Where Should We Eat: Phoenix

Thanks so much to Kelli Shallal MPH, RD, owner of Hungry Hobby LLC for contributing to this week's Where Should We Eat post! Kelli lives in Phoenix, AZ and provides virtual and local one on one nutrition counseling. Kelli emphasizes a holistic view point and intuitive eating principles. You can find her at In addition she is also the author of her blog,  Hungry Hobby and where she shares healthy recipes, quick workouts as well as health tips.  Follow her on instagram, pinterest and facebook for more healthy living tips and continue reading to check out her Phoenix recs!

Serranos (Multiple Locations) | $$

Serranos is a family owned Mexican Food Arizona-only chain of restaurants in the valley.  It is actually where we had our wedding reception at and our go to spot for Mexican food. While they have all the traditional Mexican food dishes there you could want, they also have a few lighter options that are still packed full of flavor.  My favorite “lighter option” is their shrimp fajitas packed with flavor, grilled veggies and big juicy shrimp, delicious!

Hillside Spot Café (Phoenix, Arizona) | $$

This little gem has a wonderful indie feel, a super laid back atmosphere, and amazing food.  We’ve eaten there for breakfast and lunch and they never disappoint. In the morning there is a great full service coffee bar as well as fresh squeezed orange juice.  In the afternoon they have everything on tap from local brews to imports, plus wine and delicious eats.  

One awesome thing about their menu is they serve breakfast all day with lunch/dinner starting at 11am.  My favorite healthy option is the farmers omelet PACKED full of veggies like you’ve never seen and served with fruit or toast. However, they are known for their delicious Croque Madame which is huge piece of artisan bread topped with shaved ham and melty cheese.  Optional to top with a fried egg for the ultimate breakfast. 

Perfect Pear (Phoenix, Arizona) | $$

Two locations one in the Phoenix-Tempe border and the other found in Ahwatukee foothills.  We found the service to be a bit better in the Phoenix location than the Ahwatukee location but the food is delicious at either.  We love their sweet potato fries as an appetizer, they have the best seasoning and dipping sauce!

Top Pick: Fall Harvest Salad with Salmon.  This salad is piled high with so many good toppings you will forget it is even salad.  Complete with butternut squash, quinoa, bacon, and candied walnuts over a huge bed of lettuce be prepared for leftovers!

The Orginal Burrito Co.  (Phoenix, Arizona) | $

So many mornings we spent going on Burrito Co “runs” for epic breakfast burritos.  It’s a drive through but they have tons of healthy customizable options like whole wheat tortillas and egg whites.  Their breakfast burritos are delicious but so are their lunch/dinner options like their shrimp burritos.  If you are in the Phoenix/Tempe area and need a quick meal definitely give this place a shot!  

Four Peaks Brewery (Tempe, Arizona) | $$

 If you want a delicious hand crafted burger with a local brew then this is place to go.  Four Peaks, located in the heart of Tempe where the Arizona State University Sun Devils mark their territory, is known for it’s fun atmosphere and delicious food.  The brew is coveted by locals and sold at many establishments in the valley, however it’s always the best right from the source.   They have tons of epic burgers, sandwiches and salads to chose from, you really can’t go wrong with any of their cold brews and chews.  

Joe’s Farm Grill(Gilbert, Arizona) | $$

If you are venturing out into the East Valley then you absolutely cannot miss Arizona’s tribute to the popular show Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.  If you think you wouldn’t eat at a place like that, think again.  Located on a huge farm, everything that is grown on the farm goes to the restaurant so this isn’t your typical diner.  While they have the traditional food like burgers and pizza they also have unique farm fresh menu items such as Seared Ahi Tuna Salads, date shakes and beet salads.  It’s definitely worth your time to check it out! 

Duck and Decanter (Phoenix, Arizona) | $

My family has been going to this local sandwich shop centrally own and operated for years.  In addition to wonderful salads and sandwiches they also have a fully stocked wine and beer bar.  They have tons of open seating both inside the eclectic old building which stands on it’s own among the just built stucco buildings and parking garage, or outside for picnic.  You could spend hours browsing their tea and coffee selections as well as other fun items in their store.  Or, grab a glass of pinot and listen to the live entertainment on the weekends.  Well known to the locals you’ll be sure to enjoy delicious food and great entertainment if you stop in.  I like to build my own salad or build my own sandwich but my family loves all their menu options as well.   

Postinos (Phoenix & Gilbert Locations) | $$

Postinos is one of the most popular wine bar locations in Arizona.  Happy hour is almost always packed with groups of people enjoying appetizers and drinks seated on couches and other trendy seating arrangements.  Unlike other trendy spots though, the food is just as good as the atmosphere.  Make sure to try one of their flatbreads and you won’t be disappointed!  

Roaring Fork (Phoenix/Scottsdale) $$$

Located on the border of Scottsdale and Phoenix right outside of Scottsdale Fashion Square this place is a hidden gem.  Thanks to yelp I celebrated my birthday there and it did not disappoint.  Pricing is a bit higher than other recommendations on this list but every penny worth it, especially for a special occasion. The atmosphere was upscale but laid back. The menu items were fresh with minimal ingredients and absolutely divine. Lamb skewers are at the top of my list to get again!

Did we miss a spot? If you're a Phoenix native or a frequent flyer, let us know your favorite spot to eat in the comments below!

Caramelized Onion, Sweet Potato, and Goat Cheese Frittata

I cannot believe this is the FIRST time I am posting this. If you've ever come to my house for any meal at all, I without fail will make something with this combination: caramelized onion, sweet potato, greens, and goat cheese. I've put it this on pizza, in tacos, and even layered it carefully into some sort of noodle-less lasagna.

I discovered this winning combination quite a few years ago at Emma's, a small Italian Pizzeria in Cambridge, MA. They had a sweet potato pizza with goat cheese that I just had to recreate. I've probably made it 30 times since then, and never once paused to take a proper photo.

This frittata is SO easy to make, plus it makes 4-8 servings (depending on what else you're serving and how hungry you are), so you can serve it at a party or save it to have for a quick breakfast throughout the week. Check out the recipe below.

Caramelized Onion, Sweet Potato, and Goat Cheese Frittata

  • 2 cups sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups greens of your choice (arugula, kale, spinach)
  • 1-2 onions, sliced into half moons
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Using a basket steamer steam sweet potato until tender. Tip: If you don't have a basket steamer you can use a pasta strainer placed over a boiling pot of water. 

Meanwhile, place a large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, throw in onions and a dash of salt. Toss them around until browned, adding a few splashes of water if they start to stick to the pan. Tip: the salt should draw enough water from the onions that you don't need to use butter or oil. 

Place the cooked sweet potatoes, onions, and greens in a bowl and rinse out and spray the pan you used for the onions and place over medium heat. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and add a dash of salt and pepper. Stir in the vegetables and pour into the pan. Top with goat cheese.

Cook until the edges are cooked, and then place in the oven under a low broil. Watch this carefully as every oven is different! Keep in there until the top is cooked, and the cheese is slightly browned. Remove and cut into 8 pieces to enjoy!

Having a go-to is so great for last-minute meals (especially when company is involved). Let me know yours in the comments below!


Make Ahead Meal: Egg Muffins

There is something about that bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast that is so wildly satisfying. I rarely make it myself because it takes a bit more time and cleanup then my typical smoothie or oatmeal, but then I came across a few of these "egg muffin" recipes and knew that I had found my solution: bacon, egg, and cheese muffins, with a a hash brown crust of course. Since I absolutely despise cooking bacon (nope, sorry, there is no non-greasy, messy way to do it), I decided to substitute with bacon's close cousin, prosciutto. The flavor is just as good and the cleanup is 10x easier. 

They're so simple to make, and last the whole week as a heat-and-eat breakfast option. Plus, they only dirty ONE dish! Check out the recipe below. 

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Muffins (with a Hash Brown Crust)

  • 12 eggs
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 5 cups potato, shredded (or, 1, 15 ounce bag frozen hash browns, no salt added)
  • 1 large handful baby arugula
  • 6 slices proscuitto or Serrano ham (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mix together cheese and potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a non-stick muffin tin, take the mixture and mold it to make a crust in each cup, pressing down firmly with your fingers. Place in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop up the proscuitto or ham, leaving about 1/2 slice for each muffin. When the crust is baked, place a small bunch of arugula in each cup, pressing it down to make room for the eggs. Then, add an egg to each muffin tin. Top with proscuitto or ham and bake an additional 10 minutes (or longer if you like your eggs well-done). Refrigerate and store for an easy breakfast. 


The Power of the Acai Bowl


I know... I think I'm a little late on the Acai trend (it's pronounced, Ah-ss-eye-ee), but this has been my go-to breakfast for quite a few weeks now. It's immensely satisfying (keeps me full until lunch) and nice and cooling for the last of these summer days.  It only take a few minutes to whip up, and you can get really creative with toppings and different flavors. 

Acai is a berry that's native to Central and South America. Its loaded with antioxidants, which is one of the reasons I've been indulging so frequently. With the turn of the season, I'm usually prone to getting sick just about now, so I'm taking as much precaution as possible by loading up on antioxidant-rich foods (leafy greens, hemp and flax seeds, and rich colored fruits) and keeping consistent with my probiotic and essential oil habit. I'll be sharing some more immune boosting tips in an upcoming podcast episode of At The Table, but for today, I'm sharing my favorite immune boosting Acai Bowl combination. 

Acai Bowl

  • 1 package Sambazon Acai Packets (look for no sugar added)
  • 1 small banana or 1/2 large banana (frozen is best, but fresh works too)
  • 5-6 frozen strawberries
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter (almond butter works too)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add extra almond milk to desired consistency. Top with toppings of choice. I use 1/4 cup blueberries and 1 tbsp hemp seeds. 


Guide to Buy: Yogurt

So many times I get these types of questions:

"What do you think about yogurt?"

"What kinds of protein powder should I use?"

"Should I use almond butter, or peanut butter?"

While I always encourage people to look at the BIG picture, having worked in the food and grocery industry for a few years, I feel confident in saying not all products are created equally. So this week intern, Alix put together the first Guide to Buy featuring Yogurt! Make sure to scroll on down to see our list of guidelines along with our top 4 picks for yogurts, plus, grab Alix's recipe for Pickle Dip! Let's start with a little Q/A...

Yogurt FAQs

What is “Greek” yogurt?

Greek yogurt differs from regular yogurt in that before greek yogurt is packaged for the shelf, the yogurt it strained to remove the liquid remaining after the milk curdles (this is called whey). The by-product is a yogurt that is more solidified, and has less sugar and carbohydrates. However, the FDA still does not have specific regulations for greek yogurt. Companies can add extra ingredients and include additives of their choice and still call their product “greek yogurt.” Any “whey concentrates” or added thickeners like cornstarch are added into the yogurt after it’s strained. Greek yogurt is always strained to achieve its consistency, and sometimes yogurt with added ingredients skips the straining process, which means it isn’t real  greek yogurt.

Is Greek yogurt is better for you?

Greek yogurt, as compared to a regular yogurt or a whipped, light yogurt, is thicker and more nutrient dense. Because of this, I recommend plain greek yogurt as your first choice in yogurt, simply because if you choose the right kind, it’s more natural and pure. You have less added sugars and preservatives to worry about, and 8 oz of greek yogurt provides you with a hefty portion of your protein needs for the day.

What is grass milk and why is it in yogurt?

No, grass milk is not what happens when you juice grass (I’ve heard it all). Grass milk is a non-homogenized milk that comes from cows that are 100% grass-fed, as opposed to supplemented for growth with soybeans and grains. If you think about it, the more processed a cow's diet, the more processed the milk product. Since cow's thrive on a grass-fed diet, both the milk and meat of grass-fed cows have been shown to have healthier nutrient profiles and contain a higher proportion of healthy (Omega-3) fats.

What yogurts are made without bovine growth hormone?

Bovine growth hormone (usually seen as rBGH) is a hormone given to cows in order for them to produce more milk. And guess what? The hormone also get’s secreted in the cow’s milk. And then we drink it. Fun, right? No.

Luckily, there is a movement today to encourage leader yogurt retailers to definitively stop using bovine growth hormone in their products. Most organic companies, state that they do not use bovine growth hormone (like all of the recommendations below).. Chobani is the leading greek yogurt provider right now, and they have not yet confirmed or denied their use of the hormone. Bottom line: our hormones are already out-of-wack enough as it is - don’t make it worse. Stick with the hormone-free yogurts!

What to consider when choosing a yogurt:

  1. Probiotic Content: We know and have heard that yogurt gets its characteristics from the live bacteria inside the container. We have heard that probiotics “regulate your system” and do a lot for your body when it comes to maintaining health. The truth is, not all yogurts have beneficial bacteria, and the farther they stray away from this key component, the less we should consider them REAL yogurt that has the actual benefits that we hear so much about.  When looking to assess probiotic contributions, look at the label for the following two bacteria:  Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These are the only two bacteria you need to ferment milk, which is ALL yogurt is! A laundry list of ingredients will contain additives and extra sugary substances (note: be on alert for anything that ends in “ose”).
  2. Check the Ingredients: Look for yogurts that have no added sugar. That means looking at the ingredient list (as milk has naturally occurring sugars that you can’t get rid of). Then, check the nutrition facts label and check out the protein content. If you’re using yogurt as a meal replacement (on-the-go breakfast or lunch) the higher protein content will keep you fuller, longer.
  3. Expiration Date: This may seem like a no brainer, but this recommendation is NOT what you think! In order to keep from going sour, the yogurt that is shelf stable for long periods of time has been properly heat treated. This means that there are no viable cultures in the yogurt at this point in time. There might have been prior to heat treating, but in order to reap any probiotic benefits, keep with yogurt that expire sooner rather than later (seriously).
  4. DIY “Fruit Yogurt.” If you’re going to grab a fruit-filled yogurt on-the-go, try to find one that contains REAL fruit. This is usually hard to find. If the container doesn’t specify real fruit, it probably contains additives, flavors and dyes that make you think the real thing is in there. Secondly, any dessert looking yogurt (i.e. key lime pie, tiramisu, dutch chocolate….you get the picture) that advertises low or non-fat contents is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. All they do is subtract that fat in order to add more sugar. In this case you have two choices: grab a yogurt from the list below OR just go enjoy some real dessert!
  5. Get FAT: Yogurt can have many benefits, but if you’ve worked with me before, you know that I encourage going full-fat in smaller quantities versus low-fat in higher quantities. Full-fat versions are (generally) less processed, and let’s face it, they taste much butter. Make your serving count!

Below are four recommendations for yogurts that fit the bill. If you have a brand you like and it passes all of the above tests, stick with it! Otherwise, try to take a leap of faith and transition to one of these and remember, add your own toppings. Be free yogurt eaters!

You can also use yogurt as substitutes or bases for other ingredients or recipes. Try it as:

  • A substitute for sour cream or mayonnaise.
  • A substitute for cream in soups. (check out my Summer Corn Chowder recipe!)
  • A base for dips (like the recipe below!).
  • A supplement to smoothies for creamy texture and protein.
  • A base for salad dressings.

Pickle Dip

  • 16 oz Stonyfield Greek yogurt
  • 1 container of regular or spicy dill pickle spears
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Garlic Powder
  • Chives
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Plantain Chips

Pour the yogurt into a bowl. Chop 4-6 pickle spears, as fine or chunky as you prefer. Remove the peels and chop the garlic cloves. Chop the chives finely, removing the roots and the leafy ends. Add the pickles and the garlic to the greek yogurt. Pour liquid from the pickle jar into the yogurt to achieve the consistency of your choice.  Add garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.

Use plantain chips over regular potato chips!


Mix & Match Chia Bowl

Breakfast is my jam. I look forward to fueling my day with a hearty breakfast every morning and while I just looove my go-to oatmeal, all of the fresh fruit available now has inspired me to mix it up with some chia pudding.  Chia seeds are one of life's greatest mysteries. They can be used to make chia pets, or soaked in liquid to create a jelly or pudding as they swell up to 11x their original size by absorbing liquid. 

I posted a recipe for Chai Chia Pudding a few months back (delicious), but this one is even more simple, and doesn't require a blender. I've paired it with blackberries, and Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola, but you can use any fruit, and any crunchy topping that you like! I like this granola brand in particular because it has loads to clusters, is all natural, and is very low in sugar. 

Other variations may include:


Chia Pudding

Makes 2 Servings

  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash of cinnamon

In a medium size mixing bowl pour almond milk. Start whisking and add in chia seeds one at a time until well blended. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Let sit for 30 minutes or longer. Tip: Make a large batch ahead of time and have some ready on hand for a quick breakfast. 

What's your favorite way to fuel your day?

Cinnamon Raisin French Toast

One of my breakfast staples is a sprouted grain bread by Food For Life. It's made with 6 different kinds of sprouted grains and beans, high in fiber, and (at least for me) easy to digest. All the things I need to keep me fueled until my next meal. Typically I'll get the "original" version, but lately I've been really into the cinnamon raisin variety. Usually I'll toast it up and enjoy it with some peanut butter and banana (you really can't go wrong with that) or with some avocado and soft-boiled eggs. But the other morning I was looking to spice things up.   I had some eggs, and ricotta cheese leftover from some baked eggplant parm I made the night before (once I perfect that recipe I will post it!), so I decided to whip up some easy cinnamon raisin french toast. Now I know this sounds like a big ordeal, but it honestly took no more effort than toasting some bread and scrambling some eggs. Here is my recipe for Cinnamon Raisin French Toast!

Cinnamon Raisin French Toast

Make sure the bread is thawed.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and place the bread to soak. Heat a pan on medium-high heat and melt coconut oil inside. When each piece of bread is saturated with egg, place in the pan and let cook about 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.  

Plate and top with ricotta, fruit, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Enjoy every last friggen' bite!

Why Breakfast Is NOT the Most Important Meal of the Day

If I asked 10 people right now what the most important meal of the day is - I bet most, if not all of them would say BREAKFAST. In my opinion breakfast is the most delicious meal of the day - but not the most important.  Why? A few reasons.

1. Every meal and snack you eat is important. Your body is constantly burning calories to think and move throughout the day, so all meals and snacks are going to be equally important!

2. It's more important to be mindful of your hunger and fullness cues than to force feed yourself at breakfast. If you're not hungry in the morning, don't eat! Just make sure you have a well-balanced breakfast or snack with plenty of protein (~15-20 grams) ready for you when you are ready to eat something.

3. 24 hours is 24 hours. Yes, what you eat for breakfast can affect your hunger and energy levels later in the day, but so can what you have for dinner the night before.

Now - enjoy this typical breakfast recipe that can be eaten at any time of the day. This is one of the easiest pancake recipes ever, which is why I took a few extra minutes to make them even more fabulous by adding some coconut lemon cream. It’s so quick and filling that I even have time to make them fast in the morning before I run out the door to work. If the idea of that does not sit well with you – fear not. You can also cook up a large batch of these puppies and freeze them. Then, just pop them in the toaster oven to enjoy.

Banana Oat Pancakes (Makes 2)

  • 1 packet quick cooking oats (or ½ cup rolled oats, slightly chopped in food processor)
  • ½ ripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 T ground flax (optional)

Place banana, egg, baking powder, and flax in blender and blend until smooth. Add to quick cooking oats and stir until well combined.

Place pan over medium heat. Spray with non-stick spray or spread a tiny bit of coconut oil on the pan. Pour batter to form 2 medium pancakes. Flip when slightly browned on one side. Plate and top with lemon cream and blueberries

Lemon Coconut Cream (Serves about 2)

  • Zest & juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut butter

Stir all ingredients in a bowl until well combined and enjoy!

Cherry Gar-Chia Smoothie

Cherry Gar-Chia Smoothie (or Popsicle!) Makes 2 servings

  • 1 cup frozen cherries*
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup cold water (*if you only have fresh cherries, sub ice for water)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (these add healthy fat and protein, to balance out the sugar in the cherries and chocolate)
  • 1 tbsp dark chocolate (I used Pure 7 Honey Sweetened Chocolate)

Place ingredients in blender, blend until smooth. Now, you're choice: you can enjoy pour into popsicle molds, freeze, and enjoy later. This recipe makes about 4 popsicle molds.

Now PLEASE tell me you're ready to give up the fake dessert substitutions and indulge in something REAL?