Cross-Country Skiing in Vermont

Although it’s late March and the end of the skiing season, I was hoping to get in at least one cross-country skiing trip while in Vermont. Lucky for me, on my second day here we were able to go to Craftsbury for some skiing. The Craftsbury Nordic Center was very affordable – only $10 for a day pass and $15 for rentals! The snow wasn’t perfect (due to it being a warm day and so late in the season), but it didn’t slow us down too much and we had a great time skiing for about 2 hours.

Outside of being affordable and fun, the facility itself was great to use. There were maps and trail signs everywhere to clearly tell us where we were going:

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The views were spectacular:

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And the trails themselves were nice winding paths through the trees:

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What’s not to love about a great day skiing?

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Skiing always requires a great lunch to follow. I made a tuna salad to have with toast, spinach, carrots, and hummus. For the tuna salad, I used one small can of tuna packed in water, a few almonds, and a scoop of plain greek yogurt:

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All mixed up and on my sandwich:

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Noah stuck with the basics, pb & j with pretzels:

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Gotta love the classics! 🙂

Travels and Vermont Co-ops

I am currently in Vermont, enjoying the snow/sunshine, maple syrup, and a lovely week of total relaxation. Noah is from Vermont, so we’re here visiting his family. I traveled from MSP to Burlington on Delta, and man oh man, for anyone traveling through the Minneapolis/St Paul airport, you MUST go to Concourse G at Terminal 1. IT IS AMAZING! I’ve never had a flight from that concourse before, but I will be heading straight there from now on no matter where my flight is. First of all…

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Seating areas with iPads at every spot. This is not just at some swanky restaurant but at EVERY SEAT in the concourse. Second of all…

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salad, fruit, and hot food bars a la Whole Foods. I was initially sort of skeptical (at an airport?), but a cursory look at the food led me to believe it was of a respectable quality. Third of all (the best for last)…

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FROYOAGOGO. Yes, a frozen yogurt bar in the middle of the MSP airport Concourse G. I went a little crazy, as I’m sure all of you are doing right now. Bottom line: I am stoked. Do other airports have this incredible-ness?

Once I got to Burlington, it was nearly 2:00 and I was hungry. The hot/cold bars at the airport had been on my mind all day, so Noah and I decided to go the City Market – Onion River Coop.

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Neither of us had been there before, and we both were very impressed. In addition to a wide selection of groceries and produce, there was a fabulous cold bar:

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hot bar:

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and deli:

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I got a combo of foods from the cold bar:

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In the mix: asian slaw, broccoli slaw, curry seitan, maple cabbage/carrots, and fruit salad. Everything was great. I really enjoy the taste of seitan and other wheat based faux-meats, but they always make me feel really full afterwards – almost like they get denser in my stomach. Does this happen to anyone else?

Noah got a sandwich from the sandwich bar (which offered various cold, grilled, and do-it-yourself options):

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Yum. yum. After lunch, we did the quick 45 minute drive from Burlington to Montpelier. As luck would have it, we needed to do some grocery shopping for the house, so we ended up visiting the Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier as well!

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Another great coop! When we walked in the door, we were immediately met with a colorful display of organic fruit and vegetables:

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There’s also a great bread section with loaves, rolls, bagels, etc. from local bakers:

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Their hot and cold bars are smaller than the ones at the City Market Co-op in Burlington, but there was still enough to make me want to get lunch here sometime. They also offer hot and cold sandwiches as well as wraps and burritos. Starting my trip with these two beautiful co-ops got even more excited for my week in Vermont and enjoying all the great food and fun it has to offer!

Curried Onions and Eggs

I have been really into eggs lately. Specifically, soft-boiled eggs. They are a great protein source for lunch or dinner, they are SUPER easy to make, and they are incredibly versatile. Since eggs last a long time in the fridge, they are especially convenient for keeping around to use when there’s not a lot of other food in the house. Last week, I was preparing to leave town for 8 days (more on that to come), so I didn’t want to buy any meat or other protein that would go bad if I didn’t finish it. So, eggs were the obvious choice. 🙂 Here is how to make the perfect soft boiled egg:

Bring water in a saucepan to boil. You will need enough water to fully cover whatever number of eggs you want to cook:

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Once water is boiling, add in the eggs. You will want to use a spoon to place the eggs into the water. If you just drop them, there is a chance they will crack by hitting the bottom of the pot:

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Cover the eggs and simmer for 5 minutes (timing is important, so set a timer). Once the eggs are soft-cooked, drain the hot water from the pot immediately and refill with cold water. Let the eggs sit in the cold water for a few minutes:

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Once the eggs are cool, peel and eat or store in the fridge. These particular soft-boiled eggs were made to be served with…brown rice, curried onions, and spinach!

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The curried onions were also an “I don’t have a lot of food in the house and don’t want to buy more” concoction, and they turned out great. All you need is one yellow onion, a little butter, and some curry powder. Heat the butter (I used a couple teaspoons) in a skillet:

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Once the butter is melted, add in a few shakes of curry powder, adjusted to your spice preference:

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Add in the chopped onion:

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Cook until translucent and beginning to brown, stirring frequently (it took about 10 minutes for me):

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Put everything together…

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Delish! Also, as a side note, the brown rice I used here was the quick cook kind. But, instead of using regular water to cook the rice, I used coconut water with a tiny bit of coconut cream. This gave a really nice flavor and a touch of creaminess that I enjoyed. I would recommend it as a pairing with curry and other similarly spiced foods.

 

Quinoa and Lentil Soup Mix

Last week, I used two items from the March Bestowed package. The first was the quinoa and lentil soup mix.

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Making the soup was incredibly easy. All you do is combine the package contents with 2 cups of water in a sauce pan and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring constantly:

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When it’s finished, the soup will be pretty thick – there wasn’t a ton of ‘broth.’ I served over spinach and added some black beans and almonds:

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As you can see, it’s not very soup-like, but I thought it was delicious and very flavorful. It would definitely be a good pantry item to have on hand for a quick, nutritious meal.

The second March Bestowed item I used was the happy squeeze smoothie.

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Instead of drinking it straight, I combined it with yogurt and cereal for breakfast.

Step 1: greek yogurt (I use plain fage)

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Step 2: add fiber one, almonds, and smoothie

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I refrigerated the mixture overnight and then ate it in the morning, topped with some granola and almond milk:

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The smoothie added a nice fruity taste to the breakfast, but I don’t think I would have liked drinking it straight – that’s more of a personal preference than due to the taste though.

As always, I enjoyed trying all of the Bestowed products!

In other news…Noah and I also tried Tilia last week.

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We’ve been wanting to try Tilia for a while but have been intimidated to go on a weekend since there always seem to be a really long line (we also took this as an indication that the food would be good). We decided to go on Monday night, and that strategy worked since we didn’t wait for a table at all. Unfortunately, the restaurant was extremely dark and I felt bad using my flash, so I don’t have any pictures….but I will tell you about the food!

To start, I had a spinach salad that came with mushrooms, soft-boiled egg, and parmesan. Noah had flat bread that was served with olive oil and dukka (a mix of middle-eastern spices) to dip in.

For our entrees, I ordered a turkey burger and Noah had Grilled Bison New York Strip. I didn’t try the bison, but Noah said it tasted great. As to the burger – GREAT! The meat was really juicy, and the grilled onions on top added a great flavor. I would have liked some regular lettuce and tomato on there too, but that might have been a little too basic for this sort of establishment. 🙂

We splurged for dessert, and Noah got a butterscotch brûlée while I ordered chocolate cake that came with peanut butter and banana sauce.

Overall, everything was great. The restaurant was also very affordable for the quality of food. It’s a nice enough place though that it seems like you’re supposed to order more than one dish per person, so that brings the bill up fast. That said, I think this is better for a longer, more formal meal rather than a quick bite out. I will keep it in mind for out-of-town guests and celebrations. Bonus: they use many local ingredients!

We love to shop (?)

I don’t think of myself as a big shopper. Nonetheless, I sometimes get a hankering to go to stores. This past weekend, Noah and I had the shopping itch, so we visited Nadeau and Ridgedale Shopping Center.

Nadeau is a furniture store at 28th and Hennepin. I’ve driven by it many times, and always thought, “their windows are full.”

We decided to look inside and see what it was all about. Turns out the inside gave me the same impression as the outside:

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Very full.

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Very, very full. The furniture was stacked on top of each other with narrow rows for customers to walk through. Most of the stuff seemed to be of a more vintage style, and I found this gem of an armchair:

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oh yeahhh. I also like this blue cabinet:

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I guess I would characterize their selection as ‘funky, faded furniture with a twist.’ All of the furniture in the store is handmade – not mass produced – which contributes to the slightly rough-around-the-edges feel. If I were looking to furnish a house, I would consider going back here.

After Nadeau, the shopping itch was not satisfactorily scratched, so Noah and I went to Ridgedale. This excursion had a real purpose though since both of us were looking for shoes. I wanted some walking shoes and some dress shoes that would be comfortable and accommodate my orthodics. Unfortunately, I was only successful at finding the walking shoes.

When we first got to Ridgedale, priority #1 was food since we were both hungry. I got a fruit and yogurt parfait (chunky strawberry topper version) from Jamba Juice. It had strawberries, bananas, yogurt, peanut butter, and granola blended together and then topped with more granola and banana.

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Noah got a chicken philly sandwich and fries from Charley’s Grilled Subs.

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I didn’t try any, but Noah said it was yummy. After eating, we were ready to look for shoes!

Appropriately, I got my walking shoes at the The Walking Company (where, by the way, I received great service and got a lot of useful information). I got a pair of Dansko Elise in grey.

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Noah was looking for a mid-level shoe, meaning something that falls between a sneaker and a dress shoe. He found what he was looking for at Clarks.

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The shoes are Clarks Saranac in tan leather. After trying a few different varieties, these ones were the perfect fit.

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While I was waiting, I found this gadget:

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That’s a shoe horn with a long handle. For some reason I thought it was hilarious – maybe the concept that people would want a tool to avoid bending down to put their shoes on? Or maybe I just liked it since I originally thought it was a backscratcher.

Bestowed: March

YES.

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It’s time for my March bestowed package. When this beautiful orange box arrives in the mail, it is always one of the best days of the month.

Bestowed is a monthly delivery program of healthy living products – mainly food with some beauty and fitness thrown in. This month’s package was full of lovely surprises.

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Goodies include…

Oloves Hot Chili Mama Olives – I am not an olive fan. In fact, I do not eat olives at all, so this item was fairly disappointing. They are green olives spiced with hot habanero and lemon. I you’re into it, could be a good snack. As for me, I’m looking to give them away. Anyone like olives?
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Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars – These I am very excited about. I like figs as a healthy satisfaction for a sweet craving, and I plan to have these for either breakfast or a snack in the near future.
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Happy Family-Happy Squeeze Smoothie – This is the sort of item I would never buy on my own at the store. I’m happy to try it when I get it in the mail though! The flavor I received was pomegranate, blueberry, and pear. These smoothies are made from all organic ingredients and have 6 grams of protein.
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iTrain $25 gift card – This gift card can be used to buy workouts, downloaded right to your iPod or other MP3 player. I haven’t checked out iTrain at all yet, so I don’t know what sort of workouts they offer or how useful it will be – but I will update you once I get some!
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Nature’s Earthly Choice – Easy Quinoa Lentil Soup Mix – Quinoa + lentils = you can’t go wrong. Even though I love cooking, the appeal of instant foods is difficult to resist sometimes. I’m excited about this product since it will provide a quick meal option without all the sodium and fat that’s usually in prepared foods.
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Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts – Although not as big as chia or flax, hemp is definitely getting more attention in the health-food world these days. I’ve never tried it before, but I’m excited to taste it with yogurt or soup. The package also suggests sprinkling it on salads.
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Artisana Coconut Butter – I saved the best for last. I was absolutely thrilled to see this inside the package. I have been wanting to try coconut butter for a long time, but I haven’t had any luck finding it at my regular grocery stores. Plus, I don’t know if I would really want to eat it enough to warrant buying a whole jar. This individual serving package will be perfect for giving me a sample. Who knows, maybe it will a new coconut butter addiction. 🙂
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Look at all of my beautiful things…

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If you haven’t seen my previous bestowed package, make sure to check them out:January 2013
February 2013

Breakfast for Dinner

Sometimes – not often – but sometimes, I want eggs and pancakes for dinner. One of those ‘sometimes’ was this week. Several months ago, I saw a recipe for an egg dish that used uncooked quinoa. The concept of the quinoa cooking with the eggs intrigued me. Plus, it seemed convenient given I had only a very small portion of quinoa leftover in a bag (I thought it was too small an amount to cook on its own). Unfortunately, where I saw this recipe will forever remain unknown and lost in cyberspace. After doing some searching around, I found this recipe – definitely not the original one I remembered, but it seemed to have most of the necessary ingredients. My version included the following:

Ingredients
– approx. 1/3 cup mix of white and black quinoa (not measured, just what was left in the bags)
– 8 eggs
– 1.25 cups almond milk
– 1 tbsp minced garlic
– 1 chopped onion
– 1 tsp dried thyme
– a few shakes salt and pepper
– 2+ cups spinach

Method
Whisk together eggs, milk, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add the onions and spinach. Stir to combine. Coat an 8×8 dish with non-stick spray and pour mixture in:

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I cooked for about 75 minutes at 350°, checking every 5 minutes or so after 1 hour.

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All done! Next up…pancakes! I heard about this pancake recipe on Meals and Miles, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to try a variation for myself. It is honest-to-goodness the easiest pancake recipe you will ever find. All you need is 3/4 cup greek yogurt (I used plain, nonfat fage):

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mixed with 1/4 cup egg beaters (could use one real egg):

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Mix 1/2 cup flour and 1 tsp baking soda separately:

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Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix:

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It will seem very wet and doughy – don’t worry, this will contribute to the FLUFFY DELICIOUSNESS of your pancakes. 🙂

Drop them on the pan and cook:

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This is by far the most difficult part of pancake making for me. Who has the patience to wait while each side cooks through? I always flip too soon.

Once they’re done, serve with eggs…maybe even a delicious quinoa egg bake (see above!):

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Oh yeah, and don’t forget the secret ingredient….

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Check out this interior:

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yumyumyum. Make them for your next meal…ready – go!