Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If you know me, you’d know that at the end of the day I’m a child at heart. Sure, I have to go to work everyday and put on the act that I’m an adult but I’d much rather be playing outside. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to try the new Adventure Trek game Quest of the Guardians at the Great Escape Lodge in Lake George. I stayed at the lodge with a couple of friends of mine for the Glow for a Run and woke up bright and early to try this new game. The best part? It’s all ages, parents can do this with their kids or friends could do it together. My friends and I are all 25 and over and couldn’t get enough!

You start off aimed with a wand. You have the ability to pick out your wand and various accessories like a wand holster, wand top, etc. AdventureQuestWandsThe game itself is $12.99 with wands ranging from $17.99-19.99 depending on how brilliant you want your wand to be. Some of the wand tops even make noise while you’re waving it (mine lit up)! The best part though is that once you get your wand, it’s registered to you specifically and you can bring it back any time to the lodge and continue your game right where you left off. The goal is to save the resort from the evil humdrums and sludge monster through a different realm helping out the Guardians in various tasks through a bunch of different missions and earn badges.

Once armed with your wand, you’re given a kind of “cheat sheet.” You can either wave the wand at the various screens and see what you can find or follow the cheat sheet that brings you to the correct floors for your journey. You start at the main screens outside of the wand depot, pick the journey/tasks you’ll be following and you’re on your way throughout the hotel trying to help the Guardians!

Our first mission? A Splashateer Adventure: Tall Treehouse Leaky Bucket Mission! We had to help build a treehouse but didn’t have any tools. AdventureQuest2Our mission took us all over the hotel playing games, waving our wands until eventually the treehouse was built. We found that following the key was necessary or we would still be there on the same mission (we couldn’t let the Guardians down)!

The game was a blast, where else do you get to wave wands around and have things react to it? My favorite part was the little touches throughout the hotel with the wands that I wasn’t expecting. You may see neon colored rocks on the wall in the hallways (they look like the Aggro Crag from GUTS for my fellow 90s kids) and we loved “lighting” our way by waving the wands in front of them and turning them on during our quest to build a treehouse. If you’re going with a group of people though, each person has to complete each part of the mission with their wand. Some of the things we had to find were as easy as waving your wand in front of a TV screen with a room it may e hiding in but others had to be earned by building a blueprint, for example.

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It may seem focused on children but this is honestly something for all ages, especially after a long day at the Great Escape park across the street. I would recommend anyone to go check it out and the best part about staying at the lodge is that you’re close enough to home for it to not be a traveling hassle but you still feel like you’re on vacation.

And in case you missed this part- YOU GET TO WAVE AROUND A WAND and activate TVs! I felt magic!

 

You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars.

Charles Kuralt

I had the pleasure once again to host a cooking demonstration at ShopRite. Amy and the rest of the nutritionist team at ShopRite, Colonie (1730 Central Ave, Albany) is awesome. If you’re looking to eat better or just find yourself overwhelmed going grocery shopping, stop by their station to set up a meeting.

My first demo with ShopRite was 2 years ago when I made sushi. It was pretty intimidating since I was literally in talking distance from the people who went to school for years to learn how to do it. I was teaching people how to do it in their own homes! Miss that demo? You can check it out in my blog archive or CLICK HERE.

My second demo, last year, I tried to introduce some calcium into people’s diets with dairy replacements. For example, like spinach artichoke dip but want to eat it healthier? That’s also in my blog archive or CLICK HERE.

This year, I went burger. Not the kind of burger you’re thinking of though, a quinoa burger. I’m obsessed with quinoa because it’s such a versatile ingredient. You can cook it up like rice and add a few stir-fry vegetables or, as I did at ShopRite, make a burger. If you’re like me, I eat more hot dogs and hamburgers in the Summer than I do the rest of the year and though they’re not terrible for you, why not cook up a quinoa burger and bump up your protein for the day? Quinoa (keen-wa) is a grain that has been called a “superfood” that is not only gluten-free but a good source of fiber, magnesium and iron that you could be eating in each burger! You can even make sliders if you’re hosting a party! This recipes makes about 4-5 burgers depending on size.

INGREDIENTS:

-          1 ½ cup cooked quinoa (any color, I prefer tri-color)

-          2 eggs, beaten

-          1 small onion, finely chopped

-          ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

-          2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

-          ½ cup panko bread crumbs

-          1 tsp baking powder

-          Salt & pepper to taste

Combine the quinoa, eggs and salt & pepper in a medium bowl. Add onions, cheese, and garlic and then add bread crumbs and baking powder. Let sit for a few minutes so everything settles together. You can add more water to moisten or breadcrumbs to make drier if needed. Bake at 400F on parchment lined baking sheet for 20-30 minutes flipped halfway through.

With every burger, you need something to either go on it or go with it so I took on hummus two ways: Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Hummus and Garlic Black Bean Hummus.

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With hummus, though, I tend to eyeball my ingredients and go by taste rather than measurements. I like more garlic than most so I put in a lot. I would recommend starting with the base (chickpea/black bean) and then add the flavor slowly, tasting in between. That way you won’t end up burning your mouth with garlic or not tasting the roasted red pepper at all. Once you get the hummus base, you can add any ingredient you want. Check out the grocery store and see which ingredients the big name products use and go for it! The best part of making your own hummus is not only that you get to make your own flavors but you’re using fresh ingredients!

INGREDIENTS [ROASTED RED PEPPER CHICKPEA HUMMUS]:

-          1 clove garlic

-          1 (15oz) can of chickpeas

-          2 tbs lemon juice

-          1 ½ tbs tahini

-          Olive oil to taste

-          Roasted Red Peppers to taste

 Drain can of chick peas and rinse. Mince garlic before adding to food processor. Add chickpeas and process until broken up not still chunky. Add red peppers gradually and process while tasting to make sure the flavor is what you’re looking for. Add additional ingredients (tahini, lemon juice and olive oil) and process until desired consistency.

 INGREDIENTS [GARLIC BLACK BEAN HUMMUS]

-          2 cloves garlic

-          1 (15oz) can of black beans

-          2 tbs lemon juice

-          1 ½ tbs tahini

-          Olive oil to taste

 Drain can of black beans and rinse. Mince 1 clove garlic before adding to food processor. Add black beans and process until broken up not still chunky. Taste and gradually add more garlic until it’s the flavor you prefer. Add additional ingredients (tahini, lemon juice and olive oil) and process until desired consistency.

If you have any questions on my recipes or on ShopRite, feel free to send me an email at 518BitesNSights@gmail.com and if you want to keep up with other events I’m going to or hosting, make sure you follow me on Facebook 518BitesNSights!

“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.”

William Feather

I’ve lived in the Capital Region all of my life and from when I was a kid until now, Six Flags Great Escape (89 Six Flags Dr, Queensbury) was a staple of my summers. I had season passes every year I could, The Comet was my first roller coaster and you couldn’t keep me away from Fright Fest. This weekend I had the opportunity to spend all of my time in all facets of the Great Escape and I can’t wait to talk about all the great new things they have to offer.

I checked in to the Great Escape Lodge on Friday to get ready for the very first Glow for a Run. I picked up my packet (shirt, bib & glow sticks) and went back to the room to glow myself up. If you’ve read my blog, I’ve kind of become running obsessed over the past year and am training for my first 10K in August. I don’t do many of these “fun-runs” but it was at Great Escape, in the dark and since it was their first one I figured I’d give it a try. The 5K was ironically scheduled for the longest day of the year so we had to wait a little while for the dark so that we would actually glow. Around 9:00PM we began our trek around the parking lot for what seemed like the first mile. It was best to get that out-of-the-way in the beginning but there was no music and a parking lot was kind of boring but eventually we got to the park. The whole park was dark except for the ride lights which was pretty awesome. The course was pretty flat for most of the run except for 2 really large hills that I didn’t even attempt to pretend I could run up. I finished the race in 32:00 minutes though it wasn’t officially timed. The race ended in a black light party with chicken fingers, hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn and my favorite part- beer! I hope they do this run again because it was a blast!

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I had the pleasure of staying in one of the Premium Adirondack suits at the Lodge and it was amazing. The room was beautiful! It included a Keurig, memory-foam mattress that felt like I was sleeping on a cloud and a premium complimentary breakfast. The breakfast had muffins, danishes, biscuits and gravy, coffee/juice and fruit and yogurt.  Aside from the premium breakfast option only available to suites, guests can eat at Tall Tales Tavern for about $13/per person or Johnny Rockets as we did. The entire staff was incredibly accommodating and the convenience of having free parking with a room and the availability to go to the park the next day with the day passes included in your stay is incredible.

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Before you head over to the park, though, you can check out White Water Bay, a water park included in your stay at the lodge. The middle of the indoor water park is Tall Timbers Treehouse for children that’s similar to the Bucket Brigade across the street. I wanted to go into the lazy river but it was a little crowded and not enough tubes so I tried out the two enclosed slides which were awesome! My favorite part was relaxing in the jacuzzi that had high walls and didn’t allow anyone under 18 so it gave my friends and I a really relaxing experience.

My friends and I also had the opportunity to try Adventure Trek while we were there. For a game for 6-12 year olds, us 20-somethings had a blast. So much fun, in fact that you’re going to have to wait until tomorrow to hear about it.

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I had a great stay at the Great Escape Park & Lodge this past weekend. I always found it strange since I live in driving distance to stay at the hotel but it was so accommodating and relaxing that I felt like I was on a real vacation.  If I was there one more day, I may have even taken advantage of the Tranquility Spa and gotten a massage- maybe next time! With all that’s included with your stay, it’s almost an obvious choice to get a room. It’s like a staycation with enough distance for real relaxation!

Want to know about the new AMAZING game that the Great Escape Lodge offers called Adventure Trek? Check back on the blog!

“The harder you fall, the heavier your heart; the heavier your heart, the stronger you climb; the stronger you climb, the higher your pedestal.”

CRISS JAMI

As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, I’ve been trying to get more active. I’m open to any and all new ways to challenge myself physically and I think I have found my new favorite place to be- The Edge (1544 Route 9, Halfmoon, New York 12065) . Rock climbing has always had a special place in my heart and I can’t get enough. I took a rock climbing class in college but when I came home and kind of forgot about my favorite hobby until I found a Groupon for The Edge. I saw a month membership for half the price and I couldn’t buy it fast enough.

It was like riding a bike. You start with a quick lesson on how to belay the person you’re with and I remembered it like it was yesterday! The Edge is off of Route 9 and may be a little difficult to find but make sure you look for the sign IMG_2786(on the left, coming from Albany) of the rock climber. The first thing you have to do is sign a waiver on a computer pretty much saying that your life is in your own hands. There are two options- bouldering and climbing with a harness. A day pass to utilize both is $12 for adults or just bouldering is $10.  You also need shoes ($4), harness ($4) and belay device ($2) all of which you could purchase on a monthly basis.

The difference between bouldering and climbing with a harness is height. With bouldering, you’re on a separate rock with separate holds and don’t climb high enough where you could seriously hurt yourself falling. I find that bouldering takes a lot more upper body strength. The Edge labels the path with numbers and colors (higher numbers being the hardest) and you’re on your own, without the help of a harness holding you up. It’s incredible for grip strength as well as upper body strength.

The whole building is larger than you would expect. You walk in and the crevasse in front of you is easiest and gets harder the further you move left. The staff is incredibly helpful and can answer any questions. In my experience, the best way to get better is to try a harder path than you’re used to. The worst thing that could happen is you let go and you’re held up with a harness, anyway.

The most difficult to me was the belay system that you can use by yourself.

Photo Credit: The Edge
Photo Credit: The Edge

It catches you with the height you gain and to get down, you let go, free fall for a second and walk your way down slowly. That took some getting used to.

Instead of going to the gym after work, try rock climbing, it’s a blast! I haven’t been able to go as much since my month membership expired but I’ll hopefully be back soon. Check out THE GROUPON for a discount!

Monday, Wednesday, Friday……………………………… 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday……………………………………… 2 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday…………………………………………………………. 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday……………………………………………………………. 1 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Member’s Only Mornings, Monday-Friday…………….. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

“We all have dreams, in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.”

Jesse Owens

Well, I did it. I was incredibly intimidated, not at all ready but I did it.  Since last year, I’ve found that I really enjoy running and not only just running but running 5Ks. That rush, that energy, that feeling of accomplishment can’t be beat by anything and I can’t get enough. Last year, until Winter, I ran almost every day but this year I just can’t seem to get in the mood- until now.

This past Saturday, I ran the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K for the first time and it was an incredible experience. I’ve never been a part of a race that large and it felt amazing crossing the finish line. FreihoferRun2014 I’ve run a few 5Ks this year so far and my issue has been that those 5Ks have been the ONLY time I’ve run. My time isn’t something I’m incredibly proud of but I’m happy with the fact that I’ve barely run and I’ve maintained my time quite well. It ended up being 35:42. No where near 15:20, the first place time but c’mon I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Something about that race sparked something in me. I want to be better, I want to do better and I want to get my time under 30 minutes ASAP. The end of August, I’m running a 5K and 10K days in a row and I can’t wait but I want it to be a time I’m proud of.

Running may seem intimidating and to be honest, that race shouldn’t be anyone’s first 2014 Freihofer Runbecause those hills are ridiculous, but as someone said to me as I passed by “You’re lapping everyone still in bed this morning.” She was right. I don’t have to beat anyone or be disappointed with my time, I can have goals and I can want to do better (which I do) but that’s one of the biggest races in the country and as of this weekend I did it. Are you joining me next year?

“Curiouser and curiouser.”

Lewis Carroll

I love writing my blog. I figure that I go and try these great foods, why not share my opinions with other people, right? I was contacted last week by The Besty asking if they could feature my blog on their site and if you search, you’ll be able to find me! How exciting!

I just started adding places, so give me time but I love being able to list my favorite places for everyone to see. TheBestyYou can also add some of your favorite celebrities as friends to see what their favorite food places are where they’ve visited.
My personal favorite is Anthony Bourdain who is currently listed as #14, he has great insight to great places to eat.  I can’t wait to try some of them out and read where he felt they were ranked!

You can rank not only the broad category like: Italian, Mexican, Pizza, etc but specifically what they have that is the best like: best delivery, best eggplant, etc. Add your own favorites, follow other’s favorites and see if you agree! If you had to pick your favorite restaurant, what would it be? (Hard question, right?) What if you could only eat in one town/city in the Capital Region, where would you choose?

“Surfing is very much like making love. It always feels good, no matter how many times you’ve done it”

Paul Strauch

Alright, I’ll say it: I’m addicted to Shark Tank. I’ll re-watch episodes over and over again if I can’t find any new episodes of Dragon’s Den (the Canadian original).  I happened to watch an episode last week that featured Surfset Fitness. The creators of Surfset Fitness are surfers- duh, right? They realized that it was a great workout but most people don’t have the money or the convenience of the water as they did so they decided to make it portable.

If you are into fitness, you’re familiar with stability balls, the giant balls that you may use for your core. Surfset Fitness uses those balls underneath a surfboard to simulate surfing on the water. SURFSET FitnessI had the opportunity to tryout Surfset at Best Fitness in Albany and had a blast. It’s not a workout that you’re gonna get the hang of right away, we started by having to lay on the board and jump up which didn’t go so well for all of us.

It’s great for your core and balance. It’s point is to take the workouts that you do static and to add the difficulty of balancing on the balls under you. You have the ability to tie down the balls for low movement and to remove them when you become a pro. You can either buy the board for $550 or go to NOA Fitness and Pilates Studio in Saratoga to take classes. I would love to be able to try a real class and see it in action, it was a lot of fun but a great workout.

Anything I can add to your to-do list?

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