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)

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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?

Meal Favorites

When I wrote my last post about food, I had no idea how the post would be perceived.  Since I no longer write much about food, you never know how readers might respond.  Everyone needs to eat, and food and nutrition are an important part of running and working out.

I thought it would be interesting to showcase some of my favorite foods and meal staples.  I’m not great at cooking, and I don’t shop at a lot of specialty stores.  Most of my shopping comes from the three closest grocery stores to me: Wegmans, Shoprite and Whole Foods. 

I shop at Wegmans and Shoprite for most of my groceries and Whole Foods for fish, steak, and some produce.

When someone asks your favorite food, I feel like it’s a weird question.  You can’t compare items like steak to donuts, both are delicious but it’s hard to compare.  I have a lot of favorite foods.  I like sugary treats, but I also like a big juicy steak too.

Favorite breakfast item:

Breakfast is easy for me.  I have a waffle with peanut butter.  I’ve been doing this for years, and it’s always worked for me.  I eat a waffle every morning, whether I’m running, racing or just resting.  I’ve never had a stomach issue.  I use Bisquick and just add water.  I also use flour, egg, baking powder and milk if I don’t have the mix.  I can usually run between 1-2 hours after eating.  I don’t like to run on an empty stomach.  I generally eat within 20 minutes of waking up, relax and then go for a run 1-2 hours later.

waffle1
Artsy waffle for you

Lunch:

Lunch depends on if I’m at home or if I’m at work.  Most people know I work at a local running store.  It’s hard to predict a day in a retail store and no two days are the same.  I can’t plan to bring a big meal because I might not have time to eat it.  I could have plenty of time, or I could be snacking the entire day.  I’ve become used to it, though, and I honestly don’t mind either way.

I usually pack easy to eat sandwiches or bars so that if we get slammed, I can still eat.  It’s not like I can tell a customer “Go away I’ve got to get my lunch on”.  I’ve been looking for an easy “bar” recipe if anyone has any.

Some quick and easy staples.  Sometimes quick and easy means I order down the road from work:

Power bars are one of my favorites, especially the cookie dough
Power bars are one of my favorites, especially the cookie dough
French toast bagels from Panera make their appearence often.
French toast bagels from Panera make their appearance often
Quick and easy salads
Quick and easy salads
I crave soup in the winter. My two favorites are split pea and lentil
I crave soup in the winter. My two favorite kinds of soup are split pea and lentil
I recently got a take out pita bead sandwich which has become one of my favorite lunch buys.
I recently got a takeout pita bread sandwich which has become one of my favorite lunch buys. It has pesto, chicken, and melted feta

Dinner:

I’ve said this more times than I can remember, but I am a very simple dinner person.  I like meat, potato and vegetable.  I rotate through all of them, but both my husband and I aren’t fancy cooks.  Our meals tend to take between 15-30 minutes to cook.  Luckily my husband is the same way.  He cooks the meat, and I prepare everything else.

Some of our favorite meats:

  • steak
  • salmon or any pink fish (we aren’t fans of too many white fish)
  • chicken
  • Squid (yes, one of my favorite, if not favorite meats is squid)
Steak and kale
Steak and kale (I love T-bone steaks because they are so fatty, anyone else?)
Another T-bone
Another T-bone
Sea Bass and Squid from the other night
Sea Bass and Squid from the other night

The usual suspects

We frequently cook some vegetable or have a salad.  My current favorite vegetables are eggplant and squash, but it varies.

Vegetables of (current) choice:

  • eggplant and squash
  • asparagus
Eggplant sauteed in oil and garlic is the easiest and most deliscious vegeatble
Eggplant sauteed in oil and garlic is the easiest and most delicious vegetable

Then, of course, there is the grain/potato portion of dinner.  Current favorites include

  • Pasta or rice (because it takes 5 minutes!)  I went through a phase with pasta where I didn’t eat it much and always chose other items over it.  Now I can’t get enough.
  • Sweet or normal potatoes
  • Bread from Panera. If you recall, my husband won a year supply of Panera bread from a race last year, and we use it to buy a loaf.  Panera bread goes well with everything in my life.
Pasta with spinach and cheese
Pasta with spinach and cheese

As you can see, my husband and I are simple eaters.  We don’t spend hours creating perfect food dishes.  Spending a few hours is some people’s hobby, but we know we like fast, simple and easy food!  We save fancy eating for going out.

Questions for you:

Do you prefer cooking simple food or fancier recipes?

Does anyone have any “bar” recipes? 

Corvette Diner

Corvette Diner  (San Diego, CA)

The Corvette Diner was one of the first diners I went to when I was a young child.  I was born in San Diego and have memories of when we visit.  My parents would always take us to the Corvette Diner!  It’s been at least 15 years since I’ve been back.  On a side note, that sounds weird to say.  I wanted to know, would this diner live up to my childhood expectation?  I’ve been to at least 100 diners since then…

Image via here
Image via here

We went to the Corvette Diner after the Carlsbad half marathon.  If you are anything like me, then everything tastes good after a hard race.  We arrived around 11 on a Sunday.  If felt like 2 pm to me and I was starving.

Atmosphere: A

The Corvette Diner is as cool as I remember.  The inside is retro with an actual old Corvette inside.  They have done renovations since I was there over 15 years ago.  There is plenty more space and seating.  The atmosphere is exactly what you picture a retro diner to be.  Even the waitresses are dressed in hoop skirts and retro clothing.

Something I do remember from my childhood is that upon greeting you; the waitresses throw a dozen straws on your table.

Corvette Diner straws

Service: B

Even though it was 11 on a Sunday, the diner wasn’t crowded at all.  There were just two birthday parties.  The waitress was friendly and refilled our drinks, but I did feel as if we were forgotten a couple of times.

Coffee: B

When I came as a child, I didn’t try their coffee.  In fact, I didn’t like coffee at age 10.  (I know there was a time I didn’t drink coffee).  The coffee at the Corvette Diner was good, but there was nothing unique and special about it.

corvette diner coffee

Food: A

There are plenty of options at the Corvette Diner.  It has a big menu from breakfast to lunch but luckily the menu is not overwhelming.  I was starving, and I ordered with my stomach.  I ended up getting a chunky monkey milkshake as well as a burger.

The burger wasn’t greasy.  While I did take off the pickle, the onion ring, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomato were all good as well. The French fries were a nice medium between crispy and soft.  They weren’t soggy at all.  Even after running, I left feeling full.

Classic post race burger and fries
Classic post race burger and fries

The chunky monkey milkshake had bananas, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream.  It was topped with whipped cream, chocolate chips, banana chips and a cherry.  It’s hard to mess up a milkshake, and this was perfect.

Corvette Diner milkshake

Cost:$$

For my burger, coffee, and milkshake the cost was $20.  Not bad considering how full I left.

Overall thoughts/Would I come back?

Everything was great, and if I were local, I would be back often.

Summary:
Atmosphere: A
Service: B
Coffee: B
Food: A
Cost: $10-20
Overall: A

Questions for you:
What’s your favorite type of car?
What’s your favorite flavor of milkshake?