Seasons 52: My Kind of Restaurant

It’s been almost a year that Denver has been anticipating the arrival of our very first Seasons 52 restaurant.

I first met Seasons 52 at their Costa Mesa location with Janelle and Natalie, and fell in love with their location on the Kansas City Plaza during Natalie’s wedding weekend.  The fact that Denver was getting their very own franchise made me VERY happy!!!

I’ve been keeping my eye on the construction as the building was finished down in the Park Meadows/Lone Tree area of the city.  When the signage started popping up, I reached out to Seasons 52 to see if they would be having a pre-view event and offered to join to cover the event via NTTC.

I was THRILLED when I heard back that I had been formally invited to attend with a guest.

Seasons 52 Lone Tree | No Thanks to Cak

We made a reservation and planned to visit the location on Monday.  I invited my gal pal Tiffany to dine with me, as she too is always a fan of healthy dining options. Arriving to see a sign like this always makes me feel a little bit VIP…

Seasons 52 Lone Tree | No Thanks to Cake

What is Seasons 52?  Their website describes the restaurant as a fresh grill and wine bar, and I think that’s a great description.    They have a gorgeous dining room that definitely reminds me of some of my favorite wine bars.  Mostly, to me, Seasons 52 is a fantastic choice for healthy, guilt-free dining.  The perfect dining destination for anyone working to stay on track with their healthy eating, yet not willing to sacrifice an evening out with friends!

Seasons 52 Lone Tree | No Thanks to Cake

What that tagline lacks is the revealing that everything on their menu is under 475 calories per dish and their seasonal menu is inspired by the delicious flavors of the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables.  They also offer a new menu each season and weekly chef’s specials… thus the name Seasons 52.

Seasons 52 Lone Tree | No Thanks to Cake

We arrived just in time for the Autumn menu to be presented.  It was loaded with the season’s favorites:  brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and pomegranate.  I also learned that they carry 52 different wines by the glass!  I indulged in a tasty glass of Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc… delish!  And, check out their super cute glasses!

Seasons 52 Lone Tree | No Thanks to CakeTiffany and I had a heck of a time deciding what to eat… mostly because everything sounded so good and (as always) because we were chatting it up too much to focus on the menu.  We decided to get started with the Garlic Pesto Chicken Flatbread.  I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a more perfect flatbread.  The crust was thin, crispy, and flaky… topped with warm pesto, chicken, and cheese, finished with arugula and a garlicky sauce.  Yum!!

Seasons 52 Lone Tree | No Thanks to Cake

I was also very impressed that the restaurant not only cared for calorie counts and provides nutritional information, but they also have a considerable amount of menu options for just about any special dietary needs.  Click here for more details.  Our server Christy was also incredibly willing to accommodate any dietary needs (for me:  picky eating habits) that we needed.

For our main courses, we went for traditional entrees.  I picked the Oak-Grilled Filet Mignon, served over mashed potatoes with mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and broccolini.  All topped with a red wine reduction.  Yum-O!

Seasons 52 Lone Tree | No Thanks to Cake

Tiffany opted for the Oak Grilled Rack of Lamb… served with caramelized root vegetables, mashed potatoes, with a pomegranate sauce.  Check out the presentation on this dish… it also was the first time I’d ever tried lamb.  Thanks for the bite, Tiff!

Seasons 52 Lone Tree | No Thanks to Cake

As if that weren’t enough, the wait staff also came by with a flight of desserts for us to choose from. OMG….

Seasons 52 Lone Tree | No Thanks to Cake

I am a huge fan of these little mini desserts.  Just a few bites of deliciousness is all you really need when it comes to desserts.  I chose the Carrot Cake, while Tiffany enjoyed the Mocha Macchiato.  Both were incredible!!!  Note the candied carrot on mine.  Amazing!

Dessert Seasons 52 Lone Tree | No Thanks to Cake

After dinner we got a quick pic in the bar and agreed that we have a new favorite spot in Park Meadows.  Thanks for a lovely evening, Seasons 52.  We can’t wait to come back!

Seasons 52 Lone Tree | No Thanks to Cake

To find a Seasons 52 near you, click here.

Seasons 52 Lone Tree | No Thanks to Cake

Disclaimer:  My meal at Seasons 52 was complimentary; however, all of the opinions expressed above are my own.

Have you ever dined at a Seasons 52?

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How I Spent My Blogcation: California Edition

I hope you all had a great week.  I can’t even tell you how strange it felt to not be checking in much over the past week, but I truthfully had so much going on that there just wasn’t time to blog.  So how was I filling my time??

I Jetsetted to California!

Last Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early and headed to Southern California!  I had my annual work trip to Orange County last week and added a few days of fun and sun onto the trip.  And, I got to spend time with this girl!

Crystal and Kelly | No Thanks to Cake

Crystal and I have known each other for years now.  Former co-workers and great friends, I definitely don’t feel like I get to see this girl nearly enough!

This trip was especially lovely in that I got to meet Crystal’s family (who I’ve heard about for years!) and visit her home… She lives in Temecula, right in the middle of wine country.  The timing for the visit was perfect in that we got to enjoy the Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival.

Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival | No Thanks to Cake

Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival | No Thanks to Cake

And, we drank a LOT of wine.  WAY too much wine.  And, don’t be surprised that I couldn’t keep up with the locals.

Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival | No Thanks to Cake

Before heading to Orange County the next day, Crystal and I hit her local gym, where I enjoyed the most amazing yoga class.

Yoga in Temecula | No Thanks to Cake

Before leaving Temecula, we visited one of the beautiful wineries in the area:  Leoness Cellars.  We packed up a little lunch and headed over there to enjoy a glass of white wine on the terrace… delicious!

Leoness Cellars | No Thanks to Cake

Afterward, Crystal was nice enough to drive me up to Orange County where I met up with the lovely Janelle.  Traffic in SoCal was insane, so we ended up meeting up in San Juan Capistrano.  What an adorable little “old town” area!  We had a wonderful dinner visiting and catching up at Guapas Tapas – - Check out the gazpacho cucumber cups below!  Amazing!!

San Juan Capistrano | No Thanks to Cake

I wrapped up the week in Orange County with co-workers.  Long days of learning and networking, I learned a lot and was exhausted by the time I came home late on Wednesday night.

And this is just the beginning of the week!  

Have you been to Temecula Wine Country or beautiful San Juan Capistrano?

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Girls Getaway in the Mountains

March 2nd marked my SEVEN year anniversary of living in Colorado… and for those of you in Tennessee, can you believe it??  It seems like just yesterday that I packed up all my essentials and moved across country!  Seven years later, I am so happy I made the decision to move!

Now, even though I’ve lived here for that long… I finally did something that is VERY Colorado for the first time.

I finally went to the mountains in the winter!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

Now, I’ve spent a bit of time up in the high country during the summer… but I’m not a skier or snowboarder, and I’m not the best driver in the snow and ice… so I never quite made it up there until this weekend!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

When Kristen invited a group of girls to her dad’s condo in Winter Park, I couldn’t resist joining in!  I met Kristen through my friend Tiffany, and I just love her positive spirit!  She’s a native Colorado girl… so who better to serve as tour guide to this Southerner’s first trip up!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

We ended up being a party of 4 – Kristen, Tiffany, and Ashley (who I just met for the first time this weekend!)

Girls' Weekend | No Thanks to Cake

We drove up to Winter Park on Saturday morning.  After unloading our stuff in the condo, we headed to The Village for lunch.  Kristen introduced us to our first ride on a people mover.  It is sort of like a lift, yet just moves you from parking lot to the village.

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

While there are Cheeky Monk locations in Denver, I had never been and we were all craving a hot meal on such a cold, cold day, especially after the windy ride in the people mover!  I settled on a Blackened Chicken Pita Wrap with a salad instead of fries.  So good!!!

Cheeky Monk Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

Afterward, we walked around the Village popping into souvenir shops and visiting along the way.  The snow was coming down, but we didn’t let that slow us down!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

We initially had great aspirations of going snowshoeing and playing in the snow, but when we were done with lunch and shopping, all we really wanted to do was head back to the condo and curl up on the leather couches in front of the fireplace.

This was my view for the next few hours… curled up under a down blanket.  We watched a movie, and some of us (me) took a nap.

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

Later that night, Kristen took us to her favorite pizza place for dinner – Hernando’s.  Such a fun little place with great pizza!  It’s been a while since I had real-deal pizza… so good!

Hernandos Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

Afterward, we went back to the condo, back to the fireplace, and opened a bottle of wine.  We snacked on green velvet angel food cake, and we found a fun game to play in the condo.  Have you ever played Table Topics?

Table Topics | No Thanks to Cake

It’s supposed to be a conversation starter, but we had so many fun answering questions that we did this for hours!  Here are some examples of what questions in the box look like.

Table Topics | No Thanks to Cake

It was so fun getting to know these girls better and JUST RELAXING a little on a Saturday night.  What a great way to re-energize after a huge work week!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

We ended up grabbing a quick breakfast and heading home in the morning, so as to avoid crazy ski traffic.  Overall, I had a blast… and I know a little more what to expect next time I’m up there.  It also makes me want to spend more time up in the mountains and to see more beautiful places like this!

Thanks, Kristen, Tiffany, and Ashley, for a wonderful weekend… I look forward to spending time with you guys again very soon!  xoxo

Have you ever spent the weekend in the mountains?  What’s your favorite thing to do while there?

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Overcoming an Occupational Weight Loss Hazard

As of the first of the year, I got sorta-kinda-but-not-really-yet-in-a-way promoted.  My company did a reorganization of my department, and while my paycheck still looks the same, I took on a whole heck of a lot more responsibility and stress.

Nearly two months in, I’m sort of regaining my stride (sort of), but something new has popped up that is so crazy.

I’m entertaining customers over meals on most days!  Last week alone, I had three meals at fabulous restaurants in town (Denver folks:  The Rio, Pappadeaux, and Jason’s Deli.)  Now, the foodie in me gets excited, but that girl who just re-committed to weight loss freaks out a little…

All I REALLY want to do is to be left alone to my Jenny lunches and my pre-planned snacks.  That would be so much easier… but I can’t really take my food to the restaurant and not eating with the client would be just plain awkward.

So, I’ve been learning to work with it… and I thought I’d share a few tips I’m come up with.

Dining Out Tips | No Thanks to Cake
Check out the Menu Ahead of Time

I am notorious for this.  When I get an invite to dinner/lunch, I always go online and see what the options look like.  Most chain restaurants will even have a nutrition guide posted, which I’ll reference when making my choices.

I can always find SOMETHING to eat.

Also, the trick about reviewing the menu and choosing your meal ahead of time is that you will not get distracted by the menu when it’s crunch time.  For me, I also walk into the restaurant completely confident about what I’m eating and that I’m staying on track… which assures I’m going to enjoy my night.

Don’t be Afraid to Customize Your Meal

I used to be a little hesitant to ask for special requests with my meals.  I never like to draw attention to my strange order, but at this point… I just don’t care anymore.  I like my food my way (after all, I’m Sally Albright), and there are so many people that are ordering even stranger meals than I do…

Be clear and specific about what you want.  Break it down for the server clearly, and thank them profusely for building your salad just the way you want it.

Example of a recent order:  At Pappadeaux this week, I ordered the Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken (no breading), instead of fried, no cheese, no croutons, no bacon, no egg.  Add extra tomatoes and cucumbers, with a light vinaigrette on the side.  The server didn’t even flinch, and the order came out perfectly…

NTTC Bonus Tip:  Scan the other salads for extra veggies you want to add to your salad.  I always do this!

Pre-Party with Your Own Appetizer

Load up on a healthy snack before you head to your event.  Most times, I choose vegetables because they’re incredibly filling and low-calorie.  Example:  Here is the snack I ate before I went to a work dinner this week.

Dining Out Tips from NTTC | No Thanks to Cake

These vegetables with my Roasted Red Pepper Dip filled me up nicely before I arrived at the restaurant.  This helped me to ignore the bread on the table and to say “No Thanks” to the appetizers that were passed around the table. #NTTA

Plan for an On-Track Day for All Your Other Meals

You may have one meal that is a little in-flux, but the remaining two and all the snacks you eat throughout the day should be on point.  I find this easy to do by using my Jenny foods.  I’ll write down exactly what I intend to eat for the planned meals, and then pick my restaurant choice based upon balancing out the rest of my day.  Example:  If my day is carb heavy, maybe that meal out needs to be carb-free.

Regardless, make a plan for the entire day… and stick to it!

Watch Your Liquid Calories

With socializing, there is often alcohol present.  As you talk and laugh throughout the night, you may lose count of how many glasses of wine you have or mixed drinks you down.  Set a target for what you will consume while you’re out before you walk into the restaurant.  Maybe it’s one glass of wine, and if so, consider pairing it with your meal for the most enjoyment.

Wine

Wet your whistle the remainder of the night with water, and lots of it.  This will help you stay hydrated, avoid ordering more vodka, and keep you satisfied.

Enjoy Your Time

Your friends, family, and co-worker want to visit with you and enjoy time with you.  They are not watching what you are eating like you are.  Relax, create your plan, and enjoy your night.

What other tips do you have for staying on track while dining out?

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