Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Best Healthy Places To Eat In Charlotte

It's 11:25AM and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel... lunch time! You have exactly one hour to walk somewhere, grab lunch, eat it, and get back to the office - but for some reason you're drawing a serious blank on where to go. Think Vanessa, think! This was me the entire year prior to my wedding. I worked in corporate America in Uptown, where part of my job was to take clients to lunch This could easily end up demolishing my entire days worth of calories in one sitting if I wasn't strategic, and so my master list of healthy food options in the city was born.  

I keep a list of all my favorite healthy eats around the city in a note on my phone. Whenever I'm in a bind on where to go, I just refer back to it and pick a place. It has totally changed the game for me when it comes to staying on track without giving up the freedom to eat out. 

Please note, I am not a nutritionist or dietitian - these are just places that I have found to have healthier options to choose from. I am not scared to ask questions about ingredients, or remove ingredients from a dish in the name of making it healthier which you will find in my recommendations below. 

Favorite Healthy Juice/Coffee Bars

Clean Juice // Probably my most frequented location on this list. Order the Hardcore (I add an apple and ginger), avocado toast on gluten free bread, or the Popeye bowl.

Not Just Coffee // Great spot to sit and work if you work from home! I usually go here for organic coffee and tea but the food is great too (Dilworth location does food, South End does not).

Fast Casual Restaurants 

Yafo // Their motto is honest and authentic. I typically build my own bowl here consisting of half salad, half rice, hummus, tomato and cucumber salad, a little feta, avocado, chicken and light tahini.

Chopt // While I haven't tried their new warm bowls, they look like something to be excited about! I typically go with the Santa Fe salad here, I remove the crispy shallots and get the dressing on the side or just ask for lemon juice as my dressing. Add chicken for protein. 

Little Spoon // Great spot for the healthy, and unhealthy. We like to brunch, and hubby doesn't usually want "healthy," but I do - so this cafe is perfect for us. I would recommend checking out the Chopped, Porridge, Avocado Toast, Egg White Raft, or omelette if trying to be healthy.

Whole Foods // America's healthiest grocery store! We like the hot bar here. I especially enjoy the fact that they cater heavily to paleo, gluten free diets. If you're not in the mood to cook or in a hurry - this is a safe bet.

B.Good // Food with roots! I haven't been here in awhile but like the Power Bowl. All of the salads look fantastic.

Crunch Bistro // Have to give kudos to Shane for finding this one. It's around the corner from his office (although they have multiple locations) and we enjoy the Cilantro Chicken Quinoa bowl. I always ask for the dressing on the side and 98% of the time don't even need it. 

Sit Down Restaurants 

Essex Bar & Bistro // The food is so good here, especially dinner. My go to healthy meal selection is from their lunch menu. It's a warm Brussel Sprout Caesar salad and I opt for dressing on the side. 

Soul Gastrolounge // This is another easy to be not healthy spot if you're with someone who doesn't care about that. Great date night location, the Nigiri or Sashimi is going to be your healthiest option. All the sushi is fantastic.

Suffolk Punch // They care about their ingredients. Opt for the Mixed Greens Salad or NC Shrimp dish.

The Manchester // This is a new spot in Charlotte. We had a great experience here with the food! Lots of great salad options which I haven't had a chance to experiment around with yet. But, highly recommend the Baby Spinach and Fried Goat Cheese salad. Yes, the fried part of the goat cheese isn't the best for you - but you can ask for the goat cheese not fried. 

Roosters // Roosters is a classic in Charlotte in my opinion. The Joyce Farms Chicken, corn and spinach are a healthy option. If you're visiting at lunch check out what their Chicken Bowl is, or opt for one of the salads with chicken.

Bentleys on 27 // This is definitely a fine dining experience and a bit of a splurge. I took my clients here for lunch often and the views are amazing! Love the Tuna Nicoise Salad which runs around $18 - not too bad for great quality tuna.

Oku // Hands down my favorite sushi spot in town. They source lots of their ingredients from local farmers and fishermen and I've never had a bad experience yet. Highly recommend the Spiced Chili Edamame, Yellowtail Carpaccio, and any of the sushi rolls (although not healthy, the potato roll is most popular). Opt for the salmon and lemon roll if you're looking for something light, healthy, and refreshing.

PS: These photos are from our trip to the Foundry in Asheville. 


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Top Things To Do in Panama City Beach, Florida

This was my first time visiting Panama City Beach proper, and I've gotta credit Visit PCB for a killer itinerary. Our entire trip was so thoughtfully put together, I couldn't wait to share it with you! From the activities and adventures we experienced, to the restaurants we ate at - it was the perfect schedule of events. If you are planning a trip here in the near future, bookmark this page to refer back too - I promise you will not be disappointed.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably well aware that Panama City Beach was affected by hurricane Michael a little over 6 months ago. Media coverage around this area is more important now than ever as travel and tourism was obviously affected by this natural disaster. Having been a kid in Orlando, Florida during 2004 - one of the Atlantic's worst hurricane seasons to date, this hits near and dear to my heart. I've lived through those disasters first hand, and know it takes an army to rebuild. While I realize many are still awaiting disaster recovery in the Panama City and Mexico Beach area, from a tourism standpoint - I am here to say, go visit Panama City Beach (Bay County's tourism corridor). Tourism is a critical part of this city's economy, and will help drive recovery efforts while also providing jobs for Bay County residents. 


Splash 1202 West

We stayed in a beachfront vacation condo this trip! While I love hotels, there's something so nice about having a full size refrigerator and kitchen at your convenience - especially on a beach vacation or if you're traveling with family or a larger group in general. The location of this condo is directly on the beach with panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico. The beds were super comfortable, and we each (Katie and I) had our own full sized bathroom (2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms). It's also located just two miles from Pier Park, which is a wildly popular shopping center with restaurants, a Sky Wheel, large pier, and most importantly - a Starbucks. 



  • Andy's Flour Power // Casual cafe and bakery with fresh pastry items. I just ordered my usual eggs and avocado here but the options are endless and service is fast!
  • Thomas' Donut & Snack Shop // Famous for their donuts - we went back twice! Try the Morning Glory muffin if you're not a donut fan.
  • Gypsea Crepes // Tons of sweet and savory crepe options, made fresh to order. 


  • Beau's // Casual southern BBQ.


  • The Grand Marlin // So good! Relaxed atmosphere with pretty views of the water. Highly recommend the lobster fingers and fresh caught Swordfish!
  • Firefly // Also really good! I loved the atmosphere here. Wide selection of seafood, sushi, and steak. Highly recommend the Grouper dish and trying out the sushi.
  • Schooners Last Local Beach Club // An unexpected surprise! Don't be fooled by the outside, the food is outstanding here! It's super casual, but the live music (on Wednesdays all summer long) alone was worth the stay! Again, highly recommend the Grouper. 


  • Jet Ski Adventure Tour via Lagoon Pontoons // If you enjoy jet skiing and dolphins, this is a must! We had an absolute blast. If you're not a big fan of jet ski's, they also offer pontoon rentals and tours that take you to Shell island which is absolutely stunning - highly recommend. 
  • Panama City Beach Winery // Tropical Winery with daily wine tastings! Great couples or girls day activity if you want a break from the beach.
  • Explore the SkyWheel and Shops at Pier Park // 124 shops, restaurants, and a SkyWheel with amazing views of Panama City Beach. Cross the street for the pier entrance - perfect views and photo opportunities at sunset!

 This is the perfect destination for all walks of life. Whether you're headed on a girls trip, a family vacation, or a getaway with your significant other - there's something for everybody here.  The travel time to get to Panama City Beach was super convenient. If you're located in Charlotte, there is a direct flight available with American Airlines that gets you into the city in a little over 1 hour. If you're not located in Charlotte, PCB is also a decent driving distance for most cities in the south. I can't thank the team at Visit PCB enough for an awesome stay, looking forward to many more visits to come!



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