Pike Place: Seattle Market Series, Part One



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Pike Place Market is one of the more famous landmarks in Seattle.  The iconic “Public Market Place” sign and clock mark the entrance off of Pike Street, it’s namesake.  A popular tourist destination, the market is also one of the best places for locals to go and find that perfect filet of fish or ‘rare’ italian ingredient. (How truly rare are things in this globalized world?)

Pike Place Public Market is the first place I take any out-of-towners.  With beautiful views of Elliot Bay, handfuls of places to grab unique and delicious street food, and Victor Steinbruek Park to sit and take it all in…it easily wows.

The tour I give is the same market habit I personally have. It begins with traveling by bus to Westlake station with a purse full of reusable grocery bags, a reusable (always stay green in the Emerald city!) water bottle, and an appetite.  We walk down 4th Ave and make a right onto Pike Street.  From there it’s just three blocks to the iconic entrance I mentioned earlier, and foodie overload.

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The best way to see and enjoy the market? Walk walk walk! Walk towards the main entrance, but turn right before you cross the street.  Admire all of the fruit and vegetables laid out with such precision.  Take advantage of the vendors offering you a slice of the best Honey Crisp apples in the market; a slice of an “Oh-my-god” peach; a small cup of Market Creamery yogurt; a smidge of Beecher’s Handmade cheese; and a sample of coffee.  Buy and slurp a raw oyster shooter.

Then plan your picnic.  I insist on buying a few pieces of seasonable local fruit.  Get a small hunk of your favorite cheese from Beecher’s (mine are the flagship or fresh curds) or maybe go all in and get a cup of their “World’s Best” Mac n’ Cheese.  Pick out some vegetables if you like them raw.  Buy a savory piroshky from Piroshky Piroshky (my favorite is the smoked salmon pate).  Walk along Pike Place towards Pine Street until you get to Victor Steinbrueck Park.  Grab a bench or sit in the grass, and enjoy your feast while overlooking the beautiful piers jutting out into the sound.  On a sunny day you can see Bainbridge Island across the way and the Olympic Mountains to the North.

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Is it raining?  You should still do the picnic. But if you’re one of those rare people actually made of sugar, you could avoid melting by eating as you peruse the stalls. Grab a piroshky and eat it along the way.  Then a piece of fruit.  Perhaps have a drink at Lowell’s at a window booth in the bar – it’s the best view of the sound from indoors. Don’t worry about overeating, there’s a lot of walking to be done. Follow the whimsical signs to the infamous gum wall (second germiest place in the world, according to Trip Advisor), grab a beer at the Alibi Room to maybe kill some of those germs.

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Then take the stairs down down down to the waterfront and walk up and down the piers. Check out the Seattle Great Wheel, and maybe take a ride. I’ll admit I’ve been in the wheel and not the needle, but it was pretty great, especially on a clear day.

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Views from the Great Wheel

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Head back up the stairs and walk through the market one more time. Pick up any treats that are MUST HAVES and groceries for a special dinner later. Don’t resist buying an amazing $5 bouquet from the flower section. They’re incredible.

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Finally, walk down cobblestoned Pike Place and make a right up Pine Street. Stop in at Cupcake Royale and ask for a cone with two scoops:  Stumptown Coffee & Burnt Caramel Sea Salt. If they have some, get a bacon crack sample. Don’t like coffee or caramel? Not to worry (or maybe worry a little because you straight loco) honey sinckerdoodle, fresh strawberry, all the flavors are delicious. Best ice cream in Seattle? Probably not, but it’s way better than any B&J’s, Haagen Dazs nonsense. It’s also the perfect ending to your afternoon (morning? evening?) at the market.

I’m on the very important mission of discovering the best ice cream. I have a long list, including goat milk gelato. This could get rough, so I expect your full support.

IMG_2800The dinner we made with our market finds (00 flour, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese = homemade east coast style ‘za!)

Ciao ciao,

JT

 

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Bites of Energy so your afternoon doesn’t bite

Aside


I like looking at my stats.  They make me feel very global.  I have views from five, that’s right, FIVE continents.  And I only know people living in three!  What’s up, Asia & Europe, how you doin’?  Thanks for making me feel special.  Africa, OZ, and North America, you make me feel pretty special too, though damn if I don’t know who you are usually.  You never know, I could have a follower in Morocco that isn’t my best friend.

Anyway, I’ve been working on some healthy recipes for post-workout snacks/recovery meals.  It was hard, but I just had to sample them all.  Quality control, you know?  Michael used his rock powers for good and had a little 5k race for charity and asked me to supply some goods.  So I diligently (AKA the night before) worked on getting something together for people to eat after their run.  Now Michael requested these bacon jalapeno muffins I made for us when we hiked the AT.  So I made them, with the adjustment to Juli’s recipe being I used jalapeno instead of chives, because I LIKE THE SPIIIIIICE.  So do other normal people.  Juli also makes a shrimp/jalapeno version for anyone that likes shrimp.  Alas, I do not.

But after running 3.1 miles on a hot humid day – I personally do not want to eat muffins or baked goods.  So I sliced up some fresh watermelon and pineapple.  Refreshing AND thirst quenching.

In addition, I’ve been obsessing over small bites of high-protein, low-sugar food.  I work 6-8 hours twice a week over 400 degree griddles, and when I get five to ten (usually three) minutes of time to grab some “lunch” I want instant food belly gratification.  I want tasty, but I need efficient.  In the past I have relied HEAVILY on Clif bars.  They are delicious but have a lot of sugar.  A chocolate chip peanut crunch Clif bar has A LOT of ingredients listed on the back, not to mention 21g sugar.  Woah.  I’m trying to get through my day, not climb a mountain.  But I like the idea (and many of the natural ingredients) so I made my own version.  Now I’ve looked at a lot of “Clif” bar recipes, but what it basically comes down to is throwing your favorite things in a food processor, processing it until it forms a nice crumbly consistency, yet sticks when you roll it into a ball, and then trying not to eat it right out of the bowl.  Nom.

The two I came up with?  (Also Cynthia as she assists me at 9pm on a weeknight while I crazily make batches of food)…

Chocolate Coffee and Almond Cranilla.  Oh that coffee gives a nice zing when 2pm hits and you haven’t eaten AND you’re exhausted AND have a headache.

Chocolate Coffee Bites 

1 c. dried figs (remove & discard stems)

1/2 c. dates

1/4 c. almond butter

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1/4 c. almonds

1 tbsp. espresso powder

1/4 c. vegan chocolate chips (optional)

1/4 c. ground coffee (optional, for outside)

Process figs and dates until in tiny pieces and forms a ‘ball’ of ‘dough’.  Add almond butter and process until blended consistency.  Go ahead and throw in your cocoa, espresso, chocolate chips, and almonds.  Process until mixed and almond chunks are desired size.   Pick up a handful of the dough and roll into ball.  Repeat with rest of dough.  Roll finished bites in coffee grounds (optional).  Freeze for ten minutes then pack away in an airtight tupperware and store in fridge.

I went ahead and threw in a few tablespoons of hemp seed – you can add whatever seeds/nut butters you prefer, substitute sunbutter or peanut butter instead if you like.

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Almond Cranilla Bites

1 c. dried figs (remove & discard stems)

1/2 c. dates

1/4 c. almond butter

1/2 c. craisins

1/4 c. almonds

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 c. flax seed meal (optional)

Process figs and dates until in tiny pieces and forms a ‘ball’ of ‘dough’.  Add almond butter and process until blended consistency.  Go ahead and throw in your vanilla, craisins, cinnamon, and almonds.  Process until mixed and almond chunks are desired size.   Pick up a handful of the dough and roll into ball.  Repeat with rest of dough.  Roll finished bites in ground flax seed (optional).  Freeze for ten minutes then pack away in an airtight tupperware and store in fridge.

You can add honey if you want them to be a little sweeter – or more cinnamon/vanilla if you like either a lot.  If the dough does not stick to form in balls, add just a little walnut oil, or nut oil, and process until it starts to form a ball.

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So that’s it.  Really simple and there are a million and one other recipes out there for these types of things.  I just had to go ahead and put my two cents in.

Ciao ciao,

JT

A Sugarless, Breadless, Carb-less, yet fruitful 3 Weeks


As a self-proclaimed foodie, I have a difficult time balancing my desire for insanely healthy (and borderline bitter-tasting) food and utter indulgence.  I want every meal to be special and enjoyable.  Lately I’ve been trying to find a balance between eating to help my body be its most efficient and yet not being a obsessively picky eater.  With Easter, birthday celebrations, and visits with friends I don’t get to see that often, it has taken a lot of self-control to allow myself indulgence, but to also recognize empty food.  I told a co-worker recently that eating pretzels for a snack is like buying a cheap purse.  It’s not going to last even half as long as something of better quality, so you’re kind of wasting that money.  My body needs food that lasts, that isn’t cheap.

A few weeks ago, I decided to give up sugar and carbohydrates for twenty-one days.  After telling people that I was giving up sugar and carbs, a lot of them responded with ‘I could never do that, I live on bread’.  Or, ‘Why?  Are you trying to lose weight?’  And most generally, ‘Why?’

Why?  Why not?  1. I like science.  2. I like my body.  I like it even more when it’s efficient and not running on caffeine and daydreams of twelve hours of sleep at night.  I’ve started to put a lot of time into Crossfit which requires a lot of energy.  Especially when you go after a full day of work.   3. I’m not trying to lose weight.  I’m trying to become stronger, which actually requires gaining weight while you convert fat to dense muscle.  4. You don’t live on bread, you love bread.  You’ll get over it.  I love bread.  It makes me feel awful, but I still love it.

I utilized the 21 Day Sugar Detox program to aid me in my journey, but once I looked into it, this was all just stuff I already knew, yet refused to heed.  The recipes included are worth it though.  As requested, this is just a brief idea of what I ate over those 21 days.

Breakfast

EGGS.  Eggs.  Eggs.  Hard-boil them.  Scramble them.  Fry them.  Make egg ‘muffins’.  Make quiche without a crust.  Get creative.

FULL-FAT DAIRY.  Plain 4% Greek yogurt with chopped nuts, almond butter, hemp seed, flax meal, chopped green bananas, etc.  4% cottage cheese with cinnamon, sliced almonds, unsweetened coconut flakes and pumpkin puree.

AVOCADO.  Mmmm, my favorite, blended with some spinach, plain unsweetened almond milk, a green banana, and some unsweetened cocoa baking powder.

LEFTOVERS.  Leftovers are the BEST breakfast.  One morning I had leftover salad with chicken breast.

Lunch

SALAD.  Everything but the kitchen sink.  Every single veggie I had available, on a spinach and arugula base, with toasted walnuts, chopped olives, sometimes avocado, sometimes an egg.  Baked kale provided crunch.

LEFTOVERS.  Meat usually.  A piece of salmon from the night before.  Tuna salad made with hummus instead of mayo.  Sliced chicken breast over greens.  Piles of whatever veggies I had leftover.

FULL-FAT DAIRY.  The same thing I made for breakfast some days, I ate for lunch or dinner others.  Yogurt with nuts and cinnamon.

Snacks

ALMOND BUTTER.  1 tbsp. for dipping with carrots, celery, fennel.

MIXED NUTS.  No peanuts, but a serving size of almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, etc.

DEVIL’S EYEBALLS.  Like a deviled egg, but you fill the hollow yolk spot with hummus and top it with an olive.

MUFFINS. Made with coconut flour, coconut oil, etc.

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CELERY STICKS.  Filled with hummus, and again topped with olives.

Dinner

SALAD.  I really like salad.  Same as for lunch, always with some form of protein and fat.  (Salmon and avocado, usually.)

SWEET POTATO.  Three nights a week I’m unable to eat dinner until really late because of crossfit/climbing.  Those nights I usually have a big snack before my workout (generally nuts or yogurt) and then when I get home I pop a sweet potato in the microwave, top it with butter and eat it.  If that’s not enough, I’ll have steamed veggies, olives, a fried egg, etc with it.

MEAT.  A chicken breast with roasted veggies.  Etc.

Basically, you eat a lot of veggies, protein, and good fats.  Avoid anything with added sugar, whether it’s natural or not.  No carbohydrates, so: no bread, no flour, no white potatoes, no fruit (unless it’s a green banana or green apple, and only in moderation).  No booze, no grains.

What did I learn from this experience?

1.  It is possible to go an entire day, an ENTIRE WEEK without eating bread or sugar.  I had already limited my sugar intake to one day a week, so that was a little easier to give up.  But I thought for sure I would be craving bread.  Not the case.

2.  I learned how to be more creative with my meals.  It’s important to not get bored with your food!

3. Preparation is key.  It would be impossible to stick to it without having good foods ALWAYS on hand and preparing foods in bulk for the week ahead.  When all you have to do is open the fridge and find it, you’re much more likely to choose healthy food over empty snacks.

What did I gain from this experience?

1.  I feel great.  SO MUCH ENERGY.  So few naps!

2.  My skin is the clearest it’s been ever.  Granted, I burnt my chin today at work, but otherwise, it’s great.

3.  I know now that when I do eat bread, cheap carbs, grains, sugars, I feel like junk.  So I’m more likely to avoid those foods the majority of the time now.

4.  I have so much more stamina at crossfit and climbing.

Now, I’ll admit, there were some days I didn’t follow my rules exactly.  But I’m never going to be one of those obsessively picky eaters that freak out about sugar.  I had a glass of great red wine at an Italian restaurant for my Dad’s birthday.  I ate black mission fig and prosciutto pizza in DC.  Where, I might add, I also drank margaritas and yuenglings.  I had wine this past weekend when visiting friends.  But when we all went to a diner for breakfast, I chose an omelette and sweet potatoes instead of homefries, and gave up the toast.  I’d rather splurge and drink a glass of wine, or a beer, than eat bread.

Now that it’s over, what do I do?  I think I’ll stick to it as much as possible.  It’s pretty easy most of the time, it just gets hard when there’s a major event or your attending parties, or going away for the weekend.  Sometimes, nothing beats drinking a beer on someone’s back porch while giggling with friends you never get to see.  Even if it does make you tired.

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This also taught me that ice cream is always the best dessert, and any other dessert item is really just a vehicle for ice creamy goodness. I ate about 2 gallons of ice cream in the last few weeks trying to recreate the perfect chocolate peanut butter combination that I had at Merrymead farm right after this experiment.   After finally admitting it wasn’t possible, I’m back to no sugar, very very few carbs.  Last night I had rarebit.  YOLO.

Meals to Cure Nostalgia & Postpone Wanderlust


As I am sure is the case with many other travelers out there, I frequently find myself nostalgic for a country, city, or day from past travels.  Running at dusk along rows of nebbiolo grapes on Via Strada Bozzola in Quargnento with a little scruffy dog pushing me along.  Walking switchback roads in Canale, eating fresh figs and persimmons right off the neighbors trees, again with a dog, but this one MUCH larger.  Hiking Valle d’Aosta.  Axe-picking the earth in Ponce with Angelo – forming terraced beds in the dry season heat.  Exploring the cliff walk along the Old Nice Harbor.  Wandering the cafe shops of Berlin in search of the perfect cold cure.

I have been to so many places in the last few years, and I truly miss so many of them that sometimes it hurts a little bit to know that I may never make it back to these places or see the people I lived with.  After all, there are so many things I want to see in this world.  So to take the edge off, I’ve come up with a few meals that I had in many of these places.  Some are as simple as four ingredients.  I usually only cook for two, so that’s what these serving sizes will be.

Strada Bozzola – WWOOFing in Quargnento, Italy

Cure:  Pasta & Pesto with Broccoli

Classic lunch meal after a hard morning’s work.

4 oz. rotini dried pasta

1 1/2 c. chopped broccoli florets

4 tbsp. pesto

Salt

Pepper

Cook pasta until al dente, in salted water.  During the last minute, drop broccoli florets into the boiling water.  Strain pasta and broccoli, reserving a tbsp. of the starchy water.  Mix this tbsp. with pesto and spoon on top of pasta.  Mix with a fork until pesto has coated pasta, and season to taste.  Serve.

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My scruffy little host doggy

Canale, Italy – Walking the hills with Arsenico

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Arsenico, overlooking the Roero

Cure:  Spicy Garlic Spaghetti

4 oz. dry spaghetti

1/4 c. olive oil

5 garlic cloves

1 chili pepper, seeded and minced

Parmagiano reggianno or similar table cheese

Cook spaghetti to al dente in salted water.  While the spaghetti is cooking, mash garlic with the bottom of a jar or glass.  Heat garlic, olive oil, and minced chili (peperoncino) in a non-stick skillet, over low heat.  Olive oil and garlic can burn quickly so keep an eye on it.  In only a few minutes, you’ll start to see that the olive oil carries a red tint, from the peperoncino.  It’s ready!  When the spaghetti is done, drain it and toss it with the olive oil, in the skillet.  Grate parmagiano overtop and serve.  You’re going to want bread with this one, to soak up whatever spicy olive oil there is left on your plate.

Gardening and Living on the Finca – Ponce

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Plantains & Yam stew after a hard day’s work

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Cure:  Plantain and Yam Stew

2 sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and diced into medium chunks

3 green or deep yellow plantains, rinsed and sliced into 3/4 ince pieces, peeled

1 small onion, chopped

1/4 c. adobo seasoning

1 c. vegetable or chicken broth

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 avocado, sliced

In a medium sauce pan, bring salted water to a boil, just enough to cover the yams and plantains.  When water is at a rolling boil add yams and plantains.  Cook for fifteen to twenty minutes minutes at a simmer until tender (can be pierced easily with a fork).  Drain most of the water, leaving just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add onions, adobo seasoning, and broth.  Bring to a simmer and cook until onions are desired softness. Spoon into bowls, mash with a fork, and top with olive oil and sliced avocado.

Angelo dug up all of the yams from the Finca, traded a friend for an avocado, and foraged plantains from the forest to feed us this meal.  It was so filling – a good thing as it had to feed three grown men, including Michael who is a notorious nommer.


Cliff Walk, Nice

Cure:  Socca

I’m going to be a cheat and just link you to a Socca recipe.  It’s simple enough, one part water to one part garbanzo flour, with a titch of olive oil.  I follow the recipe, but I start it on the stove top in an iron skillet, and then finish it under the broiler.  When I was in Nice, Socca paired with a beer was the perfect street food meal – cheap, salty, and filling.  Don’t get me wrong, I ate a lot of fancy food in Nice – but the moment I’m most nostalgic for is the one where I was sitting under gray skies, eating Socca so hot it burnt my fingers with cracked black pepper piled on top.  I had a whole afternoon to do with what I wanted, and no one to report back to.  Total fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants solo traveling moment indeed.

Definitely put black pepper on top, some salt, and parmigiano cheese.  Eat it with olives or some arugula or both.  I added tomato jam to mine too, but I’m a tomato fiend and work at a place that is willing to send me home with products to test.  Like jam, made of plump plum tomatoes.  LUCKY!
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So that’s it for now.  I have a few more meals to add to cure my nostalgia, so this can be part one in the series.  Part Deux will include:  Marrakesh, Berlin, Puerto Jimenez, and Mondaino.

Ciao Ciao,

JT

Climbing, Crossfit and my Protein Dilemma


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Sometimes I forget just how addicted to endorphins I am.  I am the first to admit that I become a total crazy person if I go more than a few days without doing something active.  And each new thing I try, I quickly become obsessed with.  First was running, an activity that I will never give up.  Yes, sometimes I can run 13 miles, and sometimes my mileage is a measly 3, but I will always get back out there.  Next was cycling – Mer got me into adult cycling when we lived in DC.  We started commuting to work along the Capital Crescent trail and taking spin classes at the Y.  She helped me buy my first and current road bicycle (Bumblebee!)  I paid it forward, sort of, and made MDK buy a bicycle this summer.Image

In the last year I’ve gotten really into climbing – indoors at the rock gym and outdoors when it’s warm.  Though I know it takes strength and muscles to run a half-marathon, I’ve never felt as strong as I do now.  Plus, I just love it:  the chalk on my hands; the bouncy floors; the way my wrists tremble while I hold on to a sloper; managing a really difficult route with a lot of crimps; and challenging myself to keep pushing for harder and harder routes.  I like that when I don’t give up, I generally succeed.

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In hopes of becoming stronger for climbing, I’ve started doing hot yoga, inspired by my brother.  Yoga is something I’ve done on and off since college, but hot yoga is something I think I’ll stick with, and not just because it has helped me with balance when I’m climbing, but also because it centers me.  But the balance thing IS pretty awesome:  I now find it easier to turn awkward and unbalanced reaches into mid-air yoga.  Yoga definitely makes me a better climber.  And since I want to keep that train chugging along, I decided to give crossfit a try, because the stronger I am, the better a climber I can be.  Plus if I ever truly want to climb El Capitan, which has become sort of a secret dream of mine, I need to be much stronger.

So I started Crossfit five days ago.  It is HARD.  But it is so rewarding.  My first class, I thought I’d fall over from wall ball squats and air squats.  Then I looked to my right and the girl next to me was clearly exhausted but still killing it, which encouraged me to keep going.  I could hardly walk Sunday, but there I was again, Monday night ready for more.  I was frustrated we were doing more squats, and burpees had my arms aching before I even got home that night.  I hated the bar choking me during front squats.  But I already felt stronger climbing on Tuesday.  My legs were bricks when I went for a run Wednesday, but worked out all the soreness, and by this morning, my legs felt fine.

Tonight I went to class, even though I was so tired.  There is just something so enticing about a varied workout.  I love that we start with jump rope because I rule at jump rope.  And we learn how to stretch our hips and our instructor goes, “See, look at her, this is what you want to strive for, perfect hips,” because I can put my shin flat against the wall whilst flattening my butt and lower back along it (THANKS YOGA!).  The guy next to me is wincing, laughing “Trying to show me up, huh!”  But really, all of the ladies kill it.  Then we do pushups and I can’t even do one!  And the same guy shows me how to correct my form and modify so that I can at least start building up to a regular one.  I even suck at the modified one.  And then for 8 minutes we do 8 burpees, 8 air squats, and 8 kettle bell swings.  Some people go through them fast, with perfect form.  I struggle, just trying to finish the burpees each time without throwing up.

I’m getting carried away.  I love Crossfit.  I love how hard it is.  I love that I excel at certain things, but can barely do others.  I love that I was exhausted going in there tonight, but energetic leaving at 10 pm on a Thursday.  I love that I have already made friends.

The problem I’m having is my diet.  I am currently 70% vegetarian.  I eat meat, but only the happy, free-run free-range, no hormone no antibiotic types, which are expensive.  Plus, I don’t think it’s healthy to eat meat every single day.  I know myself, and it just doesn’t work for my body.  I try to eat a lot of protein, but it isn’t as easy when you’re not consuming meat.  This is an issue.  Crossfit makes me incredibly sore, and the way to battle sore muscles is hydration, protein, and potassium.  My solution?  Find a way to get way more protein into my diet without compromising my commitment to free-range ‘happy’ meats.  For starters?  A lean green banana machine smoothie, after evening workouts.  Soy milk, almond milk, non-fat plain greek yogurt, frozen banana slices, spinach, and peanut butter, all blended up, provides me with about 13 grams of protein and 40 mg of potassium (nanas and spinach).  Unfortunately, it’s also got a lot of sugar, but I’m working these things out as I go along!

I’ve also flirted with protein pancakes this week.  I resisted at first, because I actually really dislike pancakes.  I could probably give you a two-thousand word essay on why I find pancakes so awful, but it is truly not important.  With a lot of crepe mix experience under my belt, I pulled some things from the refrigerator that I’ve seen in recipes for ‘healthy pancakes’ and set to work blending them up.  Oats, red quinoa, cottage cheese, yogurt, egg whites, and the tiniest bit of whole wheat flour.  And you know what?  These are pretty delicious.  Nothing like traditional pancakes, these are dense, moist, and chewy.  They are really filling and have something like 20g of protein!  Which is the other thing about crossfit – it makes me HUNGRY, and I’m already a pretty hungry gal.  So the protein aspect is really important.

Smoothies I think everyone gets the gist of, but I’ll put my ‘recipe’ for the pancakes below.  Try them.  Yes they are a bit weird if you are not the type of person to use applesauce instead of oil in a cookie recipe.  Yes, I think you can get over it.  I’m excited for MDK to try them because he has the lock-down on scrambled eggs/omelets.  Hopefully I can corner the market on protein pancakes.

1/2 c. cooked red quinoa (or white, the red is just what we normally have)

1/3 c. oats, old fashioned (dry)

3 tbsp. whole wheat flour

1/4 c. cottage cheese, low-fat

1/4 c. plain greek yogurt, non-fat

3 egg whites

Cooking oil

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until mixture reaches a ‘batter’ consistency.  It’s ok, and for me preferable, if some of the quinoa and oats are still whole.  Heat a non-stick skillet and lightly grease with cooking oil (spray, or butter, whichever).  Pour batter onto hot skillet in small circles, like you would with regular pancake batter.  The batter can be a bit thick so make sure it spreads and is less than a cm thick.  These take longer to cook than regular pancakes, but the same principles apply for flipping.  When the edges start to brown, flip them.  When both sides are done, serve!  I actually made a whole batch one night, then let them cool and packed them in an air tight container so I could reheat them for breakfast for a few days.

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Protein pancake with tomato jam. Delicious.

The Batter

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Smeared with peanut butter, and topped with chopped apples, cinnamon and honey, these were WAY filling.

I like them with peanut butter, chopped fruit, honey, cottage cheese, yogurt, jam, etc.  Next time I’ll try them with a savory twist – turmeric, garlic, onion in the batter and perhaps just a drizzle of olive oil for serving.  The first attemptNice and brownImage

Anyway, my apologies to anyone hoping for another Costa Rica post.  I’m just too pumped on Crossfit.  Next time I promise a bit more eloquence :).

Buonanotte!

JT

¡Pura Vida!


Well hello there! Pura vida, or pure life, from La Fortuna Costa Rica!

Our flight from LAX left at 12:20 am. When we finally began our descent into San Jose ten hours later, I let out a few choice expletives. From the view of our tiny plane window, two seats over, I thought for sure we had arrived in Jurassic park. There must be a dinosaur around here SOMEWHERE.

But really, Costa Rica is lush, mountainous, and tropical. Everyone so far has been amazingly friendly.

We picked up our 4×4 (sorry environment! It’s necessary for our safety!) and headed up the narrow roads that lead to Arenal, one of the volcanoes in Northern CR. Phew, harrowing. You are driving up switchback roads that are barely two lanes across, with blind spots every km, not to mention the semis barreling down the mountain or the wideloads carrying chopped up sugar cane, all while PASSING the semis struggling up the steep incline. I closed my eyes a lot. Michael did wonderful, and on only five hours of travel sleep, one of which occurred on the airport floor. Plus we’re navigating using maps and a compass only. SKILLS!

We arrived at our lodge around 6:30, dropped off everything, and headed back out to Bosque to get some eats. We ate at a sweet little open air family restaurant, fish and rice dishes, and flan for dessert. Immediately asked for the check because we were beat!

I jumped in the pool when we got back to the lodge, because you’ve just got to wash that airport stink off, dried off, and promptly fell asleep.

Today we went on our white water rafting adventure. White water rafting terrifies me. A lot. Once on a standard Fish Creek camping trip, we met a young man working at our favorite brekki place, The Lumberjack Inn in Tupper, who had quite a story to tell about wwr. Pretty much his father went on a huge trip with a bunch of friends and the boat flipped for some reason and all but his father perished. So sad. And has had me frightened of this experience for years and years. But I decided to face my fear and try to recognize that that tragedy was also a freak accident. Which leads us to me facing my fear today.

We scheduled it through Desafio, and if you plan on going on this type of day trip, I’d recommend this company. Ask for Jose to be your guide. He is awesome and competes internationally in white water rafting. Plus he’s way more fun than any of the other guides we ran into that day.

I’m getting side tracked. We were teamed up with a family of four from Oz by way of Minnesota. Lovely family and really helped make the trip a lot of fun. They bussed us to the river, with a pit stop at a grocery for bathrooms and sloth viewings (woohoo! We saw two sloths and a giant iguana!). At the river we received a quick rafting lesson. Prepped with a life jacket, a paddle, a serious helmet, and the advice to not put sunscreen on the backs of our legs, we climbed in the boat and paddled off! Only to be splashed immediately by Jose, whose main goal seemed to be providing the most fun while getting us the most wet.

The rapids were fun. We had a superb time just paddling along for the bumpy ride. Plus all of the nature you get to view from the river! Michael ‘rode the bull’ through some rapids, which is basically where you sit on the very front o the boat holding the rope and waving one hand in the air. Hilarious.

We stopped for a quick jump off of a cliff into the river. Fun fun fun. They had watermelon and pineapple sliced up for us for a snack after, which was important considering all of the water that went up my nose when I hit the water.

I fell out. I was the only person to fall out without being pushed. They tell you to just float on your back when it happens, and I did have to fight the urge to roll on my belly and doggy paddle. Another raft dragged me to our raft and Jose pulled me in the boat.

Our trip ended not long after and we were treated to a typical Costa Rican lunch of beans, rice, platanos, fish, palm hearts, and cabbage slaw. It was delicious. We were certainly hungry after all of the paddling.

Back at the hotel, we decided to head toward Arenal to see if we couldfet a better view of the mountain top. We did, and I’ll post pictures later, but even better was the rope swing we found.

We swung off of a skinny little rope and when we surfaced from underneath we were face to face with a huge water fall. I love Costa Rica! In desperate need of some relaxation after the fearful swing, we stopped in at one of the hot springs to relax and enjoy the warm water. Hot springs are awesome.

Dinner was another tipico de casado, or house dish, with rice, beans, fish, yuca, salad, and cheese for about 3 USD. Good eats for cheap!

Bed time now, as we’ve got quite a drive for the next leg of our adventure: Corcovado national park. We’ll be spending two days there, hiking and camping, among snakes, spiders, monkeys, sloths, etc. It’s going to be wild, pun intended.

Ciao ciao, buenos noches,
JT

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Portlandia!

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Portland, Oregon

Our original plan was to drive out to Mount St. Helens on our way down to Portland.  Unfortunately, traffic was awful and it took us way longer to get to the area.  Mount St. Helens is still active, which means there is no lodging within thirty miles, meaning the drive out and back will take a few hours.  So we readjusted and decided to head out there the next day with Justin, Michael’s brother.  J goes to school a little ways outside of Portland.  Both of our siblings were on the West Coast with us for a part of this trip, which made it extra-special.

Anyway, feeling guilty after our mass donut consumption, I forced Michael into going climbing with me.  We found a rock gym just outside of Portland, in Vancouver, WA and spent some time bouldering.  The place was nice, but there’s just something to be said for your home rock gym.  You know the employees, you know the routes, you have goals you want to accomplish.  So it was good, but nothing super special.  Still on our guilt mode, and aware that we’d have more donuts to eat later that night, we found a cute little vegan restaurant that shares a space with a yoga studio.  Prasad has vegan, raw vegan, and vegetarian fare for people with an appetite, that want to eat clean.  I got a “Dragon bowl” with quinoa, tempeh, avocado, black beans, sea veggies, greens, and cabbage.  Soooo delicious.  The nice thing about Prasad is that they won’t turn away a hungry belly…The Mighty Bowl is offered for a suggested donation, meaning you can pay whatever you like for it.  Hopefully this keeps at least some people from going hungry and malnourished.

We walked around Portland for a bit, and then hit one of the famous sites in the city.  Voodoo Donuts.  At this point I should mention that most days that Michael is away doing his tour thing, I have no idea what city he’s in.  Sometimes I’ll call him and HE doesn’t know what city he’s in.  He’ll just wake up and there they are.  But in each city, they have a designated food spot.  And based on the food spot they instagram or are headed towards, that’s how I know where he is.  Sad but true.  Wingin’ it or Watercourse means Colorado.  Blue Plate Diner means SLC.  Slows means Detroit.  Taco Bus means Tampa.  Voodoo means Portland.

And can I briefly also mention that I hear about all of these awesome delicious places, and never get to EAT there.  I’ve seen way too many pictures of buckets of donuts from Voodoo.  So even though I already had a donut that morning, I WAS FOR SURE EATING AT LEAST TWO MORE.  No regrets.  We waited patiently in a short line while I decided just which two I was going to eat.  Some kids were playing nontraditional instruments for dollars in front of the entrance, and impressed us with their skills on the saw.  So Michael, stocked with fresh two dollar bills from some Asian currency exchange place, decided to gift these musicians with a two dollar bill.  The one kid laughed and was like “REALLY?!” and gave us a strange look.  As we moved on in line, I noticed that they happened to be singing the entire time “You can give me your……..You can give me your……But please just don’t give me, your two dollar bill”.  Great.

Anyway, back to the donut.  I had a Memphis Mafia which is technically a banana fritter with peanut butter and chocolate sauce drizzled all over it, topped with chocolate chips.  And it was the size of my face so Michael and I split it.  And got an oreo topped yeast donut for later.  Nom.  Totally worth feeling sick afterwards.  Voodoo definitely makes delicious donuts, but I didn’t get to try a simple maple bar to see how it compared to Top Pot.  Oh well, next time!

Memphis Mafia

Full and incredibly sleepy, we headed to our hotel.

Saturday we headed to Forest Grove to pick up Justin for our Mount St. Helens adventure.  Justing directed us to Ape Caves, about an hour and a half drive from Portland.  These caves are actually lava tubes formed from eruptions thousands of years ago.  They were discovered in 1947.  We spent a short time exploring the lower cave, which dead-ends after a bit.  Then we spent over two hours hiking through the upper cave.  The upper cave definitely takes some work since there are boulder piles twenty feet high in some areas plus an eight foot lava fall you have to climb up.  Some people hike up the mountain to the sky light and enter there to climb down the upper cave into the lower one.  Personally, I hate climbing down things, and felt going from the lower caves to the upper caves made it easier to scale the boulder piles.  Then we exited through the sky light and hiked quickly down the mountain.  If you have a headlight, take it.  It’s SO DARK in the caves and while we picked up some cheap flashlights, I would have much preferred having both hands to balance.  Also, you’re underground so it is COLD.  Wear really warm clothes.

Skylight Entrance

Once out of the caves we explored the National Monument and park areas and found another really cool suspension bridge a bit further passed the parking area.  Really, the sights there were unlike anywhere else.  I mean, the only volcano I’ve seen prior is Vesuvius so that’s all I have to compare it to, but it’s totally different.

Brothers

Mount St. Helens

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We headed back to Portland for some Thai food, and then decided to see a movie.  Sometimes while on adventure vacations, it’s really nice to just hang out and do something normal.  We got to see some of J’s campus, which is incredibly eco-friendly compared to BU.  Played some pool and then went to bed.

Sunday morning we headed back into Portland to catch our flight home.  In order to have a great end to our trip, Michael hunted down the best possible brekki place.  Broder is a Scandinavian kitchen that serves baked eggs, smoked trout, Scandinavian pancakes, all involving local ingredients and fantastic pickled items.  I’m a huge pickle fan – I’ll eat pretty much any veg item pickled.  And to top it all off – they had fantastic coffee, which you could sit and drink next door in their lounge while waiting for your table.  Complimentary stump town coffee for the win!  If you’re going to Broder for breakfast – get there super early!  There was a line outside the door ten minutes before they even opened.

We rushed off to the airport, and headed back to PHL via SLC.  What a trip.  Can’t wait to go back :).

Ciao ciao,

JT