Tag Archives: healthy and fun

Food, Food….and for a change of pace…FOOD!

Well my friends, Chicago has been many things…one of which has been some AMAZING eats.  Lets take a look…shall we?!

Breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day, it also happens to be my favorite.

Gotta love a place that has stock Truvia for the coffee!

The menu was HUGE!  I narrowed it down a bit, and finally went with…

West Coast Crepes?!?!  You had me at avocado.

They didn’t skimp on the green stuff, either!

Huge chunks -o- cado!  Yummmmm

Shortly after this meal we walked deeper into the city, where we found a free zoo!  How awesome is that?

MONKEYYYYYY!  Have I mentioned my slight obsession with monkeys?!  There was also a huge exhibit full of sleeping gorillas.  If I didn’t think these gentle giants wouldnt rip me to shreds, I would have hopped in there with them.  I love the monkeys!

But I digress.  Time for more food.

One place I was directed to go for CUPCAKES was a place called Sprinkles.  Considering there are days when I go so far as daydream about cupcakes…I knew this place probably wouldn’t disappoint.

There is nothing like the sweet smell of icing hitting you in the face.  I knew this place and I were going to get along juuuuuuust fine.  How could I choose?!

The carrot cake ended up winning!  The icing looked divine, and everyone knows that is what I go for first!

In typical me fashion, I ripped off the top to save for last…and munched on the actual “cake” part of this beauty.

Super moist, hint of spice…and huge chunks of carrots, and nuts.  Awesome.

Now, what about the icing?!

Best.  Cupcake.  Ever. Seriously, and I am *THE* cupcake expert.

Bravo, Sprinkles…..you sold me big time.

If you are ever in the Chicago area,  you MUST check this place out.

Moving on…….more food!  🙂

The trouble with my brother planning all these food stops, is that he based most of them on “Diners Drive-Ins and Dives” from Food Network.  This made for amazing meals, but not so amazing nutrition facts.  This is a vacation, THIS is a vacation. I had to keep reminding myself of this fact as I was presented with meals such as these…

 

Smoque was a prime example of the classic BBQ joint.  This chopped brisket was great, minus the bun!  I was also not used to a tomato-based bbq sauce…so it was a nice surprise.  I am a fry junkie…and these did not disappoint.

This was also a prime example of a “dive”.  Leave it to my brother to find these places!

Which brings me to a HEALTHY meal!  Trust me, my stomach was more than ready for something a bit lighter.  Let me tell you….I am an official fan of “The Corner Bakery”.  They seem to be everywhere in Chicago, and offer great light/natural/organic options.  Panera like, but better!  I was a big fan.

OATMEAL!!!!!!  My poor stomach was in panic mode, but this meal seemed to calm it back to normal after massive amounts of not-so-healthy options!

Banana/Granola oatmeal with a crisp raisin bread slice.  YUM!

My stomach was also re-introduced to Odwalla juice.  Mmmmm….

Meals like this were few and far in between……but I was ecstatic, and enjoyed every bite.

All in all Chicago has been a great place.  Tons of stuff to do and even MORE stuff to eat.

Back to reality tomorrow, and time for a MAJOR detox for this blogger boy.  I have alot of calories to burn off.  My poor classes are going to hate me. 🙂

Have a great night everyone!  Long day tomorrow with planes, trains, and automobiles!  Back to Tennessee!

 

 

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Chicago Part Deux

Well, I am still here in the beautiful city of Chicago..

In typical tourist fashion, it was time to conquer Big John!

Craaaaazy view!

I am officially the only one on this trip willing to take ridiculous pictures such as the one above.  What can I say, I love making a fool of myself!

Totally believable, right?!?!?!?!  😛

All this tower climbin’ geeky picture takin’ Chicago craziness had worked up a beast of an appetite, which HAD to be filled by the one….

the only…

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza!!!!!!!

Giordanos seemed to be the most talked about, so thats what we chose.  Lets face it people.  Water and I are BFF.  However.  When it comes to pizza…a little carbonation is a necessity.

Now bring on the pie!

Cheesy.  Deep.  Chicago.  Goodness.

Pizza, to me, is all about the crust.  This one was AWESOME.  It was the equivalent of two thin crusts baked on top of each other in a literal pie shape.  This allowed for TONS of cheese/sauce.  The crust was still crisp though, which is perfection in my book.

No wonder this place is so popular!  This pizza was incredible!

I managed to slay 1.5 pieces.

Gooey pizza lovin’ right there, folks.

Chicago comes alive at night!  It was like another world!

Stay tuned for more Chicago fun including the best cupcake I have EVER had…fantastic crepes for breakfast…and a zoo, oh my!

Any other Chicago suggestions for me?!

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Pizza DOMINATION!

well folks….sometimes it is just called for to have an old fashioned pizza throw down.  In this particular instance, it was Mellow Mushroom….

And our SUPER nice waitress who was all about the blog!

Lets get right down to it.  Pizza domination time.

Mellow Mushroom is pizza, plain and simple.  Sure they have salads, sandwiches…etc, but if I am eating at the Mellow, I am going to SPLURGE!

They are famous for their crazy pizza names/creations….so we decided to get *4*

No, not four pizzas.  Two individual pies that were half a specialty pizza each.

  • Kosmic Karma – Pesto Swirl, Tomatoes, Cheese
  • Hot Potato – Sliced Potatoes (!!!), Ranch, Cheese
  • BBQ Chicken – BBQ chicken, BBQ Sauce, Cheese, and Bacon
  • Classic White – garlic and oil based with fresh mozz and roma tomatoes

I’m gonna go ahead and let the pictures speak for themselves…

(you know it is a good sign when the pizza makes the pan beneath it disappear)

The best part of essentially getting 4 different pizzas was getting to enjoy mini slices of all of them!

There was SO much pizza domination, that we ended up with an entire (and crazy looking) pizza for leftover domination!  (anyone with me on cold leftover pizza being as good/better than hot and fresh?)

I don’t think there will be any issues finishing this cutie over the next couple of hours…..errrr…days.  🙂

Whats YOUR favorite pizza?

 

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Accidental Vegetarian?

Time for a good ole fashioned debate, bloggers.  I need some input just because I am curious, and this thought randomly popped into my mind.

Last year for Lent I gave up all forms of meat for 40 days. I don’t really know why I gave up meat….but the only other alternative to giving up meat was giving up sweets, and I think after 40 days with no sugar I would have went on a massive killing spree.

It was tough at first.  The first week or so really got to me.  Being a Group Exercise Instructor means alot of calories burnt, and with little to no protein going in, I was struggling big time.

At this point I began researching more and more about other protein sourced, and experimenting with different products.  I was feeling sluggish and drained.  I accounted it to all the workouts I was doing, when in reality, I think the lack of protein was starting to affect my health.

It was at this point when I began to find some great meat/protein alternatives to help me survive the second half of my no meat journey!

I started relying on beans, legumes, and nut butters for alot of my protein.  There were also TONS of vegetarian friendly protein powders out there.  Slowly but surely I was feeling more “normal” again, and the process didn’t seem so hard.

Having a store like Earth Fare, Whole Foods, or something similar that caters to a healthy lifestyle will always have plenty of vegetarian friendly items, so shopping is not difficult.  It was my personal experience that even the big chain stores such as WalMart also offered a surprising number of vegetarian friendly/organic items.

Carbs became my friends, as well as vegetables.  Pretty soon I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything going meatless.

It was finally time for the 40 days to be over.  I had survived no meat, and felt great!  I remember “splurging” the night I finished by going to the local Thai place and having shrimp stir fry.

Boy, was that a mistake.

I don’t know if my body was just not used to animal protein, or what….but I was SICK!  Maybe I jumped too quickly into the meat department, but my stomach most certainly said it wanted no part of it.

I slowly began to extend my non-meat journey just for the fear of getting sick again!  Shockingly, it was easier than I thought.

Pretty soon, the 40 days had turned into almost 8 months of no meat!

As it stands now, I eat meat.  In Tyler terms this means chicken or turkey.  I rarely EVER eat red meat, simply because I don’t crave it *and* the fat content in red meat skeeves me out!

So my question to YOU, where do you stand on the meat issue?

Are you vegetarian?

Vegan?

Carnivore?

If you are a vegetarian/vegan…why?

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Zuuuuuuuumba!

Time for a much needed post about my current Group Ex obsession, ZUMBA!

So, you walk into your local gym…peer in the studio, and see people from wall to wall dancing like maniacs to awesome music and sweating like there is some sort of an indoor shower on.  This is a workout?!?!?   You bet.

What exactly IS Zumba?

ZUMBA FITNESS®. MOVING THE WORLD TO A NEW BEAT.
Are you ready to party yourself into shape? That’s exactly what the Zumba® program is all about. It’s an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party that’s moving millions of people toward joy and health.

Who We Are

Zumba Fitness® is the only Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that blends red-hot international music, created by Grammy Award-winning producers, and contagious steps to form a “fitness-party” that is downright addictive.

Since its inception in 2001, Zumba Fitness has grown to become the world’s largest – and most successful – dance-fitness program with more than 10 million people of all shapes, sizes and ages taking weekly Zumba classes in over 90,000 locations across more than 110 countries.

Source

I, like many other people, was very skeptical of this class.  From personal experience of being an outright clutz….I was worried that my two left feet would leave me feeling overwhelmed, off beat, and embarrassed.  That being said, you have to suck it up…and GO!  Zumba, like any other workout class, can seem completely overwhelming and scary.  Sure, you may not know the moves right away…but I can almost guarantee that you won’t be in it alone.   I felt totally out of place and un-coordinated the first time I took a Zumba class.  The next time was a little better, the next…slightly better…etc.  Point is, the more you come back, the more you actually LEARN the moves.

There are songs now that I actually *know* and look forward to.  That is a great feeling!

Aside from dancing like a fool and having a downright blast…I leave COVERED in sweat.  This is a workout like no other.  This uses the entire body.  After your first class, let me know how those calves are feeling when you wake up.  Mine felt like I had been walking on tip toes for 2 1/2 weeks. Oucccccccch (in a good way!)

So lets get right to the nitty gritty.

Lets start with my personal favorite.  Not really sure WHY I am obsessed with this song, but I get downright gitty when I hear this one starting…

Check out these other fun songs!

(I’m a big fan of the “octopus arms” in that one)

Fun, right?!?!

You need to try this class.  All instructors are different, with various styles and music choices.  Our instructor, Holly, also choreographs alot of her own moves to current songs (of which we couldn’t upload, sorry guys!) but trust me when I say….you will feel like you are breaking it down…club style.

Now lets get to the best part…the calorie burn!

The “average” person can burn up to 500-800 calories in an hour of Zumba (!!)  Sweet!

One other important aspect I want to talk about is shoe selection.  The first couple of times I mistakingly wore my ultra stiff running shoes to Zumba.  Now, while these shoes are great for running, they were not so good for all the lateral movements required for shaking my groove thing.

Straight from the Zumba site.

What are the best shoes to wear in a Zumba class?

Zumba Fitness recommends that you wear “cross training” or “aerobic” style shoes. They provide the cushion and medial lateral support needed for side-to-side movements. They also have low traction rubber for easy sliding and turning. Please be careful with “running shoes” since they use a heavy tread on the bottom and are designed for forward movement.

So now it’s time to find a class, and shake your groove thing.

If you have questions, ask away!  I will try my best to answer or find someone who can.

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Sometimes, pizza is a must.

You heard me.

Sometimes, you gotta do it.

After two CRAZY classes tonight (awesome job, btw, to both classes!  We packed em out!) I was beyond starving…so Steph and I split a pizza from chefs!

Steph and I managed to inhale the entire thing.  It wasn’t pretty.  Chefs always customizes it for us!  They forgot the spinach, boo.  Other than that, it was perfection.  It has whole wheat crust, which TOTALLY justifies the entire thing, right?!

This is my face pre-pizza…

Check out my Vogue office wall art.  GaGa of COURSE!

Speaking of GaGa…..guess where I will be in 4 short days…….

I have FLOOR tickets to see the one, the only, LADY GAGA!!!!!! I don’t think there are enough words in the English language to quite describe the excitement that is brewing inside me!!!!!! EEEEKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!  I am stoked beyond words.

(I find it completely hilarious that Lady G is playing at a place called the KFC Yum Center, but heck…I would follow her anywhere!)

To top off the night….

Pizza, Prunes, & Lady GaGa?!?!  We are off to a good week, folks.

Until next time…..I’m out!  I have a bed that is calling my name.  More like screaming at this point.  Does anyone else out there look forward to going to bed as much as me?!  Maybe I am not alone in my craziness.

Sweet Z’s…

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Top ‘o The Mornin’

Good morning bloggies!  How goes it?

I want to first rewind just a bit to last night when I was in a complete haze as to what I was going to make for dinner.  I am in a weird place right now where I desperately need groceries, but going out of town this weekend (LADY GAGA ANYONE?!?!?) is causing me to keep putting it off.

Thus, I had to dig around in the kitchen to find something, which turned into a major comfort food kinda night.

Chicken Corn Chowder…..and…..wait for it, wait for itttt…..

Toasted cheese sammie.  Check out this cheesy goodness….

I am swallowing hard just looking at it!  Trust me, it was beyond delicious.

Making the traditional “grilled cheese” in the oven is an easy way eliminate alot of the butter and extra calories/grease.  Just spritz the bread with a bit of butter spray, and bake @ 350* until nice and toasty….mmmm….

Pretty good combo for a thrown together dinner, eh?

Yum!

Now, lets fast forward time back to this morning, where it was a Dunkin Donuts kind of morning.  As some of you know, my fellow workout enthusiast Ginny and I are blogging about trying every item on the DD menu.  We only have *one* bite, we swear!

That being said, I am pretty sure we are the only ones who BRING our breakfast to a donut shop. 🙂

Clifford Crunch ( 😀 ), Strawberries, and Greek Yogurt!

If you have not tried Greek Yogurt yet, give it a try.  It is a thickened yogurt with a slightly more tart taste.  Also, it is packed with protein!

I like to combine the cereal with the Yogurt!  (gotta have some DD coffee, too!)

Had two lovely dates this morning!

Only my Ginny would bring a SALAD to Dunkin Donuts at 7am.  🙂  I love it.

Courtney was there too!  No salad for her, though.

We also savored our BITE of Donut.  Mmmmm….

Vanilla Cream…..Mmmmmm.  Life is too short not to have a bite of a donut.  Come on people.

Well, time for the day to officially begin!  Work, work, and more work!  Teaching Spin AND Total Body HIIT tonight…should be killer, I have an awesome new Back Track to use!

And just because I am curious…

Whats your favorite comfort food?

 

 

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