Birthday Tacos!

Hi eaters!

How did Monday treat you?

Mine was less than stellar, but I’ve risen above. A glass of wine and an hour spent planning my next couponing trip (it’s almost Super Double Week at Harris Teeter!) sure helped me rise above.

Also, I’m still glowing from a really nice birthday weekend.

I would love to tell you all about putt putt and my birthday wound and my pretty friends and beers at Natty Greene’s and reading for pleasure (I’m currently reading Dreaming in French, by Alice Kaplan and I loveloveLOVE that I have time for pleasure reading now!) and all the other fun things. But other than dinner, I only have pictures of my birthday wound and my birthday donut.

Car selfie in the parking lot at work.

Car selfie in the parking lot at work.

That little bump in the middle of my chest is where I got stabbed by my sunglasses. They're surprisingly sharp and it bled a surprising amount.

That little bump in the middle of my chest is where I got stabbed by my sunglasses. They’re surprisingly sharp and it bled a surprising amount.

 

And then there was dinner.

For dinner, my friends Peach and Janet came over and we went downtown to Crafted. If you remember, I went there for the first time over Christmas.

Well, it’s gotten a lot more popular since then, so there was an hour wait when we got there at 7pm. And while I’m normally not one to wait that long, I was in no hurry and Natty Greene’s was within walking distance, so we put our name in and went down the block to grab a beer.

After just over an hour we were seated and it was ah-maze-ing!

Nachos!

Nachos!

We split the Dirty South Nachos, which were housemade sweet potato fries topped with pulled pork and some kind of cheesy cream sauce.

Janet likes to be creepy in the background of my pictures.

Janet likes to be creepy in the background of my pictures.

For my entrée, I went with the Fixie, which was beef brisket, pineapple, sweet chili sauce, and coconut aioli.

O’m’gah, so freaking good. The pineapple and the sweet chili sauce was a bit much on the sweetness, and I could always do with a little more spice, but it was still a delicious little combo.

22 birthday5

Everyone else raved about their tacos, which was nice because we’re typically a $1 taco crowd.

Next time, though, I’m definitely getting the stuffed avocado appetizer. Something about avocado, chorizo, and queso together with tortilla chips sounds like straight up mouth sex.

And that’s all I’ve got.

What about you, eaters:

Do you like big, raging parties or small gatherings for your birthday?

Do you like more sweet or spicy?

Later eaters!

Crossfit-iversary

Helloooooo eaters!

It’s Thursday night, I had a full (and fun!) day of work, and I’ve had a beer. So things are going pretty well for me right now.

I’m choosing to ignore the fact that my bad back/twisted pelvis is flaring up again and that I had to completely scale the workout today at Crossfit. I’m also choosing not to think about how many dishes I have to do (and dirty laundry I have to pack) before Leon, Charlie, and I leave tomorrow for a weekend in Georgia (A.K.A. The Dirty Dirty). I’m also choosing not to think about how much my back is going to hurt tomorrow.

Instead I’m thinking about how delicious tonight’s leftovers will be for dinner tomorrow, how much I saved at the grocery store thanks to my coupon folder, and…the biggest “and” of them all…that today was marked my first full year of doing Crossfit!

Can you believe that a year ago I went in for my intro session? Heck, can you believe how much has happened in a year?

I sure as hell can’t!

But, anyway, I made a little vlog about my thoughts on Crossfit a year in.

Enjoy.

For those of you that can’t listen because you’re at work/kids are sleeping or you just got tired of my rambling voice, here’s the gist of it:

I’ve got ah-maze-ing muscles. Muscles I didn’t know I could have. Muscles that are firm and sculpted and just plain beautiful.

I’ve dropped a couple of pant sizes without really trying.

I’ve got more body confidence than I know what to do with and spend a lot of time checking myself out in the mirror.

Knowing that there’s no quitting in Crossfit — there’s plenty of almost quitting and occasionally some crying, but there’s no quitting — has made me an immensely stronger person, both mentally and physically.

I’m neither fully paleo nor fully Zone, but food is more fuel than anything else now.

My goals for the next year: 110 lbs front squat, 110 lbs floor press, all rope climbs (no scaling) in workouts, 100 lbs clean and jerk, better at toes-thru-rings, consecutive double-unders, and handstand pushups.

Talk about a lot of goals, right?

I’m confident that I can reach them all sooner rather than later. I mean, I’ve accomplished far more in this year.

So…here’s to next year! (Imagine me holding up a glass. I would have done it in my video, but I shot that at 10am, which is a bit too early to start drinking.)

Your turn, eaters:

What are you proud of from the last year?

What do you hope to accomplish by this time next year?

Later eaters!

Cowfish and Dropkick

Hellooooo eaters!

Boy, have I got a great night to tell you about.

Last night Leon and I had tickets to a Dropkick Murphys show in Charlotte. Leon introduced me to Dropkick when we were first dating so I was jazzed to finally get to see them with him.

Also, there’s a chance Leon and I are moving to Charlotte at the end of the summer so we were jazzed (correction: I was jazzed, Leon was excited) to spend a little time in our prospective future home.

First stop: dinner!

I had heard about Cowfish from Caitlyn’s blog forever ago and I’ve wanted to go ever since.

Come on, it’s a restaurant that serves burgers, sushi, and burgushi. How could that not be awesome?!

Well, it was!

To start we split a spider crab roll.charlotte nc1

I haven’t had sushi in more than a hot minute and this was pretty good. I could have gone for a little less rice and a little more tempura, but who couldn’t all the time, so it was fine.

To eat I took the waiter’s suggestion and went with one of their bento boxes.charlotte nc3

This came with a double stack of the featured mini burger (which had pimento cheese and some kind of peppers), Thai cucumbers, sweet potato fries, edemame, and a blackened tuna roll.

A massive mini burger.

A massive mini burger.

Can we talk about this blackened tuna roll?

It.Was.Stellar!

It was like this awesome, creamy orgasm in my mouth.

(Let’s not talk about how awkwardly sexual that was, okay? Okay.)

Also, those cucumbers were oddly perfect. It was like your traditional vinegar cucumber salad, but it had this sweetness that kept the vinegar from being overpowering. They were pretty magical.

Leon got the Stringin’ the Blues burger.charlotte nc4

It was massive and awesome. The blue cheese was really balanced (and I don’t like blue cheese), but it could have used a slice of bacon to even out the flavors.

Oh also, Cowfish is in South Park mall and I really kinda want to live there. It’s fancy.

After dinner (and getting a little lost) we ran through the rain and made it to the Filmore.

The venue was pretty great with big crystal chandeliers all over the place and not too big.

Oh, and a women took off her pants (and maybe her underwear) in the ladies room. That’s fun, right?

Dropkick took the stage at 10 sharp and they were great.charlotte nc6

They played a really nice balance of their old favorites and stuff off their new CD and I only had to kick one guy in the knee (because he elbowed me in the boobs, asshole).

And when they played “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced,” which is when they let ladies come on stage, I did not get on stage and look trashy.

#Winning!

So yeah, a beyond awesome night.

I can’t wait to go back to Charlotte and explore some more (and take Leon to Ikea).

Your turn, eaters:

What was the greatest concert you’ve ever been to?

Sushi or burgers?

Later eaters!

GoodBelly Probiotic Shots Review

G’day eaters!

Are you still feeling that Monday/end of a weekend where you were lazy and ate too much junk push to be healthy?

Yes? Good!

Because I’ve got a health product to talk about and I like us all being on the same page.

So…

How do you feel about probiotics?

If you’re reading you’re probably tuned in enough to the “healthy living community” to know that probiotics are a bacteria that keep your gut healthy (and you pooing regularly) and that yogurt is a good source of them.

And frankly, that’s about all that I know about probiotics aside from a rumor that adding honey to yogurt helps boost the amount of probiotics you can get.

Yeah, I’ve still got no clue if that’s true. If you know, please tell me. Until then I’m going to continue adding it to my yogurt because it’s tasty.

But I digress.

Of course we know that probiotics are good for us and we should probably take some kind of probiotic supplement. But we should probably do a lot of other things everyday that most people don’t.

I’ll be the first to admit — I don’t take any vitamins or supplements. I dislike the act of swallowing vitamins. It’s also hard for me to justify spending a lot of money on oils and pills that don’t provide me tangible results.

Sure, they’re doing good things for me on the inside, but if I don’t see results I’m not going to continue.

With that being said, when GoodBelly, a probiotic juice/supplement company, reached out to me to take their 12 Day Challenge I was skeptical. But, let’s be honest, I’m almost never going to turn down a free sample.goodbelly3

So I picked up three packs — a 12 day supply — of GoodBelly shots and committed to tossing one back everyday. Even if I didn’t see any results.

Luckily, these babies were little and tasty, so it wasn’t a painful process in the least.

And even more luckily, about halfway through the 12 Day Challenge I actually started to notice a difference: less bloating.

We all know that probiotics play an important role in poop, but poop…ahem…isn’t a problem for me. Bloating is, though, and before this little Challenge I had no idea that probiotics could help with that.

So I was very happily surprised when I started to notice my stomach retaining its flatter form long and longer into the day. The probiotics didn’t completely erase all my bloating, but I got a ton of bloat-reducing bang for my effort-buck.

I’ve been without these little probiotic shots for about a week now and I can definitely tell a difference. I’m bloated all over again and constantly trying to suck my gut in. And I miss my fruity little shots already.

But all of this good stuff doesn’t mean a darn thing if it’s not worth the money. So the million dollar question: Would I spend my own money on them?

You bet!

It’s about $4 (I think) for a 4-pack of shots. And each pack has a coupon on the inside for 50¢ off 2 4-packs. And it’s worth every penny.

But don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself!goodbelly collage

GoodBelly has generously offered to give away a 12 day supply of their probiotic shots to one lucky eater.

To enter:

1) Leave a comment below telling me about one vitamin/supplement you know you should take, but don’t.

2) Tweet something about wanting to win free @GoodBellyDrink probiotic shots from @KaraHadley.

I’ll pick a winner later this week (probably Wednesday or Thursday), so be sure to check back.

Later eaters!

PS — GoodBelly did provide me the products for free, but all the opinions are my own. 

I Love Silk

Hiya eaters!

It’s Friday! Friday! Something something something Friday!

Yeah, I’m not really up on pop culture. (Speaking of which, where the hell do people find all this new pop culture? Are there things I’m not reading?) And I do realize that song is so last year, but until it’s featured on an episode of VH1’s “I Heart The (decade)” I still consider it pop culture.

But that’s enough of that weird rant.

Did you know that I don’t really have much product/brand loyalty?

With the exception of a few things (tampons, face washes, hand creams, and coffee creamer, to name a few) I flip flop all over the place.

Store brand. Name brand. Whatever’s on sale. My favorite that is only available at one store so I buy it when I’m there, but am generally to lazy to go all the way there just to buy one thing. The things I keep buying because I remember buying them before and thinking that I liked them only to find out that I don’t after it’s too late.

You know the drill.

But I am here to declare that after years of dabbling in non-dairy milks — soy, almond, coconut, rice, and hemp — and all the brands that make them — Eden Soy, Pacific, Silk, So Delicious, West Soy, and store brands — I finally found the brand that I am loyal to.

And that lucky winner of my undying loyalty is…Silk!

Silk was one of the first soymilks I ever bought when I was first testing the non-dairy waters. And honestly, I probably gravitated towards them because when writing my grocery list I could shorten “soymilk” to “silk” and it made sense.

But now after having tried quite a few soymilks, I can say that theirs is pretty much top notch. It’s smooth and doesn’t have that weird taste or wateriness that a lot have (cough cough Harris Teeter brand cough). silk pure almond2

Lately I’ve been gravitating away from soymilk and luckily, Silk’s almond milk is pretty tasty, too. (Ya know, because I eat almonds and almond butter, and cook with almond flour, so I really need more almonds in my life.)

But seriously, Silk’s almond milk is awesome. I always preferred almond milk to soymilk because it seemed to have a richer mouth feel and Silk’s almond milk doesn’t disappoint.silk pure almond1

At less than 1 g of carbs per serving it’s perfect to add a bit of creaminess to my whey protein (while I wait for the egg protein I order and MUCH prefer to come in). AND they even have a dark chocolate flavor, which I definitely need to find a recipe or a reason so I can justify buying a carton.

So there you have it: I love Silk.

And luckily, I’m in pretty good company because a lot of my fellow Fitfluential Ambassadors love Silk, too. We love it so much that Silk has even rounded up a bunch of bloggers to create 30 recipes for their FB page using their unsweetened almond milk, which has 30 calories a serving. (Ehh ehh, you see what they’re doing there? That’s clever.)

And, hint hint, if you’re looking for an excuse to buy a carton of Silk’s dark chocolate almond milk there’s a recipe on there for a chocolate cherry smoothie that I bet you could substitute it in for. (There’s also a coupon for $1 off a carton on there, too!)

Yup, that sounds like a good enough reason to me.

Your turn, eaters:

What kind of milk, dairy or otherwise, are you partial to?

How much brand loyalty do you have?

Later eaters!

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own, I promise. 

FRS FTW

G’day eaters!

So you guys (and girls! I know that the majority of you are of the lady persuasion and I am trying to be more conscious of my rhetoric) know that I’m a #Fitfluential ambassador, right?

Well, besides Fitfluential and all the other ambassadors being a constant source of inspiration to put down the Mike & Ikes (btw, what’s up with the riff between Mike and Ike? Is that some weird marketing ploy?) and do something not lazy, they also show me a constant stream of products designed to make my life easier, healthier, and all around better.

And the latest products designed to make me perkier, stronger, and sexy-slim (as opposed to weird, extra bony slim) are FRS drinks!

There are four types of drinks — Healthy Energy, Healthy Slim, Healthy Defense, and Healthy Protein — plus Healthy Energy drink powder, and Healthy Energy soft chews and hard candies.

Quite the product line, right?

After having tried them I can say, hands down, that my favorites were the protein drinks!

The protein drinks come in two flavors — Orange Cream and Blueberry Acai — and o’m’gah, they are tasty.

The Orange Cream tastes exactly like a melted creamsicle with only the slightest tiny bit of that weird medicinal orange-y taste (though, disclaimer, I am HYPER sensitive to that medicinal orange taste from a childhood of eating giant chewable vitamin C tablets). Seriously, I contemplated freezing them in the whimsical ice cube trays I got for Christmas to make Titanic-shaped protein popsicles.

And speaking of doing weird things with protein drinks…

I kinda think the Blueberry Acai flavor could be good with some vodka. Is that weird?

Probably, but I was drinking one after a particularly intense Crossfit WOD last week and totally thought that it could use a splash of vodka. Ya know, to balance out the carbs of alcohol. That could have been the handstand push-ups talking, though.

But even without vodka, the Blueberry Acai drink is tangy and a little sweet and a very welcome departure from the usual vanilla/chocolate protein drink.

Which brings me to my next point: these protein drinks pack a ton of protein.

I have a strict minimum of 20g of protein for a workout and since these drinks each have 25g they are perfect (especially for those times when I’m too lazy to wash my blender bottle or forgot to wash it for a day or two and it smells really bad).

So while I did like all the other drinks, especially the cherry limeade energy drink, which definitely tasted like those Sonic drinks, they were a bit high in sugar for me (with the Healthy Energy drinks clocking in at 20g sugar). The Healthy Slim drinks are significantly better on the sugar front, but the protein drinks were still my absolute favorite.

And now for the answer you’ve all been waiting for: Would I spend my own money on them?

Yup. I wouldn’t necessarily do it too often, because ~$3 a bottle is a bit pricey, but I would buy them. And then I’d add vodka to most of them, because in my world most fruity drinks are just screaming for vodka.

Don’t judge me. I could be a visionary.

Your turn, eaters:

What’s the most you would pay for a drink, including fancy Starbucks drinks?

What’s something weird you do/want to do with your food?

Later eaters!

Disclaimer — I was provided these products in exchange for my review, but the opinions here are honest…ly my own. 

My CSA Experience

Hiya eaters!

I was going to post a couple recipes/formulas/tips from Thanksgiving, but I’m sure that at this point you’re all a little Thanksgiving-ed out. So I’ll save those for tomorrow.

And instead I’m going to give you a post that’s long overdue.

Remember back at the very beginning of October I told you that I’d gotten a share in an organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)? And do you remember how I said that I’d tell you how it went when that mini season ended?

Well it ended. A while ago.

Better late than pregnant never, right?

(The pregnant thing was something my 8th grade religion teacher used to say. It’s a weird thing for her to say, right?)

Here’s a little rundown of how my CSA went.

Every Tuesday I’d go to the farm (which is part of my college so I walked there between classes, making it incredibly convenient) and pick up a mixed bag of vegetables. Each bag was $15 and had about 5 different types of organic vegetables.

So all in all, it was not only a great deal, but it was beyond convenient. EXCEPT for two things: 1) I’m too much of a (meal) planner and hated not being able to properly do that, and 2) it was waaaaaaay too much food for two people.

We were drowning in bak choy and Swiss chard and hot peppers. And really, there are only so many ways to eat those things so it got pretty overwhelming.

And we weren’t going to renew our share, but then our CSA model changed for the winter so now we get an even more convenient than before email on Friday with a list of what will be in the bag on Tuesday. And then we just claim (or not claim) a bag and then pay and pick it up on Tuesday.

It allows for better meal planning, less drowning, and we still get an awesome deal on several pounds of organic vegetables.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the farm will keep this model forever. But until they switch back Leon and I still have a fridge absolutely bursting with vegetables and not enough stir fry sauces or salad dressings to eat them before they go bad.

Enter: freezing.

Leon turned me on to this idea when we had a table full of his mom’s summer squash. It makes sense because you buy vegetables when they’re the freshest and cheapest instead of buying bags of frozen vegetables.

And in 3 easy steps you empty out your fridge, stock up fresh vegetables for winter, and have all the prep work done for stir fries and soups.

Did I mention that you empty your fridge?

Yup, no more vegetables taunting you every time you open the fridge door.

And it’s as easy as…

1) Chop the vegetables.

2) Blanch the vegetables by boiling them in water for a few minutes and then putting them in an ice bath.

3) Drain the vegetables from the ice bath and bag them.

And in no time flat about an hour, you go from half a shelf of bok choy to half a gallon of bok choy. And that, m’dear eater friends, is a beautiful thing.

Your turn, eaters:

Have you ever done a CSA?

What’s one vegetable you would HATE to have a surplus of?

G’night eaters!

New Balance Minimus Review

Hello eaters!

#HotDamnHooray, today has been awesome.

First, I absolutely fucking primal-style beasted it at Crossfit today. I guess having to take a few days off for my foot (and eating way too much sugar) gave me the energy to do crazy things.

  • WOD:
  • 10 rounds of
  • 10 back squats (60 lbs)
  • 10 (jump assisted) pull ups
  • 10 strict front presses (33 lbs)
  • Time: 22:52.

Yup, I did things I didn’t even know I could do. And it felt awesome.

So between feeling like a goddamn muscle beast and since I haven’t really done any noteworthy cooking (unless smoothies and pb toast count), we’re going to focus on the fitness side of things tonight. Mainly, my shoes.

As you may remember, I bought my first ever pair of minimal, Crossfit-specific sneakers a couple of weeks ago. My whole active life I’ve been wearing squishy, stabilizing, arch-correcting running-specific shoes, so I was a little wary making the jump to minimal shoes.

But it’s been about three weeks with my New Balance Minimus 3090s and I have to say, I’m in love.

Can you tell from the dirty lining how much I've loved them?

Sure, the first few times I ran in them wasn’t exactly comfortable. I actually felt a bit of pain in my feet and shins. But it wasn’t bad pain. It was a strengthening pain, like my feet were adapting to having to rely on their own muscles. And

Sure, I spent a little extra time on the treadmill just to strengthen my feet in the Minimus, but my feet are now noticeably stronger and I got in a little more active time, which is never a bad thing.  And now, after just three weeks of changing only my shoes, I can tell a difference in my running for the better.

And sure, there’s a chance that had I been wearing my old, thick, squishy running shoes I wouldn’t have jammed my toe as bad. But my complete lack of coordination and grace isn’t the shoes’ fault.

But ya know what didn’t take any time to get used to doing in the shoes — lifting!

Oh boy oh berto, do I ever love these shoes for lifting.

The sole is hard enough and there’s enough of a lack of padding that almost every ounce of momentum that I generate with my full hip extension and hard heel jumps go into sending that barbell soaring.

Proof: For skill work today I was able to snatch 60 lbs multiple times easily. My previous snatch PR was 50 lbs and even that was a struggle.

Of course, I’m not saying these shoes are magic. I can’t suddenly run a marathon. I’m not lifting large men over my head (yet). I’m not leaping over tall buildings or even over tall people.

But, I can definitely tell a difference.

And it’s that little difference in my running and lifting that has allowed me to get past the hang-ups of weak feet and stifled energy and make real progress.

So moral of the story is: shoes really do matter. And the New Balance Minimus 3090s are freaking awesome.

What do you think, eaters:

Do you put much stock in “proper” gear or are you an all around minimalist?

What’s your favorite/most useful piece of exercise gear?

G’night eaters!

Algae for Energy!

Hiya eaters!

You’ll be happy to know that my hangover subsided yesterday just in time for me to go to bed.

Don’t you hate the way that always works out?

Oh well, today I felt productive enough for two days so not all was lost.

But let’s talk about productivity, shall we?

I freaking love to be productive. Don’t we all?

I blame our puritanical national history for making us feel like leisure is the equivalent of sloth, but that’s a discussion for another day.

The discussion for today is how we keep ourselves humming along and checking things off our To Do lists.

For most people (myself included), coffee and other forms of caffeine are the answer. And to keep most people (myself included once again) running smoothly and consistently, a cup in the morning doesn’t cut it.

Coffee from Iron Hen Cafe.

And frankly, as someone who grew up in a pretty strict caffeine-free house (Mother is super sensitive), I’m not too thrilled with my now almost daily cup or two or three of coffee.

So one day when I just knew I’d need a second cup of coffee just to make it through work (not to mention homework after work), I went on a spirulina hunt.

If you haven’t heard of spirulina before, it is an algae that has a higher protein concentration than steak. And maybe people believe (including Dr. Oz, which is what sparked my spirulina quest) that all that protein translates into quick energy.

Sounds pretty awesome, right?

Yes, until you have to figure out how to ingest this algae.

On my spirulina hunt I bought some spirulina based Energy Chunks, which worked alright but weren’t worth the 120 calories/chunk and $7/pound, and a couple of green powders boasting high amounts of spirulina, which were a horrendous fail after I added HALF of a single serving packet to a Really Extra Awesome Smoothie and could still taste straight up lawn clippings. And knowing my history with vitamins (read: not taking them ever), I decided not to even waste my money on them.

So I was still in search of a way to essentially mainline spirulina short of swallowing a spirulina seed (so that a spirulina plant would grow in my stomach, just like a watermelon, right?).

Luckily, it wasn’t more than a day or two later when (thanks to Fitfluential) Energy Bits, a company that makes spirulina tablet/pill-things, reached out to me and offered me a free sample.

Free algae?

Sign me up!

And once these little breath mint-looking algae tabs arrived in the mail (very promptly, I might add) I decided to put them to the ultimate test: work!

Because smiling and walking around in circles for 5 hours with the occasional bought of speed walking requires a lot more energy than you’d think.

So for a couple of shifts, when I’d usually be running to the back to chug coffee and counting down the minutes until my magical 15 minute break, I popped a “serving” of Energy Bits.

No clue why they have a "W" on them.

And while I didn’t exactly feel like I could run a marathon or even work a double, I wasn’t yawning and trying to discretely lean against things. I had the energy to fold the demin wall and wrestle with the vacuum and put back racks of hangers.

And that’s saying a lot, because I hate that damn vacuum.

My only qualm with these Energy Bits is the idea of a “serving.” On the nutrition label it said a serving was 12 tabs, but everywhere else on their packaging it said to take 20-30 tabs. Not only is that confusing, but that’s a lot of Bits to swallow!

I took 12 tabs each time I took them and was able to make it through my shift, so maybe I would have been able to run a marathon had I taken 20-30.

So, I guess what it all comes down to, is would I buy these Bits with my own money?

Almost definitely!

I could easily get used to swallowing a small fistful of tabs. And a 1,000 tab bag is only $115. That may seem like a lot, but when you break it down it equals just over 83 12-tab servings for $1.38 a piece. That’s cheaper than Starbucks! Not to mention more convenient. (And if you take 20 tabs for a serving you still get 50 servings costing $2.30, which may or may not be cheaper than your Starbucks order, but is definitely more convenient.)

So there you have it, eaters, an excuse to eat algae and a way to cut down on the coffee without losing steam. What more could you ask for?

Well, a spirulina plant growing in my stomach would still be nice…

Your turn, eaters:

How many cups of coffee do you drink a day? Are you okay with that amount?

Have you ever tried spirulina? What did you think?

G’night eaters!

PS — Energy Bits sent me this sample for free in exchange for this review, but you better believe that these opinions are all mine.

PPS — I just found out that using the code BLOG when you checkout will get you 10% off, which means that each 12-tab serving will only cost you $1.20 and each 20-tab serving will only cost you $2. Now you really have no excuse not the buy them.

Fire in The Triad, Battle Bacon

‘Ello eaters!

I’m here with a special Friday night/Saturday morning post to tell you all about the latest, most decadent Fire in The Triad battle.

(FYI, I’ve been to two other Fire in the Triad battles, Battle Poulet Rouge and Battle Lusty Monk Mustards.)

Last night the battle was between Chef George Neal from 1618 West in Greensboro and Chef John Wheeler from Southern Lights in Greensboro.

Right: Chef George. Left: Chef John.

Now, I didn’t know this going in, but just like Battle Poulet Rouge, these two chefs have some history together. If I’m not mistaken, Chef John used to be the chef at 1618 before moving to Southern Lights. He may have even trained/worked with Chef George. I do know for a fact that Chef John did train the two sous chefs Chef George chose to work with last night.

So needless to say, people were excitedly trying to guess which chef made which dishes all night. It made for great table conversation.

Alright, enough background drama. It became clear after watching a Kevin Bacon commercial that the secret ingredient of the night was…bacon!

O’m’gah! Bacon! Everyone in the room (and especially a man at my table) went wild. I mean, who doesn’t love bacon?!

First course:

Braised pork belly with adobe-turnip puree, sweet soy reduction, yellow tomato and sweet apple salsa, and topped with a Lardon-Ash county romano crisp.

I love pork belly, so this was right up my alley. Unfortunately, I don’t think most of my tablemates were as appreciative of being served a block of pork fat. My only real critique of this dish was that it could have done with less of the soy reduction because it over powered the puree.

Second course:

Bacon fat braised pork shoulder with a jalapeno-bacon popper, julienne carrots, roasted garlic, bacon caramelized onion demi-glaze, and chipotle oil.

I have a ton of critiques for this dish. The bacon wasn’t noticeable at all. The chipotle oil had absolutely no flavor. And I didn’t notice a single bit of bacon in the overly large popper.

Third course:

Pork tenderloin and Mangalitsa roulade with a bacon, crab, and brie cheese mousse in a puff pastry shell, sweet potato hash cake drizzled with maple-bacon glaze, natural sauce, and hollandaise.

The tenderloin was good, but that’s about where it ended. The mousse and pastry were just awkward and all I tasted was brie. The sweet potatoes were neither a hash cake nor fully cooked (to the point where they tasted like carrots). And the hollandaise sauce was straight mayo.

Side note — I feel it necessary to show you the bacon heart that was in my tablemate and fellow blogger, Kristi’s, tenderloin.

"Bacon loves me back!" - Kristi

Fourth course:

Pan-seared chili-glazed beef petite fillet with bacon, tasso, bacon and sushi rice-wrapped in collard greens, and a bacon, shrimp, and lobster bisque.

Had I not read the description of the beef fillet I would have loved it, but as it was, I spent both bites trying to find all the flavors listed. The collard sushi was actually really good, though.

Fifth course:

Crispy bourbon bacon pound cake bread pudding with frozen blueberry custard, crumbled honeycomb candy, and basil syrup.

My favorite dish of the night! Everything worked so well together and my only criticism is an execution one. The chef should have crisped the bacon and then mixed it in with the pound cake and poured on the liquid. Instead, I’m pretty sure the bacon was put on the bottom of the pan raw and then the pound cake and liquid were added. That resulted in very limp pieces of bacon and a very greasy bottom half of the pudding. The flavors were all there, though, so I can’t complain too much.

Sixth course:

A trio of desserts with a cheesecake with white chocolate mousse and a bacon crust, Mangalitsa bacon and pecan ice cream, and almond-dusted chocolate covered bacon.

Again, the bacon would have been a million times better had it been crisped before being added to the cheesecake crust. This dish did serve the only crispy piece of bacon the whole night though, in the form of the chocolate covered bacon, so that was very appreciated.

All in all, I was a little disappointed in Battle Bacon. I felt like I got a lot more bacon fat and grease than salty, crispy bacon meat. And that letdown was definitely reflected in the scores, which were by far the lowest I’ve seen them yet.

But that didn’t stop the big applause that each chef got when they came out with their teams. And it certainly didn’t stop the excitement when everyone found out who made what.

Chef John made courses 1, 3, and 5, and Chef George made courses 2, 4, and 6. Once I found that out I was immediately rooting for Chef John. The pork belly and bread pudding were two of my favorite course!

And then, the moment of truth arrived. The winner was…Chef George Neal from 1618 West!

Even though my favorite didn’t win, it was still a really good battle.

What do you think, eaters:

What would have been your favorite course?

Do you think everything is better with bacon or is it overused?

G’night eaters!