Hiking and Cookouts…

4th of July weekends are never complete without…

Time Spent Outdoors

The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, and the mountain was calling our names. 😉 

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The views on top were absolutely beautiful, making the hike well worth all the effort. 😉  We were trying to figure out how many times we’ve hiked this one up.  I remember climbing up it with the family since I was 4 years old (although I’m pretty sure my dad carried me up at least half-way at that point 😉 ).  I didn’t always enjoy hiking when I was small, but looking back, I’m so glad we did.  So many great memories and now I absolutely love it!!!  You can’t beet getting outside and active on a gorgeous day. 😀

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The mountain has a road to the top too, so I decided to try and hitchhike my way down.  Haha…kidding!  Considering how “busy” the road was, I might have still been there at this very moment.  😉

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Backyard Cookouts

I quickly threw together this pork chop marinade from weber’s great grilling website.  It was so easy to put together.  I simply threw the marinade into a bag, added in the pork chops, and let it sit for 20 minutes.  Just enough time for the coals on the weber to heat right up to the correct temperature.  The outside of the pork chops got all crispy, and the marinade was so very flavorful.  You can barely taste the brown sugar, but it did offer nice crispy edges and markings.  I was a little afraid the lemon juice was going to make it sour, you know?  But it came out nicely balanced with the soysauce, sugar, and olive oil.  Loved it, and I’ll be keeping it on record for the next time we grill up some chops.

Dad did an awesome grilling job, by the way… 😀

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The brussell sprouts were perfecto too!  I drizzled about 1.5 pounds of sprouts with1 T. olive oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.  I tossed them and threw ’em into a sprayed baking pan, cooking in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

The outer “burnt” edges are the best part. 😀

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There were also some grilled taters.  I sprayed a doubled sheet of foil, threw on 4 chopped potatoes, and drizzled 1 T. olive oil.  Then I liberally sprinkled on garlic powder, cajun, and paprika.  Throw the enclosed packet on the grill, and cook until tender and it starts to brown and gets crispy on the edges.

Easy Peazy!  😀

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All together to make a very delightful meal…

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Watermelon

Because, honestly, what 4th of July celebration is complete without it? 😀

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It was a very enjoyable weekend.  I fit in lots of outdoor activities, spent some great quality time with the family, and enjoyed some very good food too.  I hope you all have really enjoyed this past weekend as well! 😀

Sunday Highlights…:)

Recapturing the Sunday Highlights…

Don’t you just love lazy Sundays with no plans to do, or places to go?  I was more then happy to relax before my very busy day tomorrow.  I’ll be up by 6 o’clock sharp, and off to volunteer in the kitchen at the hospital.  I’m not sure how long I’ll be there for, so I plan on packing a lunch to bring, along with eating a nice and hearty breakfast. 😀 

On to the Sunday highlights…

The Hug Mug…

…delicious and cozy as ever! 😀  It was 60 degrees out, and even though I normally go for the iced coffees, this one just seemed so perfect.  It was made with 1 c. hot coffee and 1/2 c. soymilk.  So perfectly creamy. 😀

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Grilled Chicken Sausages…

…with sauteed peppers and onions with lots of ketchup and whole wheat rolls.  Mmm…this is one of my favorite summer-time treats. 😀

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Picking Flowers…

…this picture makes me smile… 😀

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…and this one too…:D

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Being Outside After a Heavy Rainfall…

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Going out with Dad to help pick out his Father’s Day Gift…

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…which is going to get some great use this summer. 😉

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Hodge-Podge Dinners…

…complete with yogurt & flax with a bowl of puffins for crunch, carrots & dill hummus, and pineapple & grapefruit segments.  I love sampling. 😀

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There was also a trip to the icecream barn, complete with sprinkles on grasshopper icecream, two separate 3-mile walks–one in the rain, one in the sun :D, and watching an old movie at night.  Such a nice, relaxin’ day.  I feel refreshed and ready for a busy week ahead of me.  Hope you all had a really enjoyable weekend as well! 😀

Green Monsters and Kale

Another beautiful, sunny day!  I knew immediately after waking up that I just had to go for at least a short morning run.  Mom had asked me to go grocery shopping with her, and despite having already gone yesterday, I decided I would tag along.  I just never turn down shopping, whether its for groceries or for clothes. 😀  Plus it makes for nice chatting time with mom, too…

Anyways, the plan was to leave at 10 to go shopping, so I decided I’d make time to get up, make a nice hearty breakfast, head out for a 2-mile run, shower, and be ready to go by 10.  I also knew I’d need about an hour between breakfast and running to avoid any stomach cramps.

**Can you guys exercise right after eating, or do you require a little time in between too?? 

Breakfast was a spin-off from yesterday’s.  I wanted to finish off the sweet potatoes, so it just seemd like the right thing to do. 🙂

Berry Sweet Potato Oat Cakes

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This was the same as yesterday only I added in some nutmeg and about a cup’s worth of blueberries.  I loved, loved, loved the addition of fruit, but a cup was a bit excessive.  It added more moisture to the mix and made the final product much more doughy then yesterday’s.  I kind of liked it that way. 😀  But if you want more of a pancake type of consistency, cut back on the milk or the blueberries, or add in a bit more flour.

And instead of walnuts, I subbed in a scoopful of pb. 

I savored this home brewed iced coffee to-go.  I felt very economical, making it myself. 😀  haha…We’re all out of soy, so I instead used 1/2 c. of regular low-fat milk with a tsp. of sugar for a bit of sweetness.

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Breakfast held me over surprisingly well.  I didn’t get the slightest hunger pang until well past noon.  And even then I wasn’t overly hungry.  I mostly wanted to eat lunch with the family before everyone had to leave for work, or appointments, etc. 

So I made us all salads.

My mix consisted of:

  • mesclun greens + a little spinach + a little green leef lettuce
  • carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers
  • red onions
  • 3 green olives
  • my regular dressing (1 tsp each of EVOO, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, and a little bit of garlic powder and mustard powder)
  • 2 natures promise chicken slices
  • 1/2 c. black beans
  • a bit of fresh mozzarella
  • a small handful of raisins
  • and fresh blueberries!

+ kashis too of course! 😀

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The star of the meal was the blueberries.  So good!

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Dessert…I do realize that I’m extremely repetitive in my dessert choices.  I can’t help myself.  This pair wins every time. 😀

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Check out this humungous head of kale that I bought at whole foods the other day!!  It was only $1.99 so I of course had to pick up two!  I figured for that price, may as well try it in place of spinach for my green monsters.

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Ta-Daaa!!  I think I may need a larger cup though? 😉

This mix was made up of:

  • 4 c. kale
  • 1/2 c. soymilk
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 mango
  • lots of ice cubes

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I really enjoyed the mix.  But Jenna on Eat, Live, Run was totally right when she said it was more green tasting.  I could smell it before even taking a sip and knew it was going to be leaning towards tasting more like vegetables.  Spinach doesn’t let you know it exists in the drink other then for its bold color…kale just wants to stand out and get some attention!  😀  My dad tried it and said it wasn’t as good as the others I had made with spinach…I liked it because I felt so healthy after drinking it and I loved the sweetness from the mango and soymilk. 

Supper was wonderful.

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This is the herbed carrot soup from moosewood cookbook and is an absolute must-try!  It’s so herby and fresh, and the added lemon juice gives it the most subtle little tang.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this recipe!!

The rosemary foccaccia scones are equally delicious and also from moosewood cookbook (can you tell I’m a huge fan? 😀 )  I modified it a little, and once I figure out if it’s okay to post a modified recipe, I will.  Does anyone know what rules there are to copyrighting and all that other fun stuff?

My night snack was a bowl of honey nut cheerios with soy.  Sweet ‘n’ crunchy. 😀 

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I think my summer class is going to be a little time consuming, but I hope it will be informational and fun as well.  I need to find a hospital or other food service area to volunteer some time in as part of the ‘lab compartment’ of the class.  My goal is to find one by the middle of next week.  I’ll be gone all weekend, so all of the calling and searching will have to wait until Monday, after my volunteer orientation at the local hospital.  Phew…I think I’m going to be a busy girl this summer! 😀

I’m a day early, but…HAPPY FRIDAY!  Hope everyone has some fun plans (even if it’s just some good ol’ relaxation!) for this weekend! 😀

Exercise: My morning 2-mile run felt wonderful, and I could have gone much further if not for the fact I needed to rush back home to get ready for grocery shopping.  Just another reminder that getting up a lil’ earlier in the morning might be a good idea. 😉  I’m keeping tomorrow morning free for a longer run if the mood strikes.

Mom and I also went for a 4-mile walk after lunch today.  And then later tonight I went for a 2-mile walk after dinner.  Both walks were slow and enjoyable.

Oh…and can’t forget my stretching routine too.  I find that a good 10 minutes of stretching after exercising keeps me feeling nice and loose.  I always feel great afterwards. 😀

whole foods, to-do lists, and other such ramblings…

This morning, I hopped out of bed with one thing on my mind: pancakes.

I’ve been seeing them a lot on different blogs lately, and couldn’t resist making my own batch of goodness.  But I also wanted to get an early start and head out to Whole Foods, which meant I needed something quick and easy. 

These did the trick: Sweet Potato Oat Cakes

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I simply mixed together the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. oats
  • 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. low-fat milk
  • 1/4 c. sweet potato (sometimes I make this recipe without the sweet potato…feel free to use pumpkin, or just mix in your favorite fruit instead–blueberries, raisins, apple, etc. 😀 )
  • 1-1/4 tsp baking powder
  • about 8 dashes of cinnamon
  • a dash of salt

I stirred it all together, let it sit for about 5 minutes while I was preparing the pan to “fry” them in (using non-stick spray,) and then plopped them right in!  Quick, easy, and tasty to boot.  They were soft and doughy, with a bit of chew to them from the oats.  I topped mine with a banana and about 2 T. walnuts.  This kept me full all morning long.  I think next time I’ll cut the batch in half and make a smoothie to go along with it.  😀

Lunch was a hodgepodge, eaten in the car outside of trader joes.  It seems as if I’m always out shopping, doesn’t it? haha…but this was an actual grocery trip.  Not that it wasn’t fun, mind you. 😉  I could spend an entire day at whole foods, I think, just sampling the different cheeses and admiring all the fresh and local produce they sell.  Love it.

Anyways, back to lunch.  I packed myself an orange, some carrots and red bell pepper sticks, and a kashi almond crunch bar.  I ended up picking out a fage 2% yogurt at TJ’s, because I couldn’t get myself to walk past the dairy section without buying one. 😀

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My granola bar tasted yummy all crunched up on top of the creamy goodness…mmm…

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This iced soy latte is going to be my last coffee splurge for a while.  I’m a poor college student and need to start actually acting like one. 😉  I made it last by sipping it nice and slow, enjoying it thoroughly. 

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I found some great big bunches of kale at whole foods and can’t wait to try them out in a green monster form.  They were really cheap and the bunches were absolutely humungous.  I love that they’re such a nutritional powerhouse, and can’t wait to experiment with them.

When I came home from shopping, I was getting a lil’ hungry, so broke out a slice of whole wheat sourdough bread, toasted it, and topped it with a bit of peanut butter and strawberry jam.

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…and then I munched on a couple of handfuls of these sweet things. 😀

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Dinner was thrown together in a flash.  Mom and Dad were outside planting the last of the tomato plants and splitting wood (that was done by dad…not mom, although you just never know… 😉 ), so I got to work with prepping dinner for everyone. 

It was nice and simple.  I made some scrambled eggs (1 whole egg, and about 1-1/2 additional egg whites per person) and topped them with sauteed onions, peppers, and spinach (in a tsp of olive oil).  On the side we all had english muffins.  Mom and I were super excited to be eating the whole wheat raisin english muffins that were picked up from Trader Joes.  SO GOOD! 

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Dessert was a peice of blueberry coffee cake… 😀

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This weekend I have plans to sleep over my sis’ apartment which will be super fun.  I also need to get to work on my summer class…as well as filling out some volunteer paperwork.  I think it’s time to create an up-to-date TO-DO LIST!!

I’m just one of those types of people who needs an actual, written out, list of things to do, along with a highlighter to check the items off as I go.  I like having that visual reminder.  Otherwise I can become a huge procastinator! 😀

Now I’m off to read up on some other blogs, plan some meals for next week, and read a little bit too.  Happy Humpday Everyone! 😀

Day With Mom

I woke up early this morning, but stayed in bed listening to the rain for a while.  During the semester, I just didn’t have the luxury to spend spare moments doing nothing.  Which is why I’m enjoying it so much while I still can. 😀

I always wake up hungry in the morning.  Always.  I’m definitely a “roll right out of bed” person when it comes to eating.  And what a perfect bowl of oatmeal I had…

Unfortunately I deleted the picture.

Blame it on my flipping through the pics too quickly while I was freeing up some space on my card.  Ugh…

Since we were all out of apples, I made it with 1/2 a pear (and noshed on the other half), and topped it with pb, coconut, and my homemade granola!  I’ll wait to give it a full review until tomorrow when I actually get a picture on here. 😀

Lunch was a dipping plate.  I mixed up some canned salmon with a bit of mayo and dill, and used carrot sticks and kashis for my dippers.  I ate with my mom in the parking lot of Trader Joes.  Haha…we were planning on saving it for later, but there’s something about shopping that makes a person hungry. 😀

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And I had a very juicy orange for dessert…

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Today was raw and cold and wet.  I forgot to make myself an iced coffee this morning, but that just didn’t sound all that appealing anyways.  Seriously.  I was wearing a down vest and gloves to keep myself warm.  What happened to my 72 degree and sunny weather?  I had a full weekend of it and now I’m acting like a spoiled girl now that it’s gone.  *shaking head*…

This cheared me right up though.  A tall soy latte from starbucks.  My complaining completely disappeared.  Amazing what a hot cup of foamy milk will do for me. 😀

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Mom and I are shopaholics.  We even have what we call our “angel pins”…little pins shaped like shopping angels.  Crazy, I know.  But it’s true.  We could shop all day.  Until we get cranky or tired enough.  But give us a little something to eat and we’re good to go for another full day. ha…

Today was an especially fun shopping day because I found some great deals at the clothing stores and spent some great time browsing through whole foods.  I could go insane there.  And I’ve realized something about myself too.  I love free food.  If you give me free samples to try or coupons for free food, I’ll try anything and everything.  Today I tried some delicious lemonade and a few different cheeses.  I love tasting things.  I think I missed my calling as a food critic.  😀

Mom snagged a cookie from the bakery section.  A vegan-cranberry-almond-coconut, very chewy cookie.  I took a bite. 😉  The verdict?

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Surprisingly enough, it was just okay.  Mom said she preferred the homemade cookies we make on occasion and I couldn’t have agreed more.  I loved the texture, all chewy and all.  But the appearance made me expect something sweeter and more delicious.  Especially from whole foods where their bakery just draws you in with all the delicious smells.  Next time I’m trying a muffin because the cinnamon chip one is calling my name. 😀

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I realized another something today.  How much our attitudes can affect other peoples’ days (and our own too.)  Two examples:

  • One lady at whole foods snuffed and snared when I mumbled “excuse me” to get by.  This didn’t ruin my day…I sort of just laughed it off.  But, what if someone was having a bad day and I acted the same way as the lady did and gave attitude?  Surprising how much our own moods influence other people.
  • A guy at the counter gave me a quick smile and a “nice day!” and totally brightened me up and put a smile on my face.  Positive attitudes and even a simple smile do wonders.  Words of wisdom for the day…smile at someone. 😀

After coming home from our shopping trip, I immediately broke open this new flavored bar from odwalla…mocha-walla!!  I saw it on another blog and was so excited to give it a try for myself.  I love coffee and chocolate…even better combined, right?

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RIGHT!  😀  I love this flavor.  I think it’s my new fave.  Not too overly sweet but sweet enough to hit the sweet tooth.  No fake tasting coffee flavors.  And the chocolate chips were not skimpily added at all.  Mmm…I’m saving half the bar for tomorrow’s breakfast or snack.  It was the perfect pre-walking snack.  Mom loved it too and wished she had gotten it instead of her cookie. 😦  Oh well…a future shopping trip to whole foods isn’t too far away, I’m sure. 😉

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I’ve been trying to include more vegetarian meals in my diet lately, for taste and health benefits.  And in case you’ve yet to try this recipe from RunnersWorld, you need to try it! 😀

These are lentil tacos, and I absolutely adore this recipe.  I’ve made it countless times, but never for the entire family.  I was a little freaked out, because I wasn’t sure how well they would be received.  Lentils tend to scare some people. 😉  But it got rave reviews, and I was super surprised but happy.  To think my family would be chowing down on lentil tacos…it was a proud moment for me as a nutrition major. 😀

I had two tacos…both with the same toppings, except no cheese on the second because I couldn’t taste it on the first.  Thank goodness this weight watchers cheese is finished now!  Oh, and a side salad with hummus on the side of course.

Taco Toppings:

  • Trader Joes’ cherry tomatoes (soooo sweet and fresh!)
  • Whole Foods’ boxed spring lettuce mix
  • Weight Watchers cheese (ick…don’t recommend)
  • Homemade guacamole
  • Taco #1 + side salad

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    Taco #2

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    Phew…I’m one full but happy girl.  After my food digested I did a little light stretching to loosen my hamstrings up.  They’ve felt really tight these last couple days.  I don’t know if it’s from biking and my legs just not being used to it?  I also did a bit of strength training and beginner’s yoga.  I’m so inflexible, but I can at least touch my toes now.  That took me a couple months just to reach that point.  Embarrassing, but true.  Gotta keep stretchin’… 😀

    Now I’m sitting, blogging, and watching 27 Dresses…can you tell it’s just a couple girls picking the movie at my house? 😉

    Exercise: 4-mile walk, a little bit of strength training, and some beginner’s yoga.