodge at Spruce Peak.

Another reason we love the lodge and Stowe itself is that it is absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. The mountains of Vermont are gorgeous, and the lodge itself is under new ownership and has been extensively renovated. We stayed in a one-bedroom suite that also offered a pull-out couch, along with a full kitchen, bathroom, and even a little balcony – sweet! Photos of our room here and here.

The food is absolutely amazing. Much of the food is local and farm-fresh, and the chefs prepare a very interesting menu (nothing like the usual, kind-of-boring dishes you might expect) featuring high quality, farm-to-table ingredients. Of course, there’s a kids menu (and if you have a picky eater as we do, you know how much of a relief that is with items such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese, and chicken fingers. But what was cool about this particular kids menu is that the food came out in a bento box with a side of fruits and veggies. Quinn even ended up eating carrots and peanut butter one day – we’ll take it!

We love visiting in the summer because its a little bit more low-key (still busy, but not totally crazy), and the staff and service are amazing. Everyone is so nice!

In addition to there being a ton of on-site activities, there’s also a bunch of stuff to do off the resort. Stowe is such an amazing town with all sorts of restaurants, shops, biking, and hiking trails, kayaking, and canoeing. It’s definitely a must-visit if you’re into the outdoors! The food is also pretty incredible with a few great breweries. If you want to venture even further, Burlington is just a 30-minute ride away. It’s a small city with more shops, restaurants, and things to do. Plus, it’s on a lake, so it’s equally as beautiful!

Cons of visiting the Lodge at Spruce Peak

The only con of the Lodge at Spruce Peak is that it’s a tad pricey. While we were fortunate enough to have much of our expenses covered since our stay was a media trip for Carrots n’ Cake, it’s not cheap. However, I do wholeheartedly think the cost is worth it. And even if the opportunity to partner didn’t work out this year, I had told Mal that I still definitely wanted to visit. Plus, Spruce Peak often has deals for the spring and fall, such as purchasing a two-night stay to get one night free, or a three-night stay with spa credit. So if you’re interested in making the trip, definitely sign up for their email list to keep up-to-date with the newest offers.

In addition, one of my favorite budget-friendly vacation tips is to make breakfast on your own if you can, and carry your own snacks. The Lodge at Spruce Peak makes that easy for you with a full kitchen that features a stove, fridge, and dishwasher. You could absolutely pop into town to stock up on groceries for your stay, making the trip even more affordable. 

Ok, on to what we did during our trip! Like I mentioned above, there are so many adult and kid-friendly options that the whole family can enjoy time together. There’s really something for everyone!

The Pool at at Spruce Peak

On Sunday, our first day there, we popped by the pool for a swim, which we love because it’s not super deep (so we didn’t have to worry about Quinn). There’s also a little bar, so you can grab a cocktail or two while you enjoy the water. The pool is heated in the winter and has two hot tubs, plus an awesome indoor swim-out option, which I imagine must be so amazing in the winter!

Whistle Pig Pavilion at Spruce Peak

After our swim, we showered up and enjoyed a little happy hour on the beautiful pavilion/green space in the middle of the resort. There’s all sorts of yard games, chairs, music, and an outdoor bar. It’s the perfect little space to sit and relax with a drink. Plus, it turns into a skating rink in the winter!

On the weekends, the resort features even more activities, such as a fire pit to make your own smores. We were there at the beginning of the week, so didn’t get a chance to catch that (darn it!), but just gives us even more incentive to come back on a weekend – and preferably in the winter so we can check out all of their awesome cold-weather perks!

The Gondola at at Spruce Peak

We were up bright and early on Monday (a certain five-year-old was too excited to sleep) and took a gondola ride all the way up to the top of the mountain, which was a huge hit with Quinn. No surprise there! When he was three years old, he was sooooo into the gondola ride that we must have ridden it up and down at least three times in one day!

Above: Photo on the left is Quinn at 3 years old (2017); right is him at 5 years old this summer 

Hiking at at Spruce Peak

Once we got off at the top, we took a short, kid-friendly hike. (There are tougher adult trails in Stowe and Burlington, if you’re interested.) After about an hour, we came back down so that Quinn could attend the resort’s all-day kids camp. The camp is an awesome option for families. They have age groups from baby and toddler all the way up to teenagers.

We dropped Quinn off for a half-day so that Mal and I could take part in an adventure boot-camp that the resort was offering. It started out with a round of plyometrics and bodyweight exercises before moving on to a running tour of the resort. We had the chance to check out a few areas that I hadn’t seen before and did some trail running by the golf course and through the woods. All in all, it ended up being a full two miles with the push-ups, dips, and lunges of the bodyweight portion mixed in. It was a fun workout! We spent the rest of Monday hanging out by the pool, eating dinner, and just enjoying a low-key evening. (Quinn actually fell asleep on me during dinner. I carried him all the way back to our room and put him right to bed. He was exhausted!) 

The Spa at at Spruce Peak

Tuesday was another busy day as I was up early to head to the spa, which is absolutely incredible! They use all-natural products, so you know you’re getting the good stuff. I opted for a CBD massage, so the therapist used an essential oil mixed with CBD. It ended up being a super relaxing massage – just what I needed after boot camp. Bonus – the treatment finished with a kombucha mixed with a little more CBD. What’s even cooler is that the products were all locally made in Vermont, and the CBD oil was from a women-owned business. In addition, no matter which treatment you select, you receive access to the spa all day, which includes saltwater pools, a gym, and even rooms to just chill and rest.

Indoor Activities at Spruce Peak

While I was at the spa, Quinn was rock climbing at the resort’s indoor rock-climbing gym. He got to participate in a little rescue mission by rescuing stuffed animals from the top of the wall. He was a little nervous at first, but the more he climbed, the better and more confident he got. Afterward, he said he had the best time! Mal said the staff at the gym was so nice and gave him little tips and tricks on how to climb higher.

Outdoor Activities at at Spruce Peak

After lunch, we drove about twenty minutes away from the resort to go kayaking and paddleboarding. You had the option to rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards, and the company that rented them drove us up the river, so that we could work our way down. The water was pretty shallow, and it took us a good hour and a half to two hours, but we also went at a leisurely pace because we got out, swam around, and explored a few of the beaches. Quinn and I shared a double kayak for a bit before switching to the paddleboard. Of course, it was pretty much just me paddling for a good four-and-a-half miles, so it ended up being quite the upper body workout!

Chef’s Dinner at at Spruce Peak

That night, we had the chance to take part in a chef’s dinner at the resort’s main restaurant, Solstice. The chef’s dinner is available for all restaurant patrons regardless if you are staying at the resort and features five different courses, though, with the amount of food you’re served, it feels like much more. We enjoyed everything from appetizers to dessert, and each course featured a wine pairing.

The cost of the dinner is about $150 per person, which I think is super reasonable for the amount of food you get, along with the wine. It’s perfect for a date night or a smaller group (they don’t offer it to parties bigger than eight people), and they even offered special kids meals for Quinn. So while we were feasting on oysters and scallops, he had his fill of quesadillas, guacamole, and, of course, carrots and peanut butter! It was so great that they had a kid-friendly menu for him so that he could partake in different courses, just like us! 

Line House at Spruce Peak

After dinner, we stopped by The Line House, which is a secret speakeasy right under The Skinny Pancake. So secret, you can’t really find anything on Google about it – you have to know someone or get invited.

The Line House is a really cool and funky bar that doesn’t have a drink menu. The bartenders custom craft drinks according to what you enjoy. Quinn got his own “mixed drink” that he thoroughly enjoyed. It was a cute take on a Shirley Temple, but without the red dyes or soda. Line House is definitely a place to check out if you get the opportunity to do so!

Other Amenities at Spruce Peak

Another place we loved was the Beanery, a cute little coffee shop on the property. You know how I feel about iced coffee, so this was a must-visit, and the coffee was excellent! The Beanery also offers smoothies, egg sandwiches, and other breakfast items. We actually did coffee and breakfast there a couple of mornings. The shop has a little provision section where you can grab meats, cheeses, wines, and other snacks to take back to your room and enjoy, especially if you didn’t have time to stop at a grocery store.

While we didn’t have time to visit the gym this trip (we had a ton of other activities keeping us on the go!), the gym on the property is really nice. The equipment is brand-new, including four Peloton bikes and a decent weights section, and offers classes such as yoga and pilates. In addition, there are all sorts of cute shops around the resort. In fact, we meant to stop into one and grab a new Christmas tree ornament (we like to decorate our tree with ornaments from the different trips we’ve been on), but now I realize that we totally forgot – oops! 

Overall, we absolutely love the Lodge at Spruce Peak and will most definitely visit again. It’s become a yearly tradition and an important part of our family’s summer vacation. We’ve always loved Vermont, but there is something just so special about Stowe and the Lodge at Spruce Peak. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to get away at a resort with quality service in a picturesque mountain town, especially those of us who want kid-friendly activities to keep the whole family entertained. In fact, we’re working on a potential discount for CNC readers – stay tuned! I hope you enjoyed this review of the Lodge at Spruce Peak! 

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Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe

This Chinese chicken salad recipe is a full meal all by itself! Filled with fresh ingredients like carrots, ginger and green onions, it’s packed with flavor and good-for-you nutrients. Plus it’s just… Read more →

from The Gracious Pantry

Friday, August 16, 2019

Weekly Link Love — Edition 42

Research of the Week

Findings from a new meta-analysis of vitamin D studies: D3 better than D2, D protective against cancer.

Keto is looking quite promising for cancer.

Among children with a genetic proclivity toward celiac disease, eating more gluten than average increases the risk of developing celiac.

Animal milk is better for the environment than plant milk.

Social exclusion makes the room seem darker.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 364: Carnivore and Cancer: Host Brad Kearns explores the relationship between carnivore dieting and cancer.

Episode 365: Paul Robinson: Host Elle Russ chats with thyroid expert Paul Robinson.

Episode 366: Keto Q&A, plus Carnivore Rationale: Host Brad Kearns fields your questions.

Primal Health Coach Radio, Episode 22: Erin and Laura welcome Brad Kearns to the podcast.

Each week, select Mark’s Daily Apple blog posts are prepared as Primal Blueprint Podcasts. Need to catch up on reading, but don’t have the time? Prefer to listen to articles while on the go? Check out the new blog post podcasts below, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast here so you never miss an episode.

Media, Schmedia

C. diff is really enjoying the sugar in people’s diets.

NPR gives a nice rundown on the environmental benefits of grass-fed beef.

Interesting Blog Posts

Why’d it take so long to invent the bicycle?

Here’s what happens when you ignore the experts.

How meat affects the environment.

Everything Else

What’s it like being an extreme morning person?

The death of the calorie.

Another famous study bites the dust.

Bronze Age marsh diets involved a lot of undercooked frogs, mollusks, and parasitic worms.

Must have been flour tortillas.

To my German readers: a meat tax may be coming.

Wanna take Neanderthal survival courses in Italy?

Join the resistance.

Humans are narrative-spinners out of necessity in a chaotic world.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

Podcast I enjoyed doing: The Skinny Confidential, talking business, longevity, fasting, and keto.

Paper I found interesting: “Domestic Livestock and Its Alleged Role in Climate Change

Study I found surprising: Weighted hula hooping seemingly enables spot reduction of belly fat.

I’m disappointed but not surprised: Researchers are working on a “pill for loneliness.”

I’ve been saying this for years: Why drinking tons of water isn’t the best way to hydrate.

Question I’m Asking

When has ignoring the experts worked out for you?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Aug 11– Aug 17)

Comment of the Week

“I had 4 centenarians in my family in my family who lived in Greece and if they had to give blood, it would have been 90% Olive oil and 10% lunatic juice.”

– Sounds like you’ve got a marketable product there, Mike.


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