Category Archives: Food & Fitness

5 Unique Meatballs to Try at The Meatball Shoppe

Whether you are of Italian lineage or not, nothing says “comfort food” quite like a nicely rolled sphere of ground meat, covered in sauce, sitting on a bed of bread. (Okay, unless you are a vegetarian**.)

The creators of The Meatball Shoppe, Jeff and Isabella Morgia, know this — and project the comfort and warmth associated with their food throughout their little shoppe on Lake Underhill Road.


Don’t be deceived by its location — The Meatball Shoppe is well worth a visit, even if you rarely find yourself in that neighborhood. It’s located in a shopping plaza immediately off 408, so it’s easy to access for anyone on that route (and is a quick 15 minute drive from downtown Orlando).

The Meatball Shoppe serves up their central dish to-go as well as in their dining room. You can choose how you want to eat it: on creamy polenta or pasta, on a bed of arugula or smashed in a sandwich with provolone (the “meatball smash”).

(And if you’ve decided that meatballs aren’t your thing, you can try one of their other pasta dishes (such as baked ziti), a focaccia pizza, or even a specially prepared portobello mushroom.)

As for the meatballs themselves? Jeff and Isabella have taken it upon themselves to prove that there is more than one way to make a meatball. Here are five unique meatballs you can find at The Meatball Shoppe — be warned, you might find yourself going back multiple times to try them all.


1. Spicy Pork Meatball. If you like your meatballs with a little kick, then this is the dish for you. Not too hot for the faint of heart, but just spicy enough to notice and enjoy. For double the spice, try it with the spicy pork sauce!


2. Mediterranean Grass-Fed Lamb Meatball. Served with pita bread and tzatziki sauce, you’ll find this halal-friendly meatball an unusual change of pace from the traditional Italian-style ground beef or sausage meatball. Home-made food is always the most tasty, but there is also a decent option if you try Plastic Casings | DCWCasings products.


3. Mac and Cheese Meatball. Yes, you read that right. It’s a cheesy risotto-style pasta stuffed inside a traditional meatball…and it is a real treat for cheese lovers. Try it in a meatball smash for an extra cheesy (and carb-loaded) experience.


4. Chicken Marsala Meatball. Just like your favorite comfort food dish, with a rich mushroom sauce — this is a Shoppe favorite!


5. Knights Buffalo Chicken Meatball. A new addition to the menu, served in a “smash” with lots of Knights pride!


When you’re done with the meatballs, don’t forget about dessert — The Meatball Shoppe is serving up delicious gelato, cannoli, and sfogiatelli for your sweet tooth too.

**Lest you think this place is just for carnivores, The Meatball Shoppe has vegetarians and vegans covered with a special all-veggie “meat”ball and pesto sauce as well as focaccia pizza options and portobello mushrooms!

If you’re looking for a new place for a comfort-food dinner that you can enjoy in the restaurant or take home to the family, don’t miss out on The Meatball Shoppe, located at 7325 Lake Underhill Rd, Orlando, FL.

BONUS: If you are a lover of good Italian food, make sure you roll over to RSVP to The Meatball Shoppe’s special event — a four course traditional Italian dinner with wine, prepared by Chef Isabella! Seats are limited, so RSVP today.


20 New Items on the Enzian & Eden Bar Menu

Enzian and Eden Bar have added twenty new food items to their existing menus, and as long as there are still truffle fries to be had, we’re supportive and pumped to try the new dishes.

“We are excited to provide new food items for our guests and the new items offer a broad range of delicious and affordable dishes,” said Veronica Jaramillo, Food & Beverage Manager. “We always aim to locally source our ingredients and make everything in-house, which is what we’ve done with these new items.”

So, head over to the Enzian to see “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” then check their calendar and pencil a few more films into your schedule (“The Human Centipede III,” anyone!? Maybe “Annie” is more your speed…), then make a few dates to meet at Eden Bar so you can try all of the new offerings. Appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, main courses and desserts are all getting an update.

We’ve got the scoop on all of the new items for you, so you can plan ahead. It’s hard to decide what to eat under the pressure of the lights dimming in the theatre. Enjoy!


Pickled Beet Hummus

Pickled Beet Hummus

Cream Cheese Stuffed Pretzels – Served with spicy mustard and raspberry sauce (or nacho cheese sauce for a little extra)

Pickled Beet Hummus  – Topped with bleu cheese crumbles & pine nuts, served with pita

Fried Oysters – Breaded and fried served with sweet and spicy sauce, tartar sauce, and hot sauce



Turkey Artichoke Salad – Spring mix, sliced turkey, pine nuts, black olives, banana peppers, marinated artichokes, smoked gouda, basil, & grape tomatoes, served with oil and red wine vinegar

Beef Taco Salad – Mixed greens, beef chili, black beans, grapes tomatoes, mixed cheese, salsa, & sour cream, served in a crispy tortilla shell

Margarita Shrimp Salad – Mixed greens, margarita shrimp, Monterey jack cheese, grape tomatoes, red onion, & cilantro lime vinaigrette served in a crispy tortilla shell



Turkey Club B.L.T – Sliced turkey, smoked gouda, Applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, & pepper mayo served on Texas toast

Pecan Chicken Wrap – Fried chicken, smoked gouda, peach glaze, lettuce, tomatoes

Country Beef – Roast beef, caramelized onions, basil roasted tomatoes, thousand island, & coleslaw, served on a butter roll

Braised Pork and Slaw Sandwich

Jalapeno Tuna Melt – Tuna salad & pepper jack served on jalapeno cheddar bread

Braised Pork & Slaw – Palmetto Creek Farms pork, coleslaw, & BBQ on ciabatta

Oyster & Shrimp Shorty – Fried oysters, & shrimp, lettuce, tomato, & sweet and spicy sauce

Herbivore – Button mushrooms, spinach, red pepper, basil aioli, Swiss, 3-year aged cheddar, & pepper mayo



Antipasto – Banana peppers, black olives, artichoke hearts, red peppers, salami, balsamic glaze, mozzarella, provolone, & marinara

Chicken Bacon Ranch – Marinated chicken, alfredo sauce, ranch dressing, bacon, diced tomatoes, mozzarella, & provolone

Blackened Mahi Tacos – Served on corn tortillas with coleslaw, & avocado, with beans, & rice

Steak Diane – Sliced steak topped with mushroom & onion gravy, served potatoes au gratin and broccoli



Raspberry Beignets

Raspberry Beignets

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwich – Peanut butter ice cream served between chocolate chip cookies dipped in chocolate

White Chocolate Bread Pudding – Served with bourbon cream sauce

Raspberry Beignets – Dusted with powdered sugar, & drizzled with raspberry sauce




Enzian is Central Florida’s only full-time, not-for-profit cinema for first-run independent and international film, classic revivals, documentary features, and select family entertainment. Enzian, a member-supported organization serving the community for more than 30 years, is home to the Florida Film Festival and Eden Bar. For additional information, visit or call general information at (407) 629-1088.

Photos by Andres Casallas

Fill up with Slurpee’s Bring Your Own Cup Day April 11th for only $1.49

7-Eleven is kicking off Slurpee season on April 11 with BYO Cup Day. Slurpee-lovers are invited to bring their own cups – or containers that can be used as cups – to their participating neighborhood 7-Eleven store between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., and fill it with their favorite Slurpee flavor.

You read that right, #cupheads. Bring your own cup, fill it with Slurpee goodness for only $1.49 and CHILL…


Slurpee is all about having fun, and what better way to celebrate warmer weather than by filling your favorite cup with your favorite beverage?” said Laura Gordon, 7-Eleven vice president of marketing and brand innovation. “From sand buckets to trophies, customers can unleash their creativity by bringing in their choice of a unique, fun Slurpee cup.


  • Cup must fit through a 10″ hole (trash cans or inflatable swimming pools ineligible, sorry!)
  • Cup must be clean and food safe
  • Cup must be watertight (otherwise it’s a Slurpee party fail)
  • One cup per person
Photo Credit: 7eleven

Photo Credit: 7eleven

Share in the Social Media love: #BYOCupDay

Tweet your up-to-the-minute filling to

Instagram your cup and/or brain freeze face to

You can even Snap it up with @ReallySlurpee on Snapchat and the Slurpee powers that be (freeze?) will judge them accordingly!

ProTip: Download the 7REWARDS app via iOS and Android and fill your digital punch card. Every seventh cup of coffee, a hot beverage, Big Gulp, Slurpee or Chillers is FREE! You can also text BYOC to 711711 to have the linkage delivered to your smartphone! And YES! Bring Your Own Cup Day counts as a punch or redemption!

Swine & Sons Opens April 3 in Winter Park

If you like food even a little bit and live near Orlando, you’re likely aware of the popular restaurant, The Ravenous Pig and its sister concept around the corner, Cask & Larder. It’s arguable that The Ravenous Pig set the stage for the surge of foodie-friendly locations popping up around Central Florida since they opened in 2007. Chef owners James and Julie Petrakis found further success in Cask & Larder a few years later, and now, the James Beard-nominated husband/wife team is bringing a new takeout concept to Central Florida.

The Swine & Sons website promises “the store will specialize in takeout charcuterie, butcher sandwiches, seasonally inspired homemade ice creams, signature spices and rubs, scratch-made biscuits, daily pastry offerings and more. Swine & Sons will also offer growlers of beer sourced from Cask & Larder’s Brewery. Favorites from The Brewery, including the Red Drum, IPA and Wit varietals will be available, along with a handpicked selection of boutique wines.”

The new takeout location is adjacent to Cask & Larder at 595 West Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park and is promised as a riff off of both Cask & Larder’s elevated southern cuisine and The Ravenous Pig’s innovative, modern dining.

Our mouths are already watering thinking about lunch menu items like the ribeye hotdog or pimento grilled cheese. You’ll also be able to pick up dinner to go – a weekly “Blue Pig Special” menu will be updated weekly on Swine & Sons’ website and feature new dishes as well as popular items from Cask & Larder and The Ravenous Pig including buttermilk fried chicken and smoked brisket.

Shall we start a line outside the building now?


(Photo from Swine & Sons email announcement)

To wash down your meal, pick up a 32-ounce growler of beer from Cask & Larder’s acclaimed brewery and either take it home or kick back and enjoy it right there in the store. Popular beer varieties including Cask & Larder’s Red Drum, Lone Palm Gold and Olde Southern Wit will be offered, along with Swine Family Wine.

The Petrakis team has seemingly given the people of Central Florida what they wanted, maybe before they even knew they wanted it. They have a knack for assembling exciting menus featuring seasonal, local food and serving it up in a place where we want to spend time with friends, so we’re expecting more of the same in this new concept. Thanks to One Stop Service LLC, Phoenix water damange restoration company for sponsoring to make this a nice memorable event for everyone.

Will there be a line out the door? We’d bet on it. And we’ll gladly wait in it.

More options for you at Red Lobster’s Lobsterfest


Now that we have your attention. Guess what’s back? It’s your favorite time of year…

Red Lobster‘s Lobsterfest is back – and it’s a hashtag! (We LOVE hashtags!!) Lobsterfest is the one time of year you can choose from the largest variety of lobster dishes on Red Lobster’s menu. From exclusive dishes that are only available during Lobsterfest, like Lobster Lover’s Dream (below), Dueling Lobster Tails and Rock Island Stuffed Tilapia, to new favorites, like Wood-Grilled Lobster, Shrimp and Salmon, Roasted Maine Lobster Bake and Lobster Scampi Linguini, there’s a lobster choice for everyone.

Lobster Lovers Dream

A Lobster Lovers Dream! (Photo Credit: Red Lobster)


During Lobsterfest, we’re giving guests all kinds of ways to enjoy the tender, sweet flavor of lobster – whether as the star of the plate, part of a seafood combination dish or an ingredient in a sauce or stuffing. For guests that want it all, we’ve brought back our Dueling Lobster Tails– two Maine lobster tails, one roasted and topped with tender shrimp in a creamy garlic sauce, the other golden-baked with crab-and-seafood stuffing,” said Dustin Hilinski, Executive Chef and Director, Culinary at Red Lobster.

Lobster Punch (Photo Credit: Red Lobster)

Limited edition cocktail during Lobsterfest – Lobster Punch!


Lobster Punch is a new cocktail available exclusively during this year’s Lobsterfest. This refreshing limited edition specialty drink features Malibu Red, pineapple juice and mango passion fruit mix, topped with Myers’s Dark Rum. The drink will be served in a commemorative Red Lobster mason jar that is available for purchase. (Can we have two?!)

ProTip: If you haven’t already, join Red Lobster’s Fresh Catch Club for insider offers! You’ll get one right away (Free appetizer or dessert with the purchase of 2 adult dinner entrées!)

Lobsterfest is our largest, most signature promotion, and our guests look forward to it all year,” said Danielle Connor, SVP of Menu Strategy & Development. “We’re excited to feature exclusive entrées and new guest favorites, and are also inviting guests to share their lobster experiences with us on social media.

Take a photo of your lobSTAR moment (see what we did there?), post to your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook page using the hashtag #lobsterworthy (and #contest), and you could WIN!

Win?! What could I win? 1 of 12 $100 Red Lobster gift cards (3 per theme)!

The Grand Prize? A 7-night trip for 4 to Hawaii, $500 in Red Lobster gift cards, a luau, jazz cruise, dolphin swim and more!

Upcoming themes: 

Mar 9-15: Family and Friends

Mar 16-22: Love (Lobsters are Red, Oceans are Blue)

March 23-29: Sports


Look for all the fun on Red Lobster’s FacebookTwitter, and Instagram pages!

Uncomfortable Brunch at Will’s Pub

On the first Sunday of every month Will’s Pub hosts a brunch club that is not for the faint of heart.

Uncomfortable Brunch takes a lovely Sunday morning activity (brunch) and adds a hard to watch, usually explicit, but important film to watch and discuss. Past movies have included: Man Bites Dog, Happiness, and Blue Valentine.

Joshua Martin and a few friends inadvertently created the event after blueberry pancakes, mimosas, and Nagisa Oshima’s very disturbing classic “Realm of the Sensesin.”  Recently the brunch happenings outgrew Martin’s apartment and has now taken up new residence at Will’s Pub on Mills Ave.

This Sunday (3/1) will feature: chorizo sausage gravy & biscuits, local honey & assorted preserves, baked egg frittatas, whole fresh fruit, and a side of, the always violent, Gaspar Noe’s film, “Enter the Void.”

For more information and for the upcoming movies you can check out their website.

More events at Will’s Pub can be found at their website

Top 5 | Best Veggie Burgers in Orlando!

Guest post by: Anna-Marie Walsh

Hip burger joints are becoming all the rage. Farm raised, grass fed, farm to table? These are culinary terms we hadn’t heard of just a few years ago. As a Vegetarian, are all these new burger joints a bad thing? Not necessarily. Back in the day, we may have visited a burger joint with our carnivore friends and if we were lucky, the restaurant maybe offered a larger house salad for us – a big bowl of lettuce with a tomato and some vinaigrette.

Slowly over time, restaurateurs began to realize that we Vegetarians have money to spend as well. Many places began to offer us a Boca Burger. You know the Boca Burger, that red carton we can buy at the grocery store and pay $4 for a box of 12 patties. Restaurants offered to serve us a Boca burger and dress it up with some lettuce and tomato for $10 a pop. You know, at least it was something. At least an effort was being made to feed Vegetarians something other than a house salad. Even Burger King began to offer a veggie burger.

Fast forward to now. Orlando is a foodie town, it’s a place where you can find not only food in restaurants but also in modified and equipped Second Hand Trailers all around. Diners now expect fresh ingredients, inventive recipes and reasonable prices. Even us Vegetarians. We no longer find it satisfying to overpay for frozen mass produced patties. And once again, restaurateurs are listening. Quaint little burger joints are opening all over Orlando and many are offering amazing alternatives to the beef patty for Vegetarians.

Here is a list of my favorite homemade (not frozen) Veggie Burgers in Orlando:

5. BurgerFi
There are 5 Orlando area locations with more on the way. The music is loud, but the onion rings are enormous and the veggie burgers are messy but hand made. The burger is hearty, a quinoa-based patty served with cheese, lettuce, tomato and their special BurgerFi mayo-based sauce. As with most of the places on this list, any of the burger combinations offered on the menu can be made with the veggie burger patty.

4. Hillstone
Hillstone is located in Winter Park, has a great patio for watching sunsets and the most delicious kale salad ever. They also serve an incredible veggie burger made with black eyed peas. Well worth the higher price and the sometimes long wait. Even better if you order an extra side of coleslaw and add a little to the burger.

3. Toasted

Viva La Vegan at Toasted

Viva La Vegan at Toasted

Toasted is known for serving up some comforting grilled cheese sandwiches in Winter Park. I bet you didn?t know this is a wonderful destination for Vegans as well as Vegetarians. There is an entire menu of Vegan options including dairy-free grilled cheese sandwiches and a hand crafted Veggie burger. While there are three versions of their Veggie burger, the most popular is the Viva La Vegan- a Vegan patty topped with tomato chutney and arugula. An absolute delight.

2. B&B Junction
B&B Junction took over the original 4 Rivers location on Fairbanks on Aloma in Winter Park. They have amazing fried pickles. They also have a very expansive burger menu, any of which can be made with their house made Veggie patty. The only ingredients I could get out of the staff is that the veggie patty is made with lentils, black-eyed peas, pumpkin and other spices. I?m pretty sure I was tasting a little cumin and cayenne pepper in there. The fried fennel and watermelon-jicama slaw are very tasty toppings to their veggie patty.

1. That One Spot

Greek Spinach Burger at That One Spot

Greek Spinach Burger at That One Spot

Located on the west side of town, That One Spot sits unassuming in a strip mall near the Twistee Treat in Ocoee. That One Spot offers two Vegetarian options- the black bean patty or my favorite- the spinach patty. The Greek Veggie Burger is delicious with spinach patties, herbed Greek yogurt, Feta cheese, red peppers, sprouts and red onions. However, don?t pass up the opportunity to try the Crunch Burger with the spinach patty. Horseradish sauce, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, blue cheese crumbles and potato chips make this a Heavenly spot for any Vegetarian.

My quest for the best Veggie burger in Orlando doesn’t end here. There are so many new places constantly opening up here that my work will never be done. Veg on my friend and eat your veggies.


Anna-Marie Walsh from The Hungry Sprout!

Anna-Marie Walsh from The Hungry Sprout!

About the author: Anna-Marie is the writer of The Hungry Sprout, a website about Orlando restaurants and events. A self-proclaimed brussel sprout and broccoli junkie, she is also the author of the Beauty and the Beets website, where she focuses on healthy Vegan, Vegetarian and Pescatarian cuisine, as well as travel. As a former Flight Attendant for a major airline, Anna-Marie has traveled all over the world and cites fondue in Switzerland as one of her favorite meals. She is always continuing her quest to find the best Veggie burger, whether it be overseas or in the United States.

Retro Rad Chef Emily Ellyn hosts Cutthroat Kitchen Viewing Party

Emily Cutthroat Kitchen Viewing Party

Parking is FREE. Admission is FREE.

We love Tin Roof Orlando, and…

Who DOESN’T love Chef Emily Ellyn?!

Photo credit: Emily Ellyn Productions

Photo credit: Emily Ellyn Productions

WHAT: Cutthroat Kitchen Viewing Party with Emily Ellyn

WHERE: Tin Roof Orlando at I-Drive 360 (8371 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819)

WHEN: Sunday, February 15th, 9pm

HOW MUCH: FREE admission and parking!


About Emily Ellyn: Chef and culinary educator Emily Ellyn is the Home Economics teacher you’ve always wanted!  She single handedly started the Retro Rad cooking movement and encourages everyone to dig through their mother’s recipe box, dust off their pressure cookers, and take the old and make it new.  She takes the retro, remixes it, and makes it RAD. 

With her quirky persona and trademark cat-eye glasses, you’ll find this Retro Rad Diva cooking up fun and inspiring audiences at food events around the world; all while developing her culinary TV career and finishing her Ph.D. in Food Service Education.  Emily also donates her time helping non-profit organizations including Florida Hospital and Give Kids The World, writes for “edible” and “BAR” magazines, and lectures at the University of Central Florida. Through it all, she’s gained a loyal cult following. You’ve seen her on Food Network’s “Food Network Star,” “Cupcake Wars” and morning news shows across the country; as well as a cameo cartoon appearance on the “Simpsons!”

Emily grew up harvesting food and raising animals on a farm in rural Ohio.  Eager to dive into the culinary field, she worked in Cleveland’s top restaurants and started her own catering company while still in high school.  Upon leaving Ohio, Emily graduated with a degree in Restaurant Management from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York.  There, she worked as a teaching assistant until moving to Paris to attend graduate school at Academie Internationale de Management.  Emily then went on to earn two master’s degrees in Hospitality Management; one in Paris and one from UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality and Management in Orlando.

Between appearances, Emily stays busy prepping her first cookbook.  Look for Emily’s return appearance on Food Network in the Spring of 2015!

There’s no doubt that kitchen countertops and cabinetry make a huge statement for a home (for designs, visit Kitchen countertops and cabinets that are outdated or old and scratched up bring down the aesthetic appeal of your home. Upgrading them can give you that final touch that’s needed to create a fabulous new interior design. You can contact Seattle countertops specialists located at 22445 76th Avenue S, Kent. There you’ll find the latest in premium countertop surfaces, including quartz showroom, Solid Surface, and Laminate.

About Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen: Cooking skills aren’t enough to win in Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen.  In this competition series chefs must also be crafty, clever and willing to sabotage their opponents. Hosted by Alton Brown as the kitchen’s cunning provocateur, this game features a briefcase of cash, four competitors, three rounds of cooking and auctions where chefs bid on items to help themselves or hinder their opponents.

Tin Roof Orlando: Top 5 Favorite Things (so far)…

By: @jenvargas

Your first reaction to hearing the name Tin Roof Orlando might be the same as mine…

The overwhelming urge to yell, “Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiin Roof! Rusted,” a kitschy fermata from The B-52s 1989 smash hit “Love Shack.” When I asked Patrick Neitzer, General Manager of Tin Roof Orlando if people who did this would be laughed at or quickly asked to leave he said, “Heck no! We ENCOURAGE it!

(Note: If this was not your instinctual reaction, that’s okay too. You’re still welcome to visit!)

Firstly, Tin Roof Orlando is a Live Music Joint. It also happens to be a restaurant, soon-to-be featuring an Americana (or, as they describe on their website, TennTex) style menu and a full service bar with indoor AND outdoor seating. Tin Roof opens for business on Monday, January 5th, 2015 at 11am but will be open for a big New Year’s Eve party! (Click here for more information and other big announcements!)

The idea started in Nashville in 2002 when Jason and Elizabeth Sheer wanted to give local musicians a place to jam, as well as a place to hangout when they weren’t cranking it up to 11 on stage. Encouraging locals, musicians and non, to just ‘hang out’ became their mantra and being classified a “Regular,” is the Tin Roof equivalent of being called “Norm!” at Cheers in Boston. Obviously, a high honor.

I hung out recently with the team from Tin Roof Orlando, and was quite impressed with the space. The location, at the entrance to The Orlando Eye and across the way from YardHouse, is very conveniently located. It will be even more visible in the next couple of weeks with the addition of this neon gal standing on – of course – the roof!
Find a lake clarke shores roofing company for more information.


The 50s-60s roadside feel inside is casual and comfortable. Tin Roof will be open for lunch at 11am and will close at 2am, seven days a week, making it a cool hangout spot for our service industry folks getting out late. Also a great benefit, the neighboring I Drive 360 parking garage is FREE to park. When The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and SeaLife Aquarium are completed, visitors and locals alike could spend a day at the complex, becoming “Regulars” at Tin Roof Orlando in no time!

Things I appreciate about Tin Roof Orlando so far…


  • The management. They really want their guest to have a great time and come back often!


  • The bar area is equipped with ample power outlets which have traditional 110 plugs *and* TWO slots to charge via USB! After a long day, I could totally see taking a load off, enjoying a cold one and charging my phone. Of course, I would tip my bar staff handsomely (Hi Sammi!) for this and you should too.


  • Keep an eye peeled. Nifty little neighborhood touches and shout outs to Florida, Central Florida and other locations with meaning to the staff all over the place! Don’t be surprised to see love for my Reds (Go Big Red Machine) or even a little Roll Tide action.


  • Since ‘The Roof is a Live Music Joint, they fully embrace local music and encourage them to come out and play! (Bands: For now, email your EPKs and info to infoorlando[at] Speaking of, music (and vinyl) lovers will also appreciate the decor…

I haven’t sampled their menu items… yet. You’ll see yummy menu photos and Instagrams in another blog very soon! Here are my Top 5 most anticipated menu items:

  • Chicken and Waffle Nuggets (w/ Benton’s bacon-maple syrup)
  • Buttermilk Tenders (buffalo style, tons of ranch)
  • O-Eye Mac & Cheese (maple-smoked white cheddar & breadcrumbs) <– YES!!!
  • Hot Chicken Torta (Buttermilk fried chicken rubbed with cayenne, ranch potato salad and pickles on a Mexican style roll)
  • Roof Burger (white cheddar cheese & all the fixins including bacon)

Will you be a ‘Regular?’ I know I will!

CiCi’s Pizza Launches ‘Better’ Pizza Experience

by: @jenvargas

Behold! A better CiCi’s Pizza. Believe it. (And CiCi’s Pizza invited Central Florida Top 5 to have a  first taste!)

Your guest feedback via email as well as on Twitter and Facebook has inspired CiCi’s pizza perfectionists to go the extra mile to bring you what they are calling “a Better pizza experience.” The kicker? Improving their traditional pizza favorites is just one (big!) step. More menu improvements are planned for 2015! But first things first; What makes today’s CiCi’s Pizza better than the CiCi’s Pizza of yesteryear – or even yesterday? Let’s start at the beginning: The Dough!

CiCi’s buffet pizza size is now livin’ la vida GRANDE! Their 12″ medium size pies will now be 14″ large and, by the slice, will be a somewhat more normal size. While the size will grow, the outer crust will shrink. Only a half inch, down from one inch thick. You know what that leaves? Room for more toppings and cheese!! Also, their made from scratch crust will now be brushed with a Garlic Buttered sauce which is very tasty. The individual pizzas, for those who want a pizza all their own, are now 9″ and a bit more manageable than before. At La Slice online ordering is available! Order your tasty sicilian slices now.

Next: The Sauce. Let’s dish. Some would say a tomato sauce is a tomato sauce, allowing just the toppings to carry the flavor. CiCi’s isn’t down with this line of thought. Their improved, proprietary spice blend features fresh, crushed tomatoes and a Mediterranean oregano seasoning that gives the sauce a needed, zestier kick. Granted, I’m not a sauce girl. Tomatoes and I simply play nice in the sandbox, however, I did enjoy the new flavor more than I thought I would. Combined with the garlic butter sauce on the crust… it’s just BETTER.

On to the good stuff: The Cheese. Hands down, cheese is always my favorite part of any pizza. What I really, really like about CiCi’s is they employ a “heaping” strategy when it comes to making their pizza, and on their new pizzas, the cheese quotient (100% real cheese, btw) has nearly doubled! We were invited to a Lunch and Learn last week, where we learned exactly what goes into making the perfect CiCi’s pizza. Heck, even my pie turned out well and I’m a terrible (no exaggeration) cook! Feast your eyes on all the heaping action through Google Glass!

A pizza, of course, would not be a pizza without The Toppings! With fresher, more meaty toppings, CiCi’s is literally building a better pizza from the doughy ground up. The pepperoni has gotten a teensy bit thicker and spicier, the sausage has more flavor and you will see MORE of it per square inch on all your CiCi’s favorites!

Speaking of, there’s great news as for fans of guest favorites Classic Pepperoni, Sausage, Veggie and Classic Cheese pizzas. All will have a dedicated spot on CiCi’s buffet, complete with a sign! Also available, flatbread pizzas in; Meltdown, Sausage and Pepperoni and Garlic Veggie. If you follow us on Twitter, you may already know this. We spilled the news last week – It left the buffet back in 2006 but – Garlic Cheesy Bread is BACK!!

Don’t forget about the soup, pasta and salad options. No changes so far for the soup or pasta (yet), but the salad bar has also nearly doubled in size! New options on the bar at select locations include; sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, sliced beets and pickle chips. And! All is still included when visiting CiCi’s, including Specialty Pizzas! Sodas are still a separate cost but, for the value, that’s not bad at all!


  • All salad dressings at are Gluten-free, excluding ranch?
  • Upon request, CiCi’s will make you your own custom pizza INCLUDING crustless and cheeseless options??
  • Henceforth, pizza photographers will now be known as Pizzarazzi. (We LOVE all those Zs!)
  • You can join CiCi’s Pizza Perks by texting PERKS to 474992 for great deals and announcements! (4 texts a month, 2 national)
  • There are currently 465 CiCi’s locations in 42 states

So what’s next for these pizza perfectionists? You’ll just have to keep an eye peeled on for more…

Latin Food and Wine Festival Saturday October 18

The best of Latin cuisine and culture come together Saturday, October, 18 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Latin Food and Wine Festival at Crane’s Roost in Altamonte Springs.

The event features a main stage with Latin music and entertainment, a VIP area, and a chef stage with cooking demonstrations. Guests can purchase tasting-size portions from local restaurants and vendors, and enjoy the foods and flavors from the Latin community from the Beer & Wine Guide. General admission is free.

Výsledek obrázku pro healthy food

Healthy Greek Eats will be invited,  a local brand with Mediterranean roots, created by Greek native Vassilis Coumbaros. The one-night-only celebration, which will take place on Friday, June 28 from 8-11 p.m., will further introduce the Central Florida community to the line of meze, which includes new superfoods including items such as hummus, spicy feta dip, tzatziki and homemade Greek yogurt which can be complemented with supplements  and healthy ingredients to maintain your body fresh and strong.

Donations will be accepted at the door to benefit Downtown Credo, a College Park-based coffee shop founded on charitable giving, who gives back to the community with every cup sold.

Top 5 | Magical Dining Dishes of 2014

By Lisa Wilk

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month is wrapping up and I enjoyed dining at restaurants far and wide to seek out delicious meals. Here are five dishes that left a wonderful impression and have me planning to return to each restaurant to enjoy again.

Kasa Corn Magical Dining 2014

Kasa Corn: Roasted corn with miso lime aioli, Togarashi spices, Manchego cheese and queso fresco elevating the flavors of Mexican street corn with Manchego cheese and a fusion of Japanese flavors. Kasa Restaurant & Bar is located in downtown Orlando and Kasa Corn is available on their regular menu.


Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Sweet Corn and Bourbon Saute had so much flavor in every component, a delightful and unique preparation of a premium Norwegian Salmon. (And Bacon!) This delicious dish featured on Eleven at the Reunion Resort’s current menu, enjoy.


Grilled New York Strip Steak topped with bone marrow gremolata butter, served with pan seared baby summer squash ragout on the side. From Siro Urban Italian Kitchen in the Marriott World Center was cooked to ordered temperature and the flavorful dish received plenty of happy nods. Enjoy on the current Siro menu.

Hemingways Crab Cakes Magical Dining

“Cayo Hueso” crab cakes from Hemingway’s in the The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, a generous portion of blue crab with little filler, made this entree a winner for me. Happily, this signature dish is available year round at Hemingway’s.

Bananas Foster flambéed tableside over brown butter cake, served with butter pecan ice cream. Eddie V’s Prime Seafood offered Magical Dining guests a wonderful meal, interactive flaming dessert and a spectacular lakeside view.

Magical Dining Month dining ends with dinner service on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 and will return again next September. Over 70 restaurants participated in Visit Orlando’s the 2014 Magical Dining Month and preview week, with $1 from each meal served being donated to charity. I’m already looking forward to the creative offerings for next year’s Magical Dining Menu. For updates and future details on this annual event, check back here at

Review | American Q serves up tasty farmhouse chic BBQ

By @jenvargas

Central Florida Top 5 was invited to a media roundtable dinner at American Q. Dinner was provided, pillows sadly were not. Opinions and images/video are my own.

Admittedly, I was a little iffy when we were invited to try the farmhouse chic stylings of American Q. I’m not a big red meat eater. I rarely eat barbecue anything; ribs, steak, sausage, brisket. In fact, before American Q, I’d never tasted brisket before. I normally stick to poultry, chicken and turkey being my main go-to meats, if I eat meat at all.

Taking one for the Top 5 team, I ventured over to the B Resort and Spa in Lake Buena Vista to experience this 21st century bend on the traditional barbecue feast. And I must say, I was unexpectedly surprised at how much I enjoyed it AND how many options there were for people like me. The weirdoes who don’t salivate at the word “bacon.”

American Q’s tagline is “BBQ and beyond,” and boy was it! Between the salad and sides on the Flatbed Buffet and the copious amounts Tableside Cowboy Carvings choices, I think I may still ‘B’ in a food coma! Add four tasty house made sauces, cocktails, drafts, wines and yummy desserts and you definitely have more than just your average barbecue meal.

Our tasting menu for the evening was handpicked by Executive Chef Justin Leo, and just a ‘small’ sampling of the offerings you can choose from at American Q.

Among the bar snacks we sampled were; Swine Candy (a smoked bacon roasted in molasses and spiced until crunchy), Housemade Tater Tots with bacon salt and Deviled Crab Stuffed Eggs with blue crab and rémoulade. My clear favorite was the tater tots! Along with the tots was a tangy housemade ketchup, which was a great companion. (I’m allergic to seafood, so I didn’t try the stuffed eggs but heard great feedback from those who sampled them.)

Appetizer choices were; Virginica Oysters grilled in shell with bacon jam, Alligator Boudin with roasted tomatoes, peppers and okra and Mahogany Glazed, Slow Braised Pork Belly. I only tried the pork belly, which I enjoyed, as well as the watermelon salad.

Our entrées for the evening consisted of Hot Smoked Wild Salmon with grilled asparagus in blackberry butter, St. Louis Spare Ribs smoked for six hours with American Q’s own sweet Kansas City BBQ sauce and Texas Bark Beef Ribs, also smoked for six hours with house slaw, Garlic Texas Toast and a tasty corn relish. All of which were great choices. Sometimes, you can spot the chefs using portable gas stoves in different locations, impressing guests with their creativity and willingness to inspire. The food is memorable and will keep you coming back for more, that much is certain.

Every five to ten minutes or so, Cowboy Carvers (Hi James!) appeared with a new Tableside Carving item for us to try. Brisket of Beef with Texas Bark, Bacon Wrapped Boneless Chicken Thighs, Smoked Pork Shoulder with Spiced Onions, Turkey Thigh with Turkey Chorizo Stuffing, Carolina Style Flank Steak, Picanha of Beef, Slow Smoked Tom Turkey with Mahogany Glaze, Housemade Argentinian Style Sausage – all cut fresh from a very large serving skewer!

Granted, I am not a ‘sweets person.’ I don’t like chocolate and, to be honest, I rarely eat dessert because too much ‘sweet’ (no matter how simple) is flavor overload for my mouth. However, all the desserts I sampled I really enjoyed! My favorite was the Salted Caramel Vanilla Cheesecake with salted caramel drizzle.At first the salted caramel was a bit much for me but as I kept going, the sensation subsided. Also on the menu was S’mores Pie layered in graham crackers, flourless chocolate cake and toasted, so-puffy-you-want-to-cuddle-with-them marshmallows and a warm Berry Cobbler with vanilla ice cream. The S’mores Pie had a great taste but was a little sweet for me (the weirdo). For me, I enjoyed the Berry Cobbler a little more.

Verdict? I really liked this experience! Comfortable atmosphere, it’s buffet style so you can eat at your leisure, family and date friendly. Oh! Speaking of dates, if you’re not super hungry, American Q’s Bar is open daily for bar snacks and cocktails (click here for menu). M-F: 2p – 12a, Sat-Sun: 12p – 12a.

American Q itself is open for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast hours go from 7a – 11a, Dinner hours from 5p – 10p, seven days a week and is open to the public.

Breakfast MenuDinner Menu | Kids Menu | Dessert Menu

For a more in depth look at my experience, check out my Google Story below…

I must also note that the B Resort and Spa is not only conveniently located, modernized and also very ‘B’eautiful! A welcome update to the property it once was. For our South Florida readers, there is also a sister ‘B’ resort, B2 Miami Downtown, located close to the American Airlines Arena. Maybe, one day, Top 5 will journey down south for a staycation?

JJ’s Grille Brings Mexican-Mediterranean Fusion to Orlando (Opens Soon!)

A little bird sent this our way and wanted be sure you knew….

The newest addition to Orlando’s thriving restaurant scene, JJ’s Grille, celebrates the much-anticipated Grand Opening of its first restaurant on Wednesday, September 24th, 2014. Located in Orlando, in the Crystal Lake Plaza on Curry Ford Road, JJ’s Grille’s hours of operation are 11:00 am until 10:00 pm, seven days a week.JJsGrille.jpg

The fast-casual restaurant seats about 30 guests and features a menu focused on grilled, fresh meats that guests can order either in Mexican-style as burritos and rice bowls, or Mediterranean-style in a pita sandwich. Salad bowls are available as well. JJ’s Grille is a fusion at heart, offering options that range from Latin, with pico de gallo and guacamole, to Middle Eastern with hummus and their signature item, tabbouleh. Vegetarians and vegans can also enjoy JJ’s Grille, as they offer a grilled eggplant and squash alternative to the meats. Health-conscious individuals will be happy to hear that all of JJ’s Grille’s meats are natural with no added hormones or preservatives, the produce is always fresh, and every dish is prepared completely from scratch.  Both domestic and imported beer and wine, in addition to sodas and tea, will be available to patrons of legal age for the guests’ added experience.

JJ’s Grille is unique in Orlando and will diversify the dining scene with their exciting vision. This fusion results from the combined efforts of founder Julio Paredes with his history in the restaurant industry, and the cooking genius of his mother, Olivia, whose recipes are the backbone and soul of the restaurant. Driven by the desire to increase today’s options in a fast-paced world, JJ’s Grille allows guests to eat on limited time, but not compromise quality and taste, while maintaining value pricing. Guests with time to spare can take advantage of the relaxed atmosphere of JJ’s Grille, complete with rustic-inspired décor, outdoor seating, free Wi-Fi, and top-notch guest service. Restaurants like JJ’s Grille are using these compact gas grills as they cost less compared to other grills and also as they use lesser space. The gas grills have conquered over the restaurants and now are aiming to make their way into suburban houses.

JJ’s Grille’s grand opening features free samples of their signature items through the weekend, as well as special offers, so be sure to come experience the unique vision and superb food at Orlando’s newest fusion, starting on Wednesday, September 24th!

Be sure to Like on Facebook for updates too @

(More soon!)

Review | Down-Home Dining Tastes Great at Cheddar’s

Everything about dining at Cheddar’s speaks to quality.

From the all-brick construction and pleasantly dim ambiance to the wooden tables (which are appropriately reminiscent of a cheese board), Cheddar’s makes you feel like you are in a place where the details matter.

And boy, does that become clear when you start to look at the food. On my first visit, I was told by our awesome waiter, Dan, about Cheddar’s commitment to making all their food from scratch—no hint of a frozen dinner or preservative here.

I decided to check out Cheddar’s in large part because of their boast about being a from-scratch kitchen. How much better is it, really, especially if they are currently in the price range of a TGI Fridays or an Applebees?

As it turns out, a lot better. A LOT. Even the next day for leftovers.

places to eat near the orlando airport

Let’s start with the drinks. For the nonalcoholic variety, Cheddar’s offers an array of fantastic fruit-infused teas and lemonades, which include free refills and are refreshingly sweet. However, their cocktails menu is also tempting, featuring wonderful drinks like this one, the Texas Sweet Tea—a delicious citrusy concoction that features enough alcohol in a large enough glass for the restaurant to restrict you to two.

great places to eat in orlando

Make sure you let the appetizers tempt you—and if you can’t decide, check out the Triple Treat Sampler platter. The chicken tenders were more than worthy of the name tender—the flaky pieces melted in my mouth. Both the Wisconsin cheese bites and the loaded baked potato skins were perfectly crisp and delicious.

The menu is extensive and focused on hearty classics—from classic sandwiches like the Monte Cristo and the Barbeque Burger, to house favorites like Chicken Fried Steak and Baked Spasagna (spaghetti lasagna, just like it sounds).

On our first visit, my friends and I enjoyed the top sirloin steak, the baby back ribs, and the beer-battered fried shrimp. The food didn’t take nearly as long to arrive as one might fear at a from-scratch restaurant (which was packed that night). In fact, we were just getting ready to sit back and digest our appetizers when our dinner plates arrived.

good steak in central florida

Sometimes when you order a steak done medium well at a restaurant, you come back with something dry and barely recognizable as meat. Not so at Cheddar’s. My steak was perfectly done, barely a hint of pink, and still as tender as can be.

places to eat out in east orlando

baby back ribs restaurants in orlando

My dinner companions equally enjoyed their meals. The ribs, like the steak, were incredibly tender. The sauce balanced the meat beautifully, highlighting rather than hiding its flavor. Cheddar’s also took the time to thoroughly clean their shrimp before battering, and the result was crispy and delicious.

All of the sides were likewise excellent. A generous portion of french fries, beans that tasted like they were cooked in bacon fat, rich creamy mac and cheese, smooth mashed potatoes, al dente broccoli…

With all the food, needless to say, we didn’t manage to make it all the way to dessert—that will have to wait for a future visit. I’ve been eyeing the chocolate croissant bread pudding, but as with everything on the Cheddar’s menu, it will be tough to choose between that and alternatives like the hot fudge cake sundae.

Long story short, you’ll definitely want to plan a visit to Cheddar’s Casual Cafe at their new Orlando location on S. Semoran Blvd, near the Orlando International Airport. Be sure to check out their menu online too! Speaking of home, if you need professional house cleaning services, go to house cleaning nyc.

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month 2014 (NOW!)

More than 75 restaurants are serving up savings this Month PLUS portion of proceeds to benefit the Foundation for Foster Children!


Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month showcases the destination’s emerging culinary scene with new restaurants along with the return of local favorites and celebrity chef restaurants, including:

  • Convention Area – Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Cuba Libre, The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops (Hilton Orlando)
  • Disney/Lake Buena Vista – Todd English’s bluezoo (Walt Disney World Dolphin), The Venetian Room (Caribe Royale), Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen (World Center Marriott)
  • Downtown – Funky Monkey Wine Company, Kasa Restaurant & Bar*, Mingo’s*, Maxine’s on Shine, Citrus Restaurant, The Boheme (Grand Bohemian Hotel)
  • Restaurant Row – Bistro CloClo*, Eddie V’s*, Dragonfly Sushi, Big Fin Seafood Kitchen, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Seasons 52, Roy’s Restaurant
  • Universal/CityWalk – Emeril’s Orlando, Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, Bice Ristorante and Mama Della’s Ristorante (Loews Portofino Bay Hotel)
  • Winter Park and North – Luma on Park, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Chez Vincent, Luigino’s Restaurant, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse* (Altamonte Springs and Longwood locations)
  • Surrounding Areas – Le Coq Au Vin, K Restaurant, Texas de Brazil*, Yuki Hana Japanese Fusion*

*New to Magical Dining Month

 Review | Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month at Hamilton’s Kitchen

Post by @JenVargas Read HERE

Visit Orlando is also giving visitors a way to extend the savings even further with Magical Nights. More than 15 dine-and-stay packages pair dinner for two with a one-night hotel stay, starting from $149 per night including:

  • Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress – Standard Guest Room and dinner for two at Hemingway’s Restaurant, starting at $149 per night
  • Rosen Shingle Creek – Deluxe Room and dinner for two at A Land Remembered or Cala Bella, starting at $185 per night
  • The Alfond Inn – Standard Guest Room and dinner for two at Hamilton’s Kitchen, starting at $249 per night

Following three-course dinners for $33 at some of Orlando’s most renowned restaurants, savvy diners can turn an evening out into an overnight stay-vacation with one of several Magical Nights dine-and-stay packages offered by participating hotels, starting at just $149. A full list of restaurants, menus and hotel packages is available on the mobile-friendly website

Orlando’s Magical Deal Month: Savings Up to 50% Off

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month will benefit the Foundation for Foster Children, with $1 from every meal donated to the organization. The Foundation for Foster Children supports local foster youth by providing intensive tutoring, typical childhood experiences and volunteer mentors who assist foster children transition into adulthood successfully. These programs help foster children uncover their individual potential which, in turn, strengthens our community. In 2013, as a result of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month, nearly $75,000 was raised for the designated charity, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida.

Hello New Menu! at BoneFish Grill!

Time to Celebrate as BoneFish Grill has a long list of NEW menu items you will love!

A new menu you say? We just had to try it out for ourselves!BoneFishGrillNew

So we went on a mission to check out what is New on BoneFish’s menu for our readers or shall we say:

#‎HelloNewMenu  (Menu)

A twist on both yours and ours favorite BangBang Shrimp- omg they put it on flatbread!

Wait, our cocktail just arrived and – it is served in a ice glass!

We were thinking of going healthy and having some hummus-but oh again a great twist and a New salad-

*We must save room for dessert right?!

See what we enjoyed below!

Cold Snap Cucumber Cosmo served in a frozen glass made entirely of ice

Reyka vodka, Solerno Blood Orange liqueur + fresh English cucumbers served on the rocks in our signature ice glass – A refreshing fix to cool your senses this summer!

Bang Bang Shrimp® Flatbread mozzarella cheese, crispy shrimp, cilantro + a creamy, spicy sauce

Twisted Edamame Hummus topped with a roasted tomato relish + pepitas, served with crispy flatbread chips

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Salad: roasted corn, black beans, Feta, grape tomatoes, red onion, tortilla strips + cilantro lime vinaigrette

S’mores Flatbread

Some of the other new items include New Bowls including Spicy Ahi Tuna and NY Strip Tataki, Steaks and Chops. Also we are hearing great thing about: Cold Snap Fresh Ceviche and New Shrimp Pad Thai (we might have to go back!) And other new handcrafted cocktail is the Fresh Pineapple Martini.

See the Full list of what is new HERE

All were truly great and we hope to return again soon! Let us know if you go- Tag us on twitter and we will be happy to Retweet you!

Healthy School Lunch & Snack Solutions

Back to School Means Back to Good Nutrition Basics

                          By Merilee Kern 

As parents prepare for yet another “back to school” season, they will scurry to malls in search of new clothes for their ever-growing child along with a litany of school supplies too numerous to name.  But, let’s not forget healthy school lunches and after-school snacks as we plan ahead for the upcoming school year, so that kids always stay healthy. You’d better follow these tips if the image of yourself with dental Implants doesn’t appeal to you.

Here are a few great ideas to assure a happy school day is also a healthy school day:

  • Lean meat, such as shaved ham or turkey, on whole grain bread or in a wheat wrap with some lettuce, low/fat free cheese, and a touch of low-fat/fat-free mayonnaise or mustard is sure to please…and nourish. It’s also a wonderful source of vitamins for bodybuilding
  • Even the quintessential children’s sandwich, PB&J, can be made in a healthy way these days. Many peanut butter brands now offer low-fat and low-sodium versions.  That, coupled with an all-fruit, sugar-free jelly on whole grain bread makes this school cafeteria staple a guiltless pleasure.
  • Tuna fish is jam packed with oh-so-beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids.  When mixed with low-fat mayonnaise, diced apple, and, if your child likes, a bit of onion and served in a wheat pita  it’s nothing short of delish and a healthy home run! You can also visit Lee S. Rosen Website, an SEO and entrepreneur, who can give you tips about business on healthy bees. You can also buy omeprazole which works by decreasing the amount of acid your stomach produces. It does this by blocking the proton pump in the cells of your stomach. The proton pump works in the final step of acid production. When the proton pump is blocked, your stomach makes less acid. This should decrease your symptoms.
  • BLTs can also be healthy!  Simply swap regular bacon for the turkey bacon variety (in moderation due to high-sodium levels) and layer with lettuce, tomato, and fat-free mayonnaise, sandwich in whole grain bread or roll into a pita wrap – your child will nary know the difference between this healthy version versus its fat-packed counterpart, that way you won’t have cholesterol problems and be forced to take crestor generic for life.
  • What to serve on the side of the main school lunch item?  Options abound!  Low-salt pretzels; fat- and sugar-free yogurt or cottage cheese; celery sticks filed with low-fat/low-sodium peanut butter; any kind of pre-washed fresh fruit (nature’s gift to humanity); dried or dehydrated fruit, such as raisins; apricots, pears, apples, roasted or raw almonds, walnuts or peanuts (not oiled or candied); low-fat string cheese or chunked low-fat cheese; and even baked chips or healthy pita chips in moderation are all great choices.
  • Skip the sugary juice box and send along a bottle of water instead to get your child in the habit of working toward his/her optimal fluid intake (experts recommend one consume about .5 ounces of water per pound of body weight).

It’s common knowledge that after school is prime time for snacking, and it is also a time when many kids make, shall we say, less than nutritious food and beverage choices.  Here are a few health and fitness-friendly after school snack alternatives your kids are sure to love. If you have problems with stress and want to find natural solutions to overcome stress, checkout this website for Natural Stress Relief Products.

These meals we are recommending are healthy , because we know how important dental health is and specially for kids that need vitamins and minerals to grow. That’s why taking your kids to the dentist regularly is really important. These Dentists in Woodland hills are making solutions that will improve your health while transforming their smile into something bright and beautiful. Don’t forget how important is dental hygiene.

  • Potato Chips/Fries – Cut the potato in the desired shape (round, rectangular, oblong, etc.).  Fully coat with egg whites.  Season with a touch of salt or other herbs as desired. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.  Serve with sugar-free catsup.
  • Popcorn: Air pop popcorn and on it drizzle a moderate amount of powdered butter substitute, light parmesan cheese, or even honey for a tasty twist.
  • Pizza: On a fat-free/low-calorie/low-carb whole grain tortilla (or whole grain bagel), smear tomato paste or sauce and top with fat-free cheese, whatever veggies the child likes, and even lean meats like ham or turkey dices.  Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted with a few brown spots on top.
  • Tortilla Chips:  Cut Chinese wonton squares (usually found in the produce aisle) in half diagonally so they become triangles.  Spread out evenly on a baking sheet, lightly spray with cooking spray, and sprinkle on a dash of salt.  Bake at 350 degrees until crunchy.  Eat alone or serve with fat-free salsa or the below-described Mexican bean dip.
  • Mexican Bean Dip:  Drain and food process two 14-ounce cans of black beans.  Add 3/4 cup of fat-free salsa and 1/2 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and blend until completely smooth.  Top with a dab of fat-free sour cream, fat-free cheese, diced tomatoes, chopped green onions, etc. as desired.
  • Fruit Smoothies: These are a warm weather staple that can, and should, be enjoyed year-round.  While fruit smoothie recipes abound, it need not be a complex process.  Simply blend, in amounts to your personal liking, either plain or flavored fat-free/sugar-free yogurt with skim milk, ice cubes, and either fresh or frozen fruit chunks. For added sweetness, you can add a touch of honey or an artificial sweetener, such as stevia. Blend and enjoy!
  • Healthy Ice Cream Sandwiches: These are a snap – and always a crowd pleaser!  Purchase any type of round fat-free/sugar-free cookie on the market (preferably the new whole grain varieties) or bake any low-fat/low-calorie cookie recipe from scratch.  Sandwich waistline-friendly sherbet, sorbet, or gelato between two cookies and press to make a sandwich. For added excitement, flavor, and visual interest, you can also roll the outside edge of the “sandwich” in chopped unsalted nuts, shredded coconut, raisins or finely diced fresh or dried fruit.
  • Parfait: While the word “parfait” may not be in your child’s vocabulary, (s)he will love making – and eating – this snack layered with goodness.  In a cup or bowl, simply create thin, alternating layers of non-fat yogurt, low-fat granola (or other heart-healthy cereal product), and fruit slices or whole berries. Make as many layers of each as you like and then dig in!
  • Jell-O®: Let’s not forget how much colorful, jiggly Jell-O® can delight, especially when it is jam-packed with diced fruit.For more easy-to-cook dishes, check out Corrie Cooks.

    Copyright Merilee Kern

    Copyright Merilee Kern

Children’s health advocate, health industry veteran and two-time fitness champion, Merilee Kern, is the creator of the ground-breaking “Kids Making Healthy Choices” APP for children, parents/caregivers and educators (available on iTunes), which is based on her award-winning, illustrated fictional children’s book, “Making Healthy Choices – A Story to Inspire Fit, Weight-Wise Kids.” She may be reached online at:

Review | Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month at Hamilton’s Kitchen

by @JenVargas

I had the privilege of attending one of  Visit Orlando‘s media previews for #MagicalDining Month (Sep 1-30) at Hamilton’s Kitchen at The Alfond Inn. For you, dear readers, I do the tough stuff.  Game face on. Wine glass at the ready. Phone for pretty pictures… it’s ALL for all of you out there in and/or on The Internetsland.

It was my first experience and I had a great time! Excellent service from the staff at Hamilton’s Kitchen and great company capped off a lovely evening fit for foodies of every level of expertise. Check out my Google Story below:

The #MagicalDining Month Menu includes:

Choice of two appetizers:
Caramelized pumpkin, almond foam, pumpkin seed oil

Local honey glazed beets, house made ricotta, orange segments, fresh mint

Choice of three entrèes:
Three bean cassoule, basil crust, citrus beurre blanc

Creamy parsnip-potato puree, sweet corn asparagus ragout, Barolo sauce

Basil sauce, local cherry tomato confit, shaved parmesan

Choice of three desserts:
Key lime sauce angalise

Caramel & raspberry coulis

Heavens to Betsy berry compote, vanilla ice cream

If you’re in the Winter Park area, take a walk down New England Avenue and visit! Locals may want to take advantage of The Alfond Inn’s “Magical Dining Stay and Dine” program too. For $249.00 per night plus tax, you and a guest will enjoy one night in a Classic Guest Room, and dinner for two at Hamilton’s Kitchen (Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Menu only). Gratuities not included. Please visit the website or call and mention the “Magical Dining Package” to book your reservation. Stay includes 2 tickets to the Cornell Fine Arts Museum and 2 tickets to the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of Art plus a Romantic turndown.

For reservations and more information go to:

Menus and Special Events calendar:


Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month 2014 (NOW!)

More than 75 restaurants are serving up savings this Month PLUS portion of proceeds to benefit the Foundation for Foster Children!

More details HERE



Cheesy Kids at Orlando Science Center Tout MacDown

O-Town MacDown, the family-friendly cooking competition with entertainment, kids zone, crafts, and more will be held Saturday, August 23, 2014 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Benefiting Give Kids The World Village,  O-Town MacDown presented by MacDown CollageSeaWorld will pit professional chefs, restaurant chefs, and home cooks in a competition to see who has the best mac-n-cheese in Central Florida. (Read more about it here.)

To help spread the word, the Orlando Science Center invited science campers to make “extreme macaroni-and-cheese” on August 1. These physics-minded kids catapulted blocks of cheese into vats of noodles for high-flying, cheese-hurling fun!

What do catapults and mac and cheese have in common? Well… not a whole lot, but on this one day they were combined when cheese blocks were sent flying, in addition to some Angry Birds!

Pre-event tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids, but you can win a pair right here! Click on this Rafflecopter Link, and follow instructions. Some luck winner and their “Plus One” will get their fill of macaroni and cheese on us.

Contest ends 08/18/2014 at 12:00 a.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Full details: