A long weekend in Asheville: Days 2-3

SO.  When we left off (you know, like a year ago), we were just leaving the Frog Level Brewing Co on a trip to we took with friends to Ashevile, NC that occured almost two years ago.  Don’t remember (because, why would you)?   Let me refresh your memory:


We had spent the morning hiking and ended up at Frog Level to hydrate and grab some snacks.  We decided that we wanted to be able to enjoy more than one beer and we had about a 30 min drive ahead of us, so we went back to the apartment.  We had a pretty exciting activity set up for the night:



Drunk bike rides!  I’m sure you are familiar with the setup, I’ve seen similar activities in a lot of different cities (on our recent trip to Budapest we even spotted a bachelor party wearing tighty whities having a brisk ride around town).  The premise is that you bring your own beer on board and ride around for about an hour and a half.  For anyone that was worried about physical exertion like I was, the bike has a small motor and is not actually dependent on your pedaling.  The driver was funny and we had a good crew on our ride.  We used Amazing Pubcycle and it looks like they’ve changed their tours up a little bit.  Now they offer a 1.5 hr ride with stops at a few bars or a 40 minute Nomad tour.  Either sounds fun, but the one we did had no stops.

After our ride we decided to track down some dinner.  We heard a lot of good things about Tupelo Honey Cafe, but they had a ridiculous wait time (seems to be the norm, we have one in Greenville and it’s ALWAYS packed).  We walked around a bit more and happened upon Mayfel’s.  We looked it up, it had good reviews and a more reasonable wait time, so we got in our best Mardi Gras mindset and Cajun’ed it up.


Our waitress recommended peel n eat shrimp, so we got that as an appetizer.  It was good, but didn’t really stand out from any ol’ peel n eat shrimp?  We also enjoyed some Seafood Etouffe, Gumbo, and Meatloaf, among other things.


All of our main entrees were great, but the dessert was probably the best part.  Beignets!  P.S. I’ve tried to make beignets before from a mix someone brought us back from New Orleans and they were so flat.  These were 1,000,000x better, unsurprisingly.  Very soft and fluffy.


After dinner, we continued to chip away at the population of Asheville breweries.  Our first stop of the night was Funkatorium.  This is Wicked Weed’s brewery and taproom that is dedicated to sour beers.  Which, as it turns out, I was the only one in our little quartet that likes sour beers.  So, I loved it.  Everyone else tolerated it.  We decided to split a flight rather than get individual drinks and I think I ended up finishing them all after everyone had a sample.  You certainly have to like sour beers to enjoy but it’s so unique and a cute space so I think it’s worth a stop!




Our last stop of the night was Hi-wire Brewing.  This place was pretty packed and had some sort of live music going on.  I was impressed with their diverse selection of beers and had a hard time narrowing it down.  We sat at the bar and enjoyed a few beers before calling it a night.



We started off our final full day much like we started our first full day.  Exactly like it, in fact, with a plate full o’ biscuit.  I went with the Chicken Mimosa biscuit this time and a side of fried chicken gravy.  All delicious again of course.


After breakfast we drove to the Biltmore with plans to see the estate all dolled up in holiday splendor.  We drove all the way there, stood in line, and were told that tickets were $75 PER PERSON to walk around this giant house.  A bit steep, no?  Ultimately we decided that we weren’t willing to invest several hundred dollars into this high fallutin’ endeavor and went back to what we do best, beer.

We went to Sierra Nevada for lunch, we couldn’t get all of the food that we saw the other day out of our heads.  We inquired about a tour but they were booked up for the next few weeks (??), apparently this is the sort of thing that you need to do arrange in advance.  After two failed attempts at activities, we decided to just accept what the universe was telling us and just sit/eat/drink some more.  At this point in the trip my body was completely rebelling against all of the rich and fattening food and demanded some vegetables and roughage (ifyaknowhatimean).



We each did a beer flight and I got the seasonal salad (which was some combo of arugula, chickpeas, roasted red pepper and a vinaigrette).   The food at Sierra Nevada is almost all small plate/shareable type dishes with a focus on local ingredients.  The menu changes often and everything we tried was fantastic!  Nick and I have been back on a few occasions and have always been impressed with what we’ve tried.asheville73

While we were out and about we decided to visit another brewery outside of town, Oskar Blues.  This place was about as different from Sierra Nevada as you can get.  No grand entrance, no fancy hipster menu.  Just a warehouse, some beer, and games.  My favorites from here were their IPA Pinner Throwback IPA, and their pilsner Mama’s Little Yella Pils.

We enjoyed several challenging games of Jenga (Nick’s first move was always to remove the bottom two sides so the whole tower was balancing on ONE block) before heading back to Asheville proper.



Once we were back at our apartment we decided to stay close by and enjoy a few West Asheville establishments (besides Biscuithead).  Things were a tad fuzzy at this point so I don’t exactly remember where we went for dinner.  I do know that we went to Pour Taproom, which was such a cool place.  Rather than serving beers by the pint, you get a wrist band and they have like 30+ taps set up.  You scan your wristband and pour as much as any beer (or cider, or wine) that you want and just pay by the oz at the end.  I was able to enjoy more sour beer here and have this lovely, blurry, pic to commemorate the event.


They also had a lot of games in the basement (including pool and GIANT SIZED Jenga) that we enjoyed until we went home and concluded our Asheville trip.

Overall this was a great trip with great friends, we loved staying in West Asheville and found it to be a great cheaper alternative to downtown Asheville.  I don’t think I had a bad beer or meal the entire time we were here and can’t wait to go back!

WIAW: Chicken Picatta


Another WIAW!  These are probably becoming my favorite kind of post to write (after my travel recaps of course, not much can compete with reliving those trips!).  I’m trying to incorporate more recipes on the blog, and this was my first round of trying to create and photograph a recipe.  Let me tell you, trying to juggle a camera and a pot of hot boiling water is not as easy as it might seem.  I TOTALLY wanted to get a really cool action shot of water pouring and it did not happen.  Not even close.  How does the Pioneer Woman do it?

One of my favorite throw together meals is chicken picatta, but it can be hard to make when I’m watching calories or points.  I played around with the ratios of ingredients in the WW recipe calculator and think it turned out really good!  It’s healthy but still has the integrity of actually tasting like chicken picatta.  I’m pretty picky about healthy food substitutes (hard pass on cauliflower crust pizza or mashed cauliflower here), but I feel like this dish doesn’t TASTE like a healthy substitute.

But let’s start from the beginning:

I had one of my favorite breakfasts today, a yogurt bowl.  This one had 0% Fage greek yogurt, 1/2 c of sliced strawberries, 1 tsp of honey, and 1/2 c of Lean Way (the Harris Teeter brand knockoff of Kashi Go Lean 🙂 )  I also had some unpictured coffee with Coffee-mate Naturals Sweet Cream.  8 SP total.

I drank my usual 37 cups of hot tea at work.  At this point I drink tea as a survival technique to maintain my body heat in an old building that runs at about 32 degrees Fahrenheit (I’m guessing).  I am ALWAYS freezing at work.  I decided not to take pictures of my tea anymore, because that’s really boring but I enjoyed Celestial Orange Zinger, Green Tea with Pomegranate and Apple Spice throughout the day.

As I mentioned on Friday, I am extremely bored with my usual salad, but I also didn’t get a brilliant strike of inspiration for amazing lunch ideas so I kept it pretty simple.  Crockpot Buffalo chicken (that didn’t turn out buffalo-y at all, and used up the last of my buffalo sauce…), roasted broccoli and sweet potato.  7 SP total.

My snacks this afternoon were an orange and some shelled pistachios (3 SP worth).  And I forgot to take a picture because I am the worst.  But it looked a little something like this:

stock pistachios

After work, I came home and completed an Upper Body strength workout from Lauren Gleisberg’s Beauty and Booty Blueprints eBook.  It was a good one!  I got a barbell with weights for Christmas, so it’s been fun to try different exercises at home that I wasn’t able to do with just my dumbbell set.  I’ve also been increasing my weights, since my dumbbells only go up to 10 lbs.  I did some rows with 35 lbs and whew!  15 min warm-up on the elliptical plus a 45 min strength workout earned me 4 Fit Points.

As mentioned above, for dinner I made an attempt to Weight Watchers-ify one of my favorite meals, chicken picatta (full recipe below).  I used a few of my favorite health-ify techniques here:

  • I reduced the amount of butter and oil, and replaced it with chicken broth.  This technique is a delicate balance, because obviously delicious fats like oil and butter are the actual tasty part of the sauce so you don’t want to get rid of too much.  I also find that simply reducing the amounts of butter and oil reduces the overall volume of sauce too much for me (I like it saucy), so I like to use chicken broth to stretch out the sauce a little more.
  • I tossed the chicken in flour and cooked it olive oil.  This gives the chicken a light fry texture, without the added calories/points of a full out breading process.  The flour also helps thicken up your sauce a bit.
  • I used half zucchini noodles (you could call them zoodles if you wish…but I can’t bring myself to do that) and half whole wheat pasta.  Cutting the carbs is a quick and easy way to reduce the calories/points of your dish.  It’s also a quick and easy way to get rid of everything that makes a dish worth having.  I’ve tried completely replacing pasta with zucchini, but I can’t get past the fact that I’m eating a glorified salad.  I need carbs for satiety and happiness.  I have found that a 50/50 mix helps me achieve both things and also keeps my husband from revolting against me.

There is a detailed recipe below, but the basic steps are as follows:

First you want to pound out your chicken, cut it up and dredge in flour.  I made these pictures small because raw chicken is gross to look at, you are welcome.

Next, you pan fry your chicken in 2 tbsp of olive oil.

Meanwhile, you get your pasta cooking and start spiralizing that zucchini.

When your chicken is done, add all of your delicious ingredients like wine, garlic, butter, lemon juice, and chicken broth.


Then, add your chicken back in and let it simmer a lil bit.


Meanwhile (back at the ranch), pour your al dente pasta and water over your zoodles (ugh).


After your sauce has thickened enough, combine your chicken + sauce + pasta + zucchini + capers for delicious magic.  Add some parmesan, if you’re so inclined.


One serving of this recipe is 10 SP, and I had a small glass of wine too, for 4 SP.

After dinner I messed around with my new app and tried to Un$#&! my habitat a little bit (warning: lots of curse words ahead). 

I decided to deal with our kitchen table and island.  It’s a major dumping ground for mail, my purse, gym bags, coats, etc etc.  This was was supremely boring because it involved going through a ton of mail and magazines, but now the space is clean and I feel 1 million times better. Isn’t it amazing how productive and calm a clean space can make you feel?  And isn’t it equally amazing how that alone isn’t enough motivation to actually clean and organize consistently?  (At least not for me)

I ended the night with some TV watching and reading (finally got The Girl on the Train from my library!!!!). I enjoyed some Vanilla Sleepytime tea and two squares of Divine Hazelnut Dark Chocolate (2 SP).

Healthy Chicken Picatta

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

WW SP: 10  |   Cals: 422 Carbs: 37g Fat: 14g  Protein: 33g

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded to 1/4 – 1/2 inch thickness
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c. flour (I used more in my bowl to make it easier to coat the chicken breasts, but only approx 1/4 c. stuck to the actual chicken)
1 lemon
3/4 c. Low sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. Dry White wine
3 medium zucchini
4 oz. whole wheat pasta
1/4 c. capers (or more/less to taste)

  1. Warm olive oil in pan over medium – medium/high heat.
  2. Start pot of boiling water for pasta.  When water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions.  I used angel hair, which only takes 4 minutes.
  3. Cut chicken into equal sized pieces (I used one ginormous breast and cut it into four pieces).
  4. Dredge chicken in flour to coat, set aside.
  5. Put chicken in pan, be careful not to crowd the pan.  We want the chicken to “fry” rather than steam to get that great texture.  I had to do two batches of two pieces each.
  6. While chicken is cooking, spiralize your zucchini.  When zucchini is spiralized, put into colander.  When pasta is done cooking, drain pasta over the zucchini.  I like a crisper zucchini noodle, so the hot water from the pasta and the continued cooking of the hot pasta sitting on the noodles cooks them enough for me.  And one less pan to clean!
  7. Add butter and garlic to olive oil to pan.  I use a microplane to mince my garlic right in.  Saute for 1 minute.
  8. Add wine to deglaze pan and pick up all of those brown bits (the flavor!).
  9. Add lemon juice and chicken broth.
  10. When sauce is bubbling, add chicken back in the pan and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes.  However long it takes for the sauce to get thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  11. You can add your capers to the sauce now, but I prefer to add them directly to my bowl because I am a caper FIEND and Nick doesn’t care quite as much for them.  So we are able to serve ourselves different amounts.
  12. Add all of your components together!  Admire your amazing work!  Pour yourself a glass of wine! (If it fits in your points/calories, that is)

WIAT? Is that a thing?

So I completely intended to do a “What I ate Wednesday” post yesterday, but forgot to continue to take pictures of my food halfway through the day. This is the second week in a row that this has happened. How do people do this on a regular basis?? I am exceptionally bad at it.

I already had written half the post in my head though, and I really wanted to talk about the new Weight Watchers plan so I decided to buck convention and write about my food on a THURSDAY. I’m a wild one.

This was my first full week on the Weight Watchers Smart Points plan, and it has certainly been an adjustment. The new points calculation really lead you to focus on protein and fiber, as they generally decrease point values. Point values are increased by saturated fat and sugar (all the delicious stuff). Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m not necessarily looking to lose a ton of weight but I’ve been feeling in a slump lately and trying out new plans and programs is really motivating to me.

My breakfast usually rotates between egg wraps or sandwiches, yogurt bowls and smoothies. Under the new plan, fruits and vegetables are free unless they are blended. I made a quick smoothie last Friday, once I got to work and logged my points, I realized that sucker was 12 points!  I get 30 per day, so I still need to play around with the calculator to figure out how to lower that value whole still maintaining the deliciousness.

I wish I had chosen prettier, non-stained Tupperware, but oh well.

This yogurt bowl cost me 6 points and was made with 0% Greek yogurt, pomegranate seeds, 1 tsp honey (down from my normal 1/2 tbsp to save a point), and 1/2 cup of Kashi Go Lean cereal.   I also had a 2 point coffee, with 1 tsp sugar and 1 tbsp half and half.

I worked worked worked for a while, then had a cup of mint green tea.

Yes, this is what tea looks like.

I started to eat my clementine snack (o points) with my tea, but had an orange juice/toothpaste effect with the mint tea so I held off on the clementines until after I finished.  Learn from me, don’t do this.

I had to change my normal lunch salad up a bit to be more points friendly.  As it was, it ran me about 12 points which is more than I wanted to spend on lunch.  At first I halved the amount of craisins and blue cheese, but that really reduced the delicious factor.  1/2 oz of blue cheese is not doing anything for anybody.  So today, I got rid of the craisins, which were high in sugar and ran me about 3 points, and replaced it with some sliced apple which is 0 points.  Because of that, I was able to keep the full 1 oz of blue cheese for the same amount of points.  Balance is restored in the world.  This salad + dressing was 10 points.

Without the blue cheese it’s basically a glorified bowl of vegetables, which I want NO part of.

My afternoon snack of carrots and hummus didn’t really need any adjusting, it has a value of 2 points.  I had it with some pomegranate green tea.
12_17 afternoon snack

I also broke into my Hershey’s Kiss stash at some point this afternoon.  I had two of them for 2 points.  No photo because I’m the worst at this.

I worked a little later than usual today, so I was bordering on hangry when I got home.  I decided to eat first and workout at some other point in the evening.  I prefer to workout right when I get home and get it done, but food won out today.

Dinner was Chicken Tortilla Soup that I made in the crockpot.  Except I didn’t add tortilla chips, so can I really even call it that?  I added some cilantro and 2% cheese on top, for a total of 8 points.

12_17 dinner
One of these days I will share a dinner that ISN’T a giant bowl of mush.  One day.  

About an hour after dinner, I drug myself off of the couch to get my workout on.  I’ve certainly fallen off of the Lauren Gleisberg plan that I was doing with all of my sickness (you know, that one cold I had that I’ve been harping on for weeks) and traveling.  My plan for workouts these days is “Just do anything, for the love of god!”  I ended up doing a Jillian Michaels video, Hard Body.  I amped it up to Level 2 of the video today.  The workout is a strength and circuit workout with a fair amount of plyometrics thrown in.  It certainly got my heart rate up and earned me 5 whole fit points.

On the subject of fit points, WW suggests NOT trading in your fit points for food, and this might be my biggest gripe with the new plan.  I really believe that if you are exercising consistently, you can (and maybe should) be able to eat a little more.  I decided to change my settings to use my fit points after my weekly points.  I really wanted to set it to use fit points daily, but I thought I would do this as a compromise and see how I feel after a few weeks.  If I’m constantly hungry, I will certainly be changing it to use my fit points every day as I earn them.

I am currently enjoying some fancy-ass sparkling water as I write this post.  I love La Croix, this flavor is Cran-Raspberry and is really good.  Served in a glass with crushed ice, it’s the only way.  I also really like the sparkling water from Trader Joe’s and it’s cheaper!  Not as many flavors though.

So! That was my whole day, it ran me exactly 30 points which is my daily allotment.  I used up all my weeklies DAYS ago on Christmas food and alcohol this past weekend, so I’ve been trying hard to stick to the 30.  I’m learning and making adjustments, but so far I’m really enjoying the WW plan!

When do you workout during the day?  WW peeps, what are you doing with fit points?