Nonno’s Ristorante Italiano is definitely a NO NO

Nonno’s Ristorante Italiano opened last December in a spot on Whitney Way that used to be a Mexican restaurant. I’m not sure why the Mexican restaurant closed, but I never ate there and I never heard anything good about it. But I had heard some decent things about Nonno’s after it opened. I figured lunch would be good opportunity to try it, because hopefully it wouldn’t be too busy and the prices would be lower.

The decor at Nonno’s feels a little strange. S0me of the dining room is brightly colored, and basically seems like they didn’t paint after the Mexican restaurant closed. There are booths by the windows with big built-up archways that make the rest of the dinning room super dark.

Nonno's bread
Nonno’s bread

They brought out a basket of hot bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip it in. It was an odd type of bread, that basically had the consistency of thick, super soft breadsticks. The olive oil and vinegar was nothing special, but the bread with the mixture was a nice touch.

Nonno's farfelle rustico
Nonno’s farfelle rustico

I ordered the farfelle rustico ($10), which is bow tie pasta with olive oil, garlic, grilled chicken, mushrooms, peas, onions, bell peppers, parmesan cheese and white wine. The pasta came out super fast and was extremely hot, but it cooled down so fast that it made me think it was microwaved. The sauce was light, but had absolutely zero flavor (I didn’t taste the garlic mentioned on the menu). The noodles tasted like they were out of a box, so if they were homemade they were done super poorly. Some of the noodles on the menu say they are homemade, but the farfelle does not say that. The chicken was OK…not amazing, but not super processed. It was probably taken out of a package precooked and they just reheated it. There were a couple chunks of mushrooms and a couple peas, definitely not enough to make them a substantial part of the dish. The bell peppers and onions were just as sparse. The portion size was pretty decent (I took enough home for lunch the next day), but the quality of the product wasn’t great.

FOOD NOTES: The decor and location of Nonno’s is a bit off. The prices weren’t bad for the portion sizes, but they were a bit high for the quality of the product (microwaved pasta?). I was very unimpressed with the noodles and the processed chicken, but the flavorless sauce and lack of veggies listed on the menu put me over the edge. I will probably not be going back to Nonno’s.

Macro bowls: Big taste, big flavor, small calories

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Macro bowl pin on pinterest

In my quest to be healthy and eat healthy I found a recipe for Macro Bowls on Pinterest about a month ago. Well, it wasn’t really a recipe, it was more of an idea to make lunches for your work week with five or six really heathy ingredients put together. I’ve been cooking food for the week all at once since I’ve lived by myself in college, but the idea of a macro bowl was new to me. I usually make a dish – lasagna, turkey meatloaf, something in the crockpot – and pack sides like an apple, veggies, etc. The website I found on Pinterest basically says to cook up two vegetables, a starch, a bean and a protein. They used kale, sweet potatoes, black beans, quinoa and tofu. Other than making lunches super easy, the goal of a macro bowl seems to be making lunches super tasty and healthy too. I’m not sure on the calorie count of the macro bowls on the website but it couldn’t have been very high.

macro bowl 4
macro bowls

When I decided to try making macro bowls I didn’t follow their recipe. I just focused on what super healthy ingredients I actually like and my favorite flavors (garlic, olive oil). My first set of macro bowls had sauteed kale with zucchini, onions and garlic, quinoa cooked in water with garlic salt, sweet potato wedges roasted with olive oil and garlic, and some low-fat chicken sausage cooked with black beans and garlic. The sauteed vegetables were super easy and very tasty. The quinoa added a good base for the dish. Sweet potato wedges are one of my favorite foods! Most people eat them sweet with sugar or brown sugar, but I think they are best with a little garlic salt and olive oil. For the chicken sausage I peeled off the casing and cooked the chicken like it was ground beef with the black beans. I layered all of these different pieces in to-go lunch containers and had five lunches for the week.

macro bowl 1
quinoa, sauteed kale and zucchini
macro bowl 3
chicken and black beans, sweet potato wedges

As for the details: I used one pan to cook the three stove-top layers and then roasted the sweet potato wedges in the oven, which was great because who likes to do dishes!!?? When I divvied out the ingredients I measured how much was going into each bowl so I could plug that information into my calories app on my phone to see what I was eating in numbers. According to my app, each bowl I made had 280 calories and 22 grams of protein. I work nights so my “lunches” are actually my dinners and typically you want to eat a high-protein low-calorie dinner to keep you full but not weigh you down. The best part of the macro bowl was how easy it was. The longest part was cooking the quinoa – it takes about 20 minutes on the stove, but now you can buy precooked quinoa that you just have to heat up, so that could decrease the time it takes to make the bowls.

macro chicken
chicken, peppers, black beans
macro bowl attempt 2
macro bowls with squash, brussel sprouts, chicken, kale

For my second attempt at making the bowls I eliminated the quinoa (mainly because I didn’t have any in my cabinets). Instead of chicken sausage I sliced up chicken breasts and cooked them with onions, spicy banana peppers, garlic and black beans. Instead of sweet potato wedges I steamed a small butternut squash and then mashed it with garlic and olive oil – very similar in taste and health benefits! I made the kale the same way but instead of including zucchini I steamed some brussel sprouts sprinkled with garlic salt – I love brussel sprouts! My second attempt took less time because I didn’t make the quinoa, and I still only used one pan to limit the amount of dishes. This time, my macros had 225 calories and 17 grams of protein.

macro bowl 5
macro bowls to go

FOODNOTES: The goal of a macro bowl is to make lunches super easy and super healthy. The best part about the macro bowl is you can make it however you want. If you don’t eat meat use tofu. If you don’t like kale use broccoli. If you don’t like quinoa use brown rice or eliminate it all together. Macro bowls could also follow different flavor profiles. Obviously I’m a garlic girl but you could make a miso dressing or  a peanut sauce to drizzle over the bowl for an Asian feel – both of those usually have low calories and the peanut sauce would add protein! I love how customizable these are, and that they ideally have less than 300 calories for so much food!