Colombian Adventure: Part I

Happy Happy Friday!

It’s time to begin the big Bogotá, Colombia recap! I was going to try to fit it all into one post but it was nearly impossible, so I’m going to break it down into two posts: the first half of the trip and the second half of the trip. I weeded through the photos to condense as much as possible, yet still fill you in on the good stuff. It wasn’t easy, but here’s what I came up with.

The first half of our Colombian adventure

Upon arrival in Bogotá, we met up with my brother Jeff who lives and works in the city and is also fluent in spanish. He had to finish up a couple of things at work, so Dana and I spent a couple of hours relaxing, and I talked myself into a 25-minute yoga session. Denise Austin really makes you work.

Later in the evening, our gracious host was home so we cleaned up and headed out to meet up with some friends for dinner.

The restaurant we went to was called Carta Central and their specialty is ceviche. Jeff said we had to experience their ceviche.

We ordered a couple of appetizers: one was fried seafood (calamari, shrimp, etc.) and the other was ceviche served with avocados. I snapped photos of both of them but they turned out to be pretty hideous, so they got the “x”.

I’m not a huge “fishy-fish” person meaning I don’t like my fish to taste fishy, and I’m weird about textures when it comes to seafood too, so I went the safer route and chose a shrimp ceviche where the shrimp are fully cooked. This particular dish came in a light cream sauce with plantains and chives. It was awesome! My first experience with ceviche was definitely a good one.

It was super dark in the restaurant so I apologize for the terrible flash on this bad boy but you can at least get an idea of my delicious dish.

Here is our wonderful group at dinner…

After dinner we walked back to Jeff’s place and crashed. We needed our rest for the adventures of tomorrow.

Saturday in Bogotá

In the morning we walked over to a restaurant called Bagatelle for some breakfast. Colombia is known for their amazing juices so Dana and I split a guanabana mandarin juice (on the left) and Jeff got pineapple juice with mint. Both were excellent and so refreshing!

I love all of the fresh herbs used in Colombia. It inspires me to want to try to grow a mint plant in my house this winter. Is that possible? Any thoughts?

For breakfast I ordered some type of egg souffle. I was challenged each time we went out to eat considering I couldn’t understand half of the menu. I took spanish back in middle school and freshman year of high school, and I still remember some vocab, but not enough to decipher over the content of the menus and be 100% sure of my decision. 🙂 Also, I didn’t want to bother my brother or Dana each time it came down to it since they were trying to decide on their order as well. I did my best, and the boys (and Ana) helped me too.

Back to this egg dish…what they do is mix the egg whites with parmesan cheese and they whip them up and bake them so it turns into a souffle and in the middle of the puffy mass are two runny yolks. It looked like a TON of food when it was brought to the table, but it was actually very light, yet still filling. Again, the power of eggs and their satiety rate I tell ya.

After breakfast, Jeff, Ana, Dana and I made our way out to explore the city. Our first stop was taking a gondola up to the top of a mountain to visit Monserrate which is a beautiful church in the mountains.

Did I mention I’m claustrophobic? I was happy the packed gondola ride was a short one.

The stunning views on top of the mountain…

The entrance to the market area…

And the market where I tried ants for the first time and the last time. Ants are a delicacy in Colombia. There are only two regions in Colombia where they find these ants. They fry them and salt them and I have also heard they come in chocolate-covered, and people eat them. When in Rome…I tried some ants.

Okay, I tried a single ant. It tasted like a salty dirty soy nut. I may have preferred chocolate covered? I am proud of myself for trying it but am happy to say I never have to do that again.

After our mountain adventure, we walked over to La Candelaria which is a historic area in downtown Bogotá. We all shared a bag of freshly fried plantain chips which were SO good.

The side streets were lined with small cafes and restaurants. We stopped into one and ordered an authentic tamale which we all split.

Pretty tasty!

Next stop, empanadas. Tamales and empanadas were two things on my list of foods to try while in Bogotá.

They were pretty good but not as good as a homemade version a Colombian friend of mine makes. 😉

We ended up having a snacky lunch with the plantain chips, the tamale, and empanadas which I actually prefer to one big meal. That way I am able to try more foods and not be completely stuffed.

I bought a sweet treat while we were at the tamale place. I am not 100% sure what it’s made of but I do know the outside is candied guava. The inside is sort of like a thick caramel. I really enjoyed this guy.

I’m going to stop there and save Saturday evening-Monday for the next Bogotá post. I am having so much fun reliving the memories! We seriously had such an incredible time and were able to see so much of the city in such a short period of time.

More to come soon!

Have a wonderful day my friends!



Continue Reading Colombian Adventure: Part I

Guest Post: Favorite Soup & Chili Recipes

Hello, hello to all of Melanie’s awesome readers!

My name is Courtney and I write the blog Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life. I’m 28, a former elementary school teacher (you can read about that here if you’d like) and currently running my own online personal training business, Courtney’s Total Body Wellness.

I live up in Upstate, NY with my husband Jay and my kitty, Cody. Most of the time, if I’m not working on creating personal training plans, you’ll most likely find me blogging, baking goodies in the kitchen, or spending time with some of my favorite friends and family.


I was so honored when Melanie asked me to guest post for her while she’s away in Colombia (how fun is THAT?!) that I couldn’t resist.

I know that Melanie tends to stick with mostly gluten-free choices when it comes to food, so I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite soup and chili recipes with you all today. Not only are they perfect for the fall (and quickly approaching, winter) weather, but they’re also gluten free. Win-win, right? Right!

First is my Pumpkin Black Bean Soup. I made this for the first time last year and have made it quite a few times ever since.


I actually just bought all of the ingredients to make it again…I’m just waiting for the leftovers in my fridge to clear out so I have room. Oy vey.

Another favorite of mine is this Light ‘n Easy Cincinnati Chili. I LOVE this chili because it’s slightly different from most other chili’s I’ve had, thanks to a subtly sweet flavor from the cinnamon in the recipe.


I serve it on top of spaghetti squash for a lightened up version of the real thing (which is usually served on pasta).

Last up is my Spinach Lentil Soup. It may not photograph well, but I promise you…it’s delicious.


I actually really enjoy scooping up this soup with some crackers or tortilla chip “scoops” since it’s a little thicker. Either way, it’s awesome, and it makes a huge batch too, so you’ll have plenty of leftovers.

Hopefully you’ve found something that sparked your interest here, so feel free to check out the recipes, and I hope you love them all as much as I do!

Thanks again to the lovely Melanie for allowing me to invade her space today. clip_image005

Continue Reading Guest Post: Favorite Soup & Chili Recipes

Curry Squash & Lentil Stew

Guess what I did again on Wednesday night? I got my dance on at my old dance studio! For anyone who may have missed it, you can catch a little blurb about my dance journey if you click right here. Since I was sick last week I didn’t make it to class, but was able to go this week and it felt GREAT. I am really feeling the aftermath of it. My body is screaming. I love it.

Onto Thursday…

Lately I have been making myself a breakfast smoothie to enjoy on the ride to work. Yesterday I threw together what was sure to be a delicious smoothie. In the mix: cherries, blueberries, banana, coconut almond milk, and hemp protein powder.I gave it the standard whirl in the blender, poured it into my to-go cup, and made my way to work.

I was so looking forward to this smoothie but to my dismay there was some crunchy bits that kept coming through my straw. I thought it was just a fluke and maybe it was a bit of cherry skin that hadn’t quite pureed completely, so I kept sipping. More and more hard little bits. I came to the conclusion that it had to have been a cherry pit that was accidentally missed. So much for my breakfast smoothie.

I made a pit stop at the gas station for an impromptu banana and string cheese. Carbs and protein. I did my best given my time constraint and options available.

Enough of the smoothie rant. Lunch was great. I made myself a bowl of shredded chicken (crock pot style), peas, and avocado. I seasoned it all with salt and pepper and called it a protein packed bowl of goodness. Alongside the chicken I had an apple and carrot sticks and some chocolate chips and peanut butter for dessert.

After work my body was seriously sore. Dance really kicked my rear. I wanted to get some type of physical activity so I opted for yoga. The particular OnDemand yoga session was about 25 minutes long and focused on ab strengthening. It was a doozy and I mean that in a good kind of way. It was a “beginner” level but I would not have categorized it as such. Intermediate would be more appropriate. I’m not that out of shape.


We still had a few varieties of squash lying around from our last trip to the farmer’s market. Actually, that’s not true. The squash on the left is now gone. I ate half of it a couple of weeks ago. It was okay but nothing to write home about. 😉 So that means I still had a spaghetti squash and a buttercup squash to work with.

I made a quick scan of the cupboards and then got creative in the crock pot. I threw together brown lentils, chickpeas, cooked and cubed buttercup squash, chicken broth, and other spices (recipe below). I let this simmer on low for 6 hours, covered; stirring occasionally.

After it was done mingling, I ladled it into my pretty blue ceramic bowl from our wedding, and topped the stew with fresh chopped cilantro and chopped unsalted peanuts.

The stew turned out so great! The flavors all worked together so nicely and the dish was hearty, warm, and comforting. I’m pretty sure this was my first time ever cooking with lentils and it was my first time working with buttercup squash. Double score! I have lots of lentils leftover and will definitely be using more of them in my future. I am thinking lentil sloppy joes.

Here is the recipe for ya and my inspiration came from Eating Well.

Curry Squash & Lentil Stew
Cuisine: NOTE: To make SCD legal, remove chickpeas and add in your favorite SCD legal white bean instead
4 servings
  • 2 cups buttercup squash, cooked, and cubed
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ¾ cup chickpeas
  • ¾ cup brown lentils
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup no added sugar spaghetti sauce*
  • 2 cups chicken broth**
  • 1 tsp. dried ginger
  • ¾ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. curry powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • *Tomato paste can be substituted; you would need about 1 Tbsp.
  • **Vegetable broth can be used if cooking vegetarian.
  1. Place all ingredients except peanuts and cilantro into slow cooker.
  2. Cover and set on low for 6 hours; stirring occasionally.
  3. Ladle stew into bowls and top with peanuts and cilantro.

 Exciting News

I mentioned in my last post that I would be traveling out of the country in less than two weeks. It’s reveal time. The destination….

Bogota, Colombia!

Dana and I are going to visit my brother Jeff who lives and works out there. I am so insanely excited and can’t believe it’s so soon! I can’t wait to spend time with him, meet his friends, see where he lives, and learn more about Colombia (and hopefully drink some really great coffee and eat delicious chocolate). That is my fun news! I will be snapping lots of photos to share with you all when I get back.


Anyone else thrilled that it’s Friday? I can’t hide my enthusiasm. Apparently it’s strong coffee Friday too. Usually it’s me that accidentally  makes the coffee a little too strong, but this week the finger points elsewhere. Maybe that’s why I’m extra enthusiastic this morning.

We have plans to celebrate mom’s birthday this weekend. It’s a special year for her. We will be hosting dinner over at our house on Saturday night. I have a great menu planned and am excited to have some of the family over. More on that later gators.

Have a super Friday friends! xoxo. I hope this enthusiasm rides out all day.

Continue Reading Curry Squash & Lentil Stew