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Protein Bar

9 Nov

Protein Bar, a quick/casual restaurant that offers healthy, high-protein  meals passed the test for me earlier this week.  Currently, there are eight locations in Chicago and one in DC with another on the way in the District and another still in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington, VA (very close to my home base.)  The ambiance was pretty slick and chic and the customer service was top-notch.  Our cashier offered suggestions and allowed us to tweak our items to exactly our liking.  For an area like DC full of active and busy people, Protein Bar is a perfect fit.

So the idea of this place, the interior, and customer service is great.  What about the food, Carrie?!  Here’s a look at their menu offerings which, yes, are quite tasty!  I was craving some keen-wah (properly spelled quinoa-Who just learned how to say that word?) and a smoothie.

I decided on the Spinach & Pesto bowl which includes all-natural chicken, organic quinoa, spinach, basil pesto, and shredded parmesan cheese.  The nutritionals?  Here they are: 371 calories, 21 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 805 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 35 g protein.

In addition to the bowl, they had a special, seasonal smoothie that called to my inner pumpkin obsession.  While a 12 oz was fairly pricey (about $5),  I really enjoyed the combination of pumpkin puree, organic quinoa, almond milk, vanilla protein, pumpkin spice,  and pepitas.  For the 12 oz Pump-Quinoa treat, you are taking in 210 calories, 3.5 g fat,  .5 g saturated fat, 85 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 20 g sugar, and 18 g protein.

I’ve never had quinoa in a smoothie before!  I really enjoyed it and all this quinoa in my meal makes me want to have it more often.  This whole meal yielded me 53 g protein.  I was satisfied for a number of hours after it and plan to try more Protein Bar items when the Ballston location opens up.  Go visit Protein Bar in Penn Quarter at corner of  7th & D soon!  Have a great weekend all.

Greek Deli DC

8 Oct

Greek Deli on 19th Street NW in DC is lunch spot where you can expect a line every day of the week.  The line is indicative of just how amazing and authentic the greek cuisine offered there is.  Kostas Fostieris is the Chef and Owner of this gem of an establishment.  The man loves food and his customers and you can taste it in every bite in every dish you grab from there.  The gyro, the sides, the meatballs- I’ve not come across a single item that wasn’t extremely satisfying.

Last week I went on a little progressive eating outting with some co-workers.  First stop was Pinkberry for the last free greek yogurt Wednesday of a month or so long promotion.  I had a pretty decent turkey and avocado sandwich waiting for me at the office, but once co-workers suggested Greek Deli for lunch it wasn’t long before just walking with them to GD turned into just getting a side turned into getting the Wednesday meatball special (authentic greek meatballs with lemon and white wine sauce and a side of greek salad).  As I stood in line, I began to snap a few photos with the intention of writing about GD.  Next thing you know Kostas and his staff starting chanting about “Paparazzi!!!” and Kostas was around the front of the counter asking to take photos with us.  How fun!  I am such a fan of our friendly neighborhood Greek lunch spot 🙂  If you work around the Farragut West area and have not had Greek Deli, you know what needs to happen for lunch one day this week.  

If I Had to Pick a Favorite Food…

22 Aug

…it’d be Vietnamese!  I’ve had some friends and followers ask what foods I love most.  It is tough tough tough to choose the top favorite, but when it comes down to it my head goes to Vietnamese.  I think this is for two reasons: 1) it’s just amazingly delicious and 2) my family and I used to go out for it a lot when I was growing up so it’s tied to memories as well.  In fact, my mom went into labor with my brother there in January of 1996…a few hours before the blizzard of ’96 snowed in the metro DC area.  They had to spend a number of additional days at the hospital because they were literally snowed in!  Our Vietnamese spot is called Saigon Cafe in Sterling, VA.

The photo above features Grilled Beef with Rice Noodle (grilled beef, carrots, cucumber, crushed peanuts, rice noodles, and fish sauce) and Spicy Saigon Vegetables.  Below is a pic of Vietnamese Spring Rolls (rice paper wrapping, rice noodles, pork, and shrimp) with peanut dipping sauce.  Some other favorites (not pictured) are Fried Spring Rolls and Chicken with Sweet Basil.  I always think of Vietnamese as lighter, fresher asian food as compared to Chinese.  If you haven’t tried before, pleaseeeeee do!

The Art of the Salad

6 Aug

Salads seems easy enough and they are but with a little finesse they are all the better.  Do you ever wonder why restaurants seem to offer salads that are more delicious than what you can whip up at home?  There are several key elements to make a salad as good as it can be.  Here are a few things to keep in mind to move closer to those restaurant caliber salads:

  1. Include several different tastes.  Strive for the inclusion of a combo that includes a variety of hits to the palette: sour, sweet, salty, and bitter.
  2. Balance textures.  Several mushy ingredients like soft cheese, tomato, and avocado are not what makes a fabulous salad.  I mean where is the crunch?!  Raw veggies, croutons or crushed pita chips, nuts etc. really liven up your salad.
  3. Start with a protein item and build out a salad based on what’s in for the season and hitting your points above (tastes/textures).  
  4. Consider getting in a number of your necessary nutrients by adding various colors of fruits/veggies.

Here are some salads that I love that meet the mark on the perfect balanced salad.

Brown Bag’s Roasted Chicken Salad (my favorite). Mixed Greens, chicken, Craisins, dates, sugared pecans, tomatoes, goat cheese and lime-cilantro vinaigrette.

Wiinkys Hawaiian Salad. Teriyaki chicken, romaine lettuce, red cabbage, pineapple, and peanuts.

Astor Mediterranean’s Greek Salad with Gyro or Chicken Kabob.  Romaine, mixed greens, red cabbage, carrot, cucumber, tomato, feta, kalamata olives, grape leaves, beets and pepperocini with house vinaigrette.

Seasons 52: Eating Out Never Felt So Un-fat

31 Jul

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Seasons 52 is known as a fresh grill and wine bar offering flavorful dishes that change seasonally.  Additionally, all dishes come in at under 475 calories!  We tried it for the first time a few weeks ago at the location in Tysons Corner Mall.  My oh my were our expectations blown out of the water.  The clean and casual meets refined atmosphere, the polished and friendly restaurant staff, and truly scrumptious yet healthy food offerings.  Of course, we were seeing The Dark Night Rises after dinner and the popcorn, candy, and Coke splurge was already planned rendering our healthy meal ruined HA.  In any case, you must try Seasons 52 and if Kristine is serving, you want her.  She was an absolute pleasure- the kind of waitress that you will talk about like I am now because she was so great.

The slideshow above showcases our meal experience including starter and entrees.  We were offered dessert at the end which includes a number of  choices from Season 52’s “Mini Indulgences” menu.  I had to snap a photo at the very least!  We had a little back and forth going on the appetizer choice having already chosen our entree selections.  My main dish choice was the Wood-Roasted Pork Tenderloin accompanied by herb polenta, cremini mushrooms, broccoli, and a shallot Dijon glaze.  I love me some polenta!  Bryan had a craving for the Roasted Artichoke-Stuffed Shrimp including wilted leaf spinach, pasta pearls, and a clam cioppino sauce.  We knew we wanted to try flatbread to start since our friend, Fahad, highly recommended it.  The trouble was that both of our top choices featured some of the same main ingredients in our entrees.   What a conundrum! Would it be Spicy Chipotle Shrimp with grilled pineapple, feta cheese, and roasted poblano peppers or Steak and Cremini Mushroom with fresh spinach and blue cheese crumbles.  Ultimately, we asked the waitress for her input and she quickly offered that Spicy Chipotle Shrimp was the way to go.  This means I won :P.  All kidding aside, we both won in the end because this whole dinner experience was superior to many other dinner outtings we’d had in the past.  We look forward to trying the next seasonal menu they have to offer.  There you have it- a glowing recommendation for Seasons 52!

Saturday Breakfast of Champions: District Taco

21 Jul

I love those on a whim delicious meals and was fortunate to start my day with one today.  I had to get some routine car maintenance this morning so B followed me to drop my car at Midas for the day.  On the way back, Bryan was telling me about this highly Yelp rated taco/burrito spot down Columbia Pike he had heard of.  I explained I was down to try it sometime, but my head (and stomach) jumped elsewhere.  It landed on breakfast tacos from District Taco.  On Saturdays from 8 am – noon in the Courthouse neighborhood of Arlington there is a great farmers market featuring around 30 vendors.  Fresh produce, dairy, meats, among other food items are sold there.  Admittedly, we’ve gone by it a number of times just never bought anything or have a solid perusal.  We still didn’t purchase anything today either.  Oops.  The mission was to obtain breakfast tacos after all!  District Taco comes to the farmers market each week offering up corn or flour tortilla breakfast tacos as well as burritos from their traveling food cart.  I already know how ENAMORED I am by District Taco for lunch or dinner.  They have a freestanding location in North Arlington (the one we frequent), a location in NW DC, and the traveling food cart.  I like to think of DT as a fresher, more authentic Chipotle.  Each day DT makes everything from scratch.  Looooove.  I’ll share those food porn pics another day not to worry!

For $5, I got 2 breakfast tacos in corn tortillas as I feel corn trumps flour any day of the week.  Here is the nitty gritty on the contents of my tacos:

  1. Egg, cheese, chorizo sausage, pico de gallo, and guacamole
  2. Egg whites, bacon, fresh jalapeno, pico de gallo, and pinto beans

To make this breakfast even more champion-like, I paired it with a Starbucks Iced Skinny Caramel Macchiato.  I think I could bang out a do over like right now actually.  If you are an Arlington/DC resident or ya know what just let’s get really real here… a DC metro area resident/commuter, you are cheating yourself if you don’t find a way to try District Taco.  My name is Carrie Bean and I approve this message.

Pinkberry’s Greek Goodness

19 Jun

Recently, I grabbed Pinkberry fro yo as an afternoon snack during a particularly busy work week.  I don’t walk out of Pinkberry with less than a huge smile ever, but this time I was even happier because I got a voucher for a complimentary snack-sized Greek Goodness.  This is Pinkberry expanding its menu to include frozen as well as unfrozen yogurt.  Greek Goodness is the name for Pinkberry’s new greek yogurt menu items.  Honestly, had I not received this voucher I’d likely continue to go back to Pinkberry for their Salted Caramel, Original, or Pomegranate fro yo and toppings for the rest of time.  I’m thrilled I did though.  As you can see from the photo above, these greek yogurt creations come in sweet and savory varieties.  They also come in 2 sizes- snack and meal.  I chose the Kiwi concoction.  This included the greek yogurt, sliced kiwi, fresh strawberries, and mango as well as a lowfat honey almond granola and vanilla agave.  I think life started when I tried this agave.  Oh my goooooooosh.  I know it is often used in recipes to substitute for honey and is actually sweeter, but I don’t know why I’ve never tried it.  Kicking myself.  Overall, this greek yogurt snack was awesome.  It was reasonable too at 190 calories/ 2.5 g fat/ 19 g sugar (not much different than flavored Chobani greek yogurt per a frame of reference)/14 g protein.   You must give it a try!  It is offered with some degree of exclusivity however as Massachusetts, DC Metro area, and Southern California locations are the only spots that feature it currently.  Another plus for my DC friends to know is that our locations are open at 8 am to serve breakfast. That includes all DC, Maryland, and Virginia locations.  I suggest grabbing a meal size to kick off your day!  I know I’ll be doing that one day on my way to the metro.  Happy to have found a new summery snack and to have discovered this love of agave nectar.  Double win.  I’ll close with a photo of my snack-sized Kiwi Greek Goodness: