My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

GOOP's Organic Avenue Juice Plan

What a wonderful weekend! My best friend got married and I was maid of honor. It was my first time in a wedding (other than serving as a personal attendant) so I was both nervous and excited. I laughed, I cried, and I even gave a speech. All went very well and it was a blast dancing the night away in honor of newly married couple.

I thought that after eating crap all weekend (I think I had six croissants, a mini bag of Fritos and Cheetos) it would be smart to do a juice day/detox/diet (whatever you want to call it). Ryan and I had done a 3-day detox before and while it wasn’t horrible, we totally broke down at the sight of Boston Market on the 3rd day.

A couple weeks ago, I saw the GOOP newsletter about Organic Avenue’s juice detox program. After reading through the plan, I thought it was a great way to boost my body full of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables. I made a run to the co-op and stocked up on most of the ingredients, including these ones:

We juiced and/or blended everything and put it into old Kombucha bottles for storage. We went to bed excited for the next day.

The Next Day:

In the morning, we got started on the plan by downing one ounce of chlorophyll mixed with 8 ounces of water. It really set the tone for the rest of the day – that stuff was NASTY! Not only was it nasty, but I’m a strong believer in breakfast. It helps get your brain going and I’m sorry, but chlorophyll and aloe vera juice did nothing for my brain power.

The first juice (spinach/celery/cucumber) was equally gross. It took me a couple hours to drink it and finally I just plugged my nose and chugged it.

The second (avocado/citrus/coconut) and third (coconut water/mint/spinach) were surprisingly delicious. I would make either of them again to supplement a meal.

The final juices (carrot/ginger/orange with shallots and garlic) and (romaine lettuce/spinach/parsley) were ones I couldn’t finish. I had a hard time chewing the shallots while drinking something that tasted like orange juice. I shudder at that memory.

The final meal was to be a salad, but considering Ryan and I were instant messaging all day about food (because we were starving!); we decided pizza and salad would be much better.  Does it give us more points if it was Amy's Organic pizza?

Would I do the juice day again? NO WAY! I love food. I missed prepping, chewing and enjoying food all day and that’s sad. I’m a “life’s too short” thinker, so I don’t like to waste days. While this experiment was a great way to practice self restraint and get some awesome nutrients in my body, I think it is off the mark in holistic health of the mind, body and soul.

What do you think; would you try something like this? Have you tried it and have you been successful?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And The Winners Are...

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest!  I used the random number generator to reveal our winners and here they are:

Congratulations to Emily over at A Nutritionist Eats!  She's been a long time reader (and commenter) of mine.  Emily writes an excellent food blog and just happens to be giving away some tea right now...

The second winner?

Congratulations, Missy!  She blogs about life over at The Marketing Mama and is such a great person.  I met her at the Feed My Starving Children event she organized for us MN bloggers who like to do good.

Have a blast at Crave and enjoy the tasty Mumbai Crackers at OM! 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Food Finding & Food Giving

Recently I mentioned a few projects that are in the works. One of the projects I was hesitant to talk about because I didn't want to jinx it. Kind of like when I was asked to write for WCCO. While I told my immediately family, I held off on telling the world because I was afraid the opportunity would somehow disappear.

Now that my first story has been published, I’m excited to share my new gig with Twin Cities Food Finds, a magazine that advertises local restaurants while raising funds for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at the same time! It’s a drool worthy piece of work as it includes glossy photos and sample menus from participating restaurants. Here’s the cover for the 2010 issue (taken at Dakota Jazz Club) which can be purchased online.

So, what do I do for TC Food Finds? I dine out and write stories about each restaurant for the website. I love that it feeds my dining out habit and helps me connect with local restaurants. My first story on Town Talk Diner was published on Wednesday and there will be many more to come. Keep checking back!

In honor of dining out in the Twin Cities, I’ve decided to do a little giveaway.

This time there will be two winners. Each will receive a $10 gift certificate to Crave restaurant (valid at all three locations) & a coupon for complimentary Mumbai Crackers at OM restaurant (in downtown Minneapolis).

To enter:
Leave a comment (with your name) and tell me your favorite restaurant.

To earn additional entries (each activity counts as an entry)*:
  • Become a fan on Facebook
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Tweet the giveaway on Twitter.
*Let me know if you have earned extra entries by leaving an additional comment for each activity.

Contest ends on Monday, March 29th at 11:59pm CST and winners will be chosen using a random number generator.

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quick Dinner: Veggie Burgers

I mentioned a few post ago that I was getting a new camera and I did! After being a Canon and Kodak devotee for many years, I made the switch to Nikon. I bought a Nikon D5000 which I figured was a good mid-range camera for my needs. Maybe someday I’ll have a need to buy something much fancier, but for now this will do. I also purchased a really sweet micro lens, but I’m still figuring out how to get pictures to turn out the way I want them to.

Playing with the camera has been fun so far. Here’s my first food related picture of a birthday cupcake:

Not too bad for a first try, huh?

Monday night we had tickets to the Vampire Weekend concert at First Avenue. I wanted to make salmon, but I didn’t want to be “that person” who goes to a club smelling like fish. So, instead, I made something much simpler and less stinky.

French Fries

And veggie pizza burgers with sautéed mushrooms.

As for the concert? It was great! Ryan and I bought the first Vampire Weekend CD on our honeymoon, so their music always brings back memories of driving through the mountains in Washington bopping our heads to the music. It was great to finally see them live.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Meal Planning Meditation

Blogging lately has been a little weird. Usually I do a lot of meal planning and cooking at home, but I’ve been tied up with eating out and working on a recipe testing project. Also, with Ryan putting in so many hours at work (he’s a CPA and duh, it’s tax time), we’re not doing normal blogworthy dinners.

So, when my schedule cleared up and I had an opportunity to cook at home, I was pretty excited. Not wanting to go to the grocery store, I started to meditate while driving home.

Yep, I meditated with my eyes open while driving.

Kind of funny to think about really, but it worked. I started with one ingredient I knew I had in the fridge: asparagus.

I pictured it in my mind.
I envisioned ways it could be cut.
I repeated it in my head: asparagus, diagonally cut asparagus.

I thought of ingredients asparagus goes well with: green onions.
Asparagus and green onions.
Thinly sliced green onions with diagonally cut asparagus.

I continued to add ingredients such as tofu and soy sauce to my meditation until I remembered a blog post I did almost a year ago. Suddenly, I had my meal planned and I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen and make this:

It felt energizing to be able to cook what I wanted and provide a healthy meal for dinner (and leftovers for Ryan’s lunch). It was also refreshing to look back at that blog post and remember why I blog.

I blog to share stories, information, and food ideas with friends and family. I blog so that I can look back and remember my life of food. I blog to build relationships with new people and to open the door to new ideas from others. I blog because I enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

bd's Mongolian Grill & Appetizer Giveaway

Recently I had the opportunity to dine at bd’s Mongolian Grill in Burnsville courtesy of a local ad agency. Since we can’t all be in New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras, bd’s is bringing the celebration to us through their Bourbon Street Bash promotion. From now until March 28th, bd’s is offering Mardi Gras themed drinks, appetizers, and spices. Keep reading and I have a freebie for you too...

Having been to Genghis Grill in Eagan several times, I knew what to expect. I made reservations for 8:00pm just in case it was crazy busy and I reviewed the menu ahead of time online. I was impressed that the vegetarian option is priced lower (as it should be) and all the nutritional facts are listed online (although you have to have some super math skills and OCD tendencies to actually figure out your total caloric intake on a meal like this). I was a bit disappointed that the appetizers and desserts are not listed online as I like to plan ahead.

Ryan and I arrived a little before 8:00pm on a Friday night and were immediately grateful that we had made reservations – the place was packed! We waited just a few minutes before being sat at a nice booth. Our server quickly explained how things worked and we were off to the salad bar. The offerings were pretty basic with iceberg lettuce, chickpeas, cheese, bacon bits and the like.

We placed an order for nachos and it arrived soon after we finished our salads. Pretty standard nachos, but I was really disappointed that most of the lettuce was frozen. We ate around it. You can kind of see the translucent pieces in the picture.

After the nachos, we headed up to the stir-fry bar and started building our meals. Recipe cards are provided if you’re going for something specific, but I like to wing it. I loaded up on zucchini, edamame, pineapple, broccoli, baby corn, mushrooms, onions and tofu. The tofu was really watery. I’d highly suggest that it be available drained. Not only does that give the tofu a better texture, but it gives it a much better appearance (sorry, tofu nerd here!). I mixed the chile garlic and kung pao sauces and added a bit of ginger.

Ryan went for some tilapia and andouille sausage pieces, edamame, peppers, onions and broccoli, but wished he would have loaded up more as his plate was lacking volume. He went for the spicy buffalo sauce which tasted exactly as expected, like buffalo wing sauce.

The atmosphere at bd’s was pretty enjoyable. While it still has the suburban chain restaurant feel, the staff were really enjoying their jobs. I saw a few singing and dancing along to the overhead music and our server was friendly and prompt with here service. The grill cooks were tons of fun too. Here’s a little video of them doing their thing:

We ended our night with the Caramel Apple Pie and Ice Cream dessert and since we were so stuffed, we asked for it to-go. They happily obliged and we enjoyed the super sweet dessert the following evening.

Now that I’ve had a chance to try out BD’s, I encourage you to try it out for yourself. They have provided me with free appetizer coupons to share with my readers. It’s valid at three of the BD’s locations, so if you live near one, bring your coupon and enjoy!

FTC Disclaimer: I was provided 2 non-alcoholic beverages, 1 appetizer, 2 meals, and 1 dessert, but was not required to write a post. I was also provided free appetizer coupons to share with my readers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rainbow Smiles

Everytime I open my fridge and see this:

I smile.  I can't decide if my happiness is due to the pretty colors of the cake or the fact that I haven't eaten all of the cake yet.  Either way, it works for me!  I made this for Ryan's birthday last week and got the idea from here, but made it according to the box directions.  The frosting is fresh whipping cream mixed with vanilla pudding.  I had a ton of frosting leftover (probably because I forgot to frost in between the layers).  Even so, it was a hit!

I realize I haven't posted for a week - oops!  I've been tied up with some food related projects (that I hope to talk about soon), Ryan's birthday, and my best friend's wedding festivities.  Also, I've been shopping for a DSLR.  Of course I pored over the decision for months and I think I'm finally ready to buy.  Yay!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Carnival Brazilian Style

For the third year in a row, Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine’s Best of the Best Party was an absolute blast. Greeted at the door by fire throwers and costumed stilt walkers, I knew we were in for a great night. My husband, Ryan, and I quickly checked in (with tickets thanks to MSP Mag) and headed into the Guthrie with great anticipation of beautifully dressed people and mouthwatering food. We made sure to come hungry.

I was thoroughly impressed with how the party ran this year. They capped the attendees at 1,000 and increased the number of restaurants from around 15 to 22, which made for a much smoother flow. We rarely waited in line for an item and could easily go back for seconds, but surprisingly we were so stuffed that we couldn’t manage seconds of anything!

Favorites from the evening were:

Sea Change – (tuna poke, octopus, oysters with chimichurri sauce and shrimp) – my first time trying well prepared octopus. It was tender and not at all rubbery. Marinated in a brine and likely sous vide, I would absolutely order this at Sea Change.

Chino Latino’s Pink Taco – Yum, yum, yum! This was spicy tuna tartar with citrus aioli served between two fried wontons. Despite the questionable name, I definitely wanted seconds of this.

Burger Jones’ Salted Caramel Shakes – I like that they did the unusual by bringing in a blender and making these shakes instead of the expected mini burgers. Equally sweet and salty, I think a sample sized cup was the perfect amount.

OM’s Thai Chile Cardamom Soup – I have ordered this the last couple times I have been to OM. With just five ingredients (thai chiles, cashews, paneer, cilantro and cardamom), it’s a super simple yet complex soup.

Good Earth’s Apple Trifle- Another welcomed relief from all the dinner-like dishes; this trifle was wonderful with sweet apples, a hint of Makers Mark and creamy mascarpone cheese.

4 Oranges Vodka – One of the sponsors for this event, they offered creative cocktails throughout the night. I’m not usually a fan of flavored vodkas, but the Grovestand cocktail was impressive: 4 Oranges vodka + grapefruit and lemon juice + simple syrup + crème de cassis.

While there were plenty more impressive dishes, there were a few let downs. Cowboy Slims offered a mushy and off putting Tater Tot Hotdish, Salut gave out dry and flavorless Wild Mushroom Crepes, and Red Stag seemed to be confused as to what they were offering – was it a Pork & Duck Terrine or an unimpressive Lobster Egg Salad? Some plates got both and some got just one.

I’m practicing my video skills again and put together a 1 ½ minute video of the evening. Next year (when I have a fancy DSLR) I can capture some more food pics for you. Until then, here’s the hodgepodge.

If you love trying new restaurants, be sure to dine out this week for Restaurant Week. Check out the participating restaurants and menus here: http://mspmag/restaurantweek

Lucky for us, Ryan’s birthday usually falls during Restaurant Week, so this year we’re checking out Ginger Hop for the first time. Yay for cheap meals!

FTC Disclaimer:  I did receive free tickets to this event, but would have bought them anyway as I love going every year.  I was not required to blog about it - I just want to share more of my experiences.

Monday, March 1, 2010

And The Winner Is...

We have a winner in the Cub Foods gift certificate giveaway and it's:

The very last commenter, #31, Shelley Smith:

Congratulations, Shelley, you win a $20 gift certificate to Cub Foods.  Please e-mail me at cafecyan [at] yahoo [dot] com with your mailing information and I'll get it right out to you.

Thank you to everyone who commented, it was fun to learn what you tend to buy at Cub Foods.  As to what I always tend to pick up at Cub? 

Apples.  Yep, I have a compulsion to buy apples almost every time I go to Cub.  Usually it's a Granny Smith apple (my fav), but lately it's those Washington apples that call my name.

I'll be back again soon with more giveaways over the next couple of weeks.  Have a great day!
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