Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Restaurant Review: Salata

Summer is officially here in Texas and I believe temps in the 80's are a thing of the past. This can only mean one thing...bathing suit season. There are quite a few ways to attempt to stay cool in this great state, but my favorite fool-proof way is hanging out by the water as much as I can. I try and eat healthy and workout as much as possible, but it's unrealistic to think I can achieve that 100% of the time. 

Thankfully, Austin is full of healthy food alternatives to help me stay on track. One of them being SALATA

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Brooke to visit Salata's new Austin store and share my reviews with y'all. Salata has quite a few other locations in Texas, including Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Addison, Plano, Irving, and Fort Worth (with a handful in California as well). The new location in Austin opened about 2 months ago and it's within 15 minutes of downtown, so I jumped on the opportunity to try it out! They are also opening another location in Round Rock within the next few months (over by Ikea). 

I was told to ask for Kasey, the franchise owner of the Austin and San Antonio locations. She was very accommodating and took the time to explain how everything worked. Their methods are similar to Chipotle or most frozen yogurt places. I love the concept of customizing and creating your own salad! I specifically enjoyed the fact that Salata has a flat rate for their meals ($8 for a salad, $7 for a wrap...a few extra bucks if you want to add a protein). I like that they don't weigh your meal and charge by the ounce and they don't nickle and dime you with little adds on (avocado is free!). 

First up, you pick your greens. I opted for spinach and spring mix. 

Going down the line, you pick from an assortment of veggies, beans, and fruit. I went with mushrooms, cauliflower, bean sprouts, black beans, pumpkin seeds, feta, boiled egg, and sliced apples. Quite a was so hard to pick! But that was the great thing...I didn't have to narrow my choices down if I didn't want to.  

Once your toppings are selected, you have the option to add a protein ($2 for chicken or turkey and $3 for shrimp). They have 4 different chicken flavors: buffalo, pesto, spicy chipotle, or asian BBQ. Pesto chicken for me! 

To finish off the salad, you can pick any kind of dressing your heart desires. I picked the two that Kasey suggested: Lemon Vinaigrette mixed with Ginger Lime. You can also purchase their dressings by the bottle for $6. 

Once the dressing was drizzled on my salad mix, Kasey combined everything for me and offered a side of bread to go with it. They also have 3 different soup options to add to your meal; but in this Texas heat, I opted out. 

One of my FAVORITE FAVORITE FAVORITE things about Salata is that they do not offer sodas! I think more and more restaurants should catch on and think about switching their drink selections over to tea and water only. There are so many "healthy" restaurants out there, only to tempt you into ruining your nutritious meal with a soda at checkout. I'm so used to just ordering water, I didn't even realize they had such an amazing tea selection until I had already sat down to eat. Next time! Yes, there will be many many more next times. 

Kasey sat down with me for a few minutes to hear about my blog and my 1000 miles. She was so warm and welcoming, I felt like we had known each other for a while. She also gave me a little goodie bag with coupons, koozies, notepads, and a travel cup! I was in awe of Salata's generosity. I can't recommend this place enough. 

And now, I leave you with some healthy tips from Salata to get back on the healthy train this summer and get bikini ready:

1. Most fresh veggies have just 25 calories or less per serving, so pile them on. Salata never charges for extra veggies and a salad bursting with flavors is sure to satisfy well past lunch, limiting mid-day snacking.
2. Diets often fail because we feel restricted. Add variety by choosing vibrant fruits and vegetables rich in color. Carrots, red onions, tomatoes, grapes, cranberries, mandarin oranges, and strawberries are all great choices to liven up your salad or wrap.
3. Stay hydrated. Skip the sugar-loaded sodas and refresh yourself with a cold glass of unsweet tea or water. Spruce it up with a twist of lemon.
4. Protein helps keep hunger at bay between meals, facilitating weight loss, but the trick is to choose lean protein. Salata’s savory flavored chicken, shrimp, or salmon options add flavor without the fat.
5. Vegetarians have lots of choices too with protein-rich options such as beans, tofu, pumpkin seeds, egg, or nuts.
6. Keep fuller longer by adding more fiber. Whole-wheat wraps or spinach salads are both excellent sources of fiber. Add black beans, nuts, and lots of vegetables for an even bigger boost.
7. Dress your salad up lightly by tossing it fat-free dressing instead. Salata’s sun-dried tomato and mango dressings are both fat free, and all Salata’s dressing are freshly made in-house without added preservatives.
8. Select heart healthy fats like olives, nuts, avocado, and salmon for health-protective benefits during the summer. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Insanity Week 2 Results

Today is the 2 week mark for my June goal of completing 30 days of Insanity. 

14 days ago I completed Fit Test 1. This morning I did Fit Test 2.  

You get 60 seconds to do as many reps as possible, with about a minute water break in between each workout. 

Below are my results:

Naturally, I made some progress, but not as much as I would have liked. 

I went back and looked at my blog post from my Insanity attempt last year, just to compare, and I'm either a) currently out of shape or b) was in amazing shape last year. I think "b" makes more sense (that, or I refuse to accept the fact that I'm out of shape right now). This time last year, I was unemployed for 2 months, living at home, and had all the time in the world to workout. Now I work 9-5 Monday-Friday and sit at a desk the majority of the day. Last year I was also running waaaaay more than I am now to hit my 1000 mile mark. Considering the circumstances and differences this year versus last, I'll take the slight improvement for now. 

I took pictures 2 weeks ago and today, but I think I'll wait until the 30 days are up to show before and afters. I really need to clean up my diet in the next few weeks. I know that will make a huge difference in my results and I'll generally feel better overall. 

Happy Monday! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Let's Try This Again - June's Goal: Insanity

Meat-Free May is officially over! In a weird way, I kind of enjoyed trying to be a vegetarian. It was a challenge but still doable (thanks hippie Austin). I wonder how many animals I saved? :) 

I was completely meat-free for 24 days straight. Then my best friend's wedding occurred over Memorial Day weekend and I cheated a bit. At the rehearsal dinner, they catered Rudy's BBQ and I didn't feel like mac & cheese and cream corn would make up a well-balanced meal, so I had a few slices of turkey. For dinner at the wedding, they had the most amazing food prepared by an outstanding chef, so I caved and had to try some of the bison and salmon. After that, I was back on track to round out the 5 remaining days in the month. 

My first meal back was Chipotle (obviously) and it was everything I wanted and more. I debated on sticking with a vegetarian diet for a while longer, since I did enjoy it, but I know there are going to be times when I can't avoid it or really want Chipotle again, so I might just aim for Meat-Free Monday's. 

Now for June's Goal:

Back in April, I attempted to complete 30 days of Insanity. I kept at it for 12 days straight, but unfortunately I injured my foot during my last half marathon in mid-April. That put an abrupt halt on everything so I have decided to retry and make it my goal for June. 

I attempted Insanity around this time last year, but only completed about 2 weeks of it (I was more focused on running my 1000 miles). This time, I'm determined to finish a full 30 days!