Fitnessista’s Welcome Dinner at Season’s 52

What are a group of bloggers to do when they hear that a wonderful blogger is moving to the area?

Host a “Welcome to Orlando” dinner, naturally!

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When I got word of Gina, aka The Fitnessista’s, plans to move to Orlando from Valdosta, I was immediately excited and knew it would be a great chance for area bloggers to get together and warmly welcome her to our wonderful city.

Luckily, a bunch of fantastic bloggers were more than happy to welcome Gina and we all decided to meet at Season’s 52 to enjoy dinner and drinks last night.

The gang included (from left to right above):

Gina had the hook up at the restaurant and was able to snag us the chef’s table.

While we were waiting for our table, we enjoyed complimentary glasses of sparkling wine.

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I’m always down for a little bit o’ bubbly! 😉

After we were seated, the chef greeted us and described the amuse-bouche he created for our table.

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It was salmon served on a delicious pineapple mango salsa. Loved it! I would definitely order a much larger portion of this little sample as a meal if it was offered on the menu.

Following the amuse-bouche, our server brought out a bunch of appetizers for us to sample.

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Spicy Chipotle Shrimp Flatbread

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Edamame with Green Tea Salt

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Housemade Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli

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Grilled Artichoke Flatbread

Every single appetizer was fantastic, though my favorites were the goat cheese ravioli and the chipotle shrimp flatbread.

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I had two pieces of the shrimp flatbread, one piece of the artichoke flatbread, a large spoonful of the goat cheese ravioli and lots and lots of edamame.

Delish!

Since our dinner wasn’t until 9 p.m. I ate a little something with Ryan before arriving, so I wasn’t too hungry after my pre-dinner snack and the appetizers. When it was time to order our entrees, I opted for the chipotle grilled prawns with tomatillo salsa verde and fresh guacamole appetizer as my main meal.

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It was so, so good!

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The shrimp were perfectly seasoned and the guacamole was a tasty relief from the heat of the dish.

Then it was time for the best part of any meal…

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Dessert!

Season’s 52 offers a variety of mini dessert shots, and we decided it was best to taste them all and shared the whole spread… with one exception…

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The fresh fruit!

And we call ourselves healthy living bloggers… 😉

Fresh fruit is fantastic, but when choosing between a dessert shot of fresh fruit or carrot cake, rocky road mousse or pecan pie, there’s no competition!

Possibly my favorite part about Season’s 52 is that the restaurant concentrates on creating fresh, healthy meals. Everything on their menu has 475 calories or less which is a neat concept when you think about all the restaurants that have 1,000 + calorie dishes hidden on their menu. It takes the guessing game out of the equation.

We all agreed that our meal was delicious!

I really enjoyed chatting with these wonderful bloggers. I had a great time talking about blogging, food, fashion, Orlando and more. These are some fun girls! 😀 I can’t wait to get together again soon.

Today

It’s about time for a good workout at the gym.

Ryan and I also have plans for a date later today, which I’m awfully excited about.

See ya later, friends!

June Date Night

Ryan and I take turns planning an extra special once a month for the other person. 

This month was Ryan’s month to plan our special date and he made reservations for a fun and romantic dinner at my favorite restaurant, Season’s 52. (You may see a recap of the date I planned last month here.) 

Date Night!

I absolutely love this restaurant because they use fresh, seasonal ingredients and keep the options healthy since they do not use butter and limit the calories in every dish to 475. They rely on seasonings, herbs and spices to flavor their dishes. 

I’ve never had a meal at Season’s 52 that I haven’t loved and tonight was no different. 

Ryan and I started our meal with sushi and ordered a spicy tuna roll to share. 

Spicy Tuna Roll

It was a little too spicy for me, but I am a spice wimp. I still ate several pieces and thought it was very tasty. 

Ryan then ordered a bowl of buffalo chili which we ended up sharing as well since it was fairly large and quite filling. 

Buffalo Chili

I know it looks pretty nasty in the picture above, but that’s only because we stirred the sour cream into the mix and were nearly done eating it when I snapped the pic. The chili was served with four squares of polenta which were my favorite part about the dish. Polenta is delicious! 

Then it was time for our entrees! It took quite a while for our entrees to come out, but we really didn’t mind and enjoyed hanging out and talking together. The restaurant actually ended up comping our appetizer because of the wait which was a nice surprise. 

For my entree, I ordered the reuben flat bread, which is actually a large appetizer, but definitely enough for a meal for one person. 

Reuben Flat Bread

My Dinner

 I absolutely adore corned beef and jumped at the opportunity to order a flatbread topped with corned beef and sauerkraut. It was fantastic! The flat bread was crisp and thin, and the corned beef was perfectly salty and moist. 

Dessert 

Of course we saved room for dessert! 

Ryan and I each selected a “mini indulgence” to enjoy. 

Peanut butter and chocolate mousse for me, pecan pie for him. 

His & Hers

PB & Choc Mousse

In the time that it took you to scroll past the above two pictures, our dessert was g-o-n-e. 

All Gone!

 

When we arrived home from our date, Sadie wanted some attention, so we took her on a 20 minute walk. Concluding date night with a nice walk with our little lady was the perfect ending. 🙂

I hope you guys are enjoying the weekend so far. See ya in the morning!

Stinky Girl

When I first started my current job I made one heck of a big mistake during my first week.

I brought an egg salad sandwich for lunch.

Sliced Hard Boiled Egg

Biiig mistake.

When I broke out my sandwich at my desk, the stink-egg aroma filled the air. Within four days at my new job I had already become the Stinky Girl.

I felt terrible for making the entire office smell like sewage. I now know to always open every lunch in the break room, because that first whiff of smell out of a Tupperware container can stink up a small office for hours.

Lunch

Today I was reminded of my first week on the job when I popped open my egg salad and was greeted with a pungent odor.

Egg Salad

Sure, it’s stinky, but it’s also delicious.

My egg salad contained:

  • 2 hard boiled eggs + one hard boiled egg white
  • Light Miracle Whip
  • Dijon mustard
  • Sweet corn
  • Sweet relish

I added a big serving of egg salad on top of a bed of freshly chopped romaine lettuce for some extra volume.

Romaine

Lunch Time!

I brought steamed broccoli to enjoy on the side, but ended up throwing that into the salad as well.

Steamed Broc

Have no fear, this entire meal was assembled in the break room where I could stink up the joint without worry. (The pictures were taken prior to leaving for work this morning.)

Of Possible Interest

500 Calories or Less at Two Restaurant Chains

You may already know how much I loooove Season’s 52, a restaurant dedicated to serving fresh, seasonal meals for less than 475 calories (I went there for my birthday dinner).

Season's 52

(Fun fact: I applied for a public relations job at Season’s 52 that required 10+ years of experience when I first graduated college. I never got a call. 😉 A girl can dream, right?)

I read an article today noting the success of the Season’s 52 franchise that also highlighted another 500-calorie-or-less restaurant, Energy Kitchen (locations currently in New York and New Jersey).

I hope more and more press is dedicated to covering restaurants such as these. I hope more Americans learn about healthier dining options and can visit these locations and show other restaurants that the public does care about nutrition and would like to have the option to dine out without being faced with 1,500 calorie-plus meals and portions big enough to feed multiple people.

What stuck out to me in the article was the mention of large chain restaurants, such as Applebee’s, that offer a small selection of lower-calorie fare. Though I absolutely love that these places offer healthier options, I honestly hate ordering off the “diet” menu because I feel like I’m missing out on the “real deal.” I think that’s why I love when a restaurant is all-around healthy. It helps keep me in the healthy-eating mindset without feeling like I’m missing out on more indulgent options if I choose healthier fare.

Would you visit a restaurant that offered 500-calorie (or less) entrees, or does dining out mean going all out to you?

Oh Yes It’s Ladies Night

Tonight I met up with four of my favorite girlfriends for a belated birthday dinner at Season’s 52. (You may read about a couple of my previous meals at Season’s 52 here and here.)

I know I’ve professed my love for this restaurant before, but just in case any of you are new to the blog, Season’s 52 is a restaurant that uses fresh, seasonal ingredients to make the most delicious entrees, all for under 475 calories.

At around 7 p.m., my girlfriends and I met up at my apartment and headed out!

We arrived and were seated immediately in a booth. I love booth seating. I really don’t like sitting in chairs at restaurants. Booths just feel cozier!

Luckily, we got a big ol’ booth for the five of us.

Laurel, Cherayne & Me

Merri & Kaitlyn

We took a while to order because we were too busy chattin’!

Eventually we made up our minds and told our waitress what we wanted.

Guess what I got???

Scallops!

The scallops!

Judging by your comments, I figured my selection would make the majority of you guys happy since that particular dish seemed to call out to you, too!

The scallops were perfectly caramelized on the outside, but soft and flavorful on the inside. The pearl pasta and asparagus were the perfect sides.

I ate every single bite off my plate (except the lemon).

Dessert

You can’t go to Season’s 52 without ordering dessert!

They have the coolest single-size desserts, called mini-indulgences and brought out a big tower of them for us to choose from.

Dessert Tower

 One even had candles in it for me to blow out!

Make a Wish

After I made a wish, I picked the strawberry shortcake indulgence for one reason, and one reason only… whipped cream!

Season's 52 Strawberry Shortcake Mini Indulgence

It was great, but I could’ve used about 10x the amount of whipped cream. 😉

Once we licked our mini indulgences clean (literally), I opened my present from the ladies… a spa gift certificate and a candle that smells like heaven! They did such a great job and are such thoughtful ladies. I love my friends!

Now I’m at home cuddlin’ on the couch with Ryan and Sadie.

I sure wish it was Friday night already!

What to Choose…

This just in: Roasted eggplant in pasta is ah-maze-ing!

I love veggies that pick up the flavors of whatever you throw at them.

The roasted eggplant in my lunchtime noodle bowl really meshed with the cheesy flavors of the Parmesan and Laughing Cow light original Swiss cheese.

Eggplant + Spinach + Noodles + Cheese

Parmesan Cheese

It was a cheesy, creamy noodle bowl with the added nutritional punch of eggplant and steamed spinach.

Lunch

I thought I might miss my beloved marinara sauce when I was throwing all the ingredients together, but the two cheeses were strong and definitely didn’t make me miss my favorite red sauce. I will surely be making this noodle bowl again in the future!

Snack Time

Snack time today was worthy of a mention.

Blueberry Bliss Luna Bar

Blueberry + Oats

The blueberry bliss Luna bar arrived in the goodie bag from Janetha yesterday and I knew it would make the perfect snack around 10:30 this morning.

Blueberry Bliss

The taste actually reminded me a lot of blueberry Nutri-Grain bars, but the texture was different. It was yummy!

Dinner Plans

Tonight I am meeting up with some of my girlfriends at Season’s 52, my favorite restaurant on the planet!

We’re celebrating my birthday since I haven’t seen any of them since I turned the big 2-5.

If it’s available online, I like to check out a restaurant’s menu ahead of time and have a few yummy dishes in mind before I arrive for a meal.

Several dishes are currently calling to me…

Of the following entrees, which would you choose?

  1. Caramelized Sea Scallops grilled and served with roasted asparagus and sundried tomato pearl pasta
  2. Grilled Boneless Rainbow Trout with parsley new potatoes, fresh roasted vegetables and broiled lemon
  3. Spring Market Vegetable Plate with cranberry almond tabbouleh, fennel, plum tomatoes and grilled tofu
  4. Garlic Chicken Flatbread with balsamic red onions, roasted red peppers and Mozzarella cheese

I’m leaning toward the scallops at the moment…

Star Struck

Last night I was one lucky little blogger! 

I got to meet three wonderful women who are the authors behind three blogs I admire very much: Tina, Caitlin and Gina

Smilin' Bloggers

I have to admit, I was a little star struck! 🙂 It was neat to meet these women, whom I’ve admired for quite a while through Blog World, in person. 

Tina’s blog is the first one I started reading. I didn’t even know about food and healthy living blogs before I found hers through Health.com. Once I started following along, I was hooked! 

Our group met up at Season’s 52 in Orlando around 9 p.m. to enjoy a night of appetizers, dessert, drinks and fun! 

Tina and Caitlin

Me and Gina

Season’s 52 just may be my favorite restaurant. It is so delicious and the chefs prepare every seasonally-inspired dish with fresh ingredients. On top of it all, no dish at the restaurant has more than 475 calories. Sch-weet, huh? 

Since I couldn’t wait until after 9 p.m. to eat dinner, I ate before I met up with the group, but still saved room for a beer, some yummy appetizers and a mini-dessert. 

Miller Lite

The Spread

Desserts

My Canoli Dessert

It was so fun to be surrounded by bloggers! Finally I wasn’t the only crazy lady whipping out my camera to photograph everything! 

Bloggers in Action

All in all, it was a great night! 

Today 

I woke up nice and early today to meet up with two of my girlfriends for a 5k fun-run. 

I was a little sleepy since I stayed up with Ryan for a while after my night out at Season’s 52, but after putting my running gear on and acting like a total ham for the camera, I felt much more energetic. 

Ready to Ruuuun

(I think Sadie wanted to run too, huh? Oh, and don’t worry, no stuffed cows were harmed in the taking of the above photos. 😉 ) 

I left around 7:45 a.m. to head out to a nearby lake to meet up with my friends Laurel and Merri. 

The 5k was very informal, not timed and super fun! (My kinda race!) I ran with my friends and we chatted the entire time. 

We still managed to work up a sweat, but had a great time doing so. 

Merri, Me & Laurel

Breakfast 

By the time I got home my tummy was grumblin’. 

I made my self a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs with portobello mushrooms, cauliflower and Laughing Cow light French onion Swiss cheese. 

Cookin'

Mo' Cheese, Please

Breakfast!

I’m off to the grocery store with Ryan to stock up for the week!

Day Date: Festival of Trees

As I mentioned previously, Ryan and I take turns planning one extra-special date for each other every month. October was his month and since his date involved a proposal, I think any date I plan following that amazing experience will never quite match up.

To begin my date, Ryan and I headed to the Orlando Museum of Art for the annual Festival of Trees event featuring lots of intricately decorated trees, vignettes, wreaths and holiday decorations.

Festival of Trees

When I graduated college in the spring of 2007, my first job was working at the museum in the public relations and marketing department, so I have a special place in my heart for events at the museum. Plus, when Ryan and I went two years ago, we had a blast!

After paying admission and entering the winter wonderland, the very first tree we saw ended up being our favorite.

The Best Tree

All Smiles

We then headed into a room sportin’ lots of Christmas decorations, including an elaborate gold place setting. I snapped a picture immediately because I am in love with the chairs and want the same ones at our wedding reception! 🙂

I Love You, Chairs

We passed many gorgeous trees on our way to the room full of gingerbread houses.

Pink Poodle Tree

Bright and Beautiful Tree

The gingerbread houses were truly amazing and must take hours and hours to assemble (not to mention tons of patience).

Gingerbread Mansion

Check Out the Detail

This One is Bigger Than Our Apartment

We managed to exit the room without sneaking any bites. 😉

We then headed to the holiday boutique to check out the goodies for sale. On our way we passed this photo:

Spooky Girl

Ryan said this girl will haunt his dreams. She’s kinda spooky, no?

The holiday boutique didn’t have any creepy photos or paintings but it did have these hilarious napkins:

🙂

All in all, we had a great time at the Festival of Trees, but both agreed it wasn’t as good as years past. They weren’t even playing Christmas music, and there were areas of the museum without trees when it used to be completely full. Oh well, it was still a fun day date!

Dinner Double Date

Our original dinner date plans at Season’s 52 expanded a bit and we made it a double date. Ryan’s cousin Daniel and Courtney, a really sweet girl he is dating, joined us for a fun and delicious double date.

Season’s 52 is probably my favorite restaurant in Orlando. All the food is so fresh and tasty and with each dish under 475 calories, you know you’re eating a normal portion entree, not excessive amounts of food.

I ordered the pork tenderloin with polenta, spinach and cremini mushrooms.

My Plate

I practically licked my plate clean!

On our way home from dinner we passed Jeremiah’s Italian Ice and just had to stop.

Mmmmm

This place serves the most amazing gelati. Our huge helping layered vanilla soft serve with cookies ‘n’ cream gelato and pumpkin pie gelato on the top. It was delish, as always!

Pies!

After Jeremiah’s we stopped by the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for turtle pumpkin pie I will be making for a Thanksgiving potluck party tomorrow.

Unfortunately I forgot two main ingredients and will be waiting until the morning to do some baking. Oh well! Stay tuned for some yummy-lookin’ pies tomorrow rather than tonight. 😉

Hopefully everyone is enjoying a fun-filled weekend before the Thanksgiving craziness sets in! 🙂