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 www.hungryhobbyrd.com. 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!

Mini Portobello Pizzas

My original goal for this blog post was to provide ya'll with a delicious, hearty, cheesy alternative to pizza. Now, my only goal is to settle this debate:

A few months ago we started a weekly tradition: Pizza Sundays. On Sundays, we make pizza... and then decide who's tastes best. I hate to brag, but I often win this competition. One week, I made a pizza with ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, roasted mushrooms, garlic chicken sausage, and loads of basil. It was perfection, and everyone agreed. 

While delicious, this pizza isn't something I'd recommend making on the daily. So, I decided to find a way to lighten it up without sacrificing the most flavorful ingredients. So, I ditched the crust and instead of using the mushrooms on top of the pizza, I put them on the bottom. When I told Jake about this genius idea he said "Sounds good. But doesn't sound like a pizza." 

 But they look like little pizzas! And they're inspired by a pizza I made! So, pizza? Or not? Settle our debate in the comments below. Then, go make these Mini Portobello Pizzas!

Mini Portobello Pizzas

  • 6 Portobello Mushrooms, stems removed, and bottoms cleaned.

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese

  • 1/4 cup parmesan

  • 10 pieces fresh mozzarella (the small "Ciliegine" cherry-sized mozzarella is best), halved

  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped

  • 2 fresh, garlic herb chicken sausages, casing removed.

Preheat oven to 425F. On a parchment lined baking sheet, place mushrooms bottom side up. Place in oven 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Pat with paper towel to make sure they are dry.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, over medium heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil and the chicken sausage. Cook until browned. 

Mix together ricotta, parmesan, and half the basil. With the mushrooms facing bottom-side-up, add the ricotta mixture evenly over each one. Then add a few pieces of sausage, and mozzarella on top. Place back in oven for 5-10 minutes (until mozzarella is melted). Top with remaining basil and enjoy!

Kitchari - Immune Boosting Recipe

Last year when I met with Jill Talve, an Ayurvedic Practitioner (check out our recent interview), she told me about this amazing Ayurvedic recipe called Kitchari (also spelled, kitcheree) to help support digestion and boost immune function.  The turmeric and ginger in this recipe are potent antioxidants and the mung daal and rice are easy to digest. Plus, it's so simple to make and insanely delicious.

To get you super excited about this recipe, my friend Sarah let me come make a mess of her kitchen and helped me take some of these fabulous photos. She's a quite literally a jack of all trades; an amazing chiropractor, cook, craftsman, and photographer. Enjoy!

Photo by Sarah Granite

Photo by Sarah Granite

Photo by Sarah Granite

Photo by Sarah Granite

Photo By Sarah Granite 

Photo By Sarah Granite 

Basic Kitchari

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1⁄2 cup mung dal
  • 1 tablespoon kitchari spice mix
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup radishes, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt

Wash rice and mung dal and soak overnight. Drain soak water.

In a medium saucepan on low heat warm the ghee, be careful as this burns easily. Add the kitchari spice mixture and sauté for one to two minutes. Add rice, mung beans, and salt and sauté for another couple of minutes. Then add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add additional salt, if needed. 

Once the kitchari has come to a boil reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until it is tender (approx. 30-45 minutes).

Turn the heat off, then add radishes and cilantro. Salt to taste. Pour into bowls and top with additional radish and cilantro for garnish. 

If you're not sure where to grab these items, take the lazy way, like I did, and buy the Kitchari Making Kit from Banyan Botanicals

A big thank you to Sarah Granite of Granite Chiropractic for helping me take these amazing photos!

Farro Salad

Move over pasta salad, this light, but hearty dish takes the cake. Bursting with the summer flavors of basil and cherry this salad can serve as a main dish or a side to your grilled favorites.  This dish is my 'ode to the end of summer... I hope you enjoy!


Serves 4

  • 1 cup farro, dried
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup cherries, pitted
  • 1 cup basil, chopped
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 tbsp greek yogurt (optional)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, OR balsamic reduction

In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. Add farro and let simmer 30-45 until water is soaked up. Meanwhile, mix together mustard, lemon, and optional yogurt.

After farro has cooled pour dressing over the farro, then mix in basil, arugula, and cherries. top with balsamic to enjoy!


Blood Orange Broccoli

Broccoli has never been one of my favorite vegetables, but lately I've found myself craving it. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little... I usually crave cookies. But when I'm thinking about what vegetables to eat with dinner, broccoli has been on my mind! So when I went to the grocery store I did a little trolling around for something to liven it up a little. Since the change of seasons this time of year tends to make me a little more prone to getting sick, I decided to jump for the citrus fruits. Bright and delicious, but also high in vitamin C. I picked up some lemon and my new favorite - blood oranges (in season and on sale most places now)!

Blood Orange Broccoli

  • 1-2 heads broccoli, broken into florets (you can keep or lose the stems)
  • 2 blood oranges ; 1 peeled and chopped, 1 juiced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

Preheat oven to 425 F. In a medium pot, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Place broccoli in a basket steamer (or colander) and place in the pot with water. Let steam for 5 minutes. 

Place the broccoli in a bowl and add the chopped blood orange, the juice of the other blood orange, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss until well coated. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice and ginger with the greek yogurt. Plate the broccoli and dip in yogurt to enjoy!

Red Lentil Dahl Soup

Ever make a recipe and then forget about it? That's what happened to me with this soup. I made this a looong time ago, thought it was one of the most delicious things I ever made, and then POOF erased it from my memory. I'm not sure why but I am sure glad that this soup is back in my life. Even though I can hardly contain my excitement for winter coming to an end - I am going to miss these hearty soups, so let's have one last hurrah! One thing you'll notice is that I made this stew without oil. Now, you can certainly use oil or butter, but if you're trying to cut back, check out my tip below for sautéing onions without oil.  

Red Lentil Dahl Stew

  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or substitute with a Soup Starter)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1, 28 ounce can whole plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeño, seeded and chopped 

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add onions and stir continuously. With a higher heat, the onions will contract, and release a lot of water, which will prevent them from sticking. If they start to stick, add a small amount of vegetable broth (only about 1 tsp at a time). Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, and jalapeño, and sauté, continuing to add small amounts of vegetable broth if necessary.  

Add the lentils, broth, and tomatoes. Cook 30-45 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Fall Comfort Foods: Butternut Squash & Barley Bowl

Fall is upon us which means its time for hearty, warming comfort foods! I don't know about everyone on the west coast, but here in New England, when Fall roles around I go into full blown hibernation mode. I cook cozy dinners, live under my yellow blanket, and wear lots of scarves.

Here's a delicious dinner I came up with last week and it was just the heartiest, most satisfying fall meal. The best part? I made a HUGE batch and ate it for lunch throughout the week with a side of rotisserie chicken.

Butternut Squash & Barley Bowl

  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 1 small butternut squash, halved length wise
  • 1 head purple kale, deveined and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped sage
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled sheep's milk feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Preheat oven to 400 F.  On a parchment lined baking sheet, place squash cut side down.  Bake for 45 minutes or until fork tender.

Meanwhile, bring 3 cups water to a boil, add barley and simmer until all of the water is absorbed.  When the squash is finished, peel off the skin, scoop out the seeds, and roughly cube (tip: its MUCH easier to peel and scoop out the seeds of a cooked squash).  Stir in with cooked barley, kale, parsley, sage, olive oil, and feta. Top with pepitas and enjoy (tip: only add pepitas when ready to serve to preserve the crunchiness). Salt and pepper to taste.

What is your favorite fall comfort food?