Feb 052014
 

We LOVE our dog walker! She’s so awesome and came highly recommended from a friend who also used her when they were in Portland. Amy is the owner of FurEver Family Pet Sitting. Bella loves her! We are so happy to have found someone so great to come and walk Bella a few times a week while we are at work. It makes a huge difference. On days we don’t have Amy come over, I can tell a difference–Bella is a super spaz all evening after being cooped up. Bella’s behavior has also improved because Amy continues the training we are doing with her (i.e. not pulling on the leash on walks, not jumping on guests, etc). Another bonus: I get a mid-day text report of Bella and sometimes a cute picture. :) It brightens up my work day.

Amy posted this comment on another post I wrote and it was a great blog idea!

I’m struggling right now with finding things that I can eat in the car on the go. I’m ok with ‘ruts’ and eating the same thing day in and day out, but I just struggle with ideas that are healthy and I can keep in my car for up to 8-12 hours some days. I know I just need to PLAN and fix ahead so I can grab and go…but looking for new ideas!

While Amy’s situation is probably unique compared to a lot of my reader’s daily work lives, I think everyone can relate with running out of ideas for easy snack and on-the-go meal ideas.

Portable Healthy Snacking

If you work in a job where you spend a lot of time in the car, pop a small cooler in your trunk with some ice packs. That will open up a bigger list of options if you can keep the food cool. Here are some ideas for on-the-go snacks that won’t bust the calorie bank:

Hard-boiled eggs – Just one hard-boiled egg is so filling for me

Amazing Meal Shake - Add some protein powder to it to have some staying power

CHOCOMILK

Dried apricots – This is often a pre-workout snack for me because just a few dried apricots do the trick

Trail mix -This one is iffy because the calories can really add up!

String Cheese and crackers

Tuna salad with craisins and chopped walnuts – Top a green salad with this and you’ve got a great lunch

Pickles and beef jerky – No, I’m not pregnant, I’ve just been craving pickles lately! ;)

Apple slices with peanut butter

Apple Oatmeal Muffins  (this recipe looks so GOOD!)

Yogurt Fruit Dip

Dry-roasted and seasoned edamame – I’ve seen this at Trader Joe’s

Cottage cheese with fruit on the side – I love cottage cheese as a snack because it fills me up quickly

Single-serving chocolate Almond Milk – I love this stuff!

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V-8 juice (with or without the vodka :D )

Hummus with raw veggies and pita chips

A box of raisins with some peanuts

Chipotle Lime Chickpeas

5 Minute No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars (I’m totally going to make these!)

Almond Butter Stuffed Dates (this could be a really nice healthy dessert idea)

Practice What I Preach

I decided to give something a try I’ve vowed to do for a long time now–ever since I saw it on Pinterest. The egg “muffin” for breakfast. I’ve seen dozens of variations and you can really do whatever you want with it and make it your own. It’s something that you can make on a Sunday afternoon and have for the work week for a quick breakfast or a snack.

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I used this recipe as a jumping off point. I made some alterations for my own personal preferences and also combined a neat idea I saw in another similar recipe–using some frozen hashbrowns as the base of the muffin.

Egg Muffins

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6 muffins

Serving Size: 1 muffin

Calories per serving: 95 calories

From: http://thesweetspotblog.com/breakfast-to-go-egg-muffins/

Ingredients

  • 4 whole, large eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets, cooked and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Steam or boil broccoli to desired tenderness and chop.
  2. Whisk together eggs, egg whites and milk. Season egg mixture with salt and pepper and stir in cheddar cheese.
  3. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray. Layer about a tablespoon of chopped broccoli into each muffin cup.
  4. Pour in egg mixture to about 3/4 full and top with remaining grated cheese. Bake until set in center about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Note: We also love them with baby spinach and roasted mushrooms. Use whatever cheese and veggies you enjoy to customize these for your taste buds.
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With the alterations I made, my muffins came out at 145 calories each. I was okay with that number. My muffin had green onion, yellow and orange diced peppers, some shredded sharp cheddar cheese and sliced grape tomatoes. I baked the egg muffins for around 30 minutes and tested them with a toothpick until I decided they were cooked through.

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How pretty do those look? Don’t mind the lone muffin that apparently got all the egg whites in one section. :P Despite that, they were tasty! I already have some ideas on different recipes–maybe artichoke hearts, tomatoes and feta cheese….yum!

I also made some chicken salad for lunches at work. I made some alterations and omitted the apple to reduce the calorie count slightly. I planned on topping some spinach and green leaf lettuce with the chicken salad mixture. I used 5 tablespoons mayo instead of 6, omitted the apple and the cooked chicken breasts came to 2.5 cups instead of 3 so that made the calories about 260 a serving.

Chicken Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 271

From: http://southernfood.about.com/od/chickensalads/r/r81002g.htm

Ingredients

  • 3 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup diced apple
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon curry powder, or to taste, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine the chicken, cranberries, celery, onion, apple, and walnuts, if using.
  2. In a cup or small bowl combine 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise. the lemon juice, curry powder, if using, and salt and pepper.
  3. Stir into the chicken, adding more mayonnaise as needed and for taste.
  4. Line bread or rolls with lettuce and spread chicken salad on the bread or serve the chicken salad on lettuce-lined plates.
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I had a few nibbles of my chicken salad before I put it in tupperware for lunches. It was really tasty! I like the crunch of the celery and walnut and the sweetness of the Craisins. I enjoyed the chicken salad lunches and I’m glad I finally gave it a try. I’m going to experiment with other recipes and see if substituting Greek yogurt for the mayo might work too.

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In one afternoon I prepped my breakfast and lunch meals for the work week and it was a success! It was easy, didn’t take much time to prepare on Sunday and saved me a lot of time in the mornings before work.

What are your time-saving ideas for quickie meals?

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Nov 062013
 

I received an email from a reader with some great questions! I’d started a post on snowshoeing and never finished, so I had a great excuse to finish it. Here is Eryn’s question:

“I’m writing today, because as a fellow Portlander and lover of the great outdoors, I’m looking forward to winter and trying somethings that have previously been WAY outside of my comfort zone. Specifically show-shoeing. This might be too simple of a question for you to take the time to answer, but what does one WEAR!?! I’ve figured out my hiking uniform, but could you walk through exactly the garb and gear you typically use for such an adventure? Even a breakdown of your day pack would be helpful! Any recommendations on EASY, fun trails in the area? :)”

Such great questions. Let’s talk about the clothes first.

GEAR

What I wear when I go snowshoeing greatly depends on the temperatures. The coldest I’ve ever gone out in the snow was 11 degrees and that was slightly unpleasant. I felt it most in my feet and hands, even though I had decent gloves on.

The first layer is long underwear from REI. I wear the pants and long sleeved shirt. Over that I sometimes wear sweatpants and then my snow pants. I wear the sweat pants if it’s super cold, but most of the time it’s not needed. The snow pants are lined but not too thickly.

I wear a thick, light-weight sweater over my long underwear shirt and depending on the temperature I wear my jacket or just a vest. I tend to get really hot when I snowshoe, even if it’s cold out. Being able to take off layers is crucial. Sometimes I will take off the sweater half-way through a trek and just wear the long underwear shirt.

snowshoe2

I have snowshoe goggles and sometimes I wear them but usually not. The situations in which I have worn the goggles were when we were snowshoeing in the rain or it was mixed with snow. It was just more comfortable to wear the goggles. The only downside is that they can fog up sometimes.

snowshoe1

I also wear gloves (sometimes thin fabric ones and sometimes the thicker, insulated ones) and my hat. Usually that’s sufficient. Michael and I both have a face gator and have worn it a few times, but it’s usually not cold enough to wear it.

SHOES 

Rent or buy snowshoes? My suggestion is to buy them. A decent pair of snowshoes runs around $150. With everything you can spend a lot of money or you can search for the cheapest pair. I wouldn’t recommend the cheapest pair simply because you get what you paid for. I’ve rented enough crappy snowshoes that buying them made sense and we spent the money to get GOOD ones. Nothing sucks more than being out in the snow and a strap on your snowshoe breaks.

I wear my hiking boots when I snowshoe. They are waterproof, comfortable and go up to my ankles. I will wear gators over the hiking boots which I LOVE. They keep the snow out of your shoes, especially if you’re walking in deep snow.

SAFETY

Preparing for a snowshoe trip is something that should be taken seriously. Even if it’s just a short day trip, you MUST be prepared for everything. That means packing supplies.

The stuff I pack are things like a mini first aid kit, water pills for purifying water, foil blankets, flashlight, compass, snacks, Advil, matches, the Hotties warmers, a knife, and of course, maps/books/guides:

I’ve shared some safety tips before. You can read them here in this post about snowshoeing. It’s important to be prepared because you never know what might happen. There have been a few times where we went out for a hike or to snowshoe and got lost or ended up on the wrong trail and we were out there for a lot longer than we planned on.

WHERE TO GO

I’ve snowshoed in a bunch of different places. Bend is my favorite but it’s a bit of a drive from Portland. If you are in the Bend/Sisters area, I definitely recommend the Virginia Meissner Snow-Park. Love this place! It’s groomed, it’s got trails for all levels of shoers and skiers. There’s also really cute shelters with fireplaces out on the trail.

The closer places are on Mount Hood. There a ton of different trails you can check out within a 90 minute drive. Here are some of my favorites:

Trillium Lake - This is my favorite place to go on Mount Hood. There’s tons of parking, it’s groomed and the trails are clearly marked and easy to follow. It’s also gorgeous! This one is good for beginners but it’s still a challenging hike if you do the full loop.

Glacier View - This is another good one because it’s usually empty. I think we’ve done this a few times and have seen only a few other people on there with us. It’s fairly easy and flat.

White River Trail- This trail is a new one for us. We went to it on New Year’s Day this year and had a great time! It’s on the other side of Mount Hood so the drive is a little longer. It’s super popular too because there’s a huge sledding area. There are a few trails and gorgeous views of Mount Hood. This one is great!

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Frog Lake - I’ve tried to do this one a few times and it’s just okay. The times I’ve gone there wasn’t really enough snow for snowshoeing. We did find a different part of the trail that had more snow and it was better.

There are so many other trails on Mount Hood that are really popular. I would like to try them someday. Unfortunately a lot of them are either backcountry (no marked trails) or super steep. With my knee issues, flat is much better. But someday.

Hope this post helped!

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