Wine Country & a California Breakfast

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Last month M<3 and I took a trip to California’s Wine Country.

We both love wine and thought a trip to Sonoma County and Napa Valley would be a great, long weekend getaway where we could relax, enjoy some delicious California reds, and refine our wine pallets.

California

We started our trip off with a tour of Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma. This was, by far, the BEST brewery tour either of us had ever been on. The guide was engaging, the beer (and oh, there was a lot of beer) was delicious, and learning about the history of the brewery was fascinating. I highly suggest a visit to Lagunitas if you make your way to California. It’s quickly become our favorite brewery.

lagunitas

We also visited many wineries, including Buena Vista Winery, the oldest winery in California, Robert Mondavi (home to Mondavi’s high-end wines, not the cheap-mass produced bottles you find at your local wine shop), Failla Wines, which cellars its wines in caves within the mountains of Napa Valley, and a few other select wineries. All were wonderful. We split tasting at most wineries, which kept us even-keeled throughout the whole trip.

Mondavi

Over the weekend we enjoyed ourselves, indulged in some delicious red and white wines, relaxed and bought 5 bottles to ship home to Texas.

What surprised us during our trip though, is that most of the other winery visitors were at least twice our age — making us the youngest patrons at all of the wineries! We always knew we were old souls but we were surprised by this fact.

Evenings during our trip were a bit slow. We found that most of the attractions and shops within Sonoma (where we stayed) closed by 6pm. Restaurants, of course, remained open but after sipping wine all day our appetites were small.

We weren’t sure if shops were closed because most people had gone home after wine tasting all day (and passed out) or if the town just didn’t offer many evening activities.

failla

During our trip, we indulged in some delicious, wine country food. The Girl & the Fig in Sonoma. We split a memorable goat’s milk cheese plate there one night for dinner and came back again the next evening to enjoy a true meal. I even came home with a fig spread to enjoy with our own cheese plates!

cupcake

And of course, I couldn’t go on vacation without trying a local cupcakery. Healdsburg’s Craft Cupcakes was recommended to us but we were sadly disappointed with our choice of cupcake – the Cherry Almond – which tasted like nothing more than a vanilla cupcake.

Although many meals throughout our trip were wonderful, fresh and delicious, my Avocado & Egg Toast I had for breakfast at Sunflower Caffe in Sonoma stood out as a favorite — something I knew upon first bite that I had to make at home.

The breakfast is simple, light and refreshing with an added twist of a lemon-y ricotta smeared beneath a layer of avocado on a crusty multi-grain bread. The lemon added a brightness to the dish while the creamy, cool ricotta gave it a contrasting texture when compared to the chewiness of the bread.

Arriving back home in Austin, I immediately recreated this dish, of course, healthifying it some with a skim-milk ricotta so it could be enjoyed on a daily basis rather than as an indulgent vacation breakfast.

Here’s my version of Sunflower Caffe’s Avocado & Egg Toast – though I call mine, the California Breakfast. It isn’t as grand of a meal as Sunflower Caffe’s but I am definitely willing to bet on the flavor and the ease of which it comes together during a weekday morning rush!

breakfast

California Breakfast

  • 1 slice Oroweat, Health Nut bread, toasted
  • 1/4 cup fat free ricotta cheese
  • 1 hard boiled egg, sliced
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 of an avocado (about 1 ounce)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • White Lemon Balsamic Vinegar, optional

In a small bowl, mash the avocado and set aside.
In a separate bowl, stir together the ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt & pepper to taste.

To assemble, spread your toast with the avocado, layer on the lemon-y ricotta followed by slices of the egg. Sprinkle with more salt & pepper to taste and a drizzle of balsamic.

Serve with a side of fruit for a complete meal.

Nutrition: 260 calories, 26g carbs, 11g fat, 17g protein,

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Grassroots & Green Juice

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While working in NYC, I discovered this little gem of a health bar, D’Vida, hidden inside the Credit Suisse building in the Flatiron District.  One of my favorite morning treats was to stop into D’Vida for a green juice and one of their breakfast bars – The Grassroots Bar.  

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Their breakfast bars were by no means considered “healthy,” but half a bar paired with juice was the perfect balance for breakfast.  I loved these bars, they were buttery (yeah, I said buttery) and sweetened with a hefty amount of brown sugar.  They were also balanced (sorta) – with oatmeal, zucchini, carrots, and raisins.  I loved these bars, so much so, that I was  very specific about which bar I chose from the case: it had to be a bar without corners and cut from the middle of the pan, relatively large compared to the others (since I was only eating half that day), and the most “square-like” I could find.

I begged the D’Vida employees to divulge the name of the bakery that made their bars, but no matter whom I asked, I was told the bars were made exclusively for D’Vida and the bakery would NOT be revealed.  Determined to recreate the bars at home, I hunted down Grassroots Bar recipes online.  After the trial and FAIL of multiple recipes, I knew the only way to have these bars at home would be through some experimental baking on my own.

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Luckily for me, D’Vida oh, so nicely provides the nutritional information for all of their baked goods, including the complete ingredient list! On one of my final mornings in NYC, I stopped into D’Vida, order my usual, and requested to see the nutritional information for the Grassroots Bar.  With a few quick snaps of my phone, I had the complete list of ingredients and just for good measure, I snapped a pic of my favorite juice combo, too – The Glow.

After settling into life in Austin, I began my experimental baking: Mission Grassroots.  Luckily for me, the experimental phase only lasted 3 rounds.  On the third trial, I successfully recreated a Grassroots bar that satisfied my craving for D’Vida’s original and even healthified the bar some in the process.  

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Yes, these bars have zucchini & carrots baked into them but if M<3 loves them – and by love, I mean eats them on an almost daily basis as his pre-gym, morning snack – then they’re good –  because this boy hates vegetables.

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ImageGrassroots Bars
(Adapted from D’Vida)

  • 1/4 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded zucchini, drained*
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots, drained*
  • 1/3 cup raisins, craisins, or dried tart cherries (or mixture)

 *After shredding, place the zucchini and carrots in a few paper or dish towels and press out all liquid.  Once pressed, then measure a 1/2 cup of each.  Pre-shredded or matchstick carrots can also be substituted and will not require pressing.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugars.  Once creamed, add in the eggs and vanilla, mixing until combined.  Gradually add in the flour-oats mixture until thoroughly incorporated.

 Remove from mixer, and by hand, fold in the zucchini, carrots, and raisins.

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Once combined, pour into a a greased 9×13 pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Allow bars to cool completely before slicing.
(Makes 24 bars)

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ImageAnd just in case you want to re-create my favorite Green Juice…

 The Glow

  •  1 apple
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 1-2 large stalks of kale
  • 1 large handful spinach
  • 1 small handful parsley
  • 1 lemon, peeled

Place all ingredients into a juicer and juice. Pair with a Grassroots bar for a complete, well balanced breakfast!

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