Category: Eating Out
|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.
|January 2, 2014|
I know I have been a little MIA the past few months… let me explain. The past few months I have been on a roller coaster. One minute I am super motivated and eating right and the next I am picking up old habits and saying things like “tomorrow I will go to the gym” and “tomorrow I will be more strict on my diet” … but waiting until tomorrow is the oldest cliche in the book.
Yes, every day is a new day and new opportunity to start fresh and make good decisions, but every time you take another bite is a decision. You don’t have to wait until the next day to make a change. Why not start (or re-start) with the next fork full of noms?
I know very very well how temping the gooey artichoke dip can be or happy hour at the local sushi place. Trust me, I will admit that in the past 3 months I have gained 10 pounds. I felt like I couldn’t preach to the blogging world about my weight loss journey when all I was doing was gaining – sitting on my couch while eating Thai take-out. That’s not a positive journey at all – a journey to the dark side. I was feeling so guilty about my new habits but didn’t have the motivation to do anything about it. Even my trainer started to get more on my back about what I ate and my lack of exercise because it was noticeable.
So what happened? I had the right mindset and I was on top of my game…. life happens. No one said it was easy. If it were easy, there wouldn’t be so many people out there struggling with the same things I am. You have to make time for your goals because no one is there to micromanage your every decision.
I was talking to a friend of mine on new years eve who recently lost 50 pounds. There are no miracle diets or workouts any one person can do that works for everyone across the board, but the true secret to her success was and is her mindset. I know it sounds cliche but even I have said that in the past (when I was on my weight loss streak). She told me that every day she took some “me” time to keep her on track, just thinking about the future.
This leads me to my new year’s resolution:
I will wake up every morning and stretch. Side Tangent: I am not a fan of yoga. I’m going old school with traditional stretching because if your muscles are tight, you have a far higher risk of injury when working out. While stretching, I wont think about my scary long to-do list. This time is for reminding myself who I want to be. Where do I see myself next year and how do I get there? I am the only one holding me back from my goals. This year will be a year of change.
Also, from now on I am counting macros (macronutrients). So all my new recipes will have the fat, protein, carbs and fiber listed (throwing in fiber for good measure). My trainer Emily Mraule thought it might be easier for me and my creative cooking to calculate my macros rather than just tell me what to eat. So I am keeping a food journal to keep me on track. Too bad I didn’t get that food scale I wanted from Santa this year, haha.
Did you make a plan-for-sucess to keep you on track for your new year’s resolution?
|October 7, 2013|
When Starbucks re-releases their seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte, who isn’t excited? At least for a foodie, it’s one of those things you look forward to every year. When you walk into the coffee shop and you see the writing on the chalkboard welcoming the Pumpkin Spice Latte back onto the menu, feeling excited, you know it’s going to be a good day.
… ok, you can see why I might struggle with my weight. Haha. Starbucks is a very bad habit of mine.
I made a skinny, healthier Pumpkin Spice Latte Frapp (because it was pushing 90 degrees in SoCal this weekend) that you can actually enjoy year-round if you wanted. Struggling with the temptation to take full advantage of Starbucks’ seasonal menu, life is a lot easier when you know you can make one at home that’s healthier and cheaper. Not to mention mine has real pumpkin – no fake syrups here!
Pumpkin Spice Latte Frappuccino
- 1 cup ice (or about 8 ice cubes)
- 1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 cup puréed pumpkin (canned or fresh)
- 1 tsp pumpkin spice
- 1 tsp instant coffee (or one Starbucks VIA packet)
- 3 tsp stevia
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
Blend all the ingredients together. Pour into your favorite jar, mug, cup, or tumbler. This recipe should fill a venti size cup.
If you don’t want to add the protein powder, add 1 tsp vanilla extract and an additional 2 tsp of stevia.
Optional: Top it off with your whipped cream of choice. Try my Vegan Whipped Cream recipe for a 100% vegan frap (assuming you are using a vegan protein powder).
|October 1, 2013|
My boyfriend Graham and I celebrated our anniversary this past month and took a day trip to Santa Barbara to visit the wineries. We were looking for a fun and unique experience we could do in a day without putting a big hole in the wallet.
We started at the Fess Parker Winery and took a tour of the property. Tours are available at most wineries but have very limited schedules. If you are interested in tours, be sure to check all their websites for the offered times and call ahead to reserve your spot.
Note: When the wineries say “tour,” what they mean is a tour of the facilities where they make the wine – which most often does not include the vineyards.
All the wineries have a tasting menu and they are all very affordable – between $5 and $15 average per tasting. A great way to be able to sample more places is by sharing the tasting menu. Most of the local wineries pour you a little more than a small sip, plenty enough to share.
Graham definitely seemed like he knew what he was doing, clearly by looking at the photos. And there I was drinking away, only spitting it out when I didn’t like it. Check out this article to learn the how-to’s on wine tasting: http://www.winemag.com/how-to-taste-wine/
At Fess Parker, a local restaurant set-up a BBQ and cooking station to prepare small meals for guests. Although, the restaurant didn’t have any business cards or fliers with them so I don’t remember who they were (marketing fail!). But they were seriously lifesavers because none of the wineries we visited had actual food other than cheese and crackers to buy and were very overpriced. We did not come prepared at all. I was so jealous seeing some of the veterans, with thier picnic baskets full of fruits, cheese, and meats. Next time, packing a picnic is a must!
We stopped at the Curtis Winery and I tasted the best dessert wine I think I have ever had. At this winery, the server asked what types of flavors I like, so of course I told him I have a sweet tooth. My favorites are Riesling and Moscato. He told me he had the perfect wine and bet on his job that I would love it. Boy was he right! It was like drinking syrup. I was not going to leave that place without a bottle of my new favorite: Curtis 2012 Viognier.
After we were all wined out (yes – it can happen), we left and headed to The Ranch House in Ojai for dinner. I’m not going to lie, I was really worried about this place because Graham had shown me the website and it looked like they hadn’t updated it since the 90s. Also, looking at the map, this place was far out of the way. Not to say I didn’t believe Graham when he told me I’d love it, but between the drive and the outdated website, I was worried.
We drove up and the outside did not impress me at all. Walked inside and the first thing I saw was a super outdated looking bar (also not impressed). When we walked outside where all the tables were, I was shocked! It looked like it was straight out of Pinterest! There was a cute little garden and the tables were arranged in a tier overlooking the garden and other tables hidden in their own little nooks to create a very romantic and private setting. Being in the middle of nowhere (at least that’s where I thought I was), no way did I ever expect a restaurant like this. I was in such awe, enjoying the whole thing I barely took any photos (for being a food blogger). Lesson learned: you can’t judge a restaurant by their website or street view.
While we were deciding what to eat, the chef came out from the back and started picking a few herbs from the garden to cook with. Again, I was very impressed.
What I ordered: Potato Soup, Grilled Diver Scallops, and the New Orleans Delight
The scallops were probably the best scallops I have since Graham and I’s first anniversary (we were celebrating our 7th this year). I had to order them because on the menu it said “The best thing I ever ate.” -Cat Cora. The scallops certainly exceeded my expectations.
To finish off the night, we had the New Orleans Delight. It was very good. Four out of five of the regular dessert options had coffee in them which is a bummer for anyone that dislikes coffee – so it was a good thing I’m a java lover.
I would definitely recommend taking a trip to The Ranch House. They value fresh, local and sustainable foods with their beautiful garden and free-range Chicken Chevrie. Just be sure to make reservations in advance. This place is very popular so walk-ins are often not able to be accommodated.
|July 23, 2013|
We all need a cheat day in our lives every so often. I’m not going to lie and say I ate healthy at the OC Fair. And while I thought it would’ve been a cool idea to scope out the healthiest fair food, let’s be honest – when you go to the fair, you want to eat those once-a-year treats. (And I sure did enjoy the occasion!)
While I’m not going to preach to you about eating healthy at the fair, I’ll give you some other great tips about cheat day survival at the fair. And of course – what I ate!
Firstly, if you haven’t been following your eating plan very well, it may not be the best time to put the OC Fair cheat day into your week. Before you nom on all the fair goodies, prepare yourself by strictly following the diet or eating plan you’re on and be sure you didn’t cheat on your fitness regimen. I would also not suggest doing any sort of juice cleanse to prepare either. Just stick to your normal diet. If you try a cleanse leading up to the cheat day and then feed your body the absolute opposite right after, you might end up with an upset stomach and it’ll ruin your day.
Next thing to do is get your metabolism in check. It’s always good to start the day off with a little fitness, but on a cheat day it’s necessary. You want your body burning all day to minimize the damage to your your dieting efforts. Wake up and go for a run or hit up one of the classes at your gym.
Now for my cheat day! The OC Fair has a “Rise and Shine” discount for $3 entry before 11am on Saturdays and Sundays, which I took full advantage of. The fair can get expensive when you add it all up. If you don’t work Fridays, they have a “Taste of Food” promotion from noon to 4pm where many of the food vendors offer a smaller portion of one of their menu items for $2. This would have been a great way to sample everything. I did this last year and would highly recommend it.
If you are like me and can’t make it out for Friday lunch because of work, what my boyfriend and I did was share everything. Every drink to every meal – this is how you can try more food places without eating 6 different meals in one day.
We started off with the FryBQ Ribs from the diet-ruining-famous Chicken Charlie’s. I had been wanting to try these forever! They were very good. You’d think after being fried that the meat would be pretty tough, but it was surprisingly tender. The sauce was also good. It had a little more tang to it than other BBQ places at the fair, similar to a St. Louis sauce. Really, my only complaints are that you can’t order the ribs by themselves. You had to buy them with the fries which puts you over $10. Also, the sauce was like finger paint on your hands. It dyed them red like Flaming Hot Cheetos do.
We walked around a bit after foodie adventure #1. There are a TON of great things for foodies at the fair. This year there were so many more demos and chefs to talk to and watch. We stopped at Chef Ray Duey‘s booth where he was demonstrating fruit carving. There wasn’t an official demonstration time because he was just there for the majority of the day so you could walk up and just start talking to him while he carved. (Hopefully he was carving a new food fountain because the one on display was starting to stink.)
Next up we stopped for some drinks (shared of course). We ordered the Lime-A-Rita at a small beer stand. It was $12 and much larger than the sugary frozen margaritas near the Hanger. Still pretty sweet so if it’s sugar you are trying to escape, good luck.
We made our way to the farm animals which was a slight disappointment for me. There were so many animals and competitions but they had signs everywhere that were “farmer’s market” themed. So the whole time I was there I was thinking I was going to get to meet some farmers and network some contacts that I might be able to purchase grass fed beef and pasture raised chicken. Wrong! Wishful thinking. Shows you were my mind was… burgers.
We played some games (which are harder than they look) when I saw someone walk by with chicken teriyaki served in a pineapple. First thought in my mind was, “I need that!” So of course, we scoped it out and found Pineapple Express. We came to find this lovely cheat day item was also owned by Chicken Charlie’s. They originally gave the pineapple to us in one of those flimsy paper nacho cups but we lost a huge chunk of chicken on the ground. When we went back and told them we dropped a bunch of chicken, so they gave us more chicken (how nice of them!) and they put our pineapple in a larger brown box so if anything fell, it fell into the box. But I wonder why they didn’t serve it like that in the first place… The chicken was way too salty for my taste but I am not sure if I just had a bad batch or if it’s consistently just a salty recipe. I wouldn’t order that again.
Although I personally opted for the less healthy options and ate the greasy foods, if you’re looking to enjoy the fair in a healthier way, try some of these items. These are general items you can find at almost any fair.
- Grilled Kebabs
- Giant Pickles
- Corn on the Cob (skip the butter)
- Frozen Bananas
- Fresh Fruit
- Peanuts and Jerky
After the pineapple, I was on a mission. Whether my boyfriend knew it or not, the whole day I had plans to hit the Vitamix booth. Slowly but surely, we went from building to building with the intention (or my intention) to end at the wonderful world of blending. We got there and I got straight to it – how much does it cost? what are the specials? Being the foodie that has watched their demos with googly eyes time after time for years, they didn’t need to sell me. I think my mind was already made up before I even got there, although I did take time to walk around the building again just to be sure. It is a pretty pricey blender after all.
Comparing their deals to the ones you normally see at Costco – they were similar. At the fair they were only selling the 5200 classic model but said you can pretty much order anything with them. What I DIDN’T know was that you can buy reconditioned models. The reconditioned models are the blenders that have been used for demos at expos, fairs, and Costco locations, etc. so they have not been used for more than a month or so but many have only been used for a few days straight. Also, they gut the whole blender so really the only used part is the motor. They also offer an extended warranty, more than the online reconditioned warranty. (Yes! You can buy the discounted refurbished ones online too!!!)
Obviously, with all my refurbished Vitamix excitement, you can probably tell that’s the option I went for. But other deals that were special to the OC Fair (and probably your local fair if they are there) is they offered the Dry Grains container free as a bonus with your purchase. This offer wasn’t valid for the reconditioned buyers, like myself, but it was a very tempting offer. Also, whether you are buying a recon or a new one, they offer a 5 month payment plan. The interest only came out to about an extra $20 bucks for me. That alone was well worth it. Especially because at Costco you have to purchase it using a debt or cash which is definitely a damper on the wallet. I’m a credit card girl all the way.
Anyways, on my way home I stopped by the market and decided to BLEND EVERYTHING! So expect a bunch of smoothie, soup and sauce recipes from me 🙂
PS – No really. I even thought about blending the tamales we have and making tamale soup. Let my Vitamix addiction begin 🙂
|June 18, 2013|
I’ve never really felt comfortable or confident enough to show a side-by-side before and after photo. I think it’s because I was ashamed of how I looked in addition to not being happy with where I am right now. I am definitely not ready for a before and after photo yet. But I am finally feeling comfortable to show a side-by-side.
I refuse to call it “before and after” because it’s not. After insinuates that I am done and I am where I want to be physically, and that’s not the case. And before insinuates that there is one point or one photo that symbolizes before you began to get into shape and show progress. Well, I have had ups and downs my whole life when it comes to weight loss. Of course there were times that I was at my heaviest, but there were also times where I was almost at my goal weight. Right now, there is still a lot of body fat to lose and a lot more toning to get done. But honestly, I feel great right now and I think I look pretty good too. (Photo below is a year’s progress)
One of the biggest struggles I’ve had to overcome is to let go of the past. It’s hard to see yourself overweight and actually wanting (or willing) to share any of those photos. But the truth is, those photos exist and I can’t change that, nor would I want to. All my photos have some great memories attached to them. It’s only been recently that I can look at those photos and think to myself, “wow, look how big I was“ – versus, “wow, look how big I am.” I don’t think I will ever look at old photos and see only the good memory and not see overweight girl in addition . But the important thing is that I can recognize that it’s past. I see that I’ve changed, both physically and mentally. I’m not the person in those photos. I am much more confident, driven, and overall much happier.
Losing weight is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Our bodies can achieve so much more than we think they can. I gave up alcohol for about 5 months just to prove to myself that I could do it (and I love my happy hour.) You have to test your limits and then try to break them and climb higher and higher every time.
I used to only have my long-term goal for what I hoped to look like after losing all my weight. Now I constantly set new short term and long term goals that really don’t have much purpose or reason other than to test my limits. Currently, my goal is to do 10 pull-ups by July 4th without any resistance bands or help up from my trainer. Why did I set this goal? I just wanted to see if I can do it – and I know I can with hard work.
I won’t ever say losing weight is easy. If it was, I wouldn’t still be trying to get there. But once you learn to embrace the mental game and are willing to challenge everything you thought you could do, it will get easier.
|June 4, 2013|
You all know I’m a Disney nut – and if you’re a Dole Whip fan, you know how long that line is at Disneyland. The last time I went, there was NO LINE! So, I did what any Dole Whip fan would do: run to the counter all giddy and ready for a nice cold cup of whip. But then reality set in when I realized I had just eaten, was not hungry, and should probably not eat the calories and sugar, so I backed away slowly as my impulsive self was starting to calm down.
This inspired me to make a healthier alternative to the iconic Dole Whip. One that might satisfy my craving without the guilt. My recipe may not ever be the real thing, but for a healthier alternative, I think it hits the mark. (But I still made plans to indulge in the real thing sometime soon. Can you blame a girl? – Included a pic of my iphone convo with my best friend. We are definitely planning a day with a morning run so we can spare the calories for some Dole Whip.)
- 20 oz can of sliced pineapple
- 6 oz Chobani pineapple greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk or full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tbsp agave nectar
Drain the pineapple and put in a high speed blender or food processor. Then whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. (Alternative: if you don’t have an ice cream maker, put it in the freezer and stir every so often.) The texture of the Dole Whip will be a little airy (unless you used the freezer to make it) so you should use an ice cream scoop to serve, compressing the air out as you scoop. Also, let it soften a little by letting it sit for a few minutes. Then the consistency will be creamier like ice cream if you let it sit. Recipe makes for about 6 scoops.
**If you are willing to add the fat and calories, for a more true Dole-Whip-like recipe, swap the almond or coconut milk for heavy whipping cream. What can I say? They call it Dole Whip for a reason. It will still be healthier than the sugar loaded version from the park.
|May 4, 2013|
Cinco de Mayo is this weekend! That means margaritas and more Mexican food than you should probably eat. Before the fiesta begins, I want to give you a few pointers…
If you’re planning to go out:
Limit your chip eating or just don’t have any at all. Seriously! Chips at Mexican food restaurants are like crack. You eat one – next thing you know the whole basket is gone. Been there, done that! If you are going to indulge in chips, pre-plan how many chips you will eat before you go.
When you order your food, avoid any fried and cheesy items. Go for the fajitas or grilled chicken and skip the tortillas. Try the taco salad without the shell, hold the sour cream.
For drinks, stay away from beer and sugary cocktail drinks. A good restaurant will make a margarita from scratch using lime, versus the cheaper way – using a syrup. It’s a safer bet if the menu says it’s served on the rocks and tells you what type of tequila. Generally, they don’t like to blend a good tequila. But let’s be honest, if you’re going to have a drink, the option with the least amount of calories is the one without any mix-ins. Get a shot of tequila! OLE!
Easy Shrimp Ceviche
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 jalapeno
- 1/2 a cup of lime juice
- 2 roma tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 1/2 a cucumber
- 1/2 a bundle of cilantro (1.5 cups chopped)
- 1 lb prepped cooked shrimp (small)
- 1 mango
- 2 celery stalks
- sea salt to taste
Using the food processor, chop the garlic clove, jalapeno, roma tomatoes, red onion, and cucumber. You can add the lime juice if you need a little liquid to allow the processor to do it’s job. Place in a large mixing bowl.
Hand chop the cilantro, shrimp, mango, and celery stalks and add it to the mixing bowl. I hand chop this stuff because: 1) the cilantro will only wrap itself around the blade if you try to chop it with the food processor. 2) The shrimp is generally cut in larger pieces which you cant control with a food processor. 3) It would absolutely kill your mango into mush. 4) Celery strings might mess up your food processor.
Mix all the ingredients together (including any of the lime juice you didn’t already add). Add the sea salt to taste. Now you can stuff an avocado with it, serve with chips, or just grab a fork and dig in.
Optional: So I cheated on the shrimp by using pre-cooked cocktail shrimp which I then made sure all the tails and shells were taken off. But if you have the time and aren’t lazy, buy raw shrimp. After removing the shells and tails, place in a bag or tupperware with 1/2 cup of lime juice. Refrigerate until the shrimp turns opaque. Then boil the shrimp and put it in a bowl of ice to stop it from over-cooking. Then use this shrimp in the recipe above instead of the pre-cooked stuff.
- 1 shot of tequila
- 1 shot of lime juice
- 1/4 shot agave
- 1/4 peeled orange
- rimming salt
In a shaker, add all the ingredients together (minus the rimming salt) and mash the orange into the shaker. Add ice shake, shake, and pour in a glass rimmed with salt over fresh ice. If you think it’s too strong, feel free to add a little water to it. But no more than a shot or two of water, otherwise it will just be a watered down drink.
By using agave, it’s a cleaner way to get the sweet flavor without using a margarita sweet syrup. The orange replaces the Triple Sec, a citrus based liquor in most margarita recipes. Is the Triple Sec really necessary when you can use the real thing? Hope you enjoy 🙂
|January 29, 2013|
I’m a HUGE True Food Kitchen fan: food made with purpose and with intent that goes beyond flavor. Food that’s rich in nutrients and good for you. A good friend of mine that introduced me to this restaurant invited me to go hear Dr. Andrew Weil (the founder of the restaurant) speak. WHAT? How could I turn that down? Plus, he would be available to sign my copy of his cookbook after the show. Bonus points!
He spoke about so many things at this lecture I don’t even know where to start. It’s almost hard to pick and choose what to write about in this post. So I am going to pin point what had the biggest impact on me or what I personally found most interesting (and of course I will share the secret to his Kale Salad recipe).
Not only is Dr. Weil responsible for True Food Kitchen, he also has written numerous books about health and happiness. Many people in today’s society see happiness as being associated with luck or wealth. He believes “contentment is integral fulfillment.” What I took from this was not that we shouldn’t strive to better ourselves and reach for our goals, but to be able to stop and look our own life and say, “I am happy.” Sure, there are a lot of things I want to do and accomplish that I haven’t done yet, but it doesn’t mean I’m not content. Ultimately, being happy and content with your present state will only help you live a better life physically and mentally helping you to achieve those future goals.
During his seminar, he gave us a breathing technique to help with anxiety and stress. I tried it and it really does have a calming effect. It’s recommended to do no more than 4 sets of the exercise in one sitting.
- Place your feet flat on the floor. Back straight. Your tongue should be touching the roof of your mouth.
- Breath in through the nose for 4 seconds
- Hold for 7 seconds
- Breath out through the mouth (forcefully) for 8 seconds
And finally, I know this last part is random but I can’t help but to point this out. Leaving the lecture, one thing I found funny was the amount of people taking the elevator. After listening to an hour or two of Dr. Weil talk about being healthy and eating and exercising and all this good stuff, you would think that there would be an influx of people opting for the stairs…nope. I know our seats were more than a few flights up the stairs but seriously, such an inspiring speech I would think would make more people consider stairs as an option. Especially because going down is always easier than the climb up.
True Food Kitchen’s Kale Salad (with a few modifications)
- 1 bunch of kale
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/8 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, mashed
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- pinch of red pepper chili flakes
- 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- free range organic eggs (optional)
To prepare the kale, wash very thoroughly in cold water. Seriously, wash it good: One time I got kale from a farmer’s market and you know it was freshly picked when there were these little green bugs in there. Completely safe but still, you don’t want to eat those. Then slice the kale along the stem. The stems can be tough to eat so when eating raw kale, it’s normal to omit the stems from the recipe. Slice the leaves in smaller bites to your preference.
In a salad bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and chili flakes. Add the kale and toss until evenly coated. Let the salad sit at room temperature for 10 – 30 minutes. (That’s right! This is the secret. There’s something about the lemon and salt combo that pulls some of the bitterness out of kale according to Dr. Weil.) Then add the grated cheese and toss again. Serve into individual bowls. True Food Kitchen’s recipe calls for 1 tbs of toasted whole wheat bread crumbs which they tossed in with the cheese. I omitted this to be gluten-free friendly and I also try to avoid extra carbs when they can easily be excluded.
Pan fry an egg using some of the leftover salad dressing. I did mine sunny-side-up but you can prepare yours how you choose. Then slide it out of the pan onto your salad. The egg is something I added to the recipe, not served at True Food Kitchen. I personally like salads as a meal and thought it needed some additional protein (and eggs are my favorite). I am sure hard boiled eggs wouldn’t be half bad either if you are taking this as a packed lunch.
1. Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and very low in fat. One cup of kale has only 34 calories, 5% of your daily fiber and 0.5 grams of fat.
2. Kale is high in iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health. Iron deficiency is a leading cause of anemia, common in the vegan and vegetarian communities.
3. Kale is filled with Vitamin K and other antioxidants. Vitamin K and antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers.
4. Kale is great for cardiovascular support. Adding more kale to your diet can help lower cholesterol levels.
5. Kale is high in calcium. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk.