Category Archives: Food Blogging

On Keeping It Real

I stay away from talking about weight, diet, eating habits, and the like on the blog for a number of reasons. Mostly it’s because I’m not qualified to talk about those things and it drives me nuts when people that aren’t qualified (try to) give advice. I know most of these people are trying to be helpful, but what I don’t think they realize is that they can actually have the opposite effect. I see it rampant in the blogging world, because, as a society, we’re so obsessed with diet, exercise, and “looking and feeling our best” (which really means “looking what we think society sees as the best”). That being said, this post is about how I feel about my own body, and how it affects me not only as a runner, but as a human being.

I actually had this post on the back-burner for awhile because I wasn’t really sure exactly what I wanted to say or how to say it. But when I saw that Lauren Fleshman posted about keeping it real over on the Runner’s World blog, I knew it was time for me to share.

Growing up I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. When I was very young (toddler and pre-school age) I would eat anything and everything, no questions asked. I then went through a phase where I was extremely picky; my mom referred to it as “eating like a bird.” Being naturally thin, I never thought about my weight during those dangerous pre-teen years when girls start to realize society puts a high price on “skinny.” I do remember whining about not fitting into size 0 shorts at some point in middle school—to which my mother quickly shot down with a “you are a woman. You will have hips!” I started swimming in middle school as well and, despite being in a bathing suit in front of people (sometimes hundreds), I was never self conscious. I also ate anything I wanted. Double quarter pounder with cheese, super-sized, from McDonald’s once in awhile? You bet. I always ate a balance of “good” and “bad,” and my parents did a good job of keeping overly processed foods out of our reach. My ability to devour food without any consequences carried throughout college. I did have a period after my freshman swim season ended where I put on a few pounds (I’d say maybe 5-10), but it quickly dropped once I was home for the summer and back to swimming regularly and not spending my weekends at keg parties.

Once I graduated college, though, I realized I didn’t have the type of physical activity in my life that allowed me to eat whatever I wanted. I spent periods throughout that first year worried about putting on weight, but not doing much about it. Eventually, I decided to start running just to give myself a safety net; for some reason, I worried that one day I would just wake up and realize I’d packed on post-college pounds. It never happened and I fell in love with running enough to keep doing it, regardless of what it did (or didn’t do) for my waistline.

About a year into running I discovered social media. Twitter! Blogs! Running and fitness groups! Instagram! For the first time in my life, I questioned my body. I’m the “thinnest” I’ve ever been by almost ten pounds, but, at any moment, I can log on to any social media site and read about how someone just crushed a workout or ate a super healthy meal (also known as “eating clean”). I can see pictures of their ripped and lean bodies and tiny meals. Or they just had a killer long run and are stuffing their faces with mounds of pancakes, but still seem to be extremely fit. I’m sure there are plenty of people who scroll right through those posts and think nothing of it, but not me. When I see these kinds of posts, I tend to have two very different reactions. Part of me wants to be able to be disciplined to “eat clean,” workout hard, and be the epitome of physical fitness, but then the other part of me wants to still workout hard and run fast, while eating whatever I want, whenever I want. I want to show people who are overly restrictive about food and intense about their workouts that you only live once. If I want a second serving, I’m going to go for it!

I find myself thinking about food all the time, but this isn’t new. You can guarantee that as I’m finishing a meal, I’m already thinking (and asking) about the next one; it drives my mom crazy. But I find myself thinking about it in different terms these days. I compare myself to the images people project of their “healthy living” lifestyles on the Internet, and I can’t escape thinking that I’m eating too much and not the right stuff. I find myself wondering if I’m weird for not craving things like salads and fruit and “healthy” things all the time. Or if I just don’t have enough willpower. I’m the kind of person that if given the option between a fruit salad or home fries with my brunch entree, I will always choose home fries. If I go with the assumed healthier option, I may feel better about myself in that moment, but I’m usually not satisfied. If I go with what I really want, I enjoy it, but usually feel guilty afterwards. As you can imagine, that type of internal struggle can get tiresome (and annoying).

When I find myself worrying about food, it isn’t because of its health value (or lack thereof), but rather what it may mean for the image of my body. And that’s a pretty messed up way to think about food, isn’t it? If I’m expecting my body to perform to the best of it’s ability, I should treat it right and fuel it the way it needs to be fueled. And, at the same time, if I want a little dessert after dinner I shouldn’t feel like I “don’t deserve it.”

Life is about so much more than the number on a scale or the number on the tag in your jeans, or how much skin sits over your pants when you’re sitting down. No, I don’t have a six pack and I have cellulite under my butt that, no matter how many squats I do, doesn’t seem to go away. And guess what? I’m still strong and athletic and am able to push my body to get it to perform to the best of its ability. I’ve always compared myself to others in every aspect of my life, but at the end of the day I’m living my life and no one else’s. What good does it do to compare myself to someone in a completely different situation? They say comparison is the theft of joy and I truly believe it. Everyone is different—that’s the beauty of being human—so how can you compare what you’re eating and how you’re working out to what someone else is doing? Sure, it’s easier said than done, but I think, as a society, we need to do a better job of encouraging one another to live our own lives and to support one another in that journey. If we’re all open and honest about our struggles and try to keep it real, at the end of the day I think we’ll all feel a little bit better. I know I will.

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Filed under Food Blogging, Life, Running

Pierogi Party

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Millennial Central for Mrs. T’s Pierogies. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Today’s post is just in time for that little football game scheduled for Sunday. You know the one I’m talking about, right? The SUPERBOWL! It’s in my home state (New Jersey, not to be confused by all of the advertisements that reference New York, which ironically is the state I was born & grew up in, at least the first few years), and while I’m not a huge football fan, I am a big food fan, and the Superbowl is the perfect excuse to indulge in some of my favorites. One thing I hadn’t thought about including in my Superbowl spread until recently, though, is pierogies!

Sweet Potato Pierogis? Yes please.

Sweet Potato Pierogis? Yes please.

When I was given the opportunity to try out Mrs. T Pierogies, I jumped at the offer. I absolutely love pierogies and have enjoyed Mrs. T’s for years as a convenient and easy addition to weeknight meals. My favorite way to prepare them has been with some sauteed onion and cabbage, but before I was a vegetarian I also loved them alongside some kielbasa! I’m yet to meet a combination I don’t like, though the classic potato and onion is my favorite. They’re really quick and easy to make; you can bake, boil, or pan-fry them which gives you a lot of different options. I try to keep some in my freezer just in case I can’t come up with a weeknight meal idea, a recipe doesn’t work out, or I just don’t feel like cooking. I’m even in the process of trying to come up with a pierogi bake of sorts for a later post. But back to Superbowl snacks…

In addition to making (veggie) chorizo & caramelized onion cheesy dip, Irish nachos, and buffalo cauliflower, I’m also planning on baking some Mrs. T Pierogies that will basically act as stuffed chips – perfect for dipping into the chorizo dip, guacamole, mustard, or just eaten on their own. I know they’ll be a great addition to a wine and cheese night I’m planning later in the month with a bunch of my girlfriends, too… everyone needs foods with sustenance when they’re sampling wines, and these will be perfect. Who knew that pierogies could be so versatile?!

Feel free to check out Mrs. T’s WebsiteFacebook, or Twitter for more information and to see all the different kinds of pierogies they offer!

Tell me…
Are you a pierogi fan? What’s your favorite combination? 

1 Comment

Filed under Food Blogging, Food Review, Vegetarian/Vegan

Make It Vegetarian

One of the hardest parts about being a vegetarian (for me) has been the fear of missing out on delicious food. As a self proclaimed food lover, I like having the ability to try anything and everything. But as a vegetarian, that obviously leaves out a lot of things I can try. When I first decided to take the plunge I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to come up with enough creative ways to eat the meat-centric things I loved before. It isn’t always easy, but thanks to a lot of meat substitutes I’ve been able to have my fair share of faux meat favorites (albeit sparingly, since they’re usually on the highly processed side).

One thing I haven’t had in awhile is a cheesesteak… obviously. I’ve seen quite a few recipes on Pinterest for a “low carb” version of them with green peppers instead of rolls. So even though I love carbs like no one’s business, I liked the idea of swapping out the bread for green peppers since it meant more veggies. Of course the original recipe called for thinly sliced roast beef, so I decided to swap it out for seitan instead. For those of you that haven’t had (or haven’t even heard of) seitan, it’s made from vital wheat gluten (so it’s out for anyone that’s gluten-free), and has a chewy texture that is very similar to meat. You can make your own, or buy it at the grocery store (usually found with the tofu and tempeh). While I used regular cheese, you could always use a vegan cheese to make the entire meal vegan. I’ve since used the sietan concoction with sautéed onion and peppers on rolls, and it really is the closest you can get to “the real thing.”

It’s a really easy dinner that comes together quickly, and you won’t miss the meat. So whether you’re a vegetarian (or vegan) that has a hankering for a meat-centric classic, you’re looking to cut back on the amount of meat you eat, or you just want to try something new, make these! And of course, report back to let me know what you think.

Vegetarian Green Pepper Stuffed Philly Cheesesteaks

Vegetarian Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers
– makes 2 servings (one whole pepper each) –

Ingredients:
2 medium green peppers, cut in half length wise and de-seeded
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced in half moons
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
8 oz. Seitan (strips or cubes work)
8 slices provolone or swiss cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2. In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté until the onions are caramelized. This takes time!! (at least 30 minutes). If you’re pressed for time, you only have to sauté them until they are translucent and soft, about 5-10 minutes. 
3. Add the sietan, minced garlic, and soy sauce. Sauté for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the seitan is heated through and everything is combined nicely. 
4. Take the halved green peppers, and add a slice of cheese to each. Fill the pepper with the sietan and onion mixture until it’s overflowing. Top with another piece of cheese. 
5. On a sprayed baking sheet, bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbling. 

5 Comments

Filed under Food Blogging, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

What I Drank Wednesday: Holiday Edition

Look at me, posting a WIDW two weeks in a row! This week’s theme is Holiday drinks, and includes beer, coffee, and tea. I’m a sucker for themed drinks, and like to try them all. A lot of times, though, I find that themed and overly marketed drinks are average at best. The ones below are the exception to my made up rule in that they are themed, and they’re good. We should probably start off with the good stuff (the beer) first, right?!

Harpoon’s Winter Warmer: I had this beer for the first time at the end of the season last year and loved it, so I knew that as soon as it became acceptable to talk about the Holidays, I had to get my hands on some. In simple terms, it tastes like the Holidays (cinnamon, nutmeg), but not in an overpowering way. It manages to be light, but also warm you up, as the name suggests. This is definitely the kind of beer you want to have on hand for Holiday get togethers! [Spiced Ale, 5.9% ABV]

Winter Warmer

This will warm you up!

Shiner’s Holiday Cheer: Despite having “Holiday” in the name, it’s far from what you would expect as a traditional Holiday beer (at least for me). When I think of Winter Holidays, I think of the spices found in the Winter Warmer. This brew, however, throws that logic out the window and instead you get the taste of peaches and pecans. It is so delightfully fruity and light, and reminds me a lot of Magic Hat’s #9. Despite the summery flavors, it definitely works as a Holiday beer, and I can just picture sipping it in Shiner, Texas (where it likely makes sense to have such a light and fruity beer for winter). [Dunkelweizen, 5.4% ABV]

Holiday Cheer

Peaches & pecans are needed in the snow

Southern Tier’s Creme Brûlée: Oh man. I should preface this by saying up until a few weeks ago, I was very much not a stout fan. I could drink a Guinness if it was given to me, but it was never my drink of choice. They were always just a little too heavy and bitter for me. But after finally trying Founder’s Breakfast Stout a few weeks ago while out after work, and really liking it, I decided it was about time to try more. So when Jenny suggested I give Southern Tier’s Creme Brûlée a try (with some dark chocolate), I made sure to pick it up when I went to the liquor store… and I got the last one! As soon as I opened the bottle I could smell the vanilla and caramel; it smelled like dessert. I was nervous to give it a try because I had such high hopes, and I wasn’t disappointed! It was so good. Not only could I smell the vanilla and caramel, but I could taste it. It’s a perfect “dessert beer,” or a beer to have when you want something a little heavier and sweet, rather than a light sweet beer (such as the Holiday Cheer above). [Imperial Milk Stout, 9.5% ABV]

Creme Brulee

Slowly becoming a stout lover

Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee: No more beer! Starbucks puts out this blend every year, and it’s really good. I actually love all of their seasonal blends (Thanksgiving, Holiday, Christmas, etc.), but this may be my favorite. Made up of beans from a bunch of different regions (South America and Indonesia), I enjoy it every morning, but find it also pairs well with desserts. It’s a darker roast, but isn’t overpowering, and smells fabulous.

Starbucks Christmas Blend

Jingle jingle

Celestial Seasonings’ Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Tea: I had heard of this tea for a few years before actually trying it. I couldn’t  believe that there was actually a tea flavor that tasted like sugar cookies. When I finally tried it last year I was in shock; not only did it taste like sugar cookies, but it tastes like my favorite frosted cake-like sugar cookies (like the one pictured below)! Well, the people were right – it tastes like a sugar cookie. This is a perfect tea for when I’m craving something sweet but don’t have anything around. The smell is phenomenal, and I promise it tastes as good as it smells. It’s perfect for someone like me that will almost always choose coffee over tea, but actually wants tea every once in awhile.

Sugar cookie, sugar cookie tea. Both delicious.

Sugar cookie, sugar cookie tea. Both delicious.

I love taking advantage of different food and drink based on the season, and have been lucky enough to discover some really great ones.

Tell me…
Do you have any favorite Holiday themed drinks?
Any Holiday themed drinks I should try?

4 Comments

Filed under Beer, Food Blogging, Food Review

Beet Ya

Beets are an interesting vegetable, don’t you think? They’re deep red, taste like the earth (but not in a “I just put dirt in my mouth” way), and are actually quite versatile. Admittedly, I didn’t really embrace the beet up until recently. Thanks to the CSA program I’ve belonged to for the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to try both regular (red) and golden beets multiple times, and I’ve used them in a lot of different ways. Some of my favorites have been these beet burgers, as well as simply roasting them with some potatoes. I also gravitate towards beet salads when I’m dining out, but that’s mostly because they seem to always top the salad with goat cheese (one of my favorites).

So when I got beets as part of my very last CSA box of the season, I wanted to do something a little different with them. After looking around my refrigerator and pantry, I decided on beet quesadillas! It sounds weird, but it works. The combination of the earthy beets sautéed in spices, their chard-like leafy greens, and some melty cheese all folded into a tortilla was a perfect weeknight dinner. I would definitely recommend giving these a try. But be forewarned, you may experience some panic moments in the bathroom the next day!

Beet Quesadilla | FoodosaurusRex.com

Beet Quesadillas
– makes 6 quesadillas – 

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp oil
Bunch of beets (mine was 3 large beets) and their greens
1 medium onion
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp water
1.5 cups shredded cheese
6 burrito sized tortillas

Directions:
1. Remove the beet greens, wash  and roughly chop them; put them aside. Peel and chop the beets into small cubes. Dice the onion. 
2. In a medium pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the chopped onions and sauté for 5 minutes until they start to become translucent. Add the cubed beets and continue to sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the spices and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the beets are soft.
3. Slowly add the chopped beet greens, being sure to stir them around to make sure they are coated in the oil remaining in the pan. As you’re doing this, add the 2 Tbsp of water to help deglaze the pan. Sauté until the beet greens are wilted. 
4. Put the sautéd mix aside, and wipe the pan clean. 
5. Spray the pan with cooking spray, and re-heat over medium heat. 
6. Sprinkle a quarter cup of shredded cheese onto one side of the tortilla. Top with 2-4 tablespoons of the beet mixture. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the cheese and beet mixture. 
7. Cook the tortilla for about 1-2 minutes, flip, and cook the other side for the same amount of time.*
8. Repeat with the remaining ingredients

*NOTE: In order to make sure my quesadillas stayed warm after I cooked them on the stovetop, I put them into the oven to stay warm (300 degrees for just a few minutes). This will of course depend on the number of quesadillas you are making, and how long the whole process will take. 

5 Comments

Filed under Food Blogging, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

What Vegetarians Eat: Thanksgiving Edition

A lot of times when people find out you’re vegetarian, you get questions like, “So, um, what do you eat?” “Well do you at least eat chicken? Fish?” as well as the always funny jokes about only eating lettuce. And when it comes to the holidays, it can be tricky navigating the buffet table when the main focus of holiday get togethers is food, and often times, they’re meat-based.

Last year I made it easy on myself (read: I was lazy) since it was my first Thanksgiving as an official vegetarian, and I opted to only eat the side dishes. This was easy, because like many, the side dishes are my favorite part. I had stuffing (made with veggie sausage), green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, maple glazed Brussels sprouts, corn and peas, mashed turnips, creamed pearl onions, and cranberry sauce. That’s obviously a lot of food, and I was more than satisfied without having a “main” on my plate. This will likely continue to be my approach for holiday events at a friend or family member’s house, but I’ve decided to get a little more creative this year.

No turkey here! I certainly don't miss cleaning & stuffing it...

No turkey here! I certainly don’t miss cleaning & stuffing it…

When dreaming up my Thanksgiving menu, I decided it was time to try a turkey alternative. No, I’m not talking about a tofurkey – I wanted to make something homemade! While I’ve opted to have a “main dish” this year, that doesn’t mean I plan to skimp on the sides; they are my favorite part! And since meal planning is something I really enjoy doing, I figured I would share with you all what I plan on serving for my Vegetarian Thanksgiving! That way, if you’re scrounging around for a last minute side dish idea maybe one of these will spark your interest, or, you can always save them for next year.

2013 Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu
Seitan Roast – recipe found here

Brussels Sprout Mac ‘n Cheese – recipe found here
Veggie Stuffing – my recipe found here
Peas & Corn
Mashed Potatoes
Apple & Cranberry Crumble

I’m going to be so full, and I’ll have leftovers for days. It’s going to rule.

What’s your favorite side dish? 

19 Comments

Filed under Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Vegetarian/Vegan

Accepting Fall & A Giveaway Winner

First up, the winner of my Oloves Giveaway thanks to Random.org is commenter #2: Lauren G.! Send me an e-mail with your shipping information and the olives will be on their way!

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My favorite season is summer, and I have no problem admitting that each year as fall creeps up, I get a little sad. Sure, fall means apple picking, cider, cooler (but not cold) weather, pretty foliage, etc., but it means we’re that much closer to winter, which I dread. It probably doesn’t help that I’m not into the whole pumpkin obsession either (except for pumpkin beers) since I don’t really love the flavor. Despite my love affair with summer, I don’t loathe fall – I appreciate all the things that come with it, especially when it comes to food and fashion.

Even though peach season is almost over, it’s perfect weather for apples here in New Jersey. So my fresh box the last few weeks has included peaches and apples, resulting in an overflowing crisper drawer full of the two fruits. My sister is a baking fiend, and any time she’s home, she’s in the kitchen just throwing together desserts on a whim. While she was still home during the summer she made a phenomenal peach and blueberry crumble, so I decided to try an recreate it with peaches and apples.

I love cooking, but baking still intimidates me. Some people (like my sister) just have a knack for baking and can throw things together easily; that definitely isn’t how I roll. I’m extremely comfortable in the kitchen cooking savory dishes, but for whatever reason, baking requires a different level of confidence I just don’t have, so I rely heavily on recipes when it comes to baking. But this past Sunday, I went a bit out of my comfort zone and threw together this simple peach and apple crumble, that is perfect for breakfast, a snack, or dessert!

Peach & Apple Crumble | FoodosaurusRex.com

Peach & Apple Crumble
– serves 4 – 

Ingredients:
2 apples, seeds removed and sliced (I used Gala, but you can use your favorite type)
2 peaches, pitted and sliced (I used white peaches, but same applies here – any kind will work)
2 Tbsp butter, cut into little pats (8 squares)
2 tsp flour
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
For Crumble:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp butter, cut into little pats

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the apple and peach slices, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and pats of butter.
3. Spray a a cake pan with cooking spray, and add in the fruit mixture. 
4. In the same bowl you had the fruit, add the remaining flour, sugar, butter, and oats. Use a fork to mix everything together, slightly mashing the butter in the process. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the fruit. 
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown.

6 Comments

Filed under Baking, Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

A Day in the Life & An Oloves Olives Giveaway!

When I saw that Angela and Jill were doing a “Day in the Life” post round-up, I wanted to get in on the fun. While my daily life is far from exciting or intense, I think it’s always fun to learn about other people’s professions and what they do on a daily basis (outside of blogging, twittering, etc.)! So, without further ado, here is a day in the life of a running foodie who happens to also be a technical writer at a software development company to pay the bills (and support my running & food obsession)! If you’re only here for the giveaway info, skip to the bottom of this post to find out more!

7:08am – alarm goes off, and I snooze for 9 minutes. Eventually when the snooze alarm goes off, I roll over and check the all important things on my phone: E-mail, Twitter, Instagram, and TimeHop. Then I get ready (which is very low maintenance).

7:40am – pack lunch and divvy up coffee. This almost always involves me second guessing the amount of food I pack. And if I ever think I haven’t packed enough, I’m usually right.

7:50am – out the door to work. This is give or take, depending on how slow I’m moving. One of our neighbors (a little boy) likes to “race” us… so if he happens to be out there getting in his car to go to school, I pretend to hurry as quickly as I can to my car to “try and beat him.”

8:15-8:25am – after dealing with the wonderful NJ traffic, I arrive at work.

8:30 – 9:15 am – turn on my computer, get situated, and try to figure out what’s on deck for the day. This also usually involves catching up on blogs, and eating cereal (I keep a box of cereal at my desk, but bring a container of milk)… unless it’s Friday which means BAGELS!

9:15am – 12:00pm – working on various projects, including updating user guides, creating and sending technical advisories to our partner and clients based on updates to the software or any issues that may have happened (or are currently happening), work on system release notes, and do other writing related tasks, while also helping support when they need it (I used to be in support).

12:00pm – LUNCH TIME! The most magical hour of the day. I usually eat in the office kitchen, or outside if it’s nice enough (I rarely go out).

1:00 – 5:30pm – more of the same, with an afternoon break for blog reading and catching up on news. Snacks are always involved during the second half of the day – crackers, yogurt, fruit, chocolate… I’m always starving by 2:30pm, and then again as soon as I get home.

6:05 – 6:15pm – depending on traffic, I arrive home to two kitties anxiously awaiting dinner. I’m almost always guaranteed to see one peering out of a front window as I pull up, only to run away as I make my way to the front door.

6:15pm – 7:30/7:45pm – after I feed the cats, grab myself a snack, and change, it’s out the door for a run (anywhere from 3 to 8 miles, hence the time).

7:45pm – dinner and relaxing. This involves me cooking (usually still wet with sweat from my run), snacking, and watching the news and other TV favorites. I have a dining room table, but I eat 99.9% of my meals on the couch in front of the TV. I know it isn’t ideal, but it’s really the only “mindless” time I have for the day – so I enjoy it!

9:30pm – I take a shower and get things ready for the next day (making things for lunch, deciding what I’m going to wear, etc.).

10:30pm – 11:30pm – I try to get into bed by 10:30pm at the latest every night. I don’t always fall asleep right away (I usually spend anywhere from 30-45 minutes reading), but I’m almost always asleep by 11:30pm, giving me about 7.5 hours before I do it all over again!

So my days are far from exciting, but I guess they’re pretty busy… especially on the days that involve errands, doctor’s appointments, meetings, and other fun grown-up things. But there is one common theme every single day: snacking. I love snacks almost as much as I love a good meal, and I find that they can really elevate my mood if they’re particularly good. So when the folks at Oloves reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in trying some of their olives and then giving some away to a lucky reader, I enthusiastically accepted.

oloves1

I love olives, especially the olive bar at the grocery store. But, at anywhere from $6 – $8 a pound, I rarely buy them because I always find myself getting carried away. Oloves sent me a few packages of olives to try; Mediterranean, Lemon, and Hot Chili, along with some hummus, bruschetta, and tapenade dip. I immediately tore into the hot chili pack because I’m obsessed with spicy food. I wasn’t really sure what to expect – would they be actual olives? Freeze dried? I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were real olives in a little bit of brine. I assumed since the entire package is only 50 calories that there wouldn’t be much in the bag, but there was a solid amount of olives… definitely enough for a snack!

oloves2

Verdict? They’re really good! They taste like fresh olives you’d pick up at an olive bar, but they’re in a convenient package and portioned to the right amount for a quick snack. The bottom line is they’re something I would absolutely spend my own money on, and plan to in the future. This is an easy way for me to get my olive fix without feeling guilty for spending a lot of money at the olive bar. Horray for Oloves!

So,want to win your own pack of Oloves Olives? Time for the Giveaway Details! All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me:
What’s your favorite work day snack?
*Contest will stay open until Sunday 10/22!

Disclaimer: Oloves sent me the package of olives and dips to try at no cost to me. All opinions, as always, are my own.

20 Comments

Filed under Food Blogging, Food Review, Giveaway

Disneyland: The FOOD!

It would be remiss if I didn’t mention the food aspect of Disneyland. I mean, this did start off as a food blog, didn’t it?

Magic on the West Coast

Magic on the West Coast

Admittedly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to Disneyland dining. With the introduction of the Disney Dining Plan a few years ago, my return to yearly Disney trips has always included them. When I used to go with my family, there wasn’t a dining plan option. So, we did a variety of quick service and table service meals, while trying not to spend too much money (we would even go to the grocery store and get already cooked chicken and sides for dinner at least one night). The dining plans now really allow you to enjoy all that Disney has to offer when it comes to dining. It’s pretty awesome to know you have X number of meals available to you, to use however you please. At least, that’s the case for Disney World. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how the Disneyland dining plans work, aside from the fact that they’re different than WDW’s options, and are not worth it (according to multiple people).

That being said, we opted out of a dining plan option while in Disneyland, and just did our own thing. Having never been to Disneyland, I really didn’t know where to start when it came to dining; what restaurants were the best? Who had vegetarian friendly food? Where would we get the most bang for our buck? I did as much research as I could, and decided to book two meals ahead of time: dinner on Saturday night post-10k and pre-half marathon, and breakfast on Sunday morning after the half. I figured those were the two most important meals of the weekend, and I didn’t want to run into any issues by not having reservations.

When we arrived on Friday, we weren’t sure what to have for dinner, after devouring some delicious mini cupcakes at the cupcake meet-up. But as we were walking through Downtown Disney, we spotted Tortilla Jo’s, and knew we had to eat there. When faced with the option to eat Mexican and Southwestern food, we will almost always choose it. There was a bit of a wait, but we were eating so early (we had been up since 2am EDT) we didn’t mind the wait. Once seated, I had no problem enjoying a skinny margarita and guacamole, followed by a delicious veggie burrito. By the time dinner was over we were stuffed to the gills and ready for bed… no dessert necessary.

Does it get any better than this?

Does it get any better than this?

After the race on Saturday morning, by the time we showered and were in the parks and finally hungry, it was around 11am. We headed to Paradise Pier in California Adventure and got ourselves a giant sourdough bread bowl filled with soup. Only after we ordered and started eating did I realize we were enjoying a San Francisco favorite, a city we’d be visiting in just a few days… go figure! The bread was the perfect post-race treat, and the broccoli and cheddar soup that came in it was awesome – just the right amount of cheese and cream to broccoli ratio. Since we had a later meal (we’ll call it brunch?), I opted for ice cream as an early afternoon treat once in Disneyland. I certainly was not a poster child for proper pre and post race fueling on this trip, but hey, you have to live a little.

Rainbow sprinkles. Always.

Rainbow sprinkles. Always.

Dinner reservations on Saturday were at 6pm, which gave us enough time to enjoy the parks before dinner so we could head back to the hotel afterwards for an early bedtime. I had heard wonderful things about the Monte Cristo sandwich served in New Orleans Square, so I knew we had to go. After reading a few reviews and tips, I decided to make a reservation at Cafe Orleans, rather than Blue Bayou (it was noted as slightly cheaper, but pretty much the same). We enjoyed some Parmesan garlic fries to start, and by the time our Monte Cristo’s came out, I was already on my way to being full. As you can see in the picture below, it’s A LOT of (fried) food. I wound up only eating one piece, and brought the rest back to the hotel (we had a fridge and microwave!). It was delicious, but heavy. There were a bunch of tip son FourSquare saying it was big enough to share, and we should have listened. Oh well, next time!

Fried, cheesy deliciousness.

Fried, cheesy deliciousness.

Sunday’s breakfast was planned at Carnation Cafe, another noted favorite by many of the blogs and articles I read while researching. Apparently their head chef has worked in Disneyland for 55+ years! I hadn’t really looked at the menu before (which is rare for me) but I was pleased to see Huevos Rancheros – they are one of my favorite breakfasts! The eggs were perfectly poached and I’m always thrilled to see things like black beans, avocados, and cilantro on my plate. We weren’t rushed at all, and it was nice to sit back and relax after the half marathon.

huevos

Pretty much all of my favorite things.

Being the bad blogger that I am, there were also a lot of other delicious things we had on our trip that I just didn’t take a picture of. Like an awesome jalapeno stuffed pretzel with a Torpedo IPA at Bayside Brews and an epic java explosion sundae from Ghirardelli, both in California Adventure.

Our final meal wasn’t actually in Disneyland, but rather at Buca di Beppo, about a mile down the road with my cousin and his family. My cousin has lived in California all his life (after my Aunt packed up and moved there when she was 18 – my mom always jokes that she moved across the country with garbage bags full of her stuff), and we don’t get to see each other that often because of the distance. Since he only lives about an hour outside of Disneyland, we made sure to meet up with the whole gang (he has three kids, all under the age of 5!). It was a great way to cap off our Disneyland trip.

Since we spent the next 3 1/2 days in San Francisco, you better believe the eating did not stop there! I can’t wait to share that part of the trip with you as well… I fell completely in love with that city.

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Filed under Food Blogging, Food Review, Travel

Meatless Monday: White Bean Basil Burgers

One of the things I miss most about no longer eating meat is a good hamburger. I can easily turn down a steak, chicken (even wings!), and seafood. But I won’t try to pretend that I don’t miss a juicy hamburger (well, 99.9% of the time it’s a cheeseburger) from time to time. There was even an period when I was in middle school that my go-to order when out to eat was some type of burger and fries. It wasn’t because I was picky eater – it was simply because I loved them that much! So now that I’m a vegetarian, I think it’s natural that I find myself making some type of veggie burger frequently.

In the past my go-to base for a veggie burger has been black beans… partially because I love black beans, and partially because they seem to be the default for most restaurant and packaged veggie burgers. As I’ve delved more and more into a vegetarian diet and cooking in general, I’ve come to realize that you can really transform almost anything if you’re willing to take a little time and get creative.

These particular burgers came about due to a craving for both falafel and a veggie burger. I knew I had white beans at home (but no chickpeas), so my first instinct was to try and make a generic falafel based on white beans instead of chickpeas. While trying to remember what else I had laying around at home, I remembered the fresh basil from the previous week’s fresh box that was definitely on its last legs. That’s when I realized I could use the white beans and basil together, and satisfy my veggie burger craving; enter the White Bean Basil Burgers!

With the perfect combination of basil, red onion, and fresh sliced tomato and mozzarella, these burgers are a great end-0f-summer treat. I didn’t have mine on a bun simply because I didn’t have any, but they would be great on an Italian roll!

White Bean Basil Burger | FoodosaurusRex.com

White Bean Basil Burgers
– makes 4 burgers –

Ingredients:
1 15 oz. can white beans (cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 small red onion, diced
10 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade (just chopped works too)
1 tsp rosemary
2 tsp oil for cooking
Optional: Sliced tomato & fresh mozzarella cheese to top the burgers

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, mash the white bean burgers with a potato masher or a fork.
2. Once the white beans are mashed, add in the rest of the ingredients: bread crumbs, garlic, onion, basil, and rosemary, stirring to make sure everything is combined well. Form into 4 patties.
4. Heat 2 tsp of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook on each side for about 6-8 minutes, flipping once.
5. Serve with sliced tomato, mozzarella cheese, and additional fresh basil if desired.

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Filed under Food Blogging, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan