Posts Tagged by Orange County
|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.
|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 🙂