Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

May 30, 2022

Guide to Eat/Drink/Visit: Roanoke VA

Guide to Eat/Drink/Visit: Roanoke VA

I am a fan of easy to read recommendations for traveling so I can create lists of possible places to eat/drink and things to do when I visit cities. I find it hard to find so why not share my own mini guides with others! 

Between Camp Flex & Flow last year and my weekend getaway for the Blue Ridge Half Marathon this year, I have been lucky enough to spend some time in Roanoke Virginia which is just over a 4 hour drive away from Baltimore. This small city in southwest Virginia is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and features a vibrant downtown with plenty of ways to explore the great outdoors. Roanoke was very pedestrian friendly and easy to drive around and find parking in, which is a plus as a tourist. Here are some of my recommendations for what to eat, drink, and do in Roanoke, VA: 


EAT

Bread Craft- This artisan bakery has selection of fresh breads and pastries as well as a café with super delicious sandwiches in their café. They were sold out of many items later in the day so make it a part of your morning during the visit!

amazing croque monsieur sandwich from Breadcraft

Local Roots-I haven’t actually visited this spot due to time constraints of my last visit but this was on all the lists of places to check out for farm to table cuisine

Jack Brown’s Roanoke-A lowkey spot with DELICIOUS burgers and a large selection of craft beers

Blue Cow Ice Cream Co-This small batch artisan ice cream company has some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had! Blue Cow Ice Cream Co flavors include Goat Cheese with Blueberry Swirl, Chocolate Brownie, and Sea Salt Brickle with Caramel Swirl. They even do ice cream FLIGHTS!

The River and Rail-Also another restaurant I didn’t get to eat at, but the reviews are great. Here you’ll find southern fare and craft cocktails.

Tuco’s Taqueria Garaje- delicious tacos and tequila & mezcal-what’ better than that!


DRINK

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention checking out Virginia’s Blue Ridge Cheer Trail for a collection of local breweries, wineries, and distilleries. I didn’t have a chance to visit any wineries yet but there’s so many to choose from in Roanoke so go have a glass (or two!) in my honor.

Big Lick Brewing Company-Great craft brewery downtown with a large beer garden. There’s no food onsite but you can have food delivered onsite from nearby Tucos Taqueria or Beamer’s 25.

Golden Cactus Brewing- You can’t miss the colorful mural on the outside of this brewery located in an old warehouse.

Starr Hill Pilot Brewery & Side Stage-craft brewery with stage for lie music and rotating food trucks on their outdoor patio

Sweet Donkey Coffee-Super cute coffee shop in a historic house with a large porch and outdoor patio. They also have some pastries and specialty drinks including a delicious cinnamon bun latte.

Well Hung Vineyard-If you have a sense of humor and enjoy wine, this is the place for you.

 

VISIT

Mill Mountain Star

The Mill Mountain Star is one of the most famous attractions in Roanoke and stands 88.5 feet tall! It was actually first built in 1949 as a Christmas decoration. This 90-foot icon has overlooked the city since the 1950s. While you’re visiting the star you can also visit Mill Mountain Park which has several hiking & biking trails as well as the Discovery Center, Mill Mountain Zoo, and Wildflower Garden.

Taubman Museum of Art

The Taubman Museum Art is a museum with a cool, modern exterior and contains galleries of art from around the world alongside regional art. Admission is free!

Shopping in Grandin Village

This walkable area downtown has lots of restaurants and unique stores that makes for a perfect afternoon of eating and shopping.

Blue Ridge Mountains exploring

The Blue Ridge region of Virginia offers over 1000 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and paddling that includes Roanoke. Start planning an outdoor adventure of your choosing with some suggestions here.

Virginia Museum of Transportation-This large museum in downtown Roanoke’s freight station includes a large collection of locomotives. FYI, many of the locomotives are outdoors so wear comfy shoes!

Roanoke City Market

Historic Roanoke City Market is a year-round farmer’s market open downtown 7 days a week 8 AM-5 PM since 1882.

Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon

After running the Blue Ridge Half Marathon this past year, of course I have to plug the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon weekend. The race includes a marathon, half marathon, 10K, and the option to do a double marathon as well. It all happens in April during the Down by Downtown Music Festival. It is “America’s Toughest Road Marathon” with over 7430 ft in elevation change. You run miles along the Blue Ridge Parkway with lots of hills and fun along the way. It starts and finishes in a festival-like atmosphere in downtown Roanoke. The race was well-organized and a perfect race-cation.

{Disclosure: My race entry/lodging for the half marathon this past year was sponsored by Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge}

Roanoke Pinball Museum

Play over 65 pinball machines ranging from the year 1932 to today at the Roanoke Pinball Museum. Don’t worry about bringing quarters, the museum has flat admission ticket fees that cover UNLIMITED play!

Chocolatepaper

This store was such a hit during our scavenger hunt for Camp Flex & Flow that I was sure to hit it up last time I was in town. It’s a cute store that has lots of chocolates, candies, a large collection of unique greeting cards, gifts, and other paper products.


Have you ever visited Roanoke and what was your favorite thing to eat/drink/visit there?

July 19, 2018

Your Definitive Guide to Baltimore’s Foodie Scene Gems

Disclaimer: I was not compensated by Lemonade or any of the aforementioned establishments. I collaborated on the article with Lemonade, and as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.

When Lemonade insurance company reached out to me asking for my foodie recommendations for an article, of course I said yes! I love eating my way through Baltimore, trying new restaurants, and sharing my recommendations with others. I not only stand by my recommendations, but also agree with all the other recommendations from the other bloggers in the article so I thought I would share. There is a great mix of types of food, parts of the city, as well as price ranges in the article. Let me which of these spots is your favorite or you want to check out!

Your Definitive Guide to Baltimore’s Foodie Scene
We go beyond the crab to help you discover local foodie gems


Baltimore, or “Bawlmer,” (if you’re a true local) is standing up to its nickname, Charm City. So charming, that Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner after he witnessed the British defeat at the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814. That charming.


The city is a hotbed of history and as it’s perfectly located between DC and Philly, it’s not to be missed. Next time you’re driving down the I-95 consider stopping for a walk around the Inner Harbor, or a trip to the Fort McHenry National Monument (aka, where Francis Scott Key wrote the U.S. national anthem).


But we’re here to prioritize the real reason you should get yourself to Baltimore: the food.


Here are the best of the best spots to grab some grub in Charm City, fit for your every craving.


Breakfast for champions:
Baltimore blogger Lauren of “Breathe Deeply And Smile” points us to Blue Moon Cafe. With two locations in the city, it couldn’t be easier to get your hands on, wait for it, the Captain Crunch French Toast. This is the definition of comfort food, American style, and it’s brought in travelers from around the nation. Other notable mentions on the menu: ginormous cinnamon buns and “Sweet Baby Jesus,” made up of fried hash browns, chunky crab-meat, cheese, tomatoes, and eggs all covered in hollandaise sauce.  Food coma, anyone?
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The giant cinnamon roll at Blue Moon Cafe are made for sharing! (photo by me)
Brunch for late risers:
Baltimore entrepreneur and fitness guru Kate Rowe steers us to Sobo Cafe, a cozy, intimate neighborhood restaurant in Federal Hill. All of their food, breads, and desserts are prepared fresh, from scratch, using seasonal ingredients. Local is the name of the game. It’s a great break from the Inner Harbor area, so go for their everyday specials - from chicken pot pie to mac and cheese and some great vegan dishes!


Something-for-everyone food court
Putting a food court on a foodie guide is painful, but when it’s good, it’s good. And R House is a smorgasbord of cuisines that is simply delicious. The surroundings set the tone: an industrial-chic food hall in a former body shop with roll-up garage doors will greet your hungry faces. Seating 350, the hall is spacious and offers 10 chef-run stalls, serving everything from Hawaiian poké to Venezuelan arepas and barbecue-flavored ice cream. You’ll want to try ‘em all, and with doors opening at 7am, we can see how one would want to stay there all day.


Superior takeout
Driving through Charm City? Picnicking? Stop everything and order takeout from Ekiben, a consensus among all the Baltimore bloggers. Rachel Lipton notes they serve the best steamed buns in the city, calling ‘em a “party in my mouth.” The small menu means you can’t go wrong: choose among four protein options and then choose either a steamed bun (bao) or a rice bowl. Yum.
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Ekiben also has a stand at the Baltimore Farmers Market! (photo by me)
Under the sea
We’ve waited long enough to mention seafood, but here it is, folks! Lauren chose the ultimate seafood destination for us: Thames Oyster House, serving self-proclaimed “traditional and modern Maryland, Mid-Atlantic, and New England seafood with a spectacular à la carte raw bar.” But it’s the lobster roll that everyone’s raving about, so we say, go for that. You can get your grub (and cocktail!) downstairs next to the main bar or upstairs, and enjoy a quintessential Baltimore view of the water. If it’s nice out, head out to the lovely courtyard.
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The lobster roll at Thames St Oyster House is not to be missed (photo by me) 
Back to Basics
New York and Chicago are world-renowned, but how ‘bout some Baltimore pizza? Hersh’s is your place, with ingredients that are as farm-to-table as they get. Besides the delicious pies in their wood-burning oven, you’ll find homemade Italian cooking: breads, cheeses, fresh pasta, and sausages.


Another mouth-watering recommendation is Di Pasquale’s. The gourmet specialty deli and market lets you stock up on imported Italian classics and homemade dishes, or take a seat at the adjacent cafe and order away.


Fancy shmancy
The name kinda gives away the vibe, but Charleston is your pick for New American and French plates in a white-tablecloth setting. Rachel tells us to go for the tasting menu: you have the option to order as many courses as you like and dessert is complimentary. Bonus? The chef Cindy Wolf makes her rounds around the restaurant to hear firsthand your foodie feedback. Notable dishes: Artichoke Soup with a Gruyere Pastry and Local Sweet Corn Flan.


South of the border
Leah sends us to Clavel, a family run mezcaleria and taqueria located in Remington, the heart of Baltimore. Clavel means means 'carnation' in Spanish, and boy, is it blooming! Beyond the delicious tacos, handmade tortillas and other Mexican-inspired cuisine, Clavel is a mecca for mezcal (the spirit made from different types of agave plants).


Next to your drink
Bar food can be, well, terrible, but it also can be, well, dreamy. Kate sends us to Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood, to Lobo - a fun, small spot to get a specialty cocktail and small bite with the locals. Grab a meat and cheese plate, some raw oysters and clams, and pair with an oak-aged cocktail for the win.


Lauren sends us off to another destination - Bar Liquorice, a Locust Point bar that has friendly people, great drinks, and jars of candy at the bar - perfect for the sweet tooth in all of us. The bartender hands out free rosemary garlic popcorn, and we’re told there’s a signature nutella bread pudding. No time for shots at this joint.


Get munching
Now that you're equipped with knowledge from Baltimore’s experts, you're ready explore this glorious city. Whether you call Baltimore home, or are just popping in to explore, don’t forget to get your stuff protected while you’re out on the town. Take Lemonade for a spin, so you can focus on eating, relaxing, and adventuring your way through Maryland, worry-free.

*This Baltimore City Guide was originally published on Lemonade.com



Have you visited any of these restaurants-what is your favorite? If you haven't visited Baltimore, what spot do you want to check out?


May 30, 2018

Why I Trust NOW Foods for my Natural Products


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Fitfluential, LLC on behalf of NOW Foods. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


In health and fitness, there are lots of claims and labels being thrown around by brands and people. As a former chemist (who will always be a science nerd at heart), I’m the type of person that finds the actual research article when I read a headline about a new study. Sometimes there are small samples for the study, bias, or parts of the research aren’t addressed. The same thing goes with labels such as “natural” not being a regulated label or even their being specifics about what constitutes “organic”. Before visiting NOW Foods headquarters just outside of Chicago for the #NOWGetFit influencer event this month, I hadn’t considered myself super brand loyal, but now I can tell you I trust NOW Foods!

NOW Foods #NOWGetFit Day 1
After a travel snafu (ugh American Airlines WHY) I made it out to the event on Thursday starting with a trip to the Cooking Skills Academy for an “Iron Chef Challenge” using NOW Foods ingredients. 

Chef showing us how it's done.

My team won with a take on an avocado toast-clearly all those years watching Iron Chef and the Food Network have paid off! 

The winning dish!
Also forgot to mention that the before our challenge the night before, Kasey from Powercakes made us DELICIOUS protein donuts. I don’t throw around the word delicious paired with protein donuts ever.

April 6, 2018

{Baltimore Bred} Top Vendors to Check Out at the Baltimore Farmers' Market & Bazaar

This weekend is exciting because it looks like snow is no longer in the forecast for Baltimore (YAY!) and it's the first Sunday of the season for the Baltimore Farmers' Market & Bazaar underneath I-83 (Jones Falls Expressway). It's also the perfect event to highlight in Charm City!

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The market runs every Sunday from 7 AM -noon from April 8th through December 23,2018 (more information on the Facebook page). This is one of the biggest farmers' markets in the city with everything from local produce, fresh eats, and artisan goods. It's something I love going to after a run to grab a bite to eat or spend the morning shopping and eating with my boyfriend especially in the summer months. 

Lots of amazing local products and food vendors are sold there which makes it sometimes more fun for me to just grab breakfast and browse the market leisurely. I'm going to share with you my top vendors and goods to check out at the farmers' market this year. 

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1. Farm to Face falafel wraps
This list is not in order, but if it was this would still take the top spot. These stand has the most delicious made-to-order falafel wraps with the option to have it with a lavash bread or collard greens wrap. 

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May 4, 2017

Eat More Greens: What I Ate in a Day {with BrightFarms}

Disclosure: I received promotional consideration from BrightFarms. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Sometimes I get in ruts where I've been so busy that I notice I haven't really been eating any greens. Oops

I find myself grabbing some protein bars, oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and whatever for dinner (including pizza sometimes because it's my favorite and SO easy). So I drink some green juice, eat some salads, and re-balance my diet. A couple weeks ago was one of those times that I decided that I really needed to start adding more greens and vegetables into my diet again. I wanted to start this diet shift off by including vegetables in every meal of the day. It encouraged me to get creative in the kitchen and actually make a meal plan. Planning actually makes things a lot easier when you take the time to do the planning, in case you forgot (like I had). 

This all happened at the perfect time because BrightFarms was lucky enough to send me some of their produce to try out, which made my one-day challenge more fun. I was going to use 1 shell of the BrightFarms local spring mix, 1 of their local baby greens, and 1 of their kale in a different meal of the day. 

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BrightFarms is a produce company that uses sustainable greenhouse farming to supply grocery stores with fresh greens, tomatoes, and herbs year-round. In the DMV area they solely deliver their produce to Giant grocery stores, farm to shelf within 24 hours. I was excited because unfresh produce and buying lettuce from the grocery store and finding a couple smelly, slimy pieces that have gone bad within a day is super annoying. If you need to grab some greens and can't make it out to a farmer's market or local farm, BrightFarms from your grocery store is the next best thing! 

Meal 1- Breakfast: Queen Green Smoothie

I decided to keep it nice and simple for breakfast with a green smoothie. This was also portable to take in the car with me on the way to class which is a bonus. I created this smoothie on the fly, using whatever I had available in my refrigerator and pantry. I like trying out new smoothie recipes, but usually end up making ones with my favorite ingredients like frozen pineapple anyways. This is the Queen Green because it's one of my go-to smoothie variations and is queen to me!

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Into my Ninja blender for my Queen Green Smoothie I added: 
  • a  handful of BrightFarms kale
  • a handful of frozen pineapple and peaches mix
  • 1 1/2 cups of vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 tablespoon of honey
  • Optional: 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder or supplement-I used a scoop of Vital Proteins collagen in this smoothie. 
queen-green-smoothie-brightfarms-2

April 11, 2017

Favorite Walt Disney World Eats {Part 1}

Walt Disney World is truly a magical place. As a child growing up on the east coast, I was lucky enough to get to go maybe 4 times with family. I went to Walt Disney World (WDW) in Orlando, Florida again on my high school senior trip. I've had lots of fun vacations and many good memories there. My sister has been working at Disney World so now I've been back 3 more times to visit her and take advantage of some of her perks such as when she has unused guest passes (major SCORE), including once for the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon last April (recap on the blog on Thursday, finally!). 

Obviously one of my favorite things to do when I travel is try new foods so I thought I'd share some of my favorite eats from my most recent trips to Walt Disney World. No matter where I go I always pack some snacks, but when I'm in Disney World I usually eats in the parks or at least splurge on having one meal there. 

Especially with my sister there in recent years, I've become pretty knowledgeable about the parks and of course scoping out the eats so I decided to share some of my favorites-particularly for any of you RunDisney runners!  I figured I should label this round-up Part 1 since there could be multiple parts because picking a few favorites was hard! 

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Favorite Eats in Walt Disney World (Part 1)

 1. Disney World snacks-Mickey soft pretzel and Dole Whip

I know it's just a soft pretzel in the shape of Mickey's face, but something about I just love this magical carb. Nothing like a Mickey pretzel as an afternoon snack in any of the parks after walking around all day. 

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Of COURSE I had to include the famous Dole Whip. These are so delicious, cold,  and pineapple-y. The one pictured below is from the WDW Flower & Garden Show in 2014 at Epcot where a booth had alcoholic Dole Whips with coconut rum a.k.a. the best vacation snack. 

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The best way to spend an afternoon 

2. Mickey Waffles at 1900 Park Fare character breakfast at Grand Floridian (or Mickey waffles anywhere)

February 20, 2017

4 Reasons Why I'm Using Collagen Peptides {Vital Proteins Review & Giveaway}

Disclosure: I was 2 complimentary tubs of Vital Proteins for review. The giveaway is fulfilled by Vital Proteins. As always, all thoughts & opinions are my own. 

Like me, you may have read or heard of people (particularly in the paleo crowd) taking gelatin for health benefits such as a drinking bone broth. However, you may be wondering what do gelatin or collagen peptides actually do? Gelatin, like that JELL-O stuff?  

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and collagen peptides have the same amino acids as gelatin, however they are just processed differently.
Collagen peptides are hydrolyzed a.k.a. broken down into smaller amino acid chains so they are more easily digestible (I will forever be a chemistry nerd so I LOVE learning about food science). 

I had heard of Vital Proteins from reading about them on various blogs, and then had the chance to talk to the lovely people at the Vital Proteins booth and snag some samples at Natural Products Expo East 2016. Vital Proteins was nice enough to send me a tub of their collagen peptides and collagen beauty greens to try out. 

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The Collagen Peptides powder in the blue container come from grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine hides so they are not vegetarian. At first I thought it was a little weird that it was powder from cows, but after that initial moment of weirdness now I love how they are a natural and sustainable source of protein.

The green container of Collagen Beauty Greens contains marine collagen peptides along with greens, probiotics and skin healthy helpers like hyaluronic acid, all in a yummy coconut vanilla flavored powder. 

October 21, 2016

Super Berry ProYo Smoothie Bowl

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by ProYo. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Right before Expo East this year, I was introduced to the one of exhibitor products, ProYo, a protein-packed frozen yogurt pop.  I really find myself needing to up my protein and not just eat sugar-packed protein bars on-the-go, plus I love ice cream & frozen yogurt. It seemed like a win-win and spoiler alert: they taste delicious! Each 4 oz ProYo tube is made with creamy probiotic yogurt packed with 20g of protein, 2g of fat, 3g of fiber, and only 140 calories plus is rated as low-glycemic. It's also gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.  

I love that I get an extra helping of probiotics to help my tummy out as well as 25% of my RDA for calcium. The pops come in various flavors including Vanilla Bean, Dutch Chocolate, Banana Vanilla, and Blueberry Pomegranate. Truthfully, I can tell the pops have that slight whey/protein taste,but despite this I still had to tell my boyfriend to keep his hands off of them! 

Despite being delicious right out the package, I've found that the recommendation on the ProYo boxes to blend with water like a smoothie has been one of my favorite ways to eat them. It's great make 'banana ice cream' with frozen bananas and pop one of these in there for a different flavor plus extra protein.  

When I'm feeling a little more ambitious to whip up a pretty food-blogger inspired smoothie bowl, I've been making a variation of the one I'm sharing on the blog today.  I really prefer eating thick smoothies out of bowls and love being able to top them with all sorts of goodies (chocolate chips is a favorite topping!). This is a berry ProYo smoothie bowl topped with superfoodie toppings like chia seeds. 

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Super Berry ProYo Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients: 

      1 Tube Blueberry Pomegranate ProYo High Protein Frozen Yogurt
      1/2 Cup of Frozen Strawberries
      1 Tbsp honey
      ½  Tbsp of chia seeds
      ½  Banana
      4 oz milk (based on preference)
      1 handful of ice cubes
Toppings (optional)
-       ½  banana
-       1 Tbsp peanut butter
-       ½ Tbsp chia seeds
-       1 Tbsp hemp seeds

Instructions: 

– Squeeze ProYo Blueberry Pomegranate Tube into blender.

Super-Berry-ProYo-Smoothie-Bowl_blender
– Add ½ banana, honey, and ½ tbsp. of chia seeds
– Add 4 oz of milk and handful of ice cubes.
– Blend all ingredients together and pour into a bowl.    It maybe a little thick so use a spoon to help.
– Slice ½ banana and place on top of bowl. Top bowl with peanut butter, chia, seeds, hemp seeds, and anything else you’d like!
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– Eat immediately and enjoy!


If you don't have any ProYo on hand this recipe could work by substituting 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries and 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt or various other substitutions. Obviously I totally recommend the ProYo (plus it's simpler), which you can find in the freezer aisle at Giant stores locally in the Maryland area or check out their store locator for more options. Check out more recipes on the ProYo website including mine :) 


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Do you enjoy drinking smoothies or eating them out of bowls? What is your favorite snack topping?