|March 25, 2016|
Going out to eat is one of my favorite things to do. Most people have a weak spot for a particular food or place; my weakness is restaurant dining in general. But when you’re on a diet, eating out can be devastating to all your hard work if you don’t make the right decisions.
This weekend I tried the new CUT Fitness Menu at Bluewater Grill in Tustin, CA. The menu was designed in partnership with Tamra Judge from Real Housewives meant for the restaurant diner looking to order something that fits within their personal diet or fitness goals.
Before any food ordering comes to play, we ordered drinks. Sure the healthiest drink is water, but if you’re trying to have a fun cheat day, what’s the harm if you don’t overdo it? Just know that cocktails are usually higher in calories than a beer or wine, and a blended drink is usually higher than cocktails.
I ordered the cucumber mojito. What caught my eye was that it’s made with VeeV Açaí Spirit. If you haven’t heard of Veev, it’s a spirit made of the Açaí berry which is thought to be one of the world’s super fruits with an incredible amount of antioxidants. Are those same antioxidants present in the spirit? I don’t know, but if there’s a chance this alcohol is better for me, I will happily order this over another drink.
The cucumber mojito was so light and refreshing! It wasn’t overly sweet and you could barely taste the alcohol. Also, how could you resist anything served in a mason jar with the lime and cucumber on top? It was picture perfect.
My boyfriend ordered the bloody mary. Since Bluewater Grill is known for their seafood, having it garnished with a shrimp was the perfect touch. Personally, I hate bloody mary’s… sorry world. So yes I tasted it; but no, I will not tell you what I thought because my answer will be the same same for all of them: gross.
But the shrimp was good! It was a cold cocktail shrimp. Also, my boyfriend is a shrimp nazi; aka prior to eating any shrimp, he inspects the hell out of it to make sure it was cleaned properly because the vein grosses him out. He said it was the cleanest shrimp he’s ever seen! That means a LOT coming from him.
Looking at the CUT Fitness menu, the first thing I noticed was the way they added commentary-type descriptions to the food. They didn’t focus on the calories like other restaurants. They listed “Good For: …” This made it really easy to order. For example, I eat a balanced diet of carbs, fats, and proteins; so anything that said “Good For: Low-Carb Diets” I stayed clear of.
Between my boyfriend and I, we ordered:
- Appetizer: Oysters on the Half Shell – “Good For: An Aphrodisiac”
- Appetizer: Ahi Poke Lettuce Wraps – “Good For: Building & Repairing Muscle”
- Entree: Herb Free Range Chicken Breast – “Good For: A Well Balanced Diet. Proteins, Carbs & Healthy Fats”
- Entree: Grilled King Salmon – “Good For: Strength & Muscle Building. High in Protein”
Oysters are a great appetizer option because even if you add the sauces to them, they will always hands down be better for you than any dip or creamy soup. This is one of those things that people often buy when they want to “splurge” because yea, a cup of soup might be cheaper. But by “splurging,” you’re actually ordering healthier. So indulge away!
When you order this at Bluewater Grill, you can pick what oysters you want on the platter. We ordered the sampler which had two each of Hood Canal from Washington, Chef’s Creek from British Columbia, and Sol Azul from Baja. The Hood Canal oysters were my favorite. They was the largest of the oysters and had a mild flavor. They weren’t overly fishy or briny. The Chef’s Creek oysters were my second favorite. They were very similar to the Hood Canal except they were slightly sweeter. If they were larger, those would have been my favorite… I like them large, haha. The Sol Azul oysters were more briny than I would like.
The Ahi Poke Lettuce Wraps were amazing. One bite and I was sold on these. They were a little messy… but they did give us chopsticks and we completely forgot they gave us those. They used romaine lettuce as the “shell” of the taco. It had ahi, avocado, cucumber, and cilantro inside. Ginger, sesame oil, and Bragg’s aminos were used to create the sauce. It was mildly sweet with a salty kick. The flavor was less intense and had more depth than a soy sauce. I could eat those all day! I’m definitely going to re-create that sauce and use it in my own cooking.
The chicken was recommended to me, which I why I ordered it. I was a bit hesitant initially because Bluewater Grill has so much great seafood, I didn’t really think chicken was the way to go. I was also hesitant because if you follow any meal prepper on Instagram, you’ll notice chicken with herbs is a stable. Why? Because chicken is high in protein, low in fat, and generally inexpensive so you can make it in bulk for cheap. It’s a go-to “diet food.”
But I gave it a shot and boy did I have it all wrong. First-off, this chicken was free-range which is not the cheapest chicken in the market. It was juicy and the herbs added so much more flavor than I’ve been able to accomplish in my meal prep.
It was served on top of a bed of locally grown spaghetti squash and sautéed brussel sprouts. I was shocked when they said it was local. I can expect a small one-location restaurant to use local ingredients, but I didn’t expect it from Bluewater Grill. I was pleasantly surprised.
As far as taste, I don’t know what they did to that squash but it was amazing. If you overcook spaghetti squash it can get mushy and be very watery. If you under cook it, it doesn’t come anywhere close to pretending to be real noodles. Not only was it cooked perfectly but the sauce or seasoning they had on it was rich and exquisite. The brussel sprouts were also heavenly and bursting with flavor. I cleaned my plate for all it was worth.
The Grilled King Salmon was what my boyfriend ordered. It was served with quinoa, asparagus, and a lemon that was grilled with paprika and some other form of sorcery. Again, if you’re a meal prepper or follow any on Instagram, the ingredients are pretty identical to what those body builders might eat. What made this stand out from what I would normally make when I’m meal prepping is the flavor. That lemon… the magic that occurred in the kitchen to that lemon was the key to this dish. Next time I’m going to ask for an extra lemon. Whatever they did to it, it was slightly sweeter than a normal lemon and it really was the cherry-on-top to the salmon. A good salmon doesn’t need seasoning or a dry rub. If made right, all it needs is some salt and lemon. It was textbook perfect and definitely the star of the dish.
Lastly, we finished off with some dessert. They did offer fruit and whipped cream if we wanted a lighter dessert… but I figured since we made good choices for the rest of the meal, indulge! Start my meal off with a cocktail; finish off with some dessert. The basic structure of a perfect cheat day.
We ordered the Chocolate Lava Cake which was served warm with a molten chocolate center that oozed out when we cut into it. It was plated with a berry drizzle that wasn’t listed on the menu, but a great addition.
Overall from this experience, these are the things I learned:
- Bluewater Grill has officially been added to my list of favorite places to dine out. Their regular menu is also pretty diet friendly since you pick the fish you want and how it’s prepared.
- When I meal prep, I need to channel my inner Bluewater Grill and step it up on my seasonings.
- There is a lemon god and he wants me to grill my lemon with paprika and put it on everything.
- Brussel sprouts can taste good if you prepare them right.
Things for you to remember when you eat out and want to eat healthy:
- Calories aren’t always the answer. The quality of ingredients used are just as important. Pay attention to the descriptions.
- Sometimes the items often overlooked are the healthiest options. Oysters at a seafood restaurant; ceviche at a Mexican restaurant; etc.
- If you order drinks or a dessert, just be conscious of your decision. Don’t go with the flow and let your regular restaurant routine take over. Think about your choices. If you choose to go for it, enjoy it! By thinking things through, you won’t regret the decision you make.
- Look over the menu before going to the restaurant. Take mental note of the healthier options so once you get there, you can easily decide what you want based off the list you mentally prepared.
|March 4, 2016|
I rarely go out during the week. My life is pretty much work and gym. The idea of going out during the week seems pretty crazy to me. (I feel so old!)
I love aerial and stunt type shows so when I was invited to see Cavalia’s Odysseo, I couldn’t say no. I’ve seen billboards and ads everywhere for it and I was so curious to see what it’s all about.
When we got there, we headed strait to the VIP tent (after a selfie of course) and then feasted our eyes on the food after getting a drink at the bar. They had a decent selection of hosted drinks at the bar including wine, beer, champagne, juices, soda, iced tea, coffee, hot tea, and more; they had me at champagne.
The buffet was a array of dishes from different cultures. They had a pretty amazing hummus, fresh ahi poke, gazpacho, dolma… while many of the foods were inspired by cuisines of different countries, the one thing they all had in common was that they were all very fresh, light, and perfect for a pre-show dinner. Nothing too heavy or greasy.
What I liked most about the buffet was that everything was small enough that I could (almost) fit everything on my plate. I hate going to a buffet and having to commit to only a few items because the portions are so large. All the dishes were portioned in small servings…. but I still filled my plate to it’s rim (and got seconds).
My favorite was the skirt steak with chimichurri sauce. The meat alone was juicy and flavorful, and then topped with the sauce put me in heaven. If I took a bite out of a garden, that’s what the chimichurri sauce tasted like — Only better because it involved steak.
When we were waiting for the show to start, they displayed random facts about the shown projected onto the curtain. Did you know?
- Odysseo features 65 horses of 11 different breeds including the Arabian, Holsteiner, Lipizzan, Lusitano, Mustang, Paint Horse, Portuguese Cross, Quarter Horse, Selle Français, Spanish Purebred and Warmblood. (I know nothing about horse breeds; but I do know if you pronounce this bullet point with an English accent, you will sound very impressive.)
- There are 350 costumes and 100 pairs of shoes and boots in the show. (That’s a LOT of shoes!)
- Some costume changes give a performer only 30 seconds to change between numbers. (Can you get dressed that fast?)
- Above the stage hangs an imposing technical grid capable supporting 80 tons of equipment, including a full-sized merry-go-round. (That merry-go-round was beautiful!)
During intermission, dessert did not disappoint! We were treated to a plethora of sweets including fruit, cheesecake, cookies, tiramisu, tarts and truffles. My favorite was the tiramisu. Conveniently, all the desserts were served in small enough portions to be able to try nearly everything, just like dinner was, with the exception of the tiramisu. You bet I finished that entire slice of tiramisu!
The show itself was spectacular! I have seen a lot of the aerial shows in Vegas. I’ve also had my fair share of the circus. This was by far the best marriage of all the bests. Odysseo marries equestrian, stage arts, and theatrical effects that go above and beyond anything I have seen before.
The horses are beautiful. They also have so much grace and poise. I promise you after watching the show you will want a horse or want to volunteer where you can spend time around horses.
The performers were amazingly talented. One stunt specifically stood out to me in the “Nomads” act. Performers rode in on stunning horses into a ring and performed a variety of stunts and tricks with their horse. One particular performer rode in and started climbing off (around?) the horse. They climbed head first to the ground underneath the horse with the intention they would get back up on the other side of the horse WHILE IT WAS RUNNING! My head was screaming, “OMG he’s going to get trampled on.” My jaw was on the floor. Every logical bone in my body was on edge. Of course, he didn’t get trampled on and he climbed underneath the moving horse and circled back around until he was back on top, sitting upright, safe and sound like it was no big deal; of course the crowd was going wild, myself included.
The “Village Celebration” performers were also extremely impressive (and RIPPED)! Did you play with Barbie and Ken dolls when you were little? Imagine 40 or so Ken dolls in real life, running around shirtless doing crazy flips in the air for 10 minutes straight. Yes… there is a heaven. Cheerleaders have nothing on these guys. Not only did they do a ton of tribal inspired gymnastics, but they also got the crowd engaged and cheering with them, not just for them.
The sets were gorgeous. Each set had a very different feel from the previous one and they utilized a variety of effects to trick the eye like projecting grass or water on the sand to change the feel. I had two standout favorites. One set slowly dropped down from the ceiling. It was a carousel that spun like one at a carnival. The way they lit the carousel made it feel like a dream. The performers rountine was ballet inspired with a mix of crazy pole aerial stunts like “the human flag.”
My other favorite set was the finale set. They filled the stage with water and the horses ran though the water. The way they use the lighting to make the water look deep was really beautifully done and realistic looking. It also made the white horses look even whiter, enhancing their beauty.
After the show, we were invited to see the horses up close and personal… my boyfriend can tell you about getting personal, haha. They were not afraid to show their personality. I loved this about them. Taking a photo with the horses was not your average horse photo experience. If you’re like me, your experience with horses is limited to petting the ones at Disneyland or the county fair. Every time I’ve been near horses, they just stand there because that’s what they are trained to do. These horses wanted to cuddle and move around. We were cracking up at how they were so lively. But what do you expect from a horse that runs and jumps and does cool tricks for a living? Of course they have personality!
Walking on the stage made it seem even larger that it looked like from our seats. The tour guide informed us that the dirt on the hill part of the stage is actually different than the dirt on the ground level of the stage. This is because the final scene when they flood the stage with water, they need a dirt that could drain easily andt also not get muddy. And the top of the stage where I stood needed to keep its shape through all the trotting and galloping going on. The dirt on top felt like the fake sand you can buy for little kids that sticks to itself to reduce the mess of traditional sand. The dirt on the bottom felt like normal (wet) sandy type dirt to me. I may or may not have just bored you with this little known fact, but I thought it was really cool!
We left the big white top around 11pm. YIKES! I had work the next morning; but that night was worth every second. The whole experience made me forget about adulting (verb: the act of having to be an adult). The show brought me to a place of imagination, wonder, and awe. Thank you Cavalia for treating me! Odysseo was one of the best shows I have ever seen.
Here’s a trailer (but honestly, the video doesn’t do the show justice). If you want to experience the magnificent spectacle yourself, purchase your tickets for Orange County at www.cavaila.net/live and use the promo code “SocialOC” for 10% off!
*VIP ticket holders experience all the same excitement as I did with the exception of the stage tour and getting up close encounters with the horses. VIP ticket holders have access to the stable tour and a meet and greet with the two legged performers inside the VIP tent.
*VIP tickets were provided to me by Cavalia. All opinions are my own. Copyright images and videos used with permission.
|October 30, 2014|
A while ago, I visited Koreatown for the first time in Los Angeles with a bunch of other food bloggers in the area. Christina of Christina’s Cucina was our tour guide for this food crawl. It was my first time ever in a Korean market and boy was I glad Christina was our tour guide. There were so many things that I’d never seen before or never cooked with before. By the time our crawl ended, I had a full bag of groceries and somewhat of an idea on how to use them…
What I learned was…
1. Most food packaging is not in English, but most still have the ingredients and nutrition listed in English.
2. Watch out for MSG. It’s in a lot of products offered at a Korean supermarket.
3. When they have jerky-like fish samples… it’s not jerky. It’s meant to flavor broth.
4. You can buy SO MUCH MORE in terms of produce. It’s a lot cheaper. Even organic food is cheap!
5. I love buckwheat noodles. They have a similar texture to normal noodles but have protein in them! Great way to sneak in extra protein on those cheat days when I eat carbs.
6. Bibimbap is actually a pretty healthy lunch option, as are many Korean food items.
7. It’s official. I can’t resist the milk tea and boba… No wonder why I rarely go to a mall. The boba calls to me.
8. Kimchi (or Kimchee) is really cheap and easy to make. Save yourself the $ and just make it yourself.
Easy Kimchi (Kimchee) with Sriracha
- 1 head of napa cabbage (about 2 pounds)
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/3 cup white rice vinegar
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1/3 cup sriracha
- 1 bunch of scallions
Quarter cabbage lengthwise, then chop into pieces. The size of your chop depends on how little or big you want each bite. I chopped 2 to 3 inches each piece.
In a large bowl, toss with 1/2 cup of kosher salt and let stand for 2 hours at room temperature. Toss occasionally (about every 20-30 min) while it sits. Drain excess water as needed when tossing.
Rinse cabbage with water & drain. Squeeze out all the excess water with your hands and transfer to a large bowl. Tip: I used a colander during this process. It makes it much easier to rinse & drain.
Purée garlic and ginger with vinegar in a blender & pour over cabbage. Add scallions and sriracha. Toss until the cabbage is evenly covered.
Put it in a jar and let it marinate overnight in the fridge & enjoy!
Note: The longer you let the flavors marinate in the jar, the better you’re kimchi will taste. If you have the patience, wait a week before eating it.)
Storage: The best type of containers to store Kimchi is in a glass container. The red juice can stain plastic containers. Keep it in the fridge. It should last you a while because it’s fermented. Mine lasted me about 2 months before I ate it all (and it wasn’t bad yet). I have no idea how long it actually will last because I ate mine before I could find out.
>> If you keep yours longer for 2 months, let me know and I’ll update this to let other readers know how long it lasts.
|July 14, 2014|
I love meeting new bloggers and reading other blogs. But lately, I find myself browsing Instagram a lot more than I do the web. That’s when I found Lauren Lives Healthy. Her Instagram is very similar to what I post: yummy healthy food & fitness.
Lauren nominated me for the Liebster Award! What’s that you ask?
Liebster – adjective: meaning dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant… (I think you get the idea that it’s pretty flattering to be nominated)
The Liebster award is an award BY bloggers, FOR bloggers. It’s a way to get to know other bloggers and a way to share the love and let them know, “I think your blog is cool.”
Lauren asked me to answer 10 simple questions. Here’s a peek into me and my current favorites:
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live and why?
I would love to live in Hawaii. I used to go there every year as a kid on vacation and I have some family out there too. I wanderlust over the photos they post sometimes. A lot of people say I’d get island fever or get bored but everything I enjoy is there in abundance. I love to swim and hike and kayak… I would miss my regular trips to Disneyland but with a backyard that’s the ocean, I wouldn’t complain.
What’s your favorite website right now?
Oh Pinterest. How did I ever live without you?
Could you ever go a month without your phone and internet?
Yes and no. I would love to go on a month long vacation and purge myself of all outside connections. I’ve done it for weeks at a time. But as long as I’m home and everyone around me is using the phone and internet, I think this would be very difficult to do and I probably wouldn’t last more than a few days.
What’s your all-time favorite meal?
All time favorite meal is hands down the old fashioned burger. If you hadn’t noticed, I LOVE burgers. Sure, I could eat sushi for breakfast, lunch, and dinner … and I crave pho on a daily basis. I have some pretty tough competition for my favorite food, but at the end of the day, the nostalgia of a good juicy burger is always welcome to my tastebuds. I know it’s not the healthiest, but it’s sure tasty! (ps. Did I make your mouth water?)
What is your favorite quote and by whom?
“You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” -Annie, the broadway musical
It was the quote I put next to my picture in my high school year book and it’s still relevant. I just love to smile, but more than that… when I’m happy I feel so good about everything in life. I feel like I can do anything. I make better diet decisions. I am more social. I am overall a better person. Smiling and happiness come naturally to me. I hope its true that smiling is contagious 🙂
If money were no object, what would you do all day?
If money were no object, I’d move to Hawaii and buy a house with plenty of yard space to raise chickens and grow my own vegetable and fruit garden. I’d wake up and hike in the mornings, tend to my garden and house during the day and go for a swim in the afternoon. Then cook dinner with my freshly harvested veggies and read a good book next to the fire. Sounds like a dream. Hopefully when I retire, I can make it happen.
What’s been the biggest challenge since you started blogging?
Balancing time. Between working full-time, blogging, going to the gym, regular house chores, friends, family… my schedule is fully booked. I’m often blogging at midnight after my long list of to-dos is done.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be and why?
I would love to play the piano. I have always loved singing and there’s something magical about singing with a piano. I’d love to play and sing along all day. I actually took lessons when I was younger but was never serious enough to practice. I recently started picking it back up in hopes that I might be able to teach myself.
What’s your favorite way to unwind?
A bottle of Stella Rosa and a good book. Bonus points for a view of the ocean added to the mix, but there’s no drinking at public beaches in SoCal so that only works when I’m on vacation.
Describe your personal style in 3 words.
Casual. Comfy. Athletic.
Now it’s my turn! I am nominating: Alanna (Eats Real Food), Lindsay (Lindsay Living Vegan), Erin (The Almond Eater), and Parita (My Inner Shakti) for the Liebster award. I can’t wait to get to know you more! Here are my questions for you to answer:
- What are your top 5 workout playlist songs?
- What’s one food you wish you could learn to like?
- Your biggest pet peeve.
- Your go-to snack.
- Your favorite quote.
- What is one thing you try to do every day?
- Name one TV show you feel guilty or embarrassed to admit you actually like.
- How and why did you pick your blog name?
- What is your favorite workout? (Running? Yoga? Crossfit? Kettlebells?)
- Who inspires you?
|May 10, 2014|
I was SO excited when Fairfield Farms invited me to take a tour of their organic blueberry farm. I’ve never been on a commercial farm before and honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect.
Fairfield Farms is in Pauma Valley, San Diego County CA. I drove with Tanaya from Tanaya’s Table, and driving there seriously felt like we were lost. We got off the freeway and it looked like there was nothing there. But as we kept driving, there were fruit stands and little mom & pop cafes … then we found the farm.
It was absolutely beautiful! We got to the gate and I was just in awe. Maybe other farms have beautiful gates, but I’d never seen anything like this other than movies. So for me, it was a little surreal.
What was even more exciting was Fairfield Farms has previously never been open to the public. We were invited the week before they officially open the gates to the public to launch their U-Pick weekend events. (More info on how you can visit to pick your own organic blueberries after the recipe.)
Meet Harrison (in the middle), our tour guide and blueberry expert for the day. He is also one of the family members that owns the farm. Yes – Fairfield Farms is not only organic, but also family owned! (I made him take a selfie, haha. #shameless)
It was really interesting learning about organic farming and what it’s like to work on a family farm with your parents and siblings. I asked if he ate a lot of blueberries and he said there are literally more blueberries than can ever be eaten. I guess that makes sense when they’re producing just over a million pounds of blueberries a season.
The packaging factory was definitely not what I expected. I guess when I think of any food that has a label, I think big, sterile, overwhelming warehouse, but this was nothing like that. Sure they label their berries and you can find them at major grocers on the west coast like Whole Foods and Sprouts, but it was very family friendly and Harrison knew everyone by name.
In the packaging warehouse, first the berries are measured by weight. They’re tracked by who picked them and where they were picked. And when they go through the sorting machine (which makes sure all the berries that get packaged are ripe and beautifully blue). At the end of this machine, they are packaged and the Fairfield Farms label finishes it off like a bow and stored in the biggest fridge I’ve ever been in.
Picking the berries was a lot of fun! I will definitely be going back with my mom and sister and making a day out of it. The views are spectacular and you can’t beat fresh blueberries right off the bush. They were so juicy and sweet! And the neat thing I learned was that the blueberries you buy in the store are actually a variety of blueberry types. This is why sometimes some look larger than others. It was so much fun tasting the different varieties as we picked. You can tell the different varieties by the bush. Some bushes leaves were greener while others had a yellow hue or rougher leaf. The difference in taste was very slight. I mostly noticed that ones on the first two rows (my favorite rows) were big and luscious and much sweeter than the other berries down the row. But of course, taste also has to do with when you pick them and those first two rows Harrison said he made sure no one touched so when Tanaya and I arrived, they’d be full of juicy fruit.
Want the insider secret to keeping your berries fresh?
I asked Harrison for the insider tip… He said the most common mistake people make is washing the berries and then putting them back in the fridge so they are ready to eat. But blueberries are very prone to mold when introduced to moisture. Only wash the berries you plan to eat or cook immediately. If you wash more than you need by accident, make sure they are completely dry before putting them back in the fridge. They can literally grow mold within hours of being exposed to moisture if you put them back in the fridge wet!
Blueberry Banana Smoothie
Macros: 1.5g Fat, 72.5g Carbs, 4g Protein
- 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2-3 ice cubes
- 2 frozen bananas
- 1 large handful of fresh blueberries (or 3/4 cup)
Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend on high until all the ingredients are well pureed. If you have a lower speed blender, you might not be able to fully liquify the blueberry skins but that’s ok. It will just look a little different but the taste will be the same.
Thanks you Fairfield Farms for inviting me to tour the farms and pick some berries to take home. If you want to visit the farm in Pauma Valley to pick organic blueberries, join them Thursday thru Sunday from 8am-6pm. The season ends June 1 so get out there before all the blueberries are gone!
14224 Old Cole Grade Rd
Pauma Valley, CA 92061
Blueberries are $5 a pint and they accept cash and all major credit cards.