Restaurant Review: Pho Ba Luu – Louisville, KY

IMG_3876Restaurant: Pho Ba Luu – Louisville, Kentucky

Brace yourselves, friends…

I’m finally getting back to restaurant reviews.  I have been so busy as of late that I’ve been skipping these important reviews both locally and when I travel.  And that is stopping…as of now.

I made a promise to be better about updating my blog, and, by God, I’m going to stick to it.

So…I have the pleasure of being friends with some amazing people who just happen to be foodies!  And…they seem to be as excited about trying different places around town as I am.  And that…means LOTS of fun trying out new places with good people who aren’t afraid to be honest and outgoing.

Being a foodie is fun.

While I have my favorite places here in Louisville, some great new places have moved in and opened up.  And one of those places is Pho Ba Luu, in Butchertown.  Pho Ba Luu, as my can probably guess, serves Saigon Street Food.  Think the obvious pho…in addition to rice bowls, banh mi sandwiches, as well as rice bowls.

As I tend to do when I am going to new restaurants, I contacted them to find out if I, being a Celiac and vegetarian, could eat anything there.  Jessica Mach e-mailed me back and let me know exactly what was safe for me.  All the pho bowls, by the way, are gluten free.  Just don’t get the hoisin sauce.  The spring rolls are also safe…and they offer gluten-free soy sauce as well.  The staff was INCREDIBLY knowledgeable too after we visited and placed our order.  So…bit shout-out for those, who like me, have food allergies and intolerances and need a little extra care at restaurants.IMG_3875

So…four foodies drove into Butchertown specifically for some Vietnamese food.  And, let me tell you, there were some high standards to be met.  Paul is actually part Vietnamese and his wife, Melissa and he actually have had street food in Vietnam.  They actually ordered first.  Paul got the Chicken Pho ($10) and Chicken Spring Rolls ($5) for his dinner.  Melissa ordered the Chicken Pho ($10…because it doesn’t change…LOL!) and the Shrimp Spring Rolls ($5).  They each also ordered the Iced Vietnamese Coffee ($5), which I want to try next time because it looked AMAZING!  It’s happening.

Cathy (that’s the roomie, in case you are new to the blog or have forgotten during my hiatus on reviews) decided to go all meaty and gluten-y since she doesn’t get that at home.  She ordered the Beef Pho ($11) with the Seafood & Pork Crispy Rolls ($6).  I may get asked…maybe not…but in case…the Seafood & Pork Crispy Rolls were crispy rolls stuffed with shrimp, pork, crabmeat, onion and vegetables and is served with a fish sauce.  So that’s for all of you non-vegetarian/vegan gluten eaters out there!  She’s got your back!

As for me…I ordered the Vegetarian Pho ($10) with the Vegetarian Spring Rolls ($5).  The spring rolls are normally served with a Plum Sauce, but as I noted gluten-free at the order, they brought me gluten free soy sauce instead.

Let me say this…the four of us are already discussing going back next Friday to celebrate Tet (the Vietnamese New Year) this coming week.  Not. Even. Joking.

Because when it comes to good food…I don’t make those kinds of jokes.

IMG_3877

Pho Ba Luu Vegetarian Spring Rolls

So…here’s the run-down from what I was devouring last night.  I’ll start with the spring rolls.  The Vegetarian Spring Rolls are basic fried tofu with sauteed vegetables and glass noodles wrapped in rice paper.  They looked fantastic.  They tasted phenomenal.  The gluten-free soy sauce was the perfect touch.  I love spring rolls as it is…these were some of the best I have had.  And that’s no exaggeration.  They are simple…but they bring the flavor and the textures just all worked.

IMG_3874

Pho Ba Luu Vegetarian Pho

But, of course , the star of the Vietnamese Food scene last night…was the Pho!!  First of all…the bowls are pretty big and we all had another meal’s worth left over after dining last night.  No joke.  Hey…it meant we had lunch today.  So…be aware that there is a LOT of volume in these bowls.  The Vegetarian Pho has sauteed tofu and vegetables in a vegetable broth.  You get a little baggie of all the add-in goodies…like bean sprouts, jalapenos, and the like.  I poured them all in.  I added a good helping of Sriracha.  And once I was done with my Spring Rolls…in went the remaining gluten-free soy sauce.

FLAVOR!!  That’s all I can say.  The broth had amazing flavor as it was.  The tofu and vegeatlbes…they brought extra goodness to the party.  The carrots still had some crisp to them. The tofu was savory and soft and just…done to perfection.  The add-ins brought a little more spice…a little more texture…a little more yumminess to an already yummy situation.  I was in love and I managed to not splash myself with anything as I ate the noodles with chopsticks and slurped up that broth with the spoon.

IMG_3873

Pho Ba Luu Beef Pho

This gluten-free vegetarian loved every bit of the meal last night.  And I think my partners in street food would agree.  Cathy loved the Beef Pho and her Crispy Spring Rolls. While she does like spring rolls, she LOVED the crispy rolls.  I think she will never NOT get those.  The beef finished up cooking in the hot broth when it was delivered to the table and after she sorted out the jalapenos to both Paul and I from her bag of goodies…she was all in.  And loving in!

IMG_3872

Pho Ba Luu Chicken Pho and Shrimp Spring Rolls

And my Chicken Pho eaters…they were quite content with their bowls too.  They seriously raved about the flavor and I believe they even said it came very close to the street food they had in Vietnam.  So…there it is.  OH…and Melissa highly recommends the Iced Vietnamese Coffee.  She got two of them last night if that tells you anything!!  The Chicken Spring Rolls & Shrimp Spring Rolls disappeared as quickly as my Vegetarian ones.

Any way you slice it…we loved everything we ate here.

Pho sho!

Yeah…I went there.  I can’t help myself sometimes!!

So…anytime I get to eat a big bowl of pho without having any reaction to it because everyone who works there made sure my food was safe and perfect…gets many return visits from me.  I can’t wait to go back.

And…for the record…they have a Gluten Free Apple Pie ($6)…that we were all too full to try…but we may have to get it next time and split it among us.  Because…dessert is very important to me.

Special shout-out again to Jessica Mach for answering my e-mails when I inquired and helping me navigate the menu without any trouble at all.

If you are in the Louisville area or are coming to Louisville, Kentucky, and love or want to try Vietnamese food…I can’t speak highly enough of Pho Ba Luu.  People with food allergies…welcome…and taken care of.  I call that winning!

See you next week!

sailormooneats

Advertisements

Recipe: Anti-Inflammatory Stir Fry Bowl

So…two weeks ago I was in California.  I was taking in the Los Angeles area…I was doing the whole Disney thing…I was running a 10K and Half Marathon injured…I was fighting aches and pains the rest of the time.

On our last full day in California, my roomie and I got into our rental car after saying good-bye to our friend Tanya, and took a long drive down to San Diego.  What was in San Diego?  Apollo 9.  Duh!

And a taco stand that my roommate fell in love with in 2015, when we stayed in San Diego for one night en route to Hawaii for a marathon I was unable to run (due to a stress fracture to my leg three (3) days before).  She was eager to return…maybe try something else…maybe redo the tacos that she fell so in love with.  But…there was nothing safe for me there…so she scouted out a Thai food place just around the corner.  They had an amazing gluten-free menu (almost everything)…but with my body hating me after I put it pushed it through races being held together with KT Tape and ACE Bandages, the Anti-Inflammatory Stir Fry Bowl really caught my eye.

It was simple…yet delicious.  Broccoli & shitake mushrooms stir-fried in a warming seasoning paste made with peppercorns and turmeric.  It was served over Thai red rice.  And it was amazing.  It was a HUGE order…but I ate it all.  And I felt good about it.  And I kept talking about that meal…so I knew there was something to it.

And so…when I got back home, I set out to recreate it.  It wasn’t perfect, but it sure was delicious.  And as I had some riced cauliflower on hand…instead of cooking up some brown rice…I gave it a go.

Recipe: Anti-Inflammatory Stir Fry Bowl

15995272_10100193941937701_3064135310889359941_oServes 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets (or one bag of cauliflower rice)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces broccoli florets
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

Directions:

**Chop head of cauliflower into florets and place in food processor. Pulse until it starts to resemble rice; set aside.

**NOTE: If you want a less-mess, no maintenance way of doing this, go to Trader Joes, Kroger, Target, or pretty much ANY grocery store these days and they have bags of already riced cauliflower in their produce section and even in the freezer section.  I do this…because food processors are a pain to clean!  So, skip the first step if you cheat and get the already riced cauliflower.

Line a large skillet with 1/4 cup water and add cauliflower rice.  Cook until softened.

Line a skillet with 1/4 cup water and add ginger paste and garlic.  Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add in mushrooms and broccoli.  Cook until the broccoli has turned bright green and the mushrooms have softened.

Add turmeric and black pepper.  Stir until everything is well coated.

Place half of the cooked cauliflower rice in each bowl.  Top with the broccoli and mushrooms.

ENJOY!

~*~*~

One great thing about this dish, all the seasoning means no salt needs to be added.  The dish is amazingly filling and so good.  The turmeric and black pepper are the perfect anti-inflammatory blend.  I intend to make this dish more often.  It’s simple…yet…so flavorful!  Don’t miss this one!

Recipe: Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

I won’t lie…I’m a carb-a-holic.  Is that really a thing?  Is that a word? Doesn’t matter.  Carbs make me happy.  Gluten-free bread, pasta, donuts, muffins, potatoes, rice…you name it…I love to eat it.

That being said, I’m doing a slight bit of overhauling to my diet this year…aiming to cut back on all those processed carbs (like…bread, pasta, donuts, muffins, etc) and try to replace them with real food…healthier choices…and something that will nourish my body more.

Before I was diagnosed with Celiac…I may have lived at the Chinese buffet at least 2 times a month.  I love Chinese food.  I always have.  But, most of it is not even an option for me these days, unless I make it.  I’m Irish…not Chinese.  My Chinese food is never as amazing as when…you know…someone who is Chinese makes it.

That being said, I’ve been craving as of late…and I finally decided to cave and give into it.  And I got out my skillet on Sunday afternoon and whipped up a healthier version of fried rice, replacing the rice with riced cauliflower.  The recipe is below:

Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

Cauliflower Fried

Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets (or one bag of cauliflower rice)
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup carrots, cubed
2 eggs, beaten (if making vegan, sub in tofu or just leave out)
¼ cup low sodium tamari
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
⅛ tsp. ground ginger
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp green onions, chopped (optional garnish)


Directions:

**Chop head of cauliflower into florets and place in food processor. Pulse until it starts to resemble rice; set aside.

**NOTE: If you want a less-mess, no maintenance way of doing this, go to Trader Joes, Kroger, Target, or pretty much ANY grocery store these days and they have bags of already riced cauliflower in their produce section and even in the freezer section.  I do this…because food processors are a pain to clean!  So, skip the first step if you cheat and get the already riced cauliflower.  At the end when you add it in with the sauce, cook it until it has softened.
 

Heat a large wok (or skillet) over medium heat and add 1/4 cup water. Add onion, peas and carrots and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. (Add more water as needed to prevent veggies from sticking).Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and red pepper flakes; set aside.

Slide veggie mixture to one side of the wok and add in the beaten eggs (or tofu…or skip this step if you opted to go without the protein), scrambling until cooked through and then incorporate with the veggies.

Stir in cauliflower “rice” and pour the sauce over top, mixing well. Cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, until cauliflower is soft and tender.

Top with green onions, serve and enjoy!

~*~*~

Simple, easy…and yes…super delicious!!  Oh…and only 220 calories per serving!  You can’t beat that, right?  Highly recommended to your Chinese food lovers if you’re looking for a healthier alternative!!  Or maybe you just want to try something new!

Either way, it’s an easy recipe with little to do but stir away!!  So…no excuses, friends.  Get rockin’ that wok!

Recipe: Cauliflower Rice Pad Thai

So, my roommate and I are making a few more dietary changes this year and so far it’s not been too hard to stick to.  I mean, there are days that are completely off the plan (Hello, Soft Pretzel Wednesday!)…but that’s okay.  This isn’t about perfection, it’s just about progress!

We are working on cutting down on added sugars and processed carbs.  This is not to say that we are never going to eat gluten-free pasta or use rice in dishes ever again.  And this is not to say that dessert is off the table.  I did, however, very proudly, get rid of the stash of chocolate in my office drawer.  I reached for those M&Ms one too many times while stressed out…so they are gone…and not coming back in.

Normally I have a pretty set meal plan going into the weekend, but for some reason, this past week got away from me and I just…didn’t get to it.  Not going to sugar-coat it.  SO…I decided to prep some different things and just attempt to make something a little bit healthier.

One of my favorite types of food (second to Indian) is Thai.  I love Thai food, and Thai food is so easy to make gluten free.  That being said…I didn’t have pad thai noodles on hand and I’m on a tight budget after my trip to California (like…it’s non-existent, to be honest)…so I only wanted to have to grocery shop for the essentials.  I needed filling, healthy meals on the fly…so I bought Trader Joes and Kroger out of their bags of riced cauliflower.

That is not an exaggeration.

And from it emerged 3 dishes made with riced cauliflower (not counting the ones I did earlier in the week, which I should put up in the blog…so if I get time, I will. I promise.  They’re delicious).  But this week…I was most excited about my take on pad thai…using…riced cauliflower instead of noodles.  This dish is SUPER easy to make…so I encourage you to do so!

Recipe: Cauliflower Rice Pad Thai

 

16143672_10100196817525001_694318356173316810_o

Cauliflower Rice Pad Thai

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower (or one bag of cauliflower rice)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 yellow onion, chopped
  • 12 oz bag frozen stir-fry vegetables
  • 1/4 cup lightly salted peanuts


Ingredients of the Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low-sodium Tamari
  • 3 tablespoon seasoned white vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon lime juice


Directions:

**Rice your head of cauliflower by chopping the florets roughly and adding them to your food processor.  Pulse the cauliflower until it resembles rice.  Then heat it up in the microwave for 7 minutes, stopping to stir it once halfway through.

**NOTE: If you want a less-mess, no maintenance way of doing this, go to Trader Joes, Kroger, Target, or pretty much ANY grocery store these days and they have bags of already riced cauliflower in their produce section and even in the freezer section.  I do this…because food processors are a pain to clean!  So, skip the first step if you cheat and get the already riced cauliflower.  At the end when you add it in with the sauce, cook it until it has softened.

Line a large skillet with a thin layer of water.

Add the garlic and onions tot he pan.  Cook for approximately 3 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften.  Add additional water, if necessary.

Add the frozen vegetables to the pan.  Cover the vegetables and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until everything is heated through.  Once again, add additional water to keep things from sticking.

***While the vegetables are cooking, whisk the sauce together in a medium bowl.

***NOTE: If you aren’t feeling frisky, both San-J and Annie Chun make FANTASTIC peanut/pad thai sauces that are gluten free.  So…if making the sauce seems like too much work, just use the bottled stuff.

Once the vegetables are cooked through, add the cauliflower “rice” and peanut sauce to the pan.  Stir until well-combined.  If using bagged cauliflower rice, cook until cauliflower has softened, about 5 minutes.

Dish servings into bowls and garnish with peanuts.

ENJOY!

~*~*~

I wasn’t sure how I’d appreciate the change from actual pad thai noodles to using riced cauliflower, but it worked.  This dish was amazing.  And it’s dinner again tonight. And that’s always something to look forward to!

 

A Hard Run Week

It was about…Wednesday afternoon…and I’m sitting at work…working (because, what else are you doing at work?)…and all of a sudden I just start to feel…meh.  Welcome to the Ohio River Valley.  The area of the country where air quality is horrible in the spring and allergies have me all…

giphy (2)

Yeah…SUCK!

So, from Thursday on…the struggle has been real.  I’ve gone from feeling really good to…meh…back to good all in a matter of an hour.  But, this too shall pass, and yes…I will survive.

1.  Bondi Band Compression Socks

13317058_10100110545040751_9139743058863669137_o

On Tuesday, my Bondi Band Compression Socks arrived in the mail.  All of the #BondiBandAmbassadors got a pair to test drive.  I decided to wear mine out to hill repeats.  Yep…hill repeats are back in my life…and they still suck.  Why am I doing hill repeats?  Have you seen the elevation chart to the marathon I’m running in September.  They say to train according to your race.  My race has HILLS FOR DAYS.  I’m struggling with these.  It seems I just can’t get the power on the uphills that I used to get.  I hope, in time, this will change.  But, it’s aggravating and frustrating when you’re one of the first people to head up a hill and get passed up by every one on the way to the top.  Stupid hip.

Anyway…the point of this tale was to say, the Bondi Band Compression Socks (and they do sleeves) are comfortable and nice.  And they come in fun patterns.  I was secretly hoping for argyle, but I was sent the pirate ones.  As I was born on National Talk Like A Pirate Day…this will do.  Head over to Bondi Band‘s Web site and check them out.  If you place an order, please feel free to use my discount code to get 10% off your purchase.  When you checkout, use CELIATHLETE.


2.  Meal Prep

13340088_10100111547142531_1283244519714726724_o

Yesterday, I felt like a total rockstar.  I got up…and muddled through a 14 mile solo run around my town because the usual suspects I run with were all doing the Barn Yard Dash up at Hubers.  They were also winning ALL THE AWARDS!  That being said…I had planned to do 16 miles in Frankfort with two amazing runners that my coach, Linda Word, also coaches.  I had to cancel due to feeling like death in a pollen-infused bubble.  MEH.  So, I went out on my own, early, and got it done…before 8 am.  Afterwards, I went to get coffee, breakfast, hit up the Farmers Market, do the rest of the grocery shopping, and then…I got into my kitchen and made ALL THE MEALS for this week.  ALL THE MEALS.  They are done and in the fridge…ready to go.  Seriously.  And this was all accomplished before 4:30 p.m.  I think all the cooking and prep only took 2.5 hours at most.  I’m getting the hang of this meal prep thing, I think!  This also means that I have my entire Sunday to do whatever I want, instead of stressing out over making all the meals for the week, which is my usual Sunday panic/freak-out.  YAY!

3.  Future Sister Time

Karla & Landon at the Birmingham Color Run on May 28

Karla & Landon at the Birmingham Color Run on May 28

Nothing will brighten my day more than a text or call from my sister.  Especially when said contact means she is planning a trip up this way.  This time, she’s aiming at bringing Landon up with her.  Now, Landon is a bit of a soccer star there in Alabama, so I thought, if it worked with the schedule, doing a Louisville City FC match with them.  I would, because I am an awesome auntie, spoil Landon rotten and get him a scarf or shirt or whatever he wanted.  And food.  And the match.  I love seeing my sister and spending time with her and her kiddliewinks.  I am SO excited. Now she just needs to dial in on a weekend. I can’t wait to spend some time with her. It’s never long enough, but it is better than nothing.

4.  Runner Girl

13323314_10100111766418101_708901333009262893_oDean, one of the numerous friendships that I have made in the local running community here in Louisville, is quite the craftsman.  He has gifted many a female runner with these amazing wooden Runner Girl’s that he makes himself.  I was on the receiving end of one today at the Breakfast Club run (where I did 2 more miles than I thought I was going to do…quicker than I intended).  She is hanging proudly off the rearview mirror of my car.  Super special.  This little gift meant a lot to me, for real.  It’s the little things in life that mean the most to me.  This was one of them.  So, thank you, Dean, for this little token.  It lifted my spirits after a hard week…and totally just makes my car look complete!  I display her proudly!

5.  The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of Warm Weather

I won’t lie.  I would much rather sweat it out and fight through hot weather than step outside and run in cold weather.  Warm weather is my friend and I love being out in it.  But humidity…humidity and I don’t even talk.  I can gut anything out in the heat, but add that sweltering, stifling humidity to it and I’m all…

giphy (3)Couple that with the allergy issues I mentioned above, and every run has just felt…so much harder.  You know, it’s summer.  And the past 2 summers I’ve pretty much sat out thanks to injury after injury after injury…and I have been wanting to gut out another summer of running.  I’m weird…the heat doesn’t bother me much.  I can go out in any dry (not humid) heat and rock a run that when I finish I’m all…

giphy (4)…but this week has just been humid.  And my 14 mile solo run was not what I had expected nor wanted on Saturday.  But I got it done…pain-free.  So…if I have to conquer allergies and humidity all over again for the first time since 2013…I will.  I can do this.  And I’ll smile, even after a disappointing run…

13316914_10100111431928421_5846687544006279791_oAny day I am able to run without pain is a good day.  Even when the run is anything but good.  I’m thankful and blessed for each day I am able to do what I haven’t been able to do for far too long.

So, remember, bad runs happen.  Keep smiling.

6.  Stress Relief

giphy (5)This past Wednesday was National Running Day!  YAY, RUNNERS!!  And running has been quite the stress reliever for me.  However, given the amount of time I had been forced to take off due to all the injuries…sometimes where activity was very limited, I lost a lot of my good habits I started to embrace back in 2013.  And I have been really starting to get mad at myself for stress eating and just eating out of boredom.  That being said, instead of doing the organized 4 mile group run for National Running Day (it’s okay…I dedicated 6 miles that morning to 2 friends who currently are injured and can’t run) on Wednesday, I was meeting with my sports nutritionist and she and I are focusing on a plan to break me of bad habits and what I do when I do get stressed out.  I am already feeling a bit better about things and am working to do a few other things, nutrition-wise, that will help me in the long run (ha…punny).  Stress is no joke…and it affects everyone differently.  It puts me in a dark, unhappy place and I’m not happy there.  Time to get out of it.  I’m sure there will be days I fail…because I’m human…but I’m being proactive before this becomes more difficult and harder to fix.

What struggles have you been dealing with lately?  How do you break yourself of bad habits?  Did you do something for National Running Day?

Summer’s here…let’s get this party started!

Things happen in threes…

Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about something else going wrong with me.  Quite the opposite.  This is a post about how I am  finally feeling like myself again.  I am regaining confidence.  I’m working hard to regain any lost momentum and strength and fitness that I have lost over the past year of being unable to run.

This week started off with me still dealing with the aches and pains in my left quad (aka: the leg that doesn’t have the torn hip labrum) which just got me all worked up all over again.  I contacted Katie (my physical therapist) on Tuesday prior to running some hill repeats to get her thoughts on it.  I didn’t hear back from her before I went running, but she managed to work me in on Thursday afternoon to take a look at the quad.  We discussed cutting back on my mileage…just in case.

That being said, as I mentioned in a previous blog…it seems to just be a muscle strain, and it doesn’t bother me while I’m running.  Sometimes when I am warming up…and cooling down…but not during the actual act of running.  I purchased a (pink) lacrosse ball this weekend to help give some trigger point therapy to the spot and so far so good.

Despite all of that, I had a horrible treadmill run on Wednesday…rain.  LOTS of rain.  So, after that, I made it a point to get outside on Thursday for my 4 miles that morning.  It wasn’t easy…but it was SO much better than the treadmill.  And I don’t hurt like I do after running on a treadmill…so there is some helpful insight.

And so…with a bit of stress at work…a couple of good and bad running days…and lots of good food (that I cooked)…it was a pretty good week.  And with that being said…here are three things I’m loving this week:

1. Running With the Gang

IMG_20160223_191025[1]

Me and Matthew after Tuesday Hill Repeats at Iroquois Park

So, there is this amazing group of fantastic runners that I used to go out and pound out some miles with…every Saturday.  They were my training group.  They pushed me, they made me better, they accepted me.  I trained with them through cold winters and hot summers.  They helped me through injuries and helped me with each comeback.  Well, with a year of being mostly unable to run, I wasn’t up to running with them.  My speed is lacking and I just don’t feel fit enough to keep up.  BUT…that being said, on Tuesday, I ran 6 miles of hill repeats with Matthew (who trained hard with me the summer I was working toward my first marathon)…and on Saturday, I ran 10 amazing miles with most of the group.  It felt awesome to be out there again, clicking off the miles.  At one point, we even joined up with the Anthem 5K, relatively close to the leaders of the race.  And as we ran through Mile 2 with them, we all commented on how this is what it felt like to be up front.  We left the course shortly after that to round off the mileage.  I can’t even begin to describe how good it felt to be out there with all of them again.  I had really missed it and them.  And Matthew has told me a few times that he and everyone else are so happy that I am back.  Over 10 very strong miles later…I feel like my comeback is officially a comeback.  Add on the 2 fantastic miles I added in this afternoon (it was SO windy, but it was too pretty not to go out and run…so I kept it short and easy)…and my confidence might slowly be building too.  I owe a lot of that to all the people who have continued to tell me to be careful, to do what is best for me, to not rush anything…and who have been waiting for me to come back to them. Arms open.  I’m back!


2. THIS BOOK!
IMG_20160226_160700[1]
I am a bookworm.  And I love it when I’m walking through a bookstore or a library and a title or subject catches my eye.  That actually happened on Friday.  The book is Fit Not Healthy by Vanessa Alford, a true and personal account of the author’s downward spiral in an attempt to improve her performance in running, pushing her body harder and further, determined to be the best runner she can be.  Even though she was a physiotherapist, she soon becomes trapped in a spiral of extreme dieting and exercise in order to improve her performance and maintain her ‘fit and healthy’ look.  She ignored the growing concerns of friends and family, denying that there was anything unhealthy about her fitness training, until her body begins to rebel against her.  She was offered a commercial sponsorship and attracted the attentions of elite coaches, but striving to become faster and fitter, she fell into the trap of overexercising and calorie deprivation.  I have known and still know so many runners (and athletes) who do not fuel their body right…who take stupid risks with their helps because they are trying to fit into their idea of the “perfect” body, the “perfect” weight, the “perfect” athlete.  Denial is a demon that is hard to defeat.  This book has had me turning page after page.  The disordered thinking, eating, and exercising that Alford did is not only scary…but an eye opener.  My dearest friends…we are all beautiful works in progress.  DO NOT try to better yourself by taking risks with your body.  It will and does catch up to you!  Take care of your body…it’s the only place you have to live.

3. SHOPPING!!
accessorize
There really is something so therapeutic about shopping.  Retail therapy is real and it is life-changing.  This weekend, along with getting some upcoming birthday shopping done, my roommate and I both invested a little bit…in ourselves.  I purchased some reflective gear (capris and a matching top) for running, as well as a pair of Adidas Grete Shorts.  I usually am a running skirt girl, but I LOVE these shorts.  And I got them for $10 at the Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass.  I picked up shampoo bar and body wash from LUSH (LOVE LUSH!), and I picked up good eats at Annie May’s Sweet Café, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, Rice, Cellar Door Chocolates, and of course, the food of my own making…including getting some batch cooking done for this week.  All my meals are prepped and ready.  And it didn’t take long at all.  NICE!  AND…I also have indulged in some delicious berries and peaches this weekend too.  LOVE my fruit for a snack.  And some of my favorites are close to being back in season!!

All-in-all…what a fantastic weekend.  And now…I’m working on some upcoming goals and plans…and feeling good.  I haven’t been able to say that in a long time.

How did you spend your weekend?  Do anything fun?  Eat anything delicious?  Read anything amazing?  Tell me all about it!

Product Review: Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Vegetable Fried Brown Rice

20160223_165930[1]

Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Vegetable Fried Brown Rice

Product: Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Vegetable Fried Brown Rice – $6.99+

Once again, I have Raisin Rack in Columbus, Ohio, to thank for introducing me to some amazing gluten-free goodness.  It was on one of my numerous trips to Columbus to visit my friend Jenn that we made our (now) official stop in at the natural food store.  The budget was small this time thanks to holiday (and doctor) bills, but I was able to stock up on a few things of interest.

One of said items was from Feel Good Foods, makers of gluten free eggrolls and dumplings.  Apparently, they now make actual microwaveable meals.  I didn’t know this, and I keep really up-to-date on the new products out there, especially from companies and brands that I love.  I spotted the one vegetarian option (the fried rice mentioned above) and picked out the General Tso’s Chicken for my roommate…and it was game on.  Purchased.  It made the budget cut for sure.

Feel Good Foods has the slogan: Don’t worry. Eat happy.  And, with the promise of having no added MSG, no preservatives, and no artificial flavors, I was already feeling good about my purchase.  Creators, Tryg and Vanessa met at a restaurant where he was the chef and she was working.  When he discovered that she couldn’t have the staff-created meals, he began creating gluten-free versions of the dish.  They created Feel Good Foods gluten-free frozen foods after they opened a gluten-free restaurant and were told that they needed to put their food out on the market.  Their foods are non-GMO, all-natural and completely gluten-free.  You see…Vanessa is a Celiac…so they take food allergies really seriously.

Well, these meals were in our freezer for a few weeks, because I figured they would be a perfect “need a quick dinner” meal for busy nights…something we’ve finally been having more of these days.  Because…running.  Well, Tuesday nights are my hill repeat nights, and this happens in Louisville…at 6 pm.  So, after working until 4:30, I literally have time to come home, throw on some running clothes, warm something up, down it, and get over the river to the event.  The past couple of weeks, due to weather, I’ve hit the treadmill due to cancellations and/or…me not wanting to be out in the elements.  But…yesterday…despite some apprehension (got some niggling pain in the hips), I decided I was going to go and at least attempt to tackle the hills.

So, this meant the frozen meals have to come out.  And so…without any further adieu…out came the Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Vegetable Fried Brown Rice (and my roommate’s General Tso’s Chicken, too!) for a quick heat and eat.

The Feel Good Foods Vegetable Fried Brown Rice is super easy to prepare.  Simply open the box and remove the little bowl.  Cut a 1-inch slit into the plastic overwrap.  Place in the microwave and cook on high for about 3-4 minutes.  Let it sit for one (1) minute.  Then remove the overwrap, stir, and devour.  Simple…

…and delicious.  In fact, it turns out that this particular fried rice dish is one of Chef Tryg’s favorites.  Feel Good Foods Vegetable Fried Brown Rice highlights the amazing flavors of the leeks and ginger.  Also…I love that brown rice is used instead of rice, not just for flavor, but health reasons too.  Let’s face it, brown rice is better.  Any…freakin’…day!  As for this meal, in general…it definitely is a frozen dinner, but leaps and bounds above your average frozen meal.  Made with real ingredients and seasoned to perfection.  I didn’t have to add a thing to this (not even Yum Yum Sauce).  And I devoured it.  I think my favorite thing that was in there were the waterchesnuts.  Nice texture.  The entire meal had a variety of flavors and textures going.  The vegetables were steamed to perfection, the brown rice wasn’t dry…and, as I said, seasoning was spot on.  Plus, this was a nice way to fuel up before taking on 6 miles of hills.  It was gone in record time.

So, let’s discuss what goes into the Feel Good Foods Vegetable Fried Brown Rice, shall we.  This meal is made from brown rice (water, rice, expeller-pressed canola oil), leeks, carrots, green peas, gluten-free soy sauce (water, soybeans, salt), expeller-pressed canola oil, ginger, eggs (whole eggs, citric acid, water), waterchesnuts, garlic, scallions, sesame oil, salt, and spices.

As far as nutrition goes, I was impressed with the nutritional facts that came with the Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Vegetable Fried Brown Rice.  A serving size is 1 package (255 grams), and there is one (1) serving per container.  One serving will provide you with 350 calories, 18 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 490 mg sodium, 40 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 5 grams sugars, and 7 grams protein.  It is gluten-free, vegetarian, and made using minimally processed, non-artificial ingredients.

Thanks to Tryg and Vanessa, someone like me, who usually has to bypass the Chinese Food, can start to enjoy it again.  While I am not big on consuming frozen dishes, these sure did come in handy for a busy weeknight.  Quick and easy to prepare…and just as quick and easy to eat.  You’ll love the flavor.  For the record, my roommate truly enjoyed her General Tso’s Chicken, saying it wasn’t too spicy or anything.  So…there is that.

I know Whole Foods carries Feel Good Foods products…so next time I’m there, I might have to contemplate picking up another box of this…for another busy night in my future.  I encourage you to do the same.