Finding a Balance: Burgers and Big Workouts

Hi Friends!

Farmer Ben and I are back from our road trip/vacation down south! Can I tell you a secret? I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much barbecue in my life…I loved every morsel…but I must admit, it is good to be home, sleeping in our own bed and cooking at home. I’ll do a full post on that later…

I need to get something off my chest.

I was perusing instagram the other day and came across a photo of a giant cheeseburger with French fries. To put you in the right frame of mind, the burger was similar to this one, minus the braised kale:

Pictures like this speak to me.

Pictures like this speak to me.

Anyway, my immediate thoughts? “Oh my, that looks delicious!”

Obviously, I was drawn to it and stopped to read the caption and comments.

I won’t tell you who the user was but the caption was something along the lines of “Yes, I ate this…trying to tell myself that my ridiculously long, strenuous workout makes it okay.”

Cue screeching record sound… What?! 

I’m sorry… but that is ridiculous.

Why do you have to do a ridiculously long and strenuous workout in order to justify eating a cheeseburger and fries? Why do you have to burn a million calories in order to enjoy it? Or, make a vow to run a million miles the next day? Why can’t you just eat it and say, “man, that was delicious,” without feeling guilty?

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am in no way saying that you should go out and only eat cheeseburgers and fries (or whatever your guilty pleasure of choice may be), obviously.

Not at all… but if you eat well most of the time, and yes, if you do ridiculously long and strenuous workouts more often than not (as this person does), then what the heck? Eat a damn cheeseburger!

Occasionally enjoying an “unhealthy” meal is not going to “ruin all of your hard work,” and it’s not going to make you gain 20 pounds or ruin your diet/workout regimen. Depending on the burger and your digestive system, you may be a bit bloated or gassy after…but it’s not going to ruin your overall health plan. It’s about balance, people!

I guess what I found most disturbing was the user who posted this picture. You are a role model in a healthy living community. That is not a healthy state of mind…and it’s a common theme I am finding as I peruse my instagram and twitter feeds of bloggers/people who claim to have a healthy lifestyle…people I look up to!

People would rather drink a protein shake or eat an energy bar full of artificial sweeteners and ingredients they can’t pronounce, than enjoy real, whole foods that happen to be calorie dense. I see more protein shakes with a side of celery or a few apple slices  than real, balanced meals on my feed. WHY?!

When did we get so far away from balance…and eating real food?

Again, I am NOT saying that a cheeseburger and fries is “healthy meal,” nor am I saying that all protein shakes/energy bars are bad…not at all!

I’m just saying, everything in moderation.

Neither of these options is going to completely nourish/sustain a person, especially a highly active person.

Balance is necessary.

When you start looking at food as the enemy or depriving yourself…or even trying to justify what you are eating with ridiculously long and strenuous workouts, then there is a problem…and this I am saying from personal experience.  On the same note, you also can’t look to food for comfort/stress relief…again, it’s about balance.

I am in no way perfect, and I am totally guilty of having that small voice in my head saying, “are you sure you want to eat that? Do you know how many calories are in it?!”

But, I’ve come to appreciate balance and I’ve finally learned the “everything in moderation” principle…Yes, I watch what I eat…but I don’t completely deprive myself and I don’t freak out after eating a burger. I’m no expert, but I think I’m a lot healthier now because of this.

Thanks for letting me ramble.

So tell me, what are your thoughts? Cheeseburgers, yes or no? Are you guilty of trying to justify your meals with workouts?  Favorite food to drool over on Instagram?


Real Talk: Smoke Signals, Lake Placid-Review

After our trip up Whiteface Mountain, Ben and I decided to head into Lake Placid to wander around. After meandering for an hour or so, we ducked into a restaurant.

The restaurant was called Smoke Signals and is relatively new.  We were enticed by the re-purposed décor, the fun bar crowd and tasty looking menu, which used local meats, cheeses and veggies. What could go wrong?!

So, we put our names in for a table…. supposedly it would be a fifteen minute wait. There were two hostesses working…one disappeared to help bus/re-set tables.

Now, we should have realized when there were a number of open tables in the bar area, this may have been a bad idea…but we waited, thinking, “let’s give this place a shot.”

After 40 minutes, I was starting to get antsy and was about to ask Ben if we could go somewhere else. I noticed the hostess made a table for a large group that came in and then a couple that came in five minutes after us went up and complained… they were seated a few minutes later. Then we saw people sitting at the previously mentioned, empty tables.

At that point, having been passed over, I gave the hostess the stink eye. Not just an irritated scowl, but THE stink eye. She noticed….and realized that she forgot about us (even though she wrote our name down).

The girl hurried over to us and, without apologizing, asked if we preferred to wait a few more minutes for a table on the patio… I, still giving the stink eye, said “at this point it really doesn’t matter.”

So, she stomped led us over to a table and we were seated, inside. This was fine…but then, moments later, we watched her take another couple out to the patio. I almost hit the roof.

Now, don’t get me wrong, having worked in a restaurant for quite some time, I understand that stuff happens. Sometimes you have to wait a little longer…but to tell us it would be a “bit longer for an outdoor table (after having been passed over twice)” and then watching someone else get seated at said table, moments later? COME ON. And in all honesty, the hostess is the first person you see when you enter a restaurant. Maybe having a less indifferent teenager welcoming customers would be a good idea.

Luckily, our server, Christina, was awesome. She was very attentive and answered any questions we had. This was the restaurant’s saving grace.

A few minutes after ordering, we received corn bread… awesome, yes? No. It was cold and sticky. Being a bread lover, I was disappointed. But, I loved the mason jar water glasses and the condiment basket.

What seemed like an eternity later, we received our food. Again, normally, I don’t mind waiting as I understand, when things get busy, the kitchen slows down…but… I ordered a salad and macaroni and cheese…and Ben ordered a sandwich with French fries and baked beans.

I would venture a guess that we waited about 45-60 minutes for a salad and a sandwich. Honestly, the French fries were probably the most labor intensive item to prepare… but 45 minutes?

So how was the food?

Ben's pulled chicken and French fries

Ben’s pulled chicken and French fries

My chipotle Caesar and macaroni and cheese

My chipotle Caesar and macaroni and cheese

It wasn’t bad…

I didn’t taste any chipotle in my chipotle Caesar salad…instead I got a really strong horseradish taste… not that I mind horseradish, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. The macaroni and cheese was really good, not too heavy, but it’s a food that’s difficult to mess up.

Ben’s chicken sandwich wasn’t bad either.., however, there was a heavy cheese sauce that just overpowered the chicken and Ben ended up scraping a lot of it off. The French fries were hand cut and tasty. He also ordered a side of baked beans, which were not bad, but a bit too sweet.

Overall, I’d say our experience was mediocre…again, the food wasn’t bad, but it was nothing to write home about–though we were both really glad they made an effort to use of local growers/producers–and the prices were reasonable, our total bill came out to $37 for two microbrews and our meals and we left full..

Now, I really wanted to like this place. I really did! Ben and I both hope that our experience was just part of the growing pains associated with a new restaurant and I hope they work everything out. Not including our time waiting for a table, we were at the restaurant for over an hour and a half–Not that I like to be rushed while eating, but holy moly, that long for a sandwich and a salad?!

I will say, get rid of that hostess….and not just because she forgot about us.

On a more positive note, the bartender looked like he was having a good time and all of the bar crowd looked happy, there were also some really good happy hour specials..the other food we saw coming out of the kitchen looked tasty, but I don’t think we’ll be rushing back to Smoke Signals anytime soon.

Have you tried any new restaurants lately? Where did you go and how was it? Ever had a bad experience? Discuss.


All Dolled Up

As you know, yesterday the hubby and I celebrated two years of marriage. Here’s a little recap.

For breakfast, Farmer Ben made cinnamon swirl French Toast with mascarpone and his homemade strawberry topping…along with some super strong French Roast. Divine.

Delicious-ness.

Delicious-ness.

I had planned on making a special anniversary dinner, but between working like a mad-woman, wedding things and an unexpected trip to my mother’s house after work, I had neither the time nor the ambition to cook anything last night.

Luckily, we had a gift certificate to use at a local fancy-schmancy restaurant.

I hurried home after visiting with my mother and hurried to get all dolled up.  I also need to mention that I love having short hair because it literally cuts getting ready time in half. The perks of having an awesome hair stylist.

Ben came home and saw that I was dressed up and asked where we were going.

He later admitted that he wanted to jump up and down and yell, “Yes! We’re going out!!!”

I’ll let you imagine that for a moment.

Anyway, after making a quick reservation and giving Ben some time to get ready, we headed out the door.

This was our first time at this restaurant and it did not disappoint. Unfortunately Ben wouldn’t let me take any photos of our food, but I will tell you that it was delicious and we will be going back. We started our with a bottle of Spanish red…obviously, my pick.

I forced Ben to take pictures before our wine came out.

Pre-dinner photos:

So handsome.

So handsome.

Please notice my gorgeous tan-lines.

Please notice my gorgeous tan-lines.

After I forced politely asked our server to take a picture of us on our anniversary, we each received a complimentary glass of champagne. Winning!

We really do like each other!

We really do like each other!

Anyway, I’m sure you’re interested in what we had for dinner. I know that’s all I would want to know….

Appetizer:

The house smoked salmon. And complimentary olives, baguette and butter…all were devoured.

Entrees:

Ben ordered an elk steak special and oh my goodness it was good.

I ordered twin filets with tawny port and a gorgonzola demi…totally worth it. I have a weakness for gorgonzola, so–completely unlike my normal dining experience–I knew exactly what I was going to have within two minutes of looking over the menu.

Both of our entrees came with smashed potatoes (not the bagged kind that most restaurants get!), carrots and green beans topped with REAL Hollandaise. Yum!

For dessert, we split the crème brulee. Again, fantastic.

Although the prices were higher than most places in the area, it was totally worth it…even if we hadn’t had a gift certificate that covered most of our bill. Maybe it’s because I work in a restaurant, but I didn’t find anything over-priced, especially for the quality of the food.

The food was good and hand-crafted, the service was excellent and the atmosphere was perfect for a quiet dinner for two–not too casual and not overly pretentious, either.  We left with full bellies and happy mouths.

Overall it was a perfect evening.

If you’re in the area and looking for a great restaurant, check out Anthony’s Restaurant and Bistro.

What about you? Where do you go to celebrate? What is your go-to meal when you order? Do you take forever or do you know right away? Are you an obnoxious photo-taker like me? Wine: Red or White? Domestic or imported?

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today… I won’t be posting too much over the next few days at it is wedding weekend for our dear friends! I can’t wait for the celebrations. So, happy early weekend!


Scenes from a Day Off

Last week, the hubby and I barely saw each other (Other than Monday when we were in Boston). I ended up working both jobs and doing a lot of running around most days, so I was home to sleep…and that’s pretty much it.

Needless to say, we were looking forward to our day (much-needed!) day of rest on Sunday. We hadn’t been to Burlington in forever so we decided to take a day trip across the lake. We both needed a good day off. So, off to Burlington we went…..

Beautiful day for a drive around the lake…

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Weird Self Portrait….

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White-Legged Kicking Back in the passenger seat…..

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Farmer Ben Driving… Bridge to VT

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A Draw Bridge…waiting for the boaters.

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One of our favorite places to eat… note the page numbers of the beverage list!

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Farmer Ben’s Breakfast.(Local) Scrambled eggs with cheddar and scallions, bread, butter, hash browns and a pork product that I ended up eating…

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My Breakfast: (Local) Eggs Benedict over a house-made English muffin, kale, mushrooms–mostly eaten by Farmer Ben– and hash browns

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Burlington Landmark, Al’s French Fries. My first visit… I don’t know what they use for hamburger buns…but OMG-SO GOOD.

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The main event

Not pictured:

  • Two Running Shoe stores and my awesome new Mizunos!
  • Browsing and people-watching on Church Street
  • Artisan Olive Oil and Vinegar sampling at the Saratoga Olive Oil Co.
  • Moroccan Mint Iced Teas at Uncommon Grounds
  • Getting lost
  • Healthy Living Market
  • Wally’s Bagels Delicious Bagels made on-site in VT. THE BEST!
  • Super cheap gas (seriously, I paid $.17 less than I usually do at the cheapest place in town! Grr!!!)
  • A chipotle-infused maple syrup (YUM!) randomly exploding in my back seat (Luckily, it was in a bag so the mess was minimal)
  • Sharing a glass of Spanish Red and watching a cheesy sci-fi flick to unwind–at home! Gasp!

Phew! What a great day!

What did you do this weekend? Have you ever had a messy explosion/spill in your car?


Life (mostly Food) Update In Photos…

Hi there!

I know… I have so much to catch up on in the blogging aspect of things. This weekend was Strides for James and it was so much fun! I’ll be doing a post that details a little bit of everything… but I honestly haven’t had a moment to sit and collect my thoughts. So, to keep you until then, it was awesome. Our first year was a success.

So, I’ve been taking a lot of random pictures on my phone lately. Mostly of food and some other things…but mostly food.

So here’s a look at what I’ve been eating and doing lately. 

I have a serious weakness for scallops…and margaritas.

Cinco de Mayo Seafood Paella...totally not local, but so good. I have a serious weakness for scallops...and margaritas.

Cinco de Mayo Seafood Paella…totally not local, but so good.

I’m seeing a food theme here…

I'm seeing a food theme here...crockpot Mexican chicken over rice with avocados, sour cream and NY Cheddar.. Yum.

Crock-pot Mexican chicken over rice with avocados, sour cream and NY Cheddar.. Yum.

This is what happens when you are planning a fun run and go to the grocery store at 6:00 am…you leave with two cases of free bananas and one discounted case.

This is what happens when you are planning a fun run and go to the grocery store at 6:00 am...you leave with two cases of free bananas and one discounted case. Winning!

Winning!

After the race…we had a lot of leftover bananas…so I’ve baking a ton of banana bread (gluten-free–recipes coming!) and making things like this (sorry the picture isn’t great)…

Banana Split Ice Cream Cake!

Banana Split Ice Cream Cake!

Speaking of baking banana bread, I was checking to see if one of the loaves was done…and stupidly burnt the tip of my finger, through a towel. Only me…

I’m also happy to report, after taking home about a half case of bananas, we are down to seven. Farmer Ben and I are a great team in the kitchen!

A mid-week run past a neighbor’s house… somehow we came home with two dozen eggs!

What?! It's warm enough to wear shorts?!

What?! It’s warm enough to wear shorts?! And we got free eggs?!

Another sunny day was spent out working in the garden (a week later, it went down to 28 at night… gah!)

Tomato cages are serious business

Tomato cages are serious business

And this last piece… just made me chuckle.

saw this on Facebook...

saw this on Facebook…

Happy Wednesday!

What have you been up to lately? 

Eaten anything exciting?! 


Daniel Fast-The Plate

In my last post, I spilled the beans on what the hubs and I have been up to for the last three weeks. I also gave a brief explanation as to what the logistics of the Daniel Fast are… In my next post, I’ll discuss my personal experience.

This is the fun post. I’m talking about the food.

So, what’s been on my plate?

As you probably know, I am a huge breakfast person…as in, I can barely survive if I skip it. That being said, I stuck with oatmeal most days of the fast.

Because you can’t have dairy or sugar during the fast, I would just cook with water, then throw in some apples, cinnamon and peanut butter to spice it up a bit. Other days I would do bananas and pecans. It all works.

Toward the end of the fast, I started cooking the oats in (unsweetened) almond milk to add a little more calcium and iron. I’ve been tracking my food on MFP for a long time and was noticing that I wasn’t getting enough of the two. The almond milk definitely helped. 

My main snacks were popcorn, apples and matzos with peanut butter.

The key to making this fast work is to plan your meals. It’s possible to go out for lunch or  dinner on this plan, but it’s very difficult–Mostly because you never really know what restaurants are putting in your food.  Thus, you want to plan ahead and cook a  few meals at a time.

I tried to snap pictures of what I was eating throughout the 21 days. Apples and oatmeal aren’t very pretty, so here are a few photos of other meals.  Keep in mind, these are all meat and dairy free; Vegan, with more restrictions. 

I’d say we still ate some pretty delicious things!

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Burrito Bowls: quinoa, beans, vegan sausage (ToFurky Brand), onions, tomatoes garlic peppers, olives and guacamole

 

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Skillet Meal (makes multiple servings): Corn, black beans, tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and peppers served over volcano rice. Great with a splash of hot sauce.

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Veggie Packed Miso Soup: Red Miso, Water, rice noodles, peas, broccoli, sprouts, tofu

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Veggie Packed Tabouleh: sprouts, carrots, avocado, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, scallions, cashews, lemon juice, parsley served over romaine

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Tofu Breakfast Scramble: tofu, curry powder, potatoes, onion, garlic, broccoli and spinach.

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Mostly Plain Pasta: Organic Bow-tie Pasta, Olive Oil, smoked salt, black olives, parsley and some secret spices

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Fresh Tomato Sauce and Pasta: Whole wheat pasta, tomatoes, olives, garlic, onion, basil, parsley, capers and peppers

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Salad and Latkes–kind of: greens and broccoli with balsamic, shredded potatoes and onions, olive oil and leftover tomato sauce.

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Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao): One of two times we ate out, veganized for us.

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This was probably one of my favorite meals-more salad with balsamic and a Moroccan chickpea stew over rice. YUM!!!!

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Sweet Potato Quinoa Burger (I adapted the Lean Green Bean’s recipe) over greens with Tabasco sauce

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Veganized Minestrone with rutabega, kale, potatoes, carrots and loads of other veggies.

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Popcorn: my snack of choice for the fast, popped on the stove in the trusty old cast iron, seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper and smokey paprika.

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Thai coconut curry soup with lots of veg and tofu

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The other time I ate out-a burrito less the shell: rice, peppers, onion, tempeh, black beans, tomatoes and roasted potatoes, with salsa. Yum!

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Another pasta sauce with vegan sausage. Onions, garlic, peppers, basil, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and capers.

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Tofu Tikka Masala

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Another breakfast scramble.

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Another salad, matzos and peanut butter ( another go-to snack)

Again, this isn’t everything, but it’s a good description of what our diet was like.

We ate a lot of beans, dark leafy greens, pasta, potatoes and rice. I’m not complaining. I love all of these things. We also ate a lot of tofu and tried tempeh in a few meals.

Peanut butter and apples became a staple (not that both of these weren’t before..but it was more pronounced).

We also experimented with seasoning and made sure to pack in a lot of veggies in almost every meal. I noticed that the amount of fat, sugars, and cholesterol I was eating dropped a lot, not that it was high before, but it was even lower in these three weeks.

I mentioned before that we didn’t have any coffee… I tried to trick myself by drinking hot water out of my coffee mug. It worked about half the time.

Anyway, stay tuned for my next post where I will give you a look into my personal experience with the fast.

Do you have any favorite vegan staples? Do you think you’d be able to give up meat, dairy, drinks and sugar for three weeks? What would you miss the most?  Let me know!


More Notes to Self…

1. Daylight Savings Time is really messing with me…but I am determined to use it to my advantage.

2. Except this morning…. I got up at 5:30, saw that it was 20 degrees outside and then crawled back in bed… Fitness Fail.

3. Speaking of cold weather, it’s time to invest in some winter running gear.

4. Especially because I just printed out my Turkey Trot Registration Form!!!

5. I’m finding that I have so much to be thankful for… more than I can possibly say in these 30 days of November.

6. Is anyone else really intrigued by this?

7. So far my challenges for the month are going well.

I turned down going out to lunch and dinner three times this week and have been paying attention to what I eat.

I have gotten up and made myself breakfast and coffee… including a delicious scrambled egg over toast this morning.

Now if only I could get my butt up in the morning….

8. Romans 8:28

9. I am in the beginning stages of planning a race. It’s thrilling, scary, and a little stressful, but I am so excited to put it together. If you have any pointers, please fill me in!!!

10. I love my hubs.

11. Tomorrow I’m headed out for a belated birthday dinner and I cannot wait (hello, delicious margarita and fish tacos!).

12. Life is good.