Paleo Hot Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Happy December, sweet friends!

MAN, has it been a while…almost a month since my last blog post! To be honest, I’m still trying to catch up with life, but I’m almost there 😉 The holidays always feel a little bit go-go-go, even though I feel we should be slowing down right about now!

Well, I’m making an effort to be more present, and it started with that beautiful first snowfall yesterday! Waking up on Saturday to snow falling fast to the ground made me feel all of the holiday feels.

Cue the Pandora Christmas Radio, the 25 Days of Christmas movie marathon, hot cocoa, and cookie baking galore while admiring that beautiful rainbow colored Christmas tree in the corner of our Brooklyn apartment. Oh, and we can’t forget are two sweet kitties, Kosmo and Nala, batting around the ornaments (thank goodness they’re so cute because it’s been a mess cleaning up after them haha!).

And so, these beauties were born.

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Paleo Nut-free Hot Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies! I really don’t like saying that they’re for a specific diet (because they’re for everyone!) and I don’t follow a specific protocol myself- I just eat what feels good to me and leave it at that! That being said, I do want everyone to feel comfortable coming to my blog and finding a recipe that everyone can eat. Unfortunately, our food system is set up right now to describe who can eat what, and saying that they’re paleo is a heck of a lot easier than saying they’re free of everything BUT good taste (which they’re actually chock full of!).

So maybe a better name for them is simply Hot Chocolate Cookies and you can read about which ingredients they use below:

Coconut Flour

Cacao Powder

Eggs 

Ghee

Cinnamon

Sea Salt 

Coconut Butter

That’s it! I don’t use any sweetener except for cinnamon or this stevia (because it’s actually the ground of green leaf plant rather than a white processed chemical) in baking because of Jared’s diet (he struggled with chronic Lyme, so he was following an AIP-type diet for a while! But added back in cacao because #chocolate), but honestly once your taste buds have adapted, you really don’t need it.

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So let’s stop talking about what these cookies are free of and rather what they’re FULL of: rich chocolatey gooeyness, coconutty sweetness, and buttery flakiness. Aka an orgasm in a cookie. Yeah, I went there.

They’re perfect for a cookie exchange or holiday party! Let me know if you make them and tag me in your post using #iyamlove J

Happy Baking!

Hot Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Makes 16 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic coconut flour
  • ½ cup melted Fourth and Heart vanilla ghee (or regular ghee/coconut oil!)
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup organic cacao powder
  • 1 heaping tsp organic cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup organic coconut butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together organic coconut flour, cacao powder, cinnamon and sea salt.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, beat together eggs and melted ghee.
  4. Fold in wet ingredients to dry and combine completely.
  5. Roll into small balls and lightly press your thumb into the middle to create a thumbprint.
  6. Place on cookie sheet and repeat for the remainder of the batter.
  7. Place cookie sheet in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and fill the thumbprint with ½ tsp of coconut butter each.
  9. Place cookie sheet back in oven for 5 minutes.
  10. Let cool on cookie rack.

 

Paleo Pumpkin Sweet Potato Brownies

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, ghoulish friends!

From September till December is my absolute favorite time of year. Check out my line up:

September: My birthday!

October: Halloween (you better believe I’m playing a classic kid’s Halloween movie every night of October)

November: Thanksgiving (give me alllllll the pie)

December: Christmas (cue cookie baking, caroling, Christmas tree hunting, all of the classic holiday movie watching, and cheer)

Not a bad way to end the year, right? As you probably could tell, I’m very much about the seasonal recipes. Pumpkins, apples, pears, sweet potatoes, squash, anything to get me into that holiday spirit.

Of course, I couldn’t just go without posting a recipe on Halloween! And if you know me at all, you know that there are a few things I love very dearly in life: sweet potatoes, chocolate, and coconut. Well, I might have just done something genius. It has to be my favorite fall recipe yet. Paleo Pumpkin Sweet Potato Brownies.

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Yeah, I know. They’re gooey, pumpkiny, chocolatey, spicey, and oh so cozy. Here’s all you need:

Baked sweet potatoes (skin removed)

Pumpkin Purée (not pumpkin pie filling)

Cacao Powder

Grass-fed ghee/coconut oil 

Coconut flour

Pumpkin Pie Spice or Cinnamon (I like Primal Palate’s blend-not sponsored, I just love them!).

Coconut Butter

Cage-free Organic Eggs

That’s it! No added sweetener (trust me, coconut butter and sweet potato are sweet enough so you can get the full flavor profile without being blinded by sweet overload!).

I first started with the brownie layer, and then moved on to the pumpkin layer, but feel free to switch them around or make a swirl! I highly recommend drizzling with a little extra Eating Evolved Midnight Dark Chocolate because you can never have too much 😉

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Check out the recipe below, and tell me: what are you being for Halloween?

Paleo Pumpkin Sweet Potato Brownies

Serves 9-12

Ingredients:

Brownie Layer:

  • 1 baked sweet potato, skin removed
  • 2 cage-free organic eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp grass fed ghee, melted
  • 1/3 cup coconut butter, melted
  • 2 tsp Primal Palate Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
  • ½ cup raw cacao powder

Pumpkin Layer:

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 cage-free organic eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut butter, melted
  • 2 tsp Primal Palate Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

Directions:

Brownie Layer:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Grease a 9×9 baking pan with 1 tbsp of melted ghee. Any leftover ghee pour into the mixing bowl.
  3. Mash 1 cooked sweet potato in the mixing bowl with the leftover ghee.
  4. Mix the eggs and coconut butter until well combined.
  5. Add coconut flour, cacao powder, and spice blend and stir to combine.
  6. Pour into the 9×9 baking pan and set aside.

Pumpkin Layer:

  1. In a medium-mixing bowl, combine pumpkin puree with eggs and coconut butter.
  2. Once well combined, mix in coconut flour and spice blend.
  3. Pour pumpkin layer over the brownie layer in the 9×9 baking pan.
  4. Place pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
  6. Toppings: Drizzle with chocolate, sprinkle with cacao nibs, or smear some nut butter on top! Enjoy!

Apple Pie Paleo Oats (Appaleoats)

Goes apple picking one weekend. Comes home the proud new mama of 5 lbs of organic apples.

Yes, 5 lbs.

Needless to say, I’ve been on an apple-recipe marathon since Saturday, and I don’t see it stopping any time soon!

One of the recipes I decided to whip up is all sorts of deliciousness snuggled into a bowl of cozy fall flavors. You ready for this? Appaleoats (a.k.a. apple + paleo + oats!).

Yep, you heard it right! Apple crisp in the form of paleo oats (and yes, that means there are no actual oats in there!), and you’re going to want to make this ASAP because I’m already on to seconds!

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All you need are the following:

Organic apple

 Organic Cinnamon/Apple Pie Spice (I love Primal Palate’s blend, it’s all organic and absolutely delicious!)

Organic Grass-fed Ghee/Organic Coconut Oil (if you’re not vegan, I highly recommend using ghee, it gives it that rich, buttery taste)

Organic Coconut Flour

Organic Free-Range Egg

That’s it! Simple, right? No added sugars, gluten, fake shiz, etc. I like to accommodate everyone’s gut 🙂

Now, you may have noticed that I’ve been saying “organic” a lot in my posts lately. I will dive deeper into this in a post later on (look out for Monday!), but do what you can! It actually can be cheaper to shop organic if you’re going to your local farmer’s market (just make sure they’re certified or use organic practices). I do believe it is better for us and better for the environment, but I understand that it’s not better for everyone’s banking accounts at times. Another great option is Trader Joe’s- their organic selection is very price conscious (except for avocados- get those at Whole Foods because theirs are now cheaper than Trader Joe’s conventional ones!). BUT I digress…I’ll be talking about this on Friday!

Now back to this deliciousness. Definitely prep the apples the night before if you’re short on time in the morning (takes about 30 minutes for the apples, 10 minutes for the “oatmeal”), but if you have some time, the fresher the better!

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Appaleoats

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 organic apple, skinned
  • 2 tsp organic cinnamon/apple spice blend, separated
  • 2 tbsp organic grass-fed ghee/organic coconut oil, separated
  • 2 tbsp organic coconut flour
  • 1 organic free-range egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Chop up the skinned apple and place into a small baking pan.
  3. Sprinkly 1 tsp of the cinnamon/spice blend onto the apples and add 1 tbsp of ghee on top.
  4. Place the baking pan into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, occasionally tossing the apples every 10 minutes or so until done.
  5. Once baked, remove the apple from the oven and mash with it fork. Next, add in the remaining spice, egg, and coconut flour, and mix thoroughly.
  6. Heat a medium skillet with the remaining ghee.
  7. Add apple batter to the pan and cook much like scrambled eggs.
  8. Once the mixture looks crumbly/not so wet, transfer to a bowl and add your favorite toppings!

Cinnamon Bun Smoothie Bowl

The leaves are turning. The days are growing shorter. The air has that lovely earthy aroma that warms you from the inside out. Anddddd it’s still hot as summer in NYC.

They ain’t joking about that Indian Summer. It’s a thing!

So while I’m over here trying to build a leaf pile and go frolicking in my flannel and booties, the weather has some other ideas. But I believe you can have your cake and eat it too (actually, if you want to get real precise here, the phrase was originally “you can’t eat your cake and have it too,” but somewhere down the line of language evolution, the two clauses switched…linguistics nerd, can’t help it).

Enter in the cinnamon bun smoothie bowl. All of the delicious and warming flavors of fall in cooling and refreshing smoothie form. Take that, 80-degree heat wave!

Have this bowl as a snack, or throw in some extra collagen to make it a meal, and you’ve covered all your bases!

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What’s in this bowl, you might ask? Cauliflower may think it’s the main star, but I’d say that coconut butter and cinnamon also share the lead role. I also added some sprouted almond milk for extra creaminess (coconut milk would work beautifully here as well), and marine collagen for some staying power. Topped with a few of my seasonal favorites too: roasted acorn squash, pomegranate arils, pecan butter (I love Georgia Grinder’s pecan butter!), and pumpkin seeds of course!

So whip up this smoothie, cool down, and grab a seat as we wait for the crisp autumn weather!

Cinnamon Bun Smoothie Bowl

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup organic steamed then frozen cauliflower
  • ½ tsp organic cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp organic coconut butter (I love Artisana Organics’ coconut butter- the best quality ingredients in all of their butters!)
  • 1 cup sprouted organic almond or coconut milk
  • 1 scoop Wild-Caught Marine Collagen (use code: “bananadiaries” for a discount at Further Food for your collagen!)
  • Optional: ¼ frozen banana or ½ tsp ground stevia leaf (it should be green) for sweetness
  • Toppings: roasted acorn squash, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, your favorite nut butter

Directions:

  • Place cauliflower and milk in a blend and process until completely smooth.
  • Add in cinnamon, coconut butter, collagen, and sweeteners if needed.
  • Blend until completely mixed.
  • Serve and top with your favorite additions!

 

Homemade Chocolate Bark/Chips

If anyone ever asks why I’m so dang happy all the time, I always point to chocolate. I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate? Okay, I’ve actually met a handful of people in my lifetime that don’t like the beautifully smooth and rich cocoa-y substance, but hey, celebrate those differences, right?

Plus, that just means more chocolate for me, and I can’t complain about that 😉

One thing I have realized as my chocolaty taste buds have refined is that grocery-store chocolate just isn’t up to snuff! It’s very hard to find a chocolate that doesn’t have added sugar or sweeteners, fillers like soy lecithin, milk, corn, etc.

I just want the raw, real chocolate. Is that too much to ask?

So I went and I created my own chocolate!

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Yes, my own chocolate. And it’s really not that hard, I promise! You really just need two to three ingredients (depending on how hardcore you want to go with your chocolate…I’m a 100% kinda gal!).

Organic Cacao Butter

Organic Cacao Powder

Optional:

Powdered Stevia leaf (that’s green, not white) or Raw, Local Honey (cannot stress the local part enough!)

That’s it, my friends! Just those ingredients! I’ve been playing around with molds too for different shapes- you can get really creative with it or just stick with the bark! A classic is always good 🙂

Happy chocolate eating, friends!

Homemade Chocolate Bark/Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic cacao butter
  • 1-1 ½ cups organic cacao powder (the more powder you use, the chocolatier it gets!)
  • Optional: 2 tsp powdered full leaf stevia or 2 tsp raw local organic honey

Directions:

  1. Line a walled cookie sheet or large loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Fill a medium size pot with water (make sure the bowl you use to mix the chocolate can fit on top without sinking in- you want the water in the pot to cover about an inch of the bottom of the bowl) and heat until it’s just about to boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Place your bowl on top of the pot and melt the cacao butter into the bowl (it won’t touch the water, the hot water is just providing heat so that the cacao butter can melt)
  4. Once the cacao butter is completely melted, stir in the cacao powder and sweetener if you choose.
  5. Pour the mixture into the loaf plan and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, break bark into chunks and store in the freezer. It can also be stored at room temp, but I feel that it tastes better frozen!

Paleo Coconut Sweet Potato Brownies

Fudgey. Gooey. Chocolatey. Coconutty. Sweet Potato Brownies.

Mic-drop.

They’re that good, I swear. And with only six ingredients (most, if not all, of which I bet you have on hand already), you have zero excuses as to why you have to miss out on this deliciousness!

Okay, maybe some if you’re allergic or don’t like sweet potatoes (in which case, we gotta talk, my friend).

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Hear me out when I say you won’t even believe these are sweet potato brownies. Heck, I bet you’d say these taste like they’d be in a bakery! That’s how confident I am in the decadence that is the Coconut Sweet Potato Brownie.

Okay, now that I have your attention, you’re probably thinking, just get to the recipe already! Well, let me tell you the ingredients first:

Baked sweet potatoes (duh).

Raw, organic cacao powder (even more duh)

Organic Coconut Butter (I highly suggest using the unsweetened Roasted Coconut Butter from Eating Evolved)

Free-range eggs

Organic Coconut Oil

Organic Coconut Flour

That’s it. You also might be thinking, wait, where’s the sugar? Maple syrup? Honey? None. You don’t need it! The sweet potatoes combined with the coconut butter naturally have a sweet taste so it’s just enough to make it taste like the most decadent piece of dark chocolate fudge you’ve ever had. Good luck stopping at one, because I sure as hell didn’t.

So give it a whirl! And if you’re a coconut-fiend like me, drizzle some more coconut butter on top 😉 Enjoy, sweet friends!

Paleo Coconut Sweet Potato Brownies

Serves 6-9

Ingredients:

  • 1 baked sweet potato, skin removed
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp raw, organic cacao powder
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • ½ cup organic coconut butter, melted (I like Eating Evolved Unsweetened Roasted Coconut Butter or Artisana Raw Organic Coconut Butter)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Mash sweet potato in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Fold in eggs (much like my waffle recipes) and mix completely.
  4. Stir in the rest of the ingredients (coconut butter, coconut oil, and coconut flour) and mix completely.
  5. Pour into a 9×9 baking pan, greased with coconut oil/ghee.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, checking with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes.
  8. *Option* Drizzle extra coconut butter on top!

 

 

Italy Recap

Hello, beautiful humans! How is everyone? For me, life has been a bit of a world wind lately, but I’m not complaining. It’s been an incredible and motivating time. Last week, I took a trip to Italy with my sister, and just wow. I found love, and it’s with a country. I hadn’t been to Italy since my junior year of college (two years ago), where I studied art in Florence.

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Being back was like stepping through a time portal. Has that ever happened to you? Where places and faces and smells and views bring you back to a certain period in your life, and all of the sudden, it’s like nothing has changed. Weird. I guess Italy has that effect on people (or at least me). I was instantly reminded of the person I was when I first stepped off that plane in Rome back in the fall of 2014. Some of the best memories I have were from abroad; I made lifelong friendships and chipped away even further to the person that I truly am.

Of course, there were good and bad times abroad, and being back last week, reminded me of all of it. It was surprisingly healing in a way; while I gained a new confidence in myself studying abroad, I forgot that there was still much insecurity when I was there. It’s easy to look back at a memory through rose-colored glasses, and I definitely thought of my time abroad that way. Being back reminded me of those not so stellar times.

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But I’m glad I went back last week. Though I felt the happy and sad emotions, the confused and amazed, and the angered and at ease while walking the streets of Florence, it was also a beautiful indication of how much I had grown since then. I thought I knew myself then, but I feel even more at home with the person I am today. I guess that’s life though, right? It’s a constant journey. There’s always more to learn!

Anyways! I’m sure you didn’t expect a whole reflection, and just wanted to get to the good stuff: things to do and where to eat! Because when in Italia, si fa come gli italiani 😉

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Okay so here we go! A list of place to see, things to do, and where to eat in both Florence and Rome!

Florence:

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Il Duomo

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‘Nuff said. This place is legit. Absolutely stunning. Bonus: you can also attend Mass on Sundays (held in Italian). Going to church in one of the most famous cathedrals in the world? Yeah, that sounds pretty chill.

Il Museo delle Capelle Medicee

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Seriously, this place is underrated. Located next to San Lorenzo Market, it is one of the best kept secrets of the city. Not a lot of tourists mark this on their maps as places to go, but it’s absolutely stunning inside. You get to see the tombs of the Medici family, one of the most powerful families in Italian history- without crowds. If that doesn’t entice you, then I don’t know what will.

Palazzo Piti/Boboli Gardens

Basically the Versailles of Florence (though my Italian friends would be very offended if I called it that because its meaning/reputation is nowhere near that of Versaille), Palazzo Piti used to be a palace owned by Lucas Pitti. Absolutely stunning inside, filled with beautiful art, and just outside is the Boboli garden. Located on the otherside of the Arno (l’altroarno), it’s a must-see.

Piazzale Michelangelo

You know those famous shots of Florence that everyone always sees on a postcard? Well, this is where they’re taken. A stunning panorama of all of Florence- the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, San Lorenzo, Palazzo Vecchio, etc. To get there, however, there is some serious hiking up a hill of steps, so I definitely recommend refueling with some gelato and pizza afterwards! 😉

San Lorenzo/Mercato Centrale

This is where both the Leather Market and Mercato Centrale are located, and it is a must! Literally, one of my favorite activities is bargaining with the leather dealers (I once got a 500 euro leather jacket down to 80 euro!). Once you’ve bought yourself a leather jacket, wallet, gloves, bracelet, and the like, you have to check out the Mercato Centrale! Below is basically a standard (but beautiful) food market and above is an array of different eateries to get fresh pasta, pizza, gelato, pastries, and coffee (think of it like Eataly!).

Il Parione

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Oh the memories at this place. Home to some of the best pasta I’ve ever eaten! The best part is that the people treat you like family. One time while abroad, my friends and I had made a reservation here, and the wait was a little long, so the owner surprised us by bringing out some crostini on the house. They also have gluten free penne pasta! Just ask, and they’ll make it any style for you!

Gusta Pizza/Gustaosteria

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If you’re in Florence, you have to go to one of the Gusta restaurants. For pizza, I’d check out Gusta Pizza, but to sit outside in Santo Spirito while dining on some amazing pasta and prosciutto e melone, I’d say Gustaosteria is where it’s at!

Venchi

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Though it’s a chain, it’s an Italian chain with some of the best gelato in Italy. Try the Cioccolatto fondente with the cremino (basically vanilla gelato with a thick layer of nutella). It’s incredible.

Gelateria dei Neri

We happened to be wandering around random streets (there’s no logic to how the streets are designed in Florence, be prepared!), and stumbled upon this magical little gelateria tucked away on Via dei Neri. It’s far from the touristy sections, so be prepared to speak some Italian and taste some amazing homemade gelato!

Il Latini

This is where wine is cheaper than water (okay basically all of Italy is like that), and it’s not a bad thing. Very meat heavy, but amazing. The house wine for a big casket bottle is only 7 euro. Also, not many tourists know about it, so when you go, you’ll feel like you’re really eating like an Italian (psst, if you don’t speak Italian, it might be good to have Google Translate up haha! But it’s worth the experience!). When in Italy, do as the Italians!

 

Rome:

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Il Vaticano

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Need I say more? The Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and so much more. This place is amazing. Be aware though, you must have your shoulders and knees covered! It’s a rule out of respect for the Vatican.

La Fontana di Trevi

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Yes, like from Lizzy McGuire! Okay, so I didn’t get my Lizzy moment, but this place is GORGEOUS! It’s definitely a must see when in Rome! Plus you have so many great restaurants surrounding you too! All of it is in walking distance from the Colosseo and Roman Forum as well.

Il Colosseo/ Roman Forum

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When you go to the Colosseo (Coliseum), I definitely recommend getting a walking tour. It usually takes about 45-60 minutes, and you learn so. much. It’s only about 30 euro per person as well (and you don’t tip- that goes for everything! Don’t tip at restaurants, for services, or anything! It’s considered rude in Europe!). The history of the Coliseum is so rich and deep, and you start to understand more how Italy got to be.

La Soffitta Renovatio

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You guys. This was recommended to me by Jackie from Gluten Free Follow Me, and OH. MY. GOODNESS. Literally the best pizza I’ve had in Italy. And they can do everything gluten free! Pasta, bread, pizza, regular dishes, you name it! Plus everyone who works there is absolutely hysterical and so sweet! If you speak a little bit of Italian, try speaking with them and they’ll appreciate it so much!

Il Chianti

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Just past the Trevi Fountain, this little restaurant is perfect for pasta and people watching haha! My sister and I sat outside, chatted with other restaurant goers (both Italians and other Europeans!), and enjoyed some pasta and wine while watching the skies darken. It was beautiful. Good news: they do gluten free spaghetti any style sauce!

Venchi

They’re found all over Italy! Seriously go.

Il Gelato di San Crispino

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When the line is too long for Venchi, head to il Gelato di San Crispino (just a few steps from Il Chianti), and be prepared for nutella heaven! They have so many different chocolate hazelnut combos (I thought there was just nutella but apparently I’m wrong haha!). It’s absolutely delicious!

 

So there ya have it! A semi-brief rundown on my top Italy go-to’s and my experiences there. While it’s a long travel, it’s worth every minute of it. I’m already itching to get back!