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New Adventures at California Pizza Kitchen

August 19th, 2012 1 comment

Plank Grilled SalmonI was invited to a preview tasting of the items on the “New Adventures” menu at California Pizza Kitchen. These new offerings will expand the choices that diners have at the restaurant, and at less than 600 calories each, are a healthy addition to the menu. If you are trying to find flavorful and healthy options for dining out, the New Adventures menu choices will appeal to you!

There are five new offerings: Cedar Plank Salmon and Corn Succotash, Fire-Roasted Chile Relleno, Grilled Chicken Chimichurri, Quinoa and Arugula Salad, and Shrimp Scampi Zucchini Fettuccine. My two favorites were the Cedar Plank Salmon and the Fire-Roasted Chile. The salmon is an Atlantic salmon, seasoned with smoked paprika and grilled on top of a cedar plank. The plank is soaked so that smoke from the cedar infuses the salmon as it cooks, marrying beautifully with the smoky flavor of the paprika. The sweet corn in the succotash is balanced by a touch of cayenne pepper bringing out wonderful flavors, and paired with the saltiness of some feta cheese. You won’t believe you are eating a meal that was designed with low-calorie in mind!

roasted pepperHowever, if you are looking for a dish that really packs a flavor punch you will want to try the fire-roasted chile. This features a poblano pepper that has been grilled and stuffed with a corn and black bean salsa, wild mushrooms, chicken, spinach and eggplant, covered with quesadilla cheese and creamy avocado salsa. The mild spicy pepper brings so much flavor to the traditional stuffed pepper, and the tender eggplant makes for a hearty stuffing. The result is a truly satisfying entrée that will have you stopping just short of licking the plate clean. The best part: 380 calories for the whole dish. I almost wish that the nutritional value was not printed on the menu, and saved for the end as a surprise for guests!

Each of the other menu items offer something special as well. The zucchini noodles in the shrimp scampi will have you wanting to try the dish with no pasta at all! And if you are wanting to try quinoa, but aren’t sure if it is something you will enjoy, the quinoa salad is a beautiful presentation of the healthy grain. The chimichurri sauce on the grilled chicken is a new experience as well, especially if dietary restrictions have you looking for low salt flavor options.

In the end this represents a slight change of direction for a restaurant like California Pizza Kitchen, one that I wish more restaurants were considering. Cook wonderful, flavorful food with fresh ingredients, and you can offer patrons satisfying dishes that won’t hurt their waistlines. These are the kind of small changes that can help turn the tide in our nation’s fight against obesity. Because eating healthy shouldn’t be a chore, it should be fun and easy for everyone!

Purely Pronating

November 16th, 2011 No comments

Brooks Pure CadenceMy feet suck. In 2010 I tried to transition into lighter shoes because I was trying to get into racing flats for my 5k and 10k races. I was successful! I ran a blisteringly fast (for me) 38:48 Bolder Boulder 10k in flats. Then I walked the 2 miles back to the car in the same shoes. By the time I arrived at the car my arch was aching and it has continued to hurt for a year and a half.

So, apparently racing flats are a no-go for me. I did everything the way you are supposed to too, gradually stepping down from a more supportive shoe, starting out on the treadmill with the flat. It all felt good, right up to the moment that it didn’t. So when Brooks¬†started hyping their new “Pure Project” shoes I didn’t pay much attention. I know that any shoe that does not support my arch makes my foot hurt, so I’ve been avoiding “neutral” footwear. Just before the product launch date I watched a Brooks video on which Pure Project shoe would be right for me. I discovered that there was a model, the “Pure Cadence,” that was designed as a guidance shoe for mild pronators, with some arch support built in.

My first impressions of the shoe were all positive! The shoe fit extremely well and the soft material of the upper felt amazing right out of the box. Wearing these shoes feels a little like wearing slippers, with a slightly more supportive sole. I took the shoes out for a couple of test runs, but immediately I knew they felt good to run in. My third run in these shoes was actually the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon, and they felt great from wire to wire!

Now that I have had a few weeks in them, they have become my favorite shoe. The material is soft and comfortable, and the shoe feels very minimal when running. There is almost no “transition” between heel to toe as the heel drop is only 4mm, the sole moves with the surface you are running on. I had one run where I ran up a very icy path, that was heavily tracked out. I could feel every bump and valley, and I felt like I was leaping nimbly across the surface of the ice. It was the most fun I’ve had while running in a long time!

There are always downsides to new shoe designs, and I’d say the biggest thing I’ve noticed is the gap in the sole between the first two toes. This was put in the design to allow the big toe to engage the ground more, but it does allow water in more easily than a full sole. As a result, I have shied away from running in these in the snow, in favor of my trail shoes. At 9.5oz though, the Pure Cadence is a full two ounces lighter than my trail shoes, so it is a harsh transition.

I feel pretty spoiled running in the Pure Cadence. I am not a barefoot runner by any means, but these shoes do leave me feeling like I am more in touch with the surfaces I run on. I think this is a great addition to a runner’s “go to shoes.”

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Brooks Inspire Daily P.A.C.E. team, and I receive a discount on Brooks gear.