Archive | February, 2012

It’s Feb 29th, Prices Take a Leap!

29 Feb

It's Leap Year, any excuse to offer a deal is a good one, right?!

Despite what we learned in grade school, our planet actually takes 365 1/4 days to revolve around the sun. To catch up on the annual six extra hours, we add a day to our calendar every four years to keep us in sync with the sun. Without leap day, our seasons would shift and over time we’d literally end up celebrating Christmas in July.

In celebration of this rare occasion retailers are offering deals to intice you into their establishments for the “holiday.” And restaurants (chains as well as mom and pop’s) are no exception. We’ve heard whispers of special deals at fast food establishments, like menu items for $0.29 or sit down eateries like Denny’s promoting 29% off your check. Some places like Outback Steakhouse are offering a chance to win four years of free Outback if you visit their facebook page.

Today only save 29% off your bill at Denny's

Other deals include:

Act fast though, these specials are for today only and won’t come around again for another four years!! Do you know of any Leap Year deals near you?!

It’s Oscar Time Again! And the Academy Award Goes To . . . ?

24 Feb
the academy awards

It's Oscar time again! Have you seen this year's contenders? It's not too late, the show airs this Sunday, Feb 26th.

So the Academy Awards are this weekend and leading up to the big show, movie theatres (the savvy ones anyway) always replay the nominated movies for the major categories. One of this year’s heavyweight’s is a film called “The Artist”  and is about the relationship between an older man who is a star of silent films and a young actress. The film takes place in Hollywood,  between 1927 and 1932 and parallel to the romantic plot is the storyline of the silent films being replaced by the “talkies” and how some stars were not able to make the transition.

The film is also shot to look more like an older film as well which I thought was a really nice nod to the era in which it was set to take place. Watching a black and white, silent film is a movie-going experience that generations have missed out on and to be able to see one again on the big screen shot with today’s much improved cameras is a real treat, not to be missed.

And speaking of treats not to be missed, another experience that not too many movie-goers nowadays get to enjoy is eating actual meals while watching a movie. AMC Theatres has brought back food in the cinema at a few select locations, they are called AMC Dine-In Theatres, they provide full sit down meal service, and if you’re 21 or older you can even order an alcoholic beverage! Kettle corn popcorn and junior mints are my go-to snacks for watching a movie, but how cool would it be to enjoy some salmon or a grilled chicken salad instead?

My point is that movie going is an ever evolving experience, from the type of films, to the technology, to the amenities a theatre provides. Now mom & pop dinner movie-houses have been around for a while and it’s nice to see that a sit down meal at the movies has become available at a larger chain, even if in a limited capacity.

So this weekend if you’re headed out to catch some Oscar nominated flicks at the last-minute, why not see if there’s a dinner movie-house near you to enrich your experience? And if you haven’t seen it, definitely check out “The Artist” it’s already done so well at the Golden Globes, it’s Oscar success is almost in the bag.

Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Tuesday!

21 Feb

Fat Tuesday is the Mardi Gras inspired restaurant where it is always Carnival!

Happy Mardi Gras Day everyone! If you’re lucky enough to be in New Orleans, Rio, Venice, Senegal or any of the other big Carnivale cities around the world today, have a blast, be safe, and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! But if you’re not, you can still enjoy the ambiance (sans the flashing and giant floats) of Mardi Gras at Fat Tuesday restaurant.

Fat Tuesday will be Mardi Gras Party Central at each of their locations across the nation today, on “Fat Tuesday” February 21, 2012. There will be a host of Mardi Gras activities at each location, contact a Fat Tuesday near you for details and get your party on before the start of Lent.

This year I will be giving up meat for Lent. I did so well during National Vegetarian Month this past October that I think I can go the extra 10 days. I have always liked the idea of Mardi Gras (which is French for Fat Tuesday FYI) because while discipline is important, it is also important to have fun and enjoy life.

Get your purple, green, and gold together to celebrate before the start of Lent

Even better is the fact that Mardi Gras celebrations are before Lent which is a lot like eating dessert before dinner, going out before your homework is done, or basically rewarding yourself before you’ve achieved your goal. And then we get to celebrate again after Lent is over at Easter!

How will you be spending your Fat Tuesday? Tell us about Mardi Gras celebrations going on near you.

Food: The Best Heart Medicine

17 Feb

Nuts are just one of the many foods that can improve your heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Hippocrates said more than 2,000 years ago, “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” A cabinet full of prescription drugs can’t replace all the benefits of a heart-healthy diet. In honor of National Heart Month lets take a look at which foods promote heart health and how they prevent heart disease before medicine becomes necessary.  A wide range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and lean proteins can help your heart stay healthy and strong. Here are a few examples of heart-healthy foods to incorporate into your diet and why:

  • Oranges – fiber rich, which prevents cholesterol from being absorbed by the body & potassium lowers sodium & keeps blood pressure down. Citrus fruits also neutralize the galectin-3 protein that can scar heart tissue & lead to heart failure.
  • Kale – boosts antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, potassium,  vitamin E, plus it has an unusual compound, glucoraphanin which protects arteries from plaque build-up.
  • Garlic - fights high blood pressure, also helps prevent plaque build-up in blood vessels and keeps them from constricting.
  • Red wine – increases good cholesterol count (in moderation) which helps keep blood vessels flexible and reduces unwanted clotting. 
  • Dark Chocolate – rich in flavanols which also improve blood vessel flexibility and reduces blood pressure.
  • Sardines – contain omega-3 fatty acids like most cold water fish, these “good fats” reduce risk of heart arrhythmias and inflammation. Inflammation is what ultimately destabilizes plaque that has built-up in blood vessels and produces a heart-attack inducing blood clot.
  • Lentils – lean vegetable protein, fiber, magnesium and potassium all of which keep blood pressure under control.
  • Almonds – rich in “good” HDL cholesterol and help reduce the “bad” LDL cholesterol. Walnuts, pistachios, and peanuts are also good.
  • Pomegranates – reduce atherosclerosis by preventing the oxidation of “bad” cholesterol which is what creates plaque. Also activate an enzyme that breaks down oxidized cholesterol, plus they’re fun to eat!

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States and the most effective remedies and methods of prevention are available at your local grocery store and can be ordered while out on a dinner date. Of course you won’t disease-proof your heart by simply adding these items to a diet full of doughnuts and bacon. So as always make smart choices and if you’re going to indulge in something fried and fatty do so in moderation.

Yum it’s Black History Month!

16 Feb

Celebrate with food in addition to brushing up on your Black History facts, collard greens anyone?!

In addition to brushing up on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. facts and checking in to see what the Rev. Al Sharpton is up to,  celebrate Black History Month by sampling some food! Food is such a huge part of any group’s culture and it’s one that everyone can enjoy! So far this month I’ve been to an Ethiopian restaurant, two Soul Food restaurants and even a Jamaican spot. Now before you say that not all of those are “African-American” cuisine, I’d like to point out that the chefs who are running these establishments brought their culinary gifts to this country just like every other immigrant so I believe it counts! Plus it was all really, really yummy!

Fun fact, did you know that we have George Washington Carver, an African-American agricultural chemist to thank for peanut butter? Just one of his many accomplishments! Born in 1864 in Missouri, Carver was a determined man who was passionate about plants. He earned  his Master of Science degree in bacterial botany and agriculture in 1897 where he broke down racial barriers and became the first African-American to attend and to teach at several universities in the South. At the invitation of Booker T. Washington, Carver ultimately became a professor at Tuskegee University where he developed his crop rotation method. Carver educated farmers to alternate the soil-depleting cotton crops with soil-enriching crops such as; peanuts, peas, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and pecans and essentially revitalized the then struggling Southern agriculture industry.

George Washington Carver revolutionized the American Agriculture industry AND he gave us Peanut Butter! Thank you Mr. Carver!

Black History Month is great, but sometimes refreshing ourselves on the history can be a bit of a downer. While it’s important to remind ourselves about our complete past (good and bad),  there’s a lot more to Black History in America than slavery, race riots, and civil rights. There are plenty of African-American accomplishments, like those of Mr. Carver, that have nothing to do with overcoming  conflict. There are amazing Black  filmmakers,  artists, athletes, scholars, and of course chefs; all of whom have reached their achievements just by being themselves and loving what they do. Which is the ultimate point, I think of months like these, to get over past struggles and recognize that regardless of race or gender (Women’s History Month is up next!) when you work hard and have a passion for what you do anything is possible!

P.S. If you haven’t yet go see Red Tails!! It’s an amazing film and if there’s a soul food spot you can hit up before-hand, even better!

Last Minute Valentine

13 Feb

Romance can take many forms. Waffle House is a cozy and family-friendly Valentine's Day treat!

Still no plans for Valentine’s Day? Or did you make plans for the weekend, but still want to observe the actual day? It’s not too late! Sometimes you don’t need to go all out, it’s just nice to not have to cook. There are a few chain restaurants that you can still make plans to have something to do on for Valentine’s Day and save the big to-do for the weekend.

Once again, The Waffle House will offer white tablecloth service by candlelight tomorrow night at more than 110 locations nationwide.  Participating Waffle House’s will feature a special Valentine’s Day menu but all the usual favorites will still be available. Even with the romantic atmosphere, The Waffle House is still a family friendly Valentine’s Day treat. So if you don’t have a sitter and want to take all your loved ones out on a date, Waffle House might be a nice way to go!

Olive Garden is offering one lucky couple the romantic trip of a lifetime. Don't enter ya'll because I want to win!

OpenTable recently conducted a survey that revealed 35% of their diners think Italian cuisine is the most romantic Valentine’s Day dinner choice. The Olive Garden is trying to keep that idea alive by not only inviting guests to  enjoy a three-course meal for $12.95 (pending location & for a limited time), but they have also announced their ‘Sweetheart Sweepstakes.’ Now through February 19th you can enter to win a romantic 7-night trip for two to Italy by visiting the Olive Garden Facebook page. There are also daily drawings to win a $25 gift card to the restaurant when you enter the sweepstakes.

And for those of us ladies who don’t have a Valentine this year, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers is inviting you to round up their girlfriends and come in on Feb. 14 for Girls’ Night Out. Select locations are offering half price bottles of wine and dessert. In honor of Valentine’s Day Red Robin will debut a new dessert, the Gooey Chocolate Brownie Cake – available for just $1.99 on Feb. 14 with the purchase of a burger, entrée or salad.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

10 Feb

Say "I do" over Pizza?

With V-day falling on a Tuesday this year I’m going to err on the side of caution on post early for all of those who will be getting started on the festivities this weekend. Naturally restaurants everywhere are going crazy with promos for Valentine’s Day. Some high-end chains like The Melting Pot are featuring special menus at some locations as well as Valentine’s Day chocolates.  While other’s like Morton’s The Steakhouse already know that they are a Valentine’s Day go-to spot and thrive on special occasions like Valentine’s Day. 

However, this year I was surprised to see some fast food chains are making Valentine’s Day special offerings as well. For example Pizza Hut is offering a “Tie the knot with the $10 Dinner Box” promotion! Yup, that’s right Pizza Hut fancies themselves a perfectly romantic method for proposing one of the most important questions you will ever ask in your life! I couldn’t believe it myself so I had to take a closer look and actually what they’re offering isn’t half bad.

The Promo is called the $10 Dinner Box but it actually costs $10,010 and includes a red ruby engagement ring, a limo, flowers, fireworks, a photographer and a videographer and of course the ever so romantic $10 pizza box! Not too shabby for the low-key couple who is looking to catch their partner off guard with pizza in a box! Pizza Hut must be testing the waters with this one because there are only 10 packages available. I wonder if anyone has actually bought this?!!

Kurt Kane, Pizza Hut CMO, explains how Pizza Hut came up with the idea, “If we’re able to fit pizza, bread sticks and dessert into one box for only $10, why stop there? Our customers want the best of everything, from their food to memorable life experiences.” Explains Kane, “So we decided to make one of those experiences – the marriage proposal – second-to-none and offer it at PizzaHut.com right alongside the new $10 Dinner Box.”

Hmmmmm, it certainly is a unique idea, but I don’t know . . . Ladies would you say “yes” over Pizza Hut? But I guess in the end it really doesn’t matter that much how you propose as long as you’re in love and willing to make the commitment. And hey it’ll make one hell of a story! Maybe Pizza Hut is on to something . . . maybe . . . What do you think?

Do You Soup & Salad?

9 Feb

More and more people are turning to soups and salads as healthier options for dining out.

According to Technomic, a food industry research and consulting company, consumer purchases of soup and salad are on the rise since 2009, by 61% and 81% respectively! That’s quite a drastic increase and it got me thinking about my most recent food purchases while dining out and soup and salad have indeed been creeping into my habits.

Soup has picked up this time of year because of the cold weather. Nothing warms you up like a nice hot bowl of soup and the range of different types of soups has also increased to make soup that much more of an appealing option. Plus soup has a reputation for being good for people who are trying to eat healthier. Now just like with salads this is not always the case, for example if you go for the creamy lobster bisque with bacon you could be ingesting as many calories as if you hate burger or at least more calories than you are hoping to eat. But if it’s good a creamy lobster bisque might be well worth those calories!

Restaurants have also started offering a wider, more interesting variety of salads as well. If you’ve been to the Cheesecake Factory you know what I mean. And those salads mean business too, it comes at you like a tiny mountain and it is a hungry and tenacious diner that can make it to the end. In the more convenient faster food arena the soup and salad offerings at Cosi and Panera Bread are tempting as well. And if you can’t decide which one you want you can always go with a half and half, cup of soup and a half a salad. I love having my cake and eating it too, don’t you?

And if that wasn’t enough new restaurant chains devoted entirely to salads and soup have started to spring up as well. Chop’t is one of my new faves and I keep hearing wonderful things about Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes. Are you feeling this new trend? Take a moment and take our quick poll!

It’s Almost Game Time!! Super Bowl XLVI

3 Feb
Super Bowl XLVI

Super Bowl weekend is here! What will you be munching on come game time?

It’s time for Super Bowl 2012!!!! The NY Giants and the NE Patriots are the only contenders left for the ultimate NFL title, but you still have time to decide who will emerge victorious in the important decision about food! Super Bowl party hosts will be deciding between the usual take out food contenders, who will win at your house? You probably already know who you want to win the big game, but when it comes to grub the options are harder to narrow down. Will it be pizza or wings? Sandwiches or Nachos?

We have to wait until Sunday to find out who will win Super Bowl XLVI, but if you’re smart and don’t want to go hungry for the big game, you’re already figuring out what you are going to serve or bring to your Super Bowl party. And the big restaurant chains are ready for you with all kinds of deals to influence you to choose their “team.”

According to a poll from the National Restaurant Association, 61% of Americans said they would order pizza this Sunday. Fun fact, more pies are sold on Super Bowl Sunday then any other day of the year! The three big contenders are Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa John’s. As the “official pizza sponsor” of the NFL, Papa John’s expects to deliver 9 million slices!

I myself really like pizza, but I’m trying to stay healthy so maybe I’ll see which one of these has the best looking salad pizza? However, some of the people coming over to our house never watch a game without their wings and nachos. Decisions, decisions . . . one thing is for sure though, I’m all in for my NY Giants to beat those Pats for the second time!! GO BIG BLUE!!

Heart Disease, Eat Your Heart Out!

2 Feb
American Heart Association Go Red For Women

Heart disease is the #1 killer of American women, so this Month the AHA reminds you to be good to your heart and yourselves.

February is National Heart Month! The American Heart Association (AHA) which does such good work all year round raising funds and awareness about heart disease will get some well deserved recognition this month and hopefully so will your heart. A surprising and scary statistic shows that heart disease kills more women than cancer, so the AHA shows some love to the ladies with their “Go Red For Women”campaign. In fact tomorrow is National Wear Red Day so if you have some red in your closet break it out, wear it with pride, and tell your friends!

Being educated about heart disease (just as with anything else) is the first step in being able to prevent it. So I always like to draw attention to events like these because it never hurts to remind ourselves that these conditions are out there, what the warning signs are, and what we can do about it. Mimi’s Cafe, a French style bistro with 145 locations in 24 states thinks so too and they are the first national chain to partner with the AHA in order to get people involved for the cause. Starting with a free cup of soup to “warm the heart” of customers who wear red tomorrow!

I love it when restaurants get involved with health causes because what we eat is so instrumental in maintaining and improving our good health. Also, when restaurants support causes like National Heart Month, it only makes sense that they offer healthy menu options as well which is an overall win for everybody. The AHA knows that what you eat can impact your health and they offer a pretty good guide to dining out for anyone with a heart condition on their website.

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