Calling All Cruise Veterans

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Hi friends! I apologize for my lack of posts in the past week or so. It’s been a little hectic around the office, and I’ve been gearing up for my little brother’s college graduation this Saturday as well as a cruise with 3 girlfriends next week (also lovingly known as LADYPALOOZA 2014), AND my 2 year anniversary with my husband. As a first time cruiser and someone who does get significantly affected by motion sickness, I’m open to any suggestions from my followers. I’ve read the tips for First Time Cruisers on Cruise Critic but I’d love to know if you have any recommendations from personal experiences. We’ll be on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas leaving from Port Canaveral for a 3 night trip to the Bahamas so I’ll be excited to share pictures with everyone when I return. So with that said, fire away with any recommendations you may have whether it’s food selections, wardrobe, or anything in between!

 

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Panda Express {A First Time Visit}

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Panda Express for the first time. Being from the South, particularly Alabama, there hasn’t been an abundance of these restaurants around me. However, my town of Tuscaloosa is now one of four Alabama cities to have this “Gourmet Chinese” eatery. Now as I’m sure it is with most other small towns, Tuscaloosa is infamous for swarming new restaurants, all in the hopes of getting to eat there first and making recommendations to friends. It’s been that case for our Panda Express which has been opened for a few months yet has an unyielding drive thru line every time I drive by. However, I had a chance on Friday to finally try it in a desperate attempt to find something to eat near my work before my next patient was scheduled to see me.

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Since I hadn’t been to a Panda Express before, I wasn’t sure what to expect or what to order. I felt a little rushed to order so I was happy to see a little logo to let me know what the lower calorie entrees were. This little logo is known as the “wok smart” logo and indicates entrees that are 250 calories or less.

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I ended up getting a Panda Bowl which consists of one entree with a side. There were other combinations that you could do, including ordering two or three entrees which just seems like a lot of food to me (but ask me again when I’m super hungry). I decided to go with the Black Pepper Chicken and side of mixed veggies. The rice (both white and brown) were calling my name, but I knew I needed a veggie serving that day (and honestly I anticipated likely having a heavy dinner with the hubs later that night which did happen). All in all, my Panda bowl was allegedly 270 calories which isn’t too bad. The veggies in my bowl were bountiful and the mix of broccoli, carrots, peppers, and onions were pretty good. My only concern is the sodium which tops out OVER 1,500 milligrams which wouldn’t be conducive to the lifestyle of my patients with high blood pressure.

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photo 1Overall, I do think I tried to get the best choice possible for what was available. It isn’t my first choice in fast food, but  I would go back with the knowledge that it certainly wouldn’t be perfect eating.  I will say that it is better than many of the “mall food court” Chinese food I’ve sadly had in the past. The nutrition calculator that’s available on their website can be helpful for folks trying to find entrees that best fit their dietary needs, especially if specifically monitoring fat, sodium, carbohydrate content, etc.

photo 3 (2)I did get a pretty nifty fortune cookie and am actively on the lookout for my miracle 🙂

Have you ever eaten at a Panda Express? If so, what’d you think and what’d you order? Let’s chat!


A {Very} Little Taste of Charleston

It is hard to believe that it’s nearly been a month since my trip to Charleston — and sadly I am just now getting to upload a few of the pictures from my short trip! I can honestly say that Charleston food is worthy of a food coma for sure. Thankfully though, I was with 5 other lovely ladies that are foodies in their own right, so our eating adventures were quite fun. Unfortunately I didn’t get to take a picture of every single meal we ate (probably a good thing 🙂 ) but I did want to take an opportunity to share a few pictures from my eating excursion, especially if anyone thinks about visiting this beautiful area any time soon. This was my first trip out there and I am dying to go back soon!!

When we first arrived in Charleston, my best pal Sally and I ate at East Bay Meeting House for a late breakfast… super delicious. She had the smoked salmon on bagel while I had the Portobello mushroom, ham and cheese quiche with fruit as seen below – simply divine.

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That evening, the six of us ended up at Cypress for dinner. We decided to order several different appetizers on the menu including their fried mac & cheese, sweet and sour meatballs, beau soleil oyster platter, and pimiento cheese with grilled bread and pepper jelly. Everyone also opted to get salads as we shared appetizers and I opted for the Almond-fried Brie salad (below) with cranberry-walnut chutney, baby greens, and a champagne vinaigrette. OH MYLANTA this was delicious.

20130531_215114During the small time frames during the day that we weren’t at the beach, we decided to check out the Historic Charleston City Market which had bookoodles of fun things, included a lot of gourmet sauces, mixes, and food items. This is one time that I regretted flying with just a carry-on bag.

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As a lover of any kind of rice, I was really interested to try this plantation rice. I’m sure I looked funny inhaling/savoring the aromatics of the rice bags 😉

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The Charleston Bloody Mary Mix is something I really wanted to bring home; my husband loves some Bloody Mary’s, but unfortunately this was a no-go for my suitcase. Boo.

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🙂

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We have some of this Slap Ya Mama at home as well as Tony’s seasoning..MMmmmmMmmm.

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Sweet Charleston is where I picked up the crickette snacks, which you may remember me eating in my youtube clip.

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There was a man with all of these funny hand-made signs…I took a few pictures of my favorites:

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After we went to the market, we had brunch at Fleet Landing Restaurant which was probably my favorite dining experience out of everything that we had in our short stay in Charleston. I will say that this is a must if you are going to visit 🙂

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Our delicious fried-green tomato appetizer with lump crab meat…..

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The quiche of the day that several people at our table got served over creamy lowcountry grits. This quiche had cheese, spinach, rock shrimp, and bacon. I asked Sally for a “small” bite and it was as delicious as it looks. Note the size difference between this quiche and the one from East Bay Meeting House 🙂

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Me and Lori both ordered the pulled BBQ pork with buttermilk biscuits, fried eggs, and Carolina Bar-B-Que sauce…my husband would have been proud.
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Two of us also ordered the Pan Roasted Crab Cake with poached eggs, grits, and red pepper Hollandaise. I didn’t have a bite but the girls assured me it was delicious.

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To take a break from eating, we stopped in a hat shop. I needed a photo op to send to my husband so he knew I hadn’t died yet of a food coma.

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Once we “walked off” our brunch, we stopped at River Street Sweets which is famous for their freshly made pecan pralines. They were oh so delicious and I’m trying to forget the calorie count I saw on the box after eating one.

20130602_150004Why yes I’d love a free sample!!

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That evening we ate at Mercato since it was in close proximity to the walking ghost tour we decided to take our last night there. Below is my lasagna. Super delish!
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On our ghost tour we got to stop at Poogan’s Porch since it was named by the Travel Channel at one point in time as the third most haunted place in America. Unfortunately though, we weren’t able to get reservations but it’s definitely on my list for next time 🙂

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Okay folks, I guess that’s about it! There are still plenty of places that are on my list to eat the next chance I make it to Charleston. The weekend left little time to eat at every place on my list but I think it just gives me a reason to go back very soon 🙂  If you’ve been to Charleston yourself, let me know some of your favorite places and dishes so I can make sure to add it to my list! 🙂