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? 

James Browns Place

James Browns Place

A Rochester Diner

Rochester, NY

While visiting Rochester last weekend weekend, Laura, Heather and I wanted to try a new diner.  We were going to go run a 5k but since the weather wasn’t that great we decided to go to a diner instead.  I don’t have any regrets.  After googling possible options, we settled on James Browns Place, a famous diner in Rochester.

Atmosphere: A

James Browns Place is a cute, local diner.  The inside is exactly what you picture as a hole in the wall restaurant gem.  It is located on the main strip of Rochester.

There are about 20 tables inside and the grill is open.  I have’t been to a restaurant in a while that I can physically see the grill. It’s cool to see where all the “diner magic” happens.  The diner is located in Rochester, NY which is obviously a different atmosphere than New Jersey Diners.  Not different in a bad way but just different.

We even had pleasure to talk to the owner of the restaurant, Mr. Brown.  It was truly amazing to have the owner of the diner come out and talk to us and he was hilarious.  Out of all the diners I’ve been too, this was the first that I had the experience of the owner talking to us. Chatting with Mr. Brown alone caused the rating of the atmosphere to be an A.  I wish we had gotten a photo!

Coffee: A

The coffee was refilled and the waitress even brought a massive amount of whipped cream.  I don’t have any complaints. She also brought all four of plenty of refills.

James Browns Coffee

Which one is LOLZ coffee?
Which one is LOLZ coffee?

Food: A

The amount of eggs, pancakes, and food James Browns Place has is overwhelming.  It took the four of us 15 minutes to decide on food. This never happens!  Their breakfast menu has everything and anything you could hope for in a diner.

I ordered the Greek omelet with sour dough bread.  It was really good.  The omelet had feta cheese, spinach and onion.   The sour bread was perfectly toasted and had just the right amount of butter. The food was great and there were a lot of options.

James Browns Place Omelet

The chef accidentally broke Heather’s overeasy eggs so gave her a second set.  Heather knew she had made it as a blogger because she got two eggs while reviewing the diner (we weren’t paid to review this or any diner).

The infamous eggs.
The infamous eggs.

This is a very traditional diner and has every element you would expect in a diner.

Cost: $

The price for my omelet and coffee was $9.50.  That was one of the cheapest diner meals I’ve had in a while.  While the gas in New York is expensive, the diner food is cheap.

Overall thoughts: A

Would I come back?

I had a great experience at the James Brown Place in Rochester.  Next time I’m in Rochester, I will have to come back!   It was great to have the owner of the restaurant chatting at our table.  Mr. Brown is a great guy, hilarious and it is obvious why he is so successful.

Cliff notes:

James Browns Place
Rochester, NY

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: A
Food: A
Price 5-10 dollars
Overall Atmosphere: A

 Question for you: Have you ever met a restaurant owner? 

Brownstone Diner

I went to the Brownstone diner with Danielle, Amelia and Dori in October. I know I am a few months behind but I wanted to wait until I tasted the Brownstone legendary pancakes. The first time I went to the Brownstone Diner, I was in Jersey City before going to FitBlog NYC. The second time I was on the way to visit my brother (Danielle and Amelia you guys were out of town or obviously we would have gone again!). This diner has even been on the food network. One step inside and I can see why!  This is a staple and very well known diner in New Jersey.

Atmosphere: B
The Brownstone diner looks like a normal building that you might drive (or in our case, walk) right by. If you aren’t coming specifically for the diner, chances are you will miss this hidden gem! The inside is clean and cute. I liked the signs to the restroom, the NJ turnpike and NYC.

The attitude of the staff was friendly but nothing to write home about.  I was a bitter because I was have liked a waitress that refilled my coffee a few more times.  It happens though.

Coffee: B
The coffee was good. The whipped cream was tasty but the waitress only refilled the small cup once. It was the reason I gave a B for coffee. I might be dramatic but it was so good, I would gave rather a refill. It wasn’t busy either.

Brownstone Diner Coffee

Food: A
It doesn’t really matter the rest of the scores for this diner because the food is amazing. The first time I went I had had their Greek Salad. The salad was by far the best diner salad I’ve had in a while.

There was plenty of dressing (but not soupy), plus the salad was huge. I ordered a size of salmon which was very worth it. It came with pita bread and grape leaves. It also didn’t come with hard boiled egg (something I personally don’t care for).  It was one of the biggest diner salads I’ve had and it was also one of the most high quality.

Brownstone Diner Salad

The next time I went I was dying to try the pancakes. After debating which pancakes to try, I ordered the cherry pancakes. It took me back to college when I did the pancake challenge several times. I have yet to find a restaurant that rivaled the amazement of those pancakes. The pancakes were stuffed with cherry jam and delicious.  These are BY FAR the best pancakes I’ve had in a diner.  I can’t do them enough justice through text.  My guess is the pancakes had about 2000 calories per pancake so they are a perfect carb load for a race (I would almost do the New York City marathon again) for a reason to get these guys again.

cherry pancake

Whipped cream like a boss
Whipped cream like a boss

The problem with this diner is everything looks and has been so good. The choices are overwhelming.

Cost: $
The salad and coffee was 17 and the coffee and pancakes were 11. This is one of the cheapest diners and the cheapest with the most filling food.

Would I come back?
Overall atmosphere: A
Yes, right now this is my favorite diner in all of NJ. Thank you to Brownstone Diner. I 100% recommend this diner and if you ever go…tell me and I’ll drive the 90 mins to meet you.

Cliffnotes:
Atmosphere: B
Coffee: B
Food: A
Price: 5-15 dollars
I’ll be back everytime I’m in the area.

Question for you: Where are the best pancakes you’ve had? 

Americana Diner Review

It’s time to kick off my diner review session on LOLZ.  For now I’ll be backtracking with diners I’ve been too and then I can begin to venture to new diners.  Though I imagine having gone to several different diners already in NJ, I’ll take forward steps before finishing. 

—–

I have been to the Americana diner a few different times with a few different people.  I was first introduced when not living in the area.  The Americana diner is located close to the NJ turnpike and 295, so while driving back from the New York City Marathon dad and I stopped at the Americana Diner.

The day after running a marathon pretty much anything tastes really good.  I must admit everytime I’ve gone to the Americana Diner I haven’t had a bad meal.  So it wasn’t just post racing goggles reviewing.

Atmosphere: A

It’s a very high end looking diner.  There are three different rooms to be seated in, the “typical diner scene”, a banquet area and dimly lit bar.  I’ve sat in all three and all three are nice.

Coffee: A+  

My standard comparison is getting coffee and whip cream to put into the coffee.  They provided me with both.  One thing I love about this diner is they provide a pitcher to stay at your table so you never run out.  The coffee is great.  The whip cream is homemade and served in a pitcher.  This diner received the best whip cream award.

whipcreamcoffee

 

I would come back multiple times just for whip cream.
I would come back multiple times just for whip cream.

Food: I’ve had:  A

Brushetta Appetizer

I would order it again.  There are four different peices of bread with four different topics (hummus, grapes, goat cheese and mozzarella).

New York Omelet (with lox)

The omelet and toast was delicious.  They also served a fried tomato (something I haven’t had since living in England).

salmonomelete

Skylark Salad (with salmon)

Without a meat addon I would have found myself hungry.  I would recommend getting some sort of meat.  I do wish the salad came with actual bread.  Otherwise the salad was good.

Mediterranean Salad

This was my favorite of the two salads I’ve had.  The only thing it lacked is a roll.  I love when salads come with bread.

MediterraneanSalad

Carrot cake

Their desserts are a bit confusing and you choose one (for $3).  They bring out an entire tray of different choices and you choose one or several.  They are bite size and perfect for sampling, if I wanted to go big or go home I would get the whole tray.  With spring I’ve been enjoy carrot cake and with the ice cream it was perfect.

Ice cream

The vanilla ice cream was creamy and served in a milkshake glass.  I was actually surprised by the amount (gladly surprised) they gave us.

Price:  $$$$

For the amount of food you receive the price isn’t great.  It’s relatively small portions and as someone who eats a lot more I could use bigger portions.  The food, however, is very high quality and probably the overall best diner food I’ve been to so far.  I would order everything I’ve had again.

Overall impression: A

I would definitely go back.  It’s one of the high end diners that you would bring your parents too or go for a nice dinner or brunch.  Although it’s a little bit expensive for portion size, the food is definitely delicious, well prepared and tasty.

Overall I give it 8 out of 10. 

It’s hard to start with one of your top five favorite diners because then you compare everything else to a very high set bar.  Either way if you are stopping on the turnpike near East Windsor, I would 100% recommend the Americana Diner.

I do recommend they add bread to their salads.  I’ve never had a bad meal and no one I’ve eaten there with has had a bad meal.  On another note they are also the most social media active diner I’ve come across.  I often find myself interacting with them on twitter (which deserves bonus points in my book).

**All thoughts are my own and I payed for my own meals in full.  No compensation was given.

Questions for you:

What is the best whip cream you have ever had? 

All of the Diners

Something I have been wanting to do for quite some time is create a page dedicated to diners.  It’s not a big secret that one reason I love living in New Jersey is the availability of diners.  Nothing beats the glorious taste of coffee and an omelet after a run.

Diners in NJ are different than most states.  Some diners have high quality dinners that you would never expect, costing upwards of 20 dollars per meal (that are worth it!).  They even rival a fancy restaurant.  So without further ado whenever I visit a new diner I’ll blog about it.  It seems natural since my hobbies include running and going to diners.

With over 100 diners in NJ, it appears I have my work cut out to me.  I will be judging diners on all of the following categories (that are important to me personally):

Atmosphere: Is it an old timey diner, cute little train care feel, is a fancy upscale diner?

Coffee: I always have to try coffee at diners, it can make or break the meal.

Cost: Is it expensive?  Is it worth the cost?  NJ diners are either very upscale restaurants or they are cheap, inexpensive quick meals.  As long as the food is worth the cost then I’ll be happy.

Food: Because I go there for a reason.  It’s either good or bad, enough or not enough.  I’m a runner and I like to eat.

Dessert: If applicable.

Overall standard: Will I go back?

**I’m not a foodie and these are my personal opinions.   My education did not prepare me to review NJ diners and this is all from personal experience.  You might have had a completely different experience and I would love to hear that too.  This just seemed like a fun and relevant thing to my life.  If you are a NJ diner and want me to come visit, let me know!

 

Berlin:
New Berlin Diner

Bordentown:
Town & Country Diner

Browns Mills:
Three Brothers

Cherry Hill:
Silver Diner (healthy chain)

East Windsor:
Americana Diner 

Edison:
Edison Diner 

Freehold:
Park Nine Diner

Haddon Township:
Crystal Lake Diner 

Hainesport:
Diamond Diner

Somerset County:
Somerset Diner

Southampton Township:
Pandora Diner

Vicentown:
Vincentown Diner (This is my favorite!)

Wrightstown:
Garden State Diner-Restaurant

 

Questions for you:

What is your favorite food to get at a diner?
If you have been to a NJ Diner, which is your favorite?

Sugar Free Detox Wrap Up

I cannot believe January is over and the Swanson challenge is over.  It doesn’t seem like a month ago I chose to partake in the challenge essentially giving up sugar and artificial sweetener for an entire month. 

Here are some of the other posts I did relating to the challenge.

Before

Sugar free for two days

Question and Answers

Part 2

WIAW

Hashtag that all the links!

Without further ado I thought I would share my overall experience and if I would recommend it, ect.

When I first started January 1st, I was nervous that I would not be able to last a solid month without sugar and artificial sweetener.  I am someone who added 7 splenda to their wawa coffee each morning.  I like things sweet.  I don’t mind using half a carton of splenda.  Though I don’t eat dessert daily, I do like it.  There were so many things I felt like I was giving up?  And why?  Because Swanson vitamins asked me if I wanted to and I jumped the gun and said yes.  I didn’t have a reason other then “it sounded good at the time”.

So the first day I was nervous and struggled.  For about two weeks I struggled and missed my added splenda coffee.  Although I don’t mind black coffee I didn’t want to drink it black every single day.  I eventually landed on having coconut milk in it which wasn’t bad.  A month later I’m not craving splenda but I will still go back to sweetened coffee.

After exactly two weeks I stopped craving sweet foods.  I found myself craving savory foods for breakfast like eggs and omelets.  While I am associated with eating a plethora of pancakes and waffles, it may surprise you to know that I ate eggs for breakfast before the challenge too.  During this challenge I did stay away from sweet pancakes and waffles for breakfast though. I found myself not missing sweetened coffee as much.  It was certainly a change and we started going through eggs rather quickly.

4 eggs and mixed vegetables
4 eggs and mixed vegetables

The final week I honestly didn’t feel like I was doing a challenge anymore.  I just ate and didn’t miss anything sweet (with the exception of the coffee).   It was like the honeymoon period ended.

Oh wawa you never fail me
Oh wawa you never fail me

Would I recommend this to others?

I won’t lie that the first two weeks are moderately difficult if you enjoy sugar or sweet foods.  This isn’t easy and although I didn’t post and whine every single day, there were times that I really wanted to stop.   I thought “no one in the blogging world will know, I don’t post it online it never happened”.  Right?

I don’t feel like the challenge changed my life either.  I do feel less cravings for sugar and I do feel like my skin has gotten a little better.  I think everyone can benefit from it because you never know how it would affect you.  Some people might be effected more and it might feel great for them!’

steak

As far as the challenge, when I started I weighed 135 pounds and now I weigh 133 pounds.  To the naked eye it looks like I lost two pounds in a month but I honestly can’t feel a difference nor do I feel like I did.  (Can you really feel two pounds?  No, probably not)

Did I enjoy the challenge?

I didn’t unenjoy it but I won’t go out of my way to avoid sugar.  I won’t say it was the best thing ever or I didn’t have several moments where I nearly gave up…but it was okay.

What was the hardest part of the challenge?

This goes without discussion that the hardest part was not having seven splenda in my coffee every morning.  At first I didn’t go to wawa at all to get coffee because I thought I would cave but I started going and getting black coffee and it was okay.  I ended up getting black coffee and adding my own coconut milk in.  It ended up being not so bad.  I will say I did get the recommended serving of vegetables daily which is something I’ve always struggled with.

So many salads.
So many salads.

What was the easiest part of the challenge?

I never really had a lot of sugar for dinner so it wasn’t hard to make sugar free dinners at all.  Occasionally I would miss dessert but not often.

Sproutsscallops

Do I plan to stay sugar free forever?

Absolutely not.  As of February 1st, I will continue going to wawa and getting my splenda enriched, irish cream coffee daily.  I regret nothing.  I will probably try and keep my sugar and artificial sweetener lower since I’m not craving it but I will not go out of my way to stay sugar and artificial sweetener free.

Summary:

I don’t regret anything and it was an enjoyable month.  I’m not going to maintain a sugar or artificial sweetener free lifestyle forever.  I’m going to enjoy a giant piece of red velvet cake at the diner tonight as a reward.

Finally please vote and share #LOLZforNapa!

Questions for you:

Have you ever done a sugar free challenge or the 21 day detox?

What is your favorite dessert?

Red velvet cake or bread budding for me.

Eating on High Mileage

A lot of people question how I eat enough to withstand 100 mile weeks.  It couldn’t be possible to ever gain weight while running 100 mile weeks and you couldn’t possibly eat enough to withstand that activity…ect. 

First and foremost, I only ran 100 mile week.  I didn’t run 52 but rather just 1.  That was my peak week and most of my other weeks were between 60-80.  Most not all.  As much as I want to credit myself to running multiple 100 mile weeks, I know I would just get injured running several in a row.  (or more then 1).

I’ve rambled about this a few times but blogging nutrition and real life nutrition is not the same thing.  I feel bad for certified dieticians and nutritionists that also blog.  They get mixed in with other bloggers whose research involves personal research and study which is not the same as being certified.  Point blank: it’s not.  I’ve taken plenty of nutrition classes but don’t know nearly enough as someone who has studied and has their undergraduate, masters, or even PhD.  I can tell you what has worked for me but that is no way telling what will work for you or that is right or wrong.

The majority of healthy living blogs focus on getting enough vegetables, fiber and more vegetables into their diet.  If I ate half the amount of vegetables that some people do, I would be able to run 1 mile…maybe 2 with deciding it was time to go home.

When you run high mileage and exercise you must learn that you have to eat a lot of foods that aren’t high in fiber.  You must eat food that is still healthy but you can’t eat 3000 calories worth of broccoli.  You also can’t eat 3000 calories worth of ice cream.  Both will result in you not feeling great for a run.

A typical day for me looks something like this right now:

Breakfast: 400-500 calories

Coffee+cream (100-200 calories…my vice).

Some of my breakfast choices lately have been: Bagel and peanut butter, egg sandwich, eggs and toast, waffle with Greek yogurt or peanut butter.

A standard waffle with peanut butter and yogurt has been my go to before races right now and I think I’ll stay to that before the marathon (as well as a bagel with peanut butter while waiting around beforehand).  My standard race day nutrition used to be a bagel with peanut butter and yogurt but I had stomach cramps a few races back and it was enough to change my mind.

Raspberry pancakes make me happy
Raspberry pancakes make me happy
Bagel+peanut butter+yogurt also make me happy
Bagel+peanut butter+yogurt also make me happy

 

French toast bagels are my favorite (panera or wegmans FYI)
French toast bagels are my favorite (panera or wegmans FYI)

Run

Lunch (within an hour of running) 500-800 calories

I’ve been having a lot egg sandwiches lately.  Eggs, avocado and cheddar cheese on a bagel.  I really just have whatever is in the fridge.  It could be a sandwich, soup or salad.  I don’t have a standard post run meal or lunch. I normally just like to eat what is in the fridge.

Sometimes I’ll go to the gym in between, sometimes I won’t.   (now that I’m tapering, I don’t).

egg and ham sandwich
egg and ham sandwich
lentil soup (this cold has got me craving it)
lentil soup (this cold has got me craving it)
Soup with parm cheese so good
Soup with parm cheese so good
Random salad I attempted to make restaurant worthy...they never are as to why I try and eat salads at restaurants more.
Random salad I attempted to make restaurant worthy…they never are as to why I try and eat salads at restaurants more.

 

Snack: 200-300 calories

I consume a lot of yogurt
I consume a lot of yogurt
No really...
No really…’
Baked apples are good (especially in the cold)
Baked apples are good (especially in the cold)
I also eat bars on the go...snickers marathon bars are really good
I also eat bars on the go…snickers marathon bars are really good

I normally have a snack sometime in the middle of the day.   I’ve been enjoying apples and peanut butter lately but that is only because apples have been so cheap at stores.   I also have left overs if they are in the fridge.

Dinner: 800-1200

As if anything else is planned, my dinner is the least planned and changes daily.  I am such a meat and potatoes kind of person.  I’ll have a serving of meat (steak and fish being my favorite), some sort of vegetables (cooked kale, brussel sprouts and spaghetti squash are my current favorites) and some sort of grain.  I’ve been better about eating a carbohydrate such as bread or race.  I’m actually not a big pasta fan (I don’t like the consistency) so I tend to eat more rice and bread.

steak and potatoes
steak and potatoes
ham and potatoes (and apples)
ham and potatoes (and apples)
Sweet Potato+Salmon+mushrooms (I'm so different)
Sweet Potato+Salmon+mushrooms (I’m so different)

I normally like to make a smoothie at night with a cup of milk and protein powder.  I have a big sweet tooth so often times I’ll just have ice cream.  I don’t really schedule a treat at night but if I’m craving something I’ll have something.   Whatever I’m craving I generally have at night.  I go to bed around 9-10 personally.

ice cream
ice cream
ice cream, cherries and whip cream
ice cream, cherries and whip cream
Protein shake
Protein shake
hot cocoa and whip cream
hot cocoa and whip cream

—–

I know this is very vague but it’s how I eat.  I don’t worry or stress about food or getting my vegetables daily.  As much as I say I want to meal plan, I don’t. If I eat too many vegetables then I don’t feel good running.  I don’t know how people eat so many vegetables (honestly).  I do strive to get vegetables but not overboard.  I try and get enough protein, carbohydrates and fat but I don’t track it and it doesn’t ruin my day.  I found the less I stress about food the easier it is.  I’ve never had a problem getting enough food and have never lost weight during a training cycle.

I will say I’m hoping to do a carbohydrate deplete and then carb load during my final week of taper.

Questions for you:

What does a typical day for you look like?

Do you plan your food weekly or eat when you are hungry?