Treno Pizza Bar

Recently I’ve had a few more opportunities to go to local restaurants in South Jersey.  This particular time, my husband and I were invited to go to Treno Pizza Bar in Westmont, NJ.

We’ve been before, and it’s one of the best pizza spots in the area, but we were invited to try the new menu.  When looking at possible days, I thought after the Runners World Festival would be ideal.  The last thing I really want to do is cook and Treno sounded much more appealing.  But really, when doesn’t it?

We arrived at Treno around 5:30 pm.  The area of Westmont has had lot of construction lately, including brand new shiny high rise apartments next door.  Honestly, if my husband didn’t need a garage, I would love to live there.Those apartments are in a prime spot to walk to several bars or fancier restaurants that serve alcohol such as Treno.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the hostess, and since it was a beautiful evening, we opted to sit on the patio. Treno pizza bar westmont nj

The manager came over and gave us personal recommendations including the veggie pizza and Treno Board.

As I mentioned, Treno serves alcohol including craft beer.  I immediately noticed Flying Fish beer, which I ran a local 5k at the brewery last month.

After chatting with the manager, the Treno board came out quickly with a variety of different bites including prosciutto di parma, house-cured meat, robiola, caciocavallo, roasted peppers, olives, crostini.  Everything on the board was delicious.  As someone who loves olives, they were my personal favorite.  The types of cheeses were both unique and I hadn’t had either.  Definitely a great starter! Treno pizza bar westmont nj board

As the manager recommended, I ordered the Veggie pizza.  Veggie pizza isn’t typically my first choice as I love pepper, sausage, and meat pizzas.

Heck, I even like pineapple pizza but I always like trying new things, and the Brick Oven Veggie Pizza came with butternut squash, onions, and goat cheese.  It reminded me a lot of a flatbread and something that would be perfect for a half marathon or marathon.  The pizza itself isn’t huge, which I appreciated.

Treno pizza bar westmont nj

My husband ordered the new Wood Oven Calabrian pizza which had house-made chili sausage, red onion, mozzarella, roasted corn, red sauce.  The manager mentioned a lot of people have come in loving spicy foods, so they want to incorporate more of that and to be honest, I agree.  I’m all about anything spicy.

Treno pizza bar westmont nj pizza

Both pizzas were great and I would order either of them again.  In fact, I think the veggie pizza might become a staple for before races for me.

We also decided to split the Tiramisu dessert and scoop of their vanilla gelato.  The Tiramisu came in a mason jar and had whipped cream (you know I love that!), fig jam and a biscotti cookie.  Both the gelato and tiramisu were great.

Treno pizza bar westmont nj pizza tiramisu

I had such a pleasant experience at the Treno, and I appreciate the invitation to try their new menu.  Everything from the food, to the service to the atmosphere, is so welcoming.  I like the idea of having smaller plates to split and snack on.  As someone who likes to try a lot of different items, this is awesome.  Plus, serving alcohol, many people need food but don’t want anything heavy.  If you are ever local, I recommend it.

Thank you for the invitation Treno and I look forward to coming back!

Questions for you:

What is your favorite type of pizza?

Have you tried tiramisu before?

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Redz Restaurant (Mount Laurel)

Recently I went to Redz Restaurant in Mount Laurel.  I’ve driven by Redz a thousand times on the way to work but had never been.  For those not local, it’s also walkable distance to exit 4 on the NJ Turnpike, and one of the most accessible restaurant stops you can make.  While certainly not an NJ diner, Redz quickly became one of my favorite local restaurants.  

Redz invited me to try their bread pudding, as most readers know is one of my favorite desserts.  Sadly, my husband had a last minute trip, but I was able to go with one of my close friends who is also a pilot.  Funny enough, her flight was also delayed and it made her able to go because 2 days before, I thought I was going solo.  Which bread pudding is always worth it.  Planning anything these days has become laughable, but it all worked out.  

As mentioned, Redz is easy to find, as it’s directly off of exit 4 on the turnpike and attached to a hotel.  The inside is modern, clean, and with a full-length bar.  I would bring my husband for a nice meal, meet friends, or even bring my parents. 

While they do have a full-length bar,  I stayed sober since I was racing in the morning.  I didn’t pass up an opportunity to try their coffee.  Not that that is different from a typical restaurant!.  Their coffee was definitely one of the better coffees I’ve had in the area, which says a lot for an upscale restaurant.  

The meal started off with complimentary bread with butter as well as a oil dipping sauce.  I always appreciate unique bread baskets.  

In addition to looking forward to the bread pudding, I’m a big seafood fan, so I was looking forward to their newer healthy menu.  For an appetizer, we ordered the shrimp and scallops to split.  I will say the scallops were by far the biggest scallops I’ve had at any restaurant.  The entire appetizer was fresh with a ginger dressing.  Immediately I knew if we were starting there, it would be tough to beat.  

Red Restaurant Mount Laurel

I ordered the ahi tuna as my entree.  I haven’t had tuna in awhile, but I appreciated how well seasoned it was.  I had it cooked as recommended and I’m glad I did.  I would order it again.  

Red Restaurant Mount Laurel

The waitress still brought out the dessert tray, which to be honest I wanted everything.  Red Restaurant Mount Laurel

I had made my mind up days ago to get the bread pudding, and I’m glad I did.  She also included vanilla ice cream too.  

Red Restaurant Mount Laurel

The bread pudding changes weekly, so there is always something new and different.  Last Tweek was cranberry and rumor is next week its pumpkin.  The bread pudding was everything I dreamed of.  It was extremely rich with a caramel topping.  It was definitely one of the best I’ve had (even as someone who grew up in the south).  The waitress commented I was “the first person ever” to finish the entire thing.  I guess that is a runner’s problem…but it was that good. 

Everything from the service to coffee, to dessert, was top notch and both my date and I agreed our only regret was not coming sooner.  In case you wondered, I did well at the Dragon Run the next day so I would come here before races too (something I’m more picky about…). 

Will I be back?

Well, I promised my husband (since he already saw the bread pudding on Instagram) that we could go again…so I will be back in the next month.  Even if you’re traveling through NJ and need a quick stop off the turnpike; it’s a good option.   

I had a great experience and I cannot thank Redz enough for inviting me to try their menu!  While my meal was paid for, all thoughts are my own.

Urban Griddle (Newark)

Recently I went to the Urban Griddle in Newark. Spoiler, I enjoyed it so much the first time, I’ve been back again.  My good friend Devon and I met up at the Urban Griddle since it’s right off the highway and a good meeting spot between North and South Jersey.

When we arrived around 11 am, it wasn’t too busy.  There were several tables and booths available.  We were sat quickly!

Atmosphere: B
The outside is a typical restaurant building.  It’s not the old, metallic retro style but has a more modern vibe (similar to the Harley Dawn in Hammonton).  I enjoyed how open and well lit the restaurant is too.  It reminds me more of a bistro vibe than diner vibe.

The restaurant sign could use an update, as it looks like it’s been through a few storms, and faded.

Service: A
Between the two of us, we had a lot of questions about menu options and choices, and our waitress was extremely friendly and helpful.  She gave us plenty of menu advice and always refilled our beverages.

Coffee: A
The Urban Griddle has a full coffee bar as well as a standard bar with the ability to make alcoholic drinks as well.

Urban Griddle Newark

Each cup of coffee was brewed perfectly.  It was hot and fresh.  Definitely some of the better coffee I’ve had recently.

Food: A
The Urban Griddle serves local and fresh ingredients.  The menu has several unique diner options including “matcha pancakes” and avocado toast.  It reminds me more of a bistro style menu.  There is a large selection of vegetarian and vegan options too.

As many people know, I am a big grits fan.  Since living in Alabama, I’ve been trying to find good northern grits.  The second time I went, I ordered breakfast which came with a side of grits.  So far in New Jersey, they have been the best I’ve had.  The rest of the breakfast: toast, eggs, and bacon was equally as good.  One of my favorite diner breakfasts to date (but that was mostly because of the grits!).

Urban Griddle Newark

Cost: $
I was actually quite surprised with how inexpensive the food is.  For my entire breakfast, the cost was $10.

Overall thoughts/Summary:
I enjoyed the Urban Griddle, and it’s definitely one of my more favorite diners in the area.  I’ve already been back, so it clearly is one of my favorites!

Atmosphere: A
Service: A
Coffee: A
Food: A
Cost: $8-12
Overall: A

Nearby diners: 
Tops Diner
Tropicana Diner
Mark Twain Diner

Questions for you:
Do you like grits?
What is your favorite breakfast? (no dad, coffee doesn’t count)

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the time with friends and family.  If you are running a Turkey Trot, good luck with that too!

If you are running a Turkey Trot, good luck with that too!

thanksgiving meme

I’ll be spending Thanksgiving running a local turkey trot and cooking a turkey again with my husband.  Last year we wrapped ours in bacon but we shall see what we decide this year.

Happy National Coffee Day

There are very few “foodie” holidays I celebrate.

National Coffee Day

Why?  Because there are so many, in fact, there is a food “holiday” almost every day…See this master list.  Thinking out loud, it’s no secret that I enjoy coffee.

National Coffee Day

Coffee, however, is one that I do.  I drink coffee almost every day.  I like the taste.  I’m also in the minority that drinks decaf after noon because I want to sleep.

My top 3 favorite places to get coffee are Wawa, Starbucks and a local place down the road.  Oh look, even at my wedding, we had a coffee bar.

coffee station

There isn’t a lot of coffee I don’t like.  My favorite way is to top with whipped cream.  It gives a little bit of sugar, and the bottom is more creamy since the whipped cream eventually melts into the coffee.  So it’s dark and bold at first, then more creamy and “dessert like” at the end.

Mustache Bills Coffee
At Mustache Bills Diner
Want free coffee?  Here are a few places celebrating the day.

Wawa: free (any size) coffee today

Krispy Kreme: free 12-ounce cup of coffee and a free glazed doughnut

Dunkin Donuts: Dunkin Donuts is celebrating National Coffee Day and being in business for 66 years.  They priced a medium hot coffee for 66 cents on Thursday.

Starbucks: Starbucks is not giving free coffee but will donate a coffee tree for every brewed cup of México Chiapas coffee you buy.  Today’s cup can help a farmer’s future.

national coffee day

Finally because who doesn’t like a little bit of history about the beverage they love? 

History of Coffee: “According to a coffee history legend, an Arabian shepherd named Kaldi found his goats dancing joyously around a dark green leafed shrub with bright red cherries in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.”

History of Coffee and How is Spread Worldwide: Interesting video documentary/video

national coffee day

Questions for you:

Are you Celebrating National Coffee Day?

How do you like your coffee? 

Blood Test Results

As I mentioned last week, I opted to try Inside Tracker.

InsiderTracker

After my injury, I had no answers about how my ankle fracture occurred.  It blindsided me. I received a DEXA scan which came out normal (not even flagged for osteopenia).  I also got my calcium and Vitamin D levels which both came out normal.  Just like my blood test with at my doctors, my blood test with Inside Tracker indicated Vitamin D and Calcium were both normal too.  Even though I don’t believe I got answers about my fracture, and do believe the information I obtained from Inside Tracker is beneficial.

So after essential nutrients from my first blood test came out, why did I decide to go further with Inside Tracker?
My quality of life is fine, and I live my day to day normally.  I live a pretty balanced lifestyle and enjoy cake, cookies, salad and meat.  I don’t have any health red flags such as exhaustion or loss of period.  While most signs of my fracture point towards gait or a rolled ankle, I wanted to at least get a full picture of my health.  Thinking out loud, I would rather rule out any problems then the question, “what if.”

Unfortunately, my insurance is great but doesn’t cover the cost of a blood test, “just to know”.  If I were dying or going through something serious my insurance would cover the test (as they covered it to check my Vitamin D and Calcium levels). They do not include a test just check key nutrients.  Heck why not throw in an MRI just to get some photos too? If only health care worked like that…

Due to the price, my husband and I went back and forth with Inside Tracker.  For a full blood analysis, the cost is $499.  In the medical world that is comparable for blood work, however, without insurance it’s steep. Do I want a blood test or do I want Louboutins? Decisions of the month…(kidding).  I was fortunate Inside Tracker gave me a discount but even if they did not, we decided the price would be worth it to have the knowledge.

Since I don’t give blood well, I opted to pay the extra fee for the White Glove Service.  This meant a registered nurse come to my house and collected my blood.  Another thing I don’t deal well with is the test also requires you to fast for 12 hours.  Even after eating directly before and after, I’ve passed out the majority of time giving blood or getting shots.

So being the diva I am, I ordered a test for the earliest time possible time of 7 am. The woman who came was professional, timely and done by 7:10. She works with several different but similar companies. In fact, she has been a mobile blood collector for 20 years. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

I got my blood drawn on a Thursday, and my results were available the Tuesday after.  I was impatiently waiting all weekend.  To be honest, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to know the results. I had seen plenty of people shocked by their results. What if they found I had a serious issue?  At least I would have answers I guess.

So with that, what did they find?

Inside Tracker classifies your result from “Optimal”, “Needs Work” and “At Risk”.

Let’s start with my “At a Risk”:
Cortisol Levels:

Cortisol insidetracker

My biggest issue is my cortisol level.  My cortisol level is too high. This definitely plays a role in my stress level as well as bloating.  I’m also a very type A person, and I do stress out from anxiety. I’ve always had a higher than average cortisol level due to stress, anxiety and occasionally depression.  To be honest, I’m getting out of a rough time in my life, so it’s not surprising my cortisol level is rather high.

How am I combating that? Mentally, I am making relaxing a priority.  I’m trying to focus on sleep as well as adding a few more of the nutrients indicated.  A lot can play a role in cortisol levels, and I need to make it a priority to just relax and not overbook myself.  Better said than done right?

Vitamin B12:

Vitamin B12 insidetracker

 

My second risk is my Vitamin B12 is extremely high. This surprised me!  I drink no more than 20 ounces of coffee daily (decaf after noon).  I drink soda once in a blue moon (maybe once every other month?).  I looked at my multivitamin which also has 100% of my daily intake.  A lot of the food I consume is enriched with B12 too.  So for now, I’ll look for nonenriched foods.  I’ll look to find a multivitamin without Vitamin B12 too. I like the taste of coffee, so hopefully, by substituting nonenriched foods, I’ll be able to lower my B12.

Next to my High levels:

Iron: 
I am honestly shocked, but my iron is too high.  I don’t know a lot of runners who have this issue.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was too low.  This will be a hard one to work on, to be honest.  It recommends eating less red meat.  I wouldn’t say I overeat red meat, but I do have a few serving a week.

Iron inside tracker

 

Iron inside tracker

Liver Enzymes:

My liver enzymes are too high. I had no idea what that even meant. I had to do more research after getting my results, but it is great information to have.  It recommends taking a probiotic and eating a few servings of nuts, so I’ll be adding those to my diet and monitoring the results.

liver enzymes inside tracker

So What’s the Plan?
  • I intend to focus on my Cortisol and Vitamin B12 because those are most important.
  • It was recommended to take a probiotic.  Is that the band-aid to fix everything?  I’ve been taking a probiotic for just over a week now.  To be honest, I can’t feel any difference, and I feel more bloated, but I think it will take a few weeks to assimilate.
  • I’m still researching how to decrease my iron levels.  I have a feeling my higher iron is inhibiting my calcium and vitamin D,  While I tested in the normal range, it was towards the lower end (and make a huge effort to intake a lot of both).

They are minor fixes and adding a few more nutrients and foods to my diet.  There is nothing drastic or a crash diet.

I’m also going to get retested in 8-10 weeks to see if I am improving.

Would I recommend Inside Tracker?

I would.  While the price is high, the quality of information you receive is worth it.  While I had several higher than average and two “at risk” categories, I didn’t have any major red flags.  That doesn’t mean the knowledge won’t help.  I would have never thought my iron levels were too high, and honestly, I was debating taking an iron supplement because “that’s what female runners do”.

I don’t believe any of these imbalances caused my ankle fracture, however, I’m glad I chose to get the blood work. I do feel as though as I begin running and increase mileage, my body will respond better to the mileage.

Chances are if you decide to utilize Inside Tracker, there will be results that surprise you.  Maybe your blood work comes out in the optimal range.  Or maybe you have nutrients that “need work” that you never would have thought. For me, I didn’t think my liver enzymes weren’t optimal or that my iron was too high.

I like Inside Tracker because the information is high quality and useful for my situation.  It isn’t telling me to completely overhaul my diet or fast on juju juice for eight weeks.  It’s giving me minor tweaks of how I can improve myself and easy to update my diet with.

Question for you: Have you ever gotten blood work done? 

A Night Out At Zahav

Last Monday, my husband and I went to Zahav restaurant in Philadelphia.  Zahav is labeled as a “modern Israeli restaurant”.  Not only is it one of the best restaurants in Philadephia but it’s been ranked as one of the best restaurants in the country. Normally I post diner reviews, but Zahav quickly became one of my favorite restaurants so I decided to showcase that as well.  I don’t have any running related posts right now, so why not show some other aspects of my life?

Before Monday, I had never tried Isreali food.  Although I typically post about diners, my husband and I go out fairly often.  We both enjoy trying new things and new cuisines. When I went to make a reservation at Zahav a few days before, I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be able too.  The first reservation they have is in late June!

Since my husband is in the military, reserving a month or two in advance isn’t an option for us.  We can’t even plan more than a day or two because his schedule is changing.  Luckily Zahav was more than helpful and were able to get us a reservation.  I cannot thank them enough!  (They didn’t pay for our meal but were helpful to get a reservation).

Zahav was ranked as one of the top restaurants in the entire country.  To say it was delicious is an understatement and if you live in the greater Philadelphia area, I would highly recommend getting reservations.

When we arrived it was extremely crowded and throughout the entire time and throughout the 2 hours we were there, it never got less crowded.  Every table in the entire restaurant was filled 100% of the time.

We decided to order from tasting menu and chef’s recommendations.  This meant all of the food was served Tapas style, and we didn’t have to worry about choosing anything.  Honestly, while the menu is small, I had no idea what to choose.

We started off with the Salatim and Hummus.  It came with six mini salads with a giant piece of Lafta bread (which is similar to pita bread).

Zahav Restaurant Philadelphia

From there we received several small plates including grape leaves, fried cauliflower and fried cheese.  I don’t think I’ve ever had good cauliflower but this was the best I had ever tried.  If you go, I definitely recommend trying the fried cauliflower as well as grape leaves.  (Be warned the grape leaves are spicy!)

Zahav Restaurant Philadelphia grape leaves

The main course was roasted lamb for us to taste.  To say it was the best lamb I’ve had is an understatement.  It was so tender; it fell right off the bone.  Looking back at the post, I want to it eat it again.

Zahav Restaurant Philadelphia

For dessert, we received the “chocolate konafi for two”. It was a somewhat chocolate and crispy cake with melted ice cream and pistachio on time.  It was one of the most unique desserts I’ve had.It was crunchy and rich.

Zahav Restaurant Philadelphia

It was one of the best restaurant experiences I’ve had, and I can’t wait to go back.  Afterwords, we walked around Philadephia for a little bit.  The lights along the river were gorgeous.

me Philadelphia

Questions for you:

Have you tried Isreali food before?

What is one of the most unique restaurants you’ve been too?