Carb Load at Harvest Bistro

Disclosure: I was provided a free meal at harvest Bistro, however all opinions are my own.

If you have been hanging around my blog long enough, you know how much I love runDisney races. A lot goes into how I “do” a race weekend, but one thing is for sure, I love to get a good meal full of carbs the night before I run. Lucky for us (and you hopefully!) Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek provides a special Carb load dinner at one of their restaurants, Harvest Bistro, every time there is a runDisney race weekend.

Carb load before your next runDisney race at Harvest Bistro at Hilton orlando Bonnet Creek hotel

I love how much they think of runners and their needs before their big race! It’s the little things, right?harvest bistro

When I ran the Star Wars challenge in April, I decided I needed to check out said menu and the chef was kind enough to make me miniature portions of all three so that I could test out all the flavors and tell you about them. (You can also order off the regular menu while you are there.)

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First we have the chicken meatball rigatoni. Pomodoro braised chicken meatballs with fresh basil. It was the most hearty of the three, and the chicken was delicious. The sauce and pasta were both very filling and I would definitely get this again!

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Next up was the fettucini carbonara. It contained sauteed pancetta with fresh green peas and roasted tomatoes. This is my favorite style of pasta, and the pancetta gave it really nice flavor. It was filling without being too heavy, and the peas gave it a nice touch as well. This was my favorite of all three!

 

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Lastly was the vegetarian option of whole wheat spaghetti. It was tossed with carrot walnut pesto and topped with lemon zest and parmesan. It was unique, but slightly too “herb” tasting for my liking, but that’s just a personal preference of course. I ate all three and would definitely come back!

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This restaurant is located downstairs, and has indoor and outdoor seating near the pool but still in a quiet and tucked away location.

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They open at 5:00, so you can get in plenty early and then get to bed for the race morning wake up call, fueled up and ready to run.

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Also, if you are looking for a place to stay during your runDisney weekend, check out this post as to why this is my hotel of choice!

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The meals are $18 per person, and if you want to lounge in your room and put your feet up while you eat, you can also order this special menu through in room dining!

 

4 Tips to Stay Sane and Healthy This Summer

Disclosure: This post was created by myself and sponsored by Personal Trainer Food. However all opinions are my own.

It’s that time of year again. Kids are getting out of school for summer, which would make you think things are slowing down, but often the opposite happens. Between camps and work and the pool and trying to keep our children busy, things can end up being more hectic than the school year, leaving little time for yourself, and more importantly your health. I have compiled four quick tips (you know, because you are already too busy for like, 17 tips) to help keep you sane and healthy this summer.

1.) Schedule “me” time into your day (learn to say no): We want our families to be happy, and a lot of times we equate that with busyness and activities. However, this can end up running us ragged and leaving no time for a little peace and quiet, or for a run or yoga class. Your health and well being are important, so don’t be afraid to say no to a social activity or pool play date every once in a while so that you can have some downtime yourself. I promise your kids won’t be scared for life!

4 tips for staying healthy this summer, including personal trainer food

2.) Get outside with your kids: Summertime is a great time to get outside and lead by example and show our kids the importance of being active. Thankfully in our day and age, there are some amazing ideas for fun outdoor activities on Pinterest. I have seen everything from outdoor Twister to water balloon fight ideas and more. Not only is this healthy, but can be a great bonding experience for your family.

4 tips for staying healthy this summer, including personal trainer food

3.) Wear sunscreen and sunglasses: After the bleakness of winter, if can be hard to flip the switch and remember that you are now wearing tank tops and shorts and not long sleeves and pants. Don’t skimp on the sunscreen and don’t forget to reapply, even on cloudy days. Also, be sure to protect your eyes with sunglasses or a hat, even for the kiddos. If you are in the water or sweating a lot, be sure to reapply more often than normal.

4.) Try Personal Trainer FoodEating properly is at the core of our health, and it can be so tempting to grab fast food or processed snacks when you are busy in the summer, but don’t be tempted! Especially to have a good start in the morning, you need a filling healthy breakfast to keep you going during the day. Enter Personal Trainer Food.

4 tips for staying healthy this summer, including personal trainer food

Talk about QUICK on the go meals, I can have a delicious (seriously tastes really good!) omelet and maple sausage cooked and ready to eat in 90 seconds! And I don’t even have to dirty up a pan or use the stove. It’s such a  time saver, but that’s not the only plus. These meals are proven to help aid in weight loss, as they are high in protein, have good carbs in them as well as healthy fats. They are flash frozen so they keep their natural flavor and freshness which is awesome.

4 tips for staying healthy this summer, including personal trainer food

Their meals also either contain very low or no gluten, and have no fillers or hidden sugars. They just show up at your doorstep, go in the freezer, and then I just grab one in the morning and throw it in the microwave. Worries about not liking some of the food? Don’t! There are seriously so. many. options. on their website, which makes it easy to mix up every week or keep the same favorites. Their prices are fair and there are no hidden fees.

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A lot of times I end up staring at the fridge not feeling like or having time to cook for my family (hello that would involve going to the store, meal prepping, cook time, etc.) and now I don’t have to worry about it. I can use that extra time to go for a run, or play a game with my family so it’s a win win for everyone. They even have quick on the go snacks you can order like cheeses, nuts, and seeds. Now I have literally no excuse for eating healthy, even when I’m super busy. Give them a try this summer, and I have a feeling you will be using Personal Trainer Food even after the next school year starts!

Easy Blueberry Protein Smoothie

This post is sponsored by Wish Farms in conjunction with a social media campaign through Sunday Supper LLC. All opinions are my own.

Recently I had the opportunity to go just outside of Lakeland, Florida with Wish Farms to visit their organic blueberry farm, Misty Organics, and learn more about the process of growing blueberries. We also got to see a packing plant and exactly how they go from farm to table, which was SO cool. We also ate at some delicious local restaurants who all used Wish Farms blueberries in special meals made for our group. Everything was so delicious and fun! It really got me in the mood to do more meals with blueberries. Since it’s getting HOT here in Florida I decided to create my own Blueberry protein smoothie that I could have before or after a hard workout. It’s super simple and fast to make with just a handful of ingredients. Great for busy on the go parents (or your kids, too!)

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But first let’s back up so you can see exactly where these delicious blueberries come from. We visited Misty Organics, Wish Farm’s organic blueberry farm, and got to see the cool way they pot the blueberry plants and use tunnels to control the temperature of the plants. healthy blueberry protein smoothie

We learned that blueberries like water but don’t like to “keep their feet wet”, so the pots drain to help keep that from happening. I also learned that there are so many different varieties of blueberries. I had NO idea there was more than one. We got to taste several different varieties, and I could definitely tell a difference.

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We also learned that NOW is the time to buy Wish Farms southeast blueberries! This covers Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.

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After being treated to yogurt and blueberry parfaits (of course!) we headed over to the packaging plant to see how the berries go from farm to packages to the store.

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It was so cool to see the blueberries go up on a huge conveyor belt, get sorted by machine and by hand, and then weighed and put into packages. It truly is a very efficient process and I could have watched all day!

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It was a great, eye opening trip that made me want to support these farmers and make even MORE things with blueberries! As a busy mom on the go I don’t have time for elaborate recipes, so this super easy smoothie recipe is not only fast to make, but you can take your smoothie with you anywhere.

healthy blueberry protein smoothie

Ingredients:

-1/2 c vanilla greek yogurt

-1/2 c Wish Farms blueberries

-1 scoop of your favorite vanilla protein power (I use Lean one)

-1/2 c unsweetened almond milk

-1-2 tbsp honey for desired sweetness

-ice cubes for desired thickness

healthy blueberry protein smoothie

Directions:

Add all items to a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

For updates, be sure to follow Wish Farms, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube

 

5 Delicious Dishes To Try at the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

Disclosure: I attended an event at Walt Disney World for the 25th anniversary of the flower and garden festival, however all opinions are my own.

The 25th anniversary of the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival is in full swing, and I was fortunate enough to get to taste some more delicious dishes at an event last week. (If you are not yet convinced you want to go to the festival check out my other post after reading this one!)

5 delicious dishes to try at Disney's EPCOT international flower and garden festival this year. So many outdoor kitchens for the 25th anniversary!

As I mentioned, this year marks the 25th year of the festival, and it was wonderful to get to hear from people who have been around since the beginning, and hear all about how the festival has changed over the years. Fun fact: Did you know that an artist used two cast members to “model” as Anna and Elsa in order to design the topiary for their characters? The poses we see are ones the girls came up with. How fun is that?!)

EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

Ok, so let’s get down to business. Like I said, I had the opportunity to try more of the festival offerings at the outdoor kitchens, and these are my (and Bobby’s, he added in one!) collective favorites from our sampling at the event:

1.) Spicy hot dog with pineapple chutney and plantain chips from the Pineapple Promenade. This is a fun twist on an old favorite, but be warned, it is quite spicy, so if that is not your thing, you may want to skip this one. I do love how the chips gave it a nice crunch!

EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

 

2.) Local wildflower honey-mascarpone cheesecake with orange blossom honey ice cream garnished with fennel pollen meringue kisses from The Honey Bee-Stro: This dessert was DELICIOUS and I may have had two. The cheesecake was so creamy and light, and the ice cream tasted amazing. I even loved the meringue kisses and I’m typically not a meringue kind of gal. Do not miss this one.

EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

3.) Pulled pig slider with coleslaw from The Smokehouse: This was probably my favorite non-dessert food that I tried. It had excellent flavor, and don’t worry, you can get it without the coleslaw! 

EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

4.) Spicy blackened shrimp and cheddar cheese grits with brown gravy and local sweet corn relish from Florida Fresh: This is one of Bobby’s contributions since I don’t eat seafood, but I did try the corn and grits with gravy and they were good! Bobby said the shrimp tasted fresh and we both said the corn/gravy had a little kick to it but it wasn’t unbearably spicy.

EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

5.) House-made potato and cheddar cheese biscuit with smokes salmon tartare from Cider House: Another one that was all Bobby, but he said he enjoyed the mix of the flavors of the biscuit and the salmon together. I tried one of the biscuits and it was delicious enough just to eat by itself!

EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

There are so many more things to taste at the outdoor kitchens, this is just a sampling. The flower and garden festival is bigger than ever and running longer than ever, and they have pulled out all the stops for the 25th anniversary. Be sure to make a visit before it’s gone May 28th. You can thank me later!

Clearwater Uncorked 2017 Review

Disclosure: I attended the festival free of charge, however all opinions are my own.

The Clearwater Beach Uncorked festival takes place right on the beach next to Clearwater’s famous Pier 60. It’s a fabulous time to enjoy amazing food, drinks, and weather (December in central Florida is the best!) I had the opportunity to attend the festival for the first time, and it did not disappoint. 

Bobby and I checked in and were given media passes as well as some goodies before meeting up for a special presentation. The weather was PERFECT and I couldn’t wait to see all the fun things this day would bring.

The way the festival works is there are general admission passes and VIP passes for purchase. VIP’s get access to the tasting village at noon, while everyone else waits until 1:00. VIP’s also had access to an outdoor lounge by the pool at the Wyndham across the street. The lounge was open from 1:00-5:00, and the tasting village was open until 4:00. Media got to sneak in early before the madness and take some photos and here all about chocolates and desserts.

We toasted to the festival with the most adorable bottles of champagne.

And were treated to the most delicious chocolates I have ever tasted from Norman Love. (My favorite was the almond and chocolate one, I’m trying to figure out how to get my hands on more as we speak!)

We also heard from Norman himself.

Cake pops were also had by all (red velvet was delicious!)

After the dessert indulgence, it was time for us to work backwards and start tasting all the food and beverages in the tent.

There were so many options we really didn’t know where to start! Everyone was so friendly and answered all of our questions.

When I saw someone handing these bad boys out, I was so pumped. What a perfect invention! It was hard to eat and hold your drink at the same time, so, problem solved!

After awhile we decided to head over to the outdoor VIP lounge at the Wyndham across the street.

Patron popsicles? Yes please! I may have had more than one…

Again, so many options, and generous portions and as many seconds (or thirds) as you wanted!

Again, the weather was so perfect and the location was on point, and we couldn’t have asked for a better day with great food and great (and some new!) friends.

My only wish would be that it was open longer! I didn’t get a chance to visit all the booths because there were just too many and we only had four hours. I vote for opening an hour early next year. That would be my only criticism. 🙂

If you have the chance to go to Clearwater Uncorked next year, I would highly recommend it, totally worth the money. I have gone to a lot of events in the short year I have been in Tampa, but this one is near, if not at the top of the list!

To see more photos from the event search hashtags #UncorkedWeekend and #CLBU17. Fair warning, it will make you hungry!

Blog to Business at Food and Wine Conference

Good morning! I have some fun news to share today. I will be speaking on a panel at the amazing Food and Wine conference next month in Orlando, Florida!

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I am super excited, as it has been awhile since I have attended and spoken at a blog conference. I love that I live in a place now where I don’t have to travel far to attend fun things like this!

My session will be on Sunday, and you can check out my speaker bio here. The panel I am speaking on will be discussing turning your blog into a business, and how to handle/balance it all with everything else going on in life. I will be speaking with three other great influencers, and I can’t wait to share my journey!

If you are looking to attend the conference, you can still sign up.

Why would you want to sign up? Well, first of all, because it is being hosted at the gorgeous Rosen Shingle Creek resort in sunny Orlando, Florida.

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I mean how gorgeous is this place?

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There are going to be some GREAT sessions with awesome speakers, I am already planning out who and what I want to see. Also of course, don’t forget about the amazing FOOD that will be there! I can’t wait to share my experience with you through social media, but I do hope some of you will sign up and join me at the conference!

QOTD: Have you ever attended a conference like this?

Tampa Tuesdays: Valspar Championship 2017

A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend the Valspar championship and a media event at Innisbrook here in Florida. Being new to the area, I had not yet had a chance to visit here, and was excited to go. A few bloggers were selected to attend a foodie event during the tournament, and I wanted to share my experience with you from that, as well as the Toby Keith concert we attended the next night on the driving range!

When the bloggers all arrived at the event, we were lead through the tournament towards the Grape and Grain. I had not been to a PGA tournament in many years, so it was fun to see everything as we walked through.

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At Grape and Grain, celebrity chef Ming Tsai was doing a cooking demonstration. After the demonstration, he chatted with us bloggers, answered questions, and we got to taste some of his food. He was super personable and easy to talk with, and took photos with all the bloggers. What a special treat to have him at the tournament!

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Afterwards, we got to walk around a little bit. Valspar had some really cool decorations scattered about. I especially loved the chandelier and flower centerpieces!

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We were then treated to a special lunch outside. Did you know that you do NOT have to be a member at Innisbrook to eat at the restaurant? I HIGHLY recommend you check it out. All of the food was SO amazing. We even got to chat with the chef!

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We had flatbread, lamb, chicken wings, shrimp, as well as many other things to sample.

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Everything tasted so fresh. I can’t wait to bring my husband back here I know he will love it!

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After lunch, we relaxed for a few minutes out on the gorgeous deck overlooking the course while sipping on watermelon drinks. So light and refreshing on a warm day!

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The next afternoon, my husband and I headed back to Innisbrook to see the end of the day’s play of the tournament and attend the Toby Keith concert. We really enjoyed the concert but were bummed it started much alter than anticipated. We didn’t get to stay for the whole thing because we had to go back to pick up our toddler.

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toby

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All in all a great weekend with great weather. They really know how to do a golf tournament! Everything was very well done from the food to the course to the entertainment and volunteers. I’m sure we will be back!

QOTD: Have you ever attended a PGA golf tournament?

Disclosure: I was provided tickets to the tournament as well as a day as media in exchange for my honest thoughts. However, all opinions are my own.

EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

Last week, Amanda and I visited Walt Disney World to wander around at EPCOT’S International Flower and Garden Festival. This yearly festival runs from March 1st until May 29th, and has food, fun, and of course…flowers!

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A few years ago, the festival introduced “outdoor kitchens” taking advantage of the popularity of vacationers loving to try snack sized portions of food, which is a genius idea. There are 15 kitchens spread around the world showcase, two of them being newcomers this spring for the 24th year of the festival. You can use snack credits for many items as part of the Disney dining plan, and you can even pre purchase an adorable gift card that can be used as you eat around the world.

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Don’t forget about the Garden Rocks concert series. These mini concerts will get you movin’ and shakin’ along with the music at the America Gardens Theatre. You can check out the full concert lineup here, as well as information on dining packages.

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There are also tons of adorable topiaries, exhibits, and gardens to see during your visit to EPCOT. With 13 topiaries sprinkled around the park, you are bound to get a few great photos with some of your favorite Disney characters in plant and flower form.

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A favorite of mine were the kid play areas. I know my daughter is going to flip when she sees these when we go back in April.

Be sure you don’t miss the bonsai and butterfly exhibits either, they are great for learning and teaching your kids, as well as just plain cool.

flower and garden

The festival center also has special weekend events for you to check out, and you can also sign up for special tours and events going on during this time, like the like the Royal tea garden tour. It looks super fun! Of course there is also tons of fun merchandise to purchase as well to commemorate this special occasion. You can find several booths selling everything from t-shirts to  mugs to garden essentials.

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Spring time is a great time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort, so be sure when you do, that you block off plenty of time to spend in beautiful EPCOT at the International Flower and Garden Festival.

QOTD: Have you ever visited Walt Disney World during this time? What is your favorite thing about the festival?

Tampa Tuesdays: Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens

It’s officially spring, and that means it’s time for the Food and Wine festival at Busch Gardens! I was invited to a media event a couple of weeks ago to check out some of the amazing food offerings, and wanted to share them with you for Tampa Tuesdays.

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When we arrived at Busch Gardens, we were immediately greeted by an adorable topiary, and of course some wine!

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There was food, music, drinks, and some friendly faces.

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Servers passed around some of the offerings, while others were found at the food booths just as you would find them in the parks during the festival. The bacon macaroni and cheese was my favorite, hands down! This was just one of the many offerings at the 13 food cabins, 65+ fine wines and 70+ craft beers!

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However the duck fat truffle fries were a close second.

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Each cabin had a menu board with the food and drinks available as well as prices. Some even had pictures which I found very helpful.

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The president of Busch Gardens, Stewart Clark, spoke a few words, and it was fun to see the excitement he had for the event.

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Megan and I had to try out more wine, of course.

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Bobby tried the lobster tart.

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Then I found the frozen sangria and the mango margarita. Both were amazing, and I may have had more than one! (pictured here with shrimp and grits.)

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One of the new pavilions is called “cooking with Coke”, and I really enjoyed the pulled pork sliders with Coca-Cola® Cherry BBQ sauce.

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Mango margarita pictured below.

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No lie, after I took the below photo, a bird swooped down and stole my Key Lime Berry Parfait Mousse with churro. How rude! Also pictured are scallops and lamb chops with tabouleh. The scallops were Bobby’s favorite of the evening.

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I may have had another plate of the bacon mac and cheese. It’s THAT good.

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Something else we got to do that you can also do if you come to Busch Gardens (for a fee) is pet and feed kangaroos. It was so cool! They ate out of these little cups and were super friendly. It made my night!

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At the end of the night, we were sufficiently stuffed, and couldn’t wait to try more food at the Food and Wine Festival when it opened the next day! We haven’t been back yet, but we plan to do so soon.

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Don’t forget that in addition to the amazing food offerings, there is an awesome concert line up including names like the Band Perry, Newsboys, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also plenty of upgrades you can purchase to make your visit even sweeter. There are festival samplers starting at $29.99, and VIP packages starting at $24.99.

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A huge thank you to Busch Gardens for the invite. This is such a fun festival that’s great for the whole family! You can experience the festival for yourself on weekends through April 30th. Concerts start at 7:00 pm. For more info be sure to check out the event FAQ page.

QOTD: Have you ever attended the Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens? What dish looks the best to you?

*Disclosure: I was provided free entrance into this special event as media, however all opinions are my own.

The winner of my Cabot giveaway is Susan Smith! Susan, be sure to email me at [email protected] You can check out the rafflecoptor widget in the original post to see the winner into.

Tampa Tuesdays: Cooking With Cabot + A Giveaway

It’s time for another Tampa Tuesday post! As stated when I started these, not all posts would be specifically about Tampa, but would include things I do and experience in the surrounding areas. Today is one of those days, as I talk to you about a special Cabot Cheese event I attended in Orlando a couple of weeks ago. When I arrived at the beautiful East End Market in Orlando and headed upstairs to the APEX room, I was greeted and immediately pointed towards a delicious looking create your own parfait bar, Olde Hearth Bread Company muffins, Lineage Coffee Roasting coffee, Divine Chocolate,  Florida Milk, and all the Cabot cheese I could eat. Yes please!

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We ate breakfast, got to know each other, and just had a nice relaxing few minutes to hang out before we were introduced to some of the Cabot team.

One of my favorite things we discussed was the department of gratitude. Did you know that Cabot uses reward programs to thank those that do goof. You can log your volunteer time for different events . It’s pretty cool!

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We then got to meet our awesome demo chef for the day, Jimmy. I particularly liked him because he grew up in Mississippi. We all huddled into the kitchen and watched him make some delicious food! First up was cornbread. Now we are speaking my language! This southern girl was fascinated by the fact he put sweet potatoes in the cornbread! Of course we all got to taste before moving on to the next thing.

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Anyone who knows me well knows that mac and cheese is one of my favorite things ever. This one definitely did not disappoint. You can check out the recipe here.

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Jimmy also showed us how to make taco shells out of cheese. I will for sure be trying this out. They were so easy to do and delicious. I may have eaten a shell by itself. Don’t judge me.

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After all the cooking (well, Jimmy cooking!) we did a little self care with Candace. She talked to us about stretching, and taking time for ourselves. She knows we are on the computer a lot as bloggers, and we need to MOVE! So we did just that with these fun drumsticks. Candace is so passionate about healthy living, it was fun to hear a like minded fitness lover talk to us!

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Soon it was time for lunch, which was such a treat. As if we hadn’t eaten enough already, we were brought outside to enjoy the courtyard and beautifully decorated tables.

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I may have found a new favorite thing: Lemonade with lavender. It was so light and refreshing, I may have had two glasses.

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The rest of the food did not disappoint either, and hit the spot! We had grilled cheese sandwiches by La Femme du Fromage made with Cabot cheese of course, Houndstooth Sauce Company’s tomato basil soup, salad with apple slices, and the Skyebird lavender lemonade.

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We even were “treated” to an adorable and rich dessert from Gideon’s Bakehouse: Pistachio Toffee Dark Chocolate cookies. So amazing. Then we headed back inside for our competition.

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My friends know I am one of the most competitive people alive, and so of course this was no exception. We were divided into teams (my team was called “seriously sharp”,) and given a basket full of goodies and told to create a cheeseboard. The best board would win a prize, so we went straight to work. (We only had 30 minutes!) We decided on a Valentine’s Day theme and just kind of went with it. I may or may not have used my fingernails to cut out hearts from cheese. It was totally worth it, because…we won! Isn’t our board beautiful?!?

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The winning team with Candace.

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We all said our goodbyes and were given a great goody bag (as well as one to pass on to someone else). It was overall a great day, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to learn more about Cabot, meet amazing bloggers, and just generally connect with more people in my new state. A huge thank you to Cabot, Isabel and Sunday Supper, and everyone else who helped with the event!

Cabot, being so generous, offered to host a giveaway on my blog! One lucky reader will receive this box as seen below. This is their legacy gift box, and it’s amazing! To enter, please follow the instructions below. Winner will be selected Monday March 20th and announced on the blog next Tuesday. Good luck!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway