That Time Olive Garden Took Me To Dinner

If you read part one of this saga, you know that Olive Garden found this post on Casey’s blog Love and Waffles and loved it. They tweeted about it…and also gave Brandon and I a free dinner, to try some of their new menu items.

For such stardom, I was expecting a red carpet and a gaggle of paparazzi…but alas, I was received by neither. Regardless, they made us a reservation and we showed up promptly at 7:15 to eat more than recommended by any licensed dietician.

We started with drinks, because drinks are always a good idea. Brandon, like a responsible young man, ordered the “Sangarita,” a sangria-margarita concoction, but first asked me if I’d mind driving if needed. I pointed to the 90-pound-blonde next to us who was downing the same drink, and said that I didn’t think it would be necessary but yes, of course I would.

Olive Garden Sangarita

“I love my fruity dranks. I don’t care what anyone says.” – Brandon

Since I’m blonde but neither 90 pounds or of age, I ordered the kiwi melon limonata, which is Italian for “this is basically just flavored lemonade.”

Olive Garden Kiwi Melon Limonata

For the under-21 crowd.

Both drinks were really good. Brandon liked his, or at least I assume he did, judging by the amount of self control he had to exercise to avoid drinking the whole thing before our appetizer arrived. I loved mine, but my only criticism would be that it was a little on the sweet side. I would have preferred it with less kiwi-melon goodness or maybe watered down with a little 7-up. Regardless, it’s probably my new favorite OG drink.

Next up was the appetizer. We stuck with what we knew, because as we say here in Wyoming, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We ordered the sampler platter with the toasted ravioli, the calamari, and the mozzarella wedges. I of course chose the selection forgetting Brandon doesn’t really like cheese, which means I ended up single-handedly downing the mozz wedges. Oh, darn.

Olive Garden Toasted Ravioli Mozzarella Wedge Calamari Platter

Artsy photo of our appetizer. #nofilter

The toasted ravioli were pockets of fried deliciousness filled with meat, which is a winner in my book, and I’m always impressed with OG’s calamari. I’m not a calamari enthusiast by any means, but I don’t find it to be the nasty, rubber-band-ish mess that people say bad calamari is. I quite enjoy it.

Salad and breadsticks were a must, and Brandon went with the chicken and gnocchi soup, another fave of ours.

Olive Garden Salad

Notice how the icky pepper tries to steal the spotlight?

When it came time to discuss the main course, Brandon and I perused the new offerings. I was leaning toward the crab-topped chicken. I asked Brandon what he was ordering, and guess what he said? The crab-topped chicken. Oh no, he didn’t. Sass ensued, as I claimed dibs for thinking of it first, while he claimed dibs for saying it first.

Like a partner in a healthy, caring relationship, I completely disregarded his claims to dibs and ordered the same thing anyway.

Olive Garden Crab-Topped Chicken

No need to be artsy. This dish speaks for itself. Also, want to know how many times I accidentally typed “Crap-Topped?”

I was overall happy with the dish. I thought the crab topping was good, although it could have had a little more crab in it. I usually don’t love OG’s chicken, as it has this sort of “grilled” taste, but this chicken was juicy and tasted more baked than grilled. The crab topping could have been a little more flavorful and the chicken could have been better seasoned, but I enjoyed it, as did Brandon.

We downed dinner in about five seconds, and then contemplated dessert. The new desserts looked okay, but we couldn’t stay away from our favorite, introduced to us by a waiter who obviously knows my love of going Starbucks-style and adding raspberry syrup to everything. We had to order the lemon creme cake with raspberry drizzle.

Olive Garden Lemon Creme Cake with Raspberry Syrup

*dies*

As usual, it was awesome. Lemon + raspberry = heaven. The cake is light and refreshing and the raspberry balances out the sour notes of the lemon filling.

After we finished dessert, I whipped out my shiny OG e-gift card like a celeb and paid for our feast, tip and all. I then laid on the floor so Brandon could roll my now-blimp-sized self to the car, and we drove to my house, where we laid on my couch in a food coma and prayed to our stomachs for forgiveness the next day.

Do you like Olive Garden? What’s your favorite thing to order there?

Xoxo, Taylor

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Appiness Part 2: Apps That Make Us Healthier

Apps that make us healthier

Last week, I shared with you some of my favorite apps for actually increasing your happiness. This week, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite apps for making you healthier. We tend to think of technology as the antithesis of health. Hours spent watching television or playing with our iPhones are not hours outside getting exercise. That can be true, but it’s also true that, used correctly, our iPhones can actually help us eat healthier and get us up and moving. Here are a few of my favorite apps for doing just that. As usual, all are free!

Waterlogged

         Waterlogged alarm screen                      Waterlogged alarm screen

 Most of us don’t drink enough water daily, yet water is crucial to our health. We’re mostly water! If you have trouble getting in your eight glasses a day, this app might be what you need. It allows you to track your water consumption daily, and even graphs your water consumption over time to show how you’re doing in meeting your goals. It also lets you set alarms as often as you want to remind you to drink water. It has capabilities to sync with Fitbit as well, which I’ll mention below.

 

Restaurant Nutrition

Restaurant Nutrition Calorie Count                    Restaurant Nutrition Menu Selection Screen

There is nothing worse than trying to eat healthy when going out. It’s almost a helpless feeling if you’re at a restaurant where calorie counts aren’t on the menu. You’re left guessing amidst tricks and traps, like weird amounts of sugar in McDonald’s salads, or 2,000 calorie Chili’s nachos (ouch). This app isn’t glamorous in aesthetics but it can solve the problem. It uses publicly available nutrition facts to provide nutrition info for tons of chain restaurants and snack places. It’s easy to read and can help you make a good dinner decision in a pinch.

 

MyFitnessPal

Myfitnesspal                 Myfitnesspal Calorie Breakdown

This app is an all-in-one and a classic. You can set goals for your nutrition, weight loss, water consumption, and track them over time. MyFitnessPal comes equipped with calorie counts for tons of common foods, and you can also add your own entries or scan barcodes to get nutrition facts. The interface is clean and easy to use. I’m a huge fan of this app. The only one I love more is…

 

Fitbit

Fitbit home               Fitbit Sleep

Okay, disclaimer, this one isn’t completely free. Here’s why: the app is the companion to the Fitbit line of pedometers, which, of course, you have to buy. But if you’re serious about fitness and tracking your health, there’s no comparison. The basic Fitbit, the Zip, starts at around $50.00. I have the Flex, which is about $100.00

But I included it here because it is actually a life-changing product, in my opinion.

The app is fantastic. Basically, regardless of which pedometer you get (if you can even call it that, it’s so much more), you can sync it to your iPhone using bluetooth, and see all of your daily steps taken and calories burned without entering a single thing into the app. It also allows you to add your food for the day, which then gives you a comprehensive view of your calories in and out.

If you have the Flex, you can also wear it while you sleep and track your sleep patterns. The app will tell you at what times you’re restless during the night and at what times you sleep soundly, allowing you to improve your sleep. You can also purchase the Fitbit scale, which can sync with the Fitbit pedometer and directly record your weight. And if you have friends that also have Fitbits, you can connect and compete for meeting daily step goals or other goals.

How do you stay fit? Have you tried any of these apps?

I hope you have a Thursday filled with appiness!

Xoxo, Taylor

 Header image based on “iPhone 4’s Retina Display v.s. iPhone 3G” by Yutaka Tsutamo, CC-BY-2.0.