East Moscow Mountain

Armed with shakey directional skills, a so-not-an-offroad-car, and two adventurous spirits, Lauren and I set out for East Moscow Mountain. Overall, we did take a few wrong turns (thankfully in the car, not on the mountain), and I was pretty afraid my little car was going to get stuck when the road suddenly went from paved, to gravel, to gouged-up huge-rock-laden logging “road” without warning. But man, the view from the top was worth it! Sound like an analogy for life?

Our photography skills certainly do not do the landscape justice, but I still think pictures speak louder than words, so here you go:

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Chocolate Therapy

Gooey fudgey chocolately (healthy) goodness

Today, I got home from school feeling the need to bust out of  my routine. I felt the urge to either go to the mall or eat chocolate. The problem is, I am very serious about keeping on track with both my budget and nutrition.Both a shopping spree and a chocolate ice cream binge would have negative emotional consequences. What to do?

To get my mind off of chocolate and shopping, I began browsing Pinterest for some to-go recipes to take on a hike tomorrow. I stumbled across this. A healthy chocolate brownie recipe to occupy my time, satisfy my sweet tooth, and give me something to blog about (which can be thrilling in itself). I am calling the whole experience Chocolate Therapy.

Chocolate therapy is a combination of the act of crafting a healthy treat and the taste of high-quality dark chocolate.  It simply does the soul good.

Here’s my prescription for chocolate therapy: Healthy fudge brownies.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (extra dark) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Splenda
  • 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 2 tbs almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients with a hand mixer
  • Spray 5×7 glass pan with cooking spray
  • Bake at 325 for ~19 minutes
  • Enjoy your healthy, fudgey, gooey treat at about 100 calories each (makes 8 servings)

Take a Hike!

Today a small group of our Erickson clan took a hike up Kamiak Butte. The temperature was perfect, and the hike was interesting. I love the novelty of exercising outside in combination with the challenge of a rocky path to keep me focused. Round trip, it took us a little over an hour to complete.

Here are a few of the photographs that we took (we are certainly amateur photographers, but it is fun to try to capture the moment nonetheless!):

Cougville

34-35 Colorado. After 4 long hours standing in the hot sun, the Cougs lost by 1 point. Poop on a stick.

I spent the whole day taking pictures, and it almost feels silly posting them after a loss, but I’m going to anyways. Here’s why:

I like sports, but I like real life better. I don’t feel emotionally connected to a loss; when the game is over, I just want to get out of the crowded stadium, get some chow, get a little rest, and get my workout in. Maybe I developed this attitude after watching my dad’s day “ruined” by a Cougar loss for years (he doesn’t do this anymore!). Feeling down about the loss? I’ll pass.

So, in celebration of a fun day despite the loss, I want to share a few photographs.

P.S. You can check out my dad’s blog here.

Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread

I bought a like-new breadmaker for $10 at a yardsale last weekend, and I love it! If you’re interested this is the model I got. So far, I’ve made two loaves; the first loaf turned out good and the second loaf turned out great.

My ultimate bread-making goal is to recreate Dave’s Killer Bread (with all of its seedy glory) at home. My first obstacle was: how to make 100% whole wheat bread rise enough when I can’t find 100% whole wheat flour? The answer, I learned by experimenting between the first and second loaf, was more vital wheat gluten. It seemed counter-intuitive to me at first that adding more gluten to make the dough stiffer would actually help it rise more, but it’s true! The stiffness helps it maintain its “risen” form (well now it sounds like I’m talking about Jesus, not bread).

I added several types of nuts/seeds, and they were good, but I’m not quite up to Dave’s caliber of seed combination just yet, but I’m going to keep trying!

Okay, okay, without much more ado, here’s my recipe (inspired by a recipe on Pinterest, of course!):

My beautiful cousin, Ali, modeling the fluffy human-head-sized loaf of bread! 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil or cooking oil
  • 2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 8 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup seasame seed
  • 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to bread maker
  • I set it on “Whole Wheat” cycle and “medium” crust color
  • Let your bread maker do the work! 🙂

I estimate this recipe costs me about $1 per loaf, which is a huge savings compared to a loaf of Dave’s at about $4. So now that I’ve made two loaves, the $10 breadmaker has already paid for itself! The hubby even prefers fresh homemade bread over cereal in the mornings, so I might have some money-saving potential there too, without any sacrifice in flavor or health!

I had some extended family last night (first time I had accommodated 7 people in my little apartment!), and I had a fresh loaf ready when they got their (I LOVE the delay-time feature on the bread machine). Everyone seemed to enjoy the bread. I also served baked cheesy quinoa, roasted veggies, chicken, and chocolate chip pumpkin bars for dessert. I had good intentions of taking pictures of the quinoa to share, but I forgot as soon as more important things like eating crossed my mind. Next time!

No you cannot have my weight machine, A$$hole

I usually try to keep my posts more upbeat and positive, but there is something else I’d like to talk about today…how not to act!

Our gym has 2 leg press machines, about a bazillion squat racks, and an array of other leg machines. Yesterday was leg day. My cousin and I were each on a leg press machine and doing supersets of leg presses followed by calve raises, without much rest in between. One of the guys came up to me (in the middle of a set! while I was pressing nearly 400 lbs!) and demanded to know whether we were here working out together. It took me about 5 seconds to even process his question because all of my blood and oxygen were in my legs. Eventually I said “yeah, but…”

“Well then you guys can share the same machine.”

“No we can’t.”

“Yes you can, because I need this machine for my workout.” Well clearly I do, too.

My cousin politely told him that she was almost done, and then kindly wiped the machine down. I was about to not-s0-politely tell him that he can wait his turn like everyone else or use any of the other leg machines surround him. And that instead of spending all of his time building his  muscles so ridiculously big that he can’t rest even rest arms at his side or probably even reach his hand to his mouth to brush his teeth, how about he and his friend learn some common decency? Mmmkay? There’s way more to life than vanity and you, Asshole.

I finished my set and walked off. “Can you believe that girl?” they guys whispered.

My irritation may seem unwarranted, I mean its not an unreasonable request to work in between sets. But they didn’t just want to work in between sets, they wanted the machine. Even this wouldn’t have bothered me if I hadn’t have seen them repeatedly bully skinnier guys off of the weight machines and walk over to the staff cabinet and turn off the radio if they don’t like the music playing. Intimidating and bullying people to get your way is not okay! 

I have a friend who wakes up at 5am to workout when the gym is empty because of her bad experience with guys like these. I can’t say I blame her.

Luckily I didn’t stay pissed off long. I mean, I was at the gym with endorphins flooding my body, so how could I? And I channeled the extra adrenaline into lifting more powerfully, and I got a blog post out of it, so maybe just maybe the experience was a blessing in disguise? (There’s my positive outlook for you!) 🙂

So, I guess to moral of this rant it to treat people with respect in and outside of the gym.

A Pinteresting Challenge

I have developed the habit of browsing Pinterest each morning in the bath. I’m going to consider this a healthy habit (as opposed to a time-wasting habit) because it I’m guaranteed to start the day with laughter and smiles. Cuddling babies and/or kittens (or both!). Inspiring quotes. Funny pictures. And recipes. Oh the recipes!

Pinterest followers: I’m sorry for the 15 pumpkin recipes that I pinned today. Okay, no, I’m not sorry. Because I made one of the recipes tonight and it was delicious! Which brings me to my Pinteresting challenge: my goal is to make (and post!) at least one new recipe from Pinterest per week. I’d say I’m off to a pretty good start considering I made Quinoa Mac and Cheese yesterday (recipe to come) and Dark Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars today.

Want to check out what I’m pinning? Follow me!

Back to the pumpkin bars… I found the recipe here. But because I hardly ever follow a recipe without substitutions, I will share my version below. The only added sugar it has is from the brown sugar Splenda blend and the dark chocolate chips, because added sugar is basically against my religion (ha!). And oh yeah, I tripled the original recipe because it only called for 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree and even the smallest can has 1.5 cups. You could always make a smaller batch and store the rest of the pumpkin puree, but I thought I’d just use it up and share the bars while tailgating for Cougar Football! You’re welcome Dad, Uncle Jim, Uncle Pat, Uncle Dick, Uncle Bill, Auntie Jolene, Auntie Jenni, Cousin Lauren, Cousin Ali, and Cousin Luke, and any other Erickson tailgaters because these babies turned out good! 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups pumpkin puree (one 16 oz can)
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 tbs canola oil
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp baking cocoa
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup Splenda brown sugar blend
  • 1 cup Splenda
  • 1 bag Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer.
  • Grease large baking pan, and add ~1/3 batter across bottom of pan (should be a thin layer)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 min, until a fork comes out clean

There’s a spider on the window!

My awkward gym moment of-the-day. Picture this:

I am 18 minutes into my 20 minute set of intervals on the Stairmaster. I am focused intently on my feet as I try to complete the last fast interval without touching the railing for balance. My legs burn. I have sweat dripping down my face. Then all of a sudden out of the corner of my eye I see the guy on the machine next to me start waving his arms. I ignore him, only 30 more seconds. He doesn’t stop. He starts to say something, I have to take out my earbud to hear him. I also lose my balance and have to grab the railing. Great.

“What?” I ask.

“Do you see that bug?” He asks. No I don’t see the bug, I took off my glasses because they were getting covered in sweat. And oh by the way, I’m a little busy here.

“Where?”

“There’s a bug” he points, “right there.” I squint my eyes and see this little bug on the window.

“Okay.” So far this guy and this bug have managed to interrupt my last interval of my awesome workout. Awesome.

“That bug must be getting a really good workout holding onto the window like that. I mean, it must be getting really tired.”

Seriously, dude? Don’t you realize that because of you and that bug that I almost fell off this machine only to be splattered like a bug? And he’s still looking at me like he expects some sort of deep response. I got nothing.

“Uh, yeah.. I guess so”

“I mean really, look at that bug! Holding onto the window like that. It must be getting such a good workout with those tiny legs holding on like that.”

Oh my gosh, this guy really won’t stop. Thankfully, the Stairmaster reads 20 minutes and it slows to a stop. “Yup…” I smile politely and wipe my machine down. He watches me as I walk over to an elliptical to finish my workout. He keeps looking over. Either he thinks I’m just a loser who didn’t get how awesome that bug was. Or he was hitting on me. Either way, I couldn’t help laughing as I thought about it on the way home.