Archive for ‘Reviews’

July 24, 2013

Last Week: Tavern on Camac, Birthdays, Tietra Happy Hour, and Tamalex

This is has been a crazy birthday week in my life, since three of my best friends all had their birthday celebrations. I went out with one of my longtime best friends, Christy on Monday, to a cute Mexican place called Tamalex II which is honestly one of the most amazing Mexican restaurants I have ever tried in my life. I ordered a special there which was carnitas tacos with grilled cactus and I am still dreaming about how delicious the meal was. If that wasn’t enough of a reason to get you to go there, they give you huge cups of horchata for 3 dollars. Needless to say, I am obsessed and the service was incredible. I usually don’t review places I go to on Yelp, but I have decided to since the reviews have helped me so much in deciding where to go. The service was impeccable. I had a fabulous time with my two best friends there, and I cannot wait to go back. On Tuesday, after a really tough yoga session, I went to Slice with another friend because I am obsessed with their pizza. We tried their greek salad which was okay, but the best part was the amazing pizza. They do thin crust so well there. I also love that it is BYO even though I didn’t have wine to bring that night. We went to Sweet Ending after where I love the plain frozen yogurt with moshi pieces (rice cake) and coconut. On Thursday, I went to a happy hour with my boss for a community organization we work with. It was held at Tietra, which is a pretty nice bar with some awesome Mediterranean appetizers. Their hummus was amazing and fresh, as was their pita. The Chardonnay is pretty incredible as well. One of the key restaurants I went to last week was Tavern on Camac, where I met Mackenzie Hilton, the winner of Chopped and $10,000, who is now the executive chef at the Tavern at Camac. She is just as gorgeous and funny in person. Her grilled cheese with tomato soup, a comfort classic, is honestly the best grilled cheese I have ever tasted. I would go back in a a heartbeat. The deviled eggs with chive and sriracha were incredible. reasonably priced, and their house red is fabulously chocolatey. The fries were perfect and whatever was in their cheddar sauce for dipping is so addictive. iI cannot get over how fabulous of an experience it was. They did everything they could to accommodate our large party, and I was so happy that I got to go there. It is a restaurant on the bottom floor, a piano bar on the second, and a club on the third. The restaurant is open until 3am so feel free to get your late night eats on here!  I am not much of a club person but I love that this one had so many options. Hungry yet? Check it out if you are in Philadelphia!

xx

R

June 24, 2013

The Flourishing Foodie

twisting prose and some beautiful photography. Some fresh inspiration for your Monday Morning.

Flourishing Foodie

June 10, 2013

White on Rice Couple, Dim Sum in Chinatown and Taro Fro Yo

Have you guys heard of the food blog White on Rice Couple? If you haven’t, I urge you to check out their beautiful site, puppy, and ingenious ideas for recipes! With their stories of food, travel and photography, I am transfixed by their entries, and I want to have a life where those are the main focus. They are publishing a cookbook soon, and you know I will definitely go to a Barnes and Noble on a Sunday to lounge and read about recipes while eating a sugary lemon square and a spinach and feta stuffed pretzel (this is when i turn my phone off and basically just veg out for a couple hours). I am very excited to try the Magic Custard Cake, Broccoli Mac and Cheese, Chocolate Magic Custard Cake, and the Vietnamese Pork and Shrimp Spring Rolls.

Last week was a busy one, but a good one. I went out to get my fill of dim sum at Dim Sum Garden, which definitely was not overrated. We had pockets of sesame fried dumplings with a sweet and nutty taste, soup dumplings with delicious pork, scallion pancakes, shrimp dumplings, and our sampling of delicious dumpling sauces. Oh and this was about ten dollars a person. Can you say best deal ever?

After, we walked around in search of the perfect pork bun or taro bun, but we had to settle for some pork buns. It was delicious though, and now I won’t ever be hesitant to try a pork bun. We finished the night with green tea and taro frozen yogurt, which was simply divine. Check out 11th and race if you are ever in the area! There are so many delicious options!

After, we went to the Pope on Passyunk Avenue and celebrated Beer Week! I have had this brew from Porters’ Pub in Easton, PA before, and since I am very picky when it comes to beer, I decided to play it safe. This tasted so much like banana bread!

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May 30, 2013

VBarre Review at Philadelphia Sports Club

Yesterday was a hot, but nice day in Philadelphia. A perfect day to try a new fitness class.

I grabbed some free class passes from lulu lemon (perks of working at a yoga studio next door, I can always sample a fitness class if I want to because there are so many studios trying to lure clients in with their first class free). I went with a couple friends who were also love trying new fitness classes, and I heard great things about barre. I have also never been inside a Philadelphia Sports Club before and I was pleased with their fitness facilities, pool, and group fitness studio.

Vbarre combines micromovement exercises to target forgotten muscles, and I am feeling deliciously sore today. Some yoga will definitely help with that though and ease any pain later. With an air inflated ball, a polished sliding board, resistance band and 2 pound weights, we targeted some arm muscles like the triceps and the biceps, the inner and outer thigh, did some stretching, curtsies, arabesques, and plie squats. It was more like ballet boot camp though, and I am not sure if I could do this class on a regular basis. I am such a fan of yoga because I don’t look at a clock while I am there. In fact, it is usually the fastest part of my day. I like workouts like stimulate the mind and the body, since they are so intrinsically connected. I don’t have a lot of time to work out, and  anything that is a workout and therapy is definitely worth your time in my book. I loved the friendly, eager staff and the instructor was enthusiastic, motivating, and knowledgable.

What should you bring? Socks, leggings or capris that are sweat proof (because you will be dripping), and a breathable top, and good support if you’re a girl. 

Final verdict: Loved the experience and I could do it once in a while but as a lifestyle, definitely not for me. Not a barre convert, but maybe that is not fair considering I only went to one class. Since it was Vbarre at a gym and not a studio, the atmosphere is different here as well.

I love working with people who are passionate about their careers, and I am quickly realizing that is what it takes to live a long and happy life. You need to love what you do everyday. This instructor definitely knew how to keep people going through a hard class, and it truly is mind over matter. It took me learning this the hard way, but I can understand why people tell you to leave a job if it doesn’t fulfill you, to not waste time when you know something isn’t right for you, and to actually find happiness in your livelihood because it is what you will be doing for most of your hours awake. I am not perfect but I am making progress, and it is always progress not perfection that we should be working towards.

Want to try your own free barre class? Check out your local fitness gear stores to see if there are any promotional deals.

May 10, 2013

REVIEW: Flywheel Philadelphia

Flywheel is an incredible spinning studio located on 15th and Locust in Center City, Philadelphia. The staff was incredibly helpful and pleasant, and they have shoes for you to use with the bikes so you never have to inconvenienced by carrying sneakers to work ever again. I loved their whole aesthetic, and they just opened up in March of 2013. I decided to try the free class because they are normally $20+ per ride, which can add up for someone on a budget.

Not only is it beautiful inside, with clean bathrooms, state of the art weighted Flywheel bikes, data syncing to see your progress, and great playlists for your 45 minute session. The bikes had digital counters that measured how many calories you burned as well as weight bars on the sides of the bike to also target your arms. I went with a couple friends who wanted to try the free class like I did and I could not have been more pleased with the experience. I had a pretty intense private yoga session at the Dhyana Yoga Seva Center on 20th and Spring Garden the day before so my legs were already like jelly, and I couldn’t push myself to get to the rates they targeted in class, but i sweat a lot, and it was definitely a great time.

In Philadelphia? Want to check out their first free class? Check out Flywheel Philadelphia!

This is me post spinning and my new leggings I am officially obsessed with. I also have a pre yoga outfit post. It’s pretty apparent I just love patterns.

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April 9, 2013

Crepes of Wrath

Sydney Kramer, the author of Crepes of Wrath, is an amazing food blogger with lovely recipes. She also leads a great life in Brooklyn, NY, where she writes about restaurants she’s tried, bars she has experienced, and her lovely life with her husband. At 24, she has experienced quite a lot, and it is amazing to read about her exciting adventures. She has inspired me to take advantage of going out to new places in Philadelphia, and writing about those experiences as well. I encourage you all to check out her blog, as it has fabulous cultural anecdotes, and some great information for checking out some restaurants if you are going to go to NYC anytime soon. She has shown me the world of the perfect chocolate chip cookie with sea salt, and it is reassuring to know other people find solace in prepping meals ahead of time. When she wrote about how it clears her mind, I recognized that I feel the exact same way. I love packaging lunches, which is what I do the most as a make ahead meal, and making everything just so that there is always something to drink or eat in the morning for breakfast. I like how well rounded her recipes are, and it is no surprise that she won the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie on Anderson Cooper,or that she has won awards for the best blog. She has a bright future head of her, and it would be fabulous to see a cookbook from her as well. Her reading has also inspired me to expand my horizons in terms of the books I check out at the library, and I am starting Blood, Bones, and Butter tonight.

Check out her glorious, beautiful blog here.

Cooking truly is a learning curve, and the recipes I attempted a year ago have completely changed. My tastebuds are different, and I crave kale the way someone craves a burger. This does not mean you all should stop craving “bad” foods, because everyone has their own tastes when it comes to what they like, and that is not a bad thing. This blog promotes a healthy, active lifestyle, but at the end of the day, this is my lifestyle and my passion. If this does not appeal to you, it does not make you wrong or less healthy, in fact there has been much disagreement about which diet is the BEST diet, and if diets should even be promoted. In many ways, this blog has helped me understand what I put into my body, and how skewed social media is in promoting a lifestyle that is completely unattainable. Luckily, I feel as though that this is being pointed out more and more, but there has to be significant progress made. It is funny that women aspire to be models when they are the unhealthiest individuals most of the time, and even with the skinniest thighs and the widest thigh gap, they still have a toxic mental body image. Doing my research on whole foods and vegetables did not teach e too much that I didn’t know. Fruits and vegetables have incredible potency and power, and I feel the best when I consume a lot of both. I never deprive myself, and even though I care so much now about what I put into my body, I needed to take steps to correct the destructive lifestyle I was living.

Eventually, I want to head back to school, and these new habits have instilled a different sort of mentality for me

As much as I love cooking, going out to eat is a completely different experience. You are able to try things that are not accessible in your home and some cuisine is just done better in certain restaurants. I have a deep love for pho, for example, the Vietnamese soup that is deliciously seasoned for 24 hours with beef stock, spices, and combined with silky soft rice noodles, cuts of delicious meats and soft steak, flank, and tendon. Topped with glorious sprouts and basil and a squeeze of lime and a ton of Sriracha, you have the perfect meal. This was exactly what I did last night with my dear friend Melissa. How delicious does this pho look!

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Weekend drives through the city. I was headed to a binding workshop even though I can’t bind into many poses just yet, and three hours of Marni were incredible.20130409-120806.jpg

Color fun at the bikram studio.20130409-120826.jpg

A beautiful day in South Philly.20130409-120759.jpg

Using up all the oranges I have juiced this week. I added them into a mason jar filled with apple cider vinegar and let them hang out for two weeks. It cleaned pretty well!20130409-120843.jpg

March 18, 2013

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

Meep. Mondays. Why are Fridays so far from Mondays and Mondays so close to Fridays?

I have read and reread this book numerous times, and checked it out so much that I feel like I need to just buy a copy! For those of you who know me personally, you know that libraries and bookstores are where I feel the most comfortable, and there are numerous books I would spend time with over people. This book promotes a vegan lifestyle, but takes it a step further by going the “Superhero” route, which is a step further from vegan, limited vegan processed products, and limiting baked goods and sweets, even if they are natural. The Superhero diet is what she follows eighty percent of the time and she is vegan the rest of the time. Her recipes are really easy to follow, and she has opened up a whole new world of the vegan life for me. I am not a vegan now, and I don’t now if I can commit to not eating cheese, but I do love vegan recipes so I do make them often. Maybe one day I will be forced to give up cheese forever, since I don’t tolerate lactose well now, but I love a good cheese and my favorite restaurants are wine cheese and bread based. Needless to say my favorite meal is brunch, and eggs are my sinfully delicious weakness. Right now, I cannot go vegan nor do I want to, so I will commit to what works for me for now. 

Alicia seems to really be benefiting from her new life, which is really refreshing to see. She had some health issues that were fixed by going vegan, and for some people this is the best way of eating and taking care of their bodies. I do not try to promote a certain diet on this blog, especially since I don’t think that diets work, but trying new recipes is always fun. I know what Alicia means is a lifestyle change as well, because she does not want you to go vegan or be a superhero and make it a one time thing, even though she does not judge if you are a meat eater or not. I like that she is open for everyone to try her recipes, because any meal without animals is benefiting the planet. I like healing foods like lentils, beans, nuts, and brown rice, so I will dabble in her Superhero recipes and let you know what I think of them. I love trying new things and while just eating lentils, brown rice, dark greens, and beans for the most part is boring for some people, it seems like a welcome change for me since I have eaten 80 percent great the last two weeks, but with birthdays and going to birthday parties and happy hour catching up with friends, my body isn’t feeling a hundred percent. I finished the last of the soy milk today and I am running to the store after work to grab some rice milk. Soy milk is very processed, and thankfully tofu is not as processed, otherwise I would not eat it a couple times a week. I am going to make some small changes and see what it does for my body, and as always, I am here to update you on how it goes. I think that my body just needs a rest from the constant partying (haha not really a party, just not eating as fresh as I have been in the past) and it would be nice to go back to eating some nice earthy foods. I am going to indulge these little cravings for now because I am sure my body is trying to tell me something.

Want more information?

Here is Alicia’s definition of the Superhero diet:
The Superhero plan is loosely based on the macrobiotic diet on top of a vegan foundation. That means, fresh whole foods, grown locally and in season… revolving around whole grains, vegetables, beans, and lots of other good things. White sugar, white flower, and processed junk should be avoided entirely.

How strict should you be?

First of all, I always feel better when I eat superhero. Overall, I’d say I eat superhero about 80% of the time and the rest vegan. This is a good approach for people who are generally healthy. When I’m getting ready for a role or an event, or I feel a little tired or off, I eat a very clean, as close as possible 100% superhero diet. A more strict superhero diet is also ideal if you are trying to lose weight or heal a specific illness or condition, like a bad cold or more serious illnesses like cancer. In the latter instance, I recommend seeing a macrobiotic counselor.

Is the Superhero diet only for sick people?

Many of the foods a sick person might eat on a strict superhero diet are delicious for healthy superheroes too! I eat healing foods like brown rice, beans, steamed bok choy or kale, and miso almost everyday. I just dabble in the vegan flirty world from time to time too. I generally don’t deprive myself of the occasional treat, like a vegan cookie, slice of vegan pizza, or a half glass of wine, sometimes more. Whenever I indulge, I know how to help my body recover. If I ever feel less than great, a cup of my healing tea or a good superhero meal usually brings me back to feeling my best.

That said, once you taste the glory of eating superhero and feeling so clean, balanced and pure, it’s hard to want anything else. But I still play a little with the flirty vegan stuff. The rest of the time, I’m macrobiotic/superhero, and I love it.

When I was in New York, the vegan food was way too delicious to resist! It was the holidays, and I wanted to try everything. I will say I was feeling way more tired, grumpy and weird, all because of the sugar and the excessive use of salt at restaurants. I was cooking to balance it out, so I wasn’t going too crazy, but now it feels so great to go back to serious superhero times. Even Christopher is being more superhero with me right now… Yay! So join us!

I hope this helps!

 

Alicia

Want more information on The Kind Life?

Click me!

Whether you you are a meat lover or not, this book has something for everyone. It promotes being kind to the earth and her facts are very compelling, if you just want a good read. Her story is also interesting and she is not pretentious about her lifestyle. She wants you to flirt with recipes and see what you like, and there is something beautiful in the way she accepts everyone.

xx

R

February 21, 2013

Documentary Binge: Hungry for Change: Food Matters

I was completely impressed by this documentary. I learned so many new great, disturbing facts about corn syrup and how eating habits have changed throughout the years. The documentary had the message that preventative medicine is the best medicine, and I could not agree more. Joe Cross made another appearance in this one. I was impressed with the experts they included in this film and the disturbing facts of many food items that we all consume on a daily basis. I never drink soda, but now I never ever will. This is a must see and I highly recommend it. The food aspect of our culture is an important one to understand, and making educated choices only comes about when you know the information. I was appalled at the lack of information the FDA is allowed to label on things they approve, and I am a firm believer that they should be more strict. While I wholeheartedly believe that you should make educated choices about what you put into your body, I also believe that those changes are completely up to you. I have been eating clean for about seven months now, and there is really no way that I can go back. It takes me a long time to digest processed foods, and leaves me feeling sluggish all day. These documentaries have given me the tools to make educated choices about my diet and to think twice about what I put into my body.

And guys, it’s never looked better.

 

February 9, 2013

Review of MyFitnessPal

Have you guys heard of immersion or stunt journalism? In many ways, this blog is a form of that, since I am trying different fitness activities and different classes in order to educate others about different eating and fitness habits. This has quickly become very important to me, and the changes I have noticed in my body have been so rewarding. There isn’t much that jiggles on my body anymore. The level of confidence that I have gained from my time in the yoga studio or on the treadmill have been the most rewarding time in the last seven months. I don’t feel like myself when I don’t do something physical everyday. I have learned to listen to my body, and how to fuel effectively to get the most out of my workouts. I have discovered new foods, and met new people who have taught me so much about taking care of yourself. The whole your body is a temple mentality is very important to me, and one that I try to embody. Check out one of my best friends, who is such a creative and beautiful soul, who just embarked on her own fitness journey here!

I have been using MyFitnessPal for a long time now, because I wanted to see how it charted how my body changed throughout the months I have dedicated to eating cleanly and mindfully. I can confidently tell you that this app is flexible, worth it, and I can easily see why it is a cult favorite. The calorie counts depend on how much you want to lose, but unlike many fitness programs that are very struct, MyFitnessPal understands that you have days that you want to indulge. Writing down what you eat automatically makes you want to eat better, and for me, my phone is the most accessible piece of technology to track this. You can manually enter foods and they will find the calorie count for you online, which is a great option to have when you are eating out and want to see what the healthier options are in restaurants. They have every main restaurant chain’s foods and it is easy to enter your intake for the day. It never takes me more then three minutes. When you figure out how to make this a habit and you know what you are consuming, you know what has a certain amount of fat and what healthier options are. I don’t think this app is for everyone, but for my busy lifestyle and for my conscious decision to put better foods in my body, this was the perfect fit!

The other thing I love about this app is that it calculates the calories of different recipes, which is great when you cook much of your food at home! The calorie counts for different workouts are also available and the interface is user friendly. You can join with friends and keep each other accountable or you can make it a solo journey! Everyone is different when it comes to losing weight, gaining muscle, and living a better lifestyle!

Check out their site and how it works here!

Do you guys use MFP? What do you think! Feel free to friend me!

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January 15, 2013

Review of Maha Yoga — Grand Opening on 17th and Sansom in Philadelphia

After my shift at Dhyana Yoga, I was told to go to Maha Yoga to sample one of their free yoga classes in celebration of their grand opening on 17th and Sansom. I had Andrea as my instructor for this free class and it was great to go to yoga on a Sunday. She joked it was kinda like choga, church-yoga.

The class was a good size and a good combination of different levels. About half were skilled and could do the backbends or a ton of the standing poses with balance and there were a bunch of beginners as well. I loved the atmosphere of the studio and how it is located high up, overlooking numerous churches and buildings in the French Quarter of Philadelphia. The fitting rooms were homey and the design of the studio was very aesthetically pleasing, from the wooden shoe holders and cubbies to the chalkboard announcing new workshops. Andrea is an alignment perfectionist, which is what I needed in my yoga practice. I like knowing where I should be placing what and for how long, and I loved her method of breathing, since she told us to go with the breath and not to force it.One of the hardest parts for me is remembering to breathe. Ever since I started taking studio classes,I have noticed that I spend more time making sure I breathe when I am encountered with a difficult problem, or if I need a couple moments to myself. It gives me something productive to do after work and I am excited to try different kinds of classes. This is what I did in college, go try classes after my academic classes, and it gives me a good structure to the day. I love the process of unfolding my mat, getting blocks for various poses, and realizing that with every pose I practice, I am closer to achieving the perfect form. We did plank pushups and I am feeling it in my thighs today. It was a lot of hard work, but the class was so rewarding and it only made that last pose, the corpse pose, or savasana, even sweeter. My favorite part of this class was that it emphasized group work, so we got into groups of three to try the forearm headstand pose, and I am proud to say that I did it!  I needed help to stand up on my own but it felt awesome and since it was one of my fears, it was great to conquor! We also did the tree pose with one another and it was great to balance on everyone. Yoga is a solo fitness activity most of the time so it was great to try this different kind of yoga. I really liked what Andrea said about us influencing everyone else in the room.

They are offering free classes until Tuesday, so if you are in the Philadelphia area, check them out! I met one of the co-owners and she was a great tattooed woman, with a kind smile. I find it super sweet that a couple owns the studio, and you can tell they put their all into it. Every inch screams new and comfortable. I am trying another class with with one of the co-owners and taking my friends on Tuesday!

Here is their schedule and their website in case you’re interested!

Considering a class is worth $16 and this is a one time offer, take advantage of it if you can!

 

EDIT — Tuesday 1/15

Went to my second free class to support this new baby studio and brought three friends along with me for the ride! One of them signed up for a month and the other two had a great experience! This class focused more on the shoulders and stretching the back, and gave me the best limber feeling. We even went to an organic restaurant afte, and I had such a good day.

How was your Tuesday?

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