Friday, January 28, 2011

Get Fit - Outdoor Ice Skating

Inspired by the recent wintery weather, the GWG decided to try ice skating as a fun and festive physical activity. We’d heard about Winterfest in Raleigh—an outdoor natural ice rink located in City Plaza—and made the trip to check it out.

The location in the middle of downtown Raleigh provides a nice backdrop and is convenient to local shops and restaurants—however, the rink is surrounded by construction on two sides. Let us also warn you, this is no Rockefeller Center—we were both surprised by the small size of the skating area.

We arrived around lunchtime and joined a small crowd of families enjoying a leisurely ride around the rink—a couple of people challenged each other to races while others were still working on their balance. Pop music playing over speakers added to the enjoyment as we circled the rink for about an hour.
Because of the small size of the rink and its patchy condition, it was a little hard to get our speed up but we did start to warm up after several laps. Using an online calorie calculator, we estimate that based on our size we each burned about 250-300 calories.

Once we’d had our fill of going around in circles, we decided to warm up and headed across the street to Starbucks. Keeping with our new healthy theme, we each selected lighter beverages—one a tall Skinny Vanilla Latte (90 calories) and the other a grande Chai Tea Latte (240 calories). It may have cancelled out our exercise, but it was a nice way to wrap up our chilly afternoon activity.
If you’d like to try out Raleigh’s own outdoor ice skating rink, this season’s schedule ends after this weekend. The cost is $8.00 per person and includes skate rental.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Lighter Side of Tyler's

Going forward with our blog and its new emphasis on good habits, we weren’t quite sure where to go for our first healthy post. We decided to revisit a place we enjoyed last year but with a goal to find the lower calorie options on the menu—and with the hopes that we could still come away with a good taste in our mouths. So we found ourselves at Tyler’s Restaurant & Taproom in American Tobacco— our previous visit left us satisfied after sharing a plate of Carolina Nachos, soft pretzels and a couple rounds of beer. Could we enjoy a guilt-free beer and appetizer?

This time we had to look a little harder on the menu to find what we were looking for—most people probably don’t go to Tyler’s to count calories and there aren’t tons of options for people that do. We were hoping to get a beer so we started by asking for the light options—unfortunately the only choices were the standard US big box varieties, --Miller, Bud, Amstel or Corona. We can enjoy those beverages on any occasion, so decided we could pass this time around (we’d hoped some of the local microbrews would include lighter options, but our waitress and the menu did not make it seem that way).
For an appetizer we opted for the hummus & pimento cheese plate. We had a feeling the pimento cheese took this semi-healthy appetizer to the unhealthy side but it didn’t occur to us until it was on the table that maybe we could have ordered hummus only. With warm pitas, carrots and celery for dipping, this dish was a great way to kick our taste buds into gear—the hummus had great flavor and was more tasty than expected. Surprisingly, we did not finish the dish before our meals came allowing us to pack up calories for a later time.
For the first time in GWG history, one of us ordered a salad—the Blackened Salmon Salad with chilled salmon, field greens, grated Parmesan and a side of spicy mustard vinaigrette. This dish has a lot of flavor—the fish is coated in spices and was quite peppery in certain bites. The hot spices worked well with the sweet and tangy dressing, but at times there was a bit of flavor overload and a few pieces of the salmon were chewy. Overall, it was a decent dish and came in a heaping quantity (ordered with the dressing on the side to limit calories).
Enticed by brie cheese, the other GWG ordered the grilled chicken wrap lunch special complete with candied walnuts and a pomegranate dressing. The best part of the wrap was the wrap itself--perfectly moist and able to hold all the food in while being eaten. However, if not a brie lover, it’s probably best to steer clear as that was the standout flavor. Although satisfying for the GWG, the chicken was barely noticeable, there was only an occasional crunch from the candied walnuts, and the pomegranate dressing was practically non-existent. This GWG (a brie lover) isn’t complaining and finished the full wrap but is hesitant to recommend to all.

At the end of the meal, we were both very pleased with the lighter options and enjoyed not feeling tired and overly full. That being said, Tyler’s is probably best enjoyed when you go for the grease and swallow it down with beer.

We must also admit that we don’t specifically know the calorie content in the dishes we chose, but we at least know they are healthier choices than we’ve made before. We attempted to use online calculators to estimate the calories and nutritional content, but even those seem inconsistent. Without asking the restaurant for details about the way food is prepared and all the ingredients, it becomes almost impossible to be certain what you have consumed. Unfortunately restaurants don’t make it that easy and we hate to become those people that overanalyze every detail of their food—that might be something we have to get over to find the truth.

Exercise activities for the week: swimming, running, zumba

Friday, January 14, 2011

Healthy Habits 2011

It’s hard to believe Girls with Guts celebrates its first birthday this month--we had a great year stuffing ourselves to maximum capacity, meeting fellow foodies and exploring Durham (and the surrounding area) via many of its great restaurants.

With one year under our tightening belts, we thought it might be time to loosen them a bit and decided on a new challenge for the new year. In other words, a healthier (gasp!) approach to the blog.

2011 will bring more restaurant write-ups--however, instead of eating the largest or most calorie-laden item on the menu, we’d like to find something satisfying AND healthy. We still want to enjoy the restaurants we’ve come to love and crave, but in a way that won’t require a marathon to burn off. We also hope to find substitutes or modifications for some of those food temptations that we all fight.

In addition, GWG will seek out new physical challenges to mix up the workout routines we’ve already established. We plan to share highlights from our exercise exploits to encourage others to earn their calories, an aspect of our lives we haven’t touched on before.

We are both food-lovers to the highest degree and have always embraced that proudly. This is not an attempt to suppress our inner foodie, but to move forward with more control and moderation. Some people may not consider this to be a challenge in the same sense, but we believe it will prove much harder than our first year of open ended gluttony.

We hope that our readers will follow along for this next chapter of Girls with Guts.