5 Tips to Kill it in the Kitchen

First of all, I owe you all a big fat apology for my absenteeism. We’ve been having a little bit of technical difficulty around the Heyday household, and other things have taken priority to getting the computer fixed… which is kind of awesome, actually. I love me some blogging, but it has been kind of nice to get up in the a.m. and work on some other nagging projects before finding an alternate way to check emails and social media. I’ve pretty much developed a new routine of drinking a giant glass of lemon water while I water the landscape and my tomato plant and ponder life’s wonders in the shade of the morning before the day turns sweltering. It’s been a nice change of pace. But alas, I come to you today from the iPad, (which is mildly annoying, but works, so, whatever) while the MacBook is in the hospital. Not sure how many of these posts I’ll be able to tolerate before requiring an actual keyboard, so bear with me in case you don’t hear anything for another week.

Today’s post is brought to you by: your culinary fears! You know you want to be a wiz in the kitch, but something’s holding you back. You’re overwhelmed, you’re afraid to try something new, you burn toast… Whatever it is, it’s time to let it go and embrace your inner chef! Here are 5 ways to step up your game and start killing it in the kitchen.

  1. Get out of your comfort zone! Try new things! Pick up a vegetable you’ve never tried before (Sunchokes? Kohlrabi, anyone?). Use a new pantry staple like grass-fed gelatin or fish sauce or ghee or coconut butter. Get out an appliance you never use (Maybe your food processor or crock pot or double boiler?).Things get boring really fast when you’re serving up the same ol’ chicken breasts, roasted sweet potatoes and salad night after night. It doesn’t have to be complicated… just try a new side dish, an unusual marinade or a new sauce that will add some spice to your regular favorites. What about some braised red cabbage with sherry vinegar or some sunshine sauce (a great substitute for peanut sauce). Get out some cookbooks and get creative! But with that said… image
  2. Don’t be a slave to your cookbooks! Sure, follow a recipe exactly the first time… Make notes on what you loved or didn’t love so much, and make it your own the next few times you make it. Maybe it needed more spice or maybe it was too spicy? Maybe it would’ve tasted a bit better with a touch of acid from a lemon or a splash of vinegar? Whatever your changes, write them down, but then commit your favorite recipes to memory so that you can whip them up sans cookbook.
  3. Clean as you go, it’s the sign of a pro! This is seriously one of my favorite tips. I hate messes and clutter, and when my countertops start filling up with tools of the trade during a batch-cooking session, I start to have an anxiety attack – scratch that – I used to have an anxiety attack. Now I avoid that mess all together and just clean up as I go. It saves me the headache of having to clean up a huge mess after the meal and keeps me sane during the process because my workspace is clutter-free. It’s not hard to do, just be mindful to make it a habit!
  4. Make it pretty! By now we all know that we eat with our eyes first – so why limit that visual stimulation to only the meals you eat at restaurants? Start making your plates Instagram-worthy and a few things will happen: the ones eating off those plates will take note (and eat up), and you’ll find yourself getting greater pleasure from the fruits of your labor in the kitchen. We all have a little artist in us, this might just be your new creative outlet.

    Sooo, I mainly shoot my breakfast plates... deal.

    Sooo, I mainly shoot my breakfast plates… deal.

  5. Learn to laugh at yourself. Pretty sure this one is a must. Once you’ve turned on the blender after forgetting to make sure the blade was fully screwed on (done) or accidentally let a cracked egg slip down the crevasse between the oven and the kitchen counter (done that, too), you’ll quickly realize that having a sense of humor is a necessity in all areas of life, including the area where you cook. It also helps to have a pet who doesn’t mind cleaning up your kitchen floor from time to time.

    Malone, otherwise known as, my trusty sous chef.

    Malone, otherwise known as, my trusty sous chef.

Happy cooking!




We’re Talking About Taji

Hi friends! As promised, we’ve got a little something special for you on the blog today – an up-close-and-personal interview with food-lovin’ blogger, Taji Mortazavi of We’re Talking about Food. It was Taji’s exploration of multi-cultural cuisine, fearless spice combinations, and creative variety that first caught my attention on the blogosphere, but what hooked me was the fact that nearly all her recipes were not only healthy but mindful of certain dietary restrictions as well. If you’re not following her already, you should be – and be prepared to seriously spice up your boring weeknight menu!

Taji was awesome enough to answer a few questions about her background and philosophy on food for me, and I’ve got to say, her responses made me love her even more (and secretly want to be her real life bff). :) Hope you enjoy today’s guest blogger interview!

we're talking about food

1. In our conversation you mentioned your background in English and writing (like me!), but I’d love to hear more about your background in food/nutrition/wellness and how you became interested in it.

I guess you could say that I’ve always been a foodie at heart. Growing up with an Iranian father and a French mother, food was always the door to both cultures. Towards the end of high school, I became more interested in the nutritional components of food, and began meeting with a dietitian to answer my inquiries.

Today, food is truly an art for me. My kitchen is my studio, my foods are my paints, my knife is my brush, and my plate is my canvas. I’ve noticed that if I focus on the color, texture, and overall composition of a dish, the healthy nutrients, vitamins, and all the good stuff I need to be healthy are there without having to think so much about it. The more I cook, the more I realize that artistically I’m not in total control of the dishes I’m making—the food is. This isn’t to say that food controls me by any means, but rather I get really inspired by a lot of the ingredients I use and my creativity comes from within.

2. You’ve posted recipes across the board in terms of diet… vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free… is there any particular diet to which you adhere? 

I think it’s good to experiment with a lot of different diets and healthy eating plans. I’ve noticed over the years that vegan and vegetarian cuisine has some very innovative ways of preparing vegetables. By contrast, paleo and gluten-free diets are really good at finding alternatives to refined carbohydrates and starches. I play around with all these plans because I think they ALL can contribute to a healthy diet and lifestyle. You can easily take Italian-seasoned chicken with spaghetti squash (typically a paleo or GF dish) and smother it with a dollop of vegan pesto for a meal that’s the best of both worlds. Part of my blog is about pairing these diets together so people can see they’re not all that drastically different. In my eyes, these healthy diets operate on a continuum rather than a set of extremes.

I have struggled with Crohn’s and Celiac Disease for quite some time now. Going gluten-free is definitely important to me and an essential part of my diet. I did some digging and found out dairy allergies also run in my family so I try to steer clear of that as well. Ultimately, I think a healthy diet is balanced and REAL! I avoid processed and fast food like it’s the plague, go organic when I can, and make sure I eat lots of raw vegetables and fruits.

3. I read in one of your posts a few months ago about another blogger’s philosophy on “eating to live” versus “living to eat”. As a self-proclaimed foodie, I’ll admit it’s hard for me to completely align with the “eat to live” philosophy, too, but as a nutritional therapist, I understand it and often have to adopt that mindset when counseling clients. Where do you stand, what are your thoughts on the two sides, and what advice do you have for someone on either side in terms of crossing over from time to time?

I agree with you completely that these two philosophies are often at odds with one another. I think it ultimately comes down to how so many people (myself included) struggle with intuitive eating. When your intuitive eating is in line, usually you don’t need to worry about whether you’re ‘eating to live’ or ‘living to eat.’ Those choices will happen naturally and healthfully for you. Look at people who are good intuitive eaters. They usually don’t align themselves with either camp and simply eat what they’re body is telling them to eat. And more often than not, they’re at a healthy weight. With that said, it’s hard to tell someone whose over/underweight to eat intuitively, because doing so is probably what has gotten them in trouble in the first place.

I really think it depends on your relationship with food. People who overeat might benefit from a more structured approach that focuses on set meal times and plans. At the same time, if you’re underweight because you forget to eat you could also benefit from a structured plan. It’s too easy to say if you’re overweight you should watch what you eat and if you’re underweight you should eat whatever you want. Both attitudes depend on your health and your natural eating habits.

4.  I always love seeing your creativity come through in your recipes. You’ve posted dishes from a variety of different cuisines including Korean, Mediterranean, Italian, French, and a variety of Persian dishes, all of them involving lots of unique fresh herbs and spices. Is there a certain culture that particularly inspires you in the kitchen?

You’re right in that I love to experiment! I want the site to have a little something for everyone and I try to incorporate lots of different cuisines. I named the blog “We’re Talking About Food” because I wanted to initiate a dialogue about food and food-related topics. Branching out to different cuisines is one of the many ways I try to initiate conversation and get people involved!

Maybe I’m biased, but I always seem to come back to Persian culture and dishes. Lately in the food world, the trends all lead towards fusion foods and cuisines. I like to think of Persian food as one of the original fusion cuisines out there. For centuries we’ve taken many Mediterranean flavors and paired them with East Asian and Indian ingredients. Most people who eat Persian food say it’s not the ingredients that surprise them, but the unique and innovative flavor combinations we’ve developed over time. To me, that’s much more interesting than a green tea flavored donut or a ramen burger – haha!

5. What is one significant change to your diet/lifestyle has had the most impact on your life and the way you feel?

I think being conscious of what I put in my body is perhaps one of the most important components to my diet, exercise habits, and over healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s a massaged kale salad or a double fudge brownie sundae (gluten-free of course!), being mindful of my choices is imperative to a healthy life. If I slip up, I have the tools to get back on track the next day. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga more frequently that I actually learned what being mindful was all about. I used to stress about eating fat or sugar or salt. Now, I realize a little chocolate won’t kill me. Ultimately, it’s helped me create a lifestyle that’s healthy, but also balanced and realistic.


Thanks for sharing in the Heyday Diaries, Taji!

Check out more of Taji’s wit, insight and love for all things culinary at We’re Talking About Food

Talk soon, friends!




Interested in being a guest blogger? Contact me here!

Weekend FOODIE Recap… and What’s in Store This Week!

Gooood afternoon, fair people of the interweb! Can you even believe it’s already Monday again?! The weekend flew by, as usual.

This happened to be one of three weekends we’ve been able to enjoy alone as a couple since moving into our new house mid-March (hard to believe!). Between visitors and travel, we really needed a weekend of quality time to ourselves, and this weekend delivered.

Since Tim was out of town almost all of last week, we enjoyed a much needed date night (Whaaaat?! Remember those!?!!) at a new-to-us and sort-of-new-to-Sullivan’s-Island restaurant called The Obstinate Daughter. It. Was. Awesome. First of all, they had me at atmosphere – from the nautical rope light fixtures to raw wood, rustic-industrial accents with plush seating and perfectly out-of-place Steve Miller Band and other classic rock playing at a volume high enough to make patrons have to speak up to hear each other… it was pretty perfect.  Custom creative cocktails (in which I did not partake, but I did sip Tim’s) and a simple but SUPER TASTY menu loaded with local ingredients and foodie hot-items like ramps, sorghum, and farm fresh eggs (runny), made this local gem rocket to the top of my new favorite restaurants list. We had the Local Lettuce, Clammer Dave’s Baked Clams, and the Old Danger pizza (which rivals a favorite back home – the Sunnyside at Bar Cento in Cleveland – NOTHING will ever replace you, Sunnyside, but Old Danger was preeeetty good). Love, love, LOVED it. YUM.

photo courtesy of Yelp.com

photo courtesy of Yelp.com – click for link.

Side note: get a reservation – we lucked out somehow and snagged a table… they were supposedly booked up til 10pm when we arrived around 7:30. I secretly think the sweet sorority sister hostesses felt sorry for making the pregnant chick stand… umm, totally fine with using the bump to get seated faster.

Saturday we spent painting the nursery, transforming it from its old, dingy, yellow-orangey tan, to bright and breezy Sherwin Williams “Sprout”. I’m not totally done with the transformation, obviously (hellooo, I need a crib in that crib, a not-hideous light fixture [not pictured], and some stuff on the walls!), but here’s a sneak peek. In case you’re curious, find my inspiration for color scheme here.

Orangey-tan walls... gag.  Also, don't you love my cut-in? I forgot to take a "real" before pic.

Orangey-tan walls… gag. Also, don’t you love my cut-in? I forgot to take a “real” before pic.


2014-05-12 18.30.02

I love me a good side note: I’m transforming that chair into a rocker courtesy of a tutorial I found on Pinterest… and also, sorry for the sort of dark pic… that window was messing with me.

I had brined some pork chops for the grill that night (still haven’t perfected my pork chop technique, but they were pretty tasty), and served them up alongside an heirloom carrot and parsnip puree, and some lemony creamed chard (easily my new favorite side… I will share the recipe soon!). Tim was so impressed with my plating that he asked if I was going to take a picture, to which I replied, “I probably should” and then promptly dove in fork-first. Bad blogger.

Sunday, we tested out a new church which turned out to be a pleasant surprise aside from our initial reaction to the crowd requiring traffic direction, and followed up the service with brunch at our favorite dive-y spot on the beach, Acme Lowcountry Kitchen. They are super slow when it comes to putting out the food, but the fried green tomato eggs benedict (sans English muffin for me) is seriously worth the wait. I don’t know how, but their poached eggs are PER. FECT. Every. Time. I need to take lessons from the chef. And their fried green tomatoes are probably the best I’ve had since we’ve been in Charleston… and believe me, I’ve been trying them nearly everywhere.

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com - click for link

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com – click for link

This week is going to be a good one. I’ve got some great posts in store for you, some inspired by re-visiting books on my bookshelf, some inspired by questions and suggestions of friends, and ALL of them inspired by my favorite thing ever: FOOD! Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store:

  • Revisiting the Primal Blueprint – why I’m regrouping and and why you should consider giving it a shot, too.
  • What to Eat – how to look at your meals from a nutritional standpoint to make sure you’re getting what you need, along with some quick and easily customizable meal options.
  • The 21-Day Sugar Detox – we’ve been there before and you know I love it… let me share a few ways it might benefit you and how to set yourself up for success.

So pull up a laptop or a tablet, get comfy, and stay tuned for the good stuff!




Let’s Talk Food.

Last night, in an attempt to get organized (mostly in an effort to be successful at blogging regularly – I told you people I would be better about this!), I sat down with my calendar and started jotting down ideas for posts based on the events and “dates” we have coming up. The ideas that came most readily were, of course, those centered around the Friday theme I promised: Date Night.

(Side note: Is this what normal bloggers do? Or am I just that OCD that I need an outline to follow? Don’t answer that.)

Anyway, of course Date Night is easy because A) it involves my favorite thing: food, and B) we really enjoy dining out and have several favorite foodie restaurants in the area (not to mention, this will give us an excuse to visit a few more we’ve been wanting to try…like this one).

With all the future Date Night posts running through my mind… glorious visions of pork belly and smoked gouda grits, carrot cake waffles with maple cream cheese frosting, the best fried calamari you’ll ever eat, crimini mushroom pizza with smoked bleu cheese and roasted garlic oil, fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and roasted beets, guacamole prepared to order (are you drooling yet?)… I felt like I needed to preface those upcoming indulgent posts with a disclaimer of “OKAY, WHOA NELLY WE DON’T EAT AND DRINK LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME NOR DO I RECOMMEND YOU DO!  EVERYONE DROP THE FORKS AND CALM DOWN!”

There’s no denying we’re total foodies with a mutual soft spot for culinary creativity, but here are the food rules we live by the other 6.75 days of the week, in order to feel okay with indulging once in a while:

  • Both Tim and I follow the Primal Blueprint diet 90% of the time.  I’ll let you read about the details elsewhere, but basically, we eat mostly animal protein (red meat, chicken, fish) and vegetables… no grains, no sugar (other than what occurs naturally in fruits and veggies), and no packaged foods.  Some hardcore Paleo-dieters don’t eat milk products, but I like a little half & half in my coffee, I cook with butter, and let’s be honest, I love me some cheese on occasion.  This is the inspiring article that first prompted me to try eating this way (and to start lifting weights), and it’s been the best – and easiest – diet decision I’ve ever made.

  • We eat clean!  That means fresh fruits and veggies, organic whenever possible, and organic, humanely-raised meats and wild seafood, fresh and local whenever possible.  It wasn’t always that way, but more and more, if I can’t buy it organic, I won’t buy it at all.  I’m not being a snob, I just really want to be careful about what we’re putting into our bodies! I want to give my body the cleanest possible fuel so that it can run efficiently, heal itself, and maintain its strength.  Luckily, we are fortunate enough to live in an area where organic options are readily available at every turn.  We have access to a buying club that provides us with a weekly mystery box of fresh organic produce, and surprise of all surprises, COSTCO now offers a generous selection of organic meats and dairy products, and even nuts and oils.  If you think it’s not possible for you to eat clean or that it must be a boring way to eat, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Clean Eating magazine (or get a digital subscription for your iPad – I love mine!).  Tosca Reno’s book, The Eat Clean Diet, will give you even more insight as to what eating clean can do for your health (P.S. Listen, if Tosca can go from a frumpy, worn-out, 40-something wearing mom-jeans to a pro figure model and nutritional therapist… I mean, if that isn’t inspiration for you, I don’t know what is!! If anything, just Google her to read her story.).

I love that Clean Eating magazine offers a “real life” approach to eating clean… complete with no-brainer meal plans and shopping lists in every issue, and articles focused on making eating clean as simple and enjoyable as possible (cue the red wine and make-ahead meals!).

  • I try to eat five small meals a day on a schedule (yep, I set my alarm).  I plan ahead religiously (I keep a notebook) just to be prepared, but that’s as crazy as it gets.  I do not count calories – once upon a time I did, but honestly, I loathe plans that require counting calories because I become obsessive and consequently starve myself and then binge… it just doesn’t work for me.  I eat protein, veggies, and fats in every meal, end of story.

3:30… time to eat… what’s on the menu? Check the little green book.


In case you’re curious, here’s what my food looks like. Follow me on instagram (erinfrazee) to see more of my plate.

  • I make exceptions (within reason).  I make a protein shake after my workout every single day with whey protein and unsweetened almond milk.  Neither of those things are primal-friendly or technically “clean”.  I’m not worried about it, which brings me to my next point…


  • I don’t stress about food.  I allow myself one cheat meal a week, which usually ends up being on Date Night when we’re eating out at a restaurant and don’t have as much control over the food, or just want to indulge a little.  Cheating doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be filling up on the bread basket, but if grits come with our shrimp, you’d better believe we’ll be partaking.  (And if key lime pie is on the menu, um, it’s happening.)

Prosecco and macarons at Bottega Louie? You betcha.

  • I don’t let plans with friends throw me off either, and it bums me out that this is such a struggle for some people!!  Life is meant to be lived, friends, just do your best!  When doing something fun with friends that involves food, I either eat according to my preferences as best I can, or I use that meal as my cheat meal.  For example, if I’m going to a wine tasting with friends mid-week (such as is the case this week!) which will entail eating and drinking off the plan, it’s no big deal… I know that when Date Night rolls around later in the week, I’ll be doing the cooking.  It all evens out, and there’s no reason to stress!

I love me some dinners out with friends!! (Obviously.)

  • I drink red wine on the reg!  One glass with dinner or sometimes more if it’s with a cheat meal.  Occasionally, white wine happens, but not often.  I don’t really drink beer, so I don’t have a problem not drinking it.  Though the occasional craft beer at a local brewery or Bud Light Lime on the beach won’t throw off my weekend, it’s rare that I even have the urge for a pint.  If cocktails are in order, vodka or tequila and soda with lime is about the craziest I’ll get.

Oh yeah, we keep this baby stocked.

  • I have learned to quell the urge for something sweet after dinner with a square of Lindt 85% cocoa dark chocolate.  It’s not even sweet, but cutting sugar out of the rest of my diet has made my taste buds super sensitive when it comes to dessert.

So good.

So there you have it, folks.  Part of living a full and vibrant life means making health your top priority so that you can enjoy your life… taking control of the food you eat is the easiest way to do that.  Tim and I are always saying to each other, “I love the way we eat!” because not only is it easy, it’s healthy, we’re always satisfied but never stuffed, and we feel strong and we enjoy our food when we eat it.  For two foodies, I think that says a lot!!

Stay tuned for more good stuff comin’ up soon… need a preview?  I’ve got a calendar packed to the brim with a wine tasting, date night, dinner with friends, and a little sunrise yoga on the beach with Lululemon that is sure to be incredible!  Ciao for now!


Labor Day calls for all things grilled!

After enjoying two days of family craziness with cousins in town for the holiday weekend, Tim and I spent Labor Day afternoon and evening with some friends, cooking out poolside… and soaking up this view:


Nice, huh?

I’m not a grill-master, by any means, and when I say that I mean that I have NEVER GRILLED.  Weird, huh?  I mean, unless we’re talking about a grill pan on the stove or a countertop grill, a la George Foreman.  I know it’s shocking, given my culinary wizardry, but somehow it’s always just been the man’s domain (I can’t believe I just typed that).  Seriously, though – Dad has always taken care of the grilling while Mom worked her magic in the kitchen, and that’s just the way it was, so I guess it’s no surprise that I’d never attempted to conquer the open flames.

Well, times are a-changin’.  Grilling was on the agenda for Labor Day, so why not give it a shot?  In Thursday’s produce share, I received a beautiful butternut squash that seemed to be begging for grill marks.  I googled it, and sure enough, the first recipe that caught my eye was the winner:  Grilled Butternut Squash with Rosemary and Garlic (which I promptly pinned).  I’ll let you check out the recipe out for yourself, but let me just tell you, the rave reviews were not lying.  Part of me wishes that I had just made this for Tim and myself so that we could eat the whole batch alone without sharing!!  It was devoured.


Just LOOK at this little beauty!



Just looking at this picture now is making my mouth water!

I should also mention that not only did I kill it on the grill with the squash, I also got suckered into grilling the rest of the menu… which included fresh hog snapper and strip steaks!  AMAZINGLY I did not over- or undercook anything… my first attempt at grilling turned out awesome and I have come to the conclusion that I need to go out and buy a grill immediately.  Like maybe tomorrow.

And of course, no long-weekend-celebration is complete without plenty of vino!  We are always well-prepared…




Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday weekend!  Back to reality today… but hey, at least it’s a short week!



(P.S. I just realized, I took no people pictures!  Clearly, I have my priorities, and food is #1.)  ;)