Hike, Cook, Eat, And Explore….Just A Few Of My Favorite Things

I don’t get a whole lot of down time with being a wife, mother, childcare provider, and a person that will not pass up a day outside if the sun is shining. However, there have been a few things consuming what little free time I do have.

Trip planning…..I should have been a travel agent. Although, do people even use travel agents any more???? Who knows. Anyhow, I have been working hard at planning our next adventure vacation and I am finally at a place where I can say it’s complete. I till have two places to book for the night but for the adventure part of the trip, it’s complete. Sleeping is just details anyhow…right? This vacation is going to be like no other since I am not ready to live the airline HELL again any time soon, so we are driving this one, exploring many places, and of course hiking to some of the places on my bucket list.

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Cooking….again something I have been enjoying but I know will soon become a chore for the next few months with the warmer weather. There is nothing worse than having to come in from outside to cook…uggg. Why do we need to eat in the summer time….its such a waste of good summer time hours? Anyhow, I splurged and bought a spiralizer and have been experimenting with it. My husband is a bit scared of what I may put on the dinner table in the next few weeks and our son has already said to give him notice and he will go out for dinner. Party pooper!!!

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And I have been roasting veggie mixtures like crazy and found that I LOVE roasted lemon slices on my veggies. Lemons turn to sweet slices of heaven when they are roasted. You have to try it!!!

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We are planning frantically for camping season and I could not be more excited. OK, well maybe if it were paddling season but that is still a ways away for me. Waters are still a bit chilly so why not camp instead. I placed and received my yearly order of grab and go camp meals for when the urge hits and we have no time to prepare…we just grab and go.

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I have to mention my new love…..sushi. I have had sushi in the past at a few places but this months dinner out with my brother was for sushi at an actual sushi restaurant here in Green Bay. I was nervous,excited, and a little scared to be honest. They often will serve fish eggs on many items and being married to a avid fisherman, I cannot eat fish eggs from any species. However, we easily worked around this dislike and I was amazed at how wonderful our meal tasted, looked, and I cannot wait to return. We had the chef prepare everything we ordered on one plate to share between the three of us and it was like a party in our mouth, literally!!! Look at this plate of food. I am loving these monthly dinners with my brother, he is an adventurous soul and a great foodie at that. And, I will never again have to try and figure out where to go for my future birthday dinners….without a doubt it will be out for sushi.

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That sums up my free time as of lately. I will leave you all with an end of week rainbow and a wish for a great weekend ahead.

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Bonus Freezer Meals, Big Decisions, and Bad Luck For Someone All Rolled Into One Week

After a fabulous Easter dinner last Sunday with my husband and son we had, once again, tons of food left over for the week.

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Which meant I had to come up with ideas to use up the leftovers. From ham soup to ham and hash brown egg bake…we enjoyed ham for a few days.

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I also needed to concentrate on restocking our freezer meals so I planned the weekly menu around doing this. We enjoyed no boil lasagna one night and sloppy joes another. Both meals leaving plenty to package and freeze for fast lunches to send with my husband for work.

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Workouts this week were pretty good. I am still dealing with a sore middle back….but foam rolling has been offering some relief. I think some of it may be stress which I am trying to figure out and deal with.

Easter Sunday: 2.5 mile hike with my husband

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Monday: another 2.5 mile hike on the same trail….only much, much colder and windy today and upper body weights at home

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Tuesday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, abs and legs workout, and foam rolling my back muscles

Wednesday: 3 mile evening walk and upper body weights at home

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Thursday: gym : 30 minute elliptical and stretching

Friday: rest

Saturday: solo hike on two different trails for a total of 4 miles

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Some weeks it helps to try and find the positive and not focus on the negatives. Not that it was that bad of a week but there are some decisions I am struggling with and I know I have to deal with them soon. Losing sleep over things I cannot change is one thing but losing sleep over things I can change is another. It’s not good for anyone since I really need my sleep. So I need to get on this and soon.

On the positive side of things….at least I am not this guy with this dilemma!!!!! Mother Nature and her fury won again after a windy ride on the Bay of Green Bay, this guy had his sail ripped right from his hands and thrown up into a tree. Talk about bad luck….Yikes!!!!

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Mediterranean Quinoa Breakfast Cups

Fast and simple breakfasts at our house are must during the week days. We get up early, very early(4a.m.) and I prepare breakfast every morning while my husband prepares to leave for work by 4:40 a.m…..if there is no snow predicted. So needless to say, I have very little time to make two breakfast meals, his and mine, coffee, throw together his lunch and pack it to go, we then eat breakfast together,and out the door he goes all in 40 minutes. I will say, I have become very efficient at making this happen but from time to time I do wake up with no plan and struggle to find something quick and nutritious for breakfast. Which brought us to this recipe. I have been meaning to give something like this a try for sometime now and I finally did it and quite successfully I will say on the first attempt.

This has a protein punch with eggs and quinoa, along with some mediterranean ingredients that are packed with flavor.

Mediterranean Quinoa Breakfast Cups

1 cup of cooked quinoa

1 handful of baby kale, roughly chopped

1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes in oil, roughly chopped

3 TBSP crumbled feta cheese

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground flax seed

2 tsp. creole seasoning (or any preferred seasoning mixture)

3 whole eggs

5 egg whites

First, you must cook 1 cup of quinoa as the package says. (1 cup seed, 2 cups water, cover and cook for approx. 15 min)  About five minutes before the quinoa is done, add the chopped kale and sundried tomatoes to wilt and wake up the flavors from the tomatoes.

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After this is prepared, if there is any remaining liquid, drain it off. Ideally, this should be cooled then for an hour or so but in my world, when I am cooking,I don’t have an hour to return and finish the project. So if you wish, you could do what I did and place it in a bowl and into the freezer for 10 minutes and stir it every few minutes. This will at least drop the temp enough while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

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While this is cooling, measure your spices, cheese, and crack your eggs. Whisk this all together until combined. During these 10 minutes you also can line your muffin tin and make sure you spray the inside of the liners with non stick cooking spray since this will assure easy removal later on.

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Preheat your oven to 350.

Ok, now get that bowl in the freezer and add this mixture to your egg mixture. Mix well and scoop it into the muffin tin liners.

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Place these in to bake for roughly 20 minutes if your quinoa is not completely cooled like mine wasn’t. If your quinoa was completely cooled, cooking time will vary, so keep a close eye on them. You will know when they are done when a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Remove them onto a cooling rack until cool and store them in an airtight container in the frig for reheating in the mornings. They are great for kids and adults.

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No Bake Chocolate Energy Bites

These little gems are perfect for before workouts, after workouts, after school snack, or to toss in lunch boxes for your family. They offer healthy ingredients with a bit of chocolate yum added. And the best part is, you literally can throw them together in minutes with common, everyday ingredients.

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Give them a try…

 

Chocolate Energy Bites

1 cup of quick cooking oats

1/2 cup ground flax seed

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup peanut butter

3 tsp. cocoa powder

pinch of cinnamon

pinch of sea salt

In a large bowl, mix the oats, flax seed, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and sea salt together until well combined.

In a microwave safe bowl, mix the honey and peanut butter and heat for 30 seconds or until easier to combine by mixing with a spoon. Mix this well and pour it over the dry mixture.

Combine until no crumbles are left and then form into ball sizes of your desire.

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Store them in the refrigerator for up to a week and enjoy.

I Thought 50 degrees in February Was Awesome…..64 Is A Small Miracle

Wow, what a week we had here in Green Bay. Sun was shining, snow was melting, warmth was beaming down from the sky, and I saw neighbors I have not seen since November. It’s always so funny to finally see who you live next too after a few months and high five each other for making it through another LONG winter.

Alright, so maybe winter is not quite over yet, but you could not tell by the week temperatures we had here. Needless to say, this all changed Friday morning upon waking up. We were once again, hit by yet another snowstorm. Which made me so happy that I took complete advantage of the nice days we did have and spent every moment possible outside for exercise.

Here, take a look:

Sunday: Fox River Trail walk 3 miles…The trail, river, and parking lots were packed with everyone wanting to get some fresh air. However, we found a quiet stretch to walk on which offered us some peace from all the bikers.

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Monday: 2 mile walk and upper body weight routine

Tuesday: 3 mile walk and upper body weight routine

Plus numerous hours playing outside and going for two kid walks which equal approx 1.5 miles total….exhausting day but so nice to enjoy this mid February.

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Wednesday: 1 mile walk…..In honor of National Margarita Day my dear neighbors brought over two margaritas for my husband and I. I then proceeded to drink mine before leaving for our evening walk, which then went from a planned 3 miles to a stumble instead of a walk and lasted 1 mile instead. However, I am not complaining since that margarita sure tasted great after a long, summer like day:-) It’s great to have such wonderful neighbors….

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Thursday: home: 30 minute recumbent bike and a 3 mile evening walk before the snowstorm arrived over night

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Friday: rest

Saturday: I finally got the virus all my daycare children have been passing around for the past few weeks, so no exercise for me today:-(

As for meals this week, I will admit, I should have planned some grilling meals but I did not. My husband is the griller in our family and we had some nights where he was not due to be home on time so inside meals it was all week. Although, that’s ok, we still had some great meals and one new recipe this week which was a summer time quinoa salad because summer temps deserve a summer salad…right?

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One night was pulled pork sandwiches with roasted carrots and sun dried tomato couscous.

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Another evening was no boil lasagna because nothing is easier than making it all in the early morning and sliding it in the oven when you spent all day outside and need a hot dinner but have no energy left to prepare it at the end of the day.

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What??? 50 Degrees In February In Wisconsin….YeeeeHaaaa!!!!

How do I even try to explain how happy I was when I heard it was going to hit 50 degrees this week in Wisconsin. Explanation points, happy faces or just burst out with words like….yeeee haaaaa!!!!! This is completely a gift from up above and I will gladly except it with a big THANK YOU.

Something happens when it warms up over in our house. I become a happier human being, I find energy to cook, clean and make lists of things to cook and clean when I run out of time. Thoughts of vacations and places to visit start popping into my head and trails I want to hike become a date on the calendar and not just a thought. I send home reminders to all my daycare parents that we are headed outside FINALLY so prepare for muddy children. I go for walks outside instead of the local mall where we do laps…..so boring. All in all, things just become a bit brighter for everyone when I become a happier human being.

In my heart I know this is too good to be true, since it is Wisconsin and we could easily get one, if not more, snowstorms well into March, but for now I am taking it and loving every last minute. So take a look at what I did this week in the world of exercise. Not a single mall lap walk during the whole week and that I am so thankful for.

Sunday: gym: 30 minute elliptical and full body weights on the TRX suspension trainer

Monday: evening walk outside 3 miles

Tuesday: home: 30 minute recumbent bike

gym: 30 minute elliptical

Wednesday: evening walk outside 3 miles

Thursday: home: 30 minute recumbent bike and total body weight routine

Friday: rest

Saturday: trail hike of 2.5 miles…original plan was 3.1 miles but it was more like a skating rink so instead of falling and injuring myself, I cut it short and still had a wonderful time. Here are some pics from todays 50 degree hike in February.

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As for meals this week. I did not do very good at remembering to snap pictures but don’t think we did not eat…haha. I again tried two new recipes, this one which will be shared soon.

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and this one which turned out better than expected.

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And one night I rebounded to a family favorite of turkey fajita seasoned brats with veggies, and like always we enjoyed one dinner out on Friday evening.

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The highlight of my week next to the awesome weather we have had was when my son snagged some floor to ceiling mirrors from the gym he works at that they were going to toss out. One corner is a bit cracked and one is slightly chipped but hey, they will do just fine here at home. I have been wishing for mirrors for my workout area to keep an eye on my form when doing yoga and lifting weights but they cost a fortune to buy. Now we just need some time to install them….which until the temps turn back to freezing, this will not happen because WE WILL BE OUTSIDE……HURRRAAAYYYY!!!!

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Getting Your Family To Eat Vegetables

Sometimes getting your family to eat vegetables can be hard. Here at our house, I typically make meals that are either for my husband and myself, my husband, son and myself, or for three kids all 2 years or under. When asked which one is the hardest to cook for…..my response is almost always the three of us….my husband, son and myself. Shocking right? I bet you would have thought the three kids. Here is why I respond the way I do.

For one, my son is not a vegetable eater!!! Even though he grew up having to try whatever the veggie was that night for dinner, he is not a veggie eater. I think this may happen to all teenagers and then they don’t venture back to vegetables until later in life maybe. Who knows, all I know is he is too old now, at 22 years old, for me to say he HAS to try the vegetable of the night. However, that is not to say he still does not get them in his diet when he eats at home. It a guarantee, if mom is cooking there is a veggie mixed in the meal somewhere that is very difficult to pick out or eat around.

My husband on the other hand, likes some vegetable and some he will not touch….okra for instance. So in this instance I can work around this much easier…..we just don’t have okra or I save a vegetable I know he dislikes for when he is traveling or not going to be home.

Here are a few tricks I have found that have made getting my family to eat vegetables a bit easier. One, mix them into casseroles. Cooked spinach can be mixed into almost any casserole or soup and is nearly impossible to pick out.

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Roasting a vegetable adds a whole different spin on flavor than boiling does. Boiling vegetables is very unexciting and bland in my opinion. Take for instance broccoli…..roasted with whole garlic cloves and a bit of salt…. it is fabulous and even my little kiddos eat the florets up like they are candy.

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Sauce them up. My son loves chicken curry and I used to serve this with mixed veggies on the side. Now, I add the vegetables right to the chicken and add the curry sauce to the entire dish. He eats them and admits they are good this way. Win for mom!!!!

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Add them to breakfast egg cups….no one thinks to have veggies at breakfast but it sure is easy to add them in where they least expect it. My daycare kiddos love these veggie egg cups and oftentimes we will make them together.

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Instead of meat marinara over pasta, try veggie or meat and veggie marinara. The pickier they are when it comes to vegetables, the smaller you should cut the pieces of vegetable to ensure they can not pick around them. Add some cheese to the top before serving and I would bet they will all try it if not gobble it all up.

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Try adding vegetables to sandwiches….like beef with pepperocini peppers

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or our favorite here is turkey reuben sandwiches.

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Don’t be afraid to try different things. We fell in love with lemon shrimp with capers and spinach. It was enjoyed by all of us even the spinach haters in my house.

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Sometimes even letting your children help prepare the meals will encourage them to try what they made. And one word of advice…..if you make a face at something you don’t like they are almost always going to agree. So if at all possible, try your veggies without expression and let them decided for themselves whether it is good or bad.