Healthiest You Challenge: Week 2

And so we’re two weeks into the Healthiest You Challenge.  I’m feeling great, and I’m down 4.6 lbs! Admittedly, that’s since my higher-than-normal weigh-in, but my team went from an initial gain to either maintaining or losing this week! It’s especially tough, as our weigh-ins are on Mondays, but it’s just a big reminder to not go crazy on the weekends.

After our successful weigh-in (any loss is a loss!), we met our assistant coach, Anne, for a big group workout.  She took us outside for some running, skipping, walking lunges (OUCH!), and lots of squats.

Since I’d already warmed up on the treadmill, I tried to push myself as hard as possible during our time with Anne.

The always-popular butt kicks:

It looks like I have a tiny yellow nub for a right leg. Sexy.

Some slow and low shuffles (followed later by some speedy ones!)

LASER-LIKE FOCUS!

We even had our own mascot mascat! I’ll assume his loud, meowing was actually him cheeering us on.  Then again, his speed running away from me as I tried to take a picture of him suggests otherwise.

DON'T RUN, LITTLE FRIEND!

Oh well, he just made me run faster.

We wrapped up the night with full-team squats!  Looks like team “The Drop Off” knows how to drop it low

Drop it drop it low, girls (and guys!)

It was strange, after a long, intense workout, I burned lots of calories… but I didn’t feel very hungry.

Check out those spikes!!

Luckily, thanks to an amazing coupon, I picked up one of the new Summer Berry Blend Quaker Real Medleys. I don’t go gaga over oatmeal most of the time, but this mix was delicious.

Quick, easy, and delicious.

Just what I needed, but I just wasn’t hungry enough for anything else tonight… I’m sure I’ll be ravenous tomorrow.

Tonight was a great night for my team, and for me, personally.  I’m loving it.

If you weigh yourself, do you have particular days of the week or times of the day you like to do it?

I used to always have the weigh-in Wednesdays with Weight Watchers, but Monday nights have totally been a challenge!  I must remember: No going overboard all weekend, every weekend!

Maybe a few less late night french fries….

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Triangle Bucket List: Crook’s Corner’s Honeysuckle Sorbet

My Triangle Bucket List is coming together nicely. And deliciously.

This weekend, I had the pleasure of engaging in a two-fer.  As in I hit one spot (Crook’s Corner) twiced and enjoyed the most delicious, mouth-watering, and memory inducing dessert of all time.

Pardon the dim image. The dimage?

Crook’s Corner is a Chapel Hill staple, touted by The New York Times as “Sacred ground for Southern foodies.”  The head chef and mastermind behind this slice of heaven, Bill Smith, has been in the final four for Best Chef Southeast by the James Beard Awards. And I’m lucky enough that a solid chunk of my buddies work at this establishment (Sunday brunch, it was all I could do to stop saying “HI!” to friends).

The ambiance outside is all pigs and hubcaps, and a kitschy hodge podge of piggies decorates the inside.

Oink!

I’m not sure if it’s the decorations or the food, but the restaurant definitely makes me wanna pig out!

Thursday night, after dining on the tasty mudbugs at the Rockfish Crawfish Boil, I was alerted (via Twitter)  that the limited engagement honeysuckle sorbet (the feature on my Bucket List) was featured on the Thursday night menu (their menu changes regularly, I love it, always a surprise.)

After calling to be certain they still had some of the sweet treat (it’s a hot ticket item that goes fast), I dragged Amanda along with me for dessert.

Sweet backlighting courtesy of Amanda's iPhone

Served in a tiny chalice, this nectar was presented with a sprig of mint leaves and two spoons.  Talk about romantic….

Anticipation is killing me

I couldn’t wait for the first bite…

Pure joy

Oh sweet mother of all things tasty.

I don’t know how one bite could convey so many tastes…  It was sweet, it was fresh, it melted the moment it hit your tongue… it reminded me of sunshine, of bike rides, of summer and the shore. Swing sets in each scoop, my brothers and sister running over to the one bush on my grandparents’ street that always provided ample honeysuckle.

I got the inside scoop on how it’s made from one of my buddies/waiters.  Apparently, Bill Smith rides his bike around at night time (the best time to pluck the blooming blossoms) with a beer and a bucket, emptying one and filling the other with tiny flowers.  He puts the flowers in cold water and lets them soak for 24 hours, turning the water into a virtual essence of honeysuckle.  Then (I assume) he pours the mixture (sans actual blossoms, which have been strained out) into an ice cream maker and VOILA! Heaven.

Cook and Most Popular Student at UNC? I think Bill and I make a good pair.

I Amanda spotted Bill himself, and I made sure to thank him for all he does for the Chapel Hill food scene, as well as for creating numerous meals I’ve enjoyed over my past 7 years in the area.

I loved it so much that I came back on Sunday for brunch, and enjoyed a teensy bit more, due to my secret sneaky hookups in the back (they didn’t have it on the menu that day… but I know a guy, or four). Brunch should ALWAYS come with dessert.

Triangle Bucket List, you are one of my best (and tastiest) ideas ever.

Six Pack Sunday: French Braids, French Fries, and French Water

Oh goodness…. with all the traveling to visit other people, I forgot how exhausting it can be to play hostess to a road warrior.

My dear friend, Kinsley, spent the weekend with me and we relived our college glory days eating, drinking, and shopping our way through Chapel Hill.  It was glorious.  That’s not all I did this week, though.  Here’s another edition of Six Pack Sunday, complete with a bit of the craziness that the French provide this world.

1. Frenchin’ Fool

Not a masterpiece, but it'll do.

Would you believe that, before this week, I’d never french braided before?

If you look at this picture, you probably will.

Growing up, my mom was a french braiding pro, and then, in high school, I always had girlfriends that were so dexterous in the braiding department, their work looked like hair sculptures.  So I didn’t bother learning.  Then, the other day, I had this crazy thought like, “What if I have a daughter someday and she wants a french braid and my mom isn’t there and SHE HATES ME because I can’t help?!!?@#?%”

I taught myself, then and there.  It’s not perfect, but my imaginary future daughter won’t hate me.  At least not because I can’t braid.

2. Tarheel Monkey

Wanna see the cutest thing I saw on my shopping tour of Chapel Hill?

Looking fierce.

Just further proof that Carolina blue looks good on everyone.

3. The Future is NOW!

I forgot to DVR my Thursday night shows due to crawfish boil excitement.  Luckily, technology saved the day again.

Yes, The Vampire Diaries. No shame in my game.

I can program my DVR from my phone.  I will NEVER miss a show again.  This is amazing.

4. French Fry Feast

No picture in this one, but I’m sure that you can all imagine two 20-something blondes fueled by beers and loud music strolling into Buns (one of Chapel Hill’s Premier late-night dining establishments) to gorge on an order of french fries (and Caesar salad?)

Dipping sauces included Curry Mustard and Chipotle Mayo. If you’re in Chapel Hill, go there, enjoy the fries, and thank me later.

French toast aside, I think french fries are the most perfect French-prefixed creations on the planet.

5. Back to AMERICA!

Another item from the epic shopping adventures of the week?

These beauties.

God bless this nation. (click image for source/in case you need to buy patriotic Sperry boat shoes, too.)

I can’t wait for a summer rocking shorts and Sperrys.  And I have the absolute perfect white/blue dress that, added to these kicks, will make me the most patriotic girl around on Fourth of July.

Yes, I plan my Independence Day outfits as far in advance as my Halloween costumes.

6. French… WHAT?

Bottled water isn’t expensive enough for you?  Well, luckily, this is now a product that exists.

Oh goodness.

Evian’s “Moisturizing Spray” is mineral water you can… spray on yourself.

What the hell?!

How is this different from putting “mineral water” in a spray bottle?  Oh, it isn’t?

THEN WHY ARE YOU CHARGING ME $17?!

Ridiculous.

I’m off to brush my teeth with non-mineral water and toothpaste, and hit the sack.  Sleep tight, friends. And save up your pennies for fancy, absurd water-based products.  They don’t grow on trees.

Scenes from Rockfish Seafood Grill’s Annual Crawfish Boil

Ah, my love of crawfish boils (but not regular boils, ew) lives on…

My home away from home

Rockfish Seafood Grill has basically become like another home to me this past year and a half.  The waitstaff are my friends and so last night was basically a family dinner.  Not just any family dinner, though.  With a BOGO on pounds of crawfish, it seemed like every crawfish lover in the Triangle came out of the woodworks.

Tables were provided with entire rolls of paper towels because, let’s be honest, crawfish consumption is messy business.  Last night was no different.  My hands were coated in spice and juices and, luckily, I had a tasty beer to wash it all down.

Beautiful, delicious, and fantastic

We (my buddy Amanda and I) ordered a side of corn + sausage, and got down to business (not before taking a quick snapshot, before digging in!)

Do you like my shirt? I obviously have no problem with self-esteem...

Lips on fire, I pressed on, even sucking an occasional head. The potatoes were a welcome respite from the heat of my order (I chose the “Spicy” version, and can’t imagine the kick that would’ve come with the “Extra Spicy” version!) and the corn and sausage were icing on the cake.  If the cake was made of mudbugs

The aftermath?

Shell graveyard

Two pounds of crawfish?

No problem.

We wrapped the night up with a little treat from the Triangle Bucket List… but that’s a story for another post.

Any culinary adventures on the agenda this weekend?

I’m got some tasty tricks up my sleeve…. Fingers crossed the best laid plans come to fruition!

Crawfish Connection

Ugh. The beginning of the week was definitely an uphill battle.  Early Monday morning flight leaving my loved ones, and Tuesday was just Dreadful with a capital D.  The other capital D?

The Dentist.

Instruments of Torture?

Last year I had some pretty rough dental issues (which included a hilarious trip to get my wisdom teeth removed) and I’ve been procrastinating the last of my dental work for ALMOST a year.  Well this year, I went in prepared.

I had my iPod ready for action, and my brain convinced that the blinding light above me was the sun, on a warm Ocean City beach.

(Hey, I was trying.)

It didn’t matter that much, my hands were shaking, and I was a little panicky by the time my second cavity was being filled (I get it, I HAVE bad teeth.)

Sheer terror? Maybe.

2 hours later, I had a sore mouth, but one with severely less tooth decay.  And that’s important.

But let’s get into the real point of this post.  Tonight is an epic night: One night only Crawfish EXTRAVAGANZA at Rockfish! And that is delicious, and reminds me of other important Crawfish experiences of my life.  For a Yankee girl from Pennsylvania, I’ve had a few….

Two stand out in particular, mostly due to how incredibly different they were, and how different I was during each.

Put up yer dukes!

The first took place the summer immediately after I graduated from UNC in 2009.  Bowling Green, Kentucky, with Ryan’s dad and his dad’s buddy. It was epic, it was in a neighborhood, and…  I was on crutches.

Hungry hobbler.

Did I mention I was about 40 lbs heavier than I am today?

Basically, they parked me at a folding chair (near the keg) as Ryan brought me plates of crawfish.  It may sound pleasant but, other than the tastiness of the little critters, it was kind of lonely.

My only friend.

I ended up getting a little drunker than I would’ve liked (for some reason, everyone likes to bring the girl with the crutches beer…) and mostly felt like a bum.  Yes, part of it was the whole “broken foot” thing. But even if it hadn’t been broken, I was overweight, I was lazy, and mostly just sat around.  I didn’t really try to get around, I just felt sorry for myself.

Fast forward to Spring 2011.

Still eating. That's so Jordan.

Two years later, I was a totally different person. Crawfish boils are social events, and I actually treated this one (a fraternity event for my beau’s chapter) as it should be treated.  I ate and drank, but that’s not ALL I did.  I met new people, I ran around, I enjoyed the music, I danced.

A lot.

I like to move it, move it.

I can’t help but feel a special connection to crawfish boils.  They combine some of my favorite things in this world:

  • Southern tradition
  • Good food
  • A heavy hand with the Cayenne pepper
  • (Usually) tasty beers
  • An opportunity to get acceptably messy while eating
  • Socializing

And the first time I went to one, I missed out on all of that (except the food and beer.)

Now I know that, as with all my favorite food events (Brazilian steakhouses, barbecues, DIY taco nights, Fondue, hibachi) it’s very easy to overeat if all you focus on is the food. But if you appreciate the WHOLE experience, there’s so much more to it.

Crawfish: Bringing people together.

What’s your favorite interactive dining experience?

Triangle Bucket List

I’ve alluded to this before, but I wanted to put this down for posterity, now that plans are being made!

This is my “bucket list” before I leave the Research Triangle of North Carolina.  Some of these are long-time goals.  Some of them are things I’ve tried before, but MUST do again before I go. And, let’s be honest, lots of them are food-related.  Hey, I like what I like!

Also, I’ll be adding to this list as I see fit.  Or changing it. But it should be an adventure, no matter what!

Uniquely Triangle Activites

Doughman Challenge
Durham Bulls game (Tuesday, May 1st, 2012)
Healthiest You Challenge (ACTUALLY lose some weight/inches!)
Tour of our State Capitol
Movie at the Carolina Theater in Durham
Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Rialto in Raleigh (Fridays at Midnight!)
Tour de FroYo (Tutti Frutti vs. Menchie’s vs. Moonberries vs. Sweet Frogs?)
Food Truck Visits (re-visits, in most cases) Klausie’s Pizza, Chirba Chirba, Baguettaboutit, Monuts Donuts

Incredible, Edible Adventures

Dos Perros
Dames Chicken and Waffles
Lantern
Crooks Corner (honeysuckle sherbet, if I can get it!) Done and DONE! 4/27/12
The Pit for BBQ
Pokey Sticks from Gumby’s 
Make meal entirely from Farmer’s Market
Sandwich at Neal’s Deli in Carrboro
Dinner at Med Deli in Chapel Hill
Macaroon from Mad Hatter Bakery  (5/10/12)

Boozing! 

Flying Saucer (Beer AND brats!)
Tyler’s Beer Garden in Durham
Tuesday night out in Chapel Hill (Franklin Street, to be exact!)
Blue Cup/Karaoke at He’s Not Here
Fridays on the Front Porch

Wanna join me for any of these?  Have any suggestions? I’m open to any/everything!!

Since this post has no pictures, and I hate that, here’s one of me (Out in Chapel Hill on a Tuesday night!)

OLD SCHOOL!! Check out my sweet eyebrow ring.

Mix Six Monday

You know, if all my Six Pack Sundays are written on Monday, are they still Six Pack Sundays?

Probably.  But let’s not cheat.  Instead, let’s eat.  Or at least run through all the tasty things that I ate this past week!!

1. Trader Joe’s Pizza Party!!

It's not delivery, it's TJs!

Last night, between four of us, we almost ate two entire doughballs worth of Trader Joe’s homemade pizzas! On this one: 4 cheese sauce, mozzarella, Italian sausage, and pepperoni. On the other (with the garlic & herb crust!): a “sauce” of butter, garlic, and some oil, mozzarella, pepper bacon from the AMISH, and tomato.  I couldn’t even control myself.  So flipping tasty, so easy, so fun.  Thank goodness for pizza stones!

2.  Saison du BUFF!

VICTORY!

Ok, I didn’t eat that guy. But I DID drink the beer resting on his hulking arm.  Saison du Buff (the Victory version).  Alas, the verdict was that I was not really a fan, though it kind of reminded me of a more bitter Fullsteam Summer Basil (of which I’m a HUGE fan.)  I’ll just have to try the other Saison du Buffs to see how the trio holds up.

(PS: Would you believe, the day before this shot was taken, this guy underwent major, invasive back surgery? Yeah, I think it was all a big hoax, too.  The most elaborate hoax that involved multiple doctors and a hospital stay.

He’s a trickster like that.)

3. Keeping it Green

Healthy! And BRIGHT!

I’m convinced that, if my eye was a DSLR (instead of an eye), I’d wanna eat veggies even MORE than I do now (which is pretty regularly).  Those roasted asparagus stalks look sexy beyond belief.  That salmon doesn’t look too bad, either.

Down, Jordan. No need to get all worked up…. you can recreate this dish another time.

4. Federal Donuts: More like Federal GO NUTS!!

Oh, Federal... you do donuts RIGHT!

Wait, did I forget to mention I went up to Philly  this weekend?

Because I did.  And I bought myself (and a few other people) some donuts. Not just any donuts, though.  Federal Donuts.

Sure, the store is itty bitty and, yes, I may have scratched my mom’s car pulling out of the impossible parking area when a garbage truck blocked me in.

But that’s okay, because these things are AMAZING!

Only open from 7am-3pm (weekdays) or 7pm (weekends), this joint regularly sells out of their scrumptious ‘nuts. And their hots (Appollonia, Indian Cinnamon, Vanilla Lavender) were amazing, but I also go to try two of their limited edition “Fancies”:

Root Beer Float
Root beer glaze with vanilla ice cream icing.

Gingersnap Cookie  (pictured above!)
Ginger glaze with gingersnap cookie crumb

GET THEE TO FEDERAL, STAT!!

But don’t drive a new car. Just walk.

5. Farmers Suck at Popping Corn

I’ll admit, I mostly bought this for the novelty.

Where's my corn cob pipe?

But this little cob produced a seriously disappointing amount of actual popcorn.  And for about $3, I feel a little ripped off. If I see that Kansas farmer any time soon, I’m gonna ask him for some more popcorn (especially if we’re in a movie theater.)

6.Not Bad, Fake Meat Producers… Not bad at all.

Top Notch Pulled "shreds"

Even though I’m eating meat again (a lot of it), I had a package of these Gardein pulled “shreds” leftover from the Pescatarian Lent.  Last week, I used them as the topper of a few of my salads…. I was pleasantly surprised! Yup, they’re loaded in carbs. But the sweet sauce ALMOST tricks you into thinking that you’re eating slightly bland pork.  That doesn’t sound glowing, I know, but seriously, I’d definitely get these again.

Tonight, I take my first water aerobics class (which may help to counteract some of that pizzabeershredsdonut bloat I’m feeling.

Are there any food “crazes” that you’re 100% behind?  Gourmet donuts could be my latest obsession.

‘Cuz I’m Bossy

I don’t really like board games. And I hate bowling.  Mini golf, go-karts racing, and the like… They bring out this intense, competitive creature that normally lies dormant inside of me, and she’s kind of a jerk, so I tend to avoid them like the plague.

But there’s another activity that fills me with this unexpected aggression that you’d never see coming.

When I go to a new Zumba class, I feel like I am at my first day in prison. I can’t help but assert myself as the baddest bitch in the class. My claps are loud, my hips are bootylicious, and my steps are huge.

And I wear shirts like this:

Come at me, bro.

With Arnold by my side, you better believe I was the boss of yesterday’s class.

(I’m a crazy person.)

 

Healthiest You Challenge: Let the Games Begin!

So I haven’t necessarily been the healthiest Holly lately. There have been pork parties, Beer Festivals and entire bottles of champagne, and a few too many Easter Peeps (when you’re at the Peeps mecca, it’s hard to resist).  And I’ll let you in on a little inside scoop: It’s sort of been on purpose.

I know, I know, what kind of a reformed overeater am I?

The kind that’s been gearing up for something big.

I was notified, not too long ago, that I was selected to participate in a most EXCITING adventure! UNC Health Care and 1360 WCHL are putting on their second annual Healthiest You Challenge, during which 8 teams of 8 will compete against each other for 8 weeks to get fit, get healthy, and get down to business.  We had our weigh-in on Sunday so, I’ll be honest, I might’ve crammed a few extra pork bites in the mouth before the big step on the scale!

All the stats!

My blood pressure was apparently a little higher than usual, I’m hoping that had more to do with the pork I crammed in my mouth earlier in the day, but hopefully a chat with my coach, an RD/LDN, could help me out.  I’ll work on it.

My team, The Drop-Off, is sponsored by The UPS Store.  Ha, get it, the drop-off?  While this does mean that our shirts are a weird looking brown/tan/beige/skin color, it also means WE COULD GET SOME FREE COPIES!

The little things, eh?

Yesterday, we had our launch. This included meeting our teammates and our coach, as well as a little tour of the UNC Wellness Center, our headquarters for lots of the workouts and services offered.

Sweet cardio section!

I loved their vast machine area, lots of cardio AND weights, something for everyone.

Upstairs track

We also checked out the track on the second floor, which also housed the cycle room or the Zumba room (I think it’s a multi-purpose room, depending on what day of the week it is).  On the left, you can sort of see the blue of the pool room. They also have a whirlpool and a sauna (!!!!! YES !!!!)

Another bonus?

We are REQUIRED to take advantage of a free massage from Massage Envy.

Fine, pull my leg.

I started off today strong, tracking my food intake and exercise on MyFitnessPal (I guess I’m the last human on the planet to try this out?)  It told me that “If every day were like today…   You’d weigh 164.2 lbs in 5 weeks.”

Little does it know that, in the next 5 weeks, all kinds of craziness will go down. I’ve got a trip home this weekend, a visit to Jersey in the middle of May, and that mysterious “Triangle Bucket List” that I’ve still yet to get all on paper.  But, with vigilance, exercise, and moderation, I think I can do it.  And I know I’ve said that whole “I can DO IT! I’m gonna stick with __ plan!” in the past, I think that those plans (30 Day Shred, Fitbook) were a little too unfamiliar. This plan feels more like Weight Watchers, which is what I had so much success with when I first lost 40 lbs.

Tracking.

Balancing.

Sweating.

I got this.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN...

Let the 74th Annual Hunger Games 2nd Annual Healthiest You Challenge begin!

Brooklyn Brewery Presents the Carolina Pork Experiment

As I bit into the perfectly crunchy piece of (what may’ve been grilled) bacon, wrapped around a tiny grit cake and a juicy shrimp, all I could think was “why would I EVER have given this up?!”

Ooh baby. Carolina pork trio, a strange pork tenderloin featuring a chocolate covered carrot (?!), and (maybe) Jerk Pork?

This.

Bacon wrapped bacon, tortilla pie, skewered porky delights, and PBT (Pork Belly Tomato!)

Pork.

Menage a pork, southern pork pastrami, pork humitas, bacon wrapped shrimp and grits!!

Far as the eye could see, pork treats galore!!

Brooklyn Brewery (a personal favorite of mine since I took the tour in the fall!) and the folks with the Food Experiments National Tour (check it out, coming to a city near you!) decided to visit Durham, NC to feature what Carolina chefs know best: PORK!

Goodness, did they respond!

What a menu!!

19 different dishes, served in cups and on plates, consumed with a spork and, in some cases (ribs!) bare fingers!  It was a pork-stravaganza! A porktacular! We enjoyed every bite.

For a paltry $10, spectators got to enjoy music at Motorco and try 19 different pork dishes. A Brooklyn Brewery beer was also included in the ticket price, but the pork ALONE tasted like it was at least worth $40.

My personal favorite was the “Bacon wrapped Bacon”, a tiny slider of bacon wrapped around (maybe) pork belly and served with a carrot ginger slaw.

What a beautiful sight!

The event sparked typical Durham mob-like mentality and, though we were the first in line (and thought that it was going to be barely attended), an hour after the doors opened, the line was down the street!  We opted to grab the bites in shifts, so as not to risk dropping anything or overwhelm our tastebuds as the food got cold.  Other folks waited in a massive line (that was sort of nonsensically snaking around the building) and loaded every single sample on their plates at once.

I would not recommend this method, as I saw a number of spills/drops and some sad, porkless faces.

Rookies.

If you’re wondering who I went with, it should be no surprise that I took my only? favorite beer buddy, Melissa.

She liked it.

Chow girl!

The bites were, for the most part, perfect, with only a few that had me shaking my head or wishing the pork was highlighted more (chocolate covered carrot skewer? No, thanks. I’m good.)

Since the audience voted for their favorites at the end, Melissa and I had to get our two favs a second time for a sudden death rematch.

For SCIENCE!

Shhh I liked it so much I snuck a second! It definitely got my vote.

The winner ended up being neither of our choices (the shrimp & grits/bacon wrapped bacon) but, instead, the Beer, Bacon, and Bean ice cream by You’re Bacon Me Crazy who will represent Carolina in the “finals” in Brooklyn, later this spring/summer.

For more results, check out the official Carolina Pork Experiment Results Page!

If you’re in DC (next weekend, the 22nd of April) or Philadelphia (May 6) check out what the local chefs put together. I think the DC theme is Chinese Take Out and Philly is SANDWICHES!! (I’m tempted to journey up just to try some of these goodies!)

As always, when you combine pork, beer, and Carolina, everyone left happy.

Tasty pork = happy ladies!

About an hour later, I had to lay on my tummy to cope with the pork coma that I’m still recovering from.

Worth it.

What would you make if your only requirement was a “Pork” inspired dish?