Denver Eats: The Capital Grille, Yelp Style

First things first: Yelp Denver (and Tiffany N) put on fantastic events for us Yelpers. (for example, the Monster Mashup)

Last weekend, Yelp hosted a 2012 kickoff event at The Capital Grille in Downtown Denver. I’d never been to The Capital Grille and didn’t realize it was a chain. Chain or not, this place makes goooood food.

The restaurant was closed except for the 50+ Yelpers who attended, including a few of the usual suspects: Diana and Tiffany.

(Please note: all paleo ‘rules’ were broken at this event and it was worth every bite)

First thing we saw was a giant table of over-sized shrimp. Yum! Because I’m still on crutches, I didn’t grab any shrimp but it looked delicious.

The second thing we saw was a server, handing us The Capital Grille’s signature cocktail for the event, the Stoli Doli.

This drink had me ready to pack my bags and set up shop on a tropical island. It’s a pineapple infused vodka that is dangerously pineapple-y. There’s no harsh liquor taste so it’s easy to drink this like juice – don’t drink it like juice.

Soon after we picked a spot at the bar, the servers brought out delicious food samples for us to try. These items are from a new lunch menu that The Capital Grille will be offering at a reasonable price point, $18.

We tried a fresh take on Lobster Rolls:

These were okay. I’ve never had a traditional lobster roll so I don’t have much to compare it to. It was light, fresh. Tasty but not my favorite.

Next, beef tenderloin sandwiches:

If I had to pick only one thing to eat for the rest of my life, right now, I’d beg for this sandwich. It was out of this world. The bun was buttery, there was an herb cream cheese on top and grilled onions and mushrooms underneath the juiciest piece of beef I’ve ever had.

Lastly, truffle fries:

My first ever experience with truffle fries and I was pleasantly surprised! Fries were served piping hot and had a light earthy flavor (I assume the truffle oil?) and big grains of salt. To be reunited (briefly) with french fries in this manner was perfect – these were scrumptious!

We chatted with other Yelpers while we munched, snapped some photos of our food and each other and enjoy the afternoon.

(borrowed from Tiffany)

Before we left we were offered a tour of the kitchen with the executive chef where he talked about The Capital Grille’s food and service principals. He talked to us about the quality of their meat, how they age it and how they cut it.

We also learned that rather than throwing away food mistakes, they save this food and donate it to the homeless shelters in Denver. Each month, they donate about 6,000 pounds of food to homeless shelters. Seriously amazing. Why aren’t all restaurants doing this?

On our way out, we grabbed a ‘swag bag’ full of The Capital Grille goodies: an voucher for a free appetizer, 2 Capital Grille cookies (chocolate chip & white chocolate chip), 2 chocolate truffles and 1 container of mushroom coffee steak rub.

I’m planning to use the rub later this week for dinner.

I liked the intimacy of this event – no significant others, no casual yelpers. Just us weirdos who check in at every restaurant and store we go to, take photos of our food to blog about and want to attend events with our others of our kind.

Welcome to Elite 2012 @ The Capital Grille

Yep, just us weirdos.

You can check out Tiffany’s review here or Diana’s review here.

Thanks again to Yelp and The Capital Grille for hosting us!

What is LGSMASH All About, Anyway?

I’ve been blogging for years and years under many different names. As Janene put it, a blogaholic.

Blog name: SheWillBeL0ved (or: Maroon 5 meets emotional high school girl)

In high school, I started a blog on LiveJournal as a way to keep my thoughts in order. I didn’t know anyone else blogging at that point and didn’t use it to connect with people. High school was a rough time for me – turmoil at home and not feeling like I fit in at school created the perfect storm for me to take my sadness and confusion out on myself. I started cutting myself in high school to make the emotional pain ‘feel’ real. It was a silent cry for help that I kept hidden from the world. My blog in high school served the same purpose – a way to put my strong emotions and depression into words, to get the darkness out of me and ‘onto paper’. It was my (public) private journal and an online cry for help. In the back of  my mind, I wanted someone to find it and to reach out and be a friend, give me a hug.

I kept blogging on SheWillBeL0ved through high school and into college. On LiveJournal, I became completely enamored with blogging: the words, the designs, the layouts, the people, the infinite possibility. Though the first years of college, I’d ‘outgrown’ the depression that held me in high school – I’d taught myself effective ways to cope, how to relieve my stress and anger without harming myself. I made friends who really cared about me and surrounded myself with positive people. The days of SheWillBeLoved were numbered. No longer did I ‘need’ this anonymous outlet for my feelings – I had a great support system in real life.

I ended my LiveJournal sometime in the last year and a half of college. After college, I packed up my car, drove west and landed in Denver. No job, no apartment and just a few friends. Enter: MidwestMeetsTheMountains.

Blog name: MidwestMeetsTheMountains (or: Stories of an unemployed/newly employed college graduate)

When I first moved to Colorado, I started this new blog to keep my family and friends updated about my life so far away from them. I am the first of my immediate family and was one of the first of my friends to move out of Cincinnati. I’d just figured out how to use my computer’s webcam so most of MidwestMeetsTheMountians posts were vlogs. I wanted to show my family where I was living and I wanted it to feel like a personal conversation, like they were in Denver with me.

I didn’t keep up with this blog as much as I thought I would – I was too busy hanging out with my roommate and exploring Denver!

Soon, I got onto Twitter and found a whole slew of Healthy Living Bloggers, posting about races and training plans. I started commenting and regularly following – I wanted to share my training and race goals too! It was back to the blog. This time, it’s stuck.

Blog name: lgsmash (or: How to Pass Time, Make Friends, Stay Healthy and Get Inspired While Dealing with Injury)

This blog was born last year, on my 25th birthday. I’d gotten the itch to blog again – this time about running and staying healthy. I’d planned to run the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati that year and my blog was going to follow, along with my other adventures in Denver and through travel. Unfortunately, I felt my knee pop in February 2010 and I knew all race plans were out the window: Osteochondritis Dissecans was back. (More about my long history with OCD here) But I continued to blog.

As I started searching for information about treatments for my condition, I quickly realized that there is no one else blogging or talking about Osteochondritis Dissecans. No one talking about symptoms, treatment, outcomes. I found one person, Marc Rubin of 10 Hours, on a forum posting about the DeNovo implant I received in both of my knees. Finding Marc was the inspiration I needed to keep blogging – he received the same implant I did and was well on his way back into fitness.

Throughout this past year, I’ve strived to keep myself healthy, physically and mentally: cooking and eating healthy foods, exercising as often as my knees would allow (and even when they haven’t!), remembering how important mental health is and sharing my injury story. I’ve found a community of people - men and women, young and old – who support and inspire me through my blog and social media. I’ve joined an incredible network of people striving to live their best life possible through FitFluential and encourage me to do the same.

This blog brings together the best of my previous blog worlds: awareness about mental health and the incredible support system I was so desperately looking for from SheWillBeL0ved and the vlogging and fun, active lifestyle we Denverites have from MidwestMeetsTheMountains.

Through my blog, I’m approaching health and well-being from the less physical side and I hope to inspire other injured or less active people to keep being healthy even when you feel like you can’t. I’m excited to share how to safely return to sports and an active life after surgery, how to train for races while eating a (mostly) paleo diet and show the giant playground that Colorado is.

This year, I will overcome my 6th and 7th knee surgeries and get back into running, biking, hiking, fitness classes, weight lifting. This year, I will challenge my mind and body and learn how to swim, dance, mountain climb and snowboard. This year, I am making every moment count and my blog and readers will be right here with me, cheering me on and out hitting the pavement with me.

Join us – it’s sure to be a fun, healthy adventure!

Denver Eats: Seoul BBQ (Paleo Dining Out)

Korean barbecue has been a favorite dining experience for Alex and me since he studied abroad in Seoul during college. At the end of his 6 week session, I met him and Seoul where we spent 4 days exploring the city and enjoying Alex’s favorite Korean foods, drinks and sights.

The first dinner we at in Korea was traditional Korean barbecue – I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t done much research about Korea or Korean foods before I came but I was up to try whatever was served. When in Rome, right?

That night, I fell in love with the Korean people and Korean barbecue.

Since our visit to Korea, we’ve been trying Korean barbecue restaurants where ever we find them: Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Fort Myers and Denver. So far, Denver wins for quality and authenticity, hands down.

For newbies to Korean barbecue, this is your intro to Korean barbecue.

Our favorite Korean barbecue restaurant in Denver is Seoul BBQ. Seoul BBQ is located in an area outside of downtown Denver with a heavy Asian restaurant and market concentration. This was our first tip that we were in the right spot.

The restaurant is clean and service is prompt. Most, if not all, of the waitstaff speak English – I know this is a concern of first time friends: that they won’t be able to communicate with the servers or be able to ask questions. Seoul BBQ servers are very friendly, ready to help and answer questions and get you what you need.

When ordering Korean barbecue, a wide variety of side dishes always accompany your meat. These side dishes vary from restaurant to restaurant but a few staples are at each restaurant, like kimchi. You will always find kimchi in your side dishes as this is a main food in Korea.

Yum!

This big hubcap looking plate in the middle of the table is the burner. When ordering Korean barbecue, you select the types of meat you’d like to eat and it is brought out to you raw to cook at your table. It’s like a ‘do it yourself’ hibachi grill.

Meats run the gamut of styles, cuts and flavoring. One of our favorites is Sam-gyup-sal – essentially, it’s bacon. It’s the ‘safest’ jump into Korean barbecue if you’re not typically an adventurous eater.

It’s crucial that the meat is cooked all the way through – a bit tender is okay but raw is not. As the meat finishes cooking, we move it to the outside to make room for more meat in the middle. While the meat is cooking, we also add side dishes to warm up on the grill.

After you cook your meats and sides, the fun part begins: Lettuce wraps!

Grab a piece of lettuce from your table, add whatever sides (cooked or raw) and meat you’d like.

I added kimchi, meat, bean sprouts and bean paste (more on that later).

Then roll and enjoy!

One of my favorite additions to my lettuce wraps comes in a little tray – each person receives their own.

Sesame oil + fermented bean paste

MAN is it good. It’s called ‘doenjang’ and is a fermented soybean paste. Not everyone is as big of a fan as me but I love the taste – salty! (note: soybeans/beans are not paleo).

Because Korean barbecue’s foundation is a meat + veggie lettuce wrap, this is a paleo friendly, incredibly filling meal.

I encourage anyone who’s ever thought about Korean food (and those who haven’t!) to give Korean barbecue a try – it’s a fun dinner with a group or with a date. It’s interactive and delicious. And if you’re ever in Denver and need a dining partner, I’ll be right over!

 

3 Easy Ways to Stay Active While Injured

What’s this?! A Vlog?

If  you have a leg injury, like me, you may be looking for ways to keep the rest of your body engaged while you’re recovering. Whether you’re stiting out for 3 days, 3 weeks or 3 months, here are a few exercises that I like to do to engage my arms and abs while I’m recovering.

Happy recovery!

Knee Surgery Recovery: Patience

I’ve blogged less about recovery of my left knee surgery this time around. This time, it’s old news, been there, done that. So far, my left knee is doing great – I’ve got a really great range of motion, swelling is down less and less each day and virtually no pain.

My right knee is doing even better than I expected. When I opted to have this second surgery so soon after finishing the first recovery (6 weeks, to the day), I was a little nervous about how my right knee would hold up. I was walking properly but still felt a slight discomfort at my graft site when bending my knee, which I think is due to the lack of quad muscle I’ve got going on right now.However, having to rely SOLELY on my right leg, my right knee has far exceeded any expectations I’d set. It feels GREAT! No pain, no discomfort, no catching or grinding.

I am over the moon!

PS. Wanna hear what my knees used to sound like? It’s this (March 2010):

If I had to pick one word to describe each of my surgeries, my surgery in October would be ‘dark’ and surgery in December would be ‘light’. I had no idea what to expect with the first surgery, I lost much of my independence for 3 long weeks when I wasn’t able to drive, I lost all of my leg muscles, my arms (and UNDERARMS) burned from the new crutches. I had a hard time adjusting to the change.

This time, though, I know how quickly 6 weeks passes, that at the end of these 6 weeks, I’ll be all fixed and have ‘new’ knees. I know that even with a lack of muscle, I’ll be able to get it back. I have Crutch Buddies to mitigate the underarm irritation. I’m eating better and physically feel great, inside and out. I feel happy, hopeful and have a light at the end of this tunnel.

In 3 weeks, I’ll go back to the doctor to get my clean bill of knee health and be walking shortly after. Ironically, that doctor appointment is almost exactly 51 weeks after my knee popped last February and set me on this crazy Osteocondritis Dissecans surgery journey.

Just under 1 year. 1 long year of limited physical activity, MRIs, doctor appointments, surgery, crutches. But keeping it in perspective, what’s 1 year if it allows me 10 or more years of happy knees? It’s just a drop in the bucket. Next week I can get on a stationary bike, 2 weeks after that, I’ll be walking and in a few months, I hope to be running again. My mind and heart are giddy!

I’ve learned a lot this past year: about knees and medical procedures, about accepting help when I need it and about myself and inner strength. But most of all, I’m learning patience.  As patient I’ve been, though, I am very impatient for these next weeks to fly by and to get back on my feet.

Patience, patience, patience.

Paleo Eats, Week 1

Week one of paleo eating is over. So far, it’s going really well and I’m enjoying this change. This weekend was a bit challenging but we followed Paleo as much as possible but allowed wiggle room. We had wings with our friends on Saturday night and drank wine/beer at a birthday party Friday night. Overall, I feel really great, physically. Hunger feels different (as in, no angry, ravenously starving Lynne), I feel like I have more energy and am not dragging in the afternoon and my clothes fit really well. So far, so good.

When I first looked into Paleo foods, I couldn’t really gauge how ‘everyday’ people would eat. Much of the paleo info I’d found was from book authors, cookbooks or blogs where I couldn’t tell what the author’s current lifestyle entailed. I wanted to share what my 4 weeks of ‘strict’ Paleo included for other office working, active people who may be curious about Paleo.

Here’s what I ate this week:

MONDAY

Breakfast: Smoothie (Raspberries, blueberries, all natural peanut butter, honey, ice)

Snack:  Handful of walnuts

Lunch: Large spinach salad with tomatoes, carrots, grilled chicken + balsamic vinegar

Snack: Apple with natural peanut butter

Dinner: Turkey burger + buffalo sauce, brussel sprouts, roasted sweet potato

TUESDAY

Breakfast: Smoothie (raspberries, blueberries, spinach, peanut butter, flaxseed, ice)

Snack: 2 handfuls of walnuts

Lunch: 1 chicken breast, boiled + cherry tomatoes

Snack: 1 apple + handful of walnuts

Dinner: Chipotle Lime Chicken from Applebees (no rice)

WEDNESDAY

Breakfast: Smoothie (fruit, peanut butter, flaxseed, ice), 2 eggs scrambled

Lunch: Salad (lettuce, tomato, carrots, packet of tuna)

Snack: Apple + walnuts

Dinner: Crockpot Beef Stew (modified this recipe: used 1 sweet potato instead; no flour)

THURSDAY

Breakfast: Smoothie, 2 eggs scrambled

Lunch: Salad (lettuce, tomato, radishes, packet of tuna, balsamic vinegar)

Snack: Walnuts + Almonds

Dinner: Pork loin, roasted Brussels Sprouts + onions

FRIDAY

 Breakfast: Smoothie, 2 eggs scrambled (surprisingly, still not tired of this for breakfast)

Snack: Beef jerky

Lunch: Chipotle salad (lettuce, steak, fajita veggies, pico de gallo salsa, hot salsa)

Snack: Apple + Walnuts

Dinner: HBurger (no bun burger, fresh jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, grilled mushrooms), grilled asparagus, wings

SATURDAY

Breakfast: Smoothie

Lunch: Garbanzo salad (lettuce, chicken, vegetable salad) + Chicken Tagine soup

Dinner: Wings, veggies + hummus + salsa, Udi’s bread + guacamole

SUNDAY

Breakfast: Smoothie (still not bored…), 2 egg omlette with green + red peppers + homemade salsa

Snacks: Apple + pb, tuna packet, beef jerky, left over pork loin

Dinner: Salmon + lemon pepper seasoning, veggie medley (spinach, garlic, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms)

A bit redundant with breakfast and snacks but it worked this week. I think if I keep eating smoothies and eggs for breakfast, I’m going to get really burnt out really quick so this will I’ll be looking into ways to spice breakfast up.

Because this is a new style of eating for me, it’s a bit challenging to figure out what to eat for all of our meals without eating the same things. Dinner has been the easiest to keep fresh because we have more time in the evenings to think about what to eat and cook. A little more planning for the rest of the day will go a long way for me.

This week, I hope I’m adding variety to my food!

Denver Eats! Dining Out Paleo: Chipotle, HBurger, Garbanzo

This is a very special first edition of Denver Eats! Dining Out Paleo.

When I first moved to Denver, I had no idea where to go for a good meal and stuck to the chain restaurants that I knew and loved. I soon figured out that Denver has a wealth of local food that far exceeds any chain restaurant! As I try new restaurants across the vibrant and diverse city of Denver, I write about it for the internets to see.

This is a Special Edition because currently, I’m eating a mostly paleo diet as a 1 month challenge so I’m trying to find a tasty meal that fits into the paleo ‘rules’.

This weekend brought more eating out than normal for me. I ate lunch out on Friday & Saturday afternoons and Friday night.

First up, Chipotle for lunch on Friday.

For those who don’t know, Chipotle is a Denver-based ‘gourmet fast food’ type of restaurant. Chipotle prides itself on it’s commitment to sustainable, healthy and fresh ingredients. Now, it’s easy to go overboard at Chipotle and turn your healthy ingredients into an unhealthy meal (looking at you, sour cream). Eating paleo, however, helps to eliminate the calorie heavy items like the tortilla, taco shells and cheese.

For lunch, I ate a steak salad with fajita veggies, pico de gallo and hot salsa with some guacamole on the side and drank unsweetened tea.

That night, Alex and I ate at a relatively new burger place – and new to us – called Little HBurger. Per the HBurger website:

HBurgerCO, an innovative concept spun from an American classic—a restaurant that celebrates homegrown familiarity without sacrificing a style all its own.

From apps to nightcaps, you’ll find only the highest quality ingredients, like locally sourced Angus beef, ground fresh daily. And of course, there’s plenty to suit the tastes of any palate even if meat isn’t on the agenda: this Garden Burger was no afterthought! And from the create-your-salad menu, the healthy options are limitless.

I liked this restaurant before we even arrived.

HBurger was an interesting test for us – it was the first burger restaurant we’d eaten at this week. We (and Alex especially) love our burgers and fries. As we read through the menu, so many specialty burgers were mouth-watering but all had cheese, which we’ve opted to not eat right now.

We decided to build our own burgers with Bibb lettuce instead of buns. I had fresh jalapenos, guacamole and grilled onions on mine.

We split a side of grilled asparagus and Kickin’ Asian Wings. While wings aren’t necessarily paleo (okay, aren’t at all), we had a birthday celebration to attend after dinner and needed more food in our bellies before drinking any alcohol.

The wings were phenomenal! I usually don’t care for traditional wings because they’re too messy and too much work but I will come back and eat these wings many times over. The sauce was slightly sweet with a kick of heat at the end, each wing was really meaty and fell right off the bone.

Friday night we went downtown to celebrate a friend’s birthday and yes, we drank some alcohol. Yes, it’s not paleo and I’d said I was only going to drink water and tea but I decided to indulge with my friends and I don’t regret it one bit. Instead of a beer, I opted to drink red wine. For me, drinking wine is sipping and savoring where as a beer is much bigger and faster drinks. I’m not which is technically *healthier* or more paleo but my very basic guess is wine is the healthier choice. Anyone know?

**side note: by not eating carbs, I felt the effects of wine a lot quicker than I used to.

On Saturday, while out and about running errands, we had lunch at Garbanzo. Garbanzo is another Denver-based restaurant chain with fresh, fast mediterranean. Very similar to Chipotle – I’ve heard a rumor that former Chipotle employees actually started Garbanzo? I can’t confirm that though. Per the comments, my friend Morgan set me straight! Garbanzo’s founder came from Panara instead. Read more about him here.

I enjoyed the Garbanzo Greens Salad with chicken and vegetable salad with greek vinagrette and hot sauce on the side and a cup of the Chicken Tagine soup (chicken, sweet potatoes, onions).

I was really surprised by how much I liked the soup! Sweet potatoes aren’t my favorite vegetable but it was the only soup that looked Paleo appropriate. The sweet potato taste is very slight in this soup and the soup is really hearty and filling.

The general principles of paleo eating are really helpful when eating out – it’s a good check to see if you’re eating the most nutritious foods available. At the same time, it’s important to indulge from time to time with wings if you need some more food. I don’t regret those wings or wine I had one bit knowing that the other 99% of the week, I ate as ‘cleanly’ as I could.