How to Eat Healthy When Dining Out: Choice Eats 2013 Best New York City Restaurants

Hungry Runner was born out of my love for both food and fitness. Being passionate about both is tough sometimes. Of course I’d love to eat mac-and-cheese-topped hot dogs every day, but I know such a meal wouldn’t provide my body with what it needs to fuel a six-mile run or a Tabata workout at the gym. (Darn!)

So what’s a foodie to do? And how can we all enjoy the outstanding (and sometimes downright, over-the-top decadent) dishes that so many restaurant chefs have to offer while still maintaining a wholesome diet? Well, it might not be an easy feat to conquer, but I learned a lot about food and some great New York City restaurants at the Village Voice Choice Eats event last night and I’ve got some answers for you!

Rule Number 1: Maintain a whole-foods, clean eating diet on a consistent, daily basis.

I know, right now you’re like, “But that has nothing to do with eating out.” But actually… Yes, yes it does. For example, yesterday I made banana oatmeal for breakfast, ate some nuts for a mid-morning snack, had some Split Red Lentil Veggie Chili (that I had prepped earlier in the week) for lunch, and then a blueberry smoothie after my workout, all in anticipation of letting myself indulge at Choice Eats later on in the day. So what I’m saying is, if you eat cleanly and treat your body right for the majority of your meals, it’s less detrimental to let yourself indulge and stray from your typical diet when dining out.

Best Choice Eats Over-the-Top Indulgence: Mac-and-cheese-topped hot dog, AKA a “Ditch Dog,” from Ditch Plains.

This was the first thing I sampled at Choice Eats. I was looking forward to checking out Ditch Plains for the sea food side of their menu, but when I saw this at their booth I was like, “Ohhh, I knew there was a reason I’d love this place.” This creation reminds me of being in high school and just eating whatever the heck you want, whenever the heck you want. While we can’t all do that forever (sad face), there’s certainly an occasional, every-now-and-then time for it. So when the opportunity arises, let your inner seventeen-year-old seize and enjoy the moment!

Rule Number 2: Order a side of veggies.

“Eat your veggies!” I sound like your mom. Or if you are a mom, I sound like you, talking to your kids. Whatever the case, you know moms are always right (just admit it already), and therefore I am right too. Whenever you have the choice, try swapping the typical side of french fries with some vegetables. This probably won’t be offered to you, so you’ll have to ask and everyone else at the table might roll their eyes at you, but who cares. They’re just jealous that you’re so awesome and healthy. Vegetables are nutrient dense but low in calories, and they are typically high in fiber, which means they will keep you feeling fuller and more satisfied for longer. Oh! And if you want to be extra, super healthy, order an entirely vegetable-centered dish.

Best Choice Eats Use of Vegetables: Tomato Cake from Dirt Candy.

Dirt Candy is a vegetarian restaurant, so if you decide to eat here (you’ll need to make a reservation waaaay ahead of time), you have no choice but to eat your veggies. The tomato cake was made with smoked feta cheese in tomato leather topped with tomato and a basil vinaigrette. This is a super popular restaurant in New York City right now, and after tasting this, I completely understand why. Amanda Cohen, the owner and head chef, isn’t so much into veggies for their health benefits nor is she a vegetarian herself, but her menu is totally turning more people on to vegetables (they can taste good!) and I’m so down with that!

Rule number 3: Do your research.

Explore new eateries! Use the Internet (such a cool new invention!) and tools like Romio or Yelp to find out about different restaurants and what they have to offer. Keep an eye out for businesses that place an emphasis on using fresh, local produce and whole food ingredients. These types of restaurants are much more likely to truly care about the quality of the food they’ll serve you and there’s a greater chance of knowing exactly how your meal will be prepared. Also, take a look at the menu online before you go. Weigh out your options and pinpoint a few of the healthier dishes so you have an idea of what you’re going to order and won’t be tempted to stray towards the less-healthy dishes.

Best Choice Eats Use of Local Produce: “Ooey Gooey” Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream from Ample Hills Creamery.

Of course, Ice Cream isn’t the most wholesome of foods. But, like I’ve said in the past, there’s food that’s good for the body, and there’s food that’s good for the soul. As far as I’m concerned, you need both to be healthy and have a healthy relationship with food. And ice cream is definitely good for the soul. Especially ice cream like the kind you’ll find at Ample Hills. The kind that uses homemade ingredients and fresh dairy products. No icky food additives or artificial ingredients here!

-Runners up for Best use of Local Produce-

Thirty Acres

Try their Red Wine Egg (Healthiest dish I found at Choice Eats!)

Ruler number 4: Try new things.

Just because you’ve never heard of it before, doesn’t mean you won’t like it. I’m actually totally guilty of ordering the same dishes at the same restaurants time and time again. Which is fine sometimes. We all love our favorite foods. But come on, branch out! Add some variety to your diet! Don’t let the unknown (and maybe sometimes exotic) name of a healthier dish deter you from giving it a shot. If you’re not sure, ask the waiter or waitress, chances are they know a thing or two about the menu and can give you an honest, first hand opinion.

Best Choice Eats Use of Alternative Foods: The Farro Walnut “Burger” from Del Posto.

I had never heard of farro (which is a whole grain) until trying this wonderful little faux “burger” from Del Posto last night. Turns out, when you mix it with it chick peas, caramelized onions, and walnuts to create a meat-less version of a good old, American hamburger, it’s pretty darn good! Del Posto is a classic Italian restaurant, and this particular item isn’t on their menu, but I’m just saying, it totally should be 😉

Rule Number 5: Avoid “Clean Plate Syndrome”

Confession: I totally suffer from Clean Plate Syndrome. When good food is placed in front of me, I want to eat it all, and I want to eat it all now. But I’m working on that, because part of maintaining truly healthy eating habits means stopping when you’re full, even if there’s more food left on your plate. Learn to practice mindful eating. Eat slowly, enjoy every bite, and listen to your body. Typically it takes the stomach about 20 minutes to get the “I’m full” message to the brain. Try eating half of your meal, taking a breather for a few minutes or so, and then finishing it only if you decide that you’re still hungry. If you’re full, ask for a take out box and enjoy the rest as leftovers the next day.

And a sub-rule of rule number 5: If you want to order dessert, exercise the same portion control caution. Eat only some of it or share it with a few others at the table.

Best Choice Eats use of Portion Control: All of the bakeries and their mini sweets!

I’m just saying, dessert should always be miniature, that way you can have a little bite of EVERYTHING! Pictured above, top left we have the “S’moregasm” from S’more Bakery. Middle left is a “Honey Chocolate Blondie” from Ovenly. Bottom left, a Strawberry Balsamic Cheesecake Bite from Bite Me Cheesecakes, and right, the cutest cupcakes you ever did see from Butter Lane. ( I tried their “Elvis” cupcake, which was a banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting… Perfection!)

-Other Awesome Things I Ate-

Best Dessert Overall: “Drunkey Monkey” Banana Cream pie from The Blue Stove.

Best Grilled Cheese: “Pop’s Original” (smoked gouda, honey mustard & tomato) from Mrs. Dorsey’s Kitchen.

Best Alternative Dessert: Rice Pudding & Fruit Compote from Liddabit Sweets.

Best Pizza: “Rotini Roll” (Tito’s vodka sauce, fresh mozz’, spicy pepperoni, and Thai basil) from Pete Zaaz.

Best Surprise Appearance from my Favorite Peanut Butter Brand: Peanut Butter & Co.

Thanks to the Village Voice for putting the event together and to all of the amazing New York City restaurants that showed up and sampled their food! Read More

Summertime Slim-Down Boot Camp Week 4 Workout

Alright! Above is our workout for Week 4 of the Summertime Slim-down Boot Camp.

This week we’re working on LEGS, so get your booty ready for a killer lower body workout!

The routine ended up being a little longer than expected so I had to split it into two videos. But not to worry, because above I’ve embedded a Youtube Playlist so that the second video with part 2 of the workout will automatically start playing when the first video is finished.

If you’re just joining the Boot Camp now, you can find our March Workout Calendar and links to the first three week’s workouts below. It’s never too late to start!

Week 1 Workout

Week 2 Workout

Week 3 Workout

Keep up the good work and remember to tag your social media updates with #HungryRunnerBootCamp!

What kind of workout would you guys like to see next week? Read More

Become a Better Runner: 4 Ways ‘Cruise Control’ Can Help you Run Farther and Faster

Most runners can agree, the best kinds of workouts are the unplanned ones. The workouts where you just gear up and go. No hopes or expectations. No mileage requirements or goal paces. Just a free run. Exercise in its most basic form.

That’s my favorite way to run anyway. Which is a major reason why I’ve totally become addicted to a new running app called Cruise Control that syncs the beat of your music to your pace.

I shared a little sneak preview of the app a few weeks back when I recapped my first run back after recovering from a cold. But even a few weeks and plenty of workouts later, what this app is capable of still totally blows my mind.

It has revived my love for really rocking out to my music while I run (one of the reasons I originally fell in love with the sport), and taught me that there’s more to good running music than crazy, upbeat, bubblegum pop. (Who knew?!) But even beyond reconnecting a runner to the idea of running for the love of it, I’ve found that the app’s four different features actually have the potential to help everyone become a better runner.

1. Running Free

The app’s “Free Run” setting is the feature of the app that will sync your music to the rhythm of your pace. It’s beneficial for a few reasons. First, it really forces you to pay attention to your pace. For example maybe Bob Marley’s Red, Red Wine is playing but it sounds super sped up. If you had meant for your workout to be a more laid back run, it could be a hint that you’re taking it a bit too fast. A subtle reminder to slow it down a little. It’s the perfect way to make sure you’re paying attention to your body and cadence, while still being able to keep your earphones in. Second, it makes almost any song appropriate for any type of workout. So you can just hit play and go. No worrying about what song might come up next or pressing the next button seventy times before you finally find that one perfect running song. (A distraction I am quite often plagued by.)

2. Pacing

The pace feature of the app allows you to pick a goal pace that you aim to stick to throughout your run, and all you need to do to make sure you’re hitting that pace is match your steps to the beat of the music. Again, this is such a ground-breaking way to use music and technology for learning how to pay more attention to your body while you run. Not only will this help you run faster by keeping you on pace (I know it sounds almost crazy that a song can keep you on pace but I tried it and it really, works), but there’s a good chance that it could also help prevent injury by keeping you in tune with your body and the way that it’s moving while you run.

3. Target Heart Rates

This feature reminds me of that Selena Gomez song. “To the beat of my… To the beat of my… To the beat of my heart.” Oh wait, sorry. That was Hilary Duff. Not the same, because Hilary Duff is so much cooler. Except for the fact that she recorded that song. Anyway, this feature allows you to pick a target heart rate and according to the Cruise Control, “as long as you match your steps to the rhythm of the music, the music will drive you to your heart rate goal.” This is such a cool concept to me. However the only downside to this feature is that you need a heart rate monitor that can connect with your iPhone. My heart rate monitor, the Polar FT60, is not iPhone compatible, so I have not tested this feature first hand. For those with the means to use the feature, it not only has the potential to help you run faster, but to also improve your overall fitness because learning to train within specific heart rate zones will increase your body’s ability to efficiently deliver oxygen and fuel to your muscles during aerobic exercises like, running.

4. Cadence & Tempo

Put simply, your cadence is the number of times that your feet hit the ground over a period of one minute while running. If you’re a super serious runner and know, for example, that for a certain workout you’d like to train at 180 SPM (steps per minute), you can use Cruise Control to pick a target stride rate and the app will adjust all of your songs to play at the same tempo. This is cool for all you math lovers out there who would really enjoy figuring out where their SPM would need to be in order to keep a certain pace and another neat tool for workouts aimed at increasing speed.

 

Aside from syncing your music, the app also uses your phone’s GPS to record your distance and route. When the workout is completed you can review a map of your route, your average pace, your overall distance, and your total time.

The app is available in the Apple iTunes store for $4.99 and, I think, well worth the money. Especially if you’re like me, and really enjoy running along to your favorite songs and playlist.

What’s a song that you love running to, that others might not typically consider a “good” running song?

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6 Restaurants I Can’t Wait to Sample at Village Voice Choice Eats 2013

Since moving to Manhattan in August, I’ve written plenty about running all around this wonderful city. But what about eating? Why haven’t I shared one word about where and what to eat in the city that never sleeps? After all, I am the Hungry Runner.

Well for one, I don’t eat out nearly as much as a normal New Yorker. Yes, I am some kind of freak. How can I even consider myself a real resident of the Big Apple? I know.

Some may say that I find way too much enjoyment in preparing my own food and packing my lunches for the sake of eating clean and healthy meals. On most Friday nights, my roommate and I make our own pizzas, and on Saturday or Sunday mornings when everyone else is at brunch I’m usually whipping up a batch of homemade pancakes. So really, that doesn’t leave much opportunity for running around town to try all of the great restaurants this city has to offer. (Really, those are all such a lame excuses though.)

However, some of that is about to change. At least the part where I never write about my favorite places to eat in New York City. (Because let’s be honest, when will I ever stop making homemade pizza on Friday night? Probably never.) On Tuesday, March 19th I’ll be heading over to The 69th Armory on Lexington to sample dishes from 50+ handpicked restaurants at The Village Voice’s 6th Annual Choice Eats event.

Well, obviously I can’t sample food from all 50 + restaurants…

Or could I…

But, I will definitely at least be sampling foods from the list of restaurants below and, as I mentioned in the title, I cannot wait!

1. Dirt Candy

Diry Candy is a vegetarian restaurant, but not just any vegetarian restaurant. According to their blog, “Dirt Candy is dedicated to one thing: cooking vegetables. For us, flavor comes first and lifestyle, health and political choices come second.” So, they’re more into the vegetarian thing for the vegetables and their flavors and less for the health benefits and lack of animals. Which, I can totally dig. But I mean, even if you’re not thinking about the health benefits of veggies, you’re still getting them when you eat a veggie-centric dish, and that’s totally good enough for me.

2. Parish Hall

Parish Hall is a Brooklyn based restaurant and their chefs want to serve you food that “expresses its place and its time.” Meaning, with their menu they are aiming to define what regional northeast cuisine looks like. Kind of like how you think of certain foods when you think of the South. They have four important points to their mission which include to “improve the soil in which we farm, improve the lives of the people we work with, make the experience of eating out transformative, and broaden access to good food to everyone.” I know not everyone is a health-food-loving freak like me, but if all that can’t sell you on this place, then I don’t know what will.

3. Pete Zaaz

One word, Pizza. No, sorry. Three words, Pizza from Brooklyn. Need I say more? Not really, but I will elaborate a little. Pete Zaaz aims to serve creative Brooklyn-style pizza using top notch ingredients like locally grown produce and homemade cheeses. OK, so maybe I was wrong before, maybe I will end up letting go of my Friday night homemade pizzas.

4. Liddabit Sweets

Okay, maybe I should just move to Brooklyn. Seems like that’s where all of the good food is at, including this gem of a candy shop. From their website: “At Liddabit, we are committed to using as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible to create fresh, delectable, responsibly made sweets for you to enjoy. Our products are delicious, unique, and made with pride. We love what we do, and we believe that you can taste the difference.” Swoon!

5. Ample Hills

Ample Hills is a creamery located in, yep you guessed it, Brooklyn. And I mean, obviously everyone is going to want to sample the ice cream (who doesn’t love ice cream, right?), but I’m more excited than everyone else because Ample Hills is dedicated to making fresh ice cream that comes from hormone-free local dairy. They claim that their dairy and eggs “are so fresh they were inside hormone-free, grass-fed, happy cows and chickens just a few days before we churned them into ice cream.” Quite frankly, that’s the way everyone should be eating all of the time. But since that’s increasingly difficult to do these days, we’ll all just have to go get some ice cream in Brooklyn. Who’s coming with?

6. Ditch Plains

Ditch Plains is a West Village oyster bar and sea shack and I’m super excited about it because the restaurant’s history and essence incorporate a few of my all-time favorite things. Like, Long Island (where I’m from!), Montauk beaches, where all of their fish is sourced from, and sea food, which if you haven’t heard, is extremely heart-healthy!

So, are you hungry yet? Yeah you are. Stay tuned because obviously I’ll have a ton more to share after the event. I can’t wait to share all of the great restaurants and foods I’m bound to come across and let you guys know where and what to eat in New York!

(*All images link back to source*)

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Empower Total Body Toning System Review + A HealthyChic.com Discount Code

A few weeks ago, I was very kindly invited to try out HealthyChic.com, an online fitness store dedicated to “offering inspiring products for a healthy body, mind and spirit.” Well, read that description again. I didn’t have to think twice before cordially RSVP-ing with a huge, I’d love to!

“I’m healthy. I’m chic. (Am I chic? Probably not, but whatever!) I should check out Healthy Chic,” I thought.

So with my $25 gift card in (electronic) hand I set out to explore HealthyChic.com. I browsed through pages of really awesome Yoga outfits, absurdly cute gym bags, and even a few different types of protein powders before deciding I wanted to order the Empower Total Body Toning System.

For one, I love trying out new exercise equipment. Plus, I have enough workout apparel to clothe an entire army division, so instead of going for yet another pair of moisture wicking compression pants (the best kind of pants, BTW!), I decided to stray from what would be a typical purchase and try out a new set of resistance bands instead. The system boasts “shock cords” that are stronger and safer than the typical resistance band tubing and it also comes with a door strap that makes it possible to do certain exercises that you normally wouldn’t be able to do with just a resistance band.

Unfortunately, for me, that door strap is the only thing that really sets the Empower System apart from any other set of resistance bands. The bands themselves are nicer and definitely more durable than a rubber tube resistance band, but that’s the only feature that really makes them any different. The system also comes with a lower body set that you can attach to your ankles but I didn’t find it at all useful because the length of the bands is much too short to allow for full range of motion for the exercises you could potentially perform with it.

However, for someone just beginning to incorporate a strength training routine into their exercise program, I think this would be a great buy (at least for the traditional resistance band portion of it), mostly because it’s totally affordable (just $15 on Healthy Chic) and because it comes with a nifty little chart that outlines 12 exercises for a total body resistance band workout. It targets all of the major muscles groups and is easy to understand and follow.

All that being said, even though I wasn’t IN LOVE with my first Healthy Chic purchase, I’m still super excited to keep browsing through so I can keep my eye out for really great finds because they offer big discounts on lots of really nice workout gear.

If you want to check it out for yourself, you can use the code BEHEALTHY10 for 10% off your first order. If you end up scoring a great deal leave me a comment below and let me know what you got and how you like it!

What’s your favorite type of workout gear to buy… Clothes, exercise equipment, accessories? Read More

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