Freedom for All 4th of July Recipes

Any holiday that involves good food is my favorite.

Bonus if it includes fireworks.

This 4th of July I have no clue what we will do… it’s my first not in Atlanta.  Usually I run the Peachtree Road Race… maybe I’ll run my own 10K?  Or maybe I’ll just have a marathon cooking session…

Either way, below are a bunch of recipes that I think would make for a tasty 4th, whether you are home or away, American or just like delicious food!

Oh yeah… and this happened:

SCOTUS marriage equality ruling


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Emergen-Cs and Mock-tinis

I am participating in a sponsored campaign hosted by Emergen-C® I received compensation for this post. While all opinions stated are my own, I make no claims about Emergen-C as a product or its effectiveness.

I drink a LOT of water.

While I love it, there is a bit of flavor exhaustion.  Or lack thereof.

The problem is there aren’t a lot of flavored alternatives that aren’t filled with bad stuff.  When I had the opportunity to try out Emergen-C, I jumped at it.  Who couldn’t use more vitamins?

They have new Cranberry-Pomegranate flavor that I thought would be an excellent add to my water to break up the monotony.  Even better is that they are fizzy!  I got addicted to sparkling water in Europe and have craved the effervescence ever since.  Emergen-C has over 20 varieties of vitamin drink mixes.  No monotony here!  Plus, all of those B vitamins made for the perfect natural energy enhancement at work.


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Dips, Dessert, and a Drink

Happy 4th of July!


aka National Sunburn Day.

I have a tradition of running the Peachtree Roadrace (the world’s largest 10K) and enjoying the sweltering heat sunshine.  Since I’m off doing that, today’s #strangebutgood is a round of of things you might like to enjoy during your weekend festivities.

Some are stranger than others, but I assure you they’re all good.  And they’re relatively quick and easy – especially the oh-so-addicting S’Mores Brownies!

Chipotle Corn Hummus

Chipotle Corn Hummus


Cilantro Hummus Salsa

Hummus Salsa


Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats (Lightened Up)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats



S’mores Brownies

Smore Brownies


Piña Mezcalita

Piña Mezcalita


How have you enjoyed making co-workers, friends, or family stare with strange but good creations this week? The link up rules can be found here or by clicking on “Strange But Good” in the menu bar above. In short, I want to see what concoctions have earned you weird looks from co-workers, family and friends! Post your Strange But Good creations, grab the logo below for your blog, and link up here.

If you’re not a blogger, you can still share your recipes on Instagram with the #strangebutgood hashtag.

Sprint 2 the Table



Remember to use #strangebutgood in any Tweets and Instagrams of your creations. :)


I may have to cool off at the mall.  There are sales… all the things… this won’t end well.

What are your plans for the 4th?

What is your favorite poolside treat?


Low Alcohol Drinks & Spicy Bubbles

I took a lot of classes this weekend.


If only high school had been this much fun.

Atlanta’s Food & Wine Festival is my favorite event of the year.  It’s not just another tasting tent cattle call.  Food and wine experts come from all over the Southeast to teach classes, host tastings, and showcase their best on the tasting trails.

Food and wine are also great bonding agents.  I tend to go to these event alone, which has lead to meeting a ton of great people.  This year I went with my friend Stephanie, whom I met at last year’s festival in the beer and doughnut pairing class!

Atlanta Food & Wine 2014… 

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Cinco de Strange But Good

I’m stranging-up Mayo!


(That’s May, not mayonnaise.)

It occurred to me that many of my Mexican-inspired creations are a bit strange.  Mexican is one of my favorite cuisines, and I’m always looking for a good way to shake it up!

No matter what time of day you celebrate, I have an appropriately themed dish!



Cocoa-Cayenne Sweet Potato Oatmeal

Sweet Potato CCC Oatmeal

Mex-Fast Tortilla Stack

Mexi-fast Tortilla


Small Plates

Tofu Jalapeño Poppers

Tofu Stuffed Jalapenos

Avocado-Mango Soup

Avocado-Mango Soup

Mexican Pineapple and Beet Salad

Pineapple Beet Salad

Mexican Cauliflower “Rice” Bowl

Mexican cauliflower rice bowl




Mexican Socca Pizza

Mexican Socca Pizza

Seitan Chorizo


Tequila-Lime Tilapia

Tequila Lime Tilapia

Sweet Potato Mexican Pie

Sweet Potato Mexican Pie



Piña Mezcalita

Piña Mezcalita



Mexican Chocolate Cake

Mexican Chocolate Cake

Mexican Black Bean Fudgy Brownies

Mexican Black Bean Brownies


How have you enjoyed making co-workers, friends, or family stare with strange but good creations this week? The link up rules can be found here or by clicking on “Strange But Good” in the menu bar above. In short, I want to see what concoctions have earned you weird looks from co-workers, family and friends! Post your Strange But Good creations, grab the logo below for your blog, and link up here.

Sprint 2 the Table



Remember to use #strangebutgood in any Tweets and Instagrams of your creations. :)


Check out the FitFluential Cinco de Mayo Round Up for more ideas!

What’s your favorite cuisine to add a #strangebutgood twist to?

Do you have Cino de Mayo plans?  Any special meals?


A Morning Cocktail + Fitmark Giveaway


No, that’s not a Ben & Jerry’s flavor.

My city is shut down over the winter weather.  After the disaster 2 weeks ago, government leaders and business are taking no chances.  We shut down yesterday… when nothing happened but rain. 


Today promises to be more entertaining, but with nothing to report as of the time of this post… we’ll get right to the food and the giveaway.


This WIAW was unexpected work from home day.  I love these days because it means I have time to put together meals and eat off of real plates!  It’s the small things…


Read on for my eats, and then check out Jenn’s blog for everyone else’s delicious creations!… 

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Food Hangovers and Slutty Cake

Atlanta is a food mecca.


It really has become like a mini San Francisco!

This is the food portion of Sarah’s weekend visit… my favorite part!  There’s nothing more fun than watching a friend enjoy a meal.  Don’t get me wrong – I love to eat it too, but sharing something you love so much with a good friend makes the experience that much better.

So does the fact that Sarah created an image for the extravaganza:



Friday began with a dinner with Sarah and Heather at Cardamom Hill, my favorite Indian spot.  The food is inspired by Chef Asha Gomez’s native cuisine from Kerala, but bring in a Southern influence.

We ordered a few starters: Bhajia (sweet potato and onion fritters served with tamarind sauce)Egg Appam (rice & coconut crepe with a poached egg and chili grilled shrimp), and green beans in a spicy garlic-onion masala.

Cardamom Hill

Then we moved on to dinner.  First was an Indian take on the classic Shrimp and Grits: spicy Kerala-curried shrimp over grits with leeks, ginger and roasted peppers.  The second dish was a red snapper fillet seasoned with a masala paste over a roasted in a banana leaf.  It is topped with a coconut milk curry and served with basmati rice and cardamom-scented sweet potatoes.

It’s all as good as it sounds.  One thing I love about Asha is that she doesn’t tame her spices to cater to an “American” palette.  Each dish had the perfect level of heat – enough to feel it, but not so much that it over took the flavor of the dish.


 Saturday morning we were slightly suffering from food hangovers, so I served Sarah my special morning “cocktail.”  I swear it has magical powers.  This, plus some eggs and fruit, fueled one helluva glute day!

Morning cocktail


After glute camp, protein shakes, the epic grocery trip, coffee, and a trip to Kroger (another grocery store), we – once again – did the stereotypical “blogger” thing for a snack: hummus, veggies, and summer rolls.

Sarah Instagrammed while I took a picture of her taking a picture of our foods.  Also note the kabocha on the side. 😉

Sarah in her native environment


For dinner, I took her to Decatur.  It is one of my favorite parts of Atlanta, and is home to one of the best restaurants in the city, Cakes & Ale.

I’ve,eaten here before, but I swear it gets better every time.  This was no exception.  In fact, our meal here was one of the best meals I’ve had in recent memory in Atlanta.  Thus, it will be known as…

Me and Sarah


We elected to sit at the bar, which I typically find to be the best seat in the house.  A good bartender knows everything about the restaurant – from menu to cocktails – and will often let you sample things.

Evan at Cakes & Ale is a good bartender.  He started us off well with a gin drink for Sarah and his take on a Manhattan for me.

Cakes & Ale bar


This most excellent bartender surprised us with a small gift – Arancini with citrus and fennel pollen!  This is one of my favorite dished there.  Imagine a cheese stick, but as a rice ball with fun spices.  We also ordered the butternut squash “hummus” with naan, pomegranate, cilantro, and za’atar to start.  I thought my butternut hummus was good… but the impossibly smooth, whipped quality of this pseudo-hummus stole me heart.

Our mains were a roasted cauliflower and shell beans with turnips, carrots, arugula, feta, and poached egg and a Striped Bass with creamed savoy cabbage, roasted fennel salsa, smoked beets, black trumpet mushrooms.  The smoked beets deserve a paragraph of them own.  I’ll save you the pontificating and just say that they were go good that upon first bite Sarah and I both paused in stunned silence.

Cakes & Ale Decatur

Just when we thought things couldn’t get better, the bartender sold us on dessert.  It was a hazelnut Bavarian cake with praline bavarian mousse, vanilla sauce, and topped with a nougatine.

That sounds wonderful, but his personal description is what sealed the deal for me.  He called it “slutty cake.”

slutty cake

It was the best kind of slutty.  Rich, decadent, cream-filled… silky smooth…

I need a cold shower jut remembering it, so this will conclude What I Ate with Sarah.  Check out all the link ups here.  And check out Sarah’s recaps here and here.


Don’t forget click here to enter the giveaway for the Holiday Sampler box from Sizzlefish.  Win 1 for you and 1 to gift!

Have you ever had a food hangover?  The struggle is real!

What is the best meal you’ve had at a restaurant?


A Relaxing Weekend

This weekend was relaxing.


My version of relaxing… which is active relaxed.

This was the first weekend in a long time where I didn’t HAVE to do anything productive.  I still did lots of things, but it was nice to not have a set agenda.

Friday night I had an impromptu dinner with my mom at local Italian restaurant Double Zero.  We had a great time catching up and eating. I hadn’t seen her since my competition!

My favorite dish was the grilled octopus with pancetta hash, asparagus puree, and citrus vinaigrette, but the lamb farro was a close second.  It was a smoke and braise lamb shoulder with apricots, figs, fresh ricotta, and a poached egg.  Next to all that the beet salad was underwhelming.

Double Zero


This next morning I woke up ravenous, so I threw together some quick pancakes.  I am not the Pancake Queen, so I was surprised when they turned out to be quite good!

I posted this Almond-Chocolate Pancake recipe here.  The topping was the icing on the (pan)cake. I used Lorann Oils Irish Cream flavor in it!

Almond Chocolate Pancakes


Then it was off to the gym for a glute workout with some of my teammates.  I normally workout solo and forgot how much fun it is to have a gym morning with friends!

After the workout we stood around talking about food (of course), and my friend Rachael revealed she hadn’t been to Whole Foods before!   I suggested a post-workout trip and off we went.  2 hours later, we were full of samples and hot bar boxes and Rachael learned why we lovingly call it “Whole Paycheck.”  She Instagrammed her finds – have you ever tried any of these items?  Black bean pasta and no-salt mustard are awesome!

Whole Foods finds


Saturday night I had a friend date with Kat.  I’ve been looking forward to catching up with her for weeks!  We talked and laughed for hours. You know those friends who just “get” you?  That’s Kat.

We ate at the bar at Kimball House.  Their cocktail program is incredible!  Their take on a Manhattan used cola bitters – coolest thing ever!  The food was ok… I’d go back for a pre-dinner drink or a nightcap.

Their take on a Manhattan with cola bitters, sautéed mushroom salad, and beef tartar


I took an “artsy” shot!  Sort of:

kimball house


Sunday was a beautiful day in Atlanta.  It was sunny and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky!  I decided to go for a run and enjoy the weather… as soon as I stepped outside I realized that – despite the sun – it was in the 30s.  About a mile into it I thawed out and enjoyed myself.

I love the trees with the red leaves.  They look like they’re on fire!


When I returned I had a lot to do in the kitchen.  All fun creations!  It was kombucha-brewing day.  I have been brewing my own for over a year now.  It’s really easy, especially if you have a starter kit (you need a “mother” called a scoby).  Mine was from Brooklyn Kombucha, but you could also beg a friend who brews for a scoby.

This week’s flavors are cranberry-ginger-lemon and blackberry-lemon-mint.



I also did some baking for the Sunday evening end of season party at my training gym, House of Payne.  I’ll share my #strangebugood brownie recipe next week. 😉

This is what happens when a bunch of competitors get together for a post-season party.  It’s ok… we’re bulking… 


There were plenty of green veggies, clean sweet potato casseroles, and protein.  That pic just wasn’t as much fun.

I am so thankful to have found Steve and his gym.  This group of competitors is top-notch.  Everyone is kind and always willing to lend a hand.  They are funny, genuine people who I am proud to be associated with.

Team House of Payne


Linking up to Katie’s MIMM again – I’d say this “relaxing” weekend was pretty marvelous!


I’m 100% enjoying food freedom again.  Bulking season is my favorite.

When was the last time you had an agenda-free weekend?

Have you been to Whole Foods?  Do you remember your first time?  


Yogurt Cocktails + 70/100 Miles

Cocktails as a health food?


Could be #strangebutgood

Yogurt cocktails are apparently a thing.  I can’t imagine the texture.  Or how the booze doesn’t curdle it… but this looks mighty tasty.

Heirloom Tomato and Frozen Goat Yogurt Float

Heirloom Tomato and Frozen Goat Yogurt Float


This article claims it “sounds terrible, tastes good.  I’d try it… click through to read them all.  Some are really cool.  You get probiotics and protein.  I’d try it… would you?

I want to make a few of these into a breakfast meal!  Maybe without the booze.  Unless it’s Sunday Funday.


Enough of my sober competition diet cravings!  Kat is back this week with a much healthier post about the crazy 100 mile race she did.  This is truly awe-inspiring…


70/100 Miles, Not Bad!

(A race report…and adventures on my radar)

By: Kat

I ran 70 miles (out of 100) at the Oil Creek 100 (Editor’s note: Total slacker).  While it is a DNF (Did Not Finish), I’m not injured, and I’m healing up nicely.

Happiness is a Manner of Travel


The first 62.2 miles were incredible, and I was right on my expected pace as I crossed in to an aid station, after finishing my first 100K.

I ran a great 70 miles, but a couple of things went wrong in the last 5-6 that caused me to stop, honor my body, and get pumped to try 100 again.  (Editor’s note: And this is just one more reason why I admire you.) 



The race started at 5:00am, and I was off.  It’s a race with 3 50K loops (31.1 miles), and then another 7.7 mile loop at the end.  I made it through 2 loops, and another 7-8 miles, totaling 70 miles.  I ran from 5:00am until about 11:15pm.  18 hours on my feet, a new distance record, and an awesome day leaves me feeling so grateful for a healthy, strong, body and mind.


My new friend, Mark, decided we would run it together, so I could help him slow his pace, and he would help me finish.  (Editor’s note: Race friends are the best!)  We started together and ran well together for over 40 miles.  My pace was nearly perfect, which allowed me ample time at the Aid Stations where I had my drop bag.  I had plenty of nutrition, was taking care of lubing the places that needed lubing, and really enjoying the day.



Oil creek was gorgeous!  I ran the first 50-ish miles with my friend Gabe.  It’s amazing the things you learn about people on the trails.  We had very intimate conversations about any number of topics from relationships, to food and nutrition, to past experiences, lifestyle, etc.  With Mark as well, we talked about so many things that I feel like I have known both of these men for years and years.

Across ages, socio-economic status, and so many other differences, the trails are a place where you bond with other human beings like you don’t in many other situations.


This was the most I had ever run with the same 1-2 people in a race, and it made me feel wonderful!  I literally had a smile on my face 95% of the day.  (Editor’s note: That’s the first thing I noticed about these pics – you look beautiful and radiant in your element.)



What I learned: 

So a few things went wrong in the last 6 miles.  My shoe laces fell out of my right shoe when I stepped in mud, and my foot got stuck, my headlamp batteries started to die, I forgot to eat enough calories, and I was chafing between my butt cheeks and other nether-regions (Editor’s note: Ewwww! 😉 ).  And then I realized I was all alone with 30 miles to go.  I felt a twinge of something in my right hamstring and thought, I will be out here for another 8 hours by myself, through the night, risking injury.


That being said, I decided that I want to run 100 miles, but I need a pacer (someone to run with you, make sure you get food and water, make sure you’re not talking yourself out of finishing, helping you with your headlamp and other various things, like lubing your butt).  So, I have decided to run another 100 in the spring.  I have had 3 volunteer pacers and I can’t wait to get back at it!  (Editor’s note:  I’ll pace you.  For 5K.  LOL!)




 In the meantime, I have found a new trail hobby to keep me busy while I heal.  Horseback riding.  I started a few weeks ago, and I am loving getting to know the horses, spend time on trails and be with nature.  I’ve been riding at Serenbe, a 1,000-acre sustainable living community, just south of Atlanta.  It’s beautiful and amazing.  (Editor’s note: I have been there a few times and it is the most serene environment!  With good food.)

It’s also a great workout that allows me to fly though trails and get some good endorphins flowing while I have myself on running restriction to heal.  I have told myself not to run farther than 6 miles for 3 weeks.  I’m halfway through these weeks!  Horsey-rehab and healing my body!


Maggie, the fastest ride, and super fun!


I have also decided on my next 100 miler, and another fun running-swimming race to do in Sweden next year, ÖTILLÖ, where teams of two race together from island to island (Ö TILL Ö) from Sandhamn to Utö in the Stockholm archipelago. The teams swim between the 26 islands and run on them.

The total distance is 75 kilometers of which 10 km are swimming and 65 km are running!


Reading this I now realize why Kat said she’d run with me this weekend.  I’m a short distance pacer.  LOL!

What do you do for rest and recovery after a big race or competition?  Yes.  Waffle House after every competition!

Do you start planning your next adventures right away?  What adventures are on your radar!?


Marvelous Memorable Meals in Napa

Food is a significant part of any trip for me.


Sometimes it’s the whole reason for the trip…

This past week’s trip to California was no exception.  There was plenty of wine in wine-country, but the food was equally important.

After a looooong day of travel, all Lisa and I could think of when we hit the valley was wine food.  We’d already scoped out our dinner destination: Farmstead.  Farmstead is a farm (named Long Meadow Ranch) and a restaurant.  They have their own vineyards, gardens, and chicken.  Quite literally, it is a farm-to-table restaurant.

Our sights were set on a runny farm-fresh egg atop a steak tartar with capers, cornichons, tabasco, and toast.  It was fantastic.  The meat was also directly from the farm – the freshness of it made all the difference in the world.  It’s amazing neither of us licked the plate.

Farmstead steak tartare


We split a couple of other dishes as well.

The first was a grilled peach salad with speck (a cured meat similar to prosciutto), arugula, and house made ricotta.  It was good… but the peach to salty stuff was a bit off (the peaches were in too big of pieces).  That purple basil made the dish.  Wil be remebering that in the future!

Farmstead grilled peaches


The second was a grilled artichoke with gribiche (like an aioli) and lemon.  Simple and yet so good.  This preparation always makes me wish I had a grill!

Grilled artichokes
As fabulous as all of that was, the crowning jewel was dessert.  My first birthday cake of the trip was a Scharffenberger chocolate cream pie with graham cracker crust.  It was so fantastically fresh and delicious!

The crust actually tasted like it may have had some coconut, but we were assured it was just a good, old-fashioned homemade graham crust.  We talked about it lovingly for the rest of the trip.

Farmstead birthday


The other food we went on a mission for was a burger from Goose & Gander.  From the moment we walked in I knew we couldn’t have made a better choice.  The outdoor seating area alone was worth the trip.  There were lights strung across the courtyard, quaint iron tables, and tall fence “walls” covered with vines and gorgeous colorful flowers.

First thing’s first though.  A craft cocktail.  Apparently the mixologist is something of a cocktail rockstar, so we were excited to try some creative concoctions.  I went with the “Scarlet Gander.”   It was Hanger One Buddha’s Hand Citron Vodka, ginger, shiso, galangal, lemon, and rhubarb.  Not like anything  I would typically order, but the flavors were so unique I couldn’t pass it up.  It did not disappoint – these flavors were strange but good. 😉

Scarlet Gander


We begin the meal with a salad.  Our waiter recommended we try the watermelon and Rock Shrimp salad.  The melons they used were the traditional pink AND a yellow melon.  It made for a gorgeous plating!

It was served roasted peanuts and a Thai chili dressing that he swore would be a 9 on the heat scale.  It wasn’t even close to a 9, but the salad was still delicious.

Goose & Gander melon and shrimp salad


Now for the reason we came: the burger.  Multiple people told us that the burger here was the best burger around, and that it shouldn’t be missed.  It isn’t the #1 burger I’ve ever eaten, but it’s certainly top 3.  I was really glad we decided to split it… it was massive and that much indulgence would be a stomach ache waiting to happen.

The bun (from Model Bakery) was perfection  It kind of looks soggy in the pic, but it really wasn’t.  It held up to the fantastically juicy grass-fed beef burger, which was topped with bone marrow (meat butter), Gruyere cheese, house smoked bacon, and pickles.  Served with a side of duck fat fries (duck fat = crispier fries).

Goose and Gander burger


Between the craft cocktails, “famous” burger, and duck fat fries, Goose & Gander reminded me a lot of Atlanta’s Holeman & Finch (highly recommended if you are ever here).

We ate a lot more than this, but memories of these meals in particular (and the amazing company) are making my Monday Marvelous.

Marvelous Monday


Moral of the story: always ask the locals what they eat.  You’ll find the coolest places and the must-try dishes.

Have you ever been to the Napa area?  

Are you adamant about researching the must-try restaurants when you travel?