January 30, 2013

10 ways to know if you live in a cycling household

Since cycling season is officially upon us, I thought I'd help you determine if you really live in a cycling household.  Here are my top 10 clues:
  1. There are more bikes than people who live there.
  2. Asking "do you have a safety pin?" is not a real question.
  3. You know what a SAG Wagon is.
  4. The two most essential bathroom items are Butt Butter and Tegaderm.
  5. There is an entire closet or area for bike clothes, err kits.
  6. You should develop some type of new use for rubber with all the left-over tubes in your garage.
  7. The purchase of a new bike is similar to the purchase of a new wardrobe: they are often replaced seasonally.
  8. You know what a trainer is and it is set up somewhere in your house permanently.
  9. You are familiar with the layout of numerous business parks (crit racers) and underused mountainous roads (climbers) in a 100 square mile radius.
  10. You might have a child named after a pro cyclist, or you know someone who does.


Happy Racing!
♥TCW



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January 28, 2013

Dinner Makeover {Cheeseburger, Fries + Shake}

Happy Monday Everyone!

I am excited to be partnering with Save Mart and the American Heart Association for this post.  I'm not sure about you, but January always brings the feeling of needing a diet overhaul.  Full disclosure is probably appropriate though: as I sit writing this I've eaten two pieces of chocolate.  Don't hate.  We were given candy bars in a Christmas basket, it's a miracle there is any left.

Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of Americans?  I didn't.  The basis of a heart healthy diet is to eat low-sodium and low-fat foods.  Being aware of sodium and fat intake can be good for all of us, especially after a season of (most likely) eating a lot of extra junk.

Today I'm going to take a family favorite - but not so good for us - meal, and show you a healthier way to enjoy it.  On the menu is a cheeseburger, fries and a shake.  This is a classic American dish that I think everyone loves, but unfortunately it's not that good for us.  To change it up for a healthier alternative we are instead going to have a turkey burger (with cheese), roasted sweet potatoes and a 3 ingredient non-dairy banana shake.


Let's get cooking shall we?

I purchased everything I needed for this meal at my local Save Mart.


If you are a regular reader you know I am a lover of my local Farmer's Market for produce, but I am happy to say I was pretty impressed with Save Mart's produce selection, especially the heirloom tomatoes...


I did take some time to prepare and photograph this post, but turkey burgers with roasted sweet potatoes is something we eat on a semi-regular basis.  Being a busy person/part-time mom/full time real-jobber/part-time blogger, I like recipes that I can make in a reasonable amount of time after I get home from work and this is definitely one of them.  The banana shake is a new addition, but it was so good (and EASY!) that I know I'll be enjoying it more often.

Let's start with our potatoes.  I used 3 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes.


In keeping with the low-sodium, low-fat guidelines, I used olive oil to coat the potatoes and seasoned them with garlic pepper and crushed red cayenne pepper.

For the burger, I used a lot of fresh herbs which gave it great flavor.


The shake is what I'm most excited about though.  A 3 ingredient milkshake?!  What the what?  I think I just found a way to cure my sweet tooth.  Can I let you in on a little secret?


When you put frozen banana rounds into your food processor, magic happens.  I am totally not kidding.  Banana ice cream.  Magic.


This is really just bananas.  Only bananas and nothing else.  The consistency is like soft serve.
It is truly amazing.  It is truly outrageous.  Jem!
Err.  Sorry about that.  I might have watched Girls Just Wanna Have Fun while I made this.  I'm suffering from 80's brain a little bit.  The banana ice cream is truly outrageous though.

I scooped my banana ice cream into the blender, added 4 large ice cubes and 1 cup of Almond Breeze Vanilla Unsweetened Almond Milk.


Mix it all up and you have a dairy free 3 ingredient milkshake.  It's even OK to have it for breakfast.


When you're done with everything you have a full healthy meal with no additional salt added, low in fat and lots of healthy herbs, fruit and vegetables.  Most importantly, it's just as satisfying as that old cheeseburger, fries and a shake.


I served the burger and potatoes with a couple of juicy orange slices.  Citrus is looking great right now and I have a wonderful tree right in my backyard.


The potatoes turned out nice, crisp and spicy.  I was a little afraid to attempt a recipe with no added salt, especially potatoes, but I was very happy with how these tasted.  I wasn't missing my salt shaker.


I used an Oroweat 100% Whole Wheat bun and topped the burger with fresh avocado, green leaf lettuce, heirloom tomato and sliced red onion.  The cheese was a hard decision   In the end I chose Tillamook sliced Swiss because it was lower in sodium (although higher in fat) than the goat cheese.  This is a fine choice for us, but those on a heart healthy diet will need to make sure adding this cheese won't put them over their recommended daily fat intake.


Overall, it wasn't good or anything.  Just kidding!!

For anyone just learning to cook or looking to avoid sodium and fat, here is my two cents:
  • Cook your own food.  I'm not saying never go to a restaurant again, but by preparing your own dishes, as opposed to purchasing pre-prepared foods, you will easily avoid excess sodium and fat because you know exactly what is going into your food.  
  • Shop the perimeter of your grocery store.  Most of the things you will find in the "middle" is boxed, canned, frozen and/or pre-made and have much higher levels of sodium and fat than fresh items that you prepare yourself.  
  • If you aren't a cook, don't worry.  I'm a strong believer that anyone can teach themselves to cook. With every new recipe you try you will learn something new and before you know it you will have lots of menu items in your repertoire.
Here are the ingredients and how to for each recipe:

Banana Shake

Ingredients:
1 scant cup frozen banana rounds*
4 large ice cubes
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I used Almond Breeze)

How to:
Put the frozen banana rounds into your food processor and mix until they turn into an ice-cream like consistency.
Transfer the banana ice cream to your blender.
Add ice cubes and almond milk and blend until smooth.
Pour into your favorite glass, add a straw and enjoy.

*To freeze the banana in advance, peel it, slice it, freeze it.  Freezing with the peel on will cause you problems.  Trust.



Roasted Spicy Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:
3 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
2 teaspoons garlic pepper*
1/2 teaspoon crushed red cayenne pepper*
2 tablespoons olive oil
Spray of canola oil

How to:
Pre-heat oven to 400°.
Peel potatoes and cut into cubes.  Add all cubes to a large bowl.  Add seasoning and olive oil and toss until potatoes are coated.  Lightly spray a cooking sheet with canola or olive oil spray.  Spread seasoned potato cubes across the pan in an even layer.
Cook for 15 minutes, then turn potatoes with spatula.
Cook another 10 minutes.
Turn oven to high-broil and broil for about 5 minutes to crisp the potatoes.
Serve with ketchup or alone.

*I like things spicy and these potatoes did have a bit of a kick.  If you are not a spicy food person, I would start by adding only half of the spices listed here.

Turkey Burger with Fresh Herbs

Ingredients:
1lb lean ground turkey (I used Jennie-O Lean Ground Turkey)
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
1/4 scant cup fresh basil, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
1/2 small red onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 slice of whole grain bread, ripped into small pieces
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon low sodium Worcestershire sauce (I used Lea & Perrins)
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Sides:
Oroweat 100% Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns
Tillamook Sliced Swiss (1 slice per burger)
Avocado, sliced
Heirloom tomato, sliced (any tomato will do)
Red onion, sliced
Green leaf lettuce
Mayo, deli mustard, ketchup

How to:
Prepare all herbs and seasonings as noted.
Mix all ingredients in large bowl, use your hands to mix everything thoroughly 
Once mixed, prepare patties.  You should be able to get 5-6 full sized patties from the mixture.
Heat a grill pan (or fry pan) on medium to high heat.  Place patty (or patties) in pan and begin to cook.
Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for about 5 minutes on each side until burger is cooked through.
If adding cheese, place a slice on top of your burger and continue cooking until melted.
Assemble burger to your liking and enjoy!


♥TCW

*I was compensated for this post, however all opinions expressed are completely my own.  

**I shared some or all of these recipes on the following sites:
New Life on a Homestead
Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
My Sweet & Savory
hey what's for dinner mom?
Beyer Beware
Delightfully Dowling
Simply Sugar & Gluten Free
Real Food Forager
Growing Home
Learning the Frugal Life
Beauty & Bedlam 
Kelly the Kitchen Kop
The Tasty Alternative
The Gluten-Free Homemaker
Whole Foods Wednesday
Lady Behind the Curtain
We are that family
Frugal Follies
Diary of a stay at home mom
Miz Helen's Country Kitchen
The Nourishing Gourmet
Tasty Traditions
Food Renegade
ann kroeker. writer.
Food Trip Friday
Cybele Pascal
Tidy Mom
Little House in the Suburbs
The Finer Things in Life
My Sweet & Savory
Hey What's for Dinner Mom










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January 22, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie ♥ The Heart Healthy Way ♥





In the winter months I love warm, savory food.  There is something special about coming in from the cold to a cozy house that smells like good eats.  I knew this recipe was a keeper when after a monster bike ride, The Cyclist came in the door and the first words out of his mouth were "something smells good".  Win.

This chicken pot pie is from the American Heart Association's recipe page.  I absolutely love pot pie, but the pre-packaged kind tend to have 30+ grams of fat per serving.  Not good.  As soon as I saw this healthier version, I knew I had to make it.  After getting all of the goods at Save Mart, I got to work.








This dish gets its flavor from all of the seasoning, fresh herbs and veggies.


Not pictured - Parsley, it comes later.  A couple of notes here: I used fresh pearl onions because Save Mart did not have any frozen.  If you have the option to use frozen, I would do so because it takes a long dang time to peel those fresh onions!  Also, when I couldn't find button or Crimini mushrooms, my friendly Save Mart produce man told me that they are the same as Italian Brown.  Learn something new every day.





The recipe calls for a salt free all purpose seasoning, I chose good ole' Mrs. Dash because it's what my mom always had on hand.

It had been awhile since I'd had Mrs. Dash and I was impressed by the amount of flavor it has without salt.

I was also happy to see the recipe called for turmeric.  I met turmeric awhile ago and I really love it.  You can dye a shirt with it too.

You'll notice the recipe does call for salt, but it's only a tad bit - 1/2 teaspoon.







One more thing.  This recipe calls for a liquor called Pernod.  I thought I had never heard of it, but when I googled it I recognized the bottle.  My Save Mart did not carry this, but to be honest, I don't know that I would have bought it even if they did.  The likelihood of us using it outside of this recipe is probably pretty slim.  Mark my words though, because now that I've said this I'm sure I'll probably find another recipe that calls for it.





Once you've got all your ingredients together it's time to start cooking the filling.  I like that this recipe has you saute the herbs a bit before adding the other ingredients.  I used my biggest skillet.  You should use your biggest skillet too.


Once your filling is done, it's time to make your crust dough.  Because it's doughy and crusty.  Er, not crusty but you know, crust-y.  The recipe has you roll it out on plastic wrap.  Do this.  You will have to flip it on top of your filling.  It is a sheer miracle I was able to do this on my own.  The Cyclist is the dough master of our domain.


Full disclosure here.  The recipe calls for a trans-fat free margarine spread.  We don't eat margarine.  I used unsalted butter instead.  This obviously upped the fat content, so if you are eating a heart healthy diet you can either follow the recipe and use the margarine, or, make sure using the butter doesn't put you over your daily fat intake.  To note, the unsalted butter I used was also trans-fat free, so this is still a trans-fat free crust.

Once you've rolled your dough and precariously flipped it onto your filling you should give yourself a pat on the back for accomplishing such a difficult task.  I did.  The recipe says you should put your filling in a 3 quart casserole dish.  I don't have one of those, so I instead used our cast iron skillet.  I also opted to use the recipe's suggestion of putting an egg wash on the finished pastry.


As you can see my crust doesn't exactly go all the way to the sides.  Since my name is not Martha this is acceptable.  You can get this baby baking now!

While you're pie is in the oven I've got something else for you to do.  The recipe says to serve the pot pie with olive oil mashed potatoes, but I couldn't find a recipe on American Heart Association's website, so I created one for you.


Typically I add more salt to mashed potatoes, but these didn't need it and they were super easy to make.  The recipe is down below, you can easily make these taters while your pot pie is cooking.

Once you're done you'll have a tasty and heart healthy meal, that makes your house smell like home.


Because I am a full-time working lady, I will say that I probably wouldn't attempt this dish on a weeknight. There is a lot of chopping involved my friends.  Not to mention there is also dough involved, which usually totally freaks me out.  That said, you can make the filling a day in advance, which would make the process a bit easier.

The Cyclist and I both thought this dish was really good.  It is both hearty and tasty and you won't miss the added salt.  I am a crust lover and usually I would opt for the traditional pot pie which has the filling encased in a full crust (as opposed to just a crust on top), but I have to say, I didn't miss it.  The filling is really good and with mashed potatoes on the side, you really don't need all that crust.  This would be a great dish to make if you are having friends over for dinner too.

A few notes regarding my changes to the recipe:

  • I used fresh pearl onions instead of frozen.  If making this dish again, I'd opt for frozen simply to save time on peeling those babies.
  • I did not use the Pernod.
  • I used unsalted butter (which is trans-fat free) instead of a trans-fat free margarine spread.
  • I used a cast iron skillet instead of a 3 quart casserole dish.
  • I did the egg wash as suggested by the recipe.

That's it!  You can find the full recipe here.

And here is how to make those Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes....

Ingredients:

2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped in half
1 tsp. salt-free Mrs. Dash
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup milk*

How To:

Boil the potatoes until soft, about 15-20 minutes.
Using a stand mixer, mix with the paddle attachment until the potatoes are broken up.
Add all ingredients and mix well.
Switch to the whisk attachment and whip potatoes until smooth.
-or-
If you're using a hand mixer, first break the potatoes up with a wooden spoon.
Then, using your hand mixer, add all ingredients and mix well.
Switch to a whisk and whip potatoes until smooth.

*I used 2%, but to keep this lower in fat, use fat-free

Happy Heart Healthy eating!

♥ TCW

*I was compensated for this post, however all opinions expressed are completely my own.

**I shared this post on the following sites:
Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
Real Food Forager
Growing Home
Learning the Frugal Life
Beauty & Bedlam
Kelly the Kitchen Kop
The Tasty Alternative
Lady Behind the Curtain
We are that family
Diary of a stay at home Mom
Miz Helen's Country Kitchen
Pennywise Platter Thursday
Tasty Traditions
Food Renegade
Ann Kroeker. Writer.
Food Trip Friday
Tidy Mom
Little House in the Suburbs
The Finer Things
Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
Delightfully Dowling






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January 21, 2013

Pinspiration {Tom Ka Soup by An Urban Cottage}

Via




































I mentioned on Facebook a little while ago that I had been not only pinning things onto my Pinterest boards but actually trying them!  Yay me.  This delicious soup is one of them!

Hello tangy, tasty, veggie filled soup.  This is soup-er delicious and easy to make (ah, see what I did there?  I know.  I'm sorry).  You can also use whatever veggies you would like.  I didn't use baby corn because I didn't have any on hand.  I did use zucchini and green beans.  I did not cut pretty carrots.  I'm not that fancy.  The veggies stay nice and fresh in this soup since you only blanch them.  The broth has a nice sour-y taste; I did add a tablespoon of brown sugar per An Urban Cottage's suggestion in order to balance the sour.  Click the link below the photo to get to the recipe at An Urban Cottage.

And then go make this soup-er soup.

The end.


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January 15, 2013

Cycling, doping and jackassery: Lance Confesses

Let me start out with an apology for my language here.  I'm going to be using some "language" in this post.  I understand not everyone appreciates a potty mouth so I think its fair to put a warning up front.  That said, in my opinion, certain words are just the best words to use when describing things.  Now lets get started, shall we?

I'll just come out and say it.  I think Lance Armstrong is a jackass.

So Lance finally admitted to doping.  Good job Lance.  Seriously.  It's better than never admitting it I suppose. But don't you think you could have done it prior to posting twitpics like this?


You may remember I've written about Lance before.  And, although I don't feel like I was backing him in one way or another, I still think he had some good points at the time he decided he would no longer challenge the USADA.  I also still stick to my original notion that the USADA needs to change their processes in charging and pursuing athletes for doping.

But since then, a whole bunch other stuff has been made public and a whole bunch of other things have happened.  And, although I purposely failed to state my position the last time I wrote about Lance, I'll admit now that I always leaned toward the notion that he probably was doping....and so it seems he was.

The thing is, as a PR brained person (fun fact: my degree is actually in PR), it surprises me that Lance actually continued to lie after all of the other things came out and did stuff as dumb as tweeting that picture.  From a PR perspective, up until the release of the USADA's release of "overwhelming evidence" against Lance and then his ultimate confession, the dude was a PR dream come true.  He's good looking, well spoken (even on the fly and in the face of negativity), successful and doing major charity work, among many other things.  It was easy to believe him and sometimes even root for him.

And then the evidence surfaced.

Now at this point, if Lance wanted to keep up his PR cred, he should have done one of two things:
  1. Take a big dose of shut the hell up.  Sit back, be quiet and only be seen doing damn good things.  Then later in life, after the dust has settled, re-emerge as a good dude; OR, 
  2. Admit it.  Just freaking admit it.  Say you're sorry, and then later in life, after the dust has settled, re-emerge as a good dude.
But instead, something else happened....the jackass Lance emerged.  Don't get me wrong, it has been present in the past, but now it just seems to be inevitably clear.  Lance is just a jackass.  To me, the most damage he's done to his career has happened in the last six months.  It's not the actual doping that will ultimately hurt Lance, it is his overwhelming efforts to continuously lie about it, even after the evidence surfaced.  People don't like liars.

Now, I highly doubt his PR people were directing him to keep lying and tweet pictures like the one above.  If they were, Mr. Armstrong, you should fire them.  What's more likely I think, is that Lance the jackass still felt like he was untouchable even after the evidence surfaced.  So he just kept lying.

In cycling, just like the NFL, MLB and NBA there are athletes that dope.  It is the shameful non-secret of (what now seems like) all sports.  Lance, pretty much like everyone else, got caught up.  But then it seems, old Lance just got too big for his britches.  He thought nobody could bring him down.  I think he may have even believed himself.  In the process of this, he became the ultimate jackass.  Maybe it was the glow of all those yellow jersey's that blinded Lance.  Who knows?

But.  While I sit calling Lance a jackass, there is a twinge that says I also feel sorry for him.  I mean, this really could have happened to any cyclist.....or maybe not.  Because at the same time that I feel that twinge, I remember who we're talking about and I go back to thinking that Lance is just a jackass.

Either way, I think Lance waited too long to eat his piece of humble pie.  His apology and admittance definitely should have come before that tweet and picture.  It certainly should have come sooner than yesterday. So where does this leave Lance?  Time will tell.  But I think later in life, after the dust has settled, Lance could re-emerge as a good dude.  As long as he stops being a jackass.




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January 14, 2013

Books of Late #2



The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

Is it possible to really love and be disappointed by a book at the same time?  I suppose if it is true in life it can be true in reading.  I don't want to discourage anyone from reading this book; the visual imagery you get is outstanding and the imaginative plot is great.  It was the ending that disappointed me.  I felt like there were loose ends that were not tied up that should have been.  Couldn't we learn Mr. A.H-'s whole name? This is book is a rare instance in which I think the movie version will be better.






Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer

I personally think Jon Krakauer is a great writer.  Into the Wild is one of my favorite books of all time.  One that I keep and re-read.  The story is intriguing, haunting and sad.  I still wonder if Christopher McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp was brilliant or crazy or both.  In any case, he was brave.  His story is definitely worth reading.  It should also be noted that Krakauer changed his theory regarding Christopher's death after the book was published.  The movie version of this book is also outstanding, but seriously, read the book too.







Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

This book grabbed me instantly and I couldn't put it down, for that, it's worth reading.  I also liked her style of writing.  However, I was not thrilled with the outcome of the story.  I just kept thinking, "really?....like really?".  I might be alone in this boat, as this book as received rave reviews.  That said, I haven't really heard a full opinion of what others thought of the ending....please feel free to comment here.  If they make a movie of this book (it looks like this will happen), I'll be curious to see if they change the ending.







What are your books of late?



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January 8, 2013

Too cute not to share....

Sometimes I see things and I think, "what a brilliant idea!".  Which is usually followed by, "why didn't I think of that?".

This Pregnancy Journal is one of those things...

 

Seriously.  What an adorable idea (and a great gift idea for any of your prego friends or family members).

Have a fab day!
TCW


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January 7, 2013

A few good things to start out the year....

Happy New Year everyone!  I know we're a week in but I'm still trying to get my barrings.
Anyone else with me on that?

My New Year's Eve morning started out with a good thing...


....this bottle of champagne on my porch from my awesome neighbors.  This seriously put a smile on my face.  It's nice to be surrounded by nice people.  Thank you neighbors! {You know who you are!}

This was followed by greeting The Cyclist at the airport after he'd been gone for 5 days.  Yet another good thing.

We then lickety-split headed up to Tahoe to spend NYE with good friends and good food.





If you don't have any friends from New Mexico, you should find some.  It means pozole and tamales.  That is a good thing.

Oh yes, the dogs got to join us too.  Good things all around.


We even made it to midnight!  This is a true feat for us over 30 peeps.


Waking up to Tahoe snow and sun is a good thing.



 A nice breakfast followed by a walk with the doggies is good too.


Luna thinks so.


Morning sun and a new camera is a good thing. {Thank you honey!}



After our morning walk, The Cyclist and I headed up for a view of Donner Lake before heading home.



I hope the start of this year is a sign of things to come.

Happy New Year to you!
TCW


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January 3, 2013

Friends and Hair

Don't you love a good friend?  I do.  You should check out my post over at De la Muse today.



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