Travel Writing To Feature Walnuts, Grapes, and Gourmet Food

Grape Harvest

(Photo source)

As some of you know, I have many exciting trips planned, via writing assignments, from now until the end of the year. And now, I finally get to reveal a few of them!

Chicago Gourmet: This weekend, I will be attending Chicago Gourmet as an official Foodbuzz Correspondent. I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Foodbuzz community and to share my coverage of the event with Foodbuzz readers. One thing I am just dying to do is interview Cat Cora, aka the first female Iron Chef and Bon Appetit Executive Chef. Keep your fingers crossed that she can fit me into her schedule!

Walnut Harvest: Just a few weeks after Chicago Gourmet, I’ll be headed to California to cover the walnut harvest. I am a huge walnut fan, which makes it so much easier to say yes to trips like this. I am really looking forward to learning more about how walnuts are harvested, how to cook with them (beyond the typical cereal, oatmeal, granola, etc.), and about their health benefits. For someone who doesn’t eat fish – or seafood – at ALL, it’s extremely important to know that walnuts have as much or even more omega 3 fatty acids than fish. Thank goodness for that!

Grape Harvest (aka Crush): Exactly one week after the Walnut Harvest, I will be heading back to San Francisco, stopping off in Napa to cover the wine scene and the grape harvest. I’m also planning to review a very popular restaurant in Yountville – can you guess what it is?

Foodie Scene: After Napa, I travel up the coast to get a taste of the foodie/tourist scene in Vancouver. Vancouver is fresh off the Olympics and has so much to offer travelers. I can’t wait to explore the city and the sites in the fresh mountain air!

I’ll be planning full stories related to these trips for both RWC and Bistro Chic. You will definitely not want to miss them or the pictures – plus, you never know when I’ll throw in a giveaway!

And speaking of giveaways…

I just realized that I forgot to post who the winner of the Mighty Leaf Tea and Sympathy Giveaway is! The recipient of the giveaway, via random number generator, is…

Lisa Smith
Posted September 20, 2010 at 5:45 am | Permalink | Edit
I Love my green tea! I drink it most during the winter months the P.M.

Lisa – be sure to send me your address and I will send you the very relaxing tea package ASAP! Thank you all so much for entering the giveaway.

Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage of my cross-country adventures!

The Golden Hour of Running

Morning Runner

(Photo source)

“I run in the morning, before my brain tells me not to.” – anonymous

I am a morning person and, therefore, running comes easier to me in the morning. I want to clarify that I’m not one of those extra happy people in the morning, who just can’t wait to say hello to the world. I’ve actually been a cranky morning person my whole life – just ask my parents. And, like most people, I do find it hard to get out of bed on some mornings. But if there’s one thing that makes me happy, or at least not grumpy, in the morning, it’s knowing that my morning run is just minutes away. I’m not saying that running in the morning is right for everyone, but it works for me – for a number of reasons:

Fewer Distractions – I get up very early, sometimes before sunrise, just so I can make it out and back before my children and husband wake up. This is my “golden hour”. I find that I’m less distracted with family and house things in the morning, which means I’m more likely to stick to my running schedule. Getting my run out of the way first thing in the AM also means I’m less likely to talk myself out of running or make an excuse not to run.

Less Noise – If I can get out the door by 6:15 AM, this usually means I’m rewarded with a near barren road – with few cars and even fewer people. I also tend to avoid the noisy construction or lawn maintenance workers early in the morning, which means more peace and quiet – just what I want on my run!

Feel energized – Running in the morning makes me feel empowered for the rest of the day. It really produces a natural energy, a natural motivation, and even a natural mood booster. When I run in the morning, I feel like I can accomplish anything.

No matter what time of day you run, the key to make it convenient so that you’re more likely to stick with your workouts.

When is your “golden hour” for running or working out?

Happy running!

My New DSLR!

My wedding anniversary is just 8 days away. Some husbands get their wives jewelry for an anniversary, others buy clothes or go out to a fancy dinner. What did my husband buy? Take a look…

Yes, he bought me a brand spankin’ new DSLR – A Canon Rebel T2i to be exact. My husband is awesome! I won’t even begin to tell you how much this camera costs – with two lenses and a camera bag, but let’s just say it was NOT cheap.

If you recall, last year around this time, my husband lost our Canon point and shoot while camping. Within a few days, he surprised me with a brand new Canon, an even better one, but still a point and shoot. I really like my point and shoot – it’s super convenient and very easy to use. However, in the last few months, I feel like my photography needs are changing. With all of the travel I have planned in the next few months – San Francisco, Napa, Vancouver, Baltimore, etc. – it really seems like the right time to upgrade to a DSLR.

Now, the next issue is…I need to learn how to use it! Stay tuned for that adventure!

Warm Up With My Mighty Leaf Tea Giveaway!

The official start of Fall is just a few days away. You all know how I love the fall – especially for fall running. But the cooler weather is also a great time to start drinking my favorite teas again. I drink tea quite a bit in the Fall and Winter months, mostly because it keeps me warm on those cold days but also for the fantastic health benefits. However, I tend to slack off a little from April-August when the temps start to rise. I know that many people drink hot tea all year long (like this guy), but when it is warm outside, a cold Starbucks coffee just hits the spot.

A few months ago, on a rare occasion when I was drinking tea in the summer, I bought my first box of Mighty Leaf Tea. I had tried the tea at a restaurant a few days prior and just had to have a box for myself. The organic breakfast from Mighty Leaf has a classic taste – similar to an English Breakfast, completely full-bodied and delicious – particularly with a little cream.

Mighty Leaf Tea Giveaway

Fast-forward to the present where I am very excited to report that Mighty Leaf Tea has kindly sent me a few of their products to giveaway. Here’s what one lucky reader will get….

  • A stainless steel Tea Top Brew Travel Mug – (still in the box!) It’s awesome for drinking your tea in the car on the way to school or work!
  • 12 pouches of Mighty Leaf tea – 3 each of Green Tea Tropical, Orange Dulce, Organic African Nectar, and Organic Detox Infusion
  • A copy of Green Tea Living – This is a freebie from me! It’s an awesome book about the health benefits of tea and all the awesome things you can do with it!

To enter, you can either:

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite flavor of Mighty Leaf Tea is or which flavor you’d most like to try. OR
  2. Tweet/retweet this post over Twitter

You have until Tuesday, September 21, 2010, at 9 PM Central to enter the giveaway. I can’t wait to hear all your comments! You are seriously going to love these giveaway items!!

More Travel = DSLR!!!

Jen Bean2

I have big, BIG news! I am seriously bursting at the seems wanting to tell all of you, but I can’t share it just yet. I’ll give you a hint, it involves gourmet food and travel! I’m hoping to reveal the new details next week, so stay tuned!

On another note, because I will be traveling quite a bit in the next 6 weeks, I’m breaking down and buying a DSLR. I’ve been using a Canon S90 point and shoot for about a year and it has served its purpose well. It was good enough to get me by on a day to day basis and took pretty decent photos for a point and shoot. However, because of several very important events coming up this year and next, Scott and I felt it was time to upgrade.

So, what am I looking for in a DSLR? I want one that is small, takes great pictures of food/sites without too many fancy lenses, and one that is of high quality/brand. Now it’s time for a little blogger help! For all of my Healthy Living Summit, Fitbloggin, and Bookieboo/Mamavation friends out there…

What DSLR do you use and why do you recommend/not recommend it?

Check back on Sunday for a fun giveaway announcement!

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?


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:


  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

(Photo source)

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

(Photo Source)

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!