Jan 112013
 

I didn’t mean to take two months to celebrate Michael’s new job. But the whole holidays-are-filling-my-schedule thing happened and we kept putting it off. I wanted to do it before the end of the year so I made a reservation and then did everything I could NOT to cancel it (like we’d done twice before). I had a Groupon deal for Portland Prime, a nice steakhouse in downtown Portland that neither of us have been to before.

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The best steak house I’ve ever been to in my entire life, is of course Craft in Vegas. It’s my favorite restaurant on the planet (so far) and I’ve yet to have a steak that compares. Sadly, I can’t say that Portland has ever given me a fantastic steak (yet) better than Craft.

Michael and I had an early dinner after work one night after Christmas. I ignored the feeling that we were entering early bird special territory, and just went with it. Sometimes it’s nice having an earlier dinner, missing the crowds, avoiding traffic, and then going home at a reasonable hour (sheesh, when did I get so old?).

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The restaurant itself was beautiful and classy. The service was fast, friendly and attentive. Michael was dying to get onion rings and I caved, after all it was his night! The onion rings were just as huge as they look in the picture. They were fried in Ninkasi beer batter and were crunchy and tasty. I ate three of the smallest ones there. I’m not a huge onion ring fan simply because it’s fried, but these were good!

A small chopped salad came with the entrees. The salad was by far my favorite part of the meal. It was crisp and healthy, slightly sweet with a raspberry vinaigrette and topped with all my favorite things: tomatoes, pickled red onions, sunflower seeds and chickpeas.

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There was also some focaccia bread with the salad course. It was soft and spongy, a little on the greasy side with the olive oil, but rich in garlic and salt flavors. After that, they gave us a small bowl of lemon sorbet to cleanse our palate (so fancy!).

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The sorbet was great. I loved how strong the lemon flavor was. Finally, the entrees arrived. Michael got the New York Strip steak which was covered in peppercorns and some glaze. He loved it.

My flat iron steak was sweet–sweeter than I’m used to–and I think it was balsamic. The sweetness was balanced with the melted blue cheese on top and the roasted beets underneath the cheese.

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It came with a risotto cake, which was made with squash and greens. I liked the risotto cake for most of it, but by the end of the cake it tasted a little grainy and I was too stuffed to finish it.

The green beans were overdone. I happen to like my green beans a little on the soft side so I didn’t mind, but I imagine a food critic slamming them for that. I had one glass of Malbec with my steak. It was earthy and rich and balanced the flavors of the sweet steak.

We rolled ourselves to the car, completely full. I definitely ate too much and could have skipped the onion rings and probably have been better off.

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On the way to the car, we passed by the above sign. :) Awesome. I’d planned on going to Ben and Jerry’s for dessert (had another Groupon) but we had zero room for dessert. So I used the groupon to buy two cartons of ice cream for later.

We got home at 7 and while I was tempted to immediately go to bed (red wine and red meat tend to do that to me), I decided to stay up a bit and start packing up the Christmas decorations. I hate that! I wish they could stay up just a little bit longer…and Maya is definitely unhappy that we are removing her hiding place (under the tree).

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I also finished the book I was reading. I really recommend it if you’re looking for a good read. It’s called “The Hangman’s Daughter” by Oliver Potzsch. I really liked the book because it was an easy and interesting read. I think the title is misleading, because the main characters were not the daughter. Other than that, it’s worth a read!

QUESTION: Do you have anything to celebrate?

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Jul 092012
 

A coworker of mine inspired this blog post. We were chatting recently about her amazing weight loss (she’s lost over 50 pounds so far and looks great!) and she voiced her anxiety about an upcoming family vacation to some theme parks. It got me thinking…how DO you stay on plan and order the right foods when you are faced with fried food options? Restaurant eating is hard enough, what about those theme park food carts? Disastrous!

Obviously you can’t bring in your own food to someplace like a state fair or Disneyland. Otherwise, my suggestion would be to bring your own healthy snacks (apples, bananas, protein bars, etc).

Although, I’d honestly probably stash a few easy snacks in my purse (package of nuts, protein bar, or granola bar) and try to bring it in. This post is the result of some brain-storming on how to avoid the fried foods trap at theme parks.

Look For Protein

Protein is your healthiest bet for theme-park eating. This is a tightrope, however, because a lot of the proteins will be fried: fried chicken, fish n’ chips, corndogs and so on. Some of the ideas I had for “good” protein are these:

Cheeseburgers or veggie burgers without the bun. Skipping the bun will probably save 250 calories (and a lot of carbs).

Chicken and veggie kebabs.  “Meat on a stick” isn’t hard to find at a fair, just look for the right kind!

How about a chicken wrap? Or ham wrap? The wraps usually have less calories and carbs than a bread sandwich option. Go light on the cheese and mayo and you should be good.

Get Fish n’ chips but remove the breading and give your fries to a friend to eat.

Look for grilled or rotisserie chicken options instead of fried. When I was at the Texas State Fair last year, I saw people walking around with huge turkey legs. It looked bizarre, but it’s probably a smart choice (as long as it’s not deep fried).

Fish tacos! They are delicious and if it’s not fried, a much better option for lunch.

 

Fruit and Veggies

This will probably be the harder find in a park. I can’t remember if I ever saw these types of options available. Really, I just remember caramel apples!

Look for fruit options whenever you can. Apples, bananas, oranges are easy and often an overlooked item at a food cart.

Apple slices with caramel are usually found at Fairs. But skip the caramel.

Salads with dressing on the side — see if you can add chicken to your Caesar salad

Desserts

You don’t have to deprive yourself of every treat at your day of fun. The trick with eating in moderation is eating things you like in smaller portions. Other tip: share with other people. Sometimes all you really need is a few bites of something sweet.

Get frozen yogurt but skip the toppings. I’m a little iffy on this one. I don’t know that frozen yogurt is that much better than ice cream…

How about a fruit smoothie? It would be a satisfying and better way to beat the heat.

Split an ice cream cone with your partner.

Get a popsicle instead of ice cream.

 

Other Ideas

Is there a Starbucks in the park? They have healthier options — sandwiches, yogurt with granola, fruit salad, etc.

Look for Greek food! It’s much healthier–get a pita sandwich with veggies and hummus, or a gyro and go light on the sauce.

Is there Asian food as an option? Get a veggie, meat and rice bowl.

Watch the liquid calories. Skip the soda and lemonade and get iced tea.

If you skip the butter, popcorn actually isn’t that bad for you.

Finally

Finally, try doing a Slow-Carb Diet for awhile. Beans, beans, beans! I’m telling you. It’s a good choice. And if there is Mexican food options you’re golden. Get beans and protein, skip the rice and you’ll be full and happy.

As always, watch portion sizes. I’m sure theme park portions are just as huge as restaurant portions. Share one meal with a friend or partner and supplement that other sandwich half with fruit.

I think what the hardest part is about going to fairs and parks is not necessarily the lack of options, but really the hardest part is TEMPTATION. Walking through the park, hot from the sun, hanging out with friends and family, seeing strangers walk around with huge pretzels dripping in cheese or ridiculously sloppy cheeseburgers can hard to resist. Stay strong!

If you do give in to temptation, just remember that it’s not the end of the world. You CAN reverse the slip-up by making good choices the rest of the time. One treat will not undo all your efforts…as long as you keep working at it!

QUESTION: What are your suggestions for surviving theme park eating?

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