Category Archives: Restaurants

Half-Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas!

I started my Christmas Eve with a Half-Marathon distance run.

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I met up with a few of my friends early this morning for a celebratory group run around Downtown Montgomery.

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I think I finally feel like myself (almost) completely since the marathon two weeks ago today! The best part of this run was no pain!

Post-run breakfast was a Veggie Benedict at The Egg & I.

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O.M.G worthy.

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Merry Christmas and Namaste!

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Filed under Food, Friends, Half Marathon, Long Runs, pictures, Restaurants

Vegan for a Day

Last night before Trick or Treating we walked to Mellow Mushroom for dinner. I discovered their new fall menu items and HAD to try their Holy Shiitake pizza.

We ordered a half mega veggie and half holy shiitake.

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Both were phenomenal by the way. I can’t truly pick a winner. Mega Veggie is tried and true, but Holy Shiitake is new and exciting.

As we sat there eating our pies, I discovered on Facebook that November 1st (today obviously) is World Vegan Day and that November is World Vegan Month.

I thought it was pretty short notice, but Tim encouraged me to give it a try with him .. just for one day. I’m all about a challenge so it was a done deal at that point.

This morning when we woke up, I scoured the kitchen and the few items we had purchases for meals at the cabin while we were on vacation to see what I could come up with for breakfast. We would be having lunch on the road and would be home by dinner time.

If you are not familiar with the term vegan, it  describes a person who does not use any animal products for food. No milk, eggs, butter or meat obviously. Some very strict vegans don’t even use honey.

The breakfast I came up with is probably the more thrown together odd combinations of the day. I had vegan friendly cereal, but no soy or almond milk. So I created this cereal and peanut butter mix …

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We loaded up to head back home from our Gatlinburg vacation and I need caffeine! Or really I just needed something yummy from Starbucks. I was dreaming of a skinny cinnamon dolce latte with soymilk. Turns out they ran out of soy milk … on World Vegan Day? How dare they!

We did pick up these yummy vegan snacks to share in the car for the first part of the ride.

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Raw organic seed and nut bar and dehydrated apple snacks.

Lincoln loves the bar and ate  it all by himself, the apples were just alright for me. I probably wouldn’t buy them again.

We drove 5 1/2 hours from Gatlinburg to Birmingham specifically for the purpose of making sure I got to eat at my most favorite restaurant ever, Surin West.

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Surin is everything you love about Thai food and sushi all rolled in to one menu … one very extensive menu which at times can become overwhelming. I stick to my 2 or 3 norms usually. The great thing about this restaurant and many other Asian restaurants is that you can almost guarantee that you can get a good vegetarian or vegan meal at any of them.

We started off with some sushi, because I’m a sucker for sushi. The tempura vegetable roll and the Mixed Vegetable maki.

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Carrots, peppers, cucumber and avocado were definitely involved. The smaller mixed vegetable roll I suspect some pickled diakon in the mix. They were both excellent.

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I stayed with my tried and true, Tofu Massaman Curry. Tim branched out and ordered the roasted eggplant and mushroom bowl. Again, both were fabulous … and vegan.

We actually ate so much that we didn’t think we’d need to eat again today, but eventually about 9:00 I got hungry again. I had gone to EarthFare to pick up a few grocery items for this week and they still had their salad bar out. I made myself a nice little vegan salad.

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Greens, cucumber, tomatoes, black olives, mushrooms, chickpeas and artichoke hearts. I added a little tabbouleh salad on the side to try and liked it so much I mixed it in to serve as my dressing. Just a small drizzle of EVOO on top. It hit the spot!

I totally rocked World Vegan Day! It seemed super easy, but although I didn’t have absolute control today due to traveling I did have some control over the choices I made. I can imagine there are situations with families and friends where it becomes very difficult. I don’t know if its something that I could continue on a full time basis by any means, or even for a month (atleast not on such short notice) but it was a fun experiment for sure. It made me be more conscious of my choices and I feel like that will carry over. You  might just be seeing more vegan from me in the future.

Now off to bed, I have an exciting day planned for tomorrow.

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Filed under Challenges, Food, pictures, Restaurants, Vegan

Montgomery Half Marathon Training Begins

I’m finally getting back on track since my surgery and its time to start getting down to business with the Half Marathon training. You might remember a couple months ago I wrote a blog about Running with Structure where I mapped out my training plan for the upcoming Montgomery Half Marathon based loosely on Hal Higdon’s Advanced Training plan.

August’s plan should look something like this:

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I haven’t been super strict on myself recently since I’m just trying to get back in the groove of training. I got behind during my recovery. Today was my first “long run” since June.

I met up with a group in Downtown Montgomery this morning for a Half Marathon training run, my schedule called for a 90 minute run but I planned on doing 8 miles in however long it took me. I figured even that would be a stretch since my longest run in over a month has only been 5 miles.

I woke up at 4:00 am, I like to give myself plenty of time to wake up and get my things together before a run. We met at the Alley Bar downtown at 6:00.

I’ve never been good with directions and I don’t know this area of town as well as I should, so I was really glad to have a group to run with.

Our route looked like this:

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We kept a conversational easy pace and I had no trouble.

I ran 8 miles in 1:12. 

 After the run Tim and I headed to the Farmer’s Market for fresh veggies, but we detoured to Mimi’s Cafe for breakfast. We were both HANGRY!

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Do you get freezing cold after exercising? The cool air inside the restaurant felt ice cold, I was shivering. I grabbed my scrub jacket from the car and coffee was definitely a must.

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Bondi band + scrub jacket = a pretty crazy looking combo.

I saved my muffin for later and ordered the Capri Omelet.

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Tim got the French Toast.

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He was lusting after my omelet, so we decided to go splitsies.  My plate ended up looking like this:

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I can assure you my horrible cellphone pictures did not do this meal justice. It was amazing! I’m sure I ate every last calorie back that I burned during my run and probably more.

But who’s counting?

After breakfast we hit the Farmer’s Market. I loaded up on fresh veggies for the week.

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Tomatoes, cucumber, Pink Eye Peas and onions.

Now I’m off to bed, I signed up to work an extra shift tonight. $$$$

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Filed under Farmer's Market, Food, Half Marathon Training, Long Runs, pictures, Restaurants

Tokyo & Shakespeare

Last night Tim and I decided to declare it a “family date night”, which basically means that we do something that our whole family will enjoy. Even though we are hardcore saving money right now, we enjoy going out to dinner together on a regular basis and I think we can squeeze that in to the budget.

A little self timer pre-date action …

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I’ve been craving Japanese food lately, so we thought we’d try a new place that we haven’t been to before called Tokyo.

I ordered the Vegetable Hibachi meal and a Fresh Green Roll.

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Avocado, asparagus and cucumber. Mmm! 🙂

For those of you who have wondered how I eat sushi and am a vegetarian. That is your answer. The name sushi actually refers to the rice and not “raw fish”. Its a common misconception.

The Vegetable Hibachi was also delicious.

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I’ve never ordered a vegetable hibachi dish that included tofu. I really liked it. I ate about half and gave the rest to Tim. Although his meal also looks delicious I could see where it might not be very filling for a man.

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After dinner I wanted to hit up Kmart to check out the clearance toys, they were having an extra 50% off the clearance prices. I bought several things for Lincoln for Christmas.

Lincoln had a fun time sword-fighting with Daddy while I shopped. I’m sure everyone around just loves us when we go out.

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The night ended perfectly with icecream.

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Snickers blast with KitKat topping. A little too much for me, I had a couple bites but ending up preferring Tim’s Cake Batter icecream.

This morning the alarm went off super early for a Saturday, at 5:00. I came very close to turning it off and going back to bed. I’ve been really trying to make an effort to get up early and go running with the River Region Runners group at Blount Cultural Park (i.e. Shakespeare). I finally woke up a bit and decided to go for it.

I had a great 4 mile run at a easy conversational 8:58 pace.

After the run I decided to head over to the Farmer’s Market to pick up fresh veggies for the week. On the way over my stomach was talking to me so I just haaaaad to stop at Panera Bread and have breakfast.

I got a Spinach & Artichoke Soufflé.

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It was divine! I just wished I had looked up the calorie content before I ordered it instead of while I was eating it. For that many calories it should have kept me full all day, but I was starving again 3 hours later.

At the Farmer’s Market I picked up some:

  • Green Tomatoes
  • Red Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Green Beans
  • Pink Eye Peas

I’m going to make an awesome veggie plate for dinner tonight. Tim has requested Fried Green Tomatoes, but insists on making them himself. We’ll see how this goes!

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Filed under family, Farmer's Market, Food, pictures, Restaurants

Reason to Celebrate!

I’ve been doing alot of thinking lately about how to save some money. If you read my blog with any regularity you probably already know that I had my gallbladder removed exactly 1 week ago and that I’m out of work for an undetermined amount of time (could be as much as 6 weeks) right now while I “recover”.

Missed those blogs?

Here.
Here.
Here.

Anyway, today I did some research about other ways to save money around our household. I calculated our bills, re-calculated, and re-calculated again to see if we can afford to live only off of the hubby’s income. I’ve determined with a little finagling and cutting back on our average grocery spendage we can reasonably live off of just the hubby’s income.

Of course at some point I’ll be going back to work, but I would love to be able to dedicate my entire income to debt, then savings and eventually be a stay-at-home mom.

I love reading Frugal Reddit to get great ideas (and general entertainment) about living frugally and saving money.

Some of the sites that I have discovered recently that I find really cool are.

Swag Bucks – A Google based search engine toolbar that earns you “swag bucks” for internet searches. You can redeem your swag bucks for prizes in the Swag Store. I actually got 2 free $5 Amazon e-gift cards a few days ago just for using this toolbar to search the internet. I’m close to being able to get a 3rd. This will come in handy for Christmas shopping. Hopefully I’ll have a few more by then 🙂

Restaurant.com – I found out about this website from Reddit also. I purchased a $25 gift certificate for one of our favorite local restaurants for $2! They have promotion codes available online for huge discounts. (More on this in a minute)

Ebates.com – I haven’t used this one much yet, but basically its a cash back rewards site. You get $5 for just making an account which they either credit to your Paypal account or send you a check. When you buy from specific retailers through the site you get a designated percentage of your purchase as cash back. Similar to what some credit card companies do.

After all this “research” today I really needed to get out of the house for a while. I originally planned on taking today off from working out, but I ultimately decided I felt good and up for it, so why not? I thought I might even …. *gasp* … run.

I got dressed to go to the gym and did a 2 minute “test run” on my treadmill to see if I thought I might be ready. It went well enough that I thought running was feasible today. I prefer to run on the gym treadmill when I have the chance for several reasons:

  1. Its cooler at the gym. (Especially since I’ve been setting our thermostat higher than normal to save electricity).
  2. I like being around other people.
  3. The machines are better.
  4. I can look out the window while I run.

I decided to try to run about 2-3 miles, depending on how I felt. But I would stop immediately if I had any pain that I thought was related to my surgery.

I ran 3.1 miles in 26:03! Not bad for my first time back!

I was so elated to be back in action that I needed to celebrate! I wanted to make tonight a “family date night”. We decided to use one of the Restaurant.com gift certificates that I bought today to go out to dinner (on a budget).

And I got to wear some of my new clothes

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Me and my date …

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We went to the restaurant that we went to for our first date … Ala Thai. Although its in a different location, the food is the same as it was a little over 10 years ago when we went for the first time.

Free wine, free beer …

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I don’t know why its free. But it is. I had 3 glasses 🙂

In order to use our $25 gift certificates it specified that we must spend atleast $35 before the discount, so we scoured the menu online before and decided on what exactly we’d get to get us just over the $35 mark. We decided on …

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Spring rolls. My long-standing favorite appy! And a newbie app …

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Vegetable roll. Basically pineapple, shredded carrot, and bean sprouts with a yummy dipping sauce. It was pretty good, but its no spring roll.

For my entree I decided on my usual, the tofu Pad Thai.

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Tim had Red Curry with Tofu.

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It was pretty tasty, but melt-your-face-off spicy. Definitely not for me!

After our 2 apps, 2 entrees and free drinks we were still $3.75 short of the $35 requirement to use our gift card so we haaaaad to get dessert.

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Fried cheesecake!

The summary …

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember the last time I ate out at a nice place and had 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, 5 alcoholic beverages and dessert for $23. And that included the gratuity. Score!

Actually we determined that the meal actually cost us exactly … $25.14 including buying the gift certificate, and the cash back reward that we get from our credit card. Still … not bad at all!

Anyone that knows me knows that I love to eat out and just because I’m on a “budget” doesn’t mean I’m not going to find a way to make it happen. It was a great date night.

Lincoln slept through the whole thing …

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Filed under Food, Frugality, pictures, Restaurants, Running

The Veggaletta

Today started off with a pretty decent treadmill run. The treadmill is going to be a permanent fixture in my life it seems with the 100 degree weather that we are having lately. I intended to run my usual 5 miles, but somehow I ended up getting started later than I planned and I started getting really hungry. I decided to call it a day at 4 miles, nothing to be ashamed of.

I ran 4 miles in 31:56. I threw in some pretty serious intervals of 8 mph x 1 minutes, then 7.5 mph x1 min, then 2 minutes of each. All in all it was a good workout!

The Hubby has been raving about Jason’s Deli’s new Veggaletta (vegetable muffuletta) for over a week now, so I decided to appease him for lunch today and see what it was all about. I would assume that everyone knows what a muffuletta is, but perhaps not.

The muffuletta is a type of round Sicilian sesame bread, as well as a submarine-style sandwich made with that bread that originated from New Orleans, Louisiana. A traditional muffuletta consists of one muffuletta loaf, split horizontally. The loaf is then covered with a marinated olive salad, then layers of capicola, salami, mortadella, emmentaler, and provolone. The sandwich is sometimes heated through to soften the provolone. The size of the muffuletta is enough to feed more than one person, and many stores sell quarter or half-muffulettas.

A traditional muffuletta looks like this:

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Tim ordered 1/2 of a Veggaletta. Imagine this . (x2)

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The picture is of 1/4 of a sandwich, he had already eaten the other side.

Muffaletta bread filled with grilled portobello mushrooms, provolone cheese, organic spinach, tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, purple onions and our family recipe muffaletta olive mix. How could that not be good?

I’ve been making an attempt to be more conscious about my eating (more on that in another blog) so I decided to for-go the bread and have my 1/4 Muff in an Organic Wheat Wrap.

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I skipped the chips and had a huge side salad with all kinds of healthy veggies instead.

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Pardon my half eaten egg there, I was so hungry I almost forgot to stop to take a pic.

Instead of using salad dressing I used a little oil and vinegar and topped my salad with Jason’s edamame succotash. Perfect!

Tim and I talked at lunch about how there are certain companies that we really respect because we feel that their business isn’t solely based on what is most beneficial to them economically, but also was it best for the consumer. I’ve always thought of Jason’s Deli as one of those companies (as well as Kashi, Amy’s and others). They provide a large variety of healthy choices, mostly organic (they even had organic ketchup) and offer their customers a choice. I was surprise and interested to see on their website that they are allowing their customers to vote on whether they should replace HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) fountain drinks with ones made of cane sugar, leave it the same, or offer some of both options. What an interesting idea to actually ask the consumer?!

I kind of went off track there a bit, but yeah … try the Veggaletta. LOL 🙂

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Filed under Food, pictures, Restaurants, Thoughts

Food Finds – Kentucky Style

Miss me much? Sorry to bail this weekend, but the little man and I went on a whirlwind trip to visit a friend of mine in Kentucky. My friend Nicole and I (and Lincoln) flew up to Kentucky on Friday to visit our friend Kelli.

I was nervous about flying with Lincoln without the Hubby, but he did great! He was so excited to see the airplanes.

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We did a lot of eating out while we were in Kentucky. My most favorite place that we went was Wallace Station. It was a neat little sandwich shop in the middle of nowhere.

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I was surprised to see signs in the window saying that the restaurant would be featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network on June 28th.

I was impressed with the vegetarian options they had, especially at such a little hole-in-the-wall place. I ordered the Mediterranean Wrap.

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Deeeeee – lish!

Another food I tried while I was in Kentucky was a Hot Brown. According to Wikipedia a hot brown is:

A Hot Brown is a hot sandwich originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, by Fred K. Schmidt in 1926. It was one of two signature sandwiches created by chefs at the Brown Hotel shortly after its founding in 1923. It was created to serve as an alternative to ham and egg late-night suppers.

The Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich of turkey and bacon, covered in Mornay sauce and baked or broiled until the bread is crisp and the sauce begins to brown. Many Hot Browns also include ham with the turkey, and either pimentos or tomatoes over the sauce, and imitation Hot Browns sometimes substitute a commercial cheese sauce instead of the Mornay sauce, but fans of the dish usually decry this substitution. Some restaurants even offer a ‘veggie brown’ nowadays to attract vegetarians, as the recipe is easy to modify with avocado, or, less commonly, soy burger.

I had my Hot Brown at a restaurant called Ramsey’s. It included: bread, mushrooms, tomato, asparagus, zucchini and ALOT of mozzarella cheese.

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Honestly, It didn’t do alot for me. I wish I would have gotten their zucchini burger or a veggie plate instead. Who can eat that much cheese anyway? It was interesting to try though.

Ramsey’s did have an awesome Key Lime Pie though, that may be the best I’ve ever had.

I also had the most amazing Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pretzels that we randomly found at a grocery store, that I must find again.

All in all I had a great trip, but its always nice to come back home. One plus was that because we were flying into Birmingham instead of Montgomery, I was able to eat at my favorite restaurant, Surin West, today for lunch. I had my usual – Tofu Massaman.

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And Veggie Tempura sushi …

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Yummy!

Its time for me to get back into my normal routine. Waaay too much eating out, and waaay too little exercise has occured lately. I did run twice (3.1 miles, and 3 miles) while I was out of town though.

Now I’m off to fight the ant infestation that I was welcomed home by.

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Filed under Food, Restaurants, travel, vacation