What are Carbs?

This isn’t some boring scientific definition of carbohydrates. It’s a cheeky one.

Carbohydrates are a form of energy. This is the most simple definition that comes to mind when answering, “What are Carbs?” A question asked to me by a close family member, someone who I thought not only would know but might understand their effects on me growing up with Type 1 Diabetes. Of my seventeen years counting carbohydrates, watching carbs swing my moods and require more insulin, I have gone through my fair share of burnouts. Diabetes burnout is a real thing but that’s not what I’m addressing in this post. Right now, I’m talking about zooming in on one of the veins that leads to the greatness that is a large, pounding Diabetes Burnout. This vein is the exhaustion of the word, the smell, the numbers, the taste and the effects of c a r b o h y d r a t e s.

They get a bad rap. The pitbull of the food game, and like pitbulls, are actually really sweet but put in a bad light by society. People have developed some twisted and very faulty connection between carbohydrates and being unhealthy. Trendy diets limiting carb intake or full on casting them away and people crediting not eating carbohydrates to dramatic weight losses? Well yeah, no wonder you lost weight, Susan, you’re starving. Instead of replacing their white bread with whole grains, or enjoying a jelly doughnut for breakfast every now and again they are restricting themselves and banishing all carbohydrates to the same corner.

Here’s another answer to that baffling question; carbs are not bad for you. I’ll be straight up, I’m defensive around the topic of carbohydrates as a Type 1 Diabetic. (Surprised or have you smelled my attitude through this entire post?) For the majority of my life I’ve had to pay special attention to carbohydrates as they do cause a fluctuation in my Blood Glucose levels so by taking them out of the equation, steady graphs may result but ya know what won’t stay steady? My happiness. I enjoy carbohydrates. Does that mean I eat McDouble- Doubles for dinner? No. Does it mean I can eat a handful of maui onion flavored potato chips for a snack? Heck to the fudging yes. That’s the best flavor.

When clearing up the misconception that Type 1 Diabetics can’t enjoy carbohydrates – by the way, nobody ever questions me for chowing down on some roasted sweet potato with quinoa, but they do say with a sneer, “Can you even it that?” when I’m reaching for a cookie with less carbohydrates. Anyways, I tell everyone asking questions about my diet as a Type 1 Diabetic that I can eat whatever I want, I just have to think about it a bit longer. For every food decision, I spend an extra 30 seconds between “Do I want this?” and “I’ll take two” asking myself questions like

  • What’s my blood sugar like right now?
  • Is this food going to make my BG harder to bring down to target?
  • Am I actually hungry or just bored, is it really worth bringing out a syringe for?
  • How much will I have to bolus for this?
  • Am I going to be exercising anytime after this?

Might even be more than 30 seconds, really. Whether the answers are in favor of the sustenance or not, the mind of a diabetic is surrounded with so much anxiety around food that it begins to feel like a weapon used against us. Our conversations with strangers explaining stigmas around Type 1 Diabetes usually lead to food, suggestions for favorite low carb recipes, condolence gifts consisting of sugar-free gummy bears. Carbohydrates are this recurring theme when struggling with what this disease means. I’m exhausted. I wish it was just all food. A four letter word without macronutrients being misjudged.



This is not sponsored by Hawaiian Chips- though that would be pretty neat.

I'm Going on a Pumpcation!




  1. An extended period of time disconnected from insulin pump

    “I’ll be taking a pumpcation after nearly 15 years of being connected to a pump”


  1. To take a pumpcation

    “While I’m pumpcationing, I’ll be doing MDI (multiple daily injections) to receive my insulin”

This post contains “Reasons Why I’m Taking Pumpcation,” explaining my personal reasons for disconnecting from the pump temporarily and “How to Book a Pumpcation,” a walkthrough of the steps I took before going on MDI.

I can’t remember when exactly I first hooked up to an insulin pump but I was about 8 or 9, only a couple years post-diagnosis. Someone came over to my house and with my parents, taught me how to use the insulin pump. We practiced inserting a cannula beneath my skin, and filling a reservoir of insulin, two things we would need to do every three days. After we felt confident in these maneuvers, I was left with a long wire attaching a little me to a little machine.

Not until I went to Diabetes Camp did I learn how to insert the pump on my own. I came home after two weeks away from my family feeling SO proud of this accomplishment. I found the back of my arm to be my favorite spot. It was the most painless, lasted the full three days (except on the rare occasion it would be caught on a nosy door knob). But lately, I’ve been a little burnt out. Not on Type 1 Diabetes (well more than usual, anyways) but on my pump. I’m exhausted after what? Over 2,000 pump sites all over my body. That’s not including the ones that don’t work, the ones that bleed, the ones that are uncomfortable.

So it’s time to take a pumpcation. Packing up my pump supplies and heading on a one way ticket to shots-ville. Not tequila. Just insulin shots. This might only last a week, but I’m going to try and last 30 days. That seems like a fair time to allow my body to adjust to the long-acting insulin and figure out if injections fit my lifestyle better!

Reasons Why I’m Taking a Pumpcation:


Change is good, change is refreshing. A pumpcation is like a change of scenery, like I’m taking my diabetes to face the ocean instead of the city. Humans vacation to help with burnout at work and the real world. Their one week on the beach is supposed to be stress-free with no work emails or calls. Although I can’t take a vacation from my diabetes, the pumpcation can be refreshing in the same way.

-Dependent on Technology-

It’s currently 2019- we’re ALWAYS on our technology. You’re reading this via iphone, tablet, computer and heck, I’m using technology to type this. Being without pump will eliminate a piece of technology that I’m feeling dependent on. I want to remind myself that under certain circumstances, I can survive with MDI (multiple daily injections). I think of this as like going from an automatic vehicle to a stick shift because incase you ever rent a car in Europe or go on The Amazing Race then you know you’ll make it (the cars are most always stick shift and the losers never know how to drive them).


Okay, did you know that my pants have TWO pockets?! Without a bulky pump taking up the space of one pocket, I’ll have two usable pockets to keep whatever I want in! What does one actually put in pockets though? I’ll find out. Along with the freeing up of pockets, I won’t be connected to a wire. This wire quite literally keeps me alive so it’s not anything I can risk getting yanked out by door knobs or tearing out when the pump machine falls out of my pocket (okay, what are pockets actually good for?). Although I’ll be wearing a Dexcom™ (wireless) – this change is a bit more freeing.

How to Book Your Pumpcation:

-Make sure the time is right-

Ya don’t want to book a trip during the wrong season; the weather might be crappy or the flights expensive. You also don’t want to take your pumpcation during the wrong time! This May, my A1c is officially the lowest it has ever been. I was 7.6% before I started wearing the Dexcom™ and currently, am at 6.5%. Not only are the numbers showing me that my diabetes is more controlled, but I also feel the difference in my day to day life. Since joining the Type 1 Diabetes community online, I feel supported and encouraged to live my best life by taking care of myself. Reflecting on this, assured myself (and my doctors) that it was an appropriate time to take a pumpcation.

-Talk to your doctor and book this pumpcation-

Your doctor is like your travel agent here, they should help in figuring out the best time to go on a pumpcation. Every doctor has their own method and reasoning for why or why not to take a pumpcation. Make sure to receive your endocrinologist’s blessing before going on a pumpcation to figure out if the time is right, as well as to receive some tools in figuring out insulin sensitivity and carb to insulin ratios!

-Start packing and planning-

Like planning an itinerary for an actual vacation, figure out what the next, say 30 days are going to be like and start packing! I chose to use insulin pens for my short-acting insulin and just a syringe for my long-acting insulin. I also had to decide when I wanted to administer my long-acting and because I trend lower at night, I’m going to do it in the morning! I’ve also figured out what my fears/worries are for this time. I like to workout about 5-6 days a week and I usually set a temporary basal on the pump but you can’t do that with long-acting insulin shots. So this is going to have to be something I pay extra attention to!

Make sure to subscribe to stay updated on how this little experiment goes! I will definitely be coming back to contrast my time pump-free with my time needle-full.



Day in the Life

Wake up, get out of bed, drag my pump across my bed… that’s not quite the day in the life that Paul McCartney sang about in the Beatles’ Day in the Life but it might’ve been had he been a Type 1 Diabetic.

I spent a week carefully documenting the amount of time diabetes took out of my day. Setting a timer to record the amount of time it would take for a hypo (low blood glucose) to rise or how long it’d take out of my afternoon to change my pump set. Type 1 Diabetes doesn’t stop me from living my life to the fullest as I hike, exercise, work, or try new foods but some days more than others, I lose hours because of diabetes.

Would I be more punctual without Type 1? Possibly. Would I rush less and have more leisure time without it? Probably. Would my hair look better on the regular? For sure. I don’t want to dwell on that though because there isn’t much I can do to gain back the 1-2 hours I lose a day by being my own pancreas- I just have to work around that and adjust my life a bit. But that’s what Type 1 is about anyways; a lifestyle change in the way we eat and drink, as well as in the way in which I’m highlighting in this post; the way I maneuver through my day.

This post isn’t a record of every single day with T1D, but more of an accumulation of a weeks worth of diabetes interference into one to paint a better picture. Although, I will say that I’ve had days just like this, sometimes with less time taken out of my day and sometimes with more.

4:30 A.M

If you’re thinking, “Wow this chick wakes up EARLY,” you’re half right. Yes, I wake up at this time frequently but not by choice. My alarm is set for 7:30 A.M but my Dexcom™ (the CGM I’m using) app on my phone has other plans to when and how my day is going to start. I have to sleep with my phone as close to my head as possible incase I don’t wake up to the heinous alarm, I could at least feel the buzzing. On the rare occasion, the alarm wakes my mom (who shares my Dexcom™ data) and then results in her calling or just arriving at my door with a glass of juice. Who doesn’t love starting their day with a large glass of sugar or a mouthful of chalky glucose tabs?

Unfortunately, drinking the juice doesn’t mean I can go back to sleep. The glucose will take about 15-20 minutes to hit my system then maybe a few extra minutes for the CGM to catch up. Depending on how severe the low- this takes about 30 minutes out of my sleep and morning.

-Time elapsed: 30 minutes-

7:30 A.M

Finally time to wake up, but here’s the buzzword of this day with Type 1 Diabetes: GROGGY. I’m already not a morning person (I’m more of a 10am-3pm kind of person) so after my interruption in the earlier hours- I am one unhappy Ciara. But that’s alright. I’m lucky that my BG hasn’t spiked*.

*It’s very common to spike HIGH after a low because our bodies are telling us to eat eat eat- making it difficult to only have the amount of glucose we actually need to correct the hypo. This has been a goal of mine for awhile – to monitor the amount of glucose I’m having and work on being patient with my lows. A spike feels worse than the waking up at 4:30 A.M to alarms and several missed calls from mom.

9:30 A.M

I like to workout in the morning, I know it’s cliche but it really is the best way to start my day. If I don’t workout in the morning, I feel lethargic the rest of the day and usually opt out of an evening workout. This is all dependent on the day though. I love barre and bootcamp classes which are two completely different workouts. These different workouts have completely different effects on my blood glucose levels and although I do barre 2-3 times a week and bootcamp, twice a week- I still don’t know how my BG will behave.

I take time in the morning leading up deciding how much I need to eat, how much I need to bolus for and what percentage of my basal rate I need to reduce. I typically do a 75% basal rate for barre and 50% basal rate for the bootcamp (as it includes more cardio).

Not too often, but often enough to include here, do my BG levels drop and prevent me from finishing the workout. On those “low” mornings when I’ve had trouble keeping my BG up, sometimes just being near a treadmill makes the numbers plummet. I’ve had to leave classes half-way through or take a 5 to suck down a juice box. This makes it feel like a waste of an hour, since I wasn’t able to get my full 60 minutes in.

-Time elapsed: 15 minutes-

11:00 A.M

Post-workout is my favorite part of the day because this means breakfast. Read about my favorite bolus friendly breakfasts here. My breakfasts are heavily influenced by how my BG levels are post-workout. If they’re trending higher, eggs and avocado are fantastic but my favorite is when they’re trending lower and I can throw in some toast and fruit. Either way, Type 1 Diabetes can remove choices from my daily life. Yes, even with high BG could I have some carbs but I just would have a harder time bringing the numbers down and would spend longer feeling….blegh (definition of blegh: how one feels with high blood sugar).

When carbohydrates are involved, a pre-bolus is what I aim to do. This means, giving myself a bolus of insulin for the carbohydrates I’m planning on eating about 15 minutes before they’re actually consumed. I end up twiddling my thumbs waiting for a downward sloping arrow to hit my Dexcom™ app so I can chow down.

-Time elapsed: 15 minutes-


Belly full, shower done and I am READY for the day. Did my breakfast from earlier raise me up too much? Did I bolus too much? Checking on the sugars the hours after a workout is really important because usually they trend lower but in the world of Type 1 Diabetes “usually” doesn’t mean much. The levels could go either way. It’s usually in this spare time before heading to work that I’ll change my pump site, draw a new reservoir, and possibly switch out my CGM. My pump site and reservoir are changed every three days and the CGM is changed every 10 days. Rarely do all 3 of these tasks align on the same day BUT sometimes they do.

  • Pump site change, 5 minutes. Remove old site, clean it. Figure out which of the many places I want to put the new site, clean that. Work up courage to put on said site. Ta-da.*

  • Reservoir change, 5 minutes or more. This can be slightly time consuming because when drawing insulin from the vial we get bubbles. Bubbles are a big no no because they take up space in the reservoir where insulin could be and thus resulting in your body getting less insulin than the pump thinks. Also, nobody wants bubbles under the skin.

  • CGM change, 5 minutes. Before I switched to Dexcom™, this task would have taken a lot longer. I used the Medtronic Guardian Link, and it would almost always hurt so therefore I would take longer to muster up the courage to insert it. This CGM was also not guaranteed to work. It would bleed and then after the two hour warm-up tell me that it just wasn’t going to work. But the Dexcom™ is so painless and quick! I could never go back.

*Not a daily event but every now and again following a new site change, I find out that the cannula (the little subcutaneous straw delivering the insulin) isn’t working and high, like really high, blood glucose levels may occur. This results in another 5 minutes out of my day.

-Time elapsed: 15 minutes-

2:30 P.M

There are a few scenarios that happen at this time: work or school, maybe the occasional day off. But work is where Type 1 Diabetes presents the most challenges, as my classes are all online.

  • I work as a bartender in a small beer and wine bar- quite fun and quite relaxed. But busy. I’m lucky to have freedom in my job to test my sugar when needed, even change the occasional faulty pump site. Adjusting to this job was when Type 1 Diabetes would get in the way, the long hours on my feet, finding the right time to eat and remembering to do so. So I’ll sum up the “horror” stories of diabetic interference.

I’ve had blood glucose levels drop in the middle of a rush, having me feel like my head is on the ceiling spinning like a fan and feet are heavy in the ground. I’ll have to sit down for 20 minutes at times to wait for the juice or glucose tabs to hit. I’ve also ran out of juice before and a coworker had to run to the convenience store for me to restock. That sucked.

-Time elapsed: 30 minutes- 1 hour-


On the way to my deep slumbers can be daunting. I make sure my blood glucose levels are above 150 mg/dL (my daytime target is 100 mg/dL), so if I’m below that target that means I have to snack a bit to bring the sugar levels up. Sitting at the edge of my bed just waiting, hoping I didn’t overcorrect with glucose so I’ll go too high above that 150 mg/dL target.

Time elapsed: 15 minutes

Total time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

So there ya have it. I’m a normal gal. I have hobbies, I adventure, I love to socialize. Type 1 Diabetes interferes with all of it. But doesn’t stop me. I work around it, because it’s worth it to enjoy the things I love. I hope by learning about my most simple of days with Type 1 Diabetes, you can understand its’ implications on the more eventful days.

Thank you to my dear friend, Carolyn, for this idea to document how many minutes I spend a day catering to my Type 1 Diabetes. I spend a lot of my free time with Carolyn and Type 1 Diabetes is always there during our movie nights and beach days. Thanks babe.



Guest Blogger: Matt Vande Vegte's Why

Why do so many New Year’s Resolutions fail? Why do so many of us find it so hard to follow through on our own goals? We make promises to ourselves and to our loved ones, yet more often than not we fail to stay true til the end. Blame it on your busy schedule, blame it on external factors, blame it on circumstances, but I would argue that nine times out of ten it’s because you didn’t have a strong enough WHY to start out with. What is a “Why”? Why is a “Why” important? Why don’t I tell you what a “Why” is and why it is crucial to your success as a who, who wants to become.. ok this is getting ridiculous. Let’s move on.

Your WHY.

Your “Why” is your reason for pursuing the end result. Whatever your dreams or goals are in life, whether short term or long term, start with an intrinsic motivational force. This force is different for everyone on earth, even those with the exact same goal in mind will find something different that motivates THEM. This makes your journey unique because it has special meaning to you and you alone. But how do we find this “Why” and what purpose does it serve? You can find your reason behind your motivation by searching yourself for the biggest emotional factor that pushes you forward when the going gets tough. But you will have to be intentional about searching it out.

Let’s use weight loss as an example. Let’s say that you wanted to lose 20 pounds because you wanted to become “healthier”. Is this your why? Absolutely not. Becoming healthy is important, but it is too generic, and it is not unique to you. How about that your doctor told you to lose 20 pounds? Still no, as this is not your own driving force, but rather an external influence. How about that you want to lose 20 pounds because you want to have enough energy to play with your children while building memories to last a lifetime. You want your children to remember you as being part of their childhood, and so you will fight every day with every fiber of your being to do what is necessary to lose the weight. You will wake up early, eat healthier foods, join an accountability group, and find a coach to guide you forward. THAT IS A WHY. Not only will you do what is necessary to lose the weight, but you are more likely to build healthy habits during the process which will in turn make you more likely to hold on to the desired result for life. You may even surpass your own goals and exceed your expectations of what you thought was possible. Do you think that you could expect the same result coming from “I just want to be healthier”?

Now, I used weight loss as an example because it is a popular topic, but this can be utilized in just about any form of life planning or goal setting. Think about a grad student pushing through the toughest semester of their life. Will, “I just want to graduate and get this over with” get them through it? Or would they likely perform better if they dug deep to find an emotional reason that set a fire ablaze inside of them every time they felt like giving up? Your “Why” will not be easy to identify at first, it takes practice and many times can lead to an emotional response – this is good. The more emotions that your reason to pursue your goals evokes, the closer you are to finding your “WHY”.

Once you’ve decided on your reason to push through the hardest of times, write it down. Set it as your phone background, print it and tape it to your mirror. You don’t need to publicize it, as it may be something that is very private to you. But you need to remember it, see it every day, and hold on to it when you really, really want to quit. Seeing it all over the place is a great reminder to say it out loud and make it real in your mind. Find ways to weave it into your daily schedule, make it into a mantra if you have to. Whatever it takes to solidify in your mind that you will not give up, no matter what.

Use your “Why” to achieve your dreams, to do what seemed impossible. Never let something like Diabetes hold you back. I am a trainer living with Type 1 Diabetes, and let me tell you.. sometimes life sucks, but you need to pick yourself up, remember WHY you are doing what you set out to do, and push back when life (or diabetes) tries to trip you up. You are a WARRIOR. Find your “Why”, and Keep up the Fight!

You can do this! Let me know if I can help.

Keep up the Fight,

Matt Vande Vegte, CPT

Matt Vande Vegte is a certified personal trainer,

nutritionist, and type 1 diabetic whose biggest goal

in life is to help people with diabetes around the

world live their lives fearlessly. Looking for

an online health coaching program to

help you live your best life? Click the link below to

learn more about our program for diabetics only that is

focused on helping you reach your goals while living

a happier and healthier life. Join the Tribe today!



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Dear Diabetes; A Love Letter to Type 1 Diabetes

Dear Diabetes,

I go to bed with you every night and I wake up with you every morning. This might sound like your typical marriage and maybe it is. Except I wake up with your pump wire wrapped around my torso, and go to sleep worrying if I have juice near me thanks to you. We’ve had our ups and downs like married couples tend to do. I’ve hated you when I lose sleep due to low Blood Glucose (BG) levels, and you’ve made me sick to my stomach with those awful ketones. Isn’t that what they say in vows though? Through sickness and in health. I don’t remember saying that at seven years old when I was diagnosed with you, but then again- you knocked me nearly unconscious.

So I want to take this opportunity during the month of love, hearts, candies that you make difficult for me to indulge in, to tell you a couple reasons why I love you. I don’t want this to go to your head, since I only love you because I’m stuck with you (for the time being). I’ve been told that loving is easier than hating, easier on the heart and the mind, and results in less wrinkles. So let’s give this a shot.

I love that we share a passion for food. I love eating it, and you love thinking all about it. The smells and tastes are what I want to get out of it, but you focus on the gram of carbohydrates. Every. Single. One. I love that you always want to eat, for example, when I’ve already had a huge meal but my BG drops and now I’m having my second dessert- glucose tablets. We both love breakfast. My favorite meal of the day- with eggs, avocado, potatoes or toast and a cup of joe! So relaxing. But we differ in the way you prefer chugging three glasses of orange juice at 5 o’clock in the morning, followed by a piece of toast and a handful of cocoa puffs.

I love the way you make me laugh. When that entire 1.6 units of insulin decides to work within five minutes instead of the four hours it usually stays active in my body. I pre-bolus to avoid a severe spike in my BG levels from ruining my meal (which usually happens anyway), but the one time I’m meeting someone new, or catching up with an old friend the blood glucose levels plummet and I go so low. My arms feel like noodles and my head is dizzy. I can’t comprehend anything too well but I do my best to pay attention to the person in front of me and not slur my words, so I just end up laughing.

Loving you has been challenging. But thank you for the challenge, for questioning my strength just so I can prove you wrong. I’ve felt weak because of you, but that only made me realize how strong I actually am. If I was able to survive seventeen years with you, I can handle a little hiccup in my life every now and again. I love you, and I wouldn’t take back the last seventeen years but I sure as hell would take a cure any day.

Love always,


Seattle Round-Up

The girl descended from the Emerald Aisle takes on the Emerald City! A dear friend of mine recently moved to Seattle, WA and her birthday just happened to fall on the day of my last final exam, so how could I not head up North to celebrate?! As I do in most places I visit, I ate like a pig and drank like a fish. I found some amazing coffee spots, cocktail bars, grub hubs that I want to share with the you beautiful people of the internet!



Asian-fusion, lychee cocktails, fresh fish and beautiful handcrafted rolls.

Sugar Bakery & Cafe

When there’s a veggie breakfast sandwich then there’s a Ciara eating one. This veggie sammy had perfectly caramelized onions and accompanied with a slow drip coffee… *drools*

Some Random Bar

A place confusing to tell people who are trying to meet you, but also a place with beautiful gin cocktails and an impossible burger where the name actually makes sense.

Mecca Cafe

Classic breakfast diner meets punk rock. A place that won’t bat an eye if you have two Bloody Maria’s before noon.

Kiki Ramen

A downtown spot for Ramen during the workday. Super fast and super good. I always judge a good ramen by the egg, and this perfectly poached egg just mellllllted into my broth in the most seductive way possible.


Mostly here for cocktails but seared shrimp & pork bao buns nearly made me fall off my stool. Though it might’ve been my gin and pineapple rum cocktail (Hart to Hart) or the Transfusion cocktail (see below).

Biscuit Bitch

Warmly welcomed with a “What’s up, bitch?” and bid adieu with a “Bye, Bitch!” this place was perfect for a quick solo breakfast to jump start a day walking through Seattle. I had the Easy Bitch (and of course, made it veg bitch)- two over easy eggs, shiitake mushroom gravy smothered over two warm as cheeks biscuits.


Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room

Here, like the true tourist I was being, had a beautiful eggnog and rum extract “mocktail.” My dude, Kristian with K, threw together some whiskey/chocolate bitters with some of their Christmas Reserve Espresso, then strained it in a coupe glass and for the finishing touches, dusted cinnamon and nutmeg on top- creating the beauty below.

Espresso Vivace

The closest I’ve had to a true Italian Espresso in a hot minute. Any place with that plus a comfy red chair for reading is A+ in my book.

Victrola Coffee Roasters

Another great lil coffee spot if you’re trying to get work done while enjoying some decadent coffee. They also serve their espresso with a side of sparkling water just like in Italy, which made my heart and tummy happy.


Elliot Bay Book Company

I spent wayyyyy too long here. I love getting lost in a good bookstore and this one was bumpin’ with Christmas spirit and comfy chairs just begging to be read in.

Pike Place Market

Fresh veggies and people walking around with bouquets all the damn time? Sign me up!

While I stumbled through the streets of Capitol Hill for french fries at Dicks and sang karaoke with strangers I met at a bar when I was just trying to watch Star Wars on T.V, I fell head over heels for this glistening little city. I can’t wait to return. Thank you for reading!



Maui Round-Up

Maui WOWWWIE, alright. I spent 10 days relaxing and I mean RELAXING in Maui, Hawaii. The main reason I look forward to my family’s Maui trips is because it’s my time to do nothing. Sure, there are hikes to take on and waterfalls to swim in, but I take this time to zone out and be present. My family and I have been going to Maui, specifically Kaanapali, for about 10 years now. With that said, we’ve nailed down our favorite restaurants, quick lunches, happy hours and people watching spots.

This post contains all my favorite places to chow down in Maui. Enjoy!

Also, I don’t eat chicken, turkey, pork or beef but I love fish so most of my meals were fish as fresh as they could come.

Paia Fish Market

This has been our first stop off the plane for years now. Located about 20 minutes from the airport, Paia Fish Market is our favorite place for lunch since we usually land around lunch time! The Ahi Tuna burger seems to be the fan favorite, or my parents at least. This time I was a little adventurous and got mahi mahi tacos and 100% do not regret this decision. I think part of it is their tartar sauce to dip the tacos and fries in!

Roy’s Kaanapali

Roy’s has quite a few locations, another one is in Pebble Beach, about an hour from where I am in the Bay Area. The menus are the same but there’s something different about having a Misoyaki Butterfish in Maui versus California.

Strawberry Pineapple Tequila Concoction made for me by my dude, Junior

Miso Butterfish, carrot puree & wasabi sauce

Lahaina Grill

This is the second top rated restaurant on the island and for good reasons. But because of it’s high class (like they offer you a black napkin if you’re wearing black so the white linen doesn’t shed onto your outfit) the dim lighting makes photos hard to take without being obnoxious. This is disappointing only because this was the best meal of my trip.

For starters, we devoured the cake walk. Three different types of fish cakes: lobster, shrimp and ahi tuna. AMAZING. They all had their own unique sauce which just heightened the whole experience.

My cocktail to start was the cocktail special, Tequila Mockingbird. Already sold on the name, right? This was the best drink I’ve ever enjoyed. Tequila, pureed pear, and cinnamon! Probably some secret ingredients but this is all I could get out of the bartender.

Main course was fish…I can’t remember the type of fish, honestly, but it was a flaky white fish (maybe mahi mahi?) laid on top of smoked mozzarella. The smokiness of the bed of mozzarella had this bacon-like taste without the meat. It was so amazing that at one point I thought there might be bacon in it and didn’t even care.

Though dessert was ordered, nothing mattered besides my espresso martini. It really just tasted like a less heavy, more liquid coffee ice cream. Not a huge vodka gal, but I’m a huge espresso gal and that is what’s important.

Aloha Mixed Plate

Always a reliable favorite of my family is Aloha Mixed Plate. They got a major glow-up from the last time we were there (2016) because of it’s increased popularity, so I’m definitely not joking when I say how good it is. We love love love the coconut shrimp so we started with those and then for the main course, Island Fresh Catch Sandwich (fish of the day was mahi mahi). It’s not like me to order a sandwich, but I don’t regret going out of character for this baby. Unfortunately, the sammy wasn’t very photogenic and I wolfed it down to fast to snap a pic. Pictured below is my dad’s dish, the Fresh Island Fish (mahi mahi) served over rice with veggies!

The cocktails here are also very very fun. I got a Jala-pina “Diablo” Margarita – jalapeno, lime shrub, pineapple and of course, tequila! My mom’s a sucker for their Mai-Tais. The beach is just beyond those gorgeous cocktails!

Fresh Mahi Mahi over rice with broccolini & squash

Diablo Marg (left) & Mai Tai (right)

Mama’s Fish House

Mama’s is a local landmark in Maui. The dining experience is unforgettable because of the beauty of enjoying food while looking out onto waves crashing on rocks. Once the sun goes down, though the water isn’t nearly as visible, tiki torches are lit and Mama’s just glows. All the fish on the menu was caught just hours before, therefore the menu is freshly printed each day. My mom always gets the Panang curry (not pictured) with Uku, Ahi and Mahi Mahi. It’s served with macadamia nuts, banana (wild, but great) and mango chutney *drools*

Crab Cakes & Shrimp Wontons

Bouillabaisse: Mahi mahi, ahi, king crab, clams & scallops

Polynesian Black Pearl: chocolate mousse

Slappy Cakes

One of the only two locations in the United States, Slappy Cakes is our favorite breakfast spot. Usually my mom and I sneak over while my dad plays golf, and we just indulge in POG (passion, orange, guava) mimosas with our breakfast. Slappy Cakes is known for their make your own pancake style breakfast. You select from their batter options and they bring you over a squeeze bottle for you to design your own pancakes. Kids definitely have a field day with this, but it’s also fun for the adults. Their coconut peanut butter to have with the pancakes is SO delicious.

But because pancakes fill me up too much and spike my blood glucose levels a bit, I went with the avocado toast eggs benedict. Toasted sourdough, mashed avo, sauteed kale, perfectly poached eggs – um YUMMY! Easily the best eggs benny of my life.

Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar

Our last night in Maui was filled with ah-mazing sushi and Japanese food. This was my second time at Sansei and this time we made reservations. The first time was without reservations so we arrived to the restaurant 30 or more minutes prior to when it’s doors open (5:10 P.M) and waited in a long line. To avoid that, I totally recommend making the reservations and if you’re in the first seating, you receive a 20% discount (50% Sunday & Monday) until 6:00 P.M. I wasn’t able to snap photos of all the food but it’s one of those places where you just order a bunch of rolls and appetizers and split them amongst the group, so that way you can try more stuff!

Unagi Nigiri

Fried Ahi with spinach wrapped in there!

Shrimp tempura roll