Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gettin' Over the Hump: Red Meat

One of Hub's New Year's resolutions was to give up red meat and I'm really happy for him. And I didn't put him up to it either, I was surprised when he came out with it - "I'm giving up red meat!" Although we never eat meat at home, Hub would eat red meat at restaurants and it's easily done here in Rio. Often times when we go out, we'll end up at a traditional Brazilian restaurant and people want to order picanha steak which is always to share. I think this is an amazing step for his health and if you are interested in giving up the cow, here are few good reasons why.

Eating red meat causes inflammation in the body and a chronically inflamed body is the perfect environment for cancer.

Farmers fatten up cows with hormones - usually estrogen - and we're still not sure if it's 100% safe, but the research so far is kind of worrying.

When we think of Type 2 diabetes we automatically think sugar, but eating too much red meat increases our risk for the disease too.

A great slide show with 10 Reasons to Quit Red Meat.

If you can't give up red meat then it seems like grass-fed organic is the best way to go, but be prepared for a hefty price tag.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Gettin' Over the Hump: The Big 33

So I turned 33 a few weeks ago. Gosh, where did the time go? I can still clearly remember the days of frolicking around NYC with my best friend Jess in tow and wondering what life would be like in our 30s. Sometimes I still feel like I'm in my 20s, but my body on the other hand...definitely 30s.

I can no longer stay up partying till 4am and be fully functioning at work the next day. God that was amazing. To be honest I can barely keep my eyes open past midnight, unless there's 80's music to dance to. I've also noticed that I can no longer stay fit with cardio alone, as I did in my 20s. I used to be able to burn off an indulgent night out easily, but now it's getting a little bit harder. Our bodies start to really change as we approach our mid-30s and we can no longer pull off the shenanigans we did at 21. So I did a bit of research for us ladies in our 30s and here's the 411:

Which slows down our metabolism making it easier for us to put on the timber. F&*K.

Stamina also begins to decline, which is why I can no longer run as long as I used too.

But don't worry, not all is lost! By incorporating strength training into our workouts, we can rev up our calorie-burning metabolism and look good.

A few tips on simple changes we can start today!

(Picture of me at the tender age of 21)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Working in Rio

Working in Rio has been an interesting experience so far. I'm a chefe de fila or junior manager for a restaurant/bar at a posh hotel in Copacabana. It has been exhausting not only because I'm on my feet all day, but the work week in the service industry in Brazil is 6 days a week. After being a lady of leisure for a year this takes time getting used to and one day off a week is not enough rest. 

Part of my job involves managing schedules and vacations for my team and that has been truly eye-opening. What's impressive is that in Brazil employees get 30 vacation days, 30 sick days and about 25 public holidays per year. It sounds wonderful, especially compared to the US and UK, but it can be problematic at times. It's nice to know that I'm compensated when I'm sick here, whereas in all my previous restaurant jobs I didn't get paid if I didn't come to work. However, I do get the impression that people take the piss and abuse their sick days in this industry. On one hand they are there for the taking, but when you know people call in sick and aren't sick it disrupts the whole team. There is one catch though - in order to get compensated for your sick day you have to provide a doctor's note. I've never had to do that before and I hate going to the doctors.

It's also very difficult to motivate a bad employee. In Brazil if you want to dismiss someone for whatever reason, you have to pay 6 months salary compensation. Can you believe that! So apparently companies avoid letting go staff at all costs and employees know that they can get away with a lot of shit, especially in the industry I'm in. What's also challenging is that most of the people I work with aren't really into food or the restaurant industry. It's a stark contrast to my experience in New York and London, where people had to consistently perform well to keep jobs but there was also a kind of foody passion within the team. I really miss that.

I'm also aware that salaries and culture play huge factors. My income pales in comparison to London, but the cost of living here is really high. I make about a third of what I was making in my last job, but our rent is just slightly below what we were paying in Hackney. Also Rio's food culture is centered around butecos, dive bars and street food. I feel like the growing restaurant culture here is driven by the small percentage of gringoes like me and affluent Brazilians. 

On the positive side everyone at the hotel has been so welcoming and my Portuguese is really improving. I've noticed that I'm translating less in my head and able to speak more fluidly and naturally. Next week is the beginning of Carnaval, so that should be interesting. I'll let you know how working that goes.

Monday, February 2, 2015


I recently came across Australian fitness trainer Kayla Itsines Instagram feed and saw this post and felt totally motivated by it. When we flew back to Rio I planned to get into healthy mode and wanted to eat clean and stay off the booze until my birthday. However, that motivation kind of fizzled out after about a week and personally I don't feel like I've bounced back from the holidays. That's why I love this message, it's exactly what I needed to hear.

To be fair though January was a busy month with a new full-time job, a new puppy and we were hosting a few visitors. I've been trying to find a new balance with all these changes and now February is a new month. I look forward to sharing more about George, about working in Rio and our journey towards health living. Stay tuned.


(image taken from here)

Monday, January 19, 2015

George the Incredible Pug

Having George in our lives has surpassed my expectations. For the longest time I was dreaming of getting a dog and annoyingly stopping any stranger with a cute dog. Now I'm finally on the receiving end of stranger admiration, but I don't mind because it's nice that people are so taken away with George and of course, it's good socialization.

first ride home

I'm up to my eyeballs in puppy training and I find myself obsessively stressing out about it. Is this normal? As soon as George is up I'm already thinking about watching him at all times, is he doing a "I gotta pee/poo" sniff, feeding him at exactly the same times and then repeat. It's exhausting.

Having said all that, Hub and I are in love. It's incredible how this tiny little creature has brought so much joy into our life. I love how he goes into submission for a belly rub.


I love that he loves cuddles and kisses and yes I kiss my dog.

We basically love watching him sleep and have lots of photos of him just sleeping.

George gets his final vaccinations this week and we are so looking forward to taking him on his first walk and of course, outdoor potty training!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Welcome to Nashville

Hub's sister moved to Nashville, almost around the same time we moved to Rio, and she invited us down to celebrate Christmas. Although I grew up in Northern Virginia, I've never been south of the Mason-Dixon line so I was pretty stoked to see Nashville. There were three things on my to do list - live music, BBQ sauce, bourbon. We ticked all those boxes and then some. Welcome to Nashville. 

Nashville is experiencing a kind of Renaissance and cool independent shops and restaurants are popping up. It's kind of like the hipster movement that hit Williamsburg, but without the pretentiousness and with great Southern charm. On our first day we hit Pinewood Social for lunch where we nibbled on fried green tomatoes and smoked trout dip and I had a lovely Dr. Loosen Riesling

My sis-in-law Abi lives in a cute little area called Five Points and we hit up the local crafts market for some Christmas stocking fillers.

Brazil is one of the largest exporters of bad ass coffee, unfortunately there isn't a single coffee shop in Rio selling brilliant Brazilian roast. True story, so I was pretty excited when Abi mentioned that Barista Parlor served amazing international brew. I can't begin to describe or explain why my latte made from Salvadorian beans was incredible, but it was.

And while I downed my latte, I sat admiring Abi's buttermilk biscuit brekkie.

Later that day we hit up the best of BBQ in Nashville - Martin's bar-b-que joint. This place was a real locals joint and the corn bread was delicious.

Hub's dry rub ribs

We spent Christmas day holed up at Abi's and nursing some serious hangovers from the night before. Hub and Abi dined on some turkey, while I loaded up on heirloom carrots and roasted potatoes British style. 

The following day we drove out to this little village called Leiper's Fork, a popular destination spot outside Nashville. We drove through some gorgeous country side and passed some amazing stately homes, which I was trying desperately to capture with no such luck. Once we reached the town it was like a Hollywood studio set, just charming.

We had lunch at this crazy little diner that looked like Christmas and Mardi Gras blew 
up inside.

Our Nashville trip wouldn't be complete without a Honky Tonk, live country music bars where bands play for tips all day everyday. We hit up Robert's Western World, which is one of the best in town.


Nashville has some great veggie restaurants and on our last night we hit up the The Wild Cow. The vegan buffalo nachos and taco sampler were insanely good.

Nashville - you kept our bellies full and our minds entertained. We will be back!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Home for the Holidays

I've been home for nearly a month and we've been traveling up and down the East coast with my family. We had great pre-Christmas celebrations in Delaware and Virginia and here are few pictures from the trip.

My family has a summer home in Rehoboth, Delaware which is a sweet little beach town with tons of designer outlets. We decided to take advantage of the sales and squeeze in some R&R.

My Tia Norman raved about this Mexican restaurant in nearby Lewes called Agave and it was one of the best I've been to. Needless to say I broke my diet and devoured these cheesy nachos. And although I didn't eat the meat and chicken dishes, they did look damn good.

Afterwards we went shopping which was a success.

Our final night was spent touring the town and walking down Penny Lane towards dinner.

We grabbed amazing grub at the Henlopen City Oyster House where Hub had the "best pulled pork sandwich ever." I had a delicious beetroot salad with spiced candied almonds. Yum.


It's family tradition to always end Rehoboth with brekkie at hillbilly trucker spot Cracker Barrel

When we got to VA we caught up with our dear friends Annie and Josh who recently moved back to the US. Annie is the talented chef from that fantastic curry night in Rio. We went to Izakaya Daikaya in Chinatown which serves an interesting mix of creatively textured Japanese tapas.


Back at my Mom's house we relaxed, cooked and played with Luna, the cutest Yorkie ever.

Pre-Christmas with the fam was fantastic. Next stop was Nashville, Tennessee so stay tuned for Honky Tonks and BBQ sauce.

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