Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Eating Healthy /// Cigna Blogger Meet-Up Recap

Okay, so this is a little out of order (should have been BEFORE my Disneyland 10K Race Recap), but I guess we will just have to deal with it (even though the perfectionist in me wants to try and reorder them).

Remember back in the day, when runDisney used to have those really AWESOME meet-ups? They would hint about when they would be posting the information on their blog a couple days before and then you would sit on your computer and hit "REFRESH" like a maniac in hopes of seeing the post first and sending off your email that had been saved in your drafts for like a week and a half. Let me tell you, if you don't know what I'm talking about, you really missed out! Those were the "good ol' days".

I was actually one of the lucky ones with fast fingers for the 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Meet-Up! You can just feel the excitement oozing from my pores post when I was notified I was in. Oh yeah, and then there was the recap from the Meet-Up itself! Suffice it to say, these were coveted events that everyone and their mama wanted to be on the guest list for!

How funny is it that I was in the same group as Jillian, Victoria,
Kelly, and Emelia and didn't even realize it?!
Source: runDisney

Just like most things from back in the day, the runDisney Meet-Ups are now just a thing of the past... A bit of runDisney folk lore... Something us "old timers" reminisce about when thinking of hand cramps from refreshing websites for hours on end or getting to run through the completely empty parks with runDisney royalty (such as Jeff GallowaySean AstinAli Vincent, Tara Gidus, etc).

Source: runDisney

After a few races went by without the meet-ups, runDisney actually reintroduced them into the program, but this time they were a perk that you had to pay for. If you have been around here for longer than a day, you probably know I am rather "frugal" and could have guessed I wouldn't be signing up for those pre-race festivities.

Earlier this year, I remembered hearing something about a fun cooking demonstration during the Walt Disney World Marathon Week Weekend, but figured that A. I must not have been cool enough, B. I was in Orlando with my parents celebrating our Christmas so wasn't too upset when I wasn't asked (although deep down maybe I was a little jealous), and C. maybe being from the West Coast was hindering my invite to an East Coast event.

Well, much to my surprise, a few weeks ago I received a SUPER EXCITING email!

OH HECK TO THE YES I AM INTERESTED! Sign me up NOW! The last time I was at Napa Rose was for the 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Meet-Up (like I said, I am frugal, so we normally eat "cheaply" or bring our own food when visiting the parks), but I would ALWAYS welcome an opportunity to go back - not to mention, I love health, wellness, and running, so what could be better?!

On to the main event! Ryan and I ended up driving up to Disneyland early Friday morning (after he had just gotten back from Portugal like 36 hours before, talk about jet lag - he's the best hubby in the whole wide world!). The kind folks from Cigna (who happened to be the title sponsor for the weekend's races) worked out free parking for us at the Grand Californian (I swear, one day we will actually stay here!), so it was easy peasy getting there.

I met up with a few blogging yahoos before the event to enjoy a little pre-party sparkling water. Oh how I love my social media friends! We be cray-cray and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Yes, in fact, we DID win Friday morning ;)
Source@SharpEndurance's Instagram

When we arrived at Napa Rose, we were split into four separate, smaller groups. I guess they "knew" me, because I was put into the Goofy group ;) Each group would begin at one of the different healthy course demonstrations and then rotate through the whole meal. Along the way, we were able to assist, ask questions, take pictures, try some of the ingredients, and, of course, social media it up the whole time!

I swear when we walked in they told us to grab a chef hat,
but for some reason I was the only one wearing one for the
longest time... Like I said, "GOOFY GROUP"!!

The Goofy Crew started at the SALAD STATION. Sure, there are a few veggies that I do not prefer (i.e. cucumbers make me want to gag), but for the most part I LOVE me a big ol' salad! Of course, when they chefs asked for a volunteer my hand shot up! I got to spoon berries into a bowl - Oooh Aaah! :) Our group was able to whisk up two different vinaigrettes (one with sugar as the sweetener and one with honey) - I have to say, I am super surprised at how easy they were to make!

If you ever need to strain your herb oil, feel free to use a coffee filter ;)

The next station was the ENTREE STATION. Being a vegetarian, I wasn't too enthralled with the butchering of the chicken, but others were stoked. What did have me salivating was the amazing kale pesto (have you ever had kale pesto?!) and the toasted farro with smoked mozzarella - I mean LEGIT DELISH!

I'm not sure why, but Chef Chris missed the memo about
needing a chef hat in the kitchen ;)

I have to admit, I was most excited about the next station - DESSERTS! Napa Rose tries to source all local food, meaning if something is in season in SoCal for two weeks, you better get your booty over to the restaurant for your meal or you will miss out on it! We were able to try out a bunch of scrum-didily-umptious fruits, like cotton candy grapes (which I had never tried before), GOOSEBERRIES, candy striped figs, sugar melon, and tree ripened peaches (because, apparently, most times the fruit isn't given the opportunity to ripen while still on the tree - WHO KNEW?!). We also got to see the makings of the dessert we would be having with our meal. Hubby is a crumble fiend (like he will get multiple pieces of a crumble dessert just to eat the crumble part off of it), so I had to grab the recipe!

Nature's candy! GIVE IT TO ME NOW!

Last up (which was actually the first station if you were going through them in order) was the SMOOTHIE BAR! I love me a good smoothie (I was actually thinking about putting a legit blender on my birthday list because ours just isn't cutting it any more). We blended up a pre-workout and post-workout smoothie. The pre-workout smoothie was a Crunchy Cocoa Coffee Smoothie. Normally I am NOT a coffee drinker (I don't even like the smell of it), but with the oats, banana, and chocolate, it was more like an energized banana chocolate milk. And, hey, I didn't want to spit it out, so that is a win in my book! The post-workout smoothie was something I was STOKED about! A blueberry cactus-pear smoothie?! Uh... YEAH! Now if only I could have talked the chef into pouring me a normal sized glass of it ;)

The lighting in the bar area wasn't the best (I have a few ideas why this would
be ;)), but you get the point! The drinks were DELISH!

After we "helped" with all of the food, we finally got to enjoy the fruits of our labor and DIG IN! Let me tell you, I sort of wish they had "smell-o-vision" because the pictures don't do the food justice. It was AMAZEBALLS! And I was even lucky enough to score a vegetarian option for the entree (it was like a veggie strudel of sorts). GET IN MY BELLY!

They spoiled us! And now we can spoil ourselves because we have the recipes!

Oh yeah, and who can forget the star of the show?! Chef Mickey Mouse! We were able to snap a couple pictures with him, both individually and then with our demonstration groups. AWESOMESAUCE!

Me and the Mouse!


I love that Cigna and runDisney teamed up to not only invite us to hang out and be social (because who can turn that down?), but also to learn about some healthy meal options that don't have a million and a half ingredients or take five hours to prepare - cause AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! A couple nutritious ingredients, twenty minutes, and you can get a delicious meal on the table that everyone will enjoy!

Wanna see some footage from the get-together?! You can even see a brief snip of me (in my chef hat) around the :14 second mark of the official video!

I am beyond honored that I was selected to be part of this fantastic morning. A HUGE THANKS to Cigna for sponsoring the blogger meet-up, to Napa Rose for hosting it, and to runDisney for being amazing and bringing us all together!

Of the four stations I mentioned, which would you have wanted to try?


Heather said...

Those entrees sounded delish and the dessert too! Btw I was lucky enough to be selected for a runDisney meet up. My first half and that-sweet!!! And I also hate cucumbers. I wish the hummus spread could cover the taste but nope.

Scarabocchio Girl said...

That was awesome! I love cooking and cooking with chefs I think it's a dream come true. Healthy food is in my kitchen and I'm always looking for new recipes to add...good job Carlee!

Heather's Looking Glass said...

Looks fun! I was so sad to miss all the DL fun