Category Archives: Introductions

Guest Post: Introducing Caitlin

As promised, I am expanding Shallots Web to include a new series of guest posts and I am so pleased to announce that my first one comes from my friend and personal trainer, Caitlin Akey! As you’ll see below, most of Caitlin’s personal philosophy about food agrees with my own, and she’s taught me a lot about how to focus on good food choices and making healthy eating another part of my plan to live better. Enjoy!


My name is Caitlin, I’m a Certified Personal Trainer in Chicago, and I like to eat! My eating philosophy is pretty simple: I eat what I want. I mainly shop for fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. I try to cook the majority of my meals at home. I don’t like to cut whole food groups out of my diet. I make food that is healthy and delicious. And when I want to eat something that may not be the best for me, I do so in moderation. I don’t live my life on a diet, but instead live my life making healthy choices that will have a lasting impact on my health.

My cooking philosophy is simple. Actually it’s so simple that anyone can do it. Two years ago, the only spices I had in my cupboard were salt and pepper. I didn’t really know how to cook anything and figured that, since I was single, there was really no point to cook for one. I ate boring, bland food and didn’t enjoy many of my meals at home. Then one day, I finally pulled out the crockpot that had made three moves with me and decided to try an easy crockpot meal. MIND BLOWN! I bought some basic spices and the rest is history!

So here today I’m sharing one of my favorite simple crockpot recipes, Chicken Burrito Bowls. I don’t know about you, but I like Chipotle, and this homemade version hits the spot!

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt and pepper (to taste)
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
One 15oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
One 14oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups instant whole grain brown rice, quinoa, or other grain
1/2 shredded cheese (I prefer low-sodium white cheeses like mozzarella)


  • Place chicken in slow cooker
  • Add chicken broth, tomatoes, olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper; stir
  • Cook on low for 4 hours
  • Remove the chicken from the slow cooker
  • Turn heat on high and add brown rice and black beans; cook for 30-45 minutes or until rice is tender
  • Add chicken back into crockpot, top with cheese and let cook a few minutes
  • Add your favorite toppings: greek yogurt, avocado, green onion, tomatoes, etc


For more information on what I like to cook check me out:

❤ Caitlin


Food Enthusiast!

Sometimes, just when you feel like your day can’t get any worse, someone comes along to turn it around completely.  That happened to me last week at my local grocery store.  The woman behind me in the checkout line (who looked like the love child of Edith Head and Ina Garten) stood there kind of looking incredulous, so I immediately thought that I was doing something wrong – some breach of checkout etiquette.  Instead, I soon found out that she was actually just in awe of how tasty the yogurt she just ate was and asked me if I’d tried them (I have – they are the fat-free Chobani varities).  We had a brief coo-fest over the delicious and (presumably) healthy little cups before she glanced at the contents of my shopping basket and asked, “do you cook a lot?”  I told her that I cook pretty much every day.  Here’s how the conversation continued:

Edith Garten: You like to cook?
Me: I do.
EG: You like sun-dried tomatoes?
Me: I do.
EG: Well they sell a brand here that you’ve GOT to try.
Me: Oh, really?
EG: Dude, they’re off the chain!

She proceeded to tell me the brand and all the different applications in which she uses them and all I could think of while she was talking is, “this 40-something woman just called me ‘dude’ and told me, very sincerely, that sun-dried tomatoes are ‘off the chain.'” Of course, I couldn’t stop grinning.

I’m not exactly sure what pleased me so much about the situation, but it is surely a combination of her enthusiasm for food (and cooking), along with her awkward, but albeit very effective, manner of communicating her passion for food to me. Like I wouldn’t get it if she said it any differently. And maybe, in some way, she was right. I don’t really even like sun-dried tomatoes that much, but if someone tells me they’re off the chain, I am buyin’ ’em.

Quick Questions: Cheese!


Cheese, Please!

My lovely friend Kristie posted a question to me a few weeks ago that I didn’t get a chance to respond to in time. I apologize Kristie! However, I would like to address her question here now as a part of a new series I am calling “Quick Questions.” Basically, if you have a question about food, entertaining, shopping, restaurants, etc., that I can answer quickly or with just a little research, feel free to post them here and I’ll answer them in the order I get them.

Kristie’s question is a prime example: “I’m supposed to bring an appetizer to a get-together next weekend. I want to take the easiest route possible, so I decided to bring a cheese plate. Any suggestions on what cheeses to choose?”

Cheese plates are a great appetizer option; we almost always have one out when guests arrive – they can try a few different kinds, with different breads or crackers, and it keeps people busy while you are getting the rest of dinner together. Somewhere along the way, I remember someone advising that you should always have a blue cheese, a soft cheese, and a hard cheese. This is probably a good rule to go by, but I also find that blue cheese is not always the biggest crowd pleaser. If you have an adventurous group, go with a good French blue or English Stilton, an herbed goat cheese, and a smoked Gouda (not processed); they all have powerful flavors, but in different ways.

If you are unsure about your guests’ tastes, or know that they are more along the straight and narrow, opt for Havarti (or Dill Havarti, if you can find it), a good sharp Cheddar (not extra sharp) and a decent American Brie or cheap French Brie. Don’t waste a lot of money on cheese if people may not appreciate it! These choices should appeal to a wide range of people, especially when you serve them with good crackers and some fresh fruits – grapes, sliced apples and pears, and berries are always good choices. A thoughtful presentation (that is not to say complicated) is always appreciated, which includes taking the time to set the cheese out in advance of your guests arrival, since the flavors are always more pronounced at room temperature.

Keep the questions coming!

PS – I have to give a shout out to my friend Alex for coming up with the idea of posting this series!  Make sure you check out his hilarious website, which I have linked on the right.  He is not only clever, but pretty funny, too; okay, he’s one of the funniest people in the world.  Seriously.