sweet tomatoes

I know I’ve talked quite a bit about Sweet Tomatoes during my Disney vacation posts… but seriously it’s my favorite restaurant and Milwaukee needs to get one stat. During our final meal there on Monday, I decided to take a few pictures and give it a more in-depth review than I had before.

When you first enter Sweet Tomatoes, you are greeted with two rows of the longest salad bar ever. You pick a side and then pick whatever salad topping you’d like. They even have a premium section with chicken and other more gourmet items on it that’s a few dollars extra. I just went for the basics – romaine lettuce, carrots, sliced raw butternut squash (such a great idea!), hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, and then there were the prepared salads that I loved – Joan’s Broccoli Madness, Wild Fruity Rice and Southern Dill Potato. These three area all gluten free as well as many others (just check their website and they also had a table tent with all the options that I saw after we sat down). Once your plate is piled high, you pay for your food and either find a seat or are seated (depending on busy-ness level).

Once you sit down you’re free to go and grab something to drink (water’s free!) as well as any hot items you’d like. The items I went for? Baked potatoes and sweet potatoes! They had cups of whipped butter and whipped honey butter – could it get any better? They also had a few gluten free soup options, but being in Florida that was the last thing I wanted! For gluten eaters, they had rows of freshly baked bread as well as a pasta bar with freshly tossed and pre-baked pasta dishes. So many options for everyone!

I was more than happy with my salad and potatoes with butters – especially when they had the perfect dessert. Frozen yogurt! I always went for chocolate and vanilla twist, topped with their homemade butterscotch caramel topping – only real ingredients used so it was okay to splurge, right?! And the frozen yogurt was fat free… Making it totally acceptable to go back for a second bowl… ;).

We ate here four times in four days, and you can be certain we will be coming back the next time we’re in Orlando! We’ve even got our eyes set on one just over the boarder in Illinois… a road trip is definitely in order. Milwaukee needs to get the ball rolling here and get a Sweet Tomatoes… although I think I would find any excuse to go there for lunch and dinner multiple times per week! If you ever stumble across a Sweet Tomatoes, definitely head in for a delicious and healthy meal out!

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out and about in kauai: hukilau lanai

Before I get into Thanksgiving recaps, I figured I should post the final Hawaii vacation post – only a little over a week since we’ve been back ;).  Our last night on Kauai we were trying to decide on a restaurant to go to, and we kept coming back to Hukilau Lanai because they feature an entire gluten free menu as well as a gluten free tasting menu if you’re seated between 5 and 6 pm.

We didn’t have reservations but got there around 5:15 and were seated right out on the Lanai with this gorgeous view!

Right away we asked about their gluten free menu and were brought those, the tasting menus and their gluten free bread basket.  It was so nice to be able to enjoy a bread basket again!  The bread was a herby focaccia and it was delectable.  Nice and airy, not dry and gritty.  Served with balsamic vinegar + oil.

I also started out the meal with my first Pina Colada of the trip – these are by far my favorite blended fruity drink!

Sister, my mom and I decided on the gluten free tasting.  My mom eats gluten, but she liked the sounds of this one rather than the normal tasting!  Our meal started with Candied Ahi… coffee spiced ahi, chipotle coconut sauce.

Second course was an Arugula Salad… arugula, fresh beets, corn off the cob, cherry tomatoes, basil vinaigrette.

The third course and first entree was the Fresh Catch… grilled fresh island fish, thai chili coconut sauce, white rice.

Time for another cocktail!  This time I got a Lava Flow – basically just a Pina Colada with a fruit swirl.  Yum!

Fourth course was by far Kinley’s favorite, and was incredibly delicious even though it sounds so simple!  Pork Tenderloin… Local mushroom marsala sauce, crispy polenta.  I usually don’t eat mushrooms, but these were delicious I ate every last one of them!

The next course was supposed to be the final dessert course.  But the manager thought our meals were taking longer than appropriate so sent out a pre-dessert dessert.  Starfruit sorbet.

The final, sixth course of the night was the Big Island Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee… local vanilla bean custard, caramelized sugar.  The perfect sweet ending to the best meal I have ever had.

The meal took about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish, but probably should take around 2 hours.  We were by no means in a hurry and didn’t even notice it was taking longer than it should have been.  Dad got a regular meal off the menu and they timed the courses perfectly to make sure his entree came around the time ours did.  And they even brought him a scoop of Starfruit Sorbet as well!  I didn’t think it was possible to top the Guava BBQ Ribs from Lemongrass Grill, but as an entire meal this definitely does.  And for only $28?  Are you kidding me?  I would go here each and every week if I lived here, and will definitely be returning when I am fortunate enough to make it back to Kauai!  It was sad that we visited this on our last night so we couldn’t revisit it, but it was a perfect ending to our week!  I don’t think I will ever forget this meal and am hungry just thinking about it!

out and about in middleton: bloom bakeshop

Right after Sister and I signed up for the Haunted Hustle race in Middleton, WI, we started researching places we would be able to eat that catered to our gluten free lifestyle.  We immediately stumbled upon Bloom Bakeshop and were incredibly excited to go there.  I even considered a quick almost 2 hour drive over there because I couldn’t wait! 😉

I, of course, wanted to go there multiple times over our day being there, but we settled on just once and loading up on all of their gluten free options!  We decided to go there after the race as a recovery treat so it tasted all the more delicious.

Bloom Bakeshop is in downtown Middleton, such a cute area and the shop is adorable.  The downtown trees looked especially gorgeous with their fall foliage.

We walked in and only two of their bakery items were marked as gluten free (+ vegan), but there were five in total that day.  We obviously had to get one of each because we couldn’t decide and they all looked extremely delicious.  The mummy cupcake was the most delicious chocolate cake I’ve had (with chunks of real chocolate – yum!) topped with vanilla buttercream.  The other two cupcakes were seasonal flavors, sweet potato with chai spiced buttercream and pumpkin with eggnog – so good!  The bottom row is a blondie-type bar with chocolate chips and a chocolate chip cookie sandwich.

I loved how they decorated these!

And I must admit that this one was my favorite.  The cookie was moist and the buttercream was so creamy sandwiched in between.

We ate this on our scenic drive home and are already trying to find an excuse to go to Middleton again!

pace

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my running pace recently.  After deciding to forego my longer runs to focus on my form, I have seen a dramatic increase in my pace (specifically on my Saturday 5k runs + 5k walk back).  The first weekend doing this workout I finished in 30:00 – over a minute and a half faster than my previous pr on my Nike+, and a whopping 4:30+ minutes less than my 5k pace at my one and only 5k race this past fall.  I was shocked at my ability – and this past weekend?  I blew 30:00 out of the water with under 28:30!.

Granted, this is not a speedy speed for a lot of runners, but it is for me.  I can tell that I am working harder running the faster speeds, but it helps knowing I only have a little over 3 miles to keep it up.  I remember I used to wish I could run 3 miles even just last summer – and I was unable to.  And now I am running the entire thing and running it fast!  It still shocks and amazes me of what our bodies are capable of.

Now, speaking of capabilities, I am not currently capable of running a 1/2 marathon.  Well, I might be, but it wouldn’t be pretty.  Good thing I have until January for my first at Walt Disney World!  (By the way, check out my guest post on Healthy Disney today!).  Since this is my first 1/2 marathon, I know I should not have a set goal time in mind, but that’s not always how I work.  I am usually competitive and it frustrates me that even though I want to be competitive at running – I will never be a great runner.  I’ll get over it… maybe.

Kinley decided to sign up for the Clif Bar Pace Team for the Disney race – to see what it would be like with someone else pacing you rather than having to think about it yourself.  Well, even though I signed up for a slower pace time, I decided I would contemplate running with a pace team as well.  What’s really nice about the Clif Bar Pace Team is that it is FREE, and it has absolutely no obligation – meaning if I didn’t want to run with them come race day, I wouldn’t have to.  I could also switch my pace group I was running with the day of the expo in case I find my speedy marathon legs within the next few months.

Something else that’s awesome about the Clif Bar Pace Team??  They send you FREE products to try and I just to happened to get my first on Monday!

It included a Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Clif Bar, a Raspberry Clif Shot, and a Cran-Razz Clif Block.  Can’t wait to start my training and increase my distance so I need these!  Speaking of training – I should probably think of what training plan I’m going to do and see when I’ll need to start!

best sister ever

My sister has a nice streak in her.  She lets it out every once in awhile… ;).  One instance of her niceness is that she let me live rent-free from February through July this year when I first had an unpaid internship, and then I was unemployed after graduation.  See what I mean?  Nice streak.  Well, I had said I would eventually buy her something once I was employed to thank her for those months of “free” living (although I did buy mostly all of the groceries to still help out).  I decided a blender was something nice to buy and definitely not something she would treat herself to (see, she’s a money hoarder).

Well, a marvelous Kohl’s 30% off coupon came to my mom so I thought this was a great opportunity to buy a blender – so I purchased a Ninja, thinking it would be somewhat comparable to a Vitamix.  I was definitely dreaming of nice and smooth green smoothies!  Unfortunately, the ninja did not live up to its name at all… I like ninjas and this thing could not do any superhuman ninja moves.  There were two too many stringy smoothies coming out of the kitchen…  Even the Magic Bullet beat it times 100.

Sadly, my hopes for a new blender went away with the Ninja as I did not have a ton of money still to make a bigger purchase like that.  Well, the morning Kinley and I went to the State Fair, she could not get the Vitamix out of her head!  She said she almost bought one right then and there but held off (money hoarder getting not so hoardy).  And then we get to the fair… and this happens.

Yup.  Exactly.  Who knew there were Vitamix stands at the Wisconsin State Fair?!  And TWO of them!  Although we did not make it past the first one…  Kinley buckled.  She bought the Vitamix.  She even got an extra year added to the warranty (a total of EIGHT years) and a free dry mixer thing too (to make your own flours – a $150 value).  She then proceeded to walk through the fair toting this around, and I kept saying Green Spinach Smoothie so people would give me weird looks.  I love it when I make people think I’m more of a freak than I actually am in real life, although I do love green smoothies.  And they should too!

So I basically got out of buying a blender at all.  I think I’ll just not say anything and hope she forgets I offered to buy her something…  Aw man, she probably just read this in her Google Reader….  But anyways, is the Vitamix everything I dreamed it to be?  Well, just look at the green smoothie and you tell me.

Spinach, almond milk, banana, frozen mango + pineapple.  Beats the looks of my previous creation by about a million.  More smoothies recipes coming soon!

out and about in mke: thai-namite thai bistro and sushi bar

I love ethnic food, especially asian cuisines.  I am not really very adventurous when I go to restaurants – mainly sticking with my favorites, but it never gets old!  In fact, when my parents uprooted me in my middle-school years to a new town, one thing that consoled me was the fact that there were 13 Chinese buffets in one county.  Thank you, Wisconsin.

My first experience with Thai food, however, was in London.  I went to a little shop called Monkey and Me and I had the most delicious meal there ever – and proceeded to go back many, many times.  I had both their noodle dishes as well as their regular entrees served with coconut rice – which is the best rice product out there.  But that has nothing to do with Thai-namite since they do not have coconut rice…  Anyways, we grabbed dinner there a few weeks back and it was absolutely delicious and gluten free friendly.  We even brought up our concerns with the waitress and she came back with a menu that she had highlighted all of the gluten free dishes (she had been bored one shift and went through ALL of their ingredients to make this master menu!).

I had actually just gotten home from my weekend in Sonoma and was in the mood for a nice, hot meal.  Although I started out cold with an appetizer: Fresh Rolls.  Fresh rice wrap sheet with stuffed tofu, fried egg, rice noodle, and carrot served with chef special sauce (substituted for plum sauce that was gluten free) and ground peanut.  Loved these!

For my entree I went for the good ol’ Classic (Veggie) Fried Rice.  Tasty rice stir fried with egg, white onion, green onion, and tomato.  I contemplated the Hawaiian Fried Rice, but stuck with typical flavors instead.  This was so good and I ate every last bite!

I even had two of Kinley’s maki.  One Kappa (cucumber) and an Avocado.  These are not necessarily gluten free because of the vinegar they use in the sticky rice?  I had never heard this before but Kinley decided to risk it.

All of our meals were incredible.  Mom and Dad ate with us as well but I didn’t get pictures of their food and I have no clue what they got!  A chicken dish for sure with jasmine rice – they both said it was really good but I didn’t have a bite, but it seems like they do a really good job with all of their food and the wait staff is definitely knowledgable about gluten free dining – a real plus when eating out at a new place!  If you’re looking for some delicious Thai food in Milwaukee, you should definitely check out Thai-Namite Thai Bistro and Sushi Bar!

Thai-Namite Thai Bistro and Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Thai-namite Menu
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minimalist

I briefly touched on the running shoes I was running in a couple of months ago.  I had gotten them at a running store where I ran on the treadmill they had set up and then assessed my form while running.  When I first started on the treadmill, I remember the worker saying my feet were pretty good and that I would probably just need a lightly supported shoe.  Well, like four pairs of shoes later I walked out with one of their most supported contraptions.  I felt good about it.  I thought that I was going to be a much better runner now that I was fitted and prepared!  I didn’t actually notice much difference from my previous shoes, except I could tell the old ones were wearing out so I desperately needed new ones.  These were nice and sturdy and I was able to transition straight into them and didn’t have to ever go back to my old shoes.

I never thought twice about my shoe choice until reading the book, Born to Run.  Kinley recommended it to me after she read it and I couldn’t put it down.  Although it probably helped that I was able to spend a big chunk of my day reading!  Needless to say, the idea of going barefoot was stuck in my mind.  I even became very self-conscious wearing my older shoes because I didn’t want to end up de-strengthening my feet and they all of a sudden felt so weighted down!

One thing I knew was important was easing my feet into minimalism.  I started transitioning before I even had a new pair of shoes, mainly by taking barefoot walks around the block with the pup (around 1/2 a mile).  I didn’t technically need another pair of shoes at the point of me reading the book, so this was a good alternative and starting point to get my feet strengthened!  I finally decided to purchase a new pair of minimalistic running shoes when I found a flier in Kinley’s swag bag from the Summerfest 1/2 Marathon she ran in July for a new natural running store that just opened in Wauwatosa, Revolution Natural Running & Walking Center.  One of the following weekends we ventured there and I picked up my new kicks, a pair of Inov-8‘s.

These are classified as a transition minimalism shoe – meaning they still have some support and the variance between the height of the heel and the height of the sole is greater (regular shoes = 12mm differential, barefoot = 0mm).  These shoes are a 6mm drop, so half way down.  Revolution also offered inserts for the heel of the shoe (3mm) to increase it to 9mm to make the transition easier.  I am currently still in the 9mm stage but can’t wait to drop down!

The hardest change for me has been focusing on my running form.  I hadn’t ever put any thought into running – heck up until last fall I never ran so what did I care?  So my form is pretty typical to the average person – a total heel striker.  Meaning?  My stride goes from heel to toe, heel to toe… and that form is not ideal for keeping your legs and joints in tip-top shape.  Rather than running without thinking about it, I now try to actively make myself focus to run on the soles of my feet – no touch of the heel required.  Sounds easy, right?  Well I’m here to tell you it’s not.  The transition can be painful.  I did go to a running clinic offered by Revolution (free with the purchase of a pair of shoes!) and I got to see myself run in slow motion (scary) and also take a look at my form.  We ran by the camera twice.  First, with shoes.  Next, completely barefoot.  And you know what?  When I was running completely barefoot my form was perfect without me even having to worry about it.  It’s just that darn gravel thrown across the ground that makes me wary of going too far!

It’s harder for me to get a nice form with shoes on, but I’m trying.  I am still easing into it to avoid calf pain (I was a little overzealous the weekend of the running clinic and overdid it a bit – my calves were sore for over a week).  I am running once a week in my new shoes – especially focusing on my form.  Just a short distance – around 2miles but sometimes 5k if I’m feeling up to it.  Eventually I want to do all my running in these shoes but I am pretty much starting from scratch in terms of my running with the new form so slower is definitely better.  Plus, I still have plenty of time to work up to wearing these shoes 100% by the time I run my 1/2 Marathon in Disney!  I also really would like a pair of Vibrams so I can take longer barefoot walks :).

See, Cinderella wanted to run barefoot too!

I don’t ask questions very often, but I’m curious.  Have any of you tried a minimalistic running shoe or are you loving your ‘normal’ shoes for running?

You know what else goes well with running?  Granola. (The gluten-free version was made tonight 🙂 ).

out and about in gb: the urban frog

I have been sitting on these photos for quite some time.  Six weeks to be exact.  When Kinley and I were looking for restaurants to go to after we ran the Bellin Run, Kinley happened across the website for The Urban Frog in Green Bay, WI.  Their menu looked way too good to pass up and they even had Gluten Free and Vegan options!  Can’t get much better than that in my book.  They’re located right in downtown Green Bay – the perfect urban location.

For an appetizer Kinley and I shared their Guacamole and Organic Blue Chips.  The guacamole was delicious.  My only complaint was that it was gone just too darn fast.

I decided to get the Pumpkin Wrap.  Pumpkin hummus, Granny Smith apple, raw almonds, dried cranberries, and feta cheese on a multi-grain tortilla.  I got mine without feta and with a millet & flax tortilla instead.  They also had gluten free Teff tortillas so I could have had my pick!  I asked for it grilled, but it wasn’t so I ate it how it came.  I was too hungry to wait any longer!

Dessert was out of this world good.  I wish I lived closer so I could eat it all the time.  I guess it might be a good thing I don’t live too close then…  This is Frog Cake. Wheat-,gluten-, and dairy-free chocolate cake served with raspberries.  Say what?!  No wheat, gluten or dairy in the most delicious and moist chocolate cake I might have ever had?  Excellent.  Now you know why I want to go back!

Along with the food items I had they had very delicious looking smoothies and a bunch of other wrap and sandwich options – with a lot of local and organic ingredients!  I really do want to run the Bellin 10k again next year so we have a good excuse to eat here again!

The Urban Frog on Urbanspoon

out and about in mke: alem ethiopian village

A couple of weeks ago, Kinley, a friend of ours, Carly, and I went out for dinner at Alem Ethiopian Village in Milwaukee.  The main reason we chose this restaurant (and even heard of this restaurant) was through Restaurants.com when Kinley bought a coupon for $25 off of a $50 purchase.  We love trying new things, and Ethiopian food was definitely new to all three of us!  Ethiopian food is also gluten-free and vegan friendly which was extremely nice – it’s hard to find places to eat that cater to those two dietary requirements combined!

The inside decor was very cute – we were the first ones in for dinner (at 6pm on a Friday), so we got our pick of seats.  We chose the more original setting.

Featuring these neat tables.  There was some sort of cone on top of it as well that the waitress took off as soon as we sat down.

We told our waitress we would be using the coupon, and even after we had ordered all of our food there was still some money to use up, so Kinley and I each had a bottle of Perrier and we got a bowl of Lentil soup to share.

The lentil soup was delicious.  I could have eaten the big bowl all by myself.  There was a lot of lentils throughout as well as the sweetest cooked down onions.  Yum.

For our entree, Kinley and I shared the Taste of Ethiopia Vegetarian Sampler, which featured each of the 10 vegetarian (which is really vegan since they do not use dairy or eggs) options they offered.  They even split up the piles, so Kinley and I each had our own 10 tastes to sample.  It was all served in injera, which is a flat bread made with Teff flour.  I had called earlier and asked if they did use any wheat in their bread (which is not authentic but is common in the US), and they said they did use some wheat flour but they also had gluten free injera that they were able to substitute.  If you are gluten free, call ahead and make sure they have it because they only had one piece tonight and luckily we got it!  Carly had a beef stew dish I believe (in the bowl on the right).  They did ask if it was okay to serve the meat and the vegetarian food on the same injera, which we said was fine (and the gluten free injera was served separately anyways so I just ate that one with the sampler items).

After our wonderful dinner, we walked down the street to the Art Museum, I just love walking by the lake.

Discovery World is right next door and was so pretty this time of day.

After walking here, we proceeded to get lost walking up the lake.  We weren’t technically lost, but ended up way out of the way to cross back over from the lake to a street we could walk back to our car on (darn bluff!).  It was fun nonetheless and definitely got quite the walk in after dinner!
Alem Ethiopian Village on Urbanspoon

sorbetto

I’ve talked a little bit about my trip to Italy in May of 2010 on this blog.  I love traveling, if I could find a job that would take me around the world I would be in heaven.  Although even finding a job in general is proving to be a bit of a difficulty, and being paid to travel is definitely not realistic ;).  That is why I loved studying abroad so much.  No, I didn’t get paid for it, but it was 3 1/2 months where I could be somewhere else, experiencing the cultures (and food!) of other countries.

Let me just say that I am so glad that I got the chance to go to Italy when I did without having to deal with any of my dietary intolerances.  Even traveling domestically is difficult.  Heck, it’s difficult to find restaurants that I can go to when I’m at home.  Going to Italy won’t quite be the same without being able to eat gluten, specifically.  I don’t even want to imagine being surrounded by fresh pasta, bread, pizza, calzones, and all of the other delicious gluten-filled goodies I won’t be able to indulge in.

And without dairy, gelato is a no-no as well.  I’m not going to lie, I had gelato at least once every day when I was there – mostly sticking to the chocolate-hazelnut variety that I love.  My family recently went into a gelato shop in Waukesha (just west of Milwaukee), called Divino Gelato Cafe, and I was delighted to find sorbetto.  Fruit-filled, non-dairy gelato.  Oh my word.

Kinley and I shared a pint (it was the same price as the smallest dish and we could get two flavors!).  It was filled up with passionfruit and blueberry and it was absolutely phenomenal.  Fruity, fresh, and just the perfect amount of sweetness.  Of course I had to attempt to make some sort of sorbetto at home.  We have an ice cream maker and I just wanted a simple mix to make that didn’t take much time but had an awesome flavor.

And that’s where Naked Juice comes in.  I only first had Naked juices a couple of months ago and was instantly hooked.  I do find them very sweet however, but I love that their ingredients are purely fruit.

Naked Sorbetto makes 2 servings

  • 1 cup Naked juice (I used mighty mango)
  • 1 cup water
  • fruit toppings (optional)

1. Assemble ice cream maker (according to your own instructions).

2. Pour the juice and water together and put in the ice cream maker.

3. Mix until your mixture has turned icy and looks like sorbetto :).

4. Serve in a fancy glass with a gelato spoon (optional).

This definitely was not as sweet as the sorbetto from Divino’s, but it was delicious and perfect for the summertime.  You can, of course, use 100% juice if you wanted a fuller flavor (but I liked this one just a tad on the icy side).

Garnish with strawberries if you so desire.

At least I know when I make it back to Italy someday, I’ll be able to live on Sorbetto and Wine.