Top Foodie Towns in the US

Bon Appétit magazine has just named our nation’s top “Foodiest Towns” of 2010. To even be considered for this prestigious list, towns had to fit certain criteria including:

  • Small, fewer than 250,000 residents or a small town feel
  • Quality farmers’ markets
  • Concerned farmers
  • Dedicated food media
  • First-rate restaurants
  • Talented food artisans
  • Community of food lovers

With this strict criteria, standard top foodie cities, like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, didn’t make the cut. However, by keeping this criteria to smaller towns, you’ll see that some true gems were able to shine. So who made the cut?

TOP FOODIE TOWN

Boulder, CO – Hands down, Boulder topped this list for many reasons. It is the home of innovative food companies, top-tier restaurants, and one of the best farmers’ markets in the country. Other runner-up cities included:

RUNNERS UP

  1. McMinnville, OR
  2. Big Sur, CA
  3. Traverse City, MI
  4. Louisville, KY
  5. Ithaca, NY

Surprisingly, I have actually been to one of these small town foodie destinations – Traverse City. However, the last time I was there, at least 10 years ago, it was really just coming into its own as a foodie town.

What top foodie towns have you been to? What’s your favorite?

Yoga for Runners

yoga tree pose

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Although running is my main source of cardiovascular exercise, I also try to cross-train by practicing yoga one day a week. A runner cross training with yoga might sound like an odd practice, but the two exercises are actually quite complementary. But before I discuss the benefits of yoga for runners, let me first explain the benefits and challenges of running.

Benefits of Running – Running is an awesome exercise for weight loss because it burns major calories. It also provides the cardio exercise that your heart needs to stay healthy. Running also is considered a weight-bearing exercise, building muscles in your legs, glutes, arms, and back. Not to mention, running is very inexpensive, all you need is a pair of good running shoes and a path or street.

Challenges of Running– The downside to this is that running works the same muscle groups each time you run. So, unless you cross train, you don’t get much of a workout for these “off” muscles. This constant pounding with no change in exercise strategy may also make you more prone to injuries.

That is where yoga comes in.

Benefits of Yoga for Runners

  • Learn Better Breathing – Both exercises depend on very smooth and controlled breathing. Runners who can improve their VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen they consume during exercise) can ultimately improve their running performance. Yoga, when practiced correctly, also can help you increase your VO2 levels. So, if you’re still trying to find your breathing rhythm for running, yoga may help you find it. Likewise, if you’ve mastered breathing for running, then it should be an easy jump for you to adapt to yoga breathing.
  • Builds Your Core – Yoga is great for strengthening a runner’s core, the body’s foundation for all movement. Runners with a strong core, including abs and lower back, tend to run faster and harder than those with a weak core.
  • Works Opposite Muscles – According to Yoga Journal, a typical runner experiences too much pounding, tightening, and shortening of the muscles and not enough restorative, elongating, and loosening work. Without opposing movements, the body will compensate to avoid injury by working around the instability. Compensation puts stress on muscles, joints, and the entire skeletal system, and may eventually lead to injuries. Yoga strengthens your intrinsic muscle groups that support and strengthen the body’s skeletal system. It also provides a nice counter balance to a runner’s one-dimensional workouts.
  • Improves Flexibility – Most runners would agree that you don’t have to be flexible to be a good runner, but being flexible does not hurt running efforts, and it may even help. Runners who are flexible are often less prone to injury, recover more quickly from runs, and see improvements in overall strength and endurance. Yoga can be used to work opposite muscles groups but it can also increase  a runner’s flexibility, especially in the hips.
  • Provides a Break – When you’ve been running as long as I have, you can easily get burned out and even a little bored with running if you don’t change it up every so often.  As with any cross training activity, yoga gives you a physical and mental vacation from running and may give you the energy boost you need to continue with your running workout each week.

Namaste and Happy Running!

Apple Pie: 6 Simple Ingredients

More often than not, the simplest recipes result is the tastiest dishes. Last night, Scott made an apple pie with the apples we picked yesterday. He used 6 of the most basic ingredients….

  • apples
  • sugar
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • flour
  • prepared pie crust

So essentially he went from this…

To this…

In about 1.5 hours. Voila!

Adventures in Apple Picking…

Today was our annual trip to the apple orchard with the whole family – 6 adults and 5 children. Enjoy this petit photo tour of what I saw around the orchard…

Thanksgiving anyone?

It’s not time for the Great Pumpkin yet, but it will be very soon!

I will definitely be getting one of these blue/grey gourds – so cool! And now for the grand finale – the apples we took home….

Now it’s time for homemade:

  • Apple pie
  • Apple crisp
  • Apple cobbler
  • Apple sauce

See ya soon!

My Fitbloggin Goal

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As most of you know by now, I’m signed up for Fitbloggin ’11 in Baltimore. Yeah – can’t wait to see my Healthy Living Summit friends again like Fervent FoodieA Girl and Her Mutt, and so many more!

Two awesome girls, Jen and Mandy, came up with an awesome idea – called Fit 4 Fitbloggin – to encourage Fitbloggin attendees to reach their fitness goals before the conference. That’s great motivation, don’t  you think?

Although I don’t need to lose weight or “get in shape”, that doesn’t mean I can’t have a goal. My goal for Fitbloggin is to add more yoga and strength training to my weekly workouts in order to gain more flexibility, muscle, and definition. I know it doesn’t sound like a very lofty or concrete goal. However, for a girl who’s been running for over 20 years – pounding the pavement 5-6 times a week –  adding weights and/or yoga to my routine on a regular basis would be a major accomplishment – not to mention a major benefit for my body.

For all Fitbloggin attendees, I hope you will join the rest of the Fit 4 Fitbloggin crew and tell us about your fitness goals! Seriously, by sharing your goal with 200 of your closest fitbloggin friends you are bound to improve something about your health and life!

Fall is Here, Hear the Yell

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Don’t you just love…fall? It makes me want to shop for back to school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name… – You’ve Got Mail

The cooler weather reminds me of my college days, when all of my friends would head back to school. We were all so excited to catch up with old friends, walk around campus, and check out our classes. We also looked forward to Saturday morning football games – of course!

Because I was in a sorority, we’d all gather at “the house” or our brother fraternity’s house for a pretailgating event, which usually involved mimosas, spicy hot chocolate, and bagels. We’d start out around 8/9 AM drinking and socializing until around 10:30 when it was time to head over to the field for the real tailgating. These mornings always had a chill in the air, just enough for you to need jeans, a hoodie, and your favorite warm beverage to keep you from shivering – and having a fraternity boy to snuggle with wasn’t so bad either! I have to admit, the preparties and the tailgating were often more fun than the football game itself. Oh how I miss those days!

I’m sure many of you have similar memories, but I’d like to know –  What’s your favorite memory about going back to school in the Fall?

Clairefontaine Journal Giveaway Winner!

And last but not least, the winner of the Clairefontaine journal is…#2 – Anita!

Anita – These notebooks are so cute and I love how it’s magnetic. I’m a big list person, so instead of using post-it notes, I would use a notebook to make them!

Please send me your address so I can ship your tres chic French journal ASAP! Stay tuned for more Clairfontaine and Quo Vadis giveaways in the coming weeks!

A Runner Is Born…

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As some of you know, I’ve been a runner for more than 20 years. For someone who is only in her 30s, that’s a pretty long time to be a runner. Colleagues, friends, family members, and even bloggers have asked me why and how I started running. Good question. Every runner has a story about how and why he/she started running – and this, my friends, is mine….

When I was a Freshman in high school, I played on the girls fast-pitch softball team. I was a pitcher, and a pretty good one too. At the beginning of the season, I was told that I would be moved up to varsity by the end of the year. At that point, I decided softball would be my life. Little did I know that my dream of becoming a major league women’s softball star would become derailed just as quickly as I could throw a pitch.

“You can swim…or you can run”

A few weeks after the start of the season, my throat began to hurt and I started running a high fever. My throat began to swell, so much that it was hard to swallow, and sometimes, even breath. I was extremely tired and felt weak all over. After a trip to the doctor, I learned that I had mononucleosis, the kissing disease, as it was so lovingly called in my school (I swear I contracted it from the softball water bottles!) I was told by the doctor that I could not play softball or any contact sports for the rest of the year because of the risk they posed to my enlarged spleen. Fearing I would gain weight and be out of shape for next softball season, I asked the doctor what I could do to stay in shape. He replied, “You can swim…or you can run.”

When Life Hands You Lemons…

Not being much of a swimmer, I contemplated running. I never really gave it much thought before that day. However, I always ran faster and farther than the other girls on my softball team during our mile warm-up lap around the school. In the next few days, I was approached by the girls’ track coach, who just happened to be the former coach of the national women’s cross country team. He had heard about my softball situation and suggested I join the track team (apparently, he had seen me run during softball practice). So, running it was.

Just like softball a few months before, running quickly became my life. For four years, I ran on the track and cross country teams. During this time, I learned a great deal about running. My coach and the seasoned runners on the team taught me about warm ups, cool downs, running form, pacing, interval running, proper stretching….and about racing.

Convincing Myself…

Despite this new-found love for running, I didn’t call myself a runner nor did I think I was any good at it. Although others may have seen me as a runner, I was constantly trying to prove (to myself) that I was a runner. Throughout college, I did strenuous running drills, because I thought that’s what real runners did. I entered road races, because I thought that’s what real runners did. I didn’t win the races, but often finished in the middle of the pack or even at the end. Yet somehow, just being involved in racing made me qualify as a runner, or so I thought.

On Being a Runner…

Fast-forward 20 years. After many years of running and many races under my belt, I now know that it’s not winning or even racing that makes you a runner. It’s about the commitment to running and the enjoyment and benefit you receive from running. But most of all, it’s about the desire to run.

If I were asked today, how do you know you’re a runner? I would reply – You will know when you’re a runner because you will run even when there is no race, no finish line, and no fans.

Yes, I am definitely a runner.

As I said, everyone has a story about how he/she starting running, biking, doing yoga, etc. So, what’s your story?

Late Summer Harvest

This weekend was full of laid-back fun – perfect for Labor Day weekend when you’re not supposed to be “working”. In just 3 short days, I was able to…

  • Take a road trip to the touristy town of Lake Geneva where I experienced my first olive oil and vinegar tasting
  • Enjoy dinner with Scott’s brother and sister-in-law and their family
  • Go hiking in a forest preserve
  • Try to teach my 5-year old how to ride his bike sans training wheels
  • Run an unofficial 10K

I still can’t believe it’s Labor Day. Where did the summer go? I feel like just yesterday I was planting my vegetable garden and opening my pool. Oh well, that’s one thing I love about living in Chicago – the change of the seasons.

Another thing I love about the change of the seasons is that most of the veggies in my garden are ready for picking – including a bunch-load of carrots! Unfortunately, most of my carrots turned out really small – no bigger than the length of my fingers. But don’t they look cool? Very harvesty. I think the problem with the carrots was either a) I planted too many seeds close together or b) I didn’t plant them in sandy enough soil.

Aside from carrots, the green peppers grew amazingly well, as did the cucumbers, roma tomatoes, and jalepeno peppers…

It’s such as awesome feeling to go out to the garden to pick veggies for salads, salsa, stir-fry, or other veggie-based dishes. I definitely think planting a garden is worth the effort, if you plant things the right way and continue to take care of it over the summer.

Tomorrow, it is back to reality and a TON of work. We are set to launch a huge initiative in 7 weeks in San Francisco, so I’ve got to get moving!

Have a great night all!

Sunday is Giveaway Time!

With such a busy travel schedule coming up, I find myself making tons of lists:

  • To do lists
  • Packing lists
  • Shopping lists
  • Clothing lists

…and so on. When making my lists, I try to keep them in the same notebook or folder, so that they are easy to find and refer to. However lately, I find that I’ve filled most of my little notebooks and have resorted to making lists on sticky notes or on Word documents on my computer. Although this helps get my items on “paper”, I’m not always in front of my computer and I tend to lose the sticky notes after a few days.  This obviously makes my life more hectic and stressful, and I definitely do NOT need more stress in my life right now!

In addition to lists, my schedule pretty much forces me to keep a detailed calendar/schedule for all of my trips, family functions, and other responsibilities. I really don’t like living my life on a schedule, but c’est la vie. This is the main reason I attended the Time Management session at the Healthy Living Summit a few weeks ago. I wanted to learn how to become a better time manager, although not a micro time manager. It was at HLS where I learned about the Quo Vadis day planners, notebooks, and other products that help make scheduling life easier.

For weeks now, I have been looking for a stylish yet functional notebook as well as a planner and had my eyes set Quo Vadis. The parent company of Quo Vadis, Exaclair, very graciously sent me several notebooks, mini-notebooks, planners, and notepads to try. Although I have not tried the planners as of yet (because they are for 2011) I’ve tried the Rhodia dotpad and the Clairefontaine magnetic journals. The dotpad is perfect for making lists – you can tear your list out and take it with you when you’re done, or you can leave it in the pad to save for reference. The Clairefontaine journal is equally handy for journaling daily thoughts, making “life lists”, etc. And what else I love about this journal is that it is hard cover and comes in a very Eurochic design, complete with a faint old-fashioned map of the Mediterranean…

The magnetic strip is a huge bonus – I don’t have to worry about it falling open or flapping around when I’m writing outside on my deck.

As you can see from the pictures above, I received way more Quo Vadis goodies than I can actually use. So you know what that means – it’s giveaway time!

Clairfontaine Journal Giveaway!

I will be hosting several giveaways on both RWC and Bistro Chic involving these awesome notebooks and planners in the coming weeks. The first giveaway will be for one of the stylish magnetic notebooks (the brown hardcover picture above). As I said before, it’s perfect for keeping track of your day-to-day thoughts and activities, and it’s also small enough to fit in your laptop bag or even your purse. So whenever you have a new idea to add to your list – voila! – just pull out your Clairefontaine journal and go to it.

There are two very easy ways to enter the giveaway for one of these awesome Clairefontaine journals:

  1. Comment – Leave a comment on this post tell me how you would use the journal if you won. Or
  2. Tweet – If you don’t have time to leave a comment, you can tweet this post out as a chance to enter.

You must do one of these two things by 9 PM Eastern, Wednesday, September 8, 2010 in order to enter.

I just had another great idea – I’m off to write in my journal!!

Good luck everyone!

Running With Cake On Tour

Napa Valley Grapes

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The summer is not even over and I am already gearing up for a very busy Fall! For the most part, my busy schedule will be attributed to work and all of the travel I will be doing for my job. Let’s take a look at where I’m headed….

Running With Cake On Tour

  • New York: September 2010
  • San Francisco – October 2010
  • Napa Valley – October 2010
  • Vancouver – November 2010
  • San Antonio – March 2011
  • Orlando (?) – April 2011
  • Baltimore – May 2011
  • Las Vegas – June 2011
  • Hawaii – October 2011

As you all probably know from my Bistro Chic blog, I love to travel. But this schedule is insane! I only hope that Scott and the kids will be able to join me on some of these trips, fingers crossed!

In all of these places, I’m hoping to try some fabulous restaurants and take equally fabulous pictures of my food and the sites. Napa Valley wineries here I come! Also, I’m already planning a blogger meet-up in San Fran, but if any fellow bloggers want to do a casual meet up in any of the cities listed above, let me know! Rest assured, I will be bringing my running shoes on all of my adventures – you never know when a race might break out!

Do you have a favorite restaurant in any of the cities listed above? If so, leave a comment and let me know!