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Got Strawberries?

Oh Strawberries! You are luscious, sweet, soft and juicy. There’s NOTHING that can keep us away from you! Not even an over heated car beeping for us to pull over…

This past Friday evening, Mary & I had the pleasure of attending an event put on by the California Strawberry Commission that was held in Newport Beach at TrueFood Kitchen, a restaurant I have long wanted to check out since I heard rave reviews about this place when it first opened from a friend. Mary and I both agreed, that we cannot WAIT to return to one of their locations (in Santa Monica, Newport, San Diego or in Arizona). There is something for everyone on the menu; whether you’re Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan or carnivore they are sure to have something that will tickle your fancy. BUT before we could enjoy all this strawberry and fresh amazing food fun, we had to get there first!!

Of all the times for a radiator hose to decide to pop off & cause Mary’s car to overheat & throw poor Mary into a huge scare, it HAD to be on our way to the strawberry fun?! Apparently, it did! But, we kept our cool and tried to make light of the situation and hope for the best that we would make it (since we had a scare that the radiator had either blown or the hose was leaking, which meant we would have had to been towed somewhere!) Luckily all it took was some coolant, water and a hose to be put back on and then we were on our way again an hour later! Thank goodness for social media, I was able to notify through my iPhone on Facebook, e-mail and twitter to a few who were attending and in charge of the event our whereabouts and dilemma. Everyone was so welcoming & gracious to us despite our major delay.

As we arrived we were greeted with food & drinks galore, opting for the Strawberry Mojito as it WAS a strawberry event!! It was delicious. I love any fruity drink, so this one was right up my alley. The appetizers were all amazing as well, with many strawberry goodies. Besides strawberries galore, there were several items from the TrueFood starter menu we got to enjoy including the; Shitake & Tofu Lettuce Cups (very light, crisp and refreshing with a zangy sauce that I loved), Thai Spicy Shrimp Dumplings (which we could have eaten all day given the chance), a Kale Salad that was marinated in lemon juice and wasn’t overcooked and soggy nor was it too hard and chewy. It was just right! There was also pizza that was fresh right out of the oven that really hit the spot. My favorite though has to be the steak tacos! Freshly baked tortillas with tender steak and topped with a generous amount of avocado (another favorite of mine!), tomato, cabbage, with spices and sauce. They were breath-taking. I loved every morsel of those things!

While we were munching & mingling, we had the pleasure to listen to a great lecture on the health benefits of strawberries from Illinois-based Nutrition Expert & Author, Mr. David Grotto. He explained the many benefits of a healthy diet in a fun and humorous way as he mentioned the 2 most important staples: Alcohol & Dessert! (In moderation of course). He then went on to explain the true meaning of “WTF?” for us: Where’s The Fiber? With year-round availability, California strawberries are a healthy and versatile fruit to enjoy every day that are PACKED with fiber.

Being a total book nerd I was excited that in our “swag bags” we were all given copies of his book, 101 Optimal Life Foods, which covers many of the ailments we deal with day in & day out; many of which can be reversed by simple changes in your diet and/or lifestyle. Diets that can help us treat each of these troubles as well as recipes to go with them are discussed in great detail. Here is a picture of me with David Grotto, the author of this life-changing book.

Here are some fun facts I learned about Strawberries!!

*A serving of strawberries is equal to about eight whole strawberries.

* A serving of strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange and is packed with beneficial antioxidants and nutrients including potassium, folate and fiber.

*Are naturally low in sugar- one serving has only eight grams

*Strwaberries may help reduce the risk of heart disease, fight some types of cancer and lower blood pressure!

That’s one powerful super fruit if you ask me!! 😉

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What about DESSERT?? You may be thinking? Of COURSE! What kind of strawberry event would that be without some strawberry desserts? 😉 They had strawberry cupcakes, strawberry rhubarb a la mode (my favorite!), and a choclate pudding with strawberries.

So to put it lightly, Strawberries have it going on! Along with David’s book, we were also treated to a yummy recipe book with beautiful photos of each dish. I never knew that there were so many amazing things you could make with the strawberry, but this book will give you countless ideas that will make your mouth water just looking at the pictures. What are some of your favorite recipes that call for strawberries as one of the main ingredients? I’d love for you to share them here! 🙂

Even my cat MOE approves of strawberries!! He gives them 2 paws up!!! 😉

*Disclosure: I was invited to be a guest at this event hosted by CA Strawberries. All food & drink I had the pleasure of sampling was complimentary, as well as the gift bag provided to me. All opinions are my own & I had a wonderful time!

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A Lovely Lunch at Stonefire Grill

Looking for a new place to try out for lunch or dinner? Don’t feel like cooking on these toasty 95 plus degree dog days of summer? Want to try some new healthy options? Want a unique, fast-casual dining experience with a distinct and innovative style? Well then Stonefire Grill  is the place for you!! After hearing some great things about this place,  last month I had the chance to give  Stonefire Grill a try for the first time and it did not disappoint.  I really loved everything about this place.  Everything on the menu we had was delicious! Seriously, you could close your eyes and point to a random place on the menu and order. It will taste amazing.

Stonefire Grill first opened in Valencia in 2000 by sisters, Mary and Maureen Harrigan.  They wanted to move away from lengthy dining and thus created a fast-casual eating establishment. The focus of Stonefire Grill is on fresh ingredients to create dishes that are freshly prepared and simply delicious. Diners can enjoy Stonefire Grill in one of 7 locations, at home, or catered for a party.

When you first walk in you would order your food at the front, find your own seating, and they bring the food to you. Everything, from plates to soda fountain drinks to BBQ sauces, are left in one section of the dining area so you can get up and get whatever you need whenever you needed it.

Stonefire Grill recently added some refreshing Quinoa salads to their menu, which were the first items we tried. Quinoa is the seed that is high in protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a “super food” as it is a complete protein. Furthermore, for all of you health nuts out there, it is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus, and is high in magnesium and iron. It is also a great source of calcium, and thus useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. Quinoa is gluten-free, easy to digest,  and contains no wheat and,when heated, is fluffy and creamy with an al dente texture that takes on the flavor of other ingredients in the dish. Quinoa has taken center stage on Stonefire Grills’ menu with the introduction of 3 new dishes. My favorite of the three was the Healthy Hybrid; so light and refreshing, just PERFECT for lunch on a summer’s afternoon!

Stonefire Grill offers 3 variations:

Keen Green: A blend of fresh spinach, pesto and quinoa with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado and Parmesan cheese for $8.99.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Hybrid: Quinoa with garbanzo beans, red onion, green bell peppers, Kalamata olives, cucumber, tomato and artichoke hearts tossed with Dijon mustard vinaigrette and topped with feta cheese for$7.99.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quinoa (side):  Simply prepared in vegetable broth with a dash of fresh lemon, mint and green onions; single $1.59,small $2.99, medium $4.99 and large $8.99.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entire lunch was amazing, I kept saying the same thing after the first bite, “This is sooo good!!”  The rest of our table agreed, there wasn’t anything we tried that we didn’t like. Everything was so fresh and tasty. We tasted the new quinoa salads; Keen Green and Healthy Hybrid, Tri Tip (both the Pepper Garlic & BBQ), Fresh Lemon Garlic Salmon, BBQ Chicken, Garlic Bread, followed by their famous homemade Carrot Cake, Fudge Brownie, and Cheese Cake for dessert. The food is primarily served family style as the portions are great for sharing. We had the petite salads, and as you can see, they are definitely big enough to share with others, or enough for you to take an extra meal home with you. The bread sticks were amazingly flavorful and buttery.

As for the meat, I am in love with the Pepper Garlic Tri-Tip with Gorgonzola butter. It was sooo tender, cooked to perfection, melt in your mouth good. The BBQ Tri-Tip was also delicious, but I love pepper garlic and gorgonzola butter!!! The salmon was simply prepared, very flavorful, light and flaky and grilled to perfection. The chicken was also very tender and had a nice Mesquite BBQ flavor to it. Next time, I can’t wait to try their ribs!! I have heard the meat is just fall off the bone delicious. Each item was cooked well, not overdone. All creations were very pleasing to the palate as well as to your wallet as the  food is priced affordably. You get a lot for your money as the portions are very generous. We had plenty of left overs at the end as we all took a box home with us for dinner! The Tri Tip is $13.99, The 1/2 Chicken is $6.99, and the 1/2 pound Salmon is $9.99. My favorites from the afternoon were the Healthy Hybrid, Pepper Garlic Tri-Tip, and the Carrot Cake!

Speaking of Dessert, I hope you left some room for some!!! Here are some pictures of the sugary, sinful delights. As you can see, they are plenty big enough to share with everyone at your table! We had a full size of the Heavenly Cheesecake (ONLY $5.49) and look how HUGE it is!! I only wish we had gotten a full size carrot cake piece too, as we only ordered a 1/2 portion ($3.29) I am usually a cheesecake girl, but the Incredible Carrot Cake is just that, INCREDIBLE!  It won me over. We also had their famous fudge brownie too ($2.79), which I would order again as well. It was very chocolatey, fudgey, and oh so good!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stonefire Grill is truly a restaurant that I will be going to again and again. Perfect to go out to with friends or family or if I’m just tired and had a long day and want take-out. If you live in or are visiting in LA, Orange County, or Valencia, then Stonefire Grill is a must try.

Locations:

Valencia, West Hills, Fountain Valley, Irvine, Chatsworth,
Pasadena, Thousand Oaks

Social Networks:  Blog, Facebook, Twitter

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post.
The brand/PR representative invited me to taste the new menu. The opinions
expressed in this post are solely mine and I was under no obligation to provide
a positive review. I received permission to post company trademarked logo and
images on my blog.

I Will Rock This: Do’s & Don’ts

So this is Melody, my dear friend and fellow equestrian (horse person) that has helped me tremendously throughout the #IWillROCKThis challenge. Jack (Jill??) of all trades, I don’t think there is anything this woman CANNOT do! I am pretty darn sure she created this pirate outfit that she is wearing in this picture (for the Pirate Festival that was in Long Beach last weekend!) as well! Here are some of the DO’s and DON’Ts of weight loss, and just being healthier in general that I’ve picked up from Melody these past couple of months. This will be the first of a couple posts on this topic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s start off with the DO’S so you won’t get scared off by all of the “DON’Ts!”

DO THIS

*Drink PLENTY of WATER!!

* Drink Milk/Eat Yogurt. Make sure to get 3 servings of dairy a day!

1 serving of dairy is equal to:

*1 cup of milk or yogurt

*1½ ounces of natural cheese (cheddar cheese) <—- Use in extreme moderation though!

*Drink green tea

*Get at least 7-8 hours of SLEEP every night!! This is SO important!!

* Eat your fruits and veggies and don’t forget to exercise!!!

*Walk every chance you get.

* Eat SNACKS throughout the day that have lots of fiber in them (to keep your metabolism up)

* Put up motivational pictures next to pics of you looking your heaviest. (Where you can see them on a daily basis. Like the fridge)

* Daily weigh ins (same time daily and naked to register even the smallest gain to keep you on track or to motivate you to work harder)

*Eat lean lean meat (turkey, fish, rabbit, chicken)

*Drink apple cider vinegar one glass a day (it’s cleansing)

*Always know what your next meal is so you don’t find yourself scrounging for something unhealthy and not planned.

*Make and Prepare all of your meals yourself.

*Exercise in the morning when it’s cold because your body will burn the negative fat better at that time vs when it’s warmer.

*Eliminate all canned soups (So so BAD for you, the amount of sodium these soups have in them!)

 *Start your day with 2 eggs… any way, only egg whites is even better. When you do this you will eat less throughout the entire day. FACT! I also like to put Paprika and cut up a small tomato in with my eggs. YUM!

*Eat oatmeal, PLAIN oatmeal and then add in some cinnamon, honey, or fresh fruit to sweeten it up.

* Eat bananas, watermelon and apples!!! Especially if you are craving something sweet.

*Freeze some grapes and strawberries. This is a GREAT snack and alternative to those fattening, high calorie, high sugar content snacks and desserts! 3 strawberries usually does it for me! 🙂

*USE Spices- cinnamon to sweeten anything instead of sugar. I put cinnamon in my oatmeal, greek yogurt, and fruit (and my occasional cup of coffee)! Anything spicy curry;  red pepper, black pepper, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, whatever you can tolerate!

DON’T

*Don’t eat cheese.

*Don’t buy crap because then you’ll eat crap.

*Don’t forget about portion control!!!

*Don’t eat these things if you can help it, and if y0u do, in moderation and NOT everyday!!! Chocolate, biscuits, cookies, cake, donuts, muffins, pastries, white bread,  chips,  nutella, and ice cream.

*Don’t go crazy with the peanut butter or any butter. DON’T use any FAKE butter though. Real butter is better than that fake stuff if you must have it.

*Don’t buy processed or pre-prepared foods.

*Don’t have any carbonated drinks, alcohol, refined sugars or artificial sweeteners & colors.

* Don’t order fast food.

* DO NOT ADD SALT to anything!! Whenever you do that, it will blow you up with water retention and is truly the worst thing for weight loss.

So there you have it! Many of the Do’s and Don’ts that I have been trying my best to follow-up with. Of course I still have my one “cheat” day a week so I don’t go totally crazy and fall off the wagon and gain everything back that I’ve been working so hard to lose! Hope this helps. 🙂 Stay tuned for more tips and ideas.

Slow & Steady Wins the Race…. I WILL Rock This, Week 3 Results

So the last time I had time to write about the #IWillRockThis weight loss challenge I was in 16th place out of 33rd. Right where I was aiming to be considering the birthday week circumstances. Last week I was able to jump up to 5th place, and this week I am sitting pretty in 3rd place!! This waking up at 5am to fit a workout into my schedule for the day seems to be working so far! 😉 Give me another 2 weeks or so and I should be (*finger, toes, eyes, legs, arms, and whatever else crossed!*) in 1st place and hope to stay there til the end of this on July 1st!!

Needless to say I am very motivated to keep going after seeing this weeks results this afternoon. 1st place is very well in reach for me. Here are the current standings. 🙂 Congrats to all the ladies so far! This has been a great group of woman to be in this challenge with!!

HDufour 8.31%

CCBerry 7.45%

E.M. 7.01%    <——- THAT’S ME!!!!!!

L P 5.63%

K B 5.58%

S B 5.32%

JCross 5.15%

L H P 4.58%

MS 3.93%

N S 3.80%

JS 3.61%

M Saharic 3.41%

A Bo 3.11%

J DeV 3.01%

N C 2.53%

The Rehan Family Blog – Ali 2.50%

N L 2.44%

C West 2.26%

D Pratt 2.01%

J Ferrara 1.98%

R L Goddard 1.79%

S C 1.63%

J H G 1.45%

K T K 1.31%

E Vee 0.98%

W N 0.79%

K Z Gs 0.75%

J W 0.65%

K A 0.59%

A O  0.49%

E F  0.48%

T J 0.10%

M B N 0.00%

I’ve been hitting up the Trader Joe’s nearby to fill up on all sorts of tasty salads for lunch and other low-calorie snacks. This combined with making it to the gym almost everyday and trying to drink more water and stay away from soda is what has helped me out so far. Hoping for another 6 weeks of smooth sailing to inch my way to the top. 🙂 Any other tips or suggestions is always welcome as I’m always open to new ideas on how to achieve my goals faster and to mix things up a bit!!!