Writer’s Block

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(Source unknown. Seriously, this image is all over the web.)

I’ve been eating very simply for the past couple of weeks:

I’ve written about most of these lighter meals already. See salad 1, salad 2, salad 3, salad 4, salad 5

I’m trying to keep a weekly writing schedule, but summer is not a great time for variety or heavy preparation, so don’t be alarmed if I skip a week now and then.

I’m still here, enjoying your fabulous posts!

🙂

Back On the Water

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After a long, hard, winter of gazing longingly at every body of water, trying to evoke seasonal change by sheer force of will, boating season has finally arrived.

One thing I like about leisurely kayaking is that I’ve been able to do it while my weight fluctuated up, down, and all around. The same goes for my fitness level. Basically, if I can fit inside and my health is reasonably good, I can do it. Plus, you know, fresh air!

Since this is more or less a food blog, I figured I’d share with you some of the snacks I’ve packed over the years. Please note, I did not receive compensation of any kind for mentioning the products I chose. Also, keep in mind that I am not an athlete, just a person who appreciates a good snack.

I’ve always been at least slightly aware of the need for protein- hence the cheese, but what I’ve found is that with experience, I naturally migrated over to healthier foods. I can tell you that it has made a difference. Weighing less at the start of the season this year has meant that so far, it’s been easier. In the past, I’ve gained weight nearly every summer. I’m really only 5 pounds lighter than I was at the start of last season- but I am about 10 pounds from what I was at the end of the season, and that is the difference that I felt at first blush.

It is easy to see the culprits early on- overly processed food and too much junk food. But, the trend continued even as late as last year. Perhaps I was drinking too many supplements. The ones I use are food-based, rather than amino acid based, from what I remember. I tried the other kind, but ugh, acid regurge!

I also remember being ravenously hungry after a run in the past. The first few years, I would chow down when I got home, even if I’d just eaten. Then, I tried Gatorade. Then, supplements. I’ve only gone a couple of times so far this season, but I wasn’t hungry afterwards. Some of this might have to do with the fact that I don’t stay out as long. These days, I’d rather do shorter trips and be able to go back again sooner, without needing a few days’ rest for my aching muscles. There’s something to be said for learning from experience.

Snack Time:

  • I started with cheese sandwiches on white bread with potato chips. I now bring a small insulated bag with an ice block. I did not do this originally. That’s a lot of melted cheese on squished bread.
  • I still pack a little cheese, but now it’s usually string cheese or these. It keeps better, but does still melt a little.
  • I always packed plenty of water and I still do. (This goes without saying, but never drink alcohol while boating. You never know when you might need your full coordination).
  • I used to pack junk food sometimes: Devil Dogs & those little snack containers of Cheez-Its/Oreos/Chips Ahoy (which I re-used).
  • The Gatorade years.
  • Some people pack nuts. I can’t do this and would prefer that others did not. Otherwise, don’t think I’m antisocial if I won’t linger around talking to you. In place of nuts, sunflower seeds are good.
  • Protein powders. There are really only a couple that are safe for me.
    • Apparently, this one is vegan. I forgot. It *does* act as a diuretic for me, just FYI. I used to drink this every time I came home. Now, I drink it whenever I need a protein boost- certain flavors only, due to allergies.
    • This is the brand of energy powder I use, but not all of the products are safe for me. I liked using them, and brought multiple pre-filled bottles in the past. But, these also are a major diuretic for me, which can be terribly inconvenient when you are out on the water. I’m out of them right now, but this season, I will probably cut back to one drink per run.
  • Chickpea snacks. Love them. Haven’t had them in a while. I am pretty sure these are the ones I used to get.
  • I love these snap pea and lentil crisps too, but don’t take them out because they are so fragile. A solid container would work fine for them, though.
  • I’m currently going through a Triscuit and hummus phase. This is extending into the rest of my life as well. Some hummus triggers a reaction, (I’m looking at you, Sabra!), some doesn’t.
    • These are handy little travel hummus packages. I like the garlic & red pepper flavors.
  • I’ve packed apples, but don’t really like dealing with leftover apple core. In the car, this wasn’t as big a deal. I’m sure it’s just a mental thing. My new thing is baby carrots, which also work with the hummus.

Hope this gives you some ideas! Enjoy your summer! 🙂

Road Trip Round-up

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Road-tripping can be a challenge for anyone, but it’s particularly challenging bringing food allergies along for the ride. Add to that a vegetarian requirement, a budget requirement, and an overall desire for healthier choices, and it can seem insurmountable. I have not traveled with children, so I can’t speak to that challenge. But, here are my thoughts on road-tripping for two, based on our more successful moments. As always, you are responsible for your own safety.

Road-tripping in general:

1. Take shorter trips before a longer one. Prior to our most recent multi-day trip, we had taken several day-long road trips. We had also been camping together. Know the other person well, because you are going to be in a confined space together for hours on end. Account for the possibility that at least one of you might be overtired and cranky at any given time.

2. Bring something fun for the passenger. The license plate game is our perennial favorite, followed by travel bingo. I also take lots of pictures.

3. Bring a pillow, blanket, and possibly earplugs & an eye mask for the passenger to take a nap. I also brought my U-shaped travel pillow. You’d be surprised what a difference these creature comforts make.

4. Bring your favorite music. Be open to music you would otherwise not listen to if you plan on listening to the radio. We had an unexpected but delightful 70s interlude at one point.

5. Make sure your vehicle has been checked out by a mechanic, and spring for the best emergency auto-assistance plan you can afford. Have some sort of emergency funding available, even if you think you will never need it. You don’t know what the road has in store, and it’s best to be prepared.

Eating in motion:

1. The number one thing that works for us on any road trip is bringing a small cooler full of fresh food. At least on the way there, we are guaranteed something safe & satisfying. If you are able to, re-filling on the way home is highly recommended. We don’t always refill, but the times we have were so much better. You don’t want to be making food choices at odd hours of the evening. At least I don’t, because at that point, I will pretty much eat anything.

2. Don’t count on healthy choices being readily available. Yes, I saw bananas and apples more than I expected, but they were often more expensive than the easily found day-old hotdogs.

3. Bring fruit and vegetables. I had a large container of leftover salad that would have otherwise gone bad. I brought my camping utensils & a small bottle of dressing and had lunch in the passenger seat. I could feel the difference between this and my carb-laden choices on previous trips. Just make sure your salad is travel-friendly: no mushy stuff like sliced tomatoes. Grape tomatoes work better. I used diced Quorn cutlets for protein. Orange slices in their own container were also a great snack, and apples travel pretty well, too.

4. You will probably want snacks at some point. Even the healthiest among us needs a little treat now and then. If you pack healthier snacks, you lessen your chances of reaching for the powder-coated tortilla chips that seem to pop up everywhere. We brought veggie straws and popcorn for treats. There was also one chocolate rice confection that wasn’t even eaten until the ride home.

5. Stopping to stretch and have a meal: totally advisable if you don’t have allergies, a personal decision if you do. We did stop, and I was fine.

The Allergies:

This is one area where I cannot and will not advise you. I’m not a Doctor. I’m not even a good example. But, here’s how I handle it:

1. I mostly eat food from home, but when I do buy convenience store food, I choose something that seems relatively safe- like fruit, or I stick with foods that have been safe in the past. There are plenty of people that can’t do this, and it isn’t actually in my best interest, either. For example, with a nut allergy: the person handling the fruit could have just eaten a package of nuts. Foods that were once safe can easily not be, due to changes in the manufacturing process or cross-contamination. The point is, you can never be sure, which leads me to #2…

2. I always pack my medication. So far, every attack I’ve had has been treatable with OTC medication. But, that does not mean it’s something I can count on. The first time I had a full-blown attack, I didn’t even know I was allergic to the food in question- just that it had made my throat itchy in the past. The severity of an allergic reaction can change over time. I always make sure that others know where my medication and medical information is.

3. I know that I cannot control my exposure entirely. There are factors that cannot be planned for. For example, I planned to the best of my ability, and then had to walk past my allergen on the way to some random bathroom in the middle of nowhere. Any time I venture out, I have to face the possibility of a medical emergency, but I also don’t want to stop living my life. I am lucky that I can actually make this choice. There are plenty of others who cannot.

Garlic Knots

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I’ve professed my love for garlic knots before on this blog. Unfortunately, those garlic knots, while delicious, came from a galaxy far, far away, and were thus unable to satisfy my immediate craving.

I did a little research and came upon two pretty workable recipes: this one and this one. Despite famous chef’s famous reputation, I wasn’t crazy about the layout of the first recipe. I referred to the second one for its visuals and options.

Over time, I’ve come to appreciate anything that makes a recipe more accessible to an everyday audience. Lately, it has become even more important that I am able to create meals based on what’s around. If something’s worth it, in the future, I will likely seek it out. But if I can’t make it from what I have lying around, right now, I’m just not interested.

I’m also modifying less as I find more recipes that are workable as written. I already have a pizza dough recipe that I like (KitchenAid manual shout-out). I mostly used that recipe for these knots and a pizza. For the knots, there was a flour mixture I stored months ago that I started with. I then continued on, as per the recipe. I also overheated the warm water before mixing it into the yeast. Consequently, the relative lack of rise in the knots compared to the rise in the pizza is noticeable.

(Updated pizza post next week, but for now, check out the older version!)

As far as the choosing your own adventure aspect went, on the whole it was successful. But, as with those books, there is always curiosity about the road not taken. I used parchment paper to line the cookie sheets, which meant the bottom of the knots were darker and crispier than the tops. The other option is to grease the sheets, which I may try next time. I didn’t have a pastry brush handy, so I went a little overboard with the olive oil. The toppings were very similar, though one recipe suggested Pecorino Romano, which I love, but didn’t have, so I substituted with Parmesan in a base of faux butter and frozen parsley.

When knotting them, I went for half-sizing the pieces. I’m not sure if I will go that route next time or not. …Must leave some decisions for later, you know…

Best Enjoyed Fresh! 🙂

Wordless Wednesday: Camp Veggies

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Broccoli. Grilled onion. Grilled zucchini. Yum! 🙂

Peppers and Blogiversary!

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I made these. They were awesome.

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And look!:

anniversary-2xHappy Anniversary with WordPress.com!

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Can you believe it’s been a year already? WOW!

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Have a wonderful week! 🙂

Rosemary and Cheese Bagel

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Like I said, quick and easy this time of year.

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Rosemary and Cheese Bagel

Utensils:

A pair of scissors

An oven

A cake pan

Cooking spray

Aluminum foil

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Ingredients:

Dried rosemary leaves, to taste

4 slices American cheese

Nutritional Yeast to taste, not too much

Gouda to taste

Pecorino Romano to taste, not too much

(Did I add Italian Seasoning? Let’s just say I did.)

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Directions:

1. Preheat oven to Broil/HI if electric. If not, hopefully you can figure it out. Regular broilers are tricky. This would take far less time under one of those, and could easily burn, so be careful. You should also find another way to set these up instead of using a cake pan.

2. Line your cake pan with foil and spray it. Slice your bagel carefully, and place in pan. Then, place one slice of American cheese over each half.

3. Dice your Gouda. Set little piles on top of each bagel.

4. Sprinkle nutritional yeast, Pecorino Romano, and cut up rosemary leaves on Gouda.

5. Place one slice of American cheese over each bagel. Add Italian seasoning to top, sparingly.

6. Place in oven for about 5 minutes or less. Switch to LOW when needed. This only took about 5 minutes to cook when I did it.

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Enjoy! 🙂

Celebration Roast

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently was lucky enough to catch this nifty product on sale. I’m sure my readers also know by now that my wee little blog does not receive sponsorship of any kind, and if this ever changes, I’ll be forthright about it. Funny thing about Field Roast, though, I’m not sure they actually *would* request my opinion on their own.

I recently read an interview where they claimed they’re not actually positioning their products for vegetarians, but rather, for those omnivores who just like to switch it up. (At least, that’s what I got from reading it). In this interview, they also said they’d never make faux bacon, which broke my little seitan-loving heart, since I’m allergic to the soy based crap, er, products, that Morningstar produces. The justification for the omnivorous approach is their correct assumption that most vegetarians are interested in the health aspects of what they eat. They state with a refreshing honesty that their products are not particularly healthy, but taste good.

As someone who was formerly teased for being the most unhealthy vegetarian on the planet, I can say while that while many vegetarians go for the healthy approach, not all do, and not all the time. Some vegetarians have trouble figuring out the ins and outs of the diet at first. In my opinion, better to offer them seitan than have them eating cheese fries every night.

This time of year, I don’t always have the time to linger in the kitchen, or even to prep food ahead of time like I usually do. Having a little seitan around keeps me from reverting to the frozen pizza option, and actually offers some protein my body can use. I discovered Field Roast right before my camping trip this summer, and so we ended up taking the faux hot dogs, the faux Italian sausage, and the faux lunchmeat slices (the reddish ones, I forget the flavor). All three were the perfect compliment to my partner’s meat-based selections, and we were easily able to share the rest of the sandwich components like bread, lettuce, and the like. It was also fantastic to have this protein in my system for a very active vacation. I was kayaking, walking, swimming, and I even tried a short zipline! Knowing that I get easily tuckered out without a proper diet, we consciously made an effort to ensure I had enough protein in my system to enjoy myself. When I returned home, I tried the mushroom slices, and then, the Celebration Roast pictured above. Everything I’ve tried, I’ve liked so far.

I first microwaved the Celebration Roast. It’s fine microwaved, because, as they state, it’s already cooked, you are essentially reheating it. Once I got mid-loaf (about midweek), I tried frying it, and obviously, I enjoyed that even more. It’s also fine right out of the fridge. The closer it got to Xmas, the more I needed quick but good, and this fit the bill. And now that the Celebration Roast is finished, it’s time to celebrate!

Happy Holidays! 🙂