Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Way Out West

It's been three weeks since I've been here rambling about what I like to eat and what I think you should try! We just returned from a lovely vacation visiting our family out west.  The week before vacation is always nutty so no blogging going on then.  Trying to tie up loose ends, pack, shop because you don't have anything to pack, and then not know what to buy because it's April and the weather is all over the place.  I have to say I scaled down my packing quite a bit and still only used half of what I brought.  I did bring lemons and cayenne with me...used all of those.  Anyway, I don't have a recipe to share today (but I do have some stockpiled, so stay tuned), but I thought I'd share some fun pictures from the trip.  A little tiny taste of the Pacific Northwest for you to enjoy.
I was really happy to see how green everything was when we arrived.  I knew it would be but it was such a nice change from our dead grass at home that had just revealed itself days before we left.
These pictures are from the driveway at my Mother-in-law's house.  My favorite dog Rufus and I walked and ran many laps up and down the quarter mile stretch while we were there.  I had to do something to cancel out all the eating out and tasty Oregon beers we were sampling. It's all about balance.
 And it did the trick, no added vacation pounds here.  Maybe that cayenne lemon water I've been drinking didn't hurt either?  Not sure but I'm sticking with it.  I just love these crazy mossy trees.
The weather was not great but not completely terrible either.  Almost every day had periods of sunshine in between total downpours.  There were blue skies...

and stormy ones too.  Even hail a couple of times.
And much like back at home, even when it's sunny, it's raining.
The kids didn't mind a bit.  They just throw on some giant rubber boots and head on down to the pond to catch (all kinds of disgusting) critters.
Supposedly this is a "baby" slug.  If you're gagging right now, I don't blame you.  So am I.
One day we headed out on a hike along the old railroad tracks that run through the property.  They haven't been used since '06 so they were pretty overgrown.  Here we get to see the front and back of Rufus at the same time, how about that.

We walked across three trestles, each one scarier than the next.  Although, Hayden didn't seem to mind.  I will say I was even more scared when I walked these things many years ago because the train was still running twice a day and I was very (even more) freaked out.
I tried my best to capture just how high up this thing was.  See that stream way down there?  It can be tricky taking pictures when your knees are knocking.
I almost lost my lunch trying to take this one.
There's something just so cool about it though, it was worth it.
You can see how they left me in the dust...Phoebe was a little scared too.
It's not a trip to the country without a couple of barn shots.  This is Grandma's barn, our kids love to hang out in Grandma's barn.  I would have too at their age.

I do love an old barn.
Not to mention an old barn and an airplane. (This is not Grandma's barn or her airplane)
We did head into Portland a few times.  In the rain...
For a giant cheeseburger and a Blazer's game! 
But we thoroughly enjoyed our own personal wildlife show right from the house...
even the elk paid us a visit (a couple of times!).
Between the wildlife, scenery, visits with friends and family
we had a really nice time.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Breakfast Evolution

Some say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Is it?  Not sure, they're all pretty important as far as I'm concerned.  Some say that eating breakfast every day will help you to lose or maintain weight. Will it?  Not sure about that either, there are studies that go both ways on that.  I do know that if I don't eat breakfast, by 10:30 I'm totally crabby and likely to have a headache.  Then I'm also likely to eat the first thing I can get my hands on because I'm too crabby and headachey to make something.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets like this.  And that is one of the reasons for siting breakfast as an important part of weight management.  You really don't want to be stuffing down a doughnut because you're starving.

 I don't like to eat breakfast right away in the morning.  I get up about 6:00 am but don't eat until I've been at work a little while, usually around 8:30.  For the last several years I've been bringing the same food to work every day. An oatmeal packet, a yogurt and a banana.  Every day, a Quaker Apples and Cinnamon oatmeal which has now evolved into Nature's Path Flax Plus oatmeal because my tastes have changed.  The Quaker oatmeal seems way too sweet to me now but the Flax Plus has just the perfect distribution of salty and sweet. Seriously, I love it.  My yogurt has also evolved over the years.  I was into Activia vanilla for ages.  It was expensive and small and that too eventually started tasting too sweet.  There was a time when I thought it was the best tasting thing out there but now I can barely stand it.  A year or so ago, I wanted to switch to Greek yogurt which took some getting used to.  I finally found some Chobani flavors I really enjoyed like black cherry and passion fruit.  Well, with 17-20 grams of sugar (the total recommended daily allowance by the American Heart Association) I started to rethink that too despite the fact that I really, really liked it.  My latest and greatest breakfast yogurt is exactly what I wanted to share with you today.  I so love my new breakfast that I've been known to "Mmm" aloud at work while I'm eating it.
The current yogurt of choice is Fage.  I like that its 2% (can't seem to find full fat in the store).  It's not organic but at this stage of the game you can't win them all.  Eating is tricky business these days so you have to pick your battles sometimes.
I take about a half cup, or just shy of that, and put it in a to go dish when I get up in the morning.  (This could just as easily be done the night before but I'm just not that on top of it).
I get my bag of blackberries out of the freezer (they're in season for about 5 minutes so frozen is the way to go).
I also use frozen blueberries, these add sweetness to the plain yogurt.  Blueberries are a super food full of antioxidants and fiber.
I don't typically measure but for the purpose of this post I did.  I figure I use about a half cup total of berries or a touch more.  That's about a serving of fruit.
Next I throw on about a tablespoon of coconut, unsweetened.  Ever since I learned that the sweet stuff is made sweet using propylene glycol (aka anti-freeze) I stick to the unsweetened.  Creepy.
So then I just stick it in the fridge until I'm ready to head out to work.  But wait, there's more.

Chia, another super food to add to the list.
  Those are the seeds in the jar on the right.  I keep a baggie of them at my desk at work and add about a tablespoon to my yogurt every day.  There are so many good things to say about adding chia to your diet that I'll just let you read this Top Ten List for yourself.  I swear that they get the credit for my most fabulous HDL reading (67 thank you very much- anything over 60 is considered protective against heart disease).
I also keep a little baggie of granola at my desk.  When I don't have homemade I find this one to be quite nice.  This adds a little more sweetness and a fabulous crunch to the ensemble.  I use about a quarter cup of granola, maybe a touch less.
When I'm ready to eat, I just add the chia and the granola, by then the berries are defrosted but everything stays very cold. (no need to refrigerate it at work)
So just mix it all up and have at it! I couldn't take pictures at work, that's why this is in a different bowl.  This fabulous breakfast comes in around 330 calories and only 7 grams of sugar (half of which are natural sugars from the berries and yogurt).  This breakfast bowl keeps me so full that I usually don't need the oatmeal.  I still have a banana every day, an hour or two after I eat this awesomeness.  If I'm out of something or don't take the time to put it all together I stick with my trusty oatmeal.  But the yogurt is truly missed.  If you're looking for a nice, easy, healthy and filling breakfast, I highly recommend this one.