Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I have posted quite a few times about my personal opinions on Soy.  My best friend, JEM, sent me a link to an article tonight about the dangers of soy.   I can't express how steamed reading the article made me!!  For years my friends and I have commented on the higher rate of allergies in kids and how it never used to be as prevalent as it is today.  Read the article....it explains it ALL as far as I'm concerned!

I may post more opinions tomorrow, but for now I need to get to bed!


Energy bars...activity....nutrition.......

I'm pretty sure I posted about this some time ago (probably last year) when I was looking at energy/nutrition bars for cycling.  What prompted me to write again about it?   A new product I happened to see mentioned in comments on an on-line article.  It was a Yahoo article about energy bars, and someone mentioned a bar by Active Health Foods.  Never one to take someone else's word regarding anything, I went and checked them out myself. 

They are called ActiveX Bars, and they sound and look great.  They come in four flavors: Almond Chocolate Delight, Cashew Berry Dream, Coconut Cocoa Passion, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Joy.  They are also all-natural, non-gmo, soy-free, organic, vegan, kosher, gluten-free and raw.  Some of those attributes matter more to me than others, but wanted to list them all anyway. 

I'm kind of excited about them and am going to order a variety pack from the website linked above.  They don't seem too much different than the other assorted bars that I was eating last season.  And, truthfully...I think I was starting to get a little bored of the same ones over and over last year.

Here are the bars that I was eating last year: ProBar Meal, Bonk Breaker, and That'sIt! Fruit bars.  I used them in a variety of situations as I felt my they met my needs while cycling.  Like everyone, I have my favorite flavors of each brand.  I also read the labels everytime...some of the ProBar's have soy and some don't, so I only buy the ones that don't.  I am also considering keeping them in the refrigerator this summer (or just not buying so many ahead)...towards the end of the riding season I was finding that some were on their way to going bad when I opened the package. 

I'll have to figure out how many a week I'll be eating and tailor my purchasing around that.  To start I'm going to get a small variety of all of them.  I received almost $32 in REI Dividends Bucks so that will go a good way towards the initial purchase.  I am hoping to find stores to buy them all in, in order to avoid ordering them online.  The fruit bars were getting tough to find last fall, but had the best luck with Whole Foods.  I was able to find the ProBars and Bonk bars at REI and Whole Foods.  Hopefully I'll be able to find the ActiveX in stores too.  There are some 'health food' stores around my area that I can call and see if they carry them.

I put a little comparison chart together comparing the different brands and thought I'd share it.  I didn't compare the Fruit bars, because those are basically just pure carbs, and I mostly use them at the beginning of a ride and when I need a carb boost.

  ActiveX ProBar Bonk Bar
Calories 240 390 250
Fat (g) 12 22 9
Carbs (g) 24 43 35
Protein (g) 8 10 8


Friday, April 12, 2013

I'm itching!!!!!!

To go camping!!!!!!!!!!  Haha!

For the past many many years, I have sworn I was not going camping over a holiday weekend.  However...I may change my mind this year.  See....4th of July is on a Thursday.  My idea is to go camping a few days before and stay through Sunday.  Even if I can't get the Friday off of work, the campground is only about 40min away from where I work - not bad at all!

The last time I went camping over a holiday weekend I did a cookout and a bunch of people came.  We had more food than I can even remember, but I do know the picnic table was COVERED end to end in food!  It was me, my mom, my dog, Muffin and her family and a few other friends of the family.  I started thinking that I'd like to do that again, and invite anyone who wants to come.  Obviously I'll need to know ahead of time so I have enough food - otherwise they are welcome to bring whatever they want with them!

Here's a preliminary list of what I have thought of so far:
  • Hamburgers/Cheeseburgers
  • Hot dogs
  • Keilbasa
  • BBQ Chicken
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Pasta Caprese Salad (found on Food Network)
  • Roasted Potatoes (yes, this is possible on a Weber grill!)
  • Baked Beans
  • Chips
  • Salsa/Dip
  • Homemade cookies/brownies (or both!) for dessert
It might sound like a lot, but I think a fair amount of it can be done ahead of time before I leave home.  My plan is to get a reservation for Tuesday through Monday.  I'll actually be leaving on Sunday, but this way I can have the whole day to pack up and not rush to be out by 11am.  Hey...at $12/nt it's well worth it!  It's nice that the campground is so close to where I work, cause I'll be going after work on Tuesday to set up, and then going to work on Wednesday. 

So....reservations will be made on Monday (when I have the $$ to pay for them, lol)!  Yay!!!!!

I do plan on doing some weekend trips before 4th of July, but haven't planned those yet, lol.  Those may end up spur of the moment anyway, rather than planned out ahead of time.

Happy Camping!

It's getting to be that time of year again......

..........biking and camping season!

Here in New England we have been teased with some nice weather on and off the last week or two.  Just enough to make me wish spring/summer were here to stay.  It also makes me want to go camping and biking :)

I have been thinking about the biking the last few days and started making a list of what I need to get done to be able to go riding.  I was looking at a sunrise/sunset time table yesterday and it appears as though it will be light enough in the morning to start riding before work again around the end of April.  That may be good or bad, lol.  To start with I'll only have about a half hour to ride before I have to shower and get to work.  That's probably good, since my plan of doing the elliptical all winter kind of fizzled after about a week or so.  It's just more fun to ride outside!

Today, during my lunch break, I wrote up a to-do list to get things ready:
  • Get the bike tuned-up
  • Check the condition of my Camelbak pack (it sat in the garage all winter - oops)
  • Find and buy a flashing red light for my helmet
  • Purchase a reflective vest at IKEA to wear over my pack and me
  • Wash ALL the biking clothes, since I'm not sure what did and didn't get washed at the end of last year (again....oops!)
  • Order a decent supply of Emergen-C Electro Mix
  • Purchase a variety of Pro Bars and ThatsIt! Fruit bars
That might be everything, but I may have forgotten some stuff too.  I'm sure I'll find out when I start doing it all :)  If you're wondering about the red flashing light and the reflective vest.....my plans are to start out riding just before sunrise in order to maximize the amount of time I can ride before work.  I noticed last year that it was light enough to ride approximately 15min before the published sunrise time, so that's the time I am planning to head out in the morning.  The light and vest are so that cars can see me and not hit me, lol.

My goals for the riding season are to ride Tues-Friday mornings, and at least one longer ride on the weekend.  I have been staying at Wolf's on the weekends, so riding Monday morning just isn't practical.  He sometimes works on Saturdays, so I plan to go riding when he does.  If he's not working, we'll see what our plans look like.  There's a bike shop not far from where he lives, and I think they sponsor rides....so I'm going to go check that out too and see what they have for a map of bike paths/streets in the area, since I don't normally ride up there.  There's a great path that is fairly long, I'm just not sure how to get to it from Wolf's place, lol. 

See you on the road!

Cooking adventures.....

So, I've tried making some new/different things lately.  Some have turned out good the first time....other's not so much, lol.

Peanut Crusted Chicken:

I got this recipe from my Weight Watchers leader at one of my meetings. Her version was Pecan-Crusted Chicken, but I don't like pecans. I LOVE pistachios and was planning to use those, but had peanuts on hand at home, so used them instead.

The chicken was brushed with a mixture of balsamic vinegar and honey, then coated with crushed Wheat Chex and chopped/crushed peanuts.  I crushed the cereal in a ziplock bag and a glass, and the peanuts I put into a coffee grinder (I use if for everything EXCEPT coffee, haha).  I baked the chicken at 425 for about 15-20 minutes.  I used thin chicken breast cutlets, but if you used regular chicken breasts, you would have to cook it longer I presume.

These were great!  I did eat them the night I made them, but heated them up in the oven the next day (so the coating would be crispy again).  They would be much better eaten the same day they are cooked.  The coating was a bit damp under the chicken after re-heating.  I am going to try it with pistachios next, and I'll try turning them over half way through cooking to see if that helps.

Chocolate Chip Peppermint Cookies:

These were absolutely fantastic!  Then again...I love peppermint!  They were very easy to make also.  I made the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe and added 1/8th tsp of peppermint oil to the dough before stirring in the chocolate chips.  Baked them according to the recipe.  I use a portion scoop to scoop out the dough and got about 7-8 dozen cookies I think.

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge:

Do you notice a pattern here?  Let's just say it was a very stressful week(s) at work and I wanted chocolate, lol.   The fudge was great. 

I don't remember which recipe I used, but it had milk, sugar, and cocoa powder in it.  I heated it to boiling (stirring constantly), then turned the heat down and let it go to 238 degrees. 
Here it is boiling away on the stove:
Once it reached the proper temperature, I took it off the heat and stirred in vanilla extract (Neilssen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla) and 1/4tsp peppermint oil.  Let me tell you.....if you need to clear out your sinuses, put some peppermint oil into hot boiling liquid and stick your face over it. Oh my - they cleared instantly!  I then stirred the mixture until the fudge lost it's sheen.  I'm not sure if I stirred it long enough, the fudge wasn't the consistency I was expecting...although it tasted fantastic!
The recipe said to use an 8x8 square pan (buttered so the fudge doesn't stick), but I used a jelly roll pan instead.  I should have used the smaller pan, I would have gotten thicker fudge.
Here is it cooling in the pan:
I have been spirred on to make my own peppermint hard candies to keep on hand for when my sinuses clog up.  Will post about those when/if I make them.

Chicken Pad Thai:

Not all experiments can be a success, and this one wasn't....at least not at first.

I found this recipe for chicken pad thai the other week and decided to try to make it, but with some substitutions.  First, I used rice noodles instead of linquine.  Second, I used green onions instead of cilantro.  Third, I made a soy-sauce substitute to use (go here to read about my issues with soy).  I also eliminated the fish sauce, for the same reason as the soy and used the substitute in place of that.  Fourth, I omitted the tofu (soy) and added more chicken.

It was bland.  It was not appetizing at all.  I added some spaghetti sauce to a portion and that didn't help either.  I was dissappointed and put the rest (it made A LOT) in the fridge to figure out later.

The next day at work, I came up with the idea of making some kind of asian-inspired sauce for it.  So when I got home, I combed through the cupboards and fridge and found the following that said 'asian' flavors to me:
Honey, peanut butter, steak sauce, sweet chili sauce, balsamic vinegar
I admit, the steak sauce sounds weird.  I was going to use Worcestershire sauce, but Wolf is allergic to fish and if this turned out good he would be eating it this weekend, and it's made from fermented sardines.  So, I used steak sauce instead.

I can't tell you how much of each I used, cause I didn't really measure it.  I put a dollop of peanut butter (1-2T), about a teaspoon of honey, then just poured a little bit of the rest of the stuff in.  I heated the peanut butter and honey first so it would be liquid-y.  I mixed it all in a measuring cup, and then added enough of the soy-sauce substitute to thin it down.

I then heated the wok, and put some olive oil in it.  I drained the 'old' pad thai (it had gotten watery) in a colander while I made up the sauce and heated the wok.  Then put the pad thai in the hot oil and stirred it around to dry it up and get rid of the moisture.  Then I poured the sauce on it and mixed it up. 

I hesitantly tried a bite and it was GOOD!  Not pad thai, but it was good anyway.  I am bringing it to Wolf's this weekend so I made a little more of the sauce to use when we heat it up.

I admit it doesn't look like much, it doesn't have much color, but it's good.  The sauce is amazing!  I also realized I should have bought the wider egg noodles rather than these kind, but oh well.  Next time!

Stay tuned for more cooking adventures :)