Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Germany 2012: Wiesbaden

I LOVE Wiesbaden (pronounced VEE-Spa-Den)!  Last year, I stayed in Frankfurt (huge financial city), but this lovely suburban town just outside of the busy city was just my cup of tea.  From the traditional and modern architecture, cute cafes and deliciously decorated restaurants,  to the clean streets and sidewalks, and town squares filled with people speaking in different tongues, everything in this town just made me fall in love.

 I love the town squares in Germany!

Cathedral on a gorgeous, brisk, fall day in October

 Der Andechser Im Ratskeller

This was one of my favorite eating spots for dinner because inside, you just feel like you've been sent back in time to old Germany (not that I would know what old Germany's like). I was told that there are many Ratskellers around in Germany and they are always located in the basement. I dined here two nights in a row  with some colleagues and seriously could not get enough of their huge portions of MEAT! That's one thing they're not stingy about, and to see the abundance of beef, lamb, and pork was just unreal. Oh yeah, and their beer. I actually made the mistake of asking for iced tea and the waiter yelled at me, "Iced tea?! No iced tea here, only water or BEER!" Right, I'll take a beer then. Now on to the amazing Bavarian dishes!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Germany 2011: Frankfurt

Last year was my very first time visiting Germany and what an experience I had!  I stayed in Frankfurt for most of the trip, but did venture out to Heidelberg for a day... but no matter where I was, I was surrounded by beautiful architecture, churches, castles, palaces, and amazing eateries.  I'm actually in Wiesbaden, Germany right now as I type so I thought it would be an appropriate time to post pics of my first visit this time, last year.

All their club sammiches had a fried egg in the middle... NOM!

I loved passing by all the bakeries every morning and seeing all their freshly baked bread.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Special Guest Review: Gordon Ramsay Steak

A few months ago, the dude went to Vegas for his best friend's bachelor party and when he told me that he was taking the boys to Gordon Ramsay's new restaurant, you can imagine how jealous I was! First of all, we were both obsessed with Master Chef (Team Christine!) and watched Hell's Kitchen this season, so for him to go to the famous Chef Ramsay's establishment WITHOUT me was just plain mean. Secondly, the dude could have an opportunity to meet Gordon himself and/or HK's winner! He was living out my dream and every foodie's dream. 

To make it up to me, he promised me an epic review with photos... and he's no doubt a man of his word. Get ready, your eyes will be drooling by the end of this one!

Gordon Ramsay Steak by The Dude
Going to Gordon Ramsay Steak was a happy accident. As we were driving down the strip, I noticed a blatantly conspicuous sign for GR Steak out in front of Paris and I exclaimed, "YES! WE'RE GOING HERE!" Everyone agreed immediately. I called for two days to make a reservation (please note that they don't open until 5pm) and once we got the reservation, we almost missed it. I had to call to push our reservation from 5pm to 10pm. The anticipation of going to Gordon Ramsay Steak was unbearable. Out of the five in the bachelor party, four made it. As corny as it is, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Except for this review, which I felt obligated to share with the world. 

The decor was great, but I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. My one and only focus here is on the Prime Rib.

The dude said if you stood directly underneath this and looked up, you see Ramsay's face.

Hell's Kitchen in real life.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Words from a Crossfit Addict (April 2012)

This might be the only non-food related post that I'll ever post on this blog, but it does explain how I can eat as much as I do. In my last post, I introduced some healthy foods that I eat at home on a regular basis, but failed to mention the other main component to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, mind, and body: EXCERSIZE! While looking through the list of blog posts that was published this year (not many), I came upon an old post (that never saw the light of day) about Crossfit that might interest some who want to start getting into shape and join the fitness world, but don't know where to start or lack the motivation. Crossfit isn't for everyone, but if you are interested, read my story and fitness experience below.

This could be me. Oh wait, this is me!

When I was a kid, I hated exercising. I did not enjoy running or doing sit ups or liked any type of sport that involved sweating profusely. I wasn't an athlete and didn't understand why people liked being so active. So what if I liked to eat a lot and just sit on the couch while watching 5 hours of television? So what if I was skinny or if I was fat? I was happy and fine with not exercising. I thought gym class was a complete waste of time and I dreaded it. I also hated having to change into big t-shirts and shorts. I already looked like a 12 year old boy with long hair, the t-shirt just made me look younger and more like a boy. So if I was too lazy to shave my legs, I would settle for my only pair of sweat pants, even in the summer time. Man, it was a very awkward time for me. Now let's fast forward to after college, shall we? All I have to say is I regret not doing any type of sport. I realize now that I had so much potential if I could have just found it in me to do something that I liked. Could I have played a sport like soccer or field hockey back in high school? Probably not. But there are so many things outside of school that I would have been a fan of.

The first time I lifted 65lbs, I fell in love with the feeling of a barbell in my hands
It's been 6 months since I started crossfit and every time I go into the box, it still feels like the first day. I should really go more than 3-4 times a week, it's now become an addiction. There is a new Workout of the Day (WOD) everyday and it's because of that that makes it so much fun! You feel unstoppable after each WOD, once you've grabbed it by the horns and own it! At the start of every WOD (most of them anyway), I get nervous and start to doubt whether I can finish it or not.
"How long will it take?"
"Is it going to be hard?"
"Am I going to hate this one?"
"What if I just can't finish it? This one might finally break me!"
All these thoughts make my stomach queasy and then I remember all the other times I felt this way. As soon as the clock starts, you give it your all, there's no turning back now. Usually, you're off to a great start, feeling good, no problems at all. Then after a couple minutes, you start to sweat and slow down a bit. It's only been a couple minutes, how can I be slowing down already? Well, in our minds when we're working on anything and trying to be as quick as possible, it feels we've been working for 20 minutes, when in reality, it's been two. Then you start to struggle and for me, I just want to stop, take a break, and hope that I don't have to keep going. My body screams for me to stop, but I can't. I will feel miserable if I just give up without trying to finish. Actually, it's not my body that's telling me to stop, it's that one lazy part of my brain. It tells me that I can't do it and always tries to take the easy way out. Always. It tricks me into thinking that my body is super duper tired and can't keep going anymore. It's just too easy to follow that way of thinking and take a break every second that I can. My body is tough, I know that, but just like everyone else, I treat it like it's so fragile. Now that I know how far I can push it, I don't listen to the lazy mind anymore.

Deadlift: The best lift for your entire body!
Yesterday was a long WOD: running 2.5 miles and deadlifting 55 reps of 95 pounds. It was a WOD that I liked because I don't mind running and deadlifts make me happy. Put them together and I'm set. I was off to a good start on my first lap of 400 meters. Came back and did one deadlift. Then ran again with Andy on my tail and did two deadlifts. The boys finished the deadlifts before me and ran off ahead. That was when I started to feel a bit slow. But there's no such thing as giving up at gym, you keep going and give it all you got. It didn't matter how slow I ran, I just took it one step at a time, one round at a time. It helped a lot that Andy and Tony became my support team after they completed the WOD... they pulled me through the last two rounds no matter how much I wanted to throw in the towel. That's what we do in Crossfit, we support one another like a team. We are always reminded to "check your ego at the front door" before we step into the box because the only person you should be competing with in the gym is yourself! Of course there's no better feeling than at the end of the WOD when you're drenched in sweat and so exhausted you fall to the ground gasping for air knowing it's over. It's just so satisfying to know that you completed something that seemed challenging on the board and then halfway through the WOD, you want to give up, but chipped away at it until it got done! It just goes to show that you can do anything if you set your mind to it, that's one of the things I love about Crossfit.

Deadlift Form: Angry gorilla back + Shoulders in my back pockets
Other things I like about it include:
~Getting stronger with every WOD (Strong is BEAUTIFUL)
~Seeing muscles that you never thought you could have (Beach body 24/7)
~Setting goals and achieving them in the gym
~Personal trainers that watch you so no one gets hurt & give you feedback on how to improve your skills
~Meeting different (& awesome) people & making new friends
~A lot of energy that keeps you going like an Energizer bunny
~Having a support team that pushes you to your max capabilities
~Doing things you never dreamed of or could do at a regular gym (Olympic lifts, muscle ups, handstand pushups)
~Challenging yourself
~Overcoming fear and learning to try before you saying "I can't"
~It's so much fun!!!

Things I personally could live without:
~Expensive but you get what you pay for (see above)
~Sweating like a motherf*cker after just the warm ups (Sweat angels anyone?)
~Waking up feeling like a truck ran you over after a hard workout (Obviously didn't eat enough protein)
~Breakouts on my neck and chest due to sweat (I hate my acne-prone skin)
~Getting attacked by mosquitos/gnats in the summertime (Always remember bug spray if you're outside)
~Butt crack blisters from 1000000000x sit ups

Shout outs to everyone at Torque Athletics for motivating and inspiring me! Big thanks to Julie, Andy, Tony & Greg for being amazing coaches and Mary Jane for introducing me to the Crossfit world! 

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Crossfit in any way and am not getting paid for this blog post. This is not an advertisement or promotion of any sort, just my own words and honest opinions! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

You Are What You Eat

It's true, you really ARE what you EAT!  It's a no brainer really: If you eat healthy, you'll look and feel healthy! Here are some of my favorite dishes that I eat at home on a regular basis:

Steamed Broccoli with Oyster Sauce (pretty much the sexiest veggie out there)

Sauteed Beef and String Beans

Tofu with Scallions & Ginger (So simple, yet so good!)

Steamed Bak Choy (Delicious in noodle soups)

Beef with Tomatoes, Egg & Tofu and side of Leafy Greens on Rice (Never gets old)

Beef with Cauliflower, Onions, Scallions in a Light Sauce

Salmon and Tofu in a Special Sauce (Nom!)

I have been planning to do a YAWYE (You Are What You Eat) series for a while now and talk about different diets for those dealing with acne (been there, done that), those who are sick (down with a cold or flu), those who want to clean up their diet or those who work out and need more protein for their sore muscles... etc.  Now I'm not a dietitian or nutritionist by any means, so I won't have all the answers, but I do like to eat clean and healthy foods. If you couldn't tell from above, I LOVE vegetables! But I still regularly incorporate meats, rice, bread, fruits, nuts, yogurt.. etc. into my diet as well. More to come soon!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Recipe: Quinoa Tabouli

She did it again! MJ made another fantastic meal for dinner and was sweet enough to bring some in for me to try. I love tabouli salad, but never had it with quinoa before (not that I know of anyway). Quinoa is supergrain but actually a seed, contains a perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids, gluten free and usually found in health food markets, not in regular supermarkets, it's special. She used a recipe from and the author includes step by step instructions on how to make super fluffy quinoa!

1 cup fluffy, cooked Quinoa
1/2 cup peeled Cucumbers, chopped
1/2 cup chopped Tomato
1/4 cup chopped Red Onion
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
3 Tbs. chopped Chives
1 cup chopped Parsley
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
Toss all ingredients in a bowl and mix it up! Top it off with some avocados or fresh whole olives (or other superfoods) and you've got one Super Tabouli Salad! Thanks again MJ for sharing!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pretty Special: Pizza by Elizabeths

One beautiful Saturday, sometime ago, the dude and I went on a lunch date at a fancy pizzeria in Greenville, followed by a lovely stroll in the park. Pizza by Elizabeths is a pizza place co-owned by two Elizabeths (creative no?). They keep that theme going by naming their pizzas after famous Elizabeths of all time and decorating their walls with framed black and white photos of Elizabeths we know and love. This was my second time dining here and knowing they had outdoor seating, I wanted to take advantage of the gorgeous sunny weather by eating outside. Well, it didn't go as planned because I forgot there was a ceiling that covered any amount of sunshine there was that day. It was still a very serene atmosphere with a fountain, strings of white outdoor lights decorating the fake trees (at least I think they're fake), but we couldn't eat pizza in the dark.

 Pretty, but too romantic for afternoon pizza

So we ate inside, which is fine too because it's quite pretty inside. The decor was glamour meets vintage and made me feel feminine and happy, so I can look past their overpriced food. They have a rather swanky bar for those who just want to enjoy a nice cocktail. Actually one of the things that struck me the first time I ate here was their beautiful bathrooms! Next time, I will bring a camera in with me just to show people and prove I'm not crazy for saying, "I felt like a princess in there! It's like my dream bathroom." Each stall had a picture of an Elizabeth hanging above the toilet, mine was Shannon Elizabeth. Now I wonder if they do the same for the men's room. The dude refused to check it out since he didn't have to go, but I should have fed him more liquids so he could tell me if he had to pee in front of a beautiful Elizabeth. Next time...

Spinach & Artichoke Dip ($14): Dare I say it's better than Homegrown's?

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