Sunday, May 26, 2019

Falling in LOVE with Austin in the Springtime

Falling in LOVE with Austin in the Springtime

By Kat Thomas, Edible Skinny

“People don't live in Austin to work; they work there to live.”
--Robert Rodriguez.

My entire life I had never visited Texas, and in the last four years I’ve been lucky enough to now drive across the state seven times. That being said I never really got Texas... I always thought of it more of a character of itself than anything else.

That was until I found myself in Austin in mid April.  All my previous visits to the state had been during the summer, so SUPER DUPER hot and dusty, but southeastern Texas in April.  Simply Amazing!!!

Austin, Texas’ capital, fully embraces the slogan of keeping itself weird (along with Portland).  Austin is also one of the most nicknamed cities in America with some of the more unusual including Waterloo and the City of Violet Crown.  Austin is also the live music capital of the world (which makes it a GREAT location for SXSW one of the biggest music conferences…).  It’s population hovers around 1 million people so it’s got a small town feel with big city culture.

While in the ATX city I crashed with a friend in the adorable area of South Congress.  This vibrant neighborhood south of Lady Bird Lake is a must-stroll for visitors and a popular hangout for locals. South Congress oozes homespun character and boasts the story of Austin’s yesteryear in its boutiques, eateries, galleries and music venues.

With a slogan of “the Wood is Good” Summer Moon Coffee prides itself on wood fired roasted coffee. A style that only 1% of coffee roasters craft their beans with.  With seventeen locations they are a local fan favorite.

While chilling there with a Summer Moon (there version of a Vanilla Latte) I got to conversate with one of their managers EZ.  He explained the owners have a patent pending on the wood fired roaster.  That in 2004, inspired by the early American coffee roasters and the simplicity of their tools: brick, fire and wood, they set out to craft custom coffee roasts they could be truly proud to call their own.  The owners had to build and rebuild it 6-7 times to get to coffee roasting perfection.

EZ continued, “if you ask why they invested everything they have in 19th century technology . . . you haven’t tasted our coffee.  This is coffee unplugged.”

Later that day we headed over to Downtown Austin for the beautiful (and bootlegged according to their slogan) Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill.  This restaurant was recommended by my music industry friend who’s attended SXSW many many times and knows the skinny on The Bat City.

Our charming waiter warned us the portions were “Texas Style” aka four times the size of an entree in Los Angeles.  Which lead me to wonder how anyone makes any money in the restaurant industry in Texas?

We started the lunch off  healthy style with their Cornflake Fried Chicken Salad with Greens, Cheddar, Avocado, Tomato, Apple-Wood Smoked Bacon, and Honey Dijon Mustard.  I was the perfect balance of greens and country! ;-)

We followed this with a splitting of the Chicken Fried Steak with Chipotle Cream Gravy.  The split dishes were twice the size a normal entree on the west coast, Hey we were in the Republic of Texas.  It was everything, and more, you come to respect in deep fried Texas goodness.  Plus, since it was virtually a legal requirement to take home a doggy bag for dinner that night, and breakfast the next morning we were set for the next few meals.  We paired this with a side of Green Chile Cheddar Grits, cheesy and creamy they were the perfect Southern side dish.

After our entree our waiter sauntered up to us and delivered an some of the harshest words by Texas foodie standards: “You ladies look pretty defeated...”. Challenge accepted my Man. And thus, we ordered the establishment’s infamous Peanut Butter Mousse Pie with an Oreo Cookie Crust. The dish was featured on The Food Network, who called it “the world’s greatest peanut butter cup wrapped into a pie.”

Then it was off to do a photoshoot with the sparkly Mowgli the Dinosaur (perfect for Texas).  Mowgli the Dinosaur is a bedazzled T. Rex with 150,000 hand applied rhinestones of pure BLING!  He’s the perfect activation for the fun loving art crowd having become a mainstay at First Friday Las Vegas, the Dope Cup in the High Desert of California, the Cannabis Cups of Riverside and Sacramento, CA, private parties in Tucson, and events hosted by The Green Light District.

This photoshoot featured comedian singer Caitlin Comeskey in the Zilker Botanical Garden.  Mowgli is quite a SIGHT TO BE SEEN and everyone who encounters him wants to take a Selfie with this 67 million year old SPARKLY T. Rex! And that day was no exception as multiple frisbee golf players in the park pauses long enough to snap that shot for their Insta-Story.

The next day it was off to Houston (for the Houston Comedy Film Festival where one of my screenplays was a Finalist!), but before I hit the road I needed to duck into one more Austin coffee shop.

The slightly Southern Hipster, Radio Coffee and Beer oozed adorableness at six in the morning.  This is aggressively curated coffee!  Radio serves coffee from several roasters including Stumptown Coffee Roasters (Portland, Ore), Little City (Austin, Tx), Wild Gift (Austin, Tx).  This java joint was voted best coffeeshop by the Austin Chronicle Reader’s Poll in 2016, 2017, and 2018.  There was already a line for the food truck outside the joint.  One of the AWESOME things about this local cup of joe spot is that it’s open from 6:30 in the morning to Midnight (usually coffee shops close around 9pm…).  Oh, and they do Bluegrass every Monday night.

So here’s  to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and never being defeated by Texas portions!!!

Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Tastebuds (and Mind) Blown with a Peanut Butter Bacon Burger from Side A Brewing in La Grande, OR

Tastebuds (and Mind) Blown with a Peanut Butter Bacon Burger from Side A Brewing in La Grande, OR

By Kat Thomas, Edible Skinny

On the long long long road trip from Portland to Vegas (16 hours of solo driving...), I ended up stopping in the eastern Oregon town of La Grande.  A bit about La Grande… The population of the town hovers around 13,000 humans.  And it’s in a simply GORG area of Oregon; the town’s name comes from an early French settler, Charles Dause, who often used the phrase "La Grande" to describe the area's beauty.  

Once I realized the closest Chipotle was 120 miles away (my Go-To fast casual place), I decided to check out the restaurant in town with the best Yelp reviews (a similar move resulted in the best tacos of my life in Las Cruces, NM)!

And so I moseyed into Side A Brewing in La Grande, OR... And it was so Fucking AMAZING!!!

Side A Brewing is a Brewery located in the heart of downtown La Grande, Oregon  Set inside the iconic Historic La Grande Firehouse featuring the Eastern Oregon Fire Museum; Side A provides an atmosphere of industrial space within a piece of La Grande history.  While there, you can enjoy your dinner and beer and brush up on the history of the building, as well as the firefighters and various fires fought throughout the area.  Oh, and of course, there’s an old school firetruck!!!

But onto the food!   All I can say was I was more than surprised!!!  Side A Brewing menu was SUPER DUPER imaginative!  And also full of craft details.  The restaurant stresses locally sourced products from Eastern Oregon brands such as 6 Ranch Corriente beef, Hines Meat Co., Jen's Garden, Kneads Bakery, and Sweet Wife.

Now being in Oregon, I had to start out with a cider.  Ace Pineapple Cider was Side A’s cider flavor at the moment.  BTWs, Pineapple seems to be the cider flavor of 2019 as I had Two Towns Ciderhouse Pineapple Flavored Cider in Eugene, OR three days earlier… ;-)

It was then on to the main course where I experienced a Peanut Butter Bacon Burger.  You read that right a Peanut Butter Bacon Burger!!!

Let’s start with the meat!  6 Ranch provides Side A Brewing with locally sourced, grass-fed Corriente beef from Enterprise, OR.  Corriente beef is flavorful, lean, and nutritious.  This cattle was brought over to the Americas in 1493 from Spain and is still the closest thing to wild cattle today.  By bunching together and using minimal water while traveling across various terrain they are able to have a very light impact on the land.  The result is beef that’s out of this world.  And then top it was Spicy Peanut Butter, Bacon, Dill Pickles, Lettuce, Mayo, and a Potato Bun.  The taste was a symphony of savory flavors the likes that you’ve (probably) never tasted before.  

I got this Class A Burger with a side of Dirty Fries.  These were french fries on the next level!!!!  Made of fresh herbs, cherry peppers, Parmesan, and smoked aioli they too were AB FAB!  Truthfully I when the plate arrived I was sucked into the Dirty Fry universe for at least 8 minutes before sliding over to the main course burger!  ;-)

And because I needed more calories, I finished off the meal with a decadent slice of Triple Layer Cake from Sweet Wife Bakery.  (SWB is a from scratch bakery located in the heart of downtown Baker City Oregon.)  This hedonistic baked good was composed of two layers of Chocolate Cake with a layer of Cheesecake between.  It was then completed with a drizzling of Homemade caramel sauce made with the brewery’s Old Trav Altbier.  Can we say Yummm (with 3 Ms)!!!

So if you ever find yourself on a 16 hour solo drive from Portland to Vegas, you know the perfect place to stop for something AMAZINGLY different.  Here’s to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and Team Dirty Fries!!!

Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Meet Our Newest Edible Skinny Contributor: Letty Thomas

Meet Our Newest Edible Skinny Contributor: Letty Thomas

By Letty Thomas, Lifestyle Editor

I'm the newest contributor to the Edible Skinny blog and my name is Letty.  To give you a little background I lived in many parts of New Jersey since I was born.  After college my two daughters moved to the Golden State of California.  I enjoyed our semi-annual visits but always hoped to spend more time and life experiences with them.  I had some medical issues with my heart and emotions, resigned from a job I'd done for almost twenty years and finally found the courage and motivation to make my wish come true.

Last December my sister and I sold our homes in jersey and moved cross country with three cats and the help of my daughter.  We had two cars - most of the journey my sister and I drove the shiny red Ford Escape gifted to us by our dear Aunt Shannon and Katie drove the cat car.  We had three very large pet carriers that had transported dogs from France.  We headed west mid-December in hopes of celebrating Christmas in California.  Katie who's made it a personal goal to visit all fifty states asked that we drive through Alabama and Mississippi.

I had never been in the deep south but remembered films I watched in school about the way they treated the blacks in the 1950's and 1960's.  It turned out my favorite stop of the trip was the Mississippi River in Vicksburg MS with it's history of steam powered riverboats.  Life is funny that way.  You just need to stay open to life.  We made it for Christmas and the cats taking a few weeks vacation in Las Vegas arrived a few weeks later.  We found a cute yellow house where we all could live with a large backyard for the cats to patrol and explore.

We've been here five months and I think it was the best thing I've done in a very long time.  In many ways it's similar to NJ but in others its very different.  This winter with the
large amount of rain the hillsides have been emerald green with flower blooms popping out.  I feel like I live in the foothills of the alps.  Our small town Benicia is where the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River flow into an outer tip of the San Francisco Bay creating the Straits and the Delta.  We have an interesting mixture of ships and boats that pass by our waterfront park at the end of Main Street - car carriers from Japan, assorted freighters and tankers on their way to and from refineries and many pleasure boats under power and sail.  There is something very peaceful and spiritual I've found here.  I've even planted flowers and vegetables in our gardens and find myself singing and humming almost non-stop.

I look forward to sharing my adventures with you as I explore my new state and talk about helpful information or tidbits on many different subjects.  Let's share.

Letty Thomas was born and raised in multiple towns in NJ.  She attended college in Vermont and Connecticut.  She dreamed of working for Vogue or Glamour magazine.  Her love of salt water and boating got in the way.  She happily managed a yacht club “down the shore” for almost 20 years.  She has two grown daughters that make her smile. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Surprise to Everyone - The Emerging Creative Culture of Phoenix, AZ

A Surprise to Everyone - The Emerging Creative Culture of Phoenix, AZ

By Kat Thomas, Edible Skinny

Almost everyone in the world knows something about Arizona, and some of it is even true.
--Jim Turner

Phoenix is a surprise to everyone, or that’s what Laura from Visit Phoenix opens with as we sit down to lunch at Luci’s at The Orchard.  Sure we think we know Phoenix: home of a-thousand-and-one golf course; home of Scottsdale and its yuppie yoga wellness scene, and definitely home to its endless comparisons to Hell in the summertime (Hello 119 Degree Weather!).  

But Phoenix is also encouraging you to come and see all the other stuff.  Not the golf courses full of retirees and their motorized robot golf caddies (we really are in the future people...), but their emerging culture such as their arts district Roosevelt Row.  The craft cocktail bars, the secret speakeasies, and the microbreweries.  There’s even a guy who makes bread out of his garage (take that Portland!).

But back to Luci’s.  The restaurant is located at a one-of-a-kind atmosphere at The Orchard.  This space was a former 1920’s Citrus Farmstead (Wasser Citrus Farms) and 1950’s Citrus Nursery (Ralph’s Citrus Nursery).  Located along the Citrus Belt in North Central Phoenix, this property preserves and reuses the two existing heritage houses, converting a 1920’s home into a full service neighborhood restaurant (Pomelo) and transforming a 1960’s ranch house into a charming neighborhood market / cafĂ© (Luci’s at The Orchard) complete with ice-cream shop (Splurge).  There’s an outdoor fountain that kids run through and an outdoor space that adults sometimes get married at.  The citrus industry transformed North Central Phoenix from a barren desert to a thriving urban oasis; so in tribute, The Orchard planted desert landscapes and citrus trees around their space.  Their landmark water tower honors the canal that irrigated central Phoenix farms and still runs behind the Orchard.  The food at the cheery Luci’s was superbly healthy, with protein pump ups, acai bowls, and kombucha flowing like water!

After our meal a Luci’s, Lauren and I headed to Roosevelt Row for some A-R-T.  Phoenix has emerging “Micro Hoods,” places where you can eat, shop, and live.  For example Uptown Plaza and the emerging arts district of Roosevelt Row.  I know you might not think of Phoenix at first when it comes to art, but you should.  The Phoenix Art Museum (more on that later) is one of the best museums in the country and Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden does an Electric Desert show where they light up the local cacti and do a nighttime light show to music.

DTPHX Roosevelt Row houses immersive murals, a cacophony of coffeeshops, foodie favorites galore, and a First Friday arts night that brings it all together.   With a slogan that states, “a town that encourages participation from all five senses,” all we can say is GAME ON!

Our first culinary stop in DTPHX was locale brewery: Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company at their DTPHX Beer Garden.  This brew brand was created to celebrate hand crafted, artisanal beers that are inspired by the beautiful and diverse state of Arizona.  There enjoying a respite from the sun, I sipped on a Hibiscus Tangelo Gose, fermented in one of Wilderness’ large oak-foeders this Gose melds AZ-grown tangelos, salt, and hibiscus-berry tea into a wonderfully fruity German-inspired ale that is perfect for a beer drinker who doesn’t like a hoppy taste (Read: Yours Truly!).  Many of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company’s ideas and values are influenced by their time spent in nature.  They’re gaga about the Great Outdoors and it shows!  The company continually strive to embrace Arizona’s vast agricultural community and pursue sustainable efforts that contribute to the conservation of Arizona’s natural resources. This is evidenced by water watch signs posted throughout the brewery and their action of offering to compost napkins, condiments, and weapons (Hey, it is Arizona!).   ;-)

After that Amazingly fruity beer it was off to The Churchill, a new indoor/outdoor restaurant complex made out of shipping containers (similar to Container Park in Vegas).  On our way there we encounter Billy O. of Arizona Pedal Cab   Billy, with his 6 inch beard, is THE MAN when it comes to Peddie Cabbing it, he owns a fleet of these bike based taxis peddling the DT of PHX.

The Churchill is a Amazing space that is home to ten small local businesses all focusing their efforts on collaboration over competition, finding ways to benefit each other.  The Churchill is full of open space (for morning yoga), free WiFi, and local dishes from one-of-a-kind restaurants.  With a slogan of “Community, Creativity, Collaboration” the owners of The Churchill wanted to provide low rent so that businesses could open up their first brick-and-mortar locations.   There’s a Mexican restaurant that’s owned by a couple from Guadalajara:  the husband runs the Central Mexican Restaurant (Provecho) and wife runs a shop (Cosas) that works with artisans out of Guadalajara, Mexico to bring the vibrant culture and colors of the region to Phoenix with a wide variety of goods.  I grabbed a dinner of a Gordita (a thick pancake made from cornmeal, typically split and filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables) and Nopales (Cactus pads).  Top them with AB FAB Mango Habanero sauce for the perfect Phoenix foodie experience!

To nightcap the evening we headed over to the Phoenix Art Museum (where their middle name is Art!).  It was Pay-What-You-Wish-Wednesdays where General admission was reduced to a voluntary donation.  There we got to experience some of best installations from the Southwest’s largest art museum.   This included: “You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies,” Yayoi Kusama’s infinity mirror room inspired by a Japanese folk tale about a person in a field with 10,000 fireflies.  Another standout was Ragnar Kjartansson’s “Scandinavian Pain and Other Myths,” a multi sensory art exhibit from Iceland that explores sense of identity, melancholia, repetition, and popular culture.

And that’s that, a different side of Phoenix than you are probably are used.  So hop on a plane, car, or peddie cab, and get exploring!  Here’s to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies!

Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at

Monday, May 6, 2019

Tailored Travel Workouts with Aktiv Virtual

Tailored Travel Workouts with Aktiv Virtual 

By Omid Vojdani, Health and Wellness Editor Edible Skinny

As a personal trainer, one of my biggest pet peeves was seeing how many people would come to the gym just to do ‘cardio’ on the ellipticals or treadmill, rather than head out to the weight room. At first, I thought it was fear of injury, then I thought it was just a lack of confidence with what to do with the heavy weights. Now, I realize the reality of the situation is simple: people don’t want to have to think about exercise when they already have so many other things on their mind.

That’s where Aktiv Virtual comes in. Aktiv has partnered with over 5,000 hotels and even expanding into fitness facilities across America to take all of the guesswork out of working out. No more walking into the gym and just hitting the cardio machine for an hour. Aktiv brings a digital personal trainer to the gym space so you can get just the right workout tailored to how you’re feeling that day and your goals.

I had the chance to experience Aktiv Virtual recently at a super tech driven hotel in Menlo Park called the Park James. (I was able to sneak a peek into the rooms, and they’ve got tablets in there to order room service and everything.) Aktiv lets you choose from four different trainers to lead you through a custom workout, built around how much time you have, how you’re feeling that day, and even the type of workout you want (high intensity, or relaxation, etc).

All of the equipment I would need for a decent workout on a business trip was on the Aktiv rack, and the instructions were quite clear on what to do and when to get proper rest periods. Speaking with the CEO, Bryan Green, I was able to find out that some hotels are putting Aktiv Virtual inside some of the guests rooms. No more getting ready for the gym, going to workout, then coming back to the room and showering and changing again. With Aktiv in the room, you can just workout in whatever clothing you want.

Now, one word of caution to those of you dedicated to fitness like I am. Aktiv Virtual is not meant to replace a quality personal trainer, nor is it going to be able to take place of a good crossfit box/workout. In my experience, most of the clientele at gyms go straight for the treadmill/elliptical simply because they have no idea what to do otherwise, or simply lack the mental bandwidth on a business trip to put together a weight workout This is where Aktiv Virtual shines, filling in as a temporary trainer when people can’t afford that expertise, but want a better workout than a treadmill can provide.

As I said, Aktiv Virtual is set up in over 5,000 hotels across the country. But, what I was super excited about was these systems being present in fitness facilities as well. A gap exists between individualized personal trainer sessions and group classes; you want something custom, but don’t want to pay the high prices trainers charge. Aktiv comes in and provides custom workouts tailored to you and your mood that day, but you don’t have to pay anymore than you already are for your gym membership.

Long story short, Aktiv Virtual helps people that don’t want to think about their workout get a great workout without turning to the treadmill or elliptical. But, while it can provide an awesome weight bearing workout for most, people that already know the ins and outs of workout design might be slightly disappointed in the early stages of the product. That being said, I’m super excited about the potential of the system to provide MUCH more variety in the workouts, and even what could happen if they allowed users to save the workouts, make profiles to see their progress, or even sync with fitbits or other wearables.

If you’d like to learn more about Aktiv and all they’re doing to shake up the fitness space, check out In the meantime, have a happy and healthy rest of your day, keep smiling, and enjoy your next workout!

Omid Vojdani is a health and wellness expert with over 10 years of hands on experience focusing on injury rehabilitation, postural alignment therapy, relationship counseling, and spiritual growth. You can find more info at