Fitness, Food, Wine & Travel


New Menu Features and Gluten Free Finds at Yard House

instagram yard house copy

starter drinks
A few weeks ago Andy and I checked out some new menu items and gluten free options available at Yard House in Roseville. You might remember my visit to Yard House shortly after they opened back in 2011. We kicked off our meal with this round of drinks. On the left is a glass of Zardetto Prosecco (sparkling wine is my go-to opener) and on the right is a glass of Honig Sauvignon Blanc.

gluten free menu
Then it was on to decide what to order. If you are reading this website, you are either eating a gluten-free diet, or you are thinking about eating gluten-free. Yard House makes it easy because there is a separate menu you can ask for when you are seated. The menu features many of items from appetizers to salads and burgers that can be served wrapped in lettuce instead of on a bun, as well as three different gluten-sensitive beers.

brussels and potatoes
Our first appetizer was the Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Ripped Potatoes (served with Malt Vinegar Aioli). It’s featured on the “snack” portion of the menu, but can easily be shared if you are going to be ordering an entrée, too. The dish’s description was accurate as both items were very crispy, yet soft on the inside. The vegetables were highlighted by just the right amount of seasoning and were dressed with the Malt Vinegar Aioli.

For our second appetizer, we decided to try a new menu item (though it is not on the gluten-free menu), the Poke Nachos made with marinated raw ahi, avocado, cilantro, serranos, green onions, nori, sesame seeds, sweet soy, sriracha aioli, white truffle sauce, and crispy wontons. This plate is one of several you can get that features ahi tuna. I like this one not only because it is very shareable, but because it highlights the ahi by merging ingredients that are both used in Asian and Latin cuisine. The combination of the different textures and flavors is delightful.

ahi nachos

What is not delightful is an empty glass, so Andy and I revisited the drink menu and ordered another round. I was curious about the Fresh and Skinny™ Cocktail choices, so I ordered a Skinny Margarita with El Jimador silver tequila and fresh lime. Other drinks on the Fresh and Skinny™ menu are the Pure Cosmo Martini, the Lite Lemon Drop Martini, the Juniper Fusion, and the Citrus Crush. For more information on the Fresh and Skinny™ Cocktail Menu you can click here. Andy ordered another glass of wine, this time a glass of Meiomi Pinot Noir.

skinny margarita
For my entree, I chose the Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad (from the Gluten-Sensitive menu) composed of greens, kale, tomatoes, edamame, carrots, radish, egg, blue cheese, corn, bacon, avocado, ranch. I usually get dressing on the side when I order a Cobb Salad because there is so much flavor (fat IS flavor!) from the blue cheese, egg, avocado and bacon, I don’t need to cover anything up with dressing. I love simple and fresh ingredients and this salad certainly fit that description.

pork burger and fries
For dessert, we enjoyed two more glasses of wine, mine a glass of Protocolo Rose Tierra de Castilla (a Spanish Rosé made from 50% Tempranillo and 50% Bobal. Andy ordered the Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Michael David Winery (Lodi).

round three drinks
Another healthy menu and gluten-free option we did not try, but was recently added is the Red Quinoa Salad Bowl, which Chef Jocson describes as the greatest hits of all super foods. The salad is a nice shareable dish or can be an entrée for one with a garden of kale, parsley, Brussels sprouts, roasted beets, cauliflower, pomegranate seeds, blueberries, baby tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and feta cheese. Guests can request that the cheese be removed for a vegan option. Carnivores can choose to add chicken or steak for a heartier meal.

Red Quinoa Salad Bowl

“In order to stay relevant menus have to evolve,” added Chef Jocson.  “Five years ago no one would have imagined blueberry ketchup, but it’s an amazing condiment for our Kurobuta Pork Burger and ours is made in-house.  These days offering vegan and vegetarian selections aren’t an option, but a necessity as more people reevaluate their diets and intake.  We already have several of such items, including our new Vegan Burger, as well as gluten-sensitive options.”

If you’re reading this blog post, Yard House will have already debuted its new menu items at all 65 locations. Open daily for lunch, dinner and late-night dining, Yard House offers one of the largest selections of beers on tap plus a creative list of cocktails and wine by the bottle or glass.

For more information, visit or follow on Facebook at and the Roseville location of Yard House on Facebook here or follow them on Twitter @yardhouse





Set Sail at the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure in Buena Park

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Last week, I visited Anaheim, California (more specifically Garden Grove) to attend a conference hosted by the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

Since the conference took place during the day, I planned a few places before my trip to check out during the evening. Though I am not a really active Yelper, I looked on their site ( and it was very helpful in listing activities/restaurants close to my hotel.

sign outside
During my search, I discovered The Pirate’s Adventure Dinner (in nearby Buena Park close to Knott’s Berry Farm). The Pirate’s Adventure Dinner is an interactive dinner theatre where guests begin the evening in a reception area and are served passed appetizers (the night I attended it was fried zucchini, fried macaroni and cheese, meatballs, and crudité).

reception area
Drinks are available for purchase from two different bars at opposite ends of the room while patrons enjoy the appetizers and wait to be seated for the show.

fried zucchini

bar area

veggie station
Before the show guests are encouraged to cheer for their pirate (assigned by color upon arrival during check-in). I was assigned orange. The assigned color also designates what section of the theatre (which surrounds an 18th Century Spanish galleon adrift in a 250, 000-gallon lagoon) you will be seated.

seating area

my section's pirate
Upon seating, guests are greeted by their server for the evening, and the serving of food begins with a choice of vegetable soup or a salad. (You can get dressing on the side if you wish, as I did).

The show begins as the first course is being served. The performance is a highly entertaining combination of swordplay, aerial artistry and acrobatics. The actors/pirates are quite talented and sing, dance and encourage the audience to join in. The plot of the show focuses on the “Tale of the Legendary Sea Dragon,” and there are lots of funny references to pop culture in the dialogue as well as pirate games and stunts in the 90 minute performance (no intermission).

cast in action
The night I attended the show, we were served a quarter chicken, vegetables, and a beef and vegetable kabob on a bed of mashed potatoes.


I was most impressed by the aerialist who performed a beautiful cirque-type number during the show.

We were served a brownie with ice cream for dessert, but I happily gave my portion to my neighbor and purchased more wine for myself to bring the performance to a close.

brownie dessert
As you leave, there is a gift shop in the lobby/reception area with all the essential pirate gear and souvenirs from the show as well as face painting for the kids.

The Pirate’s Adventure Dinner is a great venue to celebrate a birthday, get together with a group of friends, have a girls’ night out, or even enjoy by yourself (as I did). If you find yourself near Buena Park, check out the show.

Cost Breakdown per person:
(Ages 12 and older): $59.95
CHILD (Ages 3-11): $36.95
INFANT (Ages 2 and under): Free of charge
(Prices shown are as of July 2015 and do not include tax.)
There are seating upgrades available if you would like to be close (within the first three rows) to the stage.

You can find The Pirate’s Adventure Dinner on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here. They also have an Instagram account here. The Pirate’s Adventure dinner is currently offering a buy one, get one FREE promotion during the month of July 2015 with the code ON-715SOC. Call 866-439-2469 for details. Reservations are required. Call at least 3 hours in advance.

Thank you to the marketing department at The Pirate’s Adventure Dinner for arranging my visit! 🙂

Out of Control

You Give Me Fever…

When I was 24, I moved into my first non-roommate apartment, had a good job at a company in Dayton, Ohio and finally started living my own life. That meant for me, finally learning a little bit about fitness and exercise. Right away, I began working out at my apartment complex’s gym. That was around the time of the World Trade Center attack. I remember I picked up jogging about that time. I started at about 5 MPH and had to wear two bras…then by the spring/summer of 2002, I had lost a significant amount of weight and was “running” at speeds of up to 6.2 MPH for an hour or more. I bought a computer and signed up with an online diet service called “Calorie King”. That’s actually how I came up with my “cakegrrl” name. Why “cakegrrl”? “cake”: I had taken cake decorating classes and was doing a little baking on the side. And my biggest weakness is and probably will always be a good cake that I made with my signature buttercream. 🙂 I was feeling really empowered about being a female (increasingly more attractive as I dropped weight) living alone and making it happen by myself, so that is where the “grrl” comes from. It stuck with me and many people know me by that name instead of my real name. I don’t mind. 😉

A few months before I turned 25, I was experiencing some adult acne problems. I don’t think it was terrible to people around me, but I was so self-conscious about it. I was spending an hour everyday just to try and cover it up. It was also extremely painful. I now believe my skin problems stemmed a bit from some of the foods I was eating, as I was not as educated on nutrition as I am now. I also believe that for some reason since birth my body has been auto immune in some way, and the acne was my body fighting myself. Food wise, sure I was eating less, but I was eating a TON of frankenfoods because they were “low-calorie” “low-fat”, etc, and also a lot of artificial sweeteners. Diet Coke became my very best friend. So, the acne raged, and I looked to a dermatologist for help. I was given a common antibiotic called Minocycline. It was magical for me!! The acne cleared right away, and I was extremely happy. Anytime I had a breakout, all I had to do was pop a pill and my face was clear by the next day! I was getting more and more slim (I was still very young and metabolism was not yet completely wrecked from a ton of yo-yo dieting).

About a month later, (Fourth of July weekend 2002), my family and I packed up and went to my Dad’s place in Waverly, Ohio to have a huge cookout/fish/swim/ATV riding/suntanning drinkyfest. It was so hot and humid, and I was not feeling great at all… I had no appetite and I was very lethargic. Not like the new me at all. I remember coming home a little early and just wanting to sleep. On Monday morning, I got up to get ready for work, and I passed out walking from my bathroom to my bedroom. I woke up about an hour later and called my mom and work to let them know I would not be coming in. I checked my temperature and I remember I had a fever, though I don’t remember how high it was. My mom took me into the hospital and they took some blood tests and sent me home. On the way back to my apartment, we picked up some doughnuts (I had not eaten in almost 2 days, and they were the only things that sounded remotely good to me.)

Just as I had gotten settled in on my couch, the hospital called me and told me to come in right away because my liver was near failure. I remember being so pissed because we were just there and had to come back. Just as I was about to enjoy fried, sugary goodness (but nothing to the level of Marie’s on Freeport) 😉 !!! I insisted that my mom give me time to finish breakfast, and I took my time.

Then it began. I was admitted and subjected to a gauntlet of tests. The doctors initially thought I had Lyme disease because I had just been camping over the weekend. So, they gave me more antibiotics intravenously…a sister drug called Doxycline. That is when I really became seriously ill. My fever over the next few days soared to 104.7°F. I kept asking about the medication. I knew it was not supposed to make me feel worse. I had 2 blue dye Cat Scans, a spinal tap (I guess to see if I had spinal meningitis), an AIDS test, 3 pregnancy tests (um, no… I told you I am not pregnant, people!!) and still a circle of doctors and nurses standing around me who were completely baffled.

Around the fourth day, I was ready to die. My body had taken on an enormous amount of fluid and I was not going to the bathroom. I was so weak I couldn’t walk. I was constantly freezing from having a fever. I had no appetite. My skin had (freakishly) started peeling. I looked like a monster. No one knew what was wrong. I was a little delirious. My parents were beside themselves. I remember praying to God to either take me away or make me better, but please do something. I made peace with Him. I said I was sorry and hoped He would help my parents would understand that I could not fight anymore. My fever was still crazy high, and the nurses gave me acetaminophen to try and control it, but that only aggravated my liver and kidneys.

Finally, my doctor (who wasn’t really listening to me) brought in a dermatologist who listened to me and all my symptoms, and instantly knew I was having a severe drug reaction. He immediately removed the IV feed. (I had already stopped taking the Minocycline because I thought it was part of the problem.) I began to get better almost right away. I was given heavy doses of steroids to speed the healing process, because I will soon explain that the worst was yet to come. I was determined to get out of the hospital because there was a Bruce Hornsby concert at Fraze Pavilion I really wanted to see. Priorities, right? After about 9 days (but what seemed like 9 years), I was released.

I went back to work very quickly after I was released from the hospital. It was important for me to restore some sort of normalcy in my life. But work was not the same and I was not the same. It was very hard for me to focus on anything. The first side effect was that my body was seeping liquid that I had stored from the IVs. The second side effect was that my entire body shed it’s skin from head to toe. Even my scalp. And it itched like nothing I can describe except for maybe… my skin “crawled”.

The itching went on for months. Every minute of every hour of every day. Then something worse happened… Stay tuned my friends…


For as long as I can remember, I have been very hard on myself. And everything in my life I have taken so personally. Of course, these two things combined can be a little disastrous. I have always been extremely self-conscious and shy. This might sound funny to people who have met me before, but I assure you it is very true.

My flaws have nothing to do with my parents, who are both still living, happily married, and fantastically awesome. I will not blame anyone but myself for being a complete mess in the past. What I will do is try and explain why I am the way I am, what I have learned, and how I have changed.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want to help you if you want to hear it. Many people have told me I should testify (don’t laugh, it’s a great choice of word), and I do think my information is good, useful, and somewhat interesting.

I still in transformation mode, both physically and mentally. And even when I am finished with my physical transformation, I will always be in repair mentally. Always working and learning to be a better person.

I will try to not be militant or angry about the advice I give and my opinions on food, diet, and weightloss. When I start to sound preachy, please understand that my words come from passion and experience. I now consider myself to be an expert in hair loss, weight gain and weight loss. And now that I am in a tremendous place right now in my head and my heart, I am ready to write about my past struggles (about which I can look back and see myself squirming and dying to break free), and my current and future breakthroughs (triumphant)!!

There is really a sunny side, and yes, (as cheesy as it sounds) you don’t have to look far to find it because it comes from within… Happy Independence Weekend!