No you’re not hardcore…

No you’re not hardcore, unless you live hardcore…so goes the classic Jack Black refrain from School of Rock.

I am not what you might call a risk-taker, but I’ve found my own way to live on the edge this summer with winter biking.

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Yes, I clearly look very tough. Last summer, I made a resolution to start using my bike as a primary means of transportation. Reasons being…

  • environmental
  • recreational
  • fun way to get exercise

When the seasons changed, as they do in Minnesota, I stopped because it was too cold rainy snowy take your pick of excuses. I noticed that I was more irritable at work and whenever driving in my car in the morning, I felt sad and a little guilty that I wasn’t biking. So, I decided to stop making excuses and do what I needed to do to be a winter biker!

Here’s what it took:

Clothes: Lack of appropriate clothing for winter biking was one of the main excuses I used to avoid it. I did not own any rain gear, nor did I own warm/waterproof boots that would be good for biking in. I decided to invest in the appropriate clothing. I bought a raincoat, rain pants, and boots. Total cost: ~$130

Tires: Riding on the snow and ice scares me. I am already a fairly cautious bike rider, and the extra instability of the snow and ice left me feeling really anxious and nervous about falling. Luckily, I live in the greatest biking city in the United States (I ❤ you, Minneapolis), so bike trails are consistently plowed and maintained throughout the winter. Still, conditions could be better. I decided to invest in some studded bike tires designed to travel well over ice and help with snow. Total cost: ~$170

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Courage: Lastly – and most importantly – I just had to do it! Even after getting the appropriate clothes and buying new tires, I was still really nervous. The first couple times, I had to convince myself I needed to actually go out and ride my bike (which wasn’t too hard since I’d already spent the money!). Each time I get to work in one piece though, I build a little more confidence and feel more ready for the next time.

Moral of the story, I may not be the biggest daredevil, but I am taking on the winter with my bike and getting a little braver every day. 🙂

In other news, I’ve continued to do some top-notch cooking from the Practical Paleo cookbook. As I shared last week, I made pumpkin pancakes which were so delicious that I wanted to try a few more recipes from the book.

At the beginning of the week, I made swirly crustless quiche. 

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The recipe was SUPER simple. All you do is combine everything in a bowl and then bake it into a delicious egg bake:

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It made a great lunch and dinner during the week:

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Trying my hand at a more ambition project, I also gave stuffed cabbage a whirl:

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This recipe was a lot more time consuming and involved steaming the cabbage, stuffing them with meat/veggie mixture, covering it with tomato/cranberry sauce (cranberry sauce also had to be made), and then cooking in the oven:

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This was a fun project, so I didn’t mind the extra time required by the recipe. The end result was very good, but I got a little sick of it by the time I had it for the fifth (or sixth!) meal. I need to remember to always downsize recipes a lot.

stuffed cabbage served with roasted sweet potatoes

stuffed cabbage served with roasted sweet potatoes

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Bestowed: May

It’s amazing. The excitement never seems to lessen any time I see this beauty in the mail:

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It’s Bestowed time of the month again!

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Bestowed is a monthly delivery program of healthy living products – mainly food with some beauty and fitness thrown in. Each month’s items are unique and provide a fun way to try new products without buying them myself (or having to buy a large size).

Inside May’s package were….

Simply Sprouted Sweet Chili Tortilla Chips – These chips are gluten free and will be good for a low sodium/low saturated fat snack when I want some crisp!

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California Olive Ranch Everyday EVOO – This item seemed especially appropriate since I just listened to a Balanced Bites podcast about olive oil. I learned that a lot of olive oils have the nutritional content severely diminished because the olives are pressed a long time after they are removed from the tree. Additionally, olive oil needs to be stored in a dark cool place to maintain its nutritional superkick, and the large clear bottles sitting on the top shelf near the light at the supermarket achieve the opposite effect. The #1 lesson: don’t buy olive oil in clear bottles! This olive oil from California Olive Ranch goes from branch to bottle in just a few hours and is stored in protective green bottles.

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Navitas Coconut Water Powder – Coconut water is all the craze these days – or so I hear. I actually haven’t tried straight coconut water, but I do drink coconut milk on a regular basis. I haven’t looked into it too much, but I think the idea is coconut water provides several natural minerals and vitamins. My thought is that is also provides calories though, so it’s not necessarily the greatest replacement for plain water all of the time. This is a coconut water powder that you can mix into 8oz of water for an on-the-go hydration fix.

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TeeChia Seeds Cereal – This is probably the item I am most excited about in this month’s package. It’s a cereal made from super seeds! It’s made particularly to be quick and easy, and even though it has the consistency of a hot cereal (like oat bran), you only need to add water (hot or cold) and let it sit for about a minute. No cooking or anything required!

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Dark Chocolate Sun Cups – Dark chocolate + sunflower seed butter = enough said.

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Larabar Uber – I’ve actually had several of these newish larabar varieties already. The uber Larabars are made with more nuts and protein than the original larabar varieties. I like them a lot as a quick and tasty snack, so I was happy to get another on in the package!

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Good Eating Salads by Parragon Books – The final item was something I’ve never gotten in a Bestowed package before: a cookbook! The cookbook offers over 140 different salad ideas, full color photos, and step-by-step instructions for everything from grilled meat to dressings. I flipped through and some of the salads looked really yummy, but I don’t foresee myself using this book too much since I have a tried and true salad recipe that never lets me down: throw a mix of whatever veggies I have on top of some lettuce. Done.

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That sums up the May Bestowed package. I’ll keep you updated on my thoughts as I sample all of these new products!

Make sure to check out my other Bestowed posts:
April
March
February
January

Kitchen Window

Calhoun Square in Uptown is a great shopping plaza that has a variety of restaurants, shops, and services. Some highlights include: Chiang Mai Thai, Jimmy John’s, Dogwood Coffee, H&M, and my gym – LA Fitness. One of Calhoun Square’s greatest attractions is Kitchen Window.

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Inside Kitchen Window is a seemingly never ending expanse of kitchen gadgets, tools, accessories, and knick-knacks. With everything from the practical to the completely unnecessary, this is a great place to look if you want to build up – or jazz up – your kitchen. I’ve only purchased a few things here (price usually leads me to get the budget version of items at Ikea), but if you are a real adult someone with more money to spend on kitchen gear, then I doubt you could find a better stocked store than this.

A peek inside…There are cute aprons, towels, and place mats:

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A wide range of appliances:

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Oils and spices:

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Specialty baking goods:

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The biggest pepper grinder you could ever need:

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And even a small cookbook section:

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Lastly, one of Kitchen Window’s greatest prides….
THE BIG GREEN EGG:

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The Big Green Egg is a special grill that’s supposed to replicate cooking meat in clay ovens and provides the user with “the ultimate cooking experience.” Kitchen Window sells a lot of Big Green Eggs and hosts several demonstrations and workshops of how to maximize their benefits.

This weekend, I was lucky enough to go by the store while they were having a big sale:

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All of the sale items were 50% off or more. I was tempted by many items, but I settled on a small ice cream maker and an egg poacher:

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The ice cream maker was a little bit of an impulse buy, so I’ll just have to commit myself to putting it to good use. 🙂