Village Juice: Winston-Salem’s Best New (& Healthy!) Restaurant

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First things first: Winston friends — Have you tried Village Juice Co. yet? If not, make a mental note to do so ASAP. Like, plan to grab lunch there today, even. You need to try this place. (It’s located off of Stratford Road, right across the street from Thruway, in the same shopping center as Zoe’s Kitchen and Brynn’s Frozen Yogurt.)

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I’ve been a fan of Village Juice since it started, and enjoyed getting to know its founder, Lonnie Atkinson, through shared connections at Pure Barre. Initially, Village Juice sold what its name implies: juice. Cold-pressed, super healthy, stupidly delicious juice. You could find their product at the Cobblestone Farmers Market and at their juice truck by the Krankies Airstream.

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Recently, though, the company expanded to a dedicated restaurant space and extended their menu to include not just their amazing juices and almond milks but also smoothies, smoothie bowls (thicker smoothies topped with fruit, nuts, and other deliciousness), toasts, salads, grain bowls, and amazing healthy desserts.

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I was lucky to get an up-close view of Village Juice Co.’s restaurant as it was being developed. The ad agency I work for, The Variable, helped Village Juice with some branding elements for the new space, and so I got to spend lots of time learning about their ingredients, mission, menu items, and more. I was giddy with excitement for this place to open. Winston-Salem just doesn’t have anything else quite like it — and it was about time we did!

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So yeah — check this place out, please. The people behind the company are amazing. The food is incredible (both its taste and quality), and you can feel good about anything you order doing really great things for your body.

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Thanks for bringing such a great healthy food option to our community, Village Juice!

Navigating My First Trimester (The Second Time Around)

Kevin and I shared recently via social media that we’re planning to become parents this coming spring.

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(!!!)

We’re thrilled with the news and, while it doesn’t come without some fear attached, we’re focusing on the positive and are so excited about what this new chapter will bring. I’m currently 15 weeks pregnant, so we’re past the first trimester (often the danger zone), which feels really good. I’m dying to find out our baby’s gender (that appointment is slated for October 21)!

We’re in that stage of things, though, where this whole thing doesn’t completely feel real. Sure, we’ve seen a couple of ultrasounds and heard the heartbeat a few times, which is always awe inspiring and so cool to be able to check in on this now-apple-sized person growing inside me. But it still feels somewhat distant at this point, and I find I’m reminding myself that I’m pregnant every now and then. (We bought a stroller and infant carrier last weekend, though, and leaving the store with those items felt VERY parental, I must say. It was kind of surreal.)

I’ve definitely had some symptoms to help remind me that something big is happening, though. Last time around, I didn’t have many symptoms, but this second pregnancy’s first trimester brought with it morning sickness (a.k.a. “not throwing up, but feeling not-so-great throughout the day many days” sickness), fatigue (I was SO TIRED), heartburn, and more sensitivity to foods and smells than usual. While on one hand I was most definitely thankful for these symptoms — as they acted as daily reminders that my hormones were working as they should — they also brought some changes to my routine and to my mindset.

I felt SO TIRED so much of the time. This is FINALLY starting to let up, and I’m incredibly thankful for having more energy. A few weeks ago, I went to bed at 6:30 p.m. on a weeknight and slept ALL night, waking up at 5 a.m. to teach Pure Barre that morning. Ten and a half hours of sleep, y’all. On, like, a Wednesday. And it was amazing, but I still wanted a nap at around 2 p.m. the next day. All this sleeping meant I was cutting many evenings short (and sleeping later on mornings when I could), skipping some times I’d typically be working out.

I was eating somewhat differently than I usually do, too. Often, I found myself STARVING, but nothing sounded good to eat. When I finally landed on what did sound good, it tended to be carb heavy. My go-to breakfast during that first trimester was Cheerios with bananas, blueberries, and almond milk. It was SO good, but my typical (non-pregnant) breakfast is a spinach and fruit smoothie. My standard lunch fare is a big salad topped with everything we have on hand. I was still eating a lot of those, but they just weren’t hitting the spot like they usually do. I was craving (and eating more of) things like crackers, rice, pizza, noodles, and toast. My sweet tooth — usually going strong — was coming and going. Coffee didn’t sound at all good. (Which is good, since limiting or eliminating caffeine is doctor’s orders.)

Some of these changes have remained intact beyond the first trimester, but thankfully I’m feeling much more like myself these days — energy level and food preferences included. (I’m disappointed to report that the heartburn is still going strong, though. Tums are my new favorite food. Ugh.) I still find sweets far less tempting than usual (kind of nice, actually). And coffee? I can take it or leave it (decaf only these days, of course). If you ask me what sounds good for dinner, though, I’ll probably still lead with pizza.

These changes have been hard for me to be okay with at times. I’m trying my best to listen to my body and be kind to myself — after all, it’s doing some majorly incredible work right now — but some days it’s really hard to feel like me with all these changes happening. It’s also hard to cut myself slack when I skip workouts or eat less like my typical self. But I’m getting better about it. And, of course, this itty bitty baby is worth me feeling uncomfortable and out of control.

I’ve been thankful for this calmer second trimester period. I know that feeling will probably be pretty short lived, so I’m trying to enjoy it while I can. My mom always said, “Having a baby is a lesson in losing control,” and I’m finding that her words are true — and they start well before the baby is actually here!

For those of you who have been through this phase of pregnancy, I’d love to hear any advice you have on how to navigate this newness. It’s strange to not know quite what to expect as far as what — or when! — changes will start happening to my body. (But seriously, consider this a solicitation for advice — both pregnancy and parenting related. I’ll take all the help I can get!)

Books I’ve Loved Lately

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I’ve been doing lots of reading recently, which has made me quite happy. I find that reading happens for me like that — I almost have to build momentum and then, once I get going, I crave book after book. I just need to keep this streak going.

Anyway, I thought I’d share the books I’ve read of late, because all of them have been worth recommending. Here goes!:

  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: I haven’t seen the movie that was inspired by this book, so I’m not able to compare the two, but the book is wonderful. It tells the story of a mid-20s girl named Louisa (“Lou”) who’s lived in the same small English town her whole life and finds herself acting as a paid companion to a wealthy quadriplegic man named Will. The two come from very different realities and at first seem the opposite of compatible, but find their lives starting to intertwine in ways neither expected. It’s lovely and heart wrenching and absolutely worth reading.

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  • Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman: I think this book should be required reading for all Americans — especially middle and upper class Americans. I’ve been a fan of the Netflix series Orange is the New Black since it was released, but found this book to be much more relatable than the show. It’s much more approachable and less dramatic than the show, although it’s easy to see how the show was born from the book. Kerman — thanks to her first-person perspective — is able to give readers a clear and honest view of what the state of prisons in America is. (Spoiler: It’s not great.) She combines compelling stats with stories of people she came into contact with during her 15 months in prison, making the story wonderfully human and strikingly memorable.

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  • All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood: This was a book club book (great pick, Sarah!), and I adored Greenwood’s writing style. The story — focusing around main character Wavy — is told from several characters’ perspectives throughout the course of the book, which is a storytelling approach I tend to really enjoy. The novel — dealing with themes including drug use and drug sales, OCD, underage girls in relationships with older men, and infidelity — was certainly not an easy read, but so very worth it.

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  • Runaway by Alice Munro: I love, love, love short stories (and have blogged in the past about some of my favorite short story books, if you want some additional recommendations), but hadn’t read anything by prolific Canadian short story author Alice Munro until just recently. Talk about compelling. Each story is beautiful, and Munro’s approach is quite fluid, often with characters from one story appearing in a different life stage in another story. She builds characters in a captivating way — especially impressive since she has so little time to do so. I can’t wait to read more of her work.

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  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff: Another book club selection (this one by Nora!), Fates and Furies is told first from the perspective of the husband in a relationship (the first half of the book) and then from his wife’s angle (the second half of the book). Groff does such a good job pointing out both the mystery as well as overlap and trust that tend to exist in any marriage, played out within the particular scenario of this couple and their life experience.

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Please send any recent favorite reads my way as well to help me keep my reading streak going strong!

Friday Favorites

It’s Friday AND this weekend is Labor Day Weekend. Whoa. Is anyone else feeling extra pumped?

Kevin and I are in Chicago this weekend (with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law) visiting some of our favorite family friends, Jim and Sandy Napolitan. We’ll be spending today in the city and then heading to their home on Lake Michigan to relax the weekend away. It’s become a bit of a tradition for us to head up to this part of the country over Labor Day, and we look forward to it each summer. The weather tends to be just about perfect, and it’s a great way to end the summer festivities. I couldn’t ask for a better holiday weekend! (Oh, and Kevin and I are trying our first SoulCycle class today. Wish us luck!)

As you kick off your own long weekend, here are some things I’ve been loving this week:

  • Kevin and I had a date night Wednesday to go see Mike Birbiglia’s new movie, Don’t Think Twice. (Fun fact: It was produced by Ira Glass!) The cast was incredible, and the movie was much more thoughtful than I expected it to be. I definitely recommend catching it if if comes to a theater near you.

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  • Winston-Salem friends: Did you see this amazing news that a J. Crew is coming to Thruway? It’s about time, right? Can’t wait! (No news on timing yet for the opening, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. Now if we could only get a Lululemon and an Anthro…)
  • How incredible do these No-Bake Almond Butter Cup Bars look? And they’re a Minimalist Baker recipe, which means they’re guaranteed to be amazing. I may need to whip up a batch of these sometime soon…

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Happy holiday weekend-ing, y’all!

My Latest Recipe Contest Entry

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I was excited to be contacted by JSL Foods a couple of months ago to ask if I wanted to participate in a noodle recipe blog contest they were hosting. Um, yes, please! I love recipe contests (evidence here, here, and here, for starters) and hadn’t entered one in a while. It was time to get back to it, and what better challenge than a cold noodle salad? (That was the category I chose.)

JSL Foods sent me a sample of their Fortune Yaki-Soba Japanese Style Stir Fry Noodles and I got to work developing a plan for the recipe. (You can find these products at your local Target store.)

I was immediately drawn to the idea of incorporating Southern flavors into this dish. After all, ingredients like edamame and sweet and sour chicken are common among Asian dishes. Why not mix things up a bit and add in ingredients like boiled peanuts and barbecue chicken instead? And while we’re at it, why not some collard greens rather than, say, bok choy? The recipe was forming. And I got to cooking.

The result? I am VERY happy with these noodles, y’all. They can be enjoyed hot or cold (for the contest, of course, I served them cold) and Kevin and I will certainly be enjoying this dish again.

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Here’s the recipe:

Southern Summertime Soba Bowl

Ingredients 

For Noodles:

  • 2/3 package of Fortune Yaki-Soba Japanese Style Stir Fry Noodles – two of the three packets of enclosed noodles, but no seasoning (JSL Food Products – can be purchased at Target)
  • 1 cup chopped cooked chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce (I used Stubb’s Original BBQ Sauce)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can seasoned collard greens (I used Margaret Holmes’ Heat and Serve)
  • 1/4 Vidalia onion, chopped roughly

For Sauce:

  • 1 ½ ounces sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup carrot, grated

For Toppings:

  • Boiled peanuts, removed from shells
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • Lime wedge

Directions:

  • Microwave the packets of noodles for 1 minute to loosen noodles. Set aside.
  • Toss chopped chicken with barbecue sauce. Set aside.
  • Empty collard greens (including juice) into a wok over high heat on the stove.
  • Add onions to the wok and stir to combine, cooking for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add noodles and chicken to wok, stirring to heat thoroughly and combine.
  • After cooking for about 6-8 minutes, turn off heat and leave noodles on the stove.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and lime juice.
  • Then mix in brown sugar, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and grated carrot, whisking until brown sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Pour sauce over noodle mixture and stir to combine completely.
  • Refrigerate noodles for at least one hour to chill completely.
  • Top with boiled peanuts and chopped cucumber before serving.

 

 

 

 

Friday Favorites

It’s the last weekend in August. Whoa — summer is just flying by! I’m okay with it this year (not the norm for me), and the recent 68-degree mornings — where I’ve needed a light jacket on the way to and from Pure Barre — have been quite delightful. Bring on the boots and flannel, I say!

Kevin and I are looking forward to seeing his parents, who are coming in town from Southport, North Carolina, to spend the weekend with us. We love when Keith and Cathy are in town! That plus lots o’ Pure Barre is going to make up the bulk of my weekend. Oh, and a cookout with some friends! Good stuff, y’all.

While we collectively wait for the weekend to officially kick off, here are some things I’ve been loving of late:

  • Netflix’s series Stranger Things is the bomb. I know, I know. I’m late to the game. I was hesitant because I didn’t know if this would be my kind of show, but I should have known better after hearing so many people whose opinions I trust raving about it. Kevin and I are totally hooked (we’re still making our way through the season) and are so impressed with the show. I might even be El for Halloween. She’s amazing.

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  • I hadn’t made these blueberry streusel muffins in a while, but whipped up a batch for a friend with a new baby recently. They are GOOD, y’all. Definitely worth making.

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Hope everyone has an amazing weekend ahead!

Sunshine Ginger Blondies

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Y’all. I have a great new recipe to share. These blondies are light, just the right amount of sweet, and pack a delightful ginger punch. (If you don’t like ginger, this is NOT the right recipe for you!)

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I’ve told you guys about Sunshine in past posts (the wonderfully tasty ginger berry-flavored pick-me-up of good energy that my company makes), and I’ve shared a Sunshine cupcake recipe before, too (which is delicious, by the way).

This blondie recipe also incorporates Sunshine as an ingredient, further proving that Sunshine can be delicious in so many forms: straight from the can, as a cocktail mixer, in baked goods, and more.

(Also, if you’re not following Sunshine already on Instagram, you should totally do it. Shameless plug, yes, but also there are great cocktail recipes along with other awesome content on that channel. Go for it!)

Ingredients (for blondies)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Sunshine
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root

Ingredients (for glaze)

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons Sunshine
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
  • 15 finely crushed ginger snap cookies

Directions (for blondies)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9″x13″ pan or line the pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt.
  • Add the butter, eggs, Sunshine, ground ginger, and freshly grated ginger, beating until well blended.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes (until the blondies are light golden and firm to the touch).

Directions (for glaze)

  • While the blondies are baking, prepare the ginger glaze.
  • Combine powdered sugar, Sunshine, and grated ginger root together in a bowl, whisking until smooth.
  • Once the blondies are done baking, remove them from the oven and pierce the cake with a fork in several places.
  • Pour the glaze over the blondies, spreading it evenly.
  • Sprinkle crushed ginger snap cookies on top of the glaze.
  • Let the glaze set for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

 

Friday Favorites

Friday, Friday, FRIDAY! Man, it’s been a hot week. I’m ready for the weekend (which will be equally hot, but at least life will get to move a little slower). I’m also glad it’s Friday because it means I get to see Kevin for the first time in a week. He’s been in Las Vegas for a Fulton & Roark trade show since last Sunday and is flying back into Charlotte tonight. Wahoo! And then tomorrow night, we’re headed to dinner at The Katharine for a late birthday celebration (since he was out of town for my actual birthday last Sunday). I can’t wait to try that restaurant for dinner! Lots of fun things to look forward to, for sure.

Okay, on to this week’s Friday Favorites:

  • I recently learned about All Birds shoes, and would be interested to try them! They’re made of lightweight, breathable New Zealand merino wool, and are supposed to be moisture wicking, cool in warm weather, and warm in cold weather. And they’re cute!:

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  • Amidst all the Olympic coverage, seeing this 1980 Steve Martin diving video was perfectly timed. It’s SO funny. He’s SO funny. (Also — fun fact — we share a birthday! Happy belated birthday, Steve, and thanks for making this awesome video!):

  • I think these candles — made to smell like each state — are a brilliant idea, and would be the perfect gift item (especially for someone moving to a new state).

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  • I’ve been loving Asian dishes lately (I always love them, but have been even MORE into them of late), and so I can’t wait to give this soba noodle recipe a try. Doesn’t it look amazing? (Bethany: Up for another virtual cooking session?)

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Hope y’all have a fun weekend ahead! Stay cool out there…

Friday Favorites

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It’s Friday leading into my birthday weekend (my bday is on the 14th — this Sunday!). That makes this an extra fun weekend. Even more fun? My mom, sister, and I (who live in Atlanta, Columbia, and Winston-Salem, respectively) are meeting up in Charlotte tomorrow night for a Dixie Chicks concert. I can’t WAIT. Susan and I got my mom tickets to celebrate her birthday back in March, so we have been looking forward to being together for this show for several months. It’s just a bonus that it falls on my birthday weekend, too!

I hope you have lots of fun things planned, too. While we wait for the weekend to actually begin, though, here are this week’s Friday Favorites from Curiouser & Curiouser:

  • The Olympics have been the theme of every evening at Keller Manor this week. (We’ve kept the TV on at work, too, and so it’s been fun to keep up with events during the day as well.) Kevin and I come home and tune in to the day’s events (we don’t have cable, but have been impressed with NBC.com’s streaming and replays), constantly in awe of the talent these athletes possess. I love the inspiration the Olympics convey, and the pride in country. Frank Bruni’s New York Times op-ed piece, “The Olympics Make a Grown Man Cry,” was spot-on, as far as I’m concerned. They’ve been a welcome relief amidst this insane political season and our cynical lives in general. This piece is definitely worth a read.

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  • Last Friday night, my friend Bethany (who lives in Richmond) and I had a virtual dinner date. Y’all — it was SO much fun! We’d found this Bon Appétit recipe for Thai Drunken Noodles (one of my FAVORITE Thai dishes) and both wanted to make it. We realized it would be much more fun to make it together, and so we did just that! We FaceTimed as we prepped and made dinner, then sat down and ate “together” as well. It was awesome, and we can’t wait to do it again. It honestly felt like she was in the kitchen with me, which made me so very happy. (And these noodles? Uh, yeah. I’ll be making them again soon.)

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  • Did y’all know there was a stationary-themed subscription box? It’s called Papergang, and it sounds incredible. (That is, for those of us who love all things paper — think notebooks, gift cards, desk accessories, and more.)

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  • Last, but certainly not least, Tim Regan-Porter, who I met while interning at Paste Magazine back in 2010 (he was the president and CEO at Paste) is now the Director of Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism as well as the father to a 3-year-old daughter, Rose. He recently wrote this piece on raising a daughter, and the importance of language in the process. I just loved his perspective, and wanted to share it with y’all.

Happy weekending!

Slowing Down These Days

I read an interesting New York Times article recently about a woman who, in an effort to track how busy she REALLY was, began logging her time for a full year. The mother of four (all under age 8) found that, true, she kept busy, but she also had time to read, to work out, to sleep. She found she didn’t work as many hours as she thought she did (right around 40 per week).

“A life is lived in hours,” she writes. “What we do with our lives will be a function of how we spend those hours, and we get only so many.”

I found it interesting to think about a year in this way, especially against the backdrop of our crazy-busy society where people love to wear busyness and stress like a badge. And then, there’s more to it than the actual hours when you think about it. It’s your mindset during those hours, too. Did the article’s author feel that she was able to be present and mindful even in those non-hectic moments? I wonder.

The article reinforced how tired I’ve grown of the “I’m so busy!” mantra so many people have, and I’ve tried to pretty well eliminate it from my life. I mean, yeah, I get busy, but everyone is, right? I’m not impressed when people seem to be busy just to be able to say they’re busy. You should be busy — busy doing things you’ve committed to and are responsible for, balanced by things you enjoy and that enrich your life.

And the mindfulness thing, too. It’s so important, and easy to overlook. I used to feel like I had to have a crammed-full schedule, making the most of every moment and saying “yes” to everything and everyone. And not so much out of obligation, either, but more because I a.) didn’t want to feel left out and b.) genuinely wanted to do most of those things.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed a big shift in myself. I crave quiet and stillness in ways I haven’t historically. And I love it.

I love being still, not talking, and getting immersed in an activity that’s just for me (reading, baking, running, walking Fulton). Maybe that’s just part of getting older for some people? I find it interesting — and definitely new — but also remarkably peaceful and meditative.

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I don’t plan on tracking the next year based on how I spend each hour. I’m not too concerned about fitting it all in, making it all work, or having it all. I’m confident it will fall into place. And for some parts, I’ll be (happily) on the sidelines, and that’s okay. I love my more-quiet-lately life, and taking my foot off the gas (something that just seemed to happen on its own) has been quite freeing.

Have any of y’all noticed a similar natural slowing in your lives?