Jun 30, 2013

{Giveaway} FrogFuel Protein Shot Tasting Pack

Developed by two former Navy SEALs for anyone with an active lifestyle, FrogFuel is a 1 ounce liquid protein supplement. With so many different sorts of protein supplement options out there, I was curious to find out what makes FrogFuel different from the rest.

On their informative website, I learned that FrogFuel delivers 15 grams of pure collagen protein. Collagen helps to improve skin and muscle tone, increase joint flexibility and promote healthier bones, hair, teeth and arteries. 

FrogFuel is also "pre-digested." By using fruit enzymes, FrogFuel allows for faster absorption. It also contains taurine, which helps to rebuild muscles and aid in recovery. 

It contains no sugar, fat, carbs, gluten, cholesterol or lactose.

FrogFuel comes in both un-caffenieted and caffeinated (FrogFuel Energized) versions. 

Check out their app below. It includes a "What is your Fuel Level?" quiz, workouts and fitspiration! I took the quiz and I'm a FREE SPIRIT. 

While I haven't had the chance to try out FrogFuel yet, I will soon! Until then, FrogFuel and I want to give you a chance to try out their protein shots. One lucky winner will receive three 1 oz. FrogFuel protein shots and an Elite Status FrogFuel Sticker.

Giveaway ends July 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: FrogFuel will be providing the giveaway prize. No compensation was provided for this post. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

Jun 27, 2013

{Product Review} Zola Coconut Water and Acai Juice

Prior to the last couple of years, I procured coconut water in one of two ways: 1) going to the Asian market and buying a fresh young coconut, taking it home and using a variety of household implements to get it open or 2) wandering around the market stalls and beaches of the Caribbean and Asia, finding and purchasing a young coconut from a vendor, who promptly whacks the top off with his machete. Both experiences resulted in me having a refreshing beverage to cool down with.

Now, coconut water is sold in cans and cartons at my local grocery store. My how times change! While not as fresh as my examples above, they provide a convenient way to enjoy coconut water at anytime.

Zola recently sent me a box of three of their products to try out.

Zola Coconut Water

I received a can each of Coconut Water and Coconut Water with Pulp and a bottle of Acai Juice, plus a pair of bright green Zola sunglasses! I placed them all, well not the sunglasses, in the refrigerator so that they would be chilled for consumption.

I tried the coconut water without pulp first because that is what I would normally drink. I had it after a weeknight run and found it to be oh so refreshing. I also really liked the taste of Zola. Some of the pre-packaged coconut waters I have purchased in the past have had an unappealing grittiness to them. Zola wasn't like this at all. In fact, it tasted clean and subtle. Perfect for post-workout rehydration because coconut water contains essential electrolytes like potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium. Zola's coconut water also does not contain added sugars that you might find in other flavored coconut waters.

A few days later, I had the coconut water with pulp after another workout. This one I wasn't sold on, mostly because I don't have any straws at home and think that the majority of the pulp remained at the bottom of the can. Although I enjoyed the same great taste as the coconut water without pulp, having the extra pulp was lost on me because I couldn't get to it.

Finally, the acai juice was opened but not finished. I have tried acai products a number of times now and, quite frankly, am not a fan of the taste. To me, the juice is too thick and the taste is pretty chalky. It is too bad because acai berries have so many health benefits. I wish I could be a fan, but I'm not.

What's my take? When fresh young coconut is not within arm's reach, I would happily enjoy Zola's coconut water (without the pulp) after my workouts or runs or even as a beverage with a meal.

Disclosure: Due to my affiliation with Fit Approach, I received these products from Zola for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

Jun 25, 2013

Seeing Niagara Falls from Toronto by Bus Tour

Since it took me almost 33 years to finally make it to Toronto, who knows when I will return for my second visit! With that in mind, I decided that Niagara Falls was a must-see during my TBEX trip. I looked into booking a day tour for a number of reasons, but the main reason was because I was expecting to be dead tired from the conference and wouldn't want to drive.

Most of the tour operators pick up and drop off passengers at each of their hotels, which makes the day pretty long and wastes a good amount of time for a tourist who is visiting for only a short time. Chariots of Fire, on the other hand, picks up and drops off at three locations around the city. This allows passengers more time to enjoy Toronto. We picked them as our tour provider for this reason.

Our bus picked us up from the tour stop at 33 Yonge Street at 7:30 am.

Yonge-Dundas Square

We left Yonge-Dundas Square, the third and final pick up point, at 8 am and were on our way to Niagara Falls.

During the drive to our first stop, the driver gave us an overview of what our day would look like and told us some fun facts. Quite honestly, I tuned some of it out, tried to nap and checked my Twitter feed.

About an hour later, we reached our first stop of the day: Skylon Tower. It was an extra $12CAD to go to the top of the 520-foot Tower.  A glass-enclosed elevator took us to the observation level, where there are indoor/outdoor viewing decks. From there you can enjoy views 775-feet above the bottom of Niagara Falls.

From the observation level, we could see the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario. 

Ferris Wheel in Niagara Falls

The other city of Niagara Falls (in New York) was also visible from the top of Skylon Tower.

Bridge to Niagara Falls, New York

Of course, we were there to see the three waterfalls that are collectively called Niagara Falls. There is the largest falls, the Horseshoe (or Canadian) Falls. This view also gave us a sneak peek into what was in store for us later that afternoon when we were scheduled to ride the Maid of the Mist. See that tiny boat? That was going to be us.

Horseshoe Canadian Falls

Then there are the American Falls on the left and the much smaller Bridal Veil Falls on the right.

After we were done with the observation level, we perused the gift shop. There sure is a lot of maple syrup!

Bottles of Canadian Maple Syrup

From Skylon Tower, we traveled to Table Rock to see the Falls from a different angle: the top! Being up here made me think about the mind set of the daredevils who decided to go off the falls in a barrel or other contraption. Hey, this looks like a great place to jump off from!  

Horseshoe Falls from Table Rock

Look at that mist! 

Horseshoe Falls from Table Rock

 Image Credit: CruisingGoddess

Maid of the Mist was the next item on our agenda. The Maid of the Mist is a boat ride that takes you past Skylon Tower to your right and the American and Bridal Veil Falls to your left and into the center of the horseshoe of Horseshoe Falls. You will get wet on this ride. Rebecca and I brought waterproof pants to wear over the shorts we were wearing. Before boarding the boat, we were each given a blue poncho to put on.  

Maid of the Mist
Image Credit: CruisingGoddess

We decided to grab spots on the top deck to be closer to the action. That's me all ready for my misty boat ride. We had clear views of Skylon Tower where we were standing. 

Then we approached Horseshoe Falls. The wind was whipping and the mist? More like the waterfall is raining on you! At this point, I couldn't see a thing so I just held my camera up and snapped away. From the progression of photos below, you can see that my camera couldn't see anything either! Maybe I should wipe down my lens? Hah!

Poncho protection did some good, but it didn't keep me completely dry. Water trickled down my neck and sleeves. Sad face.

But as we turned to make our way back, the sun was shining upon the American Falls! So gorgeous. 

American Falls

After Maid of the Mist, we had some free time so we decided to have lunch at one of the food counters there. We continued on our way and passed by some interesting things and made very quick photo stops. 

We saw Red Hill's steel barrel, which he used to face the falls (successfully), Niagara Whirlpool, Sir Adam Beck Power Station (I'm quite sure I have no idea why this is part of the tour), and a lovely 40-foot Floral Clock

We also passed by the Living Water Wayside Chapel, a tiny 10 foot by 10 foot chapel, which has the distinction of being the smallest chapel in the world. 

We arrived a short time later in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, an adorable if super touristy destination. We had some time to explore the town, so we took a walk around and browsed some of the shops. 

We took a break to enjoy some snacks. Rebecca had a beef patty from Niagara Home Bakery, and I had black cherry gelato from Nina Gelateria. We also purchased some macarons to enjoy later. Mmmmm...

Our final stop for the day was Diamond Estates for some wine tasting. Diamond Estates is Dan Aykroyd's winery. Yes, Dan Aykroyd has a winery!

For the tasting, we tried two ice wines and an unoaked chardonnay. Something I learned that day is that ice wine is made from grapes that are frozen on the vine, hence the term ice wine. The ice wines we tried were a riesling and a cabernet franc. I really enjoyed the cab franc. Sweet with a hint of raspberries. 

We made it back to our drop off spot in Downtown Toronto as promised at 5:00 pm, which gave us the whole night to wander the city some more and rest. It was a packed but fun-filled day!

Tour cost: $60CAD plus taxes

If you missed any of my other Toronto posts, check them out:

Jun 24, 2013

Week in Review (June 17 to 23, 2013) + Dinner at The Liberty Tavern

Image credit: someecards

Sometimes I feel like these "Week in Review"s are exactly like the image above! So if you feel the same way, I apologize, but it also serves as a great accountability tool for me.

This was the first weekend all month that I have been at home for the entire weekend. I was able to get so much done. It was also Raisin Bread's 37th birthday on Friday, and he got to have not one, not two, but three birthday dinners! Yes, I spoil my husband. I'll get to birthday dinner #1 in a second, but first, my week was full of great workouts. I finished my 6 mile training run, so I feel pretty confident about running The Biggest Loser 10K in a few weeks.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: Daily Burn: Hip Flow Yoga (60 minutes)
Wednesday: Ran 2.9 miles
Thursday: Daily Burn: Full Flow Yoga (60 minutes)
Friday: Ran 2.7 miles
Saturday: Ran 1 mile + 20 minute arm workout
Sunday: Ran 6 miles + Pilates Chair (30 minutes)

Total yoga this week: 2 times
Total mileage this week: 12.6 miles
Total mileage this year: 180.97 miles

We had a birthday eve birthday dinner for Raisin Bread on Thursday night. We chose The Liberty Tavern in Clarendon because Green Pig Bistro didn't have any openings. On this night, the service was totally off. Our server asked us if we wanted any appetizers, and we asked to see the cheese menu. He then took the remainder of our order and then proceeded to give us the cheese menu just as our entrees were coming out! Who does that? So we decided to just have the cheese for dessert.

I ordered the Prosciutto Pizza with Parma ham, mascarpone, Parmigiano, arugula, rosemary and preserved lemon. The lemon really made the pizza sing.

Raisin Bread had a half order of the Spinach Tagliatelle with prosciutto, peas, pecorino, crème fraiche, basil and mint, followed by the Arctic Char with mustard spaetzle ragu, fennel, peas, asparagus and preserved lemon froth. I had a few bites of the pasta, and it was really rich and yummy. I especially liked the peas.

For our cheese course, we had the Smokey Blue and the Cabecou Trufee. After our cheese plate arrived, we both noticed that the table next to us was looking at our table and whispering. We both thought it was because the Cabecou Trufee was SO STINKY!!! It turned out they were looking at us because they wanted to order cheese as well. *whoo* I liked the saltiness of the Smokey Blue, but maybe the other one was a little too complex for me or maybe it was just the smell, but I couldn't eat much of it.

Apart from the terrible service, we had another enjoyable meal at The Liberty Tavern. For birthday dinner #2, I cooked a meal of brown rice fusilli, ground turkey, baby portobello mushrooms and spinach. Finally, birthday dinner #3 will need its own post because it was a multiple course extravaganza at Sushi Taro, my favorite sushi in DC.

Happy Monday!

The Liberty Tavern
3195 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201

Jun 20, 2013

Learning How to Use a Knife in Toronto's St. Lawrence Market

Rebecca the Cruising Goddess and I spent an afternoon in Toronto learning how to cut things. Before the conference, I signed us up for a tour entitled "Shop with the Chef at St. Lawrence Market." The tour wound up being more chef-ing than shopping. While I know my way around the kitchen, I wouldn't say that I have great technique. Despite the number of television cooking shows I have seen in my day, I still learned a lot from this experience.

St Lawrence Market

Our knife skills class took place in the Market Kitchen, which overlooks the stalls of St. Lawrence Market. When we entered the Miele Gallery and saw these station set-ups of cutting boards, knives and veggies, I knew I was going to have to work for my lunch!

Market Kitchen St. Lawrence Market

St Lawrence Market

Before the start of our class, we were treated to some goodies from Carousel Bakery. I have been dying to try their famous peameal bacon sandwich. For the uninitiated, peameal bacon is cured pork loin rolled in ground cornmeal. I found the sandwich to be pretty salty and dry but I am so glad I tried it. To round out our snack, we had pasteis de nata (Portuguese egg custard), which I ate a million of on my trip to Portugal last summer. So yummy!

Carousel Bakery peameal bacon sandwich and pasteis de nata

After we enjoyed our treats, our cooking class began. 

Shop with the Chef

We were taught how to make different cuts for vegetables, such as a chop, julienne and mince, and how to prepare a variety of fresh herbs. We also were shown some tricks to preparing whole garlic cloves and how to make garlic paste. The coolest part was seeing how a chicken is broken down. I have never purchased a whole chicken before in my life, except to boil it. Maybe I won't be afraid to next time!

Knife Skills Class

Watch out, I've got a knife! 

Knife Skills

After about an hour and a half of cutting and wiping down our cutting boards, we got to eat some great food: a light salad, a vegetable soup and an amazing rhubarb crumble. 

We had a short amount of time left to explore the sights and sounds of the market downstairs. It was fun to see all of the great product available for sale every day of the week. I had a great few hours visiting this historical and food-filled sight! 

In addition to the Knife Skills Class, St. Lawrence Market offers a number of other classes, including "Make and Takes." Visit their website to learn more. 

If you missed any of my other Toronto posts, check them out:

Disclosure: I attended this cooking class free of charge as an attendee of TBEX. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

Jun 17, 2013

Week in Review (June 10 to 16, 2013) + Revenge Wears Prada Book Signing

It has been exhaustion central at the Stirling household. Traveling every weekend has taken a toll on me and Raisin Bread is not far behind as he is still in summer school. On Saturday, we spent the whole day in Pennsylvania on an antiquing mission. We also got to see both of his parents and my baby brother! It was quite a long and successful day. I'm serious when I say long. We woke up at 4:30 am and didn't get home until after midnight, although we did sneak in a short nap at his mom's house.

This week wasn't as successful on the training front as I had anticipated. I'm hoping to do better next week with my first double training weekend.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: ran 1.8 miles
Wednesday: ran 2.91 miles
Thursday: rest
Friday: rest
Saturday: rest
Sunday: ran 5 miles + Daily Burn: Strength Recovery Yoga (20 minutes)

Total yoga this week: 1 time
Total mileage this week: 9.71 miles
Total mileage this year: 168.37 miles
On Thursday evening, author Lauren Weisberger was on hand at the W Hotel's POV Rooftop to sign copies of her new novel, Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns, the follow-up to 2004's super successful The Devil Wears Prada: A Novel. This was Ms. Weisberger's only scheduled Washington, DC appearance.

Revenge Wears Prada Washington DC book signing

DC's weather decided to behave this evening, which allowed for views of Downtown DC like no other from the W Hotel's rooftop. Guests were treated to tunes from DJ Neekola, mini Georgetown Cupcakes, plus a little primping from the NARS Cosmetics lipstick bar. Bloomingdale's showcased some current fashion trends and attendees received hair styling from IPSA For Hair.

Revenge Wears Prada Washington DC book signing

Copies of the new novel were available for purchase, and guests were eager to meet the author and have their copies signed.

Lauren Weisberger Revenge Wears Prada

Jun 13, 2013

Toronto: The Food and The Parties

During my stay in Toronto, I only had a few opportunities to try out the local eats. After our Toronto Photo Walk, Rebecca (big sister/Cruising Goddess) and I stopped for lunch at Mother's Dumplings to try their handmade dumplings. What else?

Mother's Dumplings

The two of us shared orders of xiao long bao (pork dumplings), scallion pancakes and steamed shrimp dumplings. I thought the first two items were excellent, but the skin of the shrimp dumplings seemed dry to me. This was more than enough food for the both of us, and we left stuffed!  

Later in the day, Tourism Toronto hosted the TBEX Opening Night Party at the beautiful Roy Thomson Hall. 

Roy Thomson Hall

Roy Thomson Hall

Toronto is well-known for being an extremely diverse city with 50 percent of its inhabitants being foreign-born. This diversity was showcased during the Opening Night Party. There were different food stations set up around the Hall, each representing a different ethnic neighborhood in Toronto. Chinatown was one of the "neighborhoods" that I stopped by to get myself a cute take-out box of lo mein and dim sum! 

TBEX Opening Night 2013

A highlight of the evening was Ninutik Maple's presence! They were on hand to create some yummy treats. Maple syrup was ladled onto a bed of ice to chill and then a cube of cheese was wrapped in the frozen maple syrup. Below is a video of the process.

There was also a pretty dessert table with lots of little sweet delights to sample.

TBEX Opening Night 2013

And there was even a gummy bear carving station. Now, that is something I had never seen before!

TBEX Opening Night 2013

At the end of the evening, we were treated to a surprise performance by Canadian musician, Serena Ryder

Serena Ryder

The next night, we attended Expedia's Viewing Party, which was held at Shopsy's on Centre Island. Since Centre Island is an island, we had to take a short 15-minute ferry ride to the venue. This gave us some awesome views of the Toronto waterfront! 

Toronto skyline

Expedia Viewing Party

We got lots of fun foods during the event from build your own burgers to sno-cones and cotton candy. 

Expedia Viewing Party

On the ferry ride back to Toronto, we also got to see the skyline all lite up. I love the different reflections of color on the water. So pretty!

Toronto skyline at night

There wasn't an evening event on Sunday, so that gave us another chance to try out some local restaurants. We decided on Japanese since we had been eating some pretty heavy meals. We found Yuzu No Hana to be very close to our hotel as well as highly rated on Yelp

Rebecca and I shared the tuna avocado tartare. I also ordered a salmon handroll, yellowtail nigiri and tenzaru soba. Yes, that was a lot of food, but so yummy! 

Yuzu No Hana

I also had the not-so-brilliant idea that we couldn't leave Toronto without having tried poutine. Since Smoke's Poutinerie was only a couple of doors away, I convinced sister to make one last stop for the evening with me. If you don't know what poutine is, it is a Canadian dish, originating from Quebec, of french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. I had to try it but found it super salty and not very appetizing.

Smoke's Poutinerie

On our last day in Toronto, we met up with Professor Wong, one of my oldest friends/former neighbor/high school buddy and current Toronto resident. We had lunch at Wanda's Pie in the Sky in Kensington Market.

I had the brie and nut pate sandwich, which I thought looked and tasted like meat loaf. Interesting, no? We also shared a terribly cute rhubarb pie!

You might think I'm crazy for saying this after looking at everything I ate, but I wish I could have tried more food and explored more of the neighborhoods! Next time!

Mother's Dumplings
421 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, ON M5T 2G6

Yuzu No Hana

236 Adelaide Street West
TorontoON M5H 1W7

Smoke's Poutinerie
218 Adelaide Street West
TorontoON M5H 1W7

Wanda's Pie in the Sky
287 Augusta Avenue
Toronto, ON M5T 2M2